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The Entire PG Edition of Chesterfield's Letters to His Son by The Earl of Chesterfield

Part 12 out of 15

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is, easily attainable, and you will find it so. Have but ambition enough
passionately to desire the object, and spirit enough to use the means,
and I will be answerable for your success. When I was younger than you
are, I resolved within myself that I would in all events be a speaker in
parliament, and a good one too, if I could. I consequently never lost
sight of that object, and never neglected any of the means that I thought
led to it. I succeeded to a certain degree; and, I assure you, with
great ease, and without superior talents. Young people are very apt to
overrate both men and things, from not being enough acquainted with them.
In proportion as you come to know them better, you will value them less.
You will find that reason, which always ought to direct mankind, seldom
does; but that passions and weaknesses commonly usurp its seat, and rule
in its stead. You will find that the ablest have their weak sides too,
and are only comparatively able, with regard to the still weaker herd:
having fewer weaknesses themselves, they are able to avail themselves of
the innumerable ones of the generality of mankind: being more masters of
themselves, they become more easily masters of others. They address
themselves to their weaknesses, their senses, their passions; never to
their reason; and consequently seldom fail of success. But then analyze
those great, those governing, and, as the vulgar imagine, those perfect
characters, and you will find the great Brutus a thief in Macedonia, the
great Cardinal Richelieu a jealous poetaster, and the great Duke of
Marlborough a miser. Till you come to know mankind by your own
experience, I know no thing, nor no man, that can in the meantime bring
you so well acquainted with them as le Duc de la Rochefoucault: his
little book of "Maxims," which I would advise you to look into, for some
moments at least, every day of your life, is, I fear, too like, and too
exact a picture of human nature.

I own, it seems to degrade it; but yet my experience does not convince me
that it degrades it unjustly.

Now, to bring all this home to my first point. All these considerations
should not only invite you to attempt to make a figure in parliament, but
encourage you to hope that you shall succeed. To govern mankind, one
must not overrate them: and to please an audience, as a speaker, one must
not overvalue it. When I first came into the House of Commons, I
respected that assembly as a venerable one; and felt a certain awe upon
me, but, upon better acquaintance, that awe soon vanished; and I
discovered, that, of the five hundred and sixty, not above thirty could
understand reason, and that all the rest were 'peuple'; that those thirty
only required plain common sense, dressed up in good language; and that
all the others only required flowing and harmonious periods, whether they
conveyed any meaning or not; having ears to hear, but not sense enough to
judge. These considerations made me speak with little concern the first
time, with less the second, and with none at all the third. I gave
myself no further trouble about anything, except my elocution, and my
style; presuming, without much vanity, that I had common sense sufficient
not to talk nonsense. Fix these three truths strongly in your mind:
First, that it is absolutely necessary for you to speak in parliament;
secondly, that it only requires a little human attention, and no
supernatural gifts; and, thirdly, that you have all the reason in the
world to think that you shall speak well. When we meet, this shall be
the principal subject of our conversations; and, if you will follow my
advice, I will answer for your success.

Now from great things to little ones; the transition is to me easy,
because nothing seems little to me that can be of any use to you. I hope
you take great care of your mouth and teeth, and that you clean them well
every morning with a sponge and tepid water, with a few drops of
arquebusade water dropped into it; besides washing your mouth carefully
after every meal, I do insist upon your never using those sticks, or any
hard substance whatsoever, which always rub away the gums, and destroy
the varnish of the teeth. I speak this from woeful experience; for my
negligence of my teeth, when I was younger than you are, made them bad;
and afterward, my desire to have them look better, made me use sticks,
irons, etc., which totally destroyed them; so that I have not now above
six or seven left. I lost one this morning, which suggested this advice
to you.

I have received the tremendous wild boar, which your still more
tremendous arm slew in the immense deserts of the Palatinate; but have
not yet tasted of it, as it is hitherto above my low regimen. The late
King of Prussia, whenever he killed any number of wild boars, used to
oblige the Jews to buy them, at a high price, though they could eat none
of them; so they defrayed the expense of his hunting. His son has juster
rules of government, as the Code Frederick plainly shows.

I hope, that, by this time, you are as well 'ancre' at Berlin as you was
at Munich; but, if not, you are sure of being so at Dresden. Adieu.


LONDON, February 26, 1754.

MY DEAR FRIEND: I have received your letters of the 4th, from Munich,
and of the 11th from Ratisbon; but I have not received that of the 31st
January, to which you refer in the former. It is to this negligence and
uncertainty of the post, that you owe your accidents between Munich and
Ratisbon: for, had you received my letters regularly, you would have
received one from me before you left Munich, in which I advised you to
stay, since you were so well there. But, at all events, you were in the
wrong to set out from Munich in such weather and such roads; since you
could never imagine that I had set my heart so much upon your going to
Berlin, as to venture your being buried in the snow for it. Upon the
whole, considering all you are very well off. You do very well, in my
mind, to return to Munich, or at least to keep within the circle of
Munich, Ratisbon, and Manheim, till the weather and the roads are good:
stay at each or any of those places as long as ever you please; for I am
extremely indifferent about your going to Berlin.

As to our meeting, I will tell you my plan, and you may form your own
accordingly. I propose setting out from hence the last week in April,
then drinking the Aix-la-Chapelle waters for a week, and from thence
being at Spa about the 15th of May, where I shall stay two months at
most, and then return straight to England. As I both hope and believe
that there will be no mortal at Spa during my residence there, the
fashionable season not beginning till the middle of July, I would by no
means have you come there at first, to be locked up with me and some few
Capucins, for two months, in that miserable hole; but I would advise you
to stay where you like best, till about the first week in July, and then
to come and pick me up at Spa, or meet me upon the road at Liege or
Brussels. As for the intermediate time, should you be weary of Manheim
and Munich, you may, if you please, go to Dresden, to Sir Charles
Williams, who will be there before that time; or you may come for a month
or six weeks to The Hague; or, in short, go or stay wherever you like
best. So much for your motions.

As you have sent for all the letters directed to you at Berlin, you will
receive from thence volumes of mine, among which you will easily perceive
that some were calculated for a supposed perusal previous to your opening
them. I will not repeat anything contained in them, excepting that I
desire you will send me a warm and cordial letter of thanks for Mr.
Eliot; who has, in the most friendly manner imaginable, fixed you at his
own borough of Liskeard, where you will be elected jointly with him,
without the least opposition or difficulty. I will forward that letter
to him into Cornwall, where he now is.

Now that you are to be soon a man of business, I heartily wish that you
would immediately begin to be a man of method; nothing contributing more
to facilitate and dispatch business, than method and order. Have order
and method in your accounts, in your reading, in the allotment of your
time; in short, in everything. You cannot conceive how much time you
will save by it, nor how much better everything you do will be done. The
Duke of Marlborough did by no means spend, but he slatterned himself into
that immense debt, which is not yet near paid off. The hurry and
confusion of the Duke of Newcastle do not proceed from his business, but
from his want of method in it. Sir Robert Walpole, who had ten times the
business to do, was never seen in a hurry, because he always did it with
method. The head of a man who has business, and no method nor order, is
properly that 'rudis indigestaque moles quam dixere chaos'. As you must
be conscious that you are extremely negligent and slatternly, I hope you
will resolve not to be so for the future. Prevail with yourself, only to
observe good method and order for one fortnight; and I will venture to
assure you that you will never neglect them afterward, you will find such
conveniency and advantage arising from them. Method is the great
advantage that lawyers have over other people, in speaking in parliament;
for, as they must necessarily observe it in their pleadings in the courts
of justice, it becomes habitual to them everywhere else. Without making
you a compliment, I can tell you with pleasure, that order, method, and
more activity of mind, are all that you want, to make, some day or other,
a considerable figure in business. You have more useful knowledge, more
discernment of characters, and much more discretion, than is common at
your age; much more, I am sure, than I had at that age. Experience you
cannot yet have, and therefore trust in the meantime to mine. I am an
old traveler; am well acquainted with all the bye as well as the great
roads; I cannot misguide you from ignorance, and you are very sure I
shall not from design.

I can assure you, that you will have no opportunity of subscribing
yourself my Excellency's, etc. Retirement and quiet were my choice some
years ago, while I had all my senses, and health and spirits enough to
carry on business; but now that I have lost my hearing, and that I find
my constitution declining daily, they are become my necessary and only
refuge. I know myself (no common piece of knowledge, let me tell you),
I know what I can, what I cannot, and consequently what I ought to do.
I ought not, and therefore will not, return to business when I am much
less fit for it than I was when I quitted it. Still less will I go to
Ireland, where, from my deafness and infirmities, I must necessarily make
a different figure from that which I once made there. My pride would be
too much mortified by that difference. The two important senses of
seeing and hearing should not only be good, but quick, in business; and
the business of a Lord-lieutenant of Ireland (if he will do it himself)
requires both those senses in the highest perfection. It was the Duke of
Dorset's not doing the business himself, but giving it up to favorites,
that has occasioned all this confusion in Ireland; and it was my doing
the whole myself, without either Favorite, Minister, or Mistress, that
made my administration so smooth and quiet. I remember, when I named the
late Mr. Liddel for my Secretary, everybody was much surprised at it;
and some of my friends represented to me, that he was no man of business,
but only a very genteel, pretty young fellow; I assured them, and with
truth, that that was the very reason why I chose him; for that I was
resolved to do all the business myself, and without even the suspicion of
having a minister; which the Lord-lieutenant's Secretary, if he is a man
of business, is always supposed, and commonly with reason, to be.
Moreover, I look upon myself now to be emeritus in business, in which I
have been near forty years together; I give it up to you: apply yourself
to it, as I have done, for forty years, and then I consent to your
leaving it for a philosophical retirement among your friends and your
books. Statesmen and beauties are very rarely sensible of the gradations
of their decay; and, too often sanguinely hoping to shine on in their
meridian, often set with contempt and ridicule. I retired in time, 'uti
conviva satur'; or, as Pope says still better, ERE TITTERING YOUTH SHALL
SHOVE YOU FROM THE STAGE. My only remaining ambition is to be the
counsellor and minister of your rising ambition. Let me see my own youth
revived in you; let me be your Mentor, and, with your parts and
knowledge, I promise you, you shall go far. You must bring, on your
part, activity and attention; and I will point out to you the proper
objects for them. I own I fear but one thing for you, and that is what
one has generally the least reason to fear from one of your age; I mean
your laziness; which, if you indulge, will make you stagnate in a
contemptible obscurity all your life. It will hinder you from doing
anything that will deserve to be written, or from writing anything that
may deserve to be read; and yet one or other of those two objects should
be at least aimed at by every rational being.

I look upon indolence as a sort of SUICIDE; for the man is effectually
destroyed, though the appetites of the brute may survive. Business by no
means forbids pleasures; on the contrary, they reciprocally season each
other; and I will venture to affirm, that no man enjoys either in
perfection, that does not join both. They whet the desire for each
other. Use yourself, therefore, in time to be alert and diligent in your
little concerns; never procrastinate, never put off till to-morrow what
you can do to-day; and never do two things at a time; pursue your object,
be it what it will, steadily and indefatigably; and let any difficulties
(if surmountable) rather animate than slacken your endeavors.
Perseverance has surprising effects.

I wish you would use yourself to translate, every day, only three or four
lines, from any book, in any language, into the correctest and most
elegant English that you can think of; you cannot imagine how it will
insensibly form your style, and give you an habitual elegance; it would
not take you up a quarter of an hour in a day. This letter is so long,
that it will hardly leave you that quarter of an hour, the day you
receive it. So good-night.


