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Shocked at the unfeeling rudeness he thus recorded of himself, I replied, that I was surprised any person should obtrude their writings upon his attention; adding, that if I could write as well as Milton, or Gray, I should think the best fate to be desired for my compositions was exemption from his notice. I expected a sharp sarcasm in return, but he only rolled his large head in silence.
If the spirits of our noblest bards yet retain any solicitude for their earthly fame, either as poets or as men, they perhaps would like to have met the fate of Mr R- I remain, dear Madam,
Lichfield, March 17, 1788. The consciousness that
health is so much amended, comes across my mind in a glow of satisfaction. Those strong maternal desires that, unfulfilled from year to year, pined in the pain of longing, sapt the foundations of your health; which, I flatter myself, the sight and affectionate attentions of your daughter will build up again. Your name in the dramatis personæ of Richmond House delighted as a good omen on that subject.
Alas! poor Mrs Style! I hoped to have felt my heart expand again and again in the warm benevolence which shone out in her countenance, and in her manners. I should yet more regret that you have lost her, had you not told me that clouds of causeless dejection were apt to involve, and, during long intervals, darken its light. The idea of a friend's sufferings, so painful to us while they are endured, becomes lenient and consolatory when it hovers over their sepulchre ; yet must you long. feel a dreary vacuity in Lady Fane's circle. Local circumstances are great nourishers of regret,
6 When to the old elm's wonted shade returnd,
It is peculiarly proper that I should condole with you on the loss of your friend this day—for it is the 17th of March; the birth-day of my lovely long-deceased sister, who died in her nineteenth year—" a fair flower soon 'cut down on our fields. The spring returned with its showers, but no leaf of her's arose :”-yet does not my heart forget this day, which gave to life an amiable creature, who shed the light of joy over many of my youthful years. Many are fled since she vanished from earth. Time balms sorrow, and there is a joy in grief when the soul is at peace. But I ann conscious there are deprivations, the wound of which no time can balm. Then it is that anguish wastes the mournful, and their days are few. Heaven preserve my heart, and the hearts of all I love, from the corrosive impression of such a woe!
Here is nothing to be called news which can interest you. Some of us are grown very
fine. The's and 's, whom you remember contentedly moving in general equality with their neighbours, have, amidst their, of late years, improving fortunes, taken great 'state apon themselves; affect to live in what they call style; to associate chiefly with Lords and Esquires of high degree in the environs. They think, no doubt, that thus externally elevating theniselves, they shall excite the envy of their neighbours, that darling triumph of contracted minds. They certainly do excite it amongst the many who would act the same part if they had the same golden means. But there are two classes of people who look down upon such low-souled ambition, and all its silly ostentations ;-the religious and the literary. Earthly parade can draw no jealous glances from eyes that are often lifted up to Heaven ; and the votaries of intellectual and lettered pleasures, look upon their lacquies and lords, their strutting and their style, with as undazzled and untroubled eyes as eagles can be supposed to cast on glow-worms, when they have been recently gazing on the sun.
Court Dewes, Esq.
Lichfield, March 9, 1788. Here are copies of those two letters of mine, of former years, which you expressed a desire to possess, when I shewed them to you on your last visit to Lichfield. The first, addressed to the present Mrs Stokes, when she was unmarried, about the year 1781, for there is no date to the original, which she has lent me to transcribe for you.
“ There is no contending with our fate, my dear Miss Rogers.--We must obey the time, and, amidst the press of our mutual avocations, submit to repose upon our certainty of each other's regard, with whatever seldomness our pens may wit“I conceive the pleasure you must feel in the intoxicating activity of the chace. Our enjoyments depend almost as much upon the nature of our bodily organization, as upon the temper of our minds. Had I the fairy lightness of your form, and had escaped the accident which put a period, at twenty-three, to all equestrian exercise, I should feel great delight in mounting a fleet steed, and feeling him hear me, with bounding rapidity, over the hills. I remember the sensation of freedom and independence which I used to feel on horseback. In early rides, when the newly risen summer-sun,
“ With wheels yet hovering o'er the ocean-brim,
and amidst the dance of spirits, which youth and health, vegetable fragrance, and landscapes shining in the first lustre of the dawn, inspired, I used to say to myself, I have taken the wings of the morning, and will fly.
“ Amidst your partial praise of the * Monody on André, it is comical to see you complaining opon paper of want of powers for such a task. The matter comes to this, my pretty friend ;
* Then recently published.