The Letters of Horace Walpole, Volume 2
Part 9 out of 16
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, July 5, 1755.
You vex me exceedingly. I beg, if it is not too late, that
you would not send me these two new quarries of granite; I had
rather pay the original price and leave them where they are,
than be encumbered with them. My house is already a
stone-cutter's shop, nor do I know what to do with what I have
got. But this is not what vexes me, but your desiring me to
traffic with Carter, and showing me that you are still open to
any visionary project! Do you think I can turn broker and
factor, and- I don't know what? And at your time of life, do
you expect to make a fortune by becoming a granite-merchant?
There must be great demand for a commodity that costs a guinea
a foot, and a month an inch to polish! You send me no
drawings, for which you know I should thank you infinitely,
and are hunting for every thing that I would thank you for
letting alone. In short, my dear Sir, I am determined never
to be a projector, nor to deal with projects. If you still
pursue them, I must beg you will not only not employ me in
them, but not even let me know that you employ any body else.
If you will not be content with my plain, rational way of
serving you, I can do no better, nor can I joke upon it. I
can combat any difficulties for your service but those of your
own raising. Not to talk any more crossly, and to prevent, if
I can, for the future, any more of these expostulations, I
must tell you plainly, that with regard to my own
circumstances. I generally drive to a penny, and have no
money to spare for visions. I do and am doing all I can for
you; and let me desire you once for all, not to send me any
more persons or things without asking my consent, and stay
till you receive it. I cannot help adding to the chapter of
complaint* * * *
These, my dear Sir, are the imprudent difficulties you draw me
into, and which almost discourage me from proceeding in your
business. If you anticipate your revenue, even while in
Jersey, and build castles in the air before you have repassed
the sea, can I expect that you will be a better economist
either of your fortune or your prudence here? I beg you will
preserve this letter, ungracious as it is, because I hope it
will serve to prevent my writing any more such.
Now to Mr. Muntz;-Hitherto he answers all you promised and
vowed for him: he is very modest, humble, and reasonable; and
has seen so much and knows so much, of countries and languages
that I am not likely to be soon tired of him. His drawings
are very pretty: he has done two views of Strawberry that
please me extremely; his landscape and trees are much better
than I expected. His next work is to be a large picture from
your Mr. bland for Mr. Chute, who is much content with him: he
goes to the Vine in a fortnight or three weeks. We came from
thence the day before yesterday. I have drawn up an
inventionary of all I propose he should do there; the
computation goes a little beyond five thousand pounds; but he
does not go half so fast as my impatience demands: he is so
reasonable, and will think of dying, and of the gout, and of
twenty disagreeable things that one must do and have, that he
takes no joy in planting and future views, but distresses all
my rapidity of schemes. last week we were at my sister's at
Chaffont in Buckinghamshire, to see what we could make of it;
but it wants so much of every thing, and would require so much
more than an inventionary of five thousand pounds, that we
decided nothing, except that Mr. Chute has designed the
prettiest house in the world for them. We Went to See the
objects of the neighbourhood, Bolstrode and Latimers. The
former is a melancholy monument of Dutch magnificence: however
there is a brave gallery of old pictures, and a chapel with
two fine windows in modern painted glass. The ceiling was
formerly decorated with the assumption, or rather presumption,
of Chancellor Jeffries, to whom it belonged; but a very
judicious fire hurried him somewhere else; Latimers belongs to
Mrs. Cavendish. I have lived there formerly with Mr. Conway,
but it is much improved since; yet the river stops short at an
hundred yards just under your eye, and the house has undergone
Batty Langley discipline: half the ornaments are of his
bastard Gothic, and half of Hallet's mongrel Chinese. I want
to write over the doors of most modern edifices, "Repaired and
beautified; Langley and Hallet churchwardens." The great
dining-room is hung with the paper of my staircase, but not
shaded properly like mine. I was much more charmed lately at
a visit I made to the Cardigans at Blackheath. Would you
believe that I had never been in Greenwich Park? I never had,
and am transported! Even the glories of Richmond and
Twickenham hide their diminished rays. Yet nothing is equal
to the fashion of this village: Mr. Muntz says we have more
coaches than there are in half France. Mrs. Pritchard has
bought Ragman's Castle, for which my Lord Litchfield could not
agree. We shall be as celebrated as Baiae or Tivoli; and, if
we have not such sonorous names as they boast, we have very
famous people: Clive and Pritchard, actresses; Scott and
Hudson, painters; my Lady Suffolk, famous in her time; Mr. H *
* *, the impudent lawyer, that Tom Hervey wrote against;
Whitehead, the poet--and Cambridge, the every thing. Adieu!
my dear Sir--I know not one syllable of news.
259 Letter 138
To Sir Horace Mann.
Strawberry Hill, July 16, 1755.
Our correspondence will revive: the war is begun. I cannot
refer you to the Gazette, for it is so prudent and so afraid
that Europe should say we began first, (and unless the Gazette
tell, how should Europe know?) that it tells nothing at all.
The case was; Captain Howe and Captain Andrews lay in a great
fog that lasted near fifty hours within speech of three French
ships and within sight of nine more. The commandant asked if
it was war or peace? Howe replied he must wait for his
admiral's signal, but advised the Frenchman to prepare for
war. Immediately Boscawen gave the signal, and Howe attacked.
The French, who lost one hundred and thirty men to our
thirteen, soon struck; we took one large ship, one
inconsiderable, and seven thousand pounds: the third ship
escaped in the fog. Boscawen detained the express ten days in
hopes of more success; but the rest of our new enemies are all
got safe into the river of Louisbourg. This is a great
disappointment! We expect a declaration of war with the first
fair wind. Make the most of your friendship with Count
lorenzi,(580) while you may.
I have received the cargo of letters and give you many thanks;
but have not seen Mr. Brand; having been in the country while
he was in town.
Your brother has received and sent you a dozen double prints
of my eagle, which I have had engraved. I could not expect
that any drawing could give you a full idea of the noble
spirit of the head, or of the masterly tumble of the feathers:
but I think Upon the whole the plates are not ill done. Let
me beg Dr. Cocchi to accept one of each plate; the rest, my
dear Sir, you will give away as you please.
Mr. Chute is such an idle wretch, that you will not wonder I
am his secretary for a commission. At the Vine is the most
heavenly chapel(581) in the world; it only wants a few
pictures to give it a true Catholic air-we are so conscious of
the goodness of our Protestantism, that we do not care how
things look. If you can pick us up a tolerable Last Supper,
or can have one copied tolerably and very cheap, we will say
many a mass for the repose of your headaches. The dimensions
are, three feet eleven inches and three quarters by two feet
eight inches and a half high. Take notice of two essential
ingredients; it must be cheap, and the colouring must b very
light, for it will hang directly under the window.
I beg YOU Will nurse yourself up to great strength; consider w
what German generals and English commodores you are again
going to have to govern! On my side, not a Pretender
shall land, nor rebellion be committed, but you shall have
timely notice. Adieu!
(580) A Florentine, but minister of France to the Great Duke.
(581) At Mr. Chute's seat of the Vine, in Hampshire, is a
chapel built by Lord Sandys of the Vine, lord chamberlain to
Henry VIII. In the painted glass windows, which were taken at
Boulogne in that reign, are portraits of Francis 1. his Queen,
260 Letter 139
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, July 17, 1755.
To be sure, war is a dreadful calamity, etc.! But then it is a
very comfortable commodity for writing letters and writing
history; and as one did not contribute to make it, why there
is no harm in being a little amused with looking on; and if
one can but keep the Pretender on t'other side Derby, and keep
Arlington Street and Strawberry Hill from being carried to
Paris, I know nobody that would do more to promote peace, or
that will bear the want of it, with a better grace than
myself. If I don't send you an actual declaration of war in
this letter, at least you perceive I am the harbinger of it.
An account arrived yesterday morning that Boscawen had missed
the French fleet, who are got into Cape Breton; but two of his
captains(582) attacked three of their squadron and have taken
two, with scarce any loss. This is the third time one of the
French captains has been taken by Boscawen.
Mr. Conway is arrived from Ireland, where the triumphant party
are what parties in that situation generally are, unreasonable
and presumptuous. They will come into no terms without a
stipulation that the Primate(583) shall not be in the Regency.
This is a bitter pill to digest, but must not it be swallowed?
Have we heads to manage a French war and an Irish civil war
There are little domestic news. If you insist upon some, why,
I believe I could persuade somebody or other to hang
themselves; but that is scarce an article uncommon enough to
send cross the sea. For example, the rich * * * * whose
brother died of the smallpox a year ago, and left him four
hundred thousand Pounds, had a fit of the gout last week, and
shot himself. I only begin to be afraid that it should grow
as necessary to shoot one's self here, as it is to go into the
army in France. Sir Robert Browne has lost his last daughter,
to whom he could have given eight thousand pounds a-year.
When I tell these riches and n)adnesses to Mr. Muntz, he
stares so, that I sometimes fear he thinks I mean to impose on
him. It is cruel to a person who collects the follies of the
age for the information of posterity to have one's veracity
doubted; it is the truth of them that makes them worth notice.
Charles Townshend marries the great dowager Dalkeith;(583 his
parts and presumption are prodigious. He wanted nothing but
independence to let him loose: I propose great entertainment
from him; and now, perhaps, the times will admit it. There
may be such things again as parties--odd evolutions happen.
The ballad I am going to transcribe for you is a very good
comment on so commonplace a text. My Lord Bath, who was
brought hither by my Lady Hervey's and Billy Bristow's reports
of the charms of the place, has made the following stanzas, to
the old tune which you remember of Rowe's ballad on
Doddington's Mrs. Strawbridge:--
"Some talk of Gunnersbury,
For Sion some declare;
And some say that with Chiswick-house
No villa can compare;
But all the beaux of Middlesex,
Who know the country well,
Say, that Strawberry Hill, that Strawberry
Doth bear away the bell.
Though Surry boasts its Oatlands,
And Claremont kept so jim;
And though they talk of Southcote's,
'Tis but a dainty whim;
For ask the gallant Bristow,
Who does in taste excel,
If Strawberry Hill, if Strawberry
Don't bear away the bell."
Can there be an odder revolution of things, than that the
printer of the Craftsman(585) should live in a house of mine,
and that the author of the Craftsman should write a panegyric
on a house of mine?
