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Title: Selected English Letters (XV - XIX Centuries)
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Selected English Letters (XV - XIX Centuries)" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.







This anthology has been compiled with rather mixed motives. First,
'all for our delight'--a rule that editors sometimes observe, and
occasionally acknowledge; then, with the desire to interest as large
a section of the public as may be. Here is a medley of gay, grave,
frivolous, homely, religious, sociable, refined, philosophic, and
feminine,--something for every mood, and for the proper study
of mankind. We do not hope to satisfy all critics, but we do not
anticipate that we shall please none. Our difficulty has been that
of choice. Many pleasant companions we have had to pass by; to strike
from our list many excellent letters. Those that remain are intended
to present as complete a portrait of the writer as space permits.
Occasionally it was some feature of the age, some nicety of manners,
some contrast in point of view, that obtained inclusion.

Into such an anthology the ordinary reader prefers to dip at random,
looking for old friends or new faces, and has his reward. But if he
is resolute to read letters in chronological order, he will also,
we hope, find in our selection some trace of the development of the
Epistolary art, as, rising through earlier naiveties and formalities
to the grace and _bel air_ of the great Augustans, it slides into the
freer, if less dignified, utterance of an age which, startled by cries
of 'Equality' at its birth, has concerned itself less with form than
with individuality and sincerity of expression.

Three letters are included of which the originals were penned
in Latin. In a few cases the spelling and punctuation have been

Our best thanks are due to Mr. J.C. Smith, whose kind criticism and
inspiring suggestions have been of inestimable service to us in the
preparation of this work.

M.D. H.W.


SIR THOMAS MORE, 1478-1535--
To Margaret Roper. 'Wyth a cole' from prison.

MARGARET ROPER, 1505-1544--
To Sir Thomas More. Reply to the above.

ROGER ASCHAM, 1515-1568--
To Lady Jane Grey. A most accomplished maiden.
To Lady Clarke. An offer of assistance.

FRANCIS BACON, 1561-1626--
To Sir Thomas Bodley. With a copy of his book.

SIR THOMAS BROWNE, 1605-1682--
To his son Thomas. Fatherly commendations.
To his son Edward. Centenarians.

JOHN MILTON, 1608-1674--
To a Cambridge friend. The choice of a profession.
To Leonard Philaras. The blind poet.

JOHN EVELYN, 1620-1706--
To Samuel Pepys. In retirement at Wotton.
To the same. An old man's occupations.

To her daughter in London. Three interesting

To Samuel Pepys. Honourable acquittal.

DOROTHY OSBORNE, 1628-1698--
To Sir William Temple. Passing the time.
To the same. Another pretender.
To the same. A disappointing preacher.
To the same. The ideal husband.
To the same. The growth of friendship.
To the same. Wilful woman.

To the Honourable Berenice. Yielding to opinion.

JOHN LOCKE, 1632-1704--
To William Molyneux. A philosopher's confidences.
To Dr. Molyneux. True friendship.

SAMUEL PEPYS, 1633-1703--
To George, Lord Berkeley. An explanation.
To Mrs. Steward. A wedding in the City.
To John Evelyn. Reply to an old friend.

JONATHAN SWIFT, 1667-1745--
To Stella. The Dean at home.
To Lord Treasurer Oxford. The Dean makes his bow.
To Dr. Sheridan. News from the country.
To Alexander Pope. Mostly about _Gulliver_.
To John Gay. Enquiries into Mr. Gay's pursuits.

JOSEPH ADDISON, 1672-1719--
To Alexander Pope. Translation of Homer.
To Mr. Secretary Craggs. A bequest.

To Mary Scurlock. An explicit declaration.
To the same. A pleasing transport.
To the same. A lover betrays himself.
To his wife. He proposes an outing.
To the same. His greatest affliction.
To the same. Four characteristic notes.
To the same. The natural slave of beauty.

JOHN GAY, 1685-1732--
To Jonathan Swift. Concerning _Gulliver_.

ALEXANDER POPE, 1688-1744--
To William Wycherley. Dryden and his critics.
To Joseph Addison. A few thoughts from a rambling head.
To Jonathan Swift. Friends to posterity.
To the same. A farming friend, and _The Dunciad_.
To the same. An invitation to England.

To Miss Mulso. A discussion on love.

To the Countess of Mar. The Viennese court.
To Miss Sarah Chiswell. Ingrafting for small-pox.
To the Countess of Bristol. The Grand Signior a slave.
To the Countess of Mar. The Grand Vizier's lady.
To the Countess of Bute. Her grand-daughter's education.
To the same. Fielding and Steele.

To his son. Dancing.
To the same. A good enunciation.
To the same. Keeping accounts.
To the same. A father's example.
To the same. Public speaking.
To the same. The new Earl of Chatham.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, 1709-1784--
To Bonnet Langton. Postponement of a visit.
To Miss Porter. A mother's death.
To Joseph Baretti. A letter of counsel.
To Mrs. Thrale. Travel in Scotland.
To the Earl of Chesterfield. Patronage.
To James Boswell. A silent friend.
To Mrs. Thrale. A great man's fortitude.

LAURENCE STERNE, 1713-1768--
To Miss Lumley. The disconsolate lover.
To David Garrick. Le Chevalier Shandy.
To Mr. Foley. An adventure on the road.

THOMAS GRAY, 1716-1771--
To Richard West. Scenery at Tivoli.
To the same. A poet's melancholy.
To Horace Walpole. The fate of Selima.
To the same. Publication of the _Elegy_.
To the same. At Burnham.
To the Rev. William Mason. The Laureateship.
To Dr. Wharton. A holiday in Kent.

HORACE WALPOLE, 1717-1797--
To Richard West. Floods in the Arno.
To Richard Bentley. Pictures, and Garrick.
To Lord Lyttelton. Gray's Odes.
To George Montagu. At Lady Suffolk's.
To Lady Hervey. A quiet life.
To the Rev. William Cole. Gray's death.
To the Rev. William Mason. The quarrel with Gray.
To the Countess of Upper-Ossory. Fashionable intelligence.
To the Rev. William Cole. Antiquaries and authors.
To the Miss Berrys. Their first meeting.

To his mother. At Cork.
To Robert Bryanton. In Scotland.
To his uncle Contarine. In Holland.
To his brother Henry. Family matters.

WILLIAM COWPER, 1731-1800--
To the Rev. John Newton. Escapade of Puss.
To the Rev. William Unwin. A laugh that hurts nobody.
To the Rev. John Newton. Village politicians.
To the same. Village justice.
To the same. A candidate's visit.
To Lady Hesketh. An acquaintance reopened.
To the same. The kindliness of thanks.
To the same. Arrival of the desk.
To the same. Anticipations of a visit.
To the same. Commissions and thanks.
To Mrs. Bodham. His mother's portrait.

EDMUND BURKE, 1729-1797--
To Matthew Smith. First impressions of London.
To James Barry. A friend's infirmities.
To Lord Auckland. An old stag at bay.
To Mary Leadbeater. His last letter.

EDWARD GIBBON, 1737-1794--
To Mrs. Porten. His daily life.
To Lord Sheffield. A great work.

FRANCES D'ARBLAY, 1752-1840--
To Susan Burney. An excited Unknown.
To Samuel Crisp. Mrs. Thrale and Dr. Johnson.
To Mrs. Lock. A royal commission.

GEORGE CRABBE, 1754-1832--
To Mary Leadbeater. The only survivors.
To the same. Comparisons.

WILLIAM BLAKE, 1757-1827--
To John Flaxman. Friends 'from eternity'.
To Thomas Butts. Trouble in the path.
To the same. The wonderful poem.
To the same. The poet and William Hayley.

MARY LEADBEATER, 1758-1826--
To Edmund Burke. Reply to his last letter.
To George Crabbe. She writes to remind him.

ROBERT BURNS, 1759-1796--
To Miss Chalmers. Marriage with Jean.
To Mr. R. Ainslie. A gauger.
To Francis Grose. Witch tales.

To Sir George Beaumont. A brother's character.
To Walter Scott. Dryden.
To Lady Beaumont. The destiny of his poems.
To Sir George Beaumont. The language of poetry.

SIR WALTER SCOTT, 1771-1832--
To his mother. Marriage with Miss Carpenter.
To Miss Seward. _The Lay of the Last Minstrel_.
To Lady Louisa Stuart. An amiable blue-stocking.
To Robert Southey. Congratulations.
To J.B.S. Morritt. A small anonymous sort of a novel.
To the same. Acceptance of a baronetcy.
To Lord Montagu. Prince Leopold's visit.
To Daniel Terry. Progress at Abbotsford.
To J.B.S. Morritt. A brave face to the world.
To Maria Edgeworth. Time's revenges.

To Charles Lamb. A sympathetic reply.
To Joseph Cottle. Literary adventurers.
To Josiah Wade. A public example.
To Thomas Allsop. Himself and his detractors.
To the same. The Great Work described.
To the same. Reminiscences.

ROBERT SOUTHEY, 1774-1843--
To Joseph Cottle. Question of copyrights.
To John May. Waterloo.
To Henry Taylor. Anastasius Hope.
To Edward Moxon. Recollections of the Lambs.

CHARLES LAMB, 1775-1834--
To Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Temporary frenzy.
To the same. A friend in need.
To the same. The tragedy.
To William Wordsworth. The delights of London.
To Thomas Manning. At the Lakes.
To the same. Dissuasion from Tartary.
To Mrs. Wordsworth. Friends' importunities.
To Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The famous pigling.
To Bernard Barton. A blessing in disguise.
To the same. A cold.

WILLIAM HAZLITT, 1778-1830--
To Miss Sarah Stoddart. A love-letter.
To his son. Marriage, and the choice of a profession.
To Charles Cowden Clarke. The _Life of Napoleon_.

LEIGH HUNT, 1784-1859--
To Joseph Severn. A belated letter.
To Percy Bysshe Shelley. Outpourings of gratitude.
To Horace Smith. Shelley's death.
To Mrs. Procter. Accepting an invitation.
To a friend. Offence and punishment.

To Mr. Hodgson. Travel in Portugal.
To Thomas Moore. Announces his engagement.
To John Murray. No bid for sweet voices.
To the same. The cemetery at Bologna.
To the same. In rebellious mood.
To Percy Bysshe Shelley. A trio of poets.
To Lady Byron. A plain statement of facts.
To Mr. Barff. Sympathy with the Greeks.

To T.J. Hogg. His first marriage.
To William Godwin. An introduction.
To Thomas Hookham. A subscription for Hunt.
To Mr. Ollier. An article by Southey.
To Mrs. Hunt. Keats and some others.
To Leigh Hunt. A literary collaboration.

JOHN KEATS, 1795-1821--
To John Hamilton Reynolds. Burns's cottage.
To Richard Woodhouse. The poetic character.
To Percy Bysshe Shelley. Returning advice.
To Charles Brown. A despairing cry.

THOMAS HOOD, 1799-1845--
To Charles Dickens. _American Notes_.
To the _Manchester Athenaeum_. The uses of literature.
To Dr. Moir. A humourist to the last.
To Sir Robert Peel. A farewell letter.

ROBERT BROWNING, 1812-1889, and
To Leigh Hunt. A joint epistle.

To a friend. Trials of a governess.
To William Wordsworth. Thanks for advice.
To a friend. At school abroad.
To a friend. Curates to tea.
To George Henry Lewes. Herself and Miss Austen.
To the same. The argument continued.
To a friend. Illness and death of Emily Brontë.
To Mr. G. Smith. Thackeray and _Esmond_
To the same. _Esmond_ again.





_'Wyth a cole' from prison_


Myne owne good doughter, our lorde be thanked I am in good helthe of
bodye, and in good quiet of minde: and of worldly thynges I no more
desyer then I have. I beseche hym make you all mery in the hope of
heaven. And such thynges as I somewhat longed to talke with you all,
concerning the worlde to come, our Lord put theim into your myndes, as
I trust he dothe, and better to, by his holy spirite: who blesse
you and preserve you all. Written wyth a cole by your tender loving
father, who in his pore prayers forgetteth none of you all, nor
your babes, nor your nurses, nor your good husbandes, nor your good
husbandes shrewde wyves, nor your fathers shrewde wyfe neither, nor
our other frendes. And thus fare ye hartely well for lack of paper.

THOMAS MORE, knight.

Our Lorde kepe me continuallye true, faithfull and playne, to the
contrarye whereof I beseche hym hartelye never to suffer me live. For
as for longe life (as I have often tolde the Megge) I neyther looke
for, nor long for, but am well content to goe, yf God call me hence
to morowe. And I thanke our lorde, I knowe no person living, that I
woulde had one philippe for my sake: of whiche minde I am more gladde
then of all the worlde.

Recommend me to your shrewde wil, and mine other sonnes, and to John
Harris my frende, and your selfe knoweth to whome els, and to my
shrewde wife above all, and God preserve you all and make and kepe you
his servantes all.




_Reply to the above_


Myne owne moste entierelye beloved father, I thynke my self never
hable to geve you sufficiente thankes, for the inestimable coumforte
my poore hearte received in the readyng of youre moste lovynge and
godlye letter, representing to me, the cleare shynyng bryghtenesse
of youre soule, the pure temple of the holy spirite of God, which I
doubte not shall perpetuallye reste in you and you in hym. Father, if
all the worlde hadde bene geven to me, as I be saved it hadde bene
a small pleasure, in comparison of the pleasure I conceived of the
treasure of youre letter, whiche thoughe it were written with a cole,
is woorthye in myne opinion to be wrytten in letters of golde. Father,
what moved them to shytte you uppe againe, we can nothynge heare.
But surelye I coniecture that when they considered that you wer of so
temperate mind, that you were contented to abyde there all your lyfe
with suche libertie, they thought it wer never possible to enclyne you
to theyr will, excepte it were by restrayning you from the church, and
the companye of my good mother youre deare wyfe and us youre chyldren
and bedesfolke. But father this chaunce was not straunge to you. For
I shal not forgeat howe you tolde us when we were with you in the
gardeyne, that these thinges wer like ynoughe to chaunce you shortlye
after. Father I have manye tymes rehearsed to myne owne coumfort and
dyvers others, your fashyon and wordes ye hadde to us when we were
laste with you: for which I trust by the grace of god to be the better
while I live, and when I am departed oute of this frayle life, which
I praye God I maye passe and ende in his true obedient service, after
the wholesome counsayle and fruitful exaumple of living I have had
(good father) of you, whom I pray god geve me grace to folowe: which
I shal the better thorow the assistaunce of your devoute prayers,
the speciall staye of my frayltie. Father I am sory I have no lenger
laysure at this time to talke with you, the chief comfort of my life,
I trust to have occasion to write again shortly. I trust I have your
daily prayer and blessing.

Your most loving obedient daughter and bedeswoma Margaret Roper, which
daily and howrely is boude to pray for you, for whom she prayeth
in this wise, that our lord of his infinite mercye geve you of hys
hevenly comfort, and so to assist you with hys speciall grace, that ye
never in any thing declyne from hys blessed will, but live and dye his
true obedient servaunt. Amen.



To Lady Jane Grey

_A most accomplished maiden_

Augsberg, 18 _Jan_. 1551.

Most Illustrious Lady,

In this long travel of mine, I have passed over wide tracts of
country, and seen the largest cities, I have studied the customs,
institutes, laws, and religion of many men and diverse nations, with
as much diligence as I was able: but in all this variety of subjects,
nothing has caused in me so much wonder as my having fallen upon you
last summer, a maiden of noble birth, and that too in the absence of
your tutor, in the hall of your most noble family, and at a time
when others, both men and women, give themselves up to hunting and
pleasures, you, a divine maiden, reading carefully in Greek the
_Phaedo_ of the divine Plato; and happier in being so occupied than
because you derive your birth, both on your father's side, and on your
mother's, from kings and queens! Go on then, most accomplished maiden,
to bring honour on your country, happiness on your parents, glory to
yourself, credit to your tutor, congratulation to all your friends,
and the greatest admiration to all strangers!

O happy Elmar in having such a pupil, and happier still you, in having
such a tutor ... I ask two things of you, my dear Elmar, for I suppose
you will read this letter, that you will persuade the Lady Jane to
write me a letter in Greek as soon as possible; for she promised she
would do so ... I have also lately written to John Sturm, and told him
that she had promised. Take care that I get a letter soon from her as
well as from you. It is a long way for letters to come, but John Hales
will be a most convenient letter-carrier and bring them safely....


_An offer of assistance_

[London], 15 _Jan_. 1554.

Your remarkable love of virtue and zeal for learning, most illustrious
lady, joined with such talents and perseverance, are worthy of great
praise in themselves, and greater still because you are a woman, but
greatest of all because you are a lady of the court; where there are
many other occupations for ladies, besides learning, and many other
pleasures besides the practice of the virtues. This double praise
is further enhanced by the two patterns that you have proposed to
yourself to follow, the one furnished you by the court, the other
by your family. I mean our illustrious queen Mary, and your noble
grandfather, Thomas More--a man whose virtues go to raise England
above all other nations....

I am led to write thus not altogether by my admiration of you, but
partly by my own wish and more from the nature of my own office. It
was I who was invited some years ago from the University of Cambridge
by your mother, Margaret Roper--a lady worthy of her great father,
and of you her daughter--to the house of your kinsman, Lord Giles
Alington, to teach you and her other children the Greek and Latin
tongues; but at that time no offers could induce me to leave the
University. It is sweet to me to bear in mind this request of your
mother's, and I now not only remind you thereof, but would offer you,
now that I am at court, if not to fulfil her wishes, yet to do my
best to fulfil them, were it not that you have so much learning
in yourself, and also the aid of those two learned men, Cole and
Christopherson, so that you need no help from me, unless in their
absence you make use of my assistance, and if you like, abuse it.

I write thus not because of any talents I possess (for I know they are
very small) but because of my will (which I know is very great), and
because of the opportunity long wished for and now granted me. For
by favour of that great bishop the Lord Stephen of Winchester, I have
been fetched away from the University to serve our illustrious queen
at court, and that too in such a post, that I can there follow the
same mode of life for the discharge of my duties as I did at the
University for study. My office is to write Latin letters for the
queen, and I hope I shall fulfil that office, if not with ability,
yet faithfully, diligently, and unblameably ... Farewell, most
accomplished lady!



To Sir Thomas Bodley

_With a copy of his book_

[_Nov_. 1605.]


I think no man may more truly say with the Psalm _Multum incola
fuit anima mea_, than myself. For I do confess, since I was of any
understanding, my mind hath in effect been absent from that I have
done; and in absence are many errors which I do willingly acknowledge;
and amongst the rest this great one that led the rest; that knowing
myself by inward calling to be fitter to hold a book than to play a
part, I have led my life in civil causes; for which I was not very fit
by nature, and more unfit by the preoccupation of my mind. Therefore
calling myself home, I have now for a time enjoyed myself; whereof
likewise I desire to make the world partaker. My labours (if I may so
term that which was the comfort of my other labours) I have dedicated
to the King; desirous, if there be any good in them, it may be as the
fat of a sacrifice, incensed to his honour: and the second copy I have
sent unto you, not only in good affection, but in a kind of congruity,
in regard of your great and rare desert of learning. For books are the
shrines where the saint is, or is believed to be; and you having built
an Ark to save learning from deluge, deserve propriety in any new
instrument or engine, whereby learning should be improved or advanced.




_Fatherly commendations_

[c. 1667.]

I Receaved yours, and would not deferre to send vnto you before you
sayled, which I hope will come vnto you; for in this wind, neither can
Reare-admirall Kempthorne come to you, nor you beginne your voyage.
I am glad you like Lucan so well. I wish more military men could read
him; in this passage you mention, there are noble straynes; and such
as may well affect generous minds. Butt I hope you are more taken with
the verses then the subject, and rather embrace the expression then
the example. And this I the rather hint unto you, because the like,
though in another waye, is sometimes practised in the king's shipps,
when, in desperate cases, they blowe up the same. For though I know
you are sober and considerative, yet knowing you also to be of great
resolution; and having also heard from ocular testimonies with what
vndaunted and persevering courage you have demeaned yourself in great
difficulties; and knowing your captaine to bee a stout and resolute
man; and with all the cordiall friendshippe that is between you; I
cannot omitt my earnest prayers vnto God to deliver you from such a
temptation. Hee that goes to warre must patiently submitt vnto the
various accidents thereof. To bee made prisoner by an vnequall and
overruling power, after a due resistance, is no disparagement; butt
upon a carelesse surprizall or faynt opposition; and you have so good
a memorie that you cannot forgett many examples thereof, even of the
worthiest commanders in your beloved Plutark. God hath given you a
stout, butt a generous and mercifull heart withall; and in all your
life you could never behold any person in miserie butt with compassion
and relief; which hath been notable in you from a child: so have you
layd up a good foundation for God's mercy; and, if such a disaster
should happen, Hee will, without doubt, mercifully remember you. How
euer, let God that brought you in the world in his owne good time,
lead you through it; and in his owne season bring you out of it; and
without such wayes as are displeasing vnto him. When you are at Cales,
see if you can get a box of the Jesuits' powder at easier rate, and
bring it in the bark, not in powder. I am glad you haue receaued the
bill of exchange for Cales; if you should find occasion to make vse
thereof. Enquire farther at Tangier of the minerall water you told
mee, which was neere the towne, and whereof many made use. Take notice
of such plants as you meet with, either upon the Spanish or African
coast; and if you knowe them not, putt some leaves into a booke,
though carelessely, and not with that neatenesse as in your booke at
Norwich. Enquire after any one who hath been at Fez; and learne what
you can of the present state of that place, which hath been so famous
in the description of Leo and others. The mercifull providence of God
go with you. _Impellant animae lintea Thraciae_.



15 _Dec_. [1679.]


Some thinck that great age superannuates persons from the vse of
physicall meanes, or that at a hundred yeares of age 'tis either a
folly or a shame to vse meanes to liue longer, and yet I haue knowne
many send to mee for their seuerall troubles at a hundred yeares of
age, and this day a poore woeman being a hundred and three yeares
and a weeke old sent to mee to giue her some ease of the colick. The
_macrobii_ and long liuers which I haue knowne heere haue been of
the meaner and poorer sort of people. Tho. Parrot was butt a meane or
rather poore man. Your brother Thomas gaue two pence a weeke to John
More, a scauenger, who dyed in the hundred and second yeare of his
life; and 'twas taken the more notice of that the father of Sir John
Shawe, who marryed my Lady Killmorey, and liueth in London, I say that
his father, who had been a vintner, liued a hundred and two yeares, or
neere it, and dyed about a yeere agoe. God send us to number our dayes
and fitt ourselves for a better world.




_The choice of a profession_



Besides that in sundry other respects I must acknowledge me to profit
by you whenever we meet, you are often to me, and were yesterday
especially, as a good watchman to admonish that the hours of the night
pass on (for so I call my life, as yet obscure and unserviceable to
mankind), and that the day with me is at hand, wherein Christ commands
all to labour, while there is light. Which because I am persuaded you
do to no other purpose than out of a true desire that God should be
honoured in every one, I therefore think myself bound, though unasked,
to give you account, as oft as occasion is, of this my tardy moving,
according to the precept of my conscience, which I firmly trust is not
without God. Yet now I will not strain for any set apology, but only
refer myself to what my mind shall have at any time to declare herself
at her best ease.

But if you think, as you said, that too much love of learning is in
fault, and that I have given up myself to dream away my years in the
arms of studious retirement, like Endymion with the moon, as the tale
of Latmus goes; yet consider that if it were no more but the mere
love of learning--whether it proceed from a principle bad, good,
or natural--it could not have held out thus long against so strong
opposition on the other side of every kind. For, if it be bad, why
should not all the fond hopes that forward youth and vanity are fledge
with, together with gain, pride, and ambition, call me forward more
powerfully than a poor, regardless, and unprofitable sin of curiosity
should be able to withhold me; whereby a man cuts himself off from all
action, and becomes the most helpless, pusillanimous, and unweaponed
creature in the world, the most unfit and unable to do that which
all mortals most aspire to--either to be useful to his friends or to
offend his enemies? Or, if it be to be thought a natural proneness,
there is against that a much more potent inclination inbred, which
about this time of a man's life solicits most--the desire of house and
family of his own; to which nothing is esteemed more helpful than the
early entering into credible employment, and nothing more hindering
than this affected solitariness. And though this were enough, yet
there is to this another act, if not of pure, yet of refined nature,
no less available to dissuade prolonged obscurity--a desire of honour
and repute and immortal fame, seated in the breast of every true
scholar; which all make haste to by the readiest ways of publishing
and divulging conceived merits--as well those that shall, as those
that never shall, obtain it. Nature, therefore, would presently work
the more prevalent way, if there were nothing but this inferior bent
of herself to restrain her. Lastly, the love of learning, as it is the
pursuit of something good, it would sooner follow the more excellent
and supreme good known and presented, and so be quickly diverted from
the empty and fantastic chase of shadows and notions, to the solid
good flowing from due and timely obedience to that command in the
Gospel set out by the terrible seasing of him that hid the talent.

It is more probable, therefore, that not the endless delight of
speculation, but this very consideration of that great commandment,
does not press forward, as soon as many do, to undergo, but keeps
off, with a sacred reverence and religious advisement how _best_ to
undergo--not taking thought of being _late_, so it give advantage
to be more _fit_; for those that were latest lost nothing, when the
master of the vineyard came to give each one his hire. And here I am
come to a stream-head, copious enough to disburden itself, like Nilus,
at seven mouths into an ocean. But then I should also run into a
reciprocal contradiction of ebbing and flowing at once, and do that
which I excuse myself for not doing--'preach and not preach.' Yet,
that you may see that I am something suspicious of myself, and do take
notice of a certain belatedness in me, I am the bolder to send you
some of my nightward thoughts some while since, because they come in
not altogether unfitly, made up in a Petrarchian stanza, which I told
you of:

  How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,
  Stol'n on his wing my three-and-twentieth year!
  My hasting days fly on with full career,
  But my late spring no bud or blossom shew'th.
  Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth
  That I to manhood am arrived so near;
  And inward ripeness doth much less appear
  That some more timely-happy spirits endu'th.
  Yet be it less, or more, or soon, or slow,
  It shall be still in strictest measure even
  To that same lot, however mean or high,
  Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heaven.
  All is, if I have grace to use it so,
  As ever in my great taskmaster's eye.

By this I believe you may well repent of having made mention at all of
this matter; for, if I have not all this while won you to this, I
have certainly wearied you of it. This, therefore, alone may be a
sufficient reason for me to keep me as I am, lest having thus tired
you singly, I should deal worse with, a whole congregation, and spoil
all the patience of a parish; for I myself do not only see my own
tediousness, but now grow offended with it, that has hindered me thus
long from coming to the last and best _period_ of my letter, and
that which must now chiefly work my pardon, that I am your true and
unfeigned _friend_.


_The blind poet_[1]

Westminster, 28 _Sept_. 1654.

I have always been devotedly attached to the literature of Greece, and
particularly to that of your Athens; and have never ceased to cherish
the persuasion that that city would one day make me ample recompense
for the warmth of my regard. The ancient genius of your renowned
country has favoured the completion of my prophecy in presenting me
with your friendship and esteem. Though I was known to you only by my
writings, and we were removed to such a distance from each other, you
most courteously addressed me by letter; and when you unexpectedly
came to London, and saw me who could no longer see, my affliction,
which causes none to regard me with greater admiration, and perhaps
many even with feelings of contempt, excited your tenderest sympathy
and concern. You would not suffer me to abandon the hope of recovering
my sight; and informed me you had an intimate friend at Paris, Dr.
Thevenot, who was particularly celebrated in disorders of the eyes,
whom you would consult about mine, if I would enable you to lay before
him the causes and the symptoms of the complaint. I will do what you
desire, lest I should seem to reject that aid which perhaps may be
offered me by Heaven. It is now, I think, about ten years since I
perceived my vision to grow weak and dull; and at the same time I
was troubled with pain in my kidneys and bowels, accompanied with
flatulency. In the morning, if I began to read, as was my custom,
my eyes instantly ached intensely, but were refreshed after a little
corporeal exercise. The candle which I looked at, seemed as it were
encircled with a rainbow. Not long after the sight in the left part of
the left eye (which I lost some years before the other) became quite
obscured, and prevented me from discerning any object on that
side. The sight in my other eye has now been gradually and sensibly
vanishing away for about three years; some months before it had
entirely perished, though I stood motionless, everything which I
looked at seemed in motion to and fro. A stiff cloudy vapour seemed
to have settled on my forehead and temples, which usually occasions a
sort of somnolent pressure upon my eyes, and particularly from dinner
till the evening. So that I often recollect what is said of the poet
Phineas in the _Argonautics_:

  A stupor deep his cloudy temples bound,
  And when he walked he seemed as whirling round,
  Or in a feeble trance he speechless lay.

I ought not to omit that while I had any sight left, as soon as I lay
down on my bed and turned on either side, a flood of light used to
gush from my closed eyelids. Then, as my sight became daily more
impaired, the colours became more faint and were emitted with a
certain inward crackling sound; but at present, every species of
illumination being, as it were, extinguished, there is diffused around
me nothing but darkness, or darkness mingled and streaked with an
ashy brown. Yet the darkness in which I am perpetually immersed seems
always, both by night and day, to approach nearer to white than black;
and when the eye is rolling in its socket, it admits a little particle
of light, as through a chink. And though your physician may kindle
a small ray of hope, yet I make up my mind to the malady as quite
incurable; and I often reflect, that as the wise man admonishes,
days of darkness are destined to each of us, the darkness which I
experience, less oppressive than that of the tomb, is, owing to the
singular goodness of the Deity, passed amid the pursuits of literature
and the cheering salutations of friendship. But if, as is written,
'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth
from the mouth of God,' why may not any one acquiesce in the privation
of his sight, when God has so amply furnished his mind and his
conscience with eyes? While He so tenderly provides for me, while
He so graciously leads me by the hand, and conducts me on the way, I
will, since it is His pleasure, rather rejoice than repine at being
blind. And, my dear Philaras, whatever may be the event, I wish you
adieu with no less courage and composure than if I had the eyes of a

[Footnote 1: From the Latin.]




_In retirement at Wotton_

Wotton, 2 _Aug_. 1692.

I have been philosophizing and world-despising in the solitudes of
this place, whither I am retired to pass and mourn the absence of my
worthiest friend. Here is wood and water, meadows and mountains, the
Dryads and Hamadryads; but here's no Mr. Pepys, no Dr. Gale. Nothing
of all the cheer in the parlour that I taste; all's insipid, and all
will be so to me, till I see and enjoy you again. I long to know what
you do, and what you think, because I am certain you do both what
is worthy the knowing and imitation. On Monday next will Mr. Bentley
resume his lecture, I think, at Bow Church: I fear I shall hardly
get through this wilderness by that time. Pray give him your wonted
confidence if you can, and tell him how unhappily I am entangled. I
hope, however, to get home within this fortnight, and about the end of
October to my hyemation in Dover Street. My son is gone with the Lord
Lieutenant, and our new relation, Sir Cyril Wych, into Ireland: I look
they should return wondrous statesmen, or else they had as well have
stayed at home. I am here with Boccalini, and Erasmus's _Praise of
Folly_, and look down upon the world with wondrous contempt, when
I consider for what we keep such a mighty bustle. _O fortunate_ Mr.
Pepys! who knows, possesses, and enjoys all that's worth the seeking
after. Let me live among your inclinations, and I shall be happy.


_An old man's occupations_

Wotton, 22 _July_, 1700.

I could no longer suffer this old servant of mine to pass and repass
so near Clapham without a particular account of your health and all
your happy family. You will now inquire what I do here? Why, as the
patriarchs of old, I pass the days in the fields, among horses and
oxen, sheep, cows, bulls, and sows, _et cetera pecora campi_. We have,
thank God! finished our hay harvest prosperously. I am looking after
my hinds, providing carriage and tackle against reaping time and
sowing. What shall I say more? _Venio ad voluptates agricolarum_,
which Cicero, you know, reckons amongst the most becoming diversions
of old age; and so I render it. This without: now within doors, never
was any matron more busy than my wife, disposing of our plain
country furniture for a naked old extravagant house, suitable to
our employments. She has a dairy, and distaffs, for _lac, linum, et
lanam_, and is become a very Sabine. But can you thus hold out? Will
my friend say; is philosophy, Gresham College, and the example of Mr.
Pepys, and agreeable conversation of York Buildings, quite forgotten
and abandoned? No, no! _Naturam expellas furca tamen usque recurret_.
Know I have been ranging of no fewer than thirty large cases of books,
destined for a competent standing library, during four or five days
wholly destitute of my young coadjutor, who, upon some pretence of
being much engaged in the mathematics, and desiring he may continue
his course at Oxford till the beginning of August, I have wholly left
it to him. You will now suspect something by this disordered hand;
truly I was too happy in these little domestic affairs, when, on the
sudden, as I was about my books in the library, I found myself sorely
attacked with a shivering, followed by a feverish indisposition, and
a strangury, so as to have kept, not my chamber only, but my bed, till
very lately, and with just so much strength as to scribble these lines
to you. For the rest, I give God thanks for this gracious warning, my
great age calling upon me _sarcinam componere_ every day expecting it,
who have still enjoyed a wonderful course of bodily health for forty




_Three interesting postscripts_

[Norfolk, 28 _June, c_. 1679.]


I have received all the things, to the great content of the owners,
who returne you many thankes. Thay ar indeed very well chose things of
all sorts: and I give you many thanks for the troble you have had with
them: I sent you Tomey's scurt and long slevs of his ould cott; I hope
you have them. On Mr. Felden it seemes took it last Wadinsday, and
sayd hee would deliver it him selfe. Wee dayly wish for the new
cloths; all our linen being worne out but shefts, and Tomey would give
all his stock to see his briches. I bless God wee ar all well as
I hope you ar. Tomey presents his dutty, your sisters all love and

[4 _July_.]


I must troble you once more abought my cosen Tenoson. She would
macke a manto gown of the grene and whight silke you sent down for a
peticot, but she wants two yards, and as much slit grene sarsinat as
will line it in sight. I pray send nurs to gett it and lett mee
know what it com to, and I will send you the mony. I sayes my Cossen
Cradock might send it me by the choch for she would have it as sonne
as possible. I bless God wee ar all in helth, and Tomey much longing
for his briches.

[5 _July_.]

Tomey have received his cloues, and is much delighted, and sends you
and his mother and grandmother dutty and thanckes, and meanes to war
them carfully.




_Honourable Acquittal_

Berkeley House, 23 _Feb_. 1677-8.


Though I thank you for the favour of your letter, yet I confess myself
both much surprised and troubled to receive a letter from you upon
such an occasion: so is my wife, who professes herself wholly innocent
of any crime of charging you in thought, word, or deed, and hopes you
will do her that right to believe so of her. My daughter Berkeley says
she expressed some trouble that the friend she recommended had not
success, and that she was told the Commissioners of the Navy did
report they had given the same recommendations of the person she
proposed, as they did of him that was accepted, for the lieutenant's
place; which my daughter, supposing to be true, wondered the more he
lost the preferment: but, by the copies enclosed in your's, it appears
her Ladyship was very much misinformed. As for Mrs. Henrietta, she
is extremely troubled in saying any thing that gave you offence; and
though she did not in the least intend it, yet she begs your pardon.
And now, my good friend, though I am not under any accusation, and
therefore need not say any thing to vindicate myself, yet give me
leave, upon this occasion, to assure you, that there is no person
has a better opinion of you than myself, nor is more sensible of your
particular civilities to me; which I should be very glad to make a
return of when in my power to serve you: and give me leave to add
further, without flattery to you, and with great sincerity, that I
believe our gracious master, His Majesty, is so fortunate in employing
you in his service, that, if he should lose you, it would be very
difficult for His Majesty to find a successor so well qualified in
all respects for his service, if we consider both your integrity, vast
abilities, industry, and zealous affections for his service; and,
if His Majesty were asked the question, I will hold ten to one His
Majesty declares himself of my opinion; so will I believe all that
know you, more especially our fellow-traders that are so conversant
with you and obliged by you.

This is asserted as a great truth by, Sir, your very affectionate and
hearty friend and Servant.

[Footnote 1: Cf. Letter on p. 45.]




_Passing the time_

[No date; c. 1653.]

I have been reckoning up how many faults you lay to my charge in your
last letter, and I find I am severe, unjust, unmerciful, and unkind!
O me! how should one do to mend all those! 'Tis work for an age, and
I fear that I shall be so old before I am good, that 'twill not be
considerable to any body but myself whether I am so or not.... You ask
me how I pass my time here. I can give you a perfect account, not only
of what I do for the present, but what I am likely to do this seven
years if I stay here so long. I rise in the morning reasonably early,
and before I am ready I go round the house till I am weary of that,
and then into the garden till it grows too hot for me. I then think of
making me ready; and when that's done I go into my father's chamber;
from thence to dinner, where my cousin Molle and I sit in great state
in a room and at a table that would hold a great many more. After
dinner we sit and talk till Mr. P. comes in question, and then I am
gone. The heat of the day is spent in reading or working; and about
six or seven o'clock I walk out into a common that lies hard by the
house, where a great many young wenches keep sheep and cows, and
sit in the shade singing of ballads; I go to them, and compare their
voices and beauty to some ancient shepherdesses that I have read of,
and find a vast difference there; but, trust me, I think these are
as innocent as those could be. I talk to them, and find _they
want nothing to make them the happiest people in the world but the
knowledge that they are so_. Most commonly, while we are in the middle
of our discourse, one looks about her, and spies her cows going into
the corn, and then away they all run as if they had wings at their
heels. I that am not so nimble stay behind, and when I see them
driving home their cattle think it is time for me to return too. When
I have supped I go into the garden, and so to the side of a small
river that runs by it, where I sit down and wish you with me (you
had best say this is not kind, neither). In earnest, it is a pleasant
place, and would be more so to me if I had your company, as I sit
there sometimes till I am lost with thinking; and were it not for some
cruel thoughts of the crossness of my fortune, that will not let me
sleep there, I should forget there were such a thing to be done as
going to bed. Since I writ this, my company is increased by two, my
brother Harry, and a fair niece, my brother Peyton's daughter. She is
so much a woman that I am almost ashamed to say I am her aunt, and so
pretty, that if I had any design to gain a servant I should not like
her company; but I have none, and therefore I shall endeavour to keep
her here as long as I can persuade her father to spare her, for she
will easily consent to it, having so much of my humour (though it
be the worst thing in her) as to like a melancholy place, and little
company.... My father is reasonably well, but keeps his chamber still;
but will hardly, I am afraid, ever be so perfectly recovered as to
come abroad again.


_Another pretender_

[No date; c. 1653.]

I could tell you such a story (it is too long to be written), as would
make you see what I never discovered in my life before, that I am
a valiant lady. In earnest, we have had such a skirmish and upon so
foolish an occasion, as I cannot tell which is strangest. The Emperor
and his proposals began it; I talked merrily on it till I saw my
brother put on his sober face, and could hardly then believe he was
in earnest. It seems he was; for when I had spoke freely my meaning it
wrought so with him, as to fetch up all that lay upon his stomach: all
the people that I had ever in my life refused were brought again upon
the stage, like Richard the Third's ghosts, to reproach me withal, and
all the kindness his discoveries could make I had for you was laid to
my charge; my best qualities, if I have any that are good, served
but for aggravations of my fault, and I was allowed to have wit, and
understanding, and discretion, in all other things, that it might
appear I had none in this. Well, 'twas a pretty lecture, and I grew
warm with it after a while. In short, we came so near to an absolute
falling out that 'twas time to give over, and we said so much then
that we have hardly spoken a word together since. But 'tis wonderful
to see what courtesies and legs pass between us, and as before we were
thought the kindest brother and sister, we are certainly now the most
complimental couple in England: it is a strange change, and I am very
sorry for it, but I'll swear I know not how to help it....


_A disappointing preacher_

[No date; c. 1653.]

... God forgive me, I was as near laughing yesterday where I should
not: would you believe that I had the grace to go to hear a sermon
upon a week-day? In earnest, 'tis true, and Mr. Marshall was the man
that preached, but never any body was so defeated. He is so famed that
I expected rare things from him, and seriously I listened to him at
first with as much reverence and attention as if he had been St. Paul.
And what do you think he told us? why, that if there were no kings, no
queens, no lords, no ladies, no gentlemen or gentlewomen in the world,
it would be no loss at all to God Almighty: this he said over some
forty times, which made me remember it, whether I would or not.
The rest was much at this rate, entertained with the prettiest odd
phrases, that I had the most ado to look soberly enough for the place
I was in that ever I had in my life. He does not preach so always,
sure; if he does, I cannot believe his sermons will do much towards
the bringing anybody to heaven more than by exercising their patience;
yet I'll say that for him, he stood stoutly for tithes, though in
my opinion few deserve them less than he, and it may be he would be
better without them. Yet you say you are not convinced that to be
miserable is the way to be good; to some natures I think it is not;
but there are many of so careless and vain a temper that the least
breath of good fortune swells them with so much pride, that if they
were not put in mind sometimes by a sound cross or two that they are
mortal, they would hardly think it possible; and though it is a sign
of a servile nature, when fear produces more of reverence in us
than love, yet there is more danger of forgetting one's self in a
prosperous fortune than in the contrary; and affliction may be the
surest though not the pleasantest guide to heaven. What think you,
might I not preach with Mr. Marshall for a wager?...


_The ideal husband_

[No date; _c_. 1653.]

There are a great many ingredients must go to the making me happy in
a husband. My cousin F. says our humours must agree, and to do that he
must have that kind of breeding that I have had, and used to that kind
of company; that is, he must not be so much a country gentleman as to
understand nothing but hawks and dogs, and be fonder of either than of
his wife; nor of the next sort of them, whose time reaches no farther
than to be justice of peace, and once in his life high sheriff, who
reads no book but statutes, and studies nothing but how to make a
speech interlarded with Latin, that may amaze his disagreeing poor
neighbours, and fright them rather than persuade them into quietness.
He must not be a thing that began the world in a free school, was sent
from thence to the university, and is at his farthest when he reaches
the inns of court; has no acquaintance but those of his form in those
places; speaks the French he has picked out of old laws, and admires
nothing but the stories he has heard of the revels that were kept
there before his time. He must not be a town gallant neither, that
lives in a tavern and an ordinary; that cannot imagine how an hour
should be spent without company unless it be in sleeping; that makes
court to all the women he sees, thinks they believe him, and laughs
and is laughed at equally. Nor a travelled Monsieur, whose head is
feathered inside and outside, that can talk of nothing but of dances
and duels, and has courage enough to wear slashes, when every body
else dies with cold to see him. He must not be a fool of no sort, nor
peevish, nor ill-natured, nor proud, nor courteous; and to all this
must be added, that he must love me, and I him, as much as we are
capable of loving. Without all this his fortune, though never so
great, would not satisfy me, and with it a very moderate one would
keep me from ever repenting my disposal....


_The growth of friendship_

[No date; c. 1653.]

... I must find you pleased and in good humour; merry as you were
wont to be, when we first met, if you will not have me show that I am
nothing akin to my cousin Osborne's lady. But what an age it is since
we first met, and how great a change it has wrought in both of us!
if there had been as great a one on my face, it would be either very
handsome or very ugly. For God's sake, when we meet, let us design one
day to remember old stories in, to ask one another by what degrees
our friendship grew to this height 'tis at. In earnest, I am lost
sometimes in thinking of it, and though I can never repent of the
share you have in my heart, I know not whether I gave it you willingly
or not at first. No; to speak ingenuously, I think you got an interest
there a good while before I thought you had any, and it grew so
insensibly and yet so fast, that all the traverses it has met with
since have served rather to discover it to me than at all to hinder


_Wilful woman_

[No date; c. 1653.]

I was carried yesterday abroad to a dinner that was designed for
mirth, but it seems one ill-humoured person in the company is enough
to put all the rest out of tune, for I never saw people perform what
they intended worse, and could not forbear telling them so; but to
excuse themselves and silence my reproaches they all agreed to say
that I spoiled their jollity by wearing the most unseasonable looks
that could be put on for such an occasion. I told them I knew no
remedy but leaving me behind them; that my looks were suitable to
my fortune though not to a feast. Fie, I am got into my complaining
humour that tires myself as well as every body else, and which (as you
observe) helps not at all; would it would leave me and that I should
not always have occasion for it, but that's in nobody's power, and my
Lady Talmash, that says she can do whatever she will, cannot believe
whatsoever she pleases. 'Tis not unpleasant, methinks, to hear her
talk how at such a time she was sick, and the physicians told her she
would have the small-pox and showed her where they were coming out
upon her, but she bethought herself that it was not at all convenient
for her to have them at that time; some business she had that required
her going abroad, and so she resolved she would not be sick nor was
not. Twenty such stories as these she tells, and then falls into
discourses of the strength of reason and power of philosophy till she
confounds herself and all that hear her. You have no such ladies in
Ireland.... My poor Lady Vavasor is carried to the Tower, and her
situation could not excuse her, because she was acquainted by somebody
that there was a plot against the Protector, and did not discover it.
She has told now all that was told her, but vows she will never say
from whence she had it; we shall see whether her resolutions are as
unalterable as those of my Lady Talmash. I wonder how she behaved
herself when she was married; I never yet saw anybody that did not
look simply and out of countenance, nor ever knew a wedding well
designed but one, and that was of two persons who had time enough I
confess to contrive it, and nobody to please in it but themselves. He
came down into the country where she was upon a visit, and one morning
married her; as soon as they came out of the church, they took coach
and came for the town, dined at an Inn by the way, and at night came
into lodgings that were provided for them, where nobody knew them,
and where they passed for married people of seven years' standing. The
truth is I could not endure to be Mrs. Bride in a public wedding, to
be made the happiest person on earth; do not take it ill, for I would
endure it if I could, rather than fail, but in earnest I do not think
it were possible for me; you cannot apprehend the formalities of a
treaty more than I do, nor so much the success of it. Yet in earnest
your father will not find my brother Peyton wanting in civility
(though he is not a man of much compliment unless it be in his letters
to me), nor an unreasonable person in any thing so he will allow him,
out of his kindness to his wife, to set a higher value upon his
sister than she deserves. I know not how he may be prejudiced upon the
business, but he is not deaf to reason when it is civilly delivered,
and is as easily gained with compliance and good usage as any body
I know, but no other way; when he is roughly used he is like me ten
times the worse for it. I make it a case of conscience to discover my
faults to you as fast as I know them, that you may consider what you
have to do: my aunt told me no longer ago than yesterday, that I was
the most wilful woman that ever she knew, and had an obstinacy of
spirit nothing could overcome. Take heed, you see I give you fair
warning. I have missed a letter this Monday, what is the reason?
By the next I shall be gone into Kent, and my other journey is laid
aside, which I am not displeased at, because it would have broken our
intercourse very much. Here are some verses of Cowley's; pray tell me
how you like them. It is only a piece taken out of a new thing of
his. The whole is very long, and is a description of, or rather a
paraphrase upon, the friendships of David and Jonathan. 'Tis I think
the best I have seen of his, and I like the subject because it is that
I would be perfect in. Adieu!




_Yielding to opinion_

Priory of Cardigan, _25 June_

Your Ladyship's last favour from Coll. P----'s was truly obliging,
and carried so much of the same great soul of yours, which loves to
diffuse itself in expressions of friendship to me, that it merits
a great deal more acknowledgement than I am able to pay at my best
condition, and am less now when my head aches, and will give me no
leave to enlarge, though I have so much subject and reason; but really
if my heart ached too, I could be sensible of a very great kindness
and condescension in thinking me worthy of your concern, though
I visibly perceive most of my letters have lost their way to your
Ladyship. I beseech you be pleased first to believe I have written
every post; but, secondly, since I came, and then to enquire for them,
that they may be commended into your hands, where alone they can hope
for a favourable residence; I am very much a sharer by sympathy, in
your Ladyship's satisfaction in the converse you had in the country,
and find that to that ingenious company Fortune hath been just, there
being no person fitter to receive all the admiration of persons best
capable to pay them, than the great _Berenice_....

And now (madam) why was that a cruel question, When will you come to
_Wales_? 'Tis cruel to me, I confess, that it is yet in question, but
I humbly beg your Ladyship to unriddle that part of your letter, for
I cannot understand why you, madam, who have no persons alive to whom
your birth hath submitted you, and have already by your life secured
to yourself the best opinion the world can give you, should create an
awe upon your own actions, from imaginary inconveniences: Happiness,
I confess, is two-faced, and one is opinion; but that opinion is
certainly _our own_; for it were equally ridiculous and impossible
to shape our _actions_ by others' _opinions_. I have had so much (and
some sad) reason to discuss this principle, that I can speak with some
confidence, That _none will ever be happy, who make their happiness to
consist in, or be governed by the votes of other persons._ I deny
not but the approbation of wise and good persons is a very necessary
satisfaction; but to forbear innocent contentments, only because it's
possible some fancies may be so capricious as to dispute whether I
should have taken them, is, in my belief, neither better nor worse
than to fast always, because there are some so superstitious in the
world, that will abstain from meat, upon some score or other, upon
every day in the year, that is, some upon some days, and others
upon others, and some upon all. You know, madam, there is nothing so
various as _vulgar opinion_, nothing so untrue to itself. Who shall
then please since none can fix it? 'Tis heresy (this of submitting to
every blast of popular extravagancy) which I have combated in persons
very dear to me; _Dear madam_, let them not have your authority for a
relapse, when I had almost committed them; but consider it without a
bias, and give sentence as you see cause; and in that interim put me
not off (_Dear madam_) with those chimeras, but tell me plainly what
inconvenience is it to come? If it be one in earnest, I will submit,
but otherwise, I am so much my own friend, and my friend's friend,
as not to be satisfied with your Ladyship's taking measure of your
actions by others' opinion, when I know too that the severest could
find nothing in this journey that they could condemn, but your excess
of charity to me, and that censure you have already supported with
patience, and (notwithstanding my own consciousness of no ways
deserving your sufferance upon that score) I cannot beg you to recover
the reputation of your judgement in that particular, since it must be
my ruin. I should now say very much for your most obliging commands to
me, to write, and should beg frequent letters from your Ladyship with
all possible importunity, and should by command from my _Lucasia_
excuse her last rudeness (as she calls it) in giving you account of
her honour for you under her own hand, but I must beg your pardon now,
and out-believing all, I can say upon every one of these accounts, for
really, madam, you cannot tell how to imagine any person more to any
one, than I am,

Your Ladyship's
most faithful servant,
and passionate friend_,




_A philosopher's confidences_

Oates, 26 _April_, 1695.


You look with the eyes, and speak the language of friendship, when you
make my life of much more concern to the world than your own. I take
it, as it is, for an effect of your kindness, and so shall not accuse
you of compliment; the mistakes and over-valuings of good-will being
always sincere, even when they exceed what common truth allows. This
on my side I must beg you to believe, that my life would be much more
pleasant and useful to me, if you were within my reach, that I might
sometimes enjoy your conversation, and, upon twenty occasions, lay
my thoughts before you, and have the advantage of your judgement. I
cannot complain that I have not my share of friends of all ranks, and
such, whose interest, assistance, affection, and opinions too, in fit
cases, I can rely on. But methinks, for all this, there is one place
vacant, that I know nobody that would so well fill as yourself; I want
one near me to talk freely with, _de quolibet ente_; to propose to
the extravagancies that rise in my mind; one with whom I would debate
several doubts and questions, to see what was in them. Meditating by
one's self, is like digging in the mine; it often, perhaps, brings up
maiden earth, which never came near the light before; but whether it
contains any metal in it, is never so well tried as in conversation
with a knowing judicious friend who carries about with him the true
touchstone, which is love of truth in a clear-thinking head. Men of
parts and judgement the world usually gets hold of, and by a great
mistake (that their abilities of mind are lost, if not employed in the
pursuit of wealth or power) engages them in the ways of fortune and
interest, which usually leave but little freedom or leisure of thought
for pure disinterested truth. And such who give themselves up frankly,
and in earnest to the full latitude of real knowledge, are not
everywhere to be met with. Wonder not, therefore, that I wish so much
for you in my neighbourhood; I should be too happy in a friend of your
make, were you within my reach. But yet I cannot but wish that some
business would once bring you within distance; and it is a pain to me
to think of leaving the world without the happiness of seeing you.

I do not wonder that a kinsman of yours should magnify civilities that
scarce deserve the name; I know not wherein they consisted, but in
being glad to see one that was in any way related to you, and was
himself a very ingenious man; either of those was a title to more than
I did, or could show him. I am sorry I have not yet had an opportunity
to wait on him in London; and I fear he should be gone before I am
able to get thither. This long winter, and cold spring, has hung very
heavy upon my lungs, and they are not yet in a case to be ventured in
London air, which must be my excuse for not waiting upon him and Dr.
Ashe yet.

The third edition of my essay has already, or will be speedily, in the
press. But what perhaps will seem stranger, and possibly please you
better, an abridgement is now making (if it be not already done) by
one of the university of Oxford, for the use of young scholars, in the
place of the ordinary system of logic. From the acquaintance I had of
the temper of that place I did not expect to have it get much footing
there. But so it is, I some time since received a very civil letter
from one, wholly a stranger to me there, concerning such a design; and
by another from him since, I conclude it near done. He seems to be an
ingenious man, and he writes sensibly about it, but I can say nothing
of it till I see it; and he, of his own accord, has offered that it
shall be wholly submitted to my opinion, and disposal of it. And thus,
sir, possibly that which you once proposed may be attained to, and I
was pleased with the gentleman's design for your sake.

You are a strange man, you oblige me very much by the care you take
to have it well translated, and you thank me for complying with your
offer. In my last, as I remember, I told you the reason why it was
so long before I writ, was an expectation of an answer from London,
concerning something I had to communicate to you: it was in short
this; I was willing to know what my bookseller would give for a good
latin copy; he told me, at last, twenty pounds. His delay was, because
he would first have known what the translator demanded. But I forced
him to make his proposal, and so I send it to you, to make what use of
it you please. He since writ me word, that a friend of his at Oxford
would, in some time, be at leisure to do it, and would undertake it. I
bid him excuse himself to him, for that it was in hands I approved of,
and some part of it now actually done. For I hope the essay (he was to
show you the next week after you writ to me last) pleased you. Think
it not a compliment, that I desire you to make what alterations you
think fit. One thing particularly you will oblige me and the world in,
and that is, in paring off some of the superfluous repetitions, which
I left in for the sake of illiterate men, and the softer sex, not used
to abstract notions and reasonings. But much of this reasoning will
be out of doors in a latin translation. I refer all to your judgement,
and so am secure it will be done as is best.

What I shall add concerning enthusiasm, I guess, will very much agree
with your thoughts, since yours jump so right with mine, about the
place where it is to come in, I having designed it for chap. 18, lib.
iv, as a false principle of reasoning often made use of. But, to give
an historical account of the various ravings men have embraced for
religion, would, I fear, be besides my purpose, and be enough to make
an huge volume.

My opinion of P. Malebranche agrees perfectly with yours. What I
have writ concerning 'seeing all things in God', would make a little
treatise of itself. But I have not quite gone through it, for fear
I should by somebody or other be tempted to print it. For I love not
controversies, and have a personal kindness for the author. When I
have the happiness to see you, we will consider it together, and you
shall dispose of it.

I think I shall make some other additions to be put into your latin
translation, and particularly concerning the 'connection of ideas',
which has not, that I know, been hitherto considered, and has, I
guess, a greater influence upon our minds than is usually taken notice
of. Thus, you see, I make you the confident of my reveries; you would
be troubled with a great many more of them, were you nearer.


_True friendship_

Oates, 27 _Oct._ 1698.


Death has, with a violent hand, hastily snatched from you a dear
brother. I doubt not but, on this occasion, you need all the
consolation can be given to one unexpectedly bereft of so worthy and
near a relation. Whatever inclination I may have to alleviate your
sorrow, I bear too great a share in the loss, and am too sensibly
touched with it myself, to be in a condition to discourse with you on
this subject, or do any thing but mingle my tears with yours. I have
lost, in your brother, not only an ingenious and learned acquaintance,
all that the world esteemed; but an intimate and sincere friend, whom
I truly loved, and by whom I was truly loved: and what a loss that is,
those only can be sensible who know how valuable, and how scarce,
a true friend is, and how far to be preferred to all other sorts of
treasure. He has left a son, who I know was dear to him, and deserved
to be so as much as was possible, for one of his age. I cannot think
myself wholly incapacitated from paying some of the affection and
service that was due from me to my dear friend, as long as he has a
child, or a brother, in the world. If, therefore, there be any thing,
at this distance, wherein I, in my little sphere, may be able to serve
your nephew or you, I beg you, by the memory of our deceased friend,
to let me know it, that you may see that one who loved him so well,
cannot but be tenderly concerned for his son, nor be otherwise than I
am, Sir, etc.




_An explanation_

Derby House, 22 _Feb._ 1677-8


I am greatly owing to your Lordship for your last favour at St.
John's, and did, till now, reckon myself under no less a debt to my
Ladies for the honour at the same time done me, in their commands
touching Mr. Bonithan. But, my Lord, I have lately had the misfortune
of being undeceived in the latter, by coming to know the severity with
which some of my Ladies are pleased to discourse of me in relation
thereto. I assure your Lordship, I was so big with the satisfaction of
having an opportunity given me by my Ladies at once of obliging them,
paying a small respect to you, and doing a good office to a deserving
gentleman, that I did not let one day pass before I had bespoke and
obtained His Majesty's and Royal Highness's promise of favour in Mr.
Bonithan's behalf: and was so far afterwards from failing him in my
further assistances with Captain Trevanion and others, that I took
early care to secure him a lieutenancy, by a commission actually
signed for him by the King, in the ship _Stavereene_, relying upon the
character Captain Trevanion had given me of his capacity to abide
the examination, established by the King, upon the promotion of
lieutenants; which was not only the most I should have done in the
case of a brother, but more than ever I did in any man's case before,
or, for his sake, do think I shall ever do again. True it is, my Lord,
that when, upon his examination by the officers of the Navy, he was
found not so fully qualified for the office of lieutenant as was
requisite, I did with all respect, and to his seeming satisfaction,
advise him to pass a little longer time in the condition he was
then in, under a stricter application of himself to the practice of
navigation. And, in pursuance of my duty to the King, I did acquaint
him also with Mr. Bonithan's present unreadiness; and had, therefore,
a command given me for conferring the commission prepared for him upon
another, who, upon examination, at the same time with Mr. Bonithan,
was found better qualified for it. As to what I understand my Ladies
are pleased to entertain themselves and others with, to my reproach,
as if money had been wanting in the case, it is a reproach lost upon
me, my Lord, who am known to be so far from needing any purgation in
the point of selling places, as never to have taken so much as my fee
for a commission or warrant to any one officer in the Navy, within
the whole time, now near twenty years, that I have had the honour of
serving His Majesty therein--a self-denial at this day so little in
fashion, and yet so chargeable to maintain, that I take no pride,
and as little pleasure, in the mentioning it, further than it happily
falls in here to my defence against the mistake the Ladies seem
disposed to arraign me by on this occasion. Besides that, in the
particular case of this gentleman, Lieut. Beele, who enjoys the
commission designed for Mr. Bonithan, he is one whose face I never
saw either before or since the time of his receiving it, nor know one
friend he has in the world to whom he owes this benefit, other than
the King's justice and his own modest merit: which, having said, it
remains only that I assure your Lordship what I have so said, is not
calculated with any regard to, much less any repining at, the usage
the Ladies are pleased to show me in this affair, for 'tis fit I bear
it, but to acquit myself to your Lordship in my demeanour towards
them, as becomes their and, my Lord,

Your Lordship's most obedient Servant.


_A wedding in the city_

20 _Sept._ 1695.


You are very good, and pray continue so, by as many kind messages as
you can, and notices of your health, such as the bearer brings you
back my thanks for, and a thousand services. Here's a sad town, and
God knows when it will be a better, our losses at sea making a very
melancholy exchange at both ends of it; the gentlewomen of this, to
say nothing of the other, sitting with their arms across, without a
yard of muslin in their shops to sell, while the ladies, they tell
me, walk pensively by, without a shilling, I mean a good one, in their
pockets to buy. One thing there is indeed, that comes in my way as a
Governor, to hear of, which carries a little mirth with it, and indeed
is very odd. Two wealthy citizens that are lately dead, and left their
estates, one to a Blue Coat boy, and the other to a Blue Coat girl, in
Christ's Hospital. The extraordinariness of which has led some of
the magistrates to carry it on to a match, which is ended in a public
wedding; he in his habit of blue satin, led by two of the girls, and
she in blue, with an apron green and petticoat yellow, all of sarsnet,
led by two of the boys of the house, through Cheapside to Guildhall
Chapel, where they were married by the Dean of St. Paul's, she given
by my Lord Mayor. The wedding dinner, it seems, was kept in the
Hospital Hall, but the great day will be tomorrow, St Matthew's; when,
so much I am sure of, my Lord Mayor will be there, and myself also
have had a ticket of invitation thither, and if I can, will be there
too, but, for other particulars, I must refer you to my next, and so,

Dear madam, Adieu.

Bow Bells are just now ringing, ding dong, but whether for this, I
cannot presently tell; but it is likely enough, for I have known them
ring upon much foolisher occasions, and lately too.


_Reply to an old friend_

Clapham, 7 _Aug._ 1700.

I have no herds to mind, nor will my Doctor allow me any books here.
What then, will you say, too, are you doing? Why, truly, nothing that
will bear naming, and yet I am not, I think, idle; for who can, that
has so much of past and to come to think on, as I have? And thinking,
I take it, is working, though many forms beneath what my Lady and you
are doing. But pray remember what o'clock it is with you and me; and
be not now, by overstirring, too bold with your present complaint, any
more than I dare be with mine, which, too, has been no less kind in
giving me my warning, than the other to you, and to neither of us,
I hope, and, through God's mercy, dare say, either unlooked for or
unwelcome. I wish, nevertheless, that I were able to administer any
thing towards the lengthening that precious rest of life which God has
thus long blessed you, and, in you, mankind, with; but I have always
been too little regardful of my own health, to be a prescriber to
others. I cannot give myself the scope I otherwise should in talking
now to you at this distance, on account of the care extraordinary I am
now under from Mrs. Skinner's being suddenly fallen very ill; but ere
long I may possibly venture at entertaining you with something from
my young man in exchange--I don't say in payment, for the pleasure you
gratify me with from yours, whom I pray God to bless with continuing
but what he is! and I'll ask no more for him.




_The Dean at home_

London, 16 _Jan._ 1710-11.

O faith, young women, I have sent my letter N. 13, without one crumb
of an answer to any of MD's; there is for you now; and yet Presto
ben't angry faith, not a bit, only he will begin to be in pain next
Irish post, except he sees MD's little handwriting in the glass frame
at the bar of St. James's Coffee-house, where Presto would never go
but for that purpose. Presto's at home, God help him, every night from
six till bed time, and has as little enjoyment or pleasure in life at
present as anybody in the world, although in full favour with all the
ministry. As hope saved, nothing gives Presto any sort of dream of
happiness, but a letter now and then from his own dearest MD. I love
the expectation of it, and when it does not come, I comfort myself,
that I have it yet to be happy with. Yes faith, and when I write to
MD, I am happy too; it is just as if methinks you were here, and I
prating to you, and telling you where I have been: Well, says you,
Presto, come, where have you been to-day? come, let's hear now. And so
then I answer; Ford and I were visiting Mr. Lewis, and Mr. Prior, and
Prior has given me a fine Plautus, and then Ford would have had me
dine at his lodgings, and so I would not; and so I dined with him at
an eating-house; which I have not done five times since I came here;
and so I came home, after visiting Sir Andrew Fountaine's mother and
sister, and Sir Andrew Fountaine is mending, though slowly.

17. I was making, this morning, some general visits, and at twelve I
called at the coffee-house for a letter from MD; so the man said he
had given it to Patrick; then I went to the Court of requests and
treasury to find Mr. Harley, and after some time spent in mutual
reproaches, I promised to dine with him; I stayed there till seven,
then called at Sterne's and Leigh's to talk about your box, and to
have it sent by Smyth; Sterne says he has been making inquiries,
and will set things right as soon as possible. I suppose it lies at
Chester, at least I hope so, and only wants a lift over to you....
Well, so I came home to read my letter from Stella, but the dog
Patrick was abroad; at last he came, and I got my letter; I found
another hand had superscribed it; when I opened it, I found it written
all in French, and subscribed Bernage: faith, I was ready to fling
it at Patrick's head. Bernage tells me, he had been to desire your
recommendation to me to make him a captain; and your cautious answer,
'That he had as much power with me as you,' was a notable one; if you
were here, I would present you to the ministry as a person of ability.
Bernage should let me know where to write to him; this is the second
letter I have had without any direction; however, I beg I may not have
a third, but that you will ask him, and send me how I shall direct
to him. In the meantime, tell him, that if regiments are to be raised
here, as he says, I will speak to George Granville, secretary at war,
to make him a captain; and use what other interest I conveniently can.
I think that is enough, and so tell him, and do not trouble me with
his letters when I expect them from MD; do you hear, young women,
write to Presto.

18. I was this morning with Mr. Secretary St. John, and we were to
dine at Mr. Harley's alone, about some business of importance; but
there were two or three gentlemen there. Mr. Secretary and I went
together from his office to Mr. Harley's, and thought to have been
very wise; but the deuce a bit: the company stayed, and more came,
and Harley went away at seven, and the secretary and I stayed with the
rest of the company till eleven; I would then have had him come away,
but he was in for it; and though he swore he would come away at that
flask, there I left him. I wonder at the civility of these people;
when he saw I would drink no more, he would always pass the bottle by
me, and yet I could not keep the toad from drinking himself, nor he
would not let me go neither, nor Masham, who was with us. When I
got home, I found a parcel directed to me, and opening it, I found
a pamphlet written entirely against myself, not by name, but against
something I writ: it is pretty civil, and affects to be so, and I
think I will take no notice of it; it is against something written
very lately; and indeed I know not what to say, nor do I care; and so
you are a saucy rogue for losing your money to-day at Stoyte's; to let
that bungler beat you, my Stella, are not you ashamed? well, I forgive
you this once, never do so again; no, noooo. Kiss and be friends,
sirrah.--Come, let me go sleep, I go earlier to bed than formerly; and
have not been out so late these two months; but the secretary was in a
drinking humour. So good night, myownlittledearsaucyinsolentrogues.

19. Then you read that long word in the last line, no faith have not
you. Well, when will this letter come from our MD? to-morrow or next
day without fail; yes faith, and so it is coming. This was an insipid
snowy day, and I dined gravely with Mrs. Vanhomrigh, and came home,
and am now got to bed a little after ten; I remember old Culpepper's

  Would you have a settled head,
  You must early go to bed:
  I tell you, and I tell it again,
  You must be in bed at ten.

20. And so I went to-day with my new wig, o hoao, to visit Lady
Worsley, whom I had not seen before, although she was near a month in
town. Then I walked in the Park to find Mr. Ford, whom I had promised
to meet, and coming down the Mall, who should come towards me but
Patrick, and gives me five letters out of his pocket. I read the
superscription of the first, Pshoh, said I; of the second, pshoh
again; of the third, pshah, pshah, pshah; of the fourth, a gad, a gad,
a gad, I am in a rage; of the fifth and last, O hoooa; ay marry
this is something, this is our MD, so truly we opened it, I think
immediately, and it began the most impudently in the world, thus; Dear
Presto, we are even thus far. Now we are even, quoth Stephen, when he
gave his wife six blows for one. I received your ninth four days after
I had sent my thirteenth. But I'll reckon with you anon about that,
young women. Why did not you recant at the end of your letter when you
got your eleventh? tell me that, huzzies base, were we even then, were
we, sirrah? but I will not answer your letter now, I will keep it for
another time. We had a great deal of snow to-day, and it is terrible

21. _Morning_. It has snowed terribly all night, and is vengeance
cold. I am not yet up, but cannot write long; my hands will freeze. Is
there a good fire, Patrick? Yes, sir, then I will rise; come take away
the candle. You must know I write on the dark side of my bedchamber,
and am forced to have a candle till I rise, for the bed stands between
me and the window, and I keep the curtains shut this cold weather.
So pray let me rise, and, Patrick, here, take away the candle.--_At
night._ We are now here in high frost and snow, the largest fire can
hardly keep us warm. It is very ugly walking, a baker's boy broke his
thigh yesterday. I walk slow, make short steps, and never tread on my
heel. It is a good proverb the Devonshire people have:

  Walk fast in snow,
  In frost walk slow,
  And still as you go,
  Tread on your toe:

  When frost and snow are both together,
  Sit by the fire and spare shoe leather.

22. _Morning_. Starving, starving, uth, uth, uth, uth, uth.--Do not
you remember I used to come into your chamber, and turn Stella out of
her chair, and rake up the fire in a cold morning, and cry uth, uth,
uth? O faith, I must rise, my hand is so cold I can write no more....

