Letters of Horace Walpole
Horace Walpole

Part 5 out of 5


ARLINGTON STREET, _Jan._ 11, 1764.

It is an age, I own, since I wrote to you: but except politics, what was
there to send you? and for politics, the present are too contemptible to
be recorded by anybody but journalists, gazetteers, and such historians!
The ordinary of Newgate, or Mr. ----, who write for their monthly
half-crown, and who are indifferent whether Lord Bute, Lord Melcombe, or
Maclean [the highwayman], is their hero, may swear they find diamonds on
dunghills; but you will excuse _me_, if I let our correspondence lie
dormant rather than deal in such trash. I am forced to send Lord
Hertford and Sir Horace Mann such garbage, because they are out of
England, and the sea softens and makes palatable any potion, as it does
claret; but unless I can divert _you_, I had rather wait till we can
laugh together; the best employment for friends, who do not mean to pick
one another's pocket, nor make a property of either's frankness. Instead
of politics, therefore, I shall amuse you to-day with a fairy tale.

I was desired to be at my Lady Suffolk's on New-year's morn, where I
found Lady Temple and others. On the toilet Miss Hotham spied a small
round box. She seized it with all the eagerness and curiosity of eleven
years. In it was wrapped up a heart-diamond ring, and a paper in which,
in a hand as small as Buckinger's[1] who used to write the Lord's
Prayer in the compass of a silver penny, were the following lines:--

Sent by a sylph, unheard, unseen,
A new-year's gift from Mab our queen:
But tell it not, for if you do,
You will be pinch'd all black and blue.
Consider well, what a disgrace,
To show abroad your mottled face:
Then seal your lips, put on the ring,
And sometimes think of Ob. the king.

[Footnote 1: Buckinger was a dwarf born without hands or feet.]

You will eagerly guess that Lady Temple was the poetess, and that we
were delighted with the gentleness of the thought and execution. The
child, you may imagine, was less transported with the poetry than the
present. Her attention, however, was hurried backwards and forwards from
the ring to a new coat, that she had been trying on when sent for down;
impatient to revisit her coat, and to show the ring to her maid, she
whisked upstairs; when she came down again, she found a letter sealed,
and lying on the floor--new exclamations! Lady Suffolk bade her open it:
here it is:--

Your tongue, too nimble for your sense,
Is guilty of a high offence;
Hath introduced unkind debate,
And topsy-turvy turn'd our state.
In gallantry I sent the ring,
The token of a love-sick king:
Under fair Mab's auspicious name
From me the trifling present came.
You blabb'd the news in Suffolk's ear;
The tattling zephyrs brought it here;
As Mab was indolently laid
Under a poppy's spreading shade.
The jealous queen started in rage;
She kick'd her crown, and beat her page:
"Bring me my magic wand," she cries;
"Under that primrose, there it lies;
I'll change the silly, saucy chit,
Into a flea, a louse, a nit,
A worm, a grasshopper, a rat,
An owl, a monkey, hedgehog, bat.
But hold, why not by fairy art
Transform the wretch into--
Ixion once a cloud embraced,
By Jove and jealousy well placed;
What sport to see proud Oberon stare,
And flirt it with a _pet en l'air_!"
Then thrice she stamp'd the trembling ground,
And thrice she waved her wand around;
When I, endow'd with greater skill,
And less inclined to do you ill,
Mutter'd some words, withheld her arm,
And kindly stopp'd the unfinish'd charm.
But though not changed to owl or bat,
Or something more indelicate;
Yet, as your tongue has run too fast,
Your boasted beauty must not last.
No more shall frolic Cupid lie
In ambuscade in either eye,
From thence to aim his keenest dart
To captivate each youthful heart:
No more shall envious misses pine
At charms now flown, that once were thine
No more, since you so ill behave,
Shall injured Oberon be your slave.

