Part 14 out of 17
(903) This paper does not appear.
Letter 279 To Mr. Gray.
Paris, Nov. 19, 1765. (page 441)
You are very kind to inquire so particularly after my gout. I
wish I may not be so circumstantial in my answer: but you have
tapped a dangerous topic; I can talk gout by the hour. It is my
great mortification, and has disappointed all the hopes that I
had built on temperance and hardiness. I have resisted like a
hermit, and exposed myself to all weathers and seasons like a
smuggler; and in vain. I have, however, still so much of the
obstinacy of both professions left, that I think I shall
continue, and cannot obey you in keeping myself warm. I have
gone through my second fit under one blanket, and already go
about in a silk waistcoat with my bosom unbuttoned. In short, I
am as prejudiced to try regimen, though so ineffectual, as I
could have been to all I expected from it. The truth is, I am
almost as willing to have the gout as to be liable to catch cold;
and must run up stairs and down, in and out of doors, when I
will, or I cannot have the least satisfaction. This will
convince you how readily I comply with another of your precepts,
walking as soon as am able.--For receipts, you may trust me for
making use of none; I would not see a physician at the worst, but
have quacked as boldly as quacks treat others. I laughed at your
idea of quality receipts, it came so apropos. There is not a man
or woman here that is not a perfect old nurse, and who does not
talk gruel and anatomy with equal fluency and ignorance. One
instance shall serve: Madame de Bouzols, Marshal Berwick's
daughter, assured me there was nothing so good for the gout, as
to preserve the parings of my nails in a bottle close stopped.
When I try any illustrious nostrum, I shall give the preference
So much for the gout!(904) I told you what was coming. As to
the ministry, I know and care very little about them. I told you
and told them long ago, that if ever a change happened I would
bid adieu to politics for ever. Do me the Justice to allow that
I have not altered with the time. I was so impatient to put this
resolution in execution that I hurried out of England before I
was sufficiently recovered. I shall not run the same hazard again
in haste; but will stay here till I am perfectly well, and the
season of warm weather coming on or arrived; though the charms of
Paris have not the least attraction for me, nor would keep me an
hour on their own account. For the city itself, I cannot
conceive where my eyes were: it Is the ugliest beastliest town in
the universe. I have not seen a mouthful of verdure out of it,
nor have they any thing green but their treillage and
window-shutters. Trees cut into fire-shovels, and stuck into
pedestals of chalk, Compose their country. Their boasted
knowledge of society is reduced to talking of their suppers, and
every malady they have about them, or know of. The Dauphin is at
the point of death; every morning the physicians frame in account
of him; and happy is he or she who can produce a copy of this
lie, called a bulletin. The night before last, one of these was
produced at supper where I was; it was read, and said he had une
evacuation foetide. I beg your pardon, though you are not at
supper. The old lady of the house(905) (who by the way is quite
blind, was the Regent's mistress for a fortnight, and is very
agreeable) called out, "Oh! they have forgot to mention that he
threw down his chamber-pot, and was forced to change his bed."
There were present several women of the first rank; as Madame de
la Vali`ere, whom you remember Duchesse de Vaujour, and who is
still miraculously pretty, though fifty-three; a very handsome
Madame de Forcalquier, and others--nor was this conversation at
all particular to that evening.
Their gaiety is not greater than their delicacy--but I will not
expatiate. In short, they are another people from what they
were. They may be growing wise, but the intermediate passage is
dulness. Several of the women are agreeable, and some of the
men; but the latter are in general vain and ignorant. The
savans--I beg their pardons, the philosophes--are insupportable,
superficial, overbearing, and fanatic: they preach incessantly,
and their avowed doctrine is atheism; you would not believe how
openly--Don't wonder, therefore, if I should return a Jesuit.
Voltaire himself does not satisfy them. One of their lady
devotees said of him, "Il est bigot, c'est un d`eiste."
I am as little pleased with their taste in trifles. Cr`ebillon
is entirely out of fashion, and Marivaux a proverb: marivauder
and marivaudage are established terms for being prolix and
tiresome. I thought that we were fallen, but they are ten times
Notwithstanding all I have said, I have found two or three
societies that please me; am amused with the novelty of the
whole, and should be sorry not to have come. The Dumenil is, if
possible, superior to what you remember. I am sorry not to see
the Clairon; but several persons whose judgments seem the
soundest prefer the former. Preville is admirable in low comedy.
The mixture of Italian comedy and comic operas, prettily written,
and set to Italian music, at the same theatre, is charming, and
gets the better both of their operas and French comedy; the
latter of which is seldom full, with all its merit.
Petit-maitres are obsolete, like our Lords Foppington--but le
monde est philosophe--When I grow very sick of this last
nonsense, I go and compose myself at the Chartreuse, where I am
almost tempted to prefer Le Soeur to every painter I know. Yet
what new old treasures are come to light, routed out of the
Louvre, and thrown into new lumber-rooms at Versailles!--But I
have not room to tell you what I have seen! I will keep this and
other chapters for Strawberry. Adieu! and thank you.
Old Mariette has shown me a print by Diepenbecke of the Duke and
Duchess of Newcastle(906) at dinner with their family. You would
oblige me, if you would look into all their graces' folios, and
see if it is not a frontispiece to some one of them. Then he has
such a Petitot of Madame d'Olonne! The Pompadour offered him
fifty louis for it(907)--Alack, so would I!
(904) The following is Gray's reply, of the 13th of December:-
-"You have long built your hopes on temperance, you say, and
hardiness. On the first point we are agreed; the second has
totally disappointed you, and therefore you will persist in it by
all means. But then, be sure to persist too in being young, in
stopping the course of time, and making the shadow return back
upon your sun-dial. If you find this not so easy, acquiesce with
a good grace in my anilities; put on your understockings of yarn,
or woollen, even in the night-time. Don't provoke me, or I shall
order you two nightcaps, (which, by the way, would do your eyes
good,) and put a little of any French liqueur into your water;
they are nothing but brandy and sugar; and among their various
flavours, some of them may surely be palatable enough, The pain
in your feet I can bear; but shudder at the sickness of your
stomach and the weakness that still continues. I conjure you, as
you love yourself--I conjure you by Strawberry, not to trifle
with these edge-tools. There is no cure for the gout, when in
the stomach, but to throw it into the limbs; There is no relief
for gout in the limbs, but in gentle warmth and gradual
perspiration." Works, vol. iv. p. 68.-E.
(905) Madame du Deffand.-E.
(906) Prefixed to some copies of the Duchess's work, entitled
"The World's Olio,--Nature's Pictures drawn by Fancy's Pencil to
the life," (folio, London, 1653,) is a print, Diepenbeck, del.,
P. Clouvet sc., half sheet, containing portraits of William
Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle, (celebrated as a Cavalier general
during the civil wars, and commonly styled the loyal Duke of
Newcastle,) his Duchess, and their family.-E.
(907) This miniature eventually became his property. In a letter
from madame du Deffand of the 12th of December 1775, she says:-
-"J'ai Madame d'Olonne entre les mains; vous voil`a au comble de
la joie; mais moderez-en la, en apprenant que ses galans ne la
payaient pas plus cher de son vivant que vous ne la payez apr`es
sa mort; (@lle vous coute trois mille deux cents livres."-E.
Letter 280 To The Right Hon. Lady Hervey.
Paris, Nov. 21, 1765. (page 444)
Madame Geoffrin has given me a parcel for your ladyship with two
knotting-bags, which I will send by the first opportunity that
seems safe:'--but I hear of nothing but difficulties; and shall,
I believe, be saved from ruin myself, from not being able to
convey any purchases into England. Thus I shall have made an
almost fruitless journey to France, if I can neither fling away
my money, nor preserve my health. At present, indeed, the gout
is gone. I have had my house swept, and made as clean as I
could-no very easy matter in this country; but I live in dread of
seven worse spirits entering in. The terror I am under of a new
fit has kept me from almost seeing any thing. The damps and fogs
are full as great and frequent here as in London; but there is a
little frost to-day, and I shall begin my devotions tomorrow. It
is not being fashionable to visit churches: but I am de la
vieille cour; and I beg your ladyship to believe that I have no
youthful pretensions. The Duchess of Richmond tells me that they
have made twenty foolish stories about me in England; and say
that my person is admired here. I cannot help what is said
without foundation; but the French have neither lost their eyes,
nor I my senses. A skeleton I was born--skeleton I am--and death
will have no trouble in making me one. I have not made any
alteration in my dress, and certainly did not study it In
England. Had I had any such ridiculous thoughts, the gout is too
sincere a monitor to leave one under any such error. Pray,
Madam, tell Lord and Lady Holland what I say: they have heard
these idle tales; and they know so many of my follies, that I
should be sorry they believed more of me than are true. If all
arose from madame Geoffrin calling me in Joke le nouveau
Richelieu, I give it under my hand that I resemble him in nothing
Your ladyship is much in the right to forbear reading politics.
I never look at the political letters that come hither in the
Chronicles. I was sick to death of them before I set out; and
perhaps should not have stirred from home, if I had not been sick
of them and all they relate to. If any body could write ballads
and epigrams, `a la bonne heure! But dull personal abuse in prose
is tiresome indeed. A serious invective against a pickpocket, or
written by a pickpocket, who has so little to do as to read?
The Dauphin continues languishing to his exit, and keeps every
body at Fontainbleau. There is a little bustle now about the
parliament of Bretagne; but you may believe, Madam, that when I
was tired of the squabbles at London, I did not propose to
interest myself in quarrels at Hull or Liverpool. Indeed, if the
Duc de Chaulnes(908) commanded at Rennes, or Pomenars(909) was
sent to prison, I might have a little curiosity. You wrong me in
thinking I quoted a text from my Saint(910) ludicrously. On the
contrary I am so true a bigot, that if she could have talked
nonsense, I should, like any other bigot, believe she was
The season and the emptiness of Paris, prevent any thing new from
appearing. All I can send your ladyship is a very pretty
logogriphe, made by the old blind Madame du Deffand, whom perhaps
you know--certainly must have heard of. I sup there very
often;(911) and she gave me this last night-you must guess it.
Quoique je forme un corps, je ne suis qu'une id`ee;
Plus ma beaut`e vieillit, plus elle est decid`ee:
Il faut, pour me trouver, ignorer d'o`u je viens;
Je tiens tout de lui, qui reduit tout `a rien.(912)
Lady Mary Chabot inquires often after your ladyship. Your other
two friends are not yet returned to Paris; but I have had several
obliging messages from the Duchess d'Aiguillon.
It pleased me extremely, Madam, to find no mention of your own
gout in your letter. I always apprehend it for you, as you try
its temper to the utmost, especially by staying late in the
country, which you know it hates. Lord! it has broken my spirit
so, that I believe it might make me leave Strawberry at a
minute's warning. It has forbidden me tea, and been obeyed; and
I thought that one of the most difficult points to carry with me.
Do let us be well, Madam, and have no gouty notes to compare! I
am your ladyship's most faithful, humble servant.
(908) Governor of Britany in the time of Madame de S`evign`e.
(909) See Madame de S`evign`e's Letters.
(910) Madame de S`evign`e.
(911) Madame du Deffand had, at this time, a supper at her house
every Sunday evening, at which Walpole, during his stay at Paris,
constantly made one of the company.-E.
(912) The word is noblesse.
Letter 281 To George Montagu, Esq.
