Part 13 out of 17
I shall send this by the coach; so whatever comes with it is only
to make bundle. Here are some lines that came into my head
yesterday in the postchaise, as I was reading in the Annual
Register an account of a fountain-tree in one of the Canary
Islands, which never dies, and supplies the inhabitants with
water. I don't warrant the longevity though the hypostatic union
of a fountain may eternize the tree.
"In climes adust, where rivers never flow,
Where constant suns repel approaching snow,
How Nature's various and inventive hand
Can pour unheard-of moisture o'er the land!
immortal plants she bids on rocks arise,
And from the dropping branches streams supplies,
The thirsty native sucks the falling shower,
Nor asks for juicy fruit or blooming flower;
But haply doubts when travellers maintain,
That Europe's forests melt not into rain."
(842) See ant`e, p. 365, letter 237.-E.
(843) Wilkes, in the North Briton, had applied to the Earl of
Sandwich the sobriquet of jemmy Twitcher.-E.
(844) ant`e, p. 294, letter 194.-E.
Letter 254 To George Montagu, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, June 10, 1765, Eleven at night. (page 407)
I am just come out of the garden in the most oriental of all
evenings, and from breathing odours beyond those of Araby. The
acacias, which the Arabians have the sense to worship, are
covered with blossoms, the honeysuckles dangle from every tree in
festoons, the seringas are thickets of sweets, and the new-cut
hay in the field tempers the balmy gales with simple freshness;
while a thousand sky-rockets launched into the air at Ranelagh or
Marybone illuminate the scene, and give it an air of Haroun
Alraschid's paradise. I was not quite so content by daylight;
some foreigners dined here, and, though they admired our verdure,
it mortified me by its brownness--we have not had a drop of rain
this month to cool the tip of our daisies. My company was Lady
Lyttelton, Lady Schaub, a Madame de Juliac from the Pyreneans,
very handsome, not a girl, and of Lady Schaub's mould; the Comte
de Caraman, nephew of Madame de Mirepoix, a Monsieur de
Clausonnette, and General Schouallow,(845) the favourite of the
late Czarina; absolute favourite for a dozen years, without
making an enemy. In truth, he is very amiable, humble, and
modest. Had he been ambitious, he might have mounted the throne:
as he was not, you may imagine they have plucked his plumes a
good deal. There is a little air of melancholy about him, and,
if I am not mistaken, Some secret wishes for the fall of the
present Empress; which, if it were civil to suppose, I could
heartily join with him in hoping for. As we have still liberty
enough left to dazzle a Russian, he seems charmed with England,
and perhaps liked even this place the more as belonging to the
son of one that, like himself, had been prime minister. If he
has no more ambition left than I have, he must taste the felicity
of being a private man. What has Lord Bute gained, but the
knowledge of how many ungrateful sycophants favour and power can
If you have received the parcel that I consined to Richard Brown
for you, you will have found an explanation of my long silence.
Thank you for being alarmed for my health.
The day after to-morrow I go to Park-place for four or five days,
and soon after to Goodwood. My French journey is still in
suspense; Lord Hertford talks of coming over for a fortnight;
perhaps I may go back with him; but I have determined nothing
yet, till I see farther into the present chase, that somehow or
other I may take my leave of politics for ever; for can any thing
be so wearisome as politics on the account of others? Good
night! shall I not see you here? Yours ever.
(845) The Comte de Schouwaloff. See ant`e, p. 382, letter 245.
Walpole says, in a note to Madame du Deffand's letter to him of
the 19th of April, 1766, "Il fut IC favori, l'on croit le mari,
de la Czarine Elizabeth de Russie, et pendant douze ans de faveur
il ne se fit point un ennemi."-E.
Letter 255 To The Right Hon. Lady Hervey.
Strawberry Hill, June 11, 1765. (page 408)
I am almost as much ashamed, Madam, to plead the true cause of my
faults towards your ladyship, as to have been guilty of any
neglect. It is scandalous, at my age, to have been carried
backwards and forwards to balls and suppers and parties by very
young people, as I was all last week. My resolutions of growing
old and staid are admirable: I wake with a sober plan, and intend
to pass the day with my friends--then comes the Duke of Richmond,
and hurries me down to Whitehall to dinner-then the Duchess of
Grafton sends for me to loo in Upper Grosvenor-street--before I
can get thither, I am begged to step to Kensington, to give Mrs.
Anne Pitt my opinion about a bow-window--after the loo, I am to
march back to Whitehall to supper-and after that, am to walk with
Miss Pelham on the terrace till two in the morning, because it is
moonlight and her chair is not come. All this does not help my
morning laziness; and, by the time I have breakfasted, fed my
birds and my squirrels, and dressed, there is an auction ready.
In short, Madam, this was my life last week, and is I think every
week, with the addition of forty episodes. Yet, ridiculous as it
is, I send it your ladyship, because I had rather you should
laugh at me than be angry. I cannot offend you in intention, but
I fear my sins of omission are equal to many a good Christian's.
Pray forgive me. I really will begin to be between forty and
fifty by the time I am fourscore; and I truly believe I shall
bring my resolutions within compass; for I have not chalked out
any particular business that will take me above forty years more;
so that, if I do not get acquainted with the grandchildren of all
the present age, I shall lead a quiet sober life yet before I
As Mr. Bateman's is the kingdom of flowers, I must not wish to
send you any; else, Madam, I should load wagons with acacias,
honeysuckles, and seringas. Madame de Juliac, who dined here
owned that the climate and odours equalled Languedoc. I fear the
want of rain made the turf put her in mind of it, too. Monsieur
de Caraman entered into the gothic spirit of the place, and
really seemed pleased, which was more than I expected; for,
between you and me, Madam, our friends the French have seldom
eyes for any thing they have not been used to see all their
lives. I beg my warmest compliments to your host and Lord
Ilchester. I wish your ladyship all pleasure and health, and am,
notwithstanding my idleness, your most faithful and devoted
Letter 256 To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, Saturday night. (page 409)
I must scrawl a line to you, though with the utmost difficulty,
for I am in my bed; but I see they have foolishly put it into the
Chronicle that I am dangerously ill; and as I know you take in
that paper, and are one of the very, very few, of whose
tenderness and friendship I have not the smallest doubt, I give
myself pain, rather than let you feel a moment's unnecessarily.
It is true, I have had a terrible attack of the gout in my
stomach, head, and both feet, but have truly never been in danger
any more than one must be in such a situation. My head and
stomach are perfectly well; my feet far from it. I have kept my
room since this day se'nnight, and my bed these three days, but
hope to get up to-morrow. You know my writing and my veracity,
and that I would not deceive you. As to my person, it will not
be so easy to reconnoitre it, for I question whether any of it
will remain; it was easy to annihilate so airy a substance.
Letter 257 To The Hon. H. S. Conway.
Wednesday noon, July 3, 1765. (page 410)
The footing part of my dance with my shocking partner the gout is
almost over. I had little pain there this last night, and got,
at twice, about three hours' sleep; but, whenever I waked, found
my head very bad, which Mr. Graham thinks gouty too. The fever
is still very high: but the same sage is of opinion, with my Lady
LOndonderry, that if it was a fever from death, I should die; but
as it is only a fever from the gout, I shall live. I think so
too, and hope that, like the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough.,
they are so inseparable, that when one goes t'other will.
Tell Lady Ailesbury, I fear it will be long before I shall be
able to compass all your terraces again. The weather is very
hot, and I have the (comfort of a window open all day. I have
got a bushel of roses too, and a new scarlet nightingale, which
does not sing Nancy Dawson from morning to night. Perhaps you
think all these poor pleasures; but you are ignorant what a
provocative the gout is, and what charms it can bestow on a
moment's amusement! Oh! it beats all the refinements of a Roman
sensualist. It has made even my watch a darling plaything; I
strike it as often as a child does. Then the disorder of my
sleep diverts me when I am awake. I dreamt that I went to see
Madame de Bentheim at Paris, and that she had the prettiest
palace in the world, built like a pavilion, of yellow laced with
blue; that I made love to her daughter, whom I called
Mademoiselle Bleue et Jaune, and thought it very clever.
My next reverie was very serious, and lasted half an hour after I
was awake; which you will perhaps think a little light-headed,
and so do I. I thought Mr. Pitt had had a conference with Madame
de Bentheim, and granted all her demands. I rung for Louis at
six in the morning, and wanted to get up and inform myself of
what had been kept so secret from me. You must know, that all
these visions of Madame de Bentheim flowed from George Selwyn
telling me last night, that she had carried most of her points,
and was returning. What stuff I tell you! But alas! I have
nothing better to do, sitting on my bed, and wishing to forget
how brightly the sun shines, when I cannot be at Strawberry.
Letter 258 To The Countess Of Suffolk.(846)
London, July 3, 1765. (page 411)
Your ladyship's goodness to me on all occasions makes me flatter
myself that I am not doing an impertinence in telling you I am
alive; though, after what I have suffered, you may be sure there
cannot be much of me left. The gout has been a little in my
stomach, much more in my head, but luckily never out of my right
foot, and for twelve, thirteen, and seventeen hours together,
insisting upon having its way as absolutely as ever my Lady
Blandford(847) did. The extremity of pain seems to be over,
though I sometimes think my tyrant puts in his claim to t'other
foot; and surely he is, like most tyrants, mean as well as cruel,
or he could never have thought the leg of a lark such a prize.
The fever, the tyrant's first minister, has been as vexatious as
his master, and makes use of this hot day to plague me more; yet,
as I was sending a servant to Twickenham, I could not help
scrawling out a few lines to ask how your ladyship does, to tell
you how I am, and to lament the roses, strawberries, and banks of
the river. I know nothing, Madam, of ,any kings or ministers but
those I have mentioned; and this administration I fervently hope
will be changed soon, and for all others I shall be very
indifferent. had a (,real prince come to my bedside yesterday, I
should have begged that the honour might last a very few minutes.
I am, etc.
(846) Now first collected.
(847) lady Blandford was somewhat impatient in her temper. See
ant`e, p. 342, letter 220.-E.
letter 259 To The Countess Of Suffolk.(848)
Arlington Street, July 9, 1765. (page 411)
though instead of getting better, as I flattered myself I should,
I have gone through two very painful and sleepless nights, yet as
I give audience here in my bed to new ministers and foreign
ministers, I think it full as much my duty to give an account of
myself to those who are so good as to wish me well. I am reduced
to nothing but bones and spirits; but the latter make me bear the
inconvenience of the former, though they (I mean my bones) lie in
a heap over one another like the bits of ivory at the game of
It is very melancholy, at the instant I was getting quit of
politics, to be visited with the only thing that is still more
plaguing. However, I believe the fit of politics going off makes
me support the new-comer better. Neither of them indeed will
leave me plumper;(849) but if they will both leave me at peace,
your ladyship knows it is all I have ever desired. The chiefs
of' the new ministry were to have kissed hands to-day; but Mr.
