Mr. Pitt has not been able to return to Parliament for the gout, which has prevented our having one long day; we adjourn to-morrow for a fortnight; yet scarce to meet then for business, as a call of the House is not appointed till the 20th of January; very late indeed, were any inquiries probable: this advantage I hope will be gained, that our new ministers will have a month's time to think of their country.
Adieu! my dear Sir, this letter was necessary for me to write- -I find it as necessary to finish it.
(742) Mr. Foote married the second sister of Mr. Mann; as his brother, a clergyman, afterwards did the third.
356 Letter 208 To Sir Horace Mann. Arlington Street, January 6, 1757.
I live in dread of receiving your unhappy letters! I am sensible how many, many reasons you have to lament your dear brother; yet your long absence will prevent the loss of him from leaving so sharp a sting as it would have done had you seen as much of him as I have of late years! When I wrote to you, I did not know his last instance Of love to you;(743) may you never have occasion to use it!
I wish I could tell you any politics to abstract your thoughts from your concern; but just at present all political conversation centres in such a magazine of abuse, as was scarce ever paralleled. Two papers, called the "Test" and "Contest," appear every Saturday, the former against Mr. Pitt, the latter against Mr. Fox, which make me recollect-,' "Fogs" and "Craftsmen" as harmless libels. The authors are not known; Doddington(744) is believed to have the chief hand in the "Test,"(745) which is much the best, unless virulence is to bestow the laurel. He has been turned out by the opposite faction, and has a new opportunity of revenge, being just become a widower. The best part of his fortune is entailed on lord Temple if he has no son; but I suppose he would rather marry a female hawker than not propagate children and lampoons. There is another paper, called "The Monitor,"(746) written by one Dr. Shebbeare, who made a pious resolution of writing himself into a place or the pillory,(747) but having miscarried in both views, is wreaking his resentment on the late Chancellor, who might have gratified him in either of his objects. The Parliament meets to-morrow, but as Mr. Pitt cannot yet walk, we are not likely soon to have any business. Admiral Byng's trial has been in agitation above these ten days, and is supposed an affair of length: I think the reports are rather unfavourable to him, though I do not find that it is believed he will be capitally punished. I will tell you my sentiments, I don't know whether judicious or not: it may perhaps take a great deal of time to prove he was not a coward; I should think it would not take half an hour to prove he had behaved bravely.
Your old royal guest King Theodore is gone to the place which it is said levels kings and beggars; an unnecessary journey for him, who had already fallen from one to the other; I think he died somewhere in the liberties of the Fleet.(748)
lord Lyttelton has received his things, and is much content with them; this leads me to trouble you with another, I hope trifling, commission; will you send me a case of the best drains for Lord Hertford, and let me know the charge?
You must take this short letter only as an instance of my attention to you; I would write, though I knew nothing to tell you.
(743) Mr. Galfridus Mann left an annuity to his brother Sir Horace, in case he were recalled from Florence.
(744) George Bubb Doddington, Esq. This report was not confirmed.
(745) "The Test" was written principally by Arthur Murphy. It forms a thin folio volume,.-E.
(746) "The "Monitor" was commenced in August 1755, and terminated in July 1759. It is said to have been planned by Alderman Beckford.-E.
(747) He did write himself into a pillory before, the conclusion of that reign, and into a pension at the beginning of the next, for one and the same kind of merit,—writing against King William and the Revolution.
(748) See an account of his death, and the monument and epitaph erected for him in Mr. Walpole's fugitive pieces; see also his letter to Sir Horace Mann of the 29th of September, in this year.-E.
358 Letter 209 To Sir Horace Mann. Arlington Street, Jan. 17, 1757.
I am still, my dear Sir, waiting for your melancholy letters, not one of which has yet reached me. I am impatient to know how you bear your misfortune, though I tremble at what I shall feel from your expressing it! Except good Dr. Cocchi, what sensible friend have you at Florence to share and moderate your unhappiness?—but I will not renew it: I will hurry to tell you any thing that may amuse it—and yet what is that any thing; Mr. Pitt, as George Selwyn says, has again taken to his Lit de Justice; he has been once with the King,(749) but not at the House; the day before yesterday the gout flew into his arm, and has again laid him up: I am so particular in this, because all our transactions, or rather our inactivity, hang upon the progress of his distemper. Mr. Pitt and every thing else have been forgot for these five days, obscured by the news of the assassination of the King of France.(750) I don't pretend to tell you any circumstance of it, who must know them better than, at least as well as, I can; war and the sea don't contribute to dispel the clouds of lies that involve such a business. The letters of the foreign ministers, and ours from Brussels, say he has been at council; in the city he is believed dead: I hope not! We should make a bad exchange in the Dauphin. Though the King is weak and irresolute, I believe he does not want sense: weakness, bigotry, and some sense, are the properest materials for keeping alive the disturbances in that country, to which this blow, if the man was any thing but a madman, Will contribute. The despotic and holy stupidity(751) of the successor would quash the Parliament at once. He told his father about a year ago, that if he was King, the next day, and the Pope should bid him lay down his crown, he would. They tell or make a good answer for the father, "And if he was to bid you take the crown from me, would you!" We have particular cause to say masses for the father: there is invincible aversion between him and the young Pretender, whom, it is believed, nothing could make him assist. You may judge what would make the Dauphin assist him! he was one day reading the reign of Nero he said, "Ma foi, c''etoit le plus grand sc'el'erat qui f'ut jamais; il ne lui manquoit que d''etre Janseniste." I am grieving for my favourite,(752) the Pope, whom we suppose dead, at least I trust he was superannuated when they drew from him the late Bull enjoining the admission of the Unigenitus on pain of damnation; a step how unlike all the amiable moderation of his life! In my last I told you the death of another monarch, for whom in our time you and I have interested ourselves, King Theodore. He had just taken the benefit of the act of insolvency, and went to the Old Bailey for that purpose: in order to it, the person applying gives up all his effects to his creditors - his Majesty was asked what effects he had? He replied, nothing but the kingdom of Corsica—and it is actually registered for the benefit of the creditors. You may get it intimated to the Pretender, that if he has a mind to heap titles upon the two or three medals that he coins, he has nothing to do but to pay King Theodore's debts, and he may have very good pretensions to Corsica. As soon as Theodore was at liberty, he took a chair and went to the Portuguese minister, but did not find him at home: not having sixpence to pay, he prevailed on the chairman to carry him to a tailor he knew in Soho, whom he prevailed upon to harbour him; but he fell sick the next day, and died in three more.
Byng's trial continues; it has gone ill for him, but mends; it is the general opinion that he will come off for some severe censure.
Bower's first part of his reply is published; he has pinned a most notorious falsehood about a Dr. Aspinwall on his enemies, which must destroy their credit, and will do him more service than what he has yet been able to prove about himself. They have published another pamphlet against his history, but so impertinent and scurrilous and malicious, that it will serve him more than his own defence: they may keep the old man's life so employed as to prevent the prosecution of his work, but nothing can destroy the merit of the three volumes already published, which in every respect is the best written history I know: the language is the purest, the compilation the most judicious, and the argumentation the soundest.
The famous Miss Elizabeth Villiers Pitt(753) is in England; the only public place in which she has been seen is the Popish chapel; her only exploit, endeavours to wreak her malice on her brother William, whose kindness to her has been excessive. She applies to all his enemies, and, as Mr. Fox told me, has even gone so far as to send a bundle of his letters to the author of the Test, to prove that Mr. Pitt has cheated her, as she calls it, of a hundred a year, and which only prove that he once allowed her two, and after all her wickedness still allows her one. she must be vexed that she has no way of setting the gout more against him! Adieu! tell me if you receive all my letters.
(749) "The King became every day more and more averse to his new ministers. Pitt, indeed, had not frequent occasions of giving offence, having been confined by the gout the greater part of the winter; and when he made his appearance he behaved with proper respect, so that the King, though he did not like his speeches, always treated him like a gentleman." Waldegrave, p. 93.-E.
(750) Lady Hervey, in a letter of the 13th, gives the following account of Damien's attempt:—"I have barely time to tell you the news of the day, which arrived by a courier from France this morning to M. d'Abreu, the Spanish minister. The King of France was stepping into his coach to go to Bellevue, and a fellow who seemed to be gaping and looking at the coach en hayeur, took his opportunity, and taking aim at the King's heart thrust his dagger into his side,—Just over against the heart; but a lucky and sudden motion the King gave with his elbow at that moment, turned the dagger. which made only a slight wound in his ribs, as they say, which is judged not to be dangerous. The fellow was immediately secured."-E.
(751) The Dauphin, son of Louis XV., had been bred a bigot; but, as he by no means wanted sense, he got over the prejudices of his education, and before he died had far more liberal sentiments.
(752) Prospero Lambertini, by the name of Benedict XIV. For Walpole's inscription on his picture, see Works, vol. i. p. 218; and also post, letter to Sir Horace Mann of the 20th of June, in this year.-E.
(753) Sister of William Pitt, afterwards Earl of Chatham.
360 Letter 210 To Sir Horace Mann. Arlington Street, Jan. 30, 1757.
Last night I received your most melancholy letter of the 8th of this month, in which you seem to feel all or more than I apprehended. As I trust to time and the necessary avocation of your thoughts, rather than to any arguments I could use for your consolation, I choose to say as little more as possible on the subject of your loss. Your not receiving letters from your brothers as early as mine was the consequence of their desiring me to take that most unwelcome office upon me: I believe they have both written since, though your eldest brother has had a severe fit of the gout: they are both exceedingly busied in the details necessarily fallen upon them. That would be no reason for their neglecting you, nor I am persuaded will they; they shall certainly want no incitements from me, who wish and will endeavour as much as possible to repair your loss, alas! how inadequately! Your brother James has found great favour from the Duke.(754) Your @brother Ned, who is but just come to town from his confinement, tells me that your nephew will be in vast circumstances; above an hundred thousand pounds, besides the landed estate and debts! These little details related, I had rather try to amuse you, than indulge your grief and my own; your dear brother's memory will never be separated from mine; but the way in which I shall show it, shall be in increased attention to you: he and you will make me perpetually think on both of you!
