Part 4 out of 18
Robert's fall. Nothing material depends on the precise period.
(128) The story is thus told by Dr. Warton:-" These lines were
shown to her grace, as if they were intended for the portrait of
the Duchess of Buckingham; but she soon stopped the person who
was reading them to her, as the Duchess of Portland informed me,
and called out aloud, "I cannot be so imposed upon; I see plainly
enough for whom they are designed;" and abused Pope most
plentifully on the subject: though she was afterwards reconciled
to him, and courted him, and gave him a thousand pounds to
suppress this portrait, which he a accepted, it is said, by the
persuasion of Mrs. M. Blount; and, after the Duchess's death, it
was printed in a folio sheet, 1746, and afterwards inserted in
his Moral Essays. This is the greatest blemish on our poet's
The following extracts from Letters of Sarah, Duchess of
Marlborough, were copied by me from the original letters
addressed to the Earl of Stair, left by him to Sir David
Dalrymple, his near relative, and lent to me by Sir David's
brother, Mr. Alexander Dalrymple, long employed as Geographer in
the service of the East India company. They formed part of a
large volume of ms. letters, chiefly from the same person.
The Duchess of Marlborough's virulence, her prejudices, her style
of writing, are already well known, and every line of these
extracts will only serve to confirm the same opinion of all
three. But it will, probably, be thought curious thus to be able
to compare the notes of the opposite political parties, and their
different account of the same trifling facts, magnified by the
prejudices of both into affairs of importance.
EXTRACTS FROM THE LETTERS OF SARAH, DUCHESS OF
TO THE EARL OF STAIR,
ILLUSTRATIVE OF "THE REMINISCENCES."
(NOW FIRST PUBLISHED.)
(See Reminiscences, p. 97.)
London, Feb. 24th, 1738.
. . . . As to Norfolk House, (129) I have heard there is a great
deal of company, and that the Princess of Wales, tho' so very
young, behaves so as to please every body; and I think her
conversation is much more proper and decent for a drawing-room
than the wise queen Caroline's was, who never was half an hour
without saying something shocking to some body or other, even
when she intended to oblige, and generally very improper
discourse for a public room.
[See p. 98. Reminiscences, Chapter Vii]
London, December 24th, 1737.
I received the favour of yours of the 17th December yesterday. I
have nothing material to say to you since my last. His Majesty
saw the Queen's women servants first, which was a very mournful
sight, for they all cried extremely; and his Majesty was so
affected that he began to speak, but went out of the room to
recover himself. And yesterday he saw the foreign ministers and
his horses, which I remember Dean Swift gives a great character
of; and was very sorry to leave them for the conversation of his
countrymen in England.; and I think he was much in the right.
[See P. 98. Reminiscences, Chapter Vii)
Marlborough House, Nov. 15, 1737.
It is not many days since I wrote to your lordship by post, but
one can't be sure those letters are sent. However, I have a mind
to give you an account of what, perhaps, you may not have so
particularly from any other hand. This day, se'nnight the Queen
was taken extremely ill; the physicians were sent for, and from
the account that was given, they treated her as if she had the
gout in her stomach: but, upon a thorough investigation of the
matter, a surgeon desired that she would put her hand where the
pain was that she complained of, which she did; and the surgeon,
following her hand with his, found it was a very large rupture,
which had been long Concealed. Upon this, immediately they cut
it, and some little part of the gut, which was discoloured. Few
of the knowing people have had any hopes for many days; for they
still apprehend a mortification, and she can't escape it unless
the physicians can make something pass thro' her, which they have
not yet been able to do in so many days. The King and the Royal
Family have taken leave of her more than once; and his Majesty
has given her leave to make her will, which she has done; but I
fancy it will be in such a manner that few, if any, will know
what her money amounts to. Sir Robert Walpole was in Norfolk,
and came to -London but last night. I can't but think he must be
extremely uneasy at this misfortune; for I have a notion that
many of his troops will slacken very much, if not quite leave
him, when they see he has lost his sure support. But there is so
much folly, and mean corruption, etc.
London, December 1st, 1737.
. . . . As to what has passed in the Queen's illness, and since
her death, one can't depend on much one hears; and they are
things that it is no great matter whether they are true or false.
But one thing was odd: whether out of folly, or any thing else, I
can't say, but the Duke of Newcastle did not send Sir Robert
Walpole news of her illness, nor of her danger, as soon as he
might have done; and after he came to town, which was but a few
days before she died, and when she could no more live than she
can now come out of her coffin, the physicians, and all that
attended her, were ordered to say she was better, and that they
had some hopes. What the use of that was I cannot conceive. And
the occasion of her death is still pretended to be a secret: yet
it is known that she had a rupture, and had it for many years;
that she had imposthumes that broke, and that some of the guts
were mortified. This is another mystery which I don't
comprehend; for what does it signify what one dies of, except the
pain it gives more than common dissolutions? etc.
[See p. 100. Reminiscences, Chapter Vii)
I AM Of the opinion, from woful experience, that, from flattery
and want of understanding, most princes are alike; and,
therefore, it is to no purpose to argue against their passions,
but to defend ourselves, at all events, against them.
[See P. 100. Reminiscences, Chapter VII]
Wimbledon, 17th Aug. 1737.
There has been a very extraordinary quarrel at court, which, I
believe, nobody will give you so exact an account of as myself.
The 31st of last month the Princess fell in labour. The King and
Queen both knew that she was to lie in -,it St. James's, where
every thing was prepared. It was her first child, and so little
a way to London, that she thought it less hazard to go
immediately away from Hampton Court to London, where she had all
the assistance that could be, and every thing prepared, than to
stay at Hampton Court, where she had nothing, and might be forced
to make use of a country midwife. There was not a minute's time
to be lost in debating this matter, nor in ceremonials; the
Princess begging earnestly of the Prince to carry her to St.
James's, in such a hurry that gentlemen went behind the coach
like footmen. They got to St. James's safe, and she was brought
to bed in one hour after. Her Majesty followed them as soon as
she could, but did not come till it was all over. However, she
expressed a great deal of anger to the Prince for having carried
her away, tho' she and the child were very well. I should have
thought it had been most natural for a grandmother to have said
she had been mightily frightened, but was glad it was so well
over. The Prince said all the respectful and dutiful things
imaginable to her and the King, desiring her Majesty to support
the reasons which made him go away as he did without acquainting
his Majesty with it: and, I believe, all human creatures will
allow that this was natural, for a man not to debate a thing of
this kind, nor to lose a minute's time in ceremony, which was
very useless, considering that it is a great while since the King
has spoke to him, or taken the least notice of him. The Prince
told her Majesty he intended to go that morning to pay his duty
to the King, but she advised him not. This was Monday morning,
and she said Wednesday was time enough; and, indeed, in that I
think her Majesty was in the right. the Prince submitted to her
counsel, and only writ a most submissive and respectful letter to
his Majesty, giving his reasons for what he had done. And this
conversation ended, that he hoped his Majesty would do him the
honour to be godfather to his daughter, and that he would be
pleased to name who the godmothers should be; and that he left
all the directions of the christening to his Majesty's pleasure.
The queen answered that it would be thought the asking the King
to be godfather was too great a liberty, and advised him not to
do it. When the Prince led the Queen to her coach, which she
would not have had him done, there was a great concourse of
people; and, notwithstanding all that had passed before, she
expressed so much kindness that she hugged and kissed him with
great passion. the King, after this, sent a message in writing,
by my Lord Essex, in the following words:-that his Majesty looked
upon what the Prince had done, in carrying the Princess to London
in such a manner, as a deliberate indignity offered to himself
and to the Queen, and resented it in the highest degree, and
forbid him the Court. I must own I cleared Sir Robert in my own
mind of this counsel, thinking he was not in town: but it has
proved otherwise, for he was in town; and the message is drawn up
in such a manner that nobody doubts of its being done by sir
Robert. All the sycophants and agents of the court spread
millions of falsities on this occasion; and all the language
there was, that this was so great a crime that even those who
went with the Prince ought to be proscribed. How this will end
nobody yet knows; at least I am sure I don't; but I know there
was a council today held at Hampton court. I have not heard yet
of any christening being directed, but for that I am in no manner
of pain: for, if it be never christened, I think 'tis in a better
state than a great many devout people that I know. Some talk as
if they designed to take the child away from the Princess, to be
under the care of her Majesty, who professes vast kindness to the
Princess; and all the anger is at the Prince. Among common
subjects I think the law is, that nobody that has any interest in
an estate is to have any thing to do with the person who is heir
to it. What prejudice this sucking child can do to the crown I
don't see; but, to be sure, her Majesty will be very careful of
it. What I apprehend most. is, that the crown will be lost long
before this little Princess can possibly enjoy it; and, if what I
have heard to-day be true, I think the scheme of France is going
to open; for I was told there was an ambassador to come from
France whose goods had been landed in England, and that they have
been sent back. But I won't answer for the truth of that, as I
will upon every thing else in this letter.
[See p. 100. Reminiscences, Chapter VII]
June 20th, 1738.
I write to you this post, to give you an account of what I
believe nobody else will so particularly, that Madame Walmond
(130) was presented in the drawing-room to his Majesty on
Thursday. As she arrived some days before, there can be no doubt
that it was not the first meeting, tho' the manner of her
reception had the appearance of it; for his Majesty went up to
her and kissed her on both sides, which is an honour, I believe,
never any lady had from a king in public. And when his Majesty
went away, Lord Harrington presented the great men in the
ministry and the foreign ministers in the drawing-room; the
former of which performed their part with the utmost respect and
submission. This is, likewise, quite new; for, though all kings
have had mistresses, they were attended at their own lodgings,
and not in so public a manner. I conclude they performed that
ceremony too; but they could not lose the first opportunity of
paying their respects, though ever so improperly.
These great men were, the Duke of Newcastle, Sir Robert Walpole,
my Lord Wilmington, my Lord Harrington, and Mr. Pelham. My Lord
Hervey had not the honour to be on the foot of a minister. . .
I have nothing more to say, but that this Madame Walmond is at
present in a mighty mean dirty lodging in St. James's Street.
Her husband came with her, but he is going away; and that house
that was Mr. Seymour's, in Hyde Park, which opens into the King's
garden, is fitting up for her; -and the Duchess of Kendal's
lodgings are making ready for her at St. James's. There is
nothing more known at present as to the settlement, but that
directions are given for one upon the establishment of Ireland.
perhaps that mayn't exceed the Duchess of Kendal's, which was
three thousand pounds a-year. But 'tis easy for the first
minister to increase that as she pleases.
