Letters of Horace Walpole
Horace Walpole

Part 2 out of 5

his Lordship should have _formed a plan_ on such views, his Majesty
would be ready to receive it from him. The great statesman was wofully
puzzled on receiving this message. However, he has summoned his new
allies to assist in composing a scheme or list. When they bring it, how
they will bring it formed, or whether they will ever bring it, the Lord
knows. There the matter rests at present. If the Marquis does not alter
his tone, he sinks for ever, and from being the head of a separate band,
he must fall into the train of Grenville, the man whom he and his
friends opposed on all the arbitrary acts of that Ministry, and whom
they have irremissibly offended by repealing his darling Stamp Act.
_Apropos_, America is pacified, and the two factions cannot join to fish
in troubled waters, there, at least.

Lord Clive[1] is arrived, has brought a million for himself, two diamond
drops worth twelve thousand pounds for the Queen, a scimitar dagger, and
other matters, covered with brilliants, for the King, and worth
twenty-four thousand more. These _baubles_ are presents from the deposed
and imprisoned Mogul, whose poverty can still afford to give such
bribes. Lord Clive refused some overplus, and gave it to some widows of
officers: it amounted to ninety thousand pounds. He has _reduced_ the
appointments of the Governor of Bengal to thirty-two thousand pounds a
year; and, what is better, has left such a chain of forts and
distribution of troops as will entirely secure possession of the
country--till we lose it. Thus having composed the Eastern and Western
worlds, we are at leisure to kick and cuff for our own little island,
which is great satisfaction; and I don't doubt but my Lord Temple hopes
that we shall be so far engaged before France and Spain are ripe to
meddle with us, that when they do come, they will not be able to
re-unite us.

[Footnote 1: It is hardly necessary to point out that this is the taker
of Arcot, the victor of Plassey, and even now second to none but Warren
Hastings in the splendid roll of Governors-General.]

Don't let me forget to tell you, that of all the friends you have shot
flying, there is no one whose friendship for you is so little dead as
Lord Hillsborough's. He spoke to me earnestly about your Riband the
other day, and said he had pressed to have it given to you. Write and
thank him. You have missed one by Lord Clive's returning alive, unless
he should give a hamper of diamonds for the Garter.

Well! I have remembered every point but one--and see how he is
forgotten! Lord Chatham! He was pressed to come forth and set the
Administration on its legs again. He pleaded total incapacity; grew
worse and grows better. Oh! how he ought to dread recovering!

Mr. Conway resigns the day after to-morrow. I hope in a week to tell you
something more positive than the uncertainties in this letter.



PARIS, _Sept._ 27, 1767.

Since you insist on my writing from hence, I will; I intended to defer
it a few days longer, as I shall set out on my return this day

Within the five weeks of my being here, there have happened three
deaths, which certainly nobody expected six weeks ago. Yet, though the
persons were all considerable, their loss will make little impression on
the state of any affairs.

Monsieur de Guerchy returned from his embassy with us about a month
before my arrival. He had been out of order some time, and had taken
waters, yet seeing him so often I had perceived no change, till I was
made to remark it, and then I did not think it considerable. On my
arrival, I was shocked at the precipitate alteration. He was emaciated,
yellow, and scarcely able to support himself. A fever came on in ten
days, mortification ensued, and carried him off. It is said that he had
concealed and tampered indiscreetly with an old complaint, acquired
before his marriage. This was his radical death; I doubt, vexation and
disappointment fermented the wound. Instead of the duchy he hoped, his
reception was freezing. He was a frank, gallant gentleman; universally
beloved with us; hated I believe by nobody, and by no means inferior in
understanding to many who affected to despise his abilities.

But our comet is set too! Charles Townshend[1] is dead. All those parts
and fire are extinguished; those volatile salts are evaporated; that
first eloquence of the world is dumb! that duplicity is fixed, that
cowardice terminated heroically. He joked on death as naturally as he
used to do on the living, and not with the affectation of philosophers,
who wind up their works with sayings which they hope to have remembered.
With a robust person he had always a menacing constitution. He had had a
fever the whole summer, recovered as it was thought, relapsed, was
neglected, and it turned to an incurable putrid fever.

[Footnote 1: Mr. Townshend was Chancellor of the Exchequer; and he
might have been added by Lord Macaulay to his list of men whom their
eloquence had caused to be placed in offices for which they were totally
unfit; for he had not only no special knowledge of finance, but he was
one of the most careless and incautious of mankind, even in his oratory.
In that, however, after the retirement of Lord Chatham, he seems to have
had no rival in either house but Mr. Burke. It was to his heedless
resumption of Grenville's plan of taxing our colonies in North America
that our loss of them was owing. In his "Memoirs of the Reign of George
III." Walpole gives the following description of him: "Charles
Townshend, who had studied nothing with accuracy or attention, had parts
that embraced all knowledge with such quickness that he seemed to create
knowledge, instead of searching for it; and, ready as Burke's wit was,
it appeared artificial when set by that of Townshend, which was so
abundant that in him it seemed a loss of time to think. He had but to
speak, and all he said was new, natural, and yet uncommon. If Burke
replied extempore, his very answers that sprang from what had been said
by others were so pointed and artfully arranged that they wore the
appearance of study and preparation; like beautiful translations, they
seemed to want the soul of the original author. Townshend's speeches,
like the 'Satires' of Pope, had a thousand times more sense and meaning
than the majestic blank verse of Pitt; and yet the latter, like Milton,
stalked with a conscious dignity of pre-eminence, and fascinated his
audience with that respect which always attends the pompous but often
hollow idea of the sublime." Burke, too, in one of his speeches on
American affairs, utters a still warmer panegyric on his character and
abilities, while lamenting his policy and its fruits: "I speak of
Charles Townshend, officially the reproducer of this fatal scheme [the
taxation of the colonies], whom I cannot, even now, remember without
some degree of sensibility. In truth, Sir, he was the delight and
ornament of this House, and the charm of every private society which he
honoured with his presence. Perhaps there never arose in this country,
nor in any country, a man of a more pointed and finished wit, and (where
his passions were not concerned) of a more refined, exquisite, and
penetrating judgment. If he had not so great a stock, as some have had
who flourished formerly, of knowledge long treasured up, he knew better
by far than any man I was ever acquainted with how to bring together
within a short time all that was necessary to establish, to illustrate,
and to decorate that side of the question he supported. He stated his
matter skillfully and powerfully. He particularly excelled in a most
luminous explanation and display of his subject. His style of argument
was neither trite nor vulgar, nor subtle and abstruse. He hit the House
between wind and water; and, not being troubled with too anxious a zeal
for any matter in question, he was never more tedious nor more earnest
than the preconceived opinions and present temper of his hearers
required, with whom he was always in perfect unison. He conformed
exactly to the temper of the House; and he seemed to lead because he was
always sure to follow it."]

The Opposition expected that the loss of this essential pin would loosen
the whole frame; but it had been hard, if both his life and death were
to be pernicious to the Administration. He had engaged to betray the
latter to the former, as I knew early, and as Lord Mansfield has since
declared. I therefore could not think the loss of him a misfortune. His
seals were immediately offered to Lord North,[1] who declined them. The
Opposition rejoiced; but they ought to have been better acquainted with
one educated in their own school. Lord North has since accepted the
seals--and the reversion of his father's pension.

[Footnote 1: Lord North succeeded Townshend as Chancellor of the
Exchequer; and, when the Duke of Grafton retired, he became First Lord
of the Treasury also, and continued to hold both offices till the spring
of 1782.]

While that eccentric genius, Charles Townshend, whom no system could
contain, is whirled out of existence, our more artificial meteor, Lord
Chatham, seems to be wheeling back to the sphere of business--at least
his health is declared to be re-established; but he has lost his
adorers, the mob, and I doubt the wise men will not travel after his

You, my dear Sir, will be most concerned for the poor Duke of York,[1]
who has ended his silly, good-humoured, troublesome career, in a piteous
manner. He had come to the camp at Compiegne, without his brother's
approbation, but had been received here not only with every proper mark
of distinction, but with the utmost kindness. He had succeeded, too, was
attentive, civil, obliging, lively, pleased, and very happy in his
replies. Charmed with a Court so lively in comparison of the monastic
scene at home, he had promised to return for Fontainebleau, and then
scampered away as fast as he could ride or drive all round the South of
France, intending to visit a lady at Genoa, with whom he was in love,
whenever he had a minute's time. The Duc de Villars gave him a ball at
his country-house, between Aix and Marseilles; the Duke of York danced
at it all night as hard as if it made part of his road, and then in a
violent sweat, and without changing his linen, got into his postchaise.
At Marseilles the scene changed. He arrived in a fever, and found among
his letters, which he had ordered to meet him there, one from the King
his brother, forbidding him to go to Compiegne, by the advice of the
Hereditary Prince. He was struck with this letter, which he had
ignorantly disobeyed, and by the same ignorance had not answered. He
proceeded, however, on his journey, but grew so ill that his gentlemen
carried him to Monaco, where he arrived on the third, and languished
with great suffering until the seventeenth. He behaved with the most
perfect tranquillity and courage, made a short will, and the day before
he died dictated to Colonel St. John, a letter to the King, in which he
begged his forgiveness for every instance in which he had offended him,
and entreated his favour to his servants. He would have particularly
recommended St. John, but the young man said handsomely, "Sir, if the
letter were written by your Royal Highness yourself, it would be most
kind to me; but I cannot name myself." The Prince of Monaco, who
happened to be on the spot, was unbounded in his attentions to him, both
of care and honours; and visited him every hour till the Duke grew too
weak to see him. Two days before he died the Duke sent for the Prince,
and thanked him. The Prince burst into tears and could not speak, and
retiring, begged the Duke's officers to prevent his being sent for
again, for the shock was too great. They made as magnificent a coffin
and pall for him as the time and place would admit, and in the evening
of the 17th the body was embarked on board an English ship, which
received the corpse with military honours, the cannon of the town
saluting it with the same discharge as is paid to a Marshal of France.
St. John and Morrison embarked with the body, and Colonel Wrottesley
passed through here with the news. The poor lad was in tears the whole
time he stayed....

[Footnote 1: The Duke of York was the King's younger brother.]

You tell me of the French playing at whist;[1] why, I found it
established when I was last here. I told them they were very good to
imitate us in anything, but that they had adopted the two dullest things
we have, Whist and Richardson's Novels.

[Footnote 1: Walpole here speaks of whist as a game of but new
introduction in Paris, though it had been for some time established with
us. And the great authority on that scientific and beautiful game, the
late Mr. James Clay, writing about twenty years ago, fixes "thirty or
more years" before that date as the time when first "we began to hear of
the great Paris players. There was," he says, "a wide difference between
their system and our own," the special distinction being that "the
English player of the old school never thought of winning the game until
he saw that it was saved; the French player never thought of saving the
game until he saw that he could not win it;" and "if forced to take his
choice between these systems carried to their extremes." Mr. Clay
"would, without hesitation, prefer the game of rash attack" (that is,
the French system) "to that of over-cautious defence." And he assigns to
a French player, M. Des Chapelles, "the credit of being the finest
whist-player, beyond any comparison, the world has ever seen."]

So you and the Pope are going to have the Emperor! Times are a little
altered; no Guelphs and Ghibellines[1] now. I do not think the Caesar of
the day will hold his Holiness's stirrup[2] while he mounts his palfrey.

[Footnote 1: "_Guelfs and Ghibellines._" These two names were first
heard in the latter part of the twelfth century, to distinguish the
partisans of the Emperor and the Pope. "The Guelfs or Welfs were the
ancestors of Henry the Proud, who, through his mother, represented the
ancient Dukes of Saxony. The word Ghibelin is derived from Wibelung, a
town in Franconia, from which the emperors of that time are said to nave
sprung. The house of Swabia were considered in Germany as representing
that of Franconia" (Hallam, "Middle Ages," ii. p. 101).]

[Footnote 2: "_His Holiness's stirrup._" This refers to the humiliation
imposed on the Emperor Frederic Barbarossa by Pope Alexander III., as
related by Byron in his note on "Childe Harold," c. iv. st. 12.]



ARLINGTON STREET, _Feb._ 18, 1768.

