TO RICHARD BENTLEY, ESQ.
MY DEAR SIR,
I SHOULD have replied sooner to your letter, but that the last three days in January are, as you are aware, always dedicated, at the Hall, to an especial battue, and the old house is full of shooting-jackets, shot-belts, and "double Joes." Even the women wear percussion caps, and your favourite (?) Rover, who, you may remember, examined the calves of your legs with such suspicious curiosity at Christmas, is as pheasant-mad as if he were a biped, instead of being a genuine four-legged scion of the Blenheim breed. I have managed, however, to avail myself of a lucid interval in the general hallucination, (how the rain did come down on Monday!) and as you tell me the excellent friend whom you are in the habit of styling "a Generous and Enlightened Public" has emptied your shelves of the first edition, and "asks for more," why, I agree with you, it would be a want of respect to that very respectable personification, when furnishing him with a farther supply, not to endeavour at least, to amend my faults, which are few, and your own, which are more numerous. I have, therefore, gone to work con amore, supplying occasionally on my own part a deficient note, or elucidatory stanza, and on yours knocking out, without remorse, your superfluous i s, and now and then eviscerating your colon.
My duty to our illustrious friend thus performed, I have a crow to pluck with him--Why will he persist,--as you tell me he does persist--in calling me by all sorts of names but those to which I am entitled by birth and baptism--my "Sponsorial and Patronymic appellations," as Dr. Pangloss has it?--Mrs. Malaprop complains, and with justice, of an "assault upon her parts of speech," but to attack one's very existence--to deny that one is a person in esse, and scarcely to admit that one may be a person in posse, is tenfold cruelty;--"it is pressing to death, whipping, and hanging!"--let me entreat all such likewise to remember, that as Shakspeare beautifully expresses himself elsewhere--I give his words as quoted by a very worthy Baronet in a neighbouring county, when protesting against a defamatory placard at a general election--
"Why very well then--we hope here be truths!"
Heaven be with you, my dear Sir!--I was getting a little excited; but you, who are mild as
Yours quite as much as his own,
Feb. 2nd, 1843.