Charles Townshend, who, besides not knowing either of his own
minds, has his brother's minds to know too, could not determine
last night. Both brothers are gone to the King to-day. I was
much concerned to hear so bad an account of your ladyship's
health. Other people would wish you a severe fit, which is a
very cheap wish to them who do not feel it: I, who do, advise you
to be content with it in detail. Adieu! Madam. Pray keep a
little summer for me. I will give You a bushel of politics, when
I come to Marble Hill, for a teacup of strawberries and cream.
Mr. Chetwynd,(851) I suppose, is making the utmost advantage of
any absence, frisking and cutting capers before Miss Hotham, and
advising her not to throw herself away on a decrepit old man.-
-Well, fifty years hence he may begin to be an old man too; and
then I shall not pity him, though I own he is the best-humoured
lad in the world now. Yours, etc.
(848) Now first collected.
(849) Walpole was too fond of this boast of disinterestedness.
What was it but politics that made his fortune so plump? His
fortune from his father, we know from himself, was very
inconsiderable;-but from his childhood he held sinecure offices
which, during the greater part of his life, produced him between
six and seven thousand pounds per annum.-C.
(851) William Chetwynd, brother of the two first Viscounts, and
himself, in 1767, third Viscount Chetwynd. He was at this time
nearly eighty years of age.-E.
Letter 260 To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, July 11, 1765. (page 412)
You are so good, I must write you a few lines, and you will
excuse My not writing many, my posture is so uncomfortable, lying
on a couch by the side of my bed, and writing on the bed. I have
in this manner been what they call out of bed for two days, but I
mend very slowly, and get no strength in my feet at all; however,
I must have patience.
Thank you for your kind offer; but, my dear Sir, you can do me no
good but what you always do me, in coming to see me. I
should hope that would be before I go to France, whither I
certainly go the beginning of September, if not sooner. The
great and happy change-happy, I hope, for this country--is
actually begun. The Duke of Bedford, George Grenville, and the
two Secretaries are discarded. Lord Rockingham is first lord of
the treasury, Dowdeswell chancellor of the exchequer, the Duke of
Grafton and Mr. Conway secretaries of state. You need not wish
me joy, for I know you do. There is a good deal more to
come,(852) and what is better, regulation of general warrants,
and of undoing at least some of the mischiefs these - have been
committing; some, indeed, is past recovery! I long to talk it
all over with you; though it is hard that when I may write what I
will, I am not able. The poor Chute is relapsed again, and we
are no comfort to one another but by messages. An offer from
Ireland was sent to Lord Hertford last night from his brother's
(852) "There has been pretty clean sweeping already," wrote Lord
Chesterfield on the 15th; and I do not remember, in my time, to
have seen so much at once, as an entire new board of treasury,
and two new secretaries, etc. Here is a new political arch
built; but of materials of so different a nature, and without a
keystone, that it does not, in my opinion, indicate either
strength or duration. It will certainly require repairs and a
keystone next winter, and that keystone will and must necessarily
be Mr. Pitt."-E.
Letter 262 To George Montagu, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, August 23, 1765. (page 414)
As I know that when you love people, you love them, I feel for
the concern that the death of Lady Bab. Montagu(854) Will give
you. Though you have long lived out of the way of seeing her,
you are not a man to forget by absence, or all your friends would
have still more reason to complain of your retirement. Your
solitude prevents your filling up the places of those that are
gone. In the world, new acquaintances slide into our habits, but
you keep so strict a separation between your old friends and new
faces, that the loss of any of the former must be more Sensible
to you than to most people. I heartily condole with you, and yet
I must make you smile. The second Miss Jefferies was to go to a
ball yesterday at Hampton-court with Lady Sophia Thomas's
daughters. The news came, and your aunt Cosby said the girl must
not go to it. The poor child then cried in earnest. Lady Sophia
went to intercede for her, and found her grandmother at
backgammon, who would hear no entreaties. Lady Sophia
represented that Miss Jefferies was but a second cousin, and
could not have been acquainted. "Oh! Madam, if there is no
tenderness left in the world-cinq ace--Sir, you are to throw."
We have a strange story come from London. Lord Fortescue was
dead suddenly; there was a great mob about his house in
Grosvenor-square, and a buzz that my lady had thrown up the sash
and cried murder, and that he then shot himself. How true all
this I don't know: at least it is not so false as if it was in
the newspapers. However, these sultry summers do not suit English
heads: this last month puts even the month of November's nose out
of joint for self-murders. If it was not for the Queen the
peerage would be extinct: she has given us another Duke.(855)
My two months are up, and yet I recover my feet very slowly. I
have crawled once round my garden; but it sent me to my couch for
the rest of the day. This duration of weakness makes me very
impatient, as I wish much to be at Paris before the fine season
is quite gone. This will probably be the last time I shall
travel to finish my education, and I should be glad to look once
more at their gardens and villas: nay, churches and palaces are
but uncomfortable sights in cold weather, and I have much more
curiosity for their habitations than their company. They have
scarce a man or a woman of note that one wants to see; and, for
their authors, their style is grown so dull in imitation of us,
they are si philosophes, si g`eom`etres, si moraux, that I
certainly should not cross the sea in search of ennui, that I can
have in such perfection at home. However, the change of scene is
my chief inducement, and to get out of politics. There is no
going through another course of patriotism in your cousin
Sandwich and George Grenville. I think of setting out by the
middle of September; have I any chance of seeing you here before
that? Won't you come and commission me to offer up your
devotions to Notre Dame de Livry?(8 or chez nos filles de Sainte
Marie. If I don't make haste, the reformation in France will
demolish half that I want to see. I tremble for the Val de Grace
and St. Cyr. The devil take Luther for putting it into the heads
of his methodists to pull down the churches! I believe in twenty
years there Will not be a convent left in Europe but this at
Strawberry. I wished for you to-day; Mr. Chute and Cowslade
dined here; the day was divine: the sun gleamed down into the
chapel in all the glory of popery; the gallery was all radiance;
we drank our coffee on the bench under the great ash-tree; the
verdure was delicious; our tea in the Holbein room, by which a
thousand chaises and barges passed; and I showed them my new
cottage and garden over the way, which they had never seen, and
with which they were enchanted. It is so retired, so modest, and
yet so cheerful and trim, that I expect you to fall in love with
it. I intend to bring it a handful of treillage and agr`emens
from Paris; for being cross the road, and quite detached, it is
to have nothing gothic about it, nor pretend to call cousins with
I know no more of the big world at London, than if I had not a
relation in the ministry. To be free from pain and politics is
such a relief to me, that I enjoy my little comforts and
amusements here beyond expression. No mortal ever entered the
gate of ambition with such transport as I took leave of them all
at the threshold. Oh! if my Lord Temple knew what pleasures he
could create for himself at Stowe, he would not harass a
shattered carcass, and sigh to be insolent at St. James's! For my
part, I say with the bastard in King John, though with a little
more reverence, and only as touching his ambition,
Oh! old Sir Robert, father, on my knee
I give Heaven thanks I was not like to thee.
Adieu! Yours most cordially.
(854) Lady Barbara Montagu, daughter of George second Earl of
(855) The Duke of Clarence, born on the 21st of August;
afterwards King William the Fourth.-'E.
(856) Madame de S`evign`e, whom Walpole frequently alludes to
under this title.-E.
Letter 261 To George Montagu, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, July 28, 1765. (page 413)
The less one is disposed, if one has any sense, to talk of
oneself to people that inquire only out of compliment, and do not
listen to the answer, the more satisfaction one feels in
indulging a self-complacency, by Sighing to those that really
sympathize with our griefs. Do not think it is pain that makes
me give this low-spirited air to my letter. No, it is the
prospect of what is to come, not the sensation of what is
passing, that affects me. The loss of youth is melancholy
enough; but to enter into old age through the gate of infirmity
is most disheartening. My health and spirits make me take but
slight notice of the transition, and under the persuasion of
temperance being a talisman, I marched boldly on towards the
descent of the hill, knowing I must fall at last, but not
suspecting that I should stumble by the way. This confession
explains the mortification I feel. A month's confinement to one
who never kept his bed a day is a stinging lesson, and has
humbled my insolence to almost indifference. Judge, then, how
little I interest myself about public events. I know nothing of
them since I came hither, where I had not only the disappointment
of not growing better, but a bad return In one of my feet, so
that I am still wrapped up and upon a couch. It was the more
unlucky as Lord Hertford is come to England for a few days. He
has offered to come to me; but as I then should see him only for
some minutes, I propose being carried to town tomorrow. It will
be SO long before I can expect to be able to travel, that my
French journey will certainly not take place so soon as I
intended, and if Lord Hertford goes to Ireland, I shall be still
more fluctuating; for though the Duke and Duchess of Richmond
will replace them at Paris, and are as eager to have me with
them, I have had so many more years heaped upon me within this
month, that I have not the conscience to trouble young people,
when I can no longer be as juvenile as they are. Indeed I shall
think myself decrepit till I again saunter into the garden in my
slippers and without my hat in all weathers--a point I am
determined to regain, if possible; for even this experience
cannot make me resign my temperance and my hardiness. I am tired
of the world, its politics, its pursuits, and its pleasures; but
it will cost me some struggles before I submit to be tender and
careful. Christ! can I ever stoop to the regimen of old age? I
do not wish to dress up a withered person, nor drag it about to
public places; but to sit in one's room, clothed warmly,
expecting visits from folk-, I don't wish to see, and tended and
flattered by relations impatient for one's death let the gout do
its worst as expeditiously as it can; it would be more welcome in
my stomach than in my limbs. I am not made to bear a course of
nonsense and advice, but must play the fool in my own way to the
last, alone with all my heart, if I cannot be with the very few I
wish to see: but, to depend for comfort on others, who would be
no comfort to me; this surely is not a state to be preferred to
death: and nobody can have truly enjoyed the advantages of youth,
health, and spirits, who is content to exist without the two
last, which alone bear any resemblance to the first.(853)
You see how difficult it is to conquer my proud spirit: low and
weak as I am, I think my resolution and perseverance will get me
better, and that I shall still be a gay shadow; at least, I will
impose any severity upon myself, rather than humour the gout, and
sink into that indulgence with which most people treat it.
Bodily liberty is as dear to me as mental, and I would as soon
flatter any other tyrant as the gout, my Whiggism extending as
much to my health as to my principles, and being as willing to
part with life, when I cannot preserve it, as your uncle Algernon
when his freedom was at stake. Adieu!
(853) Upon this passage the Quarterly Review observes: "Walpole's
reflections on human life are marked by strong sense and
knowledge of mankind; but our most useful lesson will perhaps be
derived from considering this man of the world, full of
information and sparkling with vivacity, stretched on a sick bed,
and apprehending all the tedious languor of helpless decrepitude
and deserted solitude." Vol. xix. p. 129.-E.
Letter 263 To George Montagu, Esq.
Saturday, Aug. 31, 1765, Strawberry Hill. (page 416)
I thought it would happen so; that I should not see you before I
left England! Indeed, I may as well give you quite up, for every
year reduces our Intercourse. I am prepared, because it must
happen, if I live, to see my friends drop off; but my mind was
not turned to see them entirely separated from me while they
live. This is very uncomfortable, but so are many things!--well!
