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Jan=y= 9=th= 1778 My Dear Madam
   I am ashamed I have so long delay'd returning thanks for your kind & friendly letter, but my spirits felt a great damp at first returning to London, where I used to enjoy the friendly converse of my poor departed Brother. Death, disasters, & incidents, have reduced a large fireside to a small circle. A few years indeed show one, that the flattering hopes one entertained in the nursery of living in social gayety & freedom with those nearly allied in blood were [\mere/] pleasing delusions, [\if INTO If\] other things do not sever these natural connections the fatal scissars cuts their thread. Tho my poor Brother never had opportunity of amassing
great wealth, I was in hopes he would have left some thousands more behind him, but the easiness & flexibility of his temper, & a certain placid indolence, made him give into more expence than was prudent. The World lays the whole blame [\on him/] & is [\lend\] in compassionate lamentations for his Widow; indeed her present condition is very lamentable, & I pity her extreamly, but certainly she loved expense better than he did. I imagine poor Man! he thought her fine dress & & appearance raised her in the eye of the World. There is no end of ye bad consequences of an improper marriage. When Men & Women make an indiscreet match, they say it is no concern of any ones, but when any distress is the consequence, the Friends who were thought impertinent if they troubled themselves about y=e= match, are
thought cruel if they take no part of ye evil.
   I suppose you have heard that Duke Hamilton is going to be married to [\ye youngest/] Miss Burrel Lady Algernoon Percys Sister.
   I never remember the Town so empty at this Season, but it will be full before the birthday Postchaises & Coaches are continually arriving Monsieur de [\Iarnac\] , who married an Irish beauty, in the mistaken opinion that she was also a Fortune, has been stockjobbing here prodigiously, but if we should really have a french War he will be bit.
   A very superb Theater is going to be built in the Haymarket, it is to be in price the same as the Opera; no places taken, & the Play to begin at eight o'clock, which certainly suits better the present hour of dining. Once a week each of the other Theaters on certain conditions
are to lend their Actors, so they will each save the expence of a sixth part at least of their Theatrical shews, the other five nights their Houses will be ye fuller. If the London apprentices of these days are half as bold as he who killd the Lion, I think they will assault our new Theater, neither its price, hours, or situation will suit them. The Town has been very sickly. Lady George Germaine has been dangerously ill of the Measles, but is better.
   I imagine you must have really had a merry Christmass with your three young ones all joy & jollity. Montagu is in fine health, & as to spirits, he never wants them. He rides [\in/] ye Manage from eleven till twelve, & then his Tutor sets him on Pegasus. The day before yesterday was the first time he had attaind the honour of riding between the Pillars, & he was as proud of it as Alexander when he had
Bucephalus. He dances under the care of the celebrated M=r= [\Valouys\] early every morning. These exercises make a boy more healthy as well as more graceful. On tuesday he returns to Harrow where his Master tells me he does very well. I carried him to day to see M=r= Levers Museum. The collection of birds both as to their variety & preservation exceeds that in the King of Frances collection of natural curiosities, but not being shewn me by M=r= de Buffons & Mons=r= D'Aubenton I did not see them with so much pleasure [\the INTO The\] finest as well as rarest bird being a Wise & learned Man. M=r= Lever is gone into y=e= Country, & I was disappointed at not seeing a Man who w=d= exchange an Acre of good Land for an extraordinary fungus.
   If there is any thing which I can do for you in London be assured y=r= commands will give me pleasure. My best love attends my Neices & Nephew. Miss Gregory is much yours. I am D=r= Mad=m= yr most affect=te= & Sincere friend E Montagu