Letters of Horace Walpole
Horace Walpole

Part 1 out of 5

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1. TO MONTAGU, _May_ 2, 1736.--Marriage of the Princess of Wales--Very

2. TO THE SAME, _May_ 6, 1736.--Fondness for Old Stories--Reminiscences
of Eton, etc.

3. TO THE SAME, _March_ 20, 1737.--Wish to Travel--Superiority of French
Manners to English in their manner to Ladies

4. TO WEST, _April_ 21, 1739.--Theatres at Paris--St. Denis--Fondness of
the French for Show, and for Gambling--Singular Signs--The Army the only
Profession for Men of Gentle Birth--Splendour of the Public Buildings

5. TO THE SAME, 1739.--Magnificence of Versailles--The Chartreux Relics

6. TO THE SAME, _February_ 27, 1740.--The Carnival--The Florentines
Civil, Good-natured, and Fond of the English--A Curious Challenge

7. TO THE SAME, _June_ 14, 1740.--Herculaneum--Search should be made for
other Submerged Cities--Quotations from Statius

8. TO CONWAY, _July_ 5, 1740.--Danger of Malaria--Roman Catholic
Relics--"Admiral Hosier's Ghost"--Contest for the Popedom

9. TO THE SAME, _July_ 9, 1740

10. TO WEST, _Oct._ 2, 1740.--A Florentine Wedding--Addison's
Descriptions are Borrowed from Books--A Song of Bondelmonti's, with a
Latin Version by Gray, and an English One by the Writer

11. TO MANN, _Jan._ 22, 1742.--Debate on Pulteney's Motion for a
Committee on Papers Relating to the War--Speeches of Pulteney, Pitt, Sir
R. Walpole, Sir W. George, etc.--Smallness of the Ministerial Majority

12. TO THE SAME, _May_ 26, 1742.--Ranelagh Gardens Opened--Garrick, "A
Wine-merchant turned Player"--Defeat of the Indemnity Bill

13. TO THE SAME, _Dec._ 9, 1742.--Debate on Disbanding the Hanoverian
Troops--First Speech of Murray (afterwards Earl of Mansfield)--_Bon Mot_
of Lord Chesterfield

14. TO THE SAME, _Feb._ 24, 1743.--King Theodore--Handel Introduces

15. TO THE SAME, _July_ 4, 1743.--Battle of Dettingen--Death of Lord

16. TO THE SAME, _Sept._ 7, 1743.--French Actors at Clifden--A new Roman
Catholic Miracle--Lady Mary Wortley

17. TO THE SAME, _March_ 29, 1745.--Death of his Father--Matthews and
Lestock in the Mediterranean--Thomson's "Tancred and
Sigismunda"--Akenside's Odes--Conundrums in Fashion

18. TO THE SAME, _May_ 11, 1745.--Battle of Fontenoy--The Ballad of the
Prince of Wales

19. TO MONTAGU, _August_ 1, 1745.--M. De Grignan--Livy's Patavinity--The
Marechal De Belleisle--Whiston Prophecies the Destruction of the
World--The Duke of Newcastle

20. TO MANN, _Sept._ 6, 1745.--Invasion of Scotland by the Young
Pretender--Forces are said to be Preparing in France to join him

21. TO THE SAME, _Sept._ 20, 1745.--This and the following Letters give
a Lively Account of the Progress of the Rebellion till the Retreat from
Derby, after which no particular interest attaches to it

22. TO THE SAME, _Sept._ 27, 1745.--Defeat of Cope

23. TO THE SAME, _Oct._ 21, 1745.--General Wade is Marching to
Scotland--Violent Proclamation of the Pretender

24. TO THE SAME, _Nov._ 22, 1745.--Gallant Resistance of Carlisle--Mr.
Pitt attacks the Ministry

25. TO THE SAME, _Dec._ 9, 1745.--The Rebel Army has Retreated from
Derby--Expectation of a French Invasion

26. TO THE SAME, _April_ 25, 1746.--Battle of Culloden

27. TO THE SAME, _Aug._ 1, 1746.--Trial of the Rebel Lords Balmerino and

28. TO THE SAME, _Oct._ 14, 1746.--The Battle of Rancoux

29. TO CONWAY, _Oct._ 24, 1746.--On Conway's Verses--No Scotch_man_ is
capable of such Delicacy of Thought, though a Scotchwoman may
be--Akenside's, Armstrong's, and Glover's Poems

30. TO THE SAME, _June_ 8, 1747.--He has bought Strawberry Hill

31. TO THE SAME, _Aug._ 29, 1748.--His Mode of
Life--Planting--Prophecies of New Methods and New Discoveries in a
Future Generation

32. TO MANN, _May_ 3, 1749.--Rejoicings for the Peace--Masquerade at
Ranelagh--Meeting of the Prince's Party and the Jacobites--Prevalence of
Drinking and Gambling--Whitefield

33. TO THE SAME, _March_ 11, 1750.--Earthquake in London--General
Panic--Marriage of Casimir, King of Poland

34. TO THE SAME, _April_ 2, 1750.--General Panic--Sherlock's Pastoral
Letter--Predictions of more Earthquakes--A General Flight from
London--Epigrams by Chute and Walpole himself--French Translation of

35. TO THE SAME, _April_ 1, 1751.--Death of Walpole's Brother, and of
the Prince of Wales--Speech of the young Prince--Singular Sermon on His

36. TO THE SAME, _June_ 18, 1751.--Changes in the Ministry and
Household--The Miss Gunnings--Extravagance in London--Lord Harcourt,
Governor of the Prince of Wales

37. TO THE SAME, _June_ 12, 1753.--Description of Strawberry Hill--Bill
to Prevent Clandestine Marriages

38. TO MONTAGU, _May_ 19, 1756.--No News from France but what is
Smuggled--The King's Delight at the Vote for the Hanover Troops--_Bon
Mot_ of Lord Denbigh

39. TO THE SAME, _Oct._ 17, 1756.--Victory of the King of Prussia at
Lowositz--Singular Race--Quarrel of the Pretender with the Pope

40. TO THE SAME, _Nov._ 4, 1756.--Ministerial Negotiations--Loss of
Minorca--Disaster in North America

41. TO THE EARL OF STRAFFORD, _July_ 4, 1757.--The King of Prussia's
Victories--Voltaire's "Universal History"

42. TO ZOUCH, _August_ 3, 1758.--His own "Royal and Noble Authors"

43. TO THE SAME, _Oct._ 21, 1758.--His "Royal and Noble Authors"--Lord
Clarendon--Sir R. Walpole and Lord Bolingbroke--The Duke of Leeds

44. TO MANN, _Oct._ 24, 1758.--Walpole's Monument to Sir Horace's
Brother--Attempted Assassination of the King of Portugal--Courtesy of
the Duc D'Aiguillon to his English Prisoners

45. TO ZOUCH, _Dec._ 9, 1758.--A New Edition of Lucan--Comparison of
"Pharsalea"--Criticism on the Poet, with the Aeneid--Helvetius's Work,
"De L'Esprit"

46. TO CONWAY, _Jan._ 19, 1759.--State of the House of Commons

47. TO DALRYMPLE, _Feb._ 25, 1759.--Robertson's "History of
Scotland"--Comparison of Ramsay and Reynolds as Portrait-Painters--Sir
David's "History of the Gowrie Conspiracy"

48. TO THE SAME, _July_ 11, 1759.--Writers of History: Goodall, Hume,
Robertson--Queen Christina

49. TO CONWAY, _Aug._ 14, 1759.--The Battle of Minden--Lord G. Sackville

50. TO MANN, _Sept._ 13, 1759.--Admiral Boscawen's Victory--Defeat of
the King of Prussia--Lord G. Sackville

51. TO MONTAGU, _Oct._ 21, 1759.--A Year of Triumphs

52. TO THE SAME, _Nov._ 8, 1759.--French Bankruptcy--French Epigram

53. TO THE SAME, _Jan._ 7, 1760.--He lives amongst Royalty--Commotions
in Ireland

54. TO THE SAME, _Jan._ 14, 1760.--Severity of the Weather--Scarcity in
Germany--A Party at Prince Edward's--Charles Townsend's Comments on La

55. TO MANN, _Feb._ 28, 1760.--Capture of Carrickfergus

56. TO DALRYMPLE, _April_ 4, 1760.--The Ballad of "Hardyknute"--Mr.
Home's "Siege of Aquileia"--"Tristram Shandy"--Bishop Warburton's Praise
of it

57. TO THE SAME, _June_ 20, 1760.--Erse Poetry--"The Dialogues of the
Dead"--"The Complete Angler"

58. TO MONTAGU, _Sept._ 1, 1760.--Visits in the Midland
Counties--Whichnovre--Sheffield--The new Art of
Plating--Chatsworth--Haddon Hall--Hardwicke--Apartments of Mary Queen of

59. TO THE SAME, _April_ 16, 1761.--Gentleman's Dress--Influence of Lord
Bute--Ode by Lord Middlesex--G. Selwyn's Quotation

60. TO THE SAME, _May_ 5, 1761.--Capture of Belleisle--Gray's
Poems--Hogarth's Vanity

61. TO THE SAME, _May_ 22, 1761.--Intended Marriage of the King--Battles
in Germany--Capture of Pondicherry--Burke

62. TO MANN, _Sept._ 10, 1761.--Arrival of the Princess of
Mecklenburgh--The Royal Wedding--The Queen's Appearance and Behaviour

63. TO THE COUNTESS OF AILESBURY, _Sept._ 27, 1761.--The Coronation and
subsequent Gaieties

64. TO THE SAME, _Nov._ 28, 1761.--A Court Ball--Pamphlets on Mr.
Pitt--A Song by Gray

65. TO MANN, _Jan._ 29, 1762.--Death of the Czarina Elizabeth--The
Cock-lane Ghost--Return to England of Lady Mary Wortley

66. TO ZOUCH, _March_ 20, 1762.--His own "Anecdotes of Painting"--His
Picture of the Wedding of Henry VII.--Burnet's Comparison of Tiberius
and Charles II.--Addison's "Travels"

67. TO MANN, _Aug._ 12, 1762.--Birth of the Prince of Wales--The
Czarina--Voltaire's Historical Criticisms--Immense Value of the
Treasures brought over in the _Hermione_

68. TO CONWAY, _Sept._ 9, 1762.--Negotiations for Peace--Christening of
the Prince of Wales

69. TO MANN, _Oct._ 3, 1762.--Treasures from the Havannah--The Royal
Visit to Eton--Death of Lady Mary--Concealment of Her Works--Voltaire's
"Universal History"

70. TO THE SAME, _April_ 30, 1763.--Resignation of Lord Bute--French
Visitors--Walpole and No. 45

71. TO MONTAGU, _May_ 17, 1763.--A Party at "Straberri"--Work of his
Printing Press--Epigrams--A Garden Party at Esher

72. TO CONWAY, _May_ 21, 1763.--General Character of the
French--Festivities on the Queen's Birthday

73. TO THE EARL OF HERTFORD, _Dec._ 29, 1763.--The ordinary way of Life
in England--Wilkes--C. Townshend--Count Lally--Lord Clive--Lord
Northington--Louis Le Bien Aime--The Drama in France

74. TO MONTAGU, _Jan._11, 1764.--A New Year's Party at Lady
Suffolk's--Lady Temple, Poetess Laureate to the Muses

75. TO MANN, _Jan._ 18, 1764.--Marriage of the Prince of Brunswick: His

76. TO THE EARL OF HERTFORD, _Feb._ 6, 1764.--Gambling Quarrels--Mr.
Conway's Speech

77. TO THE SAME, _Feb._ 15, 1764.--Account of the Debate on the General

78. TO MANN, _June_ 8, 1764.--Lord Clive--Mr. Hamilton, Ambassador to
Naples--Speech of Louis XV.

79. TO THE SAME, _Aug._ 13, 1764.--The King of Poland--Catherine of

80. TO THE EARL OF HERTFORD, _Oct._ 5, 1764.--Madame De Boufflers'
Writings--King James's Journal



From an engraving after a sketch by Sir THOS. LAWRENCE, P.R.A.






