Gambar halaman

ing dissolution. I never would be awed by his sarcasms, or his frowns, into acquiescence with his general injustice to the merits of other writers; with his national, or party aversions ; but I feel the truest compassion for his present sufferings, and fervently wish I had power to relieve them.

A few days since I was to drink tea with him, by his request, at Mrs Porter's. When I went into the room, he was in deep but agitated slumber, in an arm-chair. Opening the door with that caution due to the sick, he did not awaken at my entrance. I stood by him several minutes, mournfully contemplating the temporary suspension of those vast intellectual powers, which must so soon, as to this world, be eternally quenched.

Upon the servant entering to announce the arrival of a gentleman of the university, introduced by Mr White, he awoke with convulsive starts, but rising, with more alacrity than could have been expected, he said, “ Come, my dear lady, let you and I attend these gentlemen in the study." He received them with more than usual complacence; but whimsically chose to get astride upon his chair-seat, with his face to its back, keeping a trotting motion as if on horseback; but, in this odd position, he poured forth streams of eloquence, illumined by frequent flashes of wit and humour, without any tincture of malignity. That amusing part of this conversation, which alluded to the learned Pig, and his demi-rational exhibitions, I shall transmit to you hereafter.



Lichfield, Nov. 7, 1784. Large is my debt to you, dear friend, for those exquisite, those living descriptions of the Alpine scenery, with which you have favoured me. You enable me to see their picturesque wonders without the fatigue and danger of the journey. I explore the Glaciers; I ascend Mount Blanc, and contemplate its varied sublimities with the most awakened enthusiasm. I walk with you to Vevay and Clarens. Why is not Clarens such a situation as might enable our imagination to indulge its deceptions; to make those believe, who actually visit that spot, that they tread in the steps of Julie, and St Preux, of Clara, and Wolmar? Ah! it is the vivid glow of these local interests that constitutes the highest triumph of genius, after it has delivered an immortal work to the world.


You exchange the magnificent landscapes of Savoy and Switzerland, for the softer environs of Avignon :—but they include VAUCLUSE, whose interwoven recollections will recompense all the inferiority in point of scenery on the laurel-shaded Sorga, compared with that of the mighty Alps, with their stupendous cataracts, green lakes, vinecurtained mountains, and bloomy vallies.-Yes, the spirit of love and poetry will recompense their loss at that consecrated fountain, “ Clear as a mirror, as an ocean deep."

The old literary Colossus * has been some time in Lichfield. The extinction, in our sphere, of that mighty spirit approaches fast. A confirmed dropsy deluges the vital source. It is melancholy to observe with what terror he contemplates his approaching fate. The religion of Johnson was always deeply tinctured with that gloomy and servile superstition which marks his political opinions. He expresses these terrors, and justly calls them miserable, which thus shrink from the exchange of a diseased and painful existence, which gentler human beings consider as the all-recompensing reward of a well-spent life. Yet have not these humiliating terrors by any means subdued that malevolent and envious pride, and literary jealousy,

* Johnson.

which were ever the vices of his heart, and to which he perpetually sacrificed, and continues to sacrifice, the fidelity of representation, and the veracity of decision. His memory is considerably impaired, but his eloquence rolls on in its customary majestic torrent, when he speaks at all. My heart aches to see him labour for his breath, which he draws with great effort indeed. It is not improbable that this literary comet may set where it rose, and Lichfield receive his pale and stern remains.

You will be kindly gratified to hear that I receive the highest encomiums upon my poem, LOUISA, by the first literary characters of the age. . I inclose the beautiful eulogium with which it has been honoured from the pen of Mr Hayley. This eulogium appeared in several of the public prints.

The fame of Lunardi's aërial tour must have reached you across the continent. Infinite seems the present rage

“ To be imprison’d in the viewless winds,

And blown, with restless violence, about
This pendant world.”

But unless these adventurers can acquire the power of steering their buoyant bark, the experiment is as idle as it is dangerous.

[ocr errors]

A violent sprain in my knee, into which the rheumatic propensity of my constitution settled, obliged me to try the Buxton waters, and their bath during a month. I found them restorative, and many social pleasures enlivened the discipline.

Other agreeable excursions varied my late summer days. Part of them, however, were tinged with the gloom of regret, by the death of my dear aunt Martin, whose striking likeness to my yet dearer mother, whom I lost in the year 1780, increased the affection which her virtues and longexperienced kindness had inspired. Now, on this wide earth, no resemblance remains to me of that loved form which gave me birth, and which was of such acknowledged beauty, even in waning age. Justly do you speak of the melancholy consciousness produced by this awful vanishing of our friends :—but, O! my dearest father lives, and has now many months escaped every symptom of that dread-malady which so often threatened to deprive me of the precious blessing of administering to his comforts; of seeing him happy; of receiving his tender endearments. Ere long, I hope, this filial happiness will lure you back to England ;-and may it yet be long ere you and I find ourselves deprived for ever of its sacred gratifications !

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »