Lady beaulieu acts like herself, and so do you in being persuaded that nobody will feel any satisfaction that comes to you with more transport than I do; you deserve her friendship, because you are more sensible to the grace of the action than to the thing itself; of which, besides approving the sentiment, I am glad, for if my Lady Cardigan(922) is as happy in drawing a straw, as in picking straws, you will certainly miss your green coat. Yet methinks you would make an excellent Robin Hood reform`e, with little John your brother. How you would carol Mr. Percy’s old ballads under the greenwood tree! I had rather have you in my merry Sherwood than at Greatworth, and should delight in your picture drawn as a bold forester, in a green frock, with your rosy hue, gray locks, and comely belly. In short, the favour itself, and the manner are so agreeable, that I shall be at least as much disappointed as you can be, if it fails. One is not ashamed to wear a feather from the hand of a friend. We both scorn to ask or accept boons; but it is pleasing to have life painted with images by the pencil of friendship. Visions you know have always been my pasture; and so far from growing old enough to quarrel with their emptiness, I almost think there is no wisdom comparable to that of exchanging what is called the realities of life for dreams. Old castles, old pictures, old histories, and the babble of old people, make one live back into centuries, that cannot disappoint one. One holds fast and surely what is past. The dead have exhausted their power of deceiving; one can trust Catherine of Medicis now. In short, you have opened a new landscape to my fancy; and my Lady Beaulieu will oblige me as much as you, if she puts the long bow into your hands. I don’t know but the idea may produce some other Castle of Otranto.
The victorious arms of the present ministry in Parliament will make me protract my stay here, lest it should be thought I awaited the decision of the event; next to successful enemies, I dread triumphant friends. To be sure, Lord Temple and George Grenville are very proper to be tied to a conqueror’s car, and to drag then, slow lengths along;” but it is too ridiculous to see Goody Newcastle exulting like old Marius in a seventh consulship. Don’t tell it, but as far as I can calculate my own intention, I shall not set out before the twenty-fifth of March. That will meet your abode in London; and I shall get a day or two out of you for some chat at Strawberry on all I have seen and done here. For this reason I will anticipate nothing now, but bid you good-morrow, after telling you a little story. The canton of Berne ordered all the impressions of Helvetius’s Esprit and Voltaire’s Pucelle to be seized. The officer of justice employed by them came into the council and said, “Magnifiques seigneurs, apr`es toutes les recherches possibles, on n’a p`u trouver dans toute la ville que tr`es peu de l’Esprit, et pas une Pucelle.” Adieu! Robin and John.