Part 7 out of 16
understand them ourselves; and therefore, determining nothing
but to have the old picture stuck in a thicket of pinnacles, we
left it to you to find out the how. I believe it will be a
little difficult; but as I suppose facere quia impossibile est,
is full as easy as credere, why--you must do it.
The present journal of the world and of me stands thus: King
George II does not go abroad--Some folks fear nephews,(440) as
much as others hate uncles. The Castle of Dublin has carried
the Armagh election by one vote only--which is thought
equivalent to losing it by twenty. Mr. Pelham has been very
ill, I thought of St. Patrick's fire,(441) but it proved to be
St. Antony's. Our House of Commons, mere poachers, are
piddling wit the torture of Leheup,(442) who extracted so much
money out of the lottery.
The robber of Po Yang(443) is discovered, and I hope will be
put to death, without my pity interfering, as it has done for
Mr. Shorter's servant,(444) or Lady Caroline Petersham's, as it
did for Maclean. In short, it was a heron. I like this better
than thieves, as I believe the gang will be more easily
destroyed, though not mentioned in the King's speech or
Lord Clarendon, Lord Thanet, and Lord Burlington are dead. The
second sent for his tailor, and asked him if he could make him
a suit of mourning in eight hours: if he could, he would go
into mourning for his brother Burlington(445)--but that he did
not expect to live twelve hours himself.
There are two more volumes come out of Sir Charles Grandison.
I shall detain them till the last is published, and not think I
postpone much of your pleasure. For my part, I stopped at the
fourth; I was so tired of sets of people getting together, and
saying, "Pray, Miss, with whom are you in love?" and of mighty
good young men that convert your Mr. M * * * *'s in the
twinkling of a sermon!--You have not been much more diverted, I
fear, with Hogarth's book(446)--'tis very silly!--Palmyra(447)
is come forth, and is a noble book; the prints finely engraved,
and an admirable dissertation before it. My wonder is much
abated: the Palmyrene empire which I had figured, shrunk to a
small trading city with some magnificent public buildings out
of proportion to the dignity of the place.
The operas succeed pretty well; and music has so much
recovered its power of charming that there is started up a
burletta at Covent Garden,(448) that has half the vogue of the
old Beggar's Opera: indeed there is a soubrette, called the
Niccolina, who, besides being pretty, has more vivacity and
variety of humour than ever existed in any creature.
(438) Mr. Bentley was now in the island of Jersey; whither he
had retired on account of the derangement of his affairs, and
whither all the following letters are addressed to him.
(439) A nurseryman at Twickenham. He had served Pope. Mr.
Walpole telling him he Would have his trees planted
irregularly, he said, "Yes, Sir, I understand: you would have
them hung down somewhat poetical."
(440) Frederick King of Prussia, nephew to George II. Mr.
Walpole alludes to himself, who was upon bad terms with his
uncle Horace Walpole, afterwards Lord Walpole of Wolterton.
(441) Alluding to the disturbances and opposition to
government, which took place in Ireland during the viceroyalty
of Lionel Duke of Dorset.
(442) In framing the act for the purchase of the Sloane Museum
and the Harleian Manuscripts by lottery Mr. Pelham, who
disapproved of this financial expedient, as tending to foster a
spirit of gambling, had taken care to restrict the number of
tickets to be sold to any single individual. Notwithstanding
which, Mr. Leheup, one of the commissioners of the lottery, had
sold to one person, under names which he knew to be fictitious,
between two and three hundred tickets. The subject was brought
before the House of Commons, where a series of resolutions was
passed against Mr. Leheup, accompanied by an address to the
King, praying that the offender might be prosecuted. The
result was, that he was prosecuted by the Attorney-general, and
fined one thousand pounds.-E.
(443) Mr. Walpole had given this Chinese name to a pond of gold
fish at Strawberry Hill.
(444) A Swiss servant of Erasmus Shorter's, maternal uncle to
Mr. Walpole, who was not without suspicion of having hastened
his master's death.
(445) The Countesses of Thanet and Burlington were sisters.
(446) The Analysis of Beauty.
(447) "The Ruins of Palmyra, otherwise Tadmor in the Desert,"
by Robert Wood, Esq.; a splendid volume in folio, with a number
of elegant engravings. In 1757, Mr. Wood published a similar
description of the "Ruins of Balbec."-E.
(448) Harlequin Sorcerer.-E.
191 Letter 90
To Sir Horace Mann.
Arlington Street, Jan. 28, 1754.
Her Serene Highness, the great Duchess Bianca Capello,(449) is
arrived safe at a palace lately taken for her in Arlington
Street. She has been much visited by the quality and gentry,
and pleases universally by the graces of her person and
comeliness of her deportment--my dear child, this is the least
that the newspapers would say of the charming Bianca. I, who
feel all the agreeableness of your manner, must say a great
deal more, or should say a great deal more, but I can only
commend the picture enough, not you. The head is painted equal
to Titian; and though done, I suppose, after the 'clock had
struck five-and-thirty, yet she retains a great share of
beauty. I have bespoken a frame for her, with the grand-ducal
coronet at top, her story on a label at bottom, which Gray is
to compose in Latin, as short and expressive as Tacitus, (one
is lucky when one can bespeak and have executed such an
inscription!) the Medici arms on one side, and the Capello's on
the other. I must tell you a critical discovery of mine
apropos: in an old book of Venetian arms, there are two coats
of Capello, who from their name bear a hat; on one of them is
added a fleur-de-lis on a blue ball, which I am persuaded was
given to the family by the Great Duke, in consideration of this
alliance; the Medicis, you know, bore such a badge at the top
of their own arms. This discovery I made by a talisman, which
Mr. Chute calls the Sortes Walpolianae, by which I find every
thing I want, `a pointe nomm`ee, whenever I dip for it. This
discovery, indeed, is almost of that kind which I call
Serendipity, a very expressive word, which, as I have nothing
better to tell you, I shall endeavour to explain to you: you
will understand it better by the derivation than by the
definition. I once read a silly fairy tale, called "The Three
Princes of Serendip;" as their Highnesses travelled, they were
always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things
which they were not in quest of: for instance, one of them
discovered that a mule blind of the right eye had travelled the
same road lately, because the grass was eaten only on the left
side, where it was worse than on the right--now do you
understand Serendipity? One of the most remarkable instances of
this accidental Sagacity, (for you must observe that no
discovery of a thing you are looking for comes under this
description,) was of my Lord Shaftsbury, who, happening to dine
at Lord Chancellor Clarendon's, found out the marriage of the
Duke of York and Mrs. Hyde, by the respect with which her
mother treated her at table. I will send you the inscription
in my next letter; you see I endeavour to grace your present as
Your brother would have me say something of my opinion about
your idea of taking the name of Guise;(450) but he has written
so fully that I can only assure you in addition, that I am
stronger even than he is against it, and cannot allow of your
reasoning on families, because, however families may be
prejudiced about them, and however foreigners (I mean, great
foreigners) here may have those prejudices too, vet they never
operate here, where there is any one reason to counterbalance
them. A minister who has the least disposition to promote a
creature of his, and to set aside a Talbot or a Nevil, will at
one breath puff away a genealogy that would reach from hence to
Herenhausen. I know a great foreigner, who always says that my
Lord Denbigh is the best gentleman in England, because he is
descended from the old Counts of Hapsburg; and yet my Lord
Denbigh, (and though he is descended from what one should think
of much more consequence here, the old Counts of Denbigh,) has
for many years wanted a place or a pension, as much as if he
were only what I think the first Count of Hapsburg was, the
Emperor's butler. Your instance of the Venetians refusing to
receive Valenti can have no weight: Venice might bully a Duke
of Mantua, but what would all her heralds signify against a
British envoy? In short, what weight do you think family has
here, when the very last minister whom we have despatched is
Sir James Gray,--nay, and who has already been in a public
character at Venice! His father was first a box-keeper, and
then footman to James the Second; and this is the man exchanged
against the Prince de San Severino! One of my father's maxims
was quieta non movere; and he was a wise man in that his day.
My dear child, if you will suffer me to conclude with a pun,
content yourself with your Manhood and Tuscany: it would be
thought injustice to remove you from thence for any body else:
when once you shift about, you lose the benefit of
prescription, and subject yourself to a thousand accidents. I
speak very seriously; I know the carte du pais.
We have no news: the flames in Ireland are stifled, I don't say
extinguished, by adjourning the Parliament, which is to be
prorogued. A catalogue of dismissions was sent over thither,
but the Lord Lieutenant durst not venture to put them in
execution. We are sending a strong squadron to the East
Indies, which may possibly bring back a war with France,
especially as we are going to ask money of our Parliament for
the equipment. We abound in diversions, which flourish
exceedingly on the demise of politics. There are no less than
five operas every week, three of which are burlettas; a very
bad company, except the Niccolina, who beats all the actors and
actresses I ever saw for vivacity and variety. We had a good
set four years ago, which did not take at all; but these being
at the playhouse, and at play prices, the people, instead of
resenting it, as was expected, are transported with them, call
them their own operas, and I will not swear that they do not
take them for English operas. They huzzaed the King twice the
other night, for bespeaking one on the night of the Haymarket
I am glad you are aware of Miss Pitt: pray continue your
awaredom: I assure you, before she set out for Italy, she was
qualified to go any Italian length of passion. Her very first
slip was with her eldest brother: and it is not her fault that
she has not made still blacker trips. Never mention this, and
forget it as soon as she is gone from Florence. Adieu!
(449) Bianca Capello was the daughter of a noble Venetian. She
had been seduced and carried off from her father's house by a
young Florentine of low origin, named Peter Bonaventuri. They
came to Florence, where she became the mistress of the Grand
Duke of Tuscany, Francis of Medicis. He was very anxious to
have a child by her; upon which she pretended to be brought to
bed of a son, who had in reality been bought of one of the
lower orders. He was called Don Anthony of Medicis. In order
to prevent the Grand Duke from discovering her fraud, Bianca
caused several of the persons who had had a part in the
deception to be assassinated. At length the wife of Francis,
the Archduchess Joan of Austria, died in childbed; and Bianca
intrigued so successfully, that she persuaded her lover to
marry her. Her marriage with the Grand Duke took place on the
12th of October, 1579, and was so sumptuous that it cost one
hundred thousand Florentine ducats. Her tyranny and rapacity
soon made her universally hated. She is supposed, as well as
her husband, to have died by poison, administered to them
through the means of his brother, the Cardinal Ferdinand of
Medicis, who succeeded him as Grand I)uke.-D.
(451) Mr. Mann's mother was an heiress of that house.
194 Letter 91
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Arlington Street, March 2, 1754.
