Lord Albemarle's places are not yet given away: ambassador at Paris, I suppose, there will be none; it was merely kept up to gratify him-besides, when we have no minister we can deliver no memorials. Lord Rochford is, I quite believe, to be groom of the stole: that leaves your Turin open—besides such trifles as a blue garter, the second troop of Guards, and the government of Virginia.
A death much more extraordinary is that of my Lord Mountford, who, having all his life aimed at the character of a moneyed man, and of an artfully money-getting man, has shot himself, on having ruined himself. If he had despised money, he could not have shot himself with more deliberate resolution. The Only points he seems to have considered in so mad an action, were, not to be thought mad, and which would be the easiest method of despatching Himself. It is strange that the passage from life to death should be an object, when One is unhappy enough to be determined to change one for the other.
I warned you in my last not to wonder if you should hear that either Mr. Pitt or Mr. Fox had kissed hands for secretary of state; the latter has kissed the secretary of State's hand for being a cabinet councillor.(547) The more I see, the more I am confirmed in my idea of this being the age of abortions.
I have received yours of December 13th, and find myself obliged to my Lord of Cork for a remembrance of me, which I could not expect he should have preserved. Lord Huntingdon I know very well, and like very much: he has parts, great good breeding, and will certainly make a figure. You are lucky in such company; yet I wish you had Mr. Brand!
I need not desire you not to believe the stories of such a mountebank as Taylor:(548) I only wonder that he should think the names of our family a recommendation at Rome; we are not conscious of any such merit: nor have any Of our eyes ever wanted to be put out. Adieu! my dear Sir, my dear Sir Horace.
(543) Mr. Mann was on the ]5th of February created a baronet, with a reversion to his brother Galfridus.-E.
(544) For an interesting account of this magnificent spendthrift, see M'emoires de Marmontel.-D.
(545) Lady Anne Lenox, sister of Charles Duke of Richmond.
(546) George Lord Viscount Bury, lord of the bedchamber to the Duke, and colonel of a regiment; Augustus, captain of a man-of-war, who was with Lord Anson in his famous expedition; and William, colonel of the Guards, and aide-de-camp to the Duke,; the two other sons were very young.
(547) "I proposed an interview between Fox and the Duke of Newcastle, which produced the following agreement-that Fox should be called up to the cabinet council; that employments should be given to some of his friends, who were not yet provided for; and that others, who had places already, should be removed to bigger stations. Fox, during the whole negotiation, behaved like a man of sense and a man of honour; very frank, very explicit, and not very unreasonable." Waldegrave's Memoirs.-E.
(548) A quack oculist. [Generally called the Chevalier Taylor. He published his travels in 1762; in which he styled himself "Ophthalmiator Pontifical, Imperial, Royal," etc.]
238 Letter 123 To Richard Bentley, Esq. Arlington Street, Feb. 8, 1755.
My dear sir, By the wagon on Thursday there set out for Southampton a lady whom you must call Phillis, but whom George Montagu and the Gods would name Speckle-belly. Peter begged her for me; that is, for you; that is, for Captain Dumaresque, after he had been asked three guineas for another. I hope she will not be poisoned with salt-water, like the poor Poyangers.(549) If she should, you will at least observe, that your commissions are not stillborn with me, as mine are with you. I draw(550) a spotted dog, the moment you desire it.
George Montagu has intercepted the description I promised you of the Russian masquerade: he wrote to beg it, and I cannot transcribe from myself. In a few words, there were all the beauties, and all the diamonds, and not a few of the uglies of London. The Duke,(551) like Osman the Third, seemed in the centre of his new seraglio, and I believe my lady and I thought that my Lord Anson was the chief eunuch. My Lady Coventry was dressed in a great style, and looked better than ever. Lady Betty Spencer, like Rubens's wife (not the common one with the hat), had all the bloom and bashfulness and wildness of youth, with all the countenance of all the former Marlboroughs. Lord Delawar was an excellent mask, from a picture at Kensington of Queen Elizabeth's porter. Lady Caroline Petersham, powdered with diamonds and crescents for a Turkish slave, was still extremely handsome. The hazard was excessively deep, to the astonishment of some Frenchmen of quality who are here, and who I believe, from what they saw that night, will not write to their court to dissuade their armaments, on its not being worth their while to attack so beggarly a nation. Our fleet is as little despicable; but though the preparations on both sides are so great, I believe the storm will blow over. They insist on our immediately sending an ambassador to Paris; and to my great satisfaction, my cousin and friend Lord Hertford is to be the man. This is still an entire secret here, but will be known before you receive this. The weather is very bitter, and keeps me from Strawberry. Adieu!
(549) Mr. Walpole having called his gold-fish pond Poyang, calls the gold-fish Poyangers.
(550) Alluding to Mr. Bentley's dilatoriness in exercising his pencil at the request of Mr. Walpole.
(551) William Duke of Cumberland.
239 Letter 124 To Richard Bentley, Esq. Arlington Street, Feb. 23, 1755.
My dear sir, Your argosie is arrived safe; thank you for shells, trees, cones; but above all, thank you for the landscape. As it is your first attempt in oils, and has succeeded so much beyond my expectation, (and being against my advice too, you may believe the sincerity of my praises,) I must indulge my Vasarihood, and write a dissertation upon it. You have united and mellowed your colours, in a manner to make it look like an old picture; yet there is something in the tone of it that is not quite right. Mr. Chute thinks that you should have exerted more of your force in tipping with light the edges on which the sun breaks: my own opinion is, that the result of the whole is not natural, by your having joined a Claude Lorrain summer sky to a winter sea, which you have drawn from the life. The water breaks fine] but the distant hills are too strong, and the outlines much too hard ..The greatest fault is the trees (not apt to be your stumbling-block): they are not of a natural green, have no particular resemblance, and are out of all proportion too large for the figures. Mend these errors, and work away in oil. I am impatient to see some Gothic ruins of your painting. This leads me naturally to thank you for the sweet little cul-de-lampe to the entail it is equal to any thing you have done in perspective and for taste but the boy is too large.
For the block of granite I shall certainly think a louis well bestowed—provided I do but get the block, and that you are sure it will be equal to the sample you sent me. My room remains in want of a table; and as it will take so much time to polish it, I do wish you would be a little expeditious in sending it.
I have but frippery news to tell you; no politics; for the rudiments of a war, that is not to be a war, are not worth detailing. In short, we have acted with spirit, have got ready thirty ships of the line, and conclude that the French will not care to examine whether they are well manned or not. The House of Commons hears nothing but elections; the Oxfordshire till seven at night three times a week: we have passed ten evenings on the Colchester election, and last Monday sat upon it till near two in the morning. Whoever stands a contested election, and pays for his seat, and attends the first session, surely buys the other six very dear!
The great event is the catastrophe of Sir John Bland(552) who has flirted away his whole fortune at hazard. He t'other night exceeded what was lost by the late Duke of Bedford, having at one period of the night (though he recovered the greatest part of it) lost two-and-thirty thousand pounds. The citizens put on their double-channeled pumps and trudge to St. James's Street, in expectation of seeing judgments executed on White's—angels with flaming swords, and devils flying away with dice-boxes, like the prints in Sadeler's Hermits. Sir John lost this immense sum to a Captain * @ * * *, who at present has nothing but a few debts and his commission.
Garrick has produced a detestable English opera, which is crowded by all true lovers of their country. To mark the opposition to Italian operas, it is sung by some cast singers, two Italians, and a French girl, and the chapel boys; and to regale us with sense, it is Shakspeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, which is forty times more nonsensical than the worst translation of any Italian opera-books. But such sense and such harmony are irresistible!
I am at present confined with a cold, which I caught by going to a fire in the middle of the night, and in the middle of the snow, two days ago. About five in the morning Harry waked me with a candle in his hand, and cried, "Pray, your honour, don't be frightened!"—"No, Harry, I am not: but what is it that I am not to be frightened at?" —"There is a great fire here in St. James's Street."—I rose, and indeed thought all St. James's Street was on fire, but it proved in Bury Street. However, you know I can't resist going to a fire; for it Is certainly the only horrid sight that is fine. I slipped on my slippers, and an embroidered suit that hung on the chair, and ran to Bury Street, and stepped into a pipe that was broken up for water.—It would have made a picture—the horror of the flames, the snow, the day breaking with difficulty through so foul a night, and my figure, party per pale, mud and gold. It put me in mind of Lady Margaret Herbert's providence, who asked somebody for a pretty pattern for a nightcap. "Lord!" said they, "what signifies the pattern for a nightcap?" "Oh! child," said she, "but you know, in case of fire." There were two houses burnt, and a poor maid; an officer jumped out of window, and is much hurt, and two young beauties were conveyed out the same way in their shifts. there have been two more great fires. Alderman Belchier's house at Epsom, that belonged to the Prince, is burnt, and Beckford's fine house(553) in the country, with pictures and furniture to a great value. He says, "Oh! I have an odd fifty thousand pounds in a drawer: I will build it up again: it won't be above a thousand pounds apiece difference to my thirty children." Adieu!
(552) Who shot himself at Kippax Park.-E.
(553) At Fonthill, in Wiltshire. The loss was computed at thirty thousand pounds.-E.
