The Entire PG Edition of Chesterfield's Letters to His Son
The Earl of Chesterfield
Part 14 out of 15
sprung, at or before the end of the session.
I have got a little more strength, but not quite the strength of
Hercules; so that I will not undertake, like him, fifty deflorations in
one night; for I really believe that I could not compass them. So good-
night, and God bless you!
BATH, December 24, 1763.
DEAR FRIEND: I confess I was a good deal surprised at your pressing me so
strongly to influence Parson Rosenhagen, when you well know the
resolution I had made several years ago, and which I have scrupulously
observed ever since, not to concern myself, directly or indirectly, in
any party political contest whatsoever. Let parties go to loggerheads as
much and as long as they please; I will neither endeavor to part them,
nor take the part of either; for I know them all too well. But you say,
that Lord Sandwich has been remarkably civil, and kind to you. I am very
glad of it, and he can by no means impute to you my obstinacy, folly, or
philosophy, call it what you please: you may with great truth assure him,
that you did all you could to obey his commands.
I am sorry to find that you are out of order, but I hope it is only a
cold; should it be anything more, pray consult Dr. Maty, who did you so
much good in your last illness, when the great medicinal Mattadores did
you rather harm. I have found a Monsieur Diafoirus here, Dr. Moisy, who
has really done me a great deal of good; and I am sure I wanted it a
great deal when I came here first. I have recovered some strength, and a
little more will give me as much as I can make use of.
Lady Brown, whom I saw yesterday, makes you many compliments; and I wish
you a merry Christmas, and a good-night. Adieu!
BATH, December 31, 1763
MY DEAR FRIEND: Gravenkop wrote me word, by the last post, that you were
laid up with the gout: but I much question it, that is, whether it is the
gout or not. Your last illness, before you went abroad, was pronounced
the gout, by the skillful, and proved at last a mere rheumatism. Take
care that the same mistake is not made this year; and that by giving you
strong and hot medicines to throw out the gout, they do not inflame the
rheumatism, if it be one.
Mr. Wilkes has imitated some of the great men of antiquity, by going into
voluntary exile: it was his only way of defeating both his creditors and
his prosecutors. Whatever his friends, if he has any, give out of his
returning soon, I will answer for it, that it will be a long time before
that soon comes.
I have been much out of order these four days of a violent cold which I
do not know how I got, and which obliged me to suspend drinking the
waters: but it is now so much better, that I propose resuming them for
this week, and paying my court to you in town on Monday or Tuesday seven-
night: but this is 'sub spe rati' only. God bless you!
BLACKHEATH, July 20, 1764.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have this moment received your letter of the 3d from
Prague, but I never received that which you mention from Ratisbon; this
made me think you in such rapid motion, that I did not know where to take
aim. I now suppose that you are arrived, though not yet settled, at
Dresden; your audiences and formalities are, to be sure, over, and that
is great ease of mind to you.
I have no political events to acquaint you with; the summer is not the
season for them, they ripen only in winter; great ones are expected
immediately before the meeting of parliament, but that, you know, is
always the language of fears and hopes. However, I rather believe that
there will be something patched up between the INS and the OUTS.
The whole subject of conversation, at present, is the death and will of
Lord Bath: he has left above twelve hundred thousand pounds in land and
money; four hundred thousand pounds in cash, stocks, and mortgages; his
own estate, in land, was improved to fifteen thousand pounds a-year, and
the Bradford estate, which he ----- is as much; both which, at only five-
and twenty years' purchase, amount to eight hundred thousand pounds; and
all this he has left to his brother, General Pulteney, and in his own
disposal, though he never loved him. The legacies he has left are
trifling; for, in truth, he cared for nobody: the words GIVE and BEQUEATH
were too shocking for him to repeat, and so he left all in one word to
his brother. The public, which was long the dupe of his simulation and
dissimulation, begins to explain upon him; and draws such a picture of
him as I gave you long ago.
Your late secretary has been with me three or four times; he wants
something or another, and it seems all one to him what, whether civil or
military; in plain English, he wants bread. He has knocked at the doors
of some of the ministers, but to no purpose. I wish with all my heart
that I could help him: I told him fairly that I could not, but advised
him to find some channel to Lord B-----, which, though a Scotchman, he
told me he could not. He brought a packet of letters from the office to
you, which I made him seal up; and keep it for you, as I suppose it makes
up the series of your Ratisbon letters.
As for me, I am just what I was when you left me, that is, nobody. Old
age steals upon me insensibly. I grow weak and decrepit, but do not
suffer, and so I am content.
Forbes brought me four books of yours, two of which were Bielefeldt's
"Letters," in which, to my knowledge, there are many notorious lies.
Make my compliments to Comte Einsiedel, whom I love and honor much; and
so good-night to 'seine Excellentz'.
Now our correspondence may be more regular, and I expect a letter from
you every fortnight. I will be regular on my part: but write oftener to
your mother, if it be but three lines.
BLACKHEATH, July 27,1764
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received, two days ago, your letter of the 11th from
Dresden, where I am very glad that, you are safely arrived at last. The
prices of the necessaries of life are monstrous there; and I do not
conceive how the poor natives subsist at all, after having been so long
and so often plundered by their own as well as by other sovereigns.
As for procuring you either the title or the appointments of
Plenipotentiary, I could as soon procure them from the Turkish as from
the English Ministry; and, in truth, I believe they have it not to give.
Now to come to your civil list, if one may compare small things with
great: I think I have found out a better refreshment for it than you
propose; for to-morrow I shall send to your cashier, Mr. Larpent, five
hundred pounds at once, for your use, which, I presume, is better than by
quarterly payments; and I am very apt to think that next midsummer day,
he will have the same sum, and for the same use, consigned to him.
It is reported here, and I believe not without some foundation, that the
queen of Hungary has acceded to the Family Compact between France and
Spain: if so, I am sure it behooves us to form in time a counter
alliance, of at least equal strength; which I could easily point out, but
which, I fear, is not thought of here.
The rage of marrying is very prevalent; so that there will be probably a
great crop of cuckolds next winter, who are at present only 'cocus en
herbs'. It will contribute to population, and so far must be allowed to
be a public benefit. Lord G------, Mr. B-------, and Mr. D-------, are,
in this respect, very meritorious; for they have all married handsome
women, without one shilling fortune. Lord must indeed take some pains to
arrive at that dignity: but I dare say he will bring it about, by the
help of some young Scotch or Irish officer. Good-night, and God bless
BLACKHEATH, September 3, 1764.
DEAR FRIEND: I have received your letter of the 13th past. I see that
your complete arrangement approaches, and you need not be in a hurry to
give entertainments, since so few others do.
Comte Flemming is the man in the world the best calculated to retrieve
the Saxon finances, which have been all this century squandered and
lavished with the most absurd profusion: he has certainly abilities,
and I believe integrity; I dare answer for him, that the gentleness and
flexibility of his temper will not prevail with him to yield to the
importunities of craving and petulant applications. I see in him another
Sully; and therefore I wish he were at the head of our finances.
France and Spain both insult us, and we take it too tamely; for this is,
in my opinion, the time for us to talk high to them. France, I am
persuaded, will not quarrel with us till it has got a navy at least equal
to ours, which cannot be these three or four years at soonest; and then,
indeed, I believe we shall hear of something or other; therefore, this is
the moment for us to speak loud; and we shall be feared, if we do not
show that we fear.
Here is no domestic news of changes and chances in the political world;
which, like oysters, are only in season in the R months, when the
parliament sits. I think there will be some then, but of what kind, God
I have received a book for you, and one for myself, from Harte. It is
upon agriculture, and will surprise you, as I confess it did me. This
work is not only in English, but good and elegant English; he has even
scattered graces upon his subject; and in prose, has come very near
Virgil's "Georgics" in verse. I have written to him, to congratulate his
happy transformation. As soon as I can find an opportunity, I will send
you your copy. You (though no Agricola) will read it with pleasure.
I know Mackenzie, whom you mention. 'C'est une delie; sed cave'.
Make mine and Lady Chesterfield's compliments to Comte et Comtesse
Flemming; and so, 'Dieu vous aye en sa sainte garde'!
BLACKHEATH, September 14, 1764
MY DEAR FRIEND: Yesterday I received your letter of the 30th past, by
which I find that you had not then got mine, which I sent you the day
after I had received your former; you have had no great loss of it; for,
as I told you in my last, this inactive season of the year supplies no
materials for a letter; the winter may, and probably will, produce an
abundant crop, but of what grain I neither know, guess, nor care. I take
it for granted, that Lord B------ 'surnagera encore', but by the
assistance of what bladders or cork-waistcoats God only knows. The death
of poor Mr. Legge, the epileptic fits of the Duke of Devonshire, for
which he is gone to Aix-la-Chapelle, and the advanced age of the Duke of
Newcastle, seem to facilitate an accommodation, if Mr. Pitt and Lord Bute
are inclined to it.
You ask me what I think of the death of poor Iwan, and of the person who
ordered it. You may remember that I often said, she would murder or
marry him, or probably both; she has chosen the safest alternative; and
has now completed her character of femme forte, above scruples and
hesitation. If Machiavel were alive, she would probably be his heroine,
as Caesar Borgia was his hero. Women are all so far Machiavelians, that
they are never either good or bad by halves; their passions are too
strong, and their reason too weak, to do anything with moderation. She
will, perhaps, meet, before it is long, with some Scythian as free from
prejudices as herself. If there is one Oliver Cromwell in the three
regiments of guards, he will probably, for the sake of his dear country,
depose and murder her; for that is one and the same thing in Russia.
You seem now to have settled, and 'bien nippe' at Dresden. Four
sedentary footmen, and one running one, 'font equipage leste'. The
German ones will give you, 'seine Excellentz'; and the French ones, if
you have any, Monseigneur.
My own health varies, as usual, but never deviates into good. God bless
you, and send you better!
