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tion the unexpected missive which arrived this morning. The perusal of the contents spoiled my breakfast. They are disagreeble in themselves, alarm. ing in their consequences, and peculiarly unpleasant at the present moment, when I hoped to have formed and secured the arrangements of my future life. I do not perfectly understand what are these deeds which are so inflexibly required; the wills and marriage-settlements I have sufficiently answered. But your arguments do not convince ****, and I have very little hope from the Lenborough search. What will be the event? If his objections are only the result of legal scrupulosity, surely they might be removed, and every chink might be filled, by a general bond of indemnity, in which I boldly ask you to join, as it will be a substantial important act of friendship, without any possible risk to yourself or your suc. cessors. Should he still remain obdurate, I must believe what I already suspect, that **** repents of his purchase, and wishes to elude the conclusion. Our case would be then hopeless, ibi omnis effusus labor ; and the estate would be returned on our hands with the taint of a bad title. The refusal of mortgage does not please me; but surely our offer shews some confidence in the goodness of my title. If he will not take eight thousand pounds at four per cent. we must look out elsewhere; new doubts and delays will arise, and I am persuaded that you will not place an implicit confidence in any attorney. I know not as yet your opinion about my Lausanne purchase, If you are against it, the present position of affairs gives you great advantage, &c. &c. "The Severys are all well; an uncommon circumstance for the four persons of the family at once. They are now at Mex, a country-house six miles from hence, which I visit tomorrow for two or three days. They often come to town, and we shall contrive to pass a part of the autumn together at Rolle. I want to change the scene; and beautiful as the garden and prospect must
appear to every eye, I feel that the state of my own mind casts a gloom over them; every spot, every walk, every bench, recals the memory of those hours, of those conversations, which will return no more. But I tear myself from the subject. I could not help writing to-day, though I do not find I have said anything very inaterial. As you must be conscious that you have agitated me, you will not postpone any agreeable or decisive intelligence. I almost hesitate whether I shall run over to England, to consult you on the spot, and to fly from poor Deyverdun's shade, which meets me at every turn. I did not expect to have felt his loss so sharply. But six hundred miles ! Why are we so far off ?
Once more, what is the difficulty of the title ? Will men of sense, in a sensible country, never get rid of the tyranny of lawyers—more oppressive and ridiculous than even the old yoke of the clergy? Is not a term of seventy or eighty years, nearly twenty in my own person, sufficient to prove our legal possession? Will not the records of fines and recoveries attest that I am free from any bar of entails and settlements ? Consult some sage of the law whether their present demand be necessary and legal. If your ground be firm, force them to execute the agreement or forfeit the deposit. But if, as I much fear, they have a right and a wish to elude the consummation, would it not be better to release them at once, than to be hung up for five years, as in the case of Lovegrove, which cost me in the end four or five thousand pounds? You are bold, you are wise; consult, resolve, act. In my penultimate letter I dropped a strange hint, that a migration homeward was not impossible. I know not what to say; my mind is all afloat; yet you will not reproach me with caprice or inconstancy. How many years did you damn my scheme of retiring to Lausanne ? I executed that plan; I found as much happiness as is compatible with human nature; and during four years (1783–
1787) I never breathed a sigh of repentance. On my return from England the scene was changed: I found only a faint semblance of Deyverdun, and that semblance was each day fading from my sight. I have passed an anxious year; but my anxiety is now at an end, and the prospect before me is a melan. choly solitude. I am still deeply rooted in this country; the possession of this paradise, the friend. ship of the Severys, a mode of society suited to my taste, and the enormous trouble and expense of a mi. gration. Yet in England (when the present clouds are dispelled) I could form a very comfortable establishment in London, or rather at Bath; and I have a very noble country-seat at about ten miles from East Grinstead in Sussex.* That spot is dearer to me than the rest of the three kingdoms; and I have sometimes wondered how two men, so opposite in their tempers and pursuits, should have imbibed so long and lively a propensity for each other. Sir Stanier Porten is just dead. He has left his widow with a moderate pension, and two children, my nearest relations; the eldest, Charlotte, is about Louisa's age, and also a most amiable sensible young creature. I have conceived a romantic idea of educating and adopting her; as we descend into the vale of years, our infirmities require some domestic female society: Charlotte' would be the comfort of my age, and I could reward her care and tenderness with a decent fortune. A thousand difficulties oppose the execution of the plan, which I have never opened but to you; yet it would be less impracticable in England than in Switzerland. Adieu. I am wounded; pour some oil into my wounds: yet I am less unhappy since I have thrown my mind upon paper.