I will go and try to forget you all--all! God knows that all that
I have left to forget is small enough; but the warm heart, that
gave me affections, is not so easily laid aside. If I could
divest myself of that, I should not, I think, find much for
friendship remaining; you, against whom I have no complaint, but
that you satisfy yourself with loving me without any desire of
seeing me, are one of the very last that I wish to preserve; but
I will say no more on a subject that my heart is too full of.
I shall set out on Monday se'nnight, and force myself to believe
that I am glad to go, and yet this will be my chief joy, for I
promise myself little pleasure in arriving. Can you think me boy
enough to be fond of a new world at my time of life! If I did not
hate the world I know, I should not seek another. My greatest
amusement will be in reviving old ideas. The memory of what made
impressions on one's youth is ten times dearer than any new
pleasure can be. I shall probably write to you often, for I am
not disposed to communicate myself' to any thing that I have not
known these thirty years. My mind is such a compound from the
vast variety that I have seen, acted, pursued, that it would cost
me too much pains to be intelligible to young persons, if I had a
mind to open myself to them. They certainly do not desire I
should. You like my gossiping to you, though you seldom gossip
with me. The trifles that amuse my mind are the only points I
value now. I have seen the vanity of every thing serious, and
the falsehood of every thing that pretended to be serious. I go
to see French plays and buy French china, not to know their
ministers, to look into their government, or think of the
interests of nations--in short, unlike most people that are
growing old, I am convinced that nothing is charming but what
appeared important in one's youth, which afterwards passes for
follies. Oh! but those follies were sincere; if the pursuits of
age are so, they are sincere alone to self-interest. Thus I
think, and have no other care but not to think aloud. I would
not have respectable youth think me an old fool. For the old
knaves, they may suppose me one of their number if they please; I
shall not be so--but neither the one nor the other shall know
what I am. I have done with them all, shall amuse myself as well
as I can, and think as little as I can; a pretty hard task for an
Direct your letters to Arlington-street, whence Favre will take
care to convey them to me. I leave him to manage all my affairs,
and take no soul but Louis. I am glad I don't know your Mrs.
Anne; her partiality would make me love her; and it is entirely
incompatible with my present system to leave even a postern-door
open to any feeling which would steal in if I did not double-bolt
If you send me any parcel to Arlington-street before Monday
.se'nnight I will take care of it. Many English books I conclude
are to be bought at Paris. I am sure Richardson's works are, for
they have stupefied the whole French nation:(857) I will not
answer for our best authors. You may send me your list, and, if
I do not find them, I can send you word, and you may convey them
to me by Favre's means, who will know of messengers, etc., coming
I have fixed no precise time for my absence. My wish is to like
it enough to stay till February, which may happen, if I can
support the first launching into new society. I know four or
five very agreeable and sensible people there, as the Guerchys,
Madame de Mirepoix, Madame de Boufflers, and Lady Mary Chabot,-
-these intimately; besides the Duc de Nivernois, and several
others that have been here. Then the Richmonds will follow me in
a fortnight or three weeks, and their house will be a sort of
home. I actually go into it at first, till I can suit myself
with an -,apartment; but I shall take care to quit it before they
come, for, though they are in a manner my children, I do not
intend to adopt the rest of my countrymen; nor, when I quit the
best company here, to live in the worst there; such @are young
travelling boys, and, what is still worse, old travelling boys,
Adieu! remember you have defrauded me of this summer; I will be
amply repaid the next, so make your arrangements accordingly.
(857) "High as Richardson's reputation stood in his own country,
it was even more exalted in those of France and Germany, whose
imaginations are more easily excited, and their passions more
easily moved, by tales of fictitious distress, than are the cold-
blooded English. Foreigners of distinction have been known to
visit Hampstead, and to inquire for the Flask Walk, distinguished
as a scene in Clarissa's history, just as travellers visit the
rocks of Meillerie to view the localities of Rousseau's tale of
passion. Diderot vied with Rousseau in heaping incense upon the
shrine of the English author. The former compares him to Homer,
and predicts for his memory the same honours which are rendered
to the father of epic poetry; and the last, besides his
well-known burst of eloquent panegyric, records his opinion in a
letter to D'Alembert:--'On n'a jamais fait encore, en quelque
langue que ce soit, de roman `egal `a Clarisse, ni m`eme
approchant.'" Sir Walter Scott; Prose Works, Vol. iii. p. 49.-E.
Letter 264 To The Earl Of Strafford.
Arlington Street, Sept. 3, 1765. (page 418)
My dear lord,
I cannot quit a country where I leave any thing that I honour so
much as your lordship and Lady Strafford, without taking a sort
of leave of you. I shall set out for Paris on Monday next the
9th, and shall be happy if I can execute any commission for you
A journey to Paris Sounds youthful and healthy. I have certainly
mended much this last week, though with no pretensions to a
recovery of youth. Half the view of my journey is to
re-establish my health--the other half, to wash my hands of
politics, which I have long determined to do whenever a change
should happen. I would not abandon my friends while they were
martyrs; but, now they have gained their crown of glory, they are
well able to shift for themselves; and it was no part of my
compact to go to that heaven, St. James's, with them. Unless I
dislike Paris very much, I shall stay some time; but I make no
declarations, lest I should be soon tired of it, and coming back
again. At first, I must like it, for Lady Mary Coke will be
there, as if by assignation. The Countesses of Carlisle and
Berkeley, too, I hear, will set up their staves there for some
time; but as my heart is faithful to Lady Mary, they would not
charm me if they were forty times more Disposed to it.
The Emperor' is dead,(858)--but so are all the Maximilians and
Leopolds his predecessors, and with no more influence on the
present state of things. The EmpressQueen will still be
master-Dowager unless she marries an Irishman, as I wish with all
my soul she may.
The Duke and Duchess of Richmond will follow me in about a
fortnight: Lord and Lady George Lennox go with them; and Sir
Charles Banbury and Lady Sarah are to be at Paris, too, for some
time: so the English court there will be very juvenile and
blooming. This set is rather younger than the dowagers with whom
I pass so much of my summers and autumns; but this is to be my
last sally into the world and when I return, I intend to be as
sober as my cat, and purr quietly in my own chimney corner.
Adieu, my dear lord! May every happiness attend you both, and may
I pass some agreeable days next summer with you at Wentworth
(858) Francis the First, Emperor of Germany, died at Inspruck, on
Sunday the 18th of August. He was in good health the greater part
of the day, and assisted at divine service; but, between nine and
ten in the evening, he was attacked by a fit of apoplexy, and
expired in a few minutes afterwards in the arms of his son, the
King of the Romans.-E.
Letter 265 To The Right Hon. Lady Hervey.
Arlington Street, Sept. 3, 1765. (page 419)
The trouble your ladyship has given yourself so immediately,
makes me, as I always am, ashamed of putting you to any. There
is no persuading you to oblige moderately. Do you know, Madam,
that I shall tremble to deliver the letters you have been so good
as to send me? If you have said half so much of me, as you are,
so partial as to think of me, I shall be undone. Limited as I
know myself, and hampered in bad French, how shall I keep up to
any character at all? Madame d'Aiguillon and Madame Geoffrin
will never believe that I am the true messenger, but will
conclude that I have picked Mr. Walpole's portmanteau's pocket.
I wish only to present myself to them as one devoted to your
ladyship; that character I am sure I can support in any language,
and it is the one to which they would pay the most regard. Well!
I don't care, Madam-it is your reputation that is at stake more
than mine; and, if they find me a simpleton that don't know how
to express myself, it will all fall upon you at last.' If your
ladyship will risk that, I will, if you please, thank you for a
letter to Madame d'Egmont, too: I long to know your friends,
though at the hazard of their knowing yours. Would I were a
jolly old man, to match, at least, in that respect, your jolly
old woman!(859)--But, alas! I am nothing but a poor worn-out rag,
and fear, when I come to Paris, that I shall be forced to pretend
that I have had the gout in my understanding. My spirits, such
as they are, will not bear translating; and I don't know whether
I shall not find it the wisest part I can take to fling myself
into geometry, or commerce, or agriculture, which the French now
esteem, don't understand, and think we do. They took George
Selwyn for a poet, and a judge of planting and dancing-. why may
I not pass for a learned man and a philosopher? If the worst
comes to the worst, I will admire Clarissa and Sir Charles
Grandison; and declare I have not a friend in the world that is
not like my Lord Edward Bomston, though I never knew a character
like it in my days, and hope I never shall; nor do I think
Rousseau need to have gone so far out of his way to paint a
If you think, Madam, this sally is not very favourable to the
country I am going to, recollect, that all I object to them is
their quitting their own agreeable style, to take up the worst of
ours. Heaven knows, we are unpleasing enough; but, in the first
place, they don't understand us; and in the next, if they did, so
much the worse for them. What have they gained by leaving
Moli`ere, Boileau, Corneille, Racine, La Rochefucault, Crebillon,
Marivaux, Voltaire, etc.? No nation can be another nation. We
have been clumsily copying them for these hundred years, and are
not we grown wonderfully like them? Come, madam, you like what I
like of them? I am going thither, and you have no aversion to
going thither--but own the truth; had not we both rather go
thither fourscore years ago? Had you rather be acquainted with
the charming madame Scarron, or the canting Madame de Maintenon?
with Louis XIV. when the Montespan governed him, or when P`ere le
Tellier? I am very glad when folks go to heaven, though it is
after another body's fashion; but I 'wish to converse with them
when they are themselves. I abominate a conqueror; but I do not
think he makes the world much compensation, by cutting the
throats of his Protestant subjects to atone for the massacres
caused by his ambition.
The result of all this dissertation, Madam--for I don't know how
to call it a letter--is, that I shall look for Paris in the midst
of Paris, and shall think more of the French that have been than
the French that are, except of a few of your friends and mine.
Those I know, I admire and honour, and I am sure I will trust to
your ladyship's taste for the others; and if they had no other
merit, I can but like those that will talk to me of you. They
will find more sentiment in me on that chapter, than they can
miss parts; and I flatter myself that the one will atone for the
(859) la Duchesse Douairi`ere d'Aiguillon, n`ee Chabot, mother of
the Duc d'Aiguillon, who succeeded the Duc de Choiseul as
minister for foreign affairs. She was a correspondent of Lady
Hervey's. In a letter to Walpole, of the 20th of November 1766,
madame du Deffand says:--"Je soupai Iiier chez Madame
d'Aiguillon: elle nous lut la traduction de la Lettre d'H`eloyse
de Pope, et d'un chant du po`eme de Salomon, de Prior; elle
`ecrit admirablement bien; j'en `etais r`eellement dans
l'enthousiasme: dites-le `a Milady Hervey." She died in 1772.-E.
Letter 266 To The Rev. Mr. Cole.
Strawberry Hill, Sept. 5, 1765. (page 420)
You cannot think how agreeable your letter was to me, and how
luckily it was timed. I thought you in Cheshire, and did not
know how to direct; I now sit down to answer it instantly.
