Part 2 out of 17
but which will remain there while I have a being.
having drawn you this picture of myself, Madam, a subject I have
to say so much upon, will not your good-nature apply it as it
deserves, to what passed yesterday? Won't you believe that my
concern flowed from being disappointed at having offended one
whom I ought by so many ties to try to please, and whom, if I
ever meant any thing, I had meaned to please? I intended you
should see how much I despise wit, if I have any, and that you
should know my heart was void of vanity and full of gratitude.
They -are very few I desire should know so much; but my passions
act too promptly and too naturally, as you saw, when I am with
those I really love, to be capable of any disguise. Forgive me,
Madam, this tedious detail but of all people living, I cannot
bear that you should have a doubt about me.
Letter 9 To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, Jan. 14, 1760. (page 35)
How do you contrive to exist on your mountain in this rude
season! Sure you must be become a snowball! As I was not in
England in forty-one, I had no notion of such cold. The streets
are abandoned; nothing appears in them: the Thames is almost as
solid. Then think what a campaign must be in such a season! Our
army was under arms for fourteen hours on the twenty-third,
expecting the French and several of the men were frozen when they
should have dismounted. What milksops the Marlboroughs and
Ttirennes, the Blakes and the Van Tromps appear now, who whipped
into winter quarters and into port, the moment their noses looked
blue. Sir Cloudesly Shovel said that an admiral would deserve to
be broke, who kept great ships out after the end of September,
and to be shot if after October. There is Hawke(18) in the bay
weathering this winter, after conquering in a storm. For my
part, I scarce venture to make a campaign in the Opera-house; for
if I once begin to freeze, I shall be frozen through in a moment.
I am amazed, with such weather, such ravages, and distress, that
there is any thing left in Germany, but money; for thither half
the treasure of Europe goes: England, France, Russia, and all the
Empress can squeeze from Italy and Hungary, all is sent thither,
and yet the wretched people have not subsistence. A pound of
bread sells at Dresden for eleven-pence. We are going to send
many more troops thither; and it Is so much the fashion to raise
regiments, that I wish there were such a neutral kind of beings
in England as abb`es, that one might have an excuse for not
growing military mad, when one has turned the heroic corner of
one's age. I am ashamed of being a young rake, when my seniors
are covering their gray toupees with helmets and feathers, and
accoutering their pot-bellies with cuirasses and martial
masquerade habits. Yet rake I am, and abominably so, for a
person that begins to wrinkle reverently. I have sat up twice
this week till between two and three with the Duchess of Grafton,
at loo, who, by the way, has got a pam-child this morning; and on
Saturday night I supped with Prince Edward at my Lady Rochford's,
and we stayed till half an hour past three. My favour with that
Highness continues, or rather increases. He makes every body
make suppers for him to meet me, for I still hold out against
going to court. In short, if he were twenty years older, or I
could make myself twenty years younger, I might carry him to
Camden-house, and be as impertinent as ever my Lady Churchill
was; but, as I dread being ridiculous, I shall give my Lord Bute
no uneasiness. My Lady Maynard, who divides the favour of this
tiny court with me,- supped with us. Did you know she sings
French ballads very prettily? Lord Rochford played on the guitar,
and the Prince sung; there were my two nieces, and Lord
Waldegrave, Lord Huntingdon, and Mr. Morrison the groom, and the
evening was pleasant; but I had a much more agreeable supper last
night at Mrs. Clive's, with Miss West, my niece Cholmondeley, and
Murphy, the writing actor, who is very good company, and two or
three more. Mrs. Cholmondeley is very lively; you know how
entertaining the Clive is, and Miss West is an absolute original.
There is nothing new, but a very dull pamphlet, written by Lord
Bath, and his chaplain Douglas, called a Letter to Two Great Men.
It is a plan for the peace, and much adopted by the city, and
much admired by all who are too humble to judge for themselves.
I was much diverted the other morning with another volume on
birds, by Edwards, who has published four or five. The poor man,
who is grown very old and devout, begs God to take from him the
love of natural philosophy; and having observed some heterodox
proceedings among bantam cocks, he proposes that all schools of
girls and boys should be promiscuous, lest, if separated, they
should learn wayward passions. But what struck me most were his
dedications, the last was to God; this is to Lord Bute, as if he
was determined to make his fortune in one world or the other.
Pray read Fontaine's fable of the lion grown old; don't it put
you in mind of any thing? No! not when his shaggy majesty has
borne the insults of the tiger and the horse, etc. and the ass
comes last, kicks out his only remaining fang, and asks for a
blue bridle? Apropos, I will tell you the turn Charles Townshend
gave to this fable. "My lord," said he, "has quite mistaken the
thing; he soars too high at first: people often miscarry by not
proceeding by degrees; he went and at once asked for my Lord
Carlisle's garter-if he would have been contented to ask first
for my Lady Carlisle's garter, I don't know but he would have
obtained it." ' Adieu!
(18) Sir Edward Hawke had defeated the French fleet, commanded by
Admiral Conflans, in the beginning of this winter. [A graphical
description of this victory is given by Walpole in his Memoires.
"It was," he says, "the 20th of November: the shortness of the
day prevented the total demolition of the enemy; but neither
darkness, nor a dreadful tempest that ensued, could call off Sir
Edward from pursuing his blow. The roaring of the element was
redoubled by the thunder from our ships; and both concurred, in
that scene of horror, to put a period to the navy and hopes of
Letter 10 To Sir Horace Mann.
Strawberry Hill, Jan. 20, 1760. (page 36)
I am come hither in the bleakest of all winters, not to air and
exercise, but to look after my gold-fish and orange-trees. We
import all the delights of hot countries, but as we cannot
propagate their climate too, such a season as this is mighty apt
to murder rarities. And it is this very winter that has been
used for the invention of a campaign in Germany! where all fuel
is so destroyed that they have no fire but out of the mouth of a
cannon. If I were writing to an Italian as well as into Italy,
one might string concetti for an hour, and describe how heroes
are frozen on their horses till they become their own statues.
But seriously, does not all this rigour of warfare throw back an
air of effeminacy on the Duke of Marlborough and the brave of
ancient days, who only went to fight as one goes out of town in
spring, and who came back to London with the first frost'@ Our
generals are not yet arrived, though the Duke de Broglio's last
miscarriage seems to determine that there shall at last be such a
thing as winter quarters; but Daun and the King of Prussia are
still choosing King and Queen in the field.
There is a horrid scene of distress in the family of Cavendish;
the Duke's sister,(19) Lady Besborough, died this morning of the
same fever and sore throat of which she lost four children four
years ago. It looks as if it was a plague fixed in the walls of
their house: it broke out again among their servants, and carried
off two, a year and a half after the children. About ten days
ago Lord Besborough was seized with it, and escaped with
difficulty; then the eldest daughter had it, though slightly: my
lady, attending them, is dead of it in three days. It is the
same sore throat which carried off Mr. Pelham's two only sons,
two daughters, and a daughter of the Duke of Rutland, at once.
The physicians, I think, don't know what to make of it.
I am sorry you and your friend Count Lorenzi(20) are such
political foes, but I am much more concerned for the return of
your headaches. I don't know what to say about Ward's(21)
medicine, because the cures he does in that complaint are
performed by him in person. He rubs his hand with some
preparation and holds it upon your forehead, from which several
have found instant relief. If you please, I will consult him
whether he will send you any preparation for it; but you must
first send me the exact symptoms and circumstances of your
disorder and constitution, for I would not for the world venture
to transmit to you a blind remedy for an unexamined complaint.
You cannot figure a duller season: the weather bitter, no party,
little money, half the world playing the fool in the country with
the militia, others raising regiments or with their regiments; in
short, the end of a war and of a reign furnish few episodes.
Operas are more in their decline than ever. Adieu!
(19) Caroline, eldest daughter of William third Duke of
Devonshire, and wife of William Ponsonby, Earl of Besborough.
(20) Minister of France at Florence, though a Florentine.
(21) Ward, the empiric, whose pill and drop were supposed, at
this time, to have a surprising effect. He is immortalized by
"See Ward by batter'd beaux invited over."
There is a curious statue of him in marble at the Society of
Arts, in full dress, and a flowing wig.-D.
Letter 11 To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, Jan. 28, 1760. (page 37)
I shall almost frighten you from coming to London, for whether
you have the constitution of a horse or a man, you will be
equally in danger. All the horses in town are laid up with sore
throats and colds, and are so hoarse you cannot hear them speak,
I, with all my immortality, have been -half killed; that violent
bitter weather was too much for me; I have had a nervous fever
these six or seven weeks every night, and have taken bark enough
to have made a rind for Daphne; nay, have even stayed at home two
days; but I think my eternity begins to bud again. I am quite of
Dr. Garth's mind, who, when any body commended a hard frost to
him, used to reply, "Yes, Sir, 'fore Gad, very fine weather, Sir,
very wholesome weather, Sir; kills trees, Sir; very good for man,
Sir." There has been cruel havoc among the ladies; my Lady Granby
is dead; and the famous Polly, Duchess of Bolton, and my Lady
Besborough. I have no great reason to lament the last, and yet
the circumstances of her death, and the horror of it to her
family, make one shudder. It was the same sore throat and fever
that carried off four of their children a few years ago. My lord
now fell ill of it, very ill, and the eldest daughter slightly:
my lady caught it, attending her husband, and concealed it as
long as she could. When at last the physician insisted on her
keeping her bed, she said, as she went into her room, "Then, Lord
have mercy on me! I shall never come out of it again," and died
in three days. Lord Besborough grew outrageously impatient at
not seeing her, and would have forced into her room, when she had
been dead about four days. They were obliged to tell him the
truth: never was an answer that expressed so much horror! he
said, "And how many children have I left?"not knowing how far
this calamity might have reached. Poor Lady Coventry is near
completing this black list.
You have heard, I suppose, a horrid story of another kind, of
Lord Ferrers murdering his steward in the most barbarous and
deliberate manner. He sent away all his servants but one, and,
like that heroic murderess Queen Christina, carried the poor man
through a gallery and several rooms, locking them after him, and
then bid the man kneel down, for he was determined to kill him.
The poor creature flung himself at his feet, but in vain; was
shot, and lived twelve hours. Mad as this action was from the
consequences, there was no frenzy in his behaviour; he got drunk,
and, at intervals, talked of it coolly; but did not attempt to
escape, till the colliers beset his house, and were determined to
take him alive or dead. He is now in the gaol at Leicester, and
will soon be removed to the Tower, then to Westminster Hall, and
I suppose to Tower Hill; unless, as Lord Talbot prophesied in the
House of Lords, "Not being thought mad enough to be shut up, till
he had killed somebody, he will then be thought too mad to be
executed;" but Lord Talbot was no more honoured in his vocation,
than other prophets are in their own country.
As you seem amused with my entertainments, I will tell you how I
passed yesterday. A party was made to go to the Magdalen-house.
We met at Northumberland-house at five, and set off in four
coaches. Prince Edward, Colonel Brudenel his groom, Lady
Northumberland, Lady Mary Coke, Lady Carlisle, Miss Pelham, Lady
Hertford, Lord Beauchamp, Lord Huntingdon. old Bowman, and I.
