I have heard much of your house, of your pictures, of your walks, of your ponds, and of your two boats, that came one by land and the other by sea from London-bridge, and met both at Bath-bridge; all which, God willing (if I live another summer), I will come of purpose to see; as also a swimming place, where, if one may believe your brother Francis, Diana did bathe her, and Acteon see her without horns. But to deal plainly with you, there be three special things that I have heard much boasted of, and therefore would willingliest see. The one a fountain standing on pillars, like that in Ariosto,<1> under which you may dine and sup: the second a shooting close, with a twelve score mark to every point of the card, in which I hear you have hit a mark that many shoot at; viz. to make a barren stony land fruitful with a little cost: the third is a thing that I cannot name well without save-reverence, and yet it sounds not unlike the shooting place, but it is in plain English a s—g place.<2> Though if it be so sweet and so cleanly as I hear, it is a wrong to it to use save-reverence; for one told me it is as sweet as my parlour; and I would think discourtesy, one should say, save-reverence my parlour. But if I might entreat you (as you partly promised me at your last being here) to set down the manner of it in writing, so plain as our gross wits here may understand it, or to cause your man, M. Combe (who I understand can paint prettily) make a draft or plot thereof to be well conceived, you should make many of your friends much beholding to you; and perhaps you might cause reformation in many houses that you wish well unto, that will think no scorn to follow your good example. Nay, to tell you my opinion seriously, if you have so easy, so cheap, and so infallible a way for avoiding such annoyances in great houses, you may not only pleasure many great persons, but do her majesty good service in her palace of Greenwich, and other stately houses that are oft annoyed with such savours, as where many mouths be fed can hardly be avoided. Also you might be a great benefactor to the city of
Of dames, of knights, of arms, of love's delight,
will now disdain to take so base a subject,
Of vaults, of sinks, privies, and draughts to write.
But herein let a public benefit expel a private bashfulness; and if you must now and then break the rules de slovilitate morum,<3> with some of these homely words, you see I have broken the ice to you; and you know the old saying, pens may blot, but they cannot blush. And as old Tarlton was wont to say, this same excellent word save-reverence, makes it all mannerly. Once this I dare assure you, if you can but tell a homely tale of this in prose, as cleanly, as you have told in verse a bawdy tale or two in
Your loving cousin,