The Letters of Horace Walpole Volume 3
by Horace Walpole
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Letter 236 To George Montagu, Esq. Christmas-eve, 1764. (page 364)

You are grown so good, and I delight so much in your letters when you please to write them, that though it is past midnight, and I am to go out of town tomorrow morning, I must thank you.

I shall put your letter to Rheims into the foreign post with a proper penny, and it will go much safer and quicker than if I sent it to Lord Hertford, for his letters lie very often till enough are assembled to compose a jolly caravan. I love your good brother John, as I always do, for keeping your birthday; I, who hate ceremonious customs, approve of what I know comes so much from the heart as all he and you do and say. The General surely need not ask leave to enclose letters to me.

There is neither news, nor any body to make it, but the clergy, who are all gaping after or about the Irish mitre,(725) which your old antagonist has quitted. Keene has refused it; Newton hesitates, and they think will not accept it; Ewer pants for it, and many of the bench I believe do every thing but pray for it. Goody Carlisle hopes for Worcester if it should be vacated, but I believe would not dislike to be her Grace.

This comes with your muff, my Anecdotes of Painting, the fine pamphlet on libels, and the Castle of Otranto, which came out to-day. All this will make some food for your fireside. Since you will not come and see me before I go, I hope not to be gone before you come, though I am not quite in charity with you about it. Oh! I had forgot; don't lend your Lord Herbert, it will grow as dirty as the street; and as there are so few, and They have been so lent about, and so dirtied, the few clean copies will be very valuable. What signifies whether they read it or not? there will be a new bishop, or a new separation, or a new something or other, that will do just as well, before you can convey your copy to them; and seriously, if you lose it, I have not another to give you; and I would fain have you keep my editions together, as you had the complete set. As I want to make you an economist of my books, I will inform you that this second' set of Anecdotes sells for three guineas. Adieu!

P. S. I send you a decent smallish muff, that you may put in your pocket, and it costs but fourteen shillings.

(7250 Dr. John Stone, Archbishop of Armagh and primate of all Ireland, died on the 19th of December 1764.-E.

Letter 237 To The Earl Of Hertford. Arlington Street, Jan. 10, 1765. (page 364)

I should prove a miserable prophet or almanac maker, for my predictions are seldom verified. I thought the present session likely to be a very supine one, but unless the evening varies extremely from the morning, it will be a tempestuous day—and yet it was a very southerly and calm wind that began the hurricane. The King's Speech was so tame, that, as George Montagu said of the earthquake, you might have stroked it.(726) Beckford (whom I certainly did not mean by the gentle gale) touched on Draper'S(727) Letter about the Manilla money. George Grenville took up the defence of the Spaniards, though he said he only stated their arguments. This roused your brother, who told Grenville he had adopted the reasoning of Spain; and showed the fallacy of their pretensions. He exhorted every body to support the King's government, "which I," said he, "ill-used as I have been, wish and mean to support-not that of ministers, when I see the laws and independence of Parliament struck at in the most profligate manner." You may guess how deeply this wounded. Grenville took it to himself, and asserted that his own life and character were as pure, uniform, and little profligate as your brother's. The silence of the House did not seem to ratify this declaration. Your brother replied with infinite spirit, that he certainly could not have meant Mr. Grenville, for he did not take him for the minister-(I do not believe this was the least mortifying part)—that he spoke of public acts that were in every body's mouth, as the warrants, and the disgrace thrown on the army by dismissions for parliamentary reasons; that for himself he was an open enemy, and detested men who smiled in his face and stabbed him I do not believe he meant this personally, but unfortunately the whole House applied it to Mr. Grenville's grimace); that for his own disgrace, he did not know where to impute it, for every minister had disavowed it. It was to the warrants, he said, he owed what had happened; he had fallen for voting against them, but had he had ten regiments, he would have parted with them all to obey his conscience; that he now could fall no lower, and would speak as he did then, and would not be hindered nor intimidated from speaking the language of Parliament. Grenville answered, that he had never avowed nor disavowed the measure of dismissing Mr. Conway—(he disavowed it to Mr. Harris,)(728) that he himself had been turned out for voting against German connexions; that he had never approved inquiring into the King's prerogative on that head-(I can name a person who can repeat volumes of what he has said on the subject,) and that the King had as much right to dismiss military as civil officers, and then drew a ridiculous parallel betwixt the two, in which he seemed to give himself the rank of a civil lieutenant-general. This warmth was stopped by Augustus Hervey, who spoke to order, and called for the question; but young T. Townshend confirmed, that the term profligacy was applied by all mankind to the conduct on the warrants. It was not the most agreeable circumstance to Grenville, that Lord Granby closed the debate, by declaring how much he disapproved the dismission of officers for civil reasons, and the more, as he was persuaded it would not prevent officers from acting according to their consciences; and he spoke of your brother with many encomiums. Sir W. Meredith then notified his intention of taking up the affair of the warrants on Monday se'nnight. Mr. Pitt was not there, nor Lord Temple in the House of Lords; but the latter is ill. I should have told you that Lord Warkworth(729) and Thomas Pitt(730) moved our addresses; as Lord Townshend and Lord Botetourt did those of the Lords. Lord Townshend said, though it was grown unpopular to praise the King, yet he should, and he was violent against libels; forgetting that the most ill-natured branch of them, caricatures, his own invention, are left off. Nobody thought it worth while to answer him, at which he was much offended.

So much for the opening of Parliament, which does not promise serenity. Your brother is likely to make a very great figure: they have given him the warmth he wanted, and may thank Themselves for it. Had Mr. Grenville taken my advice, @e had avoided an opponent that he will find a tough one, and must already repent having drawn upon him.

With regard to yourself, my dear lord, you may be sure I did not intend to ask you any impertinent question. You requested me to tell you whatever I heard said about you; you was talked of for Ireland, and are still; and Lord Holland within this week told me, that you had solicited it warmly. Don't think yourself under any obligation to reply to me on these occasions. It is to comply with your desires that I repeat any thing I hear of you, not to make use of them to draw any explanation from you, to which I have no title; nor have I, you know, any troublesome curiosity. I mentioned Ireland with the same indifference that I tell you that the town here has bestowed Lady Anne,(731) first on Lord March, and now on Stephen Fox(732)—tattle not worth your answering.

You have lost another of your Lords Justices, Lord Shannon, of whose death an account came yesterday.

Lady Harrington's porter was executed yesterday, and went to Tyburn with a white cockade in his hat, as an emblem of his innocence.

All the rest Of My news I exhausted in my letter to Lady Hertford three days ago. The King's Speech, as I told her it was to do, announced the contract between Princess Caroline(733) and the Prince Royal of Denmark. I don't think the tone the session has taken will expedite my visit to you; however, I shall be able to judge when a few of the great questions are over. The American affairs are expected to occasion much discussion; but as I understand them no more than Hebrew, they will throw no impediment in my way. Adieu! my dear lord; you will probably hear no more politics these ten days. Yours ever, Horace Walpole.


The debate on the warrants is put off to the Tuesday; therefore, as it will probably be so long a day, I shall not be able to give you an account of it till this day fortnight.

(726) Gray, in a letter to Dr. Wharton, written in July 1764, in giving an account of an illness, says, "Towards the end of my confinement, during which I lived on nothing, came, the gout in one foot, but so tame you might have stroked it." To this passage, the learned editor of the last edition of his works has sub-joined this note:—"I have mentioned several coincidences of thought and expression of this kind in the letters of Gray and Walpole, which I conceived to be a kind of common property; the reader, indeed, will recognise much of that species of humour which distinguishes Gray's correspondence in the letters of Walpole, inferior, I think, in its comic force; sometimes deviating too far from propriety in search of subjects for the display of its talent, and not altogether free from affectation." Vol. iv. p. 33.-E.

(727) Sir William Draper, K.B. best known by his controversy with Junius. The letter here alluded to was entitled, "An Answer to the Spanish Arguments for Refusing the Payment of the Ransom Bills."-E.

(728) General Conway's brother-in-law.-E.

(729) Afterwards Duke of Northumberland-E.

(730) Afterwards Lord Camelford.-E.

(731) ant'e, p. 299, letter 196.

(732) Second son of the first Earl of Ilchester-E.

(733) The unhappy Queen of Denmark, who was afterwards divorced and exiled.-E.

Letter 238 To The Earl Of Hertford. Sunday, Jan. 20, 1765. (page 367)

Do you forgive me, if I write to you two or three days sooner than I said I would. Our important day on the warrants is put off for a week, in compliment to Mr. Pitt's gout—can it resist such attention I shall expect in it a prodigious quantity of black ribands. You have heard, to be sure, of the great fortune that is bequeathed to him by a Sir William Pynsent, an old man of near ninety, who quitted the world on the peace of Utrecht; and, luckily for Mr. Pitt, lived to be as angry with its pendant, the treaty of Paris. I did not send you the first report, which mounted it to an enormous sum: I think the medium account is two thousand pounds a-year, and thirty thousand pounds in money. This Sir William Pynsent, whose fame, like an aloe, did not blow till near an hundred, was a singularity. The scandalous chronicle of Somersetshire talks terribly of his morals(734) *****. Lady North was nearly related to Lady Pynsent, which encouraged Lord North to flatter himself that Sir William's extreme propensity to him would recommend even his wife's parentage for heirs; but the uncomeliness of Lady North, and a vote my lord gave against the Cider-bill, offended the old gentleman so much, that he burnt his would-be heir in effigy. How will all these strange histories sound at Paris!

