"And from my soul sincerely hate Both Kings and Ministers of State!"
I don't know whether I can attain any goodness by shunning them, I am sure their society is contagious Yet I will never advertise my detestation, for if I professed virtue, I should expect to be suspected of designing to be a minister. Adieu! you are good, and wilt keep yourself so.
I had sealed my letter, but as it cannot go away till to-morrow, I open it again on receiving yours of Sept. 9th. I don't understand Marshal Botta's being so well satisfied with our taking Louisbourg. Are the Austrians disgusted with the French? Do they begin to repent their alliance? or has he so much sense as to know what improper allies they have got? It is very right in you who are a minister, to combat hostile Ministers—had I been at Florence, I should not have so much contested the authority of the Abb'e de Ville's performance: I have no more doubt of' the convention of Closter-Severn having been scandalously broken, than it was shamelessly disavowed by those who commanded it.
In our loss are included some of our volunteers; a Sir John Armitage, a young man of fortune, just come much into the world, and engaged to the sister(958) of the hot-headed and cool-tongued Lord Howe; a Mr. Cocks, nephew of lady Hardwicke, who could not content himself with seven thousand pounds a-year, without the addition of an ensign's commission - he was not quite recovered of a wound he had got at CHerbourg. The royal volunteer, Prince Edward, behaved with much spirit. Adieu!
(955) Mr. Pitt.-D.
(956) two brothers, successively Lords Howe, were remarkably silent.
(957) The battle of Zorndorf.-D.
(958) Mary, their youngest sister, was afterwards married to General Pitt, brother of George Lord Rivers.
453 Letter 286 To George Montagu, Esq. Arlington Street, Oct. 3, 1758.
having no news to send you, but the massacre of St. Cas,(959) not agreeable enough for a letter, I stayed till I had something to send you, and behold a book! I have delivered to portly old Richard, your ancient nurse, the new produce of the Strawberry press. You know that the wife of Bath is gone to maunder at St. Peter, and before he could hobble to the gate, my Lady Burlington, cursing and blaspheming, overtook t'other Countess, and both together made such an uproar, that the cock flew up into the tree of life for safety, and St. Peter himself turned the key and hid himself; and as nobody could get into t'other world, half the Guards are come back again, and appeared in the park to-day, but such dismal ghostly figures, that my Lady Townshend was really frightened, and is again likely to turn Methodist.
Do you design, or do you not, to look at Strawberry as you come to town? if you do. I will send a card to my neighbour, Mrs. Holman, to meet you any day five weeks that you please—or I can amuse you without cards; such fat bits of your dear dad, old Jemmy, as I have found among the Conway papers, such morsels of all sorts! but come and see. Adieu!
(959) The army that took the town of Cherbourg, landed again on the coast of France near St. Maloes, but was forced to reimbark in the Bay of St. Cas with the loss of a thousand men.
454 Letter 287 To The Rev. Henry Zouch. Strawberry Hill, October 5th, 1758.
Sir, You make so many apologies for conferring great favours on me, that if you have not a care. I shall find it more convenient to believe that, instead of being grateful, I shall be very good if I am forgiving. If I am impertinent enough to take up this style, at least I promise you I will be very good, and I will certainly pardon as many obligations as you shall please to lay on me.
I have that Life of Richard II. It is a poor thing, and not even called in the title-page Lord Holles's; it is a still lower trick of booksellers to insert names of authors in a catalogue, which, with all their confidence, they do not venture to bestow on the books themselves; I have found several instances of this.
Lord Preston's Boetius I have. From Scotland, I have received a large account of Lord Cromerty, which will appear in my next edition: as my copy is in the press, I do not exactly remember if there is the Tract on Precedency: he wrote a great number of things, and was held it) great contempt living and dead.(960)
I have long sought, and wished to find, some piece of Duke Humphrey:(961) he was a great patron of learning, built the schools, I think, and gave a library to Oxford. Yet, I fear, I may not take the authority of Pits, who is a wretched liar; nor is it at all credible that in so blind an age a Prince, who, with all his love of learning, I fear, had very little of either learning or parts, should write on Astronomy;—had it been on Astrology, it might have staggered me.
My omission of Lord Halifax's maxims was a very careless one, and has been rectified. I did examine the Musae Anglicaanae, and I think found a copy or two, and at first fancied I had found more, till I came to examine narrowly. In the Joys and Griefs of Oxford and Cambridge, are certainly many noble copies; but you judge very right, Sir—they are not to be mentioned, no more than exercises at school, where, somehow or other, every peer has been a poet. To my shame, you are still more in the right about the Duke of Buckingham: if you will give me leave, instead of thinking that he Wrote, hoping to be mistaken for his predecessor, I will believe that he hoped so after he had written.
You are again in the right, Sir, about Lord Abercorn, as the present lord himself informed me. I don't know Lord Godolphin's verses: at most, by your account, he should be in the Appendix; but if they are only signed Sidney Godolphin, they may belong to his uncle, who, if I remember rightly, was one of the troop of verse-writers of that time.
You have quite persuaded me of the mistake in Mindas; till you mentioned it, I had forgot that they wrote Windsor "Windesore," and then by abbreviation the mistake was easy.
The account of Lord Clarendon is printed off; I do mention as printed his account of Ireland, though I knew nothing of Borlase. Apropos, Sir, are you not glad to see that the second part of his history is actually advertised to come out soon after Christmas?(962)
Lord Nottingham's letter I shall certainly mention.
I yesterday sent to Mr. Whiston a little piece that I have just mentioned here, and desired him to convey it to you; you must not expect a great deal from it: yet it belongs so much to my Catalogue, that I thought it a duty to publish it. A better return to some of your civilities is to inform you of Dr. Jortin's Life of Erasmus, with which I am much entertained. There are numberless anecdotes of men thought great in their day, now as much forgotten, that it grows valuable again to hear about them. The book is written with great moderation and goodness of heart: the style is not very striking, and has some vulgarisms, and In a work of that bulk I should rather have taken more pains to digest and connect it into a flowing narrative, than drily give it as a diary: yet I dare promise it will amuse you much.
With your curiosity, Sir, and love of information, I am sure you will be glad to hear of a most valuable treasure that I have discovered; it is the collection of state papers,(963) amassed by the two Lords Conway, that were secretaries of state, and their family: vast numbers have been destroyed; yet I came time enough to retrieve vast numbers, many, indeed, in a deplorable condition. They were buried under lumber' upon the pavement of an unfinished chapel, at Lord Hertford's in Warwickshire, and during his minority, and the absence of his father, an ignorant steward delivered them over to the oven and kitchen, and yet had not been able to destroy them all. It is a vast work to dry, range, and read them, and to burn the useless, as bills, bonds, and every other kind of piece of paper that ever came into a house, and were all jumbled and matted together. I propose, by degrees, to print the most curious; of which, I think, I have already selected enough to form two little volumes of the size of my Catalogue. Yet I will not give too great expectations about them, because I know how often the public has been disappointed when they came to see in print what in manuscript has appeared to the editor wonderfully choice.
(960) We can hardly account for this expression, unless Mr. Walpole alludes to Lord Cromerty's political reputation. Macky states, that " his arbitrary proceedings had rendered him so obnoxious to the people, he could not be employed;" and, certainly, his character for consistency and integrity was not very exalted: but almost all contemporary writers describe him as a man of great weight and of singular endowments; and Walpole himself, in his subsequent editions, calls him "a person eminent for his learning, and for his abilities as a statesman and general."-C.
(961) That Duke Humphrey had at least a relish for learning, may be inferred from the following passage. At the close of a fine manuscript in the Cotton collection (Nero E. v.) is "Origo et processus gentis Scotorum, ae de superioritate Regum Angliae super regnum illud." It once belonged to Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, and has this Sentence in his own handwriting at the end, "Cest livre est 'a moy Homfrey Duc de Gloucestre, lequel j'achetay des executeurs de maistre Thomas Polton, feu evesque de Wurcestre." Bishop Polton died in 1436.-C.
(962) The second part of Lord Clarendon's history was printed in folio, in 1760, and also in three volumes octavo.-C.
(963) The increased and increasing taste of the public for the materials of history, such as these valuable papers supply, will, we have reason to hope, be gratified by the approaching appearance of this collection, publication of which was, we see, contemplated even as long since as 1758.-C.
456 Letter 288 To The Right Hon. Lady Hervey. Arlington Street, Oct. 17, 1758.
Your ladyship, I hope, will not think that such a strange thing as my own picture seems of consequence enough to me to write a letter about it: but obeying your commands does seem so; lest you should return and think I had neglected it, I must say that I have come to town three several times on purpose, but Mr. Ramsay (I will forgive him) has been constantly Out of town. So much for that.
