Letters to His Son, 1766-71
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
LONDON, February 11, 1766
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received two days ago your letter of the 25th past;
and your former, which you mention in it, but ten days ago; this may
easily be accounted for from the badness of the weather, and consequently
of the roads. I hardly remember so severe a win ter; it has occasioned
many illnesses here. I am sure it pinched my crazy carcass so much that,
about three weeks ago, I was obliged to be let blood twice in four days,
which I found afterward was very necessary, by the relief it gave to my
head and to the rheumatic pains in my limbs; and from the execrable kind
of blood which I lost.
Perhaps you expect from me a particular account of the present state of
affairs here; but if you do you will be disappointed; for no man living
(and I still less than anyone) knows what it is; it varies, not only
daily, but hourly.
Most people think, and I among the rest, that the date of the present
Ministers is pretty near out; but how soon we are to have a new style,
God knows. This, however, is certain, that the Ministers had a contested
election in the House of Commons, and got it but by eleven votes; too
small a majority to carry anything; the next day they lost a question in
the House of Lords, by three. The question in the House of Lords was, to
enforce the execution of the Stamp-act in the colonies 'vi et armis'.
What conclusions you will draw from these premises, I do not know; but I
protest I draw none; but only stare at the present undecipherable state
of affairs, which, in fifty years' experience, I have never seen anything
like. The Stamp-act has proved a most pernicious measure; for, whether
it is repealed or not, which is still very doubtful, it has given such
terror to the Americans, that our trade with them will not be, for some
years, what it used to be; and great numbers of our manufacturers at home
will be turned a starving for want of that employment which our very
profitable trade to America found them: and hunger is always the cause of
tumults and sedition.
As you have escaped a fit of the gout in this severe cold weather, it is
to be hoped you may be entirely free from it, till next winter at least.
P. S. Lord having parted with his wife, now, keeps another w---e, at a
great expense. I fear he is totally undone.
LONDON, March 17, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: You wrong me in thinking me in your debt; for I never
receive a letter of yours, but I answer it by the next post, or the next
but one, at furthest: but I can easily conceive that my two last letters
to you may have been drowned or frozen in their way; for portents and
prodigies of frost, snow, and inundations, have been so frequent this
winter, that they have almost lost their names.
You tell me that you are going to the baths of BADEN; but that puzzles me
a little, so I recommend this letter to the care of Mr. Larpent, to
forward to you; for Baden I take to be the general German word for baths,
and the particular ones are distinguished by some epithet, as Weissbaden,
Carlsbaden, etc. I hope they are not cold baths, which I have a very ill
opinion of, in all arthritic or rheumatic cases; and your case I take to
be a compound of both, but rather more of the latter.
You will probably wonder that I tell you nothing of public matters; upon
which I shall be as secret as Hotspur's gentle Kate, who would not tell
what she did not know; but what is singular, nobody seems to know any
more of them than I do. People gape, stare, conjecture, and refine.
Changes of the Ministry, or in the Ministry at least, are daily reported
and foretold, but of what kind, God only knows. It is also very doubtful
whether Mr. Pitt will come into the Administration or not; the two
present Secretaries are extremely desirous that he should; but the others
think of the horse that called the man to its assistance. I will say
nothing to you about American affairs, because I have not pens, ink, or
paper enough to give you an intelligible account of them. They have been
the subjects of warm and acrimonious debates, both in the Lords and
Commons, and in all companies.
The repeal of the Stamp-act is at last carried through. I am glad of it,
and gave my proxy for it, because I saw many more inconveniences from the
enforcing than from the repealing it.
Colonel Browne was with me the other day, and assured me that he left you
very well. He said he saw you at Spa, but I did not remember him; though
I remember his two brothers, the Colonel and the ravisher, very well.
Your Saxon colonel has the brogue exceedingly. Present my respects to
Count Flemming; I am very sorry for the Countess's illness; she was a
most well-bred woman.
You would hardly think that I gave a dinner to the Prince of Brunswick,
your old acquaintance. I glad it is over; but I could not avoid it.
'Il m'avait tabli de politesses'. God bless you!
BLACKHEATH, June 13, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received yesterday your letter of the 30th past.
I waited with impatience for it, not having received one from you in six
weeks; nor your mother neither, who began to be very sure that you were
dead, if not buried. You should write to her once a week, or at least
once a-fortnight; for women make no allowance either for business or
laziness; whereas I can, by experience, make allowances for both:
however, I wish you would generally write to me once a fortnight.
Last week I paid my midsummer offering, of five hundred pounds, to Mr.
Larpent, for your use, as I suppose he has informed you. I am punctual,
you must allow.
What account shall I give you of ministerial affairs here? I protest I
do not know: your own description of them is as exact a one as any I,
who am upon the place, can give you. It is a total dislocation and
'derangement'; consequently a total inefficiency. When the Duke of
Grafton quitted the seals, he gave that very reason for it, in a speech
in the House of Lords: he declared, "that he had no objection to the
persons or the measures of the present Ministers; but that he thought
they wanted strength and efficiency to carry on proper measures with
success; and that he knew but one man MEANING, AS YOU WILL EASILY
SUPPOSE, MR. PITT who could give them strength and solidity; that, under
this person, he should be willing to serve in any capacity, not only as a
General Officer, but as a pioneer; and would take up a spade and a
mattock." When he quitted the seals, they were offered first to Lord
Egmont, then to Lord Hardwicke; who both declined them, probably for the
same reasons that made the Duke of Grafton resign them; but after their
going a-begging for some time, the Duke of ------- begged them, and has
them 'faute de mieux'. Lord Mountstuart was never thought of for Vienna,
where Lord Stormont returns in three months; the former is going to be
married to one of the Miss Windsors, a great fortune. To tell you the
speculations, the reasonings, and the conjectures, either of the
uninformed, or even of the best-informed public, upon the present
wonderful situation of affairs, would take up much more time and paper
than either you or I can afford, though we have neither of us a great
deal of business at present.
I am in as good health as I could reasonably expect, at my age, and with
my shattered carcass; that is, from the waist upward; but downward it is
not the same: for my limbs retain that stiffness and debility of my long
rheumatism; I cannot walk half an hour at a time. As the autumn, and
still more as the winter approaches, take care to keep yourself very
warm, especially your legs and feet.
Lady Chesterfield sends you her compliments, and triumphs in the success
of her plaster. God bless you!
