If it had not been for this ball, I don't know how I should have furnished a decent letter. Pamphlets on Mr. Pitt are the whole conversation, and none of them worth sending cross the water: at least I, who am said to write some of them, think so; by which you may perceive I am not much flattered with the imputation. There must be new personages at least, before I write on any side. Mr. Pitt and the Duke of Newcastle! I should as soon think of informing the world that Miss Chudleigh is no vestal. You will like better to see some words which Mr. Gray has writ, at Miss Speed's request, to an old air of Geminiani: the thought is from the French.
Thyrsis, when we parted, swore Ere the spring he would return. Ah! what means yon violet flower, And the buds that deck the thorn? 'Twas the lark that upward sprung, 'Twas the nightingale that sung.
Idle notes! untimely green! Why this unavailing haste? Western gales and skies serene Speak not always winter past. Cease my doubts, my fears to move; Spare the Honour of my love.
Adieu, Madam, your most faithful servant.
(201) Lady Cecilia Johnston.
(202) lady Mary Coke.
Letter 104 To Sir David Dalrymple.(203) Nov. 30, 1761. (page 161)
I am much obliged to you, Sir, for the specimen of letters(204) you have been so good as to send me. The composition is touching, and the printing very beautiful. I am still more pleased with the design of the work; nothing gives so just an idea of an age as genuine letters; nay, history waits for its last seal from them. I have an immense collection in my hands, chiefly of the very time on which you are engaged: but they are not my own.
If I had received your commands in summer when I was at Strawberry Hill, and at leisure, I might have picked you out something to your purpose; at present I have not time, from Parliament and business, to examine them: yet to show you, Sir, that I have great desire to oblige you and contribute to your work, I send you the following singular paper, which I have obtained from Dr. Charles lyttelton, Dean of Exeter, whose name I will beg you to mention in testimony of his kindness, and as evidence for the authenticity of the letter, which he copied from the original in the hands of Bishop Tanner, in the year 1733. It is from Anne of Denmark, to the Marquis of Buckingham.
"My kind dogge, if I have any power or credit with you, let me have a trial of it at this time, in dealing sincerely and earnestly with the King, that Sir Walter Raleigh's life may not be called in question. If you do it, so that the success answer my expectation, assure yourself that I will take it extraordinarily kindly at your hands, and rest one that wisheth you well, and desires you to continue still as you have been, a true servant to your master."
I have begun Mr. Hume's history, and got almost through the first volume. It is amusing to one who ]knows a little of his own country, but I fear would not teach much to a beginner; details are so much avoided by him, and the whole rather skimmed than elucidated. I cannot say I think it very carefully performed. Dr. Robertson's work I should expect would be more accurate.
P. S. There has lately appeared, in four little volumes, a Chinese Tale, called Hau Kiou Choaan,(205) not very entertaining from the incidents, but I think extremely so from the novelty of the manner and the genuine representation of their customs.
(203) Now first collected.
(204) Probably Sir David's "Memorials and Letters relating to the History of Britain in the Reigns of James the First and Charles the First," which were published in 1766, from the originals in the Advocates' Library.-E.
(205) This pleasing little novel, in which the manners of the Chinese are painted to the life, was a translation from the Chinese by Mr. Wilkinson, and revised for publication by Dr. Percy.-E.
Letter 105 To George Montagu, Esq. Arlington Street, Dec. 8, 1761. (page 162)
I return you the list of prints, and shall be glad you will bring me all to which I have affixed this mark X. The rest I have; yet the expense of the whole list would not ruin me. Lord Farnham, who, I believe, departed this morning, brings you the list of the Duke of Devonshire's pictures.
I have been told that Mr. Bourk's history was of England, not of Ireland; I am glad it is the latter, for I am now in Mr. Hume's England, and would fain read no more. I not only know what has been written, but what would be written. Our story is so exhausted, that to make it new, they really make it new. Mr. Hume has exalted Edward the Second and depressed Edward the Third. The next historian, I suppose, will make James the First a hero, and geld Charles the Second.
Fingal is come out; I have not yet got through it; not but, it is very fine-yet I cannot at once compass an epic poem now. It tires me to death to read how many ways a warrior is like the moon, or the sun, or a rock, or a lion, or the ocean. Fingal is a brave collection of similes, and will serve all the boys at Eton and Westminster for these twenty years. I will trust you with a secret, but you must not disclose it; I should be ruined with my Scotch friends; in short, I cannot believe it genuine; I cannot believe a regular poem of six books has been preserved, uncorrupted, by oral tradition, from times before Christianity was introduced into the island. What! preserved unadulterated by savages dispersed among mountains, and so often driven from their dens, so wasted by wars civil and foreign! alas one man ever got all by heart? I doubt it; were parts preserved by some, other parts by others? Mighty lucky, that the tradition was never interrupted, nor any part lost-not a verse, not a measure, not the sense! luckier and luckier. I have been extremely qualified myself lately for this Scotch memory; we have had nothing but a coagulation of rains, fogs, and frosts, and though they have clouded all understanding, I suppose, if I had tried, I should have found that they thickened, and gave great consistence to my remembrance.
You want news—I must make it, if I send it. To change the dulness of the scene I went to the play, where I had not been this winter. They are so crowded, that though I went before six, I got no better place than a fifth row, where I heard very ill, and was pent for five hours without a soul near me that I knew. It was Cymbeline, and appeared to me as long as if every body in it went really to Italy in every act,, and came back again. With a few pretty passages and a scene or two, it is so absurd and tiresome, that I am persuaded Garrick(206) * * * * *
(206) The rest of this letter is lost.
Letter 106 To Sir David Dalrymple.(207) December 21, 1761. (page 163)
Your specimen pleases me, and I give you many thanks for promising me the continuation. You will, I hope, find less trouble with printers than I have done. Just when my book was, I thought, ready to appear, my printer ran away, and has left it very imperfect. This is the fourth I have tried, and I own it discourages me. Our low people are so corrupt and such knaves, that being cheated and disappointed are all the fruits of attempting to amuse oneself or others. Literature must struggle with many difficulties. They who print for profit print only for profit; we, who print to entertain or instruct others, are the bubbles of our designs, defrauded, abused, pirated—don't you think, Sir, one need have resolution? Mine is very nearly exhausted.
(207) Now first collected.
Letter 107 To George Montagu, Esq. Arlington Street, Dec. 23, 1761. Past midnight. (page 164)
I am this minute come home, and find such a delightful letter from you, that I cannot help answering it, and telling you so before I sleep. You need not affirm, that your ancient wit and pleasantry are revived; your letter is but five and twenty, and I will forgive any vanity, that is so honest, and so well founded. Ireland I see produces wonders of more sorts than one; if my Lord Anson was to go lord-lieutenant, I suppose he would return a ravisher. How different am I from this state of revivification! Even such talents as I had are far from blooming again; and while my friends, or contemporaries, or predecessors, are rising to preside over the fame of this age, I seem a mere antediluvian; must live upon what little stock of reputation I had acquired, and indeed grow so indifferent, that I can only wonder how those, whom I thought as old as myself, can interest themselves so much about a world, whose faces I hardly know. You recover your spirits and wit, Rigby is grown a speaker, Mr. Bentley a poet, while I am nursing one or two gouty friends, and sometimes lamenting that I am likely to survive the few I have left. Nothing tempts me to launch out again; every day teaches me how much I was mistaken in my own parts, and I am in no danger now but of thinking I am grown too wise; for every period of life has its mistake.
Mr. Bentley's relation to Lord Rochester by the St. Johns is not new to me, and you had more reason to doubt of their affinity by the former marrying his mistress, than to ascribe their consanguinity to it. I shall be glad to see the epistle: are not "The Wishes" to be acted? remember me, if they are printed; and I shall thank you for this new list of prints.
I have mentioned names enough in this letter to lead me naturally to new ill usage I have received. Just when I thought my book finished, my printer ran away, and had left eighteen sheets in the middle of the book untouched, having amused me with sending proofs. He had got into debt, and two girls with child; being two, he could not marry two Hannahs. You see my luck; I had been kind to this fellow; in short, if the faults of my life had been punished as severely as my merits have been, I should be the most unhappy of beings; but let us talk of something else.
I have picked up at Mrs. Dunch's auction the sweetest Petitot in the world-the very picture of James the Second, that he gave Mrs. Godfrey,(208) and I paid but six guineas and a half for it. I will not tell you how vast a commission I had given; but I will own, that about the hour of sale, I drove about the door to find what likely bidders there were. The first coach I saw was the Chudleighs; could I help concluding, that a maid of honour, kept by a duke, would purchase the portrait of a duke kept by a maid of honour-but I was mistaken. The Oxendens reserved the best pictures; the fine china, and even the diamonds, sold for nothing; for nobody has a shilling. We shall be beggars if we don't conquer Peru within this half year.
If you are acquainted with my lady Barrymore, pray tell her that in less than two hours t'other night the Duke of Cumberland lost four hundred and fifty pounds at loo; Miss Pelham won three hundred, and I the rest. However, in general, loo is extremely gone to decay; I am to play at Princess Emily's to-morrow for the first time this winter, and it is with difficulty she has made a party.
