The Entire PG Edition of Chesterfield's Letters to His Son
The Earl of Chesterfield
Part 13 out of 15
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
LETTERS TO HIS SON
By the EARL OF CHESTERFIELD
on the Fine Art of becoming a
MAN OF THE WORLD
LONDON, New-year's Day, 1759
MY DEAR FRIEND: 'Molti e felici', and I have done upon that subject, one
truth being fair, upon the most lying day in the whole year.
I have now before me your last letter of the 21st December, which I am
glad to find is a bill of health: but, however, do not presume too much
upon it, but obey and honor your physician, "that thy days may be long in
Since my last, I have heard nothing more concerning the ribband; but I
take it for granted it will be disposed of soon. By the way, upon
reflection, I am not sure that anybody but a knight can, according to
form, be employed to make a knight. I remember that Sir Clement Cotterel
was sent to Holland, to dub the late Prince of Orange, only because he
was a knight himself; and I know that the proxies of knights, who cannot
attend their own installations, must always be knights. This did not
occur to me before, and perhaps will not to the person who was to
recommend you: I am sure I will not stir it; and I only mention it now,
that you may be in all events prepared for the disappointment, if it
G----- is exceedingly flattered with your account, that three thousand of
his countrymen; all as little as himself, should be thought a sufficient
guard upon three-and-twenty thousand of all the nations in Europe; not
that he thinks himself, by any means, a little man, for when he would
describe a tall handsome man, he raises himself up at least half an inch
to represent him.
The private news from Hamburg is, that his Majesty's Resident there is
woundily in love with Madame -------; if this be true, God send him,
rather than her, a good DELIVERY! She must be 'etrennee' at this season,
and therefore I think you should be so too: so draw upon me as soon as
you please, for one hundred pounds.
Here is nothing new, except the unanimity with which the parliament gives
away a dozen of millions sterling; and the unanimity of the public is as
great in approving of it, which has stifled the usual political and
Cardinal Bernis's disgrace is as sudden, and hitherto as little
understood, as his elevation was. I have seen his poems, printed at
Paris, not by a friend, I dare say; and to judge by them, I humbly
conceive his Eminency is a p-----y. I will say nothing of that excellent
headpiece that made him and unmade him in the same month, except O KING,
Good-night to you, whoever you pass it with.
LONDON, February 2, 1759
MY DEAR FRIEND: I am now (what I have very seldom been) two letters in
your debt: the reason was, that my head, like many other heads, has
frequently taken a wrong turn; in which case, writing is painful to me,
and therefore cannot be very pleasant to my readers.
I wish you would (while you have so good an opportunity as you have at
Hamburg) make yourself perfectly master of that dull but very useful
knowledge, the course of exchange, and the causes of its almost perpetual
variations; the value and relation of different coins, the specie, the
banco, usances, agio, and a thousand other particulars. You may with
ease learn, and you will be very glad when you have learned them; for,
in your business, that sort of knowledge will often prove necessary.
I hear nothing more of Prince Ferdinand's garter: that he will have one
is very certain; but when, I believe, is very uncertain; all the other
postulants wanting to be dubbed at the same time, which cannot be, as
there is not ribband enough for them.
If the Russians move in time, and in earnest, there will be an end of our
hopes and of our armies in Germany: three such mill-stones as Russia,
France, and Austria, must, sooner or later, in the course of the year,
grind his Prussian Majesty down to a mere MARGRAVE of Brandenburg. But I
have always some hopes of a change under a 'Gunarchy'--[Derived from the
Greek word 'Iuvn' a woman, and means female government]--where whim and
humor commonly prevail, reason very seldom, and then only by a lucky
I expect the incomparable fair one of Hamburg, that prodigy of beauty,
and paragon of good sense, who has enslaved your mind, and inflamed your
heart. If she is as well 'etrennee' as you say she shall, you will be
soon out of her chains; for I have, by long experience, found women to be
like Telephus's spear, if one end kills, the other cures.
There never was so quiet, nor so silent a session of parliament as the
present; Mr. Pitt declares only what he would have them do, and they do
it 'nemine contradicente', Mr. Viner only expected.
Duchess Hamilton is to be married, to-morrow, to Colonel Campbell, the
son of General Campbell, who will some day or other be Duke of Argyle,
and have the estate. She refused the Duke of B-----r for him.
Here is a report, but I believe a very groundless one, that your old
acquaintance, the fair Madame C------e, is run away from her husband,
with a jeweler, that 'etrennes' her, and is come over here; but I dare
say it is some mistake, or perhaps a lie. Adieu! God bless you!
LONDON, February 27, 1759
MY DEAR FRIEND: In your last letter, of the 7th, you accuse me, most
unjustly, of being in arrears in my correspondence; whereas, if our
epistolary accounts were fairly liquidated, I believe you would be
brought in considerably debtor. I do not see how any of my letters to
you can miscarry, unless your office-packet miscarries too, for I always
send them to the office. Moreover, I might have a justifiable excuse for
writing to you seldomer than usual, for to be sure there never was a
period of time, in the middle of a winter, and the parliament sitting,
that supplied so little matter for a letter. Near twelve millions have
been granted this year, not only 'nemine contradicente', but, 'nemine
quicquid dicente'. The proper officers bring in the estimates; it is
taken for granted that they are necessary and frugal; the members go to
dinner; and leave Mr. West and Mr. Martin to do the rest.
I presume you have seen the little poem of the "Country Lass," by Soame
Jenyns, for it was in the "Chronicle"; as was also an answer to it, from
the "Monitor." They are neither of them bad performances; the first is
the neatest, and the plan of the second has the most invention. I send
you none of those 'pieces volantes' in my letters, because they are all
printed in one or other of the newspapers, particularly in the
"Chronicles"; and I suppose that you and others have all those papers
among you at Hamburg; in which case it would be only putting you to the
unnecessary expense of double postage.
