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pleasure to observe that my coz, though not stand-|The whole kingdom can hardly furnish a spectaing on the pinnacle of renown quite so elevated, cle more pleasing to a man who has a taste for as that which lifts Mrs. Montagu to the clouds, true happiness, than himself, Mrs. C—, and falls in no degree short of her in this particular; their multitudinous family. Seven long miles are so that should she make you a member of her aca- interposed between us, or perhaps I should oftener demy, she will do it honour. Suspect me not of have an opportunity of declaiming on this subject. flattering you, for I abhor the thought; neither will you suspect it. Recollect that it is an invariable rule with me, never to pay compliments to those I love.
I am now in the nineteenth book of the Iliad, and on the point of displaying such feats of heroism performed by Achilles, as make all other achievements trivial. I may well exclaim, O! for Two days, en suite, I have walked to Gayhurst; a muse of fire! especially having not only a great a longer journey than I have walked on foot these host to cope with, but a great river also; much seventeen years. The first day I went alone, de- however may be done, when Homer leads the way. signing merely to make the experiment, and I should not have chosen to have been the original choosing to be at liberty to return at whatsoever author of such a business, even though all the nine point of my pilgrimage I should find myself fa- had stood at my elbow. Time has wonderful eftigued. For I was not without suspicion that fects. We admire that in an ancient, for which years, and some other things no less injurious we should send a modern bard to Bedlam. than years, viz. melancholy and distress of mind, I saw at Mr. C's a great curiosity; an anmight by this time have unfitted me for such tique bust of Paris in Parian marble. You will achievements. But I found it otherwise. I reach- conclude that it interested me exceedingly, I ed the church, which stands, as you know, in the pleased myself with supposing that it once stood garden, in fifty-five minutes, and returned in ditto in Helen's chamber. It was in fact brought from time to Weston. The next day I took the same the Levant, and though not well mended (for it walk with Mr. Powley, having a desire to show had suffered much by time) is an admirable perhim the prettiest place in the country. I not only formance. performed these two excursions without injury to my health, but have by means of them gained indisputable proof that my ambulatory faculty is not yet impaired; a discovery which, considering that to my feet alone I am likely, as I have ever been, to be indebted always for my transportation from place to place, I find very delectable.
You will find in the Gentleman's Magazine a sonnet addressed to Henry Cowper, signed T. H. I am the writer of it. No creature knows this but yourself; you will make what use of the intelligence you shall see good. W. C.
TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
TO LADY HESKETH
MY DEAR COZ,
The Lodge, May 27, 1788. THE General, in a letter which came yesterday, sent me enclosed a copy of my sonnet; thus introducing it.
"I send a copy of verses somebody has written in the Gentleman's Magazine for April last. Independent of my partiality towards the subject, 1 think the lines themselves are good."
Thus it appears that my poetical adventure has succeeded to my wish, and I write to him by this post, on purpose to inform him that the somebody in question is myself.
I no longer wonder that Mrs. Montagu stands at the head of all that is called learned, and that every critic veils his bonnet to her superior judgment. I am now reading, and have reached the middle of her Essay on the Genius of Shakspeare, a book of which, strange as it may seem, though I must have read it formerly, I had absolutely forgot the existence.
May 24, 1788. For two excellent prints I return you my sincere acknowledgments. I can not say that poor Kate remembles much the original, who was neither so young nor so handsome as the pencil has represented her; but she was a figure well suited to the account given of her in the Task, and has a face exceedingly expressive of despairing melancholy. The lace-maker is accidentally a good The learning, the good sense, the sound judglikeness of a young woman, once our neighbour, ment, and the wit displayed in it, fully justify not who was hardly less handsome than the picture only my compliment, but all compliments that twenty years ago; but the loss of one husband, either have been already paid to her talents, or and the acquisition of another, have, since that time, impaired her much; yet she might still be supposed to have sat to the artist.
