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I have nothing better to expect for a long time to come.
Yesterday was a day of assignation with myself, the day of which I said some days before it came, when that day comes I will begin my dissertations. Accordingly when it came I prepared to do so; filled a letter-case with fresh paper, furnished myself with a pretty good pen, and replenished my ink bottle; but partly from one cause, and partly from another, chiefly, however, from distress and dejection, after writing and obliterating about six lines, in the composition of which I spent near an hour, I was obliged to relinquish the attempt. An attempt so unsuccessful could have no other effect than to dishearten me, and it has had that effect to such a degree, that I know not when I shall find courage to make another. At present I shall certainly abstain, since at present I cannot well afford to expose myself to the danger of a fresh mortification.
To WILLIAM HAYLEY, Esqr.
Weston, Oct 13, 1792.
I began a Letter to you yesterday, my dearest brother, and proceeded through two sides of the sheet, but so much of my nervous fever found its way into it, that looking it over this morning, I determined not to send it.
I have risen, though not in good spirits, yet in better than I generally do of late, and therefore will not address you in the melancholy tone that belongs to my worst feelings.
I began to be restless about your portrait, and to say, how long shall I have to wait for it? I wished it here for many reasons: the sight of it will be a comfort to me, for I not only love, but am proud of you, as of a conquest made in my old age. Johnny goes to Town on Monday, on purpose to call on Romney, to whom he shall give all proper information concerning its conveyance hither. The name of a man, whom I esteem as I do Romney, ought not
to be unmusical in my ears, but his name will be so till I sha!l have paid him a debt justly due to him, by doing such poetical honours to it as I intend. Heaven knows, when that intention will be executed, for the muse is still as obdurate and as coy as ever.
Your kind postscript is just arrived, and gives me great pleasure ; when I cannot see you myself. it seems some comfort, however, that you have been seen by another known to me; and who will tell me in a few days, that he has seen you. Your wishes to disperse my melancholy would, I am sure, prevail, did that event depend on the warmth and sincerity with which you frame them ; but it has baffled both wishes and prayers, and those the most fervent that could be made, so many years, that the case seems hopeless. But no more of this at present!
Your verses to Austen, are as sweet as the honey that they accompany; kind, friendly, witty, and elegant! when shall I be able to do the like! perhaps when my Mary, like your Tom, shall cease to be an invalide, I may recover a power, at least, to do something. I sincerely rejoice in the dear little man's restoration. My Mary continues, I hope, to : mend a little.
. W. C.
To JOHN JOHNSON, Esqr,
Weston, Oct. 19, 1792.
MY DEAREST JOHNNY,
You are too useful when you are here not to be missed, on a hundred occasions daily; and too much domesticated with us, not to be regretted always. I hope, therefore, that your month or six weeks will not be like many that I have known, capable of being drawn out into any length whatever, and productive of nothing but disappointment.
I have done nothing since you went, except that I have composed the better half of a sonnet to Romney; yet even this ought to bear an earlier date, for I began to be haunted with a desire to do it long before we came out of Sussex, and have daily attempted it ever since.
It would be well for the reading part of the world, if the writing part were, many of them, as dull as I am. Yet even this small produce, which my sterile intellect has hardly yielded at last, may serve to convice you that in point of spirits I am not worse.
. In fact, I am a little better. The powders and the laudanum together have, for the present at least, abated the fever that consumes them; and in measure as the fever abates, I acquire a less discouraging view of things, and with it a little power to exert myself.
In the evenings I read Baker's Chronicle to Mrs. Unwin, having no other history, and hope in time to be as well versed in it, as his admirer Sir Roger de Coverley.
To JOHN JOHNSON, Esqr.
Weston, Oct. 22, 1792.
MY DEAR JOHNNY,
Here am I with I know not how many letters to answer, and no time to do it in. I exhort you, therefore, to set a proper value on this, as proving your priority in my attentions, though in other respects likely to be of little value.