To Sir W. Elford
No, my dear friend! Not angry at all -- never angry with you -- very much pleased & gratified -- I like to
see all that can be said on both sides of the question X
the question was the legality of the Conduct of Mr. ??? -- particularly when stated so candidly & fairly as you always state things. I don't agree with you though, mind -- & if I were your match at an argument I would pour on your devoted head such a shower bath as you little guessed when you pulled the string--but I am not your match you ought to give me 99 in a game & would reprise me then, as you very well know -- so you will escape jest free -- moreover I am tired of the subject & quite content to let the judges & the
settle the question. The shower bath that I could have let fall is a whole host of books & laws from Alfred to the Bill of Rights. Norman French, Sir, & monkish Latin & English black letter -- there's learning for you! laud the gods for your escape. I am just returned you must know from passing some days with a great political Antiquary Mr. Johnson of Seymour Court. (Did I ever mention him to you?) an intimate friend of Mr. Northmore's & the oracle of the Hampden Club -- & he is showing me his very curious & valuable library pointed out as many authorities for the night of petition as would file ten heads & twenty memories -- So, as is commonly the case with an overlord I dropped them altogether I am come back to my shame pretty nearly as ignorant as I went -- bringing home nothing in my hands but
Sir Robert Howard's rare history of Richard the 2nd
& some Buckinghamshire lace -- nor in my heard? but the aforesaid lace stitch & the sublime conclusion of the Code of Alfred. Do you remember it? Perhaps not. I will write it at a venture -- after recapitulating the Commandments & grounding his own enactments on the Mosaic law he goes on
then came Jesus Christ with his commandment Do as you would be done by which he who follows has no need of any of these laws." Is not this the fine sublime? I was never so much struck with anything in my life -- though the sentiment loses of course by my translation -- Besides these small acquisitions our visit was delightful. Mr. Johnson is an old Northumberland friend -- Papa has known him these five & fourty years -- & a very charming man
he is, mild, moderate, kind & hospitable, full of all sorts of knowledge & with a way of letting it out rather than displaying it which is as delightful as it is singular -- Reformer as he is you would like him. His sister is quite as agreeable in her way -- a slim prim legitimate old maid -- crammed full of facts & names & dates -- much given to housewifing & a little to quackery--but for the rest a very clever & intelligent woman. They live near Marlow. Were you ever there? I think in my life I have never seen so beautiful a country -- The Thames winding through steep declivities covered with beechwood--hills folding in on one another in every possible variety--pretty cottages -- fine seats -- the venerable Gothic towers of Bissham Abbey & the elegant -- country looking town of Marlow which seems all garden--I have never seen anything so beautiful as the view from Seymour Court -- I wanted you to paint it -- I wanted you too to see Mr. Johnson feed his fishes in a large fish pond full of carp and perch. He calls them in a clear high voice (not very loud) Come, Come, Come, & in a moment you see the motion of the water from all quarters of the pond & the fish advancing rapidly to their master's call -- He then throws bread on the water which they suck in with a very peculiar noise & knock about & fight for in a very diverting manner -- the small ones are much bolder than the large -- but they all hear that is certain -- they must hear -- for at the place where he stands they cannot see him & he never throws in the breat till his pensioners are assembled, so that they cannot be guided by the
motion of the water. ? & Isaac Walton you know both think that fishes hear, though modern naturalists have disputed the point. -- Mr. Northmore can give you an account of this if you see him -- by the way I saw his poem of Washington
the other day -- only I have heard so many good & amiable anecdotes of the author that I don't ? to talk about his book. Its a ?emile pity that he did not write it in prose, for its a capital history of the American War if
could read it.
You ask me how I settle my liking Mr. ?'s book with my admiration for
. Just as well my dear Sir William as I settle my friendship for you with your vindication of the Manchester Magistrates
. A little difference of opinion no more impress? a book in my estimation than it does a friend -- I like the visit to Paris though it abuses
-- I like Blackwood's Magazine though it abuses Mr. Haydor -- I like the Quarterly Review though it abuses myself & I like you though you, sinner that you are, sometimes abuse all three. How dare you call me a flatterer in the Horace Walpole question? Take care that you do not force me to prove my words by appealing to that grand jury the public -- Observe that its the nonsense in which you are to much alike -- not the disguisitions on old glass & old china--the nonsense, Sir, -- the matchless nonsense! -- I am sorry that you read the first edition of those letters -- all the names have been destroyed in the second with explanatory notes, & why they were left out in that first edition except to compel people to buy the second no one can guess.
