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<Q A 1778 TC EC EMONTAGU>
<X ELIZABETH MONTAGU>
[}ELIZABETH MONTAGU TO ELIZABETH CARTER. MO 3444. APRIL 24 1778}]
Sandleford April 24 / 1778 My dear Friend
My health, [\for/] which you so kindly interest yourself, has not been affected by the [\TEAR\] [\wayward\] humours of April, tho they have rarely been more changeful or severe. We had a great fall of snow on wensday morning, & at night a very sharp frost, [\but INTO But\] as Thompsons Seasons are always on a shelf in my dressing room, you know it [\WORDS INTO was\] in my power to chuse my weather, & suit the scene to my fancy. [\WORD INTO As\] the senses are not so easily cheated as the imagination, I confess I threw a Caparicon over my shoulders, & by the combination of Wood & Coal, made a fire not unworthy of the Yule, which we celebrate in the North the last six days of y=e= Old, & first six days of y=e= new year, for should the Fire go out before the proper period, Vesta w=d= certainly burn your House down before that day twelve month, as I was assured by our Stewards Wife, tho the
good Woman w=d= have terribly shock_d if I had told she talk'd liked a Heathen.
I do not wonder that you are dissatisfied with the Memoires of the Noailles if you consider them as Biographical writings. Heaven knows (\l'abbé\) Millot is very unlike the good Man Plutarch, & had the said (\abbé\) given you the Life of either of y=e= Mareschalles it w=d= have been piteous reading, but as the volumes are chiefly made up of letters from very eminent Persons, in very extraordinary, or great situations, I own I read them with much pleasure. Millot is the most (\impitoyable\) abridger that ever existed; & it is no less true than strange that his brevity makes him tedious according to ye proper sense of y=e= word. In the Court of the Muses Clio sh=d= indict him on the Coventry Act. he maims [\all limbs/] & defaces all [\WORD INTO features\] by his amputations. I think the letters not only shew you a great deal of character of y=e= Writers
but of many Persons concernd, & of the politicks of the french Cabinet, & the nonpoliticks of the Spanish Court. The number of Persons who lived on alms at Madrid astonishes one. The ignorance & superstition of y=e= Grandees of Spain exceed all imagination.
I am now busy in reading the State papers L=d= Hardwicke has lately given to y=e= World. as I read [\with them/] Rapins account of the periods [\in\] which the letters were written, I have hardly advanced to half y=e= first Volume, tho I have not bestow_d less than six hours every day on this business, I can give many hours to the House of Tudor, but am not enough of a jacobite to do y=e= same for y=e= Stuarts. I wish our Friend Plutarch w=d= come into y=e= World & write y=e= Lives of Henry y=e= 7=th=, y=e= 8=th=, & Queen Bess, & if Tacitus w=d= write notes upon these lives truly y=e= Work w=d= be a very fine one. The Tudors afford the best subjects for
History of any of our Princes; & as Men they are fine subjects for a Biographer. The change wrought in our system of Government by Henry y=e= 7=th= renders his Reign very interesting to every Englishman, the effects of his establishment, & the consequences of the alterations in his time are now explain'd & ascertained by experience, & Time gives his unerring verdict, so that a wise, judicious, & well informed Man might make a most excellent History. Lord Bacon says, Henrys Laws (^were deep not vulgar^) , but some have insinuated he made them in certain cases as Pitts & Traps on purpose to get Fines from those who unknowingly might fall into [\these\] [\captious institutions/] If such accusation be well founded, his Majesty ought rather to be esteem'd a cunning than a Wise Man, for a political system ought, like a fine machine, to have all its movements tend to one great end, & the Sovereign,
for whose benefit it works, in a principal degree, should make it his great endeavour that it is never impeded. Should not one think the Master of ye Great Loom at Derby very absurd, if he tempted school boys to break some of its wheels, in order to get from them the apples & ginger bread in their pockets? However in the main Henry was systematical in his conduct, & therefore a subject worthy the Historian. As to his capricious Successor, he w=d= afford a great deal of matter for a Biographer. He is a subject below wisedom, but happily constituted for Witt & vivacity, & the Writer who said witty things as often as he did absurd & extravagant ones, would never tire his Reader. As to Elizabeth Happy, w=d= be [\they INTO he\] (if [\WORD INTO his\] talents were equal to y=e= task) who should write her general History, or particular memoirs
I have sometimes had a thought of drawing a contrast between her & Catherine of Medicis; on purpose to shew the superiority of Prudence above cunning. Elizabeth preserved her Kingdom in quiet tho it was divided into various factions. Catherine raised factions to get a little brief & precarious authority. Let not what I have dropped make you raise the Spectre of Plutarch to frighten me. Be afraid that as I required a wise judicious & well inform'd Man to write the History of Henry ye 7=th=, I shall not permit a silly, injudicious, uninform'd Woman, to undertake that of his Wiser, greater, and much more magnanimous Granddaughter. So pray do not yawn at ye apprehension of my History of Elizabeth. I have only had such a dream after supping upon
Litterary Lambs wool when some of you Learned & ingenious Persons had flatterd me. The moment I awoke I perceived my incapacity, inability, insufficiency &c. So I find by your letter, that the Busy Demons of all fashions keep Holiday now: (^So gracious & so holy is the time^) . I suppose they are all playing at hazard in Satans great Hall, I really think none of them seem qualified for any thing but games of chance; (^except two or three of my particular friends.^) Pray tell me how Lord Chatham does, he can play at skilfull games, & once gave check mat to Frances. We sh=d= be glad now to [\BLOT\] [\hinder?\] y=e= Vol. These things sometimes make me sad, but I divert my mind from things that are not my business. My Nephew is happy
become expression here, at his age every month is may. I am delighted to see him so happy in enjoyments which cannot hurt his mind or body. I regret the being deprived of ye conversation of my Friends, but I have [\not/] felt a moments (\ennui\) . I am now going to take ye air on purpose to give my eyes some rest.
I am ever my dear & most dear Friend
your truly affect=te=
EMontagu My sweet young folks send their