The Letters of Horace Walpole, Volume 2
Part 5 out of 16
arrive of your recall. He certainly loves you earnestly; if I
were not convinced of it, I should be far from loving him so
well as I do.
I write this as a sort of letter of form on the occasion, for
there is nothing worth telling you. The event that has made
most noise since my last, is the extempore wedding of the
youngest of the two Gunnings, who have made so vehement a
noise. Lord Coventry,(295) a grave young lord, of the remains
of the patriot breed, has long dangled after the eldest,
virtuously with regard to her virtue, not
very honourably with regard to his own credit. About six weeks
ago Duke Hamilton,(296) the very reverse of the Earl, hot,
debauched, extravagant, and equally damaged in his fortune and
person, fell in love with the youngest at the masquerade, and
determined to marry her in the spring. About a fortnight
since, at an immense assembly at my Lord Chesterfield's, made
to show the house, which is really magnificent, Duke Hamilton
made violent love at one end of the room, while he was playing
at pharaoh at the other end; that is, he saw neither the bank
nor his own cards, which were of three hundred pounds each: he
soon lost a thousand. I own I was so little a professor in
love, that I thought all this parade looked ill for the poor
girl; and could not conceive, if he was so much engaged with
his mistress as to disregard such sums, why he played at all.
However, two nights afterwards, being left alone with her while
her mother and sister were at Bedford House, he found himself
so impatient, that he sent for a parson. The doctor refused to
perform the ceremony without license or ring: the Duke swore he
would send for the Archbishop--at last they were married with a
ring of the bed-curtain, at half an hour after twelve at night,
at Mayfair chapel,(297) The Scotch are enraged; the women mad
that so much beauty has had its effect; and what is most silly,
my Lord Coventry declares that he now will marry the other.
Poor Lord Lempster has just killed an officer(298) in a duel,
about a play-debt, and I fear was in the wrong. There is no
end of his misfortunes and wrong-headedness!--Where is Mr.
(294) Mr. Mann's father was just dead.
(295) George-William, sixth Earl of Coventry. He died in 1809,
at the age of eighty-seven.-E.
(296) James, fourth Duke of Hamilton. He died in 1758.-D.
(297) On the 14th of February.-E.
(298) Captain Gray of the Guards. The duel was fought, with
swords, in Marylebone Fields. lord Lempster took his trial at
the Old Bailey in April, and was found guilty of manslaughter.-E.
124 Letter 55
To Sir Horace Mann.
Arlington Street, March 23, 1752.
Mr. Conway has been arrived this fortnight, or a week sooner
than we expected him: but my Lady Ailesbury forgives it! He is
full of your praises, so you have not sowed your goodness in
unthankful ground. By a letter I have just received from you
he finds you have missed some from him with Commissions; but he
will tell you about them himself I find him much leaner, and
great cracks in his beauty. Your picture is arrived, which he
says is extremely like you. Mr. Chute cannot bear it; says it
wants your countenance and goodness; that it looks bonny and
Irish. I am between both, and should know it; to be sure,
there is none of your wet-brown-paperness in it, but it has a
look with which I have known you come out of your little room,
when Richcourt has raised your ministerial French, and
you have writ to England about it till you were half fuddled.
Au reste, it is gloriously coloured--will Astley promise to
continue to do as well? or has he, like all other English
painters, only laboured this to get reputation, and then
intends to daub away to get money?
The year has not kept the promise of tranquillity that it made
you at Christmas; there has been another parliamentary bustle.
The Duke of Argyll(299) has drawn the ministry into
accommodating him with a notable job, under the notion of
buying for the King from the mortgagees the forfeited estates
in Scotland, which are to be colonized and civilized. It
passed with some inconsiderable hitches through the Commons;
but in the Lords last week the Duke of Bedford took it up
warmly, and spoke like another Pitt.(300) He attacked the Duke
of Argyll on favouring Jacobites, and produced some flagrant
instances, which the Scotch Duke neither answered nor
endeavoured to excuse, but made a strange, hurt, mysterious,
contemptuous, incoherent speech, neither in defence of the bill
nor in reply to the Duke of Bedford, but to my Lord Bath, who
had fallen upon the ministry for assuming a dispensing power,
in suffering Scotland to pay no taxes for the last five years.
This speech, which formerly would have made the House of
Commons take up arms, was strangely flat and unanimated, for
want of his old chorus. Twelve lords divided against eighty
that were for the bill. The Duke, who was present, would not
vote; none of his people had attended the bill in the other
House, and General Mordaunt (by his orders, as it is imagined)
spoke against it. This concludes the session: the King goes to
Hanover on Tuesday, he has been scattering ribands of all
colours, blue ones on Prince Edward, the young Stadtholder, and
the Earls of Lincoln, Winchilsea, and Cardigan;(301) a green
one on Lord Dumfries;(302) a red on Lord Onslow.(303)
The world is still mad about the Gunnings; the Duchess of
Hamilton was presented on Friday; the crowd was so great, that
even the noble mob in the drawing-room clambered upon chairs
and tables to look at her. There are mobs at their doors to
see them get into their chairs; and people go early to get
places at the theatres when it is known they will be there.
Dr. Sacheverel never made more noise than these two beauties.
There are two wretched women that just now are as much talked
of, a Miss Jefferies and a Miss Blandy; the one condemned for
murdering her uncle, the other her father. Both their stories
have horrid circumstances; the first, having been debauched by
her uncle; the other had so tender a parent, that his whole
concern while he was expiring, and knew her for his murderess,
was to save her life. It is shocking to think what a shambles
this country is grown! Seventeen were executed this morning,
after having murdered the turnkey on Friday night, and almost
forced open Newgate. One is forced to travel, even at noon, as
if one was going to battle.
Mr. Chute is as much yours as ever, except in the article of
pen and ink. Your brother transacts all he can for the Lucchi,
as he has much more weight there(304) than Mr. Chute. Adieu!
(299) Archibald Campbell, Duke of argyll, formerly Earl of
(300) For Lord Hardwicke's notes of this speech, see Parl.
Hist. vol. xiv. P. 1235.-E.
(301) George Brudenell, fourth Earl of cardigan, created Duke
of Montagu in 1776; died in 1790.-D.
(302) William Crichton Dalrymple, fourth Earl of Dumfries in
Scotland, in right of his mother. He also became, in 1760,
fourth Earl of stair, and died in 1768.-D.
(303) George, third Lord Onslow; died in 1776.-D.
(304) With the late Mr. Whithed's brothers, who scrupled paying
a small legacy and annuity to his mistress and child.
126 Letter 56
To The Hon. H. S. Conway.(305)
Arlington Street, May 5, 1752.
I now entirely credit all that my Lord Leicester and his family
have said against Lady Mary Coke and her family; and am
convinced that it is impossible to marry any thing of the blood
of Campbell, without having all her relations in arms to
procure a separation immediately. Pray, what have I done? have
I come home drunk to my wife within these four first days? or
have I sat up gaming all night, and not come home at all to
her, after her lady-mother had been persuaded that I was the
soberest young nobleman in England, and had the greatest
aversion to play'! Have I kept my bride awake all night with
railing at her father, when all the world had allowed him to be
one of the bravest officers in Europe? In short, in short, I
have a mind to take COUNSEL, even of the wisest lawyer now
living in matrimonial cases, my Lord Coke * * * If, like other
Norfolk husbands, I must entertain the town with a formal
parting, at least it shall be in my own way: my wife shall
neither 'run to Italy after lovers and books,(306) nor keep a
dormitory in her dressing-room at Whitehall for Westminster
schoolboys, your Frederick Campbells, and such like. (307) nor
'yet shall she reside at her mother's house, but shall
absolutely set out for Strawberry Hill in two or three days, as
soon as her room can be well aired; for, to give her her due, I
don't think her to blame, but flatter myself she is quite
contented with the easy footing we live upon; separate beds,
dining in her dressing-room when she is out of humour, and a
little toad-eater that I had got for her, and whose pockets and
bosom I have never examined, to see if' she brought any
billets-doux from Tommy Lyttelton or any of her fellows. I
shall follow her myself in less than a fortnight; and if her
family don't give me any more trouble,-why, who knows but at
your return you may find your daughter with qualms and in a
sack? If you should happen to want to know any more
particulars, she is quite well, has walked in the park every
morning, or has the chariot, as she chooses; and, in short, one
would think that I or she were much older than we really are, for
I grow excessively fond of her.(308)
(305) Now first published.
(306) Alluding to the wife of his eldest brother, Lord Walpole,
Margaret Rolle, who had separated Herself from her husband, and
resided in Italy.--E.
(307) Lady Townshend.-E.
(308) All this letter refers to Ann Seymour Conway, then three
years old, who had been left with her nurse at Mr. Walpole's,
during an absence of her father and mother in Ireland.-E.
127 Letter 57
To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, May 12, 1752.
You deserve no charity, for you never write but to ask it.
When you are tired of yourself and the country, you think over
all London, and consider who will be proper to send you an
account of it. Take notice, I won't be your gazetteer; nor is
my time come for being a dowager, a maker of news, a
day-labourer in scandal. If you care for nobody but for what
they can tell you, you must provide yourself elsewhere. The
town is empty, nothing in it but flabby mackerel, and wooden
gooseberry tarts, and a hazy east wind. My sister is gone to
Paris; I go to Strawberry Hill in three days for the summer, if
summer there will ever be any.
If you want news you must send to Ireland, where there is
almost a civil war, between the Lord Lieutenant and Primate on
one side (observe, I don't tell you what that side is), and the
Speaker on the other, who carries questions by wholesale in the
House of Commons against the Castle; and the teterrima belli
causa is not the common one.
Reams of scandalous verses and ballads are come over, too bad
to send you, if I had them, but I really have not. What is
more provoking for the Duke of Dorset, an address is come over
directly to the King (not as usual through the channel of the
Lord Lieutenant), to assure him of their great loyalty, and
apprehensions of being misrepresented. This is all I know, and
you see, most imperfectly.
I was t'other night to see what is now grown the fashion,
Mother Midnight's Oratory.(309) It appeared the lowest
buffoonery in the world even to me, who am used to my uncle
Horace. There is a bad oration to ridicule, what it is too
like, Orator Henley; all the rest is perverted music: there is
a man who plays so nimbly on the kettle-drum, that he has
reduced that noisy instrument to an object of sight; for, if
you don't see the tricks with his hands, it is no better than
ordinary: another plays on a violin and trumpet together:
another mimics a bagpipe with a German flute, and makes it full
as disagreeable. There is an admired dulcimer, a favourite
salt-box, and a really curious jew's-harp. Two or three men
intend to persuade you that they play on a broomstick, which is
drolly brought in, carefully shrouded in a case, so as to be
mistaken for a bassoon or bass-viol; but they succeed in nothing
but the action. The last fellow imitates * * * * * curtseying to
a French horn. There are twenty medley overtures, and a man who
speaks a prologue and an epilogue, in which he counterfeits all
the actors and singers upon earth: in short, I have long been
convinced, that what I used to imagine the most difficult thing
in the world, mimicry, is the easiest; for one has seen for
these two or three years, at Foote's and the other theatres,
that when they lost one mimic, they called ,Odd man!" and
another came and succeeded just as well.