26, 27, 28, 29, 30. I have been so lazy and negligent these last four
days, that I could not write to MD. My head is not in order, and yet
it is not absolutely ill, but giddyish, and makes me listless; I walk
every day, and hope I shall grow better. I wish I were with MD; I long
for spring and good weather, and then I will come over. My riding in
Ireland keeps me well. I am very temperate, and eat of the easiest
meats as I am directed, and hope the malignity will go off; but
one fit shakes me a long time. I dined to-day with Lord Mountjoy,
yesterday at Mr. Stone's in the city, on Sunday at Vanhomrigh's,
Saturday with Ford, and Friday I think at Vanhomrigh's, and that's all
the journal I can send MD; for I was so lazy while I was well that I
could not write. I thought to have sent this to-night, but it is ten,
and I'll go to bed, and write on the other side to Parsivol to-morrow,
and send it on Thursday; and so good night my dears, and love Presto,
and be healthy, and Presto will be so too.


_The Dean makes his bow_

1 _July_, 1714.


When I was with you, I have said more than once, that I would never
allow quality or station made any real difference between men. Being
now absent and forgotten, I have changed my mind: you have a thousand
people who can pretend they love you, with as much appearance of
sincerity as I, so that, according to common justice, I can have but
a thousandth part in return of what I give. And this difference is
wholly owing to your station. And the misfortune is still the greater,
because I always loved you just so much the worse for your station:
for, in your public capacity, you have often angered me to the heart,
but, as a private man, never once. So that, if I only look toward
myself, I could wish you a private man to-morrow: for I have nothing
to ask; at least nothing that you will give, which is the same thing:
and then you would see whether I should not with much more willingness
attend you in a retirement, whenever you please to give me leave, than
ever I did at London or Windsor. From these sentiments I will never
write to you, if I can help it, otherwise than as to a private person,
or allow myself to have been obliged to you in any other capacity.

The memory of one great instance of your candour and justice, I will
carry to my grave; that having been in a manner domestic with you
for almost four years, it was never in the power of any public or
concealed enemy to make you think ill of me, though malice and envy
were often employed to that end. If I live, posterity shall know that,
and more; which, though you, and somebody that shall be nameless, seem
to value less than I could wish, is all the return I can make you.
Will you give me leave to say how I would desire to stand in your
memory? As one, who was truly sensible of the honour you did him,
though he was too proud to be vain upon it; as one, who was neither
assuming, officious, nor teasing; who never wilfully misrepresented
persons or facts to you, nor consulted his passions when he gave
a character; and lastly, as one, whose indiscretions proceeded
altogether from a weak head, and not an ill heart. I will add one
thing more, which is the highest compliment I can make, that I never
was afraid of offending you, nor am now in any pain for the manner
I write to you in. I have said enough; and, like one at your levee,
having made my bow, I shrink back into the crowd.


_News from the country_

25 _Jan._ 1724-5.

I have a packet of letters, which I intended to send by Molly, who has
been stopped three days by the bad weather; but now I will send them
by the post to-morrow to Kells, and enclosed to Mr. Tickell there is
one to you, and one to James Stopford.

I can do no work this terrible weather; which has put us all seventy
times out of patience. I have been deaf nine days, and am now pretty
well recovered again.

Pray desire Mr. Stanton and Worral to continue giving themselves some
trouble with Mr. Pratt; but let it succeed or not, I hope I shall be

Mrs. Johnson swears it will rain till Michaelmas. She is so pleased
with her pick-axe, that she wears it fastened to her girdle on her
left side, in balance with her watch. The lake is strangely overflown,
and we are desperate about turf, being forced to buy it three miles
off: and Mrs. Johnson (God help her!) gives you many a curse. Your
mason is come, but cannot yet work upon your garden. Neither can I
agree with him about the great wall. For the rest, _vide_ the letter
you will have on Monday, if Mr. Tickell uses you well.

The news of this country is, that the maid you sent down, John
Farelly's sister, is married; but the portion and settlement are yet a
secret. The cows here never give milk on midsummer eve.

You would wonder what carking and caring there is among us for small
beer and lean mutton, and starved lamb, and stopping gaps, and driving
cattle from the corn. In that we are all-to-be-Dingleyed.

The ladies' room smokes; the rain drops from the skies into the
kitchen; our servants eat and drink like the devil, and pray for rain,
which entertains them at cards and sleep; which are much lighter than
spades, sledges, and crows. Their maxim is,

  Eat like a Turk,
  Sleep like a dormouse;
  Be last at work,
  At victuals foremost.

Which is all at present; hoping you and your good family are well, as
we are all at this present writing &c.

Robin has just carried out a load of bread and cold meat for
breakfast; this is their way; but now a cloud hangs over them, for
fear it should hold up, and the clouds blow off.

I write on till Molly comes in for the letter. O, what a draggletail
will she be before she gets to Dublin! I wish she may not happen to
fall upon her back by the way.

I affirm against Aristotle, that cold and rain congregate homogenes,
for they gather together you and your crew, at whist, punch, and
claret. Happy weather for Mrs. Maul, Betty, and Stopford, and all true
lovers of cards and laziness.


  Far from our debtors,
  No Dublin letters,
  Not seen by our betters.


  A companion with news,
  A great want of shoes;
  Eat lean meat, or choose;
  A church without pews.
  Our horses astray,
  No straw, oats, or hay;
  December in May,
  Our boys run away,
  All servants at play.

Molly sends for the letter.


_Mostly about Gulliver_

Dublin, 17 _Nov._ 1726.

I am just come from answering a letter of Mrs. Howard's, writ in such
mystical terms, that I should never have found out the meaning, if a
book had not been sent me called _Gulliver's Travels_, of which you
say so much in yours. I read the book over, and in the second volume
observed several passages which appear to be patched and altered, and
the style of a different sort, unless I am mistaken. Dr. Arbuthnot
likes the projectors least; others, you tell me, the flying island;
some think it wrong to be so hard upon whole bodies or corporations,
yet the general opinion is, that reflections on particular persons are
most to be blamed; so that in these cases, I think the best method is
to let censure and opinion take their course. A bishop here said, that
book was full of improbable lies, and for his part, he hardly believed
a word of it; and so much for Gulliver.

Going to England is a very good thing, if it were not attended with
an ugly circumstance of returning to Ireland. It is a shame you do not
persuade your ministers to keep me on that side, if it were but by a
court expedient of keeping me in prison for a plotter; but at the same
time I must tell you, that such journeys very much shorten my life,
for a month here is very much longer than six at Twickenham.

How comes friend Gay to be so tedious? Another man can publish fifty
thousand lies sooner than he can publish fifty fables.... Let me add,
that if I were Gulliver's friend, I would desire all my acquaintance
to give out that his copy was basely mangled and abused, and added to,
and blotted out by the printer; for so to me it seems in the second
volume particularly.



_Enquiries into Mr. Gay's pursuits_

Dublin, 4 _May_, 1732.

I am now as lame as when you writ your letter, and almost as lame as
your letter itself, for want of that limb from my lady duchess, which
you promised, and without which I wonder how it could limp hither. I
am not in a condition to make a true step even on Amesbury Downs, and
I declare that a corporeal false step is worse than a political one:
nay, worse than a thousand political ones, for which I appeal to
courts and ministers, who hobble on and prosper without the sense of
feeling. To talk of riding and walking is insulting me, for I can
as soon fly as do either. It is your pride or laziness, more than
chair-hire, that makes the town expensive. No honour is lost by
walking in the dark; and in the day you may beckon a blackguard
boy under a gate, near your visiting place, (experto crede,) save
elevenpence, and get half-a-crown's worth of health. The worst of my
present misfortune is, that I eat and drink, and can digest neither
for want of exercise; and, to increase my misery, the knaves are
sure to find me at home, and make huge void spaces in my cellars. I
congratulate with you for losing your great acquaintance; in such a
case, philosophy teaches that we must submit, and be content with good
ones. I like Lord Cornbury's refusing his pension, but I demur at his
being elected for Oxford; which, I conceive, is wholly changed; and
entirely devoted to new principles; so it appeared to me the two last
times I was there. I find by the whole cast of your letter, that you
are as giddy and as volatile as ever: just the reverse of Mr. Pope,
who has always loved a domestic life from his youth. I was going to
wish you had some little place that you could call your own, but, I
profess I do not know you well enough to contrive any one system
of life that would please you. You pretend to preach up riding and
walking to the duchess, yet from my knowledge of you after twenty
years, you always joined a violent desire of perpetually shifting
places and company, with a rooted laziness, and an utter impatience of
fatigue. A coach and six horses is the utmost exercise you can bear;
and this only when you can fill it with such company as is best suited
to your taste, and how glad would you be if it could waft you in the
air to avoid jolting; while I, who am so much later in life, can,
or at least could, ride five hundred miles on a trotting horse. You
mortally hate writing, only because it is the thing you chiefly ought
to do; as well to keep up the vogue you have in the world, as to make
you easy in your fortune. You are merciful to everything but money,
your best friend, whom you treat with inhumanity. Be assured I will
hire people to watch all your motions, and to return me a faithful
account. Tell me, have you cured your absence of mind? can you attend
to trifles? can you at Amesbury write domestic libels to divert the
family and neighbouring squires for five miles round? or venture so
far on horseback, without apprehending a stumble at every step? can
you set the footmen a-laughing as they wait at dinner? and do the
duchess's women admire your wit? in what esteem are you with the vicar
of the parish? can you play with him at backgammon? have the farmers
found out that you cannot distinguish rye from barley, or an oak from
a crab-tree? You are sensible that I know the full extent of your
country skill is in fishing for roaches or gudgeons at the highest.

I love to do you good offices with your friends, and therefore desire
you will show this letter to the duchess, to improve her grace's good
opinion of your qualifications, and convince her how useful you are
likely to be in the family. Her grace shall have the honour of my
correspondence again when she goes to Amesbury. Hear a piece of Irish
news; I buried the famous General Meredyth's father last night in my
cathedral, he was ninety-six years old; so that Mrs. Pope may live
seven years longer. You saw Mr. Pope in health, pray is he generally
more healthy than when I was among you? I would know how your own
health is, and how much wine you drink in a day? My stint in company
is a pint at noon, and half as much at night; but I often dine at home
like a hermit, and then I drink little or none at all. Yet I differ
from you, for I would have society, if I could get what I like, people
of middle understanding, and middle rank.





_Translation of Homer_

26 _Oct._ 1713.

I was extremely glad to receive a letter from you, but more so upon
reading the contents of it. The work you mention will, I dare say,
very sufficiently recommend itself when your name appears with the
proposals: and if you think I can any way contribute to the forwarding
of them, you cannot lay a greater obligation upon me, than by
employing me in such an office. As I have an ambition of having it
known that you are my friend, I shall be very proud of showing it by
this or any other instance. I question not but your translation will
enrich our tongue, and do honour to our country; for I conclude of
it already from those performances with which you have obliged the
public. I would only have you consider how it may most turn to your
advantage. Excuse my impertinence in this particular, which proceeds
from my zeal for your ease and happiness. The work would cost you a
great deal of time, and, unless you undertake it, will, I am afraid,
never be executed by any other; at least I know none of this age that
is equal to it besides yourself.

I am at present wholly immersed in country business, and begin to take
a delight in it. I wish I might hope to see you here some time, and
will not despair of it, when you engage in a work that will require
solitude and retirement.


_A bequest_

_June_ 1719.


I cannot wish that any of my writings should last longer than the
memory of our friendship, and therefore I thus publicly bequeath them
to you, in return for the many valuable instances of your affection.

That they may come to you with as little disadvantage as possible,
I have left the care of them to one, whom, by the experience of some
years, I know well-qualified to answer my intentions. He has already
the honour and happiness of being under your protection; and as he
will very much stand in need of it, I cannot wish him better than
that he may continue to deserve the favour and countenance of such a

I have no time to lay out in forming such compliments as would but ill
suit that familiarity between us which was once my greatest pleasure,
and will be my greatest honour hereafter. Instead of them, accept of
my hearty wishes that the great reputation you have acquired so early,
may increase more and more, and that you may long serve your country
with those excellent talents and unblemished integrity, which have so
powerfully recommended you to the most gracious and amiable monarch
that ever filled a throne. May the frankness and generosity of your
spirit continue to soften and subdue your enemies, and gain you many
friends, if possible, as sincere as yourself. When you have found
such, they cannot wish you more true happiness than I, who am with the
greatest zeal, dear sir,

Your most entirely affectionate friend
and faithful obedient servant.




_An explicit declaration_

11 _Aug._ 1707.

Madam,--I writ you on Saturday, by Mrs. Warren, and give you this
trouble to urge the same request I made then; which was, that I may be
admitted to wait upon you. I should be very far from desiring this if
it were a transgression of the most severe rules to allow it. I know
you are very much above the little arts which are frequent in your
sex, of giving unnecessary torment to their admirers; I therefore hope
you will do so much justice to the generous passion I have for you, as
to let me have an opportunity of acquainting you upon what motives
I pretend to your good opinion. I shall not trouble you with my
sentiments till I know how they will be received; and as I know no
reason why the difference of sex should make our language to each
other differ from the ordinary rules of right reason, I shall affect
plainness and sincerity in my discourse to you, as much as other
lovers do perplexity and rapture. Instead of saying 'I shall die for
you', I profess I should be glad to lead my life with you. You are
as beautiful, as witty, as prudent, and as good-humoured as any woman
breathing; but, I must confess to you, I regard all these excellences
as you will please to direct them for my happiness or misery. With me,
madam, the only lasting motive to love, is the hope of its becoming
mutual. I beg of you to let Mrs. Warren send me word when I may attend
you. I promise you, I will talk of nothing but indifferent things;
though, at the same time, I know not how I shall approach you in the
tender moment of first seeing you after this declaration which has
been made by, madam,

Your most obedient and most faithful
humble servant.


_A pleasing transport_

Smith Street, Westminster, 1707.

Madam,--I lay down last night with your image in my thoughts, and
have awakened this morning in the same contemplation. The pleasing
transport with which I am delighted has a sweetness in it attended
with a train of ten thousand soft desires, anxieties, and cares.
The day arises on my hopes with new brightness; youth, beauty, and
innocence are the charming objects that steal me from myself, and give
me joys above the reach of ambition, pride, or glory. Believe me, fair
one, to throw myself at your feet is giving myself the highest bliss
I know on earth. Oh, hasten, ye minutes! bring on the happy morning
wherein to be ever hers will make me look down on thrones! Dear Molly,
I am tenderly, passionately, faithfully thine.


_A lover betrays himself_

St. James's Coffee House, 1 _Sept._ 1707

Madam,--It is the hardest thing in the world to be in love, and yet to
attend to business. As for me, all who speak to me find me out, and I
must lock myself up, or other people will do it for me.

A gentleman asked me this morning, 'What news from Lisbon?' and I
answered, 'She's exquisitely handsome.' Another desired to know when I
had been last at Hampton Court. I replied, 'It will be on Tuesday come
se'nnight.' Pr'ythee allow me at least to kiss your hand before that
day, that my mind may be in some composure. O love!

  A thousand torments dwell about thee!
  Yet who would live to live without thee?

Methinks I could write a volume to you; but all the language on earth
would fail in saying how much, and with what disinterested passion, I
am ever yours.


_He proposes an outing_

Lord Sunderland's Office, 19 May, 1708.

Eleven o'clock.

Dear Prue,--I desire you to get the coach and yourself ready as soon
as you can conveniently, and call for me here, from whence we will go
and spend some time together in the fresh air in free conference. Let
my best periwig be put in the coach-box, and my new shoes, for it is
a great comfort to be well dressed in agreeable company. You are vital
life to your obliged, affectionate husband, and humble servant.


_His greatest affliction_

12 _Aug._ 1708.

Madam,--I have your letter, wherein you let me know that the little
dispute we have had is far from being a trouble to you; nevertheless
I assure you, any disturbance between us is the greatest affliction to
me imaginable. You talk of the judgement of the world; I shall never
govern my actions by it, but by the rules of morality and right
reason. I love you better than the light of my eyes or the life-blood
in my heart; but you are also to understand that neither my sight
shall be so far enchanted, nor my affection so much master of me,
as to make me forget our common interest. To attend my business as
I ought, and improve my fortune, it is necessary that my time and
my will should be under no direction but my own.... I write all this
rather to explain my own thoughts to you, than to answer your letter
distinctly. I enclose it to you, that upon second thoughts, you may
see the disrespectful manner in which you treat

Your affectionate, faithful husband.


_Four characteristic notes_


From the Press, one in the morning, 30 _Sept._ 1710.

Dear Prue,--I am very sleepy and tired, but could not think of closing
my eyes till I had told you I am, dearest creature,

Your most affectionate and faithful husband.


Bloomsbury Square, 24 _Dec._ 1713.

Dear Prue,--I dine with Lord Halifax and shall be at home half hour
after six. For thee I die, for thee I languish.


16 _Feb._ 1716-17.

Dear Prue,--Sober or not, I am ever yours.


Thursday, 3 in the afternoon, 2 _May_, 1717.

I had a very painful night last night; but, after a little chocolate
an hour or two ago, and a chicken for dinner, am much more at ease.


_The natural slave of beauty_.

20 _June_, 1717.

Dear Prue,--I have yours of the 14th, and am infinitely obliged to you
for the length of it. I do not know another whom I could commend for
that circumstance; but where we entirely love, the continuance of
anything they do to please us is a pleasure. As for your relations,
once for all, pray take it for granted, that my regard and conduct
towards all and singular of them shall be as you direct.

I hope, by the grace of God, to continue what you wish me, every
way, an honest man. My wife and my children are the objects that have
wholly taken up my heart; and as I am not invited or encouraged in
anything which regards the public, I am easy under that neglect or
envy of my past actions, and cheerfully contract that diffusive spirit
within the interests of my own family. You are the head of us; and I
stoop to a female reign as being naturally made the slave of beauty.
But to prepare for our manner of living when we are again together,
give me leave to say, while I am here at leisure, and come to lie at
Chelsea, what I think may contribute to our better way of living.
I very much approve Mrs. Evans and her husband; and if you take my
advice, I would have them a being in our house, and Mrs. Clark the
care and inspection of the nursery. I would have you entirely
at leisure to pass your time with me in diversions, in books, in
entertainments, and no manner of business intrude upon us but at
stated times. For, though you are made to be the delight of my eyes,
and food of all my senses and faculties, yet a turn of care
and housewifery, and I know not what prepossession against
conversation-pleasures, robs me of the witty and the handsome woman
to a degree not to be expressed. I will work my brains and fingers to
procure us plenty of all things, and demand nothing of you but to take
delight in agreeable dresses, cheerful discourses, and gay sights,
attended by me. This may be done by putting the kitchen and the
nursery in the hands I propose; and I shall have nothing to do but to
pass as much time at home as I possibly can, in the best company in
the world. We cannot tell here what to think of the trial of my Lord
Oxford; if the ministry are in earnest in that, and I should see it
will be extended to a length of time, I will leave them to themselves,
and wait upon you. Miss Moll grows a mighty beauty, and she shall be
very prettily dressed, as likewise shall Betty and Eugene: and if
I throw away a little money in adorning my brats, I hope you will
forgive me: they are, I thank God, all very well; and the charming
form of their mother has tempered the likeness they bear to their
rough sire, who is, with the greatest fondness,

Your most obliged and obedient husband.




_Concerning Gulliver_

17 _Nov._ 1726.

About ten days ago a book was published here of the travels of one
Gulliver, which has been the conversation of the whole town ever
since: the whole impression sold in a week: and nothing is more
diverting than to hear the different opinions people give of it,
though all agree in liking it extremely. It is generally said that you
are the author; but I am told the bookseller declares, he knows
not from what hand it came. From the highest to the lowest it is
universally read, from the cabinet-council to the nursery. The
politicians to a man agree, that it is free from particular
reflections, but that the satire on general societies of men is
too severe. Not but we now and then meet with people of greater
perspicuity, who are in search for particular applications in every
leaf; and it is highly probable we shall have keys published to
give light into Gulliver's design. Lord ---- is the person who least
approves it, blaming it as a design of evil consequence to depreciate
human nature, at which it cannot be wondered that he takes most
offence, being himself the most accomplished of his species, and so
losing more than any other of that praise which is due both to the
dignity and virtue of a man. Your friend, my Lord Harcourt, commends
it very much, though he thinks in some places the matter too far
carried. The Duchess Dowager of Marlborough is in raptures at it; she
says she can dream of nothing else since she read it: she declares
that she has now found out that her whole life has been lost in
caressing the worst part of mankind, and treating the best as her
foes: and that if she knew Gulliver, though he had been the worst
enemy she ever had, she should give up her present acquaintance for
his friendship. You may see by this, that you are not much injured
by being supposed the author of this piece. If you are, you have
disobliged us, and two or three of your best friends, in not giving
us the least hint of it while you were with us; and in particular Dr.
Arbuthnot, who says it is ten thousand pities he had not known it, he
could have added such abundance of things upon every subject. Among
lady critics, some have found out that Mr. Gulliver had a particular
malice to maids of honour. Those of them who frequent the church, say
his design is impious, and that it is depreciating the works of the

Notwithstanding, I am told the princess has read it with great
pleasure. As to other critics, they think the flying island is the
least entertaining; and so great an opinion the town have of the
impossibility of Gulliver's writing at all below himself, it is agreed
that part was not writ by the same hand, though this has its defenders
too. It has passed lords and commons, _nemine contradicente_; and the
whole town, men, women, and children, are quite full of it.

Perhaps I may all this time be talking to you of a book you have never
seen, and which has not yet reached Ireland; if it has not, I believe
what we have said will be sufficient to recommend it to your reading,
and that you will order me to send it to you.

But it will be much better to come over yourself, and read it here,
where you will have the pleasure of variety of commentators, to
explain the difficult passages to you.

We all rejoice that you have fixed the precise time of your coming to
be _cum hirundine prima_; which we modern naturalists pronounce,
ought to be reckoned, contrary to Pliny, in this northern latitude of
fifty-two degrees, from the end of February, Styl. Greg., at furthest.
But to us, your friends, the coming of such a black swallow as you
will make a summer in the worst of seasons. We are no less glad at
your mention of Twickenham and Dawley; and in town you know, you have
a lodging at court.

The princess is clothed in Irish silk; pray give our service to the
weavers. We are strangely surprised to hear that the bells in Ireland
ring without your money. I hope you do not write the thing that is
not. We are afraid that B---- hath been guilty of that crime, that you
(like a houyhnhnm) have treated him as a yahoo, and discarded him your
service. I fear you do not understand these modish terms, which every
creature now understands but yourself.

You tell us your wine is bad, and that the clergy do not frequent your
house, which we look upon to be tautology. The best advice we can give
you is, to make them a present of your wine, and come away to better.

You fancy we envy you, but you are mistaken; we envy those you are
with, for we cannot envy the man we love. Adieu.




_Dryden and his critics_

Binfield in Windsor Forest, 26 _Dec_. 1704.

It was certainly a great satisfaction to me to see and converse with
a man, whom in his writings I had so long known with pleasure; but
it was a high addition to it, to hear you, at our very first meeting,
doing justice to your dead friend Mr. Dryden. I was not so happy as to
know him: _Virgilium tantum vidi_. Had I been born early enough I
must have known and loved him: for I have been assured, not only
by yourself, but by Mr. Congreve and Sir William Trumbul, that his
personal qualities were as amiable as his poetical, notwithstanding
the many libellous misrepresentations of them, against which the
former of these gentlemen has told me he will one day vindicate him. I
suppose those injuries were begun by the violence of party, but it
is no doubt they were continued by envy at his success and fame. And
those scribblers who attacked him in his latter times, were only like
gnats in a summer's evening, which are never very troublesome but in
the finest and most glorious season; for his fire, like the sun's,
shined clearest towards its setting.

You must not therefore imagine, that when you told me my own
performances were above those critics, I was so vain as to believe it;
and yet I may not be so humble as to think myself quite below their
notice. For critics, as they are birds of prey, have ever a natural
inclination to carrion: and though such poor writers as I are but
beggars, no beggar is so poor but he can keep a cur, and no author
is so beggarly but he can keep a critic. I am far from thinking the
attacks of such people any honour or dishonour even to me, much less
to Mr. Dryden. I agree with you that whatever lesser wits have arisen
since his death are but like stars appearing when the sun is set, that
twinkle only in his absence, and with the rays they have borrowed
from him. Our wit (as you call it) is but reflection or imitation,
therefore scarce to be called ours. True wit, I believe, may be
defined a justness of thought, and a facility of expression....
However, this is far from a complete definition; pray help me to a
better, as I doubt not you can.


_A few thoughts from a rambling head_

14 _Dec_. 1713.

I have been lying in wait for my own imagination, this week and more,
and watching what thoughts came up in the whirl of the fancy, that
were worth communicating to you in a letter. But I am at length
convinced that my rambling head can produce nothing of that sort; so
I must e'en be content with telling you the old story, that I love
you heartily. I have often found by experience, that nature and
truth, though never so low or vulgar, are yet pleasing when openly and
artlessly represented: it would be diverting to me to read the very
letters of an infant, could it write its innocent inconsistencies and
tautologies just as it thought them. This makes me hope a letter from
me will not be unwelcome to you, when I am conscious I write with more
unreservedness than ever man wrote, or perhaps talked, to another. I
trust your good nature with the whole range of my follies, and really
love you so well, that I would rather you should pardon me than esteem
me; since one is an act of goodness and benevolence, the other a kind
of constrained deference.

You cannot wonder my thoughts are scarce consistent, when I tell you
how they are distracted. Every hour of my life my mind is strangely
divided; this minute perhaps I am above the stars, with a thousand
systems round about me, looking forward into a vast abyss, and
losing my whole comprehension in the boundless space of creation, in
dialogues with Whiston and the astronomers; the next moment I am below
all trifles, grovelling with T---- in the very centre of nonsense: now
I am recreated with the brisk sallies and quick turns of wit, which
Mr. Steele, in his liveliest and freest humours, darts about him; and
now levelling my application to the insignificant observations and
quirks of grammar of C---- and D----.

Good God! what an incongruous animal is man! how unsettled in his best
part, his soul; and how changing and variable in his frame of body!
the constancy of the one shook by every notion, the temperament of the
other affected by every blast of wind! What is he, altogether, but a
mighty inconsistency; sickness and pain is the lot of one half of him,
doubt and fear the portion of the other! What a bustle we make about
passing our time when all our space is but a point! what aims and
ambitions are crowded into this little instant of our life, which
(as Shakespeare finely worded it) is rounded with a sleep! Our whole
extent of being is no more, in the eye of Him who gave it, than a
scarce perceptible moment of duration. Those animals whose circle of
living is limited to three or four hours, as the naturalists tell us,
are yet as long-lived, and possess as wide a field of action as man,
if we consider him with a view to all space and all eternity. Who
knows what plots, what achievements a mite may perform in his kingdom
of a grain of dust, within his life of some minutes; and of how much
less consideration than even this, is the life of man in the sight of
God, who is for ever and ever?

Who that thinks in this train, but must see the world, and its
contemptible grandeurs, lessen before him at every thought? It is
enough to make one remain stupefied in a poise of inaction, void of
all desires, of all designs, of all friendships.

But we must return (through our very condition of being) to our narrow
selves, and those things that affect ourselves: our passions, our
interests flow in upon us and unphilosophize us into mere mortals. For
my part, I never return so much into myself, as when I think of
you, whose friendship is one of the best comforts I have for the
insignificancy of myself.


_Friends to posterity_

23 _March_, 1727-8.

I send you a very odd thing, a paper printed in Boston, in New
England, wherein you will find a real person, a member of their
parliament, of the name of Jonathan Gulliver. If the fame of that
traveller has travelled thither, it has travelled very quick, to have
folks christened already by the name of the supposed author. But if
you object that no child so lately christened could be arrived at
years of maturity to be elected into parliament, I reply (to solve the
riddle) that the person is an Anabaptist, and not christened till
full age, which sets all right. However it be, the accident is very
singular that these two names should be united.

Mr. Gay's opera has been acted near forty days running, and will
certainly continue the whole season. So he has more than a fence about
his thousand pounds; he will soon be thinking of a fence about his two
thousand. Shall no one of us live as we would wish each other to live?
Shall he have no annuity, you no settlement on this side, and I
no prospect of getting to you on the other? This world is made for
Caesar,--as Cato said, for ambitious, false, or flattering people to
domineer in; nay, they would not, by their good will, leave us our
very books, thoughts, or words in quiet. I despise the world yet, I
assure you, more than either Gay or you, and the court more than all
the rest of the world. As for those scribblers for whom you apprehend
I would suppress my _Dulness_ (which, by the way, for the future you
are to call by a more pompous name, the _Dunciad_), how much that nest
of hornets are my regard will easily appear to you when you read the
_Treatise of the Bathos_.

At all adventures, yours and mine shall stand linked as friends
to posterity, both in verse and prose, and (as Tully calls it) _in
consuetudine studiorum_. Would to God our persons could but as well
and as surely be inseparable! I find my other ties dropping from me;
some worn off, some torn off, some relaxing daily: my greatest, both
by duty, gratitude, and humanity, time is shaking every moment, and
it now hangs but by a thread! I am many years the older for living so
much with one so old; much the more helpless for having been so long
helped and tendered by her; much the more considerate and tender, for
a daily commerce with one who required me justly to be both to her;
and consequently the more melancholy and thoughtful; and the less fit
for others, who want only in a companion or a friend to be amused or
entertained. My constitution too has had its share of decay as well as
my spirits, and I am as much in the decline at forty as you at sixty.
I believe we should be fit to live together could I get a little more
health, which might make me not quite insupportable. Your deafness
would agree with my dulness; you would not want me to speak when
you could not hear. But God forbid you should be as destitute of the
social comforts of life as I must when I lose my mother; or that ever
you should lose your more useful acquaintance so utterly, as to turn
your thoughts to such a broken reed as I am, who could so ill supply
your wants. I am extremely troubled at the return of your deafness;
you cannot be too particular in the accounts of your health to me;
everything you do or say in this kind obliges me, nay, delights me,
to see the justice you do me in thinking me concerned in all your
concerns; so that though the pleasantest thing you can tell me be that
you are better or easier; next to that it pleases me that you make me
the person you would complain to.

As the obtaining the love of valuable men is the happiest end I
know of this life, so the next felicity is to get rid of fools and
scoundrels; which I cannot but own to you was one part of my design in
falling upon these authors, whose incapacity is not greater than their
insincerity, and of whom I have always found (if I may quote myself),

  That each bad author is as bad a friend.

This poem will rid me of these insects.

  Cedite, Romani scriptores, cedite, Graii;
  _Nescio quid_ maius nascitur Iliade.

I mean than _my Iliad_; and I call it _Nescio quid_, which is a degree
of modesty; but however, if it silence these fellows, it must be
something greater than any _Iliad_ in Christendom. Adieu.


_A farming friend, and the Dunciad_

Dawley, 28 _June_, 1728.

I now hold the pen for my Lord Bolingbroke, who is reading your
letter between two haycocks, but his attention is somewhat diverted by
casting his eyes on the clouds, not in admiration of what you say,
but for fear of a shower. He is pleased with your placing him in the
triumvirate between yourself and me: though he says, that he doubts he
shall fare like Lepidus, while one of us runs away with all the power,
like Augustus, and another with all the pleasures, like Anthony. It is
upon a foresight of this that he has fitted up his farm, and you will
agree that his scheme of retreat at least is not founded upon weak
appearances. Upon his return from the Bath, all peccant humours, he
finds, are purged out of him; and his great temperance and economy are
so signal, that the first is fit for my constitution, and the latter
would enable you to lay up so much money as to buy a bishopric in
England. As to the return of his health and vigour, were you here, you
might inquire of his haymakers; but as to his temperance, I can answer
that (for one whole day) we have had nothing for dinner but mutton
broth, beans, and bacon, and a barn-door fowl.

Now his lordship is run after his cart, I have a moment left to myself
to tell you, that I overheard him yesterday agree with a painter
for £200, to paint his country hall with trophies of rakes, spades,
prongs, &c., and other ornaments, merely to countenance his calling
this place a farm--now turn over a new leaf.

He bids me assure you, he should be sorry not to have more schemes of
kindness for his friends than of ambition for himself; there, though
his schemes may be weak, the motives at least are strong; and he
says farther, if you could bear as great a fall and decrease of your
revenues, as he knows by experience he can, you would not live in
Ireland an hour.

The _Dunciad_ is going to be printed in all pomp, with the
inscription, which makes me proudest. It will be attended with
_proeme, prolegomena, testimonia scriptorum, index authorum_, and
notes _variorum_. As to the latter, I desire you to read over the
text, and make a few in any way you like best; whether dry raillery,
upon the style and way of commenting of trivial critics; or humourous,
upon the authors in the poem; or historical, of persons, places,
times; or explanatory, or collecting the parallel passages of the
ancients. Adieu. I am pretty well, my mother not ill, Dr. Arbuthnot
vexed with his fever by intervals; I am afraid he declines, and we
shall lose a worthy man: I am troubled about him very much.


_An invitation to England_

23 _March_, 1736-7.

Though you were never to write to me, yet what you desired in your
last, that I would write often to you, would be a very easy task: for
every day I talk with you, and of you, in my heart; and I need only
set down what that is thinking of. The nearer I find myself verging to
that period of life which is to be labour and sorrow, the more I prop
myself upon those few supports that are left me. People in this state
are like props indeed; they cannot stand alone, but two or more of
them can stand, leaning and bearing upon one another. I wish you and I
might pass this part of life together. My only necessary care is at
an end. I am now my own master too much; my house is too large; my
gardens furnish too much wood and provision for my use. My servants
are sensible and tender of me; they have intermarried, and are become
rather low friends than servants; and to all those that I see here
with pleasure, they take a pleasure in being useful. I conclude this
is your case too in your domestic life, and I sometimes think of your
old housekeeper as my nurse, though I tremble at the sea, which only
divides us. As your fears are not so great as mine, and I firmly hope
your strength still much greater, is it utterly impossible it might
once more be some pleasure to you to see England? My sole motive in
proposing France to meet in, was the narrowness of the passage by sea
from hence, the physicians having told me the weakness of my breast,
&c., is such, as a sea-sickness might endanger my life. Though one or
two of our friends are gone since you saw your native country, there
remain a few more who will last so till death; and who I cannot but
hope have an attractive power to draw you back to a country which
cannot quite be sunk or enslaved, while such spirits remain. And let
me tell you, there are a few more of the same spirit, who would awaken
all your old ideas, and revive your hopes of her future recovery and
virtue. These look up to you with reverence, and would be animated by
the sight of him at whose soul they have taken fire in his writings,
and derived from thence as much love of their species as is consistent
with a contempt for the knaves in it.

I could never be weary, except at the eyes, of writing to you; but my
real reason (and a strong one it is) for doing it so seldom, is fear;
fear of a very great and experienced evil, that of my letters being
kept by the partiality of friends, and passing into the hands and
malice of enemies, who publish them with all their imperfections on
their head, so that I write not on the common terms of honest men.

Would to God you would come over with Lord Orrery, whose care of you
in the voyage I could so certainly depend on; and bring with you your
old housekeeper and two or three servants. I have room for all, a
heart for all, and (think what you will) a fortune for all. We could,
were we together, contrive to make our last days easy, and leave some
sort of monument, what friends two wits could be in spite of all the
fools in the world. Adieu.




_A discussion on love_

3 _Sept_. 1751.

In another place, you are offended with the word gratitude; as if your
idea of love excluded gratitude.

And further on, you are offended that I call this same passion 'a
little selfish passion'.

And you say that you have known few girls, and still fewer men, whom
you have thought 'capable of being in love'.

'By this', proceed you, 'you will see that my ideas of the word love
are different from yours, when you call it a little selfish passion.'

Now, madam, if that passion is not little and selfish that makes two
vehement souls prefer the gratification of each other, often to a
sense of duty, and always to the whole world without them, be pleased
to tell me what is? And pray be so good as to define to me what the
noble passion is, of which so few people of either sex are capable.
Give me your ideas of it.

I put not this question as a puzzler, a bamboozler, but purely for
information; and that I may make my Sir Charles susceptible of the
generous (may I say generous?) flame, and yet know what he is about,
yet be a reasonable man.

Harriet's passion is founded in gratitude for relief given her in a
great exigence. But the man who rescued her is not, it seems, to have
such a word as gratitude in his head, in return for her love.

I repeat, that I will please you if I can; please you, Miss Mulso,
I here mean (before I meant not you particularly, my dear, but your
sex), in Sir Charles's character; and I sincerely declare, that I
would rather form his character to your liking, than to the liking of
three parts out of four of the persons I am acquainted with.

You are one of my best girls, and best judges. Of whom have I the
opinion that I have of Miss Mulso on these nice subjects?--I ask
therefore repeatedly for your definition of the passion which you
dignify by the word noble; and from which you exclude everything mean,
little, or selfish.

And you really think it marvellous that a young woman should find a
man of exalted merit to be in love with? Why, truly, I am half of your
mind; for how should people find what, in general, they do not seek?
Yet what good creatures are many girls! They will be in love for all

Why, yes, to be sure, they would be glad of a Sir Charles Grandison,
and prefer him even to a Lovelace, were he capable of being terribly
in love. And yet, I know one excellent girl who is afraid 'that ladies
in general will think him too wise'.--Dear, dear girls, help me to a
few monkey-tricks to throw into his character, in order to shield him
from contempt for his wisdom.

'It is one of my maxims,' you say, 'that people even of bad hearts
will admire and love people of good ones.' Very true!--and yet
admiration and love, in the sense before us, do not always shake
hands, except at parting, and with an intention never to meet again. I
have known women who professed to admire good men, but have chosen
to marry men--not so good, when lovers of both sorts have tendered
themselves to their acceptance. There is something very pretty in the
sound of the word wild, added to the word fellow; and good sense is
a very grateful victim to be sacrificed on the altar of love. Fervour
and extravagance in expressions will please. How shall a woman,
who, moreover, loves to be admired, know a man's heart, but from
his lips?--Let him find flattery, and she will find credulity. Sweet
souls! can they be always contradicting?

You believe it is not in human nature, however depraved, to prefer
evil to good in another, whatever people may do in themselves. Why, no
one would really think so, did not experience convince us that many,
very many young women, in the article of marriage, though not before
thought to be very depraved, are taken by this green sickness of the
soul, and prefer dirt and rubbish to wholesome diet. The result of the
matter is this, with very many young women: they will admire a good
man, but they will marry a bad one. Are not rakes pretty fellows?

But one thing let me add, to comfort you in relation to Harriet's
difficulties: I intend to make her shine by her cordial approbation,
as she goes along, of every good action of her beloved. She is
humbled by her love (suspense in love is a mortifier) to think herself
inferior to his sisters; but I intend to raise her above them, even
in her own just opinion; and when she shines out the girl worthy of
a man, not exalt, but reward her, and at the same time make him think
himself highly rewarded by the love of so frank and so right an heart.

There now!--Will that do, my Miss Mulso?

I laid indeed a heavy hand on the good Clarissa. But I had begun with
her, with a view to the future saint in her character; and could she,
but by sufferings, shine as she does?

Do you, my dear child, look upon me as your paternal friend.




_The Viennese court_

Vienna, 14 _Sept_. o.s. [1716].

Though I have so lately troubled you, my dear sister, with a long
letter, yet I will keep my promise in giving you an account of my
first going to court.

In order to that ceremony, I was squeezed up in a gown, and adorned
with a gorget and the other implements thereunto belonging: a dress
very inconvenient, but which certainly shews the neck and shape
to great advantage. I cannot forbear in this place giving you some
description of the fashions here, which are more monstrous and
contrary to all common sense and reason, than 'tis possible for you
to imagine. They build certain fabrics of gauze on their heads about
a yard high, consisting of three or four stories, fortified with
numberless yards of heavy ribbon. The foundation of this structure is
a thing they call a _Bourle_, which is exactly of the same shape
and kind, but about four times as big, as those rolls our prudent
milk-maids make use of to fix their pails upon. This machine they
cover with their own hair, which they mix with a great deal of false,
it being a particular beauty to have their heads too large to go into
a moderate tub. Their hair is prodigiously powdered, to conceal the
mixture, and set out with three or four rows of bodkins (wonderfully
large, that stick two or three inches from their hair), made of
diamonds, pearls, red, green, and yellow stones, that it certainly
requires as much art and experience to carry the load upright, as to
dance upon May-day with the garland. Their whalebone petticoats outdo
ours by several yards circumference, and cover some acres of ground.

You may easily suppose how much this extraordinary dress sets off and
improves the natural ugliness with which God Almighty has been pleased
to endow them all generally. Even the lovely empress herself is
obliged to comply, in some degree, with these absurd fashions, which
they would not quit for all the world. I had a private audience
(according to ceremony) of half an hour, and then all the other ladies
were permitted to come make their court. I was perfectly charmed
with the empress: I cannot, however, tell you that her features are
regular; her eyes are not large, but have a lively look, full of
sweetness; her complexion the finest I ever saw; her nose and forehead
well-made, but her mouth has ten thousand charms that touch the
soul. When she smiles, 'tis with a beauty and sweetness that force
adoration. She has a vast quantity of fine fair hair; but then her
person!--one must speak of it poetically to do it rigid justice; all
that the poets have said of the mien of Juno, the air of Venus, comes
not up to the truth. The Graces move with her; the famous statue of
Medicis was not formed with more delicate proportion; nothing can be
added to the beauty of her neck and hands. Till I saw them, I did not
believe there were any in nature so perfect, and I was almost sorry
that my rank here did not permit me to kiss them; but they are kissed
sufficiently; for every body that waits on her pays that homage at
their entrance, and when they take leave.

When the ladies were come in, she sat down to Quinze. I could not play
at a game I had never seen before, and she ordered me a seat at her
right hand, and had the goodness to talk to me very much, with that
grace so natural to her. I expected every moment when the men were to
come in to pay their court; but this drawing-room is very different
from that of England; no man enters it but the old grand-master, who
comes in to advertize the empress of the approach of the emperor.
His imperial majesty did me the honour of speaking to me in a very
obliging manner; but he never speaks to any of the other ladies; and
the whole passes with a gravity and air of ceremony that has something
very formal in it.

The empress Amelia, dowager of the late emperor Joseph, came
this evening to wait on the reigning empress, followed by the two
archduchesses her daughters, who are very agreeable young princesses.
Their imperial majesties rise and go to meet her at the door of the
room, after which she is seated in an armed chair, next the empress,
and in the same manner at supper, and there the men had the permission
of paying their Court. The archduchesses sit on chairs with backs
without arms. The table is entirely served, and all the dishes set on
by the empress's maids of honour, which are twelve young ladies of the
first quality. They have no salary, but their chambers at court, where
they live in a sort of confinement, not being suffered to go to the
assemblies or public places in town, except in compliment to the
wedding of a sister maid, whom the empress always presents with her
picture set in diamonds. The three first of them are called _Ladies
of the Key_, and wear gold keys by their sides; but what I find most
pleasant, is the custom which obliges them, as long as they live,
after they have left the empress's service, to make her some present
every year on the day of her feast. Her majesty is served by no
married women but the _grande maîtresse_, who is generally a widow of
the first quality, always very old, and is at the same time groom of
the stole, and mother of the maids. The dresses are not at all in the
figure they pretend to in England, being looked upon no otherwise than
as downright chambermaids.

I had audience next day of the empress mother, a princess of great
virtue and goodness, but who piques herself so much on a violent
devotion; she is perpetually performing extraordinary acts of penance,
without having ever done anything to deserve them. She has the same
number of maids of honour, whom she suffers to go in colours; but she
herself never quits her mourning; and sure nothing can be more dismal
than the mourning here, even for a brother. There is not the least bit
of linen to be seen; all black crape instead of it. The neck, ears,
and side of the face covered with a plaited piece of the same stuff,
and the face that peeps out in the midst of it, looks as if it were
pilloried. The widows wear, over and above, a crape forehead cloth;
and in this solemn weed go to all the public places of diversion
without scruple. The next day I was to wait on the empress Amelia, who
is now at her palace of retirement half a mile from the town. I had
there the pleasure of seeing a diversion wholly new to me, but which
is the common amusement of this court. The empress herself was seated
on a little throne at the end of a fine alley in the garden, and on
each side of her were ranged two parties of her ladies of honour with
other young ladies of quality, headed by the two young archduchesses,
all dressed in their hair full of jewels, with fine light guns in
their hands; and at proper distances were placed three oval pictures,
which were the marks to be shot at. The first was that of a CUPID,
filling a bumper of Burgundy, and this motto, '_Tis easy to be valiant
here_. The second a FORTUNE, holding a garland in her hand, the motto,
_For her whom Fortune favours_. The third was a SWORD, with a laurel
wreath on the point, the motto, _Here is no shame to the vanquished_.
Near the empress was a gilded trophy wreathed with flowers, and made
of little crooks, on which were hung rich Turkish handkerchiefs,
tippets, ribbons, laces, etc., for the small prizes. The empress gave
the first with her own hand, which was a fine ruby ring set round
with diamonds, in a gold snuff-box. There was for the second, a little
Cupid set with brilliants; and besides these, a set of fine china for
a tea-table enchased in gold, japan trunks, fans, and many gallantries
of the same nature. All the men of quality at Vienna were spectators;
but only the ladies had permission to shoot, and the Archduchess
Amelia carried off the first prize. I was very well pleased with
having seen this entertainment, and I do not know but it might make as
good a figure as the prize-shooting in the _Eneid_, if I could write
as well as Virgil. This is the favourite pleasure of the emperor, and
there is rarely a week without some feast of this kind, which makes
the young ladies skilful enough to defend a fort, and they laughed
very much to see me afraid to handle a gun.

My dear sister, you will easily pardon an abrupt conclusion. I
believe, by this time, you are ready to fear I would never conclude at


_Ingrafting for small-pox_

Adrianople, 1 _April_, O.S. [1717].

In my opinion, dear S., I ought rather to quarrel with you for not
answering my Nimeguen letter of August till December, than to excuse
my not writing again till now. I am sure there is on my side a very
good excuse for silence, having gone such tiresome land-journeys,
though I don't find the conclusion of them so bad as you seem to
imagine. I am very easy here, and not in the solitude you fancy me.
The great number of Greek, French, English, and Italians, that are
under our protection, make their court to me from morning till night;
and, I'll assure you, are many of them very fine ladies; for there is
no possibility for a Christian to live easily under this government
but by the protection of an embassador--and the richer they are, the
greater their danger.

Those dreadful stories you have heard of the plague have very little
foundation in truth. I own I have much ado to reconcile myself to the
sound of a word which has always given me such terrible ideas, though
I am convinced there is little more in it than a fever. As a proof we
passed through two or three towns most violently infected. In the
very next house where we lay (in one of them) two persons died of it.
Luckily for me, I knew nothing of the matter; and I was made believe,
that our second cook who fell ill here, had only a great cold.
However, we left our doctor to take care of him, and yesterday they
both arrived here in good health; and now I am let into the secret
that he has had the _plague_. There are many that escape it; neither
is the air ever infected. I am persuaded that it would be as easy to
root it out here as out of Italy and France; but it does so little
mischief, they are not very solicitous about it, and are content to
suffer this distemper instead of our variety, which they are utterly
unacquainted with.

_A propos_ of distempers: I am going to tell you a thing that I am
sure will make you wish yourself here. The small-pox, so fatal and
so general among us, is here entirely harmless by the invention of
_ingrafting_, which is the term they give it. There is a set of
old women who make it their business to perform the operation every
autumn, in the month of September, when the great heat is abated.
People send to one another to know if any of their family has a mind
to have the small-pox: they make parties for this purpose, and when
they are met (commonly fifteen or sixteen together) the old woman
comes with a nut-shell full of the matter of the best sort of
small-pox, and asks what veins you please to have opened. She
immediately rips open that you offer to her with a large needle (which
gives you no more pain than a common scratch), and puts into the vein
as much venom as can lie upon the head of her needle, and after that
binds up the little wound with a hollow bit of shell; and in this
manner opens four or five veins. The Grecians have commonly the
superstition of opening one in the middle of the forehead, in each
arm, and on the breast, to mark the sign of the cross; but this has
a very ill effect, all these wounds leaving little scars, and is not
done by those that are not superstitious, who choose to have them in
the legs, or that part of the arm that is concealed. The children
or young patients play together all the rest of the day, and are in
perfect health to the eighth. Then the fever begins to seize them,
and they keep their beds two days, very seldom three. They have very
rarely above twenty or thirty in their faces, which never mark; and in
eight days' time they are as well as before their illness. Where they
are wounded, there remain running sores during the distemper, which I
don't doubt is a great relief to it. Every year thousands undergo this
operation; and the French embassador says pleasantly, that they take
the small-pox here by way of diversion, as they take the waters in
other countries. There is no example of any one that has died in it;
and you may believe I am very well satisfied of the safety of the
experiment, since I intend to try it on my dear little son.

I am patriot enough to take pains to bring this useful invention into
fashion in England; and I should not fail to write to some of our
doctors very particularly about it, if I knew any one of them that
I thought had virtue enough to destroy such a considerable branch
of their revenue for the good of mankind. But that distemper is too
beneficial to them not to expose to all their resentment the hardy
wight that should undertake to put an end to it. Perhaps, if I live
to return, I may, however, have courage to war with them. Upon this
occasion admire the heroism in the heart of your friend.


_The Grand Signior a slave_

Adrianople, 1 _April_, o.s. 1717.

As I never can forget the smallest of your ladyship's commands, my
first business here has been to inquire after the stuffs you ordered
me to look for, without being able to find what you would like. The
difference of the dress here and at London is so great, the same sort
of things are not proper for _caftans_ and _manteaus_. However, I will
not give over my search, but renew it again at Constantinople, though
I have reason to believe there is nothing finer than what is to
be found here, being the present residence of the court. The Grand
Signior's eldest daughter was married some few days before I came; and
upon that occasion the Turkish ladies display all their magnificence.
The bride was conducted to her husband's house in very great
splendour. She is widow of the late Vizier, who was killed at
Peterwaradin, though that ought rather to be called a contract than a
marriage, not having ever lived with him: however, the greatest part
of his wealth is hers. He had the permission of visiting her in the
seraglio; and, being one of the handsomest men in the empire, had very
much engaged her affections.--When she saw this second husband, who is
at least fifty, she could not forbear bursting into tears. He is a man
of merit, and the declared favourite of the Sultan (which they call
_mosáyp_); but that is not enough to make him pleasing in the eyes of
a girl of thirteen.

The government here is entirely in the hands of the army: and the
Grand Signior, with all his absolute power, as much a slave as any of
his subjects, and trembles at a janissary's frown. Here is, indeed,
a much greater appearance of subjection than among us: a minister of
state is not spoken to, but upon the knee; should a reflection on his
conduct be dropped in a coffee-house (for they have spies everywhere),
the house would be razed to the ground, and perhaps the whole company
put to the torture. No huzzaing mobs, senseless pamphlets, and tavern
disputes about politics:

  A consequential ill that freedom draws;
  A bad effect,--but from a noble cause.

None of our harmless calling names! but when a minister here
displeases the people, in three hours' time he is dragged even from
his master's arms. They cut off his hands, head, and feet, and throw
them before the palace gate, with all the respect in the world; while
that Sultan (to whom they all profess an unlimited adoration) sits
trembling in his apartment, and dare neither defend nor revenge his
favourite. This is the blessed condition of the most absolute monarch
upon earth, who owns no _law_ but his _will_. I cannot help wishing,
in the loyalty of my heart, that the parliament would send hither a
ship-load of your passive-obedient men, that they might see arbitrary
government in its clearest strongest light, where it is hard to judge
whether the prince, people, or ministers, are most miserable. I could
make many reflections on this subject; but I know, madam, your own
good sense has already furnished you with better than I am capable of.

I went yesterday with the French embassadors to see the Grand Signior
in his passage to the mosque. He was preceded by a numerous guard of
janissaries, with vast white feathers on their heads, _spahis_
and _bostangees_ (these are foot and horse guards), and the royal
gardeners, which are a very considerable body of men, dressed in
different habits of fine lively colours, that, at a distance,
they appeared like a parterre of tulips. After them the aga of the
janissaries, in a robe of purple velvet, lined with silver tissue,
his horse led by two slaves richly dressed. Next him the _Kyzlár-aga_
(your ladyship knows this is the chief guardian of the seraglio
ladies) in a deep yellow cloth (which suited very well to his black
face) lined with sables, and last his Sublimity himself, in green
lined with the fur of a black Muscovite fox, which is supposed worth
a thousand pounds sterling, mounted on a fine horse, with furniture
embroidered with jewels. Six more horses richly furnished were led
after him; and two of his principal courtiers bore, one his gold, and
the other his silver coffee-pot, on a staff; another carried a silver
stool on his head for him to sit on.

It would be too tedious to tell your ladyship the various dresses
and turbans by which their rank is distinguished; but they were
all extremely rich and gay, to the number of some thousands; that,
perhaps, there cannot be seen a more beautiful procession. The Sultan
appeared to us a handsome man of about forty, with a very graceful
air, but something severe in his countenance, his eyes very full and
black. He happened to stop under the window where we stood, and (I
suppose being told who we were) looked upon us very attentively,
that we had full leisure to consider him, and the French embassadress
agreed with me as to his good mien: I see that lady very often; she is
young, and her conversation would be a great relief to me, if I could
persuade her to live without those forms and ceremonies that make
life formal and tiresome. But she is so delighted with her guards, her
four-and-twenty footmen, gentlemen ushers, etc., that she would rather
die than make me a visit without them: not to reckon a coachful of
attending damsels yclep'd maids of honour. What vexes me is, that as
long as she will visit with a troublesome equipage, I am obliged to do
the same: however, our mutual interest makes us much together.

I went with her the other day all round the town, in an open gilt
chariot, with our joint train of attendants, preceded by our guards,
who might have summoned the people to see what they had never seen,
nor ever would see again--two young Christian embassadresses never yet
having been in this country at the same time, nor I believe ever will
again. Your ladyship may easily imagine that we drew a vast crowd
of spectators, but all silent as death. If any of them had taken the
liberties of our mob upon any strange sight, our janissaries had made
no scruple of falling on them with their scimitars, without danger for
so doing, being above law.

Yet these people have some good qualities; they are very zealous and
faithful where they serve, and look upon it as their business to fight
for you upon all occasions. Of this I had a very pleasant instance in
a village on this side Philipopolis, where we were met by our domestic
guard. I happened to bespeak pigeons for my supper, upon which one of
my janissaries went immediately to the Cadi (the chief civil officer
of the town), and ordered him to send in some dozens. The poor man
answered that he had already sent about, but could get none. My
janissary, in the height of his zeal for my service, immediately
locked him up prisoner in his room, telling him he deserved death for
his impudence, in offering to excuse his not obeying my command; but,
out of respect to me, he would not punish him but by my order, and
accordingly, came very gravely to me, to ask what should be done to
him; adding, by way of compliment, that if I pleased he would bring me
his head. This may give you some idea of the unlimited power of these
fellows, who are all sworn brothers, and bound to revenge the injuries
done to one another, whether at Cairo, Aleppo, or any part of the
world; and this inviolable league makes them so powerful, that the
greatest man at court never speaks to them but in a flattering
tone; and in Asia, any man that is rich is forced to enrol himself a
janissary, to secure his estate.

But I have already said enough; and I dare swear, dear madam, that, by
this time, 'tis a very comfortable reflection to you that there is no
possibility of your receiving such a tedious letter but once in
six months; 'tis that consideration has given me the assurance to
entertain you so long, and will, I hope, plead the excuse of, dear
madam, &c.


_The Grand Vizier's lady_

Adrianople, 18 _April_, O.S. [1717].

I wrote to you, dear sister, and to all my other English
correspondents, by the last ship, and only Heaven can tell when I
shall have another opportunity of sending to you; but I cannot forbear
writing, though perhaps my letter may lie upon my hands this two
months. To confess the truth, my head is so full of my entertainment
yesterday, that 'tis absolutely necessary for my own repose to give it
some vent. Without farther preface, I will then begin my story. I was
invited to dine with the Grand Vizier's lady, and it was with a great
deal of pleasure I prepared myself for an entertainment which was
never given before to any Christian. I thought I should very little
satisfy her curiosity (which I did not doubt was a considerable
motive to the invitation) by going in a dress she was used to see, and
therefore dressed myself in the court habit of Vienna, which is much
more magnificent than ours. However, I chose to go _incognita_, to
avoid any disputes about ceremony, and went in a Turkish coach, only
attended by my woman that held up my train, and the Greek lady who was
my interpretress. I was met at the court door by her black eunuch,
who helped me out of the coach with great respect, and conducted me
through several rooms, where her she-slaves, finely dressed, were
ranged on each side. In the innermost I found the lady sitting on her
sofa, in a sable vest. She advanced to meet me, and presented me half
a dozen of her friends with great civility. She seemed a very good
woman, near fifty years old. I was surprised to observe so little
magnificence in her house, the furniture being all very moderate; and
except the habits and number of her slaves, nothing about her that
appeared expensive. She guessed at my thoughts, and told me that
she was no longer of an age to spend either her time or money in
superfluities; that her whole expense was in charity, and her whole
employment praying to God. There was no affectation in this speech;
both she and her husband are entirely given up to devotion. He never
looks upon any other woman; and, what is much more extraordinary,
touches no bribes, notwithstanding the example of all his
predecessors. He is so scrupulous on this point, he would not accept
Mr. Wortley's present, till he had been assured over and over that
it was a settled perquisite of his place at the entrance of every

She entertained me with all kind of civility till dinner came in,
which was served, one dish at a time, to a vast number, all finely
dressed after their manner, which I do not think so bad as you have
perhaps heard it represented. I am a very good judge of their eating,
having lived three weeks in the house of an _effendi_ at Belgrade, who
gave us very magnificent dinners, dressed by his own cooks, which the
first week pleased me extremely; but I own I then began to grow weary
of it, and desired our own cook might add a dish or two after our
manner. But I attribute this to custom. I am very much inclined to
believe an Indian, that had never tasted of either, would prefer their
cookery to ours. Their sauces are very high, all the roast very much
done. They use a great deal of rich spice. The soup is served for the
last dish; and they have at least as great variety of ragouts as we
have. I was very sorry I could not eat of as many as the good lady
would have had me, who was very earnest in serving me of everything.
The treat concluded with coffee and perfumes, which is a high mark
of respect; two slaves kneeling censed my hair, clothes, and
handkerchief. After this ceremony, she commanded her slaves to play
and dance, which they did with their guitars in their hands; and
she excused to me their want of skill, saying she took no care to
accomplish them in that art.

I returned her thanks, and soon after took my leave. I was conducted
back in the same manner I entered; and would have gone straight to my
own house; but the Greek lady with me earnestly solicited me to visit
the _Kiyàya's_ lady, saying, he was the second officer in the empire,
and ought indeed to be looked upon as the first, the Grand Vizier
having only the name, while he exercised the authority. I had found so
little diversion in this harem, that I had no mind to go into another.
But her importunity prevailed with me, and I am extreme glad that I
was so complaisant.

All things here were with quite another air than at the Grand
Vizier's; and the very house confessed the difference between an old
devotee and a young beauty. It was nicely clean and magnificent. I
was met at the door by two black eunuchs, who led me through a long
gallery between two ranks of beautiful young girls, with their hair
finely plaited, almost hanging to their feet, all dressed in fine
light damasks, brocaded with silver. I was sorry that decency did not
permit me to stop to consider them nearer. But that thought was lost
upon my entrance into a large room, or rather pavilion, built round
with gilded sashes, which were most of them thrown up, and the trees
planted near them gave an agreeable shade, which hindered the sun from
being troublesome. The jessamines and honeysuckles that twisted round
their trunks, shedding a soft perfume, increased by a white marble
fountain playing sweet water in the lower part of the room, which fell
into three or four basins with a pleasing sound. The roof was painted
with all sort of flowers, falling out of gilded baskets, that seemed
tumbling down. On a sofa, raised three steps, and covered with fine
Persian carpets, sat the _Kiyàya's_ lady, leaning on cushions of white
satin, embroidered; and at her feet sat two young girls, the eldest
about twelve years old, lovely as angels, dressed perfectly rich, and
almost covered with jewels. But they were hardly seen near the fair
Fatima (for that is her name), so much her beauty effaced every thing
I have seen, all that has been called lovely either in England
or Germany, and must own that I never saw any thing so gloriously
beautiful, nor can I recollect a face that would have been taken
notice of near hers. She stood up to receive me, saluting me after
their fashion, putting her hand upon her heart with a sweetness
full of majesty, that no court breeding could ever give. She ordered
cushions to be given to me, and took care to place me in the corner,
which is the place of honour. I confess, though the Greek lady had
before given me a great opinion of her beauty, I was so struck with
admiration, that I could not for some time speak to her, being wholly
taken up in gazing. That surprising harmony of features! that charming
result of the whole! that exact proportion of body! that lovely bloom
of complexion unsullied by art! the unutterable enchantment of her
smile!--But her eyes!--large and black, with all the soft languishment
of the blue! every turn of her face discovering some new charm.

After my first surprise was over, I endeavoured, by nicely examining
her face, to find out some imperfection, without any fruit of my
search, but being clearly convinced of the error of that vulgar
notion, that a face perfectly regular would not be agreeable: nature
having done for her with more success, what Apelles is said to have
essayed, by a collection of the most exact features, to form a perfect
face, and to that, a behaviour, so full of grace and sweetness, such
easy motions, with an air so majestic, yet free from stiffness or
affectation, that I am persuaded, could she be suddenly transported
upon the most polite throne of Europe, nobody would think her other
than born and bred to be a queen, though educated in a country we call
barbarous. To say all in a word, our most celebrated English beauties
would vanish near her.

She was dressed in a _caftán_ of gold brocade, flowered with silver,
very well fitted to her shape, and shewing to advantage the beauty
of her bosom, only shaded by the thin guaze of her shift. Her
drawers were pale pink, green and silver, her slippers white, finely
embroidered; her lovely arms adorned with bracelets of diamonds, and
her broad girdle set round with diamonds; upon her head a rich Turkish
handkerchief of pink and silver, her own fine black hair hanging a
great length in various tresses, and on one side of her head some
bodkins of jewels. I am afraid you will accuse me of extravagance
in this description. I think I have read somewhere that women always
speak in rapture when they speak of beauty, but I cannot imagine why
they should not be allowed to do so. I rather think it virtue to be
able to admire without any mixture of desire or envy. The gravest
writers have spoken with great warmth of some celebrated pictures
and statues. The workmanship of Heaven certainly excels all our weak
imitations, and, I think, has a much better claim to our praise. For
me, I am not ashamed to own I took more pleasure in looking on the
beauteous Fatima, than the finest piece of sculpture could have given

She told me the two girls at her feet were her daughters, though she
appeared too young to be their mother. Her fair maids were ranged
below the sofa, to the number of twenty, and put me in mind of the
pictures of the ancient nymphs. I did not think all nature could have
furnished such a scene of beauty. She made them a sign to play and
dance. Four of them immediately began to play some soft airs on
instruments between a lute and a guitar, which they accompanied
with their voices, while the others danced by turns. This dance
was very different from what I had seen before. Nothing could
be more artful.... The tunes so soft!--the motions so
languishing!--accompanied with pauses and dying eyes! half-falling
back, and then recovering themselves in so artful a manner.... I
suppose you may have read that the Turks have no music but what is
shocking to the ears; but this account is from those who never heard
any, but what is played in the streets, and is just as reasonable as
if a foreigner should take his ideas of the English music from the
bladder and string, and marrowbone and cleavers. I can assure you that
the music is extremely pathetic; 'tis true I am inclined to prefer the
Italian, but perhaps I am partial. I am acquainted with a Greek lady
who sings better than Mrs. Robinson, and is very well skilled in both,
who gives the preference to the Turkish. 'Tis certain they have very
fine natural voices; these were very agreeable. When the dance was
over, four fair slaves came into the room with silver censers in their
hands, and perfumed the room with amber, aloes-wood, and other scents.
After this they served me coffee upon their knees in the finest japan
china, with _soucoupes_ of silver, gilt. The lovely Fatima entertained
me all this while in the most polite agreeable manner, calling me
often _Guzél sultanum_, or the beautiful sultana, and desiring my
friendship with the best grace in the world, lamenting that she could
not entertain me in my own language.

When I took my leave, two maids brought in a fine silver basket of
embroidered handkerchiefs; she begged I would wear the richest for her
sake, and gave the others to my woman and interpretress. I returned
through the same ceremonies as before, and could not help fancying I
had been some time in Mahomet's paradise, so much I was charmed with
what I had seen. I know not how the relation of it appears to you.
I wish it may give you part of my pleasure; for I would have my dear
sister share in all the diversions of, &c.


_Her grand-daughter's education_

28 _Jan_. N.S. [1753].

Dear child,

You have given me a great deal of satisfaction by your account of
your eldest daughter. I am particularly pleased to hear she is a good
arithmetician; it is the best proof of understanding: the knowledge of
numbers is one of the chief distinctions between us and the brutes.
If there is anything in blood, you may reasonably expect your children
should be endowed with an uncommon share of good sense. Mr. Wortley's
family and mine have both produced some of the greatest men that have
been born in England: I mean Admiral Sandwich, and my grandfather,
who was distinguished by the name of Wise William. I have heard Lord
Bute's father mentioned as an extraordinary genius, though he had not
many opportunities of showing it; and his uncle, the present Duke of
Argyll, has one of the best heads I ever knew. I will therefore
speak to you as supposing Lady Mary not only capable, but desirous
of learning: in that case by all means let her be indulged in it. You
will tell me I did not make it a part of your education: your prospect
was very different from hers. As you had no defect either in mind
or person to hinder, and much in your circumstances to attract the
highest offers, it seemed your business to learn how to live in the
world, as it is hers to know how to be easy out of it. It is the
common error of builders and parents to follow some plan they think
beautiful (and perhaps is so), without considering that nothing is
beautiful that is displaced. Hence we see so many edifices raised that
the raisers can never inhabit, being too large for their fortunes.
Vistas are laid open over barren heaths, and apartments contrived
for a coolness very agreeable in Italy, but killing in the north of
Britain: thus every woman endeavours to breed her daughter a fine
lady, qualifying her for a station in which she will never appear, and
at the same time incapacitating her for that retirement to which she
is destined. Learning, if she has a real taste for it, will not only
make her contented, but happy in it. No entertainment is so cheap as
reading, nor any pleasure so lasting. She will not want new fashions,
nor regret the loss of expensive diversions, or variety of company,
if she can be amused with an author in her closet. To render this
amusement extensive, she should be permitted to learn the languages.
I have heard it lamented that boys lose so many years in mere learning
of words: this is no objection to a girl, whose time is not so
precious: she cannot advance herself in any profession, and has
therefore more hours to spare; and as you say her memory is good, she
will be very agreeably employed this way. There are two cautions to
be given on this subject: first, not to think herself learned when
she can read Latin, or even Greek. Languages are more properly to be
called vehicles of learning than learning itself, as may be observed
in many schoolmasters, who, though perhaps critics in grammar, are the
most ignorant fellows upon earth. True knowledge consists in knowing
things, not words. I would wish her no further a linguist than to
enable her to read books in their originals, that are often corrupted,
and always injured, by translations. Two hours' application every
morning will bring this about much sooner than you can imagine, and
she will have leisure enough besides to run over the English poetry,
which is a more important part of a woman's education than it is
generally supposed. Many a young damsel has been ruined by a fine copy
of verses, which she would have laughed at if she had known it had
been stolen from Mr. Waller. I remember, when I was a girl, I saved
one of my companions from destruction, who communicated to me an
epistle she was quite charmed with. As she had a natural good taste,
she observed the lines were not so smooth as Prior's or Pope's, but
had more thought and spirit than any of theirs. She was wonderfully
delighted with such a demonstration of her lover's sense and passion,
and not a little pleased with her own charms, that had force enough
to inspire such elegancies. In the midst of this triumph I showed
her that they were taken from Randolph's poems, and the unfortunate
transcriber was dismissed with the scorn he deserved. To say truth,
the poor plagiary was very unlucky to fall into my hands; that
author being no longer in fashion, would have escaped any one of less
universal reading than myself. You should encourage your daughter to
talk over with you what she reads; and, as you are very capable of
distinguishing, take care she does not mistake pert folly for wit
and humour, or rhyme for poetry, which are the common errors of young
people, and have a train of ill consequences. The second caution to
be given her (and which is most absolutely necessary) is to conceal
whatever learning she attains, with as much solicitude as she would
hide crookedness or lameness; the parade of it can only serve to draw
on her the envy, and consequently the most inveterate hatred, of all
he and she fools, which will certainly be at least three parts in four
of all her acquaintance. The use of knowledge in our sex, besides the
amusement of solitude, is to moderate the passions, and learn to be
contented with a small expense, which are the certain effects of a
studious life; and it may be preferable even to that fame which men
have engrossed to themselves, and will not suffer us to share.
You will tell me I have not observed this rule myself; but you
are mistaken: it is only inevitable accident that has given me any
reputation that way. I have always carefully avoided it, and ever
thought it a misfortune. The explanation of this paragraph would
occasion a long digression, which I will not trouble you with, it
being my present design only to say what I think useful for the
instruction of my granddaughter, which I have much at heart. If she
has the same inclination (I should say passion) for learning that I
was born with, history, geography, and philosophy will furnish her
with materials to pass away cheerfully a longer life than is allotted
to mortals. I believe there are few heads capable of making Sir I.
Newton's calculations, but the result of them is not difficult to be
understood by a moderate capacity. Do not fear this should make her
affect the character of Lady----, or Lady----, or Mrs.----: those
women are ridiculous, not because they have learning, but because they
have it not. One thinks herself a complete historian, after reading
Echard's Roman History; another a profound philosopher, having got
by heart some of Pope's unintelligible essays; and a third an able
divine, on the strength of Whitefield's sermons: thus you hear them
screaming politics and controversy.