All England is again occupied with Admiral Byng; he and his friends were quite persuaded of his acquittal. The court-martial, after the trial was finished, kept the whole world in suspense for a week; after great debates and divisions amongst themselves, and despatching messengers hither to consult lawyers whether they could not mitigate the article of war, to which a negative was returned, they pronounced this extraordinary sentence on Thursday: they condemn him to death for negligence, but acquit him of disaffection and cowardice (the other heads of the article), specifying the testimony of Lord Robert Bertie in his favour, and unanimously recommending him to mercy; and accompanying their sentence with a most earnest letter to the Lords of the admiralty to intercede for his pardon, saying, that finding themselves tied up from moderating the article of war, and not being able in conscience to pronounce that he had done all he could, they had been forced to bring him in guilty, but beg he may be spared. The discussions and difference of opinions, on the sentence is incredible. The cabinet council, I believe, will be to determine whether the King shall pardon him or not: some who wish to make him the scapegoat for their own neglects, I fear, will try to complete his fate, but I should think the new administration will not be biassed to blood by such interested attempts. He bore well his Unexpected sentence, as he has all the outrageous indignities and cruelties heaped upon him. last week happened an odd event, I can scarce say in his favour, as the world seems to think it the effect of the arts of some of his friends: Voltaire sent him from Switzerland an accidental letter of the Duc de Richelieu bearing witness to the Admiral's good behaviour in the engagement.(755) A letter of a very deferent cast, and of great humour, is showed about, said to be written to Admiral Boscawen from an old tar, to this effect:
"Sir., I had the honour of being at the taking of Port Mahon, for which one gentleman(756) was made a lord; I was also at the losing of Mahon, for which another gentleman(757) has been made a lord: each of those gentlemen performed but one of those services; surely I, who performed both, ought at least to be made a lieutenant. Which is all from your honour's humble servant, etc."(758)
Did you hear that after their conquest, the French ladies wore little towers for pompons, and called them des Mahonnoises? I suppose, since the attempt on the King, all their fashions will be 'a l'assassin. We are quite in the dark still about that history: it is one of the bad effects of living in one's own time, that one never knows the truth of it till one is dead!
Old Fontenelle is dead at last;(759) they asked him as he was dying "s'il sentoit quelque mal?" He replied, "Oui, je sens le mal d''etre." My uncle, a young creature compared to Fontenelle, is grown something between childish and mad, and raves about the melancholy situation of politics;(760) one should think he did not much despair of his country, when at seventy-eight he could practice such dirty arts to intercept his brother's estate from his brother's grandchildren! conclusion how unlike that of the honest good-humoured Pope! I am charmed with his bon-mot that you sent me. Apropos! Mr, Chute has received a present of a diamond mourning ring from a cousin; he calls it l'anello del Piscatore.(761)
Mr. Pitt is still confined, and the House of Commons little better than a coffee-house. I was diverted the other day with P'ere Brumoy's translation of Aristophanes; the Harangueses, or female orators, who take the Government upon themselves instead of their husbands, might be well applied to our politics: Lady Hester Pitt, Lady Caroline Fox, and the Duchess of Newcastle, should be the heroines of the piece; and with this advantage, that as lysistrata is forced to put on a beard, the Duchess has one ready grown.
Sir Charles Williams is returning, on the bad success of our dealings with Russia. The French were so determined to secure the Czarina, that they chose about seven of their handsomest young men to accompany their ambassador. How unlucky for us, that Sir Charles was embroiled with Sir Edward Hussey Montagu, who could alone have outweighed all the seven! Sir Charles's daughter, Lady Essex, had engaged the attentions of Prince Edward,(762) who has got his liberty, and seems extremely disposed to use it, and has great life and good-humour. She has already made a ball for him. Sir Richard Lyttelton was so wise as to make her a visit, and advise her not to meddle with politics; that the Princess would conclude it was a plan laid for bringing together Prince Edward and Mr. Fox!(763) As Mr. Fox was not just the person my Lady Essex was thinking of bringing together with Prince Edward, she replied very cleverly, "And my dear Sir Richard, let me advise you not to meddle with politics neither." Adieu!
(754) From the Duke of Cumberland, commander-in-chief of the army. Mr. Galfridus and James Mann were clothiers to many regiments.
(755) Voltaire's letter to Admiral Byng was written in English, and is as follows:@' Aux D'elices, pr'es de Gen'eve. Sir, though I am almost unknown to you, I think 'tis my duty to send you the copy of the letter which I have just received from the Marshal Duc de Richelieu; honour, humanity, and equity order me to convey it into your hands. The noble and unexpected testimony from one of the most candid as well as the most generous of my countrymen, makes me presume your judges will do you the same justice." Sir John Barrow, in his Life of Lord Anson, proves that these letters got into the hands of those who were not friendly to the Admiral, and he suspects that they never reached the unfortunate person for whose benefit they were intended.-E.
(756) Byng, Viscount Torrington.
(757) Lord Blakeney.
(758) It is now generally believed that Byng was brave but incapable. He might have done more than he did; but this was occasioned not by his want of courage, but by his want of ability. He was cruelly sacrificed to the fury of the people, and to the popularity of the ministry.-D.
(759) Fontenelle died on the 9th of January, having nearly completed his hundredth year. M. le Cat, in his 'eloge of him, gives the following account of his dying words!—"he reflected upon his own situation, just as he would upon that of another man, and seemed to be observing a phenomenon. Drawing very near his end, he said, 'This is the first death I have ever seen;' and his physicians having asked him, whether be was in pain, or what he felt, his answer was, 'I feel nothing but a difficulty of existing.'"-E.
(760) The following is Lord Chesterfield's account of Sir Charles's mental alienation, in a letter of the 4th, to his son: "He was let blood four times on board the ship, and has been let blood four times since his arrival here; but still the inflammation continues very high. He is now under the care of his brothers. They have written to the same Mademoiselle John, to prevent, if they can, her coming to England; which, when she hears, she must be as mad as he is, if she takes the journey. By the way, she must be une dame aventuri'ere, to receive a note for ten thousand roubles, from a man whom she had known only three days; to take a contract of marriage, knowing he was married already; and to engage herself to follow him to England." Again, on the 22d, he writes, "Sir C. W. is still in confinement, and, I fear, will always be so, for he seems cum ratione sanire: the physicians have collected all he has said and done, that indicated an alienation of mind, and have laid it before him in writing; he has answered it in writing too, and justifies himself by the most plausible argument that can possibly be urged. I conclude this subject With pitying him, and poor human nature, which holds its reason by so precarious a tenure. The lady, who you tell me is set out, en sera pour la peine et les frais du voyage, for her note is worth no more than her contract."-E.
(761) The Pope's seal with a ring, which is called the Fisherman's ring. Mr. Chute, who was unmarried, meant that his cousin was fishing for his estate.
(762) Brother of George the Third; afterwards created Duke of York. He died in 1767, at the early age of twenty-eight.-E.
(763) Sir Charles Williams was a particular friend of Mr. Fox.
363 Letter 211 To Sir Horace Mann. Strawberry Hill, Feb. 13, 1757.
I am not surprised to find you still lamenting your dear brother but you are to blame, and perhaps I shall be so, for asking and giving any more accounts of his last hours. Indeed, after the fatal Saturday, on which I told you I was prevented seeing him by his being occupied with his lawyer, he had scarce an interval of sense—and no wonder! His lawyer has since told me, that nothing ever equalled the horrid indecencies of your sister-in-law on that day. Having yielded to the settlement for which he so earnestly begged, she was determined to make him purchase it, and in transports of passion and avarice, kept traversing his chamber from the lawyer to the bed, whispering her husband, and then telling the lawyer, who was drawing the will, "Sir, Mr. Mann says I am to have this, I am to have that!" The lawyer at last, offended to the greatest degree, said, "Madam, it is Mr. Mann's will I am making, not yours!"—but here let me break it off; I have told you all I know, and too much. It was a very different sensation I felt, when your brother Ned told me that he had found seven thousand pounds in the stocks in your name. As Mr. Chute and I know how little it is possible for you to lay up, we conclude that this sum is amassed for you by dear Gal.'s industry and kindness, and by a silent way of serving you, without a possibility of his wife or any one else calling it in question.
What a dreadful catastrophe is that of Richcourt's family! What lesson for human grandeur! Florence, the scene of all his triumphs and haughtiness, is now the theatre of his misery and misfortunes!
After a fortnight of the greatest variety of opinions, Byng's fate is still in suspense. The court and the late ministry have been most bitter against him; the new admiralty most good-natured; the King would not pardon him. They would not execute the sentence, as many lawyers are clear that it is not a legal one.(64) At last the council has referred it to the twelve judges to give their opinion: if not a favourable one, he dies! He has had many fortunate chances had the late admiralty continued, one knows how little any would have availed him. Their bitterness will always be recorded against themselves: it will be difficult to persuade posterity that all the shame of last summer was the fault of Byng! Exact evidence of whose fault it was, I believe posterity will never have: the long expected inquiries are begun, that is, some papers have been moved for, but so coldly, that it is plain George Townshend and the Tories are unwilling to push researches that must necessarily reunite Newcastle and Fox. In the mean time, Mr. Pitt stays at home, and holds the House of Commons in commendam. I do not augur very well of the ensuing summer; a detachment is going to America under a commander whom a child might outwit, or terrify with a pop-gun! The confusions in France seem to thicken with our mismanagements: we hear of a total change in the ministry there, and of the disgrace both of Machault and D'Argenson, the chiefs of the Parliamentary and Ecclesiastic factions. That the King should be struck with the violence Of their parties, I don't wonder: it is said, that as he went to hold the lit de Justice, no mortal cried Vive le Roi! but one old woman, for which the mob knocked her down, and trampled her to death.
My uncle died yesterday was Se'nnight; his death I really believe hastened by the mortification of the money vainly spent at Norwich. I neither intend to spend money, nor to die of it, but, to my mortification, am forced to stand for Lynn, in the room of his son. The corporation still reverence my father's memory so much, that they will not bear distant relations, while he has sons living. I was reading the other day a foolish book called "l'Histoire des quatre Cic'erons;" the author, who has taken Tully's son for his hero, says, he piques himself on out-drinking Antony, his father's great enemy. Do you think I shall ever pique myself on being richer than my Lord Bath?
