Letters of Horace Walpole
Horace Walpole

Part 1 out of 5

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81. TO MANN, _Dec._ 20, 1764.--Madame de Boufflers at Strawberry--The
French Opinion of the English Character--Richardson's Novels--Madame de

82. TO THE EARL OF HERTFORD, _Feb._ 12, 1765.--Debate on American
Taxes--Petition of the Periwig-Makers--Female Head-dresses--Lord Byron's
Duel--Opening of Almack's--No. 45

83. TO COLE, _March_ 9, 1765.--His "Castle of Otranto"--Bishop Percy's
Collection of Old Ballads

84. TO THE EARL OF HERTFORD, _March_ 26, 1765.--Illness of the
King--French and English Actors and Actresses: Clairon, Garrick, Quin,
Mrs. Clive

85. TO MANN, _May_ 25, 1765.--Riots of Weavers--Ministerial
Changes--Factious Conduct of Mr. Pitt

86. TO MONTAGU, _July_ 28, 1765.--Prospects of Old Age when joined to

87. TO LADY HERVEY, _Sept._ 14, 1765.--Has reached Paris--The French
Opera--Illness of the Dauphin--Popularity of Mr. Hume

88. TO MONTAGU, _Sept._ 22, 1765.--Is Making New Friends in Paris--Decay
of the French Stage--Le Kain--Dumenil--New French inclination for
Philosophy and Free-Thinking--General Admiration of Hume's History and
Richardson's Novels

89. TO CHUTE, _Oct._ 3, 1765.--His Presentation at Court--Illness of the
Dauphin--Description of his Three Sons

90. TO CONWAY, _Jan._ 12, 1766.--Supper Parties at Paris--Walpole Writes
a Letter from Le Roi de Prusse a Monsieur Rousseau

91. TO GRAY, _Jan._ 25, 1766.--A Constant Round of Amusements--A Gallery
of Female Portraits--Madame Geoffrin--Madame du Deffand--Madame de
Mirepoix--Madame de Boufflers--Madame de Rochfort--The Marechale de
Luxemburg--The Duchesse de Choiseul--An old French Dandy--M. de
Maurepas--Popularity of his Letter to Rousseau

92. TO MANN, _Feb._ 29, 1766.--Situation of Affairs in England--Cardinal
York--Death of Stanilaus Leczinski, Ex-King of Poland

93. TO CONWAY, _April_ 8, 1766.--Singular Riot in Madrid--Changes in the
French Ministry--Insurrections in the Provinces

94. TO MONTAGU, _June 20_, 1766.--The Bath Guide--Swift's Correspondence

95. TO CHUTE, _Oct._ 10, 1766.--Bath--Wesley

96. TO MANN, _July_ 20, 1767.--Ministerial Difficulties--Return of Lord

97. TO THE SAME, _Sept._ 27, 1767.--Death of Charles Townshend and of
the Duke of York--Whist the New Fashion in France

98. TO GRAY, _Feb._ 18, 1768.--Some New Poems of Gray--Walpole's
"Historic Doubts"--Boswell's "Corsica"

99. TO MANN, _March_ 31, 1768.--Wilkes is returned M.P. for
Middlesex--Riots in London--Violence of the Mob

100. TO MONTAGU, _April_ 15, 1768.--Fleeting Fame of Witticisms--"The
Mysterious Mother"

101. TO MANN, _June_ 9, 1768.--Case of Wilkes

102. TO MONTAGU, _June_ 15, 1768.--The English Climate

103. TO VOLTAIRE, _July_ 27, 1768.--Voltaire's Criticisms on
Shakespeare--Parnell's "Hermit"

104. TO THE EARL OF STRAFFORD, _Aug._ 16, 1768.--Arrival of the King of
Denmark--His Popularity with the Mob

105. TO MANN, _Jan._ 31, 1769.--Wilkes's Election--The Comtesse de
Barri--The Duc de Choiseul's Indiscretion

106. TO MONTAGU, _May_ 11, 1769.--A Garden Party at Strawberry--A
Ridotto at Vauxhall

107. TO MANN, _June_ 14, 1769.--Paoli--Ambassadorial Etiquette

108. TO CHUTE, _Aug._ 30, 1765.--His Return to Paris--Madame Deffand--A
Translation of "Hamlet"--Madame Dumenil--Voltaire's "Merope" and "Les

109. TO MONTAGU, _Sept._ 17, 1769.--The French Court--The Young
Princes--St. Cyr--Madame de Mailly

110. TO MANN, _Feb._ 27, 1770.--A Masquerade--State of Russia

111. TO THE SAME, _May_ 6, 1770.--Wilkes--Burke's Pamphlet--Prediction
of American Republics--Extravagance in England

112. TO MONTAGU, _May_ 6, 1770.--Masquerades in Fashion--A Lady's Club

113. TO MANN, _June_ 15, 1770,--The Princess of Wales is gone to
Germany--Terrible Accident in Paris

114. TO THE SAME, _Dec._ 29, 1770.--Fall of the Duc de Choiseul's

115. TO THE SAME, _Feb._ 22, 1771.--Peace with Spain--Banishment of the
French Parliament--Mrs. Cornelys's Establishment--The Queen of Denmark
116. TO THE SAME, _April_ 26, 1771.--Quarrel of the House of Commons
with the City--Dissensions in the French Court and Royal
Family--Extravagance in England

117. TO CONWAY, _July_ 30, 1771.--Great Distress at the French Court

118. TO CHUTE, _August_ 5, 1771.--English Gardening in
France--Anglomanie--He is weary of Paris--Death of Gray

119. TO COLE, _Jan._ 28, 1772.--Scantiness of the Relics of
Gray--Garrick's Prologues, &c.--Wilkes's Squint

120. TO MANN, _April_ 9, 1772.--Marriage of the Pretender--The Princess
Louise, and her Protection of the Clergy--Fox's Eloquence

121. TO COLE, _Jan._ 8, 1773.--An Answer to his "Historic Doubts"--His
Edition of Grammont

122. TO MANN, _July_10, 1774.--Popularity of Louis XVI.--Death of Lord
Holland--Bruce's "Travels"

123. TO THE SAME, _Oct._ 6, 1774.--Discontent in America--Mr.
Grenville's Act for the Trial of Election Petitions--Highway Robberies

124. TO THE SAME, _Oct._ 22, 1774.--The Pope's Death--Wilkes is returned
for Middlesex--A Quaker at Versailles

125. TO THE COUNTESS OF AILESBURY, _Nov._ 7, 1774.--Burke's Election at
Bristol--Resemblance of one House of Commons to Another--Comfort of Old

126. TO MANN, _Nov._ 24, 1774.--Death of Lord Clive--Restoration of the
French Parliament--Prediction of Great Men to arise in America--The
King's Speech

127. TO CONWAY AND LADY AYLESBURY, _Jan._ 15, 1775.--Riots at Boston--A
Literary Coterie at Bath-Easton

128. TO GEM, _April_ 4, 1776.--Opposition of the French Parliaments to
Turgot's Measures

129. TO CONWAY, _June_ 20, 1776.--His Decorations at "Strawberry"--His
Estimate of himself, and his Admiration of Conway

130. TO MANN, _Dec._ 1, 1776.--Anglomanie in Paris--Horse-Racing

131. TO COLE, _June_ 19, 1777.--Ossian--Chatterton

132. TO MANN, _Oct._ 26, 1777.--Affairs in America--The Czarina and the
Emperor of China

133. TO THE SAME, _May_ 31, 1778.--Death of Lord Chatham--Thurlow
becomes Lord Chancellor

134. TO COLE, _June_ 3, 1778.--Exultation of France at our Disasters in

135. TO MANN, _July_ 7, 1778.--Admiral Keppel's Success--Threats of
Invasion--Funeral of Lord Chatham

136. TO CONWAY, _July_ 8, 1778.--Suggestion of Negotiations with
France--Partition of Poland

137. TO MANN, _Oct._ 8, 1778.--Unsuccessful Cruise of Keppel--Character
of Lord Chatham

138. TO THE SAME, _March_ 22, 1779.--Capture of Pondicherry--Changes in
the Ministry--La Fayette in America

139. TO THE SAME, _July_ 7, 1779.--Divisions in the Ministry--Character
of the Italians and of the French

140. TO THE SAME, _Sept._ 16, 1779.--Eruption of Vesuvius--Death of Lord

141. TO THE SAME, _Jan._ 13, 1780.--Chances of War with Holland--His
Father's Policy--Pope--Character of Bolingbroke

142. TO THE SAME, _Feb._ 6, 1780.--Political Excitement--Lord G.
Gordon--Extraordinary Gambling Affairs in India

143. TO THE SAME, _March_ 3, 1780.--Rodney's Victory--Walpole inclines
to Withdraw from Amusements

144. TO THE SAME, _June_ 5, 1780.--The Gordon Riots

145. TO DALRYMPLE, _Dec._ 11, 1780.--Hogarth--Colonel
Charteris--Archbishop Blackburne--Jervas--Richardson's Poetry

146. TO MANN, _Dec._ 31, 1780.--The Prince of Wales--Hurricane at
Barbadoes--A "Voice from St. Helena"

147. TO THE SAME, _Sept._ 7, 1781.--Naval Movements--Siege of
Gibraltar--Female Fashions

148. TO THE SAME, _Nov._ 29, 1781.--Capitulation of Lord
Cornwallis--Pitt and Fox

149. TO COLE, _April_ 13, 1782.--The Language proper for Inscriptions in
England--Fall of Lord North's Ministry--Bryant

150. TO MANN, _Sept._ 8, 1782.--Highwaymen and Footpads

151. TO THE SAME, _Dec._ 2, 1783.--Fox's India Bill--Balloons

152. TO CONWAY, _Oct._ 15, 1784.--Balloons

153. TO PINKERTON, _June_ 22, 1785.--His Letters on
Literature--Disadvantage of Modern Writers--Comparison of Lady Mary
Wortley with Madame de Sevigne

154. TO THE SAME, _June_ 26, 1785.--Criticism on various Authors: Greek,
Latin, French, and English--Humour of Addison, and of
Fielding--Waller--Milton--Boileau's "Lutrin"--"The Rape of the
Lock"--Madame de Sevigne

155. TO MANN, _Aug._ 26, 1785.--Ministerial Difficulties--The Affair of
the Necklace in Paris--Fluctuating Unpopularity of Statesmen--Fallacies
of History

156. TO THE SAME, _Oct._ 4, 1785.--Brevity of Modern Addresses--The old
Duchess of Marlborough

157. TO THE SAME, _Oct._ 30, 1785.--Lady Craven--Madame Piozzi--"The
Rolliad"--Herschel's Astronomical Discovery

158. TO MISS MORE, _Oct._ 14, 1787.--Mrs. Yearsley--Madame
Piozzi--Gibbon--"Le Mariage de Figaro"

159. TO THE SAME, _July_ 12, 1788.--Gentlemen Writers--His own Reasons
for Writing when Young--Voltaire--"Evelina"--Miss Seward--Hayley

160. TO MANN, _Feb._ 12, 1789.--Divisions in the Royal Family--The
Regency--The Irish Parliament

161. TO MISS BERRY, _June_ 30, 1789.--"The Arabian Nights"--The
Aeneid--Boccalini--Orpheus and Eurydice

162. TO CONWAY, _July_ 15, 1789.--Dismissal of Necker--Baron de
Breteuil--The Duc D'Orleans--Mirabeau

163. TO THE SAME, _July_ 1, 1790.--Bruce's "Travels"--Violence of the
French Jacobins--Necker

164. TO MISS BERRYS, _June_ 8, 1791.--The Prince of Wales--Growth of
London and other Towns

165. TO THE SAME, _Aug._ 23, 1791.--Sir W. and Lady Hamilton--A
Boat-race--The Margravine of Anspach

166. TO THE SAME, _Oct._ 15, 1793.--Arrest of the Duchesse de Biron--The
Queen of France--Pythagoras

167. TO CONWAY, _July 2_, 1795.--Expectations of a Visit to Strawberry
by the Queen

168. TO THE SAME, _July_ 7, 1795.--Report of the Visit




Photographed from a drawing in the National Portrait Gallery, made by
JAMES BASIRE, the engraver, from a sketch from life by Gray's friend,



From a mezzotint by J. SIMON, after a picture by Sir GODFREY KNELLER.