I would have sent you word that the King of Portugal coming along the road at midnight, which was in his own room at noon, his foot slipped, and three balls went through his body; which, however, had no other consequence than giving him a stroke of a palsy, of which he is quite recovered, except being dead.(964) Some, indeed, are so malicious as to say, that the Jesuits, who are the most conscientious men in the world, murdered him, because he had an intrigue with another man's wife: but all these histories I supposed your ladyship knew better than me, as, till I came to town yesterday, I imagined you was returned. For my own part, about whom you are sometimes so good as to interest yourself, I am as well as can be expected after the murder of a king and the death of a person of the next consequence to a king, the master of the ceremonies, poor Sir Clement,(965) who is supposed to have been suffocated by my Lady Macclesfield's(966) kissing hands.
This will be a melancholy letter, for I have nothing to tell your ladyship but tragical stories. Poor Dr. Shawe(967) being sent for in great haste to Claremont—(It seems the Duchess had caught a violent cold by a hair of her own whisker getting up her nose and making her sneeze)—the poor Doctor, I say, having eaten a few mushrooms before he set out, was taken so ill, that he was forced to stop at Kingston; and, being carried to the first apothecary's, prescribed a medicine for himself which immediately cured him. This catastrophe so alarmed the Duke of Newcastle, that he immediately ordered all the mushroom beds to be destroyed, and even the toadstools in the park did not escape scalping in this general massacre. What I tell you is literally true. Mr. Stanley, who dined there last Sunday, and is not partial against that court, heard the edict repeated, and confirmed it to me last night. And a voice of lamentation was heard at Ramah in Claremont, Chlo'e(968) weeping for her mushrooms, and they are not!
After all these important histories, I would try to make you smile, If I was not afraid you would resent a little freedom taken with a great name. May I venture?
"Why Taylor the quack calls himself Chevalier, 'Tis not easy a reason to render; Unless blinding eyes, that he thinks to make clear, Demonstrates he's but a Pretender.
A book has been left at your ladyship's house; it is Lord Whitworth's Account of Russia.(969) Monsieur Kniphausen has promised me some curious anecdotes of the Czarina Catherine-so my shop is likely to flourish. I am your ladyship's most obedient servant.
(964) Alluding to the incoherent stories told at the time of the assassination of the King of Portugal. [The following is the correct account:—As the King was taking The air in his coach on the 3d September, attended by only one domestic, he was attacked in a solitary lane near Belem by three men, one of whom discharged his carbine at the coachman, and wounded him dangerously; the other two fired their blunderbusses at the King, loaded with pieces of iron, and wounded him in the face and several parts of his body, but chiefly in the right arm, which disabled him for a long time.
(965) Sir Clement Cotterel.
(966) She had been a common woman.
(967) Physician to the Duke and Duchess of Newcastle.
(968) The Duke of Newcastle's cook.
(969) A small octavo printed at the Strawberry Hill press, to which Walpole prefixed a preface. Charles Whitworth, in 1720, created Baron Whitworth of Galway, was ambassador to the court of petersburgh in the reign of Peter the Great. On his death, in 1725, the title became extinct.-E.
457 Letter 289 To The Hon. H. S. Conway.(970) Arlington Street, Oct. 17, 1758.
I have read your letter, as you may believe, with the strictest attention, and will tell you my thoughts as sincerely as you do and have a right to expect them.
In the first place, I think you far from being under any obligation for this notice. If Mr. Pitt is sensible that he has used you very ill, is it the part of an honest man to require new submissions, new supplications from the person he has injured? If he thinks you proper to command, as one must suppose by this information, is it patriotism that forbids him to employ an able officer, unless that officer sues to be employed? Does patriotism bid him send out a man that has had a stroke of a palsy, preferable to a young man of vigour and capacity, only because the latter has made' no Application within these two months!—But as easily as I am inclined to believe that your merit makes its way even through the cloud of Mr. Pitt's proud prejudices, yet I own in the present case I question it. I can see two reasons why he should wish to entice you to this application: the first is, the clamour against his giving all commands to young or improper officers is extreme; Holmes, appointed admiral of the blue but six weeks ago, has writ a warm letter on the chapter of subaltern commanders: the second, and possibly connected in his mind with the former, may be this; he would like to refuse you, and then say, you had asked when it was too late; and at the same time would have to say that he would have employed you if you had asked sooner. This leads me to the point of time: Hobson is not Only appointed,(971) but Haldane, though going governor to Jamaica, is made a brigadier and joined to him,—Colonel Barrington set out to Portsmouth last night. All these reasons, I think, make it very improper for you to ask this command now. You have done more than enough to satisfy your honour, and will certainly have opportunities again of repeating offers of your service. But though it may be right to ask in general to serve, I question much if it is advisable to petition for particulars, any failure in which would be charged entirely on you. I should wish to have you vindicated by the rashness of Mr. Pitt and the miscarriages of others, as I think they hurry to -make you be; but while he bestows only impracticable commands, knowing that, if there is blood enough shed, the city of London will be content even with disappointments, I hope you will not be sacrificed either to the mob or the minister. And this leads me to the article of the expedition itself. Martinico is the general notion; a place the strongest in the world, with a garrison of ten thousand men. Others now talk of Guadaloupe, almost as strong and of much less consequence. Of both, every body that knows, despairs. It is almost impossible for me to find out the real destination.' I avoid every one of the three factions—and though I might possibly learn the secret from the chief of one of them, if he knows it, yet I own I do not care to try; I don't think it fair to thrust myself into secrets with a man (972) of whose ambition and views I do not think well, and whose purposes (in those lights) I have declined and will decline to serve. Besides, I have reason just now to think that he and his court are meditating some attempt which may throw us again into confusion; and I had rather not be told what I am sure I shall not approve: besides, I cannot ask secrets of this nature without hearing more with which I would not be trusted, and which, if divulged, would be imputed to me. I know you will excuse me for these reasons, especially as you know how much I would do to serve you, and would even in this case, if I was not convinced that it is too late for you to apply; and being too late, they would be glad to say you had asked too late. Besides if any information could be got from the channel at which I have hinted, the Duke of Richmond could get it better than I; and the Duke of Devonshire could give it you without.
I can have no opinion of the expedition itself, which certainly started from the disappointment at St. Cas, if it can be called a disappointment where there was no object. I have still more doubts on Lord Milton's authority; Clarke(973) was talked to by the Princess yesterday much more than any body in the room. Cunningham is made quartermaster-general to this equipment; these things don't look as if your interest was increased. As Lord George has sent over his commands for Cunningham, might not his art at the same time have suggested some application to you—tell me, do you think he would ask this command for himself I, who am not of so honest and sincere a nature as you are, suspect that this hint is sent to you with some bad view-I don't mean on Lord Milton's part, who I dare say is deceived by his readiness to serve you; and since you do me the honour of letting me at all judge for you, which in one light I think I am fit to do, I mean, as your spirit naturally makes you overlook every thing to get employed, I would wish you to answer to Lord Milton,,"that you should desire of all things to have had this command, but that having been discouraged from asking what you could not flatter yourself would be granted, it would look, you think, a vain offer, to sue for what is now given away, and would not be consistent with your honour to ask when it is too late." I hint this, as such an answer would turn their arts on themselves, if, as I believe, they mean to refuse you, and to reproach you with asking too late.
If the time is come for Mr. Pitt to want you, you will not long be unemployed; if it is not, then you would get nothing by asking. Consider, too, how much more graceful a reparation of your honour it will be, to have them forced to recall you, than to force yourself on desperate service, as if you yourself, not they, had injured your reputation.
I can say nothing now on any other chapter, this has so much engrossed all my thoughts. I see no one reason upon earth for your asking now. If you ever should ask again, you will not want opportunities; and the next time you ask, will have just the same merit that this could have, and by asking in time, would be liable to none of the objections of that sort which I have mentioned! Adieu! Timeo Lord George et dona.
(970) Now first printed.
(971) To the command of an expedition against Martinique.-E.
(972) Mr. Fox.
(973) Lord Bute says, in a letter to Mr. Pitt, of the 8th of September, "With regard to Clarke, I know him well: he must be joined to a general in whom he has confidence, or not thought of. Never was man so cut out for bold and hardy enterprises; but the person who commands him must think in the same way of him, or the affair of Rochfort will return." Chatham Correspondence, vol. ii. p. 350.-E.
459 Letter 290 To The Rev. Henry Zouch. Strawberry Hill, Oct. 21st, 1758.
Sir, Every letter I receive from you is a new obligation, bringing me new information; but, sure, my Catalogue was not worthy of giving you so much trouble. Lord Fortescue is quite new to me: I have sent him to the press. Lord Dorset's poem it will be unnecessary to mention separately, as I have already said that his works are to be found among those of the minor poets.
I don't wonder, Sir, that you prefer Lord Clarendon to Polybius; nor can two authors well be more unlike: the former(974) wrote a general history in a most obscure and almost unintelligible style; the latter-, a portion of private history, in the noblest style in the world. Whoever made the comparison, I will do them the justice to believe that they understood bad Greek better than their own language in its elevation.
