“Maternal Lady, with thy virgin-grace,
Heaven-born thy Jesus seemeth, sure,
And thou a virgin pure.
Lady most perfect, when thy angel face
Men look upon, they wish to be
A Catholic, Madonna fair, to worship thee.”
You had her lines about the “Lady Blanch.” You have not had some which she wrote upon a copy of a girl from Titian, which I had hung up where that print of Blanch and the Abbess (as she beautifully interpreted two female figures from L. da Vinci) had hung in our room. ’Tis light and pretty.
“Who art thou, fair one, who usurp’st
Of Blanch, the lady of the matchless grace?
Come, fair and pretty, tell to me
Who in thy lifetime thou mightst be?
Thou pretty art and fair,
But with the Lady Blanch thou never must compare.
No need for Blanch her history to tell,
Whoever saw her face, they there did read it well;
But when I look on thee, I only know
There lived a pretty maid some hundred years ago,”
This is a little unfair, to tell so much about ourselves, and to advert so little to your letter, so full of comfortable tidings of you all But my own cares press pretty close upon me, and you can make allowance. That you may go on gathering strength and peace is my next wish to Mary’s recovery.
I had almost forgot your repeated invitation. Supposing that Mary will be well and able, there is another ability which you may guess at, which I cannot promise myself. In prudence we ought not to come. This illness will make it still more prudential to wait. It is not a balance of this way of spending our money against another way, but an absolute question of whether we shall stop now, or go on wasting away the little we have got beforehand, which my evil conduct has already encroached upon one-half. My best love, however, to you all, and to that most friendly creature. Mrs. Clarkson, and better health to her, when you see or write to her.
May 10, 1806.
My Dear Manning,—I didn’t know what your going was till I shook a last fist with you, and then ’twas just like having shaken hands with a wretch on the fatal scaffold, and when you are down the ladder, you can never stretch out to him again. Mary says you are dead, and there’s nothing to do but to leave it to time to do for us in the end what it always does for those who mourn for people in such a case. But she’ll see by your letter you are not quite dead. A little kicking and agony, and then—Martin Burney took me out a walking that evening, and we talked of Manning; and then I came home and smoked for you, and at twelve o’clock came home Mary and Monkey Louisa from the play, and there was more talk and more smoking, and they all seemed first-rate characters, because they knew a certain person.