Letters of Horace Walpole, V4
by Horace Walpole
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(336) Now first printed. David Stewart Erskine, eleventh Earl of Buchan. He was intended for public life, but shortly after succeeding to the family honours, in 1767, he retired to Scotland, and devoted himself to literature. His principal works were, an Essay on the lives of Fletcher of Saltoun and the Poet Thomson, and a Life of Napier of Merchiston. He died at Dryburgh Abbey in 1829 at the age of eighty-seven.-E.

(337) James the First married, in 1590, Anne, daughter of Frederick King of Denmark.-E.

Letter 155 To Edward Gibbon, Esq.(338) [1778.] (page 210)

Dear Sir, I have gone through your Inquisitor's attack(339) and am far from being clear that it deserves your giving yourself the trouble of an answer, as neither the detail nor the result affects your argument. So far from it, many of his reproofs are levelled at your having quoted a wrong page; he confessing often that what you have cited is in the author, referred to, but not precisely in the individual spot. If St. Peter is attended by a corrector of the press, you will certainly never be admitted where he is a porter. I send you my copy, because I scribbled my remarks. I do not send them with the impertinent presumption of suggesting a hint to you, but to prove I did not grudge the trouble of going through such a book when you desired it, and to show how little struck me as of any weight.

I have set down nothing on your imputed plagiarisms; for, if they are so, no argument that has ever been employed must be used again, even where the passage necessary is applied to a different purpose. An author is not allowed to be master of his own works; but, by Davis's new law, the first person that cites him would be so. You probably looked into Middleton, Dodwell, etc.; had the same reflections on the same circumstances, or conceived them so as to recollect them, without remembering what suggested them. Is this plagiarism? If it is, Davis and such cavillers might go a short step further, and insist that an author should peruse every work antecedently written on every subject at all collateral to his own.-not to assist him, but to be sure to avoid every material touched by his predecessors. I will make but one remark on such divine champions. Davis and his prototypes tell you Middleton, etc. have used the same objections, and they have been confuted: answering, in the theologic dictionary, signifying confuting; no matter whether there is sense, argument, truth, in the answer or not.

Upon the whole I think ridicule is the only answer such a work is entitled to.' The ablest, answer which you can make (which would be the ablest answer that could be made) would never have any authority with the cabal, yet would allow a sort of dignity to the author. His patrons will always maintain that he vanquished you, unless u made him too ridiculous for them to dare to revive his name. You might divert yourself, too, with Alma Mater, the church, employing a goviat to defend the citadel, while the generals repose in their tents. If irenaeus, St. Augustine, etc. did not set apprentices and proselytes to combat Celsus and the adversaries of the new religion—-but early bishops had not five or six thousand pounds a-year.

In short, dear Sir, I wish you not to lose your time; that is, either ,not reply, or set your mark on your answer, that it may always be read with the rest of your works.

(338) Now first collected.

(339) "An Examination of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Chapters of Mr. Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. By Henry Edward Davis, B.A. of Baliol College, Oxford." He was born in 1756 and died in 1784, at the early age of twenty-seven. He was a native of Windsor, and is believed to have received a present from George the Third for this production.-E.

Letter 156 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Strawberry Hill, Jan. 3, 1779. (page 211)

At last, after ten weeks I have been able to remove hither, in hopes change of air and the frost will assist my recovery; though I am not one of those ancients that forget the register, and think they are to be as well as ever after every fit of illness. As yet I can barely creep about the room in the middle of the day.

I have made my printer (now my secretary) copy out the rest of Mr. Baker's Life; for my own hand will barely serve to write necessary letters, and complains even of them. If you know of any very trusty person passing between London and Cambridge, I would send it to you, but should not care to trust it by the coach, nor to any giddy undergraduate that comes to town to see a play; and, besides, I mean to return you your own notes. I Will Say no more than I have said in my apology to you for the manner in which I have written this life. With regard to Mr. Baker himself, I am confident you will find that I have done full justice to his work and character. i do not expect You to approve the inferences I draw against some other persons; and yet, if his conduct was meritorious, it would not be easy to excuse those who -were active after doing what he would not do. You will not understand this sentence till you have seen the Life.

I hope you have not been untiled or unpaled by the tempest on New-year's morning.(340) I have lost two beautiful elms in a row before my windows here, and had the skylight demolished in town. Lady Pomfret's Gothic house in my street lost one of the stone towers, like those at King's Chapel, and it was beaten through the roof The top of our cross, too, at Ampthill was thrown down, as I hear from Lady Ossory this morning. I remember to have been told that Bishop Kidder and his wife were killed in their bed in the palace of Gloucester in 1709,(341) and yet his heirs were sued for dilapidations. Lord de Ferrers,(342) who deserves his ancient honours, is going to repair the castle at Tamworth, and has flattered me that he will Consult me. He has a violent passion for ancestry—and, consequently, I trust will not stake the patrimony of the Ferrars, Townshends, and Comptons, at the hazard-table. A little pride would not hurt our nobility, cock and hen. Adieu, dear Sir; send me a good account of yourself Yours ever.

(340) On the 1st of January, 1779, London was visited by one of the most violent tempests ever known. Scarcely a public building in the metropolis escaped without damage.-E.

(341) The memorable storm here alluded to took place in November, 1703, and Bishop Kidder and his lady perished in their bed at the episcopal palace at Wells by the fall of a stack of chimneys. They were privately interred in the cathedral; and one of his daughters, dying single, directed by her will a monument to be erected for her parents.-E.

(342) Robert, sixth Earl Ferrers. He had just succeeded to the title, by the death of his brother Washington, vice-admiral of the blue,; who had begun to rebuild the mansion of Stanton Harold, in Leicestershire, according to a plan of his own, and lived to see it nearly finished.-E.

Letter 157 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. Arlington Street; Jan. 9, 1779. (page 212)

Your flight to Bath would have much surprised me, if Mr. Churchill, who, I think, heard it from Stanley, had not prepared me for it. Since you was amused, I am glad you went, especially as you escaped being initiated in Mrs. Miller's follies at Batheaston,(343) which you would have mentioned. She would certainly have sent some trapes of a Muse to press you, had she known what good epigrams you write.

I went to Strawberry partly out of prudence, partly from ennui. I thought it best to air myself before I go in and out of hot rooms here, and had my house thoroughly warmed for a week previously, and then only stirred from the red room to the blue on the same floor. I stayed five days, and was neither the better nor the worse for it. I was quite tired with having neither company, books, nor amusement of any kind. Either from the emptiness of the town, or that ten weeks of gout have worn out the patience of all my acquaintance, but I do not see three persons in three days. This gives me but an uncomfortable prospect for my latter days: it is but probable that I may be a cripple in a fit or two more, if I have strength to go through them; and, as that will be long life, one outlives one's acquaintance. I cannot make new acquaintance, nor interest myself at all about the young, except those that belong to me; nor does that go beyond contributing to their pleasures, without having much satisfaction in their conversation-But-one must take every thing as it comes, and make the best of it., I have had a much happier life than I deserve, and than millions that deserve better. I should be very weak if I could not bear the uncomfortableness of old age, when I can afford what comforts it is capable of. How many poor old people have none of them! I am ashamed whenever I am peevish, and recollect that I have fire and servants to help me.

I hear Admiral Keppel is in high spirits with the great respect and zeal expressed for him. In my own opinion, his constitution will not stand the struggle. I am very uneasy too for the Duke of Richmond, who is at Portsmouth, and will be at least as much agitated.

Sir William Meredith has written a large pamphlet, and a very good one. It is to show, that whenever the Grecian republics taxed their dependents, the latter resisted, and shook off the yoke. He has printed but twelve copies: the Duke of Gloucester sent me one of them. There is an anecdote of my father, on the authority of old Jack White, which I doubt. It says, he would not go on with the excise scheme, though his friends advised it, I cannot speak to the particular event, as I was, then at school; but it was more like him to have yielded, against his sentiments, to Mr. Pelham and his candid—or say, plausible—and timid friends. I have heard him say, that he never did give up his opinion to such men but he always repented it. However, the anecdote in the, book would be more to his honour. But what a strange man is Sir William! I suppose, now he has written this book, he will change his opinion, and again be for carrying on the war—or, if he does not know his own mind for two years together, why will he take places, to make every body doubt his honesty?

(343) See ant'e, P. 125, letter 86.-E.

