Updated 14 Mar 2001

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Letters from John Howe 1823-

Letters from John Howe (sometimes called the "Poet of the Peak") to his daughter Eliza Dorothy (born 1806) who was in Service in Manchester. John produced a large book of classical but moralising and indigestible poetry. Eliza grew to become a humorous and light-hearted old lady, but kept her father's letters which have been handed down 5 generations to appear here. Personally I find John's letters too heavy to be enjoyable but the reader may disagree.

Letter 1

Miss E.D.Howe,
  at Mr Lingard's,
   No 32 Water Street,
     Old Quay,
                                                    Ashford 27 Oct 1823
Dr Daughter,

          I have nothing to say beyond Mary Gregory is married to
George Guyte and today George Birley to Jane Hibbs. Fr Palfreeman
is to be the Father. Mr Frost is come to Cockaynes House and his
Rum I am told is 7/6 p Bottle. but suppose I give you "a Picture from
Nature" which I wrote in 1800

                              A picture from Nature

        Those who have never observed our boldest coasts, have no
idea of their tremendous sublimity!- The boasted works of art. the
highest towers, and the noblest domes, are but ant-hills when put in
comparison. The single cavity of a rock often exhibits a coping higher
than the ceiling of a Gothic cathedral. The face of the shore offers to
the view a wall of massive stone, ten times higher than our tallest
steeples. What should we think of a precipice three quarters of a mile
in height? And yet the rocks of St Kilda are higher. What must be our
awe, to approach the edge of that stupendoud height, and to look
down on the unfathomable vacuity below! - to ponder on the terrors of
falling to the bottom, where the waves, that swell like mountains, are
scarcely seen to curl on the surface, and the roar of an Ocean, a
thousand leagues broad, appears softer than the murmur of a brook! It
is in these formidable mansions, that myriads of sea fowls are forever
seen sporting; flying. in security, down the deep depth, half a mile
below the feet of the spectator! The crow and the chough avoid these
frightful precipices. They choose smaller heights, where they are less
exposed to the tempest. It is the Cormarant, the Gurnet, the Tarrock,
and the Terne, that venture to these dreadful retreats, and claim an
undisturbed possession. To the spectator from above these birds,
though some of them are above the size of an Eagle, seem scarcely
as large as a swallow, and their loudest screaming can scarcely be
heard!To walk along he shore, when the tide is departed, or to sit in
the hollow of a rock when it comes in, attentive to the various sounds
that gather on every side, above and below, may raise the mind to its
highest and noblest exertions. The solemn roaring of the waves,
swelling into or susiding from the vast caverns beneath; the piercing
note of the Gull; the frequent chutter of the Guillemotte; the loud voice
of the Auk; the scream of the Heron; and the hoarse, deep, periodical
croaking of the Cormorant, all unite to furnish out the grandeur of the
scene, and turn the mind to HIM who is the essence of all sublimity!

                        How do you like its colouring?

    I cannot see why people are ashamed to acknowledge a passion for
popularity? The love of popularity is the love of being beloved.

    Long sentences in a short composition, are like large rooms in a
small house.

    There is nothing more universally commended than a fine day - The
reason is that people can commend it without envy.

     To endevour all one's days to fortify our minds with learning, and
philosophy is to spend so much in armour, that one has nothing left to

     What an unfortunate necessity is it, in the constitution of man, that
his understanding is scarcely matured, when the organs of his body
begin to fail.

     The world is divided into people that read; people that write; people
that think; - and Foxhunters.

      Poetry, and consumptions, are the most flattering of diseases.

      The words "no more", have a singular pathos! - reminding at once
of past pleasure, and the future conclusion of it.

      "I once had the curiosity" says Montesquieux, "to keep an account
of the number of times I heard a story repeated. During three weeks
that it occupied the polite world, I heard it told two hundred and twenty
five times - which I thought quite sufficient."

       If you write an original piece, you wonder no one ever thought of
the best of sublects before you! - if you translate, of the best of

       Hope is a flatterer - but the most upright of all parasites: for she
frequents the poor man's hut, as well as the palace of his superior.

       They are ringing for a wedding, it is a fine day and ---------  bless
you and Martha -----

     [page becomes unreadable after this - Ed]

Letter 2

Miss E.D.Howe.                             Nov 5 1823
  at Mr Lingard's,
   No 32 Water Street,
     Old Quay,

                       Ashford Nov 5 1823
Dr Daughter,

 Mrs Morewood is so pleased with your last letter which I have
shewn her, owing to its being so well done, that she, and  Miss
Needham desired me to present their best compliments the first time I
write to you; they are quite enchanted with your manner of entering
into the Spirit of Ossian, and delivering yourself so well. Mrs
Morewood tells me you are a severe loss to the Sunday school, and
when she goes to Manchester she will call upon you; she wishes to be
better acquainted with you she, also, tells me, Mrs Dixon has been to
Edale. They are much pleased with the account she gives them of
Martha. Martha has sent for Hannah, and I wish you to take notice of
what she says about your property here. I am very sorry I was duped
out of them, and Martha will be much duped by them yet. Your Aunt
had her plans, and now I know what they were! Tho' I carry a pleasant
aspect, yet I despise her: I have wonderfull reasons for so doing! Your
Mother, not 4 hours before she died, told me "she had been thinking
what would become of me when she was gone, for she  would  soon
leave me"; she said "the children are too young for house-keepers,
and what I had to do for them at present. She wished me to marry
again, and soon, if I meant to keep my things together in the house, for
I might depend upon it, Grace would soon strip my house if she could,
on that account she wished me to marry again". I thought she was too
severe then, but I find her words true. I have now no sheets but what
is on the beds. They are all gone, nobody knows any thing about them,
but she says "the wenches must have done something with them", but
when your Desk went out of my house, they went in the bottom drawer
and the lock spiled, now it can be opened, but the sheets are gone!
and a great number of other things. Your Uncle George, I am told, has
said at Sheffield that I owe him 19£ -- I owe him nothing and never did
- but, as they have a deal of my furniture if I should die, they mean to
rob my children of them, by saying I owed them money, or that they
had payed me for them, which is false; take care of this letter. For if I
die, I could wish every thing to be sold by Auction, and by Mr Jackson.
everything is gone except the table cloths and napkins. Mr Tarrand
has given up his shop to a Mr Glossop who is cousen to you. Indeed,
whoever has any thing to do, in business, with Mr Morton's money will
come to nothing. Mr Tarrand had 120£ - I know how it was gotten, and
I know it will all go.I am convinced that in 20 years time there will not
be a sixpence of it left.

