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tends Mrs. Newton and yourself, and the young ladies. I am yours, my dear friend, as usual,

W. C.


Olney, March 20, 1785. My dear William–I thank


letter. It made me laugh, and there are not many things capable of being contained within the dimensions of a letter for which I see cause to be more thankful. I was pleased too to see my opinion of his lordship's nonchalance, upon a subject that you had so much at heart, completely verified. I do not know that the eye

of a nobleman was ever dissected. I cannot help supposing, however, that were that organ, as it exists in the head of such a personage, to be accurately examined, it would be found to differ materially in its construction from the eye of a commoner; so very different is the view that men in an elevated and in an humble station have of the same object. What appears great, sublime, beautiful, and important to you and to me, when submitted to my lord or his grace, and submitted too with the utmost humility, is either too minute to be visible at all, or, if seen, seems trivial and of no account. My supposition therefore seems not altogether chimerical.

In two months I have corrected proof-sheets to the amount of ninety-three pages, and no more. In

son's door, pop




other words, I have received three packets. Nothing is quick enough for impatience, and I suppose that the impatience of an author has the quickest of all possible movements. It appears to me, however, that at this rate we shall not publish till next autumn. Should you happen therefore to pass John

in head as you go, and just insinuate to him that, were his remittances rather more frequent, that frequency would be no inconvenience to me. I much expected one this evening, a fortnight having now elapsed since the arrival of the last. But none came, and I felt myself a little mortified. I took the

newspaper, and read it. There I found that the emperor and the Dutch are, after all their negotiations, going to war. Such reflections as these struck me. A great part of Europe is going to be involved in the greatest of all calamities: troops are in motion—artillery is drawn together- cabinets are busied in contriving schemes of blood and devastation—thousands will perish who are incapable of understanding the dispute, and thousands who, whatever the event may be, are little more interested in it than myself, will suffer unspeakable hardships in the course of the quarrel. Well! Mr. Poet, and how then ? You have composed certain verses, which you are desirous to see in print, and, because the impression seems to be delayed, you are displeased, not to say dispirited. Be ashamed of yourself! you live in a world in which your feelings may find worthier subjects - be concerned for the havoc of nations,



and mourn over your retarded volume, when you find a dearth of more important tragedies !

You postpone certain topics of conference to our next meeting. When shall it take place ? I do not wish for you just now, because the garden is a wilderness, and so is all the country around us. May we shall have 'sparagus, and weather in which we may stroll to Weston; at least we may hope for it; therefore come in May; you will find us happy to receive you and as much of your fair household as you can bring with you.

We are very sorry for your uncle's indisposition. The approach of summer seems however to be in his favour, that season being of all remedies for the rheumatism, I believe, the most effectual.

I thank you for your intelligence concerning the celebrity of John Gilpin. You may be sure that it was agreeable ; but your own feelings, on occasion of that article, pleased me most of all. Well, my friend, be comforted! You had not an opportunity of saying publicly, “ I know the author.” But the author himself will say as much for you soon, and perhaps will feel in doing so a gratification equal to your own.

In the affair of face-painting, I am precisely ou your opinion.


W. C.

* The poem of “The Task” was inscribed to Mr. Unwin.


Olney, April 9, 1785. My dear Friend—In a letter to the printer of the Northampton Mercury, we have the following history :--An ecclesiastic of the name of Zichen, German superintendent or Lutheran bishop of Zetterfeldt, in the year 1779 delivered to the courts of Hanover and Brunswick a prediction to the following purport: that an earthquake is at hand, the greatest and most destructive ever known ; that it will originate in the Alps and in their neighbourhood, especially at Mount St. Gothard ; at the foot of which mountain it seems four rivers have their source, of which the Rhine is one t-the names of the rest I have forgotten—they are all to be swallowed up; that the earth will open into an immense fissure, which will divide all Europe, reaching from the aforesaid mountain to the states of Holland; that the Zuyder Sea will be absorbed in the gulf; that the Bristol Channel will be no more; in short, that the north of Europe will be separated from the south, and that seven thousand cities, towns, and villages will be destroyed. This prediction he delivered at the aforesaid courts in the

* Private Correspondence.

+ This is a geographical error. The Rhine takes its rise in the canton of the Grisons. It is the Rhone which derives its source from the western flank of Mount St. Gothard, where there are three springs, which unite their waters to that tor rent. The river Aar rises not far distant, but there is no other river.- Edit.

year seventy-nine, asserting that in February following the commotion would begin, and that by Easter 1786 the whole would be accomplished. Accordingly, between the 15th and 27th of February, in the year eighty, the public gazettes and newspapers took notice of several earthquakes in the Alps, and in the regions at their foot; particularly about Mount St. Gothard. From this partial fulfilment, Mr. O argues the probability of a complete one, and exhorts the world to watch and be prepared. He adds moreover that Mr. Zichen was a pious man, a man of science, and a man of sense ; and that when he gave in his writing he offered to swear to it-I suppose, as a revelation from above. He is since dead.

Nothing in the whole affair pleases me so much as that he has named a short day for the completion of his prophecy. It is tedious work to hold the judgment in suspense for many years; but any body methinks may wait with patience till a twelvemonth shall pass away, especially when an earthquake of such magnitude is in question. I do not say that Mr. Zichen is deceived; but, if he be not, I will say that he is the first modern prophet who has not both been a subject of deception himself and a deceiver of others. A year will show.

Our love attends all your family. Believe me, my dear friend, affectionately yours,





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