January 1. 1775. a happy new year!
I walk! I walk! walk alone!—I have been five times quite round my rooms to-day, and my month is not up! The day after to-morrow I shall go down into the dining-room; the next week to take the air: and then if Mrs. * * * * is very pressing, why, I don't know what may happen. Well! but you want news, there are none to be had. They think there is a ship lost with Gage's despatches. Lady Temple gives all her diamonds to Miss Nugent.(184) Lord Pigot lost 400 pounds the other night at Princess Amelia's. Miss Davis(185) has carried her cause against Mrs. Yates and is to sing again at the Opera. This is all my coffee-house furnished this morning.
(178) Mr. Conway and the ladies of his party had met with the most flattering and distinguished reception at Paris from every body but the Duc and Duchesse de Choiseul, who rather seemed to decline their acquaintance.
(179) The author of the Voyage du Jenne Anacharsis.
(180) A name given to the Duc de Choiseul by Madame du Deffand.
(181) Verses written by the Chevalier de Boufflers, to be presented by Madame du Deffand to the Duke and Duchess of Choiseul.
(182) They were addressed to M. do Malesherbes, then premier president de la Cour des Aides; afterwards, still more distinguished by his having been the intrepid advocate Selected by the unfortunate Louis the Sixteenth on his trial. He soon after perished by the same guillotine, from which he could not preserve his ill-fated master-E.
(183) "The Antiquities of Furness; or an account of the Royal Abbey of St. mary, in the vale Of Nightshade, near Dalton, in Furness." London, 1774 4to. This volume, which was dedicated to Lord George Cavendish, Was written by Thomas West, the antiquary, who was likewise the author of "A Guide to the Lakes in Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Lancashire."-E.
(184) Mary, only daughter and heiress of Robert Earl Nugent, of the kingdom of Ireland. She was married, on the 16th of May, 1775, to George Grenville, second Earl Temple, who then assumed, by royal permission, the surnames of Nugent and Temple before that of Grenville, and the privilege of signing Nugent before all titles whatsoever. In 1784, he was created Marquis of Buckingham.-E.
(185) Cecilia Davis known in Italy by the name of L'Inglesina, first appeared at the Opera in 1773. She was considered on the Continent as second only to Gabrieli, and in England is said to have been surpassed only by Mrs. Billington. She was a pupil of the celebrated Hasse and, after having taught several crowned heads, died at an advanced age, and in very distressed circumstances, in 1836.-E.
Letter 85To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Arlington Street, Jan. 9, 1775. (page 124)
I every day intended to thank you for the copy of Nell Gwyn's letter, till it was too late; the gout came, and Made me moult my goosequill. The letter is very curious, and I am as well content as with the original. It is lucky you do not care for news more recent Than the Reformation. I should have none to tell you; nay, nor earlier neither. Mr. Strutt's(186) second volume I suppose you have seen. He showed me two or three much better drawings from pictures in the possession of Mr. Ives. One of them made me very happy; it is a genuine portrait of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, and is the individual same face as that I guessed to be his in my Marriage of Henry VI. They are infinitely more like each other, than any two modern portraits of one person by different painters. I have been laughed at for thinking the skull of Duke Humphrey at St. Albans proved my guess; and yet it certainly does, and is the more like, as the two portraits represent him very bald, with only a ringlet of hair, as monks have. Mr. Strutt is going to engrave his drawings. Yours faithfully.
(186) His " Complete Views of the Manners, Customs, Arms, Habits, etc. of the Inhabitants of England from the arrival of the Saxons till the reign of Henry the VIII.; with a short Account of the Britons during the Government of the Romans."-E.
Letter 86 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. Arlington Street, Jan, 15, 1775. (page 124)
You have made me very happy by saying your journey to Naples is laid aside. Perhaps it made too great an impression on me; but you must reflect, that all my life I have satisfied myself with your being perfect, instead of trying to be so myself. I don't ask you to return, though I wish it: in truth there is nothing to invite you. I don't want you to come and breathe fire and sword against the Bostonians, like that second Duke of Alva, the inflexible Lord George Germain; or to anathematize the court and its works, like the incorruptible Burke, who scorns lucre, except when he can buy a hundred thousand acres from naked Caribs for a song. I don't want you to do any thing like a party-man. I trust you think of every party as I do, with contempt, from Lord Chatham's mustard-bowl down to Lord Rockingham's hartshorn. All, perhaps, will be tried in their turns, and yet, if they had genius, might not be Mighty enough to save us. From some ruin or other I think nobody can, and what signifies an option of mischiefs? An account is come of the Bostonians having voted an army of sixteen thousand men, who are to be called minute-men, as they are to be ready at a minute's warning. Two directors or commissioners, I don't know what they are called, are appointed. There has been too a kind of mutiny in the fifth regiment. A soldier was found drunk on his post. Gage, in his time of danger, thought vigour necessary, and sent the fellow to a court-martial. They ordered two hundred lashes. The general ordered them to improve their sentence. Next day it was published in the Boston Gazette. He called them before him, and required them on oath to abjure the communication, three officers refused. Poor Gage is to be scape-goat, not for this, but for what was a reason against employing him, incapacity. I Wonder at the precedent! Howe is talked of for his successor. Well, I have done with you!—Now I shall go gossip with Lady Ailesbury
You must know, Madam, that near Bath is erected a new Parnassus, composed of three laurels,- a myrtle-tree, a weeping-willow, and a view of the Avon, which has been new-christened Helicon. Ten years ago there lived a Madam Riggs, an old rough humourist who passed for a wit; her daughter, who passed for nothing, married to a Captain Miller, full of good-natured officiousness. These good folks were friends of Miss Rich,(187) who carried me to dine with them at Batheaston, now Pindus. They caught a little of what was then called taste, built and planted, and begot children, till the whole caravan- were forced to. go abroad to retrieve. Alas! Mrs. Miller is returned-' a beauty, a genius, a Sappho, a Muse, as romantic as Mademoiselle Scuderi, and as sophisticated as Mrs. Vesey. The captain's fingers are loaded with cameos, his tongue runs over with virt'u, and that both may contribute to the improvement of their own country, they have introduced bouts-rim'es as a new discovery. They hold a Parnassus-fair every Thursday, give out rhymes and themes, and all the flux of quality at Bath contend for the prizes. A Roman vase dressed with pink ribands and myrtles receives the poetry which is drawn out every festival; six judges of these Olympic games retire and select the brightest compositions, which the respective successful acknowledge, kneel to Mrs. Calliope Miller, kiss her fair hand, and are crowned by it with myrtle, with—I don't know what. You may think this is fiction, or exaggeration. Be dumb, unbelievers! The collection is printed, published. (188) Yes, on my faith, there are bouts-rim'es on a buttered muffin, made by her grace the Duchess of Northumberland;(189) receipts to make them by Corydon the venerable, alias George Pitt; others very pretty, by Lord Palmerston;(190) some by Lord Carlisle; many by Mrs. Miller herself, that have no fault but wanting metre; and immortality promised to her without end or measure. In short, since folly, which never ripens to madness but in this hot climate, ran distracted, there was never any thing so entertaining or so dull—for you cannot read so long as I have been telling.(191)
Before I could finish this, I received your despatches by Sir Thomas Clarges, and a most entertaining letter in three tomes. It is being very dull, not to be able to furnish a quarter so much from your own country-but what can I do? You are embarked in a new world, and I am living on the scraps of an old one, of which I am tired. The best I can do is to reply to your letter, and not attempt to amuse you when I have nothing to say. I think the Parliament meets today, or in a day or two-but I hope you are coming. Your brother says so, and Madame du Deffand says so; and sure it is time to leave Paris, when you know ninety of the inhabitants.(192) There seems much affectation in those that will not know you;(193) and affectation is always a littleness—it has been even rude: but to be sure the rudeness one feels least, was that which is addressed to one before there has been any acquaintance.
Ninon came,(194) because, on Madame du Deffand's mentioning it, I concluded it a new work, and am disappointed. I can say this by heart. The picture of Madame de Prie, which you don't seem to value, and so Madame du Deffand says, I believe I shall dispute with you; I think it charming, but when offered to me years ago, I would not take it—it was now given to you a little a mon intention.
I am sorry that, amongst all the verses you have sent me, you should have forgotten what you commend the most, Les trois exclamations. I hope you will bring them with you. Voltaire's are intolerably stupid, and not above the level of officers in garrison. Some of M. de Pezay's are very pretty, though there is too much of them; and in truth I had seen them before. Those on Madame de la Vali'ere pretty too, but one is a little tired of Venus and the Graces. I am most pleased with your own—and if you have a mind to like them still better, make Madame du Deffand show you mine, which are neither French, nor measure, nor metre. She is unwilling to tell me so-, which diverts me. Yours are really genteel and new.
