Letters to His Son, 1756-58
The Earl of Chesterfield
This etext was produced by David Widger
[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the
file for those who may wish to sample the author's ideas before making an
entire meal of them. D.W.]
LETTERS TO HIS SON
By the EARL OF CHESTERFIELD
on the Fine Art of becoming a
MAN OF THE WORLD
BATH, November 15, 1756
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received yours yesterday morning together with the
Prussian, papers, which I have read with great attention. If courts
could blush, those of Vienna and Dresden ought, to have their false hoods
so publicly, and so undeniably exposed. The former will, I presume,
next year, employ an hundred thousand men, to answer the accusation;
and if the Empress of the two Russias is pleased to argue in the same
cogent manner, their logic will be too strong for all the King of
Prussia's rhetoric. I well remember the treaty so often referred to in
those pieces, between the two Empresses, in 1746. The King was strongly
pressed by the Empress Queen to accede to it. Wassenaer communicated it
to me for that purpose. I asked him if there were no secret articles;
suspecting that there were some, because the ostensible treaty was a mere
harmless, defensive one. He assured me that there were none. Upon which
I told him, that as the King had already defensive alliances with those
two Empresses, I did not see of what use his accession to this treaty,
if merely a defensive one, could be, either to himself or the other
contracting parties; but that, however, if it was only desired as an
indication of the King's good will, I would give him an act by which his
Majesty should accede to that treaty, as far, but no further, as at
present he stood engaged to the respective Empresses by the defensive
alliances subsisting with each. This offer by no means satisfied him;
which was a plain proof of the secret articles now brought to light, and
into which the court of Vienna hoped to draw us. I told Wassenaer so,
and after that I heard no more of his invitation.
I am still bewildered in the changes at Court, of which I find that all
the particulars are not yet fixed. Who would have thought, a year ago,
that Mr. Fox, the Chancellor, and the Duke of Newcastle, should all three
have quitted together? Nor can I yet account for it; explain it to me if
you can. I cannot see, neither, what the Duke of Devonshire and Fox,
whom I looked upon as intimately united, can have quarreled about, with
relation to the Treasury; inform me, if you know. I never doubted of the
prudent versatility of your Vicar of Bray: But I am surprised at O'Brien
Windham's going out of the Treasury, where I should have thought that the
interest of his brother-in-law, George Grenville, would have kept him.
Having found myself rather worse, these two or three last days, I was
obliged to take some ipecacuanha last night; and, what you will think
odd, for a vomit, I brought it all up again in about an hour, to my great
satisfaction and emolument, which is seldom the case in restitutions.
You did well to go to the Duke of Newcastle, who, I suppose, will have no
more levees; however, go from time to time, and leave your name at his
door, for you have obligations to him. Adieu.
BATH, December 14, 1756.
MY DEAR FRIEND: What can I say to you from this place, where EVERY DAY
IS STILL BUT AS THE FIRST, though by no means so agreeably passed, as
Anthony describes his to have been? The same nothings succeed one
another every day with me, as, regularly and uniformly as the hours of
the day. You will think this tiresome, and so it is; but how can I help
it? Cut off from society by my deafness, and dispirited by my ill
health, where could I be better? You will say, perhaps, where could you
be worse? Only in prison, or the galleys, I confess. However, I see a
period to my stay here; and I have fixed, in my own mind, a time for my
return to London; not invited there by either politics or pleasures, to
both which I am equally a stranger, but merely to be at home; which,
after all, according to the vulgar saying, is home, be it ever so homely.
The political settlement, as it is called, is, I find, by no means
settled; Mr. Fox, who took this place in his way to his brother's, where
he intended to pass a month, was stopped short by an express, which he
received from his connection, to come to town immediately; and
accordingly he set out from hence very early, two days ago. I had a very
long conversation with him, in which he was, seemingly at least, very
frank and communicative; but still I own myself in the dark. In those
matters, as in most others, half knowledge (and mine is at most that) is
more apt to lead one into error, than to carry one to truth; and our own
vanity contributes to the seduction. Our conjectures pass upon us for
truths; we will know what we do not know, and often, what we cannot know:
so mortifying to our pride is the bare suspicion of ignorance!
It has been reported here that the Empress of Russia is dying; this would
be a fortunate event indeed for the King of Prussia, and necessarily
produce the neutrality and inaction, at least, of that great power; which
would be a heavy weight taken out of the opposite scale to the King of
Prussia. The 'Augustissima' must, in that case, do all herself; for
though France will, no doubt, promise largely, it will, I believe,
perform but scantily; as it desires no better than that the different
powers of Germany should tear one another to pieces.
I hope you frequent all the courts: a man should make his face familiar
there. Long habit produces favor insensibly; and acquaintance often does
more than friendship, in that climate where 'les beaux sentimens' are not
the natural growth.
Adieu! I am going to the ball, to save my eyes from reading, and my mind
LETTERS TO HIS SON
BATH, January 12, 1757
MY DEAR FRIEND: I waited quietly, to see when either your leisure, or
your inclinations, would al low you to honor me with a letter; and at
last I received one this morning, very near a fortnight after you went
from hence. You will say, that you had no news to write me; and that
probably may be true; but, without news, one has always something to say
to those with whom one desires to have anything to do.
Your observation is very just with regard to the King of Prussia, whom
the most august House of Austria would most unquestionably have poisoned
a century or two ago. But now that 'terras Astraea reliquit', kings and
princes die of natural deaths; even war is pusillanimously carried on in
this degenerate age; quarter is given; towns are taken, and the people
spared: even in a storm, a woman can hardly hope for the benefit of a
rape. Whereas (such was the humanity of former days) prisoners were
killed by thousands in cold blood, and the generous victors spared
neither man, woman, nor child. Heroic actions of this kind were
performed at the taking of Magdebourg. The King of Prussia is certainly
now in a situation that must soon decide his fate, and make him Caesar or
nothing. Notwithstanding the march of the Russians, his great danger,
in my mind, lies westward. I have no great notions of Apraxin's
abilities, and I believe many a Prussian colonel would out-general him.
But Brown, Piccolomini, Lucchese, and many other veteran officers in the
Austrian troops, are respectable enemies.
Mr. Pitt seems to me to have almost as many enemies to encounter as his
Prussian Majesty. The late Ministry, and the Duke's party, will,
I presume, unite against him and his Tory friends; and then quarrel among
themselves again. His best, if not his only chance of supporting himself
would be, if he had credit enough in the city, to hinder the advancing of
the money to any administration but his own; and I have met with some
people here who think that he has.
I have put off my journey from hence for a week, but no longer. I find
I still gain some strength and some flesh here, and therefore I will not
cut while the run is for me.
By a letter which I received this morning from Lady Allen, I observe that
you are extremely well with her; and it is well for you to be so, for she
is an excellent and warm puff.
'A propos' (an expression which is commonly used to introduce whatever is
unrelative to it) you should apply to some of Lord Holderness's people,
for the perusal of Mr. Cope's letters. It would not be refused you; and
the sooner you have them the better. I do not mean them as models for
your manner of writing, but as outlines of the matter you are to write
If you have not read Hume's "Essays" read them; they are four very small
volumes; I have just finished, and am extremely pleased with them. He
thinks impartially, deep, often new; and, in my mind, commonly just.
BLACKHEATH, September 17, 1757
MY DEAR FRIEND: Lord Holderness has been so kind as to communicate to me
all the letters which he has received from you hitherto, dated the 15th,
19th, 23d, and 26th August; and also a draught of that which he wrote to
you the 9th instant. I am very well pleased with all your letters; and,
what is better, I can tell you that the King is so too; and he said, but
three days ago, to Monsieur Munchausen, HE (meaning you) SETS OUT VERY
WELL, AND I LIKE HIS LETTERS; PROVIDED THAT, LIKE MOST OF MY ENGLISH
MINISTERS ABROAD, HE DOES NOT GROW IDLE HEREAFTER. So that here is both
praise to flatter, and a hint to warn you. What Lord Holderness
recommends to you, being by the King's order, intimates also a degree of
approbation; for the BLACKER INK, AND THE LARGER CHARACTER, show, that
his Majesty, whose eyes are grown weaker, intends to read all your
letters himself. Therefore, pray do not neglect to get the blackest ink
you can; and to make your secretary enlarge his hand, though 'd'ailleurs'
it is a very good one.
Had I been to wish an advantageous situation for you, and a good debut in
it, I could not have wished you either better than both have hitherto
proved. The rest will depend entirely upon yourself; and I own I begin
to have much better hopes than I had; for I know, by my own experience,
that the more one works, the more willing one is to work. We are all,
more or less, 'des animaux d'habitude'. I remember very well, that when I
was in business, I wrote four or five hours together every day, more
willingly than I should now half an hour; and this is most certain, that
when a man has applied himself to business half the day, the other half,
goes off the more cheerfully and agreeably. This I found so sensibly,
when I was at The Hague, that I never tasted company so well nor was so
good company myself, as at the suppers of my post days. I take Hamburg
now to be 'le centre du refuge Allemand'. If you have any Hanover
'refugies' among them, pray take care to be particularly attentive to
them. How do you like your house? Is it a convenient one? Have the
'Casserolles' been employed in it yet? You will find 'les petits soupers
fins' less expensive, and turn to better account, than large dinners for
I hope you have written to the Duke of Newcastle; I take it for granted
that you have to all your brother ministers of the northern department.
For God's sake be diligent, alert, active, and indefatigable in your
business. You want nothing but labor and industry to be, one day,
whatever you please, in your own way.
We think and talk of nothing here but Brest, which is universally
supposed to be the object of our great expedition. A great and important
object it is. I suppose the affair must be brusque, or it will not do.
If we succeed, it will make France put some water to its wine. As for my
own private opinion, I own I rather wish than hope success. However,
should our expedition fail, 'Magnis tamen excidit ausis', and that will
be better than our late languid manner of making war.
To mention a person to you whom I am very indifferent about, I mean
myself, I vegetate still just as I did when we parted; but I think I
begin to be sensible of the autumn of the year; as well as of the autumn
of my own life. I feel an internal awkwardness, which, in about three
weeks, I shall carry with me to the Bath, where I hope to get rid of it,
as I did last year. The best cordial I could take, would be to hear,
from time to time, of your industry and diligence; for in that case I
should consequently hear of your success. Remember your own motto,
'Nullum numen abest si sit prudentia'. Nothing is truer. Yours.
BLACKHEATH, September 23, 1757
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received but the day before yesterday your letter of
the 3d, from the headquarters at Selsingen; and, by the way, it is but
the second that I have received from you since your arrival at Hamburg.
Whatever was the cause of your going to the army, I approve of the
effect; for I would have you, as much as possible, see everything that is
to be seen. That is the true useful knowledge, which informs and
improves us when we are young, and amuses us and others when we are old;
'Olim haec meminisse juvabit'. I could wish that you would (but I know
you will not) enter in a book, a short note only, of whatever you see or
hear, that is very remarkable: I do not mean a German ALBUM stuffed with
people's names, and Latin sentences; but I mean such a book, as, if you
do not keep now, thirty years hence you would give a great deal of money
to have kept. 'A propos de bottes', for I am told he always wears his;
was his Royal Highness very gracious to you, or not? I have my doubts
about it. The neutrality which he has concluded with Marechal de
Richelieu, will prevent that bloody battle which you expected; but what
the King of Prussia will say to it is another point. He was our only
ally; at present, probably we have not one in the world. If the King of
Prussia can get at Monsieur de Soubize's, and the Imperial army, before
other troops have joined them, I think he will beat them but what then?
He has three hundred thousand men to encounter afterward. He must
submit; but he may say with truth, 'Si Pergama dextra defendi
potuissent'. The late action between the Prussians and Russians has only
thinned the human species, without giving either party a victory; which
is plain by each party's claiming it. Upon my word, our species will pay
very dear for the quarrels and ambition of a few, and those by no means
the most valuable part of it. If the many were wiser than they are, the
few must be quieter, and would perhaps be juster and better than they
Hamburg, I find, swarms with Grafs, Graffins, Fursts, and Furstins,
Hocheits, and Durchlaugticheits. I am glad of it, for you must
necessarily be in the midst of them; and I am still more glad, that,
being in the midst of them, you must necessarily be under some constraint
of ceremony; a thing which you do not love, but which is, however, very
I desired you in my last, and I repeat it again in this, to give me an
account of your private and domestic life.
How do you pass your evenings? Have they, at Hamburg, what are called at
Paris 'des Maisons', where one goes without ceremony, sups or not, as one
pleases? Are you adopted in any society? Have you any rational brother
ministers, and which? What sort of things are your operas? In the
tender, I doubt they do not excel; for 'mein lieber schatz', and the
other tendernesses of the Teutonic language, would, in my mind, sound but
indifferently, set to soft music; for the bravura parts, I have a great
opinion of them; and 'das, der donner dich erschlage', must no doubt,
make a tremendously fine piece of 'recitativo', when uttered by an angry
hero, to the rumble of a whole orchestra, including drums, trumpets, and
French horns. Tell me your whole allotment of the day, in which I hope
four hours, at least, are sacred to writing; the others cannot be better
employed than in LIBERAL pleasures. In short, give me a full account of
yourself, in your un-ministerial character, your incognito, without your
'fiocchi'. I love to see those, in whom I interest myself, in their
undress, rather than in gala; I know them better so. I recommend to you,
'etiam atque etiam', method and order in everything you undertake. Do
you observe it in your accounts? If you do not, you will be a beggar,
though you were to receive the appointments of a Spanish Ambassador
extraordinary, which are a thousand pistoles a month; and in your
ministerial business, if you have no regular and stated hours for such
and such parts of it, you will be in the hurry and confusion of the Duke
of N-----, doing everything by halves, and nothing well, nor soon. I
suppose you 'have been feasted through the Corps diplomatique at Hamburg,
excepting Monsieur Champeaux; with whom, however, I hope you live
'poliment et galamment', at all third places.
Lord Loudon is much blamed here for his 'retraite des dix milles', for it
is said that he had above that number, and might consequently have acted
offensively, instead of retreating; especially as his retreat was
contrary to the unanimous opinion(as it is now said) of the council of
war. In our Ministry, I suppose, things go pretty quietly, for the D. of
N. has not plagued me these two months. When his Royal Highness comes
over, which I take it for granted he will do very soon, the great push
will, I presume, be made at his Grace and Mr. Pitt; but without effect if
they agree, as it is visibly their interest to do; and, in that case,
their parliamentary strength will support them against all attacks. You
may remember, I said at first, that the popularity would soon be on the
side of those who opposed the popular Militia Bill; and now it appears so
with a vengeance, in almost every county in England, by the tumults and
insurrections of the people, who swear that they will not be enlisted.
That silly scheme must therefore be dropped, as quietly as may be. Now
that I have told you all that I know, and almost all that I think, I wish
you a good supper and a good-night.
BLACKHEATH, September 30, 1757
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have so little to do, that I am surprised how I can
find time to write to you so often. Do not stare at the seeming paradox;
for it is an undoubted truth, that the less one has to do, the less
time one finds to do it in. One yawns, one procrastinates, one can do it
when one will, and therefore one seldom does it at all; whereas those who
have a great deal of business, must (to use a vulgar expression) buckle
to it; and then they always find time enough to do it in. I hope your
own experience has by this time convinced you of this truth.
I received your last of the 8th. It is now quite over with a very great
man, who will still be a very great man, though a very unfortunate one.
He has qualities of the mind that put him above the reach of these
misfortunes; and if reduced, as perhaps he may, to the 'marche' of
Brandenburg, he will always find in himself the comfort, and with all the
world the credit, of a philosopher, a legislator, a patron, and a
professor of arts and sciences. He will only lose the fame of a
conqueror; a cruel fame, that arises from the destruction of the human
species. Could it be any satisfaction to him to know, I could tell him,
that he is at this time the most popular man in this kingdom; the whole
nation being enraged at that neutrality which hastens and completes his
ruin. Between you and me, the King was not less enraged at it himself,
when he saw the terms of it; and it affected his health more than all
that had happened before. Indeed it seems to me a voluntary concession
of the very worst that could have happened in the worst event. We now
begin to think that our great and secret expedition is intended for
Martinico and St. Domingo; if that be true, and we succeed in the
attempt, we shall recover, and the French lose, one of the most valuable
branches of commerce--I mean sugar. The French now supply all the
foreign markets in Europe with that commodity; we only supply ourselves
with it. This would make us some amends for our ill luck, or ill conduct
in North America; where Lord Loudon, with twelve thousand men, thought
himself no match for the French with but seven; and Admiral Holborne,
with seventeen ships of the line, declined attacking the French, because
they had eighteen, and a greater weight of METAL, according to the new
sea-phrase, which was unknown to Blake. I hear that letters have been
sent to both with very severe reprimands. I am told, and I believe it is
true, that we are negotiating with the Corsican, I will not say rebels,
but asserters of their natural rights; to receive them, and whatever form
of government they think fit to establish, under our protection, upon
condition of their delivering up to us Port Ajaccio; which may be made so
strong and so good a one, as to be a full equivalent for the loss of Port
Mahon. This is, in my mind, a very good scheme; for though the Corsicans
are a parcel of cruel and perfidious rascals, they will in this case be
tied down to us by their own interest and their own danger; a solid
security with knaves, though none with fools. His Royal Highness the
Duke is hourly expected here: his arrival will make some bustle; for I
believe it is certain that he is resolved to make a push at the Duke of
N., Pitt and Co.; but it will be ineffectual, if they continue to agree,
as, to my CERTAIN KNOWLEDGE, they do at present. This parliament is
theirs, 'caetera quis nescit'?
Now that I have told you all that I know or have heard, of public
matters, let us talk of private ones that more nearly and immediately
concern us. Admit me to your fire-side, in your little room; and as you
would converse with me there, write to me for the future from thence.
Are you completely 'nippe' yet? Have you formed what the world calls
connections? that is, a certain number of acquaintances whom, from
accident or choice, you frequent more than others: Have you either fine
or well-bred women there? 'Y a-t-il quelque bon ton'? All fat and fair,
I presume; too proud and too cold to make advances, but, at the same
time, too well-bred and too warm to reject them, when made by 'un honnete
homme avec des manieres'.
Mr. ------ is to be married, in about a month, to Miss ------. I am very
glad of it; for, as he will never be a man of the world, but will always
lead a domestic and retired life, she seems to have been made on purpose
for him. Her natural turn is as grave and domestic as his; and she seems
to have been kept by her aunts 'a la grace', instead of being raised in a
hot bed, as most young ladies are of late. If, three weeks hence, you
write him a short compliment of congratulation upon the occasion, he, his
mother, and 'tutti quanti', would be extremely pleased with it. Those
attentions are always kindly taken, and cost one nothing but pen, ink,
and paper. I consider them as draughts upon good-breeding, where the
exchange is always greatly in favor of the drawer. 'A propos' of
exchange; I hope you have, with the help of your secretary, made yourself
correctly master of all that sort of knowledge--Course of Exchange,
'Agie, Banco, Reiche-Thalers', down to 'Marien Groschen'. It is very
little trouble to learn it; it is often of great use to know it. Good-
night, and God bless you!
BLACKHEATH, October 10, 1757
MY DEAR FRIEND: It is not without some difficulty that I snatch this
moment of leisure from my extreme idleness, to inform you of the present
lamentable and astonishing state of affairs here, which you would know
but imperfectly from the public papers, and but partially from your
private correspondents. 'Or sus' then--Our in vincible Armada, which
cost at least half a million, sailed, as you know, some weeks ago; the
object kept an inviolable secret: conjectures various, and expectations
great. Brest was perhaps to be taken; but Martinico and St. Domingo, at
least. When lo! the important island of Aix was taken without the least
resistance, seven hundred men made prisoners, and some pieces of cannon
carried off. From thence we sailed toward Rochfort, which it seems was
our main object; and consequently one should have supposed that we had
pilots on board who knew all the soundings and landing places there and
thereabouts: but no; for General M-----t asked the Admiral if he could
land him and the troops near Rochfort? The Admiral said, with great
ease. To which the General replied, but can you take us on board again?
To which the Admiral answered, that, like all naval operations, will
depend upon the wind. If so, said the General, I'll e'en go home again.
A Council of War was immediately called, where it was unanimously
resolved, that it was ADVISABLE to return; accordingly they are returned.
As the expectations of the whole nation had been raised to the highest
pitch, the universal disappointment and indignation have arisen in
proportion; and I question whether the ferment of men's minds was ever
greater. Suspicions, you may be sure, are various and endless, but the
most prevailing one is, that the tail of the Hanover neutrality, like
that of a comet, extended itself to Rochfort. What encourages this
suspicion is, that a French man of war went unmolested through our whole
fleet, as it lay near Rochfort. Haddock's whole story is revived;
Michel's representations are combined with other circumstances; and the
whole together makes up a mass of discontent, resentment, and even fury,
greater than perhaps was ever known in this country before. These are
the facts, draw your own conclusions from them; for my part, I am lost in
astonishment and conjectures, and do not know where to fix. My
experience has shown me, that many things which seem extremely probable
are not true: and many which seem highly improbable are true; so that I
will conclude this article, as Josephus does almost every article of his
history, with saying, BUT OF THIS EVERY MAN WILL BELIEVE AS HE THINKS
PROPER. What a disgraceful year will this be in the annals of this
country! May its good genius, if ever it appears again, tear out those
sheets, thus stained and blotted by our ignominy!
Our domestic affairs are, as far as I know anything of them, in the same
situation as when I wrote to you last; but they will begin to be in
motion upon the approach of the session, and upon the return of the Duke,
whose arrival is most impatiently expected by the mob of London; though
not to strew flowers in his way.
I leave this place next Saturday, and London the Saturday following, to
be the next day at Bath. Adieu.
LONDON, October 17, 1757.
MY DEAR FRIEND: Your last, of the 30th past, was a very good letter; and
I will believe half of what you assure me, that you returned to the
Landgrave's civilities. I cannot possibly go farther than half, knowing
that you are not lavish of your words, especially in that species of
eloquence called the adulatory. Do not use too much discretion in
profiting of the Landgrave's naturalization of you; but go pretty often
and feed with him. Choose the company of your superiors, whenever you
can have it; that is the right and true pride. The mistaken and silly
pride is, to PRIMER among inferiors.
Hear, O Israel! and wonder. On Sunday morning last, the Duke gave up his
commission of Captain General and his regiment of guards. You will ask
me why? I cannot tell you, but I will tell you the causes assigned;
which, perhaps, are none of them the true ones. It is said that the King
reproached him with having exceeded his powers in making the Hanover
Convention, which his R. H. absolutely denied, and threw up thereupon.
This is certain, that he appeared at the drawing-room at Kensington, last
Sunday, after having quitted, and went straight to Windsor; where, his
people say, that he intends to reside quietly, and amuse himself as a
private man. But I conjecture that matters will soon be made up again,
and that he will resume his employments. You will easily imagine the
speculations this event has occasioned in the public; I shall neither
trouble you nor myself with relating them; nor would this sheet of paper,
or even a quire more, contain them. Some refine enough to suspect that
it is a concerted quarrel, to justify SOMEBODY TO SOMEBODY, with regard
to the Convention; but I do not believe it.
His R. H.'s people load the Hanover Ministers, and more particularly our
friend Munchausen here, with the whole blame; but with what degree of
truth I know not. This only is certain, that the whole negotiation of
that affair was broached and carried on by the Hanover Ministers and
Monsieur Stemberg at Vienna, absolutely unknown to the English Ministers,
till it was executed. This affair combined (for people will combine it)
with the astonishing return of our great armament, not only 're infecta',
but even 'intentata', makes such a jumble of reflections, conjectures,
and refinements, that one is weary of hearing them. Our Tacituses and
Machiavels go deep, suspect the worst, and, perhaps, as they often do,
overshoot the mark. For my own part, I fairly confess that I am
bewildered, and have not certain 'postulata' enough, not only to found
any opinion, but even to form conjectures upon: and this is the language
which I think you should hold to all who speak to you, as to be sure all
will, upon that subject. Plead, as you truly may, your own ignorance;
and say, that it is impossible to judge of those nice points, at such a
distance, and without knowing all circumstances, which you cannot be
supposed to do. And as to the Duke's resignation; you should, in my
opinion, say, that perhaps there might be a little too much vivacity in
the case, but that, upon the whole, you make no doubt of the thing's
being soon set right again; as, in truth, I dare say it will. Upon these
delicate occasions, you must practice the ministerial shrugs and
'persiflage'; for silent gesticulations, which you would be most inclined
to, would not be sufficient: something must be said, but that something,
when analyzed, must amount to nothing. As for instance, 'Il est vrai
qu'on s'y perd, mais que voulez-vous que je vous dise?--il y a bien du
pour et du contre; un petit Resident ne voit gueres le fond du sac.--Il
faut attendre.--Those sort of expletives are of infinite use; and nine
people in ten think they mean something. But to the Landgrave of Hesse I
think you would do well to say, in seeming confidence, that you have good
reason to believe that the principal objection of his Majesty to the
convention was that his Highness's interests, and the affair of his
troops, were not sufficiently considered in it. To the Prussian Minister
assert boldly that you know 'de science certaine', that the principal
object of his Majesty's and his British Ministry's intention is not only
to perform all their present engagements with his Master, but to take new
and stronger ones for his support; for this is true--AT LEAST AT PRESENT.
You did very well in inviting Comte Bothmar to dine with you. You see
how minutely I am informed of your proceedings, though not from yourself.
I go to Bath next Saturday; but direct your letters, as usual, to London.
BATH, October 26, 1757.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I arrived here safe, but far from sound, last Sunday.
I have consequently drunk these waters but three days, and yet I find
myself something better for them. The night before I left London. I was
for some hours at Newcastle House, where the letters, which came that
morning, lay upon the table: and his Grace singled out yours with great
approbation, and, at the same time, assured me of his Majesty's
approbation, too. To these two approbations I truly add my own, which,
'sans vanite', may perhaps be near as good as the other two. In that
letter you venture 'vos petits raisonnemens' very properly, and then as
properly make an excuse for doing so. Go on so, with diligence, and you
will be, what I began to despair of your ever being, SOMEBODY. I am
persuaded, if you would own the truth, that you feel yourself now much
better satisfied with yourself than you were while you did nothing.
Application to business, attended with approbation and success, flatters
and animates the mind: which, in idleness and inaction, stagnates and
putrefies. I could wish that every rational man would, every night when
he goes to bed, ask himself this question, What have I done to-day? Have
I done anything that can be of use to myself or others? Have I employed
my time, or have I squandered it? Have I lived out the day, or have I
dozed it away in sloth and laziness? A thinking being must be pleased or
confounded, according as he can answer himself these questions.
I observe that you are in the secret of what is intended, and what
Munchausen is gone to Stade to prepare; a bold and dangerous experiment
in my mind, and which may probably end in a second volume to the "History
of the Palatinate," in the last century. His Serene Highness of
Brunswick has, in my mind, played a prudent and saving game; and I am apt
to believe that the other Serene Highness, at Hamburg, is more likely to
follow his example than to embark in the great scheme.
I see no signs of the Duke's resuming his employments; but on the
contrary I am assured that his Majesty is coolly determined to do as well
as he can without him. The Duke of Devonshire and Fox have worked hard
to make up matters in the closet, but to no purpose. People's self-love
is very apt to make them think themselves more necessary than they are:
and I shrewdly suspect, that his Royal Highness has been the dupe of that
sentiment, and was taken at his word when he least suspected it; like my
predecessor, Lord Harrington, who when he went into the closet to resign
the seals, had them not about him: so sure he thought himself of being
pressed to keep them.
The whole talk of London, of this place, and of every place in the whole
kingdom, is of our great, expensive, and yet fruitless expedition; I have
seen an officer who was there, a very sensible and observing man: who
told me that had we attempted Rochfort, the day after we took the island
of Aix, our success had been infallible; but that, after we had sauntered
(God knows why) eight or ten days in the island, he thinks the attempt
would have been impracticable, because the French had in that time got
together all the troops in that neighborhood, to a very considerable
number. In short, there must have been some secret in that whole affair
that has not yet transpired; and I cannot help suspecting that it came
from Stade. WE had not been successful there; and perhaps WE were not
desirous that an expedition, in which WE had neither been concerned nor
consulted, should prove so; M----t was OUR creature, and a word to the
wise will sometimes go a great way. M----t is to have a public trial,
from which the public expects great discoveries--Not I.
Do you visit Soltikow, the Russian Minister, whose house, I am told, is
the great scene of pleasures at Hamburg? His mistress, I take for
granted, is by this time dead, and he wears some other body's shackles.
Her death comes with regard to the King of Prussia, 'comme la moutarde
apres diner'. I am curious to see what tyrant will succeed her, not by
divine, but by military right; for, barbarous as they are now, and still
more barbarous as they have been formerly, they have had very little
regard to the more barbarous notion of divine, indefeasible, hereditary
The Praetorian bands, that is, the guards, I presume, have been engaged
in the interests of the Imperial Prince; but still I think that little
John of Archangel will be heard upon this occasion, unless prevented by a
quieting draught of hemlock or nightshade; for I suppose they are not
arrived to the politer and genteeler poisons of Acqua Tufana,--[Acqua
Tufana, a Neapolitan slow poison, resembling clear water, and invented by
a woman at Naples, of the name of Tufana.]--sugar-plums, etc.
Lord Halifax has accepted his old employment, with the honorary addition
of the Cabinet Council. And so we heartily wish you a goodnight.
BATH, November 4, 1757
MY DEAR FRIEND: The Sons of Britain, like those of Noah, must cover
their parent's shame as well as they can; for to retrieve its honor is
now too late. One would really think that our ministers and generals
were all as drunk as the Patriarch was. However, in your situation, you
must not be Cham; but spread your cloak over our disgrace, as far as it
will go. M----t calls aloud for a public trial; and in that, and that
only, the public agree with him. There will certainly be one, but of
what kind is not yet fixed. Some are for a parliamentary inquiry, others
for a martial one; neither will, in my opinion, discover the true secret;
for a secret there most unquestionably is. Why we stayed six whole days
in the island of Aix, mortal cannot imagine; which time the French
employed, as it was obvious they would, in assembling their troops in the
neighborhood of Rochfort, and making our attempt then really
impracticable. The day after we had taken the island of Aix, your
friend, Colonel Wolf, publicly offered to do the business with five
hundred men and three ships only. In all these complicated political
machines there are so many wheels, that it is always difficult, and
sometimes im possible, to guess which of them gives direction to the
whole. Mr. Pitt is convinced that the principal wheels, or, if you will,
the spoke in his wheel, came from Stade. This is certain, at least that
M----t was the man of confidence with that person. Whatever be the truth
of the case, there is, to be sure, hitherto an 'hiatus valde deflendus'.
The meeting of the parliament will certainly be very numerous, were it
only from curiosity: but the majority on the side of the Court will,
I dare say, be a great one. The people of the late Captain-general,
however inclined to oppose, will be obliged to concur. Their
commissions, which they have no desire to lose, will make them tractable;
for those gentlemen, though all men of honor, are of Sosia's mind, 'que
le vrai Amphitrion est celui ou l'on dine'. The Tories and the city have
engaged to support Pitt; the Whigs, the Duke of Newcastle; the
independent and the impartial, as you well know, are not worth
mentioning. It is said that the Duke intends to bring the affair of his
Convention into parliament, for his own justification; I can hardly
believe it; as I cannot conceive that transactions so merely electoral
can be proper objects of inquiry or deliberation for a British
parliament; and, therefore, should such a motion be made, I presume it
will be immediately quashed. By the commission lately given to Sir John
Ligonier, of General and Commander-in-chief of all his Majesty's forces
in Great Britain, the door seems to be not only shut, but bolted, against
his Royal Highness's return; and I have good reason to be convinced that
that breach is irreparable. The reports of changes in the Ministry, I am
pretty sure, are idle and groundless. The Duke of Newcastle and Mr. Pitt
really agree very well; not, I presume, from any sentimental tenderness
for each other, but from a sense that it is their mutual interest: and,
as the late Captain-general's party is now out of the question, I do not
see what should produce the least change.
The visit made lately to Berlin was, I dare say, neither a friendly nor
an inoffensive one. The Austrians always leave behind them pretty
lasting monuments of their visits, or rather visitations: not so much, I
believe, from their thirst of glory, as from their hunger of prey.
This winter, I take for granted, must produce a piece of some kind or
another; a bad one for us, no doubt, and yet perhaps better than we
should get the year after. I suppose the King of Prussia is negotiating
with France, and endeavoring by those means to get out of the scrape with
the loss only of Silesia, and perhaps Halberstadt, by way of
indemnification to Saxony; and, considering all circumstances, he would
be well off upon those terms. But then how is Sweden to be satisfied?
Will the Russians restore Memel? Will France have been at all this
expense 'gratis'? Must there be no acquisition for them in Flanders?
I dare say they have stipulated something of that sort for themselves,
by the additional and secret treaty, which I know they made, last May,
with the Queen of Hungary. Must we give up whatever the French please to
desire in America, besides the cession of Minorca in perpetuity? I fear
we must, or else raise twelve millions more next year, to as little
purpose as we did this, and have consequently a worse peace afterward.
I turn my eyes away, as much as I can, from this miserable prospect;
but, as a citizen and member of society, it recurs to my imagination,
notwithstanding all my endeavors to banish it from my thoughts. I can do
myself nor my country no good; but I feel the wretched situation of both;
the state of the latter makes me better bear that of the former; and,
when I am called away from my station here, I shall think it rather (as
Cicero says of Crassus) 'mors donata quam vita erepta'.
I have often desired, but in vain, the favor of being admitted into your
private apartment at, Hamburg, and of being informed of your private life
there. Your mornings, I hope and believe, are employed in business; but
give me an account of the remainder of the day, which I suppose is, and
ought to be, appropriated to amusements and pleasures. In what houses
are you domestic? Who are so in yours? In short, let me in, and do not
be denied to me.
Here I am, as usual, seeing few people, and hearing fewer; drinking the
waters regularly to a minute, and am something the better for them.
I read a great deal, and vary occasionally my dead company. I converse
with grave folios in the morning, while my head is clearest and my
attention strongest: I take up less severe quartos after dinner; and at
night I choose the mixed company and amusing chit-chat of octavos and
duodecimos. 'Ye tire parti de tout ce gue je puis'; that is my
philosophy; and I mitigate, as much as I can, my physical ills by
diverting my attention to other objects.
Here is a report that Admiral Holborne's fleet is destroyed, in a manner,
by a storm: I hope it is not true, in the full extent of the report; but
I believe it has suffered. This would fill up the measure of our
BATH, November 20, 1757
MY DEAR FRIEND: I write to you now, because I love to write to you; and
hope that my letters are welcome to you; for otherwise I have very little
to inform you of. The King of Prussia's late victory you are better
informed, of than we are here. It has given infinite joy to the
unthinking public, who are not aware that it comes too late in the year
and too late in the war, to be attended with any very great consequences.
There are six or seven thousand of the human species less than there were
a month ago, and that seems to me to be all. However, I am glad of it,
upon account of the pleasure and the glory which it gives the King of
Prussia, to whom I wish well as a man, more than as a king. And surely
he is so great a man, that had he lived seventeen or eighteen hundred
years ago, and his life been transmitted to us in a language that we
could not very well understand--I mean either Greek or Latin--we should
have talked of him as we do now of your Alexanders, your Caesars, and
others; with whom, I believe, we have but a very slight acquaintance.
'Au reste', I do not see that his affairs are much mended by this
victory. The same combination of the great Powers of Europe against him
still subsists, and must at last prevail. I believe the French army will
melt away, as is usual, in Germany; but this army is extremely diminished
by battles, fatigues, and desertion: and he will find great difficulties
in recruiting it from his own already exhausted dominions. He must
therefore, and to be sure will, negotiate privately with the French,
and get better terms that way than he could any other.
The report of the three general officers, the Duke of Marlborough, Lord
George Sackville, and General Waldegrave, was laid before the King last
Saturday, after their having sat four days upon M----t's affair: nobody
yet knows what it is; but it is generally believed that M----t will be
brought to a court-martial. That you may not mistake this matter, as
MOST people here do, I must explain to you, that this examination before
the three above-mentioned general officers, was by no means a trial; but
only a previous inquiry into his conduct, to see whether there was, or
was not, cause to bring him to a regular trial before a court-martial.
The case is exactly parallel to that of a grand jury; who, upon a
previous and general examination, find, or do not find, a bill to bring
the matter before the petty jury; where the fact is finally tried. For
my own part, my opinion is fixed upon that affair: I am convinced that
the expedition was to be defeated; and nothing that can appear before a
court-martial can make me alter that opinion. I have been too long
acquainted with human nature to have great regard for human testimony;
and a very great degree of probability, supported by various concurrent
circumstances, conspiring in one point, will have much greater weight
with me, than human testimony upon oath, or even upon honor; both which I
have frequently seen considerably warped by private views.
The parliament, which now stands prorogued to the first of next month, it
is thought will be put off for some time longer, till we know in what
light to lay before it the state of our alliance with Prussia, since the
conclusion of the Hanover neutrality; which, if it did not quite break
it, made at least a great flaw in it.
The birth-day was neither fine nor crowded; and no wonder, since the King
was that day seventy-five. The old Court and the young one are much
better together since the Duke's retirement; and the King has presented
the Prince of Wales with a service of plate.
I am still UNWELL, though I drink these waters very regularly. I will
stay here at least six weeks longer; where I am much quieter than I
should be allowed to be in town. When things are in such a miserable
situation as they are at present, I desire neither to be concerned nor
consulted, still less quoted. Adieu!
BATH, November 26, 1757
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received by the last mail your short account of the
King of Prussia's victory; which victory, contrary to custom, turns out
more complete than it was at first reported to be. This appears by an
intercepted letter from Monsieur de St. Germain to Monsieur d'Affry, at
The Hague, in which he tells him, 'Cette arme est entierement fondue',
and lays the blame, very strongly, upon Monsieur de Soubize. But, be it
greater or be it less, I am glad of it; because the King of Prussia (whom
I honor and almost adore) I am sure is. Though 'd'ailleurs', between you
and me, 'ou est-ce que cela mene'? To nothing, while that formidable
union of three great Powers of Europe subsists against him, could that be
any way broken, something might be done; without which nothing can. I
take it for granted that the King of Prussia will do all he can to detach
France. Why should not we, on our part, try to detach Russia? At least,
in our present distress, 'omnia tentanda', and sometimes a lucky and
unexpected hit turns up. This thought came into my head this morning;
and I give it to you, not as a very probable scheme, but as a possible
one, and consequently worth trying. The year of the Russian subsidies
(nominally paid by the Court of Vienna, but really by France) is near
expired. The former probably cannot, and perhaps the latter will not,
renew them. The Court of Petersburg is beggarly, profuse, greedy, and by
no means scrupulous. Why should not we step in there, and out-bid them?
If we could, we buy a great army at once; which would give an entire new
turn to the affairs of that part of the world at least. And if we bid
handsomely, I do not believe the 'bonne foi' of that Court would stand in
the way. Both our Court and our parliament would, I am very sure, give a
very great sum, and very cheerfully, for this purpose. In the next
place, Why should not you wriggle yourself, if possible, into so great a
scheme? You are, no doubt, much acquainted with the Russian Resident,
Soltikow; Why should you not sound him, as entirely from yourself, upon
this subject? You may ask him, What, does your Court intend to go on
next year in the pay of France, to destroy the liberties of all Europe,
and throw universal monarchy into the hands of that already great and
always ambitious Power? I know you think, or at least call yourselves,
the allies of the Empress Queen; but is it not plain that she will be,
in the first place, and you in the next, the dupes of France? At this
very time you are doing the work of France and Sweden: and that for some
miserable subsidies, much inferior to those which I am sure you might
have, in a better cause, and more consistent with the true interest of
Russia. Though not empowered, I know the manner of thinking of my own
Court so well upon this subject, that I will venture to promise you much
better terms than those you have now, without the least apprehensions of
being disavowed. Should he listen to this, and what more may occur to
you to say upon this subject, and ask you, 'En ecrirai je d ma cour?
Answer him, 'Ecrivez, ecrivex, Monsieur hardiment'. Je prendrai tout
cela sur moi'. Should this happen, as perhaps, and as I heartily wish it
may, then write an exact relation of it to your own Court. Tell them
that you thought the measure of such great importance, that you could not
help taking this little step toward bringing it about; but that you
mentioned it only as from yourself, and that you have not in the least
committed them by it. If Soltikow lends himself in any degree to this,
insinuate that, in the present situation of affairs, and particularly of
the King's Electoral dominions, you are very sure that his Majesty would
have 'une reconnoissance sans bornes' for ALL those by whose means so
desirable a revival of an old and long friendship should be brought
about. You will perhaps tell me that, without doubt, Mr. Keith's
instructions are to the same effect: but I will answer you, that you can,
IF YOU PLEASE, do it better than Mr. Keith; and in the next place that,
be all that as it will, it must be very advantageous to you at home, to
show that you have at least a contriving head, and an alertness in
I had a letter by the last post, from the Duke of Newcastle, in which he
congratulates me, in his own name and in Lord Hardwicke's, upon the
approbation which your dispatches give, not only to them two, but to
OTHERS. This success, so early, should encourage your diligence and
rouse your ambition if you have any; you may go a great way, if you
desire it, having so much time before you.
I send you here inclosed the copy of the Report of the three general
officers, appointed to examine previously into the conduct of General
M----t; it is ill written, and ill spelled, but no matter; you will
decipher it. You will observe, by the tenor of it, that it points
strongly to a court-martial; which, no doubt, will soon be held upon him.
I presume there will be no shooting in the final sentence; but I do
suppose there will be breaking, etc.
I have had some severe returns of my old complaints last week, and am
still unwell; I cannot help it.
A friend of yours arrived here three days ago; she seems to me to be a
serviceable strong-bodied bay mare, with black mane and tail; you easily
guess who I mean. She is come with mamma, and without 'caro sposo'.
Adieu! my head will not let me go on longer.
BATH, December 31, 1757
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have this moment received your letter of the 18th, with
the inclosed papers. I cannot help observing that, till then, you never
acknowledged the receipt of any one of my letters.
I can easily conceive that party spirit, among your brother ministers at
Hamburg, runs as high as you represent it, because I can easily believe
the errors of the human mind; but at the same time I must observe, that
such a spirit is the spirit of little minds and subaltern ministers, who
think to atone by zeal for their want of merit and importance. The
political differences of the several courts should never influence the
personal behavior of their several ministers toward one another. There
is a certain 'procede noble et galant', which should always be observed
among the ministers of powers even at war with each other, which will
always turn out to the advantage of the ablest, who will in those
conversations find, or make, opportunities of throwing out, or of
receiving useful hints. When I was last at The Hague, we were at war
with both France and Spain; so that I could neither visit, nor be visited
by, the Ministers of those two Crowns; but we met every day, or dined at
third places, where we embraced as personal friends, and trifled, at the
same time, upon our being political enemies; and by this sort of badinage
I discovered some things which I wanted to know. There is not a more
prudent maxim than to live with one's enemies as if they may one day
become one's friends; as it commonly happens, sooner or later, in the
vicissitudes of political affairs.
To your question, which is a rational and prudent one, Whether I was
authorized to give you the hints concerning Russia by any people in power
here, I will tell you that I was not: but, as I had pressed them to try
what might be done with Russia, and got Mr. Keith to be dispatched there
some months sooner than otherwise, I dare say he would, with the proper
instructions for that purpose. I wished that, by the hints I gave you,
you might have got the start of him, and the merit, at least, of having
'entame' that matter with Soltikow. What you have to do with him now,
when you meet with him at any third place, or at his own house (where you
are at liberty to go, while Russia has a Minister in London, and we a
Minister at Petersburg), is, in my opinion, to say to him, in an easy
cheerful manner, 'He bien, Monsieur, je me flatte que nous serons bientot
amis publics, aussi bien qu'amis personels'. To which he will probably
ask, Why, or how? You will reply, Because you know that Mr. Keith is
gone to his Court with instructions, which you think must necessarily be
agreeable there. And throw out to him that nothing but a change of their
present system can save Livonia to Russia; for that he cannot suppose
that, when the Swedes shall have recovered Pomerania they will long leave
Russia in quiet possession of Livonia.
If he is so much a Frenchman as you say, he will make you some weak
answers to this; but, as you will have the better of the argument on your
side, you may remind him of the old and almost uninterrupted connection
between France and Sweden, the inveterate enemy of Russia. Many other
arguments will naturally occur to you in such a conversation, if you have
it. In this case, there is a piece of ministerial art, which is
sometimes of use; and that is, to sow jealousies among one's enemies, by
a seeming preference shown to some one of them. Monsieur Hecht's
reveries are reveries indeed. How should his Master have made the GOLDEN
ARRANGEMENTS which he talks of, and which are to be forged into shackles
for General Fermor? The Prussian finances are not in a condition now to
make such expensive arrangements. But I think you may tell Monsieur
Hecht, in confidence, that you hope the instructions with which you know
that Mr. Keith is gone to Petersburg, may have some effect upon the
measures of that Court.
I would advise you to live with that same Monsieur Hecht in all the
confidence, familiarity, and connection, which prudence will allow.
I mean it with regard to the King of Prussia himself, by whom I could
wish you to be known and esteemed as much as possible. It may be of use
to you some day or other. If man, courage, conduct, constancy, can get
the better of all the difficulties which the King of Prussia has to
struggle with, he will rise superior to them. But still, while his
alliance subsists against him, I dread 'les gros escadrons'. His last
victory, of the 5th, was certainly the completest that has been heard of
these many years. I heartily wish the Prince of Brunswick just such a
one over Monsieur de Richelieu's army; and that he may take my old
acquaintance the Marechal, and send him over here to polish and perfume
I heartily wish you, in the plain, home-spun style, a great number of
happy new years, well employed in forming both your mind and your
manners, to be useful and agreeable to yourself, your country, and your
friends! That these wishes are sincere, your secretary's brother will,
by the time of your receiving this, have remitted you a proof, from
LETTERS TO HIS SON
LONDON, February 8, 1758.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received by the same post your two letters of the 13th
and 17th past; and yesterday that of the 27th, with the Russian manifesto
inclosed, in which her Imperial Majesty of all the Russias has been
pleased to give every reason, except the true one, for the march of her
troops against the King of Prussia. The true one, I take it to be, that
she has just received a very great sum of money from France, or the
Empress queen, or both, for that purpose. 'Point d'argent, point de
Russe', is now become a maxim. Whatever may be the motive of their
march, the effects must be bad; and, according to my speculations, those
troops will replace the French in Hanover and Lower Saxony; and the
French will go and join the Austrian army. You ask me if I still
despond? Not so much as I did after the battle of Colen: the battles of
Rosbach and Lissa were drams to me, and gave me some momentary spirts:
but though I do not absolutely despair, I own I greatly distrust.
I readily allow the King of Prussia to be 'nec pluribus impar'; but
still, when the 'plures' amount to a certain degree of plurality, courage
and abilities must yield at last. Michel here assures me that he does
not mind the Russians; but, as I have it from the gentleman's own mouth,
I do not believe him. We shall very soon send a squadron to the Baltic
to entertain the Swedes; which I believe will put an end to their
operations in Pomerania; so that I have no great apprehensions from that
quarter; but Russia, I confess, sticks in my stomach.
Everything goes smoothly in parliament; the King of Prussia has united
all our parties in his support; and the Tories have declared that they
will give Mr. Pitt unlimited credit for this session; there has not been
one single division yet upon public points, and I believe will not. Our
American expedition is preparing to go soon; the dis position of that
affair seems to me a little extraordinary. Abercrombie is to be the
sedantary, and not the acting commander; Amherst, Lord Howe, and Wolfe,
are to be the acting, and I hope the active officers. I wish they may
agree. Amherst, who is the oldest officer, is under the influence of the
same great person who influenced Mordaunt, so much to honor and advantage
of this country. This is most certain, that we have force enough in
America to eat up the French alive in Canada, Quebec, and Louisburg, if
we have but skill and spirit enough to exert it properly; but of that I
am modest enough to doubt.
When you come to the egotism, which I have long desired you to come to
with me, you need make no excuses for it. The egotism is as proper and
as satisfactory to one's friends, as it is impertinent and misplaced with
strangers. I desire to see you in your every-day clothes, by your
fireside, in your pleasures; in short, in your private life; but I have
not yet been able to obtain this. Whenever you condescend to do it, as
you promise, stick to truth; for I am not so uninformed of Hamburg as
perhaps you may think.
As for myself, I am very UNWELL, and very weary of being so; and with
little hopes, at my age, of ever being otherwise. I often wish for the
end of the wretched remnant of my life; and that wish is a rational one;
but then the innate principle of self-preservation, wisely implanted in
our natures for obvious purposes, opposes that wish, and makes us
endeavor to spin out our thread as long as we can, however decayed and
rotten it may be; and, in defiance of common sense, we seek on for that
chymic gold, which beggars us when old.
Whatever your amusements, or pleasures, may be at Hamburg, I dare say you
taste them more sensibly than ever you did in your life, now that you
have business enough to whet your appetite to them. Business, one-half
of the day, is the best preparation for the pleasures of the other half.
I hope, and believe, that it will be with you as it was with an
apothecary whom I knew at Twickenham. A considerable estate fell to him
by an unexpected accident; upon which he thought it decent to leave off
his business; accordingly he generously gave up his shop and his stock to
his head man, set up his coach, and resolved to live like a gentleman;
but, in less than a month, the man, used to business, found, that living
like a gentleman was dying of ennui; upon which he bought his shop and
stock, resumed his trade, and lived very happily, after he had something
to do. Adieu.
LONDON, February 24, 1758
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received yesterday your letter of the 2d instant, with
the inclosed; which I return you, that there may be no chasm in your
papers. I had heard before of Burrish's death, and had taken some steps
thereupon; but I very soon dropped that affair, for ninety-nine good
reasons; the first of which was, that nonody is to go in his room, and
that, had he lived, he was to have been recalled from Munich. But
another reason, more flattering for you, was, that you could not be
spared from Hamburg. Upon the whole, I am not sorry for it, as the place
where you are now is the great entrepot of business; and, when it ceases
to be so, you will necessarily go to some of the courts in the
neighborhood (Berlin, I hope and believe), which will be a much more
desirable situation than to rush at Munich, where we can never have any
business beyond a subsidy. Do but go on, and exert yourself were you
are, and better things will soon follow.
Surely the inaction of our army at Hanover continues too long. We
expected wonders from it some time ago, and yet nothing is attempted.
The French will soon receive reinforcements, and then be too strong for
us; whereas they are now most certainly greatly weakened by desertion,
sickness, and deaths. Does the King of Prussia send a body of men to our
army or not? or has the march of the Russians cut him out work for all
his troops? I am afraid it has. If one body of Russians joins the
Austrian army in Moravia, and another body the Swedes in Pomerania, he
will have his hands very full, too full, I fear. The French say they
will have an army of 180,000 men in Germany this year; the Empress Queen
will have 150,000; if the Russians have but 40,000, what can resist such
a force? The King of Prussia may say, indeed, with more justice than
ever any one person could before him, 'Moi. Medea superest'.
You promised the some egotism; but I have received none yet. Do you
frequent the Landgrave? 'Hantex vous les grands de la terre'? What are
the connections of the evening? All this, and a great deal more of this
kind, let me know in your next.
The House of Commons is still very unanimous. There was a little popular
squib let off this week, in a motion of Sir John Glynne's, seconded by
Sir John Philips, for annual parliaments. It was a very cold scent, and
put an end to by a division of 190 to 70.
Good-night. Work hard, that you may divert yourself well.
LONDON, March 4, 1758.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I should have been much more surprised at the contents of
your letter of the 17th past, if I had not happened to have seen Sir C.
W., about three or four hours before I received it. I thought he talked
in an extraordinary manner; he engaged that the King of Prussia should be
master of Vienna in the month of May; and he told me that you were very
much in love with his daughter. Your letter explained all this to me;
and next day, Lord and Lady E----- gave me innumerable instances of his
frenzy, with which I shall not trouble you. What inflamed it the more
(if it did not entirely occasion it) was a great quantity of cantharides,
which, it seems, he had taken at Hamburgh, to recommend himself, I
suppose, to Mademoiselle John. He was let blood four times on board the
ship, and has been let blood four times since his arrival here; but still
the inflammation continues very high. He is now under the care of his
brothers, who do not let him go abroad. They have written to this same
Mademoiselle John, to prevent if they can, her coming to England, and
told her the case; which, when she hears she must be as mad as he is, if
she takes the journey. By the way, she must be 'une dame aventuriere',
to receive a note for 10,000 roubles from a man whom she had known but
three days! to take a contract of marriage, knowing he was married
already; and to engage herself to follow him to England. I suppose this
is not the first adventure of the sort which she has had.
After the news we received yesterday, that the French had evacuated
Hanover, all but Hamel, we daily expect much better. We pursue them, we
cut them off 'en detail', and at last we destroy their whole army. I
wish it may happen; and, moreover, I think it not impossible.
My head is much out of order, and only allows me to wish you good-night.
LONDON, March 22, 1758
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have now your letter of the 8th lying before me, with
the favorable account of our progress in Lower Saxony, and reasonable
prospect of more decisive success. I confess I did not expect this, when
my friend Munchausen took his leave of me, to go to Stade, and break the
neutrality; I thought it at least a dangerous, but rather a desperate
undertaking; whereas, hitherto, it has proved a very fortunate one.
I look upon the French army as 'fondue'; and, what with desertion,
deaths, and epidemical distempers, I dare say not a third of it will ever
return to France. The great object is now, what the Russians can or will
do; and whether the King of Prussia can hinder their junction with the
Austrians, by beating either, before they join. I will trust him for
doing all that can be done.
Sir C. W. is still in confinement, and, I fear, will always be so, for he
seems 'cum ratione insanire'; the physicians have collected all he has
said and done that indicated an alienation of mind, and have laid it
before him in writing; he has answered it in writing too, and justifies
himself in the most plausible arguments than can possibly be urged. He
tells his brother, and the few who are allowed to see him, that they are
such narrow and contracted minds themselves, that they take those for mad
who have a great and generous way of thinking; as, for instance, when he
determined to send his daughter over to you in a fortnight, to be
married, without any previous agreement or settlements, it was because he
had long known you, and loved you as a man of sense and honor; and
therefore would not treat with you as with an attorney. That as for
Mademoiselle John, he knew her merit and her circumstances; and asks,
whether it is a sign of madness to have a due regard for the one, and a
just compassion for the other. I will not tire you with enumerating any
more instances of the poor man's frenzy; but conclude this subject with
pitying him, and poor human nature, which holds its reason by so
precarious a tenure. The lady, who you tell me is set out, 'en sera pour
la seine et les fraix du voyage', for her note is worth no more than her
contract. By the way, she must be a kind of 'aventuriere', to engage so
easily in such an adventure with a man whom she had not known above a
week, and whose 'debut' of 10,000 roubles showed him not to be in his
You will probably have seen General Yorke, by this time, in his way to
Berlin or Breslau, or wherever the King of Prussia may be. As he keeps
his commission to the States General, I presume he is not to stay long
with his Prussian Majesty; but, however, while he is there, take care to
write to him very constantly, and to give all the information you can.
His father, Lord Hardwicke, is your great puff: he commends your office
letters, exceedingly. I would have the Berlin commission your object,
in good time; never lose view of it. Do all you can to recommend
yourself to the King of Prussia on your side of the water, and to smooth
your way for that commission on this; by the turn which things have taken
of late, it must always be the most important of all foreign commissions
I have no news to send you, as things here are extremely quiet; so, good-
LONDON, April 25, 1758.
DEAR FRIEND: I am now two letters in your debt, which I think is the
first time that ever I was so, in the long course of our correspondence.
But, besides that my head has been very much out of order of late,
writing is by no means that easy thing that it was to me formerly.
I find by experience, that the mind and the body are more than married,
for they are most intimately united; and when the one suffers, the other
sympathizes. 'Non sum qualis eram': neither my memory nor my invention
are now what they formerly were. It is in a great measure my own fault;
I cannot accuse Nature, for I abused her; and it is reasonable I should
suffer for it.
I do not like the return of the impression upon your lungs; but the rigor
of the cold may probably have brought it upon you, and your lungs not in
fault. Take care to live very cool, and let your diet be rather low.
We have had a second winter here, more severe than the first, at least
it seemed so, from a premature summer that we had, for a fortnight,
in March; which brought everything forward, only to be destroyed. I have
experienced it at Blackheath, where the promise of fruit was a most
flattering one, and all nipped in the bud by frost and snow, in April.
I shall not have a single peach or apricot.
I have nothing to tell you from hence concerning public affairs, but what
you read in the newspapers. This only is extraordinary: that last week,
in the House of Commons, above ten millions were granted, and the whole
Hanover army taken into British pay, with but one single negative, which
was Mr. Viner's.
Mr. Pitt gains ground in the closet, and yet does not lose it in the
public. That is new.
Monsieur Kniphausen has dined with me; he is one of the prettiest fellows
I have seen; he has, with a great deal of life and fire, 'les manieres
d'un honnete homme, et le ton de la Parfaitement bonne compagnie'. You
like him yourself; try to be like him: it is in your power.
I hear that Mr. Mitchel is to be recalled, notwithstanding the King of
Prussia's instances to keep him. But why, is a secret that I cannot
You will not fail to offer the Landgrave, and the Princess of Hesse (who
I find are going home), to be their agent and commissioner at Hamburg.
I cannot comprehend the present state of Russia, nor the motions of their
armies. They change their generals once a week; sometimes they march
with rapidity, and now they lie quiet behind the Vistula. We have a
thousand stories here of the interior of that government, none of which I
believe. Some say, that the Great Duke will be set aside.
Woronzoff is said to be entirely a Frenchman, and that Monsieur de
l'Hopital governs both him and the court. Sir C. W. is said, by his
indiscretions, to have caused the disgrace of Bestuchef, which seems not
impossible. In short, everything of every kind is said, because, I
believe, very little is truly known. 'A propos' of Sir C. W.; he is out
of confinement, and gone to his house in the country for the whole
summer. They say he is now very cool and well. I have seen his Circe,
at her window in Pall-Mall; she is painted, powdered, curled, and
patched, and looks 'l'aventure'. She has been offered, by Sir C. W----'s
friends, L500 in full of all demands, but will not accept of it. 'La
comtesse veut plaider', and I fancy 'faire autre chose si elle peut.
Jubeo to bene valere.
BLACKHEATH, May 18, O. S. 1758.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have your letter of the 9th now before me, and condole
with you upon the present solitude and inaction of Hamburg. You are now
shrunk from the dignity and importance of a consummate minister, to be
but, as it were, a common man. But this has, at one time or another,
been the case of most great men; who have not always had equal
opportunities of exerting their talents. The greatest must submit to the
capriciousness of fortune; though they can, better than others, improve
the favorable moments. For instance, who could have thought, two years
ago, that you would have been the Atlas of the Northern Pole; but the
Good Genius of the North ordered it so; and now that you have set that
part of the globe right, you return to 'otium cum dignitate'. But to be
serious: now that you cannot have much office business to do, I could
tell you what to do, that would employ you, I should think, both usefully
and agreeably. I mean, that you should write short memoirs of that busy
scene, in which you have been enough concerned, since your arrival at
Hamburg, to be able to put together authentic facts and anecdotes. I do
not know whether you will give yourself the trouble to do it or not; but
I do know, that if you will, 'olim hcec meminisse juvabit'. I would have
them short, but correct as to facts and dates.
I have told Alt, in the strongest manner, your lamentations for the loss
of the House of Cassel, 'et il en fera rapport a son Serenissime Maitre'.
When you are quite idle (as probably you may be, some time this summer),
why should you not ask leave to make a tour to Cassel for a week? which
would certainly be granted you from hence, and which would be looked upon
as a 'bon procede' at Cassel.
The King of Prussia is probably, by this time, at the gates of Vienna,
making the Queen of Hungary really do what Monsieur de Bellisle only
threatened; sign a peace upon the ramparts of her capital. If she is
obstinate, and will not, she must fly either to Presburg or to Inspruck,
and Vienna must fall. But I think he will offer her reasonable
conditions enough for herself; and I suppose, that, in that case, Caunitz
will be reasonable enough to advise her to accept of them. What turn
would the war take then? Would the French and Russians carry it on
without her? The King of Prussia, and the Prince of Brunswick, would
soon sweep them out of Germany. By this time, too, I believe, the French
are entertained in America with the loss of Cape Breton; and, in
consequence of that, Quebec; for we have a force there equal to both
those undertakings, and officers there, now, that will execute what Lord
L------ never would so much as attempt. His appointments were too
considerable to let him do anything that might possibly put an end to the
war. Lord Howe, upon seeing plainly that he was resolved to do nothing,
had asked leave to return, as well as Lord Charles Hay.
We have a great expedition preparing, and which will soon be ready to
sail from the Isle of Wight; fifteen thousand good troops, eighty
battering cannons, besides mortars, and every other thing in abundance,
fit for either battle or siege. Lord Anson desired, and is appointed,
to command the fleet employed upon this expedition; a proof that it is
not a trifling one. Conjectures concerning its destination are infinite;
and the most ignorant are, as usual, the boldest conjecturers. If I form
any conjectures, I keep them to myself, not to be disproved by the event;
but, in truth, I form none: I might have known, but would not.
Everything seems to tend to a peace next winter: our success in America,
which is hardly doubtful, and the King of Prussia's in Germany, which is
as little so, will make France (already sick of the expense of the war)
very tractable for a peace. I heartily wish it: for though people's
heads are half turned with the King of Prussia's success, and will be
quite turned, if we have any in America, or at sea, a moderate peace will
suit us better than this immoderate war of twelve millions a year.
Domestic affairs go just as they did; the Duke of Newcastle and Mr. Pitt
jog on like man and wife; that is, seldom agreeing, often quarreling; but
by mutual interest, upon the whole, not parting. The latter, I am told,
gains ground in the closet; though he still keeps his strength in the
House, and his popularity in the public; or, perhaps, because of that.
Do you hold your resolution of visiting your dominions of Bremen and
Lubeck this summer? If you do, pray take the trouble of informing
yourself correctly of the several constitutions and customs of those
places, and of the present state of the federal union of the Hanseatic
towns: it will do you no harm, nor cost you much trouble; and it is so
much clear gain on the side of useful knowledge.
I am now settled at Blackheath for the summer; where unseasonable frost
and snow, and hot and parching east winds, have destroyed all my fruit,
and almost my fruit-trees. I vegetate myself little better than they do;
I crawl about on foot and on horseback; read a great deal, and write a
little; and am very much yours.
BLACKHEATH, May 30, 1758.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have no letter from you to answer, so this goes to you
unprovoked. But 'a propos' of letters; you have had great honor done
you, in a letter from a fair and royal hand, no less than that of her
Royal Highness the Princess of Cassel; she has written your panegyric to
her sister, Princess Amelia, who sent me a compliment upon it. This has
likewise done you no harm with the King, who said gracious things upon
that occasion. I suppose you had for her Royal Highness those attentions
which I wish to God you would have, in due proportions, for everybody.
You see, by this instance, the effects of them; they are always repaid
with interest. I am more confirmed by this in thinking, that, if you can
conveniently, you should ask leave to go for a week to Cassel, to return
your thanks for all favors received.
I cannot expound to myself the conduct of the Russians. There must be a
trick in their not marching with more expedition. They have either had a
sop from the King of Prussia, or they want an animating dram from France
and Austria. The King of Prussia's conduct always explains itself by the
events; and, within a very few days, we must certainly hear of some very
great stroke from that quarter. I think I never in my life remember a
period of time so big with great events as the present: within two months
the fate of the House of Austria will probably be decided: within the
same space of time, we shall certainly hear of the taking of Cape Breton,
and of our army's proceeding to Quebec within a few days we shall know
the good or ill success of our great expedition; for it is sailed; and it
cannot be long before we shall hear something of the Prince of
Brunswick's operations, from whom I also expect good things. If all
these things turn out, as there is good reason to believe they will, we
may once, in our turn, dictate a reasonable peace to France, who now pays
seventy per cent insurance upon its trade, and seven per cent for all the
money raised for the service of the year.
Comte Bothmar has got the small-pox, and of a bad kind. Kniphausen
diverts himself much here; he sees all places and all people, and is
ubiquity itself. Mitchel, who was much threatened, stays at last at
Berlin, at the earnest request of the King of Prussia. Lady is safely
delivered of a son, to the great joy of that noble family. The
expression, of a woman's having brought her husband a son, seems to be
a proper and cautious one; for it is never said from whence.
I was going to ask you how you passed your time now at Hamburg, since it
is no longer the seat of strangers and of business; but I will not,
because I know it is to no purpose. You have sworn not to tell me.
Sir William Stanhope told me that you promised to send him some Old Hock
from Hamburg, and so you did not. If you meet with any superlatively
good, and not else, pray send over a 'foudre' of it, and write to him.
I shall have a share in it. But unless you find some, either at Hamburg
or at Bremen, uncommonly and almost miracuously good, do not send any.
BLACKHEATH, June 13, 1758.
MY DEAR FRIEND: The secret is out: St. Malo is the devoted place.
Our troops began to land at the Bay of Cancale the 5th, without any
opposition. We have no further accounts yet, but expect some every
moment. By the plan of it, which I have seen, it is by no means a weak
place; and I fear there will be many hats to be disposed of, before it is
taken. There are in the port above thirty privateers; about sixteen of
their own, and about as many taken from us.
Now for Africa, where we have had great success. The French have been
driven out of all their forts and settlements upon the Gum coast, and
upon the river Senegal. They had been many years in possession of them,
and by them annoyed our African trade exceedingly; which, by the way,
'toute proportion gardee', is the most lucrative trade we have. The
present booty is likewise very considerable, in gold dust, and gum
Seneca; which is very valuable, by being a very necessary commodity,
for all our stained and printed linens.
Now for America. The least sanguine people here expect, the latter end
of this month or the beginning of the next, to have the account of the
taking of Cape Breton, and of all the forts with hard names in North
Captain Clive has long since settled Asia to our satisfaction; so that
three parts of the world look very favorable for us. Europe, I submit to
the care of the King of Prussia and Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick; and I
think they will give a good account of it. France is out of luck, and
out of courage; and will, I hope, be enough out of spirits to submit to a
reasonable peace. By reasonable, I mean what all people call reasonable
in their own case; an advantageous one for us.
I have set all right with Munchausen; who would not own that he was at
all offended, and said, as you do, that his daughter did not stay long
enough, nor appear enough at Hamburg, for you possibly to know that she
was there. But people are always ashamed to own the little weaknesses of
self-love, which, however, all people feel more or less. The excuse, I
I will send you your quadrille tables by the first opportunity, consigned
to the care of Mr. Mathias here. 'Felices faustaeque sint! May you win
upon them, when you play with men; and when you play with women, either
win or know why you lose.
Miss ------ marries Mr.------- next week. WHO PROFFERS LOVE, PROFFERS
DEATH, says Weller to a dwarf: in my opinion, the conclusion must
instantly choak the little lady. Admiral marries Lady; there the danger,
if danger is, will be on the other side. The lady has wanted a man so
long, that she now compounds for half a one. Half a loaf----
I have been worse since my last letter; but am now, I think, recovering;
'tant va la cruche a l'eau';--and I have been there very often.
Good-night. I am faithfully and truly yours.
BLACKHEATH, June 27, 1758.
MY DEAR FRIEND: You either have received already, or will very soon
receive, a little case from Amsterdam, directed to you at Hamburg. It is
for Princess Ameba, the King of Prussia's sister, and contains some books
which she desired Sir Charles Hotham to procure her from England, so long
ago as when he was at Berlin: he sent for them immediately; but, by I do
not know what puzzle, they were recommended to the care of Mr. Selwyn, at
Paris, who took such care of them, that he kept them near three years in
his warehouse, and has at last sent them to Amsterdam, from whence they
are sent to you. If the books are good for anything, they must be
considerably improved, by having seen so much of the world; but, as I
believe they are English books, perhaps they may, like English travelers,
have seen nobody, but the several bankers to whom they were consigned: be
that as it will, I think you had best deliver them to Monsieur Hecht, the
Prussian Minister at Hamburg, to forward to her Royal Highness, with a
respectful compliment from you, which you will, no doubt, turn in the
best manner, and 'selon le bon ton de la parfaitement bonne compagnie'.
You have already seen, in the papers, all the particulars of our St.
Malo's expedition, so I say no more of that; only that Mr. Pitt's friends
exult in the destruction of three French ships of war, and one hundred
and thirty privateers and trading ships; and affirm that it stopped the
march of threescore thousand men, who were going to join the Comte de
Clermont's army. On the other hand, Mr. Fox and company call it breaking
windows with guineas; and apply the fable of the Mountain and the Mouse.
The next object of our fleet was to be the bombarding of Granville, which
is the great 'entrepot' of their Newfoundland fishery, and will be a
considerable loss to them in that branch of their trade. These, you will
perhaps say, are no great matters, and I say so too; but, at least, they
are signs of life, which we had not given them for many years before;
and will show the French, by our invading them, that we do not fear their
invading us. Were those invasions, in fishing-boats from Dunkirk, so
terrible as they were artfully represented to be, the French would have
had an opportunity of executing them, while our fleet, and such a
considerable part of our army, were employed upon their coast. BUT MY
LORD LIGONIER DOES NOT WANT AN ARMY AT HOME.
The parliament is prorogued by a most gracious speech neither by nor from
his Majesty, who was TOO ILL to go to the House; the Lords and Gentlemen
are, consequently, most of them, gone to their several counties, to do
(to be sure) all the good that is recommended to them in the speech.
London, I am told, is now very empty, for I cannot say so from knowledge.
I vegetate wholly here. I walk and read a great deal, ride and scribble
a little, according as my lead allows, or my spirits prompt; to write
anything tolerable, the mind must be in a natural, proper disposition;
provocatives, in that case, as well as in another, will only produce
miserable, abortive performances.