Letter 158 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. January 15, 1779. (page 213)

I sent you by Dr. Jacob, as you desired, my Life of Mr. Baker, and with it your own materials. I beg you will communicate my Manuscript to nobody, but if you think it worth your trouble I will consent to your transcribing it; but on one condition, and a silly one for Me to exact, who am as old as You, and broken to pieces, and very unlikely to survive you; but, should so improbable a thing happen, I must exact that you will keep your transcript sealed up, with orders written on the cover to be restored to me in case of an accident, for I should Certainly dislike very much to see it printed without my consent. I should not think of your copying it, if you did not love to transcribe, and sometimes things of as little value as my manuscript. I shall beg to have it returned to me by a safe hand as soon as you can, for I have nothing but the foul copy, which nobody can read, I believe, but I and my secretary.

I am actually printing my Justification about Chatterton, but only two hundred copies to give away; for I hate calling in the whole town to a fray, of which otherwise probably not one thousand persons would ever hear. You shall have a copy as soon as ever it is finished, which my printer says will be in three weeks.

You know my printer is my secretary too: do not imagine I am giving myself airs of a numerous household of officers. I shall be glad to see the letter of Mr. Baker you mentioned. You will perceive two or three notes in my manuscript in a different hand from mine, or that of my amanuensis (still the same officer;) they were added by a person I lent it to, and I have effaced part of the last.

I must finish, lest Dr. Jacob should call, and my parcel not be ready. I hope your sore throat is gone; my gout has returned again a little with taking the air only, but did not stay— however, I am still confined, and almost ready to remain so, to prevent disappointment. Yours most sincerely.

Letter 159 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Arlington Street, Jan. 28, 1779. (page 214)

I write in as much hurry as you did, dear Sir, and thank you for the motive of yours mine is to prevent your fatiguing yourself in copying my manuscript, for which I am not in the least haste: pray keep it till another safe conveyance presents itself. You may bring the gout, that is, I am sorry to hear, flying about you, into your hand by wearying it.

How can you tell me I may well be cautious about my manuscript and yet advise me to print it?—No-I shall not provoke nests of hornets, till I am dust, as they will be too.

If I dictated tales when ill in my bed, I must have been worse than I thought; for, as I know nothing of it, I must have been light-headed. Mr. Lort was certainly misinformed, though he seems to have told you the story kindly to the honour of my philosophy or spirits-but I had rather have no fame than what I do not deserve.

I am fretful or low-spirited at times in the gout, like other weak old men, and have less to boast than most men. I have some strange things in my drawer, even wilder than the Castle of Otranto, and called Hieroglyphic Tales; but they were not written lately, nor in the gout, nor, whatever they may seem, written when I was out of my senses. I showed one or two of them to a person since my recovery, who may have mentioned them, and occasioned Mr. Lort's misintelligence. I did not at all perceive that the latter looked ill; and hope he is quite recovered. You shall see Chatterton soon. Adieu!

Letter 160To The Rev. Mr. Cole. February 4, 1779. (page 215)

I have received the manuscript, and though you forbid my naming the subject more, I love truth, and truth in a friend so much, that I must tell you, that so far from taking your sincerity ill, I had much rather you should act with your native honest sincerity than say you was pleased with my manuscript. I have always tried as much as is in human nature to divest myself of the self-love of an author; in the present case I had less difficulty than ever, for I never thought my Life of Mr. Baker one of my least indifferent works. You might, believe me, have sent me your long letter; whatever it contained, it would not have made a momentary cloud between us. I have not only friendship, but great gratitude for you, for a thousand instances of kindness; and should detest any writing of mine that made a breach with a friend, and still more, if it could make me forget obligations.

Letter 161 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. February 18, 1779. (page 215)

I sent you my Chattertoniad(344) last week,,in hopes it would sweeten your pouting; but I find it has not, or has miscarried; for You have not 'acknowledged the receipt with your usual punctuality.

Have you seen Hasted's new History of Kent?(345) I am sailing through it, but am stopped every minute by careless mistakes. They tell me the author has good materials, but is very negligent, and so I perceive, He has not even given a list of monuments in the churches, which I do not remember in any history of a county; but he is rich in pedigrees; though I suppose they have many errors too, as I have found some in those I am acquainted with- It is unpardonable to be inaccurate in a work in which one nor expects nor demands any thing but fidelity.(346)

We have a great herald arising in a very noble race, Lord de Ferrers. I hope to make him a Gothic architect too, for he is going to repair Tamworth Castle and flatters me that I shall give him sweet counseil! I enjoin him to kernellare. Adieu! Yours ever.

(344) "A Letter to the Editor of the Miscellanies of Thomas Chatterton." Strawberry Hill, 1779, 8vo.-E.

(345) "The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent; by Edward Hasted," four volumes, folio, 1778-1799. A second and improved edition, in twelve volumes, octavo, appeared in 1797-1801. Mr. Hasted died in 1812 at the age of eighty.-E.

(346) in a memoir of himself, which, he drew up for the Gentleman's Magazein, to be published after his death, he says, "his laborious History of Kent took him more than forty years; during the whole series of which he spared neither pains nor expense to bring it to maturity."-E.

Letter 162 To Sir David Dalrymple.(347) Arlington Street, March 12, 1779. (page 216)

I have received this moment from your bookseller, Sir, the valuable present of the second volume of your "Annals," and beg leave to return you my grateful thanks for so agreeable a gift, of which I can only have taken a look enough to lament that you do not intend to continue the work. Repeated and severe attacks of the gout forbid my entertaining- visions of pleasures to come; but though I might not have the advantage of your labours, Sir, I wish too well to posterity not to be sorry that you check your hand.

Lord Buchan did me the honour lately of consulting me on portraits of illustrious Scots. I recollect that there is at Windsor a very good portrait of your countryman Duns Scotus,(348) whose name struck me on just turning over your volume. A good print was made from that picture some years ago, but I believe it is not very scarce: as it is not worth while to trouble his lordship with another letter for that purpose only, may I take the liberty, Sir, of begging you to mention it to his lordship?

(347) Now first collected.

(348) Granger considers the portrait of Windsor not to be genuine. Of Duns Scotus, he says, "It requires one half of a man's life to read the works of this profound doctor, and the , other to understand his subtleties. His printed works are in twelve volumes in folio! His manuscripts are sleeping in Merton College, Oxford. Voluminous works frequently arise from the ignorance and confused ideas of the authors: if angels, says Mr. Norris, were writers, we should have few folios. He was the head of the sect of schoolmen called scotists. He died in 1308."-E.

Letter 163 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Strawberry Hill, March 28, 1779. (page 216)

Your last called for no answer; and I have so little to tell you, that I only write to-day to avoid the air of remissness. I came hither on Friday, for this last week has been too hot to stay in London; but March is arrived this morning with his northeasterly malice, and I suppose will assert his old-style claim to the third of April. The poor infant apricots will be the victims to that Herod of the almanack. I have been much amused with new travels through Spain by a Mr. Swinburne(349)—at least with the Alhambra, of the inner parts of which there are two beautiful prints. The Moors were the most polished, and had the most taste of any people in the Gothic ages; and I hate the knave Ferdinand and his bigoted Queen for destroying them. These new travels are simple, and do tell you a little more than late voyagers, by whose accounts one would think there was nothing in Spain but muleteers and fandangos. In truth, there does not seem to be much worth seeing but prospects; and those, unless I were a bird, I would never visit, when the accommodations are so wretched.

Mr. Cumberland has given the town a masque, called Calypso,(350) which is a prodigy of dulness. Would you believe, that such a sentimental Writer would be so gross as to make cantharides one of the ingredients of a love-potion, for enamouring Telemachus? If you think I exaggerate, here are the lines:

"To these, the hot Hispanian fly Shall bid his languid pulse beat high."

Proteus and Antiope are Minerva's missioners for securing the prince's virtue, and in recompense they are married and crowned king and queen!

I have bought at Hudson's sale a fine design of a chimney-piece, by Holbein, for Henry VIII. If I had a room left I would erect. It is certainly not so Gothic as that in my Holbein room; but there is a great deal of taste for that bastard style; perhaps it was executed at Nonsuch. I do intend, under Mr. Essex's inspection, to begin my offices next spring. It is late in my day, I confess, to return to brick and mortar but I shall be glad to perfect my plan, or the' next possessor will marry my castle to a Doric stable. There is a perspective through two or three rooms in the Alhambra, that might easily be improved into Gothic, though there seems but small affinity between them; and they might be finished within with Dutch tiles, and painting, or bits of ordinary marble, as there must be gilding. Mosaic seems to be their chief ornaments, for walls, ceilings, and floors. Fancy must sport in the furniture, and mottos might be gallant, and would be very Arabesque. I would have a mixture of colours, but with a strict attention to harmony and taste; and some one should predominate, as supposing it the favourite colour of the lady who was sovereign of the knight's affections who built the house. Carpets are classically Mahometans, and fountains—but, alas! our climate till last summer was never romantic! Were I not so old, I would at least build a Moorish novel-for you see my head Turns on Granada-and by taking the most picturesque parts of the Mahometan and Catholic religions, and with the mixture of African and Spanish names, one might make something very agreeable—at least I will not give the hint to Mr. Cumberland. Adieu! Yours ever.