LONDON, March 8, 1754

MY DEAR FRIEND: A great and unexpected event has lately happened in our
ministerial world. Mr. Pelham died last Monday of a fever and
mortification, occasioned by a general corruption of his whole mass of
blood, which had broke out into sores in his back. I regret him as an
old acquaintance, a pretty near relation, and a private man, with whom I
have lived many years in a social and friendly way. He meant well to the
public; and was incorrupt in a post where corruption is commonly
contagious. If he was no shining, enterprising minister, he was a safe
one, which I like better. Very shining ministers, like the sun, are apt
to scorch when they shine the brightest: in our constitution, I prefer
the milder light of a less glaring minister. His successor is not yet,
at least publicly, 'designatus'. You will easily suppose that many are
very willing, and very few able, to fill that post. Various persons are
talked of, by different people, for it, according as their interest
prompts them to wish, or their ignorance to conjecture. Mr. Fox is the
most talked of; he is strongly supported by the Duke of Cumberland. Mr.
Legge, the Solicitor-General, and Dr. Lee, are likewise all spoken of,
upon the foot of the Duke of Newcastle's, and the Chancellor's interest.
Should it be any one of the last three, I think no great alterations will
ensue; but should Mr. Fox prevail, it would, in my opinion, soon produce
changes by no means favorable to the Duke of Newcastle. In the meantime,
the wild conjectures of volunteer politicians, and the ridiculous
importance which, upon these occasions, blockheads always endeavor to
give themselves, by grave looks, significant shrugs, and insignificant
whispers, are very entertaining to a bystander, as, thank God, I now am.
One KNOWS SOMETHING, but is not yet at liberty to tell it; another has
heard something from a very good hand; a third congratulates himself upon
a certain degree of intimacy, which he has long had with everyone of the
candidates, though perhaps he has never spoken twice to anyone of them.
In short, in these sort of intervals, vanity, interest, and absurdity,
always display themselves in the most ridiculous light. One who has been
so long behind the scenes as I have is much more diverted with the
entertainment, than those can be who only see it from the pit and boxes.
I know the whole machinery of the interior, and can laugh the better at
the silly wonder and wild conjectures of the uninformed spectators.
This accident, I think, cannot in the least affect your election, which
is finally settled with your friend Mr. Eliot. For, let who will
prevail, I presume, he will consider me enough, not to overturn an
arrangement of that sort, in which he cannot possibly be personally
interested. So pray go on with your parliamentary preparations. Have
that object always in your view, and pursue it with attention.

I take it for granted that your late residence in Germany has made you as
perfect and correct in German, as you were before in French, at least it
is worth your while to be so; because it is worth every man's while to be
perfectly master of whatever language he may ever have occasion to speak.
A man is not himself, in a language which he does not thoroughly possess;
his thoughts are degraded, when inelegantly or imperfectly expressed; he
is cramped and confined, and consequently can never appear to advantage.
Examine and analyze those thoughts that strike you the most, either in
conversation or in books; and you will find that they owe at least half
their merit to the turn and expression of them. There is nothing truer
than that old saying, 'Nihil dictum quod non prins dictum'. It is only
the manner of saying or writing it that makes it appear new. Convince
yourself that manner is almost everything, in everything; and study it

I am this moment informed, and I believe truly, that Mr. Fox--[Henry
Fox, created Lord Holland, Baron of Foxley, in the year 1763]--is to
succeed Mr. Pelham as First Commissioner of the Treasury and Chancellor
of the Exchequer; and your friend, Mr. Yorke, of The Hague, to succeed
Mr. Fox as Secretary at War. I am not sorry for this promotion of Mr.
Fox, as I have always been upon civil terms with him, and found him ready
to do me any little services. He is frank and gentleman-like in his
manner: and, to a certain degree, I really believe will be your friend
upon my account; if you can afterward make him yours, upon your own, 'tan
mieux'. I have nothing more to say now but Adieu.


LONDON, March 15, 1754

MY DEAR FRIEND: We are here in the midst of a second winter; the cold is
more severe, and the snow deeper, than they were in the first.
I presume, your weather in Germany is not much more gentle and,
therefore, I hope that you are quietly and warmly fixed at some good
town: and will not risk a second burial in the snow, after your late
fortunate resurrection out of it. Your letters, I suppose, have not been
able to make their way through the ice; for I have received none from you
since that of the 12th of February, from Ratisbon. I am the more uneasy
at this state of ignorance, because I fear that you may have found some
subsequent inconveniences from your overturn, which you might not be
aware of at first.

The curtain of the political theatre was partly drawn up the day before
yesterday, and exhibited a scene which the public in general did not
expect; the Duke of Newcastle was declared First Lord Commissioner of the
Treasury, Mr. Fox Secretary of State in his room, and Mr. Henry Legge
Chancellor of the Exchequer: The employments of Treasurer of the Navy,
and Secretary at War, supposed to be vacant by the promotion of Mr. Fox
and Mr. Legge, were to be kept 'in petto' till the dissolution of this
parliament, which will probably be next week, to avoid the expense and
trouble of unnecessary re-elections; but it was generally supposed that
Colonel Yorke, of The Hague, was to succeed Mr. Fox; and George
Greenville, Mr. Legge. This scheme, had it taken place, you are, I
believe aware, was more a temporary expedient, for securing the elections
of the new parliament, and forming it, at its first meeting, to the
interests and the inclinations of the Duke of Newcastle and the
Chancellor, than a plan of administration either intended or wished to be
permanent. This scheme was disturbed yesterday: Mr. Fox, who had
sullenly accepted the seals the day before, more sullenly refused them
yesterday. His object was to be First Commissioner of the Treasury, and
Chancellor of the Exchequer, and consequently to have a share in the
election of the new parliament, and a much greater in the management of
it when chosen. This necessary consequence of his view defeated it; and
the Duke of Newcastle and the Chancellor chose to kick him upstairs into
the Secretaryship of State, rather than trust him with either the
election or the management of the new parliament. In this, considering
their respective situations, they certainly acted wisely; but whether Mr.
Fox has done so, or not, in refusing the seals, is a point which I cannot
determine. If he is, as I presume he is, animated with revenge, and I
believe would not be over scrupulous in the means of gratifying it, I
should have thought he could have done it better, as Secretary of State,
with constant admission into the closet, than as a private man at the
head of an opposition. But I see all these things at too great a
distance to be able to judge soundly of them. The true springs and
motives of political measures are confined within a very narrow circle,
and known to a very few; the good reasons alleged are seldom the true
ones: The public commonly judges, or rather guesses, wrong, and I am now
one of that public. I therefore recommend to you a prudent Pyrrhonism in
all matters of state, until you become one of the wheels of them
yourself, and consequently acquainted with the general motion, at least,
of the others; for as to all the minute and secret springs, that
contribute more or less to the whole machine, no man living ever knows
them all, not even he who has the principal direction of it. As in the
human body, there are innumerable little vessels and glands that have a
good deal to do, and yet escape the knowledge of the most skillful
anatomist; he will know more, indeed, than those who only see the
exterior of our bodies, but he will never know all. This bustle, and
these changes at court, far from having disturbed the quiet and security
of your election, have, if possible, rather confirmed them; for the Duke
of Newcastle (I must do him justice) has, in, the kindest manner
imaginable to you, wrote a letter to Mr. Eliot, to recommend to him the
utmost care of your election.

Though the plan of administration is thus unsettled, mine, for my travels
this summer, is finally settled; and I now communicate it to you that you
may form your own upon it. I propose being at Spa on the 10th or 12th of
May, and staying there till the 10th of July. As there will be no mortal
there during my stay, it would be both unpleasant and unprofitable to you
to be shut up tete-a-fete with me the whole time; I should therefore
think it best for you not to come to me there till the last week in June.
In the meantime, I suppose, that by the middle of April, you will think
that you have had enough of Manheim, Munich, or Ratisbon, and that
district. Where would you choose to go then? For I leave you absolutely
your choice. Would you go to Dresden for a month or six weeks? That is
a good deal out of your way, and I am not sure that Sir Charles will be
there by that time. Or would you rather take Bonn in your way, and pass
the time till we meet at The Hague? From Manheim you may have a great
many good letters of recommendation to the court of Bonn; which court,
and it's Elector, in one light or another, are worth your seeing.

From thence, your journey to The Hague will be but a short one; and you
would arrive there at that season of the year when The Hague is, in my
mind, the most agreeable, smiling scene in Europe; and from The Hague you
would have but three very easy days journey to me at Spa. Do as you
like; for, as I told you before, 'Ella e assolutamente padrone'. But
lest you should answer that you desire to be determined by me, I will
eventually tell you my opinion. I am rather inclined to the latter plan;
I mean that of your coming to Bonn, staying there according as you like
it, and then passing the remainder of your time, that is May and June, at
The Hague. Our connection and transactions with the, Republic of the
United Provinces are such, that you cannot be too well acquainted with
that constitution, and with those people. You have established good
acquaintances there, and you have been 'fetoie' round by the foreign
ministers; so that you will be there 'en pais connu'. Moreover, you have
not seen the Stadtholder, the 'Gouvernante', nor the court there, which
'a bon compte' should be seen. Upon the whole, then, you cannot, in my
opinion, pass the months of May and June more agreeably, or more
usefully, than at The Hague. But, however, if you have any other, plan
that you like better, pursue it: Only let me know what you intend to do,
and I shall most cheerfully agree to it.

The parliament will be dissolved in about ten days, and the writs for the
election of the new one issued out immediately afterward; so that, by the
end of next month, you may depend upon being 'Membre de la chambre
basse'; a title that sounds high in foreign countries, and perhaps higher
than it deserves. I hope you will add a better title to it in your own,
I mean that of a good speaker in parliament: you have, I am sure, all,
the materials necessary for it, if you will but put them together and
adorn them. I spoke in parliament the first month I was in it, and a
month before I was of age; and from the day I was elected, till the day
that I spoke. I am sure I thought nor dreamed of nothing but speaking.
The first time, to say the truth, I spoke very indifferently as to the
matter; but it passed tolerably, in favor of the spirit with which I
uttered it, and the words in which I had dressed it. I improved by
degrees, till at last it did tolerably well. The House, it must be
owned, is always extremely indulgent to the two or three first attempts
of a young speaker; and if they find any degree of common sense in what
he says, they make great allowances for his inexperience, and for the
concern which they suppose him to be under. I experienced that
indulgence; for had I not been a young member, I should certainly have
been, as I own I deserved, reprimanded by the House for some strong and
indiscreet things that I said. Adieu! It is indeed high time.