You have sent me a long and very obliging letter, and yet I am extremely
out of humour with you. I saw _Poems_ by _Mr. Gray_ advertised: I called
directly at Dodsley's to know if this was to be more than a new edition?
He was not at home himself, but his foreman told me he thought there
were some new pieces, and notes to the whole. It was very unkind, not
only to go out of town without mentioning them to me, without showing
them to me, but not to say a word of them in this letter. Do you think I
am indifferent, or not curious about what you write? I have ceased to
ask you, because you have so long refused to show me anything. You could
not suppose I thought that you never write. No; but I concluded you did
not intend, at least yet, to publish what you had written. As you did
intend it, I might have expected a month's preference. You will do me
the justice to own that I had always rather have seen your writings than
have shown you mine; which you know are the most hasty trifles in the
world, and which though I may be fond of the subject when fresh, I
constantly forget in a very short time after they are published. This
would sound like affectation to others, but will not to you. It would be
affected, even to you, to say I am indifferent to fame. I certainly am
not, but I am indifferent to almost anything I have done to acquire it.
The greater part are mere compilations; and no wonder they are, as you
say, incorrect, when they are commonly written with people in the room,
as "Richard"[1] and the "Noble Authors" were. But I doubt there is a
more intrinsic fault in them: which is, that I cannot correct them. If I
write tolerably, it must be at once; I can neither mend nor add. The
articles of Lord Capel and Lord Peterborough, in the second edition of
the "Noble Authors," cost me more trouble than all the rest together:
and you may perceive that the worst part of "Richard," in point of ease
and style, is what relates to the papers you gave me on Jane Shore,
because it was tacked on so long afterwards, and when my impetus was
chilled. If some time or other you will take the trouble of pointing out
the inaccuracies of it, I shall be much obliged to you: at present I
shall meddle no more with it. It has taken its fate: nor did I mean to
complain. I found it was condemned indeed beforehand, which was what I
alluded to. Since publication (as has happened to me before) the success
has gone beyond my expectation.

[Footnote 1: He is here alluding to his own very clever essay, entitled
"Historic Doubts on the Life and Reign of Richard III." It failed to
convince Hume; but can hardly be denied to be a singularly acute
specimen of historical criticism. It does not, indeed, prove Richard to
have been innocent of all the crimes imputed to him; but it proves
conclusively that much of the evidence by which the various charges are
supported is false. In an earlier letter he mentions having first made
"a discovery, one of the most marvellous ever made. In short, it is the
original Coronation Roll of Richard, by which it appears that very
magnificent robes were ordered for Edward V., and that he did or was to
walk at his uncle's coronation." The letter, from which this passage is
an extract, was to a certain extent an answer to one from Gray, who,
while praising the ingenuity of his arguments, avowed himself still
unconvinced by them.]

Not only at Cambridge, but here, there have been people wise enough to
think me too free with the King of Prussia! A newspaper has talked of my
known inveteracy to him. Truly, I love him as well as I do most kings.
The greater offence is my reflection on Lord Clarendon. It is forgotten
that I had overpraised him before. Pray turn to the new State Papers,
from which, _it is said_, he composed his history. You will find they
are the papers from which he did _not_ compose his history. And yet I
admire my Lord Clarendon more than these pretended admirers do. But I do
not intend to justify myself. I can as little satisfy those who complain
that I do not let them know what _really did_ happen. If this inquiry
can ferret out any truth, I shall be glad. I have picked up a few more
circumstances. I now want to know what Perkin Warbeck's Proclamation
was, which Speed in his history says is preserved by Bishop Leslie. If
you look in Speed perhaps you will be able to assist me.

The Duke of Richmond and Lord Lyttelton agree with you, that I have not
disculpated Richard of the murder of Henry VI. I own to you, it is the
crime of which in my own mind I believe him most guiltless. Had I
thought he committed it, I should never have taken the trouble to
apologize for the rest. I am not at all positive or obstinate on your
other objections, nor know exactly what I believe on many points of this
story. And I am so sincere, that, except a few notes hereafter, I shall
leave the matter to be settled or discussed by others. As you have
written much too little, I have written a great deal too much, and think
only of finishing the two or three other things I have begun--and of
those, nothing but the last volume of Painters is designed for the
present public. What has one to do when turned fifty, but really think
of _finishing_?

I am much obliged and flattered by Mr. Mason's approbation, and
particularly by having had almost the same thought with him. I said,
"People need not be angry at my excusing Richard; I have not diminished
their fund of hatred, I have only transferred it from Richard to Henry."
Well, but I have found you close with Mason--No doubt, cry prating I,
something will come out....[1]

[Footnote 1: "_Something will come out._" Walpole himself points out in
a note that this is a quotation from Pope: "I have found him close with
Swift." "Indeed?" "No doubt, (Cries prating Balbus) something will come
out" (Prologue to the "Satires").]

Pray read the new Account of Corsica.[1] What relates to Paoli will
amuse you much. There is a deal about the island and its divisions that
one does not care a straw for. The author, Boswell, is a strange being,
and, like Cambridge, has a rage of knowing anybody that ever was talked
of. He forced himself upon me at Paris in spite of my teeth and my
doors, and I see has given a foolish account of all he could pick up
from me about King Theodore.[2] He then took an antipathy to me on
Rousseau's account, abused me in the newspapers, and exhorted Rousseau
to do so too: but as he came to see me no more, I forgave all the rest.
I see he now is a little sick of Rousseau himself; but I hope it will
not cure him of his anger to me. However, his book will I am sure
entertain you.

[Footnote 1: Boswell, Dr. Johnson's celebrated biographer, had taken
great interest in the affairs of Corsica, which, in this year (1768),
Choiseul, the Prime Minister of France, had bought of Genoa, to which
State it had long belonged. Paoli was a Corsican noble, who had roused
his countrymen to throw off the domination of Genoa; and, on the arrival
of French troops to take possession of their purchase, he made a
vigorous resistance to the French General, the Comte de Marboeuf; but
eventually he was overpowered, and forced to fly. He took refuge in
England, where George III. granted him a pension, which he enjoyed till
his death in 1807, when he was buried in Westminster Abbey. One of his
relations was M. Charles Buonaparte, the father of Napoleon, who was
only prevented from accompanying him in his abandonment of Corsica by
the persuasion of his uncle, the Archdeacon of Ajaccio. Boswell, who was
apt to be enthusiastic in his hero-worship and anxiety for new
acquaintances (whom, it must be admitted, he commonly chose with
judgement, if with little dignity), introduced him to Johnson, who also
conceived a high regard for him, and on one occasion remarked that "he
had the loftiest port of any man he had ever seen."]

[Footnote 2: After several outbreaks within a few years, the Corsicans
in 1736 embarked in a revolt so formal and complete that they
altogether threw off their allegiance to Genoa, and chose as their king
Theodore Neuhof, a Westphalian baron. But Cardinal Fleury, the French
Prime Minister, from a belief that Theodore was an instrument of
Walpole, lent the Genoese a force of three thousand men, which at last
succeeded in crushing the insurrection and expelling Theodore. (See the
Editor's "France under the Bourbons," iii. 157.) Theodore is one of the
six ex-kings whom, in Voltaire's "Candide," his hero met at a hotel in
Venice during the carnival, when he gave a melancholy account of his
reverse of fortune. "He had been called 'Your Majesty;' now he can
hardly find any one to call him 'Sir.' He had coined money; now he has
not a penny of his own. He had had two Secretaries of State; now he has
but one valet. He had sat on a throne; but since that time he had laid
on straw in a London prison." In fact, his state was so doleful, that
the other ex-kings subscribed twenty sequins apiece to buy him some
coats and shirts ("Candide," c. 26).]

I will add but a word or two more. I am criticised for the expression
_tinker up_ in the preface. Is this one of those that you object to? I
own I think such a low expression, placed to ridicule an absurd instance
of wise folly, very forcible. Replace it with an elevated word or
phrase, and to my conception it becomes as flat as possible.

George Selwyn says I may, if I please, write Historic Doubts on the
present Duke of G[loucester] too. Indeed, they would be doubts, for I
know nothing certainly.

Will you be so kind as to look into Leslie "De Rebus Scotorum," and see
if Perkin's Proclamation is there, and if there, how authenticated. You
will find in Speed my reason for asking this. I have written in such a
hurry, I believe you will scarce be able to read my letter--and as I
have just been writing French, perhaps the sense may not be clearer than
the writing. Adieu!



ARLINGTON STREET, _Thursday, March_ 31, 1768.

I have received your letter, with the extract of that from Mr.
Mackenzie. I do not think any honours will be bestowed yet. The Peerages
are all postponed to an indefinite time. If you are in a violent hurry,
you may petition the ghosts of your neighbours--Masaniello and the
Gracchi. The spirit of one of them walks here; nay, I saw it go by my
window yesterday, at noon, in a hackney chair.


I was interrupted yesterday. The ghost is laid for a time in a red sea
of port and claret. The spectre is the famous Wilkes. He appeared the
moment the Parliament was dissolved. The Ministry despise him. He stood
for the City of London, and was the last on the poll of seven
candidates, none but the mob, and most of them without votes, favouring
him. He then offered himself to the county of Middlesex. The election
came on last Monday. By five in the morning a very large body of
Weavers, &c., took possession of Piccadilly, and the roads and turnpikes
leading to Brentford, and would suffer nobody to pass without blue
cockades, and papers inscribed "_No. 45, Wilkes and Liberty_." They tore
to pieces the coaches of Sir W. Beauchamp Proctor, and Mr. Cooke, the
other candidates, though the latter was not there, but in bed with the
gout, and it was with difficulty that Sir William and Mr. Cooke's cousin
got to Brentford. There, however, lest it should be declared a void
election, Wilkes had the sense to keep everything quiet. But, about
five, Wilkes, being considerably ahead of the other two, his mob
returned to town and behaved outrageously. They stopped every carriage,
scratched and spoilt several with writing all over them "No. 45,"
pelted, threw dirt and stones, and forced everybody to huzza for Wilkes.
I did but cross Piccadilly at eight, in my coach with a French Monsieur
d'Angeul, whom I was carrying to Lady Hertford's; they stopped us, and
bid us huzza. I desired him to let down the glass on his side, but, as
he was not alert, they broke it to shatters. At night they insisted, in
several streets, on houses being illuminated, and several Scotch
refusing, had their windows broken. Another mob rose in the City, and
Harley, the present Mayor, being another Sir William Walworth, and
having acted formerly and now with great spirit against Wilkes, and the
Mansion House not being illuminated, and he out of town, they broke
every window, and tried to force their way into the House. The Trained
Bands were sent for, but did not suffice. At last a party of guards,
from the Tower, and some lights erected, dispersed the tumult. At one in
the morning a riot began before Lord Bute's house, in Audley Street,
though illuminated. They flung two large flints into Lady Bute's
chamber, who was in bed, and broke every window in the house. Next
morning, Wilkes and Cooke were returned members. The day was very
quiet, but at night they rose again, and obliged almost every house in
town to be lighted up, even the Duke of Cumberland's and Princess
Amelia's. About one o'clock they marched to the Duchess of Hamilton's in
Argyle Buildings (Lord Lorn being in Scotland). She was obstinate, and
would not illuminate, though with child, and, as they hope, of an heir
to the family, and with the Duke, her son, and the rest of her children
in the house. There is a small court and parapet wall before the house:
they brought iron crows, tore down the gates, pulled up the pavement,
and battered the house for three hours. They could not find the key of
the back door, nor send for any assistance. The night before, they had
obliged the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland to give them beer, and
appear at the windows, and drink "Wilkes's health." They stopped and
opened the coach of Count Seilern, the Austrian ambassador, who has made
a formal complaint, on which the Council met on Wednesday night, and
were going to issue a Proclamation, but, hearing that all was quiet, and
that only a few houses were illuminated in Leicester Fields from the
terror of the inhabitants, a few constables were sent with orders to
extinguish the lights, and not the smallest disorder has happened since.
In short, it has ended like other election riots, and with not a quarter
of the mischief that has been done in some other towns.