There is one word which I could wish had not been there though it is
prettily excused afterwards. The next day my Lady Suffolk desired I
would write her a patent for appointing Lady Temple poet laureate to the
fairies. I was excessively out of order with a pain in my stomach, which
I had had for ten days, and was fitter to write verses like a Poet
Laureate, than for making one; however, I was going home to dinner
alone, and at six I sent her some lines, which you ought to have seen
how sick I was, to excuse; but first I must tell you my tale
methodically. The next morning by nine o'clock Miss Hotham (she must
forgive me twenty years hence for saying she was eleven, for I recollect
she is but ten), arrived at Lady Temple's, her face and neck all spotted
with saffron, and limping. "Oh, Madam!" said she, "I am undone for ever
if you do not assist me!" "Lord, child," cried my Lady Temple, "what is
the matter?" thinking she had hurt herself, or lost the ring, and that
she was stolen out before her aunt was up. "Oh, Madam," said the girl,
"nobody but you can assist me!" My Lady Temple protests the child acted
her part so well as to deceive her. "What can I do for you?" "Dear
Madam, take this load from my back; nobody but you can." Lady Temple
turned her round, and upon her back was tied a child's waggon. In it
were three tiny purses of blue velvet; in one of them a silver cup, in
another a crown of laurel, and in the third four new silver pennies,
with the patent, signed at top, "Oberon Imperator;" and two sheets of
warrants strung together with blue silk according to form; and at top an
office seal of wax and a chaplet of cut paper on it. The Warrants were

From the Royal Mews:

A waggon with the draught horses, delivered by command without fee.

From the Lord Chamberlain's Office:

A warrant with the royal sign manual, delivered by command without
fee, being first entered in the office books.

From the Lord Steward's Office:

A butt of sack, delivered without fee or gratuity, with an order
for returning the cask for the use of the office, by command.

From the Great Wardrobe:

Three velvet bags, delivered without fee, by command.

From the Treasurer of the Household's Office:

A year's salary paid free from land-tax, poundage, or any other
deduction whatever by command.

From the Jewel Office:

A silver butt, a silver cup, a wreath of bays, by command without

Then came the Patent:

By these presents be it known,
To all who bend before our throne,
Fays and fairies, elves and sprites,
Beauteous dames and gallant knights,
That we, Oberon the grand,
Emperor of fairy land,
King of moonshine, prince of dreams,
Lord of Aganippe's streams,
Baron of the dimpled isles
That lie in pretty maiden's smiles,
Arch-treasurer of all the graces
Dispersed through fifty lovely faces,
Sovereign of the slipper's order,
With all the rites thereon that border,
Defender of the sylphic faith,
Declare--and thus your monarch saith:
Whereas there is a noble dame,
Whom mortals Countess Temple name,
To whom ourself did erst impart
The choicest secrets of our art,
Taught her to tune the harmonious line
To our own melody divine,
Taught her the graceful negligence,
Which, scorning art and veiling sense,
Achieves that conquest o'er the heart
Sense seldom gains, and never art:
This lady, 'tis our royal will
Our laureate's vacant seat should fill;
A chaplet of immortal bays
Shall crown her brow and guard her lays,
Of nectar sack an acorn cup
Be at her board each year filled up;
And as each quarter feast comes round
A silver penny shall be found
Within the compass of her shoe--
And so we bid you all adieu!

Given at our palace of Cowslip Castle, the shortest night of the


And underneath,


How shall I tell you the greatest curiosity of the story? The whole plan
and execution of the second act was laid and adjusted by my Lady Suffolk
herself and Will. Chetwynd, Master of the Mint, Lord Bolingbroke's
Oroonoko-Chetwynd;[1] he fourscore, she past seventy-six; and, what is
more, much worse than I was, for added to her deafness, she has been
confined these three weeks with the gout in her eyes, and was actually
then in misery, and had been without sleep. What spirits, and
cleverness, and imagination, at that age, and under those afflicting
circumstances! You reconnoitre her old court knowledge, how charmingly
she has applied it! Do you wonder I pass so many hours and evenings with
her? Alas! I had like to have lost her this morning! They had poulticed
her feet to draw the gout downwards, and began to succeed yesterday, but
to-day it flew up into her head, and she was almost in convulsions with
the agony, and screamed dreadfully; proof enough how ill she was, for
her patience and good breeding makes her for ever sink and conceal what
she feels. This evening the gout has been driven back to her foot, and I
trust she is out of danger. Her loss will be irreparable to me at
Twickenham, where she is by far the most rational and agreeable company
I have.

[Footnote 1: Oroonoko-Chetwynd, M.P. for Plymouth. He was called
Oroonoko and sometimes "Black Will," from his dark complexion.]

