Letters of Horace Walpole
Horace Walpole

Part 3 out of 5

Do but think of my beginning a third sheet! but as the Parliament is
rising, and I shall probably not write you a tolerably long letter again
these eight months, I will lay in a stock of merit with you to last me
so long. Mr. Chute has set me too upon making epigrams; but as I have
not his art mine is almost a copy of verses: the story he told me, and
is literally true, of an old Lady Bingley:

Celia now had completed some thirty campaigns,
And for new generations was hammering chains;
When whetting those terrible weapons, her eyes,
To Jenny, her handmaid, in anger she cries,
"Careless creature! did mortal e'er see such a glass!
Who that saw me in this, could e'er guess what I was!
Much you mind what I say! pray how oft have I bid you
Provide me a new one? how oft have I chid you?"
"Lord, Madam!" cried Jane, "you're so hard to be pleased!
I am sure every glassman in town I have teased:
I have hunted each shop from Pall Mall to Cheapside:
Both Miss Carpenter's man, and Miss Banks's I've tried."
"Don't tell me of those girls!--all I know, to my cost,
Is, the looking-glass art must be certainly lost!
One used to have mirrors so smooth and so bright,
They did one's eyes justice, they heightened one's white,
And fresh roses diffused o'er one's bloom--but, alas!
In the glasses made now, one detests one's own face;
They pucker one's cheeks up and furrow one's brow,
And one's skin looks as yellow as that of Miss Howe!"

After an epigram that seems to have found out the longitude, I shall
tell you but one more, and that wondrous short. It is said to be made by
a cow. You must not wonder; we tell as many strange stories as Baker and

A warm winter, a dry spring,
A hot summer, a new King.

Though the sting is very epigrammatic, the whole of the distich has more
of the truth than becomes prophecy; that is, it is false, for the spring
is wet and cold.

There is come from France a Madame Bocage,[1] who has translated Milton:
my Lord Chesterfield prefers the copy to the original; but that is not
uncommon for him to do, who is the patron of bad authors and bad actors.
She has written a play too, which was damned, and worthy my lord's
approbation. You would be more diverted with a Mrs. Holman, whose
passion is keeping an assembly, and inviting literally everybody to it.
She goes to the drawing-room to watch for sneezes; whips out a curtsey,
and then sends next morning to know how your cold does, and to desire
your company next Thursday.

[Footnote 1: Madame du Boccage published a poem in imitation of Milton,
and another founded on Gesner's "Death of Abel." She also translated
Pope's "Temple of Fame;" but her principal work was "La Columbiade." It
was at the house of this lady, at Paris, in 1775, that Johnson was
annoyed at her footman's taking the sugar in his fingers and throwing it
into his coffee. "I was going," says the Doctor, "to put it aside, but
hearing it was made on purpose for me, I e'en tasted Tom's fingers." She
died in 1802.]

Mr. Whithed has taken my Lord Pembroke's house at Whitehall; a glorious
situation, but as madly built as my lord himself was. He has bought some
delightful pictures too, of Claude, Caspar and good masters, to the
amount of four hundred pounds.

Good night! I have nothing more to tell you, but that I have lately seen
a Sir William Boothby, who saw you about a year ago, and adores you, as
all the English you receive ought to do. He is much in my favour.



ARLINGTON STREET, _April_ 1, 1751.

How shall I begin a letter that will--that must--give you as much pain
as I feel myself? I must interrupt the story of the Prince's death, to
tell you of _two_ more, much more important, God knows! to you and me!
One I had prepared you for--but how will you be shocked to hear that our
poor Mr. Whithed is dead as well as my brother!...

I now must mention my own misfortune. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday
mornings, the physicians and _all the family of painful death_ (to alter
Gray's phrase), were persuaded and persuaded me, that the bark, which
took great place, would save my brother's life--but he relapsed at three
o'clock on Thursday, and died last night. He ordered to be drawn and
executed his will with the greatest tranquillity and satisfaction on
Saturday morning. His spoils are prodigious--not to his own family!
indeed I think his son the most ruined young man in England. My loss, I
fear, may be considerable, which is not the only motive of my concern,
though, as you know, I had much to forgive, before I could regret: but
indeed I do regret. It is no small addition to my concern, to fear or
foresee that Houghton and all the remains of my father's glory will be
pulled to pieces! The widow-Countess immediately marries--not Richcourt,
but Shirley, and triumphs in advancing her son's ruin by enjoying her
own estate, and tearing away great part of his.

Now I will divert your private grief by talking to you of what is called
the public. The King and Princess are grown as fond as if they had never
been of different parties, or rather as people who always had been of
different. She discountenances all opposition, and he _all ambition_.
Prince George, who, with his two eldest brothers, is to be lodged at St.
James's, is speedily to be created Prince of Wales. Ayscough, his tutor,
is to be removed with her entire inclination as well as with everybody's
approbation. They talk of a Regency to be established (in case of a
minority) by authority of Parliament, even this session, with the
Princess at the head of it. She and Dr. Lee, the only one she consults
of the late cabal, very sensibly burned the late Prince's papers the
moment he was dead. Lord Egmont, by seven o'clock the next morning,
summoned (not very decently) the faction to his house: all was whisper!
at last he hinted something of taking the Princess and her children
under their protection, and something of the necessity of harmony. No
answer was made to the former proposal. Somebody said, it was very
likely indeed they should agree now, when the Prince could never bring
it about; and so everybody went away to take care of himself. The
imposthumation is supposed to have proceeded, not from his fall last
year, but from a blow with a tennis-ball some years ago. The grief for
the dead brother is affectedly displayed. They cried about an elegy,[1]
and added, "Oh, that it were but his brother!" On 'Change they said,
"Oh, that it were but the butcher[2]!"

[Footnote 1: The elegy alluded to, was probably the effusion of some
Jacobite royalist. That faction could not forgive the Duke of Cumberland
his excesses or successes in Scotland; and, not contented with branding
the parliamentary government of the country as usurpation, indulged in
frequent unfeeling and scurrilous personalities on every branch of the
reigning family:

Here lies Fred,
Who was alive and is dead:
Had it been his father,
I had much rather;
Had it been his brother,
Still better than another;
Had it been his sister,
No one would have missed her;
Had it been the whole generation,
Still better for the nation:
But since 'tis only Fred,
Who was alive and is dead--
There's no more to be said.

Walpole's _Memoirs of George II._]

[Footnote 2: A name given to the Duke of Cumberland for his severities
to his prisoners after the battle of Culloden.]

The Houses sit, but no business will be done till after the holidays.
Anstruther's affair will go on, but not with much spirit. One wants to
see faces about again! Dick Lyttelton, one of the patriot officers, had
collected depositions on oath against the Duke for his behaviour in
Scotland, but I suppose he will now throw his papers into Hamlet's

Prince George, who has a most amiable countenance, behaved excessively
well on his father's death. When they told him of it, he turned pale,
and laid his hand on his breast. Ayscough said, "I am afraid, Sir, you
are not well!"--he replied, "I feel something here, just as I did when I
saw the two workmen fall from the scaffold at Kew." Prince Edward is a
very plain boy, with strange loose eyes, but was much the favourite. He
is a sayer of things! Two men were heard lamenting the death in
Leicester Fields: one said, "He has left a great many small
children!"--"Ay," replied the other, "and what is worse, they belong to
our parish!" But the most extraordinary reflections on his death were
set forth in a sermon at Mayfair chapel. "He had no great parts (pray
mind, this was the parson said so, not I), but he had great virtues;
indeed, they degenerated into vices: he was very generous, but I hear
his generosity has ruined a great many people: and then his
condescension was such, that he kept very bad company."

Adieu! my dear child; I have tried, you see, to blend so much public
history with our private griefs, as may help to interrupt your too great
attention to the calamities in the former part of my letter. You will,
with the properest good-nature in the world, break the news to the poor
girl, whom I pity, though I never saw. Miss Nicoll is, I am told,
extremely to be pitied too; but so is everybody that knew Whithed! Bear
it yourself as well as you can!



ARLINGTON STREET, _June_ 18, 1751.

I send my letter as usual from the Secretary's office, but of what
Secretary I don't know. Lord Sandwich last week received his dismission,
on which the Duke of Bedford resigned the next day, and Lord Trentham
with him, both breaking with old Gower, who is entirely in the hands of
the Pelhams, and made to declare his quarrel with Lord Sandwich (who
gave away his daughter to Colonel Waldegrave) the foundation of
detaching himself from the Bedfords. Your friend Lord Fane comforts Lord
Sandwich with an annuity of a thousand a-year--scarcely for his handsome
behaviour to his sister; Lord Hartington is to be Master of the Horse,
and Lord Albemarle Groom of the Stole; Lord Granville[1] is actually
Lord President, and, by all outward and visible signs, something
more--in short, if he don't overshoot himself, the Pelhams have; the
King's favour to him is visible, and so much credited, that all the
incense is offered to him. It is believed that Impresario Holdernesse
will succeed the Bedford in the foreign seals, and Lord Halifax in
those for the plantations. If the former does, you will have ample
instructions to negotiate for singers and dancers! Here is an epigram
made upon his directorship:

[Footnote 1: Lord Granville, known as Lord Carteret during the lifetime
of his mother, was a statesman of the very highest ability, and was
regarded with special favour by the King for his power of conversing in
German, then a very rare accomplishment.]

That secrecy will now prevail
In politics, is certain;
Since Holdernesse, who gets the seals,
Was bred behind the curtain.

The Admirals Rowley and Boscawen are brought into the Admiralty under
Lord Anson, who is advanced to the head of the board. Seamen are
tractable fishes! especially it will be Boscawen's case, whose name in
Cornish signifies obstinacy, and who brings along with him a good
quantity of resentment to Anson. In short, the whole present system is
equally formed for duration!

Since I began my letter, Lord Holdernesse has kissed hands for the
seals. It is said that Lord Halifax is to be made easy, by the
plantations being put under the Board of Trade. Lord Granville comes
into power as boisterously as ever, and dashes at everything. His
lieutenants already beat up for volunteers; but he disclaims all
connexions with Lord Bath, who, he says, forced him upon the famous
ministry of twenty-four hours, and by which he says he paid all his
debts to him. This will soon grow a turbulent scene--it is not
unpleasant to sit upon the beach and see it; but few people have the
curiosity to step out to the sight. You, who knew England in other
times, will find it difficult, to conceive what an indifference reigns
with regard to ministers and their squabbles. The two Miss Gunnings,[1]
and a late extravagant dinner at White's, are twenty times more the
subject of conversation than the two brothers [Newcastle and Pelham] and
Lord Granville. These are two Irish girls, of no fortune, who are
declared the handsomest women alive. I think their being two so handsome
and both such perfect figures is their chief excellence, for singly I
have seen much handsomer women than either; however, they can't walk in
the park or go to Vauxhall, but such mobs follow them that they are
generally driven away. The dinner was a folly of seven young men, who
bespoke it to the utmost extent of expense: one article was a tart made
of duke cherries from a hot-house; and another, that they tasted but one
glass out of each bottle of champagne. The bill of fare is got into
print, and with good people has produced the apprehension of another
earthquake. Your friend St. Leger was at the head of these luxurious
heroes--he is the hero of all fashion. I never saw more dashing vivacity
and absurdity, with some flashes of parts. He had a cause the other day
for ducking a sharper, and was going to swear: the judge said to him, "I
see, Sir, you are very ready to take an oath." "Yes, my lord," replied
St. Leger, "my father was a judge."

[Footnote 1: One of the Miss Gunnings had singular fortune. She was
married to two Dukes--the Duke of Hamilton, and, after his death, the
Duke of Argyll. She refused a third, the Duke of Bridgewater; and she
was the mother of four--two Dukes of Hamilton and two Dukes of Argyll.
Her sister married the Earl of Coventry. In his "Memoirs of George III."
Walpole mentions that they were so poor while in Dublin that they could
not have been presented to the Lord-Lieutenant if Peg Woffington, the
celebrated actress, had not lent them some clothes.]

