Do not put yourself’ to pain to answer this—only be assured I shall be happy to know when you are able to write with ease. You must leave Your cloister, if Your transcribing leaves you. Believe me, dear Sir, Ever most truly.
I am sorry, dear Sir, you could not let me have the pleasure of your company; but, I own, you have partly, not entirely, made me amends by the sight of your curious manuscript, which I return you, with your other book of inaugurations.
The sight of the manuscript was particularly welcome to me, because the long visit of Henry VI. and his uncle Gloucester, to St. Edmund’s Bury, accounts for those rare altar tablets that I bought at Mr. Ives’s sale, on which are incontestably the portraits of Duke Humphrey, Cardinal Beaufort, and the same archbishop that is in my Marriage of Henry VI. I know the house of Lancaster were patrons of St. Edmund’s Bury; but so long a visit is demonstration.
The fourth person on my panels is unknown. Over his head is a coat of arms. but may be that of W. Curteys the abbot, or the alderman, as he is in scarlet. His figure and the Duke’s are far superior to the other two, and worthy of a good Italian master. The Cardinal and the Archbishop are in the dry hard manner of the age. I wish you would call and look at them; they are at Mr. Bonus’s in Oxford-road; the two prelates are much damaged. I peremptorily enjoined Bonus to repair only, and not to repaint them; and thus, by putting him out of his way, I have put him so much out of humour too, that he has kept them these two years, and not finished them yet. I design them for the four void spaces in my chapel, on the sides of the shrine. The Duke of Gloucester’s face is so like, though younger, that it proves I guessed right at his figure in my Marriage. The tablets came out of the abbey of Bury; were procured by old Peter Le Neve, Norroy; and came by his widow’s marriage to Tom Martin, at whose sale Mr. Ives bought them. We have very few princely portraits so ancient, so authentic, and none so well painted as the Duke and fourth person. These were the insides of the doors, which I had split into two, and value them extremely. This account I think will be more satisfactory to you than notes.
Pray tell me how you like the pictures when you have examined them. I shall search in Edmondson’s new Vocabulary of Arms for the coat which contains three bulls’ heads on six pieces; but the colours are either white and black. or the latter is become so by time. I hope you are not going out of town yet; I shall probably be there some day in next week.
I see advertised a book something in the way of your inaugurations, called Le Costume; do you know any thing of it? Can you tell me who is the author of the Second Anticipation on the Exhibition? Is not it Barry the painter?