How I hate a party of pleasure! It never turns out well: fools fall out, and sensible People fall down! Still I thank you a million of' times for writing yourself. If Miss Agnes had written for you, I confess I should have been ten times more alarmed than I am; and yet I am alarmed enough.
Not to torment you more with my fears, when I hope you are almost recovered, I will answer the rest of your letter. General O'Hara I have unluckily not met yet. He is so dispersed, and I am so confined in my resorts and so seldom dine from home, that I have not seen him, even at General Conway's. When I do, can you imagine that we shall not talk of you two—yes; and your accident, I am. sure, will be the chief topic. As our fleets are to dethrone Catherine Petruchia, O'Hara will probably not be sent to Siberia. Apropos to Catherine and Petruchio. I supped with their representatives, Kemble and Mrs. Siddons, t'other night at Miss Farren's: the Hothams(764) were there too, and Mrs. Anderson,(765) who treated the players with acting as many characters as ever they did, particularly Gunnilda and Lady Clackmannan.(766) Mrs. Siddons is leaner, but looks well: she has played Jane Shore and Desdemona, and is to play in the Gamester; all the parts she will act this year. Kemble, they say, shone in Othello.
Mrs. Damer has been received at Elvas with all military honours, and a banquet, by order of Mello, formerly ambassador here. It was handsome in him, but must have distressed her, who is so void of ostentation and love of show. Miss Boyle,(767) who no more than Miss Pulteney,(768) has let herself be snapped up by lovers of her fortune, is going to Italy for a year with Lord and Lady Malden.(769)
Berkeley Square, Monday after dinner.
Mirabeau is dead;(770) ay, miraculously; for it was of a putrid fever (that began in his heart). Dr. Price is dying also.(771) That Mr. Berry, with so much good nature and good sense should be staggered, I do not wonder. Nobody is more devoted to liberty than I am. It is therefore that I abhor the National Assembly, whose outrageous violence has given, I fear, a lasting wound to the cause; for anarchy is despotism in the hands of thousands. A lion attacks but when hungry or provoked; but who can live in a desert full of hyennas?—nobody but Mr. Bruce; and we have only his word for it. Here is started up another corsair; one Paine, from America, who has published an answer to Mr. Burke.(7722) His doctrines go to the extremity of levelling and his style is so coarse, that you would think he meant to degrade the language as much as the government: here is one of his delicate paragraphs:—"We do not want a king, or lords of the bedchamber, or lords of the kitchen," etc. This rhetoric, I suppose, was calculated for our poissardes.
(763) Miss Berry had fallen down a bank in the neighbourhood of Pisa, and received a severe cut on the nose.
(764) Sir Charles Hotham Thompson, married to Lady Dorothy Hobart, sister of John second Earl of Buckinghamshire.
(765) A daughter of Lady Cecilia Johnstone's, married to a brother of Charles Anderson Pelham, Lord Garborough.
(766) A nickname, which had been given by the writer to a lady of the society.
(767)Afterwards married to Lord Henry Fitzgerald.
(768) Afterwards married to Sir James Murray.
(769) Lord Malden, afterwards Earl of Essex, was a first cousin of Miss Boyle. This journey did not take place.
(770) Mirabeau died on the 2d of April, at the age of forty-two, a victim to his own debaucheries. His friend, M. Dupont, says of him, that, "trusting to the strength of his constitution he gave himself up, without restraint, to every kind of pleasure." Madame de Stael states, that he suffered cruelly in the last days of his life, and when no longer able to speak, wrote to his physician for a dose OF opium, in the words of Hamlet, "to die—to sleep!" His obsequies were celebrated with great pomp, and his body placed in the Pantheon, by the side of that of Descartes. In two short years his ashes were removed, by order of the Convention, and scattered abroad by the populace; who, at the same time, burned his bust in the Place de Gr'eve.-E.
(771) Dr. Price died on the 19th of April.-E.
(772) This was the first part of the " Rights of Man," in answer to the celebrated "Reflections." At the commencement of the year Paine had published in Paris, under the borrowed name of Achille Duchatellet, a tract recommending the abolition of royalty.-E.
Letter 376 To Miss Berry. Berkeley Square, Friday night, April 15, 1791. (page 490)
My preface will be short; for I have nothing to tell, and a great deal that I am waiting patiently to hear; all which, however, may be couched in these two phrases,-,, I am quite recovered of my fall, and my nose will not be the worse for it"—for with all my pretences, I cannot help having that nose a little upon my spirits; though if it were flat, I should love it as much as ever, for the sake of the head and heart that belong to it. I have seen O'Hara, with his face as ruddy and black, and his teeth as white as ever; and as fond of you two, and as grieved for your fall, as any body—but I. He has got a better regiment.
Strawberry Hill, Sunday night, past eleven.
You chose your time ill for going abroad this year: England never saw such a spring since it was fifteen years old. The warmth, blossoms, and verdure are unparalleled. I am just come from Richmond, having first called on Lady Di. who is designing and painting pictures for prints to Dryden's Fables.(773) Oh! she has done two most beautiful; one of Emily walking in the garden, and Palamon seeing her from the tower: the other, a noble, free composition of Theseus parting the rivals, when fighting in the wood. They are not, as you will imagine, at all like the pictures in the Shakspeare Gallery: no; they are -worthy of Dryden.
I can tell you nothing at all certain with our war with Russia. If one believes the weather-glass of the stocks, it will be peace; they had fallen to 71, and are risen again, and soberly, to 79. Fawkener" clerk of the council, sets out to-day or to-morrow for Berlin; probably, I hope, with an excuse. In the present case, I had much rather our ministers were bullies than heroes: no mortal likes the war. The court-majority lost thirteen of its former number at the beginning of the week, which put the Opposition into spirits; but, put pursuing their motions on Friday, twelve of the thirteen were recovered.(774) Lord Onslow told me just now, at Madame de BOufflers's, that Lady Salisbury was brought to bed of a son and heir(775) last night, two hours after she came from the Opera; and that Madame du Barry dined yesterday with the Prince of Wales, at the Duke of Queensberry's, at Richmond. Thus you have all my news, such as it is ; and I flatter myself no English at Pisa or Florence can boast of better intelligence than you—but for you, should I care about Madame du Barry or my Lady Salisbury, or which of them lies in or lies out?
Berkeley Square, Monday, April 18.
Oh! what a dear letter have I found, and from both at once; and with such a delightful bulletin! I should not be pleased with the idleness of the pencil, were it not owing to the chapter of health, which I prefer to every thing. You order me to be particular about my own health: I have nothing to say about it, but that it is as good as before my last fit. Can I expect or desire more at my age? My ambition is to pass a summer, with you two established at Cliveden. I shall not reject more if they come; but one must not be presumptuous at seventy-three; and though my eyes, ears, teeth, motion, have still lasted to make life comfortable, I do not know that I should be enchanted if surviving any of them ; and, having no desire to become a philosopher, I had rather be naturally cheerful than affectedly so: for patience I take to be only a resolution of holding one's tongue, and not complaining of what one feels-for does one feel or think the less for not owning it?
Though London increases every day, and Mr. Herschell has just discovered a new square or circus somewhere by the New Road in .the Via Lactea, where the cows used to be fed, I believe you will think the town cannot hold all its inhabitants; so prodigiously the population is augmented. I have twice been going to stop my coach in Piccadilly, (and the same has happened to Lady Ailesbury,) thinking there was a mob; and it was only nymphs and swains sauntering or trudging. T'other morning, i. e. at two o'clock, I went to see Mrs. Garrick and Miss Hannah More at the Adelphi, and was stopped five times before I reached Northumberland-house; for the tides of coaches, chariots, curricles, phaetons, etc. are endless. Indeed, the town is so extended, that the breed of chairs is almost lost ; for Hercules and Atlas could not carry any body from one end of this enormous capital to the other. How magnified would be the error of the young woman at St. Helena, who, some said years ago, to a captain of an Indiaman, "I suppose London is very empty, when the India ships come out." Don't make Me excuses, then, for short letters; nor trouble yourself a moment to lengthen them. YOU Compare little towns to quiet times, which do not feed history ; and most justly. If the vagaries of' London can be comprised once a week in three or four pages of small quarto paper, and not always that, how should little Pisa furnish an equal export? When Pisa *was at war with the rival republic of Milan, Machiavel was put to it to describe a battle, the slaughter in which amounted to one man slain; and he was trampled to death, by being thrown down and battered in his husk of complete armour; as I remember reading above fifty years ago at Florence.
Eleven at night.
Oh! mercy! I am just come from Mrs. Buller's, having left a very pleasant set at Lady Herries'(776)—and for such a collection Eight or ten women and girls, not one of whom I knew by sight: a German Count., as stiff and upright as the inflexible Dowager of Beaufort: a fat Dean and his wife, he speaking Cornish, and of having dined to-day at Lambeth; four young officers, friends of the boy Buller,(777) who played with one of them at tric-trac, while the others made with the Misses a still more noisy commerce; and not a creature but Mrs. Cholmondeley, who went away immediately, and her son, who was speechless with the headache, that I was the least acquainted with: and, to add to my sufferings, the Count would talk to me of les beaux arts, of which he knows no more than an oyster. At last, came in Mrs. Blair, whom I knew as little; but she asked so kindly after you two, and was so anxious about your fall and return, that I grew quite fond of her, and beg you would love her for my sake, as I do for yours. Good night!
I have this moment received a card from the Duchess-Dowager of Ancaster, to summon me for to-morrow at three o'clock—I suppose to sign Lord Cholmondeley's marriage-articles with her daughter.(778) The wedding is to be this day sevennight. Save me, my old stars, from wedding-dinners! But I trust they are not of this age. I should sooner expect Hymen to jump out of a curricle, and walk into the Duchess's dressing-room in boots and a dirty shirt.
(773) A splendid edition of the Fables of Dryden, ornamented with engravings, from the elegant and fascinating pencil of Lady Diana Beauclerc, was published in folio in 1797.-E.
(774) On the 12th of April, a series of resolutions, moved by Mr. Grey, the object of which was to pronounce the armament against Russia inexpedient and unnecessary, were, after a warm debate, negatived by 252 against 17?- A similar motion, made on the fifteenth, by Mr. Baker was rejected by a majority of 254 to 162.-E.
