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eft. I am (as you will fee from the whole air of this letter) not in the gayest nor eafieft humour, but always with fincerity,
drink Tea upon a
June 27, 1723 OU may truly do me the justice to think no
man is more your fincere well-wisher than myself, or more the fincere well-wisher of your whole family ; with all which, I cannot deny but I have a mixture of envy to you all, for loving one another so well ; and for enjoying the sweets of that life, which can only be tasted by people of good-will. They from all fades the darkness can exclude, And from a desart banisi solitude. Torbay is a paradise, and a storm is but an amusement to such people. If you promontory that over-hangs the sea, it is preferable to an Assembly: and the whistling of the wind better music to contented and loving minds, than the Opera to the spleenful, ambitious, diseas'd, diftafted, and distracted souls which this world affords; nay, this world affords no other. Happy they, who are banish'd from us! but happier they, who can banish themselves; or more properly banish the world from them!
Alas ! I live at Twickenham ! I take that period to be very sublime, and to include more than a hundred sentences that might be writ to express distraction, hurry, multiplication of nothings, and all the fatiguing perpetual business of having no business to do. You'll wonder I reckon
translating the Odyssey as nothing. But whenever I think seriously and of late I have met with so many occafions of thinking seriously, that I begin never to think otherwise) I cannot but think these things very idle ; as idle as if a beast of burden should go on gingling his bells, without bearing any thing valuable about him, or ever serving his master. Life's vain Amusements, amidst which we dwell; Not weigh’d, or undersiood, by the grim God of Hell ! faid a heathen poet; as he is translated by a chriftian Bishop, who has, first by his exhortations, and since by his example, taught me to think as becomes a reasonable creature -- but he is gone!
I remember I promis'd to write to you, as soon as I should hear you were got home.
You must look on this as the first day I've been myself, and pass over the mad interval un-imputed to me. How punctual a correspondent I shall hence-forward be able or not able to be, God knows: but he knows, I shall ever be a punctual and grateful friend, and all the good wishes of such an one will ever attend you.
L E T TER XIV.
Twick’nam, June 2, 1725. OU fhew yourself a juft man and a friend in
those guesses and suppositions you make at the poflible reasons of my filence; every one of which is a true one. As to forgetfulness of you or yours, I assure you, the promiscuous conversations of the town serve only to put me in mind of better, and more quiet, to be had in a corner of the world (undifturb’d, innocent, ferene, and sensible
with such as you. Let no access of any distrust. make you think of me differently in a cloudy day from what you do in the most sunshiny weather. Let the young ladies be affured I make nothing new in my gardens, without wishing to see the print of their fairy steps in every part of them. I have put the last hand to my works of this kind, in happily finishing the subterraneous way and grotto : I there found a spring of the clearest water, which falls in a perpetual rill, that echoes thro' the cavern day and night. From the river Thames, you see thro' my arch up a walk of the wilderness, to a kind of open Temple, wholly compos'd of shells in the rustic manner; and from that distance under the temple you look down thro' a floping arcade of trees, and see the fails on the river passing suddenly and vanishing, as thro' a perspective glass. When you shut the doors of this grotto, it becomes on the instant, from a luminous room, a Camera obscura ; on the walls of which all the objects of the river, hills, woods, and boats, are forming a moving picture in their visible radiations: and when you have a mind to light it up, it affords you a very different scene; it is finished with shells interspersed with pieces of looking-glass in angular forms; and in the cieling is a star of the same material, at which when a lamp (of an orbicular figure of thin alabaster) is hung in the middle, a thousand pointed rays glitter, and are reflected over the place. There are connected to this grotto by a narrower passage two porches, one towards the river of smooth stones full of light, and open; the other toward the Garden shadow'd with trees, rough with shells, fints, and iron-ore. The bottom is paved with simple pebble, as is also the adjoining walk up the wilderness to the temple, in the natural taste, agreeing not ill with the little dripping murmur, and the aquatic idea of the
whole place. It wants nothing to compleat it but a good statue with an inscription, like that beautiful antique one which you know I am so fond of, Hujus Nympha loci, sacri custodia fontis,
Dormio, dum blanda fentio murmur aqua.
Rumpere ; si bibas, five lavere, tace.
You'll think I have been very poetical in this description, but it is pretty near the truth *. I wish you were here to bear testimony how little it owes to Art, either the place itself, or the image I
I am, &c.
L ET TER XV.
Sept. 13, 1725 Should be asham'd to own the receipt of a very
kind letter from you, two whole months from the date of this; if I were not more ashamed to tell a lye, or to make an excuse, which is worse than a lye (for being built upon some probable circumstance, it makes use of a degree of truth to
* He had greatly inlarged and improved this Grotto not long before his death : and, by incrusting it about with a vaft number of ores and minerals of the richett and rareft kinds, had made it one of the most elegant and romantic retirements that was any where to be seen. He has made it the subject of a very pretty poem of a fingular cast and composition. 5
falsify with, and is a lye guarded.) Your letter has been in my pocket in constant wearing, till that, and the pocket, and the suit, are worn out; by which means I have read it forty times, and I find by so doing that I have not enough considered and reflected upon many others you have obliged me with; for true friendship, as they say of good writing, will bear reviewing a thousand times, and ftill discover new beauties.
I have had a fever, a short one, but a violent: I am now well; so it shall take up no more of this paper.
I begin now to expect you in town to make the winter to come more tolerable to us both. The summer is a kind of heaven, when we wander in a paradisaical scene among groves and gardens; but at this season, we are, like our poor
parents, turn’d out of that agreeable though solitary life, and forced to look about for more people to help to bear our labours, to get into warmer houses, and live together in cities.
I hope you are long since perfectly restor’d, and risen from your gout, happy in the delights of a contented family, smiling at storms, laughing at greatness, merry over a christmas-fire, and exercifing all the functions of an old Patriarch in charity and hospitality. I will not tell Mrs. B* what Í think she is doing ; for I conclude it is her opinion, that he only ought to know it for whom it is done ; and she will allow herself to be far enough advanced above a fine lady, not to desire to shine before men.
Your daughters perhaps may have some other thoughts, which even their mother must excuse them for, because she is a mother. I will not however suppose those thoughts get the better of their devotions, but rather excite them and assist the warmth of them; while their prayer may be, that