LONDON, March 26, 1754

MY DEAR FRIEND: Yesterday I received your letter of the 15th from
Manheim, where I find you have been received in the usual gracious
manner; which I hope you return in a GRACEFUL one. As this is a season
of great devotion and solemnity in all Catholic countries, pray inform
yourself of, and constantly attend to, all their silly and pompous church
ceremonies; one ought to know them. I am very glad that you wrote the
letter to Lord ------, which, in every different case that can possibly
be supposed, was, I am sure, both a decent and a prudent step. You will
find it very difficult, whenever we meet, to convince me that you could
have any good reasons for not doing it; for I will, for argument's sake,
suppose, what I cannot in reality believe, that he has both said and done
the worst he could, of and by you; What then? How will you help
yourself? Are you in a situation to hurt him? Certainly not; but he
certainly is in a situation to hurt you. Would you show a sullen,
pouting, impotent resentment? I hope not; leave that silly, unavailing
sort of resentment to women, and men like them, who are always guided by
humor, never by reason and prudence. That pettish, pouting conduct is a
great deal too young, and implies too little knowledge of the world, for
one who has seen so much of it as you have. Let this be one invariable
rule of your conduct,--Never to show the least symptom of resentment
which you cannot to a certain degree gratify; but always to smile, where
you cannot strike. There would be no living in courts, nor indeed in the
world if one could not conceal, and even dissemble, the just causes of
resentment, which one meets with every day in active and busy life.
Whoever cannot master his humor enough, 'pour faire bonne mine a mauvais
jeu', should leave the world, and retire to some hermitage, in an
unfrequented desert. By showing an unavailing and sullen resentment, you
authorize the resentment of those who can hurt you and whom you cannot
hurt; and give them that very pretense, which perhaps they wished for, of
breaking with, and injuring you; whereas the contrary behavior would lay
them under, the restraints of decency at least; and either shackle or
expose their malice. Besides, captiousness, sullenness, and pouting are
most exceedingly illiberal and vulgar. 'Un honnete homme ne les connoit

I am extremely glad to hear that you are soon to have Voltaire at
Manheim: immediately upon his arrival, pray make him a thousand
compliments from me. I admire him most exceedingly; and, whether as an
epic, dramatic, or lyric poet, or prose-writer, I think I justly apply to
him the 'Nil molitur inepte'. I long to read his own correct edition of
'Les Annales de l'Empire', of which the 'Abrege Chronologique de
l'Histoire Universelle', which I have read, is, I suppose, a stolen and
imperfect part; however, imperfect as it is, it has explained to me that
chaos of history, of seven hundred years more clearly than any other book
had done before. You judge very rightly that I love 'le style le r et
fleuri'. I do, and so does everybody who has any parts and taste. It
should, I confess, be more or less 'fleuri', according to the subject;
but at the same time I assert that there is no subject that may not
properly, and which ought not to be adorned, by a certain elegance and
beauty of style. What can be more adorned than Cicero's Philosophical
Works? What more than Plato's? It is their eloquence only that has
preserved and transmitted them down to us through so many centuries;
for the philosophy of them is wretched, and the reasoning part miserable.
But eloquence will always please, and has always pleased. Study it
therefore; make it the object of your thoughts and attention. Use
yourself to relate elegantly; that is a good step toward speaking well in
parliament. Take some political subject, turn it in your thoughts,
consider what may be said both for and against it, then put those
arguments into writing, in the most correct and elegant English you can.
For instance, a standing army, a place bill, etc.; as to the former,
consider, on one side, the dangers arising to a free country from a great
standing military force; on the other side, consider the necessity of a
force to repel force with. Examine whether a standing army, though in
itself an evil, may not, from circumstances, become a necessary evil,
and preventive of greater dangers. As to the latter, consider, how far
places may bias and warp the conduct of men, from the service of their
country, into an unwarrantable complaisance to the court; and, on the
other hand, consider whether they can be supposed to have that effect
upon the conduct of people of probity and property, who are more solidly
interested in the permanent good of their country, than they can be in an
uncertain and precarious employment. Seek for, and answer in your own
mind, all the arguments that can be urged on either side, and write them
down in an elegant style. This will prepare you for debating, and give.
you an habitual eloquence; for I would not give a farthing for a mere
holiday eloquence, displayed once or twice in a session, in a set
declamation, but I want an every-day, ready, and habitual eloquence, to
adorn extempore and debating speeches; to make business not only clear
but agreeable, and to please even those whom you cannot inform, and who
do not desire to be informed. All this you may acquire, and make
habitual to you, with as little trouble as it cost you to dance a minuet
as well as you do. You now dance it mechanically and well without
thinking of it.

I am surprised that you found but one letter for me at Manheim, for you
ought to have found four or five; there are as many lying for you at your
banker's at Berlin, which I wish you had, because I always endeavored to
put something into them, which, I hope, may be of use to you.

When we meet at Spa, next July, we must have a great many serious
conversations; in which I will pour out all my experience of the world,
and which, I hope, you will trust to, more than to your own young notions
of men and things. You will, in time, discover most of them to have been
erroneous; and, if you follow them long, you will perceive your error too
late; but if you will be led by a guide, who, you are sure, does not
mean to mislead you, you will unite two things, seldom united, in the
same person; the vivacity and spirit of youth, with the caution and
experience of age.

Last Saturday, Sir Thomas Robinson, who had been the King's Minister at
Vienna, was declared Secretary of State for the southern department, Lord
Holderness having taken the northern. Sir Thomas accepted it
unwillingly, and, as I hear, with a promise that he shall not keep it
long. Both his health and spirits are bad, two very disqualifying
circumstances for that employment; yours, I hope, will enable you, some
time or other, to go through with it. In all events, aim at it, and if
you fail or fall, let it at least be said of you, 'Magnis tamen excidit
ausis'. Adieu.


LONDON, April 5, 1754

MY DEAR FRIEND: I received yesterday your letter of the 20th March, from
Manheim, with the inclosed for Mr. Eliot; it was a very proper one, and I
have forwarded it to him by Mr. Harte, who sets out for Cornwall tomorrow

I am very glad that you use yourself to translations; and I do not care
of what, provided you study the correctness and elegance of your style.
The "Life of Sextus Quintus" is the best book of the innumerable books
written by Gregorio Leti, whom the Italians, very justly, call 'Leti caca
libro'. But I would rather that you chose some pieces of oratory for
your translations, whether ancient or modern, Latin or French, which
would give you a more oratorical train of thoughts and turn of
expression. In your letter to me you make use of two words, which though
true and correct English, are, however, from long disuse, become
inelegant, and seem now to be stiff, formal, and in some degree
scriptural; the first is the word NAMELY, which you introduce thus, YOU
SECURED. Instead of NAMELY, I would always use WHICH IS, or THAT IS,
that my-election is secured. The other word is, MINE OWN INCLINATIONS:
this is certainly correct before a subsequent word that begins with a
vowel; but it is too correct, and is now disused as too formal,
notwithstanding the hiatus occasioned by MY OWN. Every language has its
peculiarities; they are established by usage, and whether right or wrong,
they must be complied with. I could instance many very absurd ones in
different languages; but so authorized by the 'jus et norma loquendi',
that they must be submitted to. NAMELY, and TO WIT, are very good words
in themselves, and contribute to clearness more than the relatives which
we now substitute in their room; but, however, they cannot be used,
except in a sermon or some very grave and formal compositions. It is
with language as with manners they are both established by the usage of
people of fashion; it must be imitated, it must be complied with.
Singularity is only pardonable in old age and retirement; I may now be as
singular as I please, but you may not. We will, when we meet, discuss
these and many other points, provided you will give me attention and
credit; without both which it is to no purpose to advise either you or
anybody else.

I want to know your determination, where you intend to (if I may use that
expression) WHILE away your time till the last week in June, when we are
to meet at Spa; I continue rather in the opinion which I mentioned to you
formerly, in favor of The Hague; but however, I have not the least
objection to Dresden, or to any other place that you may like better.
If you prefer the Dutch scheme, you take Treves and Coblentz in your way,
as also Dusseldorp: all which places I think you have not yet seen. At
Manheim you may certainly get good letters of recommendation to the
courts of the two Electors of Treves and Cologne, whom you are yet
unacquainted with; and I should wish you to know them all; for, as I have
often told you, 'olim haec meminisse juvabit'. There is an utility in
having seen what other people have seen, and there is a justifiable pride
in having seen what others have not seen. In the former case, you are
equal to others; in the latter, superior. As your stay abroad will not
now be very long, pray, while it lasts, see everything and everybody you
can, and see them well, with care and attention. It is not to be
conceived of what advantage it is to anybody to have seen more things,
people, and countries, than other people in general have; it gives them a
credit, makes them referred to, and they become the objects of the
attention of the company. They are not out in any part of polite
conversation; they are acquainted with all the places, customs, courts,
and families that are likely to be mentioned; they are, as Monsieur de
Maupertuis justly observes, 'de tous les pays, comme les savans, sont de
tous les tems'. You have, fortunately, both those advantages: the only
remaining point is 'de savoir les faire valoir', for without that one may
as well not have them. Remember that very true maxim of La Bruyere's,
'Qu'on ne vaut dans se monde que ce qu'on veut valoir'. The knowledge of
the world will teach you to what degree you ought to show 'que vous
valez'. One must by no means, on one hand, be indifferent about it; as,
on the other, one must not display it with affectation, and in an
overbearing manner, but, of the two, it is better to show too much than
too little. Adieu.


BATH, November 27, 1754

MY DEAR FRIEND: I heartily congratulate you upon the loss of your
political maidenhead, of which I have received from others a very good
account. I hear that you were stopped for some time in your career; but
recovered breath, and finished it very well. I am not surprised, nor
indeed concerned, at your accident; for I remember the dreadful feeling
of that situation in myself; and as it must require a most uncommon share
of impudence to be unconcerned upon such an occasion, I am not sure that
I am not rather glad you stopped. You must therefore now think of
hardening yourself by degrees, by using yourself insensibly to the sound
of your own voice, and to the act (trifling as it seems) of rising up and
sitting down. Nothing will contribute so much to this as committee work
of elections at night, and of private bills in the morning. There,
asking short questions, moving for witnesses to be called in, and all
that kind of small ware, will soon fit you to set up for yourself. I am
told that you are much mortified at your accident, but without reason;
pray, let it rather be a spur than a curb to you. Persevere, and, depend
upon it, it will do well at last. When I say persevere, I do not mean
that you should speak every day, nor in every debate. Moreover, I would
not advise you to speak again upon public matters for some time, perhaps
a month or two; but I mean, never lose view of that great object; pursue
it with discretion, but pursue it always. 'Pelotez en attendant partie'.
You know I have always told you that speaking in public was but a knack,
which those who apply to the most will succeed in the best. Two old
members, very good judges, have sent me compliments upon this occasion;
and have assured me that they plainly find it will do; though they
perceived, from that natural confusion you were in, that you neither said
all, nor perhaps what you intended. Upon the whole, you have set out
very well, and have sufficient encouragement to go on. Attend;
therefore, assiduously, and observe carefully all that passes in the
House; for it is only knowledge and experience that can make a debater.
But if you still want comfort, Mrs.------- I hope, will administer it to
you; for, in my opinion she may, if she will, be very comfortable; and
with women, as with speaking in parliament, perseverance will most
certainly prevail sooner or later.

What little I have played for here, I have won; but that is very far from
the considerable sum which you heard of. I play every evening, from
seven till ten, at a crown whist party, merely to save my eyes from
reading or writing for three hours by candle-light. I propose being in
town the week after next, and hope to carry back with me much more health
than I brought down here. Good-night.

