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Johnson's daughter-in-law, dear Lucy Porter, was buried this evening. The little asperities of her petulant humour had all softened down in her long illness, sustained with true Christian patience. Thus we saw her passing slowly away from us, and saw it with considerable regret; but she had no regret; none of those yearnings after protracted existence; none of those terrors at approaching dissolution, which hung about the sternly-fading form of her mighty father-in-law.
I cannot quit this funeral theme, without observing to you, how I was shocked to read of poor Beardmere's death; so full of health, bloom, and prosperity, as I lately saw him, and in the strength and vigour of his life ; but nature deals much in this “ cunning flattery.”
Your old acquaintance, Kitty ried a Warwickshire squire, lives very near Mr Dewes, and squiresses it with much loquacious importance; but away with every thing like sarcastic comment upon a prudent wife, a kind mother, and a cheerful desirable neighbour. Ah! how much a more useful creature than such a celibaic cypher as myself! You coin a word now and then, so pray welcome my stranger-epithet. Her sons are fine youths ; and her eldest daughter is “ the fairest flower of the vicinage.”
Surely you are too hard upon the military profession, by denying all compatibility between the life of a soldier and the faith of a Christian. Texts may be found in Scripture, which authorise their union; and as the general voice of mankind so loudly applauds the darings of human butchery, a good man may certainly, without being a deist, persuade himself, that he is doing his duty, when he defends his king and country, at the hazard of his own life, and at that of shedding the life-blood of their foes. How finely has the old Colossus, whose writings I love even more than I dislike his disposition,-how finely has he described the force of military allurements !
“ The festal blazes, the triumphal shew,
You and I, however, shall close our dispute in perfect unison, equally deprecating the horrors of
war; detesting it on all less than necessary occasions, and lamenting the delusive fires of false glory, that gild the fatal conflicts of restless ambition.
Mrs Granville shewed me Jenny Harry's apologetic tract on quitting our church in favour of quakerism, at so vast a sacrifice of worldly interest. We all agreed, for it was read aloud in the Wellsburn circle, that this tract evinced depth of thought, and powers of reasoning, that, in a girl of twenty, were very extraordinary. It occasioned us to comment, with fresh indignation, upon the ruffian-asperity of Dr Johnson on this subject; for I had previously recounted to them the conversation of that tremendous evening, as Mr Boswell calls it, at Dilly's, when you, with patient and placid smiles, calmly and concisely refuted the roarings of bigot rage, which induced his shuddering friend's emphatic whisper—“ I never saw this mighty lion so chafed before.”
Thank you for your charming portraits of Mrs Lort and Mrs Hunter ; one the child of wit, the other of imagination. Yours is the simile of similies, for those coldly-prudent hearts so differently constructed from that of the fair enthusiast Mrs H.! “Pagods that sit squat, demure, and alone, in separate niches.” I am honoured by the
predilection of those charming women in my fa
As to a miscellany of mine, there is certainly sufficient materials in my desk to fill several volumes, without marginal lakes spread out between the passages; but they must be arranged, corrected, and transcribed, ere they can approach the press; and I almost despair of ever finding leisure for the task. How dear Mr Hayley, with those burning eyes of his, which, “though clear, to outward sight, of blemish or of spot,” annoy him so much by the sense of internal inflammation, how he gets through those numerous beautiful productions which he presents to the public, I cannot imagine ; but, indeed, he lives in hermitic retirement, and I in the mill-horse round of a provincial city's diurnal society.
I meant to have spoken to you farther of the spirited graces of Cowper's Task ; but in a letter, already voluminous, I must not give my ideas their full license on the subject. The sublime, though gloomy, fires of Young, with the corrosive ones of Churchill, stream blended through its later pages. The author seems almost as religious as the former, and quite as ill-natured as the latter. Shield me from saints who look upon the world as a den of fools and knaves! I repine when such possess a muse of fire, with whom dwell the creative powers of imagery, the soft bright hues of description, and the melting influence of pathos. The beautiful apostrophe to Omaia, together with many other parts of this poem, breathes of all these inspirations.
What an interesting object is your Mary Lloyd in her rural habiliments, with all her serene emanations streaming around her!
And O! what a truly comic scene is formed by your description of Mrs
in her fina coach, and yourself standing upon your own steps, and hammering out excuses for not having returned her visits! That ever wit and humour should have enabled you to present yourself so exactly to my ideas in the form of a turkey-poot, casting about, with a pitiful poked-out neck, for its lost companion. How was I diverted by the fine lady's fine lamentation, in her fine coach, for the loss of your society, which is to her just such a loss as our late friend, the blind philosopher, would sustain on the removal of a Claud-landscape from his apartment! When I came to the Turkey-poot passage, I exclaimed, with Lady Grace, “O! I see them, I see them !” You always stoop, and poke out your pretty long neck, when you are non-plussed.