241 letter 125 To Richard Bentley, Esq. Arlington Street, March 6, 1755.
My dear sir, I have to thank you for two letters and a picture. I hope my thanks will have a more prosperous journey than my own letters have had of late. You say you have received none since January 9th. I have written three since that. I take care, in conjunction with the times, to make them harmless enough for the post. Whatever secrets I may have (and you know I have no propensity to mystery) will keep very well till I have the happiness of seeing you, though that date should be farther off than I hope. As I mean my letters should relieve some of your anxious or dull minutes, I will tempt no postmasters or secretaries to retard them. The state of affairs is much altered since my last epistle that persuaded you of the distance of a war. So haughty and so ravenous an answer came from France, that my Lord Hertford does not go. As a little islander, you may be very easy: Jersey is not prey for such fleets as are likely to encounter in the channel in April. You must tremble in your Bigendian capacity, if you mean to figure as a good citizen. I sympathize with you extremely in the interruption it will give to our correspondence. You, in an inactive little spot, cannot wish more impatiently for every post that has the probability of a letter, than I, in all the turbulence of London, do constantly, never-failingly, for letters from you. Yet by my busy, hurried, amused, irregular way of life, you would not imagine that I had much time to care for my friends@ You know how late I used to rise: it is worse and worse: I stay late at debates and committees; for, with all our tranquillity and my indifference, I think I am never out of the House of Commons: from thence, it is the fashion of the winter to go to vast assemblies, which are followed by vast suppers, and those by balls. Last week I was from two at noon till ten at night at the House: I came home, dined, new-dressed myself entirely, went to a ball at Lord Holderness's, and stayed till five in the morning. What an abominable young creature! But why may not I be so! Old Haslang(554) dances at sixty-five; my Lady Rochford without stays, and her husband the new groom of the stole, dance. In short, when secretaries of state, cabinet councillors, foreign ministers, dance like the universal ballet in the Rehearsal, why should not I—see them? In short, the true definition of me is, that I am a dancing senator—Not that I do dance, or do any thing by being a senator: but I go to balls, and to the House of Commons-to look on: and you will believe me when I tell you, that I really think the former the more serious occupation of the two; at least the performers are most in earnest. What men say to women, is at least as sincere as what they say to their country. If perjury can give the devil a right to the souls of men, he has titles by as many ways as my Lord Huntingdon is descended from Edward the Third.
(554) Count de Haslang, many years minister from Bavaria to the British court.-E.
242 Letter 126 To Sir Horace Mann. Arlington Street, March 10, 1755.
having already wished you joy of your chivalry, I would not send you a formal congratulation on the actual despatch of your patent: I had nothing new to tell you: forms between you and me would be new indeed.
You have heard of the nomination of my friend and relation, Lord Hertford,(555) to the embassy of Paris: you will by this time have learned or perceived, that he is not likely to go thither. They have sent demands too haughty to be admitted, and we are preparing a fleet to tell them we think so. In short, the prospect is very warlike. The ministry are so desirous of avoiding it, that they make no preparations on land—will that prevent it?—Their partisans d-n the plantations, and ask if we are to involve ourselves in a war for them? Will that question weigh with planters and West Indians? I do not love to put our trust in a fleet only: however, we do not touch upon the Pretender; the late rebellion suppressed is a comfortable ingredient, at least, in a new war. You know I call this the age of abortions: who knows but the egg of this war may be addled?
Elections, very warm in their progress, very insignificant in their consequence, very tedious in their attendance, employ the Parliament solely. The King wants to go abroad, and consequently to have the Houses prorogued: the Oxfordshire election says no to him: the war says no to him: the town say we shall sit till June. Balls, masquerades, and diversions don't trouble their heads about the Parliament or the war: the righteous, who hate pleasures and love prophecies, (the most unpleasant things in the world, except their completion,) are finding out parallels between London and Nineveh, and other goodly cities of old, who went to operas and ridottos when the French were at their gates—yet, if Arlington Street were ten times more like to the most fashionable street in Tyre or Sidon, it should not alarm me: I took all my fears out in the rebellion: I was frightened enough then; I will never have another panic. I would not indeed be so pedantic as to sit in St. James's market in an armed chair to receive the French, because the Roman consuls received the Gauls in the forum. They shall be in Southwark before I pack up a single miniature.
The Duke of Dorset goes no more to Ireland: Lord Hartington is to be sent thither with the olive branch. Lord Rochford is groom of the stole; Lord Poulet has resigned the bedchamber on that preference, and my nephew and Lord Essex are to be lords of the bedchamber. It is supposed that the Duke of Rutland will be master of the horse, and the Dorset again lord steward. But all this will come to you as very antique news, if a whisper that your brother has heard to-day be true, of your having taken a trip to Rome. If you are there when you receive this, pray make my Lady Pomfret's(556) compliments to the statues in the Capitol, and inform them that she has purchased her late lord's collection of statues, and presented them to the University of Oxford. The present Earl, her son, is grown a speaker in the House of Lords, and makes comparisons between Julius Caesar and the watchmen of Bristol, in the same style as he compared himself to Cerberus, who, when he had one head cut off three others sprang up in its room. I shall go to-morrow to Dr. Mead's sale, and ruin myself in bronzes and vases—but I will not give them to the University of Oxford. Adieu! my dear Sir Knight.
(555) Francis Seymour Conway, Earl of Hertford; his mother was sister to Lady Walpole.
(556) Henrietta Louisa, Countess-dowager of pomfret, having quarrelled with her eldest son, who was ruined and forced to sell the furniture of his seat at Easton Neston, bought his statues, which had been part of the Arundelian collection, and had been purchased by his grandfather.
243 Letter 127 To Richard Bentley, Esq. Arlington Street, March 27, 1755.
Your chimney(557) is come, but not to honour: the caryatides are fine and free, but the rest is heavy: Lord Strafford is not at all struck with it, and thinks it old-fashioned: it certainly tastes of Inigo Jones.
Your myrtles I have seen in their pots, and they are magnificent, but I fear very sickly. In return, I send you a library. You will receive, some time or other, or the French for you, the following books: a fourth volume of Dodsley's Collection Of Poems, the worst tome of the four; three volumes of Worlds; Fielding's Travels, or rather an account how his dropsy was treated and teased by an inn-keeper's wife in the Isle of Wight; the new Letters of Madame de S'evign'e, and Hume's History of Great Britain; a book which, though more decried than ever book was, and certainly with faults, I cannot help liking much. It is called Jacobite, but in my opinion is only not George-abite: where others abuse the Stuarts, he laughs at them: I am sure he does not spare their ministers. Harding,(558) who has the History of England at the ends of his parliament fingers, says, that the Journals will contradict most of his facts. If it is so, I am sorry; for his style, which is the best we have in history, and his manner imitated from Voltaire, are very pleasing. He has showed very clearly that we ought to quarrel originally with Queen Elizabeth's tyranny for most of the errors of Charles the First. As long as he is Willing to sacrifice some royal head, I would not much dispute with him which it should be. I incline every day to lenity, as I see more and more that it is being very partial to think worse of some men than of others. If I was a king myself, I dare say I should cease to love a republic. My Lady Rochford desired me t'other day to give her a motto for a ruby ring, which had been given by a handsome woman of quality to a fine man; he gave it to his mistress, she to Lord * * * * *, he to my lady: who, I think, does not deny that it has not yet finished its travels. I excused myself for some time, on the difficulty of reducing such a history to a poesy—at last I proposed this:
"This was given by woman to man, and by man to woman."
Are you most impatient to hear of a French war, or the event of the Mitchell election? If the former is uppermost in your thoughts, I can tell you, you are very unfashionable.' The Whigs and Tories at Rome, Athens, and Jerusalem never forgot national points with more zeal, to attend to private faction, than we have lately. After triumphs repeated in the committee, Lord Sandwich and Mr. Fox were beaten largely on the report. It was a most extraordinary day! The Tories, who could not trust one another for two hours, had their last consult at the Horn Tavern just before the report, and all but nine or ten voted in a body (with the Duke of Newcastle) against agreeing to it: then Sir John Philipps, one of them, moved for a void election, but was deserted by most of his clan. We now begin to turn our hands to foreign war. In the rebellion, the ministry was so unsettled that nobody seemed to care who was king. Power is now so established that I must do the engrossers the justice to say, that they seem to be determined that their own King shall continue so. Our fleet is great and well manned; we are raising men and money, and messages have been sent to both houses from St. James's, which have been answered by very zealous cards. In the mean time, sturdy mandates are arrived from France; however with a codicil of moderation, and power to Mirepoix still to treat. He was told briskly "Your terms must come speedily; the fleets will sail very quickly; war cannot then be avoided."
I have passed five entire days lately at Dr. Mead's sale, where, however, I bought very little: as extravagantly as he paid for every thing, his name has even resold them with interest. Lord Rockingham gave two hundred and thirty guineas for the Antinous—the dearest bust that, I believe, was ever sold; yet the nose and chin were repaired and very ill. Lord Exeter bought the Homer for one hundred and thirty. I must tell you a piece of fortune: I supped the first night of the sale at Bedford-house, and found my Lord Gower dealing at silver pharaoh to the women. "Oh!" said I laughing, "I laid out six-and-twenty pounds this morning, I will try if I can win it back," and threw a shilling upon a card: in five minutes I won a five-hundred leva, which was twenty-five pounds eleven shillings. I have formerly won a thousand leva, and at another five hundred leva. With such luck, shall not I be able to win you back again?