I have been extremely ill indeed with the gout all over; in head,
stomach, both feet, both wrists, and both shoulders. I kept my
bed a fortnight in the most sultry part of this summer; and for
nine weeks could not say I was recovered. Though I am still
weak, and very soon tired with the least walk, I am in other
respects quite well. However, to promote my entire
reestablishment, I shall set out for Paris next Monday. Thus
your letter came luckily. To hear you talk of going thither,
too, made it most agreeable. Why should you not advance your
journey? Why defer it till the winter is coming on? It would
make me quite happy to visit churches and convents with you: but
they are not comfortable in cold weather. Do, I beseech you,
follow me as soon as possible. The thought of your being there
at the same time makes me much more pleased with my journey; you
will not, I hope, like it the less; and, if our meeting there
should tempt you to stay longer, it will make me still more
If, in the mean time, I can be of any use to you, I shall be glad
either in taking a lodging for you, Or any thing else. Let me
know, and direct to me in Arlington-street, whence my servant
Will convey it to me. Tell me above all things that you will set
If I have any money left when I return, and can find a place for
it, I shall be very glad to purchase the ebony cabinet you
mention, and will make it a visit with you next summer if you
please--but first let us go to Paris. I don't give up my passion
for ebony; but, since the destruction of the Jesuits, I hear one
can pick up so many of their spoils that I am impatient for the
I must finish, as I have so much business before I set out; but I
must repeat, how lucky the arrival of your letter was, how glad I
was to hear of your intended journey, and how much I wish it may
take place directly. I will only add that the court goes to
Fontainbleau, the last week in September, or first in October,
and therefore it is the season in the world for seeing all
Versailles quietly, and at one's ease. Adieu! dear sir, yours
Letter 267 To The Hon. H. S. Conway.
Amiens, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 1765. (page 421)
I have had a very prosperous journey till just at entering this
city. I escaped a Prince of Nassau at Dover, and sickness at
sea, though the voyage lasted seven hours and a half. I have
recovered my strength surprisingly in the time; though almost
famished for want of clean victuals, and comfortable tea and
bread and butter. half a mile from hence I met a coach and four
with an equipage of French, and a lady in pea-green and silver, a
smart hat and feather., and two suivantes. My reason told me it
was the Archbishop's concubine; but luckily my heart whispered
that it was Lady Mary Coke. I Jumped out of my chaise--yes,
jumped, as Mrs. Nugent said of herself, fell on my knees, and
said my first ave Maria, grati`a plena. We just shot a few
politics flying--heard that Madame de Mirepoix had toasted me
t'other day in tea--shook hands, forgot to weep, and parted; she
to the Hereditary Princess, I to this inn, where is actually
resident the Duchess of Douglas. We are not likely to have an
intercourse, or I would declare myself' a Hamilton.(860)
I find this country wonderfully enriched since I saw it
four-and-twenty years ago. Boulogne is grown quite a plump snug
town, with a number Of new houses. The worst villages are tight,
and wooden shoes have disappeared. Mr. Pitt and the city of
London may fancy what they will, but France will not come
a-begging to the Mansion-house this year or two. In truth. I
impute this air of opulence a little to ourselves. The crumbs
that fall from the chaises of the swarms of English that visit
Paris, must have contributed to fatten this province. It is
plain I must have little to do when I turn my hand to
calculating: but here is my observation. From Boulogne to Paris
it will cost me near ten guineas; but then consider, I travel
alone, and carry Louis most part of the way in the chaise with
me. Nous autres milords Anglais are not often so frugal. Your
brother, last year, had ninety-nine English to dinner on the
King's birthday. How many of them do you think dropped so little
as ten guineas on this road? In short, there are the seeds of a
calculation for you, and if you will water them with a torrent of
words, they will produce such a dissertation, that you will be
able to vie with George Grenville next session in plans of
national economy-only be sure not to tax travelling till I come
back, loaded with purchases; nor, till then, propagate my ideas.
It will be time enough for me to be thrifty of the nation's
money, when I have spent all my own.
While they are getting my dinner, I continue my journal. The
Duchess of Douglas (for English are generally the most
extraordinary persons that we meet with even out of England) left
Amiens before me, on her way home. You will not guess what she
carries with her--Oh! nothing that will hurt our manufactures;
nor what George Grenville himself would seize. One of her
servants died at Paris: she had him embalmed, and the body is
tied before her chaise: a droll way of being chief mourner.
For a French absurdity, I have observed that along the great
roads they plant walnut-trees, but strip them up for firing. It
is like the owl that bit off the feet of mice, that they might
lie still and fatten.
At the foot of this hill is an old-fashioned ch`ateau belonging
to the Duke of Fitz-James, with a parc en quincunx and clipped
hedges. We saw him walking in his waistcoat and riband, very
well powdered; a figure like Guerchy. I cannot say his seat
rivals Goodwood or Euston.(861) I shall lie at Chantilly
to-night, for I did not Set Out till ten this morning--not
because I could not, as you will suspect, get up sooner--but
because all the horses in the country have attended the Queen to
Nancy.(862) Besides, I have a little Underplot of seeing
Chantilly and St. Denis in my way: which you know one could not
do in the dark to-night, nor in winter, if I return then.
H`otel de feue Madame l'Ambassadrice d'Angleterre,
Sept. 13, seven o'clock.
I am Just arrived. My Lady Hertford is not at home, and Lady
Anne(863) will not come out of her burrow: so I have just time to
finish this before Madame returns; and Brian sets out to-night
and will carry it. I find I shall have a great deal to say:
formerly I observed nothing, and now remark every thing minutely.
I have already fallen in love with twenty things, and in hate
with forty. Adieu! yours ever.
(860) The memorable cause between the houses of Douglas and
Hamilton was then pending.-E.
(861) The Duc de Fitzjames's father, Mareschal Berwick, was a
natural son of James II. Mr. Walpole therefore compares his
country-seat with those of the Dukes of Richmond and Grafton,
similar descendants from his brother, Charles II.-E.
(862) Stanislaus King of Poland, father to the Queen of Louis XV.
lived at Nancy.-E.
(863) Lady Anne Seymour Conway, afterwards married to the Earl of
Letter 268 To the Right Hon. Lady Hervey.
Paris, Sept. 14, 1765. (page 423)
I am but two days old here, Madam, and I doubt I wish I was
really so, and had my life to begin, to live it here. You see
how just I am, and ready to make amende honorable to your
ladyship. Yet I have seen very little. My Lady Hertford has cut
me to pieces, and thrown me into a caldron with tailors,
periwig-makers, snuff-box-wrights, milliners, etc. which really
took up but little time; and I am come out quite new, with every
thing but youth. The journey recovered me with magic expedition.
My strength, if mine could ever be called strength, is returned;
and the gout going off in a minuet step. I will say nothing of
my spirits, which are indecently juvenile, and not less improper
for my age than for the country where I am; which, if you will
give me leave to say it, has a thought too much gravity. I don't
venture to laugh Or talk nonsense, but in English.
Madame Geoffrin came to town but last night, and is not visible
on Sundays; but I hope to deliver your ladyship's letter and
packet to-morrow. Mesdames d'Aiguillon, d'Egmont, and Chabot,
and the Duc de Nivernois are all in the country. Madame de
Bouttlers is at l'Isle Adam, whither my Lady Hertford is gone
to-night to sup, for the first time, being no longer chained down
to the incivility of an ambassadress. She returns after supper;
an irregularity that frightens me, who have not got rid of all my
barbarisms. There is one, alas! I never shall get over--the dirt
of this country: it is melancholy, after the purity of
Strawberry! The narrowness of the streets, trees clipped to
resemble brooms, and planted on pedestals of chalk, and a few
other points, do not edify me. The French Opera, which I have
heard to-night, disgusted me as much as ever; and the more for
being followed by the Devin de Village, which shows that they can
sing without cracking the drum of one's ear. The scenes and
dances are delightful; the Italian comedy charming. Then I am in
love with treillage and fountains, and will prove it at
Strawberry. Chantilly is so exactly what it was when I saw it
above twenty years ago, that I recollected the very position of
Monsieur le Duc's chair and the gallery. The latter gave me the
first idea of mine; but, presumption apart, mine is a thousand
times prettier. I gave my Lord Herbert's compliments to the
statue of his friend the Constable -,(864) and, waiting some time
for the concierge, I called out, O`u est Vatel?(865)
In short, Madam, being as tired as one can be of one's own
country,--I don't say whether that is much or little,--I find
myself wonderfully disposed to like this. Indeed I wish I Could
wash it. Madame de Guerchy is all goodness to me; but that is
not new. I have already been prevented by great civilities from
Madame de Bentheim and my old friend Madame de Mirepoix; but am
not likely to see the latter much, who is grown a most particular
favourite of the King, and seldom from him. The Dauphin is ill,
and thought in a very bad way. I hope he will live, lest the
theatres should be shut up. Your ladyship knows I never trouble
my head about royalties, farther than it affects my own interest.
In truth, the way that princes affect my interest is not the
I have not yet tapped the chapter of baubles, being desirous of
making my revenues maintain me here as long as possible, It will
be time enough to return to my Parliament when I want money.
Mr. Hume that is the Mode,(866) asked much about your ladyship.
I have seen Madame de Monaco(867) and think her very handsome,
and extremely pleasing. The younger Madame d'Egmont,(868) I
hear, disputes the palm with her: and Madame de Brionne(869) is
not left without partisans. The nymphs of the theatres are
laides `a faire peur which at my age is a piece of luck, like
going into a shop of curiosities, and finding nothing to tempt
one to throw away one's money.
There are several English here, whether I will or not. I
certainly did not come for them, and shall connect with them as
little as possible. The few I value, I hope sometimes to hear
of. Your ladyship guesses how far that wish extends. Consider
too, Madam, that one of my unworthinesses is washed and done
away, by the confession I made in the beginning of my letter.
(864) The Constable de Montmorency.-E.
(865) The ma`itre-d'h`otel, who, during the visit which Louis
XIV. made to the grand Cond`e at Chantilly, put an end to his
existence, because he feared the sea-fish would not arrive in
time for one day's repast.
(866) "Hume's conversation to strangers," says Lord Charlemont,
"and still more particularly, one would suppose, to French women,
could be little delightful; and yet no lady's toilette was
complete without his attendance. At the Opera, his broad,
unmeaning face was usually seen entre deux jolis minois: the
ladies in France gave the ton, and the ton was deism."-E.
(867) Madame de Monaco, afterwards Princess de Cond`e.-E.
(868) Daughter of the celebrated Marshal Duc de Richelieu. See
vol. iii. p. 358, letter 233, note 710. She was one of the
handsomest women in France.-E.
(869) Madame de Brionne, n`ee Rohan Rochefort, wife of M. de
Brionne of the house of Lorraine, and mother of the Prince de
Lambesc; known by his imprudent conduct at the head of his
regiment in the garden of the Tuileries, at the commencement of
Letter 269 To The Rev. Mr. Cole.
Paris, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 1765. (page 424)
I have this moment received your letter, and as a courier is just
setting out, I had rather take the opportunity of writing to you
a short letter than defer it for a longer.
I had a very good passage, and pleasant journey, and find myself
surprisingly recovered for the time. Thank you for the good news
you tell me of your coming: it gives me great joy.