(349) "Travels through Spain in the Years 1775 and 1776; in which several Monuments of Roman and Moorish Architecture are illustrated by accurate Drawings taken on the spot. By Henry Swinburne." London, 1779, 4to. Mr. Swinburne also published, in 1783-5 his "Travels in the Two Sicilies during the Years 1777-8-9, and 1780." This celebrated traveller was the youngest son of Sir John Swinburne, of Capheaton, Northumberland; the long-established seat of that ancient Roman Catholic family. Pecuniary embarrassments, arising from the marriage of his daughter to Paul Benfield, Esq. and consequent involvement in the misfortunes of that adventurer, induced him to obtain a Place in the newly-ceded settlement of Trinidad, where he died in 1803.-E.

(350) "Calypso" was brought out at Covent-Garden theatre, but was performed only a few nights. It was imprudently ushered in by a prelude, in which the author treated the newspaper editors as a set of unprincipled fellows.-E.

Letter 164 To Edward Gibbon, Esq.(351) (1779.] (page 218)

The penetration, solidity, and taste, that made you the first of historians, dear Sir, prevent my being surprised at your being the best writer of controversial pamphlets too.(352) I have read you with more precipitation than such a work deserved, but I could not disobey you and detain it. Yet even in that hurry I could discern, besides a thousand beauties and strokes of wit, the inimitable eighty-third page, and the conscious dignity that you maintain throughout, over your monkish antagonists. When you are so superior in argument, it would look like insensibility to the power of your reasoning, to select transient passages for commendation; and yet I must mention one that pleased me particularly, from the delicacy of the severity, and from its novelty too; it is, bold is not the word. This is the feathered arrow of Cupid, that is more formidable than the club of Hercules. I need not specify thanks, when I prove how much I have been pleased. Your most obliged.

(351) Now first collected.

(352) Gibbon's celebrated "Vindication" of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Chapters of his History appeared early in the year 1779. "I adhered," he says in his Memoirs, "to the wise resolution of trusting myself and my writing to the candour of the public, till Mr. Davis of Oxford presumed to attack, not the faith but the fidelity of the historian. My Vindication, expressive of less anger than contempt, amused for a moment the busy and idle metropolis; and the most rational Part of the laity, and even of the clergy, appear to have been satisfied of my innocence and accuracy I would not print it in quarto, lest it should be bound and preserved with the history itself At the distance of twelve years, I calmly affirm my judgment of Davis, Chelsum, etc. A victory over such antagonists was a sufficient humiliation. They, however were rewarded in this world, Poor Chelsum was, indeed, neglected; and I dare not boast the making Dr. Watson a bishop: he is a prelate of a large mind and a liberal spirit: but I enjoyed the pleasure of giving a royal pension to Mr. Davis, and of collating Dr. Althorpe to an archiepiscopal living."-E.

Letter 165 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Arlington Street, April 12, 1779. (page 218)

As your gout was so concise, I will not condole on it, but I am sorry you are liable to it if you do but take the air. Thank you for telling me of the vendible curiosities at the Alderman's. For St. Peter's portrait to hang to a fairie's watch, I shall not think of it, both as I do not believe it very like, and as it is composed of invisible Writing, for which my eyes are not young enough. In truth, I have almost left off making purchases: I have neither room for any thing more, nor inclination for them, as I reckon every thing very dear when One has so little time to enjoy it. However, I cannot say but the plates by Rubens do tempt me a little—yet, as I do not care to, buy even Rubens in a poke, I should wish to know if the Alderman would let me see. if it were but one. Would he be persuaded? I would pay for the carriage, though I should not buy them.

Lord de Ferrers will be infinitely happy with the sight of the pedigree, and I will certainly tell him of it, and how kind you are.

Strype's account, or rather Stow's, of Richard's person is very remarkable—but I have done with endeavouring at truth. Weeds grow more naturally than what one plants. I hear your Cantabrigians are still unshaken Chattertonians. Many men are about falsehood like girls about the first man that makes love to them: a handsomer, a richer, or even a sincerer lover cannot eradicate the first impression—but a sillier swain, or a sillier legend, sometimes gets into the head of a miss or the learned man, and displaces the antecedent folly. Truth's kingdom is not of this world.

I do not know whether our clergy are growing Mahometans or not: they certainly are not what they profess themselves—but as you and I should not agree perhaps in assigning the same defects to them, I will not enter on a subject which I have promised you to drop. All I allude to now is, the shocking murder of Miss Ray(353) by a divine. In my own opinion we are growing more fit for Bedlam, than for Mahomet's paradise. The poor criminal in question, I am persuaded, is mad—and the misfortune is, the law does not know how to define the shades of madness; and thus there -are twenty outpensioners of Bedlam, for the one that is confined. You, dear Sir, have chosen a wiser path to happiness by depending on yourself for amusement. Books and past ages draw one into no scrapes, and perhaps it is best not to know much of men till they are dead. I wish you health -,You want nothing else. I am, dear Sir, yours most truly.

(353) On the 7th of April, Miss Reay, who had been the mistress of Lord Sandwich for twenty years, by whom she was the mother of many children, was shot, on her leaving Covent-Garden theatre, by the Rev. James Hackman, who had the living of Wiverton, in Norfolk, a young man not half her age, who had imbibed a violent passion for her, whom he first met at Lord Sandwich's seat at Hinchinbroke, where he had been frequently invited to dine while commanding a recruiting party at Huntingdon; he being, previously to his entering the church, a lieutenant in the 68th regiment of foot. Having shot Miss Reay, he fired a pistol at himself; but, being only wounded by it, he was tried at the Old Bailey, convicted, and executed.-E.

Letter 166 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Arlington Street, April 20, 1779. (page 219)

Dear Sir, I have received the plates very safely, but hope You nor the Alderman,(354) will take it ill that I return them. They are extremely pretty, and uncommonly well preserved; but I am sure they are not by Rubens, nor I believe after his designs, for I am persuaded they are older than his time. In truth, I have a great many Of the same sort, and do not wish for more. I shall send them back on Thursday by the Fly, and will beg you to inquire after them; and I trust they will arrive as safely as they did to Yours ever.

(354) Alderman John Boydell, an English engraver; distinguished as an encourager of the fine arts. In 1790 he held the office of Lord Mayor of London, and died in 1804.-E.

Letter 167 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. April 23, 1779. (page 220)

I ought not to trouble you so often when you are not well; but that is the very cause of my writing now. You left off abruptly from disorder, and therefore I wish to know it is gone. The plates I hope got home safe. They are pretty, especially the reverses; but the drawing in general is bad.

Pray tell me what you mean by a priced catalogue of the pictures at Houghton. Is it a printed one? if it is, where is it to be had?—odd questions from me, and which I should not wish to have mentioned as coming from me. I have been told to-day that they are actually sold to the Czarina—sic transit! mortifying enough, were not every thing transitory! we must recollect that our griefs and pains are so, as well as our joys and glories; and, by balancing the account, a grain of comfort is to be extracted! Adieu! I shall be heartily glad to receive a better account of you.

Letter 168 To Mrs. Abington.(355) (1779.] (page 220)

Mr. Walpole cannot express how much he is mortified that he cannot accept of Mrs. Abington's obliging invitation, as he had engaged company to dine with him on Sunday at Strawberry-hill; whom he would put off, if not foreigners who are leaving England. Mr. Walpole hopes, however, that this accident will not prevent an acquaintance, which his admiration of Mrs. Abington'S genius has made him long desire; and which he hopes to cultivate at Strawberry Bill, when her leisure will give him leave to trouble her with an invitation.

(355) Now first collected.

Letter 169 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Arlington Street, May 21, 1779. (page 221)

As Mr. Essex has told me that you still continue out of order, I am impatient to hear from yourself how you are. Do send me a line: I hope it will be a satisfactory one. you know that Dr. Ducarel has published a translation of a History of the Abbey of Bec! There is a pretty print to it: and one very curious circumstance, at least valuable to us disciples of Alma Mater Etonensis. The ram-hunting was derived from the manor of Wrotham in Norfolk, which formerly belonged to Bec, and being forfeited, together with other alien priories, was bestowed by Henry VI. on our college. I do not repine at reading any book from which I can learn a single fact that I wish to know. For the lives of the abbots, they were, according to the author, all pinks of piety and holiness but there are few other facts amusing, especially with regard to the customs of those savage times-excepting that the Empress Matilda was buried in a bull's hide, and afterwards had a tomb covered with silver. There is another new book called "Sketches from Nature," in two volumes, by Mr. G. Keate, in which I found one fact too, that, if authentic, is worth knowing. The work is an imitation of Sterne, and has a sort of merit, though nothing that arrives at originality.