Adieu! I have told you much more than I intended, and much more
than I could conceive I had to say, except how does Miss
P. S. Did you hear Captain Hotham's bon-mot on Sir Thomas
Robinson's making an assembly from the top of his house to the
bottom? He said, he wondered so many people would go to Sir
Thomas's, as he treated them all de haut en bas.
(309) "Among other diversions and amusements which increase
upon us, the town," says the Gentleman's Magazine for January
1752, "has been lately entertained with a kind of farcical
performance, called 'The Old Woman's Oratory,' conducted by
Mrs. Mary Midnight and her family, intended as a banter on
Henley's Oratory, and a puff for the Old Woman's Magazine."-E.
128 Letter 58
To Sir Horace Mann.
Arlington Street, May 13, 1752.
By this time you know my way, how much my letters grow out of
season, as it grows summer. I believe it is six weeks since I
wrote to you last; but there is not only the usual deadness of
summer to account for my silence; England itself is no longer
England. News, madness, parties, whims, and twenty other
causes, that used to produce perpetual events are at an end;
Florence itself is not more inactive. Politics,
"Like arts and sciences are travelled west."
They are cot into Ireland, where there is as much bustle to
carry a question in the House of Commons, as ever it was here
in any year forty-one. Not that there is any opposition to the
King's measures; out of three hundred members, there has never
yet been a division of above twenty-eight against the
government: they are much the most zealous subjects the king
has. The Duke of Dorset has had the art to make them
distinguish between loyalty and aversion to the Lord
I last night received yours of May 5th; but I cannot deliver
your expressions to Mr. Conway, for he and Lady Ailesbury are
gone to his regiment in Ireland for four months, which is a
little rigorous, not only after an exile in Minorca, but more
especially unpleasant now as they have just bought one of the
most charming 'places in England, Park-place, which belonged to
Lady Archibald Hamilton, and then to the Prince. You have seen
enough of Mr. Conway to judge how patiently he submits to his
duty. Their little girl is left with me.
The Gunnings are gone to their several castles, and one hears
no more of them, except that such crowds flock to see the
Duchess Hamilton pass, that seven hundred people sat up all
night in and about an inn in Yorkshire to see her get into her
postchaise next morning.
I saw lately at Mr. Barret's a print of Valombrosa, which I
should be glad to have, if you please; though I don't think it
gives much idea of the beauty of the place: but you know what a
passion there is for it in England, as Milton has mentioned it.
Miss Blandy died with a coolness of courage that is
astonishing, and denying the fact,(310) which has made a kind
of party in her favour as if a woman who would not stick at
parricide, would scruple a lie!
We have made a law for immediate execution on conviction of
murder: it will appear extraordinary to me if it has any
effect;(311) for I can't help believing that the terrible part
of death must be the preparation for it.
(310) Miss Blandy was executed at Oxford, on the 6th of April,
"I am perfectly innocent," she exclaimed, "of any intention to
destroy or even hurt my dear father; so help me God in these my
(311) Smollett, on the contrary, was of opinion that the
expedient had been productive of very good effects.-E.
129 Letter 59
To George Montagu, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, June 6, 1752.
I have just been in London for two or three days, to fetch an
adventure, and am returned to my hill and castle. I can't say
I lost my labour, as you shall hear. Last Sunday night, being
as wet a night as you shall see in a summer's day, about half
an hour after twelve, I was just come home from White's, and
undressing to step into bed, I heard Harry, who you know lies
forwards, roar out, "Stop thief!" and run down stairs. I ran
after him. Don't be frightened; I have not lost one enamel,
nor bronze, nor have been shot through the head again. A
gentlewoman, who lives at Governor Pitt's,(312) next door but
one to me, and where Mr. Bentley used to live, was going to bed
too, and heard people breaking into Mr. Freeman's house, who,
like some acquaintance of mine in Albemarle-street, goes out of
town, locks up his doors, and leaves the community to watch his
furniture. N. B. It was broken open but two years ago, and all
the chairmen vow they shall steal his house away another time,
before we shall trouble our heads about it. Well, madam called
out "watch;" two men who were centinels, ran away, and Harry's
voice after them. Down came I, and with a posse of chairmen
and watchmen found the third fellow in the area of Mr. Freeman's
house. Mayhap you have seen all this in the papers, little
thinking who commanded the detachment. Harry fetched a
blunderbuss to invite the thief up. One of the chairmen, who
was drunk, cried, "Give me the blunderbuss, I'll shoot him!"
But as the general's head was a little cooler, he prevented
military execution, and took the prisoner without bloodshed,
intending to make his triumphal entry into the metropolis of
Twickenham with his captive tied to the wheels of his
postchaise. I find my style rises so much with the
recollection of my victory, that I don't know how to descend to
tell you that the enemy was a carpenter, and had a leather
apron on. The next step was to share my glory with my friends.
I despatched a courier to White's for George Selwyn, who you
know, loves nothing upon earth so well as a criminal, except
the execution of him. It happened very luckily, that the
drawer, who received my message, has very lately been robbed
himself, and had the wound fresh in his memory. He stalked up
into the club-room, stopped short, and with a hollow trembling
voice said, "Mr. Selwyn! Mr. Walpole's compliments to you, and
he has got a house-breaker for you!" A squadron immediately
came to reinforce me, and having summoned Moreland with the
keys of the fortress, we marched into the house to search for
more of the gang. Colonel Seabright with his sword drawn went
first, and then I, exactly the figure of Robinson Crusoe, with
a candle and lanthorn in my hand, a carbine upon my shoulder,
my hair wet and about my ears, and in a linen night-gown and
slippers. We found the kitchen shutters forced but not
finished; and in the area a tremendous bag of tools, a hammer
large enough for the hand of a Joel, and six chisels! All which
opima spolia, as there was no temple of Jupiter Capitolinus in
the neighbourhood, I was reduced to offer on the altar of Sir
am now, as I told you, returned to my plough with as much
humility and pride as any of my great predecessors. We lead
quite a rural life, have had a sheep-shearing, a hay-making, a
syllabub under the cow, and a fishing of three gold fish out of
Poyang,(313) for a present to Madam Clive. They breed with me
excessively, and are grown to the size of small perch. Every
thing grows, if tempests would let it; but I have had two of my
largest trees broke to-day with the wind, and another last
week. I am much obliged to you for the flower you offer me,
but by the description it is an Austrian rose, and I have
several now in bloom. Mr. Bentley is with me, finishing the
drawings for Gray's Odes; there are some mandarin-cats fishing
for gold fish, which will delight you; au reste, he is just
where he was: he has heard something about a journey to
Haughton, to the great Cu(314) of Hauculeo, but it don't seem
fixed, unless he hears farther. Did he tell you the Prices and
your aunt Cosby had dined here from Hampton Court? The
mignonette beauty looks mighty well in his grandmother's
jointure. The Memoires of last year are quite finished, but I
shall add some pages of notes, that will not want anecdotes.
Discontents, of the nature of those about Windsor-park, are
spreading about Richmond. Lord Brooke, who has taken the late
Duchess of Rutland's at Petersham, asked for a key; the answer
was, (mind it, for it was tolerably mortifying to an Earl,) "that
the Princess had already refused one to my Lord Chancellor."
By the way, you know that reverend head of the law is
frequently shut up here with my Lady M * * * * h, who is as
rich and as tipsy as Cacafogo in the comedy. What a jumble of
avarice, lewdness, dignity,--and claret!
You will be pleased with a story of Lord Bury, that is come
from Scotland: he is quartered at Inverness: the magistrates
invited him to an entertainment with fire-works, which they
intended to give on the morrow for the Duke's birthday. He
thanked them, assured them he would represent their zeal to his
Royal Highness; but he did not doubt but it would be more
agreeable to him, if they postponed it to the day following,
the anniversary of the battle of Culloden. They stared, said
they could not promise on their own authority, but would go and
consult their body. They returned, told him it was
unprecedented, and could not be complied with. Lord Bury
replied, he was sorry they had not given a negative at once,
for he had mentioned it to his soldiers, who would not bear a
disappointment, and was afraid it would provoke them to some
outrage upon the town. This did;-they celebrated Culloden.
(312) George Morton Pitt, Esq, Member for Pontefract.-E.
(313) Mr. Walpole called his gold-fish pond, Poyang.
(314) The Earl of Halifax.
131 Letter 60
To George Montagu, Esq.
Since you give me leave to speak the truth, I must own it is
not quite agreeable to me to undertake the commission you give
me; nor do I say this to assume any merit in having obeyed you,
but to prepare you against my solicitation miscarrying, for I
cannot flatter myself with having so much interest with Mr. Fox
as you think. However, I have wrote to him as pressingly as I
could, and wish most heartily it may have any effect. Your
brother I imagine will call upon him again; and Mr.' Fox will
naturally tell him whether he can do it or not at my request.
I should have been very glad of your company, if it had been
convenient. You would have found me an absolute country
gentleman: I am in the garden, planting as long as it is light,
and shall not have finished, to be in London, before the middle
of next week.
My compliments to your sisters and to the Colonel; and what so
poor a man as Hamlet is, may do to express his love and
friending to him, God willing, shall not lack. Adieu!
132 Letter 61
The Hon. H. S. Conway.(315)
Strawberry Hill, June 23, 1752.
By a letter that I received from my Lady Ailesbury two days
ago, I flatter myself I shall not have occasion to write to you
any more; yet I shall certainly see you with less pleasure than
ever, as our meeting is to be attended with a resignation of my
little charge.(316) She is vastly well, and I think you will
find her grown fat. I am husband enough to mind her beauty no
longer, and perhaps you will say husband enough too, in
pretending that my love is converted into friendship; but I
shall tell you some stories at Park-place of her understanding
that will please you, I trust, as much as they have done me.
My Lady Ailesbury says I must send her news, and the whole
history of Mr. Seymour and Lady Di. Egerton, and their quarrel,
and all that is said on both sides. I can easily tell her all
that is said on one side, Mr. Seymour's, who says, the only
answer he has ever been able to get from the Duchess or Mr.
Lyttelton was, that Di. has her caprices. The reasons she
gives, and gave him, were, the badness of his temper and
imperiousness of his letters; that he scolded her for the
overfondness of her epistles, and was even so unsentimental as
to talk of desiring to make her happy, instead of being made so
by her. He is gone abroad, in despair, and with an additional
circumstance, which would be very uncomfortable to any thing
but a true lover; his father refuses to resettle the estate on
him, the entail of which was cut off by mutual consent, to make
way for the settlements on the marriage.
