You are in the right, dear Sir, not to apply to Masters for any papers he may have relating to Mr. Baker.(292) It is a trumpery fellow', from whom one would rather receive a refusal than an obligation.
I am sorry to hear Mr. Lort has the gout, and still more concerned that you still suffer from it. Such patience and temper as yours are the only palliatives. As the bootikins have so much abridged and softened my fits, I do not expect their return with the alarm and horror I used to do, and that is being cured of one half the complaints. I had scarce any pain last time, and did not keep my bed a day, and had no gout at all in either foot. May not I ask you if this is not some merit in the bootikins? To have cured me of my apprehensions is to me a vast deal, for now the intervals do not connect the fits. You will understand, that I mean to speak a word to you in favour of the bootikins, for can one feel benefit, and not wish to impart it to a suffering friend? Indeed I am yours most sincerely.
(289) John second Earl of Lauderdale, who, having distinguished himself-by his zealous and active exertions in the royal cause during the civil wars, was, after the restoration created in May 1672, Marquis Of March and Duke of Lauderdale, in Scotland.-E.
(290) Sir John Dalrymple, author of "Memoirs of Great Britain and Ireland." Edinburgh, 1771-1773-1788; 3 vols. 4to.-E.
(291) James M'Pherson, the editor of Ossian, who had published a "History of Great Britain from the Restoration in 1660 to the Accession of the House of Hanover," 1775, 2 Vols. 4to - and also "An Introduction to the History of Great Britain and Ireland." London, 4to. 1771.-E.
(292) The papers which Masters possessed he himself eventually published, in 1784, under the title of,, Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Thomas Baker, from the Papers of Dr. Zachary Grey: with a Catalogue of his Manuscript Collections. By R. Masters."-E.
Letter 132 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Arlington Street, March 31, 1778. (page 181)
I did think it long, indeed, dear Sir, since I heard from you, and am very sorry the gout was the cause. I hope after such long persecution you will have less now than you apprehend. I should not have been silent myself, had I had any thing to tell you that you would have cared to hear.
Politics have been the only language, and abuse the only expression of the winter, neither of which are, or deserve to be, inmates of your peaceable hermitage. I wish, however, they may not have grown so serious as to threaten every retreat with intrusion! I will let you know when I am settled at Strawberry-hill, and can look over your kind collections relating to Mr. Baker. He certainly deserves his place in the Biographia, but I am not surprised that you would not submit to his being instituted and inducted by a Presbyterian. In troth, I, who have not the same zeal against dissenters, do not at all desire to peruse the History of their Apostles, which are generally very uninteresting.
YOU must excuse the shortness of this, in which, too, I have been interrupted: my nephew is as suddenly recovered as he did last time; and, though I am far from thinking him perfectly in his senses, a great deal of his disorder is removed, which, though it will save me a great deal of trouble, hurries me at present, and forces me to conclude.
Letter 133 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Strawberry Hill, April 23, 1778. (page 181)
I thank you, dear Sir, for the notice of William Le Worcestre's(293) appearance, and will send for my book as soon as I go to town, which will not be till next week. I have been here since Friday as much a hermit as yourself. I wanted air and quiet, having been much fatigued on my nephew's amendment, trying to dissuade him from making the campaign with his militia; but in vain! I now dread hearing of some eccentric freak. I am sorry Mr. Tyson has quite dropped me, though he sometimes comes to town. I am still more concerned at your frequent disorders-I hope their chief seat is unwillingness to move.
Your Bakeriana will be very welcome about June: I shall not be completely resident here till then, at least not have leisure, as May is the month I have most visits from town. As few spare hours as I have, I have contrived to go through Mr. Pennant's Welsh Tour, and Warton's second Volume;(294) both which come within the circle of your pursuits. I have far advanced, too, in Lord Hardwicke's first volume of State Papers.(295) I have yet found nothing that appears a new scene, or sets the old in a new light; yet they are rather amusing, though not in proportion to the bulk of the volumes. One likes to hear actors speak for themselves; but, on the other hand, they use a great many more words than are necessary: and when one knows the events from history, it is a little tiresome to go back to the details and the delays.
I should be glad to employ Mr. Essex on my offices, but the impending war with France deters me. It is not a season for expense! I could like to leave my little castle complete; but, though I am only a spectator, I cannot be indifferent to the aspect of the times, as the country gentleman was, who was going out with his hounds as the two armies at Edge-hill were going to engage. I wish for peace and tranquillity, and should be glad to pass my remaining hours in the idle and retired amusements I love, and without any solicitude for my country. Adieu!
(293) "Itineraria Symonis, Simeonis et Willelmi de Worcestre." Cantab. 1778, 8vo.; edited by Dr. James Nasmith, who published the excellent Catalogue of MSS, which Archbishop Parker left to Corpus Christi College, at Cambridge.-E.
(294) Thomas Warton's "History Of English Poetry."-E.
(295) Miscellaneous State Papers, from 1501 to 1726, published by the Earl of Hardwicke, in two volumes 4to.-E.
Letter 134 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Arlington Street, May 21, 1778. (page 182)
I will not flatter you: I was not in the least amused with either Simon, Simeon, or William of Worcestre. If there was any thing tolerable in either, it was the part omitted, or the part I did not read, which was the Journey to Jerusalem, about which I have not the smallest curiosity. I thank you for mentioning the Gentleman's Magazine, which I sent for.
Mr. Essex has called upon me, and left me the drawing of a bridge, with which I am perfectly pleased-but I was unluckily out of town; he left no direction, and I know not where to seek him in this overgrown bottle of hay. I still hope he will call again before his return.
May not I, should not I, wish you joy on the restoration of popery?(296) I expect soon to see Capuchins tramping about, and Jesuits in high places. We are relapsing fast to our pristine state, and have nothing but our island, and our old religion.
Mr. Nasmith's publication directed me to the MSS. in Benet Library, which I did not know was printed. I found two or three from which I should be glad to have transcripts, and would willingly pay for; but I left the book at Strawberry, and must trouble you another time with that commission.
The city wants to bury Lord Chatham(297) in St. Paul's; which, as a person said to me this morning, would literally be "robbing Peter to pay Paul." I wish it could be so, that there might be some decoration in that nudity, en attendant the re-establishment of various altars. It is not my design to purchase the new edition of the Biographia; I trust they will give the old purchasers the additions as a supplement. I had corrected the errata of the press, throughout my copy, but I could not take the trouble of transcribing them, nor could lend them the originals, as I am apt to scribble notes in the margins of all my books that interest me at all. Pray let me know if Baker's Life is among the additions, and whether you are satisfied with it, as there could not be events enough in his retired life to justify two accounts of it.
There are no new old news, and you care for nothing Within the memory of man. I am always intending to draw up an account of my intercourse with Chatterton, which I take very kindly you remind me of, but some avocation or other has still prevented it. My perfect innocence of having indirectly been an ingredient in his dismal fate, which happened two years after our correspondence, and after he had exhausted both his resources and his constitution, have made it more easy to prove that I never saw him, knew nothing of his ever being in London, and was the first person, instead of the last, on whom he had practised his impositions, and founded his chimeric hopes of promotion. My very first, or at least second letter, undeceived him in those views, and our correspondence(298) was broken off before he quitted his aster's business at Bristol-so that his disappointment with me was but his first ill success; and he resented my incredulity so much, that he never condescended to let me see him. Indeed, what I have said now to you, and which cannot be controverted by a shadow of a doubt, would be sufficient vindication. I could only add to the proofs, a vain regret of never having known his distresses, which his amazing genius would have tempted me to relieve, though I fear he had no other claim to compassion. Mr. Warton has said enough to open the eyes of every one who is not greatly prejudiced to his forgeries. Dr. Milles is one who will not make a bow to Dr. Percy for not being as wilfully blind as himself-but when he gets a beam in his eye that he takes for an antique truth, there is no persuading him to submit to be coached. Adieu!
(296) Walpole alludes to the bill for the Relief of the Roman Catholics which released their priests from prosecution, and allowed members of that religion to purchase lands and take them by descent. It passed both houses without opposition.-E.
(297) The Earl of Chatham died on the 10th Of May 1778. His remains were honoured with a public funeral in Westminster Abbey, his debts were paid by the nation, and an annuity of four thousand pounds settled upon the earldom of Chatham.-E.
(298) Walpole's correspondence with Chatterton took place in March and April 1769. The death Of the young poet happened in August 1770, in consequence of a dose Of arsenic, at his lodgings in Brook-street, Holborn.-E.