Last Wednesday I gave a feast in form to the Hertfords. There was the Duke of Grafton, Lord and Lady Hertford, Mr. Conway, and Lady Ailesbury; in short, all the Conways in the world, my Lord Orford, and the Churchills. We dined in the drawing-room below stairs, amidst the Eagle, Vespasian, etc. You never saw so Roman a banquet; but withal my virt'u, the bridegroom seemed the most venerable piece of antiquity. Good night! The books go to Southampton on Monday. Yours ever.
(557) A design for a chimney-piece, which, at Mr. Walpole's desire, Mr. Bentley had made for Lord Strafford.
(558) Nicholas Harding, Esq. clerk of the House of Commons.-E.
245 Letter 128 To Richard Bentley, Esq. Strawberry Hill, April 13, 1755.
If I did not think that you would expect to hear often from me at so critical a season, I should certainly not write to you to-night: I am here alone, out of spirits, and not well. In short, I have depended too much upon my constitution being like
"Grass, that escapes the scythe by being low"
and having nothing of the oak in the sturdiness of my stature, I imagined that my mortality would remain pliant as long as I pleased. But I have taken so little care of myself this winter, and kept such bad hours, that I have brought a slow fever upon my nights, and am worn to a skeleton: Bethel has plump cheeks to mine. However, as it would be unpleasant to die just at the beginning of a war, I am taking exercise and air, and much sleep, and intend to see Troy taken. The prospect thickens; there are certainly above twelve thousand men at the Isle of Rh'e; some say twenty thousand. An express was yesterday despatched to Ireland, where it is supposed the storm will burst; but unless our fleet can disappoint the embarkation, I don't see what service the notification can do: we have quite disgarnished that kingdom of troops; and if they once land, ten thousand men may walk from one end of the island to the other. It begins to be thought that the King will not go abroad; that he cannot, every body has long thought. You will be entertained with a prophecy which my Lord Chesterfield has found in the 35th chapter of Ezekiel, which clearly promises us victory over the French, and expressly relates to this war, as it mentions the two countries (Nova Scotia and Acadia) which are the point in dispute. You will have no difficulty in allowing that mounseer, is typical enough of France: except Cyrus, who is the only heathen prince mentioned by his right name, and that before he had any name, I know no power so expressly described.
"2. Son of man, set thy face against Mount Seir, and prophecy against it. 3. And say unto it, Thus saith the Lord God: O Mount Seir, I am against thee; and I will stretch out mine hand against thee, and I will make thee most desolate. 4. I will lay thy cities waste, and thou shalt be desolate, etc. 10. Because thou hast said, These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess it."
I am disposed to put great trust in this prediction; for I know few things more in our favour. You will ask me naturally, what is to become of you? Are you to be left to all the chance of war, the uncertainty of packets, the difficulty of remittance, the increase of prices?—My dear sir, do you take me for a prime minister, who acquaints the states that they are in damned danger, when it is about a day too late? Or shall I order my chancellor to assure you, that this is numerically the very day on which it is fit to give such notification, and that a day sooner or a day later would be improper?— But not to trifle politically with you, your redemption is nearer than you think for, though not complete: the terms a little depend upon yourself. You must send me an account, strictly and upon your honour, what your debts are: as there is no possibility for the present but of compounding them, I put my friendship upon it, that you answer me sincerely. Should you, upon the hopes of facilitating your return, not deal ingenuously with me, which I will not suspect, it would occasion what I hope will never happen. Some overtures are going to be made to Miss * * * *, to ward off impediments from her. In short, though I cannot explain any of the means, your fortune wears another face; and if you send me immediately, upon your honour, a faithful account of what I ask, no time will be lost to labour your return, which I wish so much, and of which I have said so little lately, as I have had better hopes of it. Don't joke with me upon this head, as you sometimes do: be explicit, be open in the most unbounded manner, and deal like a man of sense with a heart that deserves that you should have no disguises to it. You know me and my style: when I engage earnestly as I do in this business, I can't bear not to be treated in my own way.
Sir Charles Williams is made ambassador to Russia; which concludes all I know. But at such a period two days may produce much, and I shall not send away my letter till I am in town on Tuesday. Good night!
All the officers of the Irish establishment are ordered over thither immediately: Lord Hartington has offered to go directly,(559) and sets out with Mr. Conway this day se'nnight. The journey to Hanover is positive: what if there should be a crossing-over and figuring-in of kings? I know who don't think all this very serious; so that, if you have a mind to be in great spirits, you may quote Lord Hertford. He went to visit the Duchess of Bedford t'other morning, just after Lord Anson had been there and told her his opinion. She asked Lord Hertford what news? He knew none. "Don't you hear there will be certainly war?" "No, Madam: I saw Mr. Nugent yesterday, and he did not tell me any thing of it." She replied, "I have Just seen a man who must know, and who thinks it unavoidable." "Nay, Madam, perhaps it may: I don't think a little war would do us any harm." Just as if he had said, losing a little blood in spring is very wholesome; or that a little hissing would not do the Mingotti any harm!
I went t'other morning to see the sale of Mr. Pelham's plate, with George Selwyn—"Lord!" says he, "how many toads have been eaten off those plates!" Adieu! I flatter myself that this will be a comfortable letter to you: but I must repeat, that I expect a very serious answer, and very sober resolutions. If I treat you like a child, consider you have been so. I know I am in the right—more delicacy would appear kinder, without being so kind. As I wish and intend to restore and establish your happiness, I shall go thoroughly to work. You don't want an apothecary, but a surgeon—but I shall give you over at once, if you are either froward or relapse. Yours till then.
(559) As viceroy.
247 Letter 129 To Sir Horace Mann. Arlington Street, April 22, 1755.
My dear sir, Your brother and Mr. Chute have just left me in the design of writing to you; that is, I promised your brother I would, if I could make out a letter. I have waited these ten days, expecting to be able to send you a war at least, if not an invasion. For so long, we have been persuaded that an attempt would be made on Ireland; we have fetched almost all the troops from thence; and therefore we have just now ordered all the officers thither, and the new Lord Lieutenant is going to see if he has any government left: the old Lord Lieutenant goes on Sunday to see whether he has any Electorate left. Your brother says, he hears to-day that the French fleet are sailed for America: I doubt it; and that the New-Englanders have been forming a secret expedition, and by this time have taken Cape Breton again, or something very considerable. I remember when the former account came of that conquest, I was stopped in my chariot, and told, "Cape Breton is taken." I thought the person said "Great Britain is taken." "Oh!" said I, "I am not at all surprised at that; drive on, coachman." If you should hear that the Pretender and the Pretend@e have crossed over and figured in, shall you be much more surprised?
Mr. Chute and I have been motto-hunting(560) for you, but we have had no sport. The sentence that puns the best upon your name, and suits the best with your nature, is too old, too common, and belongs already to the Talbots, Humani nihil alienum. The motto that punning upon your name suits best with your public character, is the most heterogeneous to your private, Homo Homini Lupus—forgive my puns, I hate them; but it shows how I have been puzzled, and how little I have succeeded. If I could pity Stosch, it would be for the edict by which Richcourt incorporates his collection-but when he is too worthless to be pitied living, can one feel for a hardship that is not to happen to him till he is dead? How ready 1 should be to quarrel with the Count for such a law, if I was driving to Louis,(561) at the Palazzo Vecchio!
Adieu! my dear child; I am sensible that this is a very scrap of a letter; but unless the Kings of England and France will take more care to supply our correspondence, and not be so dilatory, is it my fault that I am so concise? Sure, if they knew how much postage they lost, by not supplying us with materials for letters, they would not mind flinging away eight or ten thousand men every fortnight.
(560) It was necessary for him to have a motto to his arms, as a baronet.
(561) Louis Siriez, a French goldsmith at Florence, who sold curiosities, and lodged in the old palace at Florence.
248 Letter 130 To Richard Bentley, Esq. Arlington Street, April 24, 1755.
I don't doubt but you will conclude that this letter, written so soon after my last, comes to notify a great sea-victory, or defeat; or that the French are landed in Ireland, and have taken and fortified Cork; that they have been joined by all the wild Irish, who have proclaimed the Pretender, and are charmed with the prospect of being governed by a true descendant of the Mac-na-O's; or that the King of Prussia, like an unnatural nephew, has seized his uncle and Schutz in a post-chaise, and obliged them to hear the rehearsal of a French opera of his own composing—No such thing! If you will be guessing, you will guess wrong—all I mean to tell you is, that thirteen gold fish, caparisoned in coats of mail, as rich as if Mademoiselle Scuderi had invented their armour, embarked last Friday on a secret expedition; which, as Mr. Weekes(562) and the wisest politicians of Twickenham concluded, was designed against the island of Jersey-but to their consummate mortification, Captain Chevalier is detained by a law-suit, and the poor Chinese adventurers are now frying under deck below bridge. In short, if your governor is to have any gold fish, you must come and manage their transport yourself. Did you receive my last letter? If you did, you will not think it impossible that you should preside at such an embarkation.
