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still of the contents of the letter that you enclose. You must give my most respectful compliments to Mr. Reeve, the writer of it, and you must tell him how much I feel myself obliged to him for his own subscription, so handsomely given, and for the readiness with which he gives me also his interest with others. I know not what Mr. Cowper that gentleman can have met at Saffron Walden, and whom he supposes me. A cousin of mine he must have been, but which of my cousins I cannot even conjecture. For my own part I was never there, nor ever had the happiness to be in his company.

You complained of being stupid, and sent to me one of the cleverest letters. I have not complained of being stupid, and have sent you one of the dullest. But it is no matter; I never aim at anything above the pitch of everyday scribble when I write to those I love.

Homer proceeds, my boy. We shall get through in time, and I hope by the time appointed. We are now in the 10th Iliad. I expect the ladies every minute to breakfast, and will be responsible to you for a letter in due time from each. You have their best love. Mine attends the whole army of Donnes at Mattishall Green assembled. How happy should I find myself were I but one of the party! My capering days are over, but do you caper for me, that you may give them some idea of the happiness I should feel were I in the midst of them. I am, my dearest Johnny,



You will remember, I hope, your promised call here in January, or at whatever time you leave Norfolk.

Mrs. Hewitt, Mrs. Balls, Mrs. Bodham, and Kate! May God bless you all together, and yours with you. Amen.

I admire your advertising boards; that which you sent hither is gone to Newport Pagnell to catch as many gudgeons there as will bite, and then it will go to catch others at Woburn. I shall insist on defraying the cost.


Weston, June 1, 1791



Now you may rest. Now I can give you joy of the period of which I gave you hope in my last, the period of all your labours in my service. But this I can foretell you also. That if you persevere in serving your friends at this rate, your life is likely to be a life of labour: yet persevere; your rest will be the sweeter The first paragraph of this letter has been printed before.

hereafter. In the mean time I wish you, if at any time you should find occasion for him, just such a friend as you have proved to me.

I have sent your list, your numerous and splendid list, to Johnson, desiring him to copy it and return it to me, that it may serve me for the correction of the printed copy. I have also given him instructions, according to your desire, to send my Homer as a gift to the willing but insufficient men of Sidney, and have given them a place among their brethren. But some precaution in this case will be expedient. It will be necessary that you should intimate to them or to some of them, by some means or other, that I have actually these gracious intentions toward them, otherwise when they shall receive the volumes there will be danger lest they should think me impertinent, and themselves obliged to pay for them.

I have entered the name of Dr. James, the headmaster of Rugby, since I wrote, and have had a letter from a Mr. Jermyn of Ipswich, offering me his own and the names of two other persons in his neighbourhood; but he made no mention of either first or last payment, though he desired the volumes might be sent immediately on publication. For this reason, and because it was altogether an odd letter, instead of snapping at his proposal, I referred him to Johnson. He may take offence perhaps, and I may lose him and his friends too; but I saw no remedy. Why should not there be book swindlers as well as swindlers of everything else? I have also had a letter from New York, from a certain Dr. Cogswell, unknown to me. He does not write to me on the subject of Homer, I wish he did, but to tell me that my "Task ” has been reprinted in that city, and so forth.

And now, dearest Johnny, I have told thee all the news, and have done it with the very pen I used when you were here, unmended and unrelieved by any other. Learn economy from me.

You promised to be here on the 9th June. Keep your promise if possible, but if anything should happen to alter the day, give us notice, for I cannot bear vain expectations. Give our best love to your aunt and sister, whom we are impatient to see, and may God give you all a good journey hither.

With Mrs. U.'s best love,

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How must I thank and acknowledge the civilities of Mrs. Merrill ?



Weston Underwood, August 27th, 1791 *

If my eyes will serve me to write to you I shall be glad, but certain it is that they will not serve me both to do that, and to read your two letters over before I begin. I must answer them therefore from memory, and if I forget anything material, the fault shall be mended hereafter. You will ask what ails my eyes? I answer that they are very weak and somewhat inflamed, and have never indeed been well since that suffusion of bloody memory that happened when you were here.

Your first letter, I remember, gave me some pleasant notices— such as that of your safe arrival in Norfolk, of the improvement of yours and my dear Catharine's health, and of the good tidings you heard at Cambridge concerning the success of my Homerican labours; all these were pleasant intimations, and for them all I thank you. The little that I have heard about Homer myself, has been equally or more flattering than even Dr. Cheatham's intelligence, so that I have good reason to hope that I have not grubbed the pen in vain, nor studied the old Grecian and how to dress him so long and so intensely, to no purpose. At present I am idle, both on account of my eyes as aforesaid, and because I know not to what to attach myself in particular. Many different plans and projects are recommended to me. Some call aloud for original verse, others for more translation, and others for other things. Providence I hope will direct me in my choice, for other guide I have none, nor wish another.