We have been overwhelmed with lamentable Cambridge and Oxford dirges on
the Prince's death: there is but one tolerable copy; it is by a young
Lord Stormont, a nephew of Murray, who is much commended. You may
imagine what incense is offered to Stone by the people of Christchurch:
they have hooked in, too, poor Lord Harcourt, and call him _Harcourt the
Wise_! his wisdom has already disgusted the young Prince; "Sir, pray
hold up your head. Sir, for God's sake, turn out your toes!" Such are
Mentor's precepts!

I am glad you receive my letters; as I knew I had been punctual, it
mortified me that you should think me remiss. Thank you for the
transcript from _Bubb[1] de tristibus_! I will keep your secret, though
I am persuaded that a man who had composed such a funeral oration on his
master and himself fully intended that its flowers should not bloom and
wither in obscurity.

[Footnote 1: Bubb means Mr. Bubb Doddington, afterwards Lord Melcombe,
who had written Mr. Mann a letter of most extravagant lamentation on the
death of the Prince of Wales. He was member for Winchelsea, and left
behind him a diary, which was published some years after his death, and
which throws a good deal of light on the political intrigues of the

We have already begun to sell the pictures that had not found place at
Houghton: the sale gives no great encouragement to proceed (though I
fear it must come to that!); the large pictures were thrown away; the
whole-length Vandykes went for a song! I am mortified now at having
printed the catalogue. Gideon the Jew, and Blakiston the independent
grocer, have been the chief purchasers of the pictures sold
already--there, if you love moralizing!

Adieu! I have no more articles to-day for my literary gazette.



STRAWBERRY HILL, _June_ 12, 1753.

I could not rest any longer with the thought of your having no idea of a
place of which you hear so much, and therefore desired Mr. Bentley to
draw you as much idea of it as the post would be persuaded to carry from
Twickenham to Florence. The enclosed enchanted little landscape, then,
is Strawberry Hill; and I will try to explain so much of it to you as
will help to let you know whereabouts we are when we are talking to you;
for it is uncomfortable in so intimate a correspondence as ours not to
be exactly master of every spot where one another is writing, or
reading, or sauntering. This view of the castle is what I have just
finished, and is the only side that will be at all regular. Directly
before it is an open grove, through which you see a field, which is
bounded by a serpentine wood of all kind of trees, and flowering shrubs,
and flowers. The lawn before the house is situated on the top of a small
hill, from whence to the left you see the town and church of Twickenham
encircling a turn of the river, that looks exactly like a seaport in
miniature. The opposite shore is a most delicious meadow, bounded by
Richmond Hill, which loses itself in the noble woods of the park to the
end of the prospect on the right, where is another turn of the river,
and the suburbs of Kingston as luckily placed as Twickenham is on the
left: and a natural terrace on the brow of my hill, with meadows of my
own down to the river, commands both extremities. Is not this a
tolerable prospect? You must figure that all this is perpetually
enlivened by a navigation of boats and barges, and by a road below my
terrace, with coaches, post-chaises, waggons, and horsemen constantly in
motion, and the fields speckled with cows, horses, and sheep. Now you
shall walk into the house. The bow-window below leads into a little
parlour hung with a stone-colour Gothic paper and Jackson's Venetian
prints, which I could never endure while they pretended, infamous as
they are, to be after Titian, &c., but when I gave them this air of
barbarous bas-reliefs, they succeeded to a miracle: it is impossible at
first sight not to conclude that they contain the history of Attila or
Tottila, done about the very aera. From hence, under two gloomy arches,
you come to the hall and staircase, which it is impossible to describe
to you, as it is the most particular and chief beauty of the castle.
Imagine the walls covered with (I call it paper, but it is really paper
painted in perspective to represent) Gothic fretwork: the lightest
Gothic balustrade to the staircase, adorned with antelopes (our
supporters) bearing shields; lean windows fattened with rich saints in
painted glass, and a vestibule open with three arches on the
landing-place, and niches full of trophies of old coats of mail, Indian
shields made of rhinoceros's hides, broadswords, quivers, longbows,
arrows, and spears--all _supposed_ to be taken by Sir Terry Robsart in
the holy wars. But as none of this regards the enclosed drawing, I will
pass to that. The room on the ground-floor nearest to you is a
bedchamber, hung with yellow paper and prints, framed in a new manner,
invented by Lord Cardigan; that is, with black and white borders
printed. Over this is Mr. Chute's bedchamber, hung with red in the same
manner. The bow-window room one pair of stairs is not yet finished; but
in the tower beyond it is the charming closet where I am now writing to
you. It is hung with green paper and water-colour pictures; has two
windows; the one in the drawing looks to the garden, the other to the
beautiful prospect; and the top of each glutted with the richest painted
glass of the arms of England, crimson roses, and twenty other pieces of
green, purple, and historic bits. I must tell you, by the way, that the
castle, when finished, will have two-and-thirty windows enriched with
painted glass. In this closet, which is Mr. Chute's college of Arms, are
two presses with books of heraldry and antiquities, Madame Sevigne's
Letters, and any French books that relate to her and her acquaintance.
Out of this closet is the room where we always live, hung with a blue
and white paper in stripes adorned with festoons, and a thousand plump
chairs, couches, and luxurious settees covered with linen of the same
pattern, and with a bow-window commanding the prospect, and gloomed
with limes that shade half each window, already darkened with painted
glass in chiaroscuro, set in deep blue glass. Under this room is a cool
little hall, where we generally dine, hung with paper to imitate Dutch

I have described so much, that you will begin to think that all the
accounts I used to give you of the diminutiveness of our habitation were
fabulous; but it is really incredible how small most of the rooms are.
The only two good chambers I shall have are not yet built: they will be
an eating-room and a library, each twenty by thirty, and the latter
fifteen feet high. For the rest of the house I could send it you in this
letter as easily as the drawing, only that I should have nowhere to live
till the return of the post. The Chinese summer-house, which you may
distinguish in the distant landscape, belongs to my Lord Radnor. We
pique ourselves upon nothing but simplicity, and have no carvings,
gildings, paintings, inlayings, or tawdry businesses.

You will not be sorry, I believe, by this time to have done with
Strawberry Hill, and to hear a little news. The end of a very dreaming
session has been extremely enlivened by an accidental bill which has
opened great quarrels, and those not unlikely to be attended with
interesting circumstances. A bill to prevent clandestine marriages,[1]
so drawn by the Judges as to clog all matrimony in general, was
inadvertently espoused by the Chancellor; and having been strongly
attacked in the House of Commons by Nugent, the Speaker, Mr. Fox, and
others, the last went very great lengths of severity on the whole body
of the law, and on its chieftain in particular, which, however, at the
last reading, he softened and explained off extremely. This did not
appease: but on the return of the bill to the House of Lords, where our
amendments were to be read, the Chancellor in the most personal terms
harangued against Fox, and concluded with saying that "he despised his
scurrility as much as his adulation and recantation." As Christian
charity is not one of the oaths taken by privy-counsellors, and as it is
not the most eminent virtue in either of the champions, this quarrel is
not likely to be soon reconciled. There are natures whose disposition it
is to patch up political breaches, but whether they will succeed, or try
to succeed in healing this, can I tell you?

[Footnote 1: These clandestine marriages were often called "Fleet
marriages." Lord Stanhope, describing this Act, states that "there was
ever ready a band of degraded and outcast clergymen, prisoners for debt
or for crime, who hovered about the verge of the Fleet prison soliciting
customers, and plying, like porters, for employment.... One of these
wretches, named Keith, had gained a kind of pre-eminence in infamy. On
being told there was a scheme on foot to stop his lucrative traffic, he
declared, with many oaths, he would still be revenged of the Bishops,
that he would buy a piece of ground and outbury them!" ("History of
England," c. 31).]

The match for Lord Granville, which I announced to you, is not
concluded: the flames are cooled in that quarter as well as in others.

I begin a new sheet to you, which does not match with the other, for I
have no more of the same paper here. Dr. Cameron is executed, and died
with the greatest firmness. His parting with his wife the night before
was heroic and tender: he let her stay till the last moment, when being
aware that the gates of the Tower would be locked, he told her so; she
fell at his feet in agonies: he said, "Madam, this was not what you
promised me," and embracing her, forced her to retire: then with the
same coolness looked at the window till her coach was out of sight,
after which he turned about and wept. His only concern seemed to be at
the ignominy of Tyburn: he was not disturbed at the dresser for his
body, or at the fire to burn his bowels.[1] The crowd was so great, that
a friend who attended him could not get away, but was forced to stay and
behold the execution; but what will you say to the minister or priest
that accompanied him? The wretch, after taking leave, went into a
landau, where, not content with seeing the Doctor hanged, he let down
the top of the landau for the better convenience of seeing him
embowelled! I cannot tell you positively that what I hinted of this
Cameron being commissioned from Prussia was true, but so it is believed.
Adieu! my dear child; I think this is a very tolerable letter for

[Footnote 1: "The populace," says Smollett, "though not very subject to
tender emotions, were moved to compassion, and even to tears, by his
behaviour at the place of execution; and many sincere well-wishers of
the present establishment thought that the sacrifice of this victim, at
such a juncture, could not redound either to its honour or security."]

[Illustration: GEORGE MONTAGU.]



ARLINGTON STREET, _May_ 19, 1756.

Nothing will be more agreeable to me than to see you at Strawberry Hill;
the weather does not seem to be of my mind, and will not invite you. I
believe the French have taken the sun. Among other captures, I hear the
King has taken another English mistress, a Mrs. Pope, who took her
degrees in gallantry some years ago. She went to Versailles with the
famous Mrs. Quon: the King took notice of them; he was told they were
not so rigid as _all_ other English women are--mind, I don't give you
any part of this history for authentic; you know we can have no news
from France but what we run.[1] I have rambled so that I forgot what I
intended to say; if ever we can have spring, it must be soon: I propose
to expect you any day you please after Sunday se'nnight, the 30th: let
me know your resolution, and pray tell me in what magazine is the
Strawberry ballad? I should have proposed an earlier day to you, but
next week the Prince of Nassau is to breakfast at Strawberry Hill, and I
know your aversion to clashing with grandeur.

[Footnote 1: "During the winter England was stirred with constantly
recurring alarms of a French invasion.... Addresses were moved in both
Houses entreating or empowering the King to summon over for our defence
some of his Hanoverian troops, and also some of hired Hessians--an
ignominious vote, but carried by large majorities" (Lord Stanhope,
"History of England," c. 22).]

As I have already told you one mob story of a King, I will tell you
another: _they say_, that the night the Hanover troops were voted, _he_
sent Schutz for his German cook, and said, "Get me a very good supper;
get me all de varieties; I don't mind expense."

I tremble lest his Hanoverians should be encamped at Hounslow;
Strawberry would become an inn; all the Misses would breakfast there, to
go and see the camp!

My Lord Denbigh is going to marry a fortune, I forget her name; my Lord
Gower asked him how long the honey-moon would last? He replied, "Don't
tell me of the honey-moon; it is harvest moon with me." Adieu!



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Oct._ 17, 1756.