The war is quite gone out of fashion, and seems adjourned to America: though I am disappointed, I am not surprised. You know my despair about this eventless age! How pleasant to have lived in times when one could have been sure every week of being able to write such a paragraph as this!—"We hear that the Christians who were on their voyage for the recovery of the Holy Land, have been massacred in Cyprus by the natives, who were provoked at a rape and murder committed in a church by some young noblemen belonging to the Nuncio"—; or— "Private letters from Rome attribute the death of his Holiness to poison, which they pretend was given to him in the sacrament, by the Cardinal of St. Cecilia, whose mistress he had debauched. The same letters add, that this Cardinal stands the fairest for succeeding to the Papal tiara; though a natural son of the late Pope is supported by the whole interest of Arragon and Naples." Well! since neither the Pope nor the most Christian King, will play the devil, I must condescend to tell you flippancies of less dignity. There is a young Frenchman here, called Monsieur Herault. Lady Harrington carried him and his governor to sup with her and Miss Ashe at a tavern t'other night. I have long said that the French were relapsed into barbarity, and quite ignorant of the world. You shall judge: in the first place, the young man was bashful: in the next, the governor, so ignorant as not to have heard of women of fashion carrying men to a tavern, thought it incumbent upon him to do the honours for his pupil, who was as modest and as much in a state of nature as the ladies themselves, and hazarded some familiarities with Lady Harrington. The consequence was, that the next morning she sent a card-to both, to desire they would not come to her ball that evening, to which she had invited them, and to beg the favour of them never to come into her house again. Adieu! I am prodigal of my letters, as I hope not to write you many more.
(562) A carpenter at Twickenham, employed by Mr. Walpole.
250 Letter 131 To George Montagu, Esq. Arlington Street, May 4, as they call it, but the weather andthe almanack of my feelings affirm it is December.
I will answer your questions as well as I can, though I must do it shortly, for I write in a sort of hurry. Osborn could not find Lord Cutts,(563) but I have discovered another, in an auction, for which I shall bid for you. Mr. Muntz has been at Strawberry these three weeks, tight at work, so your picture is little advanced, but as soon as he returns it shall be finished. I have chosen the marbles for your tomb; but you told me you had agreed on the price, which your steward now says I was to settle. Mr. Bentley still waits the conclusion of the session, before he can come amongst us again. Every thing has passed with great secrecy: one would think the devil was afraid of being tried for his life, for he has not even directed Madame Bentley to the Old Bailey. Mr. Mann does not mend, but how should he in such weather?
We wait with impatience for news from Minorca. there is a Prince of Nassau Welbourg, who wants to marry Princess Caroline of Orange; he is well-looking enough, but a little too tame to cope with such blood. He is established at the Duke of Richmond's, with a large train, for two months. He was last night at a great ball at my Lady Townshend's, whose Audrey will certainly get Lord George Lenox.(564) George Selwyn, t'other night, seeing Lady Euston with Lady Petersham, said, "There's my Lady Euston, and my Lady us'd to't." Adieu!
(563) Sir John, created Lord Cutts of Gowran in 1690, distinguished himself at the siege of Buda: he accompanied King William to England, was made a lieutenant-general, and died without issue in 1707. Sir Richard Steele dedicated to him his "Christian Hero." Lord Cutts married Mr. Montagu's grandmother; he was her third husband.-E.
(564) Lord George Lenox married Lady Louisa Ker, daughter of the Marquis of Lothian. Audrey married Captain Orme.-E.
250 Letter 132 To Richard Bentley, Esq. Arlington Street, May 6, 1755.
My dear sir, Do you get my letters'! or do I write only for the entertainment of the clerks of the post-office? I have not heard from you this month! It will be very unlucky if my last to you has miscarried, as it required an answer, of importance to you, and very necessary to my satisfaction.
I told you of Lord Poulet's intended motion. He then repented, and wrote to my Lady Yarmouth and Mr. Fox to mediate his pardon. Not contented with his reception, he determined to renew his intention. Sir Cordell Firebrace(565) took it up, and intended to move the same address in the Commons, but was prevented by a sudden adjournment. However, the last day but one of the session, Lord Poulet read his motion, which was a speech. My Lord Chesterfield (who of all men living seemed to have no business to defend the Duke of Newcastle after much the same sort of ill usage) said the motion was improper, and moved to adjourn.(566) T'other Earl said, "Then pray, my Lords, what is to become of my motion?" The House burst out a-laughing: he divided it, but was single. He then advertised his papers as lost. Legge, in his punning style, said, "My Lord Poulet has had a stroke of an apoplexy; he has lost both his speech and motion." It is now printed; but not having succeeded in prose, he is turned poet—you may guess how good!
The Duke(567) is at the head of the Regency-you may guess if we are afraid! -Both fleets are sailed. The night the King went, there was a magnificent ball and supper at Bedford House. The Duke was there: he was playing at hazard with a great heap of gold before him; somebody said, he looked like the prodigal son and the fatted calf both. In the dessert was a model of Walton Bridge in glass. Yesterday I gave a great breakfast at Strawberry Hill to the Bedford court. There were the Duke and Duchess, Lord Tavistock and Lady Caroline, my Lord and Lady Gower, Lady Caroline Egerton, Lady Betty Waldegrave, Lady Mary Coke, Mrs. Pitt,(568) Mr. Churchill and Lady Mary, Mr. Bap. Leveson,(569) and Colonel Sebright. The first thing I asked Harry was, "Does the sun shine?" It did; and Strawberry was all gold, and all green. I am not apt to think people really like it, that is, understand it—, but I think the flattery of yesterday was sincere; I judge by the notice the Duchess took of your drawings. Oh! how you will think the shades of Strawberry extended! Do you observe the tone of satisfaction with which I say this, as thinking it near? Mrs. Pitt brought her French horns: we placed them in the corner of the wood, and it was delightful. Poyang has great custom: I have lately given Count Perron some gold fish, which he has carried in his post-chaise to Turin: he has already carried some before. The Russian minister has asked me for some too, but I doubt their succeeding there; unless, according to the universality of my system, every thing is to be found out at last, and practised every where.
I have got a new book that will divert you, called Anecdotes Litteraires: it is a collection of stories and bons-mots of all the French writers; but so many of their bons-mots are impertinences, follies, and vanities, that I have blotted out the title, and written Mis'eres des S'cavants. It is a triumph for the ignorant. Gray says, very justly, that learning never should be encouraged, it only draws out fools from their obscurity; and you know I have always thought a running footman as meritorious a being as a learned man. Why is there more merit in having travelled one's eyes over so many reams of paper than in having carried one's legs over so many acres of ground? Adieu, my dear Sir! Pray don't be taken prisoner to France, just when you are expected at Strawberry!
(565) Member for the county of Suffolk. He died in 1759.-E.
(566) "It was," writes Lord Chesterfield to Mr. Dayrolles, on the 2d of May, "an indecent, ungenerous, and malignant question, which I had no mind should either be put or debated, well knowing the absurd and improper things that would be said both for and against it, and therefore I moved for the House to adjourn. As you will imagine that this was agreeable to the King, it is supposed that I did it to make my court, and people are impatient to see what great employment I am to have; for that I am to have one, they do not in the least doubt, not having any notion that any man can take any step without some view of dirty interest. I do not undeceive them. I have nothing to fear; I have nothing to ask; and there is nothing that I can or will have."-E.
(567) The Duke of Cumberland.
(568) Wife@, of George Pitt of Strathfieldsaye, and daughter of Sir Henry Atkins.-E.
(569) The Honourable Baptist Leveson, youngest son of the first Lord Gower.
252 Letter 133 To George Montagu, Esq. Arlington Street, May 13, 1755.
It is very satisfactory to me, to hear that Miss Montagu was pleased with the day she passed at Strawberry Hill; but does not it silently reproach you, who will never see it but in winter? Does she not assure you that there are leaves, and flowers, and verdure? And why will you not believe that with those additions it might look pretty, and might make you some small amends for a day or two purloined from Greatworth? I wish you would visit it when in its beauty, and while it is mine! You will not, I flatter Myself, like it so well when it belongs to the Intendant of Twickenham, when a cockle-shell walk is made across the lawn, and every thing without doors is made regular, and every thing riant and modern;—for this must be its fate! Whether its next master is already on board the Brest fleet, I do not pretend to say; but I scarce think it worth my while to dispose of it' by my will, as I have some apprehensions of living to see it granted away de par le Roy. My lady Hervey dined there yesterday with the Rochfords. I told her, that as she is just going to France, I was unwilling to let her see it, for if she should like it, she would desire Mademoiselle with whom she lives, to beg it for her. Adieu!
252 Letter 134 To George Montagu, Esq. May 19.
It is on the stroke of eleven, and I have but time to tell you, that the King of Prussia has gained the greatest victory(570) that ever was, except the Archangel Michael's- -King Frederick has only demolished the dragoness. He attacked her army in a strong camp on the 6th; suffered in the beginning of the action much, but took it, with all the tents, baggage, etc. etc two hundred and fifty pieces of cannon, six thousand prisoners, and they say, Prague since. The Austrians have not stopped yet; if you see any man scamper by your house you may venture to lay hold on him, though he should be a Pandour. Marshal Schwerin was killed. Good night!
