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forbids him to shine any where except upon the carpet, it affords us by far the pleasantest retreat in Olney. We eat, drink, and sleep, where we always did ; but here we spend all the rest of our time, and find that the sound of the wind in the trees, and the singing of birds, are much more agreeable to our ears than the incessant barking of dogs and screaming of children. It is an ob. servation that naturally occurs upon the occasion, and which many other occasions furnish an opportunity to inake, that people long for what they have not, and overlook the good in their posses. sion. This is so true in the present instance, that for years past I should have thought myself happy to enjoy a retirement even less flattering to my natural taste than this in wbich I am now writing; and have often looked wistfully at a snug cottage, which on account of its situation at a distance from noise and disagreeable objects, seemed to promise me all I could wish or expect, so far as happiness may be said to be local; never once adverting to this comfortable nook, which affords me all that could be found in the most sequestered hermitage, with the advantage of having all those accommodations near at hand which no hermitage could possibly afford me.People imagine they should be happy in circumstances, which they would find insupportably burthepsome in less than a week. A man that has been clothed in fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day, envies the peasant under a thatched hovel ; who, in return, envies him as much his palace and his pleasure-ground. Could they change situations, the fine gentleman would find his ceilings were too low, and that his casements admitted too much wind; and that he had po cellar for his wine, and no wine to put in his cellar. These, with a thousand other mortifying deficiencies, would shatter bis romantic project into innumerable fragments in a moment. The clown, at the same time, would find the accession of so much unwieldly treasure an incumbrance quite incompatible with an hour's ease. His choice would be puzzled by variety. He would drink to excess, because he would foresee no end of his abundance; and he would eat himself sick for the same reason. He would have no idea of any other happiness than sensual gra. tification ; would make himself a beast, and die of his good fortune. The rich gentleman had, perhaps, or might have had, if he pleased, at the shortest notice, just such a recess as this; but if he had it, he overlooked it, or, if he had it not, forgot that be might command it whenever he would. The rustic, too, was actually in possession of some blessings, which he was a fool to relinquish, but which he could neither see nor feel, because he had the daily and constant use of them; such as good health, bodily strength, a head and a heart that never ached, and temperance, to the practice of which he was bound by necessity, that, humanly speaking, was a pledge and a security for the continuance of them all.
Thus I have sent you a schoolboy's theme. When I write to you, I do not write without thinking, but always without premeditation : the consequence is, that such thoughts as pass through my head when I am not writing, make the subject of my letters to you.
Johnson sent me lately a sort of apology for his printer's negligence, with his promise of greater diligence for the future. There was need enough of both. I have received but one sheet sivce you left us. Still, indeed, I see that there is time enough before us; but I see likewise that no length of time can be sufficient for the accomplishment of a work that does not go forward. 1 know not yet whether he will add Conversation to those poems already in his hands, nor do I care much. No man ever wrote such quantities of verse, as I have written this last year, with so much indifference about the event, or rather, with so little ambition of public praise. My pieces are such as may possibly be made useful. The more they are approved, the more likely they are to spread, and consequently the more likely to attain the end of usefulness; which, as I said once before, except my present amusement, is the only end I propose. And even in the pursuit of this purpose, commendable as it is in itself, I have not the spur I should once have had ;- my labour must go unrewarded, and as Mr. Ronce said, I am raising a scaffold before a house that others are to live in, and not I.
I have left myself no room for politics, which I thought, when I began, would have been my principal theme. Yours, my dear sir,
WILLIAM COWPER, ESQ. TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ. MY DEAR FRIEND,
Nov. 26, 1781. I THANK you much for your letter, which, without obliging me to travel to Wargrave at a time of year journeying is not very agreeable, has introduced me, in the most commodious manner, to a perfect acquaintance with your neat little garden, your old cottage, and, above all, your most prudent and sagacious landlady. As much as I admire her, I admire much more that philosophical temper with which you seem to treat her; for I know few characters more provoking, to me at least, than the selfish, who are never honest, especially if, while they determine to pick your pocket, they have not ingenuity enough to conceal their purpose. But you are perfectly in the right, and act just as I would endeavour to do on the occasion. You sacrifice every thing to a retreat you admire, and if the natural indolence of my disposition did not forsake me, so would I.
You might as well apologise for sending me forty pounds, as for writing about yourself. Of the two ingredients, I hardly know which made your letter the more agreeable (observe, I do not say the most acceptable). The draft, indeed, was welcome; but, though it was so, yet it did not make me laugh. I laughed heartily at the account you give me of yourself, and your landlady, Dame Saveall, whose picture you have drawn, though not with a flattering hand, yet, I
dare say, with a strong resemblance. As to you, I have never seen so much of you since I saw you in London, where you and I have so often made ourselves merry with each other's humour, yet never gave each other a moment's pain by doing so. We are both bumourists, and it is well for your wife, and my Mrs. Unwin, that they have alike found out the way to deal with us.
More thanks to Mrs. Hill for her intentions. She has the true enthusiasm of a gardener, and I can pity her under her disappointment, having so large a share of that commodity myself. Yours, my dear sir, affectionately,
WILLIAM COWPER, ESQ. TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
Jan. 31, 1782. HAVING thanked you for a barrel of very fine oysters, I should have nothing more to say, if I did not determine to say every thing that may happen to occur. The political world affords us no very agreeable subject at present, nor am I sufficiently conversant with it, to do justice to so magnificent a theme, if it did. A man that lives as I do, whose chief occupation, at this season of the year, is to walk ten times in a day from the fireside to his cucumber-frame and back again, cannot show his wisdom more, if he has any wisdom to show, than by leaving the mysteries of government to the management of persons, in