I envy you the Russian Anecdotes(195) more than M. de Chamfort's Fables, of which I know nothing; and as you say no more, I conclude I lose not much. The stories of Sir Charles(196) are so far not new to me, that I heard them of him from abroad after he was mad: but I believe no mortal of his acquaintance ever heard them before; nor did they at all correspond with his former life, with his treatment of his wife, or his history with Mrs. Woffington, qui n''etait pas dupe. I say nothing on the other stories you tell me of billets dropped,(197) et pour cause.
I think I have touched all your paragraphs, and have nothing new to send you in return. In truth, I go nowhere but into private rooms,; for I am not enough recovered to relaunch into the world, when I have so good an excuse for avoiding it. The bootikins have done wonders; but even two or three such victories will cost too dear. I submit very patiently to my lot. I am old and broken, and it never was my system to impose upon myself when one can deceive nobody else. I have spirits enough for my use, that is, amongst my friends and contemporaries: I like Young people and their happiness for every thing but to live with; but I cannot learn their language, nor tell them old stories, of which I must explain every step as I go. Politics' the proper resource of age, I detest—I am Contented, but see few that are so—and I never will be led by any man's self-interest. A great scene is opening, of which I cannot expect to see the end! I am pretty sure not a happy end—so that, in short, I am determined to think the rest of my life but a postscript: and as this has been too long an One, I will wish You good night, repeating what you know already, that the return of you three is the most agreeable prospect I expect to see realized. Adieu!
(187) Daughter of Sir Robert Rich, and sister to the second wife of George Lord Lyttelton.
(188) They were published under the title of "Poetical Amusements at a Villa near Bath." An edition appeared in 1781, in four volumes.-E.
(189) "The pen which I now take and brandish Has long lain useless in my standish. Know, every maid, from her on patten, To her who shines in glossy satin, That could they now prepare an oglio >From best receipt of book in folio, Ever so fine, for all their puffing, I should prefer a butter'd muffin; A muffin Jove himself might feast on, If eat with Miller at Batheaston."-E.
(190) The following are the concluding lines of a poem on Beauty, by Lord Palmerston:—
"In vain the stealing hand of Time May pluck the blossoms of their prime; Envy may talk of bloom decay'd, How lilies droop and roses fade; But Constancy's unalter'd truth, Regardful of the vows of youth, Affection that recalls the past, And bids the pleasing influence last, Shall still preserve the lover's flame In every scene of life the same; And still with fond endearments blend The wife, the mistress, and the friend!"-E.
(191) "Lady Miller's collection of verses by fashionable people, which were put into her vase at Batheaston, in competition for honourary prizes being mentioned, Dr. Johnson held them very cheap: 'Bouts-rim'es,' said be, 'is a mere conceit, and an old conceit; I wonder how people were persuaded to write in that manner for this lady.' I named a gentleman of his acquaintance who wrote for the vase. Johnson—'He was a blockhead for his pains!' Boswell. 'The Duchess of Northumberland wrote.' Johnson: 'Sir, the Duchess of Northumberland may do what she pleases; nobody will say any thing to a lady of her high rank: but I should be apt to throw * * * *'s verses in his face.'" Boswell. vol. v. p. 227.-E.
(192) Madame du Deffand, writing of General Conway to Walpole, had said—"Savez-vous combien il connait d'ej'a de personnes dans Paris? Quatre.vingt dix. Il n'est nullement sauvage."-E.
(193) The Duc du Choiseul.
(194) The Life of Ninon de l'Enclos.
(195) The account of the revolution in Russia which placed Catherine II. on the throne, by M. de la Rulhi'ere, afterwards Published. Mr. Conway had heard it read in manuscript in a private society.
(196) Sir Charles Hanbury Williams.
(197) This alludes to circumstances Mr. Conway mentions as having taken place at a ball at Versailles.
Letter 87 To The Hon. H. S. Conway.(198) January 22, 1775. (page 128)
After the magnificent overture for peace from Lord Chatham, that I announced to Madame du Deffand, you will be most impatient for my letter. Ohin'e! you will be sadly disappointed. Instead of drawing a circle with his wand round the House of Lords, and ordering them to pacify America, on the terms he prescribed before they ventured to quit the circumference of his commands, he brought a ridiculous, uncommunicated, unconsulted motion for addressing the King immediately to withdraw the troops from Boston, as an earnest of lenient measures. The Opposition stared and shrugged; the courtiers stared and laughed. His own two or three adherents left him, except Lord Camden and Lord Shelburne, and except Lord Temple, who is not his adherent and was not there. Himself was not much animated, but very hostile; particularly on Lord Mansfield, who had taken care not to be there. He talked of three millions of Whigs in America, and told the ministers they were checkmated and had not a move left to make. Lord Camden was as strong. Lord Suffolk was thought to do better than ever, and Lord Lyttelton's declamation was commended as usual. At last, Lord Rockingham, very punily, and the Duke of Richmond joined and supported the motion; but at eight at night it was rejected by 68 to 18, though the Duke of Cumberland voted for it.(199)
This interlude would be only entertaining, if the scene was not so totally gloomy. The cabinet have determined on civil war, and regiments are going from Ireland and our West Indian islands. On Thursday the plan of the war is to be laid before both Houses. To-morrow the merchants carry their petition; which, I suppose, will be coolly received, since, if I hear true, the system is to cut off all traffic with America at present—as, you know, we can revive it when we please. There! there is food for meditation! Your reflections, as you understand the subject better than I do, will go further than mine could. Will the French you converse with be civil and keep their countenances?
George Damer(200) t'other day proclaimed your departure for the 25th; but the Duchess of Richmond received a whole cargo of letters from ye all on Friday night, which talk of a fortnight or three weeks longer. Pray remember it is not decent to be dancing at Paris, when there is a civil war in your own country. You would be like the Country squire, who passed by with his hounds as the battle of Edgehill began.
I am very sorry to tell you the Duke of Gloucester is dying. About three weeks ago the physicians said it was absolutely necessary for him to go abroad immediately. He dallied, but was actually preparing. He now cannot go, and probably will not live many days, as he has had two shivering fits, and the physicians give the Duchess no hopes.(201) Her affliction and courage are not to be described; they take their turns as she is in the room with him or not. His are still greater. His heart is broken, and yet his firmness and coolness amazing. I pity her beyond measure; and it is not a time to blame her having accepted an honour which so few women could have resisted, and scarce one ever has resisted.
The London and Bristol merchants carried their petitions yesterday to the House of Commons. The Opposition contended for their being heard by the committee of the whole House, who are to consider the American papers; but the Court sent them to a committee(202) after a debate till nine at night, with nothing very remarkable, on divisions of 197 to 81, and 192 to 65. Lord Stanley(203) spoke for the first time; his voice and manner pleased, but his matter was not so successful. Dowdeswell(204 is dead, and Tom Hervey.(205) The latter sent for his Wife and acknowledged her. Don't forget to inform me when my letters must stop. Adieu! Yours ever.
(198) Now first printed.
(199) In the Chatham correspondence will be found another, and a very different, account of this debate, in a letter to Lady Chatham, from their son William:—"Nothing," he says, "prevented my father's speech from being the most forcible that can be imagined, and the administration fully felt it. The matter and manner were striking; far beyond what I can express. It was every thing that was superior; and though it had not the desired effect on an obdurate House of Lords, it must have an infinite effect without doors, the bar being crowded with Americans, etc. Lord Suffolk, I cannot say answered him, but spoke after him. He was a contemptible orator indeed, with paltry matter and a whining delivery. Lord Shelburne spoke well, and supported the motion warmly. Lord Camden was supreme, with only One exception, and as zealous as possible. Lord Rockingham spoke shortly, but sensibly; and the Duke of Richmond well, and with much candour as to the Declaratory act. Upon the whole, it was a noble debate. The ministry were violent beyond expectation, almost to madness. instead of recalling the troops now there, they talked of sending more. My father has had no pain, but is lame in one ankle near the instep from standing so long. No wonder he is lame: his first speech lasted above an hour, and the second half an hour; surely, the two finest speeches that ever were made before, unless by himself!" Dr. Franklin too, who heard the debate, says, in reference to Lord Chatham's speech-"I am filled with admiration of that truly great man. I have seen, in the course of my life, sometimes eloquence without wisdom and often wisdom without eloquence: in the present instance, I see both united, and both, as I think, in the highest degree possible." Vol. iv. pp. 375, 385.-E.
(200) Afterwards second Earl of Dorchester-E.
(201) His Royal Highness survived this illness more than thirty years.-E.
(202) This committee was wittily called by Mr. Burke, and afterwards generally known as "the committee of oblivion."-E.
(203) Afterwards Earl of Derby-E.
(204) The Right Hon. William Dowdeswell, of Pull Court, member for the county of Worcester. He died at Nice, whither he had gone for the recovery of his health.-E.
(205) The Hon. Thomas Hervey, second son of John first Earl of Bristol.-E.