Lentulus (I am going to tell you no old Roman tale; he is the King of
Prussia's aid-de-camp) arrived yesterday, with ample confirmation of the
victory in Bohemia.[1]--Are not you glad that we have got a victory that
we can at least call _Cousin_? Between six and seven thousand Austrians
were killed: eight Prussian squadrons sustained the _acharnement_, which
is said to have been extreme, of thirty-two squadrons of Austrians: the
pursuit lasted from Friday noon till Monday morning; both our
countrymen, Brown and Keith, performed wonders--we seem to flourish much
when transplanted to Germany--but Germans don't make good manure here!
The Prussian King writes that both Brown and Piccolomini are too
strongly intrenched to be attacked. His Majesty ran _to_ this victory;
not _a la_ Molwitz. He affirms having found in the King of Poland's
cabinet ample justification of his treatment of Saxony--should not one
query whether he had not these proofs in his hands antecedent to the
cabinet? The Dauphiness[2] is said to have flung herself at the King of
France's feet and begged his protection for her father; that he promised
"qu'il le rendroit au centuple au Roi de Prusse."

[Footnote 1: On the 1st of the month Frederic II. had defeated the
Austrian general, Marshal Brown, at Lowositz. It was the first battle of
the Seven Years' War, and was of great political importance as leading
to the capture of Dresden and of laying all Saxony at the mercy of the
conqueror. "_A la_ Molwitz" is an allusion to the first battle in the
war of the Austrian Succession, April 10, 1741, in which Frederic showed
that he was not what Voltaire and Mr. Pitt called "a heaven-born
general;" since on the repulse of his cavalry he gave up all for lost,
and rode from the field, to learn at night that, after his flight, his
second in command, the veteran Marshal Schwerin, had rallied the broken
squadrons, and had obtained a decisive victory.]

[Footnote 2: The Dauphiness was the daughter of Augustus, King of Poland
and Elector of Saxony.]

Peace is made between the courts of Kensington and Kew:[1] Lord Bute,
who had no visible employment at the latter, and yet whose office was
certainly no _sinecure_, is to be Groom of the Stole to the Prince of
Wales; which satisfies. The rest of the family will be named before the
birthday--but I don't know how, as soon as one wound is closed, another
breaks out! Mr. Fox, extremely discontent at having no power, no
confidence, no favour (all entirely engrossed by the old monopolist),
has asked leave to resign. It is not yet granted. If Mr. Pitt will--or
can, accept the seals, probably Mr. Fox will be indulged,--if Mr. Pitt
will not, why then, it is impossible to tell you what will happen.
Whatever happens on such an emergency, with the Parliament so near, with
no time for considering measures, with so bad a past, and so much worse
a future, there certainly is no duration or good in prospect. Unless the
King of Prussia will take our affairs at home as well as abroad to
nurse, I see no possible recovery for us--and you may believe, when a
doctor like him is necessary, I should be full as willing to die of the

[Footnote 1: "The courts of Kensington and Kew"--in other words, of the
King and the Prince of Wales and his mother, to whom George II. was not
very friendly. A scandal, which had no foundation, imputed to the
Princess undue intimacy with the Earl of Bute, who, however, did stand
high in her good graces, and who probably was indebted to them for his
appointment in the next reign to the office of Prime Minister, for which
he had no qualification whatever.]

Well! and so you think we are undone!--not at all; if folly and
extravagance are symptoms of a nation's being at the height of their
glory, as after-observers pretend that they are forerunners of its ruin,
we never were in a more flourishing situation. My Lord Rockingham and my
nephew Lord Orford have made a match of five hundred pounds, between
five turkeys and five geese, to run from Norwich to London. Don't you
believe in the transmigration of souls? And are not you convinced that
this race is between Marquis Sardanapalus and Earl Heliogabalus? And
don't you pity the poor Asiatics and Italians who comforted themselves
on their resurrection with their being geese and turkeys?

Here's another symptom of our glory! The Irish Speaker Mr. Ponsonby has
been _reposing_ himself at _Newmarket_: George Selwyn, seeing him toss
about bank-bills at the hazard-table said, "How easily the Speaker
passes the money-bills!"

You, who live at Florence among vulgar vices and tame slavery, will
stare at these accounts. Pray be acquainted with your own country, while
it is in its lustre. In a regular monarchy the folly of the Prince gives
the tone; in a downright tyranny, folly dares give itself no airs; it is
in a wanton overgrown commonwealth that whim and debauchery intrigue
best together. Ask me which of these governments I prefer--oh! the
last--only I fear it is the least durable.

I have not yet thanked you for your letter of September 18th, with the
accounts of the Genoese treaty and of the Pretender's quarrel with the
Pope--it is a squabble worthy a Stuart. Were he, here, as absolute as
any Stuart ever wished to be, who knows with all his bigotry but he
might favour us with a reformation and the downfall of the mass? The
ambition of making a Duke of York vice-chancellor of holy church would
be as good a reason for breaking with holy church, as Harry the Eighth's
was for quarrelling with it, because it would not excuse him from going
to bed to his sister after it had given him leave.

I wish I could tell you that your brother mends! indeed I don't think he
does: nor do I know what to say to him; I have exhausted both arguments
and entreaties, and yet if I thought either would avail, I would gladly
recommence them. Adieu!



ARLINGTON STREET, _Nov._ 4, 1756.

I desired your brother last week to tell you that it was in vain for me
to write while everything was in such confusion. The chaos is just as
far from being dispersed now; I only write to tell you what has been its
motions. One of the Popes, I think, said soon after his accession, he
did not think it had been so easy to govern. What would he have thought
of such a nation as this, engaged in a formidable war, without any
government at all, literally, for above a fortnight! The foreign
ministers have not attempted to transact any business since yesterday
fortnight. For God's sake, what do other countries say of us?--but hear
the progress of our interministerium.

When Mr. Fox had declared his determination of resigning, great offers
were sent to Mr. Pitt; his demands were much greater, accompanied with a
total exclusion of the Duke of Newcastle. Some of the latter's friends
would have persuaded him, as the House of Commons is at his devotion, to
have undertaken the government against both Pitt and Fox; but fears
preponderated. Yesterday se'nnight his grace declared his resolution of
retiring, with all that satisfaction of mind which must attend a man
whom not one man of sense will trust any longer. The King sent for Mr.
Fox, and bid him try if Mr. Pitt would join him. The latter, without any
hesitation, refused. In this perplexity the King ordered the Duke of
Devonshire to try to compose some Ministry for him, and sent him to
Pitt, to try to accommodate with Fox. Pitt, with a list of terms a
little modified, was ready to engage, but on condition that Fox should
have no employment in the cabinet. Upon this plan negotiations have been
carrying on for this week. Mr. Pitt and Mr. Legge, whose whole party
consists of from twelve to sixteen persons, exclusive of Leicester House
(of that presently), concluded they were entering on the government as
Secretary of State and Chancellor of the Exchequer: but there is so
great unwillingness to give it up totally into their hands, that all
manner of expedients have been projected to get rid of their proposals,
or to limit their power. Thus the case stands at this instant: the
Parliament has been put off for a fortnight, to gain time; the Lord
knows whether that will suffice to bring on any sort of temper! In the
meantime the government stands still; pray Heaven the war may too! You
will wonder how fifteen or sixteen persons can be of such importance. In
the first place, their importance has been conferred on them, and has
been notified to the nation by these concessions and messages; next,
Minorca[1] is gone; Oswego gone;[2] the nation is in a ferment; some
very great indiscretions in delivering a Hanoverian soldier from prison
by a warrant from the Secretary of State have raised great difficulties;
instructions from counties, boroughs, especially from the City of
London, in the style of 1641, and really in the spirit of 1715 and 1745,
have raised a great flame; and lastly, the countenance of Leicester
House, which Mr. Pitt is supposed to have, and which Mr. Legge thinks he
has, all these tell Pitt that he may command such numbers without doors
as may make the majorities within the House tremble.

[Footnote 1: Minorca had been taken by the Duc de Richelieu; Admiral
Byng, after an indecisive action with the French fleet, having adopted
the idea that he should not be able to save it, for which, as is too
well known, he was condemned to death by a court-martial.]

[Footnote 2: "_Oswego gone._" "A detachment of the enemy was defeated by
Colonel Broadstreet on the river Onondaga; on the other hand, the small
forts of Ontario and Oswego were reduced by the French" (Lord Stanhope,
"History of England," c. 33).]

Leicester House[1] is by some thought inclined to more pacific measures.
Lord Bute's being established Groom of the Stole has satisfied. They
seem more occupied in disobliging all their new court than in disturbing
the King's. Lord Huntingdon, the new Master of the Horse to the Prince,
and Lord Pembroke, one of his Lords, have not been spoken to. Alas! if
the present storms should blow over, what seeds for new! You must guess
at the sense of this paragraph, which it is difficult, at least
improper, to explain to you; though you could not go into a coffee-house
here where it would not be interpreted to you. One would think all those
little politicians had been reading the Memoirs of the minority of Louis

[Footnote 1: Leicester House was the London residence of the young
Prince of Wales.]

There has been another great difficulty: the season obliging all camps
to break up, the poor Hanoverians have been forced to continue soaking
in theirs. The county magistrates have been advised that they are not
obliged by law to billet foreigners on public-houses, and have refused.
Transports were yesterday ordered to carry away the Hanoverians! There
are eight thousand men taken from America; for I am sure we can spare
none from hence. The negligence and dilatoriness of the ministers at
home, the wickedness of our West Indian governors, and the little-minded
quarrels of the regulars and irregular forces, have reduced our affairs
in that part of the world to a most deplorable state. Oswego, of ten
times more importance even than Minorca, is so annihilated that we
cannot learn the particulars.

My dear Sir, what a present and future picture have I given you! The
details are infinite, and what I have neither time, nor, for many
reasons, the imprudence to send by the post: your good sense will but
too well lead you to develop them. The crisis is most melancholy and
alarming. I remember two or three years ago I wished for more active
times, and for events to furnish our correspondence. I think I could
write you a letter almost as big as my Lord Clarendon's History. What a
bold man is he who shall undertake the administration! How much shall we
be obliged to him! How mad is he, whoever is ambitious of it! Adieu!



STRAWBERRY HILL, _July_ 4, 1757.

My Dear Lord,--It is well I have not obeyed you sooner, as I have often
been going to do: what a heap of lies and contradictions I should have
sent you! What joint ministries and sole ministries! What acceptances
and resignations!--Viziers and bowstrings never succeeded one another
quicker. Luckily I have stayed till we have got an administration that
will last a little more than for ever. There is such content and harmony
in it, that I don't know whether it is not as perfect as a plan which I
formed for Charles Stanhope, after he had plagued me for two days for
news. I told him the Duke of Newcastle was to take orders, and have the
reversion of the bishopric of Winchester; that Mr. Pitt was to have a
regiment, and go over to the Duke; and Mr. Fox to be chamberlain to the
Princess, in the room of Sir William Irby. Of all the new system I
believe the happiest is Offley; though in great humility he says he only
takes the bedchamber _to accommodate_. Next to him in joy is the Earl of
Holdernesse--who has not got the garter. My Lord Waldegrave has; and
the garter by this time I believe has got fifty spots.

Had I written sooner, I should have told your lordship, too, of the King
of Prussia's triumphs[1]--but they are addled too! I hoped to have had a
few bricks from Prague to send you towards building Mr. Bentley's
design, but I fear none will come from thence this summer. Thank God,
the happiness of the menagerie does not depend upon administrations or
victories! The happiest of beings in this part of the world is my Lady
Suffolk: I really think her acquisition and conclusion of her law-suit
will lengthen her life ten years. You may be sure I am not so satisfied,
as Lady Mary [Coke] has left Sudbroke.

[Footnote 1: On the 6th of May Frederic defeated the Austrian army under
Prince Charles of Lorraine and Marshal Brown in the battle of Prague.
Brown was killed, as also was the Prussian Marshal, Schwerin; indeed,
the King lost eighteen thousand men--nearly as many as had fallen on the
side of the enemy; and the Austrian disaster was more than retrieved by
the great victory of Kolin, gained by Marshal Daun, June 18th, to which
Walpole probably alludes when he says Frederic's "triumphs are addled."]

