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TO LADY HESKETH.
Eartham, August 26, 1792. I know not how it is, my dearest Coz, but, in a new scene and surrounded with strange objects, I find my powers of thinking dissipated to a degree, that makes it difficult to me even to write a letter, and even a letter to you; but such a letter as I can, I will, and have the fairest chance to succeed this morning, Hayley, Romney, Hayley's son, and Beau, being all gone together to the sea for bathing. The sea, you must know, is nine miles off, so that, unless stupidity prevent, I shall have opportunity to write not only to you, but to poor Hurdis also, who is broken-hearted for the loss of his favourite sister, lately dead ; and whose letter, giving an account of it, which I received yesterday, drew tears from the eyes of all our party. My only comfort respecting even yourself is, that you write in good spirits, and assure me that you are in a state of recovery; otherwise I should mourn not only for Hurdis, but for myself, lest a certain event should reduce me, and in a short time too, to a situation as distressing as his; for though nature designed you only for my cousin, you have had a sister's place in my affections ever since I knew you. The reason is, I suppose, that, having no sister, the daughter of my own mother, I thought it proper to have one, the daughter of yours.
Certain it is, that I can by no means afford to lose you, and that, unless you
will be upon honour with me to give me always a true
account of yourself, at least when we are not together, I shall always be unhappy, because always suspicious that you deceive me. Now for ourselves. I am, without the least dissimulation, in good health; my spirits are about as good as you have ever seen them; and if increase of appetite, and a double portion of sleep, be advantageous, such are the advantages that I have received from this migration. As to that gloominess of mind, which I have had these twenty years, it cleaves to me even here, and, could I be translated to Paradise, unless I left my body behind me, would cleave to me even there also. It is my companion for life, and nothing will ever divorce us. So much for myself. Mrs. Unwin is evidently the better for her jaunt, though by no means as she was before this last attack; still wanting help when she would rise from her seat, and a support in walking; but she is able to use more exercise than she could at home, and moves with rather a less tottering step God knows what he designs for me, but when I see those who are dearer to me than myself distempered and enfeebled, and myself as strong as in the days of my youth, I tremble for the solitude in which a few years may place me. I wish her and you to die before me, but not till I am more likely to follow immediately. Enough of this Romney has drawn me in crayons, and, in the opinion of all here, with his best hand, and with the most exact resemblance possible.*
* This portrait is now in the possession of Dr. Johnson's family.
The seventeenth of September is the day on which I intend to leave Eartham. We shall then have been six weeks resident here; a holiday time long enough for a man who has much to do. And now, farewell !
P.S. Hayley, whose love for me seems to be truly that of a brother, has given me his picture, drawn by Romney, about fifteen years ago : an admirable likeness.
TO MRS. CHARLOTTE SMITH.*
Eartham, Sept. 1792. Dear Madam-Your two counsellors are of one mind. We both are of opinion that you will do well to make your second volume a suitable companion to the first, by embellishing it in the same manner; and have no doubt, considering the welldeserved popularity of your verse, that the expense will be amply refunded by the public.
I would give you, Madam, not my counsel only, but consolation also, were I not disqualified for that delightful service by a great dearth of it in my own experience. I too often seek but cannot find it. Of this, however, I can assure you, if that may
at all comfort you, that both my friend Hayley and myself most truly sympathize with you under all your sufferings. Neither have you, I am persuaded, in any degree lost the interest you always had in
* Private Correspondence.
him, or your claim to any service that it may be in his power to render you. Had you no other title to his esteem, his respect for your talents, and his feelings for your misfortunes, must insure to you the friendship of such a man for ever. I know, however, there are seasons when, look which way we will, we see the same dismal gloom enveloping all objects. This is itself an affliction; and the worse, because it makes us think ourselves more unhappy than we are: and at such a season it is, I doubt not, that you suspect a diminution of our friend's zeal to serve you. I was much struck by an expression in your letter to Hayley, where you say that you “will endeavour to take an interest in green leaves again.” This seems the sound of my own voice reflected to me from a distance; I have so often had the same thought and desire. A day scarcely passes, at this season of the year, when I do not contemplate the trees so soon to be stript, and say, “Perhaps I shall never see you clothed again.” Every year, as it passes, makes this expectation more reasonable ; and the year with me cannot be very distant, when the event will verify it. Well, may God grant us a good hope of arriving in due time where the leaves never fall, and all will be right ! Mrs. Unwin, I think, is a little better than when you saw her; but still so feeble as to keep me in a state of continual apprehension. I live under the point of a sword suspended by a hair. Adieu, my dear Madam; and believe me to remain your sincere and affectionate humble servant,
to LADY HESKEth.
Eartham, Sept. 9, 1792.
My dearest Cousin—I determine, if possible, to send you one more letter, or at least, if possible, once more to send you something like one, before we leave Eartham. But I am in truth so unaccountably local in the use of my pen, that, like the man in the fable, who could leap well no where but at Rhodes, I seem incapable of writing at all, except at Weston. This is, as I have already told you, a delightful place; more beautiful scenery I have never beheld, nor expect to behold; but the charms of it, uncommon as they are, have not in the least alienated my affections from Weston. The genius of that place suits me better, it has an air of snug concealment, in which a disposition like mine feels peculiarly gratified; whereas here I see from every window woods like forests, and hills like mountains, a wildness, in short, that rather increases my natural melancholy, and which, were it not for the agreeables I find within, would soon convince me that mere change of place can avail me little. Accordingly, I have not looked out for a house in Sussex, nor shall.
The intended day of our departure continues to be the seventeenth. I hope to re-conduct Mrs. Unwin to the Lodge with her health considerably mended; but it is in the article of speech chiefly, and in her powers of walking, that she is sensible of much improvement. Her sight and her hand
WOL. V. G