Letter 88 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Arlington Street, April 11, 1775. (page 129)
I thank you, dear Sir, for your kind letter., and the good account YOU give of yourself-nor can I blame your change from writing that is, transcribing, to reading—sure you ought to divert yourself rather than others-though I should not say s, if your pen had not confined itself to transcripts.
I am perfectly well, and heed not the weather; though I wish the seasons came a little oftener into their own places instead of each Other's. From November, till a fortnight ago, we had much warmth that I should often be glad of in summer—and since we are not sure of it then, was rejoiced when I could get it. For myself, I am a kind of delicate Hercules; and though made of paper, have, by temperance, by using as much cold water inwardly and outwardly as I can, and by taking no precautions against catching cold, and braving all weathers, become capable of suffering by none. My biennial visitant, the gout, has yielded to the bootikins, and stayed with me this last time but five weeks in lieu of five months. Stronger men perhaps would kill themselves by my practice, but it has done so long with me, I shall trust to it.
I intended writing to you on Gray's Life,(206) if you had not prevented me. I am charmed with it, and prefer it to all the biography I ever saw. The style is excellent, simple, unaffected; the method admirable, artful, and judicious. He has framed the fragments, as a person said, so well, that they are fine drawings, if not finished pictures. For my part, I am so interested in it, that I shall certainly read it over and over. I do not find that it is likely to be the case with many yet. Never was a book, which people pretended to expect so much with impatience, less devoured-at least in London, where quartos are not of quick digestion. Faults are found, I hear, at Eton with the Latin Poems for false quantities-no matter-they are equal to the English -and can one say more?
At Cambridge, I should think the book would both offend much and please; at least if they are as sensible to humour as to ill-humour; and there is orthodoxy enough to wash down a camel. The Scotch and the Reviewers will be still more angry. and the latter have not a syllable to pacify them. So they who wait for their decisions will probably miss of reading the most entertaining book in the world—a punishment which they who trust to such wretched judges deserve; for who are more contemptible than such judges, but they who pin their faith on them?
In answer to you, yourself, my good Sir, I shall not subscribe to your censure of Mr. Mason, whom I love and admire, and who has shown the greatest taste possible in the execution of this work. Surely he has said enough in gratitude, and done far beyond what gratitude could demand., It seems delicacy in expatiating on the legacy; particularizing more gratitude would have lessened the evidence of friendship, and made the 'justice done to Gray's character look more like a debt.,_ He speaks of him in slender circumstances, not as distressed: and so he was till after the deaths of his parents and aunts; and even then surely not rich. I think he does somewhere say that he meant to be buried with his mother, and not specifying any other place confirms it. In short, Mr. Mason shall never know your criticisms; he has a good heart, and would feel them, though certainly not apprised that he would merit them. A man who has so called out all his -friend's virtues, could not want them himself.
I shall be much obliged to you for the prints you destine for me. The Earl of Cumberland I have, and will not rob you of. I wish you had been as successful with Mr. G. as with Mr. T. I mean, if you are not yet paid-now is the time, for he has sold his house to the Duke of Marlborough-I suppose he will not keep his prints long: he changes his pursuits Continually and extravagantly-and then sells to indulge new fancies.
I have had a piece of luck within these two days. I have long lamented our having no certain piece written by Anne Boleyn's brother, Lord Rochford. I have found a very pretty copy of verses by him in the new published volume of the Nuge Antiquae, though by mistake he is called, Earl of, instead Of Viscount, Rochford. They are taken from a MS-dated twenty-eight years after the author's death, and are much in the manner of Lord Surrey's and Sir T. Wyat's poems. I should at first have doubted if they were not counterfeited, on reading my Noble Authors; but then the blunder of earl for viscount would hardly have been committed. A little modernized and softened in the cadence, they would be very pretty.
I have got the rest of the Digby pictures, but at a very high rate. There is one very large of Sir Kenelm, his wife, and two sons, in exquisite preservation, though the heads of him and his wife are not so highly finished as those I have—yet the boys and draperies are so that, together with the size, it is certainly the most capital miniature in the world: there are a few more, very fine too. I shall be happy to show them to you, whenever You Burnhamize—I mean before August, when I propose making MY dear old blind friend a visit at Paris—nothing else would carry me thither. I am too old to seek diversions, and too indolent to remove to a distance by choice, though not so immovable as YOU to much less distance. Adieu! Pray tell me what you hear is said of Gray's Life at Cambridge.
(206) "The Poems of Mr. Gray: to which are prefixed Memoirs of his Life and Writings; by W, Mason, M A, York, 1775." At the end of Mason's work Mr. Cole wrote the following memorandum:— "I am by no means satisfied with this Life; it has too much the affectation of classical shortness to please me, More circumstances would have suited my taste better; besides, I think the biographer had a mind to revenge himself of the sneerings Mr. Gray put upon him, though he left him, I guess, above a thousand pounds, which is slightly hinted at only; yet Mr. Walpole was quite satisfied with the work when I made my objection." A copy of Gray's will is given in the Rev. J. Mitford's very valuable edition of the poet's works, published by Pickering, in four volumes, in 1836.-E.
Letter 89 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Arlington Street, April 5, 1775. (page 132)
The least I can do, dear Sir, in gratitude for the cargo of prints I have received to-day from you, is to send you a medicine. A pair of bootikins will set out to-morrow morning in the machine that goes from the Queen's-head in Gray's-inn-lane. To be certain, you had better send for them where the machine inns, lest they should neglect delivering them at Milton. My not losing a moment shows my zeal; but if you can bear a little pain, I should not press you to use them. I have suffered so dreadfully, that I constantly wear them to diminish the stock of gout in my constitution; but as your fit is very slight, and will not last, and as you are pretty sure by its beginning so late, that you will never have much; and s the gout certainly carries off other complaints, had not you better endure a little, when it is rather a remedy than a disease? I do not desire to be entirely delivered from the gout, for all reformations do but make room for some new grievance: and in my opinion a disorder that requires no physician, is preferable to any that does. However, I have put relief in your power, and you will judge for yourself. You must tie them as tight as you can bear, the flannel next to the flesh; and, when you take them off, it should be in bed: rub your feet with a warm cloth, and put on warm stockings, for fear of catching cold while the pores are open. It would kill any body but me, who am of adamant, to walk out in the dew in winter in my slippers in half an hour after pulling off the bootikins. A physician sent me word, good-naturedly, that there was danger of catching cold after the bootikins, unless one was careful. I thanked him, but told him my precaution was, never taking any. All the winter I pass five days in a week without walking out, and sit often by the fireside till seven in the evening. When I do go out, whatever the weather is, I go with both glasses of the coach down, and so I do at midnight out of the hottest room. I have not had a single cold, however slight, these two years.
You are too candid in submitting at once to my defence of Mr. Mason. It is true I am more charmed with his book than I almost ever was with one. I find more people like the grave letters than those of humour, and some think the latter a little affected, which is as wrong a judgment as they could make; for Gray never wrote any thing easily but things of humour. Humour was his natural and original turn—and though from his childhood he was grave and reserved, his genius led him to see things ludicrously and satirically; and though his health and dissatisfaction gave him low spirits, his melancholy turn was much more affected than his pleasantry in writing. You knew him enough to know I am in the right-but the world in general always wants to be told how to think, as well as what to think. The print, I agree with you, though like, is a very disagreeable likeness, and the worst likeness of him. It gives the primness he had under constraint; and there is a blackness in the countenance which was like him only the last time I ever saw him, when I was much struck with it: and, though I did not apprehend him in danger, it left an impression on me that was uneasy, and almost prophetic of what I heard but too soon after leaving him. Wilson drew the picture under such impression, and I could not bear it in my room; Mr. Mason altered it a little, but Still it is not well, nor gives any idea of the determined virtues of his heart. It just serves to help the reader to an image of the person whose genius and integrity they must admire, if they are so happy as to have a taste for either.
The Peep into the Gardens at Twickenham is a silly little book, of which a few little copies were printed some years ago for presents, and which now sets up for itself as a vendible book. It is a most inaccurate, superficial, blundering account of Twickenham and other places, drawn up by a Jewess, who has married twice, and turned Christian, poetess, and authoress. She has printed her poems, too, and one complimentary copy of mine, which, in good breeding, I could not help Sending her in return for violent compliments in verse to me. I do not remember that hers were good; mine I know were very bad, and certainly never intended for the press.