[See p. 101.]
London, December 3rd, 1737.
I saw one yesterday that dined with my Lord Fanny, (131) who, as
soon as he had dined, was sent for to come up to his Majesty, and
there is all the appearance that can be of great favour to his
lordship. I mentioned him in my last, and I will now give you an
account of some things concerning his character, that I believe
you don't know. What I am going to say I am sure is as true as
if I had been a transactor in it myself. And I will begin the
relation with Mr. Lepelle, my Lord Fanny's wife's father, having
made her a cornet in his regiment as soon as she was born, which
is no more wrong to the design of an army than if she had been a
son: and she was paid many years after she was a maid of honour.
She was extreme forward and pert; and my Lord Sunderland got her
a pension of the late King, it being too ridiculous to continue
her any longer an officer in the army. And into the bargain, she
was to be a spy; but what she could tell to deserve a pension, I
cannot comprehend. However, King George the First used to talk
to her very much; and this encouraged my Lord Fanny and her to
undertake a very extraordinary project: and she went to the
drawing-room every night, and publicly attacked his Majesty in a
most vehement manner, insomuch that it was the diversion of all
the town; which alarmed the Duchess of Kendal, and the ministry
that governed her, to that degree, lest the King should be put in
the opposers' hands, that they determined to buy my Lady H- off;
and they gave her 4000 pounds to desist, which she did, and my
Lord Fanny bought a good house with it, and furnished it very
[See p. 106. Reminiscences, Chapter IX]
London, March 19th, 1738.
I have received the favour of yours of the 11th by the post, but
not that which you mention by another hand. And since you can
like such sort of accounts as I am able to give you, I will
continue to do it. I think it is very plain now that Sir Robert
don't think it worth his while to make any proposals where it was
once suspected he would. And his wedding was celebrated as if he
had been King of France, and the apartments furnished in the
richest manner: crowds of people of the first quality being
presented to the bride, who is the daughter of a clerk that sung
the psalms in a church where Dr. Sacheverell was. After the
struggle among the court ladies who should have the honour of
presenting her, which the Duchess of Newcastle obtained, it was
thought more proper to have her presented by one of her own
family; otherwise it would look as if she had no alliances: and
therefore that ceremony was performed by Horace Walpole's wife,
who was daughter to my tailor, Lumbar. I read in a print lately,
that an old gentleman, very rich, had married a maiden lady with
two fatherless children but the printer did not then know the
March 27th, 1738.
'I think I did not tell you that the Duke of Dorset waited on my
Lady Walpole to congratulate her marriage, with the same ceremony
as if it had been one of the Royal Family, with his white staff,
which has not been used these many years, but when they attend
the Crown. But such a wretch as he is I hardly know; and his
wife, whose passion is only money, assists him in his odious
affair with Lady Betty Jermyn, who has a great deal to dispose
of; who, notwithstanding the great pride of the Berkeley family,
married an innkeeper's son. But indeed there was some reason for
that; for she was ugly, without a portion, and in her youth had
an unlucky accident with one of her father's servants; and by
that match she got money to entertain herself all manner of ways.
I tell you these things, which did not happen in your time of
knowledge, which is a melancholy picture of what the world is
come to; for this strange woman has had a great influence over
Feb. 24th. 1738.
Monday next is fixed for presenting Mrs. Skerrit at court: and
there has been great solicitation from the court ladies who
should do it, in which the Duchess of Newcastle has succeeded,
and all the apartment is made ready for Sir Robert's lady, at his
house at the Cockpit. (132) I never saw her in my life, but at
auctions; but I remember I liked her as to behaviour very well,
and I believe she has a great deal of sense: and I am not one of
the number that wonder so much at this match; for the King of
France married Madame de Maintenon, and many men have done the
same thing. But as to the public, I do believe never was any man
so great a villain as Sir Robert.
Wednesday, Feb. 16th, 1741.
.....Some changes are made as to employments; but very few are
brought in but such as will be easily governed, and brought to
act so as to keep their places. I have inquired often about your
lordship, who I have not yet heard named in this alteration. And
I have been told that Lords Chesterfield and Gower are to have
nothing in the government, which I think a very ill sign of what
is intended; because that can be for no reason but because you
are all such men as are incapable of ever being prevailed on by
any arts to act any thing contrary to honour and the true
interests of our country.
(129) Where the Prince and Princess of Wales then resided.
(131 John, Lord Hervey, so called by Pope.
(132) Where the Prince and Princess of Wales then resided.
Correspondence of Horace walpole
Earl of Orford
121 Letter 1
To Richard West, Esq. (133)
King's College, Nov 9, 1735,
You expect a long letter from me, and have said in verse all that
I intended to have said in far inferior prose. I intended
filling three or four sides with exclamations against a
University life; but you have showed me how strongly they may be
expressed in three or four lines. I can't build without straw;
nor have I the ingenuity of the spider, to spin fine lines out of
dirt: a master of a college would make but a miserable figure as
a hero of a poem, and Cambridge sophs are too low to introduce
into a letter that aims not at punning:
Haud equidem invideo vati, quem pulpita pascunt.
But why mayn't we hold a classical correspondence? I can
never forget the many agreeable hours we have passed in
reading Horace and Virgil; and I think they are topics
will never grow stale. Let us extend the Roman empire,
and cultivate two barbarous towns o'er -run with rusticity and
Mathematics. The creatures are so used to a circle,
that they Plod on in the same eternal round, with their
whole view confined to a punctum, cujus nulla est pars:
"Their time a moment, and a point their space."
Orabunt causas melius, coelique meatus
Describent radio, et surgentia sidera dicent
Tu coluisse novem Musas, Romane, memento;
Hae tibi crunt artes. . . .
We have not the least poetry stirring here; for I can't
call verses on the 5th of November and 30th of January
by that name, more than four lines on a chapter in the New
Testament is an epigram. Tydeus (134) rose and set at Eton: he
is only known here to be a scholar of King's. Orosmades and
Almanzor are just the same; that is, I am almost the only person
they are acquainted with, and consequently the only person
acquainted with their excellencies. Plato improves every day; so
does my friendship with him. These three
divide my whole time, though I believe you will guess
there is no quadruple alliance; (135) that was a happiness which
I only enjoyed when you was at Eton. A short account of the Eton
people at Oxford would much oblige, my dear West, your faithful
(133) Richard West was the only son of the Right Honourable
Richard West, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, by Elizabeth,
daughter of the celebrated Dr. Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury. When
this correspondence commences, Mr. West was nineteen years old,
and Mr. Walpole one year younger. [West died on the 1st of
January, 1742, at the premature age of twenty-six. He had a
great genius for poetry. His correspondence
with Gray, and several of his poems, are included
in the collection of letters published by Mr. Mason.
West's father published an able discourse of treasons and bills
of attainder, and a tract on the manner of creating peers. He
also wrote several essays in "The Freethinker;" and was the
reputed author of a tragedy called "Hecuba;" which was performed
at Drury Lane theatre in 1726.]
(134) Tydeus, Orosmades, Almanzor, and Plato, were names
which had been given by them to some of their Eton
(135) Thus as boys they had called the intimacy formed at Eton
between Walpole, Gray, West, and Ashton.
122 Letter 2
To George Montagu, Esq. (136)
King's College, May 2, 1736.
Unless I were to be married myself, I should despair ever
being able to describe a wedding so well as you have done: had I
known your talent before, I would have desired an
epithalamium. I believe the princess (137) will have more
beauties bestowed on her by the occasional poets, than even a
painter would afford her. They will cook up a new Pandora, and
in the bottom of the box enclose Hope, that all they have said is
true. A great many, out of excess of good breeding, having heard
it was rude to talk Latin before women, propose complimenting her
in English; which she will be much the
better for. I doubt most of them instead of fearing their
compositions should not be understood, should fear they
should: they write they don't know what, to be read by they don't
know who. You have made me a very unreasonable request, which I
will answer with another as extraordinary: you desire I would
burn your letters; I desire you would keep mine. I know but of
one way of making what I send you useful, which is, by sending
you a blank sheet: sure you would not grudge three-pence for a
half-penny sheet, when you give as much for one not worth a
farthing. You drew this last paragraph on you by your exordium,
as you call it, and conclusion. I hope, for the future, our
correspondence will run a little more glibly, with dear George,
and dear Harry; not as formally as if we were playing a game at
chess in Spain and Portugal; and Don Horatio was to have the
honour Of specifying to Don Georgio, by an epistle, whether he
would move. In one point I would have our correspondence like a
game at chess; it should last all our lives-but I hear you cry
check; adieu! Dear George, yours ever.
(136) George Montagu was the son of Brigadier-General Edward
Montagu, and nephew to the Earl of Halifax. He was member of
parliament for Northampton, usher of the black rod in Ireland
during the lieutenancy of the Earl of Halifax, ranger of
Salsey Forest, and private secretary to Lord North when
chancellor of the exchequer. [And of him "it is now only
remembered," says the "Quarterly Review," vol. xix. p. 131, "that
he was a gentleman-like body of the vieille cour, and that he was
usually attended by his brother John, (the Little John of
Walpole's correspondence,) who was a midshipman at the age of
sixty, and found his chief occupation in carrying about his
(137) Augusta, Princess of Saxe-Gotha, married, in April,
1736, to Frederick Lewis, Prince of Wales.
123 Letter 3
To George Montagu, Esq.
King's College, May 6, 1736.