After calling two or three times without finding him, I wrote
yesterday to Lord Granville,' and received a most gracious
answer, but desiring to see me. I went. He repeated all your
history with him, and mentioned your vivacity at parting;
however, consented to give you the apartment, with great good
humour, and said he would write to his bailiff; and added,
laughing, that he had an old cross housekeeper, who had
regularly quarrelled with all his grantees. It is well that
some of your desires, though unfortunately the most trifling,
depend on me alone, as those at least are sure of being
executed. By Tuesday's coach there will go to Southampton two
orange trees, two Arabian jasmines, some tuberose roots, and
plenty of cypress seeds, which last I send you in lieu of the
olive trees, none of which are yet come over.
The weather grows fine, and I have resumed little flights to
Strawberry. I carried George Montagu thither, who was in
raptures, and screamed, and hooped and hollaed, and danced, and
crossed himself a thousand times over. He returns to-morrow to
Greatworth, and I fear will give himself up entirely to country
squirehood. But what will you say to greater honour which
Strawberry has received? Nolkejumskoi(453) has been to see it,
and liked the windows and staircase. I can't conceive how he
entered it. I should have figured him like Gulliver cutting
down some of the largest oaks in Windsor Forest to make
joint-stools, in order to straddle over the battlements and
peep in at the windows of Lilliput. I can't deny myself this
reflection (even though he liked Strawberry,) as he has not
employed you as an architect.
Still there is little news. To-day it is said that Lord George
Sackville is summoned in haste from Ireland, where the grand
juries are going to petition for the resitting Of the
Parliament. Hitherto they have done nothing but invent
satirical healths, which I believe gratify a taste more
peculiar to Ireland than politics, drinking. We have had one
Considerable day in the House of Commons here. Lord Egmont, in
a very long and fine speech, opposed a new Mutiny-bill for the
troops going to the East Indies (which I believe occasioned the
reports with you of an approaching war.) Mr. Conway got
infinite reputation by a most charming speech in answer to him,
in which he displayed a system of military learning, which was
at once new, striking and entertaining.(454) I had carried
Monsieur de Gisors thither, who began to take notes of all I
explained to him: but I begged he would not; for, the question
regarding French politics, I concluded the Speaker would never
have done storming at the Gaulls collecting intelligence in the
very senate-house. Lord Holderness made a magnificent ball for
these foreigners last week: there were a hundred and forty
people, and most stayed supper. Two of my Frenchmen learnt
country-dances, and succeeded very well. T'other night they
danced minuets for the entertainment of the King at the
masquerade; and then he sent for Lady Coventry to dance: it was
quite like Herodias-and I believe if he had offered her a boon,
she would have chosen the head of St. John--I believe I told
you of her passion for the young Lord Bolingbroke.
Dr. Mead is dead, and his collection going to be sold. I fear
I have not virtue enough to resist his miniatures. I shall be
I shall tell you a new instance of the Sortes Walpolianae: I
lately bought an old volume of pamphlets; I found at the end a
history of the Dukes of Lorrain, and with that an account of a
series of their medals, of which, says the author, there are
but two sets in England. It so happens that I bought a set
above ten years ago at Lord Oxford's sale; and on examination I
found the Duchess, wife of Duke Ren`e,(456) has a headdress,
allowing for being modernized, as the medals are modern, which
is evidently the same with that figure in my Marriage of Henry
VI. which I had imagined was of her. It is said to be taken
from her tomb at Angiers; and that I might not decide too
quickly en connoisseur, I have sent to Angiers for a draught of
Poor Mr. Chute was here yesterday, the first going out after a
confinement of thirteen weeks; but he is pretty well. We have
determined upon the plan for the library, which we find will
fall in exactly with the proportions of the room, with no
variations from the little door-case of St. Paul's, but
widening the larger arches. I believe I shall beg your
assistance again about the chimney-piece and ceiling; but I can
decide nothing till I have been again at Strawberry. Adieu! my
(452) John Earl Granville, then secretary of state, had an
estate in Jersey.
(453) The Duke of Cumberland.-E.
(454) Mr. Conway's speech will be found in the Parliamentary
History, vol. xv. p. 282. The object of the bill was to extend
the operation of the Mutiny act to the troops in the service of
the East India Company. This question was strongly combated,
on constitutional grounds, as conferring on a trading body
powers which ought to be viewed with jealousy, when vested even
in the head of the state. The second reading was carried by
245 against 50.-E.
(455) Dr. Mead's pictures were chosen with so much judgment,
that at the sale of them in this month, they produced 3,417
pounds, 11 shillings, nearly seven hundred pounds more than he
gave for them.-E.
(456) Duke of Anjou, father of the unfortunate Margaret of
Anjou, Queen of Henry the Sixth of England.-E.
196 Letter 92
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Arlington Street, March 6, 1754.
My dear Sir,
You will be surprised at my writing again so very soon; but
unpleasant as it is to be the bearer of ill news,(457) I
flattered myself that you would endure it better from me, than
to be shocked with it from an indifferent hand, who would not
have the same management for your tenderness and delicacy as I
naturally shall, who always feel for you, and on this occasion
with you! You are very unfortunate: you have not many real
friends, and you lose--for I must tell it you, the chief of
them! indeed, the only one who could have been of real use to
you--for what can I do, but wish, and attempt, and miscarry?-
-or from whom could I have hoped assistance for you, or warmth
for myself and my friends, but from the friend I have this
morning lost?--But it is too selfish to be talking of our
losses, when Britain, Europe, the world, the King, Jack
Roberts,(458) Lord Barnard, have lost their guardian angel.
What are private misfortunes to the affliction of one's
country? or how inglorious is an Englishman to bewail himself,
when a true patriot should be acting for the good of mankind!-
-Indeed, if it is possible to feel any comfort, it is from
seeing how many true Englishmen, how many true Scotchmen are
zealous to replace the loss, and snatch at the rudder of the
state, amidst this storm and danger! Oh! my friend, how will
your heart glow with melancholy admiration, when I tell you,
that even the poor Duke of Newcastle himself conquers the
torrent of his grief, and has promised Mrs. Betty Spence,(459)
and Mr. Griham the apothecary, that, rather than abandon
England to its evil genius, he will even submit to be lord
treasurer himself? My Lord Chancellor, too, is said to be
willing to devote himself in the same manner for the good of
his country. Lord Hartington(460) is the most inconsolable of
all; and when Mrs. Molly Bodens(461) and Mrs. Garrick were
entreated by some of the cabinet council to ask him whom he
wished to have minister, the only answer they could draw from
him was, "a Whig! a Whig!" As for Lord B. I may truly say, he
is humbled and licks the dust; for his tongue, which never used
to hang below the waistband of his breeches, is now dropped
down to his shoe-buckles; and had not Mr. Stone assured him
that if the worst came to the worst, they could but make their
fortunes under another family, I don't know whether he would
not have despaired of the commonwealth. But though I sincerely
pity so good a citizen, I cannot help feeling most for poor
Lord Holderness, who sees a scheme of glory dashed which would
have added new lustre to the British annals and have
transmitted the name D'Arcy down to latest posterity. He had
but just taken Mr. Mason the poet into his house to write his
deserts; and he had just reason to expect that the secretary's
office would have gained a superiority over that of France and
Italy, which was unknown even to Walsingham.
I had written thus far, and perhaps should have elegized on for
a page or two further, when Harry, who has no idea of the
dignity of grief, blundered in, with satisfaction in his
countenance, and thrust two packets from you into my hand.-
-Alas! he little knew that I was incapable of tasting any
satisfaction but in the indulgence of my concern.--I was once
going to commit them to the devouring flames, lest any light or
vain sentence should tempt me to smile but my turn for true
philosophy checked my hand, and made me determine to prove that
I could at once launch into the bosom of pleasure and be
insensible to it.-I have conquered; I have read your letters,
and yet I think of nothing but Mr. Pelham's death! Could Lady
Catherine(462) do thus @ Could she receive a love-letter from
Mr. Brown, and yet think only on her breathless Lord?
I wrote the above last night, and have stayed as late as I
could this evening, that I might be able to tell you who the
person is in whom all the world is to discover the proper
qualities for replacing the national loss. But, alas! the
experience of two @,whole days has showed that the misfortune
is irreparable; and I don't know whether the elegies on his
death will not be finished before there be any occasion for
congratulations to his successor. The mystery is profound.
How shocking it will be if things should go on just as they
are! I mean by that, how mortifying if it is discovered, that
when all the world thought Mr. Pelham did and could alone
maintain the calm and carry on the government, even he was not
necessary, and that it was the calm and the government that
carried on themselves! However, this is not my opinion.--I
believe all this will make a party.(453)
Good night! here are two more new plays: Constantine,(464) the
better of them, expired the fourth night at Covent-garden.
Virginia,(465) by Garrick's acting and popularity, flourishes
still: he has written a remarkably good epilogue to it. Lord
Bolingbroke is come forth in five pompous quartos, two and a
half new and most unorthodox.(466) Warburton is resolved to
answer, and the bishops not to answer him. I have not had a
moment to look into it. Good night!
(457) This is an ironic letter on the death of Henry Pelham,
first lord of the treasury and chancellor of the exchequer,
with whom Mr. Walpole was on ill terms.
(458) John Roberts, Esq. secretary to Mr. Pelham.
(459) Companion to the Duchess of Newcastle. [This lady was
related to the Rev. Joseph Spence, author of "Polymetis." She
died in 1764, after being the friend and companion of the
Duchess of Newcastle for more than forty-five years.]
(460) William, afterwards fourth Duke of Devonshire.
(461) Companion of Lady Burlington, Lord Hartington's
(462) Lady Catherine Pelham, the widow of Mr. Pelham.-E.
(463) Mr. Walpole, when young, loved faction; and Mr. Bentley
one day saying, " that he believed certain opinions would make
a sect," Mr. W. said eagerly, "Will they make a party?"
(464) "Constantine," a tragedy was written by the Rev. Philip
Francis, the translator of Horace and Demosthenes, and father
of Sir Philip Francis, the reputed author of the Letters of
Junius. He also wrote "Eugenia," a tragedy; but as a dramatic
author he was not very successful.-E.
(465) "Virginia" was written by Henry Crisp, a clerk in the
Custom-house. It was acted at Drury Lane with some success;
owing chiefly to the excellence of the performers.-E.
(466) A splendid edition of Lord Bolingbroke's Works, in five
volumes, quarto, having been published on the very day of Mr.
Pelham's death, Garrick wrote an ode on the occasion, which
contains the following stanza:-
"The same sad morn, to Church and State
(So for our sins 'twas fix'd by fate)
A double shock was given:
Black as the regions of the North,
St. John's fell genius issued forth,
And Pelham's fled to heaven!"
