enters (for he is used to the family, and sees them
play at cards) he set up a rattle like a watchman’s
in London, or near as loud, and reared up a head, from
the midst of these folds, like a toad, and shook his
head, and showed every sign a snake can show of irritation.
I had the foolish curiosity to strike the wires with
my finger, and the devil flew at me with his toad-mouth
wide open: the inside of his mouth is quite white.
I had got my finger away, nor could he well have bit
me with his big mouth, which would have been certain
death in five minutes. But it frightened me so
much that I did not recover my voice for a minute’s
space. I forgot, in my fear, that he was secured.
You would have forgot too, for ’t is incredible
how such a monster can be confined in small gauzy-looking
wires. I dreamed of snakes in the night.
I wish to Heaven you could see it. He absolutely
swelled with passion to the bigness of a large thigh.
I could not retreat without infringing on another box,
and just behind, a little devil, not an inch from
my back, had got his nose out, with some difficulty
and pain, quite through the bars! He was soon
taught better manners. All the snakes were curious,
and objects of terror; but this monster, like Aaron’s
serpent, swallowed up the impression of the rest.
He opened his cursed mouth, when he made at me, as
wide as his head was broad. I hallooed out quite
loud, and felt pains all over my body with the fright.
I have had the felicity of hearing George Dyer read
out one book of “The Farmer’s Boy.”
I thought it rather childish. No doubt, there
is originality in it (which, in your self-taught geniuses,
is a most rare quality, they generally getting hold
of some bad models in a scarcity of books, and forming
their taste on them), but no selection. All
Mind, I have only heard read one book. Yours
Philo-Snake, C. L.
November 3, 1800,
Ecquid meditatur Archimedes? What is Euclid
doing? What has happened to learned Trismegist?
Doth he take it in ill part that his humble friend
did not comply with his courteous invitation?
Let it suffice, I could not come. Are impossibilities
nothing?—be they abstractions of the intellects,
or not (rather) most sharp and mortifying realities?
nuts in the Will’s mouth too hard for her to
crack? brick and stone walls in her way, which she
can by no means eat through? sore lets, impedimenta
viarum, no thoroughfares? racemi nimium alte
pendentes?? Is the phrase classic? I
allude to the grapes in Aesop, which cost the fox
a strain, and gained the world an aphorism. Observe
the superscription of this letter. In adapting
the size of the letters which constitute your
name and Mr. Crisp’s name respectively,
I had an eye to your different stations in life.
’Tis really curious, and must be soothing to