August 7, 1768.
LORD! what is Man?--and what business have such lazy, lousy, paltry beings of a day to form friendships, or to make connexions? Man is an absurd animal--yea, I will ever maintain it--in his vices, dreadful--in his few virtues, silly--religious without devotion --philosophy without wisdom--the divine passion (as it is called) love too oft without affection--and anger without cause--friendship without reason--hate without reflection--knowledge (like Ashley's punch in small quantities) without judgement--and wit without
--Look into old age, you will see avarice joined to poverty--letchery, gout, impotency, like three monkeys, or London bucks, in a one-horse whisky, driving to the Devil. --Deep politicians with palsied heads and relaxed nerves--zealous in the great cause of national welfare and public virtue--but touch not--oh! touch not the pocket--friendship--religion--love of country--excellent topics for declamation!--but most ridiculous chimera to suffer either in money or ease--for, trust me, my M----, I am resolved upon a reform.
--Truth, fair Truth, I give thee to the wind!-- Affection, get thee hence! Friendship, be it the idol of such silly chaps, with aching heads, strong passions, warm hearts, and happy talents, as of old used to visit Charles Street, and now abideth in fair G--h House.
I give it under my hand and mark, that the best recipe for your aching head (if not the only thing which will relieve you) is cutting off your hair--I know it is not the ton; but when ease and health stand on the right--ornament and fashion on the left--it is by no means the Ass between two loads of hay--why not ask counsel about it? Even the young part of the faculty were formerly obliged to submit to amputation, in order to look wise.--What they sacrificed to appearances, do thou to necessity.--Absalom had saved his life, but for his hair. You will reply, "Cæfar would have been drowned, but his length of hair afforded hold to the friendly hand that drew him to shore." Art, at this happy time, imitates Nature so well in both sexes, that in truth our own growth is but of little consequence.
Therefore, my dear M--, part with your hair and head-achs together;--and let us see you spruce, well shorn, easy, gay, debonnair--as of old.
I have made enquiry after L----'s letter. My friend R---- went to demand the reason for omitting to publish it, and to reclaim the copy. The publisher smiled at him, and bid him examine the M. C. of J. 13, where he would find L. and the same paper of the 20th instant, where he would also find P---- B----'s very angry answer.--Indeed the poor fellow foams again, and appears as indecently dull as malice could wish him.
I went to the coffee-house to examine the file, and was greatly pleased upon the second reading of your work, in which is blended the Gentleman and the Scholar. Now, observe, if you dare to say I flatter, or mean to flatter, you either impeach my judgement or honesty--at your peril then be it.--For your letter of yesterday, I could find in my conscience not to thank you for it--it gave a melancholy tint to every thing about me. Pope had the head-ach vilely--Spenser, I have heard, suffered much from it--in short, it is the ail of true geniuses.--They applied a thick wreath of laurel round their brows--do you the same--and, putting the best foot foremost--duly considering the mansion--what it has suffered through chance, time, and hard use--be thankfully resigned, humble, and say, "It is well it is no worse!"
I do not wish you to be any other than nice in what new acquaintance you make--as to friendship--it is a mistake--real friendships are not hastily made -- friendship is a plant of slow growth, and, like our English oak, spreads, is more majestically beautiful, and increases in shade, strength, and riches, as it increases in years. I pity your poor head, for this confounded scrawl of mine is enough to give the head-ach to the strongest brain in the kingdom--so remember I quit the pen unwillingly, having not said half what I meant; but, impelled by conscience, and a due consideration of your ease, I conclude, just wishing you as well as I do my dear self,
Your cure, in four words, is OUT--OFF--YOUR--HAIR!