The Letters of Horace Walpole, Volume 2
Part 8 out of 16
(518) Afterwards Lord Dacre.
(519) Thomas ninth Lord Dacre. Going, with other young
persons, one night from Herst Monceaux to steal a deer out of
his neighbour, Sir Nicholas Pelham's park (a frolic not unusual
in those days), a fray ensued, and one of the park-keepers
received a blow that caused his death; and although Lord Dacre
was not present on the spot, but in a distant part of the park,
he was nevertheless tried, convicted, and executed, in 1541.
His honours became forfeited, but were restored to his son in
(520) Dr. Charles Lyttelton, brother of Lord Lyttelton. He was
first a barrister-at-law, but in 1712 entered into holy orders,
and in 1762 was consecrated Bishop of Carlisle. He died in
(521) Mr. Muntz, a Swiss painter.
(522) Mr. Smith, the English consul at Venice, had engaged
Canaletti for a certain number of years to paint exclusively
for him, at a fixed price, and sold his pictures at an advanced
price to English travellers.
(523) See ant`e 93, letter 35.-E.
224 Letter 114
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Arlington Street, November 11, 1754.
If you was dead, to be sure you would have got somebody to tell
me so. If you was alive, to be sure in all this time you would
have told me so yourself. It is a month to-day since I
received a line from you. There was a Florentine ambassador
here in Oliver's reign, who with great circumspection wrote to
his court, "Some say the Protector is dead, others say he is
not: for my part, I believe neither one nor t'other." I quote
this sage personage, to show you that I have a good precedent,
in case I had a mind to continue neutral upon the point of your
existence. I can't resolve to believe you dead, lest I should
be forced to write to Mr. S. again to bemoan you; and on the
other hand, it is convenient to me to believe you living,
because I have just received the enclosed from your sister, and
the money from Ely. However, if you are actually dead, be so
good as to order your executor to receive the money, and to
answer your sister's letter. If you are not dead, I can tell
you who is, and at the same time whose death is to remain as
doubtful as yours till to-morrow morning Don't be alarmed! it
is only the Queen-dowager of Prussia. As excessive as the
concern for her is at court, the whole royal family, out of
great consideration for the mercers, lacemen, etc. agreed not
to shed a tear for her till tomorrow morning, when the birthday
will be over; but they are all to rise by six o'clock to-morrow
morning to cry quarts. This is the sum of all the news that I
learnt to-day on coming from Strawberry Hill, except that Lady
Betty Waldegrave was robbed t'other night In Hyde Park, under
the very noses of the lamps and the patrol. If any body is
robbed at the ball at court to-night, you shall hear in my next
despatch. I told you in my last that I had just got two new
volumes of Madame S`evign`e's Letters; but I have been cruelly
disappointed; they are two hundred letters which had been
omitted in the former editions, as having little or nothing
worth reading. How provoking, that they would at last let one
see that she could write so many letters that were not worth
reading! I will tell you the truth: as they are certainly hers,
I am glad to see them, but I cannot bear that any body else
should. Is not that true sentiment? How would you like to see
a letter of hers, describing a wild young Irish lord, a Lord P
* * * *, who has lately made one of our ingenious wagers, to
ride I don't know how many thousand miles in an hour, from
Paris to Fontainebleau? But admire the politesse of that
nation: instead of endeavouring to lame his horse, or to break
his neck, that he might lose the wager, his antagonist and the
spectators showed all the attention in the world to keep the
road clear, and to remove even pebbles out of his way. They
heaped coals of fire upon his head with all the good breeding
of the Gospel. Adieu! If my letters are short, at least my
notes are long.
225 Letter 115
To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, Nov. 16, 1754.
You are over-good to me, my dear Sir, in giving yourself the
trouble of telling me you was content with Strawberry Hill. I
will not, however, tell you, that I am Content with your being
there, till you have seen it in all its greenth and blueth.
Alas! I am sorry I cannot insist upon as much with the Colonel.
Mr. Chute, I believe, was so pleased with the tenebra in his
own chapel, that he has fairly buried himself in it. I have
not even had so much as a burial card from him since.
The town is as full as I believe you thought the room was at
your ball at Waldershare. I hear of nothing but the parts and
merit of Lord North. Nothing has happened yet, but sure so
many English people cannot be assembled long without committing
I have seen and conversed with our old friend Cope; I find him
grown very old; I fear he finds me so too; at least as old as I
ever intend to be. I find him very grave too, which I believe
he does not find me.
Solomon and Hesther, as my Lady Townshend calls Mr. Pitt and
Lady Hester Grenville, espouse one another to-day.(524) I know
nothing more but a new fashion which my Lady Hervey has brought
from Paris. It is a tin funnel covered with green ribbon, and
holds water, which the ladies wear to keep their bouquets
fresh. I fear Lady Caroline and some others will catch
frequent colds and sore throats with overturning this
Apropos, there is a match certainly in agitation, which has
very little of either Solomon or Hesther in it. You will be
sorry when I tell you, that Lord Waldegrave certainly
dis-Solomons himself with the Drax. Adieu! my dear Sir; I
congratulate Miss Montagu on her good health, and am ever
(524) On the ]6th of November, Mr. Pitt married Lady Hester
Grenville, only daughter of Richard Grenville, of Wotton, Esq.,
and of Hester, Countess Temple.-E.
226 Letter 116
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Arlington Street, Nov. 20, 1754.
IF this does not turn out a scolding letter I am much mistaken.
I shall give way to it with the less scruple, as I think it
shall be the last of the kind; not that you will mend, but I
cannot support a commerce of visions! and therefore, whenever
you send me mighty cheap schemes for finding out longitudes and
philosophers' stones, you will excuse me if I only smile, and
don't order them to be examined by my council. For Heaven's
sake, don't be a projector! Is not it provoking, that, with
the best parts in the world, you should have so gentle a
portion of common sense?(525) But I am clear, that you never
will know the two things in the world that import you the most
to know, yourself and me. Thus much by way of preface: now for
You tell me in your letter of November 3d, that the (quarry of
granite might be rented at twenty pounds or twenty shillings, I
don't know which, no matter, per annum. When I can't get a
table out of it, is it very likely you or I should get a
fortune out of it? What signifies the cheapness of the rent?
The cutting and shippage would be articles of some little
consequence! Who should be supervisor? You, who are so good a
manager, so attentive, so diligent, so expeditious, and so
accurate? Don't you think our quarry would turn to account?
Another article, to which I might apply the same questions, is
the project for importation of French wine: it is odd that a
scheme so cheap and so practicable should hitherto have been
totally overlooked. One would think the breed of smugglers was
lost, like the true spaniels, or genuine golden pippins! My
dear Sir, you know I never drink three glasses of my wine-can
you think I care whether, they are sour or sweet, cheap or
dear?--or do you think that I, who am always taking trouble to
reduce my trouble into as compact a volume as I can, would tap
such an article as importing my own wine? But now comes your
last proposal about the Gothic paper. When you made me fix up
mine, unpainted, engaging to paint it yourself, and yet could
never be persuaded to paint a yard of it, till I was forced to
give Bromwich's man God knows what to do it. would you make me
believe that you will paint a room eighteen by fifteen? But,
seriously, if it is possible for you to lay aside visions,
don't be throwing continual discouragements in my way. I have
told you seriously and emphatically that I am labouring your
restoration: the scheme is neither facile nor immediate:-but,
for God's sake! act like a reasonable man. You have a family
to whom you owe serious attention. Don't let me think, that if
you return, you will set out upon every wildgoose chase,
sticking to nothing, and neglecting chiefly the talents and
genius which you have in such excellence, to start projects
which you have too much honesty and too little application ever
to thrive by. This advice is, perhaps, worded harshly: but you
know the heart from which it proceeds, and you know that, with
all my prejudice to it, I can't even pardon your wit, when it
is employed to dress up schemes that I think romantic. The
glasses and Ray's Proverbs you shall have, and some more gold
fish, when I have leisure to go to Strawberry; for you know I
don't suffer any fisheries to be carried on there in my
I am as newsless as in the dead of summer: the Parliament
produces nothing but elections: there has already been one
division- on the Oxfordshire of two hundred and sixty-seven
Whigs to ninety-seven Tories: you may calculate the burial of
that election easily from these numbers.(526) The Queen of
Prussia is not dead, as I told you in my last. If you have
shed many tears for her, you may set them off to the account of
our son-in-law, the Prince of Hesse, who is turned Roman
Catholic. One is in this age so unused to conversions above
the rank of a housemaid turned Methodist, that it occasions as
much surprise as if one had heard that he had been initiated in
the Eleusinian mysteries. Are not you prodigiously alarmed for
the Protestant interest in Germany?
We have operas, burlettas, cargoes of Italian dancers, and none
good but the Mingotti, a very fine figure and actress. I don't
know a single bon-mot that is new: George Selwyn has not waked
yet for the winter. You will believe that, when I tell you,
that t'other night having lost eight hundred pounds at hazard,
he fell asleep upon the table with near half as much more
before him, and slept for three hours, with every body stamping
the box close at his ear. He will say prodigiously good things
when he does wake. In the mean time, can you be content with
one of Madame S`evign`e's best bons-mots, which I have found
amongst her new letters? Do you remember her German friend the
Princess of Tarente, who was always in mourning for some
sovereign prince or princess? One day Madame de S`evign`e
happening to meet her in colours, made her a low curtsey, and
said, "Madame, je me r`ejouis de la sant`e de l'Europe." I
think I may apply another of her speeches which pleased me, to
what I have said t@ you in the former part of my letter.
Mademoiselle du Plessis had said something she disapproved:
Madame S`evign`e said to her, "Mais que cela est sot; car je
veux vous parler doucement." Adieu!
(525) Cumberland, in his Memoirs, speaking of Mr. Bentley,
says, "There was a certain eccentricity and want of worldly
prudence in my uncle's 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.
(526) At the close of the Oxfordshire election the sheriff
returned all the four candidates, who all of them petitioned.
Two were chosen upon what was called the new interest, and were
supported by the court; and two by the old interest. The
expense and animosity which this dispute occasioned is
incredible. Even murder was committed upon the place of
elections The friends of the new interest were ultimately voted
to be the sitting members by a majority of 233 against 103.-E.
228 Letter 117
To Sir Horace Mann.
Strawberry Hill, Dec. 1, 1754
You do me justice, my dear Sir,
when you impute the want of my letters to my want of news: as a
proof, I take up my pen again on the first spring-tide of
politics. However, as this is an age of abortions, and as I
have often announced to you a pregnancy of events, which have
soon after been stillborn, I beg you will not be disappointed
if nothing comes of the present ferment. The offenders and the
offended have too often shown their disposition to soothe, or
to be soothed, by preferments, for one to build much on the
duration or implacability of their aversions. In short, Mr.
