I have now received the drawings of Grignan, and know not how to express my satisfaction and gratitude but by a silly witticism that is like the studied quaintness of the last age. In short, they are so much more beautiful than I expected, that I am not surprised at your having surprised me by exceeding even what I expected from your well-known kindness to me; they are charmingly executed, and with great taste. I own too that Grignan is grander, and in a much finer situation, than I had imagined; as I concluded that the witchery of Madame de S`evign`e’s ideas and style had spread the same leaf-gold over places with which she gilded her friends. All that has appeared of them since the publication of her letters has lowered them. A single letter of her daughter, that to Paulina, with a description of the Duchess of Bourbon’s toilette, is worthy of the mother. Paulina’s own letters contain not a little worth reading: one just divines that she might have written well if she had had any thing to write about (which, however, would not have signified to her grandmother.) Coulanges was a silly good-humoured glutton, that flattered a rich widow for her dinners. His wife was sensible, but dry, and rather peevish at growing old. Unluckily nothing more has come to light of Madame de S`evign`e’s son, whose short letters in the collection I am almost profane enough to prefer to his mother’s; and which makes me astonished that she did not love his wit, so unaffected, and so congenial to her own, in preference to the eccentric and sophisticated reveries of her sublime and ill-humoured daughter. Grignan alone maintains its dignity, and shall be consecrated here among other monuments of that bewitching period, and amongst which one loves to lose oneself, and drink oblivion of an era so very unlike; for the awkward bigots to despotism of our time have not Madame de S`evign`e’s address, nor can paint an Indian idol with an hundred hands as graceful as the Apollo of the Belvidere. When will you come and accept my thanks? will Wednesday next suit you? But do you know that I must ask you not to leave your gown behind You, which indeed I never knew you put on Willingly, but to come in it. I shall want your protection at Westminster Hall. Yours most cordially.
(364) Son of Nicholas Hardinge, Esq. one of the joint secretaries of the treasury, and member for the borough of Eye. He was educated at Eton school, and finished his studies at Trinity College, Cambridge, where Dr. Watson was his tutor, He was called to the bar in 1769, and was subsequently appointed solicitor-general to the Queen. in 1787, he was made a Welsh judge, and died in 1816. In 1818, the works of this clever and eccentric scholar were published, with an account of his life, by Mr. John Nichols.-E.
I could not thank your ladyship before the post went out to-day, as I was getting into my chaise to go and dine at Carshalton with my cousin Thomas Walpole when I received your kind inquiry about my eye. It is quite well again, and I hope the next attack of the gout will be any where rather than in that quarter.