Are your charming lawns burnt up like our humble hills? Is your sweet
river as low as our deserted Thames?--I am wishing for a handful or two
of those floods that drowned me last year all the way from Wentworth
Castle. I beg my best compliments to my lady, and my best wishes that
every pheasant egg and peacock egg may produce as many colours as a

_Tuesday, July 5th._

Luckily, my good lord, my conscience had saved its distance. I had writ
the above last night, when I received the honour of your kind letter
this morning. You had, as I did not doubt, received accounts of all our
strange histories. For that of the pretty Countess [of Coventry], I fear
there is too much truth in all you have heard: but you don't seem to
know that Lord Corydon and Captain Corydon his brother have been most
abominable. I don't care to write scandal; but when I see you, I will
tell you how much the chits deserve to be whipped. Our favourite general
[Conway] is at his camp: Lady Ailesbury don't go to him these three
weeks. I expect the pleasure of seeing her and Miss Rich and Fred.
Campbell here soon for a few days. I don't wonder your lordship likes
St. Philippe better than Torcy:[1] except a few passages interesting to
Englishmen, there cannot be a more dry narration than the latter. There
is an addition of seven volumes of Universal History to Voltaire's
Works, which I think will charm you: I almost like it the best of his
works. It is what you have seen extended, and the Memoirs of Louis XIV.
_refondues_ in it. He is a little tiresome with contradicting La
Beaumelle and Voltaire, one remains with scarce a fixed idea about that
time. I wish they would produce their authorities and proofs; without
which, I am grown to believe neither. From mistakes in the English part,
I suppose there are great ones in the more distant histories; yet
altogether it is a fine work. He is, as one might believe, worst
informed on the present times.--He says eight hundred persons were put
to death for the last Rebellion--I don't believe a quarter of the number
were: and he makes the first Lord Derwentwater--who, poor man! was in no
such high-spirited mood--bring his son, who by the way was not above a
year and a half old, upon the scaffold to be sprinkled with his
blood.--However, he is in the right to expect to be believed: for he
believes all the romances in Lord Anson's Voyage, and how Admiral
Almanzor made one man-of-war box the ears of the whole empire of
China!--I know nothing else new but a new edition of Dr. Young's Works.
If your lordship thinks like me, who hold that even in his most frantic
rhapsodies there are innumerable fine things, you will like to have this
edition. Adieu, once more, my best lord!

[Footnote 1: Torcy had been Secretary of State in the time of Louis
XIV., and was the diplomatist who arranged the details of the First
Partition Treaty with William III.]



[Footnote 1: Mr. Zouch was the squire and vicar of Sandhill, in

STRAWBERRY HILL, _August_ 3, 1758.

Sir,--I have received, with much pleasure and surprise, the favour of
your remarks upon my Catalogue; and whenever I have the opportunity of
being better known to you, I shall endeavour to express my gratitude for
the trouble you have given yourself in contributing to perfect a work,
which, notwithstanding your obliging expressions, I fear you found very
little worthy the attention of so much good sense and knowledge, Sir, as
you possess.

I am extremely thankful for all the information you have given me; I had
already met with a few of the same lights as I have received, Sir, from
you, as I shall mention in their place. The very curious accounts of
Lord Fairfax were entirely new and most acceptable to me. If I decline
making use of one or two of your hints, I believe I can explain my
reasons to your satisfaction. I will, with your leave, go regularly
through your letter.

As Caxton[1] laboured in the monastery of Westminster, it is not at all
unlikely that he should wear the habit, nor, considering how vague our
knowledge of that age is, impossible but he might enter the order.

[Footnote 1: Mr. Zouch had expressed a doubt whether a portrait of a man
in a clerical garb could possibly be meant for Caxton, and Mr. Cole and
three of Walpole's literary correspondents suggested that it was
probably a portrait of Jehan de Jeonville, Provost of Paris.]

I have met with Henry's institution of a Christian, and shall give you
an account of it in my next edition. In that, too, I shall mention, that
Lord Cobham's allegiance professed at his death to Richard II., probably
means to Richard and his right heirs whom he had abandoned for the house
of Lancaster. As the article is printed off, it is too late to say
anything more about his works.

In all the old books of genealogy you will find, Sir, that young Richard
Duke of York was solemnly married to a child of his own age, Anne
Mowbray, the heiress of Norfolk, who died young as well as he.

The article of the Duke of Somerset is printed off too; besides, I
should imagine the letter you mention not to be of his own composition,
for, though not illiterate, he certainly could not write anything like
classic Latin. I may, too, possibly have inclusively mentioned the very
letter; I have not Ascham's book, to see from what copy the letter was
taken, but probably from one of those which I have said is in Bennet

The Catalogue of Lord Brooke's works is taken from the volume of his
works; such pieces of his as I found doubted, particularly the tragedy
of Cicero, I have taken notice of as doubtful.

In my next edition you will see, Sir, a note on Lord Herbert, who,
besides being with the King at York, had offended the peers by a speech
in his Majesty's defence. Mr. Wolseley's preface I shall mention, from
your information. Lord Rochester's letters to his son are letters to a
child, bidding him mind his book and his grandmother. I had already been
told, Sir, what you tell me of Marchmont Needham.

Matthew Clifford I have altered to Martin, as you prescribed; the
blunder was my own, as well as a more considerable one, that of Lord
Sandwich's death--which was occasioned by my supposing, at first, that
the translation of Barba was made by the second Earl, whose death I had
marked in the list, and forgot to alter, after I had writ the account of
the father. I shall take care to set this right, as the second volume
is not yet begun to be printed.

Lord Halifax's Maxims I have already marked down, as I shall Lord
Dorset's share in Pompey.

The account of the Duke of Wharton's death I had from a very good
hand--Captain Willoughby; who, in the convent where the Duke died, saw a
picture of him in the habit. If it was a Bernardine convent, the
gentleman might confound them; but, considering that there is no life of
the Duke but bookseller's trash, it is much more likely that they

I have no doubts about Lord Belhaven's speeches; but unless I could
verify their being published by himself, it were contrary to my rule to
insert them.

If you look, Sir, into Lord Clarendon's account of Montrose's death, you
will perceive that there is no probability of the book of his actions
being composed by himself.

I will consult Sir James Ware's book on Lord Totness's translation; and
I will mention the Earl of Cork's Memoirs.

Lord Leppington is the Earl of Monmouth, in whose article I have taken
notice of his Romulus and Tarquin.

Lord Berkeley's book I have actually got, and shall give him an article.

There is one more passage, Sir, in your letter, which I cannot answer,
without putting you to new trouble--a liberty which all your indulgence
cannot justify me in taking; else I would beg to know on what authority
you attribute to Laurence Earl of Rochester[1] the famous preface to
his father's history, which I have always heard ascribed to Atterbury,
Smallridge, and Aldridge.[2] The knowledge of this would be an
additional favour; it would be a much greater, Sir, if coming this way,
you would ever let me have the honour of seeing a gentleman to whom I am
so much obliged.

[Footnote 1: The Earl of Rochester was the second son of the Earl of
Clarendon. He was Lord Treasurer under James II., but was dismissed
because he refused to change his religion (Macaulay's "History of
England," c. 6).]

[Footnote 2: Atterbury was the celebrated Bishop of Rochester,
Smallridge was Bishop of Bristol, and Aldridge (usually written Aldrich)
was Dean of Christchurch, Oxford, equally well known for his treatise on
Logic and his five reasons for drinking--

Good wine, a friend, or being dry;
Or lest you should be by and by,
Or any other reason why--]



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Oct._ 21, 1758.

Sir,--Every letter I receive from you is a new obligation, bringing me
new information: but, sure, my Catalogue was not worthy of giving you so
much trouble. Lord Fortescue is quite new to me; I have sent him to the
press. Lord Dorset's[1] poem it will be unnecessary to mention
separately, as I have already said that his works are to be found among
those of the minor poets.

[Footnote 1: Lord Dorset, Lord Chamberlain under Charles II., author of
the celebrated ballad "To all you ladies now on land," and patron of
Dryden and other literary men, was honourably mentioned as such by
Macaulay in c. 8 of his "History," and also for his refusal, as
Lord-Lieutenant of Essex, to comply with some of James's illegal

I don't wonder, Sir, that you prefer Lord Clarendon to Polybius[1]; nor
can two authors well be more unlike: the _former_ wrote a general
history in a most obscure and almost unintelligible style; the _latter_,
a portion of private history, in the noblest style in the world. Whoever
made the comparison, I will do them the justice to believe that they
understood bad Greek better than their own language in its elevation.
For Dr. Jortin's[2] Erasmus, which I have very nearly finished, it has
given me a good opinion of the author, and he has given me a very bad
one of his subject. By the Doctor's labour and impartiality, Erasmus
appears a begging parasite, who had parts enough to discover truth, and
not courage enough to profess it: whose vanity made him always writing;
yet his writings ought to have cured his vanity, as they were the most
abject things in the world. _Good Erasmus's honest mean_ was alternate
time-serving. I never had thought much about him, and now heartily
despise him.

[Footnote 1: "_You prefer Lord Clarendon to Polybius._" It is hard to
understand this sentence. Lord Clarendon did _not_ write a general
history, but an account of a single event, "The Great Rebellion." It was
Polybius who wrote a "Universal History," of which, however, only five
books have been preserved, the most interesting portion of which is a
narrative of Hannibal's invasion of Italy and march over the Alps in the
Second Punic War.]

[Footnote 2: Dr. Jortin was Archdeacon of London; and, among other
works, had recently published a life of the celebrated Erasmus, the
mention of whom by Pope, which Walpole presently quotes, is not very
unfairly interpreted by Walpole.]

When I speak my opinion to you, Sir, about what I dare say you care as
little for as I do, (for what is the merit of a mere man of letters?) it
is but fit I should answer you as sincerely on a question about which
you are so good as to interest yourself. That my father's life is likely
to be written, I have no grounds for believing. I mean I know nobody
that thinks of it. For, myself, I certainly shall not, for many reasons,
which you must have the patience to hear. A reason to me myself is, that
I think too highly of him, and too meanly of myself, to presume I am
equal to the task. They who do not agree with me in the former part of
my position, will undoubtedly allow the latter part. In the next place,
the very truths that I should relate would be so much imputed to
partiality, that he would lose of his due praise by the suspicion of my
prejudice. In the next place, I was born too late in his life to be
acquainted with him in the active part of it. Then I was at school, at
the university, abroad, and returned not till the last moments of his
administration. What I know of him I could only learn from his own mouth
in the last three years of his life; when, to my shame, I was so idle,
and young, and thoughtless, that I by no means profited of his leisure
as I might have done; and, indeed, I have too much impartiality in my
nature to care, if I could, to give the world a history, collected
solely from the person himself of whom I should write. With the utmost
veneration for his truth, I can easily conceive, that a man who had
lived a life of party, and who had undergone such persecution from
party, should have had greater bias than he himself could be sensible
of. The last, and that a reason which must be admitted, if all the
others are not--his papers are lost. Between the confusion of his
affairs, and the indifference of my elder brother to things of that
sort, they were either lost, burnt, or what we rather think, were stolen
by a favourite servant of my brother, who proved a great rogue, and was
dismissed in my brother's life; and the papers were not discovered to be
missing till after my brother's death. Thus, Sir, I should want vouchers
for many things I could say of much importance. I have another personal
reason that discourages me from attempting this task, or any other,
besides the great reluctance that I have to being a voluminous author.
Though I am by no means the learned man you are so good as to call me in
compliment; though, on the contrary, nothing can be more superficial
than my knowledge, or more trifling than my reading,--yet, I have so
much strained my eyes, that it is often painful to me to read even a
newspaper by daylight. In short, Sir, having led a very dissipated life,
in all the hurry of the world of pleasure, I scarce ever read but by
candlelight, after I have come home late at nights. As my eyes have
never had the least inflammation or humour, I am assured I may still
recover them by care and repose. I own I prefer my eyes to anything I
could ever read, much more to anything I could write. However, after
all I have said, perhaps I may now and then, by degrees, throw together
some short anecdotes of my father's private life and particular story,
and leave his public history to more proper and more able hands, if such
will undertake it. Before I finish on this chapter, I can assure you he
did forgive my Lord Bolingbroke[1]--his nature was forgiving: after all
was over, and he had nothing to fear or disguise, I can say with truth,
that there were not _three_ men of whom he ever dropped a word with
rancour. What I meant of the clergy not forgiving Lord Bolingbroke,
alluded not to his doctrines, but to the direct attack and war he made
on the whole body. And now, Sir, I will confess my own weakness to you.
I do not think so highly of that writer, as I seem to do in my book; but
I thought it would be imputed to prejudice in me, if I appeared to
undervalue an author of whom so many persons of sense still think
highly. My being Sir Robert Walpole's son warped me to praise, instead
of censuring Lord Bolingbroke. With regard to the Duke of Leeds,[2] I
think you have misconstrued the decency of my expression. I said,
_Burnet_[3] _had treated him severely_; that is, I chose that Burnet
should say so, rather than myself. I have never praised where my heart
condemned. Little attentions, perhaps, to worthy descendants, were
excusable in a work of so extensive a nature, and that approached so
near to these times. I may, perhaps, have an opportunity, at one day or
other of showing you some passages suppressed on these motives, which
yet I do not intend to destroy.