Paris, Nov. 21, 1765. (page 445)
You must not be surprised when my letters arrive long after their
date. I write them at my leisure, and send them when I find any
Englishman going to London, that I may not be kept in check, if
they were to pass through both French and English posts. Your
letter to Madame Roland, and the books for her, will Set Out very
securely in a day or two. My bookseller here happens to be of
Rheims, and knows Madame Roland, comme deux gouttes d'eau. This
perhaps is not a well-placed simile, but the French always use
one, and when they are once established, and one knows the tune,
it does not signify sixpence for the sense.
My gout and my stick have entirely left me. I totter still, it
is true, but I trust shall be able to whisk about at Strawberry
as well almost as ever. When that hour strikes, to be sure I
shall not be very sorry. The sameness of the life here is worse
than any thing but English politics and the House of Commons.
Indeed, I have a mind still to see more people here, more sights,
and more of the Dumenil. The Dauphin, who is not dead yet,
detains the whole court at Fontainbleau, whither I dare not
venture, as the situation is very damp, and the lodgings
abominable. Sights, too, I have scarce seen any yet; and I must
satisfy my curiosity; for hither, I think, I shall never come
again. No, let us sit down quietly and comfortably, and enjoy
our coming old age. Oh! if you are in earnest, and will
transplant yourself to Roehampton, how happy I shall be! You
know, if you believe an experience of above thirty years, that
you are one of the very, very few, for whom I really care a
straw. You know how long I have been vexed at seeing so little
of you. What has one to do, when one grows tired of the world,
as we both do, but to draw nearer and nearer, and gently waste
the remains of life with the friends with whom one began it!
Young and happy people will have no regard for us and our old
stories, and they are in the right: but we shall not tire one
another; we shall laugh together when nobody is by to laugh at
us, and we may think ourselves young enough when we see nobody
younger. Roehampton is a delightful spot, at once cheerful and
retired. You will amble in your chaise about Richmond-park: we
shall see one another as often as we like; I shall frequently
peep at London, and bring you tales of it, and we shall sometimes
touch a card with the Clive, and laugh our fill; for I must tell
you, I desire to die when I have nobody left to laugh with me. I
have never yet seen or heard any thing serious, that was not
ridiculous. Jesuits, Methodists, philosophers, politicians, the
hypocrite Rousseau, the scoffer Voltaire, the encyclopedists, the
Humes, the Lytteltons, the Grenvilles, the atheist tyrant of
Prussia, and the mountebank of history, Mr. Pitt, all are to me
but impostors in their various ways. Fame or interest is their
object; and after all their parade, I think a ploughman who sows,
reads his almanack, and believes the stars but so many farthing
candles, created to prevent his falling into a ditch as he goes
home at night, a wiser and more rational being, and I am sure an
honester than any of them. Oh! I am sick of visions and systems,
that shove one another aside, and come over again, like the
figures in a moving picture. Rabelais brightens up to me as I
see more of the world; he treated it as it deserved, laughed at
it all, and, as I judge from myself, ceased to hate it; for I
find hatred an unjust preference. Adieu!
Letter 282 To The Right Hon. Lady Hervey.
Paris, Nov. 28, 1765. (page 447)
What, another letter! Yes, Madam; though I must whip and spur, I
must try to make my thanks keep up with your favours: for any
other return, you have quite distanced me. This is to
acknowledge the receipt of the Duchess d'Aiguillon--you may set
what sum you please against the debt. She is delightful, and has
much the most of a woman of quality of any I have seen, and more
cheerfulness too: for, to show your ladyship that I am sincere,
that my head is not turned, and that I retain some of my
prejudices still, I avow that gaiety, whatever it was formerly,
is no longer the growth of this country, and I will own too that
Paris can produce women of quality that I should not call women
of fashion; I will not use so ungentle a term as vulgar; but from
their indelicacy, I could call it still worse. Yet with these
faults, and the latter is an enormous one in my English eyes,
many of the women are exceedingly agreeable. I cannot say so
much for the men--always excepting the Duc de Nivernois. You
would be entertained, for a quarter of an hour, with his
Duchess--she is the Duke of Newcastle properly placed, that is,
chattering incessantly out of devotion, and making interest
against the devil, that she may dispose of bishoprics in the next
Madame d'Egmont is expected to-day, which will run me again into
arrears. I don't l(now how it is. Yes, I do: it is natural to
impose on bounty, and I am like the rest of the world; I am going
to abuse your goodness because I know nobody's so great. Besides
being the best friend in the world, you are the best
commissionnaire in the world, Madam - you understand from
friendship to scissors. The enclosed model was trusted to me, to
have two pair made as well as possible--but I really blush at my
impertinence. However, all the trouble I mean to give your
ladyship is, to send your groom of the chambers to bespeak them;
and a pair besides of the common size for a lady, as well made as
possible, for the honour of England's steel.
The two knotting-bags from Madame Geoffrin went away by a
clergyman two days ago; and I concerted all the tricks the doctor
and I could think of, to elude the vigilance of the customhouse
With this, I send your ladyship the Orpheline Legu`ee: its
intended name was the Anglomanie, my only reason for sending it;
for it has little merit, and had as slender success, being acted
but five times. However, there is nothing else new.
The Dauphin continues in the same languishing and hopeless state,
but with great coolness and firmness. Somebody gave him t'other
day "The Preparation for Death:"(913) he said, "C'est la nouvelle
I have nothing more to say, but what I have always to say, Madam,
from the beginning of my letters to the end, that I am your
ladyship's most obliged and most devoted humble servant.
Nov. 28, three o'clock.
Oh, Madam, Madam, Madam, what do you think I have found since I
wrote my letter this morning? I am out of my wits! Never was
any thing like my luck; it never forsakes me! I have found Count
Grammont's picture! I believe I shall see company upon it,
certainly keep the day holy. I went to the Grand Augustins to
see the pictures of the reception of' the knights of the Holy
Ghost: they carried me into a chamber full of their portraits; I
was looking for Bassompierre; my laquais de louage opened a door,
and said, "Here are more." One of the first that struck me was
Philibert Comte de Grammont!(914) It is old, not at all
handsome, but has a great deal of finesse in the countenance. I
shall think of nothing now but having it copied. If I had seen
or done nothing else, I should be content with my journey hither.
(913) The title of a French book of devotion.
(914) The witty Count de Grammont, who married Elizabeth,
daughter of Sir George Hamilton, fourth son of James first Earl
of Abercorn, by Mary, third sister of James first Duke of Ormond.
Tradition reports, that Grammont, who is not recorded to have
been a men of personal courage, having attached, if not engaged
himself to Hamilton, went off abruptly for France: the Count
George Hamilton pursued and overtook him at Dover, when he thus
addressed him: "My dear friend, I believe you have forgot a
circumstance that should take place before you return to France."
To which Grammont answered, "True, my dear friend; what a memory
I have! I quite forgot that I was to marry your sister; but I
will instantly accompany you back to London and rectify that
forgetfulness." His celebrated Memoirs were written by his
brother-in-law, Anthony, generally called Count Hamilton, who
followed the fortunes of James the Second, and afterwards entered
the French service.-E.
Letter 283 To The Hon. H. S. Conway.
Paris, Nov. 29, 1765. (page 448)
As I answered your short letter with a very long one, I shall be
shorter in answer to your long, which I received late last night
from Fontainbleau: it is not very necessary: but as Lord William
Gordon sets out for England on Monday, I take that opportunity.
The Duke of' Richmond tells me that Choiseul has promised every
thing. I wish it may be performed, and speedily, as it will give
you an opportunity of opening the Parliament with great `eclat.
My opinion you know is, that this is the moment for pushing them
Thank you for all you say about my gout. We have had a week of
very hard frost, that has done me great good, and rebraced me.
The swelling of my legs is quite gone. What has done me more
good, is having entirely left off tea, to which I believe the
weakness of my stomach was owing, having had no sickness since.
In short, I think I am cured of every thing but my fears. You
talk coolly of going as far as Naples, and propose my going with
you. I would not go so far, if Naples was the direct road to the
new Jerusalem. I have no thought or wish but to get home, and be
quiet for the rest of my days, which I shall most certainly do
the first moment the season will let me; and if I once get to
London again, shall be scarce tempted ever to lie in an inn more.
I have refused to go to Aubign`e, though I should lie but one
night on the road. You may guess what I have suffered, when I am
grown so timorous about my health, However, I am again reverted
to my system of water, and trying to recover my hardiness--but
nothing has at all softened me towards physicians.
You see I have given you a serious answer, though I am rather
disposed to smile at your proposal. Go to Italy! for what?--Oh!
to quit--do you know, I think that as idle a thought as the
other. Pray stay where you are, and do some good to your
country, or retire when you cannot--but don't put your finger in
your eye and cry after the holidays and sugar-plums of
Park-place. You have engaged and must go through or be hindered.
Could you tell the world the reason? Would not all men say you
had found yourself incapable of what you had undertaken? I have
no patience with your thinking so idly. It would be a reflection
on your understanding and character, and a want of resolution
unworthy of you.
My advice is, to ask for the first great government that falls,
if you will not take your regiment again; to continue acting
vigorously and honestly where you are. Things are never stable
enough in our country to give you a prospect of a long slavery.
Your defect is irresolution. When you have taken your post, act
up to it; and if you are driven from it, your retirement will
then be as Honourable, and more satisfactory than your
administration. I speak frankly, as my friendship for you
directs. My way of acting (though a private instance) is
agreeable to my doctrine. I determined, whenever our opposition
should be over, to have done with politics; and you see I have
adhered to my resolution by coming hither; and therefore you may
be convinced that I speak my thoughts. I don't ask your pardon,
because I should be forced to ask my own, if I did not tell you
what I think the best for you. You have life and Park-place
enough to come, and you have not had five months of gout. Make
yourself independent honourably, which you may do by a
government. but if you will take my advice, don't accept a
ministerial place when you cease to be a minister. The former is
a reward due to your profession and services; the latter is a
degradation. You know the haughtiness of my spirit; I give you
no advice but what I would follow.
I sent Lady Ailesbury the "Orpheline Legu`ee:" a poor
performance; but the subject made me think she would like to see
it. I am over head and ears at Count Caylus's(915) auction, and
have bought half of it for a song--but I am still in greater
felicity and luck, having discovered, by mere accident, a
portrait of Count Grammont, after having been in search of' one
these fifteen years, and assured there was no such thing.
Apropos, I promised you my but besides that there is nobody here
that excels in painting skeletons, seriously, their painters are
bitter bad, and as much inferior to Reynolds and Ramsay, as
Hudson to Vandyck. I had rather stay till my return. Adieu!
(915) The Count de Caylus, member of the Royal Academy of
Inscriptions and Belles-lettre, honorary member of the Royal
Academy of Painting and Sculpture, and author of the "Recueil
d'Antiquit`es Egyptiennes, Etrusques, Grecques, Romaines, et
Gauloises," in seven volumes, 4to., died at Paris in September
1765, in the sixty-third year of his age. He was said to be the
protector of the arts and the torment of the artists; for though
he assisted them with his advice, and, better still, with his
purse, he exacted from them, in return, the greatest deference to
his opinion. Gibbon, in his Journal for May, 1763, thus speaks
of the Count:--"Je le vis trois ou quatre fois, et je vis un
homme simple, uni, bon, et qui me temoignoit une bont`e Extreme.