BLACKHEATH, October 4, 1764.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have now your last letter, of the 16th past, lying
before me, and I gave your inclosed to Grevenkop, which has put him into
a violent bustle to execute your commissions, as well and as cheap as
possible. I refer him to his own letter. He tells you true as to
Comtesse Cosel's diamonds, which certainly nobody will buy here, unsight
unseen, as they call it; so many minutiae concurring to increase or
lessen the value of a diamond. Your Cheshire cheese, your Burton ale and
beer, I charge myself with, and they shall be sent you as soon as
possible. Upon this occasion I will give you a piece of advice, which by
experience I know to be useful. In all commissions, whether from men or
women, 'point de galanterie', bring them in your account, and be paid to
the uttermost farthing; but if you would show them 'une galanterie',
let your present be of something that is not in your commission,
otherwise you will be the 'Commissionaire banal' of all the women of
Saxony. 'A propos', Who is your Comtesse de Cosel? Is she daughter, or
grand-daughter, of the famous Madame de Cosel, in King Augustus's time?
Is she young or old, ugly or handsome?
I do not wonder that people are wonderfully surprised at our tameness and
forbearance, with regard to France and Spain. Spain, indeed, has lately
agreed to our cutting log wood, according to the treaty, and sent strict
orders to their governor to allow it; but you will observe too, that
there is not one word of reparation for the losses we lately sustained
there. But France is not even so tractable; it will pay but half the
money due, upon a liquidated account, for the maintenance of their
prisoners. Our request, to have the Comte d'Estaing recalled and
censured, they have absolutely rejected, though, by the laws of war, he
might be hanged for having twice broke his parole. This does not do
France honor: however, I think we shall be quiet, and that at the only
time, perhaps this century, when we might, with safety, be otherwise: but
this is nothing new, nor the first time, by many, when national honor and
interest have been sacrificed to private. It has always been so: and one
may say, upon this occasion, what Horace says upon another, 'Nam fuit
I have seen 'les Contes de Guillaume Vade', and like most of them so
little, that I can hardly think them Voltaire's, but rather the scraps
that have fallen from his table, and been worked up by inferior workmen,
under his name. I have not seen the other book you mention, the
'Dictionnaire Portatif'. It is not yet come over.
I shall next week go to take my winter quarters in London, the weather
here being very cold and damp, and not proper for an old, shattered, and
cold carcass, like mine. In November I will go to the Bath, to careen
myself for the winter, and to shift the scene. Good-night.
LONDON, October 19, 1764.
MY DEAR FRIEND: Yesterday morning Mr. ----- came to me, from Lord
Halifax, to ask me whether I thought you would approve of vacating your
seat in parliament, during the remainder of it, upon a valuable
consideration, meaning MONEY. My answer was, that I really did not know
your disposition upon that subject: but that I knew you would be very
willing, in general, to accommodate them, so far as lay in your power:
that your election, to my knowledge, had cost you two thousand pounds;
that this parliament had not sat above half its time; and that, for my
part, I approved of the measure well enough, provided you had an
equitable equivalent. I take it for granted that you will have a letter
from ------, by this post, to that effect, so that you must consider what
you will do. What I advise is this: Give them a good deal of 'Galbanum'
in the first part of your letter. 'Le Galbanum ne coute rien'; and then
say that you are willing to do as they please; but that you hope an
equitable consideration will be had to the two thousand pounds, which
your seat cost you in the present parliament, of which not above half the
term is expired. Moreover, that you take the liberty to remind them,
that your being sent from Ratisbon, last session, when you were just
settled there, put you to the expense of three or four hundred pounds,
for which you were allowed nothing; and that, therefore, you hope they
will not think one thousand pounds too much, considering all these
circumstances: but that, in all events, you will do whatever they desire.
Upon the whole, I think this proposal advantageous to you, as you
probably will not make use of your seat this parliament; and, further, as
it will secure you from another unpaid journey from Dresden, in case they
meet, or fear to meet, with difficulties in any ensuing session of the
present parliament. Whatever one must do, one should do 'de bonne
grace'. 'Dixi'. God bless you!
BATH, November 10, 1764.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I am much concerned at the account you gave me of
yourself, in your last letter. There is, to be sure, at such a town as
Dresden, at least some one very skillful physician, whom I hope you have
consulted; and I would have you acquaint him with all your several
attacks of this nature, from your great one at Laubach, to your late one
at Dresden: tell him, too, that in your last illness in England, the
physicians mistook your case, and treated it as the gout, till Maty came,
who treated it as a rheumatism, and cured you. In my own opinion,
you have never had the gout, but always the rheumatism; which, to my
knowledge, is as painful as the gout can possibly be, and should be
treated in a quite different way; that is, by cooling medicines and
regimen, instead of those inflammatory cordials which they always
administer where they suppose the gout, to keep it, as they say, out of
I have been here now just a week; but have hitherto drank so little of
the water, that I can neither speak well nor ill of it. The number of
people in this place is infinite; but very few whom I know. Harte seems
settled here for life. He is not well, that is certain; but not so ill
neither as he thinks himself, or at least would be thought.
I long for your answer to my last letter, containing a certain proposal,
which, by this time, I suppose has been made you, and which, in the main,
I approve of your accepting.
God bless you, my dear friend! and send you better health! Adieu.
LONDON, February 26, 1765
MY DEAR FRIEND: Your last letter, of the 5th, gave me as much pleasure
as your former had given me uneasiness; and Larpent's acknowledgment of
his negligence frees you from those suspicions, which I own I did
entertain, and which I believe every one would, in the same concurrence
of circumstances, have entertained. So much for that.
You may depend upon what I promised you, before midsummer next, at
farthest, and AT LEAST.
All I can say of the affair between you, of the Corps Diplomatique, and
the Saxon Ministers, is, 'que voila bien du bruit pour une omelette au
lard'. It will most certainly be soon made up; and in that negotiation
show yourself as moderate and healing as your instructions from hence
will allow, especially to Comte de Flemming. The King of Prussia, I
believe, has a mind to insult him personally, as an old enemy, or else to
quarrel with Saxony, that dares not quarrel with him; but some of the
Corps Diplomatique here assure me it is only a pretense to recall his
envoy, and to send, when matters shall be made up, a little secretary
there, 'a moins de fraix', as he does now to Paris and London.
Comte Bruhl is much in fashion here; I like him mightily; he has very
much 'le ton de la bonne campagnie'. Poor Schrader died last Saturday,
without the least pain or sickness. God bless you!
LONDON, April 22, 1765
MY DEAR FRIEND: The day before yesterday I received your letter of the
3d instant. I find that your important affair of the ceremonial is
adjusted at last, as I foresaw it would be. Such minutiae are often laid
hold on as a pretense, for powers who have a mind to quarrel; but are
never tenaciously insisted upon where there is neither interest nor
inclination to break. Comte Flemming, though a hot, is a wise man; and I
was sure would not break, both with England and Hanover, upon so trifling
a point, especially during a minority. 'A propos' of a minority; the
King is to come to the House to-morrow, to recommend a bill to settle a
Regency, in case of his demise while his successor is a minor. Upon the
King's late illness, which was no trifling one, the whole nation cried
out aloud for such a bill, for reasons which will readily occur to you,
who know situations, persons, and characters here. I do not know the
particulars of this intended bill; but I wish it may be copied exactly
from that which was passed in the late King's time, when the present King
was a minor. I am sure there cannot be a better.
You inquire about Monsieur de Guerchy's affair; and I will give you as
succinct an account as I can of so extraordinary and perplexed a
transaction: but without giving you my own opinion of it by the common
post. You know what passed at first between Mr. de Guerchy and Monsieur
d'Eon, in which both our Ministers and Monsieur de Guerchy, from utter
inexperience in business, puzzled themselves into disagreeable
difficulties. About three or four months ago, Monsieur du Vergy
published in a brochure, a parcel of letters, from himself to the Duc de
Choiseul; in which he positively asserts that Monsieur de Guerchy
prevailed with him (Vergy) to come over into England to assassinate
d'Eon; the words are, as well as I remember, 'que ce n'etoit pas pour se
servir de sa plume, mais de son epee, qu'on le demandoit en Angleterre'.
This accusation of assassination, you may imagine, shocked Monsieur de
Guerchy, who complained bitterly to our Ministers; and they both puzzled
on for some time, without doing anything, because they did not know what
to do. At last du Vergy, about two months ago, applied himself to the
Grand Jury of Middlesex, and made oath that Mr. de Guerchy had hired him
(du Vergy) to assassinate d'Eon. Upon this deposition, the Grand jury
found a bill of intended murder against Monsieur de Guerchy; which bill,
however, never came to the Petty Jury. The King granted a 'noli
prosequi' in favor of Monsieur de Guerchy; and the Attorney-General is
actually prosecuting du Vergy. Whether the King can grant a 'noli
prosequi' in a criminal case, and whether 'le droit des gens' extends to
criminal cases, are two points which employ our domestic politicians, and
the whole Corps Diplomatique. 'Enfin', to use a very coarse and vulgar
saying, 'il y a de la merde au bout du baton, quelque part'.
I see and hear these storms from shore, 'suave mari magno', etc. I enjoy
my own security and tranquillity, together with better health than I had
reason to expect at my age, and with my constitution: however, I feel a
gradual decay, though a gentle one; and I think that I shall not tumble,
but slide gently to the bottom of the hill of life. When that will be,
I neither know nor care, for I am very weary. God bless you!
Mallet died two days ago, of a diarrhoea, which he had carried with him
to France, and brought back again hither.
BLACKHEATH, July 2, 1765
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have this moment received your letter of the 22d past;
and I delayed answering your former in daily, or rather hourly
expectation of informing you of the birth of a new Ministry; but in vain;
for, after a thousand conferences, all things remain still in the state
which I described to you in my last. Lord S. has, I believe, given you
a pretty true account of the present state of things; but my Lord is much
mistaken, I am persuaded, when he says that THE KING HAS THOUGHT PROPER
TO RE-ESTABLISH HIS OLD SERVANTS IN THE MANAGEMENT OF HIS AFFAIRS; for
shows them all the public dislike possible; and, at his levee, hardly
speaks to any of them; but speaks by the hour to anybody else.
Conferences, in the meantime, go on, of which it is easy to guess the
main subject, but impossible, for me at least, to know the particulars;
but this I will venture to prophesy, that the whole will soon centre in
You seem not to know the character of the Queen: here it is. She is a
good woman, a good wife, a tender mother; and an unmeddling Queen. The
King loves her as a woman; but, I verily believe, has never yet spoke one
word to her about business. I have now told you all that I know of these
affairs; which, I believe, is as much as anybody else knows, who is not
in the secret. In the meantime, you easily guess that surmises,
conjectures, and reports are infinite; and if, as they say, truth is but
one, one million at least of these reports must be false; for they differ
You have lost an honest servant by the death of poor Louis; I would
advise you to take a clever young Saxon in his room, of whose character
you may get authentic testimonies, instead of sending for one to France,
whose character you can only know from far.
