It is piteous late, and I must go to bed, only telling you a bon-mot of Lady Bell Finch.(567) Lord Bath owed her half a crown; he sent it next day, with a wish that he could give her a crown. She replied, that though he could not give her a crown, he could give her a coronet, and she was very ready to accept it.(568) I congratulate you on your new house; and am your very sleepy humble servant.
(555) The ancient Barony of Bottetourt had been considered as extinct ever since the reign of Edward III. and was now claimed by Mr. Norborne Berkeley, member for Gloucestershire, and a groom of the bedchamber; the revival of a claim so long forgotten created considerable interest.-C.
(556) This is an important observation: it affords a clue to the causes of the unpopularity of the early years of George III.-C.
(557) The Princess Dowager.
(558) M. de Praslin was secretary for foreign affairs, and M. de Nivernois had been lately ambassador in England.-C.
(559) At this distance of time, D,Eon's book seems to us the mere ravings of insane vanity; the puns poor, and the wit rare and forced.-C.
(560) It certainly does not appear quite consistent, that Mr. Walpole, who so much disapproves of an attack on his friends, Lord Hertford and M. de Guerchy, should have been delighted, but a few pages since, with the hemlock administered to Lord Holland, and the scurrility against Bishop Warburton.-C.
(561) See ant'e, p. 298), letter 196.
(562) See ant'e, p. 298, letter 196.
(563) Lady Cardigan's eldest daughter, married, in 1767, to the third Duke of Buccleuzh. This amiable and venerable lady is still living.-C. [She died in 1827.]
(564) His valet.
(565) Lady Caroline Sackville, wife of Joseph Damer, Lord Milton, of Ireland.-C.
(566) Lady Betty Germain.-C.
(567) Lady Isabella Finch, daughter of Daniel, sixth Earl of Winchelsea. She was lady of the bedchamber to Princess Amelia, and died unmarried in 1771.-C.
(568) It seems that Lord Bath's coronet, and perhaps still more his great wealth, for which, after his son's death, he had no direct heir, subjected his lordship to views of the nature alluded to in Lady Bell's bon-mot. In the Suffolk Letters, lately published, is a proposition to this effect from Mrs. Anne Pitt, made with all appearance of seriousness.-C. (The following is the passage alluded to. It is contained in a letter from Mrs. Anne Pitt to Lady Suffolk, dated November 10, 1753:—"I hear my Lord Bath is here very lively, but I have not seen him, which I am very sorry for, because I want to offer myself to him. I am quite in earnest, and have set my heart upon it; so I beg seriously you will carry it in your mind, and think if you could find any way to help me. Do not you think Lady Betty Germain and Lord and Lady Vere would be ready to help me, if they knew how willing I am? But I leave all this to your discretion, and repeat seriously, that I am quite in earnest. he can want nothing but a companion that would like his company; and in my situation I should not desire to make the bargain without that circumstance. And though all I have been saying Puts me in mind of some advertisements I have seen in the newspapers from gentlewoman in distress, I will not take that method; but I want to recollect whether you did not tell me, as I think you did many years ago, that he once spoke so well of me, that he got anger for it at home, where I never was a favourite. I perceive that by thinking aloud, as I am apt to do with you, this letter is grown very improper for the post, so I design to send it with a tea-box my sister left and does not want, directed to your house."-E.]
Letter 199 To Charles Churchill, Esq.(569) Arlington Street, March 27, 1764. (page 306)
Dear sir, I had just sent away a half-scolding letter to my sister, for not telling me of Robert's(570) arrival, and to acquaint you both with the loss of poor Lord Malpas, when I received your very entertaining letter of the 19th. I had not then got the draught of the Conqueror's kitchen, and the tiles you were so good as to send me; and grew horribly afraid lest old Dr. Ducarel, who is an ostrich of an antiquary, and can digest superannuated brickbats, should have gobbled them up. At my return from Strawberry Hill yesterday, I found the whole cargo safe, and am really much obliged to you. I weep over the ruined kitchen,. but enjoy the tiles. They are exactly like a few which I obtained from the cathedral of Gloucester, when it was new paved; they are inlaid in the floor of my china-room. I would have got enough to pave it entirely; but the canons, who were flinging them away, had so much devotion left, that they enjoined me not to pave a pagoda with them, nor put them to any profane use. As scruples Increase in a ratio to their decrease, I did not know but a china-room might casuistically be interpreted a pagoda, and sued for no more. My cloister is finished and consecrated but as I intend to convert the old blue and white hall next to the china-room into a Gothic columbarium, I should seriously be glad to finish the floor with Norman tiles. However, as I shall certainly make you a visit in about two months, I will wait till then, and bring the dimensions with me.
Depend upon it, I will pay some of your debts to M. de Lislebonne; that is, I will make as great entertainments for him as any one can, who almost always dines alone in his dressing-room; I will show him every thing all the morning, as much as any one can, who lies abed till noon, and never gets dressed till two o'clock; and I will endeavour to amuse him with variety of diversions every evening as much as any one can, who does nothing but play at loo till midnight, or sit behind Lady Mary Coke in a corner of a box at the Opera. Seriously, though. I will try to show him that I think distinctions paid to you and my sister favours to me, and will make a point of adding the few civilities which his name, rank, and alliance with the Guerchys can leave necessary. M. de Guerchy is adored here, and will find so, particularly at this Juncture, when he has been most cruelly and publicly insulted by a mad, but villanous fellow, one D'Eon, left here by the Duc de Nivernois, who in effect is still worse treated. This creature, who had been made minister plenipotentiary, which turned his brain, as you have already heard, had stolen Nivernois's private letters, and has published them, and a thousand scandals on M. de Guerchy, in a very thick quarto. The affair is much too long for a letter, makes a great noise, and gives great offence. The council have met to-day to consider how to avenge Guerchy and punish D'Eon. I hope a legal remedy is in their power.
I will say little on the subject of Robert; you know my opinion of his capacity, and I dare say think as I do. He is worth taking pains with. I heartily wish those pains may have success. The cure performed by James's powder charms me more than surprises me. I have long thought it could cure every thing but physicians.
Politics are all becalmed. Lord Bute's reappearance on the scene, though his name is in no play-bill, may chance to revive the hurly-burly.
My Lord Townshend has not named Charles in his will, who is as much disappointed as he has often disappointed others. We had last night a magnificent ball at my Lady Cardigan's.
Those fiddles play'd that never play'd before, And we have danced, where we shall dance no more.
He, that is, the totum pro parte,—you do not suspect me, I hope, of any youthfullities—d'autant moins of dancing; that I have rumours of gout flying about me, and would fain coax them into my foot. I have almost tried to make them drunk, and inveigle them thither in their cups; but as they are not at all familiar chez moi, they formalize at wine, as much as a middle-aged woman who is beginning to just drink in private.
Adieu, my dear Sir! my best love to all of' you. As Horace Is evidently descended from the Conqueror, I will desire him to pluck up the pavement by the roots, when I want to transport it hither.
(569) Now first collected. The above letter was privately printed, in 1833, by the Rev. Robert Walpole, with the following introduction:—"The incomparable letters of Horace Walpole, as they have been justly styled by Lord Byron, have long placed the writer in the highest rank of those who have distinguished themselves in this line of composition. The playful wit and humour with which they abound; the liveliness of his descriptions; the animation of his style; the shrewd and acute observations on the different topics which form the subjects of those letters, are not surpassed by any thing to be found in the most perfect models of epistolary writing, either in England or France. His correspondence extends over a period of more than fifty years, and no subject of general interest seems to have escaped his attention and curiosity. He not Only gives a faithful portraiture of the manners of the times, particularly of the highest circles of society in which he lived; but he presents us with many striking sketches of various events and occurrences, illustrating the political history of this country during the latter part of the last century. If any proof were required of the truth of this statement, in addition to what may be afforded by an attentive examination of Mr. Walpole's Correspondence already published, it may be found in the three volumes of Letters addressed to Sir Horace Mann, and recently given to the world under the superintendence of Lord Dover. The letter (now printed for the first time with the consent of the possessor of the original) was addressed to Charles Churchill, Esq., who married Lady Mary, daughter of Sir Robert, and sister of Mr. Walpole; and was written at the time when he was engaged in completing the interior decorations of his villa, Strawberry Hill."
(570) Robert and Horace, both mentioned in this letter, were sons of Mr. Churchill.-E.