ARLINGTON STREET, _Dec._ 20, 1764.

... My journey to Paris is fixed for some time in February, where I hear
I may expect to find Madame de Boufflers, Princess of Conti. Her husband
is just dead; and you know the House of Bourbon have an alacrity at
marrying their old mistresses. She was here last year, being extremely
infected with the _Anglomanie_, though I believe pretty well cured by
her journey. She is past forty, and does not appear ever to have been
handsome, but is one of the most agreeable and sensible women I ever
saw; yet I must tell you a trait of her that will not prove my
assertion. Lady Holland asked her how she liked Strawberry Hill? She
owned that she did not approve of it, and that it was not _digne de la
solidite Angloise_. It made me laugh for a quarter of an hour. They
allot us a character we have not, and then draw consequences from that
idea, which would be absurd, even if the idea were just. One must not
build a Gothic house because the nation is _solide_. Perhaps, as
everything now in France must be _a la Grecque_, she would have liked a
hovel if it pretended to be built after Epictetus's--but Heaven forbid
that I should be taken for a philosopher! Is it not amazing that the
most sensible people in France can never help being domineered by sounds
and general ideas? Now everybody must be a _geometre_, now a
_philosophe_, and the moment they are either, they are to take up a
character and advertise it: as if one could not study geometry for one's
amusement or for its utility, but one must be a geometrician at table,
or at a visit! So the moment it is settled at Paris that the English are
solid, every Englishman must be wise, and, if he has a good
understanding, he must not be allowed to play the fool. As I happen to
like both sense and nonsense, and the latter better than what generally
passes for the former, I shall disclaim, even at Paris, the
_profondeur_, for which they admire us; and I shall nonsense to admire
Madame de Boufflers, though her nonsense is not the result of nonsense,
but of sense, and consequently not the genuine nonsense that I honour.
When she was here, she read a tragedy in prose to me, of her own
composition, taken from "The Spectator:" the language is beautiful and
so are the sentiments.

There is a Madame de Beaumont who has lately written a very pretty
novel, called "Lettres du Marquis du Roselle." It is imitated, too, from
an English standard, and in my opinion a most woful one; I mean the
works of Richardson, who wrote those deplorably tedious lamentations,
"Clarissa" and "Sir Charles Grandison," which are pictures of high life
as conceived by a bookseller, and romances as they would be
spiritualized by a Methodist teacher: but Madame de Beaumont has almost
avoided sermons, and almost reconciled sentiments and common sense. Read
her novel--you will like it.



ARLINGTON STREET, _Feb._ 12, 1765.

A great many letters pass between us, my dear lord, but I think they are
almost all of my writing. I have not heard from you this age. I sent you
two packets together by Mr. Freeman, with an account of our chief
debates. Since the long day, I have been much out of order with a cold
and cough, that turned to a fever: I am now taking James's powder, not
without apprehensions of the gout, which it gave me two or three years

There has been nothing of note in Parliament but one slight day on the
American taxes,[1] which, Charles Townshend supporting, received a
pretty heavy thump from Barre, who is the present Pitt, and the dread of
all the vociferous Norths and Rigbys, on whose lungs depended so much of
Mr. Grenville's power. Do you never hear them to Paris?

[Footnote 1: Mr. Grenville's taxation of stamps and other articles in
our American colonies, which caused great discontent, and was repealed
by Lord Rockingham's Ministry.]

The operations of the Opposition are suspended in compliment to Mr.
Pitt, who has declared himself so warmly for the question on the
Dismission of officers, that that motion waits for his recovery. A call
of the House is appointed for next Wednesday, but as he has had a
relapse, the motion will probably be deferred. I should be very glad if
it was to be dropped entirely for this session, but the young men are
warm and not easily bridled.

If it was not too long to transcribe, I would send you an entertaining
petition of the periwig-makers to the King, in which they complain that
men will wear their own hair. Should one almost wonder if carpenters
were to remonstrate, that since the peace their trade decays, and that
there is no demand for wooden legs? _Apropos_ my Lady Hertford's friend,
Lady Harriot Vernon, has quarrelled with me for smiling at the enormous
head-gear of her daughter, Lady Grosvenor. She came one night to
Northumberland House with such display of friz, that it literally spread
beyond her shoulders. I happened to say it looked as if her parents had
stinted her in hair before marriage, and that she was determined to
indulge her fancy now. This, among ten thousand things said by all the
world, was reported to Lady Harriot, and has occasioned my disgrace. As
she never found fault with anybody herself, I excuse her. You will be
less surprised to hear that the Duchess of Queensberry has not yet done
dressing herself marvellously: she was at Court on Sunday in a gown and
petticoat of red flannel....

We have not a new book, play, intrigue, marriage, elopement, or quarrel;
in short, we are very dull. For politics, unless the ministers wantonly
thrust their hands into some fire, I think there will not even be a
smoke. I am glad of it, for my heart is set on my journey to Paris, and
I hate everything that stops me. Lord Byron's[1] foolish trial is likely
to protract the session a little; but unless there is any particular
business, I shall not stay for a puppet-show. Indeed, I can defend my
staying here by nothing but my ties to your brother. My health, I am
sure, would be better in another climate in winter. Long days in the
House kill me, and weary me into the bargain. The individuals of each
party are alike indifferent to me; nor can I at this time of day grow to
love men whom I have laughed at all my lifetime--no, I cannot
alter;--Charles Yorke or a Charles Townshend are alike to me, whether
ministers or patriots. Men do not change in my eyes, because they quit a
black livery for a white one. When one has seen the whole scene shifted
round and round so often, one only smiles, whoever is the present
Polonius or the Gravedigger, whether they jeer the Prince, or flatter
his phrenzy.

[Footnote 1: In a previous letter Walpole mentions the duel caused by a
dispute at cards, in which Lord Byron was so unfortunate as to kill his
cousin, Mr. Chaworth.]

_Thursday night, 14th._

The new Assembly Room at Almack's[1] was opened the night before last,
and they say is very magnificent, but it was empty; half the town is ill
with colds, and many were afraid to go, as the house is scarcely built
yet. Almack advertized that it was built with hot bricks and boiling
water--think what a rage there must be for public places, if this
notice, instead of terrifying, could draw anybody thither. They tell me
the ceilings were dropping with wet--but can you believe me, when I
assure you the Duke of Cumberland was there?--Nay, had had a levee in
the morning, and went to the Opera before the assembly! There is a vast
flight of steps, and he was forced to rest two or three times. If he
dies of it,--and how should he not?--it will sound very silly when
Hercules or Theseus ask him what he died of, to reply, "I caught my
death on a damp staircase at a new club-room."

[Footnote 1: Almack was a Scotchman, who got up a sort of female club in
King Street, St. James's, at the place since known as Willis's Rooms. In
the first half of the present century the balls of Almack's were the
most fashionable and exclusive in London, under the government of six
lady patronesses, without a voucher from one of whom no one could obtain
admittance. For a long time after trousers had become the ordinary wear
they were proscribed at Almack's, and gentlemen were required to adhere
to the more ancient and showy attire of knee-breeches; and it was said
that in consequence of one having attempted unsuccessfully to obtain
admission in trousers the tickets for the next ball were headed with a
notice that "gentlemen would not be admitted without breeches and

Williams, the reprinter of the _North Briton_, stood in the pillory
to-day in Palace Yard.[1] He went in a hackney-coach, the number of
which was 45. The mob erected a gallows opposite him, on which they hung
a boot[2] with a bonnet of straw. Then a collection was made for
Williams, which amounted to near L200. In short, every public event
informs the Administration how thoroughly they are detested, and that
they have not a friend whom they do not buy. Who can wonder, when every
man of virtue is proscribed, and they have neither parts nor characters
to impose even upon the mob! Think to what a government is sunk, when a
Secretary of State is called in Parliament to his face "the most
profligate sad dog in the kingdom," and not a man can open his lips in
his defence. Sure power must have some strange unknown charm, when it
can compensate for such contempt! I see many who triumph in these bitter
pills which the ministry are so often forced to swallow; I own I do not;
it is more mortifying to me to reflect how great and respectable we
were three years ago, than satisfactory to see those insulted who have
brought such shame upon us. 'Tis poor amends to national honour to know,
that if a printer is set in the pillory, his country wishes it was my
Lord This, or Mr. That. They will be gathered to the Oxfords, and
Bolingbrokes, and ignominious of former days; but the wound they have
inflicted is perhaps indelible. That goes to _my_ heart, who had felt
all the Roman pride of being one of the first nations upon earth!--Good
night!--I will go to bed, and dream of Kings drawn in triumph; and then
I will go to Paris, and dream I am pro-consul there: pray, take care not
to let me be awakened with an account of an invasion having taken place
from Dunkirk![3] Yours ever, H.W.

[Footnote 1: This was the last occasion on which the punishment of the
pillory was inflicted.]

[Footnote 2: A scandal, for which there was no foundation, imputed to
the Princess of Wales an undue intimacy with John Earl of Bute; and with
a practical pun on his name the mob in some of the riots which were
common in the first years of his reign showed their belief in the lie by
fastening a _jack-boot_ and a petticoat together and feeding a bonfire
with them.]

[Footnote 3: One article in the late treaty of peace had stipulated for
the demolition of Dunkirk.]



STRAWBERRY HILL, _March_ 9, 1765.

Dear Sir,--I had time to write but a short note with the "Castle of
Otranto," as your messenger called on me at four o'clock, as I was going
to dine abroad. Your partiality to me and Strawberry have, I hope,
inclined you to excuse the wildness of the story. You will even have
found some traits to put you in mind of this place. When you read of
the picture quitting its panel, did not you recollect the portrait of
Lord Falkland, all in white, in my Gallery? Shall I even confess to you,
what was the origin of this romance! I waked one morning, in the
beginning of last June, from a dream, of which, all I could recover was,
that I had thought myself in an ancient castle (a very natural dream for
a head filled like mine with Gothic story), and that on the uppermost
banister of a great staircase I saw a gigantic hand in armour. In the
evening I sat down, and began to write, without knowing in the least
what I intended to say or relate. The work grew on my hands, and I grew
fond of it--add, that I was very glad to think of anything, rather than
politics. In short, I was so engrossed with my tale, which I completed
in less than two months, that one evening, I wrote from the time I had
drunk my tea, about six o'clock, till half an hour after one in the
morning, when my hand and fingers were so weary, that I could not hold
the pen to finish the sentence, but left Matilda and Isabella talking,
in the middle of a paragraph. You will laugh at my earnestness; but if I
have amused you, by retracing with any fidelity the manners of ancient
days, I am content, and give you leave to think me idle as you

Lord Essex's trial is printed with the State Trials. In return for your
obliging offer, I can acquaint you with a delightful publication of this
winter, "A Collection of Old Ballads and Poetry," in three volumes, many
from Pepys's Collection at Cambridge. There were three such published
between thirty and forty years ago, but very carelessly, and wanting
many in this set: indeed, there were others, of a looser sort, which the
present editor [Dr. Percy[1]], who is a clergyman, thought it decent to

[Footnote 1: Dr. Percy, Bishop of Dromore, in Ireland, was the heir male
of the ancient Earls of Northumberland, and the title of his collection
was "Reliques of English Poetry." He was also himself the author of more
than one imitation of the old ballads, one of which is mentioned by
Johnson in a letter to Mr. Langton: "Dr. Percy has written a long ballad
in many _fits_ [fyttes]. It is pretty enough: he has printed and will
soon publish it" (Boswell, iii., ann. 1771).]