When I hear more, I will write more; till when, God bless you!
BLACKHEATH, July 15, 1765
MY DEAR FRIEND: I told you in my last, that you should hear from me
again, as soon as I had anything more to write; and now I have too much
to write, therefore will refer you to the "Gazette," and the office
letters, for all that has been done; and advise you to suspend your
opinion, as I do, about all that is to be done. Many more changes are
talked of, but so idly, and variously, that I give credit to none of
them. There has been pretty clean sweeping already; and I do not
remember, in my time, to have seen so much at once, as an entire new
Board of Treasury, and two new Secretaries of State, 'cum multis aliis',
Here is a new political arch almost built, but of materials of so
different a nature, and without a key-stone, that it does not, in my
opinion, indicate either strength or duration. It will certainly require
repairs, and a key-stone next winter; and that key-stone will, and must
necessarily be, Mr. Pitt. It is true he might have been that keystone
now; and would have accepted it, but not without Lord Temple's consent,
and Lord Temple positively refused. There was evidently some trick in
this, but what is past my conjecturing. 'Davus sum, non OEdipus'.
There is a manifest interregnum in the Treasury; for I do suppose that
Lord Rockingham and Mr. Dowdeswell will not think proper to be very
active. General Conway, who is your Secretary, has certainly parts at
least equal to his business, to which, I dare say, he will apply. The
same may be said, I believe, of the Duke of Grafton; and indeed there is
no magic requisite for the executive part of those employments. The
ministerial part is another thing; they must scramble with their fellow-
servants, for power and favor, as well as they can. Foreign affairs are
not so much as mentioned, and, I verily believe, not thought of. But
surely some counterbalance would be necessary to the Family compact; and,
if not soon contracted, will be too late. God bless you!
BLACKHEATH, August 17, 1765
MY DEAR FRIEND: You are now two letters in my debt; and I fear the gout
has been the cause of your contracting that debt. When you are not able
to write yourself, let your Secretary send me two or three lines to
acquaint me how you are.
You have now seen by the London "Gazette," what changes have really been
made at court; but, at the same time, I believe you have seen that there
must be more, before a Ministry can be settled; what those will be, God
knows. Were I to conjecture, I should say that the whole will centre,
before it is long, in Mr. Pitt and Co., the present being an
heterogeneous jumble of youth and caducity, which cannot be efficient.
Charles Townshend calls the present a Lutestring Ministry; fit only for
the summer. The next session will be not only a warm, but a violent one,
as you will easily judge; if you look over the names of the INS and of
I feel this beginning of the autumn, which is already very cold: the
leaves are withered, fall apace, and seem to intimate that I must follow
them; which I shall do without reluctance, being extremely weary of this
silly world. God bless you, both in it and after it!
BLACKHEATH, August 25, 1765
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received but four days ago your letter of the 2d
instant. I find by it that you are well, for you are in good spirits.
Your notion of the new birth or regeneration of the Ministry is a very
just one; and that they have not yet the true seal of the covenant is,
I dare say, very true; at least it is not in the possession of either of
the Secretaries of State, who have only the King's seal; nor do I believe
(whatever his Grace may imagine) that it is even in the possession of the
Lord Privy Seal. I own I am lost, in considering the present situation
of affairs; different conjectures present themselves to my mind, but none
that it can rest upon. The next session must necessarily clear up
matters a good deal; for I believe it will be the warmest and most
acrimonious one that has been known, since that of the Excise. The late
Ministry, THE PRESENT OPPOSITION, are determined to attack Lord B-----
publicly in parliament, and reduce the late Opposition, THE PRESENT
MINISTRY, to protect him publicly, in consequence of their supposed
treaty with him. 'En attendant mieux', the paper war is carried on with
much fury and scurrility on all sides, to the great entertainment of such
lazy and impartial people as myself: I do not know whether you have the
"Daily Advertiser," and the "Public Advertiser," in which all political
letters are inserted, and some very well-written ones on both sides; but
I know that they amuse me, 'tant bien que mal', for an hour or two every
morning. Lord T------ is the supposed author of the pamphlet you
mention; but I think it is above him. Perhaps his brother C---- T------,
who is by no means satisfied with the present arrangement, may have
assisted him privately. As to this latter, there was a good ridiculous
paragraph in the newspapers two or three days ago. WE HEAR THAT THE
RIGHT HONORABLE MR. C-----T------ IS INDISPOSED AT HIS HOUSE IN
OXFORDSHIRE, OF A PAIN IN HIS SIDE; BUT IT IS NOT SAID IN WHICH SIDE.
I do not find that the Duke of York has yet visited you; if he should, it
may be expensive, 'mais on trouvera moyen'. As for the lady, if you
should be very sharp set for some English flesh, she has it amply in her
power to supply you if she pleases. Pray tell me in your next, what you
think of, and how you like, Prince Henry of Prussia. God bless you!
MY DEAR FRIEND: Your great character of Prince Henry, which I take to be
a very just one, lowers the King of Prussia's a great deal; and probably
that is the cause of their being so ill together. But the King of
Prussia, with his good parts, should reflect upon that trite and true
maxim, 'Qui invidet minor', or Mr. de la Rouchefoucault's, 'Que l'envie
est la plus basse de toutes les passions, puisqu'on avoue bien des
crimes, mais que personae n'avoue l'envie'. I thank God, I never was
sensible of that dark and vile passion, except that formerly I have
sometimes envied a successful rival with a fine woman. But now that
cause is ceased, and consequently the effects.
What shall I, or rather what can I tell you of the political world here?
The late Ministers accuse the present with having done nothing, the
present accuse the late ones with having done much worse than nothing.
Their writers abuse one another most scurrilously, but sometimes with
wit. I look upon this to be 'peloter en attendant partie', till battle
begins in St., Stephen's Chapel. How that will end, I protest I cannot
conjecture; any farther than this, that if Mr. Pitt does not come into
the assistance of the present ministers, they will have much to do to
stand their ground. C----- T------ will play booty; and who else have
they? Nobody but C-----, who has only good sense, but not the necessary
talents nor experience, 'AEre ciere viros martemque accendere cantu'.
I never remember, in all my time, to have seen so problematical a state
of affairs, and a man would be much puzzled which side to bet on.
Your guest, Miss C----- , is another problem which I cannot solve. She
no more wanted the waters of Carlsbadt than you did. Is it to show the
Duke of Kingston that he cannot live without her? a dangerous experiment!
which may possibly convince him that he can. There is a trick no doubt
in it; but what, I neither know nor care; you did very well to show her
civilities, 'cela ne gute jamais rien'. I will go to my waters, that is,
the Bath waters, in three weeks or a month, more for the sake of bathing
than of drinking. The hot bath always promotes my perspiration, which is
sluggish, and supples my stiff rheumatic limbs. 'D'ailleurs', I am at
present as well, and better than I could reasonably expect to be, 'annu
septuagesimo primo'. May you be so as long, 'y mas'! God bless you!
LONDON, October 25, 1765
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received your letter of the 10th 'sonica'; for I set
out for Bath to-morrow morning.
If the use of those waters does me no good, the shifting the scene for
some time will at least amuse me a little; and at my age, and with my
infirmities, 'il faut faire de tout bois feche'. Some variety is as
necessary for the mind as some medicines are for the body.
Here is a total stagnation of politics, which, I suppose, will continue
till the parliament sits to do business, and that will not be till about
the middle of January; for the meeting on the 17th December is only for
the sake of some new writs. The late ministers threaten the present
ones; but the latter do not seem in the least afraid of the former, and
for a very good reason, which is, that they have the distribution of the
loaves and fishes. I believe it is very certain that Mr. Pitt will never
come into this, or any other administration: he is absolutely a cripple
all the year, and in violent pain at least half of it. Such physical
ills are great checks to two of the strongest passions to which human
nature is liable, love and ambition. Though I cannot persuade myself
that the present ministry can be long lived, I can as little imagine who
or what can succeed them, 'telle est la-disette de sujets papables'.
The Duke of swears that he will have Lord personally attacked in both
Houses; but I do not see how, without endangering himself at the same
Miss C------ is safely arrived here, and her Duke is fonder of her than
ever. It was a dangerous experiment that she tried, in leaving him so
long; but it seems she knew her man.
I pity you for the inundation of your good countrymen, which overwhelms
you; 'je sais ce qu'en vaut l'aune. It is, besides, expensive, but, as I
look upon the expense to be the least evil of the two, I will see if a
New-Year's gift will not make it up.
As I am now upon the wing, I will only add, God bless you!
BATH, November 28, 1765
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have this moment received your letter of the 10th.
I have now been here a month, bathing and drinking the waters, for
complaints much of the same kind as yours, I mean pains in my legs, hips,
and arms: whether gouty or rheumatic, God knows; but, I believe, both,
that fight without a decision in favor of either, and have absolutely
reduced me to the miserable situation of the Sphinx's riddle, to walk
upon three legs; that is, with the assistance of my stick, to walk, or
rather hobble, very indifferently. I wish it were a declared gout, which
is the distemper of a gentleman; whereas the rheumatism is the distemper
of a hackney-coachman or chairman, who is obliged to be out in all
weathers and at all hours.
I think you will do very right to ask leave, and I dare say you will
easily get it, to go to the baths in Suabia; that is, supposing that you
have consulted some skillful physician, if such a one there be, either at
Dresden or at Leipsic, about the nature of your distemper, and the nature
of those baths; but, 'suos quisque patimur manes'. We have but a bad
bargain, God knows, of this life, and patience is the only way not to
make bad worse. Mr. Pitt keeps his bed here, with a very real gout, and
not a political one, as is often suspected.
Here has been a congress of most of the 'ex Ministres'. If they have
raised a battery, as I suppose they have, it is a masked one, for nothing
has transpired; only they confess that they intend a most vigorous
attack. 'D'ailleurs', there seems to be a total suspension of all
business, till the meeting of the parliament, and then 'Signa canant'.