I agree with you entirely in the pleasure you take
in talking over old stories, but can't say but I meet
every day with new circumstances, which will be still
more pleasure to me to recollect. I think at our age
'tis excess of joy, to think, while we are running over
past happinesses, that it is still in our power to enjoy
as great. Narrations of the greatest actions of other people are
tedious in comparison of the serious trifles that every man can
call to mind of himself while he was learning
those histories. Youthful passages of life are the chippings of
Pitt's diamond, set into little heart-rings with mottos; the
stone itself more worth, the filings more gentle
and agreeable. Alexander, at the head of the world,
never tasted the true pleasure that boys of his own age
have enjoyed at the head of a school. Little intrigues,
little schemes, and policies engage their thoughts;
and, at the same time that they are laying the foundation for
their middle age of life, the mimic republic they live in
furnishes materials of conversation for their latter age; and old
men cannot be said to be children a second time
with greater truth from any one cause, than their living
over again their childhood in imagination. To reflect
on the season when first they felt the titillation of love, the
budding passions, and the first dear object of their
wishes! how unexperienced they gave credit to all the tales of
romantic loves! Dear George, were not the playing fields at Eton
food for all manner of flights? No old maid's gown, though it
had been tormented into all the fashions from King James to King
George, ever underwent so many transformations as those poor
plains have in my idea. At first I was contented with tending a
visionary flock, and sighing some pastoral name to the echo of
the cascade under the bridge. How happy should I have been to
have had a kingdom only for the pleasure of being driven from it,
and living disguised in an humble vale! As I got further
into Virgil and Clelia, I found myself transported from Arcadia
to the garden of Italy; and saw Windsor Castle in no other view
than the Capitoli immobile saxum. I wish a committee of the
House of Commons may ever seem to be the senate; or a bill appear
half so agreeable as a billet-doux. You see how deep you have
carried me into old stories; I write of them with pleasure, but
shall talk of them with more to you. I can't say I am sorry I
was never quite a schoolboy: an expedition against bargemen, or a
match at cricket, may be very pretty things to recollect; but,
thank my stars, I can remember things very near as pretty. The
beginning of my Roman history was spent in the asylum, or
conversing in Egeria's hallowed grove; not in thumping and
pommelling king Amulius's herdsmen. I was sometimes troubled
with a rough creature or two from the plough; one, that one
should have thought, had worked with his head, as well as his
hands, they were both so callous. One of the most agreeable
circumstances I can recollect is the Triumvirate, composed of
yourself, Charles,(138) and Your sincere friend.
(138) Colonel Charles Montagu, afterwards Lieutenant-General, and
Knight of the Bath, and brother of George Montagu. He married
Elizabeth Villiers, Viscountess Grandison,
daughter of the Earl of Grandison.
124 Letter 4
To George Montagu, Esq.
King's College, May 20, 1736.
You will excuse my not having written to you, when you hear I
have been a jaunt to Oxford. As you have seen it, I shall only
say I think it one of the most agreeable places I ever set my
eyes on. In our way thither we stopped at the Duke of Kent's,
(139) at Wrest. (140) On the great staircase is a picture of the
duchess; (141) I said it was very like; oh, dear sir! said Mrs.
Housekeeper, it's too handsome for my lady duchess; her grace's
chin is much longer than that.
In the garden are monuments in memory of Lord Harold (142) Lady
Glenorchy, (143) the late duchess,(144) and the present duke. At
Lord Clarendon's (145) at Cornbury,(146) is a
prodigious quantity of Vandykes; but I had not time to take down
any of their dresses. By the way, you gave me no account of the
last masquerade. Coming back, we saw Easton Neston,(147) a seat
of Lord Pomfret, where in an old greenhouse is a wonderful fine
statue of Tully, haranguing a numerous assembly of decayed
emperors, vestal virgins with new noses, Colossuses, Venuses,
headless carcases, and carcaseless heads, pieces of tombs, and
hieroglyphics.(148) I saw Althorp(149) the same day, where are a
vast many pictures-some mighty good; a gallery with the Windsor
beauties, and Lady Bridgewater(150) who is full as handsome as
any of them; a bouncing head of, I believe, Cleopatra, called
there the Duchess of Mazarine. The park is enchanting. I forgot
to tell you I was at Blenheim, where I saw nothing but a cross
housekeeper, and an impertinent porter, except a few pictures, a
quarry of stone that looked at a distance like a great house, and
about this quarry, quantities of inscriptions in honour of the
Duke of Marlborough, and I think of her grace too.
Adieu! dear George, Yours ever.
The verses are not published.
(139) Henry de Grey, Duke, Marquis, and Earl of Kent, son of
Anthony Earl of Kent, and Mary, daughter of Lord Lucas. [The
duke, who had been so created in 1710, having lost all his sons
during his lifetime, obtained a new patent in 1740,
creating him Marquis Grey, with remainder to his
grand-daughter Jemima Campbell, daughter of his eldest
daughter, Lady amabel Grey, by her husband John, third Earl of
Breadalbane. On the death of the duke, in June 1740, the
marquisate of Grey and barony of Lucas, together with the
Wrest House and all the vast estates of the duke, devolved upon
his grand-daughter, Lady Jemima Campbell, then Lady
Jemima Royston, she having married Philip Viscount Royston,
eldest son of the Earl of Hardwicke, by whom she had two
daughters, Amabel married in July 1772, to Lord Polwarth, only
son of the Earl of Marchmont, created a peer of Great Britain by
the title of Baron Hume of Berwick, and who died in 1781 without
issue: her ladyship was advanced to the dignity of Countess de
Grey by letters patent, in 1816, with remainder of that earldom
to her sister Mary Jemima, wife of Thomas second Lord Grantham,
and that lady's male issue. Lady Grantham died in 1830; and upon
the death of the countess, in 1833, she was succeeded under the
patent by her nephew Lord Grantham, the present Earl de Grey.]
(140) Wrest House in Bedfordshire. [It is remarkable that, from
the death of the Duke of Kent, Wrest House has never
remained a second generation in the same family, but has
descended successively through females to the families of
Yorke Earl of Hardwicke, Hume Earl of Marchmont, and is now
vested in that of Robinson Lord Grantham, the
great-great-grandson of the duke.)
(141) Lady Sophia Bentinck, second wife of the Duke of Kent, and
daughter to William Earl of Portland.
(142) Anthony Earl of Harold, eldest son of the Duke of Kent.
[Married to Lady Mary Grafton, daughter of the Earl of Thanet.
He died without issue, in 1723, in consequence of an ear of
barley sticking in his throat. His widow, who survived many
years, afterwards married John first Earl Gower.]
(143) Amabella, eldest daughter of the Duke of Kent, married to
John Campbell, Lord Viscount Glenorchy, son of Lord
(144) Jemima, eldest daughter of Lord Crewe, and first wife of
the Duke of Kent.
(145) Henry Earl of Clarendon and Rochester, son of Laurence Earl
(146) In the county of Oxford.
(147) Easton Neston, the ancient family seat of the Fermor
family, had been rebuilt by Sir William Fermor who was
elevated to the peerage by the title of Baron Lempster of
Lempster, or Leominster, county of Hereford; and whose only son
Thomas, second baron, was advanced to the earldom of
Pomfret in 1721.-E.
(148) Part of the invaluable collection of the great Earl of
Arundel. They had been formerly purchased by John Lord
Jefferies, Baron of Wem; and in 1755 were presented by his
daughter, the Countess-dowager of Pomfret, to the University of
(149) The seat of Charles, fifth Earl of Sunderland; who, upon
the demise of his aunt Henrietta, eldest daughter of John Duke of
Marlborough, succeeded to the honours of his illustrious
grandfather. Althorp is now the seat of Earl Spencer. An
account of the mansion, its pictures, etc. was published by Dr.
Dibdin, in 1822, under the title of "Edes Althorpianae," as a
supplement to his "Bibliotheca Spenceriana."-E.
(150) Elizabeth, third daughter of the great Duke of
Marlborough, and wife of Scroop, Earl and afterwards first Duke
of Bridgewater. She died, however, previous to her
husband's advancement to the dukedom.-E.
126 Letter 5
To George Montagu, Esq.
King's College, May 30, 1736.
You show me in the prettiest manner how much you like
Petronius Arbiter; I have heard you commend him, but I am more
pleased with your tacit approbation of writing like him, prose
interspersed with verse: I shall send you soon in return some
poetry interspersed with prose; I mean the Cambridge
congratulation with the notes, as you desired. I have
transcribed the greatest part of what was tolerable at the
coffee-houses; but by most of what you will find, you will hardly
think I have left any thing worse behind. There is lately come
out a new piece, called A Dialogue between
Philemon and Hydaspes on false religion, by one Mr.
Coventry,(151) A.M., and fellow, formerly fellow-commoner, of
Magdalen. He is a young man, but 'tis really a pretty thing. If
you cannot get it in town, I will send it with the verses. He
accounts for superstition in a new manner, and I think a Just
One; attributing it to disappointments in love. He don't
resolve it all into that bottom; ascribes it almost wholly as the
source of female enthusiasm; and I dare say there's ne'er a girl
from the age of fourteen to four-and-twenty, but will subscribe
to his principles, and own, if the dear man were dead that she
loves, she would settle all her affection on heaven, whither he
Who would not be an Artemisia, and raise the stately mausoleum to
her lord; then weep and watch incessant over it like the Ephesian
I have heard of one lady, who had not quite so great a
veneration for her husband's tomb, but preferred lying alone in
one, to lying on his left hand; perhaps she had an aversion to
the German custom of left-handed wives. I met yesterday with a
pretty little dialogue on the subject of constancy tis between a
traveller and a dove
Que fais tu dans ce bois, plaintive Tourturelle?
Je g`emis, j'ai perdu ma compagne fidelle.
Ne crains tu pas que l'oiseleur
Ne te fasse mourir comme elle?
Si ce n'est lui, ce sera ma douleur.
'Twould have been a little more apposite, if she had grieved for
her lover. I have ventured to turn it into that view,
lengthened it, and spoiled it, as you shall see.
P.-Plaintive turtle, cease your moan;
In this dreary wood alone
Why d'ye stay?
T.-These tears, alas! you see flow
For my mate!
P.-Dread you not from net or bow
His sad fate?
T.-If, ah! if they neither kill,
You will excuse this gentle nothing, I mean mine, when I tell
you, I translated it out of pure good-nature for the use of a
disconsolate wood-pigeon in our grove, that was made a widow by
the barbarity of a gun. She coos and calls me so movingly,
'twould touch your heart to hear her. I protest to you it
grieves me to pity her. She is so allicholy as any thing. I'll
warrant you now she's as sorry as one of us would be. Well, good
man, he's gone, and he died like a lamb. She's an unfortunate
woman, but she must have patience; tis what we must all come to,
and so as I was saying, Dear George, good bye t'ye,
P. S. I don't know yet when I shall leave Cambridge.
(151) Mr. Henry Coventry was the son of Henry Coventry, Esq. who
had a good estate in Cambridgeshire. He was born in 1710, and
died in 1752. He wrote four additional Dialogues. The five were
republished shortly after his death, by his cousin, the Rev.
Francis Coventry. The following is transcribed from the MSS. of
the Rev. W. Cole:-
"When Henry Coventry first came to the University, he was of a
religious turn of mind, as was Mr. Horace Walpole; even so much
so as to go with Ashton, his then great friend, to pray with the
prisoners in the Castle. Afterwards, both Mr.
Coventry and Mr. Walpole took to the infidel side of the
127 Letter 6
To Richard West, Esq.
