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Why, says I, this is a little nosegay of conceits, a very lump of salt: every verse hath something in it that piques; and then the dart in the last line is certainly as pretty a sting in the tail of an epigram, for so I think you critics call it, as ever entered into the thought of a poet. Dear Mr. Bickerstaff, says he, shaking me by the hand, every body knows you to be a judge of these things; and to tell you truly, I read over Roscominon's translation of Horace's Art of Poetry three several times, before I sat down to write the sonnet which I have shown you. But you shall hear it again, and pray observe every line of it; for not one of them shall pass without your approbation.
When dress'd in laurel wreaths you shine, That is, says he, when you have your garland on; when you are writing verses. To which I replied, I know your meaning: a metaphor? The same, said he, and went on
And tune your soft melodious notes, Pray observe the gliding of that verse; there is scarce a consonant in it: I took care to make it run upon liquids. Give me your opinion of it. Truly, said I, I think it as good as the former. I am very glad to hear you say so, says he; but mind the next.
You seem a sister of the Nine,
That is, says he, you seem a sister of the Muses ; for, if you look into antient authors, you will find it was their opinion, that there were nine of them. I remember it very well, said I : but pray proceed, Or Phoebus' self in petticoats.
Phebus, says he, was the god of poetry. These little instances, Mr, Bickerstaff, show a gentleman's reading. Then to take off from the air of learning, which Phæbus and the Muses have given to this first stanza, you may observe, how it falls all of a sudden into the familiar; in petticoats !'
Or Phoebus' self in petticoats.
Let us now, says I, enter upon the second stanza; I find the first line is still a continuation of the meta, phor.
I fancy, when your song you sing, It is very right, says he; but pray observe the turn of words in those two lines. I was a whole hour in adjusting of them, and have still a doubt upon me, whether in the second line it should be Your song you sing;'or, 'You sing your song ?'. You shall hear them both :
I fancy, when your song you sing,
(Your song you sing with so much art)
I fancy, when your song you sing,
(You sing your song with so much art) Truly, said I, the turn is so natural either
that you have made me almost giddy with it. Dear sir, said he, grasping me by the hand, you have a great deal of patience; but pray,
think of the next verse ?
Your pen was pluck'd from Cupid's wing ;
Think ! says I; I think you have made Cupid.look like a little goose. That was my meaning, says he: I think the ridicule is well enough hit off. But we come now to the last, which sums up the whole matter.
For, ah! it wounds me like his dart.
Pray, how do you like that Ah! doth it not make a pretty figure in that place ? Ah!
it looks as if I felt the dart, and cried out at being pricked with it.
For, ah! it wounds nie like his dart.
My friend Dick Easy, continued he, assured me, he would rather have written that Ah! than to have been the author of the Æneid. He indeed objected, that I made Mira’s pen like a quill in one of the lines, and like a dart in the other. But as to that
-Oh! as to that, says I, it is but supposing Cupid to be like a porcupine, and his quills and darts will be the same thing. He was going to embrace me for the hint; but half a dozen critics coming into the room, whose faces he did not like, he conveyed the sonnet into his pocket, and whispered me in the ear, he would show it me again as soon as his man had written it over.
'T BELIEVE you will forgive me, though I write to you a very long epistle; since it relates to the satisfaction of a country life, which I know you would lead if you could. In the first place, I must confess to you, that I am one of the most luxurious men living; and
as I am such, I take care to make my pleasures lasting, by following none but such as are innocent and refined, as well as, in some measure, improving. You have in your labours been so much concerned to represent the actions and passions of mankind, that the whole vegetable world has almost escaped your observation : but sure there are gratifications to be drawn from thence, which deserve to be recommended. For your better information, I wish you would visit
your old friend in Cornwall. You would be pleased to see the many alterations I have made about my house, and how much I have improved my estate without raising the rents of it. As the winter engrosses
portion of the year, the three delightful vicissitudes being crowded almost within the space of six months, there is nothing upon which I have bestowed so much study and expense, as in contriving means to soften the severity of it, and, if possible, to establish twelve cheerful months about my habitation. In order to this, the charges I have been at in building and furnishing a green-house will, perhaps, be thought somewhat extravagant by a great many gentlemen whose revenues exceed mine. But when I consider that all men of any life and spirit have their inclinations to gratify; and when I compute the sums laid out by the generality of the men of pleasure, in the number of which I always rank myself, in riotous eating and drinking, in equipage and apparel, upon wenching, gaming, racing, and hunting; I find, upon the balance, that the indul
my humour comes at a reasonable rate. Since I communicate to you all incidents serious and trifling, even to the death of a butterfly, that fall out within the compass of my little empire; you will
not,'I hope, be ill pleased with the draught I now send you of my little winter paradise, and with an account of my way of amusing myself and others in it.
'The younger Pliny, you know, writes a long letter to his friend Gallus, in which he gives him a very particular plan of the situation, the conveniences, and the agreeableness of his villa. In my last, you may remember, I promised you something of this kind. Had Pliny lived in a northern climate, I doubt not but we should have found a very complete orangery among his epistles ; and I, probably, should have copied his model, instead of building after my own fancy, and you had been referred to him for the history of my late exploits in architecture : by which means my performances would have made a better figure, at least in writing, -than they are like to make at present.
• The area of my green-house is a hundred paces long, fifty broad, and the roof thirty feet high. The wall toward the north is of solid stone, On the south side, and at both the ends, the stone-work rises but three feet from the ground; excepting the pilasters, placed at convenient distances, to strengthen and beautify the building. The immediate spaces are filled up with large sashes of the strongest and most transparent glass. The middle sash, which is wider than any of the cther, serves for the entrance; to which you mount by six easy steps, and descend on the inside by as many.
This opens and shuts with greater ease, keeps the wind out better, and is at the same time mora uniform than folding doors.
• In the middle of the roof there runs a cieling thirty feet broad from one end to the other. This is enlivened, by a masterly pencil, with all the variety of rural scenes and prospects, which he has peopled with