I dined yesterday at Wanstead many years have passed since I
saw it. The disposition of the house and the prospect are
better than I expected, and very fine: the garden, which they
tell you cost as much as the house, that is, 100,000 pounds
(don't tell Mr. Muntz) is wretched; the furniture fine, but
totally without taste: such continences and incontinences of
Scipio and Alexander by I don't know whom! such flame-coloured
gods and goddesses, by Kent! such family-pieces, by--I believe
the late Earl himself, for they are as ugly as the children he
really begot! The whole great apartment is of oak, finally
carved, unpainted and has a charming effect(586) The present
Earl is the most generous creature in the world: in the first
chamber I entered he offered me four marble tables that lay in
cases about the room: I compounded, after forty refusals of
every thing I commended, to bring away only a haunch of
venison: I believe he has not had so cheap a visit a good
while. I commend myself, as I ought: for, to be sure, there
were twenty ebony chairs, and a couch, and a table, and a
glass, that would have tried the virtue of a philosopher of
double my size! After dinner we dragged a gold-fish pond(587)
for my lady Fitzroy and Lord S@ I could not help telling my
Lord Tilney, that they would certainly burn the poor fish for
the gold, like the old lace. There arrived a Marquis St.
Simon, from Paris, who understands English, and who has seen
your book of designs for Gray's Odes: he was much pleased at
meeting me, to whom the individual cat(588) belonged, and you
may judge whether I was pleased with him. Adieu! my dear Sir.
(582) The two captains were the Honourable Captain Richard
Howe of the Dunkirk, and Captain Andrews of the Defiance, who,
on the 10th of June, off Cape Race, the southernmost part of
Newfoundland, fell in with three men-of war, part of the
French fleet, Commanded by M. Bois de la Motte; and, after a
very severe engagement of five Hours, succeeded in capturing
the Alcide of sixty-four guns, and the Lys of sixty-four.- E.
(583) Dr. Stone.
(584) Eldest daughter and coheiress of the great Duke of
Argyle, and widow of the Earl of Dalkeith.-E.
(585) Franklin, who occupied the cottage in the enclosure
which Mr. Walpole afterwards called the Flower-garden at
Strawberry Hill. When he bought the ground on which this
tenement stood, he allowed Franklin to continue to occupy it
during his life.
(586) Arthur Young, in his "Six Weeks' Tour," gives the
following description of Wanstead: "It is one of the noblest
houses in England. The magnificence of having four state bed-
chambers, with complete apartments to them, and the ball-room,
are superior to any thing of the kind in Houghton, Holkham,
Blenheim and Wilton: but each of these houses is superior to
this in other particulars; and, to form a complete, palace,
something must be taken from all."-E.
(587) Evelyn, who visited Wanstead, March 16, 1682-3, says, "I
went to see Sir Josiah Child's prodigious cost in planting
walnut-trees about his seat, and making fish-ponds many miles
in circuit, in Epping Forest, in a barren spot, as oftentimes
these suddenly moneyed men for the most part. seat themselves.
He, from a merchant's apprentice, and management of the East
India Company's stock, being arrived to an estate ('tis said)
200,000 pounds, and lately married his daughter to the eldest
son of the Duke of Beaufort, late Marquis of Worcester, with
50,000 pounds portional present, and various expectations."
(588) Walpole's favourite cat Selima, on the death of which,
by falling into a china tub, with gold fishes in it, Gray
wrote an Ode. After the death of the poet, Walpole placed the
china vase on a pedestal at Strawberry Hill, with a few lines
of' the Ode written for its inscription.-E.
263 Letter 140
To George Montagu, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, July 17, 1755.
Having done with building and planting, I have taken to
farming; the first fruits of my proficience in that science I
offer to you, and have taken the liberty to send you a couple
of cheeses. If you will give yourself the trouble to inquire
at Brackley for the coach, which set out this morning you will
receive a box and a roll of paper. The latter does not
contain a cheese, only a receipt for making them. We have
taken so little of the French fleet, that I fear none of it
will come to my share, or I would have sent you part of the
spoils. I have nothing more to send you, but a new ballad,
which my Lord Bath has made on this place; you remember the
old burden of it, and the last lines allude to Billy Bristow's
having fallen in love with it.
I am a little pleased to send you this, to show you, that in
summer we are a little pretty, though you will never look at
us but in our ugliness. My best compliments to Miss Montagu,
and my service to whatever baronet breakfasts with you, on
negus. Have you heard that poor Lady Browne is so unfortunate
as to have lost her last daughter; and that Mrs. Barnett is so
lucky as to have lost her mother-in-law, and is Baroness Dacre
of the South? I met the great C`u t'other day, and he asked me
if I ever heard from you; that he never did: I told him that I
did not neither; did not I say true?
263 Letter 141
To George Montagu, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, July 26, 1755.
who would not turn farmer, when their very first essay turns
to so good account? Seriously, I am quite pleased with the
success of mystery, and infinitely obliged to you for the kind
things you say about my picture. You must thank Mrs.
Whetenhall, too, for her prepossession about my cheeses: I
fear a real manufacturer of milk at Strawberry Hill would not
have answered quite so well as our old commodities of paint
I am happy for the recovery of Miss Montagu, and the
tranquillity you must feel after so terrible a season of
apprehension. Make my compliments to her, and if you can be
honest on so tender a topic, tell her, that she will always be
in danger, while you shut her up in Northamptonshire, and that
with her delicate constitution she ought to live nearer
friends and help; and I know of no spot so healthy or
convenient for both, as the county of Twicks.
Charles Townshend is to be married next month: as the lady had
a very bad husband before, she has chosen prudently, and has
settled herself in a family of the best sort of people in the
world, who will think of nothing but making her happy. I
don't know whether the bridegroom won't be afraid of getting
her any more children, lest it should prejudice those she has
already! they are a wonderful set of people for good-natured
You know, to be sure, that Mr. Humberston(589) is dead, and
your neighbouring Brackley likely to return under the dominion
of its old masters. Lady Dysart(590) is dead too.
Mr. Chute is at the Vine. Your poor Cliquetis is still a
banished man. I have a scheme for bringing him back, but can
get Mrs. Tisiphone into no kind of terms, and without tying
her up from running him into new debts, it is in vain to
I believe the declaration of war has been stopped at the
Custom-house, for one hears nothing of it. You see I am very
paragraphical, and in reality have nothing to say; so good
night! Yours ever.
(589)Member for Brackley.-E.
(590) Daughter of the Earl of Granville.
264 Letter 142
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, August 4, 1755, between 11 and 12 at night.
I came from London to-day, and am just come from supping at
Mrs. Clive's, to write to you by the fireside. We have been
exceedingly troubled for some time with St. Swithin's
diabetes, and have not a dry thread in any walk about us. I
am not apt to complain of this malady, nor do I: it keeps us
green at present, and will make our shades very thick, against
we are fourscore, and fit to enjoy them. I brought with me
your two letters of July 30 and August 1st; a sight I have not
seen a long time! But, my dear Sir, you have been hurt at my
late letters. Do let me say thus much in excuse for myself.
You know how much I value, and what real and great
satisfaction I have in your drawings. Instead of pleasing me
with so little trouble to yourself, do you think it was no
mortification to receive every thing but your drawings? to
find you full of projects, and, I will not say, with some
imprudences? But I have done on this subject--my friendship
will always be the same for you; it will only act with more or
less cheerfulness, as you use your common sense, or your
disposition to chimerical schemes and carelessness. To give
you all the present satisfaction in my power, I will tell you
* * * * *
I think your good-nature means to reproach me with having
dropped any hint of finding amusement in contemplating a war.
When one would not do any thing to promote it, when one would
do any thing to put a period to it, when one is too
insignificant to contribute to either, I must own I see no
blame in thinking an active age more agreeable to live in,
than a soporific one. But, O my dear Sir, I must adopt your
patriotism-Is not it laudable to be revived with the revival
of British glory? Can I be an indifferent spectator of the
triumphs of my country'? Can I help feeling a tattoo at my
heart, when the Duke of Newcastle makes as great a figure in
history as Burleigh or Godolphin-nay, as Queen Bess herself!
She gained no battles in person; she was only the actuating
genius. You seem to have heard of a proclamation of war, of
which we have not heard; and not to have come to the knowledge
of taking of Beau S`ejour(591) by Colonel Monckton. In short,
the French and we seem to have crossed over and figured in, in
politics.(592) Mirepoix complained grievously that the Duke
of Newcastle had overreached him-but he is to be forgiven in
so good a cause! It is the first person he ever deceived! I
am preparing a new folio for heads of the heroes that are to
bloom in mezzo-tinto from this war. At present my chief study
is West Indian history. You would not think me very
ill-natured if you knew all I feel at the cruelty and villany
of European settlers: but this very morning I found that part
of the purchase of Maryland from the savage proprietors (for
we do not massacre, we are such good Christians as only to
cheat) was a quantity of vermilion and a parcel of Jews-harps!
Indeed, if I pleased, I might have another study; it is my
fault if I am not a commentator and a corrector of the press.
The Marquis de St. Simon, whom I mentioned to you, at a very
first visit proposed to me to look over a translation he had
made of The Tale of a Tub: the proposal was soon followed by a
folio, and a letter of three sides, to press me seriously to
revise it. You shall judge of my scholar's competence. He
translates L'Estrange, Dryden, and others, l'`etrange Dryden,
etc.(593) Then in the description of the tailor as an idol,
and his goose as the symbol; he says in a note, that the goose
means the dove, and is a concealed satire on the Holy Ghost.
It put me in mind of the Dane, who, talking of orders to a
Frenchman, said, "Notre St. Esprit, est un `el`ephant."
Don't think, because I prefer your drawings to every thing in
the world, that I am such a churl as to refuse Mrs. Bentley's
partridges: I shall thank her very much for them. You must
excuse me If I am vain enough to be so convinced of my own
taste, that all the neglect that has been thrown upon your
designs cannot make me think I have overvalued them. I must
think that the states of Jersey who execute your town-house,-
have much more judgment than all our connoisseurs. When I
every day see Greek, and Roman, and Italian, and Chinese, and
Gothic architecture embroidered and inlaid upon one another,
or called by each other's names, I can't help thinking that
the grace and simplicity and truth of your taste, in whichever
you undertake is real taste. I go farther: I wish you would
know in what you excel, and not be bunting after twenty things
unworthy your genius. If flattery is my turn, believe this to
Mr. Muntz is at the Vine, and has been some time. I want to
know more of this history of the German: I do assure you, that
I like both his painting and behaviour; but if any history of
any kind is to accompany him, I shall be most willing to part
with him. However I may divert myself as a spectator of
broils, believe me I am thoroughly sick of having any thing to
do in any. Those in a neighbouring island are likely to
subside-and, contrary to custom, the priest(594) himself is to
be the sacrifice.
I have contracted a sort of intimacy with Garrick, who is my
neighbour. He affects to study my taste: I lay it all upon
you--he admires you. He is building a grateful temple to
Shakspeare: I offered him this motto: "Quod spiro et placeo,
si placeo tuum est!" Don't be surprised if you should hear of
me as a gentleman come upon the stage next winter for my
diversion. The truth is, I make the most of this acquaintance
to protect my poor neighbour at Clivden--You understand the
conundrum, Clive's den.
