E. V. (Edward Verrall) Lucas.

The gentlest art, a choice of letters online

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every way.

Sace arrived safely at about half-past six. At seven
we set off in a coach for the Lyceum, were at home

67



Henry Austen's Cold

again in about four hours and a half; had soup, and
wine and water, and then went to our holes.

Edward finds his quarters very small and quiet. I
must get a softer pen. This is harder. I am in agonies.
I have not yet seen Mr. Crabbe. Martha's letter is gone
to the post.

I am going to write nothing but short sentences.
There shall be two full stops in every line. Layton
and Shear's /.$• Bedford House. We mean to get there
before breakfast if it's possible ; for we feel more and
more how much we have to do and how little time.
This house looks very nice. It seems like Sloane Street
moved here. I believe Henry is just rid of Sloane
Street. Fanny does not come, but I have Edward
seated by me beginning a letter, which looks natural.

Henry has been suffering from the pain in the face
which he has been subject to before. He caught cold at
Matlock, and since his return has been paying a little for
past pleasure. It is nearly removed now, but he looks
thin in the face, either from the pain or the fatigues of
his tour, which must have been great.

Lady Robert is delighted with P. and P., and really
was so, as I understand, before she knew who wrote it, for
of course she knows now. He told her with as much
satisfaction as if it were my wish. He did not tell vie
this, but he told Fanny. And Mr. Hastings ! I am quite
delighted with what such a man writes about it. Henry
sent him the books after his return from Daylesford, but
you will hear the letter too.

Let me be rational, and return to my two full stops.

I talked to Henry at the play last night. We were in

a private box — Mr. Spencer's — which made it much more

pleasant. The box is directly on the stage. One is

infinitely less fatigued than in the common way. But

68



A London Holiday

Henry's plans are not what one could wish. He does
not mean to be at Chawton till the 29lh. He must be in
town again by Oct. 5. His plan is to get a couple of
days of pheasant shooting and then return directly.

His wish was to bring you back with him. I have told
him of your scruples. He wishes you to suit yourself as
to time, and if you cannot come till later, will send for
you any time as far as Bagshot. He presumed you would
not find difficulty in getting so far. I could not say you
would. He proposed your going with him into Oxford-
shire. It was his own thought at first. I could not but
catch at it for you.

We have talked of it again this morning (for now we
have breakfasted), and I am convinced that if you can
make it suit in other respects you need not scruple on his
account. If you cannot come back with him on the 3rd
or 4th, therefore, I do hope you will contrive to go to
Adlestrop. By not beginning your absence till about the
middle of this month I think you may manage it very
well. But you will think all this over. One could wish
he had intended to come to you earlier, but it cannot be
helped.

I said nothing to him of Mrs. H. and Miss B. that he
might not suppose difficulties. Shall not you put them
into our own room? This seems to me the best plan,
and the maid will be most conveniently near. Oh, dear
me ! When shall I ever have done ? We did go to
Layton and Shear's before breakfast. Very pretty
English poplins at 4s. 3d. ; Irish ditto at 6s. ; more
pretty, certainly— beautiful.

Fanny and the two girls are gone to take places for

to-night at Covent Garden ; Clandestine Marriage and

Midas. The latter will be a fine show for L. and M.

They revelled last night in Don Juan, whom we left in

69



Miss Austen's New Gown

Hell at half-past eleven. We had Scaramouch and a
ghost, and were delighted. I speak of them ; my delight
was very tranquil, and the rest of us were sober-minded.
Don Juan was the last of three musical things. Five
Hours at Brighton^ in three acts — of which one was over
before we arrived, none the worse — and the Beehive^
rather less flat and trumpery.

I have this moment received 5/. from kind, beautiful
Edward. Fanny has a similar gift. I shall save what
I can of it for your better leisure in this place. My
letter was from Miss Sharpe — nothing particular. A
letter from Fanny Cage this morning.

Four o'clock. — We are just come back from doing Mr.
Tickars, Miss Hare, and Mr. Spence. Mr. Hall is here,
and, while Fanny is under his hands, I will try to write
a little more.