There are, however, difficulties to come. Wilkes has notified that he
intends to surrender himself to his outlawry, the beginning of next
term, which comes on the 17th of this month. There is said to be a flaw
in the proceedings, in which case his election will be good, though the
King's Bench may fine or imprison him on his former sentence. In my own
opinion, the House of Commons is the place where he can do the least
hurt, for he is a wretched speaker, and will sink to contempt, like
Admiral Vernon,[1] who I remember just such an illuminated hero, with
two birthdays in one year. You will say, he can write better than
Vernon--true; and therefore his case is more desperate. Besides, Vernon
was rich: Wilkes is undone; and, though he has had great support, his
patrons will be sick of maintaining him. He must either sink to poverty
and a jail, or commit new excesses, for which he will get knocked on the
head. The Scotch are his implacable enemies to a man. A Rienzi[2] cannot
stop: their histories are summed up in two words--a triumph and an

[Footnote 1: In 1739 our Government had declared war against Spain.
"There was at the time among the members of the Opposition in the House
of Commons a naval captain named Vernon, a man of bold, blustering
tongue, and presumed therefore by many to be of a corresponding
readiness of action. In some of the debates he took occasion to inveigh
against the timidity of our officers, who had hitherto, as he phrased
it, spared Porto Bello; and he affirmed that he could take it himself
with a squadron of six ships. The Ministry caught at the prospect of
delivering themselves from his harangues, and gave him half as many
ships again as he desired, with the temporary rank of Vice-admiral; and
on July, 1739, he sailed for the American coast. When he reached it he
found that the news of the rupture of the peace had not yet reached the
governor of the city, and that it was in no condition to resist an
attack. Many of the guns were dismounted; and for those that were
serviceable there was not sufficient ammunition. A fire of musketry
alone sufficed to win the fort that protected the entrance to the
harbour, and an equally brief cannonade drove the garrison from the
castle. The governor had no further means of defence; and thus in
forty-eight hours after his arrival Vernon had accomplished his boast,
and was master of the place." In a clever paper in the "Cambridge Museum
Philologicum" Bishop Thirlwall compared the man and his exploit to Cleon
and his achievement at Sphacteria in the Peloponnesian War. (See the
Editor's "History of the British Navy," c. 9.)]

[Footnote 2: "_Rienzi._"

Then turn we to her latest tribune's name,
From her ten thousand tyrants turn to thee,
Redeemer of dark centuries of shame,
The friend of Petrarch, hope of Italy,
Rienzi; last of Romans.

("Childe Harold," iv. 114.)

His story is told with almost more than his usual power by Gibbon (c.
70). Born in the lowest class, "he could inherit neither dignity nor
fortune; and the gift of a liberal education, which they painfully
bestowed, was the cause of his glory and his untimely end." He, while
still little more than a youth, had established such a reputation for
eloquence, that he was one of the deputies sent by the Commons to
Avignon to plead with the Pope (Clement VI.). The state of Rome,
aggravated by the absence of the Pope, was miserable in the extreme. The
citizens "were equally oppressed by the arrogance of the nobles and the
corruption of the magistrates." Rienzi recalled to their recollection
"the ancient glories of the Senate and people from whom all legal
authority was derived. He raised the enthusiasm of the populace;
collected a band of conspirators, at whose head, clad in complete
armour, he marched to the Capitol, and assumed the government of the
city, declining "the names of Senator or Consul, of King or Emperor, and
preferring the ancient and modern appellation of Tribune.... Never
perhaps has the energy and effect of a single mind been more remarkably
felt than in the sudden, though transient, reformation of Rome by the
Tribune Rienzi. A den of robbers was converted to the discipline of a
camp or convent. Patient to hear, swift to redress, inexorable to
punish, his tribunal was always accessible to the poor and the stranger;
nor could birth, nor dignity, nor the immunities of the Church protect
the offender or his accomplices." But his head was turned by his
success. He even caused himself to be crowned, while "his wife, his son,
and his uncle, a barber, exposed the contrast of vulgar manners and
princely expense; and, without acquiring the majesty, Rienzi degenerated
into the vices of a king." The people became indignant; the nobles whom
he had degraded found it easy to raise the public feeling against him.
Before the end of the same year (1347) he was forced to fly from Rome,
and lived in exile or imprisonment at Avignon seven years; and returned
to Rome in 1354, only to be murdered in an insurrection.]

I must finish, for Lord Hertford is this moment come in, and insists on
my dining with the Prince of Monaco, who is come over to thank the King
for the presents his Majesty sent him on his kindness and attention to
the late Duke of York. You shall hear the suite of the above histories,
which I sit quietly and look at, having nothing more to do with the
storm, and sick of politics, but as a spectator, while they pass over
the stage of the world. Adieu!



STRAWBERRY HILL, _April_ 15, 1768.

Mr. Chute tells me that you have taken a new house in Squireland, and
have given yourself up for two years more to port and parsons. I am very
angry, and resign you to the works of the devil or the church, I don't
care which. You will get the gout, turn Methodist, and expect to ride to
heaven upon your own great toe. I was happy with your telling me how
well you love me, and though I don't love loving, I could have poured
out all the fulness of my heart to such an old and true friend; but what
am I the better for it, if I am to see you but two or three days in the
year? I thought you would at last come and while away the remainder of
life on the banks of the Thames in gaiety and old tales. I have quitted
the stage, and the Clive[1] is preparing to leave it. We shall neither
of us ever be grave: dowagers roost all around us, and you could never
want cards or mirth. Will you end like a fat farmer, repeating annually
the price of oats, and discussing stale newspapers? There have you got,
I hear, into an old gallery, that has not been glazed since Queen
Elizabeth, and under the nose of an infant Duke and Duchess, that will
understand you no more than if you wore a ruff and a coif, and talk to
them of a call of Serjeants the year of the Spanish Armada! Your wit and
humour will be as much lost upon them, as if you talked the dialect of
Chaucer; for with all the divinity of wit, it grows out of fashion like
a fardingale. I am convinced that the young men at White's already laugh
at George Selwyn's _bon mots_ only by tradition. I avoid talking before
the youth of the age as I would dancing before them; for if one's tongue
don't move in the steps of the day, and thinks to please by its old
graces, it is only an object of ridicule, like Mrs. Hobart in her
cotillon. I tell you we should get together, and comfort ourselves with
reflecting on the brave days that we have known--not that I think people
were a jot more clever or wise in our youth than they are now; but as my
system is always to live in a vision as much as I can, and as visions
don't increase with years, there is nothing so natural as to think one
remembers what one does not remember.

[Footnote 1: Mrs. Clive was a celebrated comic actress and wit, and a
near neighbour of Walpole at Twickenham.]


I have finished my Tragedy ["The Mysterious Mother"], but as you would
not bear the subject, I will say no more of it, but that Mr. Chute, who
is not easily pleased, likes it, and Gray, who is still more difficult,
approves it. I am not yet intoxicated enough with it to think it would
do for the stage, though I wish to see it acted; but, as Mrs.
Pritchard[1] leaves the stage next month, I know nobody could play the
Countess; nor am I disposed to expose myself to the impertinences of
that jackanapes Garrick, who lets nothing appear but his own wretched
stuff, or that of creatures still duller, who suffer him to alter their
pieces as he pleases. I have written an epilogue in character for the
Clive, which she would speak admirably: but I am not so sure that she
would like to speak it. Mr. Conway, Lady Aylesbury, Lady Lyttelton, and
Miss Rich, are to come hither the day after to-morrow, and Mr. Conway
and I are to read my play to them; for I have not strength enough to go
through the whole alone.

[Footnote 1: Mrs. Pritchard was the most popular tragic actress of the
day. Churchill gives her high praise--

In spite of outward blemishes, she shone
For humour fam'd, and humour all her own.

("Rosciad," 840.)]

My press is revived, and is printing a French play written by the old
President Henault.[1] It was damned many years ago at Paris, and yet I
think is better than some that have succeeded, and much better than any
of our modern tragedies. I print it to please the old man, as he was
exceedingly kind to me at Paris; but I doubt whether he will live till
it is finished. He is to have a hundred copies, and there are to be but
a hundred more, of which you shall have one.

[Footnote 1: M. Henault was President of the Parliament of Paris. His
tragedy was "Cornelie." He died in 1770, at the age of eighty-six.]

Adieu! though I am very angry with you, I deserve all your friendship,
by that I have for you, witness my anger and disappointment. Yours ever.

P.S.--Send me your new direction, and tell me when I must begin to use



STRAWBERRY HILL, _June_ 9, 1768.

To send you empty paragraphs when you expect and want news is
tantalising, is it not? Pray agree with me, and then you will allow that
I have acted very kindly in not writing till I had something to tell
you. _Something_, of course, means Wilkes, for everything is nothing
except the theme of the day. There has appeared a violent _North
Briton_, addressed to, and written against Lord Mansfield, threatening a
rebellion if he continued to persecute Mr. Wilkes. This paper, they say,
Wilkes owned to the Chevalier de Chastelux, a French gentleman, who went
to see him in the King's Bench, and who knew him at Paris. A rebellion
threatened in print is not very terrible. However, it was said that the
paper was outrageous enough to furnish the Law with every handle it
could want. But modern mountains do not degenerate from their ancestors;
their issue are still mice. You know, too, that this agrees with my
system, that this is an age of abortions. Prosecutions were ordered
against the publishers and vendors, and there, I suppose, it will end.

Yesterday was fixed for the appearance of Wilkes in Westminster Hall.
The Judges went down by nine in the morning, but the mob had done
breakfast still sooner, and was there before them; and as Judges stuffed
out with dignity and lamb-skins are not absolute sprites, they had much
ado to glide through the crowd. Wilkes's counsel argued against the
outlawry, and then Lord Mansfield, in a speech of an hour and a half,
set it aside; not on _their_ reasons, but on grounds which he had
discovered in it himself. I think they say it was on some flaw in the
Christian name of the county, which should not have been _Middlesex to
wit_,--but I protest I don't know, for I am here alone, and picked up my
intelligence as I walked in our meadows by the river. You, who may be
walking by the Arno, will, perhaps, think there was some timidity in
this; but the depths of the Law are wonderful! So pray don't make any
rash conclusions, but stay till you get better information.

Well! now he is gone to prison again,--I mean Wilkes; and on Tuesday he
is to return to receive sentence on the old guilt of writing, as the
Scotch would _not_ call it, _the_ 45,[1] though they call the rebellion
so. The sentence may be imprisonment, fine, or pillory; but as I am
still near the Thames, I do not think the latter will be chosen. Oh! but
stay, he may plead against the indictment, and should there be an
improper _Middlesex to wit_ in that too, why then in that case, you
know, he did _not_ write _the_ 45, and then he is as white as milk, and
as free as air, and as good a member of Parliament as if he had never
been expelled. In short, my dear Sir, I am trying to explain to you
what I literally do not understand; all I do know is, that Mr. Cooke,
the other member for Middlesex, is just dead, and that we are going to
have another Middlesex election, which is very unpleasant to me, who
hate mobs so near as Brentford. Sergeant Glynn, Wilkes's counsel, is the
candidate, and I suppose the only one in the present humour of the
people, who will care to have his brains dashed out, in order to sit in
Parliament. In truth, this enthusiasm is confined to the very mob or
little higher, and does not extend beyond the County. All other riots
are ceased, except the little civil war between the sailors and
coal-heavers, in which two or three lives are lost every week.

[Footnote 1: "_The_ 45" here serves for the Scotch rebellion of 1745,
and for No. 45 of the _North Briton_.]

What is most disagreeable, even the Emperor of Morocco has taken courage
on these tumults, and has dared to mutiny for increase of wages, like
our journeymen tailors. France is pert too, and gives herself airs in
the Mediterranean. Our Paolists were violent for support of Corsica, but
I think they are a little startled on a report that the hero Paoli is
like other patriots, and is gone to Versailles, for a peerage and
pension. I was told to-day that at London there are murmurs of a war. I
shall be sorry if it prove so. Deaths! suspense, say victory;--how end
all our victories? In debts and a wretched peace! Mad world, in the
individual or the aggregate!

Well! say I to myself, and what is all this to me? Have not I done with
that world? Am not I here at peace, unconnected with Courts and
Ministries, and indifferent who is Minister? What is a war in Europe to
me more than a war between the Turkish and Persian Emperors? True; yet
self-love makes one love the nation one belongs to, and vanity makes one
wish to have that nation glorious. Well! I have seen it so; I have seen
its conquests spread farther than Roman eagles thought there was land. I
have seen too the Pretender at Derby; and, therefore, you must know that
I am content with historic seeing, and wish Fame and History would be
quiet and content without entertaining me with any more sights. We were
down at Derby, we were up at both Indies; I have no curiosity for any
intermediate sights.