This post, I suppose, will rain letters to my Lady Hertford. on her death and revival. I was dreadfully alarmed at it for a moment; my servant was so absurd as to wake me, and bid me not be frightened—an excellent precaution! Of all moments, that between sleeping and waking is the most subject to terror. I started up, and my first thought was to send for Dr. Hunter; but, in two minutes, I recollected that it was impossible to be true, as your porter had the very day before been with me to tell me a courier was arrived from you, was to return that evening. Your poor son Henry, whom you will doat upon for it, was not tranquillized so soon. He instantly sent away a courier to your brother, who arrived in the middle of the night. Lady Milton,(735) Lady George SackVille,(736) and I, agreed this evening to tell my Lady Hertford, that we ought to have believed the news, and to have imputed it to the gaming rakehelly life my lady leads at Paris, which scandalizes all us prudes, her old friends. In truth, I have not much right to rail at any body to.- living in a hurricane. I found myself with a violent cold on Wednesday, and till then had not once reflected on all the hot and cold climates I have passed through the day before: I had been at the Duke of Cumberland's levee; then at the Princess Amelia's drawing-room; from thence to a crowded House of Commons; to dinner at your brother's; to the Opera; to Madame Seillern's; to Arthur's; and to supper at Mrs. George Pitt's;—it is scandalous; but, who does less? The Duke looked much better than I expected; is gone to Windsor, and mends daily.

It was Lady Harcourt's(737) death that occasioned the confusion, and our dismay. She died at a Colonel Oughton's; such a small house, that Lord Harcourt has been forced to take their family into his own house. Poor Lady Digby(738) is dead too, of a fever, and was with child. They were extremely happy, and -her own family adored her. My sister has begged me to ask a favour, that will put you to a little trouble, though only for a moment. It is, if you will be so good to order one of your servants when you have done with the English newspapers, to put them in a cover, and send them to Mr. Churchill, au Chateau de Nubecourt, pr'es de Clermont, en Argone; they cannot get a gazette that does not cost them six livres.

Monday evening.

We have had a sort of a day in the House of Commons. The proposition for accepting the six hundred and seventy thousand pounds for the French prisoners passed easily. Then came the Navy: Dowdeswell, in a long and very sensible speech, proposed to reduce the number of sailors to ten thousand. He was answered by—Charles Townshend—oh! yes!—are you surprised? Nobody here was: no, not even at his assertion, that he had always applauded the peace, though the whole House and the whole town knew that, on the Preliminaries, he came down prepared to speak against them; but that on Mr. Pitt's retiring, he plucked up courage, and spoke for them. Well, you want to know what place he is to have- -so does he too. I don't want to know what place, but that he has some one; for I am sure he will always do most hurt to the side on which he professes to be; consequently, I wish him with the administration, and I wish so well to both sides, that I would have him more decried, if that be possible, than he is. Colonel Barr'e spoke against Dowdeswell's proposal, though not setting himself up at auction, like Charles, nor friendly to the ministry, but temperately and sensibly. There was no division. You know my opinion of Charles Townshend is neither new nor singular. When Charles Yorke left us,(739) I hoped for this event, and my wish then slid into this couplet:

To The Administration.

One Charles, who ne'er was ours, you've got-'tis true: To make the grace complete, take t'other too.

The favours I ask of them, are not difficult to grant. Adieu! my dear lord. Yours ever, H. W.

Tuesday, 4 o'clock.

I had sealed my letter and given it to my sister, who sets out to-morrow, and will put it into the post at Calais; but having received yours by the courier from Spain, I must add a few words. You may be sure I shall not mention a tittle of what you say to me. Indeed, if you think it necessary to explain to me, I shall be more cautious Of telling you what I hear. If I had any curiosity, I should have nothing to do but to pretend I had heard some report, and so draw from you what you might not have a mind to mention: I do tell you when I hear any, for your information, but insist on your not replying. The vice-admiral of America is a mere feather; but there is more substance in the notion of the Viceroy's quitting Ireland. Lord Bute and George Grenville are so ill together, that decency is scarce observed between their adherents: and the moment the former has an opportunity or resolution enough, he will remove the latter, and place his son-in-law(740) in the treasury. This goes so far, that Charles Townshend, who is openly dedicated to Grenville, may possibly find himself disappointed, and get no place at last. However, I rejoice that we have got rid of him. It will tear up all connexion between him and your brother, root and branch: a circumstance you will not be more sorry for than I am. In the mean time, the opposition is so staunch that, I think, after the three questions on Warrants, DismisSion of officers, and the Manilla-money, I shall be at liberty to come to you, when I shall have a great deal to tell you. If Charles Townshend gets a place, Lord George Sackville expects another, by the same channel, interest, and connexion; but if Charles may be disappointed himself, what may a man be who trusts to him? Adieu!

(734) The original contains an imputation against Sir W. Pynsent, which, if true, would induce us to suspect him of a disordered mind.-C.

(735) Lady Caroline Sackville, daughter of the Duke of Dorset, married, in 1742, to the first Lord Milton.-E.

(736) Diana, second daughter of J. Sambrook, Esq.-E.

(737) Rebecca, daughter of Charles Le Bas, Esq., wife of the first Earl of Harcourt.-E.

(738) Elizabeth Fielding, niece to the fourth Earl of Denbigh, and wife of Henry, first Lord Digby.-E.

(739) It is remarkable enough, that the epigram which Mr. Walpole thus introduces, admits that Charles Yorke had never joined them, and therefore could not be said to have left them.-C.

(740) There is some obscurity here: Lord Warkworth (afterwards Duke of Northumberland), who had lately married Lord Bute's third daughter, was, at this period, a very young man, little known but for his attachment to his profession—the army, and the idea of his being placed at the head of the treasury must have been absurd. His father, Lord Northumberland, indeed, had been spoken of for that office: and, perhaps, Mr. Walpole, in his epigrammatic way, has taken this mode of explaining the motive which might have induced Lord Bute to advance his son-in-law's father.-C.

Letter 239 To The Earl Of Hertford. Arlington Street, Jan. 27, 1765. (page 370)

The brother of your brother's neighbour, Mr. Freeman, who is going to Paris, and I believe will not be sorry to be introduced to you, gives me an opportunity which I cannot resist, of sending you a private line or two, though I wrote you a long letter, which my sister was to put into the post at Calais two or three days ago.

We had a very remarkable day on Wednesday in the House of Commons—very glorious for us, and very mortifying to the administration, especially to the principal performer, who was severely galled by our troops, and abandoned by his own. The business of the day was the Army, and, as nothing was expected, the House was not full. The very circumstance of nothing being expected, had encouraged Charles Townshend to soften a little what had passed on Monday; he grew profuse of' his whispers and promises to us, and offered your brother to move the question on the Dismission of officers: the debate began; Beckford fell foul on the dismissions, and dropped some words on America. Charles, who had placed himself again under the wing of Grenville, replied on American affairs; but totally forgot your brother. Beckford, in his boisterous Indian style, told Charles, that on a single idea he had poured forth a diarrhoea of words. He could not stand it, and in two minutes fairly stole out of the House. This battery being dismounted, the whole attack fell on Grenville, and would have put you in mind of former days. You never heard any minister worse treated than he was for two hours together, by Tommy Townshend, Sir George Saville, and George Onslow—and what was worse, no soul stepped forth in his defence, but Rigby and Lord Strange, the latter of whom was almost as much abashed as Charles Townshend; conscience flew in his black face, and almost turned it red. T. Townshend was still more bitter on Lord Sandwich, whom he called a profligate fellow—hoped he was present,(741) and added, if he is not, I am ready to call him so to his face in any private company: even Rigby, his accomplice, said not a word in behalf of his brother culprit. You will wonder how all this ended—what would be the most ridiculous conclusion to such a scene'! as you cannot imagine, I will tell you. Lord Harry Paulet(742) telling Grenville, that if Lord Cobham was to rise from the dead, he would, if he could be ashamed of any thing, be ashamed of him; by the way, every body believes he meant the apostrophe stronger than he expressed it: Grenville rose in a rage, like a basket-woman, and told Lord harry that if he chose to use such language, he knew where to find him. Did you ever hear of a prime minister, even soi-disant tel, challenging an opponent, when he could not answer him? Poor Lord Harry, too, was an unfortunate subject to exercise his valour upon! The House interposed; Lord Harry declared he should have expected Grenville to breakfast with him next morning; Grenville explained off and on two or three times, the Scotch laughed, the opposition roared, and the treasury-bench sat as mute as fishes. Thus ended that wise Hudibrastic encounter. Grenville however, attended by every bad omen, provoked your brother, who had not intended to speak, by saying that some people had a good opinion of the dismissed officers, others had not. Your brother rose, and surpassed himself: he was very warm, though less so than on the first day; very decent in terms, but most severe in effect; he more than hinted at the threats that had been used to him—said he would not reveal what was improper; yet left no mortal in the dark on that head. He called on the officers to assert their own freedom and independence. In short, made such a speech as silenced all his adversaries, but has filled the whole town with his praises: I believe, as soon as his speech reaches Hayes, it will contribute extremely to expel the gout, and bring Mr. Pitt to town, lest his presence should be no longer missed. Princess Amelia told Me the next night, that if she had heard nothing of Mr. Conway's speech, she should have known how well he had done by my spirits. I was not sorry she made this reflection, as I knew she would repeat it to Lady (Betty) Waldegrave; and as I was willing that the Duchess of Bedford, who, when your brother was dismissed, asked the Duchess of Grafton if she was not sorry for poor Mr. Conway, who has lost every thing, should recollect that it is they who have cause to lament that dismission, not we.