It is a saying of Thucydides, ignorance is bold, and knowledge
reserved. Indeed, it is impossible to be far advanced in it without
being more humbled by a conviction of human ignorance than elated by
learning. At the same time I recommend books, I neither exclude work
nor drawing. I think it as scandalous for a woman not to know how to
use a needle, as for a man not to know how to use a sword. I was once
extremely fond of my pencil, and it was a great mortification to
me when my father turned off my master, having made a considerable
progress for a short time I learnt. My over-eagerness in the pursuit
of it had brought a weakness on my eyes, that made it necessary to
leave it off; and all the advantage I got was the improvement of my
hand. I see, by hers, that practice will make her a ready writer:
she may attain it by serving you for a secretary, when your health or
affairs make it troublesome to you to write yourself; and custom will
make it an agreeable amusement to her. She cannot have too many for
that station of life which will probably be her fate. The ultimate end
of your education was to make you a good wife (and I have the comfort
to hear that you are one): hers ought to be, to make her happy in
a virgin state. I will not say it is happier; but it is undoubtedly
safer than any marriage. In a lottery, where there are (at the lowest
computation) ten thousand blanks to a prize, it is the most prudent
choice not to venture. I have always been so thoroughly persuaded of
this truth, that, notwithstanding the flattering views I had for you
(as I never intended you a sacrifice to my vanity), I thought I owed
you the justice to lay before you all the hazards attending matrimony:
you may recollect I did so in the strongest manner. Perhaps you may
have more success in the instructing your daughter: she has so much
company at home, she will not need seeking it abroad, and will more
readily take the notions you think fit to give her. As you were alone
in my family, it would have been thought a great cruelty to suffer
you no companions of your own age, especially having so many near
relations, and I do not wonder their opinions influenced yours. I was
not sorry to see you not determined on a single life, knowing it was
not your father's intention, and contented myself with endeavouring to
make your home so easy that you might not be in haste to leave it.

I am afraid you will think this a very long and insignificant letter.
I hope the kindness of the design will excuse it, being willing to
give you every proof in my power that I am,

Your most affectionate mother.


_Fielding and other authors_

Lovere, 22 _Sept_. [1755].


I received, two days ago, the box of books you were so kind to
send; but I can scarce say whether my pleasure or disappointment was
greatest. I was much pleased to see before me a fund of amusement, but
heartily vexed to find your letter consisting only of three lines
and a half. Why will you not employ Lady Mary as secretary, if it is
troublesome to you to write? I have told you over and over, you may at
the same time oblige your mother and improve your daughter, both
which I should think very agreeable to yourself. You can never want
something to say. The history of your nursery, if you had no other
subject to write on, would be very acceptable to me. I am such a
stranger to everything in England, I should be glad to hear more
particulars relating to the families I am acquainted with: if
Miss Liddel marries the Lord Euston I knew, or his nephew, who has
succeeded him; if Lord Berkeley has left children; and several trifles
of that sort, that would be a satisfaction to my curiosity. I am
sorry for H. Fielding's death, not only as I shall read no more of his
writings, but I believe he lost more than others, as no man enjoyed
life more than he did, though few had less reason to do so, the
highest of his preferment being raking in the lowest sinks of vice and
misery. I should think it a nobler and less nauseous employment to
be one of the staff officers that conduct the nocturnal weddings.
His happy constitution (even when he had, with great pains, half
demolished it) made him forget everything when he was before a venison
pasty, or over a flask of champagne; and I am persuaded he has known
more happy moments than any prince upon earth. His natural spirits
gave him rapture with his cook-maid, and cheerfulness when he was
starving in a garret. There was a great similitude between his
character and that of Sir Richard Steele. He had the advantage both
in learning, and, in my opinion, genius: they both agreed in wanting
money in spite of all their friends, and would have wanted it, if
their hereditary lands had been as extensive as their imagination;
yet each one of them so formed for happiness, it is a pity he was not
immortal.... This Richardson is a strange fellow. I heartily
despise him, and eagerly read him, nay, sob over his works in a most
scandalous manner. The first two tomes of _Clarissa_ touched me, as
being very resembling to my maiden days; and I find in the pictures of
Sir Thomas Grandison and his lady, what I have heard of my mother, and
seen of my father....





Dublin Castle, 29 _Nov_. 1745.


I have received your last Saturday's performance, with which I am very
well satisfied. I know or have heard of no Mr. St. Maurice here; and
young Pain, whom I have made an ensign, was here upon the spot, as
were every one of those I have named in these new levies.

Now that the Christmas breaking-up draws near, I have ordered Mr.
Desnoyers to go to you, during that time, to teach you to dance. I
desire that you will particularly attend to the graceful motion of
your arms; which with the manner of putting on your hat, and giving
your hand, is all that a gentleman need attend to. Dancing is
in itself a very trifling, silly thing; but it is one of those
established follies to which people of sense are sometimes obliged
to conform; and then they should be able to do it well. And though I
would not have you a dancer, yet when you do dance, I would have you
dance well; as I would have you do everything you do, well. There is
no one thing so trifling, but which (if it is to be done at all) ought
to be done well; and I have often told you that I wish you even
played at pitch, and cricket, better than any boy at Westminster. For
instance, dress is a very foolish thing; and yet it is a very foolish
thing for a man not to be well dressed, according to his rank and
way of life; and it is so far from being a disparagement to any man's
understanding, that it is rather a proof of it, to be as well dressed
as those whom he lives with: the difference in this case between a man
of sense and a fop is, that the fop values himself upon his dress; and
the man of sense laughs at it, at the same time that he knows he must
not neglect it. There are a thousand foolish customs of this kind,
which not being criminal, must be complied with, and even cheerfully,
by men of sense. Diogenes the cynic was a wise man for despising them;
but a fool for showing it. Be wiser than other people if you can; but
do not tell them so.

It is a very fortunate thing for Sir Charles Hotham, to have fallen
into the hands of one of your age, experience, and knowledge of the
world: I am persuaded you will take infinite care of him. Goodnight.


_A good enunciation_

London, 21 _June_, O.S. 1748.


Your very bad enunciation runs so much in my head, and gives me such
real concern, that it will be the object of this, and I believe of
many more letters. I congratulate both you and myself that I was
informed of it (as I hope) in time to prevent it; and shall ever think
myself, as hereafter you will, I am sure, think yourself, infinitely
obliged to Sir Charles Williams, for informing me of it. Good God!
if this ungraceful and disagreeable manner of speaking had, either
by your negligence or mine, become habitual to you, as in a couple of
years more it would have been, what a figure would you have made in
company, or in a public assembly! Who would have liked you in the one,
or have attended to you in the other? Read what Cicero and Quintilian
say of enunciation, and see what a stress they lay on the gracefulness
of it; nay, Cicero goes farther, and even maintains that a good figure
is necessary for an orator, and particularly that he must not be
_vastus_; that is, overgrown and clumsy. He shows by it that he
knew mankind well, and knew the powers of an agreeable figure and a
graceful manner. Men, as well as women, are much oftener led by their
hearts, than by their understandings. The way to the heart is through
the senses; please their eyes and their ears, and the work is half
done. I have frequently known a man's fortune decided for ever by his
first address. If it is pleasing, people are hurried involuntarily
into persuasion that he has a merit, which possibly he has not; as, on
the other hand, if it is ungraceful, they are immediately prejudiced
against him, and unwilling to allow him the merit which it may be
he has. Nor is this sentiment so unjust and unreasonable as at first
sight it may seem; for if a man has parts, he must know of what
infinite consequence it is to him to have a graceful manner of
speaking, and a genteel and pleasing address: he will cultivate and
improve them to the utmost. Your figure is a good one; you have no
natural defects in the organs of speech; your address may be engaging,
and your manner of speaking graceful, if you will; so that, if they
are not so, neither I nor the world can ascribe it to anything but
your want of parts. What is the constant and just observation as to
all the actors upon the stage? Is it not, that those who have the best
sense always speak the best, though they may not happen to have the
best voices? They will speak plainly, distinctly, and with the proper
emphasis, be their voices ever so bad. Had Roscius spoken quick,
thick, and ungracefully, I will answer for it, that Cicero would not
have thought him worth the oration which he made in his favour. Words
were given us to communicate our ideas by, and there must be something
inconceivably absurd in uttering them in such a manner, as that either
people cannot understand them, or will not desire to understand them.
I tell you truly and sincerely, that I shall judge of your parts by
your speaking gracefully or ungracefully. If you have parts, you will
never be at rest till you have brought yourself to a habit of speaking
most gracefully: for I aver, that it is in your power. You will desire
Mr. Harte, that you may read aloud to him every day, and that he will
interrupt and correct you every time that you read too fast, do not
observe the proper stops, or lay a wrong emphasis. You will take care
to open your teeth when you speak; to articulate very distinctly; and
to beg of Mr. Harte, Mr. Eliot, or whomever you speak to, to remind
and stop you, if ever you fall into the rapid and unintelligible
mutter. You will even read aloud to yourself, and tune your utterance
to your own ear, and read at first much slower than you need to do,
in order to correct yourself of that shameful trick of speaking faster
than you ought. In short, if you think right, you will make it your
business, your study, and your pleasure to speak well. Therefore, what
I have said in this and in my last, is more than sufficient, if you
have sense; and ten times more would not be sufficient if you have
not: so here I rest it.


_Keeping accounts_

London, 10 _Jan._ O.S. 1749.


I have received your letter of the 31st December, N.S. Your thanks for
my present, as you call it, exceed the value of the present; but the
use which you assure me that you will make of it, is the thanks which
I desire to receive. Due attention to the inside of books, and due
contempt for the outside, is the proper relation between a man of
sense and his books.

Now that you are going a little more into the world, I will take this
occasion to explain my intentions as to your future expenses, that
you may know what you have to expect from me, and make your plan
accordingly. I shall neither deny nor grudge you any money that may
be necessary for either your improvement or pleasures; I mean the
pleasures of a rational being. Under the head of improvement I mean
the best books, and the best masters, cost what they will; I also
mean all the expense of lodgings, coach, dress, servants, &c.,
which, according to the several places where you may be, shall be
respectively necessary to enable you to keep the best company. Under
the head of rational pleasures I comprehend, first, proper charities
to real and compassionate objects of it; secondly, proper presents to
those to whom you are obliged, or whom you desire to oblige; thirdly,
a conformity of expense to that of the company which you keep; as in
public spectacles, your share of little entertainments, a few pistoles
at games of mere commerce, and other incidental calls of good company.
The only two articles which I will never supply are, the profusion of
low riot, and the idle lavishness of negligence and laziness. A fool
squanders away, without credit or advantage to himself, more than a
man of sense spends with both. The latter employs his money as he does
his time, and never spends a shilling of the one, nor a minute of the
other, but in something that is either useful or rationally pleasing
to himself or others. The former buys whatever he does not want, and
does not pay for what he does want. He cannot withstand the charms
of a toy-shop; snuff-boxes, watches, heads of canes, etc., are
his destruction. His servants and tradesmen conspire with his own
indolence to cheat him, and in a very little time he is astonished, in
the midst of all the ridiculous superfluities, to find himself in want
of all the real comforts and necessaries of life. Without care and
method the largest fortune will not, and with them almost the smallest
will, supply all necessary expenses. As far as you can possibly, pay
ready money for everything you buy, and avoid bills. Pay that money
too yourself, and not through the hands of any servant, who always
either stipulates poundage, or requires a present for his good word,
as they call it. Where you must have bills, (as for meat and drink,
clothes, etc.) pay them regularly every month, and with your own hand.
Never, from a mistaken economy, buy a thing you do not want, because
it is cheap; or from a silly pride, because it is dear. Keep an
account in a book, of all that you receive, and of all that you pay;
for no man, who knows what he receives and what he pays, ever runs
out. I do not mean that you should keep an account of the shillings
and half-crowns which you may spend in chair-hire, operas, etc. They
are unworthy of the time, and of the ink that they would consume;
leave such _minutiae_ to dull, penny-wise fellows; but remember in
economy, as well as in every other part of life, to have the proper
attention to proper objects, and the proper contempt for little ones.
A strong mind sees things in their true proportion; a weak one views
them through a magnifying medium, which, like the microscope, makes an
elephant of a flea; magnifies all little objects, but cannot receive
great ones. I have known many a man pass for a miser, by saving a
penny, and wrangling for two-pence, who was undoing himself at the
same time, by living above his income, and not attending to essential
articles, which were above his _portée_. The sure characteristic of a
sound and strong mind is, to find in everything those certain bounds,
_quos ultra citrave nequit consistere rectum_. These boundaries are
marked out by a very fine line, which only good sense and attention
can discover; it is much too fine for vulgar eyes. In manners, this
line is good-breeding; beyond it, is troublesome ceremony; short of
it, is unbecoming negligence and inattention. In morals, it divides
ostentatious puritanism from criminal relaxation; in religion,
superstition from impiety; and, in short, every virtue from its
kindred vice or weakness. I think you have sense enough to discover
the line; keep it always in your eye, and learn to walk upon it; rest
upon Mr. Harte, and he will poise you, till you are able to go alone.
By the way, there are fewer people who walk well upon that line, than
upon the slack-rope; and, therefore, a good performer shines so much
the more....

Remember to take the best dancing-master at Berlin, more to teach you
to sit, stand, and walk gracefully, than to dance finely. The graces,
the graces; remember the graces! Adieu.


_A father's example_

London, 7 _Feb_. o.s. 1749.


You are now come to an age capable of reflection; and I hope you will
do, what however few people at your age do, exert it, for your own
sake, in the search of truth and sound knowledge. I will confess (for
I am not unwilling to discover my secrets to you) that it is not many
years since I have presumed to reflect for myself. Till sixteen or
seventeen I had no reflection, and for many years after that I made no
use of what I had. I adopted the notions of the books I read, or the
company I kept, without examining whether they were just or not; and I
rather chose to run the risk of easy error, than to take the time and
trouble of investigating truth. Thus, partly from laziness, partly
from dissipation, and partly from the _mauvaise honte_ of rejecting
fashionable notions, I was (as I since found) hurried away by
prejudices, instead of being guided by reason; and quietly cherished
error, instead of seeking for truth. But since I have taken the
trouble of reasoning for myself, and have had the courage to own that
I do so, you cannot imagine how much my notions of things are altered,
and in how different a light I now see them, from that in which I
formerly viewed them through the deceitful medium of prejudice or
authority. Nay, I may possibly still retain many errors, which, from
long habit, have perhaps grown into real opinions; for it is very
difficult to distinguish habits, early acquired and long entertained,
from the result of our reason and reflection.

My first prejudice (for I do not mention the prejudices of boys and
women, such as hobgoblins, ghosts, dreams, spilling salt, &c.) was my
classical enthusiasm, which I received from the books I read, and the
masters who explained them to me. I was convinced there had been no
common sense nor common honesty in the world for these last fifteen
hundred years; but that they were totally extinguished with the
ancient Greek and Roman governments. Homer and Virgil could have no
faults, because they were ancient; Milton and Tasso could have no
merit, because they were modern. And I could almost have said, with
regard to the ancients, what Cicero, very absurdly and unbecomingly
for a philosopher, says with regard to Plato, _Cum quo errare malim
quam cum aliis recte sentire_. Whereas now, without any extraordinary
effort of genius, I have discovered that nature was the same three
thousand years ago as it is at present; that men were but men then as
well as now; that modes and customs vary often, but that human nature
is always the same. And I can no more suppose, that men were better,
braver, or wiser, fifteen hundred or three thousand years ago, than I
can suppose that the animals or vegetables were better then than
they are now. I dare assert too, in defiance of the favourers of the
ancients, that Homer's hero Achilles was both a brute and a scoundrel,
and consequently an improper character for the hero of an epic poem;
he had so little regard for his country, that he would not act in
defence of it, because he had quarrelled with Agamemnon about a--; and
then afterwards, animated by private resentment only, he went about
killing people basely, I will call it, because he knew himself
invulnerable; and yet, invulnerable as he was, he wore the strongest
armour in the world; which I humbly apprehend to be a blunder; for a
horseshoe clapped to his vulnerable heel would have been sufficient.
On the other hand, with submission to the favourers of the moderns,
I assert with Mr. Dryden, that the Devil is in truth the hero of
Milton's poem: his plan, which he lays, pursues, and at last executes,
being the subject of the poem. From all which considerations I
impartially conclude that the ancients had their excellencies and
their defects, their virtues and their vices, just like the moderns:
pedantry and affectation of learning clearly decide in favour of
the former; vanity and ignorance, as peremptorily, in favour of the
latter. Religious prejudices kept pace with my classical ones; and
there was a time when I thought it impossible for the honestest man in
the world to be saved, out of the pale of the Church of England: not
considering that matters of opinion do not depend upon the will;
and that it is as natural, and as allowable, that another man should
differ in opinion from me, as that I should differ from him; and that,
if we are both sincere, we are both blameless, and should consequently
have mutual indulgences for each other.

The next prejudices I adopted were those of the _beau monde_, in
which, as I was determined to shine, I took what are commonly called
the genteel vices to be necessary. I had heard them reckoned so, and
without further inquiry, I believed it; or at least should have been
ashamed to have denied it, for fear of exposing myself to the ridicule
of those whom I considered as the models of fine gentlemen. But now I
am neither ashamed nor afraid to assert, that those genteel vices, as
they are falsely called, are only so many blemishes in the character
of even a man of the world, and what is called a fine gentleman, and
degrade him in the opinion of those very people, to whom he hopes to
recommend himself by them. Nay, this prejudice often extends so far,
that I have known people pretend to vices they had not, instead of
carefully concealing those they had.

Use and assert your own reason; reflect, examine, and analyze
everything, in order to form a sound and mature judgement; let no
[Greek: outos epha] impose upon your understanding, mislead your
actions, or dictate your conversation. Be early what, if you are not,
you will when too late wish you had been. Consult your reason betimes:
I do not say, that it will always prove an unerring guide; for human
reason is not infallible; but it will prove the least erring guide
that you can follow. Books and conversation may assist it; but adopt
neither, blindly and implicitly: try both by that best rule which God
has given to direct us, reason. Of all the troubles, do not decline,
as many people do, that of thinking.


_Public speaking_

London, 9 _Dec_. o.s. 1749.


It is now above forty years since I have never spoken nor written
one single word, without giving myself at least one moment's time to
consider, whether it was a good one or a bad one, and whether I could
not find out a better in its place. An unharmonious and rugged period,
at this time, shocks my ears; and I, like all the rest of the world,
will willingly exchange and give up some degree of rough sense, for
a good degree of pleasing sound. I will freely and truly own to you,
without either vanity or false modesty, that whatever reputation I
have acquired as a speaker, is more owing to my constant attention to
my diction than to my matter, which was necessarily just the same as
other people's. When you come into parliament, your reputation as a
speaker will depend much more upon your words, and your periods than
upon the subject. The same matter occurs equally to everybody of
common sense, upon the same question: the dressing it well, is what
excites the attention and admiration of the audience.

It is in parliament that I have set my heart upon your making a
figure; it is there that I want to have you justly proud of yourself,
and to make me justly proud of you. This means that you must be a good
speaker there; I use the word _must_, because I know you may if you
will. The vulgar, who are always mistaken, look upon a speaker and a
comet with the same astonishment and admiration, taking them both for
preternatural phenomena. This error discourages many young men from
attempting that character; and good speakers are willing to have their
talent considered as something very extraordinary, if not a peculiar
gift of God to his elect. But, let you and I analyze and simplify this
good speaker; let us strip him of those adventitious plumes with which
his own pride and the ignorance of others have decked him; and we
shall find the true definition of him to be no more than this: a
man of good common sense, who reasons justly, and expresses himself
elegantly, on that subject upon which he speaks. There is, surely, no
witchcraft in this. A man of sense, without a superior and astonishing
degree of parts, will not talk nonsense upon any subject; nor will he,
if he has the least taste or application, talk inelegantly. What then
does all this mighty art and mystery of speaking in parliament amount
to? Why, no more than this, that the man who speaks in the House
of Commons, speaks in that house, and to four hundred people, that
opinion upon a given subject which he would make no difficulty of
speaking in any house in England, round the fire, or at table, to
any fourteen people whatsoever; better judges, perhaps, and severer
critics of what he says, than any fourteen gentlemen of the House of

I have spoken frequently in parliament, and not always without some
applause; and therefore I can assure you, from my experience, that
there is very little in it. The elegancy of the style and the turn of
the periods make the chief impression upon the hearers. Give them but
one or two round and harmonious periods in a speech, which they will
retain and repeat, and they will go home as well satisfied as people
do from an opera, humming all the way one or two favourite tunes that
have struck their ears, and were easily caught. Most people have ears,
but few have judgement; tickle those ears, and, depend upon it, you
will catch their judgements, such as they are.

Cicero, conscious that he was at the top of his profession (for in
his time eloquence was a profession), in order to set himself off,
defines, in his treatise _de Oratore_, an orator to be such a man as
never was, or never will be; and, by this fallacious argument, says
that he must know every art and science whatsoever, or how shall he
speak upon them? But with submission to so great an authority, my
definition of an orator is extremely different from, and I believe
much truer than, his. I call that man an orator who reasons justly,
and expresses himself elegantly, upon whatever subjects he treats.
Problems in geometry, equations in algebra, processes in chemistry,
and experiments in anatomy, are never, that I have heard of, the
objects of eloquence; and therefore I humbly conceive that a man may
be a very fine speaker, and yet know nothing of geometry, algebra,
chemistry, or anatomy. The subjects of all parliamentary debates are
subjects of common sense singly.

Thus I write whatever occurs to me, that I think may contribute either
to form or inform you. May my labour not be in vain! and it will not,
if you will but have half the concern for yourself that I have for
you. Adieu.


_The new Earl of Chatham_

Blackheath, 1 _Aug._ 1766.


The curtain was at last drawn up, the day before yesterday, and
discovered the new actors together with some of the old ones. I do not
name them to you, because to-morrow's Gazette will do it full as well
as I could. Mr. Pitt, who had _carte blanche_ given him, named every
one of them: but what would you think he named himself for? Lord Privy
Seal; and (what will astonish you, as it does every mortal here) Earl
of Chatham. The joke here is, that he has had _a fall upstairs_, and
has done himself so much hurt, that he will never be able to stand
upon his legs again. Everybody is puzzled how to account for this
step; though it would not be the first time that great abilities have
been duped by low cunning. But be it what it will, he is now certainly
only Earl of Chatham; and no longer Mr. Pitt, in any respect whatever.
Such an event, I believe, was never read nor heard of. To withdraw,
in the fullness of his power, and in the utmost gratification of his
ambition, from the House of Commons, (which procured him his power,
and which could alone ensure it to him) and to go into that hospital
of incurables, the House of Lords, is a measure so unaccountable, that
nothing but proof positive could have made me believe it: but true it
is. Hans Stanley is to go ambassador to Russia; and my nephew, Ellis,
to Spain, decorated with the red ribband. Lord Shelburne is your
secretary of state, which I suppose he has notified to you this post
by a circular letter. Charles Townshend has now the sole management of
the House of Commons; but how long he will be content to be only Lord
Chatham's viceregent there, is a question which I will not pretend
to decide. There is one very bad sign for Lord Chatham in his new
dignity; which is, that all his enemies, without exception, rejoice at
it; and all his friends are stupefied and dumb-founded. If I mistake
not much, he will in the course of a year enjoy perfect _otium cum
dignitate_. Enough of politics.

Is the fair, or at least the fat Miss C---- with you still? It must
be confessed that she knows the art of courts, to be so received at
Dresden and so connived at in Leicester-fields.

There never was so wet a summer as this has been, in the memory of
man; we have not had one single day, since March, without some rain;
but most days a great deal. I hope that does not affect your health,
as great cold does; for with all these inundations it has not been
cold. God bless you!




_Postponement of a visit_

6 _May_, 1755.


It has been long observed, that men do not suspect faults which
they do not commit; your own elegance of manners, and punctuality of
complaisance, did not suffer you to impute to me that negligence
of which I was guilty, and [for] which I have not since atoned.
I received both your letters, and received them with pleasure
proportioned to the esteem which so short an acquaintance strongly
impressed, and which I hope to confirm by nearer knowledge, though I
am afraid that gratification will be for a time withheld.

I have, indeed, published my book, of which I beg to know your
father's judgment, and yours; and I have now stayed long enough to
watch its progress in the world. It has, you see, no patrons, and
I think has yet had no opponents, except the critics of the
coffee-house, whose outcries are soon dispersed into the air, and are
thought on no more. From this, therefore, I am at liberty, and think
of taking the opportunity of this interval to make an excursion, and
why not then into Lincolnshire? or, to mention a stronger attraction,
why not to dear Mr. Langton? I will give the true reason, which I know
you will approve:--I have a mother more than eighty years old, who has
counted the days to the publication of my book, in hopes of seeing me;
and to her, if I can disengage myself here, I resolve to go.

As I know, dear sir, that to delay my visit for a reason like this
will not deprive me of your esteem, I beg it may not lessen your
kindness. I have very seldom received an offer of friendship which I
so earnestly desire to cultivate and mature. I shall rejoice to hear
from you, till I can see you, and will see you as soon as I can; for
when the duty that calls me to Lichfield is discharged, my inclination
will carry me to Langton. I shall delight to hear the ocean roar, or
see the stars twinkle, in the company of men to whom Nature does not
spread her volumes or utter her voice in vain.

Do not, dear sir, make the slowness of this letter a precedent
for delay, or imagine that I approved the incivility that I have
committed; for I have known you enough to love you, and sincerely to
wish a further knowledge; and I assure you once more, that to live in
a house that contains such a father and such a son, will be accounted
a very uncommon degree of pleasure by, dear sir, your most obliged and
most humble servant.


_A mother's death_

23 _Jan._ 1759.

You will conceive my sorrow for the loss of my mother, of the best
mother. If she were to live again, surely I should behave better to
her. But she is happy, and what is past is nothing to her; and for me,
since I cannot repair my faults to her, I hope repentance will
efface them. I return you and all those that have been good to her
my sincerest thanks, and pray God to repay you all with infinite
advantage. Write to me and comfort me, dear child. I shall be glad
likewise, if Kitty will write to me. I shall send a bill of twenty
pounds in a few days, which I thought to have brought to my mother;
but God suffered it not. I have not power or composure to say much
more. God bless you, and bless us all.


_A letter of counsel_

21 _Dec._ 1762.


You are not to suppose, with all your conviction of my idleness, that
I have passed all this time without writing to my Baretti. I gave
a letter to Mr. Beauclerk, who, in my opinion, and in his own, was
hastening to Naples for the recovery of his health; but he has stopped
at Paris, and I know not when he will proceed. Langton is with him.

I will not trouble you with speculations about peace and war. The good
or ill success of battles and embassies extends itself to a very small
part of domestic life: we all have good and evil, which we feel more
sensibly than our petty part of public miscarriage or prosperity. I am
sorry for your disappointment, with which you seem more touched than
I should expect a man of your resolution and experience to have been,
did I not know that general truths are seldom applied to particular
occasions; so that the fallacy of our self-love extends itself as wide
as our interest and affections. Every man believes that mistresses are
unfaithful, and patrons capricious; but he excepts his own mistress
and his own patron. We have all learned that greatness is negligent
and contemptuous, and that in courts, life is often languished away in
ungratified expectation; but he that approaches greatness, or glitters
in a court, imagines that destiny has at last exempted him from the
common lot.

Do not let such evils overwhelm you as thousands have suffered and
thousands have surmounted; but turn your thoughts with vigour to
some other plan of life, and keep always in your mind that, with due
submission to Providence, a man of genius has been seldom ruined but
by himself. Your patron's weakness or insensibility will finally do
you little hurt, if he is not assisted by your own passions. Of your
love I know not the propriety, nor can estimate the power; but in
love, as in every other passion, of which hope is the essence, we
ought always to remember the uncertainty of events. There is indeed
nothing that so much seduces reason from her vigilance, as the thought
of passing life with an amiable woman; and if all would happen that
a lover fancies, I know not what other terrestrial happiness would
deserve pursuit. But love and marriage are different states. Those who
are to suffer the evils together, and to suffer often for the sakes of
one another, soon lose that tenderness of look and that benevolence
of mind which arose from the participation of unmingled pleasure and
successive amusement. A woman we are sure will not be always fair,
we are not sure she will always be virtuous; and man cannot retain
through life that respect and assiduity by which he pleases for a day
or for a month. I do not however pretend to have discovered that life
has anything more to be desired than a prudent and virtuous marriage;
therefore know not what counsel to give you.

If you can quit your imagination of love and greatness, and leave your
hopes of preferment and bridal raptures to try once more the fortune
of literature and industry, the way through France is now open. We
flatter ourselves that we shall cultivate with great diligence the
arts of peace; and every man will be welcome among us who can teach
us anything we do not know. For your part, you will find all your old
friends willing to receive you....


_Travel in Scotland_

Skye, 21 _Sept._ 1773.


I am so vexed at the necessity of sending yesterday so short a letter,
that I purpose to get a long letter beforehand by writing something
every day, which I may the more easily do, as a cold makes me now too
deaf to take the usual pleasure in conversation. Lady Macleod is very
good to me, and the place at which we now are, is equal in strength of
situation, in the wildness of the adjacent country, and in the plenty
and elegance of the domestic entertainment, to a castle in Gothic
romances. The sea with a little island is before us; cascades play
within view. Close to the house is the formidable skeleton of an old
castle probably Danish, and the whole mass of building stands upon
a protuberance of rock, inaccessible till of late but by a pair of
stairs on the sea side, and secure in ancient times against any enemy
that was likely to invade the kingdom of Skye.

Macleod has offered me an island; if it were not too far off I should
hardly refuse it: my island would be pleasanter than Brighthelmstone,
if you and my master could come to it; but I cannot think it pleasant
to live quite alone.

    Oblitusque meorum, obliviscendus et illis.

That I should be elated by the dominion of an island to forgetfulness
of my friends at Streatham I cannot believe, and I hope never to
deserve that they should be willing to forget me.

It has happened that I have been often recognised in my journey
where I did not expect it. At Aberdeen I found one of my acquaintance
professor of physic; turning aside to dine with a country gentleman, I
was owned at table by one who had seen me at a philosophical lecture;
at Macdonald's I was claimed by a naturalist, who wanders about the
islands to pick up curiosities; and I had once in London attracted the
notice of Lady Macleod. I will now go on with my account.

The Highland girl made tea, and looked and talked not inelegantly; her
father was by no means an ignorant or a weak man; there were books in
the cottage, among which were some volumes of Prideaux's _Connection_:
this man's conversation we were glad of while we stayed. He had been
_out_, as they call it, in forty-five, and still retained his old
opinions. He was going to America, because his rent was raised beyond
what he thought himself able to pay.

At night our beds were made, but we had some difficulty in persuading
ourselves to lie down in them, though we had put on our own sheets;
at last we ventured, and I slept very soundly in the vale of Glen
Morrison, amidst the rocks and mountains. Next morning our landlord
liked us so well, that he walked some miles with us for our company,
through a country so wild and barren that the proprietor does not,
with all his pressure upon his tenants, raise more than four hundred
pounds a year for near one hundred square miles or sixty thousand
acres. He let us know that he had forty head of black cattle, an
hundred goats, and an hundred sheep, upon a farm that he remembered
let at five pounds a year, but for which he now paid twenty. He told
us some stories of their march into England. At last he left us,
and we went forward, winding among mountains, sometimes green and
sometimes naked, commonly so steep as not easily to be climbed by
the greatest vigour and activity: our way was often crossed by little
rivulets, and we were entertained with small streams trickling from
the rocks, which after heavy rains must be tremendous torrents.

About noon we came to a small glen, so they call a valley, which
compared with other places appeared rich and fertile; here our guides
desired us to stop, that the horses might graze, for the journey
was very laborious, and no more grass would be found. We made no
difficulty of compliance, and I sat down to take notes on a green
bank, with a small stream running at my feet, in the midst of savage
solitude, with mountains before me, and on either hand covered with
heath. I looked around me, and wondered that I was not more affected,
but the mind is not at all times equally ready to be put in motion;
if my mistress and master and Queeny had been there we should have
produced some reflections among us, either poetical or philosophical,
for though _solitude be the nurse of woe_, conversation is often the
parent of remarks and discoveries.

In about an hour we remounted, and pursued our journey. The lake by
which we had travelled for some time ended in a river, which we passed
by a bridge, and came to another glen, with a collection of huts,
called Auknashealds; the huts were generally built of clods of earth,
held together by the intertexture of vegetable fibres, of which earth
there are great levels in Scotland which they call mosses. Moss in
Scotland is bog in Ireland, and moss-trooper is bog-trotter: there
was, however, one hut built of loose stones, piled up with great
thickness into a strong though not solid wall. From this house we
obtained some great pails of milk, and having brought bread with us,
were very liberally regaled. The inhabitants, a very coarse tribe,
ignorant of any language but Erse, gathered so fast about us, that if
we had not had Highlanders with us, they might have caused more alarm
than pleasure; they are called the Clan of Macrae.

We had been told that nothing gratified the Highlanders so much as
snuff and tobacco, and had accordingly stored ourselves with both at
Fort Augustus. Boswell opened his treasure, and gave them each a piece
of tobacco roll. We had more bread than we could eat for the present,
and were more liberal than provident. Boswell cut it in slices, and
gave them an opportunity of tasting wheaten bread for the first time.
I then got some halfpence for a shilling, and made up the deficiencies
of Boswell's distribution, who had given some money among the
children. We then directed that the mistress of the stone house should
be asked what we must pay her: she, who perhaps had never before
sold anything but cattle, knew not, I believe, well what to ask, and
referred herself to us: we obliged her to make some demand, and one of
the Highlanders settled the account with her at a shilling. One of the
men advised her, with the cunning that clowns never can be without, to
ask more; but she said that a shilling was enough. We gave her half
a crown, and she offered part of it again. The Macraes were so well
pleased with our behaviour, that they declared it the best day they
had seen since the time of the old Laird of Macleod, who, I suppose,
like us, stopped in their valley, as he was travelling to Skye....

I cannot forbear to interrupt my narrative. Boswell, with some of his
troublesome kindness, has informed this family and reminded me that
the 18th of September is my birthday. The return of my birthday, if I
remember it, fills me with thoughts which it seems to be the general
care of humanity to escape. I can now look back upon three score
and four years, in which little has been done, and little has been
enjoyed; a life diversified by misery, spent part in the sluggishness
of penury, and part under the violence of pain, in gloomy discontent
or importunate distress. But perhaps I am better than I should have
been if I had been less afflicted. With this I will try to be content.

In proportion as there is less pleasure in retrospective
considerations, the mind is more disposed to wander forward into
futurity; but at sixty-four what promises, however liberal, of
imaginary good can futurity venture to make? Yet something will be
always promised and some promises will always be credited. I am hoping
and I am praying that I may live better in the time to come, whether
long or short, than I have yet lived, and in the solace of that
hope endeavour to repose. Dear Queeny's day is next, I hope she at
sixty-four will have less to regret....

You will now expect that I should give you some account of the Isle of
Skye, of which, though I have been twelve days upon it, I have little
to say. It is an island perhaps fifty miles long, so much indented by
inlets of the sea that there is no part of it removed from the water
more than six miles. No part that I have seen is plain; you are always
climbing or descending, and every step is upon rock or mire. A walk
upon ploughed ground in England is a dance upon carpets compared to
the toilsome drudgery of wandering in Skye. There is neither town nor
village in the island, nor have I seen any house but Macleod's, that
is not much below your habitation at Brighthelmstone. In the mountains
there are stags and roebucks, but no hares, and few rabbits; nor have
I seen anything that interested me as a zoologist, except an otter,
bigger than I thought an otter could have been.

You perhaps are imagining that I am withdrawn from the gay and
the busy world into regions of peace and pastoral felicity, and am
enjoying the relics of the golden age; that I am surveying nature's
magnificence from a mountain, or remarking her minuter beauties on the
flowery bank of a winding rivulet; that I am invigorating myself in
the sunshine, or delighting my imagination with being hidden from
the invasion of human evils and human passions in the darkness of a
thicket; that I am busy in gathering shells and pebbles on the shore,
or contemplative on a rock, from which I look upon the water, and
consider how many waves are rolling between me and Streatham.

The use of travelling is to regulate imagination by reality, and
instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are. Here
are mountains which I should once have climbed, but to climb steps
is now very laborious, and to descend them dangerous; and I am now
content with knowing, that by scrambling up a rock, I shall only see
other rocks, and a wider circuit of barren desolation. Of streams, we
have here a sufficient number, but they murmur not upon pebbles, but
upon rocks. Of flowers, if Chloris herself were here, I could present
her only with the bloom of heath. Of lawns and thickets, he must read
that would know them, for here is little sun and no shade. On the sea
I look from my window, but am not much tempted to the shore; for since
I came to this island, almost every breath of air has been a storm,
and what is worse, a storm with all its severity, but without its
magnificence, for the sea is here so broken into channels that there
is not a sufficient volume of water either for lofty surges or a loud



7 _Feb_. 1775.


I have been lately informed, by the proprietor of _The World_, that
two papers, in which my _Dictionary_ is recommended to the public, are
by your lordship. To be so distinguished is an honour, which, being
very little accustomed to favours from the great, I know not well how
to receive, or in what terms to acknowledge.

When, upon some slight encouragement, I first visited your lordship, I
was overpowered, like the rest of mankind, by the enchantment of your
address, and could not forbear to wish that I might boast myself _le
vainqueur du vainqueur de la terre_;--that I might obtain that regard
for which I saw the world contending; but I found my attendance so
little encouraged, that neither pride nor modesty would suffer me to
continue it. When I had once addressed your lordship in public, I
had exhausted all the art of pleasing which a retired and uncourtly
scholar can possess. I had done all I could; and no man is well
pleased to have his all neglected, be it ever so little.

Seven years, my lord, have now passed, since I waited in your outward
rooms, or was repulsed from your door; during which time I have been
pushing on my work through difficulties, of which it is useless to
complain, and have brought it at last to the verge of publication,
without one act of assistance, one word of encouragement, or one smile
of favour. Such treatment I did not expect, for I never had a patron

The shepherd in _Virgil_ grew at last acquainted with Love, and found
him a native of the rocks.

Is not a patron, my lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man
struggling for life in the water, and when he has reached ground,
encumbers him with help? The notice which you have been pleased to
take of my labours, had it been early had been kind; but it has
been delayed till I am indifferent, and cannot enjoy it; till I am
solitary, and cannot impart it; till I am known, and do not want it. I
hope it is no very cynical asperity, not to confess obligations,
where no benefit has been received, or to be unwilling that the public
should consider me as owing that to a patron, which Providence has
enabled me to do for myself.

Having carried on my work thus far with so little obligation to any
favourer of learning, I shall not be disappointed though I shall
conclude it, if less be possible, with less; for I have been long
wakened from that dream of hope in which I once boasted myself with so
much exultation.

My Lord,

Your Lordship's most humble,
most obedient servant.


_A silent friend_

13 _July_, 1779.


What can possibly have happened that keeps us two such strangers to
each other? I expected to have heard from you when you came home; I
expected afterwards. I went into the country and returned, and yet
there is no letter from Mr. Boswell. No ill, I hope, has happened; and
if ill should happen, why should it be concealed from him who loves
you? Is it a fit of humour, that has disposed you to try who can hold
out longest without writing? If it be, you have the victory. But I am
afraid of something bad; set me free from my suspicions.

My thoughts are at present employed in guessing the reason of your
silence; you must not expect that I should tell you anything, if I had
anything to tell. Write, pray write to me, and let me know what is or
what has been the cause of this long interruption.


_A great man's fortitude_

19 _June_, 1783.

ON Monday the 16th, I sat for my picture and walked a considerable way
with little inconvenience. In the afternoon and evening I felt myself
light and easy, and began to plan schemes of life. Thus I went to bed,
and in a short time waked and sat up, as has been long my custom,
when I felt a confusion and indistinctness in my head, which lasted,
I suppose, about half a minute. I was alarmed, and prayed God, that
however he might afflict my body, he would spare my understanding.
This prayer, that I might try the integrity of my faculties, I made in
Latin verse. The lines were not very good, but I knew them not to be
very good: I made them easily, and concluded myself to be unimpaired
in my faculties.

Soon after I perceived that I had suffered a paralytic stroke,
and that my speech was taken from me. I had no pain, and so little
dejection in this dreadful state, that I wondered at my own apathy,
and considered that perhaps death itself, when it should come, would
excite less horror than seems now to attend it.

In order to rouse the vocal organs, I took two drams. Wine has been
celebrated for the production of eloquence. I put myself into violent
motion, and I think repeated it; but all was vain. I then went to bed,
and strange as it may seem, I slept. When I saw light, it was time to
contrive what I should do. Though God stopped my speech, he left me
my hands; I enjoyed a mercy which was not granted to my dear friend
Lawrence, who now perhaps overlooks me as I am writing, and rejoices
that I have what he wanted. My first note was necessarily to my
servant, who came in talking, and could not immediately comprehend why
he should read what I put into his hands. I then wrote a card to Mr.
Allen, that I might have a discreet friend at hand, to act as occasion
should require. In penning this note I had some difficulty; my hand,
I knew not how nor why, made wrong letters. I then wrote to Dr. Taylor
to come to me, and bring Dr. Heberden: and I sent to Dr. Brocklesby,
who is my neighbour. My physicians are very friendly, and give me
great hopes; but you may imagine my situation. I have so far recovered
my vocal powers, as to repeat the Lord's Prayer with no very imperfect
articulation. My memory, I hope, yet remains as it was! but such an
attack produces solicitude for the safety of every faculty.




_The disconsolate lover_


You bid me tell you, my dear L., how I bore your departure for S----,
and whether the valley, where D'Estella stands, retains still its
looks, or if I think the roses or jessamines smell as sweet as when
you left it. Alas! everything has now lost its relish and look! The
hour you left D'Estella I took to my bed. I was worn out with fevers
of all kinds, but most by that fever of the heart with which thou
knowest well I have been wasting these two years--and shall continue
wasting till you quit S----. The good Miss S----, from the forebodings
of the best of hearts, thinking I was ill, insisted upon my going to
her. What can be the cause, my dear L., that I never have been able to
see the face of this mutual friend, but I feel myself rent to pieces?
She made me stay an hour with her, and in that short space I burst
into tears a dozen different times, and in such affectionate gusts of
passion, that she was constrained to leave the room, and sympathize
in her dressing-room. I have been weeping for you both, said she, in
a tone of the sweetest pity--for poor L.'s heart, I have long known
it--her anguish is as sharp as yours--her heart as tender--her
constancy as great--her virtues as heroic--Heaven brought you not
together to be tormented. I could only answer her with a kind look,
and a heavy sigh, and returned home to your lodgings (which I have
hired till your return) to resign myself to misery. Fanny had prepared
me a supper--she is all attention to me--but I sat over it with tears;
a bitter sauce, my L., but I could eat it with no other; for the
moment she began to spread my little table, my heart fainted within
me. One solitary plate, one knife, one fork, one glass! I gave a
thousand pensive, penetrating looks at the chair thou hadst so often
graced, in those quiet and sentimental repasts, then laid down my
knife and fork, and took out my handkerchief, and clapped it across
my face, and wept like a child. I could do so this very moment, my L.;
for, as I take up my pen, my poor pulse quickens, my pale face glows,
and tears are trickling down upon the paper, as I trace the word
L----. O thou! blessed in thyself, and in thy virtues, blessed to all
that know thee--to me most so, because more do I know of thee than all
thy sex. This is the philtre, my L., by which thou hast charmed me,
and by which thou wilt hold me thine, while virtue and faith hold this
world together. This, my friend, is the plain and simple magic, by
which I told Miss ---- I have won a place in that heart of thine, on
which I depend so satisfied, that time, or distance, or change of
everything which might alarm the hearts of little men, create no
uneasy suspense in mine. Wast thou to stay in S---- these seven
years, thy friend, though he would grieve, scorns to doubt, or to be
doubted--'tis the only exception where security is not the parent of

I told you poor Fanny was all attention to me since your
departure--contrives every day bringing in the name of L. She told
me last night (upon giving me some hartshorn), she had observed my
illness began the very day of your departure for S----; that I had
never held up my head, had seldom, or scarce ever, smiled, had fled
from all society; that she verily believed I was broken-hearted, for
she had never entered the room, or passed by the door, but she heard
me sigh heavily; that I neither eat, or slept, or took pleasure in
anything as before. Judge then, my L., can the valley look so well,
or the roses and jessamines smell so sweet as heretofore? Ah me! but
adieu--the vesper bell calls me from thee to my GOD.


_Le chevalier Shandy_

Paris, 19 _March_, 1762.


This will be put into your hands by Dr. Shippen, a physician, who has
been here some time with Miss Poyntz, and is at this moment setting
out for your metropolis; so I snatch the opportunity of writing to you
and my kind friend Mrs. Garrick. I see nothing like her here, and yet
I have been introduced to one half of their best Goddesses, and in a
month more shall be admitted to the shrines of the other half; but I
neither worship or fall (much) on my knees before them; but, on the
contrary, have converted many unto Shandeism; for be it known, I
Shandy it away fifty times more than I was ever wont, talk more
nonsense than ever you heard me talk in your days--and to all sorts
of people. _Qui le diable est cet homme-là_--said Choiseul t'other
day--_ce chevalier Shandy_? You'll think me as vain as a devil, was I
to tell you the rest of the dialogue; whether the bearer knows it or
no, I know not. 'Twill serve up after supper, in Southampton-street,
amongst other small dishes, after the fatigues of Richard III. O God!
they have nothing here, which gives the nerves so smart a blow, as
those great characters in the hands of Garrick! but I forgot I
am writing to the man himself. The devil take (as he will) these
transports of enthusiasm! Apropos, the whole city of Paris is
_bewitched_ with the comic opera, and if it was not for the affair
of the Jesuits, which takes up one half of our talk, the comic opera
would have it all. It is a tragical nuisance in all companies as it
is, and was it not for some sudden starts and dashes of Shandeism,
which now and then either break the thread, or entangle it so, that
the devil himself would be puzzled in winding it off, I should die a
martyr--this by the way I never will.

I send you over some of these comic operas by the bearer, with the
_Sallon_, a satire. The French comedy, I seldom visit it--they act
scarce in anything but tragedies--and the Clairon is great, and Mile.
Dumesnil, in some places, still greater than her; yet I cannot bear
preaching--I fancy I got a surfeit of it in my younger days. There
is a tragedy to be damned to-night--peace be with it, and the gentle
brain which made it! I have ten thousand things to tell you I cannot
write, I do a thousand things which cut no figure, _but in the
doing_--and as in London, I have the honour of having done and said a
thousand things I never did or dreamed of--and yet I dream abundantly.
If the devil stood behind me in the shape of a courier, I could not
write faster than I do, having five letters more to dispatch by the
same gentleman; he is going into another section of the globe, and
when he has seen you, will depart in peace.

The Duke of Orleans has suffered my portrait to be added to the number
of some odd men in his collection; and a gentleman who lives with him
has taken it most expressively, at full length: I purpose to obtain an
etching of it, and to send it you. Your prayer for me of _rosy health_
is heard. If I stay here for three or four months, I shall return more
than reinstated. My love to Mrs. Garrick.


_An adventure on the road_

Toulouse, 14 _Aug_. 1762.


After many turnings (_alias_ digressions), to say nothing of downright
overthrows, stops, and delays, we have arrived in three weeks at
Toulouse, and are now settled in our houses with servants, &c., about
us, and look as composed as if we had been here seven years. In
our journey we suffered so much from the heats, it gives me pain to
remember it; I never saw a cloud from Paris to Nismes half as broad as
a twenty-four sols piece. Good God! we were toasted, roasted, grilled,
stewed and carbonaded on one side or other all the way; and being all
done enough (_assez cuits_) in the day, we were eat up at night by
bugs, and other unswept-out vermin, the legal inhabitants (if length
of possession gives right) of every inn we lay at. Can you conceive
a worse accident than that in such a journey, in the hottest day and
hour of it, four miles from either tree or shrub which could cast a
shade of the size of one of Eve's fig leaves, that we should break a
hind wheel into ten thousand pieces, and be obliged in consequence
to sit five hours on a gravelly road, without one drop of water, or
possibility of getting any? To mend the matter, my two postillions
were two dough-hearted fools, and fell a-crying. Nothing was to be
done! By heaven, quoth I, pulling off my coat and waistcoat, something
shall be done, for I'll thrash you both within an inch of your lives,
and then make you take each of you a horse, and ride like two devils
to the next post for a cart to carry my baggage, and a wheel to
carry ourselves. Our luggage weighed ten quintals. It was the fair
of Baucaire, all the world was going, or returning; we were asked by
every soul who passed by us, if we were going to the fair of Baucaire.
No wonder, quoth I, we have goods enough! _vous avez raison, mes




_Scenery at Tivoli_

Tivoli, 20 _May_, 1740.

This day being in the palace of his Highness the Duke of Modena, he
laid his most serene commands upon me to write to Mr. West, and said
he thought it for his glory, that I should draw up an inventory of all
his most serene possessions for the said West's perusal. Imprimis,
a house, being in circumference a quarter of a mile, two feet and an
inch; the said house containing the following particulars, to wit,
a great room. Item, another great room; item, a bigger room; item,
another room; item, a vast room; item, a sixth of the same; a seventh
ditto; an eighth as before; a ninth as above said; a tenth (see No.
1); item, ten more such, besides twenty besides, which, not to be too
particular, we shall pass over. The said rooms contain nine chairs,
two tables, five stools and a cricket. From whence we shall proceed
to the garden, containing two millions of superfine laurel hedges,
a clump of cypress trees, and half the river Teverone.--Finis. Dame
Nature desired me to put in a list of her little goods and chattels,
and, as they were small, to be very minute about them. She has built
here three or four little mountains, and laid them out in an irregular
semi-circle; from certain others behind, at a greater distance, she
has drawn a canal, into which she has put a little river of hers,
called Anio; she has cut a huge cleft between the two innermost of her
four hills, and there she has left it to its own disposal; which she
has no sooner done, but, like a heedless chit, it tumbles headlong
down a declivity fifty feet perpendicular, breaks itself all to
shatters, and is converted into a shower of rain, where the sun forms
many a bow, red, green, blue, and yellow. To get out of our metaphors
without any further trouble, it is the most noble sight in the world.
The weight of that quantity of waters, and the force they fall with,
have worn the rocks they throw themselves among into a thousand
irregular craggs, and to a vast depth. In this channel it goes boiling
along with a mighty noise till it comes to another steep, where you
see it a second time come roaring down (but first you must walk
two miles farther) a greater height than before, but not with that
quantity of waters; for by this time it has divided itself, being
crossed and opposed by the rocks, into four several streams, each of
which, in emulation of the great one, will tumble down too; and it
does tumble down, but not from an equally elevated place; so that you
have at one view all these cascades intermixed with groves of olive
and little woods, the mountains rising behind them, and on the top of
one (that which forms the extremity of one of the half-circle's horns)
is seated the town itself. At the very extremity of that extremity, on
the brink of the precipice, stands the Sybil's temple, the remains
of a little rotunda, surrounded with its portico, above half of whose
beautiful Corinthian pillars are still standing and entire; all this
on one hand. On the other, the open Campagna of Rome, here and there
a little castle on a hillock, and the city itself at the very brink of
the horizon, indistinctly seen (being eighteen miles off) except the
dome of St. Peter's; which, if you look out of your window, wherever
you are, I suppose, you can see. I did not tell you that a little
below the first fall, on the side of the rock, and hanging over that
torrent, are little ruins which they show you for Horace's house, a
curious situation to observe the

  Praeceps Anio et Tiburni lucus, et uda
  Mobilibus pomaria rivis.

Maecenas did not care for such a noise, it seems, and built him a
house (which they also carry one to see) so situated that it sees
nothing at all of the matter, and for anything he knew there might be
no such river in the world. Horace had another house on the other side
of the Teverone, opposite to Maecenas's; and they told us there was
a bridge of communication, by which _andava il detto Signor per
trastullarsi coll' istesso Orazio_. In coming hither we crossed the
Aquae Albulae, a vile little brook that stinks like a fury, and they
say it has stunk so these thousand years. I forgot the Piscina of
Quintilius Varus, where he used to keep certain little fishes. This
is very entire, and there is a piece of the aqueduct that supplied it
too; in the garden below is old Rome, built in little, just as it was,
they say. There are seven temples in it, and no houses at all; they
say there were none.


_A poet's melancholy_

London, 27 _May_, 1742.

Mine, you are to know is a white Melancholy, or rather Leucocholy
for the most part; which, though it seldom laughs or dances, nor ever
amounts to what one called Joy or Pleasure, yet is a good easy sort
of a state, and _ça ne laisse que de s'amuser._ The only fault is its
insipidity; which is apt now and then to give a sort of Ennui, which
makes one form certain little wishes that signify nothing. But there
is another sort, black indeed, which I have now and then felt, that
has somewhat in it like Tertullian's rule of faith, _Credo quia
impossibile est_; for it believes, nay, is sure of everything that is
unlikely, so it be but frightful; and on the other hand excludes and
shuts its eyes to the most possible hopes, and everything that is
pleasurable; from this the Lord deliver us! for none but he and
sunshiny weather can do it. In hopes of enjoying this kind of weather
I am going into the country for a few weeks, but shall be never the
nearer any society; so, if you have any charity, you will continue to
write. My life is like Harry the Fourth's supper of Hens, 'Poulets à
la broche, Poulets en Ragoût, Poulets en Hâchis, Poulets en Fricassées
'. Reading here, Reading there; nothing but books with different
sauces. Do not let me lose my desert then; for though that be Reading
too, yet it has a very different flavour. The May seems to be come
since your invitation; and I propose to bask in her beams and dress me
in her roses.

  Et caput in verna semper habere rosa.

I shall see Mr. ---- and his Wife, nay, and his Child, too, for he has
got a Boy. Is it not odd to consider one's Cotemporaries in the grave
light of Husband and Father? There is my lords Sandwich and Halifax,
they are Statesmen: Do not you remember them dirty boys playing at
cricket? As for me, I am never a bit the older, nor the bigger, nor
the wiser than I was then: no, not for having been beyond sea. Pray,
how are you?...


_The fate of Selima_

Cambridge, 1 _March_, 1747.

As one ought to be particularly careful to avoid blunders in a
compliment of condolence, it would be a sensible satisfaction to
me (before I testify my sorrow, and the sincere part I take in your
misfortune) to know for certain, who it is that I lament. I knew Zara
and Selima (Selima, was it? or Fatima?) or rather I knew both of them
together; for I cannot justly say which was which. Then as to your
handsome Cat, the name you distinguished her by, I am no less at a
loss, as well knowing one's handsome cat is always the cat one likes
best; or if one be alive and the other dead, it is usually the latter
that is the handsomest. Besides, if the point were never so clear, I
hope you do not think me so ill-bred or so imprudent as to forfeit all
my interest in the survivor; Oh no! I would rather seem to mistake,
and to be sure it must be the tabby one that had met with this sad
accident. Till this affair is a little better determined, you will
excuse me if I do not begin to cry:

  Tempus inane peto, requiem, spatiumque doloris.

Which interval is the more convenient, as it gives time to rejoice
with you on your new honours. This is only a beginning; I reckon next
week we shall hear you are a free-Mason, or a Gormorgon at least.
Heigh ho! I feel (as you to be sure have done long since) that I have
very little to say, at least in prose. Somebody will be the better for
it; I do not mean you, but your Cat, feuë Mademoiselle Selime, whom I
am about to immortalize for one week or fortnight, as follows.

... There's a poem for you, it is rather too long for an Epitaph.


_Publication of the Elegy_

Cambridge, 11 _Feb_. 1751.

As you have brought me into a little sort of distress, you must assist
me, I believe, to get out of it as well as I can. Yesterday I had
the misfortune of receiving a letter from certain gentlemen (as their
bookseller expresses it), who have taken the _Magazine of Magazines_
into their hands. They tell me that an _ingenious_ poem, called
_Reflections in a Country Churchyard_, has been communicated to them,
which they are printing forthwith; that they are informed that the
_excellent_ author of it is I by name, and that they beg not only his
_indulgence_, but the _honour_ of his correspondence, &c. As I am not
at all disposed to be either so indulgent, or so correspondent, as
they desire, I have but one bad way left to escape the honour they
would inflict upon me; and, therefore, am obliged to desire you would
make Dodsley print it immediately (which may be done in less than a
week's time) from your copy, but without my name, in what form is
most convenient for him, but on his best paper and character; he must
correct the press himself, and print it without any interval between
the stanzas, because the sense is in some places continued
beyond them; and the title must be,--_Elegy, written in a Country
Churchyard_. If he would add a line or two to say it came into
his hands by accident, I should like it better. If you behold the
_Magazine of Magazines_ in the light that I do, you will not refuse to
give yourself this trouble on my account, which you have taken of your
own accord before now. If Dodsley do not do this immediately, he may
as well let it alone.


_At Burnham_

[Burnham,] _Sept_. 1737.

I was hindered in my last, and so could not give you all the trouble
I would have done. The description of a road, which your coach wheels
have so often honoured, it would be needless to give you; suffice
it that I arrived safe at my uncle's, who is a great hunter in
imagination; his dogs take up every chair in the house, so I am forced
to stand at this present writing; and though the gout forbids him
galloping after them in the field, yet he continues to regale his ears
and nose with their comfortable noise and stink. He holds me mighty
cheap, I perceive, for walking when I should ride, and reading when
I should hunt. My comfort amidst all this is, that I have at the
distance of half a mile, through a green lane, a forest (the vulgar
call it a common) all my own, at least as good as so, for I spy no
human thing in it but myself. It is a little chaos of mountains and
precipices; mountains, it is true, that do not ascend much above the
clouds, nor are the declivities quite so amazing as Dover Cliff; but
just such hills as people who love their necks as well as I do may
venture to climb, and crags that give the eye as much pleasure as if
they were more dangerous. Both vale and hill are covered with most
venerable beeches, and other very reverend vegetables, that, like most
other ancient people, are always dreaming out their old stories to the

  _And as they bow their hoary tops relate,
  In murm'ring sounds, the dark decrees of fate;
  While visions, as poetic eyes avow,
  Cling to each leaf, and swarm on every bough._

At the foot of one of these squats ME I (_ilpenseroso_), and there
grow to the trunk for a whole morning. The timorous hare and sportive
squirrel gambol round me like Adam in Paradise, before he had an Eve;
but I think he did not use to read Virgil, as I commonly do there.
In this situation I often converse with my Horace, aloud too, that is
talk to you, but I do not remember that I ever heard you answer me.
I beg pardon for taking all the conversation to myself, but it is
entirely your own fault....


_The Laureateship_

19 _Dec_. 1757.


Though I very well know the bland emollient saponaceous qualities both
of sack and silver, yet if any great man would say to me, 'I make you
Rat-catcher to his Majesty, with a salary of £300 a-year and two butts
of the best Malaga; and though it has been usual to catch a mouse or
two, for form's sake, in public once a year, yet to you, sir, we shall
not stand on these things,' I cannot say I should jump at it; nay, if
they would drop the very name of the office, and call me Sinecure
to the King's Majesty, I should feel a little awkward, and think
everybody I saw smelt a rat about me; but I do not pretend to blame
any one else that has not the same sensations; for my part, I would
rather be serjeant trumpeter or pinmaker to the palace. Nevertheless
I interest myself a little in the history of it, and rather wish
somebody may accept it who will retrieve the credit of the thing, if
it be retrieveable, or ever had any credit. Rowe was, I think, the
last man of character that had it. As to Settle, whom you mention,
he belonged to my lord mayor, not to the King. Eusden was a person
of great hopes in his youth, though at last he turned out a drunken
person. Dryden was as disgraceful to the office from his character,
as the poorest scribbler could have been from his verses. The office
itself has always humbled the professor hitherto (even in an age when
kings were somebody), if he were a poor writer by making him more
conspicuous, and if he were a good one by setting him at war with the
little fry of his own profession, for there are poets little enough to
envy even a poet laureate.


_A holiday in Kent_

Pembroke College, 26 _Aug_. 1766.


Whatever my pen may do, I am sure my thoughts expatiate nowhere
oftener, or with more pleasure, than to Old Park. I hope you have made
my peace with Miss Deborah. It is certain, whether her name were in
my letter or not, she was as present to my memory as the rest of the
little family; and I desire you would present her with two kisses
in my name, and one a piece to all the others; for I shall take the
liberty to kiss them all (great and small) as you are to be my proxy.

In spite of the rain, which I think continued with very short
intervals till the beginning of this month, and quite effaced the
summer from the year, I made a shift to pass May and June, not
disagreeably, in Kent. I was surprised at the beauty of the road
to Canterbury, which (I know not why) had not struck me in the same
manner before. The whole country is a rich and well cultivated garden;
orchards, cherry grounds, hop grounds, intermixed with corn and
frequent villages, gentle risings covered with wood, and everywhere
the Thames and Medway breaking in upon the landscape, with all their
navigation. It was indeed owing to the bad weather that the whole
scene was dressed in that tender emerald green, which one usually sees
only for a fortnight in the opening of Spring; and this continued till
I left the country. My residence was eight miles east of Canterbury,
in a little quiet valley on the skirts of Barham Down; in these parts
the whole soil is chalk, and whenever it holds up, in half an hour
it is dry enough to walk out. I took the opportunity of three or four
days fine weather to go into the Isle of Thanet, saw Margate (which
is Bartholomew Fair by the seaside), Ramsgate, and other places there;
and so came by Sandwich, Deal, Dover, Folkestone, and Hythe, back
again. The coast is not like Hartlepool, there are no rocks, but
only chalky cliffs, of no great height, till you come to Dover. There
indeed they are noble and picturesque, and the opposite coasts of
France begin to bound your view, which was left before to range
unlimited by anything but the horizon; yet it is by no means a
_shipless_ sea, but everywhere peopled with white sails and vessels of
all sizes in motion; and take notice (except in the Isle, which is all
corn fields, and has very little enclosure), there are in all places
hedgerows and tall trees, even within a few yards of the beach,
particularly Hythe stands on an eminence covered with wood. I shall
confess we had fires of a night (aye and a day too) several times even
in June: but don't go too far and take advantage of this, for it was
the most untoward year that ever I remember.

Your friend Rousseau (I doubt) grows tired of Mr. Davenport and
Derbyshire; he has picked a quarrel with David Hume, and writes
him letters of fourteen pages folio, upbraiding him with all his
_noirceurs_; take one only as a specimen. He says, that at Calais
they chanced to sleep in the same room together, and that he overheard
David talking in his sleep, and saying, '_Ah! je le tiens, ce
Jean-Jacques là_.' In short (I fear), for want of persecution and
admiration (for these are his real complaints), he will go back to the

What shall I say to you about the ministry? I am as angry as a
common council man of London about my Lord Chatham; but a little more
patient, and will hold my tongue till the end of the year. In the
meantime I do mutter in secret, and to you, that to quit the House of
Commons, his natural strength, to sap his own popularity and grandeur
(which no one but himself could have done) by assuming a foolish
title; and to hope that he could win by it, and attach to him a court
that hate him, and will dismiss him as soon as ever they dare, was the
weakest thing that ever was done by so great a man. Had it not been
for this, I should have rejoiced at the breach between him and Lord
Temple, and at the union between him and the Duke of Grafton and
Mr. Conway: but patience! we shall see! Stonehewer perhaps is in the
country (for he hoped for a month's leave of absence), and if you see
him you will learn more than I can tell you.




_Floods in the Arno_

From Florence, _Nov_. 1740.

Child, I am going to let you see your shocking proceedings with us. On
my conscience, I believe 'tis three months since you wrote to either
Gray or me. If you had been ill, Ashton would have said so; and if
you had been dead, the gazettes would have said it. If you had been
angry,--but that's impossible; how can one quarrel with folks three
thousand miles off? We are neither divines nor commentators, and
consequently have not hated you on paper. 'Tis to show that my charity
for you cannot be interrupted at this distance that I write to you,
though I have nothing to say, for 'tis a bad time for small news; and
when emperors and czarinas are dying all up and down Europe, one can't
pretend to tell you of anything that happens within our sphere. Not
but that we have our accidents too. If you have had a great wind in
England, we have had a great water at Florence. We have been trying
to set out every day, and pop upon you[1] ... It is fortunate that
we stayed, for I don't know what had become of us! Yesterday, with
violent rains, there came flouncing down from the mountains such a
flood that it floated the whole city. The jewellers on the Old Bridge
removed their commodities, and in two hours after the bridge was
cracked. The torrent broke down the quays and drowned several
coach-horses, which are kept here in stables under ground. We were
moated into our house all day, which is near the Arno, and had the
miserable spectacles of the ruins that were washed along with the
hurricane. There was a cart with two oxen not quite dead, and four men
in it drowned: but what was ridiculous, there came tiding along a
fat hay-cock, with a hen and her eggs, and a cat. The torrent is
considerably abated; but we expect terrible news from the country,
especially from Pisa, which stands so much lower, and nearer the
sea. There is a stone here, which, when the water overflows, Pisa is
entirely flooded. The water rose two ells yesterday above that stone.

For this last month we have passed our time but dully, all diversions
silenced on the Emperor's death, and everybody out of town. I have
seen nothing but cards and dull pairs of cicisbeos. I have literally
seen so much of love and pharaoh since being here, that I believe I
shall never love either again so long as I live. Then I am got into
a horrid lazy way of a morning. I don't believe I should know seven
o'clock in the morning again if I was to see it. But I am returning to
England, and shall grow very solemn and wise! Are you wise? Dear West,
have pity on one who has done nothing of gravity for these two years,
and do laugh sometimes. We do nothing else, and have contracted such
formidable ideas of the good people of England that we are already
nourishing great black eyebrows and great black beards, and teasing
our countenances into wrinkles.

[Footnote 1: MS. torn here.]


_Pictures and Garrick_

Strawberry Hill, 15 _Aug_. 1755.


Though I wrote to you so lately, and have certainly nothing new to
tell you, I can't help scribbling a line to you to-night, as I am
going to Mr. Rigby's for a week or ten days, and must thank you first
for the three pictures. One of them charms me, the Mount Orgueil,
which is absolutely fine; the sea, and shadow upon it, are masterly.
The other two I don't, at least won't, take for finished. If you
please, Elizabeth Castle shall be Mr. Müntz's performance: indeed I
see nothing of you in it. I do reconnoitre you in the Hercules and
Nessus; but in both, your colours are dirty, carelessly dirty: in
your distant hills you are improved, and not hard. The figures are too
large--I don't mean in the Elizabeth Castle, for there they are neat;
but the centaur, though he dies as well as Garrick can, is outrageous.
Hercules and Deianira are by no means so: he is sentimental, and she
most improperly sorrowful. However, I am pleased enough to beg you
would continue. As soon as Mr. Müntz returns from the Vine, you shall
have a good supply of colours. In the meantime why give up the good
old trade of drawing? Have you no Indian ink, no soot-water, no snuff,
no coat of onion, no juice of anything? If you love me, draw: you
would if you knew the real pleasure you can give me. I have been
studying all your drawings; and next to architecture and trees, I
determine that you succeed in nothing better than animals. Now (as
the newspapers say) the late ingenious Mr. Seymour is dead, I would
recommend horses and greyhounds to you. I should think you capable of
a landscape or two with delicious bits of architecture. I have known
you execute the light of a torch or lanthorn so well, that if it
was called Schalken, a housekeeper at Hampton Court or Windsor, or
a Catherine at Strawberry Hill, would show it, and say it cost ten
thousand pounds. Nay, if I could believe that you would ever execute
any more designs I proposed to you, I would give you a hint for a
picture that struck me t'other day in Péréfixe's _Life of Henry IV_.
He says, the king was often seen lying upon a common straw-bed among
the soldiers, with a piece of brown bread in one hand, and a bit
of charcoal in t'other, to draw an encampment, or town that he was
besieging. If this is not character and a picture, I don't know what

I dined to-day at Garrick's: there were the Duke of Grafton, Lord and
Lady Rochford, Lady Holderness, the crooked Mostyn, and Dabreu the
Spanish minister; two regents, of which one is lord chamberlain, the
other groom of the stole; and the wife of a secretary of state. This
is being _sur un assez bon ton_ for a player! Don't you want to ask me
how I like him? Do want, and I will tell you.--I like her exceedingly;
her behaviour is all sense, and all sweetness too. I don't know how,
he does not improve so fast upon me: there is a great deal of parts,
and vivacity, and variety, but there is a great deal too of mimicry
and burlesque. I am very ungrateful, for he flatters me abundantly;
but unluckily I know it. I was accustomed to it enough when my father
was first minister: on his fall I lost it all at once: and since that,
I have lived with Mr. Chute, who is all vehemence; with Mr. Fox, who
is all disputation; with Sir Charles Williams, who has no time from
flattering himself; with Gray, who does not hate to find fault with
me; with Mr. Conway, who is all sincerity; and with you and Mr. Rigby,
who have always laughed at me in a good-natured way. I don't know how,
but I think I like all this as well--I beg his pardon, Mr. Raftor does
flatter me; but I should be a cormorant for praise, if I could swallow
it whole as he gives it me.

