Letter from Pertinax Townly

Miss Porden

Dear Editor,

I told you in a former epistle how much I was displeased with Lady Olivia, yet I really think she will wind herself into my heart again — it is so difficult to resist the silent pleadings of dejected beauty! Besides, I have ascertained in conversation that she was not privy to the hoax played on me, and that she was really in the shrubbery till Philemon came and frightened her away, tho’ I cannot get her to confess that she expected to find me there. Moreover, such a charming little incident has occurred! Philemon and I were standing near the instrument last night while Olivia was singing a little song she has written and set to music very prettily — we happened as matter of course to compliment her a little, and I could not help noticing the glow of evident satisfaction that diffused itself over her features. Half in jest I said something about vanity, and Philemon, who looked a little jealous, followed me by so serious a remark on the subject that the poor thing quite changed colour. This morning, however, I found the following lines “in her own sweet hand” near my chamber door.

Oh! think not ’tis vanity flushes my cheek,
And beams bright in my eye, while my praises you speak;
Yet surely the bosom no pleasure can prove
Like the accents of praise from the lips that we love.

When flatterers surround me, I heed not their strain,
Their honey and fragrance are wasted in vain:
I may smile at their words, but no joy they impart;
They ring in the ear, but they reach not the heart.

But from friends of my soul, friends long cherish’d and dear,
Whose judgement I prize and whose words are sincere;
Their praises are like the rich dews of the East,
They fall softly and slow, but sink deep in my breast.

Such p----- are thine, and tho’ fickle I seem,
And gay as the mote that sports light in the beam,
Tho’ partial attractions at times may control,
My heart, like the magnet, still points to its pole.

With others if oft I seem happy and free,
I shine but with lustre reflected from thee;
Like the bee, still from blossom to blossom I roam,
But collect all their nectar to furnish my home.

These lines are very pretty, Mr Editor, and I am much pleased with them, though I must say I cannot understand the coldness and apparent displeasure with which their fair authoress received some remarks I made on them. She must mot carry her coquetry too far. However she seems equally reserved towards Philemon.

I had almost forgotten to tell you that my fair Incognita bowed to me yesterday morning from a coronetted carriage and I can no longer doubt she is my partner, besides Electromagus brought in the following lines from the Hermitage this morning, and appeared in no great good humour at finding them there. No one but myself could guess for whom they were intended; and as I did not choose to acknowledge at present, I made use of a little stratagem to obtain them. Lady Olivia however gave a smile which I cannot interpret. She ought not to have smiled if she suspected anything, and why should she if she did not? Poor Erminia! I am still very much interested for her. If I thought she was in joke I should be much amused, but the idea of my making so sweet a creature unhappy renders me quite uncomfortable. So deeply was I musing on the subject that Lady Olivia spoke to me twie before I heard her!

And did I say that love was o’er,
That hope delusive sung no more;
Is Tancred less the cherish’d theme
Of waking thought or nightly dream?
How sweet when first love’s lambent light
 Plays round the half-unconscious heart!
No ray so warm, so pure, so bright,
 Yon radiant orb of day can dart.

Upon another’s eye to gaze
And listen to another’s praise
Another’s lightest grief to feel
And live but in another’s weal;
Without one selfish feeling near,
 And scarce a thought of hope or fear;
No cares the present bliss alloy,
 But all is confidence and joy.

Such dream was mine — the dream is past,
A dream too dear, too sweet to last.
If yet, while sunk in sorrow’s flood,
I see the rock on which I stood
In pleasure’s golden sunbeams bright,
 It seems as though it shone to tell
How happy was my former height!
 How deep the sea in which I fell!


I am, dear Editor
your perplexed but ever faithful

Pertinax Townly