648) Lord Edgecumbe.
(649) Second daughter of Charles second Duke of Marlborough.-E.
298 Letter 166 To Sir Horace Mann. Arlington Street, Dec. 12, 1755.
I am glad, my dear Sir, that you have not wasted many alarms on the invasion; it does not seem to have been ever intended by the French. Our ministers, who are not apt to have any intelligence, have now only had bad: they spread that idea; it took for some days, but is vanished. I believe we tremble more really for Hanover: I can't say I do; for while we have that to tremble for, we shall always be to tremble. Great expectations of a peace prevail; as it is not likely to be good, it is not a season for venturing a bad one. The opposition, though not numerous, is now composed of very determined and very great men; more united than the ministry, and at least as able. the resistance to the treaties has been made with immense capacity: Mr. Pitt has shone beyond the greatest horizon of his former lustre. The Holidays are arrived, and now the changes are making; but many of the recruits, old deserters, old cashiered, old fagots, add very little credit to the new coalition. The Duke of Newcastle and his coadjutor Mr. Fox squabble twice for agreeing once: as I wish so well to the latter, I lament what he must wade through to real power, if ever he should arrive there. Underneath I shall catalogue the alterations, with an additional letter to each name, to particularize the corps to which each belongs.
Sir George Lyttelton, N. chancellor of the exchequer, in the room of Mr. Legge, dismissed.
Duke of Leeds, N. Cofferer, in the room of Sir George Lyttelton,
Mr. T. Brudenell N., Deputy. in the room of mr. Clare.
Mr. Doddington, F. Treasurer of the Navy, in the room of Sir G. Grenville, dismissed.
Lords Darlington N. and Duplin N. Joint Paymasters, in the room of mr. Pitt, dismissed
Duke of Marlborough, F. Master of the Ordnance. Long Vacant.
Earl Gower, F., Lord Privy Seal, in the room of the duke of Marlborough.
Lord Gage, N., Paymaster of Pensions, in the room of Mr. Compton, dead,
Mr. Obrien, N. and mr. Henry Furnese, Lords of the Treasury, in the room of Lord Darlington and Lord Duplin.
Lord Bateman, F., and Mr. Edgcumbe, F. Lords of the Admiralty, in the room of mr. C. Townshend, dismissed and Mr. Ellis.
Judge Talbot Mr. S. Jennings, N. and mr. Rigby, F., Lords of Trade, in the room of Mr. J. Grenville, resigned, Mr. T. Pitt, dismissed, and Mr. Edgcumbe.
mr. Arundel, N., Pension on Ireland.
Lord Hilsborough, F. Treasurer of Chambers, in the room of mr. Arundel.
Lord Hobart, N., Comptroller of the Household, in the room of Lord Hilsborough.
George Selwyn, F., Paymaster of the Board of works, in the room of Mr. Denzil Onslow.
Lord cholmondeley, who had had half before to divide Vice- Treasurer of Ireland with Lord Sandwich, F., and Mr. Ellis, F. in the room of Sir w. Yonge, deceased.
Lord Berkeley of Stratton, F., Treasurer of the Household, in the room of Lord Fitzwalter, dying.
Lord Sandys, N., Chief Justice in eyre, in the room of the duke of Leeds.
As numerous as these changes are, they are not so extraordinary as the number of times that each designation has been changed. The four last have not yet kissed hands, so I do not give you them for certain. You will smile at seeing Doddington again revolved to the court, and Lord Sandys and Harry Furnese, two of the most ridiculous objects in the succession to my father's ministry, again dragged out upon the stage: perhaps it may not give you too high an idea of the stability or dignity of the new arrangement; but as the Duke of Newcastle has so often turned in and out all men in England, he must employ some Of The same dukes over again. In short, I don't know whether all this will make your ministerial gravity smile, but it makes me laugh out. Adieu!
P. S. I must mention the case of my Lord Fitzwalter,(650) which all the faculty say exceeds any thing known in their practice: he is past eighty-four, was an old beau, and had scarce ever more sense than he has at present; he has lived many months upon fourteen barrels of oysters, four-and-twenty bottles of port, and some, I think seven, bottles of brandy per week. What will Dr. Cocchi, with his Vitto Pittagorico, say to this?
(650) Charles Mildmay, Earl Fitzwalter, so created May 14, 1730. He died without issue, Feb. 29, 1756, when his earldom became extinct; and the old barony of Fitzwalter fell into abeyance among females.-D.
299 Letter 167 To George Montagu, Esq. Arlington Street, Dec. 30, 1755.
As I know how much you are my friend and take part in my joy, I cannot help communicating to you an incident that has given much pleasure. You know how much I love Mr. Mann-well, I don't enter into that, nor into a detail of many hardships that he has suffered lately, which made me still more eager to serve him. As some regiments have been just given away, I cast my eyes about to see if I could not help him to clothing. Among the rest, there was one new colonel,(651) whom I could not assume enough to call my friend, but who is much connected with one that is so. As the time passed, I did not stay to go round about, but addressed myself directly to the person himself—but I was disappointed; the disaster was, that he had left his quarters and was come to town. Though I immediately gave it up in my own mind, knew how incessantly he would be pressed from much more powerful quarters, concluded he would be engaged, I wrote again; that letter was as useless as the first, and from what reason do you think? Why this person, in spite of all solicitations, nay previous to any, had already thought of Mr. Mann, and recollected it would oblige me and my friend in the country, and had actually given his clothing to Mr. Mann, before he received either of my letters. Judge how agreeably I have been surprised, and how much the manner has added to my obligation! You will be still more pleased when you hear the character of this officer, which I tell you willingly, because I know you country gentlemen are apt to contract prejudices, and to fancy that no virtues grow out of your own shire; yet by this one sample, you will find them connected with several circumstances that are apt to nip their growth. He is of as good a family as any in England, yet in this whole transaction he has treated me with as much humility is if I was of as good a family and as if I had obliged him, not he me. In the next place, I have no power to oblige him; then, though he is young and in the army, he is as good, as temperate, as meek, as if he was a curate on preferment; and yet with all these meek virtues, nobody has distinguished themselves by more personal bravery-and what is still more to his praise, though he has so greatly established his courage, he is as regular in his duty, and submits as patiently to all the tedious exiles and fatigues of it, as if he had no merit at all; but I will say no more, lest you imagine that the present warmth of my gratitude makes me exaggerate. No, you will not, when you know that all I have said relates to your own brother, Colonel Charles Montagu. I did not think he could have added still to my satisfaction; but he has, by giving me hopes Of seeing you in town next week-till then, adieu! Yours as entirely as is consistent with my devotedness to your brother.
(651) Colonel Charles Montagu, this day appointed to the command of the 59th regiment of foot.-E.
300 Letter 168 To Richard Bentley, Esq. Strawberry Hill, Jan. 6, 1756.
I am quite angry with you: you write me letters so entertaining that they make me almost forgive your not drawing: now, you know, next to being disagreeable, there is nothing so shocking as being too agreeable. However, as I am a true philosopher, and can resist any thing I like better, I declare, that if you don't coin the vast ingot of colours and cloth that I have sent you, I will burn your letters unopened.
Thank you for all your concern about my gout, but I shall not mind you; it shall appear in my stomach before I attempt to keep it out of it by a fortification of wine: I only drank a little two days after being very much fatigued in the House, and the worthy pioneer began to cry succour from my foot the next day. However, though I am determined to feel young still, I grow to take the hints age gives me; I come hither oftener, I leave the town to the young; and though the busy turn that the world has taken draws me back into it, I excuse it to myself, and call it retiring into politics. From hence I must retire, or I shall be drowned; my cellars are four feet under water, the Thames gives itself Rhone airs, and the meadows are more flooded than when you first saw this place and thought it so dreary. We seem to have taken out our earthquake in rain: since the third week in June, there have not been five days together of dry weather. They tell us that at Colnbrook and Stains they are forced to live in the first floor. Mr. Chute is at the Vine, but I don't expect to hear from him: no post but a dove can get from thence. Every post brings new earthquakes; they have felt them in France, Sweden, and Germany: what a convulsion there has been in nature! Sir Isaac Newton, somewhere in his works, has this beautiful expression, "The globe will want manum emendatricem."
I have been here this week with only Mr. Muntz; from whence you may conclude I have been employed—Memoirs thrive apace. He seems to wonder (for he has not a little of your indolence, I am not surprised you took to him) that I am continually occupied every minute of the day, reading, writing, forming plans: in short, you know me. He is an inoffensive, good creature, but had rather ponder over a foreign gazette than a pallet.
I expect to find George Montagu in town to-morrow: his brother has at last got a regiment. Not content with having deserved it, before he got it, by distinguished bravery and indefatigable duty, he persists in meriting it still. He immediately, unasked, gave the chaplainship (which others always sell advantageously) to his brother's parson at Greatworth. I am almost afraid it will make my commendation of this really handsome action look interested, when I add, that he has obliged me in the same way by making Mr. Mann his clothier, before I had time to apply for it. Adieu! I find no news in town.