Si je n'en ai point profits, je l'attribue moins `a son
charact`ere qu'`a son genre de vie. Il se l`eve de grand matin,
court les atteliers des artistes pendant tout le jour, et rentre
chez lui `a six heures du soir pour se mettre en robe de chambre,
et s'enfermer dans son cabinet. Le moyen de voir ses amis?"-E.
Letter 284 To The Hon. H. S. Conway.
Paris, Dec. 5, 1765. (page 450)
I have not above a note's worth to say; but as Lord Ossory sets
out to-morrow, I just send you a line. The Dauphin, if he is
still alive, which some folks doubt, is kept so only by cordials;
though the Bishop of Glandeve has assured the Queen that he had
God's own word for his recovery, which she still believes,
whether her son is dead or not.
The remonstrance of the Parliament of Paris, on the dissolution
of that of Bretagne, is very decent; they are to have an audience
next week. They do not touch on Chalotais, because the
accusation against him is for treason. What do you think that
treason Is? A correspondence with Mr. Pitt, to whom he is made
to say, that "Rennes is nearer to London than Paris." It is now
believed that the anonymous letters, supposed to be written by
Chalotais, were forged by a Jesuit--those to Mr. Pitt could not
have even so good an author.
The Duke of Richmond is still at Aubign`e: I wonder he stays, for
it is the hardest frost alive. Mr. Hume does not go to Ireland;
where your brother finds he would by no means be welcome. I have
a notion he will stay here till Your brother's return.
The Duc de Praslin, it is said, will retire at Christmas. As La
Borde, the great banker of the court, is trying to retire too, my
consul, who is much connected with La Borde, suspects that
Choiseul is not very firm himself. I have supped with Monsieur
de Maurepas, and another night, with Marshal Richelieu: the first
is extremely agreeable and sensible; and, I am glad, not
minister. The other is an old piece of tawdry, worn out, but
endeavouring to brush itself up; and put me in mind of Lord
Chesterfield, for they laugh before they know what he has said--
and are in the right, for I think they would not laugh
I send Lady Ailesbury the words and music of the prettiest opera
comique in the world. I wish I could send her the actors too.
Lord Ossory put off his journey; which stopped this letter, and
it will now go by Mr. Andrew Stuart.
The face of things is changed here; which I am impatient to tell
you, that you may see it is truth, not system, which I pique
myself on sending you. The vigour of the court has frightened
the Parliaments. That of Pau has submitted. The procureurs, etc
of Rennes, who, it was said, would not plead before the new
commission, were told, that if they did not plead the next day
they should be hanged without a trial. No bribe ever operated
faster! I heard t'other day, that some Spanish minister, I
forget his name, being dead, Squillace would take his department,
and Grimaldi have that of the West Indies. He is the worst that
could have it, as we have no greater enemy.
The Dauphin is certainly alive, but in the most shocking way
possible; his bones worn through his skin, a great swelling
behind, and so relaxed, that his intestines appear from that
part; and yesterday the mortification was suspected.
I have received a long letter from Lady Ailesbury, for which I
give her a thousand thanks; and would answer it directly, if I
had not told you every thing I know. The Duke and Duchess of
Richmond are, I hear, at Fontainbleau: the moment they return, I
will give the Duchess Lady Ailesbury's commission.
Letter 285 To The Countess Of Suffolk.(916)
Paris, Dec. 5, 1765; but does not set out till the 11th.
Miss Hotham need not be in pain for what to say when she gives me
an account of your ladyship; which is all the trouble I thought
of giving her. If she could make those accounts more favourable,
I should be better pleased; but I know what an untractable brute
the gout is, and the joy it takes in plaguing every body that is
connected with it. We have the sharpest frost here that ever
lived; it has done me great good; and, if it has the same effect
on your ladyship, I hope you are starved to death. Since Paris
has begun to fill in spite of Fontainbleau, I am much reconciled
to it, and, have seen several people I like. I am established in
two or three societies, where I sup every night; though I have
still resisted whist, and am more constant to my old flame loo
during its absence than I doubt I have been to my other passion.
There is a young Comtesse d'Egmont, daughter of Marshal
Richelieu, so pretty and pleasing, that, if I thought it would
break any body's heart in England, I would be in love with her.
Nay, Madam, I might be so within all rules here. I am twenty
years the right side of red-heels, which her father wears still,
and he has still a wrinkle to come before he leaves them off.
The Dauphin is still alive, but kept so only by cordials. The
Queen and Dauphiness have no doubt of his recovery, having the
Bishop of Glandeve's word for it, who got a promise from a vision
under its own hand and seal. The Dauphin has certainly behaved
with great courage and tranquillity, but is so touched with the
tenderness and attention of his family, that he now expresses a
wish to live.
If there is no talk in England of politics and parliaments, I can
send your ladyship as much as you please from hence; or If you
want English themselves, I can send you about fifty head; and I
assure you, we shall still be well stocked. There were three
card-tables at Lady Berkeley's.
(916) Now first collected.
Letter 286 To the Right Hon. Lady Hervey.
Paris, Jan. 2, 1766. (page 452)
When I came to Paris, Madam, I did not know that by New year's--
day I should find myself in Siberia; at least as cold. There
have not been two good days together since the middle of October;
however, I do not complain, as I am both well and pleased, though
I wish for a little of your sultry English weather, all French as
I am. I have entirely left off dinners, and the life I always
liked, of lying late in bed, and sitting up late. I am told of
nothing but how contradictory this is to your ladyship's orders;
but as I shall have dull dinners and triste evenings enough when
I return to England, all your kindness cannot persuade me to
sacrifice my pleasures here, too. Many of my opinions are
fantastic; perhaps this is one, that nothing produces gout like
doing any thing one dislikes. I believe the gouts like a near
relation, always visits one when one has some other plague. Your
ladyship's dependence on the waters of Sunning-hill is, I hope,
better founded; but in the mean time my system is full as
Madame d'Aiguillon's goodness to me does not abate, nor Madame
Geoffrin's. I have seen but little of Madame d'Egmont, who seems
very good, and is universally in esteem. She is now in great
affliction, having lost suddenly Monsieur Pignatelli, the
minister at Parma, whom she bred up, and whom she and her family
had generously destined for her grand-daughter, an immense
heiress. It was very delicate and touching what Madame d'Egmont
said to her daughter-in-law on this occasion:--"Vous voyez, ma
ch`ere, combien j'aime mes enfans d'adoption!" This
daughter-in-law is delightfully pretty, and civil, and gay, and
conversable, though not a regular beauty like Madame de Monaco.
The bitterness of the frost deters me, Madam, from all sights; I
console myself with good company, and still more, with being
absent from bad. Negative as this satisfaction is, it is
incredibly great, to me in a town like this, and to be sure every
day of not meeting one face one hates! I never know a positive
pleasure equal to it.
Your ladyship and Lord Holland shall laugh at me as Much as you
please for by dread of being thought charming; yet I shall not
deny my panic, for surely nothing is so formidable as to have
one's limbs on crutches and one's understanding in
leading-strings. The Prince of Conti laughed at me t'other day
on the same account. I was complaining to the old blind charming
Madame du Deffand, that she preferred Mr. Crawford to me: "What,"
said the Prince, "does not she love you?" "No, Sir," I replied,
"she likes me no better than if she had seen me."
Mr. Hume carries this letter and Rousseau to England.(917) I
wish the former may not repent having engaged with the latter,
who contradicts and quarrels with all mankind, in order to obtain
their admiration. I think both his means and his end below such
a genius. If I had talents like his, I should despise any
suffrage below my own standard, and should blush to owe any part
of my fame to singularities and affectations. But great parts
seem like high towers erected on high mountains, the more
expose(] to every wind, and readier to tumble. Charles Townshend
is blown round the compass; Rousseau insists that the north and
South blow at the same time; and Voltaire demolishes the Bible to
erect fatalism in its stead:--so compatible are the greatest
abilities and greatest absurdities!
Madame d'Aiguillon gave me the enclosed letter for your ladyship.
I wish I had any thing else to send you; but there are no new
books, and the theatres are shut up for the Dauphin's death; who,
I believe, is the greatest loss they have had since Harry 1V.
(917) The Parliament of Paris having issued an arr`et against
Rousseau, on account of his opinions, Mr. Hume was applied to by
a friend in Paris to discover for him a retreat in England,
whither he accompanied him. The plan finally concluded on was,
that he should be comfortably boarded in the mansion of Mr.
Davenport, at Wooton, in the county of Derby; and Mr. Hume, by
his interest with the Government, obtained for him a pension of
one hundred pounds a-year. On his arrival in London, he appeared
in public in his Armenian dress, and excited much general
Letter 287 To John Chute, Esq.
Paris, Jan. 1766. (page 453)
It is in vain, I know, my dear Sir, to scold you, though I have
Such a mind to it--nay, I must. Yes, You that will not lie a
night at Strawberry in autumn for fear of the gout, to stay in
the country till this time, and till you caught it! I know you
will tell me, it did not come till you were two days in town.
Do, and I shall have no more pity for you this if I was your
wife, and had wanted to come to town two months ago.
I am perfectly well, though to be sure Lapland is the torrid zone
in comparison of Paris. We have had such a frost for this
fortnight, that I went nine miles to dine in the country to-day,
in a villa exactly like a green-house, except that there was no
fire but in one room. We were four in a coach, and all our
chinks stopped with furs, and yet all the glasses were frozen.
We dined in a paved hall painted in fresco, with a fountain at
one end; for in this country they live in a perpetual opera, and
persist in being young when they are old, and hot when they are
frozen. At the end of the hall sat shivering three glorious
maccaws, a vast cockatoo, and two poor parroquets, who squalled
like the children in the wood after their nursery-fire! I am
come home, and blowing my billets between every paragraph, but
can scarce move my fingers. However, I must be dressed
presently, and go to the Comtesse de la Marche,(918) who has
appointed nine at night for my audience. It seems a little odd
to us to be presented to a princess of the blood at that hour--
but I told you, there is not a tittle In which our manners
resemble one another; I was presented to her father-in-law the
Prince of Conti last Friday. In the middle of the lev`ee entered
a young woman, too plain I thought to be any thing but his near
relation. I was confirmed in my opinion, by seeing her, after he
had talked to her, go round the circle and do the honours of it.
I asked a gentleman near me if that was the Comtesse de la
Marche? He burst into a violent laughter, and then told me it
was Mademoiselle Auguste, a dancer!--Now, who was in the wrong?
I give you these as samples of many scenes that have amused me,
and which will be charming food at Strawberry. At the same time
that I see all their ridicules, there is a douceur in the society
of the women of fashion that captivates me. I like the way of
life, though not lively; though the men are posts, and apt to be
arrogant, and though there are twenty ingredients wanting to make
the style perfect. I have totally washed my hands of their
savans and Philosophers, and do not even envy you Rousseau, who
has all the charlatanerie of Count St. Germain(919 to make
himself singular and talked of. I suppose Mrs. Montagu, my Lord
Lyttelton, and a certain lady friend of mine, will be in raptures
with him, especially as conducted by Mr. Hume. But, however I
admire his parts, neither he nor any genius I have known has had
common sense enough to balance the impertinence of their
pretensions. They hate priests, but love dearly to have an altar
at their feet; for which reason it is much pleasanter to read
them than to know them. Adieu! my dear Sir!
