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at all contented with. Says she, “O, he is quite the little poet.” Now this is abominable ; you might as well say Bonaparte is “quite the little soldier.” You see what it is to be under six feet, and not a Lord.
In my next packet I shall send you my “Pot of Basil," "St. Agnes' Eve," and, if I should have finished it, a little thing, called the “ Eve of St. Mark.” You see what fine Mother Radcliffe names I have. It is not my fault; I did not search for them. I have not gone on with “Hyperion,” for, to tell the truth, I have not been in great cue for writing lately. I must wait for the spring to rouse me a little.
Friday, 18th February.— The day before yesterday I went to Romney-street; your mother was not at home. We lead very quiet lives here; Dilke is, at present, at Greek history and antiquities; and talks of nothing but the Elections of Westminster and the Retreat of the Ten Thousand. I never drink above three glasses of wine, and never any spirits and water; though, by the by, the other day Woodhouse took me to his coffee-house, and ordered a bottle of claret. How I like claret! when I can get claret, I must drink it. 'Tis the only palate affair that I am at all sensual in. Would it not be a good spec. to send you some vineroots ? Could it be done ? I'll inquire. If you could make some wine like claret, to drink on summer evenings in an arbor! It fills one's mouth with a gushing freshness, then goes down cool and feverless : then, you do not feel it quarreling with one's liver. No; 'tis rather a peace-maker, and lies as quiet as it did in the grape. Then it is as fragrant as the Queen Bee, and the more ethereal part mounts into the brain, not assaulting the cerebral apartments, like a bully looking for his trull, and hurrying from door to door, bouncing against the wainscot, but rather walks like Aladdin about his enchanted palace, so gently that you do not feel his step. Other wines of a heavy and spirituous nature transform a man into a Silenus, this makes him a Hermes, and gives a woman the soul and immortality of an Ariadne, for whom Bacchus always kept a good cellar of claret, and even of that he never could persuade her to take above two cups. I said this same claret is the only palate-passion I have; I forgot game; I must plead guilty to the breast of a patridge, the back of a hare, the back-bone of a grouse, the wing and side of a pheasant, and a woodcock passim. Talking of game (I wish I could make it), the lady whom I met at Hastings, and of whom I wrote you, I think, has lately sent me many presents of game, and enabled me to make as many. She made me take home a pheasant the other day, which I gave to Mrs. Dilke. The next I intend for your mother. I have not said in any letter a word about my own affairs. In a word, I am in no despair about them. My poem has not at all succeeded. In the course of a year or so I think I shall try the public again. In a selfish point of view I should suffer my pride and my contempt of public opinion to hold me silent; but for yours and Fanny's sake, I will pluck up spirit and try it again. I have no doubt of success in a course of years, if I persevere; but I must be patient: for the reviewers have enervated men's minds, and made them indolent; few think for themselves. These reviews are getting more and more powerful, especially the “Quarterly.” They are like a superstition, which, the more it prostrates the crowd, and the longer it continues, the more it becomes powerful, just in proportion to their increasing weakness. I was in hopes that, as people saw, as they must do now, all the trickery and iniquity of these plagues, they would scout them ; but no; they are like the spectators at the Westminster cock-pit, they like the battle, and do not care who wins or who loses.
On Monday we had to dinner Severn and Cawthorn, the bookseller and print-virtuoso ; in the evening Severn went home to paint, and we other three went to the play, to see Sheil's new tragedy ycleped “Evadne.” In the morning Severn and I took a turn round the Museum; there is a sphinx there of a giant size, and most voluptuous Egyptian expression; I had not seen it before. The play was bad, even in comparison with 1818, the “ Augustan age of the drama.” The whole was made up of a virtuous young woman, an indignant brother, a suspecting lover, a libertine prince, a gratuitous villain, a street in Naples, a cypress grove, lilies and roses, virtue and vice, a bloody sword, a spangled jacket, one “ Lady Olivia,” one Miss O'Neil, alias “Evadne,” alias “ Bellamira.” The play is a fine amusement, as a friend of mine once said to me: “Do what you will,” says he, “ a poor gentleman who wants a guinea cannot spend his two shillings better than at the playhouse.” The pantomime was excellent; I had seen it before, and enjoyed it again.
Your mother and I had some talk about Miss — Says I, “ Will Henry have that Miss — , a lath with a boddice, she who has been fine-drawn,-fit for nothing but to cut up into cribbage-pins ; one who is all muslin ; all feathers and bone ? Once, in traveling, she was made use of as a linch-pin. I hope he will not have her, though it is no uncommon thing to be smitten with a staff ;—though she might be useful as his walking-stick, his fishing rod, his tooth-pick, his hat-stick (she runs so much in his head). Let him turn farmer, she would cut into hurdles; let him write poetry, she would be his turn-style. Her gown is like a flag on a pole : she would do for him if he turn freemason; I hope she will prove a flag of truce. When she sits languishing, with her one foot on a stool, and one elbow one the table, and her head inclined, she looks like the sign of the Crooked Billet, or the frontispiece to “Cinderella,' or a tea-paper wood. cut of Mother Shipton at her studies.”