We dined yesterday with your friend and mine, the most companionable and domestic Mr. C.
shall be paid hereafter. Voltaire, I doubt not, rejoiced that his antagonist wrote in English, and that his countrymen could not possibly be judges of the dispute. Could they have known how much she was in the right, and by how many thousand
miles the bard of Avon is superior to all their therefore only a slander, with which envy prompts dramatists, the French critic would have lost half the malignity of persons in their senses to asperse his fame among them. wittier than themselves. But there are countries
I saw at Mr. C's a head of Paris; an an- in the world, where the mad have justice done tique of Parian marble. His uncle, who left him them, where they are revered as the subjects of inthe estate, brought it, as I understand, from the spiration, and consulted as oracles. Poor Fowle Levant: you may suppose I viewed it with all the would have made a figure there. enthusiasm that belongs to a translator of Homer. It is in reality a great curiosity, and highly valua
TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
Our friend Sephus has sent me two prints, the Lacemaker and Crazy Kate. These also I have Weston, June 8, 1788. contemplated with pleasure, having as you know, YOUR letter brought me the very first intelligence a particular interest in them. The former of them of the event it mentions. My last letter from Lais not more beautiful than a lace-maker, once our dy Hesketh gave me reason enough to expect it, neighbour at Olney; though the artist has assem- but the certainty of it was unknown to me till I bled as many charms in her countenance as I ever learned it by your information. If gradual desaw in any countenance, one excepted. Kate is cline, the consequence of great age, be a sufficient both younger and handsomer than the original preparation of the mind to encounter such a loss, from which I drew, but she is in a good style, and as mad as need be.
How does this hot weather suit thee, my dear, in London? as for me, with all my colonnades and bowers, I am quite oppressed by it.
TO LADY HESKETH.
MY DEAREST COUSIN,
The Lodge, June 3, 1788.
TO LADY HESKETH.
our minds were certainly prepared to meet it: yet to you I need not say that no preparation can supersede the feelings of the heart on such occasions. While our friends yet live inhabitants of the same world with ourselves, they seem still to live to us; we are sure that they sometimes think of us; and however improbable it may seem, it is never impossible that we may see each other once again. But the grave, like a great gulf, swallows all such expectation, and in the moment when a beloved friend sinks into it, a thousand tender recollections THE excessive heat of these last few days was awaken a regret, that will be felt in spite of all indeed oppressive; but excepting the languor that reasonings, and let our warnings have been what it occasioned both in my mind and body, it was far they may. Thus it is I take my last leave of poor from being prejudicial to me. It opened ten thou- Ashley, whose heart towards me was ever truly sand pores, by which as many mischiefs, the ef- parental, and to whose memory I owe a tenderness fects of long obstruction, began to breathe them- and respect that will never leave me. selves forth abundantly. Then came an east wind, baneful to me at all times, but following so closely such a sultry season, uncommonly noxious. To speak in the seaman's phrase, not entirely strange to you, I was taken all aback; and the humours which would have escaped, if old Eurus MY DEAREST COUSIN, would have given them leave, finding every door YOUR kind letter of precaution to Mr. Gregson shut, have fallen into my eyes. But in a country sent him hither as soon as chapel-service was ended like this, poor miserable mortals must be content in the evening. But he found me already apprized to suffer all that sudden and violent changes can of the event that occasioned it, by a line from Seinflict; and if they are quit for about half the phus, received a few hours before. My dear unplagues that Caliban calls down on Prospero, they cle's death awakened in me many reflections which may say we are well off, and dance for joy, if the for a time sunk my spirits. A man like him would rheumatism or cramp will let them. have been mourned, had he doubled the age he Did you ever see an advertisement by one reached. At any age his death would have been Fowle, a dancing-master of Newport Pagnel? If felt as a loss, that no survivor could repair. And not, I will contrive to send it to you for your though it was not probable that for my own part amusement. It is the most extravagantly ludi- I should ever see him more, yet the consciousness crous affair of the kind I ever saw. The author that he still lived, was a comfort to me. Let it of it had the good hap to be crazed, or he had comfort us now, that we have lost him only at a never produced any thing half so clever; for you time when nature could afford him to us no longer; will ever observe, that they who are said to have that as his life was blameless, so was his death lost their wits, have more than other people. It is without anguish; and that he is gone to Heaven
The Lodge, June 10, 1788.