Adieu, my dear Sir! Need I repeat assurances? If I need,
believe that nothing that can tend to your recovery has been
or shall be neglected by me. You may trust me to the utmost
of my power: beyond that, what can I do? Once more, adieu!
(591) In June, 1755, the French fort of Beau Sejour, in the
Bay of Fundy, surrendered to Colonel Monckton, and two small
forts, Gaspereau and Venango, also capitulated. These were
the first conquests of the British arms in America during that
war. He gave the name of Fort Cumberland to Beau S`ejour.-E.
(592) This alludes to England and France not being at open
war, though constantly committing aggressions against each
other. The capture of these forts formed the first article Of
complaint against England, in the French declaration of war,
in June, 1756.-E.
(593) The Marquis de St. Simon did publish, in 1771, a
translation of Pope's Essay on Man.-E.
(594) The Primate of ireland.
266 Letter 143
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, August 15, 1755.
My dear sir,
Though I wrote to you so lately, and have certainly nothing
new to tell you, I can't help scribbling a line to YOU
to-night, as I am going to Mr. Rigby's for a week or ten days,
and must thank you first for the three pictures. One of them
charms me, the Mount Orgueil, which is absolutely fine; the
sea, and shadow upon it, are masterly. The other two I don't,
at least won't, take for finished. If you please, Elizabeth
Castle shall be Mr. Muntz's performance: indeed I see nothing
of You in it. I do reconnoitre you in the Hercules and
Nessus; but in both your colours are dirty, carelessly dirty:
in your distant hills you are improved, and not hard. The
figures are too large--I don't mean in the Elizabeth Castle,
for there they are neat; but the centaur, though he dies as
well as Garrick can, is outrageous. Hercules and Deianira are
by no means so: he is sentimental, and she most improperly
sorrowful. However, I am pleased enough to beg you would
continue. As soon as Mr. Muntz returns from the Vine, you
shall have a supply of colours. In the mean time why give up
the good old trade of drawing? Have you no Indian ink, no
soot-water, no snuff, no Coat of onion, no juice of any thing?
If you love me, draw: you would if you knew the real pleasure
you can give me. I have been studying all your drawings; and
next to architecture and trees, I determine that you succeed
in nothing better than animals. Now (as the newspapers say)
the late ingenious Mr. Seymour is dead, I would recommend
horses and greyhounds to you. I should think you capable of a
landscape or two with delicious bits of architecture. I have
known you execute the light of a torch or lanthorn so well,
that if it was called Schalken, a housekeeper at Hampton-court
or Windsor, or a Catherine at Strawberry Hill, would show it,
and say it cost ten thousand pounds. Nay, if I could believe
that you would ever execute any more designs I proposed to
you, I would give you a hint for a picture that struck me
t'other day in P`er`efixe's Life of Henry IV.(595) He says,
the king was often seen lying upon a common straw-bed among
the soldiers, with a piece of brown bread in one hand, and a
bit of charcoal in t'other, to draw an encampment, or town
that he was besieging. If this is not a character and a
picture, I don't know what is.
I dined to-day at Garrick's: there were the Duke of Grafton,
Lord and Lady Rochford, Lady Holderness, the crooked Mostyn,
and Dabreu the Spanish minister; two regents, of which one is
lord chamberlain, the other groom of the stole; and the wife
of a secretary of state. This is the being sur un assez bon
ton for a player! Don't you want to ask me how I like him? Do
want, and I will tell you. I like her exceedingly; her
behaviour is all sense, and all sweetness too. I don't know
how, he does not improve so fast upon me: there is a great
deal of parts, and vivacity, and variety, but there is a great
deal too of mimicry and burlesque. I am very ungrateful, for
he flatters me abundantly; but unluckily I know it. I was
accustomed to it enough when my father was first minister: on
his fall I lost it all at once: and since that, I have lived
with Mr. Chute, who is all vehemence; with Mr. Fox, who is all
disputation; with Sir Charles Williams, who has no time from
flattering himself; with Gray, who does not hate to find fault
with me; with Mr. Conway, who is all sincerity; and with you
and Mr. Rigby, who have always laughed at me in a good-natured
way. I don't know how, but I think I like all this as well--I
beg his pardon, Mr. Raftor does flatter me; but I should be a
cormorant for praise, if I could swallow it whole as he gives
Sir William Yonge, who has been extinct so long is at last
dead and the war, which began with such a flirt of vivacity,
is I think gone to sleep. General Braddock has not yet sent
over to claim the surname of Americanus. But why should I
take pains to show You in how many ways I know nothing?--Why;
I can tell it you in one word--why, Mr. Cambridge knows
nothing!--I wish you good-night! Yours ever.
(595) Hardouin de P`er`efixe's Histoire du Roi Henri le Grand
appeared in 1661. He is stated, by the editor Of the Biog.
Univ. to be the best historian of that monarch, and the work
has been translated in many languages. He was appointed
preceptor to Louis XIV. in 1644, and Archbishop of Paris in
1622. He died in 1670.-E.
268 Letter 144
To Sir Horace Mann.
Mistley, August 21, 1755. '
I shall laugh at you for taking so seriously what I said to
you about my Lady Orford. Do you think, my dear Sir, that at
this time I can want to learn your zeal for us? or can you
imagine that I did not approve for your own sake your keeping
fair terms with the Countess? If I do not much forget, I even
recommended it to you--but let us talk no more of her; she has
engrossed more paragraphs in our letters than she deserves.
I promised you a brisk war: we have done our part, but can I
help it, if the French will not declare it?-if they are
backward, and cautious, and timorous; if they are afraid of
provoking too far SO great a power as England, who threatens
the liberties of Europe? I laugh, but how not to laugh at
such a world as this! Do you remember the language of the last
war? What were our apprehensions? Nay, at the conclusion of
the peace, nothing was laid down for a maxim but the
impossibility of our engaging in another war; that our
national debt was at its ne plus ultra; and that on the very
next discussion France must swallow us up! Now we are all
insolent, alert, and triumphant: nay the French talk of
nothing but guarding against our piracies, and travel Europe
to give the alarm against such an overbearing power as we are.
On their coasts they are alarmed--I mean the common people; I
scarce believe they who know any thing, are in real dread of
invasion from us! Whatever be the reason, they don't declare
war: some think they wait for the arrival of their Martinico
fleet. You will ask why we should not attack that too? They
tell one, that if we began hostilities in Europe, Spain would
join the French. Some believe that the latter are not ready:
certain it is, Mirepoix gave them no notice nor suspicion of
our flippancy; and he is rather under a cloud--indeed this has
much undeceived me in one point: I took him for the ostensible
mister; but little thought that they had not some secret agent
of better head, some priest, some Scotch or Irish Papist-or
perhaps some English Protestant, to give them better
intelligence. But don't you begin to be impatient for the
events of all our West Indian expeditions? The Duke,(596) who
is now the soul of the Regency, and who on all hands is
allowed to make a great figure there, is much dissatisfied at
the slowness of General Braddock, who does not march as if he
was at all impatient to be scalped. It is said for him, that
he has had bad guides, that the roads are exceedingly
difficult, and that it was necessary to drag as much artillery
as he does. This is not the first time, as witness in
Hawley,(597) that the Duke has found that brutality did not
necessarily consummate a general. I love to give you an idea
of our characters as they rise upon the stage of history.
Braddock is a very Iroquois in disposition. He had a sister,
who having gamed away all her little fortune at Bath, hanged
herself(598) with a truly English deliberation, leaving only a
note upon the table with those lines "To die is landing on
some silent shore," etc. When Braddock was told of it, he
only said, "Poor Fanny! I always thought she would play till
she would be forced to tuck herself up!"' But a more
ridiculous story of him, and which is recorded in heroics by
Fielding in his Covent-Garden tragedy, was an amorous
discussion he had formerly with a Mrs. Upton, who had kept
him. He had gone the greatest lengths with her pin-money, and
was still craving. One day that he was very pressing, she
pulled out her purse and showed him that she had but twelve or
fourteen shillings left; he twitched it from her, "Let me see
that." Tied up at the other end he found five guineas; he
took them, tossed the empty purse in her face, saying, "Did
you mean to cheat me?" and never went near her more:--now you
are acquainted with General Braddock.
We have some royal negotiations proceeding in Germany, which
are not likely to give quite so much satisfaction to the
Parliament of next winter, as our French triumphs give to the
City, where nothing is so popular as the Duke of Newcastle.
There is a certain Hessian treaty, said to be eighteen years
long, which is arrived at the Treasury, Legge refused
peremptorily to sign it--you did not expect patriotism from
thence? It will not make him popular: there is not a mob in
England now capable of being the dupe of patriotism; the late
body of that denomination have really so discredited it, that
a minister must go great lengths indeed before the people
would dread him half so much as a patriot! On the contrary, I
believe nothing would make any man so popular, or conciliate
so much affection to his ministry, as to assure the people
that he never had nor ever would pretend to love his country.
Legge has been frowned upon by the Duke of Newcastle ever
since he was made chancellor of the exchequer by him, and
would have been turned out long ago if Sir George Lee would
have accepted the post. I am sorry that just when Tuscany is
at war with Algiers, your countrymen should lie under the
odour of piracy too; it will give Richcourt opportunities of
saying very severe things to you!--Barbarossa our Dey is not
returned yet-we fear he is going to set his grandson(599) up
in a seraglio; and as we have not, among other Mahometan
customs, copied the use of the bowstring for repressing the
luxuriancy of the royal branches, we shall be quite overrun
with young Sultans! Adieu!
(596) The Duke of Cumberland.
(597) General Hawley, who behaved with great cruelty and
brutality in the Scotch rebellion, which did not however
Prevent his being beaten by the rebels,-D.
(598) The story of this unfortunate young lady is told by
Goldsmith, in his amusing Life of Beau Nash, introduced into
the new and @greatly enlarged edition of his "Miscellaneous
Works," published by Mr. Murray, in 1837, in four volumes
octavo. See vol. iii. p. 294. According to the poet, the
lines which were written on one of the panes of the window,
"O Death! thou pleasing end of human wo!
Thou cure for life! thou greatest good below!
Still may'st thou fly the coward and the slave,
And thy soft slumbers only bless the brave."-E.
(599) The King had a mind to marry the Prince of Wales to a
Princess of Brunswick.
270 Letter 145
To Sir Horace Mann.
Arlington Street, August 28, 1755.