Letter 135 To The Rev. William Mason. [1778.)(299) (page 184)
The purport of Dr. Robertson's visit was to inquire where he could find materials for the reigns of King William and Queen Anne, which he means to write as a supplement to David Hume. I had heard of his purpose, but did not own I knew it, that my discouragement might seem the more natural. I do not care a straw what he writes about the church's wet-nurse, Goody Anne; but no Scot is worthy of being the historian of William, but Dr. Watson.(300) When he had told me his object, I said, "Write the reign of King William, Dr. Robertson! That is a great task! I look on him as the greatest man of modern times since his ancestor William Prince of Orange." I soon found the Doctor had very little idea of him, or had taken upon trust the pitiful partialities of Dalrymple and Macpherson. I said, "Sir, I do not doubt but that King William came over with a view to the crown. Nor was he called upon by patriotism, for he was not an Englishman to assert our liberties. No; his patriotism was of a higher rank. He aimed not at the crown of England from ambition, but to employ its forces and wealth against Louis XIV. for the common cause of the liberties of Europe. The Whigs did not understand the extent of his views, and the Tories betrayed him. He has been thought not to have understood us; but the truth was, he took either party as it was predominant, that he might sway the Parliament to support his general plan." The Doctor, suspecting that I doubted his principles being enlarged enough to do justice to so great a character, told me he himself had been born and bred a Whig, though he owned he was not a moderate one- -I believe, a very moderate one. I said Macpherson had done great injustice to another hero, the Duke of Marlborough, whom he accuses of betraying the design on Brest to Louis XIV. The truth was, as I heard often in my youth from my father, my uncle, and old persons who had lived in those times, that the Duke trusted the Duchess with the secret, and she her sister the popish Duchess of Tyrconnel, who was as poor and as bigoted as a church mouse. A corroboration of this was the wise and sententious answer of King William to the Duke, whom he taxed with having betrayed the secret. "upon my honour, Sir," said the Duke, "I told it to nobody but my wife." "I did not tell it to mine!" said the King.
I added, that Macpherson's and Dalrymple's invidious scandals really serve but to heighten the amazing greatness of the King's genius; for, if they say true, he maintained the crown on his head though the nobility, the churchmen, the country gentlemen, the people were against him; and though almost all his own ministers betrayed him—"But," said I, "nothing is so silly as to suppose that the Duke -of Marlborough and Lord Godolphin ever meant seriously to restore King James. Both had offended him too much to expect forgiveness, especially from so remorseless a nature. Yet a re-revolution was so probable, that it is no wonder they kept up a correspondence with him, at least to break their fall if he returned. But as they never did effectuate the least service in his favour, when they had the fullest power, nothing can be inferred but King James's folly in continuing to lean on them. To imagine they meant to sacrifice his weak daughter, whom they governed absolutely, to a man who was sure of being governed-by others, one must have as little sense as James himself had."
The precise truth I take to have been this. Marlborough and Godolphin both knew the meanness and credulity of James's character. They knew that he must be ever dealing for partisans; and they might be sure, that if he could hope for support from the General and the Lord-treasurer he must be less solicitous for more impotent supporters. "Is it impossible," said I to the Doctor, "but they might correspond with the King even by Anne's own consent? Do not be surprised, Sir," said I: "such things have happened. My own father often received letters from the Pretender, which he always carried to George II and had them endorsed by his Majesty- I myself have seen them countersigned by the King's own hand."
In short,. I endeavoured to impress him with Proper ideas of his subject, and painted to him the difficulties., and the want of materials. But- the booksellers will out-argue me, and the Doctor will forget his education—Panem et Circenses, if you will allow me to use the latter for those that are captivated by favour in the circle, will decide his writing and give the colour. I once wished he should write the History of King William; but his Charles V. and his America have opened my eyes, and the times have shut his.(301) Adieu!
(299) This letter, which is without date, was most probably written in April or May 1778; at which time Dr. Robertson was in London.-E.
(300) Dr. Watson's History of the Reign of philip II. of Spain was published, in two quarto volumes, in 1777.-E.
(301) By the life of Dr. Robertson, in Chamvers's Scottish Biography, it will be seen, that several persons suggested to him a History of Great Britain from the Revolution to the accession of the House of Hanover; and it appears, from a letter to Dr. Waddilour, Dean of Rippon, written in July of this year, that he had made up his mind to encounter the responsibility of the task, but abandoned it, in consequence of a correspondence with his friend, Mr. James Macpherson, had, three years before, published a history of the same reigns.-E.
Letter 136 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Strawberry Hill, June 3, 1778. (page 186)
I will not dispute with you, dear Sir, on patriots and politics. One point is Past controversy, that the ministers have ruined this country; and if the church of England is satisfied with being reconciled with the church of Rome, and thinks it a compensation for the loss of America and all credit in Europe, she is as silly an old woman as any granny in an almshouse. France is very glad we are grown such fools, and soon saw that the Presbyterian Dr. Franklin(302) had more sense than our ministers together. She has got over all her prejudices, has expelled the Jesuits, and made the Protestant Swiss, Necker, her comptroller-general. It is a little woful, that we are relapsing into the nonsense the rest of Europe is shaking off! and it is more deplorable, as we know by repeated experience, that this country has always been disgraced by Tory administrations. The rubric is the only gainer by them in a few martyrs.
I do not know yet what is settled about the spot of Lord Chatham's interment. I am not more an enthusiast to his memory than you. I knew his faults and his defects-yet one fact Cannot Only not be controverted, but I doubt more remarkable every day— I mean, that under him we attained not only our highest elevation, but the most solid authority in Europe. When the names of Marlborough and Chatham are still pronounced with awe in France, our little cavils make a puny sound. Nations that are beaten cannot be mistaken.
I have been looking out for your friend a set of my heads of painters, and I find I want six or seven. I think I have some odd ones in town; if I have not, I will have deficiencies supplied from the plates, though I fear they will not be good, as so many have been taken off. I should be very ungrateful for all your kindnesses, if I neglected any opportunity of obliging you, dear Sir. Indeed, our old and unalterable friendship is creditable to us both, and very uncommon between two persons who differ so much in their opinions relative to church and state. I believe the reason is, that we are both sincere, and never meant to take advantage of our principles; which I allow is too common on both sides, and I own, too, fairly more common on my side of the question than on yours. There is a reason, too, for that; the honours and emoluments are in the gift of the crown: the nation has no separate treasury to reward its friends.
If Mr. Tyrwhit(303) has opened his eyes to Chatterton's forgeries, there is an instance of conviction against strong prejudice! I have drawn up an account of my transaction with that marvellous young man; you shall see it one day or other, but I do not intend to print it.(304) I have taken a thorough dislike to being an author; and if it would not look like begging you to Compliment me, by contradicting me, I would tell you, what I am most seriously convinced of, that I find what small share of parts I had, grown dulled—and when I perceive it myself, I may well believe that others would not be less sharpsighted. It is very natural; mine were spirits rather than parts; and as time has abated the one, it must surely destroy their resemblance to the other: pray don't say a syllable in reply on this head, or I shall have done exactly what I said I would not do. Besides, as you have always been too partial to me, I am on my guard, and when I will not expose myself to my enemies, I must not listen to the prejudices of my friends; and as nobody is more partial to me than you, there is nobody I must trust less in that respect. Yours most sincerely.
(302) Dr. Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane were publicly received at the court of France, as ambassadors from America in the preceding March-.E.
(303) Mr. Tyrwhit, the learned editor of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, considered one of the best edited books in the English language, had, on the appearance of the Rowley Poems, believed them genuine; but being afterwards convinced of the contrary, he did not hesitate to avow his conviction.-E.
(304) It was entitled "A Letter to the Editor of the Miscellanies of Thomas Chatterton," and will be found in the edition of Walpole's works.-E.
Letter 137 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Strawberry Hill, June 10, 1778. (page 187)
I am as impatient and in as much hurry as you was, dear Sir, to clear myself from the slightest intention of censuring your politics. I know the sincerity and disinterested goodness of your heart, and when I must be convinced how little certain we are all of what is truth, it would be very presumptuous to condemn the opinions of any good man, and still less an old and unalterable friend, as I have ever found 'You, The destruction that violent arbitrary principles have drawn on this blinded country has moved my indignation. We never were a great and happy country till the Revolution. The system of these days tended to overturn, and has overturned, that establishment, and brought on the disgraces that ever attended the foolish and wicked Councils of the house of Stuart. If man is a rational being, he has a right to make use of his reason, and to enjoy his liberty. We, we alone almost had a constitution that every other nation upon earth envied or ought to envy. This is all I contend for. I will give you up whatever descriptions of men you please; that is, the leaders of parties, not the principles. These cannot change, those generally do, when power falls into the hands of them or their party, because men are corruptible, which truth is not. But the more the leaders of a party dedicated to liberty are apt to change, the more I adore the principle, because it shows that extent of power is not to be trusted even, with those that are the most sensible of the value of liberty. Man is a domineering animal; and it has not only been my principle. but my practice, too. to quit every body at the gate of the palace. I trust we shall not much differ on these outlines, but we will bid adieu to the subject. It is never an agreeable one to those who do not mean to make a trade of it.
I heartily wish you may not find the pontiff what I think the order, and what I know him, if you mean the high priest of Ely.(305) He is all I have been describing and worse; and I have too good an opinion of you, to believe that he will ever serve you.