Pitt has broke with the Duke of Newcastle, on the want of
power, and has alarmed the dozing House of Commons with some
sentences, extremely in the style of his former Pittics. As
Mr. Fox is not at all more in humour, the world expects every
day to see these two commanders, first unite to overturn all
their antagonists, and then worry One another. They have
already mumbled poor Sir Thomas Robinson cruelly. The
Chancellor of the exchequer(527) crouches under the storm, and
seems very willing to pass eldest. The Attorney-General(528)
seems cowed, and unwilling to support a war, of which the world
gives him the honour.(529) Nugent alone, with an intrepidity
worth his country, affects to stand up against the greatest
orator, and against the best reasoner of the age. What will
most surprise you is, that the Duke of Newcastle, who used to
tremble at shadows, appears unterrified at Gorgons! If I
should tell you in my next, that either of the Gorgons has
kissed hands for secretary of state, only smile: snakes are as
easily tamed as lapdogs.
I am glad you have got my Lord of Cork.(530) He is, I know, a
very worthy man, and though not a bright man, nor a man of the
world, much less a good author, yet it must be comfortable to
you now and then to see something besides travelling children,
booby governors, and abandoned women of quality. You say, you
have made my Lord Cork give up my Lord Bolingbroke: it is
comical to see how he is given up here, since the best of his
writings, his metaphysical divinity, have been published.
While he betrayed and abused every man who trusted him, or who
had forgiven him, or to whom he was obliged, he was a hero, a
patriot, and a philosopher; and the greatest genius of the age:
the moment his Craftsmen against Moses and St. Paul, etc. were
published, we have discovered that he was the worst man and the
worst writer in the world. The grand jury have presented his
works, and as long as there are any parsons, he will be ranked
with Tindal and Toland--nay, I don't know whether my father
won't become a rubric martyr, for having been persecuted by
him. Mr. Fraigneau's story of the late King's design of
removing my father and employing, Bolingbroke, is not new to
me; but I can give you two reasons, and one very strong indeed,
that convince me of its having no foundation, though it is much
believed here. During the last year of the late King's life,
he took extremely to New Park, and loved to shoot there, and
dined with my father and a private party, and a good deal of
punch. The Duchess of Kendal, who hated Sir Robert, and
favoured Bolingbroke, and was jealous for herself, grew uneasy
at these parties, and used to put one or two of the Germans
upon the King to prevent his drinking, (very odd preventives!)-
-however, they obeyed orders so well, that one day the King
flew into a great passion, and reprimanded them in his own
language with extreme warmth; and when he went to Hanover,
ordered my father to have the new lodge in the park finished
against his return; which did not look much like an intention
of breaking with the ranger of the Park. But what I am now
going to tell you is conclusive: the Duchess obtained an
interview for Bolingbroke in the King's closet, which not
succeeding, as lord Bolingbroke foresaw it might not at once,
he left a memorial with the King, who, the very next time he
saw Sir Robert, gave it to him.
You will expect that I should mention the progress of the West
Indian war; but the Parliamentary campaign opening so warmly,
has quite put the Ohio upon an obsolete foot. All I know is,
that the Virginians have disbanded all their troops and say
they will trust to England for their defence. The dissensions
in Ireland increase. At least, here are various and ample
fields for speeches, if we are to have new oppositions. You
will believe that I have not great faith in the prospect, when
I can come quietly hither for two or three days to place the
books in my new library. Mr. Chute is with me, and returns you
all your kind speeches with increase. Your two brothers, who
dine at lord Radnor's, have just been here, and found me
writing to you: your brother Gal. would not stay a moment, but
said, , Tell him I prefer his pleasure to my own." I wish, my
dear Sir, I could give you much more, that is, could tell you
more; but unless our civil wars continue, I shall know nothing
but of contested elections: a first session of a Parliament is
the most laborious scene of dulness that I know. Adieu!
(527) Mr. Legge.
(528) Mr. Murray; he was preferred to be attorney-general this
year, in the room of Sir Dudley Ryder, who was made lord chief
justice, on the death of Sir William Lee.
(529) "At this time," says Lord Waldegrave, "Fox had joined
Pitt in a kind of parliamentary opposition. They were both in
office,--the one paymaster, the other secretary at war,-and
therefore could not decently obstruct the public business; but
still they might attack persons, though not things. Pitt
undertook the difficult task of silencing Murray, the
attorney-general, the ablest man, as well as the ablest
debater, in the House of Commons; whilst Fox entertained
himself with the less dangerous amusement of exposing Sir
Thomas Robinson, or rather assisted him whilst he turned
himself into ridicule; for Sir Thomas, though a good secretary
of state -is far as the business of his office, was ignorant
even of the language of the House of Commons controversy; and
when he played the orator, it was so exceedingly ridiculous,
that those who loved and esteemcd him could not always preserve
a friendly composure of countenance." Memoirs, 1). 31.-E.
(530) John Earl of Orrery and Cork, author of a translation of
Pliny's Epistles, a Life of Dr. Swift, etc.
230 Letter 118
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Arlington Street, Friday, Dec. 13, 1754.
"If we do not make this effort to recover our dignity, we shall
only sit here to register the arbitrary edicts of one too
powerful a subject." Non riconosci tu Faltero viso? Don't you
at once know the style? Shake those words all altogether-, and
see if they can be any thing but the disiecta membra of Pitt?
In short, about a fortnight ago, bomb burst. Pitt, who is
well, is married, is dissatisfied--not With his bride, but with
the Duke of Newcastle; has twice thundered out his
dissatisfaction in Parliament, and was seconded by Fox. The
event was exactly what I dare say you have already foreseen.
Pitt was to be turned out; overtures were made to Fox; Pitt is
not turned out: Fox is quieted with the dignity of
cabinet-counsellor, and the Duke of Newcastle remains
affronted--and omnipotent. The commentary on this text is too
long for a letter; it may be developed some time or other.
This scene has produced a diverting interlude; Sir George
Lyttelton, who could not reconcile his content with Mr. Pitt's
discontents, has been very ill with the cousinhood. In the
grief of his heart, he thought of resigning his place, but
somehow or other stumbled upon a negotiation for introducing
the Duke of Bedford into the ministry again, to balance the
loss of Mr. Pitt. Whatever persuaded him, he thought this
treaty so sure of success that he lost no time to be the agent
of it himself; and whether commissioned or noncommissioned, as
both he and the Duke of Newcastle say, he carried carte
blanche, to the Duke of Bedford, who bounced like a rocket,
frightened away poor Sir George, and sent for Mr. Pitt to
notify the overture. Pitt and the Grenvilles are outrageous;
the Duke of Newcastle disclaims his ambassador, and every body
laughs. Sir George came hither yesterday, to expectorate with
me, as he called it. Think how I pricked up my ears, as high
as King Midas, to hear a Lyttelton vent his grievances against
a Pitt and Grenvilles! Lord Temple has named Sir George the
apostolic nuncio; and George Selwyn says, "that he will
certainly be invited by Miss Ashe among the foreign ministers."
These are greater storms than perhaps you expected yet; they
have occasioned mighty bustle, and whisper, and speculation;
but you see
Pulveris exigui jactu composta quiescunt.
You will be diverted with a collateral incident. * * * * met
Dick Edgecumbe, and asked him with great importance, if he knew
whether Mr. Pitt was out. Edgecumbe, who thinks nothing
important that is not to be decided by dice, and who,
consequently, had never once thought of Pitt's political state,
replied, "Yes." "Ay! how do you know?" "Why, I called at his
door just now, and his porter told me so." Another political
event is, that Lord E. comes into place: he is to succeed Lord
Fitzwalter, who is to have Lord Grantham's pension, -who is
dead immensely rich: I think this is the last of the old
Opposition, of any name, except Sir John Barnard. If you have
curiosity about the Ohio, you must write to ]France: there I
believe they know something about it; here it was totally
forgot till last night, when an express arrived with an account
of the loss of one of the transports off Falmouth, with
eight officers and sixty men on board.
My Lady Townshend has been dying, and was wofully frightened,
and took prayers; but she is recovered now, even of her
repentance. You will not be undiverted to hear that the mob of
Sudbury have literally sent a card to the mob of Bury, to offer
their assistance at a contested election there: I hope to be
able to tell you in my next, that Mrs. Holman(531) has sent
cards to both mobs for her assembly.
The shrubs shall be sent, but you must stay till the holidays;
I shall not have time to go to Strawberry sooner. I have
received your second letter, dated November 22d, about the
Gothic paper. I hope you will by this time have got mine, to
dissuade you from that thought. If you insist upon it, I will
send the paper: I have told you what I think, and will
therefore say no more on that head; but I will transcribe a
passage which I found t'other day in Petronius, and thought not
unapplicable to you: "Omnium herbarum succos Democritus
expressit; et ne lapidum virgultorumque vis lateret, aetatem
inter experimenta consumpsit." I hope Democritus could not
draw charmingly when he threw away his time in extracting tints
from flints and twigs!
I can't conclude my letter without telling you what an escape I
had at the sale of Dr. Mead's library, which goes extremely
dear. In the catalogue I saw Winstanley's views of Audley-inn,
which I concluded was, as it really was, a thin, dirty folio,
worth about fifteen shillings. As I thought it might be
scarce, it might run to two or three guineas. however, I bid
Graham certainly buy it for me. He came the next morning in a
great fright, said he did not know whether he had done very
right or very wrong, that he had gone as far as nine-and-forty
guineas--I started in such a fright! Another bookseller had
luckily had as unlimited a commission, and bid fifty--when my
Graham begged it might be adjourned, till they could consult
their principals. I think I shall never give an unbounded
commission again, even for views of Les Rochers!(532) Adieu!
Am I ever to see any more of your hand-drawing? Adieu! Yours
(531) The lady of whom the anecdote is told p. 65, ant`e,
(532) Madame de S`evign`e's seat in Bretagne.
231 Letter 119
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, Dec. 24, 1754. '
My dear Sir,
I received your packet of December 6th last night, but
intending to come hither for a few days, and unluckily sent
away by the coach in the morning a parcel of things for you;
you must therefore wait till another bundle sets out, for the
new letters of Madame S`evign`e. Heaven forbid that I should
have said they were bad! I only meant that they were full of
family details, and mortal distempers, to which the most
immortal of us are subject: and I was sorry that the profane
should ever know that my divinity was ever troubled with a sore
leg, or the want of money; though, indeed, the latter defeats
Bussy@s ill natured accusation of avarice; and her tearing
herself from her daughter, then at Paris, to go and save money
in Bretagne to pay her debts, is a perfection of virtue which
completes her amiable character. My lady Hervey has made me
most happy, by bringing me from Paris an admirable copy of the
very portrait that was Madame de Simiane's: I am going to build
an altar for it, under the title of Notre Dame des Rochers!
