LETTER 263. TO MR. MOORE.
Venice, February 28. 1817.
You will, perhaps, complain as much of the frequency of my letters now, as you were wont to do of their rarity. I think this is the fourth within as many moons. I feel anxious to hear from you, even more than usual, because your last indicated that you were unwell. At present, I am on the invalid regimen myself. The Carnival–that is, the latter part of it, and sitting up late o’nights, had knocked me up a little. But it is over,–and it is now Lent, with all its abstinence and sacred music.
The mumming closed with a masked ball at the Fenice, where I went, as also to most of the ridottos, &c. &c.; and, though I did not dissipate much upon the whole, yet I find ‘the sword wearing out the scabbard,’ though I have but just turned the corner of twenty-nine.
So, we’ll go no more a roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.
For the sword out-wears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And Love itself have rest.
Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we’ll go no more a roving
By the light of the moon.
I have lately had some news of litter_atoor_, as I heard the editor of the Monthly pronounce it once upon a time. I hear that W.W. has been publishing and responding to the attacks of the Quarterly, in the learned Perry’s Chronicle. I read his poesies last autumn, and, amongst them, found an epitaph on his bull-dog, and another on _myself_. But I beg leave to assure him (like the astrologer Partridge) that I am not only alive now, but was alive also at the time he wrote it. Hobhouse has (I hear, also) expectorated a letter against the Quarterly, addressed to me. I feel awkwardly situated between him and Gifford, both being my friends.
And this is your month of going to press–by the body of Diana! (a Venetian oath,) I feel as anxious–but not fearful for you–as if it were myself coming out in a work of humour, which would, you know, be the antipodes of all my previous publications. I don’t think you have any thing to dread but your own reputation. You must keep up to that. As you never showed me a line of your work, I do not even know your measure; but you must send me a copy by Murray forthwith, and then you shall hear what I think. I dare say you are in a pucker. Of all authors, you are the only really _modest_ one I ever met with,–which would sound oddly enough to those who recollect your morals when you were young–that is, when you were _extremely_ young–don’t mean to stigmatise you either with years or morality.
I believe I told you that the E.R. had attacked me, in an article on Coleridge (I have not seen it)–‘_Et tu_, Jeffrey?’–‘there is nothing but roguery in villanous man.’ But I absolve him of all attacks, present and future; for I think he had already pushed his clemency in my behoof to the utmost, and I shall always think well of him. I only wonder he did not begin before, as my domestic destruction was a fine opening for all the world, of which all who could did well to avail themselves.
If I live ten years longer, you will see, however, that it is not over with me–I don’t mean in literature, for that is nothing; and it may seem odd enough to say, I do not think it my vocation. But you will see that I shall do something or other–the times and fortune permitting–that, ‘like the cosmogony, or creation of the world, will puzzle the philosophers of all ages.’ But I doubt whether my constitution will hold out. I have, at intervals, ex_or_cised it most devilishly.
I have not yet fixed a time of return, but I think of the spring. I shall have been away a year in April next. You never mention Rogers, nor Hodgson, your clerical neighbour, who has lately got a living near you. Has he also got a child yet?–his desideratum, when I saw him last.
Pray let me hear from you, at your time and leisure, believing me ever and truly and affectionately, &c.