(682) “The History and Antiquities of Bristol, by William Barrett:” Bristol, 1789, quarto; a Work which Mr. Park described as " a motley compound of real and superstitious history."-E.
I am not surprised, my dear Madam, that the notice of my illness should have stimulated your predominant quality, your sensibility. 1 cannot do less in return than relieve it immediately, by assuring you that I am in a manner recovered; and should have gone out before this time, if my mind were as much at ease as my poor limbs. I have passed, five months most uncomfortably; the two last most unhappily. In June and September I had two bad falls by my own lameness and weakness, and was much bruised; while I was witness to the danger, and then to the death, of my invaluable niece, Lady Dysart. She was angelic, and has left no children. The unexpected death of Lord Waldegrave(683) one of the most amiable of men, has not only deprived me of him, but has opened a dreadful scene of calamities! he and my niece were the happiest and most domestic of couples.
Your kind inquiries after me have drawn these details from me, for which I make no excuse; good-nature never grudges its pity. I, who love to force your gravity to smile, am seriously better pleased to indulge your benevolence with a subject of esteem, which, though moving your compassion, will be accompanied by no compunction. I will now answer your letter. Your plea, that not composition, but business, has occasioned your silence, is no satisfaction to me. In my present anxious solitude I have again read Bonner and Florio, and the Bas Bleu; and do you think I am much pleased to learn that you have not been writing? Who is it says something like this line?—
Hannah will not write, and Lactilla will.
They who think her Earl Goodwin will outgo Shakspeare, might be in the right, if they specified in what way. I believe she may write worse than he sometimes did, though that is not easy; but to excel him—oh! I have not words adequate to my contempt for those who can suppose such a possibility!
I am sorry, very sorry, for what you tell me of poor Barrett’s fate. Though he did write worse than Shakspeare, it is great pity he was told so, as it killed him; and I rejoice that I did not publish a word in contradiction of the letters which he said Chatterton sent to me, as I was advised to do. I might have laughed at the poor man’s folly, and then I should have been miserable to have added a grain to the poor man’s mortification.(684)