My Lady Pomfret is dead on the road to Bath; and unless the deluge stops, and the fogs disperse, I think we shall all die. A few days ago, on the cannon firing for the King going to the House, some body asked what it was? M. de Choiseul replied, "Apparemment, c'est qu'on voit le soleil."
Shall I fill up the rest of my paper with some extempore lines that I wrote t'other night on Lady Mary Coke having St. Anthony's fire in her cheek! You will find nothing in them to contradict what I have said in the former part of my letter; they rather confirm it.
No rouge you wear, nor can a dart >From Love's bright quiver wound your heart. And thought you, Cupid and his mother Would unrevenged their anger smother? No, no, from heaven they sent the fire That boasts St. Anthony its sire; They pour'd it on one peccant part, Inflamed your cheek, if not your heart. In vain-for see the crimson rise, And dart fresh lustre through your eyes While ruddier drops and baffled pain Enhance the white they mean to stain. Ah! nymph, on that unfading face With fruitless pencil Time shall trace His lines malignant, since disease But gives you mightier power to please.
Willis is dead, and Pratt is to be chief justice; Mr. Yorke attorney general; solicitor, I don't know who. Good night! the watchman cries past one!
(208) Arabella Churchill, sister of the great Duke of Marlborough, was the mistress of James the Second while Duke of York, by whom she had four children; the celebrated Duke of Berwick, the Duke of Albemarle, and two daughters. She afterwards became the wife of Colonel Charles Godfrey, master of the jewel office, and died in 1714, leaving by him two daughters, Charlotte Viscountess Falmouth, and Elizabeth, wife of Edmund Dunch, Esq.-E.
Letter 108 To George Montagu, Esq. Arlington Street, Dec. 30, 1761. (page 165)
I have received two more letters from You since I wrote last week, and I like to find by them that you are so well and so happy. As nothing has happened of change in my situation but a few more months passed, I have nothing to tell you new of myself. Time does not sharpen my passions or pursuits, and the experience I have had by no means prompts me to make new connexions. 'Tis a busy world, and well adapted to those who love to bustle in it; I loved it once, loved its very tempests—now I barely open my windows to view what course the storm takes. The town, who, like the devil, when one has once sold oneself' to him, never permits one to have done playing the fool, believe I have a great hand in their amusements; but to write pamphlets, I mean as a volunteer, one must love or hate, and I have the satisfaction of doing neither. I Would not be at the trouble of composing a distich to achieve a revolution. 'Tis equal to me what names are on the scene. In the general view, the prospect is very dark: the Spanish war, added to the load, almost oversets our most sanguine heroism: and now we have in opportunity of conquering all the world, by being at war with all the world, we seem to doubt a little of our abilities. On a survey of our situation, I comfort myself with saying, "Well, what is it to me?" A selfishness that is far from anxious, when it is the first thought in one's constitution; not so agreeable when it is the last, and adopted by necessity alone.
You drive your expectations much too fast, in thinking my Anecdotes of Painting are ready to appear, in demanding three volumes. You will see but two, and it will be February first. True, I have written three, but I question whether the third will be published at all; certainly not soon; it is not a work of merit enough to cloy the town with a great deal at once. My printer ran away, and left a third part of the two first volumes unfinished. I suppose he is writing a tragedy himself, or an epistle to my Lord Melcomb, or a panegyric on my Lord Bute.
Jemmy Pelham(209) is dead, and has left to his servants what little his servants had left him. Lord Ligonier was killed by the newspapers, and wanted to prosecute them; his lawyer told him it was impossible—a tradesman indeed might prosecute, as such a report might affect his credit. "Well, then," said the old man, "I may prosecute too, for I can prove I have been hurt by this 'report I was going to marry a great fortune, who thought I was but seventy-four; the newspapers have said I am eighty, and she will not have me."
Lord Charlemont's Queen Elizabeth I know perfectly; he outbid me for it; is his villa finished? I am well pleased with the design in Chambers. I have been my out-of-town with Lord Waldecrave, Selwyn, and Williams; it was melancholy the missing poor Edgecombe, who was constantly of the Christmas and Easter parties. Did you see the charming picture Reynolds painted for me of him, Selwyn, and Gilly Williams? It is by far one of the best things he has executed. He has just finished a pretty whole-length of Lady Elizabeth Keppel,(210) in the bridemaid's habit, sacrificing to Hymen.
If the Spaniards land in Ireland, shall you make the campaign? No. no, come back to England; you and I will not be patriots, till the Gauls are in the city, and we must take our great chairs and our fasces, and be knocked on the head with decorum in St. James's market. Good night!
P. S. I am told that they bind in vellum better at Dublin than any where; pray bring me one book of their binding, as well as it can be done, and I will not mind the price. If Mr. Bourk's history appear,-, before your return, let it be that.
(209) The Hon. James Pelham, of Crowhurst, Sussex. He had been principal secretary to Frederick Prince of Wales, and for nearly forty years secretary to the several lords-chamberlain.-E.
(210) She was daughter of the Earl of Albemarle, and married to the Marquis of Tavistock.
Letter 109 To George Montagu, Esq. Arlington Street, Jan. 26, 1762. (page 167)
We have had as many mails due from Ireland as you had from us. I have at last received a line from you; it tells me you are well, which I am always glad to hear; I cannot say you tell me much more. My health is so little subject to alteration, and so preserved by temperance, that it is not worth repetition; thank God you may conclude it is good, if I do not say to the contrary.
Here is nothing new but preparations for conquest, and approaches to bankruptcy; and the worst is, the former will advance the latter at least as much as impede it. You say the Irish will live and die with your cousin: I am glad they are so well disposed. I have lived long enough to doubt whether all, who like to live with one, would be so ready to die with one. I know it is not pleasant to have the time arrived when one looks about to see whether they would or not; but you are in a country of more sanguine complexion, and where I believe the clergy do not deny the laity the cup.
The Queen's brother arrived yesterday; your brother, Prince John, has been here about a week; I am to dine with him to-day at Lord Dacre's with the Chute. Our burlettas are gone out of fashion; do the Atnicis come hither next year, or go to Guadaloupe, as is said? I have been told that a lady Kingsland(211) at Dublin has a picture of Madame Grammont by Petitot; I don't know who Lady Kingsland is, whether rich or poor, but I know there is nothing I would not give for such a picture. I wish you would hunt it; and if the dame is above temptation, do try if you could obtain a copy in water colours, if there is any body in Dublin could execute it.
The Duchess of Portland has lately enriched me exceedingly; nine portraits of the court of Louis quatorze! Lord Portland brought them over; they hung in the nursery at Bulstrode, the children amused themselves with shooting at them. I have got them, but I will tell you no more, you don't deserve it; you write to me as if I were your godfather: "Honoured Sir, I am brave and well, my cousin George is well, we drink your health every night, and beg your blessing." This is the sum total of all your letters. I thought in a new country, and with your spirits and humour, you could have found something to tell me. I shall only ask you now when you return; but I declare I will not correspond with you: I don't write letters to divert myself, but in expectation of returns; in short, you are extremely in disgrace with me; I have measured my letters for sometime, and for the future will answer you paragraph for paragraph. You yourself don't seem to find letter-writing so amusing as to pay itself. Adieu!
(211) Nicholas Barnewall, third Viscount Kingsland, married Mary, daughter of Frances Jennings, sister to the celebrated Sarah Duchess of Marlborough, by George Count Hamilton: "by which marriage," says Walpole, "the pictures I saw at Tarvey, Lord Kingsland's house, came to him: I particularly recollect the portraits of Count Hamilton and his brother Anthony, and two of Madame Grammont; one taken in her youth, the other in advanced age."-E.
Letter 110 To George Montagu, Esq. Arlington Street, Feb. 2, 1762. (page 168)
I scolded YOU in my last, but I shall forgive you if you return soon to England, as you talk of doing; for though you are an abominable correspondent, and only write to beg letters, you are good company, and I have a notion I shall still be glad to see You.
Lady Mary Wortley is arrived;(212) I have seen her; I think her avarice, her dirt, and her vivacity, are all increased. Her dress, like her languages, is a gralimatias of several countries; the groundwork rags, and the embroidery nastiness. She needs no cap, no handkerchief, no gown, no petticoat, no shoes. An old black-laced hood represents the first; the fur of a horseman's coat, which replaces the third, serves for the second; a dimity petticoat is deputy, and officiates for the fourth; and slippers act the part of the last. When I was at Florence, and she was expected there, we were drawing Sortes Virgili-anas for her; we literally drew
Insanam vatem aspicies.
It would have been a stronger prophecy now, even than it was then.
