Page images
PDF
EPUB

without example), or marry some Swiss of my choice, who would increase and enliven our society; and both would have the strongest motive for kind and dutiful behaviour. But the mother has been indirectly sounded, and will not hear of such a proposal for some years. On my side, I would not take her, but as a piece of soft wax which I could model to the language and manners of the country: I must therefore be patient.

Young Severy's letter, which may be now in your hands, and which, for these last three or four posts, has furnished my indolence with a new pretence for delay; has already informed you of the means and circumstances of my resurrection. Tedious indeed was my confinement, since I was not able to move from my house or chair, from the ninth of February to the first of July, very nearly five months. The first weeks were accompanied with more pain than I have ever known in the gout, with anxious days and sleepless nights; and when that pain subsided, it left a weakness in my knees which seemed to have no end. My confinement was however softened by books, by the possession of every comfort and convenience, by a succession each evening of agreeable company, and by a flow of equal spirits and general good health. During the last weeks I descended to the ground floor, poor Deyverdun's apartment, and constructed a chair like Merlin's, in which I could wheel myself in the house and on the terrace. My patience has been universally admired; yet how many thousands have passed those five months less easily than myself. I remember making a remark per. " At present

fectly simple, and perfectly true. (I said to Madame de Severy) I am not positively miserable, and I may reasonably hope a daily or weekly improvement, till sooner or later in the summer I shall recover new limbs, and new pleasures, which I do not now possess ; have any of you such a prospect ?” The prediction has been accomplished, and I have arrived to my present condition of strength, or rather of feebleness: 1 now can walk with tolerable ease in my garden and smooth places; but on the rough pavement of the town I use, and perhaps shall use, a sedan chair. The Pyrmont waters have performed wonders; and my physician (not Tissot, but a very sensible man) allows me to hope, that the term of the interval will be in proportion to that of the fit,

Have you read in the English papers, that the government of Berne is overturned, and that we are divided into three democratical leagues ? true as what I read in the French papers, that the English have cut off Pitt's head, and abolished the House of Lords, The people of this country are happy; and in spite of some miscreants, and more foreign emissaries, they are sensible of their happiness.

Finally-Inform my lady, that I am indigvant at a false and heretical assertion in her last letter to Severy, “ that friends at a distance cannot love each other, if they do not write.” I love her better than any woman in the world,-indeed I do; and yet I do not write. And she herselfbut I am calm. We have now nearly one hun

dred French exiles,—some of them worth being acquainted with ; particularly a Count de Schomberg, who is become almost my friend; he is a man 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. Ar 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

t 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

[blocks in formation]

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.

« PreviousContinue »