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Literary Life of the Rev. William Harness
William Harness to A. G. K. L'Estrange, 1 September 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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“Privy Council Office,
“Sept. 1, 1866.
“My dear L’Estrange,

“I feel quite ashamed of having so long delayed acknowledging the receipt of your parcel with, the letters. I have intended to do it every morning since they arrived; but I have had so much to do here, that by post-time I have felt that unpleasant feeling in my old brain which warned me that I had done enough, and that it would be useless, if not wrong, for me to keep my head over paper, with a pen in my hand, any longer.

“This is the sole impediment to my being as good and regular a correspondent as I should wist to be. I’m getting very old, and my pericranium very weak . . . I doubt if I shall be able to do the parish work. My stay in town will be protracted to the middle of October. I’m then invited to Clumber; but I have not answered the Duchess to say whether I will go or not; for—whether it’s age or this continued damp, I know not—I really feel too weak and inapt for society to have any inclination for leaving home. Your friend Mrs. D—— has a little girl: she is doing very well, but was rather suffering from the weather when I called to inquire after her yesterday. But I had the good luck to find her
father at home and get some conversation with him, which was very much in the manner of a Greek Tragedy—not those parts in which the dialogue is kept briskly up in alternate lines, but those in which the great gun fires off a volley of several pages, and the attendant chorus exclaims Όιμοι, while he recovers his breath for another explosion.

“In London, with nothing to do, I have been reading Baker’s ‘Journey in Search of the Albert (Nyanza) Lake,’ and ‘the Source of the Nile.’ It has interested me a good deal; not but that I think him a most bumptious and self-laudatory individual, who quite as often disgusts me with his conceit as he excites my wonder by his spirit of enterprise and powers of endurance. As for his wife, who accompanied him in his troubles among savages—dragged through mud and broiling through deserts—she must have been something far stronger in mind and body than the ordinary members of her sex. It is defrauding the curiosity of the public not to lead her about the country as a show.

“On Majendie’s return I shall go to the sea, certainly, to get up strength, and be home by the beginning of December to shut myself up comfortably for the Winter. I hear that, when old Mitford was engaged to his wife, she had a
set of shirts made for him, lest it should be said that ‘she had married a man without a shirt to his back!’ Of course the story is not true; but it expressed what folk thought of his deplorable poverty and the impossibility of his making that settlement on her, for which my father was trustee, out of funds of his own, as
Miss Mitford suggests.

W. Harness.”