You told me not a word of Mr. Macnaughton,(213) and I have a great mind to be as coolly indolent about our famous ghost in Cock-lane. Why should one steal half an hour from one's amusements to tell a story to a friend in another island? I could send you volumes on the ghost, and I believe if I were to stay a little, I might send its life, dedicated to my Lord Dartmouth, by the ordinary of Newgate, its two great patrons. A drunken parish clerk set it on foot out of revenge, the Methodists have adopted it, and the whole town of london think of nothing else. Elizabeth Canning and the Rabbit-woman were modest impostors in comparison of this, which goes on Without saving the least appearances. The Archbishop, who would not suffer the Minor to be acted in ridicule of the Methodists, permits this farce to be played every night, and I shall not be surprised if they perform in the great hall at Lambeth. I went to hear it, for it is not an apparition, but an audition. We set out from the Opera, changed our clothes at Northumberland-house, the Duke of York, Lady Northumberland, Lady Mary Coke, Lord Hertford, and I, all in one hackney coach, and drove to the spot: it rained torrents; yet the lane was full of mob, and the house so full we could not get in; at last they discovered it was the Duke of York, and the company squeezed themselves into one another's pockets to make room for us. The house, which is borrowed, and to which the ghost has adjourned, is wretchedly small and miserable; when we opened the chamber, in which were fifty people, with no light but one tallow candle at the end, we tumbled over the bed of the child to whom the ghost comes, and whom they are murdering by inches in such insufferable heat and stench. At the top of the room are ropes to dry clothes. I asked, if we were to have rope-dancing between the acts? We had nothing; they told us, as they would at a puppet-show, that it would not come that night till seven in the morning, that is, when there are only 'prentices and old women. We stayed however till half an hour after one. The Methodists have promised them contributions; provisions are sent in like forage, and all the taverns and alehouses in the neighbourhood make fortunes. The most diverting part is to hear people wondering when it will be found out—as if there was any thing to find out—as if the actors would make their noises when they can be discovered. However, as this pantomime cannot last much longer, I hope Lady Fanny Shirley will set up a ghost of her own at Twickenham, and then you shall hear one. The Methodists, as Lord Aylesford assured Mr. Chute two nights ago at Lord Dacre's have attempted ghosts three times in Warwickshire. There, how good I am!
(212) Lady Mary Wortley Montagu remained at Venice till the death of Mr. Wortley in this year when she yielded to the solicitations of her daughter, the Countess of Bute, and, after an absence of two-and-twenty years, began her journey to England, where she arrived in October.-E.
(213) john Macnaughton, Esq. executed in December, 1761, for the murder of Miss Knox, daughter of Andrew Knox, Esq. of Prehen, member of parliament for Donegal. macnaughton, who had ruined himself by gambling, sought to replenish his fortune by marriage with this young lady, who had considerable expectations; but as her friends would not consent to their union, and he failed both in inveigling her into a secret marriage, and in compelling her by the suits which he commenced in the ecclesiastical courts to ratify an alleged promise of marriage, he revenged himself by shooting her while riding in a carriage with her father.-E.
Letter 111 To George Montagu, Esq. Arlington Street, Feb. 6, 1762. (PAGE 169)
You must have thought me very negligent of your commissions; not only in buying your ruffles, but in never mentioning them; but my justification is most ample and verifiable. Your letters of Jan. 2d arrived but yesterday with the papers of Dec. 29. These are the mails that have so long been missing, and were shipwrecked or something on the Isle of Man. Now you see it was impossible for me to buy you a pair of ruffles for the 18th of January, when I did not receive the orders till the 5th of February.
You don't tell me a word (but that is not new to you) of Mr. Hamilton's wonderful eloquence, which converted a whole House of Commons on the five regiments. We have no such miracles here; five regiments might work such prodigies, but I never knew mere rhetoric gain above one or two proselytes at a time in all my practice.
We have a Prince Charles here, the Queen's brother; he is like her, but more like the Hows; low, but well made, good eyes and teeth. Princess Emily is very ill, has been blistered, and been blooded four times.
My books appear on Monday se'nnight: if I can find any quick conveyance for them, you shall have them; if not, as you are returning soon, I may as well keep them for you. Adieu! I grudge every word I write to you.
Letter 112To The Rev. Mr. Cole.(214) Tuesday, Feb. 7, 1762. (PAGE 170)
Dear Sir, The little leisure I have to-day will, I trust, excuse my saying very few words in answer to your obliging letter, of which no part touches me more than what concerns your health, which, however, I rejoice to hear is reestablishing itself.
I am sorry I did not save you the trouble of cataloguing Ames's beads, by telling you that another person has actually done it, and designs to publish a new edition ranged in a different method. I don't know the gentleman's name, but he is a friend of Sir William Musgrave, from whom I had this information some months ago.
You will oblige me much by the sight of the volume you mention. Don't mind the epigrams you transcribe on my father. I have been inured to abuse on him from my birth. It is not a quarter of an hour ago since, cutting the leaves of a new dab called Anecdotes of Polite Literature, I found myself abused for having defended my father. I don't know the author, and suppose I never shall, for I find Glover's Leonidas is one of the things he admires—and so I leave them to be forgotten together, Fortunati Ambo!
I sent your letter to Ducarel, who has promised me those poems—I accepted the promise to get rid of him t'other day, when he would have talked me to death.
(214) A distinguished antiquary, better known by the assistance he gave to others than by publications of his own. He was vicar of Burnham, in the county of Bucks; and died December 16th, 1782, in his sixty-eighth year.-E.
Letter 113 To The Rev. Henry Zouch. Arlington Street, Feb. 13, 1762. (PAGE 171)
Sir, I should long ago have given myself the pleasure of writing to you, if I had not been constantly in hope of accompanying my letter with the Anecdotes of Painting, etc.; but the tediousness of engraving, and the roguery of a fourth printer, have delayed the publication week after week- for months: truly I do not believe that there is such a being as an honest printer in the world.
I Sent the books to Mr. Whiston, who, I think you told me, was employed by you: he answered, he knew nothing of the matter. Mr. Dodsley has undertaken now to convey them to you, and I beg your acceptance of them: it will be a very kind acceptance if you will tell me of any faults, blunders ,omissions, etc. as you observe them. In a first sketch of this nature, I cannot hope the work is any thing like complete. Excuse, Sir, the brevity Of this. I am much hurried at this instant of publication, and have barely time to assure you how truly I am your humble servant.
Letter 114To The Earl Of Bute.(215) Strawberry Hill, Feb. 15, 1762. (PAGE 171)
My lord, I am sensible how little time your lordship can have to throw away on reading idle letters of compliment; yet as it would be too great want of respect to your lordship, not to make some sort of reply to the note(216) you have done me the honour to send me, I thought I could couch what I have to say in fewer words by writing, than in troubling you with a visit, which might come unseasonably, and a letter you may read at any moment when you are most idle. I have already, my lord, detained you too long by sending you a book, which I could not flatter myself you would turn over in such a season of business: by the manner in 'Which you have considered it, you have shown me that your very minutes of amusement you try to turn to the advantage of your country. It was this pleasing prospect of patronage to the arts that tempted me to offer you my pebble towards the new structure. I am flattered that you have taken notice' of the only ambition I have: I should be more flattered if I could contribute to the smallest of your lordship's designs for illustrating Britain. The hint your lordship is so good as to give me for a work like Montfaucon's Monuments de la Monarchie Francaise, has long been a subject that I have wished to see executed, nor, in point of materials, do I think it would be a very difficult one. The chief impediment was the expense, too great for a private fortune. The extravagant prices extorted by English artists is a discouragement to all public undertakings. Drawings from paintings, tombs, etc. would be very dear. To have them engraved as they ought to be, would exceed the compass of a much ampler fortune than mine; which though equal to my largest wish, cannot measure itself with the rapacity of our performers.
But, my lord, if his Majesty was pleased to command such a work, on so laudable an idea as your lordship's, nobody would be more ready than myself to give his assistance. I own I think I could be of use in it, in collecting or pointing out materials, and I would readily take any trouble in aiding, supervising, or directing such a plan. Pardon me, my lord, if I offer no more; I mean, that I do not undertake the part of composition. I have already trespassed too much upon the indulgence of the public; I wish not to disgust them with hearing of me, and reading me. It is time for me to have done; and when I shall have completed, as I almost have, the History of the Arts on which I am now engaged, I did not purpose to tempt again the patience of mankind. But the case is very different with regard to my trouble. My whole fortune is from the bounty of the crown, and from the public: it would ill become me to spare any pains for the King's glory, or for the honour and satisfaction of my country; and give me leave to add, my lord, it would be an ungrateful return for the distinction with which your lordship has condescended to honour me if I withheld such trifling aid as mine, when it might in the least tend to adorn your lordship's administration. From me, my lord, permit me to say, these are not words of course or of compliment, this is not the language of flattery; your lordship knows I have no Views, perhaps knows that, insignificant as it is, my praise is never detached from my esteem: and when you have raised, as I trust you will, real monuments of glory, the most contemptible characters in the inscription dedicated by your country, may not be the testimony of, my lord, etc.(217)
(215) Now first collected.
