Life And Letters Of Maria Edgeworth/Volume 1/Letter 84

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EDGEWORTHSTOWN, July 20, 1812.

I am heartily obliged to my dear Sophy—never mind, you need not turn to the direction, it is to Margaret, my dear, though it begins with thanks to Sophy—for being in such haste to relieve my mind from the agony it was in that Fashionable Tales should reach my aunt. I cannot by any form of words express how delighted I am that you are none of you angry with me, and that my uncle and aunt are pleased with what they have read of "The Absentee." I long to hear whether their favour continues to the end and extends to the catastrophe, that dangerous rock upon which poor authors, even after a prosperous voyage, are wrecked, sometimes while their friends are actually hailing them from the shore. I have the Rosamond vase[1] madness so strong upon me, that I am out of my dear bed regularly at half-past seven in the morning, and never find it more than half an hour till breakfast time, so happy am I daubing. On one side I have Ulysses longing to taste Circe's cakes, but saying, "No, thank you," like a very good boy: and on the other side I have him just come home, and the old nurse washing his feet, and his queen fast asleep in her chair by a lamp, which I hope will not set her on fire, though it is, in spite of my best endeavours, so much out of the perpendicular that nothing but a miracle can keep it from falling on Penelope's crown.

Little Pakenham is going on bravely (not two months old), and I am just beginning to write again, and am in "Patronage," and have corrected all the faults you pointed out to me; and Susan, who was a fool, is now Rosamond and a wit.

I suppose you have heard various jeux d'esprit on the marriage of Sir Humphry Davy and Mrs. Apreece? I scarcely think any of them worth copying: the best idea is stolen from the bon mot on Sir John Carr, "The Traveller beknighted."

"When Mr. Davy concluded his last Lecture by saying that we were but in the Dawn of Science, he probably did not expect to be so soon beknighted."

I forget the lines: the following I recollect better:—

To the famed widow vainly bow
Church, Army, Bar, and Navy;
Says she, I dare not take a vow,
But I will take my Davy.

Another my father thinks is better:

Too many men have often seen
Their talents underrated;
But Davy owns that his have been
Duly Appreeciated.

Aug 22.

I enclose a copy of Lovell's letter, which will give my dear aunt exquisite pleasure. His request to my father to pass him over, a prisoner and of precarious health, and make his next brother his heir, shows that if he has suffered he has at least had an opportunity of showing what he is. We shall do all we can to get at Talleyrand or some friend for his exchange. How happy Lady Wellington must be at this glorious victory. Had you in your paper an account of her running as fast as she could to Lord Bury at Lord Bathurst's when he alighted, to learn the first news of her husband! Vive l'enthousiasme! Without it characters may be very snug and comfortable in the world, but there is a degree of happiness which they will never taste, and of which they have no more idea than an oyster can have.


  1. A glass vase which Miss Edgeworth painted for Mrs. Ruxton, in brown, from Flaxman's designs for the Odyssey.