There was a paragraph in Rigby's speech, and taken up, and adopted by Goody Grenville, which makes much noise, and, I suppose, has not given less offence; they talked of "arbitrary Stuart principles," which are supposed to have been aimed at the Stuart favourite: that breach is wider than ever: not one of Lord Bute's adherents have opened their lips this session. I conclude a few of them will be ordered to speak on Friday; but unless we go on too triumphantly and reconcile them, I think this session will terminate Mr. Grenville's reign, and that of the Bedfords too, unless they make great submissions.

Do you know that Sir W. Pynsent had your brother in his eye! He said to his lawyer, "I know Mr. Pitt is much younger than I but he has very bad health: as you will hear it before me, if he dies first, draw up another will with mr. Conway's name instead of Mr. Pitt's, and bring it down to me directly." I beg Britannia's pardon, but I fear I could have supported the loss on these grounds.

A very unhappy affair happened last night at the Star and Garter; Lord Byron(743) killed a Mr. Chaworth there in a duel. I know none of the particulars, and never believe the first reports.

My Lady Townshend was arrested two days ago in the street, at the suit of a house painter, who, having brought her a bill double the estimate he had given in, she would not pay it. As this is a breach of Privilege, I should think the man would hear of it.

There is no date set for our intended motion on the Dismission of officers; but, I believe, Lord John Cavendish and Fitzroy will be the movers and seconders. Charles Townshend, we conclude, Will be very ill that day; if one could pity the poor toad, one should: there is jealousy of your brother,—fear of your brother,—fear of Mr. Pitt,—influence of his own brother,— connexions entered into both with Lord Bute and Mr. Grenville, and a trimming plan concerted with Lord George Sackville and Charles Yorke, all tearing him or impelling him a thousand ways, with the addition of his own vanity and irresolution, and the contempt of every body else. I dined with him yesterday at Mr. Mackinsy's, where his whole discourse was in ridicule of George Grenville.

The enclosed novel(744) is much in vogue; the author is not known, but if you should not happen to like it, I could give you a reason why you need not say so. There is nothing else now, but a play called the Matonic Wife, written by an Irish Mrs. Griffiths, Which in charity to her was suffered to run three nights.(745)

Since I wrote my letter, the following, is the account nearest the truth that I can learn of the fatal duel last night: a club of Nottinghamshire gentlemen had dined at the Star and Garter, and there had been a dispute between the combatants, whether Lord Byron, who took no care of his game, or Mr. Chaworth, who was active in the association, had most game on their manor. The company, however, had apprehended no consequences, and parted at eight o'clock; but Lord Byron stepping into an empty chamber, and sending the drawer for Mr. Chaworth, or calling him hither himself, took the candle from the waiter, and bidding Mr. Chaworth defend himself, drew his sword. Mr. Chaworth, who was an excellent fencer, ran Lord Byron through the sleeve of his coat, and then received a wound fourteen inches deep into his body. He was carried to his house in Berkeley-street,—made his will with the greatest composure, and dictated a paper, which they say, allows it was a fair duel, and died at nine this morning. Lord Byron is not gone off, but says he will take his trial, which, if the Coroner brings in a verdict of manslaughter, may, according to precedent, be in the House of Lords, and without the ceremonial of Westminster Hall. George Selwyn is much missed on this occasion, but we conclude it will bring him over.(746) I feel for both families, though I know none of either, but poor Lady Carlisle,(747) Whom I am sure you will pity.

Our last three Saturdays at the Opera have been prodigious. and a new opera by Bach(748) last night, was so crowded, that there were ladies standing behind the scenes during the whole performance. Adieu! my dear lord: as this goes by a private hand, you may possibly receive its successor before it.

(741) It seems, from a subsequent letter, that Lord Sandwich was present. See post, p. 375, letter 240.

(742) Lord Henry Paulet, member for Hampshire, vice-admiral of the White, brother of the Duke of Bolton; to which dignity he himself succeeded on the 5th July, 1764.-E.

(743) William, fifth Lord Byron, born in 1722, died in 1798. The Star and Garter was a tavern in Pall Mall.-C.

(744) His own Castle of Otranto.-E.

(745) It came out at Drury-lane, and was acted six nights. The hint of it was taken from Marmontel's "Heureux Divorce."

(746) Mr. Selwyn's morbid curiosity after trials and executions is well known.-C.

(747) Isabella, only sister of Lord Byron, wife of the fourth Earl of Carlisle.-E.

(748) Adriano in Siria." The expectations of the public the first night this drama was performed occasioned such a crowd at the King's theatre as has seldom been seen there before; but whether from heat or inconvenience, the unreasonableness of expectation, the composer being Out Of fancy, or too anxious to please, Dr. Burney says the opera failed, and that every one came out of the theatre disappointed.-E.

Letter 240 To The Earl Of Hertford. Arlington Street, Feb. 12, 1765. (page 373)

A great many letters pass between us, my dear lord, but I think they are almost all of my writing. I have not heard from you this age. I sent you two packets together by Mr. Freeman, with an account of our chief debates. Since the long day, I have been much out of order with a cold and cough, that turned to a fever: I am now taking James's powder, not without apprehensions of the gout, which it gave me two or three years ago.

There has been nothing of note in Parliament but one slight day on the American taxes,(749) which Charles Townshend supporting, received a pretty heavy thump from Barr'e, who is the present Pitt, and the dread of all the vociferous Norths and Rigbys, on whose lungs depended so much of Mr. Grenville's power. Do you never hear them to Paris?

The operations of the opposition are suspended in compliment to Mr. Pitt, who has declared himself so warmly for the question on the Dismission of officers, that that motion waits for his recovery. A call of the house is appointed for next Wednesday, but as he has had a relapse, the motion will probably be deferred. I should be very glad if it was to be dropped entirely for this session, but the young men are warm and not easily bridled.

If it was not too long to transcribe, I would send you an entertaining petition(750) of the periwig-makers to the King, in which they complain that men will wear their own hair. Should one almost wonder if carpenters were to remonstrate, that since the peace their trade decays, and that there is no demand for wooden legs Apropos, my Lady Hertford's friend, Lady Harriot Vernon,(751) has quarrelled with me for smiling at the enormous head-gear of her daughter, Lady Grosvenor. She came one night to Northumberland-house with such a display of friz, that it literally spread beyond her shoulders. I happened to say it looked as if her parents had stinted her in hair before marriage, and that she was determined to indulge her fancy now. This, among ten thousand things said by all the world, was reported to Lady Harriot, and has occasioned my disgrace. As she never found fault with any body herself, I excuse her! You will be less surprised to hear that the Duchess of Queensberry has not yet done dressing herself marvellously: she was at court on Sunday in a gown and petticoat of red flannel. The same day the Guerchys made a dinner for her, and invited Lord and Lady Hyde,(752) the Forbes's and her other particular friends: in the morning she sent word she was to go out of town, but as soon as dinner was over, arrived at Madame de Guerchy's, and said she had been at court.

Poor Madame de Seillern, the imperial ambassadress, has lost her only daughter and favourite child, a young widow of twenty-two, whom she was expecting from Vienna. The news Came this day se'nnight; and the ambassador, who is as brutal as she is gentle and amiable, has insisted on her having company at dinner to-day, and her assembly as usual. The town says that Lord and Lady Abergavenny(753) are parted, and that he has not been much milder than Monsieur de Seillern on the chapter of a mistress he has taken. I don't know the truth of this; but his lordship's heart, I believe, is more inflammable than tender.

Lady Sophia Thomas,(754) has begged me to trouble you with a small commission. It is to send me for her twelve little bottles of "le Baume de Vie, compos'e par le Sieur Lievre, apoticaire distillateur du Roi." If George Selwyn or Lord March are not set out, they would bring it with pleasure, especially as she lives at the Duke of Queensberry's.

