Page images

to Siddons, I hear, but sure that won't do. How droll it must be to see Mrs. Abingdon act Scrub!"

"Rome, 25th March, 1786.

"Nothing was ever more pretty, comical, and sparkling than the verses about Mr. Boswell, which you tell me are Dr. Walcot's; but, upon my honour, the world is very rigorous; for, if Boswell was Plutarch, nothing but the sayings of Johnson could he record—like Arabella's maid in the Female Quixote' we should all be at a loss to keep a register of his actions, for even her ladyship's smiles might be mentioned, as she suggests; but dear Dr. Johnson did not afford us many of them. Is Mrs. Montagu convinced of my respect, and of Mr. Boswell's flippancy? I hope so."

"Milan, 6th July, 1786. "Miss Nicholson's never having had my letters, nor I hers, is amazing: we thought she was gone to France, and she, it seems, imagined us still at Milan."

"Holy Thursday (1787), Hanover Square.

"DEAR MR. LYSONS.-I have found about forty letters of Johnson's in the old trunk, which may very well be printed; some of them exceedingly long ones, and of the best sort. I read two or three to Mr. Cadell, and he liked them vastly, but will not abate of mine; and for the sake of his partiality I am now resolved to be patiently tied to the stake, and if we can find six or seven tolerable ones for each volume, he shall have them, but let me look them over once again. No need

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

to expunge with salt and lemons all the names I have crossed let the initials stand; it is enough that I do not name them out; civility is all I owe them, and my attention not to offend is shown by the dash. The preface is written, and when I get the verses from Dr. Lort I will not be dilatory, for I have a nice little writing room, and a very gentleman-like man to deal with in Mr. Cadell."

"Alfred Street, Bath, 17th Nov. 1787.

"The authors of The World' are vastly civil, but I have not yet been able to get a sight of the paragraph. Miss Lees are charming women, and appear to deserve their very uncommon success.

"With regard to my own book, if no one thinks more about it than I have done since I saw you, woe betide Cadell! If anybody has stolen a letter of mine, they will add little to their guilt, though much to their shame by publishing it.” *

[ocr errors]

"Exmouth, 23rd August, 1788. "It was the heat of the summer exalted Baretti's venom so, I am told all the vipers sting terribly this year. He'll cool with the weather, you'll see."

"I wish Seward and Miss Streatfield would make a match of it at last; there would then be a collar of SSS."

* This alludes to a letter of hers to Johnson, dated Bath, April 28, 1780; afterwards published by Boswell. On the margin she has written: "This is the famous letter with which Mr. Boswell threatened us all. He bought it of Frank the Black for half a crown, to have a little teising in his power."



"Edinburgh, 8th July, 1789.

"I am glad the book swims, poor thing! - what does Dr. Lort say of it? Yet he would have written himself, I fear, had it much pleased him."

"Edinburgh, 21st July (1789), Tuesday.

"DEAR MR. LYSONS,-I wish Cadell had sent my money to Drummond's before he left London; but I warrant he forbore only before he left that it was too little for such a book; so means to do something handsome just at harvest season; and the genteel thing is the genteel thing at any time,' as Goldsmith's Bear-leader says in the play.”

[ocr errors]

"Keswick, 21st July, 1789.


"Pray who is my enemy that writes in the British Review? You told me one enemy's name, and I forgot it again; which Review does he write for? or are they both the same man ?


To the Rev. Daniel Lysons.

[ocr errors]

4 o'clock in the morning of Saturday 16, 1794.

DEAR MR. LYSONS, Here are we returned home from a concert at one house, a card assembly at a second, a ball and supper at a third. The pain in my side, which has tormented me all evening, should not however have prevented my giving the girls their frolic, and enjoying your company myself; but servants and horses can't stand it if I can, and even Cecilia consents not to be

waked in four hours after she lies down. Excuse us all, therefore, and believe me ever truly yours,


To the Rev. Daniel Lysons.

Denbigh, Sunday night, 15th February, 1795.


DEAR MR. LYSONS,-A thousand thanks for your letter, and literary intelligence. I suspect the tragedy &c.* will prove a second Chattertonism; this is an age of imposture. What became of the philosopher in St. Martin's Lane, who advertised a while ago that he gave life and motion to stone figures, that moved and turned in every direction at the word of command? I never saw it in the paper but once; 'twas a curious advertiseSo is Mr. Kemble's in another way; he has proved himself no conjuror, sure, to get into such a scrape, but Alexander and Statira will pull him out, I suppose.† Poor dear Mrs. Siddons is never well long together, always some torment, body or mind, or both. Are people only sick in London (by the way), or do they die? not of any one contagious disorder, but of various maladies. I suspect there is disposition to mortality in the town, sure enough, for never did I read of so many deaths together; these violent changes from cold to heat, and from heat to cold, occasion a great deal of it.

For the Princess of Wales, I think little about her

*The celebrated Ireland forgeries.

† He was obliged to make a public apology for indecorous behaviour to a lady, who afterwards became his sister-in-law.

just now, and still less about that horrid Mr. Brothers, but it will be a dreadful thing to see the King and Queen of Spain setting out upon their travels, as appears by no means improbable, if the French are in possession of Pampeluna. The Spaniards can fight nothing but bulls; we shall have that royal family unroosted, I verily believe, and in a few months too. The capture of Holland will seem a light thing in comparison of so heavy a calamity when it comes to pass, for all the riches of Mexico will then drop into the wrong scale.

"But we will not be over-exquisite

To scan the fashion of uncertain evils,"

as Milton says; but keep out famine by liberality, and contagion by cleanliness, as long as ever we can; loving our gallant seamen meantime, and rewarding them with all the honours and profits old England has to bestow.

I should like to read your Fast sermon; we shall have a very good one here, for among other comforts Denbigh possesses that of an excellent preacher and reader. Pray tell how the day is observed in London and its environs: I shall be curious to hear; and do assure you with the greatest sincerity that letters from you and your brother are most desirable treats. He is cruel, though, and keeps close Mum. Pray are the Greatheeds in town? what do they say of Mr. Kemble's conduct? and what of their countryman Shakespeare's extraordinary resuscitation? It seems to me a sort of tub to the whale, a thing to catch attention, and detain it from other matters. When we

« PreviousContinue »