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I shall have more subject, as well as leisure, to write. Such tricks of laziness your active spirit is a stranger to, though Mrs. * *** complains that she has never had an answer to her last letters. Poor Lady Pembroke! you will feel for her! after a cruel alternative of hope and fear, her only daughter, Lady Charlotte, died at Aix en Provence; they have persuaded her to come to this place, where she is intimately connected with the Carjat family. . She has taken an agreeable house, about three miles from the town, and lives retired. I have seen her; her behaviour is calm, but her affliction
I accept with gratitude your friendly proposal of Wedgwood's ware, and should be glad to have it bought and packed, and sent without delay through Germany ; and I shall only say, that I wish to have a very complete service for two courses and a dessert, and that our suppers are numerous, frequently fifteen or twenty persons. Adieu. I do not mean this as your letter. You are very good to poor Kitty. With you I do not condole about Coventry.
MR. GIBBON TO LADY SHEFFIELD.
Lausanne, October 22d, 1784. A FEW weeks ago, as I was walking on our terrace with M. Tissot, the celebrated physician ; M. Mercier, the author of the Tableau de Paris ; the Abbé Raynal ; Monsieur, Madame, and Mademoiselle Necker; the Abbé de Bourbon, a natural son of Lewis the Fifteenth ; the VOL. VI.
a baroness; Mademoiselle Necker*, one of the greatest heiresses in Europe, is now about eighteen, wild, vain, but good natured, and with a much larger provision of wit than of beauty : what increases their difficulties is their religious obstinacy of marrying her only to a Protestant. It would be an excellent opportunity for a young Englishman of a great name and a fair reputation. Prince Henry must be a man of sense ; for be took more notice, and expressed more esteem for me, than any body else. He is certainly (without touching his military character) a very lively and entertaining companion. He talked with freedom, and generally with contempt, of most of the princes of Europe ; with respect of the empress of Russia, but never mentioned the name of his brother, except once, when he hinted that it was he himself that won the battle of Rosbach. His nephew, and our nephew, the hereditary prince of Brunswick, is here for his education. Of the English, who live very much as a national colony, you will like to bear of Mrs. Fraser and one more. Donna Catherine (Mrs. Fraser) pleases every body, by the perfect simplicity of her state of nature. You know she has had resolution to return from England (where she told me she saw you) to Lausanne, for the sake of Miss Bristow, who is in bad health, and in a few days they set off for Nice. The other is the Eliza ; she passed through Lausanne, in her road from Italy to England ; poorly in health, but still adorable, (nay, do not frown !) and I enjoyed
• Afterwards the celebrated Madame de Stael,
some delightful hours by her bedside. She wrote me a line from Paris, but has not executed her promise of visiting Lausanne in the month of October. My pen has run much faster, and much farther, than I intended on the subject of others; yet, in describing them, I have thrown some light over myself and my situation. A year, a very short one, has now elapsed since my arrival at Lausanne ; and after a cool review of my sentiments, I can sincerely declare, that I have never, during a single moment, repented of having executed my absurd project of retiring to Lausanne, It is needless to dwell on the fatigue, the hurry, the vexation which I must have felt in the narrow and dirty circle of English politics. My present life wants no foil, and shines by its own native light. The chosen part of my library is now arrived, and arranged in a room full as good as that in Bentinck Street, with this difference indeed, that instead of looking on a stone court, twelve feet square, I command, from three windows of plate glass, an unbounded prospect of many a league of vineyard, of fields, of wood, of lake, and of mountains ; a scene which Lord Sheffield will tell you is superior to all you can imagine. The climate, though severe in winter, has perfectly agreed with my constitution, and the year is accomplished without any return of the gout.
An excellent house, a good table, a pleasant garden, are no contemptible ingredients. in human happiness. The general style of society hits my fancy; I have cultivated a large and agreeable circle of useful acquaintance, and I am much deceived if I have not laid the founda.
tions of two or three more intimate and valuable connections ; but their names would be indifferent, and it would require pages, or rather volumes, to describe their persons and characters. With regard to my standing dish, my domestic friend, I could not be much disappointed, after an intimacy of eight and twenty years. His heart and his head are excellent; he has the warmest attachment for me, he is satisfied that I have the same for him : some slight imperfections must be mutually supported; two bachelors, who have lived so long alone and independent, have their peculiar fancies and humours, and when the mask of form and ceremony is laid aside, every moment in a family life has not the sweetness of the honeymoon, even between the husbands and wives who have the truest and most tender regard for each other. Should you be very much surprised to hear of my being married ? Amazing as it may seem, I do assure you that the event is less improbable than it would have appeared to myself twelve months ago. Deyverdun and I have often agreed, in jest and in earnest, that a house like ours would be regulated, and graced, and enlivened, by an agreeable female companion ; but each of us seems desirous that his friend should sacrifice himself for the public good. Since my residence here I have lived much in women's company; and, to your credit be it spoken, I like you the better the more I see of you. Not that I am in love with any particular person.
I have discovered about half a dozen wives who would please me in different ways, and by various merits : one as a mistress (a widow, vastly like
the Eliza; if she returns, I am to bring them together); a second, a lively entertaining acquaintance; a third, a sincere good natured friend; a fourth, who would represent with grace and dignity at the head of my table and family; a fifth, an excellent economist and housekeeper ; and a sixth, a very useful nurse. Could I find all these qualities united in a single person, I should dare to make my addresses, and should deserve to be refused. You hint in some of your letters, or rather postscripts, that you consider me as having renounced England, and having fixed myself for the rest of my life in Switzerland, and that you suspect the sincerity of my vague or insidious schemes of purchase or return. To remove, as far as I can, your doubts and suspicions, I will tell you, on that interesting subject, fairly and simply as much as I know of my own intentions. There is little appearance that I shall be suddenly recalled by the offer of a place or pension. I have no claim to the friendship of your young minister, and should he propose a commissioner of the customs, or secretary at Paris, the supposed objects of my low ambition, Adam in Paradise would refuse them with contempt. Here, therefore, I shall certainly live till I have finished the remainder of my His. tory; an arduous work, which does not proceed so fast as I expected, amidst the avocations of society, and miscellaneous study. As soon as it is completed, most probably in three or four years, I shall infallibly return to England, about the month of May or June; and the necessary labour of printing with care two or three quarto volumes, will