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OBTAINS THE CHANCELLOR'S PRIZE.
THE PRIZE ESSAY. LORD MONBODDO.
1780 to 1781.
In the year 1780, one of the Chancellor's prizes was adjudged to Mr. Burgess, for an Essay on the Study of Antiquities. Mr. Tyrwhitt refers to this event in the following letter:
TO MR. BURGESS.
I DID not intend to have written to you till I could send you notice of the departure of the books (by the frank acceptance of which you have obliged me very much); but I have been induced to alter my mind, by reading in the papers that one of the Chancellor's prizes for this year has been adjudged to you. Though distrustful, in general, of newspaper intelligence, I have a sort of inward persuasion that, in this case, they have told truth; and the warmth of my regard for you will not permit me to delay my congratulations till the fact can be better ascertained.
Having now my pen in hand, I will say a few words on some points in your last. As you will
give me no account of the Aristotle, I will tell you, that it is to be published next Saturday, at least so the editor has said, in a letter which I have seen, of his own writing, within this week.
You have seen much more of Lord Monboddo than I, who have only dined with him once, at the Archbishop of York's, where he did not open much of his philosophy, perhaps from the fault of his company. Mr. Harris's book I have long heard of. The subject, I should have thought, rather required a volume in folio, than a part only of a loosely printed octavo. However, I shall be glad to see it. I am always,
I HAVE at length dispatched to you the Greek folios of which I begged your acceptance, chius, Suidas, M. Pollux, Eustathius, Photius, and Athenæus; I wished to have added Stobæus, but I could not find a complete copy. As you are so fresh from the conversation of Lord Monboddo, I shall make no apology for obtruding a set of such rum gentry upon you.
I was happy to hear from yourself, that I had not been too credulous in the newspapers, when I
congratulated you upon your having obtained the Chancellor's prize. I shall be very glad to read your essay when you do me the favour to send it to
By your account of Dawes's MS., I should imagine that you are not likely to make much use of it. I will venture to suggest my private wishes, that nothing may be produced which would be disagreeable to Dr. Akenside, if he were now living. I had a considerable degree of intimacy with him for the last ten years of his life, and I consider him as Ανδρα, τον ουδ' αινειν εστι κακοισι θεμις• much less should I like to see published a satire upon him, written by Dawes in a passion. But I dare say he is very safe in your hands.
I am to go out of town next Tuesday, for three weeks or a month. I have some thoughts of calling at Oxford in my return, but I am afraid not
before you will have left it. and believe me always,
Adieu, my dear Sir,
Yours very sincerely,
Welbeck Street, 14th July, 1780.
TO THE SAME.
I HAVE notice of a parcel from Mr. Brunck, but what it contains I know not, as it must perform quarantine before it can be delivered.
I shall be happy to read your epistle, whenever
you think proper to send it. But I hope you do not mean to impose upon future critics any necessity of following your example, and prefacing their lucubrations with verses. How do you contrive to pursue, together, such different studies, criticism, poetry, etymology, Latin, Greek, and something which people spoke, or may be supposed to have spoken, before Latin and Greek?
I am obliged to you for your friend's imitations of Chaucer. After the reason which you have assigned for suppressing the tale, it would be impertinent to inquire further about it. As a friend of your friend, I must tell him, that there are some Chattertonianisms in his language which he must avoid in any future work, if he means to pass for Chaucer. A-propos to Chaucer, let me ask you what may seem an odd question, whether you have got a copy of my edition of the Canterbury Tales? My reason is, that there are very few left, and if you have not got one already, I would reserve one for you, as the book is not likely to be reprinted, and I should wish to have a copy deposited your hands.
I have just put out proposals for publishing, by subscription, two dissertations of the late Dr. Musgrave, one on the Grecian Mythology, and another on the Chronology of the Olympiads. He ordered them to be delivered to me, as I suppose, for this
Alluding to an epistle in Latin verse in the manner of Horace, intended to have been prefixed to the edition of Dawes.
purpose. I am therefore trying to raise what
I am, dear Sir,
A second edition of Mr. Burgess's prize Essay upon the Study of Antiquities was quickly called for, and published, with additions. His general object in this essay was, to give just ideas of the light reflected upon history and chronology, and upon ancient arts and manners, by antiquarian researches ; in particular, by the study of architecture and marbles, of coins and inscriptions, of old poetry and records. In the second part, he expatiated at considerable length upon the antiquities and the philosophy of language, and on the utility of etymological researches in the illustration of physics, metaphysics, and other sciences. This being a subject to which he had directed much attention, it is treated of at considerable length.
The Essay on Antiquities is the production of an elegant and ingenious mind, richly stored with classical images, and glowing with sensibility to the