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that which I received so lately from Anonymous, but it is also very painful to have nobody to thank for it. I find myself, therefore, driven by stress of necessity to the following resolution, viz. that I will constitute you my Thank-receiver-general, for whatsoever gift I shall receive hereafter, as well as for those that I have already received from a nameless benefactor. I therefore thank you, my cousin, for a most elegant present, including the most elegant compliment that ever Poet was honoured with ; for a snuff-box of tortoise-shell, . with a beautiful landscape on the lid of it, glazed with
chrystal, having the figures of three hares in the foreground, and inscribed above with the words, The Peasant's Nest, and below with these, Tiney, Puss, and Bess. For all, and every of these, I thank you, and also for standing proxy on this occasion. Nor must I forget to thank you, that so soon after I had sent you the first letter of Anonymous, I received another in the same hand. There-now I am a little easier.
I have almost conceived a design to send up half a dozen stout country-fellows, to tie by the leg to their respective bed-posts, the company that so abridges your opportunity of writing to me. Your letters are the joy of my heart, and I cannot endure to be robbed by, I know not whom, of half my treasure. But there is no comfort without a drawback, and therefore it is that I, who have unknown friends, have unknown enemies also. Ever since I wrcte last, I find myself in better health, and my nocturnal spasms and fever considerably abated. I intend to write to Dr. Kerr on Thursday, that I may gratify him with an account of my amendment; for to him I know it will be a gratification. Were he not a physician, I should regret that he lives so distant, for he is a most agreeable man; but being what he is, it would be impossible to have his company,
even if he were a neighbour, unless in time of sickness, at which time whatever charms he might have him. self, my own must necessarily lose much of their effect on him.
When I write to you, my dear, what I have already related to the General, I am always fearful lest I should tell you that for news with which you are well acquainted. For once, however, I will venture. On Wednesday last I received from Johnson the manuscript copy of a specimen that I had sent to the Gene. ral, and inclosed in the same cover notes upon it by an unknown critic. J hnson, in a short letter, recommended hiin to me as a man of unquestionable learning and abi. lity'. On perusal and consideration of his remarks, I found him such, and having nothing so much at heart as to give ali possible security to yourself and the General, that my work shall not come forth unfinished, I answered Johnson, " that I would gladly submit my ma. nuscript to his friend." He is, in truth, a very clever fellow, perfectly a stranger to me, and one who, I promise you, will not spare for severity of animadversion where he sh:ill find occasion. It is impossible for you, my dearest cousin, to express a wish that I do not equally feel a wish to gratify. You are desirous that Maty should see a book of my Homer, and for that reason, if Maty will see a book of it, he shall be wel. come, although time is likely to be precious; and, cone sequently, any delay that is not absolutely necessary, as much as possible, to be avoided. I am now revising the Iliad ; it is a business that will cost me four months, perhaps fire, for I compare the very words as I go, and if much alteration should occur, must transcribe the whole. The first book I have almost transcribed already. To these five months, Johnson says that nine more must be added for printing, and, upon my own
experience, I will venture to assure you, that the tardiness of printers will make those nine months twelve. There is danger, therefore, that my subscribers may think that I make them wait too long, and that they who know me not may suspect a bubble. How glad I shall be to read it over in an evening, book by book, as fast as I settle the copy, to you, and to Mrs. Unwin! She has been my touchstone always, and without reference to her taste and judgment, I have printed nothing. With one of you at each elbow, I should think myself the happiest of all peets,
The General and I, having broken the ice, are upon the most comfortable terms of correspondence. He writes very affectionately to me, and I say every thing that comes uppermost. I could not write frequently to any creature living upon any other terms than those. He tells me of infirmities that he has, which inake him less active than he was. I am sorry to hear that he has any such. Alas! alas ! he was young when I saw him only twenty years ago.
I have the most affectionate letter imaginable from Colman, who writes to me like a brother. The Chancellor is yet dumb.
May God have you in his keeping, my beloved cousin. Farewell.
Olney, Feb. 9, 1786. MY DEAREST Cousin,
I have been impatient to tell you, that I am impatient to see you again. Mrs. Un
win partakes with me in all my feelings upon this sub, ject, 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 would 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, every thing that I have described. I anticipate the pleasure of those days not very far distant, and feel à part of it at this moment. Talk not of an inn, mention it not for your life. We have never had so many vi. sitors butwe 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 green-house 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 honey-suckles, roses and jessamine; 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 ma. king. 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 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 any 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 cousin.
Olney, Feb. 11, 1786. MY DEAREST Cousin,
It must be, I suppose, a fortnight or thereabout, since I wrote last, I feel myself so alert