       Rachel Anthony is very ill. Old George is not dead yet, nor will
Morton be dead whilest he is alive. They are so congenial in mind, and

     Is your W (?) a Derbyshire man? Where from? Miss  Needhams
wish to know. I am affraid Sutton will leave Tideswell for Manchester.
Mr Lingard wishes him. Sutton has seen the horse (?) head you were
so frightened with. The Church is elegantly painted Oak colour. The
pulpit where Mr Green's seat was, and the loft (?) new  painted
hansomer than before. I have wrote part of a letter for America. The
weather is very wet. M A I have not heard of lately. How do you like my
last letters. Let Martha see them which will be the same as writing to
both of you. Miss Lee's respects, we are all in health. Emily desires to
be remembered to you and Martha. I am

                        Dr Daughter
                                   your affectionate Father

                                         John Howe.

The enclosed are my own (?) remarks, you may let any one see them.
They may be valuable to you.

Letter 3

                                                                Dec 4 1823
Miss Howe,
  at Mr Lingard's,
   Old Quay,

Dr Daughter,

           As Martha can hear from me, by you, I need not write to her,
unless it is a perticular wish of hers I should do so. I am informed Mr
Burgoine has taken a public house in Ashbourne for Sarah Longdon,
her Bro Thomas and her sister is to live with her; they go in about 2
months. We have had an offer by Mr Brittlebank of Lindsey's and
Simm's shares; too much money is asked for them: perhaps I shall see
Brittlebank again soon. They ask 30£ a share too much. The
Church is elegantly seated and the Pulpit placed where Mr Green's
seat was, on the side of the Church and two stoves set up also. Io.
Heyward lives where B.Mason's shop was, and B Sellers in the house.
Mr Swift wants his money: Lindsay and Simms are at their wits end.
Brittlebank will have his morgage in from Lindsay, he says Lindsay is a
vile villain. When Mary Gregory was married, the night before her pies,
seed loaf, and spice puddings were stolen for mischief, an
advertisment was put up by some funny person, which I enclose: you
will see George Guite is called Godfrey Moonshine.

        Think, when you are enraged at any person, what would
become of your feelings should he die during the dispute.

        Some men are called sagacious on account of their
avarice; wheras a child can clench its fist as soon as
it is born.

        When a person is so far engaged in a dispute as to
wish to get the victory, he ought to desist. The idea
of a conquest will so do him, that it is hardly possible he should discern
the truth.

        Some men use no other means to acquire respect than by
insisting on it; and it sometimes answers their purpose, as it does a
highwayman's in regard to money.

       It is surprising that ancient mythology never represents
Appollo enamoured of Venus, considering the
remarkable deference that Wit has paid to Beauty in
all ages. The orientals act more consonantly, when they suppose the
nightingale enamoured of the rose: the most harmonious bird, of the
fairest and most delightful flower.

      The vulgar trace your faults - those you have in
common with themselves; but they have no idea of your excellencies,
to which they have no pretensions.

       Man in general may be considered as a machine, and the
formation of happiness as the business or employment; virtue his
repository or collection of instruments; the goods of fortune as his
materials. In proportion as the workman, the instruments, and the
materials excel, the work will be executed in the greater perfection.

       "Set a beggar on horseback, and he will ride to the ---" is a
common proverb, and a real truth. He must in consequence
purchase finery, before he knows the emptiness of it. The
established gentleman disregards it, through habit and familiarity.

       Virtue should be considered as part of taste, and should
as much avoid deceit and sinister dealings in discourse, as real wit
would to puns, bad language, or false grammar.

        We ought not to destroy an insect, we ought not to
quarrel with a dog, without reason sufficient to vindicate us
through all the courts of morality.

        How meloncholy it is to travel, late and fatigued, on any ambitious
project, on a winter's night, and to observe the lights of cottages, when
all unambitious people are warm and happy, -- or, at least, at
rest in their beds: some of them, though, probably as wretched as
princes, for any thing we know to the contrary.

        The trouble occasioned by the want of a servant, oh! how far
less than the plague of a bad one! -- as it is painful
to clean a pair of shoes, than undergo an excess of anger.

        Glowing characters are not always the most agreeable.
The mild radiance of the emerald is by no means less pleasing than
the flush of the ruby.

        The sublimely simple and comprehensive precept of Christianity,
"Do unto all men as ye would they should do unto you", leads the
moralist to compress the various tenets of his doctrine into "Behave
unto all men as ye would they should behave unto you". The
ambitious, the covetous, the proud, the vain, the angry, the
debauchee, the glutton, all are lost in the character of the
well bred man. Or, if nature should now and then venture to
peep forth, she withdraws in an instant, and does not shew enough of
herself to become disgusting. The Abbe Bellegarde justly tells us, "Ill
breeding is not a single defect. It is the result of
many. It is sometimes a gross ignorance of decorum, or a
stupid indolence, which prevents us from giving to others the attention
due to them; it is a peevish malignity, which inclines us to
oppose the inclination of those with whom we converse. It is the
consequence of foolish vanity which has no complaisance for any
other person. The effect of a proud and whimsical humour, which
soars above all the rules of civility: or, lastly, it is produced by a
meloncholy turn of mind, which pampers itself with a rude and
disobliging behavour.

       W Goodwin is dead and buried in Ashford lane of a cancer in his

Letter 4

Miss E.D.Howe,
   at Mr Lingard's,
    No 32 Water Street,
     Old Quay,

                                                     Ashford Dec 22 1823
Dr Daughters,

           I have received Eliza's 3 letters yesterday. I have not thought
about them yet. I have not had time. Milns going to Manchester
tomorrow, he takes Hannah's goods with him, which you will be so
good to help her too. You notice one part of Ossian which I always
admired, there is another part on a nother subject which I shall point
out, perhaps in my next. That I used to admire, these two
passages I consider the most sublime in the works of Ossian. But let
me present you with an Ode of mine, that I wrot in immitation of the
Welch in 1804 or 5.

                           Ode to the Wind.