My last letter to you could not be got out of England, before
I might have added a melancholy supplement. Accounts of a
total defeat of Braddock, and his forces are arrived from
America; the purport is, that the General having arrived
within a few miles of Fort du Quesne, (I hope you are perfect
in your American geography?) sent an advanced party, under
Lord Gage's brother: they were fired upon, invisibly, as they
entered a wood; Braddock heard guns, and sent another party to
support the former; but the first fell back in confusion on
the second, and the second on the main body. The whole was in
disorder, and it is said, the General himself', though
exceedingly brave, did not retain all the sang froid that was
necessary. The common soldiers in general, fled; the officers
stood heroically and were massacred: our Indians were not
surprised, and behaved gallantly. The General had five horses
shot under him, no bad symptoms of his spirit, and at last was
brought off by two Americans, no English daring, though
Captain Orme,(600) his aid-de-camp, who is wounded too, and
has made some noise here by an affair of gallantry, offered
Sixty guineas to have him conveyed away. We have lost
twenty-six officers, besides many wounded, and ten pieces of
artillery. Braddock lived four days, in great torment.(601)
What makes the rout more shameful is, that instead of a great
pursuit, and a barbarous massacre by the Indians, which is
always to be feared in these rencontres, not a black or white
soul followed our troops, but we had leisure two days
afterwards to fetch off our dead. In short, our American
laurels are strangely blighted! We intended to be in great
alarms for Carolina and Virginia, but the small number of our
enemies had reduced this affair to a panic. We pretend to be
comforted on the French deserting Fort St. John, and on the
hopes we have from two other expeditions which are on foot in
that part of the world-but it is a great drawback on English
heroism I pity you who represent the very flower of British
courage ingrafted on a Brunswick stock!
I have already given you some account of Braddock; I may
complete the poor man's history in a few more words: he once
had a duel with Colonel Gumley, Lady Bath's(602) brother, who
had been his great friend: as they were going to engage,
Gumley, who had good humour and wit, (Braddock had the
latter,) said "Braddock, you are a poor dog! here take my
purse; if you kill me you will be forced to run away, and then
you will not have a shilling to support you." Braddock refused
the purse, insisted on' the duel, was disarmed, and would not
even ask his life. However, with all his brutality, he has
lately been Governor of Gibraltar, where he made himself
adored, and where scarce any Governor was endured before.
Adieu! Pray don't let any detachment from Pannoni's(603) be
sent against us--we should run away!
(600) He married the sister of George Lord Townshend, without
the consent of her family.
(601) Walpole, in his Memoires, says, that "he dictated an
encomium on his officers, and expired."-D.
(602) Elizabeth Gumley, wife of William Pulteny, Earl of Bath.
(603) Pannoni's coffeehouse of the Florentine nobility, not
famous for their courage of late.
271 Letter 146
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Arlington Street, August 28, 1755.
Our piratic laurels, with which the French have so much
reproached us, have been exceedingly pruned! Braddock is
defeated and killed, by a handful of Indians and by the
baseness of his own troops, who sacrificed him and his gallant
officers. Indeed, there is some suspicion that cowardice was
not the motive, but resentment at having been draughted from
Irish regiments. Were such a desertion universal, could one
but commend@it'@ Could one blame men who should refuse to be
knocked on the head for sixpence a day, and for the advantage
and dignity of a few ambitious? But in this case one pities
the brave young @officers, who cannot so easily disfranchise
themselves from the prejudices of glory! Our disappointment
is greater than our loss; six-and-twenty officers are killed,
who, I suppose, have not left a vast many fatherless and
widowless, as an old woman told me to-day with great
tribulation. The ministry have a much more serious affair on
their hands-Lord Lincoln and Lord Anson have had a dreadful
quarrel! Coquus teterrima belli causa! When Lord Mountford
shot himself, Lord Lincoln said, "Well, I am very sorry for
poor Mountford! but it is the part of a wise man to make the
best of every misfortune-I shall now have the best cook in
England." This was uttered before Lord Anson. Joras,(604)--
who is a man of extreme punctilio, as cooks and officers ought
to be, would not be hired till he knew whether this Lord
Mountford would retain him. When it was decided that he would
not, Lord Lincoln proposed to hire Joras. Anson had already
engaged him. Such a breach of friendship was soon followed by
an expostulation (there was jealousy of the Duke of
Newcastle's favour already under the coals): in short the
nephew earl called the favourite earl such gross names, that
it was well they were ministers! otherwise, as Mincing says,
"I vow, I believe they must have fit." The public, that is
half-a-dozen toad-eaters, have great hopes that the present
unfavourable posture of affairs in America will tend to cement
this breach, and that we shall all unite hand and heart
against the common enemy.
I returned the night before last from my peregrination. It is
very unlucky for me that no crown of martyrdom is entailed on
zeal for antiquities; I should be a rubric martyr of the first
class. After visiting the new salt-water baths at Harwich,
(which, next to horse-racing, grows the most fashionable
resource for people who want to get out of town, and who love
the country and retirement!) I went to see Orford castle, and
Lord Hertford's at Sudborn. The one is a ruin, and the other
ought to be so. Returning in a one-horse chair over a wild
vast heath, I went out of the road to see the remains of
Buttley Abbey; which however I could not see; for, as the keys
of Orford castle were at Sudborn, so the keys of Buttley were
at Orford! By this time it was night; we lost our way, were in
excessive rain for above two hours, and only found our way to
be overturned into the mire the next morning going into
Ipswich. Since that I went to see an old house built by
Secretary Naunton.(605) His descendant, who is a strange
retired creature, was unwilling to let us see it; but we did,
and little in it worth seeing. The house never was fine, and
is now out of repair; has a bed with ivory pillars and loose
rings, presented to the secretary by some German prince or
German artist; and a small gallery of indifferent portraits,
among which there are scarce any worth notice but of the Earl
of Northumberland, Anna Bullen's lover, and of Sir Antony
Wingfield, who having his hand tucked into his girdle, the
housekeeper told us, had had his fingers cut off by Harry
VIII. But Harry VIII. was not a man pour s'arr`eter `a ces
While we waited for leave to see the house, I strolled into
the churchyard, and was struck with a little door open into
the chancel, through the arch of which I discovered
cross-legged knights and painted tombs! In short, there are
no less than eight considerable monuments, very perfect, of
Wingfields, Nauntons, and a Sir John Boynet and his wife, as
old as Richard the Second's time. But what charmed me still
more, were two figures of Secretary Naunton's father and
mother in the window in painted glass, near two feet high, and
by far the finest painting on glass I ever saw. His figure,
in a puffed doublet, breeches and bonnet, and cloak of scarlet
and yellow, is absolutely perfect: her shoulder is damaged.
This church, which is scarce bigger than a large chapel, is
very ruinous, though containing such treasures! Besides
these, there are brasses on the pavement, with a succession of
all the wonderful head-dresses which our plain virtuous
grandmothers invented to tempt our rude and simple ancestors.-
-I don't know what our nobles might be, but I am sure that
Milliners three or four hundred years ago must have been more
accomplished in the arts, as Prynne calls them, of crisping,
curling, frizzling, and frouncing, than all the tirewomen of
Babylon, modern Paris, or modern Pall-Mall. Dame Winifred
Boynet, whom I mentioned above, is accoutered with the
coiffure called piked horns, which, if there were any signs in
Lothbury and Eastcheap, must have brushed them about
strangely, as their ladyships rode behind their gentlemen
(604) The name of the cook in question.
(605) Sir Robert Naunton, master of the court of wards. He
wrote Anecdotes of Queen Elizabeth and her favourites.
273 Letter 147
To The Rev. Henry Etough.(606)
Woolterton, Sept. 10, 1755.
I cannot forbear any longer to acknowledge the many favours
from you lately; your last was the 8th of this month. His
Majesty's speedy arrival among his British subjects is very
desirable and necessary, whatever may be the chief motive for
his making haste. As to Spain, I have from the beginning told
my friends, when they asked, both in town and country, that I
was at all apprehensive that Spain would join with France
against us; for this plain reason, because it could not
possibly be the interest of the Spaniards to do it for should
the views of the French take place in making a line of forts
from the Mississippi to Canada, and of being masters of the
whole of that extent of country, Peru and Mexico, and Florida,
would be in more danger from them than the British settlements
Mr. Fowle has made me a visit for a few days, and communicated
to me your two pieces relating to my brother and Lord
Bolingbroke, and I think you do great justice to them both in
their very different and opposite characters; but you will
give me leave to add with respect to Lord Orford, there are
several mistakes and misinformations, of which I am persuaded
I could convince you by conversation, but my observations are
not proper for a letter. Of this more fully when I see you,
but when that will be I can't yet tell. I am ever most
affectionately yours, etc.
(606) The Rev. Henry Etough, of Pembroke-hall, Cambridge. He
received his education among the Dissenters, and Archbishop
Secker and Dr. 'Birch were among his schoolfellows. Through
the interest of Sir Robert Walpole, he was presented to the
rectory of Therfield, in Hertfordshire; where he died, in his
seventieth year, in August 1757.-E.
273 Letter 148
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, September 18, 1755.
My dear sir,
After an expectation of six weeks, I have received a letter
from you, dated August 23d. Indeed I did not impute any
neglect to you; I knew it arose from the war; but Mr. S. * * *
* tells me the packets will now be more regular.--Mr. S * * *
tells me!--What, has he been in town, or at Strawberry?--No;
but I have been at Southampton: I was at the Vine; and on the
arrival of a few fine days, the first we have had this summer,
after a deluge, Mr. Chute persuaded me to take a jaunt to
Winchester and Netley Abbey, with the latter of which he is
very justly enchanted. I was disappointed in Winchester: it
is a paltry town, and small: King Charles the Second's house
is the worst thing I ever saw of Sir Christopher Wren, a
mixture of a town-hall and an hospital; not to mention the bad
choice of the situation in such a country; it is all ups that
should be downs. I talk to you as supposing that you never
have been at Winchester, though I suspect you have, for the
entrance of the cathedral is the very idea of that of Mabland.
I like the smugness of the cathedral, and the profusion of the
most beautiful Gothic tombs. That of Cardinal Beaufort is in
a style more free and of more taste than any thing I have seen
of the kind. His figure confirms me in my opinion that I have
struck out the true history of the picture that I bought of
Robinson; and which I take for the marriage of Henry VI.
Besides the monuments of the Saxon Kings, of Lucius, William
Rufus, his brother, etc. there are those of six such great or
considerable men as Beaufort, William of Wickham, him of
Wainfleet, the Bishops Fox and Gardiner, and my Lord Treasurer
Portland.--How much power and ambition under half-a-dozen
stones! I own, I grow to look on tombs as lasting mansions,
instead of observing them for curious pieces of architecture!-
-Going into Southampton, I passed Bevismount, where my Lord
"Hung his trophies o'er his garden gate;"(607)
but General Mordaunt was there, and we could not see it. We
walked long by moonlight on the terrace along the beach-
-Guess, if we talked of and wished for you! The town is
crowded; sea-baths are established there too. But how shall I
describe Netley to you? I can only by telling YOU, that it is
the spot in the world for which Mr. Chute and I wish. The
ruins are vast, and retain fragments of beautiful fretted
roofs pendent in the air, With all variety of Gothic patterns
of windows wrapped round and round with ivy-many trees are
sprouted up amongst the walls, and Only want to be increased
with cypresses! A hill rises above the abbey encircled with
wood: the fort, in which we would build a tower for
habitation, remains with two small platforms. This little
castle is buried from the abbey in a wood, in the very centre,
on the edge of the hill: on each side breaks in the view of
the Southampton sea, deep blue, glistering with silver and
vessels; on one side terminated by Southampton, on the other
by Calshot castle; and the Isle of Wight rising above the
opposite hills. In short, they are not the ruins of Netley,
but of Paradise.--OH! the purple abbots, what a spot had they
chosen to slumber in! The scene is so beautifully tranquil,
that they seem only to have retired into the world.(608)
I know nothing of the war, but that we catch little French
ships like crawfish. They have taken one of ours with
Governor Lyttelton(609) going to South Carolina. He is a very
worthy young man, but so stiffened with Sir George's old
fustian, that I am persuaded he is at this minute in the
citadel of Nantes comparing himself to Regulus.