(570) On the banks of the Moldaw near Prague.
253 Letter 135 To Richard Bentley, Esq. Strawberry Hill, June 10, 1755.
Mr. Muntz(571) is arrived. I am sorry I can by no means give any commendation to the hasty step you took about him. Ten guineas were a great deal too much to advance to him, and must raise expectations in him that will not at all answer. You have entered into no written engagement with him, nor even sent me his receipt for the money. My good Sir, is this the sample you give me of the prudence and providence you have learned? I don't love to enter into the particulars of my own affairs; I will only tell you in one word, that they require great management. My endeavours are all employed to serve you; don't, I beg, give me reasons to apprehend that they will be thrown away. It is much in obscurity, whether I shall be able to accomplish your re-establishment; but I shall go on with great discouragement, if I cannot promise myself that you will be a very different person after your return. I shall never have it in my power to do twice what I am now doing for you; and I choose to say the worst beforehand, rather than to reprove you for indolence and thoughtlessness hereafter, when it may be too late. Excuse my being so serious, but I find it is necessary.
You are not displeased with me, I know, even when I pout: you see I am not quite in good-humour with you, and I don't disguise it; but I have done scolding you for this time. Indeed, I might as well continue it; for I have nothing else to talk of but Strawberry, and of that subject you must be well wearied. I believe she alluded to my disposition to pout, rather than meant to compliment me, when my Lady Townshend said to somebody t'other day, who told her how well Mrs. Leneve was, and in spirits, "Oh! she must be in spirits: why, she lives with Mr. Walpole, who is spirit of hartshorn!"
Princess Emily has been here:—Liked it?—Oh no!—I don't wonder; I never liked St. James'-,. She was so inquisitive and so curious in prying into the very offices and servants' rooms, that her Captain Bateman was sensible of it, and begged Catherine not to mention it. he addressed himself well, if he hoped to meet with taciturnity! Catherine immediately ran down to the pond, and whispered to all the reeds, "Lord! that a princess should be such a gossip!" In short, Strawberry Hill is the puppet-show of the times.
I have lately bought two more portraits of personages in Grammont, Harry Jermyn(572) and Chiffinch:(573) my Arlington Street is so full of portraits, that I shall scarce find room for Mr. Muntz's works.
I was prevented from finishing my letter yesterday, by what do you think? By no less magnificent a circumstance than a deluge. We have had an extraordinary drought, no grass, no leaves. no flowers; not a white rose for the festival of yesterday! About four arrived such a flood, that we could not see out of the windows: the whole lawn was a lake, though situated on so high an Ararat: presently it broke through the leads, drowned the pretty blue bedchamber, passed through ceilings and floors into the little parlour, terrified Harry, and opened all Catherine's water-gates and speech-gates. I had but just time to collect two dogs, a couple of sheep, a pair of bantams, and a brace of gold fish; for, in the haste of my zeal to imitate my ancestor Noah, I forgot that fish would not easily be drowned. In short, if you chance to spy a little ark with pinnacles sailing towards Jersey, open the skylight, and you will find some of your acquaintance. You never saw such desolation! A pigeon brings word that Mabland has fared still worse: it never came into my head before, that a rainbow-office for insuring against water might be very necessary. This is a true account of the late deluge. Witness our hands Horace Noah. Catherine Noah, her mark. Harry Shem. Louis Japhet. Peter Ham, etc.
I was going to seal my letter, and thought I should scarce have any thing more important to tell you than the history of the flood, when a most extraordinary piece of news indeed arrived—nothing less than a new gunpowder plot-last Monday was to be the fatal day. There was a ball at Kew—Vanneschi and his son, directors of the Opera, two English lords, and two Scotch lords, are in confinement at Justice Fielding's. This is exactly all I know of the matter; and this -weighty intelligence is brought by the waterman from my housemaid in Arlington Street, who sent Harry word that the town is in an uproar; and to confirm it, the waterman says he heard the same thing at Hungerford-stairs. I took the liberty to represent to Harry, that the ball at Kew was this day se'nnight for the Prince's birthday; that, as the Duke was at it, I imagined the Scotch lords would rather have chosen that day for the execution of their tragedy; that I believe Vanneschi's son was a child; and that peers are generally confined at the Tower, not at Justice Fielding's; besides, that we are much nearer to Kew than Hungerford-stairs are but Harry, who has not at all recovered the deluge, is extremely disposed to think Vanneschi very like Guy Fawkes; and is so persuaded that so dreadful a story could not be invented, that I have been forced to believe it too: and in the course of our reasoning and guessing, I told him, that though I could not fix upon all four, I was persuaded that the late Lord Lovat who was beheaded must be one of the Scotch peers, and Lord Anson's son who is not begot, one of the English. I was afraid he would think I treated so serious a business too ludicrously, if I had hinted at the scene of distressed friendship that would be occasioned by Lord Hardwicke's examining his intimate Vanneschi. Adieu! my dear Sir. Mr. Fox and Lady Caroline, and Lord and Lady Kildare, are to dine here to-day; and if they tell Harry or me any more of the plot you shall know it.
Well, now for the plot: thus much is true. A laundry-maid of the Duchess of Marlborough, passing by the Cocoa-tree, saw two gentlemen go in there, one of whom dropped a letter; it was directed to you. She opened it. It was very obscure, talked of designs at Kew miscarried, of new methods to be taken; and as this way of correspondence had been repeated too often, another must be followed: and it told you that the next letter to him should be in a band-box at such a house in the Haymarket. The Duchess concluded it related to a gang of street-robbers, and sent it to Fielding. He sent to the house named, and did find a box and a letter, which, though obscure had treason enough in it. It talked of a design at Kew miscarried; that the Opera was now the only place, and consequently the scheme must be deferred till next season, especially as a Certain person is abroad. For the other great person (the Duke), they are sure of him at any time. There was some indirect mention, too, of gunpowder. Vanneschi and others have been apprehended; but a conclusion was made, that it was a malicious design against the lord high treasurer of the Opera and his administration, and so they have been dismissed. Macnamara,(575) I suppose you Jerseyans know, is returned with his fleet to Brest, leaving the transports sailing to America. Lord Thanet and Mr. Stanley are just gone to Paris, I believe to inquire after the war.
The weather has been very bad for showing Strawberry to the Kildares; we have not been able to stir out of doors; but, to make me amends, I have discovered that Lady Kildare is a true S'evignist. You know what pleasure I have in any increase of our sect; I thought she grew handsomer than ever as she talked with devotion of Notre Dame des Rochers. Adieu! my dear Sir.
P. S. Tell me if you receive this; for in these gunpowder times, to be sure, the clerks of the post-office are peculiarly alert.
(571) Mr. Walpole had invited Mr. muntz from Jersey, and he lived for some time at Strawberry Hill.
(572) Youngest son of Thomas, elder brother of the Earl of St. Albans. He was created Baron Dover in 1685, and died without issue in 1708.-E.
(573) One of Charles the Second's confidential pages.-E.
(574) The Pretender's birthday.
(576) The French admiral.
256 Letter 136 To Sir Horace Mann. Strawberry Hill, June 15, 1755.
My dear sir, I have received your two letters relating to the Countess,(577) and wish you joy, since she will establish herself at Florence, that you are so well with her; but I could not help smiling at the goodness of your heart and your zeal for us: the moment she spared us, you gave t'ete baiss'ee into all her histories against Mr. Shirley: his friends say, that there was a little slight-of-hand in her securing the absolute possession of her own fortune; it was very prudent, at least, if not quite sentimental. You should be at least as little the dupe of her affection for her son; the only proof of fondness she has ever given for him, has been expressing great concern at his wanting taste for Greek and Latin. Indeed, he has not much encouraged maternal yearnings in her: I should have thought him shocked at the chronicle of her life if he ever felt any impressions. But to speak freely to you, my dear Sir, he is the most particular young man I ever saw. No man ever felt such a disposition to love another as I did to love him: I flattered myself that he would restore some lustre to our house; at least, not let it totally sink; but I am forced to give him up, and all my Walpole-views. I will describe him to you, if I can, but don't let it pass your lips. His figure is charming; he has more of the easy, genuine air of a man of quality than ever you saw: though he has a little hesitation in his speech, his address and manner are the most engaging imaginable: he has a good-breeding and attention when he is with you that is even flattering; you think he not only means to please, but designs to do every thing that shall please you; he promises, offers every thing one can wish—but this is all; the instant he leaves you, you, all the world, are nothing to him—he would not give himself the least trouble in the world to give any body the greatest satisfaction; yet this is mere indolence of mind, not of body-his whole pleasure is outrageous exercise. Every thing he promises to please you, is to cheat the present moment and hush any complaint-I mean of words; letters he never answers, not of business, not of his own business: engagements Of no sort he ever keeps. He is the most selfish man in the world, without being the least interested: he loves nobody but himself, yet neglects every view of fortune and ambition. He has not Only always slighted his mother, but was scarce decent to his rich old grandmother, when she had not a year to live, and courted him to receive her favours. You will ask me what passions he has—none but of parade; he drinks without inclination-makes love without inclination—games without attention; is immeasurably obstinate, yet, like obstinate people, governed as a child. In short, it is impossible not to love him when one sees him; impossible to esteem him when one thinks on him!
