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Mrs. Secker is most astonishingly cured. I rejoice in it; the bishop was compelled to exchange Bristol for Oxford by his friends, to serve the brother of his friend the bishop of Salisbury. It is of no great advantage, and therefore not eligible. But it is always eligible to oblige those who can return the favour. I hope you enjoy the spring in the country, as much as we do in London, where it seems to give new life to every thing, in spite of the dust that chokes its favours to us. I will get out of it as soon as I can, and come to partake of its freshness with you on your mountain.
My friend Jack seems inclined to lay out liis fortune near you also, and fix the whole family in Gloucestershire. I saw your good bishop* yesterday, who is well, and speaks of you with an esteem and affection which will doubly endear him to, madam, your, &c.
DR. THOMAS RUNDLE TO JOSEPH TAYLOR, ESQ.
Dublin, Jan. 3, 1738-9. It is an age, my dear Taylor, since I heard from you : I hope nothing worse than perverse business hath obtruded itself so entirely on your mind, as to drive me from it. If you are happy, I shall be very easy, whatever is the motive; because I am sure nothing can have made your old friend less dear to you than formerly. Though this winter
• Dr. Martin Benson.
has. its influence on my crazy constitution, yet the noble cordial ipecacuanha, frequently taken, undoes all the mischiefs of the weather, and makes me enjoy ease and cheerfulness, in spite of the season, We have here certainly the most fișe winters and dreary summers, that can be imagined. Scarcely a day passeth but the greatest part of it is mild and bright, as April; and if a few happy showers refresh the ground, a gentle wind fans it away presently, and all is serene and delightful, during the dark days of other climates. But the summer shall not make my paper dismal, and therefore I will not describe it.
My house will be quite finished in about six weeks. It hath cost me a shameful deal of money; but I am not afraid that my wife and children, that I am to get in my dotage, should upbraid me. The whole is handsome, but nothing magnificent, but the garret in which I have lodged my books ; and if I have been extravagant in doing them honour, I hope it will be pardoned; because I owe it in some measure to them, that I was enabled to be at the expense; and gratitude, I hope, can excuse the fault it occasious. Some think it too splendid for me in my station, and will contend it would have been wiser and more decent to have locked my money in a chest, or sent to France for social claret, than to squander it among Irish workmen, to enable them to procure beef and potatoes for their hungry families; and build an habitation too elegant for an Irish prelate. Laudatur ab his, culpatur ab illis, is the condition of every action that is done by those who are placed in a way of life that is exposed either to
flattery or envy, and I am resigned under the common misfortune. Candour surely is all that can be expected, or should be desired, in life. I have the consolation to hear that every one applauds my taste and my contrivance. I served my old house as Medusa did the old man, cut it in pieces, cooked it up with my art, and made it young again. In my library, (for they have dig. nified it with that considerable name), I can say, Hic ver perpetuum ac alienis mensibus æstas. It is sixty-four feet long; at the east is a bow window that takes in a most variegated and extended prospect. In a bright evening the inountains in Wales are seen by an unassisted eye; on the north the highest hills in Ireland, more than a degree distant from us, are beheld distinctly. The ocean with its islands, a large river, an harbour rich with ships, a city, an university, some villages, woods and meadows, and nearer hills of less and more cultivated height, are mingled together in the most amusing contrast.-Three windows on the south overlook a range of nursery gardens, and meadows ever verdant, interspersed with houses, neat, white, and cheerful, where industry and contentment seem married, and become the parents of many children. Round the place, a half circle of lofty hills, fashioned in the most delightful shapes, like Virgil's Fame, tread on the earth, and lift their heads above the clouds. Could I have the joy to see you in Dublin, you should own this description not so delightful as the reality. The room is twenty feet wide, and only sixteen high. It is carved almost a third. An entablature of the Ionic order hoyers round the whole room, unbro. ken. The frize is enriched with the Vitraviari scroll, adorned with its proper foliages. The ceiling is divided into three compartments: the division made agreeable by the plain Vitruvian fret, and other work on the ceiling, rather elegant than heavy and expensive. The entablature is supported with two-and-thirty three quarters columns of the Ionic order, which stand on a pedestal that goes round the room, exactly of the height of the window from the floor. In this pedestal are my largest books, between the pillars; my lesser books are ranged uniformly round the room. In the west side is the chimney, formed in the best taste, of an Irish marble of an excellent polish; over which I will place a bust of the chancellor, and on one side the bishop of Durham; and if I can get a noble copy of Mr. Edward Talbot, by Vanderback, he shall adorn the other; and then the three persons dearest to my heart, to whom I have had the highest (I had almost said the only) obligations in life, will appear there to consecrate my expense, and do them honour. In the east end is my bow window, exactly half a circle, whose diameter is ten feet. The glass is bent to answer the curvature of the building.
I have explained to you the room at large, that you may call me an extravagant fellow, or justify me to those who call me so. If I live and do well, I shall spend my days here in an elegant and cheerful retirement, in old age and the vale of life: if I do not, those who come after me need not grudge what I have bestowed ; because it will sell to some one who likes its beanty, perhaps for as much as it cost, at least for as much as any, who complain of it, could deserve. If I could see my old English friend in it, it would give me infinitely more joy than all the dead fine landscapes I behold. My chief pleasure here is in conversation with chosen friends, who bring learning into chit-chat, and are not ashamed of being cheerful, while they are talking on the most sublime subjects. We endeavour to make the Muses, and all their polite arts, serve as bandmaids to adorn real wisdom; and introduce into our hearts every truth, that can make us love the Creator, or make us worthy his love; that can make us enjoy life ourselves, or contribute to make others do so, with thankfulness as well as contentment and resignation. Gentlemen and ladies, old and young, rich and poor, soldiers and bishops, meet together often in my library, and find something in the conversation pleasing, and not unuseful to any of them. They all contribute their share of the entertainment, and are most exquisitely pleased when they please.
You see, my friend, my banishment is not grievous, though it was severe. When they removed me from business and an active life, among my friends in my own country, they gave me otium cum dignitate instead of it. Perhaps the sweetest condition of man is to know what was best for him.
I have filled this letter in talking on the worst subject in the world, myself and my own concerns ; but it is a fault that a friend will pardon, though it would be nauseous to others; and the more pardonable, because in this corner of the world no news or adventures can happen fit to fill a letter.