Obrazy na stronie



are fine doings I can assure you. My Homer finds work for Hayley, and his Life of Milton work for me, so that we are neither of us one moment idle. Poor Mrs. Unwin in the mean time sits quiet in her corner, occasionally laughing at us both, and not seldom interrupting us with some question or remark, for which she is constantly rewarded by me with a “ Hushhold your peace.” Bless yourself, my dear Catharina, that you are not connected with a poet, especially that you have not two to deal with ; ladies who have, may be bidden indeed to hold their peace, but very little peace have they. How should they in fact have any, continually enjoined as they are to be silent.

The same fever that has been so epidemic there, has been severely felt here likewise ; some have died, and a multitude have been in danger. Two under our own roof have been infected with it, and I am not sure that I have perfectly escaped myself, but I am now well again.

I have persuaded Hayley to stay a week longer, and again my hopes revive, that he may yet have an

Vol. 4.

opportunity to know my friends before he returns into Sussex. I write amidst a chaos of interruptions : Hayley on one hand spouts Greek, and on the other hand Mrs. Unwin continues talking, sometimes to us, and sometimes, because we are both too busy to attend to her, she holds a dialogue with herself. Query, is not this a bull—and ought I not instead of dialogue to have said soliloquy ?

Adieu! With our united love to all your party, and with ardent wishes soon to see you all at Weston, I remain, my dearest Catharina.

Ever yours,



Cowper entreated me with great kindness to remain the whole winter at Weston, and ergage with him in a regular and complete revisal of his Homer. I wanted not inclination for an office so agreeable; but it struck me that I might render much more essential service to the poet, as I returned through London, by quickening in the minds of his more powerful friends, a seasonable attention to his interest and welfare. My fears for him, in every point of view, were alarmed by his present very singular

condition. He possessed completely at this period, all the admirable faculties of his mind, and all the native tenderness of his heart; but there was something indescribable in his appearance, which led me to apprehend, that without some signal event in his fam vour, to re-animate his spirits, they would gradually sink into hopeless dejection. The state of his aged infirm companion afforded additional ground for increasing solicitude. Her cheerful and beneficent spirit could hardly resist her own accumulated maladies, so far as to preserve ability sufficient to watch over the tender health of him, whom she had watched and guarded so long. Imbecility of body and mind must gradually render this tender and heroic woman unfit for the charge which she had so laudably sustained. The signs of such imbecility were beginning to be painfully visible; nor can nature present a spectacle more truly pitiable than imbecility in such a shape, eagerly grasping for dominion, which it knows not either how to retain, or how to relinquish.

I left Weston in November, painfully anxious for the alarming state of my two friends, and I was so unfortunate as to add to their complicated troubles, some degree of inquietude for my health. A slight

[ocr errors]

attack of an epidemical fever had rather hastened than retarded my departure ; but my indisposition proved more serious than I had supposed it to be; and instead of being able to execute some literary commissions for Cowper in London, with the alacrity which affection suggests, I was obliged to inform him that I was confined by illness. He wrote to me immediately, with the tenderness peculiar to himself, and my reviving health soon enabled me to enliven his apprehensive mind, not only, with an account of my recovery, but with intelligence relating to his own literary engagements, that had a tendency to relieve his spirits from a considerable part of their present embarrassment and dejection. His next Letter toone of his confidential friends, contains a very cheerful and just description of his favorite residence.



Weston, Noy. 5. 1793.


In a letter from Lady Hesketh, which I received not long since, she informed me

how very pleasantly she had spent some time at Wargrove. We now begin to expect her here, where our charms of situation are perhaps not equal to yours, yet by no means contemptible. She told me she had spoken to you in very handsome terms of the country round about us, but not so of our house, and the view before it. The house itself, however, is not unworthy some commendation ; small as it is, it is neat and neater than she is aware of; for my study, and the room over it, have been repaired and beautified this summer, and little more was wanting to make it an abode sufficiently commodious for a man of my moderate desires. As to the prospect from it, that she misrepresented strangely, as I hope soon to have an opportunity to convince her by ocular demonstration. She told you, I know, of certain cottages opposite to us, or rather she described them as poor houses and hovels, that effectually blind our windows. But none such exist. On the contrary, the opposite object and the only one, is an orchard, so well planted, and with trees of such growth, that we seem to look into a wood, or rather to be surrounded by one. Thus, placed as we are in the midst of a village, we have none of those disagreeables that belong to such a position, and the village it


« PoprzedniaDalej »