I bought the first volume of Manchester, but could not read it; it was much too learned for me, and seemed rather an account of Babel than Manchester, I mean in point of antiquity.(207) To be sure, it is very kind in an author to promise one the history of a country town, and give one a circumstantial account of the antediluvian world into the bargain. But I am simple and ignorant, and desire no more than I pay for. And then for my progenitors, Noah and the Saxons, I have no curiosity about them. Bishop Lyttelton used to plague me to death about barrows, and tumuli, and Roman camps, and all those bumps in the ground that do not amount to a most imperfect ichnography; but, in good truth, I am content with all arts when perfected, nor inquire how ingeniously people contrive to do without them—and I care still less for remains of art that retain no vestiges of art. Mr. Bryant,)208) who is sublime in unknown knowledge, diverted me more, yet I have not finished his work, no more than he has. There is a great ingenuity in discovering all his history [though it has never been written] by etymologies. Nay, he convinced me that the Greeks had totally mistaken all they went to learn in Egypt, etc. by doing, as the French do still, judge wrong by the ear—but as I have been trying now and then for above forty years to learn something, I have not time to unlearn it all again, though I allow this our best sort of knowledge. If I should die when I am not clear in the History of the World below its first three thousand years, I should be at a sad loss on meeting with Homer and Hesiod, or any of those moderns in the Elysian fields, before I knew what I ought to think of them. Pray do not betray my ignorance: the reviewers and such literati have called me a learned and ingenious gentleman. I am sorry they ever heard my name, but don't let them know how irreverently I speak of the erudite, whom I dare to say they admire. These wasps, I suppose, will be very angry at the just contempt Mr. Gray had for them, and will, as insects do, attempt to sting, in hopes that their twelvepenny readers will suck a little venom from the momentary tumour they raise—but good night-and once more, thank you for the prints. Yours ever.
(207) "The History of Manchester," by John Whitaker, B. D. London, 1771-3-5. 2 vols. 4to. "We talked," says Boswell, "of antiquarian researches. Johnson. 'All that is really known Of the ancient state of Britain is contained in a few Pages. We can know no more than what the old writers have told us; Yet what large books we have upon it; the whole of which, excepting such parts as are taken from these old writers, is all a dream, such as Whitaker's Manchester.'" Life of Johnson, vol. vii. p. 189.-E.
(208) Jacob Bryan, the learned author of "A New System; or, n Analysis of Ancient Mythology," 4to. 1774-6, 3 vols.; and of many other works. His character was thus finely drawn, in 1796, by Mr. Matthias, in "The Pursuits of Literature:"—"No man of literature can pass by the name of Mr. Bryant without gratitude and reverence. He is a gentleman of attainments peculiar to himself, and of classical erudition without an equal in Europe. His whole life has been spent in laborious researches, and the most curious investigations. He has a youthful fancy and a playful wit; with the mind, and occasionally with the pen of a poet; and with an ease and simplicity of style aiming only at perspicuity, and, as I think, attaining it. He has lived to see his eightieth winter (and May he yet long live!) with the esteem of the wise and good; in honourable retirement from the cares of life; with a gentleness of manners, and a readiness and willingness of literary communication seldom found. He is admired and sought after by the young who are entering on a course of study, and revered, and often followed, by those who have completed it. Nomen in exemplum sero servabirnus evo!" Mr. Bryant died in 1804, in his eighty-ninth year, in consequence Of a wound on his Shin, occasioned by his foot slipping from a chair which he had stepped on to reach a book in his library-E.
Letter 90 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Strawberry Hill, June 5, 1775. (page 134)
I am extremely concerned, dear Sir, to hear you have been so long confined by the gout. The painting of your house may, from the damp, have given you cold-I don't conceive that paint can affect one otherwise, if it does not make one sick, as it does me of all things. Dr. Heberden(209) (as every physician, to make himself talked of, will Set up Some new hypothesis,) pretends that a damp house, and even damp sheets, which have ever been reckoned fatal, are wholesome: to prove his faith he went into his own new house totally Unaired, and survived it. At Malvern, they certainly put patients into sheets just dipped in the spring-however, I am 'glad you have a better proof that dampness is not mortal, and it is better to be too cautious than too rash. I am perfectly well, and expect to be so for a year and a half-I desire no more of the bootikins than to curtail my fits.
Thank you for the note from North's Life, though, having reprinted my Painters, I shall never have an opportunity of using it. I am still more obliged to you for the offer of an Index to my Catalogue but, as I myself know exactly where to find every thing in it, and as I dare to say nobody else will want it, I shall certainly not put YOU to that trouble.
Dr. Glynn will certainly be most welcome to see my house, and shall, if I am not at home:-still I had rather know a few days before, because else he may happen to come when I have company, as I have often at this time of the year, and then it is impossible to let it be seen, as I cannot ask my company, who may have come to see it too, to go out, that somebody else may see it, and I should be Very sorry to have the Doctor disappointed. These difficulties, which have happened more than once, have obliged me to give every ticket for a particular day; therefore, if Dr. Glynn will be so good as to advertise me of the day he intends to come here, with a direction, I shall send him word what day he can see it.
I have just run through the two vast folios of Hutchins's Dorsetshire.(210) He has taken infinite pains; indeed, all but those that would make it entertaining.
Pray can you tell me any thing of some relations of my own, the Burwells? My grandfather married Sir Jeffery Burwell's daughter, of Rongham, in Suffolk. Sir Jeffery's mother, I imagine, was daughter of a Jeffery Pitman, of Suffolk; at least I know there was such a man in the latter, and that we quarter the arms of Pitman. But I cannot find who Lady Burwell, Sir Jeffery's wife, was. Edmondson has searched in vain in the Heralds' office; and I have outlived all the ancient of my family so long, that I know not of whom to Inquire, but you of the neighbourhood. There is an old walk in the park at Houghton, called "Sir Jeffery's Walk," where the old gentleman used to teach my father (Sir Robert) his book. Those very old trees encouraged my father to plant at Houghton. When people used to try to persuade him nothing would grow there, he said, why Will not other trees grow as well as those in Sir Jeffery's Walk?—Other trees have grown to some purpose! Did I ever tell you that ,my father was descended from Lord Burleigh? The latter's granddaughter, by his son Exeter, married Sir Giles Allington, whose daughter married Sir Robert Crane, father of Sir Edward Walpole's .'Wife. I want but Lady Burwell's name to Make my genealogic tree Shoot out stems every way. I have recovered a barony in fee, which has no defect but in being antecedent to any summons to Parliament, that of the Fitz Osberts: and On MY Mother's side it has mounted the Lord knows whither by the Philipps,s to Henry VIII. and has sucked in Dryden for a great-uncle: and by Lady Philipps's mother, Darcy, to Edward III. and there I stop for brevity's sake—especially as Edward III. is a second Adam; who almost is not descended from Edward 1 as posterity will be from Charles II. and all the princes in Europe from James I. I am the first antiquary of my race. People don't know how entertaining a study it is. Who begot whom is a most amusing kind of hunting; one recovers a grandfather instead of breaking one's own neck—and then one grows so pious to the memory of a thousand persons one never heard of before. One finds how Christian names came into a family, with a world of other delectable erudition. You cannot imagine how vexed I was that Bloomfield(211) died before he arrived at Houghton—I had promised myself a whole crop of notable ancestors-but I think I have pretty well unkennelled them myself. Adieu! Yours ever.
P. S. I found a family of Whaplode in Lincolnshire who give our arms, and have persuaded myself that Whaplode is a corruption of Walpole, and came from a branch when we lived at Walpole in Lincolnshire.
(209) Dr. William Heberden, the distinguished physician and medical writer, who died on the 17th of March, 1801, at the advanced age of ninety-one.-E.
(210) "The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset." London, 1774, in two volumes, folio. A second edition, corrected, augmented, and improved, by Richard Gough and John Bowyer Nichols, in four Volumes, folio, appeared in 1796-1815.-E.
(211) The Rev. Francis Blomefield, the author of an " Essay towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk," which was left unfinished by him, and continued by the Rev. Charles Parkin. It was first printed in five folio volumes: 1739-1773. A second edition, in eleven volumes, octavo, appeared in 1805-1810.-E.
Letter 91 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. Strawberry Hill, July 9, 1775. (page 136)
The whole business of this letter would lie in half a line. Shall you have room for me on Tuesday the 18th? I am putting myself into motion that I may go farther. I told Madame du Deffand how you had scolded me on her account, and she has charged me to thank you, and tell you how much she wishes to see you, too. I would give any thing to go-But the going!—However, I really think I shall, but I grow terribly affected with a maladie de famille, that of taking root at home.
