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Dec. 7, 1787.
Is it possible that Lord Heathfield should not see the impropriety of my presuming to intrude upon the Duke of Richmond's attention with an interference, by request, in military promotions, since I can scarcely be said to have the shadow of a personal acquaintance with his Grace ?
My father's present state, the almost utter loss of all his intellectual faculties, is known. Did he possess them, impertinent surely would be an acknowledgement from him, that he supposed the Duke meant any thing more than a polite compliment, by giving the name of obligation to the civility of ordering our servants to make up a bed for him during three nights, and to prepare a bason of gruel for him in the morning, before he went to the field. This was literally all he could be prevailed upon to accept beneath this roof, when, in his years of bloom, he united the occupation of Mars to the form of Adonis. I was then a
This respectable character is still alive, and resident at Southampton.-1810.
green girl, “ something between the woman and the child," nor have I ever since beheld the Duke of Richmond. Though I so perfectly remember him, it is more than probable that he remembers not me; and it would be more than impertinent to presume that I could have interest with him.,
As to incurring obligations, I should be very glad thus to incur them from the Duke for
your advantage ;-but observation, and indeed the revolt I have always myself felt from officious recommendation, invariably proved to me that it injures instead of promoting the interests of the recommended. His Grace would certainly be disgusted by my seeming to suppose that any mention I could make of a relation, or friend, could operate in their favour. Disgust has a withering influence upon patronage. What is it I could say, that has a shadow of probability to enhance the Duke's good opinion of a military man?—that man already recommended to him by Lord Heathfield, the greatest General existing, whose praise ought to be the passport to martial honours and emolument. An attempt of this sort from me would be just as likely to be of use, as if, had I been in Gibraltar during the siege, and when our artillery was pouring on the enemy, I had thrown a bonfire-squib into the mouth of a forty-pounder to assist the force of the explosion.
And, lest it should be apprehended that my poetic reputation might give some degree of consequence to my request, Mr Hayley, who is the Duke's near neighbour, has told me that his Grace had no fondness for works of imagination. The race of Mæcenas is extinct in this period.
When my dear father was in his better days, he lived on terms of intercourse and intimacy with the Marquis of Stafford. Lord Sandwich and my father, in their mutual youth, had been on the Continent together, with the affection of brothers. On my publishing the Monody on André, he desired me to present one to each of these. Lords, expressing an assured belief that the work of an old friend's daughter would not be unacceptable.
I, who ever thought that men of rank have seldom any taste for intellectual exertion, which serves not some purpose of their own interest ; and feeling an invincible repugnance to paying attentions, which are likely to be repulsed with rude neglect, strongly, warmly, and even with a few proud tears, expostulated against the intrusion. My father never knew that great world, with which, in his youth, he had much intercourse. Frank, unsuspecting, inattentive to those nice shades of manners, those effects, resulting from trivial circumstances, which develop the human heart, he judged of others by his own ingenuous
disposition. Benevolent, infinitely good-natured, and incapable of treating his inferiors with ne glect, he thought every kindness, every civility he received, sincere,-every slight shewn either to himself, or others, accidental.
Thus he would persist in the idea that these Lords would be gratified by such a mark of attention to them; and that I should receive their thanks.-I, who had been so much less in their society, knew them better; that such little great men are as capable of impoliteness as they are incapable of taste for the arts ;—but my obedience was insisted upon.
One condition however I made, that, if they should not have the good manners to write, “ I thank you, Madam, for your poem,” he would never more request me to obtrude my compositions upon titled insolence. They had not the civility to make the least acknowledgement.
My heart (I own it is in some respects a proud one) swelled with indignation;—not at the neglect, for I felt it beneath my attention, and had expected it, but because I had been obliged to give them reason to believe that I desired their notice.
My life against sixpence, the Duke of Richmond would receive a letter from me in the same manner. Ah! a soul like Lord Heathfield's, attentive to intellectual exertions in the closet of
the studious, as in the field of honour, and generous enough to encourage, and throw around it the lustre of his notice, is even more rare than his valour, and military skill. I wish his Lordship to see this letter. It will explain to him the nature of those convictions, and of those feelings, which must be powerful indeed, ere I could hesitate a moment to follow his advice, though but insinuated on any subject. My devoted respects and good wishes are his, as they are your’s, not periodically, but constantly.
Lichfield, Dec. 12, 1787. It is pleasant, dear Sophia, to hear what odd things people assert to support their opinions. It seems a strange sort of compliment to say, that pages, covered over with disclosures of the heart, on various subjects, and addressed to absent friends, are not, what they were intended to be, letters, but something, Heaven knows what is to be their name, of a totally different kind.