Gray has lately been here. He has begun an Ode,(610) which if
he finishes equally, will, I think, inspirit all your drawing
again. It is founded on an old tradition of Edward 1. putting
to death the Welsh bards. Nothing but you, or Salvator Rosa,
and Nicolo Poussin, can paint up to the expressive horror and
dignity of it. Don't think I mean to flatter you; all I would
say is, that now the two latter are dead, you must of
necessity be Gray's painter. In order to keep your talent
alive, I shall next week send you flake white, brushes, oil,
and the enclosed directions from Mr. Muntz, who is still at
the Vine, and whom, for want of you, we labour hard to form.
I shall put up in the parcel two or three prints of my eagle,
which, as you never would draw it, is very moderately
performed; and yet the drawing was much better than the
engraving. I shall send you too a trifling snuff-box, only as
a sample of the new manufacture at Battersea, which is done
with copper-plates. Mr. Chute is at the Vine, where I cannot
say any works go on in proportion to my impatience. I have
left him an inventionary of all I want to have done there; but
I believe it may be bound up with the century of projects of
that foolish Marquis of Worcester, who printed a catalogue of
titles of things which he gave no directions to execute, nor I
believe could.(611) Adieu!
(607) "Our Gen'rals now, retired to their estate,
Hang their old trophies o'er the garden gate."
Pope, in this couplet, is said to have alluded to the entrance
of Lord Peterborough's lawn at Bevismount.-E.
(608) Gray, who visited Netley Abbey in the preceding month,
calls it "a most beautiful ruin in as beautiful a
(609) william Henry, brother of Sir George, afterwards Lord
Lyttelton. The man-of-war in which he was proceeding to South
Carolina was captured by the French squadron under Count Guay,
and sent into Nantes, but was shortly afterwards restored.-E.
(610) "The Bard" was commenced this year, but was for some
time left unfinished; but the accident of seeing a blind
Harper (Mr. Parry) perform on a Welsh harp, again put his Ode
in motion, and brought it at last to a conclusion, See Works,
vol. i. p. xxxiii.-E.
(611) Vol. i. letter 259 to H. S. Conway, Aug. 29, 1748.
275 Letter 149
To The Hon. H. S. Conway.
Strawberry Hill, Sept. 23, 1755.
Never make me excuses for a letter that tells me so many
agreeable things -as your last; that you are got well to
Dublin;(612) that you are all well, and that you have
accommodated all your politics to your satisfaction--and I may
be allowed to say, greatly to your credit 'What could you tell
me that would please me so much When I have indulged a little
my joy for your success and honour, it is natural to consider
the circumstances you have told me; and you will easily excuse
me if I am not quite as much satisfied with the conduct of
your late antagonists, as I with yours. You have
tranquillized a nation, have repaired your master's honour,
and secured the peace of your administration;-but what shall
one say to the Speaker, Mr. Malone and the others? Don't they
confess that they have gone the greatest lengths, and risked
the safety of their country on a mere personal pique? If they
did not contend for profit, like our patriots (and you don't
tell me that they have made any lucrative stipulations), yet
it is plain that their ambition had been wounded, and that
they resented their power being crossed. But I, Who am Whig
to the backbone, indeed in the strictest sense of the word,
feel hurt in a tenderer point, and which you,. who are a
minister, must not allow me: I am offended at their agreeing
to an address that avows such deference for prerogative, and
that is to protest so deeply against having to attack it.
However rebel this may sound at your court, my Gothic spirit
is hurt; I do not love such loyal expressions from a
Parliament. I do not so much consider myself writing to
Dublin castle, as from Strawberry castle, where you know how I
love to enjoy my liberty. I give myself the airs, in my
nutshell, of an old baron, and am tempted almost to say with
an old Earl of Norfolk, who was a very free speaker at least,
if he was not an excellent poet,
"When I am in my castle of Bungey,
Situate upon the river Waveney,
I ne care for the King of cockney."
I have been roving about Hampshire, have been at Winchester
and Southampton and twenty places, and have been but one day
in London --consequently know as little news as if I had been
shut up in Bungey castle. Rumours there are of great
bickerings and uneasiness; but I don't believe there will be
any bloodshed of places, except Legge's, which nobody seems
willing to take-I mean as a sinecure. His Majesty of Cockney
is returned exceedingly well, but grown a little out of humour
at finding that we are not so much pleased with all the
Russians and Hessians that he has hired to recover the Ohio.
We are an ungrateful people! Make a great many compliments
for me to my Lady Ailesbury; I own I am in pain about Missy.
As my lady is a little coquette herself, and loves crowds and
admiration, and a court life, it will be very difficult for
her to keep a strict eye upon Missy. The Irish are very
forward and bold:--I say no more but it would hurt you both
extremely to have her marry herself idly and I think my Lord
Chancellor has not extended his matrimonial foresight to
Ireland. However, I have much confidence in Mrs. Elizabeth
Jones:(613) I am sure, when they were here, she would never
let Missy whisper with a boy that was old enough to speak.
Adieu! As the winter advances, and plots thicken, I will write
you letters that shall have a little more in them than this.
In the mean time I am going to Bath, not for my health, you
know I never am ill, but for my amusement. I never was there,
and at present there are several of my acquaintance. The
French academy have chosen my Lord Chesterfield, and he has
written them a letter of thanks. that is the finest
composition in the world - indeed, I was told so by those who
have not seen it; but they would have told me so if they had
seen it, whether it was the finest or the worst; suffices it
to be his! Yours ever.
(612) mr. Conway was now secretary of state to the Marquis of
Hartington, lord lieutenant of Ireland.
(613) Miss Conway's nurse.
277 Letter 150
To Sir Horace Mann.
Arlington Street, Sept. 29, 1755.
It is not that I am perjured for not writing to you oftener,
as I promised; the war is forsworn. We do all we can; we
take, from men-of-war and Domingo-men, down to colliers and
cock-boats, and from California into the very Bay of Calais.
The French have taken but one ship from us, the Blandford, and
that they have restored--but I don't like this drowsy civil
lion; it will put out a talon and give us a cursed scratch
before we are aware. Monsieur de seychelles, who grows into
power, is labouring at their finances and marine: they have
struck off their sous-fermiers, and by a reform in what they
call the King's pleasures, have already saved 1,200,000 pounds
sterling a year. Don't go and imagine that 1,200,000 pounds
was all stink in the gulf of Madame Pompadour, or even in
suppers and hunting; under the word the King's pleasures, they
really comprehended his civil list; and in that light I don't
know why our civil list might not be called another King's
pleasures(614) too, though it is not all entirely squandered.
In short, the single article of coffee for the Mesdames(615)
amounted to 3000 pounds sterling a year--to what must their
rouge have amounted?--but it is high time to tell you of other
wars, than the old story of France and England. You must
know, not in your ministerial capacity, for I suppose that is
directed by such old geographers as Sanson and De Lisle, who
imagined that Herenhausen was a town in Germany, but according
to the latest discoveries, there is such a county in England
as Hanover, which lying very much exposed to the incursions of
the French and Prussians (the latter are certain hussars in
the French army), it has been thought necessary to hire
Russians, and Hessians, and all the troops that lie nearest to
the aforesaid weak part of Great Britain called Hanover, in
order to cover this frontier from any invasion. The
expedience of this measure was obvious; yet many People who
could not get over the prejudice of education, or who having
got over these prejudices have for certain reasons returned to
them, these Ptolemaic geographers Will not be persuaded that
there is any such county in England as Hanover, and not
finding it in their old maps, or having burnt their new ones
in a passion--(Mr. Legge, indeed, tore his at the treasury
board the day that the warrant for the Hessian subsidy came
thither)--they determined that England had no occasion for
these mercenaries. Besides Legge, the Duke of Devonshire, the
Speaker, Sir George Lee, and one MR. William Pitt, a man
formerly remarkable for disputing the new geography, declared
strongly against the system of treaties.(616) Copernicus no
sooner returned from Germany, than the Duke of Newcastle, who
had taken the alarm, frightened him out of his wits. In
short, they found that they should have no Professor to defend
the new system in Parliament. Every body was tried--when
every body had refused, and the Duke of Newcastle was ready to
throw up the cards, he determined to try Fox,(617) who, by the
mediation of Lord Granville, has accepted the seals, is to be
secretary of state, is to have the conduct of the House of
Commons, and is, I think-very soon to be first minister-or
what one has known to happen to some who of very late years
have joined to support a tottering administration, is to be
ruined. Indeed, he seems sensible of the alternative,
professes no cordiality to Duke Trinculo, who is viceroy over
him, but is listing Bedford's, and whoever will list with him,
as fast as he can. One who has been his predecessor in
suffering by such an alliance, my Lord Chesterfield, told him,
"Well, the Duke of Newcastle has turned out every body else,
and now he has turned out himself." Sir Thomas Robinson is to
return to the great wardrobe, with an additional pension on
Ireland of 2000 pounds a year. This is turning a cipher into
figures indeed! Lord Barrington is to be secretary at war.
This change, however, is not to take place till after the
Parliament is met, which is not till the 13th of' next month,
because Mr. Fox is to preside at the Cockpit the night before
the House opens. How Mr. Legge will take his deposition is
not known. He has determined not to resign, but to be turned
out; I should think this would satisfy his scruples, even if
he had made a vow against resigning.
As England grows turbulent again, Ireland grows calm again.
Mr. Conway, who has gone thither secretary to Lord Hartington,
has with great prudence and skill pacified that kingdom: you
may imagine that I am not a little happy at his acquiring
renown. The Primate is to be the peace-offering.
If there were any private news, as there are none, I could not
possibly to-day step out of my high historical pantoufles to
tell it you. Adieu! You know I don't dislike to see the Kings
and queens and Knaves of this world shuffled backwards and
forwards; consequently I look on, very well amused, and very
indifferent whatever is trumps!
(614) Alluding to the King's love of money.
(615 The daughters of Louis the Fifteenth.-D.
(616) The following is from Dodington's Diary:-"Sept. 3. Mr.
