William Jackson of Exeter

Thomas Gainsborough to William Jackson of Exeter, 4 June [1777?]; Jackson, Autobiography, The Leisure Hour (1882) 720.

My dear Jackson, — I am much obliged to you for your last letter and the lessons received before. I think I now begin to see a little into the nature of modulation and the introduction of sharps and flats, and when we meet you shall hear me play extempore. My friend Abel has been to visit me, but he made but a short stay, being obliged to go to Paris for a month or six weeks, after which he has promised to come again. There never was a poor wretch so fond of harmony with so little knowledge of it, so that what you have done is pure charity.

I'm sick of portraits, and wish very much to take my viol da gam, and walk off to some sweet village where I can paint landskips, and enjoy the fag-end of life in quietness and ease. But these fine ladies, with their tea-drinkings, dancings, husband-huntings, &c. &c., will job me out of the last ten years, and I fear miss getting husbands too.

But we can say nothing to these things, you know, Jackson; we must jog on, and be content with the jingling of the bells only. I hate kicking up a dust and being confined in harness, to follow the track whilst others ride in the wagon, under cover, stretching their legs in the straw at ease, and gazing at green trees and blue skies without half my taste. That's hard. My comfort is that I have five viol da gambas, three sayes, and two barak normans.

Adieu, dear Jackson, and

Believe me ever and sincerely yours,

Thos. Gainsborough.

Bath, June 4th.