From a picture in the National Portrait Gallery, by NATHANIEL HONE, R.A.


It is creditable to our English nobility, and a feature in their
character that distinguishes them from their fellows of most other
nations, that, from the first revival of learning, the study of
literature has been extensively cultivated by men of high birth, even by
many who did not require literary fame to secure them a lasting
remembrance; and they have not contented themselves with showing their
appreciation of intellectual excellence by their patronage of humbler
scholars, but have themselves afforded examples to other labourers in
the hive, taking upon themselves the toils, and earning no small nor
undeserved share of the honours of authorship. The very earliest of our
poets, Chaucer, must have been a man of gentle birth, since he was
employed on embassies of importance, and was married to the daughter of
a French knight of distinction, and sister of the Duchess of Lancaster.
The long civil wars of the fifteenth century prevented his having any
immediate followers; but the sixteenth opened more propitiously. The
conqueror of Flodden was also "Surrey of the deathless lay";[1] and from
his time to the present day there is hardly a break in the long line of
authors who have shown their feeling that noble birth and high position
are no excuses for idleness, but that the highest rank gains additional
illustration when it is shown to be united with brilliant talents
worthily exercised. The earliest of our tragic poets was Sackville Earl
of Dorset. The preux chevalier of Elizabeth's Court, the accomplished
and high-minded Sidney, took up the lyre of Surrey: Lord St. Albans,
more generally known by his family name of Bacon, "took all learning for
his province"; and, though peaceful studies were again for a while
rudely interrupted by the "dark deeds of horrid war," the restoration of
peace was, as it had been before, a signal for the resumption of their
studies by many of the best-born of the land. Another Earl of Dorset
displayed his hereditary talent not less than his martial gallantry.
Lord Roscommon well deserved the praises which Dryden and Pope, after
his death, liberally bestowed. The great Lord Chancellor Clarendon
devoted his declining years to a work of a grander class, leaving us a
History which will endure as long as the language itself; while ladies
of the very highest rank, the Duchess of Newcastle and Lady Mary Wortley
Montague, vindicated the claims of their sex to share with their
brethren the honours of poetical fame.

[Footnote 1: "Lay of the Last Minstrel," vi. 14.]

Among this noble and accomplished brotherhood the author of these
letters is by general consent allowed to be entitled to no low place.
Horace Walpole, born in the autumn of 1717, was the youngest son of that
wise minister, Sir Robert Walpole, who, though, as Burke afterwards
described him, "not a genius of the first class," yet by his adoption
of, and resolute adherence to a policy of peace throughout the greater
part of his administration, in which he was fortunately assisted by the
concurrence of Fleury of France, contributed in no slight degree to the
permanent establishment of the present dynasty on the throne. He
received his education at the greatest of English schools, Eton, to
which throughout his life he preserved a warm attachment; and where he
gave a strong indication of his preference for peaceful studies and his
judicious appreciation of intellectual ability, by selecting as his most
intimate friend Thomas Gray, hereafter to achieve a poetical immortality
by the Bard and the Elegy. From Eton they both went to Cambridge, and,
when they quitted the University, in 1738, joined in a travelling tour
through France and Italy. They continued companions for something more
than two years; but at the end of that time they separated, and in the
spring of 1741 Gray returned to England. The cause of their parting was
never distinctly avowed; Walpole took the blame, if blame there was, on
himself; but, in fact, it probably lay in an innate difference of
disposition, and consequently of object. Walpole being fond of society,
and, from his position as the Minister's son, naturally courted by many
of the chief men in the different cities which they visited; while Gray
was of a reserved character shunning the notice of strangers, and fixing
his attention on more serious subjects than Walpole found attractive.

In the autumn of the same year Walpole himself returned home. He had
become a member of Parliament at the General Election in the summer, and
took his seat just in time to bear a part in the fierce contest which
terminated in the dissolution of his father's Ministry. His maiden
speech, almost the only one he ever made, was in defence of the
character and policy of his father, who was no longer in the House of
Commons to defend himself.[1] And the result of the conflict made no
slight impression on his mind; but gave a colour to all his political

He began almost immediately to come forward as an author: not, however,

Obliged by hunger and request of friends;

for in his circumstances he was independent, and even opulent; but
seeking to avenge his father by squibs on Mr. Pulteney (now Lord Bath),
as having been the leader of the attacks on him, and on the new Ministry
which had succeeded him. In one respect that age was a happy one for
ministers and all connected with them. Pensions and preferments were
distributed with a lavish hand; and, even while he was a schoolboy, he
had received more than one "patent place," as such were called, in the
Exchequer, to which before his father's resignation others were added,
which after a time raised his income to above L5,000 a year, a fortune
which in those times was exceeded by comparatively few, even of those
regarded as wealthy. So rich, indeed, was he, that before he was thirty
he was able to buy Strawberry Hill, "a small house near Twickenham," as
he describes it at first, but which he gradually enlarged and
embellished till it grew into something of a baronial castle on a small
scale, somewhat as, under the affectionate diligence of a greater man,
Abbotsford in the present century became one of the lions of the Tweed.

[Footnote 1: The speech was made March 23, 1742; but Sir Robert had
resigned office, and been created Earl of Orford in the February

From this time forth literary composition, with the acquisition of
antiques and curiosities for the decoration of "Strawberry" occupied the
greater part of his life. He erected a printing press, publishing not
only most of his own writings, but some also of other authors, such as
poems of Gray, with whom he kept up uninterrupted intercourse. But, in
fact, his own works were sufficiently numerous to keep his printers
fully employed. He was among the most voluminous writers of a voluminous
age. In the course of the next twenty years he published seven volumes
of memoirs of the last ten years of the reign of George II. and the
first ten of George III.; five volumes of a work entitled "Royal and
Noble Authors;" several more of "Anecdotes of Painting;" "The Mysterious
Mother," a tragedy; "The Castle of Otranto," a romance; and a small
volume to which he gave the name of "Historic Doubts on Richard III." Of
all these not one is devoid of merit. He more than once explains that
the "Memoirs" have no claim to the more respectable title of "History";
and he apologises for introducing anecdotes which might be thought
inconsistent with what Macaulay brands as "a vile phrase," the dignity
of history. He excuses this, which he looked on as a new feature in
historical composition, on the ground that, if trifles, "they are
trifles relating to considerable people; such as all curious people have
ever loved to read." "Such trifles," he says, "are valued, if relating
to any reign one hundred and fifty years ago; and, if his book should
live so long, these too might become acceptable." Readers of the present
day will not think such apology was needed. The value of his "trifles"
has been proved in a much shorter time; for there is no subsequent
historian of that period who has not been indebted to him for many
particulars of which no other trustworthy record existed. Walpole had in
a great degree a historical mind; and perhaps there are few works which
show a keener critical insight into the value of old traditions than the
"Historic Doubts," directed to establish, not, indeed, Richard's
innocence of the crimes charged against him, but the fact that, with
respect to many of them, his guilt has never been proved by any evidence
which is not open to the gravest impeachment. His "Royal and Noble
Authors," and his "Anecdotes of Painting" are full of entertainment, not
unmixed with instruction. "The Mysterious Mother" was never performed on
the stage, nor is it calculated for representation; since he himself
admits that the subject is disgusting. But dramas not intended for
representation, and which therefore should perhaps be more fitly called
dramatic poems, were a species of composition to which more than one
writer of reputation had lately begun to turn their attention; though
dramas not designed for the stage seem to most readers defective in
their very conception, as lacking the stimulus which the intention of
submitting them to the extemporaneous ocular judgement of the public can
alone impart. Among such works, however, "The Mysterious Mother" is
admitted to rank high for vigorous description and poetic imagery. A
greater popularity, which even at the present day has not wholly passed
away, since it is still occasionally reprinted, was achieved by "The
Castle of Otranto," which, as he explains it in one of his letters, owed
its origin to a dream. Novels had been a branch of literature which had
slumbered for several years after the death of Defoe, but which the
genius of Fielding and Smollett had again brought into fashion. But
their tales purported to be pictures of the manners of the day. This was
rather the forerunner of Mrs. Radcliffe's[1] weird tales of supernatural
mystery, which for a time so engrossed the public attention as to lead
that "wicked wag," Mr. George Coleman, to regard them as representatives
of the class, and to describe how--

A novel now is nothing more
Than an old castle and a creaking door;
A distant hovel;
Clanking of chains, a gallery, a light,
Old armour, and a phantom all in white,
And there's a novel.

[Footnote 1: "'The Castle of Otranto' was the father of that marvellous
series which once overstocked the circulating library, and closed with
Mrs. Radcliffe."--D'Israeli, "Curiosities of Literature," ii. 115.]

He had published it anonymously as a tale that had been found in the
library of an ancient family in the North of England; but it was not
indebted solely to the mystery of its authorship for its favourable
reception--since, after he acknowledged it as his own work in a second
edition, the sale did not fall off. And it deserved success, for, though
the day had passed when even the most credulous could place any faith in
swords that required a hundred men to lift, and helmets which could only
fit the champion whose single strength could wield such a weapon, the
style was lively and attractive, and the dialogue was eminently dramatic
and sparkling.

But the interest of all these works has passed away. The "Memoirs" have
served their turn as a guide and aid to more regular historians, and the
composition which still keeps its author's fame alive is his
Correspondence with some of his numerous friends, male and female, in
England or abroad, which he maintained with an assiduity which showed
how pleasurable he found the task, while the care with which he secured
the preservation of his letters, begging his correspondents to retain
them, in case at any future time he should desire their return, proves
that he anticipated the possibility that they might hereafter be found
interesting by other readers than to those to whom they were addressed.

But he did not suffer either his writings or the enrichment of
"Strawberry" with antiquarian treasures to engross the whole of his
attention. For the first thirty years and more of his public life he was
a zealous politician. And it is no slight proof how high was the
reputation for sagacity and soundness of judgement which he enjoyed,
that in the ministerial difficulties caused by Lord Chatham's illness,
he was consulted by the leaders of more than one section of the Whig
party, by Conway, the Duke of Bedford, the Duke of Grafton, Lord
Holland, and others; that his advice more than once influenced their
determinations; and that he himself drew more than one of the letters
which passed between them. Even the King himself was not ignorant of the
weight he had in their counsels, and, on one occasion at least,
condescended to avail himself of it for a solution of some of the
embarrassments with which their negotiations were beset.