For the foundation of the church of Reculver, he quotes a manuscript said to be written by a Dominican friar of Canterbury, and preserved at Louvain. The story is evidently metamorphosed into a novel. and has very little of an antique air; but it affirms that the monkish author attests the beauty of Richard III. This is very absurd, if invention has nothing to do with the story; and therefore one should suppose it genuine. I have desired Dodsley to ask Mr. Keate, if there truly exists such, a manuscript: if there does, I own I wish he had printed it rather than his own production; for I am with Mr. Gray, "that any man living may make a book worth reading, if he will but set down with truth what he has seen or heard, no matter whether the book is well written or not." Let those who can write, glean.

Letter 170 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. Arlington Street, May 22, 1779. (page 221)

If you hear of us no oftener than we of you, you will be as much behindhand in news as my Lady Lyttelton. We have seen a traveller that saw you in your island,(356) but it sounds like hearing of Ulysses. Well! we must be content. YOU are not only not dethroned, but owe the safety of your dominions to your own skill in fortification. if we do not hear of your extending your conquests, why, is it not less than all our modern heroes have done, whom prophets have foretold and gazettes celebrated—or who have foretold and celebrated themselves. Pray be content to be cooped up in an island that has no neighbours, when the Howes and Clintons and Dunmores and Burgoynes and Campbells are not yet got beyond the great river— Inquiry!(357) To-day's papers say, that the little Prince of Orange(358) is to invade you again; but we trust Sir James Wallace has clipped his wings so close, that they will not grow again this season, though he is so ready to fly.

Nothing material has happened since I wrote last-so, as every moment of a civil war is precious, every one has been turned to the interest of diversion. There have been three masquerades, an Installation, and the ball of the knights at the Haymarket this week; not to mention Almack's festino, Lady Spencer's, Ranelagh and Vauxhall, operas and plays. The Duchess of Bolton too saw masks—so many, that the floor gave way, and the company in the dining-room were near falling on the heads of those in the parlour, and exhibiting all that has not yet appeared in Doctors' Commons. At the knights' ball was such a profusion of strawberries, that people could hardly get into the supper-room. I could tell you more, but I do not love to exaggerate. Lady Ailesbury told me this morning that Lord Bristol has got a calf with two feet to each leg—I am convinced it is by the Duchess of Kingston, who has got two of every thing where others have but one.(359) Adieu! I am going to sup with Mrs. Abington—and hope Mrs. Clive will not hear of it.

(356) Mr. Conway was now at his government of Jersey.

(357) The parliamentary inquiry which took place in the House of Commons on the conduct of the American war.

(358) The Prince of Nassau, who had commanded the attack upon Jersey, claiming relationship to the great house of Nassau Mr. Walpole calls him the "little Prince of Orange." Gibbon, in a letter to Mr. Holroyd, of the 7th, says, "You have heard of the Jersey invasion; every body praises Arbuthnot's decided spirit. Conway went last night to throw himself into the island."-E.

(359) "Do you know, my lord," said the Duchess, then Miss Chudleigh, to Lord Chesterfield, "the world says I have had twins!" "Does it?" said his lordship; "I make a point of believing only one-half of what it says."-E.

Letter 171 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Strawberry Hill, June 2, 1779. (page 222)

I am most sincerely rejoiced, dear Sir, that you find yourself at all better, and trust it is an omen of farther amendment. Mr. Essex surprised me by telling me, that you, who keep yourself so warm and so numerously clothed, do yet sometimes, if the sun shines, sit and write in your garden for hours at a time. It is more than I should readily do, whose habitudes are so very different from yours. Your complaints seem to demand perspiration—but I do not venture to advise. I understand no constitution but my own, and should kill Milo, if I managed him as I treat myself. I sat in a window on Saturday, with the east wind blowing on my neck till near two in the morning-and it seems to have done me good, for I am better within these two days than I have been these six months. My spirits have been depressed, and my nerves so aspen, that the smallest noise disturbed me. To-day I do not feel a complaint; which is something at near sixty-two.

I don't know whether I have not misinformed you, nor am sure it was Dr. Ducarel who translated the account of the Abbey of Bec— he gave it to Mr. Lort; but I am not certain he ever published it. You was the first that notified to me the fifth volume of the Archaeologia—I am not much more edified than usual; but there are three pretty prints of Reginal Seats. Mr. Pegge's tedious dissertation, which he calls a brief one, about the foolish legend of St. George, is despicable: all his arguments are equally good for proving the existence of the dragon. What diversion might laughers make of the society! Dolly Pentraeth, the old woman of Mousehole, and Mr. Penneck's nurse. p. 81, would have furnished Foote with two personages for a farce. The same grave dissertation on patriarchal customs seems to have as much to do with British antiquities, as the Lapland: witches that sell wind—and pray what business has the Society With Roman inscriptions in Dalmatia! I am most pleased With the account of Nonsuch, imperfect as it is: it appears to have been but a villa, and not considerable for a royal one. You see lilacs were then a novelty. Well, I am glad they publish away. The vanity of figuring in these repositories will make many persons contribute their manuscripts, and every now and then something valuable Will come to light, which its own intrinsic merit might not have saved. I know nothing more of Houghton. I should certainly be glad to have the priced catalogue; and if you will lend me yours, my printer shall transcribe it-but I am in no hurry. I Conceive faint hopes, as the sale is not concluded: however, I take care not to flatter myself.

I think I told you I had purchased, at Mr. Ives's sale, a handsome coat in painted glass, of Hobart impaling Boleyn—but I can find no such match in my pedigree—yet I have heard that Blickling belonged to Ann Boleyn's father. Pray reconcile all this to me. '

Lord de Ferrers is to dine here on Saturday; and I have got to treat him with an account of ancient painting, formerly in the hall of Tammworth Castle; they are mentioned in Warton's Observations on the Fairy Queen, Vol i. p. 43.

Do not put yourself' to pain to answer this—only be assured I shall be happy to know when you are able to write with ease. You must leave Your cloister, if Your transcribing leaves you. Believe me, dear Sir, Ever most truly.

Letter 172 To The Rev. Dr. Lort. Strawberry Hill, June 4, 1779. (page 224)

I am sorry, dear Sir, you could not let me have the pleasure of your company; but, I own, you have partly, not entirely, made me amends by the sight of your curious manuscript, which I return you, with your other book of inaugurations.

The sight of the manuscript was particularly welcome to me, because the long visit of Henry VI. and his uncle Gloucester, to St. Edmund's Bury, accounts for those rare altar tablets that I bought at Mr. Ives's sale, on which are incontestably the portraits of Duke Humphrey, Cardinal Beaufort, and the same archbishop that is in my Marriage of Henry VI. I know the house of Lancaster were patrons of St. Edmund's Bury; but so long a visit is demonstration.

The fourth person on my panels is unknown. Over his head is a coat of arms. but may be that of W. Curteys the abbot, or the alderman, as he is in scarlet. His figure and the Duke's are far superior to the other two, and worthy of a good Italian master. The Cardinal and the Archbishop are in the dry hard manner of the age. I wish you would call and look at them; they are at Mr. Bonus's in Oxford-road; the two prelates are much damaged. I peremptorily enjoined Bonus to repair only, and not to repaint them; and thus, by putting him out of his way, I have put him so much out of humour too, that he has kept them these two years, and not finished them yet. I design them for the four void spaces in my chapel, on the sides of the shrine. The Duke of Gloucester's face is so like, though younger, that it proves I guessed right at his figure in my Marriage. The tablets came out of the abbey of Bury; were procured by old Peter Le Neve, Norroy; and came by his widow's marriage to Tom Martin, at whose sale Mr. Ives bought them. We have very few princely portraits so ancient, so authentic, and none so well painted as the Duke and fourth person. These were the insides of the doors, which I had split into two, and value them extremely. This account I think will be more satisfactory to you than notes.

Pray tell me how you like the pictures when you have examined them. I shall search in Edmondson's new Vocabulary of Arms for the coat which contains three bulls' heads on six pieces; but the colours are either white and black. or the latter is become so by time. I hope you are not going out of town yet; I shall probably be there some day in next week.

I see advertised a book something in the way of your inaugurations, called Le Costume; do you know any thing of it? Can YOU tell me who is the author of the Second Anticipation on the Exhibition? Is not it Barry the painter?