I know not, that human life, in its most prosper- Ja vain foolish world, and this happiness will be ous state, can present any thing to our wishes yours. But be not hasty, my dear, to accomplish half so desirable, as such a close of it. thy journey! For of all that live, thou art one
TO THE REV. WALTER BAGOT.
Not to mingle this subject with others that would whom I can least spare; for thou also art one, ill suit with it, I will add no more at present, than who shalt not leave thy equal behind thee. a warm hope, that you and your sister will be able effectually to avail yourselves of all the consolatory matter with which it abounds! You gave yourselves, while he lived, to a father, whose life was doubtless prolonged by your attentions, and whose tenderness of disposition made him always deeply sensiMY DEAR WALTER, Weston, June 17, 1788. ble of your kindness in this respect, as well as in You think me, no doubt, a tardy correspondent, many others. His old age was the happiest that and such I am, but not willingly. Many hinI have ever known, and I give you both joy of drances have intervened, and the most difficult to having had so fair an opportunity, and of having surmount have been those which the east and so well used it, to approve yourselves equal to the north-west winds have occasioned, breathing wincalls of such a duty in the sight of God and man. ter upon the roses of June, and inflaming my eyes, ten times more sensible of the inconvenience than they. The vegetables of England seem, like our animals, of a hardier and bolder nature than those TO LADY HESKETH. of other countries. In France and Italy flowers The Lodge, June 15, 1788. blow, because it is warm, but here, in spite of the ALTHOUGH I knew that you must be very much cold. The season however is somewhat mended occupied on the present most affecting occasion, at present, and my eyes with it. Finding myself yet, not hearing from you, I began to be very un- this morning in perfect ease of body, I seize the easy on your account, and to fear that your health welcome opportunity to do something at least tomight have suffered by the fatigue both of body wards the discharge of my arrears to you. and spirits, that you must have undergone, till a I am glad that you liked my song, and, if I letter, that reached me yesterday from the Gene- liked the others myself so well as that I sent you, ral, set my heart at rest, so far as that cause of I would transcribe for you them also. But I sent anxiety was in question. He speaks of my uncle that, because I accounted it the best. Slavery, in the tenderest terms, such as show how truly and especially negro-slavery, because the cruellest, sensible he was of the amiableness and excellence is an odious and disgusting subject. Twice or of his character, and how deeply he regrets his thrice I have been assailed with entreaties to write loss. We have indeed lost one, who has not left a poem on that theme. But besides that it would his like in the present generation of our family, be in some sort treason against Homer to abandon and whose equal, in all respects, no future of it him for other matter, I felt myself so much hurt will probably produce. My memory retains so in my spirits the moment I entered on the conperfect an impression of him, that, had I been templation of it, that I have at last determined painter instead of poet, I could from those faithful absolutely to have nothing more to do with it. traces have perpetuated his face and form with There are some scenes of horror, on which my the most minute exactness; and this I the rather imagination can dwell, not without some complawonder at, because some, with whom I was equal-cence. But then they are such scenes as God, not ly conversant five and twenty years ago, have al- man produces. In earthquakes, high winds, temmost faded out of all recollection with me. But pestuous seas, there is the grand as well as the he made impression not soon to be effaced, and terrible. But when man is active to disturb, there was in figure, in temper, and manner, and in nu- is such meanness in the design, and such cruelty merous other respects, such as I shall never behold in the execution, that I both hate and despise the again. I often think what a joyful interview whole operation, and feel it a degradation of poetry there has been between him and some of his con- to employ her in the description of it. I hope also temporaries, who went before him. The truth that the generality of my countrymen have more of the matter is, my dear, that they are the happy generosity in their nature than to want the fiddle ones, and that we shall never be such ourselves, of verse to go before them in the performance of till we have joined the party. Can there be any an act, to which they are invited by the loudest thing so worthy of our warmest wishes as to enter calls of humanity. on an eternal, unchangeable state, in blessed fellowship and communion with those whose society we valued most, and for the best reasons, while they continued with us? A few steps more through of Manners of the Great, read Hannah More.
Breakfast calls, and then Homer.
Ever yours, W. C. Erratum Instead of Mr. Wilberforce as author
My paper mourns, and my seal. It is for the winter also. The summer indeed is leaving us at death of a venerable uncle, Ashley Cowper, at the age of eighty-seven.