I am very glad that at this time you are out of it: and for reasons that
I need not mention: you would certainly have been sent for over, and, as
before, not paid for your journey.
Poor Harte is very ill, and condemned to the Hot well at Bristol. He is
a better poet than philosopher: for all this illness and melancholy
proceeds originally from the ill success of his "Gustavus Adolphus."
He is grown extremely devout, which I am very glad of, because that is
always a comfort to the afflicted.
I cannot present Mr. Larpent with my New-Year's gift, till I come to
town, which will be before Christmas at farthest; till when, God bless
LONDON, December 27, 1765.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I arrived here from Bath last Monday, rather, but not
much better, than when I went over there. My rheumatic pains, in my legs
and hips, plague me still, and I must never expect to be quite free from
You have, to be sure, had from the office an account of what the
parliament did, or rather did not do, the day of their meeting; and the
same point will be the great object at their next meeting; I mean the
affair of our American Colonies, relatively to the late imposed Stamp-
duty, which our Colonists absolutely refuse to pay. The Administration
are for some indulgence and forbearance to those froward children of
their mother country; the Opposition are for taking vigorous, as they
call them, but I call them violent measures; not less than 'les
dragonnades'; and to have the tax collected by the troops we have there.
For my part, I never saw a froward child mended by whipping; and I would
not have the mother country become a stepmother. Our trade to America
brings in, 'communibus annis', two millions a year; and the Stamp-duty is
estimated at but one hundred thousand pounds a year; which I would by no
means bring into the stock of the Exchequer, at the loss or even the risk
of a million a year to the national stock.
I do not tell you of the Garter given away yesterday, because the
newspapers will; but, I must observe, that the Prince of Brunswick's
riband is a mark of great distinction to that family; which I believe, is
the first (except our own Royal Family) that has ever had two blue
ribands at a time; but it must be owned they deserve them.
One hears of nothing now in town, but the separation of men and their
wives. Will Finch, the Ex-vice Chamberlain, Lord Warwick, and your
friend Lord Bolingbroke. I wonder at none of them for parting; but I
wonder at many for still living together; for in this country it is
certain that marriage is not well understood.
I have this day sent Mr. Larpent two hundred pounds for your Christmas-
box, of which I suppose he will inform you by this post. Make this
Christmas as merry a one as you can; for 'pour le peu du bon tems qui
nous reste, rien nest si funeste, qu'un noir chagrin'. For the new years
--God send you many, and happy ones! Adieu.
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
Always made the best of the best, and never made bad worse
Be neither transported nor depressed by the accidents of life
Doing, 'de bonne grace', what you could not help doing
EVERY DAY IS STILL BUT AS THE FIRST
Everything has a better and a worse side
Extremely weary of this silly world
Gainer by your misfortune
I, who am not apt to know anything that I do not know
If I cared to know, you should have cared to have written
Intrinsic, and not their imaginary value
My own health varies, as usual, but never deviates into good
National honor and interest have been sacrificed to private
Neither abilities or words enough to call a coach
Neither know nor care, (when I die) for I am very weary
Never saw a froward child mended by whipping
Never to trust implicitly to the informations of others
Not make their want still worse by grieving and regretting them
Not tumble, but slide gently to the bottom of the hill of life
Nothing much worth either desiring or fearing
Often necessary to seem ignorant of what one knows
Only solid and lasting peace, between a man and his wife
Oysters, are only in season in the R months
Patience is the only way not to make bad worse
Recommends self-conversation to all authors
Return you the ball 'a la volee'
Settled here for good, as it is called
Stamp-duty, which our Colonists absolutely refuse to pay
Thinks himself much worse than he is
To seem to have forgotten what one remembers
We shall be feared, if we do not show that we fear
Whatever one must do, one should do 'de bonne grace'
Who takes warning by the fate of others?
Women are all so far Machiavelians
LETTERS TO HIS SON
By the EARL OF CHESTERFIELD
on the Fine Art of becoming a
MAN OF THE WORLD
LONDON, February 11, 1766
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received two days ago your letter of the 25th past;
and your former, which you mention in it, but ten days ago; this may
easily be accounted for from the badness of the weather, and consequently
of the roads. I hardly remember so severe a win ter; it has occasioned
many illnesses here. I am sure it pinched my crazy carcass so much that,
about three weeks ago, I was obliged to be let blood twice in four days,
which I found afterward was very necessary, by the relief it gave to my
head and to the rheumatic pains in my limbs; and from the execrable kind
of blood which I lost.
Perhaps you expect from me a particular account of the present state of
affairs here; but if you do you will be disappointed; for no man living
(and I still less than anyone) knows what it is; it varies, not only
daily, but hourly.
Most people think, and I among the rest, that the date of the present
Ministers is pretty near out; but how soon we are to have a new style,
God knows. This, however, is certain, that the Ministers had a contested
election in the House of Commons, and got it but by eleven votes; too
small a majority to carry anything; the next day they lost a question in
the House of Lords, by three. The question in the House of Lords was, to
enforce the execution of the Stamp-act in the colonies 'vi et armis'.
What conclusions you will draw from these premises, I do not know; but I
protest I draw none; but only stare at the present undecipherable state
of affairs, which, in fifty years' experience, I have never seen anything
like. The Stamp-act has proved a most pernicious measure; for, whether
it is repealed or not, which is still very doubtful, it has given such
terror to the Americans, that our trade with them will not be, for some
years, what it used to be; and great numbers of our manufacturers at home
will be turned a starving for want of that employment which our very
profitable trade to America found them: and hunger is always the cause of
tumults and sedition.
As you have escaped a fit of the gout in this severe cold weather, it is
to be hoped you may be entirely free from it, till next winter at least.
P. S. Lord having parted with his wife, now, keeps another w---e, at a
great expense. I fear he is totally undone.
LONDON, March 17, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: You wrong me in thinking me in your debt; for I never
receive a letter of yours, but I answer it by the next post, or the next
but one, at furthest: but I can easily conceive that my two last letters
to you may have been drowned or frozen in their way; for portents and
prodigies of frost, snow, and inundations, have been so frequent this
winter, that they have almost lost their names.
You tell me that you are going to the baths of BADEN; but that puzzles me
a little, so I recommend this letter to the care of Mr. Larpent, to
forward to you; for Baden I take to be the general German word for baths,
and the particular ones are distinguished by some epithet, as Weissbaden,
Carlsbaden, etc. I hope they are not cold baths, which I have a very ill
opinion of, in all arthritic or rheumatic cases; and your case I take to
be a compound of both, but rather more of the latter.
You will probably wonder that I tell you nothing of public matters; upon
which I shall be as secret as Hotspur's gentle Kate, who would not tell
what she did not know; but what is singular, nobody seems to know any
more of them than I do. People gape, stare, conjecture, and refine.
Changes of the Ministry, or in the Ministry at least, are daily reported
and foretold, but of what kind, God only knows. It is also very doubtful
whether Mr. Pitt will come into the Administration or not; the two
present Secretaries are extremely desirous that he should; but the others
think of the horse that called the man to its assistance. I will say
nothing to you about American affairs, because I have not pens, ink, or
paper enough to give you an intelligible account of them. They have been
the subjects of warm and acrimonious debates, both in the Lords and
Commons, and in all companies.
The repeal of the Stamp-act is at last carried through. I am glad of it,
and gave my proxy for it, because I saw many more inconveniences from the
enforcing than from the repealing it.
Colonel Browne was with me the other day, and assured me that he left you
very well. He said he saw you at Spa, but I did not remember him; though
I remember his two brothers, the Colonel and the ravisher, very well.
Your Saxon colonel has the brogue exceedingly. Present my respects to
Count Flemming; I am very sorry for the Countess's illness; she was a
most well-bred woman.
You would hardly think that I gave a dinner to the Prince of Brunswick,
your old acquaintance. I glad it is over; but I could not avoid it.
'Il m'avait tabli de politesses'. God bless you!
BLACKHEATH, June 13, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received yesterday your letter of the 30th past.
I waited with impatience for it, not having received one from you in six
weeks; nor your mother neither, who began to be very sure that you were
dead, if not buried. You should write to her once a week, or at least
once a-fortnight; for women make no allowance either for business or
laziness; whereas I can, by experience, make allowances for both:
however, I wish you would generally write to me once a fortnight.
Last week I paid my midsummer offering, of five hundred pounds, to Mr.
Larpent, for your use, as I suppose he has informed you. I am punctual,
you must allow.
What account shall I give you of ministerial affairs here? I protest I
do not know: your own description of them is as exact a one as any I,
who am upon the place, can give you. It is a total dislocation and
'derangement'; consequently a total inefficiency. When the Duke of
Grafton quitted the seals, he gave that very reason for it, in a speech
in the House of Lords: he declared, "that he had no objection to the
persons or the measures of the present Ministers; but that he thought
they wanted strength and efficiency to carry on proper measures with
success; and that he knew but one man MEANING, AS YOU WILL EASILY
SUPPOSE, MR. PITT who could give them strength and solidity; that, under
this person, he should be willing to serve in any capacity, not only as a
General Officer, but as a pioneer; and would take up a spade and a
mattock." When he quitted the seals, they were offered first to Lord
Egmont, then to Lord Hardwicke; who both declined them, probably for the
same reasons that made the Duke of Grafton resign them; but after their
going a-begging for some time, the Duke of ------- begged them, and has
them 'faute de mieux'. Lord Mountstuart was never thought of for Vienna,
where Lord Stormont returns in three months; the former is going to be
married to one of the Miss Windsors, a great fortune. To tell you the
speculations, the reasonings, and the conjectures, either of the
uninformed, or even of the best-informed public, upon the present
wonderful situation of affairs, would take up much more time and paper
than either you or I can afford, though we have neither of us a great
deal of business at present.
I am in as good health as I could reasonably expect, at my age, and with
my shattered carcass; that is, from the waist upward; but downward it is
not the same: for my limbs retain that stiffness and debility of my long
rheumatism; I cannot walk half an hour at a time. As the autumn, and
still more as the winter approaches, take care to keep yourself very
warm, especially your legs and feet.
Lady Chesterfield sends you her compliments, and triumphs in the success
of her plaster. God bless you!