Now that you have (as I suppose) full leisure enough, I wish you would
give yourself the trouble, or rather pleasure, to do what I hinted to you
some time ago; that is, to write short memoirs of those affairs which
have either gone through your hands, or that have come to your certain
knowledge, from the inglorious battle of Hastenbeck, to the still more
scandalous Treaty of Neutrality. Connect, at least, if it be by ever so
short notes, the pieces and letters which you must necessarily have in
your hands, and throw in the authentic anecdotes that you have probably
heard. You will be glad when you have done it: and the reviving past
ideas, in some order and method, will be an infinite comfort to you
hereafter. I have a thousand times regretted not having done so; it is
at present too late for me to begin; this is the right time for you, and
your life is likely to be a busy one. Would young men avail themselves
of the advice and experience of their old friends, they would find the
utility in their youth, and the comfort of it in their more advanced age;
but they seldom consider that, and you, less than anybody I ever knew.
May you soon grow wiser! Adieu.
BLACKHEATH, June 30, 1758.
MY DEAR FRIEND: This letter follows my last very close; but I received
yours of the 15th in the short interval. You did very well not to buy
any Rhenish, at the exorbitant price you mention, without further
directions; for both my brother and I think the money better than the
wine, be the wine ever so good. We will content our selves with our
stock in hand of humble Rhenish, of about three shillings a-bottle.
However, 'pour la rarity du fait, I will lay out twelve ducats', for
twelve bottles of the wine of 1665, by way of an eventual cordial, if you
can obtain a 'senatus consultum' for it. I am in no hurry for it, so
send it me only when you can conveniently; well packed up 's'entend'.
You will, I dare say, have leave to go to Cassel; and if you do go, you
will perhaps think it reasonable, that I, who was the adviser of the
journey, should pay the expense of it. I think so too; and therefore, if
you go, I will remit the L100 which you have calculated it at. You will
find the House of Cassel the house of gladness; for Hanau is already, or
must be soon, delivered of its French guests.
The Prince of Brunswick's victory is, by all the skillful, thought a
'chef d'oeuvre', worthy of Turenne, Conde, or the most illustrious human
butchers. The French behaved better than at Rosbach, especially the
Carabiniers Royaux, who could not be 'entames'. I wish the siege of
Olmutz well over, and a victory after it; and that, with good news from
America, which I think there is no reason to doubt of, must procure us a
good peace at the end of the year. The Prince of Prussia's death is no
public misfortune: there was a jealousy and alienation between the King
and him, which could never have been made up between the possessor of the
crown and the next heir to it. He will make something of his nephew,
's'il est du bois don't on en fait'. He is young enough to forgive, and
to be forgiven, the possession and the expectative, at least for some
Adieu! I am UNWELL, but affectionately yours.
BLACKHEATH, July 18, 1758.
MY DEAR FRIEND: Yesterday I received your letter of the 4th; and my last
will have informed you that I had received your former, concerning the
Rhenish, about which I gave you instructions. If 'vinum Mosellanum est
omni tempore sanum', as the Chapter of Treves asserts, what must this
'vinum Rhenanum' be, from its superior strength and age? It must be the
Captain Howe is to sail forthwith somewhere or another, with about 8,000
land forces on board him; and what is much more, Edward the White Prince.
It is yet a secret where they are going; but I think it is no secret,
that what 16,000 men and a great fleet could not do, will not be done by
8,000 men and a much smaller fleet. About 8,500 horse, foot, and
dragoons, are embarking, as fast as they can, for Embden, to reinforce
Prince Ferdinand's army; late and few, to be sure, but still better than
never, and none. The operations in Moravia go on slowly, and Olmutz
seems to be a tough piece of work; I own I begin to be in pain for the
King of Prussia; for the Russians now march in earnest, and Marechal
Dann's army is certainly superior in number to his. God send him a good
You have a Danish army now in your neighborhood, and they say a very fine
one; I presume you will go to see it, and, if you do, I would advise you
to go when the Danish Monarch comes to review it himself; 'pour prendre
langue de ce Seigneur'. The rulers of the earth are all worth knowing;
they suggest moral reflections: and the respect that one naturally has
for God's vicegerents here on earth, is greatly increased by acquaintance
Your card-tables are gone, and they inclose some suits of clothes, and
some of these clothes inclose a letter.
Your friend Lady ------ is gone into the country with her Lord, to
negotiate, coolly and at leisure, their intended separation. My Lady
insists upon my Lord's dismissing the ------, as ruinous to his fortune;
my Lord insists, in his turn, upon my Lady's dismissing Lord ----------;
my Lady replies, that that is unreasonable, since Lord creates no expense
to the family, but rather the contrary. My Lord confesses that there is
some weight in this argument: but then pleads sentiment: my Lady says, a
fiddlestick for sentiment, after having been married so long. How this
matter will end, is in the womb of time, 'nam fuit ante Helenam'.
You did very well to write a congratulatory letter to Prince Ferdinand;
such attentions are always right, and always repaid in some way or other.
I am glad you have connected your negotiations and anecdotes; and, I
hope, not with your usual laconism. Adieu! Yours.
BLACKHEATH, August 1, 1758
MY DEAR FRIEND: I think the Court of Cassel is more likely to make you a
second visit at Hamburg, than you are to return theirs at Cassel; and
therefore, till that matter is clearer, I shall not mention it to Lord
By the King of Prussia's disappointment in Moravia, by the approach of
the Russians, and the intended march of Monsieur de Soubize to Hanover,
the waters seem to me to be as much troubled as ever. 'Je vois tres noir
actuellement'; I see swarms of Austrians, French, Imperialists, Swedes,
and Russians, in all near four hundred thousand men, surrounding the King
of Prussia and Prince Ferdinand, who have about a third of that number.
Hitherto they have only buzzed, but now I fear they will sting.
The immediate danger of this country is being drowned; for it has not
ceased raining these three months, and withal is extremely cold. This
neither agrees with me in itself, nor in its consequences; for it hinders
me from taking my necessary exercise, and makes me very unwell. As my
head is always the part offending, and is so at present, I will not do,
like many writers, write without a head; so adieu.
BLACKHEATH, August 29, 1758.
MY DEAR FRIEND: Your secretary's last letter brought me the good news
that the fever had left you, and I will believe that it has: but a
postscript to it, of only two lines, under your own hand, would have
convinced me more effectually of your recovery. An intermitting fever,
in the intervals of the paroxysms, would surely have allowed you to have
written a few lines with your own hand, to tell me how you were; and till
I receive a letter (as short as you please) from you yourself, I shall
doubt of the exact truth of any other accounts.
I send you no news, because I have none; Cape Breton, Cherbourg, etc.,
are now old stories; we expect a new one soon from Commodore Howe, but
from whence we know not. From Germany we hope for good news: I confess I
do not, I only wish it. The King of Prussia is marched to fight the
Russians, and I believe will beat them, if they stand; but what then?
What shall he do next, with the three hundred and fourscore thousand men
now actually at work upon him? He will do all that man can do, but at
last 'il faut succomber'.
Remember to think yourself less well than you are, in order to be quite
so; be very regular, rather longer than you need; and then there will be
no danger of a relapse. God bless you.
BLACKHEATH, September 5, 1758
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received, with great pleasure, your letter of the 22d
August; for, by not having a line from you in your secretary's two
letters, I suspect that you were worse than he cared to tell me; and so
far I was in the right, that your fever was more malignant than
intermitting ones generally are, which seldom confines people to their
bed, or at most, only the days of the paroxysms. Now that, thank God,
you are well again, though weak, do not be in too much haste to be better
and stronger: leave that to nature, which, at your age, will restore both
your health and strength as soon as she should. Live cool for a time,
and rather low, instead of taking what they call heartening things: Your
manner of making presents is noble, 'et sent la grandeur d'ame d'un preux
Chevalier'. You depreciate their value to prevent any returns; for it is
impossible that a wine which has counted so many Syndicks, that can only
be delivered by a 'senatus consultum', and is the PANACEA Of the North,
should be sold for a ducat a bottle. The 'sylphium' of the Romans, which
was stored up in the public magazines, and only distributed by order of
the magistrate, I dare say, cost more; so that I am convinced, your
present is much more valuable than you would make it.
Here I am interrupted, by receiving your letter of the 25th past. I am
glad that you are able to undertake your journey to Bremen: the motion,
the air, the new scene, the everything, will do you good, provided you
manage yourself discreetly.
Your bill for fifty pounds shall certainly be accepted and paid; but, as
in conscience I think fifty pounds is too little, for seeing a live
Landgrave, and especially at Bremen, which this whole nation knows to be
a very dear place, I shall, with your leave, add fifty more to it. By
the way, when you see the Princess Royal of Cassel, be sure to tell her
how sensible you are of the favorable and too partial testimony, which
you know she wrote of you to Princess Amelia.
The King of Prussia has had the victory, which you in some measure
foretold; and as he has taken 'la caisse militaire', I presume 'Messieurs
les Russes sont hors de combat pour cette campagne'; for 'point d'argent,
point de Suisse', is not truer of the laudable Helvetic body, than 'point
d'argent, point de Russe', is of the savages of the Two Russias, not even
excepting the Autocratrice of them both. Serbelloni, I believe, stands
next in his Prussian Majesty's list to be beaten; that is, if he will
stand; as the Prince de Soubize does in Prince Ferdinand's, upon the same
condition. If both these things happen, which is by no means improbable,
we may hope for a tolerable peace this winter; for, 'au bout du compte',
the King of Prussia cannot hold out another year; and therefore he should
make the best of these favorable events, by way negotiation.
I think I have written a great deal, with an actual giddiness of head
upon me. So adieu.
I am glad you have received my letter of the Ides of July.
BLACKHEATH, September 8, 1758.
MY DEAR FRIEND: This letter shall be short, being only an explanatory
note upon my last; for I am not learned enough, nor yet dull enough, to
make my comment much longer than my text. I told you then, in my former
letter, that, with your leave (which I will suppose granted), I would add
fifty pounds to your draught for that sum; now, lest you should
misunderstand this, and wait for the remittance of that additional fifty
from hence, know then my meaning was, that you should likewise draw upon
me for it when you please; which I presume, will be more convenient to
Let the pedants, whose business it is to believe lies, or the poets,
whose trade it is to invent them, match the King of Prussia With a hero
in ancient or modern story, if they can. He disgraces history, and makes
one give some credit to romances. Calprenede's Juba does not now seem so
absurd as formerly.
I have been extremely ill this whole summer; but am now something better.
However, I perceive, 'que l'esprit et le corps baissent'; the former is
the last thing that anybody will tell me; or own when I tell it them; but
I know it is true. Adieu.
BLACKHEATH, September 22, 1758
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have received no letter from you since you left
Hamburg; I presume that you are perfectly recovered, but it might not
have been improper to have told me so. I am very far from being
recovered; on the contrary, I am worse and worse, weaker and weaker every
day; for which reason I shall leave this place next Monday, and set out
for Bath a few days afterward. I should not take all this trouble merely
to prolong the fag end of a life, from which I can expect no pleasure,
and others no utility; but the cure, or at least the mitigation, of those
physical ills which make that life a load while it does last, is worth
any trouble and attention.
We are come off but scurvily from our second attempt upon St. Malo; it is
our last for this season; and, in my mind, should be our last forever,
unless we were to send so great a sea and land force as to give us a
moral certainty of taking some place of great importance, such as Brest,
Rochefort, or Toulon.
Monsieur Munchausen embarked yesterday, as he said, for Prince
Ferdinand's army; but as it is not generally thought that his military
skill can be of any great use to that prince, people conjecture that his
business must be of a very different nature, and suspect separate
negotiations, neutralities, and what not. Kniphausen does not relish it
in the least, and is by no means satisfied with the reasons that have
been given him for it. Before he can arrive there, I reckon that
something decisive will have passed in Saxony; if to the disadvantage of
the King of Prussia, he is crushed; but if, on the contrary, he should
get a complete victory (and he does not get half victories) over the
Austrians, the winter may probably produce him and us a reasonable peace.