Letter 200 To The Earl Of Hertford. Arlington Street, April 5, 1764. (page 308)
Your idea, my dear lord, of the abusive paragraph on you being conceived at Paris,(571) and transmitted hither, tallies exactly with mine. I guessed that a satire on your whole establishment must come from thence: I said so immediately to two or three persons; but I did not tell you I thought so, because I did not choose to fill you with suggestions for which I had no ground, but in my own reasoning. Your arguments convince me I was in the right. Yet, were you master of proofs, the wisest thing you can do, is to act as if you had no suspicion; that is, to act as you have done, civilly, but coolly. There are men whom one would, I think, no more acknowledge for enemies than friends. One's resentment distinguishes them, and the only Gratitude they can pay for that distinction is, to double the abuse. Wilkes's mind, you see, is sufficiently volatile, when he can already forget Lord Sandwich and the Scotch, and can employ himself on you. He will soon flit to other prey, when you disregard him. It is my way: I never publish a sheet, but buzz! out fly a swarm of hornets, insects that never settle upon you, if you don't strike at them and whose venom is diverted to the next object that presents itself.
We have divine weather. The Bishop of Carlisle has been with me two days at Strawberry, where we saw the eclipse(572) to perfection: -not that there was much sight in it. The air was very chill at the time, and the light singular; but there was not a blackbird that left off singing for it. In the evening the Duke of Devonshire came with the Straffords from t'other end of Twickenham, and drank tea with us. They had none of them seen the gallery since it was finished; even the chapel was new to the Duke, and he was so struck with it that he desired to offer at the shrine an incense-pot of silver philigrain.(573)
The election at Cambridge has ended, for the present in strange confusion.(574) The proctors, who were of different sides, assumed each a majority; the votes, however, appear to have been equal. The learned in university decision say, an equality is a negative: if so Lord Hardwicke is excluded. Yet the novelty of the case, it not having been very customary to solicit such a trifling honour, and the antiquated forms of proceeding retained in colleges, leave the matter wide open for further contention, an advantage Lord Sandwich cherishes as much as success. The grave are highly scandalized:—popularity was still warmer. The under-graduates, who, having no votes had consequently been left to their real opinions, were very near expressing their opinions against Lord Sandwich's friends in the most Outrageous manner: hissed they were; and after the election, the juniors burst into the Senate-house, elected a fictitious Lord Hardwicke, and chaired him. The indecent arts and applications which had been used by the Twitcherites (as they are called, from Lord Sandwich's nickname, Jemmy Twitcher,) had provoked this rage. I will give you but one instance:-A voter, who was blooded on purpose that morning, was brought out of a madhouse with his keeper. This is the great and wise nation, which the philosopher Helvetius is come to study! When he says of us C'est un furieux pais! he does not know that the literal translation is the true description of us.
I don't know whether I did not tell you some lies in my last; very likely: I tell you what I hear, and do not answer for truth but when I tell you what I know. How should I know any thing? I am in no confidence; I think of both sides alike; I care for neither; I ask few questions. The King's journey to Hanover is contradicted. The return of Lord Bute is still a mystery. The zealous say, he declares for the administration; but some of the latter do not trust too much to that security; and, perhaps, they are in the right: I know what I think and why I think it; yet some, who do not go on ill grounds, have a middle opinion, that is not very reconcilable to mine. You will not wonder that there is a mystery, doubt, or irresolotion. The scene will be opened further before I get to Paris.
Lord Lyttelton and Lord Temple have dined with each other, and the reconciliation of the former with Mr. Pitt is concluded. It is well that enmities are as frail as friendships.
The Archbishops and Bishops, who -are so eager against Dr. Pearse's divorce from his see, not as illegal, but improper, and of bad example, have determined the King, who left it to them, not to consent to it, though the Bishop himself still insists on it. As this decision disappoints Bishop Newton, Lord Bath has obtained a consolatory promise for him of the mitre of London, to the great discomfort of Terrick and Warburton. You see Lord Bath(575 does not hobble up the back-stairs for nothing. Oh, he is an excellent courtier! The Prince of Wales shoots him with plaything arrows, he falls down dead; and the child kisses him to life again. Melancholy ambition I heard him, t'other night, propose himself to Lady Townshend as a rich widow. Such spirits at fourscore are pleasing; but when one has lost all one's children, to be flattering those of Kings!
The Bishop of Carlisle told me, that t'other day in the House of Lords, Warburton said to another of the bench, "I was invited by my Lord Mansfield to dine with that Helvetius, but he is a professed patron of atheism, a rascal, and a scoundrel, and I would not countenance him; besides, I should have worked him, and that Lord Mansfield would not have liked." No, in good truth: who can like such vulgarism! His French, too, I suppose, is equal to his wit and his piety.
I dined, on Tuesday, with the imperial minister; we were two-and-twenty, collected from the four corners of the earth. Since it is become the fashion to banquet whole kingdoms by turns, I should pray, if I was minister to be sent to Lucca. Have you received D'Eon's very curious book, which I sent by Colonel Keith? I do not find that the administration can discover any method of attacking him. Monsieur de Guerchy very properly determines to take no notice Of it. In the mean time, the wit of it gains ground, and palliates the abomination, though it ought not.
Princess Amelia asked me again about her trees. I gave her your message. She does not blame you, but Madame de Boufflers, for sending them so large. Mr. Legge is in a very bad way; but not without hopes: his last night was better. Adieu! my dear lords and ladies!
(571) See ant'e, p. 301, letter 197. Lord Hertford suspected this paragraph to have been written by Mr. Wilkes; which certainly would have been ungrateful, as Lord Hertford showed Mr. Wilkes more attention than most people thought proper to be shown by the King's ambassador to a person in Mr. Wilkes's circumstances.-C.
(572) A considerable eclipse of the sun, which took place on the 1st of April. It was annular at Boulogne, in France, and of course nearly so at Paris and London.-C.
(573) Commonly called fillagree.-C.
(574) The contest was between Lords Hardwicke and Sandwich; but according to University forms, the poll was taken on the first name; there appeared among the Blackhoods for Lord Hardwicke, placet 103; non-placet 101: among the Whitehoods, the proctors' accounts differed; one made placet 108, non-placet 107; the other made placet 107, non-placet 101: on this a scrutiny was demanded, and refused, and a great confusion ensuing, the Vice-Chancellor adjourned the senate sine die.-E.
(575) The once idolized patriot, William Pulteney. It must be borne in mind, that Mr. Walpole cherished a filial aversion to his father's great antagonist.-C.
Letter 201 To The Earl Of Hertford. Arlington Street, April 12, 1764. (page 310)
Make yourself perfectly easy, my dear lord, about newspapers and their tattle; they are not worth a moment's regard. In times of party it is impossible to avoid abuse. If attached to one side, one is pelted by the other; if to neither, by both. One can place oneself above deserving invectives; and then it signifies little whether they are escaped or not. But when one is conscious that they are unmerited, it is noblest to scorn them- -perhaps, I even think, that such a situation is not ineligible. Character is the most precious of all blessings; but, pray allow that it is too sacred to be hurt by any thing but itself: does it depend on others, or on its own existence? That character must be fictitious, and formed for man, which man can take away. Your reputation does not depend on Mr. Wilkes,(576) like his own. It is delightful to deserve popularity, and to despise it.
You will have heard of the sad misfortune that has happened to Lord Ilchester by his daughter's marriage(577) with O'Brien the actor. But, perhaps, you do not know the circumstances, and how much his grief must be aggravated by reflection on his own credulity and negligence. The affair has been in train for eighteen months. The swain had learned to counterfeit Lady Sarah Bunbury's(578) hand so well that in the country Lord Ilchester has himself delivered several of O'Brien's letters to Lady Susan; but it was not till about a week before the catastrophe that the family was apprised of the intrigue. Lord Cathcart went to Miss Reade's, the paintress; she said softly to him, "My lord, there is a couple in the next room that I am sure ought not to be together; I wish your lordship would look in." He did, shut the door again, and went directly and informed Lord Ilchester. Lady Susan was examined, flung herself at her father's feet, confessed all, vowed to break off but—what a but!—desired to see the loved object, and take a last leave. You will be amazed-even this was granted. The parting scene happened the beginning of the week. On Friday she came of age, and on Saturday morning— instead of being under lock and key in the country—walked down stairs, took her footman, said she was going to breakfast with Lady Sarah, but would call at Miss Reade's; in the street, pretended to recollect a particular cap in which she was to be drawn, sent the footman back for it, whipped into a hackney chair, was married at Covent-garden church, and set out for Mr. O'Brien's villa at Dunstable. My Lady—my Lady Hertford! what say you to permitting young ladies to act plays, and go to painters by themselves?