(775) James-Brownlow-William Gascoyne Cecil. in 1823, he succeeded his father as second Marquis of Salisbury.-E.
(776) The wife of the banker in St. James's Street.
(777) Mrs. Buller's only child.
(778) Lady Charlotte Bertie.
Letter 377 To Miss Berry. Strawberry Hill, April 23, 1791. (page 492)
To-day, when the town is staring at the sudden resignation of the Duke of Leeds,(779) asking the reason, and gaping to know who will succeed him, I am come hither -with an indifference that might pass for philosophy; as the true cause is not known, which it seldom is. Don't tell Europe; but I really am come to look at the repairs of Cliveden, and how they go on; not without an eye to the lilacs and the apple-blossoms: for even self can find a corner to wriggle into, though friendship may fit out the vessel. Mr. Berry may, perhaps, wish I had more political curiosity; but as I must return to town on Monday for Lord Cholmondeley's wedding, I may hear before the departure of the post, if the seals are given: for the Duke's reasons, should they be assigned, shall one be certain? His intention was not even whispered till Wednesday evening. The news from India, so long expected, are not couleur de rose, but de sang: a detachment has been defeated by Tippoo Saib, and Lord Cornwallis is gone to take the command of the army himself. Will the East be more propitious to him than the West?
The abolition of the slave-trade has been rejected by the House of Commons,(780) though Mr. Pitt and Mr. Fox united earnestly to carry it: but commerce chinked its purse, and that sound is generally prevalent with the majority; and humanity's tears, and eloquence, figures and arguments, had no more effect than on those patrons of liberty, the National Assembly of France; who, while they proclaim the rights of men, did not choose to admit the sable moiety of mankind to a participation of those benefits.
Captain Bowen has published a little pamphlet of affidavits, which prove that Gunnilda attempted to bribe her father's groom to perjure himself; but he begged to be excused. Nothing more appears against the mother, but that Miss pretended her mamma had an aversion to Lord Lorn, (an aversion to a Marquis!) and that she did not dare to acquaint so tender a parent with her lasting passion for him. Still I am persuaded that both the mother and the aunt were in the plot, whatever it was. I saw Lady Cecilia last night, and made all your speeches, and received their value in return for you.
Good Hannah More is killing herself by a new fit of benevolence, about a young girl with a great fortune, who has been taken from school at Bristol to Gretna Green, and cannot be discovered; nor the apothecary who stole her. Mrs. Garrick, who suspects, as I do, that Miss Europa is not very angry with Mr. Jupiter, had Very warm words, a few nights ago, at the Bishop of London's, with Lady Beaumont; but I diverted the quarrel by starting the stale story of the Gunning. You know Lady Beaumont's eagerness: she is ready to hang the apothecary with her own hands; and he certainly is criminal enough. Poor Hannah lives with attorneys and Sir Sampson Wright;(781) and I have seen her but once since she came to town. Her ungrateful proteg'ee, the milkwoman, has published her tragedy, and dedicated it to a patron as worthy as herself, the Earl-bishop of Derry.(782)
Well! our wedding is over very properly, though with little ceremony; for the men were in frocks and white waistcoats; most of the women in white, and no diamonds but on the Duke's wife; and nothing of ancient fashion but two bride-maids. The endowing purse I believe, has been left off, ever since broad-pieces were called in and melted down. We were but eighteen persons in all, chiefly near relations of each side; and of each side a friend or two: of the first sort, the Greatheds. Sir Peter Burrell gave away the bride. The poor Duchess-mother wept excessively: She is now left quite alone; her two daughters married, and her other children dead; she herself, I fear, in a very dangerous way. She goes directly to Spa, where the new-married are to meet her. We all separated in an hour and a half. The Elliot-girl(783) was there, and is pretty: she rolls in the numerous list of my nephews and nieces.
I am now told that our Indian skirmish was a victory, and that Tippoo Saib and all his cavalry and elephants, ran away; but sure I am, that the first impression made on me by those who spread the news, was not triumphant; nor can I enjoy success in that country, which we have so abominably usurped and plundered. You must wait for a new secretary of state till next post. The Duke of Leeds is said to have resigned from bad health. The Ducs de Richelieu(784) and De Pienne, and Madame de St. Priest, are arrived here. Mr. Fawkener does not go to Berlin till Wednesday * still the stocks do not believe in the war.
I have exhausted my gazette; and this being both Easter and Newmarket week, I may possibly have nothing to tell you by to-morrow se'nnight's post, and may wait till Friday se'nnight: of which I give you notice, lest you should think I have had a fall, and hurt my nose which I know gives one's friend a dreadful alarm. Good night!
P. S. I never saw such a blotted letter: I don't know how you will read it. I am so earnest when writing to YOU two, that I omit half the words, and write too small; but I will try to mend.
(779) Francis Godolphin Osborne, fifth Duke of Leeds. In 1776, he was appointed a lord of the bedchamber, and in 1783, secretary of state for foreign affairs. He was succeeded in the office by Lord Grenville.-E.
(780) The numbers on the division were, for the abolition 88, against it 163.-E.
(781) In a letter written on this day, Miss More says,—"My time has been literally passed with thief takers, officers of justice, and such pretty kind of people." The young lady, who was an heiress and only fourteen years of age, had been trepanned away from school. All the efforts to discover the victim proved fruitless; the poor girl having been betrayed into a marriage and carried to the Continent.-E.
(782) The Earl of Bristol; for an account of whom, see ante, p. 236, letter 182.-E.
(783) A natural daughter of Lord Cholmondeley.
(784) Armand-Emanuel du Plessis, Duc do Richelieu. He had just succeeded to the title, by the death of his father. In the preceding year, he had entered a volunteer into the service of Catherine the Second, and distinguished himself at the siege of Ismael, not more by his bravery than his humanity; as appears by the following anecdote recorded in the "Histoire de la Nouvelle Russie," tom. iii. p. 217:—"Je sauvai la vie 'a une fille de dix ans, dont l'innocence et la candeur formaient un contraste bien frappant avec la rage de tout ce qui mlenvironnait. En arrivant sur le bastion o'u commen'ca le carnage, j'apperus un groupe de quatre femmes 'egorg'ees, entre lesquelles cet enfant, d'une figure charmante, cherchait un asile contre la fureur de deux Kosaks qui 'etaient sur le point de la massacrer: ce spectacle m'attira bient'ot, et je n'h'esitai pas, comme on peut le croire, prendre entre mes bras cette infortun'ee, que les barbares voulaient y poursuivre encore." Lord Byron has paraphrased the affecting incident in the eighth canto of Don Juan:—
"Upon a taken bastion, where there lay Thousands of slaughter'd men, a yet warm group Of murder'd women, who had found their way To this vain refuge, made the good heart droop And shudder;—while, as beautiful as May, A female child of ten years tried to stoop And hide her little palpitating breast Amidst the bodies lull'd in bloody rest. Two villainous Cossacques pursued the child With flashing eyes, and weapons. * * * Don Juan raised his little captive from The heap, a moment more had made her tomb."
In 1803, the Duke returned to Russia, and was nominated civil and military governor of Odessa; -and to his administration," says Bishop Heber, 44 and not to any natural advantages, the town owes its prosperity." On the restoration of Louis the Eighteenth, he was appointed first gentleman of the bedchamber; and in 1815, president of the council and minister for foreign affairs. He finally retired from office in 1820, and died in 1822.-E.
Letter 378 To Miss Berry. Berkeley Square, May 12, 1791. (page 495)
A letter from Florence (that of April 20th) does satisfy me about your nose-till I can see it with my own eyes; but I will own to you now, that my alarm at first went much farther. I dreaded lest so violent a fall upon rubbish might not have hurt your head; though all your letters since have proved how totally that escaped any danger. Yet your great kindness in writing to me yourself so immediately did not tranquillize me, and only proved your good-nature-but I will not detail my departed fears, nor need I prove my attachment to you two. If you were really my wives, I could not be more generally applied to for accounts of you; of which I am proud. I should be ashamed, if, at my age, it were a ridiculous attachment; but don't be sorry for having been circumstantial. My fears did not spring thence; nor did I suspect your not having told the whole-no; but I apprehended the accident might be worse than you knew yourself.
Poor Hugh Conway,(785) though his life has long been safe, still suffers at times from his dreadful blow, and has not yet been able to come to town: nor would Lord Chatham's humanity put his ship into commission; which made him so unhappy, that poor Horatia,(786) doating on him as she does, wrote to beg he might be employed; preferring her own misery in parting with him to what she saw him suffer. Amiable conduct! but, happily, her suit did not prevail.
I am not at all surprised at the private interviews between Leopold(787) and C. I am persuaded that the first must and will take more part than he has yet seemed to do, and so will others too; but as speculations are but guesses, I will say no more on the subject now; nor of your English and Irish travellers, none of whom I know. I have one general wish, that you may be amused while you stay, by the natives of any nation: and I thank you a thousand times for confirming Your intention of returning by the beginning of November; which I should not desire coolly, but from the earnest wish of putting you in possession of Cliveden while I live; which every body would approve, at least, not wonder at (Mr. Batt, to whom I have communicated my intention, does extremely); and the rest would follow of course, as I had done the same for Mrs. Clive. I smiled at your making excuses for your double letter. Do you think I would not give twelvepence to hear more of you and your proceedings, than a single sheet would contain?
The Prince is recovered; that is all the domestic news, except a most memorable debate last Friday, in the House of Commons. Mr. Fox had most imprudently thrown out a panegyric on the French revolution.(788) His most considerable friends were much hurt, and protested to him against such sentiments. Burke went much farther, and vowed to attack these opinions. Great pains were taken to prevent such altercation, and the Prince of Wales is said to have written a dissuasive letter to Burke: but he was immovable; and on Friday, on the Quebec Bill, he broke out and sounded a trumpet against the plot, which he denounced as carrying on here. Prodigious clamours and interruption arose from Mr. Fox's friends: but he, though still applauding the French, burst into tears and lamentations on the loss of Burke's friendship, and endeavoured to make atonement; but in vain, though Burke wept too. In short, it was the most affecting scene possible; and undoubtedly an unique one, for both the commanders were earnest and sincere.(789) Yesterday, a second act was expected; but mutual friends prevailed, that the contest should not be renewed: nay, on the same bill, Mr. Fox made a profession of his faith, and declared he would venture his life in support of the present constitution by King, Lords, and Commons. In short, I never knew a wiser dissertation, if the newspapers deliver it justly; and I think all the writers in England cannot give more profound sense to Mr. Fox than he possesses. I know no more particulars, having seen nobody this morning yet. What shall I tell you else? We have expected Mrs. Damer from last night; and perhaps she may arrive before this sets out to-morrow.