What I said of disclaiming authorship by no means alluded to Mr. Baker's life. It would be enough that you desire it, for me to undertake it. Indeed, I am inclined to it because he was what you and I are, a party-man from principle, not from interest: and he, who was so candid, surely is entitled to the strictest candour. You shall send me your papers whenever you please. If I can succeed to your satisfaction, I shall be content: though I assure you there was no affectation in my saying that I find my small talent decline. I shall write the life to oblige you, without any thoughts of publication, unless I am better pleased than I expect to be, and even then not in my own life. I had rather show that I am sensible of my own defects, and that I have judgment enough not to hope praise for my writings: for surely when they are not obnoxious, and one only leaves them behind one, it is a mark that one is not very vain of them.
I have found the whole set of my Painters, and will send them the first time I go to town: and I will have my papers on Chatterton transcribed for you, though I am much chagrined at your giving me no hope of seeing you again here. I will not say more of it; for, while it is in my power, I will certainly make you a visit now and then, if there is no other way of our meeting Mr. Tyrwhit, I hear, has actually published an Appendix, in which he gives up Mr. Rowley. I have not seen it, but will. Shall I beg you to transcribe the passage in which Dr. Kippis abuses my father and Me;(306) for I shall not buy the new edition, only to purchase abuse on me and mine: I may be angry with liberties he takes with Sir Robert, but not with myself; I shall rather take it as a flattery to be ranked with him; though there can be nothing worse said of my father than to place us together. Oh! that great, that good man! Dr. Kippis may as well throw a stone at the sun.
I am sorry you have lost poor Mr. Bentham. Will you say a civil thing for me to his widow, if she is living, and you think it not improper? I have not forgotten their kindness to me. Pray send me your papers on Mr. Prior's generosity to Mr. Baker.(307) I am sorry it was not so. Prior is much a favourite with me, though a Tory, nor did I ever hear any thing ill of him. He left his party, but not his friends, and seems to me to have been very amiable. Do you know I pretend to be very impartial sometimes. Mr. Hollis(308) wrote against me for not being Whig enough. I am offended with Mrs. Macaulay(309) for being too much a Whig. In short, we are all silly animals, and scarce ever more so than when we affect sense. Yours ever.
(305) Dr. Edmund Keene-E.
(306) See ant'e, p. 155, letter 108.
(307) The Biograpbia Britannica had asserted, that Prior ceded to Mr. Baker the profits of his fellowship after his expulsion.-E.
(308) Thomas Hollis, Esq. the editor of Toland's Life of Milton; Algernon Sidney's Discourses on Government; Algernon Sidney's Works, etc. He died in 1774.-E.
(309) The celebrated Catherine Macaulay, well known by her "History of England."-E.
Letter 138 To The Countess Of Ailesbury. Strawberry Hill, June 25, 1778. (page 189)
I am quite astonished, Madam, at not hearing of Mr. Conway's being returned! What is he doing? Is he revolting and setting up for himself, like our nabobs in India? or is he forming Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, and Sark, into the united provinces in the compass of a silver penny? I should not wonder if this was to be the fate of our distracted empire, which we seem to have made so large, only that it might afford to split into separate kingdoms. I told Mr. C. I should not write any more, concluding he would not stay a twinkling; and your ladyship's last encouraged my expecting him. In truth, I had nothing to tell him if he had written.
I have been in town but one single night this age, as I could not bear to throw away this phoenix June. It has rained a good deal this morning, but only made it more delightful. The flowers are all Arabian. I have found but One inconvenience, which is the hosts of cuckoos: one would not think one was in Doctors' Commons. It is very disagreeable, that the nightingales should sing but half a dozen songs, and the other beasts squall for two months together.
Poor Mrs. Clive has been robbed again in her own lane, as she was last year, and has got the jaundice, she thinks, with the fright. I don't make a visit without a blunderbuss; so one might as well be invaded by the French. Though I live in the centre of ministers, I do not know a syllable of politics; and though within hearing of Lady Greenwich, who is but two miles off, I have not a word of news to send your ladyship. I live like Berecynthia, surrounded by nephews and nieces; yet Park-place is full as much in my mind, and I beg for its history. I am, Madam, etc.
Letter 139 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. Strawberry Hill, July 8, 1778. (page 189)
I have had some conversation with a ministerial person, on the subject of pacification with France; and he dropped a hint, that as 'we should not have Much chance of a good peace, the Opposition would make great clamour on it. I said a few words on the duty of ministers to do what they thought right, be the consequence what it ,Would., But as honest men do not want such lectures, and dishonest will not let them weigh, I waived that theme, to dwell on what is more likely to be persuasive, and which I am firmly persuaded is no less true than the former maxim; and that was, that the ministers are still so strong, that if they could get a peace that would save the nation, though not a brilliant or glorious one, the nation in general would be pleased with it, and the clamours of the Opposition be insignificant. I added, what I think true, too, that no time is to be lost in treating not only for preventing a blow, but from the consequences the first misfortune would have. The nation is not yet alienated from the court, but it is growing so; is grown so enough, for any calamity to have violent effects. Any internal disturbance would advance the hostile designs of France. An insurrection from distress would be a double invitation to invasion; and, I am sure, much more to be dreaded, even personally, by the ministers, than the ill-humours of Opposition for even an inglorious peace. To do the Opposition justice, it is not composed of incendiaries. Parliamentary speeches raise no tumults: but tumults would be a dreadful thorough bass to speeches. The ministers do not know the strength they have left (supposing they apply it in time), if they are afraid of making any peace. They were too sanguine in making war; I hope they will not be too timid of making peace.
What do you think of an idea of mine, of offering France a neutrality? that is, to allow her to assist both us and the Americans. I know she would assist only them: but were it not better to connive at her assisting them, without attacking us, than her doing both? A treaty with her would perhaps be followed by one with America. We are sacrificing all the essentials we can recover, for a few words and risking the independence of this country, for the nominal supremacy over America. France seems to leave us time for treating. She made no scruple of begging peace of us in '63, that she might lie by and recover her advantages. Was not that a wise precedent? Does not she now show that it was? Is not policy the honour of nations? I mean, not morally, but has Europe left itself any other honour? And since it has really left itself no honour, and as little morality, does not the morality of a nation consist in its preserving itself in as much happiness as it can? The invasion of Portugal by Spain in the last war, and the partition of Poland, have abrogated the law Of nations. Kings have left no ties between one another. Their duty to their people is still allowed. He is a good King that preserves his people: and if temporizing answers that end, is it not justifiable? You who are as moral as wise, answer my questions. Grotius is obsolete. Dr. Joseph(310) and Dr. Frederic(311) with four hundred thousand commentators, are reading new lectures—and I should say, thank God, to One another, if the four hundred thousand commentators were not in worse danger than they.(312) Louis XVI. is grown a casuist compared to those partitioners. Well, let US Simple individuals keep our honesty, and bless our stars that we have not armies at our command, lest we should divide kingdoms that are at our biens'eance! What a dreadful thing it is for such a wicked little imp as man to have absolute power!—But I have travelled into Germany, when I meant to talk to you only of England; and it is too late to recall My text. Good night!
(310) The Emperor of Germany.
(311) Frederic II. King of Prussia.
(312) The Emperor of Germany and King of Prussia having some dispute about Bavaria, brought immense armies into the field, but found their forces so nearly balanced, that neither ventured to attack the other; and the Prussian monarch falling back upon Silesia, the affair was, through the intervention of the Empress of Russia, settled by negotiation, which ended in the peace of Teschen.-E.
Letter 140 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. July 12, 1778. (page 191)
Mr. Lort has delivered your papers to me, dear Sir, and I have already gone through them. I will try if I can make any thing of them, but I fear I have not art enough, as I perceive there is absolutely but one fact—the expulsion. You have certainly very clearly proved that Mr. Baker was neither supported by Mr. Prior nor Bishop Burnet; but these are mere negatives. So is the question, whether he intended to compile an Athenae Cantabrigienses or not; and on that you say but little, as you have not seen his papers in the Museum. I will examine the printed Catalogue, and try if I can discover the truth thence, when I go to town. I will also borrow the new Biographia, as I wish to know more of the expulsion. As it is our only fact, one would not be too dry on it. Upon the whole, I think that it would be preferable to draw up an ample character of Mr. Baker, rather than a life. The one was most beautiful, amiable, conscientious; the other totally barren of more than one event: and though you have taken excellent pains to discover all that was possible, yet there is an obscurity hangs over the circumstances that even did attend him; as his connexion with Bishop Crewe and his living. His own modesty comes out the brighter, but then it composes a character, not a life.