This has been writ this week, and waiting for a conveyance, and
as yet has got none. Favre tells me you are recovered, but you
don't tell me so yourself. I enclose a trifle that I wrote
lately,(920) which got about and has made enormous noise in a
city where they run and cackle after an event, like a parcel of
hens after an accidental husk of a grape. It has made me the
fashion, and made Madame de Boufflers and the Prince of Conti
very angry with me; the former intending to be rapt to the Temple
of Fame by clinging to Rousseau's Armenian robe. I am peevish
that with his parts he should be such a mountebank: but what made
me more peevish was, that after receiving Wilkes with the
greatest civilities, he paid court to Mr. Hume by complaining of
Wilkes's visit and intrusion.(921) Upon the whole, I would not
but have come hither; for, since I am doomed to live in England,
it is some comfort to have seen that the French are ten times
more contemptible than we are. I am a little ungrateful; but I
cannot help seeing with my eyes, though I find other people make
nothing of seeing without theirs. I have endless histories to
amuse you with when we meet, which shall be at the end of March.
It is much more tiresome to be fashionable than unpopular; I am
used to the latter, and know how to behave under it: but I cannot
stand for member of parliament of Paris. Adieu!
(918) La Comtesse de la Marche, princess of Modena, married to
the only son of the Prince de Conti. Le Comte de la Marche was
the only one of the princes of the blood who uniformly sided with
the court in the disputes with the Parliament of Paris.-E.
(919) The Comte de St. Germain had acquired a considerable
military reputation in France by his conduct at Corbach in 1760;
when he commanded the reserve, and saved the army by supporting
the rear-guard and allowing the whole body to retire upon Cassel.
Considering himself ill-used by the Marshal de Broglio, his
commander-in-chief, he obtained leave to retire from the French
service, and entered that of Denmark, from which he retired into
private life in 1774. From this retirement he was summoned by
Louis XVI. upon the death of the Comte de Muy,
(920) The letter from the King of Prussia to Rousseau.-E.
(921) "One evening, at the Mitre, Johnson said sarcastically to
me, 'It seems, Sir, you have kept very good company abroad--
Rousseau and Wilkes!' I answered with a smile, 'My dear Sir, you
don't call Rousseau bad company: do you r(@ally think him a f bad
man?' Johnson. 'Sir, if you are talking jestingly of this, I
don't talk with you. If you mean to be serious, I think him one
of the worst of men; a rascal, who ought to be hunted out of
society, as he has been. Three or four nations have expelled
him, and it is a shame that he is protected in this country.
Rousseau, Sir, is a very bad man. I would sooner sign a sentence
for his transportation than that of any felon who has gone from
the Old Bailey these many years. Yes, I should like to have him
work in the plantations.' " Boswell, vol. ii. p. 314, ed.
Letter 288 To George Montagu, Esq.
Paris, Jan. 5, 1766. (page 455)
Lady beaulieu acts like herself, and so do you in being persuaded
that nobody will feel any satisfaction that comes to you with
more transport than I do; you deserve her friendship, because you
are more sensible to the grace of the action than to the thing
itself; of which, besides approving the sentiment, I am glad, for
if my Lady Cardigan(922) is as happy in drawing a straw, as in
picking straws, you will certainly miss your green coat. Yet
methinks you would make an excellent Robin Hood reform`e, with
little John your brother. How you would carol Mr. Percy's old
ballads under the greenwood tree! I had rather have you in my
merry Sherwood than at Greatworth, and should delight in your
picture drawn as a bold forester, in a green frock, with your
rosy hue, gray locks, and comely belly. In short, the favour
itself, and the manner are so agreeable, that I shall be at least
as much disappointed as you can be, if it fails. One is not
ashamed to wear a feather from the hand of a friend. We both
scorn to ask or accept boons; but it is pleasing to have life
painted with images by the pencil of friendship. Visions you
know have always been my pasture; and so far from growing old
enough to quarrel with their emptiness, I almost think there is
no wisdom comparable to that of exchanging what is called the
realities of life for dreams. Old castles, old pictures, old
histories, and the babble of old people, make one live back into
centuries, that cannot disappoint one. One holds fast and surely
what is past. The dead have exhausted their power of deceiving;
one can trust Catherine of Medicis now. In short, you have
opened a new landscape to my fancy; and my Lady Beaulieu will
oblige me as much as you, if she puts the long bow into your
hands. I don't know but the idea may produce some other Castle
The victorious arms of the present ministry in Parliament will
make me protract my stay here, lest it should be thought I
awaited the decision of the event; next to successful enemies, I
dread triumphant friends. To be sure, Lord Temple and George
Grenville are very proper to be tied to a conqueror's car, and to
drag then, slow lengths along;" but it is too ridiculous to see
Goody Newcastle exulting like old Marius in a seventh consulship.
Don't tell it, but as far as I can calculate my own intention, I
shall not set out before the twenty-fifth of March. That will
meet your abode in London; and I shall get a day or two out of
you for some chat at Strawberry on all I have seen and done here.
For this reason I will anticipate nothing now, but bid you
good-morrow, after telling you a little story. The canton of
Berne ordered all the impressions of Helvetius's Esprit and
Voltaire's Pucelle to be seized. The officer of justice employed
by them came into the council and said, "Magnifiques seigneurs,
apr`es toutes les recherches possibles, on n'a p`u trouver dans
toute la ville que tr`es peu de l'Esprit, et pas une Pucelle."
Adieu! Robin and John.
I had not sent away my letter, being so disappointed of a
messenger, and now receive yours of December the thirtieth. My
house is most heartily at your service, and I shall write to
Favre to have it ready for You. You will see by the former part
of this letter, that I do not think of being in England before
the end of March. All I dislike in this contract is the fear,
that if I drive you out of my house, I shall drive you out of
town; and as you will find, I have not a bed to offer you but my
own, and Favre's, in which your servant will lie, for I have
stripped Arlington-street to furnish Strawberry. In the mean
time you will be comfortable in my bed, and need have no trouble
about Favre, as he lodges at his wife's while I am absent. Let
them know in time to have the beds aired.
I don't understand one syllable of your paragraph about Miss
Talbot, Admiral Cornish, and Mr. Hampden's son. I thought she
was married, and I forget to whom.
(922) Lady Mary Montagu, third daughter and coheiress of John
second Duke of Montagu, and last of that creation; married, 7th
July 1730, George Montagu, fourth Earl of Cardigan.-E.
Letter 289 To The Right Hon. Lady Hervey.
Paris, Saturday night, Jan. 11, 1766. (page 457)
I have just now, Madam, received the scissors, by General Vernon,
from Mr. Conway's office. Unluckily, I had not received your
ladyship's notification of them sooner, for want of a conveyance,
and I wrote to my servant to inquire of yours how they had been
sent; which I fear may have added a little trouble to all you had
been so good as to take, and for which I give you ten thousand
thanks: but your ladyship is so exact and friendly, that it
almost discourages rather than encourages me. I cannot bring
myself to think that ten thousand obligations are new letters of
credit. I have -seen Mrs. F *****, and her husband may be as
happy as he will: I cannot help pitying him. She told me it is
coulder here than in England; and in truth I believe so: I blow
the fire between every paragraph, and am quite cut off from all
sights. The agreeableness of the evenings makes me some amends.
I am just going to sup at Madame d'Aiguillon's with Madame
d'Egmont, and I hope Madame de Brionne, whom I have not yet seen;
but she is not very well, and it is doubtful. My last new
passion, and I think the strongest, is the Duchesse de Choiseul.
Her face is pretty, not very pretty; her person a little model.
Cheerful, modest, full of attentions, with the happiest propriety
of expression, and greatest quickness of reason and judgment, you
would take her for the queen of an allegory: one dreads its
finishing, as much as a lover, if she would admit one, would wish
it should finish. In short, Madam, though you are the last
person that will believe it, France is so agreeable, and England
so much the reverse, that I don't know when I shall return. The
civilities, the kindnesses, the honours I receive, are so many
and so great, that I am continually forced to put myself in mind
how little I am entitled to them, and how many of them I owe to
your ladyship. I shall talk you to death at my return. Shall
you bear to hear me tell you a thousand times over, that Madame
Geoffrin is the most rational woman in the world, and Madame
d'Aiguillon the most animated and most obliging? I think you
will. Your ladyship can endure the panegyric of your friends.
If you should grow impatient to hear them commended, you have
nothing to do but to come over. The best air in the world is
that where one is pleased: Sunning waters are nothing to it. The
frost is so hard, it is impossible to have the gout; and though
the fountain of youth is not here, the fountain of age is, which
comes to just the same thing. One is never old here, or never
thought so. One makes verses as if one was but seventccn-for
ON MADAME DE FORCALQUIER SPEAKING ENGLISH.
Soft sounds that steal from fair Forcalquier's lips,
Like bee that murmuring the jasmin sips!
Are these my native accents? None so sweet,
So gracious, yet my ravish'd ears did meet.
O power of beauty! thy enchanting look
Can melodize each note in Nature's book.
The roughest wrath of Russians, when they swear,
Pronounced by thee, flows soft as Indian air;
And dulcet breath, attemper'd by thine eyes,
Gives British prose o'er Tuscan verse the prize.
You must not look, Madam, for much meaning in these lines; they
were intended only to run smoothly, and to be easily comprehended
by the fair scholar who is learning our language. Still less
must you show them: they are not calculated for the meridian of
London, where you know I dread being represented as a shepherd.
Pray let them think that I am wrapped up in Canada bills, and
have all the pamphlets sent over about the colonies and the
I am very sorry for the accounts your ladyship gives me of Lord
Holland. He talks, I am told, of going to Naples: one would do a
great deal for health, but I question if I could buy it at that
expense. If Paris would answer his purpose, I should not wonder
if he came hither; but to live with Italians must be woful, and
would ipso facto make me ill. It is true I am a bad judge: I
never tasted illness but the gout, which, tormenting as it is, I
prefer to all other distempers: one knows the fit will end, will
leave one quite well, and dispenses with the nonsense of
physicians, and absurdity is more painful than pain: at least the
pain of the gout never takes away my spirits, which the other
I have never heard from Mr. Chute this century, but am glad the
gout is rather his excuse than the cause, and that it lies only
in his pen. I am in too good humour to quarrel with any body,
and consequently cannot be in haste to see England, where at
least one is sure of being quarrelled with. If they vex me, I
will come back hither directly; and I shall have the satisfaction
of knowing that your ladyship will not blame me.
Letter 290 To The Hon. H. S. Conway.
Paris, Jan. 12, 1766. (page 458)
I have received your letter by General Vernon, and another. to
which I have writ an answer, but was disappointed of a conveyance
I expected. You shall have it with additions, by the first
messenger that goes; but I cannot send it by the post, as I have
spoken very freely of some persons you name, in which we agree
thoroughly. These few lines are only to tell you that I am not
idle in writing to you.
I almost repent having come hither: for I like the way of life
and many of the people so well, that I doubt I shall feel more
regret at leaving Paris than I expected. It would sound vain to
tell you the honours and distinctions I receive, and how much I
am in fashion; yet when they come from the handsomest women in
France, and the most respectable in point of character, can one
help being a little proud? If I was twenty years younger, I
should wish they were not quite so respectable. Madame de
Brionne, whom I have never seen, and who was to have met me at
supper last night at the charming Madame d'Egmont's, sent me an
invitation by the latter for Wednesday next. I was engaged, and
hesitated. I was told, "Comment! savez-vous que c'est qu'elle
ne feroit pas pour toute la France?" However, lest you should
dread my returning a perfect old swain, I study my wrinkles,
compare myself and my limbs to every plate of larks I see, and
treat my understanding with at least as little mercy. Yet, do
you know, my present fame is owing to a very trifling
composition, but which has made incredible noise. I was one
evening at Madame Geoffrin's joking on Rousseau's affectations
and contradictions, and said some things that diverted them.
