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chamber, it is now the sixth day, with a very painful swelled face.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
Hampstead, 1800. WHETHER or no I received the letter which you forgot to write, I shall not tell you; I only know that I am often reproached by my correspondents for negligence; and for the life of me I cannot think of any thing that has hindered the arrival of my letters, except the cause to which you are inclined to attribute the failure of Be that as it may, I most certainly have received from you one letter which has given me a great deal of pleasure, and for which I will no longer defer my affectionate thanks.
affectionate thanks. And what shall I tell you first? That we are well, that we have rubbed tolerably through the winter, and that we have been enjoying the sudden burst of spring, which clothed every tree and every hedge in verdure with a rapidity seldom observed in our climate. The blossoms were all pushed out at once, but unfortunately few have remained long enough to give the expectation of fruit. I fear it may be the same with your beautiful apple-orchards. We often picture to ourselves the beautiful country, and still oftener the affectionate friends and the interesting family with whom we spent so happy a fortnight last summer.
If all that has happened had not happened, or the memory of it could be washed away with Lethe, how usefully and respectably might Dr. Priestley now be placed at the head of the Royal Institution, which is so fashionable just now in London! I went a few mornings ago to hear Dr. Garnet, who is at present the only lecturer, and was much pleased to see a fashionable and very attentive audience, about one third ladies, assembled for the purposes of science and im-provement. How much is taught now, and even made a part of education, which, when you and I were young, was not even discovered! It does some credit to the taste of the town, that the Institution and the Bishop of London's lectures have been the most fashionable places of resort this winter. I have received, however, great pleasure lately from the representation of De Montfort, a tragedy which you probably read a year and half ago, in a volume entitled A Series of Plays on the Passions. I admired it then, but little dreamed I was indebted for my entertainment to a young lady of Hampstead whom I visited, and who came to Mr. Barbauld's meeting all the while with as innocent a face as if she had never written a line. The play is admirably acted by Mrs. Siddons and Kemble, and is finely written, with great purity of sentiment, beauty of diction, strength and originality of character; but it is open to criticism, I cannot believe such a ha
tred natural. The affection between the brother and sister is most beautifully touched, and, as far as I know, quite new. The play is somewhat too good for our present taste.
Stoke Newington, May, 1811. MY DEAR MRS. KENRICK, I HAVE been thinking what to liken our uncertain and unfrequent correspondence to. I cannot liken it to the regular blow of flowers that come out and blossom in their proper season. It is rather like the aloe, that after having been barren season after season shows signs of life all on a sudden, and pushes out when you least expect it. But take notice, the life is in the aloe all the while, and sorry indeed should I be if the life was not all the while in our friendship, though it so seldom diffuses itself over a piece of paper. How much I long to see you again! I wish you would come and see me this summer, the journey I should hope would not be too much for
and in coming to me you would be near all
friends. Do think of it!
...... I believe I am writing you an enormous letter; but I have been in a course of letterreading. I am wading through the letters of Madame du Deffand, in four volumes. Have you read them? Walpole and she wrote every week, and they were continually grumbling at one an
other, yet they went on. Walpole, poor man, seems to have been terribly afraid that this old blind lady was in love with him; and he had much ado to reduce her expressions of friendship to something of an English standard. This lady appears to have been very unhappy. She was blind, indeed, but she had every thing else that could make age comfortable; fortune, friends, talents, consideration in the world, the society of all the wits and all the people of rank of Paris, or who visited Paris, but she totally wanted the best support of all,—religious feelings and hopes; and I do not know any thing that is likely to impress their importance more on the mind than the perusal of these letters. You see her tired of life, almost blaspheming providence for having given her existence; yet dreading to die, because she had no hopes beyond death. A lady told me she would not on any account let her daughter read the letters. I think, for my part, they give in this view as good a lesson as you can pick out of Mrs. More's Practical Piety, which, if you have not read, I cannot help it.
Adieu! do let me hear from you soon. I wonder, say you, the woman has the face to ask it. That's true, but I hope you will, notwithstanding. Nothing will give more pleasure to
Your ever affectionate friend.
LETTERS TO MISS DIXON,
Palgrave, March 17th, 1777. ARACHNE, my dear Miss Dixon,-so goes the story,--was unfortunate enough to incur the mortal displeasure of Minerva by too pompous a display of her skill in embroidery; and since that event, very few ladies who have courted the favour of Minerva have chosen to run the hazard of provoking her by the delicacy of their needle-work. Now, as I do not believe that Arachne or Minerva either (no dispraise to her goddess-ship) ever wrought any thing prettier than the roses you have been so obliging as to send me,-Flora, indeed, promises to produce some very like them in a few months, I wonder much at your being so great a favourite with the goddess as I find you are by the story which accompanied them, and that she thinks proper to encourage you in handling both your pen and your needle in the manner you do. Indeed, my dear, I was equally surprised