As to Mr. Kippis and his censures, I am perfectly indifferent to them. He betrays a pert malignity in hinting an intention of being severe on my father, for the pleasure of exerting a right I allowed, and do allow, to be a just One, though it is not just to do it for that reason; however, let him say his pleasure. The truth will not hurt my father; falsehood will recoil on the author. His asserting, that my censure of Mr. Addison's character of Lord Somers is not to be justified, is a silly ipse dixit, as he does not, in truth cannot, show why it is not to be justified. The passage I alluded to is the argument of an old woman; and Mr. Addison's being a writer of true humour is not justification of his reasoning like a superstitious gossip. In the other passage you have sent me, Mr. Kippis is perfectly in the right, and corrects me very justly. Had I seen Archbishop Abbot's(313) Preface, with the outrageous flattery on, And lies of James I., I should certainly never have said, "Honest Abbot could not flatter!" I should have said, and do say, I never saw grosser perversion of truth. One can almost excuse the faults of James when his bishops were such base sycophants. What can a king think of human nature, when it produces such wretches? I am too impartial to prefer Puritans to clergymen, or vice versa, when Whitgift and Abbot only ran a race of servility and adulation: the result is, that priests of all religions are the same. James and his Levites were worthy of each other; the golden calf and the idolaters were well coupled, and it is Pity they ever came out of the wilderness. I am very glad Mr. Tyson has escaped death and disappointment: pray wish him joy 'of both from me. Has not this Indian summer dispersed your complaints? We are told we are to be invaded. Our Abbots and Whitgifts now see with what successes and consequences their preaching up a crusade against America has been crowned! Archbishop Markham(314) may have an opportunity of exercising his martial prowess. I doubt he would resemble Bishop Crewe more than good Mr. Baker. Let us respect those only who are Israelites indeed. I surrender Dr. Abbot to you. Church and presbytery are terms for monopolies, Exalted notions of church matters are contradictions in terms to the lowliness and humility of the gospel. There is nothing sublime but the Divinity. Nothing is sacred but as His work. A tree or a brute stone is more respectable as such, than a mortal called an Archbishop, or an edifice called a Church, which are the puny and perishable productions of men. Calvin and Wesley had just the same views as the Pope; power and wealth their objects. I abhor both, and admire Mr. Baker.
P. S. I like Popery as well as you, and have shown I do. I like it as I like chivalry and romance. They all furnish one with ideas and visions, which presbyterianism does not. A Gothic church or a convent fills one with romantic dreams-but for the mysterious, the Church in the abstract, it is a jargon that means nothing, or a great deal too much, and I reject it and its apostles, from Athanasius to Bishop Keene.(315)
(313) Dr. George Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury, born at Guildford, in Surrey, 1562. In 1604, when the translation of the Scriptures now in use was commenced by direction of King James, Dr. Abbot was the second of eight divines of Oxford to whom was committed the care of translating the New Testament, with the exception of the Epistles, He died at the palace at Croydon, in 1633.-E.
(314) Dr. William Markham, translated to the see of York from Chester in 1776. He died in 1807.-E.
(315) Dr. Edmund Keene, Bishop of Ely.-E.
Letter 141 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. Saturday, July 18, 1778. (page 192)
Yesterday evening the following notices were fixed up in Lloyd's coffee-house:-That a merchant in the city had received an express from France, that the Brest fleet, consisting, of twenty-eight ships of the line, were sailed, with orders to burn, sink, and destroy. That Admiral Keppel was at Plymouth, and had sent to demand three more ships of the line to enable him to meet the French. On these notices stocks sunk three-and-a-half per cent. An account I have received this morning from a good hand says, that on Thursday the Admiralty received a letter from Admiral Keppel, who was off the Land's End, saying that the Worcester was in sight; that the Peggy had joined him, and had seen the Thunderer making sail for the fleet; that he was waiting for the Centaur, Terrible, and Vigilant; and that having received advice from Lord Shuldham that the Shrewsbury was to sail from Plymouth on Thursday, he should likewise wait for her. His fleet will then consist of thirty ships of the line; and he hoped to have an opportunity of trying his strength with the French fleet on our own coast: if not, he would seek them on theirs. The French fleet sailed on the 7th, consisting of thirty-one ships of the line, two fifty-gun ships, and eight frigates. This state is probably more authentic than those at Lloyd's.
Thus you see how big the moment is! and, unless far more favourable to us in its burst than good sense allows one to promise, it must leave us greatly exposed. Can we expect to beat with considerable loss?—and then, where have we another fleet? I need not state the danger from a reverse. The Spanish ambassador certainly arrived on Monday.
I shall go to town on Monday for a day or two; therefore, if you write to-morrow, direct to Arlington-street. I add no more: for words are unworthy of the situation; and to blame now, would be childish. It is hard to be gamed for against one's consent; but when one's country is at stake, one must throw oneself out of the question. When one, is old and nobody, one must be whirled with the current, and shake one's wings like a fly, if one lights on a pebble. The prospect is so dark, that one shall rejoice at whatever does not happen that may. Thus I have composed a sort of philosophy for myself, that reserves every possible chance. You want none of these Artificial aids to your resolution. Invincible courage and immaculate integrity are not dependent on the folly of ministers or on the events of war. Adieu!
Letter 142 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Strawberry Hill, July 24, 1778. (page 193)
Upon reviewing your papers, dear Sir, I think I can make more of them than I at first conceived. I have even commenced the life, and do not dislike my ideas for it, if the execution does but answer, At present, I am interrupted by another task, which you, too, have wished me to undertake. In a word, somebody has published Chatterton's works, and charged me heavily for having discountenanced him. He even calls for the indignation of the public against me. It is somewhat singular, that I am to be offered up as a victim at the altar of a notorious impostor! but as Many saints have been impostors, so many innocent persons have been sacrificed to them. However, I shall not be patient under this attack, but shall publish an answer-the narrative I mentioned to you. I would, as you know, have avoided entering into this affair if I could; but as I do not despise public esteem, it is necessary to show how groundless the accusation is. Do not speak of my intention, as perhaps I shall not execute it immediately.
I am not in the least acquainted with the Mr. Bridges you mention, nor know that I ever saw him. The tomb for Mr. Gray is actually erected, and at the generous expense of Mr. Mason, and with an epitaph of four lines,(316) as you heard, and written by him—but the scaffolds are not yet removed. I was in town yesterday, and intended to visit it, but there is digging a vault for the family of Northumberland, which obstructs the removal of the boards.
I rejoice in your amendment, and reckon it among my obligations to the fine weather, and hope it will be the most lasting of them. Yours ever.
(316) "No more the Grecian Muse unrivall'd reigns; To Britain let the nations homage pay: She felt a Homer's fire in Milton's strains, A Pindar's rapture in the lyre of Gray."-E.
Letter 143 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Strawberry Hill, August 15, 1778. (page 194)
Your observation of Rowley not being mentioned by William of Wyrcestre, is very strong, indeed, dear Sir, and I shall certainly take notice of it. It has suggested to me that he is not named by Bale or Pitts(317)—is he? Will you trouble yourself to look? I conclude he is not, or we should have heard of it. Rowley is the reverse of King Arthur, and all those heroes that have been expected a second time; he is to come again for the first time-I mean, as a great poet. My defence amounts to thirty pages of the size of this paper: yet I believe I shall not publish it. I abhor a controversy; and what is it to me whether people believe in an impostor or not? Nay, shall I convince every body of my innocence, though there is not the shadow of reason for thinking I was to blame? If I met a beggar in the street, and refused him sixpence, thinking him strong enough to work, and two years afterwards he should die of drinking, might not I be told I had deprived the world of a capital rope-dancer? In short, to show one's self sensible to such accusations, would only invite more; and since they accuse me of contempt, I will have it for my accusers.
My brass plate for Bishop Walpole was copied exactly from the print in Dart's Westminster, of the tomb of Robert Dalby, Bishop of Durham, with the sole alteration Of the name. I shall return, as soon as I have time, to Mr. Baker's Life; but I shall want to Consult you, or, at least, the account of him in the new Biographia, as your notes want some dates. I am not satisfied yet with what I have sketched; but I shall correct it. My small talent was grown very dull. This attack about Chatterton has a little revived it; but it warns me to have done , for, if*one comes to want provocatives,-the produce will soon be feeble. Adieu! Yours most sincerely.
(317) John Bale, Bishop of Ossory. The work to which Walpole alludes is his "Catalog's Scriptorum illustrium Majoris Brytannie." Basle, 1557-E.—John Pitts wrote, in opposition to Bale, "De illustribus Angliae Scriptoribus." Paris, 1619.-E.
Letter 144 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. Strawberry Hill, August 21, 1778. (page 195)
I think it so very uncertain whether this letter will find you, that I write merely to tell you I received yours to-day. I recollect nothing particularly worth seeing in Sussex that you have not seen (for I think you have seen Coudray and Stansted, and I know you have Petworth), but Hurst Monceaux, near Battle; and I don't know whether it is not pulled down. The site of Arundel Castle is fine, and there are some good tombs of the Fitzalans at the church, but little remains of the castle; in the room of which is a modern brick house; and in the late Duke's time the ghost of a giant walked there, his grace said—but I suppose the present Duke has laid it in the Red Sea of claret.
