I am not going to tell you, my dear lord, of the diversions or honours of Stowe, which I conclude Lady Mary has writ to Lady Strafford. Though the week passed cheerfully enough, it was more glory than I should have sought of my own head. The journeys to Stowe and Park-place have deranged my projects so, that I don’t know where I am, and I wish they have not given me the gout into the bargain; for I am come back very lame, and not at all with the bloom that one ought to have imported from the Elysian field. Such jaunts when one is growing old is playing with edged-tools, as my Lord Chesterfield, in one of his Worlds,(13) makes the husband say to his wife, when she pretends that gray powder does not become her. It is charming at twenty to play at Elysian fields, but it is no joke at fifty; or too great a joke. It made me laugh as we were descending the great flight of steps from the house to go and sup in the grotto on the banks of Helicon: we were so cloaked up, for the evening was very cold, and so many of us were limping and hobbling, that Charon would have easily believed we were going to ferry over in earnest. It is with much more comfort that I am writing to your lordship in the great bow-window of my new round room, which collects all the rays of the southwest sun, and composes a sort of summer; a feel I have not known this year, except last Thursday. If the rains should ever cease, and the weather settle to fine, I shall pay you my visit at Wentworth Castle; but hitherto the damps have affected me so much, that I am more disposed to return to London and light my fire, than brave the humours of a climate so capricious and uncertain, in the country. I cannot help thinking it grows worse; I certainly remember such a thing as dust: nay, I still have a clear idea of it, though I have seen none for some years, and should put some grains in a bottle for a curiosity, if it should ever fly again.
News I know none. You may be sure it was a subject carefully avoided at Stowe; and Beckford’s death had not raised the glass or spirits of the master of the house. The papers make one sick with talking of that noisy vapouring fool, as they would of Algernon Sidney.
I have not happened to see your future nephew, though we have exchanged visits. It was the first time I had been at Marble-hill, since poor Lady Suffolk’s death; and the impression was so uneasy, that I was not sorry not to find him at home. Adieu, my good lord! Except seeing you both, nothing can be more agreeable than to hear of yours and Lady Strafford’s health, who, I hope, continues perfectly well.
(13) No. 18. A Country Gentleman’s Tour to Paris with his Family.-E.