The Letters of Horace Walpole, Volume 2
by Horace Walpole
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——Qui verbis restituit rem.

Have you yet received the -watch? I see your poor Neapolitan Prince(1073) is at last set aside—I should honour Dr. Serrao's integrity, if I did not think it was more humane to subscribe to the poor boy's folly, than hazard his being poisoned by making it doubtful.

My charming niece is breeding—you see I did not make my lord Waldegrave an useless present. Adieu! my dear Sir.

(1073) The King's second son, Don Philip, set aside for being in a state of incurable idiotcy.-E.

514 Letter 338 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. Strawberry Hill, Oct. 18, 1759.

I intended my visit to Park-place to show my lady Ailesbury that when I come hither it is not solely on your account, and yet I will not quarrel with my journey thither if I should find you there; but seriously I cannot help begging you to think whether you will go thither or not, just now. My first thought about you has ever been what was proper for you to do; and though you are the man in the world that think of that the most yourself, yet you know I have twenty scruples, which even you sometimes laugh at. I will tell them to You, and then you will judge, as you can best. Sir Edward Hawke and his fleet is dispersed, at least driven back to Plymouth: the French, if one may believe that they have broken a regiment for mutinying against embarking, were actually embarked at that instant. The most sensible people I know, always thought they would postpone their invasion, if ever they intended it, till our great ships could not keep the sea, or were eaten up by the scurvy. Their ports are now free; their situation is desperate: the new account of our taking Quebec leaves them in the most deplorable condition; they will be less able than ever to raise money, we have got ours for next year; and this event would facilitate it, if we had not: they must try for a peace, they have nothing to go to market with but Minorca. In short, if they cannot strike some desperate blow in this island or Ireland, they are undone: the loss of twenty thousand men to do us some mischief, would be cheap. I should even think Madame Pompadour in danger of being torn to pieces, if they did not make some attempt. Madame Maintenon, not half so unpopular, mentions in one of her letters her unwillingness to trust her niece Mademoiselle Aumale on the road, for fear of some such accident. You will smile perhaps at all this reasoning and pedantry; but it tends to this—if desperation should send the French somewhere, and the wind should force them to your coast, which I do not suppose their object, and you should be out of the way, you know what your enemies would say; and strange as it is, even you have been proved to have enemies. My dear Sir, think of this! Wolfe, as I am convinced, has fallen a sacrifice to his rash blame of you. If I understand any thing in the world, his letter that came on Sunday said this: "Qu'ebec is impregnable; it is flinging away the lives of brave men to attempt it. I am in the situation of Conway at Rochefort; but having blamed him, I must do what I now see he was in the right to see was wrong and yet what he would have done; and as I am commander-, which he was not, I have the melancholy power of doing what he was prevented doing."(1074) Poor man! his life has paid the price of his injustice; and as his death has purchased such benefit to his country, I lament him, as I am sure you, who have twenty times more courage and good-nature than I have, do too. In short, I, who never did any thing right or prudent myself, (not, I am afraid, for want of knowing what was so,) am content with your being perfect, and with suggesting any thing to you that may tend to keep you so;—and (what is not much to the present purpose) if such a pen as mine can effect it, the world hereafter shall know that you was so. In short, I have pulled down my Lord Falkland, and desire you will take care that I may speak the truth when I erect you in his place; for remember, I love truth even better than I love you. I always confess my own faults, and I will not palliate yours. But, laughing apart, if you think there is no weight in what I say, I shall gladly meet you at Park-place, whither I shall go on Monday, and stay as long as I can, unless I hear from you to the contrary. If you should think I have hinted any thing to you of consequence, would not it be handsome, if, after receiving leave you should write to my Lord Llegonier, that though you had been at home but one week in the whole summer, yet there might be occasion for your presence in the camp, you should decline the permission he had given you?- -See what it is to have a wise relation, who preaches a thousand fine things to you which he would be the last man in the world to practise himself. Adieu!