BLACKHEATH, July 11, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: You are a happy mortal, to have your time thus employed
between the great and the fair; I hope you do the honors of your country
to the latter. The Emperor, by your account, seems to be very well for
an emperor; who, by being above the other monarchs in Europe, may justly
be supposed to have had a proportionably worse education. I find, by
your account of him, that he has been trained up to homicide, the only
science in which princes are ever instructed; and with good reason, as
their greatness and glory singly depend upon the numbers of their fellow-
creatures which their ambition exterminates. If a sovereign should, by
great accident, deviate into moderation, justice, and clemency, what a
contemptible figure would he make in the catalogue of princes! I have
always owned a great regard for King Log. From the interview at Torgaw,
between the two monarchs, they will be either a great deal better or
worse together; but I think rather the latter; for our namesake, Philip
de Co mines, observes, that he never knew any good come from
l'abouchement des Rois. The King of Prussia will exert all his
perspicacity to analyze his Imperial Majesty; and I would bet upon the
one head of his black eagle, against the two heads of the Austrian eagle;
though two heads are said, proverbially, to be better than one. I wish I
had the direction of both the monarchs, and they should, together with
some of their allies, take Lorraine and Alsace from France. You will
call me 'l'Abbe de St. Pierre'; but I only say what I wish; whereas he
thought everything that he wished practicable.
Now to come home. Here are great bustles at Court, and a great change of
persons is certainly very near. You will ask me, perhaps, who is to be
out, and who is to be in? To which I answer, I do not know. My
conjecture is that, be the new settlement what it will, Mr. Pitt will be
at the head of it. If he is, I presume, 'qu'il aura mis de l'eau dans
son vin par rapport a Mylord B-----; when that shall come to be known,
as known it certainly will soon be, he may bid adieu to his popularity.
A minister, as minister, is very apt to be the object of public dislike;
and a favorite, as favorite, still more so. If any event of this kind
happens, which (if it happens at all) I conjecture will be some time next
week, you shall hear further from me.
I will follow your advice, and be as well as I can next winter, though I
know I shall never be free from my flying rheumatic pains, as long as I
live; but whether that will be more or less, is extremely indifferent to
me; in either case,
God bless you!
BLACKHEATH, August 1, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: The curtain was at last drawn up, the day before
yesterday, and discovered the new actors, together with some of the old
ones. I do not name them to you, because to-morrow's Gazette will do it
full as well as I could. Mr. Pitt, who had carte blanche given him,
named everyone of them: but what would you think he named himself for?
Lord Privy Seal; and (what will astonish you, as it does every mortal
here) Earl of Chatham. The joke here is, that he has had A FALL UP
STAIRS, and has done himself so much hurt, that he will never be able to
stand upon his leg's again. Everybody is puzzled how to account for this
step; though it would not be the first time that great abilities have
been duped by low cunning. But be it what it will, he is now certainly
only Earl of Chatham; and no longer Mr. Pitt, in any respect whatever.
Such an event, I believe, was never read nor heard of. To withdraw,
in the fullness of his power and in the utmost gratification of his
ambition, from the House of Commons (which procured him his power, and
which could alone insure it to him), and to go into that hospital of
incurables, the House of Lords, is a measure so unaccountable, that
nothing but proof positive could have made me believe it: but true it is.
Hans Stanley is to go Ambassador to Russia; and my nephew, Ellis, to
Spain, decorated with the red riband. Lord Shelburne is your Secretary
of State, which I suppose he has notified to you this post, by a circular
letter. Charles Townshend has now the sole management of the House of
Commons; but how long he will be content to be only Lord Chatham's
vicegerent there, is a question which I will not pretend to decide.
There is one very bad sign for Lord Chatham, in his new dignity; which
is, that all his enemies, without exception, rejoice at it; and all his
friends are stupefied and dumbfounded. If I mistake not much, he will,
in the course of a year, enjoy perfect 'otium cum dignitate'. Enough of
Is the fair, or at least the fat, Miss C---- with you still? It must be
confessed that she knows the arts of courts, to be so received at
Dresden, and so connived at in Leicester-fields.
There never was so wet a summer as this has been, in the memory of man;
we have not had one single day, since March, without some rain; but most
days a great deal. I hope that does not affect your health, as great
cold does; for, with all these inundations, it has not been cold. God
BLACKHEATH, August 14, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received yesterday your letter of the 30th past, and I
find by it that it crossed mine upon the road, where they had no time to
take notice of one another.
The newspapers have informed you, before now, of the changes actually
made; more will probably follow, but what, I am sure, I cannot tell you;
and I believe nobody can, not even those who are to make them: they will,
I suppose, be occasional, as people behave themselves. The causes and
consequences of Mr. Pitt's quarrel now appear in print, in a pamphlet
published by Lord T------; and in a refutation of it, not by Mr. Pitt
himself, I believe, but by some friend of his, and under his sanction.
The former is very scurrilous and scandalous, and betrays private
conversation. My Lord says, that in his last conference, he thought he
had as good a right to nominate the new Ministry as Mr. Pitt, and
consequently named Lord G-----, Lord L------, etc., for Cabinet Council
employments; which Mr. Pitt not consenting to, Lord T----- broke up the
conference, and in his wrath went to Stowe; where I presume he may remain
undisturbed a great while, since Mr. Pitt will neither be willing nor
able to send for him again. The pamphlet, on the part of Mr. Pitt, gives
an account of his whole political life; and, in that respect, is tedious
to those who were acquainted with it before; but, at the latter end,
there is an article that expresses such supreme contempt of Lord T-----,
and in so pretty a manner, that I suspect it to be Mr. Pitt's own: you
shall judge yourself, for I here transcribe the article: "But this I will
be bold to say, that had he (Lord T-----) not fastened himself into
Mr. Pitt's train, and acquired thereby such an interest in that great
man, he might have crept out of life with as little notice as he crept
in; and gone off with no other degree of credit, than that of adding a
single unit to the bills of mortality" I wish I could send you all the
pamphlets and half-sheets that swarm here upon this occasion; but that is
impossible; for every week would make a ship's cargo. It is certain,
that Mr. Pitt has, by his dignity of Earl, lost the greatest part of his
popularity, especially in the city; and I believe the Opposition will be
very strong, and perhaps prevail, next session, in the House of Commons;
there being now nobody there who can have the authority and ascendant
over them that Pitt had.
People tell me here, as young Harvey told you at Dresden, that I look
very well; but those are words of course, which everyone says to
everybody. So far is true, that I am better than at my age, and with my
broken constitution, I could have expected to be. God bless you!
BLACKHEATH, September 12, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have this moment received your letter of the 27th past.
I was in hopes that your course of waters this year at Baden would have
given you a longer reprieve from your painful complaint. If I do not
mistake, you carried over with you some of Dr. Monsey's powders. Have
you taken any of them, and have they done you any good? I know they did
me a great deal. I, who pretend to some skill in physic, advise a cool
regimen, and cooling medicines.
I do not wonder, that you do wonder, at Lord C-----'s conduct. If he was
not outwitted into his peerage by Lord B----, his accepting it is utterly
inexplicable. The instruments he has chosen for the great office,
I believe, will never fit the same case. It was cruel to put such a boy
as Lord G--- over the head of old Ligonier; and if I had been the former,
I would have refused that commission, during the life of that honest and
brave old general. All this to quiet the Duke of R---- to a resignation,
and to make Lord B---- Lieutenant of Ireland, where, I will venture to
prophesy, that he will not do. Ligonier was much pressed to give up his
regiment of guards, but would by no means do it; and declared that the
King might break him if he pleased, but that he would certainly not break
I have no political events to inform you of; they will not be ripe till
the meeting of the parliament. Immediately upon the receipt of this
letter, write me one, to acquaint me how you are.