The Speaker told me t'other day, that he had received a letter
from Lord Hyde, which confirms what Mr. Churchill writes me,
the distress and poverty of France and the greatness of their
divisions. Yet the King's expenses are incredible; Madame de
Pompadour is continually busied in finding out new journeys and
diversions to keep him from falling into the hands of the
clergy. The last party of pleasure she made for him, was a
stag-hunting; the stag was a man in a skin and horns, worried
by twelve men dressed like bloodhounds! I have read of
Basilowitz, a Czar of Muscovy, who improved on such a hunt, and
had a man in a bearskin worried by real dogs; a more kingly
I shall make out a sad Journal of other news; yet I will be
like any gazette, and scrape together all the births, deaths,
and marriages in the parish. Lady Hartington and Lady Rachel
Walpole are brought to bed of sons; Lord Burlington and Lord
Gower have had new attacks of palsies: Lord Falkland is to
marry the Southwark Lady Suffolk;(317) and Mr. Watson, Miss
Grace Pelham. Lady Coventry has miscarried of one or two
children, and is going on with one or two more, and is gone to
France to-day. Lady Townshend and Lady Caroline Petersham have
had their anniversary quarrel, and the Duchess of Devonshire has
had her secular assembly, which she keeps once in fifty years:
she was more delightfully vulgar at it than you can imagine;
complained of the wet night, and how the men would dirty the
rooms with their shoes; called out at supper to the Duke, "Good
God! my lord, don't cut the ham, nobody will eat any!" and
relating her private m`enage to Mr. Obnir, she said, "When
there's only my lord and I, besides a pudding we have always a
dish of Yeast!" I am ashamed to send you such nonsense, or to
tell you how the good women at Hampton Court are scandalized at
Princess Emily's coming to chapel last Sunday in riding-clothes
with a dog under her arm; but I am bid to send news: what can we
do -,it such a dead time of year? I must conclude, as my Lady
Gower did very well t'other day in a letter into the country,
"Since the two Misses(318) were hanged, and the two Misses(319)
were married, there is nothing at all talked of." Adieu! My best
compliments and my wife's to your two ladies.
(315) Now first published.
(316) Their daughter, Ann Seymour Conway.
(317) Sarah, Duchess-dowager of Suffolk, daughter of Thomas
Unwen, Esq. of Southwark.-E.
(318) Miss Blandy and Miss Jefferies.
(319) The Gunnings.
133 Letter 62
To George Montagu, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, July 20, 1752.
You have threatened me with a messenger from the secretary's
office to seize my papers; who would ever have taken you for a
prophet? If Goody Compton
,(320) your colleague, had taken upon her to foretell, there
was enough of the witch and prophetess in her person and
mysteriousness to have made a superstitious person believe she
might be a cousin of Nostradamus, and heiress of some of her
visions; but how came you by second sight? Which of the Cues
matched in the Highlands? In short, not to keep you in
suspense, for I believe you are so far inspired as to be
ignorant how your prophecy was to be accomplished, as we were
sitting at dinner t'other day, word was brought that one of the
King's messengers was at the door. Every drop of ink in my pen
ran cold; Algernon Sidney danced before my eyes, and methought
I heard my Lord Chief-Justice Lee, in a voice as dreadful as
Jefferies', mumble out, Scribere est agere. How comfortable it
was to find that Mr. Amyand, who was at table, had ordered this
appanage of his dignity to attend him here for orders!
However, I have buried the Memoires under the oak in my garden,
where they are to be found a thousand years hence, and taken
perhaps for a Runic history in rhyme. I have part of another
valuable MS. to dispose of, which I shall beg leave to commit
to your care, and desire it may be concealed behind the wainscot
in Mr. Bentley's Gothic house, whenever you build it. As the
great person is living to whom it belonged, it would be highly
dangerous to make it public; as soon as she is in disgrace, I
don't know whether it Will not be a good way of making court to
her successor, to communicate it to the world, as I propose
doing, under the following title: "The Treasury of Art and
Nature, or a Collection of inestimable Receipts, stolen out of
the Cabinet of Madame de Pompadour, and now first published for
the use of his fair Countrywomen, by a true born Englishman and
philomystic." * * * * * * * * * * * * *
So the pretty Miss Bishop,(321) instead of being my niece, is
to be Mrs. Bob Brudenel. What foolish birds are turtles when
they have scarce a hole to roost in! Adieu!
(320) The Hun. George Compton. son of Lord Northampton, Mr.
Montagu's colleague for Northampton.-E.
(321) Daughter of Sir Cecil Bishop.
134 Letter 63
To Sir Horace Mann.
Arlington Street, July 27, 1752.
What will you say to me after a silence of two months? I should
be ashamed, if I were answerable for the whole world, who will
do nothing worth repeating. Newspapers have horse-races, and
can invent casualties, but I can't have the confidence to stuff
a letter with either. The only casualty that is of dignity
enough to send you, is a great fire at Lincoln's Inn, which is
likely to afford new work for the lawyers, in consequence of
the number of deeds and writings it has consumed. The Duke of
Kingston has lost many of his: he is unlucky with fires:
Thoresby, his seat, was burnt a few years ago, and in it a
whole room of valuable letters and manuscripts. There has been
a Very considerable loss of that kind at this fire: Mr. Yorke,
the Chancellor's son, had a great collection of Lord Somers's
papers, many relating to the assassination plot; and by which,
I am told, it appeared that the Duke of Marlborough was deep in
the schemes of St. Germain's.
There are great civil wars in the neighbourhood of Strawberry
Hill: Princess Emily, who succeeded my brother in the
rangership of Richmond Park, has imitated her brother William's
unpopularity, and disobliged the whole country, by refusal of
tickets and liberties, that had always been allowed. They are
at law with her, and have printed in the Evening Post a strong
Memorial, which she had refused to receive-.(322) The High
Sheriff of Surrey, to whom she had denied a ticket, but on
better thought had sent one, refused it, and said he had taken
his part. Lord Brooke(323) who had applied for one, was told
he could not have one-and to add to the affront@, it was
signified. that the Princess had refused one to my Lord
Chancellor--your old nobility don't understand such comparisons!
But the most remarkable event happened to her about three weeks
ago. One Mr. Bird, a rich gentleman near the park, was applied
to by the late Queen for a piece of ground that lay convenient
for a walk she was making: he replied, it was not proper for him
to pretend to make a Queen a present; but if she would do what
she pleased with the ground, he would be content with the
acknowledgment of a key and two bucks a-year. This was
religiously observed till the era of her Royal Highness's
reign; the bucks were denied, and he himself once shut out, on
pretence it was fence-month (the breeding-time, when tickets
used to be excluded, keys never.) The Princess soon after was
going through his grounds to town; she found a padlock on his
gate; she ordered it to be broke open: Mr. Shaw, her deputy,
begged a respite, till he could go for the key. He found Mr.
Bird at home--"Lord, Sir! here is a strange mistake; the
Princess is at the gate, and it is padlocked!" "Mistake! no
mistake at all - I made the road: the ground is my own
property: her Royal Highness has thought fit to break the
agreement which her Royal Mother made with me: nobody goes
through my grounds but those I choose should. Translate this
to your Florentinese; try if you can make them conceive how
pleasant it is to treat blood royal thus!
There are dissensions of more consequence in the same
neighbourhood. The tutorhood at Kew is split into factions:
the Bishop of Norwich and Lord Harcourt openly at war with
Stone and Scott, who are supported by Cresset, and countenanced
by the Princess and Murray--so my Lord Bolinbroke dead, will
govern, which he never could living! It is believed that the
Bishop will be banished into the rich bishopric of Durham,
which is just vacant-how pleasant to be punished, after
teaching the boys a year, with as much as he could have got if
he had taught them twenty! Will they ever expect a peaceable
prelate, if untractableness is thus punished?
Your painter Astley is arrived: I have missed seeing him by
being constantly at Strawberry Hill, but I intend to serve him
to the utmost of my power, as you will easily believe, since he
has your recommendation.
Our beauties are travelling Paris-ward: Lady Caroline Petersham
and Lady Coventry are just gone thither. It will scarce be
possible for the latter to make as much noise there as she and
her sister have in England. It is literally true that a
shoemaker it Worcester got two guineas and a half by showing a
shoo that he was making for the Countess, at a penny a piece.
I can't say her genius is equal to her beauty: she every day
says some new sproposito. She has taken a turn of vast
fondness for her lord: Lord Downe met them at Calais, and
offered her a tent-bed, for fear of bugs in the inns. "Oh!"
said she, "I had rather be bit to death, than lie one night
from my dear Cov.!" I can conceive my Lady Caroline making a
good deal of noise even at Paris; her beauty is set off by a
genius for the extraordinary, and for strokes that will make a
figure in any country. Mr. Churchill and my sister are just
arrived from France; you know my passion for the writing of the
younger Cr`ebillon:(324) you
shall hear how I have been mortified by the discovery of the
greatest meanness in him; and you will judge how much one must
be humbled to have one's favourite author convicted of mere
mercenariness! I had desired lady Mary to lay out thirty
guineas for ne with Liotard, and wished, if I could, to have
the portraits of Cr`ebillon and Marivaux(325) for my cabinet.
Mr. Churchill wrote me word that Liotard's(326) price was
sixteen guineas; that Marivaux was intimate with him, and would
certainly sit, and that he believed he could get Cr`ebillon to
sit too. The latter, who is retired into the provinces with an
English wife,(327) was just then at Paris for a month: Mr.
Churchill went to him, told him that a gentleman in England,
who was making a collection of portraits of famous people,
would be happy to have his, etc. Cr`ebillon was humble,
"unworthy," obliged; and sat: the picture was just finished,
when, behold! he sent Mr. Churchill word, that he expected to
have a copy of the picture given him-neither more nor less than
asking sixteen guineas for sitting! Mr. Churchill answered
that he could not tell what he should do, were it his own case,
but that this was a limited commission, and he could not
possibly lay out double; and was now so near his return, that
he could not have time to write to England and receive an
answer. Cr`ebillon said, then he would keep the picture
himself-it was excessively like. I am still sentimental enough
to flatter myself, that a man who could beg sixteen gineas will
not give them, and so I may still have the picture.
I am going to trouble you with a commission, my dear Sir, that
will not subject me to any such humiliations. You may have
heard that I am always piddling about ornaments and
improvements for Strawberry Hill-I am now doing a great deal to
the house--stay, I don't want Genoa damask!(328) What I shall
trouble you to buy is for the garden: there is a small recess,
for which I should be glad to have an antique Roman sepulchral
altar, of the kind of the pedestal to my eagle; but as it will
stand out of doors, I should not desire to have it a fine one: a
moderate one, I imagine, might be picked up easily at Rome at a
moderate price: if you could order any body to buy such an one, I
should be much obliged to you.
We have had an article in our papers that the Empress-queen had
desired the King of France to let her have Mesdames de Craon
and de la Calmette, ladies of great piety and birth, to form an
academy for the young Archduchesses-is there any truth in this?
is the Princess to triumph thus at last over Richcourt? I
should be glad. What a comical genealogy in education! the
mistress and mother of twenty children to Duke Leopold, being
the pious tutoress to his grand-daughters! How the old Duchess
of Lorrain will shiver in her coffin at the thoughts of it? Who
is la Calmette? Adieu! my dear child! You see my spirit of
justice: when I have not writ to you for two months, I punish
you with a reparation of six pages!--had not I better write one
line every fortnight?
(322) The memorial will be found in the Gentleman's Magazine
for this year. In December the park was opened by the King's
(323) Francis Greville, Earl Brooke.
(324) Claude Prosper Jolyot de Cr`ebillon, son of the tragic
poet of that name, and author of many licentious novels, which
are now but little read. He was born in 1707, and died in
1777.-D. ["The taste for his writings," says the Edinburgh
Reviewers, " passed away very rapidly and completely in France;
and long before his death, the author of the Sopha, and Les
Egaremens du Coeur et de l'Esprit, had the mortification to be
utterly forgotten by the public." Vol. xxi. p. 284.]