                        In the manner of the Welch

Wind of the firmament! of ready course. and strong of voice, in ranging
far away! a terrible being art thou! uttering sounds most hoarse. The
bravado of the world!- without foot or wing. It is a wonder how awfully
thou hast been placed in the store house of the sky, without any
support! and now how swiftly dost thou run over the hill! Tell me, my
never resting friend, of thy journey on some northern blast, over the
dale.No one will stop thee, or question thee. Not an arrayed host, nor
deputed hand! - Not the blue blade, nor flood, nor rain. Fire will not
burn thee: thou will not be weakened by deceit: drown thou wilt not!
Thou wilt not get entangled for thou hast no angle: the swift steed is
not wanted under - nor bridge over, the stream, nor boat.- No
catchpole can arrest thee! nor the power of a clan in thy day of
triumph. Thou that winnowest the tops of trees, no eye can ken thee
on thy vast naked couch. A thousand shall hear thee, nest of the
pouring rain. Thou art God's bounty along the earth, thou roaringand
irritating breaker of the top of the oak. - Thou shouter in the morn of
day on high! - Thou waster of the heap of chaff. Thou gruff of voice.
Thou comest a tempest on the calm of the sea. Thou scatterer and
heaper of the fallen leaves! Thou ruthless lord of the firmament, that
flieth irresistable over the bosom of the brine to the extremities of the
world! (?) of the hill, be above to night: my friend goes to see his love
                           How do you like it?

                   Milton's Il Penseroso

     The following lines, first published in 1647 have some
intrinsic merit; but if they were, as a learned commentator
suggests, the occasion of the Il Penseroso of Milton, as "being the
plan, which is there drawn out into larger dimentions", they
have a merit beyond their own, in the opinion of every lover of English

               Hence all you vain delights,
               As short as are the nights,
               Wherein you spend your folly;
               There's nought in this life sweet,
               If man were wise to see't,
               But only melancholy;

               Oh! sweetest melancholy!
               Welcome, folded arms and fixed eyes,
               A sigh, that piercing, mortifies;
               A look thats fastened to the ground;
               A tongue chained up - without a sound.

               Fountain heads, and pathless groves,
               Places which pale passion loves;
               Moonlight walks, when all the fowls
               Are warmly hous'd, save bats and owls,
               A midnight bell - a parting groan,

               These are the sounds we feed upon.
               Then stretch our bones in a still gloomy valley,
               Nothing's so dainty sweet, as lovely melancholy.

Methinks there is a certain pure and delicate pride, in an ingenuous
nature, which tempts it to fall short,even of that praise it
thinks is due, and which it languishes to bestow, lest it should be
mistaken for adulation.

                         My love to you all

                                    John Howe

(on this blank page and over the address,
has been written a list of songs-Ed)

The Foresters
                                             Dicks -----(?)-------
A lady Fair
                                             The beggar Girl
Home sweet Home
                                             My Nanny
The bewildered Maid
                                             Black eye'd Susan
The rose bud at Summer
                                             The tip sail shivers
A rose tree in full bearing
                                             How sweet are the flowers
The Woodpecker
                                             To Jericho
The Thorn
                                             Liva Lo (?)
In my Cottage near the road
                                             Grenadier --(?)---
Poor little Sweep
                                             Eva ---(?)-- of the High Peak
The wandering Frog
                                             Bold Privateer
The Galley slave
                                             Jack Williams
Sheppards --- (?)---
                                             Di---(?)-- our the boat
Rule Brittania
God save the King
                                             The Bank of Clyde
The wounded huzar
                                             The Shannon side
                                             Pretty Betsy the milkmaid
Sweet ---(?)---
                                             The ---(?)--- and nobles daughter
The Deserter
                                             The soldiers return

Sweet Bobbie
                                             --(?)--- and I am hers
Bobbie Adam

Had I a love


The maid of the Mill

Commin through the Rye

Scots wa he

The Joy --(?)-- Song
                                              The seeds of love
Young Ridge
                                              Come all you pretty maidens

Letter 5

                                       (Ashford 29 Dec 1823)

Dr Daughter,

           I will now examine your letters, but as there are no day of the
month to more than one, I cannot tell which is the first and which
follows in succession, but I will begin with that dated. Dec 2 -- Your
poetical two lines about Homer, I have seen, but I do not know where,
and very true ones they are. There is very few instances of poets
prospering in this life, tho'  nearly all might if they were like
other men, but they are generally wildin any thing else but their
favorite - poetry! rational, in nothing more. Your lines I shall
examine with pleasure, because, poetry is the highest state of
literature. The lines you sent me from the Manchester paper are
excellent in their way, I think too good for a newspaper, and if the
author was aware of their merrit, he would have Magazined them. You
use the word "and" too much, use as few words as you can to make a
full expression. Some people to say "yes" will go a mile about
to declare it, and it is but "yes" when they have done. It is the same
with every thing else, you may express your sentiments in
full, in fewer words than you make use off: at your
age, there is but few women can excell you. What do you think of my
expression - "but at your age there is but few women can excel you".
Tell me where it is wrong and why? There is one
word too many in the expression, I have given you a specimen, you
will see above how it is. Now for the second letter. You begin by
saying "I have not had a bit of time to spare for any thing". I
have put markes under the words there is too many in the expression.
I hope you will receive that letter I wrote to you about
Blagden's death, there is a full account of his villainy since his father's
death: having once declared the nature of him, it is right to let it dye
away, but things should be known to be a guide to others. I
had Bessy Doxey here last night, she had just left her place
and means to stop at home, she desires to be remembered to you in
her best manner, she has never seen one yet she respects
so well as you. You are right in your ideas about the married state,
what marriage is, I will inform you in another letter (if it will
hold it).

      Now for your third letter. Robert has been at Manchester, he had
not time to see any of you. Your mind takes after
your Godmother's, Madam Blore, and I am sure you will be
very excellent some day, only give your mind to it. I am sorry
Martha was disapointed with Hannah not going to her request, her Box
only came that day Martha expected her at Manchester. I think the
other children have grown equal to Hannah. I thank Mrs Dixon for her
attention to Hannah. Ossian was blind when he addressed the sun,
and the whole is a sublime address. I know not if Ossian's poems were
a forgery or not upon the public. Dr Johnson was at a deal of trouble
about them, to prove whether they were or not, he took a journey to
the western Isles of Scotland on purpose to prove them (his
journey I have) and I think proves them to be a forgery; the Irish Nation
lay claim to them, and according to the Novel of the "Wild Irish Girl" I
think very justly. I have no doubt but MacPherson fabricated them
wholey. If they were written in Ossians time, about the birth of Jesios
Christ, they are wonderfull; if written in MacPearsons time, silly things,
compareing them with the times of Ignorance and knowledge. I will
now give you the Poem that was the foundation of Milton's

Il Penseroso. I think I have not given it you before. I have
now no doubt but Hannah will be well off if she is a good girl.

