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Literary Life of the Rev. William Harness
William Harness to A. G. K. L'Estrange, 23 June 1866

Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
Chapter X.
Chapter XI.
Chapter XII.
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“Kensington Gore,
“June 23, 1866.
“My dear L’Estrange,

“Where did you find the authority for saying that Miss Mitford was bridesmaid at Lady Charles Aynesley’s wedding? She certainly never was in the North till the year 1806; and I take it for granted that in the North the marriage of a Northumberland heiress must have taken place.

“London at this present moment is very full, and appears to be very gay; but, except at dinners, I see mightily little of its gaiety. Strange to say, the only extreme bit of dissipation I have been tempted
into, did me considerable good. For several weeks I had been feeling as old as the hills and as weak as water; but
Miss Coutts asked me to dine in Stratton Street on Thursday ‘quite quietly, nobody to be there but the party staying in the house’—so I went. After dinner, as the ladies were leaving the room, she said, ‘Now you must not be angry; we are going to take you to the Opera. You may sit quite quiet, and go away when you like; and we don’t think it will do you any harm.’ So I went. The heat was intense: I was in a vapour bath with all my clothes on, from half-past eight till half-past eleven. It was a sultry thunderstorm outside the walls of the theatre, and a fiery furnace of gas and human beings within. I was all the time in such an overpowering heat that every inch of my coat was as wet as if I had been in a shower-bath.

“Well, I thought it would be the death of a poor wretch in my exhausted condition! Not a bit of it. I came home—went to bed—slept all night—and woke the next morning, for the first time this month, refreshed and unfatigued, and longing to sing while I was shaving myself. What an odd composition a human being is! The very thing which has set me to rights and made me feel myself, is the very thing that any doctor would have advised me against, and which
I myself on premeditation should have shrunk from!

I shall not leave town till after the eighth. I think then of going to the Deepdene to Mrs. Hope for a few days—thence to the sea, and remaining away a fortnight. I never went to Broadstairs! It was so cold, I could not make up my mind to leave home. If one was to sit shivering in-doors, I thought I had better execute the performance in my own study than in the coffee-room of a sea-side hotel. Let me hear from you.

“And believe me to be,
“Yours ever,
“W. Harness.”

“‘Rienzi’ did come out on the 9th of October, 1828. It was my mistake in looking for it in November instead of October, in my old diary; but ‘Otto’ was written in 1827. The first copy of the MS. was in my hands on the 26th of November, 1828, and the arrangement with Forrest in 1837 or 38 was merely for the reviewing of the play to suit him. What day do you dine here? Any day except Monday.”