Letter to John Hamilton Reynolds, September 22, 1818
September 22nd, 1818 (?)
My dear Reynolds,
Believe me I have rather rejoiced in your happiness than fretted at your silence. Indeed I am grieved on your account that I am not at the same time happy - But I conjure you to think at present of nothing but pleasure "Gather the rose, &c." - Gorge the honey of life. I pity you as much that it cannot last for ever, as I do myself now drinking bitters. - Give yourself up to it - you cannot help it - and I have a consolation in thinking so. I never was in love - yet the voice and the shape of a Woman has haunted me these two days - at such a time when the relief, the feverous relief of Poetry seems a much less crime - This morning Poetry has conquered - I have relapsed into those abstractions which are my only life - I feel escaped from a new strange and threatening sorrow. - and I am thankful for it. - There is an awful warmth about my heart like a load of Immortality.
Poor Tom that woman - and Poetry were ringing changes in my senses. - Now I am in comparison happy - I am sensible this will distress you - you must forgive me. Had I known you would have set out so soon I could have sent you the 'Pot of Basil' for I had copied it. Here is a free translation of a Sonnet of Ronsard, which I think will please you - I have the loan of his works - they have great Beauties. Nature withheld Cassandra in the skies, For more adornment, a full thousand years; She took their cream of Beauty's fairest dyes, And shap'd and tinted her above all Peers: Meanwhile Love kept her dearly with his wings, And underneath their shadow fill'd her eyes With such a richness that the cloudy Kings Of high Olympus utter'd slavish sighs. When from the Heavens I saw her first descend, My heart took fire, and only burning pains, They were my pleasures - they my Life's sad end; Love pour'd her beauty into my warm veins.
I had not the original by me when I wrote it, and did not recollect the purport of the last lines - I should have seen Rice ere this - but I am confined by Sawrey's mandate in the house now, and have as yet only gone out in fear of the damp night - You know what an undangerous matter it is. I shall soon be quite recovered - Your offer I shall remember as though it had even now taken place in fact - I think it cannot be - Tom is not up yet - I cannot say he is better. I have not heard from George.
Yr affectionate friend