[Footnote 1: Sir R. Walpole was so far from having any personal quarrel
with Bolingbroke, that he took off so much of his outlawry as banished
him, though he would not allow him to take his seat in the House of

[Footnote 2: This celebrated statesman was originally Sir Thomas
Osborne. On the dissolution of the Cabal Ministry he was raised to the
peerage as Earl of Danby, and was appointed Lord Treasurer. An attempt
to impeach him, which was prompted by Louis XIV., was baffled by
Charles. Under William III. he was appointed President of the Council,
being the recognised leader of the Tory section of the Ministry; and in
the course of the reign he was twice promoted--first to be Marquis of
Carmarthen, and subsequently to be Duke of Leeds.]

[Footnote 3: Burnet, the Bishop of Salisbury, to whose "Memoirs of His
Own Time" all subsequent historians are greatly indebted. He accompanied
William to England as his chaplain.]

Crew,[1] Bishop of Durham, was as abject a tool as possible. I would be
very certain he is an author before I should think him worth mentioning.
If ever you should touch on Lord Willoughby's sermon, I should be
obliged for a hint of it. I actually have a printed copy of verses by
his son, on the marriage of the Princess Royal; but they are so
ridiculously unlike measure, and the man was so mad and so poor, that I
determined not to mention him.

[Footnote 1: Crew was Bishop of Durham. He is branded by Macaulay (c. 6)
as "mean, vain, and cowardly." He accepted a seat on James's
Ecclesiastical Commission, and when "some of his friends represented to
him the risk which he ran by sitting on an illegal tribunal, he was not
ashamed to answer that he could not live out of the royal smile."]

If these details, Sir, which I should have thought interesting to no
mortal but myself, should happen to amuse you, I shall be glad; if they
do not, you will learn not to question a man who thinks it his duty to
satisfy the curiosity of men of sense and honour, and who, being of too
little consequence to have secrets, is not ambitious of the less
consequence of appearing to have any.

P.S.--I must ask you one question, but to be answered entirely at your
leisure. I have a play in rhyme called "Saul," said to be written by a
peer. I guess Lord Orrery. If ever you happen to find out, be so good to
tell me.



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Oct._ 24, 1758.

It is a very melancholy present I send you here, my dear Sir; yet,
considering the misfortune that has befallen us, perhaps the most
agreeable I could send you. You will not think it the bitterest tear you
have shed when you drop one over this plan of an urn inscribed with the
name of your dear brother, and with the testimonial of my eternal
affection to him! This little monument is at last placed over the pew of
your family at Linton [in Kent], and I doubt whether any tomb was ever
erected that spoke so much truth of the departed, and flowed from so
much sincere friendship in the living. The thought was my own, adopted
from the antique columbaria, and applied to Gothic. The execution of the
design was Mr. Bentley's, who alone, of all mankind, could unite the
grace of Grecian architecture and the irregular lightness and solemnity
of Gothic. Kent and many of our builders sought this, but have never
found it. Mr. Chute, who has as much taste as Mr. Bentley, thinks this
little sketch a perfect model. The soffite is more beautiful than
anything of either style separate. There is a little error in the
inscription; it should be _Horatius Walpole posuit_. The urn is of
marble, richly polished; the rest of stone. On the whole, I think there
is simplicity and decency, with a degree of ornament that destroys

What do you say in Italy on the assassination of the King of
Portugal?[1] Do you believe that Portuguese subjects lift their hand
against a monarch for gallantry? Do you believe that when a slave
murders an absolute prince, he goes a walking with his wife the next
morning and murders her too? Do you believe the dead King is alive? and
that the Jesuits are as _wrongfully_ suspected of this assassination as
they have been of many others they have committed? If you do believe
this, and all this, you are not very near turning Protestants. It is
scarce talked of here, and to save trouble, we admit just what the
Portuguese Minister is ordered to publish. The King of Portugal
murdered, throws us two hundred years back--the King of Prussia _not_
murdered, carries us two hundred years forward again.

[Footnote 1: The Duke of Aveiro was offended with the King of Portugal
for interfering to prevent his son's marriage, and, in revenge, he
plotted his assassination. He procured the co-operation of some other
nobles, especially the Marquis and Marchioness of Tavora, and also of
some of the chief Jesuits in the country, who promised absolution to any
assassin. The attempt was made on September 3rd, when the King was fired
at and severely wounded. The conspirators were all convicted and
executed, and the Jesuits were expelled from the country.]

Another King, I know, has had a little blow: the Prince de Soubise has
beat some Isenbourgs and Obergs, and is going to be Elector of Hanover
this winter. There has been a great sickness among our troops in the
other German army; the Duke of Marlborough has been in great danger, and
some officers are dead. Lord Frederick Cavendish is returned from
France. He confirms and adds to the amiable accounts we had received of
the Duc d'Aiguillon's[1] behaviour to our prisoners. You yourself, the
pattern of attentions and tenderness, could not refine on what he has
done both in good-nature and good-breeding: he even forbad any ringing
of bells or rejoicings wherever they passed--but how your representative
blood will curdle when you hear of the absurdity of one of your
countrymen: the night after the massacre at St. Cas, the Duc d'Aiguillon
gave a magnificent supper of eighty covers to our prisoners--a Colonel
Lambert got up at the bottom of the table, and asking for a bumper,
called out to the Duc, "My Lord Duke, here's the Roy de Franse!" You
must put all the English you can crowd into the accent. _My Lord Duke_
was so confounded at this preposterous compliment, which it was
impossible for him to return, that he absolutely sank back into his
chair and could not utter a syllable: our own people did not seem to
feel more.

[Footnote 1: The Duc d'Aiguillon was governor of Brittany when the
disastrous attempt of the Duke of Marlborough on St. Cast was repulsed.
But he did not get much credit for the defeat. Lacretelle mentions that:
"Les Bretons qui le considerent comme leur tyran pretendent qu'il
l'etait tenu cache pendant le combat" (iii. 345). He was subsequently
prosecuted on charges of peculation and subornation, which the
Parliament declared to be fully established, but Mme. de Barri persuaded
Louis to cancel their resolution.]

You will read and hear that we have another expedition sailing,
somewhither in the West Indies. Hobson, the commander, has in his whole
life had but one stroke of a palsy, so possibly may retain half of his
understanding at least. There is a great tranquillity at home, but I
should think not promising duration. The disgust in the army on the late
frantic measures will furnish some warmth probably to Parliament--and if
the French should think of returning our visits, should you wonder?
There are even rumours of some stirring among your little neighbours at
Albano--keep your eye on them--if you could discover anything in time,
it would do you great credit. _Apropos_ to _them_, I will send you an
epigram that I made the other day on Mr. Chute's asking why Taylor the
oculist called himself Chevalier?[1]

[Footnote 1: Walpole was proud of the epigram, for the week before he
had sent it to Lady Hervey. It was--

Why Taylor the quack calls himself Chevalier
'Tis not easy a reason to render,
Unless blinding eyes that he thinks to make clear
Demonstrates he's but a _Pretender_.

Le Chevalier was the name commonly given in courtesy by both parties to
Prince Charles Edward in 1745. Colonel Talbot says: "'Well, I never
thought to have been so much indebted to the Pretend--' 'To the Prince,'
said Waverley, smiling. 'To the Chevalier,' said the Colonel; 'it is a
good travelling name which we may both freely use'" ("Waverley," c.



ARLINGTON STREET, _Dec._ 9, 1758.

Sir,--I have desired Mr. Whiston to convey to you the second edition of
my Catalogue, not so complete as it might have been, if great part had
not been printed before I received your remarks, but yet more correct
than the first sketch with which I troubled you. Indeed, a thing of this
slight and idle nature does not deserve to have much more pains employed
upon it.

I am just undertaking an edition of Lucan, my friend Mr. Bentley having
in his possession his father's notes and emendations on the first seven
books. Perhaps a partiality for the original author concurs a little
with this circumstance of the notes, to make me fond of printing, at
Strawberry Hill, the works of a man who, alone of all the classics, was
thought to breathe too brave and honest a spirit for the perusal of the
Dauphin and the French. I don't think that a good or bad taste in poetry
is of so serious a nature, that I should be afraid of owning too, that,
with that great judge Corneille, and with that, perhaps, _no_ judge
Heinsius, I prefer Lucan to Virgil. To speak fairly, I prefer great
sense, to poetry with little sense. There are hemistichs in Lucan that
go to one's soul and one's heart;--for a mere epic poem, a fabulous
tissue of uninteresting battles that don't teach one even to fight, I
know nothing more tedious. The poetic images, the versification and
language of the Aeneid are delightful; but take the story by itself, and
can anything be more silly and unaffecting? There are a few gods without
power, heroes without character, heaven-directed wars without justice,
inventions without probability, and a hero who betrays one woman with a
kingdom that he might have had, to force himself upon another woman and
another kingdom to which he had no pretensions, and all this to show his
obedience to the gods! In short, I have always admired his numbers so
much, and his meaning so little, that I think I should like Virgil
better if I understood him less.

Have you seen, Sir, a book which has made some noise--"Helvetius de
l'Esprit"[1]? The author is so good and moral a man, that I grieve he
should have published a system of as relaxed morality as can well be
imagined: 'tis a large quarto, and in general a very superficial one.
His philosophy may be new in France, but it greatly exhausted here. He
tries to imitate Montesquieu,[2] and has heaped common-places upon
common-places, which supply or overwhelm his reasoning; yet he has
often wit, happy allusions, and sometimes writes finely: there is merit
enough to give an obscure man fame; flimsiness enough to depreciate a
great man. After his book was licensed, they forced him to retract it by
a most abject recantation. Then why print this work? If zeal for his
system pushed him to propagate it, did not he consider that a
recantation would hurt his cause more than his arguments could support

[Footnote 1: Helvetius was the son of the French king's physician. His
book was condemned by the Parliament of Paris as derogatory to the
nature of man.]

[Footnote 2: Montesquieu was President of the Parliament of Bordeaux. He
was a voluminous writer, his most celebrated work being his "L'Esprit
des Lois." Burke described him as "A genius not born in every country,
or every time: with a Herculean robustness of mind; and nerves not to be
broken by labour."]