Miss Hare had some pretty caps, and is to make me
one like one of them, only white satin instead of blue.
It will be white satin and lace, and a little white flower
perking out of the left ear, like Harriot Byron's feather.
I have allowed her to go as far as i/. i6s. My gown
is to be trimmed everywhere with white ribbon plaited
on somehow or other. She says it will look well. I am
not sanguine. They trim with white very much.

I learnt from Mrs. Tickars' young lady, to my high
amusement, that the stays now are not made to force the
bosom up at all ; that was a very unbecoming, unnatural
fashion. I was really glad to hear that they are not to
be so much off the shoulders as they were.

Going to Mr. Spence's was a sad business and cost us
many tears ; unluckily we were obliged to go a second
time before he could do more than just look. We went
first at half-past twelve and afterwards at three ; papa with
us each time ; and, alas ! we are to go again to-morrow.
70



Dentist and Coiffeur

■ Lizzy is not finished yet. There have been no teeth
taken out, however, nor will be, I believe, but he finds
hers in a very bad state, and seems to think particularly
ill of their durableness. They have been all cleaned,
hers filed, and are to be filed again. There is a very sad
hole between two of her front teeth.

Thursday morning, half-past seven. — Up and dressed
and downstairs in order to finish my letter in time for the
parcel. At eight I have an appointment with Madame
B., who wants to show me something downstairs. At
nine we are to set off for Grafton House, and get that
over before breakfast. Edward is so kind as to walk
there with us. We are to be at Mr. Spence's again at
1 1.5 ; from that time shall be driving about I suppose
till four o'clock at least. We are, if possible, to call on
Mrs. Tilson.

Mr. Hall was very punctual yesterday, and curled me
out at a great rate. I thought its look hideous, and
longed for a snug cap instead, but my companions
silenced me by their admiration. I had only a bit of
velvet round my head. I did not catch cold, however.
The weather is all in my favour. I have no pain in my
face since I left you.

We had very good places in the box next the stage-
box, front and second row ; the three old ones behind of
course. I was particularly disappointed at seeing nothing
of Mr. Crabbe. I felt sure of him when I saw that the
boxes were fitted up with crimson velvet. The new Mr.
Terry was Lord Ogleby, and Henry thinks he may do ;
but there was no acting more than moderate, and I was
as much amused by the remembrances connected with
Midas as with any part of it. The girls were very much
delighted, but still prefer Do7i Juan ; and I must say
that I have seen nobody on the stage who has been a
71



Miss Austen's Extravagance

more interesting character than that compound of cruelty
and lust.

It was not possible for me to get the worsteds
yesterday. I heard Edward last night pressing Henry
to come to you, and I think Henry engaged to go there
after his November collection. Nothing has been done
as to .S". and S.

The books came to hand too late for him to have time
for it before he went. Mr. Hastings never hinted at
Eliza in the smallest degree. Henry knew nothing of
Mr. Trimmer's death. I tell you these things that you
may not have to ask them over again.

There is a new clerk sent down to Alton, a Mr. Edward
Williams, a young man whom Henry thinks most highly
of, and he turns out to be a son of the luckless Williamses
of Grosvenor Place.

I long to have you hear Mr. H.'s opinion of P and P.
His admiring my Elizabeth so much is particularly
welcome to me.

Instead of saving my superfluous wealth for you to
spend, I am going to treat myself with spending it
myself. I hope, at least, that I shall find some poplin
at Layton and Shear's that will tempt me to buy it.
If I do, it shall be sent to Chawton, as half will be for
you ; for I depend upon your being so kind as to accept
it, being the main point. It will be a great pleasure to
me. Don't say a word. I only wish you could choose
too. I shall send twenty yards.

