A Letter From the Duke of Rutland

John Henry Manners, 5th Duke of Rutland

From the Duke of Rutland to Lady Shelley

Belvoir Castle, November 26, 1825.

My Dear Lady Shelley,

“So, at length you have deigned to notice me, and to remember that you had such a friend in existence! I know not how many months it is since I wrote my last letter to you; and I was trying to recollect whether it contained aught which could have affronted you, when your letter arrived to dispel all sombre suppositions from my mind, and to revivify me again with the cheering ray of your kind friendship, on which, believe me, I place a value of high (I may say highest) degree. At one time I thought you was treating me as you did at Burlington House, completely as a faute de mieux fellow; and that you was engaged in a more agreeable correspondence, perhaps with the very Duke who, on the occasion alluded to, drove me to the wall. Several times have I nearly been writing to you; but I have restrained myself, from the practice which I have of writing to you, Mrs. Fox, and a few other such highflown dames of fashion, only when I have received a letter from you. 1 do this from the idea that, till you write, you do not wish to hear from me. . . . You will hear from Shelley of all that passed during October. We were very merry at Cheveley. But to myself it was a most disastrous month, as far as gambling was concerned. I lost nothing terrifick on the turf; but the whist table really persecuted me! I shall be like Shelley, and give it up; at least all future high play. I mean to reduce my stake one-half, and my resolution is so fixed that I feel confident that it will not give way. … It is a sin that you should have Mazeppa (a horse) in your possession, and not bring him here to show his perfections to an admiring field! But Mazeppa goes out to a disadvantage under you, since he gets robbed of a considerable part of the admiration he would, under other circumstances (Jest a dire, under another person’s pressure) attract. It is a case in which ‘the horse and is rider’ must share by tallies, in admiration and applause. I have an admirable set of horses if I had nerves and head to ride them. Yet I entertain no doubt that Mazeppa would show a brilliant gem among them. Charles Thornton was asking after him last night. He has a monstrous opinion of him.

Belvoir Castle

“We are living entirely alone here; the Duchess has not been very well lately, and she wishes an interval of quiet, in order to recruit before the bustling time, a large society of Christmas, summon her to a re-exertion of strength. There is almost as much labour in directing the household concerns of a large party in a country house, as in guiding a hunter across a stony country in a mist. We have not yet allowed my two brothers (who are at Melton) to come to us. On December (?) I go to Beaudesert for a couple of days woodcock shooting, and when there I shall probably press forward for two nights to Willey. So you heard of the Anklet! We all agreed it was a beautiful, as well as a novel custom, and credit was given to the Columbus of it. It will very likely be the fashion next year in London, but there must be a curtailment of the flounces and furbelows, or it will be like the flower which springs to blush unseen. . . .

“You have my best wishes for your success in the important object relative to the diversion of the turnpike road. I can easily understand how great an improvement it will make to the comfort, the privacy, and the actual appearance of Maresfield. Nothing will give me greater pleasure than to visit you there; but I do not look so much to the pleasure of seeing the place, as of seeing its owner, and I beg that the success of your turnpike road diversion may not be the sine qua non of our visit to Maresfield! I trust that I shall also be able to congratulate you on the realisation of your golden dreams respecting the union of the Medway and the Ouse, and the consequent improvement in value of your property. Besides being an important object to you it would be a most important one to the country, for the causes which you ave detailed. Our lake here is just completed, and the water turned into it for a perpetuity a fortnight ago. It has all the effect which we wished, and expected, and does the Duchess’s conception and planning the highest credit. We are busily engaged in fitting up the large drawing-room, which I really think will be the handsomest room in the kingdom, as well as unique in its design. Twenty gilders are at this instant busily occupied at Knipton Lodge in preparing the parquets from Madame de Maintenon’s apartment in the Trianon, which are to form the fittings of the room, and they are superb. Our object was to have the room completed by New Year’s Day; but it is impossible.
Ever truly and affectionately yours,

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