When I came home, I Put them into a letter, and showed it next
day to Helvetius and the Duc de Nivernois-, who were so pleased
with it, that, after telling me some faults in the language,
which you may be sure there were, they encouraged me to let it be
seen. As you know I willingly laugh at mountebanks, political or
literary, let their talents be ever so great, I was not averse.
The copies have spread like wildfire; et me voici `a la mode! I
expect the end of my reign at the end of the week with great
composure. Here is the letter:--
LE ROI DE PRUSSE, A MONSIEUR ROUSSEAU.(923)
Mon ch`ere Jean Jacques,
Vous avez renonc`e `a G`en`eve votre patrie; vous vous `etes fait
chasser de la Suisse, pays tant vant`e dans vos `ecrits; la
France vous a d`ecret`e. Venez done chez moi; j'admire vos
talens; je m'amuse de vos r`everies, qui (soit dit en passant)
vous occupent trop, et trop long tems. Il faut `a la fin `etre
sage et heureux. Vous avez fait assez parler de vous par des
singularit`es peu convenables `a un v`eritable grand homme.
D`emontrez `a vos ennemis que vous pouvez avoir quelquefois le
sens commun: cela les fachera, sans vous faire- tort. Mes `etats
vous offrent Une retraite paisible; je vous veux du bien, et je
vous en ferai, si vous le trouvez bon. Mais si vous vous
obstiniez `a rejetter mon secours, attendez-vous que je ne le
dirai `a personne. Si vous persistez @ vous creuser l'esprit
pour trouver de nouveaux malheurs, choisissez les tels que vous
voudrez. Je suis roi, je puis vous en procurer au gr`e de vos
souhaits: et ce qui s`urement ne vous arrivera pas vis `a vis de
vos ennemis, je cesserai de vous pers`ecuter quand vous cesserez
de mettre votre gloire `a l'`etre. Votre bon ami, Frederic.
The Princesse de Ligne,(924) whose mother was an Englishwoman
made a good observation to me last night. She said, "Je suis
roi, je puis vous procurer de malheurs," was plainly the stroke
of an English pen. I said, then I had certainly not well
imitated the character in which I wrote. You will say I am an
old man to attack both Voltaire and Rousseau. It is true; but I
shoot at their heel, at their vulnerable part.
I beg your pardon for taking up your time with these trifles.
The day after to-morrow we go in cavalcade with the Duchess of
Richmond to her audience;(925) I have got my cravat and shammy
(923) How much Rousseau, who was naturally disposed to believe in
plots and conspiracies against him, was annoyed by this jeu
d'esprit, the reader will readily learn from the following
letter, which he addressed to the editor of the London Chronicle
shortly after his arrival in England:--
Wootton, 3d March 1766.
You have failed, Sir, in the respect which every private person
owes to a crowned head, in attributing publicly to the King of
Prussia a letter full of extravagance and malignity, of which,
for these very reasons, you ought to have known be could not be
the author. You have even dared to transcribe his signature, as
if you had seen it written with his own hand. I inform you, Sir,
this letter was fabricated at Paris; and what rends my heart is,
that the impostor has accomplices in England. You owe to the
King of Prussia, to truth, and to me, to print the letter which I
write to you, and which I sign, as an atonement for a fault with
which you would doubtless reproach yourself severely, if you knew
to what a dark transaction you have rendered yourself accessory.
I salute you Sir, very sincerely. Rousseau.
(924) The Princess de Ligne was a daughter of the Marquis de
Megi`eres, by Miss Oglethorpe, sister of general Oglethorpe.-E.
(925) At Versailles, as ambassadress.
Letter 291 To The Rev. Mr. Cole.
Paris, Jan. 18, 1766. (page 460)
I had extreme satisfaction in receiving your letter, having been
in great pain about you, and not knowing where to direct a
letter. Favre(926) told me, you had had an accident, did not say
what it was, but that you was not come to town.(927) He received
all the letters and parcels safe; for which I give you many
thanks, and a thousand more for your kindness in thinking of
them, when you was suffering so much. It was a dreadful
conclusion of your travels; but I trust will leave no
consequences behind it. The weather is by no means favourable
for a recovery, if it is as severe in England as at Paris. We
have had two or three days of fog, rather than thaw; but the
frost is set in again as sharp as ever. I persisted in going
about to churches and convents, till I thought I should have lost
my nose and fingers. I have submitted at last to the season, and
lie a-bed all the morning; but I hope in February and March to
recover the time I have lost. I shall not return to England
before the end of March, being determined not to hazard any
thing. I continue perfectly well, and few things could tempt me
to risk five months more of gout.
I will certainly bring you some pastils, and have them better
packed, if it is possible. You know how happy I should be if you
would send me any other commission. As you say nothing of the
Eton living, I fear that prospect has failed you; which gives me
great regret, as it would give me very sensible pleasure to have
you fixed somewhere (and not far from me) for your ease and
I am glad the cathedral of Amiens answered your expectation; so
has the Sainte Chapelle mine; you did not tell me what charming
enamels I should find in the ante-chapel. I have seen another
vast piece, and very fine, of the Constable Montmorenci, at the
Mar`echale Duchesse de Luxembourg's. Rousseau is gone to England
with Mr. Hume. You will very probably see a letter to Rousseau,
in the name of the King of Prussia, writ to laugh at his
affectations. It has made excessive noise here, and I believe
quite ruined the author with many philosophers. When I tell you
I was the author, it is telling you how cheap I hold their anger.
If it does not reach you, you shall see it at Strawberry, where I
flatter myself I shall see you this summer, and quite well.
(926) A servant of Mr. Walpole's left in London.
(927) In disembarking at Dover, Mr. Cole met with an accident,
that had confined him there three weeks to his bed.
Letter 292 To Mr. Gray.
Paris, Jan. 25, 1766. (461)
I am much indebted to you for your kind letter and advice; and
though it is late to thank you for it, it is at least a stronger
proof that I do not forget it. However, I am a little obstinate,
as you know, on the chapter of health, and have persisted through
this Siberian winter in not adding a grain to my clothes, and in
going open-breasted without an under waistcoat. In short, though
I like extremely to live, it must be in my own way, as long as I
can: it is not youth I court, but liberty; and I think making
oneself tender is issuing a general warrant against one's own
person. I suppose I shall submit to confinement when I cannot
help it; but I am indifferent enough to life not to care if it
ends soon after my prison begins. I have not delayed so long to
answer your letter, from not thinking of you, or from want of
matter, but from want of time. I am constantly occupied,
engaged, amused, till I cannot bring a hundredth part of what I
have to say into the compass of a letter. You will lose nothing
by this: you know my volubility, when I am full of new subjects;
and I have at least many hours of conversation for you at my
return. One does not learn a whole nation in four or five
months; but, for the time, few, I believe, have seen, studied, or
got so much acquainted with the French as I have.
By what I said of their religious or rather irreligious opinions,
you must not conclude their people of quality atheists--at least,
not the men. Happily for them, poor souls! they are not capable
of going so far into thinking. They assent to a great deal,
because it is the fashion, and because they don't know how to
contradict. they are ashamed to defend the Roman Catholic
religion, because it is quite exploded; but I am convinced they
believe it in their hearts. They hate the Parliaments and the
philosophers, and are rejoiced that they may still idolize
royalty. At present, too, they are a little triumphant: the
court has shown a little spirit, and the Parliament much less:
but as the Duc de Choiseul, who is very fluttering, unsettled,
and inclined to the philosophers, has made a compromise with the
Parliament of Bretagne, the Parliaments might venture out again,
if, as I fancy will be the case, they are not glad to drop a
cause, of which they began to be a little weary of the
The generality of the men, and more than the generality, are dull
and empty. They have taken up gravity, thinking it was
philosophy and English, and so have acquired nothing in the room
of their natural levity and cheerfulness. However, as their high
opinion of their own country remains, for which they can no
longer assign any reason, they are contemptuous and reserved,
instead of being ridiculously, consequently pardonably,
impertinent. I have wondered, knowing my own countrymen, that we
had attained such a superiority. I wonder no longer, and have a
little more respect for English heads than I had.
The women do not seem of the same country: if they are less gay
than they were, they are more informed, enough to make them very
conversable. I know six or seven with very superior
understandings. some of them with wit, or with softness, or very
Madame Geoffrin, of whom you have heard much, is an extraordinary
woman, with more common sense than I almost ever met with. Great
quickness in discovering characters, penetration in going to the
bottom of them, and a pencil that never fails in a likeness--
seldom a favourable One. She exacts and preserves, spite of her
birth and their nonsensical prejudices about nobility, great
court and attention. This she acquires by a thousand little arts
and offices of friendship: and by a freedom and severity, which
seem to be her sole end of drawing a concourse to her; for she
insists on scolding those she inveigles to her. She has little
taste and less knowledge, but protects artisans and authors, and
courts a few people to have the credit of serving her dependents.
She was bred under the famous Madame Tencin, who advised her
never to refuse any man; for, said her mistress, though nine in
ten should not care a farthing for you, the tenth may live to be
a useful friend. She did not adopt or reject the whole plan, but
fully retained the purport of the maxim. In short, she is an
epitome' of empire, subsisting by rewards and punishments. Her
great enemy, Madame du Deffand, was for a short time mistress of
the Regent, is now very old and stoneblind, but retains all her
vivacity, wit, memory, judgment, passions, and agreeableness.
She goes to operas, plays, suppers, and Versailles; gives suppers
twice a-week; has every thing new read to her; makes new songs
and epigrams, admirably, and remembers every one that has been
made these fourscore years. She corresponds with Voltaire,
dictates charming letters to him, contradicts him, is no bigot to
him or any body, and laughs both at the clergy and the
philosophers. In a Dispute, into which she easily falls, she is
very warm, and yet scarce ever in the wrong: her judgment on
every subject, is as just as possible; on every point of conduct
as wrong as possible: for she is all love and hatred, passionate
for her friends to enthusiasm, still anxious to be loved, I don't
mean by lovers, and a vehement enemy, but openly. As she can
have no amusement but conversation, the least solitude and ennui
are insupportable to her, and put her into the power of several
worthless people, who eat her suppers when they can eat nobody's
of higher rank; wink to one another and laugh at her; hate her
because she has forty times more parts--and venture to hate her
because she is not rich.(928) She has an old friend whom I must
mention, a Monsieur Pondeveyle,(929) author of the Fat puni, and
the Complaisant, and of those pretty novels, the Comte de
Cominge, the Siege of Calais, and Les Malheurs de l'Amour.(930)
Would not you expect this old man to be very agreeable? He can
be so, but seldom is yet he has another very different and very
amusing talent, the art of parody, and is unique in his kind. He
composes tales to the tunes of long dances -. for instance, he
has adapted the Regent's Daphnis and Chloe to one, and made it
ten times more indecent; but is so old, and sings it so well,
that it is permitted in all companies. He has succeeded still
better in les caract`eres de la danse, to which he has adapted
words that express all the characters of love. With all this he
has not the least idea of cheerfulness in conversation; seldom
speaks but on grave subjects, and not often on them; is a
humourist, very supercilious, and wrapt up in admiration of his
own country, as the only judge of his merit. His air and look
are cold and forbidding; but ask him to sing, or praise his
works, his eyes and smiles open, and brighten up. In short, I
can show him to you: the self-applauding poet in Hogarth's Rake's
Progress, the second print, is so like his very features and very
wig, that you would know him by it, if you came hither--for he
certainly will not go to you.
