George had been sitting inattentive seemingly to what was going on,—hatching of negative quantities,—when, suddenly, the name of his old friend Homer stung his pericranicks, and, jumping up, he begged to know where he could meet with Wilkie’s work. “It was a curious fact that there should be such an epic poem and he not know of it; and he must get a copy of it, as he was going to touch pretty deeply upon the subject of the epic,—and he was sure there must be some things good in a poem of eight thousand lines!” I was pleased with this transient return of his reason and recurrence to his old ways of thinking; it gave me great hopes of a recovery, which nothing but your book can completely insure. Pray come on Monday if you can, and stay your own time. I have a good large room, with two beds in it, in the handsomest of which thou shalt repose a-nights, and dream of spheroides. I hope you will understand by the nonsense of this letter that I am not melancholy at the thoughts of thy coming; I thought it necessary to add this, because you love precision. Take notice that our stay at Dyer’s will not exceed eight o’clock, after which our pursuits will be our own. But indeed I think a little recreation among the Bell Letters and poetry will do you some service in the interval of severer studies. I hope we shall fully discuss with George Dyer what I have never yet heard done to my satisfaction,—the reason of Dr. Johnson’s malevolent strictures on the higher species of the Ode.
August 14, 1800.
My head is playing all the tunes in the world, ringing such peals! It has just finished the “Merry Christ Church Bells,” and absolutely is beginning “Turn again, Whittington.” Buz, buz, buz; bum, bum, bum; wheeze, wheeze, wheeze; fen, fen, fen; tinky, tinky, tinky; cr’annch. I shall certainly come to be condemned at last. I have been drinking too much for two days running. I find my moral sense in the last stage of a consumption, and my religion getting faint. This is disheartening, but I trust the devil will not overpower me. In the midst of this infernal torture Conscience is barking and yelping as loud as any of them. I have sat down to read over again, and I think I do begin to spy out something with beauty and design in it. I perfectly accede to all your alterations, and only desire that you had cut deeper, when your hand was in.
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Now I am on the subject of poetry, I must announce to you, who, doubtless, in your remote part of the island, have not heard tidings of so great a blessing, that George Dyer hath prepared two ponderous volumes full of poetry and criticism. They impend over the town, and are threatened to fall in the winter. The first volume contains every sort of poetry except personal satire, which George, in his truly original