Part 4 out of 17
might have some authentic papers, if I was disposed to write the
life of his master; but I did not care for what would lay me
under such restrictions. It is not fair to use weapons against
the persons that lend them; and I do not admire his master enough
to commend any thing in him, but his military actions. Adieu!
(117) The following anecdote is related in the Biographia
Dramatica:--"Our English Aristophanes sent a copy of the Minor to
the Archbishop of Canterbury, requesting that, if his grace
should see any thing objectionable in it, he would exercise the
free use of his pen, either in the way of erasure or correction.
The Archbishop returned it untouched; observing to a confidential
friend, that he was sure the wit had only laid a trap for him,
and that if he had put his pen to the manuscript, by way of
correction or objection, Foote would have had the assurance to
have advertised the play as 'corrected and prepared for the press
by his grace the Archbishop of Canterbury.'"-E.
Letter 58 To The Rev. Henry Zouch.
Arlington Street, Nov. 27, 1760. (page 106)
You are extremely kind, Sir, in remembering my little commission
I troubled you with. As I am in great want of some more painted
glass to finish a window in my round tower, I should be glad,
though it may not be a Pope, to have the piece you mentioned, if
it can be purchased reasonably.
My Lucan is finished, but will not be published till after
Christmas, when I hope you will do me the favour of accepting
one, and let me know how I shall Convey it. The Anecdotes of
Painting have succeeded to the press: I have finished two
volumes, but as there will at least be a third, I am not
determined whether I shall not wait to publish the whole
together. You will be surprised, I think, to see what a quantity
of materials the industry of one man (Vertue) could amass and how
much he retrieved at this late period. I hear of nothing new
likely to appear; all the world is taken up in penning addresses,
or in presenting them;(118) and the approaching elections will
occupy the thoughts of men so much that an author could not
appear at a worse era.
(118) On the then recent accession of George III.-E.
letter 59 To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, Dec. 11, 1760. (page 106)
I thank you for the inquiries about the painted glass, and shall
be glad if I prove to be in the right.
There is not much of news to tell you; and yet there is much
dissatisfaction. The Duke of Newcastle has threatened to resign
on the appointment of Lord Oxford and Lord Bruce without his
knowledge. His court rave about Tories, which you know comes
with a singular grace from them, as the Duke never preferred any.
Murray, Lord Gower, Sir John Cotton, Jack Pitt, etc. etc. etc.
were all firm whigs. But it is unpardonable to put an end to all
faction, when it is not for factious purposes. Lord
Fitzmaurice,(119) made aide-de-camp to the King, has disgusted
the army. The Duke of Richmond, whose brother has no more been
put over others than the Duke of Newcastle has preferred Tories,
has presented a warm memorial in a warm manner, and has resigned
the bedchamber, not his regiment-another propriety.
Propriety is so much in fashion, that Miss Chudleigh has called
for the council books of the subscription concert, and has struck
off the name of Mrs. Naylor.(120) I have some thoughts of
remonstrating, that General Waldegrave is too lean for to be a
groom of the bedchamber. Mr. Chute has sold his house to Miss
Speed for three thousand pounds, and has taken one for a year in
This is a very brief letter; I fear this reign will soon furnish
longer. When the last King could be beloved, a young man with a
good heart has little chance of being so. Moreover, I have a
maxim, that the extinction of party is the origin of faction."
(119) Afterwards Earl of Shelburne, and in 1784 created Marquis
(120) A noted procuress.-E.
Letter 60 To The Rev. Henry Zouch
Arlington Street, Jan. 3, 1761. (page 107)
I stayed till I had the Lucan ready to send you, before I thanked
you for your letter, and for the pane of glass, about which you
have given yourself so much kind trouble, and which I have
received; I think it is clearly Heraclitus weeping over a globe.
Illuminated MSS., unless they have portraits of particular
persons, I do not deal in; the extent of my collecting is already
full asgreat as I can afford. I am not the less obliged to you,
Sir, for thinking Of me. Were my fortune larger, I should go
deeper into printing, and having engraved curious MSS. and
drawings; as I cannot, I comfort myself with reflecting on the
mortifications I avoid, by the little regard shown by the world
to those sort of things. The sums laid out on books one should,
at first sight, think an indication of encouragement to letters;
but booksellers only are encouraged, not books. Bodies of
sciences, that is, compilations and mangled abstracts, are the
only saleable commodities. Would you believe, what I know is
fact, that Dr. Hill(121) earned fifteen guineas a-week by working
for wholesale dealers: he was at once employed on six voluminous
works of Botany, Husbandry, etc. published weekly. I am sorry to
say, this journeyman is one of the first men preferred in the new
reign: he is made gardener of Kensington, a place worth two
thousand pounds a-year.(122) The King and lord Bute have
certainly both of them great propensity to the arts; but Dr.
Hill, though undoubtedly not deficient in parts, has as little
claim to favour in this reign, as Gideon, the stock-jobber, in
the last; both engrossers without merit. Building, I am told, is
the King's favourite study; I hope our architects will not be
taken from the erectors of turnpikes.
(121) Dr. Hill's were among the first works in which scientific
knowledge was put in a popular shape, by the system of number
publishing. The Doctor's performances in this way are not
discreditable, and are still useful as works of reference.-C.
(122) This was an exaggeration of the emoluments of a place,
which, after all was not improperly bestowed on a person of his
pursuits and merits.-C.
Letter 61 To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, Jan. 22, 1761. (page 108)
I am glad you are coming, and now the time is over, that you are
coming so late, as I like to have you here in the spring. You
will find no great novelty in the new reign. Lord Denbigh(123)
is made master of the harriers, with two thousand a-year. Lord
Temple asked it, and Newcastle and Hardwicke gave into it for
fear of Denbigh's brutality in the House of Lords. Does this
differ from the style of George the Second?
The King designs to have a new motto; he will not have a French
one; so the Pretender may enjoy Dieu et mon droit in quiet.
Princess Amelia is already sick of being familiar: she has been
at Northumberland-house, but goes to nobody more. That party was
larger, but still more formal than the rest, though the Duke of
York had invited himself and his commerce-table. I played with
Madam and we were mighty well together; so well, that two nights
afterwards she commended me to Mr. Conway and Mr. Fox, but
calling me that Mr. Walpole, they did not guess who she meant.
For my part, I thought it very well, that when I played with her,
she did not call me that gentleman. As she went away, she
thanked my Lady Northumberland, like a parson's wife, for all her
I was excessively amused on Tuesday night; there was a play at
Holland-house, acted by children; not all children, for Lady
Sarah Lenox(124) and Lady Susan Strangways(125) played the women.
It was Jane Shore; Mr. Price, Lord Barrington's nephew, was
Gloster, and acted better than three parts of the comedians.
Charles Fox, Hastings; a little Nichols, who spoke well, Belmour;
Lord Ofaly,,(126) Lord Ashbroke, and other boys did the rest: but
the two girls were delightful, and acted with so much nature and
simplicity, that they appeared the very things they represented.
Lady Sarah was more beautiful than you can conceive, and her very
awkwardness gave an air of truth to the shame of the part, and
the antiquity of the time, which was kept up by her dress, taken
out of Montfaucon. Lady Susan was dressed from Jane Seymour; and
all the parts were clothed in ancient habits, and with the most
minute propriety. I was infinitely more struck with the last
scene between the two women than ever I was when I have seen it
on the stage. When Lady Sarah was in white, with her hair about
her ears, and on the ground, no Magdalen by Corregio was half so
lovely and expressive. You would have been charmed too with
seeing Mr. Fox's little boy of six years old, who is beautiful,
and acted the Bishop of Ely, dressed in lawn sleeves and with a
square cap; they had inserted two lines for him, which he could
hardly speak plainly. Francis had given them a pretty prologue.
(123) Basil Fielding, sixth Earl of Denbigh, and fifth Earl of
Desmond. He died in 1800.-E.
(124) daughter of the Duke of Richmond, afterwards married to Sir
Thomas Charles Bunbury, Bart.-E.
(125) Daughter of Stephen Fox, first Earl of Ilchester; married,
in 1764, to William O'Brien, Esq.-E.
(126) Eldest son of the Marquis of Kildare.-E.
Letter 62 To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, Feb. 7, 1761. (page 109)
I have not written to you lately, expecting your arrival. As you
are not come yet, you need not come these ten days if you please,
for I go next week into Norfolk, that my subjects of Lynn may at
least once in their lives see me. 'Tis a horrible thing to dine
with a mayor! I shall profane King John's cup, and taste nothing
but water out of it, as if it were St. John Baptist's.