302 Letter 169 To The Hon. H. S. Conway.(652) Arlington Street, Jan. 22, 1756.
As my Lady Ailesbury is so taken up with turnpike-hills, Popish recusants, and Irish politics, and you are the only idle person in the family (for Missy I find is engaged too), I must return to correspond with you. But my letters will not be quite so lively as they have been: the Opposition, like schoolboys, don't know how to settle to their books again after the holidays. We have not had a division: nay, not a debate. Those that like it, are amusing themselves with the Appleby election. Now and then we draggle on a little militia. The recess has not produced even a pamphlet. In short, there are none but great outlines of politics: a memorial in French Billingsgate has been transmitted hither which has been answered very laconically. More agreeable is the guarantee signed with Prussia: M. Michel(653) is as fashionable as ever General Wall was. The Duke of Cumberland has kept his bed with a sore leg, but is better. Oh! I forgot, Sir Harry Erskine is dismissed from the army, and if you will suffer so low a pun, as upon his face, is a rubric martyr for his country: bad as it Is, this is the best bon-mot I have to send you: Ireland, which one did not suspect, is become the staple of wit, and, I find, coins bons-mots for our greatest men. I might not send you Mr. Fox's repartee, for I never heard it, nor has any body here: as you have, pray send it me. Charles Townshend t'other night hearing somebody say, that my Lady Falmouth, who had a great many diamonds on, had a Very fine stomach, replied, "By God! my lord has a better." You will be entertained with the riot Charles makes in the sober house of Argyle: t'other night, on the Duchess's bawling to my Lady Suffolk,(654) he in the very same tone cried out, "Large stewing Oysters!" When he takes such liberties with his new parent, you may judge how little decency he observes with his wife: last week at dinner at Lord Strafford's, on my Lady Dalkeith's mentioning some dish that she loved, he replied before all the servants, "Yes, my Lady Dalkeith, you love it better than any thing but one!"
We were to have had a masquerade to-night, but the Bishops, who you know have always persisted in God's hating dominos, have made an earthquake point of it, and postponed it till after the fast.
Your brother has got a sixth infanta; at the christening night, Mr. Trail had got through two prayers before any body found out that the child was not brought down stairs. You see pauvret'e how little I have to say. Do accept the enclosed World(655) in part of payment for the remainder of a letter. I must conclude with telling you, that though I know her but little, I admire my Lady Kildare as much as you do. She has writ volumes to Lady Caroline Fox in praise of you and your Countess: you are a good soul! I can't say so much for lady Ailesbury. As to Missy, I am afraid I must resign my claim: I never was very proper to contest with an Hibernian hero; and I don't know how, but I think my merit does not improve. Adieu!
(652) Now first printed.
(653) The Prussian charg'e d'affaires.
(654) The Countess of Suffolk was very deaf.-E.
(655) No.160. On attacks upon Licentiousness.—Story of Sir Eustace Drawbridge-court; written by Walpole.
303 Letter 170 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. Arlington Street, Jan. 24, 1756.
Oh sir, I shall take care how I ever ask favours of you again! It was with great reluctance that I brought myself to ask this: you took no notice of my request; and I flattered myself that I was punished for having applied to you so much against my inclination. Just as I grew confirmed in the pride of being mortified, I hear that you have outgone my application, and in the kindest manner in the world have given the young man a pair of colours. It would have been unpleasant enough to be refused; but to obtain more than one asked is the most provoking thing in the world! I was prepared to be very grateful if you had done just what I desired; but I declare I have no thanks ready for a work of supererogation. If there ever was a spirit that went to heaven for mere gratitude, which I am persuaded is a much more uncommon qualification than martyrdom, I must draw upon his hoard of merit to acquit myself. You will at least get thus much by this charming manner of obliging me: I look upon myself as double obliged; and when it cost me so much to ask one favour, and I find myself in debt for two, I shall scarce run in tick for a third.
What adds to my vexation is, that I wrote to you but the night before last. Unless I could return your kindness with equal grace, it would be not very decent to imitate you by beginning to take no notice of it; and therefore you must away with this letter upon the back of the former.
We had yesterday some history in the House - Beckford produced an accusation in form against Admiral Knowles on his way to an impeachment. Governor Verres was a puny culprit in comparison! Jamaica indeed has not quite so many costly temples and ivory statues, etc. as Sicily had: but what Knowles could not or had not a propensity to commit in rapine and petty larceny, he has made up in tyranny. The papers are granted, and we are all going to turn jurymen. The rest of the day was spent in a kind of avoirdupois war. Your friend Sir George Lyttelton opened the budget; well enough in general, but was strangely bewildered in the figures; he stumbled over millions, and dwelt pompously upon farthings. Pitt attacked him pretty warmly on mortgaging the sinking fund; Sir George kept up his spirit, and returned the attack on his eloquence: it was entertaining enough, but ended in high compliments; and the division was 231 to 5(;.
Your friend Lady Petersham, not to let the town quite lapse into politics, has entertained it with a new scene. She was t'other night at the play with her court; viz. Miss Ashe, Lord Barnard, M. St. Simon, and her favourite footman Richard, whom, under pretence of keeping places, she always keeps in her box the whole time to see the play at his ease. Mr. Stanley, Colonel Vernon, and Mr. Vaughan arrived at the very end of the farce, and could find no room, but a row and a half in Lady Caroline's box. Richard denied them entrance very impertinently. Mr. Stanley took him by the hair of his head, dragged him into the passage, and thrashed him. The heroine was outrageous—the heroes not at all so.(656) She sent Richard to Fielding for a warrant. He would not grant it—and so it ended—And so must I, for here is company. Adieu!
My letter would have been much cleverer, but George Montagu has been chattering by me the whole time, and insists on my making you his compliments.
(656) Lady Hervey, in a letter of the 23d of March, thus alludes to this story:—"This is the time of year you used to come to town. Come and hear a little what is going forward: you will be alarmed with invasions which are never intended; you will hear of ladies of quality who uphold footmen insulting gentlemen; nay, you will hear of ladies who steal not only hearts, but gold boxes."-E.
304 Letter 171 To Sir Horace Mann. Arlington Street, Jan. 25, 1756.
I am troubled to think what anxiety you have undergone! yet your brother Gal. assures me that he has never missed writing one week since he began to be ill. Indeed, had I in the least foreseen that his disorder would have lasted a quarter of the time it has, I should have given you an account of it; but the distance between us is so great, that I could not endure to make you begin to be uneasy, when, in all probability, the cause would be removed before my letter reached You. This tenderness for you has deceived me: your brother, as his complaint is of the asthmatic kind, has continued all the time at Richmond. Our attendance in Parliament has been so unrelaxed, the weather has been so bad, and the roads so impracticable by astonishing and continued deluges of rain, that, as I heard from him constantly three or four times a week, and saw your brother James, who went to him every week, I went to see him but twice; and the last time, about a fortnight ago, I thought him extremely mended: he wrote me two very comfortable notes this week of his mending, and this morning Mr. Chute and I went to see him, and to scold him for not having writ oftener to you, which he protests he has done constantly. I cannot flatter you, my dear child, as much as to say I think him mended; his shortness of breath continues to be very uneasy to him, and his long confinement has wasted him a good deal. I fear his case is more consumptive than asthmatic; he begins a course of quicksilver to-morrow for the obstruction in his breast. I shall go out to him again the day after to-morrow, and pray as fervently as you yourself do, my dear Sir, for his recovery. You have not more obligations to him, nor adore him more than I do. As my tenderness and friendship is so strong for you both, you may depend on hearing from me constantly; but a declining constitution, you know, will not admit of a very rapid recovery. Though he is fallen away, he looks well in the face, and his eyes are very lively: the weather is very warm, he wants no advice, and I assure YOU no solicitude for his health; no man ever was so beloved, and so deservingly! Besides Dr. Baker, the physician of Richmond, who is so much esteemed, he has consulted Dr. Pringle, who is in the first repute, and who is strongly for the quicksilver. I enter Into these particulars, because, when one is anxious, one loves to know the most minute. Nothing is capable of making me so happy, as being able soon to send you a better account.
Our politics wear a serener face than they have done of late: you will have heard that our nephew of Prussia-I was going to say, has asked blessing—begging our dignity's pardon, I fear he has given blessing! In short, he guarantees the empire with us from all foreign troops. It is pleasant to think, that at least we shall be to fight for ourselves. Fight we must, France says: but when she said so last, she knew nothing of our cordiality with the court of Berlin. Monsieur Rouill'e very lately wrote to Mr. Fox, by way of Monsieur Bonac in Holland, to say his master ordered the accompanying M'emoire to be transmitted to his Britannic Majesty in person; it is addressed to nobody, but after professing great disposition to peace, and complaining in harsh terms of our brigandages and pirateries, it says, that if we will restore their ships, goods, etc. they shall then be ready to treat. We have returned a squab answer, retorting the infraction of treaties, professing a desire of peace too, but declare we cannot determine upon restitution comme pr'eliminaire. If we do not, the M'emoire says, they shall look upon it comme declaration de guerre la plus authentique. Yet, in my own opinion, they will not declare it; especially since the King of Prussia has been Russianed out of their alliance. They will probably attempt some stroke; I think not succeed in it, and then lie by for an opportunity when they shall be stronger. They can only go to Holland, attempt these islands, or some great coup in America.(657) Holland they may swallow when they will; yet, why should they, when we don't attempt to hinder them? and it would be madness if -we did. For coming hither, our fleet is superior say, but equal: our army and preparations greater than ever—if an invasion were still easy, should we be yet to conquer, when we have been so long much more exposed? In America we arc much stronger than they, and have still more chances of preventing their performing any action of consequence.