This new convent is beyond Goodman's-fields, and I assure you
would content any Catholic alive. We were received by--oh!
first, a vast mob, for princes are not so common at that end of
the town as at this. Lord Hertford, at the head of the governors
with their white staves, met us at the door, and led the Prince
directly into the chapel, where, before the altar, was an
arm-chair for him, with a blue damask cushion, a prie-Dieu, and a
footstool of black cloth with gold nails. We set on forms near
him. There were Lord and Lady Dartmouth in the odour of
devotion, and many city ladies. The chapel is small and low, but
neat, hung with Gothic paper, and tablets of benefactions. At
the west end were enclosed the sisterhood, above an hundred and
thirty, all in grayish brown stuffs, broad handkerchiefs, and
flat straw hats, with a blue riband, pulled quite over their
faces. As soon as we entered the chapel, the organ played, and
the Magdalens sung a hymn in parts; you cannot imagine how well,
The chapel was dressed with orange and myrtle, and there wanted
nothing but a little incense to drive away the devil-or to invite
him. Prayers then began, psalms, and a sermon: the latter by a
young clergyman, one Dodd,(22) who contributed to the Popish idea
one had imbibed, by haranguing entirely in the French style, and
very eloquently and touchingly. He apostrophized the lost sheep,
who sobbed and cried from their souls; so did my Lady Hertford
and Fanny Pelham, till I believe the city dames took them both
for Jane Shores. The confessor then turned to the audience, and
addressed himself to his Royal Highness, whom he called most
illustrious Prince, beseeching his protection. In short, it was
a very pleasing performance, and I got the most illustrious to
desire it might be printed. We had another hymn, and then were
conducted to the parloir, where the governors kissed the Prince's
hand, and then the lady abbess, or matron, brought us tea. From
thence we went to the refectory, where all the nuns, without
their hats, were ranged at long tables, ready for supper. A few
were handsome, many who seemed to have no title to their
profession, and two or three of twelve years old; but all
recovered, and looking healthy. I was struck and pleased with
the modesty of two of them, who swooned away with the confusion
of being stared at. We were then shown their work, which is
making linen, and bead-work; they earn ten pounds a-week. One
circumstance diverted me, but amidst all this decorum, I kept it
to myself. The wands of the governors are white, but twisted at
top with black and white, which put me in mind of Jacob's rods,
that he placed before the cattle to make them breed. My Lord
Hertford would never have forgiven me, if I had joked on this; so
I kept my countenance very demurely, nor even inquired, whether
among the pensioners there were any novices from Mrs. Naylor's.
The court-martial on Lord George Sackville is appointed: General
Onslow is to be Speaker of it. Adieu! till I see you; I am glad
it will be so soon.
(22) The unfortunate Dr. Dodd, who suffered at Tyburn, in June
1770, for forgery.-E.
Letter 12 To Sir David Dalrymple.(23)
Strawberry Hill, Feb. 3, 1760. (page 40)
I am much obliged to you, Sir! for the Irish poetry.(24) they
are poetry, and resemble that of the East; that is, they contain
natural images and natural sentiment elevated, before rules were
invented to make poetry difficult and dull. The transitions are
as sudden as those in Pindar, but not so libertine; for they
start into new thoughts on the subject, without wandering from
it.' I like particularly the expression of calling Echo, "Son of
the Rock." The Monody is much the best.
I (cannot say I am surprised to hear that the controversy on the
Queen of Scots is likely to continue. Did not somebody write a
defence of Nero, and yet none of his descendants remained to
pretend to the empire? If Dr. Robertson could have said more, I
am sorry it will be forced from him. He had better have said it
voluntarily. You will forgive me for thinking his subject did
not demand it. Among the very few objections to his charming
work, one was, that he seemed to excuse that Queen more than was
allowable, from the very papers he has printed in his Appendix;
and some have thought, that though he could not disculpate her,
he has diverted indignation from her, by his art in raising up
pity for her and resentment against her persecutress, and by much
overloading the demerits of Lord Darnley. For my part, Dr.
Mackenzie, or any body else, may write what they please against
me: I meaned to speak my mind, not to write controversy-trash
seldom read but by the two opponents who write it. Yet were I
inclined to reply, like Dr. Robertson, I could say a little more.
You have mentioned, Sir, Mr. Dyer's Fleece. I own I think it a
very insipid poem.(25) His Ruins of Rome had great picturesque
spirit, and his Grongar Hill was beautiful. His Fleece I could
never get through; and from thence I suppose never heard of Dr.
Your idea of a collection of ballads for the cause of liberty is
very public-spirited. I wish, Sir, I could say I thought it
would answer your view. Liberty, like other good and bad
principles, can never be taught the people but when it is taught
them by faction. The mob will never sing lilibullero but in
opposition to some other mob. However, if you pursue the
thought, there is an entire treasure of that kind in the library
of Maudlin College, Cambridge. It was collected by Pepys,
secretary of the admiralty, and dates from the battle of
Agincourt. Give me leave to say, Sir, that it is very
comfortable to me to find gentlemen of your virtue and parts
attentive to what is so little the object of public attention
now. The extinction of faction, that happiness to which we owe
so much of our glory and success, may not be without some
inconveniences. A free nation, perhaps, especially when arms are
become so essential to our existence as a free people, may want a
little opposition: as it is a check that has preserved us so
long, one cannot wholly think it dangerous; and though I would
not be one to tap new resistance to a government with which I
have no fault to find, yet it may not be unlucky hereafter, if
those who do not wish so well to it, would a little show
themselves. They are not strong enough to hurt; they may be of
service by keeping ministers in awe. But all this is
speculation, and flowed from the ideas excited in me by your
letter, that is full of benevolence both to public and private.
Adieu! Sir; believe that nobody has more esteem for you than is
raised by each letter.
(23) Now first collected.
(24) "Fragments of Ancient Poetry, collected in the Highlands of
Scotland, and translated from the Gaelic, or Erse Language," the
production of James Macpherson; the first presentation to the
world of that literary novelty, which was afterwards to excite so
much discussion and dissension in the literary world.-E.
(25) Dr. Johnson was pretty much of Walpole's opinion. "Of The
Fleece," he says, "which never became popular, and is now
universally neglected, I can say little that is likely to call it
to attention. The woolcomber and the poet appear to me such
discordant natures, that an attempt to bring them together is to
couple the serpent with the fowl."-E.
Letter 13 To Sir Horace Mann.
Strawberry Hill, Feb. 3, 1760 (page 41)
herculaneum is arrived; Caserta(26) is arrived: what magnificence
You Send me! My dear Sir, I can but thank you, and thank you--
oh! yes, I can do more; greedy creature, I can put you in mind,
that you must take care to send me the subsequent volumes of
Herculaneum as they appear, if ever they do appear, which I
suppose is doubtful now that King Carlos(27) is gone to Spain.
One thing pray observe, that I don't beg these scarce books of
you, as a bribe to spur me on to obtain for you your
extra-extraordinaries. Mr. Chute and I admire Caserta; and he at
least is no villanous judge of architecture; some of our English
travellers abuse it; but there are far from striking faults: the
general idea seems borrowed from Inigo Jones's Whitehall, though
without the glaring uglinesses, which I believe have been lent to
Inigo; those plans, I think, were supplied by Lord Burlington,
Kent, and others, to very imperfect sketches of the author. Is
Caserta finished and furnished? Were not the treasures of
Herculaneum to be deposited there?
I am in the vein of drawing upon your benevolence, and shall
proceed. Young Mr. Pitt,(28) nephew of the Pitt, is setting out
for Lisbon with Lord Kinnoul, and will proceed through Granada to
Italy, with his friend Lord Strathmore;(29) not the son, I
believe, of that poor mad Lady Strathmore(30) whom you remember
at Florence. The latter is much commended; I don't know him: Mr.
Pitt is not only a most ingenious Young man, but a most amiable
one: he has already acted in the most noble style-I don't mean
that he took a quarter of Quebec, or invaded a bit of France, or
has spoken in the House of Commons better than DemostheneS'S
nephew: but he has an odious father, and has insisted on glorious
cuttings off of entails on himself, that his father's debts might
be paid and his sisters provided for. My own lawyer,(31) who
knew nothing of my being acquainted with him, spoke to me of him
in raptures--no small merit in a lawyer to comprehend virtue in
cutting off an entail when it was not to cheat; but indeed this
lawyer was recommended to me by your dear brother --no wonder he
is honest. You will now conceive that a letter I have given Mr.
Pitt is not a mere matter of form, but an earnest suit to you to
know one you will like so much. I should indeed have given it
him, were it only to furnish you with an opportunity of
ingratiating yourself with Mr. Pitt's nephew: but I address him
to your heart. Well! but I have heard of another honest lawyer!
The famous Polly, Duchess of Bolton,(32) is dead, having, after a
life of merit, relapsed into her Pollyhood. Two years ago, at
Tunbridge, she picked up an Irish surgeon. When she was dying,
this fellow sent for a lawyer to make her will, but the man,
finding who was to be her heir, instead of her children, refused
to draw it. The Court of Chancery did furnish one other, not
quite so scrupulous, and her three sons have but a thousand
pounds apiece; the surgeon about nine thousand.
I think there is some glimmering of peace! God send the world
some repose from its woes! The King of Prussia has writ to
Belleisle to desire the King of France will make peace for him:
no injudicious step, as the distress of France will make them
glad to oblige him. We have no other news, but that Lord George
Sackville has at last obtained a court-martial. I doubt much
whether he will find his account in it. One thing I know I
dislike-a German aide-de-camp is to be an evidence! Lord George
has paid the highest compliment to Mr. Conway's virtue. Being
told, as an unlucky circumstance for him, that Mr. Conway was to
be one of his judges, (but It is not so,) he replied, there was
no man in England he should so soon desire of that number. And
it is no mere compliment, for Lord George has excepted against
another of them--but he knew whatever provocation he may have
given to Mr. Conway, whatever rivalship there has been between
them, nothing could bias the integrity of the latter. There is
going to be another court-martial on a mad Lord Charles Hay,(33)
who has foolishly demanded it; but it will not occupy the
attention of the world like Lord George's. There will soon be
another trial of another sort on another madman, an Earl Ferrers,
who has murdered his steward. He was separated by Parliament
from his wife, a very pretty woman, whom he married with no
fortune, for the most groundless barbarity, and now killed his
steward for having been evidence for her; but his story and
person are too wretched and despicable to give you the detail.
He will be dignified by a solemn trial in Westminster-hall.
Don't you like the impertinence of the Dutch? They have lately
had a mudquake, and giving themselves terrafirma airs, call it an
earthquake! Don't you like much more our noble national charity?
Above two thousand pounds has been raised in London alone,
besides what is collected in the country, for the French
prisoners, abandoned by their monarch. Must not it make the
Romans blush in their Appian-way, who dragged their prisoners in
triumph? What adds to this benevolence is, that we cannot
contribute to the subsistence of our own prisoners in France;
they conceal where they keep them, and use them cruelly to make
them enlist. We abound in great charities: the distress of war
seems to heighten rather than diminish them. There is a new one,
not quite so certain of its answering, erected for those wretched
women, called abroad les filles repenties. I was there the other
night, and fancied myself in a convent.
The Marquis of Buckingham and Earl Temple are to have the two
vacant garters to-morrow. Adieu!
Arlington Street, 6th.