God bless you; and, particularly, may He send you health, for that is the
BLACKHEATH, September 30, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received, yesterday, with great pleasure, your letter
of the 18th, by which I consider this last ugly bout as over; and, to
prevent its return, I greatly approve of your plan for the south of
France, where I recommend for your principal residence, Pezenas Toulouse,
or Bordeaux; but do not be persuaded to go to Aix en Provence, which, by
experience, I know to be at once the hottest and the coldest place in the
world, from the ardor of the Provencal sun, and the sharpness of the
Alpine winds. I also earnestly recommend to you, for your complaint upon
your breast, to take, twice a-day, asses' or (what is better mares' milk),
and that for these six months at least. Mingle turnips, as much as you
can, with your diet.
I have written, as you desired, to Mr. Secretary Conway; but I will
answer for it that there will be no difficulty to obtain the leave you
There is no new event in the political world since my last; so God bless
LONDON, October 29, 7766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: The last mail brought me your letter of the 17th. I am
glad to hear that your breast is so much better. You will find both
asses' and mares' milk enough in the south of France, where it was much
drank when I was there. Guy Patin recommends to a patient to have no
doctor but a horse, and no apothecary but an ass. As for your pains and
weakness in your limbs, 'je vous en offre autant'; I have never been free
from them since my last rheumatism. I use my legs as much as I can, and
you should do so too, for disuse makes them worse. I cannot now use them
long at a time, because of the weakness of old age; but I contrive to
get, by different snatches, at least two hours' walking every day, either
in my garden or within doors, as the weather permits. I set out to-
morrow for Bath, in hopes of half repairs, for Medea's kettle could not
give me whole ones; the timbers of my wretched vessel are too much
decayed to be fitted out again for use. I shall see poor Harte there,
who, I am told, is in a miserable way, between some real and some
I send you no political news, for one reason, among others, which is that
I know none. Great expectations are raised of this session, which meets
the 11th of next month; but of what kind nobody knows, and consequently
everybody conjectures variously. Lord Chatham comes to town to-morrow
from Bath, where he has been to refit himself for the winter campaign; he
has hitherto but an indifferent set of aides-decamp; and where he will
find better, I do not know. Charles Townshend and he are already upon
ill terms. 'Enfin je n'y vois goutte'; and so God bless you!
BATH, November 15, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have this moment received your letter of the 5th
instant from Basle. I am very glad to find that your breast is relieved,
though perhaps at the expense of your legs: for, if the humor be either
gouty or rheumatic, it had better be in your legs than anywhere else.
I have consulted Moisy, the great physician of this place, upon it; who
says, that at this distance he dares not prescribe anything, as there may
be such different causes for your complaint, which must be well weighed
by a physician upon the spot; that is, in short, that he knows nothing of
the matter. I will therefore tell you my own case, in 1732, which may be
something parallel to yours. I had that year been dangerously ill of a
fever in Holland; and when I was recovered of it, the febrific humor fell
into my legs, and swelled them to that degree, and chiefly in the
evening, that it was as painful to me as it was shocking to others.
I came to England with them in this condition; and consulted Mead,
Broxholme, and Arbuthnot, who none of them did me the least good; but,
on the contrary, increased the swelling, by applying poultices and
emollients. In this condition I remained near six months, till finding
that the doctors could do me no good, I resolved to consult Palmer, the
most eminent surgeon of St. Thomas's Hospital. He immediately told me
that the physicians had pursued a very wrong method, as the swelling of
my legs proceeded only from a relaxation and weakness of the cutaneous
vessels; and he must apply strengtheners instead of emollients.
Accordingly, he ordered me to put my legs up to the knees every morning
in brine from the salters, as hot as I could bear it; the brine must have
had meat salted in it. I did so; and after having thus pickled my legs
for about three weeks, the complaint absolutely ceased, and I have never
had the least swelling in them since. After what I have said, I must
caution you not to use the same remedy rashly, and without the most
skillful advice you can find, where you are; for if your swelling
proceeds from a gouty, or rheumatic humor, there may be great danger in
applying so powerful an astringent, and perhaps REPELLANT as brine. So
go piano, and not without the best advice, upon a view of the parts.
I shall direct all my letters to you 'Chez Monsieur Sarraxin', who by his
trade is, I suppose, 'sedentaire' at Basle, while it is not sure that you
will be at any one place in the south of France. Do you know that he is
a descendant of the French poet Sarrazin?
Poor Harte, whom I frequently go to see here, out of compassion, is in a
most miserable way; he has had a stroke of the palsy, which has deprived
him of the use of his right leg, affected his speech a good deal, and
perhaps his head a little. Such are the intermediate tributes that we
are forced to pay, in some shape or other, to our wretched nature, till
we pay the last great one of all. May you pay this very late, and as few
intermediate tributes as possible; and so 'jubeo te bene valere'. God
BATH, December 9, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received, two days ago, your letter of the 26th past.
I am very glad that you begin to feel the good effects of the climate
where you are; I know it saved my life, in 1741, when both the skillful
and the unskillful gave me over. In that ramble I stayed three or four
days at Nimes, where there are more remains of antiquity, I believe, than
in any town in Europe, Italy excepted. What is falsely called 'la maison
quarree', is, in my mind, the finest piece of architecture that I ever
saw; and the amphitheater the clumsiest and the ugliest: if it were in
England, everybody would swear it had been built by Sir John Vanbrugh.
This place is now, just what you have seen it formerly; here is a great
crowd of trifling and unknown people, whom I seldom frequent, in the
public rooms; so that I may pass my time 'tres uniment', in taking the
air in my post-chaise every morning, and in reading of evenings.
And 'a propos' of the latter, I shall point out a book, which I believe
will give you some pleasure; at least it gave me a great deal. I never
read it before. It is 'Reflexions sur la Poesie et la Peinture, par
l'Abbee de Bos', in two octavo volumes; and is, I suppose, to be had at
every great town in France. The criticisms and the reflections are just
It may be you expect some political news from me: but I can tell you that
you will have none, for no mortal can comprehend the present state of
affairs. Eight or nine people of some consequence have resigned their
employments; upon which Lord C----- made overtures to the Duke of B-----
and his people; but they could by no means agree, and his Grace went,
the next day, full of wrath, to Woburn, so that negotiation is entirely
at an end. People wait to see who Lord C----- will take in, for some he
must have; even HE cannot be alone, 'contra mundum'. Such a state of
affairs, to be sure, was never seen before, in this or in any other
country. When this Ministry shall be settled, it will be the sixth
Ministry in six years' time.
Poor Harte is here, and in a most miserable condition; those who wish him
the best, as I do, must wish him dead. God bless you!
LONDON, February 13, 1767.