                           Milton's Il Penseroso

     The following lines, first published in 1647 have some
intrinsic merit; but if they were, as a learned commentator
suggests, the occasion of the Il Penseroso of Milton, as "being the
plan, which is there drawn out into larger dimensions", they
have a merit beyond their own, in the opinion of every lover of English

               Hence all you vain delights,
               As short as are the nights,
               Wherein you spend your folly;
               There's nought in this life sweet,
               If man were wise to see't,

               But only melancholy;
               Oh! sweetest melancholy!
               Welcome, folded arms and fixed eyes,
               A sigh, that piercing, mortifies;
               A look thats fastened to the ground;

               Fountain heads, and pathless groves,
               Places which pale passion loves;
               Moonlight walks, when all the fowls
               Are warmly hous'd, save bats and owls,
               A midnight bell - a parting groan,

               These are the sounds we fed upon.
               (?)  our bones in a still gloomy valley,
               Nothing's so dainty sweet, as lovely melancholy.

   I have just seen John Taylor and Son. John desires to be
remembered to you, and the son also, who says he has no
wax laid upon his face this Christmas.

                 I am your wellwishern (?) Father,

                             John Howe.
Ashford Dec 29 1823

Letter 6

          Miss E.D.Howe.                 Jany 18 1824
           at Mr Lingard's,
            No 32, Water Street,
              Old Quay,

                                         Ashford Jan 10 1824
Dr Daughters,

           Quick is the succession of human events, The cares of to day
are seldom the cares of tomorrow, and when we lie down at night, we
may safely say, to most of out troubles--- "ye have done your worst,
and we shall meet no more!" Excellence is providentially placed
beyond the reach of indolence, that success may be the
reward of industry, and that idleness may be punished with obscurity
and disgrace.

           Every extraordinary occurrence in our lives afford us an
opportunuty to learn if we will, something more of our own hearts and
tempers, than we were before aware of. It is easy to promise ourselves
beforehand, that our conduct shall be wise, or moderate, or resolute,
on any given occasion: but when that occasion occurs, we do not
always find it easy to make good the promise: such a difference there
is between theory and practice.

           Every scene of life has two sides; a dark and a bright one, and
the mind that has an equal mixture of melancholy and vivacity, is best
of all qualified for the contemplation of either.

          In all cases where we suffer by an injurious and unreasonable
attack, and can justify our conduct by a plain and simple narrative,
truth itself seems a satire; because, by implicationat least, it convicts
our adversaries of the want of charity and candour.

        Fame begets favour, and one talent, if it be rubbed a little bright
by use and practice, will procure a man more friends than a thousand

       I have heard people say that they can wrap themselves up in the
cloak of innocence, and treat detraction at defiance! This
seems to me a very difficult thing. Slander is like an heavy shower;
and though you may stand dry beneath the pent house of your own
conscience, the world does not see it: and what is still more,
will not see it. Men in this respect, differ from angels.
They have more joy over one fallen sinner, than over an hundred just

       When a person of genius condescends to converse with those of
low, and vulgar understandings, it gives the sensation that a tall man
feels on being forced to stoop in a low room.

       There is pleasure annexed to the communication of one's ideas,
whether by word of mouth, or by letter, which nothing earthly can
supply the place of; and it is the delight, we find, in this mutual
intercourse, that not only proves us to be creatures intended for social
life, but more than anything else, perhaps, fits us for it. There are,
indeed, all sorts of characters in the world; there are some whose
understandings are so sluggish, and whose hearts are such mere
clods, that they live in society without either contributing to the sweets
of it, or having any relish for them. The faculty of contemplating
mankind in the abstract, apart from those possessions which, both by
nature and the power of habitual association, would intervene to cloud
our view, is only to be obtained by a life of virtue and constant
meditation, by temperance, and purity of thought. Whenever it is
attained, it must greatly tend to correct our motives - to simplify our
desires - and to excite a spirit of contentment and pious resignation.
We then, at length, are enabled to contemplate our being, in all its
bearings, and in its full extent, and the result is that superiority to
common views, and indifference to the things of this life, which should
be the fruit of all true philosophy which is called the Christian.

        I would exort you earnestly - you who are yet unskilled in the
ways of the world - to beware on what object you concentre your
hopes. Pleasures may allure - pride or ambition may stimulate, but
their fruits are hollow and deceitfull, and they afford no sure, no solid
satisfaction. You are placed on the earth in a state of probation - your
continuance here will be, at the longest, a very short period, and when
you are called from hence you plunge into an eternity, the
contemplation of which will be in correspondence to your
past, unutterable happy or inconceivably miserably. Your fate
will probably depend on your early pursuits - it will be these which will
give the turn to your character and to your pleasures. I beseech you
therefore, with a meek and lowly spirit, to read the pages of that book,
which the wisest and best of men have acknowledged to be the word
of God. You will then find a rule of moral conduct, such as the world
never had any idea of before its divulgation. If you covert earthly
happiness, it is only to be found in the path you will find there laid
down, and I can confidently promise you, in a life of simplicity and
purity, a life passed in accordance with the divine word, such
substantial bliss, such unruffled peace, as is no where else to be
found. All other schemes of earthly pleasure are fleeting and
unsatisfactory. They all entail upon them repentance and bitterness of
thought. This alone endureth forever - this alone embraces equally the
present and the future - this alone can arm a man against every
calamity - can alone shed the balm of peace over the scene of life
when pleasures have lost their zest and the mind can no longer look
forward to the dark and mysterious future. Above all beware of false
philosophy, which will not bear a man through the most trying stage of
his existance, and I know of none that will do it but the Christian.

      It is not possible to observe the manners of a multitude, of
whatever rank, without learning something; I mean if a man has a mind
capable of reflection. If he sees nothing to imitate, he is sure to see
something to avoid: if nothing to congratulate his fellow creatures
upon, at least much to excite his compassion.