(325) Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux, the author of
numerous plays and novels, some of which possess considerable
merit. The peculiar affectation of his style occasioned the
invention of the word marivaudage, to express the way of
writing of him and his imitators. He was born in 1688, and
died in 1763.-D.
(326) Walpole, in his Anecdotes of Painting, states Liotard to
have been an admirable miniature and enamel painter. At Rome
he was taken notice of by the Earl of Sandwich, and by Lord
Besborough, then Lord Duncannon. See Museum Florentinum, vol.
x.; where the name of the last mentioned nobleman is spelled
Milord D'un Canon.-E.
(327) She was a Miss Strafford. The perusal of Cr`ebillon's
works inspired her with such a passion for the author, that she
ran away from her friends, went to Paris, married him, and
nursed and attended him with exemplary tenderness and affection
to his dying day. In reference to this marriage, Lord Byron,
in his Observations on Bowles's Strictures upon Pope, makes the
following remark:--"For my own part, I am of the opinion of
Pausanias, that success in love depends upon fortune. Grimm
has an observation of the same kind, on the different destinies
of the younger Cr`ebillon and Rousseau. The former writes a
licentious novel, and a young English girl of some fortune runs
away, and crosses the sea to marry him; while Rousseau, the
most tender and passionate of lovers, is obliged to espouse his
(328) Lord Cholmondoley borrowed great sums of money of various
people, under the pretence of a quantity of Genoa damask being
arrived for him, and that his banker was out of town, and he
must pay for it immediately. Four persons comparing notes,
produced four letters from him in a coffeehouse, in the very
137 Letter 64
To Richard Bentley, Esq.(329)
Battel, Wednesday, August 5, 1752.
here we are, my dear Sir, in the middle of our pilgrimage; and
lest we should never return from this holy land of abbeys and
Gothic castles, I begin a letter to you. that I hope some
charitable monk, when he has buried our bones, will deliver to
you. We have had piteous distresses, but then we have seen
glorious sights! You shall hear of each in their order.
Monday, Wind S. E.--at least that was our direction--While they
were changing our horses at Bromley, we went to see the Bishop
of Rochester's palace; not for the sake of any thing there was
to be seen, but because there was a chimney, in which had stood
a flower-pot, in which was put the counterfeit plot against
Bishop Sprat. 'Tis a paltry parsonage, with nothing of
antiquity but two panes of glass, purloined from Islip's chapel
in Westminster Abbey, with that abbot's rebus, an eye and a
slip of a tree. In the garden there is a clear little pond,
teeming with gold fish. The Bishop is more prolific than I am.
>From Sevenoaks we went to Knowle. The park is sweet, with much
old beech, and an immense sycamore before the great gate,
that makes me more in love than ever with sycamores. The house
is not near so extensive as I expected:(330) the outward court
has a beautiful decent simplicity that charms one. The
apartments are many, but not large. The furniture throughout,
ancient magnificence; loads of portraits, not good nor curious;
ebony cabinets, embossed silver in vases, dishes, etc.
embroidered beds, stiff chairs, and sweet bags lying on velvet
tables, richly worked in silk and gold. There are two
galleries, one very small; an old hall, and a spacious great
drawing-room. There is never a good staircase. The first
little room you enter has sundry portraits of the times; but
they seem to have been bespoke by the yard, and drawn all by
the same painter; One should be happy if they were authentic;
for among them there is Dudley, Duke of Northumberland,
Gardiner of Winchester, the Earl of Surry, the poet, when a
boy, and a Thomas, Duke of Norfolk, but I don't know which.
The only fine picture is of Lord Goring and Endymion Porter by
Vandyke. There is a good head of the Queen of Bohemia, a
whole-length of Duc d'Espernon, and another good head of the
Clifford, Countess of Dorset, who wrote that admirable haughty
letter to Secretary Williamson, when he recommended a person to
her for member for Appleby: "I have been bullied by an usurper,
I have been neglected by a court, but I won't be dictated to by
a subject: your man shan't stand. Ann Dorset, Pembroke and
Montgomery." In the chapel is a piece of ancient tapestry:
Saint Luke in his first profession is holding an urinal. Below
stairs is a chamber of poets and players, which is proper
enough in that house; for the first Earl wrote a play,(331) and
the last Earl was a poet,(332) and I think married a
player(333) Major Mohun and Betterton are curious among the
latter, Cartwright and Flatman among the former. The arcade is
newly enclosed, painted in fresco, and with modern glass of all
the family matches. In the gallery is a whole-length of the
unfortunate Earl of Surry, with his device, a broken column,
and the motto Sat superest. My father had one of them, but
larger, and with more emblems, which the Duke of Norfolk bought
at my brother's sale. There is one good head of henry VIII.,
and divers of Cranfield, Earl of Middlesex, the citizen who
came to be lord treasurer, and was very near coming to be
hanged.(334) His Countess, a bouncing kind of lady-mayoress,
looks pure awkward amongst so much good company. A visto cut
through the wood has a delightful effect from the front: but
there are some trumpery fragments of gardens that spoil the view
from the state apartments.
We lay that night at Tunbridge town, and were surprised with
the ruins of the old castle. The gateway is perfect, and the
enclosure formed into a vineyard by a Mr. Hooker, to whom it
belongs, and the walls spread with fruit, and the mount on
which the keep stood, planted in the same way. The prospect is
charming, and a breach in the wall opens below to a pretty
Gothic bridge of three arches over the Medway. We honoured the
man for his taste-not but that we wished the committee at
Strawberry Hill were to sit upon it, and stick cypresses among
the hollows.--But, alas! he sometimes makes eighteen sour
hogsheads, and is going to disrobe 'the ivy-mantled tower,'
because it harbours birds!
Now begins our chapter of woes. The inn was full of farmers
and tobacco; and the next morning, when we were bound for
Penshurst, the only man in the town who had two horses would
not let us have them, because the roads, as he said, were so
bad. We were forced to send to the wells for others, which did
not arrive till half the day was spent-we all the while up to
the head and ears in a market of sheep and oxen. A mile from
the town we climbed up a hill to see Summer Hill,(335) the
residence of Grammont's Princess of Babylon.(336) There is now
scarce a road to it: the Paladins of those times were too
valorous to fear breaking their necks; and I much apprehend
that la Monsery and the fair Mademoiselle Hamilton,(337) must
have mounted their palfreys and rode behind their
gentlemen-ushers upon pillions to the Wells. The house is
little better than a farm, but has been an excellent one, and
is entire, though out of repair. I have drawn the front of it
to show you, which you are to draw over again to show me. It
stands high, commands a vast landscape beautifully wooded, and
has quantities of large old trees to shelter itself, some of
which might be well spared to open views.
>From Summer Hill we went to Lamberhurst to dine; near which,
that is, at the distance of three miles, up and down
impracticable hills, in a most retired vale, such as Pope
describes in the last Dunciad,
"Where slumber abbots, purple as their vines,"
We found the ruins of Bayham Abbey, which the Barrets and
Hardings bid us visit. There are small but pretty remains, and
a neat little Gothic house built near them by their nephew
Pratt. They have found a tomb of an abbot, with a crosier, at
length on the stone.
Here our woes increase. The roads row bad beyond all badness,
the night dark beyond all darkness, our guide frightened beyond
all frightfulness. However, without being at all killed, we
got UP, or down,--I forget which, it was so dark,--a famous
precipice called Silver Hill, and about ten at night arrived at
a wretched village called Rotherbridge. We had still six miles
hither, but determined to stop, as it would be a pity to break
our necks before we had seen all we intended. But alas! there
was only one bed to be had: all the rest were inhabited by
smugglers, whom the people of the house called mountebanks; and
with one of whom the lady of the den told Mr. Chute he might
lie. We did not at all take to this society, but, armed with
links and ]anthems, set out again upon this impracticable
journey. At two o'clock in the morning we got hither to a
still worse inn, and that crammed with excise officers, one of
whom had just shot a smuggler. However, as we were neutral
powers, we have passed safely through both armies hitherto, and
can give you a little farther history of our wandering through
these mountains, where the young gentlemen are forced to drive
their curricles with a pair of oxen. the only morsel of good
road we have found, was what even the natives had assured us
was totally impracticable: these were eight miles to Hurst
Monceaux.(338) It is seated at the end of a large vale, five
miles in a direct line to the sea, with wings of blue hills
covered with wood, one of which falls down to the in a sweep of
a hundred acres. The building, for the convenience of water to
the moat, sees nothing at all; indeed it is entirely imagined
on a plan of defence, with drawbridges actually in being, round
towers, watch-towers mounted on them, and battlements pierced
for the passage of arrows from long bows. It was built in the
time of Henry VI., and is as perfect as the first day. It does
not seem to have been ever quite finished, or at least that age
was not arrived at the luxury of white-wash; for almost all the
walls, except in the principal chambers, are in their native
brickhood. It is a square building, each side about two
hundred feet in length; a porch and cloister, very like Eton
College; and the -whole is much in the same taste, the kitchen
extremely so, with three vast funnels to the chimneys going up
on the inside. There are two or three little courts for
offices, but no magnificence of apartments. It is scarcely
furnished with a few necessary beds and chairs: one side has
been sashed, and a drawing-room and dining-room and two or
three rooms wainscoted by the Earl of Sussex, who married a
natural daughter of Charles II. Their arms with delightful
carvings by Gibbons-, particularly two pheasants, hang Over the
chimneys. Over the great drawing-room chimney is the first
coat armour of the first Leonard, Lord Dacre, with all his
alliances. Mr. Chute was transported, and called cousin with ten
thousand quarterings.(339) The chapel is small, and mean: the
Virgin and seven long lean saints, ill done, remain in the
windows. There have been four more, but seem to have been
removed for light; and we actually found St. Catherine, and
another gentlewoman with a church in her hand, exiled into the
buttery. There remain two odd cavities, with very small wooden
screens on each side the altar, which seem to have been
confessionals. The outside is a mixture of gray brick and stone,
that has a very venerable appearance. The drawbridges are
romantic to a degree; and there is a dungeon, that gives one a
delightful idea of living in the days of soccage and under such
goodly tenures. They showed us a dismal chamber which they
called Drummer's-hall, and suppose that Mr. Addison's comedy is
descended from it. In the windows of the gallery over the
cloisters, which leads all round to the apartments, is the
device of the Fienneses, a wolf holding a baton with a scroll,
Le roy le veut--an unlucky motto, as I shall tell you
presently, to the last peer of that line. The estate is two
thousand a year, and so compact as to have but seventeen houses
upon it. We walked up a brave old avenue to the church, with
ships sailing on our left hand the whole way. Before the altar
lies a lank brass knight, hight William Fienis, chevalier, who
obiit c.c.c.c.v. that is in 1405. By the altar is a beautiful
tomb, all in our trefoil taste, varied into a thousand little
canopies and patterns, and two knights reposing on their backs.
These were Thomas, Lord Dacre, and his only son Gregory, who
died sans issue. An old grayheaded beadsman of the family
talked to us of a blot in the scutcheon; and we had observed
that the field of the arms was green instead of blue, and the
lions ramping to the right, contrary to order. This and the
man's imperfect narrative let us into the circumstances of the
personage before us; for there is no inscription. He went in a
Chevy-chase style to hunt in a Mr. Pelham's(340) park at
Lawton: the keepers opposed, a fray ensued, a man was killed.