Your brother was with me just before I came out of town, and spoke of
you with great kindness, and accused himself of not writing to you, but
protested it was from not knowing what to say to you about the Riband. I
engaged to write for him, so you must take this letter as from him too.

I hope there will be no war for some hero to take your honours out of
your mouth, sword in hand. The first question I shall ask when I go to
town will be, how my Lord Chatham does? I shall mind his health more
than the stocks. The least symptom of a war will certainly cure him.
Adieu! my dear Sir.



STRAWBERRY HILL, _June_ 15, 1768.

No, I cannot be so false as to say I am glad you are pleased with your
situation. You are so apt to take root, that it requires ten years to
dig you out again when you once begin to settle. As you go pitching your
tent up and down, I wish you were still more a Tartar, and shifted your
quarters perpetually. Yes, I will come and see you; but tell me first,
when do your Duke and Duchess [the Argylls] travel to the North? I know
that he is a very amiable lad, and I do not know that she is not as
amiable a _laddess_, but I had rather see their house comfortably when
they are not there.

I perceive the deluge fell upon you before it reached us. It began here
but on Monday last, and then rained near eight-and-forty hours without
intermission. My poor hay has not a dry thread to its back. I have had a
fire these three days. In short, every summer one lives in a state of
mutiny and murmur, and I have found the reason: it is because we will
affect to have a summer, and we have no title to any such thing. Our
poets learnt their trade of the Romans, and so adopted the terms of
their masters. They talk of shady groves, purling streams, and cooling
breezes, and we get sore-throats and agues with attempting to realise
these visions. Master Damon writes a song, and invites Miss Chloe to
enjoy the cool of the evening, and the deuce a bit have we of any such
thing as a cool evening. Zephyr is a north-east wind, that makes Damon
button up to the chin, and pinches Chloe's nose till it is red and blue;
and then they cry, _This is a bad summer_! as if we ever had any other.
The best sun we have is made of Newcastle coal, and I am determined
never to reckon upon any other. We ruin ourselves with inviting over
foreign trees, and making our houses clamber up hills to look at
prospects. How our ancestors would laugh at us, who knew there was no
being comfortable, unless you had a high hill before your nose, and a
thick warm wood at your back! Taste is too freezing a commodity for us,
and, depend upon it, will go out of fashion again.

There is indeed a natural warmth in this country, which, as you say, I
am very glad not to enjoy any longer; I mean the hot-house in St.
Stephen's chapel. My own sagacity makes me very vain, though there was
very little merit in it. I had seen so much of all parties, that I had
little esteem left for any; it is most indifferent to me who is in or
who is out, or which is set in the pillory, Mr. Wilkes or my Lord
Mansfield. I see the country going to ruin, and no man with brains
enough to save it. That is mortifying; but what signifies who has the
undoing it? I seldom suffer myself to think on this subject: _my_
patriotism could do no good, and my philosophy can make me be at peace.

I am sorry you are likely to lose your poor cousin Lady Hinchinbrook: I
heard a very bad account of her when I was last in town. Your letter to
Madame Roland shall be taken care of; but as you are so scrupulous of
making me pay postage, I must remember not to overcharge you, as I can
frank my idle letters no longer; therefore, good night!

P.S.--I was in town last week, and found Mr. Chute still confined. He
had a return in his shoulder, but I think it more rheumatism than gout.



STRAWBERRY HILL, _July_ 27, 1768.

One can never, Sir, be sorry to have been in the wrong, when one's
errors are pointed out to one in so obliging and masterly a manner.
Whatever opinion I may have of Shakspeare, I should think him to blame,
if he could have seen the letter you have done me the honour to write to
me, and yet not conform to the rules you have there laid down. When he
lived, there had not been a Voltaire both to give laws to the stage, and
to show on what good sense those laws were founded. Your art, Sir, goes
still farther: for you have supported your arguments, without having
recourse to the best authority, your own Works. It was my interest
perhaps to defend barbarism and irregularity. A great genius is in the
right, on the contrary, to show that when correctness, nay, when
perfection is demanded, he can still shine, and be himself, whatever
fetters are imposed on him. But I will say no more on this head; for I
am neither so unpolished as to tell you to your face how much I admire
you, nor, though I have taken the liberty to vindicate Shakspeare
against your criticisms, am I vain enough to think myself an adversary
worthy of you. I am much more proud of receiving laws from you, than of
contesting them. It was bold in me to dispute with you even before I had
the honour of your acquaintance; it would be ungrateful now when you
have not only taken notice of me, but forgiven me. The admirable letter
you have been so good as to send me, is a proof that you are one of
those truly great and rare men who know at once how to conquer and to

I have made all the inquiry I could into the story of M. de Jumonville;
and though your and our accounts disagree, I own I do not think, Sir,
that the strongest evidence is in our favour. I am told we allow he was
killed by a party of our men, going to the Ohio. Your countrymen say he
was going with a flag of truce. The commanding officer of our party said
M. de Jumonville was going with hostile intentions; and that very
hostile orders were found after his death in his pocket. Unless that
officer had proved that he had previous intelligence of those orders, I
doubt he will not be justified by finding them afterwards; for I am not
at all disposed to believe that he had the foreknowledge of your
hermit,[1] who pitched the old woman's nephew into the river, because
"ce jeune homme auroit assassine sa tante dans un an."

I am grieved that such disputes should ever subsist between two nations
who have everything in themselves to create happiness, and who may find
enough in each other to love and admire. It is your benevolence, Sir,
and your zeal for softening the manners of mankind; it is the doctrine
of peace and amity which you preach, that have raised my esteem for you
even more than the brightness of your genius. France may claim you in
the latter light, but all nations have a right to call you their
countryman _du cote du coeur_. It is on the strength of that connection
that I beg you, Sir, to accept the homage of, Sir, your most obedient
humble servant.[2]

[Footnote 1: The idea of Voltaire's fable in "Zadig," c. 20, is believed
to have been borrowed from Parnell's "Hermit," but Mr. Wright suggests
that it was more probably taken from one of the "Contes Devots, de
l'Hermite qu'un ange conduisit dans le Siecle," which is published in
the "Nouveau Recueil de Fabliaux et Contes."]

[Footnote 2: The letter of Voltaire to which the above is a reply,
contained the following opinion of Walpole's "Historic Doubts";--"Avant
le depart de ma lettre, j'ai eu le tems, Monsieur, de lire votre Richard
Trois. Vous seriez un excellent attornei general; vous pesez toutes les
probabilites; mais il paroit que vous avez une inclination secrete pour
ce bossu. Vous voulez qu'il ait ete beau garcon, et meme galant homme.
Le benedictin Calmet a fait une dissertation pour prouver que Jesus
Christ avait un fort beau visage. Je veux croire avec vous, que Richard
Trois n'etait ni si laid, ni si mechant, qu'on le dit; mais je n'aurais
pas voulu avoir affaire a lui. Votre rose blanche et votre rose rouge
avaient de terribles epines pour la nation.

"Those gracious kings are all a pack of rogues. En lisant l'histoire des
York et des Lancastre, et de bien d'autres, on croit lire l'histoire des
voleurs de grand chemin. Pour votre Henri Sept, il n'etait que coupeur
de bourses. Be a minister or an anti-minister, a lord or a philosopher,
I will be, with an equal respect, Sir, &c."]



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Aug._ 16, 1768.

As you have been so good, my dear lord, as twice to take notice of my
letter, I am bound in conscience and gratitude to try to amuse you with
anything new. A royal visitor, quite fresh, is a real curiosity--by the
reception of him, I do not think many more of the breed will come
hither. He came from Dover in hackney-chaises; for somehow or other the
Master of the Horse happened to be in Lincolnshire; and the King's
coaches having received no orders, were too good subjects to go and
fetch a stranger King of their own heads. However, as his Danish Majesty
travels to improve himself for the good of his people, he will go back
extremely enlightened in the arts of government and morality, by having
learned that crowned heads may be reduced to ride in a hired chaise.[1]

[Footnote 1: The King, travelling, as is usual with kings, _incognito_,
assumed the title of the Comte de Travendahl.]

By another mistake, King George happened to go to Richmond about an hour
before King Christiern arrived in London. An hour is exceedingly long;
and the distance to Richmond still longer; so that with all the dispatch
that could possibly be made, King George could not get back to his
capital till next day at noon. Then, as the road from his closet at St.
James's to the King of Denmark's apartment on t'other side of the palace
is about thirty miles, which posterity, having no conception of the
prodigious extent and magnificence of St. James's, will never believe,
it was half an hour after three before his Danish Majesty's courier
could go and return to let him know that his good brother and ally was
leaving the palace in which they both were, in order to receive him at
the Queen's palace, which you know is about a million of snail's paces
from St. James's. Notwithstanding these difficulties and unavoidable
delays, Woden, Thor, Friga, and all the gods that watch over the Kings
of the North, did bring these two invincible monarchs to each other's
embraces about half an hour after five that same evening. They passed
an hour in projecting a family compact that will regulate the destiny of
Europe to latest posterity: and then, the Fates so willing it, the
British Prince departed for Richmond, and the Danish potentate repaired
to the widowed mansion of his Royal Mother-in-Law, where he poured forth
the fulness of his heart in praises on the lovely bride she had bestowed
on him, from whom nothing but the benefit of his subjects could ever
have torn him.--And here let Calumny blush, who has aspersed so chaste
and faithful a monarch with low amours; pretending that he has raised to
the honour of a seat in his sublime council, an artisan of Hamburgh,
known only by repairing the soles of buskins, because that mechanic
would, on no other terms, consent to his fair daughter's being honoured
with majestic embraces. So victorious over his passions is this young
Scipio from the Pole, that though on Shooter's Hill he fell into an
ambush laid for him by an illustrious Countess, of blood-royal herself,
his Majesty, after descending from his car, and courteously greeting
her, again mounted his vehicle, without being one moment eclipsed from
the eyes of the surrounding multitude.--Oh! mercy on me! I am out of
breath--pray let me descend from my stilts, or I shall send you as
fustian and tedious a History as that of [Lyttelton's] Henry II. Well,
then, this great King is a very little one; not ugly, nor ill-made. He
has the sublime strut of his grandfather, or of a cock-sparrow; and the
divine white eyes of all his family by the mother's side. His curiosity
seems to have consisted in the original plan of travelling, for I cannot
say he takes notice of anything in particular. His manner is cold and
dignified, but very civil and gracious and proper. The mob adore him and
huzza him; and so they did the first instant. At present they begin to
know why--for he flings money to them out of his windows; and by the end
of the week I do not doubt but they will want to choose him for
Middlesex. His Court is extremely well ordered; for they bow as low to
him at every word as if his name was Sultan Amurat. You would take his
first minister for only the first of his slaves.--I hope this example,
which they have been so good as to exhibit at the opera, will contribute
to civilize us. There is indeed a pert young gentleman, who a little
discomposes this august ceremonial. His name is Count Holke, his age
three-and-twenty; and his post answers to one that we had formerly in
England, many ages ago, and which in our tongue was called the lord high
favourite. Before the Danish monarchs became absolute, the most
refractory of that country used to write libels, called _North Danes_,
against this great officer; but that practice has long since ceased.
Count Holke seems rather proud of his favour, than shy of displaying it.

I hope, my dear lord, you will be content with my Danish politics, for I
trouble myself with no other. There is a long history about the Baron de
Bottetourt and Sir Jeffery Amherst, who has resigned his regiment; but
it is nothing to me, nor do I care a straw about it. I am deep in the
anecdotes of the new Court; and if you want to know more of Count Holke
or Count Molke, or the grand vizier Bernsdorff, or Mynheer Schimmelman,
apply to me, and you shall be satisfied. But what do I talk of? You will
see them yourself. Minerva in the shape of Count Bernsdorff, or out of
all shape in the person of the Duchess of Northumberland, is to conduct
Telemachus to York races; for can a monarch be perfectly accomplished in
the mysteries of king-craft, as our Solomon James I. called it, unless
he is initiated in the arts of jockeyship? When this northern star
travels towards its own sphere, Lord Hertford will go to Ragley. I shall
go with him; and, if I can avoid running foul of the magi that will be
thronging from all parts to worship that star, I will endeavour to call
at Wentworth Castle for a day or two, if it will not be inconvenient; I
should think it would be about the second week in September, but your
lordship shall hear again, unless you should forbid me, who am ever Lady
Strafford's and your lordship's most faithful humble servant.