To the end of this week I shall be in Lord Hertford's house; so
have not yet got a lodging: but when I do, you will easily find
me. I have no banker, but credit on a merchant who is a private
friend of ]lord Hertford; consequently, I cannot give you credit
on him: but you shall have the use of my credit, which will be
the same thing; and we can settle our accounts together. I
brought about a hundred pounds with me, as I would advise you to
do. Guineas you may change into louis or French crowns at Calais
and Boulogne; and even small bank-bills will be taken here. In
any shape I will assist you. Be careful on the road. My
portmanteau, with part of my linen, was stolen from before my
chaise at noon, while I went to see Chantilly. If you stir out
of your room, lock the door of it in the inn, or leave your man
in it. If you arrive near the time you propose, you will find me
here, and I hope much longer.
Letter 270 To George Montagu, Esq.
Paris, Sept. 22, 1765. (page 425)
The concern I felt at not seeing you before I left England, might
make me express myself warmly, but I assure you it was nothing
but concern, nor was mixed with a grain of pouting. I knew some
of your reasons, and guessed others. The latter grieve me
heartily; but I advise you to do as I do - when I meet with
ingratitude, I take a short leave both of it and its host.
Formerly I used to look out for indemnification somewhere else;
but having lived long enough to learn that the reparation
generally proved a second evil of the same sort, I am content now
to skin over such wounds with amusements, which at least have no
scars. It is true, amusements do not always amuse when we bid
them. I find it so here; nothing strikes me; every thing I do is
indifferent to me. I like the people very well, and their way of
life very well; but as neither were my object, I should not much
care if they were any other people, or it was any other way of
life. I am out of England and my purpose is answered.
Nothing can be more obliging than the reception I meet with every
where. It may not be more sincere (and why should it?) than our
cold and bare civility; but it is better dressed, and looks
natural: one asks no more. I have begun to sup in French houses,
and as Lady Hertford has left Paris to-day, shall increase my
intimacies. There are swarms of English here, but most of them
are going, to my great satisfaction. As the greatest part are
very young, they can no more be entertaining to me than I to
them, and it certainly was not my countrymen that I came to live
with. Suppers please me extremely; I love to rise and breakfast
late, and to trifle away the day as I like. there are sights
enough to answer that end, and shops you know are an endless
field for me The city appears much worse to me than I thought I
remembered it. The French music as shocking as I knew it was.
The French stage is fallen off though in the only part I have
seen Le Kain(870) I admire him extremely. He is very ugly and
ill made,(871) and yet has an heroic dignity which Garrick wants,
and great fire. The Dumenil I have not seen yet, but shall in a
day or two. It is a mortification that I cannot compare her with
the Clairon,(872) who has left the stage. Grandval I saw through
a whole play without suspecting it was he. Alas! four-and-twenty
years make strange havoc with us mortals! You cannot imagine how
this struck me! The Italian comedy, now united with their Opera
comique, is their most perfect diversion; but alas! Harlequin, my
dear favourite harlequin, my passion, makes me more melancholy
than cheerful. Instead of laughing, I sit silently reflecting
how every thing loses charms when one's own youth does not lend.
its gilding! When we are divested of that eagerness and illusion
with which our youth presents objects to us, we are but the caput
mortuum of pleasure.
Grave as these ideas are, they do not unfit me for French
company. The present tone is serious enough in conscience.
unluckily, the subjects of their conversation are duller to me
than my own thoughts, which may be tinged with melancholy
reflections, but I doubt from my constitution will never be
The French affect philosophy, literature, and freethinking: the
first never did, and never will possess me; of the two others I
have long been tired. Freethinking is for one's self, surely not
for society; besides one has settled one's way of thinking, or
knows it cannot be settled, and for others I do not see why there
is not as much bigotry in attempting conversions from any
religion as to it. I dined to-day with a dozen savans, and
though all the servants were waiting, the conversation was much
more unrestrained, even on the Old Testament, than I would suffer
at my own table in England, if a single footman was present. For
literature, it is very amusing when one has nothing else to do.
I think it rather pedantic in society; tiresome when displayed
professedly; and, besides, in this country one is sure, it is
only the fashion of the day. Their taste in it is worst of
all: could one believe that when they read our authors,
Richardson and Mr. Hume should be their favourites? The latter is
treated here with perfect veneration. His history, so falsified
in many points, so partial in as many, so very unequal in its
parts, is thought the standard of writing.
In their dress and equipages they are grown very simple. We
English are living upon their old gods and goddesses; I roll
about in a chariot decorated with cupids, and look like the
grandfather of Adonis.
Of their parliaments and clergy I hear a good deal, and attend
very little - I cannot take up any history in the middle, and was
too sick of politics at home to enter into them here. In short,
I have done with the world, and live in it rather than in a
desert, like you. Few men can bear absolute retirement, and we
English worst of all. We grow so humoursome, so obstinate and
capricious, and so prejudiced, that it requires a fund of
good-nature like yours not to grow morose. Company keeps our
rind from growing too coarse and rough; and though at my return I
design not to mix in public, I do not intend to be quite a
recluse. My absence will put it in my power to take up or drop
as much as I please. Adieu! I shall inquire about your
commission of books, but having been arrived but ten days, have
not yet had time. Need I say?--no I need not--that nobody can be
more affectionately yours than, etc.
870) Le Kain was born at Paris in 1725, and died there in 1778.
He was originally brought up a surgical instrument maker; but his
dramatic talents having been made known to Voltaire, he took him
under his instructions, and secured him an engagement at the
Fran`cais, where he performed for the first time in 1750.-E.
(871) "Cet acteur," says Baron de Grimm, "n'est presque jamais
faux, mais malheureusement il a voix, figure, tout, contre lui.
Une sensibilit`e forte et profonde, qui faisait disparaitre la
laideur de ses traits sous le charme de l'expression dont elle
les rendait susceptible, et ne laissait aper`cevoir que lea
caract`ere et la passion dont son `ame `etait remplie, et lui
donnait @ chaque instant de nouvelles formes et nouvel `etre."-E.
(872) See ant`e, p. 383, letter 245. Mademoiselle Clairon was
born in 1723, and made her first appearance at Paris in 1743, in
the character of Ph`edre. She died at Paris in 1803. Several of
her letters to the British Roscius will be found in the Garrick
Correspondence. On her acting, when in the Zenith of her
reputation, Dr. Grimm passes the following judgment:--"Belle
Clairon, vous avez beaucoup d'esprit: votre jeu est profond`ement
raisonn`e; mais la passion a-t-elle le temps de raisoner? Vous
n'avez ni naturel ni entrailles; vous ne d`echirez jamais les
miennes; vous ne faites jamais couler mes pleurs; vous mettez des
silences `a tout; vous voulez faire sentir chaque hemistiche; et
lorsque tout fait effet dans votre jeu, je vois que la totalit`e
de la sc`ene n'en fait plus aucun."-E.
Letter 271 To The Right Hon. Lady Hervey.
Paris, Oct. 3, 1765. (page 427)
Still, I have seen neither Madame d'Egmont nor the Duchess
d'Aiguillon, who are in the country; but the latter comes to
Paris to-morrow. Madame Chabot I called on last night. She Was
not at home, but the H`otel de Carnavalet;(873) was; and I
stopped on purpose to say an ave-maria before it. It is a very
singular building, not at all in the French style, and looks like
an ex voto raised to her honour by some of her foreign votaries.
I don't think her honoured half enough in her own country. I
shall burn a little incense before your Cardinal's heart,(874)
Madam, `a votre intention.
I have been with Madame Geoffrin several times, and think she has
one of the best understandings I ever met, and more knowledge of
the world. I may be charmed with the French, but your ladyship
must not expect that they will fall in love with me. Without
affecting to lower myself, the disadvantage of speaking a
language worse than any idiot one meets, is insurmountable: the
silliest Frenchman is eloquent to me, and leaves me embarrassed
and obscure. I could name twenty other reasons, if this one was
not sufficient. As it is, my own defects are the sole cause of
my not liking Paris entirely: the constraint I am under from not
being perfectly master of their language, and from being so much
in the dark, as one necessarily must be, on half the subjects of
their conversation, prevents me enjoying that ease for which
their society is calculated. I am much amused, but not
The Duc de Nivernois is extremely good to me; he inquired much
after your ladyship. So does Colonel Drumgold.(875) The latter
complains; but both of them, especially the Duc, seem better than
when in England. I met the Duchesse de COSS`e,(876) this evening
at Madame Geoffrin's. She is pretty, with a great resemblance to
her father; lively and good-humoured, not genteel.
Yesterday I went through all my presentations at Versailles.
'Tis very convenient to gobble up a whole royal family in an
hour's time, instead of being sacrificed one week at
Leicester-house, another in Grosvenor-street, a third in
Cavendish-square, etc. etc. etc. La Reine is le plus grand roi
du monde,(877) and talked much to me, and would have said more if
I would have let her; but I was awkward and shrunk back into the
crowd. None of the rest spoke to me. The King is still much
handsomer than his pictures, and has great sweetness in his
countenance, instead of that farouche look which they give him.
The Mesdames are not beauties, and yet have something Bourbon in
their faces. The Dauphiness I approve the least of all: with
nothing good-humoured in her countenance, she has a look and
accent that made me dread lest I should be invited to a private
party at loo with her.(878) The poor Dauphin is ghastly, and
perishing before one's eyes.
Fortune bestowed on me a much more curious sight than a set of
princes; the wild beast of the Govaudan,(879) which is killed,
and actually is in the Queen's antechamber. It is a thought less
than a leviathan, and the beast in the Revelations, and has not
half so many wings, and yes, and talons, as I believe they have,
or will have some time or other; this being possessed but of two
eyes, four feet, and no wings at all. It is as fine a wolf' as a
commissary in the late war, except, notwithstanding all the
stories, that it has not devoured near so many persons. In
short, Madam, now it is dead and come, a wolf it certainly was,
and not more above the common size than Mrs. Cavendish is. It has
left a dowager and four young princes.
Mr. Stanley, who I hope will trouble himself with this, has been
most exceedingly kind and obliging to me. I wish that, instead
of my being so much in your ladyship's debt, you were a little in
Mine, and then I would beg you to thank him for me. Well, but as
it is, why should not you, Madam? He will be charmed to be so
paid, and you will not dislike to please him. In short, I would
fain have him know my gratitude; and it is hearing it in the most
agreeable way, if expressed by your ladyship.
(873) Madame de S`evign`e's residence in Paris.-E.
(874) The Cardinal de Richelieu's heart at the Sorbonne.-E.
(875) Colonel Drumgold was born at Paris in 1730, and died there
in 1786. Dr. Johnson, in giving Boswell an account of his visit
to Paris in 1775, made the following mention of him: "I was just
beginning to creep into acquaintance, by means of Colonel
Drumgold, a very high man, Sir, head of l,'Ecole Militaire, and a
most complete character, for he had first been a professor of
rhetoric, and then became a soldier." He was The author of "La
Gaiet`e," a poem, and several other pieces.-E.
(876) wife of the Duc de Coss`e Brisac, governor of Paris. She
was a daughter of the Duc de Nivernois.-E.
(877) Madame de S`evign`e thus expresses herself of Louis XIV.
after his having taken much notice of her at Versailles.-E.