I did but put my head into London on Thursday, and more bad news from America.(211) I wonder when it will be bad enough to make folks think it so, without going on! The stocks, indeed, begin to grow a little nervous, and they are apt to affect other pulses. I heard this evening here that the Spanish fleet is sailed, and that we are not in the secret whither-but I don't answer for Twickenham gazettes, and I have no better. I have a great mind to tell you a Twickenham story; and yet it will be good for nothing, as I cannot send you the accent in a letter. Here it is, and you must try to set it to the right emphasis. One of our maccaronis is dead, a Captain Mawhood, the teaman's son. He had quitted the army, because his comrades called him Captain Hyson, and applied himself to learn the classics and freethinking; and was always disputing with the parson of the parish about Dido and his own soul. He married Miss Paulin's warehouse, who had six hundred a-year; but, being very much out of conceit with his own canister, could not reconcile himself to her riding-hood—so they parted beds in three nights. Of late he has taken to writing comedies, which every body was welcome to hear him read, as he could get nobody to act them. Mrs. Mawhood has a friend, one Mrs. V * * *, a mighty plausible good sort of body, who feels for every body, and a good deal for herself, is of a certain age, wears well, has some pretensions that she thinks very reasonable still, and a gouty husband. Well! she was talking to Mr. Rafter about Captain Mawhood a little before he died. "Pray, Sir, does the Captain ever communicate his writings to Mrs. Mawhood?" "Oh, dear no, Madam; he has a sovereign contempt for her understanding." "Poor woman!" "And pray, Sir,- - give me leave to ask you: I think I have heard they very seldom sleep together!" "Oh, never, Madam! Don't you know all that?" "Poor woman!" I don't know whether you will laugh; but Mr. Raftor,(213) who tells a story better than any body, made me laugh for two hours. Good night!
(212) Of the commencement of hostilities with the Americans at Lexington on the 19th of April.-E.
(213) Mr. Raftor brother to Mrs. Clive.-E.
Letter 92 To The Hon. H. S. Conway.(214) Strawberry Hill, August 9, 1775. (page 137)
Well, I am going tout de bon, and I heartily wish I was returned. It is a horrid exchange, the cleanness and verdure and tranquillity of 'Strawberry, for a beastly ship, worse inns, the pav'e of the roads bordered with eternal rows of maimed trees, and the racket of an h'otel garni! I never doat on the months of August and September, enlivened by nothing but Lady Greenwich's speaking-trumpet—but I do not want to be amused—at least never at the expense of being put in motion. Madame du Deffand, I am sure, may be satisfied with the sacrifice I make to her!(215)
You have heard, to be sure, of the war between your brother and Foote; but probably do not know how far the latter has carried his impudence. Being asked, why Lord Hertford had refused to license his piece, he replied, "Why, he asked me to make his youngest son a box-keeper, and because I would not, he stopped my play."(216) The Duchess of Kingston offered to buy it off, but Foote would not take her money, and swears he will act her in Lady Brumpton; which to be sure is very applicable.
I am sorry to hear Lord Villiers is going to drag my lady through all the vile inns in Germany. I think he might go alone.
George Onslow told me yesterday, that the American Congress had sent terms of accommodation, and that your brother told him so; but a strange fatality attends George's news, which is rarely canonical; and I doubt this intelligence is far from being so.. I shall know more to-morrow, when I go to town to prepare for my journey on Tuesday. Pray let me hear from you, enclosed to M. Panchaud.
I accept with great joy Lady Ailesbury's offer Of coming hither in October, which will increase my joy in being at home again. I intend to set out on my return the 25th Of next month. Sir Gregory Page has left Lord Howe eight thousand pounds at present, and twelve more after his aunt Mrs. Page's death.
I cannot find any ground for believing that any proposals are come from the Congress. On the contrary, every thing looks as melancholy as possible. Adieu!
(214) Now first printed.
(215) In her letter of the 5th of August, Madame du Deffand, by way of inducement to Walpole to take the journey, says—"Je vous jure que je ne me soucierai de rien pour vous; c'est 'a dire, de vous faire faire une chose Plut'ot qu'une autre: vous serez totalement libre de toutes vos pens'ees, paroles, et actions, vous ne me verrez pas un souhait un d'esir qui Puisse contredire vos pens'ees et Vos volont'es: je saurai que M. Walpole est 'a Paris, il saura que je demeure 'a St. Joseph; il sera maitre d'y arriver, d'y rester, de s'en aller, comme il lui plaira."-E.
(216) The piece was entitled "The Trip to Calais;" in which the author having ridiculed, under the name of Kitty Crocodile, the eccentric Duchess of Kingston she offered him a sum of money to strike out the part. A correspondence took place between the parties, which ended in the Duchess making an application to Lord Hertford, at that time Lord Chamberlain, who interdicted the performance. Foote, however, brought it out, with some alterations, in the following year, under the title of "The Capuchin."-E.
Letter 93 To The Countess Of Ailesbury. >From t'other side of the water, August 17, 1775.(217) (page 138)
Interpreting your ladyship's orders in the most personal sense, as respecting the dangers of the sea, I -write the instant I am landed. I did not, in truth, set out till yesterday morning at eight o'clock; but finding the roads, horses, postilions, tides, winds, moons, and Captain Fectors in the pleasantest humour in the world, I embarked almost as soon as I arrived at Dover, and reached Calais before the sun was awake;-and here I am for the sixth time in my life, with only the trifling distance of seven-and-thirty years between my first voyage and the present. Well! I can only say in excuse, that I am got into the land of Struldburgs, where one is never too old to be young, and where la b'equille du p'ere Barnabas blossoms like Aaron's rod, or the Glastonbury thorn. Now, to be sure, I shall be a little mortified, if your ladyship wanted a letter of news, and did not at all trouble your head about my navigation. However, you will not tell one so; and therefore I will persist in believing that this good news will be received with transport at Park-place, and that the bells of Henley will be set a ringing. The rest of my adventures, must be deferred till they have happened, which is not always the case of travels. I send you no Compliments from Paris, because I have not got thither, nor delivered the bundle which Mr. Conway sent me. I did, as Your ladyship commanded; buy three pretty little medallions in frames of filigraine, for our dear old friend. They will not ruin you, having cost not a guinea and a half; but it was all I could find that was genteel and portable; and as she does not measure by guineas, but attentions, she will be as much pleased as if you had sent her a dozen acres of Park-place. As they are in bas-relief, too, they are feelable, and that is a material circumstance to her. I wish the Diomede had even so much as a pair of Nankin!
Adieu, toute la ch'ere famille! I think of October with much satisfaction; it will double the pleasure of my return.
(217) Mr. Walpole reached Paris on the 19th of August and left it on the 19th of October.-E.
Letter 94 To The Countess Of Ailesbury. Paris, August 20, 1775. (page 139)
I have been sea-sick to death: I have been poisoned by dirt and vermin; I have been stifled by beat, choked by dust, and starved for want of any thing I could touch: and yet, Madam, here, I am perfectly well, not in the least fatigued; and, thanks to the rivelled parchments, formerly faces, which I have seen by hundreds, I find myself almost as young as When I came hither first in the last century. In spite of my whims, and delicacy, and laziness, none of my grievances have been mortal: I have borne them as well as if I had set up for a philosopher, like the sages of this town. Indeed, I have found my dear old woman So well, and looking so much better than she did four years ago, that I am transported with pleasure, and thank your ladyship and Mr. Conway for driving me hither. Madame du Deffand came to me the instant I arrived, and sat by me whilst I stripped and dressed myself; for, as she said, since she cannot see there was no harm in my being stark.(218) She was charmed with your present; but was so Kind as to be so much more charmed with my arrival, that she did not think of it a moment. I sat with her till half an hour after two in the morning, and had a letter from her before MY eyes were open again. In short, her soul is immortal, and forces her body to bear it company.
This is the very eve of Madame Clotilde's(219) Wedding - but Monsieur Turgot, to the great grief of Lady Mary Coke, will suffer no cost, but one banquet, one ball, and a play at Versailles. Count Viry gives a banquet, a bal masqu'e, and a firework. I think I shall see little but the last, from which I will send your ladyship a rocket in my next letter. Lady Mary, I believe, has had a private audience of the ambassador's leg,(220) but en tout bien, et honneur, and only to satisfy her ceremonious curiosity about any part of royal nudity. I am just going to her, as she is to Versailles; and I have not time to add a word more to the vows of your ladyship's most faithful.
(218) Madame du Deffand had just completed her seventy-eighth year.-E.
(219) Madame Clotilde, sister of Louis XV1. Turgot was the new minister of finance, who, With his colleagues were endeavouring, by every practicable means, to reduce the enormous expenditure of the country.-E.
(220) Mr. Walpole alludes to the ceremony of the marriages of princesses by proxy.-E.
Letter 95 To Mrs. Abington(221) Paris, September [1775.] (page 140)
If I had known, Madam, of your being at Paris, before I heard it from Colonel Blaquiere, I should certainly have prevented your flattering invitation, and have offered you any services that could depend on my acquaintance here. It is plain I am old, and live with very old folks, when I did not hear of your arrival. However, Madam, I have not that fault at least of a veteran, the thinking nothing equal to what they admired in their youth. I do impartial justice to your merit, and fairly allow it not only equal to that of any actress I have seen, but believe the present age will not be in the wrong, if they hereafter prefer it to those they may live to see. Your allowing me to wait on you in London, Madam, will make me some amends for the loss I have had here; and I shall take an early opportunity of assuring you how much I am, Madam, your most obliged humble servant.
