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dare say, with a strong resemblance. As to you, I have never seen so much of you since I saw you in London, where you and I have so often made ourselves merry with each other's humour, yet never gave each other a moment's pain by doing so. We are both humourists, and it is well for your wife, and my Mrs. Unwin, that they have alike found out the way to deal with
More thanks, to Mrs. Hill for her intentions. She has the true enthusiasm of a gardener, and I can pity her under her disappointment, having so large a share of that commodity myself. Yours, my dear sir, affectionately,
WILLIAM COWPER, ESQ. TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
Jan. 31, 1782. HAVING thanked you for a barrel of very fine oysters, I should have nothing more to say, if I did not determine to say every thing that may happen to occur. The political world affords us no very agreeable subject at present, nor am I sufficiently conversant with it, to do justice to so magnificent a theme, if it did. A man that lives as I do, whose chief occupation, at this season of the year, is to walk ten times in a day from the fireside to his cucumber-frame and back again, cannot show his wisdom more, if he has any wis. dom to show, than by leaving the mysteries of government to the management of persons, in
point of situation and information, much better qualified for the business. Suppose not, however, that I am perfectly an unconcerned spectator, or that I take no interest at all in the affairs of my country; far from it-I read the news—I see that things go wrong in every quarter. I meet, now and then, with an account of some disaster that seems to be the indisputable progeny of treachery, cowardice, or a spirit of faction; I recollect that in those happier days, when you and I could spend our evening in enumerating victories and acquisitions, that seemed to follow each other in a continued series, there was some pleasure in being a politician ; and a man might talk away upon so entertaining a subject, without danger of becoming tiresome to others, or incurring weariness himself. When poor Bob White brought me the news of Boscawen's success off the coast of Portugal, how did I leap for joy! When Hawke demolished Conflans, I was still more transported. But nothing could express my rapture, when Wolfe made the conquest of Quebec. I am not, therefore, I suppose, destitute of true patriotism, but the course of public events has, of late, afforded me no opportunity to exert it. I cannot rejoice, because I see no reason; and I will not murmur, because for that I can find no good one. And let me add, he that has seen both sides of fifty, has lived to little purpose, if he has not other views of the world than he had when he was much younger. He finds, if he reflects at all, that it will be to the end, what it has been from the beginning-a
shifting, uncertain, fluctuating scene; that nations, as well as individuals, have their seasons of infancy, youth, and age. If he be an Englishman, he will observe that ours, in particular, is affected with every symptom of decay, and is already sunk into a state of decrepitude. I am reading Mrs. M'Aulay's History. I am not quite such a superannuated simpleton, as to suppose that mankind were wiser or much better, when I was young, than they are now.
But I may venture to assert, without exposing myself to the charge of dotage, that the men whose integrity, courage, and wisdom broke the bands of tyranny, established our constitution upon its own true basis, and gave a people, overwhelmed with the scorn of all countries, an opportunity to emerge into a state of the highest respect and estimation, make a better figure in history than any of the present day are likely to do, when their pretty harangues are forgotten, and nothing shall survive but the remembrance of the views and motives with which they made them.
My dear friend, I have written at random, in every sense, neither knowing what sentiments I should broach, when I began, nor whether they would accord with yours.
Excuse a rustic, if he errs on such a subject, and believe me sincerely yours,
WILLIAM COWPER, ESQ. TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
Dec. 7, 1782. At seven o'clock this evening, being the seventh of December, I imagine I see you in your box at the coffeehouse. No doubt the waiter, as ingenious and adroit as his predecessors were before him, raises the teapot to the ceiling with his right hand, while in his left the teacup, descending almost to the floor, receives a limpid stream; limpid in its descent, but no sooner has it reached its destination, then frothing and foaming to the view, it becomes a roaring syllabub. This is the nineteenth winter since I saw you in this situation; and if nineteen more pass over me before I die, I shall still remember a circumstance we have often laughed at.
How different is the complexion of your evenings and mine! yours, spent amid the ceaseless hum that proceeds from the inside of fifty noisy and busy periwigs; mine, by a domestic fireside, in a retreat as silent as retirement can make it,where no noise is made but what we make for our own amusement. For instance, here are two rustics, and your humble servant in company.One of the ladies has been playing on the harpsichord, while I, with the other, have been playing at battledore and shuttlecock. A little dog, in the meantime, howling under the chair of the former, performed in the vocal way, to admiration. This entertainment over, I began my letter, and having nothing more important to communi
cate, have given you an account of it. I know you love dearly to be idle, when you can find an opportunity to be so; but as such opportunities are rare with you, I thought it possible that a short description of the idleness I enjoy might give you pleasure. The happiness we cannot call our own, we yet seem to possess, while we sympathise with our friends who can.
The papers tell me that peace is at hand, and that it is at a great distance ; that the siege of Gibraltar is abandoned, and that it is still to be continued. It is happy for me, that though I love my country, I have but little curiosity.There was a time when these contradictions would have distressed me; but I have learnt by experi. ence, that it is best for little people like myself to be patient, and to wait till time affords the intelligence which no speculations of theirs can ever furnish.
I thank you for a fine cod with oysters, and hope that, ere long, I shall have to thank you for Elliott's medicines. Every time I feel the least uneasiness in either eye, I tremble lest, my Esculapius being departed, my infallible remedy should be lost for ever. Adieu. My respects to Mrs. Hill.