It was upon the appearance of this edition of Lord
Bolingbroke's works, edited by David Mallet, that Dr. Johnson
pronounced this memorable sentence upon both author and
editor:--"Sir, he was a scoundrel and a coward; a scoundrel,
for charging a blunderbuss against religion and morality; a
coward, because he had no resolution to fire it off himself,
but left half-a-crown to a beggarly Scotchman to draw the
trigger after his death."-E.
198 Letter 93
To Sir Horace Mann.
Arlington Street, March 7, 1754.
You will little have expected, my dear Sir, the great event
that happened yesterday. Mr. Pelham(467) is dead! all that
calm, that supineness, of which I have lately talked to you so
much, is at an end! there is no heir to such luck as his. The
whole people of England can never agree a second time upon the
same person for the residence of infallibility; and though so
many have found their interest in making Mr. Pelham the
fermier-general for their Venality, yet almost all have found
too, that it lowered their prices to have but one purchaser.
He could not have died at a more critical time: all the
elections were settled, all bargains made, and much money
advanced: and by the way, though there never was so little a
party, or so little to be made by a seat in Parliament, either
with regard to profit or fame, there never was such established
bribery, or so profuse. And as every thing was settled by his
life, so every thing is thrown into confusion by his death: the
difficulty Of naming, or of who should name the successor, is
almost insurmountable--for you are not such a transmontane as
to imagine that the, person who must sign the warrant will have
the filling it up. The three apparent candidates are Fox,
Pitt, and Murray; all three -with such encumbrances on their
hopes as make them very desperate. The Chancellor hates Fox;
the Duke of Newcastle does not (I don't say, love him, but to
speak in the proper phrase, does not) pretend to love him: the
Scotch abominate him, and they and the Jacobites make use of
his connexion with the Duke to represent him as formidable: the
Princess cannot approve him for the same reason: the law, as in
duty bound to the Chancellor and to Murray, and to themselves,
whom he always attacks, must dislike him. He has his parts and
the Whigs, and the seeming right of succession. Pitt has no
health, no party, and has, what in this case is allowed to
operate, the King's negative. Murray is a Scotchman, and it
has been suspected, of the worst dye: add a little of the
Chancellor's jealousy--all three are obnoxious to the
probability of the other two being disobliged by a preference.
There is no doubt but the Chancellor and the Duke of Newcastle
will endeavour to secure their own power, by giving an
exclusion to Fox: each of them has even been talked of for Lord
Treasurer; I say talked of, though Mr. Pelham died but
yesterday; but you can't imagine how much a million of people
can talk in a day on such a subject! It was even much imagined
yesterday, that Sir George Lee would be the Hulla, to wed the
post, till things are ripe for divorcing him again: he is an
unexceptionable man, sensible, of good character, the
ostensible favourite of the Princess, and obnoxious to no set
of men: for though he changed ridiculously quick on the
Prince's death, yet as every body changed with him, it offended
nobody; and what is a better reason for promoting him now, it
would offend nobody to turn him out again.
In this buzz is all the world at present: as the plot thickens
or opens, you shall hear more. In the mean time you will not
dislike to know a little of the circumstances of this death.
Mr. Pelham was not sixty-one; his florid, healthy constitution
promised long life, and his uninterrupted good fortune as long
power; yet the one hastened his end, and the other was enjoyed
in its full tranquillity but three poor years! i should not
say, enjoyed, for such was his peevishness and suspicions, that
the lightest trifles could poison all that stream of happiness!
he was careless of his health, most intemperate in eating, and
used no exercise. All this had naturally thrown him into a
most scorbutic habit, for which last summer he went to
Scarborough, but stayed there only a month, which would not
have cleansed a scorbutic kitten. The sea-air increased his
appetite, and his flatterers pampered it at their seats on the
road. He returned more distempered, and fell into a succession
of boils, fevers, and St. Anthony's fire--indeed, I think, into
such a carbuncular state of blood as carried off my brother.
He had recovered enough to come to the House of Commons; and
last Friday walked in the Park till he put himself into an
immense sweat; in that sweat he stood at a window to look at
horses, ate immoderately at dinner, relapsed at six that
evening, and died yesterday morning (Wednesday) a quarter
before six. His will was to be opened to-day; he is certainly
dead far from rich.(468) There arc great lamentations, some
joy, some disappointments, and much expectation. As a person
who loves to write history, better than to act in it, you will
easily believe that I confine my sensations on the occasion
chiefly to observation-at least, my care that posterity may
know all about it prevents my indulging any immoderate (grief;
consequently I am as well as can be expected, and ever yours,
(467) Henry Pelham, chancellor of the exchequer, and first
commissioner of the treasury; only brother of Thomas Duke of
(468) Walpole, almost the only author who has treated the
memory of Mr. Pelham with disrespect, mentions to his honour,
that he "lived without abusing his power, and died poor." See
Memoires, vol. i. p. 332. By this expression, says Coxe, the
reader will be reminded of a curious coincidence in the
concluding lines of the eulogium inscribed on the base of Mr.
Pitt's statue, by his friend and pupil, the Right Honourable
George Canning, "Dispensing, for more than twenty years, the
favours of the crown, he lived without ostentation, and he died
200 Letter 94
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Arlington Street, March 14, 1754.
In the confusion of things, I last week hazarded a free letter
to you by the common post. The confusion is by no means
ceased. However, as some circumstances may have rendered a
desire of intelligence necessary, I send this by the coach,
with the last volume of Sir Charles Grandison, for its
After all the world has been named for chancellor of the
exchequer, and my Lord Chief Justice Lee, who is no part of the
world, really made so pro tempore; Lord Hartington went to
notify to Mr. Fox, that the cabinet council having given it as
their unanimous opinion to the King, that the Duke of Newcastle
should be at the head of the treasury, and he (Mr. Fox)
secretary of state with the management of the House of Commons;
his grace, who had submitted to so oracular a sentence, hoped
Mr. Fox would not refuse to concur in so salutary a measure;
and assured him, that Though the Duke would reserve the sole
disposition of the secret service-money, his grace would bestow
his entire confidence on Mr. Fox, and acquaint him with the
most minute details of that service. Mr. Fox bowed and obeyed-
-and, as a preliminary step, received the Chancellor's(469)
absolution. From thence he attended his--and our new master.
But either grief for his brother's death, or joy for it, had so
intoxicated the new maitre du palais, that he would not ratify
any one of the conditions he had imposed: and though my Lord
Hartington's virtue interposed, and remonstrated on the purport
of the message he had carried, the Duke persisted in assuming
the whole and undivided power himself, and left Mr. Fox no
choice, but of obeying or disobeying, as he might choose. This
produced the next day a letter from Mr. Fox, carried by Lord
Hartington, in which he refused secretary of state, and pinned
down the lie with which the new ministry is to commence. It
was tried to be patched up at the Chancellor's on Friday night,
though ineffectually: and yesterday morning Mr. Fox in an
audience desired to remain secretary at war. The Duke
immediately kissed hands-declared, in the most unusual manner,
universal minister. Legge was to be chancellor of the
exchequer: but I can't tell whether that disposition will hold,
as Lord Duplin is proclaimed the acting favourite. The German
Sir Thomas Robinson was thought on for the secretary's seals;
but has just sense enough to be unwilling to accept them under
so ridiculous an administration. This is the first act of the
On Friday this august remnant of the Pelhams went to court for
the first time. At the foot of the stairs he cried and sunk
down: the yeomen of the guard were forced to drag him up under
the arms. When the closet-door opened, he flung himself at his
length at the King's feet, sobbed, and cried "God bless your
Majesty! God preserve your Majesty," and lay there howling and
embracing the King's knees, with one foot so extended, that
Lord Coventry, who was luckily in waiting, and begged the
standers-by to retire with "For God's sake, gentlemen, don't
look at a great man in distress," endeavouring to shut the
door, caught his grace's foot, and made him roar out with pain.
You can have no notion of what points of ceremony have been
agitated about the ears of the family. George Selwyn was told
that my Lady Catharine had not shed one tear: "And pray," said
he, "don't she intend it?" It is settled that Mrs. Watson is
not to cry till she is brought-to-bed.
You love George Selwyn's bon-mots: this crisis has redoubled
them: here is one of his best. My Lord Chancellor is to be
Earl of Clarendon--"Yes," said Selwyn, from the very summit of
the whites of his demure eyes; "and I suppose he will get the
title of Rochester for his son-in-law, my Lord Anson." Do you
think he will ever lose the title of Lord Rochester?
I expected that we should have been overrun with elegies and
panegyrics: indeed, I comforted myself, that one word in all of
them would atone for the rest--the late Mr. Pelham. But the
world seems to allow that their universal attachment and
submission was universal interestedness; there has not been
published a single encomium. Orator Henley alone has held
forth in his praise:-yesterday it was on charming Lady
Catherine. Don't you think it should have been in these words,
in his usual style? Oratory-chapel,--Right reason; madness;
charming Lady Catherine; hell fire," etc.
Monday, March 18.
Almost as extraordinary news as our political, is, that it has
snowed ten days successively, and most part of each day: it is
living in Muscovy, amid ice and revolutions: I hope lodgings
will begin to let a little dear in Siberia! Beckford and
Delaval, two celebrated partisans, met lately at Shaftesbury,
where they oppose one another: the latter said:
"Art thou the man whom men famed Beckford call?"
"Art thou the much more famous Delaval?"
But to leave politics and change of ministries, and to come to
something of real consequence, I must apply you to my library
ceiling, of which I send you some rudiments. I propose to have
it all painted by Clermont; the principal part in chiaro scuro,
on the design which you drew for the Paraclete: but as that
pattern would be surfeiting, so often repeated in an extension
of twenty feet by thirty, I propose to break and enliven it by
compartments in colours, according to the enclosed sketch,
which you must adjust and dimension. Adieu!
(469) With whom he was at variance.
'202 Letter 95
To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, March 19, 1754.
You will live in the country, and then you are amazed that
people use you ill. Don't mistake me: I don't mean that you
deserve to be ill-treated for living in the country; at least
only by those who love and miss you; but if you inhabited the
town a little, you would not quite so much expect uprightness,
nor be so surprised at ingratitude, and . neglect. I am far
from disposed to justify the great C`u; but when you had
declined being his servant, do you wonder that he will not
serve your friends! I will tell you what, if the news of to-day
holds at all, which is what no one piece of news of this last
fortnight has done, you may be worse used by your cousin as
soon as you please; for he is one of the first upon the list
for secretary of state, in the room of the Duke of Newcastle.