Sir William Yonge, who has been extinct so long, is at last dead; and
the war, which began with such a flirt of vivacity, is I think gone to
sleep. General Braddock has not yet sent over to claim the surname of
Americanus. But why should I take pains to show you in how many ways I
know nothing?--Why; I can tell it you in one word--why, Mr. Cambridge
knows nothing!--I wish you good-night!


_Gray's Odes_

Strawberry Hill, 25 _Aug_. 1757.


It is a satisfaction one can't often receive, to show a thing of
great merit to a man of great taste. Your Lordship's approbation is
conclusive, and it stamps a disgrace on the age, who have not given
themselves the trouble to see any beauties in these _Odes_ of Mr.
Gray. They have cast their eyes over them, found them obscure, and
looked no further, yet perhaps no compositions ever had more sublime
beauties than are in each. I agree with your Lordship in preferring
the last upon the whole; the three first stanzas and half, down to
_agonizing King_, are in my opinion equal to anything in any language
I understand. Yet the three last of the first Ode please me very near
as much. The description of Shakespeare is worthy Shakespeare: the
account of Milton's blindness, though perhaps not strictly defensible,
is very majestic. The character of Dryden's poetry is as animated as
what it paints. I can even like the epithet _Orient_; as the last is
the empire of fancy and poesy, I would allow its livery to be erected
into a colour. I think _blue-eyed Pleasures_ is allowable: when Homer
gave eyes of what hue he pleased to his Queen-Goddesses, sure Mr. Gray
may tinge those of their handmaids.

In answer to your Lordship's objection to _many-twinkling_, in that
beautiful epode, I will quote authority to which you will yield. As
Greek as the expression is, it struck Mrs. Garrick, and she says, on
that whole picture, that Mr. Gray is the only poet who ever understood

These faults I think I can defend, and can excuse others; even the
great obscurity of the latter, for I do not see it in the first; the
subject of it has been taken for music,--it is the Power and Progress
of Harmonious Poetry. I think his objection to prefixing a title to it
was wrong--that Mr. Cooke published an ode with such a title. If the
Louis the Great, whom Voltaire has discovered in Hungary, had not
disappeared from history himself, would not Louis Quatorze have
annihilated him? I was aware that the second would have darknesses,
and prevailed for the insertion of what notes there are, and would
have had more. Mr. Gray said, whatever wanted explanation did not
deserve it, but that sentence was never so far from being an axiom as
in the present case. Not to mention how he had shackled himself with
strophe, antistrophe, and epode (yet acquitting himself nobly),
the nature of prophecy forbade him naming his kings. To me they are
apparent enough--yet I am far from thinking either piece perfect,
though with what faults they have, I hold them in the first rank of
genius and poetry. The second strophe of the first Ode is inexcusable,
nor do I wonder your Lordship blames it; even when one does understand
it, perhaps the last line is too turgid. I am not fond of the
antistrophe that follows. In the second Ode he made some corrections
for the worse. _Brave Urion_ was originally _stern_: brave is insipid
and commonplace. In the third antistrophe, _leave me unblessed,
unpitied_, stood at first, _leave your despairing Caradoc_. But the
capital faults in my opinion are these--what punishment was it to
Edward I to hear that his grandson would conquer France? or is so
common an event as Edward III being deserted on his death-bed, worthy
of being made part of a curse that was to avenge a nation? I can't
cast my eye here, without crying out on those beautiful lines that
follow, _Fair smiles the morn_? Though the images are extremely
complicated, what painting in the whirlwind, likened to a lion lying
in ambush for his evening prey, _in grim repose_. Thirst and hunger
mocking Richard II appear to me too ludicrously like the devils in
_The Tempest_, that whisk away the banquet from the shipwrecked Dukes.
From thence to the conclusion of Queen Elizabeth's portrait, which he
has faithfully copied from Speed, in the passage where she humbled the
Polish Ambassador, I admire. I can even allow that image of Rapture
hovering like an ancient grotesque, though it strictly has little
meaning: but there I take my leave--the last stanza has no beauties
for me. I even think its obscurity fortunate, for the allusions to
Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, are not only weak, but the two last
returning again, after appearing so gloriously in the first Ode, and
with so much fainter colours, enervate the whole conclusion.

Your Lordship sees that I am no enthusiast to Mr. Gray: his great
lustre has not dazzled me, as his obscurity seems to have blinded his
contemporaries. Indeed, I do not think that they ever admired him,
except in his Churchyard, though the Eton Ode was far its superior,
and is certainly not obscure. The Eton Ode is perfect: those of more
masterly execution have defects, yet not to admire them is total want
of taste. I have an aversion to tame poetry; at best, perhaps the art
is the sublimest of the _difficiles nugae_; to measure or rhyme prose
is trifling without being difficult.


_At Lady Suffolk's_

Arlington Street, 11 _Jan_. 1764.

It is an age, I own, since I wrote to you; but except politics,
what was there to send you? and for politics, the present are too
contemptible to be recorded by anybody but journalists, gazetteers,
and such historians! The ordinary of Newgate, or Mr.----, who write
for their monthly half-crown, and who are indifferent whether Lord
Bute, Lord Melcombe, or Maclean is their hero, may swear they
find diamonds on dunghills; but you will excuse _me_, if I let our
correspondence lie dormant rather than deal in such trash. I am forced
to send Lord Hertford and Sir Horace Mann such garbage, because
they are out of England, and the sea softens and makes palatable any
potion, as it does claret; but unless I can divert _you_, I had rather
wait till we can laugh together; the best employment for friends,
who do not mean to pick one another's pockets, nor make a property of
either's frankness. Instead of politics, therefore, I shall amuse you
to-day with a fairy tale.

I was desired to be at my Lady Suffolk's on New Year's morn, where I
found Lady Temple and others. On the toilet Miss Hotham spied a small
round box. She seized it with all the eagerness and curiosity of
eleven years. In it was wrapped up a heart-diamond ring, and a paper
in which, in a hand as small as Buckinger's, who used to write the
Lord's Prayer in the compass of a silver penny, were the following

  Sent by a sylph, unheard, unseen,
  A new-year's gift from Mab our queen:
  But tell it not, for if you do,
  You will be pinch'd all black and blue.
  Consider well, what a disgrace,
  To show abroad your mottled face:
  Then seal your lips, put on the ring,
  And sometimes think of Ob. the King.

You will easily guess that Lady Temple was the poetess, and that we
were delighted with the genteelness of the thought and execution. The
child, you may imagine, was less transported with the poetry than the
present. Her attention, however, was hurried backwards and forwards
from the ring to a new coat, that she had been trying on when sent for
down; impatient to revisit her coat, and to show the ring to her maid,
she whisked upstairs; when she came down again, she found a letter
sealed, and lying on the floor--new exclamations! Lady Suffolk bade
her open it: here it is:

  Your tongue, too nimble for your sense,
  Is guilty of a high offence;
  Hath introduced unkind debate,
  And topsy-turvy turn'd our state.
  In gallantry I sent the ring,
  The token of a love-sick king:
  Under fair Mab's auspicious name
  From me the trifling present came.
  You blabb'd the news in Suffolk's ear;
  The tattling zephyrs brought it here,
  As Mab was indolently laid
  Under a poppy's spreading shade.
  The jealous queen started in rage;
  She kick'd her crown, and beat her page:
  'Bring me my magic wand ', she cries;
  'Under that primrose, there it lies;
  I'll change the silly, saucy chit,
  Into a flea, a louse, a nit,
  A worm, a grasshopper, a rat,
  An owl, a monkey, hedgehog, bat.
  But hold, why not by fairy art
  Transform the wretch, into--?
  Ixion once a cloud embraced,
  By Jove and jealousy well placed;
  What sport to see proud Oberon stare
  And flirt it with a--!'
  Then thrice she stamped the trembling ground,
  And thrice she waved her wand around;
  When I, endow'd with greater skill,
  And less inclined to do you ill,
  Mutter'd some words, withheld her arm,
  And kindly stopp'd the unfinish'd charm.
  But though not changed to owl or bat,
  Or something more indelicate;
  Yet, as your tongue has run too fast,
  Your boasted beauty must not last.
  No more shall frolic Cupid lie
  In ambuscade in either eye,
  From thence to aim his keenest dart
  To captivate each youthful heart:
  No more shall envious misses pine
  At charms now flown, that once were thine:
  No more, since you so ill behave,
  Shall injured Oberon be your slave.

There is one word which I could wish had not been there, though it is
prettily excused afterwards. The next day my Lady Suffolk desired I
would write her a patent for appointing Lady Temple poet laureate to
the fairies. I was excessively out of order with a pain in my stomach,
which I had had for ten days, and was fitter to write verses like
a poet laureate, than for making one; however, I was going home to
dinner alone, and at six I sent her some lines, which you ought to
have seen how sick I was, to excuse; but first, I must tell you my
tale methodically. The next morning by nine o'clock Miss Hotham (she
must forgive me twenty years hence for saying she was eleven, for I
recollect she is but ten) arrived at Lady Temple's, her face and neck
all spotted with saffron, and limping. 'Oh, madam!' said she, 'I am
undone for ever if you do not assist me!' 'Lord, child,' cried my Lady
Temple, 'what is the matter?' thinking she had hurt herself, or lost
the ring, and that she was stolen out before her aunt was up. 'Oh,
madam,' said the girl, 'nobody but you can assist me!' My Lady Temple
protests the child acted her part so well as to deceive her. 'What can
I do for you?' 'Dear madam, take this load from my back; nobody but
you can.' Lady Temple turned her round, and upon her back was tied a
child's waggon. In it were three tiny purses of blue velvet; in one of
them a silver cup, in another a crown of laurel, and in the third
four new silver pennies, with the patent, signed at top, 'Oberon
Imperator'; and two sheets of warrants strung together with blue silk
according to form; and at top an office seal of wax and a chaplet of
cut paper on it. The warrants were these:

  From the Royal Mews:
  A waggon with the draught horses, delivered by
  command without fee.

  From the Lord Chamberlain's Office:
  A warrant with the royal sign manual, delivered
  by command without fee, being first entered
  in the office books.

  From the Lord Steward's Office:
  A butt of sack, delivered without fee or gratuity,
  with an order for returning the cask for the
  use of the office, by command.

  From the Great Wardrobe:
  Three velvet bags, delivered without fee, by

  From the Treasurer of the Household's Office:
  A year's salary paid free from land-tax, poundage,
  or any other deduction whatever, by command.

  From the Jewel Office:
  A silver butt, a silver cup, a wreath of bays, by
  command without fee.

Then came the Patent:

  By these presents be it known,
  To all who bend before our throne,
  Fays and fairies, elves and sprites,
  Beauteous dames and gallant knights,
  That we, Oberon the grand,
  Emperor of fairy-land,
  King of moonshine, prince of dreams,
  Lord of Aganippe's streams,
  Baron of the dimpled isles
  That lie in pretty maidens' smiles,
  Arch-treasurer of all the graces
  Dispersed through fifty lovely faces,
  Sovereign of the slipper's order,
  With all the rites thereon that border,
  Defender of the sylphic faith,
  Declare--and thus your monarch saith:
  Whereas there is a noble dame,
  Whom mortals Countess Temple name,
  To whom ourself did erst impart
  The choicest secrets of our art,
  Taught her to tune the harmonious line
  To our own melody divine,
  Taught her the graceful negligence,
  Which, scorning art and veiling sense,
  Achieves that conquest o'er the heart
  Sense seldom gains, and never art;
  This lady, 'tis our royal will,
  Our laureate's vacant seat should fill:
  A chaplet of immortal bays
  Shall crown her brow and guard her lays;
  Of nectar sack an acorn cup
  Be at her board each year filled up;
  And as each quarter feast comes round
  A silver penny shall be found
  Within the compass of her shoe--
  And so we bid you all adieu!

Given at our palace of Cowslip Castle, the shortest night of the year.


And underneath,


How shall I tell you the greatest curiosity of the story? The whole
plan and execution of the second act was laid and adjusted by my
Lady Suffolk herself and Will. Chetwynd, Master of the Mint, Lord
Bolingbroke's Oroonoho-Chetwynd; he fourscore, she past seventy-six;
and what is more, much worse than I was, for, added to her deafness,
she has been confined these three weeks with the gout in her eyes, and
was actually then in misery, and had been without sleep. What
spirits, and cleverness, and imagination, at that age, and under those
afflicting circumstances! You reconnoitre her old court knowledge, how
charmingly she has applied it! Do you wonder I pass so many hours and
evenings with her? Alas! I had like to have lost her this morning!
They had poulticed her feet to draw the gout downwards, and began to
succeed yesterday, but to-day it flew up into her head, and she was
almost in convulsions with the agony, and screamed dreadfully; proof
enough how ill she was, for her patience and good breeding make her
for ever sink and conceal what she feels. This evening the gout has
been driven back to her foot, and I trust she is out of danger. Her
loss would be irreparable to me at Twickenham, where she is by far the
most rational and agreeable company I have....


_A quiet life_

Strawberry Hill, 11 _June_, 1765.

I am almost as much ashamed, Madam, to plead the true cause of my
faults towards your ladyship, as to have been guilty of any neglect.
It is scandalous, at my age, to have been carried backwards and
forwards to balls and suppers and parties by very young people, as
I was all last week. My resolutions of growing old and staid are
admirable: I wake with a sober plan, and intend to pass the day with
my friends--then comes the Duke of Richmond, and hurries me down to
Whitehall to dinner--then the Duchess of Grafton sends for me to too
in Upper Grosvenor Street--before I can get thither, I am begged
to step to Kensington, to give Mrs. Anne Pitt my opinion about
a bow-window--after the loo, I am to march back to Whitehall to
supper--and after that, am to walk with Miss Pelham on the terrace
till two in the morning, because it is moonlight and her chair is not
come. All this does not help my morning laziness; and by the time I
have breakfasted, fed my birds and my squirrels, and dressed, there is
an auction ready. In short, Madam, this was my life last week, and
is I think every week, with the addition of forty episodes.--Yet,
ridiculous as it is, I send it to your ladyship, because I had
rather you should laugh at me than be angry. I cannot offend you in
intention, but I fear my sins of omission are equal to a good many
Christian's. Pray forgive me. I really will begin to be between forty
and fifty by the time I am fourscore: and I truly believe I shall
bring my resolutions within compass; for I have not chalked out any
particular business that will take me above forty years more; so that,
if I do not get acquainted with the grandchildren of all the present
age, I shall lead a quiet sober life yet before I die....


_Gray's death_

Paris, 12 _Aug_. 1771.


I am excessively shocked at reading in the papers that Mr. Gray is
dead! I wish to God you may be able to tell me it is not true! Yet
in this painful uncertainty I must rest some days! None of my
acquaintance are in London. I do not know to whom to apply but to you.
Alas! I fear in vain! Too many circumstances speak it true! the detail
is exact;--a second paper arrived by the same post, and does not
contradict it--and what is worse, I saw him but four or five
days before I came hither; he had been to Kensington for the air,
complained of gout flying about him, of sensations of it in his
stomach, and indeed, thought him changed, and that he looked
ill--still I had not the least idea of his being in danger.--I started
up from my chair, when I read the paragraph--a cannon-ball could
not have surprised me more! The shock but ceased, to give way to my
concern; and my hopes are too ill founded to mitigate it. If nobody
has the charity to write to me, my anxiety must continue till the end
of the month, for I shall set out on my return on the 26th; and unless
you receive this time enough for your answer to leave London on the
20th, in the evening, I cannot meet it, till I find it in Arlington
Street, whither I beg you to direct it.

If the event is but too true, pray add to this melancholy service,
that of telling me any circumstances you know of his death. Our long,
very long friendship, and his genius, must endear to me everything
that relates to him. What writings has he left? Who are his executors?
I should earnestly wish, if he has destined anything to the public,
to print it at my press--it would do me honour, and would give me an
opportunity of expressing what I feel for him. Methinks, as we grow
old, our only business here is to adorn the graves of our friends, or
to dig our own.


_The quarrel with Gray_

2 _March_, 1773.

What shall I say? How shall I thank you for the kind manner in which
you submit your papers to my correction? But if you are friendly, I
must be just. I am so far from being dissatisfied, that I must beg to
shorten your pen, and in that respect only would I wish, with regard
to myself, to alter your text. I am conscious that in the beginning of
the differences between Gray and me, the fault was mine. I was
young, too fond of my own diversions; nay, I do not doubt, too much
intoxicated by indulgence, vanity, and the insolence of my situation,
as a prime minister's son, not to have been inattentive to the
feelings of one, I blush to say it, that I knew was obliged to me;
of one, whom presumption and folly made me deem not very superior
in parts, though I have since felt my infinite inferiority to him.
I treated him insolently. He loved me, and I did not think he did. I
reproached him with the difference between us, when he acted from the
conviction of knowing that he was my superior. I often disregarded
his wish of seeing places, which I would not quit my own amusements to
visit, though I offered to send him thither without me. Forgive me,
if I say that his temper was not conciliating, at the same time that I
will confess to you that he acted a most friendly part, had I had the
sense to take advantage of it. He freely told me my faults. I declared
I did not wish to hear them, nor would correct them. You will not
wonder, that with the dignity of his spirit, and the obstinate
carelessness of mine, the breach must have widened till we became

After this confession, I fear you will think I fall short in the
words I wish to have substituted for some of yours. If you think them
inadequate to the state of the case, as I own they are, preserve this
letter, and let some future Sir John Dalrymple produce it to load my
memory; but I own I do not desire that any ambiguity should aid his
invention to forge an account for me. If you have no objection, I
would propose your narrative should run thus ... and contain no more,
till a proper time shall come for publishing the truth, as I have
stated it to you. While I am living, it is not pleasant to see my
private disagreements discussed in magazines and newspapers.


_Fashionable intelligence_

Strawberry Hill, 27 _March_, 1773.

What play makes you laugh very much, and yet is a very wretched
comedy? Dr. Goldsmith's _She Stoops to Conquer_. Stoops indeed!--so
she does, that is the Muse; she is draggled up to the knees, and has
trudged, I believe, from Southwark fair. The whole view of the
piece is low humour, and no humour is in it. All the merit is in the
situations, which are comic; the heroine has no more modesty than Lady
Bridget, and the author's wit is as much _manqué_ as the lady's; but
some of the characters are well acted, and Woodward speaks a poor
prologue, written by Garrick, admirably.

You perceive, Madam, that I have boldly sallied to a play; but the
heat of the house and of this sultry March half killed me, yet I limp
about as if I was young and pleased. From the play I travelled
to Upper Grosvenor Street, to Lady Edgecumbe's, supped at Lady
Hertford's. That Maccaroni rake, Lady Powis, who is just come to her
estate and spending it, calling in with news of a fire in the Strand
at past one in the morning, Lady Hertford, Lady Powis, Mrs. Howe, and
I, set out to see it, and were within an inch of seeing the Adelphi
buildings burnt to the ground. I was to have gone to the Oratorio
next night for Miss Linley's sake, but, being engaged to the French
ambassador's ball afterwards, I thought I was not quite Hercules
enough for so many labours, and declined the former.

The house was all arbours and bowers, but rather more approaching to
Calcutta, where so many English were stewed to death; for as the Queen
would not dis-Maid of Honour herself of Miss Vernon till after the
Oratorio, the ball-room was not opened till she arrived, and we were
penned together in the little hall till we could not breathe. The
quadrilles were very pretty: Mrs. Darner, Lady Sefton, Lady Melbourne,
and the Princess Czartoriski in blue satin, with blond and _collets
montés à la reine Elizabeth_; Lord Robert Spencer, Mr. Fitzpatrick,
Lord Carlisle, and I forget whom, in like dresses with red sashes,
_derouge_, black hats with diamond loops and a few feathers before,
began; then the Henri Quatres and Quatresses, who were Lady Craven,
Miss Minching, the two Misses Vernons, Mr. Storer, Mr. Hanger, the Duc
de Lauzun, and George Damer, all in white, the men with black hats and
white feathers napping behind, danced another quadrille, and then both
quadrilles joined; after which Mrs. Hobart, all in gauze and spangles,
like a spangle-pudding, a Miss I forget, Lord Edward Bentinck, and
a Mr. Corbet, danced a _pas-de-quatre_, in which Mrs. Hobart indeed
performed admirably.

The fine Mrs. Matthews in white, trimmed down all the neck and
petticoat with scarlet cock's feathers, appeared like a new macaw
brought from Otaheite; but of all the pretty creatures next to the
Carrara (who was not there) was Mrs. Bunbury; so that with her I was
in love till one o'clock, and then came home to bed. The Duchess of
Queensberry had a round gown of rose-colour, with a man's cape, which,
with the stomacher and sleeves, was all trimmed with mother-of-pearl
earrings. This Pindaric gown was a sudden thought to surprise the
Duke, with whom she had dined in another dress. Did you ever see so
good a joke?...

Lord Chesterfield was dead before my last letter that foretold his
death set out. Alas! I shall have no more of his lively sayings,
Madam, to send you. Oh yes! I have his last: being told of the quarrel
in Spitalfields, and even that Mrs. F[itzroy] struck Miss P[oole], he
said, I always thought Mrs. F. a _striking_ beauty.'

Thus, having given away all his wit to the last farthing, he has left
nothing but some poor witticisms in his will, tying up his heir by
forfeitures and jokes from going to Newmarket.

I wrote this letter at Strawberry, and find nothing new in town to add
but a cold north-east that has brought back all our fires and furs.
Pray tell me a little of your Ladyship's futurity, and whether you
will deign to pass through London.


_Antiquaries and authors_

Arlington Street, 27 _April_, 1773.

... Mr. Gough wants to be introduced to me! Indeed! I would see
him;... but he is so dull that he would only be troublesome--and
besides, you know I shun authors, and would never have been one
myself, if it obliged me to keep such bad company. They are always
in earnest, and think their profession serious, and will dwell upon
trifles, and reverence learning. I laugh at all these things, and
write only to laugh at them, and divert myself. None of us are authors
of any consequence; and it is the most ridiculous of all vanities to
be vain of being _mediocre_. A page in a great author humbles me
to the dust; and the conversation of those that are not superior
to myself, reminds me of what will be thought of myself. I blush to
flatter them, or to be flattered by them, and should dread letters
being published some time or other, in which they would relate our
interviews, and we should appear like those puny conceited witlings
in Shenstone's and Hughes's _Correspondence_, who give themselves airs
from being in possession of the soil of Parnassus for the time being;
as peers are proud, because they enjoy the estates of great men who
went before them. Mr. Gough is very welcome to see Strawberry Hill; or
I would help him to any scraps in my possession, that would assist
his publications; though he is one of those industrious who are
only re-burying the dead--but I cannot be acquainted with him. It is
contrary to my system and my humour; and besides, I know nothing
of barrows, and Danish intrenchments, and Saxon barbarisms, and
Phoenician characters--in short, I know nothing of those ages that
knew nothing--how then should I be of use to modern litterati? All the
Scotch metaphysicians have sent me their works. I did not read one of
them, because I do not understand what is not understood by those that
write about it; and I did not get acquainted with one of the writers.
I should like to be acquainted with Mr. Anstey, even though he wrote
Lord Buckhorse, or with the author of the _Heroic Epistle_--I have no
thirst to know the rest of my contemporaries, from the absurd bombast
of Dr. Johnson down to the silly Dr. Goldsmith; though the latter
changeling has had bright gleams of parts, and though the former had
sense, till he changed it for words, and sold it for a pension. Don't
think me scornful. Recollect that I have seen Pope, and lived with
Gray. Adieu!


_Their first meeting_

Tuesday night, 8 o'clock, 17 _Sept._ 1793.

My beloved spouses,

Whom I love better than Solomon loved his one spouse--or his one
thousand. I lament that the summer is over; not because of its
iniquity, but because you two made it so delightful to me, that six
weeks of gout could not sour it. Pray take care of yourselves--not
for your own sakes, but for mine; for, as I have just had my quota of
gout, I may, possibly, expect to see another summer; and, as you allow
that I do know my own, and when I wish for anything and have it, am
entirely satisfied, you may depend upon it that I shall be as happy
with a third summer, if I reach it, as I have been with the two last.

Consider, that I have been threescore years and ten looking for a
society that I perfectly like; and at last there dropped out of the
clouds into Lady Herries's room two young gentlewomen, who I so little
thought were sent thither on purpose for me, that when I was told they
were the charming Miss Berrys, I would not even go to the side of the
chamber where they sat. But, as Fortune never throws anything at one's
head without hitting one, I soon found out that the charming Berrys
were precisely _ce qu'il me fallait_; and that though young enough to
be my great-grand-daughters, lovely enough to turn the heads of all
our youths, and sensible enough, if said youths have any brains, to
set all their heads to rights again. Yes, sweet damsels, I have found
that you can bear to pass half your time with an antediluvian, without
discovering any _ennui_ or disgust; though his greatest merit towards
you is, that he is not one of those old fools who fancy they are in
love in their dotage. I have no such vagary; though I am not
sorry that some folks think I am so absurd, since it frets their




_At Cork_

[c. 1751.]

My dear mother,

If you will sit down and calmly listen to what I say, you shall be
fully resolved in every one of those many questions you have asked me.
I went to Cork and converted my horse, which you prize so much higher
than Fiddleback, into cash, took my passage in a ship bound for
America, and, at the same time, paid the captain for my freight and
all the other expenses of my voyage. But it so happened that the wind
did not answer for three weeks; and you know, mother, that I could not
command the elements. My misfortune was, that, when the wind served, I
happened to be with a party in the country, and my friend the captain
never inquired after me, but set sail with as much indifference as if
I had been on board. The remainder of my time I employed in the city
and its environs, viewing everything curious; and you know no one can
starve while he has money in his pocket.

Reduced, however, to my last two guineas, I began to think of my
dear mother and friends whom I had left behind me, and so bought
that generous beast Fiddleback, and made adieu to Cork with only five
shillings in my pocket. This, to be sure, was but a scanty allowance
for man and horse towards a journey of above a hundred miles; but I
did not despair, for I knew I must find friends on the road.

I recollected particularly an old and faithful acquaintance I made at
college, who had often and earnestly pressed me to spend a summer
with him, and he lived but eight miles from Cork. This circumstance
of vicinity he would expatiate on to me with peculiar emphasis. 'We
shall,' says he, 'enjoy the delights of both city and country, and you
shall command my stable and my purse.'

However, upon the way, I met a poor woman all in tears, who told me
her husband had been arrested for a debt he was not able to pay, and
that his eight children must now starve, bereaved as they were of his
industry, which had been their only support. I thought myself at home,
being not far from my good friend's house, and therefore parted with
a moiety of all my store; and pray, mother, ought I not to have given
her the other half-crown, for what she got would be of little use to
her? However, I soon arrived at the mansion of my affectionate friend,
guarded by the vigilance of a huge mastiff, who flew at me, and
would have torn me to pieces but for the assistance of a woman, whose
countenance was not less grim than that of the dog; yet she with great
humanity relieved me from the jaws of this Cerberus, and was prevailed
on to carry up my name to her master.

Without suffering me to wait long, my old friend, who was then
recovering from a severe fit of sickness, came down in his nightcap,
nightgown, and slippers, and embraced me with the most cordial
welcome, showed me in, and after giving me a history of his
indisposition, assured me that he considered himself peculiarly
fortunate in having under his roof the man he most loved on earth, and
whose stay with him must, above all things, contribute to his perfect
recovery. I now repented sorely I had not given the poor woman the
other half-crown, as I thought all my bills of humanity would be
punctually answered by this worthy man. I revealed to him my whole
soul; I opened to him all my distresses; and freely owned that I
had but one half-crown in my pocket; but that now, like a ship after
weathering out the storm, I considered myself secure in a safe and
hospitable harbour. He made no answer, but walked about the room,
rubbing his hands as one in deep study. This I imputed to the
sympathetic feelings of a tender heart, which increased my esteem for
him, and as that increased, I gave the most favourable interpretation
to his silence. I construed it into delicacy of sentiment, as if he
dreaded to wound my pride by expressing his commiseration in words,
leaving his generous conduct to speak for itself.

It now approached six o'clock in the evening; and as I had eaten no
breakfast, and as my spirits were raised, my appetite for dinner grew
uncommonly keen. At length the old woman came into the room with two
plates, one spoon, and a dirty cloth which she laid upon the table.
This appearance, without increasing my spirits, did not diminish my
appetite. My protectress soon returned with a small bowl of sago, a
small porringer of sour milk, a loaf of stale brown bread, and
the heel of an old cheese all over crawling with mites. My friend
apologized that his illness obliged him to live on slops, and that
better fare was not in the house; observing, at the same time, that
a milk diet was certainly the most healthful; and at eight o'clock he
again recommended a regular life, declaring that for his part he would
lie down with the lamb and rise with the lark. My hunger was at this
time so exceedingly sharp that I wished for another slice of the loaf,
but was obliged to go to bed without even that refreshment.

This lenten entertainment I had received made me resolve to depart as
soon as possible; accordingly, next morning, when I spoke of going,
he did not oppose my resolution; he rather commended my design, adding
some very sage counsel upon the occasion. 'To be sure,' said he, 'the
longer you stay away from your mother, the more you will grieve her
and your other friends; and possibly they are already afflicted at
hearing of this foolish expedition you have made.' Notwithstanding all
this, and without any hope of softening such a sordid heart, I again
renewed the tale of my distress, and asking 'how he thought I could
travel above a hundred miles upon one half-crown?' I begged to borrow
a single guinea, which I assured him should be repaid with thanks.
'And you know, sir,' said I, 'it is no more than I have often done for
you.' To which he firmly answered, 'Why, look you, Mr. Goldsmith, that
is neither here nor there. I have paid you all you ever lent me, and
this sickness of mine has left me bare of cash. But I have bethought
myself of a conveyance for you; sell your horse, and I will furnish
you with a much better one to ride on.' I readily grasped at his
proposal, and begged to see the nag; on which he led me to his
bedchamber, and from under the bed he pulled out a stout oak stick.
'Here he is,' said he; 'take this in your hand, and it will carry you
to your mother's with more safety than such a horse as you ride.' I
was in doubt, when I got it into my hand, whether I should not in the
first place apply it to his pate; but a rap at the street-door
made the wretch fly to it, and when I returned to the parlour,
he introduced me, as if nothing of the kind had happened, to the
gentleman who entered, as Mr. Goldsmith, his most ingenious and worthy
friend, of whom he had so often heard him speak with rapture. I could
scarcely compose myself; and must have betrayed indignation in my mien
to the stranger, who was a counsellor-at-law in the neighbourhood, a
man of engaging aspect and polite address.

After spending an hour, he asked my friend and me to dine with him at
his house. This I declined at first, as I wished to have no further
communication with my hospitable friend; but at the solicitation of
both I at last consented, determined as I was by two motives; one,
that I was prejudiced in favour of the looks and manner of the
counsellor; and the other, that I stood in need of a comfortable
dinner. And there, indeed, I found everything that I could wish,
abundance without profusion, and elegance without affectation. In the
evening, when my old friend, who had eaten very plentifully at his
neighbour's table, but talked again of lying down with the lamb, made
a motion to me for retiring, our generous host requested I should take
a bed with him, upon which I plainly told my old friend that he might
go home and take care of the horse he had given me, but that I should
never re-enter his doors. He went away with a laugh, leaving me to
add this to the other little things the counsellor already knew of his
plausible neighbour.

And now, my dear mother, I found sufficient to reconcile me to all
my follies; for here I spent three whole days. The counsellor had
two sweet girls to his daughters, who played enchantingly on the
harpsichord; and yet it was but a melancholy pleasure I felt the first
time I heard them: for that being the first time also that either of
them had touched the instrument since their mother's death, I saw
the tears in silence trickle down their father's cheeks. I every day
endeavoured to go away, but every day was pressed and obliged to stay.
On my going, the counsellor offered me his purse, with a horse and
servant to convey me home; but the latter I declined, and only took a
guinea to bear my necessary expenses on the road.


_In Scotland_

Edinburgh, 26 _Sept._ 1753


How many good excuses (and you know I was ever good at an excuse)
might I call up to vindicate my past shameful silence! I might tell
how I wrote a long letter on my first coming hither, and seem vastly
angry at my not receiving an answer; I might allege that business
(with business you know I was always pestered) had never given me
time to finger a pen--but I suppress those and twenty more equally
plausible, and as easily invented, since they might be attended with
a slight inconvenience of being known to be lies. Let me then speak
truth. An hereditary indolence (I have it from the mother's side) has
hitherto prevented my writing to you, and still prevents my writing
at least twenty-five letters more, due to my friends in Ireland. No
turnspit dog gets up into his wheel with more reluctance than I sit
down to write; yet no dog ever loved the roast meat he turns better
than I do him I now address. Yet what shall I say now I'm entered?
Shall I tire you with a description of this unfruitful country;
where I must lead you over their hills all brown with heath, or their
valleys scarce able to feed a rabbit? Man alone seems to be the only
creature who has arrived to the natural size in this poor soil. Every
part of the country presents the same dismal landscape. No grove, nor
brook, lend their music to cheer the stranger, or make the inhabitants
forget their poverty. Yet with all these disadvantages, enough to
call him down to humility, the Scotchman is one of the proudest things
alive. The poor have pride ever ready to relieve them. If mankind
should happen to despise them, they are masters of their own
admiration; and _that_ they can plentifully bestow upon themselves.

From their pride and poverty, as I take it, results one advantage this
country enjoys; namely, the gentlemen here are much better bred than
amongst us. No such characters here as our fox-hunters; and they have
expressed great surprise when I informed them that some men in Ireland
of one thousand pounds a-year spend their whole lives in running after
a hare, and drinking to be drunk; and truly, if such a being, equipped
in his hunting dress, came among a circle of Scotch gentry, they would
behold him with the same astonishment that a countryman would King
George on horseback.

The men here have generally high cheek-bones, and are lean and
swarthy, fond of action, dancing in particular. Though now I mention
dancing, let me say something of their balls, which are very frequent
here. When a stranger enters the dancing-hall, he sees one end of
the room taken up with the ladies, who sit dismally in a group by
themselves; on the other end stand their pensive partners that are to
be; but no more intercourse between the sexes than there is between
two countries at war. The ladies indeed may ogle, and the gentlemen
sigh; but an embargo is laid on any closer commerce. At length, to
interrupt hostilities, the lady directress, or intendant, or what you
will, pitches on a gentleman and lady to walk a minuet; which they
perform with a formality that approaches to despondence. After five
or six couple have thus walked the gauntlet, all stand up to country
dances; each gentleman furnished with a partner from the aforesaid
lady directress; so they dance much and say nothing, and thus
concludes our assembly. I told a Scotch gentleman that such profound
silence resembled the ancient procession of the Roman matrons in
honour of Ceres; and the Scotch gentleman told me (and, faith, I
believe he was right) that I was a very great pedant for my pains.

Now I am come to the ladies; and to show that I love Scotland, and
everything that belongs to so charming a country, I insist on it, and
will give him leave to break my head that denies it--that the Scotch
ladies are ten thousand times handsomer and finer than the Irish. To
be sure, now, I see your sisters Betty and Peggy vastly surprised at
my partiality, but tell them flatly, I don't value them, or their fine
skins, or eyes, or good sense, or--, a potato; for I say it, and will
maintain it, and as a convincing proof (I'm in a very great passion)
of what I assert, the Scotch ladies say it themselves. But to be less
serious; where will you find a language so pretty become a pretty
mouth as the broad Scotch? and the women here speak it in its highest
purity; for instance, teach one of their young ladies to pronounce
'Whoar wull I gong?' with a becoming wideness of mouth, and I'll lay
my life they will wound every hearer.

We have no such character here as a coquet, but alas! how many envious
prudes! Some days ago I walked into my Lord Kilcoubry's (don't be
surprised, my lord is but a glover), when the Duchess of Hamilton
(that fair who sacrificed her beauty to ambition, and her inward peace
to a title and gilt equipage) passed by in her chariot; her battered
husband, or more properly the guardian of her charms, sat by her side.
Straight envy began, in the shape of no less than three ladies who sat
with me, to find faults in her faultless form.--'For my part,' says
the first, 'I think what I always thought, that the Duchess has too
much red in her complexion.' 'Madam, I'm of your opinion,' says the
second; 'I think her face has a palish cast too much on the delicate
order.' 'And let me tell you,' adds the third lady, whose mouth was
puckered up to the size of an issue, 'that the Duchess has fine lips,
but she wants a mouth.'--At this every lady drew up her lips as if
going to pronounce the letter P.

But how ill, my Bob, does it become me to ridicule women with whom
I have scarce any correspondence! There are, 'tis certain, handsome
women here; and 'tis as certain there are handsome men to keep them
company. An ugly and a poor man is society for himself; and such
society the world lets me enjoy in great abundance. Fortune has given
you circumstances, and nature a person to look charming in the eyes of
the fair world. Nor do I envy my dear Bob such blessings, while I may
sit down and laugh at the world and at myself, the most ridiculous
object in it. But I begin to grow splenetic, and perhaps the fit may
continue till I receive an answer to this. I know you can't send news
from Ballymahon, but such as it is, send it all; everything you write
will be agreeable and entertaining to me.

Has George Conway put up a sign yet; or John Finecly left off drinking
drams; or Tom Allen got a new wig? But I leave to your own choice what
to write. While Oliver Goldsmith lives, know you have a friend.

PS.--Give my sincere respects (not compliments, do you mind) to your
agreeable family, and give my service to my mother, if you see her;
for, as you express it in Ireland, I have a sneaking kindness for her

Direct to me,--Student in Physic, in Edinburgh.


_In Holland_,

Leyden, _April_ or _May, 1754_.


I suppose by this time I am accused of either neglect or ingratitude,
and my silence imputed to my usual slowness of writing. But believe
me, Sir, when I say, that till now I had not an opportunity of sitting
down with that ease of mind which writing required. You may see by the
top of the letter that I am at Leyden; but of my journey hither you
must be informed. Some time after the receipt of your last, I embarked
for Bordeaux, on board a Scotch ship called the _St. Andrews_, Capt.
John Wall, master. The ship made a tolerable appearance, and as
another inducement, I was let to know that six agreeable passengers
were to be my company. Well, we were but two days at sea when a storm
drove us into a city of England called Newcastle-upon-Tyne. We all
went ashore to refresh us after the fatigue of our voyage. Seven men
and I were one day on shore, and on the following evening as we were
all very merry, the room door bursts open, enters a sergeant and
twelve grenadiers with their bayonets screwed, and puts us all under
the King's arrest. It seems my company were Scotchmen in the French
service, and had been in Scotland to enlist soldiers for the French
army. I endeavoured all I could to prove my innocence; however, I
remained in prison with the rest a fortnight, and with difficulty got
off even then. Dear Sir, keep this all a secret, or at least say it
was for debt; for if it were once known at the University, I should
hardly get a degree. But hear how Providence interposed in my favour;
the ship was gone on to Bordeaux before I got from prison, and was
wrecked at the mouth of the Garonne, and every one of the crew were
drowned. It happened the last great storm. There was a ship at that
time ready for Holland. I embarked, and in nine days, thank my God, I
arrived safe at Rotterdam; whence I travelled by land to Leyden; and
whence I now write.

You may expect some account of this country, and though I am not well
qualified for such an undertaking, yet shall I endeavour to satisfy
some part of your expectations. Nothing surprised me more than the
books every day published, descriptive of the manners of this country.
Any young man who takes it into his head to publish his travels,
visits the countries he intends to describe; passes through them with
as much inattention as his _valet de chambre_; and consequently not
having a fund himself to fill a volume, he applies to those who wrote
before him, and gives us the manners of a country, not as he must have
seen them, but such as they might have been fifty years before. The
modern Dutchman is quite a different creature from him of former
times; he in everything imitates a Frenchman but in his easy
disengaged air, which is the result of keeping polite company.
The Dutchman is vastly ceremonious, and is perhaps exactly what a
Frenchman might have been in the reign of Louis XIV. Such are the
better-bred. But the downright Hollander is one of the oddest figures
in nature. Upon a head of lank hair he wears a half-cocked narrow hat
laced with black ribbon: no coat, but seven waistcoats, and nine pairs
of breeches; so that his hips reach almost up to his armpits. This
well-clothed vegetable is now fit to see company, or make love. But
what a pleasing creature is the object of his appetite? Why, she
wears a large fur cap with a deal of Flanders lace: for every pair of
breeches he carries, she puts on two petticoats.

A Dutch lady burns nothing about her phlegmatic admirer but his
tobacco. You must know, Sir, every woman carries in her hand a
stove with coals in it, which, when she sits, she snugs under her
petticoats; and at this chimney dozing Strephon lights his pipe. I
take it that this continual smoking is what gives the man the ruddy
healthful complexion he generally wears, by draining his superfluous
moisture, while the woman, deprived of this amusement, overflows with
such viscidities as tint the complexion, and give that paleness of
visage which low fenny grounds and moist air conspire to cause. A
Dutch woman and Scotch will well bear an opposition.

The one is pale and fat, the other lean and ruddy: the one walks as if
she were straddling after a go-cart, and the other takes too masculine
a stride. I shall not endeavour to deprive either country of its share
of beauty; but must say, that of all objects on this earth, an English
farmer's daughter is most charming. Every woman there is a complete
beauty, while the higher class of women want many of the requisites to
make them even tolerable. Their pleasures here are very dull, though
very various. You may smoke, you may doze; you may go to the
Italian comedy, as good an amusement as either of the former. This
entertainment always brings in Harlequin, who is generally a magician,
and in consequence of his diabolical art performs a thousand tricks on
the rest of the persons of the drama, who are all fools. I have seen
the pit in a roar of laughter at this humour, when with his sword he
touches the glass from which another was drinking. 'Twas not his face
they laughed at, for that was masked. They must have seen something
vastly queer in the wooden sword, that neither I, nor you, Sir, were
you there, could see.

In winter, when their canals are frozen, every house is forsaken, and
all people are on the ice; sleds, drawn by horses, and skating, are at
that time the reigning amusements. They have boats here that slide
on the ice, and are driven by the winds. When they spread all their
sails, they go more than a mile and a half a minute, and their motion
is so rapid the eye can scarcely accompany them. Their ordinary manner
of travelling is very cheap and very convenient: they sail in covered
boats drawn by horses; and in these you are sure to meet people of all
nations. Here the Dutch slumber, the French chatter, and the English
play at cards. Any man who likes company may have them to his taste.
For my part I generally detached myself from all society, and was
wholly taken up in observing the face of the country. Nothing can
equal its beauty; wherever I turn my eye, fine houses, elegant
gardens, statues, grottos, vistas, presented themselves; but when you
enter their towns you are charmed beyond description. No misery is to
be seen here; every one is usefully employed.

Scotland and this country bear the highest contrast. There hills and
rocks intercept every prospect; here 'tis all a continued plain. There
you might see a well-dressed duchess issuing from a dirty close; and
here a dirty Dutchman inhabiting a palace. The Scotch may be compared
to a tulip planted in dung; but I never see a Dutchman in his own
house, but I think of a magnificent Egyptian temple dedicated to an
ox. Physic is by no means here taught so well as in Edinburgh; and
in all Leyden there are but four British students, owing to all
necessaries being so extremely dear, and the professors so very lazy
(the chemical professor excepted), that we don't much care to come
hither. I am not certain how long my stay here may be; however, I
expect to have the happiness of seeing you at Kilmore, if I can, next

Direct to me, if I am honoured with a letter from you, to Madam
Diallion's at Leyden.

Thou best of men, may Heaven guard and preserve you, and those you


_Family matters_


... Imagine to yourself a pale, melancholy visage, with two great
wrinkles between the eyebrows, with an eye disgustingly severe, and a
big wig; and you may have a perfect picture of my present appearance.
On the other hand, I conceive you as perfectly sleek and healthy,
passing many a happy day among your own children, or those who knew
you a child.

Since I knew what it was to be a man, this is a pleasure I have not
known. I have passed my days among a parcel of cool, designing beings,
and have contracted all their suspicious manner in my own behaviour. I
should actually be as unfit for the society of my friends at home, as
I detest that which I am obliged to partake of here. I can now neither
partake of the pleasure of a revel, nor contribute to raise its
jollity. I can neither laugh nor drink; have contracted a hesitating,
disagreeable manner of speaking, and a visage that looks ill-nature
itself; in short, I have thought myself into a settled melancholy, and
an utter disgust of all that life brings with it. Whence this romantic
turn that all our family are possessed with? Whence this love for
every place and every country but that in which we reside--for every
occupation but our own? this desire of fortune, and yet this eagerness
to dissipate? I perceive, my dear sir, that I am at intervals
for indulging this splenetic manner, and following my own taste,
regardless of yours.

The reasons you have given me for breeding up your son as a scholar
are judicious and convincing; I should, however, be glad to know for
what particular profession he is designed. If he be assiduous and
divested of strong passions (for passions in youth always lead to
pleasure), he may do very well in your college; for it must be owned
that the industrious poor have good encouragement there, perhaps
better than in any other in Europe. But if he has ambition, strong
passions, and an exquisite sensibility of contempt, do not send him
there, unless you have no other trade for him except your own. It is
impossible to conceive how much may be done by a proper education
at home. A boy, for instance, who understands perfectly well Latin,
French, Arithmetic, and the principles of the Civil Law, and can
write a fine hand, has an education that may qualify him for any
undertaking; and these parts of learning should be better inculcated,
let him be designed for whatever calling he will.

Above all things let him never touch a romance or novel; these paint
beauty in colours more charming than nature, and describe happiness
that man never tastes. How delusive, how destructive are those
pictures of consummate bliss! They teach the youthful mind to sigh
after beauty and happiness that never existed; to despise the little
good which fortune has mixed in our cup, by expecting more than she
ever gave; and, in general, take the word of a man who has seen
the world and who has studied human nature more by experience than
precept; take my word for it, that books teach us very little of the
world. The greatest merit in a state of poverty would only serve to
make the possessor ridiculous--may distress, but cannot relieve him.
Frugality, and even avarice, in the lower orders of mankind, are
true ambition. These afford the only ladder for the poor to rise to
preferment. Teach then, my dear sir, to your son thrift and economy.
Let his poor wandering uncle's example be placed before his eyes. I
had learned from books to be disinterested and generous, before I
was taught from experience the necessity of being prudent. I had
contracted the habits and notions of a philosopher, while I was
exposing myself to the insidious approaches of cunning: and often by
being, even with my narrow finances, charitable to excess, I forgot
the rules of justice, and placed myself in the very situation of the
wretch who thanked me for my bounty. When I am in the remotest part of
the world, tell him this, and perhaps he may improve from my example.
But I find myself again falling into my gloomy habits of thinking.

My mother, I am informed, is almost blind; even though I had the
utmost inclination to return home, under such circumstances I could
not, for to behold her in distress without a capacity of relieving her
from it, would add much too to my splenetic habit. Your last letter
was much too short; it should have answered some queries I had made
in my former. Just sit down as I do, and write forward until you have
filled all your paper. It requires no thought, at least from the ease
with which my own sentiments rise when they are addressed to you. For,
believe me, my head has no share in all I write; my heart dictates the
whole. Pray give my love to Bob Bryanton, and entreat him from me not
to drink. My dear sir, give me some account about poor Jenny. Yet her
husband loves her: if so, she cannot be unhappy.

I know not whether I should tell you--yet why should I conceal those
trifles, or indeed anything from you? There is a book of mine will be
published in a few days: the life of a very extraordinary man; no less
than the great Voltaire. You know already by the title that it is no
more than a catch-penny. However, I spent but four weeks on the whole
performance, for which I received twenty pounds. When published, I
shall take some method of conveying it to you, unless you may think
it dear of the postage, which may amount to four or five shillings.
However, I fear you will not find an equivalent of amusement.

Your last letter, I repeat it, was too short; you should have given me
your opinion of the design of the heroi-comical poem which I sent you.
You remember I intended to introduce the hero of the poem as lying in
a paltry ale-house. You may take the following specimen of the manner,
which I flatter myself is quite original. The room in which he lies
may be described somewhat this way:

  The window, patched with paper, lent a ray
  That feebly show'd the state in which he lay;
  The sandy floor that grits beneath the tread,
  The humid wall with paltry pictures spread;
  The game of goose was there exposed to view,
  And the twelve rules the royal martyr drew;
  The Seasons, framed with listing, found a place,
  And Prussia's monarch show'd his lamp-black face.
  The morn was cold: he views with keen desire
  A rusty grate, unconscious of a fire;
  An unpaid reckoning on the frieze was scored,
  And five crack'd teacups dress'd the chimney board.

And now imagine after his soliloquy, the landlord to make his
appearance in order to dun him for the reckoning:

  Not with that face, so servile and so gay,
  That welcomes every stranger that can pay:
  With sulky eye he smoked the patient man,
  Then pull'd his breeches tight, and thus began, &c.

All this is taken, you see, from nature. It is a good remark of
Montaigne's, that the wisest men often have friends with whom they
do not care how much they play the fool. Take my present follies
as instances of regard. Poetry is a much easier and more agreeable
species of composition than prose; and, could a man live by it, it
were not unpleasant employment to be a poet. I am resolved to leave no
space, though I should fill it up only by telling you, what you very
well know already, I mean that I am

Your most affectionate friend and brother.




_Escapade of Puss_

21 Aug. 1780.

The following occurrence ought not to be passed over in silence, in
a place where so few notable ones are to be met with. Last Wednesday
night, while we were at supper, between the hours of eight and nine, I
heard an unusual noise in the back parlour, as if one of the hares was
entangled, and endeavouring to disengage herself. I was just going to
rise from table, when it ceased. In about five minutes, a voice on the
outside of the parlour door inquired if one of my hares had got
away. I immediately rushed into the next room, and found that my
poor favourite Puss had made her escape. She had gnawed in sunder the
strings of a lattice work, with which I thought I had sufficiently
secured the window, and which I preferred to any other sort of blind,
because it admitted plenty of air. From thence I hastened to the
kitchen, where I saw the redoubtable Thomas Freeman, who told me,
that having seen her, just after she had dropped into the street, he
attempted to cover her with his hat, but she screamed out, and leaped
directly over his head. I then desired him to pursue as fast as
possible, and added Richard Coleman to the chase, as being nimbler,
and carrying less weight than Thomas; not expecting to see her again,
but desirous to learn, if possible, what became of her. In something
less than an hour, Richard returned, almost breathless, with the
following account. That soon after he began to run, he left Tom
behind him, and came in sight of a most numerous hunt of men, women,
children, and dogs; that he did his best to keep back the dogs, and
presently outstripped the crowd, so that the race was at last disputed
between himself and Puss;--she ran right through the town, and down
the lane that leads to Dropshort; a little before she came to the
house, he got the start and turned her; she pushed for the town
again, and soon after she entered it, sought shelter in Mr. Wagstaff's
tanyard, adjoining to old Mr. Drake's. Sturges's harvest men were
at supper, and saw her from the opposite side of the way. There she
encountered the tanpits full of water; and while she was struggling
out of one pit, and plunging into another, and almost drowned, one of
the men drew her out by the ears, and secured her. She was then well
washed in a bucket to get the lime out of her coat, and brought home
in a sack at ten o'clock.

This frolic cost us four shillings, but you may believe we did not
grudge a farthing of it. The poor creature received only a little hurt
in one of her claws, and in one of her ears, and is now almost as well
as ever.

I do not call this an answer to your letter, but such as it is I send
it, presuming upon that interest which I know you take in my minutest
concerns, which I cannot express better than in the words of Terence a
little varied--_Nihil mei a te alienum putas._


_A laugh that hurts nobody_

_18 Nov. 1782._


... I little thought when I was writing the history of John Gilpin,
that he would appear in print--I intended to laugh, and to make two
or three others laugh, of whom you were one. But now all the world
laughs, at least if they have the same relish for a tale ridiculous in
itself, and quaintly told, as we have.--Well--they do not always laugh
so innocently, or at so small an expense--for in a world like this,
abounding with subjects for satire, and with satirical wits to mark
them, a laugh that hurts nobody has at least the grace of novelty to
recommend it. Swift's darling motto was, _Vive la bagatelle_--a good
wish for a philosopher of his complexion, the greater part of whose
wisdom, whencesoever it came, most certainly came not from above. _La
bagatelle_ has no enemy in me, though it has neither so warm a friend,
nor so able a one, as it had in him. If I trifle, and merely trifle,
it is because I am reduced to it by necessity--a melancholy, that
nothing else so effectually disperses, engages me sometimes in the
arduous task of being merry by force. And, strange as it may seem,
the most ludicrous lines I ever wrote have been written in the saddest
mood, and, but for that saddest mood, perhaps had never been written
at all. To say truth, it would be but a shocking vagary, should
the mariners on board a ship buffeted by a terrible storm, employ
themselves in fiddling and dancing; yet sometimes much such a part act


_Village politicians_

_26 Jan. 1783._


It is reported among persons of the best intelligence at Olney--the
barber, the schoolmaster, and the drummer of a corps quartered at
this place,--that the belligerent powers are at last reconciled, the
articles of the treaty adjusted, and that peace is at the door. I saw
this morning, at nine o'clock, a group of about twelve figures very
closely engaged in a conference, as I suppose, upon the same subject.
The scene of consultation was a blacksmith's shed, very comfortably
screened from the wind, and directly opposed to the morning sun. Some
held their hands behind them, some had them folded across their bosom,
and others had thrust them into their breeches pockets. Every man's
posture bespoke a pacific turn of mind; but the distance being too
great for their words to reach me, nothing transpired. I am willing,
however, to hope that the secret will not be a secret long, and that
you and I, equally interested in the event, though not, perhaps,
equally well-informed, shall soon have an opportunity to rejoice in
the completion of it. The powers of Europe have clashed with each
other to a fine purpose; that the Americans, at length declared
independent, may keep themselves so, if they can; and that what the
parties, who have thought proper to dispute upon that point, have
wrested from each other in the course of the conflict, may be, in the
issue of it, restored to the proper owner. Nations may be guilty of
a conduct that would render an individual infamous for ever; and
yet carry their heads high, talk of their glory, and despise their
neighbours. Your opinions and mine, I mean our political ones, are
not exactly of a piece, yet I cannot think otherwise upon this subject
than I have always done. England, more, perhaps, through the fault of
her generals, than her councils, has in some instances acted with a
spirit of cruel animosity she was never chargeable with till now. But
this is the worst that can be said. On the other hand, the Americans,
who, if they had contented themselves with a struggle for lawful
liberty, would have deserved applause, seem to me to have incurred
the guilt of parricide, by renouncing their parent, by making her ruin
their favourite object, and by associating themselves with her worst
enemy, for the accomplishment of their purpose. France, and of course
Spain, have acted a treacherous, a thievish part. They have stolen
America from England, and whether they are able to possess themselves
of that jewel or not hereafter, it was doubtless what they intended.
Holland appears to me in a meaner light than any of them. They
quarrelled with a friend for an enemy's sake. The French led them
by the nose, and the English have threshed them for suffering it.
My views of the contest being, and having been always such, I have
consequently brighter hopes for England than her situation some time
since seemed to justify. She is the only injured party. America may,
perhaps, call her the aggressor; but if she were so, America has
not only repelled the injury, but done a greater. As to the rest, if
perfidy, treachery, avarice, and ambition can prove their cause to
have been a rotten one, those proofs are found upon them. I think,
therefore, that whatever scourge may be prepared for England, on some
future day, her ruin is not yet to be expected. Acknowledge, now, that
I am worthy of a place under the shed I described, and that I should
make no small figure among the _quidnuncs_ of Olney....


_Village justice_

17 _Nov_. 1783.


... The country around us is much alarmed with apprehensions of fire.
Two have happened since that of Olney. One at Hitchin, where the
damage is said to amount to eleven thousand pounds, and another, at
a place not far from Hitchin, of which I have not learnt the name.
Letters have been dropped at Bedford, threatening to burn the town;
and the inhabitants have been so intimidated, as to have placed a
guard in many parts of it, several nights past. Some madman or some
devil has broke loose, who it is to be hoped will pay dear for these
effusions of his malignity. Since our conflagration here, we have sent
two women and a boy to the justice, for depredation; Sue Riviss, for
stealing a piece of beef, which, in her excuse, she said she intended
to take care of. This lady, whom you will remember, escaped for want
of evidence; not that evidence was indeed wanting, but our men of
Gotham judged it unnecessary to send it. With her went the woman I
mentioned before, who, it seems, has made some sort of profession,
but upon this occasion allowed herself a latitude of conduct rather
inconsistent with it, having filled her apron with wearing apparel,
which she likewise intended to take care of. She would have gone to
the county gaol, had Billy Raban, the baker's son, who prosecuted,
insisted on it, but he good-naturedly, though I think weakly,
interposed in her favour, and begged her off. The young gentleman who
accompanied these fair ones is the junior son of Molly Boswell. He
had stolen some iron-work, the property of Griggs, the butcher. Being
convicted, he was ordered to be whipt, which operation he underwent
at the cart's tail, from the stone-house to the high arch, and back
again. He seemed to show great fortitude, but it was all an imposition
upon the public. The beadle, who performed, had filled his left hand
with red ochre, through which, after every stroke, he drew the lash
of his whip, leaving the appearance of a wound upon the skin, but in
reality not hurting him at all. This being perceived by Mr. Constable
Hinschcomb, who followed the beadle, he applied his cane, without any
such management or precaution, to the shoulders of the too merciful
executioner. The scene immediately became more interesting. The beadle
could by no means be prevailed upon to strike hard, which provoked the
constable to still harder; and this double flogging continued, till a
lass of Silverend, pitying the pitiful beadle thus suffering under the
hands of the pitiless constable, joined the procession, and placing
herself immediately behind the latter, seized him by his capillary
club, and pulling him backwards by the same, slapt his face with a
most Amazonian fury. This concatenation of events has taken up more of
my paper than I intended it should, but I could not forbear to inform
you how the beadle thrashed the thief, the constable the beadle,
and the lady the constable, and how the thief was the only one who
suffered nothing. Mr. Teedon has been here, and is gone again. He came
to thank me for an old pair of breeches. In answer to our inquiries
after his health, he replied that he had a slow fever, which made
him take all possible care not to inflame his blood. I admitted
his prudence, but in his particular instance could not very clearly
discern the need of it. Pump water will not heat him much; and, to
speak a little in his own style, more inebriating fluids are to him,
I fancy, not very attainable. He brought us news, the truth of which,
however, I do not vouch for, that the town of Bedford was actually on
fire yesterday, and the flames not extinguished when the bearer of the
tidings left it.

Swift observes, when he is giving his reasons why the preacher is
elevated always above his hearers, that let the crowd be as great as
it will below, there is always room enough overhead. If the French
philosophers can carry their art of flying to the perfection they
desire, the observation may be reversed, the crowd will be overhead,
and they will have most room who stay below. I can assure you,
however, upon my own experience, that this way of travelling is
very delightful. I dreamt, a night or two since, that I drove myself
through the upper regions in a balloon and pair, with the greatest
ease and security. Having finished the tour I intended, I made a short
turn, and, with one flourish of my whip, descended; my horses prancing
and curvetting with an infinite share of spirit, but without the least
danger, either to me or my vehicle. The time, we may suppose, is at
hand, and seems to be prognosticated by my dream, when these airy
excursions will be universal, when judges will fly the circuit,
and bishops their visitations; and when the tour of Europe will be
performed with much greater speed, and with equal advantage, by all
who travel merely for the sake of having it to say that they have made

I beg that you will accept for yourself and yours our unfeigned love,
and remember me affectionately to Mr. Bacon, when you see him.


_A candidate's visit_

29 _March_, 1784.


It being his majesty's pleasure that I should yet have another
opportunity to write before he dissolves the parliament, I avail
myself of it with all possible alacrity. I thank you for your last,
which was not the less welcome for coming, like an extraordinary
gazette, at a time when it was not expected.

As when the sea is uncommonly agitated, the water finds its way into
creeks and holes of rocks, which in its calmer state it never reaches,
in like manner the effect of these turbulent times is felt even at
Orchard-side, where in general we live as undisturbed by the political
element, as shrimps or cockles that have been accidentally deposited
in some hollow beyond the water mark, by the usual dashing of the
waves. We were sitting yesterday after dinner, the two ladies and
myself, very composedly, and without the least apprehension of any
such intrusion in our snug parlour, one lady knitting, the other
netting, and the gentleman winding worsted, when to our unspeakable
surprise a mob appeared before the window; a smart rap was heard at
the door, the boys halloo'd, and the maid announced Mr. Grenville.
Puss was unfortunately let out of her box, so that the candidate, with
all his good friends at his heels, was refused admittance at the grand
entry, and referred to the back door, as the only possible way of
approach. Candidates are creatures not very susceptible of affronts,
and would rather, I suppose, climb in at a window, than be absolutely
excluded. In a minute, the yard, the kitchen, and the parlour, were
filled. Mr. Grenville, advancing toward me, shook me by the hand with
a degree of cordiality that was extremely seducing. As soon as he and
as many more as could find chairs, were seated, he began to open the
intent of his visit. I told him I had no vote, for which he readily
gave me credit. I assured him I had no influence, which he was not
equally inclined to believe, and the less, no doubt, because Mr.
Ashburner, the draper, addressing himself to me at this moment,
informed me that I had a great deal. Supposing that I could not be
possessed of such a treasure without knowing it, I ventured to confirm
my first assertion, by saying, that if I had any I was utterly at a
loss to imagine where it could be, or wherein it consisted. Thus ended
the conference. Mr. Grenville squeezed me by the hand again, kissed
the ladies, and withdrew. He kissed likewise the maid in the kitchen,
and seemed upon the whole a most loving, kissing, kind-hearted
gentlemen. He has a pair of very good eyes in his head, which not
being sufficient as it should seem for the many nice and difficult
purposes of a senator, he has a third also, which he wore suspended by
a riband from his buttonhole. The boys halloo'd, the dogs barked,
Puss scampered, the hero, with his long train of obsequious followers,
withdrew. We made ourselves very merry with the adventure, and in a
short time settled into our former tranquillity, never probably to be
thus interrupted more. I thought myself, however, happy in being able
to affirm truly that I had not that influence for which he sued;
and which, had I been possessed of it, with my present views of the
dispute between the Crown and the Commons, I must have refused him,
for he is on the side of the former. It is comfortable to be of
no consequence in a world where one cannot exercise any without
disobliging somebody. The town, however, seems to be much at his
service, and if he be equally successful throughout the country, he
will undoubtedly gain his election. Mr. Ashburner perhaps was a little
mortified, because it was evident that I owed the honour of this visit
to his misrepresentation of my importance. But had he thought proper
to assure Mr. Grenville that I had three heads, I should not I suppose
have been bound to produce them....


_An acquaintance reopened_

Olney, 9 _Nov_. 1785.


Whose last most affectionate letter has run in my head ever since I
received it, and which I now sit down to answer two days sooner than
the post will serve me; I thank you for it, and with a warmth for
which I am sure you will give me credit, though I do not spend
many words in describing it. I do not seek _new_ friends, not being
altogether sure that I should find them, but have unspeakable
pleasure in being still beloved by an old one. I hope that now our
correspondence has suffered its last interruption, and that we shall
go down together to the grave, chatting and chirping as merrily as
such a scene of things as this will permit.

I am happy that my poems have pleased you. My volume has afforded me
no such pleasure at any time, either while I was writing it, or since
its publication, as I have derived from yours and my uncle's opinion
of it. I make certain allowances for partiality, and for that peculiar
quickness of taste, with which you both relish what you like, and
after all drawbacks upon those accounts duly made, find myself rich in
the measure of your approbation that still remains. But above all,
I honour _John Gilpin_, since it was he who first encouraged you to
write. I made him on purpose to laugh at, and he served his purpose
well; but I am now in debt to him for a more valuable acquisition
than all the laughter in the world amounts to, the recovery of my
intercourse with you, which is to me inestimable. My benevolent and
generous Cousin, when I was once asked if I wanted anything, and given
delicately to understand that the inquirer was ready to supply all
my occasions, I thankfully and civilly, but positively, declined the
favour. I neither suffer, nor have suffered, any such inconveniences
as I had not much rather endure than come under obligations of that
sort to a person comparatively with yourself a stranger to me. But to
you I answer otherwise. I know you thoroughly, and the liberality of
your disposition, and have that consummate confidence in the
sincerity of your wish to serve me, that delivers me from all awkward
constraint, and from all fear of trespassing by acceptance. To you,
therefore, I reply, yes. Whensoever, and whatsoever, and in what
manner-soever you please; and add moreover, that my affection for the
giver is such as will increase to me tenfold the satisfaction that I
shall have in receiving. It is necessary, however, that I should let
you a little into the state of my finances, that you may not suppose
them more narrowly circumscribed than they are. Since Mrs. Unwin and
I have lived at Olney, we have had but one purse, although during the
whole of that time, till lately, her income was nearly double mine.
Her revenues indeed are now in some measure reduced, and do not much
exceed my own; the worst consequence of this is, that we are forced to
deny ourselves some things which hitherto we have been better able to
afford, but they are such things as neither life, nor the well-being
of life, depend upon. My own income has been better than it is,
but when it was best, it would not have enabled me to live as my
connexions demanded that I should, had it not been combined with a
better than itself, at least at this end of the kingdom. Of this I had
full proof during three months that I spent in lodgings at Huntingdon,
in which time by the help of good management, and a clear notion of
economical matters, I contrived to spend the income of a twelvemonth.
Now, my beloved Cousin, you are in possession of the whole case as it
stands. Strain no points to your own inconvenience or hurt, for there
is no need of it, but indulge yourself in communicating (no matter
what) that you can spare without missing it, since by so doing you
will be sure to add to the comforts of my life one of the sweetest
that I can enjoy--a token and proof of your affection.

I cannot believe but that I should know you, notwithstanding all that
time may have done: there is not a feature of your face, could I meet
it upon the road, by itself, that I should not instantly recollect.
I should say that is my Cousin's nose, or those are her lips and her
chin, and no woman upon earth can claim them but herself. As for me, I
am a very smart youth of my years; I am not indeed grown grey so much
as I am grown bald. No matter: there was more hair in the world than
ever had the honour to belong to me; accordingly having found just
enough to curl a little at my ears, and to intermix with a little
of my own that still hangs behind, I appear, if you see me in an
afternoon, to have a very decent head-dress, not easily distinguished
from my natural growth, which being worn with a small bag, and a black
riband about my neck, continues to me the charms of my youth, even on
the verge of age. Away with the fear of writing too often!

PS. That the view I give you of myself may be complete, I add the two
following items--That I am in debt to nobody, and that I grow fat.


_The kindliness of thanks_

30 _Nov_. 1785.

My dearest cousin,

Your kindness reduces me to a necessity (a pleasant one, indeed), of
writing all my letters in the same terms: always thanks, thanks at
the beginning, and thanks at the end. It is however, I say, a pleasant
employment when those thanks are indeed the language of the heart: and
I can truly add, that there is no person on earth whom I thank with
so much affection as yourself. You insisted that I should give you my
genuine opinion of the wine. By the way, it arrived without the least
damage or fracture, and I finished the first bottle of it this very
day. It is excellent, and though the wine which I had been used to
drink was not bad, far preferable to that. The bottles will be in town
on Saturday. I am enamoured of the desk and its contents before I see
them. They will be most entirely welcome. A few years since I made
Mrs. Unwin a present of a snuff-box--a silver one; the purchase was
made in London by a friend; it is of a size and form that make it
more fit for masculine than feminine use. She therefore with pleasure
accepts the box which you have sent--I should say with the greatest
pleasure. And I, discarding the leathern trunk that I have used so
long, shall succeed to the possession of hers. She says, Tell Lady
Hesketh that I truly love and honour her. Now, my Cousin, you may
depend upon it, as a most certain truth, that these words from her
lips are not an empty sound. I never in my life heard her profess a
regard for any one that she felt not. She is not addicted to the use
of such language upon ordinary occasions; but when she speaks it,
speaks from the heart. She has baited me this many a day, even as a
bear is baited, to send for Dr. Kerr. But, as I hinted to you upon
a former occasion, I am as mulish as most men are, and have hitherto
most ungallantly refused; but what is to be done now?--If it were
uncivil not to comply with the solicitations of one lady, to be
unmoved by the solicitations of two would prove me to be a bear
indeed. I will, therefore, summon him to consideration of said
stomach, and its ailments, without delay, and you shall know the
result.--I have read Goldsmith's _Traveller_ and his _Deserted
Village_, and am highly pleased with them both, as well for the manner
in which they are executed, as for their tendency, and the lessons
that they inculcate.