The opposition is nibbling, but is not popular, nor have Yet got hold of any clue of consequence. There is not the vivacity that broke forth before the holidays.
I condole with you for Madame Antinori,(658) and Madame Grifoni; but I know, my dear child, how much too seriously your mind will be occupied about your dear brother, to think that romantic grief will any longer disquiet you. Pray Heaven! I may send you better and better news. Adieu!
P. S. I forgot to thank you for your history of the war with Lucca in your last but one.
(657) "A formal declaration of war from France," writes Lord Chesterfield to Mr. Dayrolles on the 23d, "seems to be the natural consequence of Rouill'e's memorial. I am not so fond of war as I find many people are. Mark the end on 't. Our treaty lately concluded with Russia is a fortunate event, and secures the peace of the empire; and is it possible that France can invade the Low Countries, which are the dominions of the Empress Queen, only because Admiral Boscawen has taken two of their ships in America? I see but two places where France can annoy us; in America, by slipping over in single ships a considerable number of troops, and next by keeping us in a state of fear and expense at home, with the threats and appearances of an intended invasion."-E.
(658) A Florentine lady, whom Sir Horace admired, and who was just dead: she was sister of Madame Grifoni.
306 Letter 172 To Sir Horace Mann. Arlington Street, Feb. 5, 1756.
I think I can give you a little better account of your brother, who is so dear to both of us; I put myself on a foot with you, for nothing can love him better than I do. I have been a week at Strawberry Hill. in order to watch and see him every day. The Duke's physician, Dr. Pringle, who now attends him, has certainly relieved him much: his cough is in a manner gone, his fever much abated, his breath better. His strength is not yet increased; and his stitches, which they impute to wind, are not relieved. But both his physicians swear that his lungs are not touched. His worst symptom is what they cannot, but I must and will remove: in short, his wife is killing him, I can scarce say slowly. Her temper is beyond imagination, her avarice monstrous, her madness about what she calls cleanliness, to a degree of distraction; if I had not first, and then made your brother Ned interpose in form, she would once or twice a week have the very closet washed in which your brother sleeps after dinner. It is certainly very impertinent to interfere in so delicate a case, but your brother's life makes me blind to every consideration: in short, we have made Dr. Pringle declare that the moment the weather is a little warmer, and he can be moved, change of air is absolutely necessary, and I am to take him to Strawberry Hill, where you may imagine he will neither be teased nor neglected: the physicians are strong for his going abroad, but I find that it will be a very difficult point to carry even with himself. His affairs are so extensive, that as yet he will not hear of leaving them. Then the exclusion of correspondence by the war with France would be another great objection with him to going thither; and to send him to Naples by sea, if we could persuade him would hardly be advisable in the heat of such hostilities. I think by this account you will judge perfectly of your brother's situation: you may depend upon it, it is not desperate, and yet it is what makes me very unhappy. Dr. Pringle says, that in his life he never knew a person for whom so many people were concerned. I go to him again to-morrow.
The war is reckoned inevitable, nay begun, though France does not proceed to a formal declaration, but contents herself with Monsieur Rouill'e's conditional declaration. All intercourse is stopped. We, who two months ago were in terrors about a war on the continent, are now more frightened about having it at home. Hessians and Dutch are said to be, and, I believe, are sent for. I have known the time when we were much less prepared and much less alarmed. Lord Ravensworth moved yesterday to send par pr'eference for Hanoverians, but nobody seconded him. The opposition cavil, but are not strong enough to be said to oppose. This is exactly our situation.
I must beg, my dear sir, that you will do a little for my sake, what I know and hear you have already done from natural goodness. Mr. Dick, the consul at Leghorn, is particularly attached to my old and great friend Lady Harry Beauclerc, whom you have often heard me mention; she was Miss Lovelace: it will please me vastly if you will throw in a few civilities more at my request.
Adieu! Pray for your brother: I need not say talk him over and over with Dr. Cocchl, and hope the best of the war.
307 Letter 173 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. Arlington Street, Feb. 12, 1756.
I will not write to my Lady Ailesbury to-night, nor pretend to answer the prettiest letter in the world, when I am out of spirits. I am very unhappy about poor Mr. Mann, who I fear is in a deep consumption: the doctors do not give him over, and the symptoms are certainly a little mended this week; but you know how fallacious that distemper is, and how unwise it would be to trust to it! As he is at Richmond, I pass a great deal of my time out of town to be near him, and so may have missed some news; but I will tell you all I know.
The House of Commons is dwindled into a very dialogue between Pitt and Fox-one even begins to want Admiral Vernon again for variety. Sometimes it is a little piquant; in which though Pitt has attacked, Fox has generally had the better. These three or four last days we have been solely upon the Pennsylvanian regiment, bickering, and but once dividing, 165 to 57. We are got but past the first reading yet. We want the French to put a little vivacity into us. The Duke of Newcastle has expected them every hour: he was terribly alarmed t'other night; on his table he found a mysterious card with only these words, "Charles is very well, and is expected in England every day." It was plainly some secret friend that advertised him of the pretender's approaching arrival. He called up all the servants, ransacked the whole house to know who had been in his dressing-room:-at last it came out to be an answer from the Duchess of Queensberry to the Duchess of Newcastle about Lord Charles Douglas. Don't it put you in mind of my Lord Treasurer Portland in Clarendon, "Remember Caesar"!
The French have promised letters of noblesse to whoever fits out even a little privateer. I could not help a melancholy smile when my Lady Ailesbury talked of coming over soon. I fear major-general you will scarce be permitted to return to your plough at Park-place, when we grudge every man that is left at the plough. Between the French and the earthquakes, you have no notion how good we are grown; nobody makes a suit of clothes now but of sackcloth turned up with ashes. The fast was kept so devoutly, that Dick Edgecumbe, finding a very lean hazard at White's, said with a sigh, "Lord, how the times are degenerated! Formerly a fast would have brought every body hither; now it keeps every body away!" A few nights before, two men walking up the Strand, one said to t'other, "Look how red the sky is! Well, thank God! there is to be no masquerade!"
My Lord Ashburnham(659) does not keep a fast; he is going to marry one of the plump Crawleys:—they call him the noble lord upon the woolsack.
The Duchess of Norfolk has opened her new house: all the earth was there last Tuesday. You would have thought there had been a comet, every body was gaping in the air and treading on one another's toes. In short, you never saw such a scene of magnificence and taste. The tapestry, the embroidered bed, the illumination, the glasses, the lightness and novelty of the ornaments, and the ceilings, are delightful. She gives three Tuesdays, would you be at one! Somebody asked my Lord Rockingham afterwards at White's, what was there'! He said, , "Oh! there was all the company afraid of the Duchess, and the Duke afraid of all the company."—It was not a bad picture.
My Lady Ailesbury flatters me extremely about my "World," but it has brought me into a peck of troubles. In short, the good-natured town have been pleased to lend me a meaning, and call my Lord Bute Sir Eustace. I need not say how ill the story tallies to what they apply it; but I do vow to you, that so far from once entering into my imagination, my only apprehension was that I should be suspected of flattery for the compliment to the Princess in a former part. It is the more cruel, because you know it is just the thing in the world on which one must not defend one's self. If I might, I can prove that the paper was writ last Easter, long before this history was ever mentioned, and flung by, because I did not like it: I mentioned it one night to my Lady Hervey, which was the occasion of its being printed.
I beg you will tell my Lady Ailesbury, that I am sorry she could not discover any wit in Mrs. Hussey's making a sept-leva. I know I never was so vain of any wit in my life as winning a thousand leva and two five hundred levas.
You would laugh if you saw in the midst of what trumpery I am writing. Two porters have just brought home my purchases from Mrs. Kennon the midwife's sale: Brobdignag combs, old broken pots, pans, and pipkins, a lantern of scraped oyster-shells, scimitars, Turkish pipes, Chinese baskets, etc. etc. My servants think my head is turned: I hope not: it is all to be called the personal estate and moveables of my great-great-grandmother, and to be reposited at Strawberry. I believe you think my letter as strange a miscellany as my purchases.
P. S. I forgot, that I was outbid for Oliver Cromwell's nightcap.
(659) John, second Earl of Ashburnham. On the 28th of June he married Elizabeth, daughter and coheiress of Ambrose Crawley, Esq.-E.
309 Letter 174 To Sir Horace Mann. Arlington Street, Feb. 23, 1756.
I can tell you with as much truth as pleasure that your brother assuredly mends, and that his physician, Dr. Pringle, who is the Duke's has told his Royal Highness, who expresses great concern, that he now will live. He goes out to take the air every day, that is not very bad: Mr. Chute and I went to see him yesterday, and saw a real and satisfactory alteration. I don't say this to flatter you; on the contrary, I must bid you, my dear child, not to be too sanguine, for Dr. Cocchi will tell you that there is nothing more fallacious than a consumptive case; don't mistake me, it is not a consumption, though it is a consumptive disposition. His spirits are evidently better.
