(702) This alludes to Miss Berry's father having been disinherited by an uncle, to whom he was heir at law, and a large property left to his younger brother.-M.B.
(703) A drawing by Miss Agnes Berry.
(704) Julia Howe, an unmarried sister of Admiral Earl Howe, who lived at Richmond.
Letter 357 To The Miss Berrys. Sunday, Oct. 31, 1790. (page 457)
Perhaps I am unreasonably impatient, and expect letters before they can come. I expected a letter from Lyons three days ago, though Mrs. Damer told me I should not have one till to-morrow. I have got one to-day; but alas! from Pougues only, eleven and a half posts short of Lyons! Oh! may Mrs. Damer prove in the right to-morrow! Well! I must be happy for the past; and that you had such delightful weather, and but one little accident to your carriage. We have had equal summer till Wednesday last, when it blew a hurricane. I said to it, "Blow, blow, thou winter wind, I don't mind you now!" but I have not forgotten Tuesday the 12th; and now I hope it will be as calm as it is to-day on Wednesday next, when Mrs. Damer is to sail.(705) I was in town on Thursday and Friday, and so were her parents, to take our leaves; as we did on Friday night, supping all at Richmond-house. She set out yesterday morning, and I returned hither. I am glad you had the amusement of seeing the National Assembly. Did Mr. Berry find it quite so august as he intended it should be? Burke's pamphlet is to appear to-morrow, and Calonne has published a thumping one of four hundred and forty pages.(706) I have but begun it, for there is such a quantity of calculations, and one is forced to bait so often to boil milliards of livres down to a rob of pounds sterling, that my head is only filled with figures instead of arguments, and I understand arithmetic less than logic.
Our war still hangs by a hair, they say; and that this approaching week must terminate its fluctuations. Brabant, I am told, is to be pacified by negotiations at the Hague. Though I talk like a newspaper, I do not assume their airs, nor give my intelligence of any sort for authentic, unless when the Gazette endorses the articles. Thus, Lord Louvain is made Earl of Beverley, and Lord Earl of Digby; but in no Gazette, though still in the Songs of Sion, do I find that Miss Gunning is a marchioness. It is not that I suppose you care who gains a step in the aristocracy; but I tell you these trifles to keep you au courant, and that at your return you may not make only a baronial curtsey, when it should be lower by two rows of ermine to some new-hatched countess. This is all the, news-market furnishes. Your description of the National Assembly and of the Champ de Mars were both admirable; but the altar of boards and canvass seems a type of their perishable constitution, as their air-balloons were before. French visions are generally full of vapour, and terminate accordingly. I have been at Mrs. Grenville's(707) this evening, who had a small party for the Duchess of Gloucester: there were many inquiries after my wives.
(705) Mrs. Damer was going to pass the winter at Lisbon, on account of her health.
(706) This was his "Lettre sur l''Etat de la France, pr'esent et 'a venir;" of which a translation appeared in the following year.-E.
(707) Margaret Banks, widow Of the Hon. Henry Grenville, who died in 1784. Their only daughter was married, in 1781, to Viscount Mahon, afterwards Earl Stanhope.
Letter 358 To The Miss Berrys Park-place, Nov. 8, 1790. (page 458)
No letter since Pougues! I think you can guess how uneasy I am! It is not the fault of the wind; which has blown from every quarter. To-day I cannot hear, for no post comes in on Mondays. What can have occasioned my receiving no letters from Lyons, when, on the 18th of last month, you were within twelve posts of it? I am now sorry I came hither, lest by change of place a letter may have shuttlecocked about, and not have known where to find me; and yet I left orders with Kirgate to send it after me, if one came to Strawberry on Saturday. I return thither to-morrow, but not till after the post is come in here. I am writing to you now, while the company are walked out, to divert my impatience; which, however, is but a bad recipe, and not exactly the way to put YOU Out Of my head.
The first and great piece of news is the pacification with Spain. The courier arrived on Thursday morning with a most acquiescent answer to our ultimatum: what that was I do not know, nor much care. Peace contents me, and for my part I shall not haggle about the terms. I have a good general digestion, and it is not a small matter that will lie at my stomach when I have no hand in dressing the ingredients.
The pacification of Brabant is likely to be volume the second. The Emperor, and their majesties of Great Britain and Prussia, and his Serene Highness the Republic of Holland have sent a card to his turbulent Lowness of Brabant, and* they allow him but three weeks to submit to his old sovereign: on promise of a general pardon -or the choice of threescore thousand men ready to march without a pardon.
The third volume, expected, but not yet in the press, is a counterrevolution in France. Of that I know nothing but rumour; yet it certainly is not the most incredible event that rumour ever foretold. In this country the stock of the National Assembly IS fallen down to bankruptcy. Their only renegade, aristocrat Earl Stanhope, has, with D. W. Russel, scratched his name out of the Revolution Club; but the fatal blow has been at last given by Mr. Burke. His pamphlet(708) came out this day se'nnight, and is far superior to what was expected, even by his warmest admirers. I have read it twice; and though of three hundred and fifty pages, I wish I could repeat every page by heart. It is sublime, profound, and gay. The wit and satire are equally brilliant; and the whole is wise, though in some points he goes too far: yet in general there is far less want of judgment than could be expected from him. If it could be translated,—which, from the wit and metaphors and allusions, is almost impossible,—I should think it would be a classic book in all countries, except in present France.(709) To their tribunes it speaks daggers though, unlike them, it uses none. Seven thousand copies have been taken off by the booksellers already, and a new edition is preparing. I hope you will see it soon. There ends my gazette.
There is nobody here at present but Mrs. Hervey, Mrs. E. Hervey, and Mrs. Cotton: but what did I find on Saturday? Why, the Prince of Furstemberg,(710) his son, and son's governor! I was ready to turn about and go back: but they really proved not at all unpleasant. The ambassador has not the least German stiffness or hauteur; is extremely civil, and so domestic a man, that he talked comfortably of his wife and eight children, and of his fondness for them. He understands English, though he does not speak it. The son, a good-humoured lad of fifteen, seems well-informed: the governor, a middle-aged officer, speaks English so perfectly, that even by his accent I should not have discovered him for a foreigner. They stayed all night, and went to Oxford next morning before I rose.
November 9th, at night.
This morning, before I left Park-place, I had the relief and joy of receiving your letter of October 24, from Lyons. It would have been still more welcome, if dated from Turin; but, as you have met with no impediments so far, I trust you got out of France as well as through it. I do hope, too, that Miss Agnes is better, as you say; but when one is very anxious about a person, credulity does not take long strides in proportion. I am not surprised at your finding voiturins, or any body, or any thing, dearer: where all credit and all control are swept away, every man will be a tyrant in proportion to his necessities and his strength. Societies were invented to temperate force: but it seems force was liberty, and much good may it do the French with being delivered from every thing but violence!—which I believe they will soon taste pro and con.! You may make me smile by desiring me to continue my affection. Have I so much time left for inconstancy? For threescore years and ten I have not been very fickle in my friendship: in all these years I never found such a pair as you and your sister. Should I meet with a superior pair,-but they must not be deficient in any one of the qualities which I find in you two,-why, Perhaps, I may change; but, with that double mortgage on my affections, I do not think you are in much danger of losing them. You shall have timely notice if a second couple drops out of the clouds and falls in my way.
(708) The far-famed "Reflections on the Revolution in France;" of which about thirty thousand copies were sold in a comparatively short space of time.-E.
(709) A French translation, by M. Dupont, shortly after made its appearance, and spread the reputation of the work over all Europe. The Emperor of Germany, Catherine of Russia, and the French Princes transmitted to Mr. Burke their warm approbation of it, and the unfortunate Stanislaus of Poland sent him his likeness on a gold medal.-E.
(710) The Landgrave of Furstemberg had been sent from the Emperor Leopold to notify his being elected King of the Romans, and his subsequent coronation as Emperor of Germany.-E.
Letter 359 To Miss Berry. November 11, 1790. (page 460)
I had a letter from Mrs. Damer at Falmouth. She suffered much by cold and fatigue, and probably sailed on Saturday evening last, and may be at Lisbon by this time, as you, I trust, are in Italy. Mr. Burke's pamphlet has quite turned Dr. Price's head. He got upon a table at their club, toasted to our Parliament becoming a National Assembly, and to admitting no more peers of their assembly, having lost the only one they had. They themselves are very like the French 'Etats: two more members got on the table (their pulpit), and broke it down: so be it!
The Marquisate(711) is just where it was—to be and not to be. The Duchess of Argyll is said to be worse. Della Crusca(712) has published a poem, called "The Laurel of Liberty," which, like the Enrag'es, has confounded and overturned all ideas. There are gossamery tears and silky oceans—the first time, to be sure, that any body ever cried cobwebs, or that the sea was made of paduasoy.(713) There is, besides, a violent tirade against a considerable personage, who, it is supposed, the author was jealous of, as too much favoured a few years ago by a certain Countess. You may guess why I am not more explicit: for the same reason I beg YOU not to mention it at all; it would be exceedingly improper. As the Parliament will meet in a fortnight, and the town be plumper, my letters may grow more amusing; though, unless the weather grows worse, I shall not contribute my leanness to its embonpoint. Adieu!
(711) Meaning the reported marriage of Miss Gunning to the Marquis of Blandford.-B.
(712) Robert Merry, Esq. who, at this time, wrote in the newspapers under this signature, and thereby became the object of the caustic satire of the author of the Baviad and Maviad—
"Lo, Della Crusca in his closet pent, He toils to give the crude conception vent Abortive thoughts, that right and wrong confound, Truth sacrific'd to letters, sense to sound; False glare, incongruous images combine, And noise and nonsense chatter through the line."-E.
