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In Whig Society 1775-1818
Duchess of Devonshire to Lady Melbourne, [February 1802?]

Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
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Chiswick, Saturday.

I could not see you to-day, d[eare]st Love. I really could not sleep & was more disturb’d than I could have supposed—for tho’ I am bound by ties of affection, gratitude, & regard to Loo—yet I ought not to feel as much as I do. I think I am more hurt at his having seemed to act out of his own good character with regard to you, (tho I have no doubt that it was from the fear of hurting you). It was unlike him—but he has acted strangely towards the girl. I suppose it must be so & indeed we are all undone.

Loo’s first error, when he resolv’d against the connection was allowing himself to be surrounded by the tribe—he expos’d himself at Kimbolton1 to the temptation of all others he was most likely to yield to—& tho’ his good taste will I suppose a little disgust him with the different society he is about to mix with—yet as they will be all prepared to flatter him & as he is sometimes

1 Kimbolton, the country house of the Duke of Manchester, who had married Lady Georgiana Gordon’s sister in 1793.

entertained with observing original character—of which God knows he will have enough [sic]. When I heard him some time ago quote
Johny Fordyce as the best existing farmer, I perceiv’d that they had been very industrious.

Whenever he thinks proper to tell me I shall say very little. I believe he must be very unhappy,—& indeed I cannot conceive his being happy, unless he becomes different from what he is. I think her very pretty, very bewitching, & clever certainly, & I have likd some things I have seen in her. But certainly there have been stories enough to make one tremble.

But as you said, if he has taken a fancy tout est dit. One other thing occurs to me. If he has a mind to recede can he now with honour? Good God how could he? It is so extraordinary & so unlike him to have spoken to her before he knew he was free; that either he pretends this to lessen the surprise to you, or that he was inveigled into more than he likes to own—& what a prospect if that is so—what a futurity for Loo to be surrounded with plotting, shabby Scotts men. The very amabilité that some time arises from the grotesque originality of Scotch people is in a line very different from what one should have thought would be Loo’s election for the Mistress of Wooburn. However if he can like the kind of specimen of broad jokes (covering however artful designs) which he has seen with the Manchesters—one has nothing to say. He will farm all morning, smoak his pipe with Manchester, attend to the domestic differences of Susan1 and her old man, & be amus’d with seeing

1 Lady Susan Gordon, third daughter of Alexander, 4th Duke of Gordon.

the young one (that I think is her name even in preference to
Georgy) jump over the backs of chairs, &c., &c.

All this I have been extremely amused with for an hour, but should have been sorry to have made it the society of my Life, but then I am not in Love.

Pray forgive my writing in this way, but I must vent myself. I cannot bear the idea of what he will be, and I suppose in a few years we shall have him inviting young men to Wooburn to get husbands for May Lenox or the young Fourdyces, with the industry The Duke of M[anchester] & the other Brothers-in-Law follow up the D[uche]ss game whenever she starts it. For God’s sake burn this letter. I would not for worlds appear impertinent to Loo, & indeed I feel very much for him, for you, for all of us.

No possible event could have so thoroughly overthrown the habits of our Society as this. But that is not the thing. If he could be wrong to you he is alter’d already in disposition. Why would he not openly avow his intentions? Why expose one to the denying it? Why lead one on to suppose he knew the D[uche]ss,—& be all the time preparing what must be such pain?

Well, I shall get accustomed to it I suppose, & if he is happy it will be some consolation, but I never can bear his having vexd you, nor understand it, for I know how much he loves you.

Is there not a possibility that to get rid of the woman,1 he thought it necessary to marry, & that

1 Mrs. Palmer, with whom the Duke had a connexion of long standing.

that pointed out the fancy to him. No, it must be as you say.

God bless you d[ea]r[e]st d[ea]r[e]st.

Let me know how you are, & tear this rhapsody—& believe how dearly I love you.