Poor Lord Ilchester is almost distracted; indeed, it is the completion of disgrace,(579)—even a footman were preferable; the publicity of the hero's profession perpetuates the Unification. Il ne sera pas milord, tout comme un autre. I could not have believed that Lady Susan would have stooped so low. She may, however, still keep good company, and say, "nos numeri sumus"— Lady Mary Duncan,(580) Lady Caroline Adair,(581) Lady Betty Gallini(582)—the shopkeepers of next age will be mighty well born. If our genealogies had been so confused four hundred years ago, Norborne Berkeley would have had still more difficulty with his obsolete Barony of Bottelourt, which the House of Lords at last has granted him. I have never attended the hearings, though it has been much the fashion, but nobody cares less than I about what they don't care for. I have been as indifferent about other points, of which all the world is talking, as the restriction of franking, and the great cause of Hamilton and Douglas. I am almost as tired of what is still more in vogue, our East India affairs. Mir Jaffeir(583) and Cossim Aly Cawn, and their deputies Clive and Sullivan, or rather their principals, employ the public attention, instead of Mogul Pitt and Nabob Bute; the former of whom remains shut Up in Asiatic dignity at Hayes, while the other is again mounting his elephant and levying troops. What Lord Tavistock meaned of his invisible Haughtiness'S(584) invective on Mr. Neville, I do not know. He has not been in the House of Commons since the war of privilege. It must have been something he dropped in private.
I was diverted just now with some old rhymes that Mr. Wilkes would have been glad to have North-Britonized for our little bishop of Osnaburgh.(585)
Eligimus puerum, puerorum testa colentes, Non nostrum morem, sed Regis jussa sequentes.
They were literally composed on the election of a juvenile bishop.
Young Dundas marries Lady Charlotte Fitzwilliam;(586) Sir Lawrence(587) settles four thousand per annum in present, and six more in future—compare these riches got in two years and a half, with D'Eon's account of French economy! Lord Garlies remarries himself with the Duchess of Manchester's(588) next sister, Miss Dashwood. The youngest is to have Mr. Knightly—a-propos to D'Eon, the foreign ministers had a meeting yesterday morning, at the imperial minister's, and Monsieur de Guerchy went from thence to the King, but on what result I do not know, nor can I find that the lawyers agree that any thing can be done against him. There has been a plan of some changes among the Dii Minores, your Lord Norths, and Carysforts, and Ellises, and Frederick Campbellsl(589) and such like; but the supposition that Lord Holland would be willing to accommodate the present ministers with the paymaster's place, being the axle on which this project turned, and his lordship not being in the accommodating humour, there are half a dozen abortions of new lords of the treasury and admiralty—excuse me if I do not send you this list of embryos;(5 I do not load my head with such fry. I am little more au fait of the confusion that happened yesterday at the East India House; I only know it was exactly like the jumble at Cambridge. Sullivan's list was chosen, all but himself-his own election turns on one disputed vote.(590) Every thing is intricate—a presumption that we have few heads very clear. Good night, for I am tired; since dinner I have been at an auction of prints, at the Antiquarian Society in Chancery-lane, at Lady Dalkeith's(591) in Grosvenor-square, and at loo at my niece's in Pall Mall; I left them going to supper, that I might come home and finish this letter; it is half @n hour after twelve, and now I am going to supper myself. I suppose all this sounds very sober to you!
(576) See ant'e, p. 301, letter 197.-E.
(577) Lady Susan Fox, born in 1743, eldest daughter of the first Lord Ilchester.-E.
(578) Daughter of the Duke of Richmond, wife of Sir T. C. Bunbury, and afterwards of Colonel Napier.-C.
(579) It must be observed how little consistent this aristocratical indignation is with the Roman sentiments expressed in page 262, letter 185, and signed so emphatically Horatius.-C.
(580) Daughter of the seventh Earl of Thanet, married, in September 1763, to Doctor Duncan, M.D., soon after created a baronet.-E.
(581) Daughter of the second Earl of Albemarle, married, in 1759, to Mr. Adair, a surgeon.-C.
(582) Daughter of the third Earl of Abingdon, married to Sir John Gallini. She died in 1804, at the age of eighty.-E.
(583) See ante, p. 281, letter 191.
(584) Mr. Pitt.
(585) Frederick, Duke of York, born in August 1763, elected Bishop of Osnaburgh, 27th of February, 1764.-E.
(586) Second daughter of the third Earl Fitzwilliam, born in 1746.-E.
(587) Sir Lawrence Dundas, father of the first Lord Dundas, is said to have made his fortune in the commissariat, during the Scotch rebellion of 1745.-C.
(588) Elizabeth, daughter of Sir James Dashwood, Bart. and wife of the fourth Duke of Manchester.-E.
(589) Second son of the fourth Duke of Argyle. He was successively keeper of the privy seal in Scotland, secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and lord register of' Scotland, in which office he died.-C.
(590) "On the 25th of April, a very warm contest took place. Mr. Sullivan brought forward one list of twenty-five directors, and Mr. Rous, who was supported by Lord Clive, produced another. Notwithstanding his friend Lord Bute was no longer minister, Mr. Sullivan succeeded in bringing in half his numbers; but the attack of Lord Clive had so shaken the power of this lately popular director, that his own election was only carried by one vote." Malcolm's Memoirs of Lord Clive, vol. ii. p. 235.-E.
(591) The eldest daughter of John Duke of Argyle and Greenwich, the widow of Francis Earl of Dalkeith, son of the second Duke of Buccleugh, and wife of Mr. Charles Townshend. She was, in 1767, created Baroness Greenwich, with remainder to her sons by Mr. Townshend. She, however, died leaving none.-C.
Letter 202 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Arlington Street, April 12, 1764. (page 313)
I shall send your MS. volume this week to Mr. Cartwright, and with a thousand thanks. I ought to beg your pardon for having detained it so long. The truth is, I had not time till last week to copy two or three little things at most. Do not let this delay discourage you from lending me more. If I have them in summer I shall keep them much less time than in winter. I do not send my print with it as you ordered me, because I find it is too large to lie within the volume; and doubling a mezzotinto, you know, spoils it. You shall have one more, if you please, whenever I see you.
I have lately made a few curious additions to my collections of various sorts, and shall hope to show them to you at Strawberry Hill. Adieu!
Letter 203 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. Arlington Street, April 19, 1764. (page 313)
I am just come from the Duchess of Argyll's,(592) where I dined. General Warburton was there, and said it was the report at the House of Lords, that you are turned out—he imagined, of your regiment—but that I suppose is a mistake for the bedchamber.(593) I shall hear more to-night, and Lady Strafford, who brings you this, will tell you; though to be sure You will know earlier by the post to-morrow. My only reason for writing is, to repeat to you, that whatever you do, I shall act with you.(594) I resent any thing done to you as to myself. My fortunes shall never be separated from yours—except that some time or other I hope yours will be great, and I am content with mine.
The Manns go on with the business.(595) The letter you received was from Mr. Edward Mann, not from Gal.'s widow. Adieu! I was going to say, my disgraced friend—How delightful to have a character so unspotted, that the word disgrace recoils on those who displace you! Yours unalterably.
(592) Widow of John Campbell, Duke of Argyle. She was sister to General Warburton, and had been maid of Honour to Queen Anne.-E.
(593) Mr. Conway was dismissed from all his employments, civil and military, for having Opposed the ministry in the House of Commons, on the question of the legality of warrants, at the time of the prosecution of Mr. Wilkes for the publication of the North Briton.-C.
(594) Mr. Walpole was then in the House of Commons, member for King's Lynn in Norfolk.
(595) Of army-clothiers.
Letter 204 To The Earl Of Hertford. Arlington Street, April 20, 1764. (page 314)
There has been a strong report about town for these two days that your brother is dismissed, not only from the bedchamber, but from his regiment, and that the latter is given to Lord Pembroke. I do not believe it. Your brother went to Park-place but yesterday morning at ten: he certainly knew nothing of it the night before when we parted, after one, at Grafton-house: nor would he have passed my door yesterday without stopping to tell me Of it: no letter has been sent to his house since, nor were any orders arrived at the War office at half an hour after three yesterday; nay, though I can give the ministry credit for much folly, and some of them credit for even violence and folly, I do not believe they are so rash as this would amount to. For the bedchamber, you know, your brother never liked it, and would be glad to get rid of it. I should be sorry for his sake, and for yours too, if it went farther;—gentle and indifferent as his nature is, his resentment, if his profession were touched, would be as serious as such spirit and such abilities could make it. I would not be the man that advised provoking him; and one man(596) has put himself wofully in his power! In my own opinion, this is one of the lies of which the time is so fruitful; I would not even swear that it has not the same parent with the legend I sent you last week, relating to an intended disposition in consequence of Lord Holland's resignation. The court confidently deny the whole plan, and ascribe it to the fertility of Charles Townshend's brain. However, as they have their Charles Townshends too, I do not totally disbelieve it.
The Parliament rose yesterday,-no new peers, not even Irish: Lord Northumberland's list is sent back ungranted.(597) The Duke of MecklenbUrgh(598) and Lord Halifax are to have the garters. Bridgman(599) is turned out of the green cloth, which is given to Dick Vernon; and his place of surveyor of the gardens, which young Dickinson held for him, is bestowed on Cadogan.(600) Dyson(601) is made a lord of trade. These are all the changes I have heard—not of a complexion that indicates the removal of your brother.
