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The two brothers to whom the first batch of the following letters are addressed, were members of a county family settled for more than two centuries at Hempsted in Gloucestershire. Both were eminently distinguished by the extent and variety of their antiquarian and literary acquirements, as well as highly esteemed for their social qualities. It is sufficient to mention their principal work, the “ Magna Britannia,” which they undertook in copartnership. The younger, Samuel, afterwards Keeper of the Records in the Tower and a V. P. R. S., was presented to Johnson and favorably received by him ; but the acquaintance commenced only a few months before Johnson's death.
The present proprietor of Hempsted Court and rector of Rodmarton (the family living) amply sustains the hereditary reputation of his family, being the author of several works of learning, ingenuity, and research.
A selection of letters from Mrs. Piozzi to the same gentlemen, of an earlier date, appeared in “ Bentley's Miscellany," in 1849.
To the Rev. Daniel Lysons.
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,
H. L. Piozzi.
To the Rev. Daniel Lysons.
Denbigh, N. W., Wednesday,
7th January, 1795. Dear Mr. Lysons, - I write to you, knowing that you are stationary, and you will tell your brother that we are coming back to Streatham Park, where our first pleasure will be to see and converse with our long absent friends, among which I hope long to reckon you both. Many strange events, but I think no good ones, have taken place since we parted; yet, although many accidents have happened, I see not that the fog clears or dissipates, so as to give us any good view of the end yet. Those who live nearer the centre may perhaps obtain better intelligence, and see further than we do ; and more light may break in still before the fourth or fifth of February, when we shall request your company, or his, or both for a day's comfortable chat. What do the Opposition say concerning their projects for peace with a nation that continues, or rather renews, predatory hostilities, while the armistice (themselves were contented to grant) remains in full force ?
Has no caricatura print been made yet of a Frenchman shaking Nic Frog by the hand in a sinister manner, at the same time that the other arm is employed in cutting his throat ? They are terrible fellows, to be sure; and if they take Pampeluna, the King and Queen of Spain will have to run away from Madrid, as the Stadhtholder and his lady from Holland, I suppose ; so you will do well to finish your Environs of London * quickly while that lasts.
How do your amiable neighbors, the Miss Pettiwards ? You will have dear Siddons amongst you soon, I hear, for they have taken Mr. Cologon's pretty villa. Write once more, do, before we meet, and say you will come to Streatham Park soon, and make a world of chat with my master, and Cecy, and, dear Sir, yours ever, very sincerely,
H. L. Piozzi. Pick me up some literary intelligence if any can be found. I hear Miss Burney that was — Madame D'Arblaye — is writing for the stage.
* Mr. Lysons was engaged in a topographical work entitled “ The Environs of London."
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 himn 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,
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 inen as to another, if probable or not. But what I mean is this: when Lady Mac
beth tells them that the grooms of Duncan's chamber she will · with wine and wassel so convince, &c., they think it (as it cer
* The work on Lord Macartney's Embassy to China, price three guineas.