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<Q A 1778 FN MA EMONTAGU>
<X ELIZABETH MONTAGU>
[}ELIZABETH MONTAGU TO MARY ROBINSON. OCT 3 1778. BL ADD. 40663. F. 79}]
Tunbridge Wells Oct ye 3=d= 1778 Dear Madam
If in this Wicked World one was not glad to enjoy more pleasures & favours than one deserves I should have felt more shame than joy at receiving your obliging letter yesterday, but I will not do myself the unmerited honour to say, I was not perfectly delighted with such an instance of your kind attention. I got two franks on purpose to write to you from Northumberland, & tho it is a Country as little famous perhaps for the flowers of rhetorick as the flowers of the Pasture, yet I flatterd myself that as soon as the hurry of my business was over, I should be able to collect something of news military or Civil that might amuse a distant correspondent but alas! I had been there only ten days when the epidemical cholick seized me; it did not stay with me many hours, but left me languid & enfeebled, so that I was not able to perform more in a day than my
necessary business & situation required. As I go seldom into Northumberland I have a great deal to do, & many people to see in the short residence I make there. I had two returns of the disorder in my bowels; on y=e= last attack, tho every return was less severe, I determined to try Tunbridge waters as I believe them to be great restoratives, however I grew so much [\better/] ye first four or five days I was in London, that I changed my plan, & settled every thing for going to Sandleford, & in this faith I went to bed on ye friday night, dreaming that on ye monday following I [\w\]=d= retire to the peaceful scenes of Sandleford; but on saturday morning finding a little return of ye disorder, I wrote to a Friend at Tunbridge, to take me ye House ye Duke of Leeds had just left, & was therefore well air'd & on ye monday I transferred myself to Tunbridge. I have not had a moments indisposition since I arrived, so I presume the bile that had plagued me had carried itself off. I am sure ye waters do not disagree with me, for I am very well, & hope they will conform my health. The last time I drank them, which is three years [\ago/] they did me harm & I was never
without a fever the whole six weeks. I find the epidemical cholick has been as severe on ye Water drinkers [\here/] as on other people so I rather believe I was lucky in not coming hither till it had left me. I am so little subject to disorders in ye bowels I was the more alarm'd, least my Constitution always bad enough should acquire a new defect. I propose to stay here as long as the weather is at all favourable to drinking ye Waters, for I imagine they will not heal me after the preparation Nature gave for them, & ye punishment I suffer in being here grows lighter by habit. I love London extreamly, where one has choice of Society, but I hate ye higgledy piggledy of ye Watering places. One never sees an Owl in a flock of wild geese, not a pigeon in ye same company as Hawks & Kites. I leave it to the Naturalists to determine on ye merit of each species of fowl; all I assert is, that nature has designed Birds of a feather, sh=d= flock
in the menagerie of ye [\Pantiles\] there is not so just an assortment. However I have been fortunate now in finding Lady Spencer, Lady Clermont, M=rs= Broughton, M=r= & M=rs= Wedderburne, & many of my voluntary London Society here. There was a pretty good Ball last tuesday, & Lady Spencer & the Duchess of Devonshire were so good to [\COVERED\] [\Chaperone\] Miss Gregory, so I did not think it necessary for me to sit & see y=e= Graces of Mess=rs= L'epy [\COVERED\] [\Valfrou\] & M=lle= Heinel exhibited by the Misses. I understand there are not above three dancing men, & y=e= Master of y=e= ceremonies makes one of ye [\COVERED\] [\numbers\]. Minouet dancing is just now out of fashion, & by ye Military air & dress of many of ye Ladies I sh=d= not be surprized if backsword & cudgell playing should take place of it. I think our Encampments excellent for making our Men less effeminate, but if they make our Women more masculine the male & female characters which should ever be kept distinct will not be more so than they have been.
I am glad my Nephew has quite recoverd his fall & jaundice; as ye first was an accident, & ye second perhaps owing to ye remarkable heat of the summer, one has good reason to hope the like may not befal him again.
We have still fine weather here, & I agree with you, that ye dust & little inconveniences that attend a dry Season are not to be put in any account. I w=d= bear months of dust for one fine day. I beg of you to assure your Consort, that I have a very agreable & grateful remembrance of ye kind visit he made me at Sandleford, & hope that you & he, & the dear little ones, will do me the like favour next Summer, & pray tell my Nephew, as he loves a Poney, I have a choice of ponies, one of them is hardly so large as y=e= Recorders Dog.
I thought my Brother Robinson lookd well when he was in Town, I am glad he continues so
Next week will carry off a great part of our Company but I flatter my self it will bring M=r= & M=rs= Thrale who are very amiable & agreable. I have not said any thing yet to you of my poor Father, the subject is a very melancholly one at present. All one can hope for him is an easy exit. The great decay of his mental powers has for some time renderd him an object of great pity, yet to my unspeakable indignation I was told by a Gentleman here, that one of ye Whist party at ye Coffee house some months ago had not only refused to pay a debt of [\eighteens\] [\guineas/] which he owed my Father, but had triumphd over him in a shocking manner asserting his loss of memory & imbecillity. What a Wretch must it be that c=d= insult an Old man! Extream old age is little to [\be/] coveted, in long life one must outlive ones friends, & perhaps oneself. I imagine by the accounts of today
[\I should suppose/] the great deliverer from human woes has before this time given him his release My Porter calls every night just before ye last letter bell to let me know how he does. I rejoyce to hear M=rs= Best is so well, perhaps I am the more interested in it as it is a little alarming to find the play fellows of ones youth dropping off in a kind of autumnal decay. It is much ye fashion to go from hence to visit the Camp at Coxheath & I intended going on purpose to shew Miss Gregory an encampment which she has never had an opportunity of seeing but she has lately received an invitation to a Friend of hers who is new in that Neighborhood to pass a day or two with her, so I hope we shall get such information of their Majesties motions that she may see Coxheath while they are there. My Fathers illness w=d= make it impossible for me to go, & I had much rather have the honour of seeing their
Majesties at S=t= James, & of all Fields the Field of Man is that I like least. The Fields which sustain Mankind are pleasant objects, there in which they are destroy'd suggest melancholly ideas. The fine condition in which I found my estates in Yorkshire & Northumberland, & ye universal prosperity there made me wish we might enjoy our plenty in peace, run no new hazards, & incur no new taxes. The labouring people in the North do not suffer the poverty we see in the same rank in ye South, & our parish rates are very low. It was a great mortification to me that my health urged me to leave Denton so soon, but it was impossible to stay longer without losing y=e= Tunbridge Season. I had ye pleasure of receiving visits from some of my scotch friends. Part of Miss Gregory were so good as to come to me. & Lord Kaimes, & M=rs= Drummond his Wife, came from
Edinburgh which is an 100 miles from Denton on purpose to spend a few days [\with me/] His Lordship is a prodigy, at 83 he is as gay & as nimble as he was at 25, his sight, hearing, & memory perfect. He has a great deal of knowledge & a lively imagination, & is a most entertaining companion. I have promised to return his visit two years hence I think as he has not grown old in space of 83 years two years more cannot have much effect, if it sh=d= abate a little of his vivacity he w=d= still have enough left. I beg my most affectionate comp=ts= to Your Consort & little family & also to the Recorder & his family, & my love to dear Miss Arnold. She is very happy in being with you, & I can easily believe you are so in having [\her/] She has good sense good humour & discretion which are excellent qualities in a
I must again repeat my thanks for ye agreable favour of your letter. Miss Gregory desires her best comp=ts=. I am D=r= Madam ye most affect=te= Sister & [\Sincere\] friend & H=ble= Serv=t= EM