We are promised Lord Clarendon in February from Oxford, but I hear shall
have the surreptitious edition from Holland much sooner.

You see, Sir, I am a sceptic as well as Helvetius, but of a more
moderate complexion. There is no harm in telling mankind that there is
not so much divinity in the Aeneid as they imagine; but, even if I
thought so, I would not preach that virtue and friendship are mere
names, and resolvable into self-interest; because there are numbers that
would remember the grounds of the principle, and forget what was to be
engrafted on it. Adieu!



ARLINGTON STREET, _Jan._ 19, 1759.

I hope the treaty of Sluys[1] advances rapidly. Considering that your
own court is as new to you as Monsieur de Bareil and his, you cannot be
very well entertained: the joys of a Dutch fishing town and the
incidents of a cartel will not compose a very agreeable history. In the
mean time you do not lose much; though the Parliament is met, no
politics are come to town; one may describe the House of Commons like
the price of stocks--Debates, nothing done. Votes, under par. Patriots,
no price. Oratory, books shut. Love and war are as much at a stand;
neither the Duchess of Hamilton, nor the expeditions are gone off yet.
Prince Edward has asked to go to Quebec, and has been refused. If I was
sure they would refuse me, I would ask to go thither too. I should not
dislike about as much laurel as I could stick in my window at Christmas.

[Footnote 1: Treaty of Sluys. Conway was engaged at Sluys negotiating
with the French envoy, M. de Bareil, for an exchange of prisoners.]

We are next week to have a serenata at the Opera-house for the King of
Prussia's birthday; it is to begin, "Viva Georgio, e Frederigo viva!" It
will, I own, divert me to see my Lord Temple whispering _for_ this
alliance, on the same bench on which I have so often seen him whisper
_against_ all Germany. The new opera pleases universally, and I hope
will yet hold up its head. Since Vanneschi is cunning enough to make us
sing _the roast beef of old Germany_, I am persuaded it will revive;
politics are the only hot-bed for keeping such a tender plant as Italian
music alive in England.

You are so thoughtless about your dress, that I cannot help giving you a
little warning against your return. Remember, everybody that comes from
abroad is _cense_ to come from France, and whatever they wear at their
first reappearance immediately grows the fashion. Now if, as is very
likely, you should through inadvertence change hats with a master of a
Dutch smack, Offley will be upon the watch, will conclude you took your
pattern from M. de Bareil, and in a week's time we shall all be equipped
like Dutch skippers. You see I speak very disinterestedly; for, as I
never wear a hat myself, it is indifferent to me what sort of hat I
don't wear. Adieu! I hope nothing in this letter, if it is opened, will
affect _the conferences_, nor hasten our rupture with Holland. Lest it
should, I send it to Lord Holdernesse's office; concluding, like Lady
Betty Waldegrave, that the Government never suspect what they send under
their own covers.



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Feb._ 25, 1759.

I think, Sir, I have perceived enough of the amiable benignity of your
mind, to be sure that you will like to hear the praises of your
friend.[1] Indeed, there is but one opinion about Mr. Robertson's
"History [of Scotland]." I don't remember any other work that ever met
universal approbation. Since the Romans and the Greeks, who have _now_
an exclusive charter for being the best writers in every kind, he is the
historian that pleases me best; and though what he has been so indulgent
as to say of me ought to shut my mouth, I own I have been unmeasured in
my commendations. I have forfeited my own modesty rather than not do
justice to him. I did send him my opinion some time ago, and hope he
received it. I can add, with the strictest truth, that he is regarded
here as one of the greatest men that this island has produced. I say
_island_, but you know, Sir, that I am disposed to say _Scotland_. I
have discovered another very agreeable writer among your countrymen, and
in a profession where I did not look for an author; it is Mr. Ramsay,
the painter, whose pieces being anonymous, have been overlooked. He has
a great deal of genuine wit, and a very just manner of reasoning. In his
own walk, he has great merit. He and Mr. Reynolds are our favourite
painters, and two of the very best we ever had. Indeed, the number of
good has been very small, considering the numbers there are. A very few
years ago there were computed two thousand portrait-painters in London;
I do not exaggerate the computation, but diminish it; though I think it
must have been exaggerated. Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Ramsay can scarce be
rivals; their manners are so different. The former is bold, and has a
kind of tempestuous colouring, yet with dignity and grace; the latter is
all delicacy. Mr. Reynolds seldom succeeds in women; Mr. Ramsay is
formed to paint them.

[Footnote 1: Sir David was himself a historical writer of some
importance. Macaulay was greatly indebted to his "Memoirs of Great
Britain and Ireland from the Restoration to the Battle of La Hogue." The
secret history and object of the strange attempt on James VI.
(afterwards James I. of England) have been discussed by many writers,
but without any of them succeeding in any very clear or certain
elucidation of the transaction.]

I fear I neglected, Sir, to thank you for your present of the history of
the "Conspiracy of the Gowries"; but I shall never forget all the
obligations I have to you. I don't doubt but in Scotland you approve
what is liked here almost as much as Mr. Robertson's History; I mean the
marriage of Colonel Campbell and the Duchess of Hamilton. If her fortune
is singular, so is her merit. Such uncommon noise as her beauty made has
not at all impaired the modesty of her behaviour. Adieu!



STRAWBERRY HILL, _July_ 11, 1759.

You will repent, Sir, I fear, having drawn such a correspondent upon
yourself. An author flattered and encouraged is not easily shaken off
again; but if the interests of my book did not engage me to trouble you,
while you are so good as to write me the most entertaining letters in
the world, it is very natural for me to lay snares to inveigle more of
them. However, Sir, excuse me this once, and I will be more modest for
the future in trespassing on your kindness. Yet, before I break out on
my new wants, it will be but decent, Sir, to answer some particulars of
your letter.

I have lately read Mr. Goodall's[1] book. There is certainly ingenuity
in parts of his defence; but I believe one seldom thinks a defence
_ingenious_ without meaning that it is unsatisfactory. His work left me
fully convinced of what he endeavoured to disprove; and showed me, that
the piece you mention is not the only one that he has written against

[Footnote 1: Mr. Goodall had published an Essay on the letters put
forward as written by Queen Mary to Bothwell, branding them as
forgeries. The question of their genuineness has been examined with
great acuteness by more than one subsequent writer, and the arguments
against their genuineness are certainly very strong.]

I have lately got Lord Cromerty's "Vindication of the legitimacy of King
Robert [the Third]," and his "Synopsis Apocalyptica," and thank you
much, Sir, for the notice of any of his pieces. But if you expect that
his works should lessen my esteem for the writers of Scotland, you will
please to recollect, that the letter which paints Lord Cromerty's pieces
in so ridiculous a light, is more than a counterbalance in favour of the
writers of your country; and of all men living, Sir, you are the last
who will destroy my partiality for Scotland.

There is another point, Sir, on which, with all your address, you will
persuade me as little. Can I think that we want writers of history while
Mr. Hume and Mr. Robertson are living? It is a truth, and not a
compliment, that I never heard objections made to Mr. Hume's History
without endeavouring to convince the persons who found fault with it,
of its great merit and beauty; and for what I saw of Mr. Robertson's
work, it is one of the purest styles, and of the greatest impartiality,
that I ever read. It is impossible for me to recommend a subject to him;
because I cannot judge of what materials he can obtain. His present
performance will undoubtedly make him so well known and esteemed, that
he will have credit to obtain many new lights for a future history; but
surely those relating to his own country will always lie most open to
him. This is much my way of thinking with regard to myself. Though the
Life of Christina[1] is a pleasing and a most uncommon subject, yet,
totally unacquainted as I am with Sweden and its language, how could I
flatter myself with saying anything new of her? And when original
letters and authentic papers shall hereafter appear, may not they
contradict half one should relate on the authority of what is already
published? for though Memoirs _written_ nearest to the time are likely
to be the truest, those _published_ nearest to it are generally the

[Footnote 1: Queen Christina of Sweden was the daughter and heiress of
the great Gustavus Adolphus. After a time she abdicated the throne and
lived for some time in Paris, where she acted in one respect as if still
possessed of royal authority, actually causing her equerry, Monaldeschi,
to be hung in one of her sitting-rooms.]

But, indeed, Sir, I am now making you only civil excuses; the real one
is, I have no kind of intention of continuing to write. I could not
expect to succeed again with so much luck,--indeed, I think it so,--as I
have done; it would mortify me more now, after a little success, to be
despised, than it would have done before; and if I could please as much
as I should wish to do, I think one should dread being a voluminous
author. My own idleness, too, bids me desist. If I continued, I should
certainly take more pains than I did in my Catalogue; the trouble would
not only be more than I care to encounter, but would probably destroy
what I believe the only merit of my last work, the ease. If I could
incite you to tread in steps which I perceive you don't condemn, and for
which it is evident you are so well qualified, from your knowledge, the
grace, facility, and humour of your expression and manner, I shall have
done a real service, where I expected at best to amuse.



ARLINGTON STREET, _Aug._ 14, 1759.

I am here in the most unpleasant way in the world, attending poor Mrs.
Leneve's death-bed, a spectator of all the horrors of tedious suffering
and clear sense, and with no one soul to speak to--but I will not tire
you with a description of what has quite worn me out.

Probably by this time you have seen the Duke of Richmond or Fitzroy--but
lest you should not, I will tell you all I can learn, and a wonderful
history it is. Admiral Byng was not more unpopular than Lord George
Sackville.[1] I should scruple repeating his story if Betty and the
waiters at Arthur's did not talk of it publicly, and thrust Prince
Ferdinand's orders into one's hand.

[Footnote 1: Lord George was brought to court-martial for disobedience
of orders, and most deservedly cashiered--a sentence which was, not very
becomingly, oveilooked some years afterwards, when, having changed his
name to Germaine on succeeding to a large fortune, and having become a
member of the House of Commons, he was made a Secretary of State by Lord

You have heard, I suppose, of the violent animosities that have reigned
for the whole campaign between him and Lord Granby--in which some other
warm persons have been very warm too. In the heat of the battle, the
Prince, finding thirty-six squadrons of French coming down upon our
army, sent Ligonier to order our thirty-two squadrons, under Lord
George, to advance. During that transaction, the French appeared to
waver; and Prince Ferdinand, willing, as it is supposed, to give the
honour to the British horse of terminating the day, sent Fitzroy to bid
Lord George bring up only the British cavalry. Ligonier had but just
delivered his message, when Fitzroy came with his.--Lord George said,
"This can't be so--would he have me break the line? here is some
mistake." Fitzroy replied, he had not argued upon the orders, but those
were the orders. "Well!" said Lord George, "but I want a guide." Fitzroy
said, he would be his guide. Lord George, "Where is the Prince?"
Fitzroy, "I left him at the head of the left wing, I don't know where he
is now." Lord George said he would go seek him, and have this explained.
Smith then asked Fitzroy to repeat the orders to him; which being done,
Smith went and whispered Lord George, who says he then bid Smith carry
up the cavalry. Smith is come, and says he is ready to answer anybody
any question. Lord George says, Prince Ferdinand's behaviour to him has
been most infamous, has asked leave to resign his command, and to come
over, which is granted. Prince Ferdinand's behaviour is summed up in the
enclosed extraordinary paper: which you will doubt as I did, but which
is certainly genuine. I doubted, because, in the military, I thought
direct disobedience of orders was punished with an immediate arrest, and
because the last paragraph seemed to me very foolish. The going out of
the way to compliment Lord Granby with what he would have done, seems to
take off a little from the compliments paid to those that have done
something; but, in short, Prince Ferdinand or Lord George, one of them,
is most outrageously in the wrong, and the latter has much the least
chance of being thought in the right.

The particulars I tell you, I collected from the most _accurate_
authorities.--I make no comments on Lord George, it would look like a
little dirty court to you; and the best compliment I can make you, is to
think, as I do, that you will be the last man to enjoy this revenge.