You will have heard, before you receive this, that the King of France and Madame Pompadour are gone into devotion. Some say, that D'Argenson, finding how much her inclination for peace with us fell in with the Monarch's humanity, (and winch indeed is the only rational account one can give of their inactivity,) employed the Cardinal de la Rochefoucault and the Confessor to threaten the most Christian King with an earthquake if he did not communicate at Easter; and that his Majesty accordingly made over his mistress to his wife, by appointing the former dame du palais: others, who refine more, pretend that Madame Pompadour, perceiving how much the King's disposition veered to devotion, artfully took the turn of humouring it, desired to be only his soul's concubine, and actually sent to ask pardon of her husband, and to offer to return to him, from which he begged to be excused-the point in dispute is whether she has or has not left off rouge. In our present hostile state we cannot arrive at any certainty on this important question; though our fate seems to depend on it!
We have had nothing in Parliament but most tedious and long debates on a West Indian regiment, to be partly composed of Swiss and Germans settled in Pennsylvania, with some Dutch officers. The opposition neither increase in numbers or eloquence; the want of the former seems to have damped the fire of the latter. the reigning fashion is expectation of an invasion; I can't say I am fashionable; nor do I expect the earthquake, though they say it is landed at Dover.
The most curious history that I have to tell you, is a malicious, pretty successful, and yet most clumsy Plot executed by the papists, in which number you will not be surprised at my including some Protestant divines, against the famous Bower,(660) author of the History of the Popes. Rumours were spread of his being discovered in correspondence with the Jesuits; some even said the correspondence was treasonable, and that he was actually in the hands of a messenger. I went to Sir George Lyttelton, his great friend, to learn the truth; he told me the story: that Sir Harry Bedingfield, whom I know for a most bigoted Papist in Norfolk, pretended to have six letters from Bower (signed A. B.) in his hands, addressed to one Father Sheldon, a Jesuit, under another name, in which A. B. affected great contrition and desires of reconciliation to that church, lamenting his living in fornication with a woman, by whom he had a child, and from whom he had got fifteen hundred pounds, which he had put into Sheldon's hands, and which he affirmed he must have again if he broke off the commerce, for that the woman insisted on having either him or her money; and offering all manner of submission to holy church, and to be sent wherever she should please; for non mea voluntas sed tua fiat:- -the last letter grieved at not being able to get his money, and to be forced to continue in sin, and concluded with telling the Jesuit that something would happen soon which would put an end to their correspondence-this is supposed to allude to his history. The similitude of hands is very great-but you know how little that can weigh! I know that Mr. Conway and my Lady Ailesbury write so alike, that I never receive a letter from either of them that I am not forced to look at the name to see from which it comes; the only difference is that she writes legibly, and he does not. These letters were shown about privately, and with injunctions of secrecy: it seems Hooke, the Roman historian, a convert to Popery, and who governs my Lord Bath and that family, is deep in this plot. At last it got to the ears of Dr. Birch, a zealous but simple Than, and of Millar the bookseller, angry at Bower for not being his printer—they trumpeted the story all over the town. Lord Pultney was One who told it me, and added, "a Popish gentleman and an English clergyman are upon the scent;" he told me Sir H. Bedingfield's name, but Would not the clergyman's. I replied, then your lordship must give me leave to say, as I don't know his name, that I suppose our doctor is as angry as Sir Harry at Bower for having written against the church of Rome. Sir G. Lyttelton went to Sir Harry, and demanded to see the letters, and asked for copies, which were promised. He soon observed twenty falsehoods and inconsistencies, particulary the mention of a patent for a place, which Sir George obtained for him, but never thought of asking till a year and a half after the date of this letter; to say nothing of the inconsistence of his taking a place as a Protestant, at the same time he was offering to go whithersoever the Jesuits would send him; and the still more glaring improbability of his risking himself again under their power! Sir George desired the woman might be produced—Sir Harry shuffled, and at last said he believed it was a lie of Bower. When he was beaten out of every point, he said, he Would put it on this single fact, "Ask Mr. Bower if he was not reconciled to the church of Rome in the year '44." The whole foundation proves to be this: Bower, who is a very child in worldly matters, was weak enough, for good interest, to put fifteen hundred pounds into the hands of one Brown, a Jesuit here in London, and from that correspondence they have forged his hand; and finding the minds of men alarmed and foolish about the invasion and the earthquake, they thought the train would take like wildfire. I told Bower, that though this trusting a Jesuit did great honour to his simplicity, it Certainly did none to his judgment. Sir George begged I would advise them what to do-they were afraid to enter into a controversy, which Hooke might manage. I told him at once that their best way would be to advertise a great reward for discovery of the forgery, and to communicate their intention to Sir Harry bedington. Sir George was pleased with the thought-and indeed it succeeded beyond expectation. Sir Harry sent word that he approved the investigation of truth, be the persons concerned of what profession they would; that he was obliged to go out of town next day for his health, but hoped at his return Sir George would give him leave to cultivate an acquaintance which this little affair had renewed. Sir George answered with great propriety and spirit, that he should be very proud of his acquaintance, but must beg leave to differ with him in calling a little affair what tended to murder a man's character, but he was glad to see that it was the best way that Rome had of answering Mr. Bower's book. You see, Sir Harry is forced to let the forgery rest on himself, rather than put a chancellor of the exchequer upon the scent after priests! He has even hesitated Upon giving Bower copies of the letters.
Since I began my letter, we hear that France is determined to try a numerous invasion in several places in England and Ireland, coute qui coute, and knowing how difficult it is. We are well-prepared and strong; they have given us time. If it were easy to invade us, we should not have waited for an attack till the year 1756. I hope to give you a good account both of England and your brother. Adieu!
(660) Bower was a man of very bad character, and it is now generally believed that he intended to cheat the Jesuits out of a sum of money.-D.
(661) Dr. Douglas, afterwards Bishop of Salisbury, an intimate friend of Lord Bath. He had detected sundry errors in Bower's Lives of the Popes.-D.
312 Letter 175 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. Arlington Street, March 4, 1756.
Dear Harry, I have received so kind and so long a letter from you, and so kind too because so long, that I feel I shall remain much in your debt, at least for length. I won't allow that I am in your debt for warmth of friendship. I have nothing worth telling you: we are hitherto conquered only in threat: for my part. I have so little expectation of an invasion, that I have not buried a single enamel, nor bought a pane of painted glass the less; of the two panics in fashion, the French and the earthquake, I have not even made my option yet. The opposition get ground as little as either: Mr. Pitt talks by Shrewsbury clock, and is grown almost as little heard as that is at Westminster. We have had full eight days on the Pennsylvania regiment. The young Hamilton has spoken and shone again; but nothing is luminous compared with Charles Townshend:—he drops down dead in a fit, has a resurrection, thunders in the Capitol, confounds the treasury-bench, laughs at his own party, is laid up the next day, and overwhelms the Duchess and the good women that go to nurse him! His brother's Militia-bill(662) does not come on till next week: in the mean time, he adorns the shutters, walls and napkins of every tavern in Pall Mall with caricatures of the Duke(663) and Sir George Lyttelton, the Duke of Newcastle and Mr. Fox. Your friend Legge has distinguished himself exceedingly on the supplies and taxes, and retains all the dignity of chancellor of the exchequer. I think I never heard so complete a scene of ignorance as yesterday on the new duties! Except Legge, you would not have thought there was a man in the House had learned troy-weight; Murray quibbled—at Hume Campbell the House groaned! Pitt and Fox were lamentable; poor Sir George never knew prices from duties, nor drawbacks from premiums! The three taxes proposed were on plate, on bricks and tiles, on cards and dice. The earthquake has made us so good, that the ministry might have burned the latter in Smithfield if they had pleased. The bricks they were forced to give up, and consented graciously, to accept 70,000 pounds on alehouses, instead of 30,000 pounds on bricks. They had nearly been forced to extend the duty on plate beyond 10 pounds carrying the restriction by a majority of only two.
An embargo is laid on the shipping, to get sailors. The young court lords were going to raise troops of light horse, but my Lord Gower (I suppose by direction of the Duke) proposed to the King that they should rather employ their personal interest to recruit the army; which scheme takes place, and, as George Townshend said in the House, they are all turning recruiting sergeants. But notwithstanding we so much expect a storm from France, I am told that in France they think much more of their own internal storms than of us. Madame Pompadour wears devotion, whether forced or artful is not certain: the disputes between the King and the parliament run very high, and the Duke of Orleans and the Prince of Conti have set themselves -,it the head of the latter. Old Nugent came fuddled to the Opera last week, and jostled an ancient Lord Irwin, and then called him fool for being in his way: they were going to fight; but my Lord Talbot, professing that he did not care if they were both hanged, advised them to go back and not expose themselves. You will stare perhaps at my calling Nugent old: it is not merely to distinguish him from his son; but he is such a champion and such a lover, that it is impossible not to laugh at him as if he was a Methuselah! He is en affaire regime with the young Lady Essex. At a supper there a few nights ago of two-and-twenty people, they were talking of his going to Cashiobury to direct some alterations: Mrs. Nugent in the softest infantine voice called out, "My Lady Essex, don't let him do any thing out of doors; but you will find him delightful within!"