Well! but you will want to know the contents of the parcel that
is set out. It Contains another parcel, which contains I don't
know what; but Mr. Cumberland sent it, and desired I would
transmit it to you. There arc Ray's Proverbs, in two volumes
interleaved; a few seeds, mislaid when I sent the last; a very
indifferent new tragedy, called "Barbarossa,"(533) now running;
the author(534) unknown, but believed to be Garrick himself.
There is not one word of Barbarossa's real story, but almost
the individual history of Merope; not one new thought, and,
which is the next material want, but one line of perfect
"And rain down transports in the shape of sorrow."
To complete it, the manners are so ill observed, that a
Mahometan princess royal is at full liberty to visit her lover
in Newgate, like the banker's daughter in George Barnwell. I
have added four more "Worlds,"(535) the second of which will, I
think, redeem my lord Chesterfield's character with you for
wit, except in the two stories, which are very flat: I mean
those of two misspelt letters. In the last "World,"(536)
besides the hand, you will find a story of your acquaintance:
BoncoEur means Norborne Berkeley, whose horse sinking up to his
middle in Woburn park, he would not allow that it was any thing
more than a little damp. The last story of a highwayman
happened almost literally to Mrs. Cavendish.
For news, I think I have none to tell you. Mr. Pitt is gone to
the Bath, and Mr. Fox to Newcastle House; and every body else
into the country for the holidays. When Lord Bath was told of
the first determination of turning out Pitt, and letting Fox
remain, he said it put him in mind of a story of the gunpowder
plot. The Lord Chamberlain was sent to examine the vaults
under the Parliament-house, and, returning with his report,
said he had found five-and-twenty barrels of gunpowder; that he
had removed ten of them, and hoped the other fifteen would do
no harm. Was ever any thing so well and so just?
The Russian ambassador is to give a masquerade for the birth of
the little great prince;(537) the King lends him Somerset
House: he wanted to borrow the palace over against me, and sent
to ask it of the cardinal-nephew (538) who replied, "Not for
The new madness is Oratorys. Macklin has set up one, under the
title of The British Inquisition;(539) Foote another against
him; and a third man has advertised another to-day. I have not
heard enough in their favour to tempt me to them, nor do I in
the world know enough to compose another paragraph. I am here
quite alone; Mr. Chute is setting out for his Vine; but in a
day or two I expect Mr. Williams,(540) George Selwyn, and Dick
Edgecumbe. You will allow that when I do admit any body within
my cloister, I choose them well. My present occupation is
putting up my books; and thanks to arches and pinnacles, and
pierced columns, I shall not appear scantily provided. Adieu!
(533) The tragedy of "Barbarossa" met with some success,
principally from the advantages it appeared under, by the
performance of Garrick and Mossop, in the parts of Achmet and
Barbarossa. Garrick also supplied the prologue and epilogue,.
It being mentioned to Dr. Johnson, that Garrick assisted the
author in the composition of this tragedy, "No, Sir," said the
Doctor, "Browne would no more suffer Garrick to write a line in
his play than he would suffer him to mount his pulpit."-E.
(534) The author was the ingenious but unhappy Dr. John Browne,
who was also author of the "Essays on Satire," occasioned by
the death of Pope, and the celebrated "Estimate of the Manners
and Principles of the Times." He had the misfortune to labour
under a constitutional dejection of spirits; and in September
1766, in an interval of deprivation of reason, put a period to
his existence, in his fifty-first year.-E.
(535) No. 92, Reflections on the Drinking Club; No. 98, On the
Italian Opera; No. 100, On Dr. Johnson's Dictionary; and No.
101, Humorous Observations on the English Language; by Lord
(536) No. 103, On Politeness; and the Politeness of
(537) The Czar Paul the first.
(538) Henry Earl of Lincoln, nephew to the Duke of Newcastle,
to whose title he succeeded.
(539) The British Inquisition was opened in 1754, by a public
ordinary, where every person was permitted, for three shillings
a-head, to drink port, or claret, or whatever liquor he should
choose. This was succeeded by a lecture on oratory. The plan
did not succeed; for while Macklin was engaged in drilling his
waiters, or fitting himself for the rostrum, his waiters, in
return, were robbing him in all directions; so that, in the
February of this year, he was declared a bankrupt, under the
designation of a vintner.-E.
(540) George James Williams, Esq. son of the eminent lawyer,
William Peere Williams.-E.
233 Letter 120
To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, Jan. 7, 1755.
I imagined by your letter the Colonel was in town, and was
shocked at not having been to wait on him; upon inquiry, I find
he is not; and now, can conceive how he came to tell you, that
the town has been entertained with a paper of mine; I send it
you, to show you that this is one of the many fabulous
histories which have been spread in such quantities, and
I shall take care of your letter to Mr. Bentley. Mr. Chute is
at the Vine, or I know he would, as I do, beg his compliments
to Miss Montagu. You do not wish me joy on the approaching
nuptials of Mr. Harris and our Miss Anne. He is so amorous,
that whenever he sits by her, (and he cannot stand by her,) my
Lady Townshend, by a very happy expression, says, "he is always
setting his dress." Have you heard of a Countess Chamfelt, a
Bohemian, rich and hideous, who is arrived here, and is under
the protection of Lady Caroline Petersham @ She has a great
facility at languages, and has already learned, "D--n you, and
kiss me;" I beg her pardon, I believe she never uses the
former, but upon the miscarriage of the latter: in short, as
Doddington says, she has had the honour of performing at most
courts in Europe. Adieu!
234 letter 121
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Arlington Street, Jan. 9, 1755.
I used to say that one could not go out of London for two days
without finding at one's return that something very
extraordinary had happened; but of late the climate had lost
its propensity to odd accidents. Madness be praised, we are a
little restored to the want of our senses! I have been twice
this Christmas at Strawberry Hill for a few days, and at each
return have been not a little surprised: the last time, at the
very unexpected death of Lord Albemarle,(541) who was taken
ill at Paris, going home from supper, and expired in a few
hours; and last week at the far more extraordinary death of
Montford.(542) He himself, with all his judgment in bets, I
think would have betted any man in England against himself for
self-murder: yet after having been supposed the sharpest
genius of his time, he, by all that appears, shot himself on
the distress of his circumstances; an apoplectic disposition I
believe concurring, either to lower his spirits, or to alarm
them. Ever since Miss * * * * lived with him, either from
liking her himself, as some think, or to tempt her to marry
his lilliputian figure, he has squandered vast sums at Horse-
heath, and in living. He lost twelve hundred a-year by Lord
Albemarle's death, and four by Lord Gage's, the same day. He
asked immediately for the government of Virginia or the
Foxhounds, and pressed for an answer with an eagerness that
surprised the Duke of Newcastle, who never had a notion of
pinning down the relief of his own or any other man's wants to
a day. Yet that seems to have been the case of Montford, who
determined to throw the die of life and death, Tuesday was
Se'nnight, on the answer he was to receive from court; which
did not prove favourable. He consulted indirectly, and at
last pretty directly several people on the easiest method of
finishing life; and seems to have thought that he had been too
explicit; for he invited company to dinner for the day after
his death, and ordered a supper at Whites, where he Supped,
too, the night before. He played at whist till one in the
morning; it was New Year's morning - Lord Robert Bertie drank
to him a happy new year; he clapped his hands strangely to his
eyes! In the morning he had a lawyer and three witnesses, and
executed his will, which he made them read twice over,
paragraph by paragraph: and then asking the lawyer if that
will would stand good, though a man were to shoot himself? and
being assured it would; he said, " Pray stay while I step into
the next room;"=-went into the next room and shot himself. He
clapped the pistol so close to his head, that they heard no
report. The housekeeper heard him fall, and, thinking he had
a fit, ran up with drops, and found his skull and brains shot
about the room You will be charmed with the friendship and
generosity of Sir Francis. Montford a little time since
opened his circumstances to him. Sir Francis said, "Montford,
if it will be of any service to you, you shall see what I have
done for you;" pulled out his will, and read it, where he had
left him a vast legacy. The beauty of this action is
heightened by Sir Francis's life not being worth a year's
purchase. I own I feel for the distress this man must have
felt, before he decided on so desperate an action. I knew him
but little; but he was good-natured and agreeable enough, and
had the most compendious understanding I ever knew. He had
affected a finesse in money matters beyond what he deserved,
and aimed at reducing even natural affections to a kind of
calculations, like Demoivre's. He was asked, soon after his
daughter's marriage, if she was with child: he replied, "upon
my word, I don't know; I have no bet upon it." This and poor
* * * *'s self-murder have brought to light another, which
happening in France, had been sunk; * * * *'s. I can tell you
that the ancient and worshipful company- of lovers are under a
great dilemma, upon a husband and a gamester killing
themselves: I don't know whether they will not apply to
Parliament for an exclusive charter for self-murder.
On the occasion of Montford's story, I heard another more
extraordinary. If a man insures his life, this killing
himself vacates the bargain; This (as in England almost every
thing begets a contradiction) has produced an office for
insuring in spite of self-murder; but not beyond three hundred
pounds. I suppose voluntary deaths were not the bon-ton. of
people in higher life. A man went and insured his life,
securing this privilege of a free-dying Englishman. He
carried the insurers to dine at a tavern, where they met
several other persons. After dinner he said to the
life--and-death brokers, "Gentlemen, it is fit that you should
be acquainted with the company: these honest men are
tradesmen, to whom I was in debt, without any means of paying,
but by your assistance; and now I am your humble servant!" He
pulled out a pistol and shot himself. Did you ever hear of
such a mixture of honesty and knavery?
Lord Rochford is to succeed as groom of the stole. The Duke
of Marlborough is privy-seal, in the room of Lord Gower, who
is dead; and the Duke of Rutland is lord steward. Lord
Albemarle's other offices and honours are still in petto.
When the king first saw this Lord Albemarle, he said, "Your
father had a great many good qualities, but he was a sieve!"-
-It is 'the last receiver into which I should have thought his
Majesty would have poured gold! You will be pleased with the
monarch's politesse. Sir John Bland and Offley made interest
to play at Twelfth-night, and succeeded--not at play, for they
lost 1400 pounds and 1300 pounds. As it is not usual for
people of no higher rank to play, the King thought they would
be bashful about it, and took particular care to do the
honours of his house to them, set only to them, and spoke to
them at his levee next morning.
You love new nostrums and ]Inventions: there is discovered a
method of inoculating the cattle for the distemper-it succeeds
so well that they are not even marked. How we advance rapidly
in discoveries, and in applying every thing to every thing!
Here is another secret, that will better answer your purpose,
and I hope mine too. They found out lately at the Duke of
Argyle's, that any kind of ink may be made of privet: it
becomes green ink by mixing salt of tartar. I don't know the
process; but I am promised it by Campbell, who told me of it
t'other day, when I carried him the true genealogy of the
Bentleys, which he assured me shall be inserted in the next
edition of the Biographia.