(1074) General Wolfe's letter, written four days before his death, which will be found in the Chatham Correspondence, does not contain a single sentence which can be tortured into the construction here given to it. "The extreme heat of the weather in August," he says, "and a good deal of fatigue, threw me into a fever; but that the business might go on, I begged the generals to consider amongst themselves what was fittest to be done. Their sentiments were unanimous, that (as the easterly winds begin to blow, and ships can pass the town in the night with provisions, Artillery, etc.) we "should endeavour, by conveying a considerable corps into the upper river, to draw them from their inaccessible situation and bring them to an action. I agreed to the proposal; and we are now here, with about three thousand six Hundred men, waiting an opportunity to attack them, when and wherever they can best be got at. The weather has been extremely unfavourable for a day or two, so that we have been inactive. I am so far recovered as to do business; but my constitution is entirely ruined, without the consolation of having done any considerable service to the state, or without any prospect of it." Walpole, however, in his animated description of the capture of Quebec, in his Memoires, does ample justice to the character of Wolfe. "His fall," he says, "was noble indeed. He received a wound in the head, but covered it from his soldiers with his handkerchief. A second ball struck him in the belly: that too he dissembled. A third hitting him on the breast, he sunk under the anguish, and was carried behind the ranks. Yet, fast as life ebbed out, his whole anxiety centred on the fortune of the day. He begged to be borne nearer to the action; but his sight being dimmed by the approach of death, he entreated to know what they who supported him saw; he was answered, that the enemy gave ground; he eagerly repeated the question; heard the enemy was totally routed; cried, 'I am satisfied!' and expired."-E.

516 Letter 339 To Sir Horace Mann. Strawberry Hill, Oct. 19, 1759.

I had no occasion to be in such a hurry to prepare your ambassadorial countenance; if I had stayed but one day more, I might have left its muscles to behave as they pleased. The notification of a probable disappointment at Quebec came only to heighten the pleasure of the conquest. You may now give yourself what airs you please, you are master of East and West Indies. An ambassador is the only man in the world whom bullying becomes: I beg your pardon, but you are spies, if you are not bragadochios. All precedents are on your side: Persians, Greeks, Romans, always insulted their neighbours when they conquered Quebec. Think how pert the French would have been on such an occasion, and remember that they are Austrians to whom you are to be saucy. You see, I write as if my name was Belleisle and yours Contades.

It was a very singular affair, the generals on both sides slain, and on both sides the second in command wounded; in short, very near what battles should be, in which only the principals ought to suffer. If their army has not ammunition and spirit enough to fall again upon ours before Amherst comes up, all North America is ours!

Poetic justice could not have been executed with more rigour than it has been on the perjury, treachery, and usurpations of the French. I hope Mr.-Pitt will not leave them at the next treaty an opportunity of committing so many national crimes again. How they or we can make a peace, I don't see; can we give all back, or they give all up? No, they must come hither; they have nothing left for @it but to conquer us.

Don't think it is from forgetting to tell you particulars, that I tell you none; I am here, and don't know one but what you will see in the Gazette, and by which it appears that the victory was owing to the impracticability, as the French thought, and to desperate resolution on our side. What a scene! an army in the night dragging itself up a precipice by stumps of trees to assault a town and attack an army strongly entrenched and double in numbers!

Adieu ! I think I shall not write to you again this twelvemonth; for, like Alexander, we have no more worlds left to conquer.

P. S. Monsieur Thurot is said to be sailed with his tiny squadron —but can the lords of America be afraid of half a dozen canoes ? Mr. Chute is sitting by me, and says, nobody is more obliged to Mr. Pitt than you are: he has raised you from a very comfortable situation to hold your head above the Capitol.

517 Letter 340 To George Montagu, Esq. Strawberry Hill, Oct. 21, 1759.

Your pictures shall be sent as soon as any of us go to London, but I think that will not be till the Parliament meets. Can we easily leave the remains of such a year as this? It is still all gold. I have not dined or gone to bed by a fire till the day before yesterday. Instead of the glorious and ever-memorable year 1759, as the newspapers call it, I call it this ever-warm and victorious year. We have not had more conquest than fine weather: one would think we had plundered East and West Indies of sunshine. Our bells are worn threadbare with ringing for victories. I believe it will require ten votes of the House of Commons before the people will believe it is the Duke of Newcastle that has done this, and not Mr. Pitt. One thing is very fatiguing—all the world is made knights or generals. Adieu I don't know a word of news less than the conquest of America. Adieu! yours ever.