Pitt told me, that he had painted to the Duke of Newcastle all
the ill Consequences of this system of subsidies in the
strongest light that his imagination could furnish him with:
he had deprecated his Grace not to complete the ruin which the
King had nearly brought upon himself by his journey to
Hanover, which all people should have prevented, even with
their bodies. A King abroad, at this time, without one man
about him that has one English sentiment, and to bring home a
whole set of subsidies! That he was willing to promote the
King's service; but if this was what he was sent for to
promote, few words were best--nothing in the world should
induce him to consent to these subsidies."-E.
(617) " Fox must again be treated with; for the session of
Parliament approached, and it was become a general maxim, that
the House of Commons had been so much accustomed to have a
minister of its own, they would not any longer be governed by
deputy. Fox insisted on being made secretary of state, much
against the King's inclination, as well as the Duke of
Newcastle's: for though his Majesty preferred Fox to Pitt, he
liked Sir Thomas Robinson better than either of them; for Sir
Thomas did -is he was directed, understood foreign affairs,
and pretended to nothing further. However, Fox carried his
point." Waldegrave's Memoirs, p. 51.-E.
279 Letter 151
To John Chute, Esq.(618)
Arlington Street, Sept. 29, 1755.
I should not answer your letter so soon, as you write so
often, if I had not something particular to tell you. Mr. Fox
is to be secretary of state. The history of this event, in
short, is this: George Elector of Hanover, and Thomas King of
England, have been exceedingly alarmed. By some
misapprehension, the Russian and Hessian treaties, the
greatest blessings that were ever calculated for this country,
have been totally, and almost universally disapproved. Mr.
Legge grew conscientious about them; the Speaker,
constitutional; Mr. Pitt, patriot; Sir George Lee. scrupulous;
Lord Egmont, uncertain; the Duke of Devonshire, something that
he meant for some of these; and my uncle, I suppose, frugal--
how you know. Let a Parliament be ever so ready to vote for
any thing, yet if every body in both Houses is against a
thing, why the Parliament itself can't carry a point against
both Houses. This made such a dilemma, that, after trying
every body else, and being ready to fling up themselves, King
Thomas and his Chancellor offered Mr. Fox the honour of
defending and saving them. He, who is all Christian charity,
and forgiving every body but himself and those who dissuaded
him, for not taking the seals before, consented to undertake
the cause of the treaties, and is to have the management of
the House Of Commons as long as he can keep it. In the mean
time, to give his new friends all the assistance he can, he is
endeavouring to bring the Bedfords to court; and if any other
person in the world hates King Thomas, why Mr. Fox is very
willing to bring them to court too. In the mean time, Mr.
Pitt is scouring his old Hanoverian trumpet and Mr. Legge is
to accompany him with his hurdy-gurdy.
Mr. Mann did not tell me a word of his intending you a visit.
The reason the Dacres have not been with you is, they have
been at court; and as at present there are as many royal hands
to kiss as a Japanese idol has, it takes some time to slobber
through the whole ceremony.
I have some thoughts of going to Bath for a week; though I
don't know whether my love for my country, while my country is
in a quandary, may not detain me hereabouts. When Mr. Muntz
has done, you will be so good as to pacquet him up, and send
him to Strawberry. I rather wish you would bring him
yourself; I am impatient for the drawing you announce to me.
A commission has passed the seals, I mean of' secrecy, (for I
don't know whether they must not be stole,) to get you some
swans; and as in this age one ought not to despair of any
thing where robbery is concerned, I have some hopes of
succeeding. If you should want any French ships for your
water, there are great numbers to be had cheap, and small
618) Now first printed.
280 Letter 152
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Arlington Street, Sept. 30, 1755.
Solomon says somewhere or other, I think it is in
Castelnuovo's edition--is not there such a one?--that the
infatuation of a nation for a foolish minister is like that of
a lover for an ugly woman: when once he opens his eyes, he
wonders what the devil bewitched him. This is the text to the
present sermon in politics, which I shall not divide under
three heads, but tell you at once, that no minister was ever
nearer the precipice than ours has been. I did tell you, I
believe, that Legge had refused to sign the warrant for the
Hessian subsidy: in short, he heartily resented the quick
coldness that followed his exaltation, waited for an
opportunity of revenge, found this; and, to be sure, no
vengeance ever took speedier strides. All the world revolted
against subsidiary treaties; nobody was left to defend them
but Murray, and he did not care to venture. Offers of
graciousness, of cabinet councillor, or chancellor of the
exchequer, were made to right and left. Dr. Lee was
conscientious; Mr. Pitt might be brought, in compliment to his
Majesty, to digest one--but a system of subsidies--impossible!
In short, the very first ministership was offered to be made
over to my Lord Granville. He begged to be excused--he was not
fit for it. Well, you laugh--all this is fact. At last we
were forced to strike sail to Mr. Fox he is named for
secretary of state, with not only the lead, but the power of
the House of Commons. You ask, in the room of which
secretary? What signifies of which? Why, I think, of Sir
Thomas Robinson, who returns to his wardrobe; and Lord
Barrington comes into the war-office. This is the present
state of things in this grave reasonable island: the union hug
like two cats over a string; the rest are arming for
opposition. But I Will not promise you any more warlike
winters; I remember how soon the campaign of the list was
In Ireland, Mr. Conway has pacified all things: the Irish are
to get as drunk as ever to the glorious and immortal memory of
King George, and the prerogative is to be exalted as high as
ever, by being obliged to give up the Primate. There! I think
I have told you volumes: yet I know you will not be content,
you will want to know something of the war, and of America;
but, I assure you, it is not the bon-ton to talk of either
this week. We think not of the former, and of the latter we
should think to very little purpose '. for we have not heard a
syllable more; Braddock's defeat still remains in the
situation of the longest battle that ever was fought with
nobody. Content your English spirit with knowing that there
are very near three thousand French prisoners in England,
taken out of several ships.
281 Letter 153
To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, Oct. 7, 1755.
My dear sir,
Nobody living feels more for you than I do: nobody knows
better either the goodness and tenderness of your heart, or
the real value of the person you have lost.' I cannot flatter
myself that any thing I could say would comfort you under an
affliction so well founded; but I should have set out, and
endeavoured to share your concern, if Mrs. Trevor had not told
me that you were going into Cheshire. I will only say, that
if you think change of place can contribute at all to divert
your melancholy, you know where you would be most welcome; and
whenever you will come to Strawberry Hill, you will, at least,
if you do not find a comforter, find a most sincere friend
that pities your distress, and would do any thing upon earth
to alleviate your misfortune. If you can listen yet to any
advice, let me recommend to you to give up all thoughts of
Greatworth; you will never be able to support life there any
more: let me look out for some little box for you in my
neighbourhood. You can live nowhere where you will be more
beloved; and you will there always have it in your power to
enjoy company Or solitude, as you like. I have long wished to
get you so far back into the world, and now it is become
absolutely necessary for your health and peace. I will say no
more, lest too long a letter should be either troublesome or
make you think it necessary to answer; but do not, till you
find it more agreeable to vent your grief this way than in any
other. I am, my good Sir, with hearty concern and affection,
yours most sincerely.
(619) His sister, Miss Harriet Montagu.
281 Letter 154
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Arlington Street, Oct. 19, 1755.
Do you love royal quarrels? You may be served-I know you
don't love an invasion-nay, that even passes my taste; it will
make too much party. In short, the lady dowager Prudence
begins to step a little over the threshold of that discretion
which she has always hitherto so sanctimoniously observed.
She is suspected of strange whims; so strange, as neither to
like more German subsidies or more German matches. A strong
faction, professedly against the treaties,(620) openly against
Mr. Fox, and covertly under the banners of the aforesaid lady
Prudence, arm from all quarters against the opening of the
session. Her ladyship's eldest boy declares violently against
being bewulfenbuttled,(621) a word which I don't pretend to
understand, as it is not in Mr. Johnson's new dictionary.
There! now I have been as enigmatic as ever I have accused you
of being; and hoping you will not be able to expound my German
hieroglyphics, I proceed to tell you in plain English that we
are going to be invaded. I have within this day or two seen
grandees of ten, twenty, and thirty thousand pounds a-year,
who are in a mortal fright; consequently, it would be
impertinent in much less folk to tremble, and accordingly they
don't. At court there is no doubt but an attempt will be made
before Christmas. I find valour is like virtue: impregnable
as they boast themselves, it is discovered that on the first
attack both lie strangely open! They are raising more men,
camps are to be formed in Kent and Sussex, the Duke of
Newcastle is frightened out of his wits, which, though he has
lost so often, you know he always recovers, and as fresh as
ever. Lord Egmont despairs of the commonwealth; and I am
going to fortify my castle of Strawberry, according to an old
charter I should have had for embattling and making a deep
ditch. But here am I laughing when I really ought to cry,
both with my public eye and my private one. I have told you
what I think ought to sluice my public eye; and your private
eye too will moisten, when I tell you that poor Miss Harriet
Montagu is dead. She died about a fortnight ago; but having
nothing else to tell you, I would not send a letter so far
with only such melancholy news-and so, you will say, I stayed
till I could tell still more bad news. The truth is, I have
for some time had two letters of yours to answer: it is three
weeks since I wrote to you, and one begins to doubt whether
one shall ever be to write again. I will hope all my best
hopes; for I have no sort of intention at this time of day of
finishing either as a martyr or a hero. I rather intend to
live and record both those professions, if need be; and I have
no inclination to scuttle barefoot after a Duke of
Wolfenbuttle's army as Philip de Comines says he saw their
graces of Exeter and Somerset trudge after the Duke of
Burgundy's. The invasion, though not much in fashion yet,
begins, like Moses's rod, to swallow other news, both
political and suicidical. Our politics I have sketched out to
you, and can only add, that Mr. Fox's ministry does not as yet
promise to be of long duration. When it was first thought
that he had cot the better of the Duke of Newcastle, Charles
Townshend said admirably, that he was sure the Duchess, like
the old Cavaliers, would make a vow not to shave her beard
till the restoration.
I can't recollect the least morsel of a fess or chevron of the
Boynets: they did not happen to enter into any extinct
genealogy for whose welfare I interest myself. I sent your
letter to Mr. Chute, who is still under his own vine: Mr.
Muntz is still with him, recovering of a violent fever.
Adieu! If memoirs don't grow too memorable, I think this
season will produce a large crop.
P. S. I believe I scarce ever mentioned to you last Winter the
follies of the Opera: the impertinences of a great singer were
too old and common a topic. I must mention them now, when
they rise to any improvement in the character Of national
folly. The Mingotti, a noble figure, a great mistress of
music, and a most incomparable actress, surpassed any thing I
ever saw for the extravagance of her humours.(622) She never
sung above one night in three, from a fever upon hot-temper:
and never would act at all when Ricciarelli, the first man,
was to be in dialogue with her.(623) Her fevers grow so high,
that the audience caught them, and hissed her more than once:
she herself once turned and hissed again--Tit pro tat geminat
phoy d'achamiesmeyn--among the treaties which a secretary of
state has negotiated this summer, he has contracted for a
succedaneum to the Mingotti. In short, there is a woman hired
to sing when the other shall be- out of humour!