Friday morning, May 13th.
Last night we were at Lady Frederick Campbell's,—the usual cribbage party, Conways, Mount-Edgcumbes, Johnstones. At past ten Mrs. Damer was announced! Her parents ran down into the hall, and I scrambled down some of the stairs. She looks vastly well, was in great spirits, and not at all fatigued; though she came from Dover, had been twelve hours at sea from Calais, and had rested but four days at Paris from Madrid. We supped, and stayed till one o'clock; and I shall go to see her as soon as I am dressed. Madrid and the Escurial she owns have gained her a proselyte to painting, which her statuarism had totally engrossed in her, no wonder. Of Titian she had no idea, nor have I a just one, though great faith, as at Venice all his works are now coal-black: but Rubens, she says, amazed her, and that in Spain he has even grace. Her father, yesterday morning, from pain remaining still in his shoulder from his fall, had it examined by Dr. Hunter, and a little bone of the collar was found to be broken, and he must wear his arm for some time in a sling. Miss Boyle, I heard last night, had consented to marry Lord Henry Fitzgerald. I think they have both chosen well—but I have chosen better. Adieu! Care spose!
(785) Lord Hugh Seymour Conway, brother of the then Marquis of Hertford.
(786) Lady Horatia Waldegrave, his wife.
(787) The Emperor Leopold, then at Florence; whither he had returned from Vienna, to inaugurate his son in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.-E.
(788) In the course of his speech on the 15th of April, during the debate on the armament against Russia, Mr. Fox had said, that "he for one admired the new constitution of France, considered altogether, as the most stupendous and glorious edifice of liberty which had been erected on the foundation of human integrity in any time or country." As soon as he had sat down Mr. Burke rose, in much visible emotion; but was prevented from proceeding by the general cry of question. Mr. Fox regretted the injudicious zeal of those who would not suffer him to reply on the spot: "the contention," be said, "might have been fiercer and hotter, but the remembrance of it would not have settled so deep, nor rankled so long, in the heart."-E.
(789) With the debate of this day terminated a friendship which had lasted more than the fourth part of a century. Mr. Wilberforce, in his Diary of the 6th of May, states, that he had endeavoured to prevent the quarrel; and in a letter to a friend, on the following day, he speaks of "the shameful spectacle of last night; more disgraceful almost, and more affecting, than the rejection of my motion for the abolition of the slave trade-a long tried and close worldly connexion of five-and-twenty years trampled to pieces in the conflict of a single night!" The following anecdote, connected with this memorable evening, is related by Mr. Curwen, at that time member for Carlisle, in his Travels in Ireland:—"the powerful feelings were manifested on the adjournment of the House. While I was waiting for my carriage, Mr. Burke came to me and requested, as the night was wet, I would set him down. As soon as the carriage-door was shut, he complimented me on My being no friend to the revolutionary doctrines of the French; on which he spoke with great warmth for a few minutes, when he paused to afford me an opportunity of approving the view he had taken of those measures in the House. At the moment I could not help feeling disinclined to disguise my sentiments: Mr. Burke, catching hold of the check-string, furiously exclaimed, 'you are one of these people! set me down!' With some difficulty I restrained him;-we had then reached Charingcross: a silence ensued which was preserved till we reached his house in Gerard-street, when he hurried out of the carriage without speaking."-E.
Letter 379 To Miss Berry. Berkeley Square, Thursday, May 19, 1791. (page 497)
Your letter of the 29th, for which you are so good as to make excuses on not sending it to the post in time, did arrive but two days later than usual; and as it is now two months from the 16th of March, and I have so many certificates of the prosperous state of your pretty nose, I attributed the delay to the elements, and took no panic. But how kindly punctual you are, When you charge yourself' with an irregularity of two days! and when your letters are so charmingly long, and interest me so much in all you do! But make no more excuses. I reproach myself with occasioning so much waste of your time, that you might employ every hour; for it is impossible to see all that the Medicis had collected or encouraged in the loveliest little city, and in such beautiful environs-nor had I forgotten the Cascines, the only spot containing English verdure. Mrs. Damer is as well, if not better, than she has been a great while: her looks surprise every body; to which, as she is tanned, her Spanish complexion contributes. She and I called, the night before last, on your friend Mrs. Cholmeley; and they are to make me a visit to-morrow morning, by their own appointment. At Dover Mrs. Damer heard the Gunnings are there: here, they are forgotten.
You are learning perspective, to take views: I am glad. Can one have too many resources in one's self? Internal armour is more necessary to your sex, than weapons to ours. You have neither professions, nor politics, nor ways of getting money, like men; in any of which, whether successful or not, they are employed. Scandal and cards you will both always hate and despise, as much as you do now; and though I shall not flatter Mary so much as to suppose she will ever equal the extraordinary talent of Agnes in painting, yet, as Mary, like the scriptural Martha, is occupied in many things, she is quite in the right to add the pencil to her other amusements.
I knew the Duchesse de Brissac(790) a little, and but a little, in 1766. She was lively and seemed sensible, and had an excellent character. Poor M. de Thygnols!(791) to be deprived of that only remaining child too!—but, how many French one pities, and how many more one abhors! How dearly will even liberty be bought, (if it shall prove to be obtained, which I neither think it is or will be,) by every kind of injustice and violation of consciences! How little conscience can they have, who leave to others no option but between perjury and starving! The Prince de Chimay I do not know.
After answering the articles of yours, I shall add what I can of new. After several weeks spent in search of precedents, for trials ceasing or not on a dissolution of parliament, the Peers on Monday sat till three in the morning on the report; when the Chancellor and Lord Hawkesbury fought for the cessation, but were beaten by a large majority; which showed that Mr. Pitt(792) has more weight (at present) in that House too, than—the diamonds of Bengal. Lord Hawkesbury protested. The trial recommences on Monday next, and has already caused the public fourteen thousand pounds; the accused, I suppose, much more.
The Countess of Albany(793) is not only in England, in London, but at this very moment, I believe, in the palace of St. James's—not restored by as rapid a revolution as the French, but, as was observed last night at supper at Lady Mount-Edgcumbe's, by that topsy-turvyhood that characterizes the present age. Within these two months the Pope has been burnt at Paris; Madame du Barry, mistress of Louis Quinze, has dined with the Lord Mayor of London, and the Pretender's widow is presented to the Queen of Great Britain! She is to be introduced by her great-grandfather's niece, the young Countess of Ailesbury.(794) That curiosity should bring her hither, I do not quite wonder-still less that she abhorred her husband; but methinks it is not very well bred to his family, nor very sensible; but a new way of passing eldest.
Apropos: I hear there is a medal struck at Rome of her brother- in-law, as Henry the Ninth; which, as one of their Papal majesties was so abominably mean as to deny the royal title to his brother, though for Rome he had lost a crown, I did not know they allow his brother to assume. I should be much obliged to you if you could get one of those medals in copper; ay, and of his brother, if there was one with the royal title. I have the father's and mother's, and all the Popes', in copper; but my Pope, Benedict the Fourteenth, is the last, and therefore I should be glad of one of each of his successors, if you can procure and bring them with little trouble. I should not be sorry to have one of the Grand Duke and his father; but they should be in copper, not only for my suite, but they are sharper than in silver.
Well! I have had an exact account of the interview of the two Queens, from one who stood close to them. The dowager was announced as Princess of Stolberg. She was well-dressed, and not at all embarrassed. The King talked to her a good deal; but about her passage' the sea, and general topics: the Queen in the same way, but less. Then she stood between the Dukes of Gloucester and Clarence, and had a good deal of conversation with the former; who, perhaps, may have met her in Italy. Not a word between her and the Princesses: nor did I hear of the Prince, but he was there, and probably spoke to her. The Queen looked at her earnestly. To add to the singularity of the day, it is the Queen's birthday. Another odd accident: at the Opera at the Pantheon, Madame d'Albany was carried into the King's box, and sat there. It is not of a piece with her going to court, that she seals with the royal arms. I have been told to-night, that you will not be able to get me a medal of the royal Cardinal, as very few were struck, and only for presents; so pray give yourself but little trouble about it.
Boswell has at last published his long-promised Life of Dr. Johnson, in two volumes in quarto. I will give you an account of it when I have gone through it. I have already perceived, that in writing the history of Hudibras, Ralpho has not forgot himself nor will others, I believe, forget him!
(790) The Duc do Brissac was at this time commandant-general of Louis the Sixteenth's constitutional guard. In the following year he was denounced; and in the early days of September put to death at Versailles, for his attachment to his unfortunate sovereign.-E.
(791) The Duc de Nivernois, who, at this time, was employed about the person of Louis the Sixteenth, was denounced by the infamous Chaumette, and Cast into prison in September 1793; where he remained till 1796. He died in 1798.-E.
(792) In Mr. Wilberforce's Diary of the 22d of December, there is the following entry:—"Hastings's impeachment question. Pitt's astonishing speech. This was almost the finest speech he ever delivered: it was one which you would say at once he never could have made if he had not been a mathematician. He put things by as he proceeded and then returned to the very point from which he had started, with the most astonishing clearness. He had all the lawyers against him, but carried a majority of the House, mainly by the force of this speech. It pleased Burke exceedingly. 'Sir,' he said, 'the right honourable gentleman and I have often been opposed to one another, but his speech tonight has neutralized my opposition; nay, Sir, he has dulcified me.' " Life, vol. i. p. 286.-E.
(793) Louisa Maximiliana de Stolberg Goedern, wife of the Pretender. After the death of Charles Edward in 1788, she travelled in Italy and France, and lived with her favourite, the celebrated Alfieri, to whom she is stated to have been privately married. She continued to reside at Paris, until the progress of the revolution compelled her to take refuge in England.-E.
(794) Lady Anne Rawdon, sister to the first Marquis of Hastings.
