But I chiefly amused myself with ideas of the change that would be made in the world by the substitution of balloons to ships. I supposed our seaports to become deserted villages; and Salisbury-plain, Newmarhet-heath, (another canvass for alteration of ideas,) and all downs (but the Downs) arising into dock-yards for aerial vessels. Such a field would be ample in furnishing new speculations. But to come to my ship-news:—
“The good balloon Dedalus, Captain Wing-ate, will fly in a few days for China; he will stop at the top of the Monument to take in passengers.
“Arrived on Brand-sands, the Vulture, Captain Nabob; the Tortoise snow, from Lapland; the Pet-en-l’air, from Versailles; the Dreadnought, from Mount Etna, Sir W. Hamilton commander; the Tympany, Montgolfier; and the Mine-A-in-a-bandbox, from the Cape of Good Hope. Foundered in a hurricane, the Bird of Paradise, from Mount Ararat. The Bubble, Sheldon, took fire, and was burnt to her gallery; and the phoenix is to be cut down to a second-rate.”
In those days Old Sarum will again be a town and have houses in it. There will be fights in the air with wind-guns and bows and arrows; and there will be prodigious increase of land for tillage, especially in France, by breaking up all public roads as useless. But enough of my fooleries; for which I am sorry you must pay double, postage.
I would not answer your letter, Sir, till I could tell you that I had put Your play into Mr. Colman’s hands, which I have done. He desired my consent to his carrying it into the country to read it deliberately: you shall know as soon as I receive his determination. I am Much obliged to you for the many civil and kind expressions in your letter, and for the friendly information you give me. Partiality, I fear, dictated the former; but the last I can only ascribe to the goodness of your heart. I have published nothing Of any size but the pieces you mention, and one or two small tracts now out of print and forgotten. The rest have been prefaces to my Strawberry editions, and to a few other publications; and some fugitive pieces which I reprinted several years ago in a small volume, and which shall be at your service, with the Catalogue of Noble Authors.
With regard to the bookseller who has taken the trouble to collect my writings, (amongst which I do not doubt but he will generously bestow on me many that I did not write, according to the liberal practice of such compilers,) and who also intends to write my life, to which, (as I never did any thing Worthy of the notice of the public) he must likewise be a volunteer contributor, it Would be vain for me to endeavour to prevent such a design. Whoever has been so ill advised as to throw himself on the public, must pay such a tax in a pamphlet or magazine when he dies;