Prepare yourself for crowds, multitudes. In this reign all the
world lives in one room: the capital is as vulgar as a country
town in the season of horse-races. There were no fewer than four
of these throngs on Tuesday last, at the Duke of Cumberland's,
Princess Emily's, the Opera, and Lady Northumberland's; for even
operas, Tuesday's operas, are crowded now. There is nothing else
new. Last week there was a magnificent ball at Carleton-house:
the two royal Dukes and Princess Emily were there. He of York
danced; the other and his sister had each their table at loo. I
played at hers, and am grown a favourite; nay, have been at her
private party, and was asked again last Wednesday, but took the
liberty to excuse myself, and am yet again summoned for Tuesday.
It is triste enough: nobody sits till the game begins, and then
she and the company are all on stools. At Norfolk-house were two
armchairs placed for her and the Duke of Cumberland, the Duke of
York being supposed a dancer, but they would not use them. Lord
Huntingdon arrived in a frock, pretending he was just come out of
the country; unluckily, he had been at court, full-dressed, in
the morning. No foreigners were there but the son and
daughter-in-law of Monsieur de Fuentes: the Duchess told the
Duchess of Bedford, that she had not invited the ambassadress,
because her rank is disputed here. You remember the Bedford took
place, of madame de Mirepoix; but Madame de Mora danced first,
the Duchess of Norfolk saying she supposed that was of no
Have you heard what immense riches old Wortley has left? One
million three hundred and fifty thousand pounds.(127) It is all
to centre in my Lady Bute; her husband is one of Fortune's
prodigies. They talk of a print, in which her mistress is
reprimanding Miss Chudleigh; the latter curtsies, and replies,
"Madame, chacun a son but."
Have you seen a scandalous letter in print, from Miss Ford,(128)
to lord Jersey, with the history of a boar's head? George Selwyn
calls him Meleager. Adieu! this is positively my last.
(127) "You see old Wortley Montagu is dead at last, at eighty-
three. It was not mere avarice and its companion abstinence, that
kept him alive so long. He every day drank, I think it was,
half-a-pint of tokay, which he imported himself from Hungary in
greater quantity than he could use, and sold the overplus for any
price he chose to set upon it. He has left better than half a
million of money." Gray, Works, vol. iii. p. 272.-E.
(128) Miss Ford was the object of an illicit, but unsuccessful
attachment, on the part of Lord Jersey, whose advances, if not
sanctioned by the lady, appear to have been sanctioned by her
father, who told her "she might have accepted the settlement his
lordship offered her, and yet not have complied" with his terms.
The following extract from the letter will explain the history
above alluded to:--"However, I must do your lordship the justice
to say, that as you conceived this meeting [one with a noble
personage which Lord Jersey had desired her not to make] would
have been most pleasing to me, and perhaps of some ,advantage,
your lordship did (in consideration of so great a disappointment)
send me, a few days after, a present of a boar's head, which I
had often had the honour to meet at your lordship's table before.
It was rather an odd first and only present from a lord to his
beloved mistress; but as coming from your lordship gave it an
additional value, which it had not in itself; and I received it
with the regard I thought due to every thing coming from your
lordship, and would have eat it, had it been eatable. I am''
impatient to acquit your lordship and myself, by showing that as
your lordship's eight hundred pounds a-year did not purchase my
person, the boar's head did not purchase my silence."-E.
Letter 63 To The Hon. H. S. Conway.
Monday, five o'clock, Feb. 1761. (page 110)
I am a little peevish with you-I told you on Thursday night that
I had a mind to go to Strawberry on Friday without staying for
the Qualification bill. You said it did not signify--No! What if
you intended to speak on it? Am I indifferent to hearing you?
More-Am I indifferent about acting with you? Would not I follow
you in any thing in the world?--This is saying no profligate
thing. Is there any thing I might not follow you in? You even
did not tell me yesterday that you had spoken. Yet I will tell
you all I have heard; though if there was a Point in the world in
which I could not wish you to succeed where you wish yourself,
perhaps it would be in having you employed. I cannot be cool
about your danger; yet I cannot know any thing that concerns you,
and keep it from you. Charles Townshend called here just after I
came to town to-day. Among other discourse he told me of your
speaking on Friday, and that your speech was reckoned hostile to
the Duke of Newcastle. Then talking of regiments going abroad,
he said, * * * * * With regard to your reserve to me, I
can easily believe that your natural modesty made you unwilling
to talk of yourself to me. I don't suspect you of any reserve to
me: I only mention it now for an occasion of telling you, that I
don't like to have any body think that I would not do whatever
you do. I am of no consequence: but at least it would give me
some, to act invariably with you; and that I shall most certainly
be ever ready to do. Adieu!
Letter 64 To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, March 7, 1761. (page 111)
I rejoice, you know, in whatever rejoices you, and though I am
not certain what your situation(129) is to be, I am glad you go,
as you like it. I am told it is black rod. lady Anne
Jekyll(130) said, she had written to you on Saturday night. I
asked when her brother was to go, if before August; she answered:
"Yes, if possible." long before October you may depend upon it;
in the quietest times no lord lieutenant ever went so late as
that. Shall not you come to town first? You cannot pack up
yourself, and all you will want, at Greatworth.
We are in the utmost hopes of a peace; a Congress is agreed upon
at Augsbourg, but yesterday's mail brought bad news. Prince
Ferdinand has been obliged to raise the siege of Cassel, and to
retire to Paderborn; the hereditary prince having been again
defeated, with the loss of two generals, and to the value of five
thousand men, in prisoners and exchanged. If this defers the
peace it will be grievous news to me, now Mr. Conway is gone to
The town talks of nothing but an immediate Queen, yet I am
certain the ministers know not of it. Her picture is come, and
lists of her family given about; but the latter I do not send
you, as I believe it apocryphal. Adieu!
P.S. Have you seen the -,advertisement of a new noble author? A
Treatise of Horsemanship, by Henry Earl of Pembroke!(131) As
George Selwyn said of Mr. Greville, "so far from being a writer,
I thought he was scarce a courteous reader."
(129) Mr. Montagu was appointed usher of the black rod in
(130) sister of the Earl of Halifax.
(131) Tenth Earl of Pembroke and seventh Earl of Montgomery. The
work was entitled "Military Equitation; or a Method of breaking
Horses, and teaching Soldiers to ride." A fourth edition, in
quarto, appeared in 1793.-E.
Letter 65 To The Rev. Henry Zouch.
Arlington Street, March 7, 1761. (page 111)
Just what I supposed, Sir, has happened; with your good breeding,
I did not doubt but you would give yourself the trouble of
telling me that you had received the Lucan, and as you did not, I
concluded Dodsley had neglected it: he has in two instances. The
moment they were published, I delivered a couple to him, for you,
and one for a gentleman in Scotland. I received no account of
either, and after examining Dodsley a fortnight ago, I learned
three days since from him, that your copy, Sir, was delivered to
Mrs. Ware, bookseller, in Fleet Street, who corresponds with Mr.
Stringer, to be sent in the first parcel; but, says he, as they
send only once a month, it probably was not sent away till very
later),. I am vexed, Sir, that you have waited so long
for this trifle: if you neither receive it, nor get information
of it, I will immediately convey another to you. It would be
very ungrateful in me to neglect what would give you a moment's
amusement, after your thinking so obligingly of the painted glass
for me. I shall certainly be in Yorkshire this summer, and as I
flatter myself that I shall be more lucky in meeting you, I will
then take what you shall be so good as to bestow on me, without
giving you the trouble of sending it.
If it were not printed in the London Chronicle, I would
transcribe for you, Sir, a very weak letter of Voltaire to Lord
Lyttelton,(132) and the latter's answer: there is nothing else
new, but a very indifferent play,(133) called The Jealous Wife,
so well acted as to have succeeded greatly. Mr. Mason, I
believe, is going to publish some elegies: I have seen the
principal one, on Lady Coventry; it was then only an unfinished
draft. The second and third volumes of
Tristram Shandy, the dregs of nonsense, have universally met the
contempt they deserve: genius may be exhausted;--I see that
folly's invention may be so too.
The foundations of my gallery at Strawberry are laying. May I
not flatter myself, Sir, that you will see the whole even before
it is quite complete?
