1724 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Richard Savage

Aaron Hill to Richard Savage, 1724; in European Magazine 6 (October 1784) 278.



I had heard from three or four several persons, that you spoke publickly of your Plain Dealer in my hands, and expressed much uneasiness under apprehension that I should correct it; insisting that it should have no alteration made in it, and abundance to that purpose.

I was the more surprised at this, because you had actually desired me to change some things in it: but whether you had or me, what reason could there be for a public discourse of this kind? — Was I to be represented as a person so conceited as to be fond of obtruding my correction on other people's writings, whether they desired it or no? Had it not been more prudent to say nothing of the paper in company; but, communicating your opinion to me, have depended on my acting with that secrecy that a friend is worth nothing who will not always distinguish himself by? Believe me, Sir, the Italian maxim, of "an open face, but lock'd bosom," is a lesson which will be always worth your remembering.

It would give you much pleasure (because it would give you much advantage) if I could see you once cured of this, too trifling propensity to talk, among one set of your acquaintance, what is done, said, and intended, by another set of them.

I so heartily wish you well, that I cannot help being uneasy for you in these points, which could have no pretence to give me pain, but from the part I take in what relates to your interest, or your character. It is pity to see your shining qualities made obscure, by a want of power or heed to retain what ought not to be communicated.

I return your Plain Dealer, because you desire it; and, indeed, because I shall very little concern myself in the future progress of that paper.

However, I will take this opportunity of giving you my true and friendly opinion — Your paper has a great deal of spirit and wit in it, and wants only a little transposition and purity of stile to make it an excellent performance — Yet without that care you could not publish it, but to your disadvantage; and for fear you should think me in the wrong, I will give you two or three instances of it.