Besides Knowle and Penshurst, I should think there were several seats of old families in Kent worth seeing; but I do not know them. I poked out Summer-hill(318) for the sake of the Babylonienne in Grammont; but it is now a mere farmhouse. Don't let them Persuade you to visit Leeds Castle, which is not worth seeing.
You have been near losing me and half a dozen fair cousins today. The Goldsmiths, Company dined in Mr. Shirley's field, next to Pope's. I went to Ham with my three Waldegrave nieces and Miss Keppel, and saw them land, and dine in tents erected for them, from the opposite shore. You may imagine how beautiful the sight was in such a spot and in such a day! I stayed and dined at Ham, and after dinner Lady Dysart, with Lady Bridget Tollemache took our four nieces on the water to see the return of the barges but were to set me down at Lady Browne's. We were, with a footman and the two watermen, ten in a little boat. As we were in the middle of the river, a larger boat full of people drove directly upon us on purpose. I believe they were drunk. We called to them, to no purpose; they beat directly against the middle of our little skiff—but, thank you, did not do us the least harm—no thanks to them. Lady Malpas was in Lord Strafford's garden, and gave us for gone. In short, Neptune never would have had so beautiful a prize as the four girls.
I hear an express has been sent to * * * * to offer him the mastership of the horse. I had a mind to make you guess, but you never can—to Lord Exeter! Pray let me know the moment you return to Park-place.
(318) Formerly a country-seat of Queen Elizabeth, and the residence of Charles the Second when the court was at Tunbridge.- E.
Letter 145 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Strawberry Hill, August 22, 1778. (page 196)
I beg YOU Will feel no uneasiness, dear Sir, at having shown my name to Dr. Glynn. I Can never suspect you, who are giving me fresh proofs of your friendship, and solicitude for my reputation, of doing any thing unkind. It is true I do not think I shall publish any thing about Chatterton. IS not it an affront to innocence, not to be perfectly satisfied in her? My pamphlet, for such it would be, is four times as large as the narrative in your hands, and I think Would not discredit me—but, in truth, I am grown much fonder of truth than fame; and scribblers or their patrons shall not provoke me to sacrifice the one to the other. Lord Hardwicke, I know, has long been my enemy,—latterly, to get a sight of the Conway Papers, he has paid great court to me, which, to show how little I regarded his enmity, I let him see, at least the most curious. But as I set as little value on his friendship, I did not grant another of his requests. Indeed, I have made more than one foe by not indulging the vanity of those who have made application to me; and I am obliged to them, when they augment my contempt by quarrelling with me for that refusal. It was the case of Mr. Masters, and is now of Lord Hardwicke. He solicited me to reprint his Boeotian volume of Sir Dudley Carleton's Papers, for which he had two motives. The first he inherited from his father, the desire of saving money; for though his fortune is so much larger than mine, he knew I would not let out my press for hire, but should treat him with the expense, as I have done for those I have obliged. The second was, that the rarity of my editions makes them valuable, and though I cannot make men read dull books, I can make them purchase them. His lordship, therefore, has bad grace in affecting to overlook one, whom he had in vain courted, yet he again is grown my enemy, because I would not be my own. For my Writings, they do not depend on him or the venal authors he patronizes (I doubt very frugally), but On their own merits or demerits. It is from men of sense they must expect their sentence, not from boobies and hireling authors, whom I have always shunned, with the whole fry of minor wits, critics, and monthly censors. I have not seen the Review you mention, nor ever do, but when something particular is pointed out to me. Literary squabbles I know preserve one's name, when one's work will not; but I despise the fame that depends on scolding till one is remembered, and remembered by whom? The scavengers of literature! Reviewers are like sextons, who in a charnel-house can tell you to what John Thompson or to what Tom-Matthews such a skull or such belonged—but who wishes to know? The fame that is only to be found in such vaults, is like the fires that burn unknown in tombs, and go out as fast as they are discovered. Lord Hardwicke is welcome to live among the dead if he likes',,it, and can contrive to live nowhere else.
Chatterton did abuse me under the title of Baron of Otranto,(319) but unluckily the picture is more like Dr. Milles and Chatterton's own devotees' than to me, who am but a recreant antiquary, and, as the poor lad found by experience, did not swallow every fragment that 'Was offered to me as an antique; though that is a feature he has bestowed Upon me.
I have seen, too, the criticism you mention on the Castle of Otranto, in the preface to the Old English Baron.(320) It is not at all oblique, but, though mixed with high compliments, directly attacks the visionary part, which, says the author or authoress, makes one laugh. I do assure you, I have not had the smallest inclination to return that attack. It would even be ungrateful, for the work is a professed imitation of mine, only stripped of the marvellous; and so entirely stripped, except in one awkward attempt at a ghost or two, that it is the most insipid dull nothing you ever saw. It certainly does not make me laugh; but what makes one doze, seldom makes one merry.
I am very sorry to have talked for near three pages on what relates to myself, who should be of no consequence, if people did not make me so, whether I will or not.- My not replying to them, I hope, is a proof I do not seek to make myself the topic of conversation. How very foolish are the squabbles of authors! They buzz and are troublesome, to-day, and then repose for ever on some shelf in a college' library, close by their antagonists, like Henry VI. and Edward IV. at Windsor.
I shall be in town in a few days, and will send You the heads of painters, which I left there; and along with them for yourself a translation of a French play,(321) that I have just printed there. It is not for your reading, but as one of the Strawberry editions, and one of the rarest; for I have printed but seventy-five copies. It was to oblige Lady Craven, - the translatress; and will be an aggravation of my offence to Sir Dudley's State Papers.
I hope this Elysian summer, for it has been above Indian, has dispersed all your complaints. Yet it does not agree with fruit; the peaches and nectarines are shrivelled to the size of damsons, and half of them drop. Yet you remember what portly bellies the peaches had at Paris, where it is generally as hot. I suppose our fruit-trees are so accustomed to rain, that they don't know how to behave without it. Adieu!
P. S. I can divert you with a new adventure that has happened to me in the literary way. About a month ago, I received a letter from Mr. Jonathan Scott, at Shrewsbury, to tell me he was possessed of MS. of Lord Herbert's Account of the Court of France,(322) which he designed to publish by subscription, and which he desired me to subscribe to, and to assist in the publication. I replied, that having been obliged to the late Lord Powis and his widow, I could not meddle with any such thing, without knowing that it had the consent of the present Earl and his mother.
Another letter, commending my reserve, told me Mr. Scott had applied for it formerly, and would again now. This showed me they did not consent. I have just received a third letter, owning the approbation has not yet arrived; but to keep me employed in the mean time, the modest Mr. Scott, whom I never saw, nor know more of than I did of Chatterton, proposes to me to get his fourth son a place in the civil department in India: the father not choosing it should be in the military, his three eldest sons being engaged in that branch already. If this fourth son breaks his neck, I suppose it will be laid to my charge! Yours ever.
(319) Chatterton exhibited a ridiculous portrait of Walpole: in the "Memoirs of a Sad Dog," under the character of "the redoubted Baron Otranto, who has spent his whole life in conjectures."-E.
(320) The Old English Baron, a romance of considerable repute which has been frequently reprinted, was the production of Clara Reeve. This Ingenious lady had published, in 1772, a translation of Barclay's Latin romance of Argenis, under the title of "The Phoenix, or the History of Polyarchus and Argenis." She was born at Ipswich, in 1738, died there in 1808.-E.
(321) "the Sleep Walker;" Strawberry Hill, 1778. It was translated from the French of M. Pont de Veyle, by Lady Craven, afterwards Margravine of Anspach.-E.
(322) By Lord Herbert's Account of the Court of France, Mr. Scott most probably referred to his "Letters written during his residence at the French Court" and which were first published from the originals, in the edition of his Life which appeared in 1826.-E.
Letter 146 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. September 1, 1778. (page 198)
I have now seen the Critical Review, with Lord Hardwicke's note, in which I perceive the sensibility of your friendship for me, dear Sir, but no rudeness on his part. Contemptuous it was to reprint Jane Shore's letter without any notice of my having given it before: the apology, too, is not made to me-but I am not affected by such incivilities, that imply more ill-will than boldness. As I expected more from your representation, I believe I expressed myself with more warmth than the occasion deserved; and, as I love to be just, I will, now I am perfectly cool, be so to Lord Hardwicke. His dislike of me was meritorious in him, as I conclude it was founded on my animosity to his father, as mine had been, from attachment to my own who was basely betrayed by the late Earl. The present has given me formerly many peevish marks of enmity; and I suspect, I don't know if justly, that he was the mover of the cabal in the Antiquarian Society against me- -but all their Misunderstandings were of a size that made me smile rather than provoked me. The Earl, as I told you, has since been rather wearisome in applications to me; which I received rather civilly, but encouraged no farther. When he wanted me to be his printer, I own I was not good Christian enough, not to be pleased with refusing, and yet in as well-bred excuses as I could form, pleading what was true at the time, as you know, that I had laid down my press-but so much for this idle story. I shall think no more of it, but adhere to my specific system. The antiquarians will be as ridiculous as they used to be; and, since it is impossible to infuse taste into them, they will be as dry and dull as their predecessors. One may revive what perished, but it will perish again, if more life is not breathed into it than it enjoyed originally. Facts, dates, and names will never please the multitude, unless there is some style and manner to recommend them, and unless some novelty is struck out from their appearance. The best merit of the society lies in their prints; for their volumes, no mortal will ever touch them but an antiquary. Their Saxon and Danish discoveries are not worth more than monuments of the Hottentots; and for Roman remains in Britain, they are upon a foot with what ideas we should get of Inigo Jones, if somebody was to publish views of huts and houses, that our officers run up at Senegal and Goree. Bishop Lyttelton used to torment me with barrows and Roman camps, and I would as soon have attended to the turf graves in our churchyards. I have no curiosity to know how awkward and clumsy men have been in the dawn of arts, or in their decay.