(216) This letter is in reply to the following note, which Walpole had, a few days before, received from the Earl of Bute:— "Lord Bute presents his compliments to Mr. Walpole, and returns him a thousand thanks for the very agreeable present he has made him. In looking over it, Lord Bute observes Mr. Walpole has mixed several curious remarks on the customs, etc. of the times he treats of; a thing much wanted, and that has never yet been executed, except in parts, by Peck, etc. Such a general work would be not only very agreeable, but instructive: the French have attempted it; the Russians are about it; and Lord Bute has been informed Mr. Walpole is well furnished with materials for such a noble work."-E.
(217) The following passage, in a letter from Gray to Walpole, of the 28th of February, has reference to that work projected by Lord Bute:—"I rejoice in the good disposition of our court, and in the propriety of their application to you: the work is a thing so much to be wished; has so near a connexion with the turn of your studies and of your curiosity, and might find such ample materials among your hoards and in your head, that it will be a sin if you let it drop and come to nothing, or worse than nothing, for want of your assistance. The historical part should be in the manner of Herault, a mere abridgment; a series of facts selected with judgment, that may serve as a clue to lead the mind along in the midst of those ruins and scattered monuments of art that time has spared. This would be sufficient, and better than Montfaucon's more diffuse narrative." Works, vol. iii. p. 293. Before Walpole had received Gray's letter, he had already adopted the proposed method; a large memorandum book of his being extant, with this title page, Collections for a History of the Manners, Customs, Habits, Fashions, Ceremonies, etc. of England; begun February 21, 1762, by Horace Walpole." For a specimen of it, see his Works, vol. v. p. 400.-E.
Letter 115 To George Montagu, Esq. Arlington Street, Feb. 22, 1762. (PAGE 173)
My scolding does you so much good. that I will for the future lecture you for the most trifling peccadillo. You have written me a very entertaining letter, and wiped out several debts; not that I will forget one of them if you relapse.
As we have never had a rainbow to assure us that the world shall not be snowed to death, I thought last night was the general connixation. We had a tempest of wind and snow for two hours beyond any thing I remember: chairs were blown to pieces, the streets covered with tassels and glasses and tiles, and coaches and chariots were filled like reservoirs. Lady Raymond's house in Berkeley-square is totally unroofed; and Lord Robert Bertie, who is going to marry her, may descend into it like a Jupiter Pluvius. It is a week of wonders, and worthy the note of an almanack-maker. Miss Draycott, within two days of matrimony, has dismissed Mr. Beauclerc; but this is totally forgotten already in the amazement of a new elopement. In all your reading, true or false, have you ever heard of a young Earl, married to the most beautiful woman in the world, a lord of the bedchamber, a general officer, and with a great estate, quitting every thing, resigning wife and world, and embarking for life in a pacquetboat with a Miss? I fear your connexions will but too readily lead you to the name of the peer; it is Henry Earl of Pembroke,(218) the nymph Kitty Hunter. The town and Lady Pembroke were but too much witnesses to this intrigue, last Wednesday, at a great ball at Lord Middleton's. On Thursday they decamped. However, that the writer of their romance, or I, as he is a noble author, might not want materials, the Earl has left a bushel of letters behind him; to his mother, to Lord Bute, to Lord Ligonier, (the two last to resign his employments,) and to Mr. Stopford, whom he acquits of all privity to his design. In none he justifies himself, unless this is a justification, that having long tried in vain to make his wife hate and dislike him, he had no way left but this, and it is to be hoped will succeed; and then it may not be the worst event that could have happened to her. You may easily conceive the hubbub such an exploit must occasion. With ghosts, elopements, abortive motions, etc., we can amuse ourselves tolerably well, till the season arrives for taking the field and conquering the Spanish West Indies.
I have sent YOU my books by a messenger; Lord Barrington was so good as to charge himself with them. They barely saved their distance; a week later, and no soul could have read a line in them, unless I had changed the title-page, and called them the loves of the Earl of Pembroke and Miss Hunter.
I am sorry Lady Kingsland is so rich. However, if the Papists should be likely to rise, pray disarm her of the enamel, and commit it to safe custody in the round tower at Strawberry. Good night! mine is a life of letter-writing; I pray for a peace that I may sheath my Pen.
(218) Henry Herbert, tenth Earl of Pembroke, married, 13th March 1756, Lady Elizabeth Spencer, second daughter of Charles, third Duke of Marlborough, by whom he had a son, George, eleventh Earl, born 19th September 1759: and some years afterwards, when he ran away with her, which he actually did, after they had lived for some time separated, a daughter, born in 1773, who died in 1784, unmarried.
Letter 116 To Dr. Ducarel.(219) Feb. 24, 1762. (PAGE 174)
Sir, I am glad my books have at all amused you, and am much obliged to you for your notes and communications. Your thought of an English Montfaucon accords perfectly with a design I have long had of attempting something of that kind, in which too I have been lately encouraged; and therefore I will beg you at your leisure, as they shall occur, to make me little notes of customs, fashions, and portraits, relating to our history and manners. Your work on vicarages, I am persuaded, will be very useful, as every thing you undertake is, and curious.—After the medals I lent Mr. Perry, I have a little reason to take it ill, that he has entirely neglected me; he has published a number, and sent it to several persons,-and never to me.(220) I wanted to see him too, because I know of two very curious medals, which I could borrow for him. He does not deserve it at my hands, but I will not defraud the public of any thing valuable; and therefore, if he will call on me any morning, but a Sunday or Monday, between eleven and twelve, I will speak to him of them.—With regard to one or two of your remarks, I have not said that real lions were originally leopards. I have said that lions in arms, that is, painted lions, were leopards; and it is fact, and no inaccuracy. Paint a leopard yellow, and it becomes a lion.—YOU say, colours rightly prepared do not grow black. The art would be much obliged for such a preparation. I have not said that oil-colours would not endure with a glass; on the contrary, I believe they would last the longer.
I am much amazed at Vertue's blunder about my marriage of Henry VII.; and afterwards, he said, "Sykes, knowing how to give names to pictures to make them sell," called this the marriage of Henry VII.; and afterwards, he said, Sykes had the figures in an old picture of a church. He must have known little Indeed, Sir, if he had not known how to name a picture that he had painted on purpose that he might call it so! That Vertue, on the strictest examination, could not be convinced that the man was Henry VII., not being like any of his pictures. Unluckily, he is extremely like the shilling, which is much more authentic than any picture of Henry VII. But here Sykes seems to have been extremely deficient in his tricks. Did he order the figure to be painted like Henry VII., and yet could not get it painted like him, which was the easiest part of the task? Yet how came he to get the Queen painted like, whose representations are much scarcer than those of her husband? and how came Sykes to have pomegranates painted on her robe, only to puzzle the cause! It is not worth adding, that I should much sooner believe the church was painted to the figures, than the figures to the church. They are hard and antique: the church in a better style, and at least more fresh. If Vertue had made no better criticisms than these, I would never have taken so much trouble with his MS. Adieu!
(219) Librarian at Lambeth Palace, and a well-known antiquary. He died in 1785.
(220) A series of English Medals, by Francis Perry, 4to. with thirteen plates.
Letter 117 To George Montagu, Esq. Arlington Street, Feb. 25, 1762. (PAGE 175)
I sent you my gazette but two days ago; I now write to answer a kind long letter I have received from you since.
I have heard of my brother's play several years ago; but I never understood that it was completed, or more than a few detached scenes. What is become of Mr. Bentley's play and Mr. Bentley's epistle?
When I go to Strawberry, I will look for where Lord Cutts was buried; I think I can find it. I am disposed to prefer the younger picture of Madame Grammont by Lely; but I stumbled at the price; twelve guineas for a copy in enamel is very dear. Mrs. Vezey tells me, his originals cost sixteen, and are not so good as his copies. I will certainly have none of his originals. His, what is his name'! I would fain resist his copy; I would more fain excuse myself for having it. I say to myself, it Would be rude not to have it, now Lady Kingsland and Mr. Montagu have had so much trouble—well—"I think I must have it," as my Lady Wishfort says, "Why does not the fellow take me?" Do try if he will not take ten; remember it is the younger picture: and, oh! now you are remembering, don't forget all my prints and a book bound in vellum. There is-a thin folio too I want, called "Hibernica;"(221) it is a collection of curious papers, one a translation by Carew Earl of Totness: I had forgot that you have no books in Ireland; however, I must have this, and your pardon for all the trouble I give you.
No news yet of the runaways: but all that comes out antecedent to the escape, is more and more extraordinary and absurd. The day of the elopement he had invited his wife's family and other folk to dinner with her, but said he must himself dine at a tavern; but he dined privately in his own dressing-room, put on a sailor's habit, and black wig, that he had brought home with him in a bundle, and threatened the servants he would murder them if they mentioned it to his wife. He left a letter for her, which the Duke 'of Marlborough was afraid to deliver to her, and opened. It desired that she would not write to him, as it would make him completely mad. He desires the King would preserve his rank of major-general, as some time or other he may serve again. Here is an indifferent epigram made on the occasion: I send it to you, though I wonder any body could think it a subject to joke upon.