King's College, Aug. 17, 1736.
Gray is at Burnham,(152) and, what is surprising, has not been at
Eton. Could you live so near it without seeing it?
That dear scene of our quadruple-alliance would furnish me with
the most agreeable recollections. 'Tis the head
of our genealogical table, that is since sprouted out
into the two branches of Oxford and Cambridge. You seem to be
the eldest son, by having got a whole inheritance to yourself;
while the manor of Granta is to be divided between your three
younger brothers, Thomas of Lancashire,  Thomas of
London  and Horace. We don't wish you dead to enjoy your
seat, but your seat dead to enjoy you. I hope you are a mere
elder brother, and live upon what your father left you, and in
the way you 'were brought up in, poetry: but we are supposed to
betake ourselves to some trade, as logic, philosophy, or
mathematics. If I should prove a mere younger brother, and not
turn to any Profession, would you receive me, and supply me out
of your stock, where you have such plenty? I have been so used to
the delicate food of Parnassus, that I can never condescend to
apply to the grosser studies of Alma Mater. Sober cloth of
syllogism colour suits me ill; or, what's worse, I hate clothes
that one must prove to be of no colour at all. If the Muses
coelique vias et sidera monstrent, and qua vi maria alta
lumescant. why accipiant: but 'tis thrashing, to study
philosophy in the abstruse authors. I am not against cultivating
these studies, as they are certainly useful; but then they quite
neglect all polite literature, all knowledge of this world.
Indeed, such people have not much occasion for this latter; for
they shut themselves up from it, and study till they know less
than any one. Great mathematicians have been of great use;
but the generality of them are quite unconversible: they
frequent the stars, sub pedibusque vident nubes, but they can't
see through them. I tell you what I see; that by living
amongst them, I write of nothing else: my letters are
all parallelograms, two sides equal to two sides; and every
paragraph an axiom, that tells you nothing but what every mortal
almost knows. By the way, your letters come under this
description; for they contain nothing but what almost every
mortal knows too, that knows you-that is, they are
extremely agreeable, which they know you are capable of
making them:-no one is better acquainted with it than
Your sincere friend.
(152) in Buckinghamshire, where his uncle resided.
(153) Thomas Ashton. He was afterwards fellow of Eton College,
rector of St. Botolph, Bishopsgate-street, and preacher to the
Society of Lincoln's-inn. It was to him that Mr. Walpole
addressed the poetical epistle from Florence, first published in
Dodsley's collection of poems.
(154) Thomas Gray, the poet.
128 Letter 7
To George Montagu Esq.
King's College, March 20, 1737.
The first paragraph in my letter must be in answer to the last in
yours; though I should be glad to make you the return you ask, by
waiting on you myself. 'Tis not in my power, from more
circumstances than One, which are needless to tell you, to
accompany you and Lord Conway(155) to Italy: you add to the
pleasure it would give me, by asking it so kindly. You I am
infinitely obliged to, as I was capable, my dear George, of
making you forget for a minute that you don't propose stirring
from the dear place you are now in. Poppies indeed are the chief
flowers in love nosegays, but they seldom bend towards the lady;
at least not till the other flowers have been
gathered. Prince Volscius's boots were made of love-leather, and
honour-leather; instead of honour, some people's are made of
friendship; but since you have been so good to me as to draw on
this, I can almost believe you are equipped for
travelling farther than Rheims. 'Tis no little inducement to
make me wish myself in France, that I hear gallantry is not left
off there; that you may be polite and not be thought
awkward for it. You know the pretty men of the age in England
use the women with no more deference than they do their coach-
horses, and have not half the regard for them that they have for
themselves. The little freedoms you tell me you use take off
from formality, by avoiding which ridiculous extreme we are
dwindled into the other barbarous one, rusticity. If you had
been at Paris, I should have inquired about the new
Spanish ambassadress, who, by the accounts we have thence, at her
first audience of the queen, sat down with her at a
distance that suited respect and conversation. Adieu, dear
Yours most heartily.
(156) Francis Seymour Conway, son of Francis Seymour, Lord
Conway, and Charlotte, daughter of John Shorter, Esq. [Sister to
Lady Walpole, the mother of Horace, and with her co-heiress of
John Shorter, Esq. lord-mayor of London in 1688, who died during
his mayoralty, from a fall off his horse, under
Newgate, as he was going to proclaim Bartholomew Fair. Lady
Walpole died in the August of the year in which the present
letter was written, and Sir Robert soon afterwards married @Miss
Skerrit. Walpole's well-known fondness for his mother is alluded
to by Gray, in a letter to West, dated 22d August, 1737:-" But
while I write to you, I hear the bad news of lady Walpole's
death, on Saturday night last. Forgive me if the thought of what
my poor Horace must feel on that account
obliges me to have done."]
129 Letter 8
To George Montagu, Esq.
Christopher Inn, Eton.
The Christopher. Lord! how great I used to think anybody just
landed at the Christopher! But here are no boys for me to send
for-here I am, like Noah, just returned into
his old world again, with all sorts of queer feels about me. By
the way, the clock strikes the old cracked sound-I recollect so
much, and remember so little-and want to play about-and am so
afraid of my playfellows-and am ready to shirk Ashton and can't
help making fun of myself-and envy a dame over the way, that has
just locked in her boarders, and is going to sit down in a little
hot parlour to a very bad supper, so comfortably! and I could be
so jolly a dog if I did not fat, which, by the way, is the first
time the word was ever applicable to me. In short, I should be
out of all bounds if I was to tell you half I feel, how young
again I am
one minute, and how old the next. But do come and feel
with me, when you will-to-morrow-adieu! If I don't compose myself
a little more before Sunday morning, when Ashton
is to preach, I shall certainly be in a bill for
laughing at church; but how to belt it, to see him
in the pulpit, when the last time I saw him here, was standing up
funking at a conduit to be catechised. Good night; yours.
130 Letter 9
To Richard West, Esq.
Paris, April 21, N. S. 1739. (157)
You figure us in a set of pleasures, which, believe me, we do not
find; cards and eating are so universal, that they absorb all
variation of pleasures. The operas, indeed, are much frequented
three times a week; but to me they would be a greater penance
than eating maigre: their music resembles a gooseberry tart as
much as it does harmony. We have not yet been at the Italian
playhouse; scarce any one goes there. Their best amusement, and
which in some parts, beats ours, is the comedy three or four of
the actors excel any we have: but then to this nobody goes, if it
is not one of the fashionable nights; and then they go, be the
play good or bad-except on
Moli`ere's nights, whose pieces they are quite weary of. Gray
and I have been at the Avare to-night; I cannot at all commend
their performance of it. Last night I was in the Place de Louis
le Grand (a regular octagon, uniform, and the houses handsome,
though not so large as Golden Square), to see what they reckoned
one of the finest burials that ever was in France. It was the
Duke de Tresmes, governor of Paris and marshal of France. It
began on foot from his palace to his parish-church, and from
thence in coaches to the opposite end of Paris, to b interred in
the church of the Celestins, where is his family-vault. About a
week ago we happened to see the grave digging, as we went to see
the church, which is old and small., but fuller of fine ancient
monuments than any, except St. Denis, which we saw
on the road, and excels Westminster; for the windows are all '
painted in mosaic, and the tombs as fresh and well preserved as
if they were of yesterday. In the Celestins' church
is a votive column to Francis II., which says, that it is one
assurance of his being immortalised, to have had the martyr Mary
Stuart for his wife. After this long digression, I return to the
burial, which was a most vile thing. A long procession of
flambeaux and friars; no plumes, trophies, banners,
led horses, scutcheons, or open chariots; nothing but friars,
white, black, and grey, with all their trumpery. This goodly
ceremony began at nine at night, and did not finish till three
this morning; for, each church they passed, they stopped
for a hymn and holy water. By the bye, some of these choice
monks, who watched the body while it lay in state, fell asleep
one night, and let the tapers catch fire of the rich velvet
mantle lined with ermine and powdered with gold
flower-de-luces, which melted the lead coffin, and burnt off the
feet of the deceased before it awakened them. The French love
show; but there is a meanness runs through it all. At the house
where I stood to see this procession, the room was hung with
crimson damask and gold, and the windows were mended in ten or a
dozen places with paper. At dinner they give you three courses;
but a third of the dishes is patched up with sallads, butter,
puff-paste, or some such miscarriage of a dish. None, but
Germans, wear fine clothes; but their coaches are tawdry enough
for the wedding of Cupid and Psyche. You would-laugh extremely at
their signs: some live at
the Y grec, some at Venus's toilette, and some at the sucking
cat. YOU would not easily guess their notions of honour: I'll
tell you one: it is very dishonourable for any gentleman not to
be 'in @he army, or in the king's service as they
call it, and it is no dishonour to keep public gaming-houses:
there are at least an hundred and fifty people of the first
quality in Paris who live by it. You may go into their houses at
all hours of the night, And find hazard, pharaoh, etc. The men
who keep the hazard tables at the duke de Gesvres' pay him twelve
guineas each night for the privilege. Even the princesses of the
blood are dirty enough to have shares in the banks kept at their
houses. We have seen two or three of them; but they are not
young, nor remarkable but for wearing their red of a deeper dye
than other women, though all use it extravagantly.
The weather is still so bad, that we have not made any
excursions to see Versailles and the environs, not even walked in
the Tuileries; but we have seen almost every thing else that is
worth seeing in Paris, though that is very
considerable. They beat us vastly in buildings, both in number
and magnificence. The tombs of Richelieu and Mazarin at the
Sorbonne and the College de Quatre Nations are wonderfully fine,
especially the former. We have seen very little of the people
themselves, who are not inclined to be propitious to strangers,
especially if they do not play and speak the language readily.
There are many English here: Lord Holderness, Conway(158) and
Clinton, (159) and Lord George Bentinck; (160) Mr. Brand,(161)
Offley, Frederic, Frampton, Bonfoy, etc. Sir John
Cotton's son and a Mr. Vernon of Cambridge passed through Paris
last week. We shall stay here about a fortnight longer,
and then go to Rheims with Mr. Conway for two or three months.
When you have nothing else to do, we shall be glad to hear from
you; and any news. If we did not remember there was such a place
as England, we should know nothing of it: the French never
mention it, unless it happens to be in one of their proverbs!
Adieu! Yours ever.
To-morrow we go to the Cid. They have no farces but petites
pieces like our "Devil to Pay."
(157) Mr. Walpole left Cambridge towards the end of the year
1738, and in March, 1739, began his travels by going to Paris,
accompanied by Mr. Gray.