For Dr. Jortin's Erasmus, which I have very nearly finished, it has given me a good opinion of the author, and he has given me a very bad one of his subject. By the Doctor's labour and impartiality, Erasmus appears a begging parasite, who had parts enough to discover truth, and not courage enough to profess it: whose vanity made him always writing; yet Ills writings ought to have cured his vanity, as they were the most abject things in the world. Good Erasmus's honest mean was alternate time-serving. I never had thought much about him, and now heartily despise him.
When I speak my opinion to you, Sir, about what I dare say you care as little for as I do, (for what is the merit of a mere man of letters?) it is but fit I should answer you as sincerely on a question about which you are so good as to interest yourself. that my father's life is likely to be written, I have no grounds for believing. I mean I know nobody that thinks of it. For myself, I certainly shall not, for many reasons, which you must have the patience to hear. A reason to me myself is, that I think too highly of him, and too meanly of myself, to presume I am equal to the task. They who do not agree with me in the former part of my position, will undoubtedly allow the latter part. In the next place, the very truths that I should relate would be so much imputed to partiality, that he would lose of his due praise by the suspicion of my prejudice. In the next place, I was born too late in his life to be acquainted with him in the active part of it. Then I was at school, at the university, abroad, and returned not till the last moments of his administration. What I know of him I could only learn from his own mouth in the last three years of his life; when, to my shame, I was so idle, and young, and thoughtless, that I by no means profited of his leisure as I might have done; and, indeed, I have too much impartiality in my nature to care, if I could, to give the world a history, collected solely from the person himself of whom I should write. With the utmost veneration for his truth, I can easily conceive, that a man who had lived a life of party, and who had undergone such persecution from party, should have had greater bias than he himself could be sensible of. The last, and that a reason which must be admitted, if all the others are not—his papers are lost. Between the confusion of his affairs, and the indifference of my elder brother to things of that sort, they were either lost, burnt, or what we rather think, were stolen by a favourite servant of my brother, who proved a great rogue, and was dismissed in my brother's life; and the papers were not discovered to be missing till after my brother's death. Thus, Sir, I should want vouchers for many things I could say of much importance. I have another personal reason that discourages me from attempting this task, or any other, besides the great reluctance that I have to being a voluminous author. Though I am by no means the learned man you are so good as to call me in compliment; though, on the contrary, nothing can be more superficial than my knowledge, or more trifling than my reading,—yet, I have so much strained my eyes, that it is often painful to me to read even a newspaper by daylight. In short, Sir, having led a very dissipated life, in all the hurry of the world of pleasures scarce ever read, but by candlelight, after I have come home late at nights. As my eyes have never had the least inflammation or humour, I am assured I may still recover them by care and repose. I own I prefer my eyes to any thing I could ever read, much more to any thing I could write. However, after all I have said, perhaps I may now and then, by degrees, throw together some short anecdotes of my father's private life and particular story, and leave his public history to more proper and more able hands, if such will undertake it. Before I finish on this chapter, I can assure you he did forgive my Lord Bolingbroke(975)—his nature was forgiving: after all was over, and he had nothing to fear or disguise, I can say with truth, that there were not three men of whom he ever dropped a word with rancour. What I meant of the clergy not forgiving Lord Bolingbroke, alluded not to his doctrines, but to the direct attack and war he made on the whole body. And now, Sir, I will confess my own weakness to you. I do not think so highly of that writer, as I seem to do in my book; but I thought it would be imputed to prejudice in me, if I appeared to undervalue an author of whom so many persons of sense still think highly. My being Sir Robert Walpole's son warped me to praise, instead of censuring, Lord Bolingbroke. With regard to the Duke of Leeds, I think you have misconstrued the decency of my expression. I said, Burnet had treated him severely; that is, I chose that Burnet should say so, rather than myself. I have never praised where my heart condemned. Little attentions, perhaps, to worthy descendants, were excusable in a work of so extensive a nature, and that approached so near to these times. I may, perhaps, have an opportunity at one day or other of showing you some passages suppressed on these motives, which yet I do not intend to destroy.
Crew, Bishop of Durham, was is abject a tool as possible. I would be very certain he is an author before I should think him worth mentioning. If ever you should touch on Lord Willoughby's sermon, I should be obliged for a hint of it. I actually have a printed copy of verses by his son, on the marriage of the Princess Royal; but they are so ridiculously unlike measure, and the man was so mad and so poor,(976) that I determined not to mention them.
If these details, Sir, which I should have thought interesting to no mortal but myself', should happen to amuse you, I shall be glad; if they do not, you will learn not to question a man who thinks it his duty to satisfy the curiosity of men of sense and honour, and who, being of too little consequence to have secrets, is not ambitious of the less consequence of appearing to have any.
P. S. I must ask you one question, but to be answered entirely at your leisure. I have a play in rhyme called Saul, said to be written by a peer. I guess Lord Orrery. If ever you happen to find out, be so good to tell me.
(974) It is evident that Mr. Walpole has here transposed, contrary to his meanings the references to lord Clarendon and Polybius: the latter wrote the general history, the former the portion of history.-C.
(975) This alludes to an epigrammatic passage in the article "Bolingbroke" in the Noble Authors. "He wrote against Sir Robert Walpole, who did forgive him; and against the clergy, who never will forgive him."@.
(976) this seems a singular reason for excluding him from a list of authors@-C.
462 Letter 291 To George Montagu, Esq. Arlington Street, Oct. 24, 1758.
I am a little sorry that my preface, like the show-cloth to a sight, entertained you more than the bears it invited you in to see. I don't mean that I am not glad to have written any thing that meets your approbation, but if Lord Whitworth's work is not better than my preface, I fear he has much less merit than I thought he had.
Your complaint of your eyes makes me feel for you: mine have been very weak again, and I am taking the bark, which did them so much service last year. I don't know how to give up the employment of them, I mean reading; for as to writing, I am absolutely winding up my bottom, for twenty reasons. The first, and perhaps the best, I have writ enough. The next; by what I have writ, the world thinks I am not a fool, which was just what I wished them to think, having always lived in terror of that oracular saying Ermu naidex luchoi, which Mr. Bentley translated with so much more parts than the vain and malicious hero could have done that set him the task, —I mean his father, the sons of heroes are loobies. My last reason is, I find my little stock of reputation very troublesome, both to maintain and to undergo the consequences—it has dipped me in erudite correspondences—I receive letters every week that compliment my learning; now, as there is nothing I hold so cheap as a learned man, except an unlearned one, this title Is insupportable to me; if' I have not a care, I shall be called learned, till somebody abuses me for not being learned, as they, not I, fancied I was. In short, I propose to have nothing more to do with the world, but divert myself in it as an obscure passenger—pleasure, virt'u, politics, and literature, I have tried them all, and have had enough of them. Content and tranquillity, with now and then a little of three of them, that I may not grow morose, shall satisfy the rest of a life that is to have much idleness, and I hope a little goodness; for politics—a long adieu! With some of the Cardinal de Retz's experience, though with none of his genius, I see the folly of taking a violent part without any view, (I don't mean to commend a violent part with a view, that is still worse;) I leave the state to be scrambled for by Mazarine, at once cowardly and enterprising, ostentatious, jealous, and false; by Louvois, rash and dark; by Colbert, the affecter of national interest, with designs not much better; and I leave the Abb'e de la Rigbi'ere to sell the weak Duke of Orleans to whoever has money to buy him, or would buy him to get money; at least these are my present reflections—if I should change them to-morrow, remember I am not only a human creature, but that I am I, that is, one of the weakest of human creatures, and so sensible of my fickleness that I am sometimes inclined to keep a diary of my mind, as people do of the weather. To-day you see it temperate, to-morrow it may again blow politics and be stormy; for while I have so much quicksilver left, I fear my passionometer will be susceptible of sudden changes. What do years give one? Experience; experience, what? Reflections; reflections, what? nothing that I ever could find—nor can I well agree with Waller, that
"The soul's dark cottage, batter'd and decay'd, Lets in new light through chinks that time has made."
Chinks I am afraid there are, but instead of new light, I find nothing but darkness visible, that serves only to discover sights of Wo. I look back through my chinks—I find errors, follies, faults; forward, old age and death, pleasures fleeting from me, no virtues succeeding to their place—il faut avouer, I want all my quicksilver to make such a background receive any other objects!
I am glad Mr. Frederick Montagu thinks so well of me as to be sure I shall be glad to see him without an invitation. For you, I had already perceived that you would not come to Strawberry this year. Adieu!
463 Letter 292 To Sir Horace Mann. Strawberry Hill, Oct. 24, 1758.
It is a very melancholy present I send you here, my dear Sir; yet, considering the misfortune that has befallen us, perhaps the most agreeable I could send you. You will not think it the bitterest tear you have shed when you drop one over this plan of an urn inscribed with the name of your dear brother, and with the testimonial of my eternal affection to him! This little monument is at last placed over the pew of your family at Linton, and I doubt whether any tomb was ever erected that spoke so much truth of the departed, and flowed from so much sincere friendship in the living. The thought was my own, adopted from the antique columbaria, and applied to Gothic. The execution of the design was Mr. Bentley's, who alone, of all mankind, could unite the grace of Grecian architecture and the irregular lightness and solemnity of Gothic. Kent and many of our builders sought this, but have never found it. Mr. Chute, who has as much taste @s Mr. Bentley, thinks this little sketch a perfect model. The soffite is more beautiful than any thing of either style separate. There is a little error in the inscription; it should be Horatius Walpole posuit. The urn is of marble, richly polished; the rest of stone. On the whole, I think there is simplicity and decency, with a degree of ornament that destroys neither.
