For your letter, dear — [Hattie], accept my best thanks,
Rendered long and amusing by virtue of franks,
Though concise they would please, yet the longer the better,
The more news that’s crammed in, more amusing the letter,
All excuses of etiquette nonsense I hate,
Which only are fit for the tardy and late,
As when converse grows flat, of the weather they talk,
How fair the sun shines — a fine day for a walk,
The to politics turn, of Burdett’s reformation,
One declares it would hurt, t’other better the nation,
Will ministers keep? sure they’ve acted quite wrong,
The burden this is of each morning-call song.
So — is going to — you say,
I hope that success her great efforts will pay [--]
That [the Colonel] will see her, be dazzled outright,
And declare he can’t bear to be out of her sight.
Write flaming epistles with love’s pointed dart,
Whose sharp little arrow struck right on his heart,
Scold poor innocent Cupid for mischievous ways,
He knows not how much to laud forth he praise,
That he neither eats, drinks or sleeps for her sake,
And hopes her hard heart some compassion will take,
A refusal would kill him, so desperate his flame,
But he fears, for he knows she is not a common game,
Then praises her sense, wit, discernment and grace,
He’s not one that’s caught by a sly looking face,
Yet that’s too divine — such a black sparkling eye,
At the bare glance of which near a thousand will die;
Thus runs he on meaning but one word in ten,
More than is meant by most such kind of men,
For they’re all alike, take them one with another,
Begging pardon — with the exception of my brother.
Of the drawings you mention much praise I have heard,
Most opinion’s the same, with the difference of word,
Some get a good name by the voice of the growd,
Whilst to poor humble merit small praise is allowed,
As in parliament votes, so in pictures a name,
Oft determines a fate at the altar of fame. —
So on Friday this City’s gay vortex you quit,
And no longer with Doctors and Johnny cats sit —
Now your parcel’s arrived — [Bysshe’s] letter shall go,
I hope all your joy mayn’t be turned into woe,
Experience will tell you that pleasure is vain,
When it promises sunshine how often comes rain.
So when to fond hope every blessing is nigh,
How oft when we smile it is checked with a sigh,
When Hope, gay deceiver, in pleasure is dressed,
How oft comes a stroke that may rob us of rest.
When we think ourselves safe, and the goal near at hand,
Like a vessel just landing, we’re wrecked near the strand,
And though memory forever the sharp pang must feel,
’Tis our duty to bear, and our hardship to steel —
May misfortunes dear Girl, ne’er thy happiness cloy,
May thy days glide in peace, love, comfort and joy,
May thy tears with soft pity for other woes flow,
Woes, which thy tender heart never may know,
For hardships our own, God has taught us to bear,
Though sympathy’s soul to a friend drops a tear.
Oh dear! what sentimental stuff have I written,
Only fit to tear up and play with a kitten.
What sober reflections in the midst of this letter!
Jocularity sure would have suited much better;
But there are exceptions to all common rules,
For this is a truth by all boys learned at schools.
Now adieu my dear — [Hattie] I’m sure I must tire,
For if I do, you may throw it into the fire,
So accept the best love of your cousin and friend,
Which brings this nonsensical rhyme to an end.
April 30, 1810.