The haurhty baron took the death upon himself, as most secure
of pardon; but however, though there was no chancellor of the
exchequer in the question, he was condemned to be hanged: Le
roy le Vouloist.
Now you arc fully master of Hurst Monceaux, I shall carry you
on to Battel--By the way, we bring you a thousand sketches,
that you may show us what we have seen. Battel Abbey stands at
the end of the town, exactly as Warwick Castle does of Warwick;
but the house of Webster have taken due care that it should not
resemble it in any thing else. A vast building, which they
call the old refectory, but which I believe was the original
church, is now barn, coach-house, etc. The situation is noble,
above the level of abbeys: what does remain of gateways and
towers is beautiful, particularly the flat side of a cloister,
which is now the front of the mansion-house. Miss of the family
has clothed a fragment of a portico with cockle-shells! The
grounds, and what has been a park, lie in a vile condition. In
the church is the tomb of Sir Anthony Browne, master of the horse
for life to Harry VIII.: from whose descendants the estate was
purchased. The head of John Hanimond, the last abbot, is still
perfect in one of the windows. Mr. Chute says, "What charming
things we should have done if Battel Abbey had been to be sold at
Mrs. Chenevix's, as Strawberry was!" Good night!
We are returned hither, where we have established our
head-quarters. On our way, we had an opportunity of surveying
that formidable mountain, Silver Hill, which we had floundered
down in the dark: it commands a whole horizon of the richest
blue prospect you ever saw. I take it to be the ]Individual
spot to which the Duke of Newcastle carries the smugglers, and,
showing them Sussex and Kent, says, "All this will I give you,
if you will fall down and worship me." Indeed one of them, who
exceeded the tempter's warrant, hangs in chains on the very
spot where they finished the life of that wretched customhouse
officer whom they were two days in murdering.
This morning we have been to Penshurst-but, oh! how
fallen!(341) The park seems to have never answered its
character: at present it is forlorn; and instead of
Sacharissa's(342) cipher carved on the beeches, I should sooner
have expected to have found the milkwoman's score. Over the
gate is an inscription, purporting the manor to have been a
boon from Edward VI. to Sir William Sydney. The apartments are
the grandest I have seen in any of these old palaces, but
furnished in tawdry modern taste. There are loads of
portraits; but most of them seem christened by chance, like
children at a foundling hospital. There is a portrait of
Languet,(343) the friend of Sir Philip Sydney; and divers of
himself and all his great kindred; particularly his
sister-in-law, with a vast lute, and Sacharissa, charmingly
handsome, But there are really four very great curiosities, I
believe as old portraits as any extant in England: they are,
Fitzallen, Archbishop of Canterbury, Humphry Stafford, the
first Duke of Buckingham; T. Wentworth, and John Foxle; all
four with the dates of their commissions as constables of
Queenborough Castle, from whence I suppose they were brought.
The last is actually receiving his investiture from Edward the
Third, and Wentworth is in the dress of Richard the Third's
time. They are really not very ill done.(344) There are six
more, only heads; and we have found since we came home that
Penshurst belonged for a time to that Duke of Buckingham.
There are some good tombs in the church, and a very Vandal one.
called Sir Stephen of Penchester. When we had seen Penshurst,
we borrowed saddles, and, bestriding the horses of our
postchaise, set out for Hever,(345) to visit a tomb of Sir
Thomas Bullen, Earl of Wiltshire, partly with a view to talk of
it in Anna Bullen's walk at Strawberry Hill. But the measure
of our woes was not full, we could not find our way.. and were
forced to return; and again lost ourselves in coming from
Penshurst, having been directed to what they call a better road
than the execrable one we had gone.
Since dinner we have been to Lord Westmorland's which is so
perfect in a Palladian taste, that I must own it has recovered
me a little from Gothic. It is better situated than I had
expected from the bad reputation it bears, and some prospect,
though it is in a moat, and mightily besprinkled with small
ponds. The design, you know, is taken from the Villa del Capra
by Vicenza, but on a larger scale: yet, though it has cost an
hundred thousand pounds, it is still only a fine villa: the
finishing of in and outside has been exceedingly Expensive. A
wood that runs up a hill behind the house is broke like an
Albano landscape, with an octagon temple and a triumphal arch;
But then there are some dismal clipt hedges, and a pyramid,
which by a most unnatural copulation is at once a grotto and a
greenhouse. Does it not put you in mind of the proposal for
your drawing a garden-seat, Chinese on one side and Gothic on
the other? The chimneys, which are collected to a centre, spoil
the dome of the house, and the hall is a dark well. The
gallery is eighty-two feet long, hung with green velvet and
pictures, among which is a fine Rembrandt and a pretty La Hire.
The ceilings are painted, and there is a fine bed of silk and
gold tapestry. The attic is good, and the wings extremely
pretty, with porticoes formed on the style of the house. The
Earl has built a new church, with a steeple which seems designed
for the latitude, of Cheapside, and is so tall that the poor
church curtsies under it, like Mary Rich(346) in a vast
high-crown hat: it has a round portico, like St. Clement's, with
vast Doric pillars supporting a thin shelf. The inside is the
most abominable piece of tawdriness that ever was seen, stuffed
with pillars painted in imitation of verd antique, as all the
sides are like Sienna marble: but the greatest absurdity is a
Doric frieze, between the triglyphs of which is the Jehovah, the
I. H. S. and the Dove. There is a little chapel with Nevil
tombs, particularly of the first Fane, Earl of Westmorland, and
of the founder of the old church, and the heart of a knight who
was killed in the wars. On the Fane tomb is a pedigree of brass
in relief, and a genealogy of virtues to answer it. There is an
entire window of painted-glass arms, chiefly modern, in the
chapel, and another over the high altar. The hospitality of the
house was truly Gothic; for they made our postilion drunk, and he
overturned us close to a water and the bank did but just save us
from being in the middle of it. Pray, whenever you travel in
Kentish roads, take care of keeping your driver sober.
We have finished our progress sadly! Yesterday after twenty
mishaps we got to Sissinghurst to dinner. There is a park in
ruins, and a house in ten times greater ruins, built by Sir
John Balier, chancellor of the exchequer to Queen Mary. You go
through an arch of the stables to the house, the court of which
is perfect and very beautiful. The Duke of Bedford has a house
at Cheneys, in Buckinghamshire, which seems to have been very
like it, but is more ruined. This has a good apartment, and a
fine gallery, a hundred and twenty feet by eighteen, which
takes up one side: the wainscot is pretty and entire: the
ceiling vaulted, and painted in a light genteel grotesque. The
whole is built for show: for the back of the house is nothing
but lath and plaster. From thence we Went to Bocton-Malherbe,
where are remains of a house of the Wottons, and their tombs in
the church; but the roads were so exceedingly bad that it was
dark before we got thither, and still darker before we got to
Maidstone: from thence we passed this morning to Leeds
Castle.(347) Never was such disappointment! There are small
remains: the moat is the only handsome object, and is quite a
lake, supplied by a cascade which tumbles through a bit of a
romantic grove. The Fairfaxes have fitted up a pert, bad
apartment in the fore-part of the castle, and have left the only
tolerable rooms for offices. They had a gleam of Gothic in their
eyes, but it soon passed off into some modern windows, and some
that never were ancient. The only thing that at all recompensed
the fatigues we have undergone was the picture of the Duchess of
Buckingham,(348) la Ragotte, who is mentioned in Grammont--I say
us, for I trust that Mr. Chute is as true a bigot to Grammont as
I am. Adieu? I hope you will be as weary
with reading our history as we have been in travelling it.
(329) Only son of Dr. Richard Bentley, the celebrated Divine
and classical scholar. He was educated at Trinity College,
under his father. Cumberland, who was his nephew, describes
him as a man of various and considerable accomplishments;
possessing a fine genius, great wit, and a brilliant
imagination; "but there was," he adds, "a certain eccentricity
and want of prudence in his character, that involved him in
distresses, and reduced him to situations uncongenial with his
feelings, and unpropitious to the cultivation and encouragement
of his talents."-E.
(330) Evelyn ' in his Diary for July 25, 1673, says, "In my way
I visited my Lord of Dorset's house at Knowle, near Sevenoaks,
a greate old-fashion'd house."-E.
331) Thomas Sackville, Lord Buckhurst, while a student in the
Temple, wrote his tragedy of Gordobuc, which was played before
Queen Elizabeth, at Whitehall, in 1561. He was created Earl of
Dorset by James the First, in 1604.-E.
(332) Charles Sackville, sixth Earl of Dorset. On the day
previous to the naval engagement with the Dutch, in 1665, he is
said to have composed his celebrated song, "to all you Ladies
now on Land."-E.
(333) On the contrary, he married the Lady Frances, daughter of
the Earl of Middlesex, who survived him.-E.
(334) Lionel Cranfield, Earl of Middlesex, married two wives:
the first was the daughter of a London citizen; the second, the
daughter of James Brett, Esq. and half-sister of Mary Beaumont,
created Countess of Buckingham. To this last alliance, Lord
Middlesex owed his extraordinary advancement.-E.
(335) "May 29, 1652. We went to see the house of my Lord
Clanrickard, at Summer Hill, near Tunbridge; now given to that
villain Bradshaw, who condemned the King. 'Tis situated on an
eminent hill, with a park, but has nothing else extraordinary."
Evelyn, vol. ii. p. 58.-E.
(336) lady Margaret Macarthy, daughter and heiress of the
Marquis of Clanricarde, wife of Charles, Lord Muskerry.-E.
(337) Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Sir George Hamilton, fourth
son of the first Earl of Abercorn, and niece of to the first
Duke of Ormond, celebrated in the "M`emoires de Grammont"
(written by her brother, Count Anthony Hamilton,) for her
beauty and accomplishments. She married Philip, Count de
Grammont, by whom she had two daughters; the eldest married
Henry Howard, created Earl of Stafford, and the youngest took
(338) the ancient inheritance of Lord Dacre of the South.-E.
(339) Chaloner Chute, Esq, of the Vine, married Catherine,
daughter of Richard, Lord Dacre.-E.
(340) At the date of this letter Mr. Pelham was prime minister.
(341) Evelyn, who visited Penshurst exactly a century before
Walpole, gives the Following brief notice of the place:-"July
9, 1652. We went to see Penshurst, the Earl of Leicester's,
famous once for its gardens and excellent fruit, and for the
noble conversation which Was wont to meet there, celebrated by
that illustrious person Sir Philip Sidney, who there composed
divers of his pieces. It stands in a park, is finely watered,
and was now full of company, on the marriage of my old
fellow-collegiate, Mr. Robert Smith, who marries Lady Dorothy
Sidney, widow of the Earl of Sunderland."-E.
(342) Lady Dorothy Sidney, daughter of Philip, Earl of
Leicester; of whom Waller was the unsuccessful suitor, and to
whom he addressed those elegant effusions of poetical
gallantry, in which she is celebrated under the name of
Sacharissa. Walpole here alludes to the lines written at
"Go, boy, and carve this passion on the bark
Of yonder tree, which stands the sacred mark
Of noble Sydney's birth; when such benign,
Such more than mortal-making stars did shine,
That there they cannot but for ever prove
The monument and pledge of humble love;
His humble love, whose hope shall ne'er rise higher,
Than for a pardon that he dares admire."-E.
