1754 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Hester Mulso Chapone

Susanna Duncombe to Hester Mulso Chapone, 1754 ca.; Correspondence of Samuel Richardson, ed. Barbauld (1804) 2:216-18.



Your charming epistle, your tender and affectionate expressions of friendship, gave my heart more delight than it has felt of a long time. Oh my dear Hecky, could I say with truth, that our souls are sister souls, how pleased should I be with myself! — how sweet the idea of an irresistable sympathy between us!

And so you are not alarmed, neither for our lovely favourite nor for her and our beloved Sir Charles; yet, indeed, I am more so now than at first, for Harriet has dreamt, my dear, such foreboding dreams, that were I superstitious, I should not rest for terrible apprehensions about her fate! However, you know, I have no faith in dreams, not so much as you have; and I verily believe Mr. Richardson has been spiteful enough to send these shocking aerial visions, which discompose the gentle slumbers of the most amiable of her sex, only to revenge himself on you and I, two saucy girls that pretend to be so sure that happiness must reward the virtue and heroic sufferings of the exalted lovers, for whom we interest ourselves so strenuously; let us remember he can cut their thread of life at pleasure; their destiny is in his hands, and I am not certain that our security may not provoke him to destroy them, for that has set his imagination on the glow; and he can draw instructions equally from every catastrophe, and can wind nature as he pleases; she presents him with events for every purpose, so probable, that we shall think no other than the chosen fortune could have attended them with propriety.

Every paragraph of your letter gives me very great satisfaction, save only one, and for that one, I could almost, nay I can quite, chide my dear Miss Mulso, who makes me repent of the frankness of my heart, which told her of the preface I had written — a silly girl was I to do so, and too severely punished for my folly, if she persists in a refusal of that gratification, to her papa Richardson.

By the time this reaches you, the happy visit to Deal will be over, and the sweet recollections and reflections concerning improving conversations, agreeable walks, and every pleasing employment, when there, will dwell upon your mind. Whilst I am writing this, methinks I see the two women most formed to give each other the highest satisfaction, enjoying, in each other's company, the inexpressible delight of friendly communications, equally sensible, benevolent, and affectionate. Enough disinterested is my heart to share in this felicity — I rejoice at but envy it not; though would I choose on earth the spot on which I now would pass some hours, it should be that where I could join Miss C— and Miss Mulso,

Your's, &c.

S. HIGHMORE.