To John Hamilton Reynolds (Oxford, September 21th, 1817)
Oxford, Sunday Morn [September 21, 1817].
My dear Reynolds
So you are determined to be my mortal foe—draw a Sword at me, and I will forgive—Put a Bullet in my Brain, and I will shake it out as a dew-drop from the Lion’s Mane—put me on a Gridiron, and I will fry with great complacency—but—oh, horror! to come upon me in the shape of a Dun! Send me bills! as I say to my Tailor, send me Bills and I’ll never employ you more. However, needs must, when the devil drives: and for fear of “before and behind Mr. Honeycomb” I’ll proceed. I have not time to elucidate the forms and shapes of the grass and trees; for, rot it! I forgot to bring my mathematical case with me, which unfortunately contained my triangular Prism so that the hues of the grass cannot be dissected for you.
For these last five or six days, we have had regularly a Boat on the Isis, and explored all the streams about, which are more in number than your eye-lashes. We sometimes skim into a Bed of rushes, and there become naturalised river-folks,—there is one particularly nice nest, which we have christened “Reynolds’s Cove,” in which we have read Wordsworth and talked as may be. I think I see you and Hunt meeting in the Pit.—What a very pleasant fellow he is, if he would give up the sovereignty of a Room pro bono. What Evenings we might pass with him, could we have him from Mrs. H. Failings I am always rather rejoiced to find in a man than sorry for; they bring us to a Level. He has them, but then his makes-up are very good. He agrees with the Northern Poet in this, “He is not one of those who much delight to season their fireside with personal talk”—I must confess however having a little itch that way, and at this present moment I have a few neighbourly remarks to make. The world, and especially our England, has, within the last thirty years, been vexed and teased by a set of Devils, whom I detest so much that I almost hunger after an Acherontic promotion to a Torturer, purposely for their accommodation. These devils are a set of women, who having taken a snack or Luncheon of Literary scraps, set themselves up for towers of Babel in languages, Sapphos in Poetry, Euclids in Geometry, and everything in nothing. Among such the name of Montague has been pre-eminent. The thing has made a very uncomfortable impression on me. I had longed for some real feminine Modesty in these things, and was therefore gladdened in the extreme on opening the other day, one of Bailey’s Books—a book of poetry written by one beautiful Mrs. Philips, a friend of Jeremy Taylor’s, and called “The Matchless Orinda—” You must have heard of her, and most likely read her Poetry—I wish you have not, that I may have the pleasure of treating you with a few stanzas—I do it at a venture—You will not regret reading them once more. The following, to her friend Mrs. M. A. at parting, you will judge of.
I have examin’d and do find,
Of all that favour me
There’s none I grieve to leave behind
But only, only thee.
To part with thee I needs must die,
Could parting sep’rate thee and I.
But neither Chance nor Complement
Did element our Love;
’Twas sacred sympathy was lent
Us from the Quire above.
That Friendship Fortune did create,
Still fears a wound from Time or Fate.
Our chang’d and mingled Souls are grown
To such acquaintance now,
That if each would resume their own,
Alas! we know not how.
We have each other so engrost,
That each is in the Union lost.
And thus we can no Absence know,
Nor shall we be confin’d;
Our active Souls will daily go
To learn each others mind.
Nay, should we never meet to Sense,
Our Souls would hold Intelligence.
Inspired with a Flame Divine
I scorn to court a stay;
For from that noble Soul of thine
I ne’re can be away.
But I shall weep when thou dost grieve;
Nor can I die whil’st thou dost live.
By my own temper I shall guess
At thy felicity,
And only like my happiness
Because it pleaseth thee.
Our hearts at any time will tell
If thou, or I, be sick, or well.
All Honour sure I must pretend,
All that is good or great;
She that would be Rosania’s Friend,
Must be at least compleat.
If I have any bravery,
’Tis cause I have so much of thee.
Thy Leiger Soul in me shall lie,
And all thy thoughts reveal;
Then back again with mine shall flie,
And thence to me shall steal.
Thus still to one another tend;
Such is the sacred name of Friend.
Thus our twin-Souls in one shall grow,
And teach the World new Love,
Redeem the Age and Sex, and show
A Flame Fate dares not move:
And courting Death to be our friend,
Our Lives together too shall end.
A Dew shall dwell upon our Tomb
Of such a quality,
That fighting Armies, thither come,
Shall reconciled be.
We’ll ask no Epitaph, but say
Orinda and Rosania.
In other of her poems there is a most delicate fancy of the Fletcher kind—which we will con over together. So Haydon is in Town. I had a letter from him yesterday. We will contrive as the winter comes on—but that is neither here nor there. Have you heard from Rice? Has Martin met with the Cumberland Beggar, or been wondering at the old Leech-gatherer? Has he a turn for fossils? that is, is he capable of sinking up to his Middle in a Morass? How is Hazlitt? We were reading his Table last night. I know he thinks him self not estimated by ten people in the world—I wish he knew he is. I am getting on famous with my third Book—have written 800 lines thereof, and hope to finish it next Week. Bailey likes what I have done very much. Believe me, my dear Reynolds, one of my chief layings-up is the pleasure I shall have in showing it to you, I may now say, in a few days. I have heard twice from my Brothers, they are going on very well, and send their Remembrances to you. We expected to have had notices from little-Hampton this morning—we must wait till Tuesday. I am glad of their Days with the Dilkes. You are, I know, very much teased in that precious London, and want all the rest possible; so I shall be contented with as brief a scrawl—a Word or two, till there comes a pat hour.
Send us a few of your stanzas to read in “Reynolds’s Cove.” Give my Love and respects to your Mother, and remember me kindly to all at home.
I have left the doublings for Bailey, who is going to say that he will write to you to-morrow.