(343) Hubert Tanguet, who quitted the service of the Elector of
Saxony on account of his religion, and attached himself to the
Prince of Orange. He died in 1581.-E.
(344) In Harris's History of Kent, he gives from Philpot a list
of the constables of Queenborough Castle, p. 376; the last but
one of whom, Sir Edward Hobby, is said to have collected all
their portraits, of which number most probably were these ten.
(345) Hever Castle was built in the reign of Edward III., by
William de Hevre, and subsequently became the property of the
Boleyn family. In this castle Henry VIII. passed the time of
his courtship to the unfortunate Anne Boleyn; whose father, Sir
Thomas Boleyn, was Created Earl of wiltshire and Ormond, 1529
(346)Daughter of Sir Robert Rich, and elder sister of Elizabeth
Rich, Lady Lyttelton.
(347) A very ancient and magnificent structure, built
throughout of stone, at different periods, formerly belonging
to the family of Crovequer. In the fifteenth of Edward II.
Sir Thomas de Colepeper, who was castellan of the castle, was
hanged on the drawbridge for having refused admittance to
Isabel, the Queen-consort, in her progress in performing a
pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Thomas `a Becket at Canterbury.
The manor and castle were forfeited to the crown by his
attainder, but restored to his son, sir Thomas Colepeper. By
his Diary of May 8, 1666, it appears to have been hired by
Evelyn for a prison. "Here," he says, "I flowed the dry moat,
made a new drawbridge, brought spring-water into the court of
the castle to an old fountain, and took order for the
(348) Mary, Duchess of Buckingham, only daughter of Thomas,
145 Letter 65
To George Montagu, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, Aug. 28, 1752.
Will you never have done jigging at Northampton with that old
harlotry Major Compton? Peggy Trevor told me, she had sent you
a mandate to go thither. Shall I tell you how I found Peggy,
that is, not Peggy, but her sister Muscovy? I went, found a
bandage upon the knocker, an old woman and child in the hall,
and a black boy at the door. Lord! thinks I, this can't be
Mrs. Boscawen's. However, Pompey let me up; above were fires
blazing, and a good old gentlewoman, whose occupation easily
spoke itself to be midwifery. "Dear Madam, I fancy I should not
have come up."--"Las-a-day! Sir, no, I believe not; but I'll
stop and ask." Immediately out came old Falmouth,(348) looking
like an ancient fairy, who had just been tittering a
malediction over a new-born prince, and told me, forsooth, that
Madame Muscovy was but just brought to bed, which Peggy Trevor
soon came and confirmed. I told them I would write you my
adventure. I have not thanked you for your travels, and the
violent curiosity you have given me to see Welbeck. Mr. Chute
and I have been a progress too; but it was in a land you know
full well, the county of Kent. I will only tell you that we
broke our necks twenty times to your health, and had a distant
glimpse of Hawkhurst from that Sierra Morena, Silver Hill. I
have since been with Mr. Conway at Park-place, where I saw the
individual Mr. Cooper, a banker, and lord of the manor of
Henley, who had those two extraordinary forfeitures from the
executions of the Misses Blandy and Jefferies, two fields from
the former, and a malthouse from the latter. I had scarce
credited the story, and was pleased to hear it confirmed by the
very person; though it was not quite so remarkable as it was
reported, for both forfeitures were in the same manor.
Mr. Conway has brought Lady Ailesbury from Minorca, but
originally from Africa, a Jeribo. To be sure you know what
that is; if you don't, I will tell you, and then I believe you
will scarce know any better. It is a composition of a
squirrel, a hare, a rat, and a monkey, which altogether looks
very like a bird. In short, it is about the size of the first,
with much Such a head, except that the tip of the nose seems
shaved off, and the remains are like a human hare-lip; the ears
and its timidity are like a real hare. It has two short little
feet before like a rat, but which it never uses for walking, I
believe never but to hold its food. The tail is naked like a
monkey's, with a tuft of hair at the end; striped black and white
in rings. The two hind legs are as long as a Granville's, with
feet more like a bird than any other animal, and upon these it
hops so immensely fast and upright that at a distance you would
take it for a large thrush. It lies in cotton, is brisk at
night, eats wheat, and never drinks; it would, but drinking is
fatal to them. Such is a Jeribo!
Have you heard the particulars of the Speaker's quarrel with a
young officer, who went to him, on his landlord refusing to
give his servant the second best bed in the inn? He is a young
man of eighteen hundred a year, and passionately fond of the
army. The Speaker produced the Mutiny-bill to him. "Oh Sir,"
said the lad, "but there is another act of parliament which
perhaps you don't know of." The "person of dignity," as the
newspapers call him, then was so ingenious as to harangue on
the dangers of a standing army. The boy broke out, "Don't tell
me of your privileges: what would have become of you and your
privileges in the year forty-five, if it had not been for the
army--and pray, why do you fancy I would betray my country? I
have as much to lose as you have!" In short, this abominable
young hector treated the Speaker's oracular decisions with a
familiarity that quite shocks me to think of!
The Poemata-Grayo-Bentleiana, or Gray's Odes, better
illustrated than ever odes were by a Bentley, are in great
forwardness, and I trust will appear this Winter. I shall tell
you One little anecdote about the authors and conclude. Gray
is in love to distraction with a figure of Melancholy, which Mr
Bentley has drawn for one of the Odes, and told him he must
have something of his pencil: Mr. Bentley desired him to choose
a subject. He chose Theodore and Honoria!--don't mention this,
for we are shocked. It is loving melancholy till it is not
strong enough, and he grows to dram with Horror. Good night!
my compliments to Miss Montagu; did you receive my recipes?
(348) Charlotte, daughter and co-heiress of Colonel Godfrey,
married in 1700 to Lord Falmouth.-E.
146 Letter 66
To Sir Horace Mann.
Strawberry Hill, Oct. 28, N. S. 1752.
I must certainly make you a visit, for I have nothing to say to
you. Perhaps you will think this an odd reason; but as I
cannot let our intimacy drop, and no event happens here for
fuel to the correspondence, if we must be silent, it shall be
like a matrimonial silence, t`ete-`a-t`ete. Don't look upon
this paragraph as a thing in the air, though I dare to say you
will, upon my repeating that I have any thoughts of a trip to
Florence: indeed I have never quite given up that intention and
if I can possibly settle my affairs at all to my mind, I
shall certainly execute my scheme towards the conclusion of
this Parliament, that is, about next spring twelvemonth: I
cannot bear elections: and still less, the hash of them over
again in a first session. What vivacity such a reverberation
may give to the blood of England, I don't know; at present it
all stagnates. I am sometimes almost tempted to go and amuse
myself at Paris with the bull Unigenius. Our beauties are
returned, and have done no execution. The French would not
conceive that Lady Caroline Petersham ever had been handsome,
nor that my Lady Coventry has much pretence to be so now.
Indeed all the travelled English allow that there is a Madame
de Broune handsomer, and a finer figure. Poor Lady Coventry
was under piteous disadvantages; for besides being very silly,
ignorant of the world, breeding, speaking no French, and
suffered to wear neither red nor powder, she had that perpetual
drawback upon her beauty her lord, who is sillier in a wise
way, as ignorant, ill bred, and speaking very little French
himself-just enough to show how ill-bred he is. The Duke de
Luxemburg told him he had called upon my Lady Coventry's coach;
my lord replied, "Vous avez fort bien fait." He is jealous,
prude, and scrupulous; at a dinner at Sir John Bland's, before
sixteen persons, he coursed his wife round the table, on
suspecting she had stolen on a little red, seized her, scrubbed
it off by force with a napkin, and then told her, that since
she had deceived him and broke her promise, he would carry her
back directly to England. They were pressed to stay for the
great fete at St. Cloud; he excused himself,
"because it would make him miss a music-meeting at Worcester;"
and she excused herself from the fireworks at Madame
Pompadour's, "because it was her dancing-master's hour." I
will tell you but one more anecdote, and I think You cannot be
imperfect in your ideas of them. The Mar`echale de lowendahl
was pleased with an English fan Lady Coventry had, who very
civilly gave it her: my lord made her write for it again next
morning, because he had given it her before marriage, and her
parting with it would make an irreparable breach," and send an
old one in the room of it! She complains to every body she
meets, "How odd it is that my lord should use her so ill, when
she knows he has so great a regard that he would die for her,
and when he was so good as to marry her without a shilling!"
Her sister's history is not unentertaining: Duke Hamilton is
the abstract of Scotch pride: he and the Duchess at their own
house walk in to dinner before their company, sit together at
the upper end of their own table, eat off the same plate, and
drink to nobody beneath the rank of Earl-would not one wonder
how they could get any body either above or below that rank to
dine with them at all? I don't know whether you will not think
all these very trifling histories; but for myself, I love any
thing that marks a character SO Strongly.
I told you how the younger Cr`ebillon had served me, and how
angry I am; yet I must tell you a very good reply of his. His
father one day in a passion with him, said, "Il y a deux choses
que je voudrois n'avoir jamais fait, mon Catilina et vous!" He
answered, "Consolez vous, mon p`ere, car on pr`etend que vous
n'avez fait ni l'un ni l'autre." Don't think me infected with
France, if I tell you more French stories; but I know no
English ones, and we every day grow nearer to the state of a
French province, and talk from the capital. The old
Cr`ebillon, who admires us as much as we do them. has long had
by him a tragedy called Oliver Cromwell, and had thoughts of
dedicating it to the Parliament of England: he little thinks
how distant a cousin the present Parliament is to the
Parliament he wots of. The Duke of Richelieu's son,(349) who
certainly must not pretend to declare off, like Cr`ebillon's,
(he is a boy of ten years old,) was reproached for not minding
his Latin: he replied, "Eh! mon p`ere n'a jamais s`cu le Latin,
et il a eu les plus jolies femmes de France!" My sister was
exceedingly shocked with their indecorums: the night She
arrived at Paris, asking for the Lord knows what utensil, the
footman of the house came and "showed it her himself, and every
thing that is related to it. Then, the footmen who brought
messages to her, came into her bedchamber in person; for they
don't deliver them to your servants, in the English way. She
amused me with twenty other new fashions, which I should be
ashamed to set down, if a letter was at all upon a higher or
wiser foot than a newspaper. Such is their having a knotting
bag made of the same stuff with every gown; their footmen
carrying their lady's own goblet whenever they dine; the King
carrying his own bread in his pocket to dinner, the etiquette
of the queen and the Mesdames not speaking to one another cross
him at table, and twenty other such nothings; but I find myself
Gossiping and will have done, with only two little anecdotes
that please me. Madame Pompadour's husband has not been
permitted to keep an opera-girl, because it would too
frequently occasion the reflection of his not having his wife--
is not that delightful decorum? and in that country! The other
was a most sensible trait of the King. The Count
Charolois(350) shot a President's dogs, who lives near him: the
President immediately posted to Versailles to complain: the
King promised him justice; and then sent to the Count to desire
he would give him two good dogs. The Prince picked out his two
best: the king sent them to the President, with this motto on
their collars, 'J'appartiens au Roi!' "There," said the king,
"I believe he won't shoot them now!"
