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but twice to church in this town yet, and never did I listen to more eloquent discourses than were pronounced those two times; but every book one borrows breathes democracy; every mouth opens against Church establishments; every play, every novel discourages subordination, and militates against conjugal fidelity and filial
The batteries against religion are scarcely masked ones; her outworks give way, and good people cluster close into the citadel. I feel amazed and shocked at the strange process made since I was here before,-- not made by vice; that has perhaps been nearly the same for ever,-- but by shameless avowal of all which was once concealed, and desire of justifying what till now was always condemned.”
“Brynbella, Oct. 1799. “ Mr. Piozzi is at his best now, and has little to torment him except foxhunters who break his fences, and perpetual showers that hinder his fields from drying so as to admit the wheat which must be sown, or else no bread for next year.
Yet tho' he walks out at present and enjoys a gleam of sunshine when it comes, his health is itself a mere gleam of sunshine, and gives him but little power of promising a visit to Berkshire., You must come to us at Bath,— that will be best; and we shall have Mr. Chappelow and Mrs. Pennington, and contrive to conclude the old year with tolerable chearfulness. Yet how awful a thought is it that with this next December concludes that date of 17 - to which we were all born, and with which our
fingers have been so long acquainted. Some more extraordinary events will perhaps fill up the twelve or thirteen weeks that remain of the time, and mark the moment with a strong impression. The Italians seem to apprehend their sufferings are scarce over. "Roma quondam orbis caput, postea Populi Romani Sepulchrum,' has still a load of insects within her, preying on her putrid and neglected carcase.
Will they set up a new Pope? If they do, Abbé Maury has my vote, and he is Pierre Maury; and that will tally neatly enough with my remark how all power ends with the same name it began. France has done so exactly. Clovis is Louis, you know, as our Vale of Clwydd is Llwydd and Lloyd . and the first Stadtholder of Holland was William. The last wretched creature that made believe Emperor of Rome possess’d both the names of Romulus and Augustus; but if the last Pope be Peter, it will do
“To be serious, these are terrifying times, they are indeed. Our little Bishop of St. Asaph thinks the French will set up an Adepte, an Illuminè man, to profane the papal chair for ever. Perhaps they will. The poor bishop did look very dismal for awhile, and the first Sunday I went to the Cathedral after Mrs. Bagot's death affected my spirits so, that I came home seriously and unfeignedly sick. I have, as you well know, no Ton insensibility about me, but I really find those lucky that have ; because everything shows that reason and religion, good sense in this world and firm trust in a better, have not half as much power to calm
and smooth appearances as Ton has; when sorrow and joy and love and hate are all covered with a coat of fashionable varnish, they cannot struggle as they used to do. So they all lye still and go to sleep.
Speaking ill of our Universities begins to be the mode, I think; and female parents, in particular, seem as if one should fancy it pretty in them to dislike a place where so much vice is going forward, they say. When one asks them, however, where less vice is to be found, or where any virtue is more encouraged, no answer has been prepar’d. There is at least more learning and more virtue at Oxford than anywhere I suppose; and to say one wishes there were more, is what may be urged of every other place with equal propriety. I am still for Eton and Christ Church. The high road is dusty and carriages do run against you, but byways are always worse, and those who suffer by taking indirect paths are apt to regret, and to consider their original destination or choice as cause of their ill-fortune. He who is overturned in the Grand Chemin must confess it to be his own fault.”
“Brynbella, 13th May, 1801. “I have been canvassing Miss Thrales these years, and their votes have a Q before them yet. People skilled in electioneering know that letter stands for Query .... the steady suffrages have a P for Promise. I used to tell the borough folks who kept our books, they must mind their p's and q's. So must Buonaparte, if he comes hither on call of our home Ja
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 30,0001., the other 60,0001. 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