(158) Francis, second Lord Conway, in 1750, created Viscount
Beauchamp and Earl of Hertford, and in 1793, Earl of Yarmouth and
Marquis of Hertford. He was the elder brother of General Conway,
and grandfather of the present Marquis.
(159) Hugh Fortescue, in whose favour the abeyance into
which the barony of Clinton had fallen on the death of
Edward, thirteenth Baron Clinton, was terminated by writ of
summons, in 1721. He was created, in 1746, Lord Fortescue and
of Clinton; and died unmarried, in 1751.-E.
(160) Son of Henry, second Earl and first Duke of Portland; he
died in 1759.-E.
(161) Mr. Brand of the Hoo, in Hertfordshire, who afterwards
married Lady Caroline Pierrepoint, daughter of the Duke of
Kingston by his second wife,
and half-sister of Lady Mary Wortley.-E.
132 Letter 10
To Richard West, Esq.
>From Paris, 1739.
I should think myself to blame not to try to divert you, when you
tell me I can. From the air of your letter you seem to want
amusement, that is, you want spirits. I
would recommend to you certain little employments that I know of,
and that belong to you, but that I imagine bodily exercise is
more suitable to your complaint. If you would promise me to read
them in the Temple garden, I would send you a little packet of
plays and pamphlets that we have made up, and intend to dispatch
to 'Dick's' the first opportunity.-Stand by, clear the way, make
room for the pompous appearance of Versailles le Grand!--But no:
it fell so short of my idea of it, mine, that I have resigned to
Gray the office of writing its panegyric.(162) He likes it.
They say I am to like it better next Sunday; when the sun is to
shine., the king is to be fine, the water-works are to play, and
the new knights of the Holy Ghost are to be
installed! Ever since Wednesday, the day we were there, we have
done nothing but dispute about it. They say, we did not see it
to advantage, that we ran through the apartments, saw the garden
en passant, and slubbered over Trianon. I say, we saw nothing.
However, we had time to see that the great front is a lumber of
littleness, composed of black brick, stuck full of bad old busts,
and fringed with gold rails. The rooms
are all small, except the great gallery, which is noble,
but totally wainscoted with looking-glass. The garden is
littered with statues and fountains, each of which has its
tutelary deity. In particular, the elementary god of fire
solaces himself in one. In another, Enceladus, in lieu of a
mountain, is overwhelmed with many waters. There are avenues of
water-pots, who disport themselves much in squirting up
cascadelins. In short, 'tis a garden for a great child. Such
was Louis Quatorze, who is here seen in his proper colours, where he commanded in person, unassisted by his armies
and his generals, left to the pursuit of his own puerile ideas of
We saw last week a place of another kind, and which has more the
air of what it would be, than anything I have yet met with: it
was the convent of the Chartreux. All the conveniences, or
rather (if there was such a word) all the adaptments are
assembled here, that melancholy, meditation, selfish devotion,
and despair would require. But yet 'tis pleasing. Soften the
terms, and mellow the uncouth horror that reigns here, but a
little, and 'tis a charming solitude. It stands on a large space
of ground, is old and irregular. The chapel is gloomy: behind
it, through some dark passages, you pass into a large obscure
hall, which looks like a combination-chamber for some hellish
council. The large cloister surrounds their buryingground. The
cloisters are very narrow and very long, and let into the cells,
which are built like little huts detached from each other. We
were carried into one, where lived a middle-aged man not long
initiated into the order. He was extremely civil, and called
himself Dom Victor. We have promised to visit him often. Their
habit is all white: but besides this he was infinitely clean in
his person; and his apartment and garden, which he keeps and
cultivates without any assistance, was neat to a degree. He has
four little rooms, furnished in the prettiest manner, and hung
with good prints. One of them is a library, and another a
gallery. He has several canary-birds disposed in a pretty manner
in breeding-cages. in his garden was a bed of good tulips in
bloom, flowers and
fruit-trees, and all neatly kept. They are permitted at certain
hours to talk to strangers, but never to one another, or to go
out of their convent. But what we chiefly went to see was the
small cloister, with the history of St. Bruno their founder,
painted by Le Sceur. It consists of twenty-two pictures, the
figures a good deal less than life. But sure they are amazing! I
don't know what Raphael may be in Rome, but these pictures excel
all I have seen in Paris and England. The figure of the dead man
who spoke at his burial, contains all the strongest and horridest
ideas of ghastliness, hypocrisy discovered, and the height of
damnation, pain and cursing. A Benedictine monk, who was there
at the same time, said to me of this picture C'est une fable,
mais on la croyoit autrefois. Another, who
showed me relics in one of their churches, expressed as much
ridicule for them. The pictures I have been speaking of
are ill preserved, and some of the finest heads defaced,
which was done at first by a rival of Le Soeur's. Adieu! dear
West, take care of your health; and some time or other we will
talk over all these things with more pleasure than I have had in
(162) For Gray's description of Versailles, which he
styles " a huge heap of littleness," see his letter to West of
the 22nd of May, 1739. (Works, by Mitford, vol. ii.
P. 46).edited by the Rev. John Mitford.-E.
134 Letter 11
To Richard West, Esq.
Rheims, (163) June 18, 1739, N. S.
How I am to fill up this letter is not easy to divine. I have
consented that Gray shall give an account of our situation and
proceedings; (164) and have left myself at the mercy of my own'
invention--a most terrible resource, and which I shall avoid
applying to if I can possibly help it. I had prepared the
ingredients for a description of a ball, and was just ready to
serve it up to you, but he has plucked it from me. However, I
was resolved to give you an account of a particular song and
dance in it, and was determined to write the words and Sing the
tune just as I folded up my letter: but as it would, ten to one,
be opened before it gets to you, I am forced to lay aside this
thought, though an admirable one. Well, but now I have put it
into your head, I suppose you won't rest without it. For that
individual one, believe me 'tis nothing without the tune and the
dance; but to stay your
stomach, I -will send you one of their vaudevilles or Ballads,
(165) which they sing at the comedy after their
You must not wonder if all my letters resemble dictionaries, with
French on one side and English on t'other; I deal in nothing else
at present, and talk a couple of words of each language
alternately, from morning till night. This has put my mouth a
little out of tune at present but I am trying to recover the use
of it by reading the newspapers aloud at breakfast, and by
shewing the title-pages of all my English books. Besides this, I
have paraphrased half of the first act of your new GustavUS (166)
which was sent us to Paris: a most dainty performance, and just
what you say of it. Good night, I am sure you must be tired: if
you are not, I am. yours ever.
(163) Mr. Walpole, with his cousin Henry Seymour Conway and Mr.
Gray, resided three months at Rheims, principally to
acquire the French language.
(164) Gray's letter to West has not been preserved; but one
addressed to his mother, on the 21 st of June, containing an
account of Rheims and the society, is printed in his Works, vol.
ii. p. 50.-E.
(165) This ballad does not appear.
(166) The tragedy of "Gustavus Vasa," by Henry Brooke, author of
"The Fool of Quality." It was rehearsed at Drury Lane; but, as
it was supposed to satirize Sir Robert Walpole, it was prohibited
to be acted. This, however, did Brooke no injury, as he was
encouraged to publish the play by subscription.-E.
134 Letter 12
To Richard West, Esq.
Rheims, July 20, 1739.
Gray says, Indeed you ought to write to West.-Lord, child, so I
would, if I knew what to write about. If I were in London and he
at Rheims, I would send him volumes about peace and war,
Spaniards, camps, and conventions; but d'ye think he
cares sixpence to know who is gone to Compiegne, and when they
come back, or who won and lost four livres at quadrille last
night at Mr. Cockbert's?--No, but you may tell him what you have
heard of Compiegne; that they have balls twice a week after the
play, and that the Count d'Eu gave the king a most flaring
entertainment in the camp, where the Polygone was
represented in flowering shrubs. Dear West, these are the things
I must tell you; I don't know how to make 'em look
significant, unless you will be a Rhemois for a little
moment.(167) I wonder you can stay out of the city so long, when
we are going to have all manner of diversions. The comedians
return hither from Compiegne in eight days, for example; and in a
very little of time one attends the regiment of the king, three
battalions and an hundred of officers; all men of a
certain fashion, very amiable, and who know their world. Our
women grow more gay, more lively, from day to day, in
expecting them; Mademoiselle la Reine is brewing a wash of a
finer dye, and brushing up her eyes for their arrival. La Barone
already counts upon fifteen of them: and Madame Lelu, finding her
linen robe conceals too many beauties, has bespoke one of gauze.
I won't plague you any longer with people you don't know, I mean
French ones; for you must absolutely hear of an
Englishman that lately appeared at Rheims. About two days ago,
about four o'clock in the afternoon, and about an hour after
dinner,-from all which you may conclude we dine at two
o'clock,-as we were picking our teeth round a littered table and
in a crumby room, Gray in an undress, Mr. Conway in a
morning gray coat, and I in a trim white night-gown and
slippers, very much out of order, with a very little cold, a
message discomposed us all of a sudden, with a service to Mr.
Walpole from Mr. More, and that, if he pleased, he would wait on
him. We scuttled upstairs in great confusion, but with no other
damage than the flinging down two or three glasses and the
dropping a slipper by the way. Having ordered the room to be
cleaned out, and sent a very civil response to Mr. More, we began
to consider who Mr. More should be. Is it Mr. More of Paris!
No. Oh, 'tis Mr. More, my Lady Teynham's husband? No, it can't
be he. A Mr. More, then, that lives in the
Halifax family? No. In short, after thinking of ten thousand
more Mr. Mores, we concluded it could never be a one of 'em. By
this time Mr. More arrives; but such a Mr. More! a young
gentleman out of the wilds of Ireland, who has never been in
England, but has got all the ordinary language of that
kingdom; has been two years at Paris, where he dined at an
ordinary with the refugee Irish, and learnt fortification-,,
which he does not understand at all, and which yet is the only
thing he knows. In short, he is a young swain of very uncouth
phrase, inarticulate speech, and no ideas. This hopeful child is
riding post into Lorrain, or any where else, he is not
certain; for if there is a war he shall go home again: for we
must give the Spaniards another drubbing, you know; and if the
Dutch do but join us, we shall blow up all the ports in
Europe; for our ships are our bastions, and our ravelines, and
our hornworks; and there's a devilish wide ditch for 'em to pass,
which they can't fill up with things-Here Mr. Conway helped him
to fascines. By this time I imagine you have
laughed at him as much, and were as tired of him as we were; but
he's gone. This is the day that Gray and I intended for the
first of a southern circuit; but as Mr. Selwyn and George Montagu
design us a visit here, we have put off our journey for some
weeks. When we get a little farther, I hope our
memories will brighten: at present they are but dull, dull as
Your humble servant ever.