My bower is determined, but not at all what it is to be. Though I write
romances, I cannot tell how to build all that belongs to them. Madame
Danois, in the Fairy Tales, used to _tapestry_ them with _jonquils_; but
as that furniture will not last above a fortnight in the year, I shall
prefer something more huckaback. I have decided that the outside shall
be of _treillage_, which, however, I shall not commence, till I have
again seen some of old Louis's old-fashioned _Galanteries_ at
Versailles. Rosamond's bower, you, and I, and Tom Hearne know, was a
labyrinth: but as my territory will admit of a very short clew, I lay
aside all thoughts of a mazy habitation: though a bower is very
different from an arbour, and must have more chambers than one. In
short, I both know, and don't know what it should be. I am almost afraid
I must go and read Spenser, and wade through his allegories, and
drawling stanzas, to get at a picture. But, good night! you see how one
gossips, when one is alone, and at quiet on one's own dunghill!--Well!
it may be trifling; yet it is such trifling as Ambition never is happy
enough to know! Ambition orders palaces, but it is Content that chats
for a page or two over a bower.



ARLINGTON STREET, _March_ 26, 1765.

Three weeks are a great while, my dear lord, for me to have been without
writing to you; but besides that I have passed many days at Strawberry,
to cure my cold (which it has done), there has nothing happened worth
sending across the sea. Politics have dozed, and common events been fast
asleep. Of Guerchy's affair, you probably know more than I do; it is now
forgotten. I told him I had absolute proof of his innocence, for I was
sure, that if he had offered money for assassination, the men who swear
against him would have taken it.

The King has been very seriously ill, and in great danger. I would not
alarm you, as there were hopes when he was at the worst. I doubt he is
not free yet from his complaint, as the humour fallen on his breast
still oppresses him. They talk of his having a levee next week, but he
has not appeared in public, and the bills are passed by commission; but
he rides out. The Royal Family have suffered like us mortals; the Duke
of Gloucester has had a fever, but I believe his chief complaint is of
a youthful kind. Prince Frederick is thought to be in a deep
consumption; and for the Duke of Cumberland, next post will probably
certify you of his death, as he is relapsed, and there are no hopes of
him. He fell into his lethargy again, and when they waked him, he said
he did not know whether he could call himself obliged to them.

I dined two days ago at Monsieur de Guerchy's, with the Count de
Caraman, who brought me your letter. He seems a very agreeable man, and
you may be sure, for your sake, and Madame de Mirepoix's, no civilities
in my power shall be wanting. I have not yet seen Schouvaloff,[1] about
whom one has more curiosity--it is an opportunity of gratifying that
passion which one can so seldom do in personages of his historic nature,
especially remote foreigners. I wish M. de Caraman had brought the
"Siege of Calais," which he tells me is printed, though your account has
a little abated my impatience. They tell us the French comedians are to
act at Calais this summer--is it possible they can be so absurd, or
think us so absurd as to go thither, if we would not go further? I
remember, at Rheims, they believed that English ladies went to Calais to
drink champagne--is this the suite of that belief? I was mightily
pleased with the Duc de Choiseul's answer to the Clairon;[2] but when I
hear of the French admiration of Garrick, it takes off something of my
wonder at the prodigious adoration of him at home. I never could
conceive the marvellous merit of repeating the works of others in one's
own language with propriety, however well delivered. Shakespeare is not
more admired for writing his plays, than Garrick for acting them. I
think him a very good and very various player--but several have pleased
me more, though I allow not in so many parts. Quin[3] in Falstaff, was
as excellent as Garrick[4] in Lear. Old Johnson far more natural in
everything he attempted. Mrs. Porter and your Dumesnil surpassed him in
passionate tragedy; Cibber and O'Brien were what Garrick could never
reach, coxcombs, and men of fashion. Mrs. Clive is at least as perfect
in low comedy--and yet to me, Ranger was the part that suited Garrick
the best of all he ever performed. He was a poor Lothario, a ridiculous
Othello, inferior to Quin in Sir John Brute and Macbeth, and to Cibber
in Bayes, and a woful Lord Hastings and Lord Townley. Indeed, his Bayes
was original, but not the true part: Cibber was the burlesque of a great
poet, as the part was designed, but Garrick made it a Garretteer. The
town did not like him in Hotspur, and yet I don't know whether he did
not succeed in it beyond all the rest. Sir Charles Williams and Lord
Holland thought so too, and they were no bad judges. I am impatient to
see the Clairon, and certainly will, as I have promised, though I have
not fixed my day. But do you know you alarm me! There was a time when I
was a match for Madame de Mirepoix at pharaoh, to any hour of the night,
and I believe did play with her five nights in a week till three and
four in the morning--but till eleven o'clock to-morrow morning--Oh! that
is a little too much, even at loo. Besides, I shall not go to Paris for
pharaoh--if I play all night, how shall I see everything all day?

[Footnote 1: Schouvaloff was notorious as a favourite of the Empress

[Footnote 2: Mdlle. Clairon had been for some years the most admired
tragic actress in France. In that age actors and actresses in France
were exposed to singular insults. M. Lacroix, in his "France in the
Eighteenth Century," tells us: "They were considered as inferior beings
in the social scale; excommunicated by the Church, and banished from
society, they were compelled to endure all the humiliations and affronts
which the public chose to inflict on them in the theatre; and, if any of
them had the courage to make head against the storm, and to resist the
violence and cruelty of the pit, they were sent to prison, and not
released but on condition of apologising to the tyrants who had so
cruelly insulted them. Many had a sufficient sense of their own dignity
to withdraw themselves from this odious despotism after having been in
prison in Fort l'Evecque, their ordinary place of confinement, by the
order of the gentlemen of the chamber or the lieutenant of police; and
it was in this way that Mdlle. Clairon bade farewell to the Comedie
Francaise and gave up acting in 1765, when at the very height of her
talent, and in the middle of her greatest dramatic triumphs." The
incident here alluded to by Walpole was that "a critic named Freron had
libelled her in a journal to which he contributed; and, as she could not
obtain justice, she applied to the Duc de Choiseul, the Prime Minister.
Even he was unable to put her in the way of obtaining redress, and
sought to pacify her by comparing her position to his own. 'I am,' said
he, 'mademoiselle, like yourself, a public performer; with this
difference in your favour, that you choose what parts you please, and
are sure to be crowned with the applause of the public; for I reckon as
nothing the bad taste of one or two wretched individuals who have the
misfortune of not adoring you. I, on the other hand, am obliged to act
the parts imposed on me by necessity. I am sure to please nobody; I am
satirised, criticised, libelled, hissed; yet I continue to do my best.
Let us both, then, sacrifice our little resentments and enmities to the
public service, and serve our country, each in our own station. Besides,
the Queen has condescended to forgive Freron, and you may therefore,
without compromising your dignity, imitate Her Majesty's clemency'"
("Mem. de Bachaumont," i. 61). But Mdlle. was not to be pacified, nor to
be persuaded to expose herself to a repetition of insult; but, though
only forty-one, she retired from the stage for ever.]

[Footnote 3: Quin was employed by the Princess of Wales to teach her son
elocution, and when he heard how generally his young sovereign was
praised for the grace and dignity of his delivery of his speech to his
Parliament, he boasted, "Ah, it was I taught the boy to speak."]

[Footnote 4: Garrick was not only a great actor, but also a great
reformer of the stage. He seems to have excelled equally both in tragedy
and comedy, which makes it natural to suppose that in some parts he may
have been excelled by other actors; though he had no equal (and perhaps
never has had) in both lines. He was also himself the author of several
farces of more than average merit.]

Lady Sophia Thomas has received the Baume de vie, for which she gives
you a thousand thanks, and I ten thousand.

We are extremely amused with the wonderful histories of your hyena[1] in
the Gevaudan; but our fox-hunters despise you: it is exactly the
enchanted monster of old romances. If I had known its history a few
months ago, I believe it would have appeared in the "Castle of
Otranto,"--the success of which has, at last, brought me to own it,
though the wildness of it made me terribly afraid; but it was
comfortable to have it please so much, before any mortal suspected the
author: indeed, it met with too much honour far, for at first it was
universally believed to be Mr. Gray's. As all the first impression is
sold, I am hurrying out another, with a new preface, which I will send

[Footnote 1: A wolf of enormous size, and, in some respects, irregular
conformation, which for a long time ravaged the Gevaudan; it was, soon
after the date of this letter, killed, and Mr. Walpole saw it in Paris.]



ARLINGTON STREET, _May_ 25, 1765, _sent by way of Paris_.

My last I think was of the 16th. Since that we have had events of almost
every sort. A whole administration dismissed, taken again, suspended,
confirmed; an insurrection; and we have been at the eve of a civil war.
Many thousand Weavers rose, on a bill for their relief being thrown out
of the House of Lords by the Duke of Bedford. For four days they were
suffered to march about the town with colours displayed, petitioning the
King, surrounding the House of Lords, mobbing and wounding the Duke of
Bedford, and at last besieging his house, which, with his family, was
narrowly saved from destruction. At last it grew a regular siege and
blockade; but by garrisoning it with horse and foot literally, and
calling in several regiments, the tumult is appeased. Lord Bute rashly
taking advantage of this unpopularity of his enemies, advised the King
to notify to his Ministers that he intended to dismiss them,--and by
this step, no _succedaneum_ being prepared, reduced his Majesty to the
alternative of laying his crown at the foot of Mr. Pitt, or of the Duke
of Bedford; and as it proved at last, of both. The Duke of Cumberland
was sent for, and was sent to Mr. Pitt, from whom, though offering
almost _carte blanche_, he received a peremptory refusal. The next
measure was to form a Ministry from the Opposition. Willing were they,
but timid. Without Mr. Pitt nobody would engage. The King was forced to
desire his old Ministers to stay where they were. They, who had rallied
their very dejected courage, demanded terms, and hard ones
indeed--_promise_ of never consulting Lord Bute, dismission of his
brother, and the appointment of Lord Granby to be Captain-General--so
soon did those tools of prerogative talk to their exalted sovereign in
the language of the Parliament to Charles I.

The King, rather than resign his sceptre on the first summons,
determined to name his uncle Captain-General. Thus the commanders at
least were ready on each side; but the Ministers, who by the Treaty of
Paris showed how little military glory was the object of their ambition,
having contented themselves with seizing St. James's without bloodshed.
They gave up their General, upon condition Mr. Mackenzie and Lord
Holland were sacrificed to them, and, tacitly, Lord Northumberland,
whose government they bestow on Lord Weymouth without furnishing another
place to the earl, as was intended for him. All this is granted. Still
there are inexplicable riddles. In the height of negotiation, Lord
Temple was reconciled to his brother George, and declares himself a fast
friend to the late and present Ministry. What part Mr. Pitt will act is
not yet known--probably not a hostile one; but here are fine seeds of
division and animosity sown!