P ' S. You shall hear from me again if we take Mexico or China before Christmas.

P. S. I had sealed my letter, but break it open again, having forgot to tell you that Mr. Cowslade has the pictures of Lord and Lady Cutts, and is willing to sell them.

518 Letter 341 To The Earl Of Strafford. Strawberry Hill, October 30th, 1759.

My dear lord, It would be very extraordinary indeed if I was not glad to see one Whose friendship does me so much honour as your lordship's, and who always expresses so much kindness to me. I have an additional reason for thanking you now, when you are creating a building after the design of the Strawberry committee. It will look, I fear, very selfish if I pay it a visit next year; and yet it answers so many selfish purposes that I certainly shall.

My ignorance of all the circumstances relating to Quebec is prodigious; I have contented myself with the rays of' glory that reached hither, without going to London to bask in them. I have not even seen the conqueror's mother(1075) though I hear she has covered herself with more laurel-leaves than were heaped on the children of the wood.

Seriously it is very great; and as I am too inconsiderable to envy Mr. Pitt, I give him all the honour he deserves.

I passed all the last week at Park-place, where one of the bravest men in the world, who is not permitted to contribute to our conquests, was indulged in being the happiest by being with one of the most deserving women—for Campbell-goodness no more wears out than Campbell-beauty—all their good qualities are huckaback.(1076) YOU See the Duchess(1077) has imbibed so much of' their durableness, that she is good-humoured enough to dine at a tavern at seventy-six.

Sir William Stanhope wrote to Mrs. Ellis,(1078) that he had pleased himself, having seen much of Mr. Nugent and Lady Berkeley this summer, and having been so charmed with the felicity of their menage, that he could not resist marrying again. His daughter replied, that it had always been her opinion, that people should please themselves, and that she was glad he had; but as to taking the precedent of Lady Berkeley, she hoped it would answer in nothing but in my Lady Stanhope having three children the first year. You see, my lord, Mrs. Ellis has bottled up her words(1079) till they sparkle at last!

I long to have your approbation of my Holbein-chamber; it has a comely sobriety that I think answers very well to the tone it should have. My new printing-house is finished, in order to pull down the old one, and lay the foundations next summer of my round tower. Then follows the gallery and chapel-cabinet. I hear your lordship has tapped your magnificent front too. Well, when all your magnificences and minimificences are finished, then, we—won't sit down and drink, as Pyrrhus said,—no, I trust we shall never conclude our plans so filthily: then—I fear we shall begin others. Indeed, I don't know what the Countess may do: if she imitates her mother, she will go to a tavern at fourscore, and then she and Pyrrhus may take a bottle together—-I hope she will live to try at least whether she likes it. -Adieu, both!

(1075) Lady Townshend. On the death of General Wolfe, Colonel Townshend received the surrender.

(1076) Lady Ailesbury and Lady Strafford, both preserved their beauty so long, that Mr. Walpole called them huck(iback beauties, that never wear out.

(1077) The Duchess of Argyle, widow of John Campbell, Duke of Argyle, and mother to Lady Strafford.

(1078) His daughter.

(1079) She was very silent.

519 Letter 342 To The Right Hon. Lady Hervey. Saturday, Nov. 3d, 1759.

Poor Robins' Almanack. Thick fogs, and some wet. Go not out of town. Gouts and rheumatisms are abroad. Warm clothes, good fires, and a room full of pictures, glasses, and scarlet damask are the best physic.

In short, for fear your ladyship should think of Strawberry on Saturday, I can't help telling you that I am to breakfast at Petersham that day with Mr. Fox and Lady Caroline, Lord and Lady Waldegrave. How did you like the farce? George Selwyn says he wants to see High Life below Stairs (1080) as he is weary of low life above stairs.