I exempt you entirely from my general censure on antiquaries, both for your singular modesty in publishing nothing yourself, and for collecting stone and bricks for others to build with. I wish your materials may ever fall into good hands—perhaps they will! our empire is falling to pieces! we are relapsing to a little island. n that state men are apt to inquire how great their ancestors have been; and, when a kingdom is past doing any thing, the few that are studious look into the memorials of past time; nations, like private persons, seek lustre from their progenitors, when they have none in themselves, and the farther they are from the dignity of their source. When half its colleges are tumbled down, the ancient university of Cambridge will revive from your Collections,(323) and you will be a living witness that saw its splendour.
Since I began this letter, I have had another curious adventure. I was in the Holbein chamber, when a chariot stopped at my door. A letter was brought up—and who should be below but—Dr. Kippis. The letter was to announce himself and his business, flattered me on My Writings, desired my assistance, and particularly my direction and aid for his writing the life of my father. I desired he would walk up, and received him very civilly, taking not the smallest notice of what you had told me of his flirts at me in the new Biographia. I told him if I had been applied to, I could have pointed out many errors in the old edition, but as they were chiefly in the printing, I supposed they would be corrected. With regard to my father's life, I said, it might be partiality, but I had such confidence in my father's virtues, that I was satisfied the more his life was examined, the clearer they would appear. That I also thought that the life of any man written under the direction of his family, did nobody honour; and that, as I was persuaded my father's would stand the test, I wished that none of his relations should interfere in it. That I did not doubt but the Doctor would speak impartially, and that was all I desired. He replied, that he did suppose I thought in that manner, and that all he asked was to be assisted in facts and dates. I said, if he would please to write the life first, and then communicate it to me, I would point out any errors in facts that I should perceive. He seemed mightily well satisfied-and so we parted-but is it not odd. that people are continually attacking me, and then come to me for' assistance?— but when men write for profit, they are not very delicate.
I have resumed Mr. Baker's life, and pretty well arranged my plan; but I shall have little time to make any progress till October, as I am going soon to make some visits. Yours ever.
(323) His valuable Collections, in about a hundred volumes, in folio fairly written in his own band, Mr. Cole, on his death in 1782, left to the British Museum, to be locked up for twenty years. His Diary, as will be seen by a specimen or two, is truly ludicrous:—Jan. 25, 1766. Foggy. My beautiful Parrot died at ten at night, without knowing the Cause of his illness, he being very well last night.—Feb. 1. Fine day, and cold. Will. Wood carried three or four loads of dung Baptized William, the son of William Grace, blacksmith, whom I married about six months before. March 3. I baptized Sarah, the bastard daughter of the Widow Smallwood, of Eton, aged near fifty, whose husband died about a year ago.—March 6, Very fine weather. My man was blooded. I sent a loin Of pork and a spare-rib to Mr. Cartwright, in London.—27. I sent my two French wigs to my London barber to alter, they being made so miserably I could not wear them.—June 17. I went to our new Archdeacon's visitation at Newport-Pagnel. took young H. Travel with me on my dun horse, in order that he might hear the organ, he being a great psalm-singer. The most numerous appearance of clergy that I remember: forty-four dined with the Archdeacon; and what is extraordinary, not one smoked tobacco. My new coach-horse ungain.—Aug. 16. Cool day. Tom reaped for Joe Holdom. I cudgelled Jem for staying so long on an errand," etc.-E.
Letter 147 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Strawberry Hill, Sept. 18, 1778. (page 200)
I have run through the new articles in the Biographia, and think them performed but by a heavy hand. Some persons have not trusted the characters of their ancestors, as I did my father's, to their own merits. On the contrary, I have met with one whose corruption is attempted to be palliated by imputing its punishment to the revenge of my father-which, by the way, is confessing the guilt of the convict. This was the late Lord Barrington,(324) who, i believe, was a very dirty fellow; for, besides being expelled the House of Commons on the affair of the Harburgh lottery, he was reckoned to have twice sold the Dissenters to the court; but in short, what credit can a Biographia Britannica, which ought to be a standard work, deserve, when the editor is a mercenary writer, who runs about to relations for direction, and adopts any tale they deliver to him? This very instance is proof that it is not a jot more creditable than a peerage. The authority is said to be a nephew of Judge Foster, (consequently, I suppose, a friend of Judge Barrington), and he pretends to have found a scrap of paper, nobody knows on what occasion written, that seems to be connected with nothing, and is called a palliative, if not an excuse of Lord Barrington's crime. A man is expelled from Parliament for a scandalous job, and it is called a sufficient excuse to say the minister was his enemy; and this nearly forty years after the death of both! and without any impeachment of the justice of the sentence: instead of which we are told that Lord Barrington was suspected of having offended Sir Robert Walpole, who took that opportunity of being revenged. Supposing he did—which at most you see is a suspicion—grounded on a suspicion—it would at least Imply, that he had found a good opportunity. A most admirable acquittal! Sir Robert Walpole was expelled for having endorsed a note that was not for his own benefit, nor ever supposed to be, and it Was the act of a whole outrageous party; yet, abandoned as parliaments sometimes are, a minister would not find them very complaisant In gratifying his private revenge against a member without some crime. Not a syllable is said of any defence the culprit made:; and,' had my father been guilty of such violence and injustice, it is totally incredible that he, whose minutest acts and his most innocent were so rigorously scrutinized, tortured, and blackened, should never have heard that act of power complained of. The present Lord Barrington who opposed him, saw his fall, and the secret committee appointed' to canvass his life, when a retrospect of twenty years was desired and only ten allowed, would certainly have pleaded for the longer term, had he had any thing to say, in behalf of his father's sentence. Would so warm a patriot then, though so obedient a courtier now, have suppressed the charge to this hour? This Lord Barrington, when I was going to publish the second edition of my Noble Authors, begged it as a favour of me suppress all mention of his father—a strong presumption that he was ashamed of him. I am well repaid! but I am certainly 11 record that good man. I shall-and s ow at liberty to hall take notice of the satisfactory manner in which his sons have whitewashed their patriarch. I recollect a saying of the present peer that will divert you when contrasted with forty years of servility which even in this age makes him a proverb. It was in his days of virtue. He said, "If I should ever be so unhappy as to have a place that would make it necessary for me to have a fine coat on a birthday, I would pin a bank-bill on my sleeve." He had a place in less than two years, I think—and has had almost every place that every administration could bestow.(325) Such were the patriots that opposed that excellent man, my father; allowed by all parties as incapable of revenge as ever minister was—but whose experience of mankind drew from him that memorable saying, "that very few men ought to be prime ministers, for it is not fit many should know how bad men are;"—one can see a little of it without being a prime minister. "one shuns mankind and flies to books, one meets with their meanness and falsehood there, too! one has reason to say, there is but one good, that is God. Adieu! Yours ever.
(324) John Shute, first Viscount Barrington in the peerage of Ireland, expelled the House of Commons in February 1723, for having promoted, abetted, and carried on that fraudulent undertaking, the Harburgh lottery. This lottery took its name from the place where it Was to be drawn, the town and port of Harburgh, on the river Elbe, where the projector was to settle a trade for the woollen manufacture between England and Germany. Lord Barrington was distinguished for theological learning, and published "Miscellanea Critica" and an "Essay on the several Dispensations of God to Mankind." He died in 1734, leaving five sons, who had the rare fortune of each rising to high stations in the church, the state, the law, the army, and the navy.-E.
(325) See vol. i. p. 258, letter 69. Among the Mitchell MSS. is a letter from Lord Barrington, in which he says, "No man knows what is good for him: my invariable rule, therefore, is to ask nothing, to refuse nothing; to let Others place me, and to do my best wherever I am placed. The same strange fortune which made me secretary of war five years ago has made me chancellor of the exchequer; it may perhaps at last make me pope. I think i am equally fit to be at the head of the church as the exchequer."-E.