Are you not amazed at the French revolution ? They have the power, will they have the moderation, to establish a good constitution ? Adieu, ever yours.
* Alluding to Sheffield-place.
Lausanne, Sept. 9, 1789. Within an hour after the reception of your last, I drew my pen for the purpose of a reply, and my exordium ran in the following words: “I find by experience, that it is much more rational, as well as easy, to answer a letter of real business by the return of the post.” This important truth is again verified by my own example. After writing three pages, I was called away by a very rational motive, and the post departed before I could return to the conclusion. A second delay was coloured by some decent pretence. Three weeks have slipped away, and I now force myself on a task which I should have dispatched with. out an effort on the first summons. My only excuse is, that I had little to write about English business, and that I could write nothing definitive about my Swiss affairs. And first, as Aristotle says, of the first.
1. I was indeed in low spirits when I sent what you so justly style my dismal letter; but I do assure you that my own feelings contributed much more to sink me than any events or terrors relative to the sale of Beriton. But I again hope and trust, from your consolatory epistle, that, &c. &c.
2. My Swiss transaction has suffered a great alteration, I shall not become the proprietor of my house and garden at Lausanne, and I relinquish the phantom with more regret than you could easily imagine. But I have been determined by a difficulty, which at first appeared of little moment, but which has gradually swelled to an alarming magnitude. There is a lar in this country, as well as in some provinces of France, which is styled le droịt de retrait, le retrait lignager, (lord Loughborough must have heard of it,) by which the relations of the deceased are entitled. to redeem a house or estate at the price for which it has been sold; and as the sum fixed by poor Deyverdun is much below its known value, a crowd of coinpetitors are beginning to start. The best opinions (for they are divided) are in my favour, that I am
not subject to le droit de retrait, since I take not as a purchaser, but as a legatee. But the words of the will are somewhat ambiguous, the event of law is always uncertain, the administration of justice at Berne (the last appeal) depends too much on favour and intrigue; and it is very doubtful whether I could revert to the life-holding, after having chosen and lost the property. These considerations engaged me to open a negociation with Mr de Montagny, through the medium of my friend the judge ; and as he most ardently wishes to keep the house, he consented, though with some reluctance, to my proposals. Yesterday he signed a covenant in the most regular and binding form, by which he allows my power of transferring my interest, interprets in the most ample serse my right of making alterations, and expressly renounces all claim, as landlord, of visiting or inspecting the premises. I have promised to lend him twelve thousand livres, (between seven and eight hundred pounds,) secured on the house and land. The mortgage is four times its value; the interest of four pounds per cent. will be annually discharged by the rent of thirty guineas. So that I am now tranquil on that score for the remainder of my days. I hope that time will gradually reconcile me to the place which I have inhabited with my poor friend; for in spite of the cream of London, I am still persuaded that no other place is so well adapted to my taste and habits of studious and social life.
Far from delighting in the whirl of a metropolis, my only complaint against Lausanne is the great number of strangers, always of English, and now of French, by whom we are infested in summer. Yet we have escaped the superlatively great ones, the count d'Artois, the Polignacs, &c. who slip by us to Turin. What a scene is France ! While the assembly is voting abstract propositions, Paris is an independent republic; the provinces have neither authority nor freedom; and poor Necker declares that credit is no