The Letters of Horace Walpole, Volume 2
Part 14 out of 16
the Marquis de Sevign`e, who was one of her lovers.
424 Letter 263
To Dr. Ducarel.
I am very much obliged to you for the remarks and hints you
sent me on my Catalogue. They will be of use to me; and any
observations of my friends I shall be very thankful for, and
disposed to employ, to make my book, what it is extremely far
from being, more perfect. I was very glad to hear, Sir, that
the present Lord Archbishop of Canterbury has continued you in
an employment for which nobody is so fit, and in which nobody
would be so useful. I wish all manner of success to, as well
as continuance of, your labours; and am, etc. etc.
425 Letter 264
To Sir Horace Mann.
Arlington Street, Sunday morning, June 11, 1758.
This will not depart till to-morrow, by which time probably
there will be more news, but I am obliged to go into the
country to-day, and would not let so much history set out,
without my saying a word of it, as I know you trust to no
gazette but mine. Last Thursday se'nnight our great expedition
departed from Portsmouth--and soon separated; lord Anson with
the great ships to lie before Brest, and Commodore Howe,(895)
our naval hero, with the transports and a million of small fry
on the secret enterprise. At one o'clock on Thursday night,
alias Friday morning a cutter brought advice that on Sunday
night the transports had made land in Concalle Bay, near St.
Maloes, had disembarked with no opposition or loss, except of a
boatswain and two sailors, killed from a little fort, to which
Howe was near enough to advise them not to resist. However,
some peasants in it fired and then ran away. Some prisoners
have assured our troops that there is no force within twenty
leagues. This may be apocryphal, a word which, as I am left at
liberty, I always interpret false. It is plain, however, that
we were not expected at St. Maloes at least. We are in violent
impatience to hear the consequences--especially whether we have
taken the town, in which there is but one battalion, many old
houses of wood, and the water easily to be cut off.
If you grow wise and ask me with a political face, whether St.
Maloes is an object worth risking fourteen thousand of our best
troops, an expense of fifty thousand pounds, and half of the
purplest blood of England, I shall toss up my head with an air
of heroism and contempt, and only tell you--There! there is the
Duke Of Marlborough in the heart of France; (for in the heroic
dictionary the heart and the coast signify the same thing;)
what would you have? Did Harry V. or Edward III mind whether it
was a rich town or a fishing town, provided they did but take a
town in France? We are as great as ever we were in the most
barbarous ages, and you are asking mercantile Questions with
all the littleness of soul that attends the improvements in
modern politics! Well! my dear child, I smile, but I tremble-.
and though it is pleasanter to tremble when one invades, than
when one is invaded, I don't like to be at the eve even of an
Agincourt. There are so many of my friends upon heroic ground,
that I discern all their danger through all their laurels.
Captain Smith, aide-de-camp to Lord George Sackville, dated his
letter to the Duke of Dorset, "from his Majesty's dominions in
France." Seriously, what a change is here! His Majesty, since
this time twelvemonth, had not only recovered his dominions in
Germany, but is on the acquiring foot in France. What heads,
what no heads must they have in France! Where are their
Cardinals, their Saxes, their Belleisles? Where are their
fleets, their hosts, their arts, their subsidies? Subsidies,
indeed! Where are ours? we pay none, or almost none, and are
ten times greater than when we hired half Europe. In short,
the difference of our situation is miraculous; and if we can
but keep from divisions at home, and the King of Prussia does
not prosper too fast for us, we may put France and ourselves
into situations to prevent them from being formidable to us for
a long season. Should the Prussian reduce too suddenly the
Empress-Queen to beg and give him a secure peace, considering
how deep a stake he still plays for, one could not well blame
his accepting it--and then we should still be to struggle with
But while I am politicising, I forget to tell you half the
purport of my letter--part indeed you will have heard; Prince
Ferdinand's passage of Rhine, the most material circumstance of
which, in my opinion, is the discovery of the amazing weakness
of the French in their army, discipline, councils, and conduct.
Yesterday, as If to amuse us agreeably till we hear again from
St. Maloes, an express arrived of great conquests and captures
which three of our ships have made on the river Gambia, to the
destruction of the French trade and settlements there. I don't
tell you the particulars, because I don't know them, and
because you see them in the gazette. In one week we strike a
medal with Georgius, Germanicus, Gallicus, Africanus.
Mr. M'Kinsy, brother of Lord Bute, has kissed hands for Turin;
you remember him at Florence. He is very well-bred, and you
will find him an agreeable neighbour enough.
I have seen the vases at Holland-house, and am perfectly
content with them: the forms are charming. I assure you Mr.
Fox and Lady Caroline do not like them less than I do. Good
night! am not I a very humane conqueror to condescend to write
so long a letter?
(895) Richard, after the death of his elder brother, Viscount
426 Letter 265
To The Hon. H. S. Conway.
June 16, 1758, 2 o'clock noon.
Well, my dear Harry! you are not the only man in England who
have not conquered France!(896) Even Dukes of Marlborough have
been there without doing the business. I don't doubt but your
good heart has even been hoping, in spite of your
understanding, that our heroes have not only taken St. Maloes,
but taken a trip cross the country to burn Rochefort, only to
show how easy it was. We have waited with astonishment at not
hearing that the French court was removed in a panic to Lyons,
and that the Mesdames had gone off in their shifts with only a
provision of rouge for a week. Nay, for my part, I expected to
be deafened with encomiums on my Lord Anson's continence, who,
after being allotted Madame Pompadour as his share of the
spoils, had again imitated Scipio, and, in spite of the
violence of his temperament, had restored her unsullied to the
King of France. Alack! we have restored nothing but a quarter
of a mile of coast to the right owners. A messenger arrived in
the middle of the night with an account that we have burned two
frigates and an hundred and twenty small fry; that it was found
impossible to bring up the cannon against the town; and that,
the French army approaching the coast, Commodore Howe, with the
expedition of Harlequin as well as the taciturnity, re-embarked
our whole force in seven hours, volunteers and all, with the
loss only of one man, and they are all gone to seek their
fortune somewhere else. Well! in half a dozen more wars we
shall know something of the coast of France. Last war we
discovered a fine bay near Port l'Orient: we have now found out
that we know nothing of St. Maloes. As they are popular
persons, I hope the city of London will send some more gold
boxes to these discoverers. If they send a patch-box to Lord
George Sackville, it will hold all his laurels. As our young
nobility cannot at present travel through France, I suppose
that is a method for finishing their studies. George Selwyn
says he supposes the French ladies will have scaffolds erected
on the shore to see the English go by. But I won't detain the
messenger any longer; I am impatient to make the Duchess(897)
happy, who I hope will soon see the Duke returned from his
The Churchills will be with you next Wednesday, and I believe I
too; but I can take my own word so little, that I will not give
it you. I know I must be back at Strawberry on Friday night;
for Lady Hervey and Lady Stafford are to be there with me for a
few days from to-morrow se'nnight. Adieu!
(896) Alluding to the expedition against Rochefort, the year
before, in which Mr. Conway was second in command.
(897) Lady Mary Bruce, Duchess of Richmond, only child of the
Countess of Ailesbury by her first marriage.
She was at Park-place with her mother during the Duke of
Richmond's absence, who was a volunteer upon this expedition
427 Letter 266
To The Earl Of Strafford.
Arlington Street, June 16, 1758.
My dear lord,
Dear lord, I stayed to write to you, in obedience to your
commands, till I had something worth telling you. St. Maloes
is taken by storm. The Governor leaped into the sea at the
very name of the Duke of Marlborough. Sir James Lowther put
his hand into his pocket, and gave the soldiers two hundred and
fifty thousand pounds to drink the King's health on the top of
the great church. Norborne Berkeley begged the favour of the
Bishop to go back with him and see his house in
Gloucestershire. Delaval is turned capuchin, with remorse, for
having killed four thousand French with his own hand. Commodore
Howe does nothing but talk of what he has done. Lord Downe, who
has killed the intendant, has sent for Dupr`e(898) to put in
his place; and my Lord Anson has ravished three abbesses, the
youngest of whom was eighty-five. Sure, my lord, this account
is glorious enough! Don't you think one might 'bate a little of
it? How much will you give up? Will you compound for the town
capitulating, and for threescore men of war and two hundred
privateers burned in the harbour? I would fain beat you down as
low as I could. What,
if we should not have taken the town? Shall you be very much
shocked, if, after burning two ships of fifty-four and
thirty-six guns, and a bushel of privateers and smallware, we
had thought it prudent to leave the town where we found it, and
had re-embarked last Monday in seven hours, (the despatch of
which implies at least as much precipitation as conduct,) and
that of all the large bill of fare above, nothing should be
true but Downe's killing the intendant; who coming out to
reconnoitre, and not surrendering, Downe, at the head of some
grenadiers, shot him dead. In truth, this is all the truth, as
it came in the middle Of the night; and if your lordship is
obstinately bent on the conquest of France, you must wait till
we have found another loophole into it, which it seems our
fleet is gone to look for. I fear it is not even true that we
have beat them in the Mediterranean! nor have I any hopes but
in Admiral Forbes, who must sail up the Rhone, burn Lyons, and
force them to a peace at once.
I hope you have had as favourable Succession of sun and rain as
we have. I go to Park-place next week, where I fancy I Shall
find our little Duchess(899) quite content with the prospect of
recovering her Duke, without his being provided with laurels like
a boar's head. Adieu! my dear lord. My best compliments to my
lady and her whole menagerie.
(898) A French master.
(899) of richmond.
428 Letter 267
To Sir Horace Mann.
Strawberry Hill, June 18, 1758.
I write to you again so soon, only to laugh at my last letter.
What a dupe was I! at my years to be dazzled with glory! to be
charmed with the rattle of drums and trumpets, till I fancied
myself at Cressy or Poictiers! In the middle of all this dream
of conquest, just when I had settled in what room of my castle
I would lodge the Duke of Alen`con or Montpensier, or whatever
illustrious captive should be committed to the custody of
Seneschal Me, I was awakened with an account of our army having
re-embarked, after burning some vessels at St. Maloes. This is
the history, neither more nor less, of this mighty expedition.