But after a time his attendance in Parliament, which had never been very
regular, grew wearisome and distasteful to him. At the General Election
of 1768 he declined to offer himself again as a candidate for Lynn,
which he had represented for several years. And henceforth his mornings
were chiefly occupied with literature; the continuation of his Memoirs;
discussion of literary subjects with Gibbon, Voltaire, Mason, and
others, while his evenings were passed in the society of his friends, a
mode of enjoying his time in which he was eminently calculated to shine,
since abundant testimony has come down to us from many competent judges
of the charm of his conversation; the liveliness of his disposition
acting as a most attractive frame to the extent and variety of his

Among his distractions were his visits to France, which for some time
were frequent. He had formed a somewhat singular intimacy with a blind
old lady, the Marquise du Deffand, a lady whose character in her youth
had been something less than doubtful, since she had been one of the
Regent Duc d'Orleans's numerous mistresses; but who had retained in her
old age much of the worldly acuteness and lively wit with which she had
borne her part in that clever, shameless society. Her _salon_ was now
the resort of many personages of the highest distinction, even of ladies
themselves of the most unstained reputation, such as the Duchesse de
Choiseul; and the rumours or opinions which he heard in their company
enabled him to enrich his letters to his friends at home with comments
on the conduct of the French Parliament, of Maupeon, Maurepas, Turgot,
and the King himself, which, in many instances, attest the shrewdness
with which he estimated the real bearing of the events which were taking
place, and anticipated the possible character of some of those which
were not unlikely to ensue.

Thus, with a mind which, to the end, was so active and so happily
constituted as to be able to take an interest in everything around him,
and, even when more than seventy years old, to make new friends to
replace those who had dropped off, he passed a long, a happy, and far
from an useless life. When he was seventy-four he succeeded to his
father's peerage, on the death of his elder brother; but he did not long
enjoy the title, by which, indeed, he was not very careful to be
distinguished, and in the spring of 1797 he died, within a few months
of his eightieth birthday.

A great writer of the last generation, whose studies were of a severer
cast, and who, conscious perhaps of his own unfitness to shine at the
tea-table of fashionable ladies, was led by that feeling to undervalue
the lighter social gifts which formed conspicuous ingredients in
Walpole's character, has denounced him not only as frivolous in his
tastes, but scarcely above mediocrity in his abilities (a sentence to
which Scott's description of him as "a man of great genius" may be
successfully opposed); and is especially severe on what he terms his
affectation in disclaiming the compliments bestowed on his learning by
some of his friends. The expressed estimate of his acquirements and
works which so offended Lord Macaulay was that "there is nobody so
superficial, that, except a little history, a little poetry, a little
painting, and some divinity, he knew nothing; he had always lived in the
busy world; had always loved pleasure; played loo till two or three in
the morning; haunted auctions--in short, did not know so much astronomy
as would carry him to Knightsbridge; not more physic than a physician;
nor, in short, anything that is called science. If it were not that he
laid up a little provision in summer, like the ant, he should be as
ignorant as the people he lived with."[1] In Lord Macaulay's view,
Walpole was never less sincere than when pronouncing such a judgement on
his works. He sees in it nothing but an affectation, fishing for
further praises; and, fastening on his account of his ordinary
occupations, he pronounces that a man of fifty should be ashamed of
playing loo till after midnight.

[Footnote 1: Letter to Mann, Feb. 6, 1760.]

In spite, however, of Lord Macaulay's reproof, something may be said in
favour of a man who, after giving his mornings to works which display no
little industry as well as talent, unbent his bow in the evening at
lively supper-parties, or even at the card-table with fair friends,
where the play never degenerated into gambling. And his disparagement of
his learning, which Lord Macaulay ridicules as affectation, a more
candid judgement may fairly ascribe to sincere modesty. For it is plain
from many other passages in his letters, that he really did undervalue
his own writings; and that the feeling which he thus expressed was
genuine is to a great extent proved by the patience, if not
thankfulness, with which he allowed his friend Mann to alter passages in
"The Mysterious Mother," and confessed the alterations to be
improvements. It may be added that Lord Macaulay's disparagement of his
judgement and his taste is not altogether consistent with his admission
that Walpole's writings possessed an "irresistible charm" that "no man
who has written so much is so seldom tiresome;" that, even in "The
Castle of Otranto," which he ridicules, "the story never flags for a
moment," and, what is more to our present purpose, he adds that "his
letters are with reason considered his best performance;" and that those
to his friend at Florence, Sir H. Mann, "contain much information
concerning the history of that time: the portion of English History of
which common readers know the least."

Of these letters it remains for us now to speak. The value of such _pour
servir_, to borrow a French expression, that is to say, to serve as
materials to supply the historian of a nation or an age with an
acquaintance with events, or persons, or manners, which would be sought
for in vain among Parliamentary records, or ministerial despatches, has
long been recognised.[1] Two thousand years ago, those of the greatest
of Roman orators and statesmen were carefully preserved; and modern
editors do not fear to claim for them a place "among the most valuable
of all the remains of Roman literature; the specimens which they give of
familiar intercourse, and of the public and private manners of society,
drawing up for us the curtain from scenes of immense historical
interest, and laying open the secret workings, the complications, and
schemes of a great revolution period."[2] Such a description is
singularly applicable to the letters of Walpole; and the care which he
took for their preservation shows that he was not without a hope that
they also would be regarded as interesting and valuable by future
generations. He praises one of his correspondents for his diligence in
collecting and publishing a volume of letters belonging to the reigns of
James I. and Charles I., on the express ground that "nothing gives so
just an idea of an age as genuine letters; nay, history waits for its
last seal from them." And it is not too much to say that they are
superior to journals and diaries as a mine to be worked by the judicious
historian; while to the general public they will always be more
attractive, from the scope they afford to elegance of style, at which
the diary-keeper does not aim; and likewise from their frequently
recording curious incidents, fashions, good sayings, and other things
which, from their apparently trifling character, the grave diarist would
not think worth preserving.

[Footnote 1: D'Israeli has remarked that "the _gossiping_ of a profound
politician, or a vivacious observer, in one of their letters, often by a
spontaneous stroke reveals the individual, or by a simple incident
unriddles a mysterious event;" and proceeds to quote Bolingbroke's
estimate of the importance, from this point of view, of "that valuable
collection of Cardinal d'Ossat's Memoirs" ("Curiosities of Literature,"
iii. p. 381).]

[Footnote 2: The Rev. J.E. Yonge, Preface to an edition of "Cicero's

He, however, was not the first among the moderns to achieve a reputation
by his correspondence. In the generation before his birth, a French
lady, Madame de Sevigne, had, with an affectionate industry, found her
chief occupation and pleasure in keeping her daughters in the provinces
fully acquainted with every event which interested or entertained Louis
XIV. and his obsequious Court; and in the first years of the eighteenth
century a noble English lady, whom we have already mentioned, did in
like manner devote no small portion of her time to recording, for the
amusement and information of her daughter, her sister, and her other
friends at home, the various scenes and occurrences that came under her
own notice in the foreign countries in which for many years her lot was
cast, as the wife of an ambassador. In liveliness of style, Lady Mary
Montague is little if at all inferior to her French prototype; while,
since she was endowed with far more brilliant talents, and, from her
foreign travels, had a wider range of observation, her letters have a
far greater interest than could attach to those of a writer, however
accomplished and sagacious, whose world was Paris, with bounds scarcely
extending beyond Versailles on one side, and Compiegne on the other. To
these fair and lively ladies Walpole was now to succeed as a third
candidate for epistolary fame; though, with his habit of underrating his
own talents, he never aspired to equal the gay Frenchwoman; (the English
lady's correspondence was as yet unknown). There is evident sincerity in
his reproof of one of his correspondents who had expressed a most
flattering opinion: "You say such extravagant things of my letters,
which are nothing but gossiping gazettes, that I cannot bear it; you
have undone yourself with me, for you compare them to Madame de
Sevigne's. Absolute treason! Do you know there is scarcely a book in the
world I love so much as her letters?"

Yet critics who should place him on an equality with her would not be
without plausible grounds for their judgement. Many circumstances
contributed to qualify him in a very special degree for the task which,
looking at his letters in that light, he may be said to have undertaken.
His birth, as the son of a great minister; his comparative opulence;
even the indolent insignificance of his elder brothers, which caused him
to be looked upon as his father's representative, and as such to be
consulted by those who considered themselves as the heirs of his policy,
while the leader of that party in the House of Commons, General Conway,
was his cousin, and the man for whom he ever felt the strongest personal
attachment,--were all advantages which fell to the lot of but few. And
to these may be added the variety of his tastes, as attested by the
variety of his published works. He was a man who observed everything,
who took an interest in everything. His correspondents, too, were so
various and different as to ensure a variety in his letters. Some were
politicians, ministers at home, or envoys abroad; some were female
leaders of fashion, planning balls and masquerades, summoning him to
join an expedition to Ranelagh or Vauxhall; others were scholars, poets,
or critics, inviting comments on Gray's poems, on Robertson's style, on
Gibbon's boundless learning; or on the impostures of Macpherson and
Chatterton; others, again, were antiquarians, to whom the helmet of
Francis, or a pouncet-box of the fair Diana, were objects of far greater
interest than the intrigues of a Secretary of State, or the expedients
of a Chancellor of the Exchequer; and all such subjects are discussed by
him with evidently equal willingness, equal clearness, and liveliness.

It would not be fair to regard as a deduction from the value of those
letters which bear on the politics of the day the necessity of
confessing that they are not devoid of partiality--that they are
coloured with his own views, both of measures and persons. Not only were
political prejudices forced upon him by the peculiarities of his
position, but it may be doubted whether any one ever has written, or can
write, of transactions of national importance which are passing under
his own eyes, as it were, with absolute impartiality. It may even be a
question whether, if any one did so, it would not detract from his own
character, at least as much as it might add to the value of his
writings. In one of his letters, Byron enumerates among the merits of
Mitford's "History of Greece," "wrath and partiality," explaining that
such ingredients make a man write "in earnest." And, in Walpole's case,
the dislike which he naturally felt towards those who had overthrown his
father's administration by what, at a later day, they themselves
admitted to have been a factious and blamable opposition, was sharpened
by his friendship for his cousin Conway. At the same time we may remark
in passing that his opinions and prejudices were not so invincible as to
blind him to real genius and eminent public services; and the admirers
of Lord Chatham may fairly draw an argument in favour of his policy from
Walpole's admission of its value in raising the spirit of the people; an
admission which, it may be supposed, it must have gone against his grain
to make in favour of a follower of Pulteney.

But from his letters on other topics, on literature and art, no such
deduction has to be made. His judgement was generally sound and
discriminating. He could appreciate the vast learning and stately
grandiloquence of Gibbon, and the widely different style of Robertson.
Nor is it greatly to his discredit that his disgust at what he considers
Hume's needless parade of scepticism and infidelity, which did honour
to his heart, blinded him in a great degree to the historian's
unsurpassed acuteness and insight, and (to borrow the eulogy of Gibbon)
"the careless inimitable felicities" of his narrative. He was among the
first to recognize the peculiar genius of Crabbe, and to detect the
impostures of Macpherson and Chatterton, while doing full justice to
"the astonishing prematurity" of the latter's genius. And in matters of
art, so independent as well as correct was his taste, that he not only,
in one instance, ventured to differ from Reynolds, but also proved to be
right in his opinion that a work extolled by Sir Joshua, was but a copy,
and a poor one.

On his qualifications to be a painter of the way of life, habits, and
manners (_quorum pars magna fuit_) of the higher classes in his day, it
would be superfluous to dwell. Scott, who was by no means a warm admirer
of his character, does not hesitate to pronounce him "certainly the best
letter-writer in the English language;" and the great poet who, next to
Scott, holds the highest place in the literary history of the last two
centuries, adds his testimony not only to the excellence of his letters,
but also to his general ability as that of a high order. "It is the
fashion to underrate Horace Walpole, firstly, because he was a nobleman,
and, secondly, because he was a gentleman; but, to say nothing of the
composition of his incomparable letters and of 'The Castle of Otranto,'
he is the 'Ultimus Romanorum,' the author of 'The Mysterious Mother,' a
tragedy of the highest order, and not a puling love-play. He is the
father of the first romance, and the last tragedy in our language; and
surely worthy of a higher place than any living writer, be he who he

[Footnote 1: Byron, Preface to "Marino Faliere." But in the last
sentence the poet certainly exaggerated his admiration for Walpole;
since it is sufficiently notorious from his own letters, and from more
than one passage in his works, as where he ranks Scott as second to
Shakespeare alone, that he deservedly admired him more than all their
contemporaries put together.]