I am this minute come to town, and find yours of Jan. 12. Pray,
my dear child, don't compliment me any more upon my learning;
there is nobody so superficial. Except a little history, a
little poetry, a little painting, and some divinity, I know
nothing. How should I? I, who have always lived in the big busy
world; who lie abed all the morning, calling it morning as long
as you please; who sup in company; who have played at pharaoh
half my life, and now at loo till two and three in the morning;
who have always loved pleasure haunted auctions--in short, who
don't know so much astronomy as would carry me to Knightsbridge,
nor more physic than a physician, nor in short any thing that is
called science. If it were not that I lay up a little provision
in summer, like the ant, I should be as ignorant as all the
people I live with. How I have LAUGHED when some of the
magazines have called me the learned gentleman! Pray don't be
like THE Magazines.
I see by your letter that you despair of peace; I almost do:
there is but a gruff sort of answer from the woman of' Russia
to-day in the papers; but how should there be peace? If We are
victorious, what is the King of Prussia? Will the distress of
France move the Queen of Hungary? When we do make peace, how few
will it content! The war was made for America, but the peace
will be made for Germany; and whatever geographers may pretend,
Crown-point lies somewhere in Westphalia. Again adieu! I don't
like your rheumatism, and much less your plague.
(26) Prints of the palace of Caserta.
(27) Don Carlos, King of Naples, who succeeded his half-brother
Ferdinand in the crown of Spain. An interesting picture of the
court of the King of the Two Sicilies at the time of his leaving
Naples, will be found in the Chatham Correspondence, in a letter
from Mr. Stanier Porten to Mr. Pitt. See vol. ii. p. 31.-E.
(28) Thomas, only son of Thomas Pitt of boconnock, eldest brother
of the famous William Pitt. [Afterwards Lord Camelford. (Gray,
in a letter to Dr. Wharton, of the 23d of January, says, "Mr.
Pitt (not the great, but the little one, my acquaintance) is
setting out on his travels. He goes with my Lord Kinnoul to
Lisbon; then (by sea still) to Cates; then up the Guadalquiver to
Seville and Cordova, and so perhaps to Toledo, but certainly to
Grenada; and, after breathing the perfumed air of Andalusia, and
contemplating the remains of Moorish magnificence, re-embarks at
Gibraltar or Malaga, and sails to Genoa. Sure an extraordinary
good way of passing a few winter months, and better than dragging
through Holland, Germany, and Switzerland, to the same place." A
copy of Mr. Thomas Pitt's manuscript Diary of his tour to Spain
and Portugal is in the possession of Mr. Bentley, the proprietor
of this Correspondence.-E.]
(29) John Lyon, ninth Earl of Strathmore. He married in 1767
Miss Bowes, the great heiress, whose disgraceful adventures are
so well known.-D.
(30) Lady Strathmore, rushing between her husband and a
gentleman, with whom he had quarrelled and was fighting, and
trying to hold the former, the other stabbed him in her -arms, on
which she went mad, though not enough to be confined.
(31) His name was Dagge.
(32) Miss Fenton, the first Polly of the Beggar's Opera. Charles
Duke of Bolton took her off the stage, had children by her, and
afterwards married her.
(33) Lord Charles Hay, brother of the Marquis of Tweedale.
Letter 14 To The Rev. Henry Zouch.
Strawberry Hill, February 4th, 1760. (page 44)
I deferred answering your last, as I was in hopes of BEING able
to send you a SHEET or two of my new work, but I find so many
difficulties and so much darkness attending the beginning, that I
can scarce say I have begun. I can only say in general, that I
do not propose to go further back than I have sure footing; that
is, I shall commence with what Vertue had collected from our
records, which, with regard to painting, do not date before Henry
III.; and then from him there is a gap to Henry VII. I shall
supply that with a little chronology of intervening paintings,
THOUGH, hitherto, I can find none of the two first Edwards. From
Henry VIII. there will be a regular succession of painters, short
lives of whom I am enabled by Vertue's MSS. to write, and I shall
connect them historically. I by no means Mean to touch on
foreign Artists, unless they came over hither; but they are
essential, for we had scarce any others tolerable. I propose to
begin with the anecdotes of painting only, because, in that
branch, my materials are by far most considerable. If I shall be
able to publish this part, perhaps it may induce persons of
curiosity and knowledge to assist me in the darker parts of the
story touching our architects, statuaries, and engravers. But it
is from the same kind friendship which has assisted me so
liberally already, that I expect to draw most information; need I
specify, Sir, that I mean yours, when the various hints in your
last letter speak so plainly for me?
It is a pleasure to have any body one esteems agree with one's
own sentiments, as you do strongly with mine about Mr. Hurd.(34)
It is impossible not to own that he has sense and great
knowledge--but sure he is a most disagreeable writer! He loads
his thoughts with so many words, and those couched in so hard a
style, and so void of all veracity, that I have no patience to
read him. In one point. in the dialogues you mention, he is
perfectly ridiculous. He takes infinite pains to make the world
believe, upon his word, that they are the genuine productions of
the speakers, and yet does not give himself the least trouble to
counterfeit the style of any one of them. What was so easy as to
imitate Burnet? In his other work, the notes on Horace, he is
still more absurd. He cries up Warburton's preposterous notes on
Shakspeare, which would have died of their own folly, though Mr.
Edwards had not put them to death with the keenest wit in the
world.(35) But what signifies any sense, when it takes Warburton
for a pattern, who, with much greater parts, has not been able to
save himself from, or rather has affectedly involved himself in
numberless absurdities?--who proved Moses's legation by the sixth
book of Virgil;--a miracle (Julian's Earthquake), by proving it
was none;--and who explained a recent poet (Pope) by metaphysical
notes, ten times more obscure than the text! As if writing were
come to perfection, Warburton and Hurd are going back again; and
since commentators, obscurity, paradoxes, and visions have been
so long exploded, ay, and pedantry too, they seem to think that
they shall have merit by reviving what was happily forgotten -,
and yet these men have their followers, by that balance which
compensates to one for what he misses from another. When an
author writes clearly, he is imitated; and when obscurely, he is
(34) Who died Bishop of Worcester in 1808. He was the author of
many works, most of which are now little read, although they had
a great vogue in their day. There is a great deal of justice in
Mr. Walpole's criticism of him and his patron.-C.
(35) In the "Canons of Criticism."--E.
Letter 15 To Sir Horace Mann.
Arlington Street, Feb. 28, 1760. (page 45)
The next time you see Marshal Botta, and are to act King of Great
Britain, France, and Ireland, you must abate about an hundredth
thousandth part of the dignity of your crown. You are no more
monarch of all Ireland, than King O'Neil, or King Macdermoch is.
Louis XV. is sovereign of France, Navarre, and Carrickfergus.
You will be mistaken if you think the peace is made, and that we
cede this Hibernian town, in order to recover Minorca, or to keep
Quebec and Louisbourg. To be sure, it is natural you should
think so: how should so victorious and heroic nation cease to
enjoy any of its possessions, but to save Christian blood? Oh! I
know, you will suppose there has been another insurrection, and
that it is King John(36) of Bedford, and not King George of
Brunswick, that has lost this town. Why, I own you are a great
politician, and see things in a moment-and no wonder, considering
how long you have been employed in negotiations; but for once all
your sagacity is mistaken. Indeed, considering the total
destruction of the maritime force of France, and that the great
mechanics and mathematicians of this age have not invented a
flying bridge to fling over the sea and land from the coast of
France to the north of Ireland, it was not easy to conceive how
the French should conquer Carrickfergus--and yet they have. But
how I run on! not reflecting that by this time the old Pretender
must have hobbled through Florence on his way to Ireland, to take
possession of this scrap of his recovered domains; but I may as
well tell you at once, for to be sure you and the loyal body of
English in Tuscany will slip over all this exordium to come to
the account of so extraordinary a revolution. Well, here it is.
Last week Monsieur Thurot--oh! now you are au fait!--Monsieur
Thurot, as I was saying, landed last week in the isle of Islay,
the capital province belonging to a great Scotch King,(37) who is
so good as generally to pass the winter with his friends here in
London. Monsieur Thurot had three ships, the crews of which
burnt two ships belonging to King George, and a house belonging
to his friend the King of Argyll--pray don't mistake; by his
friend(38) I mein King George's, not Thurot's friend. When they
had finished this campaign, they sailed to Carrickfergus, a
poorish town, situated in the heart of the Protestant cantons.
They immediately made a moderate demand of about twenty articles
of provisions, promising to pay for them; for you know it is the
way of modern invasions(39) to make them cost as much as possible
to oneself, and as little to those one invades. If this was not
complied with, they threatened to burn the town, and then march
to Belfast, which is much richer. We were sensible of this civil
proceedings and not to be behindhand, agreed to it; but somehow
or other this capitulation was broken; on which a detachment (the
whole invasion consists of one thousand men) attack the place.
We shut the gates, but after the battle of Quebec it is
impossible that so great a people should attend to such trifles
as locks and bolts, accordingly there were none--and as if there
were no gates neither, the two armies fired through them--if this
is a blunder, remember I am describing an Irish war. I forgot to
give you the numbers of the Irish army. It consisted but Of
seventy-two, under lieut.-colonel Jennings, a wonderful brave
man--too brave, in short, to be very judicious. Unluckily our
ammunition was soon spent, for it is not above a year that there
have been any apprehensions for Ireland, and as all that part of
the country are most protestantly loyal, it was not thought
necessary to arm people who would fight till they die for their
religion. When the artillery was silenced, the garrison thought
the best way of saving the town was by flinging it at the heads
of the besiegers; accordingly they poured volleys of brickbats at
the French, whose commander, Monsieur Flobert, was mortally
knocked down, and his troops began to give way. However, General
Jennings thought it most prudent to retreat to the castle, and
the French again advanced. Four or five raw recruits still
bravely kept the gates, when the garrison, finding no more
gunpowder in the castle than they had had in the town, and not
near so good a brick-kiln, sent to desire to surrender. General
Thurot accordingly made them prisoners of war, and plundered the
END OF THE SIEGE OF CARRICKFERGUS.
You will perhaps ask what preparations have been made to recover
this loss. The, viceroy immediately despatched General
Fitzwilliam with four regiments of foot and three of horse
against the invaders, appointing to overtake them in person at
Newry; but -@is I believe he left Bladen's Caesar, and Bland's
Military Discipline behind him in England, which he used to study
in the camp at Blandford, I fear he will not have his campaign
equipage ready soon enough. My Lord Anson too has sent nine
ships, though indeed he does not think they will arrive time
enough. Your part, my dear Sir, will be very easy: you will only
have to say that it is nothing, while it lasts; and the moment it
is over, you must say it was an embarkation of ten thousand men.
I will punctually let you know how to vary your dialect. Mr.
Pitt is in bed very ill with the gout.
Lord George Sackville was put under arrest to-day. His trial
comes on to-morrow, but I believe will be postponed, as the
court-martial will consult the judges, whether a man who is not
in the army, may be tried as an officer. The judges will answer
yes, for how can a point that is not common sense, not be common
Lord Ferrers is in the Tower; so you see the good-natured people
of England will not want their favourite amusement, executions-
-not to mention, that it will be very hard if the Irish war don't
furnish some little diversion.
My Lord Northampton frequently asks me about you. Oh! I had
forgot, there is a dreadful Mr. Dering come over, who to show
that he has not been spoiled by his travels, got drunk the first
day he appeared, and put me horridly out of countenance about my
correspondence with you--for mercy's sake take care how you
communicate my letters to such cubs. I will send you no more
invasions, if you read them to bears and bear-leaders.
Seriously, my dear child, I don't mean to reprove you; I know
your partiality to me, and your unbounded benignity to every
thing English; but I sweat sometimes, when I find that I have
been corresponding for two or three months with young Derings.
