Diary of the times of Charles II/Volume 1/The Countess of Sunderland to Mr. Sidney, December 30

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December 30.

In my last I told you some reasons why my letters were so short and few to you. I have been very bad indeed, but am a little better now. I intended this day for writing at large to you, but have been hindered till 'tis now nine o'clock by company, which is not to be avoided, when one's sick, and keeps home, and cannot deny one's self; but till the post goes I'll write all I can think of at least, till they send for my letters. In my last I gave you an answer to what you proposed about the Parliament[1] and you already find that affair is out of doors; but, because despair is the most miserable condition as well as the most wicked, I still endeavour to pull up my spirits; and, whilst the world lasts, will do as well as we can, if it be out of our power to do as we would. In order to this, the next thing that was thought best, was this severity against Papists; and, indeed, if it holds firm, the consumption may last a little longer; and, during that time, you and we may be winding up our bottom; which, I am sure, I shall ever be as solicitous for as my own, and desire our interests may never be separated. There's like to be a change by Secretary Coventry's resolving to quit without money, since there's none to be got upon the account of ill health. The King has been persuaded to Lord Halifax, but he desires to be excused, and I believe Mr. Godolphin will be the person, upon which you know there will be a vacancy, which we do mean to use all the arts imaginable to compass your filling; the thing seems hopeful enough, but yet too remote to give me the joy I should have on that occasion. I could not forbear saying so much, though you must never take the least notice, directly or indirectly, to my Lord, till he does to you, but, I assure you, 'tis much at his heart. The business of the petitions is not gone any further than the first step that noble Lord made you heard of; nor, I hope in God, will not. One thing is passed better than was expected—the new Common Council is chosen on the day it uses every year, St. Thomas, and they are the greatest part, nay, almost all, the same as last year, which is a very lucky thing. The Duchess of Portsmouth has put away all her papist servants, and she and Mrs. Crofte are now made up again, after the great fray you have heard about the lodgings. The Duchess of Portsmouth is every day more of a jade than ever, but don't understand that I mean as to France, for I believe that is quite out of her head; but I mean to every body, and in every particular; but I think she is so hampered, 'twill hurt none of us, and so long 'tis best it appears in its true colours. 123 is really a very reasonable good sort of a person, and trust to me till you come over in this matter; you will find you have been mistaken in that particular. If I don't by your next letters hear of your coming over, I shall be very impatient, and you will be much to blame; for Mr. Spencer says your affairs want you extremely. I won't wrong you so much as to think it necessary my telling you I do, therefore pray come quickly. I desire you to lay out £20 for me, in Dutch wax candles, which my Lady Temple says are very good. I would have them four to the pound, three parts, and the fourth part, six to the pound; and some tea, if you love me, for the last you gave was admirable.

I send you verses, which Mr. Hobs, just as he was dying, spoke to and upon the fair person of Lady Mary Cavendish:

Though I am now past ninety, and too old
T'expect preferment in the Court of Cupid,
And many winters make me even so old,
I am become almost all over stupid.
Yet I can love, and find a mistress too,
As fair as can be, and as wise as fair,
And yet not proud; nor any thing will do
To make me of her favour to despair.
To tell you who she is, were very bold;
But if in character yourself you find,

Think not the man a fool, though he be old,
Who loves in body fair a fairer mind.

I suppose you will agree with Mr. Hobs in this his last will and testament.

  1. The passages in italics are in cipher.