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that solemn robe of melody, “ I know that my Redeemer liveth." Do not say gold, Madam, he replied, it was despicable tinsel.
Yet justice will confess, that she has a rich fulness in all the natural parts of her voice, which leave her fair public rivals, and the misshapen and snuff-begrimed Rubenelli, at considerable distance.
Mrs Billington possesses a great deal of genuine beauty, and very unaffected and charming
Fame has traduced her chastity ; but there are no meretricious traits in her countenance or conversation, which I had opportunities of observing, often meeting her in private musical parties. Adieu! Remark the length of my letter, and suffer it to expiate that of my preceding si-. lence.
To Miss Powys.
Lichfield, June 25, 1786. It rejoices me that you find yourself ultimately happier for your voluntary exertions. From
the native energy of your mind, I believed it would be so, and therefore approved your scheme. In you, it does not strike me as wonderful, that a charge of such inevitable anxiety should be undertaken, without any expectation of permanent gratitude from those on whom it lays such high obligations. Beneath long experience of the scarcity of that virtue, a spirit, warm and energetic as yours, will look for its certain reward solely to the pleasure it experiences in generous and well-directed exertions. Better directed no exertion can be, than in rendering the orphan daughters of a dear friend, young women, whose future influence over the feelings, the morals, and the happiness of others, may probably be extensive, more amiable than they have any chance of being, if their opening youth should be devoted to fashionable pursuits, and mere amusement ; and, without any shield from intellectual cultivation, exposed to the allurement of dissipation, and to the untenpered force of its pernicious effects upon the powers of thought, and the habits of industry.
This summer's retirement, with its destined and varied plan of mental improvement, will form a test for the degree of native strength of mind which these lovely young women may possess. If, amidst pursuits that should withdraw them from the power of the senses, and from the narrow and selfish gratifications of personal vanity; amidst pursuits that tend to make the past, the distant, and the future preponderate over the present, you perceive the spirits languid, the attention wandering, and the memory employed in recollection, and, in anticipation of frivolous scenes, it will be wise to prepare yourself for a blighted and barren harvest as to mind, with whatever care you may prepare the soil, and however liberally you may sow the seeds of intellectual cultivation.
O! lost Honora! it is not possible to speak on this subject, without recollecting the striking proof thy seventeenth year afforded of heart and mind triumphant over juvenile vanity. How incapable was all the unkindness of thy married life to banish the recollection of that letter, written secretly to my mother in the autumn of the year 1770, intreating that she would urge her own ill health, though not at that time worse than usual, to * Mr Sneyd, that his consent might be obtained for thy return to Lichfield from Bath, when thou wert, at that instant, the toast of that gay city; where every eye pursued thee with ad
* Honora's father.
miration, and every tongue with praise ! Never can I forget the hazard to which thou didst put thy precious life, by passing those deep waters, that seemed rising to keep us asunder ; never the transport with which thou didst bound into the dining-room; the tears of joy from those beautiful eyes, that wet my cheek on our first embrace, after those long three months of anxious absence ; leaving us, as thou didst, with every dread prognostic of consumption, and returning in full health, the blessed boon of the Bristol waters. Continually present to my recollection is the delight with which thou didst then first draw thy chair to our domestic hearth, where quiet, affection, and the spirit of intellectual expansion, were the only Lares. How do I love to recal the tender exultation with which thy dear hands were folded and clasped together, for having exchanged balls and plays, and malls and parades, for books and conversation with me, and with a few chosen friends! The triumphs of youth and beauty for the disclosures of the heart and mind, and the voice of adulation for that of sincere affection! Hope cannot present a future joy half so dear as these priceless recollections, lodged beyond the reach of fate, while memory remains to me.
My pleasures, during my late excursion to town, were allayed by the regrets I felt for being obliged to decline countless kind invitations, and that from the destined limits of my stay, the extension of which filial duty would not permit. I was honoured by finding several literary parties formed on my account; and they were replete with every gratification to my spirit. I profess no ụnnatural stoicism to the praises of the learned and ingenious; nor could I listen with an undelighted ear to the warm approbation of my Horatian paraphrases expressed in these circles. The Ode to Phyllis has a domestic, joyous, picturesque festivity, which will interest and please you.
Its spirit has wretchedly evaporated in every former translation that has met my eye from Francis and others. I who, like yourself, think the delights of social friendship possess the highest zest, have at least translated that ode con amore. Such hours, and such days of animated preparation, and of vivid enjoyment, you and I have tasted beneath this roof.