They found the causeway broken up, stayed from Tuesday night
till Monday morning in sight of the town; agreed it was
impregnable; heard ten thousand French (which the next day here
were erected into thirty thousand) were coming against them;
took to their transports, and are gone to play at hide and seek
somewhere else. This campaign being rather naked, is coloured
over with the great damage we have done, and with the fine
disposition and despatch made for getting away--the same
colours that would serve to paint pirates or a flight.
However, the city is pleased; and Mr. Pitt maintains that he
never intended to take St. Maloes, which I believe, because
when he did intend to have Rochefort taken last year, he sent
no cannon; this year, when he never meant to take St. Maloes,
he sent a vast train of artillery. Besides, one of the most
important towns in France, lying some miles up in the country,
was very liable to be stormed; a fishing town on the coast is
naturally impracticable. The best side of the adventure is,
that they were very near coming away without attempting the
conflagration, and only thought of it by chance--then indeed
Atqui omnis facibus Pubes accingitur atris.
Perhaps the metamorphosis in Virgil of the ships into mermaids
is not more absurd than an army of twelve or thirteen thousand
of the flower of our troops and nobility performing the office
of link-boys, making a bonfire, and running away! The French
have said well, "les Anglois viennent nous casser des vitres
avec des guin`ees."(900) We have lost six men, they five, and
about a hundred vessels, from a fifty-gun ship to a
I don't only ask my own pardon for swelling out my imagination,
but yours, for making you believe that you was to be
representative of the Black Prince or Henry V. I hope you had
sent no bullying letter to the conclave on the (,authority of
my last letter, to threaten the cardinals, that if they did not
elect the Archbishop of Canterbury Pope, you would send for
part of the squadron from St. Maloes to burn Civita Vecchia. I
had promised you the duchy of Bretagne, and we have lost
Our expedition is still afloat--whither bound, I know not; but
pray don't bespeak any more laurels; wait patiently for what
they shall send you from the Secretary's office.
I gave your brother James my new work to send you-I grieve that
I must not, as usual, send a set for poor Dr. Cocchi. Good
(900) "Mr. Pitt's friends exult on the destruction of three
French ships of war, and one hundred and thirty privateers and
trading ships, and affirm that it stopped the march of three
score thousand men, who were going to join the Comte de
Clermont's army. On the other hand, Mr. Fox and company call
it breaking windows with guineas, and apply the fable of the
mountain and the mouse." Lord Chesterfield.-E.
430 Letter 268
To Sir David Dalrymple.(901)
Strawberry Hill, June 29, 1758.
Inaccurate and careless, as I must own my book is,(902) I
cannot quite repent having let it appear in that state, since
it has procured me so agreeable and obliging a notice from a
gentleman whose approbation makes me very vain. The trouble
you have been so good as to give yourself, Sir, is by no means
lost upon me; I feel the greatest gratitude for it, and shall
profit not only of your remarks, but with your permission of
your very words, wherever they will fall in with my text. The
former are so judicious and sensible, and the latter so well
chosen, that if it were not too impertinent to propose myself
as an example, I should wish, Sir, that you would do that
justice to the writers of your own country, which my ignorance
has made me execute so imperfectly and barrenly.
Give me leave to say a few words to one or two of your notes.
i should be glad to mention more instances of Queen Elizabeth's
fondness for praise,(903) but fear I have already been too
diffuse on her head. Bufo(904) is certainly Lord Halifax: the
person at whom you hint is more nearly described by the name of
Bubo, and I think in one place is even called Bubb.(905) The
number of volumes of Parthenissa I took from the list of Lord
Orrery's(906) writings in the Biographia: it is probable,
therefore, Sir, that there were different editions of that
romance. You will excuse my repeating once more, Sir, my
thanks for your partiality to a work so little worthy of your
favour. I even flatter myself that whenever you take a journey
this way, you will permit me to have the honour of being
acquainted with a gentleman to whom I have so particular an
(901) Now first collected. This eminent lawyer, antiquary, and
historian was born in 1726. He was educated at Eton, and
afterwards studied civil law at Utrecht. In 1748, he was
called to the Scotch bar, and in 1766 made a judge of session,
when he assumed the name of Lord Hailes. Boswell states, that
Dr. Johnson, in 1763, drank a bumper to him "as a man of worth,
a scholar, and a wit." His "Annals of Scotland" the Doctor
describes as "a work which has such a stability of dates, such
a certainty of facts, and such a punctuality of citation, that
it must always sell." He wrote several papers in the World and
Mirror. He died in 1792.-E.
(902) The Royal and Noble Authors.-E.
(903) Queen Elizabeth, who had turned Horace's Art of Poetry
into English, having been offended with Sir Francis Bacon, the
Earl of Essex, to recommend him again to favour, artfully told
her, that his suit was not so much for the good of Bacon, as
for her own honour, that those excellent translations of hers
might be known to those who could best judge of them.-E.
(904) In Pope's Prologue to the Satires--
"Proud as Apollo on his forked hill,
Sat full-blown Bufo puff'd by many a quill."-E.
(905) Bubb Dodington--
"And then for mine obligingly mistakes
The first lampoon Sir Will, or Bubo makes."-E.
(906) Roger Boyle, Earl of Orrery. His Parthenissa, a romance
in six books, appeared in folio in 1677.
431 Letter 269
To John Chute, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, June 29, 1758.
The Tower-guns have sworn through thick and thin that Prince
Ferdinand has entirely demolished the French, and the
city-bonfires all believe it. However, as no officer is yet
come, nor confirmation, my crackers suspend their belief. Our
great fleet is stepped ashore again near Cherbourg; I suppose,
to singe half a yard more of the coast. This is all I know;
less, as you may perceive, than any thing but the Gazette.
What is become of Mr. Montagu? Has he stolen to Southampton,
and slipped away a-volunteering like Norborne Berkeley, to
conquer France in a dirty shirt and a frock? He might gather
forty load more of laurels in my wood. I wish I could flatter
myself that you would come with him.
My Lady Suffolk has at last entirely submitted her barn to our
ordination. As yet it is only in Deacon;s orders; but will
very soon have our last imposition of hands. Adieu! Let me
know a word of you.
431 Letter 270
To George Montagu, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, July 6, 1758.
You may believe I was thoroughly disappointed in not seeing you
here, as I expected. I grieve for the reason, and wish you had
told me that your brother was quite recovered. Must I give you
over for the summer? sure you are in my debt.
That regiments are going to Germany is certain; which, except
the Blues) I know not. Of all secrets I am not in any Irish
ones. I hope for your sake, your Colonel(907) is not of the
number; but how can you talk in the manner you do of Prince
Ferdinand! Don't you know that, next to Mr. Pitt and Mr.
Delaval, he is the most fashionable man in England? Have not
the Tower-guns, and all the parsons in London, been ordered to
pray for him? You have lived in Northamptonshire till you are
ignorant that Hanover is in Middlesex, as the Bishop's palace
at Chelsea is in the diocese of Winchester. In hopes that you
will grow better acquainted with your own country, I remain
your affected Horatius Valpolhausen.
(907) Mr. Montagu's brother.
432 Letter 271
To The Rev. Dr. Birch.
Arlington Street, July 8, 1758.
As you have been so good as to favour me with your assistance,
I flatter myself you will excuse my begging it once more. I am
told that you mentioned to Dr. Jortin a Lord Mountjoy, who
lived in the reign of Henry VIII. as an author. Will you be so
good as to tell me any thing you know of him, and what he
wrote. I shall entreat the favour of this notice as soon as
possibly you can; because my book is printing off, and I am
afraid of being past the place where he must come in. I am
just going out of town, but a line put into the Post any night
before nine o'clock will find me next morning at Strawberry
432 Letter 272
To The Hon. H. S. Conway.(908)
Arlington Street, July 8, 1758.
You have made me laugh; do you think I found much difficulty to
persist in thinking as well of you as I used to do, though you
have neither been so great a Poliorcetes as Almanzor, who could
take a town alone, nor have executed the commands of another
Almanzor, who thought he could command the walls of a city to
tumble down as easily as those of Jericho did to the march of
Joshua's first regiment of Guards? Am I so apt to be swayed by
popular clamour. But I will say no more on that head. As to
the wording of the sentence, I approve your objection; and as I
have at least so little of the author in me as to be very
corrigible, I will, if you think proper, word the beginning
"In dedicating a few trifles(909) to you, I have nothing new to
tell the world. My esteem still accompanies your merit, on
which 'it was founded, and to which, with such abilities as
mine, I can only bear testimony; I must not pretend to
vindicate it. If your virtues," etc. It shall not be said
that I allowed prejudice and clamour to be the voice of the
world against you. I approve, too, the change of "proposed"
for "would have undertaken;" but I cannot like putting in
"prejudice and malice." When One accuses others of malice, one
is a little apt to feel it; and if I could flatter myself that
such a thing as a Dedication would have weight, or that any
thing of mine would last, I would have it look as dispassionate
as possible. When after some interval I assert coolly that you
was most wrongfully blamed, I shall be believed. If I seem
angry, it will look like a party quarrel still existing.
Instead of resenting your not being employed in the present
follies, I think you might write a letter of thanks to my Lord
Ligonier, Or to Mr. Pitt, or even to the person who is
appointed to appoint generals himself,(910) to thank them for
not exposing you a second year. All the puffs in the
newspapers cannot long stifle the ridicule which the French
will of course propagate through all Europe on the foolish
figure we have made. You shall judge by one sample: the Duc
d'Aiguillon has literally sent a vessel with a flag of truce to
the Duke of Marlborough, with some teaspoons which, in his
hurry, he left behind him. I know the person who saw the
packet before it was delivered to the Blenheimeius. But what
will you say to this wise commander himself? I am going to tell
you no secret, but what he uttered publicly at the levee. The
King asked him, if he had raised great contributions?
"Contributions, Sir! we saw nothing but old women." What
becomes of the thirty thousand men that made them retire with
such expedition to their transports? My Lord Downe, as decently
as he can, makes the greatest joke of their enterprise, and has
said at Arthur's, that.,five hundred men posted with a grain of
common sense would have cut them all to pieces. I was not less
pleased at what M. de Monbagon, the young prisoner, told
Charles Townshend t'other day at Harley's: he was actually at
Rochfort when you landed, where he says they had six thousand
men, most impatient for your approach, and so posted that not
one of you would ever have returned. This is not an evidence
to be forgot.
