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Such were the words of a man, one of the most eminent of his time, whether we consider his character for arts, arms, general literature, or poetry; whether as a courtier a politician, or a man of quality. What business then have I with them, will your ladyship say, resembling him in none of these particulars My answer is, that if I do not in anything else, I resemble him in the four lines I have quoted. It is certain (though I do not like, even at seventy-six, to talk of “age decayed ”) that I am not a little older than when I first had the honor and good fortune of being known to you ; that I have done with courts; am tired of business; and now care for nothing but what ease requires.
Were I, therefore, wise, perhaps I should not again launch forth in the hazardous crast of authorship. But as the illustrious Sheffield did not refrain from doing this, though all the reasons he has enumerated forbade him, so I, having perhaps as much leisure left as his Grace had when he ventured once more on the ocean of letters, presume to follow his example. Pray heaven I may like him, safely return into port |
To pursue the figure I have adopted, I feel like one of those ancient mariners, who after having passed much of their time in making voyages (whether prosperous or not.) do not like to be laid up on shore for the rest of their lives, short as they may be. Their sancy represents that there may still remain some creek or coast which they have not explored; and not willing that their bark should be moored in idleness, they once more weigh anchor, and give her sails to the breeze. In plain English, though tired of business, yet more tired of having nothing to do, I, like the nobleman I have quoted, once more enlist
*Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham.
“Amidst the adventurous rovers of the pen.”
“Very good,” you may reply; “but what have I to do with all this, that you chose to address me upon it?” More perhaps than you are aware of For though a name can do little for a work which cannot do anything for itself, yet if that work can stand at all of itself, such a name as yours, like a Corinthian capital, may give that elegance and ornament to the shaft which are necessary to make it complete. This I should say, if there were no other reason to make me wish to inscribe this labor of mine to your ladyship. But on its perusal, all my readers (at least all who know you) will perceive ample and appropriate reason for the wish. For who that may take the trouble of investigating the character of Bertha, in the following pages, and remembers the graces of your young years—but above all, who that has witnessed the delightful affection and mutual esteem that have so long united you and your revered and noble father—but must allow that the delineation of such a portrait is most appropriately dedicated to you? How justly might I not also extend this still farther, and following you from girlhood to maturer years, give the same reason for recommending the character of Lady Hungerford to your protection. At all events, I have a secret, but deep-felt pleasure, in thinking, that in being allowed thus to address you,a friendship which has gilded so many years of my life, and has been marked with such kindness and condescension on your part, may be told to the world; and, if so, what can it tell of me but honor 2 As to the work itself, if it beguile an hour of your time, by anything like amusement; or, if in thus addressing it to you, I may cause you to believe that I have been as eon