P. S. Since I wrote my letter, I have read a new play of
Voltaire's, called Tancred, and I am glad to say that it repairs
the idea of his decaying parts, which I had conceived from his
Peter the Great, and the letter I mentioned. Tancred did not
please at Paris, nor was I charmed with the two first acts; in
the three last are great flashes of genius, single lines, and
starts of passion of the first fire: the woman's part is a little
(132) An absurd letter from Voltaire to the author of the
Dialogues of the Dead, remonstrating against a statement, that
"he, Voltaire, was in exile, on account of some blamable freedoms
in his writings." He denies both the facts and the cause
assigned; but he convinced nobody, for both were notoriously
true. Voltaire was, it is true, not banished by sentence; but he
was not permitted to reside in France, and that surely may be
called exile, particularly as he was all his life endeavouring to
obtain leave to return to Paris.-C.
(133) The Jealous Wife still keeps the stage, and does not
deserve to be so slightingly spoken of: but there were private
reasons which might possibly warp Mr. Walpole's judgment on the
works of Colman. He was the nephew of lord Bath, and The Jealous
Wife was dedicated to that great rival of Sir Robert Walpole.-C.
[Dr. Johnson says.-that the Jealous Wife, "though not written
with much genius, was yet so well exhibited by the actors, that
it was crowded for near twenty nights."]
Letter 66 To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, March 17, 1761. (page 112)
If my last letter raised your wonder, this Will not allay it.
Lord Talbot is lord steward! The stone, which the builders
refused, is become the head-stone of the corner. My Lady Talbot,
I suppose, would have found no charms in Cardinal Mazarin. As
the Duke of Leeds was forced to give way to Jemmy Grenville, the
Duke of Rutland has been obliged to make room for this new Earl.
Lord Huntingdon is groom of the stole, and the last Duke I have
named, master of the horse; the red liveries cost Lord Huntingdon
a pang. Lord Holderness has the reversion of the Cinque-ports
for life, and I think may pardon his expulsion.
If you propose a fashionable assembly, you must send cards to
Lord Spenser, Lord Grosvenor, Lord Melcomb, Lord Grantham, Lord
Boston, Lord Scarsdale, Lady Mountstuart, the Earl of TyrConnell,
and Lord Wintertown. The two last you will meet in Ireland. No
joy ever exceeded your cousin's or Doddington's: the former came
last night to Lady Hilsborough's to display his triumph; the
latter too was there, and advanced to me. I said, ":I was coming
to wish you joy." "I concluded so," replied he, "and came to
receive it." He left a good card yesterday at Lady Petersham's, a
very young lord to wait on Lady Petersham, to make her ladyship
the first offer of himself. I believe she will be content with
the exchequer: Mrs. Grey has a pension of eight hundred pounds
Mrs. Clive is at her villa for Passion week; I have written to
her for the box, but I don't doubt of its being (,one; but,
considering her alliance, why does not Miss Price bespeak the
play and have the stage box?
I shall smile if Mr. Bentley, and M`Untz, and their two Hannahs
meet at St. James's; so I see neither of them, I care not where
Lady Hinchinbrook and Lady Mansel are at the point of death; Lord
Hardwicke is to be poet-laureate; and, according to modern usage,
I suppose it will be made a cabinet-counsellor's place. Good
Letter 67 To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, March 19, 1761. (page 113)
I can now tell you, with great pleasure, that your cousin(134) is
certainly named lord-lieutenant. I wish you joy. You will be
sorry too to hear that your Lord North is much talked of for
succeeding him at the board of' trade. I tell you this with
great composure, though today has been a day of amazement. All
the world is staring, whispering, and questioning. Lord
Holderness has resigned the seals,(135) and they are given to
Lord Bute. Which of the two secretaries of state is first
minister? the latter or Mr. Pitt? Lord Holderness received the
command but yesterday, at two o'clock, till that moment thinking
himself extremely well at court; but it seems the King said he
was tired of having two secretaries, of which one would do
nothing, and t'other could do nothing; he would have a secretary
who both could act and would. Pitt had as
short a notice of this resolution as the sufferer, and was little
better pleased. He is something softened for the present by the
offer of cofferer for Jemmy Grenville, which is to be ceded by
the Duke of Leeds, who returns to his old post of justice in
eyre, from whence Lord Sandys is to be removed, some say to the
head of the board of trade. Newcastle, who enjoys this fall of
Holderness's, who had deserted him for Pitt, laments over the
former, but seems to have made his terms with the new favourite:
if the Bedfords have done so too, will it surprise you? It will
me, if Pitt submits to this humiliation; if he does not, I take
for granted the Duke of Bedford will have the other seals. The
temper with which the new reign has hitherto proceeded, seems a
little impeached by this sudden act, and the Earl now stands in
the direct light of a minister-, if the House of Commons should
cavil at him. Lord Delawar kissed hands to-day for his earldom;
the other new peers are to follow on Monday.
There are horrid disturbances about the militia(136) in
Northumberland, where the mob have killed an officer and three of
the Yorkshire militia, who, in return, fired and shot twenty-one.
Adieu! I shall be impatient to hear some consequences of my first
P. S. Saturday.--I forgot to tell you that Lord Hardwicke has
written some verses to Lord Lyttelton, upon those the latter made
on Lady Egremont.(137) If I had been told that he had put on a
bag, and was gone off with Kitty Fisher,(138) I should not have
been more astonished.
Poor Lady Gower(139) is dead this morning of a fever in her
lying-in. I believe the Bedfords arc very sorry; for there is a
new opera(140) this evening.
(134) The Earl of Halifax.
(135) Lord Barrington, in a letter to Mr. Mitchell, of the 23d
says, "Our friend Holderness is finally in harbour; he has four
thousand a-year for life, with the reversionship of the Cinque-
ports, after the Duke of Dorset; which he likes better than
having the name of pensioner. I never could myself understand
the difference between a pension and a synecure place."-E.
(136) In consequence of the expiration of the three years' term
of service, prescribed by the Militia-act, and the new ballot
about to take place.-E.
(137) The following are the lines alluded to, "Addition extempore
to the verses on Lady Egremont:
"Fame heard with pleasure--straight replied,
First on my roll stands Wyndham's bride,
My trumpet oft I've raised to sound
Her modest praise the world around;
But notes were wanting-canst thou find
A muse to sing her face, her mind?
Believe me, I can name but one,
A friend of yours-'tis Lyttelton."
(138) A celebrated courtesan of the day.-E.
(139) Daughter of Scroope Duke of Bridgewater.
(140) The serious opera of Tito Manlio, by Cocchi. By a letter
from Gray to Mason, of the 22d of January, the Opera appears at
this time to have been in a flourishing condition--"The Opera is
crowded this year like any ordinary theatre. Elisi is finer than
any thing that has been here in your memory; yet, as I suspect,
has been finer than he is: he appears to be near forty, a little
potbellied and thick-shouldered, otherwise no bad figure; has
action proper, and not ungraceful. We have heard nothing, since
I remember operas, but eternal passages, divisions, and flights
of execution: of these he has absolutely none; whether merely
from judgment, or a little from age, I will not affirm: his point
is expression, and to that all the ornaments he inserts (which
are few and short) are evidently directed. He gets higher, they
say, than Farinelli; but then this celestial note you do not hear
above once in a whole opera; and he falls from this altitude at
once to the mellowest, softest, Strongest tones (about the middle
of his compass) that can be heard. The Mattei, I assure you, is
much improved by his example, and by her great success this
winter; but then the burlettas and the Paganina, I have not been
so pleased with any thing these many years. She is too fat, and
above forty, yet handsome withal, and has a face that speaks the
language of all nations. She has not the invention, the fire,
and the variety of action that the Spiletta had; yet she is
light, agile, ever in motion, and above all, graceful; but then,
her voice, her ear, her taste in singing; good God! as Mr.
Richardson, the painter, says." Works, vol. iii. p. 268.-E.
Letter 68 To George Montagu, Esq.
March 21, 1761. (page 115)
Of the enclosed, as you perceive, I tore off the seal, but it has
not been opened. I grieve at the loss of your suit, and for the
injustice done you, but what can one expect but injury, when
forced to have recourse to law! Lord Abercorn asked me this
evening, if it was true that you are going to Ireland? I gave a
vague answer, and did not resolve him how much I knew of it. I
am impatient for the answer to your compliment.
There is not a word of newer news than what I sent you last. The
Speaker has taken leave, and received the highest compliments,
and substantial ones too; he did not over-act, and it was really
a handsome scene.(141) I go to my election on Tuesday, and, if I
do not tumble out of the chair, and break my neck, you shall hear
from me at my return. I got the box for Miss Rice; Lady
Hinchinbrook is dead.