Now for Bath. Poor F. Cage has suffered a good
deal from her accident. The noise of the White Hart
was terrible to her. They will keep her quiet, I dare
say. She is not so much delighted with the place as the
rest of the party ; probably, as she says herself, from
having being less well, but she thinks she should like it
72



A Good Grandmother

better in the season. The streets are very empty now,
and the shops not so gay as she expected. They are at
No. I Henrietta Street, the corner of Laura Place, and
have no acquaintance at present but the Bramstons.
Lady Bridges drinks at the Cross Bath, her son at the
Hot, and Louisa is going to bathe. Dr. Parry seems to be
half starving Mr. Bridges, for he is restricted to much
such a diet as James's bread, water and meat, and is never
to eat so much of that as he wishes, and he is to walk
a great deal — walk till he drops, I believe — gout or no
gout. It really is to that purpose.

I have not exaggerated.

Charming weather for you and me, and the travellers,
and everybody. You will take your walk this afternoon,
and . . .



Dame Dorothy Browne (Sir Thomas Browne's lady)
gives postscript news of the health and well-being
of Master Tommy Browne, her grandson •

I

Aug. 29 [1678]

DEARE SONNE,— ... I bless God your Tomy is
very well ; goos to scolle, and is a very good boy,
and delights his grandfather when hee comes home.

II

June 28 [1679?]

DEARE DAUGHTER,— . . . Wee dayly wish for the
new cloths ; all our linen being worne out but shefts,
and Tomey would give all his stock to see his briches.
I bless God wee ar all well as I hope you ar. Tomey pre-
sents his dutty, your sisters all love and services. — Your
affectionate mother, Dorothy Browne

73



Tommy Browne's Puppet Show
III

July 5 [1679]

TOMEY have receved his clones, and is much de-
hghted, and sends you and his mother and grand-
mother dutty and thanckes, and meanes to war them
carefully.

IV

Novemb. vii. [1679]

DEARE DAUGHTER,— I tharick God for your latter,
and shall be so glad to see my Tomey returne in
helth though ever so durty ; hee knows fullars earth will
cleane all. I besich God of his mercy blesse you all. —
Your afFectinat mothar,

Dorothy Browne

V

Sept. 6 [1680]

I BLESS God wee all continow wel, and Tomey
present his dutty to you and his fathar, and give
you many thanks for your touken. Hee did thinke to
Wright him selfe. Hee is now a very good boy for his
boak, I can assuer you, and delights to read to his grand-
father and I, when he corns from schole. God of his
mercy bless you all. — Your afFectinat mothar,

Dorothy Browne

VI

Feb. xiii. [168 1-2]

YOUR Tomey grows a stout fellow, I hope you will
com and see him this svmmor, hee is in great
expextion of a tumbler you must send him for his popet
show, a punch he has and his wife, and a straw king and
quen, and ladies of honor, and all things but a tumbler,
which this town cannot aford : it is a wodin fellow that
turns his heles over his head. . . .

74



IV
THE GRAND STYLE

The Swan of Lichfield greets the Ladies of Llangollen

(To the Right Hon. Lady Eleanor Butler, and
Miss Ponsonby)

Lichfield, April 2i\, 1798
'"T'HE frame for Honora's exact, though accidental,
J- resemblance in the print of Romney's Serena read-
ing by candle light, is at length arrived. I dare believe
my charming friends will think the figure, countenance,
and features express the sweetness, intelligence and
grace, with which the strains, honoured by their mutual
partiality, invest the fair friend of my youth.

You must each have been deeply disquieted by the
miserable scenes which have been acted in your native
Ireland since I had last the honour to address you.
None of your particular friends are, I trust, on the dire
list of those who have fallen the victims of its assassina-
tions. Had my gallant friend, the murdered Colonel
St. George, the happiness of your acquaintance ? — Of
him at least you must well know, from your intimacy
with his lovely and accomplished sister-in-law.

75



Miss Seward improves Fenelon

My Telemachus has taken a snail's walk since I gave
myself the pleasure of writing to you. Two mornings
of leisure, the only ones I could obtain in the interim,
produced the enclosed extract. You have heard me say,
that I could scarcely ever persuade myself to admit the
Muses, in exclusion of any social or epistolary duty or
pleasure. Small, therefore, with connections and corre-
spondence so numerous, is the probability that I shall
ever finish an epic poem.