The nothing of the day is a machine called the “ Veloci. pede.” It is a wheel-carriage to ride cock-horse upon, sitting astride and pushing it along with the toes, a rudder-wheel in hand. They will go seven miles an hour. A handsome gelding will come to eight guineas; however, they will soon be cheaper, unless the army takes to them.
I look back upon the last month, and find nothing to write about ; indeed, I do not recollect one thing particular in it. It's all alike; we keep on breathing; the only amusement is a little scandal, of however fine a shape, a laugh at a pun,—and then, after all, we wonder how we could enjoy the scandal, or laugh at the pun.
I have been, at different times, turning it in my head, whether I should go to Edinburgh, and study for a physician. I am afraid I should not take kindly to it ; I am sure I could not take fees : and yet I should like to do so; it is not worse than writing poems, and hanging them up to be fly-blown on the Review shambles. Every body is in his own mess : here is the Parson
t Hampstead quarreling with all the world ; he is in the wrong y this same token ; when the black cloth was put up in the church, or the Queen's mourning, he asked the workmen to hang it wrong side outwards, that it might be better when taken down, it being his perquisite.
Friday, 19th March.—This morning I have been reading “The False One.” Shameful to say, I was in bed at ten-I mean, this morning. The “ Blackwood's Reviewers” have committed themselves to a scandalous heresy; they have been putting up Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, against Burns: the senseless villains! The Scotch cannot manage themselves at all, they want imagination; and that is why they are so fond of Hogg, who has so little of it. This morning I am in a sort of temper, indolent and supremely careless; I long after a stanza or two of Thomson's “ Castle of Indolence;” my passions are all asleep, from my having slumbered till nearly eleven, and weak. ened the animal fibre all over me, to a delightful sensation, about three degrees on this side of faintness. If I had teeth of pearl, and the breath of lilies, I should call it languor ; but, as I am, I must call it laziness. In this state of effeminacy, the fibres of the brain are relaxed, in common with the rest of the body, and to such a happy degree, that pleasure has no show of enticement, and pain no unbearable frown; neither Poetry, nor Ambition, nor Love, have any alertness of countenance; as they pass by me, they seem rather like three figures on a Greek vase, two men and a woman, whom no one but myself could distinguish in their disguisement. This is the only happiness, and is a rare instance of advantage in the body overpowering the mind.
I have this moment received a note from Haslam, in which he writes that he expects the death of his father, who has been for some time in a state of insensibility ; I shall go to town to-morrow to see him. This is the world ; thus we cannot expect to give away many hours to pleasure ; circumstances are like clouds, continually gathering and bursting; while we are laughing, the seed of trouble is put into the wide arable land of events; while we are laughing, it sprouts, it grows, and suddenly bears a poi. sonous fruit, which we must pluck. Even so we have leisure to reason on the misfortunes of our friends: our own touch us too
nearly for words. Very few men have ever arrived at a complete disinterestedness of mind ; very few have been interested by a pure desire of the benefit of others : in the greater part of the benefactors of humanity, some meretricious motive has sullied their greatness, some melo-dramatic scenery has fascinated them. From the manner in which I feel Haslam's misfortune I perceive how far I am from any humble standard of disinterestedness; yet this feeling ought to be carried to its highest pitch, as there is no fear of its ever injuring society. In wild nature, the Hawk would lose his breakfast of robins, and the Robin his worms; the Lion must starve as well as the Swallow. The great part of men sway. their way with the same instinctiveness, the same unwandering eye from their purposes, the same animal eagerness, as the Hawk: the Hawk wants a mate, so does the Man; look at them both; they set about it, and procure one in the same manner; they want both a nest, and they both set about one in the same manner. The noble animal, Man, for his amusement, smokes his pipe, the Hawk balances about the clouds: that is the only difference of their leisures. This is that which makes the amusement of life to a speculative mind; I go among the fields, and catch a glimpse of a stoat or a field-mouse, peeping out of the withered grass; the creature hath a purpose, and its eyes are bright with it; I go amongst the buildings of a city, and I see a man hurrying alongto what ?—the creature hath a purpose, and its eyes are bright with it :--but then, as Wordsworth says, “ We have all one human heart !” There is an electric fire in human nature, tending to purify ; so that, among these human creatures, there is continually some birth of new heroism ; the pity is, that we must wonder at it, as we should at finding a pearl in rubbish. I have no doubt that thousands of people, never heard of, have had hearts completely disinterested. I can remember but two, Socrates and Jesus. Their histories evince it. What I heard Taylor observe with respect to Socrates is true of Jesus : that, though he transmitted no writing of his own to posterity, we have his mind, and his sayings, and his greatness, handed down to us by others. Even here, though I am pursuing the same instinctive course as the veriest animal you can think of—I am, however, young and writing at random, straining after particles of light in the midst of a