Letter 173 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. Strawberry Hill, Saturday, June 5, 1779. (page 225)

I write to you more seldom than I am disposed to do, from having nothing positive to tell you, and from being unwilling to say and unsay every minute something that is reported positively. The confident assertions of the victory over D'Estaing are totally vanished-and they who invented them, now declaim as bitterly against Byron, as if he had deceived them-and as they did against Keppel. This day se'nnight there was a great alarm about Ireland-which was far from being all invention, though not an absolute insurrection, as it was said." The case, I believe, was this:-The court, in order to break the volunteer army established by the Irish themselves, endeavoured to persuade a body in Lady Blayney's county of Monaghan to enlist in the militia—which they took indignantly. They said, they had great regard for Lady Blayney and Lord Clermont; but to act under them, would be acting under the King, and that was by no means their intention. There have since been motions for inquiries what steps the ministers have taken to satisfy the Irish-and these they have imprudently rejected-which will not tend to pacification. The ministers have been pushed too on the article of Spain, and could not deny that all negotiation is at an end—though they will not own farther. However, the Spanish ambassador is much out of humour. From Paris they write confidently of the approaching declaration;(360) and Lord Sandwich, I hear, has said in a very mixed company, that it was folly not to expect it. There is another million asked, and given on a vote of credit; and Lord North has boasted of such mines for next year,,that one would think he believed next year would never Come.

The Inquiry(361) goes on, and Lord Harrington did honour himself and Burgoyne. Barr'e and Governor Johnstone have had warm words,(362) and Burke has been as frantic for the Roman Catholics as Lord George Gordon against them. The Parliament, it is said, is to rise on the 21st.

YOU Will not collect from all this that our prospect clears up. I fear there is not more discretion in the treatment of Ireland than of America. The court seems to-be infatuated and to think that nothing is of any consequence but a majority in Parliament-though they have totally lost all power but that of provoking. Fortunate it had been for the- King and kingdom, had the court had no majority for these six years! America had still been ours -and all the lives and all the millions we have squandered! A majority that has lost thirteen provinces by bullying and vapouring, and the most childish menaces, will be a brave countermatch for France and Spain, and a rebellion in Ireland! In short, it is plain that there is nothing a majority in Parliament can do, but outvote a minority; and by their own accounts one would think they could not even do that. I saw a paper t'other day that began with this Iriscism, "As the minority have lost us thirteen provinces," etc. I know nothing the minority have done, or been suffered to do, but restore the Roman Catholic religion-and that too was by the desire of the court.

This is however the present style. They announced with infinite applause a new production of Tickell:—it has appeared, and is a most paltry performance. It is called the Cassette Verte of M. de Sartine, and pretends to be his correspondence with the opposition. Nay, they are so pitifully mean as to laugh at Dr. Franklin, who has such thorough reason to sit and laugh at them. What triumph it must be to him to see a miserable pamphlet all the revenge they can take! There is another, still duller, called Opposition Mornings, in which you are lugged in. In truth, it is a compliment to any man to except him out of the number of those that have contributed to the shocking disgraces inflicted on this undone country. When Lord Chatham was minister, he never replied to abuse but by a victory.

I know no private news: I have been here ever since Tuesday, enjoying my tranquillity, as much as an honest man can do who sees his country ruined. It is just such a period as makes philosophy wisdom. There are great moments when every man is called on to exert himself-but when folly, infatuation, delusion, incapacity, and profligacy fling a nation away, and it concurs itself, and applauds its destroyers, a man who has lent no hand to the mischief, and can neither prevent nor remedy the mass of evils, is fully justified in sitting aloof and beholding the tempest rage, with silent scorn and indignant compassion. Nay, I have, I own, some comfortable reflections. I rejoice that there is still a great continent of Englishmen who will remain free and independent, and who laugh at the impotent majorities of a prostitute Parliament. I care not whether General Burgoyne and Governor Johnstone cross over and figure in, and support or oppose; nor whether Mr. Burke, or the superior of the Jesuits, is high commissioner to the kirk of Scotland. My ideas are such as I have always had, and are too plain and simple to comprehend modern confusions; and, therefore, they suit with those of few men. What will be the issue of this chaos, I know not, and, probably, shall not see. I do see with satisfaction, that what was meditated has failed by the grossest folly; and when one has escaped the worst, lesser evils must be endured with patience.

After this dull effusion, I will divert you with a story that made me laugh this morning till I cried. You know my Swiss David, and his incomprehensible pronunciation. He came to me, and said, "Auh! dar is Meses Ellis wants some of your large flags to put in her great O." With much ado, I found out that Mrs. Ellis had sent for leave to take up some flags out of my meadow for her grotto.

I hope in a few days to see Lady Ailesbury and Miss Jennings here; I have writ to propose it. What are your intentions? Do you stay till you have made your island impregnable? I doubt it will be our only one that will be so.

(360) On the breaking out of the war between this country and America, Spain had offered to mediate between them; but, receiving a refusal, she at once declared herself a principal in the war and ready to fulfil the terms of the family compact.-E.

(361) The Inquiry into the Conduct of the American war.

(362) In the course of a debate in the House of Commons, on the 3d of June, Governor Johnstone told Colonel Barr'e, that he was making a scaramouch of himself. The Colonel got up to demand an explanation, but the Speaker put an end to the altercation.-E.

Letter 174 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. Strawberry Hill, June 16, 1779. (page 227)

Your Countess was here last Thursday, and received a letter from you, that told us how slowly you receive ours. When you will receive this I cannot guess; but it dates a new era, which you with reason did not care to look at as possible. In a word, behold a Spanish war! I must detail a little to increase your wonder. I heard here the day before yesterday that it was likely; and that night received a letter from Paris, telling me (it was of the 6th) that Monsieur de Beauveau was going, they knew not whither, at the head of twenty-five thousand men, with three lieutenant-generals and six or eight mar'echaux de camp under him. Yesterday I went to town, and Thomas Walpole happened to call on me. He, who used to be informed early, did not believe a word either of a Spanish war or a French expedition. I saw some other persons in the evening as ignorant. At night I went to sup at Richmond-house. The Duke said the Brest fleet was certainly sailed, and had got the start of ours by twelve days: that Monsieur de Beauveau was on board with a large sum of money, and with white and red cockades; and that there would certainly be a Spanish war. He added, that the Opposition were then pressing in the House of Commons to have the Parliament continue sitting, and urging to know if we were not at the eve of a Spanish war; but the ministers persisted in the prorogation ,for to-morrow or Friday, and would not answer on Spain.

I said I would make you wonder-But no-Why should the Parliament continue to sit? Are not the ministers and the Parliament the same thing? And how has either House shown that it has any talent for war?

The Duke of Richmond does not guess whither the Brest fleet is gone. He thinks, if to Ireland, we should have known it by this time. He has heard that the Prince of Beauveau has said he was going on an expedition that would be glorious in the eyes of posterity. asked, if that might not mean Gibraltar? The Duke doubts, but hopes it, as he thinks it no wise measure on their side: yet he was very melancholy, as you will be, on this heavy accession to our distresses.

Well! here we are, aris et focis and all at stake! What can we be meaning? Unable to conquer America before she was assisted—scarce able to keep France at bay—are we a match for both, and Spain too? What can be our view? nay, what can be Our expectation? I sometimes think we reckon it will be more creditable to be forced by France and Spain to give up America, than to have the merit with the latter of doing it with grace.-But, as Cato says,

"I'm weary of conjectures—this must end them;"

that is, the sword:—and never, I believe, did a Country Plunge itself into such difficulties step by step, and for six years, together, without once recollecting that each foreign war rendered the object of the civil war more unattainable; and that in both the foreign wars we have not an object in prospect. Unable to recruit our remnant of an army in America, are we to make conquests on France and Spain? They may choose their attacks: we can scarce choose what we will defend.

Ireland, they say, is more temperate than was expected. That is some consolation-yet many fear the Irish will be tempted to unite with America, which would throw all that trade into their convenient harbours; and I own I have apprehensions that the Parliament's rising without taking a step in their favour may offend them. Surely at least we have courageous ministers. I thought my father a stout man:—he had not a tithe of their spirit.

The town has wound up the season perfectly in character by a f'ete at the Pantheon by subscription. Le Texier managed it; but it turned out sadly. The company was first shut into the galleries to look down on the supper, then let to descend to it. Afterwards they were led into the subterraneous apartment, which was laid with mould, and planted with trees, and crammed with nosegays: but the fresh earth, and the dead leaves, and the effluvia of breaths made such a stench and moisture, that they were suffocated; and when they remounted, the legs and wings of chickens, and remnants Of ham (for the supper was not removed) poisoned them more. A druid in an arbour distributed verses to the ladies; then the Baccelli(363) and the dancers of the Opera danced; and then danced the company; and then it being morning, and the candles burnt out, the windows were opened; and then the stewed-danced assembly were such shocking figures, that they fled like ghosts as they looked.—I suppose there will be no more balls unless the French land, and then we shall show we do not mind it.