As Pembroke a horseman by most is accounted, 'Tis not strange that his lordship a Hunter has mounted.
Adieu! yours ever.
(221) Hibernica; or, some Ancient Pieces relating to Ireland," published at Dublin in 1757, by Walter Harris.-E.
Letter 118 To The Countess Of Ailesbury. Strawberry Hill, March 5, 1762. (PAGE 176)
Madam, one of your slaves, a fine young officer, brought me two days ago a very pretty medal from your ladyship. Amidst all your triumphs you do not, I see, forget your English friends, and it makes me extremely happy. He pleased me still more, by assuring me that you return to England when the campaign opens. I can pay this news by none so good as by telling you that we talk of nothing but peace. We are equally ready to give law to the world, or peace. MartiniCO has not made us intractable. We and the new Czar are the best sort of people upon earth: I am sure, Madam, you must adore him; he is ,,, to resign all his conquests, that you and Mr. Conway may be settled again at Park-place. My Lord Chesterfield, with the despondence of an old man and the wit of a young one, thinks the French and Spaniards must make some attempt upon these islands, and is frightened lest we should not be so well prepared to repel invasions as to make them: he says, "What will it avail us if we gain the whole world, and lose our own soul!"
I am here alone, Madam, and know nothing to tell you. I came from town on Saturday for the worst cold I ever had in my life, and, what I care less to own even to myself, a cough. I hope Lord Chesterfield will not speak more truth in what I have quoted, than in his assertion, that one need not cough if one did not please. It has pulled me extremely, and you may believe I do not look very plump, when I am more emaciated that usual. However, I have taken James's powder for four nights, and have found great benefit from it; and if Miss Conway does not come back with soixante et douze quartiers, and the hauteur of a landgravine, I think I shall still be able to run down the precipices at Park-place with her-This is to be understood, supposing that we have any summer. Yesterday was the first moment that did not feel like Thule: not a glimpse of spring or green, except a miserable almond tree, half opening one bud, like my Lord PowersCOurt'S eye.
It will be warmer, I hope, by the King's birthday, or the old ladies will catch their deaths. There is a court dress to be instituted—(to thin the drawing-rooms)—stiff-bodied gowns and bare shoulders. What dreadful discoveries will be made both on fat and lean! I recommend to you the idea of Mrs. Cavendish, when half-stark; and I might fill the rest of my paper with such images, but your imagination will supply them; and you shall excuse me, though I leave this a short letter: but I wrote merely to thank your ladyship for the medal, and, as you perceive, have very little to say, besides that known and lasting truth, how much I am Mr. Conway's and your ladyship's faithful humble servant.
Letter 119 To George Montagu, Esq. Arlington Street, March 9, 1762. (PAGE 177)
I am glad you have received my books safe, and are content with them. I have little idea of Mr. Bentley's; though his imagination is sufficiently Pindaric, nay obscure, his numbers are not apt to be so tuneful as to excuse his flights. He should always give his wit, both in verse and prose, to somebody else to make up. If any of his things are printed at Dublin, let me have them; I have no quarrel with his talents. Your cousin's behaviour has been handsome, and so was his speech, which is printed in our papers. Advice is arrived to-day, that our troops have made good their landing at Martinico; I don't know any of the incidents yet.
You ask me for an epitaph for Lord Cutts;(222) I scratched out the following lines last night as I was going to bed; if they are not good enough, pray don't take them: they were written in a minute, and you are under no obligation to like them.
Late does the muse approach to Cutts's grave, But ne'er the grateful muse forgets the brave; He gave her subjects for the immortal lyre, And sought in idle hours the tuneful choir; Skilful to mount by either path to fame, And dear to memory by a double name. Yet if ill known amid the Aonian groves, His shade a stranger and unnoticed roves, The dauntless chief a nobler band may join: They never die who conquer'd at the Boyne.
The last line intends to be popular in Ireland; but you must take care to be certain that he was at the battle of the Boyne; I conclude so; ind it should be specified the year, when you erect the monument-The latter lines mean to own his having been but a moderate poet, and to cover that mediocrity under his valour; all which is true. Make the sculptor observe the steps.
I have not been at Strawberry above a month, nor ever was so long absent - but the weather has been cruelly cold and disagreeable. We have not had a single dry week since the beginning of September; a great variety of weather, all bad. Adieu!
(222) John Lord Cutts, a soldier of most hardy bravery in King William's wars. He died at Dublin in 1707. Swift's epigram on a Salamander alluded to this lord, who was called by the Duke of Marlborough the Salamander, on account of his always being in the thickest of the fire. He published, in 1687, "Poetical Exercises, written upon several Occasions."-E.
Letter 120 To The Rev. Henry Zouch. Arlington Street, March 20, 1762. (PAGE 178)
I am glad you are pleased, Sir, with my "Anecdotes of Painting;" but I doubt you praise me too much: it was an easy task when I had the materials Collected. and I would not have the labours of forty years, which was Vertue's case, depreciated in compliment to the work of four months, which is almost my whole merit. Style is become, in a manner, a mechanical affair,—and if to much ancient lore our antiquaries would add a little modern reading, to polish their language and correct their prejudices, I do not see why books of antiquities should not be made as amusing as writings on any other subject. If Tom Herne had lived in the world, he might have writ an agreeable history of dancing; at least, I am sure that many modern volumes are read for no reason but for their being penned in the dialect of the age.
I am much beholden to you, dear Sir, for your remarks; they shall have their due place whenever the work proceeds to a second edition, for that the nature of it as a record will ensure to it. A few of your notes demand a present answer: the Bishop of Imola pronounced the nuptial benediction at the marriage of Henry VII., which made me suppose him the person represented.(223)
Burnet, who was more a judge of characters than statues, mentions the resemblance between Tiberius and Charles II.; but, as far as countenances went, there could not be a more ridiculous prepossession; Charles had a long face, with very strong lines, and a narrowish brow; Tiberius a very square face, and flat forehead, with features rather delicate in proportion. I have examined this imaginary likeness, and see no kind of foundation for it. It is like Mr. Addison's travels, of which it was so truly said, he might have composed them without stirring out of England. There are a kind of naturalists who have sorted out the qualities of the mind, and allotted particular turns of features and complexions to them. It would be much easier to prove that every form has been endowed with every vice. One has heard much of the vigour of Burnet himself; yet I dare to say, he did not think himself like to Charles II.
I am grieved, Sir, to hear that your eyes suffer; take care of them; nothing can replace the satisfaction they afford: one should hoard them, as the only friend that will not be tired of one when one grows old, and when one should least choose to depend on others for entertainment. I most sincerely wish you happiness and health in that and every other instance.
(223) In the picture by Mabuse of the marriage of Henry VII. Whatever was Mr. Zouch's correction (in which Mr. Walpole seems to acquiesce), no alteration seem,- to have been made in the passage about the Bishop of Imola. This curious picture is at Strawberry Hill, and should be in the Royal Collection.-C.
Letter 121 To George Montagu, Esq. Arlington Street, March 22, 1762. (PAGE 179)
You may fancy what you -will, but the eyes of all the world are not fixed upon Ireland. Because you have a little virtue, and a lord-lieutenant(224) that refuses four thousand pounds a-year, and a chaplain(225) of a lord-lieutenant that declines a huge bishopric, and a secretary(226) whose eloquence can convince a nation of blunderers, you imagine that nothing is talked of but the castle of Dublin. In the first place, virtue may sound its own praises, but it never is praised; and in the next place, there are other feats besides self-denials; and for eloquence, we overflow with it. Why, the single eloquence of Mr. Pitt, like an annihilated star, can shine many months after it has set. I tell you it has conquered Martinico.(227) If you will not believe me, read the Gazette; read Moncton's letter; there is more martial spirit in it than in half Thucydides, and in all the grand Cyrus. Do you think Demosthenes or Themistocles ever raised the Grecian stocks two per cent. in four-and-twenty hours? I shall burn all my Greek and Latin books; they are histories of little people. The Romans never conquered the world, till they had conquered three parts of it, and were three hundred years about it; we subdue the globe in three campaigns; and a globe, let me tell you, as big again as It was in their days. Perhaps you may think me proud; but you don't know that I had some share in the reduction of Martinico; the express was brought to my godson, Mr. Horatio Gates; and I have a very good precedent for attributing some of the glory to myself - I have by me a love-letter, written during my father's administration, by a journeyman tailor to my brother's second chambermaid; his offers Honourable; he proposed matrimony, and to better his terms, informed her of his pretensions to a place; they were founded on what he called, "some services to the government." As the nymph could not read, she carried the epistle to the housekeeper to be deciphered, by which means it came into my hands. I inquired what were the merits of Mr. Vice Crispin, was informed that he had made the suit of clothes for a figure of Lord Marr, that was burned after the rebellion. I hope now you don't hold me too presumptuous for pluming myself on the reduction of Martinico. However, I shall not aspire to a post, nor to marry my Lady Bute's Abigail. I only trust my services to you as a friend, and do not mean under your temperate administration to get the list of Irish pensions loaded with my name, though I am godfather to Mr. Horatio Gates.