We have not a new book, play, intrigue, marriage, elopement, or quarrel; in short, we are very dull. For politics, unless the ministers wantonly thrust their hands into some fire, I think there will not even be a smoke. I am glad of it, for my heart is set on my journey to Paris, and I hate every thing that stops me. Lord Byron's foolish trial is likely to protract the session a little; but unless there is any particular business, I shall not stay for a puppet-show. Indeed, I can defend my staying here by nothing but my ties to your brother. My health, I am sure, would be better in another climate in winter. Long days in the House kill me, and weary me into the bargain. The individuals of each party are alike indifferent to me; nor can I at this time of day grow to love men whom I have laughed at all my lifetime—no, I cannot alter;—Charles Yorke or Charles Townshend are alike to me, whether ministers or patriots. Men do not change in my eyes, because they quit a black livery for a white one. When one has seen the whole scene shifted round and round so often, one only smiles, whoever is the present Polonius or the grave digger, whether they jeer the Prince, or flatter his frenzy.

Thursday night, 14th.

The new assembly-room at Almack's was opened the night before last, and they say is very magnificent, but it was empty; half the town is ill With colds, and many were afraid to go, as the house is scarcely built yet. Almack advertised that it was built with hot brick and boiling water—think what a rage there must be for public places, If this notice, instead of terrifying, could draw any body thither. They tell me the ceilings were dropping with wet—but can you believe me, when I assure you the Duke of Cumberland was there?—Nay, had had a levee in the morning, and went to the Opera before the assembly! There is a vast flight of steps, and he was forced to rest two or three times. If he dies of it—and how should he not?—it will sound very silly when Hercules or Theseus ask him what he died of, to reply, "I caught my death on a damp staircase at a new club-room."

Williams, the reprinter of the North Briton, stood in the pillory to-day in Palace-yard. He went in a hackney-coach, the number of which was 45. The mob erected a gallows opposite to him, on which they hung a boot(755) with a bonnet of straw. Then a collection was made for Williams, which amounted to near 200 pounds.(756) In short, every event informs the administration how thoroughly they are detested, and that they have not a friend whom they do not buy. Who can wonder, when every man of virtue is proscribed, and they have neither parts nor characters to impose even upon the mob! think to what a government is sunk, when a Secretary of State is called in Parliament to his face "the most profligate sad dog in the kingdom,"(757) and not a man can open his lips in his defence. Sure power must have some strange unknown charm, when it can compensate for such contempt! I see many who triumph in these bitter pills which the ministry are so often forced to swallow; I own I do not; it is more mortifying to me to reflect how great and respectable we were three years ago, than satisfactory to see those insulted who have brought such shame upon us. 'Tis moor amends to national honour to know, that if a printer is set in the pillory, his country wishes it was my Lord This, or Mr. That. They will be gathered to the Oxfords, and Bolingbrokes, and ignominious(758) of former days; but the wound they have inflicted is perhaps indelible. That goes to my heart, who had felt all the Roman pride of being one of the first nations upon earth!—Good night!—I will go to bed, and dream of Kings drawn in triumph; and then I will go to paris, and dream I am proconsul there; pray, take care not to let me be wakened with an account of an invasion having taken place from Dunkirk!(759) Yours ever, H. W.

(749) The resolutions which were the foundation of the famous Stamp-act.-E.

(750) The substance of this petition, and the grave answer which the King was advised to give to such a ludicrous appeal, are preserved in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1765, p. 95; where also we learn that Mr. Walpole's idea of the Carpenters' petition was put in practice, and his Majesty was humbly entreated to wear a wooden leg himself, and to enjoin all his servants to do the same. It may, therefore, be presumed that this jeu d'esprit was from the pen of Mr. Walpole.-C.

(751) Lady Hirriot Wentworth, sister of the last Lord Strafford, wife of Henry Vernon, Esq., and mother of Lady Grosvenor, whose intrigue with the Duke of Cumberland made so much noise.-C.

(752) Thomas Villers, second son of Lord Jersey, first Lord Hyde of his family: his lady was Charlotte, daughter of Lady Jane Hyde, wife of William Earl of Essex, daughter of Henry, second Earl of clarendon, and sister of the Duchess of Queensberry.-C.

(753) George, fifteenth Lord Abergavenny; and his lady, Henrieta Pelham, sister of the first Earl of Chichester: she died in 1768.-E.

(754) Lady Sophia Keppel, daughter of the first Earl of Albemarle, and wife of Colonel Thomas.-E.

(755) A Jack-boot, in allusion to the Christian name and title of Lord Bute.-C.

(756) In a blue purse trimmed with orange, the colour of the revolution, in opposition to the Stuart.-C.

(757) ant'e, p. 370, letter 239.

(758) We might be surprised at finding a person of Mr. Walpole's taste and judgment, describing Harley and St. John as ignominious, if we did not recollect, that during their administration his father had been sent to the Tower, and expelled the House of commons for alleged official corruptions. It were to be wished that Mr. Walpole's personal prejudices could always be traced to so amiable a source.-C.

(759) The demolition of Dunkirk was one of the articles of the late treaty of peace, on which discussions were still depending.-C.

Letter 241 To George Montagu, Esq. Arlington Street, Feb. 19, 1765. (page 376)

Your health and spirits and youth delight me; yet I think you make but a bad use of them, when you destine them to a triste house in a country solitude. If you were condemned to retirement, It would be fortunate to have spirits to support it; but great vivacity is not a cause for making it one's option.

Why waste your sweetness on the desert air! at least, why bestow so little of your cheerfulness on your friends? I do not wish you to parade your rubicundity and gray hairs through the mobs and assemblies of London; I should think you bestowed them as ill as on Greatworth; but you might find a few rational creatures here, who are heartily tired of what are called our pleasures, and who would be glad to have you in their chimney-corner. There you might have found me any time this fortnight; I have been dying of the worst and longest cold I ever had in my days, and have been blooded, and taken James's powder to no purpose. I look almost like the skeleton that Frederick found in the oratory;(760) my only comfort was, that I should have owed my death to the long day in the House of Commons, and have perished with Our liberties; but I think I am getting the better of my martyrdom, and shall live to See you; nay, I shall not be gone to Paris. As I design that journey for the term of my figuring in the world, I would fain wind up my politics too, and quit all public ties together. As I am not old yet, and have an excellent though delicate constitution, I may promise myself some agreeable years, if I could detach myself from all connexions, but with a very few persons that I value. Oh, with what joy I could bid adieu to loving and hating; to crowds, public places, great dinners, visits; and above all, to the House of Commons; but pray mind when I retire, it shall only be to London and Strawberry Hill—in London one can live as one will, and at Strawberry I will live as I will. Apropos, my good old tenant Franklin is dead, and I am in possession of his cottage, which will be a delightfully additional plaything at Strawberry. I shall be violently tempted to stick in a few cypresses and lilacs there before I go to Paris. I don't know a jot of news: I have been a perfect hermit this fortnight, and buried in Runic poetry and Danish wars. In short, I have been deep in a late history of Denmark, written by one Mallet, a Frenchman,(761) a sensible man, but I cannot say he has the art of making a very tiresome subject agreeable. There are six volumes, and I am stuck fast in the fourth.

Lord Byron's trial I hear is to be in May. If you are curious about it, I can secure you a ticket for Lord Lincoln's gallery. The Antiquarian Society have got Goody Carlisle(762) for their president, and I suppose she will sit upon a Saxon chalkstone till the return of King Arthur. Adieu!

(760) An allusion to the scene in the last chapter of his Castle of Otranto.- E.

(761) Paul Henry Mallet was born at Geneva in 1731, and was for some time professor of history in his native city. He afterwards became professor royal of the belles lettres at Copenhagen. The introduction to his History of Denmark was afterwards translated by Dr. Percy, under the title of Northern Antiquities, including the Edda.-E.

(762) Dr. Charles Lyttelton, Bishop of Carlisle. See ant'e, p. 207, letter 149. On his death, in 1768, he made a very valuable bequest of manuscripts and printed books to the Society.-E.

Letter 242 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Strawberry Hill, Feb. 28, 1765. (page 377)

Dear sir, As you do not deal with newspapers, nor trouble Yourselves with occurrences of modern times, you may perhaps conclude from what I have told you, and from my silence, that I am in France. This will tell you that I am not; though I have been long thinking of it, and still intend it, though not exactly yet. My silence I must lay on this uncertainty, and from having been much out of order above a month with a very bad cold and cough, for which I am come hither to try change of air. Your brother Apthorpe, who was so good as to call upon me about a fortnight ago in town, found me too hoarse to speak to him. We both asked one another the same question—news of you?

I have lately had an accession to my territory here, by the death of good old Franklin, to whom I had given for his life the lease of the cottage and garden cross the road. Besides a little pleasure in planting, and in crowding it with flowers, I intend to make, what I am sure you are antiquarian enough to approve, a bower, though your friends the abbots did not indulge in such retreats, at least not under that appellation: but though we love the same ages, you must excuse worldly me for preferring the romantic scenes of antiquity. If you will tell me how to send it, and are partial enough to me to read a profane work in the style of former centuries, I shall convey to you a little story-book, which I published some time ago, though not boldly with my own name: but it has succeeded so well, that I do not any longer entirely keep the secret. Does the title, The Castle of Otranto(763) tempt you? I shall be glad to hear you are well and happy.