And it seems not unnatural to entertain a hope that a selection from a
correspondence which extorted such an eulogy from men whose own letters
form no small part of the attraction of Lockhart's and Moore's
biographies, will be acceptable to many who, while lacking courage, or
perhaps leisure, to grapple with publications in many volumes, may
welcome the opportunity thus here afforded them of forming an
acquaintance, however partial, with works which, in their entire body,
are deservedly reckoned among the masterpieces of our literature.[1]

[Footnote 1: It may be proper to point out that, in some few instances,
a letter is not given in its entirety; but, as in familiar
correspondence, it must constantly happen that, while the incidents
mentioned in one portion of a letter are full of interest, of
others--such as marriages, deaths, &c.--the importance is of the most
temporary and transitory character. It may be hoped that the liberty
taken of leaving out such portions will be regarded as, if not
commendable, at the least excusable.]





[Footnote 1: This letter, written before he was nineteen, is worth
noticing as a proof how innate was his liveliness of style, since in
that respect few of the productions of his maturer age surpasses it. It
also shows how strong already was his expectations that his letters
would hereafter be regarded as interesting and valuable.]


[Footnote 1: George Montagu, Esq., of Roel, in the county of Gloucester,
son of Brigadier-General Edward Montagu, and long M.P. for Northampton.
He was the grandnephew of the first Earl of Halifax of the Montagu
family, the statesman and poet, and was the contemporary at Eton of
Walpole and Gray. When his cousin, the Earl of Halifax, was
Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, he was his secretary; and when Lord North
was Chancellor of the Exchequer, he occupied the same position with him.
He died May 10, 1780, leaving the bulk of his fortune to Lord North.
Walpole's letters to him, 272 in number, and dating between 1736 and
1770, were first published in 1818, "from the Originals in the
possession of the Editor." There was a coolness between Walpole and
Montagu several years before the latter's death, the correspondence
dropping very abruptly. The cause is explained by Walpole in a letter to
Cole, dated May 11, 1780. Mr. Montagu's brother, Edward, was killed at
Fontenoy. His sister, Arabella, was married to a Mr. Wetenhall--a
relation of the Wetenhall mentioned in De Grammont. "Of Mr. Montagu, it
is only remembered that he was a gentleman-like body of the _vieille
cour_, and that he was usually attended by his brother John (the Little
John of Walpole's correspondence), who was a midshipman at the age of
sixty, and found his chief occupation in carrying about his brother's
snuff-box" (_Quarterly Rev._ for _April_, 1818, p. 131).]

KING'S COLLEGE, _May_ 2, 1736.

Dear Sir,--Unless I were to be married myself, I should despair ever
being able to describe a wedding so well as you have done: had I known
your talent before, I would have desired an epithalamium. I believe the
Princess[1] will have more beauties bestowed on her by the occasional
poets, than even a painter would afford her. They will cook up a new
Pandora, and in the bottom of the box enclose Hope, that all they have
said is true. A great many, out of excess of good breeding, having heard
it was rude to talk Latin before women, propose complimenting her in
English; which she will be much the better for. I doubt most of them,
instead of fearing their compositions should not be understood, should
fear they should: they write they don't know what, to be read by they
don't know who. You have made me a very unreasonable request, which I
will answer with another as extraordinary: you desire I would burn your
letters: I desire you would keep mine. I know but of one way of making
what I send you useful, which is, by sending you a blank sheet: sure
you would not grudge threepence for a halfpenny sheet, when you give as
much for one not worth a farthing. You drew this last paragraph on you
by your exordium, as you call it, and conclusion. I hope, for the
future, our correspondence will run a little more glibly, with dear
George, and dear Harry [Conway]; not as formally as if we were playing a
game at chess in Spain and Portugal; and Don Horatio was to have the
honour of specifying to Don Georgio, by an epistle, whither he would
move. In one point I would have our correspondence like a game at chess;
it should last all our lives--but I hear you cry check; adieu!

Dear George, yours ever.

[Footnote 1: Augusta, younger daughter of Frederic II., Duke of
Saxe-Gotha, married (27th April, 1736) to Frederick, Prince of Wales,
father of George III.

In 1736, I wrote a copy of Latin verses, published in the "Gratulatio
Acad. Cantab.," on the marriage of Frederick, Prince of
Wales.--_Walpole_ (_Short Notes_).]



KING'S COLLEGE, _May_ 6, 1736.

Dear George,--I agree with you entirely in the pleasure you take in
talking over old stories, but can't say but I meet every day with new
circumstances, which will be still more pleasure to me to recollect. I
think at our age 'tis excess of joy, to think, while we are running over
past happinesses, that it is still in our power to enjoy as great.
Narrations of the greatest actions of other people are tedious in
comparison of the serious trifles that every man can call to mind of
himself while he was learning those histories. Youthful passages of life
are the chippings of Pitt's diamond, set into little heart-rings with
mottoes; the stone itself more worth, the filings more gentle and
agreeable.--Alexander, at the head of the world, never tasted the true
pleasure that boys of his own age have enjoyed at the head of a school.
Little intrigues, little schemes, and policies engage their thoughts;
and, at the same time that they are laying the foundation for their
middle age of life, the mimic republic they live in furnishes materials
of conversation for their latter age; and old men cannot be said to be
children a second time with greater truth from any one cause, than their
living over again their childhood in imagination. To reflect on the
season when first they felt the titillation of love, the budding
passions, and the first dear object of their wishes! how unexperienced
they gave credit to all the tales of romantic loves! Dear George, were
not the playing fields at Eton food for all manner of flights? No old
maid's gown, though it had been tormented into all the fashions from
King James to King George, ever underwent so many transformations as
those poor plains have in my idea. At first I was contented with tending
a visionary flock, and sighing some pastoral name to the echo of the
cascade under the bridge. How happy should I have been to have had a
kingdom only for the pleasure of being driven from it, and living
disguised in an humble vale! As I got further into Virgil and Clelia, I
found myself transported from Arcadia to the garden of Italy; and saw
Windsor Castle in no other view than the _Capitoli immobile saxum_. I
wish a committee of the House of Commons may ever seem to be the senate;
or a bill appear half so agreeable as a billet-doux. You see how deep
you have carried me into old stories; I write of them with pleasure, but
shall talk of them with more to you. I can't say I am sorry I was never
quite a schoolboy: an expedition against bargemen, or a match at
cricket, may be very pretty things to recollect; but, thank my stars, I
can remember things that are very near as pretty. The beginning of my
Roman history was spent in the asylum, or conversing in Egeria's
hallowed grove; not in thumping and pummelling king Amulius's herdsmen.
I was sometimes troubled with a rough creature or two from the plough;
one, that one should have thought, had worked with his head, as well as
his hands, they were both so callous. One of the most agreeable
circumstances I can recollect is the Triumvirate, composed of yourself,
Charles, and

Your sincere friend.



KING'S COLLEGE, _March_ 20, 1737.

Dear George,--The first paragraph in my letter must be in answer to the
last in yours; though I should be glad to make you the return you ask,
by waiting on you myself. 'Tis not in my power, from more circumstances
than one, which are needless to tell you, to accompany you and Lord
Conway to Italy: you add to the pleasure it would give me, by asking it
so kindly. You I am infinitely obliged to, as I was capable, my dear
George, of making you forget for a minute that you don't propose
stirring from the dear place you are now in. Poppies indeed are the
chief flowers in love nosegays, but they seldom bend towards the lady;
at least not till the other flowers have been gathered. Prince
Volscius's boots were made of love-leather, and honour leather; instead
of honour, some people's are made of friendship: but since you have been
so good to me as to draw on this, I can almost believe you are equipped
for travelling farther than Rheims. 'Tis no little inducement to make me
wish myself in France, that I hear gallantry is not left off there; that
you may be polite, and not be thought awkward for it. You know the
pretty men of the age in England use the women with no more deference
than they do their coach-horses, and have not half the regard for them
that they have for themselves. The little freedoms you tell me you use
take off from formality, by avoiding which ridiculous extreme we are
dwindled into the other barbarous one, rusticity. If you had been at
Paris, I should have inquired about the new Spanish ambassadress, who,
by the accounts we have thence, at her first audience of the queen, sat
down with her at a distance that suited respect and conversation.

Adieu, dear George,

Yours most heartily.



PARIS, _April_ 21, N.S. 1739.[1]

[Footnote 1: He is here dating according to the French custom. In
England the calendar was not rectified by the disuse of the "Old Style"
till 1752.]

Dear West,--You figure us in a set of pleasures, which, believe me, we
do not find; cards and eating are so universal, that they absorb all
variation of pleasures. The operas, indeed, are much frequented three
times a week; but to me they would be a greater penance than eating
maigre: their music resembles a gooseberry tart as much as it does
harmony. We have not yet been at the Italian playhouse; scarce any one
goes there. Their best amusement, and which, in some parts, beats ours,
is the comedy; three or four of the actors excel any we have: but then
to this nobody goes, if it is not one of the fashionable nights; and
then they go, be the play good or bad--except on Moliere's nights, whose
pieces they are quite weary of. Gray and I have been at the Avare
to-night: I cannot at all commend their performance of it. Last night I
was in the Place de Louis le Grand (a regular octagon, uniform, and the
houses handsome, though not so large as Golden Square), to see what they
reckoned one of the finest burials that ever was in France. It was the
Duke de Tresmes, governor of Paris and marshal of France. It began on
foot from his palace to his parish-church, and from thence in coaches to
the opposite end of Paris, to be interred in the church of the
Celestins, where is his family-vault. About a week ago we happened to
see the grave digging, as we went to see the church, which is old and
small, but fuller of fine ancient monuments than any, except St. Denis,
which we saw on the road, and excels Westminster; for the windows are
all painted in mosaic, and the tombs as fresh and well preserved as if
they were of yesterday. In the Celestins' church is a votive column to
Francis II., which says, that it is one assurance of his being
immortalized, to have had the martyr Mary Stuart for his wife. After
this long digression, I return to the burial, which was a most vile
thing. A long procession of flambeaux and friars; no plumes, trophies,
banners, led horses, scutcheons, or open chariots; nothing but

White, black, and grey, with all their trumpery.

This godly ceremony began at nine at night, and did not finish till
three this morning; for, each church they passed, they stopped for a
hymn and holy water. By the bye, some of these choice monks, who watched
the body while it lay in state, fell asleep one night, and let the
tapers catch fire of the rich velvet mantle lined with ermine and
powdered with gold flower-de-luces, which melted the lead coffin, and
burnt off the feet of the deceased before it wakened them. The French
love show; but there is a meanness reigns through it all. At the house
where I stood to see this procession, the room was hung with crimson
damask and gold, and the windows were mended in ten or a dozen places
with paper. At dinner they give you three courses; but a third of the
dishes is patched up with salads, butter, puff-paste, or some such
miscarriage of a dish. None, but Germans, wear fine clothes; but their
coaches are tawdry enough for the wedding of Cupid and Psyche. You would
laugh extremely at their signs: some live at the Y grec, some at Venus's
toilette, and some at the sucking cat. You would not easily guess their
notions of honour: I'll tell you one: it is very dishonourable for any
gentleman not to be in the army, or in the king's service as they call
it, and it is no dishonour to keep public gaming-houses: there are at
least a hundred and fifty people of the first quality in Paris who live
by it. You may go into their houses at all hours of the night, and find
hazard, pharaoh, &c. The men who keep the hazard-table at the Duke de
Gesvres' pay him twelve guineas each night for the privilege. Even the
princesses of the blood are dirty enough to have shares in the banks
kept at their houses. We have seen two or three of them; but they are
not young, nor remarkable but for wearing their red of a deeper dye than
other women, though all use it extravagantly.