      A letter may be written upon any thing or nothing. Just as that any
thing or nothing happens to occur. A letter is written as a conversation
is maintained or a journey performed, not by preconcerted or
premeditated means, a new contrivence or an invention never heard of
before, but merely maintaining a progress, and resolving, as a
postillion does, having once set out, never to stop till we reach the
appointed end.

      Death borders upon our birth, and our cradle stands in our grave.
We lament the loss of our parents; how soon shall our children bewail
us. Shakespere's Hamlet says

       When sorrows come, they come not single spies,
       But in battalions.

      Nothing enlarges the mind and forms the taste
like truth. - When one is capable of judging, comparing, and
reasoning with perfect justness, there is always grandeur in the ideas.
Admiration is not then lavished; it is only felt for
objects whichare worthy of exciting; and importance never
attached but to objects which possess real value. With such
impressions we are sure to avoid errors in judgment and falsity of
opinion, which are the principal causes of puerility, extravagance, and
littleness of mind.

      All imposture weakens confidence and chills benevolence. It is
treason against the great republic of human nature to make any man's
virtues the means of deceiving him, whether on great or little

      Poetry induces us to examine our own ideas; to
nourish the most refined sentiments; to view the
charms of nature with double delight. It dissipates many an heavy
hour, and has often turned grief into a pleasing melancholy.

                     I am, respectfully, your Father,

                            John Howe.

Letter 7

                                               Ashford March 8 1824
Dear Daughter,

             The Poem you sent from the Manchester Paper, aluding to
there being nothing left for learned men in this world, puts one in mind
of the various situations they have sustained in suffering. I will note
them, in part, to you.

             Fortune has rarely condescended to be the companion of
Merit. Even in these enlightened times, men of letters have lived in
obscurity, while their reputation was widely spread; and having
perished in poverty, while their works were enriching the booksellers.

            Homer, poor and blind, resorted to the public places
to recite his verses for a morcel of bread. The facetious poet,
Plautus, gained a livliehood by assisting a miller.
Xylander sold his notes on DionCassius for a dinner.
He tells us, that at the age of 18 he studied to acquire glory, but at 25
he studied to get bread. Aldus Marutius was so wretchedly
poor, that the expence of removing his library from Venice to Rome
made him insolvent. To mention those who left nothing behind them to
satisfy the undertaker, were an endless task.

           Agrippa died in a workhouse; Cervantes is
supposed to have died with hunger; Camoens was deprived
of the necessaries of life, and is supposed to have perished in the
streets. The great Tasso was reduced to such a dilemma,
that he was obliged to borrow a crown from a friend to subsist through
the week. He alludes to his distress in a pretty Sonnet, which he
addresses to his cat, entreating her to assist him, during the night, with
the lustre of her eyes, having no candle by which he could see to write
his verses.

          Ariosto bitterly complains of poverty in his Satires:
when at length the liberality of Alphonso enabled him to build a small
house, it was most miserably furnished!When he was told that such a
building was not fit for one who had raised so many fine palaces in his
writings, he answered, that the structure of words and that of
stones was not the same thing.

         Cardinal Bentivoglio, the ornament of Italy and of
literature, languished in his old age, in the most distressing poverty;
and, having sold his Palace to satisfy his creditors, left nothing behind
him but his reputation.

        Le Page resided in a little cottage on the borders of
Paris, and while he supplied the world with the most agreeable
Romances, never knew what it was to possess any moderate degree
of comfort in pecuniary matters.

Du Ryer, a celebrated French Poet, was constrained to
labour with rapidity, and to live in the cottage of an obscure village. His
bookseller brought his Heroic verses for 100 sols the 100 lines, and
the smaller ones for 50 sols.

Vaugelas, the most polished writer of the French language,
whose life was passed in giving it all its perfection, and who, it is said,
devoted 30 years to his translation of Quintus Curtius possessed
nothing valuable but his manuscripts. It is accorded of this ingenious
scholar, that he left his corpse to the surgeons, for the benefit of his

Corneille, when dying, was a melancholy spectacle in his
house, and deprived of even a little broth. Dryden, for less
than £300, sold Tonson 10,000 verses as may be seen by the
agreement which has been published.

John Stow quitted the occupation of a taylor for that of an
antiquary, but his studies placed him in embarrassed circumstances.

Dr Dee, in the reigns of Elizabeth and James, the celebrated
mathematician was a very learned man. After having collected a library
of 4000 volumes and enriched it with mathematical instruments and
MSS, and even in possession of a wide reputation, died in extreme

Simon Oakley, a most learned scholar in Oriental literature,
addressed a letter to the Earl of Oxford, in which he paints his distress
in colours not less just than they are glowing. After having devoted his
life to Asiatic researches then not less uncommon than they were
valuable, he had the satisfaction of dating his preface to his great work
from Cambridge Castle, where he was confined for debt; and he does
this with an air of triumph, as a matyr feels enthusiasm in the cause for
which he perishes.

Spencer, amiable poet!, languished out his life in misery. He
died in want of bread.

Savage, in the pressing hour of distress, sold that eccentric
poem, "The Wanderer", which had occupied him several
years, for ten pounds.

Our great Milton, as every one knows, sold his immortal work
for 10, to a bookseller, being too poor to undertake the printing it on
his own account; and Otway, and Butler, and
Chatterton, it is sufficient to name. The latter, while he
supplied a variety of monthly magazines with their chief materials,
found "a penny tart a luxury"; and a luxury it was to him who could not
always get bread to his water.

Samuel Boyce, whose poem on Creation ranks high in the
poetic scale, was absolutely famished to death; and was found dead in
a garret, with a blanket thrown over his shoulders, fastened by a
skewer, with a pen in his hand! Who shall persue important labours
when they read these anecdotes? On this subject what an admirable
observation has Bayle made. "What a pity it is, that so many
excellent men, in learning, should have been reduced to this great
misery, while the posterity of so many fools display such splendid

I wish every man of letters could apply to himself the the concluding
lines of this beautiful epitaph, which a friend of Le Sage
composed for this ingenius writer.

          Beneath this tomb Le Sage has found repose,
          Who well the gay and serious powers couls blend;

          Tho' not of Fortune's friends, he gave his vows
          To other hopes, and still was Virtue's Friend

In a book, entitled  De Infortunio Litteratorum, may be
found other examples of the miseries of literary men.