Thus I have told you all I know. You will ponder over these things in your little distant island, when we have forgotten them. There is another person, one Doctor Franklin, who, I fancy, is not sorry that we divert ourselves so well. Yours ever.

(363) After the departure of Mademoiselle Heinel, no dancing so much delighted the frequenters of the Opera as that of Mademoiselle Baccelli and M. Vestris le jeune.-E.

Letter 175 To The Hon. George Hardinge.(364) Strawberry Hill, July 4, 1779. (page 229)

I have now received the drawings of Grignan, and know not how to express my satisfaction and gratitude but by a silly witticism that is like the studied quaintness of the last age. In short, they are so much more beautiful than I expected, that I am not surprised at your having surprised me by exceeding even what I expected from your well-known kindness to me; they are charmingly executed, and with great taste. I own too that Grignan is grander, and in a much finer situation, than I had imagined; as I concluded that the witchery of Madame de S'evign'e's ideas and style had spread the same leaf-gold over places with which she gilded her friends. All that has appeared of them since the publication of her letters has lowered them. A single letter of her daughter, that to Paulina, with a description of the Duchess of Bourbon's toilette, is worthy of the mother. Paulina's own letters contain not a little worth reading: one just divines that she might have written well if she had had any thing to write about (which, however, would not have signified to her grandmother.) Coulanges was a silly good-humoured glutton, that flattered a rich widow for her dinners. His wife was sensible, but dry, and rather peevish at growing old. Unluckily nothing more has come to light of Madame de S'evign'e's son, whose short letters in the collection I am almost profane enough to prefer to his mother's; and which makes me astonished that she did not love his wit, so unaffected, and so congenial to her own, in preference to the eccentric and sophisticated reveries of her sublime and ill-humoured daughter. Grignan alone maintains its dignity, and shall be consecrated here among other monuments of that bewitching period, and amongst which one loves to lose oneself, and drink oblivion of an era so very unlike; for the awkward bigots to despotism of our time have not Madame de S'evign'e's address, nor can paint an Indian idol with an hundred hands as graceful as the Apollo of the Belvidere. When will you come and accept my thanks? will Wednesday next suit you? But do you know that I must ask you not to leave your gown behind You, which indeed I never knew you put on Willingly, but to come in it. I shall want your protection at Westminster Hall. Yours most cordially.

(364) Son of Nicholas Hardinge, Esq. one of the joint secretaries of the treasury, and member for the borough of Eye. He was educated at Eton school, and finished his studies at Trinity College, Cambridge, where Dr. Watson was his tutor, He was called to the bar in 1769, and was subsequently appointed solicitor- general to the Queen. in 1787, he was made a Welsh judge, and died in 1816. In 1818, the works of this clever and eccentric scholar were published, with an account of his life, by Mr. John Nichols.-E.

Letter 176 To The Countess Of Ailesbury. Saturday night, July 10, 1779. (page 230)

I could not thank your ladyship before the post went out to-day, as I was getting into my chaise to go and dine at Carshalton with my cousin Thomas Walpole when I received your kind inquiry about my eye. It is quite well again, and I hope the next attack of the gout will be any where rather than in that quarter.

I did not expect Mr. Conway would think of returning just now. As you have lost both Mrs. Damer and Lady William Campbell, I do not see why your ladyship should not go to Goodwood.

The Baroness's increasing peevishness does not surprise me. When people will not weed their own minds, they are apt to be overrun with nettles. She knows nothing of politics, and no wonder talks nonsense about them. It is silly to wish three nations had but one neck; but it is ten times more absurd to act as if it was so, which the government has done;—ay, and forgetting, too, that it has not a scimitar large enough to sever that neck, which they have in effect made one. It is past the time, Madam, of making Conjectures. How can one guess whither France and Spain will direct a blow that is in their option? I am rather inclined to think that they will have patience to ruin us in detail. Hitherto France and America have carried their points by that manoeuvre. Should there be an engagement at sea, and the French and Spanish fleets, by their great superiority, have the advantage, one knows not what might happen. Yet, though there are such large preparations making on the French coast, I do not much expect a serious invasion, as they are sure they can do us more damage by a variety of other attacks, where we can make little resistance. Gibraltar and Jamaica can but be the immediate objects of Spain. Ireland is much worse guarded than this island:—nay, we must be undone by our expense, should the summer pass without any attempt. My cousin thinks they will try to destroy Portsmouth and Plymouth—but I have seen nothing in the present French ministry that looks like bold enterprise. We are much more adventurous, that set every thing to the hazard: but there are such numbers of baronesses that both talk and act with passion, that one would think the nation had lost its senses. Every thing has miscarried that has been undertaken, and the worse we succeed, the more is risked;—yet the nation is not angry! How can one conjecture during such a delirium? I sometimes almost think I must be in the wrong to be of so contrary an opinion to most men—yet, when every Misfortune that has happened had been foretold by a few, why should I not think I have been in the right? Has not almost every single event that has been announced as prosperous proved a gross falsehood, and often a silly one? Are we not at this moment assured that Washington cannot possibly amass an army of above 8000 men! and yet Clinton, with 20,000 men, and with the hearts, as we are told, too, of three parts of the colonies, dares not show his teeth without the walls of New York? Can I be in the wrong in not believing what is so contradictory to my senses We could not Conquer America when it stood alone; then France supported it, and we did not mend the matter. To make it still easier, we have driven Spain into the alliance. Is this wisdom? Would it be presumption, even if one were single, to think that we must have the worst in such a contest? Shall I be like the mob, and expect to conquer France and Spain, and then thunder upon America? Nay, but the higher mob do not expect such success. They would not be so angry at the house of Bourbon, if not morally certain that those kings destroy all our passionate desire and expectation of conquering America. We bullied, and threatened, and begged, and nothing would do. Yet independence was still the word. Now we rail at the two monarchs—and when they have banged us, we shall sue to them as humbly as We did to the Congress. All this my senses, such as they are, tell me has been and will be the case. What is worse, all Europe is of the same opinion; and though forty thousand baronesses may be ever SO angry, I venture to prophesy that we shall make but a very foolish figure whenever we are so lucky as to obtain a peace; and posterity, that may have prejudices of its own, will still take the liberty to pronounce, that its ancestors were a woful set of politicians from the year 1774 to—I wish I knew when.

If I might advise, I would recommend Mr. Burrell to command the fleet in the room of Sir Charles Hardy. The fortune of the Burrells is powerful enough to baffle calculation. Good night, Madam!

P. S. I have not written to Mr. Conway since this day sevennight, not having a teaspoonful of news to send him. I will beg your ladyship to tell him so.

Letter 177 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Strawberry Hill, July 12, 1779. (page 231)

I am concerned, dear sir, that you gave yourself the trouble of transcribing the catalogue and prices, which I received last night, and for which I am exceedingly obliged to you. Partial as I am to the pictures at Houghton, I confess I think them much overvalued. My father's whole collection, of which alone he had preserved the prices, cost but 40,000 pounds; and after his death there were three sales of pictures, among which were all the whole-lengths of Vandyke but three, which had been sent to Houghton, but not fitting any of the ,spaces left, came back to town. Few of the rest sold were very fine, but no doubt Sir Robert had paid as dear for many of them; as purchasers are not perfect connoisseurs at first. Many of the valuations are not only exorbitant, but injudicious. They who made the estimate seem to have considered the rarity of the hands more than the excellence. Three-The, Magi's Offering, by Carlo Maratti, as it is called, and two supposed Paul Veronese,-are very indifferent copies, and yet all are roundly valued, and the first ridiculously. I do not doubt of another picture in the collection but the Last Supper, by Raphael, and yet this is set down at 500 pounds. I miss three pictures, at least they are not set down, the Sir Thomas Wharton, and Laud and Gibbons. The first is most capital; yes, I recollect I have had some doubts on the Laud, though the University of Oxford once offered 400 pounds for it—and if Queen Henrietta is by Vandyke, it is a very indifferent One. The affixing a higher value to the Pietro Cortona than to the octagon Guido is most absurd—I have often gazed on the latter, and preferred it even to the Doctor's. In short, the appraisers were determined to see what the Czarina Could give, rather than what the pictures were really worth—I am glad she seems to think so, for I hear no more of the sale—it is not very wise in me still to concern myself, at my age, about what I have SO little interest in-it is still less wise to be so anxious on trifles, when one's country is sinking. I do not know which is most Mad, my nephew, or our ministers—both the one and the other increase my veneration for the founder of Houghton!

