« ZurückWeiter »
THE POPLAR FIELD.
The poplars are felled, farewell to the shade,
Twelve years have elaps'd, since I last took a view
The blackbird has fled to another retreat,
My fugitive years are basting away,
The change both my heart and my fancy employs;
TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ. *
Olney, Jan. 22, 1785. My dear Friend - The departure of the long frost, by which we were pinched and squeezed together for three weeks, is a most agreeable circumstance. The
weather is now (to speak poetically) genial and jocund; and the appearance of the sun, after an eclipse, peculiarly welcome. For, were it not that I have a gravel walk about sixty yards long, where I take my daily exercise, I should be obliged to look at a fine day through the window, without any other enjoyment of it; a country rendered impassable by frost, that has been at last resolved into rottenness, keeps me so close a prisoner. Long live the inventors and improvers of balloons! It is always clear overhead, and by and by we shall use no other road.
How will the Parliament employ themselves when they meet ?—to any purpose, or to none, or only to a bad one? They are utterly out of my favour. I despair of them altogether. Will they pass an act for the cultivation of the royal wildernesses ? Will they make an effectual provision for a northern fishery? Will they establish a new sinking fund that shall infallibly pay off the national debt? I say nothing about a more equal representation,* because, unless they bestow upon private gentlemen of no property the privilege of voting, I stand no chance of ever being represented myself. Will they achieve all these wonders, or none of them ? And shall I derive no other advantage from the great Wittena-Gemot of the nation, than merely to
* Mr. Pitt had introduced, at this time, his celebrated bill for effecting a reform in the national representation; the leading feature of which was to transfer the elective franchise from the smaller and decayed boroughs to the larger towns. The proposition was, however, rejected by a considerable majority.
read their debates, for twenty folios of which I would not give one farthing? Yours, my dear friend,
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
Olney, Feb. 7, 1785. My dear Friend—We live in a state of such uninterrupted retirement, in which incidents worthy to be recorded occur so seldom, that I always sit down to write with a discouraging conviction that I have nothing to say. The event commonly justifies the presage. For, when I have filled
my sheet, I find that I have said nothing. Be it known to you, however, that I may now at least communicate a piece of intelligence to which you will not be altogether indifferent; that I have received and returned to Johnson the two first proof-sheets of my new publication. The business was dispatched indeed a fortnight ago, since when I have heard from him no further. From such a beginning, however, I venture to prognosticate the progress, and in due time the conclusion, of the matter.
In the last Gentleman's Magazine my Poplar Field appears. I have accordingly sent up two pieces more, a Latin translation of it, which you have never seen, and another on a rose-bud, the neck of which I inadvertently broke, which whether you have seen or not I know not. As fast as Nichols prints off the poems I send him, I send him new ones. My remittance usually consists of
two; and he publishes one of them at a time. I may indeed furnish him at this rate, without putting myself to any great inconvenience. For my last supply was transmitted to him in August, and is but now exhausted.
I communicate the following at your mother's instance, who will suffer no part of my praise to be sunk in oblivion. A certain lord has hired a house at Clifton, in our neighbourhood, for a hunting seat.* There he lives at present with this wife and daughter. They are an exemplary family in some respects, and (I believe) an amiable one in all. The Reverend Mr. Jones, the curate of that parish, who often dines with thein by invitation on a Sunday, recommended
my volume to their reading; and his lordship, after having perused a part of it, expressed an ardent desire to be acquainted with the author, from motives which my great modesty will not suffer me to particularize. Mr.Jones, however, like a wise man, informed his lordship that, for certain special reasons and causes, I had declined going into company
many years, and that therefo he must not hope for my acquaintance. His lordship most civilly subjoined that he
“ And is that all ?” say you. Now were I to hear you say so, I should look foolish
“ Yes.” But, having you at a distance, I snap my fingers at you and
sorry for it.
say, “ No, that is not all.” Mr.
who favours us now and then with his company in an evening as usual, was not long since discoursing with that eloquence which is so peculiar to himself, on the many providential
* Lord Peterborough.
interpositions that had taken place in his favour. “ He had wished for many things,” he said, “which, at the time when he formed these wishes, seemed distant and improbable, some of them indeed impossible. Among other wishes that he had indulged, one was that he might be connected with men of genius and ability-and, in my connexion with this worthy gentleman,” said he, turning to me, “ that wish, I am sure, is amply gratified.” You may suppose that I felt the sweat gush out upon my forehead when I heard this speech ; and if you do, you will not be at all mistaken. So much was I delighted with the delicacy of that incense.
Thus far I proceeded easily enough ; and here I laid down my pen, and spent some minutes in recollection, endeavouring to find some subject with which I might fill the little blank that remains. But none presents itself. Farewell therefore, and remember those who are mindful of you!
Present our love to all your comfortable fireside, and believe me ever most affectionately yours,
They that read Greek with the accents, would pronounce the e in pidew as an n. But I do not hold with that practice, though educated in it. I should therefore utter it just as I do the Latin word filio, taking the quantity for my guide.