Mrs. Unwin said to me a few nights since, after supper, 'I have two
fine fowls in feeding, and just fit for use; I wonder whether I should
send them to Lady Hesketh?' I replied, Yes, by all means! and I will
tell you a story that will at once convince you of the propriety of
doing so. My brother was curate on a time to Mr. Fawkes, of Orpington,
in Kent: it was when I lived in the Temple. One morning, as I was
reading by the fireside, I heard a prodigious lumbering at the door. I
opened it, and beheld a most rural figure, with very dirty boots, and
a great coat as dirty. Supposing that my great fame as a barrister had
drawn upon me a client from some remote region, I desired him to walk
in. He did so, and introduced himself to my acquaintance by telling me
that he was the farmer with whom my brother lodged at Orpington.
After this preliminary information he unbuttoned his great coat, and I
observed a quantity of long feathers projected from an inside pocket.
He thrust in his hand, and with great difficulty extricated a great
fat capon. He then proceeded to lighten the other side of him, by
dragging out just such another, and begged my acceptance of both.
I sent them to a tavern, where they were dressed, and I with two or
three friends, whom I invited to the feast, found them incomparably
better than any fowls we had ever tasted from the London co-ops. Now,
said I to Mrs. Unwin, it is likely that the fowls at Olney may be as
good as the fowls at Orpington, therefore send them; for it is not
possible to make so good a use of them in any other way ... Adieu, my
faithful, kind, and consolatory friend!


_Arrival of the desk_

7 _Dec_. 1785.

My dear cousin,

At this time last night I was writing to you, and now I am writing to
you again ... My dear, you say not a word about the desk in your last,
which I received this morning. I infer from your silence that you
supposed it either at Olney or on its way thither, and that you
expected nothing so much as that my next would inform you of its safe
arrival;--therefore, where can it possibly be? I am not absolutely in
despair about it, for the reasons that I mentioned last night; but to
say the truth, I stand tottering upon the verge of it. I write, and
have written these many years, upon a book of maps, which I now begin
to find too low and too flat, though till I expected a better desk,
I found no fault with _them_. See and observe how true it is, that
by increasing the number of our conveniences, we multiply our wants
exactly in the same proportion! neither can I at all doubt that if you
were to tell me that all the men in London of any fashion at all, wore
black velvet shoes with white roses, and should also tell me that you
would send me such, I should dance with impatience till they arrived.
Not because I care one farthing of what materials my shoes are made,
but because any shoes of your sending would interest me from head to

_Thursday Evening_.

Oh that this letter had wings, that it might fly to tell you that my
desk, the most elegant, the compactest, the most commodious desk in
the world, and of all the desks that ever were or ever shall be,
the desk that I love the most, is safe arrived. Nay, my dear, it was
actually at Sherrington, when the wagoner's wife (for the man himself
was not at home) croaked out her abominable _No_! yet she examined the
bill of lading, but either did it so carelessly, or as poor Dick Madan
used to say, with such an _ignorant eye_, that my name escaped her. My
precious Cousin, you have bestowed too much upon me. I have nothing
to render you in return, but the affectionate feelings of a heart most
truly sensible of your kindness. How pleasant it is to write upon such
a green bank! I am sorry that I have so nearly reached the end of
my paper. I have now however only room to say that Mrs. Unwin is
delighted with her box, and bids me do more than thank you for
it. What can I do more at this distance but say that she loves you
heartily, and that so do I? The pocket-book is also the completest
that I ever saw, and the watch-chain the most brilliant.

Adieu for a little while. Now for Homer.

N.B.--I generally write the day before the post sets out, which is
the thing that puzzles you. I do it that I may secure time for the
purpose, and may not be hurried. On this very day twenty-two years ago
I left London.


_Anticipations of a visit_

Olney, 9 _Feb_. 1786.


I have been impatient to tell you that I am impatient to see you
again. Mrs. Unwin partakes with me in all my feelings upon this
subject, and longs also to see you. I should have told you so by the
last post, but have been so completely occupied by this tormenting
specimen, that it was impossible to do it. I sent the General a letter
on Monday that should distress and alarm him; I sent him another
yesterday, that will, I hope, quiet him again. Johnson has apologized
very civilly for the multitude of his friend's strictures; and his
friend has promised to confine himself in future to a comparison of
me with the original, so that, I doubt not, we shall jog on merrily
together. And now, my dear, let me tell you once more, that your
kindness in promising us a visit has charmed us both! I shall see you
again. I shall hear your voice. We shall take walks together. I will
show you my prospects, the hovel, the alcove, the Ouse and its banks,
everything that I have described. I anticipate the pleasure of those
days not very far distant, and feel a part of it at this moment. Talk
not of an inn! Mention it not for your life! We have never had so many
visitors, but we could easily accommodate them all, though we have
received Unwin, and his wife, and his sister, and his son all at once.
My dear, I will not let you come till the end of May, or beginning
of June, because before that time my greenhouse will not be ready to
receive us, and it is the only pleasant room belonging to us. When
the plants go out, we go in. I line it with mats, and spread the floor
with mats; and there you shall sit with a bed of mignonette at your
side, and a hedge of honeysuckles, roses, and jasmine; and I will make
you a bouquet of myrtle every day. Sooner than the time I mention the
country will not be in complete beauty.

And I will tell you what you shall find at your first entrance.
Imprimis, as soon as you have entered the vestibule, if you cast a
look on either side of you, you shall see on the right hand a box of
my making. It is the box in which have been lodged all my hares, and
in which lodges Puss at present; but he, poor fellow, is worn out with
age, and promises to die before you can see him. On the right
hand stands a cupboard, the work of the same author; it was once a
dove-cage, but I transformed it. Opposite to you stands a table,
which I also made; but a merciless servant having scrubbed it until it
became paralytic, it serves no purpose now but of ornament; and all
my clean shoes stand under it. On the left hand, at the farther end
of this superb vestibule, you will find the door of the parlour,
into which I will conduct you, and where I will introduce you to Mrs.
Unwin, unless we should meet her before, and where we will be as happy
as the day is long. Order yourself, my Cousin, to the Swan at Newport,
and there you shall find me ready to conduct you to Olney.

My dear, I have told Homer what you say about casks and urns, and have
asked him whether he is sure that it is a cask in which Jupiter keeps
his wine. He swears that it is a cask, and that it will never be
anything better than a cask to eternity. So if the god is content with
it, we must even wonder at his taste, and be so too.

Adieu! my dearest, dearest Cousin.


_Commissions and thanks_

The Lodge, 24 _Dec_. 1786.

You must by no means, my dearest Coz, pursue the plan that has
suggested itself to you on the supposed loss of your letter. In
the first place I choose that my Sundays, like the Sundays of other
people, shall be distinguished by something that shall make me look
forward to them with agreeable expectation, and for that reason desire
that they may always bring me a letter from you. In the next place,
if I know when to _expect_ a letter, I know likewise when to _inquire
after_ a letter, if it happens not to come; a circumstance of some
importance, considering how excessively careless they are at the Swan,
where letters are sometimes overlooked, and do not arrive at their
destination, if no inquiry be made, till some days have passed since
their arrival at Olney. It has happened frequently to me to receive
a letter long after all the rest have been delivered, and the Padre
assured me that Mr. Throckmorton has sent notes three several times to
Mrs. Marriot, complaining of this neglect. For these reasons, my dear,
thou must write still on Saturdays, and as often on other days as thou

The screens came safe, and one of them is at this moment interposed
between me and the fire, much to the comfort of my peepers. The
other of them being fitted up with a screw that was useless, I have
consigned it to proper hands, that it may be made as serviceable
as its brother. They are very neat, and I account them a great
acquisition. Our carpenter assures me that the lameness of the chairs
was not owing to any injury received in their journey, but that the
maker never properly finished them. They were not high when they came,
and in order to reduce them to a level, we have lowered them an inch.
Thou knowest, child, that the short foot could not be lengthened, for
which reason we shortened the long ones. The box containing the plate
and the brooms reached us yesterday, and nothing had suffered the
least damage by the way. Everything is smart, everything is elegant,
and we admire them all. The short candlesticks are short enough. I am
now writing with those upon the table; Mrs. U. is reading opposite,
and they suit us both exactly. With the money that you have in hand,
you may purchase, my dear, at your most convenient time, a tea-urn;
that which we have at present having never been handsome, and being
now old and patched. A parson once, as he walked across the parlour,
pushed it down with his belly, and it never perfectly recovered
itself. We want likewise a tea-waiter, meaning, if you please, such
a one as you may remember to have seen at the Hall, a wooden one.
To which you may add, from the same fund, three or four yards of
yard-wide muslin, wherewithal to make neckcloths for my worship. If
after all these disbursements anything should be left at the bottom
of the purse, we shall be obliged to you if you will expend it in the
purchase of silk pocket-handkerchiefs. There, my precious--I think I
have charged thee with commissions in plenty.

You neither must nor shall deny us the pleasure of sending to you
such small matters as we do. As to the partridges, you may recollect
possibly, when I remind you of it, that I never eat them; they refuse
to pass my stomach; and Mrs. Unwin rejoiced in receiving them only
because she could pack them away to you--therefore never lay us under
any embargoes of this kind, for I tell you beforehand, that we are
both incorrigible. My beloved Cousin, the first thing that I open my
eyes upon in a morning, is it not the bed in which you have laid me?
Did you not, in our old dismal parlour at Olney, give me the tea on
which I breakfast?--the chocolate that I drank at noon, and the table
at which I dine?--the everything, in short, that I possess in the
shape of convenience, is it not all from you? and is it possible,
think you, that we should either of us overlook an opportunity of
making such a tiny acknowledgement of your kindness? Assure yourself
that never, while my name is Giles Gingerbread, will I dishonour my
glorious ancestry, and my illustrious appellation, by so unworthy a
conduct. I love you at my heart, and so does Mrs. U., and we must say
thank you, and send you a peppercorn when we can. So thank you, my
dear, for the brawn and the chine, and for all the good things that
you announce, and at present I will, for your sake, say no more of


_His mother's portrait_

Weston, 27 _Feb._ 1790.


Whom I thought withered, and fallen from the stalk, but whom I still
find alive: nothing could give me greater pleasure than to know it,
and to hear it from yourself. I loved you dearly when you were a
child, and love you not a jot the less for having ceased to be so.
Every creature that bears any affinity to my mother is dear to me, and
you, the daughter of her brother, are but one remove distant from her:
I love you, therefore, and love you much, both for her sake, and for
your own. The world could not have furnished you with a present so
acceptable to me, as the picture which you have so kindly sent me. I
received it the night before last, and viewed it with a trepidation of
nerves and spirits somewhat akin to what I should have felt, had the
dear original presented herself to my embraces. I kissed it, and hung
it where it is the last object that I see at night, and, of course,
the first on which I open my eyes in the morning. She died when I
completed my sixth year; yet I remember her well, and am an ocular
witness of the great fidelity of the copy. I remember, too, a
multitude of the maternal tendernesses which I received from her, and
which have endeared her memory to me beyond expression. There is in
me, I believe, more of the Donne than of the Cowper; and though I love
all of both names, and have a thousand reasons to love those of my own
name, yet I feel the bond of nature draw me vehemently to your side.
I was thought in the days of my childhood much to resemble my mother;
and in my natural temper, of which at the age of fifty-eight I must
be supposed to be a competent judge, can trace both her, and my late
uncle, your father. Somewhat of his irritability; and a little,
I would hope, both of his and of her--I know not what to call it,
without seeming to praise myself, which is not my intention, but
speaking to _you_, I will even speak out, and say _good nature_. Add
to all this, I deal much in poetry, as did our venerable ancestor, the
Dean of St. Paul's, and I think I shall have proved myself a Donne at
all points. The truth is, that whatever I am, I love you all.




_First impressions of London_


You'll expect some short account of my journey to this great city. To
tell you the truth, I made very few remarks as I rolled along, for my
mind was occupied with many thoughts, and my eyes often filled with
tears, when I reflected on all the dear friends I left behind; yet
the prospects could not fail to attract the attention of the most
indifferent: country seats sprinkled round on every side, some in the
modern taste, some in the style of old De Coverley Hall, all smiling
on the neat but humble cottage; every village as neat and compact as
a bee-hive, resounding with the busy hum of industry; and inns like

What a contrast to our poor country, where you'll scarce find a
cottage ornamented with a chimney! But what pleased me most of all
was the progress of agriculture, my favourite study, and my favourite
pursuit, if Providence had blessed me with a few paternal acres.

A description of London and its natives would fill a volume. The
buildings are very fine: it may be called the sink of vice: but its
hospitals and charitable institutions, whose turrets pierce the skies
like so many electrical conductors, avert the wrath of Heaven. The
inhabitants may be divided into two classes, the _undoers_ and the
_undone_; generally so, I say, for I am persuaded there are many men
of honesty and women of virtue in every street. An Englishman is
cold and distant at first; he is very cautious even in forming an
acquaintance; he must know you well before he enters into friendship
with you; but if he does, he is not the first to dissolve that sacred
bond: in short, a real Englishman is one that performs more than he
promises; in company he is rather silent, extremely prudent in his
expressions, even in politics, his favourite topic. The women are not
quite so reserved; they consult their glasses to the best advantage;
and as nature is very liberal in her gifts to their persons, and even
minds, it is not easy for a young man to escape their glances, or to
shut his ears to their softly flowing accents.

As to the state of learning in this city, you know I have not been
long enough in it to form a proper judgement of that subject. I don't
think, however, there is as much respect paid to a man of letters on
this side of the water as you imagine. I don't find that genius, the
'rath primrose, which forsaken dies', is patronized by any of the
nobility, so that writers of the first talents are left to the
capricious patronage of the public. Notwithstanding discouragement,
literature is cultivated in a high degree. Poetry raises her
enchanting voice to Heaven. History arrests the wings of Time in his
flight to the gulf of oblivion. Philosophy, the queen of arts, and the
daughter of Heaven, is daily extending her intellectual empire. Fancy
sports on airy wing like a meteor on the bosom of a summer cloud; and
even Metaphysics spins her cobwebs, and catches some flies.

The House of Commons not unfrequently exhibits explosions of eloquence
that rise superior to those of Greece and Rome, even in their
proudest days. Yet, after all, a man will make more by the figures of
arithmetic than the figures of rhetoric, unless he can get into the
trade wind, and then he may sail secure over Pactolean sands. As to
the stage, it is sunk, in my opinion, into the lowest degree; I
mean with regard to the trash that is exhibited on it; but I don't
attribute this to the taste of the audience, for when Shakespeare
warbles his 'native woodnotes', the boxes, pit, and gallery, are
crowded--and the gods are true to every word, if properly winged to
the heart.

Soon after my arrival in town I visited Westminster Abbey: the
moment I entered I felt a kind of awe pervade my mind which I cannot
describe; the very silence seemed sacred. Henry VII's chapel is a very
fine piece of Gothic architecture, particularly the roof; but I am
told that it is exceeded by a chapel in the University of Cambridge.
Mrs. Nightingale's monument has not been praised beyond its merit. The
attitude and expression of the husband in endeavouring to shield his
wife from the dart of death, is natural and affecting. But I always
thought that the image of death would be much better represented with
an extinguished torch inverted, than with a dart. Some would imagine
that all these monuments were so many monuments of folly;--I don't
think so; what useful lessons of morality and sound philosophy do
they not exhibit! When the high-born beauty surveys her face in the
polished Parian, though dumb the marble, yet it tells her that it was
placed to guard the remains of as fine a form, and as fair a face as
her own. They show besides how anxious we are to extend our loves and
friendships beyond the grave, and to snatch as much as we can from
oblivion--such is our natural love of immortality; but it is here
that letters obtain the noblest triumphs; it is here that the swarthy
daughters of Cadmus may hang their trophies on high; for when all
the pride of the chisel and the pomp of heraldry yield to the silent
touches of time, a single line, a half-worn-out inscription, remain
faithful to their trust. Blest be the man that first introduced these
strangers into our islands, and may they never want protection or
merit! I have not the least doubt that the finest poem in the
English language, I mean Milton's _Il Penseroso_, was composed in the
long-resounding aisle of a mouldering cloister or ivy'd abbey. Yet
after all do you know that I would rather sleep in the southern corner
of a little country churchyard, than in the tomb of the Capulets. I
should like, however, that my dust should mingle with kindred dust.
The good old expression 'family burying-ground' has something pleasing
in it, at least to me.


_A friend's infirmities_

Gregories, 16 _Sept_. 1769.


I am most exceedingly obliged to your friendship and partiality,
which attributed a silence very blameable on our parts to a favourable
cause: let me add in some measure to its true cause, a great deal of
occupation of various sorts, and some of them disagreeable enough.

As to any reports concerning your conduct and behaviour, you may be
very sure they could have no kind of influence here; for none of us
are of such a make as to trust to any one's report for the character
of a person whom we ourselves know. Until very lately, I had never
heard anything of your proceedings from others; and when I did, it was
much less than I had known from yourself, that you had been upon ill
terms with the artists and virtuosi in Rome, without much mention of
cause or consequence. If you have improved these unfortunate quarrels
to your advancement in your art, you have turned a very disagreeable
circumstance to a very capital advantage. However you may have
succeeded in this uncommon attempt, permit me to suggest to you, with
that friendly liberty which you have always had the goodness to bear
from me, that you cannot possibly have always the same success, either
with regard to your fortune or your reputation. Depend upon it, that
you will find the same competitions, the same jealousies, the same
arts and cabals, the emulations of interest and of fame, and the same
agitations and passions here that you have experienced in Italy; and
if they have the same effect on your temper, they will have just the
same effects upon your interest; and be your merit what it will, you
will never be employed to paint a picture. It will be the same at
London as at Rome, and the same in Paris as in London, for the world
is pretty nearly alike in all its parts; nay, though it would perhaps
be a little inconvenient to me, I had a thousand times rather you
should fix your residence in Rome than here, as I should not then have
the mortification of seeing with my own eyes a genius of the first
rank lost to the world, himself, and his friends; as I certainly must,
if you do not assume a manner of acting and thinking here, totally
different from what your letters from Rome have described to me.

That you have had just subjects of indignation always, and of anger
often, I do no ways doubt; who can live in the world without some
trial of his patience? But believe me, my dear Barry, that the arms
with which the ill dispositions of the world are to be combated, and
the qualities by which it is to be reconciled to us, and we reconciled
to it, are moderation, gentleness, a little indulgence to others, and
a great deal of mistrust of ourselves; which are not qualities of a
mean spirit, as some may possibly think them; but virtues of a
great and noble kind, and such as dignify our nature as much as they
contribute to our repose and fortune; for nothing can be so unworthy
of a well-composed soul, as to pass away life in bickerings and
litigations, in snarling and scuffling with every one about us.

Again and again, my dear Barry, we must be at peace with our species;
if not for their sakes yet very much for our own. Think what my
feelings must be, from my unfeigned regard, and from my wishes
that your talents might be of use, when I see what the inevitable
consequences must be, of your persevering in what has hitherto been
your course, ever since I knew you, and which you will permit me to
trace out for you beforehand.

You will come here; you will observe what the artists are doing;
and you will sometimes speak a disapprobation in plain words, and
sometimes by a no less expressive silence. By degrees you will produce
some of your own works. They will be variously criticized; you
will defend them; you will abuse those that have attacked you;
expostulations, discussions, letters, possibly challenges, will go
forward; you will shun your brethren, they will shun you. In the
meantime, gentlemen will avoid your friendship, for fear of being
engaged in your quarrels; you will fall into distresses which will
only aggravate your disposition for further quarrels; you will be
obliged for maintenance to do anything for anybody; your very talents
will depart for want of hope and encouragement; and you will go out of
the world fretted, disappointed, and ruined.

Nothing but my real regard for you could induce me to set these
considerations in this light before you. Remember, we are born
to serve and to adorn our country, and not to contend with our
fellow-citizens, and that in particular your business is to paint and
not to dispute....

If you think this a proper time to leave Rome (a matter which I
leave entirely to yourself), I am quite of opinion you ought to go
to Venice. Further, I think it right to see Florence and Bologna; and
that you cannot do better than to take that route to Venice. In short,
do everything that may contribute to your improvement, and I shall
rejoice to see you what Providence intended you, a very great man.
This you were, in your _ideas_, before you quitted this; you best know
how far you have studied, that is, practised the mechanic; despised
nothing till you had tried it; practised dissections with your own
hands, painted from nature as well as from the statues, and portrait
as well as history, and this frequently. If you have done all this,
as I trust you have, you want nothing but a little prudence, to fulfil
all our wishes. This, let me tell you, is no small matter; for it is
impossible for you to find any persons anywhere more truly interested
for you; to these dispositions attribute everything which may be a
little harsh in this letter. We are, thank God, all well, and all most
truly and sincerely yours. I seldom write so long a letter. Take this
as a sort of proof how much I am, dear Barry, Your faithful friend.


_An old stag at bay_

Beaconsfield, 30 _Oct_. 1795.

My dear Lord,

I am perfectly sensible of the very flattering honour you have done
me in turning any part of your attention towards a dejected old man,
buried in the anticipated grave of a feeble old age, forgetting and
forgotten in an obscure and melancholy retreat.

In this retreat I have nothing relative to this world to do but to
study all the tranquillity that in the state of my mind I am capable
of. To that end I find it but too necessary to call to my aid an
oblivion of most of the circumstances pleasant and unpleasant of my
life; to think as little, and indeed to know as little as I can of
everything that is doing about me; and, above all, to divert my mind
from all presagings and prognostications of what I must (if I let my
speculations loose) consider as of absolute necessity to happen after
my death, and possibly even before it. Your address to the public
which you have been so good as to send to me, obliges me to break in
upon that plan, and to look a little on what is behind, and very much
on what is before me. It creates in my mind a variety of thoughts, and
all of them unpleasant.

It is true, my Lord, what you say, that through our public life,
we have generally sailed on somewhat different tacks. We have so
undoubtedly, and we should do so still, if I had continued longer
to keep the sea. In that difference you rightly observe that I have
always done justice to your skill and ability as a navigator, and to
your good intentions towards the safety of the cargo and of the ship's
company. I cannot say now that we are on different tacks. There would
be no propriety in the metaphor. I can sail no longer. My vessel
cannot be said to be even in port. She is wholly condemned and broken
up. To have an idea of that vessel you must call to mind what you have
often seen on the Kentish road. Those planks of tough and hardy oak
that used for years to brave the buffets of the Bay of Biscay, are
now turned with their warped grain and empty trunnion holes into very
wretched pales for the enclosure of a wretched farmyard.

The style of your pamphlet, and the eloquence and power of composition
you display in it, are such as do great honour to your talents; and
in conveying any other sentiments would give me very great pleasure.
Perhaps I do not very perfectly comprehend your purpose, and the drift
of your arguments. If I do not--pray do not attribute my mistake to
want of candour, but to want of sagacity. I confess your address to
the public, together with other accompanying circumstances, has filled
me with a degree of grief and dismay which I cannot find words to
express. If the plan of politics there recommended, pray excuse my
freedom, should be adopted by the King's Councils and by the good
people of this kingdom (as so recommended undoubtedly it will)
nothing can be the consequence but utter and irretrievable ruin to the
Ministry, to the Crown, to the succession, to the importance, to the
independence, to the very existence of this country.

This is my feeble perhaps, but clear, positive, decided, long and
maturely reflected, and frequently declared opinion, from which all
the events which have lately come to pass, so far from turning me,
have tended to confirm beyond the power of alteration, even by your
eloquence and authority. I find, my dear Lord, that you think some
persons who are not satisfied with the securities of a Jacobin peace,
to be persons of intemperate minds. I may be, and I fear I am with you
in that description: but pray, my Lord, recollect that very few of
the causes which make men intemperate, can operate upon me. Sanguine
hopes, vehement desires, inordinate ambition, implacable animosity,
party attachments, or party interests; all these with me have no
existence. For myself or for a family (alas! I have none), I have
nothing to hope or to fear in this world. I am attached by principle,
inclination, and gratitude to the King, and to the present Ministry.

Perhaps you may think that my animosity to Opposition is the cause of
my dissent on seeing the politics of Mr. Fox (which while I was in the
world I combated by every instrument which God had put into my hands,
and in every situation in which I had taken part), so completely
adopted in your Lordship's book: but it was with pain I broke with
that great man for ever in that cause--and I assure you, it is not
without pain that I differ with your Lordship on the same principles.
But it is of no concern. I am far below the region of those great and
tempestuous passions. I feel nothing of the intemperance of mind. It
is rather sorrow and dejection than anger.

Once more my best thanks for your very polite attention, and do me the
favour to believe me with the most perfect sentiments of respect
and regard, my dear Lord, Your Lordship's most obedient and humble


_His last letter[1]_

Bath, 23 _May_, 1797.

My dear Mrs. Leadbeater,

I feel as I ought to do your constant hereditary kindness to me and
mine. What you have heard of my illness is far from exaggerated. I am,
thank God, alive, and that is all. Hastening to my dissolution, I have
to bless Providence that I do not suffer a great deal of pain.... Mrs.
Burke has a tolerable share of health--in every respect except much
use of her limbs. She remembers your mother's most good-natured
attentions, as I am sure I do with much gratitude. I have ever been
an admirer of your talents and virtues, and shall ever wish
most cordially for everything which can tend to your credit and
satisfaction. I therefore congratulate you very heartily on the
birth of your son; and pray remember me to the representative of your
family, who I hope still keeps up the school of which I have so tender
a remembrance; though after so long an absence, and so many unpleasant
events of every kind that have distracted my thoughts, I hardly dare
ask for any one, not knowing whether they are living or dead, lest I
should be the means of awakening unpleasant recollections. Believe me
to be, with the most respectful and affectionate regards, my dear Mrs.

Your faithful friend, and very humble servant.

PS. Pray remember me to Mr. Leadbeater. I have been at Bath these four
months to no purpose, and am therefore to be removed to my own
house at Beaconsfield to-morrow, to be nearer to a habitation more
permanent, humbly and fearfully hoping that my better part may find a
better mansion.

[Footnote 1: Cp. p. 281.]




_His daily life_

Lausanne, 27 _Dec._ 1783.

... In speaking of the happiness which I enjoy, you will agree with me
in giving the preference to a sincere and sensible friend; and though
you cannot discern the full extent of his merit, you will easily
believe that Deyverdun is the man. Perhaps two persons so perfectly
fitted to live together were never formed by nature and education.
We have both read and seen a great variety of objects; the lights
and shades of our different characters are happily blended, and
a friendship of thirty years has taught us to enjoy our mutual
advantages, and to support our unavoidable imperfections. In love and
marriage, some harsh sounds will sometimes interrupt the harmony,
and in the course of time, like our neighbours, we must expect some
disagreeable moments; but confidence and freedom are the two pillars
of our union, and I am much mistaken, if the building be not solid and

In this season I rise (not at four in the morning) but a little before
eight; at nine I am called from my study to breakfast, which I always
perform alone, in the English style; and, with the aid of Caplin,
I perceive no difference between Lausanne and Bentinck Street. Our
mornings are usually passed in separate studies; we never approach
each other's door without a previous message, or thrice knocking; and
my apartment is already sacred and formidable to strangers. I dress at
half-past one, and at two (an early hour, to which I am not perfectly
reconciled) we sit down to dinner.... After dinner, and the departure
of our company, one, two, or three friends, we read together some
amusing book, or play at chess, or retire to our rooms, or make
visits, or go to the coffee-house. Between six and seven the
assemblies begin, and I am oppressed only with their number and
variety. Whist, at shillings or half-crowns, is the game I generally
play, and I play three rubbers with pleasure. Between nine and ten we
withdraw to our bread and cheese, and friendly converse, which sends
us to bed at eleven; but these sober hours are too often interrupted
by private or numerous suppers, which I have not the courage to
resist, though I practise a laudable abstinence at the best furnished
tables. Such is the skeleton of my life....


_A great work_

Lausanne, 20 _Jan._ 1787.

... As long as I do not inform you of my death, you have good grounds
to believe me alive and well. You have a general, and will soon have a
more particular idea of my system and arrangement here. One day glides
away after another in tranquil uniformity. Every object must have
sides and moments less luminous than others; but, upon the whole, the
life and the place which I have chosen are most happily adapted to my
character and circumstances: and I can now repeat, at the end of three
years, what I soon and sincerely affirmed, that never in a single
instant have I repented of my scheme of retirement to Lausanne.... And
though I truly rejoice in my approaching visit to England, Mr. Pitt,
were he your friend and mine, would not find it an easy task to
prevent my return....

I am building a great book, which, besides the three stories already
exposed to the public eye, will have three stories more before we
reach the roof and battlements. You too have built or altered a great
Gothic castle with baronial battlements. Did you finish it within the
time you intended? As that time drew near, did you not find a thousand
nameless and unexpected works that must be performed; each of them
calling for a portion of time and labour? and had you not despised,
nobly despised, the minute diligence of finishing, fitting up, and
furnishing the apartments, you would have discovered a new train of
indispensable business. Such, at least, has been my case. A long while
ago when I contemplated the distant prospect of my work, I gave you
and myself some hopes of landing in England last autumn; but, alas!
when autumn grew near, hills began to rise on hills, Alps on Alps, and
I found my journey far more tedious and toilsome than I had imagined.
When I look back on the length of the undertaking, and the variety
of materials, I cannot accuse, or suffer myself to be accused of
idleness; yet it appeared that unless I doubled my diligence, another
year, and perhaps more, would elapse before I could embark with my
complete manuscript. Under these circumstances I took, and am still
executing, a bold and meritorious resolution. The mornings in winter,
and in a country of early dinners, are very concise; to them, my usual
period of study, I now frequently add the evenings, renounce cards
and society, refuse the most agreeable evenings, or perhaps make my
appearance at a late supper. By this extraordinary industry, which I
never practised before, and to which I hope never to be again reduced,
I see the last part of my _History_ growing apace under my hands; all
my materials are collected and arranged; I can exactly compute, by
the square foot, or the square page, all that remains to be done; and
after concluding text and notes, after a general review of my time
and my ground, I now can decisively ascertain the final period of the
_Decline and Fall_, and can boldly promise that I will dine with you
at Sheffield Place in the month of August, or perhaps of July, in the
present year; within less than a twelvemonth of the term which I had
loosely and originally fixed; and perhaps it would not be easy to
find a work of that size and importance in which the workman has
so tolerably kept his word with himself and the public. But in this
situation, oppressed with this particular object, and stealing every
hour from my amusement, to the fatigue of the pen, and the eyes, you
will conceive, or you might conceive, how little stomach I have for
the epistolary style; and that instead of idle, though friendly,
correspondence, I think it far more agreeable to employ my time in
the effectual measures that may hasten and exhilarate our personal




_An excited Unknown_

Chessington, 5 _July_, 1778.


Don't you think there must be some wager depending among the little
curled imps who hover over us mortals, of how much flummery goes to
turn the head of an authoress? Your last communication very near did
my business; for, meeting Mr. Crisp ere I had composed myself, I 'tipt
him such a touch of the heroics' as he has not seen since the time
when I was so much celebrated for dancing _Nancy Dawson_. I absolutely
longed to treat him with one of Captain Mirvan's frolics, and to fling
his wig out of the window. I restrained myself, however, from the
apprehension that they would imagine I had a universal spite to that
harmless piece of goods, which I have already been known to treat with
no little indignity. He would fain have discovered the reason of my
skittishness; but as I could not tell it him, I was obliged to assure
him it would be lost time to inquire further into my flights, since
'true no meaning puzzles more than wit', and therefore, begging the
favour of him to 'set me down an _ass_', I suddenly retreated.

My dear, dear Dr. Johnson! what a charming man you are! Mrs.
Cholmondeley, too, I am not merely prepared but determined to admire;
for really she has shown so much penetration and sound sense of late,
that I think she will bring about a union between Wit and Judgement,
though their separation has been so long, and though their meetings
have been so few.

But, Mrs. Thrale! she--she is the goddess of my idolatry! What an
_éloge_ is hers!--an _éloge_ that not only delights at first, but
proves more and more flattering every time it is considered!

I often think, when I am counting my laurels, what a pity it would
have been had I popped off in my last illness, without knowing what a
person of consequence I was!--and I sometimes think that, were I now
to have a relapse, I could never go off with so much _éclat_! I am
now at the summit of a high hill; my prospects on one side are bright,
glowing, and invitingly beautiful; but when I turn round, I perceive,
on the other side, sundry caverns, gulfs, pits, and precipices, that,
to look at, make my head giddy and my heart sick. I see about me,
indeed, many hills of far greater height and sublimity; but I have
not the strength to attempt climbing them; if I move, it must
be downwards. I have already, I fear, reached the pinnacle of my
abilities, and therefore to stand still will be my best policy.

But there is nothing under heaven so difficult to do. Creatures who
are formed for motion _must_ move, however great their inducements to
forbear. The wisest course I could take, would be to bid an eternal
adieu to writing; then would the cry be, 'Tis pity she does not go
on!--she might do something better by and by', &c, &c. _Evelina_, as
a first and a youthful publication, has been received with the utmost
favour and lenity; but would a future attempt be treated with the same
mercy?--no, my dear Susy, quite the contrary; there would not, indeed,
be the same plea to save it; it would no longer be a young lady's
_first_ appearance in public; those who have met with less indulgence
would all peck at any second work; and even those who most encouraged
the first offspring might prove enemies to the second, by receiving
it with expectations which it could not answer: and so, between either
the friends or the foes of the eldest, the second would stand an
equally bad chance, and a million of flaws which were overlooked in
the former would be ridiculed as villainous and intolerable blunders
in the latter.

But, though my eyes ache as I strain them to look forward, the
temptations before me are almost irresistible; and what you have
transcribed from Mrs. Thrale may, perhaps, prove my destruction.

So you wish to have some of the sayings of the folks here about _the
book_? I am sure I owe you all the communications I can possibly give
you; but I have nothing new to offer, for the same strain prevails
here as in town; and no one will be so obliging to me as to put in a
little abuse: so that I fear you will be satiated with the sameness
of people's remarks. Yet, what can I do? if they _will_ be so
disagreeable and tiresome as to be all of one mind, how is it to
be helped? I can only advise you to follow my example, which is, to
accommodate my philosophy to their insipidity; and in this I have so
wonderfully succeeded, that I hear their commendations not merely with
patience but even with a degree of pleasure! Such, my dear Susy, is
the effect of true philosophy.

You desire Kitty Cooke's remarks in particular. I have none to give
you, for none can I get. To the serious part she indeed listens, and
seems to think it may possibly be very fine; but she is quite lost
when the Branghtons and Madame Duval are mentioned;--she hears their
speeches very composedly, and as words of course; but when she hears
them followed by loud bursts of laughter from Hetty, Mr. Crisp, Mrs.
Gast, and Mr. Burney, she stares with the gravest amazement, and looks
so aghast, and so distressed to know where the joke can be, that I
never dare trust myself to look at her for more than an instant. Were
she to speak her thoughts, I am sure she would ask why such common
things, that pass every day, should be printed? And all the derision
with which the party in general treat the Branghtons, I can see she
feels herself, with a plentiful addition of astonishment, for the

By the way, not a human being here has the most remote suspicion of
the fact; I could not be more secure, were I literally unknown to
them. And there is no end to the ridiculous speeches perpetually made
to me, by all of them in turn, though quite by accident.

'An't you sorry this sweet book is done?' said Mrs. Gast.

A silly little laugh was the answer.

'Ah,' said Patty, ''tis the sweetest book!--don't you think so, Miss

N.B.--Answer as above.

'Pray, Miss Fan,' says Mrs. Hamilton, 'who wrote it?'

'Really I never heard.'

'Cute enough that, Miss Sukey!'

I desired Hetty to miss the verses; for I can't sit them: and I
have been obliged to hide the first volume ever since, for fear of
a discovery. But I don't know how it will end; for Mrs. Gast has
declared she shall buy it, to take it to Burford with her.


_Mrs. Thrale and Dr. Johnson_

Streatham, _March_ 1779.

The kindness and honours I meet with from this charming family are
greater than I can mention; sweet Mrs. Thrale hardly suffers me to
leave her a moment; and Dr. Johnson is another Daddy Crisp to me, for
he has a partial goodness to your Fannikin, that has made him sink the
comparative shortness of our acquaintance, and treat and think of me
as one who had long laid claim to him.

If you knew these two you would love them, or I don't know you so well
as I think I do. Dr. Johnson has more fun, and comical humour, and
love of nonsense about him, than almost anybody I ever saw: I mean
when with those he likes; for otherwise, he can be as severe and
as bitter as report relates him. Mrs. Thrale has all that gaiety of
disposition and lightness of heart, which commonly belong to fifteen.
We are, therefore, merry enough, and I am frequently seized with the
same tittering and ridiculous fits as those with which I have so often
amazed and amused poor Kitty Cooke.

One thing let me not omit of this charming woman, which I believe will
weigh with you in her favour; her political doctrine is so exactly
like yours, that it is never started but I exclaim, 'Dear ma'am, if my
Daddy Crisp was here, I believe between you, you would croak me mad!'
And this sympathy of horrible foresight not a little contributes to
incline her to believe the other parts of speech with which I regale
her concerning you. She wishes very much to know you, and I am sure
you would hit it off comfortably; but I told her what a vile taste you
had for shunning all new acquaintance, and shirking almost all your
old ones. That I may never be among the latter, heartily hopes my dear
daddy's ever affectionate and obliged, F.B.


_A royal commission_

Kew, _April_ 1789.


I have her Majesty's commands to inquire--whether you have any of a
certain breed of poultry?

N.B.--_What_ breed I do not remember.

And to say she has just received a small group of the same herself.

N.B.--The quantity I have forgotten.

And to add, she is assured they are something very rare and scarce,
and extraordinary and curious.

N.B.--By _whom_ she was assured I have not heard.

And to subjoin, that you must send word if you have any of the same

N.B.--How you are to find that out, I cannot tell.

And to mention, as a corollary, that, if you have none of them, and
should like to have some, she has a cock and a hen she can spare, and
will appropriate them to Mr. Lock and my dearest Fredy.

This conclusive stroke so pleased and exhilarated me, that forthwith
I said you would both be enchanted, and so forgot all the preceding

And I said, moreover, that I knew you would rear them, and cheer them,
and fondle them like your children.

So now--pray write a very _fair answer_ fairly, in fair hand, and to
fair purpose.

My Susanna is just now come--so all is fair with my dearest Mr. and
Mrs. Lock's F.B.




_The only survivors_

Trowbridge, 1st of 12th month, 1816.


Yes, indeed, I do well remember you! Not Leadbeater then, but a pretty
demure lass, standing a timid auditor while her own verses were read
by a kind friend, but a keen judge. And I have in my memory your
father's person and countenance, and you may be sure that my vanity
retained the compliment which he paid me in the moment when he
permitted his judgement to slip behind his good humour and desire of
giving pleasure. Yes, I remember all who were present, and, of
all, are not you and I the only survivors? It was the day--was it
not?--when I introduced my wife to my friend. And now both are gone!
and your father, and Richard Burke, who was present (yet again I must
ask,--was he not?)--and Mrs. Burke! All departed, and so, by and by,
they will speak of us. But, in the meantime, it was good of you to
write, oh, very, very good!

But are you not your father's own daughter? Do you not flatter after
his manner? How do you know the mischief that you may do in the mind
of a vain man, who is but too susceptible of praise, even while he is
conscious of so much to be placed against it? I am glad that you like
my verses: it would have mortified me much if you had not, for you can
judge as well as write.... Yours are really very admirable things; and
the morality is as pure as the literary merit is conspicuous. I am not
sure that I have read all that you have given us; but what I have read
has really that rare and almost undefinable quality, genius; that
is to say, it seizes on the mind and commands attention, and on the
heart, and compels its feelings.

How could you imagine that I could be otherwise than
pleased--delighted rather--with your letter? And let me not omit the
fact that I reply the instant I am at liberty, for I was enrobing
myself for church. You are a child of simplicity, I know, and do not
love robing; but you are a pupil of liberality, and look upon such
things with a large mind, smiling in charity. Well! I was putting on
the great black gown when my servant--(you see I can be pompous, to
write of gowns and servants with such familiarity)--when he brought me
a letter first directed, the words yet legible, to 'George Crabbe,
at Belvoir Castle', and then by Lord Mendip to the 'Reverend' at
Trowbridge; and at Trowbridge I hope again to receive these welcome
evidences of your remembrance, directed in all their simplicity, and
written, I trust, in all sincerity....

There was a Suffolk family of Alexanders, one of whom you probably
mean; and as he knew very little of me, I see no reason why he should
not give me a good character ... If it means, as it generally does,
that I paid my debts, and was guilty of no glaring world-defying
immorality--why yes!--I was so far a good character....

But your motive for writing to me was your desire of knowing whether
my men and women were really existing creatures, or beings of my own
imagination? Nay, Mary Leadbeater, yours was a better motive; you
thought that you should give pleasure by writing, and--yet you will
think me very vain--you felt some pleasure yourself in renewing the
acquaintance that commenced under such auspices! Am I not right?
My heart tells me that I am, and hopes that you will confirm it.
Be assured that I feel a very cordial esteem for the friend of my
friend,--the virtuous, the worthy character whom I am addressing.

Yes, I will tell you readily about my creatures, whom I endeavoured to
paint as nearly as I could, and dared; for in some cases I dared not.
This you will readily admit; besides, charity bade me be cautious.
Thus far you are correct; there is not one of whom I had not in my
mind the original; but I was obliged in some cases to take them from
their real situations, in one or two instances to change even the sex,
and in many the circumstances. The nearest to real life was the proud
ostentatious man in _The Borough_, who disguises an ordinary mind by
doing great things; but the others approach to reality at greater or
less distances. Indeed, I do not know that I could paint merely
from my own fancy, and there is no cause why we should. Is there not
diversity sufficient in society? And who can go, even but a little,
into the assemblies of our fellow-wanderers from the way of perfect
rectitude, and not find characters so varied and so pointed that he
need not call upon his imagination?

Will _you_ not write again? 'Write _to_ thee, or _for_ the public',
wilt thou not ask? _To_ me and _for_ as many as love and can discern
the union of strength and simplicity, purity and good sense. _Our_
feeling and _our_ hearts is the language you can adopt. Alas, _I_
cannot with propriety use it--_our_ I too could once say; but I am
alone now; and since my removing into a busy town among the multitude,
the loneliness is but more apparent and more melancholy. But this
is only at certain times; and then I have, though at considerable
distances, six female friends, unknown to each other, but all dear,
very dear, to me. With men I do not much associate; not as deserting,
and much less disliking, the male part of society, but as being unfit
for it; not hardy nor grave, not knowing enough, nor sufficiently
acquainted with the every-day concerns of men. But my beloved
creatures have minds with which I can better assimilate ... Think of
you I must; and of me, I must entreat that you would not be unmindful.

[Footnote 1: Cp. letter, p. 283.]



Trowbridge, 7 _Sept._ 1818.

A description of your village society would be very gratifying to
me--how the manners differ from those in larger societies, or in
those under different circumstances. I have observed an extraordinary
difference in village manners in England, especially between those
places otherwise nearly alike, when there was and when there was not
a leading man, or a squire's family, or a manufactory near, or a
populous, vitiated town, all these, and many other circumstances have
great influence. _Your_ quiet village, with such influencing minds,
I am disposed to think highly of. No one, perhaps, very rich--none
miserably poor. No girls, from six years to sixteen, sent to a
factory, where men, women, and children of all ages are continually
with them breathing contagion. Not all, however: we are not so
evil--there is a resisting power, and it is strong; but the thing
itself, the congregation of so many minds, and the intercourse it
occasions, will have its powerful and visible effect. But these you
have not; yet, as you mention your schools of both kinds, you must
be more populous and perhaps not so happy as I was giving myself to

The world has not spoiled you, Mary, I do believe: now it has me. I
have been absorbed in its mighty vortex, and gone into the midst of
its greatness, and joined in its festivities and frivolities, and been
intimate with its children. You may like me very well, my kind friend,
while the purifying water, and your more effectual imagination, is
between us; but come you to England, or let me be in Ireland, and
place us where mind becomes acquainted with mind--and then! Ah, Mary
Leadbeater! you would have done with your friendship with me! Child of
simplicity and virtue, how can you let yourself be so deceived? Am
I not a great fat rector, living upon a mighty income, while my poor
curate starves with six hungry children upon the scraps that fall from
the luxurious table? Do I not visit that horrible London, and enter
into its abominable dissipations? Am not I this day going to dine on
venison and drink claret? Have I not been at election dinners, and
joined the Babel-confusion of a town hall? Child of simplicity! am I
fit to be a friend to you, and to the peaceful, mild, pure, and gentle
people about you? One thing is true--I wish I had the qualification.
But I am of the world, Mary....

I return all your good wishes, think of you, and with much regard,
more than, indeed, belongs to _a man of the world_! Still, let me
be permitted to address thee.--O my dear Mrs. Leadbeater, this is
so humble that I am afraid it is vain. Well! write soon, then, and
believe me to be

Most sincerely and affectionately yours.




_Friends 'from eternity'_

Felpham, 21 _Sept._ 1800.

Sunday morning.


We are safe arrived at our cottage, which is more beautiful than I
thought it, and more convenient. It is a perfect model for cottages,
and I think for palaces of magnificence, only enlarging not altering
its proportions, and adding ornaments and not principles. Nothing
can be more grand than its simplicity and usefulness. Simple without
intricacy, it seems to be the spontaneous expression of humanity,
congenial to the wants of man. No other formed house can ever please
me so well, nor shall I ever be persuaded, I believe, that it can be
improved either in beauty or use.

Mr. Hayley received us with his usual brotherly affection. I have
begun to work. Felpham is a sweet place for study, because it is
more spiritual than London. Heaven opens here on all sides her golden
gates: her windows are not obstructed by vapours; voices of celestial
inhabitants are more distinctly heard, and their forms more distinctly
seen; and my cottage is also a shadow of their houses. My wife and
sister are both well, courting Neptune for an embrace.

Our journey was very pleasant; and though we had a great deal of
luggage, no grumbling. All was cheerfulness and good humour on the
road, and yet we could not arrive at our cottage before half-past
eleven at night, owing to the necessary shifting of our luggage from
one chaise to another; for we had seven different chaises and as many
different drivers. We set out between six and seven in the morning of
Thursday, with sixteen heavy boxes and portfolios full of prints.

And now begins a new life, because another covering of earth is
shaken off. I am more famed in heaven for my works than I could well
conceive. In my brain are studies and chambers filled with books and
pictures of old, which I wrote and painted in ages of eternity
before my mortal life; and those works are the delight and study of
archangels. Why then should I be anxious about the riches or fame of
mortality? The Lord our Father will do for us and with us according to
His divine will, for our good.

You, O dear Flaxman! are a sublime archangel,--my friend and companion
from eternity. In the divine bosom is our dwelling-place. I look back
into the regions of reminiscence, and behold our ancient days before
this earth appeared in its vegetated mortality to my mortal vegetated
eyes. I see our houses of eternity which can never be separated,
though our mortal vehicles should stand at the remotest corners of
heaven from each other.

Farewell, my best friend! Remember me and my wife in love and
friendship to our dear Mrs. Flaxman, whom we ardently desire to
entertain beneath our thatched roof of rusted gold.


_Trouble in the path_

Felpham, 10 _Jan._ 1802.

Dear Sir,

Your very kind and affectionate letter, and the many kind things you
have said in it, called upon me for an immediate answer. But it found
my wife and myself so ill, and my wife so very ill, that till now I
have not been able to do this duty. The ague and rheumatism have been
almost her constant enemies, which she has combated in vain almost
ever since we have been here, and her sickness is always my sorrow,
of course. But what you tell me about your sight afflicted me not a
little, and that about your health, in another part of your letter,
makes me entreat you to take due care of both. It is a part of our
duty to God and man to take due care of His gifts; and though we ought
not to think _more_ highly of ourselves, yet we ought to think _as_
highly of ourselves as immortals ought to think.

When I came down here, I was more sanguine than I am at present;
but it was because I was ignorant of many things which have since
occurred, and chiefly the unhealthiness of the place. Yet I do not
repent of coming on a thousand accounts; and Mr. Hayley, I doubt not,
will do ultimately all that both he and I wish--that is, to lift me
out of difficulty. But this is no easy matter to a man who, having
spiritual enemies of such formidable magnitude, cannot expect to want
natural hidden ones.

Your approbation of my pictures is a multitude to me, and I doubt not
that all your kind wishes in my behalf shall in due time be fulfilled.
Your kind offer of pecuniary assistance I can only thank you for at
present, because I have enough to serve my present purpose here. Our
expenses are small, and our income, from our incessant labour, fully
adequate to these at present. I am now engaged in engraving six small
plates for a new edition of Mr. Hayley's _Triumphs of Temper_, from
drawings by Maria Flaxman, sister to my friend the sculptor. And it
seems that other things will follow in course, if I do but copy these
well. But patience! If great things do not turn out, it is because
such things depend on the spiritual and not on the natural world; and
if it was fit for me, I doubt not that I should be employed in greater
things; and when it is proper, my talents shall be properly exercised
in public, as I hope they are now in private. For till then I leave no
stone unturned, and no path unexplored that leads to improvement in
my beloved arts. One thing of real consequence I have accomplished by
coming into the country, which is to me consolation enough: namely,
I have re-collected all my scattered thoughts on art, and resumed
my primitive and original ways of execution in both painting and
engraving, which in the confusion of London I had very much lost and
obliterated from my mind. But whatever becomes of my labours, I would
rather that they should be preserved in your greenhouse (not, as you
mistakenly call it, dunghill) than in the cold gallery of fashion. The
sun may yet shine, and then they will be brought into open air.

But you have so generously and openly desired that I will divide my
griefs with you that I cannot hide what it has now become my duty to
explain. My unhappiness has arisen from a source which, if explored
too narrowly, might hurt my pecuniary circumstances; as my dependence
is on engraving at present, and particularly on the engravings I have
in hand for Mr. Hayley, and I find on all hands great objections to
my doing anything but the mere drudgery of business, and intimations
that, if I do not confine myself to this, I shall not live. This has
always pursued me. You will understand by this the source of all my
uneasiness. This from Johnson and Fuseli brought me down here, and
this from Mr. Hayley will bring me back again. For that I cannot live
without doing my duty to lay up treasures in heaven is certain and
determined, and to this I have long made up my mind. And why this
should be made an objection to me, while drunkenness, lewdness,
gluttony, and even idleness itself, does not hurt other men, let Satan
himself explain. The thing I have most at heart--more than life, or
all that seems to make life comfortable without--is the interest of
true religion and science. And whenever anything appears to affect
that interest (especially if I myself omit any duty to my station as
a soldier of Christ), it gives me the greatest of torments. I am not
ashamed, afraid, or averse to tell you what ought to be told--that I
am under the direction of messengers from heaven, daily and nightly.
But the nature of such things is not, as some suppose, without trouble
or care. Temptations are on the right hand and on the left. Behind,
the sea of time and space roars and follows swiftly. He who keeps not
right onwards is lost; and if our footsteps slide in clay, how can we
do otherwise than fear and tremble? But I should not have troubled you
with this account of my spiritual state, unless it had been necessary
in explaining the actual cause of my uneasiness, into which you are so
kind as to inquire: for I never obtrude such things on others unless
questioned, and then I never disguise the truth. But if we fear to do
the dictates of our angels, and tremble at the tasks set before us;
if we refuse to do spiritual acts because of natural fears or natural
desires; who can describe the dismal torments of such a state!--I
too well remember the threats I heard!--'If you, who are organized
by Divine Providence for spiritual communion, refuse, and bury
your talent in the earth, even though you should want natural
bread,--sorrow and desperation pursue you through life, and after
death shame and confusion of face to eternity. Every one in eternity
will leave you, aghast at the man who was crowned with glory and
honour by his brethren, and betrayed their cause to their enemies. You
will be called the base Judas who betrayed his friend!'--Such words
would make any stout man tremble, and how then could I be at ease? But
I am now no longer in that state, and now go on again with my task,
fearless though my path is difficult. I have no fear of stumbling
while I keep it.

My wife desires her kindest love to Mrs. Butts, and I have permitted
her to send it to you also. We often wish that we could unite again
in society, and hope that the time is not distant when we shall do so,
being determined not to remain another winter here, but to return to

  I hear a Voice you cannot hear, that says
  I must not stay,
  I see a Hand you cannot see, that beckons
  me away.

Naked we came here--naked of natural things--and naked we shall
return: but while clothed with the Divine mercy, we are richly clothed
in spiritual, and suffer all the rest gladly. Pray, give my love to
Mrs. Butts and your family.

PS. Your obliging proposal of exhibiting my two pictures likewise
calls for my thanks; I will finish the others, and then we shall judge
of the matter with certainty.


_The wonderful poem_

(Felpham), 25 _April_, 1803.


I write in haste, having received a pressing letter from my Brother.
I intended to have sent the Picture of the _Riposo_, which is nearly
finished much to my satisfaction, but not quite. You shall have it
soon. I now send the four numbers for Mr. Birch with best respects to
him. The reason the _Ballads_ have been suspended is the pressure of
other business, but they will go on again soon.

Accept of my thanks for your kind and heartening letter. You have
faith in the endeavours of me, your weak brother and fellow-disciple;
how great must be your faith in our Divine Master! You are to me
a lesson of humility, while you exalt me by such distinguishing
commendations. I know that you see certain merits in me, which, by
God's grace, shall be made fully apparent and perfect in Eternity.
In the meantime I must not bury the talents in the earth, but do my
endeavour to live to the glory of our Lord and Saviour; and I am
also grateful to the kind hand that endeavours to lift me out of
despondency, even if it lifts me too high.

And now, my dear Sir, congratulate me on my return to London with the
full approbation of Mr. Hayley and with promise. But alas! now I may
say to you--what perhaps I should not dare to say to anyone else--that
I can alone carry on my visionary studies in London unannoyed, and
that I may converse with my friends in Eternity, see visions, dream
dreams, and prophesy and speak parables, unobserved, and at liberty
from the doubts of other mortals: perhaps doubts proceeding from
kindness; but doubts are always pernicious, especially when we doubt
our friends. Christ is very decided on this point: 'He who is not with
me is against me.' There is no medium or middle state; and if a man is
the enemy of my spiritual life while he pretends to be the friend of
my corporeal, he is a real enemy; but the man may be the friend of my
spiritual life while he seems the enemy of my corporeal, though not
vice versa.

What is very pleasant, every one who hears of my going to London again
applauds it as the only course for the interest of all concerned in
my works; observing that I ought not to be away from the opportunities
London affords of seeing fine pictures, and the various improvements
in works of art going on in London.

But none can know the spiritual acts of my three years' slumber on the
banks of Ocean, unless he has seen them in the spirit, or unless he
should read my long Poem descriptive of those acts; for I have in
these years composed an immense number of verses on one grand theme,
similar to Homer's _Iliad_ or Milton's _Paradise Lost_; the persons
and machinery entirely new to the inhabitants of earth (some of the
persons excepted). I have written this Poem from immediate dictation,
twelve or sometimes twenty or thirty lines at a time, without
premeditation, and even against my will. The time it has taken in
writing was thus rendered nonexistent, and an immense Poem exists
which seems to be the labour of a long life, all produced without
labour or study. I mention this to show you what I think the grand
reason of my being brought down here.

I have a thousand and ten thousand things to say to you. My heart
is full of futurity. I perceive that the sore travail which has been
given me these three years leads to glory and honour. I rejoice and
tremble: 'I am fearfully and wonderfully made.' I had been reading the
CXXXIX Psalm a little before your letter arrived. I take your advice.
I see the face of my Heavenly Father; He lays His hand upon my head,
and gives a blessing to all my work. Why should I be troubled? Why
should my heart and flesh cry out? I will go on in the strength of the
Lord; through Hell will I sing forth His praises: that the dragons of
the deep may praise Him, and that those who dwell in darkness, and in
the sea coasts may be gathered into His Kingdom. Excuse my perhaps too
great enthusiasm. Please to accept of and give our loves to Mrs. Butts
and your amiable family, and believe me ever yours affectionately.


_The poet and William Hayley_

Felpham, 6 _July_, 1803.

... We look forward every day with pleasure toward our meeting again
in London with those whom we have learned to value by absence no less
perhaps than we did by presence; for recollection often surpasses
everything. Indeed, the prospect of returning to our friends is
supremely delightful. Then, I am determined that Mrs. Butts shall have
a good likeness of you, if I have hands and eyes left; for I am become
a likeness-taker, and succeed admirably well. But this is not to be
achieved without the original sitting before you for every touch, all
likenesses from memory being necessarily very, very defective; but
Nature and Fancy are two things, and can never be joined, neither
ought any one to attempt it, for it is idolatry, and destroys the

I ought to tell you that Mr. H. is quite agreeable to our return,
and that there is all the appearance in the world of our being fully
employed in engraving for his projected works, particularly Cowper's
_Milton_--a work now on foot by subscription, and I understand that
the subscription goes on briskly. This work is to be a very elegant
one, and to consist of all Milton's Poems with Cowper's Notes, and
translations by Cowper from Milton's Latin and Italian poems. These
works will be ornamented with engravings from designs by Romney,
Flaxman, and your humble servant, and to be engraved also by
the last-mentioned. The profits of the work are intended to be
appropriated to erect a monument to the memory of Cowper in St. Paul's
or Westminster Abbey. Such is the project; and Mr. Addington and Mr.
Pitt are both among the subscribers, which are already numerous and of
the first rank. The price of the work is six guineas. Thus I hope that
all our three years' trouble ends in good-luck at last, and shall be
forgot by my affections, and only remembered by my understanding, to
be a memento in time to come, and to speak to future generations by a
sublime allegory, which is now perfectly completed into a grand Poem.
I may praise it, since I dare not pretend to be any other than the
secretary; the authors are in Eternity. I consider it as the grandest
Poem that this world contains. Allegory addressed to the
intellectual powers, while it is altogether hidden from the corporeal
understanding, is my definition of the most sublime Poetry. It is
also somewhat in the same manner defined by Plato. This Poem shall,
by Divine assistance, be progressively printed and ornamented with
prints, and given to the public. But of this work I take care to say
little to Mr. H., since he is as much averse to my Poetry as he is to
a chapter in the Bible. He knows that I have writ it, for I have shown
it to him, and he has read part by his own desire, and has looked with
sufficient contempt to enhance my opinion of it. But I do not wish to
imitate by seeming too obstinate in poetic pursuits. But if all the
world should set their faces against this, I have orders to set my
face like a flint (Ezek. iii. 8) against their faces, and my forehead
against their foreheads.

As to Mr. H., I feel myself at liberty to say as follows upon this
ticklish subject. I regard fashion in Poetry as little as I do in
Painting: so, if both Poets and Painters should alternately dislike
(but I know the majority of them will not), I am not to regard it
at all. But Mr. H. approves of my Designs as little as he does of my
Poems, and I have been forced to insist on his leaving me, in both,
to my own self-will; for I am determined to be no longer pestered with
his genteel ignorance and polite disapprobation. I know myself both
Poet and Painter, and it is not his affected contempt that can move to
anything but a more assiduous pursuit of both arts. Indeed, by my late
firmness, I have brought down his affected loftiness, and he begins
to think I have some genius: as if genius and assurance were the same
thing! But his imbecile attempts to depress me only deserve laughter.
I say thus much to you, knowing that you will not make a bad use of
it. But it is a fact too true that, if I had only depended on mortal
things, both myself and my wife must have been lost. I shall leave
every one in this country astonished at my patience and forbearance
of injuries upon injuries; and I do assure you that, if I could have
returned to London a month after my arrival here, I should have done
so. But I was commanded by my spiritual friends to bear all and be
silent, and to go through all without murmuring, and, in fine, to hope
till my three years should be almost accomplished; at which time I was
set at liberty to remonstrate against former conduct, and to demand
justice and truth; which I have done in so effectual a manner that my
antagonist is silenced completely, and I have compelled what should
have been of freedom--my just right as an artist and as a man. And
if any attempt should be made to refuse me this, I am inflexible, and
will relinquish any engagement of designing at all, unless altogether
left to my own judgement, as you, my dear friend, have always left me;
for which I shall never cease to honour and respect you.

When we meet, I will perfectly describe to you my conduct and the
conduct of others towards me, and you will see that I have laboured
hard indeed, and have been borne on angels' wings. Till we meet I beg
of God our Saviour to be with you and me, and yours and mine. Pray
give my and my wife's love to Mrs. Butts and family, and believe me to

Yours in truth and sincerity.




_Reply to his last letter_

28 _May_, 1797.

With a heart melted to overflowing, I cannot restrain the attempt to
express my grateful sensations on receiving the greatest, and, alas!
I fear, the last proof of that unvarying friendship with which our
ever-loved, our ever-honoured friend has favoured us! I may transgress
the bounds by intruding at this awful period; but I cannot help it. My
affection and my sorrow will be excused, I believe, for thou hast ever
looked kindly and partially upon me, and so has thy beloved wife, with
whose feelings I sympathize, could that avail. This day's post brought
me thy letter of the 23rd instant, dictated and signed by thee. Such
attention, at such a time, and in such a situation! It was like Edmund
Burke! It was like few others, but it is not bestowed upon hearts who
do not feel it.--I look back on that friendship formed in the precious
days of innocent childhood, between thee and my lamented parent.--I
trace its progress, which is so imprinted on my mind, that I almost
seem to myself to have been a witness to it.--I see it continue
unabated, notwithstanding the different sphere of life in which you
moved, to the period of it;--and may we not hope that there is an
union of souls beyond the grave? The composure and fortitude displayed
in thy letter, is the greatest consolation we could receive with the
tidings it conveyed of thy health. Since thou dost not allow us to
hope for its restoration, we will hope better things than is in the
power of this world to bestow.--My mother appears to decline, and
looks to the end of her race as near. All the other branches of
this family, I believe, are well in health. My brother continues
the school, which, I believe, was never in higher estimation than at
present. My husband regrets very much that he never shared with us
the pleasure of a personal acquaintance with thee. We all unite in
cordial, unaffected love to thee. I thought I would say how we were,
believing thou would be pleased to hear of our welfare, though how
long that may be continued, seems doubtful.--The general fermentation
throughout this nation, forebodes some sudden and dreadful eruption,
and, however obscure or retired our situations may be, there is little
prospect of escaping the calamity. This may cause us to admire, nay,
adore the mercy, as well as wisdom of Him, who gives and takes life,
in removing those so dear to us from the evil to come. My mother
desires thou may accept as much love as she is capable of sending
thee; her heart is full of it towards thee; and she bids me say, she
hopes thou hast lived such a life, that thy end will be crowned with
peace! So be it, with my whole heart! Thy affectionate and obliged

Our best wishes, and dear love to thy wife.

Abraham Shackleton has the melancholy satisfaction of perusing dear
Edmund Burke's account of his poor state of health. He hopes (trusts)
that a quiet resting place is prepared for him. The memory of E.
Burke's philanthropic virtues will out-live the period when his
shining political talents will cease to act. New fashions of political
sentiment will exist; but philanthropy,--_immortale manet!_


_She writes to remind him_

Ballitore, 7th of Eleventh-month, 1816.

I believe it will surprise George Crabbe to receive a letter from an
entire stranger, whom most probably he does not remember to have ever
seen or heard of, but who cannot forget having met him at the house of
Edmund Burke, Charles Street, James's Square, in the year 1784. I
was brought thither by my father, Richard Shackleton, the friend
from their childhood of Edmund Burke. My dear father told thee that
Goldsmith's would now be the _deserted village_; perhaps thou dost not
remember this compliment, but I remember the ingenuous modesty which
disclaimed it. He admired '_The Village', 'The Library_,' and '_The
Newspaper_' exceedingly, and the delight with which he read them to
his family could not but be acceptable to the author, had he known
the sound judgement and the exquisite taste which that excellent
man possessed. But he saw no more of the productions of the Muse he
admired; whose originality was not the least charm. He is dead--the
friend whom he loved and honoured, and to whose character thou dost so
much justice in the preface to '_The Parish_ _Register_', is also gone
to the house appointed for all living. A splendid constellation of
poets arose in the literary horizon; I looked around for Crabbe. Why
does not he, who shines as brightly as any of these, add his lustre?
I had not long thought thus when, in an Edinburgh Review, I met
with reflections similar to my own, which introduced '_The Parish
Register_'. Oh, it was like the voice of a long-lost friend, and glad
was I to hear that voice again in '_The Borough_'!--still more in
'_The Tales_,' which appear to me excelling all that preceded them!
Every work is so much in unison with our own feelings, that a wish for
information concerning them and their author is strongly excited.

One of our friends, Dykes Alexander, who was in Ballitore in 1810, I
think, said he was personally acquainted with thee, and spoke highly
of thy character. I regretted I had not an opportunity of conversing
with him on this subject, as perhaps he would have been able to decide
arguments which have arisen; namely, whether we owe to truth or to
fiction that 'ever new delight' which thy poetry affords us. The
characters, however singular some of them may be, are never unnatural,
and thy sentiments so true to domestic and social feelings, as well as
to those of a higher nature, have the convincing power of reality
over the mind, and _I_ maintain that all thy pictures _are drawn from
life_. To inquire whether this be the case is the excuse which I make
to myself for writing this letter. I wish the excuse may be accepted
by thee, for I greatly fear I have taken an unwarrantable liberty in
making the inquiry. Though advanced in life, yet from an education of
peculiar simplicity, and from never having been long absent from my
retired native village, I am too little acquainted with decorum. If I
have now transgressed the rules it prescribes, I appeal to the candour
and liberality of thy mind to forgive a fault caused by a strong

PS. Ballitore is the village in which Edmund Burke was educated by
Abraham Shackleton, whose pupil he became in 1741, and from whose
school he entered the college of Dublin in 1744. The school is still




_Marriage with Jean_

Ellisland, near Dumfries, 16 _Sept_. 1788.

Where are you? and how are you? and is Lady M'Kenzie recovering her
health? for I have had but one solitary letter from you. I will not
think you have forgot me, Madam; and for my part--

  When thee, Jerusalem, I forget,
  Skill part from my right hand!

'My heart is not of that rock, nor my soul careless as that sea.' I
do not make my progress among mankind as a bowl does among its
fellows--rolling through the crowd without bearing away any mark or
impression, except where they hit in hostile collision.

I am here, driven in with my harvest-folks by bad weather; and as you
and your sister once did me the honour of interesting yourselves
much _à l'égard de moi_, I sit down to beg the continuation of your
goodness.--I can truly say that, all the exterior of life apart,
I never saw two, whose esteem flattered the nobler feelings of my
soul--I will not say, more, but so much as Lady M'Kenzie and Miss
Chalmers. When I think of you--hearts the best, minds the noblest, of
human kind--unfortunate, even in the shades of life--when I think I
have met with you, and have lived more of real life with you in
eight days, than I can do with almost any body I meet with in eight
years--when I think on the improbability of meeting you in this world
again--I could sit down and cry like a child!--If ever you honoured me
with a place in your esteem, I trust I can now plead more desert.--I
am secure against that crushing grip of iron poverty, which, alas!
is less or more fatal to the native worth and purity of, I fear, the
noblest souls; and a late, important step in my life has kindly taken
me out of the way of those ungrateful iniquities, which, however
overlooked in fashionable license, or varnished in fashionable phrase,
are indeed but lighter and deeper shades of VILLAINY.

Shortly after my last return to Ayrshire, I married 'my Jean'. This
was not in consequence of the attachment of romance perhaps; but I
had a long and much-loved fellow creature's happiness or misery in my
determination, and I durst not trifle with so important a deposit. Nor
have I any cause to repent it. If I have not got polite tattle, modish
manners, and fashionable dress, I am not sickened and disgusted with
the multiform curse of boarding-school affectation; and I have got the
handsomest figure, the sweetest temper, the soundest constitution, and
the kindest heart in the county. Mrs. Burns believes, as firmly as her
creed, that I am _le plus bel esprit, et le plus honnête homme_ in
the universe; although she scarcely ever in her life, except the
Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, and the Psalms of David in
metre, spent five minutes together on either prose or verse.

I must except also from this last, a certain late publication of Scots
poems, which she has perused very devoutly; and all the ballads in
the country, as she has (O the partial lover! you will cry) the finest
'wood-note wild' I ever heard.--I am the more particular in this
lady's character, as I know she will henceforth have the honour of a
share in your best wishes. She is still at Mauchline, as I am building
my house; for this hovel that I shelter in, while occasionally here,
is pervious to every blast that blows, and every shower that falls;
and I am only preserved from being chilled to death, by being
suffocated with smoke. I do not find my farm that pennyworth I was
taught to expect, but I believe, in time, it may be a saving bargain.
You will be pleased to hear that I have laid aside idle _éclat_, and
bind every day after my reapers.

To save me from that horrid situation of at any time going down, in
a losing bargain of a farm, to misery, I have taken my excise
instructions, and have my commission in my pocket for any emergency
of fortune. If I could set _all_ before your view, whatever disrespect
you in common with the world, have for this business, I know you would
approve of my idea.

I will make no apology, dear Madam, for this egotistic detail: I know
you and your sister will be interested in every circumstance of it.
What signify the silly, idle gewgaws of wealth, or the ideal trumpery
of greatness! When fellow partakers of the same nature fear the same
God, have the same benevolence of heart, the same nobleness of soul,
the same detestation at every thing dishonest, and the same scorn at
every thing unworthy--if they are not in the dependance of absolute
beggary, in the name of common sense are they not EQUALS? And if the
bias, the instinctive bias of their souls run the same way, why may
they not be FRIENDS?...


_A gauger_

Ellisland, 1 _Nov_. 1789.


I had written you long ere now, could I have guessed where to find
you, for I am sure you have more good sense than to waste the precious
days of vacation time in the dirt of business and Edinburgh. Wherever
you are, God bless you, and lead you not into temptation, but deliver
you from evil!

I do not know if I have informed you that I am now appointed to an
excise division, in the middle of which my house and farm lie. In this
I was extremely lucky. Without ever having been an expectant, as they
call their journeymen excisemen, I was directly planted down to all
intents and purposes an officer of excise; there to flourish and bring
forth fruits--worthy of repentance.

I know not how the word exciseman, or still more opprobrious, gauger,
will sound in your ears. I too have seen the day when my auditory
nerves would have felt very delicately on this subject; but a wife
and children are things which have a wonderful power in blunting these
kind of sensations. Fifty pounds a year for life, and a provision for
widows and orphans, you will allow is no bad settlement for a _poet_.
For the ignominy of the profession, I have the encouragement which
I once heard a recruiting sergeant give to a numerous, if not a
respectable audience, in the streets of Kilmarnock.--'Gentlemen,
for your further and better encouragement, I can assure you that
our regiment is the most blackguard corps under the crown, and
consequently with us an honest fellow has the surest chance for

You need not doubt that I find several very unpleasant and
disagreeable circumstances in my business; but I am tired with and
disgusted at the language of complaint against the evils of life.
Human existence in the most favourable situations does not abound with
pleasures, and has its inconveniences and ills; capricious foolish man
mistakes these inconveniences and ills as if they were the peculiar
property of his particular situation; and hence that eternal
fickleness, that love of change, which has ruined, and daily does
ruin many a fine fellow, as well as many a blockhead; and is, almost
without exception, a constant source of disappointment and misery....


_Witch tales_

Dumfries, 1792.

Among the many witch stories I have heard relating to Alloway Kirk, I
distinctly remember only two or three.

Upon a stormy night, amid whistling squalls of wind and bitter blasts
of hail--in short, on such a night as the devil would choose to take
the air in--a farmer, or farmer's servant, was plodding and plashing
homeward, with his plough irons on his shoulder, having been getting
some repairs on them at a neighbouring smithy. His way lay by the Kirk
of Alloway, and being rather on the anxious look-out in approaching
a place so well known to be a favourite haunt of the devil and the
devil's friends and emissaries, he was struck aghast by discovering
through the horrors of the storm and stormy night a light, which, on
his nearer approach, plainly showed itself to proceed from the haunted
edifice. Whether he had been fortified from above, on his devout
supplication, as is customary with people when they suspect the
immediate presence of Satan; or whether, according to another custom,
he had got courageously drunk at the smithy, I will not pretend to
determine; but so it was that he ventured to go up to, nay, into, the
very kirk. As luck would have it, his temerity came off unpunished.

The members of the infernal junto were all out on some midnight
business or other, and he saw nothing but a kind of kettle or
cauldron, depending from the roof over the fire, simmering some heads
of unchristened children, limbs of executed malefactors, &c., for the
business of the night. It was in for a penny, in for a pound, with the
honest ploughman; so, without ceremony, he unhooked the cauldron from
off the fire, and pouring out the damnable ingredients, inverted it
on his head, and carried it fairly home, where it remained long in the
family, a living evidence of the truth of the story.

Another story, which I can prove to be equally authentic, was as
follows: On a market day, in the town of Ayr, a farmer from Carrick,
and consequently whose way lay by the very gate of Alloway Kirkyard,
in order to cross the river Doon at the old bridge, which is about
two or three hundred yards further on than the said gate, had been
detained by his business, till by the time he reached Alloway it was
the wizard hour between night and morning.

Though he was terrified with a blaze streaming from the kirk, yet
as it is a well-known fact that to turn back on these occasions is
running by far the greatest risk of mischief, he prudently advanced
on his road. When he had reached the gate of the kirkyard he was
surprised and entertained through the ribs and arches of an old Gothic
window which still faces the highway, to see a dance of witches,
merrily footing it round their old sooty blackguard master, who was
keeping them all alive with the power of his bagpipe. The farmer,
stopping his horse to observe them a little, could plainly descry the
faces of many old women of his acquaintance and neighbourhood. How the
gentleman was dressed tradition does not say, but that the ladies were
all in their smocks; and one of them, happening unluckily to have a
smock which was considerably too short to answer all the purposes of
that piece of dress, our farmer was so tickled that he involuntarily
burst out with a loud laugh: 'Weel luppen, Maggy wi' the short sark!'
and recollecting himself, instantly spurred his horse to the top of
his speed. I need not mention the universally known fact, that no
diabolical power can pursue you beyond the middle of a running stream.
Lucky it was for the poor farmer that the river Doon was so near, for,
notwithstanding the speed of his horse, which was a good one, against
he reached the middle of the arch of the bridge, and consequently the
middle of the stream, the pursuing vengeful hags were so close at his
heels, that one of them actually sprang to seize him; but it was too
late, nothing was on her side of the stream but the horse's tail,
which immediately gave way at her infernal grip, as if blasted by a
stroke of lightning; but the farmer was beyond her reach. However, the
unsightly tailless condition of the vigorous steed was, to the last
hour of the noble creature's life, an awful warning to the Carrick
farmer not to stay too late in Ayr markets.

The last relation I shall give you, though equally true, is not so
well identified as the two former, with regard to the scene; but as
the best authorities give it for Alloway, I shall relate it.

On a summer's evening, about the time that nature puts on her sables
to mourn the expiry of the cheerful day, a shepherd boy, belonging
to a farmer in the immediate neighbourhood of Alloway Kirk, had just
folded his charge and was returning home. As he passed the kirk, in
the adjoining field, he fell in with a crew of men and women, who
were busy pulling stems of the plant ragwort. He observed that as each
person pulled a ragwort, he or she got astride of it, and called out,
'Up, horsie', on which the ragwort flew off, like Pegasus, through the
air, with its rider. The foolish boy likewise pulled his ragwort and
cried with the rest, 'Up, horsie', and, strange to tell, away he flew
with the company. The first stage at which the cavalcade stopped was
a merchant's wine-cellar in Bordeaux, where, without saying by your
leave, they quaffed away at the best the cellar could afford, until
the morning, foe to the imps and works of darkness, threatened to
throw light on the matter, and frightened them from their carousals.

The poor shepherd lad, being equally a stranger to the scene and the
liquor, heedlessly got himself drunk; and when the rest took horse he
fell asleep, and was found so next day by some of the people belonging
to the merchant. Somebody that understood Scotch, asking him what he
was, he said he was such-a-one's herd in Alloway, and by some means or
other getting home again, he lived long to tell the world the wondrous




_A brother's character_

Grasmere, 20 _Feb_. 1805.

Having spoken of worldly affairs, let me again mention my beloved
brother. It is now just five years since, after a separation of
fourteen years (I may call it a separation, for we only saw him four
or five times, and by glimpses), he came to visit his sister and me
in this cottage, and passed eight blessed months with us. He was then
waiting for the command of the ship to which he was appointed when he
quitted us. As you will have seen, we had little to live upon, and he
as little (Lord Lonsdale being then alive). But he encouraged me to
persist, and to keep my eye steady on its object. He would work for me
(that was his language), for me and his sister; and I was to endeavour
to do something for the world. He went to sea, as commander, with
this hope; his voyage was very unsuccessful, he having lost by it
considerably. When he came home, we chanced to be in London, and saw
him. 'Oh!' said he, 'I have thought of you, and nothing but you; if
ever of myself, and my bad success, it was only on your account.' He
went again to sea a second time, and also was unsuccessful; still
with the same hopes on our account, though then not so necessary,
Lord Lowther having paid the money. Lastly came the lamentable voyage,
which he entered upon, full of expectation, and love to his sister
and myself, and my wife, whom, indeed, he loved with all a brother's
tenderness. This is the end of his part of the agreement--of his
efforts for my welfare! God grant me life and strength to fulfil mine!
I shall never forget him--never lose sight of him: there is a bond
between us yet, the same as if he were living, nay, far more sacred,
calling upon me to do my utmost, as he to the last did his utmost
to live in honour and worthiness. Some of the newspapers carelessly
asserted that he did not wish to survive his ship. This is false. He
was heard by one of the surviving officers giving orders, with all
possible calmness, a very little before the ship went down; and when
he could remain at his post no longer, then, and not till then,
he attempted to save himself. I knew this would be so, but it was
satisfactory for me to have it confirmed by external evidence. Do not
think our grief unreasonable. Of all human beings whom I ever knew, he
was the man of the most rational desires, the most sedate habits, and
the most perfect self-command. He was modest and gentle, and shy even
to disease; but this was wearing off. In everything his judgements
were sound and original; his taste in all the arts, music and poetry
in particular (for these he, of course, had had the best opportunities
of being familiar with), was exquisite; and his eye for the beauties
of nature was as fine and delicate as ever poet or painter was gifted
with, in some discriminations, owing to his education and way of life,
far superior to any person's I ever knew. But, alas! what avails it?
It was the will of God that he should be taken away....

I trust in God that I shall not want fortitude; but my loss is great
and irreparable....



Patterdale, 7 _Nov_. 1805.


I was much pleased to hear of your engagement with Dryden: not that he
is, as a poet, any great favourite of mine: I admire his talents and
genius highly, but his is not a poetical genius. The only qualities
I can find in Dryden that are _essentially_ poetical, are a certain
ardour and impetuosity of mind, with an excellent ear. It may seem
strange that I do not add to this, great command of language: _that_
he certainly has, and of such language too, as it is most desirable
that a poet should possess, or rather that he should not be without.
But it is not language that is, in the highest sense of the word,
poetical, being neither of the imagination nor of the passions; I mean
the amiable, the ennobling, or the intense passions. I do not mean to
say that there is nothing of this in Dryden, but as little, I think,
as is possible, considering how much he has written. You will easily
understand my meaning, when I refer to his versification of _Palamon
and Arcite_, as contrasted with the language of Chaucer. Dryden had
neither a tender heart nor a lofty sense of moral dignity. Whenever
his language is poetically impassioned, it is mostly upon unpleasing
subjects, such as the follies, vices, and crimes of classes of men or
of individuals, That his cannot be the language of imagination, must
have necessarily followed from this,--that there is not a single image
from nature in the whole body of his works; and in his translation
from Virgil, wherever Virgil can be fairly said to have had his _eye_
upon his object, Dryden always spoils the passage.

But too much of this; I am glad that you are to be his editor.
His political and satirical pieces may be greatly benefited by
illustration, and even absolutely require it. A correct text is the
first object of an editor, then such notes as explain difficult or
obscure passages; and lastly, which is much less important, notes
pointing out authors to whom the poet has been indebted, not in the
fiddling way of phrase here and phrase there, (which is detestable as
a general practice), but where he has had essential obligations either
as to matter or manner.

If I can be of any use to you, do not fail to apply to me. One thing
I may take the liberty to suggest, which is, when you come to the
fables, might it not be advisable to print the whole of the Tales of
Boccace in a smaller type in the original language? If this should
look too much like swelling a book, I should certainly make such
extracts as would show where Dryden has most strikingly improved upon,
or fallen below, his original. I think his translations from Boccace
are the best, at least the most poetical, of his poems. It is many
years since I saw Boccace, but I remember that Sigismunda is not
married by him to Guiscard (the names are different in Boccace in both
tales, I believe--certainly in Theodore, &c.). I think Dryden has much
injured the story by the marriage, and degraded Sigismunda's character
by it. He has also, to the best of my remembrance, degraded her still
more, by making her love absolute sensuality and appetite; Dryden had
no other notion of the passion. With all these defects, and they are
very gross ones, it is a noble poem. Guiscard's answer, when first
reproached by Tancred, is noble in Boccace--nothing but this: _Amor
può molto più che ne voi ne io possiamo_. This, Dryden has spoiled. He
says first very well, 'the faults of love by love are justified,' and
then come four lines of miserable rant, quite _à la Maximin_.


_The destiny of his poems_

Coleorton, 21 _May_, 1807.


Though I am to see you so soon, I cannot but write a word or two, to
thank you for the interest you take in my poems, as evinced by your
solicitude about their immediate reception. I write partly to thank
you for this, and to express the pleasure it has given me, and partly
to remove any uneasiness from your mind which the disappointments you
sometimes meet with, in this labour of love, may occasion. I see that
you have many battles to fight for me--more than, in the ardour and
confidence of your pure and elevated mind, you had ever thought of
being summoned to; but be assured that this opposition is nothing more
than what I distinctly foresaw that you and my other friends would
have to encounter. I say this, not to give myself credit for an eye of
prophecy, but to allay any vexatious thoughts on my account which this
opposition may have produced in you.

It is impossible that any expectations can be lower than mine
concerning the immediate effect of this little work upon what is
called the public. I do not here take into consideration the envy and
malevolence, and all the bad passions which always stand in the way of
a work of any merit from a living poet; but merely think of the pure,
absolute, honest ignorance in which all worldlings of every rank and
situation must be enveloped, with respect to the thoughts, feelings
and images on which the life of my poems depends. The things which I
have taken, whether from within or without, what have they to do with
routs, dinners, morning calls, hurry from door to door, from street to
street, on foot or in carriage; with Mr. Pitt or Mr. Fox, Mr. Paul
or Sir Francis Burdett, the Westminster election or the borough of
Honiton? In a word--for I cannot stop to make my way through the hurry
of images that present themselves to me--what have they to do with the
endless talking about things nobody cares anything for except as far
as their own vanity is concerned, and this with persons they care
nothing for but as their vanity or _selfishness_ is concerned?--what
have they to do (to say all at once) with a life without love? In such
a life there can be no thought; for we have no thought (save thoughts
of pain) but as far as we have love and admiration.

It is an awful truth, that there neither is, nor can be, any genuine
enjoyment of poetry among nineteen out of twenty of those persons who
live, or wish to live, in the broad light of the world--among
those who either are, or are striving to make themselves, people of
consideration in society. This is a truth, and an awful one, because
to be incapable of a feeling of poetry, in my sense of the word, is to
be without love of human nature and reverence for God.

Upon this I shall insist elsewhere; at present let me confine myself
to my object; which is to make you, my dear friend, as easy-hearted
as myself with respect to these poems. Trouble not yourself upon their
present reception; of what moment is that compared with what I trust
is their destiny?--to console the afflicted; to add sunshine to
daylight, by making the happy happier; to teach the young and the
gracious of every age to see, to think, and feel, and therefore, to
become more actively and securely virtuous; this is their office,
which I trust they will faithfully perform, long after we (that is,
all that is mortal of us) are mouldered in our graves. I am well aware
how far it would seem to many I overrate my own exertions, when I
speak in this way, in direct connexion with the volume I have just
made public.

I am not, however, afraid of such censure, insignificant as probably
the majority of those poems would appear to very respectable persons.
I do not mean London wits and witlings, for these have too many foul
passions about them to be respectable, even if they had more intellect
than the benign laws of Providence will allow to such a heartless
existence as theirs is; but grave, kindly-natured, worthy persons,
who would be pleased if they could. I hope that these volumes are
not without some recommendations, even for readers of this class: but
their imagination has slept; and the voice which is the voice of my
poetry, without imagination, cannot be heard....

My letter (as this second sheet, which I am obliged to take,
admonishes me) is growing to an enormous length; and yet, saving that
I have expressed my calm confidence that these poems will live, I have
said nothing which has a particular application to the object of it,
which was to remove all disquiet from your mind on account of the
condemnation they may at present incur from that portion of my
contemporaries who are called the public. I am sure, my dear Lady
Beaumont, if you attach any importance to it, it can only be from an
apprehension that it may affect me, upon which I have already set you
at ease; or from a fear that this present blame is ominous of their
future or final destiny. If this be the case, your tenderness for me
betrays you. Be assured that the decision of these persons has nothing
to do with the question; they are altogether incompetent judges. These
people, in the senseless hurry of their idle lives, do not _read_
books, they merely snatch a glance at them, that they may talk about
them. And even if this were not so, never forget what, I believe, was
observed to you by Coleridge, that every great and original writer, in
proportion as he is great or original, must himself create the taste
by which he is to be relished; he must teach the art by which he is to
be seen; this, in a certain degree, even to all persons, however wise
and pure may be their lives, and however unvitiated their taste. But
for those who dip into books in order to give an opinion of them, or
talk about them to take up an opinion--for this multitude of unhappy
and misguided, and misguiding beings, an entire regeneration must
be produced; and if this be possible, it must be a work of time. To
conclude, my ears are stone-dead to this idle buzz, and my flesh as
insensible as iron to these petty stings; and after what I have said,
I am sure yours will be the same. I doubt not that you will share with
me an invincible confidence that my writings (and among them these
little poems) will co-operate with the benign tendencies in human
nature and society, wherever found; and that they will in their degree
be efficacious in making men wiser, better, and happier. Farewell.
I will not apologize for this letter, though its length demands an


_The language of poetry_

[c. 1807.]


I am quite delighted to hear of your picture for _Peter Bell_; I was
much pleased with the sketch, and I have no doubt that the picture
will surpass it as far as a picture ought to do. I long much to see
it. I should approve of any engraver approved by you. But remember
that no poem of mine will ever be popular; and I am afraid that the
sale of _Peter_ would not carry the expense of the engraving, and that
the poem, in the estimation of the public, would be a weight upon
the print. I say not this in modest disparagement of the poem, but in
sorrow for the sickly taste of the public in verse. The _people_ would
love the poem of _Peter Bell_, but the _public_ (a very different
being) will never love it. Thanks for dear Lady B.'s transcript from
your friend's letter; it is written with candour, but I must say a
word or two not in praise of it. 'Instances of what I mean,' says your
friend, 'are to be found in a poem on a Daisy' (by the by, it is on
_the_ Daisy, a mighty difference!) 'and on _Daffodils reflected in the
Water_'. Is this accurately transcribed by Lady Beaumont? If it
be, what shall we think of criticism or judgement founded upon, and
exemplified by, a poem which must have been so inattentively perused?
My language is precise; and, therefore, it would be false modesty to
charge myself with blame.

  Beneath the trees,
  Ten thousand dancing in the _breeze_.
  The _waves beside_ them danced, but they
  Outdid the _sparkling waves_ in glee.

Can expression be more distinct? And let me ask your friend how it
is possible for flowers to be _reflected_ in water when there are
_waves_? They may, indeed, in _still_ water; but the very object of my
poem is the trouble or agitation, both of the flowers and the water.
I must needs respect the understanding of every one honoured by your
friendship; but sincerity compels me to say that my poems must be more
nearly looked at, before they can give rise to any remarks of much
value, even from the strongest minds. With respect to this individual
poem, Lady B. will recollect how Mrs. Fermor expressed herself upon
it. A letter also was sent to me, addressed to a friend of mine, and
by him communicated to me, in which this identical poem was singled
out for fervent approbation. What then shall we say? Why, let the poet
first consult his own heart, as I have done, and leave the rest
to posterity--to, I hope, an improving posterity. The fact is, the
English _public_ are at this moment in the same state of mind with
respect to my poems, if small things may be compared with great, as
the French are in respect to Shakespeare, and not the French alone,
but almost the whole Continent. In short, in your friend's letter,
I am condemned for the very thing for which I ought to have
been praised, viz., that I have not written down to the level of
superficial observers and unthinking minds. Every great poet is
a teacher: I wish either to be considered as a teacher, or as




_Marriage with Miss Carpenter_



I should very ill deserve the care and affection with which you
have ever regarded me, were I to neglect my duty so far as to omit
consulting my father and you in the most important step which I
can possibly take in life, and upon the success of which my future
happiness must depend. It is with pleasure I think that I can avail
myself of your advice and instructions in an affair of so great
importance as that which I have at present on my hands. You will
probably guess from this preamble, that I am engaged in a matrimonial
plan, which is really the case. Though my acquaintance with the young
lady has not been of long standing, this circumstance is in some
degree counterbalanced by the intimacy in which we have lived, and by
the opportunities which that intimacy has afforded me of remarking her
conduct and sentiments on many different occasions, some of which were
rather of a delicate nature, so that in fact I have seen more of her
during the few weeks we have been together, than I could have done
after a much longer acquaintance, shackled by the common forms of
ordinary life. You will not expect from me a description of her
person,--for which I refer you to my brother, as also for a fuller
account of all the circumstances attending the business than can be
comprised in the compass of a letter. Without flying into raptures,
for I must assure you that my judgement as well as my affections are
consulted upon this occasion; without flying into raptures then, I
may safely assure you, that her temper is sweet and cheerful, her
understanding good, and what I know will give you pleasure, her
principles of religion very serious. I have been very explicit
with her upon the nature of my expectations, and she thinks she can
accommodate herself to the situation which I should wish her to hold
in society as my wife, which, you will easily comprehend, I mean
should neither be extravagant nor degrading. Her fortune, though
partly dependent upon her brother, who is high in office at Madras, is
very considerable--at present £500 a-year. This, however, we must,
in some degree, regard as precarious,--I mean to the full extent; and
indeed when you know her you will not be surprised that I regard
this circumstance chiefly because it removes those prudential
considerations which would otherwise render our union impossible for
the present. Betwixt her income and my own professional exertions, I
have little doubt we will be enabled to hold the rank in society which
my family and situation entitle me to fill.

My dear Mother, I cannot express to you the anxiety I have that you
will not think me flighty nor inconsiderate in this business. Believe
me, that experience, in one instance--you cannot fail to know to what
I allude--is too recent to permit my being so hasty in my conclusions
as the warmth of my temper might have otherwise prompted. I am also
most anxious that you should be prepared to show her kindness, which I
know the goodness of your own heart will prompt, more especially
when I tell you that she is an orphan, without relations, and almost
without friends. Her guardian is, I should say _was_, for she is of
age, Lord Downshire, to whom I must write for his consent, a piece
of respect to which he is entitled for his care of her--and there the
matter rests at present. I think I need not tell you that if I assume
the new character which I threaten, I shall be happy to find that
in that capacity, I may make myself more useful to my brothers, and
especially to Anne, than I could in any other. On the other hand, I
shall certainly expect that my friends will endeavour to show every
attention in their power to a woman who forsakes for me, prospects
much more splendid than what I can offer, and who comes into Scotland
without a single friend but myself. I find I could write a great deal
more upon this subject, but as it is late, and as I must write to my
father, I shall restrain myself. I think (but you are the best judge)
that in the circumstances in which I stand, you should write to her,
Miss Carpenter, under cover to me at Carlisle.

Write to me very fully upon this important subject--send me your
opinion, your advice, and above all, your blessing; you will see the
necessity of not delaying a minute in doing so, and in keeping this
business _strictly private_, till you hear farther from me, since you
are not ignorant that even at this advanced period, an objection on
the part of Lord Downshire, or many other accidents, may intervene; in
which case, I should little wish my disappointment to be public.


_The Lay of the Last Minstrel_

Edinburgh, 21 _March_, 1805.


I am truly happy that you found any amusement in the _Lay of the Last
Minstrel_. It has great faults, of which no one can be more sensible
than I am myself. Above all, it is deficient in that sort of
continuity which a story ought to have, and which, were it to write
again, I would endeavour to give it. But I began and wandered forward,
like one in a pleasant country, getting to the top of one hill to see
a prospect, and to the bottom of another to enjoy a shade, and what
wonder if my course has been devious and desultory, and many of my
excursions altogether unprofitable to the advance of my journey.
The Dwarf Page is also an excrescence, and I plead guilty to all the
censures concerning him. The truth is, he has a history, and it is
this: The story of Gilpin Horner was told by an old gentleman to
Lady Dalkeith, and she, much diverted with his actually believing so
grotesque a tale, insisted that I should make it into a Border ballad.
I don't know if you ever saw my lovely chieftainess--if you have,
you must be aware that it is _impossible_ for any one to refuse her
request, as she has more of the angel in face and temper than any one
alive; so that if she had asked me to write a ballad on a broomstick I
must have attempted it. I began a few verses, to be called the Goblin
Page; and they lay long by me, till the applause of some friends
whose judgement I valued induced me to resume the poem; so on I wrote,
knowing no more than the man in the moon how I was to end. At length
the story appeared so uncouth, that I was fain to put it into
the mouth of my old minstrel--lest the nature of it should be
misunderstood, and I should be suspected of setting up a new school of
poetry, instead of a feeble attempt to imitate the old. In the process
of romance the page, intended to be a principal person in the work,
contrived (from the baseness of his natural propensities, I suppose)
to slink downstairs into the kitchen, and now he must e'en abide

I mention these circumstances to you, and to any one whose applause I
value, because I am unwilling you should suspect me of trifling with
the public in _malice prepense_. As to the herd of critics, it is
impossible for me to pay much attention to them; for, as they do not
understand what I call poetry, we talk in a foreign language to each
other. Indeed, many of these gentlemen appear to me to be a sort of
tinkers, who, unable to _make_ pots and pans, set up for _menders_ of
them, and, God knows, often make two holes in patching one. The sixth
canto is altogether redundant; for the poem should certainly have
closed with the union of the lovers, when the interest, if any, was
at an end. But what could I do? I had my book and my page still on my
hands, and must get rid of them at all events. Manage them as I would,
their catastrophe must have been insufficient to occupy an entire
canto; so I was fain to eke it out with the songs of the minstrels. I
will now descend from the confessional, which I think I have occupied
long enough for the patience of my fair confessor. I am happy you are
disposed to give me absolution, notwithstanding all my sins. We have a
new poet come forth amongst us--James Graham, author of a poem called
_The Sabbath_, which I admire very much. If I can find an opportunity
I will send you a copy.


_An amiable blue-stocking_

Edinburgh, 16 _June_, 1808.


Nothing will give us more pleasure than to have the honour of showing
every attention in our power to Mr. and Mrs. Morritt, and I am
particularly happy in a circumstance that at once promises me a great
deal of pleasure in the acquaintance of your Ladyship's friends, and
affords me the satisfaction of hearing from you again. Pray don't
triumph over me too much in the case of Lydia. I stood a very
respectable siege; but she caressed my wife, coaxed my children,
and made, by dint of cake and pudding, some impression even upon
the affections of my favourite dog: so, when all the outworks
were carried, the mere fortress had no choice but to surrender on
honourable terms. To the best of my thinking, notwithstanding the
cerulean hue of her stockings, and a most plentiful stock of eccentric
affectation, she is really at bottom a good-natured woman, with much
liveliness and some talent. She is now set out to the Highlands, where
she is likely to encounter many adventures. Mrs. Scott and I went as
far as Loch Catrine with her, from which jaunt I have just returned.
We had most heavenly weather, which was peculiarly favourable to my
fair companions' zeal for sketching every object that fell in their
way, from a castle to a pigeon-house. Did your Ladyship ever travel
with a _drawing_ companion? Mine drew like cart-horses, as well in
laborious zeal as in effect; for, after all, I could not help hinting
that the cataracts delineated bore a singular resemblance to haycocks,
and the rocks much correspondence to large old-fashioned cabinets
with their folding-doors open. So much for Lydia, whom I left on her
journey through the Highlands, but by what route she had not resolved.
I gave her three plans, and think it likely she will adopt none
of them: moreover, when the executive government of postilions,
landlords, and Highland boatmen devolves upon her English servant
instead of me, I am afraid the distresses of the errant damsels will
fall a little beneath the dignity of romances. All this nonsense is
_entre nous_, for Miss White has been actively zealous in getting me
some Irish correspondence about Swift, and otherwise very obliging.

It is not with my inclination that I fag for the booksellers; but what
can I do? My poverty and not my will consents. The income of my office
is only reversionary, and my private fortune much limited. My poetical
success fairly destroyed my prospects of professional success, and
obliged me to retire from the bar; for though I had a competent share
of information and industry, who would trust their cause to the author
of the _Lay of the Last Minstrel_? Now, although I do allow that an
author should take care of his literary character, yet I think the
least thing that his literary character can do in return is to take
some care of the author, who is unfortunately, like Jeremy in _Love
for Love_, furnished with a set of tastes and appetites which would
do honour to the income of a Duke if he had it. Besides, I go to work
with Swift _con amore_; for, like Dryden, he is an early favourite
of mine. The _Marmion_ is nearly out, and I have made one or two
alterations on the third edition, with which the press is now
groaning. So soon as it is, it will make the number of copies
published within the space of six months amount to eight thousand,--an
immense number, surely, and enough to comfort the author's wounded
feelings, had the claws of the reviewers been able to reach him
through the _steel jack_ of true Border indifference.



Edinburgh, 13 _Nov._ 1813.

I do not delay, my dear Southey, to say my _gratulor_. Long may you
live, as Paddy says, to rule over us, and to redeem the crown of
Spenser and of Dryden to its pristine dignity. I am only discontented
with the extent of your royal revenue, which I thought had been £400,
or £300 at the very least. Is there no getting rid of that iniquitous
modus, and requiring the _butt_ in kind? I would have you think of it:
I know no man so well entitled to Xeres sack as yourself, though many
bards would make a better figure at drinking it. I should think that
in due time a memorial might get some relief in this part of the
appointment--it should be at least £100 wet and £100 dry. When you
have carried your point of discarding the ode, and my point of getting
the sack, you will be exactly in the situation of Davy in the
farce, who stipulates for more wages, less work, and the key of the
ale-cellar. I was greatly delighted with the circumstances of
your investiture. It reminded me of the porters at Calais with Dr.
Smollett's baggage, six of them seizing upon one small portmanteau,
and bearing it in triumph to his lodgings. You see what it is to
laugh at the superstitions of a gentleman-usher, as I think you do
somewhere. 'The whirligig of Time brings about his revenges.'

Adieu, my dear Southey; my best wishes attend all that you do, and my
best congratulations every good that attends you--yea even this, the
very least of Providence's mercies, as a poor clergyman said when
pronouncing grace over a herring. I should like to know how the prince
received you; his address is said to be excellent, and his knowledge
of literature far from despicable. What a change of fortune even
since the short time when we met! The great work of retribution is now
rolling onward to consummation, yet am I not fully satisfied--_pereat
iste_--there will be no permanent peace in Europe till Buonaparte
sleeps with the tyrants of old.


_A small anonymous sort of a novel_

Edinburgh, 9 _July_, 1814.


I owe you many apologies for not sooner answering your very
entertaining letter upon your Parisian journey. I heartily wish I had
been of your party, for you have seen what I trust will not be seen
again in a hurry; since, to enjoy the delight of a restoration, there
is a necessity for a previous _bouleversement_ of everything that is
valuable in morals and policy which seems to have been the case in
France since 1790. The Duke of Buccleugh told me yesterday of a very
good reply of Louis to some of his attendants, who proposed shutting
the doors of his apartments to keep out the throng of people. 'Open
the door,' he said, 'to John Bull; he has suffered a great deal in
keeping the door open for me.'

Now, to go from one important subject to another, I must account for
my own laziness, which I do by referring you to a small anonymous sort
of a novel, in three volumes, _Waverley_, which you will receive by
the mail of this day. It was a very old attempt of mine to embody some
traits of those characters and manners peculiar to Scotland, the last
remnants of which vanished during my own youth, so that few or no
traces now remain. I had written great part of the first volume, and
sketched other passages, when I mislaid the MS., and only found it by
the merest accident as I was rummaging the drawers of an old cabinet;
and I took the fancy of finishing it, which I did so fast, that the
last two volumes were written in three weeks. I had a great deal of
fun in the accomplishment of this task, though I do not expect that it
will be popular in the south, as much of the humour, if there be any,
is local, and some of it even professional. You, however, who are an
adopted Scotchman, will find some amusement in it. It has made a very
strong impression here, and the good people of Edinburgh are busied in
tracing the author, and in finding out originals for the portraits it
contains. In the first case, they will probably find it difficult to
convict the guilty author, although he is far from escaping suspicion.
Jeffrey has offered to make oath that it is mine, and another great
critic has tendered his affidavit _ex contrario_; so that these
authorities have divided the Gude Town. However, the thing has
succeeded very well, and is thought highly of. I don't know if it has
got to London yet. I intend to maintain my _incognito_. Let me know
your opinion about it....

24 _July_.

... I had just proceeded thus far when your kind favour of the
21st reached Abbotsford. I am heartily glad you continued to like
_Waverley_ to the end. The hero is a sneaking piece of imbecility;
and if he had married Flora, she would have set him up upon the
chimney-piece, as Count Borowlaski's wife used to do with him. I am
a bad hand at depicting a hero properly so called, and have an
unfortunate propensity for the dubious characters of borderers,
buccaneers, Highland robbers, and all others of a Robin-Hood
description. I do not know why it should be, as I am myself, like
Hamlet, indifferent honest; but I suppose the blood of the old
cattle-drivers of Teviotdale continues to stir in my veins.


_Acceptance of a baronetcy_

Edinburgh, 7 _Dec._, 1818.


... There is another thing I have to whisper in your faithful ear. Our
fat friend being desirous to honour Literature in my unworthy person,
has intimated to me, by his organ the Doctor, that, with consent ample
and unanimous of all the potential voices of all his ministers,
each more happy than another of course on so joyful an occasion, he
proposes to dub me Baronet. It would be easy saying a parcel of fine
things about my contempt of rank, and so forth; but although I would
not have gone a step out of my way to have asked, or bought, or
begged, or borrowed a distinction, which to me personally will rather
be inconvenient than otherwise, yet, coming as it does directly from
the source of feudal honours, and as an honour, I am really gratified
with it;--especially as it is intimated, that it is his Royal
Highness's pleasure to heat the oven for me expressly, without waiting
till he has some new _batch_ of Baronets ready in dough. In plain
English, I am to be gazetted _per se_. My poor friend Carpenter's
bequest to my family has taken away a certain degree of
_impecuniosity_, a necessity of saving cheese-parings and candle-ends,
which always looks inconsistent with any little pretension to rank.
But as things now stand, Advance banners in the name of God and St.
Andrew. Remember, I anticipate the jest, 'I like not such grinning
honours, as Sir Walter hath.' After all, if one must speak for
themselves, I have my quarters and emblazonments, free of all stain
but Border theft and High Treason, which I hope are gentleman-like
crimes; and I hope Sir Walter Scott will not sound worse than Sir
Humphry Davy, though my merits are as much under his, in point of
utility, as can well be imagined. But a name is something, and mine
is the better of the two. Set down this flourish to the account
of national and provincial pride, for you must know we have more
Messieurs de Sotenville in our Border counties than anywhere else in
the Lowlands--I cannot say for the Highlands.


_Prince Leopold's visit_

Abbotsford, 3 _Oct._ 1819.


I am honoured with your Buxton letter.... _Anent_ Prince Leopold, I
only heard of his approach at eight o'clock in the morning, and he
was to be at Selkirk by eleven. The magistrates sent to ask me to help
them to receive him. It occurred to me he might be coming to Melrose
to see the Abbey, in which case I could not avoid asking him to
Abbotsford, as he must pass my very door. I mentioned this to Mrs.
Scott, who was lying quietly in bed, and I wish you had heard the
scream she gave on the occasion. 'What have we to offer him?'--'Wine
and cake,' said I, thinking to make all things easy; but she
ejaculated, in a tone of utter despair, 'Cake!! where am I to get
cake?' However, being partly consoled with the recollection that his
visit was a very improbable incident, and curiosity, as usual, proving
too strong for alarm, she set out with me in order not to miss a peep
of the great man. James Skene and his lady were with us, and we gave
our carriages such additional dignity as a pair of leaders could add,
and went to meet him in full puff. The Prince very civilly told me,
that, though he could not see Melrose on this occasion, he wished to
come to Abbotsford for an hour. New despair on the part of Mrs. Scott,
who began to institute a domiciliary search for cold meat through the
whole city of Selkirk, which produced _one shoulder of cold lamb_. In
the meanwhile, his Royal Highness received the civic honours of the
BIRSE[1] very graciously. I had hinted to Bailie Lang, that it ought
only to be licked _symbolically_ on the present occasion; so he
flourished it three times before his mouth, but without touching it
with his lips, and the Prince followed his example as directed. Lang
made an excellent speech, sensible, and feeling, and well delivered.
The Prince seemed much surprised at this great propriety of expression
and behaviour in a magistrate, whose people seemed such a rabble, and
whose whole band of music consisted in a drum and fife. He noticed to
Bailie Anderson, that Selkirk seemed very populous in proportion
to its extent. 'On an occasion like this it seems so,' answered the
Bailie, neatly enough I thought. I question if any magistrates in the
kingdom, lord mayors and aldermen not excepted, could have behaved
with more decent and quiet good-breeding. Prince Leopold repeatedly
alluded to this during the time he was at Abbotsford. I do not know
how Mrs. Scott ultimately managed; but with broiled salmon, and
black-cock, and partridges, she gave him a very decent lunch; and I
chanced to have some very fine old hock, which was mighty germain to
the matter.

The Prince seems melancholy, whether naturally or from habit, I do not
pretend to say; but I do not remember thinking him so at Paris, where
I saw him frequently, then a much poorer man than myself; yet he
showed some humour, for alluding to the crowds that followed him
everywhere, he mentioned some place where he had gone out to shoot,
but was afraid to proceed for fear of 'bagging a boy'. He said
he really thought of getting some shooting-place in Scotland, and
promised me a longer visit on his return. If I had had a day's
notice to have _warned the waters_, we could have met him with a very
respectable number of the gentry; but there was no time for this, and
probably he liked it better as it was. There was only young Clifton
who could have come, and he was shy and cubbish, and would not, though
requested by the Selkirk people. He was perhaps ashamed to march
through Coventry with them. It hung often and sadly on my mind that
_he_ was wanting who could and would have received him like a Prince
indeed; and yet the meeting betwixt them, had they been fated to meet,
would have been a very sad one. I think I have now given your
lordship a very full, true, and particular account of our royal visit,
unmatched even by that of King Charles at the Castle of Tillietudlem.
That we did not speak of it for more than a week after it happened,
and that that emphatic monosyllable, _The Prince_, is not heard
amongst us more than ten times a-day, is, on the whole, to the credit
of my family's understanding. The piper is the only one whose brain he
seems to have endangered; for, as the Prince said he preferred him to
any he had heard in the Highlands--(which, by the way, shows his
Royal Highness knows nothing of the matter),--the fellow seems to have
become incapable of his ordinary occupation as a forester, and has cut
stick and stem without remorse to the tune of _Phail Phranse_, i.e.
the Prince's welcome.

[Footnote 1: Bundle of hog's bristles; symbol of the soutars.]


_Progress at Abbotsford_

Abbotsford, 10 _Nov_. 1822.

My dear Terry,

I got all the plans safe, and they are delightful. The library
ceiling will be superb, and we have plenty of ornaments for it without
repeating one of those in the eating-room. The plan of shelves is also
excellent, and will, I think, for a long time suffice my collection.
The brasses for the shelves I like--but not the price: the notched
ones, after all, do very well. I have had three grand hawls since I
last wrote to you. The pulpit, repentance-stool, King's seat, and
God knows how much of carved wainscot, from the kirk of Dunfermline,
enough to coat the hall to the height of seven feet:--supposing
it boarded above, for hanging guns, old portraits, intermixed with
armour, &c.--it will be a superb entrance-gallery: this is hawl the
first. Hawl second is twenty-four pieces of the most splendid Chinese
paper, twelve feet high by four wide, a present from my cousin Hugh
Scott, enough to finish the drawing-room and two bedrooms. Hawl third
is a quantity of what is called Jamaica cedar-wood, enough for fitting
up both the drawing-room and the library, including the presses,
shelves, &c.: the wood is finely pencilled and most beautiful,
something like the colour of gingerbread; it costs very little more
than oak, works much easier, and is never touched by vermin of any
kind. I sent Mr. Atkinson a specimen, but it was from the plain end of
the plank; the interior is finely waved and variegated. Your kind
and unremitting exertions in our favour will soon plenish the
drawing-room. Thus we at present stand. We have a fine old English
cabinet, with china, &c.-and two superb elbow-chairs, the gift of
Constable, carved most magnificently, with groups of children, fruit,
and flowers, in the Italian taste: they came from Rome, and are much
admired. It seems to me that the mirror you mention, being framed in
carved box, would answer admirably well with the chairs, which are of
the same material. The mirror should, I presume, be placed over
the drawing-room chimney-piece; and opposite to it I mean to put an
antique table of mosaic marbles, to support Chantrey's bust. A good
sofa would be desirable, and so would the tapestry screen, if really
fresh and beautiful; but as much of our furniture will be a little
antiquated, one would not run too much into that taste in so small an
apartment. For the library I have the old oak chairs now in the little
armoury, eight in number, and we might add one or two pair of the
ebony chairs you mention. I should think this enough, for many seats
in such a room must impede access to the books; and I don't mean
the library to be on ordinary occasions a public room. Perhaps the
tapestry-screen would suit better here than in the drawing-room. I
have one library table here, and shall have another made for atlases
and prints. For the hall I have four chairs of black oak. In other
matters we can make it out well enough. In fact, it is my object
rather to keep under my new accommodations at first, both to avoid
immediate outlay, and that I may leave room for pretty things which
may occur hereafter. I would to Heaven I could take a cruise with you
through the brokers, which would be the pleasantest affair possible,
only I am afraid I should make a losing voyage of it. Mr. Atkinson has
missed a little my idea of the oratory, fitting it up entirely as
a bookcase, whereas I should like to have had recesses for
curiosities--for the Bruce's skull--for a crucifix, &c., &c.-in short,
a little cabinet instead of a book-closet. Four sides of books would
be perfectly sufficient; the other four, so far as not occupied by
door or window, should be arranged tastefully for antiquities, &c.,
like the inside of an antique cabinet, with drawers, and shottles, and
funny little arches. The oak screen dropped as from the clouds: it is
most acceptable; I might have guessed there was only one kind friend
so ready to supply hay to my hobby-horse. You have my views in these
matters and your own taste; and I will send the _needful_ when
you apprise me of the amount total. Where things are not quite
satisfactory, it is better to wait a while on every account, for the
amusement is over when one has room for nothing more. The house is
completely roofed, &c., and looks worthy of Mrs. Terry's painting. I
never saw anything handsomer than the grouping of towers, chimneys,
&c. upon the roof, when seen at a proper distance.

Once more, let me wish you joy of your professional success. I can
judge, by a thousand minute items, of the advance you make with the
public, just as I can of the gradual progress of my trees, because I
am interested in both events. You may say, like Burke, you were not
'coaxed and dandled into eminence' but have fought your way gallantly,
shown your passport at every barrier, and been always a step in
advance, without a single retrograde movement. Every one wishes to
advance rapidly, but when the desired position is gained, it is far
more easily maintained by him whose ascent has been gradual, and whose
favour is founded not on the unreasonable expectations entertained
from one or two seasons, but from an habitual experience of the power
of pleasing during several years. You say not a word of poor Wattles.
I hope little Miss has not put his nose out of joint entirely.

I have not been very well--a whoreson thickness of blood, and a
depression of spirits arising from the loss of friends (to whom I
am now to add poor Wedderburne), have annoyed me much; and _Peveril_
will, I fear, smell of the apoplexy. I propose a good rally, however,
and hope it will be a powerful effect. My idea is, _entre nous_, a
Scotch archer in the French King's guard, _tempore_ Louis XI, the most
picturesque of all times.


_A brave face to the world_

Edinburgh, 6 _Feb._ 1826.


It is very true I have been, and am in danger, of a pecuniary loss,
and probably a very large one, which in the uncertainty I look at as
to the full extent, being the manly way of calculating such matters,
since one may be better, but can hardly be worse. I can't say I
feel overjoyed at losing a large sum of hard-earned money in a most
unexpected manner, for all men considered Constable's people secure as
the Bank; yet, as I have obtained an arrangement of payment convenient
for every body concerned, and easy for myself, I cannot say that I
care much about the matter. Some economical restrictions I will make;
and it happened oddly that they were such as Lady Scott and myself
had almost determined upon without this compulsion. Abbotsford will
henceforth be our only establishment; and during the time I must be
in town, I will take my bed at the Albyn Club. We shall also break
off the rather excessive hospitality to which we were exposed, and no
longer stand host and hostess to all that do pilgrimage to Melrose.
Then I give up an expensive farm, which I always hated, and turn
all my odds and ends into cash. I do not reckon much on my literary
exertions--I mean in proportion to former success--because popular
taste may fluctuate. But with a moderate degree of the favour which
I have always had, my time my own, and my mind unplagued about other
things, I may boldly promise myself soon to get the better of this
blow. In these circumstances, I should be unjust and ungrateful to ask
or accept the pity of my friends. I for one, do not see there is much
occasion for making moan about it. My womankind will be the greater
sufferers,--yet even they look cheerily forward; and, for myself, the
blowing off my hat in a stormy day has given me more uneasiness.

I envy your Brighton party, and your fine weather. When I was at
Abbotsford the mercury was down at six or seven in the morning more
than once. I am hammering away at a bit of a story from the old affair
of the _diablerie_ at Woodstock in the Long Parliament times. I don't
like it much. I am obliged to hamper my fanatics greatly too much
to make them effective; but I make the sacrifice on principle; so,
perhaps, I shall deserve good success in other parts of the work.
You will be surprised when I tell you that I have written a volume in
exactly fifteen days. To be sure, I permitted no interruptions. But
then I took exercise, and for ten days of the fifteen attended the
Court of Session from two to four hours every day. This is nothing,
however, to writing _Ivanhoe_ when I had the actual cramp in my
stomach; but I have no idea of these things preventing a man
from doing what he has a mind. My love to all the party at
Brighton--fireside party I had almost said, but you scorn my
words--seaside party then be it. Lady Scott and Anne join in kindest
love. I must close my letter, for one of the consequences of our
misfortunes is, that we dine every day at half-past four o'clock;
which premature hour arises, I suppose, from sorrow being hungry as
well as thirsty. One most laughable part of our tragic comedy was,
that every friend in the world came formally, just as they do here
when a relation dies, thinking that the eclipse of _les beaux yeux de
ma cassette_ was perhaps a loss as deserving of consolation.


_Time's revenges_

Edinburgh, 23 _June_, 1830.


Nothing would be so valuable to me as the mark of kindness which you
offer, and yet my kennel is so much changed since I had the pleasure
of seeing you, that I must not accept of what I wished so sincerely
to possess. I am the happy owner of two of the noble breed, each of
gigantic size, and the gift of that sort of Highlander whom we call a
High Chief, so I would hardly be justified in parting with them even
to make room for your kind present, and I should have great doubts
whether the mountaineers would receive the Irish stranger with due
hospitality. One of them I had from poor Glengarry, who, with all the
wild and fierce points of his character, had a kind, honest, and
warm heart. The other from a young friend, whom Highlanders call
MacVourigh, and Lowlanders MacPherson of Cluny. He is a fine spirited
boy, fond of his people and kind to them, and the best dancer of a
Highland reel now living. I fear I must not add a third to Nimrod and
Bran, having little use for them except being pleasant companions. As
to labouring in their vocation, we have only one wolf which I know
of, kept in a friend's menagerie near me, and no wild deer. Walter
has some roebucks indeed, but Lochore is far off, and I begin to
feel myself distressed at running down these innocent and beautiful
creatures, perhaps because I cannot gallop so fast after them as to
drown sense of the pain we are inflicting. And yet I suspect I am like
the sick fox; and if my strength and twenty years could come back, I
would become again a copy of my namesake, remembered by the sobriquet
of Walter _ill tae hauld_ (to hold, that is). 'But age has clawed
me in its clutch,' and there is no remedy for increasing disability
except dying, which is an awkward score.

There is some chance of my retiring from my official situation upon
the changes in the Court of Session. They cannot reduce my office,
though they do not wish to fill it up with a new occupant. I shall be
therefore _de trop_; and in these days of economy they will be better
pleased to let me retire on three parts of my salary than to keep me a
Clerk of Session on the whole; and small grief at our parting, as the
old horse said to the broken cart. And yet, though I thought such a
proposal when first made was like a Pisgah peep at Paradise, I cannot
help being a little afraid of changing the habits of a long life all
of a sudden and for ever. You ladies have always your work-basket and
stocking-knitting to wreak an hour of tediousness upon. The routine of
business serves, I suspect, for the same purpose to us male wretches;
it is seldom a burden to the mind, but a something which must be done,
and is done almost mechanically; and though dull judges and duller
clerks, the routine of law proceedings, and law forms, are very unlike
the plumed troops and the tug of war, yet the result is the same.
The occupation's gone. The morning, that the day's news must all be
gathered from other sources--that the jokes which the principal Clerks
of Session have laughed at weekly for a century, and which would not
move a muscle of any other person's face, must be laid up to perish
like those of Sancho in the Sierra Morena--I don't above half like
forgetting all these moderate habits, and yet

  Ah, freedom is a noble thing!

as says the old Scottish poet. So I will cease my regrets, or lay them
by to be taken up and used as arguments of comfort, in case I do not
slip my cable after all, which is highly possible. Lockhart and Sophia
have taken up their old residence at Chiefswood. They are very fond of
the place; and I am glad also my grandchildren will be bred near the
heather, for certain qualities which I think are best taught there.




_A sympathetic reply_[1]

28 _Sept._ 1796.

Your letter, my friend, struck me with a mighty horror. It rushed upon
me and stupefied my feelings. You bid me write you a religious letter;
I am not a man who would attempt to insult the greatness of your
anguish by any other consolation. Heaven knows that in the easiest
fortunes there is much dissatisfaction and weariness of spirit:
much that calls for the exercise of patience and resignation; but
in storms, like these, that shake the dwelling and make the heart
tremble, there is no middle way between despair and the yielding up of
the whole spirit unto the guidance of faith. And surely it is a matter
of joy, that your faith in Jesus has been preserved; the Comforter
that should relieve you is not far from you. But as you are a
Christian, in the name of that Saviour, who was filled with bitterness
and made drunken with wormwood, I conjure you to have recourse in
frequent prayer to 'his God and your God'; the God of mercies, and
father of all comfort. Your poor father is, I hope, almost senseless
of the calamity; the unconscious instrument of Divine Providence knows
it not, and your mother is in heaven. It is sweet to be roused from
a frightful dream by the song of birds, and the gladsome rays of
the morning. Ah, how infinitely more sweet to be awakened from the
blackness and amazement of a sudden horror by the glories of God
manifest and the hallelujahs of angels.

As to what regards yourself, I approve altogether of your abandoning
what you justly call vanities. I look upon you as a man called by
sorrow and anguish and a strange desolation of hopes into quietness,
and a soul set apart and made peculiar to God. We cannot arrive at any
portion of heavenly bliss without in some measure imitating Christ;
and they arrive at the largest inheritance who imitate the most
difficult parts of His character, and, bowed down and crushed under
foot, cry in fullness of faith, 'Father, Thy will be done.'

I wish above measure to have you for a little while here--no visitants
shall blow on the nakedness of your feelings--you shall be quiet, and
your spirit may be healed. I see no possible objection, unless your
father's helplessness prevent you, and unless you are necessary to
him. If this be not the case, I charge you write me that you will

I charge you, my dearest friend, not to dare to encourage gloom or
despair--you are a temporary sharer in human miseries, that you may
be an eternal partaker of the Divine nature. I charge you, if by any
means it be possible, come to me.

[Footnote 1: See Letter, p. 355.]


_Literary adventurers_



Neither Wordsworth nor myself could have been otherwise than
uncomfortable, if any but yourself had received from us the first
offer of our tragedies, and of the volume of Wordsworth's poems. At
the same time, we did not expect that you could with prudence and
propriety, advance such a sum as we should want at the time we
specified. In short, we both regard the publication of our tragedies
as an evil. It is not impossible but that in happier times they may be
brought on the stage: and to throw away this chance for a mere trifle,
would be to make the present moment act fraudulently and usuriously
towards the future time.

My tragedy employed and strained all my thoughts and faculties for
six or seven months; Wordsworth consumed far more time, and far more
thought, and far more genius. We consider the publication of them
an evil on any terms; but our thoughts were bent on a plan for the
accomplishment of which a certain sum of money was necessary, (the
whole) at that particular time, and in order to do this we resolved,
although reluctantly, to part with our tragedies: that is, if we
could obtain thirty guineas for each, and at less than thirty guineas
Wordsworth will not part with the copyright of his volume of poems. We
shall offer the tragedies to no one, for we have determined to procure
the money some other way. If you choose the volume of poems, at
the price mentioned, to be paid at the time specified, i.e. thirty
guineas, to be paid sometime in the last fortnight of July, you may
have them; but remember, my dear fellow! I write to you now merely as
a bookseller, and entreat you, in your answer, to consider yourself
only; as to us, although money is necessary to our plan [that of
visiting Germany], yet the plan is not necessary to our happiness; and
if it were, W. would sell his poems for that sum to some one else,
or we could procure the money without selling the poems. So I entreat
you, again and again, in your answer, which must be immediate,
consider yourself only.

Wordsworth has been caballed against _so long and so loudly_, that
he has found it impossible to prevail on the tenant of the Allfoxden
estate to let him the house, after their first agreement is expired,
so he must quit it at midsummer; whether we shall be able to procure
him a house and furniture near Stowey, we know not, and yet we must:
for the hills, and the woods, and the streams, and the sea, and the
shores would break forth into reproaches against us, if we did not
strain every nerve to keep their poet among them. Without joking, and
in serious sadness, Poole and I cannot endure to think of losing him.

At all events, come down, Cottle, as soon as you can, but before
midsummer, and we will procure a horse easy as thy own soul, and we
will go on a roam to Lynton and Lynmouth, which, if thou comest in
May, will be in all their pride of woods and waterfalls, not to speak
of its august cliffs, and the green ocean, and the vast valley of
stones, all which live disdainful of the seasons, or accept new
honours only from the winter's snow. At all events come down, and
cease not to believe me much and affectionately your friend.


_A public example_

Bristol, 26 _June_, 1814.


For I am unworthy to call any good man friend--much less you, whose
hospitality and love I have abused; accept, however, my entreaties for
your forgiveness, and for your prayers.

Conceive a poor miserable wretch, who for many years has been
attempting to beat off pain, by a constant recurrence to the vice that
reproduces it. Conceive a spirit in hell, employed in tracing out for
others the road to that heaven, from which his crimes exclude him! In
short, conceive whatever is most wretched, helpless, and hopeless, and
you will form as tolerable a notion of my state, as it is possible for
a good man to have.

I used to think the text in St. James that 'he who offendeth in one
point, offends in all,' very harsh; but I now feel the awful, the
tremendous truth of it. In the one crime of OPIUM, what crime have
I not made myself guilty of! Ingratitude to my Maker! and to my
benefactors--injustice! _and unnatural cruelty to my poor children!
_--self-contempt for my repeated promise-breach, nay, too often,
actual falsehood!

After my death, I earnestly entreat that a full and unqualified
narration of my wretchedness, and of its guilty cause, may be made
public, that, at least, some little good may be effected by the
direful example!

May God Almighty bless you, and have mercy on your still affectionate,
and, in his heart, grateful



_Himself and his detractors_

2 _Dec._ 1818.


I cannot express how kind I felt your letter. Would to Heaven I had
had many with feelings like yours, 'accustomed to express themselves
warmly and (as far as the word is applicable to you), even
enthusiastically'. But alas! during the prime manhood of my intellect
I had nothing but cold water thrown on my efforts. I speak not now of
my systematic and most unprovoked maligners. On _them_ I have retorted
only by pity and by prayer. These may have, and doubtless have, joined
with the frivolity of 'the reading public' in checking and almost in
preventing the sale of my works; and so far have done injury to
my _purse_. _Me_ they have not injured. But I have loved with
enthusiastic self-oblivion those who have been so well pleased that
I should, year after year, flow with a hundred nameless rills into
_their_ main stream, that they could find nothing but cold praise and
effective discouragement of every attempt of mine to roll onward in a
distinct current of my own; who _admitted_ that the _Ancient Mariner_,
the _Christabel_, the _Remorse_, and some pages of the _Friend_
were not without merit, but were abundantly anxious to acquit their
judgements of any blindness to the very numerous defects. Yet they
_knew_ that to _praise_, as mere praise, I was characteristically,
almost constitutionally, indifferent. In sympathy alone I found at
once nourishment and stimulus; and for sympathy _alone_ did my heart
crave. They knew, too, how long and faithfully I have acted on the
maxim, never to admit the _faults_ of a work of genius to those who
denied or were incapable of feeling and understanding the _beauties_;
not from wilful partiality, but as well knowing that in _saying_ truth
I should, to such critics, convey falsehood. If, in one instance, in
my literary life I have appeared to deviate from this rule, first,
it was not till the fame of the writer (which I had been for fourteen
years successfully toiling like a second Ali to build up) had been
established; and secondly and chiefly, with the purpose and, I may
safely add, with the _effect_ of rescuing the necessary task from
Malignant Defamers, and in order to set forth the excellences and the
trifling proportion which the defects bore to the excellences. But
this, my dear sir, is a mistake to which affectionate natures are too
liable, though I do not remember to have ever seen it noticed--the
mistaking those who are desirous and well pleased to be loved _by_
you, for those who love you. Add, as a more general cause, the fact
that I neither am nor ever have been of any party. What wonder, then,
if I am left to decide which has been my worst enemy, the broad,
pre-determined abuse of the _Edinburgh Review_, &c., or the cold and
brief compliments, with the warm _regrets_, of the _Quarterly_? After
all, however, I have now but one sorrow relative to the ill success of
my literary toils (and toils they have been, _though not undelightful
toils_), and this arises wholly from the almost insurmountable
difficulties which the anxieties of to-day oppose to my completion
of the great work, the form and materials of which it has been the
employment of the best and most genial hours of the last twenty years
to mature and collect.

If I could but have a tolerably numerous audience to my first, or
first and second Lectures on the _History of Philosophy_, I should
entertain a strong hope of success, because I know that these lectures
will be found by far the most interesting and _entertaining_ of any
that I have yet delivered, independent of the more permanent interest
of rememberable instruction. Few and unimportant would the errors of
men be, if they did but know, first, _what they themselves meant_;
and, secondly, what the _words_ mean by which they attempt to convey
their meaning, and I can conceive no subject so well fitted to
exemplify the mode and the importance of these two points as the
History of Philosophy, treated as in the scheme of these lectures.


_The Great Work described_

_Jan._ 1821.

... I have already the _written_ materials and contents, requiring
only to be put together from the loose papers and commonplace or
memorandum books, and needing no other change, whether of omission,
addition, or correction, than the mere act of arranging, and the
opportunity of seeing the whole collectively bring with them of course
(1) Characteristics of Shakespeare's dramatic works, with a critical
review of each play; together with a relative and comparative critique
on the kind and degree of the merits and demerits of the dramatic
works of Ben Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher, and Massinger. The
History of the English Drama; the accidental advantages it afforded
to Shakespeare, without in the least detracting from the perfect
originality or proper creation of the Shakespearian Drama; the
contradistinction of the latter from the Greek Drama, and its still
remaining _uniqueness_, with the causes of this, from the combined
influences of Shakespeare himself, as man, poet, philosopher, and
finally, by conjunction of all these, dramatic poet; and of the age,
events, manners, and state of the English language. This work, with
every art of compression, amounts to three volumes of about five
hundred pages each. (2) Philosophical Analysis of the Genius and Works
of Dante, Spenser, Milton, Cervantes, and Calderon, with similar, but
more compressed criticisms on Chaucer, Ariosto, Donne, Rabelais, and
others, during the predominance of the Romantic Poetry. In one large
volume. These two works will, I flatter myself, form a complete code
of the principles of judgement and feeling applied to works of Taste;
and not of Poetry only, but of Poesy in all its forms, Painting,
Statuary, Music, &c., &c. (3) The History of Philosophy considered
as a Tendency of the Human Mind to exhibit the Powers of the Human
Reason, to discover by its own Strength the Origin and Laws of Man and
the World, from Pythagoras to Locke and Condillac. Two volumes.
(4) Letters on the Old and New Testament, and on the Doctrine
and Principles held in common by the Fathers and Founders of the
Reformation, addressed to a candidate for Holy Orders, including
advice on the Plan and Subjects of Preaching, proper to a Minister of
the Established Church.

To the completion of these four works, I have literally nothing more
to do than to _transcribe_; but, as I before hinted, from so many
scraps and _sibylline_ leaves, including margins of books and blank
pages, that, unfortunately, I must be my own scribe, and not done by
myself, they will be all but lost; or perhaps (as has been too often
the case already) furnish feathers for the caps of others; some for
this purpose, and some to plume the arrows of detraction, to be let
fly against the luckless bird from whom they had been plucked or

In addition to these--of my GREAT WORK, to the preparation of which
more than twenty years of my life have been devoted, and on which
my hopes of extensive and permanent utility, of fame, in the noblest
sense of the word, mainly rest--that, by which I might,

  As now by thee, by all the good be known,
  When this weak frame lies moulder'd in the grave,
  Which self-surviving I might call my own,
  Which folly cannot mar, nor hate deprave--
  The incense of those powers, which, risen in flame,
  Might make me dear to Him from whom they came.

Of this work, to which all my other writings (unless I except my
Poems, and these I can exclude in part only) are introductory and
preparative; and the result of which (if the premises be, as I, with
the most tranquil assurance, am convinced they are--insubvertible,
the deductions legitimate, and the conclusions commensurate, and only
commensurate, with both) must finally be a revolution of all that has
been called _philosophy_ or metaphysics in England and France, since
the era of the commencing predominance of the mechanical system at
the restoration of our second Charles, and with this the present
fashionable views, not only of religion, morals, and politics but
even of the modern physics and physiology. You will not blame the
earnestness of my expressions, nor the high importance which I attach
to this work: for how, with less noble objects, and less faith in
their attainment, could I stand acquitted of folly, and abuse of time,
talents, and learning in a labour of three-fourths of my intellectual
life? Of this work, something more than a volume has been dictated
by me, so as to exist fit for the press, to my friend and enlightened
pupil, Mr. Green; and more than as much again would have been evolved
and delivered to paper, but that, for the last six or eight months,
I have been compelled to break off our weekly meeting, from the
necessity of writing (alas! alas! of attempting to write) for
purposes, and on the subjects, of the passing day. Of my poetic works
I would fain finish the _Christabel_! Alas! for the proud time when I
planned, when I had present to my mind, the materials, as well as
the scheme, of the Hymns entitled _Spirit_, _Sun_, _Earth_, _Air_,
_Water_, _Fire_ and _Man_; and the Epic Poem on what still appears
to me the one only fit subject remaining for an epic poem--Jerusalem
besieged and destroyed by Titus.



4 March, 1822.

My Dearest Friend,

I have been much more than ordinarily unwell for more than a week
past--my sleeps worse than my vigils, my nights than my days;

  --The night's dismay
  Sadden'd and stunned the intervening day;

but last night I had not only a calmer night, without roaming in my
dreams through any of Swedenborg's Hells _modérés_; but arose this
morning lighter and with a sense of _relief_....

I shall make you smile, as I did dear Mary Lamb, when I say that you
sometimes mistake my position. As individual to individual, from
my childhood, I do not remember feeling myself either superior or
inferior to any human being; except by an act of my own will in cases
of real or imagined moral or intellectual superiority. In regard to
worldly rank, from eight years old to nineteen, I was habituated,
nay, naturalised, to look up to men circumstanced as you are, as my
superiors--a large number of our governors, and almost _all_ of those
whom we regarded as greater men still, and whom we saw most of, _viz._
our committee governors, were such--and as neither awake nor asleep
have I any other feelings than what I had at Christ's Hospital,
I distinctly remember that I felt a little flush of pride and
consequence--just like what we used to feel at school when the boys
came running to us--'Coleridge! here's your friends want you--they are
quite _grand_,' or 'It is quite a _lady_'--when I first heard who you
were, and laughed at myself for it with that pleasurable sensation
that, spite of my sufferings at that school, still accompanies any
sudden reawakening of our school-boy feelings and notions. And oh,
from sixteen to nineteen what hours of Paradise had Allen and I in
escorting the Miss Evanses home on a Saturday, who were then at a
milliner's whom we used to think, and who I believe really was, such
a nice lady;--and we used to carry thither, of a summer morning, the
pillage of the flower gardens within six miles of town, with Sonnet
or Love Rhyme wrapped round the nose-gay. To be feminine, kind, and
genteelly (what I should now call neatly) dressed, these were the only
things to which my head, heart, or imagination had any polarity, and
what I was then, I still am.

God bless you and yours.




_Question of copyrights_

Greta Hall, 20 _April_, 1808.

My dear Cottle,...

What you say of my copyrights affected me very much. Dear Cottle, set
your heart at rest on that subject. It ought to be at rest. These were
yours, fairly bought, and fairly sold. You bought them on the chance
of their success, which no London bookseller would have done; and had
they not been bought, they could not have been published at all. Nay,
if you had not purchased _Joan of Arc_, the poem never would have
existed, nor should I, in all probability, ever have obtained that
reputation which is the capital on which I subsist, nor that power
which enables me to support it.

But this is not all. Do you suppose, Cottle, that I have forgotten
those true and most essential acts of friendship which you showed me
when I stood most in need of them? Your house was my house when I had
no other. The very money with which I bought my wedding-ring, and paid
my marriage fees, was supplied by you. It was with your sisters I left
Edith during my six months' absence, and for the six months after my
return it was from you that I received, week by week, the little on
which we lived, till I was enabled to live by other means. It is not
the settling of a cash account that can cancel obligations like these.
You are in the habit of preserving your letters, and if you were
not, I would entreat you to preserve _this_, that it might be seen
hereafter. Sure I am, there never was a more generous or a kinder
heart than yours; and you will believe me when I add, that there does
not live that man upon earth, whom I remember with more gratitude
and more affection. My heart throbs and my eyes burn with these
recollections. Good night! my dear old friend and benefactor.



Liège, 6 _Oct._ 1815. Six p.m.

My dear friend,

I have a happy habit of making the best of all things; and being just
at this time as uncomfortable as the dust and bustle, and all the
disagreeables of an inn in a large filthy manufacturing city can make
me, I have called for pen, ink, and paper, and am actually writing in
the bar, the door open to the yard opposite to this unwiped table, the
doors open to the public room, where two men are dining, and talking
French, and a woman servant at my elbow is lighting a fire for our
party. Presently the folding-doors are to be shut, the ladies are to
descend from their chambers, the bar will be kept appropriated to our
house, the male part of the company will get into good humour, dinner
will be ready, and then I must lay aside the grey goose-quill. As a
preliminary to these promised comforts, the servant is mopping the
hearth, which is composed (like a tesselated pavement) of little
bricks about two inches long by half an inch wide, set within a broad
black stone frame. The fuel is of fire-balls, a mixture of pulverized
coal and clay. I have seen a great deal and heard a great deal,--more,
indeed, than I can keep pace with in my journal, though I strive hard
to do it; but I minute down short notes in my pencil-book with all
possible care, and hope, in the end, to lose nothing....

Flanders is a most interesting country. Bruges, the most striking city
I have ever seen, an old city in perfect preservation. It seems as if
not a house had been built during the last two centuries, and not a
house suffered to pass to decay. The poorest people seem to be well
lodged, and there is a general air of sufficiency, cleanliness,
industry, and comfort, which I have never seen in any other place. The
cities have grown worse as we advanced. At Namur we reached a dirty
city, situated in a romantic country; the Meuse there reminded me of
the Thames from your delightful house, an island in size and shape
resembling that upon which I have often wished for a grove of poplars,
coming just in the same position. From thence along the river to this
abominable place, the country is, for the greater part, as lovely as
can be imagined....

Our weather hitherto has been delightful. This was especially
fortunate at Waterloo and at Ligny, where we had much ground to walk
over. It would surprise you to see how soon nature has recovered from
the injuries of war. The ground is ploughed and sown, and grain and
flowers and seeds already growing over the field of battle, which is
still strewn with vestiges of the slaughter, caps, cartridges, boxes,
hats, &c. We picked up some French cards and some bullets, and we
purchased a French pistol and two of the eagles which the infantry
wear upon their caps. What I felt upon this ground, it would be
difficult to say; what I saw, and still more what I heard, there is no
time at present for saying. In prose and in verse you shall some day
hear the whole. At Les Quatre Bras, I saw two graves, which probably
the dogs or the swine had opened. In the one were the ribs of a human
body, projecting through the mould; in the other, the whole skeleton
exposed. Some of our party told me of a third, in which the worms were
at work, but I shrunk from the sight. You will rejoice to hear that
the English are as well spoken of for their deportment in peace as in
war. It is far otherwise with the Prussians. Concerning them there is
but one opinion; their brutality is said to exceed that of the French,
and of their intolerable insolence I have heard but too many proofs.
That abominable old Frederic made them a military nation, and this is
the inevitable consequence. This very day we passed a party on their
way towards France--some hundred or two. Two gentlemen and two ladies
of the country, in a carriage, had come up with them; and these
ruffians would not allow them to pass, but compelled them to wait and
follow the slow pace of foot soldiers! This we ourselves saw. Next to
the English, the Belgians have the best character for discipline....