The weather is still so bad, that we have not made any excursions to see
Versailles and the environs, not even walked in the Tuileries; but we
have seen almost everything else that is worth seeing in Paris, though
that is very considerable. They beat us vastly in buildings, both in
number and magnificence. The tombs of Richelieu and Mazarin at the
Sorbonne and the College de Quatre Nations are wonderfully fine,
especially the former. We have seen very little of the people
themselves, who are not inclined to be propitious to strangers,
especially if they do not play and speak the language readily. There are
many English here: Lord Holdernesse, Conway and Clinton, and Lord George
Bentinck; Mr. Brand, Offley, Frederic, Frampton, Bonfoy, &c. Sir John
Cotton's son and a Mr. Vernon of Cambridge passed through Paris last
week. We shall stay here about a fortnight longer, and then go to Rheims
with Mr. Conway for two or three months. When you have nothing else to
do, we shall be glad to hear from you; and any news. If we did not
remember there was such a place as England, we should know nothing of
it: the French never mention it, unless it happens to be in one of their
proverbs. Adieu!

Yours ever.

To-morrow we go to the Cid. They have no farces, but _petites pieces_
like our 'Devil to Pay.'




Dear West,--I should think myself to blame not to try to divert you,
when you tell me I can. From the air of your letter you seem to want
amusement, that is, you want spirits. I would recommend to you certain
little employments that I know of, and that belong to you, but that I
imagine bodily exercise is more suitable to your complaint. If you would
promise me to read them in the Temple garden, I would send you a little
packet of plays and pamphlets that we have made up, and intend to
dispatch to "Dick's"[1] the first opportunity.--Stand by, clear the way,
make room for the pompous appearance of Versailles le Grand!----But no:
it fell so short of my idea of it, mine, that I have resigned to Gray
the office of writing its panegyric. He likes it. They say I am to like
it better next Sunday; when the sun is to shine, the king is to be fine,
the water-works are to play, and the new knights of the Holy Ghost are
to be installed! Ever since Wednesday, the day we were there, we have
done nothing but dispute about it. They say, we did not see it to
advantage, that we ran through the apartments, saw the garden _en
passant_, and slubbered over Trianon. I say, we saw nothing. However, we
had time to see that the great front is a lumber of littleness, composed
of black brick, stuck full of bad old busts, and fringed with gold
rails. The rooms are all small, except the great gallery, which is
noble, but totally wainscoted with looking-glass. The garden is littered
with statues and fountains, each of which has its tutelary deity. In
particular, the elementary god of fire solaces himself in one. In
another, Enceladus, in lieu of a mountain, is overwhelmed with many
waters. There are avenues of water-pots, who disport themselves much in
squirting up cascadelins. In short, 'tis a garden for a great child.
Such was Louis Quatorze, who is here seen in his proper colours, where
he commanded in person, unassisted by his armies and generals, and left
to the pursuit of his own puerile ideas of glory.

[Footnote 1: A celebrated coffee-house, near the Temple Gate in Fleet
Street, where quarto poems and pamphlets were taken in.]

We saw last week a place of another kind, and which has more the air of
what it would be, than anything I have yet met with: it was the convent
of the Chartreux. All the conveniences, or rather (if there was such a
word) all the _adaptments_ are assembled here, that melancholy,
meditation, selfish devotion, and despair would require. But yet 'tis
pleasing. Soften the terms, and mellow the uncouth horror that reigns
here, but a little, and 'tis a charming solitude. It stands on a large
space of ground, is old and irregular. The chapel is gloomy: behind it,
through some dark passages, you pass into a large obscure hall, which
looks like a combination-chamber for some hellish council. The large
cloister surrounds their burying-ground. The cloisters are very narrow
and very long, and let into the cells, which are built like little huts
detached from each other. We were carried into one, where lived a
middle-aged man not long initiated into the order. He was extremely
civil, and called himself Dom Victor. We have promised to visit him
often. Their habit is all white: but besides this he was infinitely
clean in his person; and his apartment and garden, which he keeps and
cultivates without any assistance, was neat to a degree. He has four
little rooms, furnished in the prettiest manner, and hung with good
prints. One of them is a library, and another a gallery. He has several
canary-birds disposed in a pretty manner in breeding-cages. In his
garden was a bed of good tulips in bloom, flowers and fruit-trees, and
all neatly kept. They are permitted at certain hours to talk to
strangers, but never to one another, or to go out of their convent. But
what we chiefly went to see was the small cloister, with the history of
St. Bruno, their founder, painted by Le Soeur. It consists of twenty-two
pictures, the figures a good deal less than life. But sure they are
amazing! I don't know what Raphael may be in Rome, but these pictures
excel all I have seen in Paris and England. The figure of the dead man
who spoke at his burial, contains all the strongest and horridest ideas,
of ghastliness, hypocrisy discovered, and the height of damnation, pain
and cursing. A Benedictine monk, who was there at the same time, said to
me of this picture: _C'est une fable, mais on la croyoit autrefois._
Another, who showed me relics in one of their churches, expressed as
much ridicule for them. The pictures I have been speaking of are ill
preserved, and some of the finest heads defaced, which was done at first
by a rival of Le Soeur's. Adieu! dear West, take care of your health;
and some time or other we will talk over all these things with more
pleasure than I have had in seeing them.

Yours ever.



FLORENCE, _February_ 27, 1740, N.S.

Well, West, I have found a little unmasqued moment to write to you; but
for this week past I have been so muffled up in my domino, that I have
not had the command of my elbows. But what have you been doing all the
mornings? Could you not write then?--No, then I was masqued too; I have
done nothing but slip out of my domino into bed, and out of bed into my
domino. The end of the Carnival is frantic, bacchanalian; all the morn
one makes parties in masque to the shops and coffee-houses, and all the
evening to the operas and balls. _Then I have danced, good gods! how
have I danced!_ The Italians are fond to a degree of our country dances:
_Cold and raw_ they only know by the tune; _Blowzybella_ is almost
Italian, and _Buttered peas_ is _Pizelli al buro_. There are but three
days more; but the two last are to have balls all the morning at the
fine unfinished palace of the Strozzi; and the Tuesday night a
masquerade after supper: they sup first, to eat _gras_, and not encroach
upon Ash-Wednesday. What makes masquerading more agreeable here than in
England, is the great deference that is showed to the disguised. Here
they do not catch at those little dirty opportunities of saying any
ill-natured thing they know of you, do not abuse you because they may,
or talk gross bawdy to a woman of quality. I found the other day, by a
play of Etheridge's, that we have had a sort of Carnival even since the
Reformation; 'tis in _She would if She could_, they talk of going
a-mumming in Shrove-tide.--

After talking so much of diversions, I fear you will attribute to them
the fondness I own I contract for Florence; but it has so many other
charms, that I shall not want excuses for my taste. The freedom of the
Carnival has given me opportunities to make several acquaintances; and
if I have not found them refined, learned, polished, like some other
cities, yet they are civil, good-natured, and fond of the English. Their
little partiality for themselves, opposed to the violent vanity of the
French, makes them very amiable in my eyes. I can give you a comical
instance of their great prejudice about nobility; it happened yesterday.
While we were at dinner at Mr. Mann's, word was brought by his
secretary, that a cavalier demanded audience of him upon an affair of
honour. Gray and I flew behind the curtain of the door. An elderly
gentleman, whose attire was not certainly correspondent to the greatness
of his birth, entered, and informed the British minister, that one
Martin, an English painter, had left a challenge for him at his house,
for having said Martin was no gentleman. He would by no means have spoke
of the duel before the transaction of it, but that his honour, his
blood, his &c. would never permit him to fight with one who was no
cavalier; which was what he came to inquire of his excellency. We
laughed loud laughs, but unheard: his fright or his nobility had closed
his ears. But mark the sequel: the instant he was gone, my very English
curiosity hurried me out of the gate St. Gallo; 'twas the place and hour
appointed. We had not been driving about above ten minutes, but out
popped a little figure, pale but cross, with beard unshaved and hair
uncombed, a slouched hat, and a considerable red cloak, in which was
wrapped, under his arm, the fatal sword that was to revenge the highly
injured Mr. Martin, painter and defendant. I darted my head out of the
coach, just ready to say, "Your servant, Mr. Martin," and talk about the
architecture of the triumphal arch that was building there; but he would
not know me, and walked off. We left him to wait for an hour, to grow
very cold and very valiant the more it grew past the hour of
appointment. We were figuring all the poor creature's huddle of
thoughts, and confused hopes of victory or fame, of his unfinished
pictures, or his situation upon bouncing into the next world. You will
think us strange creatures; but 'twas a pleasant sight, as we knew the
poor painter was safe. I have thought of it since, and am inclined to
believe that nothing but two English could have been capable of such a
jaunt. I remember, 'twas reported in London, that the plague was at a
house in the city, and all the town went to see it.

I have this instant received your letter. Lord! I am glad I thought of
those parallel passages, since it made you translate them. 'Tis
excessively near the original; and yet, I don't know, 'tis very easy
too.--It snows here a little to-night, but it never lies but on the
mountains. Adieu!

Yours ever.

P.S.--What is the history of the theatres this winter?



NAPLES, _June_ 14, 1740, N.S.

Dear West,--One hates writing descriptions that are to be found in every
book of travels; but we have seen something to-day that I am sure you
never read of, and perhaps never heard of. Have you ever heard of a
subterraneous town? a whole Roman town, with all its edifices, remaining
under ground? Don't fancy the inhabitants buried it there to save it
from the Goths: they were buried with it themselves; which is a caution
we are not told that they ever took. You remember in Titus's time there
were several cities destroyed by an eruption of Vesuvius, attended with
an earthquake. Well, this was one of them, not very considerable, and
then called Herculaneum. Above it has since been built Portici, about
three miles from Naples, where the King has a villa. This underground
city is perhaps one of the noblest curiosities that ever has been
discovered. It was found out by chance, about a year and half ago. They
began digging, they found statues; they dug further, they found more.
Since that they have made a very considerable progress, and find
continually. You may walk the compass of a mile; but by the misfortune
of the modern town being overhead, they are obliged to proceed with
great caution, lest they destroy both one and t'other. By this occasion
the path is very narrow, just wide enough and high enough for one man to
walk upright. They have hollowed, as they found it easiest to work, and
have carried their streets not exactly where were the ancient ones, but
sometimes before houses, sometimes through them. You would imagine that
all the fabrics were crushed together; on the contrary, except some
columns, they have found all the edifices standing upright in their
proper situation. There is one inside of a temple quite perfect, with
the middle arch, two columns, and two pilasters. It is built of brick
plastered over, and painted with architecture: almost all the insides of
the houses are in the same manner; and, what is very particular, the
general ground of all the painting is red. Besides this temple, they
make out very plainly an amphitheatre: the stairs, of white marble, and
the seats are very perfect; the inside was painted in the same colour
with the private houses, and great part cased with white marble. They
have found among other things some fine statues, some human bones, some
rice, medals, and a few paintings extremely fine. These latter are
preferred to all the ancient paintings that have ever been discovered.
We have not seen them yet, as they are kept in the King's apartment,
whither all these curiosities are transplanted; and 'tis difficult to
see them--but we shall. I forgot to tell you, that in several places the
beams of the houses remain, but burnt to charcoal; so little damaged
that they retain visibly the grain of the wood, but upon touching
crumble to ashes. What is remarkable, there are no other marks or
appearance of fire, but what are visible on these beams.