I have thus in six words told you the matter of volumes. You must
analyse them yourself, unless you have patience to wait till the
consequences are the comment. Don't you recollect very similar passages
in the time of Mr. Pelham, the Duke of Newcastle, Lord Granville, and
Mr. Fox? But those wounds did not penetrate so deep as these! Here are
all the great, and opulent noble families engaged on one side or the
other. Here is the King insulted and prisoner, his Mother stigmatised,
his Uncle affronted, his Favourite persecuted. It is again a scene of
Bohuns, Montforts, and Plantagenets.

While I am writing, I received yours of the 4th, containing the
revolutions in the fabric and pictures of the palace Pitti. My dear sir,
make no excuse; we each write what we have to write; and if our letters
remain, posterity will read the catastrophes of St. James's and the
Palace Pitti with equal indifference, however differently they affect
you and me now. For my part, though agitated like Ludlow or my Lord
Clarendon on the events of the day, I have more curiosity about Havering
in the Bower, the jointure house of ancient royal dowagers, than about
Queen Isabella herself. Mr. Wilkes, whom you mention, will be still more
interested, when he hears that his friend Lord Temple has shaken hands
with his foes Halifax and Sandwich; and I don't believe that any amnesty
is stipulated for the exile. Churchill, Wilkes's poet, used to wish that
he was at liberty to attack Mr. Pitt and Charles Townshend,--the moment
is come, but Churchill is gone! Charles Townshend has got Lord Holland's
place--and yet the people will again and again believe that nothing is
intended but their interest.

When I recollect all I have seen and known, I seem to be as old as
Methuselah: indeed I was born in politics,--but I hope not to die in
them. With all my experience, these last five weeks have taught me more
than any other ten years; accordingly, a retreat is the whole scope of
my wishes; but not yet arrived.

Your amiable sister, Mrs. Foote, is settled in town; I saw her last
night at the Opera with Lady Ailesbury. She is enchanted with
Manzuoli--and you know her approbation is a test, who has heard all the
great singers, learnt of all, and sings with as much taste as any of
them. Adieu!



STRAWBERRY HILL, _July_ 28, 1765.

The less one is disposed, if one has any sense, to talk of oneself to
people that inquire only out of compliment, and do not listen to the
answer, the more satisfaction one feels in indulging a self-complacency,
by sighing to those that really sympathise with our griefs. Do not think
it is pain that makes me give this low-spirited air to my letter. No, it
is the prospect of what is to come, not the sensation of what is
passing, that affects me. The loss of youth is melancholy enough; but to
enter into old age through the gate of infirmity most disheartening. My
health and spirits make me take but slight notice of the transition,
and, under the persuasion of temperance being a talisman, I marched
boldly on towards the descent of the hill, knowing I must fall at last,
but not suspecting that I should stumble by the way. This confession
explains the mortification I feel. A month's confinement to one who
never kept his bed a day is a stinging lesson, and has humbled my
insolence to almost indifference. Judge, then, how little I interest
myself about public events. I know nothing of them since I came hither,
where I had not only the disappointment of not growing better, but a bad
return in one of my feet, so that I am still wrapped up and upon a
couch. It was the more unlucky as Lord Hertford is come to England for a
very few days. He has offered to come to me; but as I then should see
him only for some minutes, I propose being carried to town to-morrow. It
will be so long before I can expect to be able to travel, that my French
journey will certainly not take place so soon as I intended, and if Lord
Hertford goes to Ireland, I shall be still more fluctuating; for though
the Duke and Duchess of Richmond will replace them at Paris, and are as
eager to have me with them, I have had so many more years heaped upon me
within this month, that I have not the conscience to trouble young
people, when I can no longer be as juvenile as they are. Indeed I shall
think myself decrepit, till I again saunter into the garden in my
slippers and without my hat in all weathers,--a point I am determined to
regain if possible; for even this experience cannot make me resign my
temperance and my hardiness. I am tired of the world, its politics, its
pursuits, and its pleasures; but it will cost me some struggles before I
submit to be tender and careful. Christ! Can I ever stoop to the regimen
of old age? I do not wish to dress up a withered person, nor drag it
about to public places; but to sit in one's room, clothed warmly,
expecting visits from folks I don't wish to see, and tended and nattered
by relations impatient for one's death! Let the gout do its worse as
expeditiously as it can; it would be more welcome in my stomach than in
my limbs. I am not made to bear a course of nonsense and advice, but
must play the fool in my own way to the last, alone with all my heart,
if I cannot be with the very few I wished to see: but, to depend for
comfort on others, who would be no comfort to me; this surely is not a
state to be preferred to death: and nobody can have truly enjoyed the
advantages of youth, health, and spirits, who is content to exist
without the two last, which alone bear any resemblance to the first.

You see how difficult it is to conquer my proud spirit: low and weak as
I am, I think my resolution and perseverance will get the better, and
that I shall still be a gay shadow; at least, I will impose any severity
upon myself, rather than humour the gout, and sink into that indulgence
with which most people treat it. Bodily liberty is as dear to me as
mental, and I would as soon flatter any other tyrant as the gout, my
Whiggism extending as much to my health as to my principles, and being
as willing to part with life, when I cannot preserve it, as your uncle
Algernon when his freedom was at stake. Adieu!



PARIS, _Sept._ 14, 1765.

I am but two days old here, Madam, and I doubt I wish I was really so,
and had my life to begin, to live it here. You see how just I am, and
ready to make _amende honorable_ to your ladyship. Yet I have seen very
little. My Lady Hertford has cut me to pieces, and thrown me into a
caldron with tailors, periwig-makers, snuff-box-wrights, milliners, &c.,
which really took up but little time; and I am come out quite new, with
everything but youth. The journey recovered me with magic expedition. My
strength, if mine could ever be called strength, is returned; and the
gout going off in a minuet step. I will say nothing of my spirits, which
are indecently juvenile, and not less improper for my age than for the
country where I am; which, if you will give me leave to say it, has a
thought too much gravity. I don't venture to laugh or talk nonsense, but
in English.

Madame Geoffrin came to town but last night, and is not visible on
Sundays; but I hope to deliver your ladyship's letter and packet
to-morrow. Mesdames d'Aiguillon, d'Egmont, and Chabot, and the Duc de
Nivernois are all in the country. Madame de Boufflers is at l'Isle
Adam, whither my Lady Hertford is gone to-night to sup, for the first
time, being no longer chained down to the incivility of an ambassadress.
She returns after supper; an irregularity that frightens me, who have
not yet got rid of all my barbarisms. There is one, alas! I never shall
get over--the dirt of this country: it is melancholy, after the purity
of Strawberry! The narrowness of the streets, trees clipped to resemble
brooms, and planted on pedestals of chalk, and a few other points, do
not edify me. The French Opera, which I have heard to-night, disgusted
me as much as ever; and the more for being followed by the Devin de
Village, which shows that they can sing without cracking the drum of
one's ear. The scenes and dances are delightful: the Italian comedy
charming. Then I am in love with _treillage_ and fountains, and will
prove it at Strawberry. Chantilly is so exactly what it was when I saw
it above twenty years ago, that I recollected the very position of
Monsieur le Duc's chair and the gallery. The latter gave me the first
idea of mine; but, presumption apart, mine is a thousand times prettier.
I gave my Lord Herbert's compliments to the statue of his friend the
Constable; and, waiting some time for the concierge, I called out, _Ou
est Vatel_?

In short, Madam, being as tired as one can be of one's own country,--I
don't say whether this is much or little,--I find myself wonderfully
disposed to like this. Indeed I wish I could wash it. Madame de Guerchy
is all goodness to me; but that is not new. I have already been
prevented by great civilities from Madame de Brentheim and my old
friend Madame de Mirepoix; but am not likely to see the latter much, who
is grown a most particular favourite of the King, and seldom from him.
The Dauphin is ill, and thought in a very bad way. I hope he will live,
lest the theatres should be shut up. Your ladyship knows I never trouble
my head about royalties, farther than it affects my interest. In truth,
the way that princes affect my interest is not the common way.

I have not yet tapped the chapter of baubles, being desirous of making
my revenues maintain me here as long as possible. It will be time enough
to return to my Parliament when I want money.

Mr. Hume, that is _the Mode_, asked much about your ladyship. I have
seen Madame de Monaco, and think her very handsome, and extremely
pleasing. The younger Madame d'Egmont, I hear, disputes the palm with
her; and Madame de Brionne is not left without partisans. The nymphs of
the theatres are _laides a faire peur_, which at my age is a piece of
luck, like going into a shop of curiosities, and finding nothing to
tempt one to throw away one's money.

There are several English here, whether I will or not. I certainly did
not come for them, and shall connect with them as little as possible.
The few I value, I hope sometimes to hear of. Your ladyship guesses how
far that wish extends. Consider, too, Madam, that one of my
unworthinesses is washed and done away, by the confession I made in the
beginning of my letter.



PARIS, _Sept._ 22, 1765.

The concern I felt at not seeing you before I left England, might make
me express myself warmly, but I assure you it was nothing but concern,
nor was mixed with a grain of pouting. I knew some of your reasons, and
guessed others. The latter grieve me heartily; but I advise you to do as
I do: when I meet with ingratitude, I take a short leave both of it and
its host. Formerly I used to look out for indemnification somewhere
else; but having lived long enough to learn that the reparation
generally proved a second evil of the same sort, I am content now to
skin over such wounds with amusements, which at least leave no scars. It
is true, amusements do not always amuse when we bid them. I find it so
here; nothing strikes me; everything I do is indifferent to me. I like
the people very well, and their way of life very well; but as neither
were my object, I should not much care if they were any other people, or
it was any other way of life. I am out of England, and my purpose is

Nothing can be more obliging than the reception I meet with everywhere.
It may not be more sincere (and why should it?) than our cold and bare
civility; but it is better dressed, and looks natural; one asks no
more. I have begun to sup in French houses, and as Lady Hertford has
left Paris to-day, shall increase my intimacies. There are swarms of
English here, but most of them are going, to my great satisfaction. As
the greatest part are very young, they can no more be entertaining to me
than I to them, and it certainly was not my countrymen that I came to
live with. Suppers please me extremely; I love to rise and breakfast
late, and to trifle away the day as I like. There are sights enough to
answer that end, and shops you know are an endless field for me. The
city appears much worse to me than I thought I remembered it. The French
music as shocking as I knew it was. The French stage is fallen off,
though in the only part I have seen Le Kain I admire him extremely. He
is very ugly and ill made, and yet has an heroic dignity which Garrick
wants, and great fire. The Dumenil I have not seen yet, but shall in a
day or two. It is a mortification that I cannot compare her with the
Clairon, who has left the stage. Grandval I saw through a whole play
without suspecting it was he. Alas! four-and-twenty years make strange
havoc with us mortals! You cannot imagine how this struck me! The
Italian comedy, now united with their _opera comique_, is their most
perfect diversion; but alas! harlequin, my dear favourite harlequin, my
passion, makes me more melancholy than cheerful. Instead of laughing, I
sit silently reflecting how everything loses charms when one's own youth
does not lend it gilding! When we are divested of that eagerness and
illusion with which our youth presents objects to us, we are but the
_caput mortuum_ of pleasure.

Grave as these ideas are, they do not unfit me for French company. The
present tone is serious enough in conscience. Unluckily, the subjects of
their conversation are duller to me than my own thoughts, which may be
tinged with melancholy reflections, but I doubt from my constitution
will never be insipid.