The foreign ministers agreed, as to be sure you have been told, to make Monsieur de Guerchy's cause commune; and the Attorney-general has filed an information against D'Eon: the poor lunatic was at the Opera on Saturday, looking like Bedlam. He goes armed, and threatens, what I dare say he would perform, to kill or be killed, if any attempt is made to seize him.
The East Indian affairs have taken a new turn. Sullivan had twelve votes to ten: Lord Clive bribed off one. When they came to the election of chairman, Sullivan desired to be placed in the chair, without the disgrace of a ballot; but it was denied. On the scrutiny, the votes appeared eleven and eleven. Sullivan understood the blow, and with three others left the room. Rous, his great enemy, was placed in the chair; since that, I think matters are a little compromised, and Sullivan does not abdicate the direction; but Lord Clive, it is supposed, will go to Bengal in the stead of Colonel Barr'e, as Sullivan and Lord Shelburne had intended.
Mr. Pitt is worse than ever with the gout. Legge's case is thought very dangerous:—thus stand our politics, and probably will not fluctuate much for some months. At least-I expect to have little more to tell you before I see you at Paris, except balls, weddings, and follies, of which, thank the moon! we never have a dearth: for one of the latter class, we are obliged to the Archbishop,(602) who, in remembrance, I suppose, of his original profession of midwifery, has ordered some decent alterations to be made in King Henry's figure in the Tower. Poor Lady Susan O'Brien is in the most deplorable situation, for her Adonis is a Roman Catholic, and cannot be provided for out of his calling. Sir Francis Delaval, being touched with her calamity, has made her a present—of what do you think?—of a rich gold stuff! The delightful charity! O'Brien comforts himself, and says it will make a shining passage in his little history.
I will tell you but one more folly, and hasten to my signature. Lady Beaulieu was complaining of being waked by a noise in the night: my lord(603 replied, "Oh, for my Part, there is no disturbing be; If they don't wake me before I go to sleep, there is no waking me afterwards."
Lady Hervey's table is at last arrived, and the Princess's trees, which I sent her last night; but she wants nothing, for Lady Barrymore(604) is arrived.
I smiled when I read your account of Lord Tavistock's expedition. Do you remember that I made seven days from Calais to Paris, by laying out my journeys at the rate of travelling in England, thirty miles a-day; and did not find but that I could have gone in a third of the time! I shall not be such a snail the next time. It is said that on Lord Tavistock's return, he is to decide whom he will marry. Is it true that the Choiseuls totter, and that the Broglios are to succeed; or is there a Charles Townshend at Versailles? Adieu! my dear lord.
(596) No doubt Mr. George Grenville is here meant. See ant'e, p. 257, letter 184.-E.
(597) This list was, Sir Ralph Gore, Sir Richard King, and Mr. Stephen MOOTE, all created peers in this summer by the respective titles of Bellisle, Kingston, and Kilworth.-C.
(598) Adolphus Frederick III. Duke of Mecklenburgh Strelitz, the Queen's brother. He died in 1794.-C.
(599) Mr. George Bridgman, brother of the first Lord Bradford. He had been many years surveyor of the royal gardens, and was celebrated for his taste in ornamental gardening. He died at Lisbon, in 1767.-C.
(600) Probably Charles Sloane Cadagan, son of the second Lord Cadogan, who was treasurer to Edward Duke of York.-C.
(601) Jeremiah Dyson, Esq. afterwards a privy-counsellor.-E.
(602) See ant'e, p. 262, letter 185.
(603) Mr. Hussey was an Irishman. See ant'e, p. 251.-E.
(604) Margaret Davis, sister and Heiress of Edward, the last Viscount Mountcashel of that family, and widow of James Earl of Barrymore.-C.
Letter 205 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. Strawberry Hill, Saturday night, eight o'clock, April 21, 1764. (page 316)
I write to you with a very bad headache; I have Passed a night, for which George Grenville and the Duke of bedford shall pass many an uneasy one! Notwithstanding that I heard from every body I met, that your regiment, as well as bedchamber, were taken away, I would not believe it, till last night the Duchess of Grafton told me, that the night before the Duchess of Bedford said to her, "Are not you sorry for Poor Mr. Conway? He has lost every thing." When the Witch of Endor pities, one knows she has raised the devil.
I am come hither alone to put my thoughts into some order, and to avoid showing the first sallies of my resentment, which I know you would disapprove; nor does it become your friend to rail. My anger shall be a little more manly, and the plan of my revenge a little deeper laid than in peevish bon-mots. You shall judge of my indignation by its duration.
In the mean time, let me beg you, in the most earnest and most sincere of all professions, to suffer me to make your loss as light as it is in my power to make it: I have six thousand pounds in the funds; accept all, or what part you want. Do not imagine I will be put off with a refusal. The retrenchment of my expenses, which I shall from this hour commence, will convince you that I mean to replace Your fortune as far as I can. When I thought you did not want it, I had made another disposition. You have ever been the dearest person to me in the world. You have shown that you deserve to be so. You suffer for your spotless integrity. Can I hesitate a moment to show that there is at least one man who knows how to value you? The new will, which I am going to make, will be a testimonial of my own sense of virtue.
One circumstance has heightened my resentment. If it was not an accident, it deserves to heighten it. The very day on which your dismission was notified, I received an order from the treasury for the payment of what money was due to me there. Is it possible that they could mean to make any distinction between us? Have I separated myself from you? Is there that spot on earth where I can be suspected of having paid court? Have I even left my name at a minister's door since you took your part? If they have dared to hint this, the pen that is now writing to you will bitterly undeceive them.
I am impatient to see the letters you have received, and the answers you have sent. Do you come to town? If you do not, I will come to you to-morrow se'nnight, that is, the 29th. I give no advice on any thing, because you are cooler than I am—not so cool, I hope, as to be insensible to this outrage, this villany, this injustice You owe it to your country to labour the extermination of such ministers!
I am so bad a hypocrite, that I am afraid of showing how deeply I feel this. Yet last night I received the account from the Duchess of Grafton with more temper than you believe me 'capable of: but the agitation of the night disordered me so much, that Lord John Cavendish, who was with me two hours this morning, does not, I believe, take me for a hero. As there are some who I know would enjoy my mortification, and who probably desired I should feel my share of it, I wish to command myself-but that struggle shall be added to their bill. I saw nobody else before I came away but Legge, who sent for me and wrote the enclosed for you. He would have said more both to you and Lady Ailesbury, but I would not let him, as he is so ill: however, he thinks himself that he shall live. I hope be will! I would not lose a shadow that can haunt these ministers.
I feel for Lady Ailesbury, because I know she feels just as I do- -and it is not a pleasant sensation. I will say no more, though I could write volumes. Adieu! Yours, as I ever have been and ever will be.
Letter 206 The Hon. H. S. Conway To The Earl Of Hertford.(605) Park Place, April 23, 1764. (page 317)
Dear Brother, You will, I think, be much surprised at the extraordinary news I received yesterday, of my total dismission from his Majesty's service, both as groom of the bedchamber and colonel of a regiment. What makes it much stronger is, that I do not hear that any of the many officers who voted with me on the same questions in the minority, are turned out. It seems almost impossible to conceive it should be so, and yet, so I suspect it is; and if it be, it seems to me upon the coolest reflection I am able to give it, the harshest and most unjust treatment ever offered to any man on the like occasion. I never gave a single vote(606) against the ministry , but in the questions on the great constitutional point of the warrants. People are apt to dignify with Such titles any question that serves their factious purpose to maintain; but what proved this to be really so, was the great number of persons who voted as I did, having no connexion with the opposition, but determined friends of the ministry in all their conduct, and in the government's service; such as Lord Howe and his brother, and several more. As to the rest, I never gave another vote against the ministry. I refused being of the opposition club, or to attend any one meeting of the kind, from a principle of not entering into a scheme of opposition, but being free to follow my own sentiments upon any question that should arise. On the Cider-act I even voted for the court, in the only vote I gave on that subject; and in another case, relative to the supposed assassination of Wilkes, I even took a part warmly in preventing that silly thing from being an object of clamour. So that, undoubtedly, my overt acts have been only voting as any man might from judgment, only in a very extraordinary and serious question of privilege and personal liberty; the avowing my friendship and obligation to some few now in opposition, and my neglecting to pay court to those in the administration; that seemed to me, both an honest and an honourable part in my situation, which was something delicate. My poor judgment, at least, could point out no better for me to take, and I enter into so much detail upon this old story, that you may not think I have done any thing lightly or passionately which might give just ground for this extraordinary usage; and I must add to the account, that neither in nor out of the House can I, I think, be charged with a single act or expression of offence to any one of his Majesty's ministers. This was, at least, a moderate part; and after this, what the ministry should find in their judgment, their justice, or their prudence, from my situation, my conduct, or my character, to single me out and stigmatize me as the proper object of disgrace, or how the merit of so many of my friends who are acting in their support, and whom they might think it possible would feel hurt, did not, in their prudential light, tend to soften the rigour of their aversion towards me, does, I confess, puzzle me. I don't exactly know from what particular quarter the blow comes; but I must think Lord Bute has, at least, a share in it, as, since his return, the countenance of the King, who used to speak to me after all my votes, is visibly altered, and of late he has not spoke to me at all.