There sets out to-morrow morning, by the Southampton wagon,
such a cargo of trees for you, that a detachment of Kentishmen
would be furnished against an invasion if they were to unroll
the bundle. I write to Mr. S * * * * to recommend great care
of them. Observe how I answer your demands: are you as
punctual? The forests in your landscapes do not thrive like
those in' your letters. Here is a letter from G. Montagu; and
then I think I may bid you good-night!
(541) In his "Memoires," Vol. i. p. 366, Walpole says, "He
died suddenly at Paris, where his mistress had sold him to the
French court." A writer in the Quarterly Review, Vol Ixii. p.
5, states that what he here asserts was generally believed in
Paris; for that, in the "M`emoires Secrets," published in
continuation of Bachaumont's Journal, it is said, on occasion
of the Count d'Herouville's death in 1782, that " he had been
talked of for the ministry under Louis XV. and would probably
have obtained it, had it not been for 'son mariage trop
in`egal. Il avait `epous`e la fameuse Lolotte maitresse du
Comte d'Albemarle, l'ambassadeur d'Angleterre, laquelle
servait d'espion au minist`ere de France aupr`es de son amant,
et a touch`e en cons`equence jusqu'`a sa mort une pension de
la cour de 12,000 livres.' But if the French court purchased,
as he reports, and as is sufficiently probable, instructions
of our ambassador, they could have learned from them nothing
to facilitate their own schemes of aggression--nothing but
what they knew before; for the policy of England, defective as
it might be on other points, had this great and paramount
advantage,-that it was open, honest, and straightforward."-E.
(542) Henry Bromley, created Lord Montford of Horse-heath, in
1741. He married Frances, daughter of Thomas Wyndham, Esq.
and sister and heiress of Sir Francis Wyndham, of Trent, in
the county of Somerset.-E.
236 Letter 122
To Sir Horace Mann.
Arlington Street, Jan. 9, 1755.
I had an intention of deferring writing to you, my dear Sir,
till I could wish you joy on the completion of your
approaching dignity:(543) but as the Duke of Newcastle is not
quite so expeditious as my friendship is earnest; and as your
brother tells me that you have had some very unnecessary
qualms, from your silence to me on this chapter, I can no
longer avoid telling you how pleased I am with any accession
of distinction to you and your family; I should like nothing
better but an accession of appointments: but I shall say no
more on this head, where wishes are so barren as mine. Your
brother, who had not time to write by this post, desires me to
tell you that the Duke will be obliged to you, if you will
send him the new map of Rome and of the patrimony of St.
Peter, which his Royal Highness says is just published.
You will have heard long before you receive this, of Lord
Albemarle's(544) sudden death at Paris: every body is so sorry
for him!--without being so: yet as sorry as he would have been
for any body, or as he deserved. Can one really regret a man,
who, with the most meritorious wife(545) and sons(546) in the
world, and with near 15,000 pounds a year from the government,
leaves not a shilling to his family, lawful or illegitimate,
(and both very numerous,) but dies immensely in debt, though,
when he married, he had 90,000 pounds, in the funds, and my
Lady Albemarle brought him 25,000 pounds more, all which is
dissipated to 14,000 pounds! The King very handsomely, and
tired with having done so much for a man who had so little
pretensions to it, immediately gave my Lady Albemarle 1200
pounds a year pension, and I trust will take care of this
Lord, who is a great friend of mine, and what is much better
for him, the first favourite of the Duke. If I were as grave
an historian as my Lord Clarendon, I should now without any
scruple tell you a dream; you would either believe it from my
dignity of character, or conclude from my dignity of character
that I did not believe it myself. As neither of these
important evasions will serve my turn, I shall relate the
following, only prefacing, that I do believe the dream
happened, and happened right among the millions of dreams that
do not hit. Lord Bury was at Windsor with the Duke when the
express of his father's death arrived: he came to town time
enough to find his mother and sisters at breakfast. "Lord!
child," said my Lady Albemarle, "what brings you to town so
early?" He said he had been sent for. Says she "You are not
well!" "Yes," replied Lord Bury, "I am, but a little
flustered with something I have heard." "Let me feel your
pulse," said Lady Albemarle: "Oh!" continued she, "your father
is dead!" "Lord Madam," said Lord Bury, "how could that come
into your head? I should rather have imagined that you would
have thought it was my poor brother William" (who is just gone
to Lisbon for his health). "No," said my Lady Albemarle, "I
know it is your father; I dreamed last night that he was dead,
and came to take leave of me!" and immediately swooned.
Lord Albemarle's places are not yet given away: ambassador at
Paris, I suppose, there will be none; it was merely kept up to
gratify him-besides, when we have no minister we can deliver
no memorials. Lord Rochford is, I quite believe, to be groom
of the stole: that leaves your Turin open--besides such
trifles as a blue garter, the second troop of Guards, and the
government of Virginia.
A death much more extraordinary is that of my Lord Mountford,
who, having all his life aimed at the character of a moneyed
man, and of an artfully money-getting man, has shot himself,
on having ruined himself. If he had despised money, he could
not have shot himself with more deliberate resolution. The
Only points he seems to have considered in so mad an action,
were, not to be thought mad, and which would be the easiest
method of despatching Himself. It is strange that the passage
from life to death should be an object, when One is unhappy
enough to be determined to change one for the other.
I warned you in my last not to wonder if you should hear that
either Mr. Pitt or Mr. Fox had kissed hands for secretary of
state; the latter has kissed the secretary of State's hand for
being a cabinet councillor.(547) The more I see, the more I
am confirmed in my idea of this being the age of abortions.
I have received yours of December 13th, and find myself
obliged to my Lord of Cork for a remembrance of me, which I
could not expect he should have preserved. Lord Huntingdon I
know very well, and like very much: he has parts, great good
breeding, and will certainly make a figure. You are lucky in
such company; yet I wish you had Mr. Brand!
I need not desire you not to believe the stories of such a
mountebank as Taylor:(548) I only wonder that he should think
the names of our family a recommendation at Rome; we are not
conscious of any such merit: nor have any Of our eyes ever
wanted to be put out. Adieu! my dear Sir, my dear Sir Horace.
(543) Mr. Mann was on the ]5th of February created a baronet,
with a reversion to his brother Galfridus.-E.
(544) For an interesting account of this magnificent
spendthrift, see M`emoires de Marmontel.-D.
(545) Lady Anne Lenox, sister of Charles Duke of Richmond.
(546) George Lord Viscount Bury, lord of the bedchamber to the
Duke, and colonel of a regiment; Augustus, captain of a
man-of-war, who was with Lord Anson in his famous expedition;
and William, colonel of the Guards, and aide-de-camp to the
Duke,; the two other sons were very young.
(547) "I proposed an interview between Fox and the Duke of
Newcastle, which produced the following agreement-that Fox
should be called up to the cabinet council; that employments
should be given to some of his friends, who were not yet
provided for; and that others, who had places already, should
be removed to bigger stations. Fox, during the whole
negotiation, behaved like a man of sense and a man of honour;
very frank, very explicit, and not very unreasonable."
(548) A quack oculist. [Generally called the Chevalier Taylor. He
published his travels in 1762; in which he styled himself
"Ophthalmiator Pontifical, Imperial, Royal," etc.]
238 Letter 123
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Arlington Street, Feb. 8, 1755.
My dear sir,
By the wagon on Thursday there set out for Southampton a lady
whom you must call Phillis, but whom George Montagu and the
Gods would name Speckle-belly. Peter begged her for me; that
is, for you; that is, for Captain Dumaresque, after he had
been asked three guineas for another. I hope she will not be
poisoned with salt-water, like the poor Poyangers.(549) If
she should, you will at least observe, that your commissions
are not stillborn with me, as mine are with you. I draw(550)
a spotted dog, the moment you desire it.
George Montagu has intercepted the description I promised you
of the Russian masquerade: he wrote to beg it, and I cannot
transcribe from myself. In a few words, there were all the
beauties, and all the diamonds, and not a few of the uglies of
London. The Duke,(551) like Osman the Third, seemed in the
centre of his new seraglio, and I believe my lady and I
thought that my Lord Anson was the chief eunuch. My Lady
Coventry was dressed in a great style, and looked better than
ever. Lady Betty Spencer, like Rubens's wife (not the common
one with the hat), had all the bloom and bashfulness and
wildness of youth, with all the countenance of all the former
Marlboroughs. Lord Delawar was an excellent mask, from a
picture at Kensington of Queen Elizabeth's porter. Lady
Caroline Petersham, powdered with diamonds and crescents for a
Turkish slave, was still extremely handsome. The hazard was
excessively deep, to the astonishment of some Frenchmen of
quality who are here, and who I believe, from what they saw
that night, will not write to their court to dissuade their
armaments, on its not being worth their while to attack so
beggarly a nation. Our fleet is as little despicable; but
though the preparations on both sides are so great, I believe
the storm will blow over. They insist on our immediately
sending an ambassador to Paris; and to my great satisfaction,
my cousin and friend Lord Hertford is to be the man. This is
still an entire secret here, but will be known before you
receive this. The weather is very bitter, and keeps me from
(549) Mr. Walpole having called his gold-fish pond Poyang,
calls the gold-fish Poyangers.
(550) Alluding to Mr. Bentley's dilatoriness in exercising his
pencil at the request of Mr. Walpole.
(551) William Duke of Cumberland.
239 Letter 124
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Arlington Street, Feb. 23, 1755.
My dear sir,
Your argosie is arrived safe; thank you for shells, trees,
cones; but above all, thank you for the landscape. As it is
your first attempt in oils, and has succeeded so much beyond
my expectation, (and being against my advice too, you may
believe the sincerity of my praises,) I must indulge my
Vasarihood, and write a dissertation upon it. You have united
and mellowed your colours, in a manner to make it look like an
old picture; yet there is something in the tone of it that is
not quite right. Mr. Chute thinks that you should have
exerted more of your force in tipping with light the edges on
which the sun breaks: my own opinion is, that the result of
the whole is not natural, by your having joined a Claude
Lorrain summer sky to a winter sea, which you have drawn from
the life. The water breaks fine] but the distant hills are
too strong, and the outlines much too hard ..The greatest
fault is the trees (not apt to be your stumbling-block): they
are not of a natural green, have no particular resemblance,
and are out of all proportion too large for the figures. Mend
these errors, and work away in oil. I am impatient to see
some Gothic ruins of your painting. This leads me naturally
to thank you for the sweet little cul-de-lampe to the entail
it is equal to any thing you have done in perspective and for
taste but the boy is too large.