You will be sorry for poor M'Kinsey and Lady Betty, who have lost their
only child at Turin. Adieu!



ARLINGTON STREET, _Sept._ 13, 1759.

With your unathletic constitution I think you will have a greater weight
of glory to represent than you can bear. You will be as _epuise_ as
Princess Craon with all the triumphs over Niagara, Ticonderoga,
Crown-point, and such a parcel of long names. You will ruin yourself in
French horns, to exceed those of Marshal Botta, who has certainly found
out a pleasant way of announcing victories. Besides, _all_ the West
Indies, which we have taken by a panic, there is Admiral Boscawen has
demolished the Toulon squadron, and has made _you_ Viceroy of the
Mediterranean. I really believe the French will come hither now, for
they can be safe nowhere else. If the King of Prussia should be totally
undone in Germany,[1] we can afford to give him an appanage, as a
younger son of England, of some hundred thousand miles on the Ohio. Sure
universal monarchy was never so put to shame as that of France! What a
figure do they make! They seem to have no ministers, no generals, no
soldiers! If anything could be more ridiculous than their behaviour in
the field, it would be in the cabinet! Their invasion appears not to
have been designed against us, but against their own people, who, they
fear, will mutiny, and to quiet whom they disperse expresses, with
accounts of the progress of their arms in England. They actually have
established posts, to whom people are directed to send their letters for
their friends _in England_. If, therefore, you hear that the French have
established themselves at Exeter or at Norwich, don't be alarmed, nor
undeceive the poor women who are writing to their husbands for English

[Footnote 1: Frederic the Great had sustained a severe defeat at
Hochkirch in October, 1758, and a still more terrible one in August of
this year from Marshals Laudon and Soltikof at Kunersdorf. It seemed so
irreparable that for a moment he even contemplated putting an end to his
life; but he was saved from the worst consequences of the blow by
jealousies which sprang up between the Austrian and Russian commanders,
and preventing them from profiting by their victory as they might have

We have lost another Princess, Lady Elizabeth.[1] She died of an
inflammation in her bowels in two days. Her figure was so very
unfortunate, that it would have been difficult for her to be happy, but
her parts and application were extraordinary. I saw her act in "Cato" at
eight years old, (when she could not stand alone, but was forced to lean
against the side-scene,) better than any of her brothers and sisters.
She had been so unhealthy, that at that age she had not been taught to
read, but had learned the part of Lucia by hearing the others study
their parts. She went to her father and mother, and begged she might
act. They put her off as gently as they could--she desired leave to
repeat her part, and when she did, it was with so much sense, that there
was no denying her.

[Footnote 1: Second daughter of Frederick, Prince of Wales.--WALPOLE.]

I receive yours of August 25. To all your alarms for the King of
Prussia I subscribe. With little Brandenburgh he could not exhaust all
the forces of Bohemia, Hungary, Austria, Muscovy, Siberia, Tartary,
Sweden, &c., &c., &c.--but not to politicize too much, I believe the
world will come to be fought for somewhere between the North of Germany
and the back of Canada, between Count Daun and Sir William Johnson.[1]

[Footnote 1: Our General in America--WALPOLE.]

You guessed right about the King of Spain; he is dead, and the Queen
Dowager may once more have an opportunity of embroiling the little of
Europe that remains unembroiled.

Thank you, my dear Sir, for the Herculaneum and Caserta that you are
sending me. I wish the watch may arrive safe, to show you that I am not
insensible to all your attentions for me, but endeavour, at a great
distance, to imitate you in the execution of commissions.

I would keep this letter back for a post, that I might have but one
trouble of sending you Quebec too; but when one has taken so many
places, it is not worth while to wait for one more.

Lord George Sackville, the hero of all conversation, if one can be so
for not being a hero, is arrived. He immediately applied for a
Court-Martial, but was told it was impossible now, as the officers
necessary are in Germany. This was in writing from Lord Holdernesse--but
Lord Ligonier in words was more squab--"If he wanted a Court-Martial, he
might go seek it in Germany." All that could be taken from him, is, his
regiment, above two thousand pounds a year: commander in Germany at ten
pounds a day, between three and four thousand pounds: lieutenant-general
of the ordnance, one thousand five hundred pounds: a fort, three hundred
pounds. He remains with a patent place in Ireland of one thousand two
hundred pounds, and about two thousand pounds a year of his own and
wife's. With his parts and ambition it cannot end here; he calls himself
ruined, but when the Parliament meets, he will probably attempt some
sort of revenge.

They attribute, I don't know with what grounds, a sensible kind of plan
to the French; that De la Clue was to have pushed for Ireland, Thurot
for Scotland, and the Brest fleet for England--but before they lay such
great plans, they should take care of proper persons to execute them.[1]

[Footnote 1: De la Clue and the French were this year making unusual
efforts to establish a naval superiority over us, which they never had
done, and never will do. As is mentioned in this letter, one powerful
fleet was placed under De la Clue, another under Conflans, and a strong
squadron under Commodore Thurot. De la Clue, however, for many weeks
kept close in Toulon, resisting every endeavour of Boscawen to tempt him
out, till the English admiral was compelled to retire to Gibraltar for
the repair of some of his ships. De la Clue, not knowing which way he
had gone, thought he could steal through the Straits to join Conflans,
according to his original orders. But Boscawen caught him off Cape
Lagos, and gave him a decisive defeat, capturing five sail of the line,
and among them the flagship _L'Ocean_ (80). Before the end of the year
Hawke almost destroyed the fleet of Conflans, capturing five and driving
the rest on shore; while Thurot, who at first had a gleam of success,
making one or two descents on the northern coast of Ireland, and even
capturing Carrickfergus, had, in the end, worse fortune than either of
his superior officers, being overtaken at the mouth of Belfast Lough by
Captain Elliott with a squadron of nearly equal force, when the whole of
the French squadron was taken and he himself was killed (the Editor's
"History of the British Navy," c. 12).]

I cannot help smiling at the great objects of our letters. We never
converse on a less topic than a kingdom. We are a kind of citizens of
the world, and battles and revolutions are the common incidents of our
neighbourhood. But that is and must be the case of distant
correspondences: Kings and Empresses that we never saw, are the only
persons we can be acquainted with in common. We can have no more
familiarity than the _Daily Advertiser_ would have if it wrote to the
_Florentine Gazette_. Adieu! My compliments to any monarch that lives
within five hundred miles of you.



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Oct._ 21, 1759.

Your pictures shall be sent as soon as any of us go to London, but I
think that will not be till the Parliament meets. Can we easily leave
the remains of such a year as this? It is still all gold.[1] I have not
dined or gone to bed by a fire till the day before yesterday. Instead of
the glorious and ever-memorable year 1759, as the newspapers call it, I
call it this ever-warm and victorious year. We have not had more
conquest than fine weather: one would think we had plundered East and
West Indies of sunshine. Our bells are worn threadbare with ringing for
victories. I believe it will require ten votes of the House of Commons
before people will believe it is the Duke of Newcastle that has done
this, and not Mr. Pitt. One thing is very fatiguing--all the world is
made knights or generals. Adieu! I don't know a word of news less than
the conquest of America. Adieu! yours ever.

[Footnote 1: The immediate cause of this exultation was the battle
(September 14th) and subsequent capture of Quebec. On the other side of
the world Colonel Forde had inflicted severe defeats on the French and
Dutch, and had taken Masulipatam; and besides these triumphs there were
our naval successes mentioned in the last letter, and the battle of

P.S.--You shall hear from me again if we take Mexico or China before

2nd P.S.--I had sealed my letter, but break it open again, having forgot
to tell you that Mr. Cowslade has the pictures of Lord and Lady Cutts,
and is willing to sell them.



ARLINGTON STREET, _Nov._ 8, 1759.

Your pictures will set out on Saturday; I give you notice, that you may
inquire for them. I did not intend to be here these three days, but my
Lord Bath taking the trouble to send a man and horse to ask me to dinner
yesterday, I did not know how to refuse; and besides, as Mr. Bentley
said to me, "you know he was an old friend of your father."

The town is empty, but is coming to dress itself for Saturday. My Lady
Coventry showed George Selwyn her clothes; they are blue, with spots of
silver, of the size of a shilling, and a silver trimming, and cost--my
lord will know what. She asked George how he liked them; he replied,
"Why, you will be change for a guinea."

I find nothing talked of but the French bankruptcy;[1] Sir Robert Brown,
I hear--and am glad to hear--will be a great sufferer. They put gravely
into the article of bankrupts in the newspaper, "Louis le Petit, of the
city of Paris, peace-breaker, dealer, and chapman;" it would have been
still better if they had said, "Louis Bourbon of petty France." We don't
know what is become of their Monsieur Thurot, of whom we had still a
little mind to be afraid. I should think he would do like Sir Thomas
Hanmer, make a faint effort, beg pardon of the Scotch for their
disappointment, and retire. Here are some pretty verses just arrived.

Pourquoi le baton a Soubise,
Puisque Chevert est le vainqueur?[2]
C'est de la cour une meprise,
Ou bien le but de la faveur.
Je ne vois rien la qui m'etonne,
Repond aussitot un railleur;
C'est a l'aveugle qu'on le donne,
Et non pas au conducteur.

[Footnote 1: In 1759 M. Bertin was Finance Minister--the fourth who had
held that office in four years; and among his expedients for raising
money he had been compelled to have recourse to the measure of stopping
the payment of the interest on a large portion of the National Debt.]

[Footnote 2: "_Chevert est le vainqueur._" He was one of the most
brilliant officers in the French army. It was he who, under the orders
of Saxe, surprised Prague in 1744, and it was to him that Marechal
d'Estrees was principally indebted for his victory of Hastenbeck.]

Lady Meadows has left nine thousand pounds in reversion after her
husband to Lord Sandwich's daughter. _Apropos_ to my Lady Meadows's
maiden name, a name I believe you have sometimes heard; I was diverted
t'other day with a story of a lady of that name,[1] and a lord, whose
initial is no farther from hers than he himself is sometimes supposed to
be. Her postillion, a lad of sixteen, said, "I am not such a child but I
can guess something: whenever my Lord Lyttelton comes to my lady, she
orders the porter to let in nobody else, and then they call for a pen
and ink, and say they are going to write history." Is not this _finesse_
so like him? Do you know that I am persuaded, now he is parted, that he
will forget he is married, and propose himself in form to some woman or

[Footnote 1: Mrs. Montagu was the foundress of "The Blue-stocking Club."
She was the authoress of three "Dialogues of the Dead," to which Walpole
is alluding here, and which she published with some others by Lord

When do you come? if it is not soon, you will find a new town. I stared
to-day at Piccadilly like a country squire; there are twenty new stone
houses: at first I concluded that all the grooms, that used to live
there, had got estates, and built palaces. One young gentleman, who was
getting an estate, but was so indiscreet as to step out of his way to
rob a comrade, is convicted, and to be transported; in short, one of the
waiters at Arthur's. George Selwyn says, "What a horrid idea he will
give of us to the people in Newgate!"

I was still more surprised t'other day, than at seeing Piccadilly, by
receiving a letter from the north of Ireland from a clergyman, with
violent encomiums on my "Catalogue of Noble Authors"--and this when I
thought it quite forgot. It puts me in mind of the queen[1] that sunk at
Charing Cross and rose at Queenhithe.

[Footnote 1: Queen Eleanor, wife of Edward I., who erected the cross at
Charing, and others at the different places where her body had stopped
on the way from the North to Westminster.]

