(366) The packet in which she was crossing from Dover to Ostend was taken by a French frigate, after a running fight of several hours.
I am writing to you at random; not knowing whether or when this letter will go: but your brother told me last night that an officer, whose name I have forgot, was arrived from Jersey, and would return to you soon. I am sensible how very seldom I have written to you-but you have been few moments out of my thoughts. What they have been, you who know me so minutely may well guess, and why they do not pass my lips. Sense, experience, circumstances, can teach One to command one’s self. outwardly, but do not divest a most friendly heart of its feelings. I believe the state of my Mind has contributed to bring on a very weak and decaying body my present disorders. I have not been well the whole summer; but for these three weeks much otherwise. It has at last ended in the gout, which to all appearance will be a short fit.
On public affairs I cannot speak. Every thing is so exaggerated on all sides, that what grains of truth remain in the sieve would appear cold and insipid; and the great manoeuvres you learn as soon as I. In the naval battle between Byron and D’Estaing, our captains were worthy of any age in our story.
You may imagine how happy I am at Mrs. Damer’s return, and at her not being at Naples, as she was likely to have been, at the dreadful explosion of Vesuvius.(367) Surely it will have glutted Sir William’s rage for volcanoes! How poor Lady Hamilton’s nerves stood it I do not conceive. Oh, mankind! mankind! Are there not calamities enough in store for us, but must destruction be our amusement and pursuit?
I send this to Ditton,(368) where it may wait some days; but I would not suffer a sure opportunity to slip without a line. You are more obliged to me for all I do not say, than for whatever eloquence itself could pen.
P. S. I unseal my letter to add, that undoubtedly you will come to the Meeting of Parliament, which will be in October. Nothing can or ever did make me advise you to take a step unworthy of yourself. But surely you have higher and more sacred duties than the government of a mole-hill!
(367) On the 10th of August when the eruption was so great, that several villages were destroyed; a hunting seat belonging to the King of Naples, called Caccia Bella, shared the like fate.-E.