Elizabeth, the poetess, is arrived, and shall be distributed to all who have claims upon her. I have not read a line of her yet, nor ever shall, unless her type should grow larger, which is not probable, or my eyes stronger.

Mr. Palmer, and Butlin the shoemaker, and Nicols the tailor shall be paid the first time I go to Olney, which will be either today or on Monday. As you went away unpaying, so you went away unpaid. I am in your debt for a hundred Apollos at least, and I know not what besides. I shall have a better memory, I hope, for these matters when I see you next. God bless you, my dearest Johnny.

You say well, my dearest Kate, that when you write to me you are afraid of you know not what. I am only a poor author, my dear, not a critic. You cannot guess what pleasure it gives me that your health is so much improved. God grant the continuance of it, for his gift it is, since means and medicines are chaff always without

* Part of the second paragraph of this letter has been printed before, incorrectly dated "Aug. 9th."


his blessing. Give my kindest love to Coz Balls. I am truly sorry that she has been so much indisposed. I thank her for Hayley's 'Poems,' and will take good care of it, as well as of our great grandsire's poems which I forgot to restore to her. May you soon find yourselves comfortably settled at Dereham, and meet with no more such landlords as you found in Bucks. Adieu, my dearest Kate; my love to your goldfinch, and tell him I rejoice that Norfolk air agrees with him.

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Mrs. Unwin's health is much as usual, and she is always mindful of you all, giving the best proof of it by never ceasing to pray for you. Adieu. I am affectionately, and most affectionately, with my best remembrances to Mr. and Mrs. Bodham,



The letter to Dr. Kerr goes to-morrow, and could not go sooner. No fee will accompany it, because none is wanted.

Johnny seems to forget Kitche's promised coat, but he does not forget it. His rags remind him of it continually.

P.S.-My Cousin Balls' note did not come to hand till the day after you were gone, and then I found it at Mr. Palmer's shop, where I called with a letter for the post.


Weston Underwood, Friday, February 3rd, 1792


I know not that I shall even now be able to make a letter of this, so short my mornings seem, and I have such a multiplicity of employments, but the consciousness of long arrears to my friends at Dereham begins to be so distressing to me, that I thrust everything aside for the sake of discharging them, if it be indeed possible that I should find opportunity to do so.

I have an excuse, however, for not having written sooner, the force of which you will allow. You must understand, then, that to-morrow it will be seven weeks since Mrs. Unwin was taken in appearance dangerously ill, and I have consequently myself been more or less in a state of almost continual apprehension. Her disorder was sudden, and, of course, alarming; a giddiness of the most violent kind, attended for some minutes with a total disability to stand or even to set her foot properly under her. She called to me to save her while she was in the act of falling, and I was with her just soon enough to prevent her coming to the ground. From that day to this she has indeed been in a state of recovery, but so extremely slow and gradual that the difference made by a whole week is

hardly perceptible. Weak, however, as she still is, she has so far regained her strength as to be able, when the weather will permit, to take two or three turns in the walk, and is there at this moment —no, not at this moment, for she is this moment come in again— and I shall walk with her myself as soon as my writing hour is


I know, my Kate, that you will allow, as I have already said, the validity of this apology. It is indeed but too substantial, and if the Queen herself were my correspondent I should account it good enough to offer even to her Majesty. If you did but know how often I think of you all, you would be satisfied whether I wrote or not; but for that, perhaps, you would not give me implicit credit were I to be always silent. Behold a letter, therefore, such as it is, once more to assure you that I love you.

Tell Johnny that I shall be most happy to see him whenever it will suit him to visit Weston again. Tell him also that, though I lose almost all the pleasure of it in my anxiety for Mrs. Unwin, I receive continually fresh testimonies, some by letter and some by report, of the success of my Homer. I mention it merely because I know that he and you and all my Norfolk friends will be gratified by the intelligence.

Lady Hesketh sends her love to him, and bids me say that she will address a letter to the Knight of the Belfry as soon as possible.

Remember me affectionately to Cousin Balls. I am happy to find that you and your brother, whom I love at my heart, continue still to enjoy the benefit of Dr. Kerr's prescription. You are all three, I hope, well and happy in your new habitation. Write to tell me so, give my love to our friends at Mattishall when you see them, and accept our united best remembrances.

Adieu, my dearest Kate,

Yours very affectionately,




Weston Underwood, March 31st, 1792

I have this moment finished a letter to your namesake the bookseller, and have reported to him your complaints of his silence and his neglect to send the three sets of my poems that you ordered.

Things sometimes fall out more critically without any management of ours than all our management would effect. So it has happened in the case of your kind present to me and little Tom.


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