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Sandleford 6=th= of july
   I have often taken up my pen & dipped it in ink, & prepared to dedicate & address its labours to your Grace, & have as often, been prevented; & the tide of ink has either been stopp'd by some accident, or turn'd from its proper channel to rush thro letters of business, or flow in Compliments & Congratulations, for of all these I have had many to write lately. then, Madam, we farmers & Housewives have many little cares; a black cloud that threatens the Hay, a clap of thunder that may spoil the Cream, [\WORDS INTO an East Wind\] that [\WORD INTO brings\] blast to our Grain, Can all darken the imagination, & spoil the Conceits of the Children of Care. I hope your Grace received a great deal of pleasure at [\Sevenoak INTO Sevenoaks\] & found & left your friend in good health: I was unlucky to leave Town the day before you return'd to it, but so the perverse fates decreed. M=rs= Donnellan & I had some Adventures at the Inn, which I think deserve relation, we had spent the fire of our Conversation, & were in serious, sober, & deliberate discourse, when M=rs= Ann Walton who was at the Inn, (with the late M=rs= Warren now M=rs= Honywood rush'd into the Room, let off a volly of Compliments on our happy
(\Rencontre\) , express'd a desire to inform us of the Pomps & Vanities of M=rs= Honywood's Wedding, the number & richness of her Cloaths, the quantity, lustre, & form of her jewels; with a most comprehensive (\et cetera\) of Equipage, Servants, Plumbcake feasts, & so on. the benevolent communicativeness of her temper, urged her on to describe this with such impetuous speed, such earnest violence, & uninterrupted force, that Poor Donn, & I, could hardly insert a note of Admiration; the most we could [\possible INTO possibly BY MM?\] introduce was ah! while this vocal musick was playing the thorough Base, the door again opend & let [\in/] M=rs= Hassel, the late L=d= Stawel's daughter; she came (as says the Poet) (Like lightning thro / a Cloud Shining bright, & speaking loud.) & with a Voice more [\in [\times\] /] audible, & discourse more voluble, than the other, went on without interruption, pause, or delay, till M=rs= Honywood summon'd her to play at Commerce. now for a Simile to describe the silence & dullness that appear'd on their departure; the blowing off of a Whirlwind, the Ceasing of Thunder, a storm of Hail going off in a soft Shower, even a Conjuror running away with one Corner of a House, & leaving the Inhabitants of the other in Dumb astonishment, & Silent fear, are poor Emblems, & faint comparisons, of the change that appeard
In the Room at our Inn. We were so amazed & Confounded, we stared at each other, and asked whether [\it was INTO they were BY MM?\] "Spirits blest, or Goblins [\Damned"/] wish'd we had spoke to [\it INTO them BY MM?\] ; enquired whether [\it? INTO they BY MM?\] vanish'd at the Crowing of the Cock, or the calling of the Drawer. at last, hearing it was [\a? DELETED\] [\something/] that had had two husbands, we determined it must be flesh & blood, grew more easy, & drank our tea. I don't know whether your Grace knows the History of M=rs= Hassel; she was handsome and very rich, & married first to a fugitive Papist Priest, who dying, she lamented for him so violently [\that/] her grief was soon worn out, & she married a Major Hassel. M=rs= Warren too dispatched her Sorrow in a reasonable time, & as soon as she had pulled off the Widows Veil & Weeds, put on her Bridal Garments, is now gone into Yorkshire with her new Husband. Don Quixote could not have desired a Better Adventure than the meeting these extraordinary Persons, in such extraordinary Spirits, on so extraordinary an occasion. I think my Ancestor, surnamed Crusoe, Voyaged thro' Lands unknown to less purpose than I pass'd thro the Turnpike Road to Newbury. As nothing suspends the faculties like astonishment, this great amazement so entirely subdued my small capacity, that I have stared without seeing, [\listening INTO listen'd\] without understanding, & spoke with=t=
Meaning ever since, this, tho not improbable, your Grace may be loth to believe; but as arguments are best illustrated by an example, I will give you a very [\extraordinary INTO Extraordinary\] one, & which will entirely convince you of the truth of what I advanced. [\a INTO A\] few days ago I [\carryed INTO carried BY MM?\] M=rs= Donnellan, & the little Pere, to see M=r= Sloper's Gardens & House, at a time when I was assured he was absent on his Election, but seeing a Man ride up the Avenue at the same time, [\I BY MM?/] took it into my head it might be M=r= Sloper, so [\I BY MM?/] did not alight immediately. [\the INTO The\] Housekeeper came to me, & ask'd if I w=d= walk in, I said I should be glad to see the House if (^M=r= Cibber UNDERLINED BY MM?^) was not at home, the Housekeeper look'd as [\agast INTO aghast WITH [\h/] BY MM?\] as if she had spoild a Custard, or broke a jelly glass; I coloured, M=rs= Donnellan twitterd, D=r= Courayer sputterd half french half English, & began to search for y=e= Case of a spying glass I had dropt in my fright. As my organs of speech, rather than of sight, seem'd defective, I was little interested for my perspective, but sat in the Coach making melancholly reflections on my mistake. M=rs= Donnellan could not compose her countenance, so that we were near a quarter of an hour before we got out of the Coach & after so long a Pause I walk'd into the House
[\greatly INTO Greatly\] abash'd. however, in the midst of my concern, it gave me some Consolation that I could procure your Grace a very Salutary & happy fit of laughing, of which I wish you the full benefit & pleasure. If I was not afraid of fatiguing you, I believe I could shake y=r= spleen with a description of D=r= Courayer's figure, when he arrived here from Oxford, thro a whole days rain; but let it suffice that he shone with drops of water like the diamond ficoides. [\BLOT\] [\How his beaver was\] slouch'd, his coloured handkercheif twisted, & his small boots stuck to his small legs; how the rain had [\wetted DELETED\] [\uncurled/] his Wig, the spleen dejected his Countenance, the Cramp spoild his Gait I [\shall INTO [\can\] BY WHOM?\] not describe; having set you a laughing at myself, it would [\look/] like a churlish pride, or (\mauvaise honte\) , if I should divert you to any other subject. M=rs= Donnellan & D=r= Courayer join in desiring their best respects & compliments [\to y=r= Grace/] . I hope My Lord Duke, and M=r= Achard, will accept of mine; & I desire that when you are disposed to laugh at any absurdity, you will not forget mine, who am serious, & wise, in nothing but being your Graces
   Most Devoted, Sincere,
   and affectionate Humble Servant
   E Montagu
[\ADDRESS\] To / Her Grace / The Dutchess of Portland / At Bullstrode / Bucks
By Garreds crop bag