What do you say in Italy on the assassination of the King of Portugal? Do you believe that Portuguese subjects lift their hand against a monarch for gallantry? Do you believe that when a slave murders an absolute prince, he goes a walking with his wife the next morning and murders her too'! Do you believe the dead King is alive? and that the Jesuits are as wrongfully suspected of this assassination as they have been of many others they have committed? If you do believe this, and all this, you are not very near turning Protestants. It is scarce talked of here, and to save trouble, we admit just what the Portuguese minister is ordered to publish. The King of Portugal murdered, throws us two hundred years back—the King of Prussia not murdered, carries us two hundred years forward again.
Another King, I know, has had a little blow: the Prince de Soubise has beat some Isenbourgs and Obergs, and is going to be Elector of Hanover this winter. There has been a great sickness among our troops in the other German army; the Duke of Marlborough has been in great danger, and some officers are dead. Lord Frederick Cavendish is returned from France. He confirms and adds to the amiable accounts we had received of the Duc d'Aiguillon's behaviour to our prisoners. You yourself, the pattern of attentions and tenderness, could not refine on what he has done both in good-nature and good-breeding: he even forbad any ringing of bells or rejoicings wherever they passed—but how your representative blood will curdle when you hear of the absurdity of one of your countrymen: the night after the massacre at St. Cas, the Duc d'Aiguillon gave a magnificent supper of eighty covers to our prisoners—a Colonel Lambert got up at the bottom of the table, and asking for a bumper, called out to the Duc, "My Lord Duke, here's the Roy de France!" You must put all the English you can crowd into the accent. My Lord Duke was so confounded at this preposterous compliment, which it was impossible for him to return, that he absolutely sank back into his chair and could not utter a syllable: our own people did not scorn to feel more.
You will read and hear that we have another expedition sailing, somewhither in the West Indies. Hobson, the commander, has in his whole life had but one stroke of a palsy, so possibly may retain half of his understanding at least. There is great tranquillity at home, but I should think not promising duration. The disgust in the army on the late frantic measures will furnish some warmth probably to Parliament—and if the French should think of returning our visits, should you wonder? There are even rumours of some stirring among your little neighbours at Albano—keep your eye on them—if you could discover any thing in time, it would do you great credit. Apropos to them,, I will send you an epigram that I made the other day on Mr. Chute's asking why Taylor the oculist called himself Chevalier.
Why Taylor the quack calls himself Chevalier, 'Tis not easy a reason to render; Unless he would own, what his practice makes clear, That at best he is but a Pretender.
465 Letter 293 To George Montagu, Esq. Arlington Street, Nov. 26, 1758.
How can you make me formal excuses for sending me a few covers to frank? Have you so little right to any act of friendship from me, that you should apologize for making me do what is scarce any act at all? However, your man has not called for the covers, although they have been ready this fortnight.
I shall be very glad to see your brother in town, but I cannot quite take him in full of payment. I trust you will stay the longer for coming the later. There is not a syllable of news. The Parliament is met, but empty and totally oppositionless. Your great Cu moved in the lords, but did not shine much. The great Cu of all Cues is out of order, not in danger, but certainly breaking.
My eyes are performing such a strict quarantine, that you must excuse my brevity. Adieu.
465 Letter 294 To Sir Horace Mann. Arlington Street, Nov. 27, 1758.
it seems strange that at this time of the year, with armies still in the field and Parliaments in town, I should have had nothing to tell you for above a month—yet so it was. The King caught cold on coming to town, and was very ill,(977) but the gout, which had never been at court above twice in his reign, came, seized his foot a little, and has promised him at least five or six years more—that is, if he will take care of himself; but yesterday, the coldest day we have felt, he would go into the drawing-room, as if he was fond of showing the new stick @e is forced to walk with.
The Parliament is all harmony, and thinks of nothing but giving away twelve more millions. Mr. Pitt made the most artful speech he ever made: provoked, called for, defied objections; promised enormous expense, demanded never to be judged by events. Universal silence left him arbiter of his own terms. In short, at present he is absolute master, and if he can coin twenty millions may command them. He does every thing, the Duke of Newcastle gives every thing. As long as they can agree in this partition, they may do what they will.
We have been in great anxiety for twenty-four hours to learn the fate of Dresden, and of the King of resources, as Mr. Beckford called the King of Prussia the other day. We heard that while he was galloped to raise the siege of Neiss, Marshal Daun was advanced to Dresden; that Schmettau had sent to know if he meant to attack it, having orders to burn the Fauxbourgs and defend it street by street; that Daun not deigning a reply, the Conflagration had been put in execution; that the King was posting back, and Dohna advancing to join him. We expect to hear either of the demolition of the city, or of a bloody decision fought under the walls—an account is just arrived that Daun(978) is retired, thus probably the campaign is finished, and another year of massacre to come. One could not but be anxious at such a crisis-one felt for Dresden, and pitied the Prince Royal shut up in his own capital, a mere spectator of its destruction; one trembled for the decisive moment of the life of such a man as the King of Prussia. It is put off—yet perhaps he will scarce recover so favourable a moment. He had assembled his whole force, except a few thousands left to check the Swedes. Next year this force must be again parcelled out against Austrians, Russians, Swedes, and possibly French. He must be more than a King Of resources if he can for ever weather such tempests!
Knyphausen(979) diverted me yesterday with some anecdotes of the Empress's college of chastity-not the Russian Empress's. The King of Prussia asked some of his Austrian prisoners whether their mistress consulted her college of chastity on the letters she wrote (and he intercepted) to Madame Pompadour.
You have heard some time ago of the death of the Duke of Marlborough.(980) The estate is forty-five thousand pounds a-year—nine of which are jointured out. He paid but eighteen thousand pounds a-year in joint lives. This Duke and the estate save greatly by his death, as the present wants a year of being of age, and would certainly have accommodated his father in agreeing to sell and pay. Lord Edgcumbe(981) is dead too, one of the honestest and most steady men in the world.
I was much diverted with your histories of our Princess(982) and Madame de Woronzow. Such dignity as Madame de Craon's wants a little absolute power to support it! Adieu! my dear Sir.
(977) Lord Chesterfield, writing on the 21st to his son, says, "The King has been ill; but his illness has terminated in a good fit of the gout. It was generally thought he would have died, and for a very good reason; for the oldest lion in the Tower, much about the King's age, died about a fortnight ago. This extravagancy, I can assure you, was believed by many above people. So wild and capricious is the human mind!"-E.
(978) "The King of Prussia has just compelled Daun to raise the siege of Dresden, in spite of his (the King's) late most disastrous defeat by the same general at Bochkirchen, which had taken place on the 14th of October, 1758.-D.
(979) The Prussian minister.
(980) Charles Spencer, second Duke of Marlborough. He died, on the 28th of October at Munster, in Westphalia.-E.
(981) Richard, first Lord Edgcumbe; an intimate friend of Sir Robert Walpole.
(982) The Princess Craon.
467 Letter 295 To The Rev. Henry Zouch. Arlington Street, Dec. 9, 1758.
Sir, I have desired Mr. Whiston to convey to you the second edition of my Catalogue, not so complete as it might have been, if great part had not been printed before I received your remarks, but yet more correct than the first sketch with which I troubled you. Indeed, a thing of this slight and idle nature does not deserve to have much more pains employed upon it.
I am just undertaking an edition of Lucan, my friend Mr. Bentley having in his possession his father's notes and emendations on the first seven books. Perhaps a partiality for the original author concurs a little. with this circumstance of the notes, to make me fond of printing, at Strawberry Hill, the works of a man who, alone of all the classics, was thought to breathe too brave and honest a spirit for the perusal of the Dauphin and the French. I don't think that a good or bad taste in poetry is of so serious a nature, that I should be afraid of owning too, that, with that great judge Corneille, and with that, perhaps, no judge Heinsius, I prefer Lucan to Virgil. To speak fairly, I prefer great sense to poetry with little sense. There are hemistics in Lucan that go to one's soul and one's heart;—for a mere epic poem, a fabulous tissue of uninteresting battles that don't teach one even to fight, I know nothing more tedious. The poetic images, the versification and language of the Aeneid are delightful; but take the story by itself, and can any thing be more silly and unaffeCting? There are a few gods without power, heroes without character, heaven-directed wars without justice, inventions without probability, and a hero who betrays one woman with a kingdom that he might have had, to force himself upon another woman and another kingdom to which he had no pretensions, and all this to show his obedience to the gods! In short, I have always admired his numbers so much, and his meaning so little, that I think I should like Virgil better if I understood him less.