For clerks and postmasters, I can't help it, and besides, they
never tell one they have seen One's letters; but I beg you will
at most tell them my news, but without my name, or my words.
Adieu! If I bridle you, believe that I know that it is only your
heart that runs away with you.
(36) John Duke of Bedford, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
(37) Archibald Earl of Islay and Duke of Argyle.
(38) The Duke of argyle had been suspected of temporizing in the
(39) Alluding to our expensive invasions on the coast of France.
Letter 16 To Sir Horace Mann.
Arlington Street, March 4, 1760. (page 48)
never was any romance of such short duration as Monsieur
Thurot's! Instead of the waiting for the viceroy's army, and
staying to see whether it had any ammunition, or was only armed
with brickbats `a la Carrickfergienne, he re-embarked on the
28th, taking along with him the mayor and three others--I
suppose, as proofs of his conquest. The Duke of Bedford had sent
notice of' the invasion to Kinsale, where lay three or four of
our best frigates. They instantly sailed, and came up with the
flying invaders in the Irish Channel. You will see the short
detail of the action in the Gazette; but, as the letter was
written by Captain Elliot himself, you will not see there, that
he with half the number of Thurot's crew, boarded the latter's
vessel. Thurot was killed, and his pigmy navy all taken and
carried into the Isle of Man. It is an entertaining episode; but
think what would have happened, if the whole of the plan had
taken place -it the destined time. The negligence of the Duke of
Bedford's administration has appeared so gross, that one may
believe his very kingdom would have been lost, if Conflans had
not been beat. You will see, by the deposition of Ensign hall,
published in all our papers, that the account of the siege of
Carrickfergus, which I sent you in my last, was not half so
ridiculous as the reality--because, as that deponent said, I was
furnished with no papers but my memory. The General Flobert, I
am told, you may remember at Florence; he was then very mad, and
was to have fought Mallet.--but was banished from Tuscany. Some
years since he was in England; and met Mallet at lord
Chesterfield's, but without acknowledging one another. The next
day Flobert asked the Earl if Mallet had mentioned him?--No-"Il a
donc," said Flobert, "beaucoup de retenue, car surement ce qu'il
pourroit dire de moi, ne seroit pas `a mon avantage."--it was
pretty, and they say he is now grown an agreeable and rational
The judges have given their opinion that the court-martial on
lord George Sackville is legal; so I suppose it will proceed on
I receive yours of the 16th of last month: I wish you had given
me any account of your headaches that I could show to Ward. He
will no more comprehend nervous, than the physicians do who use
the word. Send me an exact description; if he can do you no
good, at least it will be a satisfaction to me to have consulted
him. I wish, my dear child, that what you say at the end of your
letter, of appointments and honours, was not as chronical as your
headaches-that is a thing you may long complain of-indeed there I
can consult nobody. I have no dealings with either our
state-doctors or statequacks. I only know that the political
ones are so like the medicinal ones, that after the doctors had
talked nonsense for years, while we daily grew worse, the quacks
ventured boldly, and have done us wonderful good. I should not
dislike to have you state your case to the latter, though I
cannot advise it, for the regular physicians are daintily
jealous; nor could I carry it, for when they know I would take
none of their medicines myself, they would not much attend to me
consulting them for others, nor would it be decent, nor should I
care to be seen in their shop. Adieu!
P. S. There are some big news from the East Indies. I don't know
what, except that the hero Clive has taken Mazulipatam and the
Great Mogul's grandmother. I suppose she will be brought over
and put in the Tower with the Shahgoest, the strange Indian beast
that Mr. Pitt gave to the King this winter.
.Letter 17 To Sir Horace Mann.
Arlington Street, March 26, 1760. (page 49)
I have a good mind to have Mr. Sisson tried by a court-martial,
in order to clear my own character for punctuality. It is time
immemorial since he promised me the machine and the drawing in
six weeks. After above half of time immemorial was elapsed, he
came and begged for ten guineas. Your brother and I called one
another to a council of war, and at last gave it him nemine
contradicente. The moment your hurrying letter arrived, I issued
out a warrant and took Sisson up, who, after all his promises,
was guilty by his own confession, of not having begun the
drawing. However, after scolding him black and blue, I have got
it from him, have consigned it to your brother James, and you
will receive it, I trust, along With this. I hope too time
enough for the purposes it is to serve, and correct; if it is
not, I shall be very sorry. You shall have the machine as soon
as possible, but that must go by sea.
I shall execute your commission about Stoschino(40) much better;
he need not fear my receiving him well, if he has virt`u to
sell,--I am only afraid, in that case, of receiving him too well.
You know what a dupe I am when I like any thing.
I shall handle your brother James as roughly as I did Sisson--six
months without writing to you! Sure he must turn black in the
face, if he has a drop of brotherly ink in his veins. As to your
other brother,(41) he is so strange a man, that is, so common a
one;, that I am not surprised at any thing he does or does not
Bless your stars that you are not here, to be worn out with the
details of lord George's court-martial! One hears of nothing
else. It has already lasted much longer than could be conceived,
and now the end of it is still at a tolerable distance. The
colour of it is more favourable for him than it looked at first.
Prince Ferdinand's narrative has proved to set out with a heap of
lies. There is an old gentleman(42) of the same family who has
spared no indecency to give weight to them--but, you know,
general officers are men of strict honour, and nothing can bias
them. Lord Charles Hay's court-martial is dissolved, by the
death of one of the members--and as no German interest is
concerned to ruin him, it probably will not be re-assumed. Lord
Ferrers's trial is fixed for the 16th of next month. Adieu!
P. S. Don't mention it from me, but if you have a mind you may
make your court to my Lady Orford, by announcing the ancient
barony of Clinton, which is fallen to her, by the death of the
(40) Nephew of Baron Stosch, a well-known virtuoso and antiquary,
who died at Florence.
(41) Edward Louisa Mann, the eldest brother.
(42) George the Second.
(43) Mrs. Fortescue, sister of Hugh last Lord Clinton.
Letter 18 To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, March 27, 1760. (page 50)
I should have thought that you might have learnt by this time,
that when a tradesman promises any thing on Monday, Or Saturday,
or any particular day of the week, he means any Monday or any
Saturday of any week, as nurses quiet children and their own
consciences by the refined salvo of to-morrow is a new day. When
Mr. Smith's Saturday and the frame do arrive, I will pay the one
and send you the other.
Lord George's trial is not near being finished. By its draggling
beyond the term of the old Mutiny-bill, they were forced to make
out a new warrant: this lost two days, as all the depositions
were forced to be read over again to, and resworn by, the
witnesses; then there will be a contest, whether Sloper(44) shall
re-establish his own credit by pawning it farther. Lord Ferrers
comes on the stage on the sixteenth of next month.
I breakfasted the day before yesterday at Elia laelia
Chudleigh's. There was a concert for Prince Edward's birthday,
and at three, a vast cold collation, and all the town. The house
is not fine, nor in good taste, but loaded with finery.
Execrable varnished pictures, chests, cabinets, commodes, tables,
stands, boxes, riding on One another's backs, and loaded with
terrenes, filigree, figures, and every thing upon earth. Every
favour she has bestowed is registered by a bit of Dresden china.
There is a glass-case full of enamels, eggs, ambers, lapis
lazuli, cameos, toothpick-cases, and all kinds of trinkets,
things that she told me were her playthings; another cupboard,
full of the finest japan, and candlesticks and vases of rock
crystal, ready to be thrown down, in every corner. But of all
curiosities, are the conveniences in every bedchamber: great
mahogany projections, with brass handles, cocks, etc. I could
not help saying, it was the loosest family I ever saw. Adieu!
(44) Lieutenant-colonel Sloper, of Bland's dragoons.
Letter 19 To Sir. David Dalrymple.(45)
Strawberry Hill, April 4, 1760. (page 51)
As I have very little at present to trouble you with myself, I
should have deferred writing, till a better opportunity, if it
were not to satisfy the curiosity of a friend; a friend whom you,
Sir, will be glad to have made curious, as you originally pointed
him out as a likely person to be charmed with the old Irish
poetry you sent me. It is Mr. Gray, who is an enthusiast about
those poems, and begs me to put the following queries to you;
which I will do in his own words, and I may say truly, Poeta
"I am so charmed with the two specimens of Erse poetry, that I
cannot help giving you the trouble to inquire a little farther
about them, and should wish to see a few lines of the original,
that I may form some slight idea of the language, the measure,
and the rhythm.
"Is there any thing known of the author or authors, and of what
antiquity are they supposed to be?
"Is there any more to be had of equal beauty, or at all
approaching to it?
"I have been often told, that the poem called Hardykanute (which
I always admired and still admire) was the work of somebody that
lived a few years ago.(46) This I do not at all believe, though
it has evidently been retouched in places by some modern hand;
but, however, I am authorized by this report to ask, whether the
two poems in question are certainly antique and genuine. I make
this inquiry in quality of an antiquary, and am not otherwise
concerned about it; for if I were sure that any one now living in
Scotland had written them, to divert himself and laugh at the
credulity of the world, I would undertake a journey into the
Highlands only for the pleasure of seeing him."
You see, Sir, how easily you may make our greatest southern bard
travel northward to visit a brother. young translator had
nothing to do but to own a forgery, and Mr. Gray is ready to pack
up his lyre, saddle Pegasus, and set out directly. But
seriously, he,' Mr. Mason, my Lord Lyttelton, and one or two
more, whose taste the world allows, are in love with your Erse
elegies - I cannot say in general they are so much admired--but
Mr. Gray alone is worth satisfying.
The "Siege of Aquileia," of which you ask, pleased less than Mr.
Home's other plays.(47) In my own opinion, Douglas far exceeds
both the other. Mr. Home seems to have a beautiful talent for
painting genuine nature and the manners of his country. There
was so little nature in the manners of both Greeks and Romans,
that I do not wonder at his success being less brilliant when he
tried those subjects; and, to say the truth, one is a little
weary of them. At present, nothing is talked of, nothing
admired, but what I cannot help calling a very insipid and
tedious performance: it is a kind Of novel, called "The Life and
Opinions of Tristram Shandy;" the great humour of which consists
in the whole narration always going backwards. I cannot conceive
a man saying that it would be droll to write a book in that
manner, but have no notion of his persevering in executing it.
It makes one smile two or three times at the beginnings but in
recompense makes one yawn for two hours. The characters are
tolerably kept up, but the humour is for ever attempted and
missed. The best thing in it is a Sermon, oddly coupled with a
good deal of bawdy, and both the composition of a clergyman. The
man's head, indeed, was a little turned before, now topsy-turvy
with his success and fame.(48) Dodsley has given him six hundred
and fifty pounds for the second edition and two more volumes
(which I suppose will reach backwards to his
great-great-grandfather); Lord Falconberg, a donative of one
hundred and sixty pounds a-year; and Bishop Warburton gave him a
purse of gold and this compliment (which happened to be a
contradiction), "that it was quite an original composition, and
in the true Cervantic vein:" the only copy that ever was an
original, except in painting, where they all pretend to be so.
Warburton, however, not content with this, recommended the book
to the bench of bishops, and told them Mr. Sterne, the author,
was the English Rabelais. They had never heard of such a writer.
(45) Now first collected.