(141) Mr, Onslow held the office of Speaker of the House of
Commons for above thirty-three years, and during part of that
time enjoyed the lucrative employment of treasurer of the navy:
"notwithstanding which," says Mr Hatsell, "it is an anecdote
perfectly well known, that on his quitting the Chair, his income
from his private fortune, which had always been inconsiderable,
Was rather less than it had been in 1727, when he was first
elected into it. Superadded to his great and accurate knowledge
of the history of this country, and of the minuter forms and
proceedings of Parliament, the distinguishing features of his
character were a regard and veneration for the British
constitution, as it was declared at and established at the
letter 69 To George Montagu, Esq.
Houghton, March 25, 1761. (page 115)
Here I am at Houghton! and alone! in this spot, where (except two
hours last month) I have not been in sixteen years! Think what a
crowd of reflections! No; Gray, and forty churchyards, could not
furnish so many: nay, I know one must feel them with greater
indifference than I possess, to have the patience to put them
into verse. Here I am, probably for the last time of my life,
though not for the time: every clock that strikes tells me I am
an hour nearer to yonder church--that church, into which I have
not yet had courage to enter, where lies that mother on whom I
doated, and who doated on me! There are the two rival mistresses
of Houghton, neither of whom ever wished to enjoy it! There too
lies he who founded its greatness; to contribute to whose fall
Europe was embroiled; there he sleeps in quiet and dignity, while
his friend and his foe, rather his false ally and real enemy,
Newcastle and Bath, are exhausting the dregs of their pitiful
lives in squabbles and pamphlets.
The surprise the pictures(142) gave me is again renewed;
accustomed for many years to see nothing but wretched daubs and
varnished copies at auctions, I look at these as enchantment. My
own description of them seems poor; but shall I tell you truly,
the majesty of Italian ideas almost sinks before the warm nature
of Flemish colouring. Alas! don't I grow old? My young
imagination was fired with Guido's ideas; must they be plump and
prominent as Abishag to warm me now? Does great youth feel with
poetic limbs, as well as see with poetic eyes? In one respect I
am very young, I cannot satiate myself with looking: an incident
contributed to make me feel this more strongly. A party arrived
just as I did, to see the house, a man and three women In riding
dresses, and they rode post through the apartments. I could not
hurry before them fast enough; they were not so long in seeing
for the first time, as I could have been in one room, to examine
what I knew by heart. I remember formerly being often diverted
with this kind of seers; they come, ask what such a room is
called, in which Sir Robert lay, write it down, admire a lobster
on a cabbage in a market-piece, dispute whether the last room was
green or purple, and then hurry to the inn for fear the fish
should be over-dressed. How different my sensations! not a
picture here but recalls a history; not one, but I remember in
Downing-street or Chelsea, where queens and crowds admired them,
though seeing them as little as these travellers!
When I had drank tea, I strolled into the garden; they told me it
was now called the pleasure-ground. What a dissonant idea of
pleasure! those groves, those all`ees, where I have passed so
many charming moments, are now stripped up or over-grown--many
fond paths I could not unravel, though with a very exact clew in
my memory: I met two gamekeepers, and a thousand hares In the
days when all my soul was tuned to pleasure and vivacity (and you
will think, perhaps, it is far from being out of tune yet), I
hated Houghton and its solitude; yet I loved this garden, as now,
with many regrets, I love Houghton; Houghton, I know not what to
call it, monument of grandeur or ruin! How I have wished this
evening for Lord Bute! how I could preach to him! For myself, I
do not want to be preached to; I have long considered, how every
Balbec must wait for the chance of a Mr. Wood. The servants
wanted to lay me in the great apartment-what, to make me pass my
night as I have done my evening! It were like Proposing to
Margaret Roper(143) to be a duchess in the court that cut off her
father's head, and imagining it would please her. I have chosen
to sit in my father's little dressing-room, and am now by his
scrutoire, where, in the heights of his fortune, he used to
receive the accounts of his farmers, and deceive himself, or us,
with the thoughts of his economy. How wise a man at once, and
how weak! For what has he built Houghton? for his grandson to
annihilate, or for his son to mourn over. If Lord Burleigh could
rise and view his representative driving the Hatfield stage, he
would feel as I feel now.(144) Poor little Strawberry! at least
it will not be stripped to pieces by a descendant! You will find
all these fine meditations dictated by pride, not by philosophy.
Pray consider through how many mediums philosophy must pass,
before it is purified--
"how often must it weep, how often burn!"
My mind was extremely prepared for all this gloom by parting with
Mr. Conway yesterday morning; moral reflections or commonplaces
are the livery one likes to wear, when one has just had a real
misfortune. He is going to Germany: I was glad to dress myself
up in transitory Houghton, in lieu of very sensible concern.
To-morrow I shall be distracted with thoughts, at least images of
very different complexion. I go to Lynn, and am to be elected on
Friday. I shall return hither on Saturday, again alone, to
expect Burleighides on Sunday, whom I left at Newmarket. I must
once in my life see him on his grandfather's throne.
Epping, Monday night, thirty-first.-No, I have not seen him; he
loitered on the road, and I was kept at Lynn till yesterday
morning. It is plain I never knew for how many trades I was
formed, when at this time of day I can begin electioneering, and
succeed in my new vocation.. Think of me, the subject of a mob,
who was scarce ever before in a mob, addressing them in the
town-hall, riding at the head of two thousand people through such
a town as Lynn, dining with above two hundred of them, amid
bumpers, huzzas, songs, and tobacco, and finishing with country
dancing at a ball and sixpenny whisk! I have borne it all
cheerfully; nay, have sat hours in conversation, the thing upon
earth that I hate; have been to hear misses play on the
harpsichord, and to see an alderman's copies of Rubens and Carlo
Marat. Yet to do the folks justice, they are sensible, and
reasonable, and civilized; their very language is polished since
I lived among them. I attribute this to their more frequent
intercourse with the world and the capital, by the help of good
roads and postchaises, which, if they have abridged the King's
dominions, have at least tamed his subjects. Well, how
comfortable it will be to-morrow, to see my parroquet, to play at
loo, and not be obliged to talk seriously! The Heraclitus of the
beginning of this letter will be overjoyed on finishing it to
sign himself your old friend, Democritus.
P. S. I forgot to tell you that my ancient aunt Hammond came over
to Lynn to see me; not from any affection, but curiosity. The
first thing she said to me, though we have not met these sixteen
years, was, ,Child, you have done a thing to-day, that your
father never did in all his life; you sat as they carried you,--
he always stood the whole time." "Madam," said I, "when I am
placed in a chair, I conclude I am to sit in it; besides, as I
cannot imitate my father in great things, I am not at all
ambitious of mimicking him in little ones." I am sure she
proposes to tell her remarks to my uncle Horace's ghost, the
instant they meet.
(142) This magnificent collection of pictures was sold to the
Empress of Russia, and some curious particulars relative to the
sale will be found in Beloe's Anecdotes of Literature. A series
Of engravings was likewise made from them, which was published in
1788, under the title of "The Houghton Gallery: a collection of
prints, from the best pictures in the possession of the Earl of
(143) Wife,, of William Roper, Esq. and eldest and favourite
daughter of Sir Thomas More. She bought the head of her
ill-fated parent, when it was about to be thrown into the Thames,
after having been affixed to London bridge, and on being
questioned by the Privy Council about her conduct, she boldly
replied, that she had done so that "it might not become food for
fishes." She survived her father nine years, and died at the age
of thirty-six, in 1544, and was buried at St. Dunstan's church,
Canterbury; the box containing her father's head being placed on
(144) the prayer of Sir Robert Walpole, recorded on the
foundation-stone, was, that "after its master, to a mature old
age, had long enjoyed it in perfection, his latest descendants
might safely possess it to the end of time."-E.
Letter 70 To The Hon. H. S. Conway.
Arlington Street, April 10, 1761. (page 118)
If Prince Ferdinand had studied how to please me, I don't know
any method he could have lighted upon so likely to gain my heart,
as being beaten out of the field before you joined him. I
delight in a hero that is driven so far that nobody can follow
him. He is as well at Paderborn, as where I have long wished the
King of Prussia, the other world. You may frown if you please at
my imprudence, you who are gone with all the disposition in the
world to be well with your commander; the peace is in a manner
made, and the anger of generals will not be worth sixpence these
ten years. We peaceable folks are now to govern the world, and
you warriors must in your turn tremble at our Subjects the mob,
as we have done before your hussars and court-martials.
