« PreviousContinue »
Ratisbone. O&tober 2,
. 1 68.9.
192 A Letter from Sir George Etherege, to
bis Grace the Duke of Buckingham.
My Lord, I
Never enjoy my self so much, as when I
cán steal a few Moments, from the Hurry of publick Business, to write to my Friends in England; and as there is none there to whom I pay a profounder Respe& than to your Grace, wonder not if I afford my self the Sarisfa&ion of converfing with you by way of Letters, (the only Relief I have left me to support your Absence at this distance) as often as i can find an opportunity.
You may guess by my last, whether I don't pass my Time very comfortably here ; forc'd as I am by my Character, to spend the better part of my time in Squabling and Deliberating with Perfons of Beard and Grayity, how to preserve the Balance of Christendom, which : would go well enough of it self, if the Divines and Ministers of Princes would let it alone: And when I come home spent and weary from the Diet, I have no Lord Dats, or Sir Charles Sy's to sport away the Evening with, no Madam 1-, or my Lady Ams; in short, none of those kind charming Creatures London affords, in whose Embraces I might make my self amends for so many Hours Murdered in impertinent Debates ; so that not to magnifie my sufferings to your Grace, they really want a grea
ter stock of Christian Patience to support them, than I can pretend to be Master of.
I have been long enough in this Town (one. would think) to have made Acquaintance enough with Persons of both Sexes, so as never to be at a loss how to pass the few vacant Hours I can allow my felf: But the terrible Drinking that accompanies all our Vifits, hinders mefrom Converfing with the Men so often as I would otherwise do ; and the German Ladies are so intolerably reserv'd and virtuous, (with Tears in my eyes. I speak it to your Grace) that 'tis next to an impoffibility to carry on an Intrigue with them: A man has so many Scruples to conquer, and so many Difficulties to surmount, before he can promise himself the least Success, that for my part I have given over all Pursaits of this Nature: Besides, there is so uni. versal à Spirit of Censoriousness reigns in this Town, that a Man and a Woman cannot be seen at Ombre or Picquet together, but 'tis iminediately concluded some other Game has been played between them; and as this renders all manner of Access to the Ladies almost impracticable, for fear of expofing their Reputation to the Mercy of their ill-natur'd Neighbours, so it makes an innocent Piece of Gallantry often pass for a criminal Correspondence.
So that to deal freely with your Grace, among so many Noble and wealthy Families as we have in this Town, I can only pretend to be truly acquainted but with one: The Gentle
man's Name was Monsieur Hoffman, a frank, hearty, jolly Companion; his Father, one of the most eminent Wine Merchants of the City, left him a considerable Fortune, which he improved by Marrying a French Jeweller's Daughter of Lions: To give you his Character in short, he was a sensible ingenious Man, and had none of his Country Vices, which I impute to his having travelled abroad and feen Italy, France, and England. His Lady is a most accomplish'd ingenious Person, and notwithstanding she is come into a place where so much Formality and Stiffness are pra&tised, keeps up all the Vivacity, and Air, and good Humor of France.
I had been happy in my Acquaintance with this Family for some Months, when an ill-favour'd Accident rob'd me of the greatest happiness I had hitherto enjoy'd in Germany, the loss of which I can never sufficiently regret. Monsieur Hoffman, about three weeks ago, going to make merry with some Friends (at a Village fome three Leagues from this Place) upon the Danube, by the Unskilfulness or Negligence of the Water-men, the Boat, wherein he was, unfortunately chanced to over-set, and of some twenty Persons not one escaped to bring home the News, but a Boy that miraculously saved himself by holding fast to the Rudder, and so by the Rapidity of the Current was cast upon the other Shore,
I was sensibly afflicted at the Destiny of my worthy Friend, and so indeed were all that had the Honour of knowing him; but his Wife took on so extravagantly, that she (in a short Time) was the only talk both of City and Country; she refus'd to admit any Vifts from her nearest Relations, her Chamber, ber Antichamber, and Pro-anti-chamber were hung with Black; nay, the very Candles, her Fans, and and Tea-table wore the Livery of Grief; she refus'd all manner of Sustenance, and was so averse to the Thoughts of Living that she talk'd of nothing but Death; in short you may tell your ingenious Friend Monsieur de Saint Euremont, that Petronius's Ephesian Matron, to whose Story he has done so much Justice in his noble Translation, was only a Type of our more obstinate, as well as unhappy German Widow.
About a Fortnight after this cruel lofs (for I thought it would be Labour lost to attack her Grief in its first Vehemence) I thought my self obliged, in Point of Honour and Gratitude to the Memory of my deceased Friend, to make her a small Visit, and condole her Ladyship upon this unhappy Occasion: And tho' I had been told that she had refused to see several Personswho had gone to wait on herwith the same Errand, yet I presumed so much upon the Friendship her late Husband bad always express'd for me (not to mention the particular Civilities I had received from her self) as to think I should be admitted to have a sight of
her: Accordingly I came to her House, sent up my Name, and Word
was immediately brought me, that if I pleas’d, I might go up to her.
When I came into the Room, I fansy'd my self in the Territories of Death, every thing looked ro gloomy, so dismal, and so Melancholy. There was a grave Lutheran Minister with her, that omitted no Arguments to bring her to a more composed and more Christian Disposition of Mind. Madam (says he) you don't consider that by abandoning yourself thus to Despair, you actually rebel against Providence; I can't help it, (says she) Providence may e'en thank it felf, for laying so insupportable a Load upon me: O fie Madam, (cries the other) this is down right impiety; What would you say now, if Heaven should punish it by some more exemplary Visitation? That is impossible, replies the Lady sighing, and since it has rob'd me of the only delight I had in this World, the only Favour it can do me is to level a Thunderbolt at my Head, and put an end to all my sufferings. The Parson finding her in this extravagant Strain, and seeing ng likelibood of Perswading her to come to a better Temper, got up from his Seat and took his leave of her.,
It came to my turn now to try whether I was not capable of comforting her, and being convinced by folate an Instance.that Arguments brought from Religion were not like to work any extraordinary Effe&s upon her, I resolved