(221) Now first printed. This elegant and fashionable actress was born in 1735, quitted the stage in 1799, and died in 1815.-E.
Letter 96 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. Paris, Sept 8, 1775. (page 140)
The delays of the post, and its departure before its arrival, saved me some days of anxiety for Lady Ailesbury, and prevented my telling you how concerned I am for her accident; though I trust, by this time, she has not even pain left. I feel the horror you must have felt during her suffering in the dark, and on the sight of her arm;(222) and though nobody admires her needlework more than I, still I am rejoiced that it will be the greatest sufferer. However, I am very impatient for a farther account. Madame du Deffand, who, you know, never loves her friends by halves, and whose impatience never allows itself time to inform itself, was out of her wits, because I could not explain exactly how the accident happened, and where. She wanted to write directly, though the post was just gone; and, as soon as I could make her easy about the accident, she fell into a new distress about her fans for Madame de Marchais, and concludes they have been overturned, and broken too. In short, I never saw any thing like her. She has made engagements for me till Monday se'nnight; in which are included I don't know how many journeys into the country; and as nobody ever leaves her without her engaging them for another time, all these parties will be so many polypuses, that will shoot out into new ones every way. Madame de Jonsac,(223) a great friend of mine, arrived the day before yesterday, and Madame du Deffand has pinned her down to meeting me at her house four times before next Tuesday, all parentheses, that are not to interfere with our other suppers; and from those suppers I never get to bed before two or three o'clock. In short, I need have the activity of a squirrel, and the strength of a Hercules, to go through my labours—not to count how many d'em'el'es I have had to raccommode, and how many m'emoires to present against Tonton,(224) who grows the greater favourite the more people he devours. As I am the only person who dare correct him, I have already insisted on his being confined in the Bastile every day to after five o'clock. T'other night he flew at Lady Barrymore's face, and I thought would have torn her eye out; but it ended in biting her finger. She was terrified: she fell into tears. Madame du Deffand, who has too much parts not to see every thing in its true light, perceiving that she had not beaten Tonton half enough, immediately told us a story of a lady, whose dog, having bitten a piece out of a gentleman's leg, the tender dame in a great fright, cried out, "Won't it make my dog sick?"
Lady Barrymore(225) has taken a house. She will be glutted with conquests: I never saw any body so much admired. I doubt her poor little head will be quite overset.
Madame de Marchais(226) is charming: eloquence and attention itself I cannot stir for peaches, nectarines, grapes, and bury pears. You would think Pomona was in love with me. I am not so transported with N * * * * cock and hen. They are a tabor and pipe that I do not understand. He mouths and she squeaks and neither articulates. M. d'Entragues I have not seen. Upon the whole, I am much more pleased with Paris than ever I was; and, perhaps, shall stay a little longer than I intended. The Harry Grenville's(227) are arrived. I dined with them at Madame de Viry's,(228) who has completed the conquest of France by her behaviour on Madame Clotilde's wedding, and by the f'etes she gave. Of other English I wot not, but grieve the Richmonds do not come. I am charmed with Dr. Bally; nay, and with the King of Prussia—as much as I can be with a northern monarch. For your Kragen, I think we ought to procure a female one, and marry it to Ireland, that we may breed some new islands against we have lost America. I know nothing of said America. There is not a Frenchman that does not think us distracted.
I used to scold you about your bad writing, and perceive I have written in such a hurry, and blotted my letter so much, that you will not be able to read it: but consider how few moments I have to myself. I am forced to stuff my ears with cotton to get any sleep. However, my journey has done me good. I have thrown off at least fifteen years. Here is a letter for my dear Mrs. Damer from Madame de Cambis, who thinks she doats on you all. Adieu!
P. S. I shall bring you two 'eloges of Marshal Catinat; not because I admire them, but because I admire him, because I think him very like you.
(222) Lady Ailesbury had been overturned in her carriage at Park-place, and dislocated her wrist.
223) La Comtesse de Jonsac, sister of the President Henault.
(224) A favourite dog of Madame du Deffand's.
(225) Third daughter of William second Earl of Harrington, and wife of Richard sixth Earl of Barrymore, who, dying in 1780, left issue Richard and Henry, each of whom became, successively, Earl of Barrymore; a title which expired upon the death of the latter, in 1823.-E.
(226) Madame de Marchais, n'ee Laborde, married to a valet-de-chambre of Louis XV1. From her intimacy with M. d'Angivillier, Directeur des B'atiments, Jardins, etc. du Roi, She had the opportunity of obtaining the finest fruits and flowers.-E.
(227) Henry Grenville, brother to Earl Temple. He married Miss Margaret Banks. He died in 1784.-E.
(228) Miss Harriet Speed. She had married M. le Comte do Viry when he was minister at London from the Court of Turin. She is one of the ladies to whom Gray's "Long Story" is addressed. For an account of her, see Vol. iii. P. 160, letter 102.-E.
Letter 97 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. Paris, Oct. 6, 1775. (page 142)
It will look like a month since I wrote to you; but I have been coming, and am. Madame du Deffand has been so ill, that the day she was seized I thought she would not live till night. Her Herculean weakness, which could not resist strawberries and cream after supper, has surmounted all the ups and downs which followed her excess; but her impatience to go every where, and to do every thing has been attended with a kind of relapse, and another kind of giddiness: so that I am not quite easy about her, as they allow her to take no nourishment to recruit, and she will die of inanition, if she does not live upon it. She cannot lift her head from the pillow without 'etourdissemens; and yet her spirits gallop faster than any body's, and so do her repartees. She has a great supper to-night for the Due de Choiseul, and was in such a passion yesterday with her cook about it, and that put Tonton into such a rage, that nos dames de Saint Joseph thought the devil or the philosophers were flying away with their convert! As I have scarce quitted her, I can have had nothing to tell you. If she gets well, as I trust, I shall set out on the 12th; but I cannot leave her in any danger—though I shall run many myself, if I stay longer. I have kept such bad hours with this malade that I have had alarms of gout; and bad weather, worse inns, and a voyage in winter, will ill suit me. The fans arrived at a propitious moment, and she immediately had them opened on her bed, and felt all the patterns, and had all the papers described. She was all satisfaction and thanks, and swore me to do her full justice to Lady Ailesbury, and Mrs. Damer. Lord Harrington and Lady Harriet are arrived; but have announced and persisted in a strict invisibility. I know nothing of my ch'ere patrie, but what I learn from the London Chronicle; and that tells me, that the trading towns are suing out lettres de noblesse, that is, entreating the King to put an end to commerce, that they may all be gentlemen. Here agriculture, economy, reformation, philosophy, are the bon-ton even at court. The two nations seem to have crossed over and figured in; but as people that copy take the bad with the good, as well as the good with the bad, there was two days ago a great horserace in the plain de Sablon, between the Comte d'Artois,(229) the Duc de Chartres,(230) Monsieur de Conflans, and the Duc de Lauzun.(231) The latter won by the address of a little English postilion, who is in such fashion, that I don't know whether the Academy will not give him for the subject of an 'eloge.
The Due de Choiseul, I said, is here; and, as he has a second time put off his departure, cela fait beaucoup de bruit. I shall not at all be surprised if he resumes the reins, as (forgive me a pun) he has the Reine at ready. Messrs. de Turgot and Malesherbes certainly totter—but I shall tell you no more till I see you; for though this goes by a private hand, it is so private, that I don't know it, being an English merchant's, who lodges in this hotel, and whom I do not know by sight: so, perhaps, I may bring you word of this letter myself. I flatter myself Lady Ailesbury's arm has recovered its straightness and its cunning. . .
Madame du Deffand says, I love you better than any thing in the world. If true, I hope you have not less penetration: if you have not, or it is not true, what would professions avail?-So I leave that matter in suspense. Adieu!
Madame du Deffand was quite well yesterday; and at near one this, morning I left the Duc de Choiseul, the Duchess de Grammont, the Prince and the Princess of Beauveau, Princess Of Poix,(232) the Mar'echale de Luxembourg, Duchess de Lauzun, Ducs de Gontaut(233) et de Chabot, and Caraccioli, round her chaise longue; and she herself was not a dumb personage. I have not heard yet how she has slept, and must send away my letter this moment, as I must dress to go to dinner with Monsieur de Malesherbes at Madame de Villegagnon's. I must repose a great while after all this living in company; nay, intend to go very little into the world again, as I do not admire the French way of burning one's candle to the very snuff in public. Tell Mrs. Damer, that the fashion now is to erect the toup'ee into a high detached tuft of hair, like a cockatoo's crest; and this toup'ee they call la physionomie—I don't guess why.
My laquais is come back from St. Joseph's, and says Marie(234) de Vichy has had a very good night, and is quite well.—Philip!(235) let my chaise be ready on Thursday.(236)
(229) Afterwards Charles the Tenth.-E.