Howe and Lord George Sackville are upon the worst terms, as the
latter is with the military too. I can tell you some very
curious anecdotes when I see you; but what I do not choose, for
particular reasons, to write. What is still more curious, when
Lord George kissed hands at Kensington, not a word was said to
How is your fever? tell me, when you have a mind to write, but
don't think it necessary to answer my gazettes; indeed I don't
(908) Now first printed.
(909) The little Volume of Fugitive Pieces, printed this year
at the Strawberry Hill press.
(910) The King.-E.
433 Letter 273
To Sir Horace Mann.
Arlington Street, July 8, 1758.
If you will not take Prince Ferdinand's victory at Crevelt in
full of all accounts, I don't know what you will do--autrement,
we are insolvent. After dodging about the coasts of Normandy
and Bretagne, our armada is returned; but in the hurry of the
retreat from St. Maloes, the Duke of Marlborough left his
silver teaspoons behind. As he had generously sent back an old
woman's finger and gold ring, which one of our soldiers had cut
off, the Duc d'Aiguillon has sent a cartel-ship with the
prisoner-spoons. How they must be diverted with this
tea-equipage, stamped with the Blenheim eagles! and how plain
by this sarcastic compliment what they think of US! Yet We
fancy that we detain forty thousand men on the coast from
Prince Clermont's army! We are sending nine thousand men to
Prince Ferdinand; part, those of the expedition: the remainder
are to make another attempt; perhaps to batter Calais with a
pair of tea-tongs.
I am sorry for the Comte de la Marche, and much more sorry for
the Duc de Gisors.(911) He was recommended to me when he was
in England; I knew him much, and thought as well of him as all
the world did. He was graver, and with much more application
to improve himself, than any young Frenchman of quality I ever
saw. How unfortunate Belleisle is, to have outlived his
brother, his only son, and his hearing! You will be charmed
with an answer of Prince Ferdinand to our Princess Gouvernante
of Holland.(912) She wrote by direction of the States to
complain of his passing over the territories of the Republic.
He replied, "That he was sorry, though he had barely crossed
over a very small corner of their dominions; and should not
have trespassed even there, if he had had the same Dutch guides
to conduct him that led the French army last year to Hanover."
I congratulate 'you on your regale from the Northumberlands.
How seldom people think of all the trouble and expense they put
you to--I amongst the rest! Apropos, if they are not bespoken,
I will not trouble you for the case of drams. Lord Hertford
has given me some of his; the fashion is much on the decline,
and never drinking any myself, these will last me long enough
and considering that I scarce ever give you a commission, but
somehow or other ends at your expense, (witness the medals you
gave me of your own,) it is time for me to check my pen that
asks so flippantly. As I am not mercenary, I cannot bear to
turn you to account; if I was, I should bear it very easily:
but it is ridiculous to profit of one's friends, when one does
not make friendships with that view.
Methinks you don't make a Pope very fast. The battle of
Crevelt has restored him a little, or the head of our church
was very declining. He said the other day to Lady Coventry in
the drawing-room, "Don't look at me, I am a dismal figure; I
have entirely lost one eye."Adieu!
(911) Only son of Marshal Belleisle; he was killed at the
battle of Crevelt: the Comte de la Marche was not.
(912) Anne, eldest daughter of George II. and Princess Dowager
434 Letter 274
To The Hon. H. S. Conway.
Strawberry Hill, July 21, 1758.
Your gazette, I know, has been a little idle; but we volunteer
gazettes, like other volunteers, are not easily tied down to
regularity and rules. We think we have so much merit, that we
think we have a right to some demerit too; and those who depend
upon us, I mean us gazettes, are often disappointed, A
common-foot newspaper may want our vivacity, but is ten times
more useful. Besides, I am not in town, and ten miles out of
it is an hundred miles out of it for all the purposes of news .
You know, of course, that Lord George Sackville refused to go
a-buccaneering again, as he called it; that my friend Lord
Ancram, who loves a dram of any thing, from glory to brandy, is
out of order; that just as Lord Panmure was going to take the
command,@e missed an eye; and that at last they have routed out
an old General Blighe from the horse armoury in Ireland, who is
to undertake the codicil to the expedition. Moreover, you know
that Prince Edward is bound 'prentice to Mr. Howe.(913) All
this you have heard; yet, like my cousin the Chronicle, I
repeat what has been printed in every newspaper of the week,
and then finish with one paragraph of spick and span. Alack!
my postscript is not very fortunate: a convoy of twelve
thousand men, etc. was going to the King of' Prussia, was
attacked unexpectedly by five thousand Austrians, and cut
entirely to pieces; provisions, ammunition, etc. all taken.
The King instantly raised the siege, and retreated with so much
precipitation, that he was forced to nail up sixty pieces of
cannon. I conclude the next we hear of him will be a great
victory-. if he sets over night in a defeat, he always rises
next morning in a triumph--at least, we that have nothing to do
but expect and admire, shall be extremely disappointed if he
does not. Besides, he is three months debtor to Fame.
The only private history of any freshness is, my Lady
Dalkeith's christening; the child had three godfathers: and I
will tell you why: they had thought of the Duke of Newcastle,
my Lord and George Townshend: but of two Townshends and his
grace, God could not take the word of any two of them, so all
three were forced to be bound.
I draw this comfort from the King of Prussia's defeat, that it
may prevent the folly of another expedition: I don't know how
or why, but no reason is a very good one against a thing that
has no reason in it. Eleven hundred men are ill from the last
enterprise. Perhaps Don William Quixote(914) and Admiral
Amadis(915) may determine to send them to the Danube: for, as
no information ever precedes their resolutions, and no
impossibilities ever deter them, I don't see why the Only thing
worthy their consideration should not be, how glorious and
advantageous an exploit it would be, if it could be performed.
Why did Bishop Wilkins try to fly? Not that he thought it
practicable, but because it would be very convenient. As he
did not happen to be a particular favourite of the city of
London, he was laughed at: they prepossessed in his favour, and
he would have received twenty gold boxes, though twenty people
had broken their neck off St. Paul's with trying the
I have heard a whisper, that you do not go into Yorkshire this
summer. Is it true? It is fixed that I go to Ragley(916) on
the 13th of next month; I trust you do so too. have you had
such deluges for three weeks well counted, as we have? If I
had not cut one of my perroquet's wings, and there were an
olive-tree in the country, I would send to know where there is
a foot of dry land.
You have heard, I suppose,--if not, be it known to you,--that
Mr. Keppel, the canon of Windsor, espouses my niece Laura; yes,
Laura.(917) I rejoice much; so I receive your compliments upon
if, lest you as it sometimes happens, forget to make them.
For the pleasure of my conscience I had written all the above
last night, expecting Lord Lyttelton, the Dean, and other
company, This morning I receive yours; and having already told
you all I know, I have only a few paragraphs to answer.
I am pleased that you are pleased about my book:(918) you shall
see it very soon; though there will scarce be a new page:
nobody else shall see it till spring. In the first place, the
prints will not be finished: in the next, I intend that two or
three other things shall appear before it from my press, of
other authors; for I will not surfeit people with my writings,
nor have them think that I propose to find employment alone for
a whole press--so far from it, I intend to employ it no more
I will certainly try to see you during your waiting.,' Adieu!
(913) In the preceding month, Prince Edward had been appointed
a midshipman, and in July embarked on board the Essex,
commanded by Lord Howe, upon the expedition against
(914) William Pitt, secretary of state.
(915) Lord Anson, first lord of the admiralty.
(916) The seat of the Earl of Hertford.
(917) the eldest daughter of Sir Edward Walpole.
(918) Anecdotes of Painting.
(919) As groom of the bedchamber to the King.
436 Letter 275
To The Rev. Henry Zouch.(920)
Strawberry Hill, August 3d, 1758.
I have received, with much pleasure and surprise, the favour of
your remarks upon my Catalogue; and whenever I have the
opportunity of being better known to you, I shall endeavour to
express my gratitude for the trouble you have given yourself in
contributing to perfect a work,(921) which, notwithstanding
your obliging expressions, I fear you found very little worthy
the attention of so much good sense and knowledge, Sir, as you
possess. I am extremely thankful for all the information you
have given me; I had already met with a few of the same lights
as I have received, Sir, from you, as I shall mention in their
place. The very curious accounts of Lord Fairfax were entirely
new and most acceptable to me. If I decline making use of one
or two of your hints, I believe I can explain my reasons to
your satisfaction. I will, with your leave, go regularly
through your letter.
As Caxton(922) laboured in the monastery of Westminster, it is
not at all unlikely that he should wear the habit, nor,
considering how vague our knowledge of that age is, impossible
but he might enter the order.
I have met with Henry's institution of a Christian, and shall
give you an account of it in my next edition. In that, too, I
shall mention, that Lord Cobham's(923) allegiance professed at
his death to Richard II. probably means to Richard and his
right heirs, whom he had abandoned for the house of Lancaster.
As the article is printed off, it is too late to say any thing
more about his works.
In all the old books of genealogy you will find, Sir, that
young Richard Duke of York(924) was solemnly married to a child
of his own age, Anne Mowbray, the heiress of Norfolk, who died
young as well as he.
The article of the Duke of Somerset is printed off too;
besides, I should imagine the letter you mention not to be of
his own composition, for, though not illiterate, he certainly
could not write any thing like classic Latin.(925) I may, too,
possibly, have inclusively mentioned the very letter; I have
not Ascham's book, to see from what copy the letter was taken,
but probably from one of those which I have said is in Bennet
The Catalogue of Lord Brooke's works is taken from the volume
of his works; such pieces of his as I found doubted,
particularly the tragedy of Cicero, I have taken notice of as
In my next edition you will see, Sir, a note on Lord Herbert,
who, besides being with the King at York, had offended the
peers by a speech in his Majesty's defence. Mr. Wolseley's
preface I shall mention, from your information. Lord
Rochester's letters to his son are letters to a child, bidding
him mind his book and his grandmother. I had already been
told, Sir, what you tell me of marchmont Needham.
Matthew Clifford I have altered to Martin, as you prescribe:
the blunder was my own, as well as a more considerable one,
that of Lord Sandwich's death--which was occasioned by my
supposing at first, that the translation of Barba(926) was made
by the second earl, whose death I had marked in the list, and
forgot to alter, after I had writ the account of the father. I
shall take care to set this right, as the second volume is not
yet begun to be printed.
