Page images

Haut-ton Castle,
31st. Jan. 1807.

If among

Mr. Director,

the arts, which you profess to cultivate, you can discover that of filling up the vacancy of occupation, so as finally to get through the day, you would have the gratitude of many, whom it would be an honour to oblige. In our Christmas party here, we have every advantage of fashion, beauty, youth, and talent. We are never so few as 20 at table; all of ton and elegance; waiting only for the beginning of April and the commencement of the winter, to make

appearance in the metropolis. Our hours are regular. Since I have been here we have seldom sat up much later than four o'clock; which enables us to breakfast early, between two and three; after which we take our morning ride, or hunt, and find it pleasant enough while the moon serves.

our annual

I said that our hours are regular. Our dinner hours are exact. This is in compliance with the desire of my lord's cooks, who are lately arrived from Paris with special permission;, and who have publicly declared that they cannot undertake for the tact and tone of our dishes, corresponding to the directions in the almanach des gourmands, unless the dinner hour is precisely fixed and kept to. These two gentlemen exercise their art with the most delightful and amicable rivalry: each alternately decking a side of the table with dishes, the names and ingredients of which we do not presume to guess. A friend of theirs has at the same time supplied my lord with a fresh assortment of French Wines, flavoured to every taste, and for immediate drinking. We dine exactly at eight. Cards, dice, music, theatricals, &c. commence at midnight, and we have a petit souper about three o'clock. Our private theatre supplies a favourite entertainment. This has been fitted up, at a considerable expense, by his lordship, in the chapel

which formed the right wing of the house. In the selection of his servants, he has very judiciously paid a particular attention to this domestic species of amusement. One of the footmen is a capital Mackheath, another an excellent Filch; the butler is a good Lockit, and the steward a respectable Peachum. The female characters are filled by the maid servants, and my lord's eldest daughter is an incomparable Polly. In short the Beggar's Opera is what is termed a stock play with us, and we can get it up at an hour's notice.

We have a small but well chosen library: consisting of Schiller and Kotzebue, the Almanach des Gourmands, the works of Voltaire and Rousseau, and the Sportsman's Kalendar. We have had pretty deep play, and have occasionally our morning matches after breakfast, on horse or foot, for a cool hundred. Having the honour of being secretary, I send the Newspapers a weekly account of our proceedings, and

of the parties and amusements which we have in contemplation. By the by, they are growing abominably extravagant in their charges. A charge of fifteen and twenty guineas is too much for a single insertion. See whether you cannot make them a little more reasonable. Ministers indeed may afford to pay handsomely for accounts of cabinet dinners, which they do not give. They acquire reputation, without expense or trouble. But with us, who are out of place, and who really perform a good deal of what is published, they ought to be more reasonable.

As it is too early yet to go to town, we have been thinking of visiting Brighton for a fortnight. Summer parties want variety. During the winter months of April, May, June, and July, one gets through the day tolerably well. Operas, masquerades, balls, concerts, theatricals, pic-nics, and all that sort of thing, enable one to keep very late hours, and fill up the vacuity of existence, so

as not to be abandoned to our own meditations.

I am, &c.

[merged small][ocr errors]

I am glad to find you have taken’up the cause of the arts; among which is never to be forgot the primary and primeval art of good living. Not that I mean to impute to the present age any intentional neglect; as a zealous and unaffected homage is paid to it, both in the eastern and western hemisphere of the metropolis. But I conceive, Sir, that it will appear that this homage has been ill directed. I have at tended to this important subject for many years; having first had

ving first had my attention drawn to it by an eminent moralist, who, inveighing against the luxury of the age, emphatically said he could dine as well on ten dishes, if they were but

« PreviousContinue »