MY DEAR FRIEND: It is so long since I have had a letter from you, that I
am alarmed about your health; and fear that the southern parts of France
have not done so well by you as they did by me in the year 1741, when
they snatched me from the jaws of death. Let me know, upon the receipt
of this letter, how you are, and where you are.
I have no news to send you from hence; for everything seems suspended,
both in the court and in the parliament, till Lord Chatham's return from
the Bath, where he has been laid up this month, by a severe fit of the
gout; and, at present, he has the sole apparent power. In what little
business has hitherto been done in the House of Commons, Charles
Townshend has given himself more ministerial airs than Lord Chatham will,
I believe, approve of. However, since Lord Chatham has thought fit to
withdraw himself from that House, he cannot well do without Charles'
abilities to manage it as his deputy.
I do not send you an account of weddings, births, and burials, as I take
it for granted that you know them all from the English printed papers;
some of which, I presume, are sent after you. Your old acquaintance,
Lord Essex, is to be married this week to Harriet Bladen, who has L20,000
down, besides the reasonable expectation of as much at the death of her
father. My kinsman, Lord Strathmore, is to be married in a fortnight,
to Miss Bowes, the greatest heiress perhaps in Europe. In short, the
matrimonial frenzy seems to rage at present, and is epidemical. The men
marry for money, and I believe you guess what the women marry for. God
bless you, and send you health!
LONDON, March 3, 1767
MY DEAR FRIEND: Yesterday I received two letters at once from you, both
dated Montpellier; one of the 29th of last December, and the other the
12th of February: but I cannot conceive what became of my letters to you;
for, I assure you, that I answered all yours the next post after I
received them; and, about ten days ago, I wrote you a volunteer, because
you had been so long silent, and I was afraid that you were not well;
but your letter of the 12th of February has removed all my fears upon
that score. The same climate that has restored your health so far will
probably, in a little more time, restore your strength too; though you
must not expect it to be quite what it was before your late painful
complaints. At least I find that, since my late great rheumatism,
I cannot walk above half an hour at a time, which I do not place singly
to the account of my years, but chiefly to the great shock given then to
my limbs. 'D'ailleurs' I am pretty well for my age and shattered
As I told you in my last, I must tell you again in this, that I have no
news to send. Lord Chatham, at last, came to town yesterday, full of
gout, and is not able to stir hand or foot. During his absence, Charles
Townshend has talked of him, and at him, in such a manner, that
henceforward they must be either much worse or much better together than
ever they were in their lives. On Friday last, Mr. Dowdeswell and Mr.
Grenville moved to have one shilling in the pound of the land tax taken
off; which was opposed by the Court; but the Court lost it by eighteen.
The Opposition triumph much upon this victory; though, I think, without
reason; for it is plain that all the landed gentlemen bribed themselves
with this shilling in the pound.
The Duke of Buccleugh is very soon to be married to Lady Betty Montague.
Lord Essex was married yesterday, to Harriet Bladen; and Lord
Strathmore, last week, to Miss Bowes; both couples went directly from the
church to consummation in the country, from an unnecessary fear that they
should not be tired of each other if they stayed in town. And now
'dixi'; God bless you!
You are in the right to go to see the assembly of the states of,
Languedoc, though they are but the shadow of the original Etats, while
there was some liberty subsisting in France.
LONDON, April 6, 1767.
MY DEAR FRIEND: Yesterday I received your letter from Nimes, by which I
find that several of our letters have reciprocally miscarried. This may
probably have the same fate; however, if it reaches Monsieur Sarrazin, I
presume he will know where to take his aim at you; for I find you are in
motion, and with a polarity to Dresden. I am very glad to find by it,
that your meridional journey has perfectly recovered you, as to your
general state of health; for as to your legs and thighs, you must never
expect that they will be restored to their original strength and
activity, after so many rheumatic attacks as you have had. I know that
my limbs, besides the natural debility of old age, have never recovered
the severe attack of rheumatism that plagued me five or six years ago.
I cannot now walk above half an hour at a time and even that in a
hobbling kind of way.
I can give you no account of our political world, which is in a situation
that I never saw in my whole life. Lord Chatham has been so ill, these
last two months, that he has not been able (some say not willing) to do
or hear of any business, and for his 'sous Ministres', they either
cannot, or dare not, do any, without his directions; so everything is now
at a stand. This situation, I think, cannot last much longer, and if
Lord Chatham should either quit his post, or the world, neither of which
is very improbable, I conjecture, that which is called the Rockingham
Connection stands the fairest for the Ministry. But this is merely my
conjecture, for I have neither 'data' nor 'postulata' enough to reason
When you get to Dresden, which I hope you will not do till next month,
our correspondence will be more regular. God bless you!
LONDON, May 5, 1767,
MY DEAR FRIEND: By your letter of the 25th past, from Basle, I presume
this will find you at Dresden, and accordingly I direct to you there.
When you write me word that you are at Dresden, I will return you an
answer, with something better than the answer itself.
If you complain of the weather, north of Besancon, what would you say to
the weather that we have had here for these last two months,
uninterruptedly? Snow often, northeast wind constantly, and extreme
cold. I write this by the side of a good fire; and at this moment it
snows very hard. All my promised fruit at Blackheath is quite destroyed;
and, what is worse, many of my trees.
I cannot help thinking that the King of Poland, the Empress of Russia,
and the King of Prussia, 's'entendent comme larrons en foire', though the
former must not appear in it upon account of the stupidity, ignorance,
and bigotry of his Poles. I have a great opinion of the cogency of the
controversial arguments of the Russian troops, in favor of the
Dissidents: I am sure I wish them success; for I would have all
intoleration intolerated in its turn. We shall soon see more clearly
into this matter; for I do not think that the Autocratrice of all the
Russias will be trifled with by the Sarmatians.
What do you think of the late extraordinary event in Spain? Could you
have ever imagined that those ignorant Goths would have dared to banish
the Jesuits? There must have been some very grave and important reasons
for so extraordinary a measure: but what they were I do not pretend to
guess; and perhaps I shall never know, though all the coffeehouses here
Things are here in exactly the same situation, in which they were when I
wrote to you last. Lord Chatham is still ill, and only goes abroad for
an hour in a day, to take the air, in his coach. The King has, to my
certain knowledge, sent him repeated messages, desiring him not to be
concerned at his confinement, for that he is resolved to support him,
'pour et contre tous'. God bless you!
LONDON, June 1, 1767.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received yesterday your letter of the 20th past, from
Dresden, where I am glad to find that you are arrived safe and sound.
This has been everywhere an 'annus mirabilis' for bad weather, and it
continues here still. Everybody has fires, and their winter clothes,
as at Christmas. The town is extremely sickly; and sudden deaths have
been very frequent.