I will not rob you of the prints you mention, dear Sir; one of them at least I know Mr. Pennant gave me. I do not admire him for his punctiliousness with you. Pray tell me the name Of your glass-painter; I do not think I shall want him, but it is not impossible. Mr. Essex agreed With me, that Jarvis's windows for Oxford, after Sir Joshua Reynolds, will not succeed. Most of his colours are opake, and their great beauty depending on a spot of light for Sun or moon, is an imposition. When his paintings are exhibited at Charing-cross, all the rest of the room is darkened to relieve them. That cannot be done at New College; or if done, the chapel would be too dark. If there are other lights, the effect will be lost.

This sultry weather will, I hope, quite restore YOU; People need not go to Lisbon and Naples, if we continue to have such summers. Yours most sincerely.

Letter 178 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Strawberry Hill, August 12, 1779. (page 232)

I write from decency, dear Sir, not from having any thing particular to say, but to thank you for your offer of letting me see the arms of painted glass; which, however, I will decline, lest it should be broken, and as at present I have no occasion to employ the painter. If I build my offices, perhaps I may have; but I have dropped that thought for this year. The disastrous times do not inspire expense. Our alarms, I conclude, do not ruffle your hermitage. We are returning to our state of islandhood, and shall have little, I believe, to boast but of what we have been.

I see a History of Alien Priories announced;(365) do you know any thing of it, or of the author? I am ever yours.

(365) This was Mr. Gough's well-known work, entitled "Some Account of the Alien Priories, and of such Lands as they are known to have possessed in England and Wales," in two volumes octavo.-E.

Letter 179 To The Countess Of Ailesbury. Strawberry Hill, Friday night, 1779. (page 233)

I am not at all surprised, my dear Madam, at the intrepidity of Mrs. Damer;(366) she always was the heroic daughter of a hero. Her sense and coolness never forsake her. I, who am not so firm, shuddered at your ladyship's account. Now that she has stood fire for four hours, I hope she will give as clear proofs of her understanding, of which I have as high opinion as of her courage, and not return in any danger.

I am to dine at Ditton to-morrow, and will certainly talk on the subject You recommend; yet I am far, till I have heard more, from thinking with your ladyship, that more troops and artillery at Jersey would be desirable. Any considerable quantity of either, especially of the former, cannot be spared at this moment, when so big a cloud 'hangs over this island, nor would any number avail if the French should be masters at sea. A large garrison would but tempt the French thither, were it but to distress this country; and, what is worse, would encourage Mr. Conway to make an impracticable defence. If he is to remain in a situation so unworthy of him, I confess I had rather he was totally incapable of making any defence. I love him enough not to murmur at his exposing himself where his country and his honour demand him; but I would not have him measure himself in a place untenable against very superior force. My present comfort is, as to him, that France at this moment has a far vaster object. I have good reason to believe the government knows that a great army is ready to embark at St. Maloes, but will not stir till after a sea-fight, which we do not know but may be engaged at this moment. Our fleet is allowed to be the finest ever set forth by this country; but it is inferior in number by seventeen ships to the united squadron of the Bourbons. France, if successful, means to pour in a vast many thousands on us, and has threatened to burn the capital itself, Jersey, my dear Madam, does not enter into a calculation of such magnitude. The moment is singularly awful; yet the vaunts of enemies are rarely executed successfully and ably. Have we trampled America under our foot?

You have too good sense, Madam, to be imposed upon by my arguments, if they are insubstantial. You do know that I have had my terrors for Mr. Conway; but at present they are out of the question, from the insignificance of his island. DO not listen to rumours, nor believe a single one till it has been canvassed over and over. Fear, folly, fifty Motives, Will coin new reports every hour at such a conjuncture. When one is totally void of credit and power, patience is the only wisdom. I have seen dangers still more imminent. They were dispersed. Nothing happens in proportion to what is meditated. Fortune, whatever fortune is, is more constant than is the common notion. I do not give this as one of my solid arguments, but I have encouraged myself in being superstitious on the favourable side. I never, like most superstitious people, believe auguries against my wishes. We have been fortunate in the escape of Mrs. Damer, and in the defeat at Jersey even before Mr. Conway arrived-, and thence I depend on the same future prosperity. From the authority of persons who do not reason on such airy hopes, I am seriously persuaded, that if the fleets engage, the enemy will not gain advantage without deep-felt loss, enough probably to dismay their invasion. Coolness may succeed, and then negotiation. Surely, if we, can weather the summer, we shall, obstinate as we are against conviction, be compelled by the want of money to relinquish our ridiculous pretensions, now proved to be utterly impracticable; for, with an inferior navy at home, can we assert sovereignty over America? It is a contradiction in, terms and in fact. It may be hard of digestion to relinquish it, but it is impossible to pursue it. Adieu, my dear Madam! I have not left room for a line more.

(366) The packet in which she was crossing from Dover to Ostend was taken by a French frigate, after a running fight of several hours.

Letter 180 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. Strawberry Hill, Sept. 13, 1779. (page 234)

I am writing to you at random; not knowing whether or when this letter will go: but your brother told me last night that an officer, whose name I have forgot, was arrived from Jersey, and would return to you soon. I am sensible how very seldom I have written to you-but you have been few moments out of my thoughts. What they have been, you who know me so minutely may well guess, and why they do not pass my lips. Sense, experience, circumstances, can teach One to command one's self. outwardly, but do not divest a most friendly heart of its feelings. I believe the state of my Mind has contributed to bring on a very weak and decaying body my present disorders. I have not been well the whole summer; but for these three weeks much otherwise. It has at last ended in the gout, which to all appearance will be a short fit.

On public affairs I cannot speak. Every thing is so exaggerated on all sides, that what grains of truth remain in the sieve would appear cold and insipid; and the great manoeuvres you learn as soon as I. In the naval battle between Byron and D'Estaing, our captains were worthy of any age in our story.

You may imagine how happy I am at Mrs. Damer's return, and at her not being at Naples, as she was likely to have been, at the dreadful explosion of Vesuvius.(367) Surely it will have glutted Sir William's rage for volcanoes! How poor Lady Hamilton's nerves stood it I do not conceive. Oh, mankind! mankind! Are there not calamities enough in store for us, but must destruction be our amusement and pursuit?

I send this to Ditton,(368) where it may wait some days; but I would not suffer a sure opportunity to slip without a line. You are more obliged to me for all I do not say, than for whatever eloquence itself could pen.

P. S. I unseal my letter to add, that undoubtedly you will come to the Meeting of Parliament, which will be in October. Nothing can or ever did make me advise you to take a step unworthy of yourself. But surely you have higher and more sacred duties than the government of a mole-hill!

(367) On the 10th of August when the eruption was so great, that several villages were destroyed; a hunting seat belonging to the King of Naples, called Caccia Bella, shared the like fate.-E.

(368) Where Lord Hertford had then a villa.

Letter 181 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Berkeley Square, Nov. 16, 1779. (page 235)

You ought not to accuse yourself only, when I have been as silent as you. Surely we have been friends too long to admit ceremony as a go-between. I have thought of writing to you several times, but found I had nothing worth telling you. I am rejoiced to hear your health has been better: mine has been worse the whole summer and autumn than ever it was without any positive distemper, and thence I conclude it is a failure in my constitution-of which, being a thing of course, we will say no more-nobody but a physician is bound to hear what he cannot cure-and if we will pay for what we cannot expect, it is our own fault.

I have seen Doctor Lort, who seems pleased with becoming a limb of Canterbury. I heartily wish the mitre may not devolve before it has beamed substantially on him. In the meantime he will be delighted with ransacking the library at Lambeth; and, to do him justice, his ardour is literary, not interested.

I am much obliged to you, dear Sir, for taking the trouble of transcribing Mr. Tyson's Journal, which is entertaining. But I am so Ignorant as not to know where Hatfield Priory is. The three heads I remember on the gate at Whitehall; there were five more. The whole demolished structure was transported to the great Park at Windsor, by the late Duke of Cumberland, who intended to re-edify it, but never did; and now I suppose

Its ruins ruined, as its Place no more.

I did not know what was become of the heads, and am glad any are preserved. I should doubt their being the works of Torregiano. Pray who is Mr. Nichols, who has published the Alien Priories; there are half a dozen or more pretty views of French cathedrals. I cannot say that I found any thing else in the book that amused me-but as you deal more in ancient lore than I do, perhaps you might be better pleased.

I am told there is a new History of Gloucestershire, very large, but ill executed, by one Rudder(369)—still I have sent for it, for Gloucestershire is a very historic country.

