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covered with green baize, and is therefore preferable to any other that has a slippery surface; the cardtable, that stands firm and never totters,—is advanced to the honour of assisting me upon my scribbling occasions, and, because we choose to avoid the trouble of making frequent changes in the position of our household furniture, proves equally serviceable
upon all others. It has cost us now and then the downfall of a glass : for, when covered with a table-cloth, the fish-ponds are not easily discerned; and, not being seen, are sometimes as little thought of. But, having numerous good qualities which abundantly compensate that single inconvenience, we spill upon it our coffee, our wine, and our ale, without murmuring, and resolve that it shall be our table still to the exclusion of all others. Not to be tedious, I will add but one more circumstance upon the subject, and that only because it will impress upon you, as much as any thing that I have said, a sense of the value we set upon its escritorial capacity. Parched and penetrated on one side by the heat of the fire, it has opened into a large fissure, which pervades not the moulding of it only, but the very substance of the plank. At the mouth of this aperture a sharp splinter presents itself, which, as sure as it comes in contact with a gown or an apron, tears it. It happens unfortunately to be on that side of this excellent and never-to-be-forgotten table which Mrs. Unwin sweeps with her apparel, almost as often as she rises from her chair. The consequences need not, to use the fashionable phrase, be given in detail : but the needle sets all to rights; and the card-table still holds possession of its functions without a rival.
Clean roads and milder weather have once more released us, opening a way for our escape accustomed walks. We have both I believe been sufferers by such a long confinement. Mrs. Unwin has had a nervous fever all the winter, and I a stomach that has quarrelled with every thing, and not seldom even with its bread and butter. Her complaint I hope is at length removed; but mine seems more obstinate, giving way to nothing that I can oppose to it, except just in the moment when the opposition is made. I ascribe this maladyboth our maladies, indeed—in a great measure to our want of exercise. We have each of us practised more in other days than lately we have been able to take; and, for my own part, till than thirty years old, it was almost essential to my comfort to be perpetually in motion. My constitution therefore misses, I doubt not, its usual aids of this kind; and, unless for purposes which I cannot foresee, Providence should interpose to prevent it, will probably reach the moment of its dissolution the sooner for being so little disturbed. A vitiated digestion I believe always terminates, if not cured, in the production of some chronical disorder. In several I have known it produce a dropsy. But no matter. Death is inevitable; and whether we die to-day or to-morrow, a watery death or a dry one, is of no consequence. The state of our spiritual health is all. Could I discover a few more symptoms of convalescence there, this body might moulder
into its original dust without one sigh from me. Nothing of all this did I mean to say; but I have said it, and must now seek another subject.
One of our most favourite walks is spoiled. The spinney is cut down to the stumps—even the lilacs and the syringas, to the stumps. Little did I think, (though indeed I might have thought it,) that the trees which skreened me from the sun last summer would this winter be employed in roasting potatoes and boiling tea-kettles for the poor of Olney. But so it has proved ; and we ourselves have at this moment more than two waggon-loads of them in our wood-loft.
Such various services can trees perform;
A letter from Manchester reached our town last Sunday, addressed to the mayor or other chief magistrate of Olney. The purport of it was to excite him and his neighbours to petition Parliament against the concessions to Ireland that Government has in contemplation. Mr. Maurice Smith, as constable, took the letter. But whether that most respectable personage amongst us intends to comply with the terms of it, or not, I am ignorant. For myself, however, I can pretty well answer, that I shall sign no petition of the sort; both because I do not think myself competent to a right understanding of the question, and because it appears to me that, whatever be the event, no place in England can be less concerned in it than Olney.
We rejoice that you are all well. Our love attends Mrs. Newton and yourself, and the young ladies. I am yours, my dear friend, as usual,
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
Olney, March 20, 1785. My dear William–I thank
letter. It made me laugh, and there are not many things capable of being contained within the dimensions of a letter for which I see cause to be more thankful. I was pleased too to see my opinion of his lordship's nonchalance, upon a subject that you
had so much at heart, completely verified. I do not know that the eye
of nobleman was ever dissected. I cannot help supposing, however, that were that organ, as it exists in the head of such a personage, to be accurately examined, it would be found to differ materially in its construction from the eye of a commoner ; so very different is the view that men in an elevated and in an humble station have of the same object. What appears great, sublime, beautiful, and important to you and to me, when submitted lord or his
and submitted too with the utmost humility, is either too minute to be visible at all, or, if seen, seems trivial and of no account. My supposition therefore seems not altogether chimerical.
In two months I have corrected proof-sheets to the amount of ninety-three pages, and no more.
other words, I have received three packets. Nothing is quick enough for impatience, and I suppose that the impatience of an author has the quickest of all possible movements. It appears to me, however, that at this rate we shall not publish till next autumn. Should you happen therefore to pass Johnson's door, pop
your head as you go, and just insinuate to him that, were his remittances rather more frequent, that frequency would be no inconvenience to me. I much expected one this evening, a fortnight having now elapsed since the arrival of the last. But none came, and I felt myself a little mortified. I took the
however, and read it. There I found that the emperor and the Dutch are, after all their negotiations, going to war. Such reflections as these struck me. A great part of Europe is going to be involved in the greatest of all calamities: troops are in motion artillery is drawn together-cabinets are busied in contriving schemes of blood and devastation-thousands will perish who are incapable of understanding the dispute, and thousands who, whatever the event may be, are little more interested in it than myself, will suffer unspeakable hardships in the course of the quarrel.- Well! Mr. Poet, and how then ? You have composed certain verses, which you are desirous to see in print, and, because the impression seems to be delayed, you are displeased, not to say dispirited. Be ashamed of yourself! you live in a world in which your feelings may find worthier subjects – be concerned for the havoc of nations,