« PreviousContinue »
dred French exiles,—some of them worth being acquainted with ; particularly a Count de Schomberg, who is become almost my friend; he is a inan of the world, of letters, and of sufficient age, since in 1753, he succeeded to Marshal Saxe's regiment of dragoons. As to the rest, I entertain them, and they flatter me: but I wish we were reduced to our Lausanne society. Poor France! the state is dissolved, the nation is mad! Adieu.
MR. GIBBON TO LORD SHEFFIELD.
Lausanne, May 31, 1791. At length I see a ray of sunshine breaking from a dark cloud. Your epistle of the 13th arrived this morning, the 25th instant, the day after my return from Geneva; it has been communicated to Severy. We now believe that you intend a visit to Lausanne this summer, and we hope that you will execute that intention. If you are a man of honour, you shall find me one; and, on the day of your arrival at Lausanne, I will notify my engagement of visiting the British isle before the end of the year 1792, excepting only the fair and foul exception of the gout. You rejoice me, by proposing the addition of dear Louisa; it was not without a bitter pang that I threw her overboard, to lighten the vessel and secure the voyage: I was fearful of the governess, a second carriage, and a long train of difficulty and expense, which might have ended in blowing up the whole scheme. But if you can bodkin the sweet creature into the coach, she will find an easy welcome at Lausanne. The first arrangements which I must make before your arrival may be altered by your own taste, on a survey of the premises, and you will all be commodiously and pleasantly lodged. You have heard a great deal of the beauty of my house, garden, and situation ; but such are their intrinsic value that, unless I am much deceived, they will bear the test even of exaggerated praise. From my knowledge of your lordship, I have always entertained some doubt how you would get through the society of a Lausanne winter; but I am satisfied that, exclusive of friendship, your summer visit to the banks of the Leman lake will long be remembered as one of the most agreeable periods of your life; and that you will scarcely regret the amusement of a Sussex Committee of Navigation in the dogdays. You ask for details; what details ? a map of France and a post book are easy and infallible guides. If the ladies are not afraid of the ocean, you are not ignorant of the passage from Brighton to Dieppe : Paris will then be in your direct road; and even allowing you to look at the Pandæmonium, the ruins of Versailles, &c. a fortnight diligently employed will clear you from Sheffield Place to Gibbon Castle. What can I say more?
As little have I to say on the subject of my worldly matters, which seem now, Jupiter be praised, to be drawing towards a final conclusion ; since when people part with their money, they are indeed serious. I do not perfectly understand
the ratio of the precise sum which you have poured into Gosling's reservoir, but suppose it will be explained in a general account.
You have been very dutiful in sending me, what I have always desired, a cut Woodfall on a remarkable debate; a debate, indeed, most remarkable! Poor Burke is the most eloquent and rational madman that I ever knew. I love Fox's feelings, but I detest the political principles of the man, and of the party. Formerly, you detested them more strongly during the American war than myself. I am half afraid that you are corrupted by your unfortunate connections. Should you admire the National Assembly, we shall have many an altercation, for I am as high an aristocrat as Burke himself; and he has truly observed, that it is impossible to debate with temper on the subject of that cursed revolution. In my last excursion to Geneva I frequently saw the Neckers, who by this time are returned to their summer residence at Copet. He is much restored in health and spirits, especially since the publication of his last book, which has probably reached England. Both parties, who agree in abusing him, agree likewise that he is a man of virtue and genius; but I much fear that the purest intentions have been productive of the most baneful consequences. Our military men, I mean the French, are leaving us every day for the camp of the princes at Worms, and support what is called *
representation. Their hopes are sanguine; I will not answer for their being
* A word is here torn out by the seal.
well grounded : it is certain, however, that the emperor had an interview, the 19th instant, with the count of Artois at Mantua; and the aristocrats talk in mysterious language of Spain, Sardinia, the empire, four or five armies, &c. They will doubtless strike a blow this summer: may it not recoil on their own heads! Adieu. Embrace our female travellers. A short delay !
MR. GIBBON TO THE HON. MISS HOLROYD.
Lausanne, 9th Nov. 1791. GULLIVER is made to say, in presenting his interpreter, My tongue is in the mouth of my friend." Allow me to say, with proper expressions and excuses, “ My pen is in the hand of my friend;" and the aforesaid friend begs leave thus to continue *.
I remember to have read somewhere in Rous. seau, of a lover quitting very often his mistress, to have the pleasure of corresponding with her. Though not absolutely your lover, I am very much your admirer, and should be extremely tempted to follow the same example. The spirit and reason, which prevail in your conversation, appear to great advantage in your letters. The three which I have received, from Berne, Coblentz, and Brussels, have given me much real pleasure; first, as a proof that you are often thinking of me; secondly, as an evidence that
* The remainder of the letter was dictated by Mr. Gibbon, and written by M. Wilbelon de Severy.
you are capable of keeping a resolution; and, thirdly, from their own intrinsic merit and entertainment. The style, without any allowance for haste or hurry, is perfectly correct; the manner is neither too light, nor too grave; the dimensions neither too long, nor too short: they are such, in a word, as I should like to receive from the daughter of my best friend. I attend your lively journal, through bad roads, and worse inns.Your description of men and manners conveys very satisfactory information; and I am particularly delighted with your remark concerning the irregular behaviour of the Rhine. But the Rhine, alas ! after some temporary wanderings, will be content to flow in his old channel, while manman is the greatest fool of the whole creation.
I direct this letter to Sheffield Place, where I suppose you arrived in health and safety. I congratulate my lady on her quiet establishment by her fire-side : and hope you will be able, after all your excursions, to support the climate and manners of old England. Before this epistle reaches you, I hope to have received the two promised letters from Dover and Sheffield Place. If they should not meet with a proper return, you will pity and forgive me. I have not yet heard from Lord Sheffield, who seems to have devolved on his daughter the task which she has so glori. ously executed. I shall probably not write to him, till I have received his first letter of business from England; but with regard to my lady, I have most excellent intentions.
I never could understand how two persons of such superior merit, as Miss Holroyd and Miss