Now again, are you such a rusticated animal as to suppose that
the Duke is dismissed for inability, on the death of his
brother. So far from it, it is already certainly known that it
was he who supported Mr. Pelham, and the impediments and rubs
thrown in the way of' absolute power long ago were the effects
of the latter's timidity and irresolution. The Duke, freed
from that clog, has declared himself sole minister, and the
King has kissed his hand upon it. Mr. Fox, who was the only
man in England that objected to this plan, is to be sent to a
prison which is building on the coast of Sussex, after the
model of Fort l'Ev`eque, under the direction of Mr. Taaffe.
Harry Legge is to be chancellor of the exchequer, but the
declared favour rests on Lord Duplin. Sir George Lyttelton is
to be treasurer of the navy. The parliament is to be dissolved
on the fourth of next month: till when, I suppose, none of the
changes will take place. These are the politics of the day;
but as they are a little fluctuating, notwithstanding the
steadiness of the new first minister, I will not answer that
they will hold true to Greatworth: nothing lasts now but the
I went two days ago, with Lady Ailesbury, and Mr. Conway, and
Miss Anne, to hear the rehearsal of Mrs. Clive's new farce,
which is very droll, with pretty music.
202 Letter 96
To Sir Horace Mann.
Arlington Street, March 28, 1754.
I promised to write to you again soon, and therefore I do: that
Is, I stick to the letter, not to the essence; for I not Only
have very little to write, but your brother has, I believe,
already told you all that has happened. Mr. Fox received
almost at once a testimonial that he was the most proper for
minister, and a proof that he was not to be so. He on the
Tuesday consented to be secretary of state, with the management
of the House of Commons, and the very next day refused to be
the former, as he found he was not to have the latter. He
remains secretary at war, in rupture with the Duke of
Newcastle, (who, you know, has taken the treasury,) but
declaring against opposition. That Duke is omnipotent; and, to
show that power, makes use of nothing but machines. Sir Thomas
Robinson is secretary of state; Mr. Legge, chancellor of the
exchequer; Lord Duplin,(470) the agent of business.(471)
Yesterday an odd event happened: Lord Gower resigned the privy
seal: it had been for some time promised to the Duke of
Rutland,(472) who having been reported dead, and who really
having voided a quarry of stones, is come to town; and his
brother, a Lord William Manners, better known in the
groom-porter's annals than in those of Europe, and the whole
Manners family having intimated to the Duke of Newcastle that
unless Lord Gower was dismissed in a month, and the Duke of
Rutland instated in his place, they would oppose the prosperous
dawn of the new ministry, that poor Earl, who is inarticulate
with the palsy, has been drawn into a resignation, and is the
first sacrifice to the spirit of the new administration.(473)
You will very likely not understand such politics as these, but
they are the best we have.
Our old good-humoured friend Prince Craon is dead; don't you
think that the Princess will not still despair of looking well
in weeds! My Lord Orford's grandmother(474) is dead too; and
after her husband's death, (whose life, I believe, she has long
known to be not worth a farthing,) has left every thing to her
grandson. This makes me very happy, for I had apprehended,
from Lord Orford's indolence and inattention, and from his
mother's cunning and attention, that she would have wriggled
herself into the best clause in the will; but she is not
mentioned in it, and the Houghton pictures may still be saved.
Adieu! my dear Sir; I don't call this a letter, but a codicil
to my last: one can't write volumes on trifling events.
(470 Eldest son of William Hay, Earl of Kinnoul.
(471) For an account of the political changes which took place
upon the death of Mr. Pelham, see Lord Dover's Preface to these
Letters, vol. i. p. 29.-E.
(472) John Manners, third Duke of Rutland, the father of the
more celebrated Lord Granby. He died in 1779, at the age of
(473) The Duke of Rutland did not succeed to the privy seal;
but Charles Spencer, second Duke of Marlborough.-D.
(474) Margaret Tuckfield, second wife of Samuel Rolle, of
Haynton in Devonshire; by whom she was mother of Margaret
Countess of Orford, and afterwards married to John Harris, of
Hayne in Devonshire, master of the household to the King.
204 Letter 97
To Sir Horace Mann.
Strawberry Hill, April 24, 1754.
Before I received your letter of March 29th, I had already told
you the state of our politics, as they seemed fixed--at least
for the present. The Duke of Newcastle is alone and all
powerful, and, I suppose, smiles at those who thought that we
must be governed by a succession of geniuses. I don't know
whether there arc not more parts in governing without genius!-
-be it as it will, all the world acquiesces: he has placed all
the orators in whatever offices they demanded, and the New
Parliament, which is almost chosen, will not probably
degenerate from the complaisance of its predecessor. Which of
the popes was it, who being chosen for his insufficience, said,
"I could not have believed that it was so easy to govern!" You
will forgive my smiling in my turn at your begging me to lay
aside family considerations, and tell you if I do not think my
uncle the fittest subject for a first minister. My dear child,
you have forgot that three years are past since I so totally
laid aside all family considerations, as not to speak or even
bow to my uncle. Since the affair of Lord Orford and Miss
Nichol], I have not had the least intercourse with the
Pigwiggin branch; and should be very sorry if there were any
person in the world but you, and my uncle himself, who thought
him proper for minister.
I believe there is no manner of intention of sending Lord
Albemarle to Ireland: the style toward that island is extremely
lofty; and after some faint proposals of giving them some
agreeable governor, violent measures have been resumed: the
Speaker is removed from being chancellor of the exchequer, more
of his friends are displaced, and the Primate, with the
Chancellor and Lord Besborough, are again nominated lords
Justices. These measures must oppress the Irish spirit, or,
what is more likely, inflame it to despair. Lord Rochford
certainly returns to Turin. General Wall, who was in the
highest favour here, and who was really grown fond of England-
-not at all to the prejudice of doing us what hurt he could in
his public character, is recalled, to succeed Don Carvalho and
Lancaster, as secretary of state for foreign affairs. If he
regrets England too much, may not he think of taking Ireland in
his way back?
I shall fill up the remainder of an empty letter with
transcribing some sentences which have diverted me in a very
foolish vulgar book of travels, lately published by one
Drummond,(475) consul at Aleppo. Speaking of Florence, he
says, that the very evening of his arrival, he was carried by
Lord Eglinton and some other English, whom he names, to your
house: "Mr. Mann" (these are his words) "is extremely Polite,
and I do him barely justice in saying he is a fine gentleman,
though indeed this is as much as can be said of any person
whatever; yet there are various ways of distinguishing the
qualities that compose this amiable character, and of these,
he, in my opinion, possesses the most agreeable. He lives in a
fine palace; all the apartments on the ground-floor, which is
elegantly furnished, were lighted up; and the garden was a
little epitome of Vauxhall. These conversationi resemble our
card-assemblies;" (this is called writing travels, to observe
that an assembly is like an assembly!) "and this was remarkably
brilliant, for all the married ladies of fashion in Florence
were present; yet were they as much inferior to the fair part
of a British assembly, especially those of York and Edinburgh,
as a crew of female Laplanders are to the fairest dames of
Florence. Excuse this sally, which is more warm than just; for
even this assembly was not without a few lovely creatures.
Some played at cards, some passed the time in conversation;
others walked from place to place; and many retired with their
gallants into gloomy corners, where they entertained each
other, but in what manner I will not pretend to say; though, if
I may depend upon my information, which, by-the-by, was very
good, their taste and mine would not at all agree. In a word,
these countries teem with more singularities than I choose to
mention." You will conclude I had very little to say when I
had recourse to the observations of such a simpleton; but I
thought they would divert you for a moment, as they did me.
One don't dislike to know what even an Aleppo factor would
write of one-and I can't absolutely dislike him, as he was not
insensible to your agreeableness. I don't believe Orpheus
would think even a bear ungenteel when it danced to his music.
(475) Alexander Drummond, Esq. The work was entitled "Travels
through different Cities of Germany, Italy, Greece, and several
parts of Asia, as far as the banks of the Euphrates."-.
205 Letter 98
To John Chute, Esq.
Arlington Street, April 30, 1754.
My God! Farinelli, what has this nation done to the King of
Spain, that the moment we have any thing dear and precious he
should tear it from us!-This is not the beginning of my letter
to you, nor does it allude to Mr. Bentley; much less is it
relative to the captivity of the ten tribes; nor does the King
signify Benhadad or Tiglath-pileser; nor Spain, Assyria, as Dr.
Pococke or Warburton, misled by dissimilitude of names, or by
the Septuagint, may, for very good reasons, imagine--but it is
literally the commencement of my lady Rich's(476) epistle to
Farinelli on the recall of General Wall, as she relates it
herself. It serves extremely well for my own lamentation, when
I sit down by the waters of Strawberry, and think of ye, O
Chute and Bentley!
I have seen "Creusa,"(477) and more than agree with you: it is
the only new tragedy that I ever saw and really liked. The
plot is most interesting, and, though so complicated quite
clear and natural. The circumstance of so much distress being
brought on by characters, every one good, yet acting
consistently with their principles towards the misfortunes of
the drama, is quite new and pleasing. Nothing offended me but
that lisping Miss Haughton, whose every speech is
I was last night at a little ball at Lady Anne Furnese's for
the new Lords, Dartmouth and North, but nothing passed worth
relating; indeed, the only event since you left London was the
tragicomedy that was acted last Saturday at the Opera. One of
the dramatic guards fell flat on his face and motionless in an
apoplectic fit. The Princess(478) and her children were there.
Miss Chudleigh, who apparemment had never seen a man fall on
his face before, went into the most theatric fit of kicking and
shrieking that ever was seen. Several other women, who were
preparing their fits, were so distanced that she had the whole
house to herself; and, indeed such a confusion for half an hour
I never saw! The next day, at my Lady Townshend's, old Charles
Stanhope asked what these fits were called? Charles Townshend
replied, "The true convulsive fits, to be had only of the
maker." Adieu! my dear Sir. To-day looks summerish, but we
have no rain yet.
(476) One of the daughters and coheiresses of the Lord Mohun,
killed in a duel with Duke Hamilton.
(477) William Whitehead's tragedy of "Creusa" was brought out
at Drury Lane theatre with considerable applause. Mrs.
Pritchard performed the character of Creusa with great effect;
and as Garrick and Mossop also took parts in it, the
performance was so perfect, that it was hardly possible for it
not to succeed in the representation; yet it has seldom been
(478) The Princess of Wales, mother to George the Third.-E.
]206 Letter 99
To John Chute, Esq.
Arlington Street, May 14, 1754.
