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I am sadly afraid of Lady K.'s being displeased, and fancying I promoted this publication. Could I have caught her for a quarter of an hour, I should have proved my innocence, and might have shown her Duppa's letter; but she left neither note, card, nor message, and when my servant ran to all the inns in chase of her, he learned that she had left the White Hart at twelve o'clock. Vexatious! but it can't be helped.
I hope the pretty little girl my people saw with her, will pay her more tender attention.
To Sir James Fellowes.
October 14, 1816. Your brother Dorset has lent me Bubb Dodington's Diary, and I have done nothing but read it ever since. 'T is a retrospection of my young days, very amusing certainly, but anecdote is all the rage, and Johnson's Diary is selling rapidly, though the contents are bien maigre, I must confess. Apropos, Mr. Duppa has sent me the book, and I perceive has politely suppressed some sarcastic expressions about my family, the Cottons, whom we visited at Combermere, and at Lleweney. I was the last of the Salusburys, so they escaped. But I remember his saying once, “ It would be no loss if all your relations were spitted like larks, and roasted for the lap-dog's supper.”
It would certainly have been no loss to me, as they have behaved themselves; but one hates to see them insulted.
This letter is written in the dark, you will hardly be able to read it, but if words are wanting, supply the chasm with the kindest. They will have best chance to express the unalterable sentiments of
H. L. P.
Your brother Dorset and I disagree only in our opinions concerning Buonaparte, of whom he thinks much higher than I do ; although, as Balzac says of the Romans :
66 Le ciel benissoit toutes leurs fautes,
We must, however, watch the end ; for, till a man dies, we can neither pronounce him very great or very happy; so said at least one of the sages of antiquity. Adieu !
To Sir James Fellowes.
Bath, Fryday, 1 Nov. 1816. When my heart first made election of Sir James Fellowes, not only as a present, but a future friend, I felt rather than knew, that he would never forget or forsake me. Everything I see and hear confirms my saucy prejudice.
Such a Sunday evening I passed in Marlborough Buildings,* where I used to meet friends, so beloved, companions so cheerful, sent me home to Bessy Jones † with a half-breaking heart; and in every vein Johnson's well-founded horror of the last.
The family left Bath next day for Paris, where they have taken a house for a year! Poor Boisgeler is dead, you know. One could not care in earnest for Boisgeler, but at my age, 't is like losing the milestones in the last stage of a long journey.
We shall, however, both of us, have a cruel loss in the Lutwyches. How happy, how elegant is the epitaph on poor Mary. Beautiful, though not too showy; just as it should be. I am afraid to trust myself with translating or even praising it.
H. L. P.
To Sir James Fellowes.
Bath, Nov. 29, 1816. ANOTHER letter you shall have, dear Sir, and that directly.
Cobbett has been galvanizing the multitude finely, I am told, in his last paper.
“ Be scum no longer,” says he, “ be no longer called scum, I say.” Did I ever tell you a story of which this reminds me, concerning the blind Lord North’s father, old Guildford ; who delighted in affecting coarse expressions, and used to say to his friends when he met them, “O, such a one, how does the pot boil?” Some democrat, who probably disliked the rough address, when Wilkes and liberty set London maddening, called to Lord Guildford across a circle of ladies round the tea-table, and cried exultingly, “Well, my good lord, how does the pot boil now?"
Troth, Sir,” replied the peer, without hesitation, “just as you gentlemen would wish it to do, scum uppermost.” * At the house of the Lutwyches.
+ Her maid.
I am so afraid this tale is not new to you, any more than baptizing the bells. We have two in England, you know, that were christened Thomas. The Oxford one I forgot all account of ; but when the devil was set up to look over Lincoln Cathedral, the wise folk found baptizing the bell was an efficacious method of sending him off. Some of their conclave, however, being incredulous, “ Let us,” said they, “ baptize the bell by name of the doubting apostle, and that will do," so he is Tom o' Lincoln.
I fancy the phenomenon you allude to at Valencia, where they are, I trust, not much improved in philosophy, was a real meteor. The atmosphere is loaded with vapor, certainly, in a way not wholly natural ; and has been all the summer, if summer it may be called. Adieu !
This letter has been written all by scraps and snatches; people coming in without ceasing, and stealing the wits from my head, the pen from my fingers, every moment. Let it at least do its duty in presenting my best regards and compliments to -'s acceptance.