There might certainly be collected great light from this reservoir of
antiquities, if a man of learning had the inspection of it; if he
directed the working, and would make a journal of the discoveries. But I
believe there is no judicious choice made of directors. There is nothing
of the kind known in the world; I mean a Roman city entire of that age,
and that has not been corrupted with modern repairs. Besides
scrutinising this very carefully, I should be inclined to search for
the remains of the other towns that were partners with this in the
general ruin.[1] 'Tis certainly an advantage to the learned world, that
this has been laid up so long. Most of the discoveries in Rome were made
in a barbarous age, where they only ransacked the ruins in quest of
treasure, and had no regard to the form and being of the building; or to
any circumstances that might give light into its use and history. I
shall finish this long account with a passage which Gray has observed in
Statius, and which directly pictures out this latent city:--

Haec ego Chalcidicis ad te, Marcelle, sonabam
Littoribus, fractas ubi Vestius egerit iras,
Aemula Trinacriis volvens incendia flammis.
Mira fides! credetne virum ventura propago,
Cum segetes iterum, cum jam haec deserta virebunt,
Infra urbes populosque premi?

SYLV. lib. iv. epist. 4.

Adieu, my dear West! and believe me yours ever.

[Footnote 1: It was known from the account of Pliny that other towns had
been destroyed by the same eruption as Herculaneum, and eight years
after the date of this letter some fresh excavations led to the
discovery of Pompeii. Matthews, in his "Diary of an Invalid," describes
both, and his account explains why Pompeii, though the smaller town,
presents more attractions to the scholar or the antiquarian. "On our way
home we explored Herculaneum, which scarcely repays the labour. This
town is filled up with lava, and with a cement caused by the large
mixture of water with the shower of earth and ashes which destroyed it;
and it is choked up as completely as if molten lead had been poured into
it. Besides, it is forty feet below the surface, and another town is now
built over it.... Pompeii, on the contrary, was destroyed by a shower of
cinders in which there was a much less quantity of water. It lay for
centuries only twelve feet below the surface, and, these cinders being
easily removed, the town has been again restored to the light of day"
(vol. i. p. 254).]




_July_ 5, 1740, N.S.

You will wonder, my dear Hal, to find me on the road from Rome: why,
intend I did to stay for a new popedom, but the old eminences are cross
and obstinate, and will not choose one, the Holy Ghost does not know
when. There is a horrid thing called the malaria, that comes to Rome
every summer, and kills one, and I did not care for being killed so far
from Christian burial. We have been jolted to death; my servants let us
come without springs to the chaise, and we are wore threadbare: to add
to our disasters, I have sprained my ancle, and have brought it along,
laid upon a little box of baubles that I have bought for presents in
England. Perhaps I may pick you out some little trifle there, but don't
depend upon it; you are a disagreeable creature, and may be I shall not
care for you. Though I am so tired in this devil of a place, yet I have
taken it into my head, that it is like Hamilton's Bawn,[1] and I must
write to you. 'Tis the top of a black barren mountain, a vile little
town at the foot of an old citadel: yet this, know you, was the
residence of one of the three kings that went to Christ's birthday; his
name was Alabaster, Abarasser, or some such thing; the other two were
kings, one of the East, the other of Cologn. 'Tis this of Cofano, who
was represented in an ancient painting, found in the Palatine Mount, now
in the possession of Dr. Mead; he was crowned by Augustus. Well, but
about writing--what do you think I write with? Nay, with a pen; there
was never a one to be found in the whole circumference _but one_, and
that was in the possession of the governor, and had been used time out
of mind to write the parole with: I was forced to send to borrow it. It
was sent me under the conduct of a serjeant and two Swiss, with desire
to return it when I should have done with it. 'Tis a curiosity, and
worthy to be laid up with the relics which we have just been seeing in a
small hovel of Capucins on the side of the hill, and which were all
brought by his Majesty from Jerusalem. Among other things of great
sanctity there is a set of gnashing of teeth, the grinders very entire;
a bit of the worm that never dies, preserved in spirits; a crow of St.
Peter's cock, very useful against Easter; the crisping and curling,
frizzling and frowncing of Mary Magdalen, which she cut off on growing
devout. The good man that showed us all these commodities was got into
such a train of calling them the blessed this, and the blessed that,
that at last he showed us a bit of the blessed fig-tree that Christ

[Footnote 1: Hamilton's Bawn is an old building near Richhill, in the
County of Armagh, the subject of one of Swift's burlesque poems.]

FLORENCE, _July_ 9.

My dear Harry,--We are come hither, and I have received another letter
from you with "Hosier's Ghost."[1] Your last put me in pain for you,
when you talked of going to Ireland; but now I find your brother and
sister go with you, I am not much concerned. Should I be? You have but
to say, for my feelings are extremely at your service to dispose as you
please. Let us see: you are to come back to stand for some place; that
will be about April. 'Tis a sort of thing I should do, too; and then we
should see one another, and that would be charming: but it is a sort of
thing I have no mind to do; and then we shall not see one another,
unless you would come hither--but that you cannot do: nay, I would not
have you, for then I shall be gone.--So, there are many _ifs_ that just
signify nothing at all. Return I must sooner than I shall like. I am
happy here to a degree. I'll tell you my situation. I am lodged with Mr.
Mann, the best of creatures. I have a terreno all to myself, with an
open gallery on the Arno, where I am now writing to you. Over against me
is the famous Gallery: and, on either hand, two fair bridges. Is not
this charming and cool? The air is so serene, and so secure, that one
sleeps with all the windows and doors thrown open to the river, and only
covered with a slight gauze to keep away the gnats. Lady Pomfret has a
charming conversation once a week. She has taken a vast palace and a
vast garden, which is vastly commode, especially to the cicisbeo-part of
mankind, who have free indulgence to wander in pairs about the arbours.
You know her daughters: Lady Sophia is still, nay she must be, the
beauty she was: Lady Charlotte is much improved, and is the cleverest
girl in the world; speaks the purest Tuscan, like any Florentine. The
Princess Craon has a constant pharaoh and supper every night, where one
is quite at one's ease. I am going into the country with her and the
prince for a little while, to a villa of the Great Duke's. The people
are good-humoured here and easy; and what makes me pleased with them,
they are pleased with me. One loves to find people care for one, when
they can have no view in it.

[Footnote 1: "Admiral Hosier's Ghost" is the title of a ballad by Glover
on the death of Admiral Hosier, a distinguished admiral, who had been
sent with a squadron to blockade the Spanish treasure-ships in Porto
Bello, but was prohibited from attacking them in the harbour. He died in
1727, according to the account that the poet adopted, of mortification
at the inaction to which his orders compelled him; but according to
another statement, more trustworthy if less poetical, of fever.]

You see how glad I am to have reasons for not returning; I wish I had no

As to "Hosier's Ghost," I think it very easy, and consequently pretty;
but, from the ease, should never have guessed it Glover's. I delight in
your, "the patriots cry it up, and the courtiers cry it down, and the
hawkers cry it up and down," and your laconic history of the King and
Sir Robert, on going to Hanover, and turning out the Duke of Argyle. The
epigram, too, you sent me on the same occasion is charming.

Unless I sent you back news that you and others send me, I can send you
none. I have left the Conclave, which is the only stirring thing in this
part of the world, except the child that the Queen of Naples is to be
delivered of in August. There is no likelihood the Conclave will end,
unless the messages take effect which 'tis said the Imperial and French
ministers have sent to their respective courts for leave to quit the
Corsini for the Albani faction: otherwise there will never be a pope.
Corsini has lost the only one he could have ventured to make pope, and
him he designed; 'twas Cenci, a relation of the Corsini's mistress. The
last morning Corsini made him rise, stuffed a dish of chocolate down his
throat, and would carry him to the scrutiny. The poor old creature went,
came back, and died. I am sorry to have lost the sight of the Pope's
coronation, but I might have staid for seeing it till I had been old
enough to be pope myself.[1]

[Footnote 1: The contest was caused by the death of Clement XII. The
successful candidate was Benedict XIV.]

Harry, what luck the Chancellor has! first, indeed, to be in himself so
great a man; but then in accident: he is made Chief Justice and peer,
when Talbot is made Chancellor and peer. Talbot dies in a twelvemonth,
and leaves him the seals at an age when others are scarce made
Solicitors:--then marries his son into one of the first families of
Britain, obtains a patent for a Marquisate and eight thousand pounds a
year after the Duke of Kent's death: the Duke dies in a fortnight, and
leaves them all! People talk of Fortune's wheel, that is always
rolling: troth, my Lord Hardwicke has overtaken her wheel, and rolled
away with it.... Yours ever.



FLORENCE, _Oct._ 2, 1740, N.S.

Dear West,--T'other night as we (you know who _we_ are) were walking on
the charming bridge, just before going to a wedding assembly, we said,
"Lord, I wish, just as we are got into the room, they would call us out,
and say, West is arrived! We would make him dress instantly, and carry
him back to the entertainment. How he would stare and wonder at a
thousand things, that no longer strike us as odd!" Would not you? One
agreed that you should have come directly by sea from Dover, and be set
down at Leghorn, without setting foot in any other foreign town, and so
land at _Us_, in all your first full amaze; for you are to know, that
astonishment rubs off violently; we did not cry out Lord! half so much
at Rome as at Calais, which to this hour I look upon as one of the most
surprising cities in the universe. My dear child, what if you were to
take this little sea-jaunt? One would recommend Sir John Norris's convoy
to you, but one should be laughed at now for supposing that he is ever
to sail beyond Torbay.[1] The Italians take Torbay for an English town
in the hands of the Spaniards, after the fashion of Gibraltar, and
imagine 'tis a wonderful strong place, by our fleet's having retired
from before it so often, and so often returned.

[Footnote 1: Sir John Norris was one of the most gallant and skilful
seamen of his time; but an expedition in which he had had the command
had lately proved fruitless. He had been instructed to cruise about the
Bay of Biscay, in the hope of intercepting some of the Spanish
treasure-ships; but the weather had been so uninterruptedly stormy that
he had been compelled to return to port without having even seen an
enemy. The following lines were addressed to him upon this occasion:

Homeward, oh! bend thy course; the seas are rough;
To the Land's End who sails, has sailed enough.]

We went to this wedding that I told you of; 'twas a charming feast: a
large palace finely illuminated; there were all the beauties, all the
jewels, and all the sugar-plums of Florence. Servants loaded with great
chargers full of comfits heap the tables with them, the women fall on
with both hands, and stuff their pockets and every creek and corner
about them. You would be as much amazed at us as at anything you saw:
instead of being deep in the liberal arts, and being in the Gallery
every morning, as I thought of course to be sure I would be, we are in
all the idleness and amusements of the town. For me, I am grown so lazy,
and so tired of seeing sights, that, though I have been at Florence six
months, I have not seen Leghorn, Pisa, Lucca, or Pistoia; nay, not so
much as one of the Great Duke's villas. I have contracted so great an
aversion to inns and post-chaises, and have so absolutely lost all
curiosity, that, except the towns in the straight road to Great Britain,
I shall scarce see a jot more of a foreign land; and trust me, when I
return, I will not visit Welsh mountains, like Mr. Williams. After Mount
Cenis, the Boccheto, the Giogo, Radicofani, and the Appian Way, one has
mighty little hunger after travelling. I shall be mighty apt to set up
my staff at Hyde-park-corner: the alehouseman there at Hercules's
Pillars[1] was certainly returned from his travels into foreign parts.

