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will make a very different figure from most of your fraternity. Ever yours,
To Lady HESKETH.
The Lodge, April 19, 1790. MY DEAREST COZ.
I thank thee for my Cousin Johnson's Letter, which diverted me. I had one from him lately, in which he expressed an ardent desire of a line from you, and the delight he would feel in receiving it. I know not whether you will have the charity to satisfy his longings, but mention the matter, thinking it possible that you may. A letter from a lady to a youth immersed in mathematics must be singularly pleasant.
I am finishing Homer backward, having begun at the last book, and designing to persevere in that crab-like fashion, till I arrive at the first. This may remind you perhaps of a certain poet's prisoner in the Bastile (thank Heaven ! in the Bastile now no more) counting the nails in the door for variety's sake in all directions. I find so little to do in the last revisal, that I shall soon reach the Odyssey, and soon want those books of it which are in thy possession ; but the two first of the Iliad, which are also in thy possession, much sooner ; thou may’st therefore send them by the first fair opportunity. I am in high spirits on this subject, and think that I have at last licked the clumsy cub into a shape that will secure to it the favourable notice of the public. Let not retard me, and I shall hope to get it out next winter.
I am glad that thou hast sent the General those verses on my Mother's picture. They will amuse him—only I hope that he will not miss my Motherin-law, and think that she ought to have made a third. On such an occasion it was not possible to mention her with any propriety. I rejoice at the General's recovery; may it prove a perfect one.
To Lady HESKETH.
Weston, April 30, 1790.
- To my old friend, Dr. Madan, thou could’st not have spoken better than thou didst. Tell him, I beseech you, that I have not forgotten him ; tell him also, that to my heart and home he will be always welcome; nor he only, but all that are his. His judgment of my Translation gave me the highest satisfaction, because I know him to be a rare old Grecian.
The General's approbation of my picture verses gave me also much pleasure. I wrote them not without tears, therefore I presume it may be that they are felt by others. Should he offer me my Father's picture I shall gladly accept it. A melancholy pleasure is better than none, nay verily, better than most. He had a sad task imposed on him, but no man could acquit himself of such a one with more discretion, or with more tenderness. The death of the unfortunate young man reminded me of those lines in Lycidas,
It was that fatal and perfidious bark,
How beautiful !
To Mrs. THROCKMORTON.
The Lodge, May 10, 1790.
MY DEAR MRS. FROG, *
You have by this time (1 presume) heard from the Doctor, whom I desired to present to you our best affections, and to tell you that we are well. He sent an urchin (I do not mean a hedge-hog, commonly called an urchin in old times, but a boy, commonly so called at present) expecting that he would find you at Buckland's, whither he supposed you gone on Thursday. He sent him charged
* The sportive title generally bestowed by Cowper on his amiable friends the Throckmortons,
with divers articles, and among others with letters, or at least with a letter: which I mention, that if the boy should be lost, together with his dispatches, past all possibility of recovery, you may yet know that the Doctor stands acquitted of not writing. That he is utterly lost (that is to say, the boy-for, the Doctor being the last antecedent as the grammarians say, you might otherwise suppose that he was intended) is the more probable, because he was never four miles from his home before, having only travelled at the side of a plough-team; and when the Doctor gave him his direction to Buckland's, he asked, very naturally, if that place was in England. So what has become of him Heaven knows!
I do not know, that any adventures have presented themselves since your departure worth mentioning, except that the rabbit, that infested your wilderness, has been shot for devouring your carnations; and that I myself have been in some danger of being devoured in like manner by a great dog, viz. Pearson's. But I wrote him a letter on Friday (I mean a letter to Pearson, not to his dog, which I mention to prevent mistakes—for the said last antecedent might occasion them in this place also ) informing him, that