I am glad you had so pleasant a passage.(145) My Lord Lyttelton
would say, that Lady Mary Coke, like Venus, smiled over the
waves, et mare prestabat eunti. in truth, when she could tame
me, she must have had little trouble with the ocean. Tell me how
many burgomasters she has subdued, or how many would have fallen
in love with her if they had not fallen asleep! Come, has she
saved two-pence by her charms? Have they abated a farthing of
their impositions for her being handsomer than any thing in the
seven provinces? Does she know how political her journey is
thought? Nay, my Lady Ailesbury, you are not out of the scrape;
you are both reckoned des Mar`echale de Guebriant,(146) going to
fetch, and consequently govern the young queen. There are more
jealousies about your voyage, than the Duke of Newcastle would
feel if Dr. Shaw had prescribed a little ipecacuanha to my Lord
I am sorry I must adjourn my mirth, to give Lady Ailesbury a
pang; poor Sir Harry Bellendine(147) is dead; he made a great
dinner at Almac's for the House of Drummond, drank very hard,
caught a violent fever, and died in a very few days. Perhaps you
will have heard this before; I shall wish so; I do not like, even
innocently, to be the cause of sorrow.
I do not at all lament Lord Granby's leaving the army, and your
immediate succession. There are persons in the world who would
gladly ease you of this burden. As you are only to take the
vice-royalty of a coop, and that for a few weeks, I shall but
smile if you are terribly distressed. Don't let Lady Ailesbury
proceed to Brunswick: you might have had a wife who would not
have thought it so terrible to fall into the hands [arms] of
hussars; but as I don't take that to be your Countess's turn,
leave her with the Dutch, who are not so boisterous as Cossacks
or chancellors of the exchequer.
My love, my duty, my jealousy, to Lady Mary, if she is not sailed
before you receive this--if she is, I shall deliver them myself
Good night! I write immediately on the receipt of your letter,
but you see I have nothing yet new to tell you.
(145) From Harwich to Holvoetsluys.
(146) The Mar`echale de Gu`ebriant was sent to the King of Poland
with the character of ambassadress by Louis Xiii. to accompany
the Princess Marie de Gonzague, who had been married by proxy to
the King of Poland at Paris.
(147) Uncle to the Countess of Ailesbury.
Letter 71 To Sir David Dalrymple.(148)
Arlington Street, April 14, 1761. (page 119)
Sir, I have deferred answering the favour of your last, till I
could tell you that I had seen Fingal. Two journeys into Norfolk
for my election, and other accidents, prevented my seeing any
part of the poem till this last week, and I have yet only seen
the first book. There are most beautiful images in it, and it
surprises one how the bard could strike out so many shining ideas
from a few so very simple objects, as the moon, the storm, the
sea, and the heath, from whence he borrows almost all his
allusions. The particularizing of persons, by "he said," "he
replied," so much objected to in Homer, is so wanted in
Fingal,(149) that it in some measure justifies the Grecian
Highlander; I have even advised Mr. Macpherson (to prevent
confusion) to have the names prefixed to the speeches, as in a
play. It is too obscure without some such aid. My doubts of the
genuineness are all vanished.
I fear, sir, from Dodsley's carelessness, you have not received
the Lucan. A gentleman in Yorkshire, for whom I consigned
another copy at the same time with yours, has got his but within
this fortnight. I have the pleasure to find, that the notes are
allowed the best of Dr. Bentley's remarks on poetic authors.
Lucan was muscular enough to bear his rough hand.
Next winter I hope to be able to send you Vertue's History of the
Arts, as I have put it together from his collections. Two
volumes are finished, the first almost printed and the third
begun. There will be a fourth, I believe, relating solely to
engravers. You will be surprised, sir, how the industry of one
man could at this late period amass so near a complete history of
our artists. I have no share in it, but in arranging his
(148) Now first collected.
(149) "For me," writes Gray, it this time, to Dr. Wharton, "I
admire nothing but Fingal; yet I remain still in doubt about the
authenticity of these poems, though inclining rather to believe
them genuine in spite of the worio. Whether they are the
inventions of antiquity, or of a modern Scotchman, either case to
me is alike unaccountable. Je m'y perds." Dr. Johnson, on the
contrary, all along denied their authenticity. "The subject,"
says Boswell, "having been introduced by Dr. Fordyce, Dr. Blair,
relying on the external evidence of their antiquity, asked
Johnson whether he thought any man of modern age could have
written such poems? Johnson replied, 'Yes, Sir, many men, many
women, and many children.' He, at this time, did not know that
Dr. Blair had just published a dissertation, not only defending
their authenticity, but seriously ranking them with the poems of
Homer and Virgil; and when he was afterwards informed of this
circumstance, he expressed some displeasure at Dr. Fordyce's
having suggested the topic, and said, 'I am not sorry that they
got thus much for their pains: Sir, it was like leading one to
talk of a book, when the author is concealed behind the
Letter 72 To The Countess Of Suffolk.(150)
Friday night, April 1761. (page 120)
We are more successful, Madam, than I could flatter myself we
should be. Mr. Conway--and I need say no more--has negotiated so
well, that the Duke of Grafton is disposed to bring Mr.
Beauclerk(151) in for Thetford. It will be expected, I believe,
that Lord Vere should resign Windsor in a handsome manner to the
Duke of Cumberland. It must be your ladyship's part to prepare
this; which I hope will be the means of putting an end to these
unhappy differences. My only fear now is, lest the Duke should
have promised the Lodge.' Mr. Conway writes to Lord Albemarle,
who is yet at Windsor, to prevent this, if not already done, till
the rest is ready to be notified to the Duke of Cumberland. Your
ladyship's good sense and good heart make it unnecessary for me
to say more.
(150) Now first collected.
(151) The Hon. Aubrey Beauclerk, son of Lord Vere; afterwards
Duke of St. Albans.
Letter 73 To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, April 16, 1761. (page 121)
You are a very mule; one offers you a handsome stall and manger
in Berkeley Square, and you will not accept it. I have chosen
your coat, a claret colour, to suit the complexion of the country
you are going to visit; but I have fixed nothing about the lace.
Barrett had none of gauze, but what were as broad as the Irish
Channel. Your tailor found a very reputable one at another
place, but I would not determine rashly; it will be two or
three-and-twenty shillings the yard: you might have a very
substantial real lace,' which would wear like your buffet, for
twenty. The second order of gauzes are frippery, none above
twelve shillings, and those tarnished, for the species are out of
fashion. You will have time to sit in judgment upon these
important points; for Hamilton(152) your secretary told me at the
Opera two nights ago, that he had taken a house near Busby, and
hoped to be in my neighbourhood for four months.
I was last night at your plump Countess's who is so shrunk, that
she does not seem to be composed of above a dozen hassocs. Lord
Guildford rejoiced mightily over your preferment. The Duchess of
Argyle was playing there, not knowing that the great Pam was just
dead,, to wit, her brother-in-law. He was abroad in the morning,
was seized with a palpitation after dinner, and was dead before
the surgeon could arrive. There's the crown of Scotland too
fallen upon my Lord Bute's head! Poor Lord Edgecumbe is still
alive, and may be so for some days; the physicians, who no longer
ago than Friday se'nnight persisted that he had no dropsy, in
order to prevent his having Ward,(153) on Monday last proposed
that Ward should be called in, and at length they owned they
thought the mortification begun. It is not clear it is yet; at
times he is in his senses, and entirely so, composed, clear, and
most rational; talks of his death, and but yesterday, after such
a conversation with his brother, asked for a pencil to amuse
himself with drawing. What parts, genius, agreeableness thrown
away at a hazard table, and not permitted the chance of being
saved by the villainy of physicians!
You will be pleased with the Anacreontic, written by Lord
Middlesex upon Sir Harry Bellendine: I have not seen any thing so
antique for ages; it has all the fire, poetry, and simplicity of
"Ye sons of Bacchus, come and join
in solemn dirge, while tapers shine
Around the grape-embowered shrine
Of honest Harry Bellendine.
Pour the rich juice of Bourdeaux's wine,
Mix'd with your falling tears of brine,
In full libation o'er the shrine
Of honest Harry Bellendine.
Your brows let ivy chaplets twine,
While you push round the sparkling wine,
And let your table be the shrine
Of honest Hairy Bellendine."
He died in his vocation, of a high fever, after the celebration
of some orgies. Though but six hours in his senses, he gave a
proof of his usual good humour, making it his last request to the
sister Tuftons to be reconciled; which they are. His pretty
villa, in my neighbourhood, I fancy he has left to the new Lord
Lorn. I must tell you an admirable bon-mot of George Selwyn,
though not a new one; when there was a malicious report that the
eldest Tufton was to marry Dr. Duncan, Selwyn said, "How often
will she repeat that line of Shakspeare,
"Wake Duncan with this knocking--would thou couldst!"
I enclose the receipt from your lawyer. Adieu!