Lord Halifax's maxims I have already marked down, as I shall
Lord Dorset's share in Pompey.
The account of the Duke of Wharton's death I had from a very
good hand--Captain Willoughby; who, in the convent where the
duke died, saw a picture of him in the habit. If it was a
Bernardine convent, the Gentleman might confound them; but,
considering that there is no life of the duke but bookseller's
trash, it is much more likely that they mistook.
I have no doubts about Lord Belhaven's speeches; but unless I
could verify their being published by himself, it were contrary
to my rule to insert them.
If you look, Sir, into Lord Clarendon's account Of Montrose's
death, you will perceive that there is no probability of the
book of his actions being composed by himself.
I will consult Sir James Ware's book on Lord Totness's and I
will mention the Earl of Cork's Memoirs.
Lord Lessington is the Earl of Monmouth, in whose article I
have taken notice of his Romulus and Tarquin.
Lord Berkeley's book I have actually got, and shall give him an
There is one more passage, Sir, in your letter, which I cannot
answer, without putting you to new trouble-a liberty which all
your indulgence cannot justify me in taking; else I would beg
to know on what authority you attribute to Laurence Earl of
Rochester(927) the famous preface to his father's history,
which I have always heard ascribed to Atterbury, Smallridge,
and Aldridge. The knowledge of this would be an additional
favour; it would be a much greater, Sir, if coming this way,
you would ever let me have the honour of seeing a gentleman to
whom I am so much obliged.
(920) The Rev. Henry Zouch was the elder brother of Dr. Thomas
Zouch, better known in the literary world. Henry principally
dedicated himself to the performance of his duties as a
clergyman, a country gentleman and a magistrate; in all which
characters he was highly exemplary. He published several works
connected with these avocations, particularly on the management
of prisons, and on other points of police. He had, also,
earlier days, been a poet; and these letters show that he was
well acquainted with the literary history and antiquities of
his country. Having lived in close intimacy and friendship
with Mr. Walpole's friend and correspondent, William Earl of
Strafford, it is probable that through him he became interested
in Mr. Walpole's pursuits, and disposed to contribute that
assistance towards the perfection of the "Catalogue of Royal
and Noble authors," which is so justly acknowledged by Mr.
Walpole. Mr. Zouch died at the family seat of sandall, in
Yorkshire, of which parish he was also vicar, in June, 1795;
leaving his friend and kinsman, the Earl of lonsdale, his
executor, by whose favour these letters are now given to the
public. The exact time of his birth is not ascertained; but as
he was an A. B. of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1746, he
probably was born about 1725.-C. [Mr. Walpole's Letters to the
Rev. Henry Zouch first appeared in the year 1805, edited by the
Right Honourable John Wilson Croker; to whose notes the initial
C. is affixed.]
(921) The "Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors," originally
published by Mr. Walpole in 1758. Mr. Zouch appears to have
commenced the correspondence on the occasion of this
publication. The author of the Catalogue received much of the
same kind of assistance as was given to him by Mr. Zouch; but
as editor, Mr. Park, says, "it would seem that Lord Orford was
more thankful for communications tendered, than desirous to let
the contents of them be seen."-C.
(922) It is probable that Mr. Zouch objected to Mr. Walpole's
assertion, that the illumination prefixed to a manuscript in
Lambeth library, of Earl Rivers's translation of "The Dictes
and Sayings of the Philosophers, by Jehan de Teonville,"
represented the Earl introducing Caxton to Edward IV. Mr.
Zouch seems to have very properly doubted whether Caxton would
wear the clerical habit, as the figure referred to in that
illumination does; and Mr. Walpole replies to that doubt. Upon
the same subject, Mr. Cole says, qu. how Lord Orford came to
know the kneeling figure in a clerical habit, was Caxton the
printer? He is certainly a priest, as is evident from his
tonsure, but I do not think that Caxton was in orders. I
should rather suppose that it was designed for Jehan de
Teonville, provost of Paris."-C.
(923) Mr. Walpole did make this promised statement in the
following note: "King Richard had long been dead; I suppose it
is only meant that Lord Cobham disclaimed obedience to the
house of Lancaster, who had usurped the throne of King Richard
and his right heirs."-C.
(924) He was married on the 15th of January, 1477-8, in the
fourth year of his age.-C.
(925) In a subsequent edition Mr. Walpole recites the title of
this letter, "Epistola exhortatoria missa ad Nobilitatem ac
Plebem universumque Populum Regni Scotiae," printed in 4to. at
London, 1548; and he adds, this might possibly be composed by
some dependant. We do not exactly see the grounds of Walpole's
assertion, that the Lord Protector Somerset "could not write
any thing like classic Latin;": although we admit that his
having been chancellor of Cambridge is not conclusive evidence
upon this subject; and that it is probable that the letter was
written by his secretary.-C.
(926) "The Art of Metals, in which is declared the manner of
their generation." Albara Alonzo Barba was curate of St.
Bernard's in Potosi. This work, which contains a great deal of
practical information on mining, has also been translated into
German and French. The English editions are very scarce, and a
republication might be desirable in this age of mining
(927) Second son of the great Lord Clarendon. Mr. Walpole
makes no mention of this preface, but Mr. Park seems to have
entertained the same idea as Mr. Zouch, as he says, "His
lordship merits honourable notice in the present work, as the
conceived author of a preface to the first edition of his noble
father's history, which abounds with dignified sentiment and
439 Letter 276
To The Rev. Henry Zouch.
Strawberry Hill, August 12, 1758.
It were a disrespect to your order, of which I hope you think
me incapable, not to return an immediate answer to the favour
of your last, the engaging modesty of which would raise my
esteem if I had not felt it before for you. I certainly do not
retract my desire of being better acquainted with you, Sir,
from the knowledge you are pleased to give me of yourself.
Your profession is an introduction any where; but, before I
learned that, you will do me the justice to observe, that your
good sense and learning were to me sufficient recommendation;
and though, in the common intercourse of the world, rank and
birth have their proper distinctions, there is certainly no
occasion for them between men whose studies and inclinations
are the same. Indeed, I know nothing that gives me any
pretence to think any gentlemen my inferior. I am a very
private person myself, and if I have any thing to boast from my
birth, it is from the good understanding, not from the nobility
of my father. I must beg, therefore, that, in the future
correspondence, which I hope we shall have, you will neither
show me, nor think I expect, a respect to which I have no
manner of title, and which I wish not for, unless it would
enable me to be of service to gentlemen of merit, like
yourself. I will say no more on this head, but to repeat, that
if any occasion should draw you to this part of England, (as I
shall be sorry if it is ill health that has carried you from
home,) I flatter myself you will let me have the satisfaction
and, for the last time of using so formal a word, the honour of
In the mean time, you will oblige me by letting me know how I
can convey my Catalogue to you. I ought, I know, to stay till
I can send you a more correct edition; but, though the first
volume is far advanced, the second may profit by your remarks.
If you could send me the passage and the page in Vardus,
relating to the Earl of Totness, it would much oblige ne; for I
have only the English edition; and as I am going a little
journey for a week, cannot just now get the Latin.
You mention, Sir, Mr. Thoresby's museum: is it still preserved
I would fain ask you another question, very foreign to any
thing I have been saying, but from your searches into
antiquity, you may possibly, Sir, be able to explain what
nobody whom I have consulted hitherto can unravel. At the end
of the second part of the p. 105, in the folio edition, is a
letter from Henry VIII. to the Cardinal Cibo, dated from our
palace, Mindas, 10th July, 1527. In no map, topographical
account, or book of antiquity, can I possibly find such house
or place as Mindas.(928)
(928) See this corrected as a typographical mistake, post, p.
440 Letter 277
To Sir Horace Mann.
Strawberry Hill, Aug. 12, 1758.
It is not a thousand years since I wrote to you, is it?--nay,
if it is, blame the King of Prussia, who has been firing away
his time at Olmutz; blame Admiral Howe, who never said a word
of having taken Cherbourg till yesterday.--Taken Cherbourg!--
yes, he has--he landed within six miles of it on the 6th, saw
some force, who only stayed to run away; attacked a fort, a
magazine blew up, the Guards marched against a body of French,
who again made fools of them, pretending to stand, and then ran
away--and then, and then, why, then we took Cherbourg. We
pretended to destroy the works. and a basin that has just cost
two millions. We have not lost twenty men. The City of
London, I suppose, is drinking brave Admiral Howe's and brave
Cherbourg's health; but I miss all these festivities by going
into Warwickshire tomorrow to Lord Hertford. In short,
Cherbourg comes very opportunely: we had begun to grow peevish
at Louisbourg not being arrived, and there are some(929) people
at least as peevish that Prince de Soubize has again walked
into Hanover after having demolished the Hessians. Prince
Ferdinand, who a fortnight ago was as great a hero as if he had
been born in Thames Street, is kept in check by Monsieur de
Contades, and there are some little apprehensions that our
Blues, etc., will not be able to join him. Cherbourg will set
all to rights; the King of Prussia may fumble as much as he
pleases, and though the French should not be frightened out of
their senses at the loss of this town, we shall be fully
persuaded they are, and not a gallon less of punch will be
drunk from Westminster to Wapping.
I have received your two letters of July 1st and 7th, with the
prices of Stosch's medals, and the history of the new
pontificate. I will not meddle with the former, content with
and thanking you much for those you send me; and for the case
of liqueurs, which I don't intend to present myself with, but
to pay you for.
You must, I think, take up with this scrap of a letter;
consider it contains a conquest. If I wrote any longer, before
I could finish my letter, perhaps I should hear that our fleet
was come back again, and, though I should be glad they were
returned safely, it diminishes the lustre of a victory to have
a tame conclusion to it-without that, you are left at liberty
to indulge vision--Cherbourg is in France, Havre and St. Maloes
may catch the panic, Calais my be surprised, that may be
followed by a battle which we may gain; it is but a march of a
few days to Paris, the King flies to his good allies the Dutch
for safety, Prince Edward takes possession of the Bastile in
his brother's name, to whom the King, content with England and
Hanover--alas! I had forgot that he has just lost the
Mr. Conway, who is just come in to carry me away, brings an
account of an important advantage gained by a detachment of six
battalions of Hanoverians, who have demolished fourteen of the
French, and thereby secured the magazines and a junction with
(929) The King.