Paper therefore fly with speed,
Hark! the bell is ringing !
Can such stuff come from any creature but
H. L. P.
To Sir James Fellowes.
Bath, 27 Dec. 1816. THANK you, my dear Sir, for the kind wishes that I restore you from my heart a hundred-fold.
It was odd enough, and pretty enough, that the happiest day of the year should have been the finest ; but indeed I never saw such a 25th of December, and what blowing weather followed ! But we must expect it now to be slippy, drippy, nippy; after which, showery, bowery, flowery; then hoppy, croppy, poppy; oh! and autumn, wheezy, sneezy, freezy; as good, sure, as Fabre d'Eglantine's Nivose, Pluviose, Ventose, &c. I wonder if any of that nonsense will be remembered !
There is a good French joke now at Paris, concerning the King's illness; for say the Jacobins,
'Tis well they are so merrily disposed.
Mrs. Lutwyche writes in capital spirits, but your own dear father's heart is as light as a Frenchman's, though solid like John Bull. We had a world of chat to-day when he brought me your letter about Lord and Lady Mount Edgecombe, being parted like Mr. Sullen and his wife in the comedy ; east, west, north, south; far as the Poles asunder. They have been married just nine months. She wedded twice before, and now they cry, “O terque quaterque beati !” I suppose.
Mrs. Dimond offers me a place in her box to-night, whence will be seen Massinger's horrible “ Sir Giles Overreach," played by Mr. Kean. If he can stretch that hideous character as he does others, quite beyond all the authors meant or wished, it will shock us too much for endurance, though in these days people do require mustard to everything. Actors, preachers, whoever keeps within the bounds of decency,- - may not we add patriots ? — are all censured for tameness, and considered as cold-hearted animals, scarce worthy to crawl on the earth.
Meanwhile, the thoughts of your Adbury establishment charm me, and I feel sure that my dear friend will never fall into this new and fatal whimsey, of fatting beasts, while men are wanting food. It is a senseless thing to see calves and sheep crammed till they cannot walk, but are driven into the town for show, in their carriage, like Daniel Lambert in his easy chair, when the mutton and veal so managed is not eatable, and the very fat useless to tallow-chandlers for want of solidity. I really wonder nobody takes the matter up as seriously censurable.*
We are subscribing here at a great rate, to imitate the Londoners. I told Hammersley, that the donation of £50,000 to 50,000 poor, put me in mind of Merlin, the German mechanick,
* It was remarked by Lord Macaulay that prize oxen were only fit to make candles, and prize poems to light them.
who, when the people were terrifying each other about the invasion, some five and thirty years ago, proposed to let them come, and then meet them with a guinea each, and beg of them to go home, - never reflecting, till heartily laughed at, that they would come again next week for another guinea apiece. Surely these are senseless methods of preserving tranquillity.* The people want nothing but employment and pay, and then they will love the hand that helps them, while feeding them by subscription leaves them not a whit obliged, but in some sort, and scarce unjustly, offended; while the donors are impoverishing themselves.
Well! all this you know better than I do, but Doctor Fellowes charged me to give you some tidings of my own health, because I confessed to him that I had been taking dear No. 1, and he probably thought that if the sails would not turn with a common wind, it was a proof somewhat was the matter with the mill; but with all my comforts it would be graceless to complain.
Adieu, dear Sir; may your next year be happy ! all spring, showery, bowery, flowery. I really do believe it will be the happiest year of your life, it will make of the most dutyful and affectionate son upon earth the wisest and tenderest father. however, forget, that in 1815, you promised long and faithful friendship to her who knows the value of all your good qualities, and who will be, wbile life last, perhaps still longer, your sincere, as obliged,
H. L. P. To Sir James Fellowes.
Bath, 4th January, 1817. 'Tis well for me, dear Sir, that my letters meet so kindly partial a reader; for I have a notion they often repeat themselves. Doctor Johnson, and men less wise than he, say we forget everything but what passes in our own mind. Those ideas are among the most fleeting of mine.
That I had not seen the great actor (Kean) in Sir Giles Over
* They are not much unlike what were proposed by sundry opponents of the Volunteer Movement at its commencement. Some years ago, during a popular rising in Yorkshire, a well-known banker wrote to the Home Office, that if the malcontents did not receive a cheque (meaning check) he would not answer for the consequences. The obvious answer was, that he was the best man to apply the proposed remedy.