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past, from the side of my aged nurseling, whom I so seldom leave, to the now frozen banks of Warwickshire's immortal stream, which, for the palm of poetic glory, vies, nay more than vies, with that of the Meles and the Mincio. Now, if you were a fellow of a college, you would probably most unpatriotically question at least the transcendency of the claim; but that is the scepticism of pedantry. I have observed that learning, freed from her spells by the power of genuine taste and sensibility, always allows it. I am afraid you do not love poetry enough to interest yourself in the question. Mrs Mompessan is the only instance I have ever met, where a strong understanding, a fine imagination, and a feeling heart, have not been poignantly alive to its charms. You, of all people, you to be this provoking unique, who, in history, chronology, memoir, and moral philosophy, are an absolute walking library! In the ordinarily furnished bosom, I expect to find a torpedo of this sort-but in yours !—I am certainly very sweet-tempered not to lose my patience. Adieu !
To MRS KNOWLES.
Coleshill, eight o'clock, Jan. 19, 1786. I INTENDED long since to have acknowledged your last welcome letter, rich in the treasures of wit, and exhaustless fancy; but our purposes,
« Th' inaudible and pauseless foot of time
Steals, ere we can effect them.”
I am returning home to my poor father, after an absence of three weeks, which I meant should have been only one. The good accounts I received of his precious, though feeble health, made me unable to resist the persuasions of the charming family I have left, to prolong my stay on the frozen banks of the Avon till this inauspicious morning, which slowly broke through the sleet and snows that have covered my chaise in a dreary journey; and here have I been waiting some hours for the arrival of post-horses, to convey me to the dear paternal arms.
At Buxton, August twelvemonth, I became acquainted with Mrs Granville of Calwich, once
Harriet Delebere, the favourite friend of
heroic Jenny Harry, and worthy to have been so, for her mind is amiable, as her person is lovely; with her husband, a sensible and excellent man, who, for a large estate, has lately resigned the name of his fathers; and with his brother, Mr Dewes of Wellsburn, near Warwick, in whose house I have passed the last three weeks. This gentleman is a little thin valetudinarian bachelor, with the complexion and air of a Frenchman; polite, learned, intelligent, sincere, and pious. He has travelled, and been much in various and polished societies. I was invited to his villa, the abode of belles-lettres and the arts, to meet Mr and Mrs Granville, and his second brother, Mr B. Dewes, with their respective children. Mr B. Dewes has lost his lady. Christmas entertainments with the surrounding families; a regular morning concert, during two hours, between the three brothers, all musical, and performing on different instruments, with their friend, Mr Williams, the clergyman of the village, who plays a fine bass-viol; reading aloud from the poetic stores the remainder of the mornings, and in those evenings when we had no visitors; speeded the wintry hours of the day and night on smooth and rapid pinion. I took with me Cowper's Task, the first very distinguished fire of a star lately
arisen in our poetic hemisphere, and the Essay on Epic Poetry by the Bard of Eartham. To the former, they attended with much admiration; to the latter, though not new to them, they listened with new delight. More of Wellsburn hereafter, for the horses are come. I shall take four to drag me through the deep snows. It will be midnight ere I reach home. O! that I may find my father well; and, in the return of his Nancy, I am sure to find him happy.
Lichfield, January the 25th. Though in his bed, my dear father, watching for me, heard the hall-door open on Monday midnight, and rang his bell. Hastening to him, I heard him say, as I entered his apartment, “ Is it my Nancy, my dear Nancy?” Our meeting was glad, even to rapture, on both sides ; perceiving, as I did, full as much appearance of internal health as on our separation. Several of our kind neighbours had promised me that he should not pass many lonely hours in my absence. My cousin, Mr White, and Giovanni, were, by turns, almost constantly with him.
At Wellsburn, Mrs Granville and myself often talked of the dear saint, your Jenny Harry. I read to the animated party the whole of your charming letter. They were much impressed by
the pathos with which it describes that soft resignation, which, dying in the bloom of her life, drew the sting of death from her bosom; and by those angelic aspirations, that lighted, with more than a sun, the chambers of the opening grave. My friends listened, with an air of tender and pious delight, to a description which chased away all sorrow for a loss, so much her gain. It augmented the esteem with which they had always viewed the noble sacrifice she made to apprehended duty, of an interest so dazzling.
The gayer parts of your epistle enchanted them by their brilliance. The ingenious comparison of this late intoxicated, and now sick and disordered kingdom, to a tavern company, after a drunken riot, highly pleased the somewhat fastidious taste of my ingenious host. He called your manner of writing vivid, strong, and original. We do not always agree in our opinion of talents and composition. He often thinks my approbation too glowing, I his too coy; but we are perfectly in unison concerning the strength and fertility of imagination in your letters, and in the poems of Hayley. Mr Dewes agreed with me, that these poems equal Dryden's, as to the luxuriance of poetic creation, and the happiness of allusion, avoiding the slovenly coarseness of his style.