For the block of granite I shall certainly think a louis well
bestowed--provided I do but get the block, and that you are
sure it will be equal to the sample you sent me. My room
remains in want of a table; and as it will take so much time
to polish it, I do wish you would be a little expeditious in
I have but frippery news to tell you; no politics; for the
rudiments of a war, that is not to be a war, are not worth
detailing. In short, we have acted with spirit, have
got ready thirty ships of the line, and conclude that the
French will not care to examine whether they are well manned
or not. The House of Commons hears nothing but elections; the
Oxfordshire till seven at night three times a week: we have
passed ten evenings on the Colchester election, and last
Monday sat upon it till near two in the morning. Whoever
stands a contested election, and pays for his seat, and
attends the first session, surely buys the other six very
The great event is the catastrophe of Sir John Bland(552) who
has flirted away his whole fortune at hazard. He t'other
night exceeded what was lost by the late Duke of Bedford,
having at one period of the night (though he recovered the
greatest part of it) lost two-and-thirty thousand pounds. The
citizens put on their double-channeled pumps and trudge to St.
James's Street, in expectation of seeing judgments executed on
White's--angels with flaming swords, and devils flying away
with dice-boxes, like the prints in Sadeler's Hermits. Sir
John lost this immense sum to a Captain * @ * * *, who at
present has nothing but a few debts and his commission.
Garrick has produced a detestable English opera, which is
crowded by all true lovers of their country. To mark the
opposition to Italian operas, it is sung by some cast singers,
two Italians, and a French girl, and the chapel boys; and to
regale us with sense, it is Shakspeare's Midsummer Night's
Dream, which is forty times more nonsensical than the worst
translation of any Italian opera-books. But such sense and
such harmony are irresistible!
I am at present confined with a cold, which I caught by going
to a fire in the middle of the night, and in the middle of the
snow, two days ago. About five in the morning Harry waked me
with a candle in his hand, and cried, "Pray, your honour,
don't be frightened!"--"No, Harry, I am not: but what is it
that I am not to be frightened at?" --"There is a great fire
here in St. James's Street."--I rose, and indeed thought all
St. James's Street was on fire, but it proved in Bury Street.
However, you know I can't resist going to a fire; for it Is
certainly the only horrid sight that is fine. I slipped on my
slippers, and an embroidered suit that hung on the chair, and
ran to Bury Street, and stepped into a pipe that was broken up
for water.--It would have made a picture--the horror of the
flames, the snow, the day breaking with difficulty through so
foul a night, and my figure, party per pale, mud and gold. It
put me in mind of Lady Margaret Herbert's providence, who
asked somebody for a pretty pattern for a nightcap. "Lord!"
said they, "what signifies the pattern for a nightcap?" "Oh!
child," said she, "but you know, in case of fire." There were
two houses burnt, and a poor maid; an officer jumped out of
window, and is much hurt, and two young beauties were conveyed
out the same way in their shifts. there have been two more
great fires. Alderman Belchier's house at Epsom, that
belonged to the Prince, is burnt, and Beckford's fine
house(553) in the country, with pictures and furniture to a
great value. He says, "Oh! I have an odd fifty thousand
pounds in a drawer: I will build it up again: it won't be
above a thousand pounds apiece difference to my thirty
(552) Who shot himself at Kippax Park.-E.
(553) At Fonthill, in Wiltshire. The loss was computed at
thirty thousand pounds.-E.
241 letter 125
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Arlington Street, March 6, 1755.
My dear sir,
I have to thank you for two letters and a picture. I hope my
thanks will have a more prosperous journey than my own letters
have had of late. You say you have received none since
January 9th. I have written three since that. I take care,
in conjunction with the times, to make them harmless enough
for the post. Whatever secrets I may have (and you know I
have no propensity to mystery) will keep very well till I have
the happiness of seeing you, though that date should be
farther off than I hope. As I mean my letters should relieve
some of your anxious or dull minutes, I will tempt no
postmasters or secretaries to retard them. The state of
affairs is much altered since my last epistle that persuaded
you of the distance of a war. So haughty and so ravenous an
answer came from France, that my Lord Hertford does not go.
As a little islander, you may be very easy: Jersey is not prey
for such fleets as are likely to encounter in the channel in
April. You must tremble in your Bigendian capacity, if you
mean to figure as a good citizen. I sympathize with you
extremely in the interruption it will give to our
correspondence. You, in an inactive little spot, cannot wish
more impatiently for every post that has the probability of a
letter, than I, in all the turbulence of London, do
constantly, never-failingly, for letters from you. Yet by my
busy, hurried, amused, irregular way of life, you would not
imagine that I had much time to care for my friends@ You know
how late I used to rise: it is worse and worse: I stay late at
debates and committees; for, with all our tranquillity and my
indifference, I think I am never out of the House of Commons:
from thence, it is the fashion of the winter to go to vast
assemblies, which are followed by vast suppers, and those by
balls. Last week I was from two at noon till ten at night at
the House: I came home, dined, new-dressed myself entirely,
went to a ball at Lord Holderness's, and stayed till five in
the morning. What an abominable young creature! But why may
not I be so! Old Haslang(554) dances at sixty-five; my Lady
Rochford without stays, and her husband the new groom of the
stole, dance. In short, when secretaries of state, cabinet
councillors, foreign ministers, dance like the universal
ballet in the Rehearsal, why should not I--see them? In
short, the true definition of me is, that I am a dancing
senator--Not that I do dance, or do any thing by being a
senator: but I go to balls, and to the House of Commons-to
look on: and you will believe me when I tell you, that I
really think the former the more serious occupation of the
two; at least the performers are most in earnest. What men
say to women, is at least as sincere as what they say to their
country. If perjury can give the devil a right to the souls
of men, he has titles by as many ways as my Lord Huntingdon is
descended from Edward the Third.
(554) Count de Haslang, many years minister from Bavaria to
the British court.-E.
242 Letter 126
To Sir Horace Mann.
Arlington Street, March 10, 1755.
having already wished you joy of your chivalry, I would not
send you a formal congratulation on the actual despatch of
your patent: I had nothing new to tell you: forms between you
and me would be new indeed.
You have heard of the nomination of my friend and relation,
Lord Hertford,(555) to the embassy of Paris: you will by this
time have learned or perceived, that he is not likely to go
thither. They have sent demands too haughty to be admitted,
and we are preparing a fleet to tell them we think so. In
short, the prospect is very warlike. The ministry are so
desirous of avoiding it, that they make no preparations on
land--will that prevent it?--Their partisans d-n the
plantations, and ask if we are to involve ourselves in a war
for them? Will that question weigh with planters and West
Indians? I do not love to put our trust in a fleet only:
however, we do not touch upon the Pretender; the late
rebellion suppressed is a comfortable ingredient, at least, in
a new war. You know I call this the age of abortions: who
knows but the egg of this war may be addled?
Elections, very warm in their progress, very insignificant in
their consequence, very tedious in their attendance, employ
the Parliament solely. The King wants to go abroad, and
consequently to have the Houses prorogued: the Oxfordshire
election says no to him: the war says no to him: the town say
we shall sit till June. Balls, masquerades, and diversions
don't trouble their heads about the Parliament or the war: the
righteous, who hate pleasures and love prophecies, (the most
unpleasant things in the world, except their completion,) are
finding out parallels between London and Nineveh, and other
goodly cities of old, who went to operas and ridottos when the
French were at their gates--yet, if Arlington Street were ten
times more like to the most fashionable street in Tyre or
Sidon, it should not alarm me: I took all my fears out in the
rebellion: I was frightened enough then; I will never have
another panic. I would not indeed be so pedantic as to sit in
St. James's market in an armed chair to receive the French,
because the Roman consuls received the Gauls in the forum.
They shall be in Southwark before I pack up a single
The Duke of Dorset goes no more to Ireland: Lord Hartington is
to be sent thither with the olive branch. Lord Rochford is
groom of the stole; Lord Poulet has resigned the bedchamber on
that preference, and my nephew and Lord Essex are to be lords
of the bedchamber. It is supposed that the Duke of Rutland
will be master of the horse, and the Dorset again lord
steward. But all this will come to you as very antique news,
if a whisper that your brother has heard to-day be true, of
your having taken a trip to Rome. If you are there when you
receive this, pray make my Lady Pomfret's(556) compliments to
the statues in the Capitol, and inform them that she has
purchased her late lord's collection of statues, and presented
them to the University of Oxford. The present Earl, her son,
is grown a speaker in the House of Lords, and makes
comparisons between Julius Caesar and the watchmen of Bristol,
in the same style as he compared himself to Cerberus, who,
when he had one head cut off three others sprang up in its
room. I shall go to-morrow to Dr. Mead's sale, and ruin
myself in bronzes and vases--but I will not give them to the
University of Oxford. Adieu! my dear Sir Knight.
(555) Francis Seymour Conway, Earl of Hertford; his mother was
sister to Lady Walpole.
(556) Henrietta Louisa, Countess-dowager of pomfret, having
quarrelled with her eldest son, who was ruined and forced to
sell the furniture of his seat at Easton Neston, bought his
statues, which had been part of the Arundelian collection, and
had been purchased by his grandfather.
243 Letter 127
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Arlington Street, March 27, 1755.
Your chimney(557) is come, but not to honour: the caryatides
are fine and free, but the rest is heavy: Lord Strafford is
not at all struck with it, and thinks it old-fashioned: it
certainly tastes of Inigo Jones.
Your myrtles I have seen in their pots, and they are
magnificent, but I fear very sickly. In return, I send you a
library. You will receive, some time or other, or the French
for you, the following books: a fourth volume of Dodsley's
Collection Of Poems, the worst tome of the four; three volumes
of Worlds; Fielding's Travels, or rather an account how his
dropsy was treated and teased by an inn-keeper's wife in the
Isle of Wight; the new Letters of Madame de S`evign`e, and
Hume's History of Great Britain; a book which, though more
decried than ever book was, and certainly with faults, I
cannot help liking much. It is called Jacobite, but in my
opinion is only not George-abite: where others abuse the
Stuarts, he laughs at them: I am sure he does not spare their
ministers. Harding,(558) who has the History of England at
the ends of his parliament fingers, says, that the Journals
will contradict most of his facts. If it is so, I am sorry;
for his style, which is the best we have in history, and his
manner imitated from Voltaire, are very pleasing. He has
showed very clearly that we ought to quarrel originally with
Queen Elizabeth's tyranny for most of the errors of Charles
the First. As long as he is Willing to sacrifice some royal
head, I would not much dispute with him which it should be. I
incline every day to lenity, as I see more and more that it is
being very partial to think worse of some men than of others.