Prince Edward's pleasures continue to furnish conversation: he has been rather forbid by the Signora Madre to make himself so common; and he has been rather encouraged by his grandfather to disregard the prohibition. The other night the Duke and he were at a ball at Lady Rochford's:(765) she and Lady Essex were singing in an inner chamber when the Princes entered, who insisting on a repetition of the song, my Lady Essex, instead of continuing the same, addressed herself to Prince Edward in this ballad of Lord -Dorset-
"False friends I have as well as you, Who daily counsel me Fame and ambition to pursue, And leave off loving thee—"
It won't be unamusing, I hope it will be no more than amusing, when all the Johns of Gaunt, and Clarences, and Humphrys of Gloucester, are old enough to be running about town, and furnishing histories. Adieu!
(764) Walpole, in his Memoires, vol. it. p. 152, says, that Mr. Pitt moved the King to mercy, but was cut very short; nor did his Majesty remember to ask his usual question, whether there were any favourable circumstances."-E.
(765) Lucy Young, wife of William Henry, Earl of Rochford.
364 Letter 212 To John Chute, Esq.(766) Sunday night, very late, Feb. 27, 1757.
My dear Sir, I should certainly have been with YOU to-night, as I desired George Montagu to tell you, but every six hours produce such new wonders, that I do not know when I shall have a moment to see you. Will you, can you believe me, when I tell you that the four persons of the court-martial whom Keppel named yesterday to the House as commissioning him to ask for the bill, now deny they gave him such commission, though Norris, one of them, was twice on Friday with Sir Richard Lyttelton, and once with George Grenville for the same purpose! I have done nothing but traverse the town tonight from Sir Richard Lyttelton's to the Speaker's, to Mr. Pitt's, to Mr. Fox's, to Doddington's, to Lady Hervey's, to find out and try how to defeat the evil of this, and to extract, if possible, some good from it. Alas! alas! that what I meant so well, should be likely only to add a fortnight to the poor man's misery! Adieu!
(766) Now first published.
365 Letter 213 To Sir Horace Mann. Arlington Street, March 3, 1757.
I have deferred writing to you till I could tell you something certain of the fate of Admiral Byng: no history was ever so extraordinary, or produced such variety of surprising turns. In my last I told you that his sentence was referred to the twelve judges. They have made law of that of which no man else could make sense. The Admiralty immediately signed the warrant for his execution on the last of February—that is, three signed: Admiral Forbes positively refused, and would have resigned sooner. The Speaker would have had Byng expelled the House, but his tigers were pitiful. Sir Francis Dashwood tried to call for the court-martial's letter, but the tigers were not so tender as that came to. Some of the court-martial grew to feel as the execution advanced: the city grew impatient for it. Mr. Fox tried to represent the new ministry as compassionate, and has damaged their popularity. Three of the court-martial applied on Wednesday last to Lord Temple to renew their solicitation for mercy. Sir Francis Dashwood moved a repeal of the bloody twelfth article: the House was savage enough; yet Mr. Doddington softened them, and not one man spoke directly against mercy. They had nothing to fear: the man,(767) who, of all defects, hates cowardice and avarice most, and who has some little objection to a mob in St. James's street, has magnanimously forgot all the services of the great Lord Torrington. On Thursday seven of the court-martial applied for mercy: they were rejected. On Friday a most strange event happened. I was told at the House that Captain Keppel and Admiral Norris desired a bill to absolve them from their oath of secrecy, that they might unfold something very material towards saving the prisoner's life. I was out of Parliament myself during my re-election, but I ran to Keppel; he said he had never spoken in public, and could not, but would give authority to any body else. The Speaker was putting the question for the orders of the day, after which no motion could be made: it was Friday, the House would not sit on Saturday, the execution was fixed for Monday. I felt all this in an instant, dragged Mr. Keppel to Sir Francis Dashwood, and he on the floor before he had taken his place, called out to the Speaker, and though the orders were passed, Sir Francis was suffered to speak. The House was wondrously softened: pains were taken to prove to Mr. Keppel that he might speak, notwithstanding his oath; but he adhering to it, he had time given him till next morning to consider and consult some of his brethren who had commissioned him to desire the bill. The next day the King sent a message to our House, that he had respited Mr. Byng for a fortnight, till the bill could be passed, and he should know whether the Admiral was unjustly condemned. The bill was read twice in our House that day, and went through the committee: mr. Keppel affirming that he had something, in his opinion, of weight to tell, and which it was material his Majesty should know, and naming four of his associates who desired to be empowered to speak. On Sunday all was confusion on news that the four disclaimed what Mr. Keppel had said for them. On Monday he told the House that in one he had been mistaken; that another did not declare off, but wished all were to be compelled to speak; and from the two others he produced a letter upholding him in what he had said. The bill passed by 153 to 23. On Tuesday it was treated very differently by the Lords. The new Chief Justice(768) and the late Chancellor(769) pleaded against Byng like little attorneys, and did all they could to stifle truth. That all was a good deal. They prevailed to have the whole courtmartial at their bar. Lord Hardwicke urged for the intervention of a day, on the pretence of a trifling cause of an Irish bankruptcy then depending before the Lords, though Lord Temple showed them that some of the captains and admirals Were under sailing orders for America. But Lord Hardwicke and Lord Anson were expeditious enough to do what they wanted in one night's time: for the next day, yesterday, every one of the court-martial defended their sentence, and even the three conscientious said not one syllable of their desire of the bill, which was accordingly unanimously rejected, and with great marks of contempt for the House of Commons.
This is as brief and as clear an abstract as I can give you of a most complicated affair, in which I have been a most unfortunate actor, having to my infinite grief, which I shall feel till the man is at peace, been instrumental in protracting his misery a fortnight, by what I meant as the kindest thing I could do. I never knew poor Byng enough to bow to; but the great doubtfulness of his crime, and the extraordinariness of his sentence, the persecution of his enemies, who sacrifice him for their own guilt and the rage of a blinded nation, have called forth all my pity for him. His enemies triumph, but who can envy the triumph of murder?
Nothing else material has happened, but Mr. Pitt's having moved for a German subsidy, which is another matter of triumph to the late ministry. He and Mr. Fox have the warmest altercations every day in the House.
We have had a few French symptoms; papers were fixed on the Exchange, with these words, "Shoot Byng, or take care of your King;" but this storm, which Lord Anson's creatures and protectors have conjured up, may choose itself employment when Byng is dead.
Your last was of Jan. 29th, in which I thank you for what you say of my commissions: sure you could not imagine that I thought you neglected them? Adieu!
(767) The King.
(768) W. Murray, Lord Mansfield.
(769) Philip Yorke, Earl of Hardwicke.
367 Letter 214 To Sir Horace Mann. Arlington Street, March 17, 1757.
Admiral Byng's tragedy was completed on Monday-a perfect tragedy, for there were variety of incidents, villany, murder, and a hero! His sufferings, persecutions, aspersions, disturbances, nay, the revolutions of his fate, had not in the least unhinged his mind; his whole behaviour was natural and firm. A few days before, one of his friends standing by him, said, "Which of us is the tallest?" He replied, "Why this ceremony? I know what it means; let the man come and measure me for my coffin." He said, that being acquitted of cowardice, and being persuaded on the coolest reflection that he had acted for the best, and should act so again, he was not unwilling to suffer. he desired to be shot on the quarter-deck, not where common malefactors are; came out at twelve, sat down in a chair, for he would not kneel, and refused to have his face covered, that his countenance might show whether he feared death; but being told that it might frighten his executioners, he submitted, gave the signal at once, received one shot through the head, another through the heart, and fell. Do cowards live or die thus? Can that man want spirit who only fears to terrify his executioners? Has the aspen Duke of Newcastle lived thus? Would my Lord Hardwicke die thus, even supposing he had nothing on his conscience?
This scene is over! what will be the next is matter of great uncertainty. The new ministers are well weary of their situation; without credit at court, without influence in the House of Commons, undermined every where, I believe they are too sensible not to desire to be delivered of their burthen, which those who increase yet dread to take on themselves. Mr. Pitt's health is as bad as his situation: confidence between the other factions almost impossible; yet I believe their impatience will prevail over their distrust. The nation expects a change every day, and being a nation, I believe, desires it; and being the English nation, will condemn it the moment it is made. We are trembling for Hanover, and the Duke is going to command the army of observation. These are the politics of the week; the diversions are balls, and the two Princes frequent them; but the eldest nephew(770) remains shut up in a room, where, as desirous as they are of keeping him, I believe he is now and then incommode. The Duke of Richmond has made two balls on his approaching wedding with Lady Mary Bruce, Mr. Conway's(771) daughter-in-law: it is the perfectest match in the world; youth, beauty, riches, alliances, and all the blood of all the kings from Robert Bruce to Charles the Second. they are the prettiest couple in England, except the father-in-law and mother.
As I write so often to you, you must be content with shorter letters, which, however, are always as long as I can make them. This summer will not contract our correspondence. Adieu! my dear Sir.
(770) George Prince of Wales, afterwards George III.
(771) Lady Mary Bruce was only daughter of Charles last Earl of Ailesbury, by his third wife, Caroline, daughter of General John Campbell, afterwards Duke of Argyll. lady Ailesbury married to her second husband, Colonel Henry Seymour Conway, only brother of Francis Earl of Hertford.
368 Letter 215 To Sir Horace Mann. Arlington Street, April 7, 1757.
You will receive letters by this post that will surprise you; I will try to give you a comment to them; an exact explication I don't know who could give you. You will receive the orders of' a new master, Lord Egremont. I was going on to say that the ministry is again changed, but I cannot say Changed, it is only dismissed—and here is another inter-ministerium.
