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LETTER LXXXH.. .! ». . .
To the Revd. JOHN NEWTON.
. • ... .< j! 1
July 12, 178T.
MY VERY DEAR FRIEND,
I am going to send, what when you have read, you may scratch your head, and say, I suppose, there's nobody knows, whether what I have got, be verse or not;—by the tune and the time, it ought to be rhyme, but if it be, did you ever see, of late or of yore, such a ditty before.?
I have writ Charity, not for popularity, but as well as I cou'd, in hopes to do good; and if the Reviewer, should say '* to be sure, the gentleman's muse, "wears Methodist shoes, you may know by her pace, "and talk about grace, that she and her bard, have "little regard, for the taste and fashions, and ruling "passions, and hoydening play, of the modern day; "and though she assume, a borrowed plume, and now "and then wear, a tittering air, tis only her plan* "to catch if she can, the giddy and gay, as they go "that way, by a production, on a new construction: "she has baited her trap, in hopes to snap, all that "may come, with a sugar-plum."——His opinion in this will not be amiss; 'tis what I intend, my principal end, and if I succeed, and folks should read, 'till a few are brought to a serious thought, 1 shall think I am paid, for all I have said, and all I have done, though I have run, many a time, after a rhyme, as far as from hence, to the end of my sense, and by hook or crook, write another book, if I live and am here, another year.
I have heard before, of a room with a floor, laid upon springs, and such like things, with so much *art, in every part, that when you went in, you was forced to begin a minuet pace, with an air and a grace, swimming about, now in, and now out, with a deal of state, in a figure of eight, without pipe or string, or any such thing; and now I have writ, in a rhyming fit, what will make you dance, and as you advance, will keep you still, though against your will, dancing away, alert and gay, 'till you come to an end of what 1 have penn'd, which that you may do, ere Madam and you, are quite worn out, with jigging about, I take my leave, and here you receive, a bow profound, down to the ground, from your humble me- ''. .
Vol. 1." S
To the Revd. WILLIAM UNWIN.
. . . Oct. 6, 1781. MY DEAR FRIEND,
... What a world are you daily conversant with, which I have not seen these twenty years, and shall never see again! The arts of dissipation (I suppose) are no where practised with more refinement, or success, than at the place of your present residence. By your account of it, it seems to be just what it was when I visited it, a scene of idleness and luxury, music, daneing cards, walking, riding bathing, eating, drinking, coffee, tea, scandal, dressing, yawning, sleeping, the rooms. perhaps nore magnificent, because the proprietors are grown richer, but the manners and occupations of the company just the same. Though my life has long been like that of a recluse, I have not the temper of one, nor am I in the least an enemy, to cheerfulness and good-humour; but I cannot envy you your situation; I even feel myself constrained to prefer the silence of this nook, and the snug fire-side in our ows diminutive parlour, to all the splendour and gaiety of Brighton.
You ask me, how I feel on the occasiớn of my approachig publication ? Perfectly at my ease. If I had not been pretty well assured before hand, that my tranquility would be but little endangered by such a measure, I would never have engaged in it; for I cannot bear disturbance. I have had in view two principal objects; first, to amuse myself and secondly, to compass that point in sạch a manner, that others might possibly be the better for my amusement. If I have succeeded, it will give me pleasure, but if I have failed, I shall not be mortified to the degree that might perhaps be expected. I remember an old adage (though not where it is to be found)
bene vixit, qui bene latuit,” and if I had recollected it at the right time, it should have been the motto to my book. By the way, it will make an excellent one for Retirement, if you can but tell me whom to quote for it. The critics cannot deprive me of the pleasure I have in reflecting, that so far as my leisure has been employed in writing for the public, it has been conscientiously employed, and with a view to their advantage. There is nothing agreeable, to be sure, in being chronicled for a dunce; but I believe, there Lives not a man upon earth, who would be less af
fected by it than myself. With all this indifference to fame, which you know me too well to suppose me capable of affecting, I have taken the utmost pains to deserve it. This may appear a mystery, or a paradox in practice, but it is true. I considered that the taste of the day is refined, and delicate to excess, and that to disgust that delicacy of taste, by a slovenly inattention to it, would be to forfeit, at once, all hope of being useful; and for this reason, though I have written more verse this last year, than perhaps any man in England, I have finished, and polished, and touched, and retouched, with the utmost care. If after all, I should be converted into waste paper, it may be my misfortune, but it will not be my fault. I shall bear it with the most perfect serenity.
I do not mean to give a copy; he is a
good-natured little man, and crows exactly like a cock, but knows no more of verse than the cock he imitates.
Whoever supposes that Lady Austen's fortune is precarious, is mistaken. I can assure you, upon the ground of the most circumstantial, and authentic information, that it is both genteel, and perfectly safe. . Yours,