(260) Elizabeth, the first wife of Peregrine Hyde, third Duke of Leeds, was the youngest daughter of Robert Harley, the great Earl of Oxford.-E.
Thank you for your letter. I send this by the coach. You will have found a new scene,(261) not an unexpected one by you and me, though I do not pretend I thought it so near. I rather imagined France would have instigated or winked at Spain’s beginning with us. Here is a solution of the Americans declaring themselves independent. Oh! the folly, the madness, the guilt of having plunged us into this abyss! Were we and a few more endued with any uncommon penetration? No: they who did not see as far, would not. I am impatient to hear the complexion of to-day. I suppose it will, on the part of administration, have been a wretched farce of fear, daubed over with airs of bullying. You, I do not doubt, have acted like yourself, feeling for our situation, above insulting, and unprovoked but at the criminality that has brought us to this pass. Pursue your own path, nor lean to the court that may be paid to you on either side, as I am sure you will not regard their being displeased that you do not go as far as their interested views may wish. If the court should receive any more of what they call good news, I think the war with France will be unavoidable. It was the victory at Long Island(262) and the frantic presumption it occasioned, that has ripened France’s measures—And now we are to awe them by pressing—an act that speaks our impotence!—which France did not want to learn!
I would have come to town, but I had declared so much I would not, that I thought it would look as if I came to enjoy the distress of the ministers-but I do not enjoy the distress of my country. I think we are undone; I have always thought so— whether we enslaved America, or lost it totally—so we that were against the war could expect no good issue. If you do return to Park-place to-morrow, you will oblige me much by breakfasting here — you know it wastes you very little time.
’I am glad I did not know of Mrs. Damer’s sore throat till it is almost well. Pray take care and do not catch it.
Thank you for your care of me: I will not stay a great deal here, but at present I never was better in my life-and here I have no vexatious moments. I hate to dispute; I scorn to triumph myself, and it is very difficult to keep my temper when others do. I own I have another reason for my retirement, which is prudence. I have thought of it late, but, at least, I will not run into any new expense. it would cost me more than I care to afford to buy a house in town, Unless I do it to take some of my money out of the stocks, for which I tremble a little. My brother is seventy; and if I live myself, I Must not build too much on his life; and you know, if he