Since I began my letter, I looked over my dates, and was hurt
to find that three months are gone and over since I wrote last.
I was going to begin a new apology, when your letter of Oct.
20th came in, curtsying and making apologies itself. I was
charmed to find you to blame, and had a mind to grow haughty
and scold you-but I won't. My dear child, we will not drop one
another at last; for though we arc English, we are not both in
England, and need not quarrel we don't know why. We will write
whenever we have any thing to say; and when we have not,--Why, we
will be going to write. I had heard nothing of the Riccardi
deaths: I still like to hear news of any of my old friends. Your
brother tells me that you defend my Lord Northumberland's idea
for his gallery, so I will not abuse it so much as I intended,
though I must say that I am so fired with copies of the pictures
he has chosen, that I would scarce hang up the originals--and
then, copies by any thing now living!--and at that price!--indeed
price is no article, or rather price is a reason for my Lord
Northumberland's liking any thing. They are building at
Northumberland-house, at Sion, at Stansted, at Alnwick, and
Warkworth Castles! they live by the etiquette of the old
peerage, have Swiss porters, the Countess has her pipers--in
short, they will very soon have no estate.
One hears here of writings that have appeared in print on the
quarrel of the Pretender and his second son; I could like to
see any such thing. Here is a bold epigram, which the
Jacobites give about:
"In royal veins how blood resembling runs!
Like any George, James quarrels with his sons.
Faith! I believe, could he his crown resume,
He'd hanker for his herenhausen, Rome."
The second is a good line; but the thought in the last is too
obscurely expressed; and yet I don't believe that it was
designed for precaution.
I went yesterday with your brother to see Astley's(351)
pictures: mind, I confess myself a little prejudiced, for he
has drawn the whole Pigwigginhood. but he has got too much
into the style of the four thousand English painters about
town, and is so intolerable as to work for money, not for fame:
in short, he is not such a Rubens as in your head--but I fear,
as I said, that I am prejudiced. Did I ever tell you of a
picture at Woolterton of the whole family which I call the
progress of riches? there is Pigwiggin in a laced coat and
waistcoat; the second son has only the waistcoat trimmed; the
third is in a plain suit, and the little boy is naked. I saw a
much more like picture of my uncle last night at Drury Lane in
the farce; there is a tailor who is exactly my uncle in person,
and my aunt in family. Good night! I wish you joy of being
dis-Richcourted; you need be in no apprehensions of his
Countess; she returns to England in the spring! Adieu!
P.S. You shall see that I am honest, for though the beginning
of my letter is dated Oct. 28th, the conclusion ought to be
from Nov. 11th.
(349) The infamous Duke de Pronsac.-D.
(350) Charles de Bourbon, Count de Charolois, next brother to
the Duke de Bourbon, who succeeded the Regent Duke of Orleans
as prime minister of France. the Count de Charolois was a man
of infamous character, and committed more than one murder.
when Louis the Fifteenth pardoned him for one of these
atrocities, he said to him, "I tell you fairly, that I will
also pardon any man who murders you."-D.
(351) John Astley, an English portrait painter of some merit,
born at Wem, in Shropshire. He married a lady of large
fortune, relinquished his profession, and died in 1787.-D.
150 Letter 67
To The Hon. H. S. Conway.(352)
Strawberry Hill, November 8th, 1752.
After divers mistakes and neglects of my own servants and Mr.
Fox's, the Chinese pair have at last set sail for Park-place: I
don't call them boar and sow, because of their being fit for
his altar: I believe, when you see them, you will think it is
Zicchi Micchi himself, the Chinese god of good eating and
drinking, and his wife. They were to have been with you last
week, but the chairmen who were to drive them to the water side
got drunk, and said, that the creatures were so wild and
unruly, that they ran away and would not be managed. Do but
think of their running! It puts me in mind of Mrs. Nugent's
talking of just jumping out of a coach! I might with as much
propriety talk of' having all my clothes let out. My coachman
is vastly struck with the goodly paunch of the boar, and says,
it would fetch three pounds in his country; but he does not
consider, that he is a boar with the true brown edge,(353) and
has been fed with the old original wheatsheaf: I hope you will
value him more highly: I dare say Mr. cutler or Margas,(354)
would at least ask twenty guineas for him, and swear that Mrs.
Dunch gave thirty for the fellow.
As you must of course write me a letter of thanks for my brawn,
I beg you will take that opportunity Of telling me very
particularly how my Lady Aylesbury does, and if she is quite
recovered, as I much hope? How does my sweet little wife do @
Are your dragons all finished? Have the Coopers seen Miss
Blandy's ghost, or have they made Mr. Cranston poison a dozen
or two more private gentlewomen? Do you plant without rain as I
do, in order to have your trees die, that you may have the
pleasure of planting them over again with rain? Have you any
Mrs. Clive(355) that pulls down barns that intercept your
prospect; or have you any Lord Radnor(356) that plants trees to
intercept his own prospect, that he may cut them down again to
make an alteration? There! there are as many questions as if I
were your schoolmaster or your godmother! Good night!
(352) Now first printed.
(353) He means such as are painted on old china with the brown
edge, and representations of wheatsheafs.-E.
(354) Fashionable china-shops.-E.
(355) Then living at Little Strawberry Hill.-E.
(356) The last Lord Radnor of the family of Robarts, then
living at Twickenham, very near Strawberry Hill.-E.
150 Letter 68
To George Montagu, Esq.
White's, December 3, 1752.
I shall be much obliged to you for the passion-flower,
notwithstanding it comes out of a garden of Eden, from which
Eve, my sister-in-law, long ago gathered passion-fruit. I thank
you too for the offer of your Roman correspondences, but you know
I have done with virt`u, and deal only with the Goths and
You ask a very improper person, why my Lord Harcourt(357)
resigned. My lord Coventry says it is the present great
arcanum of government, and you know I am quite out of the
circle of secrets. The town says, that it was finding Stone is
a Jacobite; and it says, too, that the Whigs are very uneasy.
My Lord Egremont says the Whigs can't be in danger, for then my
Lord Hartington would not be gone a-hunting. Every body is as
inpatient as you can be, to know the real cause, but I don't
find that either Lord or Bishop is disposed to let the world
into the true secret. It is pretty certain that one Mr.
Cresset has abused both of them without ceremony, and that the
Solicitor-general told the Bishop in plain terms that my Lord
Harcourt was a cipher, and was put in to be a cipher: an
employment that, considering it is a sinecure, seems to hang
unusually long upon their hands. They have so lately
quarrelled with poor Lord Holderness for playing at
blindman's-buff at Tunbridge, that it will be difficult to give
him another place only because he is fit to play at
blind-man's-buff; and yet it is much believed that he will be
the governor, and your cousin his successor. I am as improper
to tell you why the governor of Nova Scotia is to be at the
head of the Independents. I have long thought him one of the
greatest dependents, and I assure you I have seen nothing since
his return, to make me change my opinion. He is too busy in
the bedchamber to remember me.
Mr. Fox said nothing about your brother; if the offer was
ill-designed from one quarter, I think you may make the refusal
of it have its weight in another.
It would be odd to conclude a letter from White's without a
bon-mot of George Selwyn's; he came in here t'other night, and
saw James Jefferies playing at piquet with Sir Everard
Falkener, "Oh!" says he, "now he is robbing the mail." Good
night! when do you come back?
(357) On the death of the Prince of Wales in 1751, his eldest
son, Prince George, was committed to the care of the Earl of
Harcourt as governor.
151 Letter 69
To Sir Horace Mann.
Strawberry Hill, Dec. 11, 1752, N. S.
I don't know whether I may not begin a new chapter of
revolutions: if one may trust prognosticators, the foundations
of a revolution in earnest are laying. However, as I am only a
simple correspondent, and no almanack-maker, I shall be content
with telling you facts, and not conjectures, at least if I do
tell you conjectures they shall not be my own. Did not I give
you a hint in the summer of some storms gathering in the
tutorhood? They have broke out; indeed there wanted nothing to
the explosion but the King's arrival, for the instant he came, it
was pretty plain that he was prepared for the grievances he was
to hear--not very impartially it seems, for he would not speak to
Lord Harcourt. In about three days he did, and saw him
afterwards alone in his closet. What the conversation was, I
can't tell you: one should think not very explicit, for in a day
or two afterwards it was thought proper to send the Archbishop
and Chancellor to hear his lordship's complaints; but on
receiving a message that they would wait on him by the King's
orders, he prevented the visit by going directly to the
Chancellor; and on hearing their commission, Lord Harcourt, after
very civil speeches of regard to their persons, said, he must
desire to be excused, for what he had to say was of a nature that
made it improper to be said to any body but the King. You may
easily imagine that this is interpreted to allude to a higher
person than the mean people who have offended Lord Harcourt and
the Bishop of Norwich. Great pains were taken to detach the
former from the latter; "dear Harcourt, we love you, we wish to
make you easy; but the Bishop must go." I don't tell you these
were the Duke of Newcastle's words; but if I did, would they be
unlike him? Lord Harcourt fired, and replied with spirit,
"What! do you think to do me a favour by offering me to stay!
know, it is I that will not act with such fellows as Stone and
Cresset, and Scott: if they are kept, I will quit, and if the
Bishop is dismissed, I will quit too." After a few days, he
had his audience and resigned. It is said, that he frequently
repeated, "Stone is a Jacobite," and that the other person who
made up the t`ete-`a-t`ete cried, "Pray, my lord! pray, my
lord!"--and would not hear upon that subject. The next day the
Archbishop went to the King, and begged to know whether the
Bishop of Norwich might have leave to bring his own
resignation, or whether his Majesty would receive it from him,
the Archbishop, The latter was chosen, and the Bishop' was
refused an audience.
You will now naturally ask me what the quarrel was: and that is
the most difficult point to tell you; for though the world
expects to see some narrative, nothing has yet appeared, nor I
believe will, though both sides have threatened. The Princess
says, the Bishop taught the boys nothing; he says, he never was
suffered to teach them any thing. The first occasion of
uneasiness was the Bishop's finding the Prince of Wales reading
the Revolutions of England, written by P`ere d'Orl`eans to
vindicate James II. and approved by that Prince. Stone at
first peremptorily denied that he had seen that book these
thirty years, and offered to rest his whole justification upon
the truth or falsehood of this story. However, it is now
confessed that the Prince was reading that book, but it is
qualified with Prince Edward's borrowing it of Lady Augusta.
Scott, the under-preceptor, put in by Lord Bolingbroke, and of no
very orthodox odour, was another complaint. Cresset, the link of
the connexion, has dealt in no very civil epithets, for besides
calling Lord Harcourt a groom, he qualified the Bishop with
bastard and atheist,' particularly to one of the Princess's
chaplains, who, begged to be excused from hearing such language
against a prelate of the church, and not prevailing, has drawn
up a narrative, sent it to the Bishop, and offered to swear to
it. For Lord Harcourt, besides being treated with considerable
contempt by the Princess, he is not uninformed of the light in
which he was intended to stand, by an amazing piece of
imprudence of the last, but not the most inconsiderable
performer in this drama, the Solicitor-general, Murray--pray,
what part has his brother, Lord Dunbar, acted in the late
squabbles in the Pretender's family? Murray, early in the
quarrel, went officiously to the Bishop, and told him Mr. Stone
ought to have more consideration in the family: the Bishop was
surprised, and got rid of the topic as well as he could. The
visit and opinion were repeated: the Bishop said, he believed
Mr. Stone had all the regard shown him that was due; that lord
Harcourt, who was the chief person, was generally present.