I don't tell you that the Hereditary Prince [of Brunswick][1] is still
expected and not arrived. A royal wedding would be a flat episode after
a _real_ fairy tale, though the bridegroom is a hero. I have not seen
your brother General yet, but have called on him, When come you
yourself? Never mind the town and its filthy politics; we can go to the
Gallery at Strawberry--stay, I don't know whether we can or not, my hill
is almost drowned, I don't know how your mountain is--well, we can take
a boat, and always be gay there; I wish we may be so at seventy-six and
eighty! I abominate politics more and more; we had glories, and would
not keep them: well! content, that there was an end of blood; then perks
prerogative its ass's ears up; we are always to be saving our liberties,
and then staking them again! 'Tis wearisome! I hate the discussion, and
yet one cannot always sit at a gaming-table and never make a bet. I wish
for nothing, I care not a straw for the inns or the outs; I determine
never to think of them, yet the contagion catches one; can you tell
anything that will prevent infection? Well then, here I swear,--no, I
won't swear, one always breaks one's oath. Oh, that I had been born to
love a court like Sir William Breton! I should have lived and died with
the comfort of thinking that courts there will be to all eternity, and
the liberty of my country would never once have ruffled my smile, or
spoiled my bow. I envy Sir William. Good night!

[Footnote 1: The Duke of Brunswick, who was mortally wounded in 1806 at
the battle of Jena. He had come, as is mentioned in the next letter, to
marry the King's sister.]



ARLINGTON STREET, _Jan._ 18, 1764.

Shall I tell you of all our crowds, and balls, and embroideries? Don't I
grow too old to describe drawing-rooms? Surely I do, when I find myself
too old to go into them. I forswore puppet-shows at the last
coronation, and have kept my word to myself. However, being bound by a
prior vow, to keep up the acquaintance between you and your own country,
I will show you, what by the way I have not seen myself, the Prince of
Brunswick. He arrived at Somerset House last Friday evening; at
Chelmsford a quaker walked into the room, _did_ pull off his hat, and
said, "Friend, my religion forbids me to fight, but I honour those that
fight well." The Prince, though he does not speak English, understands
it enough to be pleased with the compliment. He received another, very
flattering. As he went next morning to St. James's, he spied in the
crowd one of Elliot's light-horse and kissed his hand to the man.
"What!" said the populace, "does he know you?" "Yes," replied the man;
"he once led me into a scrape, which nothing but himself could have
brought me out of again." You may guess how much this added to the
Prince's popularity, which was at high-water mark before.

When he had visited the King and Queen, he went to the Princess Dowager
at Leicester House, and saw his mistress. He is very _galant_, and
professes great satisfaction in his fortune, for he had not even seen
her picture. He carries his good-breeding so far as to declare he would
have returned unmarried, if she had not pleased him. He has had levees
and dinners at Somerset House; to the latter, company was named for him.
On Monday evening they were married by the Archbishop in the great
drawing-room, with little ceremony; supped, and lay at Leicester House.
Yesterday morning was a drawing-room at St. James's, and a ball at
night; both repeated to-day, for the Queen's birthday. On Thursday they
go to the play; on Friday the Queen gives them a ball and dinner at her
house; on Saturday they dine with the Princess at Kew, and return for
the Opera; and on Wednesday--why, they make their bow and curtsy, and

The Prince has pleased everybody; his manner is thought sensible and
engaging; his person slim, genteel, and handsome enough; that is, not at
all handsome, but martial, agreeably weather-worn. I should be able to
swear to all this on Saturday, when I intend to see him; but, alas! the
post departs on Friday, and, however material my testimony may be, he
must want it.



ARLINGTON STREET, _Feb._ 6, 1764.

You have, I hope, long before this, my dear lord, received the immense
letter that I sent you by old Monin. It explained much, and announced
most part of which has already happened; for you will observe that when
I tell you anything very positively, it is on good intelligence. I have
another much bigger secret for you, but that will be delivered to you by
word of mouth. I am not a little impatient for the long letter you
promised me. In the mean time thank you for the account you give me of
the King's extreme civility to you. It is like yourself to dwell on
that, and to say little of M. de Chaulnes's dirtv behaviour; but
Monsieur and Madame de Guerchy have told your brother and me all the

I was but too good a prophet when I warned you to expect new
extravagances from the Duc de Chaulnes's son. Some weeks ago he lost
five hundred pounds to one Virette, an equivocal being, that you
remember here. Paolucci, the Modenese minister, who is not in the odour
of honesty, was of the party. The Duc de Pecquigny said to the latter,
"Monsieur, ne jouez plus avec lui, si vous n'etes pas de moitie." So far
was very well. On Saturday, at the Maccaroni Club (which is composed of
all the travelled young men who wear long curls and spying glasses),
they played again: the Duc lost, but not much. In the passage at the
Opera, the Duc saw Mr. Stuart talking to Virette, and told the former
that Virette was a coquin, a fripon, &c., &c. Virette retired, saying
only, "Voila un fou." The Duc then desired Lord Tavistock to come and
see him fight Virette, but the Marquis desired to be excused. After the
Opera, Virette went to the Duc's lodgings, but found him gone to make
his complaint to Monsieur de Guerchy, whither he followed him; and
farther this deponent knoweth not. I pity the Count [de Guerchy], who is
one of the best-natured amiable men in the world, for having this absurd
boy upon his hands!

