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Samuel Rogers and his Contemporaries
Samuel Rogers to Henry Mackenzie, 24 March 1805

Vol. I Contents
Chapter I. 1803-1805.
Chapter II. 1805-1809.
Chapter III. 1810-1812.
Chapter IV. 1813-1814.
Chapter V. 1814-1815.
Chapter VI. 1815-1816.
Chapter VII. 1816-1818.
Chapter VIII. 1818-19.
Chapter IX. 1820-1821.
Chapter X. 1822-24.
Chapter XI. 1825-1827.
Vol. II Contents
Chapter I. 1828-1830.
Chapter II. 1831-34.
Chapter III. 1834-1837.
Chapter IV. 1838-41.
Chapter V. 1842-44.
Chapter VI. 1845-46.
Chapter VII. 1847-50.
Chapter VIII. 1850
Chapter IX. 1851.
Chapter X. 1852-55.
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Samuel Rogers to Henry Mackenzie.

‘My dear Sir,—I have at last seen the boy who has enchanted old and young, and till then I had resolved to deny myself the pleasure of writing to you. I will not say I was surprised, for I went with great expectation, but he certainly came up to the idea you had led me so long ago to form of him. Thro’ many passages he hurried without feeling, and his countenance wanted the changes which time only can give it; but he is a prodigy, and, with careful culture, will delight, if he lives, the rising generation. His acting may now be compared to painting in water-colours,—by-and-by it will acquire more force and body. Mrs. Siddons has retired to Hampstead for her health, and, what is odd enough, tho’ she has seen a play, she has not seen him, nor does she disguise her scepticism on the subject. I heard her read the trial scene in “The Merchant of Venice” the other night with great effect.

‘Our public speakers are divided. Mr. Grey can see no merit in him, and Mr. Windham sees but little—while Mr. Pitt has become a playgoer, and Mr. Fox, with whom
I saw him in “
Hamlet,” thought his acting during the play better than Garrick’s. I ought to make many apologies to Mr. Thomson for my unpardonable delay. He wants another stanza. Eccola!

She starts, she trembles, and she weeps!
Her fair hands folded on her breast—
And now, how like a saint she sleeps,
A seraph in the realms of rest!
Sleep on secure! Above controul,
Thy thoughts belong to Heaven and thee,
And may the secret of thy soul
Be held in reverence by me!

‘I will not say I am satisfied, and Mr. T. I am sure will not. However, he will take it, I hope, as a proof of good intention. I have done what I could. I have lately visited other times with Mr. Scott, and have returned with great regret to the present. Mr. Fox expressed a wish to make the same enterprise, and I found him busily engaged yesterday in reading my copy.

‘We have received, as you may have heard, some very interesting letters from Mackintosh. He thirsts for European society like an Arab in the desert, and looks forwards with impatience to the distant day of his return. He gives audiences every day to grotesque figures from strange countries, but such novelties have already ceased to amuse him. Don’t you rejoice in our friend Smith’s success? His lecture on wit yesterday deserved the praise it met with. Let me hope you have weathered the winter well, with all its changes. What a restless life does the quicksilver lead in such a climate as ours! Since you wrote I have
suffered a great loss in
Mr. Townley. You may remember to have seen him lying on a couch among his marbles last spring. A kinder heart and a more elegant mind were never found together. I don’t know how it is, but there is something so soothing and delightful in such a character, when the hey-day and bustle of life is over, that I have almost always, even when a young man, been led to cultivate the friendship of people much older than myself. Pray follow a better example than I have set you, and write soon to say that you intend us a visit this spring. Be assured, my dear sir, that it cannot give greater pleasure to anybody.

‘Yours with very great sincerity,
Saml. Rogers.
‘St. James’s Place, London:
‘March 24th, 1805.’