If I was a king myself, I dare say I should cease to love a
republic. My Lady Rochford desired me t'other day to give her
a motto for a ruby ring, which had been given by a handsome
woman of quality to a fine man; he gave it to his mistress,
she to Lord * * * * *, he to my lady: who, I think, does not
deny that it has not yet finished its travels. I excused
myself for some time, on the difficulty of reducing such a
history to a poesy--at last I proposed this:
"This was given by woman to man, and by man to woman."
Are you most impatient to hear of a French war, or the event
of the Mitchell election? If the former is uppermost in your
thoughts, I can tell you, you are very unfashionable.' The
Whigs and Tories at Rome, Athens, and Jerusalem never forgot
national points with more zeal, to attend to private faction,
than we have lately. After triumphs repeated in the
committee, Lord Sandwich and Mr. Fox were beaten largely on
the report. It was a most extraordinary day! The Tories, who
could not trust one another for two hours, had their last
consult at the Horn Tavern just before the report, and all but
nine or ten voted in a body (with the Duke of Newcastle)
against agreeing to it: then Sir John Philipps, one of them,
moved for a void election, but was deserted by most of his
clan. We now begin to turn our hands to foreign war. In the
rebellion, the ministry was so unsettled that nobody seemed to
care who was king. Power is now so established that I must do
the engrossers the justice to say, that they seem to be
determined that their own King shall continue so. Our fleet
is great and well manned; we are raising men and money, and
messages have been sent to both houses from St. James's, which
have been answered by very zealous cards. In the mean time,
sturdy mandates are arrived from France; however with a
codicil of moderation, and power to Mirepoix still to treat.
He was told briskly "Your terms must come speedily; the fleets
will sail very quickly; war cannot then be avoided."
I have passed five entire days lately at Dr. Mead's sale,
where, however, I bought very little: as extravagantly as he
paid for every thing, his name has even resold them with
interest. Lord Rockingham gave two hundred and thirty guineas
for the Antinous--the dearest bust that, I believe, was ever
sold; yet the nose and chin were repaired and very ill. Lord
Exeter bought the Homer for one hundred and thirty. I must
tell you a piece of fortune: I supped the first night of the
sale at Bedford-house, and found my Lord Gower dealing at
silver pharaoh to the women. "Oh!" said I laughing, "I laid
out six-and-twenty pounds this morning, I will try if I can
win it back," and threw a shilling upon a card: in five
minutes I won a five-hundred leva, which was twenty-five
pounds eleven shillings. I have formerly won a thousand leva,
and at another five hundred leva. With such luck, shall not I
be able to win you back again?
Last Wednesday I gave a feast in form to the Hertfords. There
was the Duke of Grafton, Lord and Lady Hertford, Mr. Conway,
and Lady Ailesbury; in short, all the Conways in the world, my
Lord Orford, and the Churchills. We dined in the drawing-room
below stairs, amidst the Eagle, Vespasian, etc. You never saw
so Roman a banquet; but withal my virt`u, the bridegroom
seemed the most venerable piece of antiquity. Good night! The
books go to Southampton on Monday. Yours ever.
(557) A design for a chimney-piece, which, at Mr. Walpole's
desire, Mr. Bentley had made for Lord Strafford.
(558) Nicholas Harding, Esq. clerk of the House of Commons.-E.
245 Letter 128
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, April 13, 1755.
If I did not think that you would expect to hear often from me
at so critical a season, I should certainly not write to you
to-night: I am here alone, out of spirits, and not well. In
short, I have depended too much upon my constitution being
"Grass, that escapes the scythe by being low"
and having nothing of the oak in the sturdiness of my stature,
I imagined that my mortality would remain pliant as long as I
pleased. But I have taken so little care of myself this
winter, and kept such bad hours, that I have brought a slow
fever upon my nights, and am worn to a skeleton: Bethel has
plump cheeks to mine. However, as it would be unpleasant to
die just at the beginning of a war, I am taking exercise and
air, and much sleep, and intend to see Troy taken. The
prospect thickens; there are certainly above twelve thousand
men at the Isle of Rh`e; some say twenty thousand. An express
was yesterday despatched to Ireland, where it is supposed the
storm will burst; but unless our fleet can disappoint the
embarkation, I don't see what service the notification can do:
we have quite disgarnished that kingdom of troops; and if they
once land, ten thousand men may walk from one end of the
island to the other. It begins to be thought that the King
will not go abroad; that he cannot, every body has long
thought. You will be entertained with a prophecy which my
Lord Chesterfield has found in the 35th chapter of Ezekiel,
which clearly promises us victory over the French, and
expressly relates to this war, as it mentions the two
countries (Nova Scotia and Acadia) which are the point in
dispute. You will have no difficulty in allowing that
mounseer, is typical enough of France: except Cyrus, who is
the only heathen prince mentioned by his right name, and that
before he had any name, I know no power so expressly
"2. Son of man, set thy face against Mount Seir, and prophecy
against it. 3. And say unto it, Thus saith the Lord God: O
Mount Seir, I am against thee; and I will stretch out mine
hand against thee, and I will make thee most desolate. 4. I
will lay thy cities waste, and thou shalt be desolate, etc.
10. Because thou hast said, These two nations and these two
countries shall be mine, and we will possess it."
I am disposed to put great trust in this prediction; for I
know few things more in our favour. You will ask me
naturally, what is to become of you? Are you to be left to all
the chance of war, the uncertainty of packets, the difficulty
of remittance, the increase of prices?--My dear sir, do you
take me for a prime minister, who acquaints the states that
they are in damned danger, when it is about a day too late? Or
shall I order my chancellor to assure you, that this is
numerically the very day on which it is fit to give such
notification, and that a day sooner or a day later would be
improper?-- But not to trifle politically with you, your
redemption is nearer than you think for, though not complete:
the terms a little depend upon yourself. You must send me an
account, strictly and upon your honour, what your debts are:
as there is no possibility for the present but of compounding
them, I put my friendship upon it, that you answer me
sincerely. Should you, upon the hopes of facilitating your
return, not deal ingenuously with me, which I will not
suspect, it would occasion what I hope will never happen.
Some overtures are going to be made to Miss * * * *, to ward
off impediments from her. In short, though I cannot explain
any of the means, your fortune wears another face; and if you
send me immediately, upon your honour, a faithful account of
what I ask, no time will be lost to labour your return, which
I wish so much, and of which I have said so little lately, as
I have had better hopes of it. Don't joke with me upon this
head, as you sometimes do: be explicit, be open in the most
unbounded manner, and deal like a man of sense with a heart
that deserves that you should have no disguises to it. You
know me and my style: when I engage earnestly as I do in this
business, I can't bear not to be treated in my own way.
Sir Charles Williams is made ambassador to Russia; which
concludes all I know. But at such a period two days may
produce much, and I shall not send away my letter till I am in
town on Tuesday. Good night!
All the officers of the Irish establishment are ordered over
thither immediately: Lord Hartington has offered to go
directly,(559) and sets out with Mr. Conway this day
se'nnight. The journey to Hanover is positive: what if there
should be a crossing-over and figuring-in of kings? I know
who don't think all this very serious; so that, if you have a
mind to be in great spirits, you may quote Lord Hertford. He
went to visit the Duchess of Bedford t'other morning, just
after Lord Anson had been there and told her his opinion. She
asked Lord Hertford what news? He knew none. "Don't you hear
there will be certainly war?" "No, Madam: I saw Mr. Nugent
yesterday, and he did not tell me any thing of it." She
replied, "I have Just seen a man who must know, and who thinks
it unavoidable." "Nay, Madam, perhaps it may: I don't think a
little war would do us any harm." Just as if he had said,
losing a little blood in spring is very wholesome; or that a
little hissing would not do the Mingotti any harm!
I went t'other morning to see the sale of Mr. Pelham's plate,
with George Selwyn--"Lord!" says he, "how many toads have been
eaten off those plates!" Adieu! I flatter myself that this
will be a comfortable letter to you: but I must repeat, that I
expect a very serious answer, and very sober resolutions. If
I treat you like a child, consider you have been so. I know I
am in the right--more delicacy would appear kinder, without
being so kind. As I wish and intend to restore and establish
your happiness, I shall go thoroughly to work. You don't want
an apothecary, but a surgeon--but I shall give you over at
once, if you are either froward or relapse. Yours till then.
(559) As viceroy.
247 Letter 129
To Sir Horace Mann.
Arlington Street, April 22, 1755.
My dear sir,
Your brother and Mr. Chute have just left me in the design of
writing to you; that is, I promised your brother I would, if I
could make out a letter. I have waited these ten days,
expecting to be able to send you a war at least, if not an
invasion. For so long, we have been persuaded that an attempt
would be made on Ireland; we have fetched almost all the
troops from thence; and therefore we have just now ordered all
the officers thither, and the new Lord Lieutenant is going to
see if he has any government left: the old Lord Lieutenant
goes on Sunday to see whether he has any Electorate left.
Your brother says, he hears to-day that the French fleet are
sailed for America: I doubt it; and that the New-Englanders
have been forming a secret expedition, and by this time have
taken Cape Breton again, or something very considerable. I
remember when the former account came of that conquest, I was
stopped in my chariot, and told, "Cape Breton is taken." I
thought the person said "Great Britain is taken." "Oh!" said
I, "I am not at all surprised at that; drive on, coachman."
If you should hear that the Pretender and the Pretend@e have
crossed over and figured in, shall you be much more surprised?
Mr. Chute and I have been motto-hunting(560) for you, but we
have had no sport. The sentence that puns the best upon your
name, and suits the best with your nature, is too old, too
common, and belongs already to the Talbots, Humani nihil
alienum. The motto that punning upon your name suits best
with your public character, is the most heterogeneous to your
private, Homo Homini Lupus--forgive my puns, I hate them; but
it shows how I have been puzzled, and how little I have
succeeded. If I could pity Stosch, it would be for the edict
by which Richcourt incorporates his collection-but when he is
too worthless to be pitied living, can one feel for a hardship
that is not to happen to him till he is dead? How ready 1
should be to quarrel with the Count for such a law, if I was
driving to Louis,(561) at the Palazzo Vecchio!
Adieu! my dear child; I am sensible that this is a very scrap
of a letter; but unless the Kings of England and France will
take more care to supply our correspondence, and not be so
dilatory, is it my fault that I am so concise? Sure, if they
knew how much postage they lost, by not supplying us with
materials for letters, they would not mind flinging away eight
or ten thousand men every fortnight.
(560) It was necessary for him to have a motto to his arms, as
(561) Louis Siriez, a French goldsmith at Florence, who sold
curiosities, and lodged in the old palace at Florence.
248 Letter 130
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Arlington Street, April 24, 1755.