Letter 148 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Oct, 14, 1778. (page 202)
I think you take in no newspapers, nor do I believe condescend to read any more modern than the Paris 'a la Main at the time of the Ligue; consequently you have not seen a new scandal on my father, which you will not wonder offends me. You cannot be interested in his defence; but, as it comprehends some very curious anecdotes, you will not grudge my indulging myself to a friend in vindicating a name so dear to me. In the accounts of Lady Chesterfield's(326) death and fortune, it is said that the late King, at the instigation of Sir Robert Walpole, burnt his father's will which contained a large legacy to that, his supposed, daughter, and I believe his real one; for she was very like him, as her brother General Schulembourg, is, in black, to the late King. The fact of suppressing the will is indubitably true; the instigator most false, as I can demonstrate thus:— When the news arrived of the death of George the First, my father carried the account from Lord Townshend to the then Prince of Wales. One of the first acts of royalty is for the new monarch to make a speech to the privy council. Sir Robert asked the King who he would please to have draw the Speech, which was, in fact, asking who was to be prime minister; to which his Majesty replied, Sir Spencer Compton. It is a wonderful anecdote, and but little known, that the new premier, a very dull man, could not draw the Speech, and the person to whom he applied was the deposed premier. The Queen, who favoured my father, observed how unfit a man was for successor, who was reduced to beg assistance of his predecessor. The council met as soon as possible, the next morning at latest. There Archbishop Wake, with whom one copy of the will had been deposited, (as another was, I think, with the Duke of Wolfenbuttle, who had a pension for sacrificing it, which, I know, the late Duke of Newcastle transacted,) advanced and delivered the will to the King, who put it into his pocket, and went out of council without opening it, the Archbishop- not having courage or presence of mind to desire it to b' read,. as he ought to have done.
These circumstances, which I solemnly assure you are strictly true, prove that my father neither advised, nor was consulted; nor is it credible that the King in one night's time should have passed from the intention of disgracing him, to make him his bosom Confidant on so delicate an affair.
I was once talking to the late Lady Suffolk, the former mistress, on that extraordinary event. She said, "I cannot justify the deed to the legatees; but towards his father, the late King was justifiable, for George the First had burnt two wills made in favour of George the Second." I suppose these were the testaments of the Duke and Duchess of Zell, parents of George the First's wife, whose treatment of her they always resented.
I said, I know the transactions of the Duke of Newcastle. The late Lord Waldegrave showed me a letter from that Duke to The first Earl of Waldegrave, then ambassador at Paris, with directions about that transaction, or, at least, about payment of the pension, I forget which.(327) I have somewhere, but cannot turn to it now, a memorandum of that affair, and who the Prince was, whom I may mistake in calling Duke of Wolfenbuttle. There was a third COPY of the will, I likewise forget with whom deposited. The newspaper says, which is true, that Lord Chesterfield filed a bill in chancery against the late King to oblige him to produce the will, and was silenced, I think, by payment of twenty thousand Pounds. There was another legacy to his own daughter, the Queen of Prussia, which has at times been, and, I believe, is still claimed by the King of Prussia.
Do not mention any part of this story, but it is worth preserving, I am sure you are satisfied with my scrupulous veracity. It may Perhaps be authenticated hereafter by collateral evidence that may come out. If ever true history does come to light my father's character will have just honour paid to it. Lord Chesterfield, one of his sharpest enemies, has not, with all his prejudices, left a very unfavourable account of him, and it would alone be raised by a comparison of their two characters. Think of one who calls Sir Robert the corrupter of youth, leaving a system of education to poison them from their nursery! Chesterfield, Pulteney, and Bolingbroke were the saints that reviled my father! I beg your pardon, but you will allow Me to open my heart to you when it is full. Yours ever.
(326) Malosine de Schulenbourg, a natural daughter of George I. by Miss Schulenbourg, afterwards created Duchess of Kendal. She was created, in 1722, Countess of Walsingham and Baroness of Aldborough, and was the widow of Philip Dormer Stanhope, the celebrated Earl of Chesterfield, who died in 1773-E.
(327) See Walpole's Memoires of George the second, vol. ii., p. 458-E.
Letter 149 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. Oct. 23, 1778. (page 204)
* * * * * Having thus told you all I know, I shall add a few words, to say I conclude you have known as much, by my not having heard from you. Should the post-office or secretary's o(fice set their wits at work to bring to light all the intelligence contained under the above hiatus, I am confident they will discover nothing, though it gives an exact description of all they have been about themselves.
My personal history is very short. I have had an assembly and the rheumatism-and am buying a house-and it rains-and I shall plant the roses against my treillage to-morrow. Thus you know -what I have done, suffered, am doing, and shall do. Let me know as much of you, in quantity, not in quality. Introductions to, and conclusions of, letters are as much out of fashion, as to at, etc. on letters. This sublime age reduces every thing to its quintessence: all periphrases and expletives are so much in disuse, that I suppose soon the only way of making love will be to say "Lie down." Luckily, the lawyers will not part with any synonymous words, and will, consequently preserve the redundancies of our language—Dixi.
Letter 150 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. October 26, 1778. (page 204)
I have finished the life of Mr. Baker, will have it transcribed, and send it to you. I have omitted several little particulars that are in your notes, for two reasons; one, because so much is said in the Biographia; and the other, because I have rather drawn a character of him, than meant a circumstantial life. In the justice I have done to him, I trust I shall have pleased you. I have much greater doubt of that effect in what I have said of his principles and party. It is odd, perhaps, to have made use of the life of a high churchman for expatiating on my own very opposite principles; but it gave me SO fair an opportunity of discussing those points, that I very naturally embraced it. I have done due honour to his immaculate conscience, but have not spared the cause in which he fell,-or rather rose,-for the ruin of his fortune was the triumph of his virtue.
As you know I do not love the press, you may be sure I have no thoughts of printing this life at present; nay, I beg you will not only not communicate it, but take care it never should be printed without my consent. I have written what presented itself; I should perhaps choose to soften several passages; and I trust to you for Your own satisfaction, not as a finished thing, or as I am determined it should remain.
Another favour I beg of you is to criticise it as largely and severely As you please: you have A right so to do, as it is built with your own materials, nay, you have a right to scold if I have, nay, since I have, employed them so differently from your intention. All my excuse is, that you communicated them to one who did not deceive you, and you was pretty sure would make nearly the use of them that he has made. Was not you? did you not suspect a little that I could not write even a Life of Mr. Baker without talking Whiggism!—Well, if I have ill-treated the cause, I am sure I have exalted the martyr. I have thrown new light on his virtue from his notes on the Gazettes, and you will admire him more, though you may love me less, for my chymistry. I should be truly sorry if I did lose a scruple of your friendship. You have ever been as candid to me, as Mr. Baker was to his antagonists, and our friendship is another proof that men of the most opposite principles can agree in every thing else, and not quarrel about them.
As my manuscript contains above twenty pages of my writing on larger paper than this, you cannot receive it speedily—however, I have Performed my promise, and I hope you will not be totally discontent, though I am not satisfied with myself. I have executed it by snatches and by long interruptions; and not having been eager about it, I find I wanted that ardour to inspire me; another proof of what I told you, that my small talent is waning, and wants provocatives. It shall be a warning to me. Adieu!
Letter 151 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Arlington Street, Nov. 4, 1778. (page 205)
You will see by my secretary's hand, that I am not able to write myself; indeed, I am in bed with the gout in six places, like Daniel in the den; but, as the lions are slumbering round me, and leave me a moment of respite, I employ it to give you one. You have misunderstood me, dear Sir: I have not said a word that will lower Mr. Baker's character; on the contrary, I think he will come out brighter from my ordeal. In truth, as I have drawn out his life from your papers, it is a kind of Political epic, in which his conscience is the hero that always triumphs over his interest upon the most opposite occasions. Shall you dislike your saint in this light! I had transcribed about half when I fell ill last week. If the gout does not seize my right hand, I shall Probably have recovery full leisure to finish it during my recovery, but shall certainly not be able to send it to you by Mr. Lort.
Your promise fully satisfies me. My life can never extend to twenty years.(328) Anyone that saw me this moment would not take me for a Methusalem. I have not strength to dictate more now, except to add, that if Mr. Nicholls has seen my narrative about Chatterton, it can only be my letter to Mr. Barrett, of which you have a copy; the larger one has not yet been out of my own house. Yours most sincerely.
(328) Mr. Cole had informed Walpole that his collections were not to be opened until twenty years after his death. See ant'e, P. 199, letter 146, note 323.
Letter 152 To Lady Browne.(329) Arlington Street, Nov, 5, 1778. (page 206)
Your ladyship is exceedingly kind and charitable, and the least I can do in return is to do all I can—dictate a letter to you. I have not been out of bed longer than it was necessary to have it made, once a day, since last Thursday. The gout is in both my feet, both my knees, and in my left hand and elbow. Had I a mind to brag, I could boast of a little rheumatism too, but I scorn to set value on such a trifle; nay, I will own that I have felt but little acute pain. My chief propensity to exaggeration would be on the miserable nights I have passed; and yet whatever I should say would not be beyond what I thought I suffered. I have been constantly as broad awake as Mrs. Candour that is always gaping for Scandal,(330) except when I have taken opiates, and then my dreams have been as extravagant as Mrs. Candour adds to what she hears. In short, Madam, not to tire you with more details, though you have ordered them, I am so weak that I am able to see nobody at all, and when I shall be recovered enough to take possession of this new lease, as it is called, the mansion, I believe, will be so shattered that it won't be worth repairs. Is it not very foolish, then, to be literally buying a new house? Is it not verifying Pope's line, when I choose a Pretty situation,
"But just to look about us and to die?"