The King has never borne Lord Temple,(772) and soon grew displeased with Mr. Pitt: on Byng's affair it came to aversion. It is now given out that both I have mentioned have personally affronted the King. On the execution, he would not suffer Dr. Hay of the admiralty to be brought into Parliament, though he had lost his seat on coming into his service. During this squabble negotiations were set on foot between the Duke of Newcastle and Mr. Fox, and would have been concluded if either of them would have risked being hanged for the other. The one most afraid broke off the treaty; need I say it was the Duke?(773 While this was in agitation, it grew necessary for the Duke(774) to go abroad and take the command of the army of observation. He did not care to be checked there by a hostile ministry at home: his father was as unwilling to be left in their hands. The drum was beat for forces; none would list. However, the change must be made, The day before yesterday Lord Temple was dismissed, with all his admiralty but Boscawen, who was of the former, and with an offer to Mr. Elliot to stay, which he has declined. The new admirals are Lord Winchelsea, Rowley again, Moyston, Lord Carysfort, Mr. Sandys, and young Hamilton of the board of trade.(775) It was hoped that this disgrace would drive Mr. Pitt and the rest of his friends to resign—for that very reason they would not. The time pressed; to-day was fixed for the Duke's departure, and for the recess of Parliament during the holidays. Mr. Pitt was dismissed, and Lord Egremont has received the seals to-day. Mr. Fox has always adhered to being only paymaster; but the impossibility of finding a chancellor of the exchequer, which Lord Duplin of the Newcastle faction, and Doddington of Mr. Fox's, have refused, has, I think, forced Mr. Fox to resolve to take that post himself. However, that and every thing else is unsettled, and Mr. Fox is to take nothing till the Inquiries are over. The Duke of Devonshire remains in the treasury, declaring that it is only for a short time, and till they can fix on somebody else. The Duke of Newcastle keeps aloof, professing no connexion with Mr. Pitt; Lord Hardwicke is gone into the country for a fortnight. The stocks fall, the foreign ministers stare; Leicester-house is going to be very angry, and I fear we are going into great confusion. As I wish Mr. Fox so well, I cannot but lament the undigested rashness of this measure.
Having lost three packet-boats lately, I fear I have missed a letter or two of yours: I hope this will have better fortune; for, almost unintelligible, as it is, you will want even so awkward a key.
Mr. Fox was very desirous of bargaining for a peerage for Lady Caroline; the King has positively refused it, but has given him the reversion for three lives of clerk of the pelts in Ireland, which Doddington has now. Mr. Conway is made groom of the bedchamber to the King.
A volume on all I have told you would only perplex you more; you will have time to study what I send you now. I go to Strawberry Hill to-morrow for the holidays; and till they are over, certainly nothing more will be done. You did not expect this new confusion, just when you was preparing to tremble for the campaign. Adieu!
(772) "To Lord Temple," says Lord Waldegrave, "the King had the strongest aversion, his lordship having a pert familiarity, which is not always agreeable to his Majesty. besides, in the affair of admiral Byng, he had used some insolent expressions, which his Majesty could never forgive. Pitt, he said, made him long speeches, which probably might be very fine, but were greatly beyond his comprehension, and that his letters were affected, formal, and pedantic; but as to Temple, he was so disagreeable a fellow, there was no bearing him." Memoirs, p. 93.-E.
(773) "I told his Majesty, that the Duke of Newcastle was quite doubtful what part he should take, being equally balanced by fear on the one side and love of power on the other. To this the King replied, 'I know he is apt to be afraid, therefore go and encourage him; tell him I do not look upon myself as king whilst I am in the hands of these scoundrels; that I am determined to get rid of them at any rate; that I expect his assistance, and that he may depend on my favour and protection.'" Waldegrave, p. 96.-E.
(774) The Duke of Cumberland.
(775) The new admiralty actually consisted of the following:— Lord Winchilsea, Admiral Sir W. Rowley, K. B., Hon. Edward Boscawen, Gilbert Elliott, Esq., John Proby, first lord Carysfort, Savage Mostyn, Esq., and the Hon. Edward Sandys, afterwards second lord Sandys.-D.
370 Letter 216 To Sir Horace Mann. Arlington Street, April 20, 1757.
You will wonder that I should so long have announced my lord Egremont to you for a master, without his announcing himself to you.—it was no fault of mine; every thing here is a riddle or an absurdity. Instead of coming forth secretary of state, he went out of town, declaring he knew nothing of the matter. On that, it was affirmed that he had refused the seals. The truth is, they have never been offered to him in form. He had been sounded, and I believe was not averse, but made excuses that were not thought invincible. As we are in profound peace with all the world, and can do without any government, it is thought proper to wait a little, till what are called the Inquiries are over;(776) what they are, I will tell you presently. A man(777) who has hated and loved the Duke of Newcastle pretty heartily in the course of some years, is Willing to wait, in hopes of prevailing on him to resume the seals—that Duke is the arbiter of England! Both the other parties are trying to unite with him. The King pulls him, the next reign (for you know his grace is very young) pulls him back. Present power tempts: Mr. Fox's unpopularity terrifies- -he will reconcile all, with immediate duty to the King, with a salvo to the intention of betraying him to the Prince, to make his peace with the latter, as soon as he has made up with the former. Unless his grace takes Mr. Fox by the hand, the latter is in an ugly situation—if he does, is he in a beautiful one?
Yesterday began the famous and long-expected Inquiries.(778) The House of Commons in person undertakes to examine all the intelligence, letters, and orders, of the administration that lost Minorca. In order to this, they pass over a -,,whole winter; then they send for cart-loads of papers from all the offices, leaving it to the discretion of the clerks to transcribe, insert, omit, whatever they please; and without inquiring what the accused ministers had left or secreted. Before it was possible for people to examine these with any attention, supposing they were worth any, the whole House goes to work, sets the clerk to reading such bushels of letters, that the very dates fill three-and-twenty sheets of paper; he reads as fast as he can, nobody attends, every body goes away, and to-night they determined that the whole should be read through on tomorrow and Friday, that one may have time to digest on Saturday and Sunday what one had scarce heard, cannot remember, nor is it worth the while; and then on Monday, without asking any questions, examining any witnesses, authority, or authenticity, the Tories are to affirm that the ministers were very negligent; the Whigs, that they were wonderfully informed, discreet, provident, and active; and Mr. Pitt and his friends are to affect great zeal for justice, are to avoid provoking the Duke of Newcastle, and are to endeavour to extract from all the nothings they have not heard, something that is to lay all the guilt at Mr. Fox's door. Now you know very exactly what the Inquiries are-and this wise nation is gaping to see the chick which their old brood-hen the House of Commons will produce from an egg laid in November, neglected till April, and then hatched in a quicksand!
The common council have presented gold boxes with the freedom of their city to Mr. Pitt and Mr. Legge—no gracious compliment to St. James's. It is expected that the example will catch, but as yet, I hear of no imitations. Pamphlets, cards, and prints swarm again. George Townshend has published one of the latter, which is so admirable in its kind, that I cannot help sending 'It to you. His genius for likenesses in caricatura is astonishing—indeed, Lord Winchelsea's figure is not heightened—your friends Doddington and Lord Sandwich are like; the former made me laugh till I cried. The Hanoverian drummer, Ellis, is the least like, though it has much of his air. I need say nothing of the lump of fat(779) crowned with laurel on the altar. As Townshend's parts lie entirely in his pencil, his pen has no share in them; the labels are very dull, except the inscription on the altar, which I believe is his brother Charles's. This print, which has so diverted the town, has produced to-day a most bitter pamphlet against George Townshend, called The Art of Political Lying. Indeed, it is strong.
The Duke, who has taken no English with him but Lord Albemarle, Lord Frederick Cavendish,(780) Lord George Lennox,(781) Colonel Keppel, Mr. West, and Colonel Carlton, all his own servants, was well persuaded to go by Stade; there were French parties laid to intercept him on the other road. It might have saved him an unpleasant campaign. We have no favourable events, but that Russia, who had neither men, money, nor magazines, is much softened, and halts her troops. The Duke of Grafton(782) still languishes: the Duke of Newcastle has so pestered him with political visits, that the physicians ordered him to be excluded: yet he forced himself into the house. The Duke's Gentlemen would not admit him into the bedchamber, saying his grace was asleep. Newcastle protested he would go in on tiptoe and only look at him-he rushed in, clattered his heels to waken him, and then fell upon the bed, kissing and hugging him. Grafton waked. "God! what's here?" "Only I, my dear lord." Buss, buss, buss, buss! "God! how can you be such a beast, to kiss such a creature as I am, all over plaisters! get along, get along!" and turned about and went to sleep. Newcastle hurries home, tells the mad Duchess that the Duke of Grafton was certainly light-headed, for he had not known him, frightened her into fits, and then was forced to send for Dr. -Shaw-for this Lepidus are struggling Octavius and Anthony!(783)
I have received three letters from you, one of March 25th, one of the second of this month, inclosing that which had journeyed back to you unopened. I wish it lay in my way to send you early news of the destination of fleets, but I rather avoid secrets than hunt them. I must give you much the same answer with regard to Mr. Dick, whom I should be most glad to serve; but when I tell you that in the various revolutions of ministries I have seen, I have never asked a single favour for myself or any friend I have; that whatever friendships I have with the man, I avoid all connexions with the minister; that I abhor courts and levee-rooms and flattery; that I have done with all parties and only sit by and smile—(you would weep)—when I tell You all this, think what my interest must be! I can better answer your desiring me to countenance your brother James, and telling me it will cost me nothing. My God! if you don't believe the affection I have for you, at least believe in the adoration I have for dear Gal.'s memory,- -that, alas! cannot now be counterfeited! If ever I had a friend, if ever there was a friend, he was one to me; if ever there were love and gratitude, I have both for him—before I received your letter, James was convinced for all this—but my dear child, you let slip an expression which sure I never deserved—but I will say no more of it. thank you for the verses on Buondelmonti(784)—I did not know he was dead—for the prayer for Richcourt, for the Pope's letter, and for the bills of lading for the liqueurs.
You will have heard all the torments exercised on that poor wretch Damien, for attempting the least bad of all murders, that of a king. They copied with a scrupulous exactness horrid precedents, and the dastardly monarch permitted them! I don't tell you any particulars, for in time of war, and at this distance, how to depend on the truth of them?