(713) Besides the above, Mr. Gifford instances, from the same poem, "moody monarchs, radiant rivers, cooling cataracts, lazy Loires, gay Garonnes, glossy glass, mingling murder, dauntless day, lettered lightnings, delicious dilatings, sinking sorrows, real reasoning, meliorating mercies, dewy vapours damp that sweep the silent swamps, etc. etc."-E.
Letter 360 To The Miss Berrys. Strawberry Hill, Thursday, Nov. 18, 1790. (page 461)
On Tuesday morning, after my letter was gone to the post, I received yours of the 2d (as I have all the rest) from Turin, and it gave me very little of the joy I had so much meditated to receive from a letter thence. And why did not it?-because I had got one on Saturday, which anticipated and augmented all the satisfaction I had allotted for Turin. You will find my Tuesday's letter, if ever you receive it, intoxicated with Chamberry; for which, and all your kind punctuality, I give you a million of thanks. But how cruel to find that you found none of my letters at Turin! There ought to have been two at least, of October the 16th and 19th. I have since directed one thither of the 25th; but alas! from ignorance, there was par Paris on none of them; and the Lord knows at how many little German courts they may have been baiting! I shall put par Paris on this; but beg you will tell me, as soon as you can, which route is the shortest and the safest; that is, by which you are most likely to receive them. You do me justice in concluding there has been no negligence of mine in the case; indeed, I have been ashamed of the multiplicity of my letters, when I had scarce any thing to tell you but my own anxiety to hear of your being quietly settled at Florence, out of the reach of all commotions. And how could I but dread your being molested by some accident, in the present state of France! and how could your healths mend in bad inns, and till you can repose somewhere? Repose you will have at Florence, but I shall fear the winter for you there: I suffered more by cold there, than by any place in my life; and never came home at night without a pain in my breast, which I never felt elsewhere, yet then I was very young and in perfect health. If either of you suffer there in any shape, I hope you will retire to Pisa.
My inquietude, that presented so many alarms to me before you set out, has, I find, and am grieved for it, not been quite in the Wrong. Some inconveniences I am persuaded you have sunk: yet the difficulty of landing at Dieppe, and the ransack of your poor harmless trunks at Bourgoin, and the wretched lodgings with which you were forced to take up at Turin, count deeply with me: and I had much rather have lost all credit as a prophet, since I could not prevent your journey. May it answer for your healths! I doubt it will not in any other respect, as you have already found by the voiturins. In point of pleasure, is it possible to divest myself so radically of all self-love as to wish you may find Italy as agreeable as you di formerly? In all other lights, I do most fervently hope there will he no drawbacks on your plan. Should you be disappointed in any way, you know what a warm heart is open to receive you back; and so will your own Cliveden(714) be too.
I am glad you met the Bishop of Arras,(715) and am much pleased that he remembers me. I saw him very frequently at my dear old friend's,.(716) and liked him the best of all Frenchmen I ever knew. He is extremely sensible, easy, lively, and void of prejudices. Should he fall in your way again, I beg you will tell him how sincere a regard I have for him. He lived in the strictest union with his brother, the Archbishop of Tours, whom I was much less acquainted with, nor know if he be living.
I have heard nothing since my Tuesday's letter. As I still hope its predecessors will reach you, I will not repeat the trifling scraps of news I have sent you in them. In fact, this is only a trial whether par Paris is a better passport than a direction without it; but I am grievously sorry to find difficulty of correspondence superadded to the vexation of losing you. Writing to you was grown my chief occupation. I wish. Europe and its broils were in the East Indies, if they embarrass us quiet folks, who have nothing to do with their squabbles. The Duchess of Gloucester, who called on me yesterday, charged me to give her compliments to you both. Miss Foldson(717) has not yet sent me your pictures: I was in town on Monday, and sent to reproach her with having twice broken her promise; her mother told my servant that Miss was at Windsor, drawing the Queen and Princesses. That is not the work of a Moment. I am glad all the Princes are not on the spot.
I think of continuing here till the weather grows very bad; which it has not been at all yet, though not equal to what I am rejoiced you have found. I have no Somerset or Audley-street to receive me: Mrs. Damer is gone too. The Conways remain at Park-place till after Christmas; It is entirely out of fashion for women to grow old and stay at home in an evening. They invite you, indeed, now and then, but do not expect to see you till near midnight; which is rather too late to begin the day, unless one was born but twenty years ago. I do not condemn any fashions, which the young ought to set, for the old certainly ought not; but an oak that has been going on in its old way for an hundred years, cannot shoot into a May-pole in three years, because it is the mode to plant Lombardy poplars.
What I should have suffered, if your letters, like mine, had wandered through Germany! I, you was sure, had written, and was in no danger. Dr. Price, who had whetted his ancient talons last year to no purpose, has had them all drawn by Burke, and the Revolution Club is as much exploded as the Cock-lane Ghost; but you, in order to pass a quiet winter in Italy, would pass through a fiery furnace. Fortunately, you have not been singed, and the letter from Chamberry has composed all my panics, but has by no means convinced me that I was not perfectly in the right to endeavour to keep you at home. One does not put one's hand in the fire to burn off a hangnail; and, though health is delightful, neither of you were out of order enough to make a rash experiment. I Would not be so absurd as to revert to old arguments, that happily proved no prophecies, if my great anxiety about you did not wish, in time, to persuade you to return through Switzerland and Flanders, if the latter is pacified and France is not; of which I see no likelihood.
Pray forgive me, if parts of my letters are sometimes tiresome; but can I appear only always cheerful when you two are absent, and have another long journey to make, ay, and the sea to cross again? My fears cannot go to sleep like a paroli at faro till there is a new deal, in which even then I should not be sure of winning. If I see you again, I will think I have gained another milleleva, as I literally once did; with this exception, that I was vehemently against risking a doit at the game of travelling. Adieu!
(714) Little Strawberry Hill, which he had then thus named.
(715) M. de Conzies. This amiable prelate declined, in 1801, the Parisian archiepiscopacy, proffered him by Buonaparte, and died in London, in December 1804, in the arms of Monsieur, afterwards Charles the Tenth.-E.
(716) Madame du Deffand.
)717 Afterwards Mrs. Mee.
Letter 361 To The Miss Berrys. Strawberry Hill, Friday night, Nov. 27, 1790. (page 463)
I am waiting for a letter from Florence, not with perfect patience, though I could barely have one, even if you did arrive, as you intended, on the 12th; but twenty temptations might have occurred to detain you in that land of eye and ear sight; my chief eagerness is to learn that you have received at least some of my letters. I wish too to know, though I cannot yet, whether you would have me direct Par Paris, or as I did before. In this state of uncertainty I did not prepare this to depart this morning; nor, though the Parliament met yesterday, have I a syllable of news for you, as there will be no debate till all the members have been sworn, which takes two or three days. Moreover, I am still here: the weather, though very rainy, is quite warm; and I have much more agreeable society at Richmond, with small companies and better hours, than in town, and shall have till after Christmas, unless great cold drives me thither. Lady Di, Selwyn, the Penns, the Onslows, Douglases, Mackinsys, Keenes, Lady Mount-Edgcumbe, all stay, and Some of them meet every evening. The Boufflers too are constantly invited, and the Comtesse Emilie sometimes carries her harp, on which they say she plays better than Orpheus; but as I never heard him on earth, nor chez Proserpine, I do not pretend to decide. Lord Fitzwilliam(718) has been here too; but was in the utmost danger of being lost on Saturday night, in a violent storm between Calais and Dover, as the captain confessed to him when they were landed. Do you think I did not ache at the recollection of a certain Tuesday when you were sailing to Dieppe?
(718) Richard, seventh and last Viscount Fitzwilliam, the munificent benefactor to the University of Cambridge. He died in 1816.-E.
Letter 362 To Miss Agnes Berry. Strawberry Hill, Sunday, Nov. 29, 1790. (page 464)
Though I write to both at once, and reckon your letters to come equally from both, yet I delight in seeing your hand with a pen as well as with a pencil, and you express yourself as well with the one as with the other. Your part in that which I have been so happy as to receive this moment, has singularly obliged me, by your having saved me the terror of knowing you had a torrent to cross after heavy rain. No cat is so afraid of water for herself, as I am grown to be for you. That panic, which will last for many months, adds to my fervent desire of your returning early in the autumn, that you may have neither fresh water nor the "silky" ocean to cross in winter. Precious as our insular situation is, I am ready to wish with the Frenchman, that you could somehow or other get to it by land,— Oui, c'est une isle toujours, je le sais bien; mais, par exemple, en allant d'alentour, n'y auroit-il pas moyen d'y arriver par terre?"
Correggio never pleased me in proportion to his fame; his grace touches upon grimace; the mouth of the beautiful Angel at Parma curls up almost into a half-moon. Still I prefer Corregio to the lourd want of grace in Guereino, who is to me a German edition of Guido. I am sorry the bookseller would not let you have an Otranto. Edwards told me, above two months ago, that he every day expected the whole impression; and he has never mentioned it waiting for my corrections. I will make Kirgate write to him, for I have told you that I am still here. We have had much rain, but no flood; and yesterday and to-day have exhibited Florentine skies.
>From town I know nothing; but that on Friday, after the King's speech, Earl Stanhope made a most frantic speech on the National Assembly and against Calonne's book, which he wanted to have taken up for high treason.(719) He was every minute interrupted by loud bursts of laughter; which was all the answer he received or deserved. His suffragan Price has published a short, sneaking equivocal answer to Burke, in which he pretends his triumph over the King of France alluded to July, not to October, though his sermon was preached in November. Gredat—but not Judaeus Apella, as Mr. Burke so wittily says of the assignats.(720) Mr. Grenville, the secretary of state, is made a peer, they say to assist the Chancellor in the House of Lords: yet the papers pretend the Chancellor is out of humour, and will resign the first may be true, the latter probably not.(721)
Richmond, my metropolis, flourishes exceedingly. The Duke of Clarence arrived at his palace there last night, between eleven and twelve, as I came from Lady Douglas. His eldest brother and Mrs. Fitzherbert dine there to-day with the Duke Of Queensbury, as his grace, who called here this morning, told me, on the very spot where lived Charles the First, and where are the portraits of his principal courtiers from Cornbury. Queensbury has taken to that palace at last, and has frequently company and music there in an evening. I intend to go.