Have you seen, Sir, a book which has made some noise—Helvetius de l'Esprit? The author is so good and moral a man, that I grieve he should have published a system of as relaxed morality as can well be imagined.-. 'tis a large quarto, and in general a very superficial one. His philosophy may be new in France, but is greatly exhausted here. He tries to imitate Montesquieu, and has heaped commonplaces upon commonplaces, which supply or overwhelm his reasoning; yet he has often wit, happy allusion;, and sometimes writes finely: there is merit enough to give an obscure man fame; flimsiness enough to depreciate a great man. After his book was licensed, they forced him to retract it by a most abject recantation. Then why print this book? If zeal for his system pushed him to propagate it, did not he consider that a recantation would hurt his cause more than his arguments could support it.
We are promised Lord Clarendon in February from Oxford, though I hear shall have the surreptitious edition from Holland much sooner.
You see, Sir, I am a sceptic as well as Helvetius, but of a more moderate complexion. There is no harm in telling mankind that there is not so much divinity in the Aeneid as they imagine; but, (Even if I thought so,) I would not preach that virtue and friendship are mere names, and resolvable into self-interest; because there are numbers that would remember the grounds of the principle, and forget what was to be engrafted on it. Adieu!
468 Letter 296 To Sir Horace Mann. Strawberry Hill, Christmas-day, 1758.
Adieu! my dear Sir—that is, adieu to our correspondence, for I am neither dying nor quarrelling with you; but as we, Great- Britons, are quarrelling with all Europe, I think very soon I shall not be able to convey a letter to you, but by the way of Africa, and am afraid the post-offices are not very well regulated. In short, we are on the brink of a Dutch war too. Their merchants are so enraged that we will not only not suffer them to enrich themselves by carrying all the French trade, and all kinds of military stores to the French settlements, but that they lose their own ships into the bargain, that they are ready to despatch the Princess Royal(983) into the other world even before her time; if her death arrives soon, and she is thought in great danger, it will be difficult for any body else to keep the peace. Spain and Denmark are in little better humour—well, if We have not as many lives as a cat or the King of Prussia! However, our spirits do not droop; we are raising thirteen millions, we look upon France as totally undone, and that they have not above five loaves and a few small fishes left; we intend to take all America from them next summer, and then if Spain and Holland are not terrified, we shall be at leisure to deal with them. Indeed, we are rather in a hurry to do all this, because people may be weary of paying thirteen millions; and besides it may grow decent for Mr. Pitt to visit his gout, which this year he has been forced to send to the Bath without him. I laugh, but seriously we are in a critical situation; and it is as true, that if Mr. Pitt had not exerted the spirit and activity that he has, we should ere now have been past a critical situation. Such a war as ours carried on by my Lord Hardwicke, with the dull dilatoriness of a Chancery suit, would long ago have reduced us to what suits in Chancery reduce most people! At present our unanimity is prodigious— you Would as soon hear No from an old maid as from the House of Commons—but I don't promise you that this tranquillity will last.(984) One has known more ministries overturned of late years by their own squabbles than by any assistance from Parliaments.
Sir George Lee, formerly an heir-apparent(985) to the ministry is dead. it was almost sudden, but he died with great composure. Lord Arran(986) went off with equal philosophy. Of the great house of Ormond there now remains only his sister, Lady Emily Butler, a young heiress of ninety-nine.
It is with great pleasure I tell you that Mr. Conway is going to Sluys to settle a cartel with the French. The commission itself is honourable, but more pleasing as it re-establishes him—I should say his merit re-establishes him. All the world now acknowledges it—and the insufficiency of his brother-generals makes it vain to oppress him any longer.
I am happy that you are pleased with the monument, and vain that you like the Catalogue(987)—if it would not look too vain, I would tell you that it was absolutely undertaken and finished within five months. Indeed, the faults in the first edition and the deficiencies show it was; I have just printed another more correct.
Of the Pretender's family one never hears a word: unless our Protestant brethren the Dutch meddle in their affairs, they will be totally forgotten; we have too numerous a breed of our own, to want Princes from Italy. The old Chevalier by your account is likely to precede his rival, who with care may still last a few years, though I think will scarce appear again out of his own house.
I want to ask you if it is possible to get the royal edition of the Antiquities of Herculaneum?(988) and I do not indeed want you to get it for me unless I am to pay for it. Prince San Severino has told the foreign ministers here that there are to be twelve hundred volumes, of it—and they believe it. I imagine the fact is, that there are but twelve hundred copies printed. Could Cardinal Albani get it for me? I would send him my Strawberry-editions, and the Birmingham-editions(988) in exchange—things here much in fashion.
The night before I came from town, we heard of the fall of the Cardinal de Bernis,(989) but not the cause of it(990)—if we have a Dutch war, how many cardinals will fall in France and in England, before you hear of these or I of the former! I have always written to you with the greatest freedom, because I care more that you should be informed of the state of your own country, than what secretaries of state or their clerks think of me,—but one must be more circumspect if the Dey of Algiers is to open one's letters. Adieu!
(983) The Princess Dowager of Orange, eldest daughter of George II.
(984) Lord Chesterfield, in a letter of the 15th, says, "The estimates for the expenses of the year 1759 are made up. I have seen them; and what do you think they amount to? No less than twelve millions three hundred thousand pounds: a most incredible sum, and its yet already all subscribed, and even more offered! The unanimity in the House of Commons in voting such a sum, and such forces, both by sea and land, is not less astonishing. This is Mr. Pitt's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes."-E.
(985) Frederick, Prince of Wales, had designed, if he outlived the King, to make Sir George Lee chancellor of the exchequer.
(986) He was Charles Butler, the second and last surviving son of Thomas, Earl of Ossory, eldest son of the first Duke of Ormond. He had been created, in 1693, Baron Clogligrenan, Viscount Tullough, and Earl of Arran, in Ireland; and at the same time Baron Butler of Weston, in the Peerage of England. Dying without issue his titles became extinct.-D.
(987) The Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors.
(988) Editions printed with the Baskerville types.-D.
(989) The Cardinal de Bernis was a frivolous and incapable minister, who was equally raised and overthrown by the influence of the King of France's mistress, Madame de Pompadour.-D.
(990) "Cardinal Bernis's disgrace," says Lord Chesterfield, "is as sudden, and hitherto as little understood, as his elevation was. I have seen his poems printed at Paris, not by a friend, I dare say; and, to judge by them, I humbly conceive his excellency is a puppy. I will say nothing of that excellent headpiece that made him and unmade him in the same month, except O King, live for ever!"-E.
470 Letter 297 To George Montagu, Esq. Arlington Street, Dec. 26th, 1758.
it is so little extraordinary to find you doing what is friendly and obliging, that one don't take half notice enough of it. Can't you let Mr. Conway go to Sluys without taking notice of it? How would you be hurt, if he continued to be oppressed? what is it to you whether I am glad or sorry? Can't you enjoy yourself whether I am happy or not'—'@ I suppose If I were to have a misfortune, you would immediately be concerned at it! How troublesome it is to have you sincere and good-natured! Do be a little more like the rest of the world.
I have been at Strawberry these three days, and don't know a tittle. The last thing I heard before I went was that Colonel Yorke is to be married to one or both of the Miss Crasteyns, nieces of the rich grocer that died three years ago. They have two hundred and sixty thousand pounds apiece. A marchioness— or a grocer—-nothing comes amiss to the digestion of that family.(991) If the rest of the trunk was filled with money, I believe they would really marry Carafattatouadaht—what was the lump of deformity called in the Persian Tales, that was sent to the lady in a coffer? And as to marrying both the girls, it would cost my Lord Hardwicke but a new marriage-bill: I suppose it is all one to his conscience whether he prohibits matrimony or licenses bigamy. Poor Sir Charles Williams is relapsed, and strictly confined.
As you come so late, I trust you will stay with us the longer. Adieu!
(991) Colonel Yorke, afterwards Lord Dover, married in 1783 the Dowager Baroness de Boetzalaer, widow of the first noble of the province of Holland.-E.
471 Letter 298 To The Rev. Henry Zouch. Strawberry Hill, Jan. 12, 1759.
Sir, I shall certainly be obliged to you for an account of that piece of Lord Lonsdale:(992) besides my own curiosity in any thing that relates to a work in which I have engaged so far, I think it a duty to the public to perfect, as far as one can, whatever one gives to it; and yet I do not think of another edition; two thousand have peen printed, and though nine hundred went off at once, it would be presumption in me to expect that the rest will be sold in any short time. I only mean to add occasionally to my private copy whatever more I can collect and correct; and shall perhaps, but leave behind me materials for a future edition, in which should be included what I have hitherto omitted. Yet it is very vain in me to expect that any body should care for such a trifle after the novelty is worn off; I ought to be content with the favourable reception I have found; so much beyond my first expectations, that, except in two Magazines, not a word of censure has passed on me in print. You may easily believe, Sir, that having escaped a trial, I am not mortified by having dirt thrown at me by children in the kennel. With regard to the story of Lord Suffolk, I wish I had been lucky enough to have mentioned it to you in time, it should not have appeared: yet it was told me by Mr. Mallet, who did not seem to have any objection that I should even mention his name as the very person to whom it happened. I must suppose that Lord Suffolk acted that foolish scene in imitation of Lord Rochester.(993)
I am happy, Sir, that I have both your approbation to my opinion of Lucan, and to my edition of him; but I assure you there will not be one word from me. I am sensible that it demands great attention to write even one's own language well: how can one pretend to purify a foreign language? to any merit in a dead one? I would not alone undertake to correct the press; but I am so lucky as to live in the strictest friendship with Dr. Bentley's Only Son, Who, to all the ornament of learning, has the amiable turn of mind, disposition, and easy wit. Perhaps you have heard that his drawings and architecture are admirable,—perhaps you have not: he is modest—he is poor- -he is consequently little known, less valued.