ARLINGTON STREET, _Jan._ 31, 1769.

The affair of Wilkes is rather undecided yet, than in suspense.[1] It
has been a fair trial between faction and corruption; of two such common
creatures, the richest will carry it.

[Footnote 1: Wilkes had been elected a member of the Common Council.]

The Court of Aldermen set aside the election of Wilkes on some
informality, but he was immediately re-chosen. This happened on Friday
last, the very day of his appearance at the House of Commons. He went
thither without the least disturbance or mob, having dispersed his
orders accordingly, which are obeyed implicitly. He did not, however,
appear at the bar till ten at night, the day being wasted in debating
whether he should be suffered to enter on his case at large, or be
restrained to his two chief complaints. The latter was carried by 270
to 131, a majority that he will not easily reduce. He was then called
in, looked ill, but behaved decently, and demanded to take the oaths and
his seat. This affair, after a short debate, was refused; and his
counsel being told the restrictions imposed, the House adjourned at
midnight. To-day he goes again to the House, but whatever steps he takes
there, or however long debates he may occasion, you may look upon his
fate as decided in that place.

We are in hourly expectation of hearing that a nymph, more common still
than the two I have mentioned, has occasioned what Wilkes has failed in
now, a change in an administration. I mean the Comtesse du Barri.[1] The
_grands habits_ are made, and nothing wanting for her presentation
but--what do you think? some woman of quality to present her. In that
servile Court and country, the nobility have had spirit enough to
decline paying their court, though the King has stooped _a des
bassesses_ to obtain it. The Duc de Choiseul will be the victim; and
they pretend to say that he has declared he will resign _a l'Anglaise_,
rather than be _chasse_ by such a creature. His indiscretion is
astonishing: he has said at his own table, and she has been told so,
"Madame du Barri est tres mal informee; on ne parle pas des Catins chez
moi." Catin diverts herself and King Solomon the wise with tossing
oranges into the air after supper, and crying, "_Saute, Choiseul! saute,
Praslin_!" and then Solomon laughs heartily. Sometimes she flings powder
in his sage face, and calls him _Jean Farine_! Well! we are not the
foolishest nation in Europe yet! It is supposed that the Duc d'Aiguillon
will be the successor.

[Footnote 1: This woman, one of the very lowest of the low, had caught
the fancy of Louis XV.; and, as according to the curious etiquette of
the French Court, it was indispensable that a king's mistress should be
married, the Comte du Barri, a noble of old family, but ruined by
gambling, was induced to marry her.]

I am going to send away this letter, because you will be impatient, and
the House will not rise probably till long after the post is gone out. I
did not think last May that you would hear this February that there was
an end of mobs, that Wilkes was expelled, and the colonies quieted.
However, pray take notice that I do not stir a foot out of the province
of gazetteer into that of prophet. I protest, I know no more than a
prophet what is to come. Adieu!



ARLINGTON STREET, _May_ 11, 1769.

You are so wayward, that I often resolve to give you up to your humours.
Then something happens with which I can divert you, and my good-nature
returns. Did not you say you should return to London long before this
time? At least, could you not tell me you had changed your mind? why am
I to pick it out from your absence and silence, as Dr. Warburton found a
future state in Moses's saying nothing of the matter! I could go on with
a chapter of severe interrogatories, but I think it more cruel to treat
you as a hopeless reprobate; yes, you are graceless, and as I have a
respect for my own scolding, I shall not throw it away upon you.

Strawberry has been in great glory; I have given a festino there that
will almost mortgage it. Last Tuesday all France dined there: Monsieur
and Madame du Chatelet, the Duc de Liancourt, three more French ladies,
whose names you will find in the enclosed paper, eight other Frenchmen,
the Spanish and Portuguese ministers, the Holdernesses, Fitzroys, in
short, we were four and twenty. They arrived at two. At the gates of the
castle I received them, dressed in the cravat of Gibbons's carving, and
a pair of gloves embroidered up to the elbows that had belonged to James
I. The French servants stared, and firmly believed this was the dress of
English country gentlemen. After taking a survey of the apartment, we
went to the printing-house, where I had prepared the enclosed verses,
with translations by Monsieur de Lille, one of the company. The moment
they were printed off, I gave a private signal, and French horns and
clarionets accompanied this compliment. We then went to see Pope's
grotto and garden, and returned to a magnificent dinner in the

In the evening we walked, had tea, coffee, and lemonade in the Gallery,
which was illuminated with a thousand, or thirty candles, I forget
which, and played at whisk and loo till midnight. Then there was a cold
supper, and at one the company returned to town, saluted by fifty
nightingales, who, as tenants of the manor, came to do honour to their

I cannot say last night was equally agreeable. There was what they
called a _ridotto al fresco_ at Vauxhall,[1] for which one paid
half-a-guinea, though, except some thousand more lamps and a covered
passage all round the garden, which took off from the gardenhood, there
was nothing better than on a common night. Mr. Conway and I set out from
his house at eight o'clock; the tide and torrent of coaches was so
prodigious, that it was half-an-hour after nine before we got half way
from Westminster Bridge. We then alighted; and after scrambling under
bellies of horses, through wheels, and over posts and rails, we reached
the gardens, where were already many thousand persons. Nothing diverted
me but a man in a Turk's dress and two nymphs in masquerade without
masks, who sailed amongst the company, and, which was surprising, seemed
to surprise nobody. It had been given out that people were desired to
come in fancied dresses without masks. We walked twice round and were
rejoiced to come away, though with the same difficulties as at our
entrance; for we found three strings of coaches all along the road, who
did not move half a foot in half-an-hour. There is to be a rival mob in
the same way at Ranelagh to-morrow; for the greater the folly and
imposition the greater is the crowd. I have suspended the vestimenta[2]
that were torn off my back to the god of repentance, and shall stay
away. Adieu! I have not a word more to say to you. Yours ever.

P.S.--I hope you will not regret paying a shilling for this packet.

[Footnote 1: The ridotto was a Venetian entertainment--

They went to the _Ridotto_--'tis a hall
Where people dance, and sup, and dance again;
Its proper name, perhaps, was a masqued ball,
But that's of no importance to my strain;
'Tis (on a smaller scale) like our Vauxhall,
Excepting that it can't be spoilt by rain;
The company is "mix'd"--the phrase I quote is
As much as saying, they're below your notice.

Beppo, st. 38.]

[Footnote 2: "_Vestimenta._" Imitating Horace, who relates of himself--

Me tabula sacer
Votiva paries indicat uvida
Suspendisse potenti
Vestimenta maris Deo (Od. i. 5).]



STRAWBERRY HILL, _June_ 14, 1769.

I thank you for the history of the Pope and his genealogy, or, rather,
for what is to be his genealogy; for I suppose all those tailors and
coachmen his relations will now found noble families. They may enrich
their blood with the remaining spoils of the Jesuits, unless, which
would not surprise me, his new Holiness should now veer about, and
endeavour to save the order; for I think the Church full as likely to
fall by sacrificing its janissaries, as by any attacks that can be made
upon it. _Deme unum, deme etiam unum._

If I care little about your Roman politics, I am not so indifferent
about your Corsican. Poor brave Paoli!--but he is not disgraced! We,
that have sat still and seen him overwhelmed, must answer it to history.
Nay, the Mediterranean will taunt us in the very next war. Choiseul
triumphs over us and Madame du Barri; her star seems to have lost its
influence. I do not know what another lady[1] will say to Choiseul on
the late behaviour of his friend, the Ambassador, here. As the adventure
will make a chapter in the new edition of Wiquefort, and, consequently,
will strike _you_, I will give you the detail. At the ball on the King's
birthday, Count Czernichew was sitting in the box of the Foreign
Ministers next to Count Seilern, the Imperial Ambassador. The latter,
who is as fierce as the Spread Eagle itself, and as stiff as the chin of
all the Ferdinands, was, according to his custom, as near to Jupiter as
was possible. Monsieur du Chatelet and the Prince de Masserano came in.
Chatelet sidled up to the two former, spoke to them and passed behind
them, but on a sudden lifted up his leg and thrust himself in between
the two Imperials. The Russian, astonished and provoked, endeavoured to
push him away, and a jostle began that discomposed the faces and curls
of both; and the Russian even dropped the word _impertinent_.
Czernichew, however, quitted the spot of battle, and the Prince de
Masserano, in support of the family-compact, hobbled into the place
below Chatelet. As the two champions retired, more words at the door.
However, the Russian's coach being first, he astonished everybody by
proposing to set Monsieur du Chatelet down at his own house. In the
coach, _it is said_, the Frenchman protested he had meant nothing
personal either to Count Czernichew, or to the Russian Minister, but
having received orders from his Court to take place on all occasion
_next_ to the Imperial Ambassador, he had but done his duty. Next
morning he visited Czernichew, and they are _personally_ reconciled. It
was, however, feared that the dispute would be renewed, for, at the
King's next levee, both were at the door, ready to push in when it
should be opened; but the Russian kept behind, and at the bottom of the
room without mixing with the rest of the Foreign Ministers. The King,
who was much offended at what had passed, called Count Czernichew into
the middle of the room, and talked to him for a very considerable time.
Since then, the Lord Chamberlain has been ordered to notify to all the
Foreign Ministers that the King looks on the ball at Court as a private
ball, and declares, _to prevent such disagreeable altercations for the
future_, that there is no precedence there. This declaration is
ridiculed, because the ball at Court is almost the only ceremony that is
observed there, and certainly the most formal, the princes of the blood
dancing first, and everybody else being taken out according to their
rank. Yet the King, being the fountain of all rank, may certainly
declare what he pleases, especially in his own palace. The public
papers, which seldom spare the French, are warm for the Russian.
Chatelet, too, is not popular, nor well at Court. He is wrong-headed,
and at Vienna was very near drawing his Court into a scrape by his
haughtiness. His own friends even doubt whether this last exploit will
not offend at Versailles, as the Duc de Choiseul has lately been
endeavouring to soften the Czarina, wishes to send a minister thither,
and has actually sent an agent. Chatelet was to have gone this week, but
I believe waits to hear how his behaviour is taken. Personally, I am
quite on his side, though I think him in the wrong; but he is extremely
civil to me; I live much at his house, admire his wife exceedingly, and,
besides, you know, have declared war with the Czarina; so what I say is
quite in confidence to you, and for your information. As an Englishman,
I am whatever Madam Great Britain can expect of me. As intimate with the
Chatelets, and extremely attached to the Duchess of Choiseul, I detest
Madame du Barri and her faction. You, who are a Foreign Minister, and
can distinguish like a theologian between the _two natures_ perfectly
comprehend all this; and, therefore, to the charity of your casuistry I
recommend myself in this jumble of contradictions, which you may be sure
do not give me any sort of trouble either way. At least I have not
_three_ distinctions, like Chatelet when he affronted Czernichew, but
neither in his private nor public capacity.

[Footnote 1: The Czarina.]

This fracas happens very luckily, as we had nothing left to talk of; for
of the Pope we think no more, according to the old saying, than of the
Pope of Rome. Of Wilkes there is no longer any question, and of the war
under the Pole we hear nothing. Corsica, probably, will occasion
murmurs, but they will be preserved in pickle till next winter. I am
come hither for two months, very busy with finishing my round tower,
which has stood still these five years, and with an enchanting new
cottage that I have built, and other little works. In August I shall go
to Paris for six weeks. In short, I am delighted with having bid adieu
to Parliament and politics, and with doing nothing but what I like all
the year round.



PARIS, _Aug._ 30, 1769.

I have been so hurried with paying and receiving visits, that I have not
had a moment's worth of time to write. My passage was very tedious, and
lasted near nine hours for want of wind.--But I need not talk of my
journey; for Mr. Maurice, whom I met on the road, will have told you
that I was safe on _terra firma_.