I suppose none of my Florentine acquaintance are still upon earth. The handsomest woman there, of my days, was a Madame Grifoni, my fair Geraldine: she would now be a Methusalemess, and much more like a frightful picture I have of her by a one-eyed German painter. I lived then with Sir Horace Mann, in Casa Mannetti in Via de' Santi Apostoli, by the Ponte di Trinit'a. Pray, worship the works of Masaccio, if any remain; though I think the best have been burnt in a church. Raphael himself borrowed from him. Fra Bartolomeo, too, is one of my standards for great ideas; and Benvenuto Cellini's Perseus a rival of the antique, though Mrs. Damer will not allow it. Over against the Perseus is a beautiful small front of a house, with only three windows, designed by Raphael; and another, I think, near the Porta San Gallo, and I believe called Casa Panciatici or Pandolfini.
(719) in the report of Lord Stanbope's speech, as it is given in the Parliamentary History, there is no expression of a wish that M. Calonne should be ,taken up for high treason." What the noble Earl said was, that the assertion that a civil war would meet with the support of all the crowned heads in Europe was a scandalous libel on the King of England, and might endanger the lives of many natives of Scotland and Ireland then residing in France.-E.
(720) "The Assembly made in their speeches a sort of swaggering declaration, something, I rather think, above legislative competence; that is, that there is no difference in value between metallic money and their assignats. This was a good, stout proof article of faith, pronounced under an anathema, by the venerable fathers of this philosophic synod. Gredat who will certainly not
(721) In Mr. Wilberforce's Diary for this year there appears the following entry:-"Nov- 22. Dined with Mr. Pitt. He told me of Grenville's peerage and the true reasons—distrust of Lord Thurlow. Saw Thurlow's answer to the news. Gave Pitt a serious word or two." See Life, vol. i. p. 284.-E.
Letter 363 To The Miss Berrys. Strawberry Hill, Dec. 20, 1790; very late at night. (page 465)
The French packet that was said to be lost on Tuesday last, and which did hang out signals of distress, was saved, but did not bring any letters; but three Flemish mails that were due are arrived, and did bring letters, and, to my inexpressible joy, two from you of the 22d and 29th of the last month, telling Me that you have received as far as No. 4 and 5 of mine. Thank all the stars in Herschell's telescope, or beyond its reach, that our correspondence is out of the reach of France and all its ravages! Thank you a million of times for all your details about yourselves When even the apprehension of any danger disquiets me so much, judge whether I do not interest myself in every particular of your pleasures and amusements! Florence was my delight, as it is yours but, I don't know how, I wish you did not like it quite so much and, after the gallery. how will any silver-penny of a gallery look? Indeed, for your Boboli, which I thought horrible even fifty years ago, before shepherds had seen the star of taste in the west, and glad tidings were proclaimed to their flocks, I do think there is not an acre on the banks of the Thames that should vail the bonnet to it.
Of Mr. Burke's book, if I have not yet told you my opinion, I do now: that it is one of the finest compositions in print. There is reason, logic, wit, truth. eloquence, and enthusiasm in the brightest colours. That it has given a mortal stab to sedition, I believe and hope; because the fury of the Brabanters,-whom, however, as having been aggrieved, I pitied and distinguish totally from the savage Gauls, -and the unmitigated and execrable injustices of the latter, have made almost any state preferable to such anarchy and desolation, that increases every day. Admiring thus, as I do, I am very far from subscribing to the extent of almost all Mr. Burke's principles. The work, I have no doubt, will hereafter be applied to support very high doctrines; and to you I will say, that I think it an Apocrypha, that, in many a council of Bishops, will be added to the Old Testament. Still, such an Almanzor was wanting at this crisis; and his foes show how deeply they are wounded, by their abusive pamphlets. Their Amazonian allies, headed by Kate Macaulay(722) and the virago Barbauld, whom Mr. Burke calls our poissardes, spit their rage at eighteenpence a head, and will return to Fleet-ditch, more fortunate in being forgotten than their predecessors, immortalized in the Dunciad. I must now bid you good-night; and night it is, to the tune of morning. Adieu, all three!
(722) A pamphlet, entitled "Observations on the Reflections of the Right Hon. Edmund Burke on the Revolution in France; in a Letter to Earl Stanhope," was attributed to Mrs. Macaulay.-E.
Letter 364 To Miss Berry. Berkeley Square, Saturday, Jan. 22, 1791. (page 466)
I have been most unwillingly forced to send you such bad accounts of myself by my two last letters; but, as I could not conceal all, it was best to tell you the whole truth. Though I do not know that there was any real danger, I could not be so blind to my own age and weakness as not to think that, with so much gout an fever, the conclusion might very probably be fatal: and therefore it was better you should be prepared for what might happen. The danger appears to be entirely over: there seems to be no more gout to come. I have no fever, have a very good appetite, and sleep well. Mr. Watson,(723) who is all tenderness and attention, is persuaded to-day that I shall recover the use of my left hand ; of which I despaired much more than of the right, as having been seized three weeks earlier. Emaciated and altered I am incredibly, as you would find were you ever to see me again. But this illness has dispelled all visions ; and, as I have little prospect of passing another happy autumn, I Must wean myself from whatever would embitter my remaining time by disappointments.
Your No. 15 came two days ago, and gives me the pleasure of knowing that you both are the better for riding, which I hope you will continue. I am glad, too, that you are pleased with your Duchess of Fleury and your Latin professor: but I own, except your climate and the six hundred camels, you seem to me to have met with no treasure which you might not have found here without going twenty miles: and even the camels, according to Soame Jenyns' spelling, were to be had from Carrick and other places.
I doubt you apply Tully de Amicitia too favourably: at least, I fear there is no paragraph that countenances 73 and 27.
Monday, the 24th.
I think I shall give you pleasure by telling you that I am very sure now of recovering from the present fit. It has almost always happened to me, in my considerable fits of the gout, to have one critical night that celebrates its departure: at the end of two different fits I each time slept eleven hours. Morpheus is not quite so young nor so generous now ; but, with the interruption of a few minutes, he presented me with eight hours last night: and thence I shall date my recovery. I shall now begin to let in a little company; and, as the Parliament will meet in a week, my letters will probably not be so dull as they have been; nor shall I have occasion, nor be obliged, to talk so much of myself, of which I am sure others must be tired, when I am so much tired myself.
Tuesday, the 25th.
Old Mrs. French(724) is dead at last, and I am on the point of losing, or have lost, my oldest acquaintance and friend, George Selwyn, who was yesterday at the extremity. These misfortunes, though they can be so but for a short time, are very sensible to the old; but him I really loved, not only for his infinite wit, but for a thousand good qualities. Lady Cecilia Johnstone was here yesterday. I said much for you, and she as much to you. The Gunnings are still playing the fool, and perhaps somebody with them; but I cannot tell you the particulars now. Adieu!
(723) His surgeon.
(724) An Irish lady, who, during the latter part of her life, had a country house at Hampton Court.
Letter 365 To The Miss Berrys. Saturday, Jan. 29, 1791. (page 468)
Voici de ma propre 'ecriture! the best proof that I am recovering, though not rapidly, which is not the march of my time of life. For n these last six days I have mended more than I expected. My left hand, the first seized, is the most dilatory, and of which I have least hopes. The rheumatism, that I thought so clear and predominant, is so entirely gone, that I now rather think it was hussar-gout attacking in flying squadrons the outposts. No matter which, very ill I was ; and you might see what I thought of myself: nor can I stand many such victories. My countenance was so totally altered, that I could not trace it myself. Its outlines have returned to their posts, though with deep gaps. This is a true picture, and too long an one of self; and too hideous for a bracelet. Apropos, your sweet Miss Foldson, I believe, is painting portraits of all our Princesses, to be sent to all the Princes upon earth ; for, though I have sent her several written duns, she has not deigned even to answer one in writing. I don't know whether Mrs. Buller is not appointed Royal Academician too; for, though I desired the "Charming-man," who was to dine with her that day, to tell her, above a week ago, that I should be glad to see her, she has not taken the least notice of it. Mr. Batt, ditto; who was at Cambridge's when I was at the worst, and knew so, has not once inquired after me, in town or country. So you see you have carried off your friends from me as well as yourselves: and it is not them I regret; or rather, in fact, I outlive all my friends! Poor Selwyn is gone, to my sorrow; and no wonder Ucalegon feels it!(725) He has left about thirty thousand pounds to Mademoiselle Fagniani;(726) twenty of which, if she has no children, to go to those of Lord Carlisle ; the Duke of Queensberry residuary legatee. Old French has died as foolishly as she lived, and left six thousand pounds to you don't know whom ; but to be raised out of her judicious collection of trumpery pictures, etc.
Pray, delight in the following story: Caroline Vernon, fille d'honneur, lost t'other night two hundred pounds at faro, and babe Martindale mark it up. He said he had rather have a draft on her banker. "oh! willingly;" and she gave him one. Next morning he hurried to Drummond's, lest all her money should be drawn out. said the clerk, "would you receive the contents immediately?" "Assuredly." "why, Sir, have you read the note?" Martindale took it; it was, "Pay to the bearer two hundred blows, well applied." The nymph tells the story herself; and yet I think the clerk had the more humour of the two.