I don't doubt but you will conclude that this letter, written
so soon after my last, comes to notify a great sea-victory, or
defeat; or that the French are landed in Ireland, and have
taken and fortified Cork; that they have been joined by all
the wild Irish, who have proclaimed the Pretender, and are
charmed with the prospect of being governed by a true
descendant of the Mac-na-O's; or that the King of Prussia,
like an unnatural nephew, has seized his uncle and Schutz in a
post-chaise, and obliged them to hear the rehearsal of a
French opera of his own composing--No such thing! If you will
be guessing, you will guess wrong--all I mean to tell you is,
that thirteen gold fish, caparisoned in coats of mail, as rich
as if Mademoiselle Scuderi had invented their armour, embarked
last Friday on a secret expedition; which, as Mr. Weekes(562)
and the wisest politicians of Twickenham concluded, was
designed against the island of Jersey-but to their consummate
mortification, Captain Chevalier is detained by a law-suit,
and the poor Chinese adventurers are
now frying under deck below bridge. In short, if your
governor is to have any gold fish, you must come and manage
their transport yourself. Did you receive my last letter? If
you did, you will not think it impossible that you should
preside at such an embarkation.
The war is quite gone out of fashion, and seems adjourned to
America: though I am disappointed, I am not surprised. You
know my despair about this eventless age! How pleasant to have
lived in times when one could have been sure every week of
being able to write such a paragraph as this!--"We hear that
the Christians who were on their voyage for the recovery of
the Holy Land, have been massacred in Cyprus by the natives,
who were provoked at a rape and murder committed in a church
by some young noblemen belonging to the Nuncio"--; or--
"Private letters from Rome attribute the death of his Holiness
to poison, which they pretend was given to him in the
sacrament, by the Cardinal of St. Cecilia, whose mistress he
had debauched. The same letters add, that this Cardinal
stands the fairest for succeeding to the Papal tiara; though a
natural son of the late Pope is supported by the whole
interest of Arragon and Naples." Well! since neither the Pope
nor the most Christian King, will play the devil, I must
condescend to tell you flippancies of less dignity. There is
a young Frenchman here, called Monsieur Herault. Lady
Harrington carried him and his governor to sup with her and
Miss Ashe at a tavern t'other night. I have long said that the
French were relapsed into barbarity, and quite ignorant of the
world. You shall judge: in the first place, the young man was
bashful: in the next, the governor, so ignorant as not to have
heard of women of fashion carrying men to a tavern, thought it
incumbent upon him to do the honours for his pupil, who was as
modest and as much in a state of nature as the ladies
themselves, and hazarded some familiarities with Lady
Harrington. The consequence was, that the next morning she
sent a card-to both, to desire they would not come to her ball
that evening, to which she had invited them, and to beg the
favour of them never to come into her house again. Adieu! I
am prodigal of my letters, as I hope not to write you many
(562) A carpenter at Twickenham, employed by Mr. Walpole.
250 Letter 131
To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, May 4, as they call it, but the weather andthe
almanack of my feelings affirm it is December.
I will answer your questions as well as I can, though I must
do it shortly, for I write in a sort of hurry. Osborn could
not find Lord Cutts,(563) but I have discovered another, in an
auction, for which I shall bid for you. Mr. Muntz has been at
Strawberry these three weeks, tight at work, so your picture
is little advanced, but as soon as he returns it shall be
finished. I have chosen the marbles for your tomb; but you
told me you had agreed on the price, which your steward now
says I was to settle. Mr. Bentley still waits the conclusion
of the session, before he can come amongst us again. Every
thing has passed with great secrecy: one would think the devil
was afraid of being tried for his life, for he has not even
directed Madame Bentley to the Old Bailey. Mr. Mann does not
mend, but how should he in such weather?
We wait with impatience for news from Minorca. there is a
Prince of Nassau Welbourg, who wants to marry Princess
Caroline of Orange; he is well-looking enough, but a little
too tame to cope with such blood. He is established at the
Duke of Richmond's, with a large train, for two months. He
was last night at a great ball at my Lady Townshend's, whose
Audrey will certainly get Lord George Lenox.(564) George
Selwyn, t'other night, seeing Lady Euston with Lady Petersham,
said, "There's my Lady Euston, and my Lady us'd to't." Adieu!
(563) Sir John, created Lord Cutts of Gowran in 1690,
distinguished himself at the siege of Buda: he accompanied
King William to England, was made a lieutenant-general, and
died without issue in 1707. Sir Richard Steele dedicated to
him his "Christian Hero." Lord Cutts married Mr. Montagu's
grandmother; he was her third husband.-E.
(564) Lord George Lenox married Lady Louisa Ker, daughter of
the Marquis of Lothian. Audrey married Captain Orme.-E.
250 Letter 132
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Arlington Street, May 6, 1755.
My dear sir,
Do you get my letters'! or do I write only for the
entertainment of the clerks of the post-office? I have not
heard from you this month! It will be very unlucky if my last
to you has miscarried, as it required an answer, of importance
to you, and very necessary to my satisfaction.
I told you of Lord Poulet's intended motion. He then
repented, and wrote to my Lady Yarmouth and Mr. Fox to mediate
his pardon. Not contented with his reception, he determined
to renew his intention. Sir Cordell Firebrace(565) took it
up, and intended to move the same address in the Commons, but
was prevented by a sudden adjournment. However, the last day
but one of the session, Lord Poulet read his motion, which was
a speech. My Lord Chesterfield (who of all men living seemed
to have no business to defend the Duke of Newcastle after much
the same sort of ill usage) said the motion was improper, and
moved to adjourn.(566) T'other Earl said, "Then pray, my
Lords, what is to become of my motion?" The House burst out
a-laughing: he divided it, but was single. He then advertised
his papers as lost. Legge, in his punning style, said, "My
Lord Poulet has had a stroke of an apoplexy; he has lost both
his speech and motion." It is now printed; but not having
succeeded in prose, he is turned poet--you may guess how good!
The Duke(567) is at the head of the Regency-you may guess if
we are afraid! -Both fleets are sailed. The night the King
went, there was a magnificent ball and supper at Bedford
House. The Duke was there: he was playing at hazard with a
great heap of gold before him; somebody said, he looked like
the prodigal son and the fatted calf both. In the dessert was
a model of Walton Bridge in glass. Yesterday I gave a great
breakfast at Strawberry Hill to the Bedford court. There were
the Duke and Duchess, Lord Tavistock and Lady Caroline, my
Lord and Lady Gower, Lady Caroline Egerton, Lady Betty
Waldegrave, Lady Mary Coke, Mrs. Pitt,(568) Mr. Churchill and
Lady Mary, Mr. Bap. Leveson,(569) and Colonel Sebright. The
first thing I asked Harry was, "Does the sun shine?" It did;
and Strawberry was all gold, and all green. I am not apt to
think people really like it, that is, understand it--, but I
think the flattery of yesterday was sincere; I judge by the
notice the Duchess took of your drawings. Oh! how you will
think the shades of Strawberry extended! Do you observe the
tone of satisfaction with which I say this, as thinking it
near? Mrs. Pitt brought her French horns: we placed them in
the corner of the wood, and it was delightful. Poyang has
great custom: I have lately given Count Perron some gold fish,
which he has carried in his post-chaise to Turin: he has
already carried some before. The Russian minister has asked
me for some too, but I doubt their succeeding there; unless,
according to the universality of my system, every thing is to
be found out at last, and practised every where.
I have got a new book that will divert you, called Anecdotes
Litteraires: it is a collection of stories and bons-mots of
all the French writers; but so many of their bons-mots are
impertinences, follies, and vanities, that I have blotted out
the title, and written Mis`eres des S`cavants. It is a
triumph for the ignorant. Gray says, very justly, that
learning never should be encouraged, it only draws out fools
from their obscurity; and you know I have always thought a
running footman as meritorious a being as a learned man. Why
is there more merit in having travelled one's eyes over so
many reams of paper than in having carried one's legs over so
many acres of ground? Adieu, my dear Sir! Pray don't be taken
prisoner to France, just when you are expected at Strawberry!
(565) Member for the county of Suffolk. He died in 1759.-E.
(566) "It was," writes Lord Chesterfield to Mr. Dayrolles, on
the 2d of May, "an indecent, ungenerous, and malignant
question, which I had no mind should either be put or debated,
well knowing the absurd and improper things that would be said
both for and against it, and therefore I moved for the House
to adjourn. As you will imagine that this was agreeable to
the King, it is supposed that I did it to make my court, and
people are impatient to see what great employment I am to
have; for that I am to have one, they do not in the least
doubt, not having any notion that any man can take any step
without some view of dirty interest. I do not undeceive them.
I have nothing to fear; I have nothing to ask; and there is
nothing that I can or will have."-E.
(567) The Duke of Cumberland.
(568) Wife@, of George Pitt of Strathfieldsaye, and daughter
of Sir Henry Atkins.-E.
(569) The Honourable Baptist Leveson, youngest son of the
first Lord Gower.
252 Letter 133
To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, May 13, 1755.
It is very satisfactory to me, to hear that Miss Montagu was
pleased with the day she passed at Strawberry Hill; but does
not it silently reproach you, who will never see it but in
winter? Does she not assure you that there are leaves, and
flowers, and verdure? And why will you not believe that with
those additions it might look pretty, and might make you some
small amends for a day or two purloined from Greatworth? I
wish you would visit it when in its beauty, and while it is
mine! You will not, I flatter Myself, like it so well when it
belongs to the Intendant of Twickenham, when a cockle-shell
walk is made across the lawn, and every thing without doors is
made regular, and every thing riant and modern;--for this must
be its fate! Whether its next master is already on board the
Brest fleet, I do not pretend to say; but I scarce think it
worth my while to dispose of it' by my will, as I have some
apprehensions of living to see it granted away de par le Roy.
My lady Hervey dined there yesterday with the Rochfords. I
told her, that as she is just going to France, I was unwilling
to let her see it, for if she should like it, she would desire
Mademoiselle with whom she lives, to beg it for her. Adieu!
252 Letter 134
To George Montagu, Esq.
It is on the stroke of eleven, and I have but time to tell
you, that the King of Prussia has gained the greatest
victory(570) that ever was, except the Archangel Michael's-
-King Frederick has only demolished the dragoness. He
attacked her army in a strong camp on the 6th; suffered in the
beginning of the action much, but took it, with all the tents,
baggage, etc. etc two hundred and fifty pieces of cannon, six
thousand prisoners, and they say, Prague since. The Austrians
have not stopped yet; if you see any man scamper by your house
you may venture to lay hold on him, though he should be a
Pandour. Marshal Schwerin was killed. Good night!
(570) On the banks of the Moldaw near Prague.
253 Letter 135
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, June 10, 1755.
