I should long ere this have written to acknowledge the
hospitality I found at Norwich, but that I thought the mere formality of a
letter of thanks would be as little agreable to you as to myself. I therefore
copy for you an Eclogue just written; for two reasons, as a plea for writing –
& because it was suggested by your conversation. What you told me of the
German Eclogues revived some almost forgotten plans, & enabled me to correct
them. I purpose writing some which may be called English, as sketching features
peculiar to England: not like the one which you read to me of Goethe 
which would suit any country with Roman ruins. like the Germans I would aim at
somewhat of dramatic interest. & some of my plans will allow me to introduce
that quiet sedition which the Anti-Jacobine  has denounced me for, in that which is already
written there is nothing of this merit. it rather favours old prejudices. I like
it myself – perhaps because it is newly written – perhaps because I drew from
the recollection of such a scene. If I were near you I should profit by your
opinions & your knowledge; – & I should be sorry if a two days journey
should totally xxtx cut off my intercourse with
one whom I highly respect, & whom if the age of our acquaintance justified
me, I should gladly call friend.
The Old Mansion House.
There was a Traveller to the village came,
And as he past its ancient manor house
Upon whose scaffolded front the labourers stood
Urging their toil, he pausd & watchd their work;
And to an old grey-headed man, whose back
Already bent by age, was now bowd down
Breaking the high-way stones, a task that ill
Beseemd his years, “my friend” he cried “they
“Strange alterations here!
O. Man – Aye strange indeed!
And if my poor old Lady could rise up, –
God rest her soul! twould grieve her to behold
The wicked work is here!
Traveller. I saw it once
And thought it was a venerable place, –
Some six years gone. – were there not yew-trees stood
Here in the court?
O.M. – Aye Master. fine old trees!
My grandfather could just remember back
When they were planted there. it was my task
To keep them trimmd, & twas a pleasure to me, –
All straight & smooth & like a great green wall.
My poor old Lady many a time would come
And tell me where to shear, for she had playd
In childhood under them, & twas her pride
To keep them in her beauty. plague I say
On their new-fangled whimsies! we shall have
A modern shrubbery here stuck full of firs
And your pert poplar-trees. – I could as soon
Have ploughd my fathers grave as cut them down.
“And yonder windows –
O.Man. – They’re demolished too –
As if they could not see thro casement glass.
The very redbreasts that so regular
Come to my Lady for her morning crumbs
Wo’nt know the window now.
Tr. – Who owns the place?
He was not born here?
O.Man. – Oh no no! what tis
To have a stranger come to an old house!
If he had playd about here when a child
In that fore court, & eat the yewberries,
And sat in the porch threading the jessamine flowers
That fell so thick, he could’nt have had the heart
To mar all thus!
Traveller. – When last I went this way
Twas eve, & an old Lady sat in the porch
In the evening sun, she had her spectacles on,
Her knitting in her hand. I stopt to look.
Did not the jessamine tree grow in & line
All over it: it did one good
To pass within ten yards when twas in flower.
There was a sweet brier too that grew beside – .
My Lady loved at evening to sit there
And knit; & her old dog lay at her feet
And slept in the sun. twas an old favourite dog –
She did not love him less that he was old
And feeble, & he always had a place
By the fire side, & when he died at last
She made me dig a grave in the garden for him.
Ah! she was good to all! a woful day
Twas for the poor when to her grave she went!
Traveller. They lost a
O. Man. – You’re a stranger here
Or would not ask that question. were they sick?
She had rare cordial waters, & for herbs –
She could have taught the Doctors. then at winter
When weekly she distributed the bread
There where the poor old porch stood; – to have heard
The blessings on her! – & I warrant them
They were a comfort to her when her wealth
Had been no comfort else. At Xmas Sir!
It would have warmed your heart if you had seen
Her Xmas kitchen; – how the blazing fire
Made her fine pewter shine, – & holly boughs
So chearful red. – & then
<as> for misseltoe!
The finest bush that grew in the country round
Was markd for Madam. then her old ale went
So bountiful about! a Xmas cask,
And twas a noble one. – God help me, Sir,
But I shall never see such days again.
Traveller. –– Things may be better yet than you suppose
Tis well to hope the best.
O. Man. – It do’nt look well
These alterations Sir! I’m an old man
And love the good old fashions. we don’t find
Old bounty in new houses. they’ve destroyd
All that my Lady lovd; – her favourite walk
Grubbd up, & they do say that the great row
Of elms behind the house that meet a-top,
They must fall too. well – well! I did not think
To live to see all this, & tis perhaps
A comfort I sha’nt live to see it long.
Traveller. But sure
all changes are not needs for the worse
O. Man. – May-hap they maynt Sir. for all that,
I like what I’ve been usd too. I remember
All this from a child up, & now to lose it, –
Tis losing an old friend. theres nothing left
As twas; I go abroad & only meet
With men whose fathers I remember boys.
The brook that used to run before my door,
That’s gone to the great pond. the trees I learnt
To climb are down; & I see nothing now
That tells me of old times except the stones
In the churchyard. you are young Sir & I trust
Have many years in store. but pray to God
You may’nt be left the last of all your friends! 
My others will be better than this as they will be sprinkled with
seditionizing feelings. I know not enough of the German Eclogues to say that
this is in the same stile, for, except what I learnt from you, I only remember
one of Gessners  in a Devon & Cornwall collection of
poems, & I have forgotten every thing of that except that it is there.  remember me
thankfully to your mother & to all your friends whose civilities I
experienced at Norwich. if you have
leisure – & not disinclination, it will give me great pleasure to hear from
you. my direction is at Mr
God bless you.