The French affect philosophy, literature, and free-thinking: the first
never did, and never will possess me; of the two others I have long been
tired. Free-thinking is for one's self, surely not for society; besides
one has settled one's way of thinking, or knows it cannot be settled,
and for others I do not see why there is not as much bigotry in
attempting conversions from any religion as to it. I dined to-day with a
dozen _savans_, and though all the servants were waiting, the
conversation was much more unrestrained, even on the Old Testament, than
I would suffer at my own table in England, if a single footman was
present. For literature, it is very amusing when one has nothing else to
do. I think it rather pedantic in society; tiresome when displayed
professedly; and, besides, in this country one is sure it is only the
fashion of the day. Their taste in it is worst of all: could one believe
that when they read our authors, Richardson and Mr. Hume should be their
favourites? The latter is treated here with perfect veneration. His
History, so falsified in many points, so partial in as many, so very
unequal in its parts, is thought the standard of writing.

In their dress and equipages they are grown very simple. We English are
living upon their old gods and goddesses; I roll about in a chariot
decorated with cupids, and look like the grandfather of Adonis.

Of their parliaments and clergy I hear a good deal, and attend very
little: I cannot take up any history in the middle, and was too sick of
politics at home to enter into them here. In short, I have done with the
world, and live in it rather than in a desert, like you. Few men can
bear absolute retirement, and we English worst of all. We grow so
humorsome, so obstinate and capricious, and so prejudiced, that it
requires a fund of good-nature like yours not to grow morose. Company
keeps our rind from growing too coarse and rough; and though at my
return I design not to mix in public, I do not intend to be quite a
recluse. My absence will put it in my power to take up or drop as much
as I please. Adieu! I shall inquire about your commission of books, but
having been arrived but ten days, have not yet had time. Need I say?--no
I need not--that nobody can be more affectionately yours than, &c.



PARIS, _Oct._ 3, 1765.

I don't know where you are, nor when I am likely to hear of you. I write
at random, and, as I talk, the first thing that comes into my pen.

I am, as you certainly conclude, much more amused than pleased. At a
certain time of life, sights and new objects may entertain one, but new
people cannot find any place in one's affection. New faces with some
name or other belonging to them, catch my attention for a minute--I
cannot say many preserve it. Five or six of the women that I have seen
already are very sensible. The men are in general much inferior, and not
even agreeable. They sent us their best, I believe, at first, the Duc de
Nivernois. Their authors, who by the way are everywhere, are worse than
their own writings, which I don't mean as a compliment to either. In
general, the style of conversation is solemn, pedantic, and seldom
animated, but by a dispute. I was expressing my aversion to disputes:
Mr. Hume, who very gratefully admires the tone of Paris, having never
known any other tone, said with great surprise, "Why, what do you like,
if you hate both disputes and whisk?"

What strikes me the most upon the whole is, the total difference of
manners between them and us, from the greatest object to the least.
There is not the smallest similitude in the twenty-four hours. It is
obvious in every trifle. Servants carry their lady's train, and put her
into her coach with their hat on. They walk about the streets in the
rain with umbrellas to avoid putting on their hats; driving themselves
in open chaises in the country without hats, in the rain too, and yet
often wear them in a chariot in Paris when it does not rain. The very
footmen are powdered from the break of day, and yet wait behind their
master, as I saw the Duc of Praslin's do, with a red pocket-handkerchief
about their necks. Versailles, like everything else, is a mixture of
parade and poverty, and in every instance exhibits something most
dissonant from our manners. In the colonnades, upon the staircases, nay
in the antechambers of the royal family, there are people selling all
sorts of wares. While we were waiting in the Dauphin's sumptuous
bedchamber, till his dressing-room door should be opened, two fellows
were sweeping it, and dancing about in sabots to rub the floor.

You perceive that I have been presented. The Queen took great notice of
me; none of the rest said a syllable. You are let into the King's
bedchamber just as he has put on his shirt; he dresses and talks
good-humouredly to a few, glares at strangers, goes to mass, to dinner,
and a-hunting. The good old Queen, who is like Lady Primrose in the
face, and Queen Caroline in the immensity of her cap, is at her
dressing-table, attended by two or three old ladies, who are languishing
to be in Abraham's bosom, as the only man's bosom to whom they can hope
for admittance. Thence you go to the Dauphin, for all is done in an
hour. He scarce stays a minute; indeed, poor creature, he is a ghost,
and cannot possibly last three months. The Dauphiness is in her
bedchamber, but dressed and standing; looks cross, is not civil, and has
the true Westphalian grace and accents. The four Mesdames, who are
clumsy plump old wenches, with a bad likeness to their father, stand in
a bedchamber in a row, with black cloaks and knotting-bags, looking
good-humoured, not knowing what to say, and wriggling as if they wanted
to make water. This ceremony too is very short; then you are carried to
the Dauphin's three boys, who you may be sure only bow and stare. The
Duke of Berry[1] looks weak and weak-eyed: the Count de Provence is a
fine boy; the Count d'Artois well enough. The whole concludes with
seeing the Dauphin's little girl dine, who is as round and as fat as a

[Footnote 1: The Duc de Berri was afterwards Louis XVI.; the Comte de
Provence became Louis XVIII.; and the Comte d'Artois, Charles X.]

In the Queen's antechamber we foreigners and the foreign ministers were
shown the famous beast of the Gevaudan, just arrived, and covered with a
cloth, which two chasseurs lifted up. It is an absolute wolf, but
uncommonly large, and the expression of agony and fierceness remains
strongly imprinted on its dead jaws.

I dined at the Duc of Praslin's with four-and-twenty ambassadors and
envoys, who never go but on Tuesdays to Court. He does the honours
sadly, and I believe nothing else well, looking important and empty. The
Duc de Choiseul's face, which is quite the reverse of gravity, does not
promise much more. His wife is gentle, pretty, and very agreeable. The
Duchess of Praslin, jolly, red-faced, looking very vulgar, and being
very attentive and civil. I saw the Duc de Richelieu in waiting, who is
pale, except his nose, which is red, much wrinkled, and exactly a
remnant of that age which produced General Churchill, Wilks the player,
the Duke of Argyll, &c. Adieu!



PARIS, _Jan._ 12, 1766.

I have received your letter by General Vernon, and another, to which I
have writ an answer, but was disappointed of a conveyance I expected.
You shall have it with additions, by the first messenger that goes; but
I cannot send it by the post, as I have spoken very freely of some
persons you name, in which we agree thoroughly. These few lines are only
to tell you I am not idle in writing to you.

I almost repent having come hither; for I like the way of life and many
of the people so well, that I doubt I shall feel more regret at leaving
Paris than I expected. It would sound vain to tell you the honours and
distinctions I receive, and how much I am in fashion; yet when they come
from the handsomest women in France, and the most respectable in point
of character, can one help being a little proud? If I was twenty years
younger, I should wish they were not quite so respectable. Madame de
Brionne, whom I have never seen, and who was to have met me at supper
last night at the charming Madame d'Egmont's, sent me an invitation by
the latter for Wednesday next. I was engaged, and hesitated. I was told,
"Comment! savez-vous que c'est qu'elle ne feroit pas pour toute la
France?" However, lest you should dread my returning a perfect old
swain, I study my wrinkles, compare myself and my limbs to every plate
of larks I see, and treat my understanding with at least as little
mercy. Yet, do you know, my present fame is owing to a very trifling
composition, but which has made incredible noise. I was one evening at
Madame Geoffrin's joking on Rousseau's affectations and contradictions,
and said some things that diverted them. When I came home, I put them
into a letter, and showed it next day to Helvetius and the Duc de
Nivernois; who were so pleased with it, that after telling me some
faults in the language, which you may be sure there were, they
encouraged me to let it be seen. As you know I willingly laugh at
mountebanks, _political_ or literary, let their talents be ever so
great, I was not averse. The copies have spread like wild-fire; _et me
voici a la mode_! I expect the end of my reign at the end of the week
with great composure. Here is the letter:--



Vous avez renonce a Geneve votre patrie; vous vous etes fait chasser de
la Suisse, pays tant vante dans vos ecrits; la France vous a decrete.
Venez donz chez moi; j'admire vos talens; je m'amuse de vos reveries,
qui (soit dit en passant) vous occupent trop, et trop long tems. Il faut
a la fin etre sage et heureux. Vous avez fait assez parler de vous par
des singularites peu convenables a un veritable grand homme. Demontrez a
vos ennemis que vous pouvez avoir quelquefois le sens commun: cela les
fachera, sans vous faire tort. Mes etats vous offrent une retraite
paisible; je vous veux du bien, et je vous en ferai, si vous le trouvez
bon. Mais si vous vous obstiniez a rejetter mons secours, attendez-vous
que je ne le dirai a personne. Si vous persistez a vous creuser
l'esprit pour trouver de nouveaux malheurs, choisissez les tels que vous
voudrez. Je suis roi, je puis vous en procurer au gre de vos souhaits:
et ce qui surement ne vous arrivera pas vis a vis de vos ennemis, je
cesserai de vous persecuter quand vous cesserez de mettre votre gloire a

Votre bon ami,


[Footnote 1: Rousseau was always ready to believe in plots to mortify
and injure him; and he was so much annoyed by this composition of
Walpole's, that, shortly after his arrival in England, he addressed the
following letter to _The London Chronicle_:--

"WOOTTON [IN DERBYSHIRE], _March_ 3, 1766

"You have failed, Sir, in the respect which every private person owes to
a crowned head, in attributing publicly to the King of Prussia a letter
full of extravagance and malignity, of which, for those very reasons,
you ought to have known he could not be the author. You have even dared
to transcribe his signature, as if you had seen him write it with his
own hand. I inform you, Sir, that the letter was fabricated at Paris,
and what rends my heart is that the impostor has accomplices in England.
You owe to the King of Prussia, to truth, and to me to print the letter
which I write to you, and which I sign, as an atonement for a fault with
which you would doubtless reproach yourself severely, if you knew to
what a dark transaction you have rendered yourself an accessory. I
salute you, Sir, very sincerely,


The Princesse de Ligne, whose mother was an Englishwoman, made a good
observation to me last night. She said, "Je suis roi, je puis vous
procurer de malheurs," was plainly the stroke of an English pen. I
said, then I had certainly not well imitated the character in which I
wrote. You will say I am a bold man to attack both Voltaire and
Rousseau. It is true; but I shoot at their heel, at their vulnerable

I beg your pardon for taking up your time with these trifles. The day
after to-morrow we go in cavalcade with the Duchess of Richmond to her
audience; I have got my cravat and shammy shoes. Adieu!



PARIS, _Jan._ 25, 1766.

I am much indebted to you for your kind letter and advice; and though it
is late to thank you for it, it is at least a stronger proof that I do
not forget it. However, I am a little obstinate, as you know, on the
chapter of health, and have persisted through this Siberian winter in
not adding a grain to my clothes, and going open-breasted without an
under waistcoat. In short, though I like extremely to live, it must be
in my own way, as long as I can: it is not youth I court, but liberty;
and I think making oneself tender is issuing a _general warrant_
against one's own person. I suppose I shall submit to confinement when I
cannot help it; but I am indifferent enough to life not to care if it
ends soon after my prison begins.

I have not delayed so long to answer your letter, from not thinking of
it, or from want of matter, but from want of time. I am constantly
occupied, engaged, amused, till I cannot bring a hundredth part of what
I have to say into the compass of a letter. You will lose nothing by
this: you know my volubility, when I am full of new subjects; and I have
at least many hours of conversation for you at my return. One does not
learn a whole nation in four or five months; but, for the time, few, I
believe, have seen, studied, or got so much acquainted with the French
as I have.

