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her : it deprives her of many a good turn in the orchard, and fifty times have I wished this very day, that Dr. Darwin's scheme of giving rudders and sails* to the Ice Islands, that spoil all our summers, were actually put into practice. So should we have gentle airs instead of churlish blasts, and those everlasting sources of bad weather being once navigated into the Southern hemisphere, my Mary would recover as fast again. We are both of your mind respecting the journey to Eartham, and think that July, if by that time she have strength for the journey, will be better than August. We shall have more long days before us, and them we shall want as much for our return as for our going forth. This, however, must be left to the Giver of all Good. If our visit to you be according to his will, he will smooth our way before us, and appoint the time of it, and I thus speak, not because I wish to
* That a very perceptible change, generally speaking, has taken place in the climate of Great Britain, and that the same observation applies to other countries, has been a frequent subject of remark, both with the past and present generation. Various causes have been assigned for this peculiarity. It has been said that nature is growing old, and losing its elasticity and vigour. Others have attributed the change to the vast accumulation of ice in the Polar regions, and its consequent influence on the temperature of the air. Dr. Darwin humorously suggested the scheme of giving rudders and sails to the Ice Islands, that they might be wafted by northern gales, and thus be absorbed by the heat of a southern latitude. It is worthy of remark that in Milton's Latin Poems, there is a college thesis on this subject, viz. whether nature was becoming old and infirm. Milton took the negative of this proposition, and maintained, naturam non pati senium, that nature was not growing old. Cowper, in his translation of this poem, thus renders some of the passages.
How?—Shall the face of nature then be plough'd
No. The Almighty Father surer laid
seem a saint in your eyes, but because my poor Mary actually is one, and would not set her foot over the threshold, unless she had, or thought she had, God's free permission. With that she would go through floods and fire, though without it she would be afraid of every thing—afraid even to visit you, dearly as she loves, and much as she longs to see you. W. C
TO WILLIAM HAYLEY, ESQ.
Weston, June 27, 1792.
Well then—let us talk about this journey to Eartham. You wish me to settle the time of it, and I wish with all my heart to be able to do so, living in hopes meanwhile that I shall be able to do it soon. But some little time must necessarily intervene. Our Mary must be able to walk alone, to cut her own food, feed herself, and to wear her own shoes, for at present she wears mine. All things considered, my friend and brother, you will see the expediency of waiting a little before we set off to Eartham. We mean indeed before that day arrives to make a trial of the strength of her head, how far it may be able to bear the motion of a carriage, a motion that it has not felt these seven years. I grieve that we are thus circumstanced, and that we cannot gratify ourselves in a delightful and innocent project without all these precautions, but when we have leaf-gold to handle, we must do it tenderly.
I thank you, my brother, both for presenting my authorship* to your friend Guy, and for the excellent verses with which you have inscribed your present. There are none neater or better turned with what shall I requite you? I have nothing to send you but a gimcrack, which I have prepared for my bride and bridegroom neighbours, who are expected to-morrow! You saw in my book a poem entitled Catharina, which concluded with a wish that we had her for a neighbour :f this therefore is called
(The Second Party)
ON HER MARRIAGE TO GEORGE COURTENAY, ESQ.
Believe it or not, as you choose,
The doctrine is certainly true,
And poets are oracles too
To see Catharina at home,
And lo! she is actually come.
But the wish of a poet and friend
And therefore attains to its end.
From a bosom effectually warm’d
Of the person for whom it was form’d. * Verses on Dr. Darwin. + See vol. iv. p. 230—232.
Maria would leave us, I knew,
But less to our grief could we view
And therefore I wish'd as I did,
Not a whisper was heard to forbid,
Since therefore I seem to incur
When making good wishes for her,
With one I have made her a wife,
Which I cannot suppress for my life,
TO WILLIAM HAYLEY, ESQ.
Weston, July 4, 1792.
I know not how you proceed in your life of Milton, but I suppose not very rapidly, for while you were here, and since you left us, you have had no other theme but me. As for myself, except my letters to you and the nuptial song I inserted in my last, I have literally done nothing since I saw you. Nothing, I mean, in the writing way, though a great deal in another; that is to say, in attending my poor Mary, and endeavouring to nurse her up for a journey to Eartham. In this I have hitherto succeeded tolerably well, and had rather carry this point completely than be the most famous