P. S. I thank you ten thousand times for your last letter: when I
have as much wit and as much poetry in me, I'll send you as good
an one. Good night, child!
(167) The three following paragraphs are a literal translation of
French expressions to the same imports.
136 Letter 13
To Richard West, Esq.
>From a Hamlet among the Mountains of Savoy,
Sept. 28, 1739, N. S.
Precipices, mountains, torrents, wolves, rumblings, Salvator
Rosa-the pomp of our park and the meekness of our palace! Here
we are, the lonely lords of glorious, desolate prospects. I have
kept a sort of resolution which I made, of not writing to you as
long as I staid in France: I am now a quarter of an hour out of
it, and write to you. Mind, 'tis three months since we heard
from you. I begin this letter -among the clouds; where I shall
finish, my neighbour Heaven probably knows: 'tis an odd wish in a
mortal letter, to hope not to finish it on this side the
atmosphere. You will have a billet tumble to you from the stars
hen you least think of it; and that I should write it too! Lord,
how potent that sounds! But I am to undergo many
transmigrations before I come to "yours ever." Yesterday I was a
shepherd of Dauphin`e; to-day an Alpine savage; to-morrow a
Carthusian monk; and Friday a Swiss Calvinist. I have one
quality which I find remains with me in all worlds and in all
aethers; I brought it with me from your world, and am admired for
it in this-'tis my esteem for you: this is a common thought among
you, and you will laugh at it, but it is new here: as new to
remember one's friends in the world one has left, as for you to
remember those you have lost.
Aix in Savoy, Sept. 30th.
We are this minute come in here, and here's an awkward abb`e this
minute come in to us. I asked him if he would sit down. Oui,
oui, oui. He has ordered us a radish soup for supper, and has
brought a chess-board to play with Mr. Conway. I have left 'em
in the act, and am set down to write to you. Did you ever see
any thing like the prospect we saw yesterday? I never did. We
rode three leagues to see the Grande Chartreuse; (168)
expected bad roads and the finest convent in the kingdom. We
were disappointed pro and con. The building is large and plain,
and has nothing remarkable but its primitive simplicity; they
entertained us in the neatest manner, with eggs, pickled salmon,
dried fish, conserves, cheese, butter, grapes, and figs, and
pressed us mightily to lie there. We tumbled into the hands of a
lay-brother, who, unluckily having the charge of the meal and
bran, showed us little besides. They desired us to set down our
names in the list of strangers, where, among others, we found two
mottos of our countrymen, for whose stupidity and brutality we
blushed. The first was of Sir j * * * D * * *, who had wrote
down the first stanza of justum et tenacem, altering the last
line to Mente quatit Carthusiana. The second was of one D * *,
Coelum ipsum petimus stultitia; et hic ventri indico bellum. The
Goth!-But the road, West, the road! winding round a prodigious
mountain, and surrounded with others, all shagged with hanging
woods, obscured with pines, or lost in clouds! Below, a torrent
breaking through cliffs, and tumbling through fragments of rocks!
Sheets of @cascades forcing their silver speed down channelled
precipices, and hasting into the roughened river at the bottom!
Now and then an old foot-bridge, with a broken rail, a leaning
cross, a cottage, or the ruin of an hermitage! This sounds too
bombast and too romantic to one that has not seen it, too cold
for one that has. If I could send you my letter post between two
lovely tempests that echoed each other's wrath you might have
some idea of this noble roaring scene, as you were reading it.
Almost on the summit, upon a fine verdure, but without any
prospect, stands the Chartreuse. We staid there two hours, rode
back through this charming picture, wished for a painter, wished
to be poets! Need I tell you we wished for you? Good night!
Geneva, Oct. 2.
By beginning a new date, I should begin a new letter; but I have
seen nothing yet, and the Post is going Out: 'tis a strange
tumbled dab, and dirty too, I am sending you; but what can I do?
There is no possibility of writing such a long history over
again. I find there are many English in the town; Lord Brook,
(169) Lord Mansel, (170) Lord Hervey's eldest son,(171) and a son
of-of Mars and Venus, or of Antony and Cleopatra, or, in short,
of-. This is the boy, in the bow of whose hat Mr. Hedges pinned
a pretty epigram. I don't know if you ever heard it; I'll
suppose you never did, because it will fill up my letter:
"Give but Cupid's dart to me,
Another Cupid I shall be:
No more distinguish'd from the other,
Than Venus would be from my mother."
Scandal says, Hedges thought the two last very like; and it says
too, that she was not his enemy for thinking so.
Adieu! Gray and I return to Lyons in three days. Harry stays
here. Perhaps at our return we may find a letter from you: it
ought to be very full of excuses, for you have been a lazy
creature: I hope you have, for I would not owe your silence to
any other reason.
(168) It was on revisiting it, when returning to England after
his unfortunate quarrel with Walpole, that Gray inscribed his
beautiful "Alcaic Ode" in the album of the fathers of this
monastery. Gray's account of this grand scene, where "not a
precipice, not a torrent, not a cliff, but is pregnant with
religion and poetry," will be found in his letter to West, dated
Turin, Nov. 16, N. S. 1739. Works, vol. ii. p. 69.-E.
(169) Francis Lord Brooke, advanced to the dignity of Earl Brooke
(170) Thomas Lord Mansell, who died in 1743, without issue. He
was succeeded in the title by his uncles Christopher and Bussy;
and, On the death of the latter in 1744, it became extinct.-E.
(171) George William Hervey, who succeeded his grandfather as
Earl of Bristol in 1751, and died Unmarried in 1775.-E.
138 Letter 14
To Richard West, Esq.
Turin, Nov. 11, 1739, N. S.
So, as the song says, we are in fair Italy! I wonder we are; for
on the very highest precipice of Mount Cenis, the devil of
discord, in the similitude of sour wine, had got amongst our
Alpine savages, and set them a-fighting with Gray and me in the
chairs: they rushed him by me on a crag, where there was scarce
room for a cloven foot. The least slip had tumbled us into such
a fog, and such an eternity, as we should never have found our
way out of again. We were eight days in coming hither from
Lyons; the four last in crossing the Alps. Such uncouth rocks,
and such uncomely inhabitants! My dear West, I hope I shall
never see them again! At the foot of Mount Cenis we were obliged
to quit our chaise, which was taken all to pieces and loaded on
mules; and we were carried in low arm-chairs on poles, swathed in
beaver bonnets, beaver gloves, beaver stockings, muffs, and
bear-skins. When we came to the top, behold the snows fallen!
and such quantities, and conducted by such heavy clouds that hung
glouting, that I thought we could never have waded through them.
The descent is two leagues, but steep and rough as O * * * *
father's face, over which,
you know, the devil walked with hobnails in his shoes. But the
dexterity and nimbleness of the mountaineers are
inconceivable: they run with you down steeps and frozen
precipices, where no man, as men are now, could possibly walk.
We had twelve men and nine mules to carry us, our servants, and
baggage, and were above five hours in this agreeable jaunt The
day before, I had a cruel accident, and so extraordinary an one,
that it seems to touch upon the traveller. I had brought with me
a little black spaniel of King Charles's breed; but the
prettiest, fattest, dearest creature! I had let it out of the
chaise for the air, and it was waddling along close to the head
of the horses, on the top of the highest Alps, by the side of a
wood of firs. There darted out a young wolf, seized poor dear
Tory (172) by the throat, and, before we could possibly prevent
it, sprung up the side of the rock and carried him off. The
postilion jumped off and struck at him with his whip, but in
vain. I saw it and screamed, but in vain; for the road was so
narrow, that the servants that were behind could not get by the
chaise to shoot him. What is the extraordinary part is, that it
was but two o'clock, and broad sunshine. It was shocking to see
anything one loved run away with to so
horrid a death. .... .
Just coming out of Camber, which is a little nasty old hole, I
copied an inscription set up at the end of a great road, which
was practised through an immense solid rock by bursting it
asunder with gunpowder. The Latin is pretty enough, and so I
"Carolus Emanuel II. Sab. dux, Pedem. princeps, Cypri
rex,public`a felicitate part`a, singulorum commodis intentus,
breviorem securioremque viam regiam, natur`a occlusam, Romanis
intentatam, mteris desperatam, dejectis scopulorum repagulus,
aquata montiuminiquitate, quae cervicibus imminebant precipitia
pedibus substernens, aeternis populorum commerciis patefecit.
We passed the Pas de Suze, where is a strong fortress on a rock,
between two very neighbouring mountains; and then, through a fine
avenue of three leagues, we at last discovered Tturin:--
"E l'un k l'altro mostra, ed in tanto oblia
La noia, e'l mal 'delta passata via."'
'Tis really by far one of the prettiest cities I have seen; not
one of your large straggling ones that can afford to have twenty
dirty suburbs, but, clean and compact, very new and very regular.
The king's palace is not of the proudest without, but of the
richest within; painted, gilt, looking-glassed, very costly, but
very tawdry; in short, a very popular palace. We were last night
at the Italian comedy-the devil of a house and the devil of
actors! Besides this, there is a sort of an heroic tragedy,
called "La rapprentatione dell' Anima Damnata."(173) A woman, a
sinner, comes in and makes a solemn prayer to the Trinity: enter
Jesus Christ and the Virgin: he scolds, and exit: she tells the
woman her son is very angry, but she don't know, she will see
what she can do. After the play we were introduced to the
assembly, which they call the conversazione: there were many
people playing at ombre, pharaoh, and a game called taroc, with
cards so high, (174) to the number of seventy-eight. There are
three or four English here Lord Lincoln,(175) with Spence,(176)
your professor of poetry; a Mr. B*** and a Mr. C*** a man that
never utters a syllable. We have tried all stratagems to make
him speak. Yesterday he did at last open his mouth, and said
Bec. all laughed so at the novelty of the thing that he shut it
again, and will never speak more. I think you can't complain now
of my not writing to you. What a volume of trifles! I wrote
just the fellow to it from Geneva; had it you? Farewell! Thine.
(172) This incident is described also by Gray in one of his
letters to his mother. "If the dog," he adds, "had not been
there, and the creature had thought fit to lay hold of one of the
horses, chaise and we, and all, must inevitably have tumbled
above fifty fathoms perpendicularly down the precipice."-E.