441 Letter 278
To George Montagu, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, Aug. 20, 1758.
After some silence, one might take the opportunity of
Cherbourg(930) and Louisbourg(931) to revive a little
correspondence with popular topics; but I think you are no
violent politician, and I am full as little so; I will
therefore tell you of what I of course care more, and I am
willing to presume you do too; that is, myself. I have been
journeying much since I heard from you; first to the Vine,
where I was greatly pleased with the alterations; the garden is
quite beautified and the house dignified. We went over to the
Grange, that sweet house of my Lord Keeper's(932) that you saw
too. The pictures are very good, and I was particularly
pleased with the procession, which you were told was by Rubens,
but is certainly Vandyke's sketch for part of that great work,
that he was to have executed in the Banqueting-house. You did
not tell me of a very fine Holbein, a woman, who was evidently
some princess of the White Rose.
I am just now returned from Ragley, which has had a great deal
done to it since I was there last. Browne(933) has improved
both the ground and the water, though not quite to perfection.
This is the case of the house: where there are no striking
faults, but it wants a few Chute or Bentley touches. I have
recommended some dignifying of the saloon with Seymours and
Fitzroys, Henry the Eighths and Charles the Seconds. They will
correspond well to the proudest situation imaginable. I have
already dragged some ancestors out of the dust there, written
their names on their portraits; besides which, I have found and
brought up to have repaired an incomparable picture of Van
Helmont by Sir Peter Lely.--But now for recoveries---think what
I have in part recovered! Only the state papers, private
letters, etc., etc., of the two Lords Conway,(934) secretaries
of state. How you will rejoice and how you will grieve! They
seem to have laid up every scrap of paper they ever had. from
the middle of Queen Elizabeth's reign to the middle of Charles
the Second's. By the accounts of the family there were whole
rooms full; all which, during the absence of the last and the
minority of the present lord, were by the ignorance of a
steward consigned to the oven and the uses of the house. What
remained, except one box that was kept till almost rotten in a
cupboard, were thrown loose into the lumber room; where, spread
on the pavement, they supported old marbles and screens and
boxes. From thence I have dragged all I could, and, have
literally, taking all together, brought away a chest near five
feet long, three wide, and two deep, brim full. Half are
bills, another part rotten, another gnawed by rats; yet I have
already found enough to repay my trouble and curiosity, not
enough to satisfy it. I will only tell you of three letters of
the great Strafford and three long ones of news of Mr. Gerrard,
master of the Charter-house; all six written on paper edged
with green, like modern French paper. There are handwritings
of every body, all their seals perfect, and the ribands with
which they tied their letters. The original proclamations of
Charles the First, signed by the privy council; a letter to
King James from his son-in-law of Bohemia, with his seal; and
many, very many letters of negotiation from the Earl of Bristol
in Spain, Sir Dudley Carleton, Lord Chichester, and Sir Thomas
Roe.--What say you? will not here be food for the press?
I have picked up a little painted glass too, and have got a
promise of some old statues, lately dug up, which formerly
adorned the cathedral of Litchfield. You see I continue to
labour in my vocation, of which I can give you a comical
instance:--I remembered a rose in painted glass in a little
village going to Ragley, which I remarked passing by five years
ago; told Mr. Conway on which hand it would b, and found it in
the very spot. I saw a very good and perfect tomb at Alcester
of Sir Fulke Greville's father and mother, and a wretched old
house with a very handsome gateway of stone at Colton,
belonging to Sir Robert Throckmorton. There is nothing else
tolerable but twenty-two coats of the matches of the family in
painted glass.--You cannot imagine how astonished a Mr.
Seward,(935) a learned clergyman, was, who came to Ragley while
I was there. Strolling about the house, he saw me first
sitting on the pavement of the lumber room with Louis, all over
cobwebs and dust and mortar; then found me in his own room on a
ladder writing on a picture; and half an hour afterwards lying
on the grass in the court with the dogs and the children, in my
slippers and without my hat. He had had some doubt whether I
was the painter or the factotum of the family; but you would
have died at his surprise when he saw me walk into dinner
dressed and sit by Lady Hertford. Lord Lyttelton was there,
and the conversation turned on literature: finding me not quite
ignorant added to the parson's wonder; but he could not contain
himself any longer, when after dinner he saw me go to romps and
jumping with the two boys; he broke out to my Lady Hertford,
and begged to know who and what sort of man I really was, for
he had never met with any thing of the kind. Adieu!
(930) About the middle of this month General Blighe had landed
with an army on the coast of France, near Cherbourg, destroyed
the basin, harbour, and forts of that place, and re-embarked
his troops without loss.
(931) Alluding to the surrender of Louisbourg and the whole
island of Cape Breton on the coast of North America to General
Amherst and Admiral Boscawen.
(932) Lord Keeper Henley, in 1761 made lord chancellor, and in
1764 created Lord Northington.-E.
(933) Capability Browne. See vol. ii. p. 112, letter 46.-E.
(934) Sir Edward Conway, secretary of state to James the First,
created Baron Conway in 1624; and Edward Conway, his grandson,
secretary of state in the reign of Charles the Second, 1679,
created Earl of Conway.-E.
(935) The Rev. Thomas Seward, canon residentiary of Lichfield,
and father of Ann Seward the poetess.-E.
443 Letter 279
To John Chute, Esq.(936)
Arlington Street, August 22, 1758.
By my ramble into Warwickshire I am so behindhand in politics,
that I don't know where to begin to tell you any news, and
which by this time would not be news to you. My table is
covered with gazettes, victories and defeats which have come in
such a lump, that I am not quite sure whether it is Prince
Ferdinand or Prince Boscawen that has taken Louisbourg, nor
whether it is the late Lord Howe or the present that is killed
at Cherbourg. I am returning to Strawberry, and shall make Mr.
M`untz's German and military sang-froid set the map in my head
I saw my Lord Lyttelton and Miller at Ragley; the latter put me
out of all patience. As he has heard me talked of lately, he
thought it not below him to consult me on ornaments for my
lord's house. I, who know nothing but what I have purloined
from Mr. Bentley and you, and who have not forgotten how little
they tasted your real taste and charming plan, was rather
lost.--To my comfort, I have seen the plan of their hall; it is
stolen from Houghton, and mangled frightfully: and both their
eating-room and salon are to be stucco, with pictures.
I have not time or paper to give you a full account of' a vast
treasure that I have discovered at Lord Hertford's, and brought
away with me. If I were but so lucky as to be thirty years
older, i might have been much luckier. In short, I have got
the remains of vast quantities of letters and state papers of
the two Lords Conway, secretaries of state--forty times as many
have been using for the oven and the house, by sentence of a
steward during my lord's minority. Most of what I have got are
gnawed by rats, rotten, or not worth a straw: and yet I shall
save some volumes of what is very curious and valuable--three
letters of Mr. Gerrard, of the Charter-house, some of Lord
Strafford, and two of old Lennox, the Duchess, etc., etc. In
short, if I can but continue to live thirty years
extraordinary, in lieu of those I have missed, I shall be able
to give to the world some treasures from the press at
Strawberry. Do tell me a little of your motions, and good
(936) Now first printed.
444 Letter 280
To Sir Horace Mann.
Strawberry Hill, Aug. 24, 1758.
You must go into laurels, you must go into mourning. our
expedition has taken Cherbourg shamefully--I mean the French
lost it shamefully--and then stood looking on while we
destroyed all their works, particularly a basin that had cost
vast sums. But, to balance their awkwardness with ours, it
proved to be an open place, which we might have taken when we
were before it a month ago. The fleet is now off Portland,
expecting orders for landing or proceeding. Prince Edward gave
the ladies a ball, and told them he was too young to know what
was good-breeding in France, he would therefore behave as he
should if meaning to please in England--and kissed them all.
Our next and greatest triumph is the taking of Cape Breton, the
account of which came on Friday. The French have not improved
like their wines by crossing the sea; but lost their spirit at
Louisbourg as much as on their own coast. The success,
especially, in the destruction of their fleet, is very great:
the triumphs not at all disproportioned to the conquest, of
which you will see all the particulars in the Gazette. Now for
the chapter of cypresses. The attempt on Crown-point has
failed; Lord Howe(937) was killed in a skirmish; and two days
afterwards by blunders, rashness, and bad intelligence, we
received a great blow at Ticonderoga. There is a Gazette, too,
with all the history of this. My hope is that Cape Breton may
buy us Minorca and a peace, I have great satisfaction in
Captain Hervey's gallantry; not only he is my friend, but I
have the greatest regard for and obligations to my Lady Hervey;
he is her favourite son and she is particularly happy.
Mr. Wills is arrived and has sent me the medals, for which I
give you a million of thanks; the scarce ones are not only
valuable for the curiosity of them, but for their preservation.
I laughed heartily at the Duke of Argyll, and am particularly
pleased with the Jesus Rex noster.(938)
Chevert, the best and most sensible of the French officers, has
been beat by a much smaller number under the command of Imhoff,
who, I am told, would be very stupid, if a German could be so.
I think they hope a little still for Hanover, from this
success. Of the King of Prussia--not a word.
My lady Bath has had a paralytic stroke, which drew her mouth
aside and took away her speech. I never heard a greater
instance of cool sense; she made sign for a pen and ink, and
wrote Palsy. They got immediate assistance, and she is
As I wrote to you but a minute ago, I boldly conclude this
(937) General George Augustus, third Viscount Howe. He was
succeeded in the title by his brother Richard, the celebrated
admiral. Mr. George Grenville, in a letter to Mr. Pitt, of the
28th, pays the following tribute to his memory:-"I admired his
virtuous, gallant character, and lament his loss accordingly: I
cannot help thinking it peculiarly unfortunate for his country
and his friends, that he should fall in the first action of
this war, before his spirit and his example, and the success
and glory which, in all human probability, would have attended
them, had produced their full effect on our troops, and those
of the enemy." Chatham Correspondence, vol. i. p. 339.-E.
(938) Inscription on a silver coin of the republic of Florence,
who declared Jesus Christ their King, to prevent the usurpation
of Pope Clement VII.
