Letter to Agnes McLehose, January 19 1788

There is no time, my Clarinda, when the conscious thrilling chords of Love and Friendship give such delight, as in the pensive hours of what our favourite Thomson calls, “Philosophic Melancholy.”

The sportive insects who bask in the sunshine of Prosperity, or the worms that luxuriant crawl amid their ample wealth of earth, they need no Clarinda; they would despise Sylvander- if they durst.

– The family of Misfortune, a numerous group of brothers and sisters! they need a resting-place to their souls: unnoticed, often condemned by the world; in some degree perhaps condemned by themselves, they feel the full enjoyment of ardent love, delicate tender endearments, mutual esteem and mutual reliance.-

In this light I have often admired Religion.-In proportion as we are wrung with grief, or distracted with anxiety, the ideas of a compassionate Deity, an Almighty Protector, are doubly dear.-
” ‘Tis this, my friend, that streaks our morning bright;
” ‘Tis this that gilds the horrors of our night”

I have been this morning taking a peep thro’, as Young finely says, “the dark postern of time long elaps’d;” and you will easily guess, ’twas a rueful prospect.-What a tissue of thoughtlessness, weakness and folly!

My life reminded me of a ruin’d temple: what strength, what proportion in some parts! what unsightly gaps, what prostrate ruins III others! I kneele down before the Father of mercies and said, “Father, I have sinned against Heaven and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son!” I rose, eased and strengthened.-I despise the superstition of a Fanatic, but I love the Religion of a Man. – “The future,” said I to myself, “is still before me: there let me-

On Reason build Resolve,
“That column of true majesty in Man!”

“I have difficulties many to encounter,” said I; “but they are not “absolutely insuperable: and where is firmness of mind shewn, but “in exertion? mere declamation, is bombast rant.-Besides, wherever I am, or in whatever situation I may be-

-” ‘Tis nought to me:
“Since God is ever present, ever felt, “In the void waste as in the city full;
“And where He vital breathes, there must be joy!”

Saturday Night-half after ten

What luxury of bliss I was enjoying this time yesternight! My everdearest Clarinda, you have stolen away my soul but you have refined, you have exalted it; you have given it a stronger sense of Virtue, and a stronger relish for Piety. -Clarinda, first of your Sex, if ever I am the veriest wretch on earth to forget you; if ever your lovely image is effaced from my soul,

“May I be lost, no eye to weep my end;
“And find no earth that’s base enough to bury me!

What trifling silliness is the childish fondness of the every day children of the world! ’tis the unmeaning toying of the younglings of the fields and forests: but where Sentiment and Fancy unite their sweets; where Taste and Delicacy refine; where Wit adds the flavour, and Good-sense gives strength and spirit to all, what a delicious draught is the hour of tender endearment! Beauty and Grace in the arms of Truth and Honor, in all the luxury of mutual love!

Clarinda, have you ever seen the picture realized? not in all its very richest colouring: but

“Hope thou Nurse of young Desire;
“Fairy promiser of joy”

Last night, Clarinda, but for one slight shade, was the glorious Picture-

Look’d, gayly smiling on; while rosy Pleasure
Hid young Desire amid her flowery wreath,
And pour’d her cup luxuriant; mantling high,
The sparkling heavenly vintage, Love and Bliss!

Clarinda, when a Poet and Poetess of Nature’s making, two of Nature’s noblest productions! when they drink together of the same “cup of Love and Bliss”

-Attempt not, ye coarser stuff of Humannature, profanely to measure enjoyment ye never can know!

Goodnight, my dear Clarinda!


Published in: on January 19, 2009 at 9:38 am  Leave a Comment  

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