(46) It was written by Mrs. Halket of Wardlaw. Mr. Lockhart
stated, that on the blank leaf of his copy of Allan Ramsay's
"Evergreen," Sir Walter Scott has written "Hardyknute was the
first poem that I ever learnt, the last that I shall forget."-E.
(47) It came out at Drury-Lane, but met with small success.-E.
(48) Gray, in a letter to Wharton, of the 22d of April, says,
"Tristram Shandy is an object of admiration, the man as well as
the book. One is invited to dinner, where he dines, a fortnight
beforehand. His portrait is done by Reynolds, and now
engraving." He adds, in another letter, "There is much good fun
in Tristram, and humour sometimes hit and sometimes missed. Have
you read his Sermons (with his own comic figure at the head of
them)? They are in the style, I think, most proper for the
pulpit, and show a very strong imagination and a sensible heart:
but you see him often tottering on the verge of laughter, and
ready to throw his periwig in the face of his audience."-E.
Letter 20 To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, April 19, 1760. (page 52)
Well, this big week is over! Lord George's sentence, after all
the communications of how terrible it was, is ended in
proclaiming him unfit for the King's service. Very moderate, in
comparison of what was intended and desired, and truly not very
severe, considering what was proved. The other trial, Lord
Ferrers's, lasted three days. You have seen the pomp and
awfulness of such doings, so I will not describe it to you. The
judge and criminal were far inferior to those you have seen. For
the Lord High Steward(49) he neither had any dignity nor affected
any; nay, he held it all so cheap, that he said at his own table
t'other day, "I will not send for Garrick and learn to act a
part." At first I thought Lord Ferrers shocked, but in general
he behaved rationally and coolly; though it was a strange
contradiction to see a man trying by his own sense, to prove
himself out of his senses. It was more shocking to see his two
brothers brought to prove the lunacy in their own blood; in order
to save their brother's life. Both are almost as ill-looking men
as the Earl; one of them is a clergyman, suspended by the Bishop
of London for being a Methodist; the other a wild vagabond, whom
they call in the country, ragged and dangerous. After Lord
Ferrers was condemned, he made an excuse for pleading madness, to
which he said he was forced by his family. He is respited till
Monday-fortnight, and will then be hanged, I believe in the
Tower; and, to the mortification of the peerage, is to be
anatomized, conformably to the late act for murder. Many peers
were absent; Lord Foley and Lord Jersey attended only the first
day; and Lord Huntingdon, and my nephew Orford (in compliment to
his mother), as related to the prisoner, withdrew without voting.
But never was a criminal more literally tried by his peers, for
the three persons, who interested themselves most in the
examination, were at least as mad as he; Lord Ravensworth, Lord
Talbot, and Lord Fortescue. Indeed, the first was almost
frantic. The seats of the peeresses were not near full, and most
of the beauties absent; the Duchess of Hamilton and my niece
Waldegrave, you know, lie in; but, to the amazement of every
body, Lady Coventry was there; and what surprised me much more,
looked as well as ever. I sat next but one to her, and should
not have asked if she had been ill--yet they are positive she has
few weeks to live. She and Lord Bolingbroke seemed to have
different thoughts, and were acting over all the old comedy of
eyes. I sat in Lord Lincoln's gallery; you and I know the
convenience of it; I thought it no great favour to ask, and he
very obligingly sent me a ticket immediately, and ordered me to
be placed in one of the best boxes. Lady Augusta was in the same
gallery; the Duke of York and his young brothers were in the
Prince of Wales's box, who was not there, no more than the
Princess, Princess Emily, nor the Duke. It was an agreeable
humanity in my friend--the Duke of York; he would not take his
seat in the House before the trial, that he might not vote in it.
There are so many young peers, that the show was fine even in
that respect; the Duke of Richmond was the finest figure; the
Duke of Marlborough, with the best countenance in the world,
looked clumsy in his robes; he had new ones, having given away
his father's to the valet de chambre. There were others not at
all so indifferent about the antiquity of theirs; Lord
Huntingdon's, Lord Abergavenny's, and Lord Castlehaven's scarcely
hung on their backs; the former they pretend were used at the
trial of the Queen of Scots. But all these honours were a little
defaced by seeing Lord Temple, as lord privy seal, walk at the
head of the peerage. Who, at the last trials, would have
believed a prophecy, that the three first men at the next should
be Henley the lawyer, Bishop Secker, and Dick Grenville.
The day before the trial, the Duke of Bolton fought a duel at
Marylebone with Stewart who lately stood for Hampshire; the
latter was wounded in the arm, and the former fell down.(50)
(49) Robert Henley, afterwards Earl of Northington.-E.
(50) "Here has just been a duel between the Duke of Bolton and
Mr. Stewart, a candidate for the county of Hampshire at the late
election: what the quarrel was I do not know; but, they met near
Marylebone, and the Duke, in making a pass, overreached himself,
fell down, and hurt his knee. The other bid him get up, but he
could not; then he bid him ask his life, but he would not; so he
let him alone, and that's all. Mr. Stewart was slightly
wounded." Gray, vol. iii. p. 238.-E.
Letter 21 To Sir Horace Mann.
Strawberry Hill, April 20, 1760. (page 54)
The history of Lord George Sackville, which has interested us so
much and so long, is at last at an end-,gently enough,
considering who were his parties, and what has been proved. He
is declared unfit to serve the King in a military capacity-but I
think this is not the last we shall hear of Whatever were his
deficiencies in the day of battle, he has at least showed no want
of spirit, either in pushing on his trial or during it. His
judgment in both was perhaps a little more equivocal. He had a
formal message that he must abide the event whatever it should
be. He accepted that issue, and during the course of the
examination, attacked judge, prosecutor and evidence. Indeed, a
man cannot be said to want spirit, who could show so much in his
circumstances.(51) I think, without much heroism, I could sooner
have led up the cavalry to the charge, than have gone to
Whitehall to be worried as he was; nay, I should have thought
with less danger of my life. But he is a peculiar man; and I
repeat it, we have hot heard the last of him. You will find that
by serving the King he understands in a very literal sense; and
there is a young gentleman(52) who it is believed intends those
words shall not have a more extensive one.
We have had another trial this week, still more solemn, though
less interesting, and with more serious determination: I mean
that of Lord Ferrers. I have formerly described this solemnity
to you. The behaviour, character, and appearance of the
criminal, by no means corresponded to the dignity of the show.
His figure is bad and villanous, his crime shocking. He would
not plead guilty, and yet had nothing to plead; and at last to
humour his family, pleaded madness against his inclination: it
was moving to see two of his brothers brought to depose the
lunacy in their blood. After he was condemned, he excused
himself for having used that plea. He is to be hanged in a
fortnight, I believe, in the Tower, and his body to be delivered
to the surgeons, according to the tenour of the new act of
parliament for murder. His mother was to present a petition for
his life to the King to-day. There were near an hundred and
forty peers present; my Lord Keeper was lord high steward, but
was not at all too dignified a personage to sit on such a
criminal: indeed he gave himself no trouble to figure. I will
send you both trials as soon as they are published. It is
astonishing with what order these shows are conducted. Neither
within the hall nor without was there the least disturbance,(53)
though the one so full, and the whole way from Charing-cross to
the House of Lords was lined with crowds. The foreigners were
struck with the awfulness of the proceeding-it is new to their
ideas, to see such deliberate justice, and such dignity of
nobility, mixed with no respect for birth in the catastrophe, and
still more humiliated by anatomizing the criminal.
I am glad you received safe my history of Thurot: as the accounts
were authentic, they must have been useful and amusing to you. I
don't expect more invasions, but I fear our correspondence will
still have martial events to trade in, though there are such
Christian professions going about the world. I don't believe
their Pacific Majesties will waive a campaign, for which they are
all prepared, and by the issue of which they will all hope to
improve their terms.
You know we have got a new Duke of York(54) and were to have had
several new peers, but hitherto it has stopped at him and the
lord keeper. Adieu!
P. S. I must not forget to recommend to you a friend of Mr.
Chute, who will ere long be at Florence, in his way to Naples for
his health. It is Mr. Morrice, clerk of the green cloth, heir of
Sir William Morrice, and of vast wealth. I gave a letter lately
for a young gentleman whom I never saw, and consequently not
meaning to incumber you with him, I did not mention him
particularly in my familiar letters.
(51) Gray, in a letter of the 22d, gives the following account of
the result of this trial. "The old Pundles that sat on Lord
George Sackville have at last hammered out their sentence. He is
declared disobedient, and unfit for all military command. What
he will do with himself, nobody guesses. The unembarrassed
countenance, the looks of revenge, contempt, and superiority that
he bestowed on his accusers were the admiration of all, but his
usual talent and art did not appear; in short, his cause would
not support him. You may think, perhaps, he intends to go abroad
and hide his head; au contraire, all the world visits him on his
condemnation." Works, vol. iii. p. 239.-E.
(52) George Prince of Wales.
(53) "I was not present," says Gray, "but Mason was in the Duke
of Ancaster's gallery. and in the greatest danger; for the cell
underneath him (to which the prisoner retires) was on fire during
the trial, and the Duke, with the workmen, by sawing away some
timbers, and other assistance, contrived to put it out without
any alarm to the Court." Works, vol. iii. p. 240.-E.
(54) Prince Edward, second son of Frederic Prince of Wales.-D.
Letter 22 To The Rev. Henry Zouch.
Strawberry Hill, May 3, 1760. (page 55)
Indeed, Sir, you have been misinformed; I had not the least hand
in the answer to my Lord Bath's Rhapsody: it is true the
booksellers sold it as mine, and it was believed so till people
had 'read it, because my name and that of Pulteney had been apt
to answer one another, and because that war was dirtily revived
by the latter in his libel; but the deceit soon vanished; the
answer a appeared to have much more knowledge of the subject than
I have, and a good deal more temper than I should probably have
exerted, if I had thought it worth while to proceed to an answer;
but though my Lord Bath is unwilling to enter lists in which he
has suffered so much shame, I am by no means fond of entering
them; nor was there any honour to be acquired, either from the
contest or the combatant.
My history of artists proceeds very leisurely; I find the subject
dry and uninteresting, and the materials scarce worth arranging:
yet I think I shall execute my purpose, at least as far as
relates to painters. It is a work I can scribble at any time,
and on which I shall bestow little pains; things that are so soon
forgotten should not take one up too much. I had consulted Mr.
Lethinkai, who told me he had communicated to Mr. Vertue what
observations he had made. I believe they were scanty, for I find
small materials relating to architects among his manuscripts.
Letter 23 To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, May 6, 1760. (page 56)
The extraordinary history of Lord Ferrers is closed: he was
executed yesterday. Madness, that in other countries is a
disorder, is here a systematic character; it does not hinder
people from forming a plan of conduct, and from even dying
agreeably to it. You remember how the last Ratcliffe died with
the utmost propriety; so did this horrid lunatic, coolly and
sensibly. His own and his wife's relations had asserted that he
would tremble at last. No such thing; he shamed heroes. He bore
the solemnity of a pompous and tedious procession of above two
hours, from the Tower to Tyburn, with as much tranquillity as if
he was only going to his own burial, not to his own execution.