I bought at Bruges a French History of Brazil, just published by M.
Alphonse de Beauchamp, in 3 vols. 8vo. He says, in his Preface, that
having finished the first two volumes, he thought it advisable to see
if any new light had been thrown upon the subject by modern authors.
Meantime, a compilation upon this history had appeared in England,
but the English author, Mr. Southey, had brought no new lights; he had
promised much for his second volume, but the hope of literary Europe
had been again deceived, for this second volume, so emphatically
promised, had not appeared. I dare say no person regrets this delay
so much as M. Beauchamp, he having stolen the whole of his two first
volumes, and about the third part of the other, from the very Mr.
Southey whom he abuses. He has copied my references as the list of his
own authorities (MSS. and all), and he has committed blunders which
prove, beyond all doubt, that he does not understand Portuguese. I
have been much diverted by this fellow's impudence.

The table is laid, and the knives and forks rattling a pleasant note
of preparation, as the woman waiter arranges them.

God bless you! I have hurried through the sheet, and thus pleasantly
beguiled what would have been a very unpleasant hour. We are all well,
and your god-daughter has seen a live emperor at Brussels. I feel the
disadvantage of speaking French ill, and understanding it by the ear
worse. Nevertheless, I speak it without remorse, make myself somehow
or other understood, and get at what I want to know. Once more, God
bless you, my dear friend.


_Anastasius Hope_

Keswick, 15 _July_, 1831.

... Have you seen the strange book which Anastasius Hope left
for publication, and which his representatives, in spite of all
dissuasion, have published? His notion of immortality and heaven is,
that at the consummation of all things he, and you, and I, and John
Murray, and Nebuchadnezzar, and Lambert the fat man, and the living
skeleton, and Queen Elizabeth, and the Hottentot Venus, and Thurtell,
and Probert, and the twelve Apostles, and the noble army of martyrs,
and Genghis Khan, and all his armies, and Noah with all his ancestors
and all his posterity--yea, all men and all women, and all children
that have ever been or ever shall be, saints and sinners alike--are
all to be put together, and made into one great celestial eternal
human being. He does not seem to have known how nearly this approaches
to Swedenborg's fancy. I do not like the scheme. I don't like the
notion of being mixed up with Hume, and Hunt, and Whittle Harvey, and
Philpotts, and Lord Althorpe, and the Huns, and the Hottentots, and
the Jews, and the Philistines, and the Scotch, and the Irish. God
forbid! I hope to be I myself; I, in an English heaven, with you
yourself--you, and some others, without whom heaven would be no heaven
to me. God bless you!


_Recollections of the Lambs_

Keswick, 2 _Feb._ 1836.

My dear sir,

I have been too closely engaged in clearing off the second volume of
Cowper to reply to your inquiries concerning poor Lamb sooner. His
acquaintance with Coleridge began at Christ's Hospital; Lamb was
some two years, I think, his junior. Whether he was ever one of the
_Grecians_ there, might be ascertained, I suppose, by inquiring. My
own impression is, that he was not. Coleridge introduced me to him
in the winter of 1794-5, and to George Dyer also, from whom, if his
memory has not failed, you might probably learn more of Lamb's early
history than from any other person. Lloyd, Wordsworth, and Hazlitt
became known to him through their connexion with Coleridge.

When I saw the family (one evening only, and at that time), they were
lodging somewhere near Lincoln's Inn, on the western side (I forget
the street), and were evidently in uncomfortable circumstances. The
father and mother were both living; and I have some dim recollection
of the latter's invalid appearance. The father's senses had failed him
before that time. He published some poems in quarto. Lamb showed me
once an imperfect copy: the _Sparrow's Wedding_ was the title of the
longest piece, and this was the author's favourite; he liked, in his
dotage, to hear Charles read it.

His most familiar friend, when I first saw him, was White, who held
some office at Christ's Hospital, and continued intimate with him as
long as he lived. You know what Elia says of him. He and Lamb were
joint authors of the _Original Letters of Falstaff_. Lamb, I believe,
first appeared as an author in the second edition of Coleridge's
_Poems_ (Bristol, 1797), and, secondly, in the little volume of blank
verse with Lloyd (1798). Lamb, Lloyd, and White were inseparable in
1798; the two latter at one time lodged together, though no two men
could be imagined more unlike each other. Lloyd had no drollery in his
nature; White seemed to have nothing else. You will easily understand
how Lamb could sympathize with both.

Lloyd, who used to form sudden friendships, was all but a stranger
to me, when unexpectedly he brought Lamb down to visit me at a little
village (Burton) near Christchurch, in Hampshire, where I was lodging
in a very humble cottage. This was in the summer of 1797, and then, or
in the following year, my correspondence with Lamb began. I saw more
of him in 1802 than at any other time, for I was then six months
resident in London. His visit to this county was before I came to it;
it must have been either in that or in the following year: it was to
Lloyd and to Coleridge.

I had forgotten one of his schoolfellows, who is still living--C.V.
Le Grice, a clergyman at or near Penzance. From him you might learn
something of his boyhood.

Cottle has a good likeness of Lamb, in chalk, taken by an artist named
Robert Hancock, about the year 1798. It looks older than Lamb was at
that time; but he was old-looking.

Coleridge introduced him to Godwin, shortly after the first number
of the _Anti-Jacobin Magazine and Review_ was published, with a
caricature of Gillray's, in which Coleridge and I were introduced with
asses' heads, and Lloyd and Lamb as toad and frog. Lamb got warmed
with whatever was on the table, became disputatious, and said things
to Godwin which made him quietly say, 'Pray, Mr. Lamb, are you toad
or frog?' Mrs. Coleridge will remember the scene, which was to her
sufficiently uncomfortable. But the next morning S.T.C. called on
Lamb, and found Godwin breakfasting with him, from which time their
intimacy began.

His angry letter to me in the _Magazine_ arose out of a notion that
an expression of mine in the _Quarterly Review_ would hurt the sale of
_Elia_; some one, no doubt, had said that it would. I meant to serve
the book, and very well remember how the offence happened. I had
written that it wanted nothing to render it altogether delightful but
a _saner_ religious feeling. _This_ would have been the proper word if
any other person had written the book. Feeling its extreme unfitness
as soon as it was written, I altered it immediately for the first word
which came into my head, intending to remodel the sentence when it
should come to me in the proof; and that proof never came. There can
be no objection to your printing all that passed upon the occasion,
beginning with the passage in the _Quarterly Review_, and giving his

I have heard Coleridge say that, in a fit of derangement, Lamb fancied
himself to be young Norval. He told me this in relation to one of his

If you will print my lines to him upon his _Album Verses_, I will
send you a corrected copy. You received his letters, I trust, which
Cuthbert took with him to town in October. I wish they had been more,
and wish, also, that I had more to tell you concerning him, and what
I have told were of more value. But it is from such fragments of
recollection, and such imperfect notices, that the materials for
biography must, for the most part, be collected.




_Temporary frenzy_

27 _May_, 1796.

... Coleridge! I know not what suffering scenes you have gone through
at Bristol. My life has been somewhat diversified of late. The six
weeks that finished last year and began this, your very humble servant
spent very agreeably in a madhouse, at Hoxton. I am got somewhat
rational now, and don't bite anyone. But mad I was! And many a vagary
my imagination played with me, enough to make a volume, if all were
told. My sonnets I have extended to the number of nine since I saw
you, and will some day communicate to you. I am beginning a poem
in blank verse, which, if I finish, I publish.... Coleridge! it may
convince you of my regards for you when I tell you my head ran on you
in my madness, as much almost as on another person, who I am inclined
to think was the more immediate cause of my temporary frenzy.


_A friend in need_

_Thursday, 11 June_, 1796.

... After all, you cannot, nor ever will, write anything with which I
shall be so delighted as what I have heard yourself repeat. You came
to town, and I saw you at a time when your heart was yet bleeding
with recent wounds. Like yourself, I was sore galled with disappointed
hope. You had

  --many an holy lay
  That, mourning, soothed the mourner on his way;

I had ears of sympathy to drink them in, and they yet vibrate pleasant
on the sense. When I read in your little volume your nineteenth
effusion, or the twenty-eighth or twenty-ninth, or what you call the
_Sigh_, I think I hear _you_ again. I image to myself the little smoky
room at the _Salutation and Cat_, where we have sat together through
the winter nights, beguiling the cares of life with Poesy. When you
left London, I felt a dismal void in my heart. I found myself cut off,
at one and the same time, from two most dear to me. 'How blest with
ye the path could I have trod of quiet life!' In your conversation you
had blended so many pleasant fancies that they cheated me of my grief.
But in your absence the tide of melancholy rushed in again, and did
its worst mischief by overwhelming my reason. I have recovered, but
feel a stupor that makes me indifferent to the hopes and fears of
this life. I sometimes wish to introduce a religious turn of mind,
but habits are strong things, and my religious fervours are confined,
alas! to some fleeting moments of occasional solitary devotion. A
correspondence, opening with you, has roused me a little from my
lethargy, and made me conscious of existence. Indulge me in it: I will
not be very troublesome! At some future time I will amuse you with
an account, as full as my memory will permit, of the strange turn my
frenzy took. I look back upon it at times with a gloomy kind of envy:
for, while it lasted, I had many, many hours of pure happiness. Dream
not, Coleridge, of having tasted all the grandeur and wildness of
fancy till you have gone mad! All now seems to me vapid, comparatively


_The tragedy_

27 _Sept_. 1796.


White, or some of my friends, or the public papers, by this time may
have informed you of the terrible calamities that have fallen on
our family. I will only give you the outlines: My poor dear, dearest
sister, in a fit of insanity, has been the death of our own mother. I
was at hand only time enough to snatch the knife out of her grasp. She
is at present in a madhouse, from whence I fear she must be moved to
an hospital. God has preserved to me my senses; I eat, and drink, and
sleep, and have my judgement, I believe, very sound. My poor father
was slightly wounded, and I am left to take care of him and my aunt.
Mr. Norris, of the Bluecoat School, has been very kind to us, and we
have no other friend; but, thank God, I am very calm and composed, and
able to do the best that remains to do. Write as religious a letter as
possible, but no mention of what is gone and done with. With me 'the
former things are passed away', and I have something more to do than
to feel.

God Almighty have us in His keeping!

Mention nothing of poetry. I have destroyed every vestige of past
vanities of that kind. Do as you please, but if you publish, publish
mine (I give free leave) without name or initial, and never send me a
book, I charge you.

Your own judgement will convince you not to take any notice of this
yet to your dear wife. You look after your family; I have reason
and strength left to take care of mine. I charge you, don't think of
coming to see me. Write. I will not see you if you come. God Almighty
love you and all of us!


_The delights of London_

30 _Jan_. 1801.

I ought before this to have replied to your very kind invitation into
Cumberland. With you and your sister I could gang anywhere; but I am
afraid whether I shall ever be able to afford so desperate a journey.
Separate from the pleasure of your company, I don't much care if I
never see a mountain in my life. I have passed all my days in London,
until I have formed as many and intense local attachments as any of
you mountaineers can have done with dead Nature. The lighted shops of
the Strand and Fleet Street; the innumerable trades, tradesmen, and
customers, coaches, waggons, playhouses; all the bustle and wickedness
round about Covent Garden; the very women of the Town; the watchmen,
drunken scenes, rattles;--life awake, if you awake, at all hours of
the night; the crowds, the very dirt and mud, the sun shining upon
houses and pavements, the printshops, the old book-stalls, parsons
cheapening books, coffee-houses, steams of soups from kitchens, the
pantomimes--London itself a pantomime and a masquerade--all these
things work themselves into my mind, and feed me, without a power
of satiating me. The wonder of these sights impels me often into
night-walks about her crowded streets, and I often shed tears in the
motley Strand from fullness of joy at so much life. All these
emotions must be strange to you; so are your rural emotions to me. But
consider, what must I have been doing all my life, not to have lent
great portions of my heart with usury to such scenes?

My attachments are all local, purely local. I have no passion (or have
had none since I was in love, and then it was the spurious engendering
of poetry and books) to groves and valleys. The rooms where I was
born, the furniture which has been before my eyes all my life, a
book-case which has followed me about like a faithful dog, (only
exceeding him in knowledge,) wherever I have moved, old chairs,
old tables, streets, squares, where I have sunned myself, my old
school,--these are my mistresses,--have I not enough, without your
mountains? I do not envy you. I should pity you, did I not know that
the mind will make friends of anything. Your sun, and moon, and skies,
and hills, and lakes, affect me no more, or scarcely come to me in
more venerable characters, than as a gilded room with tapestry and
tapers, where I might live with handsome visible objects. I consider
the clouds above me but as a roof beautifully painted, but unable to
satisfy the mind: and at last, like the pictures of the apartment of
a connoisseur, unable to afford him any longer a pleasure. So fading
upon me, from disuse, have been the beauties of Nature, as they have
been confinedly called; so ever fresh, and green, and warm are all the
inventions of men, and assemblies of men in this great city. I should
certainly have laughed with dear Joanna.

Give my kindest love, and my sister's, to D. and yourself; and a kiss
from me to little Barbara Lewthwaite. Thank you for liking my play!


_At the Lakes_

London, 24 _Sept_. 1802.

My dear Manning,

Since the date of my last letter I have been a traveller. A strong
desire seized me of visiting remote regions. My first impulse was to
go and see Paris. It was a trivial objection to my aspiring mind, that
I did not understand a word of the language, since I certainly intend
some time in my life to see Paris, and equally certainly intend never
to learn the language; therefore that could be no objection. However,
I am very glad I did not go, because you had left Paris (I see) before
I could have set out. I believe Stoddart promising to go with me
another year prevented that plan. My next scheme (for to my restless,
ambitious mind London was become a bed of thorns) was to visit the
far-famed peak in Derbyshire, where the Devil sits, they say, without
breeches. _This_ my purer mind rejected as indelicate. And my final
resolve was a tour to the Lakes. I set out with Mary to Keswick,
without giving Coleridge any notice, for my time, being precious, did
not admit of it. He received us with all the hospitality in the world,
and gave up his time to show us all the wonders of the country. He
dwells upon a small hill by the side of Keswick, in a comfortable
house, quite enveloped on all sides by a net of mountains: great
floundering bears and monsters they seemed, all couchant and asleep.
We got in in the evening, travelling in a post-chaise from Penrith, in
the midst of a gorgeous sunshine, which transmuted all the mountains
into colours, purple, &c., &c. We thought we had got into fairy-land.
But that went off (as it never came again; while we stayed we had no
more fine sunsets); and we entered Coleridge's comfortable study just
in the dusk, when the mountains were all dark with clouds upon their
heads. Such an impression I never received from objects of sight
before, nor do I suppose I can ever again. Glorious creatures, fine
old fellows, Skiddaw, &c. I shall never forget ye, how ye lay about
that night, like an intrenchment; gone to bed, as it seemed for the
night, but promising that ye were to be seen in the morning. Coleridge
had got a blazing fire in his study; which is a large, antique,
ill-shaped room, with an old-fashioned organ, never played upon, big
enough for a church, shelves of scattered folios, an Aeolian harp, and
an old sofa, half bed, &c. And all looking out upon the last fading
view of Skiddaw, and his broad-breasted brethren: what a night! Here
we stayed three full weeks, in which time I visited Wordsworth's
cottage, where we stayed a day or two with the Clarksons (good people,
and most hospitable, at whose house we tarried one day and night), and
saw Lloyd. The Wordsworths were gone to Calais. They have since been
in London, and passed much time with us: he is now gone into Yorkshire
to be married. So we have seen Keswick, Grasmere, Ambleside, Ulswater
(where the Clarksons live), and a place at the other end of Ulswater;
I forget the name; to which we travelled on a very sultry day, over
the middle of Helvellyn. We have clambered up to the top of Skiddaw,
and I have waded up the bed of Lodore. In fine, I have satisfied
myself that there is such a thing as that which tourists call
_romantic_, which I very much suspected before: they make such a
spluttering about it, and toss their splendid epithets around them,
till they give as dim a light as at four o'clock next morning the
lamps do after an illumination. Mary was excessively tired when she
got about half-way up Skiddaw, but we came to a cold rill (than which
nothing can be imagined more cold, running over cold stones), and with
the reinforcement of a draught of cold water, she surmounted it most
manfully. Oh, its fine black head, and the bleak air atop of it, with
a prospect of mountains all about and about, making you giddy; and
then Scotland afar off, and the border countries so famous in song and
ballad! It was a day that will stand out, like a mountain, I am sure,
in my life. But I am returned (I have now been come home near three
weeks; I was a month out), and you cannot conceive the degradation
I felt at first, from being accustomed to wander free as air among
mountains, and bathe in rivers without being controlled by any one, to
come home and _work_. I felt very _little_. I had been dreaming I was
a very great man. But that is going off, and I find I shall conform
in time to that state of life to which it has pleased God to call me.
Besides, after all, Fleet Street and the Strand are better places to
live in for good and all than amidst Skiddaw. Still, I turn back to
those great places where I wandered about, participating in their
greatness. After all, I could not _live_ in Skiddaw. I could spend
a year, two, three years among them, but I must have a prospect of
seeing Fleet Street at the end of that time, or I should mope and pine
away, I know. Still, Skiddaw is a fine creature.

My habits are changing, I think, i.e. from drunk to sober. Whether
I shall be happier or not remains to be proved. I shall certainly be
more happy in a morning; but whether I shall not sacrifice the
fat, and the marrow, and the kidneys, i.e. the night, glorious,
care-drowning night, that heals all our wrongs, pours wine into our
mortifications, changes the scene from indifferent and flat to bright
and brilliant!--O Manning, if I should have formed a diabolical
resolution, by the time you come to England, of not admitting any
spirituous liquors into my house, will you be my guest on such
shame-worthy terms? Is life, with such limitations, worth trying? The
truth is, that my liquors bring a nest of friendly harpies about
my house, who consume me. This is a pitiful tale to be read at St.
Gothard, but it is just now nearest my heart. Fenwick is a ruined man.
He is hiding himself from his creditors, and has sent his wife and
children into the country. Fell, my other drunken companion (that has
been: _nam hic caestus artemque repono_), is turned editor of a Naval
Chronicle. Godwin continues a steady friend, though the same facility
does not remain of visiting him often. X. has detached Marshall from
his house; Marshall, the man who went to sleep when the _Ancient
Mariner_ was reading; the old, steady, unalterable friend of the
Professor. Holcraft is not yet come to town. I expect to see him, and
will deliver your message. Things come crowding in to say, and no
room for 'em. Some things are too little to be told, i.e. to have a
preference; some are too big and circumstantial. Thanks for yours,
which was most delicious. Would I had been with you, benighted, &c.!
I fear my head is turned with wandering. I shall never be the same
acquiescent being. Farewell. Write again quickly, for I shall not
like to hazard a letter, not knowing where the fates have carried you.
Farewell, my dear fellow.


_Dissuasion from Tartary_

19 _Feb_. 1803.


The general scope of your letter afforded no indications of insanity,
but some particular points raised a scruple. For God's sake don't
think any more of 'Independent Tartary'. What are you to do among such
Ethiopians? Is there no _lineal descendant_ of Prester John? Is the
chair empty? Is the sword unswayed?--depend upon it they'll never
make you their king, as long as any branch of that great stock
is remaining. I tremble for your Christianity.... Read Sir John
Mandeville's Travels to cure you, or come over to England. There is
a Tartar-man now exhibiting at Exeter Change. Come and talk with him,
and hear what he says first. Indeed, he is no very favourable specimen
of his countrymen! But perhaps the best thing you can do, is to _try_
to get the idea out of your head. For this purpose repeat to yourself
every night, after you have said your prayers, the words, Independent
Tartary, Independent Tartary, two or three times, and associate with
them the _idea_ of _oblivion_ ('tis Hartley's method with obstinate
memories), or say, Independent, Independent, have I not already got
an _independence_? That was a clever way of the old Puritans,
pun-divinity. My dear friend, think what a sad pity it would be to
bury such _parts_ in heathen countries, among nasty, unconversable,
horse-belching, Tartar-people! Some say they are Cannibals; and then,
conceive a Tartar-fellow _eating_ my friend, and adding the _cool
malignity_ of mustard and vinegar! I am afraid 'tis the reading of
Chaucer has misled you; his foolish stories about Cambuscan, and the
ring, and the horse of brass. Believe me, there are no such things,
'tis all the poet's _invention_; but if there were such darling things
as old Chaucer sings, I would _up_ behind you on the horse of brass,
and frisk off for Prester John's country. But these are all tales;
a horse of brass never flew, and a king's daughter never talked with
birds! The Tartars, really, are a cold, insipid, smouchy set. You'll
be sadly moped (if you are not eaten) among them. Pray _try_ and cure
yourself. Take hellebore (the counsel is Horace's, 'twas none of my
thought _originally_). Shave yourself oftener. Eat no saffron, for
saffron-eaters contract a terrible Tartar-like yellow. Pray, to avoid
the fiend. Eat nothing that gives the heart-burn. _Shave the upper_
_lip_. Go about like an European. Read no books of voyages (they are
nothing but lies), only now and then a romance, to keep the fancy
_under_. Above all, don't go to any sights of _wild beasts. That
has been your ruin_. Accustom yourself to write familiar letters, on
common subjects, to your friends in England, such as are of a moderate
understanding. And think about common things more.... I supped last
night with Rickman, and met a merry _natural_ captain, who pleases
himself vastly with once having made a pun at Otaheite in the O.
language. 'Tis the same man who said Shakespeare he liked, because
he was so _much of the gentleman_. Rickman is a man 'absolute in all
numbers'. I think I may one day bring you acquainted, if you do not
go to Tartary first; for you'll never come back. Have a care, my dear
friend, of Anthropophagi! their stomachs are always craving. 'Tis
terrible to be weighed out at five pence a-pound. To sit at table (the
reverse of fishes in Holland), not as a guest, but as a meat.

God bless you: do come to England. Air and exercise may do great
things. Talk with some minister. Why not your father?

God dispose all for the best. I have discharged my duty.


_Friends' importunities_

East India House, 18 _Feb_. 1818.


I have repeatedly taken pen in hand to answer your kind letter. My
sister should more properly have done it, but she having failed, I
consider myself answerable for her debts. I am now trying to do it
in the midst of commercial noises, and with a quill which seems more
ready to glide into arithmetical figures and names of gourds, cassia,
cardemoms, aloes, ginger, or tea, than into kindly responses and
friendly recollections. The reason why I cannot write letters at home,
is, that I am never alone. Plato's--(I write to W.W. now)--Plato's
double-animal parted never longed more to be reciprocally re-united in
the system of its first creation, than I sometimes do to be but for
a moment single and separate. Except my morning's walk to the office,
which is like treading on sands of gold for that reason, I am never
so. I cannot walk home from office but some officious friend offers
his unwelcome courtesies to accompany me. All the morning I am
pestered. I could sit and gravely cast up sums in great books, or
compare sum with sum, and write 'paid' against this, and 'unpaid'
against t'other, and yet reserve in some corner of my mind 'some
darling thoughts all my own',--faint memory of some passage in a book,
or the tone of an absent friend's voice--a snatch of Miss Burrell's
singing, or a gleam of Fanny Kelly's divine plain face. The two
operations might be going on at the same time without thwarting, as
the sun's two motions (earth's, I mean), or, as I sometimes turn
round till I am giddy, in my back parlour, while my sister is walking
longitudinally in the front; or, as the shoulder of veal twists round
with the spit, while the smoke wreathes up the chimney. But there are
a set of amateurs of the Belles Lettres--the gay science--who come to
me as a sort of rendezvous, putting questions of criticism, of British
Institutions, Lalla Rookhs, &c.--what Coleridge said at the lecture
last night--who have the form of reading men, but, for any possible
use reading can be to them, but to talk of, might as well have been
Ante-Cadmeans born, or have lain sucking out the sense of an Egyptian
hieroglyph as long as the pyramids will last, before they should
find it. These pests worrit me at business, and in all its intervals,
perplexing my accounts, poisoning my little salutary warming-time at
the fire, puzzling my paragraphs if I take a newspaper, cramming in
between my own free thoughts and a column of figures, which had come
to an amicable compromise but for them. Their noise ended, one of
them, as I said, accompanies me home, lest I should be solitary for
a moment; he at length takes his welcome leave at the door; up I go,
mutton on table, hungry as hunter, hope to forget my cares, and bury
them in the agreeable abstraction of mastication; knock at the door,
in comes Mr. ----, or Mr. ----, or Demi-gorgon, or my brother, or
somebody, to prevent my eating alone--a process absolutely
necessary to my poor wretched digestion. O, the pleasure of eating
alone!--eating my dinner alone! let me think of it. But in they
come, and make it absolutely necessary that I should open a bottle of
orange--for my meat turns into stone when anyone dines with me, if I
have not wine. Wine can mollify stones; then _that_ wine turns into
acidity, acerbity, misanthropy, a hatred of my interrupters--(God
bless 'em! I love some of 'em dearly), and with the hatred, a still
greater aversion to their going away. Bad is the dead sea they bring
upon me, choking and deadening, but worse is the deader dry sand they
leave me on, if they go before bed-time. Come never, I would say to
these spoilers of my dinner; but if you come, never go! The fact is,
this interruption does not happen very often; but every time it comes
by surprise, that present bane of my life, orange wine, with all its
dreary stifling consequences, follows. Evening company I should always
like had I any mornings, but I am saturated with human faces (_divine_
forsooth!) and voices all the golden morning; and five evenings in a
week would be as much as I should covet to be in company, but I
assure you that is a wonderful week in which I can get two, or one, to
myself. I am never C.L., but always C.L. & Co. He who thought it
not good for man to be alone, preserve me from the more prodigious
monstrosity of being never by myself! I forget bed-time, but even
there these sociable frogs clamber up to annoy me. Once a week,
generally some singular evening that, being alone, I go to bed at the
hour I ought always to be a-bed; just close to my bed-room window is
the club-room of a public-house, where a set of singers, I take them
to be chorus singers of the two theatres (it must be _both of them_),
begin their orgies. They are a set of fellows (as I conceive) who,
being limited by their talents to the burthen of the song at the
play-houses, in revenge have got the common popular airs by Bishop, or
some cheap composer, arranged for choruses, that is, to be sung all in
chorus. At least, I never can catch any of the text of the plain song,
nothing but the Babylonish choral howl at the tail on't. 'That fury
being quench'd'--the howl I mean--a burden succeeds of shouts and
clapping, and knocking of the table. At length overtasked nature drops
under it, and escapes for a few hours into the society of the sweet
silent creatures of dreams, which go away with mocks and mows at
cockcrow. And then I think of the words Christabel's father used
(bless me, I have dipt in the wrong ink!) to say every morning by way
of variety when he awoke:

  Every knell, the Baron saith,
  Wakes us up to a world of death--

or something like it. All I mean by this senseless interrupted tale,
is, that by my central situation I am a little over-companied. Not
that I have any animosity against the good creatures that are so
anxious to drive away the harpy solitude from me. I like 'em, and
cards, and a cheerful glass; but I mean merely to give you an idea
between office confinement and after-office society, how little time
I can call my own. I mean only to draw a picture, not to make an
inference. I would not that I know of have it otherwise. I only wish
sometimes I could exchange some of my faces and voices for the faces
and voices which a late visitation brought most welcome, and carried
away, leaving regret, but more pleasure, even a kind of gratitude, at
being so often favoured with that kind northern visitation. My London
faces and noises don't hear me--I mean no disrespect, or I should
explain myself, that instead of their return 220 times a year, and
the return of W.W., &c., seven times in 104 weeks, some more equal
distribution might be found. I have scarce room to put in Mary's kind
love, and my poor name ...--goes on lecturing.... I mean to hear some
of the course, but lectures are not much to my taste, whatever the
lecturer may be. If _read_, they are dismal flat, and you can't think
why you are brought together to hear a man read his works, which you
could read so much better at leisure yourself; if delivered extempore,
I am always in pain, lest the gift of utterance should suddenly fail
the orator in the middle, as it did me at the dinner given in honour
of me at the London Tavern. 'Gentlemen,' said I, and there I stopped;
the rest my feelings were under the necessity of supplying. Mrs.
Wordsworth _will_ go on, kindly haunting us with visions of seeing the
lakes once more, which never can be realised. Between us there is a
great gulf, not of inexplicable moral antipathies and distances, I
hope, as there seemed to be between me and that gentleman concerned
in the Stamp Office, that I so strangely recoiled from at Haydon's. I
think I had an instinct that he was the head of an office. I hate all
such people--accountants' deputy accountants. The dear abstract notion
of the East India Company, as long as she is unseen, is pretty, rather
poetical; but as she makes herself manifest by the persons of such
beasts, I loathe and detest her as the scarlet what-do-you-call-her
of Babylon. I thought, after abridging us of all our red-letter days,
they had done their worst; but I was deceived in the length to which
heads of offices, those true liberty-haters, can go. They are the
tyrants; not Ferdinand, nor Nero. By a decree passed this week, they
have abridged us of the immemorially-observed custom of going at one
o'clock of a Saturday, the little shadow of a holiday left us. Dear
W.W., be thankful for liberty.


_The famous pigling_

9 _March_, 1822.


It gives me great satisfaction to hear that the pig turned out so
well: they are such interesting creatures at a certain age. What a
pity such buds should blow out into the maturity of rank bacon! You
had all some of the crackling and brain sauce. Did you remember to rub
it with butter, and gently dredge it a little, just before the crisis?
Did the eyes come away kindly with no Oedipean avulsion? Was the
crackling the colour of the ripe pomegranate? Had you no complement of
boiled neck of mutton before it, to blunt the edge of delicate desire?
Did you flesh maiden teeth in it? Not that _I_ sent the pig, or can
form the remotest guess what part Owen could play in the business. I
never knew him give anything away in my life. He would not begin with
strangers. I suspect the pig, after all, was meant for me; but at the
unlucky juncture of time being absent, the present somehow went round
to Highgate. To confess an honest truth, a pig is one of those things
which I could never think of sending away. Teal, widgeon, snipes,
barn-door fowls, ducks, geese--your tame villatic things--Welsh
mutton, collars of brawn, sturgeon, fresh or pickled, your potted
char, Swiss cheeses, French pies, early grapes, muscadines, I impart
as freely unto my friends as to myself. They are but self extended,
but pardon me if I stop somewhere. Where the fine feeling of
benevolence giveth a higher smack than the sensual rarity, there my
friends (or any good man) may command me; but pigs are pigs, and
I myself therein am nearest to myself. Nay, I should think it an
affront, an undervaluing done to Nature who bestowed such a boon upon
me, if in a churlish mood I parted with the precious gift. One of the
bitterest pangs of remorse I ever felt was when a child--when my kind
old aunt had strained her pocket-strings to bestow a sixpenny
whole plum-cake upon me. In my way home through the Borough I met a
venerable old man, not a mendicant, but thereabouts; a look-beggar,
not a verbal petitionist; and in the coxcombry of taught charity I
gave away the cake to him. I walked on a little in all the pride of an
Evangelical peacock, when of a sudden my old aunt's kindness crossed
me; the sum it was to her; the pleasure she had a right to expect
that I--not the old impostor--should take in eating her cake; the
ingratitude by which, under the colour of a Christian virtue, I had
frustrated her cherished purpose. I sobbed, wept, and took it to
heart so grievously, that I think I never suffered the like; and I was
right. It was a piece of unfeeling hypocrisy, and it proved a lesson
to me ever after. The cake has long been masticated, consigned to
the dunghill with the ashes of that unseasonable pauper. But when
Providence, who is better to us than all our aunts, gives me a pig,
remembering my temptation and my fall, I shall endeavour to act
towards it more in the spirit of the donor's purpose.

Yours (short of pig) to command in every thing.


_A blessing in disguise_

9 _Jan_. 1823.

'Throw yourself on the world without any rational plan of support,
beyond what the chance employ of booksellers would afford you'!!!

Throw yourself rather, my dear sir, from the steep Tarpeian rock,
slap-dash headlong upon iron spikes. If you have but five consolatory
minutes between the desk and the bed, make much of them, and live a
century in them, rather than turn slave to the booksellers. They are
Turks and Tartars when they have poor authors at their beck. Hitherto
you have been at arm's length from them. Come not within their grasp.
I have known many authors want for bread, some repining, others
envying the blessed security of a counting-house, all agreeing they
had rather have been tailors, weavers--what not? rather than the
things they were. I have known some starved, some to go mad, one dear
friend literally dying in a workhouse. You know not what a rapacious,
dishonest set these booksellers are. Ask even Southey, who (a single
case almost) has made a fortune by book-drudgery, what he has found
them. Oh, you know not, may you never know, the miseries of subsisting
by authorship! 'Tis a pretty appendage to a situation like yours or
mine; but a slavery, worse than all slavery, to be a bookseller's
dependant, to drudge your brains for pots of ale, and breasts of
mutton, _to change your_ FREE THOUGHTS _and_ VOLUNTARY NUMBERS _for
ungracious_ TASK-WORK. Those fellows hate _us_. The reason I take to
be, that contrary to other trades, in which the master gets all the
credit (a jeweller or silversmith for instance,) and the journeyman,
who really does the fine work, is in the background: in _our_ work
the world gives all the credit to us, whom _they_ consider as _their_
journeymen, and therefore do they hate us, and cheat us, and oppress
us, and would wring the blood of us out, to put another sixpence in
their mechanic pouches!...

Keep to your bank, and the bank will keep you. Trust not to the
public; you may hang, starve, drown yourself, for anything that worthy
_personage_ cares. I bless every star, that Providence, not seeing
good to make me independent, has seen it next good to settle me upon
the stable foundation of Leadenhall. Sit down, good B.B., in the
banking-office: what! is there not from six to eleven p.m. six days
in the week, and is there not all Sunday? Fie, what a superfluity
of man's time, if you could think so! Enough for relaxation, mirth,
converse, poetry, good thoughts, quiet thoughts. O the corroding,
torturing, tormenting thoughts, that disturb the brain of the unlucky
wight who must draw upon it for daily sustenance! Henceforth I retract
all my fond complaints of mercantile employment; look upon them as
lover's quarrels. I was but half in earnest. Welcome dead timber
of the desk, that makes me live. A little grumbling is a wholesome
medicine for the spleen, but in my inner heart do I approve and
embrace this our close, but unharassing way of life. I am quite
serious. If you can send me Fox, I will not keep it _six weeks_, and
will return it, with warm thanks to yourself and friend, without blot
or dog's-ear. You will much oblige me by this kindness.


_A cold_

9 _Jan_. 1824.


Do you know what it is to succumb under an insurmountable
day-mare,--'a whoreson lethargy', Falstaff calls it,--an indisposition
to do anything, or to be anything,--a total deadness and distaste,--a
suspension of vitality,--an indifference to locality,--a numb,
soporifical, good-for-nothingness,--an ossification all over,--an
oyster-like insensibility to the passing events,--a mind-stupor,--a
brawny defiance to the needles of a thrusting-in conscience? Did you
ever have a very bad cold, with a total irresolution to submit to
water-gruel processes? This has been for many weeks my lot, and my
excuse; my fingers drag heavily over this paper, and to my thinking it
is three-and-twenty furlongs from here to the end of this demi-sheet.
I have not a thing to say; no thing is of more importance than
another; I am flatter than a denial or a pancake; emptier than Judge
----'s wig when the head is in it; duller than a country stage when
the actors are off it; a cipher, an O! I acknowledge life at all, only
by an occasional convulsional cough, and a permanent phlegmatic pain
in the chest. I am weary of the world; life is weary of me. My day is
gone into twilight, and I don't think it worth the expense of candles.
My wick hath a thief in it, but I can't muster courage to snuff it.
I inhale suffocation; I can't distinguish veal from mutton; nothing
interests me. 'Tis twelve o'clock, and Thurtell is just now coming out
upon the New Drop, Jack Ketch alertly tucking up his greasy sleeves
to do the last office of mortality, yet cannot I elicit a groan or
a moral reflection. If you told me the world will be at an end
to-morrow, I should just say, 'Will it?' I have not volition enough
left to dot my _i's_, much less to comb my eyebrows; my eyes are
set in my head; my brains are gone out to see a poor relation in
Moorflelds, and they did not say when they'd come back again; my skull
is a Grub Street attic to let--not so much as a joint stool left in
it; my hand writes, not I, from habit, as chickens run about a
little, when their heads are off. O for a vigorous fit of gout, colic,
toothache,--an earwig in my auditory, a fly in my visual organs; pain
is life--the sharper, the more evidence of life; but this apathy, this
death! Did you ever have an obstinate cold,--a six or seven weeks'
unintermitting chill and suspension of hope, fear, conscience, and
every thing? Yet do I try all I can to cure it; I try wine, and
spirits, and smoking, and snuff in unsparing quantities, but they all
only seem to make me worse instead of better. I sleep in a damp room,
but it does me no good; I come home late o' nights, but do not find
any visible amendment!...

It is just fifteen minutes after twelve; Thurtell is by this time
a good way on his journey, baiting at Scorpion perhaps; Ketch is
bargaining for his cast coat and waistcoat; the Jew demurs at first at
three half-crowns, but, on consideration that he may get somewhat by
showing 'em in the town, finally closes.



To Miss Sarah Stoddart

_A love-letter_

Tuesday night [_Jan._ 1808].


Above a week has passed, and I have received no letter--not one of
those letters 'in which I live, or have no life at all'. What is
become of you? Are you married, hearing that I was dead (for so it has
been reported)? Or are you gone into a nunnery? Or are you fallen in
love with some of the amorous heroes of Boccaccio? Which of them is
it? Is it with Chynon, who was transformed from a clown into a lover,
and learned to spell by the force of beauty? Or with Lorenzo, the
lover of Isabella, whom her three brethren hated (as your brother does
me), who was a merchant's clerk? Or with Federigo Alberigi, an honest
gentleman, who ran through his fortune, and won his mistress by
cooking a fair falcon for her dinner, though it was the only means he
had left of getting a dinner for himself? This last is the man; and
I am the more persuaded of it, because I think I won your good liking
myself by giving you an entertainment--of sausages, when I had no
money to buy them with. Nay now, never deny it! Did I not ask your
consent that very night after, and did you not give it? Well, I should
be confoundedly jealous of those fine gallants, if I did not know that
a living dog is better than a dead lion; though, now I think of it,
Boccaccio does not in general make much of his lovers: it is his women
who are so delicious. I almost wish I had lived in those times, and
had been a little _more amiable_. Now if a woman had written the book,
it would not have had this effect upon me: the men would have been
heroes and angels, and the women nothing at all. Isn't there some
truth in that? Talking of departed loves, I met my old flame the other
day in the street. I did dream of her _one_ night since, and only one:
every other night I have had the same dream I have had for these two
months past. Now, if you are at all reasonable, this will satisfy you.

_Thursday morning_. The book is come. When I saw it I thought you had
sent it back in a _huff_, tired out by my sauciness, and _coldness_,
and delays, and were going to keep an account of dimities and sayes,
or to salt pork and chronicle small beer as the dutiful wife of some
fresh-looking, rural swain; so that you cannot think how surprised
and pleased I was to find them all done. I liked your note as well or
better than the extracts; it is just such a note as such a nice rogue
as you ought to write after the _provocation_ you had received. I
would not give a pin for a girl 'whose cheeks never tingle', nor for
myself if I could not make them tingle sometimes. Now, though I am
always writing to you about 'lips and noses', and such sort of stuff,
yet as I sit by my fireside (which I do generally eight or ten hours a
day), I oftener think of you in a serious, sober light. For, indeed,
I never love you so well as when I think of sitting down with you to
dinner on a boiled scrag-end of mutton, and hot potatoes. You please
my fancy more then than when I think of you in--no, you would never
forgive me if I were to finish the sentence. Now I think of it, what
do you mean to be dressed in when we are married? But it does not much
matter! I wish you would let your hair grow; though perhaps nothing
will be better than 'the same air and look with which at first my
heart was took'. But now to business. I mean soon to call upon your
brother _in form_, namely, as soon as I get quite well, which I hope
to do in about another _fortnight_; and then I hope you will come up
by the coach as fast as the horses can carry you, for I long mightily
to be in your ladyship's presence--to vindicate my character. I think
you had better sell the small house, I mean that at 4.10, and I will
borrow £100. So that we shall set off merrily in spite of all the
prudence of Edinburgh. Goodbye, little dear!


_Marriage, and the choice of a profession_


... If you ever marry, I would wish you to marry the woman you like.
Do not be guided by the recommendations of friends. Nothing will
atone for or overcome an original distaste. It will only increase from
intimacy; and if you are to live separate, it is better not to come
together. There is no use in dragging a chain through life, unless
it binds one to the object we love. Choose a mistress from among your
equals. You will be able to understand her character better, and she
will be more likely to understand yours. Those in an inferior station
to yourself will doubt your good intentions, and misapprehend your
plainest expressions. All that you swear is to them a riddle or
downright nonsense. You cannot by any possibility translate your
thoughts into their dialect. They will be ignorant of the meaning of
half you say, and laugh at the rest. As mistresses, they will have no
sympathy with you; and as wives, you can have none with them.

Women care nothing about poets, or philosophers, or politicians. They
go by a man's looks and manner. Richardson calls them 'an eye-judging
sex'; and I am sure he knew more about them than I can pretend to do.
If you run away with a pedantic notion that they care a pin's point
about your head or your heart, you will repent it too late....

If I were to name one pursuit rather than another, I should wish you
to be a good painter, if such a thing could be hoped. I have failed in
this myself, and should wish you to be able to do what I have not--to
paint like Claude, or Rembrandt, or Guido, or Vandyke, if it were
possible. Artists, I think, who have succeeded in their chief object,
live to be old, and are agreeable old men. Their minds keep alive
to the last. Cosway's spirits never flagged till after ninety; and
Nollekens, though nearly blind, passed all his mornings in giving
directions about some group or bust in his workshop. You have seen Mr.
Northcote, that delightful specimen of the last age. With what avidity
he takes up his pencil, or lays it down again to talk of numberless
things! His eye has not lost its lustre, nor 'paled its ineffectual
fire'. His body is but a shadow: he himself is a pure spirit. There is
a kind of immortality about this sort of ideal and visionary existence
that dallies with Fate and baffles the grim monster, Death. If I
thought you could make as clever an artist, and arrive at such an
agreeable old age as Mr. Northcote, I should declare at once for your
devoting yourself to this enchanting profession; and in that reliance,
should feel less regret at some of my own disappointments, and little
anxiety on your account!


_The Life of Napoleon_

7 _Dec_. [1827].


I thought all the world agreed with me at present that Buonaparte was
better than the Bourbons, or that a tyrant was better than tyranny.
In my opinion, no one of an understanding above the rank of a lady's
waiting-maid could ever have doubted this, though I alone said it ten
years ago. It might be impolicy then and now for what I know, for the
world stick to an opinion in appearance long after they have given it
up in reality. I should like to know whether the preface is thought
impolitic by some one who agrees with me in the main point, or by some
one who differs with me and makes this excuse not to have his opinion
contradicted? In Paris (_jubes regina renovare dolorem_) the preface
was thought a masterpiece, the best and only possible defence of
Buonaparte, and quite new _there_! It would be an impertinence in me
to write a Life of Buonaparte after Sir W. without some such object as
that expressed in the preface. After all, I do not care a _damn_ about
the preface. It will get me on four pages somewhere else. Shall I
retract my opinion altogether, and forswear my own book? Rayner is
right to cry out: I think I have tipped him fair and foul copy, a lean
rabbit and a fat one. The remainder of vol. ii will be ready to go on
with, but not the beginning of the third. The appendixes had better
be at the end of the second vol. Pray get them if you can: you have my
Sieyes, have you not? One of them is there. I have been nearly in the
other world. My regret was 'to die and leave the world "rough" copy'.
Otherwise I had thought of an epitaph and a good end. Hic jacent
reliquiae mortales Gulielmi Hazlitt, auctoris non intelligibilis:
natus Maidstoniae in comi [ta] tu Cantiae, Apr. 10, 1778. Obiit
Winterslowe, Dec., 1827. I think of writing an epistle to C. Lamb,
Esq., to say that I have passed near the shadowy world, and have had
new impressions of the vanity of this, with hopes of a better. Don't
you think this would be good policy? Don't mention it to the severe
author of the '_Press_', a poem, but me thinks the idea _arridet_
Hone. He would give sixpence to see me floating, upon a pair of
borrowed wings, half way between heaven and earth, and edifying
the good people at my departure, whom I shall only scandalize by
remaining. At present my study and contemplation is the leg of a
stewed fowl. I have behaved like a saint, and been obedient to orders.

_Non fit pugil_, &c., I got a violent spasm by walking fifteen miles
in the mud, and getting into a coach with an old lady who would have
the window open. Delicacy, moderation, complaisance, the _suaviter in
modo_, whisper it about, my dear Clarke, these are my faults and have
been my ruin.




_A belated letter_[1]

Vale of Health, Hampstead, 8 _March_, 1821


You have concluded, of course, that I have sent no letters to Rome,
because I was aware of the effect they would have on Keats's mind; and
this is the principal cause; for, besides what I have been told about
letters in Italy, I remember his telling me upon one occasion that, in
his sick moments, he never wished to receive another letter, or ever
to see another face, however friendly. But still I should have written
to you, had I not been almost at death's door myself. You will imagine
how ill I have been, when you hear that I have but just begun writing
again for the _Examiner_ and _Indicator_, after an interval of
several months, during which my flesh wasted from me with sickness
and melancholy. Judge how often I thought of Keats, and with what
feelings. Mr. Brown tells me he is comparatively calm now, or rather
quite so. If he can bear to hear of us, pray tell him; but he knows it
already, and can put it in better language than any man. I hear that
he does not like to be told that he may get better; nor is it to
be wondered at, considering his firm persuasion that he shall not
survive. He can only regard it as a puerile thing, and an insinuation
that he shall die. But if his persuasion should happen to be no longer
so strong, or if he can now put up with attempts to console him, of
what I have said a thousand times, and what I still (upon my honour)
think always, that I have seen too many instances of recovery from
apparently desperate cases of consumption not to be in hope to the
very last. If he still cannot bear this, tell him--tell that great
poet and noble-hearted man--that we shall all bear his memory in the
most precious part of our hearts, and that the world shall bow their
heads to it, as our loves do. Or if this, again, will trouble his
spirit, tell him that we shall never cease to remember and love him;
and that, Christian or infidel, the most sceptical of us has faith
enough in the high things that nature puts into our heads, to think
all who are of one accord in mind or heart are journeying to one and
the same place, and shall unite somewhere or other again, face to
face, mutually conscious, mutually delighted. Tell him he is only
before us on the road, as he is in everything else; or, whether you
tell him the latter or no, tell him the former, and add that we shall
never forget that he was so, and that we are coming after him. The
tears are again in my eyes, and I must not afford to shed them. The
next letter I write shall be more to yourself, and more refreshing to
your spirits, which we are very sensible must have been greatly taxed.
But whether your friend dies or not, it will not be among the least
lofty of your recollections by-and-by that you helped to smooth the
sick-bed of so fine a being. God bless you, dear Severn.

[Footnote 1: Keats died in February.]


_Outpourings of gratitude_

Stonehouse, near Plymouth, 26 _March_, 1822.


Your letters always contain something delightful to me, whatever news
they bring.

  Surgit _amici_ aliquid, quod in ipsis _nubibus_

But I confess your latter ones have greatly relieved me on the subject
you speak of. They only make me long, with an extreme Homeric longing,
to be at Pisa,--I mean such an one as Achilles felt when he longed to
be with his father,--sharp in his very limbs. We have secured a ship,
the _David Walter_, which will call for us here, and sets sail
from London in a fortnight. I have written by to-day's post with
intelligence of it to Mrs. Fletcher, enclosing her the letter, and
giving her the option of going on board in London, or here. I need not
say we shall attend to her comforts in every respect. The same post
also carries a letter to Mr. Gisborne, stating your wishes, and
wonders respecting _Adonais_. If it is not published before I leave
England, I will publish my criticism upon the Pisa copy,--a criticism
which I think you will like. I take the opportunity of showing the
public why Gifford's review spoke so bitterly of _Prometheus_, and
why it pretends that the most metaphysical passage of your most
metaphysical poem is a specimen of the clearness of your general
style. The wretched priest-like cunning and undertoned malignity of
that review of _Prometheus_ is indeed a homage paid to qualities which
can so provoke it. The _Quarterly_ pretends now, that it never meddles
with you personally,--of course it never did! For this, _Blackwood_
cries out upon it, contrasting its behaviour in those delicate matters
with its own! This is better and better, and the public seem to think
so; for these things, depend upon it, are getting better understood
every day, and shall be better and better understood every day to
come. One circumstance which helps to reconcile me to having been
detained on this coast, is the opportunity it has given me to make
your works speak for themselves wherever I could; and you are in high
lustre, I assure you, with the most intelligent circles in Plymouth,
[Greek: astaer epsos]. I have, indeed, been astonished to find
how well prepared people of intelligence are to fall in with your
aspirations, and despise the mistakes and rascally instincts of your
calumniators. This place, for instance, abounds in _schoolmasters_,
who appear, to a man, to be liberal to an extreme and esoterical
degree. And such, there is reason to believe, is the case over the
greater part of the kingdom, greatly, no doubt, owing to political
causes. Think of the consequences of this with the rising generation.
I delight in _Adonais_. It is the most Delphic poetry I have seen
a long while; full of those embodyings of the most subtle and airy
imaginations,--those arrestings and explanations of the most shadowy
yearnings of our being--which are the most difficult of all things
to put into words, and the most delightful when put. I do not know
whether you are aware how fond I am of your song on the Skylark; but
you ought, if Ollier sent you a copy of the enlarged _Calendar_
_of Nature_, which he published separately under the title of the
_Months_. I tell you this, because I have not done half or a twentieth
part of what I ought to have done to make your writings properly
appreciated. But I intended to do more every day, and now that I am
coming to you, I shall be _totus_ in you and yours! For all good, and
healthy, and industrious things, I will do such wonders, that I shall
begin to believe I make some remote approach to something like a
return for your kindness. Yet how can that be? At all events, I hope
we shall all be the better for one another's society. Marianne, poor
dear girl, is still very ailing and weak, but stronger upon the whole,
she thinks, than when she first left London, and quite prepared and
happy to set off on her spring voyage. She sends you part of her best
love. I told her I supposed I must answer Marina's letter for her, but
she is quite grand on the occasion, and vows she will do it herself,
which, I assure you, will be the first time she has written a letter
for many months. Ask Marina if she will be charitable, and write one
to me. I will undertake to answer it with one double as long. But what
am I talking about, when the captain speaks of sailing in a fortnight?
I was led astray by her delightful letter to Marianne about walks, and
duets, and violets, and ladies like violets. Am I indeed to see and
be in the midst of all these beautiful things, ladies like lilies not
excepted? And do the men in Italy really leave ladies to walk in those
very amiable dry ditches by themselves? Oh! for a few strides, like
those of Neptune, when he went from some place to some other place,
and 'did it in three!' Dear Shelley, I am glad my letter to Lord B.
pleased you, though I do not know why you should so thank me for it.
But you are ingenious in inventing claims for me upon your affection.


_Shelley's death_

Pisa, 25 _July_, 1822.

Dear Horace,

I trust that the first news of the dreadful calamity which has
befallen us here will have been broken to you by report, otherwise I
shall come upon you with a most painful abruptness; but Shelley, my
divine-minded friend, your friend, the friend of the universe, he has
perished at sea. He was in a boat with his friend Captain Williams,
going from Leghorn to Lerici, when a storm arose, and it is supposed
the boat must have foundered. It was on the 8th instant, about four
or five in the evening, they guess. A fisherman says he saw the boat
a few minutes before it went down: he looked again and it was gone. He
saw the boy they had with them aloft furling one of the sails. We hope
his story is true, as their passage from life to death will then have
been short; and what adds to the hope is, that in S's pocket (for the
bodies were both thrown on shore some days afterwards,--conceive our
horrible certainty, after trying all we could to hope!) a copy of
Keats's last volume, which he had borrowed of me to read on his
passage, was found _open_ and doubled back as if it had been thrust
in, in the hurry of a surprise. God bless him! I cannot help thinking
of him as if he were alive as much as ever, so unearthly he always
appeared to me, and so seraphical a thing of the elements; and this
is what all his friends say. But what we all feel, your own heart will
tell you....

It has been often feared that Shelley and Captain Williams would meet
with some accident, they were so hazardous; but when they set out on
the 8th, in the morning it was fine. Our dear friend was passionately
fond of the sea, and has been heard to say he should like it to be his


_Accepting an invitation_

5 York Buildings, 13 _March_ [1831].

MY DEAR MRS. PROCTER (for Madam, somehow, is
               not the thing),

I am most pleased to be reminded of my promise, which I must have made
if you say I did. I suppose I have been coming to keep it ever since;
but it is a long road from sorrow to joy, and one is apt to get
confused on the road. Do you know your letter brought the tears into
my eyes? I hardly know why, unless it was that I saw Procter had been
pouring his kind heart into yours, and you said:--'We must have him
here instead of the coffee-house, and plant him by the fire, and warm
him like a stray bird till he sings.' But indeed a kind word affects
me where many a hard thump does not. Nevertheless, you must not tell
this, except to the very masculine or feminine; though if you do not
take it as a compliment to yourself,--I mean the confession of
my weakness,--why, you are not Procter's wife, nor Mrs. Montagu's
daughter, nor she who wrote the letter this morning to a poor battered

PS. I eat any plain joint, of the plainer order, beef or mutton:--and
you know I care for nothing at dinner, so that it does not hurt me.
Friends' company is the thing.


_Offence and punishment_

Wimbledon, 11 and 12 _August_, 1846.

... I find I made a great confusion of my _portion_ of the legal
expenses incurred by the _Examiner_, with the _whole_ of them. That
portion only amounted to £750, the whole being £1500. Of this £750 out
of my pocket (which was quite enough), £250 went to pay for
expenses (counsel, &c.) attendant on the _failure_ of two Government
prosecutions,--one for saying (_totidem verbis_) that 'of all monarchs
since the Revolution, the successor of George III would have the
finest opportunity of becoming nobly popular'; (think, nowadays,
of being prosecuted for _that_!) and the other for copying from the
_Stamford News_ the paragraph against military flogging, alluded to
the other day in the _Daily News_. (Think, now, this moment, of being
prosecuted for _That_!) The £500 fine and two years' imprisonment was
for ludicrously contrasting the _Morning Post's_ picture of the Regent
as an 'Adonis', &c. with the old and real fat state of the case, and
for adding that his Royal Highness had lived for 'upwards of half
a century without doing anything to deserve the admiration of his
contemporaries or the gratitude of posterity'. Words to that effect,
and I believe better,--but I do not quite remember them. They might be
easily ascertained by reference to Peel's Coffee-house, and the words
of the _Post_, too.

Besides the fine, my imprisonment cost me several hundred pounds (I
can't exactly say how many) in monstrous _douceurs_ to the gaoler
for _liberty to walk in the garden_, for help towards getting me
permission to fit up rooms in the sick hospital, and for fitting
up said rooms, or rather converting them from sorts of
washhouses, hitherto uninhabited and unfloored, into comfortable
apartments,--which I did too expensively,--at least as far as papering
the sitting-room with a trellis of roses went, and having my ceiling
painted to imitate an out-of-door sky. No notice, however, could
be taken, I suppose, of any of _this_ portion of the expenses,
governments having nothing to do with the secret corruptions of
gaolers or the pastorals of incarcerated poets: otherwise the
prosecutions cost me altogether a good bit beyond a thousand pounds.

But perhaps it might be mentioned that I went to prison from all but
a sick bed, having been just ordered by the physician _to go to the
seaside_, and _ride_ for the benefit of my health (pleasing dramatic
contrast to the _verdict_!). I also declined, as I told you, to try
avoiding the imprisonment by the help of Perry's offer of the famous
secret 'Book'; and I further declined (as I think I also told you)
to avail myself of an offer on the part of a royal agent (made, of
course, in the guarded, though obvious manner in which such offers are
conveyed), to drop the prosecution, provided we would agree to
drop all future hostile mention of the Regent. But of this, too,
governments could not be expected to take notice--perhaps would regard
it as an addition to the offence. This, however, I must add, that the
whole attack on the Regent was owing, not merely to the nonsense of
the _Post_, but to his violation of those promises of conceding the
Catholic claims, to which his princely word stood pledged. The subject
of the article was the '_Dinner on St. Patrick's day_'. All the Whig
world was indignant at that violation; so were the Irish, of course,
_vehemently_; and it was on the spur of this publicly indignant
movement that I wrote what I did,--as angrily and as much in earnest
in the serious part of what I said as I was derisive in the rest.
I did not care for any factious object, nor was I what is called
anti-monarchical. I didn't know Cobbett, or Henry Hunt, or any
demagogue, _even by sight_, except Sir Francis Burdett, and him
by sight alone. Nor did I ever see, or speak a word with them,
afterwards. I knew nothing, in fact, of politics themselves, except in
some of those large and, as it appeared to me, obvious phases, which,
at all events, _have since become obvious to most people_, and in
fighting for which (if a man can be said to fight for a 'phase'!) I
suffered all that Tories could inflict upon me,--by expenses in law
and calumnies in literature;--reform, Catholic claims, free
trade, abolition of flogging, right of free speech, as opposed by
attorneys-general. I was, in fact, all the while nothing but a poetic
student, appearing in politics once a week, but given up entirely to
letters almost all the rest of it, and loving nothing so much as a
book and a walk in the fields. I was precisely the sort of person, in
these respects, which I am at this moment. As to George the Fourth, I
aided, years afterwards, in publicly wishing him well--'years having
brought the philosophic mind'. I believe I even expressed regret at
not having given him the excuses due to all human beings (the passage,
I take it, is in the book which Colburn called _Lord Byron and his
Contemporaries_); _and when I consider that Moore has been pensioned,
not only in spite of all his libels on him, but perhaps by very reason
of their Whig partisanship, I should think it hard to be refused a
pension purely because I openly suffered for what I had earnestly
said_. I knew George the Fourth's physician, Sir William Knighton,
who had been mine before I was imprisoned (it was _not_ he who was the
royal agent alluded to); and, if my memory does not deceive me, Sir
William told me that George had been gratified by the book above
mentioned. Perhaps he had found out, by Sir William's help, that I was
not an ill-natured man, or one who could not outlive what was
mistaken in himself or resentful in others. As to my opinions about
Governments, the bad conduct of the Allies, and of Napoleon, and the
old Bourbons, certainly made them waver as to what might be ultimately
best, monarchy or republicanism; but they ended in favour of their
old predilections; and no man, for a long while, has been less a
republican than myself, monarchies and courts appearing to me salutary
for the good and graces of mankind, and Americanisms anything but
either. But nobody, I conceive, that knew my writings, or heard of me
truly from others, ever took me for a republican. William the Fourth
saw or heard nothing of me to hinder his letting Lord Melbourne give
me £200 out of the Royal Fund. Queen Victoria gave me another,
through the same kind friend. She also went twice to see my play; and
everybody knows how I praise and love her. _I do not think, therefore,
in reference to the pension, that the public would care twopence about
George the Fourth, one way or the other; or that if any remembered the
case at all, they would connect the pension in the least with anything
about him, but attribute it solely to the Queen's and Minister's
goodness, and the wants of a sincere and not undeserving man of
letters, distinguished for his loyal attachment_. I certainly think
the £500 fine ought not to have been taken out of my pocket, or the
other two £125 either; and I think also, that a liberal Whig minister
might reasonably and _privately_ think some compensation on those
accounts due to me. _I have been fighting his own fight from first to
last, and helping to prepare matters for his triumph_. But still the
above, in my opinion, is what the public would think of the matter,
_and my friends of the press could lay it entirely to the literary




_Travel in Portugal_

Lisbon, 16 _July_, 1809.

Thus far have we pursued our route, and seen all sorts of marvellous
sights, palaces, convents, &c.,--which, being to be heard in my friend
Hobhouse's forthcoming Book of Travels, I shall not anticipate by
smuggling any account whatsoever to you in a private and clandestine
manner. I must just observe, that the village of Cintra in Estremadura
is the most beautiful, perhaps, in the world.

I am very happy here, because I loves oranges, and talks bad Latin
to the monks, who understand it, as it is like their own,--and I goes
into society (with my pocket pistols), and I swims in the Tagus
all across at once, and I rides on an ass or a mule, and swears
Portuguese, and have got bites from the mosquitoes. But what of that?
Comfort must not be expected by folks that go a-pleasuring.

When the Portuguese are pertinacious, I say '_Carracho_!'--the
great oath of the grandees, that very well supplies the place of
'Damme!'--and when dissatisfied with my neighbour, I pronounce
him '_Ambra di merdo_'. With these two phrases, and a third,'_Avra
bouro_', which signifieth 'Get an ass', I am universally understood to
be a person of degree and a master of languages. How merrily we
lives that travellers be!--if we had food and raiment. But, in sober
sadness, anything is better than England, and I am infinitely amused
with my pilgrimage, as far as it has gone.

To-morrow we start to ride post near 400 miles as far as Gibraltar,
where we embark for Melita and Byzantium. A letter to Malta will find
me, or to be forwarded, if I am absent. Pray embrace the Drury and
Dwyer, and all the Ephesians you encounter. I am writing with Butler's
donative pencil, which makes my bad hand worse. Excuse illegibility.

Hodgson! send me the news, and the deaths and defeats and capital
crimes and the misfortunes of one's friends; and let us hear of
literary matters, and the controversies and the criticisms. All this
will be pleasant--'_Suave mari magno_, &c.' Talking of that, I have
been sea-sick, and sick of the sea. Adieu.


_Announces his engagement_

Newstead Abbey, 20 _Sept._ 1814.

  Here's to her who long
  Hath waked the poet's sigh!
  The girl who gave to song
  What gold could never buy.


I am going to be married--that is, I am accepted, and one usually
hopes the rest will follow. My mother of the Gracchi (that _are_ to
be), _you_ think too strait-laced for me, although the paragon of only
children, and invested with 'golden opinions of all sorts of men', and
full of 'most blest conditions' as Desdemona herself. Miss Milbanke
is the lady, and I have her father's invitation to proceed there in my
elect capacity,--which, however, I cannot do until I have settled some
business in London, and got a blue coat.

She is said to be an heiress, but of that I really know nothing
certainly, and shall not inquire. But I do know, that she has talents
and excellent qualities; and you will not deny her judgement, after
having refused six suitors and taken me.

Now, if you have anything to say against this, pray do; my mind's
made up, positively fixed, determined, and therefore I will listen to
reason, because now it can do no harm. Things may occur to break it
off, but I will hope not. In the meantime I tell you (a _secret_, by
the by,--at least till I know she wishes it to be public) that I have
proposed and am accepted. You need not be in a hurry to wish me joy,
for one mayn't be married for months. I am going to town to-morrow,
but expect to be here, on my way there, within a fortnight.

If this had not happened, I should have gone to Italy. In my way down,
perhaps you will meet me at Nottingham, and come over with me here.
I need not say that nothing will give me greater pleasure. I must, of
course, reform thoroughly; and, seriously, if I can contribute to
her happiness, I shall secure my own. She is so good a person
that--that--in short, I wish I was a better.


_No bid for sweet voices_

Venice, 6 _April_, 1819.

The second canto of Don Juan was sent, on Saturday last, by post, in
four packets, two of four, and two of three sheets each, containing
in all two hundred and seventeen stanzas, octave measure. But I will
permit no curtailments.... You shan't make _canticles_ of my cantos.
The poem will please, if it is lively; if it is stupid, it will fail;
but I will have none of your damned cutting and slashing. If you
please, you may publish _anonymously_; it will perhaps be better; but
I will battle my way against them all, like a porcupine.

So you and Mr. Foscolo, etc., want me to undertake what you call a
'great work'? an Epic Poem, I suppose or some such pyramid. I'll try
no such thing; I hate tasks. And then 'seven or eight years'! God send
us all well this day three months, let alone years. If one's years
can't be better employed than in sweating poesy, a man had better be a
ditcher. And works, too!--is _Childe Harold_ nothing? You have so many
'_divine_' poems, is it nothing to have written a _human_ one? without
any of your worn-out machinery. Why, man, I could have spun the
thoughts of the four cantos of that poem into twenty, had I wanted to
book-make, and its passion into as many modern tragedies. Since you
want _length_, you shall have enough of _Juan_, for I'll make fifty

Besides, I mean to write my best work in _Italian_, and it will take
me nine years more thoroughly to master the language; and then if my
fancy exist, and I exist too, I will try what I _can_ do _really_. As
to the estimation of the English which you talk of, let them
calculate what it is worth, before they insult me with their insolent

I have not written for their pleasure. If they are pleased, it is that
they chose to be so; I have never flattered their opinions, nor their
pride; nor will I. Neither will I make 'Ladies' books' '_al dilettar
le femine e la plebe_'. I have written from the fullness of my mind,
from passion, from impulse, from many motives, but not for their
'sweet voices'.

I know the precise worth of popular applause, for few scribblers have
had more of it; and if I chose to swerve into their paths, I could
retain it, or resume it. But I neither love ye, nor fear ye; and
though I buy with ye and sell with ye, and talk with ye, I will
neither eat with ye, drink with ye, nor pray with ye. They made me,
without my search, a species of popular idol; they, without reason or
judgement, beyond the caprice of their good pleasure, threw down the
image from its pedestal; it was not broken with the fall, and they
would, it seems, again replace it,--but they shall not.

You ask about my health: about the beginning of the year I was in a
state of great exhaustion ... and I was obliged to reform my 'way of
life', which was conducting me from the 'yellow leaf' to the ground,
with all deliberate speed. I am better in health and morals, and very
much yours, &c.--

PS. I have read Hodgson's '_Friends_'. He is right in defending Pope
against the bastard pelicans of the poetical winter day, who add
insult to their parricide, by sucking the blood of the parent of
English _real_ poetry,--poetry without fault,--and then spurning the
bosom which fed them.


_The cemetery at Bologna_

Bologna, 7 _June_, 1819.

... I have been picture-gazing this morning at the famous Domenichino
and Guido, both of which are superlative. I afterwards went to the
beautiful cemetery of Bologna, beyond the walls, and found, besides
the superb burial-ground, an original of a Custode, who reminded me
of the grave-digger in _Hamlet_. He has a collection of capuchins'
skulls, labelled on the forehead, and taking down one of them, said,
'This was Brother Desiderio Berro, who died at forty--one of my best
friends. I begged his head of his brethren after his decease, and they
gave it me. I put it in lime, and then boiled it. Here it is, teeth
and all, in excellent preservation. He was the merriest, cleverest
fellow I ever knew. Wherever he went, he brought joy; and whenever any
one was melancholy, the sight of him was enough to make him cheerful
again. He walked so actively, you might have taken him for a
dancer--he joked--he laughed--oh! he was such a Frate as I never saw
before, nor ever shall again!'

He told me that he had himself planted all the cypresses in the
cemetery; that he had the greatest attachment to them and to his dead
people; that since 1801 they had buried fifty-three thousand persons.
In showing some older monuments, there was that of a Roman girl of
twenty, with a bust by Bernini. She was a princess Bartorini, dead two
centuries ago: he said that, on opening her grave, they had found
her hair complete, and 'as yellow as gold'. Some of the epitaphs at
Ferrara pleased me more than the more splendid monuments at Bologna;
for instance:--

  '_Martini Luigi
  Implora pace.'
  'Lucrezia Picini
  Implora eterna quiete_.'

Can anything be more full of pathos? Those few words say all that can
be said or sought: the dead had had enough of life; all they wanted
was rest, and this they _implore_! There is all the helplessness,
and humble hope, and deathlike prayer, that can arise from the
grave--'_implora pace_'. I hope, whoever may survive me, and shall
see me put in the foreigners' burying-ground at the Lido, within the
fortress by the Adriatic, will see those two words, and no more, put
over me. I trust they won't think of 'pickling, and bringing me home
to Clod or Blunderbuss Hall'. I am sure my bones would not rest in
an English grave, or my clay mix with the earth of that country. I
believe the thought would drive me mad on my deathbed, could I suppose
that any of my friends would be base enough to convey my carcass back
to your soil. I would not even feed your worms, if I could help it.

So, as Shakespeare says of Mowbray, the banished Duke of Norfolk, who
died at Venice (see _Richard II_), that he, after fighting

  Against black Pagans, Turks, and Saracens,
  And toiled with works of war, retired himself
  To Italy, and there, at _Venice_, gave
  His body to that _pleasant_ country's earth,
  And his pure soul unto his captain, Christ,
  Under whose colours he had fought so long.

Before I left Venice, I had returned to you your late, and Mr.
Hobhouse's sheets of _Juan_. Don't wait for further answers from
me, but address yours to Venice, as usual. I know nothing of my own
movements; I may return there in a few days, or not for some time.
All this depends on circumstances. I left Mr. Hoppner very well....
My daughter Allegra was well too, and is growing pretty; her hair is
growing darker, and her eyes are blue. Her temper and her ways, Mr.
Hoppner says, are like mine, as well as her features: she will make,
in that case, a manageable young lady.

