Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Young Susanna Strickland

To James Bird *

Nov 9th [1827]

My sister Agnes wishes to consult you on some matters relative to her New Poems of which she received the first bound copies today and if fine we promise ourselves the pleasure of seeing you tomorrow and if perfectly convenient to Mrs. Bird will avail ourselves of her kind offer and stay all night. We have borrowed a donkey for the expedition and mean to start early to arrive late for tis a sorry beast whose paces will not exceed two miles an hour and you might compassionate the character of this long eared Pegasus but poor Poets must put up with all shifts, such trifles do not ruffle them. I think a little inconvenience often enhances the pleasures we afterwards feel in meeting our friends. If the day should be unfavorable we will postpone our Journey till Monday. I am fearful that Mamma has just started a new plan and John is to drive us as far as Thorington and we can then walk on to the prettiest village in Suffolk and I must descend from my dignity my poetic dignity and condescend to carry a basket. What would the fashionables I know in Bedford Square say could they see me. I almost wish they could I pride myself on my independence . . .

I am quite impatient for my last communication from London. No lover of romance ever wished so ardently for a peep at his mistress as I do for the sight of my packet. Now don't be saucy. It contains no love letters, but the reminiscences of friends are as dear to my heart as the light is to my eyes. Their correspondence constitutes almost the whole sum of my happiness . . . When I begin to write I never know when to lay down my pen. Closing a letter, to me is as hard as saying adieu to a friend. I liked your sermon as you were pleased to call the reflective part of your letter amazingly. I should like to hear your preach just such another. Do sensible women prate? I thought wisdom wore a grave aspect in the weaker sex, that it might be the better distinguished from such merry madcap vendors of nonsense as myself! Was it not Dr. Clarke that once said to his scholars who were at play when a grave bigwig entered the ground Boys! Boys! be wise. Here comes a fool!

My wisdom must reside in an organ of my brain as yet undiscovered by the lynx eyes of philosophy for I never could find it out though I have made many useless voyages of discovery through my pericranium to that effect but was as much disappointed as Capt. Parry in his North West Passage.
*James Bird, a bookseller and published poet who lived in Yoxford, Suffolk, good friend of the Stricklands and one who encouraged the literary aspirations of Sussanah and her sisters.

-from Susanna Moodie: Letters of a Lifetime edited by Carl Ballstadt, Elizabeth Hopkins, and Michael Peterman. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993) p.19-20.

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