(152) William Gerard Hamilton, commonly called Single-speech
Hamilton, was, on the appointment of Lord Halifax to the
viceroyalty of Ireland, selected as his secretary, and was
accompanied thither by the celebrated Edmund Burke, partly as a
friend and partly as his private secretary.-E.
(153) The celebrated empiric, see ant`e, p. 37, letter 10. His
drops were first introduced in 1732, by Sir Thomas Robinson; upon
which occasion, Sir C. H. Williams addressed to him his poem,
"Say, knight, for learning most renown'd,
What is this wondrous drop?"-E.
Letter 74 To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, April 28, 1761. (page 122)
I am glad you will relish June for Strawberry; by that time I
hope the weather will have recovered its temper. At present it
is horridly cross and uncomfortable; I fear we shall have a cold
season; we cannot eat our summer and have our summer.
There has been a terrible fire in the little traverse street, at
the upper end of Sackville Street. Last Friday night, between
eleven and twelve, I was sitting with Lord Digby in the
coffee-room at Arthur's; they told us there was a great fire
somewhere about Burlington Gardens. I, who am as constant at a
fire as George Selwyn at an execution, proposed to Lord Digby to
go and see where it was. We found it within two doors of that
pretty house of Fairfax, now General Waldegrave's. I sent for
the latter, who was at Arthur's; and for the guard, from St.
James's. Four houses were in flames before they could find a
drop of water; eight were burnt. I went to my Lady Suffolk, in
Saville Row, and passed the whole night, till three in the
morning, between her little hot bedchamber and the spot up to my
ancles in water, without catching cold.(154) As the wind, which
had sat towards Swallow Street, changed in the middle of the
conflagration, I concluded the greater part of Saville Row would
be consumed. I persuaded her to prepare to transport her most
valuable effects--"portantur avari Pygmalionis opes miserae."
She behaved with great composure, and observed to me herself how
much worse her deafness grew with the alarm. Half the people of
fashion in town were in the streets all night, as it happened in
such a quarter of distinction. In the crowd, looking on with
great tranquillity, I saw a Mr. Jackson, an Irish gentleman, with
whom I had dined this winter, at Lord Hertford's. He seemed
rather grave; I said, "Sir, I hope you do not live hereabouts."
"Yes, Sir," said he, "I lodged in that house that is Just burnt."
Last night there was a mighty ball at Bedford-house; the royal
Dukes and Princess Emily were there; your lord-lieutenant, the
great lawyer, lords, and old Newcastle, whose teeth are tumbled
out, and his mouth tumbled in; hazard very deep; loo, beauties,
and the Wilton Bridge in sugar, almost as big as the life. I am
glad all these joys are near going out of town. The Graftons go
abroad for the Duchess's health; Another climate may mend that--I
will not answer for more. Adieu! Yours ever.
(154) This accident was owing to a coachman carrying a lighted
candle into the stable, and, agreeably to Dean Swift's Advice to
Servants, sticking it against the rack; the straw being set in a
flame in his absence, by the candle falling. Eight or nine
horses perished, and fourteen houses were burnt to the ground.
Walpole was, most probably, not an idle spectator for the
newspapers relate, that the "gentlemen in the neighbourhood,
together with their servants, formed a ring, kept off the mob,
and handed the goods and movables from one another, till they
secured them in a place of safety; a noble instance of
neighbourly respect and kindness."-E.
Letter 75 To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, May 5, 1761. (page 123)
We have lost a young genius, Sir William Williams;(155) an
express from Belleisle, arrived this morning, brings nothing but
his death. He was shot very unnecessarily, riding too near a
battery; in sum, he is a sacrifice to his own rashness, and to
ours. For what are we taking Belleisle? I rejoiced at the little
loss we had on landing; for the glory, I leave it to the common
council. I am very willing to leave London to them too, and do
pass half the week at Strawberry, where my two passions, lilacs
and nightingales, are in full bloom. I spent Sunday as if it
were Apollo's birthday -. Gray and Mason were with me, and we
listened to the nightingales till one o'clock in the morning.
Gray has translated two noble incantations from the Lord knows
who, a Danish Gray, who lived the Lord knows when. They are to
be enchased in a history of English bards, which Mason and he are
Writing; but of which the former has not written a word yet, and
of which the latter, if he rides Pegasus at his usual foot-pace,
will finish the first page two years hence.
But the true frantic OEstus resides at present with Mr. Hogarth;
I went t'other morning to see a portrait he is painting of Mr.
Fox. Hogarth told me he had promised, if Mr. Fox would sit as he
liked, to make as good a picture as Vandyke or Rubens could. I
was silent--"Why now," said he, "you think this very vain, but
why should not one speak the truth?" This truth was uttered in
the face of his own Sigismonda, which is exactly a maudlin w----,
tearing off the trinkets that her keeper had given her, to fling
at his head. She has her father's picture in a bracelet on her
arm, and her fingers are bloody with the heart, as if she had
just bought a sheep's pluck in St. James's Market. As I was
going, Hogarth put on a very grave face, and said, "Mr. Walpole,
I want to speak to you." I sat down, and said I was ready to
receive his commands. For shortness, I will mark this wonderful
dialogue by initial letters.
H. I am told you are going to entertain the town with something
in our way. W. Not very soon, Mr. Hogarth. H. I wish you would
let me have it to correct; I should be very sorry to have you
expose yourself to censure; we painters must know more of those
things than other people. W. Do you think nobody understands
painting but painters? H. Oh! so far from it, there's Reynolds,
who certainly has genius; why but t'other day he offered a
hundred pounds for a picture, that I would not hang in my cellar;
and indeed, to say truth I have generally found, that persons who
had studied painting least were the best judges of it; but what I
particularly wished to say to you was about Sir James Thornhill
(you know he married Sir James' daughter): I would not have you
say any thing against him; there was a book published some time
ago, abusing him, and it gave great offence. He was the first
that attempted history in England, and, I assure you, some
Germans have said that he was a very great painter. W. My work
will go no lower than the year one thousand seven hundred, and I
really have not considered whether Sir J. Thornhill will come
within my plan or not; if he does, I fear you and I shall not
agree upon his merits. H. I wish you would let me correct it;
besides; I am writing something of the same kind myself; I should
be sorry we should clash. W. I believe it is not much known what
my work is, very few persons have seen it. H. Why, it is a
critical history of painting , is it not? W. No, it is an
antiquarian history of it in England; I bought Mr. Vertue's MSS.
and, I believe, the work will not give much offence; besides, if
it does, I cannot help it: when I publish any thing, I give it to
the world to think of it as they please. H. Oh! if it is an
antiquarian work, we shall not clash; mine is a critical work; I
don't know whether I shall ever publish it. It is rather an
apology for painters. I think it is owing to the good sense of
the English that they have not painted better. W. My dear Mr.
Hogarth, I must take my leave of you, you now grow too wild--and
I left him. If I had stayed, there remained nothing but for him
to bite me. I give you my honour, this conversation is literal,
and, perhaps, as long as you have known Englishmen and painters,
You never met with any thing so distracted. I had consecrated a
line to his genius (I mean, for wit) in my preface; I shall not
erase it; but I hope nobody will ask me if he is not mad. Adieu!
(155) Sir William Pere Williams, Bart. member for Shoreham, and a
captain in Burgoyne's Dragoons. He was killed in reconnoitring
before Belleisle. Gray wrote his epitaph, at the request of Mr.
Frederick Montagu, who intended to have it inscribed on a
monument at Belleisle:--
"Here, foremost in the dangerous paths of fame,
Young Williams fought for England's fair renown;
His mind each Muse, each Grace adornd his frame,
Nor Envy dared to view him with a frown," etc.-E.
Letter 76 To George Montagu, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, May, 14, 1761. (page 125)
As I am here, and know nothing of our poor heroes at Belleisle,
who are combating rocks, mines, famine, and Mr. Pitt's obstinacy,
I will send you the victory of a heroine, but must preface it
with an apology, as it was gained over a sort of relation of
yours. Jemmy Lumley last week had a party of whist at his own
house; the combatants, Lucy Southwell, that curtseys like a bear,
Mrs. Prijean, and a Mrs. Mackenzy. They played from six In the
evening till twelve next day; Jemmy never winning one rubber, and
rising a loser of two thousand pounds. How it happened I know
not, nor why his suspicions arrived so late, but he fancied
himself cheated, and refused to pay. However, the bear had no
share in his evil surmises: on the contrary, a day or two
afterwards, he promised a dinner at Hampstead to Lucy and her
virtuous sister. As he went to the rendezvous his chaise was
stopped by somebody, who advised him not to proceed. Yet no whit
daunted, he advanced. In the garden he found The gentle
conqueress, Mrs. MacKenzy, Who accosted him in the most friendly
manner. After a few compliments, she asked if he did not intend
to pay her. "No, indeed I shan't, I shan't; your servant, your
servant."--"Shan't you?" said the fair virago; and taking a
horsewhip from beneath her hoop, she fell upon him with as much
vehemence as the Empress-queen would upon the King of Prussia, if
she could catch him alone in the garden at Hampstead. Jemmy
cried out murder; his servant,- rushed in, rescued him from the
jaws of the lioness, and carried him off in his chaise to town.
