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I beg that you will remember me affectionately to Mr. Bacon. We rejoice in Mrs. Newton's amended health, and when we can hear that she is restored shall rejoice still more.
The next summer may prove more propitious to us than the past: if it should, we shall be happy to receive you and yours. Mrs. Unwin unites with me in love to you all three. She is tolerably well, and her writing was prevented by nothing but her expectation that I should soon do it myself.
TO LADY HESKETH.
The Lodge, Nov. 10, 1787. The parliament, my dearest Cousin, prorogued continually, is a meteor dancing before my eyes, promising me my wish only to disappoint me, and none but the king and his ministers can tell when you and I shall come together. I hope however that the period, though so often postponed, is not far distant, and that once more I shall behold you, and experience your power to make winter gay and sprightly.
I have a kitten, the drollest of all creatures that ever wore a cat's skin. Her gambols are not to be described, and would be incredible, if they could. In point of size she is likely to be a kitten always, being extremely small of her age, but time, I suppose, that spoils every thing, will make her also a
cat. You will see her, I hope, before that melancholy period shall arrive, for no wisdom that she may gain by experience and reflection hereafter will compensate the loss of her present hilarity. She is dressed in a tortoise-shell suit, and I know that you will delight in her.
Mrs. Throckmorton carries us to-morrow in her chaise to Chicheley. The event however must be supposed to depend on elements, at least on the state of the atmosphere, which is turbulent beyond
Yesterday it thundered, last night it lightened, and at three this morning I saw the sky as red as a city in flames could have made it. I have a leech in a bottle that foretells all these prodigies and convulsions of nature. No, not as you will naturally conjecture, by articulate utterance of oracular notices, but by a variety of gesticulations, which here I have not room to give an account of. Suffice it to say, that no change of weather surprises him, and that, in point of the earliest and most accurate intelligence, he is worth all the barometers in the world. None of them all indeed can make the least pretence to foretell thunder—a species of capacity of which he has given the most unequivocal evidence. I gave. but sixpence for him, which is a groat more than the market price, though he is in fact, or rather would be, if leeches were not found in every ditch, an invaluable acquisition.
TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.
Nov. 16, 1787. I thank you for the solicitude that you express on the subject of my present studies. The work is undoubtedly long and laborious, but it has an end, and, proceeding leisurely, with a due attention to the use of air and exercise, it is possible that I may live to finish it. Assure yourself of one thing, that, though to a bystander it may seem an occupation surpassing the powers of a constitution never very athletic, and at present not a little the worse for wear, I can invent for myself no employment that does not exhaust my spirits more. I will not pretend to account for this; I will only say, that it is not the language of predilection for a favourite amusement, but that the fact is really so. I have even found that those plaything-avocations which one may execute almost without any attention, fatigue me, and wear
away, while such as engage me much and attach me closely are rather serviceable to me than otherwise.
TO LADY HESKETH.
The Lodge, Nov. 27, 1787. It is the part of wisdom, my dearest Cousin, to sit down contented under the demands of necessity, because they are such. I am sensible that you cannot, in my
uncle's present infirm state, and of which it is not possible to expect any considerable amendment, indulge either us or yourself with a journey to Weston. Yourself, I say, both because I know
it will give you pleasure to see Causidice mi* once more, especially in the comfortable abode where you have placed him, and because, after so long an imprisonment in London, you, who love the country, and have a taste for it, would of course be glad to return to it. For my own part, to me it is ever new, and though I have now been an inhabitant of this village a twelvemonth, and have during the half of that time been at liberty to expatiate and to make discoveries, I am daily finding out fresh scenes and walks, which you would never be satisfied with enjoying—some of them are unapproachable by you either on foot or in your carriage. Had you twenty toes (whereas I suppose you have but ten) you could not reach them; and coach-wheels have never been seen there since the flood. Before it indeed, (as Burnet says that the earth was then perfectly free from all inequalities in its surface,)t they might have been seen there every day. We haveother walks, both upon hill tops and in valleys beneath, some of which, by the help of your carriage, and manyof them without its help, would be always at your command.
On Monday morning last, Sam brought me word that there was a man in the kitchen who desired to speak with me. I ordered him in. A plain, decent, elderly figure made its appearance, and, being desired to sit, spoke as follows: “Sir, I am clerk of the parish of All-saints in Northampton; brother of
* The appellation which Sir Thomas Hesketh used to give him in jest, when he was of the Temple.
+ See Burnet's Theory of the Earth, in which book, as well as by other writers, the formation of mountains is attributed to the agency of the great deluge. The deposit of marine shells is alleged as favouring this hypothesis.
Mr. C. the upholsterer. It is customary for the person in my office to annex to a bill of mortality, which he publishes at Christmas, a copy of verses. You will do me a great favour, Sir, if you
would furnish me with one." To this I replied, “Mr. C., you have several men of genius in your town, why have you not applied to some of them ? There is a namesake of yours in particular, C-, the statuary, who, every body knows, is a first-rate maker of
He surely is the man of all the world for your purpose." -“ Alas ! Sir, I have heretofore borrowed help from him, but he is a gentleman of so much reading that the people of our town cannot understand him.” I confess to you, my dear, I felt all the force of the compliment implied in this speech, and was almost ready to answer, “ Perhaps, my good friend, they may find me unintelligible too for the same reason. But, on asking him whether he had walked over to Weston on purpose to implore the assistance of my muse, and on his replying in the affirmative, I felt my mortified vanity a little consoled, and, pitying the poor man's distress, which appeared to be considerable, promised to supply him. The waggon has accordingly gone this day to Northampton loaded in part with my effusions in the mortuary style. A fig for poets who write epitaphs upon individuals! I have written one, that serves two hundred persons.* * We introduce one stanza from these verses :
· Like crowded forest trees we stand,
And some are mark'd to fall;
And soon shall smite us all.”