Madame de Mirepoix's understanding is excellent of the useful
kind, and can be so when she pleases of the agreeable kind. She
has read, but seldom shows it, and has perfect taste. Her manner
is cold, but very civil; and she conceals even the blood of
Lorrain, without ever forgetting it. Nobody in France knows the
world better, and nobody is personally so well with the King.
She is false, artful, and insinuating beyond measure when it is
her interest,(931) but indolent and a coward. She never had any
passion but gaming, and always loses. For ever paying court, the
sole produce of a life of art is to get money from the King to
carry on a course of paying debts or contracting new ones, which
she discharges as fast as she is able. She advertised devotion,
to get made dame du palais to the Queen; and the very next day
this Princess of Lorrain was seen riding backwards with Madame
Pompadour in the latter's coach. When the King was stabbed, and
heartily frightened, the mistress took a panic too, and consulted
D'Argenson,(932) whether she had not best make off in time. He
hated her, and said, By all means. Madame de Mirepoix advised
her to stay. The King recovered his spirits, D'Argenson was
banished, and La Mar`echale inherited part of the mistress's
credit. I must interrupt my history of illustrious women with an
anecdote of Monsieur de Maurepas, with whom I am much acquainted,
and who has one of the few heads which approach to good ones, and
who luckily for us was disgraced, and the marine dropped, because
it was his favourite object and province. He employed Pondeveyle
to make a song on the Pompadour:(933) it was clever and bitter,
and did not spare Majesty. This was Maurepas absurd enough to
sing at supper at Versailles.(934) Banishment ensued; and lest
he should ever be restored, the mistress persuaded the King that
he had poisoned her predecessor Madame de Chateauroux. Maurepas
is very agreeable, and exceedingly cheerful; yet I have seen a
transient silent cloud when politics are talked of.
Madame de Boufflers, who was in England(935) is a savants
mistress of the Prince of Conti, and very desirous of being his
wife. She is two women, the upper and the lower. I need not
tell you that the lower is gallant, and still has pretensions.
The upper is very sensible, too, and has a measured eloquence
that is just and pleasing--but all is spoiled by an unrelaxed
attention to applause. You would think she was always sitting
for her picture to her biographer. Madame de Rochfort(936) is
different from all the rest. Her understanding is just and
delicate; with a finesse of wit that is the result of reflection.
Her manner is soft and feminine, and though a savants, without
any declared pretensions. She is the decent friend of Monsieur
de Nivernois; for you must not believe a syllable of what you
read in their novels. It requires the greatest curiosity, or the
greatest habitude, to discover the smallest connexion between the
sexes here. No familiarity, but under the veil of friendship, is
permitted, and love's dictionary is as much prohibited, as at
first sight one should think his ritual was. All you hear, and
that pronounced with nonchalance, is, that Monsieur un tel has
had Madame un telle. The Duc de Nivernois has parts, and writes
at the top of the mediocre, but, as Madame Geoffrin says, is
manqu`e par tout; guerrier manqu`e, ambassadeur manqu`e, homme
d'affaires manqu`e and auteur manqu`e--no, he is not homme de
naissance manqu`e. He would think freely, but has some ambition
of being governor to the Dauphin, and is more afraid of his wife
and daughter, who are ecclesiastic fagots. The former
outchatters the Duke of Newcastle; and the latter Madame de
Gisors, exhausts Mr. Pitt's eloquence in defense of the
Archbishop of Paris. Monsieur de Nivernois lives in a small
circle of dependent admirers, and Madame de Rochfort is
high-priestess for a small salary of credit.
The Duchess of Choiseul,(937) the only young one of these
heroines, is not very pretty, but has fine eyes, and is a little
model in wax-work, which not being allowed to speak for some time
as incapable, has a hesitation and modesty, the latter of which
the court has not cured, and the former of which is atoned for by
the most interesting sound of voice, and forgotten in the most
elegant turn and propriety of expression. Oh! it is the
gentlest, amiable, civil little creature that ever came out of a
fairy egg! So just in its phrases and thoughts, so attentive and
good-natured! Every body loves it but its husband, who prefers
his own sister the Duchess de Grammont,(938) an Amazonian,
fierce, haughty dame, who loves and hates arbitrarily, and is
detested. Madame de Choiseul, passionately fond of her husband,
was the martyr of this union, but at last submitted with a good
grace; has gained a little credit with him, and is still believed
to idolize him. But I doubt it--she takes too much pains to
I cannot finish my list without adding a much more common
character--but more complete in its kind than any of the
foregoing, the Mar`echale de Luxembourg.(939) She has been very
handsome, very abandoned, and very mischievous. Her beauty is
gone, her lovers are gone, and she thinks the devil is coming.
This dejection has softened her into being rather agreeable, for
she has wit and good-breeding; but you would swear, by the
restlessness of her person and the horrors she cannot conceal,
that she had signed the compact, and expected to be called upon
in a week for the performance.
I could add many pictures, but none so remarkable. In those I
send you, there is not a feature bestowed gratis or exaggerated.
For the beauties, of which there are a few considerable, as
Mesdames de Brionne, de Monaco, et d'Egmont, they have not yet
lost their characters, nor got any.
You must not attribute my intimacy with Paris to curiosity alone.
An accident unlocked the doors for me. That passe-partout,
called the fashion, has made them fly open-and what do you think
was that fashion? I myself. Yes, like Queen Elinor in the
ballad, I sunk at Charing-cross, and have risen in the Fauxbourg
St. Germain. A plaisanterie on Rousseau, whose arrival here in
his way to you brought me acquainted with many anecdotes
conformable to the idea I had conceived of him, got about, was
liked much more than it deserved, spread like wildfire, and made
me the subject of conversation. Rousseau's devotees were
offended. Madame de Boufflers, with a tone of sentiment, and the
accents of lamenting humanity, abused me heartily, and then
complained to myself with the utmost softness. I acted
contrition, but had like to have spoiled all, by growing
dreadfully tired of a second lecture from the Prince of Conti,
who took up the ball, and made himself the hero of a history
wherein he had nothing to do. I listened, did not understand
half he said (nor he neither), forgot the rest, said Yes when I
should have said No, yawned when I should have smiled, and was
very penitent when I should have rejoiced at my pardon. Madame
de Boufflers was more distressed, for he owned twenty times more
than I had said: she frowned and made him signs: but she had
wound up his clack, and there was no stopping it. -The moment she
grew angry, the lord of the house grew charmed, and it has been
my fault if I am not at the head of a numerous sect:--but, when I
left a triumphant party in England, I did not come hither to be
at the head of a fashion. However, I have been sent for about
like an African prince or a learned canary-bird, and was, in
particular, carried by force to the Princess of Talmond,(940) the
Queen's cousin, who lives in a charitable apartment in the
Luxembourg, and was sitting on a small bed hung with saints and
Sobieskis, in a corner of one of those vast chambers, by two
blinking tapers. I stumbled over a cat, a footstool, and a
chamber-pot in my journey to her presence. She could not find a
syllable to say to me, and the visit ended with her begging a
lap-dog. Thank the Lord! though this is the first month, it is
the last week, of my reign; and I shall resign my crown with
great satisfaction to a bouillie of chestnuts, which is just
invented and whose annals will be illustrated by so many
indigestions, that Paris will not want any thing else for three
weeks. I will enclose the fatal letter after I have finished
this enormous one; to which I will only add, that nothing has
interrupted my S`evign`e researches but the frost. The Abb`e de
Malherbes has given me full power to ransack I did not tell you,
that by great accident, when I thought on nothing less, I
stumbled on an original picture of the Comte de Grammont, Adieu!
You are generally in London in March: I shall be there by the end
(928) To the above portrait of Madame du Deffand it may be useful
to subjoin the able development of her character which appeared
in the Quarterly Review for May 1811, in its critique on her
Letters to Walpole:--"This lady seems to have united the
lightness of the French character with the
solidity of the English. She was easy and volatile, yet
judicious and acute; sometimes profound and sometimes
superficial. She had a wit playful, abundant, and well-toned; an
admirable conception of the ridiculous, and great skill in
exposing it; a turn for satire, which she indulged, not always in
the best-natured manner, yet with irresistible effect; powers of
expression varied, appropriate, flowing from the source, and
curious without research; a refined taste for letters, and a
judgment both of men and books in a high degree: enlightened and
accurate. As her parts had been happily thrown together by
nature, they were no less happy in the circumstances which
attended their progress and development. They were refined, not
by a course of solitary study, but by desultory reading, and
chiefly by living intercourse with the brightest geniuses of her
age. Thus trained, they acquired a pliability of movement, which
gave to all their exertions a bewitching air of freedom and
negligence. and made even their last efforts seem only the
exuberances or flowering-off of a mind capable of higher
excellencies, but unambitious to attain them. There was nothing
to alarm or overpower. On whatever topic she touched, trivial or
severe, it was alike en badinant; but in the midst of this
sportiveness, her genius poured itself forth in a thousand
delightful fancies, and scattered new graces and ornaments on
every object within its sphere. In its wanderings from the
trifles of the day to grave questions of morals or philosophy, it
carelessly struck out, and as carelessly abandoned, the most
profound truths; and while it sought only to amuse, suddenly
astonished and electrified by rapid traits of illumination, which
opened the depths of difficult subjects, and roused the
researches of more systematic reasoners. To these qualifications
were added an independence in forming opinions, and a boldness in
avowing them, which wore at least the semblance of honesty; a
perfect knowledge of the world, and that facility of manners,
which in the commerce of society supplies the place of
(929) m. de Pontdeveyle, the younger brother of the Marquis
d'Argental, the friend of Voltaire and of the King of Prussia.
Their mother, Madame do Ferioles, was sister to the celebrated
madame de Tencin and to the Cardinal of the same name. He died
(930) Madame du Deffand, in a letter to Walpole of the 17th of
March 1776, states the Malheurs de l'Amour to be the production
of Madame de Tencin. She describes it as un roman bien `ecrit,
mais qui n'inspire que de la tristesse."-E.
(931) La Mar`ecchale de Mirepoix was the first woman of
consequence who countenanced and appeared in public at Versailles
with Madame du Barri; while, on the other hand, her brother, the
Prince de Beauvau and his wife, gave great offence by refusing to
see her or be of any of her parties. Her person is thus
described by Madame du Deffand:--"Sa figure est charmante, son
teint est `eblouissant; ses traits, sans `etre parfaits, sont Si
bien assortis, que personne n'a l'air plus jeune et n'est plus
(932) Le Comte d'Argenson was minister-at-war, and, after
Damien's attempt upon the life of the King of France in 1757, was
disgraced, and exiled to his country-house at Ormes in Poitou.
He was brother to the Marquis d'Argenson, who had been minister
of foreign affairs, and died in 1756. He it was who is said to
have addressed M. Bignon, his nephew, afterwards an academician,
on conferring upon him the appointment of librarian to the King,
"Mon neveu, voil`a une belle occasion pour apprendre `a lire."-E.