     Let us see now, how much literature suffered from the
imprisonment of learned men. Imprisonment seems not much to have
disturbed the man of letters in the progress of his studies. It was in
prison that Boethius composed his excellent book on the
Consolations of Philosophy. Grotius wrote, in his
confinement, his Commentary on St Mathew, with other works.
Buchanan, in a dungeon of a Monastery in Portugal,
composed his excellent Paraphrases of the Psalms of David.
Pelisson, during 5 years confinement for some state affairs,
persued with ardour his studies in the Greek language, in Philosophy,
and particularly in Theology; and produced several good compositions.
Michael Cervantes composed the best and most agreeable
book in the Spanish language during his captivity in Barbary.
Fleta, a well known and very excellent little Law production,
was written by a person confined in the Fleet prison for debt, but
whose name has not been preserved. There is another work which
derives its title from the Fleet prison. It is Fleta Minor, or the
laws of Art and Nature in knowing the Bodies of Metals etc. It is written
by Sir John Pettus. He gave it this title because he translated
it from the German during his confinement in this prison.

Charles the First, during his cruel confinement at Holmsby,
wrote that excellent book entitled The Portrait of a King;
which he addressed to his son, and where the Political reflections will
be found not unworthy of Tacitus. This work has been
attributed, by his enemies, to Dr Gawden; but the penetrating
Hume, and the acute Smollet, make no difficulty of
giving this work to the Royal author.

Queen Elizabeth, while confined by her sister Mary, wrote
some charming Poems, which we do not find she ever could equal
after her enlargement. And Mary, Queen of Scots, during her
long imprisonment by Elizabeth, produced many pleasing poetic
compositions. Sir Walter Ralegh - according to his own
orthography - produced, in his confinement, his "History of the World".
The plan of the Henriade was sketched, and the greater part
composed, by Voltaire, during his imprisonment in the
Bastille. Howel, the author of Familiar
Letters,wrote the chief part of them, and almost all his other works,
during his long confinement in the Fleet prison. He used his pen for
subsistance, and there produced one of the most agreeable
works in the English language.

Sir William Davenant finished his poem of Gondibert during
his confinement by the rebels in Carisbroke Castle. De Foe,
when imprisoned in Newgate
for a political pamphlet, began, and finished, Robinson Cruso, and a
Review; a periodical paper, which was extended to 9 thick volumes,
and was the model of the celebrated papers of Steele. He
also composed there the greatest part of his "June Divino".

       Notwithstanding all the hard labours of the learned, which is the
information of mankind, yet the tyrants of the earth wished to keep the
people as ignorant as they were in the first days of the world; on that
account, the unsparing hand of conquerors carried their vengeance to
the Destruction of Books.

       The Romans burnt the books of the Jews, of the Christians, and
the Philosophers: the Jews burnt the books of the Christians and the
Pagans; and the Christians burnt the books of the Pagans and the

       The greater part of the Books of Origen, and the other
Heretics, were continually burnt by the Orthodox (?) party. The Poems
of the ancient Paganswere frequently destroyed at the instigation of
the monks. Cardinal Xemenes, at the taking of
Grenada, condemned to the flames five thousand Alcorans. The
Puritans burnt every thing they found which bore the vestige of Popish
origin. We have on record many curious accounts of their Holy
depredations; of maiming images, and erasing pictures.

     Cromwell zealously set fire to the library at Oxford, which
was the most curious in Europe.

       The most violent persecution which ever the Republic of Letters
has undergone, is that of the Caliph Omar. After having it proclaimed
throughout the Kingdom, that the Alcoran contained every thing which
was usefull to believe and to know, he caused to be gathered together
whatever books could be found in his wide realms, and distributed
them to the owners of the baths, to be used in heating their stoves;
and it is said that they employed no other materials for this purpose
during a period of six months!

       Even the civilization of the eighteenth century could not preserve
from the savage and destructive fury of a disorderly mob, in the most
polished city of Europe, the valuable papers of the Earl of Mansfield,
which were madly consigned to the flames during the disgraceful riots
of June 1780.

       I am now tired with thinking and compareing, and will to day
conclude, who am,

                 your affectionate Father,

                  well wisher, and a Disire

                   of your future happyness.

                      John Howe

NB I have many compliments
 to deliver from various quarters,
 accept them all together.

Letter 8

                                          (Ashford 13 Mar 1824)
Dr Daughter,

     I am told Martha has a lover of some sort, whether he is a Real, or
a fancy one I cannot say: I wish her to be upon her guard, she is
well fixed at present, she is young enough yet, and
will run a great risque when she changes her
situation in life. It will be a life of care and troubles. I
wish her to marry some day, but not yet; and to see
her lover in all conditions, a deal may be learned from a
little, perhaps she may say.

    Soon is the youthful heart by passion mov'd;
    He saw, and lov'd me -- him I saw and lov'd.

but, I hope she will have her thought about her (sic)!

    Samuel Taylor is married to Eliza Skidmore of Longstone, George
and Mary Guite (?) are going to live where John (?) Smith lived. The
road is contrived well over the Hall-orchard by Matthew Thorp
Thorp(?)-end, a straight road -and direct over the Church-yard by the
Bell-house end to the Town street and paved: no other road, beside, in
the Church-yard. Trees planted round the Church yard, and Ivy's at W
Bagshaw's & (?) Longdon House end next the street that Mrs Ashby
from her seat in the Church may not have to see naked walls, They
are railed off. Samuel Birley daughter married to Anty Hallas of Little

John Doxey, last Monday at Wirksworth, to a woman of Middleton,
they are just come in here, and the Bells are now celebrating
their wedding. As I have the chance of sending by Alice Fowler, I will
send 'Milton' by her you must take care of the Books, I cannot part with
them. There is a variety of my Novels missing; if any of you have
Them, I wish you to get them into your hands and take care
of them for me. I have just seen Elizabeth Doxey. I read to her what
you say about her in your last letter, she seems to be as warm after
your well doing as you are after hers; she says, she never has found
your pleasing and agreeable company yet in any one, tho' she has
seeked for it; but, when you come over it will be to her a
transport meeting - a meeting of bliss! I have a great many
compliments & respects from here to you, accept them in a whole
lump! they are, at least, a ton in weight. Mary Ann has buried her child,
she came over with X, stay'd a week with me, put things into order,
and tho' she is return'd, X would not go back who is with me. I expect
before the wake she will live with me. Your poem I shall notice in
another letter. The letter you sent containing "A sketch from Nature", I
have let Mr Newton look at, who admires it, you made your
Uncle so tipsy, he forgot you had sent a letter by him and wore it in his
pocket untill Shrove Tuesday.

