Sidor som bilder

With fortitude of mind, by heav'n forbid
To wear the weakness of a woman's heart,
Not less he feels the agonizing joy
At th’interesting tender moment, when
His children cling about his feet, while one,
Of age maturer, climbs his trembling knee,
The envied kiss to snatch; while all
In silent language, still most eloquent,
Language inspired, the immediate gift of heav'n,
Explain the blessing of their sire's return.

“ But stop, advent'rous bard-release thy friend,
And drop descriptions where thou’rt sure to fail ;
Descriptions which deserve the painter's toil,
Which Dance or Zoffany could best express,
And teach the glowing canvass to explain
To thy friend's eyes his heart. O may that heart
Long glow with vital warmth ! late be the day
· When, yielding back its mortal part to earth,
It soars to join the beatific choir,
And taste those joys reserv’d for souls like thine !

“ Nor think this wish unkind! The world requires, Thy friends demand examples such as thine. Virtue abash’d, in this degen’rate age Needs that support which thou so well canst give. Happy in nature's and in fortune's smiles, 'Tis thine to make the guilty blush, to show Virtue in her own form how lovely, thine To set religion in her fairest light, - And vindicate the ways of God to man.”

“ Lydd, March 23, 1770. 6 What the d , am I to write like an angel in verse and prose, and not receive an answer? Then, Pistol, lay thy lead in furies' lap. What, I suppose you are cooking up something thảt is to be prodigiously clever; but mark me—it will never do, it will never do; for I will allow nothing to be studied; I will admit of nothing but extemporaneous productions — for I will not suffer myself to be excelled by you, which I know will be the case if you study,

—though, hang it, I don't see why I should fear you, for while you breathe nothing but smoke, eat beef, and drink port and porter, while I breathe air fresh from the sea, seasoned with attic salt, eat soup, and drink French wine, inspiring wine, warm from the steep Burgundian hill on which it ripened, and which still retains poetic gifts from Phoebus' rays imbibed, I say, I don't see why I should not write as well as you. However, I find you do not choose I should know whether I can or no, for you will not write at all. Ah me! there thou excell'st me, in that prudent virtue which yet I never did possess..

“ Poor Franco was buried with all funereal honours. He died of an epicunic (now don't run to look for that word in Johnson, for you won't find it, it being entirely my own, and you have it quite hot from the mint) disorder, which reigns here. And here let me beseech you to tell me why epicunic, from ei and xuwv, is not as much to the purpose as epidemic, from efi and Snuos. And so that I may not disturb your cogitations on the subject, I respectfully take my leave. "I am, Sir, your's,

6 R. C.” “ N.B. I do not expect you to take a fee for your opinion on this head. And nota magis quam bene—that I maintain this to be a letter in all points, and to all purposes, —and moreover, that it contains deep learning and profound thought; and further, that you now owe me three letters, – and further, - this deponent sayeth not.”

.. “ April 3d, 1770. “ Pray, sir, are you dead? Because if you are, I beg you or your executors would send me word of it.,


“ Lydd, May 30th, 1770.. “I don't know how it was, but I could never bring myself to look upon you as in danger. Your temperance, and the vigour of your constitution, had almost quieted my fears, and then popped in a little vanity of my own; namely, that I could not recollect a crime I had been guilty of worthy so severe a punishment as the loss of you. These were my thoughts while you were ill; but now you send me word you are recovered, I look back shuddering at the precipice I was at the brink of; each calm reflection points out the loss I should have endured, and philosophy does not bring in the necessary aids for the support of it. But religion does. I have returned my whole heart in thanksgiving for your recovery; not for your sake, but for my own.

“ I am glad you like my picture, though I find that when you are pleased you can flatter: but believe me, I am as sensible of all its faults as you are; nay, perhaps, as knowing more of the working part of a painter, I am more so. Upon the whole, I hope you will accept it as some small acknowledgement (the only one in my power) of the favours I have received of you, and particularly for the greatest, the honour of your acquaintance and friendship. Now for another subject. Mrs. Cobb is delivered of a fine boy, and they are both very well. I beg the favour of you, jointly with our friend N., to be his malé sponsors.—To conclude with asking another favour. Mrs. Cobb and I apprehend

that, after so severe an illness, the air of London may not be good for you, and we likewise imagine that an atmosphere impregnated with sea salts is the greatest of restoratives. Ergo, we should be much obliged to you, if it in any way suited you, if you would make use of our house for your recovery, where we will nurse you, if possible, as well as we love you. Adieu,

66 R. C.

“ Lydd, Sept. 26th, 1770.. 6 I wish, says I, the other morning, as I started from my bed; I wish, says I, rubbing my eyes, I knew where Bowdler was. I would certainly write to him, if it was only for satisfaction in a point which has troubled my repose so long, and eluded all my researches. The point in question is this : that when the said Bowdler wrote to me last, he mentioned staying at Spring Grove only a fortnight; only a fortnight, as a reason why it was impossible for him to come to Lydd. Heavens! cried I, what can be the matter with the poor fellow ? Has he got the gout, or the sciatica ? how else can he have lost, thus suddenly, all his locomotive faculties ? I was so uneasy, so alarmed at the dreadful picture fancy immediately painted on the retina of my imagination, that I should certainly have set out to see you immediately, but for reasons hereinafter to be mentioned. Methought I saw you stretched on the bed of affliction, supported in the arms of nature, while pain and disease were endeavouring to wrest you from her embrace. I heard the sigh of languor issue from your parching lips; I started at the pang which quivered on your cheek, yet (methinks I see you now) in the midst of the group I beheld religion pouring oil and wine into your wounds, and with rapture beheld the smile beaming on your countenance, that smile which you, and such alone as you, can ever experience amidst the horrors of dissolution.

“ The only thing that prevented my visiting you was, that I did not return from my journey (and consequently did not receive your letter) till the day subsequent to that day whereon you had appointed me to come; and had it been earlier, the fatigue of a journey of four hundred miles, performed in nine days, and the disarrangement of my affairs, I fear would have prevented my attending even you ; but, as it was, it was simply and solely impossible. You cannot conceive how I was delighted with my expedition. We visited the glorious dock at Portsmouth, and made an excursion to the enchanting Isle of Wight, which I think, and verily believe, has not its equal in our king's dominions : the woods in full foliage running down to the water's edge; but the women! the women ! every where angelic, are here archangels; but of this when we meet. I do not write now, I only desire you to put it in my power to write, as writing to you is next to the satisfaction of receiving your letters, one of the greatest I enjoy.

“ Adieu, where'er thou art,

... 66 R. C.“ Oh, as I shall be in London in a month, pray am I to lodge and board, or board and lodge, or only board, or only lodge, or neither, at your chambers ?”

“ Lydd, March 23d, 1771. “ If you had any idea of a stupid matrimonial téte-à-tête, you might guess possibly how my wife and I were sitting when your letter arrived this afternoon. She was reading Harris's Collection, and I Mezeray; the latter flew to the other end of the room in an instant, and in the scuffle for the first perusal of the letter, poor Harris had well nigh got himself

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