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greatest satisfaction in, and felt the highest fondness for, children who by some accident have been thrown upon their arms. Why then should not we seek out and choose some object of such an affection? and where can we better seek it than in a brother's family?
Our request then, in short, is this: that you will permit us to adopt one of your children; which of them, we leave to you ;-that you will make it ours in every sense in which it is possible to make it, that you will transfer to us all the care and all the authority of a parent; that we should provide for it, educate it, and have the entire direction of it as far into life as the parental power itself extends. Now I know not what to say to induce you to make us such a gift. Perhaps you will entirely deny it; and then we must acquiesce: for I am sensible it is not a small thing we ask; nor can it be easy for a parent to part with a child. This I would say, from a number, one may more easily be spared. Though it makes a very material difference in happiness whether a person has children or no children, it makes, I apprehend, little or none whether he has three, or four; five, or six; because four or five are enow to exercise all his whole stock of care and affection. We should gain, but you would not lose. I would likewise put you in mind that you would not part with it to strangers; the connexion between you and it would not be broken off: you
would see it (I hope), hear of it often; and it should be taught to love you, if it had not learnt that lesson before. Our child must love our brother and sister. Its relation to you is likewise a presumption that we shall not be wanting in that love for it which will be necessary to make it happy. I believe both Mr. Barbauld and myself are much disposed to love children, and that we could soon grow fond of any one who was amiable and entirely under our care. How then can we fail to love a child for whom at setting out we shall have such a stock of affection as we must have for yours ? I hope, too, we should have too right a sense of things to spoil it; and we see too much of children to indulge an over-anxious care. But
you know us well enough to be able to judge in general how we should educate it, and whether to your satisfaction.
satisfaction. Conscience and affection, I hope, would unite in inciting us to fulfill an engagement we should thus voluntarily take upon ourselves, to the best of our abilities.
Our situation is not a certain one, nor have we long tried it; but we have all the reason in the world to hope that if things go on as they have hitherto done, we should be able to provide for a child in a decent and comfortable manner.
Now, my dear brother and sister, if you consent, give us which of your boys you please : if you had girls, perhaps we should ask a girl rather;
and if we might choose amongst your boys, we could make perhaps a choice ;--but that we do not expect you will let us. Give
Give us, then, which you will; only let him be healthy, inoculated, and as young as you can possibly venture him to undertake the journey. This last circumstance is indispensable: for if he were not quite young, we should not gain over him the influence, we could not feel for him the affection, which would be necessary : besides, if at all able to play with our pupils, he would immediately mix with them, and would be little more to us than one of the schoolboys. Do not, therefore, put us off by saying that one of yours when he is old enough shall pay us a visit. To see any of yours at any time would no doubt give us the highest pleasure; but that does not by any means come up to what we now ask. We now leave the matter before you ;-consider maturely, and give us your answer.
O no! I never promised to fill this second sheet. Good bye to you.
: Your kind and acceptable letter would have met with an earlier answer, if we could either of us have commanded time to write. The manner in which you receive our proposal gives us great pleasure. My dear tender Patty! I wonder not that your softness takes alarm at the idea of part
ing with any of your sweet blossoms. All I can say is, that the greater the sacrifice, the more we shall think ourselves obliged to you, and the stronger ties we shall think ourselves under to supply, as far as possible, to the child of our adoption the tenderness and care of the parents we take it from. Though we should be content with either, yet of the two we shall like better Charles, if you determine to give him us, than the unborn ;perhaps, however, by this time I am wrong in calling him so: but if he was fixed upon, it would be longer before the scheme could take effect, and more uncertain whether he would live and thrive. This, however, is a point you must determine for ús: we shall acquiesce in either.
You are very favourable to my fragments ;fragments, however, they are like to continue unless I had a little more time. I want much to see your Essays,-how do you proceed with them? To attack Shakespear! heresy indeed! I will desire Mr. Montague to chastise you, except by way
penance you finish the ode you once began in his praise. I am of your opinion, however, that we idolize Shakespear rather too much for a Christian country. That inconsistencies may be found in his characters is certain : yet, notwithstanding that, character is his distinguishing excellence; and though he had not the learning of the schools in his head, he had the theatre of
the world before him, and could make reflections. on what he saw. An equal vein of poetry runs through the works of some of his cotemporaries : but his writings are most peculiarly marked by good sense and striking characters; so that I think you do him not justice if you call him only a poet.
Palgrave, 1777. You have given us too much pleasure lately not to deserve an earlier acknowledgement. I hope you will believe we were not so dilatory in reading your book * as we have been in thanking you for it. It is indeed a most elegant performance ; your thought is very just, and has never, I believe, been pursued before. Both the defects and beauties which you have noticed are very striking, and the result of the whole work, besides the truths it conveys, is a most pleasing impression left upon the mind from the various and picturesque images brought into view. I hope your Essay will bring down our poets from their garrets to wander about the fields and hunt squirrels. I am clearly of your opinion, that the only chance we have for novelty is by a more accurate observation of the works of Nature, though I think I
* An Essay on the Application of Natural History to Poetry EDITOR.