it was but a cathedral! The very blackguards here are degenerate, the topping gentry stockbrokers; the passengers too many to insure your quiet, or let you go about whistling or gaping,—too few to be the fine indifferent pageants of Fleet Street. Confining, room-keeping, thickest winter is yet more bearable here than the gaudy months. Among one’s books at one’s fire by candle, one is soothed into an oblivion that one is not in the country; but with the light the green fields return, till I gaze, and in a calenture can plunge myself into St. Giles’s. Oh, let no native Londoner imagine that health and rest and innocent occupation, interchange of converse sweet and recreative study, can make the country anything better than altogether odious and detestable. A garden was the primitive prison, till man with Promethean felicity and boldness luckily sinned himself out of it. Thence followed Babylon, Nineveh, Venice, London; haberdashers, goldsmiths, taverns, playhouses, satires, epigrams, puns,—these all came in on the town part and the thither side of innocence. Man found out inventions. From my den I return you condolence for your decaying sight,—not for anything there is to see in the country, but for the miss of the pleasure of reading a London newspaper. The poets are as well to listen to; anything high may—nay, must be read out; you read it to yourself with an imaginary auditor: but the light paragraphs must be glid over by the proper eye; mouthing mumbles their gossamery substance. ’Tis these trifles I should mourn in fading sight. A newspaper is the single gleam of comfort I receive here; it comes from rich Cathay with tidings of mankind. Yet I could not attend to it, read out by the most beloved voice. But your eyes do not get worse, I gather. Oh, for the collyrium of Tobias enclosed in a whiting’s liver, to send you, with no apocryphal good wishes! The last long time I heard from you, you had knocked your head against something. Do not do so; for your head (I do not flatter) is not a knob, or the top of a brass nail, or the end of a ninepin,—unless a Vulcanian hammer could fairly batter a “Recluse” out of it; then would I bid the smirched god knock, and knock lustily, the two-handed skinker! Mary must squeeze out a line propria manu; but indeed her fingers have been incorrigibly nervous to letter-writing for a long interval. ’T will please you all to hear that, though I fret like a lion in a net, her present health and spirits are better than they have been for some time past; she is absolutely three years and a half younger, as I tell her, since we have adopted this boarding plan.