Mr. Courtenay has published some epistles in rhyme, in which he has honoured me with a dozen lines, and which are really some of the best in the whole set-in ridicule of my writings. One couplet, I suppose, alludes to my Strawberry verses on you and your sister. Les voici—
“Who to love tunes his note, with the fire of old age, And chirps the trim lay in a trim Gothic cage!”
If I were not as careless as I am about literary fame, still, this censure would be harmless indeed; for except the exploded story of Chatterton, of which I washed myself as white as snow, Mr. Courtenay falls on my choice of subjects—as, of Richard the Third and the Mysterious Mother—and not on the execution; though I fear there is enough to blame in the texture of them. But this new piece of criticism, or whatever it is, made me laugh, as I am offered up on the tomb of my poor mad nephew; who is celebrated for one of his last frantic acts, a publication in some monthly magazine, with an absurd hypothesis on “the moon bursting from the earth, and the earth from the sun, somehow or other:” but how, indeed, especially from Mr. Courtenay’s paraphrase, I have too much sense to comprehend. However, I am much obliged to him for having taken such pains to distinguish me from my lunatic precursor, that even the European Magazine, when I shall die, will not be able to confound us. Richard the Third would be sorry to have it thought hereafter, that I had ever been under the care of Dr. Munro. Well! good night!
This is no plot to draw you into committing even a good deed on a Sunday, which I suppose the literality of your conscience would haggle about, as if the day of the week constitutes the sin, and not the nature of the crime. But you may defer your answer till to-night is become to-morrow by the clock having struck one; and then you may do an innocent thing without any guilt, which a quarter of an hour sooner you would think abominable. Nay, as an Irishman would say, you need not even read this note till the canonical hour is past.
In short, my dear Madam), I gave your obliging message to Lady Waldegrave, who will be happy to see you on Tuesday, at one o’clock But as her staircase is very bad, as she is in a lodging, I have proposed that this meeting, for which I have been pimping between two female saints, may be held here in my house, as I had the utmost difficulty last night in climbing her scala santa, and I cannot undertake it again. But if you are so good as to send me a favourable answer to-morrow, I will take care you shall find her here at the time I mentioned, with your true admirer.