[Footnote 1: The sign of the Hercules' Pillars remained in Piccadilly
till very lately. It was situated on part of the ground now [1798]
occupied by the houses of Mr. Drummond Smith and his brother.--MISS
BERRY. That is, on the space between Hamilton Place and Apsley House. It
was the inn mentioned in Fielding's "Tom Jones," and was notorious as a
favourite resort of the Marquis of Granby.]

Now I'll answer your questions.

I have made no discoveries in ancient or modern arts. Mr. Addison
travelled through the poets, and not through Italy; for all his ideas
are borrowed from the descriptions, and not from the reality. He saw
places as they were, not as they are.[1] I am very well acquainted with
Doctor Cocchi;[2] he is a good sort of man, rather than a great man; he
is a plain honest creature, with quiet knowledge, but I dare say all the
English have told you, he has a very particular understanding: I really
don't believe they meant to impose on you, for they thought so. As to
Bondelmonti, he is much less; he is a low mimic; the brightest cast of
his parts attains to the composition of a sonnet: he talks irreligion
with English boys, sentiment with my sister [Lady Walpole], and bad
French with any one that will hear him. I will transcribe you a little
song that he made t'other day; 'tis pretty enough; Gray turned it into
Latin, and I into English; you will honour him highly by putting it into
French, and Ashton into Greek. Here 'tis.

Spesso Amor sotto la forma
D'amista ride, e s'asconde;
Poi si mischia, e si confonde
Con lo sdegno e col rancor.

In pietade ei si trasforma,
Par trastullo e par dispetto,
Ma nel suo diverso aspetto,
Sempre egli e l'istesso Amor.

Risit amicitiae interdum velatus amictu,
Et bene composita veste fefeliit Amor:
Mox irae assumpsit cultus faciemque minantem,
Inque odium versus, versus et in lacrymas:
Sudentem fuge, nec lacrymanti aut crede furenti;
Idem est dissimili semper in ore Deus.

Love often in the comely mien
Of friendship fancies to be seen;
Soon again he shifts his dress,
And wears disdain and rancour's face.

To gentle pity then he changes;
Thro' wantonness, thro' piques he ranges;
But in whatever shape he move,
He's still himself, and still is Love.

[Footnote 1: Compare Letter to Zouch, March 20th, 1762. Fielding says
("Voyage to Lisbon") that Addison, in his "Travels," is to be looked
upon rather as a commentator on the classics, than as a writer of

[Footnote 2: Antonio Cocchi, a learned physician and author at Florence,
a particular friend of Mr. Mann.--WALPOLE. He died in 1758.]

See how we trifle! but one can't pass one's youth too amusingly; for one
must grow old, and that in England; two most serious circumstances
either of which makes people grey in the twinkling of a bed-staff; for
know you, there is not a country upon earth where there are so many old
fools and so few young ones.

Now I proceed with my answers.

I made but small collections, and have only bought some bronzes and
medals, a few busts, and two or three pictures; one of my busts is to be
mentioned; 'tis the famous Vespasian in touchstone, reckoned the best in
Rome, except the Caracalla of the Farnese: I gave but twenty-two pounds
for it at Cardinal Ottoboni's sale. One of my medals is as great a
curiosity: 'tis of Alexander Severus, with the amphitheatre in brass;
this reverse is extant on medals of his, but mine is a _medagliuncino_,
or small medallion, and the only one with this reverse known in the
world: 'twas found by a peasant while I was in Rome, and sold by him for
sixpence to an antiquarian, to whom I paid for it seven guineas and a
half; but to virtuosi 'tis worth any sum.

As to Tartini's[1] musical compositions, ask Gray; I know but little in

[Footnote 1: Giuseppe Tartini, of Padua, the celebrated composer of the
Devil's Sonata: in which he attempted to reproduce an air which he
dreamt that Satan had played to him while he was asleep; but, in his own
opinion, he failed so entirely, that he declared that if he had any
other means of livelihood he would break his violin and give up music.]

But for the Academy, I am not of it, but frequently in company with it:
'tis all disjointed. Madame ----, who, though a learned lady, has not
lost her modesty and character, is extremely scandalised with the other
two dames, especially with Moll Worthless [Lady Mary Wortley], who knows
no bounds. She is at rivalry with Lady W[alpole] for a certain Mr. ----,
whom perhaps you knew at Oxford. If you did not, I'll tell you: he is a
grave young man by temper, and a rich one by constitution; a shallow
creature by nature, but a wit by the grace of our women here, whom he
deals with as of old with the Oxford toasts. He fell into sentiments
with my Lady W[alpole] and was happy to catch her at Platonic love: but
as she seldom stops there, the poor man will be frightened out of his
senses when she shall break the matter to him; for he never dreamt that
her purposes were so naught. Lady Mary is so far gone, that to get him
from the mouth of her antagonist she literally took him out to dance
country dances last night at a formal ball, where there was no measure
kept in laughing at her old, foul, tawdry, painted, plastered personage.
She played at pharaoh two or three times at Princess Craon's, where she
cheats horse and foot. She is really entertaining: I have been reading
her works, which she lends out in manuscript, but they are too womanish:
I like few of her performances. I forgot to tell you a good answer of
Lady Pomfret to Mr. ----, who asked her if she did not approve Platonic
love? "Lord, sir," says she, "I am sure any one that knows me never
heard that I had any love but one, and there sit two proofs of it,"
pointing to her two daughters.

So I have given you a sketch of our employments, and answered your
questions, and will with pleasure as many more as you have about you.

Adieu! Was ever such a long letter? But 'tis nothing to what I shall
have to say to you. I shall scold you for never telling us any news,
public or private, no deaths, marriages, or mishaps; no account of new
books: Oh, you are abominable! I could find it in my heart to hate you,
if I did not love you so well; but we will quarrel now, that we may be
the better friends when we meet: there is no danger of that, is there?
Good-night, whether friend or foe! I am most sincerely




[Footnote 1: Sir H. Mann was an early friend of Walpole; and was
Minister at Florence from 1740-1786.]

[Illustration: SIR HORACE MANN.]

_Friday, Jan._ 22, 1742.

Don't wonder that I missed writing to you yesterday, my constant day:
you will pity me when you hear that I was shut up in the House of
Commons till one in the morning. I came away more dead than alive, and
was forced to leave Sir R. at supper with my brothers: he was all alive
and in spirits.[1] He says he is younger than me, and indeed I think
so, in spite of his forty years more. My head aches to-night, but we
rose early; and if I don't write to-night, when shall I find a moment to
spare? Now you want to know what we did last night; stay, I will tell
you presently in its place: it was well, and of infinite consequence--so
far I tell you now.

[Footnote 1: Sir Robert Wilmot also, in a letter to the Duke of
Devonshire, written on the 12th, says, "Sir Robert was to-day observed
to be more naturally gay and full of spirits than he has been for some
time past."]

Our recess finished last Monday, and never at school did I enjoy
holidays so much--but, _les voila finis jusqu'au printems_! Tuesday (for
you see I write you an absolute journal) we sat on a Scotch election, a
double return; their man was Hume Campbell[1], Lord Marchmont's brother,
lately made solicitor to the Prince, for being as troublesome, as
violent, and almost as able as his brother. They made a great point of
it, and gained so many of our votes, that at ten at night we were forced
to give it up without dividing. Sandys, who loves persecution, _even
unto death_, moved to punish the sheriff; and as we dared not divide,
they ordered him into custody, where by this time, I suppose, Sandys has
eaten him.

[Footnote 1: Hume Campbell, twin brother of Hugh, third Earl of
Marchmont, the friend of Pope, and one of his executors. They were sons
of Alexander, the second earl, who had quarrelled with Sir Robert
Walpole at the time of the excise scheme in 1733. Sir Robert, in
consequence, prevented him from being re-elected one of the sixteen
representative Scotch peers in 1734; in requital for which, the old
earl's two sons became the bitterest opponents of the minister. They
were both men of considerable talents; extremely similar in their
characters and dispositions, and so much so in their outward appearance,
that it was very difficult to know them apart.]

On Wednesday Sir Robert Godschall, the Lord Mayor, presented the
Merchant's petition, signed by three hundred of them, and drawn up by
_Leonidas_ Glover.[1] This is to be heard next Wednesday. This
gold-chain came into parliament, cried up for his parts, but proves so
dull, one would think he chewed opium. Earle says, "I have heard an
oyster speak as well twenty times."...

[Footnote 1: Mr. Glover, a London merchant, was the author of a poem
entitled "Leonidas"; of a tragedy, "Boadicea"; and of the ode on
"Admiral Hosier's Ghost," which is mentioned in the letter to Conway at
p. 23.]

On this Thursday, of which I was telling you, at three o'clock, Mr.
Pulteney rose up, and moved for a secret committee of twenty-one. This
inquisition, this council of ten, was to sit and examine whatever
persons and papers they should please, and to meet when and where they
pleased. He protested much on its not being intended against _any
person_, but merely to give the King advice, and on this foot they
fought it till ten at night, when Lord Perceval blundered out what they
had been cloaking with so much art, and declared that he should vote for
it as a committee of accusation. Sir Robert immediately rose, and
protested that he should not have spoken, but for what he had heard
last; but that now, he must take it to himself. He pourtrayed the malice
of the Opposition, who, for twenty years, had not been able to touch
him, and were now reduced to this infamous shift. He defied them to
accuse him, and only desired that if they should, it might be in an open
and fair manner; desired no favour, but to be acquainted with his
accusation. He spoke of Mr. Dodington, who had called his administration
infamous, as of a person of great self-mortification, who, for sixteen
years, had condescended to bear part of the odium. For Mr. Pulteney, who
had just spoken a second time, Sir R. said, he had begun the debate with
great calmness, but give him his due, he had made amends for it in the
end. In short, never was innocence so triumphant!

There were several glorious speeches on both sides; Mr. Pulteney's two,
W. Pitt's [Chatham's] and George Grenville's, Sir Robert's, Sir W.
Yonge's, Harry Fox's [Lord Holland's], Mr. Chute's, and the
Attorney-General's [Sir Dudley Ryder]. My friend Coke [Lovel], for the
first time, spoke vastly well, and mentioned how great Sir Robert's
character is abroad. Sir Francis Dashwood replied that he had found
quite the reverse from Mr. Coke, and that foreigners always spoke with
contempt of the Chevalier de Walpole. This was going too far, and he was
called to order, but got off well enough, by saying, that he knew it was
contrary to rule to name any member, but that he only mentioned it as
spoken by an impertinent Frenchman.