(933) The following is the commencement of the song above alluded
to by Walpole:--
"Une petite bourgeoise,
Elev`ee `a la grivoise,
Mesurant tout k sa toise,
Fait de la cour un tandis.
Le Roi, malgr`e son scrupule,
Pour elle froidement br`ule.
Cette flamme ridicule Si
Excite dans tout Paris, ris, ris, ris."
(934) Le Comte de Maurepas, who was married to a sister of the
Duc de la Valli`ere, had been minister of marine, and disgraced,
as Walpole says, at the instigation of the reigning mistress,
Madame de Pompadour. Upon the death of Louis Quinze, he was
immediately summoned to assist in the formation of the ministry
of his successor.-E.
(935 See vol. iii. p. 218, letter 157.-E.
(936) Madame de Rochefort, n`ee Brancas.-E.
(937) La Duchesse de Choiseul, n`ee du Chatel. The husband
appears to have been more attached to her than Walpole supposed;
at least if we may judge from his will, in which he desires to be
buried in the same grave, and expresses his gratification at the
idea of reposing by the side of one whom he had, during his
lifetime, cherished and respected so highly.-E.
(938) La Duchesse de Grammont, sister of the Duke of Choiseul,
does not appear to have deserved the character which Walpole has
here given of her. She was thus described, in 1761, by Mr. Hans
Stanley, in a letter to Mr. Pitt:--"The Duchess is the only
person who has any weight with her brother, the Duc de Choiseul.
She never dissembles her contempt or dislike of any man, in
whatever degree of elevation. It is said she might have supplied
the place of Madame de Pompadour, if she had pleased. She treats
the ceremonies and pageants of courts as things beneath her: she
possesses a most uncommon share of understanding, and has very
high notions of honour and reputation." The crowning act of her
life militates strongly against Walpole's views. When brought
before the Revolutionary tribunal, in April 1794, after having
been seized by order of Robespierre, she astonished her judges by
the grace and dignity of her demeanour; and pleaded, not for her
own life, but eloquently for that of her friend, the Duchesse du
Chatelet: "Que ma mmort soit d`ecid`ee," she said; "cela ne
m'`etonne pas; mais," pointing to her friend, "pour cet ange, en
quoi vous a-t-elle offens`e; elle qui n'a jamais fait tort `a
personne; et dont la vie enti`ere n'offre qu'un tableau de vertu
et de bienfaisance." Both suffered upon the same scaffold. It
was this lady who was selected to be made an example of, from
among many others who slighted Madame du Barri; and for this she
was exiled to the distance of fifteen leagues from Paris, or from
wheresoever the court was assembled.-E.
(939) La Mar`echale Duchesse de Luxembourg, sister to the Duc de
Villeroi, Her first husband was the Duc de Boufflers, by whom she
had a son, the Duc de Boufflers, who died at Genoa of the
small-pox. She afterwards married the Mar`echal Duc de
Luxembourg, at whose country-seat, Montmorency, Jean Jacques
Rousseau was long an inmate.-E.
(940) The Princess of Talmond was born in Poland, and said to be
allied to the Queen, Maria Leczinska, with whom she came to
France, and there married a prince of the house of Bouillon.-E.
(941) Gray, in reference to this letter, writes thus to Dr.
Wharton, on the 5th of March:--"Mr. Walpole writes me now and
then a long and lively letter from Paris, to which place he went
the last summer, with the gout upon him; sometimes in his limbs;
often in his stomach and head. He has got somehow well, (not by
means of the climate, one would think,) goes to all public
places, sees all the best company, and is very much in fashion.
He says he sunk like Queen Eleanor, at Charing-cross, and has
risen again at Paris. He returns again in April; but his health
is certainly in a deplorable state." Works, vol. iv. p. 79.-E.
Letter 293 To The Right Hon. Lady Hervey.
Paris, Feb. 3, 1766. )page 468)
I had the honour of writing to your ladyship on the 4th and 12th
of last month, which I only mention, because the latter went by
the post, which I have found is not always a safe conveyance.
I am sorry to inform you, Madam, that you will not see Madame
Geoffrin this year, as she goes to Poland in May. The King has
invited her, promised her an apartment exactly in her own way,
and that she shall see nobody but whom) she chooses to see. This
will not surprise you, Madam; but what I shall add, will: though
I must beg your ladyship not to mention it even to her, as it is
an absolute secret here, as she does not know that I know it, and
as it was trusted to me by a friend of yours. In short, there
are thoughts of sending her with a public character, or at least
with a commission from hence--a very extraordinary honour, and I
think never bestowed but on the Mar`echale de Gu`ebriant. As the
Dussons have been talked of, and as Madame Geoffrin has enemies,
its being known might make her uneasy that it was known. I
should have told it to no mortal but your ladyship; but I could
not resist giving you such a pleasure. In your answer, Madam, I
need not warn YOU not to specify what I have told you.
My favour here continues ; and favour never displeases. To me,
too, it is a novelty, and I naturally love curiosities. However,
I must be looking towards home, and have perhaps only been
treasuring up regret. At worst I have filled my mind with a new
set of ideas; some resource to a man who was heartily tired of
his old ones. When I tell your ladyship that I play at whisk,
and bear even French music, you will not wonder at any change in
me. Yet I am far from pretending to like every body, or every
thing I see. There are some chapters on which I still fear we
shall not agree; but I will do your ladyship the justice to own,
that you have never said a syllable too much in behalf of the
friends to whom you was so good as to recommend me. Madame
d'Egmont, whom I have mentioned but little, is one of the best
women in the world, and, though not at all striking at first,
_fair)s upon one much. Colonel Gordon, with this letter, brings
you, Madam, some more seeds from her. I have a box of pomatums
for you from Madame de Boufflers, which shall go by the next
conveyance that offers. As he waits for my parcel, I can only
repeat how much I am your ladyship's most obliged and faithful
Letter 294 To George Montagu, Esq.
Paris, Feb. 4, 1766. (page 469)
I write on small paper, that the nothing I have to say may look
like a letter, Paris, that supplies tine with diversions, affords
me no news. England sends me none, on which I care to talk by
the post. All seems in confusion; but I have done with politics!
The marriage of your cousin puts me in mind of the two owls, whom
the Vizier in some Eastern tale told the Sultan were treating on
a match between their children, on whom they were to settle I
don't know how many ruined villages. Trouble not your head about
it. Our ancestors were rogues, and so will our posterity be.
Madame Roland has sent to me, by Lady Jerningham,(942) to beg my
works. She shall certainly have them when I return to England;
but how comes she to forget that you and I are friends? or does
she think that all Englishmen quarrel on party? If she does,
methinks she is a good deal in the right, and it is one of the
reasons why I have bid adieu to politics, that I may not be
expected to love those I hate, and hate those I love. I supped
last night with the Duchess de Choiseul, and saw a magnificent
robe she is to wear to-day for a great wedding between a
Biron(943) and a Boufflers. It is of blue satin, embroidered all
over in mosaic, diamond-wise, with gold: in every diamond is a
silver star edged with gold, and surrounded with spangles in the
same way; it is trimmed with double sables, crossed with frogs
and tassels of gold; her head, neck, breast, and arms, covered
with diamonds. She will be quite the fairy queen, for it is the
prettiest little reasonable amiable Titania you ever saw; but
Oberon does not love it. He prefers a great mortal Hermione his
sister. I long to hear that you are lodged in Arlington-street,
and invested with your green livery; and I love Lord Beaulieu for
his cudom. Adieu!
(942) Mary, eldest daughter, and eventually heiress, of Francis
Plowden, Esq. by Mary eldest daughter of the Hon. John Stafford
Howard, younger son of the unfortunate Lord Stafford, wife of sir
(943) The Duc de Lauzun, who upon the death of his uncle, the
Mar`echal de Biron, became Duc de Biron, married the heiress and
only child of the Duc de Boufflers, who died at Genoa. The
marriage proved an unhappy one, and the Duchess twice took refuge
in England at the breaking out of the French revolution; but
having, in 1793, unadvisedly returned to Paris, she perished on
the scaffold in one of the bloody proscriptions of Robespierre.
At the beginning of that revolution, the Duke espoused the
popular cause, and even commanded an army under the orders of the
legislative assembly; but in the storms that succeeded, being
altogether unequal to stem the torrent of popular fury or direct
its course, he fell by the guillotine early in 1794.-E.
Letter 295 To George Montagu, Esq.
Paris, Sunday, Feb. 23. (page 470)
I cannot know that you are in my house, and not say, you are
welcome. Indeed you are, and I am heartily glad you are pleased
there. I have neither matter nor time for more, as I have heard
of an opportunity of sending this away immediately with some
other letters. News do not happen here as in London; the
Parliaments meet, draw up a remonstrance, ask a day for
presenting it, have the day named a week after, and so forth. At
their rate of going on, if Methusalem was first president, he
would not see the end of a single question. As your histories
are somewhat more precipitate, I wait for their coming to some
settlement, and then will return; but, if the old ministers are
to be replaced, Bastille for Bastille, I think I had rather stay
where I am. I am not half so much afraid of any power, as the
French are of Mr. Pitt. Adieu!
Letter 296 To The Rev. Mr. Cole.
Paris, Feb. 28, 1766. (page 470)
As you cannot, I believe, get a copy of the letter to Rousseau,
and are impatient for it, I send it you: though the brevity of it
will not answer your expectation. It is no answer to any of his
works, and is only a laugh at his affectations. I hear he does
not succeed in England, where his singularities are no curiosity.
Yet he must stay there, or give up all his pretensions. To quit
a country where he may live at ease, and unpersecuted, will be
owning that tranquillity is not what he seeks. If he again seeks
persecution, who will pity him? I should think even bigots would
let him alone out of contempt.
I have executed your commission in a way that I hope will please
you. As you tell me you have a blue cup and saucer, and a red
one, and would have them completed to six, without being all
alike, I have bought one other blue, one other red, and two
sprigged, in the same manner, with colours; so you will have just
three pair, which seems preferable to six odd ones; and which,
indeed, at nineteen livres a-piece, I think I could not have
I shall keep very near the time I proposed returning; though I am
a little tempted to wait for the appearance of' leaves. As I may
never come hither again, I am disposed to see a little of their
villas and gardens, though it will vex me to lose spring and
lilac-tide at Strawberry. The weather has been so bad, and
continues so cold, that I have not yet seen all I intended in
Paris. To-day, I have been to the Plaine de Sablon, by the Bois
de Boulogne, to see a horserace rid in person by the Count
Lauragais and Lord Forbes.(944) All Paris was in motion by nine
o'clock this morning, and the coaches and crowds were innumerable
at so novel a sight. Would you believe it, that there was an
Englishman to whom it was quite as new? That Englishman was I:
though I live within two miles of Hounslow, have been fifty times
in my life at Newmarket, and have passed through it at the time
of the races, I never before saw a complete one. I once went
from Cambridge on purpose; saw the beginning, was tired, and went
away. If there was to be a review in Lapland, perhaps I might
see a review, too; which yet I have never seen. Lauragais was
distanced at the second circuit. What added to the singularity
was, that at the same instant his brother was gone to church to
be married. But, as Lauragais is at variance with his father and
wife, he chose this expedient to show he was not at the wedding.