Murray interrupted him, "Pho! Lord Harcourt! he is a cipher,
and must be a cipher, and was put in to be a cipher." Do you
think after this declaration, that the employment will be very
agreeable? Every body but Lord Harcourt understood it before;
but at least the cipher -ism was not notified in form. Lord
Lincoln, the intimate friend of that lord, was so friendly to
turn his back upon him as he came out of the closet--and yet Lord
Harcourt and the Bishop have not at all lessened their characters
by any part of their behaviour in this transaction. What will
astonish you, is the universal aversion that has broke out
against Stone: and what heightens the disgusts, is, the intention
there has been of making Dr. Johnson, the new Bishop of
Gloucester, preceptor. He was master of Westminster School, of
Stone's and Murray's year, and is certainly of their
principles--to be sure, that is, Whig--but the Whigs don't seem
to think so. As yet no successors are named; the Duke of
Leeds,(359) Lord Cardigan, Lord Waldegrave, Lord Hertford, Lord
Bathurst, and Lord Ashburnham,(360) are talked of for governor.
The two first are said to have refused; the third dreads it; the
next I hope will not have it; the Princess is inclined to the
fifth, and the last I believe eagerly wishes for it. Within this
day or two another is named, which leads me to tell you another
interlude in our politics. This is poor Lord Holderness --to
make room in the secretary's office for Lord Halifax. Holderness
has been in disgrace from the first minute of the King's return:
besides not being spoken to, he is made to wait at the
closet-door with the bag in his hand, while the Duke of Newcastle
is within; though the constant etiquette has been for both
secretaries of state to go in together, or to go in immediately,
if one came after the other. I knew of this disgrace; but not
being quite so able a politician as Lord Lincoln, at least having
an inclination to great men in misfortune, I went the other
morning to visit the afflicted. I found him alone: he said, "You
are very good to visit any body in my situation." This lamentable
tone had like to have made me laugh; however I kept my
countenance, and asked him what he meant? he said, "Have not you
heard how the world abuses me only for playing at blindman's-buff
in a private room at Tunbridge?" Oh! this was too much! I
laughed out. I do assure you, this account of his misfortunes
was not given particularly to me: nay, to some he goes so far as
to say, "Let them go to the office, and look over my letters and
see if I am behindhand!" To be sure, when he has done his book,
it is very hard he may not play! My dear Sir, I don't know what
apologies a P`ere d'Orl`eans must make for our present history!
it is too ridiculous!
The preceptor is as much in suspense as the governor. The
Whigs clamour so much against Johnson, that they are regarded,-
-at least for a time. Keene,(361) Bishop of Chester, and
brother of your brother minister, has been talked of. He is a
man that will not prejudice his fortune by any ill-placed
scruples. My father gave him a living of seven hundred pounds
a year to marry one of his natural daughters; he took the
living; and my father dying soon after, he dispensed with
himself from taking the wife, but was so generous as to give
her very near one year's income of the living. He then was the
Duke of Newcastle's- tool at Cambridge, which university be has
half turned Jacobite, by cramming down new ordinances to carry
measures of that Duke; and being rewarded with the bishopric,
he was at dinner at the Bishop of Lincoln's when he received
the nomination. He immediately rose from the table, took his
host into another room, and begged he would propose him to a
certain great fortune, to whom he never spoke, but for whom he
now thought himself a proper match.(362) Don't you think he
would make a very proper preceptor? Among other candidates,
they talk of Dr. hales, the old philosopher, a poor good
primitive creature, whom I call the Santon Barsisa; do you
remember the hermit in the Persian tales, who after living in
the odour of sanctity for above ninety years, was tempted to be
naughty with the King's daughter, who had been sent to his cell
for a cure? Santon Hales but two years ago accepted the post of
clerk of the closet to the Princess, after literally leading the
life of a studious anchorite till past seventy. If he does
accept the preceptorship, I don't doubt but by the time the
present clamours are appeased, the wick of his old life will be
snuffed out, and they will put Johnson in his socket. Good
night! I shall carry this letter to town to-morrow, and perhaps
keep it back a few days, till I am able to send you this history
Arlington Street, Dec. 17th.
Well! at last we shall have a governor: after meeting with
divers refusals, they have forced lord Waldegrave(364) to take
it; and he kisses hands to-morrow. He has all the time declared
that nothing but the King's earnest desire should make him
accept it-and so they made the King earnestly desire it! Dr.
Thomas, the Bishop of Peterborough, I believe, is to be the
tutor--I know nothing of him: he had lain by for many years,
after having read prayers to the present King when he lived at
Leicester House, which his Majesty remembered, and two years
ago popped him into a bishopric.
There is an odd sort of manifesto arrived from Prussia, which
does not make us in better humour at St. James's. It stops the
payment of the interest on the Silesian loan, till satisfaction
is made some Prussian captures during the war. The omnipotence
of the present ministry does not reach to Berlin! Adieu! All
the world are gone to their several Christmases, as I should
do, if I could have got my workmen out of Strawberry Hill; but
they don't work at all by the scale of my impatience.
(358) The Bishop of Norwich, who was a prelate of profound
learning, and conscientiously zealous for the mental
improvement of his pupil, disgusted the young Prince by his dry
and pedantic manners, and offended the Princess, his mother, by
persevering in the discipline which he deemed necessary to
remedy the gross neglect of her son's education." Coxe's
Pelham, vol. ii. p. 236.-E.
(359) Thomas Osborne, fourth Duke of Leeds. He died in
(360) John, second Earl of Ashburnham. He died at a great age,
April 8th, 1812.-D.
(361) Dr. Edmund Keene, Bishop of Chester, was, for some reason
which is not known, the constant subject of Gray's witty and
splenetic effusions. One of the chief amusements discovered by
the poet, pour passer le temps in a postchaise, was making
extempore epigrams upon the Bishop, and then laughing at them
immoderately. The following, which is the commencement of one
of them, may serve as a specimen:
"Here lies Edmund Keene, the Bishop of Chester,
Who ate a fat goose and could not digest her."
(362) In the May of this year, Dr. Keene married the only
daughter of Lancelot Andrews, Esq. of Edmonton, formerly an
eminent linendraper in Cheapside, a lady of considerable
(363) Dr. Stephen Hales, author of "Vegetable Statics," and
"Vegetable Essays." This eminent natural philosopher and
vegetable physiologist was offered a canonry of Windsor, but
contented himself with the living of Teddington, which he held
with that of Farringdon. He died in 1761, at the age of
(364) Walpole, in his Memoires, gives the following account of
Lord Waldegrave's appointment: " The Earl accepted it at the
earnest request of the King, and after repeated assurances of
the submission and tractability of Stone. The Earl was averse
to it. He was a man of pleasure, understood the court, was
firm in the King's favour, easy in his circumstances, and at
once undesirous of rising, and afraid to fall. He said to a
friend, "If I dared, I would make this excuse to the King-
-'Sir, I am too young to govern. and too old to be governed:'
but he was forced to submit. A man of stricter honour and of
more reasonable sense could not have been selected for the
employment." Vol. i. p. 255.-E.
155 Letter 70
To Sir Horace Mann.
Arlington Street, Feb. 14, 1753.
I have been going to write to you every post for these three
weeks, and could not bring myself to begin a letter with "I
have nothing to tell YOU." But it grows past a joke; we will
not drop our correspondence because there is no war, no
Politics, no parties, no madness, and no scandal. In the
memory of England there never was so inanimate an age: it is
more fashionable to go to church than to either House of
Parliament. Even the era of the Gunnings is over: both sisters
have lain in, and have scarce made one paragraph in the
newspapers, though their names were grown so renowned, that in
Ireland the beggarwomen bless you with,-,, "the luck of the
Gunnings attend you!"
You will scarce guess how I employ my time; chiefly at present
in the guardianship of embryos and cockleshells. Sir hans
Sloane is dead, and has made me one of the trustees to his
museum, which is to be offered for twenty thousand pounds to
the king, the Parliament, the Royal Academies of Petersburnh,
Berlin, Paris, and Madrid.(365) He valued it at fourscore
thousand; and so would any body who loves hippopotamuses,
sharks with one ear, and spiders as big as geese! It is a
rent-charge, to keep the foetuses in spirits! You may believe
that those who think money the most valuable of all
curiosities, will not be purchasers. The King has excused
himself, saying he did not believe that there were twenty
thousand pounds in the treasury. We are a charming, wise set,
all philosophers, botanists, antiquarians, and mathematicians;
and adjourned our first meeting because Lord Macclesfield, our
chairman, was engaged to a party for finding out the longitude.
One of our number is a Moravian who signs himself Henry XXVIII,
Count de Reus. The Moravians have settled a colony at Chelsea,
in Sir Hans's neighbourhood, and I believe he intended to beg
Count Henry XXVIIIth's skeleton for his museum.
I am almost ashamed to be thanking you but now for a most
entertaining letter of two sheets, dated December 22, but I
seriously had nothing to form an answer. It is but three
mornings ago that your brother was at breakfast with me, and
scolded me, "Why, you tell me nothing!"--"No," says I "if I had
any thing to say, I should write to your brother." I give you
my word, that the first new book that takes, the first murder,
the first revolution, you shall have, with all the
circumstances. In the mean time, do be assured that there
never was so dull a place as London, or so insipid an
inhabitant of it, as, yours, etc.
(365) Ames, in a letter written on the 22d of March to Mr. T.
Martin, says, "I cannot forbear to give you some relation of
Sir Hans Sloane's curiosities. The Parliament has been pleased
to accept them on the condition of Sir Hans's codicil; that is,
that they should be kept together in one place in or near
London, and should be exhibited freely for a public use. The
King, or they, by the will, were to have the first error. The
19th instant being appointed for a committee of the whole
House, after several speeches, the Speaker himself moved the
whole House into a general regard to have them joined with the
King's and Cotton Libraries, together with those of one Major
Edwards, who had left seven thousand pounds to build a library,
besides his own books; and to purchase the Harleian
manuscripts, build a house for their reception," etc. An act
was shortly after passed, empowering the Crown to raise a
sufficient sum by lottery to purchase the Sloane collection and
Harleian manuscripts, together with Montagu House. Such was
the commencement of the British Museum.-E.
157 Letter 71
To Mr. Gray.
Arlington Street, Feb. 20, 1753.
I am very sorry that the haste I made to deliver you from your
uneasiness the first moment after I received your letter,
should have made me express myself in a manner to have the
quite contrary effect from what I intended. You well know how
rapidly and carelessly I always write my letters: the note you
mention was written in a still greater hurry than ordinary, and
merely to put you out of pain. I had not seen Dodsley,
consequently could only tell you that I did not doubt but he
would have no objection to satisfy you, as you was willing to
prevent his being a loser by the plate.(366) Now, from this
declaration, how is it possible for you to have for one momentput
such a construction upon my words, as would have been a
downright stupid brutality, unprovoked? It is impossible for
me to recollect my very expression, but I am confident that I
have repeated the whole substance.
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