But of all speeches, none ever was so full of wit as Mr. Pulteney's
last. He said, "I have heard this committee represented as a most
dreadful spectre; it has been likened to all terrible things; it has
been likened to the King; to the inquisition; it will be a committee of
safety; it is a committee of danger; I don't know what it is to be! One
gentleman, I think, called it _a cloud_! (this was the Attorney) _a
cloud_! I remember Hamlet takes Lord Polonius by the hand shows him _a
cloud_, and then asks him if he does not think it is like a whale."
Well, in short, at eleven at night we divided, and threw out this famous
committee by 253 to 250, the greatest number that ever was in the house,
and the greatest number that ever _lost_ a question.[1]

[Footnote 1: Lord Stanhope ("History of England," i. 24) gives a long
account of this debate, mainly derived from this letter.]

It was a most shocking sight to see the sick and dead brought in on both
sides! Men on crutches, and Sir William Gordon from his bed, with a
blister on his head, and flannel hanging out from under his wig. I could
scarce pity him for his ingratitude. The day before the Westminster
petition, Sir Charles Wager gave his son a ship, and the next day the
father came down and voted against him. The son has since been cast
away; but they concealed it from the father, that he might not absent
himself. However, as we have our good-natured men too on our side, one
of his own countrymen went and told him of it in the House. The old man,
who looked like Lazarus at his resuscitation, bore it with great
resolution, and said, he knew _why_ he was told of it, but when he
thought his country in danger, he would not go away. As he is so near
death, that it is indifferent to him whether he died two thousand years
ago or to-morrow, it is unlucky for him not to have lived when such
insensibility would have been a Roman virtue.

There are no arts, no menaces, which the Opposition do not practise.
They have threatened one gentleman to have a reversion cut off from his
son, unless he will vote with them. To Totness there came a letter to
the mayor from the Prince, and signed by two of his lords, to recommend
a candidate in opposition to the Solicitor-General [Strange]. The mayor
sent the letter to Sir Robert. They have turned the Scotch to the best
account. There is a young Oswald, who had engaged to Sir R. but has
voted against us. Sir R. sent a friend to reproach him; the moment the
gentleman who had engaged for him came into the room, Oswald said, "You
had like to have led me into a fine error! did you not tell me that Sir
R. would have the majority?"

When the debate was over, Mr. Pulteney owned that he had never heard so
fine a debate on our side; and said to Sir Robert, "Well, nobody can do
what you can!" "Yes," replied Sir R., "Yonge did better." Mr. Pulteney
answered, "It was fine, but not of that weight with what you said." They
all allow it; and now their plan is to persuade Sir Robert to retire
with honour. All that evening there was a report about the town, that he
and my uncle [_old_ Horace] were to be sent to the Tower, and people
hired windows in the City to see them pass by--but for this time I
believe we shall not exhibit so historical a parade....

Sir Thomas Robinson [Long] is at last named to the government of
Barbadoes; he has long prevented its being asked for, by declaring that
he had the promise of it. Luckily for him, Lord Lincoln liked his house,
and procured him this government on condition of hiring it.

I have mentioned Lord Perceval's speeches; he has a set who has a
rostrum at his house, and harangue there. A gentleman who came thither
one evening was refused, but insisting that he was engaged to come, "Oh,
Sir," said the porter, "what are you one of those who play at members of



DOWNING STREET, _May_ 26, 1742.

To-day calls itself May the 26th, as you perceive by the date; but I am
writing to you by the fire-side, instead of going to Vauxhall. If we
have one warm day in seven, "we bless our stars, and think it luxury."
And yet we have as much water-works and fresco diversions, as if we lay
ten degrees nearer warmth. Two nights ago Ranelagh-gardens were opened
at Chelsea; the Prince, Princess, Duke, much nobility, and much mob
besides, were there. There is a vast amphitheatre, finely gilt, painted,
and illuminated, into which everybody that loves eating, drinking,
staring, or crowding, is admitted for twelvepence. The building and
disposition of the garden cost sixteen thousand pounds. Twice a-week
there are to be Ridottos, at guinea-tickets, for which you are to have a
supper and music. I was there last night, but did not find the joy of
it. Vauxhall is a little better; for the garden is pleasanter, and one
goes by water. Our operas are almost over; there were but
three-and-forty people last night in the pit and boxes. There is a
little simple farce at Drury Lane, called "Miss Lucy in Town," in which
Mrs. Clive mimics the Muscovita admirably, and Beard, Amorevoli
tolerably. But all the run is now after Garrick, a wine-merchant, who is
turned player, at Goodman's fields. He plays all parts, and is a very
good mimic. His acting I have seen, and may say to you, who will not
tell it again here, I see nothing wonderful in it; but it is heresy to
say so: the Duke of Argyll says, he is superior to Betterton. Now I talk
of players, tell Mr. Chute, that his friend Bracegirdle breakfasted with
me this morning. As she went out, and wanted her clogs, she turned to
me, and said, "I remember at the playhouse, they used to call Mrs.
Oldfield's chair! Mrs. Barry's clogs! and Mrs. Bracegirdle's pattens!"

I did, indeed, design the letter of this post for Mr. Chute; but I have
received two such charming long ones from you of the 15th and 20th of
May (N.S.), that I must answer them, and beg him to excuse me till
another post; so must the Prince [Craon], Princess, the Grifona, and
Countess Galli. For the Princess's letter, I am not sure I shall answer
it so soon, for hitherto I have not been able to read above every third
word; however, you may thank her as much as if I understood it all. I am
very happy that _mes bagatelles_ (for I still insist they were so)
pleased. You, my dear child, are very good to be pleased with the
snuff-box. I am much obliged to the superior _lumieres_ of old Sarasin
about the Indian ink: if she meant the black, I am sorry to say I had it
into the bargain with the rest of the Japan: for coloured, it is only a
curiosity, because it has seldom been brought over. I remember Sir Hans
Sloane was the first who ever had any of it, and would on no account
give my mother the least morsel of it. She afterwards got a good deal of
it from China; and since that, more has come over; but it is even less
valuable than the other, for we never could tell how to use it; however,
let it make its figure.

I am sure you hate me all this time, for chatting about so many trifles,
and telling you no politics. I own to you, I am so wearied, so worn with
them, that I scarce know how to turn my hand to them; but you shall know
all I know. I told you of the meeting at the Fountain tavern: Pulteney
had promised to be there, but was not; nor Carteret. As the Lords had
put off the debate on the Indemnity Bill,[1] nothing material passed;
but the meeting was very Jacobite. Yesterday the bill came on, and Lord
Carteret took the lead against it, and about seven in the evening it
was flung out by almost two to one, 92 to 47, and 17 proxies to 10.
To-day we had a motion by the new Lord Hillsborough (for the father is
just dead), and seconded by Lord Barrington, to examine the Lords'
votes, to see what was become of the bill; this is the form. The
Chancellor of the Exchequer, and all the new ministry, were with us
against it; but they carried it, 164 to 159. It is to be reported
to-morrow, and as we have notice, we may possibly throw it out; else
they will hurry on to a breach with the Lords. Pulteney was not in the
House: he was riding the other day, and met the King's coach;
endeavouring to turn out of the way, his horse started, flung him, and
fell upon him: he is much bruised; but not at all dangerously. On this
occasion, there was an epigram fixed to a list, which I will explain to
you afterwards: it is not known who wrote it, but it was addressed to

Thy horse does things by halves, like thee:
Thou, with irresolution,
Hurt'st friend and foe, thyself and me,
The King and Constitution.

[Footnote 1: A previous letter describes this as a Bill "to indemnify
all persons who should accuse themselves of any crime, provided they
accuse Lord Orford [Sir R.W.]." It was carried in the House of Commons
by 251 to 228, but, as this letter mentions, was thrown out by the Lords
by 109 to 57. Lord Stanhope (c. 24) describes it as "a Bill which broke
through the settled forms and safeguards of law, to strike at one
obnoxious head."]

* * * * *

I must tell you an ingenuity of Lord Raymond, an epitaph on the
Indemnifying Bill--I believe you would guess the author:--

Interr'd beneath this marble stone doth lie
The Bill of Indemnity;
To show the good for which it was design'd,
It died itself to save mankind.

* * * * *

There has lately been published one of the most impudent things that
ever was printed; it is called "The Irish Register," and is a list of
all the unmarried women of any fashion in England, ranked in order,
duchesses-dowager, ladies, widows, misses, &c., with their names at
length, for the benefit of Irish fortune-hunters, or as it is said, for
the incorporating and manufacturing of British commodities. Miss Edwards
is the only one printed with a dash, because they have placed her among
the widows. I will send you this, "Miss Lucy in Town," and the
magazines, by the first opportunity, as I should the other things, but
your brother tells me you have had them by another hand. I received the
cedrati, for which I have already thanked you: but I have been so much
thanked by several people to whom I gave some, that I can very well
afford to thank you again....

P.S.--I unseal my letter to tell you what a vast and, probably, final
victory we have gained to-day. They moved, that the Lords flinging out
the Bill of Indemnity was an obstruction of justice, and might prove
fatal to the liberties of this country. We have sat till this moment,
seven o'clock, and have rejected this motion by 245 to 193. The call of
the House, which they have kept off from fortnight to fortnight, to keep
people in town, was appointed for to-day. The moment the division was
over, Sir John Cotton rose and said, "As I think the inquiry is at an
end, you may do what you will with the call." We have put it off for two
months. There's a noble postscript!



ARLINGTON STREET, _Dec._ 9, 1742.

I shall have quite a partiality for the post of Holland; it brought me
two letters last week, and two more yesterday, of November 20th and
27th; but I find you have your perpetual headaches--how can you say that
you shall tire me with talking of them? you may make me suffer by your
pains, but I will hear and insist upon your always telling me of your
health. Do you think I only correspond with you to know the posture of
the Spaniards or the _epuisements_ of the Princess! I am anxious, too,
to know how poor Mr. Whithed does, and Mr. Chute's gout. I shall look
upon our sea-captains with as much horror as the King of Naples can, if
they bring gouts, fits, and headaches.

You will have had a letter from me by this time, to give up sending the
Dominichin by a man-of-war, and to propose its coming in a Dutch ship. I
believe that will be safe.

We have had another great day in the House on the army in Flanders,
which the Opposition were for disbanding; but we carried it by a hundred
and twenty. Murray spoke for the first time, with the greatest applause;
Pitt answered him with all his force and art of language, but on an
ill-founded argument. In all appearances, they will be great rivals.
Shippen was in great rage at Murray's apostacy; if anything can really
change his principles, possibly this competition may. To-morrow we shall
have a tougher battle on the sixteen thousand Hanoverians. _Hanover_ is
the word given out for this winter: there is a most bold pamphlet come
out, said to be Lord Marchmont's, which affirms that in every treaty
made since the accession of this family, England has been sacrificed to
the interests of Hanover, and consequently insinuates the
incompatibility of the two. Lord Chesterfield says "that if we have a
mind effectually to prevent the Pretender from ever obtaining this
crown, we should make him Elector of Hanover, for the people of England
will never fetch another king from thence."

Adieu! my dear child. I am sensible that I write you short letters, but
I write you all I know. I don't know how it is, but _the wonderful_
seems worn out. In this our day, we have no rabbit-women--no
elopements--no epic poems, finer than Milton's--no contest about
Harlequins and Polly Peachems. Jansen[1] has won no more estates, and
the Duchess of Queensberry has grown as tame as her neighbours. Whist
has spread an universal opium over the whole nation; it makes courtiers
and patriots sit down to the same pack of cards. The only thing
extraordinary, and which yet did not seem to surprise anybody, was the
Barbarina's being attacked by four men masqued, the other night, as she
came out of the Opera House, who would have forced her away; but she
screamed, and the guard came. Nobody knows who set them on, and I
believe nobody inquired.

[Footnote 1: H. Jansen, a celebrated gamester, who cheated the Duke of


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