(944) James, sixteenth Baron, who married, in 1760, Catherine,
only daughter of Sir Robert Innes, Bart. of orton. He was
Deputy-governor of Fort William, and died there in 1804.-E.
Letter 297 To George Montagu, Esq.
Paris, March 3, 1766. (page 471)
I write, because I ought, and because I have promised you I
would, and because I have an opportunity by Monsieur de
Lillebonne, and in spite of a better reason for being silent,
which is, that I have nothing to say. People marry, die, and are
promoted here about whom neither you nor I care a straw. No,
truly, and I am heartily tired of them, as you may believe when I
am preparing to return. There is a man in the next room actually
nailing my boxes; yet it will be the beginning of April before I
am at home. I have not had so much as a cold in all this
Siberian winter, and I will not venture the tempting the gout by
lying in a bad inn, till the weather is warmer. I wish, too, to
see a few leaves out at Versailles, etc. If I stayed till August
I could not see many; for there is not a tree for twenty miles,
that is not hacked and hewed, till it looks like the stumps that
beggars thrust into coaches to excite charity and miscarriages.
I am going this evening in search of Madame Roland; I doubt we
shall both miss each other's lilies and roses: she may have got
some pionies in their room, but mine are replaced with crocuses.
I love Lord Harcourt for his civility, to you; and I would fain
see you situated under the greenwood-tree, even by a compromise.
You may imagine I am pleased with the defeat, hisses, and
mortification of George Grenville, and The more by the
disappointment it has occasioned here. If you have a mind to vex
them thoroughly, you must make Mr. Pitt minister.(945) They have
not forgot him, whatever we have done.
The King has suddenly been here this morning to hold a lit de
justice: I don't yet know the particulars, except that it was
occasioned by some bold remonstrances of the Parliament on the
subject of That of Bretagne. Louis told me when I waked, that
the Duke de Chevreuil, the governor of Paris, was just gone by in
great state. I long to chat with Mr. Chute and you in the blue
room at Strawberry: though I have little to write, I have a great
deal to say. How do you like his new house? has he no gout?
Are your cousins Cortez and Pizarro heartily mortified that they
are not to roast and plunder the Americans? Is Goody Carlisle
Disappointed at not being appointed grand inquisitor? Adieu! I
will not seal this till I have seen or missed Madame Roland.
P. S. I have been prevented going to madame Roland, and defer
giving an account of her by this letter.
(945) Mr. Gerard Hamilton, in a letter to Mr. Calcraft, of the
7th, says:--"Grenville and the Duke of Bedford's people continue
to oppose, in every stage, the passage of the bill for the repeal
of the Stamp-act. The reports of the day are, that Mr. Pitt will
go into the House of lords, and form an arrangement, which he
Letter 298 To The Right Hon. Lady Hervey.
Paris, March 10, 1766. (page 472)
There are two points, Madam, on which I must write to your
ladyship, though I have been confined these three or four Days
with an inflammation in my eyes. My watchings and revellings
had, I doubt, heated my blood, and prepared it to receive a
stroke of cold, which in truth was amply administered. We were
two-and-twenty at Mar`echale du Luxembourg's, and supped in a
temple rather than in a hall. It is vaulted at top with gods and
goddesses, and paved with marble; but the god of fire was not of
the number. HOWever, as this is neither of my points, I shall
say no more of it.
I send your ladyship Lady Albemarle's box, which Madame Geoffrin
brought to me herself yesterday. I think it very neat and
charming, and it exceeds the commission but by a guinea and a
half. It is lined with wood between the two golds, as the price
and necessary size would not admit metal enough without, to leave
it of any solidity.
The other point I am indeed ashamed to mention so late. I am
more guilty than even about the scissors. Lord Hertford sent me
word a fortnight ago, that an ensigncy was vacant, to which he
should recommend Mr. Fitzgerald. I forgot both to thank him and
to acquaint your ladyship, who probably know it without my
communication. I have certainly lost my memory! This is so idle
and young, that I begin to fear I have acquired something of the
Fashionable man, which I so much dreaded. It is to England then
that I must return to recover friendship and attention? I
literally wrote to Lord Hertford, and forgot to thank him. Sure
I did not use to be so abominable! I cannot account for it; I am
as black as ink, and must turn Methodist, to fancy that
repentance can wash me white again. No, I will not; for then I
may sin again, and trust to the same nostrum.
I had the honour of sending your ladyship the funeral sermon on
the Dauphin, and a tract to laugh at sermons: "Your bane and
antidote are both before you." The first is by the Archbishop of
Toulouse,(946) who is thought the first man of the clergy. It
has some sense, no pathetic, no eloquence, and, I think, clearly
no belief in his own doctrine. The latter is by the Abb`e
Coyer,(947) written livelily, upon a single idea; and, though I
agree upon the inutility of the remedy he rejects, I have no
better opinion of that he would substitute. Preaching has not
failed from the beginning of the world till to-day, not because
inadequate to the disease, but because the disease is incurable.
If one preached to lions and tigers, would it cure them of
thirsting for blood, and sucking it when they have an opportunity
No; but when they are whelped in the Tower, and both caressed and
beaten, do they turn out a jot more tame when they are grown up?
So far from it, all the kindness in the world, all the attention,
cannot make even a monkey (that is no beast of prey) remember a
pair of scissors or an ensigncy.
Adieu, Madam! and pray don't forgive me, till I have forgiven
myself. I dare not close my letter with any professions; for
could you believe them in one that had so much reason to think
himself Your most obedient humble servant?
(946) Brionne de Lomenie, Archbishop of Toulouse, and afterwards
Cardinal de Lomenie or as he was nicknamed by the populace of
Paris, "Cardinal de l'Ignominie," was great-nephew to Madame du
Deffand. The spirit of political intrigue raised him to the
administration of affairs during the last struggles of the old
r`egime, and exposed him to the contempt he deserved for aspiring
to such a situation at such a moment. He was arrested at the
commencement of the Revolution, and escaped the guillotine by
dying in one of the prisons at Paris in 1794.-E.
(947) This pamphlet of the Abb`e Coyer, which was entitled "On
Preaching," produced a great sensation in Paris at the time of
its publication. Its object is to prove, that those who have
occupied themselves in preaching to others, ever since the world
began, whether poets, priests, or philosophers, have been but a
parcel of prattlers, listened to if eloquent, laughed at if dull;
but who have never corrected any body: the true preacher being
the government, which joins to the moral maxims which it
inculcates the force of example and the power of execution.
Baron de Grimm characterizes the Abb`e as being "l'homme du monde
le plus lourd, l'ennui personnifi`e," and relates the following
anecdote of him during his visit to Voltaire at the Chateau de
Ferney:-" "The first day, the philosopher bore his company with
tolerable politeness; but the next morning he interrupted him in
a long prosing narrative of his travels, by this question:
'Savez-vous bien, M. l'Abb`e, la difference qu'il y a entre Don
Quichotte et vous? c'est que Don Quichotte prenait toutes les
auberges pour des chateaux; et vous, vous prenez tous les
ch`ateaux pour des auberges.'" The Abb`e died in 1782.-E.
Letter 299 To George Montagu, Esq.
Paris, March 12, 1766. (page 474)
I can write but two lines, for I have been confined these four or
five days with a violent inflammation in my eyes, and which has
prevented my returning to Madame Roland. I did not find her at
home, but left your letter. My right eye is well again, and I
have been to take air.
How can you ask leave to carry any body to Strawberry? May not
you do what you please with me and mine? Does not
Arlington-street comprehend Strawberry? why don't you go and lie
there if you like it'? It will be, I think, the middle of April,
before I return; I have lost a week by this confinement, and
would fain satisfy my curiosity entirely, now I am here. I have
seen enough, and too much, of the people. I am glad you are upon
civil terms with Habiculeo. The less I esteem folks, the less I
would quarrel with them.
I don't wonder that Colman and Garrick write ill In concert,(948)
when they write ill separately; however, I am heartily glad the
Clive shines. Adieu! Commend me to Charles-street. Kiss Fanny,
and Mufti, and Ponto for me, when you go to Strawberry: dear
souls, I long to kiss them myself.
(948) The popular comedy of The Clandestine Marriage, the joint
production of Garrick and Colman, had just been brought out at
Letter 300 To George Montagu, Esq.
Paris, March 21, 1766. (page 474)
You make me very happy, in telling me you have been so
comfortable in my house. If you would set up a bed there, you
need never go out of it. I want to invite you, not to expel you.
April the tenth my pilgrimage will end, and the fifteenth, or
sixteenth, you may expect to see me, not much fattened with the
flesh-pots of Egypt, but almost as glad to come amongst you again
as I was to leave you.
Your Madame Roland is not half so fond of me as she tells me; I
have been twice at her door, left your letter and my own
direction, but have not received so much as a message to tell me
she is sorry she was not at home. Perhaps this is her first
vision of Paris, and it is natural for a Frenchwoman to have her
head turned with it; though what she takes for rivers of emerald,
and hotels of ruby and topaz, are to my eyes, that have been
purged with euphrasy and rue, a filthy stream, in which every
thing is washed without being cleaned, and dirty houses, ugly
streets, worse shops, and churches loaded with bad pictures.(949)
Such is the material part of this paradise; for the corporeal,,if
Madame Roland admires it, I have nothing to say; however, I shall
not be sorry to make one at Lady Frances Elliot's. Thank you for
admiring my deaf old woman; if I could bring my old blind one
with me, I should resign this paradise as willingly as if it was
built of opal, and designed by a fisherman, who thought that what
makes a fine necklace would make a finer habitation.
We did not want your sun; it has shone here for a fortnight with
all its lustre but yesterday a north wind, blown by the Czarina
herself I believe, arrived, and declared a month of March of full
age. This morning it snowed; and now, clouds of dust are
whisking about the streets and quays, edged with an east wind,
that gets under one's very shirt. I should not be quite sorry if
a little of it tapped my lilacs on their green noses, and bade
them wait for their master.
The Princess of Talmond sent me this morning a picture of two
pup-dogs, and a black and white greyhound, wretchedly painted. I
could not conceive what I was to do with this daub, but in her
note she warned me not to hope to keep it. It was only to
imprint on my memory the size, and features, and spots of Diana,
her departed greyhound, in order that I might get her exactly
such another. Don't you think my memory will return well stored,
if it is littered with defunct lapdogs. She is so devout, that I
did not dare send her word, that I am not possessed of a twig of
Jacob's broom, with which he streaked cattle as he pleased
T'other day, in the street, I saw a child in a leading-string,
whose nurse gave it a farthing for a beggar; the babe delivered
its mite with a grace, and a twirl of the hand. I don't think
your cousin's first grandson will be so well bred. Adieu! Yours
(949) Walpole's picture of Paris, in 1766, is not much more
favourable than that of Peter Heylin, who visited that city in
the preceding century:--"This I am confident of," says Peter,
"that the nastiest lane in London is frankincense and juniper to
the sweetest street in this city. The ancient by-word was (and
there is good reason for it) 'il destaient comme la fange de
Paris:' had I the power of making proverbs, I would only change
destaient' into 'il put,' and make the by-word ten times more
orthodox. That which most amazed me is, that in such a
perpetuated constancy of stinks, there should yet be variety--a
variety so special and distinct, that my chemical nose (I dare
lay my life on it), after two or three perambulations, would hunt
out blindfold each several street by the smell, as perfectly as
another by the eye."-E.
Letter 301 To George Montagu, Esq.