(878) He means, that the Dauphiness had a resemblance to the
(879) This enormous wolf, for wolf it proved to be, gave rise to
many extraordinary reports. The following account of it is from
the Gentleman's Magazine for 1764: "A very strange description is
given in the Paris Gazette of a wild beast that has appeared in
the neighbourhood of Langagne and the forest of Mercoire, and has
occasioned great consternation. It has already devoured twenty
persons, chiefly Children, and particularly young, girls; and
scarce a day passes without some accidents. the terror it
occasions prevents the woodcutters from working in the forest.
those who have seen him say he is much higher than a wolf, low
before, and his feet are armed with talons. His hair is reddish,
his head large, and the muzzle of it shaped like that of a
greyhound; his ears are small and straight, his breast wide and
of a gray colour; his back streaked with black; and his mouth
which is large, is provided with a set of teeth so very sharp
that they have taken off several heads as clean as a razor could
have done. He is of amazing swiftness; but when he aims at his
prey, he couches so close to the ground that he hardly appears to
be bigger than a large fox, and at the distance of one or two
fathoms he rises upon his hind legs and springs upon his prey,
which he always seizes by the neck or throat. The consternation
is universal throughout the districts where he commits his
ravages, and public prayers are offered up upon this occasion.
The Marquis de Morangis has sent out four hundred peasants to
destroy this fierce beast; but they have not been able to do it.
He has since been killed by a soldier, and appears to be a
Letter 272 To John Chute, Esq.
Paris, Oct. 3, 1765. (page 429)
I don't know where you are, nor when I am likely to hear of you.
I write it random, and, as I talk, the first thing that comes
into my pen.
I am, as you certainly conclude, much more amused than pleased.
At a certain time of life, sights and new objects may entertain
one, but new people cannot find any place in one's affection.
New faces with some name or other belonging to them, catch my
attention for a minute--I cannot say many preserve it. Five or
six of the women that I have seen already are very sensible. The
men are in general much inferior, and not even agreeable. They
sent us their best, I believe, at first, the Duc de Nivernois.
Their authors, who by the way are every where, are worse than
their own writings, which I don't mean as a compliment to either.
In general, the style of conversation is solemn, pedantic, and
seldom animated, but by a dispute. I was expressing my aversion
to disputes Mr. Hume, who very gratefully admires the tone of
Paris, having never known any other tone, said with great
surprise, "Why, what do you like, if you hate both disputes and
whisk?" What strikes me the most upon the whole is, the total
difference of manners between them and us, from the greatest
object to the least. There is not the smallest similitude in the
twenty-four hours. It is, obvious in every trifle. Servants
carry their lady's train, and put her into her coach with their
hat on. They walk about the streets in the rain with umbrellas
to avoid putting on their hats - driving themselves in open
chaises in the country without hats, in the rain too, and yet
often wear them in a chariot in Paris when it does not rain. The
very footmen are powdered from the break of day, and yet wait
behind their master, as I saw the Duc of Praslin's do, with a red
pocket handkerchief about their necks. Versailles, like every
thing else, is a mixture of parade and poverty, and in every
instance exhibits something most dissonant from our manners. In
the colonnades, upon the staircases, nay in the antechambers of
the royal family, there are people selling all sorts of wares.
While we were waiting in the Dauphin's sumptuous bedchamber, till
his dressing-room door should be opened, two fellows were
sweeping it, and dancing about in sabots to rub the floor.
You perceive that I have been presented. The Queen took great
notice of me; none of the rest said a syllable. You are let into
the King's bedchamber just as he has put on his shirt; he dresses
and talks good-humouredly to a few, glares at strangers, goes to
mass--to dinner, and a-hunting. The good old Queen, who is like
Lady Primrose in the face, and Queen Caroline in the immensity of
her cap, is at her dressing-table, attended by two or three old
ladies, who are languishing to be in Abraham's bosom, as the only
man's bosom to whom they can hope for admittance. Thence you go
to the Dauphin, for all is done in an hour. He scarce stays a
minute; indeed, poor creature, he is a ghost, and cannot possibly
last three months. The Dauphiness is in her bedchamber, but
dressed and standing; looks cross, is not civil, and has the true
Westphalian grace and accents. The four Mesdames, who are clumsy
plump old wenches, with a bad likeness to their father, stand in
a bedchamber in a row, with black cloaks and knotting-bags,
looking good-humoured, not knowing what to say, and wriggling as
if they wanted to make water. This ceremony too is very short:
then you are carried to the Dauphin's three boys, who you may be
sure only bow and stare. The Duke of Berry(880) looks weak, and
weak-eyed: the Count de ProvenCe(881) is a fine boy; the Count
d'Artois(882) well enough. The whole concludes with seeing the
Dauphin's little girl dine, who is as round and as fat as a
the Queen's antechamber we foreigners and the foreign ministers
were shown the famous beast of the Govaudan, just arrived, and
covered with a cloth, which two chasseurs lifted up. It is an
absolute wolf, but uncommonly large, and the expression of agony
and fierceness remains strongly imprinted on its dead jaws.
I dined at the Duc of Praslin's with four-and-twenty ambassadors
and envoys, who never go out but on Tuesdays to court. He does
the honours sadly, and I believe nothing else well, looking
important and empty. The Duc de Choiseul's face, which is quite
the reverse of gravity, does not promise much more. His wife is
gentle, pretty, and very agreeable. The Duchess of Praslin,
jolly, red-faced, looking very vulgar, and being very attentive
and civil. I saw the Duc de Richelieu in waiting, who is pale,
except his nose, which is red, much wrinkled, and exactly a
remnant of that age which produced General Churchill, Wilkes the
player, the Duke of Argyle, etc. Adieu!
(880) Afterwards the unfortunate Louis XVI.-E.
(881) Afterwards Louis XVIII.-E.
(882) Afterwards Charles X.-E
Letter 273 To The Hon. H. S. Conway.
Paris, Oct, 6, 1765. (page 431)
I am glad to find that you grow just, and that you do conceive at
last, that I could do better than stay in England for politics.
"Tenez, mon enfant," as the Duchesse de la Fert`e said to Madame
Staal;(883) "comme il n'y a que moi au monde qui aie toujours
raison," I will be very reasonable; as you have made this
concession to me, who knew I was in the right I will not expect
you to answer all my reasonable letters. If you send a bullying
letter to the King of Spain,(884) or to Chose, my neighbour
here,(885) I will consider them as written to myself, and
subtract so much from your bill. Nay, I will accept a line from
Lady Ailesbury now and then in part of payment. I shall continue
to write as the wind sets in my pen; and do own my babble does
not demand much reply.
For so reasonable a person as I am, I have changed my mind very
often about this country. The first five days I was in violent
spirits; then came a dismal cloud of whisk and literature, and I
could not bear it. At present I begin, very englishly indeed, to
establish a right to my own way. I laugh, and talk nonsense, and
make them hear me. There are two or three houses where I go
quite at my ease, am never asked to touch a card, nor hold
dissertations. Nay, I don't pay homage to their authors. Every
woman has one or two planted in her house, and God knows how they
water them. The old President HainaUlt(886) is the pagod at
Madame du Deffand's, an old blind debauch`ee of wit, where I
supped last night. The President is very near deaf, and much
nearer superannuated. He sits by the table: the mistress of the
house, who formerly was his, inquires after every dish on the
table, is told who has eaten of which, and then bawls the bill of
fare of every individual into the President's ears. In short,
every mouthful is proclaimed, and so is every blunder I make
against grammar. Some that I make on purpose, succeed: and one
of them is to be reported to the Queen to-day by Hainault, who is
her great favourite. I had been at Versailles and having been
much taken notice of by her Majesty, I said, alluding to madame
S`evign`e, La Reine est le plus grand roi du monde. You may
judge if I am in possession by a scene that passed after supper.
Sir James macdonald(887) had been mimicking Hume: I told the
women, who, besides the mistress, were the Duchess de la
Vali`ere,(888) Madame de Forcalquier,(889) a demoiselle, that to
be sure they would be glad to have a specimen of Mr. Pitt's
manner of speaking; and that nobody mimicked him so well as
Elliot.(890) They firmly believed it, teased him for an hour,
and at last said he was the rudest man in the world not to oblige
them. It appeared the more strange, because here every body
sings, reads their own works in public, or attempts any one thing
without hesitation or capacity. Elliot speaks miserable French;
which added to the diversion.
I had had my share of distress in the morning, by going through
the operation of being presented to the royal family, down to the
little Madame's pap-dinner, and had behaved as sillily as you
will easily believe; hiding myself behind every mortal. The
Queen called me up to her dressing-table, and seemed mightily
disposed to gossip with me; but instead of enjoying my glory like
Madame de S`evign`e, I slunk back into the crowd after a few
questions. She told Monsieur de Guerchy of it afterwards, and
that I had run away from her, but said she would have her revenge
at Fontainbleau. So I must go thither, which I do not intend.
The King, Dauphin, Dauphiness, Mesdames, and the wild beasts did
not say a word to me. Yes, the wild beast, he of the Gevaudan.
He is killed, and actually in the Queen's antechamber, where he
was exhibited to us with as much parade as if it was Mr. Pitt.
It is an exceedingly large wolf, and, the connoisseurs say, has
twelve teeth more than any wolf ever had since the days of
Romulus's wet nurse. The critics deny it to be the true beast;
and I find most people think the beast's name is legion,--for
there are many. He was covered with a sheet, which two chasseurs
lifted up for the foreign ministers and strangers. I dined at
the Duke of Praslin's with five-and-twenty tomes of the corps
diplomatique; and after dinner was presented, by Monsieur de
Guerchy, to the Duc de Choiseul. The Duc de Praslin is as like
his own letters in D'Eon's book as he can stare; that is, I
believe a very silly fellow. His wisdom is of the grave kind.
His cousin, the first minister, is a little volatile being, whose
countenance and manner had nothing to frighten me for my country.
I saw him but for three seconds, which is as much as he allows to
any one body or thing. Monsieur de Guerchy, whose goodness to me
is inexpressible, took the trouble of walking every where with
me, and carried me particularly to see the new office for state
papers. I wish I could send it you. It is a large building,
disposed like an hospital, with the most admirable order and
method. Lodgings for every officer; his name and business
written over his door. In the body is a perspective of seven or
eight large chambers: each is painted with emblems, and
wainscoted with presses with wired doors and crimson curtains.
Over each press, in golden letters, the country to which the
pieces relate, as Angleterre, Allemagne, etc. Each room has a
large funnel of bronze with or moulu, like a column to air the
papers and preserve them. In short, it is as magnificent as
Prom thence I went to see the reservoir of pictures at M. de
Marigny's. They are what are not disposed of in the palaces,
though sometimes changed with others. This refuse, which fills
many rooms from top to bottom, is composed of the most glorious
works of Raphael, L. da Vinci, Giorgione, Titian, Guido,
Correggio, etc. Many pictures, which I knew by their prints,
without an idea where they existed, I found there.
