(523) “As politics spoil all conversation, Mr. Walpole, the other night, proposed that every body should forfeit half a crown who said any thing tending to introduce the idea, either of ministers or opposition. I added, that whoever mentioned pit-coal or a fox-skin muff, should be considered as guilty; and it was accordingly voted.” Hannah More, March 8, 1784.-E.
Instead of coming to you, I Am thinking of packing up and going to town for winter, so desperate is the weather! I found a great fire at Mrs. Clive’s this evening, and Mr. Rafter hanging over it like a smoked ham. They tell me my hay will be spoiled for want of cutting; but I had rather it should be destroyed by standing than by being mowed, as the former will cost me nothing but the crop, and ’tis very dear to make nothing but a water-souchy of it.
You know I have lost a niece, and found another nephew: he makes the fifty-fourth reckoning both sexes. We are certainly an affectionate family, for of late we do nothing but marry one another. Have not You felt a little twinge in a remote corner of your heart on Lady Harrington’s death?(524) She dreaded death so extremely that I am glad she had not a moment to be sensible of it. I have a great affection for sudden deaths; they save oneself and every body else a deal of ceremony.
The Duke and Duchess of Marlborough breakfasted here on Monday, and seemed much pleased, though it rained the whole time with an Egyptian darkness. I should have thought there had been deluges enough to destroy all Egypt’s other plagues: but the newspapers talk of locusts: I suppose relations of your beetles, though probably not so fond of green fruit; for the scene of their campaign is Queen square, Westminster, where there certainly has not been an orchard since the reign of Canute.
I have, at last, seen an air-balloon; just as I once did see a tiny review, by passing one accidentally on Hounslow-heath. I was going last night to Lady Onslow at Richmond, and over Mr. Cambridge’s field I saw a bundle in the air not bigger than the moon,(525) and she herself could not have descended with more composure if she had expected to find Endymion fast asleep. It seemed to ’light on Richmond-hill; but Mrs. Hobart was going by, and her coiffure prevented my seeing it alight. The papers say, that a balloon has been made at Paris representing the castle of Stockholm, in compliment to the King of Sweden; but that they are afraid to let it off: so, I suppose, it will be served up to him in a dessert. No great progress.. surely, is made in these airy navigations, if they are still afraid of risking the necks of two or three subjects for the entertainment of a visiting sovereign. There is seldom a feu de joie for the birth of a Dauphin that does not cost more lives. I thought royalty and science never haggled about the value of blood when experiments are in the question.