(763) In the first edition of this work, of which but very few copies were printed, the title ran thus:—"The Castle of Otranto, a Story, translated by William Marshal, Gent., from the original Italian of onuphrio Muralto, Canon of the church of St. Nicholas at Otranto. London: printed for Thomas Lownds, in Fleet Street, 1765."-E.

Letter 243 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Strawberry Hill, March 9, 1765. (page 378)

Dear sir, I had time to write but a short note with the Castle of Otranto, as your messenger called on me at four o'clock, as I was going to go abroad. Your partiality to me and Strawberry have, I hope, inclined you to excuse the wildness of the story. You will even have found some traits to put you in mind of this place.(764)—When you read of the Picture quitting its panel,(765) did not you recollect the portrait of Lord Falkland, all in white, in my gallery? Shall I even confess to you, what was the origin of this romance! I waked one morning, in the beginning of last June, from a dream, of which, all I could recover was, that I had thought myself in an ancient castle, (a very natural dream for a head filled like mine with Gothic story,) and that on the uppermost bannister of a great staircase I saw a gigantic hand in armour. In the evening I sat down, and began to write, without knowing in the least what I intended to say or relate. The work grew on my hands, and I grew fond of it—add, that. I was very glad to think of any thing, rather than politics. In short, I was so engrossed with my tale, which I completed in less than two months, that one evening, I wrote from the time I had drunk my tea, about six o'clock, till after one in the morning when my hand and fingers were so weary, that I- could not hold my pen to finish the sentence, but left Matilda and Isabella talking, in the middle of a paragraph. You will laugh at my earnestness; but if I have amused you by retracing with any fidelity the manners of ancient days, I am content, and give you leave to think me as idle as you please.

You are, as you have long been to me, exceedingly kind, and I should, with great satisfaction, embrace your offer of visiting the solitude of Bleckely, though my cold is in a manner gone, and my cough quite, if I was at liberty: but as I am preparing for my French journey, and have forty businesses upon my hands, and can only now and then purloin a day, or half a day, to come hither. You know I am not cordially disposed to your French journey, which is much more serious, as it is to be much more lasting. However, though I may suffer by your absence, I would not dissuade what may suit your inclination and circumstances. One thing, however, has struck me, which I must mention, though it would depend on a circumstance, that would give me the most real concern. It was suggested to me by that real fondness I have for your MSS. for your kindness about which I feel the utmost gratitude. You would not, I think, leave them behind you: and are you aware of the danger you would run, If, you settled entirely in France? Do You know that the King of France is heir to all strangers who die in his dominions, by what they call the Droit d'Aubaine. Sometimes by great interest and favour, persons have obtained a remission of this right in their lifetime: and yet that, even that, has not secured their effects from being embezzled. Old Lady Sandwich(766) had obtained this remission, and yet, though she left every thing to the present lord, her grandson, a man for whose rank one should have thought they would have had regard, the King's officers forced themselves into her house, after her death, and plundered. You see, if you go, I shall expect to have your MSS. deposited with me. Seriously, you must leave them in safe custody behind you.

Lord Essex's trial is printed with the State Trials. In return for your obliging offer, I can acquaint you with a delightful publication of this winter, a Collection of Old Ballads and Poetry, in three volumes, many from Pepys's Collection at Cambridge.(767) There were three such published between thirty and forty years ago, but very carelessly, and wanting many in this set: indeed, there were others, a looser sort,(768) which the present editor, who is a clergyman, thought it decent to omit.

When you go into Cheshire, and upon your ramble, may I trouble you with a commission? but about which you must promise me not to go a Step Out of your way. Mr. Bateman has got a cloister at Old Windsor, furnished with ancient wooden chairs, most of them triangular, but all of various patterns, and carved and turned in the most uncouth and whimsical forms. He picked them up one by one, for two, three, five, or six shillings apiece from different farmhouses in Herefordshire. I have long envied and coveted them. There may be such in poor cottages, in so neighbouring a county as Cheshire. I should not grudge any expense for purchase or carriage; and should be glad even of a couple such for my cloister here. When you are copying inscriptions in a churchyard in any village, think of me, and step into the first cottage you see—but don't take further trouble than that.

I long to know what your bundle of manuscripts from Cheshire contains.

My bower is determined, but not at all what it is to be. Though I write romances, I cannot tell how to build all that belongs to them. Madame Danois, in the Fairy Tales, used to tapestry them with jonquils; but as that furniture will not last above a fortnight in the year, I shall prefer something more huckaback. I have decided that the outside shall be of treillage, which, however, I shall not commence, till I have again seen some of old Louis's old-fashioned Galanteries at Versailles. Rosamond's bower, you, and I, and Tom Hearne know, was a labyrinth:(769) but as my territory will admit of a very short clew, I lay aside all thoughts of a mazy habitation: though a bower is very different from an arbour, and must have more chambers than one. In short, I both know, and don't know, what it should be. I am almost afraid I must go and read Spenser, and wade through his allegories, and drawling stanzas, to get at a picture. But, good night! you see how one gossips, when one is alone, and at quiet on one's own dunghill!—Well! it may be trifling; yet it is such trifling as Ambition never is happy enough to know! Ambition orders palaces, but it is Content that chats for a page or two over a bower. Yours ever.

(764) "As, in his model of a Gothic modern mansion, Mr. Walpole had studiously endeavoured to fit to the purpose of modern convenience or luxury the rich, varied, and complicated tracery and carving of the ancient cathedral, so, in the Castle of Otranto, it was his object to unite the marvellous turn of incident and imposing tone of chivalry exhibited in the ancient romance, with that accurate display of human character and contrast of feelings and passions, which is, or ought to be, delineated in the modern novel." Sir Walter Scott; Prose Works, vol. iii. p. 307.-E.

(765) The forms of the grim knight and pictured saint Look living in the moon; and as you turn Backward and forward, to the echoes faint Of your own footsteps—voices from the urn Appear to wake, and shadows wild and quaint Start from the frames which fence their aspects stern, As if to ask how you can dare to keep A vigil there, where all but death should sleep." Don Juan, c. xvi. st. 18.-E.

(766) Elizabeth, second daughter of John Wilmot Earl of Rochester, and sister and co-heiress of Charles third Earl, and widow of Edward Montagu third Earl of Sandwich, who died 20th of October, 1729.-E.

(767) Edited by the Rev. Thomas Percy, fellow of St. John's College, Oxford, and afterwards Bishop of Dromore. "The reviver of minstrel poetry in Scotland was the venerable Bishop of Dromore, who, in 1765, published his elegant collection of heroic ballads, songs, and pieces of early poetry under the title of 'Reliques Of Ancient English Poetry.' The plan of the work was adjusted in concert with Mr. Shenstone, but we own we cannot regret that the execution of it devolved upon Dr. Percy alone; of whose labours, as an editor, it might be said, 'Nihil quod tetigit non ornavit.'" Sir W. Scott. Prose Works, vol. xvii. P. 120.-E.

(768) The work was entitled "A Collection of Old Ballads, corrected from the best and most ancient copies extant, with Introductions, historical, critical, or humorous." Sir Walter Scott observes, that the editor was an enthusiast in the cause of old poetry, and selected his matter without much regard to decency, as will appear from the following singular preface to one or two indelicate pieces of humour:—"One of the greatest complaints made by the ladies against the first volume of our collection, and, indeed, the only one which has reached my ears, is the want of merry songs. I believe I may give a pretty good guess at what they call mirth in such pieces as These, and shall endeavour to satisfy them." Prose Works, vol. xvii. p. 122.-E.

(769) The Bower of Rosamond is said, or rather fabled, to have been a retreat built at Woodstock by Henry II. for the safe residence of his mistress, Rosamond Clifford; the approaches of which were so intricate, that it could not be entered without the guidance of a thread, which the King always kept in his own possession. His Queen, Eleanor, having, however, gained possession of the thread, obtained access to, and speedily destroyed her fair rival.-E.

Letter 244 To Monsieur Elie De Beaumont.(770) Strawberry Hill, March 18, 1765. (page 381)

Sir, When I had the honour of seeing you here, I believe I told you that I had written a novel, in which I was flattered to find that I had touched an effusion of the heart in a manner similar to a passage in the charming letters of the Marquis de Roselle.(771) I have since that time published my little story, but was so diffident of its merit, that I gave it as a translation from the Italian. Still I should not have ventured to offer it to so great a mistress of the passions as Madame de Beaumont, if the approbation of London, that is, of a country to which she and you, Sir, are so good as to be partial, had not encouraged me to send it to you. After I have talked of the passions, and the natural effusion-, of the heart, how will you be surprised to find a narrative of the most improbable and absurd adventures! How will you be amazed to hear that a country of whose good sense you have an opinion should have applauded so wild a tale! But you must remember, Sir, that whatever good sense we have, we are not yet in any light chained down to precepts and inviolable laws. All that Aristotle or his superior commentators, your authors, have taught us, has not yet subdued us to regularity: we still prefer the extravagant beauties of Shakspeare and Milton to the cold and well-disciplined merit of Addison, and even to the sober and correct march of Pope. Nay, it was but t'other day that we were transported to hear Churchill rave in numbers less chastised than Dryden's, but still in numbers like Dryden's.(772) You will not, I hope, think I apply these mighty names to my own case with any vanity, when it is only their enormities that I quote, and that in defence, not of myself' but of my countrymen, who have good-humour enough to approve the visionary scenes and actors in the Castle of Otranto.

