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cobins. The wisest people I converse with say he must come, or expose himself to danger from vindictive Frenchmen. Things are supposed ripening for revolt in that distracted nation, whence religion and morals are more completely banish'd — as foreigners have told me -than any living creature in our comparatively quiet land can have a notion.
"The Bishop is just now wholly inaccessible to me indeed, though I did squeeze this frank out of him; because Mr. Chester, one of his nephews, is killed in Egypt, and Mr. Piozzi is in bed with the gout, so that I cannot go and condole . . . but no opportunity shall be lost.
"I printed Hannah More's 'Village Politics' here, and paid near twelve guineas out of my own pocketmoney for its translation and dispersion; but when the good news came and welcomed in this lovely month, the master of our house prevented my wishes, and, forbearing silly expence as to candles, gave all his labourers and cottagers a good mess of soup,— a bit of beef in it, and a dumpling,—exactly on your principle of affording them reason to rejoyce, and a pretext for roaring out 'God save the King!"
"Streatham Park, Wednesday, 1800.
"Did you drink one good-humour'd glass extraordinary to the health of Retrospection,' which will come to light in about a month after your own child, and claim some of your superfluous kindness? I hope you did. If it ever should be in the path of those amiable friends you introduced me to at Oxford, they
will give it a kick forward and drive it along for your sake. Stockdale is a good hoper, and seems to think well of it upon the launch. He is a good aristocrat, too; I am pleas'd that it comes out from his loyal shop. We are living here among the wealthy traders, merchants like princes in the strictest sense,- of liberality as of revenue. One says how his neighbour such a one has 30,000l., the other 60,000l. a year, and I accordingly do see improvements taking place all about London, which entered not into my thoughts a dozen years ago.
The library here, for example, at old Streatham Park has been enriched with new and expensive publications till it looks like Edwards's showy shop in Pall Mall. Our tenant asked leave to purchase some modern books as he called them, with permission to displace the old divines which you remember standing at the bottom of the room; and so he has indeed! nor has that generous creature spent less than a thousand guineas in literary amusement since he lived here. Meanwhile some frightful hand-bills are in circulation, expressing a dependence upon Parliament for that relief which I doubt they have no power to bestow.
"As far as my short sight extends, however, insurrection is completely left without excuse, while such enormous alms are given round this parish as would amaze a native of any kingdom but ours. Whilst they dispense charity with one hand besides, I find them active to defend their property on the other and if they persist in their present resolution of not being plun
der'd, I do think the agitators of evil will see some difficulty in persuading a mob to injure houses whence the poor are so fed, so clothed, so comforted and in each of which arms are kept to protect those possessions which every man seems trying to deserve.
"We were calculating three nights ago that less than one million of pounds sterling was not given away last year in private bounties, besides Poor's Revenues amounting to five times that sum. I question if Sardinia's king ever could boast such a treasure in his coffers. Bread is at eighteen pence the quartern loaf this day, however, and the new Lord Mayor will have a troublesome time of it."
"Wednesday, 7th Jan. 1801.
"For my own part the world has used me to indulgence, so that I feel quite astonished when I meet a little severity.*
"There has been very little yet. One gentleman, in his care for my reputation as to scholarship, sent a friend across the town yesterday to tell me that the quotation in vol. 1st. p. 381 was quite wrong, because Anna, not Acca, was the woman's name there called upon. It was almost painful to me to tell him that, tho' Dido's sister (like the lady's sister in Bluebeard) was Anna, Camilla's companion in fight was Acca, and called sister only from tenderness. Almost every Latin quotation and many French ones are wrong printed. Mr. Gillet's rebellion among his compositors was a
*She had just published "Retrospection."
terrible stroke on poor Stockdale and myself, and I was forced to rout out my dirty manuscript an hour ago to convince a Roman Catholic critick that it was not my fault but the devil's, that their hymn to St. John was so mangled, 1st vol. p. 251. He made no complaint of any mistake in page 304, the same volume.
"Dear Mr. Gray, say a good word of the book in general, and let us get out of print, and set forth a more correct edition; and let us never flatter ourselves hereafter that a clean handwriting is any security against typographical errors."
"Brynbella, 2nd August, 1801.
"Lord bless me! what an expence they do put us to with their frivolous and vexatious menaces! Those vile agents who buy up even the standing corn to make artificial scarcity, and irritate our lower ranks to rebellion, are more hateful pests than even the French themselves. 'Tis confidently asserted here that men live in the great towns of London and Liverpool by throwing corn into the sea by night, or into the river, and that their pay is a guinea for every six hours' work. How dreadful!
"Brynbella, 2nd Dec. 1801.
My learning, that the people laugh at so much more justly than they think they do, comes chiefly from the Spectators and Tattlers, but is not sufficient to inform me what was meant a hundred years ago in common col
loquial chat by vowelling a man. Some of those charming papers has this phrase: "Such a one, says he, has been vowell'd by the Count, and resolves to demand satisfaction.'
"I should like to know what it means. Was there a quibble intended? Had some fine fellow lost money at play to some other fine fellow, and was he forced to say I OU? When we were at Vienna our cicerone showed us these letters over the Arsenal, and asked all the gentlemen in our party if we could explain them: A. E. I. O. U. After everybody had confessed ignorance, he said 'Austriacorum Est Imperare Orbi Universo' was the device intended, and I remember some of the company, a Frenchman, I think,- objected. Buonaparte has vowelled them pretty well
"If this phrase means picking one's name to pieces, how terribly has poor H-nn-h M-r- been treated during this Bristol controversy! Her health, always feeble, has given way to their ill-usage, and those who are near intimates tremble for the consequence. We shall go to Bath next month, and then I will try to comfort her. A sister in affliction may have peculiar chance for success; but, I don't know how it is, I never was in affliction. My countenance, unlike that of old Hamlet's ghost, was more, much more in anger than in sorrow, and so grew less like a ghost, I do believe in proportion as my critics charged me with loss of youth and beauty. They had need be very young and handsome themselves to make such nonsense tolerated."