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temper, I cannot help being very much pleased with the present public proceedings. I hope sincerely I shall be able to put a mite of help to the liberal side of the question before I die. If you should have left town again (for your holidays cannot be up yet), let me know when this is forwarded to you. A most extraordi. nary mischance has befallen two letters I wrote Brown-one from London, whither I was obliged to go on business for George ; the other from this place since my return. I can't make it out. I am excessively sorry for it. I shall hear from Brown and from you almost together, for I have sent him a letter to-day.
Ever your sincere friend,
WINCHESTER, Sept. 5, 1819. MY DEAR TAYLOR,
This morning I received yours of the 2nd, and with it a letter from Hessey, inclosing a bank post bill of £30, an ample sum I assure you—more I had not thought of. You should not have delayed so long in Fleet Street ; leading an inactive life as you did was breathing poison : you will find the country air do more for you than you expect. But it must be proper country air. You must choose a spot. What sort of a place is Retford ? You should have a dry, gravelly, barren, elevated country, open to the currents of air, and such a place is generally furnished with the finest springs. The neighborhood of a rich, inclosed, fulsome, manured, arable land, especially in a valley, and almost as bad on a flat, would be almost as bad as the smoke of Fleet Street. Such a place as this was Shanklin, only open to the south-east, and surrounded by hills in every other direction. From this south-east came the damps from the sea, which, having no egress, the air would for days together take on an unhealthy idiosyncrasy altogether enervating and weakening as a city smoke. I felt it very much. Since I have been here in Winchester I have been improving in health : it is not so confined, and there is, on one side of the city, a dry chalky down, where the air is worth sixpence a pint. So if you do not get better at Retford, do not im. pute it to your own weakness until you have well considered the ature of the air and soil—especially as Autumn is encroaching
-for the Autumn fog over a rich land is like the steam from cabage water. What makes the great difference between valesmen, atlandmen, and mountaineers? The cultivation of the earth in
great measure. Our health, temperament, and disposition, are aken more (notwithstanding the contradiction of the history of 'ain and Abel) from the air we breathe, than is generally imagned. See the difference between a peasant and a butcher. I im convinced a great cause of it is the difference of the air they breathe : the one takes his mingled with the fume of slaughter, the other from the dank exhalement from the glebe; the teeming damp that comes up from the plough-furrow is of more effect in taming the fierceness of a strong man than his labor. Let him be mowing furze upon a mountain, and at the day's end his thoughts will run upon a pick-axe if he ever had handled one ;let him leave the plough, and he will think quietly of his supper. Agriculture is the tamer of men—the steam from the earth is like drinking their mother's milk-it enervates their nature. This
appears a great cause of the imbecility of the Chinese : and if ! this sort of atmosphere is a mitigation to the energies of a strong
man, how much more must it injure a weak one, unoccupied, unexercised ? For what is the cause of so many men maintaining a good state in cities, but occupation ? An idle man, a man who is not sensitively alive to self-interest, in a city, cannot continue long in good health. This is easily explained. If you were to walk leisurely through an unwholesome path in the fens, with a little horror of them, you would be sure to have your ague. But let Macbeth cross the same path, with the dagger in the air leading him on, and he would never have an ague or any thing like it. You should give these things a serious consideration. Notts, I believe, is a flat country. You should be on the slope of one of the dry barren hills in Somersetshire. I am convinced there is as harmful air to be breathed in the country as in town.
I am greatly obliged to you for your letter. Perhaps, if you had had strength and spirits enough, you would have felt offended by my offering a note of hand, or, rather, expressed it. However, I am sure you will give me credit for not in anywise mistrusting you ; or imagining that you would take advantage of any power I might give you over me. No, it proceeded from my serious resolve not to be a gratuitous borrower, from a great desire to be correct in money matters, to have in my desk the chronicles of them to refer to, and know my worldly non-estate : besides, in case of my death, such documents would be but just, if merely as memorials of the friendly turns I had done to me.
Had I known of your illness I should not have written in such fiery phrase in my first letter. I hope that shortly you will be able to bear six times as much.
Brown likes the tragedy very much, but he is not a fit judge of it, as I have only acted as midwife to his plot, and of course he will be fond of his child. I do not think I can make you any ex. tracts without spoiling the effect of the whole when you come to read it. I hope you will then not think my labor misspent. Since I finished it I have finished “ Lamia," and am now occupied in revising “ St. Agnes' Eve," and studying Italian. Ariosto I find as diffuse, in parts, as Spenser. I understand completely the difference between them. I will cross the letter with some lines from * Lamia."