(230) On the death of his father, in 1785, he became Duke of Orleans. In 1792, he was chosen a member of the National-Convention, when he adopted the Jacobinical title of Louis-Philippe-Joseph Egalit'e; and, in November 1793, he suffered by the guillotine. -E.
(231) The Duc de Lauzun, son of the Duc de Gontaut, the maternal nephew of the Duchesse de Choiseul.-E.
(232) Wife of the Prince de Poix, eldest son of the Mar'echal de Mouchy, and daughter of the Prince de Beauveau. The Prince de Poix retired to this country on the breaking out of the French revolution, accompanied by his son, Comte Charles de Noailles, who married the daughter of La Borde, the great banker.-E.
(233) The Duc de Gontaut, brother to the Mar'echal Duc de Biron, and father to the Duc de Lauzun. The Duchesse de Gontaut was a sister of the Duchesse de Choiseul-E.
(234) The maiden name of Madame du Deffand was Marie de Vichy Chamrond. She was born in 1697, of a noble family in the province of Burgundy; and, as her fortune was small, she was married by her parents, in 1718, to the Marquis du Deffand; the union being settled with as little attention to her feelings as was usual in French marriages of that age. A separation soon took place; but Walpole says they always continued on good terms, and that upon her husband's deathbed, at his express desire, she saw him.-E.
(235) Mr. Walpole's valet-de-chambre.
(236) Walpole left Paris on the 12th; upon which day, Madame du Deffand thus wrote to him—"Adieu! ce mot est bien triste! Souvenez que vous laissez ici la personne dont vous 'etes le plus aim'e, et dont le bonheur et le malheur consistent dans ce que vous pensez pour elle. Donnez-moi de vos nouvelles le plus t'ot qu'il sera possible."-E.
Letter 98 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Strawberry Hill, Dec. 10, 1775. (page 144)
I was very sorry to have been here, dear Sir, the day you called on me in town. It is so difficult to uncloister you, that I regret not seeing you when you are out of your own ambry. I have nothing new to tell you that is very old; but you can inform me of something within your own district. Who is the author, E. B. G. of a version of Mr. Gray's Latin Odes into English,(237) and of an Elegy on my wolf-devoured dog, poor Tory? a name you will marvel at in a dog of mine; but his godmother was the widow of Alderman Parsons, who gave him at Paris to Lord Conway, and he to me. The author is a poet; but he makes me blush, for he calls Mr. Gray and me congenial pair. Alas! I have no genius; and if any symptom of talent, so inferior to Gray's, that Milton and Quarles might as well be coupled together. We rode over the Alps in the same chaise, but Pegasus drew on his side, and a cart-horse on mine. I am too jealous of his fame to let us be coupled together. This author says he has lately printed at Cambridge a Latin translation of the Bards; I should be much obliged to you for it.
I do not ask you if Cambridge has produced any thing, for it never does. Have you made any discoveries? Has Mr. Lort? Where is he? Does Mr. Tyson engrave no more? My plates for Strawberry advance leisurely. I am about nothing. I grow old and lazy, and the present world cares for nothing but politics, and satisfies itself with writing in newspapers. If they are not bound up and preserved in libraries, posterity will imagine that the art of printing was gone out of use. Lord Hardwicke(238) has indeed reprinted his heavy volume of Sir Dudley Carleton's Despatches, and says I was in the wrong to despise it. I never met with any body that thought otherwise. What signifies raising the dead so often, when they die the next minute? Adieu!
(237) Edward Burnaby Greene, formerly of Bennet College, but at that time a brewer in Westminster, He likewise published translations of Pindar, Persius, Apollonius Rhodius, Anacreon, etc.-E.
(238) Philip Yorke, second Earl of Hardwicke, when Lord Royston, published the "Letters to and from Sir Dudley Carleton, Knight, during his Embassy in Holland, from January 1615-16 to December 1620," 4to. 1727; and, in 1775, a second edition, "with large additions to the Historical Preface."-E.
Letter 99 To The Countess Of Ailesbury. Arlington Street, Dec. 11, 1775. (page 145)
Did you hear that scream?—Don't be frightened, Madam; it was only the Duchess of Kingston last Sunday was sevennight at chapel: but it is better to be prepared; for she has sent word to the House of Lords, that her nerves are so bad she intends to scream for these two months, and therefore they must put off her trial. They are to take her throes into consideration to-day; and that there may be sufficient room for the length of her veil and train, and attendants, have a mind to treat her with Westminster-hall. I hope so, for I should like to see this com'edie larmoyante; and, besides, I conclude, it would bring your ladyship to town. You shall have timely notice.
There is another comedy infinitely worth seeing—Monsieur Le Texier. He is Pr'eville, and Caillaud, and Garrick, and Weston, and Mrs. Clive, all together; and as perfect in the most insignificant part, as in the most difficult.(239) To be sure, it is hard to give up loo in such fine weather, when one can play from morning till night. In London, Pam can scarce get a house till ten o'clock. If you happen to see the General your husband, make my compliments to him, Madam; his friend the King of Prussia is going to the devil and Alexander the Great.
(239) M. Le Texier was a native of Lyons, where he was directeur des fermes. The following account of the readings of this celebrated Frenchman, is from a critique on Boaden's Life of Kemble, in the Quarterly Review, vol. xxxiv. p. 241:—"On one of the author's incidental topics we must pause for a moment with delightful recollection. We mean the readings of Le Texier, who, seated at a desk, and dressed in plain clothes, reads French plays with such modulation of voice, and such exquisite point of dialogue, as to form a pleasure different from that of the theatre, but almost as great as we experience in listening to a first-rate actor. When it commenced, M. Le Texier read over the dramatis persome, with the little analysis of character usually attached to each name, Using the voice and manner with which he afterwards read the part: and so accurately was the key-note given, that he had no need to name afterwards the person who spoke; the stupidest of the audience could not miss to recognise him." Madame du Deffand, in a letter to Walpole, says of him— "Soyez s'ur, que lui tout seul est la meilleure troupe que nous avons:" and again in one to Voltaire—"Assis dans un fauteuil, avec un livre 'a la main, il jouc les comedies o'u1 il y a sept, huit, dix, douze personnages, si parfaitement bien, qu'on ne saurait croire, m'eme en le regardant, que ce soit le m'eme homme qui Parle. Pour moi, l'illusion est parfaitc."-E.
Letter 100 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Arlington Street, Dec. 14, 1775. (page 146)
Our letters probably passed by each other on the road, for I wrote to you on Tuesday, and have this instant received one from you, which I answer directly, to beg pardon for my incivility, nay, ingratitude, in not thanking you for your present of a whole branch of most respectable ancestors, the Derehaughs—why, the Derehaughs alone would make gentlemen of half the modern peers, English or Irish. I doubt my journey to France was got into my head, and left no room for an additional quarter-but I have given it to Edmondson, and ordered him to take care that I am born again from the Derehaughs. This Edmondson has got a ridiculous notion into his head that another, and much ancienter of my progenitors, Sir Henry Walpole, married his wife Isabella Fitz-Osbert, when she was widow to Sir Walter Jernegan; whereas, all the Old Testament says Sir Walter married Sir Henry's widow. Pray send me your authority to confound this gainsayer, if you know any thing particular of the matter.
I had not heard of the painting you tell me of. As those boobies, the Society of Antiquaries, have gotten hold of it, I wonder their piety did not make them bury it again, as they did the clothes of Edward I.(240) I have some notion that in Vertue's MSS. or somewhere else, I don't know where, I have read of some ancient painting at the Rose Tavern. This I will tell you-but Mr. Gough is such" a bear, that I shall not satisfy him about it. That Society, when they are puzzled, have recourse to me; and that would be so often, that I shall not encourage them. They may blunder as they please, from their heavy president down to the pert Governor Pownall, who accounts for every thing immediately, before the Creation or since. Say only to Mr. Gough, that I said I had not leisure now to examine Vertue's MSS. If I find any thing there, you shall know-but I have no longer any eagerness to communicate what I discover. When there was so little taste for MSS. which Mr. Gray thought worth transcribing, and which were so valuable, would one offer more pearls?
Boydel brought me this morning another number of the Prints from the pictures at Houghton. Two or three in particular are most admirably executed—but alas! it will be twenty years before the set is completed. That is too long to look forward to at any age!—and at mine!—Nay, people will be tired in a quarter of the time. Boydel, who knows this country, and still more this town, thinks so too. Perhaps there will be newer, or at least more fashionable ways of engraving, and the old will be despised—or, which is still more likely, nobody will be able to afford the expense. Who would lay a plan for any thing in an overgrown metropolis hurrying to its fall!
I will return you Mr. Gough's letter when I get a frank. Adieu!
(240) The Society of Antiquaries, having obtained permission to do so, had, on the 2d of May 1774, opened the tomb of Edward the First in Westminster. The body was found in perfect preservation, and most superbly attired. The garments were, of course, carefully replaced in the tomb.-E.