(1080) This popular' farce was written by the Rev. James Townley, high master of Merchant Tailors' School . Dr, Johnson said of it, "Here is a farce which is really very diverting when you see it acted, and yet one may read it and not know that one has been reading any thing at all;" and of the actors, Goldsmith tells us, that "Mr. Palmer and Mr. King were entirely what they desired to represent; and Mrs. Clive (but what need I talk of her, since without exaggeration she has more true humour than any actor or actress, upon the English or any other stage, I have seen), she, I say, did the part all the justice it was capable of." In England it was very successful; but in Edinburgh the gentlemen of the party-coloured livery raised violent riots in the theatre whenever it was performed.-E.

519 Letter 343 To George Montagu, Esq. Arlington Street, Nov. 8, 1759.

Your pictures will set out on Saturday; I give you notice that you may inquire for them. I did not intend to be here these three days, but my Lord Bath taking the trouble to send a man and horse to ask me to dinner yesterday, I did not know how to refuse; and, besides, as Mr. Bentley said to me, "you know he was an old friend of your father."

The town is empty, but is coming to dress itself for Saturday. My Lady Coventry showed George Selwyn her clothes; they are blue, with spots of silver, of the size of a shilling, and a silver trimming, and cost—my lord will know what. She asked George how he liked them; he replied, "Why, you will be change for a guinea."

I find nothing talked of but the French bankruptcy;(1081) Sir Robert Brown, I hear—and am glad to hear—will be a great sufferer. They put gravely into the article of bankrupts in the newspapers, "Louis le Petit, of the city of Paris, peace-breaker, dealer, and chapman;" it would have been still better if they had said, "Louis Bourbon of petty France." We don't know what is become of their Monsieur Thurot,(1082) of whom we had still a little mind to be afraid. I should think he would do like Sir Thomas Hanmer, make a faint effort, beg pardon of the Scotch for their disappointment, and retire. Here are some pretty verses just arrived.

Pourquoi le baton 'a Soubise, Puisque Chevert est le vainqueur? C'est de la cour une m'eprise, Ou bien le but de la faveur.

Je ne vois rien l'a qui m''etonne, Repond aussitot un railleur; C'est 'a l'aveugle qu'on le donne, Et non pas au COnducteur.

Lady Meadows has left nine thousand pounds in reversion after her husband to Lord Sandwich's daughter. Apropos to my Lady Meadow's maiden name,(1083) a name I believe you have sometimes heard: I was diverted t'other day with a story of a lady of that name,(1084) and a lord, whose initial is no farther from hers than he himself is sometimes supposed to be. Her postillion, a lad of sixteen, said, "I am not such a child but I can guess something: whenever my Lord Lyttelton comes to my lady, she orders the porter to let in nobody else, and then they call for a pen and ink, and say they are going to Write history." Is not this finesse so like him? 'Do you know that I am persuaded, now he is parted, that he will forget- he is married, and propose himself in form to some woman or other.

When do you come? if it is not soon, you will find a new town. I stared to-day at Piccadilly like a country squire; there are twenty new stone houses; at first I concluded that all the grooms, that used to live there, had got estates to build palaces. One young gentleman, who was getting an estate, but was so indiscreet as to step out of his way to rob a comrade, is convicted, and to be transported; in short, one of the waiters at Arthur's. George Selwyn says, "What a horrid idea he will give of us to the people in Newgate!"

I was still more surprised t'other day, than at seeing Piccadilly, by receiving a letter from the north of Ireland from a clergyman, with violent encomiums on my Catalogue of Noble Authors—and this when I thought it quite forgot. It put me in mind of the queen that sunk at Charing-cross and rose at Queenhithe.

Mr. Chute has got his commission to inquire about your Cutts, but he thinks the lady is not your grandmother. You are very ungenerous to hoard tales from me of your ancestry: what relation have I spared? If your grandfathers were knaves, will your bottling up their bad blood amend it? Do you only take a cup of it now and then by yourself, and then come down to your parson, and boast of it, as if it was pure old metheglin? I sat last night with the Mater Gracchorum—oh! 'tis a mater Jagorum; if her descendants taste any of her black blood, they surely will make as wry faces at it as the servant in Don John does when the ghost decants a corpse. Good night! I am just returning to Strawberry, to husband my two last days and to avoid all the pomp of the birthday. Oh! I had forgot, there is a Miss Wynne coming forth, that is to be handsomer than my Lady Coventry; but I have known one threatened with such every summer for these seven years, and they are always addled by winter!

