You certainly ask no favour, dear Sir, when you want prints of Me. They are at any body’s service that thinks them worth having. The owner sets very little value on them, since he sets very little, indeed, on himself: as a man, a very faulty one; and as an author, a very middling one; which whoever thinks a comfortable rank, is not at all my opinion. Pray convince me that you think I mean sincerely, by not answering me with a compliment. it is very weak to be pleased with flattery; the stupidest of ’all delusions to beg it. From You I should take it ill. We have known one another almost fifty years—to very little purpose, indeed, if any ceremony is necessary, or downright sincerity not established between us. tell me that you are recovered, and that I shall see you some time or other. I have finished the catalogue of my collection; but you shall never have it without fetching, nor, though a less punishment, the prints you desire. I propose in time to have plates of my house added to ’the Catalogue, yet I Cannot afford them, unless by degrees. Engravers are grown so much dearer, without My growing richer, that I must have patience! a quality I seldom have, but when I must. Adieu! Yours ever.
P. S. I have lately been at Ampthill, and saw Queen Catherine’s cross. It is not near large enough for the situation, and would be fitter for a garden than a park: but it is executed in the truest and best taste. Lord Ossory is quite satisfied, as well as I, and designs Mr. Essex a present of some guineas. If ever I am richer, I shall consult the same honest man about building my offices, for Which I have a plan: but if I have no more money, ever, I Will not run in debt, and distress myself: and therefore remit my designs to chance and a little economy.
I have nothing to say—which is the best reason in the world for writing; for one must have a great regard for any body, one writes to, when one begins a letter neither on ceremony nor business. You are seeing armies,(112) who are always in fine order—and great spirits when they are in cold blood: I am sorry you thought it worth while to realize what I should have thought you could have seen in your mind’s eye. However, I hope you will be amused and pleased With viewing heroes, both in their autumn and their bud. Vienna will be a new sight; so will the Austrian eagle and its two heads, I should like seeing, too, if any fairy would present me with a chest that would fly up into the air by touching a peg, and transport me whither I pleased in an instant: but roads, and inns, and dirt, are terrible drawbacks on My curiosity. I grow so old and so indolent, that I scarce stir from hence; and the dread of the gout makes me almost as much a prisoner, as a fit of it. News I know none, if there is any. The papers tell me that