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expression in my last letter might have given you offence, and yet my heart bore witness, how far I had been from intending it.
I have been extremely ill the whole summer, and for some weeks believed in great danger; but by the blessing of God upon Dr. Shaw's prescriptions, I am at present, thongh lean and ill-favoured, much better; yet still obliged to be carried up and down stairs, for want of strength and breath to carry myself: but I liave great reason to bless God for the ease I now enjoy. When one comes to the last broken arches of Mirza's bridge, rest from pain must bound our ambition, for pleasure is not to be expected in this world; where I have no more a notion of laying schemes to be executed six months, than I have six years hence; which, I believe, helps to keep my spirits in an even state of cheerfulness to enjoy the satisfactions which present themselves, without anxious solicitude about their duration. We have lived to an age that necessarily shows the earth crumbling ander our feet; and as our journey seem's approaching towards the verge of life, is it not more natural to cast our eyes to the prospect beyond it, than, by a retrospective view, to recal the troublesome trifles that ever make our road difficult or dangerous ? Methinks it would be imitating Lot's wife (whose history is not recorded as an example for ns to follow), to look back to the miserable scene we are so near escaping from.
I have spent the last three weeks most agreeably. The first of them the bishop of Oxford and Mr. Talbot passed with us, and had the goodness to leave Miss Talbot (whose character I think you must bave heard) when they went away. She is all the world has said of her, as to an uncommon share of understanding; but she has other charms, which I imagine you will join with me, in giving the preference even to that; a mild and equal temper, an unaffected pious beart, and the most universal good-will to her fellow-creatures, that ever I knew. She censures nobody, she despises nobody; and whilst her own life is a pattern of goodness, she does not exclaim with bitterness against vice.
We are at present very highly entertained with the History of Sir Charles Grandison, which is so vastly above Pamela or Clarissa, that I shall not be easy till you have read it, and sent me your sentiments upon it. Miss Talbot received lady Gray's (somewhat omitted, perhaps some remarks on Grandison] in a letter of six sides, wrote with the greatest good sense and vivacity imaginable. I fancy she is an excellent and agreeable young woman.
It is now more than time to return you thanks for the trouble you have taken in conveying Mr. Shenstone's admirable poem * to me.
I have wrote to him this post, and could not do it sooner, because bis letter was only dated Leasowes, and could not find out his post town without sending to Mrs. Stanley, whom I do not visit, and who lives twelve miles from me. I have expressed my gratitude in the best manner I am able; but am under the necessity of decliving the honour he intended me, and have begged him to fill up the
• Rural Elegance, inscribed to the writer of this letter.
blanks with stars, or what he pleases, whenever my name or that of Piercy-Lodge, was designed, and I bope he will oblige me.
You say, you have been in a lethargy. Dear madam, this must have proceeded from some oppression upon your spirits, for which I have known tar-water to be a sovereign remedy, and wish you would try it. Poor Mrs. Ward! But since we can say nothing to her honour, let us not expatiate upon ber disgrace.
Any thing directed to be left with William Phi. lips, my porter, in Downing-street, will be sent to me directly.
I am, dear madam, your ladyship's most obliged and obedient servant.
DUCHESS OF SOMERSET TO LADY LUX BOROUGH,
DEAR MADAM, Piercy-Lodge, Peb, 25, 1754. PRAY never think excuse can be necessary to me about exactness in answering my letters; I am always glad to hear from you when it is agreeable to you to write, but am not one of those overkind friends who are for ever out of humour with those whom they rather enthral than oblige, by giving them that name. As a proof I never wish to act so by my friends, or am afraid of being treated so by them, I will own to you, I am not quite sure I should have answered your last letter so svon, were it not that I am under serious concern to:
find how awkwardly I must have expressed myself to Mr. Shenstone, if I gave him room to be. lieve I harboured a secret wish to have so fine a poem as bis Ode suppressed. On the contrary, I should think myself guilty of a very great crime and injustice to the public, if I were to be the meaus of depriving them of so charming and rational an entertainment. I gave him the true reasons in my letter, for desiring that my own name, nor that of my hanıble yet peaceful dwelling; might be inserted. You know I always envied the lot of " la violette, qui se cache sous l'herbe.”
It is true, my dear lady Luxborough, times are changed with us, since po walk was long enougly, or exercise painful enough, to hurt us, as we childishly imagined: yet after a ball or masquerade, have we not come home very well contented to pull off our ornaments and fine clothes, in order to go to rest? Such methinks is the reception we naturally give to the warnings of our bodily decays; they seem to undress us by degrees, to prepare us for a rest that will refresh us far more powerfully than any night's sleep could do. We shall then tind no weariness from the fatigues which either our bodies or our minds have undergone; but all tears shall be wiped from our eyes, and sorrow, and crying, and pains, shall be no more; we shall then without weariness move in our new vebicles, transport ourselves from any part of the skies to another, with much more ease and velocity than we could have done in the prime of our strength, upon the fleetest horses, the distance of a mile. This cheerful prospect enables üs to see our strength fail, and await the tokens of our approaching dissolution with a kind of awful pleasure. I will ingenuously own to you, dear madam, that I experience more true happiness in the retired manner of life that I have embraced, than I ever knew from all the splendout or flatteries of the world. There was always a void; they could not satisfy a rational mind; and at the most heedless time of my youth, I well remember, that I always looked forward with a kind of joy, to a decent retreat, when the evening of life should make it practicable.
Boadicea I have read; there is an interesting scene or two in it; but there is something wanting in the management of the drama to keep up the spirits of the audience. Philoclea I have not seen, nor bave heard such a character of it as to raise my curiosity. If you have not read Deformity, an Essay, by Mr. Hay, nor his Religio Philosophi (I do not know how that last word should end), I believe they will entertain you very well in their different ways. The Adventurer will soon be published in volumes, and will be very well worth buying. I doubt I must agree with Mr. Shenstone, that the style of Sir Charles Grandison is too prolix; and yet I do not know any of it I should be willing to part with, except Harriet Byron's conversation with the Oxonian, in the first volume, and the preparations and entertainments at sir Charles's wedding in the fifth.
When I came home from taking the air on Fri. day, I was very agreeably surprised to find lady Northumberland ready to receive me, as I had no notion of her coming. She had been alarmed with