Laura to Celia

Miss Flaxman

Epistle the Second

To Laura in Town

’Tis true my dear Laura I promised to write,
And describe to my friend every rural delight,
To bring to her fancy each daily diversion,
Each walking, cart riding, or water excursion,
The Races, the Donkeys, the Soldiers, the Fairs,
With each brilliant Spectacle of Monkeys and Bears,
Half deafened at length with the bustle and noise,
We fly from the Rattles, the Trumpets and boys,
Then in search of an appetite lost or mislaid,
We mount upon Donkeys, and cry “Who’s afraid!”
All sober as Geese we ride down the Green Lanes,
For to curvet or prance the grave Donkey disdains,
But if to a frolic Sir Neddy’s inclined
And he happens to meet a soft place to his mind,
If the Bridle hang loose, and your Palfrey you trust,
’Tis a chance if he don’t lay you prone on the dust.
Thus passes the Morning, should weather permit,
If it should not — at Home we can patiently sit,
With Reading and Working, with Music and Song
Strew flowers o’er the path as Time passes along.

But lucky are we if the Doctor should call,
For if News should be stirring, he’ll tell us it all,
For Ladies, the Politics neatly he’ll skim
Domestic or Foreign, ’tis equal to him,
The mixture he gives us is pleasant enough,
With Scandal to flavour it, just quantum suff.
The Doctor withdrawn to the Toilette we go,
For that is a duty, dear Laura, you know
In Country or Town, we can never forego.
Moreover the Captain’s expected to dine
Of course ev’ry Lady endeavours to shine,
For he loves with his Laurel the Myrtle to twine
And Beauty, he says, gives a zest to the wine.
When Dinner is over, perhaps we may rove
To welcome the tranquil delights of the Grove,
There the Grasshopper chirps, and the Nightingale sings
And the Bat as she flies gives a brush with her wings,
We ramble till late if the Moon we behold
For Sentiment, Laura, can never catch cold.
Ah, what are the damps of the Evening, and Fog
Or chorus of Frogs in the neighbouring Bog,
For Souls of fine feeling, with Sentiment fraught,
Set Coughs and Rheumatics, and Toothaches at nought.

But talking of ramble, and damps, and what then?
Why it puts me in mind I must lay down the pen.
Your pardon, dear Laura, I therefor intreat,
The party is waiting I promised to meet.
The diversion is fishing, with hook and with line
And I’d not for the world such a party resign.
Here I know you’ll exclaim with your sauciest look,
“Take care or you’ll catch some odd fish on your hook.”

Adieu, yours very truly

Celia Lovegrove

P.S. All jesting apart, my dear Laura I own
Love has chosen the heart of your Friend for a throne
His Prime Minister Friendship has share of the power
For Friendship and Love are the Leaf and the Flower.
Greenshoots of the first, long time we descry
Ere the buds of affection expand to the eye,
The Flower’s gay tints the green foliage relieves,
Less beautiful even the Rose without Leaves.
Unblest by the shelter that Friendship can give
No Blossom of Love in this Bosom could live.
But if for Albertus you think that I sigh
That charge, my dear girl, I must firmly deny
’Tis true that I’ve walked, and I’ve talked with the Swain
But ne’er with a wish his Affection to gain.
I’ve smiled at his Wit, and applauded his Verse,
And listened with Pleasure to hear him converse,
But ne’er could his presence such feelings impart,
As one, and one only, can give to my heart.
“But who is that one,” I can hear you exclaim
“Oh tell me, dear Celia, oh tell me his name.”
For my wishes, my prayers, should he ever return,
His name then dear Laura you quickly shall learn.
To Corydon prithee some kind speeches make,
And tell him I love him — for dear Laura’s sake.