I think I have nothing else to tell you but a bon-mot or two; with that sort of news I think I take care to supply you duly. I send you constantly the best that London affords. Dick Edgecumbe has said that his last child was born on All-gamesters'-day; Twelfth-night. This chapter shall conclude with an epigram; the thought was George Selwyn's, who, you know, serves all the epigram-makers in town with wit. It is on Miss Chudleigh crying in the drawing-room on the death of her mother:-
"What filial piety! what mournful grace, For a lost parent, sits on Chudleigh's face Fair virgin, weep no more, your anguish smother! You in this town can never want a mother."
I have told poor Mr. Mann how kind you are to him: indeed I have been exceedingly frightened and troubled for him, and thought him in immediate danger. He is certainly much mended, though I still fear a consumption for him; he has not been able to move from Richmond this whole winter: I never fail to visit him twice or thrice a week. I heartily pity the fatigue and dullness of your life; nor can I flatter you with pretending to believe it will end soon: I hope you will not be forced to gain as much reputation in the camp as you have in the cabinet!—You see I must finish.
(662) On the 12th of March, Mr. George Townshend brought in a bill for better ordering the militia. It passed the House of Commons on the 10th of May.-E.
(663) The Duke of Cumberlan(l. Mr. George Townshend was very skilful at drawing caricatures, and published a set of twelve; to which he affixed the name of Austin.-E.
314 Letter 176 To Sir Horace Mann. Arlington Street, March 18, 1756.
I am not surprised to find by your letters of 21st and 28th of February how much you have been alarmed for your brother. You have not felt more than I have: but I have the satisfaction of seeing him mend, while you undergo the terrible suspense of waiting for posts. He has been pulled much back by the operation of his quicksilver, which flung him into a severe looseness and kind of salivation: it weakened him much and kept him from the air, but it brought off a great load of black stuff from his stomach, and his spirits are exceedingly better. He is to go to the Bath as soon as he is able. Would to heaven I could prevail for his going to Italy, but he will not listen to it. You may be confident that I do not stop at mere decency in checking his domestic torment—it is terrible; but when I saw him in so much danger, I kept no measures-I went lengths that would be inexcusable in any other situation. No description can paint the madness, (and when I call it madness, I know I flatter) the preposterous unreasonableness and infernal temper of that little white fiend! His temper, which is equal to yours, bears him up under it. I am with him two or three mornings every week, and think I shall yet preserve him for you. The physicians are positive that his lungs are not touched.
We proceed fiercely in armaments-yet in my own opinion, and I believe the ministry think so too, the great danger is for Port Mahon. Admiral Bing sails directly for the Mediterranean. The Brest fleet that slipped away, is thought on its progress to Nova Scotia. The Dutch have excused sending us their troops on the imminence of their own danger. The parliamentary campaign is almost over; you know I persist in believing that we shall not have any other here.
Thank you much for your kindness to Mr. Dick; I will repay you on your brother, though I don't know how to place him to any account but my own. If I could be more anxious than I am about him, it would be, my dear child, on what you say to me on yourself; but be comforted, all will yet be well.
Mr. Chute's picture is not yet arrived; when it comes, he shall thank you himself. I must now give you a new commission, and for no less a minister than the chancellor of the exchequer. Sir George Lyttelton desires that you will send him for his hall the jesses of the Venus, the dancing Faun, the Apollo Medicis, (I think there is a cast of it,) the Mercury, and some other female statue, at your choice: he desires besides three pair of Volterra vases, of the size to place on tables, and different patterns. consign the whole to me, and draw the bill of lading on me.
I have nothing more to tell you but a naivet'e of my Lady Coventry; the King asked her if she was not sorry that there are no masquerades this year-(for you must know we have sacrificed them to the idol earthquake,)-she said, no, she was tired of them; she was surfeited with most sights; there was but one left that she wanted to see—and that was a coronation! The old man told it himself at supper to his family with a great deal of good humour. Adieu! my dear child.
315 Letter 177 315 Letter 177 To The Hon. H. S. Conway.(664) Arlington Street, March 25, 1756.
In spite of being sorry, as I certainly ought to be, when your letters are short, I feel quite glad; I rejoice that I am not much in your debt, when I have not wherewithal to pay. Nothing happens worth telling you: we have had some long days in the House, but unentertaining; Mr. Pitt has got the gout in his oratory, I mean in his head, and does not come out: we are sunk quite into argument—but you know, when any thing is as it should be, it is not worth talking of. The plate-tax has made some noise; the ministry carried one question on it but by nine. The Duke of Newcastle, who reserves all his heroism for the war, grew frightened, and would have given up the tax; but Mr. Fox bolstered up his courage and mustered their forces, and by that and softening the tax till it was scarce worth retaining, they carried the next question by an hundred. The day before yesterday the King notified the invasion to both Houses, and his having sent for Hessians. There were some dislikes expressed to the latter; but, in general, fear preponderated so much that the cry was for Hanoverians too. Lord George Sackville, in a very artful speech, a little maliciously even proposed them and noblemen's regiments: which the Duke had rejected. Lord Ravensworth, in the other House, moved in form for Hanoverians; the Duke of Newcastle desired a few days to consider it, and they are to go upon it in the Lords to-morrow. The militia, which had been dropped for next year, is sprouted up again out of all this, and comes on to-day. But we should not be English, if we did not become still more intent on a very trifle: we are. A new road through Paddington(665) has been proposed to avoid the stones: the Duke of Bedford, who is never 'In town in summer, objects to the dust it will make behind Bedford House, and to some buildings proposed, though, if he was in town, he is too short-sighted to see the prospect. The Duke of Grafton heads the other side: this is carried! you can imagine it—-you could compose the difference! you, grand corrupter, you who can bribe pomp and patriotism, virtue and a Speaker,(666) you that have pursued uprightness even to the last foot of land on the globe, and have disarmed Whiggism almost on the banks of its own Boyne- -don't you return hither, we shall have you attempt to debauch even Mr. Onslow, who has preserved his chastity, while all the band of chosen youths, while every Pultney, Pitt, and Lyttelton have fallen around him. I could not help laughing at the picture of Malone bribed out of his virtue and mobbed into it again!
Now I am in a serious strain, I will finish my letter with the only other serious history I know. My Lady Lincoln has given a prodigious assembly to show the Exchequer house.(667) She sent to the porter to send cards to all she visited: he replied, he could easily do that, for his lady visited nobody but Lady Jane Scott. As she has really neglected every body, many refusals were returned. The Duchess of Bedford was not invited, and made a little opposition-supper, which was foolish enough. As the latter had refused to return my Lady Falmouth's visit, my Lady Lincoln singled her out, visited and invited her. The dignity of the assembly was great- Westminster Hall was illuminated for chairs; the passage from it hung with green baize and lamps, and matted. The cloister was the prettiest sight in the world, lighted with lamps and Volterra vases. The great apartment is magnificent. Sir Thomas Robinson the Long, who you know is always propriety itself, told me how much the house was improved since it was my brother's. The Duchess of Norfolk gives a great ball next week to the Duke of Cumberland: so you see that she does not expect the Pretender, at least this fortnight. Last night, at my Lady Hervey's, Mrs. Dives was expressing great panic about the French: my Lady Rochford, looking down on her fan, said with great softness, "I don't know, I don't think the French are a sort of people that women need be afraid of." Adieu!
(664) Now first published.
(665) The Paddington or New Road, which the Duke of Bedford opposed as making a dust behind Bedford House, and from some intended buildings being likely to interrupt his prospect. The Duke of Grafton warmly espoused the other side of the question.
(666) The Speaker of the Irish House of Commons.
(667) Lord Lincoln was at this time auditor of the exchequer.-E.
316 Letter 178 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. Strawberry Hill, April 16, 1756.
You wrong me very much in thinking I omit writing because I don't hear from you as often as you have a mind I should: you are kinder to me in that respect than I have reason, considering your numerous occupations, to expect: the real and whole truth is, that I have had nothing to tell you; for I could not tire either you or myself with all the details relating to this foolish road-bill, which has engrossed the whole attention of every body lately. I have entered into it less than any body. What will you say when you are told that proxies have been sent for to Scotland? that my Lord Harrington has been dragged into the House of Lords from his coffin, and Lord Arran(668) carried thither to take the oaths, who I believe has not appeared there since the Revolution? In short, it has become quite a trial for power: and though the Dukes of Grafton and Bedford have lent their names and their vehemence, you will guess what has been the engine behind the curtain.
