James Street: Monday Night.
Though the Dr. and I had respectively ordered Juvenal to be sent to us the moment it appeared, yet your active kindness has, with me, anticipated the plodding industry of the bookseller. I accept your present with the sincerest pleasure and shall ever regard it among my choicest possessions.
I fell on it immediately, and, without removing my eye for an instant from the page, read, shall I say devoured? the six first satires — more I could not do — nor do I expect to be able to distinguish an "a" from a "b" for the next twenty-four hours.
In simplicity and truth I am delighted with you; for the haste and imperfection of which you speak, I see nothing but freedom, spirit, and vigour: your anxiety I place to the score of modesty; it is surely not necessary, but I do not condemn it. Would you could impart a little of it, where it is really needed! "But fools rush in," you know. Expect to hear nothing of the Introduction and Notes, for I have not read a syllable of them yet.
I am amazed at the facility (to say nothing of the elegance) with which you compose; though Ireland, who regards you with great affection, had, in some measure, prepared me for it. Your morning's amusement would occupy me seriously for a week — and Jove only knows what it would be after all. And have you the conscience, with all this ease and spirit and learning and extensive reading, to call upon me to improve your trial? pro pudor!
No, no; you must look upon me as an old post-horse: what with switching and spurring I might perhaps perform a short stage; but should be mighty stiff after it, and not in a travelling condition for some time. Do you recollect that I once said "mox in reluct:" &c. I had then no bad idea, and, as I thought, not unproductive of useful fun. It was a work on the plan of "Le chef-d'oeuvre d'un Inconnu," that genuine piece of French humour. I had written the life of my "Hero," containing, with great pomposity, not one accident that does not happen to every clown every day of his life; I had also composed a poem — oh such a poem! I do not think "Jack Horner" came within a league of it; and amassed a vast quantity of illustrations "after the manner" of all sorts of people, to render every clear point incomprehensible; and many other pretty things. When I had done all this, "an exposition of idleness," as Bottom says — not your friend Flatbottom Urgius whose various reading is very good — but an "exposition of idleness" came upon me, and before I recovered my activity, a storm or robbery, call it which you will, "shook down my mellow hangings." To secure my precious arcana I wisely put them within an old chessboard, taking care to secure them with a string that, like Styx, went nine times round it. "If you have tears, prepare to shed them now." In changing houses, this casket, to which that of Alexander was but a tin canister, was conveyed out of the cart that bore the curta supellex. I consoled myself in my distress by reflecting on the disappointment of the miserable thief of a rascal when he opened his purchase. But why do I tell you this cock and bull story? Firstly, that you may take up my design — you have fifty times more talents for it than I had in my best days; and surely the harvest is richer than ever — et quando uberior? — O what giggling might you have at the Germans! to say nothing of the home produce.
My valued friends in Gower Street told me of your removal to Cambridge: on this I felicitate you, and, let me add, the world, most sincerely; for you will certainly have more time at command. I thank you for your congratulations; presuming that you allude to the lottery. Nothing is yet settled, but I believe some good is en train. Down on your knees and be thankful that you see land at last. The watchman is now bellowing just two o'clock. With the sincerest esteem,
I remain your obliged and faithful friend,