So much for my political history: I wish it was as easy to my fortune as it is to my mind in most other respects; but that, too, I' must make as easy as I can: it comes unluckily at the end of two German campaigns, which I felt the expense of with a much larger income, and have not yet recovered;(607) as, far from having a reward, it was with great difficulty I got the reimbursement of the extraordinary money my last command through Holland cost me, though the States-General, had, by a public act, represented my conduct so advantageously, to our court; so that on the whole I think no man was ever more contemptuously used, who was not a wretch lost in character and reputation. It requires all the philosophy one can Master, not to show the strongest resentment. I think I have as much as my neighbours, and I shall endeavour to use it; yet not so as to betray quite an unmanly insensibility to such extraordinary provocation. Horace Walpole has, on this occasion, shown that warmth of friendship that you know him capable of, so strongly that I want words to express my sense of it. I have not yet had time to see or hear from any of the rest of my friends who are in the way of this bustle; many of them have, I believe, taken their part, for different reasons, another way, and I am sure I shall never say a word to make them abandon what they think their own interest for my petty cause. Nor am I anxious enough in the object of my own fortune to wish for their taking any step that may endanger theirs in any degree. With retrenchments and economy I may be able to go on, and this great political wheel, that is always in motion, may one day or other turn me up, that am but the fly upon it.(608)
I shall go to town for ,i few days soon, and probably to court, I suppose to be frowned upon, for I am not treated with the same civility as others who are in determined opposition. Give my best love and compliments to all with you, and believe me, dear brother, ever most affectionately yours, H. S. C.
(605) As two of Mr. Walpole's letters, relative to General Conway's dismissal, are wanting, the Editor is glad to be able to supply their place by two letters on the subject from the General himself; and as his dismissal was, both in its principle and consequences, a very important political event, as well as a principal topic in Mr. Walpole's succeeding letters, it is thought that General Conway's own view of it cannot fail to be acceptable.
(606) General Conway and Mr. Walpole seem to have taken the argument on too low a scale. Their anxiety seems to have been, to show that the General was not in decided opposition; thereby appearing to admit, that if he had been so, the dismissal would have been justifiable. It is however clear from Mr. Walpole's own accounts, that Conway was considered as not only in opposition, but as one of the most distinguished leaders of the party, —and so the public thought: witness the following extract from "a letter" from Albemarle-street to the Cocoa-tree, published about this period:—"Amongst the foremost stands a gallant general, pointed out for supreme command by the unanimous voice of his grateful country: England has a Conway, the powers of whose eloquence, Inspired by his zeal for liberty, animated by the fire of true genius, and furnished with a sound knowledge of the constitution, at once entertain, ravish, convince, conquer:— such noble examples are the riches of the present age, the treasures of posterity."-C.
(607) On this occasion, Lord Hertford, the Duke of Devonshire, and Mr. Horace Walpole (each without the knowledge of the others) pressed General Conway to accept from them an income equivalent to what he had lost.-C.
(608) Within little more than a year Mr. Conway was secretary of state, and leader of the House of Commons.-E.
Letter 207 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. Arlington Street, April 24, 1764. (page 320)
I rejoice that you feel your loss so little. That you act with dignity and propriety does not surprise me. To have you behave in character, and with character, is my first of all wishes; for then it will not be in the power of man to make you unhappy. Ask yourself—is there a man in England with whom you would change character? Is there a man in England who would not change with you? Then think how little they have taken away!
For me, I shall certainly conduct myself as you prescribe. Your friend shall say and do nothing unworthy of your friend. You govern me in every thing but one: I mean, the disposition I have told you I shall make. Nothing can alter that but a great change in your fortune. In another point, you partly misunderstood me. That I shall explain hereafter.
I shall certainly meet you here on Sunday, and very cheerfully. We may laugh at a world in which nothing of us will remain long but our characters. Yours eternally.
Letter 208 The Hon. H. S. Conway To The Earl Of Hertford. London, May 1, 1764. (page 320)
I wrote a letter some days ago from the country, which. I am sorry to find, does not set out till to-,day, having been given to M. des Ardrets by Horace Walpole, as it was one I did not choose to send by the post just at this time, though God knows there was less in it, I think, than almost any but myself would have said on such an occasion. I am sorry it did not go, as it must seem very strange to you to hear on that subject from any body before me: had it been possible, at the same time, I should have wished not to write to you upon it at all. It is a satisfaction, in most situations, certainly, to communicate even one's griefs to those friends to whom one can do it in confidence, but it is a pain where one thinks it must give them any; and I assure you, I feel this sincerely from the share I know your goodness will take in this, upon my account; as well as that which, in some respects, it may give you on your own: as 'the particular distinction with which I am honoured beyond so many of my brother officers who have so much more directly, declaredly, and long been in real opposition to the ministry, has great unkindness in it to all those friends of mine who have been acting in their support. However, I would not, on any account, that you or any of them should, for my sake, be drove a single step beyond what is for their actual interest and inclination. Nay, I Would not have the latter operate by itself, as I know, from their goodness how bad a guide that might be. I do not exactly know the grounds upon which the ministry made choice of me as the object of their vengeance for a crime so general, The only one I have heard, has certainly no weight; it was, that if I was turned out of the bedchamber, and not my regiment, it would be a sanction given for military men to oppose—that distinction had before been destroyed by the dismission of three military men; nor did my remaining in the army afterwards any more establish it, than any other man's; it was a paltry excuse for a thing they had a mind to do: the real motives or authors I cannot yet quite ascertain. I hope, though they turned me out, they cannot disgrace me, as I presume they wish; at least, so (my friends flatter me) the language of the world goes, and I have at least the satisfaction of being really ignorant myself, by what part of the civil or military behaviour I could deserve so very unkind a treatment. I am sure it was not for want of any respect, duty, or attachment to his Majesty. I shall at present say no more on the subject.
I have heard from two or three different quarters, of a disagreeable accident you have had in your chaise, and calling by chance at the Duke of Grafton's this morning, he read me a postscript in a letter of yours, wherein you describe it as a thing of no consequence. I was rejoiced to hear @it, and should have been obliged for a line from any of your family to tell me so; for one often hears those things so disagreeably represented, that it is pleasant to know the truth.
You are delightful in writing me a long letter the other day, and never mentioning M. de Pompadour's death; so that I flatly contradicted it at first, to those that told me of it. I am obliged to you for your intention of showing civility to my friend Colonel Keith; I think you will like him.
I hear in town, that we have some little disputes stirring up with our new friends on your side the water, about the limits of their fishery on Newfoundland, and a fort building On St. Pierre: but I speak from no authority.
We are all sorry here at a surmise, that M. de Guerchy does not intend to return among us, being too much hurt at the behaviour of his friends of the ministry in those letters so infamously published by D'Eon. I hope it is only report. Adieu! dear brother: give my love and compliments to all your family, as also Lady Aylesbury's; and believe me ever sincerely and affectionately yours, H. S. C.
I am here only for a few days, having, as you will imagine, not many temptations to keep me from the country at this time.
I hope, by this time, your pheasants, etc., are safe at the end of their journey,.
Letter 209 To George Montagu, Esq. Arlington Street, May 10, 1764. (page 322)
I hope I have done well for you, and that you will be content with the execution of your commission. I have bought you two pictures. No. 14, which is by no means a good picture, but it went so cheap and looked so old-fashionably, that I ventured to give eighteen shillings for it. The other is very pretty, no, 17; two sweet children, undoubtedly by Sir Peter Lely. This costs you four pounds ten shillings; what shall I do with them— how convey them to you? The picture of Lord Romney, which you are so fond of, was not in this sale, but I suppose remains with Lady Sidney. I bought for myself much the best picture in the auction, a fine Vandyke of the famous Lady Carlisle and her sister Leicester in one piece: it cost me nine-and-twenty guineas.
In general the pictures did not go high, which I was glad of; that the vulture, who sells them, may not be more enriched than could be helped. There was a whole-length of Sir Henry Sidney, which I should have liked, but it went for fifteen guineas. Thus ends half the glory of Penshurst! Not one of the miniatures was sold.
I go to Strawberry to-morrow for a week. When do you come to Frogmore? I wish to know, because I shall go soon to Park-place, and would not miss the visit you have promised me. Adieu! Yours ever, H.W.
Letter 210 To The Earl Of Hertford. Arlington Street, May 27, 1764. Very late. (page 322)
My dear lord, I am just come home, and find a letter from you, which gives me too much pain(609) to let me resist answering it directly though past one in the morning, as I go out of town early to-morrow.