By what I said of their religious or rather irreligious opinions, you
must not conclude their people of quality atheists--at least, not the
men. Happily for them, poor souls! they are not capable of going so far
into thinking. They assent to a great deal, because it is the fashion,
and because they don't know how to contradict. They are ashamed to
defend the Roman Catholic religion, because it is quite exploded; but I
am convinced they believe it in their hearts. They hate the Parliaments
and the philosophers, and are rejoiced that they may still idolise
royalty. At present, too, they are a little triumphant: the Court has
shown a little spirit, and the Parliaments much less: but as the Duc de
Choiseul, who is very fluttering, unsettled, and inclined to the
philosophers, has made a compromise with the Parliament of Bretagne, the
Parliaments might venture out again, if, as I fancy will be the case,
they are not glad to drop a cause, of which they began to be a little
weary of the inconveniences.

The generality of the men, and more than the generality are dull and
empty. They have taken up gravity, thinking it was philosophy and
English, and so have acquired nothing in the room of their natural
levity and cheerfulness. However, as their high opinion of their own
country remains, for which they can no longer assign any reason, they
are contemptuous and reserved, instead of being ridiculously,
consequently pardonably, impertinent. I have wondered, knowing my own
countrymen, that we had attained such a superiority. I wonder no longer,
and have a little more respect for English _heads_ than I had.

The women do not seem of the same country: if they are less gay than
they were, they are more informed, enough to make them very conversable.
I know six or seven with very superior understandings; some of them with
wit, or with softness, or very good sense.

[Illustration: THOMAS GRAY, THE POET.

_From a drawing in the National Portrait Gallery by James Basire, after
a sketch by Gray's friend and biographer, the Rev. William Mason._]

Madame Geoffrin, of whom you have heard much, is an extraordinary woman,
with more common sense than I almost ever met with. Great quickness in
discovering characters, penetration in going to the bottom of them, and
a pencil that never fails in a likeness--seldom a favourable one. She
exacts and preserves, spite of her birth and their nonsensical
prejudices about nobility, great court and attention. This she acquires
by a thousand little arts and offices of friendship: and by a freedom
and severity, which seem to be her sole end of drawing a concourse to
her; for she insists on scolding those she inveigles to her. She has
little taste and less knowledge, but protects artisans and authors, and
courts a few people to have the credit of serving her dependents. She
was bred under the famous Madame Tencin,[1] who advised her never to
refuse any man; for, said her mistress, though nine in ten should not
care a farthing for you, the tenth may live to be an useful friend. She
did not adopt or reject the whole plan, but fully retained the purport
of the maxim. In short, she is an epitome of empire, subsisting by
rewards and punishments. Her great enemy, Madame du Deffand,[2] was for
a short time mistress of the Regent, is now very old and stoneblind, but
retains all her vivacity, wit, memory, judgment, passions, and
agreeableness. She goes to Operas, Plays, suppers, and Versailles; gives
suppers twice a week; has everything new read to her; makes new songs
and epigrams, ay, admirably, and remembers every one that has been made
these four-score years. She corresponds with Voltaire, dictates charming
letters to him, contradicts him, is no bigot to him or anybody, and
laughs both at the clergy and the philosophers. In a dispute, into which
she easily falls, she is very warm, and yet scarce ever in the wrong:
her judgment on every subject is as just as possible; on every point of
conduct as wrong as possible: for she is all love and hatred, passionate
for her friends to enthusiasm, still anxious to be loved, I don't mean
by lovers, and a vehement enemy, but openly. As she can have no
amusement but conversation, the least solitude and _ennui_ are
insupportable to her, and put her into the power of several worthless
people, who eat her suppers when they can eat nobody's of higher rank;
wink to one another and laugh at her; hate her because she has forty
times more parts--and venture to hate her because she is not rich.[3]
She has an old friend whom I must mention, a Monsieur Pondeveyle, author
of the "Fatpuni," and the "Complaisant," and of those pretty novels, the
"Comte de Cominge," the "Siege of Calais," and "Les Malheurs de
l'Amour." Would you not expect this old man to be very agreeable? He can
be so, but seldom is: yet he has another very different and very
amusing talent, the art of parody, and is unique in his kind. He
composes tales to the tunes of long dances: for instance, he has adapted
the Regent's "Daphnis and Chloe" to one, and made it ten times more
indecent; but is so old, and sings it so well, that it is permitted in
all companies. He has succeeded still better in _les caracteres de la
danse_, to which he has adapted words that express all the characters of
love. With all this he has not the least idea of cheerfulness in
conversation; seldom speaks but on grave subjects, and not often on
them; is a humourist, very supercilious, and wrapt up in admiration of
his own country, as the only judge of his merit. His air and look are
cold and forbidding; but ask him to sing, or praise his works, his eyes
and smiles open and brighten up. In short, I can show him to you: the
self-applauding poet in Hogarth's Rake's Progress, the second print, is
so like his very features and very wig, that you would know him by it,
if you came hither--for he certainly will not go to you.

[Footnote 1: _"The famous Mme. Tencin._" "Infamous" would be more
appropriate. She had been the mistress of Dubois, and was the mother of

[Footnote 2: His description of her on first making her acquaintance was
not altogether complimentary. In a letter of the preceding October he
calls her "an old blind debauchee of wit." In fact, she had been one of
the mistresses of the Regent, Duc d'Orleans, and at first his chief
inducement to court her society was to hear anecdotes of the Regent. But
gradually he became so enamoured of her society that he kept up an
intimacy with her till her death in 1783. There must be allowed to be
much delicate perception and delineation of character in this
description of the French fine ladies of the time.]

[Footnote 3: To the above portrait of Madame du Deffand it may be useful
to subjoin the able development of her character which appeared in the
_Quarterly Review_ for May, 1811, in its critique on her Letters to
Walpole:--"This lady seems to have united the lightness of the French
character with the solidity of the English. She was easy and volatile,
yet judicious and acute; sometimes profound and sometimes superficial.
She had a wit playful, abundant, and well-toned; an admirable conception
of the ridiculous, and great skill in exposing it; a turn for satire,
which she indulged, not always in the best-natured manner, yet with
irresistible effect; powers of expression varied, appropriate, flowing
from the source, and curious without research; a refined taste for
letters, and a judgment both of men and books in a high degree
enlightened and accurate."]

Madame de Mirepoix's understanding is excellent of the useful kind, and
can be so when she pleases of the agreeable kind. She has read, but
seldom shows it, and has perfect taste. Her manner is cold, but very
civil; and she conceals even the blood of Lorraine, without ever
forgetting it. Nobody in France knows the world better, and nobody is
personally so well with the King. She is false, artful, and insinuating
beyond measure when it is her interest, but indolent and a coward. She
never had any passion but gaming, and always loses. For ever paying
court, the sole produce of a life of art is to get money from the King
to carry on a course of paying debts or contracting new ones, which she
discharges as fast as she is able. She advertised devotion to get made
_dame du palais_ to the Queen; and the very next day this Princess of
Lorraine was seen riding backwards with Madame Pompadour in the latter's
coach. When the King was stabbed, and heartily frightened, the mistress
took a panic too, and consulted D'Argenson, whether she had not best
make off in time. He hated her, and said, By all means. Madame de
Mirepoix advised her to stay. The King recovered his spirits, D'Argenson
was banished,[1] and La Marechale inherited part of the mistress's
credit.--I must interrupt my history of illustrious women with an
anecdote of Monsieur de Maurepas, with whom I am much acquainted, and
who has one of the few heads which approach to good ones, and who
luckily for us was disgraced, and the marine dropped, because it was his
favourite object and province. He employed Pondeveyle to make a song on
the Pompadour: it was clever and bitter, and did not spare even Majesty.
This was Maurepas absurd enough to sing at supper at Versailles.
Banishment ensued; and lest he should ever be restored, the mistress
persuaded the King that he had poisoned her predecessor Madame de
Chateauroux. Maurepas is very agreeable, and exceedingly cheerful; yet I
have seen a transient silent cloud when politics are talked of.

[Footnote 1: The Comte d'Argenson was Minister at War.]

Madame de Boufflers, who was in England, is a _savante_, mistress of the
Prince of Conti, and very desirous of being his wife. She is two women,
the upper and the lower. I need not tell you that the lower is gallant,
and still has pretensions. The upper is very sensible, too, and has a
measured eloquence that is just and pleasing--but all is spoiled by an
unrelaxed attention to applause. You would think she was always sitting
for her picture to her biographer.

Madame de Rochfort is different from all the rest. Her understanding is
just and delicate; with a finesse of wit that is the result of
reflection. Her manner is soft and feminine, and though a _savante_,
without any declared pretensions. She is the _decent_ friend of Monsieur
de Nivernois; for you must not believe a syllable of what you read in
their novels. It requires the greatest curiosity, or the greatest
habitude, to discover the smallest connexion between the sexes here. No
familiarity, but under the veil of friendship, is permitted, and Love's
dictionary is as much prohibited, as at first sight one should think his
ritual was. All you hear, and that pronounced with _nonchalance_, is,
that _Monsieur un tel_ has had _Madame une telle_.

The Duc de Nivernois has parts, and writes at the top of the mediocre,
but, as Madame Geoffrin says, is _manque par tout; guerrier manque,
ambassadeur manque, homme d'affaires manque_, and _auteur manque_--no,
he is not _homme de naissance manque_. He would think freely, but has
some ambition of being governor to the Dauphin, and is more afraid of
his wife and daughter, who are ecclesiastic fagots. The former
out-chatters the Duke of Newcastle; and the latter, Madame de Gisors,
exhausts Mr. Pitt's eloquence in defence of the Archbishop of Paris.
Monsieur de Nivernois lives in a small circle of dependent admirers, and
Madame de Rochfort is high-priestess for a small salary of credit.

The Duchess of Choiseul, the only young one of these heroines, is not
very pretty, but has fine eyes, and is a little model in waxwork, which
not being allowed to speak for some time as incapable, has a hesitation
and modesty, the latter of which the Court has not cured, and the former
of which is atoned for by the most interesting sound of voice, and
forgotten in the most elegant turn and propriety of expression. Oh! it
is the gentlest, amiable, civil little creature that ever came out of a
fairy egg! so just in its phrases and thoughts, so attentive and
good-natured! Everybody loves it but its husband, who prefers his own
sister the Duchesse de Granmont, an Amazonian, fierce, haughty dame, who
loves and hates arbitrarily, and is detested. Madame de Choiseul,
passionately fond of her husband, was the martyr of this union, but at
last submitted with a good grace; has gained a little credit with him,
and is still believed to idolize him. But I doubt it--she takes too much
pains to profess it.

I cannot finish my list without adding a much more common character--but
more complete in its kind than any of the foregoing, the Marechale de
Luxembourg. She has been very handsome, very abandoned, and very
mischievous. Her beauty is gone, her lovers are gone, and she thinks the
devil is coming. This dejection has softened her into being rather
agreeable, for she has wit and good-breeding; but you would swear, by
the restlessness of her person and the horrors she cannot conceal, that
she had signed the compact, and expected to be called upon in a week for
the performance.

