Letter to Agnes McLehose, 24 January 1788

“Unlavish Wisdom never works in vain”..!
I have been tasking my reason, Clarinda, why a woman, who for native genius, poignant wit, strength of mind, generous sincerity of soul, and the sweetest female tenderness, is without a peer; and whose personal charms have few, very, very few parallels, among her sex; why, or how she should fall to the blessed lot of a poor hairumscairum Poet, whom Fortune has kept for her particular use to wreak her temper on, whenever she was in ill-humour.

One time I conjectured that as Fortune is the most capricious jade ever known; she may have taken, not a fit of remorse, a paroxysm of whim, to raise the poor devil out of the mire, where he had so often and so conveniently served her as a stepping-stone, and give him the most glorious boon she ever had in her gift, merely for the maggot’s sake, to see how his fool head and his fool heart will bear it.

At other times I was vain enough to think that Nature, who has a great deal to say with Fortune, had given the coquettish goddess some such hint as, “Here is a paragon of Female Excellence, whose equal, in all my former conposItions, I never was lucky enough to hit on, and despair of ever doing so again; you have cast her rather in the shades of life; there is a certain Poet, of my making; amongst your frolicks, it would not be amiss to attach him to this master-piece of my hand, to give her that immortality amongst mankind which no woman of any age ever more deserv’d, and which few Rhymesters of this age are better able to confer.”

Evening, 9 o’clock I am here, absolutely unfit to finish my letter-pretty hearty after a bowl, which has been constantly plied since dinner, till this moment.

I have been with Mr. Schetki, the musician, and he has set it finely. -1 have no distinct ideas of any thing, but that I have drunk your health twice tonight, and that you are all my soul holds dear in this world.-


Published in: on January 24, 2009 at 9:44 am  Leave a Comment  

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