To tell you the truth, it was not so much my intention to recall the exploded marvels of ancient romance, as to blend the wonderful of old stories with the natural of modern novels. The world is apt to wear out any plan whatever; and if the Marquis de Roselle had not appeared, I should have been inclined to say, that that species had been exhausted. Madame de Beaumont must forgive me if I add, that Richardson had, to me at least, made that kind of writing insupportable. I thought the nodus was become dignus vindice, and that a god, at least a ghost, was absolutely necessary to frighten us out of too much senses. When I had so wicked a design, no wonder if the execution was answerable. If I make you laugh, for I cannot flatter myself that I shall make you cry, I shall be content; at least I shall be satisfied, till I have the pleasure of seeing you, with putting you in mind of, Sir, your, etc.

P. S. The passage I alluded to in the beginning of my letter is where Matilda owns her passion to Hippolita. I mention it, as I fear so unequal a similitude would not strike Madame de Beaumont.

(770) M. Elie de Beaumont was admitted an advocate at the French bar in 1762. The weakness of his voice militated against his success as a pleader, but the beauty and eloquence with which he drew up his M'emoires, and especially the one in favour of the unfortunate Calas family, gained him great reputation. He was born in 1732, and died in 1786.-E.

(771) A French epistolary novel written by Madame Elie de Beaumont. She also wrote the third part of "Anecdotes de la Cour et du R'egne de Edouard II." She was born at Caen in 1729, and died in 1783.-E.

(772) "Churchill," observes Mr. Campbell, in his Specimens of the British Poets, " may be ranked as a satirist immediately after Pope and Dryden, with perhaps a greater share of humour than either. He has the bitterness of Pope, with less wit to atone for it; but no mean share of the free manner and energetic plainness of Dryden," Vol. vi. P. 5.-E.

Letter 245 To The Earl Of Hertford. Arlington Street, March 28, 1765. (page 382)

Three weeks are a great while, my dear lord, for me to have been without writing to you; but besides that I have passed many days at Strawberry, to cure my cold (which it has done), there has nothing happened worth sending across the sea. Politics have dozed, and common events been fast asleep. Of Guerchy's affair,(773) you probably know more than I do; it is now forgotten. I told him I had absolute proof of his innocence, for I was sure, that if he had offered money for assassination, the men who swear against him would have taken it.

The King has been very seriously ill,; and in great danger. I would not alarm you, as there were hopes when he was at the worst. I doubt he is not free yet from his complaint, as the humour fallen on his breast still oppresses him. They talk of his having a levee next week, but he has not appeared in public, and the bills are passed by commission; but he rides out. The Royal Family have suffered like us mortals; the Duke of Gloucester has had a fever, but I believe his chief complaint is of a youthful kind. Prince Frederick is thought to be in a deep consumption; and for the Duke of Cumberland, next post will probably certify you of his death, as he is relapsed, and there are no hopes Of him. He fell into his lethargy again, and when they waked him, he said he did not know whether he could call himself obliged to them.

I dined two days ago at Monsieur de Guerchy's, with the Comte de Caraman,(774) who brought me your letter. He seems a very agreeable Man, and you may be sure, for Your sake, and Madame de Mirepoix's, no civilities in my power shall be wanting. I have not yet seen Schouvaloff,(775) about whom one has more curiosity—it is an opportunity of gratifying that passion which one can so seldom do in Personages of his historic nature, especially remote foreigners. I wish M. de Caraman had brought the "Siege of Calais,"(776) which he tells me is printed, though your account has a little abated my impatience. They tell us the French comedians are to act at Calais this summer—is it possible they can be so absurd, or think us so absurd as to go thither, if we would not go further? I remember, at Rheims, they believed that English ladies went to Calais to drink champagne!—is this the suite of that belief? I was mightily pleased with the Duc de Choiseul's answer to the Clairon;(777) but when I hear of the French admiration of Garrick, it takes off something of my wonder at the prodigious admiration of him at home. I never could conceive the marvellous merit of repeating the words of other's in one's own language with propriety, however well delivered. Shakspeare is not more admired for writing his plays, than Garrick for acting them. I think him a very good and very various player—but several have pleased me more, though I allow not in so many parts. Quin in Falstaff, was as excellent as Garrick in Lear. Old Johnson far more natural in every thing he attempted. Mrs. Porter and your Dumesnil surpassed him in passionate tragedy; Cibber and O'Brien were what Garrick could never reach, coxcombs, and men of fashion.(778) Mrs. Clive is at least as perfect in low comedy—and Yet to me, Ranger was the part that suited Garrick the best of all he ever performed. He was a poor Lothario, a ridiculous Othello, inferior to Quin(779) in Sir John Brute and Macbeth, and to Cibber in Bayes, and a woful Lord Hastings and Lord Townley. Indeed, his Bayes was original, but not the true part: Cibber was the burlesque of a great poet, as the part was designed, but Garrick made it a Garretteer. The town did not like him in Hotspur, and yet I don't know whether he did not succeed in it beyond all the rest. Sir Charles Williams and Lord Holland thought so too, and they were no bad judges. I am impatient to see the Clairon, and certainly will, as I have promised, though I have not fixed my day. But do you know you alarm me! There was a time when I was a match for Madame de Mirepoix at pharaoh, to any hour of the night, and believe did play, with her five nights in a week till three and four in the morning—but till eleven o'clock to-morrow morning- -Oh! that is a little too much even at loo. Besides, I shall not go to Paris for pharaoh—if I play all night, how shall I see every thing all day?

Lady Sophia Thomas has received the Baume de vie, for she gives you a thousand thanks, and I ten thousand.

We are extremely amused with the wonderful histories of your hyena(780) in the Gevaudan: but our fox-hunters despise you: it is exactly the enchanted monster of old romances. If I had known its history a few months ago, I believe it would have appeared in the Castle of Otranto,—the success of which has, at last, brought me to own it, though the wildness of it made me terribly afraid: but it was comfortable to have it please so much, before any mortal suspected the author: indeed, it met with too much honour far, for at first it was universally believed to be Mr. Gray's. As all the first impression is sold, I am hurrying out another, with a new preface, which I will send you.

There is not so much delicacy of wit as in M. de Choiseul's speech to the Clairon, but I think the story I am going to tell you in return, will divert you as much: there was a vast assembly at Marlborough-house, and a throng in the doorway. My Lady Talbot said, "Bless me! I think this is like the Straits of Thermopylae!" My Lady Northumberland replied, "I don't know what Street that is, but I wish I could get my - through." I hope you admire the contrast. Adieu! my dear lord! Yours ever.

(773) This alludes, it is presumed, to a bill of indictment which was found in the beginning of March, at the sessions at Hick's Hall, against the Count de Guerchy, for the absurd charge of a conspiracy to murder D'Eon.-C.

(774) Probably fran'cois Joseph, Count de Caraman, who married a Princess de Chimay, heiress of the house of Benin, niece of Madame de Mirepoix.-C.

(775) He had been favourite to the Empress Catherine; and, as Mr. Walpole elsewhere says, "a favourite without an enemy."-C.

(776) A tragedy by M. du Belloy, which, with little other merit than its anti-Anglicism, (which, in all times, has passed in France for patriotism,) "faisait fureur" at this time.-C.

(777) Mademoiselle Clairon was at this moment in such vogue on the French stage, that her admirers struck a medal in honour of her, and wore it as a kind of order. A critic of the name of Fr'eron, however, did not partake these sentiments, and drew, in his journal, an injurious character of Mademoiselle Clairon. This insult so outraged the tragedy queen, that she and her admirers moved heaven and earth to have Fr'ron sent to the Bastile, and, failing in her solicitation to the inferior departments, she at last had recourse to the prime-minister, the Duke of Choiseul, himself. His answer, which Lord Hertford, no doubt, had communicated to Mr. Walpole, was admired for its polite persiflage of her theatric Majesty. "I am," said the Duke, "like yourself, a public performer, with this difference in your favour, that you choose the parts you please, and are sure to be crowned with the applause of the public (for I reckon as nothing the bad taste of one or two wretched individuals who have the misfortune of not admiring you). I, on the other hand, am obliged to act the parts imposed on me by necessity. I am sure to please nobody; I am satirized, criticised, libelled, hissed,—yet I continue to do my best. Let us both, then, sacrifice our little resentments and enmities to the public service, and serve our country each in our own station. Besides," he added, "the Queen has condescended to forgive Fr'eron, and you may, therefore, without compromising your dignity, imitate her Majesty's clemency." M'emoires de Bachaumont, t. i. p. 61. Such were the miserable intrigues and squabbles, and such the examples of ministerial pleasantry and prudence which occupied and amused the Parisian public!—this; is but a straw to show which way the wind blew; but such instances moderate our surprise and our sorrow at the storm which followed.-C.