The Gunninghiad(727) draws to a conclusion. The General, a few weeks ago, to prove the equality of his daughter to any match, literally put into the newspapers, that he himself is the thirty-second descendant in a line from Charlemagne;—oui, vraiment! Yet he had better have, like Prior's Madam,
"To cut things short, gone up to Adam,"
However, this Carlovingian hero does not allow that the letters are forgeries, and rather suspects the novelist, his lady(728) for the authoress; and if she is, probably Miss Charlemagne is not quite innocent of the plot: though she still maintains that her mother-in-law elect did give her much encouragement; which, considering her grace's conduct about her children, is not the most incredible part of this strange story. I have written this at twice, and will now rest.
I wish that complaining of people for abandoning me were an infallible receipt for bringing them back! but I doubt it will not do in acute cases. To-day, a few hours after %writing the latter part of this, appeared Mr. Batt. He asked many pardons, and I easily forgave him; for the mortification was not begun. He asked much after you both. I had a crowd of visits besides; but they all come past two o'clock, and sweep one another away before any can take root. My evenings are solitary enough, for I ask nobody to come; nor, indeed, does any body's evening begin till I am going to bed. I have Outlived daylight, as well as my contemporaries. What have I not survived? The Jesuits and the monarchy of France! and both without a struggle! Semiramis seems to intend to add Constantinople to the mass of revolutions ; but is not her permanence almost as wonderful as the contrary explosions! I wish—I wish we may not be actually flippancying ourselves into an embroil with that Ursa-major of the North Pole. What a vixen little island are we, if we fight wit the Aurora Borealis and Tippo Saib at the end of Asia at the same time! You, damsels, will be like the end of the conundrum, "You've seen the man who saw the wondrous sights."
I cannot finish this with my own hand, for the gout has returned a little into my right arm and wrist, and I am not quite so well as I was yesterday; but I had said my say, and had little to add. The Duchess of Gordon, t'other night, coming out of an assembly, said to Dundas, "Mr. Dundas, you are used to speak in public; will you call my servant?"
Here I receive your long letter of the 7th, 9th, and 10th, which it is impossible for me to answer now; there is one part to which I wish to reply, but must defer till next post, by which time I hope to have recovered my own pen. You ask about the house of Argyll. You know I have no connexion with them, nor any curiosity about them. Their relations and mine have been in town but four days, so I know little from them: Mrs. Grenville, to-day, told me the Duke proposes to continue the same life he used to lead, with a cribbage-table and his family. Every body admires the youngest daughter's(729) person and understanding. Adieu! I will begin to write again myself as soon as I can.
(725) This celebrated wit and amiable man died on the 25th of January, in his seventy-second year. He was member for Luggershall, surveyor-general of the crown lands, surveyor of the meltings and clerk of the irons in the Mint; "and," add the newspapers of the day, "receiver-general of wit and stray jokes." The following tribute to his memory appeared at the time:—
"If this gay Fav'rite lost, they yet can live, A tear to Selwyn let the Graces give! With rapid kindness teach Oblivion's pall O'er the sunk foibles of the man to fall And fondly dictate to a faithful Muse The prime distinction of the Friend they lose:— 'Twas Social Wit; which, never kindling strife, Blazed in the small, sweet courtesies of life; Those little sapphires round the diamond shone, Lending soft radiance to the richer stone."-E.
(726) Married in 1798, to the Earl of Yarmouth; who, in 1822, succeeded his father as third Marquis of Hertford.-E.
(727) Meaning the strange, imagined history Of a marriage supposed to have been likely to take place between Miss Gunning and the Marquis of Blandford.
(728) Mrs. Gunning was a Miss Minifie, of Fairwater, Somersetshire, and, before her marriage, had published several popular novels.-E.
(729) Lady Charlotte-Susan-Maria; married, first to Colonel John Campbell of Islay and, secondly to the Rev. Mr. Bury.-E.
Letter 366 To Miss Berry. Berkeley Square, Friday, Feb. 4, 1791. (page 470)
Last post I sent you as cheerful a letter, as I could, to convince you that I was recovering. This will be less gay; not because I have had a little return in both arms, but because I have much more pain in my mind than in my limbs. I see and thank you all for the kindness of your intention; but, as it has the contrary effect from what you expect, I am forced, for my own peace, to beseech you not to continue a manoeuvre that only tantalizes and wounds me. In your last you put together many friendly words to give me hopes of your return; but can I be' so blind as not to see that they are vague words? Did you mean to return in autumn, Would you not say so? would the most artful arrangement of words be so kind as those few simple ones? In fact, I have for some time seen how little you mean it; and, for your sakes, I cease to desire it. The pleasure you expressed at seeing Florence again, forgive me for saying, is the joy of sight merely; for can a little Italian town, and wretched Italian company, and travelling English lads and governors, be comparable to the choice of the best company of so vast a capital as London, unless you have taken an aversion to England? And your renewed transports at a less and still more insipid town, Pisa! These plainly told me your thoughts, which vague words cannot efface. You then dropped that you could let your London house till next Christmas, and then talked of a visit to Switzerland, and since all this, Mrs. Damer has warned me not to expect YOU till next Spring. I shall not; nor do I expect that next spring. I have little expected this next! My dearest Madam, I allow all my folly and Unreasonableness, and give them up and abandon them totally. I have most impertinently and absurdly tried, for my own sake merely, to exact from two young ladies, above forty years younger than myself, a promise of sacrificing their rooted inclinations to my whims and satisfaction. But my eyes are opened, my reason is returned, I condemn myself; and I now make you but one request, which is, that, though I am convinced it would be with the most friendly and good-natured meaning possible, I do implore you not to try to help me to delude myself any more. You never know half the shock it gave me when I learned from Mr. Batt, what you had concealed from me, your fixed resolution of going abroad last October; and though I did in vain deprecate it,—your coming to Twickenham in September, which I know, and from my inmost soul believe, was from mere compassion and kindness to me,-yet it did aggravate my parting with you.
I would not repeat all this, but to prevail with you, While I do live, and while you do condescend to have any friendship for me, never to let me deceive myself. I have no right to inquire into your plans, views or designs; and never will question you more about them. I shall deserve to be deluded if I do; but what you do please to say to me, I beg may be frank. I am, in every light, too weak to stand disappointment ow: I cannot be disappointed. You have a firmness that nothing shakes; and, therefore, it would be unjust to betray your good-nature into any degree of insincerity. You do nothing that is not reasonable and right; and I am conscious that you bore a thousand times more from my self-love and vanity, than any other two persons but yourselves would have supported with patience so long. Be assured that what I say I think, feel, and mean; derange none of your plans for me. I now wish you take no one step but What is conformable to your views, interest and satisfaction. It would hurt me to interfere with them -. I reproach myself with having so ungenerously tried to lay you under any difficulties, and I approve your resolution in adhering steadily to your point. Two posts ago I hinted that I was weaning myself from the anxiety of an attachment to two persons that must have been so uneasy to them, and has ended so sorrowfully to myself but that anxiety I restrict solely to the desire of your return: my friendship, had I years to live, could not alter or be shaken; and there is no kind of proof or instance of it that I will not give you both while I have breath.
I have vented what I had at my heart, and feel relieved. Do not take ill a word I have said. Be assured I can love you as much as ever I did, and do; and though I am no longer so Unjust as to prefer my own satisfaction to yours. Here I drop the subject; before Tuesday, perhaps, I shall be able to talk on some other.
Though the Parliament is met, and the town they say, full, I have not heard a tittle of news of any sort; and yet my prison is a coffeehouse in a morning, though I have been far from well this whole week. Yesterday and Saturday the gout was so painful in my right shoulder, that I could not stoop or turn round. To-day it is in my left elbow, and, I doubt, coming into my right foot: in short, it seems to be going its circle over again. I am not very sorry; sufferings reconcile one to parting with one's self.
One of our numerous tempests threw down Mrs. Damer's chimney last week, and it fell through her workshop; but fortunately touched none of her own works, and only broke two or three insignificant casts. I suppose you know she returns through Spain. This minute I have heard that Lord Lothian's daughter, Lady Mary St. John, and daughter-in-law of Lady Di Beauclerc, died yesterday, having been delivered of a fine boy but the day before. As you are curious to know the chief topic of conversation, it is the rival Opera-houses, neither of which are opened yet; both saying the other is fallen down. Taylor has published a pamphlet that does not prove that the Marquis(730) is the most upright Chamberlain that ever dropped from the skies, nor that the skies are quite true blue. Adieu! if no postscript tomorrow. None.
(730) of Salisbury.
Letter 367 To Miss Berry. Berkeley Square, Feb. 12, 1791. (page 472)
I have received your two letters of January 17th and 24th with an account of your objects and plans; and the latter are very much what I expected, as before you receive this you will have seen by my last, No. 18. Indeed, you most kindly offer to break SO far into your plan, as to return at the beginning of next winter; but as that would, as you say, not only be a sacrifice, but risk your healths, can any thing upon earth be more impossible than for me to accept or consent to such a sacrifice? Were I even in love with one of you, could I agree to it? and, being only a most zealous friend, do you think I will hear of it? Should I be a friend at all, if I wished you, for my sake, to travel in winter over mountains, or risk the storms at sea, that I have not forgotten when you went away? Can I desire you to derange a reasonable plan of economy, that would put you quite at your ease at your return? Have I any pretensions for expecting, still less for asking, such or any sacrifices? Have I interested myself in your affairs only to embarrass them?
I do, in the most. Positive and solemn manner, refuse to accept the smallest Sacrifice of any part of your plan, but the single point that would be so hard on me. I will not say a word more on your return, and beg your pardon for having been so selfish as to desire it: my only request now is, that we may say no more about it. I am grieved that the great distance we are at must make me still receive letters about it for some weeks. I shall not forget how very unreasonable I have been myself; nor shall I try to forget it, lest I should be silly again: but I earnestly desire to be totally silent on a subject that I have totally abandoned, and which it is not at all improbable I may never have occasion to renew.