My dear sir,
I wrote to you the last day of last month: I only mention it to
show you that I am- punctual to your desire. It is my only
reason for writing to-day, for I have nothing new to tell you.
The town is empty, dusty, and disagreeable; the country is cold
and comfortless; consequently I daily run from one to t'other',
as if both were so charming that I did not know which to
prefer. I am at present employed in no very lively manner, in
reading a treatise on commerce, which Count Perron has lent me,
of his own writing: this obliges me to go through with it,
though the subject and the style of the French would not engage
me much. It does not want sense.
T'other night a description was given me of the most
extraordinary declaration of love that ever was made. Have you
seen young Poniatowski?(479) he is very handsome. You have
seen the figure of the Duchess of Gordon,(480) who looks like a
raw-boned Scotch metaphysician that has got a red face by
drinking water. One day at the drawing-room, having never
spoken to him, she sent one of the foreign ministers to invite
Poniatowski to dinner with her for the next day. He bowed and
went. The moment the door opened, her two little sons, attired
like Cupids, with bows and arrows, shot at him; and one of them
literally hit his hair, and was very near putting his eye out,
and hindering his casting it to the couch
"Where she another sea-born Venus lay."
The only company besides this Highland goddess were two
Scotchmen, who could not speak a word of any language but their
own Erse; and to complete his astonishment at this allegorical
entertainment, with the dessert there entered a little horse,
and galloped round the table; a hieroglyphic I cannot solve.
Poniatowski accounts for this profusion of kindness by his
great-grandmother being a Gordon: but I believe it is to be
accounted for by * * * * Adieu! my dear Sir.
(479) Stanislaus, the ill-fated King of Poland.
(480) Lady Catherine Gordon, daughter of the Earl of Aberdeen,
widow of Cosmo Duke of Gordon, who died in 1752. She married,
secondly, Colonel Saates Morris.-E.
207 Letter 100
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Arlington Street, May 18, 1754.
My dear Sir,
Unless you will be exact in dating your letters, you will
occasion me much confusion. Since the undated one which I
mentioned in my last, I have received another as unregistered,
with the fragment of the rock, telling me of one which had set
sail on the 18th, I suppose of last month, and been driven
back: this I conclude was the former undated. Yesterday, I
received a longer, tipped with May 8th. You must submit to
this lecture, and I hope will amend by it. I cannot promise
that I shall correct myself much in the intention I had of
writing to you seldomer and shorter at this time of year. If
you could be persuaded how insignificant I think all I do, how
little important it is even to myself, you would not wonder
that I have not much empressement to give the detail of it to
any body else. Little excursions to Strawberry, little parties
to dine there, and many jaunts to hurry Bromwich, and the
carver, and Clermont, are my material occupations. Think of
sending these 'cross the sea!-The times produce nothing. there
is neither party, nor controversy, nor gallantry, nor fashion,
nor literature-the whole proceeds like farmers regulating
themselves, their business, their views, their diversions, by
the almanac. Mr. Pelham's death has scarce produced a change;
the changes in Ireland, scarce a murmur. Even in France the
squabbles of the parliament and clergy are under the same
opiate influence.--I don't believe that Mademoiselle Murphy
(who is delivered of a prince, and is lodged openly at
Versailles) and Madame Pompadour will mix the least grain of
ratsbane in one another's tea. I, who love to ride in the
whirlwind, cannot record the yawns of such an age!
The little that I believe you would care to know relating to
the Strawberry annals, is, that the great tower is finished on
the outside, and the whole whitened, and has a charming effect,
especially as the verdure of this year is beyond what I have
ever seen it: the grove nearest the house comes on much; you
know I had almost despaired of its ever making a figure. The
bow-window room over the supper-parlour is finished; hung with
a plain blue paper, with a chintz bed and chairs; my father and
mother over the chimney in the Gibbons frame, about which you
know we were in dispute what to do. I have fixed on black and
gold, and it has a charming effect over your chimney with the
two dropping points, which is executed exactly; and the old
grate of Henry VIII. which you bought, is within it. In each
panel around the room is a single picture; Gray's, Sir Charles
Williams's, and yours, in their black and gold frames; mine is
to match yours; and, on each side the doors, are the pictures
of Mr. Churchill and Lady Mary, with their son, on one side,
Mr. Conway and Lady Ailesbury on the other. You can't imagine
how new and pretty this furniture is.-I believe I must get you
to send me an attestation under your hand that you knew nothing
of it, that Mr. Rigby may allow that at least this one room was
by my own direction. - AS the library and great parlour grow
finished, you shall have exact notice.
>From Mabland(481) I have little news to send you, but that the
obelisk is danced from the middle of the rabbit-warren into his
neighbour's garden, and he pays a ground-rent for looking at it
there. His shrubs are hitherto unmolested, Et
MaryboniaCoS(482) gaudet revirescere lucos!
The town is as busy again as ever on the affair of Canning, who
has been tried for perjury. The jury would have brought her in
guilty of perjury, but not wilful, till the judge informed them
that that would rather be an Irish verdict: they then brought
her in simply guilty, but recommended her. In short, nothing
is discovered: the most general opinion is, that she was
robbed, but by some other gipsy. For my own part, I am not at
all brought to believe her story, nor shall, till I hear that
living seven-and-twenty days without eating is among @ one of
those secrets for doing impossibilities, which I suppose will
be at last found out, and about the time that I am dead, even
some art of living for ever.
You was in pain for me, and indeed I was in pain for myself, on
the prospect of the sale of Dr. Mead's miniatures. You may be
easy; it is more than I am quite; for it is come out that the
late Prince of Wales had bought them every one.
I have not yet had time to have your granite examined, but will
next week. If you have not noticed to your sisters any present
of Ormer shells, I shall contradict myself, and accept them for
my Lady Lyttelton,(483) who is making a grotto. As many as you
can send conveniently, and any thing for the same use, will be
very acceptable. You will laugh when I tell you, that I am
employed to reconcile Sir George and Moore;(484) the latter has
been very flippant, say impertinent, on the former's giving a
little place to Bower, in preference to him. Think of my being
The Parliament is to meet for a few days the end of this month,
to give perfection to the Regency-bill. If the King dies
before the end of this month, the old Parliament revives, which
would make tolerable confusion, considering what sums have been
laid out on seats in this. Adieu! This letter did not come
kindly; I reckon it rather extorted from me, and therefore hope
it will not amuse. However, I am in tolerable charity with
you, and yours ever.
(481) A cant name which Mr. Walpole had given to Lord Radnor's
whimsical house and grounds at Twickenham.
(482) Lord Radnor's garden was full of statues, etc. like that
at Marylebone. (gray, in a letter to Wharton, of the 13th of
August in this year says, "By all means see Lord Radnor's place
again. He is a simple old Phobus, but nothing can spoil so
glorious a situation, which surpasses every thing round it."
Works, vol. iii. p. 119.-E).
(483) Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Robert Rich, Bart. was the
second wife of George Lord Lyttelton. She was separated from
her husband and survived him many years.-E.
(484) Author of The World, and some plays and poems. Moore had
written in defence of lord Lyttelton against the Letters to the
Whigs; which were not known to be Walpole's.
209 Letter 101
To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, May 21, 1754.
I did not intend to write to you till after Thursday, when all
your Boscawens, Rices, and Trevors(485) are to dine at
Strawberry Hill; but an event has happened, of which I cannot
delay giving you the instant pleasurable notice: now will you,
according to your custom, be guessing, and, according to your
custom, guessing wrong; but lest you should from my spirits
make any undutiful or disloyal conjectures for me, know, that
the great C`eu(486) of the Vine is dead, and that John the
first was yesterday proclaimed undoubted Monarch. Nay,
champion Dimmock himself shall cut the throat of any Tracy,
Atkins, or Harrison, who shall dare to gainsay the legality of
his title. In' short, there is no more will than was left by
the late Erasmus Shorter of particular memory. I consulted
Madame Rice, and she advised my directing to you at Mrs.
Whettenhall's; to whom I beg as many compliments as if she
wrote herself "La blanche Whitnell." As many to your sister
Harriot and to your brother, who I hear is with you. I am
sure, though both you and I had reason to be peevish with the
poor tigress, that you grieve with me for her death. I do most
sincerely, and for her Bessy: the man-tiger will be so sorry,
that I am sure he will marry again to comfort himself. I am so
tired with letters I have written on this event, that I can
scarce hold the pen. How we shall wish for you on Thursday-and
shan't you be proud to cock your tail at the Vine? Adieu!
(485) The daughters of Mr. Montagu's uncle, John Morley Trevor,
of Glynd in Sussex; Anne, married to General Boscawen; Lucy,
married to Edward Rice, Esq.; and Miss Grace Trevor, who was
living at Bath in 1792.-E.
(486) Anthony Chute, Esq. of the Vine, Hants; who had been
member for Newport, Hants.-E.
210 Letter 102
To Sir Horace Mann.
Strawberry Hill, May 23, 1754.
Pray continue your M`emoires of the war of the Delmontis;(487)
I have received two tomes, and am delighted with them. The
French and Irish Parliaments proceed so heavily, that one
cannot expect to live to the setting up the first standard; and
it is so long since the world has furnished any brisk event,
that I am charmed with this little military entremets. My Lady
Orford will certainly wish herself at Florence again on the
behalf of her old friend:(488) I always wish myself there; and,
according to custom, she and I should not be of the same party:
I cannot help wishing well to the rebellious. You ask, whether
this Countess can deprive her son of her estate?-by no means,
but by another child, which, at her age, and after the variety
of experiments which she has made in all countries, I cannot
think very likely to happen. I sometimes think her succession
not very distant: she is very asthmatic. Her life is as
retired as ever, and passed entirely with her husband, who
seems a martyr to his former fame, and is a slave to her
jealousy. She has given up nothing to him, and pays such
attention to her affairs, that she will soon be vastly rich.
But I won't be talking of her wealth, when the chief purpose of
my writing to-night is, to announce the unexpected riches and
good fortune of our dear Mr. Chute, I say our dear Mr. Chute,
for though you have not reason to be content with him, yet I
know your unchangeable heart-and I know he is so good, that if
you will take this occasion to write him a line of joy, I am
persuaded it will raccommode every thing; and though he will be
far from proving a regular correspondent, we shall all have
satisfaction in the re-establishment of the harmony.-In short,
that tartar his brother is dead: and having made no will, the
whole, and a very considerable whole, falls to our friend.
This good event happened but three days ago, and I wait with
the utmost impatience for his return from the Vine, where he
was at the critical instant. As the whole was in the tyrant's
power, and as every art had been used to turn the vinegar of
his temper against his brother, I had for some time lived
persuaded that he would execute the worst purposes-but let us
I like to see in the Gazette that Goldsworthy(489) is going to
be removed far from Florence: his sting has long been out-and
yet I cannot help feeling glad that even the shadow of a
competitor is removed from you.