[Mr. Stanhope being returned to England, and seeing his father almost
every day, is the occasion of an interruption of two years in their


According as their interest prompts them to wish
Acquainted with books, and an absolute stranger to men
Affectation of singularity or superiority
All have senses to be gratified
Business by no means forbids pleasures
Clamorers triumph
Doing anything that will deserve to be written
Ears to hear, but not sense enough to judge
Good manners are the settled medium of social life
Good reasons alleged are seldom the true ones
Holiday eloquence
I know myself (no common piece of knowledge, let me tell you)
INTOLERATION in religious, and inhospitality in civil matters
Kick him upstairs
King Louis XIV
Look upon indolence as a sort of SUICIDE
Manner is almost everything, in everything
Many are very willing, and very few able
Perseverance has surprising effects
Pettish, pouting conduct is a great deal too young
Reason, which always ought to direct mankind, seldom does
Rendering Jews capable of being naturalized
Singularity is only pardonable in old age
Smile, where you cannot strike
To govern mankind, one must not overrate them
Too like, and too exact a picture of human nature
Vanity, interest, and absurdity, always display
Warm and young thanks, not old and cold ones
Writing anything that may deserve to be read
Young men are as apt to think themselves wise enough
Young people are very apt to overrate both men and things



on the Fine Art of becoming a


and a



BATH, November 15, 1756

MY DEAR FRIEND: I received yours yesterday morning together with the
Prussian, papers, which I have read with great attention. If courts
could blush, those of Vienna and Dresden ought, to have their false hoods
so publicly, and so undeniably exposed. The former will, I presume,
next year, employ an hundred thousand men, to answer the accusation;
and if the Empress of the two Russias is pleased to argue in the same
cogent manner, their logic will be too strong for all the King of
Prussia's rhetoric. I well remember the treaty so often referred to in
those pieces, between the two Empresses, in 1746. The King was strongly
pressed by the Empress Queen to accede to it. Wassenaer communicated it
to me for that purpose. I asked him if there were no secret articles;
suspecting that there were some, because the ostensible treaty was a mere
harmless, defensive one. He assured me that there were none. Upon which
I told him, that as the King had already defensive alliances with those
two Empresses, I did not see of what use his accession to this treaty,
if merely a defensive one, could be, either to himself or the other
contracting parties; but that, however, if it was only desired as an
indication of the King's good will, I would give him an act by which his
Majesty should accede to that treaty, as far, but no further, as at
present he stood engaged to the respective Empresses by the defensive
alliances subsisting with each. This offer by no means satisfied him;
which was a plain proof of the secret articles now brought to light, and
into which the court of Vienna hoped to draw us. I told Wassenaer so,
and after that I heard no more of his invitation.

I am still bewildered in the changes at Court, of which I find that all
the particulars are not yet fixed. Who would have thought, a year ago,
that Mr. Fox, the Chancellor, and the Duke of Newcastle, should all three
have quitted together? Nor can I yet account for it; explain it to me if
you can. I cannot see, neither, what the Duke of Devonshire and Fox,
whom I looked upon as intimately united, can have quarreled about, with
relation to the Treasury; inform me, if you know. I never doubted of the
prudent versatility of your Vicar of Bray: But I am surprised at O'Brien
Windham's going out of the Treasury, where I should have thought that the
interest of his brother-in-law, George Grenville, would have kept him.

Having found myself rather worse, these two or three last days, I was
obliged to take some ipecacuanha last night; and, what you will think
odd, for a vomit, I brought it all up again in about an hour, to my great
satisfaction and emolument, which is seldom the case in restitutions.

You did well to go to the Duke of Newcastle, who, I suppose, will have no
more levees; however, go from time to time, and leave your name at his
door, for you have obligations to him. Adieu.


BATH, December 14, 1756.

MY DEAR FRIEND: What can I say to you from this place, where EVERY DAY
IS STILL BUT AS THE FIRST, though by no means so agreeably passed, as
Anthony describes his to have been? The same nothings succeed one
another every day with me, as, regularly and uniformly as the hours of
the day. You will think this tiresome, and so it is; but how can I help
it? Cut off from society by my deafness, and dispirited by my ill
health, where could I be better? You will say, perhaps, where could you
be worse? Only in prison, or the galleys, I confess. However, I see a
period to my stay here; and I have fixed, in my own mind, a time for my
return to London; not invited there by either politics or pleasures, to
both which I am equally a stranger, but merely to be at home; which,
after all, according to the vulgar saying, is home, be it ever so homely.

The political settlement, as it is called, is, I find, by no means
settled; Mr. Fox, who took this place in his way to his brother's, where
he intended to pass a month, was stopped short by an express, which he
received from his connection, to come to town immediately; and
accordingly he set out from hence very early, two days ago. I had a very
long conversation with him, in which he was, seemingly at least, very
frank and communicative; but still I own myself in the dark. In those
matters, as in most others, half knowledge (and mine is at most that) is
more apt to lead one into error, than to carry one to truth; and our own
vanity contributes to the seduction. Our conjectures pass upon us for
truths; we will know what we do not know, and often, what we cannot know:
so mortifying to our pride is the bare suspicion of ignorance!

It has been reported here that the Empress of Russia is dying; this would
be a fortunate event indeed for the King of Prussia, and necessarily
produce the neutrality and inaction, at least, of that great power; which
would be a heavy weight taken out of the opposite scale to the King of
Prussia. The 'Augustissima' must, in that case, do all herself; for
though France will, no doubt, promise largely, it will, I believe,
perform but scantily; as it desires no better than that the different
powers of Germany should tear one another to pieces.

I hope you frequent all the courts: a man should make his face familiar
there. Long habit produces favor insensibly; and acquaintance often does
more than friendship, in that climate where 'les beaux sentimens' are not
the natural growth.

Adieu! I am going to the ball, to save my eyes from reading, and my mind
from thinking.



BATH, January 12, 1757

MY DEAR FRIEND: I waited quietly, to see when either your leisure, or
your inclinations, would al low you to honor me with a letter; and at
last I received one this morning, very near a fortnight after you went
from hence. You will say, that you had no news to write me; and that
probably may be true; but, without news, one has always something to say
to those with whom one desires to have anything to do.

Your observation is very just with regard to the King of Prussia, whom
the most august House of Austria would most unquestionably have poisoned
a century or two ago. But now that 'terras Astraea reliquit', kings and
princes die of natural deaths; even war is pusillanimously carried on in
this degenerate age; quarter is given; towns are taken, and the people
spared: even in a storm, a woman can hardly hope for the benefit of a
rape. Whereas (such was the humanity of former days) prisoners were
killed by thousands in cold blood, and the generous victors spared
neither man, woman, nor child. Heroic actions of this kind were
performed at the taking of Magdebourg. The King of Prussia is certainly
now in a situation that must soon decide his fate, and make him Caesar or
nothing. Notwithstanding the march of the Russians, his great danger,
in my mind, lies westward. I have no great notions of Apraxin's
abilities, and I believe many a Prussian colonel would out-general him.
But Brown, Piccolomini, Lucchese, and many other veteran officers in the
Austrian troops, are respectable enemies.

Mr. Pitt seems to me to have almost as many enemies to encounter as his
Prussian Majesty. The late Ministry, and the Duke's party, will,
I presume, unite against him and his Tory friends; and then quarrel among
themselves again. His best, if not his only chance of supporting himself
would be, if he had credit enough in the city, to hinder the advancing of
the money to any administration but his own; and I have met with some
people here who think that he has.

I have put off my journey from hence for a week, but no longer. I find
I still gain some strength and some flesh here, and therefore I will not
cut while the run is for me.

By a letter which I received this morning from Lady Allen, I observe that
you are extremely well with her; and it is well for you to be so, for she
is an excellent and warm puff.

'A propos' (an expression which is commonly used to introduce whatever is
unrelative to it) you should apply to some of Lord Holderness's people,
for the perusal of Mr. Cope's letters. It would not be refused you; and
the sooner you have them the better. I do not mean them as models for
your manner of writing, but as outlines of the matter you are to write

If you have not read Hume's "Essays" read them; they are four very small
volumes; I have just finished, and am extremely pleased with them. He
thinks impartially, deep, often new; and, in my mind, commonly just.


BLACKHEATH, September 17, 1757

MY DEAR FRIEND: Lord Holderness has been so kind as to communicate to me
all the letters which he has received from you hitherto, dated the 15th,
19th, 23d, and 26th August; and also a draught of that which he wrote to
you the 9th instant. I am very well pleased with all your letters; and,
what is better, I can tell you that the King is so too; and he said, but
three days ago, to Monsieur Munchausen, HE (meaning you) SETS OUT VERY
praise to flatter, and a hint to warn you. What Lord Holderness
recommends to you, being by the King's order, intimates also a degree of
approbation; for the BLACKER INK, AND THE LARGER CHARACTER, show, that
his Majesty, whose eyes are grown weaker, intends to read all your
letters himself. Therefore, pray do not neglect to get the blackest ink
you can; and to make your secretary enlarge his hand, though 'd'ailleurs'
it is a very good one.

Had I been to wish an advantageous situation for you, and a good debut in
it, I could not have wished you either better than both have hitherto
proved. The rest will depend entirely upon yourself; and I own I begin
to have much better hopes than I had; for I know, by my own experience,
that the more one works, the more willing one is to work. We are all,
more or less, 'des animaux d'habitude'. I remember very well, that when
was in business, I wrote four or five hours together every day, more
willingly than I should now half an hour; and this is most certain, that
when a man has applied himself to business half the day, the other half,
goes off the more cheerfully and agreeably. This I found so sensibly,
when I was at The Hague, that I never tasted company so well nor was so
good company myself, as at the suppers of my post days. I take Hamburg
now to be 'le centre du refuge Allemand'. If you have any Hanover
'refugies' among them, pray take care to be particularly attentive to
them. How do you like your house? Is it a convenient one? Have the
'Casserolles' been employed in it yet? You will find 'les petits soupers
fins' less expensive, and turn to better account, than large dinners for
great companies.

I hope you have written to the Duke of Newcastle; I take it for granted
that you have to all your brother ministers of the northern department.
For God's sake be diligent, alert, active, and indefatigable in your
business. You want nothing but labor and industry to be, one day,
whatever you please, in your own way.

We think and talk of nothing here but Brest, which is universally
supposed to be the object of our great expedition. A great and important
object it is. I suppose the affair must be brusque, or it will not do.
If we succeed, it will make France put some water to its wine. As for my
own private opinion, I own I rather wish than hope success. However,
should our expedition fail, 'Magnis tamen excidit ausis', and that will
be better than our late languid manner of making war.

To mention a person to you whom I am very indifferent about, I mean
myself, I vegetate still just as I did when we parted; but I think I
begin to be sensible of the autumn of the year; as well as of the autumn
of my own life. I feel an internal awkwardness, which, in about three
weeks, I shall carry with me to the Bath, where I hope to get rid of it,
as I did last year. The best cordial I could take, would be to hear,
from time to time, of your industry and diligence; for in that case I
should consequently hear of your success. Remember your own motto,
'Nullum numen abest si sit prudentia'. Nothing is truer. Yours.


BLACKHEATH, September 23, 1757

MY DEAR FRIEND: I received but the day before yesterday your letter of
the 3d, from the headquarters at Selsingen; and, by the way, it is but
the second that I have received from you since your arrival at Hamburg.
Whatever was the cause of your going to the army, I approve of the
effect; for I would have you, as much as possible, see everything that is
to be seen. That is the true useful knowledge, which informs and
improves us when we are young, and amuses us and others when we are old;
'Olim haec meminisse juvabit'. I could wish that you would (but I know
you will not) enter in a book, a short note only, of whatever you see or
hear, that is very remarkable: I do not mean a German ALBUM stuffed with
people's names, and Latin sentences; but I mean such a book, as, if you
do not keep now, thirty years hence you would give a great deal of money
to have kept. 'A propos de bottes', for I am told he always wears his;
was his Royal Highness very gracious to you, or not? I have my doubts
about it. The neutrality which he has concluded with Marechal de
Richelieu, will prevent that bloody battle which you expected; but what
the King of Prussia will say to it is another point. He was our only
ally; at present, probably we have not one in the world. If the King of
Prussia can get at Monsieur de Soubize's, and the Imperial army, before
other troops have joined them, I think he will beat them but what then?
He has three hundred thousand men to encounter afterward. He must
submit; but he may say with truth, 'Si Pergama dextra defendi
potuissent'. The late action between the Prussians and Russians has only
thinned the human species, without giving either party a victory; which
is plain by each party's claiming it. Upon my word, our species will pay
very dear for the quarrels and ambition of a few, and those by no means
the most valuable part of it. If the many were wiser than they are, the
few must be quieter, and would perhaps be juster and better than they

Hamburg, I find, swarms with Grafs, Graffins, Fursts, and Furstins,
Hocheits, and Durchlaugticheits. I am glad of it, for you must
necessarily be in the midst of them; and I am still more glad, that,
being in the midst of them, you must necessarily be under some constraint
of ceremony; a thing which you do not love, but which is, however, very

I desired you in my last, and I repeat it again in this, to give me an
account of your private and domestic life.