BLACKHEATH, July 11, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: You are a happy mortal, to have your time thus employed
between the great and the fair; I hope you do the honors of your country
to the latter. The Emperor, by your account, seems to be very well for
an emperor; who, by being above the other monarchs in Europe, may justly
be supposed to have had a proportionably worse education. I find, by
your account of him, that he has been trained up to homicide, the only
science in which princes are ever instructed; and with good reason, as
their greatness and glory singly depend upon the numbers of their fellow-
creatures which their ambition exterminates. If a sovereign should, by
great accident, deviate into moderation, justice, and clemency, what a
contemptible figure would he make in the catalogue of princes! I have
always owned a great regard for King Log. From the interview at Torgaw,
between the two monarchs, they will be either a great deal better or
worse together; but I think rather the latter; for our namesake, Philip
de Co mines, observes, that he never knew any good come from
l'abouchement des Rois. The King of Prussia will exert all his
perspicacity to analyze his Imperial Majesty; and I would bet upon the
one head of his black eagle, against the two heads of the Austrian eagle;
though two heads are said, proverbially, to be better than one. I wish I
had the direction of both the monarchs, and they should, together with
some of their allies, take Lorraine and Alsace from France. You will
call me 'l'Abbe de St. Pierre'; but I only say what I wish; whereas he
thought everything that he wished practicable.
Now to come home. Here are great bustles at Court, and a great change of
persons is certainly very near. You will ask me, perhaps, who is to be
out, and who is to be in? To which I answer, I do not know. My
conjecture is that, be the new settlement what it will, Mr. Pitt will be
at the head of it. If he is, I presume, 'qu'il aura mis de l'eau dans
son vin par rapport a Mylord B-----; when that shall come to be known,
as known it certainly will soon be, he may bid adieu to his popularity.
A minister, as minister, is very apt to be the object of public dislike;
and a favorite, as favorite, still more so. If any event of this kind
happens, which (if it happens at all) I conjecture will be some time next
week, you shall hear further from me.
I will follow your advice, and be as well as I can next winter, though I
know I shall never be free from my flying rheumatic pains, as long as I
live; but whether that will be more or less, is extremely indifferent to
me; in either case,
God bless you!
BLACKHEATH, August 1, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: The curtain was at last drawn up, the day before
yesterday, and discovered the new actors, together with some of the old
ones. I do not name them to you, because to-morrow's Gazette will do it
full as well as I could. Mr. Pitt, who had carte blanche given him,
named everyone of them: but what would you think he named himself for?
Lord Privy Seal; and (what will astonish you, as it does every mortal
here) Earl of Chatham. The joke here is, that he has had A FALL UP
STAIRS, and has done himself so much hurt, that he will never be able to
stand upon his leg's again. Everybody is puzzled how to account for this
step; though it would not be the first time that great abilities have
been duped by low cunning. But be it what it will, he is now certainly
only Earl of Chatham; and no longer Mr. Pitt, in any respect whatever.
Such an event, I believe, was never read nor heard of. To withdraw,
in the fullness of his power and in the utmost gratification of his
ambition, from the House of Commons (which procured him his power, and
which could alone insure it to him), and to go into that hospital of
incurables, the House of Lords, is a measure so unaccountable, that
nothing but proof positive could have made me believe it: but true it is.
Hans Stanley is to go Ambassador to Russia; and my nephew, Ellis, to
Spain, decorated with the red riband. Lord Shelburne is your Secretary
of State, which I suppose he has notified to you this post, by a circular
letter. Charles Townshend has now the sole management of the House of
Commons; but how long he will be content to be only Lord Chatham's
vicegerent there, is a question which I will not pretend to decide.
There is one very bad sign for Lord Chatham, in his new dignity; which
is, that all his enemies, without exception, rejoice at it; and all his
friends are stupefied and dumbfounded. If I mistake not much, he will,
in the course of a year, enjoy perfect 'otium cum dignitate'. Enough of
Is the fair, or at least the fat, Miss C---- with you still? It must be
confessed that she knows the arts of courts, to be so received at
Dresden, and so connived at in Leicester-fields.
There never was so wet a summer as this has been, in the memory of man;
we have not had one single day, since March, without some rain; but most
days a great deal. I hope that does not affect your health, as great
cold does; for, with all these inundations, it has not been cold. God
BLACKHEATH, August 14, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received yesterday your letter of the 30th past, and I
find by it that it crossed mine upon the road, where they had no time to
take notice of one another.
The newspapers have informed you, before now, of the changes actually
made; more will probably follow, but what, I am sure, I cannot tell you;
and I believe nobody can, not even those who are to make them: they will,
I suppose, be occasional, as people behave themselves. The causes and
consequences of Mr. Pitt's quarrel now appear in print, in a pamphlet
published by Lord T------; and in a refutation of it, not by Mr. Pitt
himself, I believe, but by some friend of his, and under his sanction.
The former is very scurrilous and scandalous, and betrays private
conversation. My Lord says, that in his last conference, he thought he
had as good a right to nominate the new Ministry as Mr. Pitt, and
consequently named Lord G-----, Lord L------, etc., for Cabinet Council
employments; which Mr. Pitt not consenting to, Lord T----- broke up the
conference, and in his wrath went to Stowe; where I presume he may remain
undisturbed a great while, since Mr. Pitt will neither be willing nor
able to send for him again. The pamphlet, on the part of Mr. Pitt, gives
an account of his whole political life; and, in that respect, is tedious
to those who were acquainted with it before; but, at the latter end,
there is an article that expresses such supreme contempt of Lord T-----,
and in so pretty a manner, that I suspect it to be Mr. Pitt's own: you
shall judge yourself, for I here transcribe the article: "But this I will
be bold to say, that had he (Lord T-----) not fastened himself into
Mr. Pitt's train, and acquired thereby such an interest in that great
man, he might have crept out of life with as little notice as he crept
in; and gone off with no other degree of credit, than that of adding a
single unit to the bills of mortality" I wish I could send you all the
pamphlets and half-sheets that swarm here upon this occasion; but that is
impossible; for every week would make a ship's cargo. It is certain,
that Mr. Pitt has, by his dignity of Earl, lost the greatest part of his
popularity, especially in the city; and I believe the Opposition will be
very strong, and perhaps prevail, next session, in the House of Commons;
there being now nobody there who can have the authority and ascendant
over them that Pitt had.
People tell me here, as young Harvey told you at Dresden, that I look
very well; but those are words of course, which everyone says to
everybody. So far is true, that I am better than at my age, and with my
broken constitution, I could have expected to be. God bless you!
BLACKHEATH, September 12, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have this moment received your letter of the 27th past.
I was in hopes that your course of waters this year at Baden would have
given you a longer reprieve from your painful complaint. If I do not
mistake, you carried over with you some of Dr. Monsey's powders. Have
you taken any of them, and have they done you any good? I know they did
me a great deal. I, who pretend to some skill in physic, advise a cool
regimen, and cooling medicines.
I do not wonder, that you do wonder, at Lord C-----'s conduct. If he was
not outwitted into his peerage by Lord B----, his accepting it is utterly
inexplicable. The instruments he has chosen for the great office,
I believe, will never fit the same case. It was cruel to put such a boy
as Lord G--- over the head of old Ligonier; and if I had been the former,
I would have refused that commission, during the life of that honest and
brave old general. All this to quiet the Duke of R---- to a resignation,
and to make Lord B---- Lieutenant of Ireland, where, I will venture to
prophesy, that he will not do. Ligonier was much pressed to give up his
regiment of guards, but would by no means do it; and declared that the
King might break him if he pleased, but that he would certainly not break
I have no political events to inform you of; they will not be ripe till
the meeting of the parliament. Immediately upon the receipt of this
letter, write me one, to acquaint me how you are.
God bless you; and, particularly, may He send you health, for that is the
BLACKHEATH, September 30, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received, yesterday, with great pleasure, your letter
of the 18th, by which I consider this last ugly bout as over; and, to
prevent its return, I greatly approve of your plan for the south of
France, where I recommend for your principal residence, Pezenas Toulouse,
or Bordeaux; but do not be persuaded to go to Aix en Provence, which, by
experience, I know to be at once the hottest and the coldest place in the
world, from the ardor of the Provencal sun, and the sharpness of the
Alpine winds. I also earnestly recommend to you, for your complaint upon
your breast, to take, twice a-day, asses' or (what is better mares'
and that for these six months at least. Mingle turnips, as much as you
can, with your diet.
I have written, as you desired, to Mr. Secretary Conway; but I will
answer for it that there will be no difficulty to obtain the leave you
There is no new event in the political world since my last; so God bless
LONDON, October 29, 7766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: The last mail brought me your letter of the 17th. I am
glad to hear that your breast is so much better. You will find both
asses' and mares' milk enough in the south of France, where it was much
drank when I was there. Guy Patin recommends to a patient to have no
doctor but a horse, and no apothecary but an ass. As for your pains and
weakness in your limbs, 'je vous en offre autant'; I have never been free
from them since my last rheumatism. I use my legs as much as I can, and
you should do so too, for disuse makes them worse. I cannot now use them
long at a time, because of the weakness of old age; but I contrive to
get, by different snatches, at least two hours' walking every day, either
in my garden or within doors, as the weather permits. I set out to-
morrow for Bath, in hopes of half repairs, for Medea's kettle could not
give me whole ones; the timbers of my wretched vessel are too much
decayed to be fitted out again for use. I shall see poor Harte there,
who, I am told, is in a miserable way, between some real and some
I send you no political news, for one reason, among others, which is that
I know none. Great expectations are raised of this session, which meets
the 11th of next month; but of what kind nobody knows, and consequently
everybody conjectures variously. Lord Chatham comes to town to-morrow
from Bath, where he has been to refit himself for the winter campaign; he
has hitherto but an indifferent set of aides-decamp; and where he will
find better, I do not know. Charles Townshend and he are already upon
ill terms. 'Enfin je n'y vois goutte'; and so God bless you!
BATH, November 15, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have this moment received your letter of the 5th
instant from Basle. I am very glad to find that your breast is relieved,
though perhaps at the expense of your legs: for, if the humor be either
gouty or rheumatic, it had better be in your legs than anywhere else.