Letter 380 To Miss Berry. Berkeley Square, May 26, 1791. (page 500)
I am rich in letters from you: I received that by Lord Elgin's courier first, as you expected, and its elder the next day. You tell me mine entertain you; tant mieux. It is my wish, but my wonder; for I live so little in the world, that I do not know the present generation by sight: for, though I pass by them in the streets, the hats with valences, the folds above the chin of the ladies, and the dirty shirts and shaggy hair of the young men, who have levelled nobility almost as much as the mobility in France have, have confounded all individuality. Besides, if I did go to public places and assemblies, which my going to roost earlier prevents, the bats and owls do not begin to fly abroad till far in the night, when they begin to see and be seen. However, one of the empresses of fashion, the Duchess of Gordon, uses fifteen or sixteen hours of her four-and-twenty. I heard her journal of last Monday. She first went to Handel's music in the Abbey; she then clambered over the benches, and went to Hastings's trial in the Hall; after dinner to the play; then to Lady Lucan's assembly; after that to Ranelagh, and returned to Mrs. Hobart's faro table; gave a ball herself in the evening of that morning, into which she must have got a good way: and set out for Scotland the next day. Hercules could not have achieved a quarter of her labours in the same space of time, What will the Great Duke think of our Amazons, if he has letters opened, as the Emperor was wont! One of our Camillas,(795) but in a freer style, I hear, he saw (I fancy just before your arrival); and he must have wondered at the familiarity of the dame, and the nincompoophood of her Prince. Sir William Hamilton is arrived— his Nymph of the Attitudes!(796) was too prudish to visit the rambling peeress.
The rest of my letter must be literary; for we have no news. Boswell's book is gossiping;(797) but, having numbers of proper names, would be more readable, at least by me, were it reduced from two volumes to one; but there are woful longueurs, both about his hero and himself; thefidus Achates; about whom one has not the smallest curiosity. But I wrong the original Achates: one is satisfied with his fidelity in keeping his master's secrets and weaknesses, which modern led-captains betray for their patron's glory, and to hurt their own enemies; which Boswell has done shamefully, particularly against Mrs. Piozzi, and Mrs. Montagu, and Bishop Percy. Dr. Blagden says justly, that it is a new kind of libel, by which you may abuse any body, by saying some dead body said so and so of somebody alive. Often, indeed, Johnson made the most brutal speeches to living persons; for though he was good-natured at bottom, he was very ill-natured at top. He loved to dispute, to show his superiority. If his opponents were weak, he told them they were fools; if they vanquished him, be was scurrilous—to nobody more than to Boswell himself, who was contemptible for flattering him so grossly, and for enduring the coarse things he was continually vomiting on Boswell's own country, Scotland. I expected, amongst the excommunicated, to find myself, but am very gently treated. I never would be in the least acquainted with Johnson; or, as Boswell calls it, I had not a just value for him; which the biographer imputes to my resentment for the Doctor's putting bad arguments (purposely, out of Jacobitism,) into the speeches which he wrote fifty years ago for my father, in the Gentleman's Magazine; which I did not read then, or ever knew Johnson wrote till Johnson died, nor have looked at since. Johnson's blind Toryism and known brutality kept me aloof; nor did I ever exchange a syllable with him: nay, I do not think I ever was in a room with him six times in my days. Boswell came to me, said Dr. Johnson was writing the Lives of the Poets, and wished I would give him anecdotes of Mr. Gray. I said, very coldly, I had given what I knew to Mr. Mason. Boswell hummed and hawed, and then dropped, "I suppose you know Dr. Johnson does not admire Mr. Gray." Putting as much contempt as I could Into my look and tone, I said, "Dr. Johnson don't—humph!"—and with that monosyllable ended our interview. After the Doctor's death, Burke, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and Boswell sent an ambling circular-letter to me, begging subscriptions for a monument for him—the two last, I think, impertinently; as they could not but know my opinion, and could not suppose I would contribute to a monument for one who had endeavoured, poor soul! to degrade my friend's superlative poetry. I would not deign to write an answer; but sent down word by my footman, as I would have done to parish officers with a brief, that I Would not subscribe. In the two new volumes Johnson says, and very probably did, or is made to say, that 'Gray's poetry is dull, and that he was a dull man!(798) The same oracle dislikes Prior, Swift, and Fielding. If an elephant could write a book, perhaps one that had read a great deal would say, that an Arabian horse is a very clumsy ungraceful animal. Pass to a better chapter!
Burke has published another pamphlet(799) against the French Revolution, in which he attacks it still more grievously. The beginning is very good; but it is not equal, nor quite so injudicious as parts of its predecessor; is far less brilliant, as well as much shorter: but, were it ever so long, his mind overflows with such a torrent of images, that he cannot be tedious. His invective against Rousseau is admirable, just, and new.(799) Voltaire he passes almost contemptuously. I wish he had dissected Mirabeau too; and I grieve that he has omitted the violation of the consciences of the clergy, nor stigmatized those universal plunderers, the National Assembly, who gorge themselves with eighteen livres a-day; which to many of them would, three years ago, have been astonishing opulence.
When you return, I shall lend you three volumes in quarto of another Work,(800) With which you will be delighted. They are state-letters in the reigns of Henry the Eighth, Mary, Elizabeth, and James; being the correspondence of the Talbot and Howard families, given by a Duke of Norfolk to the Herald's-office; where they have lain for a century neglected, buried under dust, and unknown, till discovered by a Mr. Lodge, a genealogist, who, to gratify his passion, procured to be made a poursuivant. Oh! how curious they are! Henry seizes an alderman who refused to contribute to a benevolence: sends him to the army on the borders; orders him to be exposed in the front line; and if that does not do, to be treated with the utmost rigour of military discipline. His daughter Bess is not less a Tudor. The mean, unworthy treatment of the queen of Scots is striking; and you will find Elizabeth's jealousy of her crown and her avarice were at war, and how the more ignoble passion predominated. But the most amusing passage is one in a private letter, as it paints the awe of children for their parents a little differently from modern habitudes. Mr. Talbot, second son of the Earl of Shrewsbury, was a member of the House of Commons, and was married. He writes to the Earl his father, and tells him, that a young woman of a very good character, has been recommended to him for chambermaid to his wife, and if his lordship does not disapprove of it, he will hire her. There are many letters of news, that are very entertaining too—but it is nine o'clock, and I must go to Lady Cecilia's.
The Conways, Mrs. Damer, the Farrens, and Lord Mount-Edgcumbe supped at the Johnstones'. Lord Mount-Edgcumbe said excellently, that "Mademoiselle D'Eon is her own widow." I wish I had seen you both in your court-plis, at your presentation; but that is only one wish amongst a thousand.
(795) Lady Craven; who was at this time in Italy with the Margravine of Anspach. Lord Craven died at Lausanne in September, and the lady was married to the Margrave in October following.-E.
(796) Miss Martel married, in the following September, to Sir William Hamilton-the lady, the infatuated attachment to whom has been said to have been "the only cloud that obscured the bright fame Of the immortal Nelson." By the following passage in a letter, written by Romney the painter to Hagley the poet on the 19th of June, it will be seen that she had not been many days in England, before a warm passion for her was engendered in the breast of the artist:—"At present, and for the greatest part of the summer, I shall be engaged in painting pictures from the divine lady: I cannot give her any other epithet; for I think her superior to all womankind. She asked me if you would not write my life: I told her you had begun it-then, she said, she hoped you would have much to say of her in the life; as she prides herself in being my model."-E.
(797) On the first appearance of his most interesting and instructive Life of Dr. Johnson, a considerable outcry was raised against poor Boswell. On the subject of this outcry, Mr. Croker in the introduction to his valuable edition of the work, published in 1831, makes the following excellent observations:— "Whatever doubts may have existed as to the prudence or the propriety of the original publication—however naturally private confidence was alarmed, or individual vanity offended—the voices of criticism and complaint were soon drowned in the general applause. And, no wonder; the work combines within itself the four most entertaining classes of writing—biography, memoirs, familiar letters, and that assemblage of literary anecdotes, which the French have taught us to distinguish by the termination Ana. It was a strange and fortuitous concurrence, that one so prone to talk, and who talked so well, should be brought into such close contact and confidence with one so zealous and so able to record. Dr. Johnson was a man of extraordinary powers; but Mr. Boswell had qualities, in their own way, almost as rare. He United lively manners with indefatigable diligence, and the volatile curiosity of a man about town with the drudging patience of a chronicler. With a very good opinion of himself, he was quick in discerning, and frank in applauding the excellencies of others. His contemporaries, indeed, not without some colour of reason, occasionally complained of him as vain, troublesome, and giddy; but his vanity was inoffensive—his curiosity was commonly directed towards laudable objects—when he meddled, be did so, generally, from good-natured motives—and his giddiness was only an exuberant gaiety, which never failed in the respect and reverence due to literature, morals, and religion' ' and posterity grate taste, temper, and talents with which he selected, enjoyed, and described that polished intellectual society which still lives in his work, and without his work had perished!" Mr. Croker's edition of the work is the eleventh; and since its appearance, a twelfth, in ten pocket volumes, with embellishments has been given to the world, by Mr. Murray, of which thousands are understood to have been called for. Whenever Walpole, in the course of his correspondence, has had occasion to introduce the name of Boswell, he has uniformly spoken so disparagingly of him, that it is but justice to his memory to append to the above extract, a passage or two, in which other writers have recorded their estimation of him. Mr. Burke told Sir James Mackintosh, that "he thought Johnson appeared greater in Boswell's volumes than even in his own." Sir Walter Scott, speaking of the Doctor, says, "he yet is, in our mind's eye, a personification as lively as that of Siddons in Lady Macbeth, or Kemble in Cardinal Wolsey; and all this arises from his having found in Boswell such a biographer as no man but himself ever had." In the opinion of the Edinburgh Reviewers, Boswell was "the very prince of retail wits and philosophers," and his Life of Johnson is pronounced to be "one of the best books in the world— a great, a very great work;" while the quarterly Review considers it "the richest dictionary of wit and wisdom, any language can boast, and that to the influence of Boswell we owe, probably, three-fourths of what is most entertaining, as well as no inconsiderable portion of whatever is most instructive, in all the books of memoirs that have subsequently appeared."-E.
(797) Dr. Johnson's attack upon Gray was undoubtedly calculated to give great offence to Walpole: "Sir, he was dull in company, dull in his closet, dull every where: he was dull in a new way, and that made many people think him great: he was a mechanical poet."-E.
