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Upside down indeed, for so it is literally that I have been dealing with the orchard, almost ever since you went, digging and delving it around to make a new walk, which now begins to assume the shape of one, and to look as if some time or other it may serve in that capacity. Taking my usual exercise there the other day with Mrs. Unwin, a wide disagreement between your clock and ours, occasioned me to complain much, as I have often done, of the want of a dial. Guess my surprize, when at the close of my complaint I saw one-saw one close at my side; a smart one, glittering in the sun, and mounted on a pedestal of stone. I was astonished. “ This.” I exclaimed, “ is absolute conjuration !”- It was a most mysterious affair, but the mystery was at last explained.
This scribble I presume will find you just arrived at Bucklands. I would with all my heart that since dials can be thus suddenly conjured from one place to another, I could be so too, and could start up before your eyes in the middle of some walk or lawn, where you and Lady Frog are wandering.
While Pitcairne whistles for his family estate in Fifeshire, he will do well if he will sound a few notes for me. I am originally of the same shire, and a fa
mily of my name is still there, to whom perhaps he may whistle on my behalf, not altogether in vain. So shall his fife excel all my poetical efforts, which have not yet, and I dare say never will, effectually charm one acre of ground into my possession.
Remember me to Sir John, Lady Frog, and your husband—tell them I love them all. She told me once she was jealous, now indeed she seems to have some reason, since to her I have not written, and have written twice to you. But bid her be of good courage, in due time I will give her proof of my constancy.
To the Revd. Mr. JOHNSON.
Weston, Sept. 29, 1793. MY DEAR JOHNNY,
You have done well to leave off visiting, and being visited. Visits are insatiable devourers of time, and fit only for those, who if they did not that, would do nothing. The worst consequence of such departures faom common practice, is to be
termed a singular sort of a fellow, or an odd fish; a sort of reproach that a man might be wise enough to condemn, who had not half your understanding.
I look forward with pleasure to October the eleventh, the day which I expect will be Albo notandus lapillo, on account of your arrival here.
Here you will meet Mr. Rose, who comes on the eighth, and brings with him Mr. Lawrence, the painter, you may guess for what purpose. Lawrence returns when he has made his copy of me, but Mr. Rose will remain perhaps as long as you will. Hayley on the contrary will come, I suppose, just in time not to see you. Him we expect on the twentieth. I trust, however, that thou wilt so order thy pastoral matters, as to make thy stay here as long as possible.
Lady Hesketh, in her last letter, enquires very kindly after you, asks me for your address, and purposes soon to write to you. We hope to see her in November-so that after a summer without company, we are likely to have an autumn and a winter sociable enough. .
To WILLIAM HAYLEY, Esqr.
Weston, Oct. 5, 1793. .
My good intentions towards you, my dearest Brother, are continually frustrated; and which is most provoking, not by such engagements and avocations as have a right to my attention, such as those to my Mary, and the old bard of Greece, but by mere impertinencies, such as calls of civility from persons not very interesting to me, and letters from a distance still less interesting, because the writers of them are strangers. A man sent me a long copy of verses, which I could do no less than acknowledge. They were silly enough, and cost me eighteen-pence, which was seventeen-pence half-penny farthing more than they were worth. Another sent me at the same time a plan, requesting my opinion of it, and that I would lend him my name as editor, a request with which I shall not comply, but I am obliged to tell him so, and one Letter is all that I have time to dispatch in a day, sometimes half a one, and sometimes I am not able to write at all.
Thus it is that my time perishes, and I can neither give so much of it as I would to you or to any other valuable purpose.
On Tuesday we expect company. Mr. Rose, and Laurence the painter. Yet once more is my patience to be exercised, and once more I am made to wish that my face had been moveable, to put on and take off at pleasure, so as to be portable in a bandbox, and sent to the artist. These however will be gone, as I believe I told you, before you arrive, at which time I know not that any body will be here, except my Johnny, whose presence will not at all interfere with our readings-you will not, I believe find me a very slashing critic–I hardly indeed expect to find any thing in your Life of Milton, that I shall sentence to amputation. How should it be too long? A well written work, sensible and spirited, sạch as yours was, when I saw, it, is never so. But however, we shall see. I promise to spare nothing that I think, may be lopped off with advantage.
I began this Letter yesterday, but could not finish it till now. I have risen this morning like an infernal frog out of Acheron, covered with the ouze and mud of melancholy. For this reason I am not sorry to find myself at the bottom of my paper, for.