He even talked on indifferent subjects in the passage; and if the
sheriff and the chaplains had not thought that they had parts to
act, too, and had not consequently engaged him in most particular
conversation, he did not seem to think it necessary to talk on
the occasion; he went in his wedding-clothes, marking the only
remaining impression on -his mind. The ceremony he was in a
hurry to have over: he was stopped at the gallows by the vast
crowd, but got out of his coach as soon as he could, and was but
seven minutes on the scaffold, which was hung with black, and
prepared by the undertaker of his family at their expense. There
was a new contrivance for sinking the stage under him, which did
not play well; and he suffered a little by the delay, but was
dead in four minutes. The mob was decent, and admired him, and
almost pitied him; so they would Lord George, whose execution
they are so angry at missing. I suppose every highwayman will
now preserve the blue handkerchief he has about his neck when he
is married, that he may die like a lord. With all his madness,
he was not mad enough to be struck with his aunt Huntingdon's
sermons. The Methodists have nothing to brag of his conversion,
though Whitfield prayed for him and preached about him. Even
Tyburn has been above their reach. I have not heard that Lady
Fanny dabbled with his soul; but I believe she is prudent enough
to confine her missionary zeal to subjects where the body may be
When am I likely to see you? The delightful rain is come--we look
and smell charmingly. Adieu!
Letter 24 To Sir Horace Mann.
Strawberry Hill, May 7, 1760. (page 57)
What will your Italians say to a peer of England, an earl of one
of the best of families, tried for murdering his servant, with
the utmost dignity and solemnity, and then hanged at the common
place of execution for highwaymen, and afterwards anatomized?
This must seem a little odd to them, especially as they have not
lately had a Sixtus Quinttis. I have hitherto spoken of Lord
Ferrers to you as a mad beast, a mad assassin, a low wretch,
about whom I had no curiosity. If I now am going to give you a
minute account of him, don't think me so far part of an English
mob, as to fall in love with a criminal merely because I have had
the pleasure of his execution. I certainly did not see it, nor
should have been struck with more intrepidity--I never adored
heroes, whether in a cart or a triumphal car--but there has been
Such wonderful coolness and sense in all this man's last
behaviour, that it has made me quite inquisitive about him --not
at all pity him. I only reflect, what I have often thought, how
little connexion there is between any man's sense and his
sensibility--so much so, that instead of Lord Ferrers having any
ascendant over his passions, I am disposed to think, that his
drunkenness, which was supposed to heighten his ferocity, has
rather been a lucky circumstance-what might not a creature of
such capacity, and who stuck at nothing, have done, if his
abilities had not been drowned in brandy? I will go back a little
into his history. His misfortunes, as he called them, were dated
from his marriage, though he has been guilty of horrid excesses
unconnected with Matrimony, and is even believed to have killed a
groom -,,,he died a year after receiving a cruel beating from
him. His wife, a very pretty woman, was sister of Sir William
Meredith,(55) had no fortune, and he says, trepanned him into
marriage, having met him drunk at an assembly in the country, and
kept him so till the ceremony was over. As he always kept
himself so afterwards, one need not impute it to her. In every
other respect, and one scarce knows how to blame her for wishing
to be a countess, her behaviour was unexceptionable.(56) He had
a mistress before and two or three children, and her he took
again after the separation from his wife. He was fond of both
and used both ill: his wife so ill, always carrying pistols to
bed, and threatening to kill her before morning, beating her, and
jealous without provocation, that she got separated from him by
act of Parliament, which appointed receivers of his estate in
order to secure her allowance. This he could not bear. However,
he named his steward for one, but afterwards finding out that
this Johnson had paid her fifty pounds without his knowledge, and
suspecting him of being in the confederacy against him, he
determined, when he failed of opportunities of murdering his
wife, to kill the steward, which he effected as you have heard.
The shocking circumstances attending the murder, I did not tell
you-indeed, while he was alive, I scarce liked to speak my
opinion even to you; for though I felt nothing for him, I thought
it wrong to propagate any notions that might interfere with
mercy, if he could be then thought deserving it--and not knowing
into what hands my letter might pass before it reached yours, I
chose to be silent, though nobody could conceive greater horror
than I did for him at his trial. Having shot the steward at
three in the afternoon, he persecuted him till one in the
morning, threatening again to murder him, attempting to tear off
his bandages, and terrifying him till in that misery he was glad
to obtain leave to be removed to his own house; and when the earl
heard the poor creature was dead, he said he gloried in having
killed him. You cannot conceive the shock this evidence gave the
court-many of the lords were standing to look at him-at once they
turned from him with detestation. I had heard that on the former
affair in the House of Lords, he had behaved with great
shrewdness--no such thing appeared at his trial. It is now
pretended, that his being forced by his family against his
inclination to plead madness, prevented his exerting his parts-
-but he has not acted in any thing as if his family had influence
over him--consequently his reverting to much good sense leaves
the whole inexplicable. The very night he received sentence, he
played at picquet with the warders and would play for money, and
would have continued to play every evening, but they refuse.
Lord Cornwallis, governor of the Tower, shortened his allowance
of wine after his conviction, agreeably to the late strict acts
on murder. This he much disliked, and at last pressed his
brother the clergyman to intercede that at least he might have
more porter; for, said he, what I have is not a draught. His
brother represented against it, but at last consenting (and he
did obtain it)--then said the earl, "Now is as good a time as any
to take leave of you--adieu!" A minute journal of his whole
behaviour has been kept, to see if there was any madness in it.
Dr. Munro since the trial has made -,in affidavit of his lunacy.
The Washingtons were certainly a very frantic race, and I have no
doubt of madness in him, but not of a pardonable sort. Two
petitions from his mother and all his family were presented to
the King, who said, as the House of Lords had unanimously found
him guilty, he would not interfere. Last week my lord keeper
very good-naturedly got out of a gouty bed to present another:
the King would not hear him. "Sir," said the keeper, "I don't
come to petition for mercy or respite; but that the four thousand
pounds which Lord Ferrers has in India bonds may be permitted to
go according to his disposition of it to his mistress' children,
and the family of the murdered man." "With all my heart," said
the King, "I have no objection; but I will have no message
carried to him from me." However, this grace was notified to him
and gave him great satisfaction: but unfortunately it now appears
to be law, that it is forfeited to the sheriff of the county
where the fact was committed; though when my Lord Hardwicke was
told that he had disposed of it, he said, to be sure he may
Dr. Pearce, Bishop of Rochester,(57) offered his service to him:
he thanked the Bishop, but said, as his own brother was a
clergyman, he chose to have him. Yet he had another relation who
has been much more busy about his repentance. I don't know
whether you have ever heard that one of the singular characters
here is a Countess of Huntingdon,(58) aunt of Lord Ferrers. She
is the Saint Theresa of the Methodists. Judge how violent
bigotry must be in such mad blood! The Earl, by no means
disposed to be a convert, let her visit him, and often sent for
her, as it was more company; but he grew sick of her, and
complained that she was enough to provoke any body. She made her
suffragan, Whitfield, pray for and preach about him, and that
impertinent fellow told his enthusiasts in his sermon, that my
Lord's heart was stone. The earl wanted much to see his
mistress: my Lord Cornwallis, as simple an old woman as my Lady
Huntingdon herself, consulted her whether he should permit it.
"Oh! by no means; it would be letting him die in adultery!" In
one thing she was more sensible. He resolved not to take leave
of his children, four girls, but on the scaffold, and then to
read to them a paper he had drawn up, very bitter on the family
of Meredith, and on the House of Lords for -the first
transaction. This my Lady Huntingdon persuaded him to drop, and
he took leave of his children the day before. He wrote two
letters in the preceding week to Lord Cornwallis on some of these
requests - they were cool and rational, and concluded with
desiring him not to mind the absurd requests of his (Lord
Ferrers's) family in his behalf. On the last morning he dressed
himself in his wedding clothes, and said, he thought this, at
least, as good an occasion of putting them on as that for which
they were first made. He wore them to Tyburn. This marked the
strong impression on his mind. His mother wrote to his wife in a
weak angry Style, telling her to intercede for him as her duty,
and to swear to his madness. But this was not so easy; in all
her cause before the lords, she had persisted that he was not
Sir William Meredith, and even Lady Huntingdon had prophesied
that his courage would fail him at last, and had so much
foundation, that it is certain Lord Ferrers had often been beat:-
-but the Methodists were to get no honour by him. His courage
rose where it was most likely to fail,-an unlucky circumstance to
prophets, especially when they have had the prudence to have all
kind of probability on their side. Even an awful procession of
above two hours, with that mixture of pageantry, shame, and
ignominy, nay, and of delay, could not dismount his resolution.
He set out from the Tower at nine, amidst crowds, thousands.
First went a string of constables; then one of the sheriffs, in
his chariot and six, the horses dressed with ribands; next Lord
Ferrers, in his own landau and six, his coachman crying all the
way; guards at each side; the other sheriffs chariot followed
empty, with a mourning coach-and-six, a hearse, and the Horse
Guards. Observe, that the empty chariot was that of the other
sheriff, who was in the coach with the prisoner, and who was
Vaillant, the French bookseller in the Strand. How will you
decipher all these strange circumstances to Florentines? A
bookseller in robes and in mourning, sitting as a magistrate by
the side of the Earl; and in the evening, every -body going to
Vaillant's shop to hear the particulars. I wrote to him '. as he
serves me, for the account: but he intends to print it, and I
will send it you with some other things, and the trial. Lord
Ferrers at first talked on indifferent matters, and observing the
prodigious confluence of people, (the blind was drawn up on his
side,) he said,--"But they never saw a lord hanged, and perhaps
will never see another;" One of the dragoons was thrown by his
horse's leg entangling in the hind wheel: Lord Ferrers expressed
much concern, and said, "I hope there will be no death to-day but
mine," and was pleased when Vaillant told him the man was not
hurt. Vaillant made excuses to him on his office. "On the
contrary," said the Earl, "I am much obliged to you. I feared
the disagreeableness of the duty might make you depute your
under-sheriff. As you are so good as to execute it yourself, I
am persuaded the dreadful apparatus will be conducted with more
expedition." The chaplain of the Tower, who sat backwards, then
thought it his turn to speak, and began to talk on religion; but
Lord Ferrers received it impatiently. However, the chaplain
persevered, and said, he wished to bring his lordship to some
confession or acknowledgment of contrition for a crime so
repugnant to the laws of God and man, and wished him to endeavour
to do whatever could be done in so short a time. The Earl
replied, "He had done every thing he proposed to do with regard
to God and man; and as to discourses on religion, you and I,
Sir," said he to the clergyman, "shall probably not agree on that
subject. The passage is very short: you will not have time to
convince me, nor I to refute you; it cannot be ended before we
arrive." The clergyman still insisted, and urged, that. at
least, the world would expect some satisfaction. Lord Ferrers
replied, with some impatience, "Sir, what have I to do with the
world? I am going to pay a forfeit life, which my country has
thought proper to take from me--what do I care now what the world
thinks of me? But, Sir, since you do desire some confession, I
will confess one thing to you; I do believe there is a God. As
to modes of worship, we had better not talk on them. I always
thought Lord Bolingbroke in the wrong, to publish his notions on
religion: I will not fall into the same error." The chaplain,
seeing sensibly that it was in vain to make any more attempts,
contented himself with representing to him, that it would be
expected from one of his calling, and that even decency required,
that some prayer should be used on the scaffold, and asked his
leave, at least to repeat the Lord's Prayer there. Lord Ferrers
replied, "I always thought it a good prayer; you may use it if
While these discourses were passing, the procession was stopped
by the crowd. The Earl said he was dry, and wished for some wine
and water. The Sheriff said, he was sorry to be obliged to
refuse him. By late regulations they were enjoined not to let
prisoners drink from the place of imprisonment to that of
execution, as great indecencies had been formerly committed by
the lower species of criminals getting drunk; "And though," said
he, "my Lord, I might think myself excusable in overlooking this
order out of regard to a person of your lordship's rank, yet
there is another reason which, I am sure, will weigh with
you;-your Lordship is sensible of the greatness of the crowd; we
must draw up to some tavern; the confluence would be so great,
that it would delay the expedition which your Lordship seems so
much to desire." He replied, he was satisfied, adding, "Then I
must be content with this," and took some pigtail tobacco out of
his pocket. As they went on, a letter was thrown into his coach;
it was from his mistress, to tell him, it was impossible, from
the crowd, for her to get up to the spot where he had appointed
her to meet and take leave of him, but that she was in a
hackney-coach of such a number. He begged Vaillant to order his
officers to try to get the hackney-coach up to his, "My Lord,"
said Vaillant, you have behaved so well hitherto, that I think it
is pity to venture unmanning yourself." He was struck, and was
satisfied without seeing her. As they drew nigh, he said, "I
perceive we are almost arrived; it is time to do what little more
I have to do;" and then taking out his watch, gave it to
Vaillant, desiring him to accept it as a mark of his gratitude
for his kind behaviour, adding, "It is scarce worth Your
acceptance; but I have nothing else; it is a stop-watch, and a
pretty accurate one." He gave five guineas to the chaplain, and
took out as much for the executioner. Then giving Vaillant a
pocket-book, he begged him to deliver it to Mrs. Clifford his
mistress, with what it contained, and with his most tender
regards, saying, "The key of it is to the watch, but I am
persuaded you are too much a gentleman to open it." He destined
the remainder of the money in his purse to the same person, and
with the same tender regards.