I look upon Russia as 'hors de combat' for some time; France is certainly
sick of the war; under an unambitious King, and an incapable Ministry, if
there is one at all: and, unassisted by those two powers, the Empress
Queen had better be quiet. Were any other man in the situation of the
King of Prussia, I should not hesitate to pronounce him ruined; but he is
such a prodigy of a man, that I will only say, I fear he will be ruined.
It is by this time decided.
Your Cassel court at Bremen is, I doubt, not very splendid; money must be
wanting: but, however, I dare say their table is always good, for the
Landgrave is a gourmand; and as you are domestic there, you may be so
too, and recruit your loss of flesh from your fever: but do not recruit
too fast. Adieu.
LONDON, September 26, 1758
MY DEAR FRIEND: I am sorry to find that you had a return of your fever;
but to say the truth, you in some measure deserved it, for not carrying
Dr. Middleton's bark and prescription with you. I foresaw that you would
think yourself cured too soon, and gave you warning of it; but BYGONES
are BYGONES, as Chartres, when he was dying, said of his sins; let us
look forward. You did very prudently to return to Hamburg, to good bark,
and, I hope, a good physician. Make all sure there before you stir from
thence, notwithstanding the requests or commands of all the princesses in
Europe: I mean a month at least, taking the bark even to supererogation,
that is, some time longer than Dr. Middleton requires; for, I presume,
you are got over your childishness about tastes, and are sensible that
your health deserves more attention than your palate. When you shall be
thus re-established, I approve of your returning to Bremen; and indeed
you cannot well avoid it, both with regard to your promise, and to the
distinction with which you have been received by the Cassel family.
Now to the other part of your letter. Lord Holdernesse has been
extremely civil to you, in sending you, all under his own hand, such
obliging offers of his service. The hint is plain, that he will (in case
you desire it) procure you leave to come home for some time; so that the
single question is, whether you should desire it or not, NOW. It will be
two months before you can possibly undertake the journey, whether by sea
or by land, and either way it would be a troublesome and dangerous one
for a convalescent in the rigor of the month of November; you could drink
no mineral waters here in that season, nor are any mineral waters proper
in your case, being all of them heating, except Seltzer's; then,
what would do you more harm than all medicines could do you good, would
be the pestilential vapors of the House of Commons, in long and crowded
days, of which there will probably be many this session; where your
attendance, if here, will necessarily be required. I compare St.
Stephen's Chapel, upon those days, to 'la Grotta del Cane'.
Whatever may be the fate of the war now, negotiations will certainly be
stirring all the winter, and of those, the northern ones, you are
sensible, are not the least important; in these, if at Hamburg, you will
probably have your share, and perhaps a meritorious one. Upon the whole,
therefore, I would advise you to write a very civil letter to Lord
Holdernesse; and to tell him that though you cannot hope to be of any
use to his Majesty's affairs anywhere, yet, in the present unsettled
state of the North, it is possible that unforeseen accidents may throw in
your way to be of some little service, and that you would not willingly
be out of the way of those accidents; but that you shall be most
extremely obliged to his Lordship, if he will procure you his Majesty's
gracious permission to return for a few months in the spring, when
probably affairs will be more settled one way or another. When things
tend nearer to a settlement, and that Germany, from the want of money or
men, or both, breathes peace more than war, I shall solicit Burrish's
commission for you, which is one of the most agreeable ones in his
Majesty's gift; and I shall by no means despair of success. Now I have
given you my opinion upon this affair, which does not make a difference
of above three months, or four at most, I would not be understood to mean
to force your own, if it should happen to be different from mine; but
mine, I think, is more both for your health and your interest. However,
do as you please: may you in this, and everything else, do for the best!
So God bless you!
BATH, October 18, 1758.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received by the same post your two letters of the 29th
past, and of the 3d instant.
The last tells me that you are perfectly recovered; and your resolution
of going to Bremen in three or four days proves it; for surely you would
not undertake that journey a second time, and at this season of the year,
without feeling your health solidly restored; however, in all events,
I hope you have taken a provision of good bark with you. I think your
attention to her Royal Highness may be of use to you here; and indeed all
attentions, to all sorts, of people, are always repaid in some way or
other; though real obligations are not. For instance, Lord Titchfield,
who has been with you at Hamburg, has written an account to the Duke and
Duchess of Portland, who are here, of the civilities you showed him, with
which he is much pleased, and they delighted. At this rate, if you do
not take care, you will get the unmanly reputation of a well-bred man;
and your countryman, John Trott, will disown you.
I have received, and tasted of your present; which is a 'tres grand vin',
but more cordial to the stomach than pleasant to the palate. I keep it
as a physic, only to take occasionally, in little disorders of my
stomach; and in those cases, I believe it is wholsomer than stronger
I have been now here a fortnight; and though I am rather better than when
I came, I am still far from well.
My head is giddier than becomes a head of my age; and my stomach has not
recovered its retentive faculty. Leaning forward, particularly to write,
does not at present agree with, Yours.
BATH, October 28, 1758.
MY DEAR FRIEND: Your letter has quieted my alarms; for I find by it, that
you are as well recovered as you could be in so short a time. It is your
business now to keep yourself well by scrupulously following Dr.
Middleton's directions. He seems to be a rational and knowing man. Soap
and steel are, unquestionably, the proper medicines for your case; but as
they are alteratives, you must take them for a very long time, six months
at least; and then drink chalybeate waters. I am fully persuaded, that
this was your original complaint in Carniola, which those ignorant
physicians called, in their jargon, 'Arthritis vaga', and treated as
such. But now that the true cause of your illness is discovered,
I flatter myself that, with time and patience on your part, you will be
radically cured; but, I repeat it again, it must be by a long and
uninterrupted course of those alterative medicines above mentioned. They
have no taste; but if they had a bad one, I will not now suppose you such
a child, as to let the frowardness of your palate interfere in the least
with the recovery or enjoyment of health. The latter deserves the utmost
attention of the most rational man; the former is the only proper object
of the care of a dainty, frivolous woman.
The run of luck, which some time ago we were in, seems now to be turned
against us. Oberg is completely routed; his Prussian Majesty was
surprised (which I am surprised at), and had rather the worst of it.
I am in some pain for Prince Ferdinand, as I take it for granted that the
detachment from Marechal de Contade's army, which enabled Prince Soubize
to beat Oberg, will immediately return to the grand army, and then it
will be infinitely superior.
Nor do I see where Prince Ferdinand can take his winter quarters, unless
he retires to Hanover; and that I do not take to be at present the land
of Canaan. Our second expedition to St. Malo I cannot call so much an
unlucky, as an ill-conducted one; as was also Abercrombie's affair in
America. 'Mais il n'y a pas de petite perte qui revient souvent': and
all these accidents put together make a considerable sum total.
I have found so little good by these waters, that I do not intend to stay
here above a week longer; and then remove my crazy body to London, which
is the most convenient place either to live or die in.
I cannot expect active health anywhere; you may, with common care and
prudence, effect it everywhere; and God grant that you may have it!
LONDON, November 21, 1758.
MY DEAR FRIEND: You did well to think of Prince Ferdinand's ribband,
which I confess I did not; and I am glad to find you thinking so far
beforehand. It would be a pretty commission, and I will 'accingere me'
to procure it to you. The only competition I fear, is that of General
Yorke, in case Prince Ferdinand should pass any time with his brother at
The Hague, which is not unlikely, since he cannot go to Brunswick to his
eldest brother, upon account of their simulated quarrel.
I fear the piece is at an end with the King of Prussia, and he may say
'ilicet'; I am sure he may personally say 'plaudite'. Warm work is
expected this session of parliament, about continent and no continent;
some think Mr. Pitt too continent, others too little so; but a little
time, as the newspapers most prudently and truly observe, will clear up
The King has been ill; but his illness is terminated in a good fit of the
gout, with which he is still confined. It was generally thought that he
would have died, and for a very good reason; for the oldest lion in the
Tower, much about the King's age, died a fortnight ago. This
extravagancy, I can assure you, was believed by many above peuple. So
wild and capricious is the human mind!
Take care of your health as much as you can; for, To BE, or NOT To BE, is
a question of much less importance, in my mind, than to be or not to be
LONDON, December 15, 1758.
MY DEAR FRIEND: It is a great while since I heard from you, but I hope
that good, not ill health, has been the occasion of this silence: I will
suppose you have been, or are still at Bremen, and engrossed by your
Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick is most certainly to have the Garter, and I
think I have secured you the honor of putting it on. When I say SECURED,
I mean it in the sense in which that word should always be understood at
courts, and that is, INSECURELY; I have a promise, but that is not
'caution bourgeoise'. In all events, do not mention it to any mortal,
because there is always a degree of ridicule that attends a
disappointment, though often very unjustly, if the expectation was
reasonably grounded; however, it is certainly most prudent not to
communicate, prematurely, one's hopes or one's fears. I cannot tell you
when Prince Ferdinand will have it; though there are so many candidates
for the other two vacant Garters, that I believe he will have his soon,
and by himself; the others must wait till a third, or rather a fourth
vacancy. Lord Rockingham and Lord Holdernesse are secure. Lord Temple
pushes strongly, but, I believe, is not secure. This commission for
dubbing a knight, and so distinguished a one, will be a very agreeable
and creditable one for you, 'et il faut vous en acquitter galamment'.
In the days of ancient chivalry, people were very nice who they would be
knighted by and, if I do not mistake, Francis the First would only be
knighted by the Chevalier Bayard, 'qui etoit preux Chevalier et sans
reproche'; and no doubt but it will be recorded, 'dans les archives de la
Maison de Brunswick', that Prince Ferdinand received the honor of
knighthood from your hands.
The estimates for the expenses of the year 1759 are made up; I have seen
them; and what do you think they amount to? No less than twelve millions
three hundred thousand pounds: a most incredible sum, and yet already
subscribed, and even more offered! The unanimity in the House of
Commons, in voting such a sum, and such forces, both by sea and land, is
not the less astonishing. This is Mr. Pitt's doing, AND IT IS MARVELOUS
IN OUR EYES.
The King of Prussia has nothing more to do this year; and, the next, he
must begin where he has left off. I wish he would employ this winter in
concluding a separate peace with the Elector of Saxony; which would give
him more elbowroom to act against France and the Queen of Hungary, and
put an end at once to the proceedings of the Diet, and the army of the
empire; for then no estate of the empire would be invaded by a co-estate,
and France, the faithful and disinterested guarantee of the Treaty of
Westphalia, would have no pretense to continue its armies there.
I should think that his Polish Majesty, and his Governor, Comte Bruhl,
must be pretty weary of being fugitives in Poland, where they are hated,
and of being ravaged in Saxony. This reverie of mine, I hope will be
tried, and I wish it may succeed. Good-night, and God bless you!
ETEXT EDITORS BOOKMARKS:
Am still unwell; I cannot help it
Apt to make them think themselves more necessary than they are
BUT OF THIS EVERY MAN WILL BELIEVE AS HE THINKS PROPER
Conjectures pass upon us for truths
Despair of your ever being, SOMEBODY
Enemies as if they may one day become one's friends
Have I employed my time, or have I squandered it?
Home, be it ever so homely
Jog on like man and wife; that is, seldom agreeing
Less one has to do, the less time one finds to do it in
Many things which seem extremely probable are not true
More one works, the more willing one is to work
Most ignorant are, as usual, the boldest conjecturers
Nipped in the bud
No great regard for human testimony
Not to communicate, prematurely, one's hopes or one's fears
Person to you whom I am very indifferent about, I mean myself
Something must be said, but that something must be nothing
Sow jealousies among one's enemies
Think to atone by zeal for their want of merit and importance
Think yourself less well than you are, in order to be quite so
What have I done to-day?
Will pay very dear for the quarrels and ambition of a few
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