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But I find myself happiest in the retreat which my dear lord's unmerited beneficence has made me mistress of, and fixed my home upon the spot of earth I would have chosen for myself. Every thing both within and without the house reminds me of my obligations to biin; and I cannot turn my eyes upou any object, which is not an object of his goodness to me. The satisfaction I take įp adding either beauty or convenience to my babị. tation, is greatly enhanced by the reflection, that while I am adorning it, I at the same time can show my value for the gift, and my gratitude to the lamented giver.
Į bave a regular, and, I hope, a religious family. My womạn, though she has not lived with me quite three years, had before lived twenty-three betwixt lord Grantham's and lady Cowper's; my house-keeper has been a servant as long ; the person who takes in my accounts, pays the bills, and oyer-looks the men within doors, has been in the family nineteen years; and the other, who has lived ten, has the care of the stables, and every thing without. I rise at seven, but do not go down till nine, when the bell rings, and my whole family meet me at chapel; after prayers, we go to breakfast; any friend who happens to be there, myself, and my chaplain, have ours in the little library; the rest in their respective eating-rooms. About eleven, if the weather permits, we go to walk in the park, or take the air in the coach ; but if it be too bad for either, we return to our various occupations. At three we dine: sịt perhaps near an hour afterwards; then separate, till we meet at eight for prayers; after which we adjourn again
to the library, where somebody reads aloud, unless some stranger comes who chooses cards, until half' an hour past nine, when we sup, and always part before eleven. This to the fine world would sound a melancholy monastic life; and I cannot be sup. posed to have chosen it from my ignorance of the splendour and gaiety of a court, but from a thorough experience that they can give no solid happiness; and I find myself more calmly pleased in my present way of living, and more truly contented, than I ever was in the bloom and pomp of my youth. I am no longer dubious what point to pursue. There is but one proper for the decline of life, and indeed the only one worth the anxiety of a rational creature at any age : but how do the fire of youth and flattery of the world blind our eyes, and mislead our fancies after a thousand imaginary pleasures, which are sure to disappoint us in the end!
I condole with you for the loss of Mr. Price, as a faithful servant is always a valuable possession.
Mr. Shenstone does me a great deal of honour in inscribing his Ode upon Rural Elegance to me. I am persuaded he is master of the subject, for I have heard from people who saw his gardens not long ago, that they are the most perfect model of it.
I dare say lady Northamberband did not know now near she was to you, or she would not have passed by without inquiring after you. The newspapers will inform you that her lord supplies the place of lord Waldegrave, in the king's bed-chamber. Their children, I mean the two youngest, were both bere while they made their Warwick
and Staffordshire tour, and also till they came from Bath. The little boy is called Algernon, after his grand-papa ; and is, though less handsome, the counterpart of his poor uncle, lord Beauchamp; his innocence, his temper, and his voice, are just the same, and every notion of his body: judge if I am fond of him.
Books you wish me to name. You have undoubtedly read Voltaire's Siecle de Louis, and madame Maintenon's Letters; I have been entertained with both; he informs the head; she, I think, instructs, and may reform, the heart. I often regret that I had not seen her writings thirty years ago. I have seen nothing in the Genie of Cecile, except la laide aimable, which I think are pretty. Bué as for Jenny Jessamy, Betty Barnes, and their compeers, I never bay any of them, though I have looked over the two last I have named, in their passage between lady Northumberland and Mrs. Kingdon. I hope you will prevail with Mr. Shenstone to let me see his Ode. There are some particulars in Archbishop Tillotson's Life that may amuse you, and a dialogue upon Beauty, by sir Harry Beaumont: these are the only new things I have seen. I have hardly room to subscribe myself, dear madam, ever faithfully yours.
I wish you as many happy years as you wish yourself.
DUCHESS OF SOMERSET TO W. SHENSTONE, ESQ.
Piercy-Lodge, near Colnebrook, SIR,
Nov. 20, 1753. IF lady Luxborough lias uot been so just as to let you know that she never conveyed your two excellent poems to my hand till last Saturday night, you must look upon me as the most ungrateful and tasteless of all mortals. I have read them both over more than once with pleasure; but will it not appear strange, if I confess to you, that the honour you have done me by the inscription of the first, and a stanza or two in the poem itself, has given me some pain? And I shall look upon it as a very great addition to the favour, if, whenever my name, or that of Piercy-Lodge occurs, you will have the goodnes to fill the blank (which leaving out those words must occasion) with stars, dashes, or any other park you please, without suspecting me of an affected or false modesty, since to either of these accusations I can honestly plead Not guilty. The idea you have formed of my character, you have taken from a partial friend, whose good-nature may have (and in this case has certainly) warped her judgment. The world in general, since they can find no fault in your poem, will blame the choice of the person to whom it was inscribed, and draw mortifying comparisons betwixt the ideal lady and the real one. But I have a more impartial judge to produce,
than either my friend or the world, and that is my own heart, which, though it may flatter me I am not quite so faulty as the latter would represent we, at the same time loudly admonishes me, that I am still further from the valuable person lady Luxborough lias drawn you in to suppose me.
I hope you will accept these reasons as the genuine and most serious sentiments of my mind which indeed they are, though accompanied with the most grateful sense of the honour you designed
I cannot hely mentioning another copy of verses of yours, which, if it is not already printed, I hope you will permit Mr. Dodsley to add to his new collection, and that is Damon's Bower, occasioned by the death of Mr. Thomson. If you should have mislaid the original, I have a copy at your service, which I will transmit either to you, in case you should have a mind to look it over again, or transmit it directly to Mr. Dodsley.
I am with unfeigned esteem and gratitude, sir, your most obliged, &c.
PUCHESS OF SOMERSET TO LADY LUXBOROUGH.
Piercy-Lodge, Nov. 23, 1753. I pm), dear madam, begin to despair of having the honour, and (what I felt more sensibly) the pleasure, of hearing from you again. I am so subject to fall into errors, that I was afraid some unguarded