Tuesday, May 6, 2008

redundancy, or want of spirits

Edward Young to the Duchess of Portland

Tunbridge Wells, August 1741.

here are but two distempers, and those very different, that bring people to this place, either redundancy, or want of spirits. The first makes people mad, the last fools; the first, I observe in this place, like persons bit by the tarantula, dance immoderately, till the distemper flows off; the last, like poor Job's friends, sit silent for seven days together, till the water gives them utterance. The virtue of the water is yet got no higher than my fingers' ends, which enables me to write, but when it will arrive at my lips is uncertain; but when it does, I shall have the pleasure of conversing with your Grace's friends, many of whom are here, but all my conversation with them hitherto has been carried on by signs only on my part, for sound to one in my state is too great an expense.

By this time your Grace begins to guess the reason why I left the town without taking leave: that was rude, but I should have been much ruder, had I attempted it. To have made your Grace a dumb visit would have been very unpolite, and at best, like Hamlet's ghost, I should have been able to have spoke in dismal monosyllables only, and therefore I humbly hope your Grace will pardon me for not frighting you out of your wits, for I know no lady on earth that would have lost more by such an accident.

Sir John Stanley, between the waters and a high relish of your Grace's regard to him is so elevated, that he talks of dancing at the next ball. Mrs. Donellan, whom I have studied, I find to be of an excellent mind and heart; I had once thoughts of drawing so amiable a character at length, but I shall abridge it in one sentence which implies all. 'She is worthy to be your Grace's friend.' I am heartily sorry my Lord Duke has been in such pain, but I hope by this time he is reaping the advantage of it, in a quicker relish of health. There are none here who have so distinguished themselves either by their wisdom or folly, as to contribute to your amusement by their history. Here is a great fortune, which is followed by a pack of noble beagles, but which shall be the happy dog no one yet can tell. I am much obliged to your Grace and to the Duke and Duchess of Leeds; when I recover my own country, I shall prevent the honour of their sending to me. I proposed writing a long letter, but your Grace is reprieved from the execution of that design by the waters. I can neither stand, nor see, nor think, and if your Grace can read what I have already written, his Majesty's affairs, at this critical juncture, need not be at a stand for want of a decipherer.
[Edward Young]

-from The Life and Letters of Edward Young by Henry C. Shelley (London: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, 1914

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