I must begin with telling You, let me feel what I will from it, how much I admire it. It is equal to the difficulty of your situation, and expressed with all the feeling which must possess you. I will show it your brother, as there is nothing I would not and will not, do to preserve the harmony and friendship which has so much distinguished your whole lives.
You have guessed, give me leave to say, at my wishes, rather than answered to any thing I have really expressed. The truth was, I had no right to deliver any opinion on so important a step as you have taken, without being asked. Had you consulted me, which certainly was not proper for you to do, it would have been with the utmost reluctance that I should have brought myself to utter my sentiments, and only then, if I had been persuaded that friendship exacted it from me; for it would have been a great deal for me to have taken upon myself: it would have been a step, either way, liable to subject me to reproach from you in your own mind, though you would have been too generous to have blamed me in any other way. Now, my dear lord, do me the justice to say, that the part I have acted was the most proper and most honourable one I could take. Did I, have I dropped a syllable, endeavouring to bias your judgment one way or the other? My constant language has been, that I could not think, when a younger brother had taken a part disagreeable to his elder, and totally opposite, even without consulting him, that the elder, was under any obligation to relinquish his own opinion, and adopt the younger's. In my heart I undoubtedly wished, that even in party your union should not be dissolved; for that Union would be the strength of both.
This is the summary of a text on which I have infinitely more to say; but the post is so far from being a proper conveyance, that I think the most private letter transmitted in the most secure manner is scarcely to be trusted. Should I resolve, if you require it, to be more explicit, (and I certainly shall not think of saying a word more, unless I know that it is strongly your desire I should,) it must only be upon the most positive assurance on your honour (and on their honour as strictly given too) that not a syllable of what I shall say shall be communicated to any person living. I except nobody, except my Lady and Lord Beauchamp. What I should say now is now Of no consequence, but for your information. It can tend to nothing else. It therefore does not signify, whether said now, or at any distant time hereafter, or when we meet. If, as perhaps you may at first suppose, it had the least view towards making you quit your embassy, you should not know it at all; for I think that would be the idlest and most unwise step you could take; and believe me, my affection for your brother will never make me sacrifice your honour to his interest . I have loved you both unalterably, and without the smallest cloud between us, from children. It is true, as you observe, that party, with many other mischiefs, produces dissensions in families. I can by no means agree with you, that all party is founded in interest— surely, you cannot think that your brother's conduct was not the result of the most unshaken honour and conscience, and as surely the result of no interested motive? You are not less mistaken, if you believe that the present state of party in this country is not of a most serious nature, and not a mere contention for power and employments.(610) That topic, however, I shall pass over; the discussion, perhaps, would end where it began. As you know I never tried to bring you to my opinion before, I am very unlikely to aim at it now. Let this and the rest of this subject sleep for the present. I trust I have convinced you that my behaviour has been both honourable and respectful towards you: and that, though I think with your brother and am naturally very warm, I have acted in the most dispassionate manner, and had recourse to nothing but silence, when I was not so happy as to meet you in opinion.
This subject has kept me so long, and it is so very late, that you will forgive me if I only skim over the gazette part of my letter—my next shall be more in my old gossiping style.
Dr. Terrick and Dr. Lambe are made Bishops of London and Peterborough, without the nomination or approbation of the ministers. The Duke of Bedford declared this warmly, for you know his own administration(611) always allow him to declare his genuine opinion, that they may have the credit of making him alter it. He was still more surprised at the Chancellor's being made an earl(612) without his knowledge, after he had gone out of town, blaming the Chancellor's coldness on D'Eon's affair, which is now dropped. Three marquisates going to be given to Lords Cardigan, Northumberland, and Townshend, may not please his grace more, though they may his minister,(613) who may be glad his master is angry, as it may produce a good quieting draught for himself.
The Northumberlands are returned; Hamilton is dismissed,(614) and the Earl of Drogheda(615) made secretary in his room.
Michell(616) is recalled by desire of this court, who requested to have it done without giving their reasons, as Sir Charles Williams(617) had been sent from Berlin in the same manner.
Colonel Johnson is also recalled from Minorca. He had been very wrongheaded with his governors Sir Richard;(618) that wound was closed, when the judicious deputy chose to turn out a brother-in-law of Lord Bute. Lady Falkener's daughter is to be married to a young rich Mr. Crewe,(619) a maccarone, and of our loo. Mr. Skreene has married Miss Sumner, and her brother gives her 10,000 pounds. Good night! The watchman cries three!
(609) It seems that Mr. Walpole, in one of the letters not found, had expressed a desire that Lord Hertford should resent, in some decided manner, the dismissal of his brother: but he, in the course of this letter, recollects that as the younger brother had acted not only without concert with Lord Hertford, but in direct opposition to his opinion and advice, there was no kind of reason why his lordship should take any extreme steps.-C.
(610) Yet, in frequent preceding passages, Mr. Walpole represents the conflicts of parties as only a contention for power and place.-C.
(611) He means the Duke's political friends, Mr. Rigby, etc.-C.
(612) The Earl of Northington.
(613) Mr. Rigby.
(614) See ant'e, p. 256, Letter 182.
(615) Charles, Earl and first Marquis of Drogheda, Who married Lord Hertford's sister; he died in 1823, at a great age.-E.
(616) Minister from the court of Prussia to London.-E.
(617) Sir C. H. Williams had been minister, both at Berlin and St. Petersburgh.-E.
(618) Sir Richard Lyttelton.-E.
(618) John Crewe, Esq. married, 17th May, 1764, to Miss Fawkener, the daughter of sir Everard Fawkener, who died in 1758, one of the postmasters-general.-E.
Letter 211 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. Arlington Street, June 5, 1764. (page 325)
You will wonder that I have been so long without giving you any signs of life; yet, though not writing to you, I have been employed about you, as I have ever since the 21st of April; a day your enemies shall have some cause to remember. I had writ nine or ten sheets of an answer to the "Address to the Public," when I received the enclosed mandate.(620) You will see my masters order me, as a subaltern of the exchequer, to drop you and defend them—but you will see too, that, instead of obeying, I have given warning. I would not communicate any part of this transaction to you, till it was out of my hands, because I knew your affection for me would not approve of in going so far—but it was necessary. My honour required that I should declare my adherence to you in the most authentic manner. I found that some persons had dared to doubt whether I would risk every thing for you. You see by these letters that Mr. Grenville himself had presumed so. Even a change in the administration, however unlikely, might happen before I had any opportunity of declaring myself; and then those who should choose to put the worst construction, either on my actions or my silence, might say what they pleased. I was waiting for some opportunity: they have put it into my hands, and I took care not to let It slip. Indeed they have put more into my hands, which I have not let slip neither. Could I expect they would give me so absurd an account of Mr. Grenville's conduct, and give it to me in writing? They can only add to this obligation that of provocation to print my letter, which, however strong in facts, I have taken care to make very decent in terms, because it imports us to have the candid (that is,. I fear, the mercenary) on our side;—no, that we must not expect, but at least disarmed.
Lord Tavistock has flung his handkerchief to Lady Elizabeth Keppel. They all go to Woburn on Thursday, and the ceremony is to be performed as soon as her brother, the bishop, can arrive from Exeter. I am heartily glad the Duchess of Bedford does not set her heart on marrying me to any body; I am sure she would bring it about. She has some small intention Of coupling my niece and Dick Vernon, but I have forbidden the banns.
The birthday, I hear, was lamentably empty. We had a loo last night in the great chamber at Lady Bel Finch's: the Duke, Princess Emily, and the Duchess of Bedford were there. The Princess entertained her grace with the joy the Duke of Bedford will have in being a grandfather; in which reflection, I believe, the grandmotherhood was not forgotten. Adieu!
(620) The paper here alluded to does not appear.
Letter 212To The Earl Of Hertford. Strawberry Hill, June 8, 1764. (page 326)
To be sure, you have heard the event of' this last week? Lord Tavistock has flung his handkerchief, and except a few jealous sultanas, and some sultanas valides who had marketable daughters, every body is pleased that the lot is fallen on Lady Elizabeth Keppel.(621)
The house of Bedford came to town last Friday. I supped with them that night at the Spanish Ambassador's, who has made Powis- house magnificent. Lady Elizabeth was not there nor mentioned. On the contrary, by the Duchess's conversation, which turned on Lady Betty Montagu,(622) there were suspicions in her favour. The next morning Lady Elizabeth received a note from the Duchess of Marlborough,(623) insisting on seeing her that evening. When she arrived at Marlborough-house, she found nobody but the Duchess and Lord Tavistock. The Duchess cried, "Lord! they have left the window open in the next room!"—went to shut it, and shut the lovers in too, where they remained for three hours. The same night all the town was at the Duchess of Richmond's. Lady Albemarle(624) was at tredille; the Duke of Bedford came up to the table, and told her he must speak to her as soon as the pool was over. You may guess whether she knew a card more that she played. When she had finished, the Duke told her he should wait on her the next morning, to make the demand in form. She told it directly to me and my niece Waldegrave, who was in such transport for her friend, that she promised the Duke of Bedford to kiss him, and hurried home directly to write to her sisters.(625) The Duke asked no questions about fortune, but has since slipped a bit of paper into Lady Elizabeth's hand, telling her, he hoped his son would live, but if he did not, there was something for her; it was a jointure of three thousand pounds a-year, and six hundred pounds pin-money. I dined with her the next day, at Monsieur de Guerchy's, and as I hindered the company from wishing her joy, and yet joked with her myself, Madame de Guerchy said, she perceived I would let nobody else tease her, that I might have all the teasing to myself She has behaved in the prettiest manner, in the world, and would not appear at a vast assembly at Northumberland-house on Tuesday, nor at a great haymaking at Mrs. Pitt's on Wednesday. Yesterday they all went to Woburn, and tomorrow the ceremony is to be performed; for the Duke has not a moment's patience till she is breeding.
