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better than I generally do of late, and therefore will not address you in the melancholy tone that belongs to my worst feelings.
I began to be restless about your portrait, and to say, how long shall I have to wait for it? I wished it here for many reasons: the sight of it will be a comfort to me, for I not only love but am proud of you, as of a conquest made in
age. Johnny goes to town on Monday, on purpose to call on Romney, to whom he shall give all proper information concerning its conveyance hither. The name of a man, whom I esteem as I do Romney, ought not to be unmusical in my ears, but his name will be so till I shall have paid him a debt justly due to him, by doing such poetical honours to it as I intend. Heaven knows when that intention will be executed, for the muse is still as obdurate and as coy as ever.
Your kind postscript is just arrived, and gives me great pleasure ; when I cannot see you myself, it seems some comfort, however, that you have been seen by another known to me; and who will tell me in a few days that he has seen you. Your wishes to disperse my melancholy would, I am sure, prevail, did that event depend on the warmth and sincerity with which you frame them ; but it has baffled both wishes and prayers, and those the most fervent that could be made, so many years, that the
seems hopeless. But no more of this at present'
Your verses to Austen are as sweet as the honey that they accompany; kind, friendly, witty, and
elegants when shall I be able to do the like 2 Perhaps when my Mary, like your Tom, shall cease to be an invalid, I may recover a power, at least, to do something. I sincerely rejoice in the dear little man's restoration. My Mary continues, I hope, to mend a little.
to MRs. KING."
Oct. 14, 1792. My dear Madam —Your kind inquiries after mine and Mrs. Unwin's health will not permit me to be silent; though I am and have long been so indisposed to writing, that even a letter has almost overtasked me. Your last but one found me on the point of setting out for Sussex, whither I went with Mrs. Unwin, on a visit to my friend, Mr. Hayley. We spent six weeks at Eartham, and returned on the nineteenth of September. I had hopes that change of air and change of scene might be serviceable both to my poor invalid and me. She, I hope, has received some benefit; and I am not the worse for it myself; but, at the same time, must acknowledge that I cannot boast of much amendment. The time we spent there could not fail to pass as agreeably as her weakness, and my spirits, at a low ebb, would permit. Hayley is one of the most agreeable men, as well as one of the most cordial friends. . * Private Correspondence.
His house is elegant; his library large, and well chosen ; and he is surrounded by the most delightful scenery. But I have made the experiment only to prove, what indeed I knew before, that creatures are physicians of little value, and that health and cure are from God only. Henceforth, therefore, I shall wait for those blessings from Him, and expect them at no other hand. In the mean time, I have the comfort to be able to tell you that Mrs. Unwin, on the whole, is restored beyond the most sanguine expectations I had when I wrote last ; and that, as to myself, it is not much otherwise with me than it has been these twenty years ; except that this season of the year is always unfavourable to my spirits.
I rejoice that you have had the pleasure of another interview with Mr. Martyn; and am glad that the trifles I have sent you afforded him any amuse
This letter has already given you to understand that I am at present no artificer of verse ; and that, consequently, I have nothing new to communicate. When I have, I shall do it to none more readily than to yourself.
My dear Madam,
TO THE REV. JOHN NEWTON.*
Oct. 18, 1792. My dear Friend—I thought that the wonder had been all on my side, having been employed in won
* Private Correspondence.
dering at your silence, as long as you at mine. Soon after our arrival at Eartham, I received a letter from you, which I answered, if not by the return of the post, at least in a day or two. Not that I should have insisted on the ceremonial of letter for letter, during so long a period, could I have found leisure to double your debt; but while there, I had no opportunity for writing, except now and then a short one; for we breakfasted early, studied Milton as soon as breakfast was over, and continued in that employment till Mrs. Unwin came forth from her chamber, to whom all the rest of my time was necessarily devoted. Our return to Weston was on the nineteenth of last month, according to your information. You will naturally think that, in the interval, I must have had sufficient leisure to give you notice of our safe arrival. But the fact has been otherwise. I have neither been well myself, nor is Mrs. Unwin, though better, so much improved in her health, as not still to require my continual assistance. My disorder has been the old one, to which I have been subject so many years, and especially about this season—a nervous fever; not, indeed, so oppressive as it has sometimes proved, but sufficiently alarming both to Mrs. Unwin and myself, and such as made it neither easy nor proper for me to make much use of my pen, while it continued. At present I am tolerably free from it; a blessing for which I believe myself partly indebted to the use of James's powder, in small quantities; and partly to a small quantity of laudanum, taken every night; but chiefly to a manifestation of God's presence vouchsafed to me a few days since; transient, indeed, and dimly seen through a mist of many fears and troubles, but sufficient to convince me, at least while the Enemy's power is a little restrained, that He has not cast me off for ever.
Our visit was a pleasant one; as pleasant as Mrs. Unwin's weakness, and the state of my spirits, never very good, would allow. As to my own health, I never expected that it would be much improved by the journey; nor have I found it so. Some benefit, indeed, I hoped; and, perhaps, a little more than I found. But the season was, after the first fortnight, extremely unfavourable, stormy and wet; and the prospects, though grand and magnificent, yet rather of a melancholy cast, and consequently not very propitious to me. The cultivated appearance of Weston suits my frame of mind far better than wild hills that aspire to be mountains, covered with vast unfrequented woods, and here and there affording a peep between their summits at the distant ocean. Within doors all was hospitality and kindness, but the scenery would have its effect; and, though delightful in the extreme to those who had spirits to bear it, was too gloomy for me.
Yours, my dear friend,