When they came to Tyburn, his coach was detained some minutes by
the conflux of people; but as soon as the door was opened, he
stepped out readily and mounted the scaffold: it was hung with
black, by the undertaker, and at the expense of his family.
Under the gallows was a new invented stage, to be struck from
under him. He showed no kind of fear or discomposure, only just
looking at the gallows with a slight motion of dissatisfaction.
He said little, kneeled for a moment to the prayer, said, "Lord
have mercy upon me, and forgive me my errors," and immediately
mounted the upper stage. He had come pinioned with a black sash,
and was unwilling to have his hands tied, or his face covered,
but was persuaded to both. When the rope was put round his neck,
he turned pale, but recovered his countenance instantly, and was
but seven minutes from leaving the coach, to the signal given for
striking the stage. As the machine was new, they were not ready
at it: his toes touched it, and he suffered a little, having had
time, by their bungling, to raise his cap; but the executioner
pulled it down again, and they pulled his legs, so that he was
soon out of pain, and quite dead in four minutes. He desired not
to be stripped and exposed, and Vaillant promised him, though his
clothes must be taken off, that his shirt should not. This
decency ended with him: the sheriffs fell to eating and drinking
on the scaffold, ran and helped up one of their friends to drink
with them, as he was still hanging, which he did for above an
hour, and then was conveyed back with the same pomp to Surgeons'
Hall, to be dissected. The executioners fought for the rope, and
the one who lost it cried. The mob tore off the black cloth as
relics; but the universal crowd behaved with great decency and
admiration, as they well might; for sure no exit was ever made
with more sensible resolution and with less ostentation.
If I have tired you by this long narrative, you feel differently
from me. The man, the manners of the country, the justice of so
great and curious a nation, all to me seem striking, and must, I
believe, do more so to you, who have been absent long enough to
read of your own country as history.
I have run into so much paper, that I am ashamed at going on, but
having a bit left, I must say a few more words. The other
prisoner, from whom the mob had promised themselves more
entertainment, is gone into the country, having been forbid the
court, with some barbarous additions to the sentence, as you Will
see in the papers. It was notified, too, to the second
court,(59) who have had the prudence to countenance him no
longer. The third prisoner, and second madman, Lord Charles Hay,
is luckily dead, and has saved much trouble.
Have you seen the works of the philosopher of Sans Souci, or
rather of the man who is no philosopher, and who had more Souci
than any man now in Europe? How contemptible they are! Miserable
poetry; not a new thought, nor an old one newly expressed.(60) I
say nothing of the folly of publishing his aversion to the
English, at the very time they are ruining themselves for him;
nor of the greater folly of his irreligion. The epistle to Keith
is puerile and shocking. He is not so sensible as Lord Ferrers,
who did not think such sentiments ought to be published. His
Majesty could not resist the vanity of showing how disengaged he
can be even at this time.
I am going to give a letter for you to Strange, the engraver, who
is going to visit Italy. He is a very first-rate artist, and by
far our best. Pray countenance him, though you will not approve
his politics.(61) I believe Albano(62)) is his Loretto.
I shall finish this vast volume with a very good story, though
not so authentic as my sheriff's. It is said that General
Clive's father has been with Mr. Pitt, to notify, that if the
government will send his son four hundred thousand pounds, and a
certain number of ships, the heaven-born general knows of a part
of India, where such treasures are buried, that he will engage,
to send over enough. to pay the national debt. "Oh!" said the
minister, "that is too much; fifty millions would be sufficient."
Clive insisted on the hundred millions,--Pitt, that half would do
as well. "Lord, Sir!" said the old man, "consider, if your
administration lasts, the national debt will soon be two hundred
millions." Good night for a twelvemonth!
(55) Sir William Meredith, Bart. of Hanbury, in Cheshire. The
title is now extinct.-D.
(56) She afterwards married Lord Frederick Campbell, brother of
the Duke of Argyle, and was an excellent woman. (She was
unfortunately burned to death at Lord Frederick's seat, Combe
Bank, in Kent.-D.)
(57) Zachariah Pearce, translated from the see of Bangor in 1756.
He was an excellent man, and later in life, in the year 1768,
finding himself growing infirm, he presented to the world the
rare instance of disinterestedness, of wishing to relinquish all
his pieces of preferment. These consisted of the deanery of
Westminster and bishopric of Rochester. The deanery he gave up,
but was not allowed to do so by the bishopric, which was said, as
a peerage, to be inalienable.-D.
(58) Lady Selina Shirley, daughter of an Earl of Ferrers.
(Selina Shirley, second daughter and coheiress of Washington Earl
Ferrers, and widow of Theophilus Hastings, ninth Earl of
Huntingdon. She was the peculiar patroness of enthusiasts of all
sorts in religion.-D.)
(59) The Prince of Wales's.
(60) "The town are reading the King of Prussia's poetry, and I
have done like the town; they do not seem so sick of it as I am.
It is all the scum of Voltaire and Bolingbroke, the crambe
recocta of our worst freethinkers tossed up in German-French
rhyme." Gray, vol. iii. p. 241.
(61) Strange was a confirmed Jacobite.
(62) The residence of the Pretender.
Letter 25 To Sir David Dalrymple.(63)
Arlington Street, May 15, 1760. (page 63)
I am extremely sensible of your obliging kindness in sending me
for Mr. Gray the account of Erse poetry, even at a time when you
were so much out of order. That indisposition I hope is entirely
removed, and your health perfectly reestablished. Mr. Gray is
very thankful for the information.(64)
I have lately bought, intending it for Dr. Robertson, a Spanish
MS. called "Annals del Emperador Carlos V. Autor, Francisco Lopez
de Gornara." As I am utterly ignorant of the Spanish tongue, I
do not know whether there is the least merit in my purchase. It
is not very long; if you will tell me how to convey it, I will
send it to him.
We have nothing new but some Dialogues of the Dead by Lord
Lyttelton. I cannot say they are very lively or striking. The
best I think, relates to your country, and is written with a very
good design: an intention of removing all prejudices and disUnion
between the two parts of our island. I cannot tell you how the
book is liked in general, for it appears but this moment.
You have seen, to be sure, the King of Prussia's Poems. If he
intended to raise the glory of his military capacity by
depressing his literary talents, he could not, I think,. have
succeeded better. One would think a man had been accustomed to
nothing but the magnificence of vast armies, and to the tumult of
drums and trumpets. who is incapable of seeing that God is as
great in the most minute parts of creation as in the most
enormous. His Majesty does not seem to admire a mite, unless it
is magnified by a Brobdignag microscope! While he is struggling
with the force of three empires, he fancies that it adds to his
glory to be unbent enough to contend for laurels with the
triflers of a French Parnassus! Adieu! Sir.
(63) Now first collected.
(64) The following is Gray's description of these poems, in a
letter to Wharton.--"I am gone mad about them. They are said to
be translations (literal and in prose) from the Erse tongue, done
by one Macpherson, a young clergyman in the Highlands. He means
to publish a collection he has of these specimens of antiquity;
but what plagues me is, I cannot come at any certainty on that
head. I was so struck, so extasi`e, with their infinite beauty,
that I writ into Scotland to make a thousand inquiries. The
letters I have in return are ill-wrote, ill-reasoned,
unsatisfactory, calculated (one would imagine) to deceive one,
and yet not cunning enough to do it cleverly: in short, the whole
external evidence would make one believe these fragments (for so
he calls them, though nothing can be more entire) counterfeit;
but the internal is so strong on the other side, that I am
resolved to believe them genuine, spite of the devil and the
kirk. It is impossible to convince me, that they were invented
by the same man that writes me these letters. On the other hand,
it is almost as hard to suppose, if they are original, that he
should be able to translate them so admirably. In short, this
man is the very demon of poetry, or he has lighted on a treasure
hid for ages." In another letter, be says,--"As to their
authenticity, I have many enquiries, and have lately procured a
letter from Mr. David Hume, the historian, which is more
satisfactory than any thing I have yet met with on that subject.
He says, 'Certain it is, that these poems are in every body's
mouth in the Highlands, have been handed down from father to son,
and are of an age beyond all memory and tradition.'" Works vol.
iii. pp. 249, 257.-E.
Letter 26 To Sir Horace Mann.
Strawberry Hill, May 24, 1760. (page 64)
Well! at last Sisson's machine sets out-but, my dear Sir, how you
still talk of him! You seem to think him as grave and learned as
a professor of Bologna--why, he is an errant, low, indigent
mechanic, and however Dr. Perelli found him out, is a shuffling
knave, and I fear, no fitter to execute his orders than to write
the letter you expect. Then there was my ignorance and your
brother James's ignorance to be thrown into the account. For the
drawing, Sisson says Dr. Perelli has the description of it
already; however, I have insisted on his making a reference to
that description in a scrawl we have with much ado extorted from
him. I pray to Sir Isaac Newton that the machine may answer: It
costs, the stars know what! The whole charge comes to upwards of
threescore pounds! He had received twenty pounds, and yet was so
necessitous, that on our hesitating, he wrote me a most
impertinent letter for his money. I dreaded at first undertaking
a commission for which I was so unqualified, and though I have
done all I could, I fear you and your friend will be but ill
Along with the machine I have sent you some new books; Lord
George's trial, Lord Ferrers's, and the account of him; a
fashionable thing called Tristram Shandy, and my Lord Lyttelton's
new Dialogues of the Dead, or rather Dead Dialogues; and
something less valuable still than any of these, but which I
flatter myself you will not despise; it is my own print, done
from a picture that is reckoned very like--you must allow for the
difference that twenty years since you saw me have made. That
wonderful creature Lord Ferrers, of whom I told you so much in my
last, and with whom I am not going to plague you much more, made
one of his keepers read Hamlet to him the night before his death
after he was in bed-paid all his bills in the morning, as if
leaving an inn, and half an hour before the sheriffs fetched him,
corrected some verses he had written in the Tower in imitation of
the Duke of Buckingham's epitaph, dublus sed ron improbus
vin.(65) What a noble author have I here to add to my Catalogue!