Well! now for a little politics. The Cider Bill has not answered to the
minority, though they ran the ministry hard; but last Friday was
extraordinary. George Grenville was pushed upon some Navy Bills. I don't
understand a syllable, you know, of money and accounts; but whatever
was the matter, he was driven from entrenchment to entrenchment by Baker
and Charles Townshend. After that affair was over, and many gone away,
Sir W. Meredith moved for the depositions on which the warrant against
Wilkes had been granted. The Ministers complained of the motion being
made so late in the day; called it a surprise; and Rigby moved to
adjourn, which was carried but by 73 to 60. Had a surprise been
intended, you may imagine the minority would have been better provided
with numbers; but it certainly had not been concerted: however, a
majority, shrunk to thirteen, frightened them out of the small senses
they possess. Heaven, Earth, and the Treasury, were moved to recover
their ground to-day, when the question was renewed. For about two hours
the debate hobbled on very lamely, when on a sudden your brother rose,
and made such a speech[1]--but I wish anybody was to give you the
account except me, whom you will think partial: but you will hear enough
of it, to confirm anything I can say. Imagine fire, rapidity, argument,
knowledge, wit, ridicule, grace, spirit; all pouring like a torrent, but
without clashing. Imagine the House in a tumult of continued applause,
imagine the Ministers thunderstruck; lawyers abashed and almost
blushing, for it was on their quibbles and evasions he fell most
heavily, at the same time answering a whole session of arguments on the
side of the court. No, it was _unique_; you can neither conceive it, nor
the exclamations it occasioned. Ellis, the Forlorn Hope, Ellis presented
himself in the gap, till the ministers could recover themselves, when on
a sudden Lord George Sackville _led up the Blues_; spoke with as much
warmth as your brother had, and with great force continued the attack
which he had begun. Did not I tell you he would take this part? I was
made privy to it; but this is far from all you are to expect. Lord North
in vain rumbled about his mustard-bowl, and endeavoured alone to outroar
a whole party: him and Forrester, Charles Townshend took up, but less
well than usual. His jealousy of your brother's success, which was very
evident, did not help him to shine. There were several other speeches,
and, upon the whole, it was a capital debate; but Plutus is so much more
persuasive an orator than your brother or Lord George, that we divided
but 122 against 217. Lord Strange, who had agreed to the question, did
not dare to vote for it, and declared off; and George Townshend, who had
actually voted for it on Friday, now voted against us. Well! upon the
whole, I heartily wish this administration may last: both their
characters and abilities are so contemptible, that I am sure we can be
in no danger from prerogative when trusted to such hands!

[Footnote 1: Walpole must have exaggerated the merits of this speech;
for Conway was never remarkable for eloquence. Indeed, Walpole himself,
in his "Memoirs of George II.," quotes Mr. Hutchinson, the Prime
Serjeant in Ireland, contrasting him with Lord G. Sackville, "Lord
George having parts, but no integrity; Conway integrity, but no parts:
and now they were governed by one who had neither." And Walpole's
comment on this comparison is: "There was more wit than truth in this
description. Conway's parts, though not brilliant, were solid" (vol. ii.
p. 246). In his "Life of Pitt" Lord Stanhope describes him as "a man
who, in the course of a long public life, had shown little vigour or
decision, but who was much respected for his honourable character and
moderate counsels" (c. 5).]

Before I have done with Charles Townshend, I must tell you one of his
admirable _bon mots_. Miss Draycote, the great fortune, is grown very
fat; he says her _tonnage_ is become equal to her _poundage_.



ARLINGTON STREET, _Wednesday, Feb._ 15, 1764.

