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hear Miss Burney that was — Madame D'Arblaye — is writing for the stage.
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 ; ’t was a curious advertisement. So is Mr. Kemble's in another way; he has proved himself no conjurer, sure, to get into such a scrape, but Alexander and Statira will pull hiin out, I suppose.f 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 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,"
* The celebrated Ireland forgeries.
† He was obliged to make a public apology for indecorous behavior to a lady, afterwards his sister-in-law.
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 honors 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 see Mr. Lloyd of Wickwor, whom we here justly call the philosopher, I shall find what he thinks of the discovery. Give my kindest regards to your very amiable neighbors, Miss Pettiwards; they must take double care of their mother now, if possible, for all the people past a certain age seem to be dropping off.
'T is very wicked in me to send you these sixpennyworths of interrogations every time I feel my ignorance of what passes in the world painful to myself, or disgraceful among those whom I wish to entertain ; but whoever is rich will be borrowed from ; so Adieu! and write soon, and accept my master's and Cecilia's best compliments from, dear Sir, yours most faithfully, i
H. L. Piozzi.
To the Rev. Daniel Lysons.
Brynbella, 9th February, 1796. You really can scarcely believe, dear Mr. Lysons, how much entertainment and pleasure was given us by your agreeable and friendly letter, in which however you do not mention your brother, but I doubt not he is well and happy. You do not mention the high price of provisions neither, though sufficient to make everybody unhappy; but this mild season, and good plenty of coals, I trust, contribute to keep people quiet, assisted by our new laws against sedition. I have found a wise book at last — Miss Thrale sent it me — on Monopoly and Reform of Manners; printed for Faulder. It should be given about, I think, like Hannah More's penny books, and got by heart for a task by servants, apprentices, &c., and much finer people, though they are too fine by half.
The Chinese embassy * will not tempt three guineas out of my pocket, say what they will, and say it how they will. Æneas Anderson has convinced me that it was an empty business at best.
Your account of Shakespear's being forged and fooled after so many years peace and quietness, most exactly tallies with what my heart told me upon reading the queen's supposed letter to him in our newspaper. I have seen no other, but was struck with the word amuse. She would have said pastyme. The other phrase was hardly received in France (whence we got it) so early as the days of Elizabeth. The dates, however, are decisive, when you tell me she is made to promote the amusement of a man then known to be dead. The Earl of Leicester was ranger here of Denbigh Green, you know; and my ancestor, Salusbury of Bachygraig, opposed his innovation when he sought to enclose the common for his use. The tyrant followed him up, though, till he got his life; and not contented with that, brought his first cousin, Salusbury of Llewenney, — my mother's ancestor, — to death likewise, by way of revenge ; all which shall serve as my pretext for a good piece of the Green whenever it is ordered for cultivation. Meantime, let me request an early narrative of Vortigern's success. I think they will pluck his painted vest from him, but we shall see.
It has been long matter of surprise to me that the less-instructed part of our common audiences in London never miss being right in their judgment of a play, or even of the language; for as to incidents, those are as obvious to one set of men as to another, if probable or not. But what I mean is this: when Lady Macbeth tells them that the grooms of Duncan's chamber she will with wine and wassel so convince, &c., they think it (as it certainly is) perfectly right, and in character with the times; but let Cumberland or Jephson use the same phrase, and say they will convince a knot of friends with drink, a loud shout of laughter would, without any instigation, burst from the upper gallery ; every single member of which, talked to apart, would appear to know very little, if anything, concerning the history of their native tongue. For these reasons it is scarce a fair wager how this new tragedy is received, without they bring it out in Shakespear's name, which I do think would save it harmless, so long as they believed the imposition.
* The work on Lord Macartney's Embassy to China, price three guineas.
Meantime, I see by the newspapers people continue to insult the king, throwing stones at him as he passes. Methinks the very word stone should be offensive to all his family : one mad fool of the name persecuted Princes Sophia, as I remember, with offers of marriage ; and this coachmaker or coal-merchant, or what was the anagrammatical gentleman who signed Enots, he seems to have escaped by testimonials to his character from the rich Democrates. I think they are all Gall Stones, and I heartily wish we were rid of them.
What becomes of the Beavor family? I never write to Mrs. Gillies, because I know she hates letters; but my true esteem of her brave brothers does not lessen by absence. Mrs. D’Arblaye's new novel is not advertised yet. Somebody told me Lady Eglinton is turned writer now she has married the son of Doctor More; but perhaps it was a joke. Will Miss Farren's coronet never be put on? I thought the paralytic countess would have made way for her long ago.
Dear, charming Siddons keeps her empire over all hearts still, I hope ; if an Irish plan takes place in her arrangements this spring, we shall not despair to see her at Brynbella. Tell her so with my true love.
There is a new pamphlet supposed by Jones, the Hutchinsonian, to say that our Saviour's Coming (but not the end of the world) is at hand. I cannot recollect the title of it, but do buy and send it to Streatham Park with any other little thing worth notice, but no three-guinea books. I wonder who wrote the small tract about Monopoly; 't is monstrously clever, and clever only
because it's true. So is my conclusion of this letter, saying that I am most sincerely, dear Sir, yours,
H. L. Piozzi. My master* unites in compliments.
To the Rev. Daniel Lysons.
Brynbella, 9th July, 1796. Dear MR. LYSONS, — This is a letter of mere request, to beg remembrances from old and distant friends. Do pray write now and then, and make me up a good long letter of small London chat ; you can scarcely think how welcome living intelligence is to those who have chiefly the dead to converse with, and I work hard at old stuff all morning, and sigh for some evening conversation about literature and politics, and the common occurrences of the day.
Esher, or Asher, in Surrey, is a place I cannot find in your Environs. It was my grandmother's property, and she sold it to the Pelhams; her mother lies buried there with a painted or colored monument, if I recollect rightly, though 't is many years since I saw it. Mr. Piozzi used to promise me a drive thither, but we never went.
Hume says that Cardinal Wolsey retired to that seat when the king withdrew his favor from him ; and Mr. Fitzmaurice, from whose library I borrowed the book, queries the place, and doubts whether he ever was there; although Stowe tells — for I remember it — how Wolsey alighted from his horse in the road between Asher and Richmond, to receive the ring which Henry sent him, and threw himself on his knees in the dirt from thankfulness that he was not wholly out of favor. I wish you would set me right. Likewise I want to know where the spot once called Castlerisings now stands. Edward II.'s queen Isabella was confined there to her death, but lived very grand, I trust, for she had £3,000 a year, a sum equal to a royal jointure now, I suppose. Hume says it was ten miles from London, and it must be nearer now.
* It is curious that she could call her second husband by this name, so well calculated to revive the memory of her first.