       I will now point out some pages in Milton, that are grand and

         And chiefly thou, O Spirit! that dost prefer,
         Before all temples, the upright heart, and pure,
         Instruct me, for thou know'st: what in me is dark

         Illumine: what is low, raise and support,
         That to the height of this great argument
         I may assert eternal providence,
         And justify the ways of God to man.  Milton
        Thick as autumnal leaves, that strew the brooks,

        In Villambrosa.
        His tongue dropped manna

Homer says - Words flowed, than honey sweeter from his tongue.

Milton   No light,- but rather darkness visible.

Do      Blossoms, and fruits at once of golden hue.

Do      How from that sapphire fount the crisped brooks,
         Rolling on orient pearl, and sands of gold.

Do      ---------------- unite their streams,
         The birds their quire apply: airs, vernal airs,

         Breathing the smell of field and grove, attune,
         The trembling leaves,----

 Do      And these, the gems of heav'n - her starry train.

But I consider the following as the most grand, most sublime, most
elevated, most inchanting, most exquisite, and most immortal
discription of any in Milton.

         The gates wide open stood,
         That with extended wings and bannered host,
         Under spread ensigns marching, might pass through
         With horse and chariots ranked in loose array.

What a noble passage; with what skill it is expanded! It is like Homer's
description of Egyptian Thebes! Mr Popes translation is elegant -

       That spread her conquest (?) thousand states (?)

                                     See Homer Book (?) line 383

Porteus says         One murder makes a villain--millions an hero.

and Dr Young        One to destroy is murder by the law;
                    And gibbets keep the lifted hand in awe.
                    To murder thousands takes a specious name;
                    War's glorious art, and gives immortal fame.

                                      Your father, as usual

Ashford March 13 1824
                                         John Howe


I could not place upon the accompanying sheet of paper the whole of
my ideas about scolding. I continue them upon this paper also. I will
now state to you what I think would be a cure for that violent
disorder of scolding.

         Various remedies have been thought of for this distemper but all,
hitherto, of the rough and violent kind, which, therefore, if they remove
the symptoms for the present, leave a greater disposition toward the
disorder than before. Among these the common people frequently
prescribe the application of an oak stick, a horse-wip, or a leather
strap or belt, which are all liable to the objection I have just
stated. Others have recommended argumentation; but this,
like inoculation, will not produce the desired effect, unless the patient
be, in some degree prepared to receive it. Some have advised a
perfect silence in all persons who are near the patient, but I
must say, that wherever I have seen this tried, it has rather heightened
the disorder, by bringing on fits. The same thing may be said of
obedience, or letting the patient have her own way. This is
precisely like drinking in a Dropsical case, or curing a burning fever by
throwing in great quantities of brandy.

       My chief intention is to prove, that scolding is a disease,
and not a fault. I shall not enlarge much; because, the moment my
theory is adopted, every person will be able to treat the
disorder properly. I shall mention, however, the following
prescription, which I never found to fail, if properly administered:

       Take   ---- of Common Sense, thirty grains,
                      Decent Behaviour, one scruple,
                      Due Consideration, ten grains

Mix, and sprinkle the whole with, one moments
thought, to be taken as soon as any of the occasional causes

         By way of diet, though it is not necessary to restrict the patient to
a milk or vegetable diet, yet I have always found it proper to guard
them against strong or spirituous liquors or anything
that tends to heat the blood.

        But it is now expedient that I should state a matter of very great
importance in the prevention of this disorder, and which I have left till
now, that my arguments on the subject may appear distinct, and may
be comprehended under one view.It is commonly supposed, that this
disorder is peculiar to one only of the sexes, and, I trust, I need not
add, what sex that is. But although it may be true that they are most
liable to it, yet it is certain, from the theory laid down respecting the
pre-disposing causes, that the men are equally in danger.
Why then do we not find as many males afflicted with
scolding as we do females? For this plain reason:-scolding,
as proved above, is the effect of a certain noxious matter pent up. Now
this matter engenders in men, as well as in women; but the latter have
not the frequent opportunities for discharging it, as the men enjoy.
Women are, by fashion and certain confined modes of life, restrained
from all those public companies, clubs, assemblies, coffee-houses, etc
etc where the men have a continual opportunity of discharging the
cause of the disorder, without its ever accumulating in so great a
quantity as to produce the symptoms I have enumerated. This, and
this only, is the cause why the disease appears most often in
the female sex. I would propose, if I were a legislator, or if I had
influence enough to set a fassion, that the ladies should, in all
respects, imitate the societies of men; and they should have their
Clubs, their Coffee-houses, disputing societies, and even their
parliament. In such places, they would be able to take that species of
exercise that tends to keep down the disorder, which at
present accumulates in confinement, and, when Nature attempts a
discharge, the explosion is attended will (sic) all the violence and
irregularities I have before enumerated.

     As I have ventured to explain the nature of the scolding
disease at some length, I hope I shall succeed in abating the
unreasonable prejudices which have been fostered by an
affected superiority in our sex, joined to a portion of
ignorance which, to say the least, renders that superiority a matter of
great doubt. My motives are disinterested, and I shall be happy to give
advice to any person labouring under the disorder.

Insolence raises stronger indignation than even injustice, and
for no better reason than pride is less wounded by the one than the
other. For the same rason, a continual observance of little
attentions, makes more friends than real services.
Real services relieve our wants: attentions flatter our
pride. Our wants are removed - our
pride remains.

    It may be said of a "party of pleasure", that poor creatures are to
continue, a certain time, forcing smiles, and yawning
spontaneously, for two or three hours, after all relish is fled. In this
dismal condition many remain, night after night, because the
fasshionable hour of sleep is not yet arrived!! And what else
can they do? What a listless situation! without any pleasure where you
remain, without any motive to be gone, you remain, in a kind of
passive,Oyster state, - gaping, till the tide of
company moves you to your carriage, and, when you recover your
reflection in your bed chamber, you find you have passed the two last
hours in a kind of humming,buzzing stupor, without sattisfaction or
ideas of any kind.

    How can any person of real feeling agree with Lord
Shaftesbury, that "ridicule is the test of truth". Truth has
courage - but no effruntery, and is very liable to be
laught out of countenance.