This is a very long letter, but I will not make excuses for long ones and short ones too—I fear you forgive the long ones most easily!
(776) "April 6, Mr. Pitt dismissed. Mr. Fox and I were ordered from the King, by Lord Holderness to come and kiss his hand as paymaster of the army, and treasurer of the navy. We wrote to the Duke of Cumberland our respectful thanks and acceptance of the offices; but we thought it would be more for his Majesty's service,.not to enter into them publicly till the Inquiry was over." Doddington, p. 352.-E.
(777) the King.
(778) On the 19th of April, the House of Commons went into a committee on the state of the navy, and the causes which had led to the loss of the island of Minorca.-E.
(779) The Duke of Cumberland.
(780) Third son of William third Duke of Devonshire. He was made a field-marshal in 1796, and died in 1803.-D.
(781) Second son of Charles second Duke of Richmond. He died in March, 1805.-D.
(782) Charles Fitzroy, second Duke of Grafton, lord chamberlain.
(783) Lepidus, Duke of Newcastle; Octavius and Anthony, Pitt and Fox.-D.
(784) A Florentine Abb'e and wit; author of several poetical pieces.-E.
372 Letter 217 To Sir Horace Mann. Arlington Street, May 5, 1757.
You may expect what you please of new ministries, and revolutions, and establishments; we are a grave people, and don't go so rashly to work-at least when we have demolished any thing rashly, we take due time before we repair it. At a distance you may be impatient. We, the most concerned, wait very tranquilly to see the event of chaos. It was given out that nothing would be settled till the Inquiries were at an end. The world very obediently stayed for the time appointed. The Inquiries are at an end, yet nothing is in more forwardness. Foreign nations may imagine (but they must be at a great distance!) that we are so wise and upright a people, that every man performs his part, and thence every thing goes on in its proper order without any government—but I fear, our case is like what astronomers tell us, that if a star was to be annihilated, it would still shine for two months. The Inquiries have been a most important and dull farce, and very fatiguing; we sat six days till past midnight. If you have received my last letter, you have already had a description of what passed just as I foresaw. Mr. Pitt broke out a little the second day, and threatened to secede, and tell the world the iniquity of the majority; but recollecting that the majority might be as useful as the world, he recomposed himself, professed meaning no personalities, swallowed all candour as fast as it was proposed to him, swallowed camels and haggled about gnats, and in a manner let the friends of the old ministry state and vote what resolutions they pleased. They were not modest, but stated away; yet on the last day of the committee, on their moving that no greater force could have been sent to the Mediterranean than was under Byng the triumphant majority shrank to one of seventy-eight, many absenting themselves, and many of the independent sort voting with the minority. This alarmed so much, that the predetermined vote of acquittal or approbation was forced to be dropped, and to their great astonishment the late cabinet is not thanked parliamentarily for having lost Minorca. You may judge what Mr. Pitt might have done, if he had pleased; when, though he starved his own cause, so slender an advantage was obtained against him. I retired before the vote I have mentioned; as Mr. Fox was complicated in it, I would not appear against him, and I could not range myself with a squadron who I think must be the jest of Europe and posterity. It now remains to settle some ministry: Mr. Pitt's friends are earnest, and some of them trafficking for an union with Newcastle. He himself, I believe, maintains his dignity, and will be sued to, not sue. The Duke of Newcastle, who cannot bear to resign the last twilight of the old sun, would join with Fox; but the Chancellor, who hates him, and is alarmed at his unpopularity, and at the power of Pitt with the people, holds back. Bath, Exeter, Yarmouth, and Worcester, have followed the example of london, and sent their freedoms to Pitt and Legge: I suppose Edinburgh will, but instead of giving, will ask for a gold box in return. Here are some new epigrams on the present politics:
TO THE NYMPH OF BATH. Mistaken Nymph, thy gifts withhold; Pitt's virtuous soul despises gold; Grant him thy boon peculiar, health; He'll guard, not covet, Britain's wealth.
Another. The two great rivals London might content, If what he values most to each she sent; Ill was the franchise coupled with the box: Give Pitt the freedom, and the gold to Fox.
ON DR. SHEBBEAR ABUSING Hume CAMPBELL FOR BEING A PROSTITUTE ADVOCATE. 'Tis below you, dear Doctor to worry an elf, Who you know will defend $any thing but himself.
The two first are but middling, and I am bound to think the last so, as it is my own. Shebbear is a broken Jacobite physician, who has threatened to write himself into a place or the pillory: he has Just published a bitter letter to the Duke of Newcastle, which occasioned the above two lines.
The French have seized in their own name the country of Bentheim, a purchase of the King's, after having offered him the most insulting neutrality for Hanover, in the world; they proposed putting a garrison into the strongest Post(785) he has, with twenty other concessions. We have rumours of the Prince of Bevern having beaten the Austrians considerably. I believe, upon review, that this is a mighty indefinite letter; I would have waited for certainties, but not knowing how long that might be, I thought you would prefer this parenthesis of politics.
lord Northumberland's great gallery is finished and opened; it is a sumptuous chamber, but might have been in a better taste. He is wonderfully content with his pictures, and gave me leave to repeat it to you. I rejoiced, as you had been the negotiator—as you was not the painter, you will allow me not to be so profuse of my applause. Indeed I have yet only seen them by candle-light. Mengs's School of Athens pleased me: Pompeio's two are black and hard; Mazucci's Apollo, fade and without beauty; Costanza's piece is abominable. Adieu! till a ministry.
374 Letter 218 To Sir Horace Mann. Arlington Street, May 19, 1757.
We are not yet arrived at having a ministry, but we have had two or three alarms at one. On Monday, the Duke of Devonshire, impatient for a plaything, took the chamberlain's staff and key—these were reckoned certain prognostics; but they were only symptoms Of his childishness. Yesterday it was published that Mr. Pitt's terms were so extravagant, that the Duke of Newcastle could not comply with them—and would take the whole himself—perhaps leave some little trifle for Mr. Fox—to-day all is afloat again, and all negotiations to recommence. Pitt's demands were, that his grace should not meddle in the House of Commons, nor in the province of Secretary of State, but stick to the Treasury, and even there to be controlled by a majority of Mr. Pitt's friends-they were certainly great terms, but he has been taught not to trust less. But it is tautology to dwell on these variations; the inclosed(786 is an exact picture of our situation—and is perhaps the only political paper ever written, in which no man of any party can dislike or deny a single fact. I wrote it in an hour and a half, and you will perceive that it must be the effect of a single thought.
We had big letters yesterday of a total victory of the King of Prussia over the Austrians,(787) with their army dispersed and their general wounded and prisoner—I don't know how, but it is not confirmed yet. You must excuse the brevity of my English letter, in consideration of my Chinese one. Adieu! (786) Letter from Xo Ho, a Chinese philosopher at London, to his friend Lien Chi at Pekin.
(787) This was the battle of Prague, gained by the King of Prussia on the 6th of May, 1757, over the forces of the Empress-Queen, commanded by Prince Charles of Lorraine.-D.
375 Letter 219 To George Montagu, Esq. May 27, 1757.
I have ticketed you with numbers 5832, 58322, 58323, 58324, 58325, 58326; I think you bespoke six. I do not send them by post, unless you order it: but I have writ your name on each, lest in case of accident my executors should put them into my auction, for which you are so impatient, and then you would have to buy them over again.
I am glad you like Xo Ho: I think every body does, which is strange, considering it has no merit but truth. Mrs. Clive cried out like you, "Lord! you will be sent to the Tower!" "Well," said I coolly, "my father was there before me."
Lord Abercorn's picture is extremely like; he seems by the Vandyke habit to be got back into his own times; but nothing is finished yet, except the head.
You will be diverted with a health which my Lady Townshend gave at supper with the Prince t'other night: "'Tis a health you will all like," she said. "Well! what is it?" "The three P's." The boy coloured up to the eyes. After keeping them in suspense some time, she named, Pitt, Peace, and Plenty. The Princess has given Home, the author of Douglas, a hundred a year. Prince and Princess Edward continue to entertain themselves and Ranelagh every night.
I wish your brother and all heirs to estates joy, for old Shutz is dead, and cannot wriggle himself into any more wills. The ministry is not yet hatched; the King of Prussia is conquering the world; Mr. Chute has some murmurs of the gout; and I am yours for ever.
376 Letter 220 To Sir Horace Mann. Arlington Street, June 1, 1757.
After a vacancy of full two months, we are at last likely to have a ministry again—I do not promise you a very lasting one. Last Wednesday the conferences broke off between the Duke of Newcastle and Mr. Pitt; the latter demanding a full restoration of his friends, with the admiralty and a peerage for Mr. Legge, the blue riband and, I believe, Ireland for Lord Temple, and Mr. Grenville for chancellor of the exchequer, with stipulations that no more money should be sent this year to Germany. The last article, the admiralty, and especially the exchequer, were positively refused; and on Friday the Duke went to the King, and consented to be sole minister, insisting that Mr. Fox should be nothing but paymaster, not cabinet-councillor, and have no power; Sir Thomas Robinson to be again secretary of state, and Sir George Lee chancellor of exchequer. For form, he was to retire to Claremont for a few days, to take advice of his oracle, whose answer he had already dictated. Lord Hardwicke refuses the seals; says, he desires nobody should be dismissed for him; if president or privy seal should by any means be vacant, he will accept either, but nothing till Lord Anson is satisfied, for whom he asks treasurer of the navy. The Duke goes to Kensington to-morrow, when all this is to be declared-however, till it is, I shall doubt it. Lord Lincoln and his principal friends are vehement against it; and indeed his grace seems to be precipitating his own ruin. If Mr. Fox could forgive all that is past, which he by no means intends, here are now provocations added—will they invite Mr. Fox's support? Not to mention what Unpopular German steps the Duke must take to recover the King's favour, who is now entirely Fox's; the latter is answerable for nothing, and I believe would not manage inquiries against his grace as Mr. Pitt has—leniently. In short, I think the month of October will terminate the fortunes of the house of Pelham for ever—his supporters are ridiculous; his followers will every day desert to one or other of the two princes(788) of the blood, who head the other factions. Two parts in three of the cabinet, at least half, are attached to Mr. Fox; there the Duke will be overborne; in Parliament will be deserted. Never was a plan concerted with more weakness!