I find you are sanguine about the King of Prussia this year; I allow his
army will be what you say; but what will that be 'vis-a-vis' French,
Austrians, Imperialists, Swedes, and Russians, who must amount to more
than double that number? Were the inequality less, I would allow for the
King of Prussia's being so much 'ipse agmen' as pretty nearly to balance
the account. In war, numbers are generally my omens; and, I confess,
that in Germany they seem not happy ones this year. In America. I
think, we are sure of success, and great success; but how we shall be
able to strike a balance, as they call it, between good success there,
and ill success upon the continent, so as to come at a peace; is more
than I can discover.
Lady Chesterfield makes you her compliments, and thanks you for your
offer; but declines troubling you, being discouraged by the ill success
of Madame Munchausen's and Miss Chetwynd's commissions, the former for
beef, and the latter for gloves; neither of which have yet been executed,
to the dissatisfaction of both. Adieu.
LONDON, March 16, 1759
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have now your letter of the 20th past lying before me,
by which you despond, in my opinion too soon, of dubbing your Prince; for
he most certainly will have the Garter; and he will as probably have it
before the campaign opens, as after. His campaign must, I doubt, at best
be a defensive one; and he will show great skill in making it such; for
according to my calculation, his enemies will be at least double his
number. Their troops, indeed, may perhaps be worse than his; but then
their number will make up that defect, as it will enable them to
undertake different operations at the same time. I cannot think that the
King of Denmark will take a part in the present war; which he cannot do
without great possible danger; and he is well paid by France for his
neutrality; is safe, let what will turn out; and, in the meantime,
carries on his commerce with great advantage and security; so that that
consideration will not retard your visit to your own country, whenever
you have leave to return, and that your own ARRANGEMENTS will allow you.
A short absence animates a tender passion, 'et l'on ne recule que pour
mieux sauter', especially in the summer months; so that I would advise
you to begin your journey in May, and continue your absence from the dear
object of your vows till after the dog-days, when love is said to be
unwholesome. We have been disappointed at Martinico; I wish we may not
be so at Guadaloupe, though we are landed there; for many difficulties
must be got over before we can be in possession of the whole island.
A pro pos de bottes; you make use of two Spanish words, very properly,
in your letter; were I you, I would learn the Spanish language, if there
were a Spaniard at Hamburg who could teach me; and then you would be
master of all the European languages that are useful; and, in my mind,
it is very convenient, if not necessary, for a public man to understand
them all, and not to be obliged to have recourse to an interpreter for
those papers that chance or business may throw in his way. I learned
Spanish when I was older than you; convinced by experience that, in
everything possible, it was better to trust to one's self than to any
other body whatsoever. Interpreters, as well as relaters, are often
unfaithful, and still oftener incorrect, puzzling, and blundering. In
short, let it be your maxim through life to know all you can know,
yourself; and never to trust implicitly to the informations of others.
This rule has been of infinite service to me in the course of my life.
I am rather better than I was; which I owe not to my physicians, but to
an ass and a cow, who nourish me, between them, very plentifully and
wholesomely; in the morning the ass is my nurse, at night the cow; and I
have just now, bought a milch-goat, which is to graze, and nurse me at
Blackheath. I do not know what may come of this latter, and I am not
without apprehensions that it may make a satyr of me; but, should I find
that obscene disposition growing upon me, I will check it in time, for
fear of endangering my life and character by rapes. And so we heartily
bid you farewell.
LONDON, March 30, 1759
MY DEAR FRIEND: I do not like these frequent, however short, returns of
your illness; for I doubt they imply either want of skill in your
physician, or want of care in his patient. Rhubarb, soap, and chalybeate
medicines and waters, are almost always specifics for obstructions of the
liver; but then a very exact regimen is necessary, and that for a long
continuance. Acids are good for you, but you do not love them; and sweet
things are bad for you, and you do love them. There is another thing
very bad for you, and I fear you love it too much. When I was in
Holland, I had a slow fever that hung upon me a great while; I consulted
Boerhaave, who prescribed me what I suppose was proper, for it cured me;
but he added, by way of postscript to his prescription, 'Venus rarius
colatur'; which I observed, and perhaps that made the medicines more
I doubt we shall be mutually disappointed in our hopes of seeing one
another this spring, as I believe you will find, by a letter which you
will receive at the same time with this, from Lord Holderness; but as
Lord Holderness will not tell you all, I will, between you and me, supply
that defect. I must do him the justice to say that he has acted in the
most kind and friendly manner possible to us both. When the King read
your letter, in which you desired leave to return, for the sake of
drinking the Tunbridge waters, he said, "If he wants steel waters, those
of Pyrmont are better than Tunbridge, and he can have them very fresh at
Hamburg. I would rather he had asked me to come last autumn, and had
passed the winter here; for if he returns now, I shall have nobody in
those quarters to inform me of what passes; and yet it will be a very-
busy and important scene." Lord Holderness, who found that it would not
be liked, resolved to push it no further; and replied, he was very sure
that when you knew his Majesty had the least objection to your return at
this time, you would think of it no longer; and he owned that he (Lord
Holderness) had given you encouragement for this application last year,
then thinking and hoping that there would be little occasion for your
presence at Hamburg this year. Lord Holderness will only tell you, in
his letter, that, as he had some reason to believe his moving this matter
would be disagreeable to the King, he resolved, for your sake, not to
mention it. You must answer his letter upon that footing simply, and
thank him for this mark of his friendship, for he has really acted as
your friend. I make no doubt of your having willing leave to return in
autumn, for the whole winter. In the meantime, make the best of your
'sejour' where you are; drink the Pyrmont waters, and no wine but
Rhenish, which, in your case is the only proper one for you.
Next week Mr. Harte will send you his "Gustavus Adolphus," in two
quartos; it will contain many new particulars of the life of that real
hero, as he has had abundant and authentic materials, which have never
yet appeared. It will, upon the whole, be a very curious and valuable
history; though, between you and me, I could have wished that he had been
more correct and elegant in his style. You will find it dedicated to one
of your acquaintance, who was forced to prune the luxuriant praises
bestowed upon him, and yet has left enough of all conscience to satisfy a
reasonable man. Harte has been very much out of order these last three
or four months, but is not the less intent upon sowing his lucerne, of
which he had six crops last year, to his infinite joy, and, as he says,
profit. As a gardener, I shall probably have as much joy, though not
quite so much profit, by thirty or forty shillings; for there is the
greatest promise of fruit this year at 'Blackheath, that ever I saw in my
life. Vertumnus and Pomona have been very propitious to me: as for
Priapus, that tremendous garden god, as I no longer invoke him, I cannot
expect his protection from the birds and the thieves.
Adieu! I will conclude like a pedant, 'Levius fit patientia quicquid
corrigere est nefas.'
LONDON, April 16, 1759
MY DEAR FRIEND: With humble submission to you, I still say that if Prince
Ferdinand can make a defensive campaign this year, he will have done a
great deal, considering the great inequality of numbers. The little
advantages of taking a regiment or two prisoners, or cutting another to
pieces, are but trifling articles in the great account; they are only the
pence, the pounds are yet to come; and I take it for granted, that
neither the French, nor the Court of Vienna, will have 'le dementi' of
their main object, which is unquestionably Hanover; for that is the
'summa summarum'; and they will certainly take care to draw a force
together for this purpose, too great for any that Prince Ferdinand has,
or can have, to oppose them. In short, mark the end on't, 'j'en augure
mal'. If France, Austria, the Empire, Russia, and Sweden, are not, at
long run, too hard for the two Electors of Hanover and Brandenburg, there
must be some invisible power, some tutelar deities, that miraculously
interpose in favor of the latter.
You encourage me to accept all the powers that goats, asses, and bulls,
can give me, by engaging for my not making an ill use of them; but I own,
I cannot help distrusting myself a little, or rather human nature; for it
is an old and very true observation, that there are misers of money, but
none of power; and the non-use of the one, and the abuse of the other,
increase in proportion to their quantity.
I am very sorry to tell you that Harte's "Gustavus Adolphus" does not
take at all, and consequently sells very little: it is certainly
informing, and full of good matter; but it is as certain too, that the
style is execrable: where the devil he picked it up, I cannot conceive,
for it is a bad style, of a new and singular kind; it is full of
Latinisms, Gallicisms, Germanisms, and all isms but Anglicisms; in some
places pompous, in others vulgar and low. Surely, before the end of the
world, people, and you in particular, will discover that the MANNER, in
everything, is at least as important as the matter; and that the latter
never can please, without a good degree of elegance in the former. This
holds true in everything in life: in writing, conversing, business, the
help of the Graces is absolutely necessary; and whoever vainly thinks
himself above them, will find he is mistaken when it will be too late to
court them, for they will not come to strangers of an advanced age.
There is an history lately come out, of the "Reign of Mary Queen of
Scots" and her son (no matter by whom) King James, written by one
Robertson, a Scotchman, which for clearness, purity, and dignity of
style, I will not scruple to compare with the best historians extant,
not excepting Davila, Guicciardini, and perhaps Livy. Its success has
consequently been great, and a second edition is already published and
bought up. I take it for granted, that it is to be had, or at least
borrowed, at Hamburg, or I would send it to you.
I hope you drink the Pyrmont waters every morning. The health of the
mind depends so much upon the health of the body, that the latter
deserves the utmost attention, independently of the senses. God send you
a very great share of both! Adieu.
LONDON, April 27, 1759
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have received your two letters of the 10th and 13th,
by the last mail; and I will begin my answer to them, by observing to you
that a wise man, without being a Stoic, considers, in all misfortunes
that befall him, their best as well as their worst side; and everything
has a better and a worse side. I have strictly observed that rule for
many years, and have found by experience that some comfort is to be
extracted, under most moral ills, by considering them in every light,
instead of dwelling, as people are too apt to do, upon the gloomy side of
the object. Thank God, the disappointment that you so pathetically groan
under, is not a calamity which admits of no consolation. Let us simplify
it, and see what it amounts to. You are pleased with the expectation of
coming here next month, to see those who would have been pleased with
seeing you. That, from very natural causes, cannot be, and you must pass
this summer at Hamburg, and next winter in England, instead of passing
this summer in England, and next winter at Hamburg. Now, estimating
things fairly, is not the change rather to your advantage? Is not the
summer more eligible, both for health and pleasure, than the winter, in
that northern frozen zone? And will not the winter in England supply you
with more pleasures than the summer, in an empty capital, could have
done? So far then it appears, that you are rather a gainer by your
The TOUR too, which you propose making to Lubeck, Altena, etc., will both
amuse and inform you; for, at your age, one cannot see too many different
places and people; since at the age you are now of, I take it for granted
that you will not see them superficially, as you did when you first went
This whole matter then, summed up, amounts to no more than this--that you
will be here next winter, instead of this summer. Do not think that all
I have said is the consolation only of an old philosophical fellow,
almost insensible of pleasure or pain, offered to a young fellow who has
quick sensations of both. No, it is the rational philosophy taught me by
experience and knowledge of the world, and which I have practiced above
I always made the best of the best, and never made bad worse by fretting;
this enabled me to go through the various scenes of life in which I have
been an actor, with more pleasure and less pain than most people. You
will say, perhaps, one cannot change one's nature; and that if a person
is born of a very sensible, gloomy temper, and apt to see things in the
worst light, they cannot help it, nor new-make themselves. I will admit
it, to a certain degree; and but to a certain degree; for though we
cannot totally change our nature, we may in a great measure correct it,
by reflection and philosophy; and some philosophy is a very necessary
companion in this world, where, even to the most fortunate, the chances
are greatly against happiness.
I am not old enough, nor tenacious enough, to pretend not to understand
the main purport of your last letter; and to show you that I do, you may
draw upon me for two hundred pounds, which, I hope, will more than clear
Good-night: 'aquam memento rebus in arduis servare mentem': Be neither
transported nor depressed by the accidents of life.
BLACKHEATH, May 16, 1759
MY DEAR FRIEND: Your secretary's last letter of the 4th, which I received
yesterday, has quieted my fears a good deal, but has not entirely
dissipated them. YOUR FEVER STILL CONTINUES, he says, THOUGH IN A LESS
DEGREE. Is it a continued fever, or an intermitting one? If the former,
no wonder that you are weak, and that your head aches. If the latter,
why has not the bark, in substance and large doses, been administered?
for if it had, it must have stopped it by this time. Next post, I hope,
will set me quite at ease. Surely you have not been so regular as you
ought, either in your medicines or in your general regimen, otherwise
this fever would not have returned; for the Doctor calls it, YOUR FEVER
RETURNED, as if you had an exclusive patent for it. You have now had
illnesses enough, to know the value of health, and to make you implicitly
follow the prescriptions of your physician in medicines, and the rules of
your own common sense in diet; in which, I can assure you, from my own
experience, that quantity is often worse than quality; and I would rather
eat half a pound of bacon at a meal, than two pounds of any the most
I have been settled here near a week, to my great satisfaction; 'c'est ma
place', and I know it, which is not given to everybody. Cut off from
social life by my deafness, as well as other physical ills, and being at
best but the ghost of my former self, I walk here in silence and solitude
as becomes a ghost: with this only difference, that I walk by day,
whereas, you know, to be sure, that other ghosts only appear by night.
My health, however, is better than it was last year, thanks to my almost
total milk diet. This enables me to vary my solitary amusements, and
alternately to scribble as well as read, which I could not do last year.
Thus I saunter away the remainder, be it more or less, of an agitated and
active life, now reduced (and I am not sure that I am a loser by the
change) to so quiet and serene a one, that it may properly be called
The French whisper in confidence, in order that it may be the more known
and the more credited, that they intend to invade us this year, in no
less than three places; that is England, Scotland, and Ireland. Some of
our great men, like the devils, believe and tremble; others, and one
little one whom I know, laugh at it; and, in general, it seems to be but
a poor, instead of a formidable scarecrow. While somebody was at the
head of a moderate army, and wanted (I know why) to be at the head of a
great one, intended invasions were made an article of political faith;
and the belief of them was required, as in the Church the belief of some
absurdities, and even impossibilities, is required upon pain of heresy,
excommunication, and consequently damnation, if they tend to the power
and interest of the heads of the Church. But now that there is a general
toleration, and that the best subjects, as well as the best Christians,
may believe what their reasons find their consciences suggest, it is
generally and rationally supposed the French will threaten and not
strike, since we are so well prepared, both by armies and fleets, to
receive and, I may add, to destroy them. Adieu! God bless you.
BLACKHEATH, June 15, 1759
MY DEAR FRIEND: Your letter of the 5th, which I received yesterday, gave
me great satisfaction, being all in your own hand; though it contains
great, and I fear just complaints of your ill state of health. You do
very well to change the air; and I hope that change will do well by you.
I would therefore have you write after the 20th of August, to Lord
Holderness, to beg of him to obtain his Majesty's leave for you to return
to England for two or three months, upon account of your health. Two or
three months is an indefinite time, which may afterward insensibly
stretched to what length one pleases; leave that to me. In the meantime,
you may be taking your measures with the best economy.
The day before yesterday, an express arrived from Guadaloupe which
brought an account of our being in possession of the whole island. And I
make no manner of doubt but that, in about two months, we shall have as
good news from Crown-point, Quebec, etc. Our affairs in Germany, I fear,
will not be equally prosperous; for I have very little hopes for the King
of Prussia or Prince Ferdinand. God bless you.
BLACKHEATH, June 25, 1759
MY DEAR FRIEND: The two last mails have brought me no letter from you or
your secretary. I will take this as a sign that you are better; but,
however, if you thought that I cared to know, you should have cared to
have written. Here the weather has been very fine for a fortnight
together, a longer term than in this climate we are used to hold fine
weather by. I hope it is so, too, at Hamburg, or at least at the villa
to which you are gone; but pray do not let it be your 'villa viciosa', as
those retirements are often called, and too often prove; though, by the
way, the original name was 'villa vezzosa'; and by wags miscalled
I have a most gloomy prospect of affairs in Germany; the French are
already in possession of Cassel, and of the learned part of Hanover, that
is Gottingen; where I presume they will not stop 'pour l'amour des belles
lettres', but rather go on to the capital, and study them upon the coin.
My old acquaintance, Monsieur Richelieu, made a great progress there in
metallic learning and inscriptions. If Prince Ferdinand ventures a
battle to prevent it, I dread the consequences; the odds are too great
against him. The King of Prussia is still in a worse situation; for he
has the Hydra to encounter; and though he may cut off a head or two,
there will still be enough left to devour him at last. I have, as you
know, long foretold the now approaching catastrophe; but I was Cassandra.
