Dcouments from Prosai-Poetico

Miss Vardill

Copy of the Letter received in 1813 by the Secretary of the Hermits’ Club

Mr Secretary!

I am told that your Association admits none but men of honour therefore I shall appeal to your statutes against the philosophic Mr Alme of Windemere, who forgot to state one trifling occurrence in his history of himself. My grandfather was an Irish baronet who did not love my mother because she loved cards; therefore he left me all his fortune. As my governess used to say, “Love is like a wax candle which burns highest when it trembles most.” I thought St Alme, who always sighed and trembled in my presence must be my truest admirer. I had also heard that young ladies should resemble ghosts by never speaking till they are spoken to; but thinking he might be afraid of anything like a ghost, I determined to speak myself. As he always sent me copies of Voiture’s billets, I asked him if he meant to dedicate a translation of them to me. Such things pleased me best, I said, when well printed and bound in gilt morocco. St Alme replied sighing as usual, that he had nothing to dedicate by himself, and hoped I would bind him soon. “You offer me,” said I, “an odd volume, but you may ask my mother to subscribe.” He answered, “Emily, I dare not consult your mother. My affection is so timid and my honour so scrupulous that I fear a repulse. If your fortune was less splendid, my courage would be adequate.” — “Take courage, then!” returned I, “this morning I signed a deed of gift which transfers my grandfather’s fortune to my mother while she lives.” To my great surprise he looked more timid than before and bowing very humble said, “I dare not marry a model of such sublime generosity; but I will accept your mother, amiable Emily! Lest she should waste your fortune on a husband less sensible of your bounty. He married her next week, ran away next month, and I am waiting a better fortune in Tabby Hall where I have the honour to remain

Sir, your obedient servant

Emily Echowell

Referred to the Secret Committee

Copy of another letter from Tabby Hall


I am mightily surprised to hear that you mean to dispose of yourselves by lottery when you know — I mean there is one among you knows that he is mortgaged already. You must understand, gentlemen, that my father held a fine farm in Berkshire about the year 1794 and Tony Petcalf, Sir Timothy Petcalf’s younger brother who calls himself Buybo de Mountyfrisko among you, courted me two years. My mother said it would be an excellent match as none of the family ever lived to be forty and the jointure-house was very convenient. So we went to church; but when the grand question was asked Tony answered, “No!” Our vicar asked the reason and he could only answer, “I am afraid!” My father, clenching his oak-stick, vowed he should have a reason, but the bridesmaids held him, and as you may suppose, carried me home in hysterics; but as I did not choose my new white satin gown to be useless, I begged to see Tony Petcalf once more. The poor creature was always soft-headed and he came, thinking I meant to forgive him before I died. Then I protested how monstrously he had risked my reputation and my new white satin, “but (says I) only let me reject you in church as you rejected me, and that will make amends.” So my father talked about justice and law till Tony (looking at his oak-stick) agreed to go into church again. When the grand question was asked, he said Yes, but when it came to my turn I said Yes too. “Stop, my dear, (said he) you promised to say No!” I know what I meant (says I) and the vicar may go on.” But he shut his book and Tony Petcalf hid himself in the vestry, and afterwards went nobody could guess where. But since I have found him out, I shall try my chance again, if I live till St. Valentine’s lottery, and I do think he won’t escape the injured

Rebecca Nettletop

Copy of a Sonnet found in Bertram von Bygron’s portfolio

To the Divine Coquetilla of Covent Garden, Feb. 14th

“Her crisped locks from her fair head hang dangling
And on each hair, though harmless to behold,
A lover’s soul hung merciless strangling
While piping silly zephyrs vied to fold
Those tresses in their clasp, so slim and tangling;
Or thread in sport those lover-noosing snares
And played at hide and seek among those dark brown hairs.”

The above was wrapped round a few unpaid tailor’s bills, half a dozen pawnbroker’s duplicates of ladies’ hair-rings and broaches, a torn marriage certificate, and a summons to answer a charge of perjury. Our 4th Brother, Fitzhoward, was arrested on the morning of the 14th for the arrears of his wife’s separate maintenance, but her physician bailed him, and promised, for a proper consideration, to relieve him from such demands. Brother Clanharold’s affair with the stolen shawl will be settled next session. The good Abbot’s present penance is sufficient for all past errors, and the Pilgrim, I believe, is no more. Of forlorn and repentant Hermits the undersigned is not a censor of eccentricities by those who secure this last memorial of their existence

P: P: Secretary
of the Hermits’ Club
of Brotherhood of Biosca


on a Marble Scroll supported by a Hand
near “The Seventh Brother’s Grave”

Behold this relic! marble could not vie
With Edgar’s glowing lip and soul-taught eye,
Yet keeps this semblance of the bounteous hand
Which Life’s best fires on Virtue’s altar fann’d,
With magic touch the Muses’ lyre awoke
And rent the veil of Truth when Science spoke.

Mourners! to whom its latest grasp was given
Ere the freed spirit look’d to earth from heaven;
You whom his soothing voice forbade to weep
While Death, relenting, paus’d and smil’d like Sleep,
Still view this Hand! to Comfort’s holiest source
It guides, it summons with an angel’s force!
Death may arrest the lip with nectar fraught
And crush the eye, Love’s messenger of Thought;
But the blest Hand which Bounty’s manna shed,
Crown’d gentle peace, and modest Science led,
Its deeds in Heaven’s eternal book shall write
And bring to Death’s dark gates triumphant light!