The French are so obliging as to wait till we have done with these important squabbles: the House of Commons takes care too not to draw off the attention of the nation. The Militia-bill has passed through that solitude, but I hear will be stopped in the House of Lords. I have lived lately in a round of great disagreeable suppers, which you know are always called for my Lady Yarmouth, as if the poor woman loved nothing but cramming: I suppose it will so much become the etiquette, that in the next reign there will be nothing but suppers for my Lord Bute. I am now come hither to keep my Newmarket, but the weather is cold and damp: it is uncertain whether the Duke makes that campaign, or against the French. As the road-bill extinguished the violence about the two operas of next year, and they made the invasion forgot, and the invasion the earthquake, I foresee—and I go almost upon as sure grounds as prophets that take care to let the event precede the prediction-I foresee that the Hanoverians will swallow up all: they have already a general named, who ranks before any one of ours; and there are to be two Hanoverian aide-de-camps!
You will hear by this post of the death of Sir William Lowther, whose vast succession falls to Sir James, and makes him Croesus: he may hire the Dukes of Bedford and Marlborough for led captains. I am sorry for this young man, though I did not know him; but it is hard to be cut off so young and so rich: old rich men seldom deserve to live, but he did a thousand generous acts. You will be diverted with a speech of Lord Shelburne,(669) one of those second-rate fortunes who have not above five-and-thirty thousand pounds a year. He says, every body may attain some one point if they give all their attention to it; for his part, he knows he has no great capacity, he could not make a figure by his parts; he shall content himself with being one of the richest men in England! I literally saw him t'other day buying pictures for two-and-twenty shillings, that I would not hang in my garret, while I, who certainly have not made riches my sole point of view, was throwing away guineas, and piquing myself for old tombstones against your father-in-law the General.(670) I hope Lady Ailesbury will forgive my zeal for Strawberry against Coombank! Are you never to see your Strawberry Hill again'? Lord Duncannon flatters us that we shall see you in May. If I did not hope it, I would send you the only two new fashionable pieces; a comic elegy(671) by Richard Owen Cambridge, and a wonderful book by a more wonderful author, Greville.(672) It is called "Maxims and Characters:" several of the former are pretty: all the latter so absurd, that one in particular, which at the beginning you take for the character of a man, turns out to be the character of a postchaise.
You never tell me now any of Missy's bons-mots. I hope she has not resided in Ireland till they are degenerated into bulls? Adieu!
(668) Charles Butler, second son of Thomas, Earl of Ossory, created Earl of Arran in 1693. At his death, in 1759, his title became extinct.-E.
(669) John, fifth son of Thomas Fitzmaurice, first Earl of Kerry. He inherited, pursuant to the will of his uncle, Henry Petty, Earl of Shelburne, his lordship's opulent fortune, and assumed his surname in 1751. He was created Earl of Shelburne in the kingdom of Ireland; and, in 1760, was raised to the dignity of a British peer, by the title Of Lord Wycombe. He died in 1761.-E.
(670) General John Campbell, who, upon the death of Archibald Duke of Argyle, succeeded to that title.
(671) An Elegy on an Empty Assembly-room.-E.
(672) Fulke Greville, Esq. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, in a letter to her daughter, dated Louvere, Oct. 9, 1757, says, "We have had many English here. Mr. Greville, his lady, and her suite of adorers deserved particular notice: he was so good as to present me with his curious book: since the days of the Honourable Edward Howard, nothing has been published like it. I told him the age wanted an Earl of Dorset to celebrate it properly; and he was so well pleased with that speech, that he visited me every day, to the great comfort of Madame, who was entertained, meanwhile, with parties of pleasure of another kind, though I fear I lost his esteem at last, by refusing to correspond with him."-E.
318 Letter 179 To Sir Horace Mann. Strawberry Hill, April 18, 1756.
I wish I could send you accounts of your brother's amendment in proportion to your impatience, and to my own: he does mend certainly, but it is slowly: he takes the air every day, and they talk of his riding, though I don't think him strong enough yet to sit a horse; when he has rid a little he is to go to the Bath. I wish it much; for though he is at Richmond, there is no keeping him from doing too much business. Dr. Cocchi has showed his usual sagacity: the case is pronounced entirely asthmatic. As they have acquitted him of a consumption, I feel easy, though the complaint he has is so uneasy to himself'. You must not be discouraged by my accounts; for I see your brother so very often, that it is not possible for me to discern the progress of alteration in him.
YOU Will not believe how little we have thought of the French lately! We are engaged in a civil war-not between St. James's and Leicester House, but between the Dukes of Grafton and Bedford, about a new turnpike-road on the back of the town: as you may imagine, it grows politics; and if it is not compromised during the recess, the French may march deep into the kingdom before they become greater politics.
We think them not ready for Minorca, and that we shall be prepared to receive them there. The Hessians are expected immediately; and soon after them the Hanoverians; and soon after them many jealousies and uneasinesses.
These are all the politics I can tell you; and I have as little else to tell you. Poor Lady Drumlanrig(673) Whose lord perished so unfortunately about a ear and a half ago, is dead of a consumption from that shock; and Sir William Lowther, one of the two heirs of old Sir James, died two days ago of a fever. He was not above six-and-twenty, master of above twenty thousand pounds a-year - sixteen of which comes to young Sir James, who was equally rich: think what a fortune is here assembled-will any Florentine believe this when reduced to sequins or scudi?
I receive such packets of thanks of Lady Harry Beauclerc, transmitted to her from Mr. Dick, that you must bear to have some of them returned to you. I know you enough to believe that you will be still better pleased with new trouble than with my gratitude, therefore I will immediately flounce into more recommendation; but while I do recommend, I must send a bill of discount at the same time: in short, I have been pressed to mention a Sir Robert Davers to you; but as I have never seen him, I will not desire much more than your usual civility for him; sure he may be content with that! I remember Sir William Maynard,(674) and am cautious.
Since I began this, I receive yours of April 2d, full of uneasiness for your brother's quicksilver and its effects. I did not mention it to you, because, though it put him back, his physicians were persuaded that he would not suffer, and he has not. As to reasoning with them, my dear child, it is impossible: I am more ignorant in physic than a child of six years old; if it were not for reverence for Dr. Cocchi, and out of gratitude to Dr. Pringle, who has been of such service to your brother, I should say, I am as ignorant as a physician. I am really so sensible of the good your brother has received from this doctor, that I myself am arrived so far towards being ill, that I now know, if I was to be ill, who should be my physician. The weather has been so wet and cold that your brother has received very little benefit from it: he talked to me again this morning of riding but I don't yet think him able; if you had seen him as I saw him the day I wrote my first letter to you, you would be as happy as I am now: without that I fear you would be shocked to see how he is emaciated; but his eyes, his spirits, his attention, give me great hopes, though I absolutely think it a tedious astigmatic case. Adieu! my dear child; be in better spirits, and don't expect either sudden amendment or worse change.
(673) Daughter of the Earl of Hopton.-E.
(674) Whom Mr. Walpole recommended to Sir H. Mann, to whom Sir William, who was a Jacobite, behaved very impertinently.
319 Letter 180 To George Montagu, Esq. Arlington Street, April 20, 1756.
Your steward called on me just as I was going to keep my Newmarket at Strawberry Hill; he promised to leave me the direction to the statuary, but as I have not heard from him, I wish you would send it me
The cold and the wet have driven me back to London, empty London! where we are more afraid of the deluge than of the invasion. The French are said to be sailed for Minorca, which I hold to be a good omen of their not coming hither; for if they took England, Port Mahon, I should think, would scarcely hold out.
Pray don't die, like a country body, because it is a fashion for gentlefolks to die in London; it li's the bon ton now to die; one can't show one's face without being a death's-head. Mrs. Bethel and I are come strangely into fashion; but true critics in mode object to our having underjaws, and maintain that we are not dead comme il faut. The young Lady Exeter(675) died almost suddenly, and has handsomely confirmed her father's will, by leaving her money to her lord only for his life, and then to Thomas Townshend.(676) Sir William Lowther has made a charming will, and been as generous at his death as he was in his short life; he has left thirteen legacies of five thousand pounds each to friends; of which you know by sight, Reynolds,(677) Mrs. Brudenel's son, (678) and young Turner. He has given seventeen hundred pounds a-year; that is, I suppose, seventeen hundred Pounds, to old Mrs. Lowther.(679) What an odd circumstance! a woman passing an hundred years to receive a legacy from a man of twenty-seven; after her it goes to Lord George Cavendish. Six hundred pounds per year he gives to another Mrs. Lowther, to be divided afterwards between Lord Frederick and Lord John. Lord Charles, his uncle, is residuary legatee. But what do you think of young Mr. James Lowther, who not of age becomes master of one or two and forty thousand pounds a-year? England will become a heptarchy, the property of six or seven people! The Duke of Bedford is fallen to be not above the fourth rich man in the island.
Poor Lord Digby(680) is like to escape happily at last, after being cut for the stone, and bearing the preparation and execution with such heroism, that waking with the noise of the surgeons, he asked if that was to be the day? "Yes."—"How soon will they be ready?"—"Not for some time."—"Then let me sleep till they are?" He was cut by a new instrument of Hawkins, which reduces an age of torture to but one minute.