I enclose a most extraordinary print. Mr. Fox has found some caricaturist(789) equal to George Townshend, and who manages royal personages with at least as little ceremony. I have written "Lord Lincoln" over the blue riband, because some people take it for him—likeness there is none: it is certain Lord Lincoln's mother was no whore; she never recovered the death of her husband. The line that follows "son of a whore" seems but too much connected with it; at least the "could say more" is not very merciful. The person of Lord Bute, not his face, is ridiculously like; Newcastle, Pitt, and Lord Temple are the very men. It came out but to-day, and shows how cordial the new union is. Since the Ligue against Henry III. of France, there never was such intemperate freedom with velvet and ermine; never, I believe, where religion was not concerned.
I cannot find by the dates you send me that I have received yours of Jan. 1, and Feb. 12, and I keep all your letters very orderly. Mine of this year to you have been of Jan. 6, 17, 30; Feb. 14; March 3 , 17; April 7, 20; May 5, 19. Tell me if you have received them.
What a King is our Prussian! how his victories come out doubled and trebled above their very fame! My Lady Townshend says, "Lord! how all the Queens will go to see this Solomon! and how they will be disappointed!" How she of Hungary is disappointed! We hear that the French have recalled their green troops, which had advanced for show, and have sent their oldest regiments against the Duke.(790) Our foreign affairs are very serious, but I don't know whether I do not think that our domestic tend to be more so! Adieu!
(788) The Prince of Wales, who espoused Mr. Pitt; and the Duke of Cumberland, Mr. Fox.
(789) This relates to a print that made much noise, called "The Turnstile." The uncertain figure pretended to be Lord Lincoln, but was generally thought to mean the Prince of Wales, whom it resembled; but in the second impression a little demon was inserted to imply ,The Devil over Lincoln." Yet that evasion did not efface the first idea.
(790) The Duke of Cumberland.
377 Letter 221 To George Montagu, Esq. Arlington Street, June 2, 1757.
The ministry is to be settled to-day; there are different accounts how: some say, that the Duke of Newcastle is to take orders and to have the reversion of the bishopric of Winchester: that Mr. Pitt is to have a regiment and to go serve in Germany with the Duke; that Mr. Fox is to have Sir William Irby'S place,(791) and be chamberlain to the Princess; that my Lord Bute is to be divorced and marry Princess Emily; and that my Lord Darlington is to be first minister. Others say, that the Duke of Newcastle is to be sole minister, having broken with Mr. Pitt; that Sir Thomas Robinson is to be again secretary of state; Sir George Lee chancellor of the exchequer, and Mr. Fox paymaster, but with no place in the cabinet, nor any power. I believe the Duke himself has said this; but, as I think the former establishment would be the less ridiculous of the two, I intend to believe that.
I send you your tickets and a curious new print. The blue riband in the corner, and the line that explains it, but leaves it still in the dark, makes much noise. I choose to think it my Lord Lincoln, for, having a tenderness for royalties, I will not suppose, as most do, that it points higher. The rest are certainly admirable: the times are very entertaining; one cannot complain that no Wit is stirring, as one used to do. I never thought I should feel glad for the death of poor Mr. Pelham; but really it has opened such scenes of amusement, that I begin to bear it better than I did. I rejoice to hear that your brother is accommodated, though not by my means. The Duke of Bedford might have reflected, that what I asked was a very trifle, or that I should never have asked it; nay, that if I could have asked a favour of consequence, I should not have applied to himself, but to those who govern him,—to the Duchess and Rigby.
I certainly am glad of rain, but could wish it was boiled a little over the sun first: Mr. Bentley calls this the hard summer, and says he is forced to buy his fine weather at Newcastle. Adieu!
P. S. Pray acknowledge the receipt of your tickets. I don't know how you came not to see the advertisements of Xo Ho, which have been in continually; four editions were published in twelve days.
(791) Vice-chamberlain to the Princess of wales.
378 Letter 222 To Sir Horace Mann. Arlington Street, June 9, 1757.
I must write you a very different story from my last. The day before yesterday the Duke of Newcastle, who had resumed conferences with Mr. Pitt by the intervention of Lord Bute, though they could not agree on particulars, went to Kensington, and told the King he could not act without Mr. Pitt and a great plan of that connexion. The King reproached him with his breach of promise; It seems the King is in the wrong for Lord Lincoln and that court reckon his grace as white as snow, and as steady as virtue itself. Mr. Fox went to court, and consented to undertake the whole—but it is madness! Lord Waldegrave,(792) a worthy man as ever was born, and sensible, is to be the first lord of his treasury. Who is to be any thing else I don't know, for by to-morrow it will rain resignations as it did in the year '46. Lord Holderness has begun, and gave up to-day; the Dukes of Rutland and Leeds and all these Pelhamites are to follow immediately: the standard of opposition is, I believe, ready painted, and is to be hung out at Leicester-house by the beginning of the week. I grieve for Mr. Fox, and have told him so: I see how desperate his game is, but I shall not desert him, though I mean nor meant to profit of his friendship. So many places will be vacant, that I cannot yet guess who will be to fill them. Mr. Fox will be chancellor of the exchequer, and, I think, Lord Egremont one of the secretaries of state. What is certain, great clamour, and I fear. great confusion, will follow. You shall know more particulars in a few days, but at present I have neither time for it, nor knowledge of, more. Adieu!
(792) James second Earl Waldegrave, and first Husband to Maria Duchess of gloucester.
379 Letter 223 To Sir Horace Mann. Arlington Street, June 14, 1757.
This is Tuesday; I wrote to you but on Thursday, and promised to write again in a few days—a week cannot pass without a new revolution. On Friday Mr. Fox found that his kissing hands was to be a signal for the resignations: Lord Rockingham and Lord Coventry were the most eager to give up. The Duke of Newcastle, transported that his breach of promise and ingratitude to the King produced such noble mischief, endeavoured to spread the flame as wide as possible. On Saturday, Mr. Fox and Lord Waldegrave represented the ugly situation of their affairs, and advised against persisting, yet offering to proceed if commanded. The Chief Justice, who was to carry the exchequer seal that morning, enforced this— "Well," said the King, "go tell the others to make what ministry they can; I only insist on two things, that Lord Winchilsea remain where he is, and that Fox be paymaster." These two preliminaries would be enough to prevent the whole, if there were no other obstacles. Lord Winchilsea, indeed, would not act with Newcastle and Pitt, if they would consent; but there are twenty other impediments: Leicester-house can never forgive or endure Fox; and if they could, his and Winchilsea's remaining would keep their friends from resigning, and then how would there be room for Newcastle's zealots or Pitt's martyrs? But what I take to be most difficult of all, is the accommodation between the chiefs themselves: his grace's head and heart seem to be just as young and as old as ever they were; this triumph will intoxicate him; if he could not agree with Pitt, when his prospect was worst, be will not be more firm or more sincere when all his doublings have been rewarded. If his vainglory turns his head, it will make no impression on Pitt, who is as little likely to be awed by another's pageant, as to be depressed by his own slender train. They can't agree—but what becomes of us? There are three factions, just strong enough to make every thing impracticable.
The willing victim, Lord Holderness, is likely to be the most real victim. His situation was exactly parallel to Lord Harrington's,(793) with the addition of the latter's experience. Both the children of fortune, unsupported by talents, fostered by the King's favour, without connexions or interest, deserted him to please this wayward Duke, who, to recover a little favour in the cabinet, sacrificed the first to the King@s resentment, and has prepared to treat the other in the same manner, by protesting that he did not ask the compliment. But no matter for him! I have already told you, and I repeat, that I see no end to these struggles without great convulsions. The provocations, and consequently the resentments, increase with every revolution. Blood royal is mixed in the quarrels: two factions might cease by the victory of either; here is always a third ready to turn the scale. Happily the people care or interest themselves very little about all this-but they will be listed soon, as the chiefs grow so much in earnest, and as there are men of such vast property engaged on every side-there is not a public pretence on any. The scramble is avowedly for power-whoever remains master of the field at last, I fear, will have power to use it!
This is not the sole uneasiness at Kensington; they know the proximity of the French army to the Duke, and think that by this time there may have been an action: the suspense is not pleasant: the event may have great consequences even on these broils at home. For the King of Prussia, he is left to the coffee-houses. Adieu! I can scarce steal a day for Strawberry; if one leaves London to itself for four-and-twenty hours, one finds it topsy-turvy.
(793) William Stanhope, Earl of Harrington, who, though a younger brother, had been raised to an earldom, to be Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and Secretary of State, had been the first man to resign his place in 1746, when the King, his master and benefactor, had a mind to remove the Pelhams, and make Lord Granville prime minister. He was afterwards sacrificed by the Pelhams to please the King. Lord Holderness was born to an earldom, but having little fortune or parts, had been promoted by the Duke of Newcastle to great posts.
