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ing-week, she should have asked him to stay dinner; and added he was welcome to stay, even as it was, if he would take pot-luck; but that she had nothing for dinner but a leg of pork and peasepudding.–Adieu !
Rev. DR WARNER.
Lichfield, March 7, 1786. I ENTREAT you will favour me with speedy tidings concerning Mr Hayley's present state of health. Your last letter has alarmed me on the subject. It is not a common degree of interest which I take in his welfare. Observing his constitution, I have always feared for his life.
That you would be glad to learn that Mr Piozzi is constantly and tenderly grateful for the sacrifices his enchanting wife has made to him, at the instigation of the despotic little deity, I was perfectly conscious. Her fine talents, and the ungrateful abuse of Dr Johnson, upon this marriage, after the years she had devoted to render
ing his life happy, ought, and will interest every benevolent heart in her destiny Such hearts will rejoice to see envy and malice disappointed by the devoted attachment of the highly obliged Piozzi, and by his acknowledged virtues.
I perfectly agree with you as to the genius and spirit of Cowper's beautiful poem, The Task ; yet I somewhat wonder at the confidence with which it inspires you in the goodness of his heart. My doubts on that subject do not proceed alone from the severity of his satire, however ill I may think severity to human failings becomes a human creature. But if a benevolent man may be induced to wield, with harsh asperity, the satiric scourge, yet surely he will not suffer ungenerous sentiments to descend from his pen. But for the illiberal protest of this author against the generosity of encomium, against the gratitude of tributary praise, I should have read his poetry with pleasure unallayed, as I confess it was exquisite.
The Task certainly contaius not only dazzling irradiations of fancy, but many noble sentiments. Alas! it is not always, that either one or the other afford indubitable proof of an author's virtue! The depraved and selfish often wear these splendid veils of light, when all is darkness at the centre.
There is a knot of ingenious and charming females at Ludlow, in Shropshire. My friend, Miss Weston, is its leading spirit. Do not chide me, that I ventured to send a few of your delightful letters for the amusement of this little society of intelligent friends. It has been a mental repast, for which they are infinitely grateful. The sister nymphs meditate a plan to draw you into their circle, if you should realize your idea of an expedition to the classic environs of Ludlow. It is a very formidable ambush, believe me. With plenteous resources of wit and imagination, Miss Weston's form is graceful, and her countenance interesting. Her friends are celebrated beauties, with minds much above the common female level. I see no chance of your escape, except from the number of the assailants, which, sluicing your admiration into different channels, may prevent its flowing in a resistless torrent over your heart.
It gratifies my literary ambition not slightly, that you
liked me so much in my “ doublet and hose,” in the letters on Johnson's character, signed Benvolio. I was delighted by your recommending them to my attention, as able, eloquent, and convincing, without the least suspicion of the name or sex of their author. Nothing could be
more flattering than praise, so utterly exempted from the possibility of being meant as flattery.
Lichfield, March 20, 1787. RESPONDENT to your kind inquiries, I have the pleasure to tell you, that my dearest father, though weaker than ever in his limbs, and amidst the fast-fading powers of memory, has had no relapse since his dreadful epileptic seizures in December; while his affection for me seems to increase as the other energies of his mind subside. When I administer his food, his wine, and even his medicines, which indeed are few, cordial, and palatable, he looks at me with ineffable tenderness; and with an emphatic, though weak voice, “ thank you, my dear child, my darling, my blessing ;" and not seldom he calls me the light of his eyes.” The sensations of melting fondness which such expressions awaken in my bosom, are of unutterable pleasure. But, alas! soon or late, we generally pay an high price for whatever has been
cordial to our spirits, and sweet to our hearts. This augmented tenderness, from a parent always affectionate,–0 ! how will it embitter the parting hour, which I must consider as perpetually impending!
I have not heard from Mrs Mompessan since we parted. She does not love her pen, and she loves me well enough to evince, that frequent epistolary intercourse is not necessary to the duration, or even the warmth of friendship. Ever delightful is her society to me. Its interest increases as years roll on. Conversing together, we recal the past, and all that made it dear. My sister, crushed in the blossom of our youth, by the pale hand of death, again lives, and speaks and moves before us, in the soft light of her serene graces ; my mother, in all the energies of her high and generous spirit; my beauteous Honora, as in the golden days of her prime, when her affections were warm, and artless as her bloom; her fancy gay as her smile, her understanding clear as her eyes. Yes, it is thus that our conversations lift the veils of time.
Very gratifying, dear Sophia, is the high value which you say that yourself and your intelligent friends set upon my letters. I cannot doubt your sincerity, else I should be inclined to exclaim,“ How is it that a train of reasoning can please,