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[London,] Tuesday [December 17, 1816]. MY DEAR CHARLESYou may now look at Minerva's Ægis with impunity, seeing that my awful Visage 2 did not turn you into a John Doree. You have accordingly a legitimate title to a Copy - I will use my interest to procure it for you. I'll tell you what - I met Reynolds at Haydon's a few mornings since - - he promised to be with me this Evening and Yesterday I had the same promise from Severn and I must put you in mind that on last All hallowmas'
day you gave me your word that you would spend this Evening with me—so no putting off. I have done little to Endymion lately 2 I hope to finish it in one more attack. I believe you I went to Richards's it was so whoreson a Night that I stopped there all the next day. His Remembrances to you. (Ext. from the common place Book of my Mind — Mem. Wednesday Hampstead call in Warner Street - a sketch of Mr. Hunt.) -I will ever consider you my sincere and affectionate friend - you will not doubt that I am yours.
God bless you
3. TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS
[London,] Sunday Evening [March 2, 1817 ?].
MY DEAR REYNOLDS Your kindness 3 affects me so sensibly that I can merely put down a few mono-sentences. Your Criticism only makes me extremely anxious that I should not deceive you.
It's the finest thing by God as Hazlitt would say. However I hope I may not There are some acquaintances of mine who will scratch their Beards and although I have, I hope, some Charity, I wish their Nails may be long. I will be ready at the time you mention in all Happiness.
There is a report that a young Lady of 16 has written the new Tragedy, God bless her -I will know her by Hook or by Crook in less than a week. My Brothers' and my Remembrances to your kind Sisters.
Yours most sincerely
4. TO THE SAME
[London, March 17, 1817.] MY DEAR REYNOLDS — My Brothers are anxious that I should go by myself into the country - they have always been extremely fond of me, and now that Haydon has pointed out how necessary it is that I should be alone to improve myself, they give up the temporary pleasure of living with me continually for a great good which I hope will follow. So I shall soon be out of Town. You must soon bring all your present troubles to a close, and so must I, but we must, like the Fox, prepare for a fresh swarm of flies. Banish money Banish
MY DEAR BROTHERS-I am safe at Southampton dash. - after having ridden three stages outside and the rest in for it began to be very cold. I did not know the Names of any of the Towns I passed through — all I can tell you is that sometimes I saw dusty Hedges-sometimes Ponds- then nothing then a little Wood with trees look you like Launce's Sister 'as white as a Lily and as small as a Wand'. then came houses which died away into a few straggling Barns then came hedge trees aforesaid again. As the Lamplight crept along the following things were discovered 'long heath broom furze' Hurdles here and there half a Mile Park palings when the Windows of a House were always discovered by reflection One Nymph of Fountain N. B. Stone lopped Trees Cow ruminating - ditto Donkey Man and Woman going gingerly along-William seeing his Sisters over the Heath-John waiting with a Lanthorn for his Mistress - Barber's Pole
Doctor's Shop - However after having had my fill of these I popped my Head out just as it began to Dawn - N. B. this Tuesday Morn saw the Sun rise of which I shall say nothing at present. I felt rather lonely this Morning at Breakfast so I went and unbox'd a Shakspeare 'There's my Comfort.' 1 I went immediately after Breakfast to Southampton Water where I
a very respectable old Gate with two Lions to guard it. The Men and Women do not materially differ from those I have been in the Habit of seeing. I forgot to say that from dawn till half-past six I went through a most delightful Country - -some open Down but for the most part thickly wooded. What surprised me most was an immense quantity of blooming Furze on each side the road cutting a most rural The Southampton water when I saw it just now was no better than a low water Water which did no more than answer my expectations - it will have mended its Manners by 3. From the Wharf are seen the shores on each side stretching to the Isle of Wight. You, Haydon, Reynolds, etc. have been pushing each other out of my Brain by turns. I have conned over every Head in Haydon's Picture you must warn them not to be afraid should my Ghost visit them on Wednesday tell Haydon to Kiss his Hand at Betty over the Way for me yea and to spy at her for me. I hope one of will be competent to take part in a Trio while I am away - you need only aggravate your voices a little and mind not to speak Cues and all — when you have said Rum-ti-ti you must not be rum any more or else another will take up the ti-ti alone and then he might be taken God shield us for little better than a Titmouse. By the by talking of Titmouse Remember me particularly to all my Friends - give my Love to the Miss Reynoldses and to Fanny who I hope you will soon see. Write to me soon about them all - and you George particularly how you get on with Wilkinson's plan. What could I have done without my Plaid? I don't feel inclined to write any more at present for I feel rather muzzy - you must be con
tent with this fac simile of the rough plan from a little hill close by the whole north of Aunt Dinah's Counterpane.*
Your most affectionate Brother
Reynolds shall hear from me soon.
6. TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS Carisbrooke, April 17th . MY DEAR REYNOLDS - Ever since I wrote to my Brothers from Southampton I have been in a taking — and at this moment I am about to become settled for I have unpacked my books, put them into a snug corner, pinned up Haydon, Mary Queen of Scots, and Milton with his daughters in a row. In the passage I found a head of Shakspeare which I had not before seen. It is most likely the same that George spoke so well of, for I like it extremely. Well - this head I have hung over my Books, just above the three in a row, having first discarded a French Ambassador now this alone is a good morning's work. Yesterday I went to Shanklin, which occasioned a great debate in my mind whether I should live there or at Carisbrooke. Shanklin is a most beautiful place - Sloping wood and meadow ground reach round the Chine, which is a cleft between the Cliffs of the depth of nearly 300 feet at least. This cleft is filled with trees and bushes in the narrow part, and as it widens becomes bare, if it were not for primroses on one side, which spread to the very verge of the Sea, and some fishermen's huts on the other, perched midway in the Balustrades of beautiful green Hedges along their steps down to the sands. But the sea, Jack, the sea - the little waterfall
then the white cliff-then St. Catherine's Hill — 'the sheep in the meadows, the cows in the corn.' Then, why are you at Carisbrooke? say you. Because, in the first place, I should be at twice the Expense, and three times the inconvenience · that from here I can see your continent
Angle of the Isle of Wight, with the water between us. In the 3rd place, I see Carisbrooke Castle from my window, and have found several delightful wood-alleys, and copses, and quick freshes. As for primroses - the Island ought to be called Primrose Island that is, if the nation of Cowslips agree thereto, of which there are divers Clans just beginning to lift up their heads. Another reason of my fixing is, that I am more in reach of the places around me. I intend to walk over the Island east -West North South. I have not
seen many specimens of Ruins - I don't think however I shall ever see one to sur
pass Carisbrooke Castle. The trench is overgrown with the smoothest turf, and the Walls with ivy. The Keep within side is one Bower of ivy—a colony of Jackdaws have been there for many years. I dare say I have seen many a descendant of some old cawer who peeped through the Bars at Charles the first, when he was there in Confinement. On the road from Cowes to Newport I saw some extensive Barracks, which disgusted me extremely with the Government for placing such a Nest of Debauchery in so beautiful a place. I asked a man on the Coach about this and he said that the people had been spoiled. In the room where I slept at Newport, I found this on the Window-'O Isle spoilt by the milatary! . . .'
The wind is in a sulky fit, and I feel that it would be no bad thing to be the favourite of some Fairy, who would give one the power of seeing how our Friends got on at a Distance. I should like, of all Loves, a sketch of you and Tom and George in ink which Haydon will do if you tell him how I want them. From want of regular rest I have been rather narvus and the passage in Lear-'Do you not hear the sea?' has haunted me intensely.
[Here follows the sonnet 'On the Sea,' p. 37.]