(798) This was the "Letter from Mr. Burke to a member of the National Assembly."-E.
(799) "We have had," says Mr. Burke, "the great professor and founder of the philosophy of vanity in England. As I had good opportunities of knowing his proceedings, almost from day to day, he left no doubt on my mind that he entertained no principle, either to influence his heart or to guide his understanding, but vanity; with this vice he was possessed to a degree little short of madness. Benevolence to the whole species, and want of feeling for every individual with whom the professors come in contact, form the character of the new philosophy. Setting up for an unsocial independence, this their hero of vanity refuses the just price of common labour, as well as the tribute which opulence owes to genius, and which when paid, honours the giver and the receiver: and then he pleads his beggary as an excuse for his crimes. He melts with tenderness for those only who touch him by the remotest relation; and then, without one natural pang, casts away as a sort of offal and excrement, the spawn of his disgustful amours, and sends his children to the hospital of foundlings. The bear loves, licks, and forms her young; but bears are not philosophers."-E.
(800) This was Lodge's "Illustrations of British History, Biography, and Manners, in the Reigns of Henry the Eighth, Edward the Sixth, Mary, Elizabeth and James the First;" a work which has also been highly praised by Mr. Gifford, Sir Walter Scott, Sir Egerton Brydges, Mr. Park, and others.-E.
Letter 381 To The Miss Berrys. Berkeley Square, June 2, 1791. (page 504)
To the tune of the Cow with the crumpled Horn, etc. "This is the note that nobody wrote." " This is the groom that carried the note that nobody wrote.
"This is Ma'am Gunning, Who was so very cunning, to examine the groom that carried the note that nobody wrote.
"This is Ma'am Bowen, to whom it was owing, that Miss Minify Gunning was so very cunning, to examine the groom that carried the note that nobody wrote.
"These are the Marquisses shy of the horn, who caused the maiden all for-Lorn, to become on a sudden so tattered and torn, that Miss Minify Gunning was so very cunning, to examine the groom, etc.
"These are the two Dukes, whose sharp rebukes made the two Marquesses shy of the horn, and caused the maiden all for-Lorn, etc.
"This is the General somewhat too bold, whose head was so hot, though his heart was so cold; who proclaimed himself single before it was meet, and his wife and his daughter turned into the street, to please the Dukes, whose sharp rebukes," etc.
This is not at all new; I have heard it once or twice imperfectly, but could not get a copy till now; and I think it will divert you for a moment, though the heroines are as much forgotten as Boadicea; nor have I heard of them since their arrival at Dover.
Well! I have seen Madame d'Albany who has not a ray of royalty about her. She has good eyes and teeth; but I think can have had no more beauty than remains, except youth. She is civil and easy, but German and ordinary. Lady Ailesbury made a small assemblage for her on Monday, and my curiosity is satisfied. Mr. Conway and Lady A., Lord and Lady Frederic Campbell, and Mrs. E. Hervey and Mrs. Hervey, breakfasted with me that morning at Strawberry, at the desire of the latter, who had never been there; and whose commendations were so promiscuous, that I saw she did not at all understand the style of the place. The day was northeasterly and cold, and wanting rain; and I was not sorry to return into town. I hope in five months to like staying there much better. Mrs. Damer, who returned in such Spanish health, has already caught an English northeastern cold; with pain in all her limbs, and a little fever, and yesterday was not above two hours out of her bed. Her father came to me from her before dinner, and left her better; and I shall go to her presently; and, this not departing till to-morrow, I hope to give you a still more favourable account. These two days may boldly assume the name of June, without the courtesy of England. Such weather makes me wish myself at Strawberry, whither I shall betake myself on Saturday.
505 Letter 382 To The Miss Berrys. Berkeley Square, June 8, 1791.
Your No. 34, that was interrupted, and of which the last date was of May 24th, I received on the 6th, and if I could find fault, it would be in the length; for I do not approve of your writing so much in hot weather, for, be it known to you ladies, that from the first of the month, June is not more June at Florence, My hay is crumbling away; and I have ordered it to be cut, as a sure way of bringing rain. I have a selfish reason, too, for remonstrating against long letters. I feel the season advancing, when mine will be piteous short for what can I tell you from Twickenham in the next three or four months'! Scandal from Richmond and Hampton Court, or robberies at my own door? The latter, indeed, are blown already. I went to Strawberry on Saturday, to avoid the birthday crowd and squibs and crackers. At six I drove to Lord Strafford's, where his goods are to be sold by auction; his sister, Lady Anne,(801) intending to pull down the house and rebuild it. I returned a quarter before seven; and in the interim between my Gothic gate and Ashe's nursery, a gentleman and gentlewoman, in a one-horse chair and in the broad face of the sun, had been robbed by a single highwayman, sans mask. Ashe's mother and sister stood and saw it; but having no notion of a robbery at such an hour in the high-road and before their men had left work, concluded it was an acquaintance of the robber's. I suppose Lady Cecilia Johnstone will not descend from her bedchamber to the drawing-room without life-guard men. The Duke of Bedford(802) eclipsed the whole birthday by his clothes, equipage, and servants - six of the latter walked on' the side of the coach to keep off the crowd-or to tempt it; for their liveries were worth an argosie. The Prince *as gorgeous too - the latter is to give Madame d'Albany a dinner. She has been introduced to Mrs. Fitzherbert. You know I used to call Mrs. Cosway's(803) concerts Charon's boat; now, methinks, London is so. I am glad Mrs. C. is with you; she is pleasing-but surely it is odd to drop a child and her husband and country, all in a breath! I am glad you are disfranchised of the exiles. We have several, I am told, hire; but I strictly confine myself to those I knew formerly at Paris, and who all are quartered on Richmond Green. I went to them on Sunday evening, but found them gone to Lord Fitzwilliam's, the next house to Madame de Boufflers', to hear his organ; whither I followed them, and returned with them. The Comtesse Emilie played on her harp; then we all united at loto. I went home at twelve, unrobbed; and Lord Fitzwilliam, who asked much after you both, was to set out the next morning for Dublin, though intending to stay there but four days, and be back in three weeks.
I am sorry you did not hear all Monsieur do Lally Tollendal's(804) tragedy, of which I have had a good account. I like his tribute to his father's memory.(805) Of French politics you must be tired; and so am I. Nothing appears to me to promise their chaos duration; consequently, I expect more chaos, the sediment of which is commonly despotism. Poland ought to make the French blush-but that, they are not apt to do on any occasion. Let us return to Strawberry. The house of Sebright breakfasted there with me on Monday; the daughter had given me a drawing, and I owed her a civility. Thank you for reminding me of falls: in one sense I am more liable to them than when you left me, for I am sensibly much weaker since my last fit; but that weakness makes me move much slower, and depend more on assistance. In a word, there is no care I do not take of myself: my heart is set on installing you at Cliveden; and it will not be my fault if I do not preserve myself till then. If another summer is added, it will be happiness indeed—but I am not presumptuous, and count the days only till November. I am glad you, on your parts, repose till your journey commences, and go not into sultry crowded lodgings at the Ascension. I was at Venice in summer, and thought airing on stinking ditches pestilential, after enjoying the delicious nights on the Ponte di Trinit'a at Florence, in a linen night-gown and a straw hat, with improvisatori. and music, and the coffee-houses open with ices—at least, such were the customs fifty years ago,.
The Duke of St. Albans has cut down all the brave old trees at Hanworth, and consequently reduced his park to what it issued from Hounslow-heath: nay, he has hired a meadow next to mine, for the benefit of embarkation; and there lie all the good old corpses of oaks, ashes, and chestnuts, directly before your windows, and blocking up one of my views of the river! but so impetuous is the rage for building, that his grace's timber will, I trust, not annoy us long. There will soon be one street from London to Brentford; ay, and from London to every village ten miles round! Lord Camden has just let ground at Kentish Town for building fourteen hundred houses—nor do I wonder; London is, I am certain, much fuller than ever I saw it. I have twice this spring been going to stop my coach in Piccadilly, to inquire what was the matter, thinking there was a mob—not at all; it was only passengers. Nor is there any complaint of depopulation from the country: Bath shoots out into new crescents, circuses, and squares every year: Birmingham, Manchester, Hull, and Liverpool would serve ay King in Europe for a capital, and would make the Empress of Russia's mouth water. Of the war with Catherine Slay-Czar I hear not a breath, and thence conjecture it is dozing into peace.
Mr. Dundas has kissed hands for secretary of state; and Bishop Barrington, of Salisbury, is transferred to Durham, which he affected not to desire, having large estates by his wife in the south-but from the triple-mitre downwards, it is almost always true, what I said some years ago, that "nolo episcopari is Latin for I lie.— Tell it not in Gath that I say so; for I am to dine to-morrow at the Bishop of London's, at Fulham, with Hannah Bonner, my imprime. This morning I went with Lysons the Reverend to see Dulwich college, founded in 1619 by Alleyn, a player, which I had never seen in my many days. e were received by a smart divine, tr'es bien poudr'e, and with black satin breeches—but they are giving new wings and red satin breeches to the good old hostel too, and destroying a gallery with a very rich ceiling; and nothing will remain of ancient but the front, and an hundred mouldy portraits, among apostles, sibyls, and Kings of England. On Sunday I shall settle at Strawberry; and then wo betide you on post-days! I cannot make news without straw. The Johnstones are going to Bath, for the healths of both; so Richmond will be my only staple. Adieu, all three!
(801) Lady Anne Wentworth, married to the Right Honourable Thomas Conolly.
(802) Francis, fifth Duke of Bedford. He died at Woburn, in March 1802, at the early age of thirty-one; upon which event, Mr. Fox, in moving for a new writ for Tavistock, in the room of his brother John, who succeeded to the dukedom, pronounced an eloquent eulogium on the deceased-the only speech he could ever be prevailed upon to revise for publication-E.