How do you pass your evenings? Have they, at Hamburg, what are called at
Paris 'des Maisons', where one goes without ceremony, sups or not, as one
pleases? Are you adopted in any society? Have you any rational brother
ministers, and which? What sort of things are your operas? In the
tender, I doubt they do not excel; for 'mein lieber schatz', and the
other tendernesses of the Teutonic language, would, in my mind, sound but
indifferently, set to soft music; for the bravura parts, I have a great
opinion of them; and 'das, der donner dich erschlage', must no doubt,
make a tremendously fine piece of 'recitativo', when uttered by an angry
hero, to the rumble of a whole orchestra, including drums, trumpets, and
French horns. Tell me your whole allotment of the day, in which I hope
four hours, at least, are sacred to writing; the others cannot be better
employed than in LIBERAL pleasures. In short, give me a full account of
yourself, in your un-ministerial character, your incognito, without your
'fiocchi'. I love to see those, in whom I interest myself, in their
undress, rather than in gala; I know them better so. I recommend to you,
'etiam atque etiam', method and order in everything you undertake. Do
you observe it in your accounts? If you do not, you will be a beggar,
though you were to receive the appointments of a Spanish Ambassador
extraordinary, which are a thousand pistoles a month; and in your
ministerial business, if you have no regular and stated hours for such
and such parts of it, you will be in the hurry and confusion of the Duke
of N-----, doing everything by halves, and nothing well, nor soon. I
suppose you 'have been feasted through the Corps diplomatique at Hamburg,
excepting Monsieur Champeaux; with whom, however, I hope you live
'poliment et galamment', at all third places.

Lord Loudon is much blamed here for his 'retraite des dix milles', for it
is said that he had above that number, and might consequently have acted
offensively, instead of retreating; especially as his retreat was
contrary to the unanimous opinion(as it is now said) of the council of
war. In our Ministry, I suppose, things go pretty quietly, for the D. of
N. has not plagued me these two months. When his Royal Highness comes
over, which I take it for granted he will do very soon, the great push
will, I presume, be made at his Grace and Mr. Pitt; but without effect if
they agree, as it is visibly their interest to do; and, in that case,
their parliamentary strength will support them against all attacks. You
may remember, I said at first, that the popularity would soon be on the
side of those who opposed the popular Militia Bill; and now it appears so
with a vengeance, in almost every county in England, by the tumults and
insurrections of the people, who swear that they will not be enlisted.
That silly scheme must therefore be dropped, as quietly as may be. Now
that I have told you all that I know, and almost all that I think, I wish
you a good supper and a good-night.


BLACKHEATH, September 30, 1757

MY DEAR FRIEND: I have so little to do, that I am surprised how I can
find time to write to you so often. Do not stare at the seeming paradox;
for it is an undoubted truth, that the less one has to do, the less
time one finds to do it in. One yawns, one procrastinates, one can do it
when one will, and therefore one seldom does it at all; whereas those who
have a great deal of business, must (to use a vulgar expression) buckle
to it; and then they always find time enough to do it in. I hope your
own experience has by this time convinced you of this truth.

I received your last of the 8th. It is now quite over with a very great
man, who will still be a very great man, though a very unfortunate one.
He has qualities of the mind that put him above the reach of these
misfortunes; and if reduced, as perhaps he may, to the 'marche' of
Brandenburg, he will always find in himself the comfort, and with all the
world the credit, of a philosopher, a legislator, a patron, and a
professor of arts and sciences. He will only lose the fame of a
conqueror; a cruel fame, that arises from the destruction of the human
species. Could it be any satisfaction to him to know, I could tell him,
that he is at this time the most popular man in this kingdom; the whole
nation being enraged at that neutrality which hastens and completes his
ruin. Between you and me, the King was not less enraged at it himself,
when he saw the terms of it; and it affected his health more than all
that had happened before. Indeed it seems to me a voluntary concession
of the very worst that could have happened in the worst event. We now
begin to think that our great and secret expedition is intended for
Martinico and St. Domingo; if that be true, and we succeed in the
attempt, we shall recover, and the French lose, one of the most valuable
branches of commerce--I mean sugar. The French now supply all the
foreign markets in Europe with that commodity; we only supply ourselves
with it. This would make us some amends for our ill luck, or ill conduct
in North America; where Lord Loudon, with twelve thousand men, thought
himself no match for the French with but seven; and Admiral Holborne,
with seventeen ships of the line, declined attacking the French, because
they had eighteen, and a greater weight of METAL, according to the new
sea-phrase, which was unknown to Blake. I hear that letters have been
sent to both with very severe reprimands. I am told, and I believe it is
true, that we are negotiating with the Corsican, I will not say rebels,
but asserters of their natural rights; to receive them, and whatever form
of government they think fit to establish, under our protection, upon
condition of their delivering up to us Port Ajaccio; which may be made so
strong and so good a one, as to be a full equivalent for the loss of Port
Mahon. This is, in my mind, a very good scheme; for though the Corsicans
are a parcel of cruel and perfidious rascals, they will in this case be
tied down to us by their own interest and their own danger; a solid
security with knaves, though none with fools. His Royal Highness the
Duke is hourly expected here: his arrival will make some bustle; for I
believe it is certain that he is resolved to make a push at the Duke of
N., Pitt and Co.; but it will be ineffectual, if they continue to agree,
as, to my CERTAIN KNOWLEDGE, they do at present. This parliament is
theirs, 'caetera quis nescit'?

Now that I have told you all that I know or have heard, of public
matters, let us talk of private ones that more nearly and immediately
concern us. Admit me to your fire-side, in your little room; and as you
would converse with me there, write to me for the future from thence.
Are you completely 'nippe' yet? Have you formed what the world calls
connections? that is, a certain number of acquaintances whom, from
accident or choice, you frequent more than others: Have you either fine
or well-bred women there? 'Y a-t-il quelque bon ton'? All fat and fair,
I presume; too proud and too cold to make advances, but, at the same
time, too well-bred and too warm to reject them, when made by 'un honnete
homme avec des manieres'.

Mr. ------ is to be married, in about a month, to Miss ------. I am very
glad of it; for, as he will never be a man of the world, but will always
lead a domestic and retired life, she seems to have been made on purpose
for him. Her natural turn is as grave and domestic as his; and she seems
to have been kept by her aunts 'a la grace', instead of being raised in a
hot bed, as most young ladies are of late. If, three weeks hence, you
write him a short compliment of congratulation upon the occasion, he, his
mother, and 'tutti quanti', would be extremely pleased with it. Those
attentions are always kindly taken, and cost one nothing but pen, ink,
and paper. I consider them as draughts upon good-breeding, where the
exchange is always greatly in favor of the drawer. 'A propos' of
exchange; I hope you have, with the help of your secretary, made yourself
correctly master of all that sort of knowledge--Course of Exchange,
'Agie, Banco, Reiche-Thalers', down to 'Marien Groschen'. It is very
little trouble to learn it; it is often of great use to know it. Good-
night, and God bless you!


BLACKHEATH, October 10, 1757

MY DEAR FRIEND: It is not without some difficulty that I snatch this
moment of leisure from my extreme idleness, to inform you of the present
lamentable and astonishing state of affairs here, which you would know
but imperfectly from the public papers, and but partially from your
private correspondents. 'Or sus' then--Our in vincible Armada, which
cost at least half a million, sailed, as you know, some weeks ago; the
object kept an inviolable secret: conjectures various, and expectations
great. Brest was perhaps to be taken; but Martinico and St. Domingo, at
least. When lo! the important island of Aix was taken without the least
resistance, seven hundred men made prisoners, and some pieces of cannon
carried off. From thence we sailed toward Rochfort, which it seems was
our main object; and consequently one should have supposed that we had
pilots on board who knew all the soundings and landing places there and
thereabouts: but no; for General M-----t asked the Admiral if he could
land him and the troops near Rochfort? The Admiral said, with great
ease. To which the General replied, but can you take us on board again?
To which the Admiral answered, that, like all naval operations, will
depend upon the wind. If so, said the General, I'll e'en go home again.
A Council of War was immediately called, where it was unanimously
resolved, that it was ADVISABLE to return; accordingly they are returned.
As the expectations of the whole nation had been raised to the highest
pitch, the universal disappointment and indignation have arisen in
proportion; and I question whether the ferment of men's minds was ever
greater. Suspicions, you may be sure, are various and endless, but the
most prevailing one is, that the tail of the Hanover neutrality, like
that of a comet, extended itself to Rochfort. What encourages this
suspicion is, that a French man of war went unmolested through our whole
fleet, as it lay near Rochfort. Haddock's whole story is revived;
Michel's representations are combined with other circumstances; and the
whole together makes up a mass of discontent, resentment, and even fury,
greater than perhaps was ever known in this country before. These are
the facts, draw your own conclusions from them; for my part, I am lost in
astonishment and conjectures, and do not know where to fix. My
experience has shown me, that many things which seem extremely probable
are not true: and many which seem highly improbable are true; so that I
will conclude this article, as Josephus does almost every article of his
PROPER. What a disgraceful year will this be in the annals of this
country! May its good genius, if ever it appears again, tear out those
sheets, thus stained and blotted by our ignominy!

Our domestic affairs are, as far as I know anything of them, in the same
situation as when I wrote to you last; but they will begin to be in
motion upon the approach of the session, and upon the return of the Duke,
whose arrival is most impatiently expected by the mob of London; though
not to strew flowers in his way.

I leave this place next Saturday, and London the Saturday following, to
be the next day at Bath. Adieu.


LONDON, October 17, 1757.

MY DEAR FRIEND: Your last, of the 30th past, was a very good letter; and
I will believe half of what you assure me, that you returned to the
Landgrave's civilities. I cannot possibly go farther than half, knowing
that you are not lavish of your words, especially in that species of
eloquence called the adulatory. Do not use too much discretion in
profiting of the Landgrave's naturalization of you; but go pretty often
and feed with him. Choose the company of your superiors, whenever you
can have it; that is the right and true pride. The mistaken and silly
pride is, to PRIMER among inferiors.

Hear, O Israel! and wonder. On Sunday morning last, the Duke gave up his
commission of Captain General and his regiment of guards. You will ask
me why? I cannot tell you, but I will tell you the causes assigned;
which, perhaps, are none of them the true ones. It is said that the King
reproached him with having exceeded his powers in making the Hanover
Convention, which his R. H. absolutely denied, and threw up thereupon.
This is certain, that he appeared at the drawing-room at Kensington, last
Sunday, after having quitted, and went straight to Windsor; where, his
people say, that he intends to reside quietly, and amuse himself as a
private man. But I conjecture that matters will soon be made up again,
and that he will resume his employments. You will easily imagine the
speculations this event has occasioned in the public; I shall neither
trouble you nor myself with relating them; nor would this sheet of paper,
or even a quire more, contain them. Some refine enough to suspect that
it is a concerted quarrel, to justify SOMEBODY TO SOMEBODY, with regard
to the Convention; but I do not believe it.

