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rowed us hither from thence in five hours, for the packet boat came not till this morning. When I come to Brussels, I shall have more to write to you ; till then I am most humbly and heartily yours,
W. CONGREVE. My humble service to my neighbour, your mother, Mrs. Arne, Mrs, Travers, not forgetting the Alcayde, who, I hope, in my absence, may be. reconciled to punch.
Poor Charles is just writing to Mrs. A. and straining very hard to send something, besides the ballad, to please her much.
WILLIAM CONGREVE TO MRS. PORTER.
Rotterdam, September 27, 1700. I LEAVE you to judge whether Holland can be said to be wanting in gallantry, when it is customary there to enclose a billet doux to a lady in a letter to her husband. I have not so much as made mention of this to yours, and if you tell first, let the sin fall upon your head, instead of his. For my part, I keep the commandments; I love my neighbour as myself, and, to avoid coveting my neighbour's wife, I desire to be coveted by her, which you know is quite another thing. About five weeks since I wrote a very passionate letter to you from Antwerp, which, I believe, you never received, for just now it is found carefully put up by my man, who has been drunk ever since. I understand you have not been in the country : I am glad of it; for I
should very much apprehend the effects which solitude might have produced, joined with the regret which I know you feel for my absence. Take it for granted, that I sigh extremely. I would have written to the Alcayde, but that would make me regret that I was at a distance from her, which is pain I cannot bear. I would have written to your mother, but that I have changed my religion twice since I left England, and am at present so unsettled, that I think it fit to fix, before I endeavour to convert her to my opinion, which I design to do as soon as I know what it is. I have discoursed with friars and monks of all orders—with zealots, enthusiasts, and all sectaries of the reformed churches, and I had the benefit to travel twelve leagues together in Guelderland with a mad fanatic, in a waggon, who preached to me all the way things not to be written. Pray take care that Mr. Ebbut has good wine, for I have much to say to you over a bottle under ground ; and I hope, within three weeks, to satisfy you, that no man in the face of the earth, or in the cellar, is more, dear neighbour, your faithful and affectionate humble servant, than
WILLIAM CONGREVE TO MR. PORTER.
August 21. I AM forced to borrow lady's paper, but I think it will contain all that I can well tell you from this place, which is so much out of the world, that nothing but the last great news could have reached it. I have a little tried what solitude and retirement can afford, which are here in perfection. I am now writing to you from before a black mountain nodding over me, and a whole river in cascade falling so near me, that even I can distinctly see it. I can only tell you of the situation I am in ; which would be better expressed by Mr. Grace, if he were here. I hope all our friends are well, both at Salisbury and Windsor, where I suppose you spent the last week. Pray, whenever you write to them, give them my humble service. I think to go the next week to Mansfield race alone. I am told I shall see all the country. If I see any of your acquaintance, I will do you right to them. I hope Mr. Longueville's picture has been well finished. I am, dear sir, your most humble servant,
WILL. CONGREVE. Ilam, near Ashbourn, in Derbyshire, between six and seven in the morning. Birds singing jolly; breezes whistling, &c.
MATTHEW PRIOR TO THE EARL OF HALIFAX.
Paris, the 9th Aug. N. S. 1698. RIGHT HONOURABLE SIR AND MY DEAR MASTER, I CONGRATULATE your being made one of our Lords Regents, with all the respect and duty of a good subject. I remember I wrote six verses to you ten years since, which had a spirit of prophecy in them; they had a literal sense then, and are verified to have had a typical meaning likewise :
Theseus still loved, and follow'd still his friend,
He learn’d to worship what before he loved. Really, master, I am mightily satisfied to see you in the place where you are ; as I should have been to have bawled out a Montagu in Tuttle Fields, and to have kept my aunt tight to your interests, who, I think, does not heartily forgive you, or Worseley's Mares, for breaking her windows in former days.
They say you are to be made a Scotch earl ;an English duke, with all my soul!
All this time I am fluttering about Paris in a gilt chariot, with three footmen in gay coats ; so far it goes well : but the galloon maker, the tailor, the harness maker, the coachman, begin to grow very troublesome, &c. for I could write a quire upon this subject. Confess, however, my dear master, that greatness is very barren, and the glories of this world very empty, if Mr. Montagu in all his honours cannot help his friend Matt to five hundred pounds on this occasion.
I have written to Lord Portland and Mr. Secretary Vernon long politic letters, of the preparations these people make, in case the king of Spain should die ; and in all probability that sickly monarch will not linger out much more than this autumn. I wish the business of Schonenberg were made up, and that we had any body that might speak to them at Madrid. The
imperial minister there asks all, and can get nothing effected; whilst the French ambassador is seemingly modest in his demands, and engaging the council underhand into his interests.
Every thing here is in profound tranquillity : the king's going from Marli to Meudon, and from Meudon to Versailles, is all one hears of. The grand prieur affronted the prince of Conti, and was put into the Bastile for so doing ; he is at liberty again, and all is well.
We are to have a Hounslow Heath campaign the beginning of next month : Lord Jersey will not be here, or at least will not have had his audience, so I must get a cock horse.- N. B, a new expense.
This place is far from affording any pleasure : every body goes four times a week to the opera, to see Bellerophon kill the Chimera. Sum paulo infirmior, I confess ; and cannot love music to that degree, as to hear the same thing fifty times, and especially in the dogdays.
There is some tolerable satisfaction in the company of some of their men of learning ; but those who expect most preferment from court, are a little shy of being much with me.
The women here are all practical jades—unam cognôras, omnes nôras : they are all painted, and instructed, so that they look and talk like one another. They have nothing of nature, nor passion ; and the men neglect them, and make love to each other.
I do not doubt but that I shall stay here with my Lord Jersey a good while; so that, if I had