445 Letter 281
To The Hon. H. S. Conway.
Strawberry Hill, Sept. 2, 1758.
It is well I have got something to pay you for the best letter
that ever was! A vast victory, I own, does not entertain me so
much as a good letter; but you are bound to like any thing
military better than your own wit, and therefore I hope you
will think a defeat of the Russians a better bon-mot than any
you sent me. Should you think it clever if the King of Prussia
has beaten them? How much cleverer if he has taken three
lieutenant-generals and an hundred pieces of cannon? How much
cleverer still, if he has left fifteen thousand Muscovites dead
on the Spot?(939) Does the loss of only three thousand of his
own men take off from or sharpen the sting of this joke? In
short, all this is fact, as a courier arrived at Sion Hill this
morning affirms. The city, I suppose, expect that his Majesty
will now be"at leisure to step to Ticonderoga and repair our
mishaps.(940) But I shall talk no more politics; if this finds
you at Chatworth, as I suppose it will, you will be better
informed than from me.
lady Mary Coke arrived at Ragley between two and three in the
morning; how unlucky that I was not there to offer her part of
an aired bed! But how could you think of the proposal you have
made me? Am not I already in love with "the youngest,
handsomest, and wittiest widow in England?" As Herculean a
labourer as I am, as Tom Hervey says, I don't choose another.
I am still in the height of my impatience for the chest of old
papers from Ragley, which, either by the fault of their
servants, or of the wagoner, is not yet arrived. I shall go to
London again on Monday in quest of it; and in truth think so
much of it, that, when I first heard of the victory this
morning, I rejoiced, as we were likely now to recover the
Palatinate. Good night!
(939) The defeat of the Russians at Zorndorf.
(940) The repulse of General Abercrombie at Ticonderoga.
446 Letter 282
To Sir Horace Mann.
Strawberry Hill, Sept. 9, 1758.
Well! the King of Prussia is found again--where do you think?
only in Poland, up to the chin in Russians! Was ever such a
man! He was riding home from Olmutz; they ran and told him of
an army of Muscovites,(941) as you would of a covey of
partridges; he galloped thither, and shot them. But what news
I am telling you! I forgot that all ours comes by
water-carriage, and that you must know every thing a fortnight
before us. It is incredible how popular he is here; except a
few, who take him for the same person as Mr. Pitt, the lowest
of the people are perfectly acquainted with him: as I was
walking by the river the other night, a bargeman asked me for
something to drink the King of Prussia's health. Yet Mr. Pitt
specifies his own glory as much as he can: the standards taken
at Louisbourg have been carried to St. Paul's with much parade;
and this week, after bringing it by land from Portsmouth, they
have dragged the cannon of Cherbourg into Hyde Park, on
pretence of diverting a man,(942) whom, in former days, I
believe, Mr. Pitt has laughed for loving such rattles as drums
and trumpets. Our expedition, since breaking a basin at
Cherbourg, has done nothing, but are dodging about still.
Prince Edward gave one hundred guineas to the poor of
Cherbourg, and the General and Admiral twenty-five apiece. I
love charity, but sure is this excess of it, to lay out
thousands, and venture so many lives, for the opportunity of
giving a Christmas-box to your enemies! Instead of beacons, I
suppose, the coast of France will be hung with pewter-pots with
a slit in them, as prisons are, to receive our alms.
Don't trouble yourself about the Pope: I am content to find
that he will by no means eclipse my friend. You please me with
telling me of a collection of medals bought for the Prince of
Wales. I hope it Is his own taste; if it is only thought right
that he should have it, I am glad.
I am again got into the hands of builders, though this time to
a very small extent; only the addition of a little cloister and
bedchamber. A day may come that will produce a gallery, a
round tower, a large cloister, and a cabinet, in the manner of
a little chapel: but I am too poor for these ambitious designs
yet, and I have so many ways of dispersing My Money, that I
don't know when I shall be richer. However, I amuse myself
infinitely; besides my printing-house, which is constantly at
work, besides such a treasure of taste and drawing as my friend
Mr. Bentley, I have a painter in the house, who is an engraver
too, a mechanic, an every thing. He was a Swiss engineer in
the French service; but his regiment being broken at the peace,
Mr. Bentley found him in the Isle of Jersey and fixed him with
me. He has an astonishing genius for landscape, and added to
that, all the industry and patience of a German. We are just
now practising, and have succeeded surprisingly in a new method
of painting, discovered at Paris by Count Caylus, and intended
to be the encaustic method of the ancients. My Swiss has
painted, I am writing the account,(943) and my press is to
notify our improvements. As you will know that way, I will not
tell you here at large. In short, to finish all the works I
have in hand, and all the schemes I have in my head, I cannot
afford to live less than fifty years more. What pleasure it
would give me to see you here for a moment! I should think I
saw you and your dear brother at once! Can't you form some
violent secret expedition against Corsica or Port Mahon, which
may make it necessary for you to come and settle here? Are we
to correspond till we meet in some unknown world? Alas! I fear
so; my dear Sir, you are as little likely to save money as I
am--would you could afford to resign your crown and be a
subject at Strawberry Hill! Adieu!
P. S. I have forgot to tell you of a wedding in our family; my
brother's eldest daughter(944) is to be married tomorrow to
lord Albemarle's third brother, a canon of Windsor. We are
very happy with the match. The bride is very agreeable, and
sensible, and good; not so handsome as her sisters, but further
from ugliness than beauty. It is the second, Maria,(945) who
is beauty itself! Her face, bloom, eyes, hair, teeth, and
person are all perfect. You may imagine how charming she is,
when her only fault, if one must find one, is, that her face is
rather too round. She has a great deal of wit and vivacity,
with perfect modesty. I must tell you too of their
brother:(946) he was on the expedition to St. Maloes; a party
of fifty men appearing on a hill, he was despatched to
reconnoitre with only eight men. Being stopped by a brook, he
prepared to leap it; an old sergeant dissuaded him, from the
inequality of the numbers. "Oh!" said the boy, "I will tell you
what; our profession is bred up to so much regularity that any
novelty terrifies them--with our light English horses we will
leap this stream; and I'll be d--d if they don't run." He did
so, and they did so. However, he was not content; but insisted
that each of his party should carry back a prisoner before
them. They got eight, when they overtook an elderly man, to
whom they offered quarter, bidding him lay down his arms. He
replied, "they were English, the enemies of his King and
country; that he hated them, and had rather be killed." My
nephew hesitated a minute, and said, "I see you are a brave
fellow, and don't fear death, but very likely you fear a
beating-if you don't lay down your arms this instant, my men
shall drub you as long as they can stand over you." The fellow
directly flung down his arms in a passion. The Duke of
Marlborough sent my brother word of this, adding, it was the
only clever action in their whole exploit. Indeed I am pleased
with it; for besides his spirit, I don't see, with this thought
and presence of mind, why he should not make a general. I
return to one little word of the King of Prussia-- shall I tell
you? I fear all this time he is only fattening himself with
glory for Marshal Daun, who will demolish him at last, and
then, for such service, be shut up in some fortress or in the
inquisition--for it is impossible but the house of Austria must
indemnify themselves for so many mortifications by some horrid
(941) This was the battle of Zorndorf, fought on the @5th of
August, 1758, and gained by the King of Prussia over the
Russians, commanded by Count Fermor.-D.
(942) The King.
(943) M`untz left Mr. Walpole, and published another account
(944) Laura, this eldest daughter of Sir Edward Walpole,
married to Dr. Frederick Keppel, afterwards Dean of Windsor and
Bishop of Exeter.
(945) Maria, second daughter, married first to James second
Earl of Waldegrave, and afterwards to William Henry Duke of
Gloucester, brother to King George the Third.
(946) Edward, only son of Sir Edward Walpole. He died young.
448 Letter 283
To The Rev. Henry Zouch.
Strawberry Hill, September 14, 1758.
Though the approaching edition of my Catalogue is so far
advanced that little part is left now for any alteration, yet
as a book of that kind is always likely to be reprinted from
the new persons who grow entitled to a place in it, and as long
as it is in my power I shall wish to correct and improve it, I
must again thank you, Sir, for the additional trouble you have
given yourself. The very first article strikes me much. May I
ask where, and in what page of what book, I can find Sir R.
Cotton's account of Richard II.(947) being an author: does not
he mean Richard I.?
The Basilicon Doron is published in the folio of K. James's
works, and contains instructions to his son, Prince Henry. In
return, I will ask you where you find those verses of Herbert;
and I would also ask you, how you have had time to find and
know so much?
Lord Leicester, and much less the Duke of Monmouth, will
scarce, I fear, come under the description I have laid down to
myself of authors. I doubt the first did not compose his own
Did the Earl of Bath publish, or only design to publish,
Dionysius?(948) Shall I find the account in Usher's Letters?
Since you are so very kind, Sir, as to favour me with your
assistance, shall I beg, Sir, to prevent my repeating trouble
to you, just to mark at any time where you find the notices you
impart to Me; for, though the want of a citation is the effect
of my ignorance, it has the same consequence to you.
I have not the Philosophical Transactions, but I will hereafter
examine them on the hints you mention, particularly for Lord
Brounker,(949) who I did not know had written, though I have
often thought it probable he did. As I have considered Lord
Berkeley's Love-letters, I have no doubt but they are a
fiction, though grounded on a real story.
That Lord Falkland was a writer of controversy appears by the
list of his works, and that he is said to have assisted
Chillingworth: that he wrote against Chillingworth, you see,
Sir, depends upon very vague authority; that is, upon the
assertion of an anonymous person, who wrote so above a hundred
James, Earl of Marlborough, is entirely a new author to me--at
present, too late. Lord Raymond I had inserted, and he will
appear in the next edition.
I have been as unlucky, for the present, about Lord Totness.
In a collection published in Ireland, called Hibernica, I
found, but too late, that he translated another very curious
piece, relating to Richard II. However, Sir, with these, and
the very valuable helps I have received from you, I shall be
able, at a proper time, to enrich another edition much.
(947) Mr. Walpole takes no notice of Richard II. as an author;
but Mr. park inserts this prince as a writer of ballads. In a
letter to Archbishop Usher, Sir Robert Cotton requested his
grace to procure for him a poem by Richard II. which that
prelate had pointed out.-C.