380 Letter 224 To Sir Horace Mann. Strawberry Hill, June 20, 1757.
I renounce all prophesying; I will never suppose that I can foresee politically; I can foresee nothing, what ever I may foretell. Here is a ministry formed of all the people who for these ten weeks have been giving each other exclusion! I will now not venture, even to pronounce that they cannot agree together. On Saturday last, the 18th, Lord Hardwicke carried to Kensington the result of the last negotiations between Newcastle and Pitt, and the latter followed and actually kissed hands again for the seals.(794) Here is the arrangement as far as I know it, the most extraordinary part of which is, that they suffer Mr. Fox to be paymaster—oh! no, it is more extraordinary that he will submit to be so. His grace returns to the treasury, and replaces there his singular good friend Mr. Legge. Lord Holderness "comes to life again as secretary of state; Lord Anson reassumes the admiralty, not with the present board, nor with his own, but with Mr. Pitt's, and this by Mr. Pitt's own desire. The Duke of Dorset retires with a pension of 4000 pounds a-year, to make room for Lord Gower, that he may make room for Lord Temple. Lord George Sackville forces out Lord Barrington from secretary at war, who was going to resign with the rest, for fear Mr. Fox should, and that this plan should not take place. Lord Hardwicke, young disinterested creature! waits till something drops. Thus far all was smooth; but even this perfection of harmony and wisdom meets with rubs. Lord Halifax had often and lately been promised to be erected into a secretary of state for the West Indies. Mr. Pitt says, "No, I will not part with so much power." Lord Halifax resigned on Saturday, and Lord Dublin succeeds him. The two Townshends are gone into the country in a rage; Lord Anson is made the pretence; Mr. Fox is the real sore to George, Lord G. Sackville to Charles. Sir George Lee, who resigned his treasurership to the Princess against Mr. Pitt, and as the world says, wanting to bring Lord Bute into Doctors' Commons,(795) is succeeded by Lord Bute's brother M'Kinsy; but to be sure, all this, in which there is no intrigue, no change, no policy, no hatred, no jealousy, no disappointment, no resentment, no mortification, no ambition, Will produce the utmost concord! It is a system formed to last; and to be sure it will! In the mean time, I shall bid adieu to politics; my curiosity is satisfied for some months, and I shall betake myself to employments I love better, and to this place, which I love best of all. Here is the first fruit of my retirement; behind a bas-relief in wax of the present Pope I have writ the following inscription:
Prospero Lambertini Bishop of Rome by the name of Benedict IV. who, though an absolute Prince, reigned as harmlessly as a Doge of Venice. He restored the lustre of the Tiara by those arts alone, by which alone he obtained it, his Virtues. Beloved by Papists, esteemed by Protestants: A Priest without insolence or interest; A Prince without favourites; A Pope without nepotism: An Author without vanity; In short, a Man whom neither Wit nor Power could spoil. The Son of a favourite Minister, but One, who never courted a Prince, nor worshipped a Churchman, offers, in a free Protestant Country, this deserved Incense to the Best of the Roman Pontiffs.
If the good old soul is still alive, and you could do it unaffectedly and easily, you may convey it to him; it must be a satisfaction to a good heart to know that in so distant a country, so detached from his, his merit is acknowledged, without a possibility of interest entering into the consideration. His death-bed does not want comfort or cheerfulness, but it may be capable of an expansion of heart that May still sweeten it! Adieu!
(794) "On the day they were all to kiss hands," says Lord Waldegrave, "I went to Kensington, to entertain myself with the innocent, or, perhaps, ill-natured amusement of examining the different countenances. The behaviour of Pitt and his party was decent and sensible; they had neither the insolence of men who had gained a victory, nor were they awkward and disconcerted, like those who come to a place where they know they are not welcome: but as to the Duke of Newcastle, and his friends the resigners, there was a mixture of fear and of shame on their countenances: they were real objects of compassion." Memoires, 138.-E.
(795) Meaning the offence he took at Lord Bute's favourite. Sir George Lee was a civilian.
382 Letter 225 To Sir Horace Mann. Strawberry Hill, July 3, 1757.
I have been under great uneasiness about you; Coloredo, the Austrian minister, is recalled precipitately, with orders not to take leave. our papers joined Pucci(796) with him in this recall, but I do not find with any foundation. However, I cannot be easy while your situation is precarious. One should conceive that the advantages of the English trade to Tuscany would induce the Emperor to preserve a neutrality; but what are good reasons against his wife's vengeance and obstinacy, and haughtiness? Tell me immediately what you think or hear on this head; what steps you would take; whither you would retire if this should happen; whether you would not come home to watch over your own interest and return, or whether you would be more in the way by remaining in Italy. I know not what to advise; I don't even know how this letter is to get to you, and how our correspondence will continue; at least it must be very irregular, now all communication is cut off through the Empress's dominions. I am in great solicitude!
Had this recall happened a week later I should not have wondered: it was haughty, indeed, at the time it was dictated; but two days, and we heard of the reversal of all the King of Prussia's triumphs; of his being beat by Count Daun; of the siege of Prague being raised: of Prince Charles falling on their retreat and cutting off two thousand: we would willingly not believe to the extent of all this,(797) yet we have known what it is to have our allies or ourselves beaten! The Duke has been forced to pass the Weser, but writes that the French are so distressed for provisions that he hopes to repass it. I notified to you the settlement of the ministry, and, contrary to late custom, have not to unnotify it again. However, it took ten days to complete, after an inter-ministerium of exactly three months. I have often called this the age of abortions; for the present, the struggles of the three factions, that threatened such disturbances, have gone off like other forebodings. I think I told you in my last the chief alterations; the King would not absolutely give the secretary at war to Lord George Sackville; Lord Barrington remains: the Duke of Dorset would not take a pension eo nomine; his cinque-ports are given to him for life, with a salary of four thousand pounds a-year. Lord Cholmondeley, who is removed for Potter, has a pension equal to his place. Mr. M'Kinsy is not treasurer to the Princess, as I told you. One of the most extraordinary parts of the new system is the advancement of Sir Robert Henley. He was made attorney-general by Mr. Fox at the end of last year, and made as bad a figure as might be. Mr. Pitt insisting upon an attorney-general of his own, Sir Robert Henley is made lord keeper!(798) The first mortification to Lord Holderness has been, that, having been promised a garter as well as Lord Waldegrave, and but one being vacant, that one, contrary to customs has been given to the latter, with peculiar marks of grace. I now come to your letter of June 18th, and attribute to your distance, or to my imperfect representations of our actors and affairs, that you suppose our dissensions owing to French intrigues—we want no foreign causes; but in so precarious a letter as this I cannot enter into farther explanations; indeed the French need not be at any trouble to distract or weaken our councils!
I cannot be at peace while your fate is in suspense; I shall watch every step that relates to it, but I fear absolutely impotent to be of any service to you: from Pucci's not being recalled, I would hope that he will not be. Adieu!
P. S. Lord Dublin is not yet first lord of trade; there are negotiations for recovering Lord Halifax.
As I was sending this to London I received the newspapers of yesterday, and see that old Pucci is just dead. I cannot help flattering myself that this is a favourable event: they cannot recall no minister; and when they do not, I think we shall not.
(796) Resident from Florence. He was here for fifty years, and said he had seen London twice built. This meant, that houses are run up so slightly that they last but few years.
(797) the King of Prussia had been completely beaten at Kolin by the Austrians, commanded by Count Daun, on the 17th of June. He was in consequence obliged to retreat from Bohemia, and soon found himself, surrounded as he was by increasing and advancing enemies, in one of the most critical positions of his whole military life. From this he at length extricated himself, by means of the victories of Rosbach and Lissa.-D.
(798) Afterwards created Lord Henley, and made lord chancellor, and finally elevated to be Earl of Northington-D.
383 Letter 226 To The Earl Of Strafford. Strawberry Hill, July 4, 1757.
My dear Lord, It is well I have not obeyed you sooner, as I have often been going to do.- what a heap of lies and contradictions I should have sent you! What joint ministries and sole ministries! What acceptances and resignations!—Viziers and bowstrings never succeeded one another quicker. Luckily I have stayed till we have got an administration that will last a little more than for ever. There is such content and harmony in it, that I don't know whether it is not as perfect as a plan which I formed for Charles Stanhope, after he had plagued me for two days for news. I told him the Duke of Newcastle was to take orders, and have the reversion of the bishopric of Winchester; that Mr. Pitt was to have a regiment, and go over to the Duke; and Mr. Fox to be chamberlain to the Princess, in the room of Sir William Irby. Of all the new system I believe the happiest is Offley; though in great humility he says he only takes the bedchamber to accommodate. Next to him in joy is the Earl of Holderness—who has not got the garter. My Lord Waldegrave has; and the garter by this time I believe has got fifty spots.(799)
Had I written sooner, I should have told your lordship, too, of the King of Prussia's triumphs-but they are addled too! I hoped to have had a few bricks from Prague to send you towards building Mr. Bentley's design, but I fear none will come from thence this summer. Thank God, the happiness of the menagerie does not depend upon administrations or victories! The happiest of beings in this part of the world is my Lady Suffolk: I really think her acquisition and conclusion of her lawsuit will lengthen her life ten years. You may be sure I am not so satisfied, as Lady Mary(800) has left Sudbroke. Are your charming lawns burnt up like our humble hills? Is your sweet river as low as our deserted Thames?—I am wishing for a handful or two of those floods that drowned me last year all the way from Wentworth Castle. I beg my best compliments to my lady, and my best wishes that every pheasant egg and peacock egg may produce as many colours as a harlequin-jacket.
Tuesday, July 5.
Luckily, my good lord, my conscience had saved its distance. I had writ the above last night, when I received the honour of your kind letter this morning. You had, as I did not doubt, received accounts of all our strange histories. For that of the pretty Countess,(801) I fear there is too much truth in all you have heard: but you don't seem to know that Lord Corydon and Captain Corydon(802) his brother have been most abominable. I don't care to write scandal; but when I see you, I will tell you how much the chits deserve to be whipped. Our favourite general(803) is at his camp: lady Ailesbury don't go to him these three weeks. I expect the pleasure of seeing her and Miss Rich and Fred. Campbell here soon for a few days. I don't wonder your lordship likes St. Philippe better than Torcy:(804) except a few passages interesting to Englishmen, there cannot be a more dry narration than the latter. There is an addition of seven volumes of Universal History to Voltaire's Works, which I think will charm you: I almost like it the best of his works.(805) It is what you have seen extended, and the Memoirs of Louis XIV. refondues in it. He is a little tiresome with contradicting La Beaumelle out of pique—and there is too much about Rousseau. Between La Beaumelle and Voltaire, one remains with scarce a fixed idea about that time. I wish they would produce their authorities and proofs; without which, I am grown to believe neither. From mistakes in the English part, I suppose there are great ones in the more distant histories; yet altogether it is a fine work. He is, as one might believe, worst informed on the present times. He says eight hundred persons were put to death for the last rebellion-I don't believe a quarter of the number were: and he makes the first ]lord Derwentwater—who, poor man! was in no such high-spirited mood—bring his son, who by the way was not above a year -,ind a half old, upon the scaffold to be sprinkled with his blood. However, he is in the right to expect to be believed: for he believes all the romances in Lord Anson's Voyage, and how Admiral Almanzor made one man-of-war box the ears of the whole empire of China!—I know nothing else new but a new edition of Dr. Young's Works. If your lordship thinks like me, who hold that even in his most frantic rhapsodies there are innumerable fine things you will like to have this edition. Adieu, once more, my best lord!