We are going to have a week of Parliament-not to taste the new
one, of which there is no doubt, but to give it essence: by the
Regency-bill, if the King had died before it had sat, the old
one must have revived.
There is nothing else in the shape of news but small-pox and
miliary fevers, which have carried off people you did not know.
If I had not been eager to notify Mr. Chute's prosperity to
you, I think I must have deferred writing for a week or two
longer: it is unpleasant to be inventing a letter to send so
far, and must be disappointing when it comes from so far, and
brings so little. Adieu!
(487) This alludes to the proceedings of a mad prior of the
family of the Marchese Delmonti; who, with a party of ruffians,
had seized upon a strong castle called Monta di Santa Maria,
belonging to his brother the Marchese, and situated near
Cortona. From whence he and his band ravaged the neighbouring
country; and it was only with great difficulty that the troops
of the Grand Duke of Tuscany succeeded in dislodging them-D.
(488) Marquis del Monti.
(489) Consul to Lisbon.
211 Letter 103
To Sir Horace Mann.
Arlington Street, June 5, 1754.
Though I wrote to you but a few days ago, when I told you of
Mr. Chute's good fortune, I must send you a few lines to-night
upon a particular occasion. Mr. Brand,(490) a very intimate
friend of mine, whom I believe you have formerly seen in Italy,
is just set out for Germany on his way to Rome. I know by long
and uninterrupted experience, that my barely saying he is my
friend, will secure for him the kindest reception in the world
from you: it would not express my conviction, if I said a word
more on that head. His story is very melancholy: about six or
seven years ago he married Lady Caroline Pierpoint,(491)
half-sister of Lady Mary Wortley;(492) a match quite of esteem,
she was rather older than he; but never were two people more
completely, more reasonably happy. He is naturally all
cheerfulness and laughter; she was very reserved, but quite
sensible and faultless. She died about this time twelvemonth
of a fever, and left him, with two little children, the most
unhappy man alive. He travels again to dissipate his grief:
you will love him much, if he stays any time with you. His
connexions are entirely with the Duke of Bedford.
I have had another letter from you to-day, with a farther
journal of the Delmonti war, which the rebels seem to be
leaving to the Pope to finish for them. It diverted me
extremely. had I received this letter before Mr. Brand set
out, I would have sent you the whole narrative of the affair of
Lord Orford and Miss -Nicholl; it is a little volume. The
breach, though now by time silenced, was, I assure you, final.
We have had a spurt of Parliament for five days, but it was
prorogued to-day. The next will be a terrible session from
elections and petitions. The Oxfordshire(493) will be endless;
the Appleby outrageous in expense. The former is a revival of
downright Whiggism and Jacobitism,, two liveries that have been
lately worn indiscriminately by all factions. The latter is a
contest between two young Croesus's, Lord Thanet(494) and Sir
James Lowther:(495) that a convert; this an hereditary Whig. A
knowing lawyer said, to-day, that with purchasing tenures,
votes, and carrying on the election and petition,
five-and-fifty thousand pounds will not pay the whole expense--
it makes one start! Good night! you must excuse the
nothingness of a supernumerary letter.
(490) Thomas Brand, of the Hoo, in Hertfordshire.
(491) Daughter of Evelyn, Duke of Kingston, by his second wife.
(492) Lady Mary, in a letter to her daughter, of the 23d of
July, 1753, says, "The death of Lady Carolina naturally raises
the mortifying reflection, on how slender a thread hangs all
worldly prosperity! I cannot say I am otherwise much touched
with it. It is true she was my sister, as it were, and in some
sense; but her behaviour to me never gave me any love, nor her
general conduct any esteem."-E.
(493) This was the great Oxfordshire contest between the
Jacobites and the Whigs. The candidates of the former party
were Viscount Wenman and Sir Edward Turner, Bart. those of the
latter, Viscount Parker, eldest son of the Earl of
Macclesfield, and Sir James Dashwood, Bart. Great sums were
spent on both sides: in the election the Jacobites carried it;
but on petition to the House of Commons, the ministers, as
usual, seated their own friends.-D.
(494) Sackville Tufton, eighth Earl of Thanet.-D.
(495) Sir James Lowther had succeeded his collateral relation,
Henry, third Viscount Lonsdale, in his vast estates. He became
afterwards remarkable for his eccentricities, and we fear, we
must add, for his tyranny and cruelty. Mr. Pitt created him
Earl of Lonsdale, in the year 1784. He died in 1802.-D. [In
1782, he offered to build, and Completely furnish and man, a
ship of war of seventy guns for the service of the country at
his own expense; but the proposal, though sanctioned by the
King, was rendered unnecessary to be carried into execution by
212 Letter 104
To George Montagu, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, Saturday, June 8, 1754.
By my computation you are about returned to Greatworth: I was
so afraid of my letters missing you on the road, that I
deferred till now telling you how much pleasure I shall have in
seeing you and the Colonel at Strawberry. I have long been
mortified that for these three years you have seen it only in
winter: it is now in the height of its greenth, blueth,
gloomth, honey-suckle and seringahood. I have no engagement
till Wednesday se'nnight, when I am obliged to be in town on
law business. You will have this to-morrow night; if I receive
a letter, which I beg you will direct to London, on Tuesday or
Wednesday, I will meet you here whatever day you will be so
good as to appoint. I thank the Colonel a thousand times. I
cannot write a word more; for I am getting into the chaise to
whisk to the Vine for two days, but shall be in town on Tuesday
213 Letter 105
To George Montagu, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, June 29, 1754.
I shall take care to send your letter the first time I write to
Mr. Bentley. It is above a fortnight since I heard from him.
I am much disappointed at not having seen you yet; I love you
should execute your intentions while you intend them, because
you are a little apt to alter your mind, and as I have set mine
on your seeing Strawberry Hill this summer, while it is in its
beauty, you will really mortify me by changing your purpose.
It is in vain that you ask for news: I was in town two days
ago, but heard nothing; indeed there were not people enough to
cause or make news. Lady Caroline Petersham had scraped
together a few foreigners, after her christening; but I cannot
say that the party was much livelier than if it had met at
Madame Montandre's.(496) You must let me know a little
beforehand when you have fixed your time for coming, because,
as I am towards flying about on my summer expeditions, I should
be unhappy not to be here just when you would like it. Adieu!
P. S. I supped at White's the other night with the great C`u,
and he was by far more gracious, both on your topic and my own,
than ever I knew him.
(496) Widow of Francis de la Rochefaucauld, Marquis de
Montandre, who came to England with William the Third, and
served in all the wars of that monarch, and of Queen Anne. He
was made a marshal in July 1739, and died in the following
213 Letter 106
To Sir Horace Mann.
Strawberry Hill, July 5, 1754.
I believe you never receive a letter from me at this season of
the year, without wishing for winter, that I might have
something to tell you. Warm weather in England disperses all
the world, except a few old folks, whose day of events is past,
and who contribute nothing to the society of news. There is a
court indeed as near as Kensington, but where the monarch is
old, the courtiers are seldom young: they sun themselves in a
window like flies in autumn, past even buzzing, and to be swept
away in the first hurricane of a new reign. However, as little
novelty as the season or the times produce, there is an
adventuress in the world, who even in the dullest times will
take care not to let conversation stagnate: this
public-spirited dame is no other than a Countess-dowager, my
sister-in-law, who has just notified to the town her intention
of parting from her second husband-a step which, being in
general not likely to occasion much surprise,-she had, however,
taken care to render extraordinary, by a course of inseparable
fondness and wonderful jealousy, for the three years since
these her second nuptials. The testimonials which Mr. Shirley
had received in print from that living academy of love-lore, my
Lady Vane, added to this excessive tenderness of one, little
less a novice, convinced every body that he was a perfect hero.
You will pity poor Hercules! Omphale, by a most unsentimental
precaution, has so secured to her own disposal her whole estate
and jointure, that he cannot command so much as a distaff; and
as she is not inclined to pay much for nothing, her offers on
the article of separation are exceedingly moderate. As yet he
has not accepted them, but is gone to Scarborough, and she into
the west, to settle her affairs, and from thence embarks for
France and Italy. I am sorry she will plague you again at
Florence; but I shall like to hear of what materials she
composes her second volume, and what reasons she will allege in
her new manifestoes: her mother, who sold her, is dead; the
all-powerful minister, who bought her, is dead! whom will she
charge with dragging her. to the bed of this second tyrant,
from whom she has been forced to fly--On her son's account, I
am really sorry for this second `equip`ee: I can't even help
pitying her! at her age nobody can take such steps, without
being sensible of their ridicule, and what snakes must such
passions be, as can hurry one over such reflections? Her
original story was certainly very unhappy; and the forcing so
very young a creature against her inclinations, unjustifiable:
but I much question whether any choice of her own could have
tied down her inclinations to -any temper--at least, I am sure
she had pitched upon a Hercules then, who of all men living was
the least proper to encounter such labours, my Lord
I have sent your letter to Mr. Chute, who is at his own Vine;
he had written to you of his own accord, and I trust your
friendship will be re-established as strongly as ever,
especially as there was no essential fault on either side, and
as you will now be prepared not to mind his aversion to
writing. Thank Dr. Cocchi for the book(497) he is so good as
to intend for me; I value any thing from him, though I scarce
understand any thing less than Greek and physic; the little I
knew of the first I have almost forgot, and the other, thank
God! I never had any occasion to know. I shall duly deliver
the other copies.
The French are encroaching extremely upon us in all the distant
parts of the world, especially in Virginia, from whence their
attempts occasion great uneasiness here. For my own part, I
think we are very lucky, when they will be so good as to begin
with us at the farther end. The revocation of the Parliament
of Paris, which is done or doing, is thought very bad for us: I
don't know but it may: in any other time I should have thought
not, as it is a concession or yielding from the throne, and
would naturally spirit up the Parliament to struggle on for
power; but no other age is a precedent for this. As no
oppression would, I believe, have driven them into rebellion,
no concession will tempt them to be more assuming. The King of
France will govern his Parliament by temporizing; the
Parliament of Ireland is governed by being treated like a
French one. Adieu!
(497) An edition of some of the Greek physicians.
215 Letter 107
To The Hon. H. S. Conway.
Strawberry Hill, Saturday, July 6, 1754.
