(677) This alludes to something said in a character which Jerningham had assumed, for the amusement of a society some time before at Marshal Conway’s.-M.B.
(678) Miss More gives the following account of this extraordinary character:—“On Friday I gratified the curiosity of many years, by meeting at dinner Madame la Chevali`ere D’Eon — she is extremely entertaining, has universal information, wit, vivacity, and gaiety. Something too much of the latter (I have heard) when she has taken a bottle or two of Burgundy; but this being a very sober party, she was kept entirely within the limits of decorum. General Johnson was of the party, and it was ridiculous to hear her military conversation. Sometimes it Was, ’Quand j’`etais colonel d’un tel regiment;’ then again, ’Non, c’Rait quand j’`etais secr`etaire d’ambassade du Duc de Nivernois,’ or, ’Quand je n`egociais la paix de Paris.’ She is, to be sure, a phenomenon in history; and, as such, a great curiosity. But one D’Eon is enough, and one slice of her quite sufficient.” Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 156.-E.
You speak so unperemptorily of your motions, that I must direct to you at random: the most probable place where to hit you, I think, will be Goodwood; and I do address this thither, because I am impatient to thank you for your tale, which is very pretty and easy and genteel. It has made me make a reflection, and that reflection made six lines; which I send you, not as good, but as expressing my thoughts on your writing so well in various ways which you never practised when you was much younger. Here they are:
The Muse most wont to fire a youthful heart,
To gild your setting sun reserved her art;
To crown a life in virtuous labours pass’d,
Bestow’d her numbers and her wit at last;
And, when your strength and eloquence retire,
Your voice in notes harmonious shall expire.
The swan was too common a thought to be directly specified, and, perhaps, even to be alluded to: no matter, such a trifle is below criticism.
I am still here, in no uncertainty, God knows, about poor Lady Dysart (679) of whom there are not the smallest hopes. She grows weaker every day, and does actually still go out for the air, and may languish many days, though most probably will go off in a moment, As the water rises. She retains her senses perfectly, and as perfectly her unalterable calmness and patience, though fully sensible of her situation. At your return from Goodwood, I shall like to come to you, if you are unengaged, and ready to receive me. For the beauties of Park-place, I am too well acquainted with them, not, like all old persons about their contemporaries, to think it preserves them long after they are faded; and am so unwalking, that prospects are more agreeable to me when framed and glazed, and I look at them through a window. It is yourselves I want to visit, not your verdure. Indeed, except a parenthesis of scarce all August, there has been no temptation to walk abroad; and the tempter himself would not have persuaded me, if I could, to have climbed that long-lost mountain whence he could show one even the Antipodes. It rained incessantly all June and all July; and now again we have torrents every day.