It was a wrong scent on which I employed you. The arms I have impaled were certainly not Boleyn's. You lament removal of friends -alas! dear Sir, when one lives to our age, one feels that in a higher degree than from their change of place! but one must not dilate those common moralities. You see by my date I have changed place myself. I am got into an excellent, comfortable, cheerful house; and as, from necessity and inclination, I live much more at home than I used to do, it is very agreeable to be so pleasantly lodged, and to be in a warm inn as one passes through the last Vale. Adieu! Yours ever.

(369) "The History and Antiquities of Gloucestershire; comprising the Topography, Antiquities, Curiosities, Produce, Trade, and Manufactures of that County:" by Samuel Rudder, printer, Cirencester, folio.-E.

Letter 182 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Berkeley Square, Dec. 1779. (page 236)

I have two good reasons against writing: nothing to say and a lame muffled hand; and therefore I choose to write to you, for it shows remembrance. For these six weeks almost I have been a prisoner with the gout, but begin to creep about my room. How have you borne the late deluge and the present frost? How do you like an earl-bishop?(370) Had not we one before in ancient days? I have not a book in town; but was not there Anthony Beck, or a Hubert de Burgh, that was Bishop of Durham and Earl of Kent, or have I confounded them?

Have you seen Rudder's new History of Gloucestershire? His additions to Sir Robert Atkyns make it the most sensible history of a county that we have had yet; for his descriptions of the scite, soil, products, and prospects of each parish are extremely good and picturesque; and he treats fanciful prejudices, and Saxon etymologies, when unfounded, and traditions, with due contempt.

I will not spin this note any further, but shall be glad of a line to tell me you are well. I have not seen Mr. Lort since he roosted under the metropolitan Wings of his grace of Lambeth. Yours ever.

(370) The Hon. and Rev, Frederick Hervey, bishop of Derry, had just succeeded to the earldom of Bristol, as fifth Earl, by the death of his brother. Hardy, in his memoirs of Lord Charlemont gives the following account of this singular man:—"His family was famous for talents, equally so for eccentricity; and the eccentricity of the whole race shone out and seemed to be concentrated in him. In one respect he was not unlike Villiers Duke of Buckingham, 'every thing by starts, and nothing long!' Generous, but uncertain; splendid, but fantastical; an admirer of the fine arts, without any just selection: engaging, often licentious in conversation- extremely polite, extremely violent. His distribution of church livings, chiefly, as I have been informed, among the older and respectable clergy in his own diocese, must always be mentioned with that warm approbation which it is justly entitled to. His progress from his diocese to the metropolis, and his entrance into it, were perfectly correspondent to the rest of his conduct. Through every town on the road, he seemed to court, and was received with, all warlike honours; and I remember seeing him pass by the Parliament-house in Dublin (Lords and Commons were then both sitting), escorted by a body of dragoons, full of spirits and talk, apparently enjoying the eager gaze of the surrounding multitude, and displaying altogether the self-complacency of a favourite marshal of France on his way to Versailles, rather than the grave deportment of a prelate of the Church of England." He died in 1803.-E.

Letter 183 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Berkeley Square, Jan. 5, 1780. (page 237)

When you said that you feared that your particular account of your very providential escape would deter me from writing to you again, I am sure, dear Sir, that you spoke only from modesty, and not from thinking me capable of being so criminally indifferent to any thing, much less under such danger as you have run, that regards so old a friend, and one to whom I owe so many obligations. I am but too apt to write letters on trifling or no occasion's: and should certainly have told you the interest I take in your accident, and how happy I am that it had no consequences of any sort. It is hard that temperance itself, which you are, should be punished for a good-natured transgression of your own rules, and where the excess was only staying out beyond your usual hour. I am heartily glad you did not jump out of your chaise; it has often been a much worse precaution than any consequences from risking to remain in it; as you are lame too, might have been very fatal. Thank God! all ended so well. Mr. Masters seems to have been more frightened, with not greater reason. What an absurd man to be impatient to notify a disagreeable event to you, and in so boisterous a manner, and which he could not know was true, since it was not!

I shall take extremely kind your sending me your picture in glass. I have carefully preserved the slight outline of yourself in a gown and nightcap, which you once was' so good as to give me, because there was some likeness to your features. though it is too old even now. For a portrait of me in return you might have it by sending the painter to the anatomical school, and bidding him draw the first skeleton he sees. I should expect any limner would laugh in my face if I offered it to him to be copied.

I thought I had confounded the ancient count-bishops, as I had, and YOU have set me right. The new temporal-ecclesiastical peers estate is more than twelve thousand a Year, though I can scarce believe it is eighteen, as the last lord said.

The picture found near the altar in Westminster-Abbey, about three years ago, was of King Sebert; I saw it, and it was well preserved, with some others worse—but they have foolishly buried it again behind their new altar-piece; and so they have a very fine tomb of Ann of Cleve, close to the altar, which they did not know till I told them whose it was, though her arms are upon it, and though there is an exact plate of it in Sandford. They might at least have cut out the portraits, and removed them to a conspicuous situation; but though this age is grown so antiquarian, it has not gained a grain more of sense in that walk—witness as you instance in Mr. Grose's Legends, and in the dean and chapter reburying the crown, robes, and sceptre of Edward I.—there would surely have been as much piety in preserving them in their treasury, as in consigning them again to decay. I did not know that the salvation of robes and crowns depended on receiving Christian burial. At the same time, the chapter transgress that prince's will, like all their antecessors; for he ordered his tomb to be opened every year or two years, and receive a new cerecloth or pall; but they boast now of having enclosed him so substantially that his ashes cannot be violated again.

It was the present Bishop Dean who showed me the pictures and Ann's tomb, and consulted me on the new altar-piece. I advised him to have a light octangular canopy, like the cross at Chichester, placed over the table or altar itself, which would have given dignity to it, especially if elevated by a flight of steps; and from the side arches of the octacon, I would have had a semicircle of open arches that should have advanced quite to the seats of the prebends, which would have discovered the pictures; and through the octagon itself you would have perceived the shrine of Edward the Confessor, which is much higher than the level of the choir—but men who ask advice seldom follow it, if you do not happen to light on the same ideas with themselves.

P. S. The Houghton pictures are not lost-but to Houghton and England!(371)

(371) They had been sold to the Empress of Russia in the preceding September, and immediately transferred to that country.-E.

Letter 184 To Robert Jephson, Esq.(372) Berkeley Square, January 25, 1780. (page 238)

It was but yesterday, Sir, that I received the favour of your letter, and this morning I sent, according to your permission, to Mr. Sheridan the elder, to desire the manuscript of your tragedy;(373) for as I am but just recovering of a fit of the gout, which I had severely for above two months, I was not able to bear the fatigue of company at home; nor could I have had the pleasure of attending to the piece so much as I wished to do, if I had invited ladies to hear it, to whom I must have been doing the honours.

I have read your play once, Sir, rapidly, though alone, and therefore cannot be very particular on the details; but I can say already, with great truth, that you have made a great deal more than I thought possible out of the skeleton of a story.; and have arranged it so artfully, that unless I am deceived by being too familiar with it, it will be -very intelligible to the audience, even if they have not read the original fable; and you have had the address to make it coherent, without the marvellous, though so much depended on that part. In short, you have put my extravagant materials in an alembic, and drawn off only what was rational.

Your diction is very beautiful, often poetic, and yet what I admire, very simple and natural; and when necessary, rapid, concise, and sublime.

If I did not distrust my own self-love, I should say that I think it must be a very interesting piece: and yet I might say so without vanity, so much of the disposition of the scenes is your own. I do not yet know, Sir, what alterations you propose to make; nor do I perceive where the second and fourth acts want amendment. The first in your manuscript is imperfect. If I wished for any correction, it would be to shorten the scene in the fourth act between the Countess, Adelaide, and Austin, which rather delays the impatience of the audience for the catastrophe, and does not contribute to it, but by the mother's orders to the daughter at the end of the scene to repair to the great church. In the last scene I should wish to have Theordore fall into a transport of rage and despair immediately on the death of Adelaide, and be carried off by Austin's orders; for I doubt the interval is too long for him to faint after Narbonne's speech. The fainting, fit, I think, might be better applied to the Countess; it does not seem requisite that she should die, but the audience might be left in suspense about her.

My last observations will be very trifling indeed, Sir; but I think you use nobleness, niceness, etc. too often, which I doubt are not classic terminations for nobility, nicety, etc. though I allow that nobility will not always express nobleness. My children's timeless deaths can scarce be said for untimely; nor should I choose to employ children's as a plural genitive case, which I think the s at the end cannot imply. "Hearted preference" is very bold for preference taken to heart. Raymond, in the last scene says—

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