The Duchess of Grafton and the English have been miraculously preserved at Rome by being at loo, instead of going to a great concert, where the palace fell in, and killed ten persons and wounded several others. I shall send orders to have an altar dedicated in the Capitol.
Pammio O. M. Capitolino Annam Ducisam de Grafton Merito Incolumem.
I tell you of it now, because I don't know whether it will be worth while to write another letter on purpose. Lord Albemarle takes up the victorious grenadiers at Martinico, and in six weeks will conquer the Havannah.- Adieu!
(224) The Irish House of Commons having voted an address to the King to increase the salary of the lord-lieutenant, the Earl of Halifax declined having any augmentation.
(225) Dr. Crane, chaplain to the Earl of Halifax, had refused the bishopric of Elphin.
(226) Single-speech Hamilton.
(227) Sir Richard Lyttelton, in a letter to Mr. Pitt, written from Rome on the 14th of April, says, " I cannot forbear congratulating you on the glorious conquest of Martinico, which, whatever effect it may have on England, astonishes all Europe, and fills every mouth with praise and commendation of the noble perseverance and superior ability of the planner of this great and decisive undertaking. His Holiness told Mr. Weld, that, were not the information such as left no possibility of its being doubted, the news of our success could not have been credited; and that so great was the national glory and reputation all over the world, that he esteemed it the highest honour to be born an Englishman. If this, sir, be the end of your administration, I shall only say finis coronet opus." Chatham Correspondence, vol. ii. p. 173-E.
Letter 122 To George Montagu, Esq. Arlington Street, April 29, 1762. (PAGE 180)
I am most absurdly glad to hear you are returned well and safe, of which I have at this moment received your account from Hankelow, where you talk of staying a week. However, not knowing the exact day of your departure, I direct this to Greatworth, that it may rather wait for you, than you for it, if it should go into Cheshire and not find you there. As I should ever be sorry to give you any pain, I hope I shall not be the first to tell you of the loss of poor Lady Charlotte Johnstone,(228) who, after a violent fever of less than a week, was brought to bed yesterday morning of a dead child, and died herself at four in the afternoon. I heartily condole with you, as I know your tenderness for all your family, and the regard you have for Colonel Johnstone. The time is wonderfully sickly; nothing but sore throats, colds, and fevers. I got rid of one of the worst of these disorders, attended with a violent cough, by only taking seven grains of James's powder for six nights. It was the first cough I ever had, and when coughs meet with so spare a body as mine, they are not apt to be so easily conquered. Take great care of yourself, and bring the fruits of your expedition in perfection to Strawberry. I shall be happy to see you there whenever you please. I have no immediate purpose of settling there yet, as they are laying floors, which is very noisy, and as it is uncertain when the Parliament will rise, but I would go there at any time to meet you. The town will empty instantly after the King's birthday; and consequently I shall then be less broken in upon, which I know you do not like. If, therefore, it suits you, any time you will name after the 5th of June will be equally agreeable; but sooner if you like it better.
We have little news at present, except a profusion of new peerages, but are likely I think to have much greater shortly. The ministers disagree, and quarrel with as much alacrity as ever; and the world expects a total rupture between Lord Bute and the late King's servants. This comedy has been so often represented, it scarce interests one, especially one who takes no part, and who is determined to have nothing to do with the world, but hearing and seeing the scenes it furnishes.
The new peers, I don't know their rank, scarce their titles, are Lord Wentworth and Sir William Courtenay, Viscounts; Lord Egmont, Lord Milton, Vernon of Sudbury, old Foxiane, Sir Edward Montagu, Barons; and Lady Caroline Fox, a Baroness; the Duke of Newcastle is created Lord Pelham, with an entail to Tommy Pelham; and Lord Brudenel is called to the House of lords, as Lord Montagu. The Duchess of Manchester was to have had the peerage alone, and wanted the latter title: her sister, very impertinently, I think, as being the younger, objected and wished her husband Marquis of Monthermer. This difference has been adjusted, by making Sir Edward Montagu Lord Beaulieu, and giving the title of the family to Lord Brudenel. With pardon of your Cu-blood, I hold, that Lord Cardigan makes a very trumpery figure by so meanly relinquishing all Brudenelhood. Adieu! let me know soon when you will keep your Strawberry tide.
P. S. Lord Anson is in a very bad way;(229) and Mr. Fox, I think, in not a much better.
(228) Sister of the Earl of Halifax.
(229) His lordship, who was at this time first lord of the admiralty, died on the 6th of June.-E.
Letter 123 To George Montagu, Esq. Arlington Street, May 14, 1762. (page 181)
It is very hard, when you can plunge over head and ears in Irish claret, and not have even your heel vulnerable by the gout, that such a Pythagorean as I am should yet be subject to it! It is not two years since I had it last, and here am I with My foot again upon cushions. But I will not complain; the pain is trifling, and does little more than prevent my frisking about. If I can bear the motion of the chariot, I shall drive to Strawberry tomorrow, for I had rather only look at verdure and hear my nightingales from the bow-window, than receive visits and listen to news. I can give you no certain satisfaction relative to the viceroy, your cousin. It is universally said that he has no mind to return to his dominions, and pretty much believed that he will succeed to Lord Egremont's seals, who will not detain them long from whoever is to be his successor.
I am sorry you have lost another Montagu, the Duke of Manchester.(230) Your cousin Guilford is among the competitors for chamberlain to the Queen. The Duke of Chandos, Lord Northumberland, and even the Duke of Kingston, are named as other candidates; but surely they will not turn the latter loose into another chamber of maids of honour! Lord Cantelupe has asked to rise from vice-chamberlain, but met with little encouragement. It is odd, that there are now seventeen English and Scotch dukes unmarried, and but seven out of twenty-seven have the garter. It is comfortable to me to have a prospect of seeing Mr. Conway soon; the ruling part of the administration are disposed to recall our troops front Germany. In the mean time our officers and their wives are embarked for Portugal-what must Europe think of us when we make wars and assemblies all over the world?
I have been for a few days this week at Lord Thomond's; by making a river-like piece of water, he has converted a very ugly spot into a tolerable one. As I was so near, I went to see Audley Inn(231) once more; but it is only the monument now of its former grandeur. The gallery is pulled down, and nothing remains but the great hall, and an apartment like a tower at each end. In the church I found, still existing and quite fresh, the escutcheon of the famous Countess of Essex and Somerset.
Adieu! I shall expect you with great pleasure the beginning of next month.
(230) Robert Montagu, third Duke of Manchester, lord-chamberlain to the Queen, died on the 10th of May.-E.
(231) In Essex; formerly the largest palace in England. It was built out of the ruins of a dissolved monastery, near Saffron Walden, by Thomas, second son of Thomas Duke of Norfolk, who married the only daughter and heir of Lord Audley, chancellor to King Henry VIII. This Thomas was summoned to parliament in Queen Elizabeth's time as Lord Audley of Walden, and was afterwards created Earl of Suffolk by James I., to whom he was lord chancellor and lord high treasurer. It was intended for a royal palace for that King, who, when it was finished, was invited to see it, and lodged there one night on his way to Newmarket; when, after having viewed it with astonishment, he was asked how he approved of it, he answered, "Very well; but troth, man, it is too much for a king, but it may do for a lord high treasurer;" and so left it upon the Earl's hands. It was afterwards purchased by Charles II.; but, as he had never been able to pay the purchase-money, it was restored to the family by William III.-E.
Letter 124 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. strawberry Hill, May 20, 1762. (page 183)
Dear Sir, You have sent me the most kind and obliging letter in the world, and I cannot sufficiently thank you for it; but I shall be very glad to have an opportunity of acknowledging it in person, by accepting the agreeable visit you are so good as to offer me, and for which I have long been impatient. I should name the earliest day possible; but besides having some visits to make, I think it will bi more pleasant to you a few weeks hence (I mean, any time in July,) when the works, with which I am finishing my house, will be more advanced, and the noisy part, as laying floors and fixing wainscots, at an end, and which now make me a deplorable litter. As you give me leave, I will send You notice.
I am glad my books amused you;(232) yet you, who are so much deeper an antiquarian, must have found more faults and emissions, I fear, than your politeness suffers you to reprehend; yet you will, I trust, be a little more severe. We both labour, I will not say for the public (for the public troubles its head very little about our labours),. but for the few of posterity that shall be curious; and therefore, for their sake, you must assist me in making my works as complete as possible. This sounds ungrateful, after all the trouble you have given yourself; but I say it to prove MY gratitude, and to show you how fond I am of being corrected.
For the faults of impression, they were owing to the knavery of a printer, who, when I had corrected the sheets, amused me with revised proofs, and never printed off the whole number, and then ran away. This accounts, too, for the difference of the ink in various sheets, and for some other blemishes; though there are still enough of my own, which I must not charge on others.
Ubaldini's book I have not, and shall be pleased to see it; but I cannot think of robbing your collection, and am amply obliged by the offer. The Anecdotes of Horatio Palavacini are extremely entertaining.