I knew the Comte de Coigny(731) in the year 1766: he was then lively and jovial. I did not think he would turn out a writer, or even reader; but he was agreeable. I say nothing on France- you must know as much as I do, and probably sooner. I will only tell you, that my opinion is not altered in a tittle. What will happen I do not pretend to guess; but am thoroughly persuaded that the present system, if it can be called so, cannot take root. The flirts towards anarchy here have no effect at all. Horne Tooke before Christmas presented a saucy libel to the House of Commons, as a petition on his election. The House contemptuously voted it only frivolous and vexatious, and disappointed him of a ray of martyrdom; but his fees, etc. will cost him three or four hundred pounds, which never go into a mob's calculation of the ingredients of martyrdom.(732)
Monday morning, 14th.
I have a story to tell you, much too long to add to this; which I will send next post, unless I have leisure enough to-day, from people that call on me to finish it to-day, having begun it last night; and in that case I will direct it to Miss Agnes. Mr. Lysons the clergyman has just been here, and told me of a Welsh sportsman, a Jacobite, I suppose, who has very recently had his daughter christened Louisa Victoria Maria Sobieski Foxhunter Moll Boycot. The curate of the minister who baptized her confirmed the truth of it to Mr. Lysons. When Belgiojoso, the Austrian minister, was here, and thought he could write English, he sent a letter to Miss Kennedy, a woman of the town, that began, "My Kennedy Polly dear girl." Apropos—and not much—pray tell me whether the Cardinal of York calls himself King; and whether James the Eighth, Charles the Fourth, or what?
(731) a Great-uncle of the present Duc de Coigny.
(732) On the 5th of February, the committee appointed to try the merits of the petition, reported it to be frivolous and vexatious. Mr. Burke urged the necessity of taking some step against the author of it: but the subject was got rid of by a motion for the order of the day.-E.
Letter 368 To Miss Agnes Berry. Feb. 13, 1791. (page 474)
The following narrative, though only the termination of a legend of 'which you know the foregoing chapters, is too singular and too long to be added to my letter; and therefore, though you will receive two by the same post, you will not repine. In short, the Gunninghiad is completed—not by a marriage, like other novels of the Minifies.(733)
Voici how the d'enouement happened. Another supposed love-letter had come from the Marquis(734) within these few weeks; which was so improbable, that it raised more suspicions, and was more closely examined; and thence was discovered to have been both altered and interlined. On this the General sent all the letters down to the Marquis;(735) desiring to be certified of their authenticity, or the contrary. I should tell you, that all this has happened since the death of is sister; who kept up the high tone, and said, her brother was not a man to be trifled with. The Marquis immediately distinguished the two kinds; owned the few letters that disclaimed all inclination for Miss Charlemagne, disavowed the rest. Thence fell the General's wrath on his consort; of which I have told you.
However, the General and his ducal brother-in-law thought it expedient that Miss Charly's character should be cleared as far as possible; she still maintaining the prodigious encouragement she had received from the parents of her intended sposo. She was ordered to draw up a narrative, which should be laid before the Duke of Marlborough; and, if allowed by him, to be shown for her vindication. She obeyed; and her former assertions did not suffer by the new statement. But one singular circumstance was added: she confessed—ingenuous maid!—that, though she had not been able to resist so dazzling an offer, her heart was still her cousin's, the other Marquis.(736)
Well! this narrative, after being laid before a confidential junto at Argyll-house, was sent to Blenheim by the General, by his own groom. Judge of the astonishment of the junto, when Carloman, almost as soon as was possible, laid before them a short letter from the Prince of Mindleheim(737) declaring how delighted he and his Princess had been at their son's having made choice of so beautiful and amiable a virgin for his bride; how greatly they had encouraged the match; and how chagrined they were, that, from the lightness and inconstancy of his temper, the proposed alliance was quite at an end. This wonderful acquittal of the damsel the groom deposed he had received in half-an-hour after his arrival at Blenheim; and he gave the most natural and unembarrassed account of all the stages he had made, going and coming.
You may still suspect, and so did some of the council, that every tittle of this report and of the letter were not gospel: though I own, I thought the epistle not irreconcilable to other parts of the conduct of their graces about their children. Still, I defy you to guess a thousandth part of the marvellous explanation of the mystery.
The first circumstance that struck was, that the Duke, in his own son's name, had forgotten the d in the middle. That was possible in the hurry of doing justice. Next, the wax was black; and nobody could discover for whom such illustrious personages were in mourning. Well; that was no proof one way or other. Unluckily, somebody suggested that Lord Henry Spencer was in town, though to return the next day to Holland. A messenger was sent to him, though very late at night, to beg he would repair to Argyll-house. He did; the letter was shown to him; he laughed, and said it had not the least resemblance to his father's hand. This was negative detection enough; but now comes the most positive and wonderful unravelling!
The next day the General received a letter from a gentleman, confessing that his wife, a friend of Miss Charly, had lately received from her a copy of a most satisfactory testimonial from the Duke of Marlborough In her favour (though, note, the narrative was not then gone to Blenheim); and begging the gentlewoman's husband would transcribe it, and send it to her, as she wished to send it to a friend in the country. The husband had done so, but had had the precaution to write at top Copy; and before the signature had written, signed, M.—both which words Miss had erased, and then delivered the gentleman's identic transcript to the groom, to be brought back as from Blenheim: which the steady groom, on being examined anew, confessed; and that, being bribed, he had gone but one post, and invented the rest.
You will now pity the poor General, who has been a dupe from the beginning, and sheds floods of tears; nay, has actually turned his daughter out of doors, as she banished from Argyll-house too: and Lady Charlotte,(738) to her honour, speaks of her with the utmost Indignation. In fact, there never was a more extraordinary tissue of effrontery, folly, and imposture.
it is a strange but not a miraculous part of this strange story, that Gunnilda is actually harboured by, and lodges with, the old Duchess(739) in Pall-Mall, the grandmother of whom she has miscarried, and who was the first that was big with her. You may depend on the authenticity of this narrative, and may guess from whom I received all the circumstances, day by day; but pray, do not quote me for that reason, nor let it out of your hands, nor transcribe any part of it. The town knows the story confusedly, and a million of false readings there will be; but, though you know it exactly, do not send it back hither. You will, perhaps, be diverted by the various ways in which it will be related. Yours, etc. Eginhart, secretary to Charlemagne and the Princess Gunnilda, his daughter.
P. S. Bowen is the name of the gentleman who gave information of the letter sent to him to be copied, on hearing of the suspected forgeries. The whole Minifry are involved in the suspicions, as they defend the damsel, who still confesses nothing; and it is her mother, not she, who is supposed to have tampered with the groom; and is discarded, too, by her husband.
(733) The name of the family of Mrs. Gunning. See p. 469, letter 365.
(734) George Spencer Churchill, Marquis of Blandford; he succeeded his father as fourth Duke of Marlborough in 1817.-E.
(735) General Gunning was son of John Gunning, Esq. of Castle-Coole, in the county of Roscommon and brother of the beautiful Miss Gunning, married first, in 1752, to the Duke of Hamilton; and second, in 1759, to the Duke of Argyle.-E.
(736) George William Campbell, Marquis of Lorn. He succeeded his father as sixth Duke of Argyle in 1806-E.
(737) The Emperor Joseph, in 1705, bestowed on the great Duke of Marlborough the principality of Mindleheim, in Swabia.-E.
(738) Lady Charlotte Campbell. See p. 470, letter 365, note 729.-E.
(739) Gertrude, eldest daughter of John Earl Gower, Widow of John fourth Duke of Bedford.-E.
Letter 369 To The Earl Of Charlemont.(740) Berkeley Square, Feb. 17, 1791. (page 476)
It is difficult, my lord, with common language that has been so prostituted in compliments, to express the real sense of gratitude, which I do feel at my heart, for the obligation I have to your lordship for an act of friendship as unexpected as it was unsolicited; which last circumstance doubles the favour, as it evinces your lordship's generosity and nobleness of temper, without surprising me. How can I thank your lordship, as I ought, for interesting yourself, and of yourself, to save me a little mortification, which I deserve, and should deserve more, had I the vanity to imagine that my printing a few copies of my disgusting tragedy would occasion different and surreptitious editions of it?
Mr. Walker has acquainted me, my lord, that your lordship has most kindly interposed to prevent a bookseller of Dublin from printing an edition of "The Mysterious Mother" without my consent; and, with the conscious dignity of a great mind, your lordship has not even hinted to me the graciousness of that favour. How have I merited such condescending goodness, my lord? Had I a prospect of longer life, I never could pay the debt of gratitude; the weightier, as your lordship did not intend I should know that I owe it. My gratitude can never be effaced; and I am charmed that it is due, and due with so much honour to me, that nothing could bribe me to have less obligation to your lordship, of which I am so proud. But as to the play itself, I doubt it must take its fate. Mr. Walker tells me the booksellers have desired him to remonstrate to me, urging that they have already expended fifty pounds; and Mr. Walker adds, as no doubt would be the case, that should this edition be stifled, when now expected, some other printer would publish it. I certainly might indemnify the present operator, but I know too much of the craft, not to be sure, that I should be persecuted by similar exactions; and, alas! I have exposed myself but too much to the tyranny of the press, not to know that it taxes delinquents as well as multiplies their faults.
In truth, my lord, it is too late now to hinder copies of my play from being spread. It has appeared here, both whole and in fragments: and, to prevent a spurious one, I was forced to have some printed myself: therefore, if I consent to an Irish edition, it is from no vain desire of diffusing the performance. Indeed, my good lord, I have lived too long not to have divested myself both of vanity and affected modesty. I have not existed to past seventy-three without having discovered the futility and triflingness of my own talents: and, at the same time, it would be impertinent to pretend to think that there is no merit in the execution of a tragedy, on which I have been so much flattered; though I am sincere in condemning the egregious absurdity of selecting a subject so improper for the stage, and even offensive to private readers.
