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the fair sex; or the almost universal contempt of all religion among both sexes, and among all ranks of men? Or shall I mention the points in which the French begin to concur with the English, — their love of liberty, for instance ? Or shall I give you some remarkable anecdotes of the great men who, at present, adorn French literature? Perhaps you would wish me to run over all these topics successively. Alas! there is not one that would not fill several sheets of paper with curious circumstances, and I am the most lazy writer of letters in the world: however, I must say something on these heads; and, first, of the
“ There is a very remarkable difference between London and Paris; of which I gave warning to Helvétius, when he went over lately to England, and of which he told me, on his return, he was fully sensible. If a man have the misfortune, in the former place, to attach himself to letters, even if he succeeds, I know not with whom he is to live, nor how he is to pass his time in a suitable society. The little company there that is worth conversing with, are cold and unsociable; or are warmed only by faction and cabal ; so that a man who plays no part in public affairs becomes altogether insignificant; and, if he is not rich, he becomes even contemptible. Hence that nation are relapsing fast into the deepest stupidity and ignorance. But, in Paris, a man that distinguishes himself in letters, meets immediately with regard and attention. I found, immediately on my landing here, the effects of this disposition. Lord Beauchamp told me that I must go instantly with him to the Duchess de la Valieres? When I excused
- Probably Vallière. The Duc de Vallière was the author of some anonymous theatrical pieces.
supposed to be
myself, on account of dress, he told me that he had her orders, though I were in boots. I accordingly went with him in a travelling frock, where I saw a very fine lady reclining on a sofa, who made me speeches and compliments without bounds. The style of panegyric was then taken up by a fat gentleman, whom I cast my eyes upon, and observed him to wear a star of the richest diamonds;- it was the Duke of Orleans. The Duchess told me she was engaged to sup in President Hénault's, but that she would not part with me; - I must go along with her. The good president received me with open arms; and told me, among other fine things, that, a few days before, the Dauphin said to him, &c. &c. &c. Such instances of attention I found very frequent, and even daily. You ask me, if they were not very agreeable? I answer—no; neither in expectation, possession, nor recollection. I left that fireside, where you probably sit at present, with the greatest reluctance. After I came to London, my uneasiness, as I heard more of the prepossessions of the French nation in my favour, increased; and nothing would have given me greater joy than any accident that would have broke off my engagements. When I came to Paris, I repented heartily of having entered, at my years, on such a scene; and, as I found that Lord Hertford had entertained a good opinion and good will for Andrew Stuart, I spoke to Wedderburn, in order to contrive expedients for substituting him in my place. Lord Hertford thought, for some time, that I would lose all patience and would run away from him. But the faculty of speaking French returned gradually to me. I formed many acquaintance and some friendships. All the learned seemed to conspire in showing me instances of regard. The great ladies were not wanting to a man so highly in fashion : and, having now contracted the circle of my acquaintance, I live tolerably at my ease. I have even thoughts of settling at Paris for the rest of my life; but I am sometimes frightened with the idea that it is not a scene suited to the languor of old age. I then think of retiring to a provincial town, or returning to Edinburgh, or ---- but it is not worth while to form projects about the matter. D'Alembert and I talk very seriously of taking a journey to Italy together; and, if Lord Hertford leave France soon, this journey may probably have place.
“I began this letter about two months ago; but so monstrously indolent am I that I have not had time to finish it. I believe I had better send it off as it is. Tell Robertson that La Chapelle, his translator, is very much out of humour, and with reason, for never hearing from him. I suppose some letter has miscarried. I am, &c.'
“ Paris, 6th April, 1765." Mr. Elliot had expressed to Hume a fear lest the longer residence of his sons in France might "render them too much Frenchmen,” while, speaking of their tutor, Mr. Liston,he says, “I own I am more apprehensive of the consequences of a Paris life upon a young man of his age than upon the boys, who are too young to enter into the full dissipation of a country, where, not to be dissipated, is hardly to have any existence.” On this Hume writes : HUME to GILBERT ELLIOT of Minto.
“Paris, 14th April, 1765. “My Dear Sir, I have always had the pleasure 1 MS. R.S.E.
? This gentleman is the same who afterwards distinguished himself as a diplomatist, and who was so well known by the title of Sir Robert Liston.
of conversing, from time to time, with your sons, with Mr. Liston, and with the Abbé Choquart, and never found the least reason to alter the good opinion, which I had at first conceived of that academy, and of the conduct of every one concerned: but the tenor of your last letter made me apprehend, that you had discovered some ground of suspicion; and the more so as Mr. Larpent told me, that you had spoke to his father, to desire him to request of his son, that he should keep a watchful eye over the conduct of your sons, and of Mr. Liston, and inform him of all particulars. This it is impossible for Larpent to do, and, indeed, impossible for me to do, otherwise than by conversing with the Abbé Choquart and with your sons apart. I have done this very carefully, and find Mr. Liston's conduct not only irreproachable, but laudable. The Abbé tells me, that for the first three or four months, he scarce ever stirred out of the house, but conversed with him alone, and with the other masters, till he came to such perfection in the language, as to be taken for a Languedocian, or a Frenchman of some province. Since that time the Abbé tells me, he has made a few acquaintances among his countrymen, and goes out sometimes; but he uses this liberty with great moderation; and on the whole, the Abbé praises him (and with great reason as appears to me) for his reserve, his modesty, his good sense, his sobriety, and his virtue. As to your sons, he assures me, that though he has been employed nineteen years in instructing youth, he never knew any more happily formed, and they are the favourites of the whole school. The boys themselves seem to be extremely happy in their present situation. Gilbert speaks French almost like a Parisian, and Hugh follows fast after him. This is an advantage
they have acquired, without interrupting the course of their otherstudies. The sociableness of their disposition has been called forth, by living among companions in a public school; and as they praise very much the civility and good humour of their fellow students, they may themselves be the more confirmed in their habits. But, pray, come hither yourself and judge of the matter.
“Two or three days ago, Lord Hertford wrote a very earnest letter to Mr. Grenville in my favour. I know well that, if you find an opportunity, you will second his application. The Saxon minister at the court, told my lord, that Mr. Wroughton was soon to leave Dresden. My lord has proposed that Bunbury be sent thither: if he refuses, it will be a proof that he is resolved to undertake no public service, but scandalously to live at home, and enjoy a large salary, which should belong to another. Surely if Mr. Grenville bore me never so little good-will, as a supposed Tory, he must allow this reasoning to be unanswerable.
“ You have now with you Sir James Macdonald, who is too good for you, for I am afraid you
will not know to value him. He leaves an universal regret behind him at Paris, among all who were acquainted with him, and in none more than myself. I am, dear sir, your faithful humble servant.” 1
In the following letter to Millar, we find Mallet and the Life of Marlborough, that had been promised and paid for, again the subject of speculation. Hume, though he had at one time been induced to believe that part of the work was written, seems to
1 Minto MSS.