Judge of my surprise at hearing four days ago, that my Lord Dacre and my
lady were arrived here. They are lodged within a few doors of me. He is
come to consult a Doctor Pomme who has prescribed wine, and Lord Dacre
already complains of the violence of his appetite. If you and I had
_pommed_ him to eternity, he would not have believed us. A man across
the sea tells him the plainest thing in the world; that man happens to
be called a doctor; and happening for novelty to talk common sense, is
believed, as if he had talked nonsense! and what is more extraordinary,
Lord Dacre thinks himself better, _though_ he is so.

My dear old woman [Madame du Deffand] is in better health than when I
left her, and her spirits so increased, that I tell her she will go mad
with age. When they ask her how old she is, she answers, "J'ai soixante
et mille ans." She and I went to the Boulevard last night after supper,
and drove about there till two in the morning. We are going to sup in
the country this evening, and are to go to-morrow night at eleven to the
puppet-show. A _protege_ of hers has written a piece for that theatre. I
have not yet seen Madame du Barri, nor can get to see her picture at the
exposition at the Louvre, the crowds are so enormous that go thither for
that purpose. As royal curiosities are the least part of my _virtu_, I
wait with patience. Whenever I have an opportunity I visit gardens,
chiefly with a view to Rosette's having a walk. She goes nowhere else,
because there is a distemper among the dogs.

There is going to be represented a translation of Hamlet; who when his
hair is cut, and he is curled and powdered, I suppose will be exactly
_Monsieur le Prince Oreste_. T'other night I was at "Merope." The
Dumenil was as divine as Mrs. Porter[1]; they said her familiar tones
were those of a _poissonniere_. In the last act, when one expected the
catastrophe, Narbas, more interested than anybody to see the event,
remained coolly on the stage to hear the story. The Queen's maid of
honour entered without her handkerchief, and her hair most artfully
undressed, and reeling as if she was maudlin, sobbed out a long
narrative, that did not prove true; while Narbas, with all the good
breeding in the world, was more attentive to her fright than to what had
happened. So much for propriety. Now for probability. Voltaire has
published a tragedy, called "Les Guebres." Two Roman colonels open the
piece: they are brothers, and relate to one another, how they lately in
company destroyed, by the Emperor's mandate, a city of the Guebres, in
which were their own wives and children; and they recollect that they
want prodigiously to know whether both their families did perish in the
flames. The son of the one and the daughter of the other are taken up
for heretics, and, thinking themselves brother and sister, insist upon
being married, and upon being executed for their religion. The son stabs
his father, who is half a Guebre, too. The high-priest rants and roars.
The Emperor arrives, blames the pontiff for being a persecutor, and
forgives the son for assassinating his father (who does not die)
because--I don't know why, but that he may marry his cousin. The
grave-diggers in Hamlet have no chance, when such a piece as the Guebres
is written agreeably to all rules and unities. Adieu, my dear Sir! I
hope to find you quite well at my return. Yours ever.

[Footnote 1: Mme. Dumenil, as has been mentioned in a former note, was
the most popular of the French tragic actresses at this time, as Mrs.
Porter was of the English actresses.]



PARIS, _Sunday night, Sept._ 17, 1769.

I am heartily tired; but, as it is too early to go to bed, I must tell
you how agreeably I have passed the day. I wished for you; the same
scenes strike us both, and the same kind of visions has amused us both
ever since we were born.

Well then; I went this morning to Versailles with my niece Mrs.
Cholmondeley, Mrs. Hart, Lady Denbigh's sister, and the Count de Grave,
one of the most amiable, humane, and obliging men alive. Our first
object was to see Madame du Barri. Being too early for mass, we saw the
Dauphin and his brothers at dinner. The eldest is the picture of the
Duke of Grafton, except that he is more fair, and will be taller. He has
a sickly air, and no grace. The Count de Provence has a very pleasing
countenance, with an air of more sense than the Count d'Artois, the
genius of the family. They already tell as many _bon-mots_ of the latter
as of Henri Quatre and Louis Quatorze. He is very fat, and the most like
his grandfather of all the children. You may imagine this royal mess did
not occupy us long: thence to the Chapel, where a first row in the
balconies was kept for us. Madame du Barri arrived over against us
below, without rouge, without powder, and indeed _sans avoir fait sa
toilette_; an odd appearance, as she was so conspicuous, close to the
altar, and amidst both Court and people. She is pretty, when you
consider her; yet so little striking, that I never should have asked who
she was. There is nothing bold, assuming or affected in her manner. Her
husband's sister was along with her. In the Tribune above, surrounded by
prelates, was the amorous and still handsome King. One could not help
smiling at the mixture of piety, pomp, and carnality. From chapel we
went to the dinner of the elder Mesdames. We were almost stifled in the
antechamber, where their dishes were heating over charcoal, and where we
could not stir for the press. When the doors are opened, everybody
rushes in, princes of the blood, _cordons bleus_, abbes, housemaids, and
the Lord knows who and what. Yet, so used are their highnesses to this
trade, that they eat as comfortably and heartily as you or I could do in
our own parlours.

Our second act was much more agreeable. We quitted the Court and a
reigning mistress, for a dead one and a Cloister. In short, I had
obtained leave from the Bishop of Chartres to enter _into_ St. Cyr; and,
as Madame du Deffand never leaves anything undone that can give me
satisfaction, she had written to the abbess to desire I might see
everything that could be seen there. The Bishop's order was to admit me,
_Monsieur de Grave, et les dames de ma compagnie_: I begged the abbess
to give me back the order, that I might deposit it in the archives of
Strawberry, and she complied instantly. Every door flew open to us: and
the nuns vied in attentions to please us. The first thing I desired to
see was Madame de Maintenon's apartment. It consists of two small rooms,
a library, and a very small chamber, the same in which the Czar saw her,
and in which she died. The bed is taken away, and the room covered now
with bad pictures of the royal family, which destroys the gravity and
simplicity. It is wainscotted with oak, with plain chairs of the same,
covered with dark blue damask. Everywhere else the chairs are of blue
cloth. The simplicity and extreme neatness of the whole house, which is
vast, are very remarkable. A large apartment above (for that I have
mentioned is on the ground-floor), consisting of five rooms, and
destined by Louis Quatorze for Madame de Maintenon, is now the
infirmary, with neat white linen beds, and decorated with every text of
Scripture by which could be insinuated that the foundress was a Queen.
The hour of vespers being come, we were conducted to the chapel, and, as
it was _my_ curiosity that had led us thither, I was placed in the
Maintenon's own tribune; my company in the adjoining gallery. The
pensioners, two and two, each band headed by a man, march orderly to
their seats, and sing the whole service, which I confess was not a
little tedious. The young ladies, to the number of two hundred and
fifty, are dressed in black, with short aprons of the same, the latter
and their stays bound with blue, yellow, green, or red, to distinguish
the classes; the captains and lieutenants have knots of a different
colour for distinction. Their hair is curled and powdered, their
coiffure a sort of French round-eared caps, with white tippets, a sort
of ruff and large tucker: in short, a very pretty dress. The nuns are
entirely in black, with crape veils and long trains, deep white
handkerchiefs, and forehead cloths, and a very long train. The chapel is
plain but very pretty, and in the middle of the choir under a flat
marble lies the foundress. Madame de Cambis, one of the nuns, who are
about forty, is beautiful as a Madonna.[1] The abbess has no distinction
but a larger and richer gold cross: her apartment consists of two very
small rooms. Of Madame de Maintenon we did not see fewer than twenty
pictures. The young one looking over her shoulder has a round face,
without the least resemblance to those of her latter age. That in the
royal mantle, of which you know I have a copy, is the most repeated; but
there is another with a longer and leaner face, which has by far the
most sensible look. She is in black, with a high point head and band, a
long train, and is sitting in a chair of purple velvet. Before her
knees stands her niece Madame de Noailles, a child; at a distance a view
of Versailles or St. Cyr,[2] I could not distinguish which. We were
shown some rich reliquaires and the _corpo santo_ that was sent to her
by the Pope. We were then carried into the public room of each class. In
the first, the young ladies, who were playing at chess, were ordered to
sing to us the choruses of Athaliah; in another, they danced minuets and
country dances, while a nun, not quite so able as St. Cecilia, played on
a violin. In the others, they acted before us the proverbs or
conversations written by Madame de Maintenon for their instruction; for
she was not only their foundress but their saint, and their adoration of
her memory has quite eclipsed the Virgin Mary. We saw their dormitory,
and saw them at supper; and at last were carried to their archives,
where they produced volumes of her letters, and where one of the nuns
gave me a small piece of paper with three sentences in her handwriting.
I forgot to tell you, that this kind dame who took to me extremely,
asked me if we had many convents and relics in England. I was much
embarrassed for fear of destroying her good opinion of me, and so said
we had but few now. Oh! we went too to the _apothecairie_, where they
treated us with cordials, and where one of the ladies told me
inoculation was a sin, as it was a voluntary detention from mass, and as
voluntary a cause of eating _gras_. Our visit concluded in the garden,
now grown very venerable, where the young ladies played at little games
before us. After a stay of four hours we took our leave. I begged the
abbess's blessing; she smiled, and said, she doubted I should not place
much faith in it. She is a comely old gentlewoman, and very proud of
having seen Madame de Maintenon. Well! was not I in the right to wish
you with me?--could you have passed a day more agreeably.

[Footnote 1: Madame du Deffand, in her letter to Walpole of the 10th of
May, 1776, encloses the following portrait of Madame de Cambise, by
Madame de la Valliere:--"Non, non, Madame, je ne ferai point votre
portrait: vous avez une maniere d'etre si noble, si fine, si piquante,
si delicate, si seduisante; votre gentilesse et vos graces changent si
souvent pour n'en etre que plus aimable, que l'on ne peut saisir aucun
de vos traits ni au physique ni au moral." She was niece of La Marquise
de Boufflers, and, having fled to England at the breaking out of the
French Revolution, resided here until her death, which took place at
Richmond in January, 1809.]

[Footnote 2: St. Cyr was a school founded by Mme. de Maintenon for the
education of girls of good families who were in reduced circumstances.
Mme. de Maintenon was the daughter of M. D'Aubigne, a writer of fair
repute both as a historian and a satirist. Her first husband had been a
M. Paul Scarron, a comic poet of indifferent reputation. After his
death, she was induced, after an artful show of affected reluctance, to
become governess to the children of Louis XIV. and Mme. de Montespan.
Louis gave her the small estate of Maintenon, and, after the death of
his queen, privately married her. She became devout, and, under the
tuition of the Jesuits, a violent promoter of the persecution of the
Huguenots. It was probably her influence that induced Louis to issue the
Edict revoking the Edict of Nantes promulgated by Henry IV. in 1598. She
outlived the King, and died in 1719.]

I will conclude my letter with a most charming trait of Madame de
Mailly,[1] which cannot be misplaced in such a chapter of royal
concubines. Going to St. Sulpice, after she had lost the King's heart, a
person present desired the crowd to make way for her. Some brutal young
officers said, "Comment, pour cette catin la!" She turned to them, and
with the most charming modesty said--"Messieurs, puisque vous me
connoissez, priez Dieu pour moi." I am sure it will bring tears into
your eyes. Was she not the Publican and Maintenon the Pharisee? Good
night! I hope I am going to dream of all I have been seeing. As my
impressions and my fancy, when I am pleased, are apt to be strong, my
night perhaps may still be more productive of ideas than the day has
been. It will be charming indeed if Madame de Cambis is the ruling tint.

Yours ever.

[Footnote 1: Mme. de Mailly was the first of the mistresses of Louis XV.
She was the elder sister of the Duchesse de Chateauroux and Mme. de
Lauragais. She has the credit, such as it is, of having been really in
love with the King before she became acquainted with him; but she soon
retired, feeling repentance and shame at her position, and being
superseded in his fancy by the more showy attractions of her younger



ARLINGTON STREET, _Feb._ 27, 1770.

