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guard against Milton. Life to him would be death to
Miltonic verse cannot be written, but is the verse of art. I wish to devote myself to another verse alone.
Friday (September 24). I have been obliged to intermit your letter for two days (this being Friday morning), from having had to attend to other correspondence. Brown, who was at Bedhampton, went thence to Chichester, and I am still directing my letters Bedhampton. There arose a misunderstanding about them. I began to suspect my letters had been stopped from curiosity. However, yesterday Brown had four letters from me all in a lump, and the matter is cleared up. Brown complained very much in his letter to me of yesterday of the great alteration the disposition of Dilke has undergone. He thinks of nothing but political justice and his boy. Now, the first political duty a man ought to have a mind to is the happiness of his friends. I wrote Brown a comment on the subject, wherein I explained what I thought of Dilke's character, which resolved itself into this conclusion, that Dilke was a man who cannot feel he has a personal identity unless he has made up his mind about everything. The only means of strengthening one's intellect is to make up one's mind about nothing—to let the mind be a thoroughfare for all thoughts, not a select party. The genus is not scarce in population; all the stubborn arguers you meet with are of the same brood. They never begin upon a subject they have not preresolved on. They want to hammer their nail into you, and if you have the point, still they think you wrong. Dilke will never come at a truth as long as he lives, because he is always trying at it. He is a Godwin Methodist.
I must not forget to mention that your mother show'd me the lock of hair—'tis of a very dark colour for so young a creature. Then it is two feet in length. I shall not stand a barley corn higher. That's not fair ; one ought to go on growing as well as others. At the end of this sheet I shall stop for the present and send it off. You may expect another letter immediately after it. As I never know the day of the month but by chance, I put here that this is the 24th September.
I would wish you here to stop your ears, for I have a word or two to say to your wife.
My dear Sister-In the first place I must quarrel with you for sending me such a shabby piece of paper, though that is in some degree made up for by the beautiful impression of the seal. You should like to know what I was doing the first of May. Let me see—I cannot recollect. I have all the Examiners ready to send—they will be a great treat to you when they reach you. I shall pack them up when my business with Abbey has come to a good conclusion, and the remittance is on the road to you. I have dealt round your best wishes like a pack of cards, but being always given to cheat myself, I have turned up ace. You see I am making game of you. · I see you are not all happy in that America. England, however, would not be over happy for you if you were here. Perhaps 'twould be better to be teased here than there. I must preach patience to you both. No step hasty or injurious to you must be taken. You say let one large sheet be all to
You will find more than that in different parts of this packet for you. Certainly, I have been caught in rains. A catch in the rain occasioned my last sore throat; but as for red-haired girls, upon my word, I do not recollect ever having seen one. Are you quizzing me or Miss Waldegrave when you talk of promenading? As for pun-making, I wish it was as good a trade as pin-making. There is very little business of that sort going on now. We struck for wages, like the Manchester weavers, but to no purpose. So we are all out of employ. I am more lucky than some, you see, by having an opportunity of exporting a few-getting into a little
foreign trade, which is a comfortable thing. I wish one could get change for a pun in silver currency. I would give three and a half any night to get into Drury pit, but they won't ring at all. No more will notes you will say ; but notes are different things, though they make together a pun-note as the term goes.
If I were your son, I shouldn't mind you, though you rapt me with the scissors. But, Lord ! I should be out of favour when the little un be comm’d. You have made an uncle of me, you have, and I don't know what to make of myself. I suppose next there will be a nevey. You say in my last, write directly. I have not received your letter above ten days. The thought of your little girl puts me in mind of a thing I heard a Mr. Lamb say. A child in arms was passing by towards its mother, in the nurse's
Lamb took hold of the long clothes, saying: Where, God bless me, where does it leave off ?”
Saturday (September 25]. If you would prefer a joke or two to anything else, I have two for you, fresh hatched, just ris, as the bakers' wives say by the rolls. The first I played off on Brown; the second I played on myself. Brown, when he left me, “Keats,” says he, “my good fellow" (staggering upon his left heel and fetching an irregular pirouette with his right); "Keats," says he (depressing his left eyebrow and elevating his right one), though by the way at the moment I did not know which was the right one; “Keats," says he (still in the same posture, but furthermore both his hands in his waistcoat pockets and putting out his stomach), “Keats—my-go-o-ood fell0-0-ooh,” says he (interlarding his exclamation with certain ventriloquial parentheses),—no, this is all a lieHe was as sober as a judge, when a judge happens to be sober, and said : “Keats, if any letters come for me, do not forward them, but open them and give me the marrow of them in a few words.” At the time I wrote my first to him no letter had arrived. I thought I would invent one, and as I had not time to manufacture a long one, I dabbed off a short one, and that was the reason of the joke succeeding beyond my expectations. Brown let his house to a Mr. Benjamin—a Jew. Now, the water which furnishes the house is in a tank, sided with a composition of lime, and the lime impregnates the water unpleasantly. Taking advantage of this circumstance, I pretended that Mr. Benjamin had written the following short note
Sir—By drinking your damn'd tank water I have got the gravel. What reparation can you make to me and my family?
By a fortunate hit, I hit upon his right-heathen name—his right pronomen. Brown in consequence, it appears, wrote to the surprised Mr. Benjamin the following
Sir-I cannot offer you any remuneration until your gravel shall have formed itself into a stone—when I will cut you with pleasure.
This of Brown's Mr. Benjamin has answered, insisting on an explanation of this singular circumstance. B. says: “When I read your letter and his following, I roared ; and in came Mr. Snook, who on reading them seem’d likely to burst the hoops of his fat sides.” So the joke has told well.
Now for the one I played on myself. I must first give you the scene and the dramatis personæ. There are an old major and his youngish wife here in the next apartments to me. His bedroom door opens at an angle with my sitting-room door. Yesterday I was reading as demurely as a parish clerk, when I heard a rap at the door. I got up and opened it; no one was to be seen. I listened, and heard some one in the major's room. Not content with this, I went upstairs and down, looked in the cupboards and watch'd. At last I set myself to louder rap.
read again, not quite so demurely, when there came a
I was determined to find out who it was. I looked out; the staircases were all silent.
“ This inust be the major's wife," said I. “At all events I will see the truth.” So I rapt me at the major's door and went in, to the utter surprise and confusion of the lady, who was in reality there. After a little explanation, which I can no more describe than fly, I made my retreat from her, convinced of my mistake. She is to all appearance a silly body, and is really surprised about it. She must have been, for I have discovered that a little girl in the house was the rapper. I assure you she has nearly made me sneeze. If the lady tells tits, I shall put a very grave and moral face on the matter with the old gentleman, and make his little boy a present of a humming top.
[Monday, September 27.] My dear George--This Monday morning, the 27th, I have received your last, dated 12th July. you have not heard from England for three months. Then my letter from Shanklin, written, I think, at the end of June, has not reach'd you. You shall not have cause to think I neglect you. I have kept this back a little time in expectation of hearing from Mr. Abbey. You will say I might have remained in town to be Abbey's messenger in these affairs. That I offered him, but he in his answer convinced me that he was anxious to bring the business to an issue. He observed, that by being himself the agent in the whole, people might be more expeditious. You say you have not heard for three months, and yet your letters have the tone of knowing how our affairs are situated, by which I conjecture I acquainted you with them in a letter previous to the Shanklin one. That I may not have done. To be certain, I will here state that it is in consequence of Mr. Jennings threatening a chancery suit that you have been kept from the receipt of monies, and myself deprived of any help from Abbey. I am glad you say you keep up