Letter from Prosai-Poetico

Miss Vardill

St John’s Dale, Feb. 19th


I am the Secretary of the Hermit Club and was lately elected to fill the vacant seat of our seventh Brother; but being gifted with Common-sense, I only desired to retain that distinction pro tempore. For that reason probably, they did not include me in the advantageous lottery by which they disposed of themselves on St Valentine’s Day under your auspices. But perhaps I ought not to regret my exclusion as the ladies seemed very anxious to transfer their shares which they did not venture to take home. My office being abrogated, I feel myself at liberty, like other Secretaries, to reveal the secrets officially entrusted to me; and I congratulate the fair adventurers who hesitated to accept their dividends of the Hermits’ Stock. Certain documents are enclosed which may convince them that historians ought not to be believed implicitly when they record themselves; at least the fable of the Lion and Painter should not be remembered. But that the ladies may not be wholly disappointed, I beg leave to propose a Raffle for myself on your next Attic Night. Every holder of a prize in the last lottery (not excluding gentlemen, who may be admitted as proxies for their absent female friends) shall choose, with your permission, a letter from the alphabet; and he, she, or they who select a certain letter marked on the margin + shall receive — —  what they will think an equivalent for any Hermit in our ci-devant Brotherhood. Do not accuse me of malice to my former associates, or of envying the good fortune which distinguishes them in St Valentine’s Lottery. Even the scowling Bertram and the green-eyed St Alme were thrown into the hands of Beauty. Our Abbot is always too pious and pacific to complain of his lot, and the Pilgrim — as I know not where he is, I shall reveal no evil of him. But it is my duty to acquaint you that I have reasons to believe he is wholly unknown to the ridiculous impostor Philowhim who claims a reward for his discovery. In a lonely church among the mountains near St John’s Dale lies a flat grey stone called by the villagers “the Seventh Brother’s Grave”, over which a marble scroll is supported by a finely sculptured hand. I enclose the inscription which perfectly accords with the lost Pilgrim’s character. Of the absent or the dead I am no caricaturist; and some fair ones among the living will find

A faithful friend in


late Secy of the Hermit Club