It is very lucky, seeing how much of the tiger enters into the human
composition, that there should be a good dose of the monkey too. If
Aesop had not lived so many centuries before the introduction of
masquerades and operas, he would certainly have anticipated my
observation, and worked it up into a capital fable. As we still trade
upon the stock of the ancients, we seldom deal in any other manufacture;
and, though nature, after new combinations, lets forth new
characteristics, it is very rarely that they are added to the old fund;
else how could so striking a remark have escaped being made, as mine, on
the joint ingredients of tiger and monkey? In France the latter
predominates, in England the former; but, like Orozmades and
Arimanius,[1] they get the better by turns. The bankruptcy in France,
and the rigours of the new Comptroller-General, are half forgotten, in
the expectation of a new opera at the new theatre. Our civil war has
been lulled asleep by a Subscription Masquerade, for which the House of
Commons literally adjourned yesterday. Instead of Fairfaxes and
Cromwells, we have had a crowd of Henry the Eighths, Wolseys, Vandykes,
and Harlequins; and because Wilkes was not mask enough, we had a man
dressed like him, with a visor, in imitation of his squint, and a Cap of
Liberty on a pole. In short, sixteen or eighteen young lords have given
the town a Masquerade; and politics, for the last fortnight, were forced
to give way to habit-makers. The ball was last night at Soho; and, if
possible, was more magnificent than the King of Denmark's. The Bishops
opposed: he of London formally remonstrated to the King, who did not
approve it, but could not help him. The consequence was, that four
divine vessels belonging to the holy fathers, alias their wives, were at
this Masquerade. Monkey again! A fair widow,[2] who once bore my whole
name, and now bears half of it, was there, with one of those whom the
newspapers call _great personages_--he dressed like Edward the Fourth,
she like Elizabeth Woodville,[3] in grey and pearls, with a black veil.
Methinks it was not very difficult to find out the meaning of those

[Footnote 1: "_Orozmades and Arimanius._" In the Persian theology
Orozmades and Ahriman are the good and bad angels. In Scott's "Talisman"
the disguised Saracen (Saladin) invokes Ahriman as "the dark spirit." In
one of his earlier letters Walpole describes his friend Gray as

[Footnote 2: "_A fair widow._" Lady Waldegrave, a natural daughter of
Walpole's uncle, married the King's favourite brother, the Duke of
Gloucester, the _great personage_. The King was very indignant at the
_mesalliance_; and this marriage, with that of the King's other brother,
the Duke of Cumberland, to Mrs. Horton, led to the enactment of the
Royal Marriage Act.]

[Footnote 3: Elizabeth Woodville was the daughter of a Sir Richard
Woodville, and his wife, the Duchess of Bedford, the widow of the
illustrious brother of Henry V. Her first husband had been Sir John
Grey, a knight of the Lancastrian party; and, after his death, Edward
IV., attracted by her remarkable beauty, married her in 1464.]

As one of my ancient passions, formerly, was Masquerades, I had a large
trunk of dresses by me. I dressed out a thousand young Conways and
Cholmondeleys, and went with more pleasure to see them pleased than when
I formerly delighted in that diversion myself. It has cost me a great
headache, and I shall probably never go to another. A symptom appeared
of the change that has happened in the people.

The mob was beyond all belief: they held flambeaux to the windows of
every coach, and demanded to have the masks pulled off and put on at
their pleasure, but with extreme good-humour and civility. I was with my
Lady Hertford and two of her daughters, in their coach: the mob took me
for Lord Hertford, and huzzaed and blessed me! One fellow cried out,
"Are you for Wilkes?" another said, "D--n you, you fool, what has Wilkes
to do with a Masquerade?"

In good truth, that stock is fallen very low. The Court has recovered a
majority of seventy-five in the House of Commons; and the party has
succeeded so ill in the Lords, that my Lord Chatham has betaken himself
to the gout, and appears no more. What Wilkes may do at his enlargement
in April, I don't know, but his star is certainly much dimmed. The
distress of France, the injustice they have been induced to commit on
public credit, immense bankruptcies, and great bankers hanging and
drowning themselves, are comfortable objects in our prospect; for one
tiger is charmed if another tiger loses his tail.

There was a stroke of the monkey last night that will sound ill in the
ears of your neighbour the Pope. The heir-apparent of the House of
Norfolk, a drunken old mad fellow, was, though a Catholic, dressed like
a Cardinal: I hope he was scandalised at the wives of our Bishops.

So you agree with me, and don't think that the crusado from Russia will
recover the Holy Land! It is a pity; for, if the Turks kept it a little
longer, I doubt it will be the Holy Land no longer. When Rome totters,
poor Jerusalem! As to your Count Orloff's[1] denying the murder of the
late Czar, it is no more than every felon does at the Old Bailey. If I
could write like Shakspeare, I would make Peter's ghost perch on the
dome of Sancta Sophia, and, when the Russian fleet comes in sight, roar,
with a voice of thunder that should reach to Petersburg,

Let me sit heavy on thy soul to-morrow!

[Footnote 1: Count Orloff was one of the Czarina's earlier lovers, and
was universally understood to have been the principal agent in the
murder of her husband.]

We have had two or three simpletons return from Russia, charmed with the
murderess, believing her innocent, _because_ she spoke graciously to
_them_ in the drawing-room. I don't know what the present Grand
Signior's name is, Osman, or Mustapha, or what, but I am extremely on
his side against Catherine of Zerbst; and I never intend to ask him for
a farthing, nor write panegyrics on him for pay, like Voltaire and
Diderot; so you need not say a word to him of my good wishes. Benedict
XIV. deserved my friendship, but being a sound Protestant, one would
not, you know, make all Turk and Pagan and Infidel princes too familiar.


_From a mezzotint by J. Simon after a picture by Sir Godfrey Kneller_]



STRAWBERRY HILL, _May_ 6, 1770.

I don't know whether Wilkes is subdued by his imprisonment, or waits for
the rising of Parliament, to take the field; or whether his dignity of
Alderman has dulled him into prudence, and the love of feasting; but
hitherto he has done nothing but go to City banquets and sermons, and
sit at Guildhall as a sober magistrate. With an inversion of the
proverb, "Si ex quovis Mercurio fit lignum!" What do you Italians think
of Harlequin Potesta?[1] In truth, his party is crumbled away strangely.
Lord Chatham has talked on the Middlesex election till nobody will
answer him; and Mr. Burke (Lord Rockingham's governor) has published a
pamphlet[2] that has sown the utmost discord between that faction and
the supporters of the Bill of Rights. Mrs. Macaulay[3] has written
against it. In Parliament their numbers are shrunk to nothing, and the
session is ending very triumphantly for the Court. But there is another
scene opened of a very different aspect. You have seen the accounts from
Boston. The tocsin seems to be sounded to America. I have many visions
about that country, and fancy I see twenty empires and republics forming
upon vast scales over all that continent, which is growing too mighty to
be kept in subjection to half a dozen exhausted nations in Europe. As
the latter sinks, and the others rise, they who live between the eras
will be a sort of Noahs, witnesses to the period of the old world and
origin of the new. I entertain myself with the idea of a future senate
in Carolina and Virginia, where their future patriots will harangue on
the austere and incorruptible virtue of the ancient English! will tell
their auditors of our disinterestedness and scorn of bribes and
pensions, and make us blush in our graves at their ridiculous
panegyrics. Who knows but even our Indian usurpations and villanies may
become topics of praise to American schoolboys? As I believe our virtues
are extremely like those of our predecessors the Romans, so I am sure
our luxury and extravagance are too.

[Footnote 1: Podesta was an officer in some of the smaller Italian
towns, somewhat corresponding to our mayor. The name is Italianised from
the Roman Potestas--

Hajus, quo trahitur, praetextam sumere mavis,
An Fidenarum, Gabiorumque esse Potestas.

(Juv., x. 100).]

[Footnote 2: The pamphlet is, "Thoughts on the Present Discontents,"
founding them especially on the unconstitutional influence of "the
King's friends."]

[Footnote 3: Mrs. Macaulay was the wife of a London physician, and
authoress of a "History of England" from the accession of James I. to
that of George I., written in a spirit of the fiercest republicanism,
but long since forgotten.]

What do you think of a winter Ranelagh[1] erecting in Oxford Road, at
the expense of sixty thousand pounds? The new bank, including the value
of the ground, and of the houses demolished to make room for it, will
cost three hundred thousand; and erected, as my Lady Townley[2] says,
_by sober citizens too_! I have touched before to you on the incredible
profusion of our young men of fashion. I know a younger brother who
literally gives a flower-woman half a guinea every morning for a bunch
of roses for the nosegay in his button-hole. There has lately been an
auction of stuffed birds; and, as natural history is in fashion, there
are physicians and others who paid forty and fifty guineas for a single
Chinese pheasant; you may buy a live one for five. After this, it is
not extraordinary that pictures should be dear. We have at present three
exhibitions. One West,[3] who paints history in the taste of Poussin,
gets three hundred pounds for a piece not too large to hang over a
chimney. He has merit, but is hard and heavy, and far unworthy of such
prices. The rage to see these exhibitions is so great, that sometimes
one cannot pass through the streets where they are. But it is incredible
what sums are raised by mere exhibitions of anything; a new fashion, and
to enter at which you pay a shilling or half-a-crown. Another rage, is
for prints of English portraits: I have been collecting them above
thirty years, and originally never gave for a mezzotinto above one or
two shillings. The lowest are now a crown; most, from half a guinea to a
guinea. Lately, I assisted a clergyman [Granger] in compiling a
catalogue of them; since the publication, scarce heads in books, not
worth threepence, will sell for five guineas. Then we have Etruscan
vases, made of earthenware, in Staffordshire, [by Wedgwood] from two to
five guineas, and _ormoulu_, never made here before, which succeeds so
well, that a tea-kettle, which the inventor offered for one hundred
guineas, sold by auction for one hundred and thirty. In short, we are at
the height of extravagance and improvements, for we do improve rapidly
in taste as well as in the former. I cannot say so much for our genius.
Poetry is gone to bed, or into our prose; we are like the Romans in
that too. If we have the arts of the Antonines,--we have the fustian

[Footnote 1: _"A winter Ranelagh._"--the Pantheon in Oxford Street.]

[Footnote 2: Lady Townley is the principal character in "The Provoked

[Footnote 3: West, as a painter, was highly esteemed by George III.,
and, on the death of Sir J. Reynolds, succeeded him as President of the
Royal Academy.]

Well! what becomes of your neighbours, the Pope and Turk? is one Babylon
to fall, and the other to moulder away? I begin to tremble for the poor
Greeks; they will be sacrificed like the Catalans, and left to be
impaled for rebellion, as soon as that vainglorious woman the Czarina
has glutted her lust of fame, and secured Azoph by a peace, which I hear
is all she insists on keeping. What strides modern ambition takes! _We_
are the successors of Aurungzebe; and a virago under the Pole sends a
fleet into the Aegean Sea to rouse the ghosts of Leonidas and
Epaminondas, and burn the capital of the second Roman Empire! Folks now
scarce meddle with their next door neighbours; as many English go to
visit St. Peter's who never thought of stepping into St. Paul's.

I shall let Lord Beauchamp know your readiness to oblige him, probably
to-morrow, as I go to town. The spring is so backward here that I have
little inducement to stay; not an entire leaf is out on any tree, and I
have heard a syren as much as a nightingale. Lord Fitzwilliam, who, I
suppose, is one of your latest acquaintance, is going to marry Lady
Charlotte Ponsonby, Lord Besborough's second daughter, a pretty,
sensible, and very amiable girl. I seldom tell you that sort of news,
but when the parties are very fresh in your memory. Adieu!



STRAWBERRY HILL, _May_ 6, 1770.

If you are like me, you are fretting at the weather. We have not a leaf,
yet, large enough to make an apron for a Miss Eve of two years old.
Flowers and fruits, if they come at all this year, must meet together as
they do in a Dutch picture; our lords and ladies, however, couple as if
it were the real _Gioventu dell' anno_. Lord Albemarle, you know, has
disappointed all his brothers and my niece; and Lord Fitzwilliam is
declared _sposo_ to Lady Charlotte Ponsonby. It is a pretty match, and
makes Lord Besborough as happy as possible.

Masquerades proceed in spite of Church and King. That knave the Bishop
of London persuaded that good soul the Archbishop to remonstrate against
them; but happily the age prefers silly follies to serious ones, and
dominos, _comme de raison_, carry it against lawn sleeves.