But I have said too much on a personal theme; and therefore, after repeating a million of thanks to your lordship for the honour of your interposition, I will beg your lordship, if you please, to signify to the bookseller that you withdraw your prohibition: but I shall not answer Mr. Walker's letter, till I have your lordship's approbation, for You are both my lord chamberlain 'and licenser; and though I have a tolerably independent spirit, I may safely trust myself under the absolute power of one, who has voluntarily protected me against the licentiousness of those who have invaded my property, and who distinguishes so accurately and justly between license and liberty.
(740) Now first collected. This letter was written in consequence of one Walpole had received, informing him that a Dublin bookseller was about to print his tragedy of The Mysterious Mother. At this time, and indeed until the Union took place, there was no act of parliament which regulated literary property in Ireland.-E.
Letter 370 To Miss Agnes Berry. Berkeley Square, Feb. 18, 1791. (page 477)
Here is a shocking, not a fatal, codicil to Gunnilda's story. But first I should tell you, that two days after the explosion, the ignora Madre took a postchaise and four, and drove to Blenheim; but, not finding the Duke and Duchess there, she inquired where the Marquis was, and pursued him to Sir Henry Dashwood's: finding him there, she began about her poor daughter; but he interrupted her, said there was an end put to all that, and desired to lead her to her chaise, which he insisted on doing, and did. I think this another symptom Of the Minifry being accomplices to the daughter's enterprises. Well! after the groom's confession, and after Mr. Bowen had been confronted with her, and produced to her face her note to his wife, which she resolutely disowned, she desired the Duke of Argyll to let her take an oath on the Bible of her perfect innocence of every Circumstance of the whole transaction; which you may be sure he did not permit. N'importe: the next day, taking two of the Duchess of Bedford's servants for witnesses, she went before a justice of peace, swore to her innocence and ignorance throughout, even of the note to Mrs. Bowen; and then said to the magistrate, "Sir, from my youth you may imagine I do not know the solemnity of an oath but, to convince you I do, I know my salvation depends on what I have now sworn." Solve all this, if you can! Is it madness? Does even romance extend its inventions so far? or its dispensations? It is but a burlesque part of this wonderful tale, that old crazy Bedford exhibits Miss every morning on the causeway in Hyde Park; and declares her proteg'ee some time ago refused the hand of your acquaintance, Mr. Trevelyan.(741) Except of the contending Opera-houses, one can hear of nothing but Miss Gunning,,; but it is now grown so disgusting a story, that I shall be glad to hear and repeat to you no more about it.
The Pantheon has opened, and is small, they say, but pretty and simple; all the rest ill-conducted, and from the singers to the sceneshifters imperfect; the dances long and bad, and the whole performance so dilatory and tedious, that it lasted from eight to half an hour past twelve. The rival theatre is said to be magnificent and lofty, but it is doubtful whether it will be suffered to come to light: in short, the contest will grow politics; Dieu et Mon Droit supporting the Pantheon, and Ich Dien countenancing the Haymarket. It is unlucky that the amplest receptacle is to hold the minority!
O'Hara(742) is come to town. You will love him better than ever. He persuaded the captain of the ship, whom you will love for being persuaded, to stop at Lisbon, that he might see Mrs. Damer. O'Hara has been shockingly treated! The House of Richmond is on the point of receiving a very great blow. Colonel Lenox, who had been dangerously ill but was better, has relapsed with all the worst symptoms;(743) and is too weak to be sent to the south, as the physicians recommended, Lady Charlotte is breeding, but that is very precarious; and should it be a son, how many years ere that can be a comfortable resource!
Is not it strange that London, in February and Parliament sitting, should furnish no more paragraphs? Yet, confined at home and in every body's way, and consequently my room being a coffee-house from two to four, I probably hear all events worth relating as soon as they are born, and send you them before they are a week old. Indeed, I think the Gunninhiana may last you a month at Pisa, where, I suppose, the grass grows in the streets as fast as news. When I go out again I am likely to know less: I go but to few, and those the privatest places I can find, which are not the common growth of London; nor, but to amuse you, should I inquire after news. What is a juvenile world to me; or its pleasures, interests, or squabbles? I scarce know the performers by sight.
It is very hard! The Gunnings will not let me or the town have done with them. La Madre has advertised a Letter to the Duke of Argyll: so he is forced to collect counter affidavits. The groom has 'deposed that she promised him twenty pounds a year for his life, and he has given up a letter that she wrote to him. The mother, when she went after the Marquis, would have persuaded him to get into her chaise; but he would not venture being carried to Gretna-green, and married by force. She then wanted him to sign a paper, that all was over between him and her daughter. He said, "Madam, nothing was ever begun;" and refused. I told you wrong: mother and daughter were not actually in the Duchess of Bedford's house, but in Lord John Russel's, which she lent to them: nor were her servants witnesses to the oath before Justice Hide, but Dr. Halifax and the apothecary. The Signora and her Infanta now, for privacy, are retired into St. James's-street, next door to Brooks's; whence it is supposed Miss will angle for unmarried Marquises-perhaps for Lord Titchfield.(744) It is lost time for people to write novels, who can compose such a romance as these good folks have invented. Adieu!
(741) Mr. Trevelyan married in the following August, Maria, daughter of Sir Thomas Spencer Wilson, Bart. On the death of his father, in 1828, he succeeded to the title, as fifth baronet.-E.
(742) Afterwards lieutenant- governor of Gibraltar. He died in 1802.
(743) Colonel Lenox recovered from his illness, and, in 1806, succeeded his uncle as fourth Duke of Richmond. His grace was governor of Canada at the period of his decease, at Montreal, in 1819; and was succeeded by the son here anticipated; who was born on the 3d of August 1791.-E.
(744) In 1795, the, Marquis of Titchfield married Miss Scott, eldest daughter and heir of General John Scott, of Balcomie, in the county of Fife, and in 1809, succeeded his father as fourth Duke of Portland.-E.
Letter 371. To The Miss Berrys. Berkeley Square, Feb. 26, 1791. (page 479)
I have no letter from you to answer, nor any thing new that is the least interesting to tell you. The Duke of Argyll has sent a gentleman with a cart-load of affidavits, which the latter read to mother and daughter, in order to prevent the publication of their libel; but it only enraged the former, -who vows she will print all she knows, that is, any thing she has heard by their entire intimacy in the family, or, no doubt, what she can invent or misrepresent. What a Medusa! There has been a fragment of a rehearsal in the Haymarket, but still the Pantheon remains master of the field of battle: the vanquished are preparing manifestoes, but they seldom recover the day.
Madame du Barry(745) is come over to recover her jewels, of which she has been robbed—not by the National Assembly, but by four Jews who have been seized here and committed to Newgate. Though the late Lord Barrymore acknowledged her husband to be of his noble blood, will she own the present Earl for a relation, when she finds him turned strolling player!(746) If she regains her diamonds, perhaps Mrs. Hastings may carry her to court.(747)
If you want bigger events, you may send to the Russian army, who will cut you fifteen thousand throats in a paragraph; or, en attendant, you may piddle with the havoc made at Chantilly, which has been half demolished by the rights of men, as the poor old Mesdames have been stopped by the rights of the poissardes; for, as it is true that extremes meet, the moment despotism was hurled from the throne, it devolved to the mob, whose majesties, not being able to write their names, do not issue lettres de cachet, but execute their wills with their own hands; for hanging, which degrades an executioner, ne deroge pas in sovereigns—witness the Czar Peter the Great, Muley Ishmael, and many religious and gracious African monarchs.
After eleven weeks of close confinement, I went out yesterday to take the air; but was soon driven back by rain and sleet, which soon ripened to a tempest of wind and snow, and continued all night - it does not freeze, but blows so hard, that I shall sally out no more tilt the weather has recovered its temper-I do not mean that I expect Pisan skies.
It was on Saturday that I began this; it is now Monday, and I have no letter from you, though we have had dozens of east winds. I am sorry to find that it costs above six weeks to say a word at Pisa and have an answer in London. This makes correspondence very uncomfortable; you will be talking to me of Miss Gunning, when, perhaps, she may be sent to Botany Bay, and be as much forgotten here as the Monster.(748) Still she has been a great resource this winter; for, though London is apt to produce Wilkeses, and George Gordons, and Mrs. Rudds, and Horne Tookes, and other phenomena, wet and dry, the, present season has been very unprolific; and we are forced to import French news, as we used to do fashions and Operas comiques. The Mesdames are actually set out: I shall be glad to hear they are safe at Turin, for are there no poissardes but at Paris?(749) Natio poissarda est.
Mr. Gibbon writes that he has seen Necker, and found him still devoured by ambition.(750) and I should think by mortification at the foolish figure he has made. Gibbon admires Burke to the skies, and even the religious parts, he says.(751)
The east winds are making me amends -, one of them has brought me twins. I am sorry to find that even Pisa's sky is not quite sovereign, but that you have both been out of order, though, thank God! quite recovered both, If a Florentine March is at all like an English one, I hope you will not remove thither till April. Some of its months, I am sure, were sharper than those of our common wear are. Pray be quite easy about me: I am entirely recovered, though, if change were bad, we have scarce had one day without every variety of bad weather, with a momentary leaf-gold of sun. I have been out three times, and to-day have made five and-twenty visits, and was let in at six; and, though a little fatigued, am still able, you see, to finish my letter. You seem to think I palliated my illness - I certainly did not tell you that I thought it doubtful how it would end; yet I told you all & circumstances, and surely did not speak sanguinely.