The Duke had appeared in form on the causeway in Hyde Park with my lady Coventry: it is the new office, where all lovers are entered. How happy she must be with Billy and Bully!(681) I hope she will not mistake, and call the former by the nickname of the latter. At a great supper t'other night at Lord Hertford's, if she was not the best-humoured creature in the world, I should have made her angry: she said in a very vulgar accent, if she drank any more, she should be muckibus. "Lord!" said Lady Mary Coke, "what is that?"-"Oh! it is Irish for sentimental."
There is a new Morocco ambassador, who declares for Lady Caroline Petersham, preferably to Lady Coventry. Lady Caroline Fox says he is the best bred of all the foreign ministers, and at one dinner said more obliging things than Mirepoix did during his whole embassy. He is so fashionable, that George Selwyn says he is sure my lady Winchelsea will ogle him instead of Haslang.
I shall send you soon the fruits of my last party to Strawberry; Dick Edgcumbe, George Selwyn, and Williams were with me: we composed a coat of arms for the two clubs at White's, which is actually engraving from a very pretty painting of Edgcumbe, whom Mr. Chute, as Strawberry king at arms, has appointed our chief herald painter; here is the blazon:
Vert (for card-table,) between three -parolis proper on a chevron table (for hazard-table) two rouleaus in saltire between two dice proper: in a canton, sable, a white ball (for election) argent.
Supporters. An old knave of clubs on the dexter; a young knave on the sinister side; both accoutred proper.
Crest. Issuing out of an earl's coronet (Lord Darlington) an arm shaking a dice-box, all proper.
Motto. (Alluding to the crest,) Cogit amor nummi. The arms encircled by a claret bottle ticket, by way of order.
By the time I hope to see you at Strawberry Hill, there will be a second volume of the Horatiana ready for the press; or a full and true account of the bloody civil wars of the house of Walpole, being a narrative of the unhappy differences between Horatio and Horace Walpoles; in short, the old wretch, who aspires to be one of the heptarchy, and who I think will live as long as old Mrs. Lowther, has accomplished such a scene of abominable avarice and dirt, that I, notwithstanding my desire to veil the miscarriages of my race, have been obliged to drag him and all his doings into light-but I won't anticipate. Adieu!
(675)Daughter and heir of horatio, son of the first Viscount Townshend.
(676) The Honourable Thomas Townshend, second son of Charles second Viscount Townshend, member for the University of Cambridge.-E.
(677) Francis Reynolds, of strangeways, Esq.-E.
(678) George Brudenel, Esq. afterwards member for Rutlandshire, and equerry to George the Second.-E.
(679) Hannah, youngest daughter of alderman Lowther. She had been maid of honour to Queens Mary and Anne, and died in 1757, at the age of one hundred and three.-E.
(680) Edward sixth Lord Digby. he died in the following year.-E.
(681) The Duke of cumberland and Lord Bolingbroke.-E.
321 Letter 181 To George Montagu, Esq. May 12.
Don't imagine I write to you for any thing but form; there is nothing like news, except the Prussian victories, which you see in the papers: by next courier we expect he will send us at least a leg or an arm of the Empress Queen.
Our domestic politics are far from settled. The King is gone to Kensington, and when any ministry can be formed, it is to be sent after him. The Parliament draggles on, till any two of the factions can unite. I have not got my tickets yet, but will certainly reserve what you want. Adieu!
322 Letter 182 To Sir Horace Mann. Strawberry Hill, May 16, 1756.
You will hear with great satisfaction that your brother rides out every day, and bears it pretty well. I sent to him yesterday morning, and my Swiss boy told me with great joy at his return, that he saw your brother's servants cutting a plate of bread and butter for him, big enough, said he, for you, Sir, and Mr. Bentley, and Mr. Muntz—who is a Swiss painter that I keep in the house—you perceive I deal much in Swiss. I saw your brother this morning myself; he does not mend so fast as I wish, but I still attribute it to the weather. I mentioned to him Dr. Cocchi's desire of seeing his case and regimen in writing by Dr. Pringle, but I found he did not care for it; and you may imagine I would not press it. I sifted Dr. Pringle himself, but he would not give me a positive answer: I fear he still thinks that it is not totally an asthma. If you had seen him so much worse, as I have, you would be tolerably comforted now. Lord Malpas(682) saw him to-day for the first time, and told me alone that he found him much better than he expected. His spirits and attention to every thing are just as good as ever, which was far from being the case three months ago.
I read the necessary part of your letter to Sir George Lyttelton, who thinks himself much obliged, and leaves the vases entirely to your taste, and will be fully content with the five jesses you name.
We have nothing new; the Parliament rises the 25th: all our attention is pointed to Minorca, of which you must be much better and sooner informed than we can. Great dissatisfactions arise about the defenceless state in which it was left; it is said, some account arrived from Commodore Edgcumbe(683) the night before last, but it is kept very secret, which at least specifies the denomination of it. I hope to find Mr. Conway in town to-morrow night, whither he is just returned from Ireland; he has pacified that country to the standard of his own tranquillity.
I have read the poem you mention, the Pucelle, and am by no means popular, for I by no means like it-it is as tiresome as if it was really a heroic poem. The four first cantos are by much the best, and throughout there are many vivacities; but so absurd, perplexed a story is intolerable; the humour often missed, and even the parts that give most offence, I think very harmless.
P. S. We are to declare war this week; I suppose, in order to make peace, as we cannot make peace till we have made war.
(682) George, eldest son of George third Earl of Cholmondeley, by Mary, daughter of Sir Robert Walpole: he died before his father and was father of George the fourth earl.
(683) George, second son of Richard Lord Edgecumbe, succeeded his brother in the title, and was by George III. created Viscount Mount Edgccumbe.
323 Letter 183 To George Montagu, Esq. Arlington Street, May 19, 1756.
Nothing will be more agreeable to me than to see you at Strawberry Hill; the weather does not seem to be of my mind, and will not invite you. I believe the French have taken the sun. Among other captures, I hear the King has taken another English mistress. a Mrs. Pope, who took her degrees in gallantry some years ago. She went to Versailles with the famous Mrs. quon: the King took notice of them; he was told that they were not so rigid as all other English women are- -mind, I don't give you any part of this history for authentic; you know we can have no news from France but what we run. I have rambled so that I forgot what I intended to say; if ever we can have spring, it must be soon; I propose to expect you any day you please after Sunday se'nnight, the 30th: let me know your resolution, and pray tell me in what magazine is the Strawberry ballad? I should have proposed an earlier day to you, but next week the Prince of Nassau is to breakfast at Strawberry Hill, and I know your aversion to clashing with grandeur.
As I have already told you one mob story of a king, I will tell you another: they say, that the night the Hanover troops were voted, he sent Schutz(684) for his German cook, and said, "Get me a very good supper; get me all de varieties; I don't mind expense."
I tremble lest his Hanoverians should be encamped at Hounslow; Strawberry would become an inn; all the Misses would breakfast there, to go and see the camp!
My Lord Denbigh,(685) is going to marry a fortune, I forget her name; my Lord Gower asked him how long the honeymoon would last? He replied, "Don't tell me of the honeymoon; it is harvest moon with me." Adieu!
(684) Augustus Schutz, a German, master of the robes to the King, and his favourite attendant.-E.
(685) Basil sixth Earl of Denbigh. In the following year he married Mary, daughter and coheiress of Sir John Bruce Cotton.-E.
323 Letter 184 To Sir Horace Mann. Arlington Street, May 27, 1756.
Your brother is determined to go to Bristol in ten days: our summer, which nobody but the almanack has the confidence to say is not winter, is so cold that he does not advance at all. If his temper was at all in the power of accidents, it would be affected enough just now to affect his health! What a figure we would make in a catalogue of philosophers or martyrs! His wife's aunt, Mrs. Forth, who has always promised him the half of her fortune, which is at least thirty thousand pounds, is dead, and has left him only two thousand pounds. He sent for your brother Ned this morning to talk to him upon some other business, and it was with such unaffected cheerfulness, that your eldest brother concluded he was reserving the notification of a legacy of at least ten thousand pounds for the bonne bouche; but he can bear his wife, and then what are disappointments? Pray, my dear child, be humble, and don't imagine that yours is the only best temper in the world. I pretend so little to a good one, that it is no merit in me to be out of all patience.
My uncle's ambition and dirt are crowned at last: he is a peer.(686) Lord Chief Justice Ryder, who was to have kissed hands with him on Monday, was too ill, and died on Tuesday;(687) but I believe his son will save the peerage.
We know nothing yet of Minorca, and seem to think so little of our war, that to pass away his time, Mars is turned Impresario: in short, the Duke has taken the Opera-house for the ensuing season. There has been a contest between the manager Vanneschi and the singers Mingotti and Ricciarelli;(688) the Duke patronizes the Mingotti and lists under her standard. She is a fine singer, an admirable actress; I cannot say her temper is entirely so sweet as your brother's.
May 30th, Arlington Street,
See what a country gentleman I am! One cannot stir ten miles from London without coming to believe what one hears, and without supposing that whatever should be done, will be done. The Opera-house is still in dispute between Signor Guglielmo and Signor Vanneschi—and Mr. Ryder(689) will not get the peerage; for coronets are not forfeited by worthlessness, but by misfortune. My lord Chief Justice misses one by only dying, my uncle gets one by living!