I could add many pictures, but none so remarkable. In those I send you
there is not a feature bestowed gratis or exaggerated. For the beauties,
of which there are a few considerable, as Mesdames de Brionne, de
Monaco, et d'Egmont, they have not yet lost their characters, nor got

You must not attribute my intimacy with Paris to curiosity alone. An
accident unlocked the doors for me. That _passe-par-tout_ called the
fashion has made them fly open--and what do you think was that
fashion?--I myself. Yes, like Queen Eleanor in the ballad, I sunk at
Charing Cross, and have risen in the Fauxbourg St. Germain. A
_plaisanterie_ on Rousseau, whose arrival here in his way to you brought
me acquainted with many anecdotes conformable to the idea I had
conceived of him, got about, was liked much more than it deserved,
spread like wild-fire, and made me the subject of conversation.
Rousseau's devotees were offended. Madame de Boufflers, with a tone of
sentiment, and the accents of lamenting humanity, abused me heartily,
and then complained to myself with the utmost softness. I acted
contrition, but had liked to have spoiled all, by growing dreadfully
tired of a second lecture from the Prince of Conti, who took up the
ball, and made himself the hero of a history wherein he had nothing to
do. I listened, did not understand half he said (nor he either), forgot
the rest, said Yes when I should have said No, yawned when I should have
smiled, and was very penitent when I should have rejoiced at my pardon.
Madame de Boufflers was more distressed, for he owned twenty times more
than I had said: she frowned, and made him signs; but she had wound up
his clack, and there was no stopping it. The moment she grew angry, the
lord of the house grew charmed, and it has been my fault if I am not at
the head of a numerous sect; but, when I left a triumphant party in
England, I did not come here to be at the head of a fashion. However, I
have been sent for about like an African prince, or a learned
canary-bird, and was, in particular, carried by force to the Princess of
Talmond,[1] the Queen's cousin, who lives in a charitable apartment in
the Luxembourg, and was sitting on a small bed hung with saints and
Sobieskis, in a corner of one of those vast chambers, by two blinking
tapers. I stumbled over a cat and a footstool in my journey to her
presence. She could not find a syllable to say to me, and the visit
ended with her begging a lap-dog. Thank the Lord! though this is the
first month, it is the last week of my reign; and I shall resign my
crown with great satisfaction to a _bouillie_ of chestnuts, which is
just invented, and whose annals will be illustrated by so many
indigestions, that Paris will not want anything else these three weeks.
I will enclose the fatal letter[2] after I have finished this enormous
one; to which I will only add, that nothing has interrupted my Sevigne
researches but the frost. The Abbe de Malesherbes has given me full
power to ransack Livry. I did not tell you, that by great accident, when
I thought on nothing less, I stumbled on an original picture of the
Comte de Grammont. Adieu! You are generally in London in March; I shall
be there by the end of it.[3]

[Footnote 1: The Princess of Talmond was born in Poland, and said to be
allied to the Queen, Marie Leczinska, with whom she came to France, and
there married a prince of the house of Bouillon.]

[Footnote 2: The letter from the King of Prussia to Rousseau.--WALPOLE.]

[Footnote 3: Gray, in reference to this letter, writes thus to Dr.
Wharton, on the 5th of March:--"Mr. Walpole writes me now and then a
long and lively letter from Paris, to which place he went the last
summer, with the gout upon him; sometimes in his limbs; often in his
stomach and head. He has got somehow well (not by means of the climate,
one would think) goes to all public places, sees all the best company,
and is very much in fashion. He says he sunk, like Queen Eleanor, at
Charing Cross, and has risen again at Paris. He returns again in April;
but his health is certainly in a deplorable state."--_Works by Mitford_,
vol. iv. p. 79.]



PARIS, _Feb._ 29, 1766.

I have received your letters very regularly, and though I have not sent
you nearly so many, yet I have not been wanting to our correspondence,
when I have had anything particular to say, or knew what to say. The
Duke of Richmond has been gone to England this fortnight; he had a
great deal of business, besides engagements here; and if he has failed
writing, at least I believe he received yours. Mr. Conway, I suppose,
has received them too, but not to my knowledge; for I have received but
one from him this age. He has had something else to do than to think of
Pretenders, and pretenders to pretensions. It has been a question (and a
question scarcely decided yet) not only whether he and his friends
should remain Ministers, but whether we should not draw the sword on our
colonies, and provoke them and the manufacturers at home to rebellion.
The goodness of Providence, or Fortune by its permission, has
interposed, and I hope prevented blood; though George Grenville and the
Duke of Bedford, who so mercifully checked our victories, in compassion
to France, grew heroes the moment there was an opportunity of conquering
our own brethren. It was actually moved by them and their banditti to
send troops to America. The stout Earl of Bute, who is never afraid when
not personally in danger, joined his troops to his ancient friends, late
foes, and now new allies. Yet this second race of Spaniards, so fond of
gold and thirsting after American blood, were routed by 274; their whole
force amounting but to 134. The Earl, astonished at this defeat, had
recourse to that kind of policy which Machiavel recommends in his
chapter of _back-stairs_. Caesar himself disavowed his Ministers, and
declared he had not been for the repeal, and that his servants had used
his name without his permission. A paper was produced to his eyes,
which proved this denial an equivocation. The Ministers, instead of
tossing their places into the middle of the closet, as I should have
done, had the courage and virtue to stand firm, and save both Europe and
America from destruction.

At that instant, who do you think presented himself as Lord Bute's
guardian angel? only one of his bitterest enemies: a milk-white angel
[Duke of York], white even to his eyes and eyelashes, very purblind, and
whose tongue runs like a fiddlestick. You have seen this divinity, and
have prayed to it for a Riband. Well, this god of love became the god of
politics, and contrived meetings between Bute, Grenville, and Bedford;
but, what happens to highwaymen _after_ a robbery, happened to them
_before_; they quarrelled about the division of the plunder, before they
had made the capture--and thus, when the last letters came away, the
repeal was likely to pass in both houses, and tyranny once more

This is the quintessence of the present situation in England. To how
many _North Britons_, No. 45, will that wretched Scot furnish matter?
But let us talk of your _Cardinal Duke of York_[1]: so his folly has
left his brother in a worse situation than he took him up! _York_ seems
a title fated to sit on silly heads--or don't let us talk of him; he is
not worth it.

[Footnote 1: Cardinal York was the younger brother of Charles Edward. He
lived in Italy; and, after the death of his brother, assumed the title
of King of England as Henry IX. After the confiscation of the greater
part of the Papal revenues by Napoleon, his chief means of livelihood
was a pension of L4,000 a year allowed him by George IV. out of his
private purse.]

I am so sorry for the death of Lady Hillsborough, as I suppose Mr.
Skreene is glad of his consort's departure. She was a common creature,
bestowed on the public by Lord Sandwich. Lady Hillsborough had sense and
merit, and is a great loss to her family. By letters hither, we hear
miserable accounts of poor Sir James Macdonald; pray let him know that I
have written to him, and how much I am concerned for his situation.

This Court is plunged into another deep mourning for the death of old
Stanislaus,[1] who fell into the fire; it caught his night-gown and
burnt him terribly before he got assistance. His subjects are in
despair, for he was a model of goodness and humanity; uniting or rather
creating, generosity from economy. The Poles had not the sense to
re-elect him, after his virtues were proved, they who had chosen him
before they knew him. I am told such was the old man's affection for his
country, and persuasion that he ought to do all the good he could, that
he would have gone to Poland if they had offered him the crown. He has
left six hundred thousand livres, and a _rente viagere_ of forty
thousand crowns to the Queen, saved from the sale of his Polish estates,
from his pension of two millions, and from his own liberality. His
buildings, his employment of the poor, his magnificence, and his
economy, were constant topics of admiration. Not only the court-tables
were regularly and nobly served, but he treated, and defrayed his old
enemy's grand-daughter, the Princess Christina, on her journey hither to
see her sister the Dauphiness. When mesdames his grand-daughters made
him an unexpected visit, he was so disturbed for fear it should derange
his finances, which he thought were not in advance, that he shut himself
up for an hour with his treasurer, to find resources; was charmed to
know he should not run in debt, and entertained them magnificently. His
end was calm and gay, like his life, though he suffered terribly, and he
said so extraordinary a life could not finish in a common way. To a lady
who had set her ruffle on fire, and scorched her arm about the same
time, he said, "Madame, nous brulons du meme feu." The poor Queen had
sent him the very night-gown that occasioned his death: he wrote to her,
"C'etoit pour me tenir chaud, mais il m'a tenu trop chaud."

[Footnote 1: Stanislaus Leczinski was the father of the queen of Louis
XV. On the conclusion of peace between France and the Empire it was
arranged that the Duke of Lorraine should exchange that duchy for
Tuscany, and that Lorraine should be allotted to Stanislaus, with a
reversion to his daughter and to France after his death.]

Yesterday we had the funeral oration on the Dauphin; and are soon to
have one on Stanislaus. It is a noble subject; but if I had leisure, I
would compose a grand funeral oration on the number of princes dead
within these six months. What fine pictures, contrasts, and comparisons
they would furnish! The Duke of Parma and the King of Denmark reigning
virtuously with absolute power! The Emperor at the head of Europe, and
encompassed with mimic Roman eagles, tied to the apron-strings, of a
bigoted and jealous virago. The Dauphin cultivating virtues under the
shade of so bright a crown, and shining only at the moment that he was
snatched from the prospect of empire. The old Pretender wasting away in
obscurity and misfortune, after surviving the Duke of Cumberland, who
had given the last blow to the hopes of his family; and Stanislaus
perishing by an accident,--he who had swam over the billows raised by
Peter the Great and Charles XII., and reigning, while his successor and
second of his name was reigning on his throne. It is not taking from the
funereal part to add, that when so many good princes die, the Czarina is
still living!

The public again thinks itself on the eve of a war, by the recall of
Stahremberg, the Imperial Minister. It seems at least to destroy the
expectation of a match between the youngest Archduchess and the Dauphin,
which it was thought Stahremberg remained here to bring about. I like
your Great Duke for feeling the loss of his Minister. It is seldom that
a young sovereign misses a governor before he tastes the fruits of his
own incapacity.

_March_ 1_st_.

We have got more letters from England, where the Ministers are still
triumphant. They had a majority of 108 on the day that it was voted to
bring in a bill to repeal the Stamp Act. George Grenville's ignorance
and blunders were displayed to his face and to the whole world; he was
hissed through the Court of Requests, where Mr. Conway was huzza'd. It
went still farther for Mr. Pitt, whom the mob accompanied home with "Io
Pitts!" This is new for an opposition to be so unpopular. Adieu!



PARIS, _April_ 8, 1766.

I sent you a few lines by the post yesterday with the first accounts of
the insurrections at Madrid.[1] I have since seen Stahremberg, the
imperial minister,[2] who has had a courier from thence; and if Lord
Rochford has not sent one, you will not be sorry to know more
particulars. The mob disarmed the Invalids; stopped all coaches, to
prevent Squillaci's[3] flight; and meeting the Duke de Medina Celi,
forced him and the Duke d'Arcos to carry their demands to the King. His
most frightened Majesty granted them directly; on which his highness the
people despatched a monk with their demands in writing, couched in four
articles: the diminution of the gabel on bread and oil; the revocation
of the ordonnance on hats and cloaks; the banishment of Squillaci; and
the abolition of some other tax, I don't know what. The King signed
all; yet was still forced to appear in a balcony, and promise to observe
what he had granted. Squillaci was sent with an escort to Carthagena, to
embark for Naples, and the first commissioner of the treasury appointed
to succeed him; which does not look much like observation of the
conditions. Some say Ensenada is recalled, and that Grimaldi is in no
good odour with the people. If the latter and Squillaci are dismissed,
we get rid of two enemies.

[Footnote 1: The Spanish Government had taken on itself to regulate
dress, and to introduce French fashions into Madrid--an innovation so
offensive to Spanish pride, that it gave rise to a formidable
insurrection, of which the populace took advantage to demand the removal
of some obnoxious taxes.]

[Footnote 2: Prince Stahremberg was the imperial ambassador at Madrid.]