(778) There was some little personal pique in Mr. Walpole's opinion of Garrick; yet it would be difficult to imagine a more forcible eulogium on that great actor than is here inadvertently pronounced, when, in order to find an equivalent for him, Mr. Walpole is obliged to bring together old Johnson and Colley Cibber, Quin and Clive, Porter and Dumesnil—two nations, two generations, and both sexes.-C.

(779) "In Brute he shone unequalled; all agree Garrick's not half so great a brute as he." Rosciad.-E.

(780) A wolf of enormous size, and, in some respects, irregular conformation, which for a long time ravaged the Gevaudan; it was, soon after the date of this letter, killed, and Mr. Walpole saw it in Paris.-C.

Letter 246 To George Montagu, Esq.

Arlington Street, April 5, 1765. (page 384)

I sent you two letters t'other day from your kin, and might as well have written then as now, for I have nothing to tell you. Mr. Chute has quitted his bed to-day the first time for above five weeks, but is still swathed like a mummy. He was near relapsing; for old Mildmay, whose lungs, and memory, and tongue, will never wear out, talked to him t'other night from eight till half an hour after ten, on the Poor-bill; but he has been more comfortable with Lord Dacre and me this evening.

I have read the Siege of Calais, and dislike it extremely, though there are fine lines, but the conduct is woful. The outrageous applause it has received ,it Paris was certainly Political, and intended to stir up their spirit and animosity against us, their good, merciful, and forgiving allies. they will have no occasion for this ardour; they may smite one cheek, and we shall turn t'other.

Though I have little to say, it is worth while to write, only to tell you two bon-mots of Quin, to that turncoat hypocrite infidel, Bishop Warburton. That saucy priest was haranguing at Bath in behalf of prerogative: Quin said, "Pray, my lord, spare me, you are not acquainted with my principles, I am a republican; and perhaps I even think that the execution of Charles the First might be justified." "AY!" said Warburton, "by what law?" Quin replied, "By all the laws he had left them." The Bishop(781) would have got off upon judgments, and bade the player remember, that all the regicides came to violent ends; a lie, but no matter. "I would not advise your lordship," said Quin, "to make use of that inference; for, if I am not mistaken, that was the case of the twelve apostles." There was great wit ad hominem in the latter reply, but I think the former equal to any thing I ever heard. It is the sum of the whole controversy couched in eight monosyllables, and comprehends at once the King's guilt and the justice of punishing it. The more one examines it, the finer it proves. One can say nothing after it: so good night! Yours ever.

(781) Gray, in a letter of the 29th, relates the following anecdote:—"Now I am talking of bishops, I must tell you that, not long ago, Bishop Warburton, in a sermon at court, asserted that all preferments were bestowed on the most illiterate and worthless objects; and, in speaking, turned himself about and stared at the Bishop of London: he added, that if any one arose distinguished for merit and learning, there was a combination of dunces to keep him down. I need not tell you that he expected the bishopric of London when Terrick got it: so ends my ecclesiastical history." Works, vol. iv. p. 40.-E.

Letter 247 To The Earl Of Hertford. Strawberry Hill, Easter Sunday, April 7, 1765. (page 385)

Your first wish -will be to know how the King does: he came to Richmond last Monday for a week; but appeared suddenly and unexpected at his lev'ee at St. James's last Wednesday; this was managed to prevent a crowd. Next day he was at the drawing-room, and at chapel on Good Friday. They say, he looks pale; but it is the fashion to call him very well:—I wish it may be true.(782) The Duke of Cumberland is actually set out for Newmarket to-day: he too is called much better; but it is often as true of the health of princes as of their prisons, that there is little distance between each and their graves.(783) There has been a fire at Gunnersbury, which burned four rooms: her servants announced it to Princess Amalie with that wise precaution of " Madam, don't be frightened!"—accordingly, she was terrified. When they told her the truth, she said, "I am very glad; I had concluded my brother was dead."—So much for royalties!

Lord March and George Selwyn are arrived, after being wind-bound for nine days, at Calais. George is so charmed with my Lady Hertford, that I believe it was she detained him at Paris, not Lord March. I am full as much transported with Schouvaloff—I never saw so amiable a man! so much good breeding, humility, and modesty, with sense and dignity! an air of melancholy, without any thing abject. Monsieur de Caraman is agreeable too, informed and intelligent; he supped at your brother's t'other night, after being at Mrs. Anne Pitt's. As the first curiosity of foreigners is to see Mr. Pitt, and as that curiosity is one of the most difficult points in the world to satisfy, he asked me if Mr. Pitt was like his sister? I told him, "Qu'ils se ressembloient comme deux gouttes de feu."

The Parliament is adjourned till after the holidays, and the trial.(784) There have been two very long days in our own House, on a complaint from Newfoundland merchants on French encroachments. The ministry made a woful piece of work of it the first day, and we the second. Your brother, Sir George Savile, and Barr'e shone; but on the second night, they popped a sudden division upon us about nothing; some went out, and some stayed in; they were 161, we but 44, and then they flung pillows upon the question, and stifled it,—and so the French have not encroached.

There has been more serious work in the Lords, upon much less important matter; a bill for regulating the poor,—(don't ask me how, for you know I am a perfect goose about details of business,) formed by one Gilbert,(785) a member, and steward to the Duke of Bridgewater, or Lord Gower, or both,—had passed pacifically through the Commons, but Lord Egmont set fire to it in the Lords. On the second reading, he opposed it again, and made a most admired speech; however it passed on. But again, last Tuesday, when it was to be in the committee, such forces were mustered against the bill, that behold all the world regarded it as a pitched battle between Lord Bute and Lord Holland on One side, and the Bedfords and Grenville on the other. You may guess if it grew a day of expectation. When it arrived, Lord Bute was not present, Lord Northumberland voted for the bill, and Lord Holland went away. Still politicians do not give up the mystery. Lord Denbigh and Lord Pomfret, especially the latter, were the most personal against his Grace of Bedford. He and his friends, they say, (for I was not there, as you will find presently,) kept their temper well. At ten at night the House divided, and, to be sure, the minority was dignified; it consisted of the Dukes of York and Gloucester, the Chancellor, Chief Justice, Lord President, Privy Seal, Lord Chamberlain, Chamberlain to the Queen, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and a Secretary of State. Lord Halifax, the other Secretary, was ill. The numbers were 44 to 58. Lord Pomfret then moved to put off the bill for four months; but the cabinet rallied, and rejected the motion by a majority of one. So it is to come on again after the holidays. The Duke of Newcastle, Lord Temple, and the opposition, had once more the pleasure, which, I believe, they don't dislike, of being in a majority.

Now, for my disaster; you will laugh at it, though it was woful to me. I was to dine at Northumberland-house, and went a little after four: there I found the Countess, Lady Betty Mekinsy, Lady Strafford; my Lady Finlater,(787) who was never out of Scotland before; a tall lad of fifteen, her son; Lord Drogheda, and Mr. Worseley.(788) At five,(789) arrived Mr. Mitchell,(790) who said the Lords had begun to read the Poor-bill, which would take at least two hours, and perhaps would debate it afterwards. We concluded dinner would be called for, it not being Very precedented for ladies to wait for gentlemen:—no such thing. Six o'clock came,—seven o'clock came,—our coaches came,—well! we sent them away, and excuses were we were engaged. Still the Countess's heart did not relent, nor uttered a syllable of apology. We wore out the wind and the weather, the opera and the play, Mrs. Cornelys's and Almack's, and every topic that would do in a formal circle. We hinted, represented—in vain. The clock struck eight: my lady, at last, said, she would go and order dinner; but it was a good half hour before it appeared. We then sat down to a table for fourteen covers; but instead of substantials, there was nothing but a profusion of plates striped red, green, and yellow, gilt plate, blacks and uniforms! My Lady Finlater, who had never seen these embroidered dinners, nor dined after three, was famished. The first course stayed as long as possible, in hopes of the lords: so did the second. The dessert at last arrived, and the middle dish was actually set on when Lord Finlater and Mr. Mackay(791) arrived!—would you believe it?—the dessert was remanded, and the whole first course brought back again!—Stay, I have not done:—just as this second first course had done its duty, Lord Northumberland, Lord Strafford, and Mekinsy came in, and the whole began a third time! Then the second course, and the dessert! I thought we should have dropped from our chairs with fatigue and fumes! When the clock struck eleven, we were asked to return to the drawing-room, and drink tea and coffee, but I said I was engaged to supper, and came home to bed. My dear lord, think of four hours and a half in a circle of mixed company, and three great dinners, one after another, without interruption;—no, it exceeded our day at Lord Archer's! Mrs. Armiger,(792) and Mrs. Southwell,(793) Lady Gower's(794) niece, are dead, and old Dr. Young, the poet.(795) Good night!

