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To Benjamin Bailey (St. Andrews. Winchester, August 15, 1819)
[Fragment (outside sheet) of a letter addressed to Bailey at St.
Andrews. Winchester, August 15, 1819.]
We removed to Winchester for the convenience of a library, and find it an exceeding pleasant town, enriched with a beautiful Cathedral, and surrounded by a fresh-looking country. We are in tolerably good and cheap lodgings—Within these two months I have written 1500 lines, most of which, besides many more of prior composition, you will probably see by next winter. I have written 2 tales, one from Boccaccio, called the Pot of Basil, and another called St. Agnes’s Eve, on a popular Superstition, and a 3rd called Lamia (half finished). I have also been writing parts of my “Hyperion,” and completed 4 Acts of a tragedy. It was the opinion of most of my friends that I should never be able to write a scene. I will endeavour to wipe away the prejudice—I sincerely hope you will be pleased when my labours, since we last saw each other, shall reach you. One of my Ambitions is to make as great a revolution in modern dramatic writing as Kean has done in acting. Another to upset the drawling of the blue-stocking literary world—if in the Course of a few years I do these two things, I ought to die content, and my friends should drink a dozen of claret on my tomb. I am convinced more and more every day that (excepting the human friend philosopher), a fine writer is the most genuine being in the world. Shakspeare and the Paradise lost every day become greater wonders to me. I look upon fine phrases like a lover. I was glad to see by a passage of one of Brown’s letters, some time ago, from the North that you were in such good spirits. Since that you have been married, and in congratulating you I wish you every continuance of them. Present my respects to Mrs. Bailey. This sounds oddly to me, and I daresay I do it awkwardly enough: but I suppose by this time it is nothing new to you. Brown’s remembrances to you. As far as I know, we shall remain at Winchester for a goodish while.
Ever your sincere friend