You would have been diverted at Northumberland-house; Besides the sumptuous liveries, the illuminations in the garden, the pages, the two chaplains in waiting in their gowns and scarves, 'a l'Irlandaise,(626) and Dr. Hill and his wife, there was a most delightful Countess, who has Just imported herself from Mecklenburgh. She is an absolute princess of Monomotapa; but I fancy you have seen her. for her hideousness and frantic accoutrements are so extraordinary, that they tell us she was hissed in the Tuileries. She crossed the drawing-room on the birthday to speak to the Queen en amie, after standing with her back to Princess Amelia. The queen was so ashamed of her, that she said cleverly, "This is not the dress at Strelitz; but this woman always dressed herself as capriciously there, as your Duchess of Queensberry does here."
The haymaking at Wandsworth-hill(627) did not succeed from the excessive cold of the night; I proposed to bring one of the cocks into the great room, and make a bonfire. All the beauties were disappointed, and all the macaronies afraid of getting the toothache.
The Guerchys are gone to Goodwood, and were to have been carried to Portsmouth, but Lord Egmont(628) refused to let the ambassador see the place. The Duke of Richmond was in a rage, and I do not know how it has ended, for the Duke of Bedford defends the refusal, and says, they certainly would not let you see Brest. The Comte d'Ayen is going a longer tour. he is liked here. The three great ambassadors danced at court—the Prince of Masserano they say well; he is extremely in fashion, and is a sensible very good-humoured man, though his appearance is so deceitful. They have given me the honour of a bon-mot, which, I assure you, does not belong to me, that I never saw a man so full of orders and disorders. He and his suite, and the Guerchys and theirs, are to dine here next week. Poor little Strawberry never thought of such f'etes. I did invite them to breakfast, but they confounded it, and understood that they were asked to dinner, so I must do as well as I can. Both the ambassadors are in love with my niece;(629) therefore, I trust they will not have unsentimental stomachs.
Shall I trouble you with a little commission? It is to send me a book that I cannot get here, nor am I quite sure of the exact title, but it is called "Origine des Moeurs,"(630) or something to that import. It is in three volumes, and has not been written above two or three years. Adieu, my dear lord, from my fireside.
P. S. Do you know that Madame de Yertzin, The Mecklenburgh Countess, has had the honour of giving the King of Prussia a box of the ear?—I am sure he deserved it, if he could take liberties with such a chimpanzee. Colonel Elliot died on Thursday.
(621) the Daughter of the second Earl of Albemarle; she was born in 1739.-E.
(622) See ant'e, p. 304, letter 198.
(623) Caroline Russel, sister of the Duke of Bedford.-E.
(624) Anne, daughter of Charles, first Duke of Richmond.-E.
(625) Lady Dysart and Mrs. Keppel; the latter was married to Lady Elizabeth's brother.-E.
(626) Lord Northumberland was still lord-lieutenant of Ireland.-E.
(627) Mrs. Pitt's villa.
(628) First lord of the admiralty.
(629) Lady Waldegrave.
(630) In a subsequent letter, he calls this work "Essais les Moeurs." I find a work of the latter title published in 1756 anonymously, and under the date of Bruxelles. It was written by a M. Soret, but it seems to have been in only one volume. Can Mr. Walpole have meant Duclos's celebrated "Considerations sur les Moeurs," published anonymously in 1750, but subsequently under his name?—C.
Letter 213 To George Montagu, Esq. Strawberry Hill, June 18, 1764. (page 328)
I trust that you have thought I was dead, it is so long since you heard of me. In truth I had nothing to talk of but cold and hot weather, of rain and want Of rain, subjects that have been our summer conversation for these twenty years. I am pleased that you was content with your pictures, and shall be glad if you have ancestors out of them. You may tell your uncle Algernon that I go to-morrow, where he would not be ashamed to see me; as there are not many such spots at present, you and he will guess it is to Park-place.
Strawberry, whose glories perhaps verge towards their setting-, have been more sumptuous to-day than ordinary, and banquetted their representative majesties of France and Spain. I had Monsieur and Madame de Guerchy, Mademoiselle de Nangis their daughter, two other French gentlemen, the Prince of Masserano, his brother and secretary, Lord March, George Selwyn, Mrs. ADD Pitt, and my niece Waldegrave. The refectory never was so crowded; nor have any foreigners been here before that comprehended Strawberry. Indeed, every thing succeeded to a hair. A violent shower in the morning laid the dust, brightened the green, refreshed the roses, pinks, orange-flowers, and the blossoms with which the acacias are covered. A rich storm of thunder and lightning gave a dignity of colouring to the heavens; and the sun appeared enough to illuminate the landscape, without basking himself over it at his length. During dinner there were French horns and clarionets in the cloister, and after coffee I treated them with an English, and to them a very new collation, a syllabub milked Under the cows that were brought to the brow of the terrace. Thence they went to the printing-house, and saw a new fashionable French song printed. They drank tea in the gallery, and at eight went away to Vauxhall.
They really seemed quite pleased with the place and the day; but I must tell you, the treasury of the abbey will feel it, for without magnificence, all was handsomely done. I must keep maigre; at least till the interdict is taken off from my convent. I have kings and queens, I hear, in my neighbourhood, but this is no royal foundation. Adieu; your poor beadsman, The Abbot Of Strawberry.
P. S. Mr. T***'s servile poem is rewarded with one hundred and sixty pounds a ),ear in the post-office.
Letter 214 To George Montagu, Esq. Strawberry Hill, July 16, 1764. (page 329)
mr. chute says you are peremptory that you will not cast a look southwards. Do you know that in that case you will not set eyes on me the Lord knows when? My mind is pretty much fixed on going to Paris the beginning of September. I think I shall go, if it is only to scold my Lord and Lady Hertford for sending me their cousins, the Duke and Duchess of Berwick, who say they are come to see their relations. By their appearance, you would imagine they were come to beg money of their family. He has just the sort of capacity which you would expect in a Stuart engrafted on a Spaniard. He asked me which way he was to come to Twickenham? I told him through Kensington, to which I supposed his geography might reach. He replied, "Oh! du cot'e de la mer." She, who is sister of the Duke of Alva, is a decent kind of a body: but they talk wicked French. I gave them a dinner here t'other day, with the Marquis of Jamaica, their only child, and a fat tutor, and the few Fitzroys I could amass at this season. They were very civil, and seemed much pleased. To-day they arc gone to Blenheim by invitation. I want to send you something from the Strawberry press; tell me how I shall convey it; it is nothing less than the most curious book that ever set its foot into the world. I expect to hear you scream hither: if you don't I shall be disappointed, for I have kept it as a most profound secret from you, till I was ready to surprise you with it: I knew your impatience, and would not let you have it piecemeal. It is the Life of the great philosopher, Lord Herbert, written by himself.(631) Now are you disappointed? Well, read it—not the first forty pages, of which you will be sick—I will not anticipate it, but I will tell you the history. I found it a year ago at Lady Hertford's, to whom Lady Powis had lent it. I took it up, and soon threw it down again, as the dullest thing I ever saw. She persuaded me to take it home. My Lady Waldegrave was here in all her grief; Gray and I read it to amuse her. We could not get on for laughing, and screaming. I begged to have it to print: Lord Powis, sensible of the extravagance, refused—I persisted—he persisted. I told my Lady Hertford, it was no matter, I would print it, I was determined. I sat down and wrote a flattering dedication to Lord Powis, which I knew he would swallow: he did, and gave up his ancestor. But this was not enough; I was resolved the world should not think I admired it seriously, though there are really fine passages in it, and good sense too: I drew up an equivocal preface, in which you will discover my opinion, and sent it with the dedication. The Earl gulped down the one under the palliative of the other, and here you will have all. Pray take notice Of the pedigree, of which I am exceedingly proud; observe how I have clearly arranged so involved a descent: one may boast at one's heraldry. I shall send you too Lady Temple's poems.(632) Pray keep both under lock and key, for there are but two hundred copies of Lord Herbert, and but one hundred of the poems suffered to be printed.