Mr. Chute has found you a very pretty motto: it alludes to the goats in your arms, and not a little to you; per ardua stabiles. All your friends approve it, and it is actually engraving. You are not all more in the dark about the war than we are even here: Macnamara has been returned some time to Brest with his fleet, having left the transports to be swallowed up by Boscawen, as we do not doubt but they will be. Great armaments continue to be making in all the ports of England and France, and, as we expect next month accounts of great attempts made by our colonies, we think war unavoidable, notwithstanding both nations are averse to it. The French have certainly overshot themselves; we took it upon a higher style than they expected, or than has been our custom. The spirit and expedition with which we have equipped so magnificent a navy has surprised them, and does exceeding honour to my Lord Anson, who has breathed new life into our affairs. The minister himself has retained little or none of his brother's and of his own pusillanimity; and as the Duke(578) is got into the Regency, you may imagine our land-spirit will not be unquickened neither. This is our situation; actual news there is none. All we hear from France is, that a new-madness reigns there, as strong as that of Pantins was. This is la fureur des cabriolets; singlic'e, one-horse chairs, a mode introduced by Mr. Child:(579) they not only universally go in them, but wear them; that is, every thing is to be en cabriolet; the men paint them on their waistcoats, and have them embroidered for clocks to their stockings; and the women, who have gone all the winter without any thing on their heads, are now muffled up in great caps with round sides, in the form of, and scarce less than the wheels of chaises! Adieu! my dear Sir.
(577) The Countess of Orford.
(578) The Duke of Cumberland.
(579) Josiah Child, brother of the Earl of Tilney.
257 Letter 137 To Richard Bentley, Esq. Strawberry Hill, July 5, 1755.
You vex me exceedingly. I beg, if it is not too late, that you would not send me these two new quarries of granite; I had rather pay the original price and leave them where they are, than be encumbered with them. My house is already a stone-cutter's shop, nor do I know what to do with what I have got. But this is not what vexes me, but your desiring me to traffic with Carter, and showing me that you are still open to any visionary project! Do you think I can turn broker and factor, and- I don't know what? And at your time of life, do you expect to make a fortune by becoming a granite-merchant? There must be great demand for a commodity that costs a guinea a foot, and a month an inch to polish! You send me no drawings, for which you know I should thank you infinitely, and are hunting for every thing that I would thank you for letting alone. In short, my dear Sir, I am determined never to be a projector, nor to deal with projects. If you still pursue them, I must beg you will not only not employ me in them, but not even let me know that you employ any body else. If you will not be content with my plain, rational way of serving you, I can do no better, nor can I joke upon it. I can combat any difficulties for your service but those of your own raising. Not to talk any more crossly, and to prevent, if I can, for the future, any more of these expostulations, I must tell you plainly, that with regard to my own circumstances. I generally drive to a penny, and have no money to spare for visions. I do and am doing all I can for you; and let me desire you once for all, not to send me any more persons or things without asking my consent, and stay till you receive it. I cannot help adding to the chapter of complaint* * * *
These, my dear Sir, are the imprudent difficulties you draw me into, and which almost discourage me from proceeding in your business. If you anticipate your revenue, even while in Jersey, and build castles in the air before you have repassed the sea, can I expect that you will be a better economist either of your fortune or your prudence here? I beg you will preserve this letter, ungracious as it is, because I hope it will serve to prevent my writing any more such.
Now to Mr. Muntz;-Hitherto he answers all you promised and vowed for him: he is very modest, humble, and reasonable; and has seen so much and knows so much, of countries and languages that I am not likely to be soon tired of him. His drawings are very pretty: he has done two views of Strawberry that please me extremely; his landscape and trees are much better than I expected. His next work is to be a large picture from your Mr. bland for Mr. Chute, who is much content with him: he goes to the Vine in a fortnight or three weeks. We came from thence the day before yesterday. I have drawn up an inventionary of all I propose he should do there; the computation goes a little beyond five thousand pounds; but he does not go half so fast as my impatience demands: he is so reasonable, and will think of dying, and of the gout, and of twenty disagreeable things that one must do and have, that he takes no joy in planting and future views, but distresses all my rapidity of schemes. last week we were at my sister's at Chaffont in Buckinghamshire, to see what we could make of it; but it wants so much of every thing, and would require so much more than an inventionary of five thousand pounds, that we decided nothing, except that Mr. Chute has designed the prettiest house in the world for them. We Went to See the objects of the neighbourhood, Bolstrode and Latimers. The former is a melancholy monument of Dutch magnificence: however there is a brave gallery of old pictures, and a chapel with two fine windows in modern painted glass. The ceiling was formerly decorated with the assumption, or rather presumption, of Chancellor Jeffries, to whom it belonged; but a very judicious fire hurried him somewhere else; Latimers belongs to Mrs. Cavendish. I have lived there formerly with Mr. Conway, but it is much improved since; yet the river stops short at an hundred yards just under your eye, and the house has undergone Batty Langley discipline: half the ornaments are of his bastard Gothic, and half of Hallet's mongrel Chinese. I want to write over the doors of most modern edifices, "Repaired and beautified; Langley and Hallet churchwardens." The great dining-room is hung with the paper of my staircase, but not shaded properly like mine. I was much more charmed lately at a visit I made to the Cardigans at Blackheath. Would you believe that I had never been in Greenwich Park? I never had, and am transported! Even the glories of Richmond and Twickenham hide their diminished rays. Yet nothing is equal to the fashion of this village: Mr. Muntz says we have more coaches than there are in half France. Mrs. Pritchard has bought Ragman's Castle, for which my Lord Litchfield could not agree. We shall be as celebrated as Baiae or Tivoli; and, if we have not such sonorous names as they boast, we have very famous people: Clive and Pritchard, actresses; Scott and Hudson, painters; my Lady Suffolk, famous in her time; Mr. H * * *, the impudent lawyer, that Tom Hervey wrote against; Whitehead, the poet—and Cambridge, the every thing. Adieu! my dear Sir—I know not one syllable of news.
259 Letter 138 To Sir Horace Mann. Strawberry Hill, July 16, 1755.
Our correspondence will revive: the war is begun. I cannot refer you to the Gazette, for it is so prudent and so afraid that Europe should say we began first, (and unless the Gazette tell, how should Europe know?) that it tells nothing at all. The case was; Captain Howe and Captain Andrews lay in a great fog that lasted near fifty hours within speech of three French ships and within sight of nine more. The commandant asked if it was war or peace? Howe replied he must wait for his admiral's signal, but advised the Frenchman to prepare for war. Immediately Boscawen gave the signal, and Howe attacked. The French, who lost one hundred and thirty men to our thirteen, soon struck; we took one large ship, one inconsiderable, and seven thousand pounds: the third ship escaped in the fog. Boscawen detained the express ten days in hopes of more success; but the rest of our new enemies are all got safe into the river of Louisbourg. This is a great disappointment! We expect a declaration of war with the first fair wind. Make the most of your friendship with Count lorenzi,(580) while you may.
I have received the cargo of letters and give you many thanks; but have not seen Mr. Brand; having been in the country while he was in town.
Your brother has received and sent you a dozen double prints of my eagle, which I have had engraved. I could not expect that any drawing could give you a full idea of the noble spirit of the head, or of the masterly tumble of the feathers: but I think Upon the whole the plates are not ill done. Let me beg Dr. Cocchi to accept one of each plate; the rest, my dear Sir, you will give away as you please.
Mr. Chute is such an idle wretch, that you will not wonder I am his secretary for a commission. At the Vine is the most heavenly chapel(581) in the world; it only wants a few pictures to give it a true Catholic air-we are so conscious of the goodness of our Protestantism, that we do not care how things look. If you can pick us up a tolerable Last Supper, or can have one copied tolerably and very cheap, we will say many a mass for the repose of your headaches. The dimensions are, three feet eleven inches and three quarters by two feet eight inches and a half high. Take notice of two essential ingredients; it must be cheap, and the colouring must b very light, for it will hang directly under the window.
I beg YOU Will nurse yourself up to great strength; consider w what German generals and English commodores you are again going to have to govern! On my side, not a Pretender
shall land, nor rebellion be committed, but you shall have timely notice. Adieu!
(580) A Florentine, but minister of France to the Great Duke.
(581) At Mr. Chute's seat of the Vine, in Hampshire, is a chapel built by Lord Sandys of the Vine, lord chamberlain to Henry VIII. In the painted glass windows, which were taken at Boulogne in that reign, are portraits of Francis 1. his Queen, and sister.
260 Letter 139 To Richard Bentley, Esq. Strawberry Hill, July 17, 1755.
To be sure, war is a dreadful calamity, etc.! But then it is a very comfortable commodity for writing letters and writing history; and as one did not contribute to make it, why there is no harm in being a little amused with looking on; and if one can but keep the Pretender on t'other side Derby, and keep Arlington Street and Strawberry Hill from being carried to Paris, I know nobody that would do more to promote peace, or that will bear the want of it, with a better grace than myself. If I don't send you an actual declaration of war in this letter, at least you perceive I am the harbinger of it. An account arrived yesterday morning that Boscawen had missed the French fleet, who are got into Cape Breton; but two of his captains(582) attacked three of their squadron and have taken two, with scarce any loss. This is the third time one of the French captains has been taken by Boscawen.