There is a new Institution that begins to make, and if it proceeds, will
make a considerable noise. It is a club of _both_ sexes to be erected at
Almack's, on the model of that of the men of White's. Mrs. Fitzroy, Lady
Pembroke, Mrs. Meynell, Lady Molyneux, Miss Pelham, and Miss Loyd, are
the foundresses. I am ashamed to say I am of so young and fashionable a
society; but as they are people I live with, I choose to be idle rather
than morose. I can go to a young supper, without forgetting how much
sand is run out of the hour-glass. Yet I shall never pass a triste old
age in turning the Psalms into Latin or English verse. My plan is to
pass away calmly; cheerfully if I can; sometimes to amuse myself with
the rising generation, but to take care not to fatigue them, nor weary
them with old stories, which will not interest them, as their adventures
do not interest me. Age would indulge prejudices if it did not sometimes
polish itself against younger acquaintance; but it must be the work of
folly if one hopes to contract friendships with them, or desires it, or
thinks one can become the same follies, or expects that they should do
more than bear one for one's good-humour. In short, they are a pleasant
medicine, that one should take care not to grow fond of. Medicines hurt
when habit has annihilated their force; but you see I am in no danger. I
intend by degrees to decrease my opium, instead of augmenting the dose.
Good night! You see I never let our long-lived friendship drop, though
you give it so few opportunities of breathing.



ARLINGTON STREET, _June_ 15, 1770.

I have no public event to tell you, though I write again sooner than I
purposed. The journey of the Princess Dowager to Germany is indeed an
extraordinary circumstance, but besides its being a week old, as I do
not know the motives, I have nothing to say upon it. It is much
canvassed and sifted, and yet perhaps she was only in search of a little
repose from the torrents of abuse that have been poured upon her for
some years. Yesterday they publicly sung about the streets a ballad, the
burthen of which was, _the cow has left her calf_. With all this we are
grown very quiet, and Lord North's behaviour is so sensible and moderate
that he offends nobody.

Our family has lost a branch, but I cannot call it a misfortune. Lord
Cholmondeley died last Saturday. He was seventy, and had a constitution
to have carried him to a hundred, if he had not destroyed it by an
intemperance, especially in drinking, that would have killed anybody
else in half the time. As it was, he had outlived by fifteen years all
his set, who have reeled into the ferry-boat so long before him. His
grandson seems good and amiable, and though he comes into but a small
fortune for an earl, five-and-twenty hundred a-year, his uncle the
general may re-establish him upon a great footing--but it will not be in
his life, and the general does not sail after his brother on a sea of

You have heard details, to be sure, of the horrible catastrophe at the
fireworks at Paris.[1] Francees, the French minister, told me the other
night that the number of the killed is so great that they now try to
stifle it; my letters say between five and six hundred! I think there
were not fewer than ten coach-horses trodden to death. The mob had
poured down from the _Etoile_ by thousands and ten thousands to see the
illuminations, and did not know the havoc they were occasioning. The
impulse drove great numbers into the Seine, and those met with the most
favourable deaths.

[Footnote 1: The Dauphin had been married to the Archduchess Marie
Antoinette on May 16th, and on May 30th the city of Paris closed a
succession of balls and banquets with which they had celebrated the
marriage of the heir of the monarchy by a display of fireworks in the
Place Louis XV., in which the ingenuity of the most fashionable
pyrotechnists had been exhausted to outshine all previous displays of
the sort. But towards the end of the exhibition one of the explosives
set fire to a portion of the platforms on which the different figures
were constructed, and in a moment the whole woodwork was in a flame.
Three sides of the Place were enclosed, and the fourth was so blocked up
with carriages, that the spectators, who saw themselves surrounded with
flames, had no way to escape open. The carriage-horses, too, became
terrified and unmanageable. In their panic-stricken flight the
spectators trampled one another down; hundreds fell, and were crushed to
death by their companions; hundreds were pushed into the river and
drowned. The number of killed could never be precisely ascertained; but
it was never estimated below six hundred, and was commonly believed to
have greatly exceeded that number, as many of the victims were of the
poorer class--many, too, the bread-winners of their families. The
Dauphin and Dauphiness devoted the whole of their month's income to the
relief of the sufferers; and Marie Antoinette herself visited many of
the families whose loss seemed to have been the most severe: this
personal interest in their affliction which she thus displayed making a
deep impression on the citizens.]

This is a slight summer letter, but you will not be sorry it is so
short, when the dearth of events is the cause. Last year I did not know
but we might have a battle of Edgehill[1] by this time. At present, my
Lord Chatham could as soon raise money as raise the people; and Wilkes
will not much longer have more power of doing either. If you were not
busy in burning Constantinople, you could not have a better opportunity
for taking a trip to England. Have you never a wish this way? Think what
satisfaction it would be to me?--but I never advise; nor let my own
inclinations judge for my friends. I had rather suffer their absence,
than have to reproach myself with having given them bad counsel. I
therefore say no more on what would make me so happy. Adieu!

[Footnote 1: Edgehill was the first battle in the Great Rebellion,
fought October 23, 1642.]



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Saturday evening, Dec._ 29, 1770.

We are alarmed, or very glad, we don't know which. The Duke de Choiseul
is fallen! but we cannot tell yet whether the mood of his successors
will be peaceable or martial. The news arrived yesterday morning, and
the event happened but last Monday evening. He was allowed but three
hours to prepare for his journey, and ordered to retire to his seat at
Chanteloup; but there are letters that say, _qu'il ira plus loin_. The
Duke de Praslin is banished too--a disagreeable man; but his fate is a
little hard, for he was just going to resign the Marine to Chatelet,
who, by the way, is forbidden to visit Choiseul. I shall shed no tears
for Chatelet, the most peevish and insolent of men, our bitter enemy,
and whom M. de Choiseul may thank in some measure for his fall; for I
believe while Chatelet was here, he drew the Spaniards into the attack
of Falkland's Island. Choiseul's own conduct seems to have been not a
little equivocal. His friends maintained that his existence as a
minister depended on his preventing a war, and he certainly confuted the
Comptroller-General's plan of raising supplies for it. Yet, it is now
said, that on the very morning of the Duke's disgrace, the King
reproached him, and said "Monsieur, je vous avois dit, que je ne voulois
pas la guerre;" and the Duke d'Aiguillon's friends have officiously
whispered, that if Choiseul was out it would certainly be peace; but did
not Lord Chatham, immediately before he was Minister, protest not half a
man should be sent to Germany, and yet, were not all our men and all our
money sent thither? The Chevalier de Muy is made Secretary-at-War, and
it is supposed Monsieur d'Aiguillon is, or will be, the Minister.

Thus Abishag[1] has strangled an Administration that had lasted fourteen
years. I am sincerely grieved for the Duchess de Choiseul, the most
perfect being I know of either sex. I cannot possibly feel for her
husband: Corsica is engraved in my memory, as I believe it is on your
heart. His cruelties there, I should think, would not cheer his solitude
or prison. In the mean time, desolation and confusion reign all over
France. They are almost bankrupts, and quite famished. The Parliament
of Paris has quitted its functions, and the other tribunals threaten to
follow the example. Some people say, that Maupeou,[2] the Chancellor,
told the King that they were supported underhand by Choiseul, and must
submit if he were removed. The suggestion is specious at least, as the
object of their antipathy is the Duke d'Aiguillon. If the latter should
think a war a good diversion to their enterprises, I should not be
surprised if they went on, especially if a bankruptcy follows famine.
The new Minister and the Chancellor are in general execration. On the
latter's lately obtaining the _Cordon Bleu_,[3] this epigram appeared:--

Ce tyran de la France, qui cherche a mettre tout en feu,
Merite un cordon, mais ce n'est pas le cordon bleu.

[Footnote 1: Madame du Barri.--WALPOLE.]

[Footnote 2: Maupeou was the Chancellor who had just abolished the
Parliaments, the restoration of which in the next reign was perhaps one
of the causes which contributed to the Revolution.]

[Footnote 3: The _Cordon Bleu_ was the badge of the Order of St. Louis,
established by Louis XIV.; the _cordon not_ blue was the hangman's

We shall see how Spain likes the fall of the author of the
"Family-compact."[1] There is an Empress[2] will not be pleased with
it, but it is not the Russian Empress; and much less the Turks, who are
as little obliged to that bold man's intrigues as the poor Corsicans.
How can one regret such a general _Boute-feu_?

[Footnote 1: Choiseul was the Minister when the "Family Compact" of 1761
was concluded between France and Spain. The Duc de Praslin, who shared
his fall, had been Secretary at War, and for some little time neither
his office nor that of Choiseul was filled up, but the work of their
departments was performed by Secretaries of State, the Duc d'Aiguillon,
in spite of the contempt in which he was deservedly held, being
eventually made Secretary for Foreign Affairs through the interest of
Mme. du Barri (Lacretelle, iv. 256).]

[Footnote 2: "_An Empress._" The Empress-Queen Maria Theresa, who
considered herself and her family under obligations to Choiseul for his
abandonment of the long-standing policy of enmity to the house of
Austria which had been the guiding principle of all French statesmen
since the time of Henry IV., and for the marriage of her favourite
daughter to the Dauphin.]

Perhaps our situation is not very stable neither. The world, who are
ignorant of Lord Weymouth's motives, suspect a secret intelligence with
Lord Chatham. Oh! let us have peace abroad before we quarrel any more at

Judge Bathurst is to be Lord Keeper, with many other arrangements in the
law; but as you neither know the persons, nor I care about them, I shall
not fill my paper with the catalogue, but reserve the rest of my letter
for Tuesday, when I shall be in town. No Englishman, you know, will
sacrifice his Saturday and Sunday. I have so little to do with all these
matters, that I came hither this morning, and left this new chaos to
arrange itself as it pleases. It certainly is an era, and may be an
extensive one; not very honourable to old King Capet,[1] whatever it may
be to the intrigues of his new Ministers. The Jesuits will not be
without hopes. They have a friend that made mischief _ante Helenam_.

[Footnote 1: Louis XV.--WALPOLE.]

_Jan._ 1, 1771.

I hope the new year will end as quietly as it begins, for I have not a
syllable to tell you. No letters are come from France since Friday
morning, and this is Tuesday noon. As we had full time to reason--in the
dark, the general persuasion is, that the French Revolution will produce
peace--I mean in Europe--not amongst themselves. Probably I have been
sending you little but what you will have heard long before you receive
my letter; but no matter; if we did not chat about our neighbour Kings,
I don't know how we should keep up our correspondence, for we are better
acquainted with King Louis, King Carlos, and Empresses Katharine and
Teresa, than you with the English that I live amongst, or I with your
Florentines. Adieu!



ARLINGTON STREET, _Feb._ 22, 1771.

Two days ago there began to be an alarm at the delay of the Spanish
courier, and people were persuaded that the King of Spain had refused to
ratify his ambassador's declaration; who, on the warrant of the French
King, had ventured to sign it, though expecting every hour to be
recalled, as he actually was two days afterwards. However, the night
before last, to the great comfort of Prince Masserano and our Ministers,
the ratification arrived; and, after so many delays and untoward
accidents, Fortune has interposed (for there has been great luck, too,
in the affair), and peace is again established. With you, I am not at
all clear that Choiseul was in earnest to make it. If he was, it was
entirely owing to his own ticklish situation. Other people think, that
this very situation had made him desperate; and that he was on the point
of striking a hardy stroke indeed; and meditated sending a strong army
into Holland, to oblige the Dutch to lend twelve men-of-war to invade
us. Count Welderen,[1] who is totally an anti-Gaul, assured me he did
not believe this project. Still I am very glad such a _boute-feu_ is

[Footnote 1: The Dutch Minister in England. He married a sister of Sir
John Griffin, Maid of Honour to Anne Princess of Orange.--WALPOLE.]

This treaty is an epoch; and puts a total end to all our preceding
histories. Long quiet is never probable, nor shall I guess who will
disturb it; but, whatever happens, must be thoroughly new matter, though
some of the actors perhaps may not be so. Both Lord Chatham and Wilkes
are at the end of their reckoning, and the Opposition can do nothing
without fresh fuel.

The scene that is closed here seems to be but opening in France. The
Parliament of Paris banished; a new one arbitrarily appointed;[1] the
Princes of the Blood refractory and disobedient; the other Parliament
as mutinous; and distress everywhere: if the army catches the infection,
what may not happen, when the King is despised, his agents detested, and
no Ministry settled? Some say the mistress and her faction keep him
hourly diverted or drunk; others, that he has got a new passion: how
creditable at sixty! Still I think it is the crisis of their
constitution. If the Monarch prevails, he becomes absolute as a Czar; if


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