Mr. Chute has got his commission to inquire about your Cutts, but he
thinks the lady is not your grandmother. You are very ungenerous to
hoard tales from me of your ancestry: what relation have I spared? If
your grandfathers were knaves, will your bottling up their bad blood
mend it? Do you only take a cup of it now and then by yourself, and then
come down to your parson, and boast of it, as if it was pure old
metheglin? I sat last night with the Mater Gracchorum--oh! 'tis a Mater
Jagorum; if her descendants taste any of her black blood, they surely
will make as wry faces at it as the servant in Don John does when the
ghost decants a corpse. Good night! I am just returning to Strawberry,
to husband my two last days and to avoid all the pomp of the birthday.
Oh! I had forgot, there is a Miss Wynne coming forth, that is to be
handsomer than my Lady Coventry; but I have known one threatened with
such every summer for these seven years, and they are always addled by



ARLINGTON STREET, _Jan._ 7, 1760.

You must not wonder I have not written to you a long time; a person of
my consequence! I am now almost ready to say, _We_, instead of _I_. In
short, I live amongst royalty--considering the plenty, that is no great
wonder. All the world lives with them, and they with all the world.
Princes and Princesses open shops, in every corner of the town, and the
whole town deals with them. As I have gone to one, I chose to frequent
all, that I might not be particular, and seem to have views; and yet it
went so much against me, that I came to town on purpose a month ago for
the Duke's levee, and had engaged Brand to go with me--and then could
not bring myself to it. At last, I went to him and Princess Emily
yesterday. It was well I had not flattered myself with being still in my
bloom; I am grown so old since they saw me, that neither of them knew
me. When they were told, he just spoke to me (I forgive him; he is not
out of my debt, even with that): she was exceedingly gracious, and
commended Strawberry to the skies. To-night, I was asked to their party
at Norfolk House. These parties are wonderfully select and dignified:
one might sooner be a knight of Malta than qualified for them; I don't
know how the Duchess of Devonshire, Mr. Fox, and I, were forgiven some
of our ancestors. There were two tables at loo, two at whist, and a
quadrille. I was commanded to the Duke's loo; he was sat down: not to
make him wait, I threw my hat upon the marble table, and broke four
pieces off a great crystal chandelier. I stick to my etiquette, and
treat them with great respect; not as I do my friend, the Duke of York.
But don't let us talk any more of Princes. My Lucan appears to-morrow; I
must say it is a noble volume. Shall I send it to you--or won't you come
and fetch it?

There is nothing new of public, but the violent commotions in
Ireland,[1] whither the Duke of Bedford still persists in going. Aeolus
to quell a storm!

[Footnote 1: "In 1759 reports that a Legislative Union was contemplated
led to some furious Protestant riots in Dublin. The Chancellor and some
of the Bishops were violently attacked. A judge in a law case warned the
Roman Catholics that 'the laws did not presume a Papist to exist in the
kingdom'; nor could they breathe without the connivance of the
Government" (Lecky, "History of England," ii. 436). Gray, in a letter to
Dr. Wharton, mentions that they forced their way into the House of
Lords, and "placed an old woman on the throne, and called for pipes and
tobacco." He especially mentions the Bishops of Killaloe and Waterford
as exposed to ardent ill-treatment, and concludes: "The notion that had
possessed the crowd was that an union was to be voted between the two
nations, and they should have no more Parliaments in Dublin."]

I am in great concern for my old friend, poor Lady Harry Beauclerc; her
lord dropped down dead two nights ago, as he was sitting with her and
all their children. Admiral Boscawen is dead by this time. Mrs.
Osborn[1] and I are not much afflicted: Lady Jane Coke too is dead,
exceedingly rich; I have not heard her will yet.

[Footnote 1: Boscawen had been a member of the court martial which had
found Admiral Byng guilty. Mrs. Osborn was Byng's sister.]

If you don't come to town soon, I give you warning, I will be a lord of
the bedchamber, or a gentleman usher. If you will, I will be nothing but
what I have been so many years--my own and yours ever.



ARLINGTON STREET, _Jan._ 14, 1760.

How do you contrive to exist on your mountain in this rude season? Sure
you must be become a snowball! As I was not in England in forty-one, I
had no notion of such cold. The streets are abandoned; nothing appears
in them: the Thames is almost as solid. Then think what a campaign must
be in such a season! Our army was under arms for fourteen hours on the
twenty-third, expecting the French; and several of the men were frozen
when they should have dismounted. What milksops the Marlboroughs and
Turennes, the Blakes and the Van Tromps appear now, who whipped into
winter quarters and into port, the moment their noses looked blue. Sir
Cloudesley Shovel said that an admiral would deserve to be broke, who
kept great ships out after the end of September, and to be shot if after
October. There is Hawke in the bay weathering _this_ winter, after
conquering in a storm. For my part, I scarce venture to make a campaign
in the Opera-house; for if I once begin to freeze, I shall be frozen
through in a moment. I am amazed, with such weather, such ravages, and
distress, that there is anything left in Germany, but money; for
thither, half the treasure of Europe goes: England, France, Russia, and
all the Empress can squeeze from Italy and Hungary, all is sent thither,
and yet the wretched people have not subsistence. A pound of bread sells
at Dresden for eleven-pence. We are going to send many more troops
thither; and it is so much the fashion to raise regiments, that I wish
there were such a neutral kind of beings in England as abbes,[1] that
one might have an excuse for not growing military mad, when one has
turned the heroic corner of one's age. I am ashamed of being a young
rake, when my seniors are covering their grey toupees with helmets and
feathers, and accoutering their pot-bellies with cuirasses and martial
masquerade habits. Yet rake I am, and abominably so, for a person that
begins to wrinkle reverendly. I have sat up twice this week till between
two and three with the Duchess of Grafton, at loo, who, by the way, has
got a pam-child this morning, and on Saturday night I supped with Prince
Edward at my Lady Rochford's, and we stayed till half an hour past
three. My favour with that Highness continues, or rather increases. He
makes everybody make suppers for him to meet me, for I still hold out
against going to court. In short, if he were twenty years older, or I
could make myself twenty years younger, I might carry him to Campden
House, and be as impertinent as ever my Lady Churchill was; but, as I
dread being ridiculous, I shall give my Lord Bute no uneasiness. My Lady
Maynard, who divides the favour of this tiny court with me, supped with
us. Did you know she sings French ballads very prettily? Lord Rochford
played on the guitar, and the Prince sung; there were my two nieces, and
Lord Waldegrave, Lord Huntingdon, and Mr. Morrison the groom, and the
evening was pleasant; but I had a much more agreeable supper last night
at Mrs. Clive's, with Miss West, my niece Cholmondeley, and Murphy, the
writing actor, who is very good company, and two or three more. Mrs.
Cholmondeley is very lively; you know how entertaining the Clive is, and
Miss West is an absolute original.

[Footnote 1: French chroniclers remark that the title Abbe had long
since ceased in France to denote the possession of any ecclesiastical
preferment, but had become a courteous denomination of unemployed
ecclesiastics; and they compare it to the use of the term "Esquire" in

There is nothing new, but a very dull pamphlet written by Lord Bath, and
his chaplain Douglas, called a "Letter to Two Great Men." It is a plan
for the peace, and much adopted by the City, and much admired by all who
are too humble to judge for themselves.

I was much diverted the other morning with another volume on birds by
Edwards, who has published four or five. The poor man, who is grown very
old and devout, begs God to take from him the love of natural
philosophy; and having observed some heterodox proceedings among bantam
cocks, he proposes that all schools of girls and boys should be
promiscuous, lest, if separated, they should learn wayward passions. But
what struck me most were his dedications, the last was to God; this is
to Lord Bute, as if he was determined to make his fortune in one world
or the other.

Pray read Fontaine's fable of the lion grown old; don't it put you in
mind of anything? No! not when his shaggy majesty has borne the insults
of the tiger and the horse, &c., and the ass comes last, kicks out his
only remaining fang, and asks for a blue bridle? _Apropos_, I will tell
you the turn Charles Townshend gave to this fable. "My lord," said he,
"has quite mistaken the thing; he soars too high at first: people often
miscarry by not preceding by degrees; he went and at once asked for my
_Lord_ Carlisle's garter--if he would have been contented to ask first
for my _Lady_ Carlisle's garter, I don't know but he would have obtained
it!" Adieu!



ARLINGTON STREET, _Feb._ 28, 1760.

The next time you see Marshal Botta, and are to act King of Great
Britain, France, and Ireland, you must abate about a hundredth
thousandth part of the dignity of your crown. You are no more monarch
of _all_ Ireland, than King O'Neil, or King Macdermoch is. Louis XV. is
sovereign of France, Navarre, and Carrickfergus. You will be mistaken if
you think the peace is made, and that we cede this Hibernian town, in
order to recover Minorca, or to keep Quebec and Louisbourg. To be sure,
it is natural you should think so: how should so victorious and heroic a
nation cease to enjoy any of its possessions, but to save Christian
blood? Oh! I know you will suppose there has been another insurrection,
and that it is King John of Bedford, and not King George of Brunswick,
that has lost this town. Why, I own you are a great politician, and see
things in a moment--and no wonder, considering how long you have been
employed in negotiations; but for once all your sagacity is mistaken.
Indeed, considering the total destruction of the maritime force of
France, and that the great mechanics and mathematicians of this age have
not invented a flying bridge to fling over the sea and land from the
coast of France to the north of Ireland, it was not easy to conceive how
the French should conquer Carrickfergus--and yet they have. But how I
run on! not reflecting that by this time the old Pretender must have
hobbled through Florence on his way to Ireland, to take possession of
this scrap of his recovered domains; but I may as well tell you at once,
for to be sure you and the loyal body of English in Tuscany will slip
over all this exordium to come to the account of so extraordinary a
revolution. Well, here it is. Last week Monsieur Thurot--oh! now you
are _au fait_!--Monsieur Thurot, as I was saying, landed last week in
the isle of Islay, the capital province belonging to a great Scotch
King, who is so good as generally to pass the winter with his friends
here in London. Monsieur Thurot had three ships, the crews of which
burnt two ships belonging to King George, and a house belonging to his
friend the King of Argyll--pray don't mistake; by _his friend_, I mean
King George's, not Thurot's friend. When they had finished this
campaign, they sailed to Carrickfergus, a poorish town, situate in the
heart of the Protestant cantons. They immediately made a moderate demand
of about twenty articles of provisions, promising to pay for them; for
you know it is the way of modern invasions to make them cost as much as
possible to oneself, and as little to those one invades. If this was not
complied with, they threatened to burn the town, and then march to
Belfast, which is much richer. We were sensible of this civil
proceeding, and not to be behindhand, agreed to it; but somehow or other
this capitulation was broken; on which a detachment (the whole invasion
consists of one thousand men) attack the place. We shut the gates, but
after the battle of Quebec, it is impossible that so great a people
should attend to such trifles as locks and bolts, accordingly there were
none--and as if there were no gates neither, the two armies fired
through them--if this is a blunder, remember I am describing an _Irish_
war. I forgot to give you the numbers of the Irish army. It consisted of
four companies--indeed they consisted but of seventy-two men, under
Lieut.-colonel Jennings, a wonderful brave man--too brave, in short, to
be very judicious. Unluckily our ammunition was soon spent, for it is
not above a year that there have been any apprehensions for Ireland, and
as all that part of the country are most protestantly loyal, it was not
thought necessary to arm people who would fight till they die for their
religion. When the artillery was silenced, the garrison thought the best
way of saving the town was by flinging it at the heads of the besiegers;
according they poured volleys of brickbats at the French, whose
commander, Monsieur Flobert, was mortally knocked down, and his troops
began to give way. However, General Jennings thought it most prudent to
retreat to the castle, and the French again advanced. Four or five raw
recruits still bravely kept the gates, when the garrison, finding no
more gunpowder in the castle than they had had in the town, and not near
so good a brick-kiln, sent to desire to surrender. General Thurot
accordingly made them prisoners of war, and plundered the town.



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