Your letter certainly stopped to drink somewhere by the way, I
suppose with the hearty hostess at the Windmill; for, though
written on Wednesday, it arrived here but this morning: it
could not have travelled more deliberately in the Speaker's
body-coach. I am concerned, because, your fishmonger not being
arrived, I fear you have stayed for my answer. The fish(498)
are apprised that they are to ride over to Park-place, and are
ready booted and spurred; and the moment their pad arrives,
they shall set forth. I would accompany them on a pillion if I
were not waiting for Lady Mary,(499) who has desired to bring a
poor sick girl here for a few days to try the air. You know
how courteous a knight I am to distressed virgins of five years
old, and that my castle-gates are always open to them. You
will, I am sure, accept this excuse for some days: and as soon
as ever my hospitality is completed, I will be ready to obey
your summons, though you should send a water-pot for me. I am
in no fear of not finding you in perfect verdure; for the sun,
I believe, is gone a great way off to some races or other,
where his horses are to run for the King's plate: we have not
heard of him in this neighbourhood. Adieu!
(497) Gold fish.
(499) Lady Mary Churchill.
215 Letter 108
To Sir Richard Bentley, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, July 9, 1754.
I only write a letter for company to the enclosed one. Mr.
Chute is returned from the Vine, and gives you a thousand
thanks for your letter; and if ever he writes, I don't doubt
but it will be to you. Gray and he come hither to-morrow, and
I am promised Montagu and the Colonel(500) in about a
fortnight--How naturally my pen adds, but when does Mr. Bentley
come! I am sure Mr. Wicks wants to ask me the same question
every day--"Speak to it, Horatio!" Sir Charles Williams
brought his eldest daughter hither last week: she is one of
your real admirers, and, without its being proposed to her,
went on the bowling-green, and drew a perspective view of the
castle from the angle, in a manner to deserve the thanks of the
Committee.(501) She is to be married to my Lord Essex in a
Week,(502) and I begged she would make you overseer of the
works at Cashiobury. Sir Charles told me, that on the Duke of
Bedford's wanting a Chinese house at Woburn, he said, "Why
don't your grace speak to mr. Walpole? He has the prettiest
plan in the world for one." --"Oh," replied the Duke, "but
then it would be too dear!" I hope this was a very great
economy, or I am sure ours would be very great extravagance:
only think of a plan for little Strawberry giving the alarm to
thirty thousand pounds a year! My dear sir, it is time to
retrench! Pray send me 'a slice of granite(503) no bigger than
a Naples biscuit.
The monument to my mother is at last erected; it puts me in
mind of the manner of interring the Kings of France: when the
reigning one dies, the last before him is buried. Will you
believe that I have not yet seen the tomb? None of my
acquaintance were in town, and I literally had not courage to
venture alone among the Westminster-boys at the Abbey: they are
as formidable to me as the ship-carpenters at Portsmouth. I
think I have showed you the inscription, and therefore I don't
send it yet].
I was reading t'other day the Life of Colonel Codrington,(504)
who founded the library at All Souls - he left a large estate
for the propagation of the Gospel, and ordered that three
hundred negroes should constantly be constantly employed upon
it. Did one ever hear a more truly Christian charity, than
keeping a perpetuity of three hundred slaves to look after the
Gospel's estate? How could one intend a religious legacy, and
miss the disposition of that estate for delivering three
hundred negroes from the most shocking slavery imaginable?
Must devotion be twisted into the unfeeling interests of trade?
I must revenge myself for the horror this fact has given me,
and tell you a story of Gideon.(505) He breeds his children
Christians: he had a mind to know what proficience his son had
made in his new religion; "So," says he, "I began, and asked
him, who made him; He said 'God.' I then asked him, who
redeemed him? He replied very readily, 'Christ.' Well, then I
was at the end of my interrogatories, and did not know what
other question to put to him. I said, Who--who--I did not know
what to say; at last I said, Who gave you that hat? 'The Holy
Ghost,' said the boy." Did you ever hear a better catechism?
The great cry against Nugent at Bristol was for having voted
for the Jew-bill: one old woman said, "What, must we be
represented by a Jew and an Irishman?" He replied with great
quickness, "My good dame, if you will step aside with me into a
corner, I will show you that I am not a Jew, and that I am an
The Princess(506) has breakfasted at the long Sir Thomas
Robinson's at Whitehall; my Lady Townshend will never forgive
it. The second dowager of Somerset(507) is gone to know
whether all her letters from the living to the dead have been
received. Before I bid you good-night, I must tell you of an
admirable curiosity: I was looking over one of our antiquarian
volumes, and in the description of Leeds is an account of Mr.
Thoresby's famous museum there-what do you think is one of the
rarities?--a knife taken from one of the Mohocks! Whether
tradition is infallible or not, as you say, I think so
authentic a relic will make their history indisputable.
Castles, Chinese houses, tombs, negroes, Jews, Irishmen,
princesses, and Mohocks--what a farrago do I send you! I trust
that a letter from England to Jersey has an imposing air, and
that you don't presume to laugh at any thing that comes from
your mother island. Adieu!
(500) Charles Montagu.
(501) Mr. Walpole, in these letters, calls the Strawberry
committee, those of his friends who had assisted in the plans
and Gothic ornaments of Strawberry Hill.
(502) The lady was married to the Earl of Essex on the 1st of
August. She died in childbed, in July 1759.-E.
(503) Mr. Walpole had commissioned Mr. Bentley to send him a
piece of the granite found in the island of Jersey, for a
sideboard in his dining-room.
(504) Colonel Christopher Codrington. He was governor of the
Leeward Islands, and died at Barbadoes in 1710. He bequeathed
his books, and the sum of ten thousand pounds, for the purpose
of erecting and furnishing the above-mentioned library. He
wrote some Latin poems, published in the "Musae Anglicanae,"
and addressed a copy of English verse to Garth on his
(505) Sampson Gideon, the noted rich Jew. [In 1759, his only
son, being then in his eleventh year, was created an English
baronet; and, in 1789, advanced to the dignity of Lord
(506) Of Wales.
(507) Frances, oldest daughter and coheir of the Hon. Henry
217 Letter 109
To The Hon. H. S. Conway.(508)
Strawberry Hill, August 6, 1754.
>From Sunday next, which is the eleventh, till the four or
five-and-twentieth, I am quite unengaged, and will wait upon
you any of the inclusive days, when your house is at leisure,
and you will summon me; therefore you have nothing to do but to
let me know your own time: or, if this period does not suit
you, I believe I shall be able to come to you any part of the
first fortnight in September; for, though I ought to go to
Hagley, it is incredible how I want resolution to tap such a
I wish you joy of escaping such an accident as breaking the
Duke's(509) leg; I hope he and you will be known to posterity
together by more dignified wounds than the kick of a horse. As
I can never employ my time better than in being your
biographer, I beg you will take care that I may have no such
plebeian mishaps upon my hands or, if the Duke is to fall out
of battle, he has such delicious lions and tigers, which I saw
the day before yesterday at Windsor, that he will be
exceedingly to blame, if he does not give some of them an
exclusive patent for tearing him to pieces.
There is a beautiful tiger at my neighbour Mr. Crammond's here,
of which I am so fond, that my Lady Townshend says it is the
only thing I ever wanted to kiss. As you know how strongly her
ladyship sympathizes with the Duke, she contrived to break the
tendon of her foot, the very day that his leg was in such
P. S. You may certainly do what you please with the Fable;(510)
it is neither worth giving nor refusing.
(508) Now first printed.
(509) The Duke of Cumberland.
(510) The Entail.
218 Letter 110
To George Montagu, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, Aug 29, 1754.
You may be sure that I shall always be glad to see you whenever
you like to come hither, but I cannot help being sorry that you
are determined not to like the place, nor to let the Colonel
like it; a conclusion I may very justly make, when, I think,
for these four years, you have contrived to visit it only when
there is not a leaf upon the trees. Villas are generally
designed for summer; you are the single person who think they
look best in winter. You have still a more unlucky thought;
which Is, to visit the Vine in October. When I saw it in the
middle of summer, it was excessively damp; you will find it a
little difficult to persuade me to accompany you thither On
stilts, and I believe Mr. Chute Will not be quite happy that
you prefer that season; but for this I cannot answer at
present, for he is at Mr. Morris's in Cornwall. I shall expect
you and the Colonel here at the time you appoint. I engage for
no farther, unless it is a very fine season indeed. I beg my
compliments to Miss Montagu, and am yours ever.
218 Letter 111
To Sir Horace Mann.
Arlington Street, Oct. 6, 1754.
You have the kindest way in the world, my dear Sir, of
reproving my long silence, by accusing yourself. I have looked
at my dates, and though I was conscious Of not having written
to you for a long time, I did not think it had been so long as
three months. I ought to make some excuse, and the truth is
all I can make; if you have heard by any way in the world that
a single event worth mentioning has happened in England for
these three months, I will own myself guilty of abominable
neglect. If there has not, as you know my unalterable
affection for you, you will excuse me, and accuse the times.
Can one repeat often, that every thing stagnates? At present we
begin to think that the world may be roused again, and that an
East Indian war and a West Indian war may beget such a thing as
an European war. In short, the French have taken such cavalier
liberties with some of our forts, that are of great consequence
to cover Virginia, Carolina, and Georgia, that we are actually
despatching two regiments thither. As the climate and other
American circumstances are against these poor men, I pity them,
and think them too many, if the French mean nothing farther;
too few, if they do. Indeed, I am one of those that feel less
resentment when we are attacked so far off: I think it an
obligation to be eaten the last.
You have entertained me much with the progress of the history
of the Delmontis, and obliged me. I wish I could say I was not
shocked at the other part of your letter, where you mention the
re-establishment of the Inquisition at Florence. Had Richcourt
power enough to be so infamous! was he superstitious, fearful,
revengeful, or proud of being a tool of the court of Rome?
What is the fate of the poor Florentines, who are reduced to
regret the Medicis, who had usurped their government! You may
be glad, my dear child, that I am not at Florence; I should
distress your ministerial prudence, your necessary prudence, by
taking pleasure to speak openly of Richcourt as he deserves:
you know my warmth upon power and church power!
The Boccaneri seems to be one of those ladies who refine so
much upon debauchery as to make even matrimony enter into their
scheme of profligacy. I have known more than one instance,
since the days of the Signora Messalina, where the lady has not
been content to cuckold her husband but with another husband.
All passions carried to extremity embrace within their circle
even their opposites. I don't know whether Charles the Fifth
did not resign the empire Out Of ambition of more fame. I must
contradict myself in all passions; I don't believe Sir Robert
Brown will ever be so covetous as to find a pleasure in
Mr. Chute is much yours: I am going with him in a day or two to
his Vine, where I shall try to draw him into amusing himself a
little with building and planting; hitherto he has done nothing
with his estate-but good.