I am entirely ignorant of Dr. Burton and his Monasticon,(994) and after the little merit you tell me it has, I must explain to you that I have a collection of books of that sort, before I own that I wish to own it; at the same time, I must do so much justice to myself as to protest that I don't know so contemptible a class of writers as topographers, not from the study itself, but from their wretched execution. Often and often I have had an inclination to show how topography should be writ, by pointing out the curious particulars of places, with descriptions of principal houses, the pictures, portraits, and Curiosities they contain.
I scarce ever yet found any thing one wanted to know in one of those books; all they contain, except encomiums on the Stuarts and the monks, are lists of institutions and inductions, and inquiries how names of places were spelt before there was any spelling. If the Monasticon Eboracense is only to be had at York, I know Mr. Caesar Ward, and can get him to send it to me.
I will add but one short word: from every letter I receive from you, Sir, my opinion of you increases, and I much wish that so much good sense and knowledge were not thrown away only on me. I flatter myself that you are engaged, or will engage, in some work or pursuit that will make you better known. In the mean time, I hope that some opportunity will bring us personally acquainted, for I am, Sir, already most sincerely yours, Hor. Walpole.
P. S. You love to be troubled, and therefore I will make no apology for troubling you. Last summer, I bought of Vertue's widow forty volumes of his ms. corrections relating to English painters, sculptors, gravers, and architects. He had actually begun their lives: unluckily he had not gone far, and could not write grammar. I propose to digest and complete this work (I mean after the Conway Papers).(995) In the mean time, Sir, shall I beg the favour of you just to mark down memorandums of the pages where you happen to meet with any thing relative to these subjects, especially of our antienter buildings, paintings, and artists. I would not trouble you for more reference, if even that is not too much.
(992) Mr. Walpole did not insert any notice of Lord Lonsdale in his subsequent editions, though the omission has been remedied by Mr. Park. The piece to which Mr. Zouch probably alluded, the knowledge of which he may have derived from the noble family of Lowther, was " a "Treatise on Economies" addressed to his son, by Sir John Lowther, created Baron Lonsdale in 1696. This treatise was never published.-C.
(993) The story here alluded to is told, in the Noble Authors, of Edward Howard, eighth Earl of Suffolk. But Mr. Zouch had probably apprised Mr. Walpole, that a similar story had been told of Lord Rochester. The Earl is represented as having sent for " a gentleman well known in the literary world," (Mallet,) upon whom he inflicted the hearing of some of his verses; but coming to the description of a beautiful woman, he suddenly stopped, and said, "Sir, I am not like most poets; I do not draw from ideal mistresses; I always have my subject before me;" and ringing the bell, be said to a footman, "Call up Fine Eyes." A woman of the town appeared—"Fine Eyes," said the Earl, "look full on this gentleman." She did, and retired. Two or three others of the seraglio were summoned in their turns, and displayed their respective charms for which they had been distinguished by his lordship's pencil.-C.
(994) Dr. John Burton was a physician and antiquary of Yorkshire, who died in 1771. His principal work, here alluded to, is entitled "Monasticon Eboracense." This work was never completed, the first volume only having appeared in folio. Some imputations on the Doctor's loyalty in 1745, diminished, it is said, his means and materials for continuing the Work.-C.
(995) The two first volumes appeared from the press at Strawberry Hill in 1762.-C.
473 Letter 299 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. Arlington Street, Jan. 19, 1759.
I hope the treaty of Sluys advances rapidly.(996) Considering that your own court is as new to you as Monsieur de Bareil and his, you cannot be very well entertained: the joys of a Dutch fishing town and the incidents of a cartel will not compose a very agreeable history. In the mean time you do not lose much: though the Parliament is met, no politics are come to town: one may describe the House of Commons like the price of stocks; Debates, nothing done. Votes, under par. Patriots, no price. Oratory, books shut. Love and war are as much at a stand; neither the Duchess of Hamilton nor the expeditions are gone off yet. Prince Edward has asked to go to Quebec, and has been refused. If I was sure they would refuse me, I would ask to go thither too. I should not dislike about as much laurel as I could stick in my window at Christmas.
We are next week to have a serenata at the Opera-house for the King of Prussia's birthday: it is to begin, "Viva Georgio, e Federico viva!" It will, I own, divert me to see my Lord Temple whispering for this alliance, on the same bench on which I have so often seen him whisper against all Germany. The new opera pleases universally, and I hope will yet hold up its head. Since Vanneschi is cunning enough to make us sing the roast Beef of old Germany, I am persuaded it will revive: politics are the only lhotbed for keeping such a tender plant as Italian music alive in England.
You are so thoughtless about your dress, that I cannot help giving you a little warning against your return. Remember, every body that comes from abroad is cens'e to come from France, and whatever they wear at their first reappearance immediately grows the fashion. Now if, as is very likely, you should through inadvertence change hats with a master of a Dutch smack, Offley will be upon the watch, will conclude you took your pattern from M. de Bareil, and in a week's time we shall all be equipped like Dutch skippers. You see I speak very disinterestedly; for, as I never wear a hat myself, it is indifferent to me what sort of hat I don't wear. Adieu! I hope nothing in this letter, if it is opened, will affect the conferences, nor hasten our rupture with Holland. Lest it should, I send it to Lord Holderness's office; concluding, like Lady Betty Waldegrave, that the government never suspect what they send under their own covers.
(996) Mr. Conway was sent to Sluys to settle a cartel for prisoners with the French. M. de Bareil was the person appointed by the French court for the same business.
473 Letter 300 The Hon. H. S. Conway. Arlington Street, Jan. 28, 1759.
You and M. de Bareil may give yourselves what airs you please of settling cartels with expedition: you don't exchange prisoners with half so much alacrity as Jack Campbell(997) and the Duchess of Hanillton have exchanged hearts. I had so little observed the negotiation, Or suspected any, that when your brother told me of it yesterday morning, I would not believe a tittle—I beg Mr. Pitt's pardon, not an iota. It is the prettiest match in the world since yours, and every body likes it but the Duke of Bridgewater and Lord Coventry. What an extraordinary fate is attached to those two women! Who could have believed that a Gunning would unite the two great houses of Campbell and Hamilton? For my part, I expect to see my Lady Coventry Queen of Prussia. I would not venture to marry either of them these thirty years, for fear of being shuffled out of the world prematurely, to make room for the rest of their adventures. The first time Jack carries the Duchess into the Highlands, I am persuaded that some of his second-sighted subjects will see him in a winding-sheet, with a train of kings behind him as long as those in Macbeth.
We had a scrap of a debate on Friday, on the Prussian and Hessian treaties. Old Vyner opposed the first, in pity to that poor woman, as he called her, the Empress-Queen.(998) Lord Strange objected to the gratuity of sixty thousand pounds to the Landgrave, unless words were inserted to express his receiving that Sum in full of all demands. If Hume Campbell had cavilled at this favourite treaty, Mr. Pitt could scarce have treated him with more haughtiness; and, what is far more extraordinary, Hume Campbell could scarce have taken it more dutifully. This long day was over by half an hour after four.
As you and M. de Bareil are on such amicable terms, you will take care to soften to him a new conquest we have made. Keppel has taken the island of Goree. You great ministers know enough Of its importance: I need not detail it. Before your letters came we had heard of the death of the Princess Royal:(999) you will find us black and all black. Lady Northumberland and the great ladies put off their assemblies: diversions begin again to-morrow with the mourning.
You perceive London cannot furnish half so long a letter as the little town of Sluys; at least I have not the art of making one out. In truth, I believe I should not have writ this unless Lady Ailesbury had bid me; but she does not care how much trouble it gives me, provided it amuses you for a moment. Good night!
P. S. I forgot to tell you that the King has granted my Lord Marischall's pardon, at the request of M. de Knyphausen.(1000) I believe the Pretender himself could get his attainder reversed if he would apply to the King of Prussia.
(997) Afterwards Duke of Argyle.
(998) "There never was so quiet or so silent a session of Parliament as the present: Mr. Pitt declares only what he would have them do, and they do it, nemine contradicente, Mr. Vyner only excepted." Lord Chesterfield.-E.
