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would have been more in his place in the quiet vales of Boconoli.”
And thus Lord Camelford. I have, within this past week, looked into Mrs Dobson's Petrarch, which you told me is an abridgement of the Abbé de Sade's Life of that Poet. Mrs Dobson describes the Valley of Vaucluse as luxuriantly sylvan, and of incomparable beauty. There is no saying what devastations time may not have made ; but I wonder her original did not supply her with reflections upon its present contrasting appearance, so rude and barren; that she did not inform herself, from recent visitants to a scene so remarkable, that it was shorn of its woods, and that not a leaf of the love-planted laurels remained. Equally strange, that she should make no mention of the Castle de Sommane, where Laura always resided during the summer months, and which remains to this day the property of her direct descendents. The desire of Petrarch to be near his mistress, accounts for the time which he habitually passed in that valley, and for his local devotion.
If Lord Camelford had known to whom that ruined castle once, nay, to whom it yet belongs, he had surely not expressed his wonder at Petrarch's choice of retreat, nor fancied he could
have been more in his place in any other valley, however superior in scenic beauty.
Pray mention this subject when you write next, and account to me, if you can, for Mrs Dobson's omissions, and for the false description she gives of this scene.
No romantic exaggeration should, in all policy, have been used in descanting upon a situation so known. With what delight, were it in my power, should I visit Vaucluse, and pay homage at its watery shrine !
Miss HELEN WILLIAMS.
Lichfield, Dec. 25, 1787. I am glad you like my friend Colonel Barry. He has genius, literature, and an high sense of military honour. The laurel and the bays are entwined around his brow. It is singular that he should have succeeded Major André as AdjutantGeneral to our armies in America ; and that both these young soldiers should, at different times, have found the charms of Honora Sneyd so tran
scendant and impressive, as to have prevented any other attachment capable of extinguishing the impassioned recollection of her. Within these three years, Colonel Barry assured me, that she was the only woman he had ever seriously loved; that he never beheld a being in whom the blended charms of mind and person, could approach the lustre of those which glowed in the air, the look, the smile, the glance, and the eloquence of Honora Sneyd. Judge you, who know the idolatry of my spirit on that theme, how Colonel Barry must have engaged my regard, by exhibiting, in himself, a second proof of constancy, so rare in these gross times, to my Madam de Grignan,—now mouldering in the tomb, but surviving, in my memory, with all her matchless endowments, graces, and virtues.
Yes, it is very true, on the evening he mentioned to you, when Mrs Piozzi honoured this roof, Colonel Barry's conversation greatly contributed to its Attic spirit. Till that day, I had never conversed with her. There has been no exaggeration, there could be none, in the description given you of Mrs Piozzi's talents for conversation ; at least in the powers of classic allusion and brilliant wit. Comic humour, and declamatory eloquence are Mrs Knowles's fort, and in them she
is unrivalled. I speak of our sex, for in wit and classic spirit, who may transcend Mr Hayley.?
When Mrs Piozzi and I met the next morn, ing, we agreed, that if Colonel Barry was a little less sententious, he would be divine.
I have been attacked with some virulence, and an abundance of absurd sophistry, in the Gentleman's Magazine for July 1787, about my letters on Johnson, signed Benvolio. . I replied in the next number, page 684. The answer to that reply, in the November number, is too feebly and evidently sophistical, to be worth any
Johnson's uncandid and intolerant bluster against the Dissenters has made every proud High Priest his idolater and champion. Whoever, therefore, speaks impartially of him,
“ Calls up a pitchy cloud
You will easily procure from Mr Whalley an introduction to Mrs Piozzi. It will delight you to hear with what energy she speaks of her Egyp
* Parody on a fanious simile in the Paradise Lost. S.
tian bondage to the arbitrary despot. Scarcely was it less seyere for having been voluntary. What a recompense did the ingrate make her after her marriage, for the devotion of her fortune, her health, her peace, to prevent every want, every wish of his! To a benevolent and cheerful temper like hers, most oppressive must have been his habitual malignancy, when resident under her roof. Perhaps she knows not the opprobrious terms in which he abused her for a connection, which, however it might lessen her consequence with the world, was clear from every stain of criminality, towards God and towards man. He spoke of her in company here, as a being without veracity, or worth of any kind; even she, Mrs Thrale! whom he tells, in his letters to her, after many year's intimacy, and daily intercourse, “ that to hear her was to hear wisdom; to see her was to see 'virtue!”
No, indeed, I quarrel not with Burns for his high Scotch; so far from it, that all my favourite parts of his compositions are in the broad Caledonian dialect. It is when he writes in English that his imagination flags and dwindles into illjudged plagarism. Pope stole immensely, but his thefts were from obscure English poets of earlier times, whose embryo-ideas he finished up