My dear Lord,--You ought to be witness to the fatigue I am suffering,
before you can estimate the merit I have in being writing to you at this
moment. Cast up eleven hours in the House of Commons on Monday, and
above seventeen hours yesterday,--ay, seventeen at length,--and then you
may guess if I am tired! nay, you must add seventeen hours that I may
possibly be there on Friday, and then calculate if I am weary. In short,
yesterday was the longest day ever known in the House of Commons--why,
on the Westminster election at the end of my father's reign, I was at
home by six. On Alexander Murray's affair, I believe, by five--on the
militia, twenty people, I think, sat till six, but then they were only
among themselves, no heat, no noise, no roaring. It was half an hour
after seven this morning before I was at home. Think of that, and then
brag of your French parliaments!

What is ten times greater, Leonidas and the Spartan _minority_ did not
make such a stand at Thermopylae, as we did. Do you know, we had like to
have been the _majority_? Xerxes[1] is frightened out of his senses;
Sysigambis[1] has sent an express to Luton to forbid Phraates[1] coming
to town to-morrow; Norton's[2] impudence has forsaken him; Bishop
Warburton is at this moment reinstating Mr. Pitt's name in the
dedication to his Sermons, which he had expunged for Sandwich's; and
Sandwich himself is--at Paris, perhaps, by this time, for the first
thing that I expect to hear to-morrow is, that he is gone off.

[Footnote 1: "_Xerxes, Sysigambis, Phraates._" These names contain
allusions to one of Mdlle. Scuderi's novels, which, as D'Israeli
remarks, are "representations of what passed at the Court of France";
but in this letter the scene of action is transferred to England. Xerxes
is George III.; Sysigambis, the Princess Dowager; and Phraates is Lord

[Footnote 2: Sir Fletcher Norton, the Speaker.]

Now are you mortally angry with me for trifling with you, and not
telling you at once the particulars of this _almost-revolution_? You may
be angry, but I shall take my own time, and shall give myself what airs
I please both to you, my Lord Ambassador, and to you, my Lord Secretary
of State, who will, I suppose, open this letter--if you have courage
enough left. In the first place, I assume all the impertinence of a
prophet,--aye, of that great curiosity, a prophet, who really prophesied
before the event, and whose predictions have been accomplished. Have I,
or have I not, announced to you the unexpected blows that would be given
to the administration?--come, I will lay aside my dignity, and satisfy
your impatience. There's moderation.

We sat all Monday hearing evidence against Mr. Wood,[1] that dirty
wretch Webb, and the messengers, for their illegal proceedings against
Mr. Wilkes. At midnight, Mr. Grenville offered us to adjourn or proceed.
Mr. Pitt humbly begged not to eat or sleep till so great a point should
be decided. On a division, in which though many said _aye_ to
adjourning, nobody would go out for fear of losing their seats, it was
carried by 379 to 31, for proceeding--and then--half the House went
away. The ministers representing the indecency of this, and Fitzherbert
saying that many were within call, Stanley observed, that after voting
against adjournment, a third part had adjourned themselves, when,
instead of being within _call_, they ought to have been within
_hearing_; this was unanswerable, and we adjourned.

[Footnote 1: Mr. Wood and Mr. Webb were the Under-Secretary of State and
the Solicitor of the Treasury; and, as such, the officers chiefly
responsible for the _form_ of the warrant complained of.]

Yesterday we fell to again. It was one in the morning before the
evidence was closed. Carrington, the messenger, was alone examined for
seven hours. This old man, the cleverest of all ministerial terriers,
was pleased with recounting his achievements, yet perfectly guarded and
betraying nothing. However, the _arcana imperii_ have been wofully laid

I have heard Garrick, and other players, give themselves airs of fatigue
after a long part--think of the Speaker, nay, think of the clerks
taking most correct minutes for sixteen hours, and reading them over to
every witness; and then let me hear of fatigue! Do you know, not only my
Lord Temple,[1]--who you may swear never budged as spectator,--but old
Will Chetwynd, now past eighty, and who had walked to the House, did not
stir a single moment out of his place, from three in the afternoon till
the division at seven in the morning. Nay, we had _patriotesses_, too,
who stayed out the whole: Lady Rockingham and Lady Sondes the first day;
both again the second day, with Miss Mary Pelham, Mrs. Fitzroy, and the
Duchess of Richmond, as patriot as any of us. Lady Mary Coke, Mrs.
George Pitt, and Lady Pembroke, came after the Opera, but I think did
not stay above seven or eight hours at most.

[Footnote 1: Lord Temple was Mr. Pitt's brother-in-law, a restless and
impracticable intriguer. He had some such especial power of influencing
Mr. Pitt--who, it is supposed, must have been under some pecuniary
obligation to him--that he was able the next year to prevent his
accepting the office of Prime Minister when the King pressed it on him.]

