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brance which must always dwell in my heart of one so dear to me.
We have had the very beautiful and interesting sight of a balloon sent off from the neighbouring fields. The carriages of all sorts, eager countenances exhibited from windows, tops of houses and church steeples, made a gayer spectacle, I think, than any exhibition within walls could have been made. I saw it like a majestic dome among the trees; it swelled, it rose gently, it vibrated; then it sprung up into the sky, light as-what shall I say? what can I say of a substance that is itself lighter than air? I must say, I believe, as light as thought-as your thoughts, I mean, for mine are often heavy. &c. &c.
Stoke Newington, Oct. 25, 1825. The enigma you do me the honour to ask for will accompany this; but I have first to find it; for though I have looked a good deal, I have not yet been able to lay my hands on it. I beg to make proviso that if I should want myself to insert it in any publication, I may be at liberty to do it. Though, truly, that is not very likely; for well do I feel one faculty after another withdrawing, and the shades of evening closing fast around me; and be it so! What does life offer at past eighty (at which venerable age I arrived one day last June); and I believe you will allow that there is not much of new, of animating, of inviting, to be met with after that age. For my own part, I only find that many things I knew, I have forgotten; many things I thought I knew, I find I know nothing about; some things I know, I have found not worth knowing; and some things I would give-O what would one not give to know? are beyond the reach of human ken. Well, I believe
this is what may be called prosing, and you can make much better use of your time than to read it.
I saw yesterday two boys, modern Greeks, in the costume of their country, introduced by Mr. Bowring, who has the charge of them—“du Grecah, ma sæur, du Grec; ils parlent du Grec!” I have been reading one or two American novels lately. They are very well, but I do not wish them to write novels yet. Let them explore and describe their new country; let them record the actions of their Washington, the purest character perhaps that history has to boast of; let them enjoy their free, their unexpensive government, number their rising towns, and boast that persecution does not set her bloody foot in any corner of their extensive territories. Then let them kindle into poetry; but not yet --not till the more delicate shades and nicer delineations of life are familiar to them, let them descend to novels. But, tempted by writing to you, I am running on till my eyes are tired, and perhaps you too. Compliments to Mrs. —, and all your family. If I find the riddle, I will send it to you; meantime I am, with the truest esteem and friendship,
Your affectionate friend.
LETTERS TO DR. AIKIN*.
Caroline-street, Jan 31, 1787. I do not owe you a letter 'tis true; but what of that? I take it for granted you will like to hear from me; and to hear from or write to you gives me more pleasure than most things in this great city. The hive is now full; almost everybody that intends to come to town is come, and the streets rattle with carriages at all hours. Do not you remember reading in the Spectator of a great black tower, from which were cast nets that catched up everybody that came within a certain distance? This black tower I interpret to be this great smoky city; and I begin to be afraid we are got too much within its attraction, for the nets seem to be winding round about us; nay, we had some serious thoughts last week of setting up our tent here ......
We are got into the visiting way here, which I do not consider quite as idle employment, because it leads to connexions; but the hours are into
* These Letters were accidentally omitted in their proper place.
lerably late. The other day at Mrs. Chapone's none of the party but ourselves was come at a quarter before eight; and the first lady that arrived said she hurried away from dinner without waiting for the coffee. There goes a story of the Duchess of D- that she said to a tradesman "Call on me tomorrow morning at four o'clock”; and that the honest man, not being aware of the extent of the term morning, knocked the family up some hours before daybreak. Last week we met the American bishops at Mr. V.'s,--if bishops they may be called, without title, without revenue, without diocese, and without lawn sleeves. I wonder our bishops will consecrate them, for they have made very free with the Common Prayer, and have left out two creeds out of three. Indeed, as to the Athanasian creed, the King has forbidden it in his chapel, so that will soon fall.
I have been much pleased with the poems of the Scottish ploughman, of which you have had specimens in the Review. His Cotter's Saturday Night has much of the same kind of merit as the School-mistress; and the Daisy, and the Mouse, which I believe you have had in the papers,
I think are charming. The endearing diminutives, and the Doric rusticity of the dialect, suit such subjects extremely. This is the
for self-taught genius : a subscription has been raised for a pipemaker of Bristol, who has been discovered to have