(1081) The public credit in France, had, at this time, suffered a very severe blow, the court having stopped the payment of several of the public bills and funds to a vast amount.-E.

(1082) The captain of a privateer, who had commanded the French squadron off Dunkirk, destined for an attack on Scotland.-E.

(1083) Montagu.

(1084) Elizabeth, daughter of Matthew Robinson, Esq. of the Rokeby family, widow of Edward Montagu, grandson of the first Earl of Sandwich, and founder of the Blue-stocking Club. She wrote "Three Dialogues of the Dead," printed with those of Lord Lyttelton; and in 1769 published her "Essay on the Genius and Writings of Shakspeare." She died in 1800.-E.

521 Letter 344 To Sir Horace Mann. Arlington Street, Nov. 16, 1759.

Now the Parliament is met, you will expect some new news; you will be disappointed: no battles are fought in Parliament now— the House of Commons is a mere war-office, and only sits for the despatch of military business. As I am one of the few men in England who am neither in the army nor militia, I never go thither. By the King's speech, and Mr. Pitt's t'other speech, it looks as if we intended to finish the conquest of the world the next campaign. The King did not go to the House; his last eye is so bad that he could scarce read his answer to the address, though the letters were as long and as black as Ned Finch. He complains that every body's face seems to have a crape over it. A person much more expected and much more missed, was not at the House neither; Lord George Sackville. He came to town the night before the opening, but did not appear—it looks as if he gave every thing up. Did you hear that M. de Contades saluted Prince Ferdinand on his installation with twenty-one cannons? The French could distinguish the outside of the ceremony, and the Prince sent word to the marshal, that if he observed any bustle that day, he must not expect to be attacked-it would only be a chapter of the Garter.

A very extraordinary event happened the day after the meeting: Lord Temple resigned the privy-seal. The account he gives himself is, that he continued to be so ill used by the King, that it was notorious to all the world; that in hopes of taking off that reproach, he had asked for the Garter.(1085) Being refused, he had determined to resign, at the same time beseeching Mr. Pitt not to resent any thing for him, and insisting with his two brothers that they should keep their places, and act as warm as ever with the administration, That in an audience of twenty-five minutes he hoped he had removed his Majesty's prejudices, and should now go out of town as well satisfied as any man in England. The town says, that it was concerted that he should not quit till Mr. Pitt made his speech on the first day, declaring that nothing should make him break union with the rest of the ministers, no, not for the nearest friend he had. All this is mighty fine; but the affair is, nevertheless, very impertinent. If Lord Temple hoped to involve Mr. Pitt in his quarrel, it was very wicked at such a crisis as this—and if he could, I am apt to believe he would— if he could not, it was very silly. To the garter nobody can have slenderer pretensions; his family is scarce older than his earldom, which is of the youngest. His person is ridiculously, awkward; and if chivalry were in vogue, he has given proofs of having no passion for tilt and tournament. Here end@ the history of King George the Second, and Earl Temple the First.

We are still advised to believe in the invasion, though it seems as slow in coming as the millennium. M. Thurot and his pigmy navy have scrambled to Gottenburg, where it is thought they will freight themselves with half a dozen pounds of Swedes. We continue to militiate, and to raise light troops, and when we have armed every apprentice in England, I suppose we shall translate our fears to Germany. In the mean time the King is overwhelmed with addresses on our victories he will have enough to paper his palace. ITe told the City of London, that all was owing to unanimity, but I think he should have said, to unmanimity, for it were shameful to ascribe our brilliancy to any thing but Mr. Pitt. The new King of Spain seems to think that our fleet is the best judge of the incapacity of his eldest son, and of the fitness of his disposition of Naples, for he has expressed the highest confidence of Wall, and the strongest assurances of neutrality. I am a little sorry that Richcourt is not in Florence; it would be pleasant to dress yourself up in mural crowns and American plumes in his face. Adieu!


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