Rev. Joseph Spence

Robert Dodsley to Joseph Spence, 22 October 1748; Spence, Anecdotes, ed. Singer (1820) 426-27.


While you are planting the Groves, directing the Walks, and forming the Bowers that are in all probability to afford you a Retreat for the whole of your future Life; you seem like a man arriv'd at the end of his Labours, and just beginning to enjoy the fruits of them. If I did not love you, I should certainly envy; but as it is, I heartily rejoice; and only wish I was without to partake of the Pleasure, which I am sensible you must at present enjoy. But here am I, ty'd down to the World, immerst in Business, with very little Prospect of ever being able to disengage myself. 'Tis true, my Business is of such a Nature, and so agreeable to the Turn of my Mind, that I have often very great Pleasure in the Pursuit of it. I don't know but I may sometimes be as much entertain'd in planning a Book, as you are in laying out the Plan of a Garden. Yet I don't know how it is, I cannot help languishing after that Leisure which perhaps if it was in my possession I should not be able to enjoy. I am afraid the Man who would truly relish and enjoy Retirement, must be previously furnish'd with a large and various Stock of Ideas, which he must be capable of turning over in his own Mind, of comparing, varying, and contemplating upon with Pleasure; he must so thoroughly have seen the World as to cure him of being over fond of it; and he must have so much good Sense and Virtue in his own Breast, as to prevent him from being disgusted with his own Reflections, or uneasy in his own Company. I am sorry to feel myself not so well qualify'd for this sacred Leisure as I could wish, in any one respect; but glad I have a Friend from whose Example I cannot but hope I shall be able to improve.