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J. BOWDLEH, ESQ. 35
self in a passion about it, and not write half what you had a mind to say.
'Give me the man That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him In my heart's core, ay in my heart of heart.'
"But you, indeed, expect every body to be as clever as yourself, or else truly you will be in a passion with them. Go to, go to, endeavour to learn the virtues of patience, forbearance, meekness, temperance. And to that end avoid N.; 'tis his company, his villainous company, hath been the ruin of thee. But mark me, do not shake him off till he has received my box, for it contains for thee a bottle of Frontignac (a present from ma femme), which well I know, unless thou lookest sharp, for his own purposes he will purloin. My melons come on well. By heaven, I said true when I told you I planted them for you — for, Dost thou hear?
• Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice
"Cequeje dis est la veritememe, tous les tresors de Vunivers n'ont de valeur que pour Pobjet qu'on aime.' To be sure my French quotation would be rather properer to one's mistress than one's friend; but, however, it is true for all that."
"Lydd, 27th Jan. "Well! and suppose your's "was dated the 14th, that is but thirteen days ago, and you have received a letter from me since you wrote, so you need not look so grave and grim. Besides, I think when folks are running about from London to Bath and from Bath to London, if a body writes at all it should be like Queen Anne's ministry to Lord Peterborough, *
that is, at him, and not, to him. You had a right to write to me again in answer to my last, but my inclination tends to mercy and not to justice, (unlike the people of Lydd, who wanted me very much the other day to hang a man upon suspicion of felony, which, by the bye, would have been at most only what the justice in Joseph Andrews calls a felonious larcenous kind of thing, if he had been really guilty: but this is all digression and nothing at all to the purpose, do you think it is ?) and, therefore, as my wife is very hard at work with her handmaids, and I am above in my room, by way of preventing myself from falling asleep, I thought I might as well scratch over a little paper, and make you pay for it, though it is like to be a strange letter, for my daughter is with me looking over a book of pictures, which want so much explanation, and I am so often called off to admire their astonishing beauty, that I can only write about nothing; and a very good subject too, for, to the best of my recollection, it is a maiden one, unsullied by the mercenary hands of authors, and I have the vanity to think that, were it publicly known that it had been so ably handled by me, no one in future would presume to attempt it. A shrewd suspicion has just shot itself across my brain, namely, that you have been all this while reading without understanding my letter. Now, confess honestly, did you not think at the bottom of the last page, that this on which I am now writing was to be covered with an essay on the thing called nothing? Alas! alas ! couldst thou not see that the treatise was concluded when you thought it was only going to begin? It is impossible to write to anything so impenetrable, so send me word who is the author of a newish book called 'Principles of Penal Law,' for, whoever he is, you may tell him he has had the honor of giving great pleasure to
"R. Cobb." "Lydd, March 16, 1770.
"With flesh of swine (unhallowed, Christian food!) And wine imported from the Gallic shore, Each sense was sated. In my elbow chair Half sitting, half recumbent, with one leg Resting on earth, the other on the stove, I mus'd on Robertson's historic page; While captive kings, and ev'n th' anointed head With triple crown adorn'd, by adverse fate Ordain'd to crouch beneath a conqueror's frown, Gave birth to ev'ry tender sentiment, and show'd That misery so intricately wove Within the web of human life, by human art Cannot be thence extracted, till the whole, The gleam of bliss, the perdurable woe, The warp, the woof, shall all together sink, And find a refuge only in the grave.
"Thus musing, not asleep, nor well awake,
■ Thou say'st I must write verses—be it so— Since verses are not always poetry;
Was I but bless'd with half his powers of song,
Thou might'st then boast thy friend; then might loud fame
On her broad pinions bear my endless name
To ages yet unborn.—Stop, fancied bliss,
To me not given, though reserved for him!
"Say, shall I tell—yet how can I express
"A vaunt, ye sons of riot! ye whose hearts Ne'er knew a father's feelings, hence! nor dare Intrude on scenes ye cannot understand!
"How shall I paint the unaw'd flash of joy
■ — How shall I,
The weakest of the followers of the nine,
"How can I paint maternal tenderness,
"But stop, advent'rous bard—release thy friend,
"Nor think this wish unkind! The world requires,
"Lydd, March 23, 1770.
"What the d , am I to write like an angel in verse
and prose, and not receive an answer? Then, Pistol, lay