Mr. Muntz(571) is arrived. I am sorry I can by no means give
any commendation to the hasty step you took about him. Ten
guineas were a great deal too much to advance to him, and must
raise expectations in him that will not at all answer. You
have entered into no written engagement with him, nor even
sent me his receipt for the money. My good Sir, is this the
sample you give me of the prudence and providence you have
learned? I don't love to enter into the particulars of my own
affairs; I will only tell you in one word, that they require
great management. My endeavours are all employed to serve
you; don't, I beg, give me reasons to apprehend that they will
be thrown away. It is much in obscurity, whether I shall be
able to accomplish your re-establishment; but I shall go on
with great discouragement, if I cannot promise myself that you
will be a very different person after your return. I shall
never have it in my power to do twice what I am now doing for
you; and I choose to say the worst beforehand, rather than to
reprove you for indolence and thoughtlessness hereafter, when
it may be too late. Excuse my being so serious, but I find it
You are not displeased with me, I know, even when I pout: you
see I am not quite in good-humour with you, and I don't
disguise it; but I have done scolding you for this time.
Indeed, I might as well continue it; for I have nothing else
to talk of but Strawberry, and of that subject you must be
well wearied. I believe she alluded to my disposition to
pout, rather than meant to compliment me, when my Lady
Townshend said to somebody t'other day, who told her how well
Mrs. Leneve was, and in spirits, "Oh! she must be in spirits:
why, she lives with Mr. Walpole, who is spirit of hartshorn!"
Princess Emily has been here:--Liked it?--Oh no!--I don't
wonder; I never liked St. James'-,. She was so inquisitive
and so curious in prying into the very offices and servants'
rooms, that her Captain Bateman was sensible of it, and begged
Catherine not to mention it. he addressed himself well, if he
hoped to meet with taciturnity! Catherine immediately ran
down to the pond, and whispered to all the reeds, "Lord! that
a princess should be such a gossip!" In short, Strawberry
Hill is the puppet-show of the times.
I have lately bought two more portraits of personages in
Grammont, Harry Jermyn(572) and Chiffinch:(573) my Arlington
Street is so full of portraits, that I shall scarce find room
for Mr. Muntz's works.
I was prevented from finishing my letter yesterday, by what do
you think? By no less magnificent a circumstance than a
deluge. We have had an extraordinary drought, no grass, no
leaves. no flowers; not a white rose for the festival of
yesterday! About four arrived such a flood, that we could not
see out of the windows: the whole lawn was a lake, though
situated on so high an Ararat: presently it broke through the
leads, drowned the pretty blue bedchamber, passed through
ceilings and floors into the little parlour, terrified Harry,
and opened all Catherine's water-gates and speech-gates. I
had but just time to collect two dogs, a couple of sheep, a
pair of bantams, and a brace of gold fish; for, in the haste
of my zeal to imitate my ancestor Noah, I forgot that fish
would not easily be drowned. In short, if you chance to spy a
little ark with pinnacles sailing towards Jersey, open the
skylight, and you will find some of your acquaintance. You
never saw such desolation! A pigeon brings word that Mabland
has fared still worse: it never came into my head before, that
a rainbow-office for insuring against water might be very
necessary. This is a true account of the late deluge.
Witness our hands
Catherine Noah, her mark.
Peter Ham, etc.
I was going to seal my letter, and thought I should scarce
have any thing more important to tell you than the history of
the flood, when a most extraordinary piece of news indeed
arrived--nothing less than a new gunpowder plot-last Monday
was to be the fatal day. There was a ball at Kew--Vanneschi
and his son, directors of the Opera, two English lords, and
two Scotch lords, are in confinement at Justice Fielding's.
This is exactly all I know of the matter; and this -weighty
intelligence is brought by the waterman from my housemaid in
Arlington Street, who sent Harry word that the town is in an
uproar; and to confirm it, the waterman says he heard the same
thing at Hungerford-stairs. I took the liberty to represent
to Harry, that the ball at Kew was this day se'nnight for the
Prince's birthday; that, as the Duke was at it, I imagined the
Scotch lords would rather have chosen that day for the
execution of their tragedy; that I believe Vanneschi's son was
a child; and that peers are generally confined at the Tower,
not at Justice Fielding's; besides, that we are much nearer to
Kew than Hungerford-stairs are but Harry, who has not at all
recovered the deluge, is extremely disposed to think Vanneschi
very like Guy Fawkes; and is so persuaded that so dreadful a
story could not be invented, that I have been forced to
believe it too: and in the course of our reasoning and
guessing, I told him, that though I could not fix upon all
four, I was persuaded that the late Lord Lovat who was
beheaded must be one of the Scotch peers, and Lord Anson's son
who is not begot, one of the English. I was afraid he would
think I treated so serious a business too ludicrously, if I
had hinted at the scene of distressed friendship that would be
occasioned by Lord Hardwicke's examining his intimate
Vanneschi. Adieu! my dear Sir. Mr. Fox and Lady Caroline,
and Lord and Lady Kildare, are to dine here to-day; and if
they tell Harry or me any more of the plot you shall know it.
Well, now for the plot: thus much is true. A laundry-maid of
the Duchess of Marlborough, passing by the Cocoa-tree, saw two
gentlemen go in there, one of whom dropped a letter; it was
directed to you. She opened it. It was very obscure, talked
of designs at Kew miscarried, of new methods to be taken; and
as this way of correspondence had been repeated too often,
another must be followed: and it told you that the next letter
to him should be in a band-box at such a house in the
Haymarket. The Duchess concluded it related to a gang of
street-robbers, and sent it to Fielding. He sent to the house
named, and did find a box and a letter, which, though obscure
had treason enough in it. It talked of a design at Kew
miscarried; that the Opera was now the only place, and
consequently the scheme must be deferred till next season,
especially as a Certain person is abroad. For the other great
person (the Duke), they are sure of him at any time. There
was some indirect mention, too, of gunpowder. Vanneschi and
others have been apprehended; but a conclusion was made, that
it was a malicious design against the lord high treasurer of
the Opera and his administration, and so they have been
dismissed. Macnamara,(575) I suppose you Jerseyans know, is
returned with his fleet to Brest, leaving the transports
sailing to America. Lord Thanet and Mr. Stanley are just gone
to Paris, I believe to inquire after the war.
The weather has been very bad for showing Strawberry to the
Kildares; we have not been able to stir out of doors; but, to
make me amends, I have discovered that Lady Kildare is a true
S`evignist. You know what pleasure I have in any increase of
our sect; I thought she grew handsomer than ever as she talked
with devotion of Notre Dame des Rochers. Adieu! my dear Sir.
P. S. Tell me if you receive this; for in these gunpowder
times, to be sure, the clerks of the post-office are
(571) Mr. Walpole had invited Mr. muntz from Jersey, and he
lived for some time at Strawberry Hill.
(572) Youngest son of Thomas, elder brother of the Earl of St.
Albans. He was created Baron Dover in 1685, and died without
issue in 1708.-E.
(573) One of Charles the Second's confidential pages.-E.
(574) The Pretender's birthday.
(576) The French admiral.
256 Letter 136
To Sir Horace Mann.
Strawberry Hill, June 15, 1755.
My dear sir,
I have received your two letters relating to the
Countess,(577) and wish you joy, since she will establish
herself at Florence, that you are so well with her; but I
could not help smiling at the goodness of your heart and your
zeal for us: the moment she spared us, you gave t`ete baiss`ee
into all her histories against Mr. Shirley: his friends say,
that there was a little slight-of-hand in her securing the
absolute possession of her own fortune; it was very prudent,
at least, if not quite sentimental. You should be at least as
little the dupe of her affection for her son; the only proof
of fondness she has ever given for him, has been expressing
great concern at his wanting taste for Greek and Latin.
Indeed, he has not much encouraged maternal yearnings in her:
I should have thought him shocked at the chronicle of her life
if he ever felt any impressions. But to speak freely to you,
my dear Sir, he is the most particular young man I ever saw.
No man ever felt such a disposition to love another as I did
to love him: I flattered myself that he would restore some
lustre to our house; at least, not let it totally sink; but I
am forced to give him up, and all my Walpole-views. I will
describe him to you, if I can, but don't let it pass your
lips. His figure is charming; he has more of the easy,
genuine air of a man of quality than ever you saw: though he
has a little hesitation in his speech, his address and manner
are the most engaging imaginable: he has a good-breeding and
attention when he is with you that is even flattering; you
think he not only means to please, but designs to do every
thing that shall please you; he promises, offers every thing
one can wish--but this is all; the instant he leaves you, you,
all the world, are nothing to him--he would not give himself
the least trouble in the world to give any body the greatest
satisfaction; yet this is mere indolence of mind, not of
body-his whole pleasure is outrageous exercise. Every thing
he promises to please you, is to cheat the present moment and
hush any complaint-I mean of words; letters he never answers,
not of business, not of his own business: engagements Of no
sort he ever keeps. He is the most selfish man in the world,
without being the least interested: he loves nobody but
himself, yet neglects every view of fortune and ambition. He
has not Only always slighted his mother, but was scarce decent
to his rich old grandmother, when she had not a year to live,
and courted him to receive her favours. You will ask me what
passions he has--none but of parade; he drinks without
inclination-makes love without inclination--games without
attention; is immeasurably obstinate, yet, like obstinate
people, governed as a child. In short, it is impossible not
to love him when one sees him; impossible to esteem him when
one thinks on him!
Mr. Chute has found you a very pretty motto: it alludes to the
goats in your arms, and not a little to you; per ardua
stabiles. All your friends approve it, and it is actually
engraving. You are not all more in the dark about the war
than we are even here: Macnamara has been returned some time
to Brest with his fleet, having left the transports to be
swallowed up by Boscawen, as we do not doubt but they will be.
Great armaments continue to be making in all the ports of
England and France, and, as we expect next month accounts of
great attempts made by our colonies, we think war unavoidable,
notwithstanding both nations are averse to it. The French
have certainly overshot themselves; we took it upon a higher
style than they expected, or than has been our custom. The
spirit and expedition with which we have equipped so
magnificent a navy has surprised them, and does exceeding
honour to my Lord Anson, who has breathed new life into our
affairs. The minister himself has retained little or none of
his brother's and of his own pusillanimity; and as the
Duke(578) is got into the Regency, you may imagine our
land-spirit will not be unquickened neither. This is our
situation; actual news there is none. All we hear from France
is, that a new-madness reigns there, as strong as that of
Pantins was. This is la fureur des cabriolets; singlic`e,
one-horse chairs, a mode introduced by Mr. Child:(579) they
not only universally go in them, but wear them; that is, every
thing is to be en cabriolet; the men paint them on their
waistcoats, and have them embroidered for clocks to their
stockings; and the women, who have gone all the winter without
any thing on their heads, are now muffled up in great caps
with round sides, in the form of, and scarce less than the
wheels of chaises! Adieu! my dear Sir.
(577) The Countess of Orford.
(578) The Duke of Cumberland.
(579) Josiah Child, brother of the Earl of Tilney.
257 Letter 137
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