For the other noble author, Lord Lyttelton, you will find his
work paltry enough; the style, a mixture of bombast, poetry, and
vulcarisms. Nothing new in the composition, except making people
talk out of character is so. Then he loves changing sides so
much, that he makes Lord Falkland and Hampden cross over and
figure in like people in a country dance; not to mention their
guardian angels, who deserve to be hanged for murder. He is
angry too at Swift, Lucian, and Rabelais, as if they had laughed
at him of all men living, and he seems to wish that one would
read the last's Dissertation 1 on Hippocrates instead of his
History of Pantagruel. But I blame him most, when he was
satirizing too free writers, for praising the King of Prussia's
poetry, to which any thing of Bayle is harmless. I like best the
Dialogue between the Duke of argyll and the Earl of Angus, and
the character of his own first wife under that of Penelope. I
need not tell you that Pericles is Mr. Pitt.
I have had much conversation with your brother James, and intend
to have more with your eldest, about your nephew. He is a sweet
boy, and has all the goodness of dear Gal. and dear you in his
countenance. They have sent him to Cambridge under that
interested hog the Bishop of Chester,(66) and propose to keep him
there three years. Their apprehension seems to be of his growing
a fine gentleman. I could not help saying, "Why, is he not to be
one?" My wish is to have him with you--what an opportunity of
his learning the world and business under such a tutor and such a
parent! but they think he will dress and run into diversions. I
tried to convince them that of all spots upon earth dress is
least necessary at Florence, and where one can least divert
oneself. I am answered with the necessity of Latin and
mathematics-the one soon forgot, the other never got to any
purpose. I cannot bear his losing the advantage of being brought
up by you, with all the advantages of such a situation, and where
he May learn in perfection living languages, never attained after
twenty. I am so earnest on this, for I doat on him for dear
Gal.'s sake, that I will insist to rudeness on his remaining at
Cambridge but two years; and before that time you shall write to
second My motions.
The Parliament is up, and news are gone out of town: I expect
none but what we receive from Germany. As to the Pretender, his
life or death makes no impression here when a real King is so
soon forgot, how should an imaginary one be remembered? Besides,
since Jacobites have found the way to St. James's, it is grown so
much the fashion to worship Kings, that people don't send their
adorations so far as Rome. He at Kensington is likely long to
outlast his old rival. The spring is far from warm, yet he wears
a silk coat and has left off fires.
Thank you for the entertaining history of the Pope and the
Genoese. I am flounced again into building--a round tower,
gallery, cloister, and chapel, all starting up--if I am forced to
run away by ruining myself, I will come to Florence, steal your
nephew, and bring him with me. Adieu!
(65) The following verses are said to have been found in Lord
Ferrers's apartment in the Tower:
"In doubt I lived, in doubt I die,
Yet stand Prepared the vast abyss to try.
And undismay'd expect eternity!"-E.
(66) Dr. Edmund Keene, brother of Sir Benjamin, and afterwards
Bishop of Ely.
Letter 27 To The Earl Of Strafford.
Strawberry Hill, June 7, 1760. (page 66)
My dear lord,
When at my time of day one can think a ball worth going to London
for on purpose, you will not wonder that I am childish enough to
write an account of it. I could give a better reason, your
bidding me send you any news; but I scorn a good reason when I am
idle enough to do any thing for a bad one. You had heard, before
you left London, of Miss Chudleigh's intended loyalty on the
Prince's birthday. Poor thing, I fear she has thrown away above
a quarter's salary! It was magnificent and well-understood--no
crowd--and though a sultry night, one was not a moment
incommoded. The court was illuminated on the whole summit of the
wall with a battlement of lamps; smaller ones on every step, and
a figure of lanterns on the outside of the house. The
virgin-mistress began the ball with the Duke of York, who was
dressed in a pale blue watered tabby, which, as I told him, if he
danced much, would soon be tabby all over, like the man's
advertisement,(67) but nobody did dance much. There was a new
Miss Bishop from Sir Cecil's endless hoard of beauty daughters,
who is still prettier than her sisters. The new Spanish embassy
was there--alas! Sir Cecil Bishop has never been in Spain!
Monsieur de Fuentes is a halfpenny print of my Lord Huntingdon.
His wife homely, but seems good-humoured and civil. The son does
not degenerate from such high-born ugliness; the daughter-in-law
was sick, and they say is not ugly, and has as good set of teeth
as one can have, when one has but two and those black. They seem
to have no curiosity, sit where they are placed, and ask no
questions about so strange a country. Indeed, the ambassadress
could see nothing; for Doddington(68) stood before her the whole
time, sweating Spanish at her, of which it was evident, by her
civil nods without answers, she did understand a word. She
speaks bad French, danced a bad minuet, and went away--though
there was a miraculous draught of fishes for their supper, for it
was a fast-day--but being the octave of their f`ete-dieu, they
dared not even fast plentifully. Miss Chudleigh desired the
gamblers would go up into the garrets--"Nay, they are not
garrets-it is only the roof of the house hollowed for upper
servants-but I have no upper servants." Every body ran up: there
is a low gallery with bookcases, and four chambers practised
under the pent of the roof, each hung with the finest Indian
pictures on different colours, and with Chinese chairs of the
same colours. Vases of flowers in each for nosegays, and in one
retired nook a most critical couch!
The lord of the Festival(69) was there, and seemed neither
ashamed nor vain of the expense of his pleasures. At supper she
offered him Tokay, and told him she believed he would find it
good. The supper was in two rooms and very fine, and on the
sideboards, and even on the chairs, were pyramids and troughs of
strawberries and cherries you would have thought she was kept by
Vertumnus. Last night my Lady Northumberland lighted up her
garden for the Spaniards: I was not there, having excused myself
for a headache, which I had not, but ought to have caught the
night before. Mr. Doddington entertained these Fuentes's at
Hammersmith; and to the shame of our nation, while they were
drinking tea in the summer-house, some gentlemen, ay, my lord,
gentlemen, went into the river and showed the ambassadress and
her daughter more than ever they expected to see of England.
I dare say you are sorry for poor Lady Anson. She was
exceedingly good-humoured, and did a thousand good-natured and
generous actions. I tell you nothing of the rupture of Lord
Halifax's match, of which you must have heard so much; but you
will like a bon-mot upon it. They say, the hundreds of Drury
have got the better of the thousands of Drury.(70) The pretty
Countess(71) is still alive, was I thought actually dying on
Tuesday night, and I think will go off very soon. I think there
will soon be a peace: my only reason is, that every body seems so
backward at making war. Adieu! my dear lord!
(67) A staymaker of the time, who advertised in the newspapers
that he made stays at such a price, "tabby all over."
(68) Dodington had been minister in Spain.
(69) The Duke of Kingston.
(70) Lord Halifax kept an actress belonging to Drury Lane
Theatre; and the marriage broken off was with a daughter of Sir
Thomas Drury, an heiress.-E.
(71) The Countess of Coventry. She survived till the 1st of
Letter 28 To Sir Horace Mann.
Arlington Street, June 20, 1760. (page 68)
Who the deuce was thinking of Quebec? America was like a book one
has read and done with; or at least, if one looked at the book,
one just recollected that there was a supplement promised, to
contain a chapter on Montreal, the starving and surrender of it-
-but here are we on a sudden reading our book backwards. An
account came two days ago that the French on their march to
besiege Quebec, had been attacked by General Murray, who got into
a mistake and a morass, attacked two bodies that were joined,
when he hoped to come up with one of them before the junction,
was enclosed, embogged,'and defeated. By the list of officers
killed and wounded, I believe there has been a rueful slaughter-
-the place, too, I suppose will be retaken. The year 1760 is not
the year 1759. Added to the war we have a kind of plague too, an
epidemic fever and sore throat: Lady Anson is dead of it; Lord
Bute and two of his daughters were in great danger; my Lady
Waldegrave has had it, and I am mourning for Mrs. Thomas
Walpole,(72) who died of it--you may imagine I don't come much to
town; I had some business here to-day, particularly with Dagge,
whom I have sent for to talk about Sophia;(73) he will be here
presently, and then I will let you know what he says.
The embassy and House of Fuentes are arrived-many feasts and
parties have been made for them, but they do not like those out
of town, and have excused themselves rather ungraciously. They
were invited to a ball last Monday at Wanstead, but did not go:
yet I don't know where they can see such magnificence. The
approach, the coaches, the crowds of spectators to see the
company arrive, the grandeur of the fa`cade and apartments, were
a charming sight; but the town is so empty that that great house
appeared so too. He, you know, is all attention, generosity, and
I must tell you a private wo that has happened to me in my
neighbourhood--Sir William Stanhope bought Pope's house and
garden. The former was so small and bad, one could not avoid
pardoning his hollowing out that fragment of the rock Parnassus
into habitable chambers--but would you believe it, he has cut
down the sacred groves themselves! In short, it was a little bit
of ground of five acres, inclosed with three lanes, and seeing
nothing. Pope had twisted and twirled, and rhymed and harmonized
this, till it appeared two or three sweet little lawns opening
beyond one another, and the whole surrounded with thick
impenetrable woods. Sir William, by advice of his
son-in-law,(74) Mr. Ellis, has hacked and hewed these groves,
wriggled a winding-gravel walk through them with an edging of
shrubs, in what they call the modern taste, and in short, has
designed the three lanes to walk in again--and now is forced to
shut them out again by a wall, for there was not a Muse could
walk there but she was spied by every country fellow that went by
with a pipe in his mouth.
It is a little unlucky for the Pretender to be dying just as the
Pope seems to design to take Corsica into his hands, and might
give it to so faithful a son of the church.
I have heard nothing yet of Stosch.
Mr. Dagge has disappointed me, and I am obliged to go out of
town, but I have writ to him to press the affair, and will press
it, as it is owing to his negligence. Mr. Chute, to whom I
spoke, says he told Dagge he was ready to be a trustee, and
pressed him to get it concluded.
(72) Daughter of Sir Gerard Vanneck.
(73) Natural daughter of Mr. Whitehed, mentioned in preceding
letters, by a Florentine woman.
(74) Welbore Ellis, afterwards*Lord Mendip, married the only
daughter of Sir William Stanhope; in right of whom he afterwards
enjoyed Pope's villa at Twickenham.-E.
Letter 29 To Sir David Dalrymple.(75)
June 20th, 1760. (page 69)
I am obliged to you, Sir, for the volume of Erse poetry - all of
it has merit; but I am sorry not to see in it the six
descriptions of night, with which you favoured me before, and
which I like as much as any of the pieces. I can, however, by no
means agree with the publisher, that they seem to be parts of an
heroic poem; nothing to me can be more unlike. I should as soon
take all the epitaphs in Westminster Abbey, and say it was an
epic poem on the History of England. The greatest part are
evidently elegies; and though I should not expect a bard to write
by the rules of Aristotle, I would not, on the other hand, give
to any work a title that must convey so different an idea to
every common reader. I could wish, too, that the authenticity
had been more largely stated. A man who knows Dr. Blair's
character, will undoubtedly take his word; but the gross of
mankind, considering how much it is the fashion to be sceptical
in reading, will demand proofs, not assertions.