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Lichfield, Aug. 27, 1785. Be assured, dear Madam, it was with no cold ear that I listened to Dr B when he talked to me of the obligations which Lord Hacknowledged to the valour and conduct of your gallant brother-in-law. Yet, had my spirit still more fervently hailed a theme so welcome, but for the consciousness, which your late letters have inspired, that this distinguished supporter of our naval glory was less sensible than he ought to be of your merit, and of those tender and constant attentions, with which your high-strung esteem impels you to honour him.
Will you, however, forgive me, if I observe, that, as his virtues are cast in a sterner mould than yours,
the effusions of so poignant a sensibility may probably not only be incomprehensible, perhaps they are displeasing. Do they not seem a tacit reproof to his own colder temperament ? They may perhaps more induce him to question the sincerity of your regard, than to tell himself
that he is ungrateful. Heroic spirits are often proud ones; and pride will not endure the weight of incessant obligation. Affection, we all know, is the only coin in which we can be allowed to repay our debts to that affection which is demonstrated for us. Where native disposition brings on inevitable insolvency, how can the noble mind observe, without pain, the sum of those debts increasing by hourly accumulation ? Since you hint to me, that
brother seems rather oppressed than gratified by the generous extreme of
so much apparent veneration, I could wish you to avoid letting him perceive its fervours : that you would demonstrate only such a degree of it as he can hope to equal and return. We must rein in our enthusiasms towards those who are not themselves enthusiasts, lest the warm ingenuous heart defeat, by its excess, its dearest purposes.
I cannot doubt your having been infinitely amused by Mr Boswell's tour. · The general style is somewhat too careless, and its egotism is ridiculed; but surely to the cold-hearted and fastidious reader only, will it seem ridiculous. The slip-shod style is richly compensated by the palpable fidelity of the interesting anecdotes ; the egotism, by that good humoured ingenuousness with which it is given, and by its unsuspecting
confidence in the candour of the reader. The incidents, and characteristic traits of this valuable work, grapple our attention perforce. How strongly our imagination is impressed when the massive Being is presented to it stalking, like a Greenland bear, over the barren Hebrides, roaming round the black rocks, and lonely coasts, in a small boat, on rough seas, and saluting Flora Macdonald in the Isle of Sky!
When shall I have the happiness to salute you and Mr Gat Lichfield? You have allowed of an hope so agreeable, but the hour of realization is long delayed. Come, and persuade the gallant “chief of the stormy seas," to make your party a trio. We will see if we cannot teach him to associate with the adventurous spirit of ancient chivalry, that high value of female esteem, which, in purer and happier times, was its inseparable companion.
We shall soon, I trust, meet at Manchester, hear the vollies of the
abbey drums, see Mara exhibit ballooning vocalities, and our friend do the noblest justice to the inspirations of Handel. Some spirit, friendly to the juster conceptions of the art, early in life whispered Saville,
« Ah friend! to dazzle let the vain design,
I am sure you
agree with me, that the judicious admonition was not breathed in vain.
To MRS COTTON.
Lichfield, Oct. 27, 1785. It is longer, I believe, than we both wish, since we heard from each other. I hope the summer has passed pleasantly with you as with myself. The graceful and eloquent Miss Weston being my guest, inspirited, by her society, its sultry days. We went together to a brilliant music-meeting at Manchester last month, where, amidst the collected musical strength of the kingdom, Mara and Saville had the leading parts, and filled them to the high delight of their auditors. Sophia and myself joined a very agreeable party from Derbyshire, Mr and Mrs G -, and a pleasing young lady, her friend, and Mr G's brother, a sea-officer, of distinguished bravery and skill in his profession. My poor father has been very ill since our return, but is now recovered.
Mrs G- is a very singular, but very charming being. Her figure has uncommon elegance : but it is more the result of native grace than of fashion. Her complexion brunette, without bloom; nor are her features regular, but perfectly feminine, and very attractive. Nothing can be more beautiful than her black eyes. They are exactly those of Fatima, as described by Lady M. W. Montague in her letters ; have that length, horizontally, which always gives languishing sweet
Mrs G's eyes speak a thousand soft affectionate meanings through the dark fringe which encircles them.
This lady was married quite a girl to Mr Gmore than old enough to have been her father. He is a gentleman of large fortune, light and alert in his figure, devoted to the sports of the field, without neglecting the treasures of his library; friendly and hospitable, with a great deal of that dry sarcastic, and, as Sterne calls it, sub-acid humour, which forms a diverting contrast to the pensive, impassioned, perhaps romantic, enthusiasm of his lady's character.
I have been told it was his marriage stipulation that she should be content to live wholly in the country, without requesting to go to Bath or London. In all other respects, he is the most indulgent of husbands, animating her retirement