(782) "In April 1765," says the Quarterly Review for June 1840, "his Majesty had a serious illness: its particular character was then unknown, but we have the best authority for believing that it was of the nature of those which thrice after afflicted his Majesty, and finally incapacitated him for the duties of government."-E.

(783) The French express this thought very dramatically; "Monseigneur est malade—Monscigneur est mieux—Monseigneur est mort!"-C.

(784) See ant'e, p. 296, letter 194.-E.

(785) Of Lord Byron.

(786) Thomas Gilbert, Esq. At this time member for Newcastle-under-Line, and comptroller of the King's wardrobe.-E.

(787) Lady Mary Murray, daughter of John first Duke of Athol, and wife of James sixth Earl of Finlater: her son, afterwards seventh Earl, was born in 1750.-E.

(788) Probably Thomas Worseley, Esq. member for Oxford, and surveyor-general of the board of works.-C.

(789) This was probably the hour of extreme fashion at this time.-C.

(790) Afterwards Sir Andrew Mitchell, K. B. He was at this time our minister at Berlin, and also member for the burghs of Elgin, etc.-E.

(791) Probably J. Ross Mackie, member for Kirkcudbright, treasurer of the ordnance.-C.

(792) The lady of Major-General Robert Armiger, who had been aide-de-camp to George II.-E.

(793) Catherine, heiress of Edward Watson, Viscount Sondes, by Lady Catherine Tufton, coheiress of the sixth Earl of Thanet, the son of Lady margaret Sackville, the heiress of the De Cliffords: she was the mother of Edward Southwell, Esq., member for Gloucestershire, who, on the death of the great-aunt, Margaret Tufton, Baroness de Clifford, was confirmed in that barony.-C.

(794) Mary, another daughter and coheiress of the sixth Earl Thanet, widow of Anthony Grey, Earl of harold, and third wife of John first Earl Gower.-C.

(795) Dr. Young died on the 5th of April, in his eighty-fourth year.-E.

Letter 248 To The Earl Of Hertford. Arlington Street, April 18, 1765. (page 388)

Lady Holland carries this, which enables me to write a little more explicitly than I have been able to do lately. The King has been in the utmost danger; the humour in his face having fallen upon his breast. He now appears constantly; yet, I fear, his life is very precarious, and that there is even apprehension of a consumption. After many difficulties from different quarters, a Regency-bill is determined; the King named it first to the ministers, who said, they intended to mention it to him as soon as he was well; yet they are not thought to be fond of it. The King is to come to the House on Tuesday, and recommend the provision to the Parliament.(796) Yet, if what is whispered proves true, that the nomination of the Regent is to be reserved to the King's will, it is likely to cause great uneasiness. If the ministers propose such a clause, it is strong evidence of their own instability, and, I should think, would not save them, at least, some of them. The world expects changes Soon, though not a thorough alteration; yet, if any takes place shortly, I should think It would be a material One than not. The enmity between Lord Bute and Mr. Grenville is not denied on either side. There is a notion, and I am inclined to think not ill founded, that the former and Mr. Pitt are treating. It is certain that the last has expressed wishes that the opposition may lie still for the remainder of the session. This, at least, puts an end to the question on your brother,(797) of which I am glad for the present. The common town-talk is, that Lord Northumberland does not care to return to Ireland,—that you are to succeed him there, Lord Rochford you, and that Sandwich is to go to Spain. My belief is, that there will be no change, except, perhaps, a single one for Lord Northumberland, unless there are capital removals indeed.

The Chancellor, Grenville, the Bedfords, and the two Secretaries are one body; at least, they pass for such: yet it is very lately, if one of them has dropped his prudent management with Lord Bute. There seems an unwillingness to discard the Bedfords, though their graces themselves keep little terms of civility to Lord Bute, none to the Princess (Dowager). Lord Gower is a better courtier, and Rigby would do any thing to save his place.

This is the present state, which every day may alter: even to-morrow is a day of expectation, as the last struggle of the Poor-bill. If the Bedfords carry it, either by force or sufferance, (though Lord Bute has constantly denied being the author of the opposition to it,) I shall less expect any great change soon. In those less important, I shall not wonder to find the Duke of Richmond come upon the scene, perhaps for Ireland, though he is not talked of.

Your brother is out of town, not troubling himself, though the time seems so critical. I am not so philosophic; as I almost wish for any thing that may put an end to my being concerned in the m'el'ee—for any end to a most gloomy prospect for the country: alas! I see it not.

Lord Byron's trial lasted two days, and he was acquitted totally by four lords, Beaulieu, Falmouth, Despenser,(798) and Orford,(799) and found guilty of manslaughter by one hundred and twenty. The Dukes of York and Gloucester were present in their places. The prisoner behaved with great decorum, and seemed thoroughly shocked and mortified. Indeed, the bitterness of the world against him has been great, and the stories they have revived or invented to load him, very grievous. The Chancellor has behaved with his usual, or, rather greater vulgarness and blunders. Lord Pomfret(800) kept away decently, from the similitude of his own story.

I have been to wait on Messrs. Choiseul(801) and De Lauragais,(802) as you desired, but have not seen then yet. The former is lodged with my Lord Pembroke, and the Guerchys are in terrible apprehensions of his exhibiting some scene.

The Duke of Cumberland bore the journey to Newmarket extremely well, but has been lethargic Since,; yet they have found out that Daffy's Elixir agrees with, and does him good. Prince Frederick is very bad. There is no private news at all. As I shall not deliver this till the day after to-morrow, I shall be able to give you an account of the fate of the Poor-bill.

The medals that came for me from Geneva, I forgot to mention to you, and to beg you to be troubled with them till I see you. I had desired Lord Stanhope(803) to send them; and will beg you too, if any bill is sent, to pay it for me, and I will repay it. you. I say nothing of my journey, which the unsettled state of my affairs makes it impossible for me to fix. I long for every reason upon earth to be with you.

April 20th, Saturday.

The Poor-bill is put off till Monday; is then to be amended, and then dropped: a confession of weakness, in a set of people not famous for being moderate! I was assured, last night, that Ireland had been twice offered to you, and that it hung on their insisting upon giving you a secretary, either Wood or Bunbury. I replied very truly that I knew nothing of it, that you had never mentioned it to me and I believed not even to your brother. The answer was, Oh! his particular friends are always the last that know any thing about him. Princess Amalie loves this topic, and is for ever teasing us about your mystery. I defend myself by pleading that I have desired you never to tell me any thing till it was in the gazette.

They say there is to be a new alliance in the house of Montagu: that Lord Hinchinbrook(804) is to marry the sole remaining daughter of Lord Halifax; that her fortune is to be divided into three shares, of which each father is to take one, and the third is to be the provision for the victims. I don't think this the most unlikely part of the story. Adieu! my dear lord.

(796) In a letter to his son, of the 22d of April, Chesterfield says:—"Apropos of a minority: the King is to come to the House tomorrow, to recommend a bill to settle a regency, in case of his demise while his successor is a minor. Upon his late illness, which was no trifling one, the whole nation cried out aloud for such a bill, for reasons which will readily occur to you, who know situations, persons, and characters here. I do not know the provisions of this intended bill; but I wish it may b(@ copied exactly from that which was passed in the late King's reign, when the present King was a minor. I am sure there cannot be a better."-E.

(797) As to his dismissal.-C.

(798) Sir Francis Dashwood, lately confirmed in this barony, as the heir of the Fanes by his mother. He had been chancellor of the exchequer in Lord Bute's administration.-E.

(799) George, third Earl of Orford, Mr. Walpole's nephew; on whose death, in 1791, he succeeded to the title.-E.

(800) George, second Earl of Pomfret, while Lord Lempster, had the misfortune to kill Captain Grey, of the Guards, in a duel: he was tried at the Old Bailey in April 1752, and found guilty of manslaughter only. See vol. ii. p. 124, letter 54.-E.

(801) The son, it is supposed, of the Duc de Praslin.-C.

(802) Louis L'eon de Brancas, the eldest son of the Duc de Villars Brancas: he was, during his father's life, known as the Comte, and afterwards Duc, de Lauragais, and was a very singular and eccentric person. He was a great Anglomane, and was the first introducer into France of horseraces 'a l'Anglaise; it was to him that Louis XV.—not pleased at his insolent Anglomanie— made so excellent a retort. The King had asked him after one of his journeys, what he had learned in England? Lauragais answered, with a kind of republican dignity, "A panser" (penser).—"Les chavaux?" inquired the King. On the other hand, he was one of the first promoters of the practice of inoculation. stories about him, both in England and France, are endless: "He was," says M. de Segur, who knew him well, "one of the most singular men of the long period in which he lived; he united in his person a combination of great qualities and great faults, the smallest portion of which would have marked any other man with a striking originality." He died in 1823, at the age of ninety-one—his youthful name and follies forgotten in the respectable old age of the Duc de Brancas.-C.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19     Next Part
Home - Random Browse