(799) He was apt to be dirty.
(800) Lady Mary Coke, daughter of John Campbell, Duke of Argyle, and sister to Lady Strafford.
(801) The Countess of Coventry.-E.
(802) Lord Bolingbroke, and his brother, the Hon. Henry St. John.-E.
(803) General Conway.
(804) A translation of the Memoirs of the Marquis de Torcy, secretary of state to Louis XIV., had just been published in London. E.
(805) For a review of these volumes by Oliver Goldsmith, see the enlarged edition of his Miscellaneous Works, vol. iii. p. 445.- E.
385 Letter 227 To John Chute, Esq. Strawberry Hill, July 12, 1757.
It would be very easy to persuade me to a Vine-voyage,(806) without your being so indebted to me, if it were possible. I shall represent my impediments, and then you shall judge. I say nothing of the heat of this magnificent weather, with the glass yesterday up to three-quarters of sultry. In all English probability this will not be a hindrance long; though at present, so far from travelling, I have made the tour of my own garden but once these three days before eight at night, and then I thought I should have died of it. For how many years we shall have to talk of the summer of fifty-seven!—But hear: my Lady Ailesbury and Miss Rich come hither on Thursday for two or three days; and on Monday next the Officina Arbuteana opens in form. The Stationers' Company, that is, Mr. Dodsley, Mr. Tonson, etc., are summoned to meet here on Sunday night. And with what do you think we open? Cedite, Romani Impressores—with nothing under Graii Carmina. I found him in town last week: he had brought his two Odes to be printed. I snatched them out of Dodsley's hands, and they are to be the first fruits of my press. An edition of Hentznerus, with a version by Mr. Bentley and a little preface of mine, were prepared, but are to wait. Now, my dear sir, can I stir? "Not ev'n thy virtues, tyrant, shall avail!"
Is not it the plainest thing in the world that I cannot go to you yet, but that you must come to me?
I tell you no news, for I know none, think of none. Elzevir, Aldous, and Stephens are the freshest personages in my memory. Unless i was appointed printer of the Gazette, I think nothing could at present make me read an article in it. Seriously you must come to us, and shall be witness that the first holidays we have I will return with you. Adieu!
(806) To visiting Mr. Chute at the Vine, his seat in Hampshire.
386 Letter 228 To George Montagu, Esq. Strawberry Hill, July 16, 1757.
You do me justice in believing that I enjoy your satisfaction; I do heartily, and particularly on this point: you know how often I have wished this reconciliation: indeed you have taken the handsomest manner of doing it, and it has been accepted handsomely. I always had a good opinion of your cousin, and I am not apt to throw about my esteem lightly. He has ever behaved with sense and dignity, and this country has more obligations to him than to most men living.
the weather has been so hot, and we are so unused to it, that nobody knew how to behave themselves; even Mr. Bentley has done shivering.
Elzevirianum opens to-day; you shall taste its first fruits. I find people have a notion that it is very mysterious; they don't know how I should abhor to profane Strawberry Hill with politics. Adieu!
386 Letter 229 To George Montagu, Esq. Strawberry Hill, Thursday, 17.
I only write you a line to tell you, that as you mention Miss Montagu's being well and alone, if she could like to accompany the Colonel(807) and you to Strawberry Hill and the Vine, the seneschals of those castles will be very proud to see her. I am sorry to be forced to say any thing civil in a letter to you; you deserve nothing but ill-usage for disappointing us so often, but we stay till we have got you into our power, and then—why then, I am afraid we shall still be what I have been so long.
(807) mr. Montagu's brother.
387 Letter 230 To Sir Horace Mann. Strawberry Hill, July 25, 1757.
The Empress-Queen has not yet hurt my particular. I have received two letters from you within this week, dated July 2d and 9th. Yet she has given up Ostend and Nieuport, and, I think, Furnes and Ypr'es, to the French. We are in a piteous way! The French have passed the Weser, and a courier yesterday brought word that the Duke was marching towards them, and within five miles: by this time his fate is decided. The world here is very inquisitive about a secret expedition(808) which we are fitting out: a letter is not a proper place to talk about it; I can only tell you, that be it whither it will, I do not augur well about it, and what makes me dislike it infinitely more, Mr. Conway is of it. I am more easy about your situation than I was, though I do not like the rejoicings ordered at Leghorn for the victory over the Prussians.
I have so little to say to-day that I should not have writ, but for one particular reason. The Mediterranean trade being arrived, I concluded the vases for Mr. Fox were on board it, but we cannot discover them. Unluckily it happens that the bill of lading is lost, and I have forgot in what ship they were embarked. In short, my dear Sir, I think that, as I always used to do, I gave the bill to your dearest brother, by which means it is lost. I imagine you have a duplicate. send it as soon as you can.
I thank you for what you have given to Mr. Phelps. I don't call this billet part of the acknowledgment. All the world is dispersed: the ministers are at their several villas: one day in a week serves to take care of a nation, let it be in as bad a plight as it will! We have a sort of Jewish superstition, and would not come to town on a Saturday or Sunday though it were to defend the Holy of Holies. Adieu!
(808) the expedition to Rochfort.
387 Letter 231 To John Chute, Esq. Strawberry Hill, July 26, 1757.
I love to communicate my satisfactions to you. You will imagine that I have got an original portrait of John Guttemburg, the first inventor of printing, or that I have met with a little boke called Eneyr dos, which I am going to translate and print. No, no; far beyond any such thing! Old Lady Sandwich(809) is dead at Paris, and my lord has given me her picture of Ninon l'Enclos; given it me in the prettiest manner in the world. I beg if he should ever meddle in any election in Hampshire, that you will serve him to the last drop of your shrievalty. If you reckon by the thermometer of my natural impatience, the picture would be here already, but I fear I must wait some time for it.
The press goes on as fast as if I printed myself. I hope in a very few days to send you a specimen, though I could wish you was at the birth of the first produce. Gray has been gone these five days. Mr. Bentley has been ill, and is not recovered of the sweating-sickness, which I now firmly believe was only a hot summer and England, being so unused to it, took it for a malady. mr. Muntz is not gone; but pray don't think that I keep him: he has absolutely done nothing this whole summer but paste two chimney-boards. In short, instead of Claude Lorrain, he is only one of Bromwich's men.
You never saw any thing so droll as Mrs. Clive's countenance, between the heat of the summer, the pride in her legacy,(810) and the efforts to appear concerned.
We have given ourselves for a day or two the air of an earthquake, but it proved an explosion of the powder-mills at Epsom. I asked Louis if it had done any mischief: he said, "Only blown a man's head off;" as if that was a part one could spare!
P. S. I hope Dr. Warburton will not think I encroach either upon his commentatorship or private pretension, if I assume these lines of Pope, thus altered, for myself:
"Some have for wits, and then for poets pass'd turn'd printers next, and proved plain fools at last."
(809) Daughter of the famous Wilmot Earl of Rochester.
(810) A legacy of fifty pounds, left her by John Robarts, the last Earl of Radnor of that family.
388 Letter 232 To Sir Horace Mann. Strawberry Hill, August 4, 1757.
Mr. Phelps (who is Mr. Phelps?) has brought me the packet safe, for which I thank you. I would fain have persuaded him to stay and dine, that I might ask him more questions about you. He told me how low your immaterial spirits are: I fear the news that came last night will not exalt them. The French attacked the Duke for three days together, and at last defeated him. I find it is called at Kensington an encounter(811) of fourteen squadrons; but any defeat must be fatal to Hanover. I know few particulars, and those only by a messenger despatched to me by Mr. Conway on the first tidings: the Duke exposed himself extremely, but is unhurt, as they say, all his small family are. In what a situation is our Prussian hero, surrounded by Austrians, French, and Muscovites-even impertinent Sweden is stealing in to pull a feather out of his tail! What devout plunderers will every little Catholic prince of the empire become! The only good I hope to extract out of this mischief is, that it will stifle our secret expedition, and preserve Mr. Conway from going on it. I have so ill an opinion of our secret expeditions, that I hope they will for ever remain so. What a melancholy picture is there of an old monarch at Kensington, who has lived to see such inglorious and fatal days! Admiral Boscawen is disgraced. I know not the cause exactly, as ten miles out of town are a thousand out of politics. He is said to have refused to serve under Sir Edward Hawke in this armament. Shall I tell you what, more than distance, has thrown me Out of attention to news? A little packet which I shall give your brother for you, will explain it. In short, I am turned printer, and have converted a little cottage here into a printing-office. My abbey is a perfect colicue or academy. I keep a painter in the house and a printer—not to mention Mr. Bentley, who is an academy himself. I send you two copies (one for Dr. Cocchi) of a very honourable opening of my press- -two amazing Odes of Mr. Gray; they are Greek, they are Pindaric, they are sublime! consequently I fear a little obscure; the second particularly, by the confinement of the measure and the nature of prophetic vision, is mysterious.(812) I could not persuade him to add more notes; he says whatever wants to be explained, don't deserve to be. I shall venture to place some in Dr. Cocchi's copy, who need not be supposed to understand Greek- and English together, though he is so much master of both separately. To divert you in the mean time, I send you the following copy of a letter written by my printer(813) to a friend in Ireland. I should tell you that he has the most sensible look in the world; Garrick said he would give any money for four actors with such eyes—they are more Richard the Third's than Garrick's own; but whatever his eyes are, is head is Irish. Looking for something I wanted in a drawer, I perceived a parcel of strange romantic words in a large hand beginning a letter; he saw me see it, yet left it, which convinces me it was left on purpose: it is the grossest flattery to me, couched in most ridiculous scraps of poetry, which he has retained from things he has printed; but it will best describe itself:—