(173) This representation is also mentioned by Spence, in a
letter to his mother:-"In spite of the excellence," he says, "of
the actors, the greatest part of the entertainment to me was the
countenances of the people in the pit and boxes. When the devils
were like to carry off the Damned Soul, every body was in the
utmost consternation and when St. John spoke so obligingly to
her, they were ready to cry out for joy. When the Virgin
appeared on the stage, every body looked respectful; and, on
several words spoke by the actors, they pulled off, their hats,
and crossed themselves. What can you think of a people, where
their very farces are religious, and where they are so
religiously received? It was from such a play as this (called
Adam and Eve) that Milton when he was in Italy, is said to have
taken the first hint for his divine poem of "Paradise Lost."
What small beginnings are there sometimes to the greatest
(174) In the manuscript the writing of this word is extraordinary
(175) Henry ninth Earl of Lincoln, who having, in 1744, married
Catherine, eldest daughter and heiress of the Right Honourable
Henry Pelham, inherited, in 1768, the dukedom of
Newcastle-under-Line at the demise of the countess's uncle,
Thomas Pelham Holles, who, in 1756, had been created Duke of
Newcastle-under-Line, with special remainder to the Earl of
(176) The Rev. Joseph Spence, the author of one of the best
collections of ana the English language possesses-the well-known
"Anecdotes, Observations, and Characters of Books and Men," of
which the best edition is that edited by Singer.-E.
140 Letter 15
To Richard West, Esq.
>From Bologna, 1739.
I don't know why I told Ashton I would send you an account of
what I saw: don't believe it, I don't intend it. Only think what
a vile employment 'tis, making
catalogues! And then one should have that odious Curl (177) get
at one's letters, and publish them like Whitfield's
Journal, or for a supplement to the Traveller's Pocket
Companion. Dear West, I protest against having seen any thing
but what all the world has seen; nay, I have not seen half that,
not-some of the most common things; not so much as a miracle.
Well, but you don't expect it, do you? Except
pictures. and statues, we are not very fond of sights; don't go
a-staring after crooked towers and conundrum staircases. Don't
you hate, too, a jingling epitaph (178) of one Procul and one
Proculus that is here? Now and then we drop in at a procession,
or a high-mass, hear the music, enjoy a strange attire, and hate
the foul monkhood. Last week, was the feast of the Immaculate
Conception. On the eve we went to the
Franciscans' church to hear the academical exercises. There were
moult and moult clergy, about two dozen dames, that
treated one another with illustrissima and brown kisses, the
vice-legate, the gonfalonier, and some senate. The
vice-legate, whose conception was not quite so immaculate, is a
young personable person, of about twenty, and had on a
mighty pretty cardinal-kind of habit; 'twould make a
delightful masquerade dress. We asked his name: Spinola. What,
a nephew of the cardinal-legate? Signor, no: ma credo che gli
sia qualche cosa. He sat on the right hand with the gonfalonier
in two purple fauteuils. Opposite was a throne of crimson
damask, with the device of the Academy, the Gelati; and trimmings
of gold. Here sat at a table, in black, the head of' the
academy, between the orator and the first poet At two
semicircular tables on either hand sat three poets and three;
silent among many candles. The chief made a little introduction,
the orator a long Italian vile harangue. Then the chief, the
poet, and the poets,-who were a Franciscan, an Olivetan, an old
abb`e, and three lay,-read their
compositions; and to-day they are pasted up in all parts of the
town. As we came out of the church, we found all the
convent and neighbouring houses lighted all over with
lanthorns of red and yellow paper, and two bonfires. But you are
sick of this foolish ceremony; I'll carry you to no more -. I
will only mention, that we found the Dominicans' church here in
mourning for the inquisitor: 'twas all hung with black cloth,
furbelowed and festooned with yellow gauze. We have seen a
furniture here in a much prettier taste; a gallery of Count
Caprara's: in the panels between the windows are pendent trophies
of various arms taken by one of his ancestors from the Turks.
They are whimsical, romantic, and have a pretty effect. I looked
about, but could not perceive the portrait of the lady at whose
feet they were indisputably offered. In coming out of Genoa we
were more lucky; found the very spot where Horatio and Lothario
were to have fought, "west of the town, a mile among the rocks."
My dear West, in return for your epigrams of Prior, I will
transcribe some old verses too, but which I fancy I can show you
in a sort of a new light. They are no newer than Virgil, and
what is more odd, are in the second Georgic. 'Tis, that I have
observed that he not only excels when he is like himself, but
even when he is very like inferior poets: you will say that they
rather excel by being like him: but mind, they are all near one
"Si non ingenter oribus domus alta superbis
Mane sa@atame totis vomit Eedibus uridam:"
And the four next lines; are they not just like Martial? In the
following he is as much Claudian"
"Illum non populi fasces, non purpura regum
Flexit, et infidos agitans discordia fratres;
Aut conjurato descendens Dacus ab Istro."
Then who are these like?
"nec ferrea jura, insanumque forum,
aut populi tabularia vidit.
Sollicitant alii remis freta ceca, ruuntque
In ferrum, penetrant aulas et limina regum.
Hic petit excidiis urbem miseresque Penates,
Ut gemma, bibat, et Sarrano indormiat ostro."
Don't they seem to be Juvenal's?-There are some more, which to me
resemble, Horace; but perhaps I think so from his having some on
a parallel subject. Tell me if I am mistaken; these are they:
"Interea dulces pendent eircum oscula nati:
Casta pudicitiam servat domus-"
inclusively to the end of these:
"Hanc olim veteres vitam colti`ere Sabini
Hanc Remus et frater: sic fortis Etruria crevit,
Scilicet et retum facta est pulcherrima Roma."
If the imagination is whimsical; well at least, 'tis like me to
have imagined it. Adieu, child! We leave Bologna
to-morrow. You know 'tis the third city in Italy for
pictures: knowing that, you know all. We shall be three days
crossing the Apennine to Florence: would it were over!
My dear West, I am yours from St. Peter's to St. Paul's!
(177) Edmund Curll, the well-known bookseller. The letters
between Pope and many of his friends falling into Curll's hands,
they were by him printed and sold. As the volume contained some
letters from noblemen, Pope incited a prosecution against him in
the House of Lords for breach of privilege; but, when the orders
of the House were examined, none of them appeared to have been
infringed: Curll went away triumphant, and Pope was left to seek
some other remedy.-E.
(178) The Epitaph on the outside of the wall of the church of St.
Si procul `a Proculo Proculi campana fuisset, Jam procul `a
Proculo Proculus ipse foret. A.D. 1392.
142 Letter 16
To Richard West, Esq.
Florence, Jan. 24, 1740, N. S.
I don't know what volumes I may send you from Rome; from
Florence I have little inclination to send you any. I see
several things that please me calmly, but `a force d'en avoir vu
I have left off screaming Lord! this! and Lord! that! To speak
sincerely, Calais surprised me more than any thing I have seen
since. I recollect the joy I used to propose if I could but once
see the great duke's gallery; I walk into it now with as little
emotion as I should into St. Paul's. The statues are a
congregation of good sort of people, that I have a great deal of
unruffled regard for. The farther I travel the less I wonder at
any thing: a few days reconcile one to a new spot, or an unseen
custom; and men are
so much the same every where, that one scarce perceives any
change of situation. The same weaknesses, the same passions that
in England plunge men into elections, drinking, whoring, exist
here, and show themselves in the shapes of Jesuits,
Cicisbeos, and Corydon ardebat Alexins. The most remarkable
thing I have observed since I came abroad, is, that there are no
people so obviously mad as the English. The French, the
Italians, have great follies, great faults; but then they are so
national, they cease to be striking. In England, tempers vary so
excessively, that almost every one's faults are
peculiar to himself. I take this diversity to proceed partly
from our climate, partly from our government: the first is
changeable, and makes us queer; the latter permits our
queernesses to operate as they please. If one
could avoid contracting this queerness, it must certainly be the
most entertaining to live in England, where such a variety of
incidents continually amuse. The incidents of a week in London
would furnish all Italy with news for a twelvemonth. The only
two circumstances of moment in the life of an
Italian, that ever give occasion to their being mentioned, are,
being married, and in a year after taking a cicisbeo. Ask the
name, the husband, the wife, or the cicisbeo, of any person, et
voila qui est fini.
Thus, child, 'tis dull dealing here! Methinks your Spanish war is
little more livel By the gravity of the proceedings, one would
think both nations were Spaniard. Adieu! Do you
remember my maxim, that you used to laugh at? Every body does
every thing, and nothing comes on't. I am more convinced of it
now than ever. I don't know whether S***w,'s was not still
better, Well, gad, there is nothing in nothing. You see how I
distil all my speculations and improvements, that they may lie in
a small compass. Do you remember the story of the prince, that,
after travelling three years, brought home nothing but a nut?
They cracked it: in it was wrapped up a piece of silk, painted
with all the kings, queens, kingdoms. and every thing in the
world: after many unfoldings, out stepped a little dog, shook his
ears, and fell to dancing a saraband. There is a fairy tale for
you. If I had any thing as good as your old song, I would send
it too; but I can only thank you for it, and bid you good night.
P. S. Upon reading my letter, I perceive still plainer the
sameness that reigns here; for I find I have said the same thing
ten times over. I don't care, I have made out a letter, and that
was all my affair.
143 Letter 17
To Richard West, Esq.
Florence, February 27, 1740, N. S.
Well, West, I have found a little unmasqued moment to Write to
you; but for this week past I have been so muffled up in my
domino, that I have not had the command of my elbows. But what
have you been doing all the mornings? Could you not
write then?-No, then I was masqued too; I have done nothing but
slip out of my domino into bed, and out of bed into my domino.
The end of the Carnival is frantic, bacchanalian; all the morn
one makes parties in masque to the shops and
coffee-houses, and all the evening to the operas and balls. Then
I have danced, good gods! how have I danced! The
Italians are fond to a degree of our country dances: Cold and
raw-they only know by the tune; Blowzybella is almost Italian,
and Buttered peas is Pizelli ag buro. There are but three days
more; but the two last are to have balls all the morning at the
fine unfinished palace of the Strozzi; and the Tuesday night a
masquerade after supper: they sup first, to eat gras, and not
encroach upon Ash-Wednesday. What makes masquerading more
agreeable here than in England, is
the great deference that is showed to the disguised. Here they
do not catch at those little dirty opportunities of
saying any ill-natured thing they know of you, do not abuse you
because they may, or talk gross bawdy to a woman of
quality. I found the other day, by a play of Etheridge's, that
we have had a sort of Carnival even since the
Reformation; Ytis in "She would if She could," they talk of going
a-mumming in Shrove-tide.(179)-After talking so much of
diversions, I fear you will attribute
to them the fondness I own I contract for Florence; but it has so
many other charms, that I shall not want excuses for
my taste. The freedom of the Carnival has given me
opportunities to make several acquaintances.; and if I have no
found them refined, learned, polished, like some other cities,
yet they are civil, good-natured, and fond of the English-.
