Friday, August 10, 1711.
‘Animum curis nunc huc nunc dividit illuc.’
When I acquaint my Reader, that I have many other Letters not yet acknowledged, I believe he will own, what I have a mind he should believe, that I have no small Charge upon me, but am a Person of some Consequence in this World. I shall therefore employ the present Hour only in reading Petitions, in the Order as follows.
‘I have lost so much Time already, that I desire, upon the Receipt hereof, you would sit down immediately and give me your Answer. And I would know of you whether a Pretender of mine really loves me.
As well as I can I will describe his Manners. When he sees me he is always talking of Constancy, but vouchsafes to visit me but once a Fortnight, and then is always in haste to be gone.
When I am sick, I hear, he says he is mightily concerned, but neither comes nor sends, because, as he tells his Acquaintance with a Sigh, he does not care to let me know all the Power I have over him, and how impossible it is for him to live without me.
When he leaves the Town he writes once in six Weeks, desires to hear from me, complains of the Torment of Absence, speaks of Flames, Tortures, Languishings and Ecstasies. He has the Cant of an impatient Lover, but keeps the Pace of a Lukewarm one.
You know I must not go faster than he does, and to move at this rate is as tedious as counting a great Clock. But you are to know he is rich, and my Mother says, As he is slow he is sure; He will love me long, if he loves me little: But I appeal to you whether he loves at all
Your Neglected, Humble Servant,
All these Fellows who have Mony are extreamly sawcy and cold; Pray, Sir, tell them of it.
‘I have been delighted with nothing more through the whole Course of your Writings than the Substantial Account you lately gave of Wit, and I could wish you would take some other Opportunity to express further the Corrupt Taste the Age is run into; which I am chiefly apt to attribute to the Prevalency of a few popular Authors, whose Merit in some respects has given a Sanction to their Faults in others.
Thus the Imitators of Milton seem to place all the Excellency of that sort of Writing either in the uncouth or antique Words, or something else which was highly vicious, tho’ pardonable, in that Great Man.
The Admirers of what we call Point, or Turn, look upon it as the particular Happiness to which Cowley, Ovid and others owe their Reputation, and therefore imitate them only in such Instances; what is Just, Proper and Natural does not seem to be the Question with them, but by what means a quaint Antithesis may be brought about, how one Word may be made to look two Ways, and what will be the Consequence of a forced Allusion.
Now tho’ such Authors appear to me to resemble those who make themselves fine, instead of being well dressed or graceful; yet the Mischief is, that these Beauties in them, which I call Blemishes, are thought to proceed from Luxuriance of Fancy and Overflowing of good Sense: In one word, they have the Character of being too Witty; but if you would acquaint the World they are not Witty at all, you would, among many others, oblige,
Your Most Benevolent Reader,
‘I am a young Woman, and reckoned Pretty, therefore you’ll pardon me that I trouble you to decide a Wager between me and a Cousin of mine, who is always contradicting one because he understands Latin. Pray, Sir. is Dimpple spelt with a single or a double P?‘