His R. H.'s people load the Hanover Ministers, and more particularly our
friend Munchausen here, with the whole blame; but with what degree of
truth I know not. This only is certain, that the whole negotiation of
that affair was broached and carried on by the Hanover Ministers and
Monsieur Stemberg at Vienna, absolutely unknown to the English Ministers,
till it was executed. This affair combined (for people will combine it)
with the astonishing return of our great armament, not only 're infecta',
but even 'intentata', makes such a jumble of reflections, conjectures,
and refinements, that one is weary of hearing them. Our Tacituses and
Machiavels go deep, suspect the worst, and, perhaps, as they often do,
overshoot the mark. For my own part, I fairly confess that I am
bewildered, and have not certain 'postulata' enough, not only to found
any opinion, but even to form conjectures upon: and this is the language
which I think you should hold to all who speak to you, as to be sure all
will, upon that subject. Plead, as you truly may, your own ignorance;
and say, that it is impossible to judge of those nice points, at such a
distance, and without knowing all circumstances, which you cannot be
supposed to do. And as to the Duke's resignation; you should, in my
opinion, say, that perhaps there might be a little too much vivacity in
the case, but that, upon the whole, you make no doubt of the thing's
being soon set right again; as, in truth, I dare say it will. Upon these
delicate occasions, you must practice the ministerial shrugs and
'persiflage'; for silent gesticulations, which you would be most inclined
to, would not be sufficient: something must be said, but that something,
when analyzed, must amount to nothing. As for instance, 'Il est vrai
qu'on s'y perd, mais que voulez-vous que je vous dise?--il y a bien du
pour et du contre; un petit Resident ne voit gueres le fond du sac.--Il
faut attendre.--Those sort of expletives are of infinite use; and nine
people in ten think they mean something. But to the Landgrave of Hesse I
think you would do well to say, in seeming confidence, that you have good
reason to believe that the principal objection of his Majesty to the
convention was that his Highness's interests, and the affair of his
troops, were not sufficiently considered in it. To the Prussian Minister
assert boldly that you know 'de science certaine', that the principal
object of his Majesty's and his British Ministry's intention is not only
to perform all their present engagements with his Master, but to take new
and stronger ones for his support; for this is true--AT LEAST AT PRESENT.

You did very well in inviting Comte Bothmar to dine with you. You see
how minutely I am informed of your proceedings, though not from yourself.

I go to Bath next Saturday; but direct your letters, as usual, to London.


BATH, October 26, 1757.

MY DEAR FRIEND: I arrived here safe, but far from sound, last Sunday.
I have consequently drunk these waters but three days, and yet I find
myself something better for them. The night before I left London. I was
for some hours at Newcastle House, where the letters, which came that
morning, lay upon the table: and his Grace singled out yours with great
approbation, and, at the same time, assured me of his Majesty's
approbation, too. To these two approbations I truly add my own, which,
'sans vanite', may perhaps be near as good as the other two. In that
letter you venture 'vos petits raisonnemens' very properly, and then as
properly make an excuse for doing so. Go on so, with diligence, and you
will be, what I began to despair of your ever being, SOMEBODY. I am
persuaded, if you would own the truth, that you feel yourself now much
better satisfied with yourself than you were while you did nothing.

Application to business, attended with approbation and success, flatters
and animates the mind: which, in idleness and inaction, stagnates and
putrefies. I could wish that every rational man would, every night when
he goes to bed, ask himself this question, What have I done to-day? Have
I done anything that can be of use to myself or others? Have I employed
my time, or have I squandered it? Have I lived out the day, or have I
dozed it away in sloth and laziness? A thinking being must be pleased or
confounded, according as he can answer himself these questions.
I observe that you are in the secret of what is intended, and what
Munchausen is gone to Stade to prepare; a bold and dangerous experiment
in my mind, and which may probably end in a second volume to the "History
of the Palatinate," in the last century. His Serene Highness of
Brunswick has, in my mind, played a prudent and saving game; and I am apt
to believe that the other Serene Highness, at Hamburg, is more likely to
follow his example than to embark in the great scheme.

I see no signs of the Duke's resuming his employments; but on the
contrary I am assured that his Majesty is coolly determined to do as well
as he can without him. The Duke of Devonshire and Fox have worked hard
to make up matters in the closet, but to no purpose. People's self-love
is very apt to make them think themselves more necessary than they are:
and I shrewdly suspect, that his Royal Highness has been the dupe of that
sentiment, and was taken at his word when he least suspected it; like my
predecessor, Lord Harrington, who when he went into the closet to resign
the seals, had them not about him: so sure he thought himself of being
pressed to keep them.

The whole talk of London, of this place, and of every place in the whole
kingdom, is of our great, expensive, and yet fruitless expedition; I have
seen an officer who was there, a very sensible and observing man: who
told me that had we attempted Rochfort, the day after we took the island
of Aix, our success had been infallible; but that, after we had sauntered
(God knows why) eight or ten days in the island, he thinks the attempt
would have been impracticable, because the French had in that time got
together all the troops in that neighborhood, to a very considerable
number. In short, there must have been some secret in that whole affair
that has not yet transpired; and I cannot help suspecting that it came
from Stade. WE had not been successful there; and perhaps WE were not
desirous that an expedition, in which WE had neither been concerned nor
consulted, should prove so; M----t was OUR creature, and a word to the
wise will sometimes go a great way. M----t is to have a public trial,
from which the public expects great discoveries--Not I.

Do you visit Soltikow, the Russian Minister, whose house, I am told, is
the great scene of pleasures at Hamburg? His mistress, I take for
granted, is by this time dead, and he wears some other body's shackles.
Her death comes with regard to the King of Prussia, 'comme la moutarde
apres diner'. I am curious to see what tyrant will succeed her, not by
divine, but by military right; for, barbarous as they are now, and still
more barbarous as they have been formerly, they have had very little
regard to the more barbarous notion of divine, indefeasible, hereditary

The Praetorian bands, that is, the guards, I presume, have been engaged
in the interests of the Imperial Prince; but still I think that little
John of Archangel will be heard upon this occasion, unless prevented by a
quieting draught of hemlock or nightshade; for I suppose they are not
arrived to the politer and genteeler poisons of Acqua Tufana,--[Acqua
Tufana, a Neapolitan slow poison, resembling clear water, and invented by
a woman at Naples, of the name of Tufana.]--sugar-plums, etc.

Lord Halifax has accepted his old employment, with the honorary addition
of the Cabinet Council. And so we heartily wish you a goodnight.


BATH, November 4, 1757

MY DEAR FRIEND: The Sons of Britain, like those of Noah, must cover
their parent's shame as well as they can; for to retrieve its honor is
now too late. One would really think that our ministers and generals
were all as drunk as the Patriarch was. However, in your situation, you
must not be Cham; but spread your cloak over our disgrace, as far as it
will go. M----t calls aloud for a public trial; and in that, and that
only, the public agree with him. There will certainly be one, but of
what kind is not yet fixed. Some are for a parliamentary inquiry, others
for a martial one; neither will, in my opinion, discover the true secret;
for a secret there most unquestionably is. Why we stayed six whole days
in the island of Aix, mortal cannot imagine; which time the French
employed, as it was obvious they would, in assembling their troops in the
neighborhood of Rochfort, and making our attempt then really
impracticable. The day after we had taken the island of Aix, your
friend, Colonel Wolf, publicly offered to do the business with five
hundred men and three ships only. In all these complicated political
machines there are so many wheels, that it is always difficult, and
sometimes im possible, to guess which of them gives direction to the
whole. Mr. Pitt is convinced that the principal wheels, or, if you will,
the spoke in his wheel, came from Stade. This is certain, at least that
M----t was the man of confidence with that person. Whatever be the truth
of the case, there is, to be sure, hitherto an 'hiatus valde deflendus'.

The meeting of the parliament will certainly be very numerous, were it
only from curiosity: but the majority on the side of the Court will,
I dare say, be a great one. The people of the late Captain-general,
however inclined to oppose, will be obliged to concur. Their
commissions, which they have no desire to lose, will make them tractable;
for those gentlemen, though all men of honor, are of Sosia's mind, 'que
le vrai Amphitrion est celui ou l'on dine'. The Tories and the city have
engaged to support Pitt; the Whigs, the Duke of Newcastle; the
independent and the impartial, as you well know, are not worth
mentioning. It is said that the Duke intends to bring the affair of his
Convention into parliament, for his own justification; I can hardly
believe it; as I cannot conceive that transactions so merely electoral
can be proper objects of inquiry or deliberation for a British
parliament; and, therefore, should such a motion be made, I presume it
will be immediately quashed. By the commission lately given to Sir John
Ligonier, of General and Commander-in-chief of all his Majesty's forces
in Great Britain, the door seems to be not only shut, but bolted, against
his Royal Highness's return; and I have good reason to be convinced that
that breach is irreparable. The reports of changes in the Ministry, I am
pretty sure, are idle and groundless. The Duke of Newcastle and Mr. Pitt
really agree very well; not, I presume, from any sentimental tenderness
for each other, but from a sense that it is their mutual interest: and,
as the late Captain-general's party is now out of the question, I do not
see what should produce the least change.

The visit made lately to Berlin was, I dare say, neither a friendly nor
an inoffensive one. The Austrians always leave behind them pretty
lasting monuments of their visits, or rather visitations: not so much, I
believe, from their thirst of glory, as from their hunger of prey.

This winter, I take for granted, must produce a piece of some kind or
another; a bad one for us, no doubt, and yet perhaps better than we
should get the year after. I suppose the King of Prussia is negotiating
with France, and endeavoring by those means to get out of the scrape with
the loss only of Silesia, and perhaps Halberstadt, by way of
indemnification to Saxony; and, considering all circumstances, he would
be well off upon those terms. But then how is Sweden to be satisfied?
Will the Russians restore Memel? Will France have been at all this
expense 'gratis'? Must there be no acquisition for them in Flanders?
I dare say they have stipulated something of that sort for themselves,
by the additional and secret treaty, which I know they made, last May,
with the Queen of Hungary. Must we give up whatever the French please to
desire in America, besides the cession of Minorca in perpetuity? I fear
we must, or else raise twelve millions more next year, to as little
purpose as we did this, and have consequently a worse peace afterward.
I turn my eyes away, as much as I can, from this miserable prospect;
but, as a citizen and member of society, it recurs to my imagination,
notwithstanding all my endeavors to banish it from my thoughts. I can do
myself nor my country no good; but I feel the wretched situation of both;
the state of the latter makes me better bear that of the former; and,
when I am called away from my station here, I shall think it rather (as
Cicero says of Crassus) 'mors donata quam vita erepta'.

I have often desired, but in vain, the favor of being admitted into your
private apartment at, Hamburg, and of being informed of your private life
there. Your mornings, I hope and believe, are employed in business; but
give me an account of the remainder of the day, which I suppose is, and
ought to be, appropriated to amusements and pleasures. In what houses
are you domestic? Who are so in yours? In short, let me in, and do not
be denied to me.

Here I am, as usual, seeing few people, and hearing fewer; drinking the
waters regularly to a minute, and am something the better for them.
I read a great deal, and vary occasionally my dead company. I converse
with grave folios in the morning, while my head is clearest and my
attention strongest: I take up less severe quartos after dinner; and at
night I choose the mixed company and amusing chit-chat of octavos and
duodecimos. 'Ye tire parti de tout ce gue je puis'; that is my
philosophy; and I mitigate, as much as I can, my physical ills by
diverting my attention to other objects.

Here is a report that Admiral Holborne's fleet is destroyed, in a manner,
by a storm: I hope it is not true, in the full extent of the report; but
I believe it has suffered. This would fill up the measure of our
misfortunes. Adieu.