(803) Maria Cosway, the wife of the eminent painter, and herself distinguished for her proficience both in painting and music. She was a native of Italy but of English parentage; and being passionately fond of music, her soir'ees in Pall-Mall and afterwards in Stratford-place, were attended by all the fashion of the town. In consequence of ill-health, accompanied by her brother, who had gained, as a student in painting, the Academy's gold metal, she had left England for Italy; where she remained about three years.-E
(804) The celebrated Count Lally do Tollendal. In 1789, he was one of the most eloquent members of the Constituent Assembly; but disapproving of the principles that prevailed, he retired into Switzerland, Gibbon, in a letter of the 15th of December of that year, says of him, "Lally is an amiable man of the world, and a poet: he passes the winter here; you know how much I prefer a quiet select society to a crowd of names and titles: what happy countries are England and Switzerland, if they know and preserve their happiness!" Having returned to France in 1792, he was sent to the Abbaye; whence he escaped during the massacres which took place in the prisons in September, and effected his retreat to England, where he found an asylum in the house of Lord Sheffield. On the restoration of the Bourbons, he was created a peer of France, and died in 1830. The subject of the tragedy above alluded to was the fall of the Earl of Strafford.-E.
(805) The unfortunate Count do Lally, governor of Pondicherry; who, on the surrender of the place to the English in 1761, was made prisoner of war, and sent to England. In the Chatham Correspondence, there is a letter from him to Mr. Pitt, written in English; in which he says, "When I shall have seen and heard here of Mr. Pitt all I have already read of him, I shall always remember I am his prisoner, and liberty to me, though a Frenchman, is of an inestimable value; therefore, I earnestly beg your interest with his Majesty to grant me leave to repair to my native soil." The desired permission was granted; but no sooner had he reached Paris, than he was thrown into the Bastille, and after being confined several years, brought to trial for treachery and found guilty. When his sentence was pronounced, "the excess of his indignation," says Voltaire, " was equal to his astonishment: he inveighed against his judges, and, holding in his hand a pair of compasses, which he used for tracing maps in his prison, he struck it against his heart; but the blow was not sufficient to take away life; he was dragged into a dung-cart, with a gag in his mouth, lest, being conscious of his innocence, he should convince the Spectators of the injustice of his fate." Madame du Deffand, in giving to Walpole, on the 10th of January 1766, an account of this horrible scene, having stated, that the populace "battait des mains pendant l'ex'ecution," he returned her an answer, in a high degree honourable to his moral feeling:—"Ah! Madame, Madame, quelles horreurs me racontez-vous la! Qu'on ne dise jamais que les Anglais sent durs et f'eroces. Veritablement ce sent les Fran'cais qui le sent, Oui, oui, vous 'etes des sauvages, des Iroquois, vous autres. On a bien massacr'e des gens chez nous, mais a-t-on jamais vu battre des Mains pendant qu'on mettait 'a mort un pauvre malheureux, un officier general, qui avait langui pendant deux ans en prison? un homme enfin si sensible 'a l'honneur, qu'il n'avait pas voulu se sauver! si touch'e de la disgrace qu'il chercha 'a avaler les grilles de sa prison plut'ot que de se voir expos'e 'a l'ignominie publique; et c'est exactement cette honn'ete pudeur qui fait qu'on le traine dans un tombereau, et qu'on lui met un baillon 'a la bouche comme au dernier des sc'elerats. Mon Dieu! que je suis aise d'avoir quitt'e Paris avant cette horrible sc'ene! je me serais fait d'echirer, ou mettre 'a la Bastille."-E.
Letter 383 To The Miss Berrys.
Strawberry Hill, June 14, 1791.(page 508)
I pity you! what a dozen or fifteen uninteresting letters are you going to receive! for here I am, unlikely to have any thing to tell you worth sending. You had better come back incontinently-but pray do not prophesy any more; you have been the death of our summer, and we are in close mourning for it in coals and ashes. It froze hard last night: I went out for a moment to look at my haymakers, and was starved. The contents of an English June are, hay and ice, orange-flowers and rheumatisms! I am now cowering over the fire. Mrs. Hobart had announced a rural breakfast at Sans-Souci last Saturday; nothing being so pastoral as a fat grandmother in a row of houses on Ham Common. It rained early in the morning: she despatched postboys, for want of Cupids and zephyrs, to stop the nymphs and shepherds who tend their flocks in Pall-Mall and St. James's- street; but half of them missed the couriers and arrived. Mrs. Montagu was more splendid yesterday morning, and breakfasted seven hundred persons on opening her great room, and the room with the hangings of feathers. The King and Queen had been with her last week. I should like to have heard the orations she had prepared on the occasion. I was neither City-mouse nor country-mouse. I did dine at Fulham on Saturday with the Bishop of London: Mrs. Boscawen, Mrs. Garrick, and Hannah More were there; and Dr. Beattie, whom I had never seen. He is quiet, simple, and cheerful, and pleased me. There ends my tale, this instant, Tuesday! How shall I fill a couple of pages more by Friday morning! Oh! ye ladies on the Common, and ye uncommon ladies in London, have pity on a poor gazetteer, and supply me with eclogues or royal panegyrics Moreover—or rather more under—I have had no letter from you these ten days, though the east wind has been as constant as Lord Derby. I say not this in reproach, as you are so kindly punctual; but as it stints me from having a single paragraph to answer. I do not admire specific responses to every article; but they are great resources on a dearth.
Madame de Boufflers is ill of a fever, and the Duchess de Biron(806) goes next week to Switzerland:—mais qu'est que cela vous fait? I must eke out this with a few passages that I think will divert you, from the heaviest of all books, Mr. Malone's Shakspeare, in ten thick octavos, with notes, that are an extract of all the opium that is spread through the works of all the bad playwrights of that age. Mercy on the poor gentleman's patience! Amongst his other indefatigable researches he has discovered some lists of effects in the custody of the property-man to the Lord Admiral's company of players, in 1598. Of those effects he has given eight pages-you shall be off for a few items; viz. "My Lord Caffe's [Caiaphas's] gercheri [jerkin] and his hoose [hose]; one rocke, one tombe, one Hellemought [Hell-mouth], two stepelles and one chyme of belles, one chaine of Dragons, two coffines, one bulle's head, one vylter, one goste's crown, and one frame for the heading of black Jone; one payer of stayers for Fayeton, and bowght a robe for to goo invisabell." The pair of stairs for Phaeton reminds one of Hogarth's Strollers dressing in a barn, where Cupid on a ladder is reaching Apollo's stockings, that are hanging to dry on the clouds; as the steeples do of a story in L'Histoire du Th'eatre Fran'cois: Jodelet, who not only wrote plays, but invented the decorations, was to exhibit of both before Henry the Third. One scene was to represent a view of the sea, and Jodelet had bespoken two rochers; but not having time to rehearse, what did he behold enter on either side of the stage, instead of two rochers, but two clochers! Who knows but my Lord Admiral bought them?
Berkeley Square, Thursday, 16th.
I am come to town for one night, having promised to be at Mrs. Buller's this evening with Mrs. Damer, and I believe your friend, Mrs. Cholmeley, whom I have seen two or three times lately and like much. Three persons have called on me since I came, but have not contributed a tittle of news to my journal. If I hear nothing to-night, this must depart, empty as it is, to-morrow morning, as I shall for Strawberry; I hope without finding a new mortification, as I did last time. Two companies had been to see my house last week; and one of the parties, as vulgar people always see with the ends of their fingers, had broken off the end of my invaluable Eagle's bill, and to conceal their mischief, had pocketed the piece. It is true it had been restored at Rome, and my comfort is, that Mrs. Damer can repair the damage—but did the fools know that? It almost provokes one to shut up one's house, when obliging begets injury!
This moment I receive your 35th, to which I have nothing to answer, but that I believe Fox and Burke are not very cordial; though I do not know whether there has been any formal reconciliation or not. The Parliament is prorogued; and we shall hear no more of them, I suppose, for some months; nor have I learnt any thing new, and am returning to Strawberry, and must finish.
(806) Am'elie de Boufflers, wife of Armand-Louis de Gontaut, Duc do Biron, better known in England by the title of Duc de Lauzan. By a letter from Madame Necker to Gibbon, the Duchesse appears to have been at Lausanne in October; but in the following September , tempted," says Gibbon, " by some faint, and I fear, fallacious hope Of clemency to the women", she was induced to revisit France, and perished by the guillotine, in one of Robespierre's bloody proscriptions. See vol. v. pp. 133, 400. The Duc was entrusted with the command of the army of the republic in La Vend'ee; but, being reproached with having suffered Niort to be besieged and with not having seconded westermann, he was denounced at the bar of the Convention, delivered over to the revolutionary tribunal, and condemned to death. He suffered on the 31st of December 1793, and is words upon the scaffold are said to have been, "I have been false to my God, my order, and my king: I die full of faith and repentance." See his "M'emoires, " in two volumes 8vo. published in 1802.-E.
Letter 384To Miss Berry. Strawberry Hill, June 23, 1791. (page 510)
Wo is me! I have not an atom of news to send you, but that the second edition of Mother Hubbard's Tale was again spoiled on Saturday last by the rain; yet she had an ample assemblage of company from London and the neighbourhood. The late Queen of France, Madame du Barry, was there; and the late Queen of England, Madame d'Albany, was not. The former, they say, is as much altered as her kingdom, and does not retain a trace of her former powers. I saw her on her throne in the chapel of Versailles;(807) and, though then pleasing in face and person, I thought her un peu pass'e. What shall I tell you more? that Lord Hawkesbury is added to the cabinet-council—que vous importe? and that Dr. Robertson has published a Disquisition into the Trade of the Anchellts with India;(808) a sensible work—but that will be no news to you till you return. It was a peddling trade in those days. They now and then picked up an elephant's tooth, or a nutmeg, or one pearl, that served Venus for a pair of pendants, when Antony had toasted Cleopatra in a bumper of its fellow; which shows that a couple was imported:-but. alack! the Romans were so ignorant, that waiters from the Tres Tabernoe, in St. Apollo's-street, did not carry home sacks of diamonds enough to pave the Capitol—I hate exaggerations, and therefore I do not say, to pave the Appian Way. One author, I think, does say, that the wife of Fabius Pictor, whom he sold to a proconsul, did present Livia(809) with an ivory bed, inlaid with Indian gold; but, as Dr. Robertson does not mention it, to be sure he does not believe the fact well authenticated.