I am almost crying to find the glorious morsel of summer, that we have had, turned into just such a watery season as the last. Even my excess of verdure, which used to comfort me for every thing, does not satisfy me now, as I live entirely alone. I am heartily tired of my large neighbourhood, who do not furnish me two or three rational beings at most, and the best of them have no vivacity. London, Whither I go at least once a fortnight for a night, is a perfect desert. As the court is gone into a convent at Richmond, the town is more abandoned than ever. I cannot, as you do, bring myself to be content without variety, without events; my mind is always wanting new food; summer does not suit me; but I will grow old some time or other. Adieu!
(631) Printed in quarto, This was the first edition of this celebrated piece of autobiography. It was reprinted at Edinburgh in 1807, with a prefatory notice, understood to be by Sir Walter Scott; and a third edition, which also contained his letters written during his residence at the French court, was published in 1826.-E.
(632) Poems by Anna Chambers, Countess Temple.-E.
Letter 215 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Strawberry Hill, July 16, 1764. (page 330)
Dear Sir, You must think me a brute to have been so long without taking any notice of your obliging offer of coming hither. The truth is, I have not been at all settled here for three days together: nay, nor do I know when I shall be. I go tomorrow into Sussex; in August into Yorkshire, and in September into France. If, in any interval of these jaunts, I Can be sure of remaining here a week, which I literally have not been this whole summer, I will certainly let you know, and will claim your promise.
Another reason for my writing now is, I want to know how I may send you Lord Herbert's Life, which I have just printed. Did I remember the favour you did me of asking for my own print? if I did not, it shall accompany this book.
Letter 216 To The Rev. Henry Zouch. Arlington Street, July 21, 1764. (page 330)
Sir, You will have heard of the severe attendance which we have had for this last week in the House of Commons. It will, I trust, have excused me to you for not having answered sooner your very kind letter. My books, I fear, have no merit over Mr. Harte's Gustavus, but by being much shorter. I read his work, and was sorry so much curious matter should be so ill and so tediously, put together. His anecdotes are much more interesting than mine; luckily I was aware that mine were very trifling, and did not dwell upon them. To answer the demand, I am printing them with additions, but must wait a little for assistance and corrections to the two latter, as I have had for the former.
You are exceedingly obliging, Sir, to offer me one of your Fergussons. I thank you for it, as I ought; but, in truth, I have more pictures than room to place them; both my houses are full, and I have even been thinking of getting rid of some I have. That this is no declension of your civility, Sir, you will see, when I gladly accept either of your medals of King Charles. I shall be proud to keep it as a mark of your friendship; but then I will undoubtedly rob you of but one.
I condole with you, Sir, for the loss of your friend and relation, as I heartily take my share in whatever concerns you. The great and unmerited kindness I have received from you will ever make me your most obliged, etc.
Letter 217To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Arlington Street, July 21, 1764. (page 331)
Dear Sir, I must never send you trifles; for you always make me real presents in return. The beauty of the coin surprises me. Mr. White must be rich, when such are his duplicates. I am acquainted with him, and have often intended to visit his collection; but it is one of those things one never does, because one always may. I give you a thousand thanks in return, and what are not worth more, my own print, Lord Herbert's Life, (this is curious, though it cost me little,) and some orange flowers. I wish you had mentioned the latter sooner: I have had an amazing profusion this year, and given them away to the right and left by handfuls. These are all I could collect to-day, as I was coming to town; but you shall have more if you want them.
I consign these things as you ordered - I wish the print may arrive without being rumpled: it is difficult to convey mezzotintos; but if this is spoiled you shall have another.
If I make any stay in France, which I do not think I shall, above six weeks at most, you shall certainly hear from me but I am a bad commissioner for searching you out a hermitage. It is too much against my interest- and I had much rather find you one in the neighbourhood of Strawberry. Adieu!
Letter 218 To The Earl Of Hertford. Strawberry Hill, August 3, 1764. (page 332)
As my letters are seldom proper for the post now, I begin them at any time, and am forced to trust to chance for a conveyance. This difficulty renders my news very stale: but what can I do? There does not happen enough at this season of' the year to fill a mere gazette. I should be more sorry to have you think me silent too long. You must be so good as to recollect, when there is a large interval between my letters, that I have certainly one ready in my writing-box, and only wait for a messenger. I hope to send this by Lord Coventry. For the next three weeks, indeed, I shall not be able to write, as I go in a few days with your brother to Chatsworth and Wentworth Castle.
I am under more distress about my visit to you—but I will tell you the truth. As I think the Parliament Will not meet before Christmas, though they now talk of it for November, I would quit our Politics for a few weeks; but the expense frightens me, which did not use to be one of my fears. I cannot but expect, knowing the enemies I have, that the treasury may distress me.(633) I had laid by a little sum which I intended to bawble away at Paris; but I may have very serious occasion for it. The recent example of Lord Holderness,(634) Who has had every rag seized at the Custom-house, alarms my present prudence. I cannot afford to buy even clothes, which I may lose in six weeks. These considerations dispose me to wait till I see a little farther into this chaos. You know enough of the present actors in the political drama to believe that the present system is not a permanent one, nor likely to roll on till Christmas without some change. The first moment that I can quit party with honour, I shall seize. It neither suits my inclination nor the years I have lived in the world; for though I am not old, I have been in the world so long, and seen so much of those who figure in it, that I am heartily sick of its commerce. My attachment to your brother, and the apprehension that fear of my own interest would be thought the cause if I took no part for him, determined me to risk every thing rather than abandon him. I have done it, and cannot repent, whatever distresses may follow. One's good name is of more consequence than all the rest, my dear lord. Do not think I say this with the least disrespect to you; it is only to convince you that I did not recommend any thing to you that I would avoid myself; nor engaged myself, nor wished to engage you, in party from pique, resentment, caprice, or choice. I am dipped in it much against my inclination. I can suffer by it infinitely more than you could. But there are moments when one must take one's part like a man. This I speak solely with regard to myself. I allow fairly and honestly that you was not circumstanced as I was. You had not voted with your brother as I did; the world knew your inclinations were different. All this certainly composed serious reasons for you not to follow him, if you did not choose it. My motives for thinking you had better have espoused his cause were for your own sake - I detailed those motives to you in my last long letter; that opinion is as strong within me as ever.
The affront to you, the malice that aimed that affront, the importance that it gives one, upon the long-run to act steadily and uniformly with one's friends, the enemies you make in the opposition, composed of so many great families, and of your own principal allies,(635) and the little merit you gain with the ministry by the contrary conduct,—all these were, to me, unanswerable reasons, and remain so, for what I advised; yet, as I told you before, I think the season is passed, and that you must wait for an opportunity of disengaging yourself with credit. I am persuaded that occasion will be given you, from one or other of the causes I mentioned in my last; and if the fairest is, I entreat you by the good wishes which I am sure you know from my soul I bear you, to seize it. Excuse me: I know I go too far, but my heart is set on your making a great figure, and your letters are so kind, that they encourage me to speak with a friendship which I am sensible is not discreet:—but you know you and your brother have ever been the objects of my warmest affection and however partial you may think me to him, I must labour to have the world think as highly of you, and to unite you firmly for your lives. If this was not my motive, you must be sure I should not be earnest. It is not one vote in the House of Lords that imports us. Party is grown so Serious,(636) and will, I doubt, become every day more so, that one must make one's option; and it will go to my soul to see you embarked against all your friends, against the Whig principles you have ever professed, and with men, amongst whom you have not one well-wisher, and with whom you will not even be able to remain upon tolerable terms, unless you take a vigorous part against all you love and esteem.
In warm times lukewarmness is a crime with those on whose side you are ranged. Your good sense and experience will judge whether what I say is not strictly the case. It is not your brother or I that have occasioned these circumstances. Lord Bute has thrown this country into a confusion which will not easily be dissipated without serious hours. Changes may, and, as I said in the beginning of my letter, will probably happen but the seeds that have been sown will not be rooted up by one or two revolutions in the cabinet. It had taken an hundred and fifty years(637) to quiet the animosities of Whig and Tory; that contest is again set on foot, and though a struggle for places may be now, as has often been, the secret purpose of principals, the court and the nation are engaging on much deeper springs of action. I wish I could elucidate this truth, as I have the rest, but that is not fit for paper, nor to be comprised within the compass of a letter;—I have said enough to furnish you with ample reflections. I submit all to your own judgment:—I have even acted rightly by YOU, in laying before you what it was not easy for you, my dear lord, to see or know at a distance. I trust all to your indulgence, and your acquaintance with my character, which surely is not artful or mysterious, and which, to you, has ever been, as it ever shall be, most cordial and well-intentioned. I come to my gazette.