TO SAMUEL ROSE, ESQ.
a rapid rate, as do all the seasons, and though I have marked their flight so often, I know not which is the sweetest. Man is never so deluded as when he dreams of his own duration. The answer of the old Patriarch to Pharaoh may be adopted by every man at the close of the longest Weston, June 23, 1788. life-"Few and evil have been the days of the WHEN I tell you that an unanswered latter years of my pilgrimage." Whether we look back troubles my conscience in some degree like a crime, from fifty, or from twice fifty, the past appears you will think me endued with most heroic pa- equally a dream; and we can only be said truly tience, who have so long submitted to that trouble to have lived, while we have been profitably emon account of yours not answered yet. But the ployed. Alas, then! making the necessary deductruth is, that I have been much engaged. Homer tions, how short is life! Were men in general to (you know) affords me constant employment; be-save themselves all the steps they take to no pursides which I have rather what may be called, con- pose, or to a bad one, what numbers, who are now sidering the privacy in which I have long lived, a active, would become sedentary! numerous correspondence; to one of my friends in Thus I have sermonized through my paper. particular, a near and much-loved relation, I write Living where you live, you can bear with me the weekly, and sometimes twice in the week; nor better. I always follow the leading of my unconare these my only excuses; the sudden changes strained thoughts, when I write to a friend, be they of the weather have much affected me, and espe- grave or otherwise. Homer reminds me of you cially with a disorder most unfavourable to letter- every day. I am now in the twenty-first Iliad. writing, an inflammation in my eyes. With all Adieu. W. C. these apologies I approach you once more, not altogether despairing of forgiveness.
TO LADY HESKETH.
It has pleased God to give us rain, without which this part of our country at least must soon have become a desert. The meadows have been The Lodge, June 27, 1788. parched to a January brown, and we have fod- FOR the sake of a longer visit, my dearest coz, dered our cattle for some time, as in the winter. I can be well content to wait. The country, this The goodness and power of God are never (I be- country at least, is pleasant at all times, and when lieve) so universally acknowledged as at the end winter is come, or near at hand, we shall have the of a long drought. Man is naturally a self-suffi- better chance for being snug. I know your pas cient animal, and in all concerns that seem to lie sion for retirement indeed, or for what we call within the sphere of his own ability, thinks little deedy retirement, and the F-s intending to reor not at all of the need he always has of protec- turn to Bath with their mother, when her visit at tion and furtherance from above. But he is sen- the Hall is over, you will then find here exactly sible that the clouds will not assemble at his bid- the retirement in question. I have made in the ding, and that, though the clouds assemble, they orchard the best winter-walk in all the parish, will not fall in showers because he commands sheltered from the east, and from the north-east, them. When therefore at last the blessing de- and open to the sun, except at his rising, all the scends, you shall hear even in the streets the most day. Then we will have Homer and Don Quixirreligious and thoughtless with one voice ex- ote: and then we will have saunter and chat, and claim-"Thank God!"-confessing themselves in- one laugh more before we die. Our orchard is debted to his favour, and willing, at least so far as alive with creatures of all kinds: poultry of every words go, to give him the glory. I can hardly denomination swarms in it, and pigs, the drollest doubt therefore that the earth is sometimes parched, in the world! and the crops endangered, in order that the multi- I rejoice that we have a cousin Charles also, as tude may not want a memento to whom they owe them, nor absolutely forget the power on which all depend for all things.