The Duc de Nivernois is extremely obliging to me. I have supped
at Madame de Bentheim's, who has a very fine house and a woful
husband. She is much livelier than any Frenchwoman. The
liveliest I have seen is the Duc de Duras:(891) he is shorter and
plumper Lord Halifax, but very like him in the face. I am to sup
with the Dussons(892) on Sunday. In short, all that have been in
England are exceedingly disposed to repay any civilities they
received there. Monsieur de Caraman wrote from the country to
excuse his not coming to see me, as his Wife is On the point of
being brought to bed, but begged I would come to them. So I
would, if I was a man-midwife: but though they are easy On Such
heads, I am not used to it, and cannot make a party of pleasure
of a labour.
Wilkes arrived here two days ago, and announced that he was going
minister to Constantinople.(893) To-day I hear he has lowered
his credentials, and talks of going to England, if he can make
his peace.(894) I thought by the manner in which this was
mentioned to me, that the person meant to Sound me: but I made no
answer: for, having given up politics in England, I certainly did
not come to transact them here. He has not been to make me the
first visit, which, as the last arrived, depends on him: so,
never having spoken to him in my life, I have no call to seek
him. I avoid all politics so much, that I had not heard one word
here about Spain. I suppose my silence passes for very artful
mystery, and puzzles the ministers who keep spies on the most
insignificant foreigner. It would have been lucky if I had been
as watchful. At Chantilly I lost my portmanteau with half my
linen; and the night before last I was robbed of a new frock,
waistcoat, and breeches, laced with gold, a white and silver
waistcoat, black velvet breeches, a knife, and a book. These are
expenses I did not expect, and by no means entering into my
system of extravagance.
I am very sorry for the death of Lord Ophaly, and for his family.
I knew the poor young man himself but little, but he seemed
extremely good-natured. What the Duke of Richmond will do for a
hotel, I cannot conceive. Adieu!
(883) See M`emoires de Madame de Staal (the first authoress of
that name) published with the rest of her works, in three small
(884) Mr. Conway was now secretary of state for the foreign
(885) Louis XV.-E.
(886) Le Pr`esident Hainault, surintendant de la maison de
Mademoiselle la Dauphine, membre de l'Acad`emie Fran`caise et de
l'Acad`emie des Inscriptions, known by his celebrated work, the
Abr`eg`e Chronologique de l'Histoire, de France, and from the
excellent table which he kept, and which was the resort of all
the wits and savans of the day. His cook was considered the best
in Paris, and the master was worthy of his cook; a fact which
Voltaire celebrates in the opening lines of the epitaph which he
wrote for him--
"Hainault, fameux par vos soupers,
Et votre Chronologic," etc.-E.
(887) Sir James Macdonald of Macdonald, the eighth baronet, who
died at Rome on the 26th of July 1766, in the twenty-fifth year
of his age, regretted by all who knew him. In the inscription on
his monument, executed at Rome and erected in the church of
Slate, his character is thus drawn by his friend Lord
Lyttelton:--"He had attained to so eminent a degree of knowledge
in mathematics, philosophy, languages, and in every branch of
useful and polite learning, as few have acquired in a long life
wholly devoted to study; yet to this erudition he joined, what
can rarely be found with it, great talents for business, great
propriety of behaviour, great politeness of manners: his
eloquence was sweet, correct and flowing; his memory vast and
exact; his judgment strong and acute." On visiting Slate, in
1773, Dr. Johnson observed to Boswell, that this inscription
"should have been in Latin, as every thing intended to be
universal and permanent should be." Upon this mr. Croker
remarks,--"What a strange Perversion of language!--universal!
Why, if it had been in Latin, so far from being universally
understood, it would have been an utter blank to one (the better)
half of the creation, and even of the men who might visit it,
ninety-nine will understand it in English for one who could in
Latin. Something may be said for epitaphs and inscriptions
addressed, as it were, to the world at large--a triumphal arch --
the pillar at Blenheim--the monument on the field of Waterloo:
but a Latin epitaph in an English church, appears, in principle,
as absurd as the dinner, which the doctor gives in Peregrine
Pickle, 'after the manner of the ancients.' A mortal may surely
be well satisfied if his fame lasts as long as the language in
which he spoke or wrote."-E.
(888) La Duchesse de la Vali`ere, daughter of the Duc d'Usez.
She was one of the handsomest women in France, and preserved her
beauty even to old age. She died about the year 1792, at the age
(889) The Comtesse de Forcalquier, n`ee Canizy. She had ben
first married to the Comte d'Antin, son to the Comtesse de
Toulouse, by a marriage previous to that with the Comte de
Toulouse, one of the natural children of Louis Quatorze, whom he
(890) Sir Gilbert Elliot Of Minto. He was appointed a lord of
the admiralty in 1756, treasurer of the chamber in 1762, keeper
of the signets for Scotland in 1767, and treasurer of the navy in
1770. He died in 1777.-E.
(891) Le Duc de Duras, one of the gentlemen of the bedchamber at
the court of France.-E.
(892) M. D'Usson, who had formerly been in England in a
diplomatic capacity; see ant`e p. 219, letter 157. He was
brother to the Marquis de Bonnac, the French ambassador at the
(893) Wilkes's application for the embassy to Constantinople was
an unsuccessful one. It will be seen in the Chatham
Correspondence, that in February 1761, he had solicited of Mr.
Pitt a seat at the board of trade. "I wish," he says, "the board
of trade might be thought a place in which I could be of any
service: whatever the scene is, I shall endeavour to have the
reputation of acting in a manner worthy of the connexion I have
the honour to be in; and, among all the chances and changes of a
political world, I will never have an obligation in a
parliamentary way but to Mr. Pitt and his friends." Vol. ii. p.
(894) After his outlawry.
Letter 274 To The Right Hon. Lady Hervey.
Paris, Oct. 13, 1765. (page 434)
How are the mighty fallen! Yes, yes, Madam, I am as like the Duc
de Richelieu as two peas; but then they are two old withered gray
peas. Do you remember the fable of Cupid and Death, and what a
piece of work they made with hustling their arrows together?
This is just my case: Love might shoot at me, but it was with a
gouty arrow. I have had a relapse in both feet, and kept my bed
six days but the fit seems to be going off; my heart can already
go alone, and my feet promise themselves the mighty luxury of a
cloth shoe in two or three days. Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay,(895) who
are here, and are, alas! to carry this, have been of great
comfort to me, and have brought their delightful little daughter,
who is as quick as Ariel. Mr. Ramsay could want no assistance
from me: what do we both exist upon here, Madam, but your bounty
and charity? When did you ever leave one of your friends in want
of another? Madame Geotrrin came and sat two hours last night by
my bedside: I could have sworn it had been my Lady Hervey,(896)
she was so good to me. It was with so much sense, information,
instruction, and correction! The manner of the latter charms me.
I never saw any body in my days that catches one's faults and
vanities and impositions so quick, that explains them to one so
clearly, and convinces one so easily. I never liked to be set
right before! You cannot imagine how I taste it! I make her both
my confessor and director, and beam to think I shall be a
reasonable creature at last, which I had never intended to be.
The next time I see her, I believe I shall say, "Oh! Common
Sense, sit down: I have been thinking so and so; is not it
absurd?" for t'other sense and wisdom, I never liked them; I
shall now hate them for her sake. If it was worth her while, I
assure your ladyship she might govern me like a child.(897)
The Duc de Nivernois too is astonishingly good to me. In short,
Madam, I am going down hill, but the sun sets pleasingly. Your
two other friends have been in Paris; but I was confined, and
could not wait on them. I passed a whole evening with Lady Mary
Chabot most agreeably: she charged me over and over with a
thousand compliments to your ladyship. For sights, alas! and
pilgrimages, they have been cut short! I had destined the fine
days of October to excursions; but you know, Madam, what it is to
reckon without one's host, the gout. It makes such a coward of
me, that I shall be afraid almost of entering a church. I have
lost, too, the Dumenil in Ph`edre and Merope, two of her
principal parts, but I hope not irrecoverably.
Thank you, Madam, for the Taliacotian extract: it diverted me
much. It is true, in general I neither see nor desire to see our
wretched political trash: I am sick of it up to the
fountain-head. It was my principal motive for coming hither; and
had long been my determination, the first moment I should be at
liberty, to abandon it all. I have acted from no views of
interest; I have shown I did not; I have not disgraced myself-
-and I must be free. My comfort is, that, if I am blamed, it
will be by all parties. A little peace of mind for the rest of
my days is all I ask, to balance the gout.
I have writ to Madame de Guerchy about Your orange-flower water;
and I sent your ladyship two little French pieces that I hope you
received. The uncomfortable posture in which I write will excuse
my saying any more; but it is no excuse against my trying to do
any thing to please one, who always forgets pain when her friends
are in question.
(895) Allan Ramsay, the painter.
(896) Baron de Grimm, in speaking of Madame Geoffrin, says:--
"This lady's religion seems to have always proceeded on two
principles: the one, to do the greatest quantity of good in her
power; the other, to respect scrupulously all established forms,
and even to lend herself, with great complaisance, to all the
different movements of public opinion."-E.
(897) Gibbon, in a letter to his father, of the 24th of February
1763, says:--"Lady Hervey's recommendation to Madame Geoffrin was
a most excellent one: her house is a very good one; regular
dinners there every Wednesday, and the best company in Paris, in
men of letters and people of fashion. It was at her house I
connected myself with M. Helvetius, who, from his heart, his
head, and his fortune, is a most valuable man."-E.
Letter 275 To George Montagu, Esq.
Paris, Oct. 16, 1765. (page 436)
I am here, in this supposed metropolis of pleasure, triste
enough; hearing from nobody in England, and again confined with
the gout in both feet: yes, I caught cold, and it has returned;
but as I begin to be a little acquainted with the nature of its
caresses, I think the violence of its passion this time will be
wasted within the fortnight. Indeed, a stick and a great shoe do
not commonly compose the dress which the English come hither to
learn; but I shall content myself if I can limp about enough to
amuse my eyes; my ears have already had their fill, and are not
at all edified. My confinement preserves me from the journey to
Fontainbleau, to which I had no great appetite; but then I lose
the opportunity of seeing Versailles and St. Cloud at my leisure.
I wrote to you soon after my arrival; did you receive it? All the
English books you named to me are to be had here at the following
prices. Shakspeare in eight volumes unbound for twenty-one
livres; in larger paper for twenty-seven. Congreve, in three
volumes for nine livres. Swift, in twelve volumes for twenty-four
livres, another edition for twenty-seven. So you see I do not
forget your commissions: if you have farther orders, let me know.
Wilkes is here, and has been twice to see me in my illness. He
was very civil, but I cannot say entertained me much. I saw no
wit; his conversation shows how little he has lived in good
company, and the chief turn of it is the grossest bawdy.(898) He
has certainly one merit, notwithstanding the bitterness of his
pen, that is, he has no rancour; not even against Sandwich, of
whom he talked with the utmost temper. He showed me some of his
notes on Churchill's works, but they contain little more than one
note on each poem to explain the subject of it.
The Dumenil is still the Dumenil, and nothing but curiosity could
make me want the Clairon. Grandval is grown so fat and old, that
I saw him through a whole play and did not guess him. Not one
other, that you remember on the stage, remains there.
