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You do well to sit for your picture, and give very sufficient reasons for doing it; you will also, I doubt not, take care that when future generations shall look at it, some spectator or other shall say, this is the picture of a good man, and a useful one.

And now God bless you, my dear Johnny. I proceed much after the old rate; rising chearless and distressed in the morning, and brightening a little as the day goes on.


W. C.



Weston, Oct. 28, 1792.

Nothing done, my dearest brother, nor likely to be done at present; yet I purpose in a day or two to make another attempt, to which, however, I shall address myself with fear and trembling, like a man, who having sprained his wrist, dreads to use it. I have not, indeed, like such a man, injured myself, by any extraordinary exertion, but seem as much enfeebled as if I had. The consciousness that there is so much to do, and nothing done, is a burthen I am not able to bear. Milton especially is my grievance, and I might almost as well be haunted by his ghost, as goaded with continual reproaches for neglecting him. I will, therefore begin; I will do my best; and if, after all, that best prove good for nothing, I will even send the notes, worthless as they are, that I have made already; a measure very disagreeable to myself, and to which nothing but necessity shall compel me. I shall rejoice to see those new samples of your biography, which you give me to expect.

Allons! Courage !– Here comes something however; produced after a gestation as long as that of a pregnant woman. It is the debt long unpaid; the compliment due to Romney, and if it has your approbation, I will send it, or you may send it for

I must premise however, that I intended nothing less than a sonnet when I began. I know not why, but I said to myself, it shall not be a sonnet; accordingly I attempted it one sort of measure, then in a second, then in a third, till I had made the trial in half a dozen different kinds of shorter verse, and be


hold it is a sonnet at last.

The fates would have

it so.



Romney ! expert infallibly to trace,
On chart or canvas, not the form alone,
And semblance, but, however faintly shewn,
The mind's impression too on every face,
With strokes, that time ought never to erase :
Thou hast so pencil'd mine, that though I own
The subject worthless, I have never known
The artist shining with superior grace.

But this I mark, that symptoms none of woe
In thy incomparable work appear :
Well! I am satisfied, it should be so,
Since, on maturer thought, the cause is clear;

For in my looks what sorrow could'st thou see,
While I was Hayley's guest, and sat to thee?

W. C.



Weston, Nov. 9. 1792.


I wish that I were as industrious, and as much occupied as you, though in a different way; but it is not so with me.

Mrs. Unwin's great debility (who is not yet able to move without assistance) is of itself a hindrance such as would effectually disable me. Till she can work and read, and fill up her time as usual (all which is at present entirely out of her power) I may now and then find time to write a letter, but I shall write nothing more. I cannot sit with my pen in my hand, and my books before me, while she is in effect in solitude, silent, and looking at the fire. To this hindrance that other has been added, of which you are already aware, a want of spirits, such as I have never known, when I was not absolutely laid by, since I commenced an author. How long I shall be continued in these uncomfortable circumstances is known only to Him, who, as he will, disposes of us all. I may be yet able perhaps, to prepare the first book of the Para

dise Lost for the press, before it will be wanted; and Johnson himself seems to think there will be no haste for the second. But poetry is my favourite employment, and all my poetical operations are in the mean time suspended, for while a work to which I have bound myself, remains unaccomplished, I can do nothing else.

Johnson's plan of prefixing my phiz to the new edition of my Poems, is by no means a pleasant one to me, and so I told him in a letter I sent him from Eartham, in which I assured him that my objections to it would not be easily surmounted. But if you judge that it may really have an effect in advancing the sale, I would not be so squeamish as to suffer the spirit of prudery to prevail in me to his disadvantage. Somebody told an author, I forget whom, that there was more vanity in refusing his picture, then in granting it, on which he instantly complied. I do not perfectly feel all the force of the argument, but it shall content me that he did,

I do most sincerely rejoice in the success of your publication, and have no doubt that my prophecy concerning your success in greater matters will be fulfilled. We are naturally pleased when our friends approve what we approve ourselves; how

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