I wish, in No. 20, you had not again named October or November. I have quite given up those months, and am vexed I ever pressed for them, as they would break into Your reasonable plans, for which I abandon any foolish ones of my own. But I am a poor philosopher, or rather am like all philosophers, have no presence of mind, and must study my part before I can act it. I have now settled myself not to expect you this year-do not unsettle me: I dread a disappointment, as I do a relapse of the gout; and therefore cut this article short, that I may not indulge vain hopes, My affection for you both is unalterable; can I give so strong a proof as by supplicating you, as I do earnestly, to act as is most prudent for your healths and interest? A long journey in November would be the very worst part you could take. and I beseech you not to think of it: for me, you see I take a great deal of killing, nor is it so easy to die as is imagined.
Thank you, my dearest Miss Agnes, for your postscript. I love to see your handwriting; and yet do not press for it, as you are shy: though I address myself equally to both, and consult the healths of both In what I have recommended above. Here is a postscript for yours: Madame du Barry was to go and swear to her jewels before the Lord Mayor. Boydell, who is a little better bred than Monsieur Bailly,(752) made excuses for being obliged to administer the oath chez lui, but begged she would name her hour; and, when she did, he fetched her himself in the state-coach, and had a mayor-royal banquet ready for her.(753) She has got most of her jewels again. I want the King to send her four Jews to the National Assembly, and tell them it is the change or la monnoie of Lord George Gordon, the Israelite.
Colonel Lenox is much better: the Duchess of Leinster had a letter from Goodwood to-day which says he rides out. I am glad you do. I said nothing on "the Charming-man's" poem. I fear I said too much to him myself. He said, others liked it: and showed me a note from Mr. Burke, that was hyperbole itself. I wish him so well, that I am sorry he should be so flattered, when, in truth, he has no genius.(754) There is no novelty, no plan, and no suite in his poetry: though many of the lines are pretty. Dr. Darwin alone can exceed his predecessors.
Let me repeat to both, that distance of place and time can make no alteration in my friendship. It grew from esteem for your characters, and understandings, and tempers; and became affection from your good-natured attentions 'to me, where there is so vast a disproportion in our ages. Indeed, that complaisance spoiled me; but I have weaned myself of my own self-love, and you shall hear no more of its dictates.
(745) The last mistress of Louis; the Fifteenth. The Count du Barry who had disgraced his name by marrying her, claimed to be of the same family with the Earls of Barrymore in Ireland.-E.
(746) See ante, p. 452, letter 354.
(747) Mrs. Hastings was supposed, by the party violence of the day, to have received immense bribes in diamonds.
(748) A vagabond so called, from his going about attempting to stab at women with a knife. His first aim had probably been at their Pockets, which having in several instances missed and wounded his intended victims, fear and a love of the marvellous dubbed him with the name of the Monster. The wretch, whose name was Renwick Williams, was tried for the offence at the Old Bailey, in July 1790, and found guilty of a misdemeanour.-E.
(749) After numerous interruptions, the King's aunts were permitted by the National Assembly to proceed to Italy.-E.
(750) "I have passed," says Gibbon, in a letter to Lord Sheffield, "four days at the castle of Copet with Necker; and could have wished to have shown him as a warning to any aspiring youth possessed with the demon of ambition. With all the means of private happiness in his power, he is the most miserable of human beings; the past, the present, and the future, are equally odious to him. When I suggested some domestic amusement of books, building, etc. he answered, with a deep tone Of despair, 'Dans l''etat o'u je suis, je ne puis sentir que le coup de vent qui m'a abbatu.' How different from the conscious cheerfulness with which our friend Lord North supported his fall! Madame Necker maintains more external composure, mais le diable n'y perd rien. It is true that Necker wished to be carried into the closet, like old Pitt, on the shoulders of the people, and that he has been ruined by the democracy which he had raised. I believe him to be an able financier and know him to be an honest man."-E.
(751) The following are Gibbon's expressions:—"Burke's book is a most admirable medicine against the French disease; which has made too much progress even in this happy country. I admire his eloquence, I approve his politics, I adore his Chivalry, and I can forgive even his superstition."-E.
(752) M. Bailly, the learned astronomer. He was president of the first National Assembly, and in July 1789, appointed mayor of Paris; in which situation he gave great offence to the people, in July 1791, by ordering martial law to be proclaimed against a mob which had assembled in the Champ de Mars to frame an address, recommending the deposition of Louis. For this step, which was approved of by the Assembly, he was arrested, tried, condemned, and put to death on the 11th of November 1793. The details of this event are horrible. "The weather," says M. Thiers, "was cold and rainy, Conducted on foot, he manifested the utmost composure amidst the insults of a barbarous populace, whom he had fed while he +was mayor. On reaching the foot of the scaffold, one of the wretches cried out, that the field of' the federation ought not to be polluted by his blood. The people instantly rushed upon the guillotine, bore it off, and erected it again upon a dunghill on the bank of the Seine, and opposite to the spot where Bailly had passed his life and composed his invaluable works. This operation lasted some hours: meanwhile, he was compelled to walk several times round the Champ de Mars, bareheaded, and with his hands pinioned behind him. Some pelted him with mud, others kicked and struck him with sticks. He fell exhausted. They lifted him up again. 'Thou tremblest!' said a soldier to him. 'My friend,' replied the old man, 'it is cold.' At length he was delivered over to the executioner; and another illustrious scholar, and one of the most virtuous of men, was then taken from it." Vol. iii. p. 207-E.
(753) See post, p. 484.-E.
(754) Mr. Gifford was of Walpole's opinion, and has, in consequence, accorded to " The Charming-man" a prominent situation in the Baviad:—
"See snivilling Jerningham at fifty weep O'er love-lorn oxen and deserted sheep."
To the poem here alluded to, and which was entitled "Peace, Ignominy, and Destruction," the satirist thus alludes:-"I thought I understood something of faces; but I must read my Lavater over again I find. That a gentleman, with the physionomie 2d'un mouton qui r'eve,' should suddenly start up a new Tyrtaeus, and pour a dreadful note, through a cracked war-trump, amazes me: well, fronti nulla fides shall henceforth be my motto' In a note to the Pursuits of Literature, Mr. Mathias directs the attention of Jerningham to the following beautiful lines in Dryden's Epistle to Mr. Julien, Secretary of the Muses:—
"All his care Is to be thought a Poet fine and fair; Small beer and gruel are his meat and drink, The diet he prescribes himself to think; Rhyme next his heart he takes at morning peep, Some love-epistles at the hour of sleep; And when his passion has been bubbling long, The scum at last boils Up into a song." —E.
Letter 372 To The Miss Berrys. Berkeley Square, March 5, 1791. (page 483)
One may live in a vast capital, and know no more of three parts of it than of Carthage. When I was at Florence, I have surprised some Florentines by telling them, that London was built, like their city, (where you often cross the bridges several times in a day,) on each side of the river: and yet that I had never been but on one side; for then I had never been in Southwark. When I was very young, and in the height of the opposition to my father, my mother wanted a large parcel of bugles; for what use I forget. As they were then out of fashion, she could get none. At last, she was told of a quantity in a little shop in an obscure alley in the City. We drove thither; found a great stock; she bought it, and bade the proprietor send it home. He said, "Whither?" "To Sir Robert Walpole's." He asked coolly, "Who is Sir Robert Walpole?"
This is very like Cambridge, who tells you three stories to make you understand a fourth. In short, t'other morning a gentleman made me a visit, and asked if I had heard of the great misfortune that had happened? The Albion Mills are burnt down. I asked where they were; supposing they were powder-mills in the country, that had blown up. I had literally never seen or heard of the spacious lofty building at the end of Blackfriars Bridge. At first it was supposed maliciously burnt, and it is certain the mob stood and enjoyed the conflagration, as of a monopoly; but it had been on fire, and it was thought extinguished. The building had cost a hundred thousand Pounds; and the loss in corn and flour is calculated at a hundred and forty thousand. I do not answer for the truth of the sums; but it is certain that the Palace-yard and part of St. James's Park were covered with half-burnt grain.(755)
This accident, and my introduction, have helped me to a good part Of my letter; for you must have observed, that even in this overgrown town the winter has not been productive of events. Good night! I have two days to wait for a letter that I may answer. Stay -, I should tell you, that I have been at Sir Joseph Banks's literary saturnalia,(756) where was a Parisian watchmaker, who produced the smallest autoMaton that I suppose was ever created. It was a rich snuffbox, not too large for a woman. On opening the lid, an enamelled bird started up, sat on the rim, turned round, fluttered its wings, and piped in a delightful tone the notes of different birds; particularly the jug-jug of the nightingale. It is the prettiest plaything you ever saw; the price tempting—only five hundred pounds. That economist, the Prince of Wales, could not resist it, and has bought one of those dickybirds. If the maker finds such customers, he will not end like one of his profession here, who made the serpent in Orpheus and Eurydice;(757) and who fell so deeply in love with his own works, that he did nothing afterwards but make serpents, of all sorts and sizes, till he was ruined and broke. I have not a tittle to add-but that the Lord Mayor did not fetch Madame du Barry in the City-royal coach; but kept her to dinner. She is gone; but returns in April.
(755) The fire took place on the morning of the 2d of March. There was no reason for any particular suspicion, except the general dislike in the lower classes of the people, arising from a notion, that the undertaking enhanced the price of corn and decreased the value of labour.-E.
(756) Sir Joseph Banks, while President of the Royal Society, had a weekly evening reception of all persons distinguished in science or the arts.
(757) A celebrated opera.
