I had not heard of the painting you tell me of. As those boobies, the Society of Antiquaries, have gotten hold of it, I wonder their piety did not make them bury it again, as they did the clothes of Edward I.(240) I have some notion that in Vertue’s MSS. or somewhere else, I don’t know where, I have read of some ancient painting at the Rose Tavern. This I will tell you-but Mr. Gough is such” a bear, that I shall not satisfy him about it. That Society, when they are puzzled, have recourse to me; and that would be so often, that I shall not encourage them. They may blunder as they please, from their heavy president down to the pert Governor Pownall, who accounts for every thing immediately, before the Creation or since. Say only to Mr. Gough, that I said I had not leisure now to examine Vertue’s MSS. If I find any thing there, you shall know-but I have no longer any eagerness to communicate what I discover. When there was so little taste for MSS. which Mr. Gray thought worth transcribing, and which were so valuable, would one offer more pearls?
Boydel brought me this morning another number of the Prints from the pictures at Houghton. Two or three in particular are most admirably executed—but alas! it will be twenty years before the set is completed. That is too long to look forward to at any age!—and at mine!—Nay, people will be tired in a quarter of the time. Boydel, who knows this country, and still more this town, thinks so too. Perhaps there will be newer, or at least more fashionable ways of engraving, and the old will be despised—or, which is still more likely, nobody will be able to afford the expense. Who would lay a plan for any thing in an overgrown metropolis hurrying to its fall!
I will return you Mr. Gough’s letter when I get a frank. Adieu!
(240) The Society of Antiquaries, having obtained permission to do so, had, on the 2d of May 1774, opened the tomb of Edward the First in Westminster. The body was found in perfect preservation, and most superbly attired. The garments were, of course, carefully replaced in the tomb.-E.
Sir, I am much obliged, and return you my thanks for the paper you have sent me. You have added a question to it, which, if I understand it, you yourself, Sir, are more capable than any body of answering. You say, “Is it probable that this instrument was framed by Richard Duke of Gloucester?” If by framed you mean drawn up, I should think princes of the blood, in that barbarous age, were not very expert in drawing acts of attainder, though a branch of the law more in use then than since. But as I suppose you mean forged, you, Sir, so conversant in writings of that age, can judge better than any man. You may only mean forged by his order. Your reading, much deeper than mine, may furnish you with precedents of forged acts of attainder: