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should not have confined the track quite so much as you have done to the animal creation, because sooner exhausted than the vegetable; and some of the lines you have quoted from Thomson show with how much advantage the latter may be made the subject of rich description. I think too, since you put me on criticizing, it would not have been amiss if you had drawn the line between the poet and natural historian; and shown how far, and in what cases, the one may avail himself of the knowledge of the other,-at what nice period that knowledge becomes so generally spread as to authorise the poetical describer to use it without shocking the ear by the introduction of names and properties not sufficiently. familiar, and when at the same time it retains novelty enough to strike. I have seen some rich descriptions of West Indian flowers and plants,-just, I dare say, but unpleasing merely because their names were uncouth, and forms not known generally enough to be put into verse.
It is not, I own, much to the credit of poets,—but it is true,—that we do not seem disposed to take their word for any thing, and never willingly receive information from them.
We are wondrous busy in preparing our play, The Tempest; and four or five of our little ones are to come in as fairies; and I am piecing scraps from the Midsummer Night's Dream, &c., to make a little scene instead of the mask of Ceres and
Juno. We have read Gibbon lately, who is certainly a very elegant and learned writer, and a very artful one. No other new books have we yet seen,—they come slow to Norfolk,- but the Diaboliad, the author of which has a pretty sharp pen-knife, and cuts up very handsomely. Many are the literary matters I want to talk over with you
when we meet, which I now look forward to as not a far-distant pleasure.
We will come and endeavour to steal away Charles's heart before we run away with his perAdieu! Heaven bless
Palgrave, 1777. I am happy that I can now tell you we are all safe at Palgrave, where we arrived last night about ten o'clock. Charles has indeed been an excellent traveller, and though like his great ancestor“some natural tears he shed,”—like him too “ he wiped them soon.” He had a long sound sleep last night, and has been very busy to-day hunting the puss and the chickens. And now, my dear brother and sister, let me again thank you for this precious gift, the value of which we are both more and more sensible of, as we become better acquainted with his sweet disposition and winning
As well as a gift it is a solemn trust,
and it shall be our study to fulfill that trust. The thought of what parents we have taken him from will be a constant motive for our care, tenderness and affection.
Remember us most affectionately to Dr. and Mrs. E., and Betsy and give a kiss for me to Arthur and George ; and so you may to Betsy, now I think of it.
Every body here asks, “Pray is Dr. Dodd really to be executed ?”—as if we knew the more for having been at Warrington.
Palgrave, Jan. 19, 1778. It is a real concern to me that I could not write to you from London...... Let me now then begin with telling you, that we two, Miss B, and one of our boys, got safe to Palgrave this afternoon. And now for the first time Mr. Barbauld and I experienced the pleasure of having some: thing to come home for, and of finding our dear Charles in perfect health and glad to see us again; though wondering a little, and rather
the first half-hour. Well, and what have you seen, you will say, in London? Why, in the first place, Miss More’s new play, which fills the house very well, and is pretty generally liked. Miss More is, I assure you, now very much the ton, and moreover has got six or seven hundred pounds
by her play: I wish I could produce one every two winters; we would not keep school. I cannot say, however, that I cried altogether so much at Percy as I laughed at the School for Scandal; which is one of the wittiest plays I remember to have seen; and I am sorry to add, one of the most immoral and licentious ;--in principle I mean, for in language it is very decent. Mrs. Montague, not content with being the queen of literature and elegant society, sets up for the queen of fashion and splendour. She is building a very fine house, has a very fine service of plate, dresses and visits more than ever; and I am afraid will be full as much the woman of the world as the philosopher. Pray, have you read a book to prove Falstaff nó coward ?: I want to know what you think of it:: the present age deals in paradoxes. A new play of Cumberland's, and another of Home's, are soon to come out. Charles's little book is very well, but my idea is not executed in it: I must therefore beg you will print one as soon as you can, on fine paper, on one side only, and more space and a clearer line for the chapters. - Prefix if you please, to that you are going to print, the following
“This little publication was made for a particular child, but the public is welcome to the use of it. It was found that amidst the multitude of books
professedly written for children, there is not one adapted to the comprehension of a child from two to three years old. A grave remark, or a connected story, however simple, is above his capacity, and nonsense is always below it; for folly is worse than ignorance. Another great defect is, the want of good paper, a clear and large type, and large spaces. Those only who have actually taught young children can be sensible how necessary these assistances are. The eye of a child and of a learner cannot catch, as ours can, a small obscure ill-formed word, amidst a number of others all equally unknown to him. To supply these deficiencies is the object of this book. The task is humble, but not mean; for to lay the first stone of a noble building, and to plant the first idea in a human mind, can be no dishonour to any hand.”
Palgrave, 1778. 'Tis well I got a letter from Warrington when I did ;-very well indeed; for I began to be in such a fury, and should have penned you such a chiding! Do you know, pray, how long it is since I heard from any of you? But as I do sometimes offend myself, I think I will forgive you, especially as I wonder how you find time even to read, with labours so multifarious (as Johnson says) going forward. The fate of Miss B.'s letter is