(948) Spelman's is the only English translation of the
Antiquities of Dionysius Halicarnassensis, known to be
(949) He wrote several papers in the Philosophical
Transactions, and also translated Descartes' Music Compendium.-
449 Letter 284
To The Hon. H. S. Conway.(950)
Arlington Street, Sept. 19, 1758.
I have all my life laughed at ministers in my letters; but at
least with the decency of obliging them to break open the seal.
You have more noble frankness, and send your satires to the
post with not so much as a wafer, as my Lord Bath did sometimes
in my father's administration. I scarce laughed more at the
inside of your letter than at the cover--not a single button to
the waistband of its beseeches, but all its nakedness fairly
laid open! what was worse, all Lady Mary Coke's nakedness was
laid open at the same time. Is this your way of treating a
dainty widow! What will Mr. Pitt think of all this? will he
begin to believe that you have some spirit, when, with no fear
of Dr. Shebbeare's example(951) before your eyes, you speak
your Mind so freely, without any modification? As Mr. Pitt may
be cooled a little to his senses, perhaps he may now find out,
that a grain of prudence is no bad ingredient in a mass of
courage; in short, he and the mob are at last undeceived, and
have found, by sad experience that all the cannon of France has
not been brought into Hyde Park. An account, which you will
see in the Gazette, (though a little better disguised than your
letters,) is come that after our troops had been set on shore,
and left there, till my Lord Howe went somewhere else, and
cried Hoop! having nothing else to do for four days to amuse
themselves, nor knowing whether there was a town within a
hundred miles, went staring about the country to see whether
there were any Frenchmen left in France; which Mr. Pitt, in
very fine words, had assured them there was not, and which my
Lord Howe, in very fine silence, had confirmed. However,
somehow or other, (Mr. Deputy Hodges says they were not French,
but Papists sent from Vienna to assist the King of France,)
twelve battalions fell upon our rear-guard, and, which General
Blighe says is "very Common," (I suppose he means that rashness
and folly should run itself' into a scrape,)--were all cut to
pieces or taken. The town says, Prince Edward (Duke of York)
ran hard to save himself; I don't mean too fast, but scarcely
fast enough; and the General says, that Lord Frederick
Cavendish, your friend, is safe; the thing he seems to have
thought of most, except a little vain parade of his own
self-denial on his nephew. I shall not be at all surprised if,
to show he was not in the wrong, Mr. Pitt should get ready
another expedition by the depth of winter, and send it in
search of the cannons and colours of these twelve battalions.
Pray Heaven your letter don't put it in his head to give you
the command! It is not true, that he made the King ride upon
one of the cannons to the Tower.
I was really touched with my Lady Howe's advertisement,(952)
though I own at first it made me laugh; for seeing an address
to the voters for Nottingham signed "Charlotte Howe," I
concluded (they are so manly a family) that Mrs. Howe,(953) who
rides a fox-chase, and dines at the table d'h`ote at Grantham,
intended to stand for member of Parliament.
Sir John Armitage died on board a ship before the landing; Lady
Hardwickc's nephew, Mr. Cocks, scarce recovered of his
Cherbourg wound, is killed.' He had seven thousand pounds a
year, and was volunteer. I don't believe his uncle and aunt
advised his venturing so much money.
My Lady Burlington is very ill, and the distemper shows itself
oddly; she breaks out all over in-curses and blasphemies. Her
maids are afraid of catching them, and will hardly venture into
On reading over your letter again, I begin to think that the
connexion between Mr. Pitt and my dainty widow is stronger than
I imagined. One of them must have caught of the other that
noble contempt which makes a thing's being impossible not
signify. It sounds very well in sensible mouths; but how
terrible to be the chambermaid or the army of such people! I
really am in a panic, and having some mortal impossibilities
about me which a dainty widow might not allow to signify, I
will balance a little between her and my Lady Carlisle, who, I
believe, knows that impossibilities do signify. These were
some of my reflections on reading your letter again; another
was, that I am now convinced you sent your letter open to the
post on purpose; you knew It was so good a letter that every
body ought to see it-and yet you would pass for a modest man!
I am glad I am not in favour enough to be consulted by my Lord
Duchess(954) on the Gothic farm; she would have given me so
many fine and unintelligible reasons why it should not be as it
should be, that I should have lost a little of my patience.
You don't tell me if the goose-board in hornbean is quite
finished; and have you forgot that I actually was in t'other
goose-board, the conjuring room?
I wish you joy on your preferment in the militia, though I do
not think it quite so safe an employment as it used to be. If
George Townshend's disinterested virtue should grow impatient
for a regiment, he will persuade Mr. Pitt that the militia arc
the only troops in the world for taking Rochfort. Such a
scheme would answer all his purposes - would advance his own
interest, contradict the Duke's opinion, who holds militia
cheap, and by the ridiculousness of the attempt would furnish
very good subjects to his talent of buffoonery in black-lead.
The King of Prussia you may believe is in Petersburg, but he
happens to be in Dresden. Good night! Mine and Sir Harry
Hemlock's services to my Lady Ailesbury.
(950) Now first printed.
(951) Dr. Shebbeare had just before been sentenced to fine,
imprisonment, and the pillory for his Sixth Letter to the
People of England. The under-sheriff, however, allowed him to
stand on, instead of in, the pillory; for which lenity he was
(952 On the news of the death of Lord Howe reaching the dowager
Lady Howe, she addressed the gentry, clergy, and freeholders of
Nottingham, whom the deceased represented in Parliament, in
favour of his next younger brother, Colonel Howe, to supply his
place in the House of Commons. "Permit me," she says, "to
implore the protection of every one of you, as the mother of
him whose life has been lost in the service of his country."
The appeal was responded to, and Colonel, afterwards General
Sir William Howe, was returned.-E.
(953) The Hon. Caroline Howe, daughter of the above-mentioned
lady , who married her namesake, John Howe, Esq. of Hemslop.-E.
(954) The Duchess of Norfolk. She had planted a game of the
goose in hornbean, at Worksop.
451 Letter 285
To Sir Horace Mann.
Strawberry Hill, Sept. 22, 1758.
The confusion of the first accounts and the unwelcomeness of
the subject, made me not impatient to despatch another letter
so quickly after my last. However, as I suppose the French
relations will be magnified, it is proper to let you know the
exact truth. Not being content with doing nothing at St.
Maloes, and with being suffered to do all we could at
Cherbourg, (no great matter,) our land and sea heroes, Mr. Pitt
and Lord Howe, projected a third--I don't know what to call it.
It seems they designed to take St. Maloes, but being
disappointed by the weather, they--what do you think? landed
fifteen miles from it, with no object nor near any--and lest
that should not be absurd enough, the fleet sailed away for
another bay, leaving the army with only two cannons. to
scramble to them across the country as they could. Nine days
they were staring about France; at last they had notice of
twelve battalions approaching, on which they stayed a little
before they hurried to the transports. The French followed
them at a distance, firing from the upper grounds. When the
greatest part were reimbarked, the French descended and fell on
the rear, on which it Was necessary to sacrifice the Guards to
secure the rest. Those brave young men did wonders--that is,
they were cut to pieces with great intrepidity. We lost
General Dury and ten other officers; Lord Frederick Cavendish
with twenty-three others were taken prisoners. In all we have
lost seven hundred men, but more shamefully for the projectors
and conductors than can be imagined, for no shadow of an excuse
can be offered for leaving them so exposed with no purpose or
possible advantage, in the heart of an Enemy's country. What
heightens the distress. the army sailed from Weymouth with a
full persuasion that they were to be sacrificed to the
vainglorious whims of a man of words(955) and a man(956) of
"Three expeditions we have sent,
And if you bid me show where
I know as well as those who went,
To St. Maloes, Cherbourg, nowhere."
Those, whose trade or amusement is politics, may comfort
themselves with their darling Prussian; he has strode back over
20 or 30,000 Russians,(957) and stepped into Dresden. They
even say that Daun is retired. For my part, it is to inform
you, that I dwell at all on these things. I am shocked with
the iniquities I see and have seen. I abhor their dealings.
"And from my soul sincerely hate
Both Kings and Ministers of State!"
I don't know whether I can attain any goodness by shunning
them, I am sure their society is contagious Yet I will never
advertise my detestation, for if I professed virtue, I should
expect to be suspected of designing to be a minister. Adieu!
you are good, and wilt keep yourself so.
I had sealed my letter, but as it cannot go away till
to-morrow, I open it again on receiving yours of Sept. 9th. I
don't understand Marshal Botta's being so well satisfied with
our taking Louisbourg. Are the Austrians disgusted with the
French? Do they begin to repent their alliance? or has he so
much sense as to know what improper allies they have got? It is
very right in you who are a minister, to combat hostile
Ministers--had I been at Florence, I should not have so much
contested the authority of the Abb`e de Ville's performance: I
have no more doubt of' the convention of Closter-Severn having
been scandalously broken, than it was shamelessly disavowed by
those who commanded it.
In our loss are included some of our volunteers; a Sir John
Armitage, a young man of fortune, just come much into the
world, and engaged to the sister(958) of the hot-headed and
cool-tongued Lord Howe; a Mr. Cocks, nephew of lady Hardwicke,
who could not content himself with seven thousand pounds
a-year, without the addition of an ensign's commission - he was
not quite recovered of a wound he had got at CHerbourg. The
royal volunteer, Prince Edward, behaved with much spirit.
(955) Mr. Pitt.-D.
(956) two brothers, successively Lords Howe, were remarkably
(957) The battle of Zorndorf.-D.
(958) Mary, their youngest sister, was afterwards married to
General Pitt, brother of George Lord Rivers.
453 Letter 286
To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, Oct. 3, 1758.
having no news to send you, but the massacre of St. Cas,(959)
not agreeable enough for a letter, I stayed till I had
something to send you, and behold a book! I have delivered to
portly old Richard, your ancient nurse, the new produce of the
Strawberry press. You know that the wife of Bath is gone to
maunder at St. Peter, and before he could hobble to the gate,
my Lady Burlington, cursing and blaspheming, overtook t'other
Countess, and both together made such an uproar, that the cock
flew up into the tree of life for safety, and St. Peter himself
turned the key and hid himself; and as nobody could get into
t'other world, half the Guards are come back again, and
appeared in the park to-day, but such dismal ghostly figures,
that my Lady Townshend was really frightened, and is again
likely to turn Methodist.
