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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.
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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 mari. ners was exhausted I felt that we were sinking, I 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, but on the present and the future; what is lost I try to consider as if it never had existed ; and every day I congratulate my own good fortune, let me say my prudence and resolution, in migrating from your noisy stage to a scene of repose and content. But even in this separate state, I was still anxious for my friend upon English earth, and at first was much delighted with your hint, that you were setting off for Coventry, without any prospect of an opposition. Every post, Wednesdays and Saturdays, I eagerly looked for the intelligence of your victory; and in spite of my misbehaviour, which I do not deny, I must abuse my lady, rather than you, for leaving me in so painful a situation. Each day raised and increased my apprehension; the Courier de l'Europe first announced the contest, the English papers proclaimed your defeat, and your last letter, which I received four days ago, showed me that you exerted first the spirit, and at last the temper of a hero. I am not much surprised that you should have been swept away in the general unpopularity, since even in this quiet place, your friends are considered as a factious crew, acting in direct opposition both to the king and people. For myself, I am at a loss what to say. If this repulse should teach you to renounce all connection with kings and ministers, and patriots, and parties, and parliaments; for all of which you are by many degrees too honest; I should exclaim, with Teague of respectable memory, By my should, dear joy, you have gained a loss.” Private life, whether contemplative or active, has surely more solid and
independent charms; you have some domestic comforts; Sheffield Place is still susceptible of useful and ornamental improvements (alas! how much better might even the last pounds have been laid out!) and if these cares are not sufficient to occupy your leisure, I can trust your restless and enterprising spirit to find new methods to preserve you from the insipidity of repose. But I much fear your discontent and regret at being excluded from that Pandemonium which we have so often cursed, as long as you were obliged to attend to it. The leaders of the party will flatter you with the opinion of their friendship and your own importance; the warmth of your temper makes you credulous and unsuspicious; and, like the rest of our species, male and female, you are not absolutely deaf to the voice of praise. Some other place will be suggested, easy, honourable, certain, where nothing is wanted but a man of character and spirit to head a superior interest; the opposition, if any, is contemptible, and the expense cannot be large. You will go down, find every circumstance falsely stated, repent that you had engaged yourself, but you cannot desert those friends who are firmly attached to your cause; besides, the money you have already spent would have been thrown away; another thousand will complete the business : deeper and deeper will you plunge, and the last evil will be worse than the first. You see I am a free-spoken counsellor ; may I not be a true prophet? Did I consult my own wishes, J should observe to you, that as you are no longer a slave, you might soon be transported, as you
seem to desire, to one of the Alpine hills. The purity and calmness of the air is the best calculated to allay the heat of a political fever; the education of the two princesses might be success. fully conducted under your eye and that of my lady ; and if you had resolution to determine on a residence, not a visit, at Lausanne, your worldly affairs might repose themselves after their late fatigues. But you know that I am a friend to toleration, and am always disposed to make the largest allowance for the different natures of animals; a lion and a lamb, an eagle and a worm. I am afraid we are too quiet for you ; here it would not be easy for you to create any business; you have for some time neglected books, and I doubt whether you would not think our suppers and assemblies somewhat trifling and insipid. You are far more difficult than I am ; you are in search of information, and you are not content with your company, unless you can derive from them information or extraordinary amusement. For my part, I like to draw knowledge from books, and I am satisfied with polite attention and easy manners. Finally, I am happy to tell, and you will be happy to hear, that this place has in every respect exceeded my best and most sanguine hopes. How often have you said, as often as I expressed any ill humour against the hurry, the expense, and the precarious condition of my London life, “ Ay, that is a nonsensical scheme of retiring to Lausanne that you have got into your head, a pretty fancy; you remember how much you liked it in your youth, but you have now seen more of the world, and if you
were to try it again, you would find yourself wofully disappointed.” I had it in my head, in my heart, I have tried it, I have not been disappointed, and my knowledge of the world has served only to convince me that a capital and a crowd may contain much less real society than the small circle of this gentle retirement. The winter has been longer, but as far as I can learn, less rigorous than in the rest of Europe. The spring is now bursting upon us, and in our garden it is displayed in all its glory. I already occupy a temporary apartment, and we live in the lower part of the house; before you receive this we shall be in full possession. We have much to enjoy, and something to do, which I take to be the happiest condition of human life. Now for business, the kind of subject which I always undertake with the most reluctance, and leave with the most pleasure, Adieu.
And now, my Lady, Let me approach your gentle, not grimalkin, presence, with deep remorse. You have indirectly been informed of my state of mind and body (the whole winter I have not had the slightest return of the gout, or any other complaint whatsoever); you have been apprized, and are now apprized, of my motions, or rather of my perfect and agreeable repose ; yet I must confess (and I feel) that something of a direct and personal exchange of sentiment has been neglected on ny side, though I still persuad myself that when I am settled in my new house