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DAVID HUME TO THE COUNTESS DE
Edinburgh, 25 January, 1772. I am truly ashamed, my dear madam, of your having prevented me in breaking our long silence; but you have prevented me only by a few days : for I was resolved to have writ to you on this commencement of the year, and to have renewed my professions of unfeigned and unalterable attachment to you. While I was at London, I had continual opportunities of hearing the news of Paris, and particularly concerning you; and even since I had settled here, I never saw any body who came from your part of the world that I did not question concerning you.
The last person to whom I had the satisfaction of speaking of you, was Mr. Dutens. But there were many circumstances of your situation which moved my anxiety, and of which none but yourself could give me information, You have been so good as to enter into a detail of them, much to my satisfaction; and I heartily rejoice with you, both on the restoration of your tranquillity of mind, which time and reflection have happily effected, and on the domestic satisfaction which the friendship and society of your daughter-in-law afford you. These last consolations go near to the heart, and will make you ample compensation for your disappointments in those views of ambition which you so naturally entertained, but which the late revolutions in France might perhaps have rendered more full of inquietude than satisfaction.
For my part, I have totally and finally retired from the world, with a resolution never more to appear on the scene in any shape. This purpose arose, not from discontent, but from satiety. I have no object but to
Sit down and think, and die in peaceWhat other project can a man of my age entertain! Happily I found my taste for reading return, even with greater avidity, after a pretty long interruption : but I guard myself carefully from the temptation of ever writing any more ; and though I have had encouragement to continue my history, I am resolved never again to expose myself to the censure of such factions and passionate readers as this country abounds with. There are some people here conversible enough, -their society, together with my books, fills up my time sufficiently, so as not to leave any vacancy; and I have lately added the amusement of building, which has given me some occupa. tion.
I hearken attentively to the hopes you give me of seeing you once more before I die. I think it becomes me to meet you at London ; and though I have frequently declared that I should never more see that place, such an incident, as your arrival there, would be sufficient to break all my resolutions. I only desire to hear of your journey as soon as it is fixed, and as long before it is executed as possible, that I may previously adjust matters so as to share the compliment with others of my friends, particularly the Hertford family, who may reasonably expect this attention from me.
Can I beg of you to mention my name to the Prince of Conti, and assure him that the world does not contain any person more devoted to him, or more sensible of the obligations which he imposed on me? I suppose Madame De Barbantane is very agreeably situated with her pupil, the Duchess of Barbantane. Will she be pleased to accept of the respects of an old friend and ser. vant? I beg to be remembered to Madame De Vierville. If Miss Becket be still with you, I wish to make her my compliments. I am with the greatest truth and sincerity ever yours,
MR. GIBBON TO MR. HOLROYD, AT LAUSANNE.
Boromean Islands, May 16th, 1764. DEAR HOLROYD, HURRY of running about, time taken up with seeing places, &c. &c. &c, are excellent excuses ; but I fancy you will guess that my laziness and aversion to writing to my best friend are the real motives, and I am afraid you will have guessed right.
We are at this minute in a most magnificent palace, in the middle of a vast lake; ranging about suites of rooms without a soul to interrupt us, and secluded from the rest of the universe.
We shall sit down in a moment to supper, attended by all the count's household. This is the fine side of the medal,—turn to the reverse. We are got here wet to the skin; we have crawled about fine gardens, which rain and fogs prevented our seeing! and if to-morrow does not hold up a little better, we shall be in some doubt whether we can say we have seen these famous islands. Guise says yes, and I say no. The count is not here: we have our supper from a paltry hedge alehouse (excuse the bull); and the servants have offered us beds in the palace, pursuant to their master's directions.
I hardly think you will like Turin; the court is old and dull; and in that country every one follows the example of the court. The principal amusement seems to be, driving about in your coach in the evening, and bowing to the people
If you go while the royal family is there, you have the additional pleasure of stopping to salute them every time they pass. I had that advantage fifteen times one afternoon.
We were presented to a lady who keeps a public assembly, and a very mournful one it is; the few women that go to it are each taken up by their cicisbeo; and a poor Englishman, who can neither talk Piedmontese nor play at Faro, stands by himself without one of their baughty nobility doing him the honour of speaking to him. You must not attribute this account to our not having staid long enough to form connexions. It is a general complaint of our countrymen, except of Lord ****, who has been engaged for about two years in the service of a lady, whose long nose is
her most distinguishing fine feature. The most sociable women I bave met with are the king's daughters. I chatted for about a quarter of an hour with them, talked about Lausanne, and grew so very free and easy, that I drew my snuff-box, rapped it, took snuff twice (a crime never known before in the presence-chamber), and continued my discourse in my usual attitude of my body bent forwards, and my forefinger stretched out. As it might however have been difficult to keep up this acquaintance, I chiefly employed my time in seeing places, which fully repaid me in pleasure the trouble of my journey. What entertained me the most, was the museum and the citadel. The first is under the care of a M. Bartoli, who received us, without any introduction, in the politest manner in the world, and was of the greatest service to us, as I dare say he will be to you. The citadel is a stupendous work ; and when you have seen the subterraneous part of it, you will scarcely think it possible such a place can ever be taken. As it is however a regular one, it does not pique my curiosity so much as those irregular fortifications hewn out of the Alps, as Exilles, Fenestrelles, and the Brunette would have done, could we have spared the time necessary. Our next stage was Milan, where we were mere spectators, as it was not worth while to endeavour at forming connexions for so very few days. I think you will be surprised at the great church, but infinitely more so at the regiment of Baden, which is in the citadel. Such steadiness, such alertness in the men, and such exactness in the officers as exceeded all my expecta