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The lines, I own, are not very finished; but it is not worth while to take much pains about them, unless one were sure of the catastrophe. On the supposition, however, that you will be reading this comfortably by Mr. Coates's fire-side, accept, my dear friends, my thanks for the pleasant days, - very pleasant, but
few,—that you were so good as to bestow upon me: if you can enlarge the gift, most thankfully shall I receive it.
My days of travelling are now nearly over; yet I find a little variety as necessary, perhaps, to relieve the tedium of life, as once it was to recruit from its toils and avocations. I do not know how it is with you at Bristo , but in most places there has been lately a migration into France of almost all who could command money and time. I was amused with the contrast between a lively pleasant-tempered man and a poco curante. “How do you like France ?" said I to the first. “I have spent,” said he, “seven weeks of uninterrupted happiness.” “How do you like France ?” to the second. “I have been there, because one must go, one is ashamed not to have been, it is a thing over.” “A lively nation ?” « Manners quite spoiled, no agreeable company.” “ It is
possible they may not be partial to the English just now, as we have so lately been with fire and sword into their territory :—but the museums ?” “ Valuable to be sure; but they do not properly belong to Paris.”
“The theatres, sir?" « Now and then, when Talma acts : but to visit all their little paltry theatres, and every evening, as some do, I had rather sit at home in my chamber and read.” And so ended my dialogue with the poco curante. Not with such indifference, but with the strong feelings which you who witnessed the destruction of the Bastille can appreciate, Mr. says he should abhor going to Paris. As to the ladies who go, they think of nothing but smuggling lace and silk shawls.
MY DEAR MRs. Estlin, I have just been reading, as probably you have also, six close volumes of Miss Seward's letters, which, she informs us, was only a twelfth part of her correspondence in, I think, twenty years. I have also been reading a letter of the poet M's to my brother, in which, apologizing for his long silence, he says, “I verily believe, that if I had been an antediluvian, I could have let a hundred years pass between every letter, and feel the most violent twinges of conscience every day
of that century for my omission, without their working any reformation in that respect.” Now I look upon myself to be between both these characters,—to which I approximate most I must leave you to determine.
Everybody has been abroad this uncommonly fine summer, but my brother and sister and myself. I spent one day only at Hampstead, where I met Walter Scott, the lion of this London season, and one day at Chigwell. The road to Chigwell is through a part of Hainault Forest; and we stopped to look at Fairlop oak, one of the largest in England; a complete ruin, but a noble ruin, which it is impossible to see without thinking of Cowper's beautiful lines, "Who lived when thou wast such.” The immoveable rocks and mountains present us rather with an idea of eternity than of long life. There they are, and there they have been before the birth of nations. The tops of the everlasting hills have been seen covered with snow from the earliest records of time. But a tree, that has life and growth like ourselves, that, like ourselves, was once small and feeble, that certainly some time began to be,-to see it attain a size so enormous, and in its bulk and its slow decay bear record of the generations it has outlived,—this brings our comparative feebleness strongly in view. « Man passeth away, and where is he?” while “ the oak
of our fathers” will be the oak of their children, and their children.
MY DEAR MRs. Esrlin, I was just going to write to you when I received your kind letter; for I had heard of your son's marriage, and wished to congratulate you on the event: but I do it with much more pleasure, now that I learn from your letter the full satisfaction and pleasure that you feel in the match. You are fortunate, my dear friend, in having so excellent and well-principled a son; fortunate in having him married agreeably to your wishes; and very fortunate in having him and your other children within a walk of your door or within it.
We are all pretty much as usual : for myself, indeed, I am sensible I grow weaker both in mind and body, and I am sensible it is natural and right it should be so. How many friends have I survived! A very dear one Mrs. Kenrick was : I had no prospect, indeed, of ever seeing her again, nor, with the privations she suffered, (of which her almost total deafness was the severest) could I wish her to live; yet there is a melancholy in the thought, Gone for ever! which no other separation can inspire.-But why do I write in
this strain to you, when I write on purpose to congratulate you on a wedding ?- How soon children become, from playthings, subjects of education; then objects of anxiety for their settling in the world ; and then, very often, are transplanted wide away from their parents' home-perhaps to America. The more particularly fortunate you :—so I began, and so I conclude.
Stoke Newington, Jan. 1824.
know best the time that suits you, and I dare say you have done what is right and proper. With regard to myself, I do not reckon much upon any enjoyment that has months between it and me. I am arrived at a period when life has no more to give, and every year
takes away from the powers both of body and mind; when the great tendency is to inaction and rest, and when all subject of thankfulness or congratulation must be, not how much you enjoy, but how little you suffer. Then the powers of man strive-how vainly !—to penetrate the veil; to pierce the thick darkness that covers the future: life seems of no value but for what lies beyond it;