Dec. 10, 1796.
I had put my letter into the post rather hastily, not expecting to have to acknowledge another from you so soon. This morning’s present has made me alive again. My last night’s epistle was childishly querulous: but you have put a little life into me, and I will thank you for your remembrance of me, while my sense of it is yet warm; for if I linger a day or two, I may use the same phrase of acknowledgment, or similar, but the feeling that dictates it now will be gone; I shall send you a caput mortuum; not a cor vivens. Thy “Watchman’s,” thy bellman’s verses, I do retort upon thee, thou libellous varlet,—why, you cried the hours yourself, and who made you so proud? But I submit, to show my humility, most implicitly to your dogmas, I reject entirely the copy of verses you reject. With regard to my leaving off versifying  you have said so many pretty things, so many fine compliments, Ingeniously decked out in the garb of sincerity, and undoubtedly springing from a present feeling somewhat like sincerity, that you might melt the most un-muse-ical soul, did you not (now for a Rowland compliment for your profusion of Olivers),—did you not in your very epistle, by the many pretty fancies and profusion of heart displayed in it, dissuade and discourage me from attempting anything after you. At present I have not leisure to make verses, nor anything approaching to a fondness for the exercise. In the ignorant present time, who can answer for the future man? “At lovers’ perjuries Jove laughs,”—and poets have sometimes a disingenuous way of forswearing their occupation. This, though, is not my case. The tender cast of soul, sombred with melancholy and subsiding recollections, is favorable to the Sonnet or the Elegy; but from—
“The sainted growing woof
The teasing troubles keep aloof.”
The music of poesy may charm for a while the importunate, teasing cares of life; but the teased and troubled man is not in a disposition to make that music.
You sent me some very sweet lines relative to Burns; but it was at a time when, in my highly agitated and perhaps distorted state of mind, I thought it a duty to read ’em hastily and burn ’em. I burned all my own verses, all my book of extracts from Beaumont and Fletcher and a thousand sources; I burned a little journal of my foolish passion which I had a long time kept,—
“Noting, ere they past away,
The little lines of yesterday.”
I almost burned all your letters; I did as bad,—I lent ’em to a friend to keep out of my brother’s sight, should he come and make inquisition into our papers; for much as he dwelt upon your conversation while you were among us, and delighted to be with you, it has been, his fashion, ever since to depreciate and cry you down,—you were the cause of my madness, you and your damned foolish sensibility