(999) The Princess of Orange died on the 12th of January.-E.
(1000) By a letter from Sir Andrew Mitchell, of the 8th of January, in the Chatham correspondence, it will be seen that the Lord of Marischal's pardon was granted at the earnest request of the King of Prussia, who said he " should consider it as a personal favour done to himself." The Earl Marischal was attainted for his share in the rebellion of 1715.-E.
475 Letter 301 To John Chute, Esq.(1001) Arlington Street, Feb. 1, 1759.
Well! my dear Sir, I am now convinced that both Mr. Keate's panic and mine were ill-founded; but pray, another time, don't let him be afraid of being afraid for fear of frightening me: on the contrary, if you will dip your gout in lemonade, I hope I shall be told of it. If you have not had it in Your stomach, it is not your fault: drink brandy, and be thankful. I would desire you to come to town, but I must rather desire you not to have a house to come to. Mrs. H. Grenville is passionately enamoured of yours, and begged I would ask you what will be the lowest price, with all the particulars, which I assured her you had stated very ill for yourself. I don't quite like this commission; if you part with your house in town, you will never come hither; at least, stow your cellars with drams and gunpowder as full as Guy Fawkcs's-you will be drowned if you don't blow yourself up. I don't believe that the Vine is within the verge of the rainbow: seriously, it is too damp for you. Colonel Campbell marries the Duchess of Hamilton forthwith. the house of Argyle is CONTENT, and think that the head of the Hamilton's had purified the blood of Gunning; but I should be afraid that his grace was more likely to corrupt blood than to mend it.
Never was any thing so crowded as the house last night for the Prussian cantata; the King was hoarse, and could not go to Sing his own praises. The dancers seemed transplanted from Sadler's Wells; there were milkmaids riding on dolphins; Britain and Prussia kicked the King of France off the stage, and there was a petit-maitre with his handkerchief full of holes; but this vulgarism happily was hissed.
I am deeper than ever in Gothic antiquities: I have bought a monk of Glastonbury's chair, full of scraps of the Psalms; and some seals of most reverend illegibility. I pass all my mornings in the thirteenth century, and my evenings with the century that is coming on. Adieu!
(1001) Now first printed.
475 Letter 302 To John Chute, Esq.(1002) Arlington Street, Feb. 2, 1759.
My dear sir, I am glad to see your writing again, and can now laugh very cordially at my own fright, which you take a great deal too kindly. I was not quite sure you would like my proceedings, but just then I could not help it, and perhaps my natural earnestness had more merit than my friendship; and yet it is worth my while to save a friend if I think I can—I have not so many! You yourself are in a manner lost to me! I must not, cannot repine at your having a fortune that delivers you from uneasy connexions with a world that is sure to use ill those that have any dependence on it; but undoubtedly some of the satisfaction that you have acquired is taken out of my scale; I will not, however, moralize, though I am in a very proper humour for it, being just come home from an outrageous crowd at Northumberland-house, where there were five hundred people, that would have been equally content or discontent with any other five hundred. This is pleasure! You invite so many people to your house, that you are forced to have constables at your door to keep the peace; just as the royal family, when they hunted, used to be attended by surgeons. I allow honour and danger to keep company with one another, but diversion and breaking one's neck are strangely ill-matched. Mr. Spence's Magliabechi(1003) is published to-day from Strawberry; I believe you saw it, and shall have it; but 'tis not worth sending you on purpose. However, it is full good enough for the generality of readers. At least there is a proper dignity in my saying so, who have been so much abused in all the magazines lately for my Catalogue. The points in dispute lie in a very narrow compass: they think I don't understand English, and I am sure they don't: yet they will not be convinced, for I shall certainly not take the pains to set them right. Who them are I don't know; the highest, I believe, are Dr. Smollet, or some chaplain of my uncle.
Adieu! I was very silly to alarm you so; but the wisest of' us, from Solomon to old Carr's cousin, are poor souls! May be you don't know any thing of Carr's cousin. Why then, Carr's cousin was—I don't know who; but Carr was very ill, and had a cousin, as I may be, to sit up with her. Carr had not slept for many nights—at last she dozed—her cousin jogged her: "Cousin, cousin!"—"Well!" said Carr, "what would you have?"—"Only, cousin, if you die where will you be buried?" This resemblance mortifies me ten times more than a thousand reviews could do: there is nothing in being abused by Carr's cousin, but it is horrid to be like Carr's cousin Good night!
(1003) Mr. Spence's Parallel of Magliabechi and Hill.-E.
476 Letter 303 To Sir Horace Mann. Arlington Street, Feb. 9, 1759.
The Dutch have not declared war and interrupted our correspondence, and yet it seems ceased as if we had declared war with one another. I have not heard from you this age—how happens it? I have not seized any ships of yours—you carry on no counterband trade—oh! perhaps you are gone incognito to Turin, are determined to have a King of Prussia of your own! I expect to hear that the King of Sardinia, accompanied by Sir Horace Mann, the British minister, suddenly appeared before Parma at the head of an hundred thousand men, that had been privately landed at Leghorn. I beg, as Harlequin did when he had a house to sell, that you will send me a brick, as a sample of the first town you take-the Strawberry-press shall be preparing a congratulatory ode.
The Princess Royal has been dead some time: and yet the Dutch and we continue in amity, and put on our weepers together. In the mean time our warlike eggs have been some time under the hen, and one has hatched and produced Gor'ee. The expedition, called to Quebec, departs on Tuesday next, under Wolfe, and George Townshend, who has thrust himself again into the service, and as far as wrongheadedness will go, very proper for a hero. Wolfe, who was no friend of Mr. Conway last year, and for whom I consequently have no affection, has great merit, spirit, and alacrity, and shone extremely at Louisbourg. I am not such a Juno but I will forgive him after eleven more labours.(1004) Prince Edward asked to go with them, but was refused. It is clever in him to wish to distinguish himself; I, who have no partiality to royal blood, like his good-nature and good-breeding.
Except the horrid Portuguese histories, that between Jesuits(1005) and executions make one's blood run hot and cold, we have no news. The Parliament has taken a quieting-draught. Of private story, the Duchess of Hamilton is going to marry Colonel Campbell, Lady Ailesbury's brother. It is a match that would not disgrace Arcadia. Her beauty has made sufficient noise, and in some people's eyes is even improved—he has a most pleasing countenance, person, and manner, and if they could but carry to Scotland some of our sultry English weather, they might restore the ancient pastoral life, when fair Kings and queens reigned at once over their subjects and their sheep. Besides, exactly like antediluvian lovers, they reconcile contending clans, the great houses of Hamilton and Campbell-and all this is brought about by a GUnning! I talked of our sultry weather, and this is no air. While Italy, I suppose, is buried in snow, we are extinguishing fires, and panting for breath. In short, we have had a wonderful winter—beyond an earthquake winter-we shall soon be astonished at frost, like an Indian. Shrubs and flowers and blossoms are all in their pride; I am not sure that in some counties the corn is not cut.
I long to hear from you; I think I never was so long without a letter. I hope it is from no bad reason. Adieu!
(1004) Speaking of Wolfe in his Memoires, Walpole says, "Ambition, industry, passion for the service, were conspicuous in him. He seemed to breathe for nothing but fame, and lost no moments in qualifying himself to compass that object. Presumption on himself was necessary for his object, and he had it. He was formed to execute the designs of such a master as Pitt."-E.
(1005) The strange and mysterious conspiracy against the life of the King of Portugal, which was attempted as he was going, one night through the streets of Lisbon in his coach. many Jesuits were put to death for it, and also several of the noble families of the Dukes d'Aveiro, and Marquises of Tavora.-D. [See ant'e, p. 456, letter 289.]
478 Letter 304 To Mr. Gray. Arlington Street, Feb. 15, 1759
The enclosed, which I have this minute received from Mr. Bentley, explains much that I had to say to you-yet I have a question or two more.
Who and what sort of a man is a Mr. Sharp of Benet? I have received a most obliging and genteel letter from him, with the very letter of Edward VI. which you was so good as to send me. I answered his, but should like to know a little more about him. Pray thank the Dean of Lincoln too for me: I am much obliged to him for his offer, but had rather draw upon his Lincolnship than his Cambridgehood.(1006) In the library of the former are some original letters of Tiptoft, as you will find in my Catalogue. When Dr. Greene is there, I shall be glad if he will let me have them copied.
I will thank you if you will look in some provincial history of Ireland for Odo (Hugh) Oneil, King of Ulster. When did he live? I have got a most curious seal of his, and know no more of him than of Ouacraw King of the Pawwaws.
I wanted to ask you, whether you, or anybody that you believe in, believe in the Queen of Scots' letter to Queen Elizabeth.(1007) If it is genuine, I don't wonder she cut her head off—but I think it must be some forgery that was not made use of.