It is not a season for novelty in any way, as both the court and
the world are out of town. The few that I know are almost all
dispersed. The old president Henault made me a visit yesterday:
he is extremely amiable, but has the appearance of a
superannuated bacchanal; superannuated, poor soul! indeed he is!
The Duc de Richelieu is a lean old resemblance of old General
Churchill, and like him affects still to have his Boothbies.
Alas! poor Boothbies!
I hope, by the time I am convalescent, to have the Richmonds
here. One of the miseries of chronical illnesses is, that you
are a prey to every fool, who, not knowing what to do with
himself, brings his ennui to you, and calls it charity. Tell me
a little the intended dates of your motions, that I may know
where to write at you. Commend me kindly to Mr. John, and wish
me a good night, of which I have had but one these ten days.
(898) "I scarcely ever," says Gibbon, who happened to dine in the
company of Wilkes in September 1762, "met with a better
companion; he has inexhaustible spirits, infinite wit and humour,
and a great deal of knowledge; but a thorough profligate in
principle as in practice; his life stained with every vice, and
his conversation full of blasphemy and indecency."-E.
Letter 276 To The Countess Of Suffolk.(899)
Paris, Oct. 16, 1765. (page 437)
Though I begin my letter to-day, Madam, it may not be finished
and set out these four days; but serving a tyrant who does not
allow me many holiday-minutes, I am forced to seize the first
that offer. Even now when I am writing upon the table, he is
giving me malicious pinches under it. I was exceedingly obliged
to Miss Hotham for her letter, though it did not give me so good
an account of your ladyship as I wished. I will not advise you
to come to Paris, where, I assure you, one has not a nip less of
the gout than at London, and where it is rather more difficult to
keep one's chamber pure; water not being reckoned here one of the
elements of cleanliness. If ever my Lady Blandford and I make a
match, I shall insist on her coming hither for a month first, to
learn patience. I need have a great stock, who have only
travelled from one sick bed to another; who have seen nothing;
and who hear of nothing but the braveries of Fontainbleau, where
the Duc de Richelieu, whose year it is, has ordered seven new
operas besides other shows. However, if I cannot be diverted, my
ruin at least is protracted, as I cannot go to a single shop.
Lady Mary Chabot has been so good as to make me a visit. She is
again gone into the country till November, but charged me over
and over to say a great deal for her to your ladyship, for whom
she expresses the highest regard. Lady Brown is still in the
country too; but as she loves laughing more than is fashionable
here, I expect her return with great impatience. As I neither
desire to change their religion or government, I am tired of
their perpetual dissertations on those subjects. As when I was
here last, which, alas! is four-and-twenty ears ago, I was much
at Mrs. Hayes's, I thought it but civil to wait on her now that
her situation is a little less brilliant. She was not at home,
but invited me to supper next night. The moment she saw me I
thought I had done very right not to neglect her; for she
overwhelmed me with professions of her fondness for me and all my
family. When the first torrent was over, she asked me if I was
son of the Horace Walpole who had been ambassador here. I said
no, he was my uncle. Oh! then you are he I used to call my
Neddy! No, Madam, I believe that is my brother. Your brother!
What is my Lord Walpole? My cousin, Madam. Your cousin! why,
then, who are you? I found that if I had omitted my visit, her
memory of me would not have reproached me much.
Lord and Lady Fife are expected here every day from Spa; but we
hear nothing certain yet of their graces of Richmond, for whom I
am a little impatient; and for pam too, who I hope comes with
them. In French houses it is impossible to meet with any thing
but whist, which I am determined never to learn again. I sit by
and yawn; which, however, is better than sitting at it to yawn.
I hope to be able to take the air in a few days; for though I
have had sharp pain and terrible nights, this codicil to my gout
promises to be of much shorter duration than what I had in
England, and has kept entirely to my feet. My diet sounds like
an English farmer's, being nothing but beef and pudding; in truth
the beef' is bouilli, and the pudding bread. This last night has
been the first in which I have got a wink of sleep before six in
the morning: but skeletons can live very well without eating or
sleeping; nay, they can laugh too, when they meet with a jolly
mortal of this world.
Mr. Chetwynd, I conclude, is dancing at country balls and
horseraces. It is charming to be so young;(900) but I do not
envy one whose youth is so good-humoured and good-natured. When
he gallops post to town, or swims his horse through a MillpODd In
November, pray make my compliments to him, and to Lady Blandford
and Lady Denbigh. The joys of the gout do not put one's old
friends out of one's head, even at this distance. I am, etc.
(899) Now first collected.
(900) See ant`e, p. 412, letter 259.-E.
Letter 277 To Thomas Brand, Esq.(901)
Paris, Oct. 19, 1765. (page 438)
Don't think I have forgot your commissions: I mentioned them to
old Mariette this evening, who says he has got one of them, but
never could meet with the other, and that it will be impossible
for me to find either at Paris. You know, I suppose, that he
would as soon part with an eye as with any thing in his own
You may, if you please, suppose me extremely diverted here, Oh!
exceedingly. In the first place, I have seen nothing; in the
second, I have been confined this fortnight with a return of the
gout in both feet; and in the third, I have not laughed since my
Lady Hertford went away. I assure you, you may come hither very
safely, and be in no danger from mirth. Laughing is as much out
of fashion as pantins or bilboquets. Good folks, they have no
time to laugh. There is God and the King to be pulled down
first; and men and women, one and all, are devoutly employed in
the demolition. They think me quite profane, for having any
belief left. But this is not my only crime - I have told them,
and am undone by it, that they have taken from us to admire the
two dullest things we had, whisk and Richardson. It is very
true, and they -want nothing but George Grenville to make their
conversations, or rather dissertations, the most tiresome upon
earth. For Lord Lyttelton, if he would come hither, and turn
freethinker once more, he would be reckoned the most -,agreeable
man in France--next to Mr. Hume, who is the only thing in the
world that they believe implicitly; which they must do, for I
defy them to understand any language that he speaks.
If I could divest myself of my wicked--and unphilosophic bent to
laughing, I should do very well. They are very civil and
obliging to me, and several of the women are very agreeable, and
some of the men. The Duc de Nivernois has been beyond measure
kind to me, and scarce missed a day without coming to see me
during my confinement. The Guerchys are. as usual, all
friendship. I had given entirely into supping, as I do not love
rising early, and still less meat breakfasts. The misfortune is,
that in several houses they dine, and at others sup.
You will think it odd that I should want to laugh, when Wilkes,
Sterne, and Foote are here; but the first does not make me laugh,
the second never could, and for the third, I choose to pay five
shillings when I have a mind he should divert me. Besides, I
certainly did not come in search of English: and yet the man I
have liked the best in Paris is an Englishman, Lord Ossory, who
is one of the most sensible young men I ever saw, with a great
deal of Lord Tavistock in his manner.
The joys of Fontainbleau I miss by my illness--Patienza! If the
gout deprived me of nothing better than a court.
The papers say the Duke of Dorset(902) is dead; what has he done
for Lord George? You cannot be so unconscionable as not to
answer me. I don't ask who is to have his riband; nor how many
bushels of fruit the Duke of Newcastle's dessert for the
Hereditary Prince contained, nor how often he kissed him for the
sake of "the dear house of Brunswick"--No, keep your politics to
yourselves; I want to know none of them:-when I do, and
authentically, I will write to my Lady * * * * or Charles
Mrs. Pit's friend, Madame de Rochefort, is one of my principal
attachments, and very agreeable indeed. Madame de Mirepoix
another. For my admiration, Madame de Monaco--but I believe you
don't doubt my Lord Hertford's taste in sensualities. March's
passion, Marechalle d'Estr`ees, is affected, cross, and not all
handsome. The Princes of the blood are pretty much retired, do
not go to Portsmouth and Salisbury once a week, nor furnish every
other paragraph to the newspapers. Their campaigns are confined
to killing boars and stags, two or three hundred in a year.
Adieu! Mr. Foley is my banker; or it is still more sure if you
send your letter to Mr. Conway's office.
(901) Of the Hoo, in Hertfordshire. See vol. ii. p. 211, letter
(902) Lionel Cranfield Sackville, seventh Earl and first Duke of
Dorset: he died on the 10th of October. Lord George Sackville
was his third son.-E.
Letter 278 To The Hon. H. S. Conway.
Paris, Oct. 28, 1765. (page 440)
Mr. Hume sends me word from Fontainbleau, that your brother, some
time in the spring of 1764, transmitted to the English ministry a
pretty exact and very authentic account of the French finances;"
these are his words: and "that it will be easily found among his
lordship's despatches of that period." To the other question I
have received no answer: I suppose he has not yet been able to
This goes by an English coachman of Count Lauragais, sent over to
buy more horses; therefore I shall write a little ministerially,
and, perhaps, surprise you, if you are not already apprised of
things in the light I see them.
The Dauphin will probably hold out very few days. His death,
that is, the near prospect of it, fills the philosophers with the
greatest joy, as it was feared he would endeavour the restoration
of the Jesuits. You will think the sentiments of the
philosophers very odd stale news --but do you know who the
philosophers are, or what the term means here? In the first
place, it comprehends almost every body; and in the next, means
men, who, avowing war against popery, aim, many of them, at a
subversion of all religion, and still many more, at the
destruction of regal power. How do you know this? you will say;
you, who have been but six weeks in France, three of which you
have been confined to your chamber? True: but in the first period
I went every where, and heard nothing else: in the latter, I have
been extremely visited, and have had long and explicit
conversations with many, who think as I tell you, and with a few
of the other side, who are no less persuaded that there are such
intentions. In particular. I had two officers here t'other
night, neither of them young, whom I had difficulty to keep from
a serious quarrel, and who, in the heat of the dispute, informed
me of much more than I could have learnt with great pains.
As a proof that my ideas are not quite visions, I send you a most
curious paper;(903) such as I believe no magistrate would have
pronounced in the time of Charles 1. I should not like to have it
known to come from me, nor any part of the intelligence I send
you; with regard to which, if you think it necessary to
communicate it to particular persons, I desire my name may be
suppressed. I tell it for your satisfaction and information, but
would not have any body else think that I do any thing here but
amuse myself; my amusements indeed are triste enough, and consist
wholly in trying to get well; but my recovery moves very slowly.
I have not yet had any thing but cloth shoes on, live sometimes a
whole day on warm water, and am never tolerably well till twelve
or one o'clock.
I have had another letter from Sir Horace Mann, who has much at
heart his riband and increase of character. Consequently you
know, as I love him so much, I must have them at heart too.
Count Lorenzi is recalled, because here they think it necessary
to send a Frenchman of higher rank to the new grand ducal court.
I wish Sir Horace could be raised on this occasion. For his
riband, his promise is so old and so positive, that it is quite a
Pray put the colonies in good-humour: I see they are violently
Disposed to the new administration. I have not time to say more,
nor more to say if I had time; so good night! Let me know if you
receive this, and how soon: it goes the day after to-morrow.
Various reports say the Duke of Richmond comes this week. I sent
you a letter by Monsieur de Guerchy. Dusson, I hear, goes
ambassador to Poland. Tell Lady Ailesbury that I have five or
six little parcels, though not above one for her, of laces and
ribands, which Lady Cecilic left Wit me: but how to convey them
the Lord knows. Yours ever.