1798 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Parsons

Samuel Rogers to Richard Sharp, Sarah Rogers, 5, 9 November 1798; P. W. Clayden, The Early Life of Samuel Rogers (1887) 345-46, 349-50.



Brighton: 5 Novr. 1798.

My dear Friend,

.... Who but Cumberland could write an epic at a public place? A propos of Miss C. she has written a play and is writing a novel in concert with another girl. Who could have thought it? But your coy girls are up to anything. I wish you could see Matthew. He answers Parson's idea of a perfect man of fashion, and indeed he deserves it. No attitudes, no conceit, very simple and very easy; but after all, men of fashion are mannerists, and all manner is bad. A natural character, manners for ever varying with the thoughts and feelings, how superior to that uniform and monotonous thing called high breeding! You will say I am growing "sensible," and that it comes from living with P. I can assure you I never knew before that I was so unlike him, and indeed, a thousand others who elbow their way on in the world. A hard nature frequently imposes itself on the world for a superior nature. Its confidence seems to confirm its claims, and its insensibility to place it above (and not below) the reach of sufferings by which a feeling and shrinking nature is continually harassed and obstructed in the commerce of life. I never made this stale remark so feelingly to myself as I have done since I came here. I must away, to ride with two pretty women, and then dress for Mr. Hope's dinner and Lord Carrington's ball. You will think me very gay, but I have long found that there is at least as much if not more ennui in society than out of it.

9 Novr. 1798.

.... We live like Gibbon and Deyverdun (in only one respect, I fear), breakfasting separately and dining together, when disengated. We then sometimes indulge ourselves with a "partie carree"; and Mr. Walpole, the Munich minister, and Mr. Gray, our Resident at Dresden, have formed it frequently with us. We have a decent cook, and P.'s Frenchman is just equal to an omelette or a fricassee. P. bathes most furiously, and parades along the cliff in a flannel robe and pantaloons. By some he is taken for the Pope, who has emigrated; by others for a Carthusian friar. Your More returns her best thanks for kind enquiries. She still excites a little notice, and is for ever scampering with the hounds or the ladies. But, adieu! my dear Sarah. I must prepare myself for Lady Clark's supper, where there is to be a general insurrection this evening. Remember me to everybody at Aspleyns and Amersham.

Affectionately yours,

S. R.