Here is a "World" by Lord Chesterfield:(624) the first part is
very pretty, till it runs into witticism. I have marked the
passages I particularly like.
You would not draw Henry IV. at a siege for me: pray don't
draw Louis XV.(625
(620) Lord Chesterfield, in a letter to Mr. Dayrolles, of the
4th of this month, says, "the next which now draws very near,
will, I believe, be a very troublesome one; and I really think
it very doubtful whether the subsidiary treaties with Russia
and Cassel will be carried or not. To be sure, much may be
said against both; but yet I dread the consequences of
rejecting them by Parliament, since they are made."-E.
(621) This is an allusion to a contemplated marriage between
the Prince of Wales, afterwards George the Third, and a
daughter of the Duke of Brunswick Wolfenbuttle. The following
is Lord Waldegrave's account of this project:--"An event
happened about the middle of the summer, which engaged
Leicester House still deeper in faction than they at first
intended. The Prince of Wales was just entering into his
eighteenth year; and being of a modest, sober disposition,
with a healthy, vigorous constitution, it might reasonably be
supposed that a matrimonial companion might be no unacceptable
amusement. The Duchess of Brunswick Wolfenbuttle, with her
two unmarried daughters, waited on his Majesty at Hanover.
The older, both as to person and understanding, was a most
accomplished Princess: the King was charmed with her cheerful,
modest, and sensible behaviour, and wished to make her his
granddaughter, being too old to make her his wife. I remember
his telling me, with great eagerness, that had he been only
twenty years younger, she would never have been refused by a
Prince of Wales, but should at once have been Queen of
England. Now, whether his Majesty spoke seriously is very
little to the purpose; his grandson's happiness was
undoubtedly his principal object; and he was desirous the
match might be concluded before his own death, that the
Princess of Wales should have no temptation to do a Job for
her relations, by marrying her son to one of the Saxe Gotha
family, who might not have the amiable accomplishments of the
Princess of Wolfenbuttle. The King's intentions, it may
easily be imagined, were not agreeable to the Princess of
Wales. She knew the temper of the Prince her son; that he was
by nature indolent, hated business, but loved a domestic life,
and would make an excellent husband. She knew also that the
young Princess, having merit and understanding equal to her
beauty, must in a short time have the greatest influence over
him. In which circumstances, it may naturally be concluded
that her Royal Highness did every thing in her Power to
prevent the match. The Prince of Wales was taught to
believe that he was to be made a sacrifice merely to gratify the
King's private interest in the electorate of Hanover. The
young Princess was most cruelly misrepresented; many even of
her perfections were aggravated into faults; his Royal
Highness implicitly believing every idle tale and improbable
assertion, till his prejudice against her amounted to aversion
itself." Memoirs, p. 39.-E.
(622) The following is Dr. Burney's account:--"Upon the
success of Jomelli's 'Andromaca' a damp was thrown by the
indisposition of Mingotti, during which Frasi was called upon
to play her part in that opera; when suspicion arising, that
Mingotti's was a mere dramatic and political cold, the public
was much out of humour, till she resumed her function in
Metastasio's admirable drama of 'Demofoonte,' in which she
acquired more applause, and augmented her theatrical
consequence beyond any period of her performance in
(623) "Ricciarelli was a neat and pleasing performer, with a
clear, flexible, and silver-toned voice; but so much inferior
to Mingotti, both in singing and acting, that he was never in
very high favour." Burney.-E.
(624) No. 146, Advice to the Ladies on their return to the
(625) Alluding to the subject Mr. Walpole had proposed to him
for a picture, in the letter of the 15th of August (letter
143), and to the then expected invasion of' England by Louis
284 Letter 155
To John Chute, Esq.(626)
Arlington Street, October 20, 1755.
You know, my dear Sir, that I do not love to have you taken
unprepared: the last visit I announced to you was of the Lord
Dacre of the South and of the Lady Baroness, his spouse: the
next company you may expect will be composed of the Prince of
Soubise and twelve thousand French; though, as winter is
coming on, they will scarce stay in the country, but hasten to
London. I need not protest to you I believe, that I am
serious, and that an invasion before Christmas will certainly
be attempted; you will believe me at the first word. It is a
little hard, however! they need not envy us General Braddock's
laurels; they were not in such quantity!
Parliamentary and subsidiary politics are in great ferment. I
could tell you much if I saw you; but I will not while you
stay there--yet, as I am a true friend and not to be changed
by prosperity, I can't neglect offering YOU my services when I
am cens`e to be well with a minister. It is so long since I
was, and I believe so little a while that I shall be so,, (to
be sure, I mean that he will be minister,) that I must faire
valoir my interest, while I have any-in short, shall I get you
one of these new independent companies ?-Hush! don't tell Mr.
Muntz how powerful I am: his warlike spirit will want to
coincide with my ministerial one; and it would be very
inconvenient to the Lords Castlecomers to have him knocked on
the head before he had finished all the strawberries and vines
that we lust after.
I had a note from Gray, who is still at Stoke; and he desired
I would tell you, that he has continued pretty well. Do come.
Lottery tickets rise: subsidiary treaties under par--I don't
say, no price. Lord Robert Bertie, with a
company of the Guards, has thrown himself
into Dover castle; don't they sound very war-full?
(626) Now first printed.
285 Letter 156
To Sir Horace Mann.
Strawberry Hill, Oct. 27, 1755.
When the newspapers swarm with our military preparations at
home, with encampments, fire-ships, floating castles at the
mouths of the great rivers, etc. in short, when we expect an
invasion, you would chide, or be disposed to chide me, if I
were quite silent-and yet, what can I tell you more than that
an invasion is threatened? that sixteen thousand men are
about Dunkirk, and that they are assembling great quantities
of flat-bottomed boats! Perhaps they will attempt some
landing; they are certainly full of resentment; they broke the
peace, took our forts and built others on our boundaries; we
did not bear it patiently; we retook two forts, attacked or
have been going to attack others, and have taken vast numbers
of their ships: this is the state of the provocation--what is
more provoking, for once we have not sent twenty or thirty
thousand men to Flanders on whom they might vent their
revenge. Well! then they must come here, and perhaps invite
the Pretender to be of the party; not in a very popular light
for him, to be brought by the French in revenge of a national
war. You will ask me, if we are alarmed? the people not at
all so: a minister or two, who are subject to alarms, are--and
that is no bad circumstances We are as much an island as ever,
and I think a much less exposed one than we have been for many
years. Our fleet is vast; our army at home, and ready, and
two-thirds stronger than when we were threatened in 1744; the
season has been the wettest that ever has been known,
consequently the roads not very invade-able: and there is the
additional little circumstance of the late rebellion defeated;
I believe I may reckon too, Marshal Saxe dead. You see our
situation is not desperate: in short, we escaped in '44, and
when the rebels were at Derby in '45; we must have bad luck
indeed, if we fall now.
Our Parliament meets in a fortnight; if no French come, our
campaign there will be warm; nay, and uncommon, the opposition
will be chiefly composed of men in place. You know we always
refine; it used to be an imputation on our senators, that they
opposed to get places. They now oppose to get better places!
We are a comical nation (I Speak with all due regard to our
gravity!)-It were a pity we should be destroyed, if it were
only for the sake of posterity; we shall not be half so droll,
if we are either a province to France, or under an absolute
prince of our own.
I am sorry you are losing my Lord Cork; you must balance the
loss with that of Miss Pitt,(627) who is a dangerous inmate.
You ask me if I have seen Lord Northumberland's Triumph of
Bacchus;(628) I have not: you know I never approved the
thought of those copies and have adjourned my curiosity till
the gallery is thrown open with the first masquerade. Adieu!
my dear Sir.
(627) Elizabeth Pitt, sister of Lord Chatham@ She had been
maid of honour to Augusta Princess of Wales; then lived openly
with Lord Talbot as his mistress; went to Italy, turned
Catholic, and married; came back, wrote against her brother,
and a trifling pamphlet recommending magazines of corn, and
called herself Clara Villiers Pitt.
(628) Hugh, Earl and afterwards Duke of Northumberland,
bespoke at a great price five copies of capital pictures in
Italy, by Mentz, Pompeo, Battoni, etc. for his gallery at
286 Letter 157
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, October 31, 1755.
As the invasion is not ready, we are forced to take up with a
victory. An account came yesterday, that General Johnson(629)
had defeated the French near the lake St. Sacrement, had
killed one thousand, and taken the lieutenant-general who
commanded them prisoner! his name is Dieskau, a Saxon, an
esteemed `el`eve of Marshal Saxe. By the printed account,
which I enclose, Johnson showed great generalship and bravery.
As the whole business was done by irregulars, it does not
lessen the faults of Braddock, and the panic of his troops.
If I were so disposed, I could conceive that there are heroes
in the world who are not quite pleased with this extra-
martinette success(630)--but we won't blame those Alexanders,
till they have beaten the French in Kent! You know it will be
time enough to abuse them, when they have done all the service
they can! The other enclosed paper is another World,(631) by
my Lord Chesterfield; not so pretty, I think, as the last; yet
it has merit. While England and France are at war, and Mr.
Fox and Mr. Pitt going to war, his lordship is coolly amusing
himself at picquet at Bath with a Moravian baron, who would be
in prison, if his creditors did not occasionally release him
to play with and cheat my Lord Chesterfield, as the only
chance they have for recovering their- money!
We expect the Parliament to be thronged., and great
animosities. I will not send you one of the eggs that are
laid; for so many political ones have been addled of late
years, that I believe all the state game-cocks in the world
I did not doubt but u would be struck with the death of poor
Bland.(632) I, t'other night, at White's, found a very
remarkable entry in our very-very remarkable wager-book: "Lord
Mountford(633) bets Sir John Bland twenty guineas that Nash
outlives Cibbor!" How odd that these two old creatures,
selected for their antiquities, should live to see both their
wagerers put an end to their own lives! Cibber is within a few
days of eighty-four, still hearty, and clear, and well. I
told him I was glad to see him look so well: "Faith," said he,
"it is very well that I look at all!"--I shall thank you for
the Ormer shells and roots; and shall desire your permission
to finish my letter already. As the Parliament is to meet so
soon, you are likely to be overpowered with my despatches.--I
have been thinning my wood of trees and planting them out more
into the field: I am fitting up the old kitchen for a
china-room: I am building a bedchamber for my self over the
old blue-room, in which I intend to die, though not yet; and
some trifles of this kind, which I do not specify to you,
because I intend to reserve a little to be quite new to you.