It is an anxious moment with the poor French here: a strong notion is spread, that the Prince of Cond'e will soon make some attempt; and the National Assembly, by their pompous blustering seem to dread it. Perhaps the moment is yet too early, till anarchy is got to a greater head; but as to the duration of the present revolution, I no more expect it, than I do the millennium before Christmas. Had the revolutionists had the sense and moderation of our ancestors, or of the present Poles, they might have delivered and blessed their country: but violence, injustice, and savage cruelty, tutored by inexperienced pedantry, produce offspring exactly resembling their parents, or turn their enemies into similar demons. Barbarity will be copied by revenge.
Lord Fitzwilliam has flown to Dublin and back. He returned to Richmond on the fourteenth day from his departure, and the next morning set out for France: no courier can do more. In my last, the description of June for orange-flowers, pray read roses: the east winds have starved all the former; but the latter, having been settled here before the wars of York and Lancaster, are naturalized to the climate, and reek not whether June arrives in summer or winter. They blow by their own old-style almanacks. Madame d'Albany might have found plenty of white ones on her own tenth of June; but, on that very day, she chose to go to see the King in the House of Lords, with the crown on his head, proroguing the Parliament.(810) What an odd rencontre! Was it philosophy or insensibility? I believe it is certain that her husband was in Westminster-hall at the coronation.
The patriarchess of the Methodists, Lady Huntingdon, is dead. Now she and Whitfield are gone, the sect will probably decline: a second crop of apostles seldom acquire the influence of the founders. To-day's paper declares upon its say-so, that Mr. Fawkener is at hand, with Catherine Slay-Czar's(811) acquiescence to our terms; but I have not entire faith in a precursor on such an occasion, and from Holland too. It looks more like a courier to the stocks; and yet I am in little expectation of a war, as I believe we are boldly determined to remain at peace. And now my pen is quite dry-you are quite sure not from laziness, but from the season of the year, which is very anti-correspondent. Adieu!
(807) See letter to George Montagu, Esq., Sept. 17, 1769, vol.3, letter 371.
(808) This work, which was the last labour of the historian, was suggested by the perusal of Major Rennell's "Memoir of a Map of Hindostan." In sending a copy of it to Gibbon, he says "No man had formed a more decided resolution of retreating early from public view' and of spending the eve of life in the tranquillity of professional and domestic occupations; but, directly in the face of that purpose, I step forth with a new work, when just on the brink of threescore and ten. My book has met with a reception beyond what the spe lentus, pavidusque futuri, dared to expect. I find, however, like other parents, that I have a partial fondness for this child of my old age, and cannot set my heart quite at rest, until I know your opinion of it."-E.
(809) This alludes to the stories told at the time, of an ivory bed, inlaid with gold, having been presented to Queen Charlotte by Mrs. Hastings, the wife of the governor-general of India.
(810) " The Bishop of London' " writes Hannah More, " carried me to hear the King make his speech in the House of Lords. As it was quite new to me, I was very well entertained; but the thing that was most amusing was to see, among the ladies, the Princess of Stolberg, Countess of Albany, wife to the Pretender, sitting just at the foot of that throne, which she might once have expected to have mounted; and what diverted the party, when I put them in mind of it, was, that it happened to be the 10th of June, the Pretender's birthday. I have the honour to be very much like her; and this opinion was confirmed yesterday, when we met again."-Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 343.-E.
(811) Walpole rarely makes mention of Catherine without an allusion to the murder of the Czar Peter. in a letter written to Madame du Deffand, in 1769 he thus indignantly denounce Voltaire's applauses of the Empress:—"Voltaire me fait horreur Avec sa Caterine: le beau sujet de badinage que l'assassinat d'un mari, et l'usurpateur de son tr'one! Il n'est pas mal, dit-il, qu'on ait une faute r'eparer: eh! comment reparer un meurtre? Est-ce en retenant des po'etes 'a ses gages? en payant des historiens mercenaires, et en soudoyant des philosophes ridicules 'a mille lieues dc son pays? Ce sent ces 'ames viles qui chantent un Auguste, et se taisent sur ses proscriptions."-E.
Letter 385 To Miss Berry. Strawberry Hill, Tuesday night, July 12, 1791. (page 512)
I had had no letter from you for ten days, I suppose from west winds; but did receive one this morning, which had been three weeks on the road: and a charming one it was. Mr. Batt,—who dined with me Yesterday, and stayed till after breakfast to-day,—being here, I read part of It to him; and he was as much delighted as I was with your happy quotation of incedit Regina. If I could spare so much room, I might fill this paper with all he said of you both, and with all the friendly kind things he begged me to say to both from him. Last night I read to him' certain Reminiscences; and this morning he slipped from me, and walked to Cliveden, and hopes to see it again much more agreeably. I hope so too, and that I shall be with him.
I wish there were not so many f'etes at Florence; they are worse for you both than an Italian sultriness: but, if you do go to them, I am glad you have More northern weather. News I have none, but that Calonne arrived in London on Sunday: you may be sure I do not know for what. In a word, I have no more opinion of his judgment than of his integrity. Now I must say a syllable about myself; but don't be alarmed! It is not the gout; it is worse: it is the rheumatism, which I have had in my shoulder ever since it attended the gout last December. It was almost gone till last Sunday, when, the Bishop of London preaching a charity sermon in our church, -whither I very. very seldom venture to hobble, I would go to hear him; both out of civility, and as I am very intimate with him. The church was crammed; and, though it rained, every window was open. However, at night I went to bed; but at two I waked with such exquisite pain in my, rheumatic right shoulder, that I think I scarce ever felt greater torture from the gout.
Letter 386 To The Miss Berrys. Strawberry Hill, July 26, 1791. (page 512)
Ten months are gone of the longest year that ever was born—a baker's year, for it has thirteen months to the dozen! As our letters are so long interchanging, it is not beginning too early to desire You will think of settling the stages to which I must direct to you in your route. Nay, I don't know whether it is not already too late: I am sure it will be, if I am to stay for an answer to this; but I hope you will have thought on it before you receive this. I am so much recovered as to have been abroad. I cannot say my arm is glib yet; but, if I waited for the total departure of' the rheumatism, I might stay at home till the national debt is paid. My fair writing is a proof of my lameness: I labour as if I were engraving; and drop no words, as I do in my ordinary hasty scribbling.
Lady Cecilia tells me that her nephew, Mr. West,(812) who was with you at Pisa, declares he is in love with you both; so I am not singular. You two may like to hear this, though no novelty to you; but it will not satisfy Mr. Berry, who will be impatient for news from Birmingham: but there are no more, nor any-whence else. There has not been another riot in any of the three kingdoms. The villain Paine came over for the Crown and Anchor;(813) but, finding that his pamphlet had not set a straw on fire, and that the 14th of July was as little in fashion as the ancient gunpowder-plot, he dined at another tavern with a few quaking conspirators; and probably is returning to Paris, where he is engaged in a controversy with the Abb'e Sieyes, about the plus or minus of rebellion. The rioters in Worcestershire, whom I mentioned in my last, were not a detachment from Birmingham, but volunteer incendiaries from the capital; who went, according to the rights of men, with the mere view of plunder, and threatened gentlemen to burn their houses, if not ransomed. Eleven of these disciples of Paine are in custody; and Mr. Merry, Mrs. Barbauld, and Miss Helen Williams will probably have subjects for elegies. Deborah and Jael, I believe, were invited to the Crown and Anchor, and had let their nails grow accordingly: but, somehow or other, no poissonni'eres were there, and the two prophetesses had no opportunity that day of exercising their talents or talons. Their French allies, cock and hen, have a fairer field open; and the Jacobins, I think, will soon drive the National Assembly to be better royalists than ever they were, in selfdefence.
You have indeed surprised me by your account of the strange credulity of poor King Louis's escape in safety! In these villages we heard of his flight late in the evening, and, the very next morning, of his being retaken.(814) Much as he, at least the Queen, has suffered, I am persuaded the adventure has hastened general confusion, and will increase the royal party; though perhaps their Majesties, for their personal safeties, had better have awaited the natural progress of anarchy. The enormous deficiencies of money, and the total insubordination of the army, both apparent and uncontradicted, from the reports made to the National Assembly, show what is Coming. Into what such a chaos will Subside, it would be silly to attempt to guess. Perhaps it is not wiser in the exiles to expect to live to see a resettlement in their favour. One thing I have for these two years thought probable to arrive—a division, at least, a dismemberment of France. Despotism could no longer govern so unwieldy a machine; a republic would be still less likely to hold it together. If foreign powers should interfere, they will take care to pay themselves with what is 'a leur biensance; and that, in reality, would be serving France too. So much for my speculations! and they have never varied. We are so far from intending to new-model our government and dismiss the Royal Family, annihilate the peerage, cashier the hierarchy, and lay open the land to the first occupier, as Dr. Priestley, and Tom Paine, and the Revolution Club humbly proposed, that we are even encouraging the breed of princes. It is generally believed that the Duke of York is going to marry the Princess of Prussia, the King's daughter by his first wife, and his favourite child. I do not affirm it; but many others do.(815)
Thursday night, late.
Lady Di. has told me an extraordinary fact. Catherine Slay-Czar sent for Mr. Fawkener(816) and desired he will order for her a bust of Charles Fox; and she will place it between Demosthenes and Cicero (pedantry she learnt from her French authors, and which our schoolboys would be above using); for his eloquence has saved two great nations from a war—by his opposition to it, s'entend: so the peace is no doubt made. She could not have addressed her compliment worse than to Mr. Fawkener, sent by Mr. Pitt, and therefore so addressed; and who of all men does not love Mr. Fox, and Mr. Fox who has no vainglory, will not care a straw for the flattery, and will understand it too. Good night!
(812) The Honourable Septimus West, uncle of the present Earl of Delawarr. He died of consumption in October 1793.
(813) The great dinner at the Crown and Anchor tavern, in celebration of the anniversary of the French revolution.-E.
(814) The flight of the Royal Family of France to, and return from, Varennes.
(815) The marriage of the Duke of York with Frederica Charlotte Ulrica Catherine, eldest daughter of the King of Prussia, was solemnized, first in Prussia, on the 29th of September, and again in England, on the 23d of November, 1791. For Walpole's account of her Royal Highness's visit to Strawberry Hill, see his letter to the Miss Berrys of the 25th of September, 1793.-E.
(816. Mr. Fawkener was the son of Sir Everard Fawkener, He was one of the principal clerks of the privy council, and had been sent on a secret mission to Russia.-E.