I do not know what to say to you upon public matters; things remain in
'statu quo', and nothing is done. Great changes are talked of, and,
I believe, will happen soon, perhaps next week; but who is to be changed,
for whom, I do not know, though everybody else does. I am apt to think
that it will be a mosaic Ministry, made up 'de pieces rapportees' from
Last Friday I sent your subsidy to Mr. Larpent, who, I suppose, has given
you notice of it. I believe it will come very seasonably, as all places,
both foreign and domestic, are so far in arrears. They talk of paying
you all up to Christmas. The King's inferior servants are almost
I suppose you have already heard, at Dresden, that Count Bruhl is either
actually married, or very soon to be so, to Lady Egremont. She has,
together with her salary as Lady of the Bed-chamber, L2,500 a year,
besides ten thousand pounds in money left her, at her own disposal, by
Lord Egremont. All this will sound great 'en ecus d'Allemagne'. I am
glad of it, for he is a very pretty man. God bless you!
I easily conceive why Orloff influences the Empress of all the Russias;
but I cannot see why the King of Prussia should be influenced by that
BLACKHEATH, JULY 2, 1767.
MY DEAR FRIEND: Though I have had no letter from you since my last, and
though I have no political news to inform you of, I write this to
acquaint you with a piece of Greenwich news, which I believe you will be
very glad of; I am sure I am. Know then that your friend Miss ----- was
happily married, three days ago, to Mr. -------, an Irish gentleman,
and a member of that parliament, with an estate of above L2,000 a-year.
He settles upon her L600 jointure, and in case they have no children,
L1,500. He happened to be by chance in her company one day here, and was
at once shot dead by her charms; but as dead men sometimes walk, he
walked to her the next morning, and tendered her his person and his
fortune; both which, taking the one with the other, she very prudently
accepted, for his person is sixty years old.
Ministerial affairs are still in the same ridiculous and doubtful
situation as when I wrote to you last. Lord Chatham will neither hear
of, nor do any business, but lives at Hampstead, and rides about the
heath. His gout is said to be fallen upon his nerves. Your provincial
secretary, Conway, quits this week, and returns to the army, for which he
languished. Two Lords are talked of to succeed him; Lord Egmont and Lord
Hillsborough: I rather hope the latter. Lord Northington certainly quits
this week; but nobody guesses who is to succeed him as President. A
thousand other changes are talked of, which I neither believe nor reject.
Poor Harte is in a most miserable condition: He has lost one side of
himself, and in a great measure his speech; notwithstanding which, he is
going to publish his DIVINE POEMS, as he calls them. I am sorry for it,
as he had not time to correct them before this stroke, nor abilities to
do it since. God bless you!
BLACKHEATH, July 9, 1767.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have received yours of the 21st past, with the inclosed
proposal from the French 'refugies, for a subscription toward building
them 'un temple'. I have shown it to the very few people I see, but
without the least success. They told me (and with too much truth) that
while such numbers of poor were literally starving here from the dearness
of all provisions, they could not think of sending their money into
another country, for a building which they reckoned useless. In truth,
I never knew such misery as is here now; and it affects both the hearts
and the purses of those who have either; for my own part, I never gave to
a building in my life; which I reckon is only giving to masons and
carpenters, and the treasurer of the undertaking.
Contrary to the expectations of all mankind here, everything still
continues in 'statu quo'. General Conway has been desired by the King
to keep the seals till he has found a successor for him, and the Lord
President the same. Lord Chatham is relapsed, and worse than ever: he
sees nobody, and nobody sees him: it is said that a bungling physician
has checked his gout, and thrown it upon his nerves; which is the worst
distemper that a minister or a lover can have, as it debilitates the mind
of the former and the body of the latter. Here is at present an
interregnum. We must soon see what order will be produced from this
The Electorate, I believe, will find the want of Comte Flemming; for he
certainly had abilities, and was as sturdy and inexorable as a Minister
at the head of the finances ought always to be. When you see Comtesse
Flemming, which I suppose cannot be for some time, pray make her Lady
Chesterfield's and my compliments of condolence.
You say that Dresden is very sickly; I am sure London is at least as
sickly now, for there reigns an epidemical distemper, called by the
genteel name of 'l'influenza'. It is a little fever, of which scarcely
anybody dies; and it generally goes off with a little looseness. I have
escaped it, I believe, by being here. God keep you from all distempers,
and bless you!
LONDON, October 30, 1767.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have now left Blackheath, till the next summer, if I
live till then; and am just able to write, which is all I can say, for I
am extremely weak, and have in a great measure lost the use of my legs;
I hope they will recover both flesh and strength, for at present they
have neither. I go to the Bath next week, in hopes of half repairs at
most; for those waters, I am sure, will not prove Medea's kettle, nor
'les eaux de Jouvence' to me; however, I shall do as good courtiers do,
and get what I can, if I cannot get what I will. I send you no politics,
for here are neither politics nor ministers; Lord Chatham is quiet at
Pynsent, in Somersetshire, and his former subalterns do nothing, so that
nothing is done. Whatever places or preferments are disposed of, come
evidently from Lord -------, who affects to be invisible; and who, like a
woodcock, thinks that if his head is but hid, he is not seen at all.
General Pulteney is at last dead, last week, worth above thirteen hundred
thousand pounds. He has left all his landed estate, which is eight and
twenty thousand pounds a-year, including the Bradford estate, which his
brother had from that ancient family, to a cousin-german. He has left
two hundred thousand pounds, in the funds, to Lord Darlington, who was
his next nearest relation; and at least twenty thousand pounds in various
legacies. If riches alone could make people happy, the last two
proprietors of this immense wealth ought to have been so, but they never
God bless you, and send you good health, which is better than all the
riches of the world!
LONDON, November 3, 1767.
MY DEAR FRIEND: Your last letter brought me but a scurvy account of your
health. For the headaches you complain of, I will venture to prescribe a
remedy, which, by experience, I found a specific, when I was extremely
plagued with them. It is either to chew ten grains of rhubarb every
night going to bed: or, what I think rather better, to take, immediately
before dinner, a couple of rhubarb pills, of five grains each; by which
means it mixes with the aliments, and will, by degrees, keep your body
gently open. I do it to this day, and find great good by it. As you
seem to dread the approach of a German winter, I would advise you to
write to General Conway, for leave of absence for the three rigorous
winter months, which I dare say will not be refused. If you choose a
worse climate, you may come to London; but if you choose a better and a
warmer, you may go to Nice en Provence, where Sir William Stanhope is
gone to pass his winter, who, I am sure, will be extremely glad of your
I go to the Bath next Saturday. 'Utinam de frustra'. God bless you!
BATH, September 19, 1767.
MY DEAR FRIEND: Yesterday I received your letter of the 29th past, and am
very glad to find that you are well enough to think that you may perhaps
stand the winter at Dresden; but if you do, pray take care to keep both
your body and your limbs exceedingly warm.
As to my own health, it is, in general, as good as I could expect it, at
my age; I have a good stomach, a good digestion, and sleep well; but find
that I shall never recover the free use of my legs, which are now full as
weak as when I first came hither.
You ask me questions concerning Lord C------, which neither I, nor,
I believe, anybody but himself can answer; however, I will tell you all
that I do know, and all that I guess, concerning him. This time
twelvemonth he was here, and in good health and spirits, except now and
then some little twinges of the gout. We saw one another four or five
times, at our respective houses; but for these last eight months, he has
been absolutely invisible to his most intimate friends, 'les sous
Ministres': he would receive no letters, nor so much as open any packet
His physician, Dr. -----, as I am told, had, very ignorantly, checked
a coming fit of the gout, and scattered it about his body; and it fell
particularly upon his nerves, so that he continues exceedingly vaporish;
and would neither see nor speak to anybody while he was here. I sent him
my compliments, and asked leave to wait upon him; but he sent me word
that he was too ill to see anybody whatsoever. I met him frequently
taking the air in his post-chaise, and he looked very well. He set out
from hence for London last Tuesday; but what to do, whether to resume, or
finally to resign the Administration, God knows; conjectures are various.
In one of our conversations here, this time twelvemonth, I desired him to
secure you a seat in the new parliament; he assured me that he would,
and, I am convinced, very sincerely; he said even that he would make it
his own affair; and desired that I would give myself no more trouble
about it. Since that, I have heard no more of it; which made me look out
for some venal borough and I spoke to a borough-jobber, and offered five-
and-twenty hundred pounds for a secure seat in parliament; but he laughed
at my offer, and said that there was no such thing as a borough to be had
now, for that the rich East and West Indians had secured them all, at the
rate of three thousand pounds at least; but many at four thousand, and
two or three that he knew, at five thousand. This, I confess, has vexed
me a good deal; and made me the more impatient to know whether Lord C----
had done anything in it; which I shall know when I go to town, as I
propose to do in about a fortnight; and as soon as I know it you shall.
To tell you truly what I think--I doubt, from all this NERVOUS DISORDER
that Lord C----- is hors de combat, as a Minister; but do not ever hint
this to anybody. God bless you!
BATH, December 27, 1767. 'En nova progenies'!
MY DEAR FRIEND: The outlines of a new Ministry are now declared, but they
are not yet quite filled up; it was formed by the Duke of Bedford. Lord
Gower is made President of the Council, Lord Sandwich, Postmaster, Lord
Hillsborough, Secretary of State for America only, Mr. Rigby, Vice-
treasurer of Ireland. General Canway is to keep the seals a fortnight
longer, and then to surrender them to Lord Weymouth. It is very
uncertain whether the Duke of Grafton is to continue at the head of the
Treasury or not; but, in my private opinion, George Grenville will very
soon be there. Lord Chatham seems to be out of the question, and is at
his repurchased house at Hayes, where he will not see a mortal. It is
yet uncertain whether Lord Shelburne is to keep his place; if not, Lord
Sandwich they say is to succeed him. All the Rockingham people are
absolutely excluded. Many more changes must necessarily be, but no more
are yet declared. It seems to be a resolution taken by somebody that
Ministers are to be annual.
Sir George Macartney is next week to be married to Lady Jane Stuart, Lord
Bute's second daughter.
I never knew it so cold in my life as it is now, and with a very deep
snow; by which, if it continues, I may be snow-bound here for God knows
how long, though I proposed leaving this place the latter end of the
Poor Harte is very ill here; he mentions you often, and with great
affection. God bless you!
When I know more you shall.
LONDON, January 29, 1768.
MY DEAR FRIEND: Two days ago I received your letter of the 8th. I wish
you had gone a month or six weeks sooner to Basle, that you might have
escaped the excessive cold of the most severe winter that I believe was
ever known. It congealed both my body and my mind, and scarcely left me
the power of thinking. A great many here, both in town and country, have
perished by the frost, and been lost in the snow.
You have heard, no doubt, of the changes at Court, by which you have got
a new provincial, Lord Weymouth; who has certainly good parts, and, as I
am informed, speaks very well in the House of Lords; but I believe he has
no application. Lord Chatham is at his house at Hayes; but sees no
mortal. Some say that he has a fit of the gout, which would probably do
him good; but many think that his worst complaint is in his head, which I
am afraid is too true. Were he well, I am sure he would realize the
promise he made me concerning you; but, however, in that uncertainty,
I am looking out for any chance borough; and if I can find one, I promise
you I will bid like a chapman for it, as I should be very sorry that you
were not in the next parliament. I do not see any probability of any
vacancy in a foreign commission in a better climate; Mr. Hamilton at
Naples, Sir Horace Mann at Florence, and George Pitt at Turin, do not
seem likely to make one. And as for changing your foreign department for
a domestic one, it would not be in my power to procure you one; and you
would become 'd'eveque munier', and gain nothing in point of climate, by
changing a bad one for another full as bad, if not worse; and a worse I
believe is not than ours. I have always had better health abroad than at
home; and if the tattered remnant of my wretched life were worth my care,
I would have been in the south of France long ago. I continue very lame
and weak, and despair of ever recovering any strength in my legs. I care
very little about it. At my age every man must have his share of
physical ills of one kind or another; and mine, thank God, are not very
painful. God bless you!
LONDON, March 12, 1768.
MY DEAR FRIEND: The day after I received your letter of the 21st past,
I wrote to Lord Weymouth, as you desired; and I send you his answer
inclosed, from which (though I have not heard from him since) I take it
for granted, and so may you, that his silence signifies his Majesty's
consent to your request. Your complicated complaints give me great
uneasiness, and the more, as I am convinced that the Montpellier
physicians have mistaken a material part of your case; as indeed all the
physicians here did, except Dr. Maty. In my opinion, you have no gout,
but a very scorbutic and rheumatic habit of body, which should be treated
in a very different manner from the gout; and, as I pretend to be a very
good quack at least, I would prescribe to you a strict milk diet, with
the seeds, such as rice, sago, barley, millet, etc., for the three summer
months at least, and without ever tasting wine. If climate signifies
anything (in which, by the way, I have very little faith), you are, in my
mind, in the finest climate in the world; neither too hot nor too cold,
and always clear; you are with the gayest people living; be gay with
them, and do not wear out your eyes with reading at home. 'L'ennui' is
the English distemper: and a very bad one it is, as I find by every day's
experience; for my deafness deprives me of the only rational pleasure
that I can have at my age, which is society; so that I read my eyes out
every day, that I may not hang myself.
You will not be in this parliament, at least not at the beginning of it.
I relied too much upon Lord C-----'s promise above a year ago at Bath.
He desired that I would leave it to him; that he would make it his own
affair, and give it in charge to the Duke of G----, whose province it was
to make the parliamentary arrangement. This I depended upon, and I think
with reason; but, since that, Lord C has neither seen nor spoken to
anybody, and has been in the oddest way in the world. I have sent to the
D----- of G------, to know if L----- C---- had either spoken or sent to
him about it; but he assured me that he had done neither; that all was
full, or rather running over, at present; but that, if he could crowd you
in upon a vacancy, he would do it with great pleasure. I am extremely
sorry for this accident; for I am of a very different opinion from you,
about being in parliament, as no man can be of consequence in this
country, who is not in it; and, though one may not speak like a Lord
Mansfield or a Lord Chatham, one may make a very good figure in a second
rank. 'Locus est et pluribus umbris'. I do not pretend to give you any
account of the present state of this country, or Ministry, not knowing
nor guessing it myself.
God bless you, and send you health, which is the first and greatest of
LONDON, March 15, 1768.
MY DEAR FRIEND: This letter is supplemental to my, last. This morning
Lord Weymouth very civilly sent Mr. Wood, his first 'commis', to tell me
that the King very willingly gave you leave of absence from your post for
a year, for the recovery of your health; but then added, that as the
Court of Vienna was tampering with that of Saxony, which it seems our
Court is desirous to 'contrequarrer', it might be necessary to have in
the interim a 'Charge d'Affaires' at Dresden, with a defalcation out of
your appointments of forty shillings a-day, till your return, if I would
agree to it. I told him that I consented to both the proposals, upon
condition that at your return you should have the character and the pay
of Plenipotentiary added to your present character and pay; and that I
would completely make up to you the defalcation of the forty shillings
a-day. He positively engaged for it: and added, that he knew that it
would be willingly agreed to. Thus I think I have made a good bargain
for you, though but an indifferent one for myself: but that is what I
never minded in my life. You may, therefore, depend upon receiving from
me the full of this defalcation, when and how you please, independently
of your usual annual refreshment, which I will pay to Monsieur Larpent,
whenever you desire it. In the meantime, 'Cura ut valeas'.
The person whom Mr. Wood intimated to me would be the 'Charge d'Affaires'
during your absence, is one Mr. Keith, the son of that Mr. Keith who was
formerly Minister in Russia.
LONDON, April 12, 1768.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received, yesterday, your letter of the 1st; in which
you do not mention the state of your health, which I desire you will do
for the future.
I believe you have guessed the true reason of Mr. Keith's mission; but by
a whisper that I have since heard, Keith is rather inclined to go to
Turin, as 'Charge d'Affaires'. I forgot to tell you, in my last, that I
was almost positively assured that the instant you return to Dresden,
Keith should decamp. I am persuaded that they will keep their words with
me, as there is no one reason in the world why they should not. I will
send your annual to Mr. Larpent, in a fortnight, and pay the forty
shillings a-day quarterly, if there should be occasion; for, in my own
private opinion, there will be no 'Charge d'Affaires' sent. I agree with
you, that 'point d'argent, point d'Allemand', as was used to be said, and
not without more reason, of the Swiss; but, as we have neither the
inclination nor I fear the power to give subsidies, the Court of Vienna
can give good things that cost them nothing, as archbishoprics,
bishoprics, besides corrupting their ministers and favorite with places.
Elections here have been carried to a degree of frenzy hitherto unheard
of; that for the town of Northampton has cost the contending parties at
least thirty thousand pounds a side, and ----- -------- has sold his
borough of ---------, to two members, for nine thousand pounds. As soon
as Wilkes had lost his election for the city, he set up for the county of
Middlesex, and carried it hollow, as the jockeys say. Here were great
mobs and riots upon that occasion, and most of the windows in town broke,
that had no lights for WILKES AND LIBERTY, who were thought to be
inseparable. He will appear, the 10th of this month, in the Court of
King's Bench, to receive his sentence; and then great riots are again
expected, and probably will happen. God bless you!
BATH, October 17, 1768.
MY DEAR FRIEND. Your last two letters, to myself and Grevenkop, have
alarmed me extremely; but I comfort myself a little, by hoping that you,
like all people who suffer, think yourself worse than you are. A dropsy
never comes so suddenly; and I flatter myself, that it is only that gouty
or rheumatic humor, which has plagued you so long, that has occasioned
the temporary swelling of your legs. Above forty years ago, after a
violent fever, my legs swelled as much as you describe yours to be; I
immediately thought that I had a dropsy; but the Faculty assured me, that
my complaint was only the effect of my fever, and would soon be cured;
and they said true. Pray let your amanuensis, whoever he may be, write
an account regularly once a-week, either to Grevenkop or myself, for that
is the same thing, of the state of your health.
I sent you, in four successive letters, as much of the Duchess of
Somerset's snuff as a letter could well convey to you. Have you received
all or any of them? and have they done you any good? Though, in your
present condition, you cannot go into company, I hope that you have some
acquaintances that come and sit with you; for if originally it was not
good for man to be alone, it is much worse for a sick man to be so; he
thinks too much of his distemper, and magnifies it. Some men of learning
among the ecclesiastics, I dare say, would be glad to sit with you; and
you could give them as good as they brought.
Poor Harte, who is here still, is in a most miserable condition: he has
entirely lost the use of his left side, and can hardly speak
intelligibly. I was with him yesterday. He inquired after you with
great affection, and was in the utmost concern when I showed him your
My own health is as it has been ever since I was here last year. I am
neither well nor ill, but UNWELL. I have in a manner lost the use of my
legs; for though I can make a shift to crawl upon even ground for a
quarter of an hour, I cannot go up or down stairs, unless supported by a
servant. God bless you and grant you a speedy recovery!
NOTE.--This is the last of the letters of Lord Chesterfield to his
son, Mr. Philip Stanhope, who died in November, 1768. The
unexpected and distressing intelligence was announced by the lady to
whom Mr. Stanhope had been married for several years, unknown to his
father. On learning that the widow had two sons, the issue of this
marriage, Lord Chesterfield took upon himself the maintenance of his
grandchildren. The letters which follow show how happily the writer
adapted himself to the trying situation.
TO MRS. STANHOPE, THEN AT PARIS
LONDON, March 16, 1769.
MADAM: A troublesome and painful inflammation in my eyes obliges me to
use another hand than my own to acknowledge the receipt of your letter
from Avignon, of the 27th past.
I am extremely surprised that Mrs. du Bouchet should have any objection
to the manner in which your late husband desired to be buried, and which
you, very properly, complied with. All I desire for my own burial is not
to be buried alive; but how or where, I think must be entirely
indifferent to every rational creature.
I have no commission to trouble you with, during your stay at Paris; from
whence, I wish you and the boys a good journey home, where I shall be
very glad to see you all; and assure you of my being, with great truth,
your faithful, humble servant,
TO THE SAME, AT LONDON
MADAM: The last time that I had the pleasure of seeing you, I was so
taken up in playing with the boys that I forgot their more important
affairs. How soon would you have them placed at school? When I know
your pleasure as to that, I will send to Monsieur Perny, to prepare
everything for their reception. In the meantime, I beg that you will
equip them thoroughly with clothes, linen, etc., all good, but plain; and
give me the account, which I will pay; for I do not intend that, from,
this time forward the two boys should cost you one shilling. I am, with
great truth, Madam, your faithful, humble servant,
MADAM: As some day must be fixed for sending the boys to school, do you
approve of the 8th of next month? By which time the weather will
probably be warm and settled, and you will be able to equip them
I will upon that day send my coach to you, to carry you and the boys to
Loughborough House, with all their immense baggage. I must recommend to
you, when you leave them there, to suppress, as well as you can, the
overgrowings of maternal tenderness; which would grieve the poor boys the
more, and give them a terror of their new establishment. I am, with
great truth, Madam, your faithful, humble servant,
BATH, October 11, 1769.