(629) In the Following month created Sir William Johnson,
Bart. Parliament was so satisfied with his conduct on this
occasion, that it voted him the sum of 5000 pounds. He
afterwards distinguished himself as a negotiator with the
Indian tribes, and was ultimately chosen colonel of the Six
Nations, and superintendent of Indian affairs for the northern
parts of America. He became well acquainted with the manners
and language of the Indians, and in 1772, sent to the Royal
Society some valuable communications relative to them. He
died in 1774.-E.
(630) Alluding to the Duke of Cumberland.
(631) No. 148, On Civility and Good-breeding.-E.
(632) Sir John Bland, member for Luggershall. The event took
place on the road between Calais and Paris.-E.
(633) Lord Mountford would have been the winner. Colley
Cibber died in 1757: Beau Nash survived till 1761. A very
entertaining Memoir of the King of Bath will be found in Mr.
Murray's enlarged and elegant edition of Goldsmith's
Miscellaneous Works. It is matter of surprise, that so many
pieces, from the pen of the delightful author of the Vicar of
Wakefield, should have so long remained uncollected.-E.
287 Letter 158
To George Montagu, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, Nov. 8, 1755.
My dear sir,
You oblige me extremely by giving me this commission; and
though I am exceedingly unlike Solomon in every thing else, I
will at least resemble him in remembering you to the Hiram
from whom I obtained my cedars of libanus. He is by men
called Christopher Gray, nurseryman at Fulham. I mention
cedars first, because they are the most beautiful of the
evergreen race, and because they are the dearest; half a
guinea apiece in baskets. The arbutus are scarce a crown
apiece, but they are very beautiful: the lignumvitae I would
not recommend to you; they stink abominably if you touch them,
and never make a handsome tree: The Chinese arborvitae is very
beautiful. I have a small nursery myself, scarce bigger than
one of those pleasant gardens which Solomon describes, and
which if his fair one meant the church, I suppose must have
meant the churchyard. Well, out of this little parsley-bed of
mine, I can furnish you with a few plants, particularly three
Chinese arborvitaes, a dozen of the New England or Lord
Weymouth's pine, which is that beautiful tree that we have so
much admired at the Duke of Argyle's for its clean straight
stem, the lightness of its hairy green, and for being
feathered quite to the ground: they should stand in a moist
soil, and Care must be taken every year to clear away all
plants and trees round them, that they may have free air and
room to expand themselves. Besides these' I shall send you
twelve stone or Italian pine, twelve pinasters, twelve black
spruce firs, two Caroline cherries, thirty evergreen cytisus,
a pretty shrub that grows very fast, and may be cut down as
you please, fifty Spanish brooms, and six acacias, the
genteelest tree of all, but you must take care to plant them
in a first row, and where they will be well sheltered, for the
least wind tears and breaks them to pieces. All these are
ready, whenever you will give me directions, how and where to
send them. They are exceedingly small, as I have but lately
taken to propagate myself; but then they will travel more
safely, will be more sure of living, and will grow faster than
larger. Other sorts Of trees that you must have, are silver
and Scotch firs; Virginia cedars, which should stand forwards
and have nothing touch them; and above all cypresses, which, I
think, are my chief passion; there is nothing So picturesque,
where they Stand two or three in a clump, upon a little
hillock, or rising above low shrubs, and particularly near
buildings. There is another bit of picture, of which I am
fond, and that is a larch or a spruce fir planted behind a
weeping willow, and shooting upwards as the willow depends. I
think for courts about a house, or winter gardens, almond
trees mixed with evergreens, particularly with Scotch firs,
have a pretty effect, before any thing else comes out; whereas
almond trees being generally planted among other trees, and
being in bloom before other trees have leaves, have no ground
to show the beauty of their blossoms. Gray at Fulham sells
cypresses in pots at half a crown apiece; you turn them out of
the pot with all their mould, and they never fall. I think
this is all you mean; if you have anymore garden-questions or
commissions, you know you command my little knowledge.
I am grieved that you have still any complaints left.
Dissipation, in my opinion, will be the best receipt; and I do
not speak merely for my own sake, when I tell you, how much I
wish to have you keep your resolution of coming to town before
Christmas. I am still more pleased with the promise you make
to Strawberry, which you have never seen in its green coat
since it cut its teeth. I am here all alone, and shall stay
till Tuesday, the day after the birthday. On Thursday begins
our warfare, and if we may believe signs and tokens, our
winter will be warlike-. I mean at home; I have not much
faith in the invasion. Her Royal Highness and His Royal
Highness(634) are likely to come to an open rupture. His
grace of Newcastle, who, I think, has gone under every
nickname, waits, I believe to see to which he will cling.
There have been two Worlds by my Lord Chesterfield lately,
very pretty, the rest very indifferent.
(634) The Princess Dowager and the Duke of Cumberland.
289 Letter 159
To The Hon. H. S. Conway.
Arlington street, Nov. 15, 1755.
I promised you histories, and there are many people that take
care I should have it in my power to keep my word. To begin
in order, I should tell you that there were 289 members at the
Cockpit meeting, the greatest number ever known there: but Mr.
Pitt, who is too great a general to regard numbers, especially
when there was a probability of no great harmony between the
commanders, did not, however, postpone giving battle. The
engagement was not more decisive than long: we sat till within
a quarter of five in the morning; an uninterrupted serious
debate from before two. Lord Hillsborough moved the address,
and very injudiciously supposed an opposition. Martin,
Legge's secretary, moved to omit in the address the indirect
approbation of the treaties, and the direct assurances of
protection to Hanover. These questions were at length
divided: and against Pitt's inclination, the last, which was
the least unpopular, was first decided by a majority of 311
against 105. Many then went away; and on the next division
the numbers were 290 to 89. These are the general outlines.
The detail of the speeches, which were very long, and some
extremely fine, it would be impossible to give you in any
compass. On the side of the opposition, (which I must tell
you by the way, though it set out decently, seems extremely
resolved) the speakers (I name them in their order) were: the
3d Colebrook, Martin, Northey, Sir Richard Lyttelton,
Doddington, George Grenville, Sir F. Dashwood, Beckford, Sir
G. Lee, Legge, Potter, Dr. Hay, George Townshend, Lord Egmont,
Pitt, and Admiral Vernon on the other side were, Lord
Hillsborough, Obrien, young Stanhope,(635) Hamilton, Alstone,
Ellis, Lord Barrington, Sir G. Lyttelton, Nugent, Murray, Sir
T. Robinson, my uncle, and Mr. Fox. As short as I can, I will
give you an account of them. Sir Richard, Beckford, Potter,
G. Townshend, the Admiral of course, Martin, Stanhope, and
Ellis, were very bad: Doddington was well, but very acceding:
Dr. Hay by no means answers his reputation; it was easy but
not striking. Lord Egmont was doubting, absurd, and obscure.
Sir G. Lee and Lord Barrington were much disliked; I don't
think so deservedly. Poor Alstone was mad, and spoke ten
times to order. Sir George(636) our friend, was dull and
timid. Legge was the latter. Nugent roared, and Sir Thomas
rumbled. My uncle did justice to himself, and was as wretched
and dirty as his whole behaviour for his coronet has been.
Mr. Fox was extremely fatigued, and did little. Geo.
Grenville's was very fine and much beyond himself, and very
pathetic. The Attorney-general(637) in the same style, and
very artful, was still finer. Then there was a young Mr.
Hamilton,(638) who spoke for the first time, and was at Once
perfection: his speech set, and full of antithesis, but those
antitheses were full of argument: indeed his speech was the
most argumentative of the whole day; and he broke through the
regularity of his own composition, answered other people, and
fell into his own track again with the greatest ease. His
figure is advantageous, his voice strong and clear, his manner
spirited, and the whole with the ease of an established
speaker. You will ask, what could be beyond this? Nothing,
but what was beyond what ever was, and that was Pitt! He spoke
at past one, for an hour and thirty-five minutes: there was
more humour, wit, vivacity, finer language, more boldness, in
short, more astonishing perfections, than even you who are
used to him, can conceive. He was not abusive, yet very
attacking on all sides: he ridiculed my Lord Hillsborough,
crushed poor Sir George, terrified the Attorney, lashed my
Lord Granville, painted my Lord of Newcastle, attacked Mr.
Fox, and even hinted up to the Duke.(639) A few of the Scotch
were in the minority, and most of the Princess's people, not
all: all the Duke of Bedford's in the majority. He himself
spoke in the other House for the address (though professing
incertainty about the treaties themselves), against my Lord
Temple and Lord Halifax, without a division. My Lord Talbot
was neuter; he and I were of a party: my opinion was strongly
with the opposition; I could not vote for the treaties; I
would not vote against Mr. Fox. It is ridiculous perhaps, at
the end of such a debate, to give an account of my own
silence; and as it is of very little consequence what I did,
so it is very unlike me to justify myself. You know how much
I hate professions of integrity; and my pride is generally too
great to care what the generality of people say of me: but
your heart is good enough to make me wish you should think
well of mine.
You will want to know what is to be the fate of the ministry
in opposition: but that I can't tell you. I don't believe
they have determined what to do, more than oppose, nor that it
is determined what to do with them. Though it is clear that
it is very humiliating to leave them in place, you may
conceive several reasons why it is not eligible to dismiss
them. You know where you are, how easy it is to buy an
opposition who have not places; but tell us what to do with an
opposition that has places? If you say, Turn them out; I
answer, That is not the way to quiet any opposition, or a
ministry so constituted as ours at present. Adieu!
(635) Son of the Earl of Chesterfield; who upon this occasion
addressed the House for the first time. "His father," says
Dr. Maty, "took infinite pains to prepare him for his first
appearance as a speaker. The young man seems to have
succeeded tolerably well upon the whole, but on account of his
shyness was obliged to stop, and, if I am not mistaken, to
have recourse to his notes. Lord Chesterfield used every
argument in his power to comfort him, and to inspire him with
confidence and courage to make some other attempt; but I have
not heard that Mr. Stanhope ever spoke again in the House."-
(636) Sir George Lyttelton.
(637) William Murray, afterwards Lord Mansfield.
(638) William Gerard Hamilton. It was this speech which, not
being followed, as was naturally expected, by repeated
exhibitions of similar eloquence, acquired for him the name of
(639) The Duke of Cumberland.
291 Letter 160
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Arlington Street, November 16, 1755.
Never was poor invulnerable Immortality so soon brought to
shame! Alack! I have had the gout! would fain have persuaded
myself that it was a sprain: and, then, that it was only the
gout come to look for Mr. Chute at Strawberry Hill: but none
of my evasions will do! I was, certainly, lame for two days;
and though I repelled it--first, by getting wet-shod, and then
by spirits of camphor; and though I have since tamed it more
rationally by leaving off the little wine I drank, I still
know where to look for it whenever I have an occasion for a
Back to Full Books