BATH, November 20, 1757

MY DEAR FRIEND: I write to you now, because I love to write to you; and
hope that my letters are welcome to you; for otherwise I have very little
to inform you of. The King of Prussia's late victory you are better
informed, of than we are here. It has given infinite joy to the
unthinking public, who are not aware that it comes too late in the year
and too late in the war, to be attended with any very great consequences.
There are six or seven thousand of the human species less than there were
a month ago, and that seems to me to be all. However, I am glad of it,
upon account of the pleasure and the glory which it gives the King of
Prussia, to whom I wish well as a man, more than as a king. And surely
he is so great a man, that had he lived seventeen or eighteen hundred
years ago, and his life been transmitted to us in a language that we
could not very well understand--I mean either Greek or Latin--we should
have talked of him as we do now of your Alexanders, your Caesars, and
others; with whom, I believe, we have but a very slight acquaintance.
'Au reste', I do not see that his affairs are much mended by this
victory. The same combination of the great Powers of Europe against him
still subsists, and must at last prevail. I believe the French army will
melt away, as is usual, in Germany; but this army is extremely diminished
by battles, fatigues, and desertion: and he will find great difficulties
in recruiting it from his own already exhausted dominions. He must
therefore, and to be sure will, negotiate privately with the French,
and get better terms that way than he could any other.

The report of the three general officers, the Duke of Marlborough, Lord
George Sackville, and General Waldegrave, was laid before the King last
Saturday, after their having sat four days upon M----t's affair: nobody
yet knows what it is; but it is generally believed that M----t will be
brought to a court-martial. That you may not mistake this matter, as
MOST people here do, I must explain to you, that this examination before
the three above-mentioned general officers, was by no means a trial; but
only a previous inquiry into his conduct, to see whether there was, or
was not, cause to bring him to a regular trial before a court-martial.
The case is exactly parallel to that of a grand jury; who, upon a
previous and general examination, find, or do not find, a bill to bring
the matter before the petty jury; where the fact is finally tried. For
my own part, my opinion is fixed upon that affair: I am convinced that
the expedition was to be defeated; and nothing that can appear before a
court-martial can make me alter that opinion. I have been too long
acquainted with human nature to have great regard for human testimony;
and a very great degree of probability, supported by various concurrent
circumstances, conspiring in one point, will have much greater weight
with me, than human testimony upon oath, or even upon honor; both which I
have frequently seen considerably warped by private views.

The parliament, which now stands prorogued to the first of next month, it
is thought will be put off for some time longer, till we know in what
light to lay before it the state of our alliance with Prussia, since the
conclusion of the Hanover neutrality; which, if it did not quite break
it, made at least a great flaw in it.

The birth-day was neither fine nor crowded; and no wonder, since the King
was that day seventy-five. The old Court and the young one are much
better together since the Duke's retirement; and the King has presented
the Prince of Wales with a service of plate.

I am still UNWELL, though I drink these waters very regularly. I will
stay here at least six weeks longer; where I am much quieter than I
should be allowed to be in town. When things are in such a miserable
situation as they are at present, I desire neither to be concerned nor
consulted, still less quoted. Adieu!


BATH, November 26, 1757

MY DEAR FRIEND: I received by the last mail your short account of the
King of Prussia's victory; which victory, contrary to custom, turns out
more complete than it was at first reported to be. This appears by an
intercepted letter from Monsieur de St. Germain to Monsieur d'Affry, at
The Hague, in which he tells him, 'Cette arme est entierement fondue',
and lays the blame, very strongly, upon Monsieur de Soubize. But, be it
greater or be it less, I am glad of it; because the King of Prussia (whom
I honor and almost adore) I am sure is. Though 'd'ailleurs', between you
and me, 'ou est-ce que cela mene'? To nothing, while that formidable
union of three great Powers of Europe subsists against him, could that be
any way broken, something might be done; without which nothing can. I
take it for granted that the King of Prussia will do all he can to detach
France. Why should not we, on our part, try to detach Russia? At least,
in our present distress, 'omnia tentanda', and sometimes a lucky and
unexpected hit turns up. This thought came into my head this morning;
and I give it to you, not as a very probable scheme, but as a possible
one, and consequently worth trying. The year of the Russian subsidies
(nominally paid by the Court of Vienna, but really by France) is near
expired. The former probably cannot, and perhaps the latter will not,
renew them. The Court of Petersburg is beggarly, profuse, greedy, and by
no means scrupulous. Why should not we step in there, and out-bid them?
If we could, we buy a great army at once; which would give an entire new
turn to the affairs of that part of the world at least. And if we bid
handsomely, I do not believe the 'bonne foi' of that Court would stand in
the way. Both our Court and our parliament would, I am very sure, give a
very great sum, and very cheerfully, for this purpose. In the next
place, Why should not you wriggle yourself, if possible, into so great a
scheme? You are, no doubt, much acquainted with the Russian Resident,
Soltikow; Why should you not sound him, as entirely from yourself, upon
this subject? You may ask him, What, does your Court intend to go on
next year in the pay of France, to destroy the liberties of all Europe,
and throw universal monarchy into the hands of that already great and
always ambitious Power? I know you think, or at least call yourselves,
the allies of the Empress Queen; but is it not plain that she will be,
in the first place, and you in the next, the dupes of France? At this
very time you are doing the work of France and Sweden: and that for some
miserable subsidies, much inferior to those which I am sure you might
have, in a better cause, and more consistent with the true interest of
Russia. Though not empowered, I know the manner of thinking of my own
Court so well upon this subject, that I will venture to promise you much
better terms than those you have now, without the least apprehensions of
being disavowed. Should he listen to this, and what more may occur to
you to say upon this subject, and ask you, 'En ecrirai je d ma cour?
Answer him, 'Ecrivez, ecrivex, Monsieur hardiment'. Je prendrai tout
cela sur moi'. Should this happen, as perhaps, and as I heartily wish it
may, then write an exact relation of it to your own Court. Tell them
that you thought the measure of such great importance, that you could not
help taking this little step toward bringing it about; but that you
mentioned it only as from yourself, and that you have not in the least
committed them by it. If Soltikow lends himself in any degree to this,
insinuate that, in the present situation of affairs, and particularly of
the King's Electoral dominions, you are very sure that his Majesty would
have 'une reconnoissance sans bornes' for ALL those by whose means so
desirable a revival of an old and long friendship should be brought
about. You will perhaps tell me that, without doubt, Mr. Keith's
instructions are to the same effect: but I will answer you, that you can,
IF YOU PLEASE, do it better than Mr. Keith; and in the next place that,
be all that as it will, it must be very advantageous to you at home, to
show that you have at least a contriving head, and an alertness in

I had a letter by the last post, from the Duke of Newcastle, in which he
congratulates me, in his own name and in Lord Hardwicke's, upon the
approbation which your dispatches give, not only to them two, but to
OTHERS. This success, so early, should encourage your diligence and
rouse your ambition if you have any; you may go a great way, if you
desire it, having so much time before you.

I send you here inclosed the copy of the Report of the three general
officers, appointed to examine previously into the conduct of General
M----t; it is ill written, and ill spelled, but no matter; you will
decipher it. You will observe, by the tenor of it, that it points
strongly to a court-martial; which, no doubt, will soon be held upon him.
I presume there will be no shooting in the final sentence; but I do
suppose there will be breaking, etc.

I have had some severe returns of my old complaints last week, and am
still unwell; I cannot help it.

A friend of yours arrived here three days ago; she seems to me to be a
serviceable strong-bodied bay mare, with black mane and tail; you easily
guess who I mean. She is come with mamma, and without 'caro sposo'.

Adieu! my head will not let me go on longer.


BATH, December 31, 1757

MY DEAR FRIEND: I have this moment received your letter of the 18th, with
the inclosed papers. I cannot help observing that, till then, you never
acknowledged the receipt of any one of my letters.

I can easily conceive that party spirit, among your brother ministers at
Hamburg, runs as high as you represent it, because I can easily believe
the errors of the human mind; but at the same time I must observe, that
such a spirit is the spirit of little minds and subaltern ministers, who
think to atone by zeal for their want of merit and importance. The
political differences of the several courts should never influence the
personal behavior of their several ministers toward one another. There
is a certain 'procede noble et galant', which should always be observed
among the ministers of powers even at war with each other, which will
always turn out to the advantage of the ablest, who will in those
conversations find, or make, opportunities of throwing out, or of
receiving useful hints. When I was last at The Hague, we were at war
with both France and Spain; so that I could neither visit, nor be visited
by, the Ministers of those two Crowns; but we met every day, or dined at
third places, where we embraced as personal friends, and trifled, at the
same time, upon our being political enemies; and by this sort of badinage
I discovered some things which I wanted to know. There is not a more
prudent maxim than to live with one's enemies as if they may one day
become one's friends; as it commonly happens, sooner or later, in the
vicissitudes of political affairs.

To your question, which is a rational and prudent one, Whether I was
authorized to give you the hints concerning Russia by any people in power
here, I will tell you that I was not: but, as I had pressed them to try
what might be done with Russia, and got Mr. Keith to be dispatched there
some months sooner than otherwise, I dare say he would, with the proper
instructions for that purpose. I wished that, by the hints I gave you,
you might have got the start of him, and the merit, at least, of having
'entame' that matter with Soltikow. What you have to do with him now,
when you meet with him at any third place, or at his own house (where you
are at liberty to go, while Russia has a Minister in London, and we a
Minister at Petersburg), is, in my opinion, to say to him, in an easy
cheerful manner, 'He bien, Monsieur, je me flatte que nous serons bientot
amis publics, aussi bien qu'amis personels'. To which he will probably
ask, Why, or how? You will reply, Because you know that Mr. Keith is
gone to his Court with instructions, which you think must necessarily be
agreeable there. And throw out to him that nothing but a change of their
present system can save Livonia to Russia; for that he cannot suppose
that, when the Swedes shall have recovered Pomerania they will long leave
Russia in quiet possession of Livonia.

If he is so much a Frenchman as you say, he will make you some weak
answers to this; but, as you will have the better of the argument on your
side, you may remind him of the old and almost uninterrupted connection
between France and Sweden, the inveterate enemy of Russia. Many other
arguments will naturally occur to you in such a conversation, if you have
it. In this case, there is a piece of ministerial art, which is
sometimes of use; and that is, to sow jealousies among one's enemies, by
a seeming preference shown to some one of them. Monsieur Hecht's
reveries are reveries indeed. How should his Master have made the GOLDEN
ARRANGEMENTS which he talks of, and which are to be forged into shackles
for General Fermor? The Prussian finances are not in a condition now to
make such expensive arrangements. But I think you may tell Monsieur
Hecht, in confidence, that you hope the instructions with which you know
that Mr. Keith is gone to Petersburg, may have some effect upon the
measures of that Court.

I would advise you to live with that same Monsieur Hecht in all the
confidence, familiarity, and connection, which prudence will allow.
I mean it with regard to the King of Prussia himself, by whom I could
wish you to be known and esteemed as much as possible. It may be of use
to you some day or other. If man, courage, conduct, constancy, can get
the better of all the difficulties which the King of Prussia has to
struggle with, he will rise superior to them. But still, while his
alliance subsists against him, I dread 'les gros escadrons'. His last
victory, of the 5th, was certainly the completest that has been heard of
these many years. I heartily wish the Prince of Brunswick just such a
one over Monsieur de Richelieu's army; and that he may take my old
acquaintance the Marechal, and send him over here to polish and perfume

I heartily wish you, in the plain, home-spun style, a great number of
happy new years, well employed in forming both your mind and your
manners, to be useful and agreeable to yourself, your country, and your
friends! That these wishes are sincere, your secretary's brother will,
by the time of your receiving this, have remitted you a proof, from



LONDON, February 8, 1758.