well as a cousin Henry, who has had the address to win the good-likings of the Chancellor. May he fare the better for it! As to myself, I have long Our solitary part of the year is over. Mrs. Un- since ceased to have any expectations from that win's daughter and son-in-law have lately spent quarter. Yet, if he were indeed mortified as you some time with us. We shall shortly receive from say (and no doubt you have particular reasons for London our old friends the Newtons (he was once thinking so,) and repented to that degree of his minister of Olney); and, when they leave us, we hasty exertions in favour of the present occupant, expect that Lady Hesketh will succeed them, per- who can tell? he wants neither means nor manhaps to spend the summer here, and possibly the agement, but can easily at some future period re
dress the evil, if he chooses to do it. But in the walks and my pastime in whatever quarter of your mean time life steals away, and shortly neither he paradise it should please me the most to visit. We will be in circumstances to do me a kindness, nor also, as you know, have scenes at Weston worthy I to receive one at his hands. Let him make haste, of description; but because you know them well, therefore, or he will die a promise in my debt, I will only say that one of them has, within these which he will never be able to perform. Your few days, been much improved; I mean the lime communications on this subject are as safe as you walk. By the help of the axe and the woodbill, can wish them. We divulge nothing but what which have of late been constantly employed in might appear in the magazine, nor that without cutting out all straggling branches that interceptgreat consideration. ed the arch, Mr. Throckmorton has now defined I must tell you a feat of my dog Beau. Walk-it with such exactness, that no cathedral in the ing by the river side, I observed some water-lilies world can show one of more magnificence or beaufloating at a little distance from the bank. They ty. I bless myself that I live so near it; for were are a large white flower, with an orange coloured it distant several miles, it would be well worth eye, very beautiful. I had a desire to gather one, while to visit it, merely as an object of taste; not and, having your long cane in my hand, by the to mention the refreshment of such a gloom both help of it endeavoured to bring one of them with- to the eyes and spirits. And these are the things in my reach. But the attempt proved vain, and I walked forward. Beau had all the while observed me very attentively. Returning soon after toward the same place, I observed him plunge into the river, while I was about forty yards distant from him; and when I had nearly reached the spot, he swam to land with a lily in his mouth, which he came and laid at my foot.
which our modern improvers of parks and pleasure grounds have displaced without mercy; because, forsooth, they are rectilinear. It is a wonder they do not quarrel with the sunbeams for the same reason.
Have you seen the account of five hundred celebrated authors now living? I am one of them; but stand charged with the high crime and misdeMr. Rose, whom I have mentioned to you as a meanour of totally neglecting method; an accusavisiter of mine for the first time soon after you left tion which, if the gentleman would take the pains us, writes me word that he has seen my ballads to read me, he would find sufficiently refuted. I against the slave-mongers, but not in print. Where am conscious at least myself of having laboured he met with them, I know not. Mr. Bull begged much in the arrangement of my matter, and of hard for leave to print them at Newport-Pagnel, having given to the several parts of my book of and I refused, thinking that it would be wrong to the Task, as well as to each poem in the first voanticipate the nobility, gentry, and others, at whose lume, that sort of slight connexion, which poetry pressing instance I composed them, in their design demands; for in poetry, (except professedly of the to print them. But perhaps I need not have been didactic kind) a logical precision would be stiff, so squeamish; for the opportunity to publish them pedantic, and ridiculous. But there is no pleasing in London seems now not only ripe, but rotten. I some critics; the comfort is, that I am contented, am well content. There is but one of them with whether they be pleased or not. At the same which I am myself satisfied, though I have heard time, to my honour be it spoken, the chronicler of them all well spoken of. But there are very few us five hundred prodigies bestows on me, for aught things of my own composition, that I can endure I know, more commendations than on any other to read, when they have been written a month, of my confraternity. May he live to write the though at first they seem to me to be all perfection. histories of as many thousand poets, and find me Mrs. Unwin, who has been much the happier the very best among them; Amen! since the time of your return hither has been in some sort settled, begs me to make her kindest remembrance. Yours, my dear, most truly, W. C.
TO LADY HESKETH.
I join with you, my dearest coz, in wishing that I owned the fee simple of all the beautiful scenes around you, but such emoluments were never designed for poets. Am I not happier than ever poet was, in having thee for my cousin, and in the expectation of thy arrival here whenever Strawberry-hill shall lose thee? Ever thine, W. C.
TO LADY HESKETH.
The Lodge, July 28, 1788. It is in vain that you tell me you have no talent at description, while in fact you describe better than any body. You have given me a most complete idea of your mansion and its situation; and I doubt not that with your letter in my hand by THE Newtons are still here, and continue with way of map, could I be set down on the spot in a us I believe until the 15th of the month. Here is moment, I should find myself qualified to take my also my friend Mr. Rose, a valuable young man,
The Lodge, August 9, 1788.