[Footnote 3: Signor Squillaci, an Italian, was the Spanish Prime

The tumult ceased on the grant of the demands; but the King retiring
that night to Aranjuez, the insurrection was renewed the next morning,
on pretence that this flight was a breach of the capitulation. The
people seized the gates of the capital, and permitted nobody to go out.
In this state were things when the courier came away. The ordonnance
against going in disguise looks as if some suspicions had been
conceived; and yet their confidence was so great as not to have two
thousand guards in the town. The pitiful behaviour of the Court makes
one think that the Italians were frightened, and that the Spanish part
of the ministry were not sorry it took that turn. As I suppose there is
no great city in Spain which has not at least a bigger bundle of
grievances than the capital, one shall not wonder if the pusillanimous
behaviour of the King encourages them to redress themselves too.

There is what is called a change of the ministry here; but it is only a
crossing over and figuring in. The Duc de Praslin has wished to retire
for some time; and for this last fortnight there has been much talk of
his being replaced by the Duc d'Aiguillon, the Duc de Nivernois, &c.;
but it is plain, though not believed till _now_, that the Duc de
Choiseul is all-powerful. To purchase the stay of his cousin Praslin, on
whom he can depend, and to leave no cranny open, he has ceded the marine
and colonies to the Duc de Praslin, and taken the foreign and military
department himself. His cousin is, besides, named _chef du conseil des
finances_; a very honourable, very dignified, and very idle place, and
never filled since the Duc de Bethune had it. Praslin's hopeful cub, the
Viscount, whom you saw in England last year, goes to Naples; and the
Marquis de Durfort to Vienna--a cold, dry, proud man, with the figure
and manner of Lord Cornbury.

Great matters are expected to-day from the Parliament, which
re-assembles. A _mousquetaire_, his piece loaded with a _lettre de
cachet_, went about a fortnight ago to the notary who keeps the
parliamentary registers, and demanded them. They were refused--but given
up, on the _lettre de cachet_ being produced. The Parliament intends to
try the notary for breach of trust, which I suppose will make his
fortune; though he has not the merit of perjury, like Carteret Webb.

There have been insurrections at Bourdeaux and Toulouse on the militia,
and twenty-seven persons were killed at the latter; but both are
appeased. These things are so much in vogue, that I wonder the French do
not dress _a la revolte_. The Queen is in a very dangerous way. This
will be my last letter; but I am not sure I shall set out before the
middle of next week. Yours ever.



STRAWBERRY HILL, _June_ 20, 1766.

I don't know when I shall see you, but therefore must not I write to
you? yet I have as little to say as may be. I could cry through a whole
page over the bad weather. I have but a lock of hay, you know, and I
cannot get it dry, unless I bring it to the fire. I would give
half-a-crown for a pennyworth of sun. It is abominable to be ruined in
coals in the middle of June.

What pleasure have you to come! there is a new thing published, that
will make you burst your cheeks with laughing. It is called the "New
Bath Guide."[1] It stole into the world, and for a fortnight no soul
looked into it, concluding its name was its true name. No such thing. It
is a set of letters in verse, in all kind of verses, describing the life
at Bath, and incidentally everything else; but so much wit, so much
humour, fun, and poetry, so much originality, never met together before.
Then the man has a better ear than Dryden or Handel. _Apropos_ to
Dryden, he has burlesqued his St. Cecilia, that you will never read it
again without laughing. There is a description of a milliner's box in
all the terms of landscape, _painted lawns and chequered shades_, a
Moravian ode, and a Methodist ditty, that are incomparable, and the best
names that ever were composed. I can say it by heart, though a quarto,
and if I had time would write it you down; for it is not yet reprinted,
and not one to be had.

[Footnote 1: By Christopher Anstey. "Have you read the 'New Bath Guide'?
It is the only thing in fashion, and is a new and original kind of
humour. Miss Prue's conversation I doubt you will paste down, as Sir W.
St. Quintyn did before he carried it to his daughter; yet I remember you
all read 'Crazy Tales' without pasting" (_Gray to Wharton.--Works by
Mitford_, vol. iv. p. 84).]

There are two new volumes, too, of Swift's Correspondence, that will not
amuse you less in another way, though abominable, for there are letters
of twenty persons now alive; fifty of Lady Betty Germain, one that does
her great honour, in which she defends her friend my Lady Suffolk, with
all the spirit in the world,[1] against that brute, who hated everybody
that he hoped would get him a mitre, and did not. There is one to his
Miss Vanhomrigh, from which I think it plain he lay with her,
notwithstanding his supposed incapacity, yet not doing much honour to
that capacity, for he says he can drink coffee but once a week, and I
think you will see very clearly what he means by coffee. His own journal
sent to Stella during the four last years of the Queen, is a fund of
entertainment. You will see his insolence in full colours, and, at the
same time, how daily vain he was of being noticed by the Ministers he
affected to treat arrogantly. His panic at the Mohocks is comical; but
what strikes one, is bringing before one's eyes the incidents of a
curious period. He goes to the rehearsal of "Cato," and says the _drab_
that acted Cato's daughter could not say her part. This was only Mrs.
Oldfield. I was saying before George Selwyn, that this journal put me in
mind of the present time, there was the same indecision, irresolution,
and want of system; but I added, "There is nothing new under the sun."
"No," said Selwyn, "nor under the grandson."

[Footnote 1: The letter dated Feb. 8, 1732-3.]

My Lord Chesterfield has done me much honour: he told Mrs. Anne Pitt
that he would subscribe to any politics I should lay down. When she
repeated this to me, I said, "Pray tell him I have laid down politics."

I am got into puns, and will tell you an excellent one of the King of
France, though it does not spell any better than Selwyn's. You must have
heard of Count Lauragais, and his horse-race, and his quacking his horse
till he killed it.[1] At his return the King asked him what he had been
doing in England? "Sire, j'ai appris a penser"--"Des chevaux?"[2]
replied the King. Good night! I am tired and going to bed. Yours ever.

[Footnote 1: In a previous letter Walpole mentioned that the Count and
the English Lord Forbes had had a race, which the Count lost; and that,
as his horse died the following night, surgeons were employed to open
the body, and they declared he had been poisoned. "The English," says
Walpole, "suspect that a groom, who, I suppose, had been reading Livy or
Demosthenes, poisoned it on patriotic principles to secure victory to
his country. The French, on the contrary, think poison as common as oats
or beans in the stables at Newmarket. In short, there is no impertinence
which they have not uttered; and it has gone so far that two nights ago
it was said that the King had forbidden another race which was appointed
for Monday between the Prince de Nassau and a Mr. Forth, to prevent
national animosities."]

[Footnote 2: Louis pretending to think he had said _pansen_.]



BATH, _Oct._ 10, 1766.

I am impatient to hear that your charity to me has not ended in the gout
to yourself--all my comfort is, if you have it, that you have good Lady
Brown to nurse you.[1]

[Footnote 1: In a letter of the preceding week he mentions having gone
to Bath to drink the waters there, but "is disappointed in the city.
Their new buildings, that are so admired, look like a collection of
little hospitals. The rest is detestable, and all crammed together, and
surrounded with perpendicular hills that have no beauty. The river [the
Avon] is paltry enough to be the Seine or the Tiber. Oh! how unlike my
lovely Thames!"]

My health advances faster than my amusement. However, I have been to one
opera, Mr. Wesley's. They have boys and girls with charming voices, that
sing hymns, in parts, to Scotch ballad tunes; but indeed so long, that
one would think they were already in eternity, and knew how much time
they had before them. The chapel is very neat, with true Gothic windows
(yet I am not converted); but I was glad to see that luxury is creeping
in upon them before persecution: they have very neat mahogany stands for
branches, and brackets of the same in taste. At the upper end is a broad
_hautpas_ of four steps, advancing in the middle: at each end of the
broadest part are two of _my_ eagles, with red cushions for the parson
and clerk. Behind them rise three more steps, in the midst of which is a
third eagle for pulpit. Scarlet armed chairs to all three. On either
hand, a balcony for elect ladies. The rest of the congregation sit on
forms. Behind the pit, in a dark niche, is a plain table within rails;
so you see the throne is for the apostle. Wesley is a lean elderly man,
fresh-coloured, his hair smoothly combed, but with a _soupcon_ of curl
at the ends. Wondrous clean, but as evidently an actor as Garrick. He
spoke his sermon, but so fast, and with so little accent, that I am sure
he has often uttered it, for it was like a lesson. There were parts and
eloquence in it; but towards the end he exalted his voice, and acted
very ugly enthusiasm; decried learning, and told stories, like Latimer,
of the fool of his college, who said, "I _thanks_ God for everything."
Except a few from curiosity, and _some honourable women_, the
congregation was very mean. There was a Scotch Countess of Buchan, who
is carrying a pure rosy vulgar face to heaven, and who asked Miss Rich,
if that was _the author of the poets_. I believe she meant me and the
"Noble Authors."

The Bedfords came last night. Lord Chatham was with me yesterday two
hours; looks and walks well, and is in excellent political spirits.



STRAWBERRY HILL, _July_ 20, 1767.

You have heard enough, even in the late reign, of our
_interministeriums_, not to be surprised that the present lasts so
long. I am not writing now to tell you it is at an end; but I thought
you might grow impatient.

The Parliament was scarcely separated when a negotiation was begun with
the Bedfords, through Lord Gower; with a view to strengthen the remains
of Administration by that faction,[1] but with no intention of including
George Grenville, who is more hated at Court than he is even in other
places. After some treaty, Lord Gower, much against his will, I believe,
was forced to bring word, that there was no objection made by his
friends to the Treasury remaining in the Duke of Grafton; that Grenville
would support without a place; but Lord Temple (who the deuce thought of
Lord Temple?) insisted on equal power, as he had demanded with Lord
Chatham. There was no end of that treaty! Another was then begun with
Lord Rockingham. He pleaded want of strength in his party, and he might
have pleaded almost every other want--and asked if he might talk to the
Bedfords. Yes! he might talk to whom he pleased, but the King insisted
on keeping the Chancellor, "and me," said the Duke of Grafton; but
added, that for himself, he was very willing to cede the Treasury to his
Lordship. Away goes the Marquis to Woburn; and, to charm the King more,
negotiates with both Grenvilles too. These last, who had demanded
everything of the Crown, were all submission to the Marquis, and yet
could not dupe him so fast as he tried to be duped. Oh! all, all were
ready to stay out, or turn their friends in, or what he pleased. He took
this for his own talents in negotiation, came back highly pleased, and
notified his success. The Duke of Grafton wrote to him that the King
meant they should come in, _to extend and strengthen his
Administration_. Too elated with his imaginary power, the Marquis
returned an answer, insolently civil to the Duke, and not commonly
decent for the place it was to be carried to. It said, that his Lordship
had laid it down for a principle of the treaty, that the present
Administration was at an end. That supposed, _he_ was ready to _form_ a
comprehensive Ministry, but first must talk to the King.

[Footnote 1: The difficulties were caused by Lord Chatham's illness. He,
though Prime Minister, only held the office of Lord Privy Seal, the Duke
of Grafton being First Lord of the Treasury; consequently, when Lord
Chatham became incapable of transacting any business whatever, even of
signing a resignation of his office, the Duke became the Prime Minister,
and continued so for three years.]

Instead of such an answer as such a _remonstrance_ deserved, a very
prudent reply was made. The King approved the idea of a comprehensive
Administration: he desired to unite the hearts of _all_ his subjects: he
meant to exclude men of no denomination attached to his person and
government; it was such a Ministry that _he_ intended to _appoint_. When


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