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great while ago, in answer to your last! A letter, madam, written with such purity of style, such admirable brevity and perspicuity, that I am confident there was not a sentence of it
would wish omitted, or that the severest critic would object to. Well, if you will fancy I am still in your debt, I must make haste and get out of it as fast as I can.
We are preparing to celebrate the birthday of -a prince, shall I say? why not? a king if you please, since he has more power than any monarch in the universe, and we all expect blessings from him of more value than the Indies : perhaps, indeed, we may expect too much from him, for it is natural to hope for every thing under the auspices of a new king; and however we may have been disappointed by his predecessors, we fondly flatter ourselves that the young sovereign will crown all our hopes, and put us in possession of all our wishes. Blessings, invaluable ones, he certainly has in his disposal ; but if we have wasted the bounties of his predecessors, would it not become us to mingle a tear to their memories with the joy which his accession inspires ? May the present reign, however, be happy to you and me, and all of us, long I dare not add, except in good actions, because, young as the prince is, it is no presumption to say that his days are numbered ; the astronomers have already cast his nativity,
nor is it in the power of all the sons of Adam to prolong beyond the appointed term, though but for an hour, the life of the New Year.
Geneva, Oct. 21, 1785. My dear Eliza has desired me to write to her during our tour. She could not have put me upon an employment more agreeable to myself, for I am continually wishing those I love in England could share the pleasure we receive by the new scenes and objects which are continually passing before our eyes; and though I can give you but a very inadequate idea of them, it will be without any drawback from fatigue, bad inns, dirt, and various other &c's which may be put on the opposite side when the travelling account is balanced. We landed at Calais Sept. 18th, and you may wonder that we have as yet only reached Geneva; but Mr. B. from kind regard to my health, and indeed the convenience of us both, thought it best to make short stages; besides which, we have stopped wherever there were churches or fine things to be seen. agreeable ornament of the towns abroad, which in England we are strangers to, is their fountains, the more pleasing as they connect public utility with a degree of magnificence. They excel us
likewise in public walks, and in every fortified town the ramparts alone afford very fine ones.
We find ourselves very happy at Geneva; and if the season was not so far advanced, should like to spend a month or two here : indeed we have been singularly fortunate, for Mr. B. has found out a family of relations here, of the name of Rochemont, very amiable and respectable people; and the society here in general seems easy, sprightly and literary. English is much under
tood, and very tolerably spoken by many. The town is still divided into parties, and one side will tell you that Geneva is no longer what it was, that it has lost its liberty and every thing worth living for; and thus far is true, that the government is become entirely aristocratical, and is at present so strict, that half a dozen people cannot have a weekly meeting at each other's houses, unless they choose to declare they keep an open tavern. The situation of Geneva, as you well know, is delightful. I am just returned from an excursion to the mountain of Salévė, within a league of the town; from whence on one side
you have a view of Geneva, with its lake of the purest blue, a large plain between the chain of Mount Jura and that of the Alps, cultivated like a parterre, and full of villages, country houses and farms, watered by the Arve, which meanders through it in the most sportive manner, making several islands,
and beyond Geneva falls into the Rhone. The vintage is not here got in, so that the vineyards are still in their beauty. On the other side Saléve, the mountains open upon you in all their grandeur. Mr. B. is gone to the Glaciers, to feast his eyes with a nearer view of these stupendous mountains; but I thought the expedition beyond my strength, and I am during his absence in a family of Genevois, who are very good kind of people.
Will you hear how they pass the Sunday at Geneva? They have service at seven in the morning, at nine, and at two; after that they assemble in parties for conversation, cards and dancing, and finish the day at the theatre. Did not you think they had been stricter at Geneva than to have plays on the Sunday, especially as it is but two or three years since they were allowed at all? The service at their churches is seldom much more than an hour, and I believe few people go more than once a day. As soon as the text is named, the minister puts on his hat, in which he is followed by all the congregation, except those whose hats and heads have never any connexion; for you well know that to put his hat upon his head is the last use a well-dressed Frenchman would think of putting it to. At proper periods of the discourse, the minister stops short, and turns his back to you, in order to blow
his nose, which is a signal for all the congregation to do the same; and a glorious concert it is, for the weather is already severe, and people have got colds. I am told, too, that he takes this time to refresh his memory by peeping at his sermon, which lies behind him in the pulpit.
Nobody ought to be too old to improve: I should be sorry if I was; and I flatter myself I have already improved considerably by my travels. First, I can swallow gruel soup, egg soup, and all manner of soups, without making faces much. Secondly, I can pretty well live without tea; they give it, however, at Geneva. Thirdly, I am less and less shocked, and hope in time I shall be quite easy at seeing gentlemen, perhaps perfect strangers, enter my room without ceremony when I am in my bedgown. I would not have you think, however, I am in danger of losing my modesty; for if I am no longer affected at some things, I have learned to blush at others; and I will tell you, as a friend, that I believe there is but one indecency in France, which is, for a man and his wife to have the same sleeping-room. “Est ce votre chambre, madame, ou celle de M. votre époux ?” said a lady to me the other day.. I protest I felt quite out of countenance to think we had but one.
It is time to leave Geneva, for I see from my window the tops of Mount Jura, which are already covered with snow; and we have had a vent de bise so severe, that I have been confined to my