So Mr. Wordsworth is too rechecheré is he? At all events I have changed your opinion of the great Laker if I have not mended it, for remember when here you called him too simple. That extract which I sent you & which I still think exceedingly fine does certainly smell a little of the lamp -- though not more perhaps than Milton does -- Some
day or other (not now -- don't be frightened) I will send you an extract? in his middle style, for which if you should happen not to like it you must find some new Epithet. He is a poet born, my dear friend, though rather in my opinion spoilt in the making. -- In spite of his many splendid passages we don't much differ about Mr. Wordsworth.
Have you seen
Lady Russell's? Life & her early letters to her Husband from the Devonshire M.S.S.? I am afraid I spoke ? about her to you not long ago -- If I did I beg pardon both of her & you. In this publication she is charming -- the long morning cloak the hood & scarf & veil & all that apparatus of widowhood which gave her in her old letters so factitions & made? a look of
sorrow, so much the air of a mute at a funeral -- all these are cast aside & she appears in her natural character a good & happy woman. They are the prettiest love letters I ever saw, & the
Editor's notes discover a tittle
tattling gossiping knowledge of history nothing less than miraculous -- there are some curious letters too from the old Countess of Sunderland
(Waller's Sacharissa who talks of her ancient admirer & her grandchildren both in a breath in a most diverting manner -- Have you seen another very interesting book -- the Poetical Remains of Dr. Leyden
some of his verses appear to me very fine -- particularly the mermaid, which I always thought the finest modern Poem in the minstrelsy of the Border -- the stanzas on an Indian gold coin & that part of the scenes of Infamy which addresses the flower of Chivalry the daisy -- nobody has retold Chaucer's graceful story with half so much grace. -- Is it not very extraordinary that nearly at the same time, the same small district of Scotland should have produced three such men as Leyden
Hogg & Scott? The two first, too, born under every disadvantage of poverty and obscurity -- Did you ever read the Queen's Wake?
The Duke of Wellington's journy into your part of the world occasioned no small consternation in
ours. The new Mayor of Reading a worthy & painstaking Ironmonger yearned for the honour of his presence at his feast -- so he sent to invite him before he asked any other guest determined to be guided by his reply as to what company & preparations he should have--meaning to be quiet & economical if his grace did not come numerous & splendid if he did. Not at home, no answer -- the Mayor sent again -- still no answer -- again -- no answer -- again -- not returned -- at last the Saturday preceding the
Monday's feast had arrived & still no reply. -- This deathlike silence "puzzled" the poor Mayor's "will" -- & slowly & cautiously he began to invite -- Aldermen of course -- lawyers, physicians, & clergy -- but between Country Gentlement & tradesmen he wavered long -- & at last asked neighter -- (Papa had been invited from the first [torn page] a sort of half caste genteel enough for the Duke & popular [torn page, most likely enough for the Aldermen) -- at last between twelve & one on Saturday [torn page] or rather Sunday Morning his worship was called up by an [torn page]??ess from Stratfield Saye to tell him the Duke was returned -- I would send him an answer on Monday. Imagine the poor Mayor's consternation! And what a Sunday he would pass between Hawk & Buzzard!--His worship was in extremity & really obliged to call in an aothecary -- The Answer did come on Monday & was of course a very cruel refusal.
Am I not very vain to write that as you tell me -- first as if I believed all that you say about that notable waste paper, any better? I do not believe above a quarter of what you say, because the other three quarters are one part flattery, one part kindness & one part fancy--if they are not entirely and altogether comprised under the head of Fun--[crossed out word] Believing but a quarter i write, I have only to trust that Mrs. Elford will catch some of your indulgent kindess to hoodwink her to my faults & follies epistolary & real. -- By the bye you call yourself
an old woman sometimes--I should not wonder if you were addressed to hinder my hand--I will tell you how -- This letter is going to be franked? at the quarter Sepions by that prince of blunderers, Mr. Dundas, in company with some other packets--amongst which is one to the Mistress of a National School enquiring into her qualifications--Now if Mr. Dundas's wise head should think it fit to severse the directions (& nothing is less unlikely) how you would both stare! She to get this unintelligible ?, you to be asked if you can mack? and make button holes
out gowns, spell words of three syllables & teach little girls their Catechism!
I shall deliver your message to Mrs. Dickinson verbatim--I have not seen her since my return from Buckinghamshire
-- Adieu my dear friend -- My Father & Mother join in kindest regards & I am ever in spite of all our quarrels most affectionately your's.
M. R. Mitford.
Pray write soon -- I hope Mrs. Elford's health is better. -- You must write soon if you want to hear, for unless you do I don't know what I shall have to say. Pray do. Spiders & him their "dirty work" as Mr. Pope calls it all the year round as I do? --Adieu