Brown's kindest remembrances to you, and I am ever your most sincere friend,
I shall be alone here for three weeks, expecting account of your health,
WINCHESTER, 22d Sept., 1819. MY DEAR REYNOLDS,
I was very glad to hear from Woodhouse that you would meet in the country. I hope you will pass some pleasant time together; which I wish to make pleasanter by a brace of letters, very highly to be estimated, as really I have had very bad luck with this sort of game this season. I“ kepen in solitarinesse,” for Brown has gone a-visiting. I am surprised myself at the pleasure I live alone in. I can give you no news of the place here, or any other idea of it, but what I have to this effect writen to George. Yesterday, I say to him, was a grand day for Winchester. They elected a mayor. It was indeed high time the place
should receive some sort of excitement. There was nothing going on-all asleep-not an old maid's sedan returning from a cardparty; and if any old women got tipsy at christenings they did not expose it in the streets.
The side streets here are excessively maiden-lady like; the door-steps always fresh from the flannel. The knockers have a staid, serious, nay, almost awful quietness about them. I never saw so quiet a collection of lions' and rams' heads. The doors [are] most part black, with a little brass handle just above the keyhole, so that in Winchester a man may very quietly shut him. self out of his own house.
How beautiful the season is now. How fine the air—a temperate sharpness about it. Really, without joking, chaste weather --Dian skies. I never liked stubble-fields so much as now—aye, better than the chilly green of the Spring. Somehow, a stubblefield looks warm, in the same way that some pictures look warm. This struck me so much in my Sunday's walk that I composed upon it,*
“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,” &c.
I hope you are better employed than in gaping after weather. I have been, at different times, so happy as not to know what weather it was. No, I will not copy a parcel of verses. I always somehow associate Chatterton with Autumn. He is the purest writer in the English language. He has no French idiom or particles, like Chaucer; 'tis genuine English idiom in English words. I have given up “Hyperion,”—there were too many Miltonic inversions in it-Miltonic verse cannot be written but in an artful, or, rather, artist's humor. I wish to give myself up to other sensations. English ought to be kept up. It may be interesting to you to pick out some lines from “Hyperion,” and put a mark, t, to the false beauty, proceeding from art, and 1, 2, to the true voice of feeling. Upon my soul, 'twas imagination; I cannot make the distinction-every now and then there is a Miltonic intonation-but I cannot make the division properly. The fact is, 1 must take a walk; for I am writing a long letter to George, and have been employed at it all the morning. You will ask, have I heard from George ? I am sorry to say, not the best news-1 hope for better. This is the reason, among others, that if I write to you it must be in such a scrap-like way. I have no meridian to date interests from, or measure circumstances. To-night I am all in a mist: I scarcely know what's what. But you, knowing my unsteady and vagarish disposition, will guess that all this turmoil will be settled by to-morrow morning. It strikes me to-night that I have led a very odd sort of life for the two or three last years—here and there, no anchor-I am glad of it. If you can get a peep at Babbicomb before you leave the country, do. I think it the finest place I have seen, or is to be seen in the south. There is a cottage there I took warm water at, that made up for the tea. I have lately shirk'd some friends of ours, and I advise you to do the same. I mean the blue-devils—I am never at home to them. You need not fear them while you remain in Devonshire. There will be some of the family waiting for you at the coach-office-but go by another coach.
* See the fine lines, " To Autumn,” in the collected works.
I shall beg leave to have a third opinion in the first discussion you have with Woodhouse-just half-way between both. You know I will not give up any argument. In my walk to-day, I stoop'd under a railing that lay across my path, and asked myself " why I did not get over ;” “Because," answered I, “no one wanted to force you under.” I would give a guinea to be a reasonable man-good, sound sense—a says-what-he-thinks-and-doeswhat-he-says-man-and did not take snuff. They say men near death, however mad they may have been, come to their senses: I hope I shall here in this letter; there is a decent space to be very sensible in-many a good proverb has been in less—nay, I have heard of the statutes at large being changed into the statutes at small, and printed for a watch-paper,
Your sisters, by this time, must have got the Devonshire “ees”. -short ees—you know 'em ; they are the prettiest ees in the language. O, how I admire the middle-sized delicate Devonshire girls of about fifteen. There was one at an inn door holding a quartern of brandy; the very thought of her kept me warm a