At two miles from Houghton Park is the mausoleum of the Bruces, where I saw the most ridiculous monument of one of Lady Ailesbury’s predecessors that ever was imagined; I beg she will never keep such company. In the midst of an octagon chapel is the tomb of Diana, Countess of Oxford and Elgin. From a huge unwieldy base of white marble rises a black marble cistern; literally a cistern that would serve for an eating-room. In the midst of this, to the knees, stands her ladyship in a white domino or shroud, with her left hand erect as giving her blessing. It put me in mind of Mrs. Cavendish when she got drunk in the bathing-tub. At another church is a kind of catacomb for the Earls of Kent: there are ten sumptuous monuments. Wrest and Hawnes are both ugly places; the house at the former is ridiculously old and bad. The state bedchamber (not ten feet high) and its drawing-room, are laced with Ionic columns of spotted velvet, and friezes of patchwork. There are bushels of deplorable earls and countesses. The garden was execrable too, but is something mended by Brown. Houghton Park and Ampthill stand finely: the last is a very good house, and has a beautiful park. The other has three beautiful old fronts, in the style of Holland House, with turrets and loggias, but not so large within. It is the worst contrived dwelling I ever saw. Upon the whole, I was much diverted with my journey. On my return I stayed but a single hour in London, saw no soul, and came hither to meet the deluge. It has rained all night, and all day; but it is midsummer, consequently midwinter, and one can expect no better. Adieu!
(35) Now first printed.
I have waited impatiently, my dear lord, for something worth putting into a letter but trees do not speak in parliament, nor flowers write in the newspapers; and they are almost the only beings I have seen. I dined on Tuesday at Notting-hill(36) with the Countesses of Powis and Holderness, Lord and Lady Pelham, and Lord Frederick Cavendish—and Pam; and shall go to town on Friday to meet the same company at Lady Holderness’s; and this short journal comprises almost my whole history and knowledge.
I must now ask your lordship’s and Lady Strafford’s commands for Paris. I shall set out on the 7th of next month. You will think, though you will not tell me so, that these are Very juvenile jaunts at my age. Indeed, I should be ashamed if I went for any other pleasure but that of once more seeing my dear blind friend, whose much greater age forbids my depending on seeing more often.(37) It will, indeed, be amusing to change the scene of politics for though I have done with our own, one cannot help hearing them—nay, reading them; for, like flies, they come to breakfast with one’s bread and butter. I wish there was any other vehicle for them but a newspaper; a place into which, considering how they are exhausted, I am sure they have no pretensions. The Duc d’Aiguillon, I hear, is minister. Their politics, some way or other, must end seriously, either in despotism, a civil war, or assassination. Methinks, it is playing deep for the power of tyranny. Charles Fox is more moderate: he only games for an hundred thousand pounds that he has not.