The Southwells, were already arrived, and descended on the noise
of the fray, finding nobody to pay for the dinner, and fearing
they must, set out for London too without it, though I suppose
they had prepared tin pockets to carry off all that should be
left. Mrs. Mackenzy is immortal, and in the crown-office.(156)
The other battle in my military journal happened between the
Duchess of Argyle and Lord Vere. The Duchess, who always talks
of puss and pug, and who, having lost her memory, forgets how
often she tells the same story, had tired the company at
Dorset-house with the repetition of the same story; when the
Duke's spaniel reached up into her lap, and placed his nose most
critically: "See," said she, "see, how fond all creatures are of
me." Lord Vere, who was at cards, and could not attend to them
for her gossiping, said peevishly, without turning round or
seeing where the dog was, "I suppose he smells PUSS." "What!"
said the Duchess of Argyle, in a passion, "Do you think my puss
stinks?" I believe you have not two better stories in
Don't imagine that my gallery will be prance-about-in-able, as
you expect, by the beginning of June; I do not propose to finish
it till next year, but you will see some glimpse of it, and for
the rest of Strawberry, it never was more beautiful, You must now
begin to fix your motions: I go to Lord Dacre's at the end of
this month, and to Lord Ilchester's the end of the next; between
those periods I expect you.
Saturday morning, Arlington Street.
I came to town yesterday for a party at Bedford-house, made for
Princess Amelia; the garden was open, with French horns and
clarionets, and would have been charming with one single zephyr,
that had not come from the northeast; however, the young ladies
found it delightful. There was limited loo for the Princess,
unlimited for the Duchess of Grafton, to whom I belonged, a table
of quinze, and another of quadrille. The Princess ha(f heard of
our having cold meat upon the loo-table, and would have some. A
table was brought in, she was served so, others rose by turns and
went to the cold meat; in the outward room were four little
tables for the rest of the company. Think, if King George the
Second could have risen and seen his daughter supping pell-mell
with men, as if it were in a booth! The tables were removed, the
young people began to dance to a tabor and pipe; the Princess sat
down again, but to unlimited loo; we played till three, and I won
enough to help on the gallery. I am going back to it, to give my
nieces and their lords a dinner.
We were told there was a great victory come from Pondicherry, but
it came from too far to divert us from liking our party better.
Poor George Monson has lost his leg there. You know that Sir W.
Williams has made Fred. Montagu heir to his debts. Adieu!
(156) "Sure Mr. Jonathan, or some one, has told you how your good
friend Mr. L. has been horsewhippcd, trampled, bruised, and p--d
upon, by a Mrs. Mackenzie, a sturdy Scotchwoman. it was done in
an inn-yard at Hampstead, in the face of day, and he has put her
in the crown-office. it is very true." Gray to Wharton.
Letter 77 To The Countess Of Ailesbury.
Strawberry Hill, June 13, 1761. (page 126)
I never ate such good snuff, nor smelt such delightful bonbons,
as your ladyship has sent me. Every time you rob the Duke's
dessert, does it cost you a pretty snuff-box? Do the pastors at
the Hague(157) enjoin such expensive retributions? If a man
steals a kiss there, I suppose he does penance in a sheet of
Brussels lace. The comical part is, that you own the theft, ind
sending me, but say nothing of the vehicle of your repentance.
In short, Madam, the box is the prettiest thing I ever saw, and I
give you a thousand thanks for it.
When you comfort yourself about the operas, you don't know what
you have lost; nay, nor I neither; for I was here, concluding
that a serenata for a birthday would be -is dull and as vulgar as
those festivities generally are: but I hear of nothing but the
enchantment of it.(158) There was a second orchestra in the
footman's gallery, disguised by clouds, and filled with the music
of the King'S chapel. The choristers behaved like angels, and
the harmony between the two bands was in the most exact time.
Elisi piqued himself, and beat both heaven and earth. The joys
of the year do not end there. The under-actors open at
Drury-lane to-night with a new comedy by Murphey, called "All in
the Wrong."(159) At Ranelagh, all is fireworks and skyrockets.
The birthday exceeded the splendour of Haroun Alraschid and the
Arabian Nights, when people had nothing to do but to scour a
lantern and send a genie for a hamper of diamonds and rubies. Do
you remember one of those stories, where a prince has eight
statues of diamonds, which he overlooks, because he fancies he
wants a ninth; and to his great surprise the ninth proves to be
pure flesh and blood, which he never thought of? Some how or
other, Lady Sarah(160 is the ninth statue; and, you will allow,
has better white and red than if she was made of pearls and
rubies. Oh! I forgot, I was telling you of the birthday: my Lord
P * * * * had drunk the King's health so often at dinner, that at
the ball he took Mrs. * * * * for a beautiful woman, and, as she
says, "made an improper use of his hands." The proper use of
hers, she thought, was to give him a box on the ear, though
within the verge of the court. He returned it by a push, and she
tumbled off the end of the bench; which his Majesty has accepted
as sufficient punishment, and she is not to lose her right
I enclose the list your ladyship desired: you will see that the
Plurality of Worlds" are Moore's, and of some I do not know the
authors. ' There is a late edition with these names to them.
My duchess was to set out this morning. I saw her for the last
time the day before yesterday at Lady Kildare's: never was a
journey less a party of pleasure. She was so melancholy, that
all Miss Pelham's oddness and my spirits could scarce make her
smile. Towards the end of the night, and that was three in the
morning, I did divert her a little. I slipped Pam into her lap,
and then taxed her with having it there. She was quite
confounded; but, taking it up, saw he had a Telescope in his
hand, which I had drawn, and that the card, which was split, and
just waxed together, contained these lines:
"Ye simple astronomers, lay by your glasses;
The transit of Venus has proved you all asses:
Your telescopes signify nothing to scan it;
'Tis not meant in the clouds, 'tis not meant of a planet:
The seer who foretold it mistook or deceives us,
For Venus's transit is when Grafton leaves us."
I don't send your ladyship these verses as good, but to show you
that all gallantry does not centre at the Hague.
I wish I could tell you that Stanley(162) and Bussy, by crossing
over and figuring in, had forwarded the peace. It is no more
made than Belleisle is taken. However, I flatter myself that you
will not stay abroad till you return for the coronation, which is
ordered for the beginning of October. I don't care to tell you
how lovely the season is; how my acacias are powdered with
flowers, and my hay just in its picturesque moment. Do they ever
make any other hay in Holland than bulrushes in ditches? My new
buildings rise so swiftly, that I shall have not a shilling left,
so far from giving commissions on Amsterdam. When I have made my
house so big that I don't know what to do with it, and am
entirely undone, I propose, like King Pyrrhus, who took such a
roundabout way to a bowl of punch, to sit down and enjoy myself;
but with this difference, that it is better to ruin one's self
than all the world. I am sure you would think as I do, though
Pyrrhus were King of Prussia. I long to have you bring back the
only hero that ever I could endure. Adieu, Madam! I sent you
just such another piece of tittle-tattle as this by General
Waldegrave: you are very partial to me, or very fond of knowing
every thing that passes in your own country, if you can be amused
so. If you can, 'tis surely my duty to divert you, though at the
expense of my character; for I own I am ashamed when I look back
and see four sides of paper scribbled over with nothings.
(157) Lady Ailesbury remained at the Hague while Mr. Conway was
with the army during the campaign in 1761.
(158) The music was by Cocchi. Dr. Burney says it was not
sufficiently admired to encourage the manager to perform it more
(159) 'This comedy, which came out in the summer-season at
Drury-lane, under the conduct of Foote and the author, met with
considerable success. Some of the hints are acknowledged to have
been borrowed from Moli`ere's "Cocu Imaginaire."-E.
(160) Lady Sarah Lenox.-E.
(161) The old punishment for giving a blow in the King's
(162) Mr. Hans Stanley was at this time employed in negotiating a
peace at Paris.-E.
