I HAVE been guilty of an indelicacy in my last, for which I can hardly forgive myself, but that I know Mrs. Pilkington is too gentle to misunderstand what I wrote without reflection. I could scarcely ever come into her presence, after presuming to mention Mr. White. I stand most genteelly corrected by your answer, Madam, and again assure you, upon my honour, I wrote without thought; and though this is but pleading guilty to one crime, in order to wipe out another, yet I had rather be looked on as giddy than unpolite: in short, Mrs. Pilkington, this is the only excuse I can make. How can you be so blind to your own excellence, to condemn the most pathetic and poetical piece that ever fell from the pen of mortal? I never differed in opinion with you, Madam, except in this;— and I challenge you to show a line in it, that is not replete with that ease, harmony and sweetness, peculiar to Euphrosyne [see note:], and which the Lesbian poetess was never equal to. Certainly, Madam, some tasteless person has put you out of temper with that poem, for were it the work of another, a lady of your candour would undoubtedly commend it.
[Note: Euphrosyne—A name by which Mrs. Pilkington was known among her correspondents.]
You know, Madam, I am neither connoisseur or critic, yet I certainly can feel what enraptures my sense, and melts my soul to a feminine weakness. I have conceived from your poem the warmest esteem for the deluded fair one, and the utmost indignation at her betrayer; and as 'tis more than probable, from what you say, Madam, that the amiable creature is not even now above indigence, your doing me the honour to present to her the two fifty pound notes enclosed herein, will unspeakably oblige me.
To enumerate the many unparalleled beauties of that piece is impossible, though I have read it so frequently as to have it by heart: what you modestly call irregularity, I think the chief spirit of such a performance, as we naturally suppose you wrote in the same style in which the unhappy Lady spoke; and we know that in this, as in painting, bold, free, and masterly strokes, are the evident proofs of an original.
I can't help observing, that the abruptness of the conclusion adds much to the dignity of the piece, though I wish the lady had not carried her resentment so far, as to put him in eternal punishment; since she confesses that the one allotted to him in a wife, was sufficient even for the worst of crimes, and I am heartily of her opinion. The mother was very precipitate to her own destruction; for had she held her tongue, the lady might have passed for a maid with any old bachelor in England, and the good woman have had a handsome revenue to keep the secret inviolable; a task really hard on an old woman.
I assure you, Madam; I should not have said so much on this topic, but I have been labouring to fill a whole sheet of paper with something; but even my nonsense may show Mrs Pilkington, I have sense enough to aspire at the reputation of her
and most obliged
P. S. If you should not readily hear of the lady, do me the favour, Madam, to dispose of the bills as you think proper.