I have never heard anything of Ada, the little Electra of my
Mycenae.... But there will come a day of reckoning, even if I should
not live to see it.... What a long letter I have scribbled!

PS. Here, as in Greece, they strew flowers on the tombs. I saw a
quantity of rose-leaves, and entire roses, scattered over the graves
at Ferrara. It has the most pleasing effect you can imagine.


_In rebellious mood_

Bologna, 24 _Aug_. 1819.

I wrote to you by last post, enclosing a buffooning letter for
publication, addressed to the buffoon Roberts, who has thought proper
to tie a canister to his own tail. It was written off-hand, and in the
midst of circumstances not very favourable to facetiousness, so that
there may, perhaps, be more bitterness than enough for that sort of
small acid punch:--you will tell me. Keep the _anonymous_, in any
case: it helps what fun there may be. But if the matter grow serious
about _Don Juan_, and you feel _yourself_ in a scrape, or _me_ either,
_own that I am the author. I_ will never _shrink_, and if _you_ do,
I can always answer you in the question of Guatimozin to his
minister--each being on his own coals.

I wish that I had been in better spirits; but I am out of sorts, out
of nerves, and now and then (I begin to fear) out of my senses. All
this Italy has done for me, and not England: I defy all you, and your
climate to boot, to make me mad. But if ever I do really become a
Bedlamite, and wear a strait waistcoat, let me be brought back among
you: your people will then be proper company.

I assure you what I here say and feel has nothing to do with England,
either in a literary or personal point of view. All my present
pleasures or plagues are as Italian as the opera. And, after all, they
are but trifles; for all this arises from my 'Dama's' being in the
country for three days (at Capofiume). But as I could never live but
for one human being at a time (and, I assure you, _that one_ has never
been _myself_, as you may know by the consequences, for the _selfish_
are _successful_ in life), I feel alone and unhappy.

I have sent for my daughter from Venice, and I ride daily, and walk in
a garden, under a purple canopy of grapes, and sit by a fountain, and
talk with the gardener of his tools, which seem greater than Adam's,
and with his wife, and with his son's wife, who is the youngest of the
party, and, I think, talks best of the three. Then I revisit the Campo
Santo, and my old friend, the sexton, has two--but _one_ the prettiest
daughter imaginable; and I amuse myself with contrasting her beautiful
and innocent face of fifteen with the skulls with which he has peopled
several cells, and particularly with that of one skull, dated 1766,
which was once covered (the tradition goes) by the most lovely
features of Bologna--noble and rich. When I look at these, and at
this girl--when I think of what _they were_, and what she must be--why
then, my dear Murray, I won't shock you by saying what I think. It is
little matter what becomes of us 'bearded men', but I don't like the
notion of a beautiful woman's lasting less than a beautiful tree--than
her own picture--her own shadow, which won't change so to the sun
as her face to the mirror. I must leave off, for my head aches
consumedly. I have never been quite well since the night of the
representation of Alfieri's _Mirra_, a fortnight ago.


_A trio of poets_

Ravenna, 26 _April_, 1821.

The child continues doing well, and the accounts are regular and
favourable. It is gratifying to me that you and Mrs. Shelley do not
disapprove of the step which I have taken, which is merely temporary.

I am very sorry to hear what you say of Keats--is it _actually_ true?
I did not think criticism had been so killing. Though I differ from
you essentially in your estimate of his performances, I so much abhor
all unnecessary pain, that I would rather he had been seated on the
highest peak of Parnassus than have perished in such a manner. Poor
fellow! though with such inordinate self-love he would probably
have not been very happy. I read the review of _Endymion_ in the
_Quarterly_. It was severe,--but surely not so severe as many reviews
in that and other journals upon others.

I recollect the effect on me of the _Edinburgh_ on my first poem;
it was rage, and resistance, and redress--but not despondency nor
despair. I grant that those are not amiable feelings; but, in this
world of bustle and broil, and especially in the career of writing,
a man should calculate upon his powers of _resistance_ before he goes
into the arena.

  Expect not life from pain nor danger free,
  Nor deem the doom of man reserved for thee.

You know my opinion of _that second-hand_ school of poetry. You
also know my high opinion of your own poetry,--because it is of
_no_ school. I read _Cenci_--but, besides that I think the _subject_
essentially _un_ dramatic, I am not an admirer of our old dramatists,
_as models_. I deny that the English have hitherto had a drama at all.
Your _Cenci_, however, was a work of power, and poetry. As to _my_
drama, pray revenge yourself upon it, by being as free as I have been
with yours.

I have not yet got your _Prometheus_, which I long to see. I have
heard nothing of mine, and do not know that it is yet published. I
have published a pamphlet on the Pope controversy, which you will not
like. Had I known that Keats was dead--or that he was alive and so
sensitive--I should have omitted some remarks upon his poetry,
to which I was provoked by his _attack_ upon _Pope_, and my
disapprobation of _his own_ style of writing.

You want me to undertake a great poem--I have not the inclination nor
the power. As I grow older, the indifference--_not_ to life, for we
love it by instinct--but to the stimuli of life, increases. Besides,
this late failure of the Italians has latterly disappointed me for
many reasons,--some public, some personal. My respects to Mrs. S.

PS. Could not you and I contrive to meet this summer? Could not you
take a run here _alone_?


_A plain statement of facts_

Pisa, 17 _Nov_. 1821,

I have to acknowledge the receipt of 'Ada's hair', which is very soft
and pretty, and nearly as dark already as mine was at twelve years
old, if I may judge from what I recollect of some in Augusta's
possession, taken at that age. But it don't curl,--perhaps from its
being let grow.

I also thank you for the inscription of the date and name, and I will
tell you why;--I believe that they are the only two or three words of
your handwriting in my possession. For your letters I returned; and
except the two words, or rather the one word, 'Household', written
twice in an old account book, I have no other. I burnt your last
note, for two reasons:--firstly, it was written in a style not
very agreeable; and, secondly, I wished to take your word without
documents, which are the worldly resources of suspicious people.

I suppose that this note will reach you somewhere about Ada's
birthday--the 10th of December, I believe. She will then be six,
so that in about twelve more I shall have some chance of meeting
her;--perhaps sooner, if I am obliged to go to England by business
or otherwise. Recollect, however, one thing, either in distance or
nearness;--every day which keeps us asunder should, after so long a
period, rather soften our mutual feelings, which must always have one
rallying-point as long as our child exists, which I presume we both
hope will be long after either of her parents.

The time which has elapsed since the separation has been considerably
more than the whole brief period of our union, and the not much longer
one of our prior acquaintance. We both made a bitter mistake; but now
it is over, and irrevocably so. For, at thirty-three on my part, and a
few years less on yours, though it is no very extended period of life,
still it is one when the habits and thought are generally so formed as
to admit of no modification; and as we could not agree when younger,
we should with difficulty do so now.

I say all this, because I own to you, that, notwithstanding
everything, I considered our reunion as not impossible for more than
a year after the separation;--but then I gave up the hope entirely and
for ever. But this very impossibility of reunion seems to me at least
a reason why, on all the few points of discussion which can arise
between us, we should preserve the courtesies of life, and as much of
its kindness as people who are never to meet may preserve perhaps more
easily than nearer connexions. For my own part, I am violent, but not
malignant; for only fresh provocations can awaken my resentments. To
you, who are colder and more concentrated, I would just hint, that
you may sometimes mistake the depth of a cold anger for dignity, and a
worse feeling for duty. I assure you that I bear you _now_ (whatever
I may have done) no resentment whatever. Remember, that _if you have
injured me_ in aught, this forgiveness is something; and that, if I
have _injured you_, it is something more still, if it be true, as the
moralists say, that the most offending are the least forgiving.

Whether the offence has been solely on my side, or reciprocal, or on
yours chiefly, I have ceased to reflect upon any but two things,--viz.
that you are the mother of my child, and that we shall never meet
again. I think if you also consider the two corresponding points with
reference to myself, it will be better for all three.


_Sympathy with the Greeks_

10 _March_, 1824.

Enclosed is an answer to Mr. Parruca's letter, and I hope that you
will assure him from me, that I have done and am doing all I can to
reunite the Greeks with the Greeks.

I am extremely obliged by your offer of your country-house (as for all
other kindness) in case that my health should require my removal; but
I cannot quit Greece while there is a chance of my being of any (even
supposed) utility:--there is a stake worth millions such as I am, and
while I can stand at all, I must stand by the cause. When I say this,
I am at the same time aware of the difficulties and dissensions and
defects of the Greeks themselves; but allowance must be made for them
by all reasonable people.

My chief, indeed _nine-tenths_ of my expenses here are solely in
advances to or on behalf of the Greeks, and objects connected with
their independence.

[_Enclosure, translated_]


10 _March_, 1824.

_Sir_,--I have the honour of answering your letter. My first wish has
always been to bring the Greeks to agree among themselves. I came here
by the invitation of the Greek Government, and I do not think that I
ought to abandon Roumelia for the Peloponnesus until that Government
shall desire it; and the more so, as this part is exposed in a greater
degree to the enemy. Nevertheless, if my presence can really be of any
assistance in uniting two or more parties, I am ready to go anywhere,
either as a mediator, or, if necessary, as a hostage. In these affairs
I have neither private views, nor private dislike of any individual,
but the sincere wish of deserving the name of the friend of your
country, and of her patriots.



_His first marriage_

[_No date. Postmark_, Rhayader. Summer of 1811.]


You will perhaps see me before you can answer this; perhaps not;
Heaven knows! I shall certainly come to York, but _Harriet Westbrook_
will decide whether now or in three weeks. Her father has persecuted
her in a most horrible way, by endeavouring to compel her to go to
school. She asked my advice: resistance, was the answer, at the same
time that I essayed to mollify Mr. W. in vain! And in consequence of
my advice _she_ has thrown herself upon _my_ protection.

I set off for London on Monday. How flattering a distinction!--I am
thinking of ten million things at once.

What have I said? I declare, quite _ludicrous_. I advised her to
resist. She wrote to say that resistance was useless, but that she
would fly with me, and threw herself upon my protection. We shall have
£200 a year; when we find it run short, we must live, I suppose, upon
love! Gratitude and admiration, all demand that I should love her
_for ever._ We shall see you at York. I will hear your arguments for
matrimonialism, by which I am now almost convinced. I can get lodgings
at York, I suppose. Direct to me at Graham's, 18, Sackville Street,

Your inclosure of £10 has arrived; I am now indebted to you £30.
In spite of philosophy, I am rather ashamed of this unceremonious
exsiccation of your financial river. But indeed, my dear friend, the
gratitude which I owe you for your society and attachment ought so far
to overbalance this consideration as to leave me nothing but that. I
must, however, pay you when I can.

I suspect that the _strain_ is gone for ever. This letter will
convince you that I am not under the influence of a _strain_.

I am thinking at once of ten million things. I shall come to live near
you, as Mr. Peyton.

Ever your most faithful friend.

I shall be at 18, Sackville Street; at least direct there. Do not send
more cash; I shall raise supplies in London.


_An introduction_

Keswick, 3 _Jan_. 1812.

You will be surprised at hearing from a stranger. No introduction has,
nor in all probability ever will authorize that which common thinkers
would call a liberty; it is, however, a liberty which, although not
sanctioned by custom, is so far from being reprobated by reason, that
the dearest interests of mankind imperiously demand that a certain
etiquette of fashion should no longer keep 'man at a distance from
man', or impose its flimsy fancies between the free communication of

The name of Godwin has been used to excite in me feelings of reverence
and admiration. I have been accustomed to consider him a luminary
too dazzling for the darkness which surrounds him. From the earliest
period of my knowledge of his principles, I have ardently desired
to share, on the footing of intimacy, that intellect which I have
delighted to contemplate in its emanations.

Considering, then, these feelings, you will not be surprised at the
inconceivable emotions with which I learned your existence and your
dwelling. I had enrolled your name in the list of the honourable dead.
I had felt regret that the glory of your being had passed from this
earth of ours. It is not so; you still live, and, I firmly believe,
are still planning the welfare of human kind.

I have but just entered on the scene of human operations; yet my
feelings and my reasonings correspond with what yours were. My course
has been short, but eventful. I have seen much of human prejudice,
suffered much from human persecution, yet I see no reason hence
inferable which should alter my wishes for their renovation. The
ill-treatment I have met with has more than ever impressed the truth
of my principles on my judgement. I am young, I am ardent in the cause
of philanthropy and truth; do not suppose that this is vanity; I am
not conscious that it influences this portraiture. I imagine myself
dispassionately describing the state of my mind. I am young; you
have gone before me--I doubt not, are a veteran to me in the years of
persecution. Is it strange that, defying prejudice as I have done; I
should outstep the limits of custom's prescription, and endeavour to
make my desire useful by a friendship with William Godwin?

I pray you to answer this letter. Imperfect as may be my capacity,
my desire is ardent and unintermitted. Half an hour would be at least
humanely employed in the experiment. I may mistake your residence;
certain feelings, of which I may be an inadequate arbiter, may induce
you to desire concealment; I may not, in fine, have an answer to this
letter. If I do not, when I come to London, I shall seek for you. I am
convinced I could represent myself to you in such terms as not to be
thought wholly unworthy of your friendship; at least, if desire for
universal happiness has any claim upon your preference, that desire I
can exhibit. Adieu! I shall earnestly await your answer.


_A subscription for Hunt_

_February_ 1813.


I am boiling with indignation at the horrible injustice and tyranny
of the sentence pronounced on Hunt and his brother; and it is on this
subject that I write to you. Surely the seal of abjectness and slavery
is indelibly stamped upon the character of England.

Although I do not retract in the slightest degree my wish for a
subscription for the widows and children of those poor men hung at
York, yet this £1000 which the Hunts are sentenced to pay is an affair
of more consequence. Hunt is a brave, a good, and an enlightened man.
Surely the public, for whom Hunt has done so much, will repay in part
the great debt of obligation which they owe the champion of their
liberties and virtues; or are they dead, cold, stone-hearted, and
insensible--brutalized by centuries of unremitting bondage?
However that may be, they surely may be excited into some slight
acknowledgement of his merits. Whilst hundreds of thousands are sent
to the tyrants of Russia, he pines in a dungeon, far from all that can
make life desired.

Well, I am rather poor at present; but I have £20 which is not
immediately wanted. Pray, begin a subscription for the Hunts; put down
my name for that sum, and, when I hear that you have complied with my
request, I will send it you. Now, if there are any difficulties in
the way of this scheme of ours, for the love of liberty and virtue,
overcome them. Oh! that I might wallow for one night in the Bank of

_Queen Mab_ is finished and transcribed. I am now preparing the notes,
which shall be long and philosophical. You will receive it with the
other poems. I think that the whole should form one volume; but of
that we can speak hereafter.

As to the French _Encyclopédie_, it is a book which I am
desirous--very desirous--of possessing, and if you could get me a few
months' credit (being at present rather low in cash), I should very
much desire to have it.

My dear sir, excuse the earnestness of the first part of my letter. I
feel warmly on this subject, and I flatter myself that so long as your
own independence and liberty remain uncompromised, you are inclined to
second my desires.

PS. If no other way can be devised for this subscription, will you
take the trouble on yourself of writing an appropriate advertisement
for the papers, inserting, by way of stimulant, my subscription?

On second thoughts, I enclose the £20.


_An article by Southey_

Florence, 15 _Oct_. 1819.


The droll remarks of the _Quarterly_, and Hunt's kind defence, arrived
as safe as such poison, and safer than such an antidote, usually do.

I am on the point of sending to you 250 copies of a work which I have
printed in Italy; which you will have to pay four or five pounds duty
upon, on my account. Hunt will tell you the _kind of thing_ it is,
and in the course of the winter I shall send directions for its
publication, _until the arrival of which directions, I request that
you would have the kindness not_ to open the box, _or, if by necessity
it is opened, to abstain from observing yourself or permitting others
to observe, what it contains_. I trust this confidently to you, it
being of consequence. Meanwhile, assure yourself that this work has no
reference, direct or indirect, to politics, or religion, or personal
satire, and that this precaution is merely literary.

The _Prometheus_, a poem in my best style, whatever that may amount
to, will arrive with it, but in MS., which you can print and publish
in the season. It is the most perfect of my productions.

Southey wrote the article in question, I am well aware. Observe the
impudence of the man in speaking of himself. The only remark worth
notice in this piece is the assertion that I imitate Wordsworth.
It may as well be said that Lord Byron imitates Wordsworth, or that
Wordsworth imitates Lord Byron, both being great poets, and deriving
from the new springs of thought and feeling, which the great events
of our age have exposed to view, a similar tone of sentiment, imagery,
and expression. A certain similarity all the best writers of any
particular age inevitably are marked with, from the spirit of that age
acting on all. This I had explained in my _Preface_, which the
writer was too disingenuous to advert to. As to the other trash, and
particularly that lame attack on my personal character, which was
meant so ill, and which I am not the man to feel, 'tis all nothing. I
am glad, with respect to that part of it which alludes to Hunt, that
it should so have happened that I dedicate, as you will see, a work
which has all the capacities for being popular to that excellent
person. I was amused, too, with the finale; it is like the end of the
first act of an opera, when that tremendous concordant discord sets
up from the orchestra, and everybody talks and sings at once. It
describes the result of my battle with their Omnipotent God; his
pulling me under the sea by the hair of my head, like Pharaoh; my
calling out like the devil who was _game_ to the last; swearing and
cursing in all comic and horrid oaths, like a French postilion on
Mount Cenis; entreating everybody to drown themselves; pretending not
to be drowned myself when I _am_ drowned; and lastly, _being_ drowned.

You would do me a particular kindness if you would call on Hunt, and
ask him when my parcel went, the name of the ship, and the name of the
captain, and whether he has any bill of lading, which, if he has, you
would oblige me by sending, together with the rest of the information,
by return of post, addressed to the Post Office, Florence.


_Keats and some others_

[Pisa] 11 _Nov_. 1820.


I am delighted to hear that you complain of me for not writing to you,
although I have much more reason to complain of you for not writing to
me. At least it promises me a letter from you, and you know with what
pleasure we receive, and with what anxiety we expect intelligence from
you--almost the only friends who now remain to us.

I am afraid that the strict system of expense to which you are limited
annoys you all very much, and that Hunt's health suffers both from
that and from the incredible exertions which I see by the _Indicators_
and the _Examiners_ that he is making. Would to Heaven that I had the
power of doing you some good! but when you are sure that the wish is
sincere, the bare expression of it may help to cheer you.

The Gisbornes are arrived, and have brought news of you, and some
books, the principal part of which, however, are yet to arrive by
sea. Keats's new volume has arrived to us, and the fragment called
_Hyperion_ promises for him that he is destined to become one of the
first writers of the age. His other things are imperfect enough, and,
what is worse, written in the bad sort of style which is becoming
fashionable among those who fancy that they are imitating Hunt and
Wordsworth. But of all these things nothing is worse than ----, in
spite of Hunt's extracting the only good stanzas, with his usual good
nature. Indeed, _I_ ought not to complain of Hunt's good nature, for
no one owes so much to it. Is not the vulgarity of these wretched
imitations of Lord Byron carried to a pitch of the sublime? His
indecencies, too, both against sexual nature, and against human
nature in general, sit very awkwardly upon him. He only affects the
libertine: he is, really, a very amiable, friendly, and agreeable
man, I hear. But is not this monstrous? In Lord Byron all this has
an analogy with the general system of his character, and the wit and
poetry which surround hide with their light the darkness of the thing
itself. They contradict it even; they prove that the strength and
beauty of human nature can survive and conquer all that appears most
inconsistent with it. But for a writer to be at once filthy and dull
is a crime against gods, men, and columns. For Heaven's sake do not
show this to any one but Hunt, for it would irritate the wasp's nest
of the irritable race of poets.

Where is Keats now? I am anxiously expecting him in Italy, when I
shall take care to bestow every possible attention on him. I consider
his a most valuable life, and I am deeply interested in his safety. I
intend to be the physician both of his body and his soul, to keep
the one warm, and to teach the other Greek and Spanish. I am aware,
indeed, in part, that I am nourishing a rival who will far surpass me;
and this is an additional motive, and will be an added pleasure.

We are at this moment removing from the Bagni to Pisa, for the Serchio
has broken its banks, and all the country about is under water. An old
friend and fellow-townsman of mine, Captain Medwin, is on a visit to
us at present, and we anxiously expect Keats, to whom I would write if
I knew where to address.

Adieu, my dear Marianne. Write soon; kiss all the babes for me, and
tell me news of them, and give my love to Bessy and Hunt.


_A literary collaboration_

Pisa, 26 _Aug._ 1821.


Since I last wrote to you, I have been on a visit to Lord Byron at
Ravenna. The result of this visit was a determination, on his part, to
come and live at Pisa; and I have taken the finest palace on the Lung'
Arno for him. But the material part of my visit consists in a message
which he desires me to give you, and which, I think, ought to add
to your determination--for such a one I hope you have formed--of
restoring your shattered health and spirits by a migration to these
'regions mild of calm and serene air'.

He proposes that you should come out and go shares with him and me,
in a periodical work, to be conducted here; in which each of the
contracting parties should publish all their original compositions and
share the profits. He proposed it to Moore, but for some reason it was
never brought to bear. There can be no doubt that the _profits_ of
any scheme in which you and Lord Byron engage, must, from various,
yet co-operating reasons, be very great. As for myself, I am for the
present only a sort of link between you and him, until you can know
each other, and effectuate the arrangement; since (to entrust you with
a secret which, for your sake, I withhold from Lord Byron) nothing
would induce me to share in the profits, and still less, in the
borrowed splendour of such a partnership. You and he, in different
manners, would be equal, and would bring, in a different manner, but
in the same proportion, equal stocks of reputation and success. Do not
let my frankness with you, nor my belief that you deserve it more than
Lord Byron, have the effect of deterring you from assuming a station
in modern literature which the universal voice of my contemporaries
forbids me either to stoop or to aspire to. I am, and I desire to be,

I did not ask Lord Byron to assist me in sending a remittance for your
journey; because there are men, however excellent, from whom we would
never receive an obligation, in the worldly sense of the word; and I
am as jealous for my friend as for myself. But I suppose that I shall
at last make up an impudent face, and ask Horace Smith to add to the
many obligations he has conferred on me. I know I need only ask.

I think I have never told you how very much I like your _Amyntas_; it
almost reconciles me to translations. In another sense I still demur.
You might have written another such a poem as the _Nymphs_, with no
access of efforts. I am full of thoughts and plans, and should do
something, if the feeble and irritable frame which incloses it was
willing to obey the spirit. I fancy that then I should do great
things. Before this you will have seen _Adonais_. Lord Byron, I
suppose from modesty, on account of his being mentioned in it, did
not say a word of _Adonais_, though he was loud in his praise of
_Prometheus_, and, what you will not agree with him in, censure of
the _Cenci_. Certainly, if _Marino Faliero_ is a drama, the _Cenci_
is not--but that between ourselves. Lord Byron is reformed, as far
as gallantry goes, and lives with a beautiful and sentimental Italian
lady, who is as much attached to him as may be. I trust greatly to his
intercourse with you, for his creed to become as pure as he thinks his
conduct is. He has many generous and exalted qualities, but the canker
of aristocracy wants to be cut out.




_Burns's cottage_

Maybole, 11 _July_ [1818].


... I am approaching Burns's cottage very fast. We have made continual
inquiries from the time we saw his tomb at Dumfries. His name, of
course, is known all about: his great reputation among the plodding
people is, 'that he wrote a good _mony_ sensible things'. One of the
pleasantest means of annulling self is approaching such a shrine as
the Cottage of Burns: we need not think of his misery--that is all
gone, bad luck to it! I shall look upon it hereafter with unmixed
pleasure, as I do my Stratford-on-Avon day with Bailey. I shall fill
this sheet for you in the Bardie's country, going no further than
this, till I get to the town of Ayr, which will be a nine miles' walk
to tea.

We were talking on different and indifferent things, when, on a
sudden, we turned a corner upon the immediate country of Ayr. The
sight was as rich as possible. I had no conception that the native
place of Burns was so beautiful; the idea I had was more desolate: his
'_Rigs of Barley_' seemed always to me but a few strips of green on a
cold hill--Oh, prejudice!--It was as rich as Devon. I endeavoured
to drink in the prospect, that I might spin it out to you, as the
silkworm makes silk from mulberry leaves. I cannot recollect it.
Besides all the beauty, there were the mountains of Arran Isle, black
and huge over the sea. We came down upon everything suddenly; there
were in our way the 'bonny Doon', with the brig that Tam o' Shanter
crossed, Kirk Alloway, Burns's Cottage, and then the Brigs of Ayr.
First we stood upon the Bridge across the Doon, surrounded by every
phantasy of green in tree, meadow, and hill: the stream of the Doon,
as a farmer told us, is covered with trees 'from head to foot'.
You know those beautiful heaths, so fresh against the weather of a
summer's evening; there was one stretching along behind the trees.

I wish I knew always the humour my friends would be in at opening
a letter of mine, to suit it to them as nearly as possible. I could
always find an egg-shell for melancholy, and, as for merriment, a
witty humour will turn anything to account. My head is sometimes in
such a whirl in considering the million likings and antipathies of our
moments, that I can get into no settled strain in my letters. My wig!
Burns and sentimentality coming across you and Frank Floodgate in the
office. Oh, Scenery, that thou shouldst be crushed between two puns!
As for them, I venture the rascalliest in the Scotch region. I hope
Brown does not put them in his journal: if he does, I must sit on the
cutty-stool all next winter. We went to Kirk Alloway. 'A prophet is
no prophet in his own country.' We went to the Cottage and took some
whisky. I wrote a sonnet for the mere sake of writing some lines under
the roof: they are so bad I cannot transcribe them. The man at the
cottage was a great bore with his anecdotes. I hate the rascal. His
life consists in fuzy, fuzzy, fuzziest. He drinks glasses, five for
the quarter, and twelve for the hour; he is a mahogany-faced old
jackass who knew Burns: he ought to have been kicked for having spoken
to him. He calls himself 'a curious old bitch', but he is a flat
old dog. I should like to employ Caliph Vathek to kick him. Oh, the
flummery of a birthplace! Cant! cant! cant! It is enough to give
a spirit the guts-ache. Many a true word, they say, is spoken in
jest--this may be because his gab hindered my sublimity: the flat dog
made me write a flat sonnet. My dear Reynolds, I cannot write about
scenery and visitings. Fancy is indeed less than a present palpable
reality, but it is greater than remembrance. You would lift your eyes
from Homer only to see close before you the real Isle of Tenedos. You
would rather read Homer afterwards than remember yourself. One song
of Burns's is of more worth to you than all I could think for a whole
year in his native country. His misery is a dead weight upon the
nimbleness of one's quill; I tried to forget it--to drink toddy
without any care--to write a merry sonnet--it won't do--he talked, he
drank with blackguards; he was miserable. We can see horribly clear,
in the works of such a man, his whole life, as if we were God's


_The poetic character_

Hampstead, 27 _Oct_. 1818.


Your letter gave me great satisfaction, more on account of its
friendliness than any relish of that matter in it which is accounted
so acceptable in the _genus irritabile_. The best answer I can
give you is in a clerklike manner to make some observations on two
principal points which seem to point like indices into the midst of
the whole _pro_ and _con_ about genius, and views, and achievements,
and ambition, _et coetera_. 1st. As to the poetical character itself
(I mean that sort, of which, if I am anything, I am a member; that
sort distinguished from the Wordsworthian, or egotistical sublime;
which is a thing _per se_, and stands alone), it is not itself--it has
no self--it is everything and nothing--it has no character--it enjoys
light and shade--it lives in gusto, be it foul or fair, high or low,
rich or poor, mean or elevated--it has as much delight in conceiving
an Iago as an Imogen. What shocks the virtuous philosopher delights
the chameleon poet. It does no harm from its relish of the dark side
of things, any more than from its taste for the bright one, because
they both end in speculation. A poet is the most unpoetical of
anything in existence, because he has no identity; he is continually
in for, and filling, some other body. The sun, the moon, the sea, and
men and women, who are creatures of impulse, are poetical, and have
about them an unchangeable attribute; the poet has none, no identity.
He is certainly the most unpoetical of all God's creatures. If, then,
he has no self, and if I am a poet, where is the wonder that I should
say I would write no more? Might I not at that very instant have been
cogitating on the characters of Saturn and Ops? It is a wretched thing
to confess, but it is a very fact, that not one word I ever utter can
be taken for granted as an opinion growing out of my identical nature.
How can it, when I have no nature? When I am in a room with people,
if I ever am free from speculating on creations of my own brain, then,
not myself goes home to myself, but the identity of every one in the
room begins to press upon me, [so] that I am in a very little time
annihilated--not only among men; it would be the same in a nursery of
children. I know not whether I make myself wholly understood: I hope
enough so to let you see that no dependence is to be placed on what I
said that day.

In the second place, I will speak of my views, and of the life I
purpose to myself. I am ambitious of doing the world some good: if
I should be spared, that may be the work of maturer years--in the
interval I will assay to reach to as high a summit in poetry as the
nerve bestowed upon me will suffer. The faint conceptions I have of
poems to come bring the blood frequently into my forehead. All I
hope is, that I may not lose all interest in human affairs--that
the solitary indifference I feel for applause, even from the finest
spirits, will not blunt any acuteness of vision I may have. I do not
think it will. I feel assured I should write from the mere yearning
and fondness I have for the beautiful, even if my night's labours
should be burnt every morning, and no eye ever shine upon them.
But even now I am perhaps not speaking from myself, but from some
character in whose soul I now live ...


_Returning advice_

Hampstead, 10 _Aug_. 1820.


I am very much gratified that you, in a foreign country, and with a
mind almost over-occupied, should write to me in the strain of the
letter beside me. If I do not take advantage of your invitation,
it will be prevented by a circumstance I have very much at heart to
prophesy. There is no doubt that an English winter would put an end to
me, and do so in a lingering, hateful manner. Therefore, I must either
voyage or journey to Italy, as a soldier marches up to a battery.
My nerves at present are the worst part of me, yet they feel soothed
that, come what extreme may, I shall not be destined to remain in one
spot long enough to take a hatred of any four particular bedposts. I
am glad you take any pleasure in my poor poem, which I would willingly
take the trouble to unwrite, if possible, did I care so much as I
have done about reputation. I received a copy of the _Cenci_, as from
yourself, from Hunt. There is only one part of it I am judge of--the
poetry and dramatic effect, which by many spirits nowadays is
considered the Mammon. A modern work, it is said, must have a purpose,
which may be the God. An artist must serve Mammon; he must have
'self-concentration'--selfishness, perhaps. You, I am sure,
will forgive me for sincerely remarking that you might curb your
magnanimity, and be more of an artist, and load every rift of your
subject with ore. The thought of such discipline must fall like cold
chains upon you, who perhaps never sat with your wings furled for six
months together. And is not this extraordinary talk for the writer of
_Endymion_, whose mind was like a pack of scattered cards? I am picked
up and sorted to a pip. My imagination is a monastery, and I am its
monk. I am in expectation of _Prometheus_ every day. Could I have my
own wish effected, you would have it still in manuscript, or be but
now putting an end to the second act. I remember you advising me not
to publish my first blights, on Hampstead Heath. I am returning advice
upon your hands. Most of the poems in the volume I send you have been
written above two years, and would never have been published but for a
hope of gain; so you see I am inclined enough to take your advice now.
I must express once more my deep sense of your kindness, adding my
sincere thanks and respects for Mrs. Shelley. In hope of soon seeing


_A despairing cry_

Naples, 1 _Nov_. [1820.]


Yesterday we were let out of quarantine, during which my health
suffered more from bad air and the stifled cabin than it had done the
whole voyage. The fresh air revived me a little, and I hope I am well
enough this morning to write to you a short calm letter;--if that can
be called one, in which I am afraid to speak of what I would
fainest dwell upon. As I have gone thus far into it, I must go on
a little;--perhaps it may relieve the load of _wretchedness_ which
presses upon me. The persuasion that I shall see her no more will kill
me. My dear Brown, I should have had her when I was in health, and I
should have remained well. I can bear to die--I cannot bear to leave
her. Oh, God! God! God! Everything I have in my trunks that reminds
me of her goes through me like a spear. The silk lining she put in my
travelling cap scalds my head. My imagination is horribly vivid
about her--I see her--I hear her. There is nothing in the world of
sufficient interest to divert me from her a moment. This was the case
when I was in England: I cannot recollect, without shuddering, the
time that I was a prisoner at Hunt's, and used to keep my eyes
fixed on Hampstead all day. Then there was a good hope of seeing
her again--Now!--O that I could be buried near where she lives! I
am afraid to write to her--to receive a letter from her--to see her
handwriting would break my heart--even to hear of her anyhow, to see
her name written, would be more than I can bear. My dear Brown, what
am I to do? Where can I look for consolation or ease? If I had any
chance of recovery, this passion would kill me. Indeed, through the
whole of my illness, both at your house and at Kentish Town, this
fever has never ceased wearing me out. When you write to me, which you
will do immediately, write to Rome (_poste restante_)--if she is well
and happy, put a mark thus +; if--

Remember me to all. I will endeavour to bear my miseries patiently.
A person in my state of health should not have such miseries to bear.
Write a short note to my sister, saying you have heard from me. Severn
is very well. If I were in better health I would urge your coming to
Rome. I fear there is no one can give me any comfort. Is there any
news of George? O that something fortunate had ever happened to me or
my brothers!--then I might hope,--but despair is forced upon me as a
habit. My dear Brown, for my sake, be her advocate for ever. I
cannot say a word about Naples; I do not feel at all concerned in the
thousand novelties around me. I am afraid to write to her. I should
like her to know that I do not forget her. Oh, Brown, I have coals of
fire in my breast. It surprises me that the human heart is capable of
containing and bearing so much misery. Was I born for this end? God
bless her, and her mother, and my sister, and George, and his wife,
and you, and all!...




_American Notes_

17 Elm Tree Road, 12 _Oct_. 1842.


Can you let me have an early copy of the _American Notes_ so that I
may review it in the _New Monthly_? Is it really likely to be ready
as advertised? I aim this at Devonshire Place, supposing you to be
returned, for with these winds 'tis no fit time for the coast. But
your bones are not so weather unwise (for ignorance _is_ bliss) as
mine. I should have asked this by word of mouth in Devonshire Place,
but the weather has kept me indoors. It is no fiction that the
complaint, derived from Dutch malaria seven years ago, is revived by
Easterly winds. Otherwise I have been better than usual, and 'never
say die'. Don't forget about the Yankee Notes. I never had but one
American friend, and lost him through _a good crop of pears_. He paid
us a visit in England; whereupon in honour of him, a pear tree, which
had never borne fruit to speak of within memory of man, was loaded
with ninety dozen of brown somethings. Our gardener said they were
a _keeping_ sort, and would be good at Christmas; whereupon, as our
Jonathan was on the eve of sailing for the States, we sent him a few
dozens to dessert him on the voyage. Some he put at the bottom of a
trunk (he wrote to us) to take to America; but he could not have been
gone above a day or two, when all _our_ pears began to rot! _His_
would, of course, by sympathy, and I presume spoilt his linen or
clothes, for I have never heard of him since. Perhaps he thought I had
_done_ him on purpose, and for sartin the tree, my accomplice, never
bore any more pears, good or bad, after that supernatural crop.

Pray present my respects for me to Mrs. Dickens. How she must enjoy
being at home and discovering her children, after her Columbusing, and
only discovering America!


_The uses of literature_

(From my bed)

17 Elm Tree Road, St. John's Wood, 18 _July_, 1843.


If my humble name can be of the least use for your purpose, it is
heartily at your service, with my best wishes for the prosperity of
the Manchester Athenaeum, and my warmest approval of the objects of
that Institution.

I have elsewhere recorded my own deep obligations to Literature--that
a natural turn for reading, and intellectual pursuits, probably
preserved me from the moral shipwreck so apt to befall those who are
deprived in early life of the paternal pilotage. At the very least my
books kept me aloof from the ring, the dog-pit, the tavern, and the
saloons, with their degrading orgies. For the closet associate of Pope
and Addison, the mind accustomed to the noble, though silent discourse
of Shakespeare and Milton, will hardly seek, or put up with low
company and slang. The reading animal will not be content with the
brutish wallowings that satisfy the unlearned pigs of the world.
Later experience enables me to depose to the comfort and blessing that
literature can prove in seasons of sickness and sorrow; how powerfully
intellectual pursuits can help in keeping the head from crazing, and
the heart from breaking; nay, not to be too grave, how generous mental
food can even atone for a meagre diet; rich fare on the paper, for
short commons on the cloth.

Poisoned by the malaria of the Dutch marshes, my stomach for many
months resolutely set itself against fish, flesh, or fowl; my appetite
had no more edge than the German knife placed before me. But luckily
the mental palate and digestion were still sensible and vigorous; and
whilst I passed untasted every dish at the Rhenish table-d'-hôte,
I could still enjoy my _Peregrine Pickle_, and the feast after the
manner of the Ancients. There was no yearning towards calf's head
_à la tortue_, or sheep's heart; but I could still relish Head _à la
Brunnen_, and the _Heart of Mid-Lothian._ Still more recently it was
my misfortune, with a tolerable appetite, to be condemned to Lenten
fare, like Sancho Panza, by my physician, to a diet, in fact, lower
than any prescribed by the Poor-Law Commissioners, all animal food,
from a bullock to a rabbit, being strictly interdicted, as well as
all fluids stronger than that which lays dust, washes pinafores, and
waters polyanthus. But the feast of reason and the flow of soul were
still mine!

Denied beef, I had Bulwer and Cowper; forbidden mutton, there was
Lamb; and in lieu of pork, the great Bacon, or Hogg. Then as to
beverage; it was hard, doubtless, for a Christian to set his face,
like a Turk, against the juice of the grape. But, eschewing wine,
I had still my Butler; and in the absence of liquor, all the Choice
Spirits from Tom Browne to Tom Moore. Thus though confined physically
to the drink that drowns kittens, I quaffed mentally, not merely the
best of our own home-made, but the rich, racy, sparkling growths of
France and Italy, of Germany and Spain; the champagne of Molière, the
Monte Pulciano of Boccaccio, the hock of Schiller, and the sherry of
Cervantes. Depressed bodily by the fluid that damps everything, I got
intellectually elevated with Milton, a little merry with Swift, or
rather jolly with Rabelais, whose Pantagruel, by the way, is equal to
the best gruel with rum in it.

So far can Literature palliate, or compensate, for gastronomical
privations. But there are other evils, great and small, in this world,
which try the stomach less than the head, the heart, and the temper;
bowls that will not roll right, well-laid schemes that will 'gang
aglee', and ill winds that blow with the pertinacity of the monsoon.
Of these Providence has allotted me a full share, but still,
paradoxical as it may sound, my _burthen_ has been greatly lightened
by a _load of books_. The manner of this will be best understood by a
_feline_ illustration. Everybody has heard of the two Kilkenny cats,
who devoured each other; but it is not so generally known, that they
left behind them an orphan kitten, which, true to its breed, began to
eat itself up, till it was diverted from the operation by a mouse. Now
the human mind, under vexation, is like that kitten, for it is apt to
_prey upon itself_, unless drawn off by a new object, and none better
for the purpose than a book. For example, one of Defoe's; for who,
in reading his thrilling _History of the Great Plague_, would not be
reconciled to a few little ones?

Many, many a dreary weary hour have I got over--many a gloomy
misgiving postponed--many a mental and bodily annoyance forgotten by
help of the tragedies, and comedies, of our dramatists and novelists!
Many a trouble has been soothed by the still small voice of the moral
philosopher; many a dragon-like care charmed to sleep by the sweet
song of the poet! For all which I cry incessantly, not aloud, but in
my heart, 'Thanks and honour to the glorious masters of the pen, and
the great inventors of the press!' Such has been my own experience of
the blessing and comfort of literature and intellectual pursuits;
and of the same mind, doubtless, was Sir Humphry Davy, who went for
_Consolations in Travel_, not to the inn, or the posting-house, but to
his library and his books.


_A humourist to the last_



God bless you and yours, and good-bye! I drop these few lines, as in a
bottle from a ship water-logged, and on the brink of foundering, being
in the last stage of dropsical debility; but though suffering in body,
serene in mind. So without reversing my union-jack, I await my last
lurch. Till which, believe me, dear Moir,

Yours most truly.


_A farewell letter_

Devonshire Lodge, New Finchley Road, [1845].


We are not to meet in the flesh. Given over by my physicians and by
myself, I am only kept alive by frequent instalments of mulled port
wine. In this extremity I feel a comfort, for which I cannot refrain
from again thanking you, with all the sincerity of a dying man,--and,
at the same time, bidding you a respectful farewell.

Thank God my mind is composed and my reason undisturbed, but my race
as an author is run. My physical debility finds no tonic virtue in
a steel pen, otherwise I would have written one more paper--a
forewarning one--against an evil, or the danger of it, arising from
a literary movement in which I have had some share, a one-sided
humanity, opposite to that Catholic Shakespearian sympathy, which
felt with King as well as Peasant, and duly estimated the mortal
temptations of both stations. Certain classes at the poles of Society
are already too far asunder; it should be the duty of our writers to
draw them nearer by kindly attraction, not to aggravate the existing
repulsion, and place a wider moral gulf between Rich and Poor, with
Hate on the one side and Fear on the other. But I am too weak for this
task, the last I had set myself; it is death that stops my pen, you
see, and not the pension.

God bless you, Sir, and prosper all your measures for the benefit of
my beloved country.






_A joint epistle_

Bagni di Lucca, 6 _Oct_. 1857.


(It is hard to write, but you bade me do so; yet I had better say
'Master Hunt', as they used to call Webster or Ford.) A nine months'
silence after such a letter as yours seems too strange even to you
perhaps. So understand that you gave us more delight at once than we
could bear, that was the beginning of the waiting to recover spirit
and try and do one's feeling a little less injustice. But soon
followed unexpected sorrows to us and to you, and the expression of
even gratitude grew hard again. Certainly all this while your letter
has been laid before our very eyes, and we have waited for a brighter
day than ever came till we left Florence two months ago and more, then
we brought it to 'answer' among the chestnut trees; but immediately
on our arrival a friend was attacked by fever, and we were kept in
anxiety about him for six weeks. At last he recovered sufficiently to
leave for Florence, and (just think) our little boy became ill,
for the first time in his life, and gave us solicitude enough for a
fortnight: it is nothing now that it is over; he is going about now
almost as well as before, and we go away to-morrow, as I said. But I
will try and get one, at least, of the joys I came to find here, and
really write to you from this place, as I meant to do. '_I_'--you
know it is my wife that I write for, though you entangle and distract
either of us by the reverberations (so to speak) of pleasures over and
above the pleasure you give us. I intend to say, that you praise that
poem, and mix it up with praise of her very self, and then give it to
me directly, and then give it to _her_ with the pride you have just
given me, and then it somehow comes back to me increased so far, till
the effect is just as you probably intended. I wish my wife may know
you more: I wish you may see and know her more, but you cannot live
by her eleven years, as I have done--or yes, what cannot you do, being
the man, the poet you are? This last word, I dare think, I have a
right to say; I _have_ always venerated you as a poet; I believe your
poetry to be sure of its eventual reward; other people, not unlikely,
may feel like me, that there has been no need of getting into feverish
haste to cry out on what is; yet you, who wrote it, can leave it and
look at other poetry, and speak so of it: how well of you!

I am still too near the production of _Aurora Leigh_ to be quite able
to see it all; my wife used to write it, and lay it down to hear our
child spell, or when a visitor came,--it was thrust under the cushion
then. At Paris, a year ago last March, she gave me the first six books
to read, I having never seen a line before. She then wrote the rest,
and transcribed them in London, where I read them also. I wish, in
one sense, that I had written and she had read it.... I shall commend
myself to you by telling you this. Indeed, the proper acknowledgement
of your letter seems to be that one should do something, not say
something. If you were here, I might quite naturally begin repeating
_Giaffar_ or _Solomon_, and the rest. You would see whether I was not
capable of getting all the good out of your praise.

While I write, there is a strange thing that happened last night
impossible to get out of my thoughts. It may give you pain to tell you
of it, yet if with the pain come triumphant memories and hopes, as I
expect there will, you may choose the pain with them. What decides me
to tell it is that I heard you years ago allude to the destruction of
a volume of _Lamia, Isabella, &c., to be restored to you yet_--now you
remember; also, I think, of your putting my name near Shelley's in the
end of your letter, where you say 'since I lost Shelley'. Is it not
strange that I should have transcribed for the first time, last night,
the _Indian Serenade_ that, together with some verses of Metastasio,
accompanied that book? That I should have been reserved to tell
the present possessor of them--to whom they were given by Captain
Roberts--_what_ the poem _was, and that it had been published_! It is
preserved religiously; but the characters are all but illegible, and
I needed a good magnifying-glass to be quite sure of such of them as
remain. The end is that I have rescued three or four variations in the
reading of that divine little poem, as one reads it, at least, in the
_Posthumous Poems_. It is headed the _Indian_ _Serenade_ (not _Lines
to an Indian Air_). In the first stanza the seventh line is 'Hath led
me'; in the second, the third line is 'And the champak's odours fail';
and the eighth, 'O! Beloved as thou art!' In the last stanza, the
seventh line was, 'Oh, press it to thine own again.' Are not all these
better readings? (even to the 'Hath' for 'Has'.) There, I give them
you as you gave us Milton's hair. If I have mistaken in telling you,
you will understand and forgive.

I think I will ask my wife to say a word or two so I shall be sure
that you forgive. Now let my wife say the remainder. All I have
wished to do--know how little likely it was that I should succeed in
that--was to assure you of my pride and affectionate gratitude.--God
bless you ever,


Dear friend, I will say; for I feel it must be something as good as
friendship that can forgive and understand this silence, so much like
the veriest human kind of ingratitude. When I look back and think--all
this time after that letter, and not a sign made--I wonder. Yet,
if you knew! First of all, we were silent because we waited for
information which you seemed to desire.... Then there were sadder
reasons. Poor _Aurora_, that you were so more than kind to (oh, how
can I think of it?), has been steeped in tears, and some of them of a
very bitter sort. Your letter was addressed to my husband, you knowing
by your delicate true instinct where your praise would give most
pleasure; but I believe Robert had not the heart to write when I felt
that I should not have the spirits to add a word in the proper key.
When we came here from Florence a few months ago to get repose and
cheerfulness from the sight of the mountains, we said to ourselves
that we would speak to you at ease--instead of which the word was
taken from our own mouth, and we have done little but sit by sick beds
and meditate on gastric fevers. So disturbed we have been--so sad! our
darling precious child the last victim. To see him lying still on his
golden curls, with cheeks too scarlet to suit the poor patient eyes,
looking so frightfully like an angel! It was very hard. But this is
over, I do thank God, and we are on the point of carrying back our
treasure with us to Florence to-morrow, quite recovered, if a little
thinner and weaker, and the young voice as merry as ever. You are
aware that that child I am more proud of than twenty _Auroras_, even
after Leigh Hunt has praised them. He is eight years old, has never
been '_crammed_', but reads English, Italian, French, German, and
plays the piano--then, is the sweetest child! sweeter than he looks.
When he was ill, he said to me, 'You pet! don't be unhappy about
_me_. Think it's a boy in the street, and be a little sorry, but not
unhappy.' Who could not be unhappy, I wonder?

I never saw your book called the _Religion of the Heart._ It's the
only book of yours I never saw, and I mean to wipe out that reproach
on the soonest day possible. I receive more dogmas, perhaps (my
'perhaps' being in the dark rather), than you do. I believe in the
divinity of Jesus Christ in the intensest sense--that he was God
absolutely. But for the rest, I am very unorthodox--about the spirit,
the flesh, and the devil, and if you would not let me sit by you, a
great many churchmen wouldn't; in fact, churches do all of them, as at
present constituted, seem too narrow and low to hold true Christianity
in its proximate developments. I, at least, cannot help believing them

My dear friend, can we dare, after our sins against you--can we dare
_wish_ for a letter from you sometimes? Ask, we dare not. May God
bless you. Even if you had not praised me and made me so grateful,
I should be grateful to you for three things--for your poetry (that
first), then for Milton's hair, and then for the memory I have of
our visit to you, when you sat in that chair and spoke so mildly and
deeply at once.

Let me be ever affectionately yours,





_Trials of a governess_

_July_ 1839.

I cannot procure ink, without going into the drawing-room, where I do
not wish to go.... I should have written to you long since, and told
you every detail of the utterly new scene into which I have lately
been cast, had I not been daily expecting a letter from yourself, and
wondering and lamenting that you did not write; for you will remember
it was your turn. I must not bother you too much with my sorrows, of
which, I fear, you have heard an exaggerated account. If you were near
me, perhaps I might be tempted to tell you all, to grow egotistical,
and pour out the long history of a private governess's trials and
crosses in her first situation. As it is, I will only ask you to
imagine the miseries of a reserved wretch like me, thrown at once into
the midst of a large family--proud as peacocks and wealthy as Jews--at
a time when they were particularly gay--when the house was filled with
company--all strangers--people whose faces I had never seen before.
In this state I had charge given me of a set of pampered, spoilt,
turbulent children, whom I was expected constantly to amuse, as well
as to instruct. I soon found that the constant demand on my stock
of animal spirits reduced them to the lowest state of exhaustion; at
times I felt--and, I suppose, seemed--depressed. To my astonishment,
I was taken to task on the subject by Mrs.----, with a sternness of
manner and a harshness of language scarcely credible; like a fool, I
cried most bitterly. I could not help it; my spirits quite failed me
at first. I thought I had done my best--strained every nerve to please
her; and to be treated in that way, merely because I was shy and
sometimes melancholy, was too bad. At first I was for giving all up
and going home. But, after a little reflection, I determined to summon
what energy I had, and to weather the storm. I said to myself, 'I have
never yet quitted a place without gaining a friend; adversity is
a good school; the poor are born to labour, and the dependent to
endure.' I resolved to be patient, to command my feelings, and to take
what came; the ordeal, I reflected, would not last many weeks, and I
trusted it would do me good. I recollected the fable of the willow and
the oak; I bent quietly, and now, I trust, the storm is blowing over
me. Mrs. ---- is generally considered an agreeable woman; so she is, I
doubt not, in general society. Her health is sound, her animal spirits
good, consequently she is cheerful in company; but oh! does this
compensate for the absence of every fine feeling--of every gentle and
delicate sentiment? She behaves somewhat more civilly to me now than
she did at first, and the children are a little more manageable; but
she does not know my character, and she does not wish to know it.
I have never had five minutes' conversation with her since I came,
except while she was scolding me. I have no wish to be pitied, except
by yourself; if I were talking to you I could tell you much more.


_Thanks for advice_


... Authors are generally very tenacious of their productions, but I
am not so much attached to this but that I can give it up without
much distress. No doubt, if I had gone on, I should have made quite
a Richardsonian concern of it.... I had materials in my head for
half-a-dozen volumes.... Of course, it is with considerable regret I
relinquish any scheme so charming as the one I have sketched. It is
very edifying and profitable to create a world out of your own brains,
and people it with inhabitants, who are so many Melchisedecs, and have
no father nor mother but your own imagination.... I am sorry I did
not exist fifty or sixty years ago, when the _Ladies' Magazine_ was
flourishing like a green bay tree. In that case, I make no doubt, my
aspirations after literary fame would have met with due encouragement,
and I should have had the pleasure of introducing Messrs. Percy and
West into the very best society, and recording all their sayings and
doings in double-columned close-printed pages.... I recollect, when I
was a child, getting hold of some antiquated volumes, and reading
them by stealth with the most exquisite pleasure. You give a correct
description of the patient Grisels of those days. My aunt was one of
them; and to this day she thinks the tales of the _Ladies' Magazine_
infinitely superior to any trash of modern literature. So do I; for
I read them in childhood, and childhood has a very strong faculty of
admiration, but a very weak one of criticism.... I am pleased that
you cannot quite decide whether I am an attorney's clerk or a
novel-reading dressmaker. I will not help you at all in the discovery;
and as to my handwriting, or the ladylike touches in my style and
imagery, you must not draw any conclusion from that--I may employ an
amanuensis. Seriously, sir, I am very much obliged to you for your
kind and candid letter. I almost wonder you took the trouble to read
and notice the novelette of an anonymous scribe, who had not even the
manners to tell you whether he was a man or a woman, or whether his
'C.T.' meant Charles Timms or Charlotte Tomkins.


_At school abroad_

Brussels [c. _May_ 1842].

I was twenty-six years old a week or two since; and at this ripe time
of life I am a school-girl, and, on the whole, very happy in that
capacity. It felt very strange at first to submit to authority instead
of exercising it--to obey orders instead of giving them; but I like
that state of things. I returned to it with the same avidity that a
cow, that has long been kept on dry hay, returns to fresh grass. Don't
laugh at my simile. It is natural to me to submit, and very unnatural
to command.

This is a large school, in which there are about forty externes, or
day-pupils, and twelve pensionnaires, or boarders. Madame Héger,
the head, is a lady of precisely the same cast of mind, degree of
cultivation, and quality of intellect as Miss ----. I think the severe
points are a little softened, because she has not been disappointed,
and consequently soured. In a word, she is a married instead of a
maiden lady. There are three teachers in the school--Mademoiselle
Blanche, Mademoiselle Sophie, and Mademoiselle Marie. The two first
have no particular character. One is an old maid, and the other will
be one. Mademoiselle Marie is talented and original, but of repulsive
and arbitrary manners, which have made the whole school, except myself
and Emily, her bitter enemies. No less than seven masters attend, to
teach the different branches of education--French, Drawing, Music,
Singing, Writing, Arithmetic, and German. All in the house are
Catholics except ourselves, one other girl, and the gouvernante
of Madame's children, an Englishwoman, in rank something between a
lady's-maid and a nursery governess. The difference in country and
religion makes a broad line of demarcation between us and all the
rest. We are completely isolated in the midst of numbers. Yet I think
I am never unhappy; my present life is so delightful, so congenial to
my own nature, compared to that of a governess. My time, constantly
occupied, passes too rapidly. Hitherto both Emily and I have had good
health, and therefore we have been able to work well. There is one
individual of whom I have not yet spoken--M. Héger, the husband of
Madame. He is professor of rhetoric, a man of power as to mind, but
very choleric and irritable in temperament. He is very angry with me
just at present, because I have written a translation which he chose
to stigmatize as '_peu correcte_'. He did not tell me so, but wrote
the word on the margin of my book, and asked, in brief stern phrase,
how it happened that my compositions were always better than my
translations? adding that the thing seemed to him inexplicable. The
fact is, some weeks ago, in a high-flown humour, he forbade me to use
either dictionary or grammar in translating the most difficult English
compositions into French. This makes the task rather arduous, and
compels me every now and then to introduce an English word, which
nearly plucks the eyes out of his head when he sees it. Emily and he
don't draw well together at all. Emily works like a horse, and she has
had great difficulties to contend with--far greater than I have
had. Indeed, those who come to a French school for instruction ought
previously to have acquired a considerable knowledge of the French
language, otherwise they will lose a great deal of time, for the
course of instruction is adapted to natives and not to foreigners;
and in these large establishments they will not change their ordinary
course for one or two strangers. The few private lessons that M. Héger
has vouchsafed to give us, are, I suppose, to be considered a great
favour; and I can perceive they have already excited much spite and
jealousy in the school.

You will abuse this letter for being short and dreary, and there are a
hundred things which I want to tell you, but I have not time. Brussels
is a beautiful city. The Belgians hate the English. Their external
morality is more rigid than ours. To lace the stays without a
handkerchief on the neck is considered a disgusting piece of


_Curates to tea_


You thought I refused you coldly, did you? It was a queer sort of
coldness, when I would have given my ears to say Yes, and was obliged
to say No. Matters, however, are now a little changed. Anne is come
home, and her presence certainly makes me feel more at liberty. Then,
if all be well, I will come and see you. Tell me only when I must
come. Mention the week and the day. Have the kindness also to answer
the following queries, if you can. How far is it from Leeds to
Sheffield? Can you give me a notion of the cost? Of course, when I
come, you will let me enjoy your own company in peace, and not drag me
out a-visiting. I have no desire at all to see your curate. I think he
must be like all the other curates I have seen; and they seem to me
a self-seeking, vain, empty race. At this blessed moment, we have no
less than three of them in Haworth parish--and there is not one to
mend another. The other day, they all three, accompanied by Mr. S.,
dropped, or rather rushed, in unexpectedly to tea. It was Monday
(baking-day), and I was hot and tired; still, if they had behaved
quietly and decently, I would have served them out their tea in peace;
but they began glorifying themselves, and abusing Dissenters in such
a manner, that my temper lost its balance, and I pronounced a few
sentences sharply and rapidly, which struck them all dumb. Papa was
greatly horrified also, but I don't regret it.


_Herself and Miss Austen_

12 _Jan_. 1848.

Dear Sir,

I thank you then sincerely for your generous review; and it is with
the sense of double content I express my gratitude, because I am now
sure the tribute is not superfluous or obtrusive. You were not severe
on _Jane Eyre_; you were very lenient. I am glad you told me my faults
plainly in private, for in your public notice you touch on them so
lightly, I should perhaps have passed them over, thus indicated, with
too little reflection.

I mean to observe your warning about being careful how I undertake new
works; my stock of materials is not abundant, but very slender; and
besides, neither my experience, my acquirements, nor my powers, are
sufficiently varied to justify my ever becoming a frequent writer. I
tell you this, because your article in _Fraser_ left in me an uneasy
impression that you were disposed to think better of the author of
_Jane Eyre_ than that individual deserved; and I would rather you had
a correct than a flattering opinion of me, even though I should never
see you.

If I ever _do_ write another book, I think I will have nothing of what
you call 'melodrama'; I _think_ so, but I am not sure. I _think_,
too, I will endeavour to follow the counsel which shines out of
Miss Austen's 'mild eyes', 'to finish more and be more subdued'; but
neither am I sure of that. When authors write best, or at least, when
they write most fluently, an influence seems to waken in them, which
becomes their master--which will have its own way--putting out of view
all behests but its own, dictating certain words, and insisting
on their being used, whether vehement or measured in their nature;
new-moulding characters, giving unthought-of turns to incidents,
rejecting carefully-elaborated old ideas, and suddenly creating and
adopting new ones.

Is it not so? And should we try to counteract this influence? Can we
indeed counteract it?

       *       *       *       *       *

Why do you like Miss Austen so very much? I am puzzled on that point.
What induced you to say that you would have rather written _Pride and
Prejudice_, or _Tom Jones_, than any of the Waverley Novels?

I had not seen _Pride and Prejudice_ till I read that sentence of
yours, and then I got the book. And what did I find? An accurate,
daguerreotyped portrait of a commonplace face; a carefully-fenced,
highly-cultivated garden, with neat borders and delicate flowers; but
no glance of a bright, vivid physiognomy, no open country, no fresh
air, no blue hill, no bonny beck. I should hardly like to live with
her ladies and gentlemen, in their elegant but confined houses. These
observations will probably irritate you, but I shall run the risk.

Now I can understand admiration of George Sand; for though I never saw
any of her works which I admired throughout (even _Consuelo_, which
is the best, or the best that I have read, appears to me to couple
strange extravagance with wondrous excellence), yet she has a grasp of
mind, which, if I cannot fully comprehend, I can very deeply respect;
she is sagacious and profound;--Miss Austen is only shrewd and

Am I wrong--or, were you hasty in what you said? If you have time,
I should be glad to hear further on this subject; if not, or if you
think the questions frivolous, do not trouble yourself to reply.


_The argument continued_

18 _Jan_. 1848.

Dear Sir,

I must write you one more note, though I had not intended to trouble
you again so soon. I have to agree with you, and to differ from you.

You correct my crude remarks on the subject of the 'influence'; well,
I accept your definition of what the effects of that influence should
be; I recognize the wisdom of your rules for its regulation....

What a strange lecture comes next in your letter! You say I must
familiarize my mind with the fact, that 'Miss Austen is not a poetess,
has no "sentiment"' (you scornfully enclose the word in inverted
commas), 'no eloquence, none of the ravishing enthusiasm of
poetry',--and then you add, I _must_ 'learn to acknowledge her as _one
of the greatest artists, of the greatest painters of human character_,
and one of the writers with the nicest sense of means to an end that
ever lived'.

The last point only will I ever acknowledge.

Can there be a great artist without poetry?

What I call--what I will bend to, as a great artist then--cannot
be destitute of the divine gift. But by _poetry_, I am sure, you
understand something different to what I do, as you do by 'sentiment'.
It is _poetry_, as I comprehend the word, which elevates that
masculine George Sand, and makes out of something coarse, something
Godlike. It is 'sentiment', in my sense of the term--sentiment
jealously hidden, but genuine, which extracts the venom from that
formidable Thackeray, and converts what might be corrosive poison into
purifying elixir.

If Thackeray did not cherish in his large heart deep feeling for his
kind, he would delight to exterminate; as it is, I believe, he wishes
only to reform. Miss Austen being, as you say, without 'sentiment',
without _poetry_, maybe _is_ sensible, real (more _real_ than _true_),
but she cannot be great.

I submit to your anger, which I have now excited (for have I not
questioned the perfection of your darling?); the storm may pass over
me. Nevertheless, I will, when I can (I do not know when that will be,
as I have no access to a circulating library), diligently peruse all
Miss Austen's works, as you recommend.... You must forgive me for
not always being able to think as you do, and still believe me, Yours


_Illness and death of Emily Brontë_

23 _Nov_. 1848.

I told you Emily was ill, in my last letter. She has not rallied yet.
She is _very_ ill. I believe, if you were to see her, your impression
would be that there is no hope. A more hollow, wasted, pallid aspect
I have not beheld. The deep tight cough continues; the breathing after
the least exertion is a rapid pant; and these symptoms are accompanied
by pains in the chest and side. Her pulse, the only time she allowed
it to be felt, was found to beat 115 per minute. In this state she
resolutely refuses to see a doctor; she will give no explanation of
her feelings, she will scarcely allow her feelings to be alluded to.
Our position is, and has been for some weeks, exquisitely painful. God
only knows how all this is to terminate. More than once, I have been
forced boldly to regard the terrible event of her loss as possible,
and even probable. But nature shrinks from such thoughts. I think
Emily seems the nearest thing to my heart in the world.

       *       *       *       *       *

10 _Dec_.

I hardly know what to say to you about the subject which now interests
me the most keenly of anything in this world, for, in truth, I hardly
know what to think myself. Hope and fear fluctuate daily. The pain in
her side and chest is better; the cough, the shortness of breath, the
extreme emaciation, continue. I have endured, however, such tortures
of uncertainty on this subject that, at length, I could endure it
no longer; and as her repugnance to seeing a medical man continues
immutable,--as she declares 'no poisoning doctor' shall come near
her,--I have written, unknown to her, to an eminent physician in
London, giving as minute a statement of her case and symptoms as I
could draw up, and requesting an opinion. I expect an answer in a day
or two. I am thankful to say that my own health at present is very
tolerable. It is well such is the case; for Anne, with the best will
in the world to be useful, is really too delicate to do or bear much.
She too, at present, has frequent pains in the side. Papa is also
pretty well, though Emily's state renders him very anxious.

       *       *       *       *       *


I should have written to you before, if I had had one word of hope to
say; but I have not. She grows daily weaker. The physician's opinion
was expressed too obscurely to be of use. He sent some medicine, which
she would not take. Moments so dark as these I have never known. I
pray for God's support to us all. Hitherto He has granted it.

       *       *       *       *       *

21 _Dec_. 1848.

Emily suffers no more from pain or weakness now. She never will suffer
more in this world. She is gone, after a hard, short conflict. She
died on _Tuesday_, the very day I wrote to you. I thought it very
possible she might be with us still for weeks; and a few hours
afterwards, she was in eternity. Yes; there is no Emily in time or
on earth now. Yesterday we put her poor, wasted, mortal frame quietly
under the church pavement. We are very calm at present. Why should we
be otherwise? The anguish of seeing her suffer is over; the spectacle
of the pains of death is gone by; the funeral day is past. We feel she
is at peace. No need now to tremble for the hard frost and the keen
wind. Emily does not feel them. She died in a time of promise. We saw
her taken from life in its prime. But it is God's will, and the place
where she is gone is better than that she has left.

God has sustained me, in a way that I marvel at, through such agony
as I had not conceived. I now look at Anne, and wish she were well and
strong; but she is neither; nor is papa. Could you now come to us for
a few days? I would not ask you to stay long. Write and tell me if you
could come next week, and by what train. I would try to send a gig for
you to Keighley. You will, I trust, find us tranquil. Try to come. I
never so much needed the consolation of a friend's presence. Pleasure,
of course, there would be none for you in the visit, except what your
kind heart would teach you to find in doing good to others.


_Thackeray and 'Esmond'_

14 _Feb_. 1852.


It has been a great delight to me to read Mr. Thackeray's work; and
I so seldom now express my sense of kindness that, for once, you must
permit me, without rebuke, to thank you for a pleasure so rare and
special. Yet I am not going to praise either Mr. Thackeray or his
book. I have read, enjoyed, been interested, and after all, feel full
as much ire and sorrow as gratitude and admiration. And still one
can never lay down a book of his without the two last feelings having
their part, be the subject or treatment what it may. In the first half
of the book, what chiefly struck me was the wonderful manner in which
the writer throws himself into the spirit and letters of the times
whereof he treats; the allusions, the illustrations, the style,
all seem to me so masterly in their exact keeping, their harmonious
consistency, their nice, natural truth, their pure exemption from
exaggeration. No second-rate imitator can write in that way; no coarse
scene-painter can charm us with an allusion so delicate and perfect.
But what bitter satire, what relentless dissection of diseased
subjects! Well, and this, too, is right, or would be right, if
the savage surgeon did not seem so fiercely pleased with his work.
Thackeray likes to dissect an ulcer or an aneurism; he has pleasure
in putting his cruel knife or probe into quivering, living flesh.
Thackeray would not like all the world to be good; no great satirist
would like society to be perfect.

As usual, he is unjust to women; quite unjust. There is hardly any
punishment he does not deserve for making Lady Castlewood peep through
a keyhole, listen at a door, and be jealous of a boy and a milkmaid.
Many other things I noticed that, for my part, grieved and exasperated
me as I read; but then, again, came passages so true, so deeply
thought, so tenderly felt, one could not help forgiving and

But I wish he could be told not to care much for dwelling on the
political or religious intrigues of the times. Thackeray, in his
heart, does not value political or religious intrigues of any age or
date. He likes to show us human nature at home, as he himself daily
sees it; his wonderful observant faculty likes to be in action. In him
this faculty is a sort of captain and leader; and if ever any passage
in his writings lacks interest, it is when this master-faculty is for
a time thrust into a subordinate position. I think such is the case in
the former half of the present volume. Towards the middle, he throws
off restraint, becomes himself, and is strong to the close. Everything
now depends on the second and third volumes. If, in pith and interest,
they fall short of the first, a true success cannot ensue. If the
continuation be an improvement upon the commencement, if the stream
gather force as it rolls, Thackeray will triumph. Some people have
been in the habit of terming him the second writer of the day; it just
depends on himself whether or not these critics shall be justified in
their award. He need not be the second. God made him second to no man.
If I were he, I would show myself as I am, not as critics report me;
at any rate, I would do my best. Mr. Thackeray is easy and indolent,
and seldom cares to do his best. Thank you once more; and believe


'_Esmond' again_

10 _Nov_. 1852.

... I have read the third volume of _Esmond._ I found it both
entertaining and exciting to me; it seems to possess an impetus and
excitement beyond the other two,--that movement and brilliancy its
predecessors sometimes wanted, never fails here. In certain passages,
I thought Thackeray used all his powers; their grand, serious force
yielded a profound satisfaction. 'At last he puts forth his strength,'
I could not help saying to myself. No character in the book strikes
me as more masterly than that of Beatrix; its conception is fresh,
and its delineation vivid. It is peculiar; it has impressions of a
new kind--new at least, to me. Beatrix is not, in herself, all bad. So
much does she sometimes reveal of what is good and great as to suggest
this feeling--you would think she was urged by a Fate. You would think
that some antique doom presses on her house, and that once in so
many generations its brightest ornament was to become its greatest
disgrace. At times, what is good in her struggles against this
terrible destiny, but the Fate conquers. Beatrix cannot be an honest
woman and a good man's wife. She 'tries, and she _cannot_'. Proud,
beautiful, and sullied, she was born what she becomes, a king's
mistress. I know not whether you have seen the notice in the _Leader_;
I read it just after concluding the book. Can I be wrong in deeming
it a notice tame, cold, and insufficient? With all its professed
friendliness, it produced on me a most disheartening impression.
Surely, another sort of justice than this will be rendered to _Esmond_
from other quarters. One acute remark of the critic is to the effect
that Blanche Amory and Beatrix are identical--sketched from the same
original! To me they are about as identical as a weazel and a royal
tigress of Bengal; both the latter are quadrupeds,--both the former,

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