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tions. You say that he has enthusiasts, who still pretend to excuse him. Do they pretend then that D'Alembert, Horace Walpole, and I entered into a conspiracy against him to lead him into England, and ruin him by settling him in a most commodious and agreeable manner, and by doubling his income? For if this be not asserted, how can his outrageous behaviour towards me admit of any apology.
Could I look on Rousseau as one of the classics of your language, I should imagine that this story, silly as it is, might go to posterity, and interest them as much as it has done our contemporaries : but really his writings are so full of extravagance, that I cannot believe that their eloquence alone will be able to support them. He has a suspicion bimself that this is the case : I shall tell you the story, because I think it to his credit; for otherwise I would not repeat any thing that passed between us during the time of our familiarity. When we were on the road, he told me that he was resolved to improve himself in English ; and as he heard that there were two English translations of his Emile, he would procure them, he said, and read them and compare them: his knowledge of the subject would facilitate his advances in the language. Immediately on my arrival I procured the books for him. He kept them two or three days and then returned them, by telling me they could be of no use to him. He had not patience, he said, to read them; he was in the same case with regard to the original, and all his other writings, which, after their publication, he could never take into his hand without disgust. It is strange, I replied, that pieces so much admired for their eloquence could give no satisfaction to their author. Why, said he, with regard to their style and eloquence I am not altogether dissatisfied with them; but I dread always qu'ils pèchent par le fond ; and that their lustre is only the blaze of a day.
I am sensible of your great partiality and friendship, in offering to become my translator for any work, which I may hereafter give to the public : surely I could not desire to be introduced to foreign countries in a more advantageous manner than I should be by your elegant pen. But my écritoire is at present exhausted, and I have no prospect of filling it: I am even unsettled as to my views of establishing myself; and I in. dulge myself in the humour of living from day to day, partly in reading, partly in company, partly in indolence. I am afraid that you indulge yourself too much in this last enjoyment: otherwise, why do you, who have taste and knowledge in so eminent a degree, desire to translate the work of any other person, and not rather give some original performance to the public? You say, perhaps, that the constraint under which you labour in France discourages you : and you envy the liberty of England. But be assured, that the indifference, and I may say, barbarism of Eng. land, is more discouraging than all the persecutions of France, which sometimes tend only to give a lustre to an author, and to render him more interesting.
I beg my compliments to all my friends of your society; they may be assured that I shall never give up the thoughts of revisiting them, but with
I am with the greatest sincerity, my dear sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,
DAVID HUME TO THE COUNTESS DE
London, 23d December, 1768. I AM somewhat ashamed, dear madam, but still more sorry, to be obliged to address you by letter, instead of enjoying your conversation, as I flattered myself all last autumn. My intended journey was every day delayed, for different reasons, which appeared, each of them, at the time, solid and invincible; but it would be difficult for me to explain the amount of the whole. The truth is, I have, and ever had a prodigious reluctance to change my place of abode; and though this disposition was more than counterbalanced by my strong desire of enjoying your society, it made me perhaps yield more easily to the obstacles which opposed my journey. For this reason I shall say nothing of my future intentions, lest I expose myself to the same reproach of irresolution, in case I do not fulfil them. But I own I have, during a long time, felt the strongest inclination of hearing from you; and knowing your situation with regard to health and domestic satisfaction. The count, I hear, was to be married some weeks ago : I am told, that all your friends are extremely pleased with the alliance ; and that the young couple were to come home and live with you,-a project likely to turn out much to their advantage, and your satisfaction. I flatter myself that this arrangement will tend very much to give you more liberty in the disposal of your time—the circumstance which seemed to me chiefly wanting to your enjoyment of life : some constraint must still remain ; but I hope that, besides being alleviated by your friendship for the object, it will now also admit of intervals and relaxation. It will be difficult for you ever to be so happy as I wish you; and I am more difficult to please than you yourself would be with regard to every circumstance of your situation.
I think it my duty to inform you concerning all your friends in this country. The Bedford family seem to be comforted, entirely, from the shock they received on poor Lord Tavistock's death : some even reproached the duke with being too easily comforted; but it proceeded from the ardency of his temper, which always takes itself to the present object without reserve. He begins to apprehend that he is losing his eyes again, and that he has endured a very cruel operation to no purpose.
Lord and Lady Holdernesse live elegantly and sociably, as usual: my lord is only not quite contented in being left out of the present plan of administration, and not to have any occupation. Lady Emily is their great consolation, and is a fine girl,- but will not prove so handsome as we expected.
I believe the Duchess of Grafton was your ac
quaintance: her adventure cannot be unknown to you. It is not doubted, but, as soon as she is divorced, she will marry Lord Ossory; and the duke, his kept mistress, who was very lately a lady of the town. These are strange scenes, and very contrary to your manners.
Lord Beauchamp is married to a young lady of family and fortune, who has an entire complaisance for Lady Hertford : so that this incident, which she always dreaded, will nowise interrupt their correspondence. Lord Beauchamp makes a very good figure in parliament; but the young people cannot endure him, on account of his want of sociableness: you remember there was the same complaint against him at Paris ; and it is a pity, considering his amiable manner in other respects.
There was a report here, which got into the newspapers, that I was going over to France in my former station : but it never had the least foundation. The truth is, I would rather pay you a visit voluntarily than in any public charac. ter; though indeed the prospect of affairs here is so strange and melancholy, as would make any one desirous of withdrawing from the country at any rate. Licentiousness, or rather the frenzy of liberty, has taken possession of us, and is throwing every thing into confusion. How happy do I esteem it, that in all my writings I have always kept at a proper distance from that tempting extreme, and have maintained a due regard to magistracy and established government, suitably to the character of an historian and a philosopher. -I find on that account my authority growing daily; and indeed have no reason to complain of