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To Mr. Millar
31 July, 1750

Dear Sir,

Being loth to put the new Edition of Night-Thoughts to Press without your full Approbation, I inclose a Proof.[2] But it is only a Proof, and will not appear so well, as when it comes to be wrought. I have put a Line more in each Page, than in the little Edition you have with you; but it will not bear 2 Lines. This Edition must be greatly preferable to the Scotish one,[3] as the Latter is a Size larger, and quite fire-new, as we call it.[4]

What I mentioned the new 8vo Edition[5] for, was only to know, whether it was composed from the Twelves,[6] that I might take my Reading from it. I pretend not to absolute Infallibility, and the Compositor does not always mend what is marked.[7] But I corrected several things (and some gross Faults) in the former Edition, which makes me think the Twelves a tolerably correct Edition.

I have put, as you’ll see, the Word Complaint in Sm Capitals, which I think neater, to make room for the Number of the Night.[8] And as Mr. Hughes’s Edition[9] now printing has the Subject of the Night-Thought, and has your Approbation, and I think justly, I follow his, rather than the Scotish Edition, in each right-hand Page, in the Running-Titles; and I flatter myself; that the Inscriptive Page of every Night will look as well as possible, to be crouded into so small a Page, and even to more Advantage than it does in the 8vo. But of these things you will be Judge.[10]

The Paper I think is a very good one: Mr. Strahan procured it,[11] the same as that he is using for you on another Work: So that has had your Approbation. That, as well as the Print, will look still better, when it comes to be wrought upon. You will in the Binding give Orders for it to be as little cut as possible; and then it will look still better, and be a more sizeable Volume than the pirated one.

And thus much for Business, after I have added, that Mr. Skelton’s Work is begun No 2000,[12] I think, you design; as No 3000 for the Night-Thoughts?[13]

And now, How do you All do?—How does our little Boy?[14]—I am most concerned for him, well as I love the Ladies also;[15] first, Because he has not been very well; and next, Because, poor little Man! he must do in every thing as his Mamma and his Aunt please. No Will of his own!—’Tis true, he may have a very great Chance of doing extremely well under such Care; and must, if we measure his Benefit by their very great and indulgent Love for him. But I hope in God you will have no Trial for that (however, very laudable) Resignation, which you mention. I did not hear Dr. Young’s Remark.[16] I am sure he meant well. But I should have been sorry to havepage: 2 heard it; where Fear was so much awake, and Hope often, in you all Three, so very moderate. Could I provoke Mrs. Millar’s Anger, yet be sure of her Forgiveness, I would wish him a Boy rather than a Girl!—The dear Infant is but young.[17] But I wish him, for that very Reason, more robust than I see him likely to be.

Yet the Reed, in some Cases, by bowing with the Storm, will stand, when the Oak will be torn up by the Roots.[18]

Provoke Mrs. Millar’s Anger! methinks I hear her repeat: That he may pretty easily do, if he is so unfriendly as to design it. I am so unfriendly. Absalom, you know, could not procure a Visit from Prime-Minister Joab in his Banishment, till he set his Field of Wheat on Fire. Then posted Joab to him to know the Reason of it.[19] I would make Mrs. Millar angry, to provoke her to tell me she is so, by her Pen. Pray don’t you tell me so for her. That shall not serve. When I parted with them at Welwyn,[20] I would not have thought, that I had so much misbehaved myself. to the Two Sisters, as that they would not think me worthy of one Line from either. But nothing do I wish for, that comes grudgingly, or unchearfully. Let them not write, if their Hearts go not with their Pens. My Friendship for them goes farther than mere Ceremony.

Methinks I should be glad to say a great deal to them. But they must consider, that I am a Flint: A good deal of Fire is in me: But there must be a Steel to strike it out.[21] My Fire lies in my Head: Their Steel (as by recent Instances) in their Hearts: Why will they not strike?—But this as they please. If Men are excessively forward, Women will hold back. And my Courting-Days have been long over.

On my Return from Welwyn, I found a Letter (the first he ever wrote me) from a certain Gentleman, Member of Parliament for a certain City.[22] I have been very uncivil; having not yet answered it. Indeed I knew not what to write. Could I have found fault with him, he had quickly had a Letter. The Gentleman and the Friend are uppermost in it. Resentment there is, couched, but hardly expressed. So gentle, so —, I am sure every-body would have been pleased with it. Shall I say, without derogating from the Value of any other Man, that this Gentleman’s has not been duly considered?

But no more of this Subject. If I have said too much of it, the Ladies must be thanked for That. They could have found me a better; at least, one more to their own Liking.

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Be you all Healthy, Happy, and in every worthy Undertaking Prosperous, is the Wish of,

Dear Sir,
Your Affectionate and Faithful
Humble Servant,
S. Richardson
31 July, 1750.

I have drawn a Line before and after the Inscriptive Part of the Second Night. Please to let me have your Opinion, whether you like that on the Beginning of the First Night best. The Second is more distinct; and with more Space before and after the first Rule, after Complaint, will look still better.[23]

AHRC Millar Project