Letter 9

     To                                                 May 31 1824
      Miss E.D.Howe,
       at Mr Lingard's,
        Water Street,
         Old Quay,
                                                       Ashford 31 May 1824
Dr Daughters,

            For the want of Orthography in one of these letters, I will try to
redeem myself now from error. As I wish you all to see the letters I
send to you, I need not write to Martha and Hannah: let Hannah look
the letters over well, to see how they are worded, she wants
a deal of improvement in letter writing. I thank her for her letter, and
when she sends again, tell her to give them you for you to send with
your own, it is cheaper than by post.

           The unkind behaviour of our acquaintance, though it is possible
that, in some instances, it may not much affect our happiness, nor
engage many of our thoughts, will sometimes obtrude itself upon us
with a degree of importunity not easily resisted, and then perhaps,
though almost insensible of it before, we feel more than the occasion
will justify.

           Every extraordinary occurence in our lives affords us an
oppertunity to learn, if we will, something more of our own hearts and
tempers, than we were before aware of. It is easy to promise
ourselves, beforehand,that our conduct shall be wise, or moderate, or
resolute, on any given occasion; but when that occasion occurs, we do
not always find it easy to make good the promise: such a differance
there is between theory and practice. Perhaps this is no new remark,
but it is not a whit the worse for being old, if it be true.

            There are few men that can do good and keep their own
secrets; none perhaps without a struggle. In former days, I have felt
my heart beat, and every vein throb, upon such an occasion. To
publish my own deed was wrong: I knew it to be so: but to conceal it
seemed like a voluntary injury to myself. Sometimes I could, and
sometimes I could not succeed: such is the heart, and so it is made

           If we do not improve by practice, then nothing can mend us,
and a man has no more cause to be mortified at being told that he has
excelled himself, than the Elephant had, whose praise it was that he
was the greatist Elephant in the world, himself excepted.

           Whatever I do, I confess that I most sincerely wish to do it well;
and when I have reason to hope I have succeeded, am pleased,
indeed, but not proud: for He who has placed everything out of the
reach of man, except what he freely gives him, has made it impossible
for a reflecting mind, that knows this, to indulge so silly a passion for a

           Easy chairs are no friends to cheerfulness, and a long winter
spent by the fireside is a prelude to an unhealthy spring. Every thing I
see in the fields is to me an object, and I can look at the same rivulet,
or at a handsome tree, every day of my life, with new pleasure. This
indeed is partly the effect of a natural taste for rural beauty, and partly
the effect of habit; for I never in all my life have let slip the opportunity
of breathing fresh air, and of conversing with nature, when I could
fairly catch it.

          The dread of a bold censure is ten times more moving than the
most eloquant persuasion; they that cannot feel for others, are the
persons of all the world who feel most sensible for themselves.

          No Length of time can wear out a taste for harmony, sweet
music is sure to find a corresponding faculty in the soul, a sensibility
that lives the last, which even religion itself does not extinguish.

Pride is seldom delicate: it will please itself with very mean
advantages.Envy feels not its own happiness but when it may
be compared with the misery of others. They become
enemies if they think you rich and
oppressors because they delight to find you weak.

        Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge
without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.

        To be received,at first, with indifference, is more
disagreeable than the scrutinising glance of the keenest observor
can ever prove embarrassing. Neglect is more
hateful, particularly during youth, than the most prying examination.

       Grief may find some relief in a certain novelty of objects, when
they are in harmony with it; but it is irritated by contrast.

              How fleet are the arrows in happiness dipt!
              What moment of bliss are long ages of years!
              But if in woe's current the mortal has sipt,

              What an age a diminutive moment appears.

      He that slanders me, paints me blacker tham I am; and he that
flatters me, whiter;-they both daub me; and when I look in the glass of
conscience, I see myself disfigured by both. The sword of slander, like
that of war, devours one as well as another; and a blameless
character is particulary delicious to its unsparing appetite.

         The single effort by which we stop short, in the down-hill path to
perdition, is itself, a greater exertion of virtue than an hundred acts of

        Wit and understanding are trifles without integrity. It is
that which gives value to every character. The ignorant
peasant, without faults, is greater than the the philosopher with many:-
for what is genius, what is courage, without an heart?

                           I am,
                             Your respectful father,

                                   John Howe

Letter 10

"We, our, us" implies that John has remarried.
He has sustained injury by falling from his horse.
All his children have left home except Emily (14) who is very ill.
Martha's husband Henry has business problems.

               Miss E.D.Howe.
                at Messrs Morris & Pickering,
                  Long Row.

                                             ( Litton Mar 2 1831 )
Dr Daughter,

           I received your letter in due time but, I did not know what I had
to wright to you. We are very well - but Emily is very ill, and has been
ever since the week after you saw her. I think this Spring will try her. I
am afraid she is in a decline. We have been great sufferers by her ill
health - a more than 10 pound loss to us, which has litened us very
much, as we have not had a good starting where we are.

           Martha and the two children came over at Christmas who
stopped with us five weeks. This were a heavy concern for us - she
came without money and, I think there were something amiss. I asked
her no questions. I could find Henry was in partnership with another
man, who had contrived to receive the money due to them, and they
had not had any money of ten week; how the matter has been ended I
know not.I wish every thing may be pleasant. Mary Ann is again at
Yorke, how she is going on I neither know nor care. Alfred was well
when I saw him in February, Hannah has been here, she has buried
her master, the house has been broken up, and she now lives at Mr
Barlows, Ardwick Green.

            I received a letter from your Uncle Francis out of America last
Sunday. I would have given you a few extracts, but the letter is at
Ashford. Francis has some prosperity before him. He gives a mighty
good account of that country, he has not worked more than two days a
week, yet his tables are as well furnished every day, as our tables in
England during our wakes week, he has stated the prises of varyous
eating articles, a list of which I would have given you If I had had the
letter by me. Samuel has a deal of buildings in Cincinatia, keeps four
journeymen beside his own family in the Soap and Candle Business
and his Soap & Candle establishment is considered first in that City. I
wish we were there. How goes Trade in your town. What say they
about every department of Trade in England: when will there be a
Change, a political change! it will take place when perhaps
my days are gone by.   Our love to you and believe me to be

                            Your affectionate Father

                                  John Howe

  Litton Mar 2 1831

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