Letter 101 To Thomas Astle, Esq. December 19, 1775. (page 147)
Sir, I am much obliged, and return you my thanks for the paper you have sent me. You have added a question to it, which, if I understand it, you yourself, Sir, are more capable than any body of answering. You say, "Is it probable that this instrument was framed by Richard Duke of Gloucester?" If by framed you mean drawn up, I should think princes of the blood, in that barbarous age, were not very expert in drawing acts of attainder, though a branch of the law more in use then than since. But as I suppose you mean forged, you, Sir, so conversant in writings of that age, can judge better than any man. You may only mean forged by his order. Your reading, much deeper than mine, may furnish you with precedents of forged acts of attainder: I never heard of one; nor does my simple understanding suggest the use of such a forgery, on cases immediately pressing; because an act of attainder being a matter of public notoriety, it would be revolting to the common sense of all mankind to plead such an one', if it had not really existed. If it could be carried into execution by force, the force would avail without the forgery, and would be at once exaggerated and weakened by it. I cannot, therefore, conceive why Richard should make use of so absurd a trick, unless that having so little to do in so short and turbulent a reign, he amused himself with treasuring up in the tower a forged act for the satisfaction of those who, three hundred years afterwards, should be glad of discovering new flaws in his character. As there are men so bigoted to old legends, I am persuaded, Sir, that you would please them, by communicating your question to them. They would rejoice to suppose that Richard was more criminal than even the Lancastrian historians represent him; and just at this moment I don't know whether they would not believe that Mrs. Rudd assisted him. I, who am, probably, as absurd a bigot on the other side, see nothing in the paper you have sent me, but a confirmation of Richard's innocence of the death of Clarence. As the Duke of Buckingham was appointed to superintend the execution, it is incredible that he should have been drowned in a butt of malmsey, and that Richard should have been the executioner. When a seneschal of England, or as we call it, a lord high steward, is appointed for a trial, at least for execution, with all his officers, it looks very much as if, even in that age, proceedings were carried on with a little more formality than the careless writers of that time let us think. The appointment, too, of the Duke of Buckingham for that office, seems to add another improbability [and a work of supererogation] to Richard's forging the instrument. Did Richard really do nothing but what tended to increase his unpopularity by glutting mankind with lies, forgeries, absurdities, which every man living could detect? I take this opportunity, Sir, of telling you how sorry I am not to have seen you long, and how glad I shall be to renew our acquaintance, especially if you like to talk over this old story with me, though I own it is of little importance, and pretty well exhausted.(241) I am, Sir, with great regard, your obliged humble servant.
(241) To the above letter it was intended to subjoin the following queries:—
"If there was no such Parliament held, would Richard have dared to forge an act for it?
"Would Henry VII. never have reproached him with so absurd a forgery?
"Did neither Sir T. More nor Lord Bacon ever hear of that forgery?
"As Richard declared his nephew the Earl of Warwick his successor, would he have done so, if he had forged an act of attainder of Warwick's father?
"if it is supposed he forged the act, when he set aside Warwick, could he pretend that act was not known when he declared him his heir? Would not so recent an act's being unknown have proved it a forgery; and if there had been no such Parliament as that which forged it, would not that have proved it a double forgery? The act, therefore, and the parliament that passed it, must have been genuine, and existed, though no other record appears. The distractions of the times, the evident insufficiency or partiality of the historians of that age, and the interest of Henry VII to destroy all records that gave authority to the House Of York and their title, account for our wanting evidence of that Parliament."
Letter 102 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. January 26, 1776. (page 148)
I have deferred answering your last letter, dear Sir, till I cannot answer with my own hand. I made a pilgrimage at Christmas to Queen's Cross, at Ampthill, was caught there by the snow, Imprisoned there for a fortnight, and sent home bound hand and foot by the gout. The pain, I suppose, is quite frozen, for I have had none; nothing but inflammation and swelling, and they abate. In reality, this is owing to the bootikins, which -though they do not cure the gout, take out its sting. You, who are still more apt to be an invalid, feel, I fear, this Hyperborean season; I should be glad to hear you did not.
I thought I had at once jumped upon a discovery of the subject of the painted room at the Rose Tavern, but shall not plume myself upon my luck till I have seen the chamber, because Mr. Gough's account seems to date the style of the painting earlier than -will serve my hypothesis. I had no data to go upon but the site having belonged to the family of Tufton (for I do not think the description at all answers to the taking of Francis I., nor is it at all credible that there should be arms in the painting, and yet neither those of France or Austria). I turned immediately to Lord Thanet's pedigree, in Collins's Peerage, and found at once an heroic adventure performed by one of the family, that accords remarkably with the principal circumstance. It is the rescue of the Elector Palatine, son of our Queen of Bohemia, from an ambuscade laid for him by the Duke of Lorrain. The arms, Or, and Gules, I thought were those of Lorrain, which I since find are Argent and Gules. The Argent indeed may be turned yellow by age, as Mr. Gough says he does not know whether the crescent is red or black. But the great impediment is, that this achievement of a Tufton was performed in the reign of Charles II. Now in that reign, when we were become singularly ignorant of chivalry, anachronisms and blunders might easily be committed by a modern painter, yet I shall not adhere to my discovery, unless I find the painting correspond with the style of the modern time to which I would assign it; nor will I see through the eyes of my hypothesis, but fairly.
I shall now turn to another subject. Mr. Astle, who has left me off ever Since the fatal era of Richard III. for no reason that I can conceive but my having adopted his discovery, which for aught I know may be a reason with an antiquary, lately sent me the attainder of George Duke of Clarence, which he has found in the Tower and printed; and on it, as rather glad to confute me and himself, than to have found a curiosity, he had written two or three questions which tended to accuse Richard of having forged the instrument, though to the instrument itself is added another, which confirms my acquittal of Richard of the murder of Clarence-but, alas! passion is a spying glass that does but make the eyes of folly more blind.
I sent him an answer, a copy of which I enclose. Since that, I have heard no more of him, nor shall, I suppose, till I see this new proof of Richard's guilt adopted into the annals of the Society, against which I have reserved some other stigmas for it. Mr. Edmondson has found a confirmation of Isabella Fitz-Osbert having married Jernegan after Walpole. I forget where I found my arms of the Fitz-Osberts. Though they differ from yours of Sir Roger, the colours are the same, and they agree with yours of William Fitz-Osborne. There was no accuracy in spelling names even till much later ages; and you know that different branches of the same family made little variation in their coats.
I am very sorry for the death of poor Henshaw, of which I had not heard. I am yours most sincerely.
P. S. The queries added to the letter to Mr. Astle were not sent with it; and, as I reserve them for a future answer, I beg you will show them to nobody.
Letter 103To Edward Gibbon, Esq.(242) (February 1776.] (page 149)
Mr. Walpole cannot express how much he is obliged to Mr. Gibbon for the valuable present he has received;(243) nor how great a comfort it is to him, in his present situation, in which he little expected to receive singular pleasure. Mr. Walpole does not say this at random, nor from mere confidence in the author's abilities, for he has already (all his weakness would permit) read the first chapter, and it is in the greatest admiration of the style, manner, method, clearness, and intelligence. Mr. Walpole's impatience to proceed will struggle with his disorder, and give him such spirits, that he flatters himself he shall owe part of his recovery to Mr. Gibbon; whom, as soon as that is a little effected, he shall beg the honour of seeing.
(242) Now first collected.
(243) The first quarto volume of the History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.-E.
Letter 104 To Edward Gibbon, Esq.(244) February 14, 1776. (page 150)
After the singular pleasure of reading you, Sir, the next satisfaction is to declare my admiration. I have read great part of your volume, and cannot decide to which of its various merits I give the preference, though I have no doubt of assigning any partiality to one virtue of the author, which, seldom as I meet with it, always strikes me superiorly. Its quality will naturally prevent your guessing which I mean. It is your amiable modesty. How can you know so much, judge so well, possess your subject, and your knowledge, and your power of judicious reflection so thoroughly, and yet command yourself and betray no dictatorial arrogance of decision? How unlike very ancient and very modern authors! You have, unexpectedly, given the world a classic history. The fame it must acquire will tend every day to acquit this panegyric of flattery.(245) The impressions it has made on me are very numerous. The strongest is the thirst of being better acquainted with you—but I reflect that I have been a trifling author, and am in no light profound enough to deserve your intimacy, except by confessing your superiority so frankly, that I assure you honestly, I already feel no envy, though I did for a moment. The best proof I can give you of my sincerity, is to exhort you, warmly and earnestly, to go on with your noble work—the strongest, though a presumptuous mark of my friendship, is to warn you never to let your charming modesty be corrupted by the acclamations your talents will receive. The native qualities of the man should never be sacrificed to those of the author, however shining. I take this liberty as an older man, which reminds me how little I dare promise myself that I shall see your work completed! But I love posterity enough to contribute, if I can, to give them pleasure through you.