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once a week, &c. &c. &c. I have announced to Mrs. Gibbon my new arrangements; the certainty that October will be fine, and my increasing doubts whether I shall be able to reach Bath before Christmas. Do you intend (but how can you intend any thing ?) to pass the winter under canvas ? Perhaps under the veil of Hampton Court I may lurk ten days or a fortnight at Sheffield, if the enraged lady does not shut the doors against me. The warden (Lord North) passed through on his way to Dover. He is not so fat, and more cheerful than ever. I had not any private conversation with him; but he clearly holds the balance, unless he lets it drop out of his hand. The Pandemonium (as I understand) does not meet till the twenty-sixth of November. Town is more a desert than I ever knew it. I arrived yesterday; dined at Sir Joshua's with a tolerable party ; the chaise is now at the door; 1 dine at Richmond, lie at Hampton, &c. Adieu.
MR. GIBBON TO LORD SHEFFIELD.
January 17th, 1783. As I arrived about seven o'clock on Wednesday last, we were some time in town in mutual igno, rance. Unlucky enough; yet our loss will be speedily repaired. Your reason for not writing is worthy of an Irish baron: you thought Sarah might be at Bath, because you directed letters to her at Clifton, near Bristol ; where indeed I saw her in a delightful situation, swept by the winter
winds, and scorched by the summer sun. A nobler reason for your silence would be the care of the public papers, to record your steps, words, and actions. I was pleased with your Coventry oration : a panegyric on **** is a subject entirely new, and which no orator before yourself would have dared to undertake. You have acted with prudence and dignity in casting away the military yoke. This next summer you will sit down (if you can sit) in the long lost character of a country gentleman.
For my own part, my late journey has only confirmed me in the opinion that number seven in Bentinck Street is the best house in the world. I find that peace and war alternately, and daily, take their turns of conversation, and this (Friday) is the pacific day. Next week we shall probably hear some questions on that bead very strongly asked, and very foolishly answered, &c. Give me a line by return of post, and probably I may visit Downing Street on Monday evening : late, however, as I am engaged to dinner and cards. Adieu.
MR. GIBBON TO LORD SHEFFIELD.
Lausanne, January 24th, 1784. Within two or three days after your last gracious epistle, your complaints were silenced, and your inquiries were satisfied, by an ample dispatch of four pages, which overflowed the inside of the cover, and in which I exposed my opinions of things in general, public as well as private, as
they existed in my mind, in my state of ignorance and error, about the eighteenth or twentieth of last month. Within a week after that date I epistolised, in the same rich and copious strain, the two venerable females of Newmarket and Bath, whose murmurings must now be changed into songs of gratitude and applause. My correspondence with the holy matron of Northamptonshire has been less lively and loquacious. You have not forgotten the author's vindication of himself from the foul calumnies of pretended Christians. Within a fortnight after his arrival at Lausanne, he communicated the joyful event to Mrs. Esther Gibbon. She answered, per return of post, both letters at the same time, and in very dutiful language, almost excusing her advice, which was intended for my spiritual as well as temporal good, and assuring me that nobody should be able to injure me with her. Unless the saint is a hypocrite, such an expression must convey a favourable and important meaning. At all events it is worth giving ourselves some trouble about her, without indulging any sanguine expectations of inheritance. So much for my females; with regard to my male correspondents, you are the only one to whom I have given any signs of my existence, though I have formed many a generous resolution. Yet I am not insensible of the kind and friendly manner in which Lord Loughborough has distinguished me. He could have no inducement of interest, and now that I view the distant picture with impartial eyes, I am convinced that (for a statesman) he was sincere in his wishes to serve me. When you see him, the Paynes, Eden, Crauford, &c, tell them that I am well, happy, and ashamed. On your side, the zeal and diligence of your pen has surprised and delighted me, and your letters, at this interesting moment, are exactly such as I wished them to beauthentic anecdotes, and rational speculations, worthy of a man who acts a part in the great theatre, and who fills a seat, not only in the general Pandemonium, but in the private council of the princes of the infernal regions. With regard to the detail of parliamentary operations, I must repeat my request to you, or rather to my lady, who will now be on the spot, that she will write, not with her pen, but with her scissors, and that after every debate which deserves to pass the sea and the mountains, she will dissect the faithful narrative of Woodfall, and send it off by the next post, as an agreeable supplement to the meagre accounts of our weekly papers. The wonderful revolutions of last month have sounded to my ear more like the shifting scenes of a comedy, or comic opera, than like the sober events of real and modern history; and the irregularity of our winter posts, which sometimes retarded and sometimes hastened the arrival of the dispatches, has increased the confusion of our ideas. Surely the Lord has blinded the eyes of Pharaoh and his servants; the obstinacy of last spring was nothing compared to the headstrong and headlong madness of this winter. I expect with much impatience the first days of your meeting; the purity and integrity of the coalition will suffer a fiery trial; but if they are true to themselves and to each other, a majority of the house of commons must prevail; the rebellion of the young gentlemen will be crushed, and the masters will resume the government of the school. After the address and answer, I have no conception that parliament can be dissolved during the session; but if the present ministry can outlive the storm, I think the death warrant will infallibly be signed in the summer. Here I blush for my country, without confessing her shame. Fox acted like a man of honour, yet surely his union with Pitt affords the only hope of salvation. How miserably are we wasting the season of peace!
I have written three pages before I come to my own business and feelings.
MR. GIBBON TO LORD SHEFFIELD.
Lausanne, May 11th, 1784. Alas! alas ! alas! We may now exchange our mutual condolence. Last Christmas, on the change of administration, I was struck with the thunderbolt of the unexpected event, and in the approaching dissolution I foresaw the loss of
The long continuance and various changes of the tempest rendered me by degrees callous and insensible; when the art of the mariners was exhausted I felt that we were sinking,
expected the ship to founder, and when the fatal moment arrived, I was even pleased to be delivered from hope and fear, to the calmness of despair. I now turn my eyes, not on the past,