I have consulted Moisy, the great physician of this place, upon it; who
says, that at this distance he dares not prescribe anything, as there may
be such different causes for your complaint, which must be well weighed
by a physician upon the spot; that is, in short, that he knows nothing of
the matter. I will therefore tell you my own case, in 1732, which may be
something parallel to yours. I had that year been dangerously ill of a
fever in Holland; and when I was recovered of it, the febrific humor fell
into my legs, and swelled them to that degree, and chiefly in the
evening, that it was as painful to me as it was shocking to others.
I came to England with them in this condition; and consulted Mead,
Broxholme, and Arbuthnot, who none of them did me the least good; but,
on the contrary, increased the swelling, by applying poultices and
emollients. In this condition I remained near six months, till finding
that the doctors could do me no good, I resolved to consult Palmer, the
most eminent surgeon of St. Thomas's Hospital. He immediately told me
that the physicians had pursued a very wrong method, as the swelling of
my legs proceeded only from a relaxation and weakness of the cutaneous
vessels; and he must apply strengtheners instead of emollients.
Accordingly, he ordered me to put my legs up to the knees every morning
in brine from the salters, as hot as I could bear it; the brine must have
had meat salted in it. I did so; and after having thus pickled my legs
for about three weeks, the complaint absolutely ceased, and I have never
had the least swelling in them since. After what I have said, I must
caution you not to use the same remedy rashly, and without the most
skillful advice you can find, where you are; for if your swelling
proceeds from a gouty, or rheumatic humor, there may be great danger in
applying so powerful an astringent, and perhaps REPELLANT as brine. So
go piano, and not without the best advice, upon a view of the parts.
I shall direct all my letters to you 'Chez Monsieur Sarraxin', who by his
trade is, I suppose, 'sedentaire' at Basle, while it is not sure that you
will be at any one place in the south of France. Do you know that he is
a descendant of the French poet Sarrazin?
Poor Harte, whom I frequently go to see here, out of compassion, is in a
most miserable way; he has had a stroke of the palsy, which has deprived
him of the use of his right leg, affected his speech a good deal, and
perhaps his head a little. Such are the intermediate tributes that we
are forced to pay, in some shape or other, to our wretched nature, till
we pay the last great one of all. May you pay this very late, and as few
intermediate tributes as possible; and so 'jubeo te bene valere'. God
BATH, December 9, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received, two days ago, your letter of the 26th past.
I am very glad that you begin to feel the good effects of the climate
where you are; I know it saved my life, in 1741, when both the skillful
and the unskillful gave me over. In that ramble I stayed three or four
days at Nimes, where there are more remains of antiquity, I believe, than
in any town in Europe, Italy excepted. What is falsely called 'la maison
quarree', is, in my mind, the finest piece of architecture that I ever
saw; and the amphitheater the clumsiest and the ugliest: if it were in
England, everybody would swear it had been built by Sir John Vanbrugh.
This place is now, just what you have seen it formerly; here is a great
crowd of trifling and unknown people, whom I seldom frequent, in the
public rooms; so that I may pass my time 'tres uniment', in taking the
air in my post-chaise every morning, and in reading of evenings.
And 'a propos' of the latter, I shall point out a book, which I believe
will give you some pleasure; at least it gave me a great deal. I never
read it before. It is 'Reflexions sur la Poesie et la Peinture, par
l'Abbee de Bos', in two octavo volumes; and is, I suppose, to be had at
every great town in France. The criticisms and the reflections are just
It may be you expect some political news from me: but I can tell you that
you will have none, for no mortal can comprehend the present state of
affairs. Eight or nine people of some consequence have resigned their
employments; upon which Lord C----- made overtures to the Duke of B-----
and his people; but they could by no means agree, and his Grace went,
the next day, full of wrath, to Woburn, so that negotiation is entirely
at an end. People wait to see who Lord C----- will take in, for some he
must have; even HE cannot be alone, 'contra mundum'. Such a state of
affairs, to be sure, was never seen before, in this or in any other
country. When this Ministry shall be settled, it will be the sixth
Ministry in six years' time.
Poor Harte is here, and in a most miserable condition; those who wish him
the best, as I do, must wish him dead. God bless you!
LONDON, February 13, 1767.
MY DEAR FRIEND: It is so long since I have had a letter from you, that I
am alarmed about your health; and fear that the southern parts of France
have not done so well by you as they did by me in the year 1741, when
they snatched me from the jaws of death. Let me know, upon the receipt
of this letter, how you are, and where you are.
I have no news to send you from hence; for everything seems suspended,
both in the court and in the parliament, till Lord Chatham's return from
the Bath, where he has been laid up this month, by a severe fit of the
gout; and, at present, he has the sole apparent power. In what little
business has hitherto been done in the House of Commons, Charles
Townshend has given himself more ministerial airs than Lord Chatham will,
I believe, approve of. However, since Lord Chatham has thought fit to
withdraw himself from that House, he cannot well do without Charles'
abilities to manage it as his deputy.
I do not send you an account of weddings, births, and burials, as I take
it for granted that you know them all from the English printed papers;
some of which, I presume, are sent after you. Your old acquaintance,
Lord Essex, is to be married this week to Harriet Bladen, who has L20,000
down, besides the reasonable expectation of as much at the death of her
father. My kinsman, Lord Strathmore, is to be married in a fortnight,
to Miss Bowes, the greatest heiress perhaps in Europe. In short, the
matrimonial frenzy seems to rage at present, and is epidemical. The men
marry for money, and I believe you guess what the women marry for. God
bless you, and send you health!
LONDON, March 3, 1767
MY DEAR FRIEND: Yesterday I received two letters at once from you, both
dated Montpellier; one of the 29th of last December, and the other the
12th of February: but I cannot conceive what became of my letters to you;
for, I assure you, that I answered all yours the next post after I
received them; and, about ten days ago, I wrote you a volunteer, because
you had been so long silent, and I was afraid that you were not well;
but your letter of the 12th of February has removed all my fears upon
that score. The same climate that has restored your health so far will
probably, in a little more time, restore your strength too; though you
must not expect it to be quite what it was before your late painful
complaints. At least I find that, since my late great rheumatism,
I cannot walk above half an hour at a time, which I do not place singly
to the account of my years, but chiefly to the great shock given then to
my limbs. 'D'ailleurs' I am pretty well for my age and shattered
As I told you in my last, I must tell you again in this, that I have no
news to send. Lord Chatham, at last, came to town yesterday, full of
gout, and is not able to stir hand or foot. During his absence, Charles
Townshend has talked of him, and at him, in such a manner, that
henceforward they must be either much worse or much better together than
ever they were in their lives. On Friday last, Mr. Dowdeswell and Mr.
Grenville moved to have one shilling in the pound of the land tax taken
off; which was opposed by the Court; but the Court lost it by eighteen.
The Opposition triumph much upon this victory; though, I think, without
reason; for it is plain that all the landed gentlemen bribed themselves
with this shilling in the pound.
The Duke of Buccleugh is very soon to be married to Lady Betty Montague.
Lord Essex was married yesterday, to Harriet Bladen; and Lord
Strathmore, last week, to Miss Bowes; both couples went directly from the
church to consummation in the country, from an unnecessary fear that they
should not be tired of each other if they stayed in town. And now
'dixi'; God bless you!
You are in the right to go to see the assembly of the states of,
Languedoc, though they are but the shadow of the original Etats, while
there was some liberty subsisting in France.
LONDON, April 6, 1767.
MY DEAR FRIEND: Yesterday I received your letter from Nimes, by which I
find that several of our letters have reciprocally miscarried. This may
probably have the same fate; however, if it reaches Monsieur Sarrazin, I
presume he will know where to take his aim at you; for I find you are in
motion, and with a polarity to Dresden. I am very glad to find by it,
that your meridional journey has perfectly recovered you, as to your
general state of health; for as to your legs and thighs, you must never
expect that they will be restored to their original strength and
activity, after so many rheumatic attacks as you have had. I know that
my limbs, besides the natural debility of old age, have never recovered
the severe attack of rheumatism that plagued me five or six years ago.
I cannot now walk above half an hour at a time and even that in a
hobbling kind of way.
I can give you no account of our political world, which is in a situation
that I never saw in my whole life. Lord Chatham has been so ill, these
last two months, that he has not been able (some say not willing) to do
or hear of any business, and for his 'sous Ministres', they either
cannot, or dare not, do any, without his directions; so everything is now
at a stand. This situation, I think, cannot last much longer, and if
Lord Chatham should either quit his post, or the world, neither of which
is very improbable, I conjecture, that which is called the Rockingham
Connection stands the fairest for the Ministry. But this is merely my
conjecture, for I have neither 'data' nor 'postulata' enough to reason
When you get to Dresden, which I hope you will not do till next month,
our correspondence will be more regular. God bless you!
LONDON, May 5, 1767,
MY DEAR FRIEND: By your letter of the 25th past, from Basle, I presume
this will find you at Dresden, and accordingly I direct to you there.
When you write me word that you are at Dresden, I will return you an
answer, with something better than the answer itself.
If you complain of the weather, north of Besancon, what would you say to
the weather that we have had here for these last two months,
uninterruptedly? Snow often, northeast wind constantly, and extreme
cold. I write this by the side of a good fire; and at this moment it
snows very hard. All my promised fruit at Blackheath is quite destroyed;
and, what is worse, many of my trees.
I cannot help thinking that the King of Poland, the Empress of Russia,
and the King of Prussia, 's'entendent comme larrons en foire', though the
former must not appear in it upon account of the stupidity, ignorance,
and bigotry of his Poles. I have a great opinion of the cogency of the
controversial arguments of the Russian troops, in favor of the
Dissidents: I am sure I wish them success; for I would have all
intoleration intolerated in its turn. We shall soon see more clearly
into this matter; for I do not think that the Autocratrice of all the
Russias will be trifled with by the Sarmatians.
What do you think of the late extraordinary event in Spain? Could you
have ever imagined that those ignorant Goths would have dared to banish
the Jesuits? There must have been some very grave and important reasons
for so extraordinary a measure: but what they were I do not pretend to
guess; and perhaps I shall never know, though all the coffeehouses here
Things are here in exactly the same situation, in which they were when I
wrote to you last. Lord Chatham is still ill, and only goes abroad for
an hour in a day, to take the air, in his coach. The King has, to my
certain knowledge, sent him repeated messages, desiring him not to be
concerned at his confinement, for that he is resolved to support him,
'pour et contre tous'. God bless you!