Mr. Conway is arrived from Ireland, where the triumphant party are what parties in that situation generally are, unreasonable and presumptuous. They will come into no terms without a stipulation that the Primate(583) shall not be in the Regency. This is a bitter pill to digest, but must not it be swallowed? Have we heads to manage a French war and an Irish civil war too?
There are little domestic news. If you insist upon some, why, I believe I could persuade somebody or other to hang themselves; but that is scarce an article uncommon enough to send cross the sea. For example, the rich * * * * whose brother died of the smallpox a year ago, and left him four hundred thousand Pounds, had a fit of the gout last week, and shot himself. I only begin to be afraid that it should grow as necessary to shoot one's self here, as it is to go into the army in France. Sir Robert Browne has lost his last daughter, to whom he could have given eight thousand pounds a-year. When I tell these riches and n)adnesses to Mr. Muntz, he stares so, that I sometimes fear he thinks I mean to impose on him. It is cruel to a person who collects the follies of the age for the information of posterity to have one's veracity doubted; it is the truth of them that makes them worth notice. Charles Townshend marries the great dowager Dalkeith;(583 his parts and presumption are prodigious. He wanted nothing but independence to let him loose: I propose great entertainment from him; and now, perhaps, the times will admit it. There may be such things again as parties—odd evolutions happen. The ballad I am going to transcribe for you is a very good comment on so commonplace a text. My Lord Bath, who was brought hither by my Lady Hervey's and Billy Bristow's reports of the charms of the place, has made the following stanzas, to the old tune which you remember of Rowe's ballad on Doddington's Mrs. Strawbridge:—
"Some talk of Gunnersbury, For Sion some declare; And some say that with Chiswick-house No villa can compare; But all the beaux of Middlesex, Who know the country well, Say, that Strawberry Hill, that Strawberry Doth bear away the bell.
Though Surry boasts its Oatlands, And Claremont kept so jim; And though they talk of Southcote's, 'Tis but a dainty whim; For ask the gallant Bristow, Who does in taste excel, If Strawberry Hill, if Strawberry Don't bear away the bell."
Can there be an odder revolution of things, than that the printer of the Craftsman(585) should live in a house of mine, and that the author of the Craftsman should write a panegyric on a house of mine?
I dined yesterday at Wanstead many years have passed since I saw it. The disposition of the house and the prospect are better than I expected, and very fine: the garden, which they tell you cost as much as the house, that is, 100,000 pounds (don't tell Mr. Muntz) is wretched; the furniture fine, but totally without taste: such continences and incontinences of Scipio and Alexander by I don't know whom! such flame-coloured gods and goddesses, by Kent! such family-pieces, by—I believe the late Earl himself, for they are as ugly as the children he really begot! The whole great apartment is of oak, finally carved, unpainted and has a charming effect(586) The present Earl is the most generous creature in the world: in the first chamber I entered he offered me four marble tables that lay in cases about the room: I compounded, after forty refusals of every thing I commended, to bring away only a haunch of venison: I believe he has not had so cheap a visit a good while. I commend myself, as I ought: for, to be sure, there were twenty ebony chairs, and a couch, and a table, and a glass, that would have tried the virtue of a philosopher of double my size! After dinner we dragged a gold-fish pond(587) for my lady Fitzroy and Lord S@ I could not help telling my Lord Tilney, that they would certainly burn the poor fish for the gold, like the old lace. There arrived a Marquis St. Simon, from Paris, who understands English, and who has seen your book of designs for Gray's Odes: he was much pleased at meeting me, to whom the individual cat(588) belonged, and you may judge whether I was pleased with him. Adieu! my dear Sir.
(582) The two captains were the Honourable Captain Richard Howe of the Dunkirk, and Captain Andrews of the Defiance, who, on the 10th of June, off Cape Race, the southernmost part of Newfoundland, fell in with three men-of war, part of the French fleet, Commanded by M. Bois de la Motte; and, after a very severe engagement of five Hours, succeeded in capturing the Alcide of sixty-four guns, and the Lys of sixty-four.- E.
(583) Dr. Stone.
(584) Eldest daughter and coheiress of the great Duke of Argyle, and widow of the Earl of Dalkeith.-E.
(585) Franklin, who occupied the cottage in the enclosure which Mr. Walpole afterwards called the Flower-garden at Strawberry Hill. When he bought the ground on which this tenement stood, he allowed Franklin to continue to occupy it during his life.
(586) Arthur Young, in his "Six Weeks' Tour," gives the following description of Wanstead: "It is one of the noblest houses in England. The magnificence of having four state bed- chambers, with complete apartments to them, and the ball-room, are superior to any thing of the kind in Houghton, Holkham, Blenheim and Wilton: but each of these houses is superior to this in other particulars; and, to form a complete, palace, something must be taken from all."-E.
(587) Evelyn, who visited Wanstead, March 16, 1682-3, says, "I went to see Sir Josiah Child's prodigious cost in planting walnut-trees about his seat, and making fish-ponds many miles in circuit, in Epping Forest, in a barren spot, as oftentimes these suddenly moneyed men for the most part. seat themselves. He, from a merchant's apprentice, and management of the East India Company's stock, being arrived to an estate ('tis said) 200,000 pounds, and lately married his daughter to the eldest son of the Duke of Beaufort, late Marquis of Worcester, with 50,000 pounds portional present, and various expectations."
(588) Walpole's favourite cat Selima, on the death of which, by falling into a china tub, with gold fishes in it, Gray wrote an Ode. After the death of the poet, Walpole placed the china vase on a pedestal at Strawberry Hill, with a few lines of' the Ode written for its inscription.-E.
263 Letter 140 To George Montagu, Esq. Strawberry Hill, July 17, 1755.
Having done with building and planting, I have taken to farming; the first fruits of my proficience in that science I offer to you, and have taken the liberty to send you a couple of cheeses. If you will give yourself the trouble to inquire at Brackley for the coach, which set out this morning you will receive a box and a roll of paper. The latter does not contain a cheese, only a receipt for making them. We have taken so little of the French fleet, that I fear none of it will come to my share, or I would have sent you part of the spoils. I have nothing more to send you, but a new ballad, which my Lord Bath has made on this place; you remember the old burden of it, and the last lines allude to Billy Bristow's having fallen in love with it.
I am a little pleased to send you this, to show you, that in summer we are a little pretty, though you will never look at us but in our ugliness. My best compliments to Miss Montagu, and my service to whatever baronet breakfasts with you, on negus. Have you heard that poor Lady Browne is so unfortunate as to have lost her last daughter; and that Mrs. Barnett is so lucky as to have lost her mother-in-law, and is Baroness Dacre of the South? I met the great C'u t'other day, and he asked me if I ever heard from you; that he never did: I told him that I did not neither; did not I say true?
263 Letter 141 To George Montagu, Esq. Strawberry Hill, July 26, 1755.
who would not turn farmer, when their very first essay turns to so good account? Seriously, I am quite pleased with the success of mystery, and infinitely obliged to you for the kind things you say about my picture. You must thank Mrs. Whetenhall, too, for her prepossession about my cheeses: I fear a real manufacturer of milk at Strawberry Hill would not have answered quite so well as our old commodities of paint and copper-plates.
I am happy for the recovery of Miss Montagu, and the tranquillity you must feel after so terrible a season of apprehension. Make my compliments to her, and if you can be honest on so tender a topic, tell her, that she will always be in danger, while you shut her up in Northamptonshire, and that with her delicate constitution she ought to live nearer friends and help; and I know of no spot so healthy or convenient for both, as the county of Twicks.
Charles Townshend is to be married next month: as the lady had a very bad husband before, she has chosen prudently, and has settled herself in a family of the best sort of people in the world, who will think of nothing but making her happy. I don't know whether the bridegroom won't be afraid of getting her any more children, lest it should prejudice those she has already! they are a wonderful set of people for good-natured considerations!
You know, to be sure, that Mr. Humberston(589) is dead, and your neighbouring Brackley likely to return under the dominion of its old masters. Lady Dysart(590) is dead too.
Mr. Chute is at the Vine. Your poor Cliquetis is still a banished man. I have a scheme for bringing him back, but can get Mrs. Tisiphone into no kind of terms, and without tying her up from running him into new debts, it is in vain to recover him.
I believe the declaration of war has been stopped at the Custom-house, for one hears nothing of it. You see I am very paragraphical, and in reality have nothing to say; so good night! Yours ever.
(589)Member for Brackley.-E.
(590) Daughter of the Earl of Granville.