I am sorry Lady Jane's lot is fallen in Westphalia, where so great a hog is lord of the manor. He is like the dragon of Wantley,
"And houses and churches To him are geese and turkeys;"
so I don't wonder that he has gobbled her two cows.
Lady Blandford is delightful in congratulating me upon having the gout in town, and staying in the country herself. Nay, she is very insolent in presuming to be the only person invulnerable. If I could wish her any, harm, it should be that she might feel for one quarter of an hour a taste of the mortifications that I suffered from eleven last night till four this morning, and I am sure she would never dare to have a spark of courage again. I can only wish her in Grosvenor-square, where she would run no risks. Her reputation for obstinacy is so well established, that she might take advice from her true friends for a twelvemonth, before we should believe our own ears. However, as every body has some weak part, I know she will do for others more than for herself; and, therefore, pray Madam, tell her, that I am sure it is bad for Your ladyship to stay in the country at this time of year, and that reason, I am sure will bring you both. I really must rest.
(329) Now first printed. See vol. iii., letter to George Montagu, Esq., Nov. 1, 1767, letter 332.
(330) Sheridan's popular comedy of the "School for Scandal" which came out at Drury-lane theatre in May 1777, was at this time as much the favourite of the town as ever.-E.
Letter 153 To Lady Browne.(331) Arlington Street, Dec. 18, 1778. (page 207)
My not writing with my own hand, to thank Your ladyship for your very obliging letter, is the worst symptom that remains with me, Madam: all pain and swelling are gone; and I hope in a day or two to get a glove even on my right hand, and to walk with help into the room by the end of next week. I did I confess, see a great deal too much company too early; and was such an old child as to prattle abundantly, till I was forced to shut myself up for a week and see nobody; but I am quite recovered, and the emptiness of the town will soon preserve me from any excesses.
I am exceedingly glad to hear your ladyship finds so much benefit from the air: I own I thought you looked ill the last time I had the honour of seeing you; and though I am sorry to hear you talk with so much satisfaction of a country life, I am not selfish enough to wish you to leave Tusmore(332) a day before your health is quite re-established, nor to envy Mr. Fermor so agreeable an addition to his society and charming seat.
Poor Lady Albemarle is indeed very miserable and full of apprehensions; though the incredible zeal. of the navy for Admiral Keppel crowns him with glory, and the indignation of and the indignation of mankind, and the execration of Sir Hugh, add to the triumph. Indeed, I still think Lady A.'s fears may be well founded: some slur may be Procured on her son; and his own bad nerves, and worse constitution, may not be able to stand agitation and suspense.(333)
Lady Blandford has had a cold, but I hear is well again, and has generally two tables. She will be a loss indeed to all her friends, and to hundreds more; but she cannot be immortal, nor would be, if she could.
The writings are not yet signed, Madam, for my house, but I am in no doubt of having it; yet I shall not think of going into it till the spring, as I cannot enjoy this year's gout in it, and will not venture catching a codicil, by going backwards and forwards to it before it is aired.
I know no particular news, but that Lord Bute was thought in great danger yesterday; I have heard nothing of him to-day. I do not know even a match, but of some that are going to be divorced; the fate of one of the latter is to be turned into an exaltation, and is treated by her family and friends in quite a new style, to the discomfit of all prudery. It puts me in mind of Lord Lansdowne's lines in the room in the Tower where my father had been confined,
"Some fall so hard, they bound and rise again."
Methinks, however, it is a little hard on Lord George Germaine, that in four months after seeing a Duchess of Dorset, he may see a Lord Middlesex too; for so old the egg is said to be, that is already prepared. If this trade goes on, half the peeresses will have two eldest sons with both fathers alive at the same time. Lady Holderness expresses nothing but grief and willingness to receive her daughter(334) again on any terms, which probably will happen; for the daughter has already opened her eyes, is sensible of her utter ruin, and has written to Lord Carmarthen and Madam Cordon, acknowledging her guilt, and begging to be remembered only with pity, which is sufficient to make one pity her.
I would beg pardon for so long a letter, but your ladyship desired THE intelligence, and I know a long letter from London is not uncomfortable at Christmas, even. in the most comfortable house in the country. Perhaps my own forced idleness has a little contributed to lengthen it; still I hope it implies great readiness to obey your ladyship's commands, in your most obedient humble servant.
(331) Now first printed.
(332) Lady Browne's first husband was Henry Fermor Esq., grandfather of Mr. Fermor of Tusmore House. She was Miss Sheldon.-E.
(333) Some charges having been brought against Admiral Keppel for his conduct at the battle of Ushant, by Sir Hugh Palliser, his vice-admiral, he was tried for the same, and not only unanimously acquitted, but the prosecution declared malicious. This verdict gave such general satisfaction, that London was illuminated for two nights; upon one, of which a mob, consisting in great part of sailors who had served under Keppel, broke all the windows in the house of his accuser. The city of London voted the Admiral the freedom of the corporation. In 1782, he was Created Viscount Keppel, and appointed first lord of the admiralty. He died unmarried, in October 1786. The following is a part of Mr. Burke's beautiful panegyric on him, at the conclusion of his letter to a noble Lord:—"I ever looked on Lord Keppel as one of the greatest and best men of his age, and I loved and cultivated him accordingly. It was at his trial that he gave me this picture. With what zeal and anxious affection I attended him through that his agony of glory; what part my son took in the early flush and enthusiasm of his virtue, and the pious passion with which he attached himself to all my connexions; with what prodigality we both squandered ourselves in courting almost every sort of enmity for his sake, I believe he felt, just as I should have felt such friendship on such an occasion. I partook, indeed, of this honour with several of the first, and best, and ablest in the kingdom; but I was behind with none of them - and I am sure that if, to the eternal disgrace of this nation, and to the total annihilation of every trace of honour and virtue in it, things had taken a different turn from what they did, I should have attended him to the quarterdeck with no less good-will and more pride, though with far other feelings, than I partook of the general flow of national joy that attended the justice that was done to his virtue."-E.
(335) Amelia D'Arcy, Baroness Conyers, daughter of Robert, fourth Earl of Holderness, Married to Lord Carmarthen; who had eloped with Captain John Byron, father of the great poet.-E.
Letter 154 To The Earl Of Buchan.(336) Arlington Street, Dec. 24, 1778. (page 209)
It was an additional mortification to my illness, my lord, that I was nut able to thank your lordship with my own hand for the honour of your letter, and for your goodness in remembering an old man, who must with reason consider himself as forgotten, when he never was of importance, and is now almost useless to himself. Frequent severe fits of the gout have a good deal disabled me from pursuing the trifling studies in which I could pretend to know any thing; or at least has given me an indifference, that makes me less ready in answering questions than I may have been formerly; and as my papers are in the country, whither at present I am not able to go, I fear I can give but unsatisfactory replies to your lordship's queries.
The two very curious pictures of King James and his Queen (I cannot recollect whether the third or fourth of the name, but I know that she was a princess of Sweden or Denmark,(337) and that her arms are on her portrait,) were at the palace at Kensington, and I imagine are there still. I had obtained leave from the Lord Chamberlain to have drawings made of them, and Mr. Wale actually began them for me, but made such slow progress, and I was so called off from the thought of them by indispositions and other avocations, that they were never finished; and Mr.. Wale may, perhaps, still have the beginnings he made.
At the Duke of Devonshire's at Hardwicke, there is a valuable though poorly painted picture of James V. and Mary of Guise, his second queen: it is remarkable from the great resemblance of Mary Queen of Scots to her father; I mean in Lord Morton's picture of her, and in the image of her on her tomb at Westminster, which agree together, and which I take to be the genuine likeness. I have doubts on Lord Burlington's picture, and on Dr. Mead's. The nose in both is thicker, and also fuller at bottom than on the tomb; though it is a little supported by her coins.
There is a much finer portrait,—indeed, an excellent head,—of the Lady Margaret Douglas at Mr. Carteret's at Hawnes in Bedfordshire, the late Lord Granville's. It is a shrewd countenance, and at the same time with great goodness of character. Lord Scarborough has a good picture, in the style of Holbein at least, of Queen Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII., and of her second or third husband (for, if I don't mistake, she had three); but indeed, my lord, these things are so much out of my memory at present, that I speak with great diffidence. I cannot even recollect any thing else to your lordship's purpose; but I flatter myself, that these imperfect notices will at least be a testimony of my readiness to obey your lordship's commands, as that I am, with great respect, my lord, your lordship's obedient humble servant.