MY DEAR FRIEND: I received by the same post your two letters of the 13th
and 17th past; and yesterday that of the 27th, with the Russian manifesto
inclosed, in which her Imperial Majesty of all the Russias has been
pleased to give every reason, except the true one, for the march of her
troops against the King of Prussia. The true one, I take it to be, that
she has just received a very great sum of money from France, or the
Empress queen, or both, for that purpose. 'Point d'argent, point de
Russe', is now become a maxim. Whatever may be the motive of their
march, the effects must be bad; and, according to my speculations, those
troops will replace the French in Hanover and Lower Saxony; and the
French will go and join the Austrian army. You ask me if I still
despond? Not so much as I did after the battle of Colen: the battles of
Rosbach and Lissa were drams to me, and gave me some momentary spirts:
but though I do not absolutely despair, I own I greatly distrust.
I readily allow the King of Prussia to be 'nec pluribus impar'; but
still, when the 'plures' amount to a certain degree of plurality, courage
and abilities must yield at last. Michel here assures me that he does
not mind the Russians; but, as I have it from the gentleman's own mouth,
I do not believe him. We shall very soon send a squadron to the Baltic
to entertain the Swedes; which I believe will put an end to their
operations in Pomerania; so that I have no great apprehensions from that
quarter; but Russia, I confess, sticks in my stomach.

Everything goes smoothly in parliament; the King of Prussia has united
all our parties in his support; and the Tories have declared that they
will give Mr. Pitt unlimited credit for this session; there has not been
one single division yet upon public points, and I believe will not. Our
American expedition is preparing to go soon; the dis position of that
affair seems to me a little extraordinary. Abercrombie is to be the
sedantary, and not the acting commander; Amherst, Lord Howe, and Wolfe,
are to be the acting, and I hope the active officers. I wish they may
agree. Amherst, who is the oldest officer, is under the influence of the
same great person who influenced Mordaunt, so much to honor and advantage
of this country. This is most certain, that we have force enough in
America to eat up the French alive in Canada, Quebec, and Louisburg, if
we have but skill and spirit enough to exert it properly; but of that I
am modest enough to doubt.

When you come to the egotism, which I have long desired you to come to
with me, you need make no excuses for it. The egotism is as proper and
as satisfactory to one's friends, as it is impertinent and misplaced with
strangers. I desire to see you in your every-day clothes, by your
fireside, in your pleasures; in short, in your private life; but I have
not yet been able to obtain this. Whenever you condescend to do it, as
you promise, stick to truth; for I am not so uninformed of Hamburg as
perhaps you may think.

As for myself, I am very UNWELL, and very weary of being so; and with
little hopes, at my age, of ever being otherwise. I often wish for the
end of the wretched remnant of my life; and that wish is a rational one;
but then the innate principle of self-preservation, wisely implanted in
our natures for obvious purposes, opposes that wish, and makes us
endeavor to spin out our thread as long as we can, however decayed and
rotten it may be; and, in defiance of common sense, we seek on for that
chymic gold, which beggars us when old.

Whatever your amusements, or pleasures, may be at Hamburg, I dare say you
taste them more sensibly than ever you did in your life, now that you
have business enough to whet your appetite to them. Business, one-half
of the day, is the best preparation for the pleasures of the other half.
I hope, and believe, that it will be with you as it was with an
apothecary whom I knew at Twickenham. A considerable estate fell to him
by an unexpected accident; upon which he thought it decent to leave off
his business; accordingly he generously gave up his shop and his stock to
his head man, set up his coach, and resolved to live like a gentleman;
but, in less than a month, the man, used to business, found, that living
like a gentleman was dying of ennui; upon which he bought his shop and
stock, resumed his trade, and lived very happily, after he had something
to do. Adieu.


LONDON, February 24, 1758

MY DEAR FRIEND: I received yesterday your letter of the 2d instant, with
the inclosed; which I return you, that there may be no chasm in your
papers. I had heard before of Burrish's death, and had taken some steps
thereupon; but I very soon dropped that affair, for ninety-nine good
reasons; the first of which was, that nonody is to go in his room, and
that, had he lived, he was to have been recalled from Munich. But
another reason, more flattering for you, was, that you could not be
spared from Hamburg. Upon the whole, I am not sorry for it, as the place
where you are now is the great entrepot of business; and, when it ceases
to be so, you will necessarily go to some of the courts in the
neighborhood (Berlin, I hope and believe), which will be a much more
desirable situation than to rush at Munich, where we can never have any
business beyond a subsidy. Do but go on, and exert yourself were you
are, and better things will soon follow.

Surely the inaction of our army at Hanover continues too long. We
expected wonders from it some time ago, and yet nothing is attempted.
The French will soon receive reinforcements, and then be too strong for
us; whereas they are now most certainly greatly weakened by desertion,
sickness, and deaths. Does the King of Prussia send a body of men to our
army or not? or has the march of the Russians cut him out work for all
his troops? I am afraid it has. If one body of Russians joins the
Austrian army in Moravia, and another body the Swedes in Pomerania, he
will have his hands very full, too full, I fear. The French say they
will have an army of 180,000 men in Germany this year; the Empress Queen
will have 150,000; if the Russians have but 40,000, what can resist such
a force? The King of Prussia may say, indeed, with more justice than
ever any one person could before him, 'Moi. Medea superest'.

You promised the some egotism; but I have received none yet. Do you
frequent the Landgrave? 'Hantex vous les grands de la terre'? What are
the connections of the evening? All this, and a great deal more of this
kind, let me know in your next.

The House of Commons is still very unanimous. There was a little popular
squib let off this week, in a motion of Sir John Glynne's, seconded by
Sir John Philips, for annual parliaments. It was a very cold scent, and
put an end to by a division of 190 to 70.

Good-night. Work hard, that you may divert yourself well.


LONDON, March 4, 1758.

MY DEAR FRIEND: I should have been much more surprised at the contents of
your letter of the 17th past, if I had not happened to have seen Sir C.
W., about three or four hours before I received it. I thought he talked
in an extraordinary manner; he engaged that the King of Prussia should be
master of Vienna in the month of May; and he told me that you were very
much in love with his daughter. Your letter explained all this to me;
and next day, Lord and Lady E----- gave me innumerable instances of his
frenzy, with which I shall not trouble you. What inflamed it the more
(if it did not entirely occasion it) was a great quantity of cantharides,
which, it seems, he had taken at Hamburgh, to recommend himself, I
suppose, to Mademoiselle John. He was let blood four times on board the
ship, and has been let blood four times since his arrival here; but still
the inflammation continues very high. He is now under the care of his
brothers, who do not let him go abroad. They have written to this same
Mademoiselle John, to prevent if they can, her coming to England, and
told her the case; which, when she hears she must be as mad as he is, if
she takes the journey. By the way, she must be 'une dame aventuriere',
to receive a note for 10,000 roubles from a man whom she had known but
three days! to take a contract of marriage, knowing he was married
already; and to engage herself to follow him to England. I suppose this
is not the first adventure of the sort which she has had.

After the news we received yesterday, that the French had evacuated
Hanover, all but Hamel, we daily expect much better. We pursue them, we
cut them off 'en detail', and at last we destroy their whole army. I
wish it may happen; and, moreover, I think it not impossible.

My head is much out of order, and only allows me to wish you good-night.


LONDON, March 22, 1758

MY DEAR FRIEND: I have now your letter of the 8th lying before me, with
the favorable account of our progress in Lower Saxony, and reasonable
prospect of more decisive success. I confess I did not expect this, when
my friend Munchausen took his leave of me, to go to Stade, and break the
neutrality; I thought it at least a dangerous, but rather a desperate
undertaking; whereas, hitherto, it has proved a very fortunate one.
I look upon the French army as 'fondue'; and, what with desertion,
deaths, and epidemical distempers, I dare say not a third of it will ever
return to France. The great object is now, what the Russians can or will
do; and whether the King of Prussia can hinder their junction with the
Austrians, by beating either, before they join. I will trust him for
doing all that can be done.

Sir C. W. is still in confinement, and, I fear, will always be so, for he
seems 'cum ratione insanire'; the physicians have collected all he has
said and done that indicated an alienation of mind, and have laid it
before him in writing; he has answered it in writing too, and justifies
himself in the most plausible arguments than can possibly be urged. He
tells his brother, and the few who are allowed to see him, that they are
such narrow and contracted minds themselves, that they take those for mad
who have a great and generous way of thinking; as, for instance, when he
determined to send his daughter over to you in a fortnight, to be
married, without any previous agreement or settlements, it was because he
had long known you, and loved you as a man of sense and honor; and
therefore would not treat with you as with an attorney. That as for
Mademoiselle John, he knew her merit and her circumstances; and asks,
whether it is a sign of madness to have a due regard for the one, and a
just compassion for the other. I will not tire you with enumerating any
more instances of the poor man's frenzy; but conclude this subject with
pitying him, and poor human nature, which holds its reason by so
precarious a tenure. The lady, who you tell me is set out, 'en sera pour
la seine et les fraix du voyage', for her note is worth no more than her
contract. By the way, she must be a kind of 'aventuriere', to engage so
easily in such an adventure with a man whom she had not known above a
week, and whose 'debut' of 10,000 roubles showed him not to be in his
right senses.

You will probably have seen General Yorke, by this time, in his way to
Berlin or Breslau, or wherever the King of Prussia may be. As he keeps
his commission to the States General, I presume he is not to stay long
with his Prussian Majesty; but, however, while he is there, take care to
write to him very constantly, and to give all the information you can.
His father, Lord Hardwicke, is your great puff: he commends your office
letters, exceedingly. I would have the Berlin commission your object,
in good time; never lose view of it. Do all you can to recommend
yourself to the King of Prussia on your side of the water, and to smooth
your way for that commission on this; by the turn which things have taken
of late, it must always be the most important of all foreign commissions
from hence.

I have no news to send you, as things here are extremely quiet; so, good-


LONDON, April 25, 1758.

DEAR FRIEND: I am now two letters in your debt, which I think is the
first time that ever I was so, in the long course of our correspondence.
But, besides that my head has been very much out of order of late,
writing is by no means that easy thing that it was to me formerly.
I find by experience, that the mind and the body are more than married,
for they are most intimately united; and when the one suffers, the other
sympathizes. 'Non sum qualis eram': neither my memory nor my invention
are now what they formerly were. It is in a great measure my own fault;
I cannot accuse Nature, for I abused her; and it is reasonable I should
suffer for it.

I do not like the return of the impression upon your lungs; but the rigor
of the cold may probably have brought it upon you, and your lungs not in
fault. Take care to live very cool, and let your diet be rather low.

We have had a second winter here, more severe than the first, at least
it seemed so, from a premature summer that we had, for a fortnight,
in March; which brought everything forward, only to be destroyed. I have
experienced it at Blackheath, where the promise of fruit was a most
flattering one, and all nipped in the bud by frost and snow, in April.
I shall not have a single peach or apricot.

I have nothing to tell you from hence concerning public affairs, but what
you read in the newspapers. This only is extraordinary: that last week,
in the House of Commons, above ten millions were granted, and the whole
Hanover army taken into British pay, with but one single negative, which
was Mr. Viner's.

Mr. Pitt gains ground in the closet, and yet does not lose it in the
public. That is new.

Monsieur Kniphausen has dined with me; he is one of the prettiest fellows
I have seen; he has, with a great deal of life and fire, 'les manieres
d'un honnete homme, et le ton de la Parfaitement bonne compagnie'. You
like him yourself; try to be like him: it is in your power.

I hear that Mr. Mitchel is to be recalled, notwithstanding the King of
Prussia's instances to keep him. But why, is a secret that I cannot

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