At one, Sir W. Meredith moved a resolution of the illegality of the
Warrant, and opened it well. He was seconded by old Darlington's
brother, a convert to us. Mr. Wood, who had shone the preceding day by
great modesty, decency, and ingenuity, forfeited these merits a good
deal by starting up, (according to a Ministerial plan,) and very
arrogantly, and repeatedly in the night, demanding justice and a
previous acquittal, and telling the House he scorned to accept being
merely _excused_; to which Mr. Pitt replied, that if he disdained to be
_excused_, he would deserve to be _censured_. Mr. Charles Yorke (who,
with his family, have come roundly to us for support against the Duke of
Bedford on the Marriage Bill) proposed to adjourn. Grenville and the
ministry would have agreed to adjourn the debate on the great question
itself, but declared they would push this acquittal. This they announced
haughtily enough--for as yet, they did not doubt of their strength. Lord
Frederick Campbell was the most impetuous of all, so little he foresaw
how much _wiser_ it would be to follow your brother. Pitt made a short
speech, excellently argumentative, and not bombast, nor tedious, nor
deviating from the question. He was supported by your brother, and
Charles Townshend, and Lord George; the two last of whom are strangely
firm, now they are got under the cannon of your brother:--Charles, who,
as he must be extraordinary, is now so in romantic nicety of honour. His
father, who is dying, or dead, at Bath, and from whom he hopes two
thousand a year, has sent for him. He has refused to go--lest his
_steadiness_ should be questioned. At a quarter after four we divided.
_Our_ cry was so loud, that both we and the ministers thought we had
carried it. It is not to be painted, the dismay of the latter--in good
truth not without reason, for _we_ were 197, they but 207. Your
experience can tell you, that a majority of _but_ ten is a defeat.
Amidst a great defection from them, was even a white staff, Lord Charles
Spencer--now you know still more of what I told you was preparing for

Crest-fallen, the ministers then proposed simply to discharge the
complaint; but the plumes which they had dropped, Pitt soon placed in
his own beaver. He broke out on liberty, and, indeed, on whatever he
pleased, uninterrupted. Rigby sat feeling the vice-treasureship slipping
from under him. Nugent was not less pensive--Lord Strange, though not
interested, did not like it. Everybody was too much taken up with his
own concerns, or too much daunted, to give the least disturbance to the
Pindaric. Grenville, however, dropped a few words, which did but
heighten the flame. Pitt, with less modesty than ever he showed,
pronounced a panegyric on his own administration, and from thence broke
out on the _dismission of officers_. This increased the roar from us.
Grenville replied, and very finely, very pathetically, very animated. He
painted Wilkes and faction, and, with very little truth, denied the
charge of menaces to officers. At that moment, General A'Court walked up
the House--think what an impression such an incident must make, when
passions, hopes, and fears, were all afloat--think, too, how your
brother and I, had we been ungenerous, could have added to these
sensations! There was a man not so delicate. Colonel Barre rose--and
this attended with a striking circumstance; Sir Edward Deering, one of
_our_ noisy fools, called out, "_Mr._ Barre."[1] The latter seized the
thought with admirable quickness, and said to the Speaker, who, in
pointing to him, had called him _Colonel_, "I beg your pardon, Sir, you
have pointed to me by a title I have no right to," and then made a very
artful and pathetic speech on his own services and dismission; with
nothing bad but an awkward attempt towards an excuse to Mr. Pitt for his
former behaviour. Lord North, who will not lose his _bellow_, though he
may lose his place, endeavoured to roar up the courage of his comrades,
but it would not do--the House grew tired, and we again divided at seven
for adjournment; some of our people were gone, and we remained but 184,
they 208; however, you will allow our affairs are mended, when we say,
_but_ 184. _We_ then came away, and left the ministers to satisfy Wood,
Webb, and themselves, as well as they could. It was eight this morning
before I was in bed; and considering that, this is no very short letter.
Mr. Pitt bore the fatigue with his usual spirit--and even old Onslow,
the late Speaker, was sitting up, anxious for the event.

[Footnote 1: Mr. Barre had lately been dismissed from the office of
Adjutant-General, on account of some of his votes in Parliament. In 1784
he was appointed Clerk of the Rolls, a place worth above L3,000 a year,
by Mr. Pitt, who, with extraordinary disinterestedness, forbore from
taking it himself, that he might relieve the nation from a pension of
similar amount which had been improperly conferred on the Colonel by
Lord Rockingham.]