Do you design, or do you not, to look at Strawberry as you come
to town? if you do. I will send a card to my neighbour, Mrs.
Holman, to meet you any day five weeks that you please--or I
can amuse you without cards; such fat bits of your dear dad,
old Jemmy, as I have found among the Conway papers, such
morsels of all sorts! but come and see. Adieu!
(959) The army that took the town of Cherbourg, landed again on
the coast of France near St. Maloes, but was forced to reimbark
in the Bay of St. Cas with the loss of a thousand men.
454 Letter 287
To The Rev. Henry Zouch.
Strawberry Hill, October 5th, 1758.
You make so many apologies for conferring great favours on me,
that if you have not a care. I shall find it more convenient
to believe that, instead of being grateful, I shall be very
good if I am forgiving. If I am impertinent enough to take up
this style, at least I promise you I will be very good, and I
will certainly pardon as many obligations as you shall please
to lay on me.
I have that Life of Richard II. It is a poor thing, and not
even called in the title-page Lord Holles's; it is a still
lower trick of booksellers to insert names of authors in a
catalogue, which, with all their confidence, they do not
venture to bestow on the books themselves; I have found several
instances of this.
Lord Preston's Boetius I have. From Scotland, I have received
a large account of Lord Cromerty, which will appear in my next
edition: as my copy is in the press, I do not exactly remember
if there is the Tract on Precedency: he wrote a great number of
things, and was held it) great contempt living and dead.(960)
I have long sought, and wished to find, some piece of Duke
Humphrey:(961) he was a great patron of learning, built the
schools, I think, and gave a library to Oxford. Yet, I fear, I
may not take the authority of Pits, who is a wretched liar; nor
is it at all credible that in so blind an age a Prince, who,
with all his love of learning, I fear, had very little of
either learning or parts, should write on Astronomy;--had it
been on Astrology, it might have staggered me.
My omission of Lord Halifax's maxims was a very careless one,
and has been rectified. I did examine the Musae Anglicaanae,
and I think found a copy or two, and at first fancied I had
found more, till I came to examine narrowly. In the Joys and
Griefs of Oxford and Cambridge, are certainly many noble
copies; but you judge very right, Sir--they are not to be
mentioned, no more than exercises at school, where, somehow or
other, every peer has been a poet. To my shame, you are still
more in the right about the Duke of Buckingham: if you will
give me leave, instead of thinking that he Wrote, hoping to be
mistaken for his predecessor, I will believe that he hoped so
after he had written.
You are again in the right, Sir, about Lord Abercorn, as the
present lord himself informed me. I don't know Lord
Godolphin's verses: at most, by your account, he should be in
the Appendix; but if they are only signed Sidney Godolphin,
they may belong to his uncle, who, if I remember rightly, was
one of the troop of verse-writers of that time.
You have quite persuaded me of the mistake in Mindas; till you
mentioned it, I had forgot that they wrote Windsor "Windesore,"
and then by abbreviation the mistake was easy.
The account of Lord Clarendon is printed off; I do mention as
printed his account of Ireland, though I knew nothing of
Borlase. Apropos, Sir, are you not glad to see that the second
part of his history is actually advertised to come out soon
Lord Nottingham's letter I shall certainly mention.
I yesterday sent to Mr. Whiston a little piece that I have just
mentioned here, and desired him to convey it to you; you must
not expect a great deal from it: yet it belongs so much to my
Catalogue, that I thought it a duty to publish it. A better
return to some of your civilities is to inform you of Dr.
Jortin's Life of Erasmus, with which I am much entertained.
There are numberless anecdotes of men thought great in their
day, now as much forgotten, that it grows valuable again to
hear about them. The book is written with great moderation and
goodness of heart: the style is not very striking, and has some
vulgarisms, and In a work of that bulk I should rather have
taken more pains to digest and connect it into a flowing
narrative, than drily give it as a diary: yet I dare promise it
will amuse you much.
With your curiosity, Sir, and love of information, I am sure
you will be glad to hear of a most valuable treasure that I
have discovered; it is the collection of state papers,(963)
amassed by the two Lords Conway, that were secretaries of
state, and their family: vast numbers have been destroyed; yet
I came time enough to retrieve vast numbers, many, indeed, in a
deplorable condition. They were buried under lumber' upon the
pavement of an unfinished chapel, at Lord Hertford's in
Warwickshire, and during his minority, and the absence of his
father, an ignorant steward delivered them over to the oven and
kitchen, and yet had not been able to destroy them all. It is
a vast work to dry, range, and read them, and to burn the
useless, as bills, bonds, and every other kind of piece of
paper that ever came into a house, and were all jumbled and
matted together. I propose, by degrees, to print the most
curious; of which, I think, I have already selected enough to
form two little volumes of the size of my Catalogue. Yet I
will not give too great expectations about them, because I know
how often the public has been disappointed when they came to
see in print what in manuscript has appeared to the editor
(960) We can hardly account for this expression, unless Mr.
Walpole alludes to Lord Cromerty's political reputation. Macky
states, that " his arbitrary proceedings had rendered him so
obnoxious to the people, he could not be employed;" and,
certainly, his character for consistency and integrity was not
very exalted: but almost all contemporary writers describe him
as a man of great weight and of singular endowments; and
Walpole himself, in his subsequent editions, calls him "a
person eminent for his learning, and for his abilities as a
statesman and general."-C.
(961) That Duke Humphrey had at least a relish for learning,
may be inferred from the following passage. At the close of a
fine manuscript in the Cotton collection (Nero E. v.) is "Origo
et processus gentis Scotorum, ae de superioritate Regum Angliae
super regnum illud." It once belonged to Humphrey Duke of
Gloucester, and has this Sentence in his own handwriting at the
end, "Cest livre est `a moy Homfrey Duc de Gloucestre, lequel
j'achetay des executeurs de maistre Thomas Polton, feu evesque
de Wurcestre." Bishop Polton died in 1436.-C.
(962) The second part of Lord Clarendon's history was printed
in folio, in 1760, and also in three volumes octavo.-C.
(963) The increased and increasing taste of the public for the
materials of history, such as these valuable papers supply,
will, we have reason to hope, be gratified by the approaching
appearance of this collection, publication of which was, we
see, contemplated even as long since as 1758.-C.
456 Letter 288
To The Right Hon. Lady Hervey.
Arlington Street, Oct. 17, 1758.
Your ladyship, I hope, will not think that such a strange thing
as my own picture seems of consequence enough to me to write a
letter about it: but obeying your commands does seem so; lest
you should return and think I had neglected it, I must say that
I have come to town three several times on purpose, but Mr.
Ramsay (I will forgive him) has been constantly Out of town.
So much for that.
I would have sent you word that the King of Portugal coming
along the road at midnight, which was in his own room at noon,
his foot slipped, and three balls went through his body; which,
however, had no other consequence than giving him a stroke of a
palsy, of which he is quite recovered, except being dead.(964)
Some, indeed, are so malicious as to say, that the Jesuits, who
are the most conscientious men in the world, murdered him,
because he had an intrigue with another man's wife: but all
these histories I supposed your ladyship knew better than me,
as, till I came to town yesterday, I imagined you was returned.
For my own part, about whom you are sometimes so good as to
interest yourself, I am as well as can be expected after the
murder of a king and the death of a person of the next
consequence to a king, the master of the ceremonies, poor Sir
Clement,(965) who is supposed to have been suffocated by my
Lady Macclesfield's(966) kissing hands.
This will be a melancholy letter, for I have nothing to tell
your ladyship but tragical stories. Poor Dr. Shawe(967) being
sent for in great haste to Claremont--(It seems the Duchess had
caught a violent cold by a hair of her own whisker getting up
her nose and making her sneeze)--the poor Doctor, I say, having
eaten a few mushrooms before he set out, was taken so ill, that
he was forced to stop at Kingston; and, being carried to the
first apothecary's, prescribed a medicine for himself which
immediately cured him. This catastrophe so alarmed the Duke of
Newcastle, that he immediately ordered all the mushroom beds to
be destroyed, and even the toadstools in the park did not
escape scalping in this general massacre. What I tell you is
literally true. Mr. Stanley, who dined there last Sunday, and
is not partial against that court, heard the edict repeated,
and confirmed it to me last night. And a voice of lamentation
was heard at Ramah in Claremont, Chlo`e(968) weeping for her
mushrooms, and they are not!
After all these important histories, I would try to make you
smile, If I was not afraid you would resent a little freedom
taken with a great name. May I venture?
"Why Taylor the quack calls himself Chevalier,
'Tis not easy a reason to render;
Unless blinding eyes, that he thinks to make clear,
Demonstrates he's but a Pretender.
A book has been left at your ladyship's house; it is Lord
Whitworth's Account of Russia.(969) Monsieur Kniphausen has
promised me some curious anecdotes of the Czarina Catherine-so
my shop is likely to flourish. I am your ladyship's most
(964) Alluding to the incoherent stories told at the time of
the assassination of the King of Portugal. [The following is
the correct account:--As the King was taking The air in his
coach on the 3d September, attended by only one domestic, he
was attacked in a solitary lane near Belem by three men, one of
whom discharged his carbine at the coachman, and wounded him
dangerously; the other two fired their blunderbusses at the
King, loaded with pieces of iron, and wounded him in the face
and several parts of his body, but chiefly in the right arm,
which disabled him for a long time.
(965) Sir Clement Cotterel.
(966) She had been a common woman.
(967) Physician to the Duke and Duchess of Newcastle.
(968) The Duke of Newcastle's cook.
(969) A small octavo printed at the Strawberry Hill press, to
which Walpole prefixed a preface. Charles Whitworth, in 1720,
created Baron Whitworth of Galway, was ambassador to the court
of petersburgh in the reign of Peter the Great. On his death,
in 1725, the title became extinct.-E.
457 Letter 289
To The Hon. H. S. Conway.(970)
Arlington Street, Oct. 17, 1758.
I have read your letter, as you may believe, with the strictest
attention, and will tell you my thoughts as sincerely as you do
and have a right to expect them.
In the first place, I think you far from being under any
obligation for this notice. If Mr. Pitt is sensible that he
has used you very ill, is it the part of an honest man to
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