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winter. I don't want you to like the world, I like it no more than you; but I stay awhile in it, because while one sees it one laughs at it, but when one gives it up one grows angry with it; and I hold it much wiser to laugh than to be out of humour. You cannot imagine how much ill blood this perseverance has cured me of; I used to say to myself, “ Lord ! this person is so bad, that person is so bad, I hate them.” I have now found out that tbey are all pretty much alike, and I hate nobody. Having never found you out, but for integrity and sincerity, I am much disposed to persist in a friendship with you; but if I am to be at all the pains of keeping it up, I shall imitate my neighbours (I don't mean those at next door, but in the Scripture sense of a neighbour, any body), and say, " that is a very good man, but I don't care a farthing for him.” Till I have taken my final resolution on that head, I am, yours most cordially,
THE HON. HORACE WALPOLE TO GEORGE
Strawberry Hill, July 28, 1765. The less one is disposed, if one has any sense, to talk of one's self to people that inquire only out of compliment, and do not listen to the answer, the more satisfaction one feels in indulging a self complacency, by sighing to those that really sympathize with our griefs. Do not think it is pain that makes me give this low-spirited air to my letter. No, it is the prospect of what is to come, not the sensation of what is passing, that affects me. The loss of youth is melancholy enough; but to enter into old age through the gate of infirmity, most disheartening. My health and spirits made me take but slight notice of the transition, and under the persuasion of temperance being a talisman, I marched boldly on towards the descent of the hill, knowing that I must fall at last, but not suspecting that I should stumble by the way.
This confession explains the mortification I feel. A month's confinement to one, who never kept his bed a day, is a stinging lesson, and has humbled my insolence to almost indifference. Judge then how little I interest myself about public events. I know nothing of them since I came hither, where I had not only the disappointment of not growing better, but a bad return in one of my feet, so that I am still wrapped up and upon a couch, It was the more unlucky, as Lord Hertford is come to England for a very few days. He has offered to come to me, but as I then should see him only for some minutes, I purpose being carried to town to-morrow. It will be so long before I can expect to be able to travel, that my French journey will certainly not take place so soon as I intended; and if Lord Hertford goes to Ireland, I shall be still more fluctuating ; for though the duke and duchess of Richmond will replace them at Paris, and are as eager to have me with them, I have had so many years heaped upon me within this month, that I have not the conscience to trouble young people, when I can no longer be as juvenile as they are. Indeed I shall think myself decripit, till I can again saunter into the garden, in my slippers, and without my hat, in all weathers, a point I am determined to regain if possible, for even this experience cannot make me resign my temperance and my hardiness. I am tired of the world, its politics, its pursuits, and its pleasures, but it will cost me some struggles before I submit to be tender and careful. Christ! can I ever stoop to the regimen of old age? I do not wish to dress up a withered person, nor drag it about to public places; but to sit in one's room, clothed warmly, expecting visits from folks I don't wish to see, and tended and flattered by relations impatient for one's death! let the gout do its worst as expeditiously as it can; it would be more welcome in my stomach than in my limbs. I am not made to bear a course of nonsense and advice, but must play the fool in my own way to the last; alone, with all my heart, if I cannot be with few I wish to see ; but to depend for comfort on others, who would be no comfort to me, this surely is not a state to be preferred to death, and nobody can have truly enjoyed the advantages of youth, health, and spirits, who is content to exist without the two last, which alone bear any resemblance to the first.
You see how difficult it is to conquer my proud spirit: low and weak as I am, I think my resolution and perseverance will get the better, and that I shall still be a gay shadow; at least, I will impose any severity upon myself, rather than humour the gout, and sink into that indulgence
with which most people treat it. Bodily liberty is as dear to me as mental, and I would as soon flatter any other tyrant as the gout, my whiggism extending as much to my health as to my princi. ples, and being as willing to part with life, when I cannot preserve it, as your uncle Algernon when his freedom was at stake. Adieu ; yours ever,
THE HON. HORACE WALPOLE TO MR. GRAY.
Paris, Jan. 25, 1766. I AM much indebted to you for your kind letter and advice ; and though it is late to thank you for it, it is at least a stronger proof that I do not forget it. However, I am a little obstinate, as you know, on the chapter of health, and have persisted, through this Siberian winter, in not adding a grain to my clothes, and in going openbreasted, without an under waistcoat. In short, though I like extremely to live, it must be in my own way, as long as I can: it is not youth I court, but liberty; and I think making one's self tender is issuing a general warrant against one's own person.
I suppose I shall submit to con. finement when I cannot help it; but I am indifferent enough to life'not to care if it ends soon after my prison begins.
I have not delayed so long to answer your letter from not thinking of it, or from want of matter, but from want of time. I am constantly occupied, engaged, amused, till I cannot bring a
hundredth part of what I have to say into the compass of a letter. You will lose nothing by this : you know my volubility, when I am full of new subjects; and I have at least many hours of conversation for you at my return. One does not learn a whole nation in four or five months ; but, for the time, few, I believe, have seen, studied, or got so much acquainted with the French as I have.
By what I said of their religious, or rather irreligious opinions, you must not conclude their people of quality atheists—at least not the men. Happily for them, poor souls ! they are not capable of going so far into thinking. They assent to a great deal, because it is the fashion, and because they don't know how to contradict. They are ashamed to defend the Roman Catholic religion, because it is quite exploded ; but I am convinced they believe it in their hearts. They hate the parliaments and the philosophers, and are rejoiced that they may still idolize royalty. At present, too, they are a little triumphant: the court has shown a little spirit, and the parliaments much less : but as the duc de Choiseul, who is very fluttering, unsettled, and inclined to the philosophers, has made a compromise with the parliament of Bretagne, the parliaments might venture out again, if, as I fancy will be the case, they are not glad to drop a cause, of which they began to be a little weary of the inconveniences.
The generality of the men, and more than the generality, are dull and empty. They have taken up gravity, thinking it was philosophy and English, and so have acquired nothing in the