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refuse it any longer. How can you be so good to an old decrepid man, who can entertain you with no discours which is worthy of your good sense, and who can onely be a trouble to you in all the time he stays at Cotterstock. Yet I will obey your commands as far as possibly I can, and give you the inconvenience you are pleas'd to desire: at least for the few days which I can spare from other necessary business, which requires me at Tichmarsh. Therefore, if you please to send your coach on Tuesday next by eleven a clock in the morning, I hope to wait on you before dinner. There is onely one more trouble, which I am almost asham'd to name. I am obliged to visit my Cousin Dryden of Chesterton,' some time next week, who is nine miles from hence, and
Muses, she had three children; Elizabeth, who became the wife of Thomas Gwillim, Esq., of Old Court, in the parish of Whitchurch, near Ross in Herefordshire; Anne, who died unmarried; and Jemima, who married Elmes Spinckes, of Aldwinckle, Esq. Mrs. Steward, who survived her husband above thirty years, in the latter part of her life became blind, in which melancholy state she died at the house of her son-in-law, Mr. Gwillim, at the age of seventy-one, Jan. 17, 1742-3; and a monument was erected to her memory in the church of Whitchurch. -The Hall of Cotterstock House was painted in fresco by her, in a very masterly style, and she drew several portraits of her friends in Northamptonshire. Her own portrait, painted by herself, is in the possession of her kinswoman, Mrs. Ord, of Queen Anne Street.
Where our author probably was at this time.
See vol. i. part i. p. 321, n. 6; and p. 323-326,
only five from you. If it be with your convenience to spare me your coach thether for a day, the rest of my time till Monday is at your service; and I am sorry for my own sake it cannot be any longer, this because I have some visits after year, my return hether, which I cannot avoyd. But if it please God to give me life and health, I may give you occasion another time to repent of your kindness, by makeing you weary of my company. My sonn kisses your hand. Be pleas'd to give his humble service to my Cousin Steward, and mine, Madam,
TO ELMES STEWARD, ESQ.
[Probably, Nov. 20, 1698.]'
MY HONOUR'D COUSIN,
I SHOU'D have receiv'd your letter with too much satisfaction, if it had not been allay'd with
• Our author, in addressing his female relations, generally writes Cousine, following the French mode.
It should seem from the subsequent letter that Dryden, after having spent a few days with his friends at Cotterstock, and dispatched his business at Tichmarsh, returned
the bad news of my cousin your wife's indisposition; which yet I hope will not continue. I am sure, if care and love will contribute to her health, she will want neither from so tender a husband as you are and indeed you are both worthy of each other. You have been pleas'd, each of you, to be kind to my sonn and me, your poor relations, without any merit on our side, unless you will let our gratitude pass for our desert. And now you are pleas'd to invite another trouble on your self, which our bad company may possibly draw upon you next year, if I have life and health to come into Northamptonshyre; and that you will please not to make so much a stranger of me another time. I intend my wife shall tast the plover you did me the favour to send me. If either your lady or you shall at any time honour me with a letter, my house is in Gerard-street, the fifth door on the left hand, comeing from Newport-street. I pray GoD I may hear better news of both your healths, and of my good cousin Creed's,' and my cousin Dorothy,' than I have had while I was in
to Cotterstock, and passed four or five weeks there: and this letter seems to have been written after his return to Tichmarsh, just as he was setting out for London, and in consequence of a present of some wild fowl,
8 His eldest son, Charles, who returned from Italy to England about the middle of the year 1698.
Mrs. Steward's father, Mr. John Creed, who appears from the next Letter to have been indisposed at this time. He died in 1701, and was buried at Tichmarsh.
'Miss, or in the language of that day, Mistress, Dorothy Creed, second daughter of John Creed, Esq., and sister
this country. I shall languish till you send me word; and I assure you I write this without poetry, who am, from the bottome of my heart,
My honour'd Cousin's most obliged,
My sonn and I kiss my Cousin Steward's hand, and give our service to your sister and pretty Miss Betty.
For my Honour'd Cousin,
Elmes Steward, Esq., Att Cotterstock.
TO MRS. STEWARD.
Nov. 23d, 1698.
To take acknowledgments of favours for favours done you, is onely yours. I am always on the receiving hand; and you who have been pleas'd to be troubled so long with my bad company, in stead of forgiveing, which is all I could expect, will turn it to a kindness on my side. If your house be often so molested, you will have reason to be weary of it, before the ending of the year: and wish Cotterstock were planted in a desart, an hundred miles off from any poet.-After I had lost the
to Mrs. Steward. Miss, however, which about twenty years before was only applied to women of the town, was at this time used in speaking of very young girls. So below," pretty Miss Betty," (afterwards Mrs. Gwillim); who was then under six years old.
happiness of your company, I could expect no other than the loss of my health, which follow'd, according to the proverb, that misfortunes seldome come alone. I had no woman to visite * but the parson's wife; and she, who was intended by nature as a help meet for a deaf husband, was somewhat of the loudest for my conversation; and for other things, I will say no more then that she is just your contrary, and an epitome of her own country. My journey to London was yet more unpleasant than my abode at Tichmarsh; for the coach was crowded up with an old woman, fatter than any of my hostesses on the rode. - Her weight made the horses travel very heavily; but, to give them a breathing time, she would often stop us, and plead some necessity of nature,* and tell us we were all flesh and blood: but she did this so frequently, that at last we conspir'd against her; and that she might not be inconvenienc'd by staying in the coach, turn'd her out in a very dirty place, where she was to wade up to the ankles, before she cou'd reach the next hedge. When I was ridd of her, I came sick home, and kept my house for three weeks together; but,
* At Tichmarsh, after his return from Cotterstock.
2 The reader who may here be disposed to charge our author with indelicacy, should consider, that the manners of the last age were much grosser, or, shall I say— simpler, than they are at present; and that even in the highest circles, and in the company of the most elegant women, many things were said, without giving offence to the most fastidious, which would now be thought