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Dear Madam, The favour of your letter gave me great pleasure and I beg you to believe how much I shall always be flatter’d and oblig’d by the repetition. I have been told that in Yorkshire the seasons have had their usual course, which makes me hope your place of residence gas not experienced the dismal weather we have had in and near Town. The arrival of the Comte de Grasse very luckily took from it some attention, and you have heard of the distinguish’d reception given him by all ranks. I was the more pleas’d with the generality of it, as I did not think there had been so much liberality remaining among the inferior orders of this Town after the shamefull conduct of such members in the summer of 80. There was realy great merit in their behaviour to him, his presence here being a gratification to the pride as well as to the patriotism of the country. All you have read in praise of his conversation, manners and person, I can have the pleasure of confirming, having had the honor of being in his company twice at my father’s. A foreigner of your acquaintance has lately been much the subject of conversation, the Duc de Sangro. He appears to have a great inclination to take a wife from England, but his affections are so easily transfer’d I cannot wish him success, nor will, I dare say, Miss Wentworth, tho’ she form’d a favourable opinion of him at your house. The first object of his addresses was Miss Vernon, the maid of honour, with whom a match was so nearly concluded that she spent £200 in wedding attire & the writings were drawn up. The Duke then chang’d his mind, and paid his homage to Miss Clavering, whose Brother, Miss V happening to sit next at a supper, she told him, she had heard his sister was going to be married to the Duc de Sangro, and desir’d to know if it was true. Mr C said he was sorry to confirm it, for the family & himself did not at all approve the affair. Miss Vernon replied he had very much surpriz’d her for she knew a Lady to whom the Duke was engaged. Mr Clavering, much displeas’d at the news of such conduct to his sister hurried home & found her & the Duke together; he was very warm in his reproaches, but the Duke denied having any engagement. Mr C on that, determin’d to desire a further explanation of Miss V and went immediately to her appartments where after much entreaty (on account of the time of night) he gain’d admittance: in return to his enquiries Miss V said ‘if he must know who the Lady was, it was herself and then shew’d him several Letters from the Duc de Sangro. This conference made Miss C give him and absolute dismission, and he is said now to be addressing a Miss Ford who is reported to have £25,000. Some say the Duke denies the Letters shewn by Miss V and I have been likewise told she has declar’d , that ‘making love in Italian was to her irresistible’. Lord Effingham is gone to Gibraltar, from whence I wish him as safe a return as the chimney sweeper kill’d in the riots had a resurrection. Mr. Fox’s popularity appears much on the decline, and tho’ his talents must always be admir’d, so little judgement has of late accompanied them it is not thought he will influence many votes the ensuing session. He continues to console his disappointed ambition in the society – and, I suppose, the arms of Mrs. Robinson. I am sure you rejoice in the report of Abbe Reynal’s death being contradicted; we do very sincerely. I have just made a packet of French literature for your perusal, all of which have made much noise at Paris: the ‘confessions’ &c are undoubtedly Rousseau’s, many parts are admirable, others strange, & some that will give you a fresh concern for the unfortunate mixture tp be found in human nature & in one individual. I will say no more on the subject, but shall be very glad of your observations at your convenience. Give me leave to request you will read Rousseau & Les Liaisons dangereuses, before you let them go into other hands in your house, and when if you lend them to the gentlemen of your family please not to say they are mine for reasons you will find by the contents. I hope to hear of your being amus’d with what has much interested and entertain’d me, or I would not offer them to your attention. At your leisure, I beg the favour of the Books by the same conveyance that I send them. I add a bagatelle you were so obliging as to lend me, which by mistake I did not return with some other pamphlets. My father is greatly oblig’d to yourself & Mr. Bosville for the friendly share you took in his reelection; he desires to make his best compliments, and allow mine to attend the family. We are going to make some excursions in the course of the present month, but they will not be distant. In al places I must have a deep send of your kindness to dear Madam, Your affectionate friend, And very humble servant, Mary Wilkes Prince’s Court, September 11th, 1782 Wednesday night I have just seen a letter from Portsmouth which mentions all being order’d on board the ships that were to sail from thence, so that I hope Lord Howe is now on his way to Gibraltar.
Mary Wilkes was the daughter of John Wilkes, the radical MP. Although the recipient is not named it is clear from the contents that it was Diana, nee Wentworth, wife of Godfrey Bosville of Thorpe Hall in the East Riding of Yorkshire