You will have observed what precaution I had taken, in the
smallness of the sheet, not to have too much paper to fill; and
yet you see how much I have still upon my hands! As, I assure
you, were I to fill the remainder, all I should say would be
terribly wiredrawn, do excuse me: you shall hear an ample
detail of the first Admiral Vernon that springs out of our
American war; and I promise you at least half a brick of the
first sample that is sent over of any new Porto Bello. The
French have tied up the hands of an
excellent fanfaron, a Major Washington,(511) whom they took,
and engaged not to serve for a year. In his letter, he said,
"Believe me, as the cannon-balls flew over my head. they made a
most delightful sound." When your relation, General Guise, was
marching up to Carthagena, and the pelicans whistled round him,
he said, "What would Chlo`e(512) give for some of these to make
a pelican pie?" The conjecture made that scarce a rodomontade;
but what pity it is, that a man who can deal in hyperboles at
the mouth of a cannon, should be fond of them with a glass of
wine in his hand! I have heard Guise affirm, that the colliers
at Newcastle feed their children with fire-shovels! Good night.
(511) This was the celebrated Liberator of America, who had
been serving in the English army against the French for some
time with much distinction.
(512 ) The Duke of Newcastle's French cook.
220 Letter 112
To The Hon. H. S. Conway.(513)
Strawberry Hill, Oct. 24, 1754.
You have obliged me most extremely by telling me the progress
you have made in your most desirable affair.(514) I call it
progress, for, notwithstanding the authority you have for
supposing there may be a compromise, I cannot believe that the
Duke of Newcastle would have affirmed the contrary so directly,
if he had known of it. Mr. Brudenel very likely has been
promised my Lord Lincoln's interest, and then supposed he
should have the Duke's. However, that is not your affair; if
any body has reason to apprehend a breach of promise, it is
poor Mr. Brudenel. He can never come into competition with
you; and without saying any thing to reflect on him, I don't
know where you can ever have a competitor, and not have the
world on your side. Though the tenure is precarious, I cannot
help liking the situation for you. Any thing that sets you in
new lights, must be for your advantage. You are naturally
indolent and humble, and are content with being perfect in
whatever you happen to be. It is not flattering you to Say,
nor can you deny it, with all your modesty, that you have
always made yourself' master of whatever you have attempted,
and have never made yourself master of any thing without
shining extremely in it. If the King lives, you will have his
favour; if he lives it all, the Prince must have a greater
establishment, and then you will have the King's partiality to
countenance your being removed to some distinguished place
about the Prince: if the King should fail, your situation in
his family, and your age, naturally recommend you to an equal
place in the new household. I am the more desirous of seeing
you at court, because, when I consider the improbability of our
being in a situation to make war, I am earnest to have you have
other opportunities of being one of the first men in this
country, besides being a general. Don't think all I say on
this subject compliment. I can have no view in flattering you;
and You have a still better reason for believing me sincere,
which is, that you know well that I thought the same of you,
and professed the same to you, before I was of an age to have
either views or flattery; indeed, I believe you know me enough
to be sure that I am as void of both now as when I was
fourteen, and that I am so little apt to court any body, that
if you heard me say the same to any body but yourself, you
would easily think that I spoke what I thought.
George Montagu and his brother are here, and have kept me from
meeting you in town: we go on Saturday to the Vine. I fear
there is too much truth in what you have heard of your old
mistress.(515) When husband, wife, lover, and friend tell
every thing, can there but be a perpetual fracas? My dear
Harry, how lucky you was in what you escaped, and in what you
have got! People do sometimes avoid, not always, what is most
improper for them; but they do not afterwards always meet with
what they most deserve. But how lucky you are in every thing!
and how ungrateful a man to Providence if you are not thankful
for so many blessings as it has given you! I won't preach,
though the dreadful history which I have just heard of poor
Lord Drumlanrig(516) is enough to send one to La Trappe. My
compliments to all yours, and Adieu!
(513) Now first printed.
(514) His being appointed groom of the bedchamber to the King,
George the Second.-E.
(515) Caroline Fitzroy, Countess of Harrington.-E.
(516) Only son of Charles third Duke of Queensberry, who was
shot by the accidental discharge of his pistol on his journey
from Scotland to London, in company with his parents and newly-
married wife, a daughter of the Earl of Hopetoun. Lady Mary
Wortley thus alludes to this calamity in a letter to her
daughter:--"The Duchess of Queensberry's misfortune would move
compassion in the hardest heart; yet, all circumstances coolly
considered, I think the young lady deserves most to be pitied,
being left in the terrible situation of a young and, I suppose,
rich widowhood; which is walking blindfold upon stilts amidst
precipices, though perhaps as little sensible of her danger, as
a child of a quarter old would be in the paws of a monkey
leaping on the tiles of a house."-E.
221 Letter 113
To Richard Bentley, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, Nov. 3, 1754.
I have finished all my parties, and am drawing towards a
conclusion here: the Parliament meets in ten days: the House, I
hear, will be extremely full--curiosity drawing as many to town
as party used to do. The minister(517) in the house of Lords
is a new sight in these days.
Mr. Chute and I have been at Mr. Barret's(518) at Belhouse; I
never saw a place for which one did not wish, so totally void
of faults. What he has done is in Gothic, and very true,
though not up to the perfection of the committee. The hall is
pretty; the great dining room hung with good family pictures;
among which is his ancestor, the Lord Dacre who was
hanged.(519) I remember when Mr. Barret was first initiated in
the College of Arms by the present Dean of Exeter(520) at
Cambridge, he was overjoyed at the first ancestor he put up,
who was one of the murderers of Thomas Becket. The
chimney-pieces, except one little miscarriage into total Ionic
(he could not resist statuary and Siena marble), are all of a
good King James the First Gothic. I saw the heronry so fatal
to Po Yang, and told him that I was persuaded they were
descended from Becket's assassin, and I hoped from my Lord
Dacre too. He carried us to see the famous plantations and
buildings of the last Lord Petre. They are the Brobdignag of
the bad taste. The Unfinished house is execrable, massive, and
split through and through: it stands on the brow of a hill,
rather to seek for a prospect than to see one, and turns its
back upon an outrageous avenue which is closed with a screen of
tall trees, because he would not be at the expense of
beautifying the black front Of his house. The clumps are
gigantic, and very ill placed.
George Montagu and the Colonel have at last been here, and have
screamed with approbation through the whole Cu-gamut. Indeed,
the library is delightful. They went to the Vine, and approved
as much. Do you think we wished for you? I carried down
incense and mass-books, and we had most Catholic enjoyment Of
the chapel. In the evenings, indeed, we did touch a card a
little to please George--so much, that truly I have scarce an
idea left that is not spotted with clubs, hearts, spades, and
diamonds. There is a vote of the Strawberry committee for
great embellishments to the chapel, of which it will not be
long before you hear something. It will not be longer than the
spring, I trust, before you see something of it. In the mean
time, to rest your impatience, I have enclosed a scratch of
mine which you are to draw out better, and try if you can give
yourself a perfect idea of the place. All I can say is, that
my sketch is at least more intelligible than Gray's was of
Stoke, from which you made so like a picture.
Thank you much for the box of Guernsey lilies, which I have
received. I have been packing up a few seeds, which have
little merit but the merit they will have with you, that they
come from the Vine and Strawberry. My chief employ in this
part of the world, except surveying my library which has scarce
any thing but the painting to finish, is planting at Mrs.
Clive's, whither I remove all my superabundancies. I have
lately planted the green lane, that leads from her garden to
the common: "Well," said she, "when it is done, what shall we
call it?"-" Why," said I, " what would you call it but Drury
Lane?" I mentioned desiring some samples of your Swiss's(521
abilities: Mr. Chute and I even propose, if he should be
tolerable, and would continue reasonable, to tempt him over
hither, and make him work upon your designs-upon which, you
know, it is not easy to make you work. If he improves upon
your hands, do you think we shall purchase the fee-simple of
him for so many years, as Mr. Smith did of Canaletti?(522) We
will sell to the English. Can he paint perspectives, and
cathedral-aisles, and holy glooms? I am sure you could make
him paint delightful insides of the chapel at the Vine, and of
the library here. I never come up the stairs without
reflecting how different it is from its primitive state, when
my Lady Townshend all the way she came up the stairs, cried
out, "Lord God! Jesus! what a house! It is just such a house
as a parson's, where the children lie at the feet of the bed!"
I cant say that to-day it puts me much in mind of another
speech of my lady's, "That it would be a very pleasant place,
if Mrs. Clive's face did not rise upon it and make it so hot!"
The sun and Mrs. Clive seem gone for the winter.
The West Indian war has thrown me into a new study: I read
nothing but American voyages, and histories of plantations and
settlements. Among all the Indian nations, I have contracted a
particular intimacy with the Ontaouanoucs, a people with whom I
beg you will be acquainted: they pique themselves upon speaking
the purest dialect. How one should delight in the grammar and
dictionary of their Crusca! My only fear is, that if any of
them are taken prisoners, General Braddock is not a kind of man
to have proper attentions to so polite a people; I am even
apprehensive that he would damn them, and order them to be
scalped, in the very worst plantation-accent. I don't know
whether you know that none of the people of that immense
continent have any labials: they tell you que c'est ridicule to
shut the lips in order to speak. Indeed, I was as barbarous as
any polite nation in the world, in supposing that there was
nothing worth knowing among these charming savages. They are
in particular great orators, with this little variation from
British eloquence, that at the end of every important paragraph
they make a present; whereas we expect to receive one. They
begin all their answers with recapitulating what has been said
to them; and their method for this is, the respondent gives a
little stick to each of the bystanders, who is, for his share,
to remember such a paragraph of the speech that is to be
answered. You will wonder that I should have given the
preference to the Ontaouanoucs, when there is a much more
extraordinary nation to the north of Canada, who have but one
leg, and p-- from behind their ear; but I own I had rather
converse for any time with people who speak like Mr. Pitt, than
with a nation of jugglers, who are only fit to go about the
country, under the direction of Taafe and Montagu.(523) Their
existence I do not doubt; they are recorded by P`ere
Charlevoix, in his much admired history of New France, in which
there are such outrageous legends of miracles for the
propagation of the Gospel, that his fables in natural history
seem strict veracity.
Adieu! You write to me as seldom as if you were in an island
where the Duke of Newcastle was sole minister, parties at an
end, and where every thing had done happening. Yours ever.
P. S. I have just seen in the advertisements that there are
arrived two new volumes of Madame de S`evign`e's Letters.
Adieu, my American studies!--adieu, even my favourite
(517) The Duke of Newcastle.