Now to my distress. You must have seen an advertisement perhaps the book itself, the villanous book itself, that has been published to defend me against the Critical Review.(1008) I have been childishly unhappy about it, and had drawn up a protestation or affidavit of my knowing nothing of it; but my friends would not let me publish it. I sent to the printer, who would not discover the author—nor could I guess. They tell me nobody can suspect my being privy to It but there is an intimacy affected that I think will deceive many—and yet I must be the most arrogant fool living, if I could know and suffer any body to speak of me in that style. For God's sake do all you can for me, and publish my abhorrence. To-day I am told that it Is that puppy Dr. Hill, who has chosen to make war with the magazines through my sides. I could pardon him any abuse, but I never can forgive this friendship. Adieu!
(1006 He was master of Benet College, Cambridge.
(1007) See Murden's State Papers, p. 558, for this curious letter.
(1008) It was called "Observations on the account given of the Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors of England, etc. etc. in article v'- of the Critical review, No. xxv. December, 1758, where the unwarrantable liberties taken with that work, and the honourable author of it, are examined and exposed."
479 Letter 305 To The Right Hon. Lady hervey. Feb. 20, 1759.
I met with this little book t'other day by chance, and it pleased me so much that I cannot help lending it to your ladyship, as I know it will amuse you from the same causes. It contains many of those important truths which history is too proud to tell, and too dull from not telling.
Here Grignon's soul the living canvass warms: Here fair Fontagno assumes unfading charms: Here Mignard's pencil bows to female wit; Louis rewards, but ratifies Fayette: The philosophic duke, and painter too, Thought from her thoughts—from her ideas drew.
479 Letter 306 To Sir David Dalrymple.(1009) Strawberry Hill, Feb. 25, 1759.
I think, sir, I have perceived enough of the amiable benignity of your mind, to be sure that you will like to hear the praises of your friend. Indeed, there is but one opinion about Mr. Robertson's history.(1010) I don't remember any other work that ever met universal approbation. Since the Romans and the Greeks, who have now an exclusive charter for being the best writers in every kind, he is the historian that pleases me best; and though what he has been so indulgent as to say of me ought to shut my mouth, I own I have been unmeasured in my commendations. I have forfeited my own modesty rather than not do justice to him. I did send him my opinion some time ago, and hope he received it. I can add, with the strictest truth, that he is regarded here as one of the greatest men that this island has produced. I say island, but you know, Sir, that I am disposed to say Scotland. I have discovered another very agreeable writer among your countrymen, and in a profession where I did not look for an author; It is Mr. Ramsay,(1011) the painter, whose pieces being anonymous have been overlooked. He has a great deal of genuine wit, and a very just manner of reasoning. In his own walk he has great merit. He and Mr. Reynolds are our favourite painters, and two of the very best we ever had. Indeed, the number of good has been very small, considering the numbers there are. A very few years ago there were computed two thousand portrait painters in London; I do not exaggerate the computation, but diminish; though I think it must have been exaggerated. Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Ramsay can scarce be rivals; their manners are so different. The former is bold, and has a kind of tempestuous colouring, yet with dignity and grace; the latter is all delicacy. Mr. Reynolds seldom succeeds in women; Mr. Ramsay is formed to paint them.
I fear I neglected, Sir, to thank you for your present of the history of the conspiracy of the Gowries: but I shall never forget all the obligations I have to you. I don't doubt but in Scotland you approve what is liked here almost as much as Mr. Robertson's history; I mean the marriage of Colonel Campbell and the Duchess of Hamilton. If her fortune is singular, so is her merit. Such uncommon noise as her beauty made has not at all impaired the modesty of her behaviour. Adieu!
(1009) Now first collected.
(1010) Dr. Robertson's "History of Scotland during the Reigns of Mary and James the Sixth," was published in the beginning of this month.-E.
(1011) Alan Ramsay, the eminent portrait-painter, and eldest son of the poet; on whose death, in 1757, in somewhat embarrassed circumstances, he paid his debts. He was an excellent classical scholar, understood French and Italian, and had all the polish and liberal feeling of a highly instructed man. In Bouquet's pamphlet on "The Present State of the Fine Arts in England," published in 1755, he is described as "an able painter, who, acknowledging no other guide than nature, brought a rational taste of resemblance with him from Italy." He died in 1784.-E.
480 Letter 307 To Sir Horace Mann. Strawberry Hill, March 1, 1759.
I know you are ministerial enough, or patriot enough, (two words that it is as much the fashion to couple now as it was formerly to part them,) to rejoice over the least bit of a conquest, and therefore I hurry to send you a morsel of Martinico, which you may lay under your head, and dream of having taken the whole island. As dreams often go by contraries, you must not be surprised if you wake and find we have been beaten back; but at this present moment, we are all dreaming of victory. A frigate has been taken going to France with an account that our troops landed on the island on the 16th of January, without opposition. A seventy-gun ship was dismissed at the same time, which is thought a symptom of their not meaning to resist. It certainly is not Mr. Pitt's fault if we have not great success; and if we have, it is certainly owing to him. The French talk of invading us; I hope they will not come quite so near either to victory or defeat, as to land on our Martinico! But you are going to have a war of your own. Pray send me all your gazettes extraordinary. I wish the King of Sardinia's heroism may not be grown a little rusty. Time was when he was the only King in Europe that had fought in his waistcoat; but now the King of Prussia has almost made it part of their coronation oath. Apropos, pray remember that the Emperor's pavilion is not the Emperor's pavillon; though you are so far in the right, that he may have a pavilion, but I don't conceive how he comes by a pavillon. What Tuscan colours has he, unless a streamer upon the belfry at Leghorn? You was so deep in politics when you wrote your last letter, that it was almost in cipher, and as I don't happen to have a key to bad writing, I could not read a word that interests my vanity extremely-I unravelled enough to learn that a new governor(1012) of Milan is a great admirer of me, but I could not guess at one syllable of his name, and it is very uncomfortable in a dialogue between one's pride and oneself, to be forced to talk of Governor What-d'ye-call-em, who has so good a taste. I think you never can have a more important occasion for despatching a courier than to tell me Governor - -'s name. In the mean time, don't give him any more Strawberry editions; of some I print very few, they are all begged immediately, and then you will not have a complete set, as I wish you to have, notwithstanding all my partiality for the governor of Milan. Perhaps, upon the peace I may send him a set richly bound! I am a little more serious in what I am going to say; you will oblige me if at your leisure you will pick up for me all or any little historical tracts that relate to the house of Medici. I have some distant thoughts of writing their history, and at the peace may probably execute what you know I have long retained in my wish, another journey to Florence. Stosch, I think, had great collections relating to them; would they sell a separate part of his library? Could I get at any state letters and papers there? Do think of this; I assure you I do Thank you for the trouble you have taken about the Neapolitan books, and for the medals that are coming.
Colonel Campbell and the Duchess of Hamilton are married. My sister(1013) who was at the Opera last Tuesday, and went from thence to a great ball at the Duke of Bridgewater's, where she stayed till three in the morning, was brought to bed in less than four hours afterwards of a fifth boy: she has had two girls, too, and I believe left it entirely to this child to choose what it would be. Adieu! my dear Sir.
(1012) Count Firmian, who understood English, and was fond of English authors. Sir Horace Mann had given him the Royal and Noble Authors.
(1013) Lady Mary Churchill, only daughter of Sir Robert Walpole by his second wife.
481 Letter 308 To John Chute, Esq.(1014) Arlington Street, March 13, 1759.
I am puzzled to know how to deal with you: I hate to be Officious, it has a horrid look; and to let you alone till you die at the Vine of mildew, goes against my conscience, Don't it go against yours to keep all your family there till they are mouldy? Instead of sending you a physician, I will send you a dozen brasiers; I am persuaded that you want to be dried and aired more than physicked. For God's sake don't stay there any longer:—
"Mater Cyrene, mater quae gurgitis hujus Ima tenes—"
send him away!—Nymphs and Jew doctors! I don't know what I shall pray to next against your obstinacy.
No more news yet from Guadaloupe! A persecution seems to be raising against General Hobson—I don't wonder! Wherever Commodore Moore is, one may expect treachery and blood. Good night!
(1014) Now first printed.
482 Letter 309 To The Rev. Henry Zouch. Arlington Street, March 15, 1759.
Sir, You judge very rightly, Sir, that I do not intend to meddle with accounts of religious houses; I should not think of them at all unless I could learn the names of any of the architects, not of the founders. It is the history of our architecture that I should search after, especially the beautiful Gothic. I have by no means digested the plan of my intended work. The materials I have ready in great quantities in Vertue's MSS.; but he has collected little with regard to our architects, except Inigo Jones. As our painters have been very indifferent, I must, to make the work interesting, make it historical; I would mix it with anecdotes of patrons of the arts, and with dresses and customs from old pictures. something in the manner of Moulfaucon's Antiquities of France. I think it capable of being made a very amusing work, but I don't know whether I shall ever bestow the necessary time on it. At present, even my press is at a stop, my printer, who was a foolish Irishman, and who took himself for a genius, and who grew angry when I thought him extremely the former, and not the least of the latter, has left me, and I have Not yet fixed upon another.