Letter 387 To Miss Berry. Strawberry Hill, August 17, 1791. (page 514)
No letter from Florence this post, though I am wishing for one every day! The illness of a friend is bad, but is augmented by distance. Your letters say you are quite recovered; but the farther you are from me, the oftener I want to hear that recovery repeated: and any delay in hearing revives my apprehensions of a return of your fever. I am embarrassed, too, about your plan. It grows near to the time you Proposed beginning your journey. I do not write with any view to hastening that, which I trust will entirely depend on the state of your health and strength; but I am impatient to know your intentions: in short, I feel that, from this time to your arrival, my letters will grow very tiresome. I have heard to-day, that Lord and Lady Sheffield, who went to visit Mr. Gibbon at Lausanne, met with great trouble and impertinence at almost every post in France. in Switzerland there is a furious spirit of democracy, or demonocracy. They made great rejoicings on the recapture of the King of France. Oh! why did you leave England in such a turbulent era! When will you sit down on the quiet banks of the Thames?
Since I began my letter, I have received yours of the 2d, two days later than Usual; and a most comfortable one it is. My belief and my faith are now of the same religion. I do believe you quite recovered. You, in the mean time, are talking of my rheumatism-quite an old story. Not that it is gone, though the pain is. The lameness in my shoulder remains, and I am writing on my lap: but the complaint is put upon the establishment; like old servants, that are of no use, fill up the place of those that could do something, and yet still remain in the house.
I know nothing new, public or private. that is worth telling. The stocks are transported with the pacification with Russia, and do not care for what it has cost to bully the Empress to no purpose; and say, we can afford it. Nor can Paine and Priestley persuade them that France is much happier than we are, by having ruined itself. The poor French here are in hourly expectation of as rapid a counterrevolution as what happened two years ago. Have you seen the King of Sweden's letter to his minister, enjoining him to look dismal, and to take care not to be knocked on the head for so doing? It deserves to be framed with M. de Bouill'e's bravado.(817) You say you will write me longer letters when you know I am well. Your recovery has quite the contrary effect on me: I could scarce restrain my pen while I had apprehensions about you; now you are well, the goosequill has not a word to say. One would think it had belonged to a physician. I shall fill my vacuum with some lines that General Conway has sent me, written by I know not whom, on Mrs. Harte, Sir William Hamilton's pantomime mistress, or wife, who acts all the antique statues in an Indian shawl. I have not seen her yet, so am no judge; but people are mad about her wonderful expression, which I do not conceive; so few antique statues having any expression at all, nor being designed to have it. The Apollo has the symptoms of dignified anger:(818) the Laocoon and his sons, and Niobe and her family,(819) are all expression;' and a few more: but what do the Venuses, Floras, Hercules, and a thousand others tell, but the magic art of the sculptor, and their own graces and proportions?
I have been making up some pills of patience, to be taken occasionally, when you have begun your journey, and I do not receive your letters regularly; which may happen when you are .on the road. I recommend you to St. James of Compost-antimony, to whom St. Luke was an ignorant quack. Adieu!
(817) "The Marquis de Bouill'e, in order to draw upon himself the indignation of the Assembly, addressed to it a letter, which might be called mad, but for the generous motive which dictated it. He avowed himself the sole author of the King's journey, though, on the contrary, he had opposed it. He declared, in the name of the Sovereign, that Paris should be responsible for the safety of the Royal Family, and that the slightest injury offered to them should be signally avenged. The Assembly winked at this generous bravado, and threw the whole blame on Bouill'e; who had nothing to fear, for he was already abroad." Thiers, vol. i. p. 197.-E.
(818) "In his eye And nostril beautiful disdain, and might And majesty, flash their full lightnings by, Developing in that one glance the Deity." Byron.-E.
(819) "Go see Laocoon's torture dignifying pain— A father's love and mortal's agony With an immortal's patience blending:—Vain The struggle: vain against the coiling strain And gripe, and deepening of the dragon's grasp, The old man's clench, the long envenom'd chain Rivets the living links,—the enormous asp Enforces pang on pang, and stifles gasp on gasp." Ibid.-E.
Letter 388 To The Miss Berrys. Berkeley Square, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 1791. (page 516)
I am come to town to meet Mr. Conway and Lady Ailesbury; and, as I have no letter from you yet to answer, I will tell you how agreeably I have passed the last three days; though they might have been improved had you shared them, as I wished, and as I sometimes do wish. On Saturday evening I was at the Duke of Queensberry's (at Richmond, s'entend) with a small company: and there were Sir William Hamilton and Mrs. Harte; who, on the 3d of next month, previous to their departure, is to be made Madame l'Envoy'ee 'a Naples, the Neapolitan Queen having promised to receive her in that quality. Here she cannot be presented, where only such over-virtuous wives as the Duchess of Kingston and Mrs. Hastings—who could go with a husband in each hand—are admitted. Why the Margravine of Anspach, with the same pretensions, was not, I do not understand; perhaps she did not attempt it. But I forgot to retract, and make amende honourable to Mrs. Harte. I had only heard of her attitudes; and those, in dumb show, I have not yet seen. Oh! but she sings admirably; has a very fine, strong voice: is an excellent buffa, and an astonishing tragedian. She sung Nina in the highest perfection; and there her attitudes were a whole theatre of grace and various expressions.
The next evening I was again at Queensberry-house, where the Comtesse Emilie de Boufflers played on her harp, and the Princesse di Castelcigala, the Neapolitan minister's wife, danced one of her country dances, with castanets, very prettily, with her husband. Madame du Barry was there too, and I had a good deal of frank conversation with her about Monsieur de Choiseul; having been at Paris at the end of his reign and the beginning of hers, and of which I knew so much by my intimacy with the Duchesse de Choiseul.
On Monday was the boat-race. I was in the great room at the Castle, with the Duke of Clarence, Lady Di., Lord Robert Spencer,(820) and the House of Bouverie(821) to see the boats start from the bridge to Thistleworth, and back to a tent erected on Lord Dysart's meadow, just before Lady Di.'s windows; whither we went to see them arrive, and where we had breakfast. For the second heat, I sat in my coach on the bridge; and did not stay for the third. The day had been coined on purpose, with my favourite southeast wind. The scene, both up the river and down, was what only Richmond upon earth can exhibit. The crowds on those green velvet meadows and on the shores, the yachts, barges, pleasure and small boats, and the windows and gardens lined with spectators, were so delightful, that when I came home from that vivid show, I thought Strawberry looked as dull and solitary as a hermitage. At night there was a ball at the Castle, and illuminations, with the Duke's cipher, etc. in coloured lamps, as were the houses of his Royal Highness's tradesmen. I went again in the evening to the French ladies on the Green, where there was a bonfire; but, you may believe, not to the ball.
Well! but you, who have had a fever with f'etes, had rather hear the history of the new soi-disante Margravine. She has been in England with her foolish Prince, and not only notified their marriage to the Earl,(822) her brother, who did not receive it propitiously, but his Highness informed his lordship by a letter, that they have an usage , in his country of taking a wife with the left hand; that he had' espoused his lordship's sister in that manner; and intends, as soon as she shall be a widow,(823) to marry her with his right hand also. The Earl replied, that he knew she was married to an English peer, a most respectable man, and can know nothing of her marrying any other man; and so they are gone to Lisbon. Adieu!
(820) Brother to Lady Diana Beauclerc.
(821) The family of the Hon. Edward Bouverie, brother to the Earl of Radnor.
(822) Of Berkeley.
(823) Lady Craven became a widow in the following month, and was married to the Margrave of Anspach in October. See ante, p. 387, letter 305.
Letter 389 To The Miss Berrys. Strawberry Hill, Sept. 11, 1791. (page 517)
Though I am delighted to know, that of thirteen doleful months but two remain, yet how full of anxiety will they be! You set out in still hot weather, and will taste very cold before you arrive! Accidents, inns, roads, mountains, and the sea, are all in my map!- but I hope no slopes to be run down, no f'etes for a new Grand Duke. I should dread your meeting armies, if I had much faith in the counter-revolution said to be on the anvil. The French ladies in my vicinage (a, word of the late Lord Chatham's coin) are all hen-a-hoop on the expectation of a grand alliance formed for that purpose, and I believe think they shall be at Paris before you are in England; but I trust one is more certain than the other. That folly and confusion increase in France every hour, I have no doubt, and absurdity and contradictions as rapidly. Their constitution, which they had voted should be immortal and unchangeable,-though they deny that any thing antecedent to themselves ought to have been so,-they are now of opinion must be revised at the commencement of next century; and they are agitating a third constitution, before they have thought of a second, or finished the first! Bravo! In short, Louis Onze could not have laid deeper foundations for despotism than these levellers, who have rendered the name of liberty odious—the surest way of destroying the dear essence!
I have no news for you, but a sudden match patched up for Lord Blandford, with a little more art than was employed by the fair Gunnilda. It is with Lady Susan Stewart, Lord Galloway's daughter, contrived by and at the house of her relation and Lord Blandford's friend, Sir Henry Dashwood ; and it is to be so instantly, that her grace, his mother, will scarce have time to forbid the bans.(824)
We have got a codicil to summer, that is as delightful as, I believe, the seasons in the Fortunate Islands. It is pity it lasts but till seven in the evening, and then one remains with a black chimney for five hours. I wish the sun was not so fashionable as never to come into the country till autumn and the shooting season; as if Niobe's children were not hatched and fledged before the first of September. Apropos, Sir William Hamilton has actually married his Gallery of Statues, and they are set out on their return to Naples. I am sorry I did not see her attitudes, which Lady Di. (a tolerable judge!) prefers to any thing she ever saw: still I do not much care. I have at this moment a commercial treaty with Italy, and hope in two months to be a greater gainer by the exchange; and I shall not be SO generous as Sir William, and exhibit my wives in pantomime to the public. 'Tis well I am to have the originals again; for that wicked swindler, Miss Foldson, has not yet given up their portraits.
The newspapers are obliged to live Upon the diary of the King's motions at Weymouth. Oh! I had forgot. Lord Cornwallis has taken Bangalore by storm, promises Seringapatam, and Tippoo Saib has sued for peace. Diamonds will be as plenty as potatoes, and gold is as common as copper-money in Sweden. I was told last night, that a director of the Bank affirms, that two millions five hundred thousand pounds, in specie, have already been remitted or brought over hither from France since their revolution.