The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 13/From Mary Delany to Jonathan Swift - 3


GLOUCESTER, OCT. 24, 1733.

I CANNOT imagine how my lord Orrery came by my last letter to you; I believe my good genius conveyed it into his hands, to make it of more consequence to you: if it had that effect, I wish this may meet with the same fortune.

If I were writing to a common correspondent, I should now make a fine flourish to excuse myself for not sooner acknowledging the favour of your letter; but I must deal plainly with you, sir, and tell you (now do not be angry) that the fear of tiring you stopped my hand. I value your correspondence so highly, that I think of every way that may preserve it, and one is, not to be too troublesome.

Now I cannot guess how you will take this last paragraph; but if it makes me appear affected or silly, I will endeavour not to offend in the same manner again. Some mortification of that kind is wanting to bring me to myself: your ways of making compliments are dangerous snares, and I do not know how to guard against the pleasure they bring: to be remembered and regretted by you, are honours of a very delicate kind. I have been told, that unexpected good fortune is harder to bear well than adversity.

The cold weather, I suppose, has gathered together Dr. Delany's set: the next time you meet, may I beg the favour to make my compliments acceptable? I recollect no entertainment with so much pleasure, as what I received from that company; it has made me very sincerely lament the many hours of my life that I have lost in insignificant conversation.

I am very much concerned at the disorder you complain of. I hope you submit to take proper care of yourself; and that the next account I have of your health will be more to my satisfaction.

A few days before I had your last letter, my sister and I made a visit to my lord and lady Bathurst at Cirencester. Oakly wood joins to his park; the grand avenue that goes from his house through his park and wood is five miles long: the whole contains five thousand acres. We staid there a day and half: the wood is extremely improved since you saw it; and when the whole design is executed, it will be one of the finest places in England. My lord Bathurst talked with great delight of the pleasure you once gave him by surprising him in his wood, and showed me the house where you lodged. It has been rebuilt; for the day you left it, it fell to the ground; conscious of the honour it had received by entertaining so illustrious a guest, it burst with pride. My lord Bathurst has greatly improved the wood house, which you may remember but a cottage, not a bit better than an Irish cabin. It is now a venerable castle, and has been taken by an antiquarian for one of king Arthur's, "with thicket overgrown grotesque and wild." I endeavoured to sketch it out for you; but I have not skill enough to do it justice. My lord Bathurst was in great spirits; and though surrounded by candidates and voters against next parliament, made himself agreeable in spite of their clamour: we did not forget to talk of Naboth's vineyard[1] and Delville[2]. I have not seen him since, though he promised to return my visit.

All the beau monde flock to London to see her royal highness[3] disposed of; while I prefer paying my duty to my mother, and the conversation of a country girl my sister, to all the pomp and splendour of the court. Is this virtue or stupidity! If I can help it, I will not go to town till after Christmas. I shall spend one month in my way to London at Long Leat[4]: I hear that the young people there are very happy.

It is a little unreasonable of me to begin a fourth page; but it is a hard task to retire from the company one likes best. I am, sir, your most obliged and faithful humble servant,

  1. Naboth's vineyard belonged to Dr. Swift.
  2. Dr. Delany's beautiful villa about a mile from Dublin.
  3. The late princess of Orange.
  4. The country seat of lord Weymouth.