1784 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Charlotte Smith

William Hayley to Eliza Hayley, 29 September 1784; Memoirs of William Hayley (1823) 1:330-31.



Did you hear yesterday, that a post-chaise was sent for to convey a lady, suddenly taken ill at Eartham, to her own home? So it was; and this sick lady was no less a personage, than the elegant poetess of Bignor Park. About one o'clock, I was surprised by an exclamation from Nurse, "Lord Sir! there are three strange ladies in the garden." — "Find out who they are." My ambassadress, however, did not return, but bustled about the poor invalid; and when I descended to make farther enquiries, I found the veteran Charlotte Collins, with Mrs. Smith, and her daughter, in a piteous plight, in the parlour.

Our tender sister of Parnassus had been seized with spasms in her stomach, which had obliged her to quit her horse, and creep, like a poor wounded bird, through the garden.

I played the physician with some success; and by a seasonable medicine soon restored the sick Muse. The chaise had been ordered in their first alarm, and as it could not arrive till between four and five, I insisted on their taking a poetical dinner, to which they consented after many apologies.

The fair invalid was sufficiently restored to survey all our walks, and the chaise arriving, they departed between five and six.