You will percei\'e that Fenelon's Telemachus forms as
yet but the mere basis of this attempted work ; but I
conclude, that when the prince, in what will form my
third book, narrates his own adventures, I must be
more indebted to the prose composition. Whether those
incidents, not very interesting from Fenelon's pen, are
capable of receiving poetic spirit and animation from
mine, remains to be tried. If I retain my excursive
manner of going over the ground, there will be sufficient
length for an epic poem, without pursuing the long train
of less animated events that ensues after Telemachus
and Mentor quit Calypso's island. Homer follows not
Achilles when he leaves the ruins of Troy ; and if Virgil
had not followed y^neas after he left Carthage, his poem,
though less com.plete, would have been more interesting.
After the death of Dido I yawned through the remainder ;
read it once as a task, and never since looked into the
pages beyond that epoch.

Ah ! dearest ladies, how groundless has the assertion
proved on which every one relied, that Duncan's victory
threw the perils of invasion at a wide distance ! — but I
will not pursue the alarming subject.

This day a summer's sun warmly gilds the fields, the
gardens, and the groves, now diffusing fragrance, and
bursting into bloom. Fresh and undulating breezes from
76



Scenery at Lichfield

the east lured me into my drawing-room, having placed
in its lifted sash the yEolian harp. It is, at this instant,
warbling through all the varieties of the harmonic chords.
This apartment looks upon a small lawn, gently sloping
upwards. Till this spring, it was shrubbery to the edge
of the grassy terrace on its summit ; but I have lately
covered it with a fine turf, sprinkled with cypresses,
junipers, and laurels. It is bordered on the right hand
by tall laburnums, lilacks, and trees of the Gelder rose,

" throwing up, 'mid trees of darker leaf,

Its silver globes, light as the foamy surf,
Which the wind severs from the broken wave."

Beyond this little lawny elevation, the wall which
divides its terrace from the sweet valley it overlooks, is
not visible. These windows command the loveliest part
of that valley, and only its first field is concealed by the
sloping swell of the fore-ground.

The vale is scarcely half a mile across, bounded, basin-
like, by a semicircle of gentle hills, luxuriantly foliaged.
There is a lake in its bosom, and a venerable old church,
with its grey and moss-grown tower on the water's edge.
Left of that old church, on the rising ground beyond,
stands an elegant villa half shrouded in its groves ; and,
to the right below, on the bank of the lake, another villa
with its gardens. The as yet azure waters are but little
intercepted by the immense and very ancient willo\v that
stands opposite these windows in the middle of the vale ;
that willow, whose height and dimensions are the wonder
of naturalists. The centre of the lake gleams through
its wide-spread branches, and it appears on each side like
a considerable river, from its boundaries being concealed.

On the right, one of our streets runs from the town to
the water, interspersed with trees and gardens. It looks

77



" Vernal Luxury "

like an umbraged village, and is all we see from hence
of the city, so that nothing can be more quiet and rural
than the landscape. It is less beautiful in summer than
in spring, from the weeds that sprout up in the lake, and
from the set which partially creeps upon its surface.

In my youth, it was always clear — but it is said that,
some fifteen years back, two of our gormandizing alder-
men took a boat and sowed it with water-lilies to preserve
the fish. The mischief is irreparable, since the cleansing
it receives every autumn only procures transparence till
the sun of middle summer enables the deep-rooted weeds
to defy the scythe and the shovel.

What shall I say for the slovenliness of the inclosed
transcripts ? — Thus you behold my incorrigible pen
sinning, from time to time, against the fairness of tran-
scription, — sinning and confessing, like a frail papist,
and repenting without amendment.

What lovely weather ! Our valley is bursting into
bloom, and the fruit trees of a large public garden in one
part of it, now in full blossom, presents a grove of silver,
amidst the lively and tender green of the fields and
hedgerows. Alas ! the melancholy of the apprehensive
heart is rather increased than abated by this vernal luxury.
It seems but as gay garlands on the neck of a victim.

In every frame of mind, I remain, dearest ladies, etc.

The Swan of Lichfield word-paints



Online LibraryE. V. (Edward Verrall) LucasThe gentlest art, a choice of letters → online text (page 6 of 29)