I have writ to Madame de Guerchy about Your orange-flower water; and I sent your ladyship two little French pieces that I hope you received. The uncomfortable posture in which I write will excuse my saying any more; but it is no excuse against my trying to do any thing to please one, who always forgets pain when her friends are in question.
(895) Allan Ramsay, the painter.
(896) Baron de Grimm, in speaking of Madame Geoffrin, says:— “This lady’s religion seems to have always proceeded on two principles: the one, to do the greatest quantity of good in her power; the other, to respect scrupulously all established forms, and even to lend herself, with great complaisance, to all the different movements of public opinion."-E.
(897) Gibbon, in a letter to his father, of the 24th of February 1763, says:—“Lady Hervey’s recommendation to Madame Geoffrin was a most excellent one: her house is a very good one; regular dinners there every Wednesday, and the best company in Paris, in men of letters and people of fashion. It was at her house I connected myself with M. Helvetius, who, from his heart, his head, and his fortune, is a most valuable man."-E.
I am here, in this supposed metropolis of pleasure, triste enough; hearing from nobody in England, and again confined with the gout in both feet: yes, I caught cold, and it has returned; but as I begin to be a little acquainted with the nature of its caresses, I think the violence of its passion this time will be wasted within the fortnight. Indeed, a stick and a great shoe do not commonly compose the dress which the English come hither to learn; but I shall content myself if I can limp about enough to amuse my eyes; my ears have already had their fill, and are not at all edified. My confinement preserves me from the journey to Fontainbleau, to which I had no great appetite; but then I lose the opportunity of seeing Versailles and St. Cloud at my leisure.
I wrote to you soon after my arrival; did you receive it? All the English books you named to me are to be had here at the following prices. Shakspeare in eight volumes unbound for twenty-one livres; in larger paper for twenty-seven. Congreve, in three volumes for nine livres. Swift, in twelve volumes for twenty-four livres, another edition for twenty-seven. So you see I do not forget your commissions: if you have farther orders, let me know.
Wilkes is here, and has been twice to see me in my illness. He was very civil, but I cannot say entertained me much. I saw no wit; his conversation shows how little he has lived in good company, and the chief turn of it is the grossest bawdy.(898) He has certainly one merit, notwithstanding the bitterness of his pen, that is, he has no rancour; not even against Sandwich, of whom he talked with the utmost temper. He showed me some of his notes on Churchill’s works, but they contain little more than one note on each poem to explain the subject of it.