In an Itinerary of the late Mr. Smart Lethiullier, I met the very tomb of Gainsborough this winter that you mention; and, to be secure, sent to Lincoln for an exact draught of it. But what vexed me then, and does still, is, that by the defect at the end of the inscription, one cannot be certain whether he lived in CCC. or CCCC. as another C might have been there. Have you any corroborating circumstance, Sir, to affix his existence to 1300 more than 1400? Besides, I don't know any proof of his having been architect of the church: his epitaph only calls him Caementarius, which, I suppose, means mason.
I have observed, since my book was published, what you mention of the tapestry in Laud's trial; yet as the Journals were by authority, and certainly cannot be mistaken, I have concluded that Hollar engraved his print after the restoration. Mr. Wight, clerk of the House of Lords, says, that Oliver placed them in the House of Commons. I don't know on what grounds he says so. I am, Sir, with great gratitude, etc.
(232) Anecdotes of Painting.
Letter 125 To George Montagu, Esq. Strawberry Hill, May 25, 1762. (page 184)
I am diverted with your anger at old Richard. Can you really suppose that I think it any trouble to frank a few covers for you? Had I been with you, I should have cured you and your whole family in two nights with James's powder. If you have any remains of the disorder, let me beg you to take seven or eight grains when you go to bed: if you have none, shall I send you some? For my own part, I am released -again, though I have been tolerably bad, and one day had the gout for several hours in my head. I do not like such speedy returns. I have been so much confined that I could not wait on Mrs. Osborn, and I do not take it unkindly that she will not let me have the prints without fetching them. I met her, that is, passed her, t'other day as she was going to Bushy, and was sorry to see her look much older.
Well! tomorrow is fixed for that phenomenon, the Duke of Newcastle's resignation.(233) He has had a parting lev'ee; and as I suppose all bishops are prophets, they foresee that he will never come into place again, for there was but one that had the decency to take leave of him after crowding his rooms for forty years together; it was Cornwallis. I hear not even Lord Lincoln resigns. Lord Bute succeeds to the treasury, and is to have the garter too On Thursday with Prince William. Of your cousin I hear no more mention, but that he returns to his island. I cannot tell you exactly even the few changes that are to be made, but I can divert you with a bon-mot, which they give to my Lord Chesterfield. The new peerages being mentioned, somebody said, "I suppose there will be no duke made," he replied, "Oh yes, there is to be one."—"Is? who?"—"Lord Talbot: he is to be created Duke Humphrey, and there is to be no table kept at court but his." If you don't like this, what do you think of George Selwyn, who asked Charles Boone if it is true that he is going to be married to the fat rich Crawley? Boone denied it. "Lord!" said Selwyn, "I thought you were to be Patrick Fleming on the mountain, and that gold and silver you were counting!" * * * *
P.S. I cannot help telling you how comfortable the new disposition of the court is to me-, the King and Queen are settled for good and all at Buckingham-house, and are stripping the other palaces to furnish it. In short, they have already fetched pictures from Hampton Court, which indicates their never living there; consequently Strawberry Hill will remain in possession of its own tranquillity, and not become a cheesecake house to the palace. All I ask of Princes is, not to live within five miles of me.
(233) The Duke of Newcastle, finding himself, on the subject of a pecuniary aid to the King of Prussia, only supported in the council by the Duke of Devonshire and Lord Hardwicke, resigned on the 26th of May, and Lord Bute became prime minister.-E.
Letter 126 To George Montagu, Esq. Strawberry Hill, Wednesday night, June 1. (page 185)
Since you left Strawberry, the town (not the King of Prussia) has beaten Count Daun, and made the peace, but the benefits of either have not been felt beyond Change Alley. Lord Melcomb is dying(234) of a dropsy in his stomach,' and Lady Mary Wortley of a cancer in her breast.(235)
Mr. Hamilton was here last night, and complained of your not visiting him. He pumped me to know if Lord Hertford has not thoughts of the crown of Ireland, and was more than persuaded that I should go with him: I told him what was true, that I knew nothing of the former; and for the latter, that I would as soon return with the King of the Cherokees.(236) When England has nothing that can tempt me, it would be strange if Ireland had. The Cherokee Majesty dined here yesterday at Lord Macclesfield's, where the Clive sang to them and the mob; don't imagine I was there, but I heard so at my Lady Suffolk's.
We have tapped a little butt of rain to-night, but my lawn is far from being drunk yet. Did not you find the Vine in great beauty? My compliments to it, and to your society. I only write to enclose the enclosed. I have consigned your button to old Richard. Adieu!
(234) Lord Melcombe died on the 28th of July: upon which event the title became extinct.-E.
(235) Lady Mary Wortley Montagu died on the 21st August, in the seventy-third year of her age.-E.
(236) Three Cherokee Indian chiefs arrived this month in London, from South Carolina, and became the lions of the day.-E.
Letter 127 To George Montagu, Esq. Strawberry Hill, June 8, 1762. (page 185)
Well, you have had Mr. Chute. I did not dare to announce him to you, for he insisted on enjoying all your ejaculations. He gives me a good account of your health and spirits, but does not say when you come hither. I hope the General, as well as your brother John, know how welcome they would be, if they would accompany you. I trust it will be before the end of this month, for the very beginning of July I am to make a little visit to Lord Ilchester, in Somersetshire, and I should not like not to see you before the middle or end of next month.
Mrs. Osborn has sent me the prints; they are woful; but that is my fault and the engraver's, not yours, to whom I am equally obliged; you don't tell me whether Mr. Bentley's play was acted or not, printed or not.
There is another of the Queen's brothers come over. Lady Northumberland made a pompous festino for him t'other night; not only the whole house, but the garden, was illuminated, and was quite a fairy scene. Arches and pyramids of lights alternately surrounded the enclosure; a diamond necklace of lamps edged the rails and descent, with a spiral obelisk of candles on each hand; and dispersed over the lawn were little bands of kettle-drums, clarionets, flutes, etc., and the lovely moon, who came without a card. The birthday was far from being such a show; empty and unfine as possible. In truth, popularity does not make great promises to the new administration, and for fear it should hereafter be taxed with changing sides, it lets Lord Bute be abused every day, though he has not had time to do the least wrong. His first levee was crowded. Bothmer, the Danish minister, said, "La chaleur est excessive!" George Selwyn replied, "Pour se mettre au froid, il faut aller chez Monsieur le Duc de Newcastle!" There was another George not quite SO tender. George Brudenel was passing by; somebody in the mob said, "What is the matter here?" Brudenel answered, "Why, there is a Scotchman got into the treasury, and they can't get him out." The Archbishop, conscious of not having been at Newcastle's last levee, and ashamed of appearing at Lord Bute's, first pretended he had been going by in his way from Lambeth, and, Upon inquiry, found it was Lord Bute's levee, and so had thought he might as well go in-I am glad he thought he might as well tell it.
The mob call Buckingham-house, Holyrood-house; in short, every thing promises to be like times I can remember. Lord Anson is dead; poor Mrs. Osborn will not break her heart; I should think Lord Melcomb will succeed to the admiralty. Adieu!
Letter 128 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Strawberry Hill, July 29, 1762. (page 186)
Sir, I fear you will have thought me neglectful of the visit you was so good as to offer me for a day or two at this place; the truth is, I have been in Somersetshire on a visit, which was protracted much longer than I intended. I am now returned, and shall be glad to see you as soon as you please, Sunday or Monday next, if you like either, or any other day you will name. I cannot defer the pleasure of seeing you any longer, though to my mortification you will find Strawberry Hill with its worst looks-not a blade of grass! My workmen too have disappointed me; they have been in the association for forcing their masters to raise their wages, and but two are yet returned—so you must excuse litter and shavings.
Letter 129 To The Countess Of Ailesbury. Strawberry Hill, July 31, 1762 (page 187)
Madam, Magnanimous as the fair soul of your ladyship is, and plaited with superabundanCe of Spartan fortitude, I felicitate my own good fortune who can circle this epistle with branches of the gentle olive, as well as crown it with victorious laurel. This pompous paragraph, Madam, which in compliment to my Lady Lyttelton I have penned in the style of her lord, means no more, them that I wish you joy of the castle of Waldeck,(237) and more joy on the peace, which I find every body thinks is concluded. In truth, I have still my doubts; and yesterday came news, which, if my Lord Bute does not make haste, may throw a little rub in the way. In short, the Czar is dethroned. Some give the honour to his wife; others, who add the little circumstance of his being murdered too, ascribe the revolution to the Archbishop of Novogorod, who, like other priests, thinks assassination a less affront to Heaven than three Lutheran churches. I hope the latter is the truth; because, in the honeymoonhood of Lady Cecilia's tenderness, I don't know but she might miscarry at the thought of a wife preferring a crown, and scandal says a regiment of grenadiers, to her husband.