MADAM: Nobody can be more willing and ready to obey orders than I am;
but then I must like the orders and the orderer. Your orders and
yourself come under this description; and therefore I must give you an
account of my arrival and existence, such as it is, here. I got hither
last Sunday, the day after I left London, less fatigued than I expected
to have been; and now crawl about this place upon my three legs, but am
kept in countenance by many of my fellow-crawlers; the last part of the
Sphinx's riddle approaches, and I shall soon end, as I began, upon all
When you happen to see either Monsieur or Madame Perny, I beg you will
give them this melancholic proof of my caducity, and tell them that the
last time I went to see the boys, I carried the Michaelmas quarterage in
my pocket; and when I was there I totally forgot it; but assure them,
that I have not the least intention to bilk them, and will pay them
faithfully the two quarters together, at Christmas.
I hope our two boys are well, for then I am sure you are so. I am, with
great truth and esteem, your most faithful, humble servant,
BATH, October 28, 1769.
MADAM: Your kind anxiety for my health and life is more than, in my
opinion, they are both worth; without the former the latter is a burden;
and, indeed, I am very weary of it. I think I have got some benefit by
drinking these waters, and by bathing, for my old stiff, rheumatic limbs;
for, I believe, I could now outcrawl a snail, or perhaps even a tortoise.
I hope the boys are well. Phil, I dare say, has been in some scrapes;
but he will get triumphantly out of them, by dint of strength and
resolution. I am, with great truth and esteem, your most faithful,
BATH, November 5, 1769.
MADAM: I remember very well the paragraph which you quote from a letter
of mine to Mrs. du Bouchet, and see no reason yet to retract that
opinion, in general, which at least nineteen widows in twenty had
authorized. I had not then the pleasure of your acquaintance: I had seen
you but twice or thrice; and I had no reason to think that you would
deviate, as you have done, from other widows, so much as to put perpetual
shackles upon yourself, for the sake of your children. But (if I may use
a vulgarism) one swallow makes no summer: five righteous were formerly
necessary to save a city, and they could not be found; so, till I find
four more such righteous widows as yourself, I shall entertain my former
notions of widowhood in general.
I can assure you that I drink here very soberly and cautiously, and at
the same time keep so cool a diet that I do not find the least symptom of
heat, much less of inflammation. By the way, I never had that complaint,
in consequence of having drank these waters; for I have had it but four
times, and always in the middle of summer. Mr. Hawkins is timorous, even
to minutia, and my sister delights in them.
Charles will be a scholar, if you please; but our little Philip, without
being one, will be something or other as good, though I do not yet guess
what. I am not of the opinion generally entertained in this country,
that man lives by Greek and Latin alone; that is, by knowing a great many
words of two dead languages, which nobody living knows perfectly, and
which are of no use in the common intercourse of life. Useful knowledge
in my opinion consists of modern languages, history, and geography; some
Latin may be thrown into the bargain, in compliance with custom, and for
You are, by this time, certainly tired with this long letter, which I
could prove to you from Horace's own words (for I am a scholar) to be a
bad one; he says, that water-drinkers can write nothing good: so I am,
with real truth and esteem, your most faithful, humble servant,
BATH, October 9, 1770.
MADAM: I am extremely obliged to you for the kind part which you take in
my, health and life: as to the latter, I am as indifferent myself as any
other body can be; but as to the former, I confess care and anxiety, for
while I am to crawl upon this planet, I would willingly enjoy the health
at least of an insect. How far these waters will restore me to that,
moderate degree of health, which alone I aspire at, I have not yet given
them a fair trial, having drank them but one week; the only difference I
hitherto find is, that I sleep better than I did.
I beg that you will neither give yourself, nor Mr. Fitzhugh, much trouble
about the pine plants; for as it is three years before they fruit, I
might as well, at my age, plant oaks, and hope to have the advantage of
their timber: however, somebody or other, God knows who, will eat them,
as somebody or other will fell and sell the oaks I planted five-and-forty
I hope our boys are well; my respects to them both. I am, with the
greatest truth, your faithful and humble servant,
BATH, November 4,1770
MADAM: The post has been more favorable to you than I intended it
should, for, upon my word, I answered your former letter the post after I
had received it. However you have got a loss, as we say sometimes in
My friends from time to time require bills of health from me in these
suspicious times, when the plague is busy in some parts of Europe.
All I can say, in answer to their kind inquiries, is, that I have not the
distemper properly called the plague; but that I have all the plague of
old age and of a shattered carcass. These waters have done me what
little good I expected from them; though by no means what I could have
wished, for I wished them to be 'les eaux de Jouvence'.
I had a letter, the other day, from our two boys; Charles' was very
finely written, and Philip's very prettily: they are perfectly well,
and say that they want nothing. What grown-up people will or can say as
much? I am, with the truest esteem, Madam, your most faithful servant.
BATH, October 27,1771.
MADAM: Upon my word, you interest yourself in the state of my existence
more than I do myself; for it is worth the care of neither of us. I
ordered my valet de chambre, according to your orders, to inform you of
my safe arrival here; to which I can add nothing, being neither better
nor worse than I was then.
I am very glad that our boys are well. Pray give them the inclosed.
I am not at all surprised at Mr. ------'s conversion, for he was,
at seventeen, the idol of old women, for his gravity, devotion, and
dullness. I am, Madam, your most faithful, humble servant,
TO CHARLES AND PHILIP STANHOPE
I RECEIVED a few days ago two the best written letters that ever I saw in
my life; the one signed Charles Stanhope, the other Philip Stanhope.
As for you Charles, I did not wonder at it; for you will take pains,
and are a lover of letters; but you, idle rogue, you Phil, how came you
to write so well that one can almost say of you two, 'et cantare pores et
respondre parati'! Charles will explain this Latin to you.
I am told, Phil, that you have got a nickname at school, from your
intimacy with Master Strangeways; and that they call you Master
Strangeways; for to be rude, you are a strange boy. Is this true?
Tell me what you would have me bring you both from hence, and I will
bring it you, when I come to town. In the meantime, God bless you both!
ETEXT EDITORS BOOKMARKS:
All I desire for my own burial is not to be buried alive
Anxiety for my health and life
Get what I can, if I cannot get what I will
I shall never know, though all the coffeehouses here do
Neither well nor ill, but UNWELL
Read my eyes out every day, that I may not hang myself
Stamp-act has proved a most pernicious measure
Those who wish him the best, as I do, must wish him dead
Water-drinkers can write nothing good
Would have all intoleration intolerated in its turn
Would not tell what she did not know
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