I shall now turn to another subject. Mr. Astle, who has left me off ever Since the fatal era of Richard iii. for no reason that I can conceive but my having adopted his discovery, which for aught I know may be a reason with an antiquary, lately sent me the attainder of George Duke of Clarence, which he has found in the Tower and printed; and on it, as rather glad to confute me and himself, than to have found a curiosity, he had written two or three questions which tended to accuse Richard of having forged the instrument, though to the instrument itself is added another, which confirms my acquittal of Richard of the murder of Clarence-but, alas! passion is a spying glass that does but make the eyes of folly more blind.
I sent him an answer, a copy of which I enclose. Since that, I have heard no more of him, nor shall, I suppose, till I see this new proof of Richard’s guilt adopted into the annals of the Society, against which I have reserved some other stigmas for it. Mr. Edmondson has found a confirmation of Isabella Fitz-Osbert having married Jernegan after Walpole. I forget where I found my arms of the Fitz-Osberts. Though they differ from yours of Sir Roger, the colours are the same, and they agree with yours of William Fitz-Osborne. There was no accuracy in spelling names even till much later ages; and you know that different branches of the same family made little variation in their coats.
I am very sorry for the death of poor Henshaw, of which I had not heard. I am yours most sincerely.
P. S. The queries added to the letter to Mr. Astle were not sent with it; and, as I reserve them for a future answer, I beg you will show them to nobody.
Mr. Walpole cannot express how much he is obliged to Mr. Gibbon for the valuable present he has received;(243) nor how great a comfort it is to him, in his present situation, in which he little expected to receive singular pleasure. Mr. Walpole does not say this at random, nor from mere confidence in the author’s abilities, for he has already (all his weakness would permit) read the first chapter, and it is in the greatest admiration of the style, manner, method, clearness, and intelligence. Mr. Walpole’s impatience to proceed will struggle with his disorder, and give him such spirits, that he flatters himself he shall owe part of his recovery to Mr. Gibbon; whom, as soon as that is a little effected, he shall beg the honour of seeing.
(242) Now first collected.
(243) The first quarto volume of the History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.-E.