LONDON, June 1, 1767.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received yesterday your letter of the 20th past, from
Dresden, where I am glad to find that you are arrived safe and sound.
This has been everywhere an 'annus mirabilis' for bad weather, and it
continues here still. Everybody has fires, and their winter clothes,
as at Christmas. The town is extremely sickly; and sudden deaths have
been very frequent.
I do not know what to say to you upon public matters; things remain in
'statu quo', and nothing is done. Great changes are talked of, and,
I believe, will happen soon, perhaps next week; but who is to be changed,
for whom, I do not know, though everybody else does. I am apt to think
that it will be a mosaic Ministry, made up 'de pieces rapportees' from
Last Friday I sent your subsidy to Mr. Larpent, who, I suppose, has given
you notice of it. I believe it will come very seasonably, as all places,
both foreign and domestic, are so far in arrears. They talk of paying
you all up to Christmas. The King's inferior servants are almost
I suppose you have already heard, at Dresden, that Count Bruhl is either
actually married, or very soon to be so, to Lady Egremont. She has,
together with her salary as Lady of the Bed-chamber, L2,500 a year,
besides ten thousand pounds in money left her, at her own disposal, by
Lord Egremont. All this will sound great 'en ecus d'Allemagne'. I am
glad of it, for he is a very pretty man. God bless you!
I easily conceive why Orloff influences the Empress of all the Russias;
but I cannot see why the King of Prussia should be influenced by that
BLACKHEATH, JULY 2, 1767.
MY DEAR FRIEND: Though I have had no letter from you since my last, and
though I have no political news to inform you of, I write this to
acquaint you with a piece of Greenwich news, which I believe you will be
very glad of; I am sure I am. Know then that your friend Miss ----- was
happily married, three days ago, to Mr. -------, an Irish gentleman,
and a member of that parliament, with an estate of above L2,000 a-year.
He settles upon her L600 jointure, and in case they have no children,
L1,500. He happened to be by chance in her company one day here, and was
at once shot dead by her charms; but as dead men sometimes walk, he
walked to her the next morning, and tendered her his person and his
fortune; both which, taking the one with the other, she very prudently
accepted, for his person is sixty years old.
Ministerial affairs are still in the same ridiculous and doubtful
situation as when I wrote to you last. Lord Chatham will neither hear
of, nor do any business, but lives at Hampstead, and rides about the
heath. His gout is said to be fallen upon his nerves. Your provincial
secretary, Conway, quits this week, and returns to the army, for which he
languished. Two Lords are talked of to succeed him; Lord Egmont and Lord
Hillsborough: I rather hope the latter. Lord Northington certainly quits
this week; but nobody guesses who is to succeed him as President. A
thousand other changes are talked of, which I neither believe nor reject.
Poor Harte is in a most miserable condition: He has lost one side of
himself, and in a great measure his speech; notwithstanding which, he is
going to publish his DIVINE POEMS, as he calls them. I am sorry for it,
as he had not time to correct them before this stroke, nor abilities to
do it since. God bless you!
BLACKHEATH, July 9, 1767.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have received yours of the 21st past, with the inclosed
proposal from the French 'refugies, for a subscription toward building
them 'un temple'. I have shown it to the very few people I see, but
without the least success. They told me (and with too much truth) that
while such numbers of poor were literally starving here from the dearness
of all provisions, they could not think of sending their money into
another country, for a building which they reckoned useless. In truth,
I never knew such misery as is here now; and it affects both the hearts
and the purses of those who have either; for my own part, I never gave to
a building in my life; which I reckon is only giving to masons and
carpenters, and the treasurer of the undertaking.
Contrary to the expectations of all mankind here, everything still
continues in 'statu quo'. General Conway has been desired by the King
to keep the seals till he has found a successor for him, and the Lord
President the same. Lord Chatham is relapsed, and worse than ever: he
sees nobody, and nobody sees him: it is said that a bungling physician
has checked his gout, and thrown it upon his nerves; which is the worst
distemper that a minister or a lover can have, as it debilitates the mind
of the former and the body of the latter. Here is at present an
interregnum. We must soon see what order will be produced from this
The Electorate, I believe, will find the want of Comte Flemming; for he
certainly had abilities, and was as sturdy and inexorable as a Minister
at the head of the finances ought always to be. When you see Comtesse
Flemming, which I suppose cannot be for some time, pray make her Lady
Chesterfield's and my compliments of condolence.
You say that Dresden is very sickly; I am sure London is at least as
sickly now, for there reigns an epidemical distemper, called by the
genteel name of 'l'influenza'. It is a little fever, of which scarcely
anybody dies; and it generally goes off with a little looseness. I have
escaped it, I believe, by being here. God keep you from all distempers,
and bless you!
LONDON, October 30, 1767.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have now left Blackheath, till the next summer, if I
live till then; and am just able to write, which is all I can say, for I
am extremely weak, and have in a great measure lost the use of my legs;
I hope they will recover both flesh and strength, for at present they
have neither. I go to the Bath next week, in hopes of half repairs at
most; for those waters, I am sure, will not prove Medea's kettle, nor
'les eaux de Jouvence' to me; however, I shall do as good courtiers do,
and get what I can, if I cannot get what I will. I send you no politics,
for here are neither politics nor ministers; Lord Chatham is quiet at
Pynsent, in Somersetshire, and his former subalterns do nothing, so that
nothing is done. Whatever places or preferments are disposed of, come
evidently from Lord -------, who affects to be invisible; and who, like a
woodcock, thinks that if his head is but hid, he is not seen at all.
General Pulteney is at last dead, last week, worth above thirteen hundred
thousand pounds. He has left all his landed estate, which is eight and
twenty thousand pounds a-year, including the Bradford estate, which his
brother had from that ancient family, to a cousin-german. He has left
two hundred thousand pounds, in the funds, to Lord Darlington, who was
his next nearest relation; and at least twenty thousand pounds in various
legacies. If riches alone could make people happy, the last two
proprietors of this immense wealth ought to have been so, but they never
God bless you, and send you good health, which is better than all the
riches of the world!
LONDON, November 3, 1767.
MY DEAR FRIEND: Your last letter brought me but a scurvy account of your
health. For the headaches you complain of, I will venture to prescribe a
remedy, which, by experience, I found a specific, when I was extremely
plagued with them. It is either to chew ten grains of rhubarb every
night going to bed: or, what I think rather better, to take, immediately
before dinner, a couple of rhubarb pills, of five grains each; by which
means it mixes with the aliments, and will, by degrees, keep your body
gently open. I do it to this day, and find great good by it. As you
seem to dread the approach of a German winter, I would advise you to
write to General Conway, for leave of absence for the three rigorous
winter months, which I dare say will not be refused. If you choose a
worse climate, you may come to London; but if you choose a better and a
warmer, you may go to Nice en Provence, where Sir William Stanhope is
gone to pass his winter, who, I am sure, will be extremely glad of your
I go to the Bath next Saturday. 'Utinam de frustra'. God bless you!
BATH, September 19, 1767.
MY DEAR FRIEND: Yesterday I received your letter of the 29th past, and am
very glad to find that you are well enough to think that you may perhaps
stand the winter at Dresden; but if you do, pray take care to keep both
your body and your limbs exceedingly warm.
As to my own health, it is, in general, as good as I could expect it, at
my age; I have a good stomach, a good digestion, and sleep well; but find
that I shall never recover the free use of my legs, which are now full as
weak as when I first came hither.
You ask me questions concerning Lord C------, which neither I, nor,
I believe, anybody but himself can answer; however, I will tell you all
that I do know, and all that I guess, concerning him. This time
twelvemonth he was here, and in good health and spirits, except now and
then some little twinges of the gout. We saw one another four or five
times, at our respective houses; but for these last eight months, he has
been absolutely invisible to his most intimate friends, 'les sous
Ministres': he would receive no letters, nor so much as open any packet
His physician, Dr. -----, as I am told, had, very ignorantly, checked
a coming fit of the gout, and scattered it about his body; and it fell
particularly upon his nerves, so that he continues exceedingly vaporish;
and would neither see nor speak to anybody while he was here. I sent him
my compliments, and asked leave to wait upon him; but he sent me word
that he was too ill to see anybody whatsoever. I met him frequently
taking the air in his post-chaise, and he looked very well. He set out
from hence for London last Tuesday; but what to do, whether to resume, or
finally to resign the Administration, God knows; conjectures are various.
In one of our conversations here, this time twelvemonth, I desired him to
secure you a seat in the new parliament; he assured me that he would,
and, I am convinced, very sincerely; he said even that he would make it
his own affair; and desired that I would give myself no more trouble
about it. Since that, I have heard no more of it; which made me look out
for some venal borough and I spoke to a borough-jobber, and offered five-
and-twenty hundred pounds for a secure seat in parliament; but he laughed
at my offer, and said that there was no such thing as a borough to be had
now, for that the rich East and West Indians had secured them all, at the
rate of three thousand pounds at least; but many at four thousand, and
two or three that he knew, at five thousand. This, I confess, has vexed
me a good deal; and made me the more impatient to know whether Lord C----
had done anything in it; which I shall know when I go to town, as I
propose to do in about a fortnight; and as soon as I know it you shall.
To tell you truly what I think--I doubt, from all this NERVOUS DISORDER
that Lord C----- is hors de combat, as a Minister; but do not ever hint
this to anybody. God bless you!
BATH, December 27, 1767. 'En nova progenies'!
MY DEAR FRIEND: The outlines of a new Ministry are now declared, but they
are not yet quite filled up; it was formed by the Duke of Bedford. Lord
Gower is made President of the Council, Lord Sandwich, Postmaster, Lord
Hillsborough, Secretary of State for America only, Mr. Rigby, Vice-
treasurer of Ireland. General Canway is to keep the seals a fortnight
longer, and then to surrender them to Lord Weymouth. It is very
uncertain whether the Duke of Grafton is to continue at the head of the
Treasury or not; but, in my private opinion, George Grenville will very
soon be there. Lord Chatham seems to be out of the question, and is at
his repurchased house at Hayes, where he will not see a mortal. It is
yet uncertain whether Lord Shelburne is to keep his place; if not, Lord
Sandwich they say is to succeed him. All the Rockingham people are
absolutely excluded. Many more changes must necessarily be, but no more
are yet declared. It seems to be a resolution taken by somebody that
Ministers are to be annual.
Sir George Macartney is next week to be married to Lady Jane Stuart, Lord
Bute's second daughter.
I never knew it so cold in my life as it is now, and with a very deep
snow; by which, if it continues, I may be snow-bound here for God knows
how long, though I proposed leaving this place the latter end of the
Poor Harte is very ill here; he mentions you often, and with great
affection. God bless you!
When I know more you shall.
LONDON, January 29, 1768.
MY DEAR FRIEND: Two days ago I received your letter of the 8th. I wish
you had gone a month or six weeks sooner to Basle, that you might have
escaped the excessive cold of the most severe winter that I believe was
ever known. It congealed both my body and my mind, and scarcely left me
the power of thinking. A great many here, both in town and country, have
perished by the frost, and been lost in the snow.
You have heard, no doubt, of the changes at Court, by which you have got
a new provincial, Lord Weymouth; who has certainly good parts, and, as I
am informed, speaks very well in the House of Lords; but I believe he has
no application. Lord Chatham is at his house at Hayes; but sees no
mortal. Some say that he has a fit of the gout, which would probably do
him good; but many think that his worst complaint is in his head, which I
am afraid is too true. Were he well, I am sure he would realize the
promise he made me concerning you; but, however, in that uncertainty,
I am looking out for any chance borough; and if I can find one, I promise
you I will bid like a chapman for it, as I should be very sorry that you
were not in the next parliament. I do not see any probability of any
vacancy in a foreign commission in a better climate; Mr. Hamilton at
Naples, Sir Horace Mann at Florence, and George Pitt at Turin, do not
seem likely to make one. And as for changing your foreign department for
a domestic one, it would not be in my power to procure you one; and you
would become 'd'eveque munier', and gain nothing in point of climate, by
changing a bad one for another full as bad, if not worse; and a worse I
believe is not than ours. I have always had better health abroad than at
home; and if the tattered remnant of my wretched life were worth my care,
I would have been in the south of France long ago. I continue very lame
and weak, and despair of ever recovering any strength in my legs. I care
very little about it. At my age every man must have his share of
physical ills of one kind or another; and mine, thank God, are not very
painful. God bless you!
LONDON, March 12, 1768.
MY DEAR FRIEND: The day after I received your letter of the 21st past,
I wrote to Lord Weymouth, as you desired; and I send you his answer
inclosed, from which (though I have not heard from him since) I take it
for granted, and so may you, that his silence signifies his Majesty's
consent to your request. Your complicated complaints give me great
uneasiness, and the more, as I am convinced that the Montpellier
physicians have mistaken a material part of your case; as indeed all the
physicians here did, except Dr. Maty. In my opinion, you have no gout,
but a very scorbutic and rheumatic habit of body, which should be treated
in a very different manner from the gout; and, as I pretend to be a very
good quack at least, I would prescribe to you a strict milk diet, with
the seeds, such as rice, sago, barley, millet, etc., for the three summer
months at least, and without ever tasting wine. If climate signifies
anything (in which, by the way, I have very little faith), you are, in my
mind, in the finest climate in the world; neither too hot nor too cold,
and always clear; you are with the gayest people living; be gay with
them, and do not wear out your eyes with reading at home. 'L'ennui' is
the English distemper: and a very bad one it is, as I find by every day's
experience; for my deafness deprives me of the only rational pleasure
that I can have at my age, which is society; so that I read my eyes out
every day, that I may not hang myself.
You will not be in this parliament, at least not at the beginning of it.
I relied too much upon Lord C-----'s promise above a year ago at Bath.
He desired that I would leave it to him; that he would make it his own
affair, and give it in charge to the Duke of G----, whose province it was
to make the parliamentary arrangement. This I depended upon, and I think
with reason; but, since that, Lord C has neither seen nor spoken to
anybody, and has been in the oddest way in the world. I have sent to the
D----- of G------, to know if L----- C---- had either spoken or sent to
him about it; but he assured me that he had done neither; that all was
full, or rather running over, at present; but that, if he could crowd you
in upon a vacancy, he would do it with great pleasure. I am extremely
sorry for this accident; for I am of a very different opinion from you,
about being in parliament, as no man can be of consequence in this
country, who is not in it; and, though one may not speak like a Lord
Mansfield or a Lord Chatham, one may make a very good figure in a second
rank. 'Locus est et pluribus umbris'. I do not pretend to give you any
account of the present state of this country, or Ministry, not knowing
nor guessing it myself.
God bless you, and send you health, which is the first and greatest of
LONDON, March 15, 1768.
MY DEAR FRIEND: This letter is supplemental to my, last. This morning
Lord Weymouth very civilly sent Mr. Wood, his first 'commis', to tell me
that the King very willingly gave you leave of absence from your post for
a year, for the recovery of your health; but then added, that as the
Court of Vienna was tampering with that of Saxony, which it seems our
Court is desirous to 'contrequarrer', it might be necessary to have in
the interim a 'Charge d'Affaires' at Dresden, with a defalcation out of
your appointments of forty shillings a-day, till your return, if I would
agree to it. I told him that I consented to both the proposals, upon
condition that at your return you should have the character and the pay
of Plenipotentiary added to your present character and pay; and that I
would completely make up to you the defalcation of the forty shillings
a-day. He positively engaged for it: and added, that he knew that it
would be willingly agreed to. Thus I think I have made a good bargain
for you, though but an indifferent one for myself: but that is what I
never minded in my life. You may, therefore, depend upon receiving from
me the full of this defalcation, when and how you please, independently
of your usual annual refreshment, which I will pay to Monsieur Larpent,
whenever you desire it. In the meantime, 'Cura ut valeas'.
The person whom Mr. Wood intimated to me would be the 'Charge d'Affaires'
during your absence, is one Mr. Keith, the son of that Mr. Keith who was
formerly Minister in Russia.
LONDON, April 12, 1768.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received, yesterday, your letter of the 1st; in which
you do not mention the state of your health, which I desire you will do
for the future.
I believe you have guessed the true reason of Mr. Keith's mission; but by
a whisper that I have since heard, Keith is rather inclined to go to
Turin, as 'Charge d'Affaires'. I forgot to tell you, in my last, that I
was almost positively assured that the instant you return to Dresden,
Keith should decamp. I am persuaded that they will keep their words with
me, as there is no one reason in the world why they should not. I will
send your annual to Mr. Larpent, in a fortnight, and pay the forty
shillings a-day quarterly, if there should be occasion; for, in my own
private opinion, there will be no 'Charge d'Affaires' sent. I agree with
you, that 'point d'argent, point d'Allemand', as was used to be said, and
not without more reason, of the Swiss; but, as we have neither the
inclination nor I fear the power to give subsidies, the Court of Vienna
can give good things that cost them nothing, as archbishoprics,
bishoprics, besides corrupting their ministers and favorite with places.
Elections here have been carried to a degree of frenzy hitherto unheard
of; that for the town of Northampton has cost the contending parties at
least thirty thousand pounds a side, and ----- -------- has sold his
borough of ---------, to two members, for nine thousand pounds. As soon
as Wilkes had lost his election for the city, he set up for the county of
Middlesex, and carried it hollow, as the jockeys say. Here were great
mobs and riots upon that occasion, and most of the windows in town broke,
that had no lights for WILKES AND LIBERTY, who were thought to be
inseparable. He will appear, the 10th of this month, in the Court of
King's Bench, to receive his sentence; and then great riots are again
expected, and probably will happen. God bless you!
BATH, October 17, 1768.
MY DEAR FRIEND. Your last two letters, to myself and Grevenkop, have
alarmed me extremely; but I comfort myself a little, by hoping that you,
like all people who suffer, think yourself worse than you are. A dropsy
never comes so suddenly; and I flatter myself, that it is only that gouty
or rheumatic humor, which has plagued you so long, that has occasioned
the temporary swelling of your legs. Above forty years ago, after a
violent fever, my legs swelled as much as you describe yours to be; I
immediately thought that I had a dropsy; but the Faculty assured me, that
my complaint was only the effect of my fever, and would soon be cured;
and they said true. Pray let your amanuensis, whoever he may be, write
an account regularly once a-week, either to Grevenkop or myself, for that
is the same thing, of the state of your health.
I sent you, in four successive letters, as much of the Duchess of
Somerset's snuff as a letter could well convey to you. Have you received
all or any of them? and have they done you any good? Though, in your
present condition, you cannot go into company, I hope that you have some
acquaintances that come and sit with you; for if originally it was not
good for man to be alone, it is much worse for a sick man to be so; he
thinks too much of his distemper, and magnifies it. Some men of learning
among the ecclesiastics, I dare say, would be glad to sit with you; and
you could give them as good as they brought.
Poor Harte, who is here still, is in a most miserable condition: he has
entirely lost the use of his left side, and can hardly speak
intelligibly. I was with him yesterday. He inquired after you with
great affection, and was in the utmost concern when I showed him your
My own health is as it has been ever since I was here last year. I am
neither well nor ill, but UNWELL. I have in a manner lost the use of my
legs; for though I can make a shift to crawl upon even ground for a
quarter of an hour, I cannot go up or down stairs, unless supported by a
servant. God bless you and grant you a speedy recovery!
NOTE.--This is the last of the letters of Lord Chesterfield to his
son, Mr. Philip Stanhope, who died in November, 1768. The
unexpected and distressing intelligence was announced by the lady to
whom Mr. Stanhope had been married for several years, unknown to his
father. On learning that the widow had two sons, the issue of this
marriage, Lord Chesterfield took upon himself the maintenance of his
grandchildren. The letters which follow show how happily the writer
adapted himself to the trying situation.
TO MRS. STANHOPE, THEN AT PARIS
LONDON, March 16, 1769.
MADAM: A troublesome and painful inflammation in my eyes obliges me to
use another hand than my own to acknowledge the receipt of your letter
from Avignon, of the 27th past.
I am extremely surprised that Mrs. du Bouchet should have any objection
to the manner in which your late husband desired to be buried, and which
you, very properly, complied with. All I desire for my own burial is not
to be buried alive; but how or where, I think must be entirely
indifferent to every rational creature.
I have no commission to trouble you with, during your stay at Paris; from
whence, I wish you and the boys a good journey home, where I shall be
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