On Friday we are to have the great question, which would prevent my
writing; and to-morrow I dine with Guerchy, at the Duke of Grafton's,
besides twenty other engagements. To-day I have shut myself up; for with
writing this, and taking notes yesterday all day, and all night, I have
not an eye left to see out of--nay, for once in my life, I shall go to
bed at ten o'clock....

Adieu! pray tell Mr. Hume that I am ashamed to be thus writing the
history of England, when he is with you!



STRAWBERRY HILL, _June_ 8, 1764.

Your Red Riband is certainly postponed. There was but one vacant, which
was promised to General Draper, who, when he thought he felt the sword
dubbing his shoulder, was told that my Lord Clive could not conquer the
Indies a second time without being a Knight of the Bath. This, however,
I think will be but a short parenthesis, for I expect that _heaven-born
hero_[1] to return from whence he came, instead of bringing hither all
the Mogul's pearls and rubies. Yet, before that happens there will
probably be other vacancies to content both Draper and you.

[Footnote 1: "That _heaven-born hero_" had been Lord Chatham's
description of Lord Clive.]

You have a new neighbour coming to you, Mr. William Hamilton,[1] one of
the King's equerries, who succeeds Sir James Gray at Naples. Hamilton is
a friend of mine, is son of Lady Archibald, and was aide-de-camp to Mr.
Conway. He is picture-mad, and will ruin himself in virtu-land. His
wife is as musical as he is connoisseur, but she is dying of an asthma.

[Footnote 1: Mr. W. Hamilton, afterwards Sir William, was the husband of
the celebrated Lady Hamilton.]

I have never heard of the present[1] you mention of the box of essences.
The secrets of that prison-house do not easily transpire, and the merit
of any offering is generally assumed, I believe, by the officiating

[Footnote 1: A present from Sir Horace, I believe, to the

Lord Tavistock is to be married to-morrow to Lady Elizabeth Keppel, Lord
Albemarle's sister.

I love to tell you an anecdote of any of our old acquaintance, and I
have now a delightful one, relating, yet indirectly, to one of them. You
know, to be sure, that Madame de Craon's daughter, Madame de Boufflers,
has the greatest power with King Stanislaus. Our old friend the Princess
de Craon goes seldom to Luneville for this reason, not enduring to see
her daughter on that throne which she so long filled with absolute
empire. But Madame de Boufflers, who, from his Majesty's age, cannot
occupy _all_ the places in the palace that her mother filled,
indemnifies herself with his Majesty's Chancellor. One day the lively
old monarch said, "Regardez, quel joli petit pied, et la belle jambe!
Mon Chancellier vous dira le reste." You know this is the form when a
King of France says a few words to his Parliament, and then refers them
to his chancellor. I expect to hear a great deal soon of the princess,
for Mr. Churchill and my sister are going to settle at Nancy for some
time. Adieu!



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Aug._ 13, 1764.

I am afraid it is some thousands of days since I wrote to you; but woe
is me! how could I help it? Summer will be summer, and peace peace. It
is not the fashion to be married, or die in the former, nor to kill or
be killed in the latter; and pray recollect if those are not the sources
of correspondence. You may perhaps put in a caveat against my plea of
peace, and quote Turks Island[1] upon me; why, to be sure the
parenthesis is a little hostile, but we are like a good wife, and can
wink at what we don't like to see; besides, the French, like a sensible
husband, that has made a slip, have promised us a new topknot, so we
have kissed and are very good friends.

[Footnote 1: Turk's Island, called also Tortuga, is a small island near
St. Domingo, of which a French squadron had dispossessed some British
settlers; but the French Government disavowed the act, and compensated
the settlers.]

The Duke of York returned very abruptly. The town talks of remittances
stopped; but as I know nothing of the matter, and you are not only a
minister but have the honour of his good graces, I do not pretend to
tell you what to be sure you know better than I do.

Old Sir John Barnard is dead, which he had been to the world for some
time; and Mr. Legge. The latter, who was heartily in the minority, said
cheerfully just before he died, "that he was going to the majority."