I have a little meaning in naming Lady Lyttelton and Lady Cecilia, who I think are at Park-place. Was not there a promise that you all three would meet Mr. Churchill and Lady Mary here in the beginning of August! Yes, indeed was there, and I put in my claim. Not confining your heroic and musical ladyships to a day or a week; my time is at your command: and I wish the rain was at mine; for, if you or it do not come soon, I shall not have a leaf left. Strawberry is browner than Lady Bell Finch.
I was grieved, Madam, to miss seeing you in town on Monday, particularly as I wished to settle this party. If you will let me know when it will be your pleasure, I will write to my sister.
(237) At the taking of which Mr. Conway had assisted.
Letter 130 To The Earl Of Strafford. Strawberry Hill, August 5, 1762. (page 187)
My dear lord, As you have correspondents of better authority in town, I don't pretend to send you great events, and I know no small ones. Nobody talks of any thing under a revolution. That in Russia alarms me,.lest Lady Mary should fall in love with the Czarina, who has deposed her Lord Coke, and set out for Petersburgh. We throw away a whole summer in writing Britons and North Britons; the Russians change sovereigns faster than Mr. Wilkes can choose a motto for a paper. What years were spent here in controversy on the abdication of King James, and the legitimacy of the Pretender! Commend me to the Czarina. They doubted, that is, her husband did, whether her children were of genuine blood-royal. She appealed to the Preobazinski guards, excellent casuists; and, to prove Duke Paul heir to the crown, assumed it herself. The proof was compendious and unanswerable.
I trust you know that Mr. Conway has made a figure by taking the castle of Waldeck. There has been another action to Prince Ferdinand's advantage, but no English were engaged.
You tantalize me by talking of the verdure of Yorkshire; we have not had a teacupfull of rain till to-day for these six weeks. Corn has been reaped that never wet its lips; not a blade of grass; the leaves yellow and falling as in the end of October. In short, Twickenham is rueful; I don't believe Westphalia looks more barren. Nay, we are forced to fortify ourselves too. Hanworth was broken open last night, though the family was all there. Lord Vere lost a silver standish, an old watch, and his writing-box with fifty pounds in it. They broke it open in the park, but missed a diamond ring which was found, and the telescope, which by the weight of the case they had fancied full of money. Another house in the middle of Sunbury has had the same fate. I am mounting cannon on my battlements.
Your chateau, I hope, proceeds faster than mine. The carpenters are all associated for increase of wages; I have had but two men at work these five weeks. You know, to be sure, that Lady Mary Wortley cannot live. Adieu, my dear Lord!
Letter 131 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Strawberry Hill, August 5, 1762. (page 188)
Sir, As I had been dilatory in accepting your kind offer of coming hither, I proposed it as soon as I returned. As we are so burnt, and as my workmen have disappointed me, I am not quite sorry that I had not the pleasure of seeing you this week. Next week I am obliged to be in town on business. If you please, therefore, we will postpone our meeting till the first of September; by which time, I flatter myself we shall be green, and I shall be able to show you my additional apartment to more advantage. Unless you forbid me, I shall expect you, Sir, the very beginning of next month. In the mean time, I will only thank you for the obliging and curious notes you have sent me, which will make a great figure in my second edition.
Letter 132 To George Montagu, Esq. Strawberry Hill, August 10, 1762. (page 189)
I have received your letter from Greatworth since your return, but I do not find that you have got one, which I sent you to the Vine, enclosing one directed for you: Mr. Chute says you did mention hearing from me there. I left your button too in town with old Richard to be transmitted to you. Our drought continues, though we have had one handsome storm. I have been reading the story of Phaeton in the Metamorphoses; it is a picture of Twickenham. Ardet Athos, taurusque Cilix, etc.; Mount Richmond burns, parched is Petersham: Parnassusque biceps, dry is Pope's grot, the nymphs of Clievden are burning to blackmoors, their faces are already as glowing as a cinder, Cycnus is changed into a swan: quodque suo Tagus amne vehit, fluit ignibus aurum; my gold fishes are almost molten. Yet this conflagration is nothing to that in Russia; what do you say to a czarina mounting her horse, and marching at the head of fourteen thousand men, with a large train of artillery, to dethrone her husband? Yet she is not the only virago in that country; the conspiracy was conducted by the sister of the Czar's mistress, a heroine under twenty! They have no fewer than two czars now in coops-that is, supposing these gentle damsels have murdered neither of them. Turkey Will become a moderate government; one must travel to frozen climates if one chooses to see revolutions in perfection. Here's room for meditation even to madness:" the deposed Emperor possessed Muscovy, was heir to Sweden, and the true heir of Denmark; all the northern crowns centered in his person; one hopes he is in a dungeon, that is, one hopes he is not assassinated. You cannot crowd more matter into a lecture of morality, than is comprehended in those few words. This is the fourth czarina that you and I have seen: to be sure, as historians, we have not passed our time ill. Mrs. Anne Pitt, who, I suspect, envies the heroine of twenty a little, says, "The Czarina has only robbed Peter to pay Paul;" and I do not believe that her brother, Mr. William Pitt, feels very happy, that he cannot immediately despatch a squadron to the Baltic to reinstate the friend of' the King of Prussia. I cannot afford to live less than fifty years more; for so long, I suppose, at least, it will be before the court of Petersburgh will cease to produce amusing scenes. Think of old Count Biren, former master of that empire, returning to Siberia, and bowing to Bestucheff, whom he may meet on the road from thence. I interest myself now about nothing but Russia; Lord Bute must be sent to the Orcades before I shall ask a question in English politics; at least I shall expect that Mr. Pitt, at the head of the Preobazinski guards, will seize the person of the prime minister for giving up our conquests to the chief enemy of this nation.
My pen is in such a sublime humour, that it can scarce condescend to tell you that Sir Edward Deering is going to marry Polly Hart, Danvers's old mistress; and three more baronets, whose names nobody knows, but Collins, are treading in the same steps.
My compliments to the House of' Montagu-upon my word I congratulate the General and you, and your viceroy, that you escaped being deposed by the primate of Novogorod.
Letter 133 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Strawberry Hill, August 19, 1762. (page 190)
Sir, I am very sensible of the obligations I have to you and Mr. Masters, and ought to make separate acknowledgments to both; but, not knowing how to direct to him, I must hope that you will kindly be once more the channel of our correspondence; and that you will be so good as to convey to him an answer to what you communicated from him to me, and in particular my thanks for the most obliging offer he has made me of a picture of Henry VII.; of which I will by no means rob him. My view in publishing the Anecdotes was, to assist gentlemen in discovering the hands of pictures they possess: and I am sufficiently rewarded when that purpose is answered. If there is another edition, the mistake in the calculation of the tapestry shall be rectified, and any others, which any gentleman will be so good as to point out. With regard to the monument of Sir Nathaniel Bacon, Vertue certainly describes it as at Culford; and in looking Into the place to which I am referred, in Mr. Master's History of Corpus Christi College, I think he himself allows in the note, that there is such a monument at Culford. Of Sir Balthazar Gerber there are several different prints. Nich. Lanicre purchasing pictures at the King's sale, is undoubtedly a mistake for one of his brothers—I cannot tell now whether Vertue's mistake or my own. At Longleafe is a whole-length of Frances Duchess of Richmond, exactly such as Mr. Masters describes, but in oil. I have another whole-length of the same duchess, I believe by Mytins, but younger than that at Longleafe. But the best picture of her is in Wilson's life of King James, and very diverting indeed. I Will not trouble you, Sir, or Mr. Masters, with any more at present; but, repeating my thanks to both, will assure you that I am, etc.
Letter 134 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. Strawberry Hill, Sept. 9, 1762. (page 191)
Nondurn laurus erat, longoque decentia crine Tempera cingebat de qualibet arbore Phoebus.(238)
This is a hint to you, that Phoebus, who was certainly your superior, could take up with a chestnut garland, or any crown he found, you must have the humility to be content without laurels, when none are to be had: you have hurried far and near for them, and taken true pains to the last in that old nursery-garden Germany, and by the way have made me shudder with your last journal: but you must be easy with qu'alibet other arbore; you must come home to your own plantations. The Duke of Bedford is gone in a fury to make peace, for he cannot be even pacific with temper; and by this time I suppose the Duke de Nivernois is unpacking his portion of olive dans la rue de Suffolk-street. I say, I suppose- -for I do not, like my friends at Arthur's, whip into my postchaise to see every novelty. My two sovereigns, the Duchess of Grafton and Lady Mary Coke, are arrived, and yet I have seen neither Polly nor Lucy. The former, I hear, is entirely French; the latter as absolutely English.
Well! but if you insist on not doffing your cuirass, you may find an opportunity of wearing it. The storm thickens. The city of London are ready to hoist their standard; treason is the bon-ton at that end of the town; seditious papers pasted up at every corner: nay, my neighbourhood is not unfashionable; we have had them at Brentford and Kingston. The Peace is the cry; but to make weight, they throw in all the abusive ingredients they can collect. They talk of your friend the Duke of Devonshire's resigning; and, for the Duke of Newcastle, it puts him so much in mind of the end of Queen Anne's time, that I believe he hopes to be minister again for another forty years.