Our affairs in the new world have a much more pleasing aspect; Guadaloupe
is a great acquisition, and Quebec, which I make no doubt of, will still
be greater. But must all these advantages, purchased at the price of so
much English blood and treasure, be at last sacrificed as a peace-
offering? God knows what consequences such a measure may produce; the
germ of discontent is already great, upon the bare supposition of the
case; but should it be realized, it will grow to a harvest of
You are now, to be sure, taking the previous necessary measures for your
return here in the autumn and I think you may disband your whole family,
excepting your secretary, your butler, who takes care of your plate,
wine, etc., one or at most two, maid servants, and your valet de chambre
and one footman, whom you will bring over with you. But give no mortal,
either there or here, reason to think that you are not to return to
Hamburg again. If you are asked about it, say, like Lockhart, that you
are 'le serviteur des Evenemens'; for your present appointments will do
you no hurt here, till you have some better destination. At that season
of the year, I believe it will be better for you to come by sea than by
land, but that you will be best able to judge of from the then
circumstances of your part in the world.
Your old friend Stevens is dead of the consumption that has long been
undermining him. God bless you, and send you health.
[Another two year lapse in the letters. D.W.]
BATH, February 26, 1761.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I am very glad to hear that your election is finally
settled, and to say the truth, not sorry that Mr. ---- has been compelled
to do, 'de mauvaise grace', that which he might have done at first in a
friendly and handsome manner. However, take no notice of what is passed,
and live with him as you used to do before; for, in the intercourse of
the world, it is often necessary to seem ignorant of what one knows, and
to have forgotten what one remembers.
I have just now finished Coleman's play, and like it very well; it is
well conducted, and the characters are well preserved. I own, I expected
from the author more dialogue wit; but, as I know that he is a most
scrupulous classic, I believe he did not dare to put in half so much wit
as he could have done, because Terence had not a single grain; and it
would have been 'crimen laesae antiquitatis'. God bless you!
BATH, November 21, 1761.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have this moment received your letter of the 19th. If
I find any alterations by drinking these waters, now six days, it is
rather for the better; but, in six days more, I think I shall find with
more certainty what humor they are in with me; if kind, I will profit of,
but not abuse their kindness; all things have their bounds, 'quos ultra
citrave nequit consistere rectum'; and I will endeavor to nick that
The Queen's jointure is larger than, from SOME REASONS, I expected it
would be, though not greater than the very last precedent authorized.
The case of the late Lord Wilmington was, I fancy, remembered.
I have now good reason to believe that Spain will declare war to us, that
is, that it will very soon, if it has not already, avowedly assist
France, in case the war continues. This will be a great triumph to Mr.
Pitt, and fully justify his plan of beginning with Spain first, and
having the first blow, which is often half the battle.
Here is a great deal of company, and what is commonly called good
company, that is, great quality. I trouble them very little, except at
the pump, where my business calls me; for what is company to a deaf man,
or a deaf man to company?
Lady Brown, whom I have seen, and who, by the way, has got the gout in
her eye, inquired very tenderly after you. And so I elegantly rest,
Yours, till death.
BATH, December 6, 1761.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have been in your debt some time, which, you know,
I am not very apt to be: but it was really for want of specie to pay.
The present state of my invention does not enable me to coin; and you
would have had as little pleasure in reading, as I should have in writing
'le coglionerie' of this place; besides, that I am very little mingled in
them. I do not know whether I shall be able to follow, your advice, and
cut a winner; for, at present, I have neither won nor lost a single
shilling. I will play on this week only; and if I have a good run, I
will carry it off with me; if a bad one, the loss can hardly amount to
anything considerable in seven days, for I hope to see you in town to-
I had a dismal letter from Harte, last week; he tells me that he is at
nurse with a sister in Berkshire; that he has got a confirmed jaundice,
besides twenty other distempers. The true cause of these complaints I
take to be the same that so greatly disordered, and had nearly destroyed
the most august House of Austria, about one hundred and thirty years ago;
I mean Gustavus Adolphus; who neither answered his expectations in point
of profit nor reputation, and that merely by his own fault, in not
writing it in the vulgar tongue; for as to facts I will maintain that it
is one of the best histories extant.
'Au revoir', as Sir Fopling says, and God bless you!
BATH, November 2, 1762.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I arrived here, as I proposed, last Sunday; but as ill
as I feared I should be when I saw you. Head, stomach, and limbs, all
out of order.
I have yet seen nobody but Villettes, who is settled here for good, as it
is called. What consequences has the Duke of Devonshire's resignation
had? He has considerable connections and relations; but whether any of
them are resigned enough to resign with him, is another matter. There
will be, to be sure, as many, and as absurd reports, as there are in the
law books; I do not desire to know either; but inform me of what facts
come to your knowledge, and of such reports only as you believe are
grounded. And so God bless you!
BATH, November 13, 1762.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have received your letter, and believe that your
preliminaries are very near the mark; and, upon that supposition, I think
we have made a tolerable good bargain with Spain; at least full as good
as I expected, and almost as good as I wished, though I do not believe
that we have got ALL Florida; but if we have St. Augustin, I suppose
that, by the figure of 'pars pro toto', will be called all Florida. We
have by no means made so good a bargain with France; for, in truth, what
do we get by it, except Canada, with a very proper boundary of the river
Mississippi! and that is all. As for the restrictions upon the French
fishery in Newfoundland, they are very well 'per la predica', and for the
Commissary whom we shall employ: for he will have a good salary from
hence, to see that those restrictions are complied with; and the French
will double that salary, that he may allow them all to be broken through.
It is plain to me, that the French fishery will be exactly what it was
before the war.
The three Leeward islands, which the French yield to us, are not, all
together, worth half so much as that of St. Lucia, which we give up to
them. Senegal is not worth one quarter of Goree. The restrictions of
the French in the East Indies are as absurd and impracticable as those of
Newfoundland; and you will live to see the French trade to the East
Indies, just as they did before the war. But after all I have said, the
articles are as good as I expected with France, when I considered that no
one single person who carried on this negotiation on our parts was ever
concerned or consulted in any negotiation before. Upon the whole, then,
the acquisition of Canada has cost us fourscore millions sterling. I am
convinced we might have kept Guadaloupe, if our negotiators had known how
to have gone about it.
His most faithful Majesty of Portugal is the best off of anybody in this,
transaction, for he saves his kingdom by it, and has not laid out one
moidore in defense of it. Spain, thank God, in some measure, 'paye les
pots cassis'; for, besides St. Augustin, logwood, etc., it has lost at
least four millions sterling, in money, ships, etc.
Harte is here, who tells me he has been at this place these three years,
excepting some few excursions to his sister; he looks ill, and laments
that he has frequent fits of the yellow jaundice. He complains of his
not having heard from you these four years; you should write to him.
These waters have done me a great deal of good, though I drink but two-
thirds of a pint in the whole day, which is less than the soberest of my
countrymen drink of claret at every meal.
I should naturally think, as you do, that this session will be a stormy
one, that is, if Mr. Pitt takes an active part; but if he is pleased, as
the Ministers say, there is no other AEolus to blow a storm. The Dukes
of Cumberland, Newcastle, and Devonshire, have no better troops to attack
with than the militia; but Pitt alone is ipse agmen. God bless you!
BATH, November 27, 1762.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received your letter this morning, and return you the
ball 'a la volee'. The King's speech is a very prudent one; and as I
suppose that the addresses in answer to it were, as usual, in almost the
same words, my Lord Mayor might very well call them innocent. As his
Majesty expatiates so much upon the great ACHIEVEMENTS of the war, I
cannot help hoping that, when the preliminaries shall be laid before
Parliament IN DUE TIME, which, I suppose, means after the respective
ratifications of all the contracting parties, that some untalked of and
unexpected advantage will break out in our treaty with France; St. Lucia,
at least. I see in the newspapers an article which I by no means like,
in our treaty with Spain; which is, that we shall be at liberty to cut
logwood in the Bay of Campeachy, BUT BY PAYING FOR IT. Who does not see
that this condition may, and probably will, amount to a prohibition, by
the price which the Spaniards may set it at? It was our undoubted right,
and confirmed to us by former treaties, before the war, to cut logwood
gratis; but this new stipulation (if true) gives us a privilege something
like a reprieve to a criminal, with a 'non obstante' to be hanged.
I now drink so little water, that it can neither do me good nor hurt; but
as I bathe but twice a-week, that operation, which does my rheumatic
carcass good, will keep me here some time longer than you had allowed.
Harte is going to publish a new edition of his "Gustavus," in octavo;
which, he tells me, he has altered, and which, I could tell him, he
should translate into English, or it will not sell better than the
former; for, while the world endures, style and manner will be regarded,
at least as much as matter. And so, 'Diem vous aye dans sa sainte
BATH, December 13, 1762.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received your letter this morning, with the inclosed
preliminaries, which we have had here these three days; and I return
them, since you intend to keep them, which is more than I believe the
French will. I am very glad to find that the French are to restore all
the conquests they made upon us in the East Indies during this war; and I
cannot doubt but they will likewise restore to us all the cod that they
shall take within less than three leagues of our coasts in North America
(a distance easily measured, especially at sea), according to the spirit,
though not the letter of the treaty. I am informed that the strong
opposition to the peace will be in the House of Lords, though I cannot
well conceive it; nor can I make out above six or seven, who will be
against it upon a division, unless (which I cannot suppose) some of the
Bishops should vote on the side of their maker. God bless you.
BATH, December 13, 1762.
MY DEAR FRIEND: Yesterday I received your letter, which gave me a very
clear account of the debate in your House. It is impossible for a human
creature to speak well for three hours and a half; I question even if
Belial, who, according to Milton, was the orator of the fallen angels,
ever spoke so long at a time.
There must have been, a trick in Charles Townshend's speaking for the
Preliminaries; for he is infinitely above having an opinion. Lord
Egremont must be ill, or have thoughts of going into some other place;
perhaps into Lord Granville's, who they say is dying: when he dies, the
ablest head in England dies too, take it for all in all.
I shall be in town, barring accidents, this day sevennight, by
dinnertime; when I have ordered a haricot, to which you will be very
welcome, about four o'clock. 'En attendant Dieu vous aye dans sa sainte
BLACKHEATH, June 14, 1763
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received, by the last mail, your letter of the 4th,
from The Hague; so far so good.
You arrived 'sonica' at The Hague, for our Ambassador's entertainment; I
find he has been very civil to you. You are in the right to stop for two
or three days at Hanau, and make your court to the lady of that place.
--[Her Royal Highness Princess Mary of England, Landgravine of Hesse.]--
Your Excellency makes a figure already in the newspapers; and let them,
and others, excellency you as much as they please, but pray suffer not
your own servants to do it.
Nothing new of any kind has happened here since you went; so I will wish
you a good-night, and hope God will bless you.
BLACKHEATH, July 14, 1763
MY DEAR FRIEND: Yesterday I received your letter from Ratisbon, where I
am glad that you are arrived safe. You are, I find, over head and ears
engaged in ceremony and etiquette. You must not yield in anything
essential, where your public character may suffer; but I advise you, at
the same time, to distinguish carefully what may, and what may not affect
it, and to despise some German 'minutiae'; such as one step lower or
higher upon the stairs, a bow more or less, and such sort of trifles.
By what I see in Cressener's letter to you, the cheapness of wine
compensates the quantity, as the cheapness of servants compensates the
number that you must make use of.
Write to your mother often, if it be but three words, to prove your
existence; for, when she does not hear from you, she knows to a
demonstration that you are dead, if not buried.
The inclosed is a letter of the utmost consequence, which I was desired
to forward, with care and speed, to the most Serene LOUIS.
My head is not well to-day. So God bless you!
BLACKHEATH, August 1, 1763.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I hope that by this time you are pretty well settled at
Ratisbon, at least as to the important points of the ceremonial; so that
you may know, to precision, to whom you must give, and from whom you must
require the 'seine Excellentz'. Those formalities are, no doubt,
ridiculous enough in themselves; but yet they are necessary for manners,
and sometimes for business; and both would suffer by laying them quite
I have lately had an attack of a new complaint, which I have long
suspected that I had in my body, 'in actu primo', as the pedants call it,
but which I never felt in 'actu secundo' till last week, and that is a
fit of the stone or gravel. It was, thank God, but a slight one; but it
was 'dans toutes les formes'; for it was preceded by a pain in my loins,
which I at first took for some remains of my rheumatism; but was soon
convinced of my mistake, by making water much blacker than coffee, with a
prodigious sediment of gravel. I am now perfectly easy again, and have
no more indications of this complaint.
God keep you from that and deafness! Other complaints are the common,
and almost the inevitable lot of human nature, but admit of some
mitigation. God bless you!
BLACKHEATH, August 22, 1763
MY DEAR FRIEND: You will, by this post, hear from others that Lord
Egremont died two days ago of an apoplexy; which, from his figure, and
the constant plethora he lived in, was reasonably to be expected. You
will ask me, who is to be Secretary in his room: To which I answer, that
I do not know. I should guess Lord Sandwich, to be succeeded in the
Admiralty by Charles Townshend; unless the Duke of Bedford, who seems to
have taken to himself the department of Europe, should have a mind to it.
This event may perhaps produce others; but, till this happened,
everything was in a state of inaction, and absolutely nothing was done.
Before the next session, this chaos must necessarily take some form,
either by a new jumble of its own atoms, or by mixing them with the more
efficient ones of the opposition.
I see by the newspapers, as well as by your letter, that the difficulties
still exist about your ceremonial at Ratisbon; should they, from pride
and folly, prove insuperable, and obstruct your real business, there is
one expedient which may perhaps remove difficulties, and which I have
often known practiced; but which I believe our people know here nothing
of; it is, to have the character of MINISTER only in your ostensible
title, and that of envoy extraordinary in your pocket, to produce
occasionally, especially if you should be sent to any of the Electors in
your neighborhood; or else, in any transactions that you may have, in
which your title of envoy extraordinary may create great difficulties, to
have a reversal given you, declaring that the temporary suspension of
that character, 'ne donnera pas la moindre atteinte ni a vos droits,
ni a vos pretensions'. As for the rest, divert yourself as well as you
can, and eat and drink as little as you can. And so God bless you!
BLACKHEATH, September 1, 1763
MY DEAR FRIEND: Great news! The King sent for Mr. Pitt last Saturday,
and the conference lasted a full hour; on the Monday following another
conference, which lasted much longer; and yesterday a third, longer
than either. You take for granted, that the treaty was concluded and
ratified; no such matter, for this last conference broke it entirely off;
and Mr. Pitt and Lord Temple went yesterday evening to their respective
country houses. Would you know what it broke off upon, you must ask the
newsmongers, and the coffee-houses; who, I dare say, know it all very
minutely; but I, who am not apt to know anything that I do not know,
honestly and humbly confess, that I cannot tell you; probably one party
asked too much, and the other would grant too little. However, the
King's dignity was not, in my mind, much consulted by their making him
sole plenipotentiary of a treaty, which they were not in all events
determined to conclude. It ought surely to have been begun by some
inferior agent, and his Majesty should only have appeared in rejecting or
ratifying it. Louis XIV. never sat down before a town in person, that
was not sure to be taken.
However, 'ce qui est differe n'est pas perdu'; for this matter must be
taken up again, and concluded before the meeting of the parliament,
and probably upon more disadvantageous terms to the present Ministers,
who have tacitly admitted, by this negotiation, what their enemies have
loudly proclaimed, that they are not able to carry on affairs. So much
'de re politica'.
I have at last done the best office that can be done to most married
people; that is, I have fixed the separation between my brother and his
wife; and the definitive treaty of peace will be proclaimed in about a
fortnight; for the only solid and lasting peace, between a man and his
wife, is, doubtless, a separation. God bless you!
BLACKHEATH, September 30, 1763
MY DEAR FRIEND: You will have known, long before this, from the office,
that the departments are not cast as you wished; for Lord Halifax, as
senior, had of course his choice, and chose the southern, upon account of
the colonies. The Ministry, such as it is, is now settled 'en attendant
mieux'; but, in, my opinion cannot, as they are, meet the parliament.
The only, and all the efficient people they have, are in the House of
Lords: for since Mr. Pitt has firmly engaged Charles Townshend to him,
there is not a man of the court side, in the House of Commons, who has
either abilities or words enough to call a coach. Lord B---- is
certainly playing 'un dessous de cartes', and I suspect that it is with
Mr. Pitt; but what that 'dessous' is, I do not know, though all the
coffeehouses do most exactly.
The present inaction, I believe, gives you leisure enough for 'ennui',
but it gives you time enough too for better things; I mean reading useful
books; and, what is still more useful, conversing with yourself some part
of every day. Lord Shaftesbury recommends self-conversation to all
authors; and I would recommend it to all men; they would be the better
for it. Some people have not time, and fewer have inclination, to enter
into that conversation; nay, very many dread it, and fly to the most
trifling dissipations, in order to avoid it; but, if a man would allot
half an hour every night for this self-conversation, and recapitulate
with himself whatever he has done, right or wrong, in the course of the
day, he would be both the better and the wiser for it. My deafness gives
me more than a sufficient time for self-conversation; and I have found
great advantages from it. My brother and Lady Stanhope are at last
finally parted. I was the negotiator between them; and had so much
trouble in it, that I would much rather negotiate the most difficult
point of the 'jus publicum Sacri Romani Imperii' with the whole Diet of
Ratisbon, than negotiate any point with any woman. If my brother had had
some of those self-conversations, which I recommend, he would not, I
believe, at past sixty, with a crazy, battered constitution, and deaf
into the bargain, have married a young girl, just turned of twenty, full
of health, and consequently of desires. But who takes warning by the
fate of others? This, perhaps, proceeds from a negligence of
selfconversation. God bless you.
BLACKHEATH, October 17, 1763
MY DEAR FRIEND: The last mail brought me your letter of the 2d instant,
as the former had brought me that of the 25th past. I did suppose that
you would be sent over, for the first day of the session; as I never knew
a stricter muster, and no furloughs allowed. I am very sorry for it, for
the reasons you hint at; but, however, you did very prudently, in doing,
'de bonne grace', what you could not help doing; and let that be your
rule in every thing for the rest of your life. Avoid disagreeable things
as much as by dexterity you can; but when they are unavoidable, do them
with seeming willingness and alacrity. Though this journey is ill-timed
for you in many respects, yet, in point of FINANCES, you will be a gainer
by it upon the whole; for, depend upon it, they will keep you here till
the very last day of the session: and I suppose you have sold your
horses, and dismissed some of your servants. Though they seem to
apprehend the first day of the session so much, in my opinion their
danger will be much greater in the course of it.
When you are at Paris, you will of course wait upon Lord Hertford, and
desire him to present you to the King; at the same time make my
compliments to him, and thank him for the very obliging message he left
at my house in town; and tell him, that, had I received it in time from
thence, I would have come to town on purpose to have returned it in
person. If there are any new little books at Paris, pray bring them me.
I have already Voltaire's 'Zelis dans le Bain', his 'Droit du Seigneur',
and 'Olympie'. Do not forget to call once at Madame Monconseil's, and as
often as you please at Madame du Pin's. Au revoir.
BATH, November 24, 1763
MY DEAR FRIEND: I arrived here, as you suppose in your letter, last
Sunday; but after the worst day's journey I ever had in my life: it
snowed and froze that whole morning, and in the evening it rained and
thawed, which made the roads so slippery, that I was six hours coming
post from the Devizes, which is but eighteen miles from hence; so that,
but for the name of coming post, I might as well have walked on foot. I
have not yet quite got over my last violent attack, and am weak and
I have now drank the waters but three days; so that, without a miracle,
I cannot yet expect much alteration, and I do not in the least expect a
miracle. If they proved 'les eaux de Jouvence' to me, that would be a
miracle indeed; but, as the late Pope Lambertini said, 'Fra noi, gli
miracoli sono passati girt un pezzo'.
I have seen Harte, who inquired much after you: he is dejected and
dispirited, and thinks himself much worse than he is, though he has
really a tendency to the jaundice. I have yet seen nobody else, nor do I
know who here is to be seen; for I have not yet exhibited myself to
public view, except at the pump, which, at the time I go to it, is the
most private place in Bath.
After all the fears and hopes, occasioned severally by the meeting of the
parliament, in my opinion, it will prove a very easy session. Mr. Wilkes
is universally given up; and if the ministers themselves do not wantonly
raise difficulties, I think they will meet with none. A majority of two
hundred is a great anodyne. Adieu! God bless you!
BATH, December 3, 1763.
MY DEAR FRIEND: Last post brought me your letter of the 29th past. I
suppose C----- T----- let off his speech upon the Princess's portion,
chiefly to show that he was of the opposition; for otherwise, the point
was not debatable, unless as to the quantum, against which something
might be said; for the late Princess of Orange (who was the eldest
daughter of a king) had no more, and her two sisters but half, if I am
It is a great mercy that Mr. Wilkes, the intrepid defender of our rights
and liberties, is out of danger, and may live to fight and write again in
support of them; and it is no less a mercy, that God hath raised up the
Earl of S------ to vindicate and promote true religion and morality.
These two blessings will justly make an epoch in the annals of this
I have delivered your message to Harte, who waits with impatience for
your letter. He is very happy now in having free access to all Lord
Craven's papers, which, he says, give him great lights into the 'bellum
tricenale'; the old Lord Craven having been the professed and valorous
knight-errant, and perhaps something more, to the Queen of Bohemia; at
least, like Sir Peter Pride, he had the honor of spending great part of
his estate in her royal cause:
I am by no means right yet; I am very weak and flimsy still; but the
doctor assures me that strength and spirits will return; if they do,
'lucro apponam', I will make the best of them; if they do not, I will not
make their want still worse by grieving and regretting them. I have
lived long enough, and observed enough, to estimate most things at their
intrinsic, and not their imaginary value; and, at seventy, I find nothing
much worth either desiring or fearing. But these reflections, which suit
with seventy, would be greatly premature at two-and-thirty. So make the
best of your time; enjoy the present hour, but 'memor ultimae'. God
BATH, December 18, 1763
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received your letter this morning, in which you
reproach me with not having written to you this week. The reason was,
that I did not know what to write. There is that sameness in my life
here, that EVERY DAY IS STILL BUT AS THE FIRST. I see very few people;
and, in the literal sense of the word, I hear nothing.
Mr. L------ and Mr. C----- I hold to be two very ingenious men; and your
image of the two men ruined, one by losing his law-suit, and the other by
carrying it, is a very just one. To be sure, they felt in themselves
uncommon talents for business and speaking, which were to reimburse them.
Harte has a great poetical work to publish, before it be long; he has
shown me some parts of it. He had entitled it "Emblems," but I persuaded
him to alter that name for two reasons; the first was, because they were
not emblems, but fables; the second was, that if they had been emblems,
Quarles had degraded and vilified that name to such a degree, that it is
impossible to make use of it after him; so they are to be called fables,
though moral tales would, in my mind, be the properest name. If you ask
me what I think of those I have seen, I must say, that 'sunt plura bona,
quaedam mediocria, et quaedam----'
Your report of future changes, I cannot think is wholly groundless; for
it still runs strongly in my head, that the mine we talked of will be
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