Let us talk a little of the north. Count Poniatowski, with whom I was
acquainted when he was here, is King of Poland, and calls himself
Stanislaus the Second. This is the sole instance, I believe, upon
record, of a second of a name being on the throne while the first was
living without having contributed to dethrone him.[1] Old Stanislaus
lives to see a line of successors, like Macbeth in the cave of the
witches. So much for Poland; don't let us go farther north; we shall
find there Alecto herself. I have almost wept for poor Ivan! I shall
soon begin to believe that Richard III. murdered as many folks as the
Lancastrian historians say he did. I expect that this Fury will poison
her son next, lest Semiramis should have the bloody honour of having
been more unnatural. As Voltaire has unpoisoned so many persons of
former ages, methinks he ought to do as much for the present time, and
assure posterity that there never was such a lamb as Catherine II., and
that, so far from assassinating her own husband and Czar Ivan,[2] she
wept over every chicken that she had for dinner. How crimes, like
fashions, flit from clime to clime! Murder reigns under the Pole, while
you, who are in the very town where Catherine de' Medici was born, and
within a stone's throw of Rome, where Borgia and his holy father sent
cardinals to the other world by hecatombs, are surprised to hear that
there is such an instrument as a stiletto. The papal is now a mere gouty
chair, and the good old souls don't even waddle out of it to get a

[Footnote 1: The first was Stanislaus Leczinski, father of the Queen of
France. He had been driven from Poland by Peter the Great after the
overthrow of Charles XII. of Sweden (_v. infra_, Letter 90).]

[Footnote 2: Ivan, the Czar who had been deposed by the former Czarina,
Elizabeth, had recently been murdered, while trying to escape from the
confinement in which he had been so long detained.]

Well, good night! I have no more monarchs to chat over; all the rest are
the most Catholic or most Christian, or most something or other that is
divine; and you know one can never talk long about folks that are only
excellent. One can say no more about Stanislaus _the first_ than that he
is the best of beings. I mean, unless they do not deserve it, and then
their flatterers can hold forth upon their virtues by the hour.



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Oct._ 5, 1764.

My dear Lord,--Though I wrote to you but a few days ago, I must trouble
you with another line now. Dr. Blanchard, a Cambridge divine, and who
has a good paternal estate in Yorkshire, is on his travels, which he
performs as a gentleman; and, therefore, wishes not to have his
profession noticed. He is very desirous of paying his respects to you,
and of being countenanced by you while he stays at Paris. It will much
oblige a particular friend of mine, and consequently me, if you will
favour him with your attention. Everybody experiences your goodness, but
in the present case I wish to attribute it a little to my request.

I asked you about two books, ascribed to Madame de Boufflers. If they
are hers, I should be glad to know where she found, that Oliver Cromwell
took orders and went over to Holland to fight the Dutch. As she has been
on the spot where he reigned (which is generally very strong evidence),
her countrymen will believe her in spite of our teeth; and Voltaire, who
loves all anecdotes that never happened, _because_ they prove the
manners of the times, will hurry it into the first history he publishes.
I, therefore, enter my caveat against it; not as interested for Oliver's
character, but to save the world from one more fable. I know Madame de
Boufflers will attribute this scruple to my partiality to Cromwell (and,
to be sure, if we must be ridden, there is some satisfaction when the
man knows how to ride). I remember one night at the Duke of Grafton's, a
bust of Cromwell was produced: Madame de Boufflers, without uttering a
syllable, gave me the most speaking look imaginable, as much as to say,
"Is it possible you can admire this man!" _Apropos_: I am sorry to say
the reports do not cease about the separation, and yet I have heard
nothing that confirms it.

I once begged you to send me a book in three volumes, called "Essais sur
les Moeurs;" forgive me if I put you in mind of it, and request you to
send me that, or any other new book. I am wofully in want of reading,
and sick to death of all our political stuff, which, as the Parliament
is happily at the distance of three months, I would fain forget till I
cannot help hearing of it. I am reduced to Guicciardin, and though the
evenings are so long, I cannot get through one of his periods between
dinner and supper. They tell me Mr. Hume has had sight of King James's
journal;[1] I wish I could see all the trifling passages that he will
not deign to admit into History. I do not love great folks till they
have pulled off their buskins and put on their slippers, because I do
not care sixpence for what they would be thought, but for what they are.

[Footnote 1: This journal is understood to have been destroyed in the
course of the French Revolution, but it had not only been previously
seen by Hume, as Walpole mentions here, but Mr. Fox had also had access
to it, and had made some notes or extracts from it, which were
subsequently communicated to Lord Macaulay when he carried out the
design of writing a "History of the Revolution of 1688," which Mr. Fox
had contemplated.]

Mr. Elliot brings us woful accounts of the French ladies, of the decency
of their conversation, and the nastiness of their behaviour.

Nobody is dead, married, or gone mad, since my last. Adieu!...



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