264 Letter 142 To Richard Bentley, Esq. Strawberry Hill, August 4, 1755, between 11 and 12 at night.
I came from London to-day, and am just come from supping at Mrs. Clive's, to write to you by the fireside. We have been exceedingly troubled for some time with St. Swithin's diabetes, and have not a dry thread in any walk about us. I am not apt to complain of this malady, nor do I: it keeps us green at present, and will make our shades very thick, against we are fourscore, and fit to enjoy them. I brought with me your two letters of July 30 and August 1st; a sight I have not seen a long time! But, my dear Sir, you have been hurt at my late letters. Do let me say thus much in excuse for myself. You know how much I value, and what real and great satisfaction I have in your drawings. Instead of pleasing me with so little trouble to yourself, do you think it was no mortification to receive every thing but your drawings? to find you full of projects, and, I will not say, with some imprudences? But I have done on this subject—my friendship will always be the same for you; it will only act with more or less cheerfulness, as you use your common sense, or your disposition to chimerical schemes and carelessness. To give you all the present satisfaction in my power, I will tell you * * * * *
I think your good-nature means to reproach me with having dropped any hint of finding amusement in contemplating a war. When one would not do any thing to promote it, when one would do any thing to put a period to it, when one is too insignificant to contribute to either, I must own I see no blame in thinking an active age more agreeable to live in, than a soporific one. But, O my dear Sir, I must adopt your patriotism-Is not it laudable to be revived with the revival of British glory? Can I be an indifferent spectator of the triumphs of my country'? Can I help feeling a tattoo at my heart, when the Duke of Newcastle makes as great a figure in history as Burleigh or Godolphin-nay, as Queen Bess herself! She gained no battles in person; she was only the actuating genius. You seem to have heard of a proclamation of war, of which we have not heard; and not to have come to the knowledge of taking of Beau S'ejour(591) by Colonel Monckton. In short, the French and we seem to have crossed over and figured in, in politics.(592) Mirepoix complained grievously that the Duke of Newcastle had overreached him-but he is to be forgiven in so good a cause! It is the first person he ever deceived! I am preparing a new folio for heads of the heroes that are to bloom in mezzo-tinto from this war. At present my chief study is West Indian history. You would not think me very ill-natured if you knew all I feel at the cruelty and villany of European settlers: but this very morning I found that part of the purchase of Maryland from the savage proprietors (for we do not massacre, we are such good Christians as only to cheat) was a quantity of vermilion and a parcel of Jews-harps! Indeed, if I pleased, I might have another study; it is my fault if I am not a commentator and a corrector of the press. The Marquis de St. Simon, whom I mentioned to you, at a very first visit proposed to me to look over a translation he had made of The Tale of a Tub: the proposal was soon followed by a folio, and a letter of three sides, to press me seriously to revise it. You shall judge of my scholar's competence. He translates L'Estrange, Dryden, and others, l''etrange Dryden, etc.(593) Then in the description of the tailor as an idol, and his goose as the symbol; he says in a note, that the goose means the dove, and is a concealed satire on the Holy Ghost. It put me in mind of the Dane, who, talking of orders to a Frenchman, said, "Notre St. Esprit, est un 'el'ephant."
Don't think, because I prefer your drawings to every thing in the world, that I am such a churl as to refuse Mrs. Bentley's partridges: I shall thank her very much for them. You must excuse me If I am vain enough to be so convinced of my own taste, that all the neglect that has been thrown upon your designs cannot make me think I have overvalued them. I must think that the states of Jersey who execute your town-house,- have much more judgment than all our connoisseurs. When I every day see Greek, and Roman, and Italian, and Chinese, and Gothic architecture embroidered and inlaid upon one another, or called by each other's names, I can't help thinking that the grace and simplicity and truth of your taste, in whichever you undertake is real taste. I go farther: I wish you would know in what you excel, and not be bunting after twenty things unworthy your genius. If flattery is my turn, believe this to be so.
Mr. Muntz is at the Vine, and has been some time. I want to know more of this history of the German: I do assure you, that I like both his painting and behaviour; but if any history of any kind is to accompany him, I shall be most willing to part with him. However I may divert myself as a spectator of broils, believe me I am thoroughly sick of having any thing to do in any. Those in a neighbouring island are likely to subside-and, contrary to custom, the priest(594) himself is to be the sacrifice.
I have contracted a sort of intimacy with Garrick, who is my neighbour. He affects to study my taste: I lay it all upon you—he admires you. He is building a grateful temple to Shakspeare: I offered him this motto: "Quod spiro et placeo, si placeo tuum est!" Don't be surprised if you should hear of me as a gentleman come upon the stage next winter for my diversion. The truth is, I make the most of this acquaintance to protect my poor neighbour at Clivden—You understand the conundrum, Clive's den.
Adieu, my dear Sir! Need I repeat assurances? If I need, believe that nothing that can tend to your recovery has been or shall be neglected by me. You may trust me to the utmost of my power: beyond that, what can I do? Once more, adieu!
(591) In June, 1755, the French fort of Beau Sejour, in the Bay of Fundy, surrendered to Colonel Monckton, and two small forts, Gaspereau and Venango, also capitulated. These were the first conquests of the British arms in America during that war. He gave the name of Fort Cumberland to Beau S'ejour.-E.
(592) This alludes to England and France not being at open war, though constantly committing aggressions against each other. The capture of these forts formed the first article Of complaint against England, in the French declaration of war, in June, 1756.-E.
(593) The Marquis de St. Simon did publish, in 1771, a translation of Pope's Essay on Man.-E.
(594) The Primate of ireland.
266 Letter 143 To Richard Bentley, Esq. Strawberry Hill, August 15, 1755.
My dear sir, Though I wrote to you so lately, and have certainly nothing new to tell you, I can't help scribbling a line to YOU to-night, as I am going to Mr. Rigby's for a week or ten days, and must thank you first for the three pictures. One of them charms me, the Mount Orgueil, which is absolutely fine; the sea, and shadow upon it, are masterly. The other two I don't, at least won't, take for finished. If you please, Elizabeth Castle shall be Mr. Muntz's performance: indeed I see nothing of You in it. I do reconnoitre you in the Hercules and Nessus; but in both your colours are dirty, carelessly dirty: in your distant hills you are improved, and not hard. The figures are too large—I don't mean in the Elizabeth Castle, for there they are neat; but the centaur, though he dies as well as Garrick can, is outrageous. Hercules and Deianira are by no means so: he is sentimental, and she most improperly sorrowful. However, I am pleased enough to beg you would continue. As soon as Mr. Muntz returns from the Vine, you shall have a supply of colours. In the mean time why give up the good old trade of drawing? Have you no Indian ink, no soot-water, no snuff, no Coat of onion, no juice of any thing? If you love me, draw: you would if you knew the real pleasure you can give me. I have been studying all your drawings; and next to architecture and trees, I determine that you succeed in nothing better than animals. Now (as the newspapers say) the late ingenious Mr. Seymour is dead, I would recommend horses and greyhounds to you. I should think you capable of a landscape or two with delicious bits of architecture. I have known you execute the light of a torch or lanthorn so well, that if it was called Schalken, a housekeeper at Hampton-court or Windsor, or a Catherine at Strawberry Hill, would show it, and say it cost ten thousand pounds. Nay, if I could believe that you would ever execute any more designs I proposed to you, I would give you a hint for a picture that struck me t'other day in P'er'efixe's Life of Henry IV.(595) He says, the king was often seen lying upon a common straw-bed among the soldiers, with a piece of brown bread in one hand, and a bit of charcoal in t'other, to draw an encampment, or town that he was besieging. If this is not a character and a picture, I don't know what is.
I dined to-day at Garrick's: there were the Duke of Grafton, Lord and Lady Rochford, Lady Holderness, the crooked Mostyn, and Dabreu the Spanish minister; two regents, of which one is lord chamberlain, the other groom of the stole; and the wife of a secretary of state. This is the being sur un assez bon ton for a player! Don't you want to ask me how I like him? Do want, and I will tell you. I like her exceedingly; her behaviour is all sense, and all sweetness too. I don't know how, he does not improve so fast upon me: there is a great deal of parts, and vivacity, and variety, but there is a great deal too of mimicry and burlesque. I am very ungrateful, for he flatters me abundantly; but unluckily I know it. I was accustomed to it enough when my father was first minister: on his fall I lost it all at once: and since that, I have lived with Mr. Chute, who is all vehemence; with Mr. Fox, who is all disputation; with Sir Charles Williams, who has no time from flattering himself; with Gray, who does not hate to find fault with me; with Mr. Conway, who is all sincerity; and with you and Mr. Rigby, who have always laughed at me in a good-natured way. I don't know how, but I think I like all this as well—I beg his pardon, Mr. Raftor does flatter me; but I should be a cormorant for praise, if I could swallow it whole as he gives it me.
Sir William Yonge, who has been extinct so long is at last dead and the war, which began with such a flirt of vivacity, is I think gone to sleep. General Braddock has not yet sent over to claim the surname of Americanus. But why should I take pains to show You in how many ways I know nothing?—Why; I can tell it you in one word—why, Mr. Cambridge knows nothing!—I wish you good-night! Yours ever.
(595) Hardouin de P'er'efixe's Histoire du Roi Henri le Grand appeared in 1661. He is stated, by the editor Of the Biog. Univ. to be the best historian of that monarch, and the work has been translated in many languages. He was appointed preceptor to Louis XIV. in 1644, and Archbishop of Paris in 1622. He died in 1670.-E.
268 Letter 144 To Sir Horace Mann. Mistley, August 21, 1755. '
I shall laugh at you for taking so seriously what I said to you about my Lady Orford. Do you think, my dear Sir, that at this time I can want to learn your zeal for us? or can you imagine that I did not approve for your own sake your keeping fair terms with the Countess? If I do not much forget, I even recommended it to you—but let us talk no more of her; she has engrossed more paragraphs in our letters than she deserves.