Letter 373 To Miss Berry. Strawberry Hill, Saturday, March 19, 1791. (page 484)
I did not begin my letter on customary Friday , because I had nothing new to tell or to say. The town lies fallow—not an incident worth repeating as far as I know. Parliament manufactures only bills, not politics. I never understood any thing useful; and, now that my time and connexions are shrunk to so narrow a compass, what business have I with business? As I have mended considerably for the last four days, and as we have had a fortnight of soft warm weather, and a southwest wind to-day, I have ventured hither for change Of air, and to give orders about some repairs at Cliveden; which, by the way, Mr. Henry Bunbury, two days ago, proposed to take off my hands for his life. I really do not think I accepted his offer. I shall return to town on Monday, and hope to find a letter to answer—or what will this do?
Berkeley Square, Monday evening.
I am returned and find the only letter I dreaded, and the only one, I trust, that I shall ever not be impatient to receive from you. Though ten thousand times kinder than I deserve, it wounds my heart: as I find I have hurt two of the persons I love the best upon earth', and whom I am most constantly studying to please and serve. That I soon repented of my murmurs, you have seen by my subsequent letters. The truth, as you may have perceived, though no excuse, was, that I had thought myself dying, and should never see you more; that I was extremely weak and low, when Mrs. Damer's letter arrived, and mentioned her supposing that I should not see you till spring twelvemonth. That terrible sentence recalled Mr. Batt's being the first to assure me of your going abroad, when I had concluded you had laid aside the design. I did sincerely allow that in both instances you had acted from tenderness in concealing your intentions; but, as I knew I could better bear the information from yourselves than from others, I thought it unfriendly to let me learn from others what interested me so deeply: yet I do not in the least excuse my conduct; no, I condemn it in every light, and shall never forgive myself if you do not promise me to be guided entirely by your own convenience and inclinations about your return. I am perfectly well again, and just as likely to live one year as half an one. Indulge your pleasure in being abroad while you are there. I am now reasonable enough to enjoy your happiness as my own; and, since you are most kind when I least deserve it, how can I express my gratitude for giving up the scruple that was so distressing to me! Convince me you are in earnest by giving me notice that you will write to Charingcross while the Neapolitans are at Florence.(758) I will look on that as a clearer proof of your forgiving my criminal letter, than your return before you like it. It is most sure that nothing is more solid or less personal than my friendship for you two; and even my complaining letter, though unjust and unreasonable, proved that the nearer I thought myself to quitting the world, the more my heart was set on my two friends; nay, they had occupied the busiest moments of my illness as well as the most fretful ones. Forgive then, my dearest friends, what could proceed from nothing but too impatient affection. You say most truly you did not deserve my complaints: your patience and temper under them make me but more in the wrong; and to have hurt you, who have known but too much grief, is such a contradiction to the whole turn of my mind ever since I knew you, that I believe my weakness from illness was beyond even what I suspected. It is sure that, when I am in my perfect senses, the whole bent of my thoughts is to promote your and your sister's felicity; and you know nothing can give me satisfaction like your allowing me to be of use to you. I speak honestly, notwithstanding my unjust letter; I had rather serve you than see you. Here let me finish this subject: I do not think I shall be faulty to you again.
The Mother Gunning has published her letter to the Duke of Argyll, and it disappoints every body. It is neither romantic, nor entertaining, nor abusive, but on the General and Mr. and Mrs. Bowen, and the General's groom. On the Bowens it is so immeasurably scurrilous, that I think they must prosecute her. She accuses them and her husband of a conspiracy to betray and ruin his own daughter, without, even attempting to assign a motive to them. Of the House of Argyll she says not a word. In short, it is a most dull incoherent rhapsody, that gives no account at all of the story that gave origin to her book, and at which no mortal could guess from it; and the 246 pages contain nothing but invectives on her four supposed enemies, and endless tiresome encomiums on the virtues of her glorious darling, and the unspottable innocence of that harmless lambkin. I would not even send it to you if I had an opportunity-you would not have patience to go through it; and there, I suppose, the absurd legend will end. I am heartily tired of it. Adieu!
P. S. That ever I should give you two an uneasy moment! Oh! forgive me: yet I do not deserve pardon in my own eyes: and less in my own heart.
(758) His correspondents, to settle his mind as to the certainty of their return at the time they had promised, had assured him, that no financial difficulties should stand in the way; which is what he means by sending to Charing-cross (to Drummond his banker), No such difficulties occurred. The correspondence, therefore, with Charing-cross never took place-M.B.
Letter 374 To The Miss Berrys. Berkeley Square, Sunday, March 27, 1791. (page 486)
Though I begin my despatch to-day, I think I shall change my post-days, as I hinted from Tuesdays to Fridays; not only as more commodious for learning news for you, but as I do not receive your letters generally but on Mondays, I have less time to answer. I have an additional reason for delay this week. Mr. Pitt has notified that he is to deliver a message from the King to-morrow, to the House of Commons on the situation of Europe; and should there be a long debate, I may not gather the particulars till Tuesday morning, and if my levee lasts late, shall not have time to write to you. Oh! now are you all impatience to hear that message: I am sorry to say that I fear it will be a warlike one. The Autocratrix swears, d-n her eyes! she will hack her way to Constantinople through the blood of one hundred thousand more Turks, and that we are very impertinent for sending her a card with a sprig of olive. On the other hand, Prussia bounces and buffs and claims our promise of helping him to make peace by helping him to make war; and so, in the most charitable and pacific way in the world, we are, they say, to send twenty ships to the Baltic, and half as many to the Black Sea,-this little Britain, commonly called Great Britain, is to dictate to Petersburg and Bengal and cover Constantinople under those wings that reach from the North Pole to the farthest East! I am mighty sorry for it, and hope we shall not prove a jackdaw that pretends to dress himself in the plumes of imperial eagles!
If we bounce abroad, we are more forgiving at home: a gentleman who lives at the east end of St. James's Park has been sent for by a lady who has a large house at the west end,(759) and they have kissed and are friends; which he notified by toasting her health in a bumper at a club the other day. I know no circumstances, but am glad of it; I love peace, public or private: not so the chieftains of the contending theatres of harmony. Taylor, in wondrous respectful terms and full of affliction, has printed in the newspapers an advertisement, declaring that the Marquis's honour the Lord Chamberlain(760) did in one season, and that an unprofitable one, send orders (you know, that is tickets of admission without paying) into the Opera-house, to the loss of the managers of four hundred pounds- -servants, it is supposed, and Hertfordshire voters eke: and moreover, that it has been sworn in Chancery that his lordship, not as lord chamberlain, has stipulated with Gallini and O'Reilly that he, his heirs and assigns, should preserve the power of giving those detrimental orders in perpetuity. The immunity is a little new: former chamberlains, it seems even durante officio, have not exercised the privilege—if they had it.
One word more of the Gunnings. Captain Bowen informed the authoress, by the channel of the papers, that he shall prosecute her for the libel. She answered, by the same conveyance, that she is extremely glad of it. But there is a difficulty-unless the prosecution is criminal, it is thought that Madam being femme couverte, the charge must be brought against her husband; and, to be sure, it would be droll that the General should be attached for not hindering his wife from writing a libel, that is more virulent against him himself than any body! Another little circumstance has come out: till the other day he did not know that he had claimed descent from Charlemagne in the newspapers; which, therefore, is referred to the same manufacture as the other forgeries. The General said, "It is true I am well born; but I know no such family in Ireland as the Charlemagnes."
Lord Ossory has just been here, and told me that Gunnilda has written to Lord Blandford, in her own name and hand, begging his pardon (for promising herself marriage in his name), but imputing the first thought to his grandmother, whom she probably inspired to think of it. This letter the Duchess of Marlborough carried to the Duchess of Bedford, to open her eyes on her proteg'ee, but with not much success; for what signify eyes, when the rest of the head is gone? She only said, "You may be easy, for both mother and daughter, are gone to France"—no doubt, on finding her grace's money not so forthcoming as her countenance, and terrified by Captain Bowen's prosecution and there, I hope, will terminate that strange story; for in France there is not a marquis left to marry her. One has heard Of nothing else these seven months; and it requires some ingenuity to keep up the attention of such a capital as London for above half a year together. I supped on Thursday at Mrs. Buller's with the conways and Mount-Edgcumbes; and the next night at Lady Ailesbury's with the same company, and Lady Augusta Clavering.(761) You know, on the famous night at your house when Gunnilda pretended that her father had received Lord Blandford's appointment of the wedding-day, we suspected, when they were gone, that we had seen doubts in Lady Augusta's face, and I desired her uncle, Lord Frederick, to ask her if we had guessed right; but she protests she had then no suspicion.
I have determined to send this away on Tuesday, whether I know the details of the temple of Janus to-morrow in time or not, that you may give yourself airs of importance, if the Turin ministers pretend to tell you news of your own country that you do not know. You may say, your charg'e des affaires sent you word of the King's message; and you may be mysterious about the rest; for mystery in the diplomatic dictionary is construed as knowledge, though, like a Hebrew word, it means the reverse too.
I have been at White Pussy's(762) this evening. She asked much after you. I did not think her lord looked as if he would drive Prince Potemkin out of Bulgaria; but we trust that a new Frederick of Prussia and a new William Pitt will. Could they lay Catherine in the Black Sea, as ghosts used to be laid in the Red, the world would be obliged to them.
(759) The Queen and the Prince of Wales.
(760) The Marquis of Salisbury.
(761) Eldest daughter of John Duke of Argyle.
(762) Elizabeth Cary, wife of Lord Amherst, at this time commander-in-chief.
Letter 375 To Miss Berry. Strawberry Hill, Sunday night, April 3, 1791. (page 488)
Oh! what a shocking accident! Oh! how I detest your going abroad more than I have done yet in my crossest mood! You escaped the storm on the 10th of October, that gave me such an alarm; you passed unhurt through the cannibals of France and their republic of larrons and poissardes, who terrified me sufficiently; but I never expected that you would dash yourself to pieces at Pisa!(763) You say I love truth, and that you have told me the exact truth: but how can fear believe!