I this moment receive your letter of the 15th. We had picked up by scrambling accounts pretty much what you tell me of Minorca; but hitherto we only live on comparing dates.
I can add nothing to what I have said in the article of your brother. I am going to send the papers to Lord Macclesfield.(690) Adieu!
P. S. It is uncertain who will be Chief Justice; Murray could have no competitor, but the Duke of Newcastle cannot part with him from the House of Commons.(691)
(686) Through the zeal of his friend Lord Hardwicke, and the influence of the Cavendish party, the repugnance of the King was overcome, and Horatio Walpole, on the 1st of June, was elevated to the peerage, by the title of Lord Walpole of Wolterton.-E.
(687) On the 24th of May, the King signed a warrant for raising Sir Dudley Ryder to the peerage, but he died before the patent was completed.-E.
(688) "Vanneschi's difference with Mingotti occasioned as many private quarrels and public feuds as the disputed abilities of Handel and Bononcini, or the talents of Faustina and Cuzzoni, had done thirty years before. On a toujours tort in these disputes; and addressing the town is but making bad worse: for not a word which either party says is believed. These squabbles ended in Vanneschi's being a bankrupt, a prisoner in the Fleet, and afterwards a fugitive; and in Mingotti's acquiring for a while the sovereignty in the Opera kingdom, by which gratification of ambition they were soon brought to the brink of ruin, as others had been before them." Burney.-E.
(689) In 1776, Mr. Ryder was created Baron Harrowby.-E.
(690) George Parker, second Earl of Macclesfield, President of the Royal Society. He died in 1764.-D.
(691) Mr. Potter, in a letter to Mr. Pitt of the 4th of June, says, "Upon the death of the Chief Justice, all the Attorney-General's private friends thought the office, on every account, so fit for him, that it would be infatuation to decline it, and that the Attorney-General himself was of the same opinion, but the Duke of Newcastle was frightened at the thoughts of what was to become of the House of Commons." Chatham Correspondence, v 1. i. p. 159.-E.
325 Letter 185 To The Earl Of Strafford.(692) Strawberry Hill, June 6, 1756.
My dear lord, I am not sorry to be paving my way to Wentworth Castle by a letter, where I suppose you are at this time, and for which I waited: it is not that I stayed so long before I executed my embassy aupr'es de Milord Tylney. He had but one pair of gold pheasants at present, but promises my Lady Strafford the first fruits of their loves. He gave me hopes of some pied peacocks sooner, for which I asked directly, as one must wait for the lying-in of the pheasants. If I go on negotiating so successfully, I may hope to arrive at a peerage a little sooner than my uncle has.
As your Lordship, I know, is so good as to interest yourself in the calamities of your friends, I will, as shortly as I can, describe and grieve your heart with a catastrophe that has happened to two of them. My Lady Ailesbury, Mr. Conway, and Miss Rich passed two days last week at Strawberry Hill. We were returning from Mrs. Clive's through the long field, and had got over the high stile that comes into the road; that is, three of us. It had rained, and the stile was wet. I could not let Miss Rich straddle across so damp a palfrey, but took her in my arms to lift her over. At that instant I saw a coach and six come thundering down the hill from my house; and hurrying to set down my charge, and stepping backwards, I missed the first step, came down headlong with the nymph in my arms; but turning quite round as we rushed to the ground, the first thing that touched the earth was Miss Rich's head. You must guess in how improper a situation we fell; and you must not tell my Lady Strafford before any body that every petticoat, etc. in the world were canted high enough indeed! The coach came on, and never stopped. The apprehension that it would run over my Chloe made me lie where I was, holding out my arm to keep off the horses, which narrowly missed trampling us to death. The ladies, who were Lady Holderness, Miss Pelham, and your sister Lady Mary Coke, stared with astonishment at the theatre which they thought I had chosen to celebrate our loves; the footmen laughed; and you may imagine the astonishment of Mr. Conway and Lady Ailesbury, who did not see the fall, but turned and saw our attitude. It was these spectators that amazed Miss Pelham, who described the adventure to Mrs. Pitt, and said, "What was most amazing, there were Mr. Conway and Lady Ailesbury looking on!" I shall be vexed to have told you this long story, if Lady Mary has writ it already; only tell in@ honestly if she has described it as decently as I have.
If you have not got the new Letters and Memoirs of Madame Maintenon, I beg I may recommend them for your summer reading. As far as I have got, which is but into the fifth volume of the Letters, I think you will find them very curious, and some very entertaining. The fourth volume has persuaded me of the sincerity of' her devotion; and two or three letters at the beginning of my present tome have made me even a little jealous for my adored Madame de S'evign'e. I am quite glad to find that they do not continue equally agreeable. The extreme misery to which France was reduced at the end of Queen Anne's war, is more striking than one could conceive. I hope it is a debt that they are not going to pay, though the news that arrived on Wednesday have but a black aspect. The consternation on the behaviour of Byng,(693) and on the amazing Council of war at Gibraltar,(694) is extreme; many think both next to impossibilities. In the mean time we fear the loss of Minorca. I could not help smiling t'other day at two passages in Madame Maintenon's Letters relating to the Duc de Richelieu, when he first came into the world: "Jamais homme n'a mieux r'eussi 'a la cour, la premi'ere fois qu'il y a paru: c'est r'eellement une tr'es-jolie cr'eature!" Again:—"C'est la plus aimable poup'ee qu'on puisse voir." How mortifying that this , jolie poup'ee should be the avenger Of the Valoises!
Adieu! my lord. I don't believe that a daughter of the Duke of Argyle(695) will think that the present I have announced in the first part of my letter balances the inglorious article in the end. I wish you would both renew the breed of heroes, which seems scarcer than that of gold pheasants!
(692) William Wentworth, second Earl of Strafford, of the second creation. He married Lady Anne Campbell, second daughter of John, second Duke of Argyle, and died in 1791.-E.
(693) Hon. John Byng, fourth son of Admiral Byng; a distinguished officer, who, for his eminent services, was created Viscount Torrington in 1721.-E.
(694) A council of war was held at Gibraltar, to decide upon a request made by Admiral Byng for a reinforcement of troops from that garrison for the defence of Minorca; where M. de la Galissoni'ere, with thirteen sail of the line and several transports, had, towards the end of April, landed a large body of land forces under the command of the Duc de Richelieu.-E.
(695) Lady Strafford was the youngest daughter of John Duke of Argyle.
327 Letter 186 To John Chute, Esq.(696) Arlington Street, June 8, 1756.
My dear sir, Pray have a thousand masses said in your divine chapel 'a l'intention of your poor country. I believe the occasion will disturb the founder of it, and make him shudder in his shroud for the ignominy of his countrymen. By all one learns, Byng, Fowke, and all the officers at Gibraltar, were infatuated! They figured Port Mahon lost, and Gibraltar a-going! a-going! Lord Effingham, Cornwallis, Lord Robert Bertie, all, all signed the council of war, and are in as bad odour as possible. The King says It will be his death, and that he neither eats nor sleeps—all our trust is in Hanoverians.
The Prince has desired to be excused living at Kensington, but accepts of 40,000 pounds a year; 5,000 pounds is given to Prince Edward, and an establishment is settling; but that too will meet with difficulties. I will be more circumstantial when we Meet.(697)
My uncle has chose no motto nor supporters yet: one would think there were fees to pay for them! Mr. Fox said to him, "Why don't you take your family motto?" He replied, "Because my nephew would say I think I speak as well as my brother." I believe he means me. I like his awe. The Duke of Richmond, taking me for his son, reproached himself to Lady Caroline Fox for not wishing me joy. She is so sorry she undeceived him! Charles Townshend has turned his artillery upon his own court: he says, "Silly fellow for silly fellow, I don't see why it is not as well to be governed by my uncle with a blue riband, as by my cousin with a green one."
I have passed to-day one of the most agreeable days of my life; your righteous spirit will be offended with me-but I must tell you: my Lord and Lady Bath carried my Lady Hervey and me to dine with my Lady Allin at Blackheath. What added to the oddness of the company in which I found myself was her sister Mrs. Cleveland, whose bitterness against my father and uncle for turning out her husband you have heard—but she is very agreeable. I had a little private satisfaction in very naturally telling my Lord Bath how happy I have made his old printer, Franklyn. The Earl was in extreme good-humour, repeated epigrams, ballads, anecdotes, stories, which, as Madame S'evign'e says, put one in mind " "de sa d'efunte veine." The Countess was not in extreme good-humour, but in the best-humoured ill-humour in the world; contested every thing with great drollery, and combated Mrs. Cleveland on Madame Maintenon's character, with as much satire and knowledge of the world as ever I heard in my life. I told my Lord Bath General Wall's foolish vain motto, "Aut Caesar aut nihil." He replied, "He is an impudent fellow; he should have taken 'Murus aheneus.'" Doddington has translated well the motto on the caps of the Hanoverians, "Vestigia nulla retrorsum." "They never mean to go back again."