Their little partiality for themselves, opposed to the
violent vanity of the French, makes them very amiable in my eyes.
I can give you a comical instance of their great
prejudice about nobility; it happened yesterday. While we were
at dinner at Mr. Mann'S. (180) word was brought by his secretary,
that a cavalier demanded audience of him upon an affair of
honour. Gray and I flew behind the curtain of the door. An
elderly gentleman, whose attire was not certainly correspondent
to the greatness of his birth, entered, and
informed the British minister, that one Martin. an English
painter, had left a challenge for him at his house, for having
said Martin was no gentleman. He would by no means have spoke of
the duel before the transaction of it, but that his honour, his
blood, his etc. would never permit him to fight with one who was
no cavalier; which was what he came to inquire of his excellency.
We laughed loud laughs, but unheard: his fright or his nobility
had closed his ears. But mark the sequel: the instant he was
gone, my very English curiosity hurried me out of the gate St.
the place and hour appointed. We had not been driving about
above ten minutes, but out popped a little figure, pale but
cross, with beard unshaved and hair uncombed, a slouched hat, and
a considerable red cloak, in which was wrapped, under his arm,
the fatal sword that was to revenge the highly injured Mr.
Martin, painter and defendant. I darted my head out of the
coach, just ready to say, " Your servant, Mr. Martin," and talk
about the architecture of the triumphal arch that was building
there; but he would not know me, and walked off. We left him to
wait for an hour, to grow very cold and very
valiant the more it grew past the hour of appointment. We were
figuring all the poor creature's huddle of thoughts, and confused
hopes of victory or fame, of his unfinished pictures, or his
situation upon bouncing into the next world. You will think us
strange creatures; but 'twas a pleasant sight, as we knew the
poor painter was safe. I have thought of it since, and am
inclined to believe that nothing but two English could have been
capable of such a jaunt. I remember, 'twas reported in London,
that the plague was at a house in the city, and all the town went
to see it.
I have this instant received your letter. Lord! I am glad I
thought of those parallel passages, since it made you
translate them. 'Tis excessively near the original; and yet, I
don't know, 'tis very easy too.-It snows here a little
it never lies but on the mountains. Adieu! Yours ever.
P.S. What is the history of the theatres this winter?
(179) Sir Charles Etheridge. "She would if She could," was
brought out at the Duke of York's theatre in February, 1668:
Pepys, who was present, calls it "a silly, dull thing; the design
and end being mighty insipid."-E.
(180) Sir Horace Mann, created a baronet in 1755. He was
appointed minister plenipotentiary from England to the court of
Florence in 1740, and continued so until his death, on the 6th
145 Letter 18
To The Hon. Henry Seymour Conway, (181)
Florence, March 6, 1740, N. S.
Harry, my dear, one would tell you what a monster you are, if one
were not sure your conscience tells you so every time you think
of me. At Genoa, in the year of our Lord one
thousand seven hundred and thirty-nine, I received the last
letter from you; by your not writing to me since, I imagine you
propose to make this a leap year. I should have sent many a
scold after you in this long interval, had I known where to have
scolded; but you told me you should leave Geneva
immediately. I have despatched sundry inquiries into England
after you, all fruitless. At last drops in a chance letter to
Lady Sophy Farmor, (182) from a girl at Paris, that tells her for
news, Mr. Henry Conway is here. Is he, indeed? and why was I to
know it only by this scrambling way? Well, I hate you for this
neglect, but I find I love you well enough to tell you so. But,
dear now, don't let one fall into a train of excuses and
reproaches; if the god of indolence is a
mightier deity with you than the god of caring for one, tell me,
and I won't dun you; but will drop your correspondence as
silently as if I owed you money.
If my private consistency was of no weight with you, yet, is a
man nothing who is within three days' journey of a conclave?
Nay, for what you knew, I might have been in Rome. Harry, art
thou so indifferent, as to have a cousin at the election of a
pope (183) without courting him for news? I'll tell you, were I
any where else, and even Dick Hammond were at Rome, I think
verily I should have wrote to him. Popes, cardinals,
adorations, coronations, St. Peter's! oh, what costly sounds!
and don't you write to one yet? I shall set out in about a
fortnight, and pray then think me of consequence.
I have crept on upon time from day to day here; fond of
Florence to a degree: 'tis infinitely the most agreeable of all
the places I have seen since London: that you know one loves,
right or wrong, as one does one's nurse. Our little Arno is not
bloated and swelling like the Thames, but 'tis vastly pretty,
and, I don't know how, being Italian, has
something visionary and poetical in its stream. Then one's
unwilling to leave the gallery, and-but-in short, one's
unwilling to get into a postchaise. I am surfeited with
mountains and inns, as if I had eat them. I have many to pass
before I see England again, and no Tory to entertain me on the
road? Well, this thought makes me dull, and that makes me
P. S. Direct to me, (for to be sure you will not be so
outrageous as to leave me quite off), recornmand4 i Mons.
Mann, Ministre de sa Majest`e Britannique @ Florence.
(181) Second Son of Francis first Lord Conway. by Charlotte
Shorter, his third wife. He was afterwards secretary in
Ireland during the vice-royalty of William fourth Duke of
Devonshire; groom of the bedchamber to George II. and George
III.; secretary of state in 1765; lieutenant-general of the
ordnance in 1770; commander in chief in 1782; and a field-
marshal in 1793. This correspondence commences when Mr.
Walpole was twenty-three years old, and Mr. Conway two years
younger. They had gone abroad together, with Mr. Gray, in the
year 1739, had spent three months together at Rheims, and
afterwards separated at Geneva.
(182) Daughter of the first Earl of Pomfret, and married,, in
1744, to John second Lord Carteret and first Earl of
(183) As successor of Clement XII., who died in the
eighty-eighth year of his age, and the tenth of his
pontificate, on the 6th Feb. 1740. The cardinals being
uncertain whom to choose, Prosper Lamberteri, the learned and
tolerant Archbishop of Ancona, said, with his accustomed
good-humour, "If you want a saint, choose Gotti; if a
politician, Aldrosandi: but if a good man, take me." His
advice was followed, and he ascended the papal throne as
146 Letter 19
To Richard West, Esq.
Siena, March 22, 1740, N. S.
Dear West, Probably now you will hear something of the
Conclave: we have
left Florence, and are got hither on the way to a pope. In three
hours' time we have seen all the good contents of this city: 'tis
old, and very snug, with very few inhabitants. You must not
believe Mr. Addison about the wonderful Gothic nicety of the
dome: the materials are richer, but the workmanship and taste not
near so good as in several I have seen. We saw a college of the
Jesuits, where there are taught to draw above fifty boys: they
are disposed in long chambers in the manner of Eton, but
N. B. We were not bolstered; (184) so we wished you with us. Our
Cicerone, who has less classic knowledge, and more
superstition than a colleger, upon showing
147 us the she-wolf, the arms of Siena, told us that Romolus and
Remus were nursed by a wolf, per la volonta di Dio, si pu`o dire;
and that one might see by the arms, that the same founders built
Rome and Siena. Another dab of Romish superstition, not
of Presbyterian divinity, we met with in a book of drawings:
'twas the Virgin standing on a tripod composed of Adam, Eve, and
the Devil, to express her immaculate conception.
You can't imagine how pretty the country is between this and
Florence; millions of little hills planted with trees, and tipped
with villas or convents. We left unseen the great Duke's
and several palaces in Florence, till our return from Rome: the
weather has been so cold, how could one go to them? In Italy
they seem to have found out how hot their climate is, but not how
cold; for there are scarce any chimneys, and most of the
apartments painted in fresco so that one has the additional
horror of freezing with imaginary marble. The men hang little
earthen pans of coals upon their wrists, and the women have
portable stoves under their petticoats to warm their
and carry silver shovels in their pockets, with which their
Cicisbeos stir them-Hush! by them, I mean their stoves. I have
nothing more to tell you; I'll carry my letter to Rome and finish
R`e di Coffano, March 23, where lived one of the three kings.
The King of Coffano carried presents of myrrh, gold, and
frankincense, I don't know where the devil he found them; for in
all his dominions we have not seen the value of a shrub. We have
the honour of lodging under his roof to-night. lord! such a
place, such an extent of ugliness! A lone inn upon a black
mountain, by the side of an old fortress! no curtains or
windows, only shutters! no testers to the beds! no earthly thing
to eat but some eggs and a few little fishes! This lovely
is now known by the name of Radi-cofani. Coming down a steep
hill with two miserable hackneys, one fell under the chaise; and
while we were disengaging him, a chaise came by with a person in
a red cloak, a white handkerchief on its head, and a black hat:
we thought it a fat old woman; but it spoke in a shrill little
pipe, and proved itself to be Senesini. (185) I forgot to tell
you an inscription I copied from the portal of the dome of Siena:
Annus centenus Roma seraper est jubilenus:
Crimina laxantur si penitet ista dortantur; Sic ordinavit
Bonifacius et roboravit.
Rome, March 26
We are this instant arrived, tired and hungry! O! the charming
city-I believe it is-for I have not seen a syllable yet, only the
Pons Milvius and an obelisk. The Cassian and Flaminian ways were
terrible disappointments; not one Rome tomb left; their very
ruins ruined. The English are numberless. My dear West, I know
at Rome you will not have a grain of pity for one; but indeed
'tis dreadful, dealing with schoolboys just broke loose, or old
fools that are come abroad at forty to see the world, like Sir
I don't know whether you will receive this, or any other I write;
but though I shall write often, you and Ashton must not wonder if
none come to you; for though I am harmless in my nature, my name
has some mystery in it.(186) Good night! I have no more time or
paper. Ashton, child, I'll write to you next post. Write us no
treasons, be sure!
(184) An Eton phrase.
(185) Francesco Bernardi, better known by the name of
Senesino, a celebrated singer, who, having been engaged for the
opera company formed by Handel in 17@20, remained here as
principal singer until 1726, when the state of his health
compelled him to return to Italy. In 1730 he revisited England,