Letter 78 To George Montagu, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, June 18, 1761. (page 128)
I am glad you will come on Monday, and hope you will arrive in a
rainbow and pair, to signify that we are not to be totally
drowned. It has rained incessantly, and floated all my new
works; I seem rather to be building a pond than a gallery. My
farm too is all under water, and what is vexatious, if Sunday had
not thrust itself between, I could have got in my hay on Monday.
As the parsons will let nobody else make hay on Sundays, I think
they ought to make it on that day themselves.
By the papers I see Mrs. Trevor Hampden is dead of the smallpox.
Will he be much concerned? If you will stay with me a fortnight
or three weeks, perhaps I may be able to carry you to a play of
Mr. Bentley's--you stare, but I am in earnest: nay, and de par le
roy. In short, here is the history of it. You know the passion
he always had for the Italian comedy; about two years ago he
wrote one, intending to get it offered to Rich, but without his
name. He would have died to be supposed an author, and writing
for gain. I kept this an inviolable secret. Judge then of my
surprise, when about a fortnight or three weeks ago, I found my
Lord Melcomb reading this very Bentleiad in a circle at my Lady
Hervey's. Cumberland had carried it to him with a recommendatory
copy of verses, containing more incense to the King and my Lord
Bute, than the magi brought in their portmanteaus to Jerusalem.
The idols were propitious, and to do them justice, there is a
great deal of wit in the piece, which is called "The Wishes, or
Harlequin's Mouth Opened."(163) A bank note of two hundred
pounds was sent from the treasury to the author, and the play
ordered to be performed by the summer company. Foote was
summoned to Lord Melcomb's, where Parnassus was composed of the
peer himself, who, like Apollo, as I am going to tell you, was
dozing, the two chief justices, and Lord B. Bubo read the play
himself, "with handkerchief and orange by his side." But the
curious part is a prologue, which I never saw. It represents the
god of verse fast asleep by the side of Helicon: the race of
modern bards try to wake him, but the more they repeat their
works, the louder he snores. At last "Ruin seize thee, ruthless
King!" is heard, and the god starts from his trance. This is a
good thought, but will offend the bards so much, that I think Dr.
Bentley's son will be abused at least @as much as his father was.
The prologue concludes with young Augustus, and how much he
excels the ancient one by the choice of his friend. Foote
refused to act this prologue, and said it was too strong.
"Indeed," said Augustus's friend, "I think it is." They have
softened it a little, and I suppose it will be performed. You
may depend upon the truth of all this; but what is much more
credible is, that the comely young author appears every night in
the Mall in a milk-white coat with a blue cape, disclaims any
benefit, and says he has done with the play now it is out of his
own hands, and that Mrs. Hannah Clio, alias Bentley, writ the
best scenes in it. He is going to write a tragedy, and she, I
suppose, is going--to court.
You will smile when I tell you that t'other day a party went to
Westminster Abbey, and among the rest saw the ragged regiment.
They inquired the names of the figures. "I don't know them," said
the man, "but if Mr. Walpole was here he could tell you every
one." Adieu! I expect Mr. John and you with impatience.
(163) This piece, founded on Fontaine's "Trois Souhaits," was
written in imitation of the Italian comedy; Harlequin, Pantaloon,
Columbine, etc. being introduced into it as speaking characters.
"Many parts of it," says the Biographia Dramatica, "exhibit very
just satire and solid sense, and give evident testimony of the
author's learning, knowledge, understanding, and critical
judgment; yet the deficiency of incident which appears in it, as
well as of that lively kind of wit which is one of the essentials
of perfect comedy, seem, in great measure, to justify that
coldness with which the piece was received by the town."-E.
Letter 79 To George Montagu, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, July 5, 1761. (page 130)
You are a pretty sort of a person to come to one's house and get
sick, only to have an excuse for not returning to it. Your
departure is so abrupt, that I don't know but I may expect to
find that Mrs. Jane Truebridge, whom you commend so much, and
call Mrs. Mary, will prove Mrs. Hannah. Mrs. Clive is still more
disappointed: she had proposed to play at quadrille with you from
dinner till supper, and to sing old Purcell to you from supper to
breakfast next morning.(164) If you cannot trust yourself from
Greatworth for a whole fortnight, how will you do in Ireland for
six months? Remember all my preachments, and never be in spirits
at supper. Seriously I am sorry you are out of order, but am
alarmed for you at Dublin, and though all the bench of bishops
should quaver Purcell's hymns, don't let them warble you into a
pint of wine. I wish you were going among catholic prelates, who
would deny you the cup. Think of me and resist temptation.
(164) Dr. Burney tells us, that Mrs. Clive's singing, "which was
intolerable when she meant to be fine, in ballad-farces and songs
of humour, was, like her comic acting, every thing it should
Letter 80 To The Earl Of Strafford.
Strawberry Hill, July 5, 1761. (page 130)
My dear lord,
I cannot live at Twickenham and not think of you: I have long
wanted to write, and had nothing to tell you. My Lady D. seems
to have lost her sting; she has neither blown up a house nor a
quarrel since you departed. Her wall, contiguous to you, is
built, but so precipitate and slanting that it seems hurrying to
take water. I hear she grows sick of her undertakings. We have
been ruined by deluges; all the country was under water. Lord
Holderness's new foss`e(165) was beaten in for several yards -
this tempest was a little beyond the dew of Hermon, that fell on
the Hill of Sion. I have been in still more danger by water: my
parroquet was on my shoulder as I was feeding my gold-fish, and
flew into the middle of the pond: I was very near being the
Nouvelle Eloise, and tumbling in after him; but with much ado I
ferried him out with my hat.
Lord Edgecumbe has had a fit of apoplexy; your brother
Charles(166) a bad return of his old complaint; and Lord Melcombe
has tumbled down the kitchen stairs, and--waked himself.
London is a desert; no soul in it but the king. Bussy has taken
a temporary house. The world talks of peace-would I could
believe it! every newspaper frightens me: Mr. Conway would be
very angry if he knew how I dread the very name of the Prince de
We begin to perceive the tower of Kew(167) from Montpellier in a
fortnight you will see it in Yorkshire.
The Apostle Whitfield is come to some shame: he went to Lady
Huntingdon lately, and asked for forty pounds for some distressed
saint or other. She said she had not so much money in the house,
but would give it him the first time she had. He was very
pressing, but in vain. At last he said, "There's your watch and
trinkets, you don't want such vanities; I will have that." She
would have put him off- but he persisting, she said, "Well, if
you must have it, you must." About a fortnight afterwards, going
to his house, and being carried into his wife's chamber, among
the paraphernalia of the latter the Countess found her own
offering. This has made a terrible schism: she tells the story
herself--I had not it from Saint Frances,(168) but I hope it is
true. Adieu, my dear lord!
P. S. My gallery sends its humble duty to your new front, and all
my creatures beg their respects to my lady.
(165) At Sion-hill, near Brentford.
(166) Charles Townshend, married to Lady Greenwich, eldest sister
to Lady Strafford.
(167) The pagoda in the royal garden at Kew.
(168) Lady Frances Shirley.
Letter 81 To The Hon. H. S. Conway.
Arlington Street, July 14, 1761. (page 131)
My dearest Harry,
How could you write me such a cold letter as I have just received
from you, and beginning Dear sir! Can you be angry with me, for
can I be in fault to you? Blamable in ten thousand other
respects, may not I almost say I am perfect with regard to you'?
Since I was fifteen have I not loved you unalterably? Since I
was capable of knowing your merit, has not my admiration been
veneration? For what could so much affection and esteem change?
Have not your honour, your interest, your safety been ever my
first objects? Oh, Harry! if you knew what I have felt and am
feeling about you, would you charge me with neglect? If I have
seen a person since you went, to whom my first question has not
been, "What do you hear of the peace?" you would have reason to
blame me. You say I write very seldom: I will tell you what, I
should almost be sorry to have you see the anxiety I have
expressed about you in letters to every body else. No; I must
except Lady Ailesbury, and there is not another on earth who
loves you so well, and is so attentive to whatever relates to
With regard to writing, this is exactly the case.- I had nothing
to tell you; nothing has happened; and where you are I was
cautious of writing. Having neither hopes nor fears, I always
write the thoughts of the moment, and even laugh to divert the
person I am writing to, without any ill will on the subjects I
mention. But in your situation that frankness might be
prejudicial to you: and to write grave unmeaning letters, I
trusted you was too secure of' me either to like them or desire
them. I knew no news, nor could: I have lived quite alone at
Strawberry; am connected with no court, ministers, or party;
consequently heard nothing, and events there have been none. I
have not even for this month heard my Lady Townshend's extempore
gazette. All the morning I play with my workmen or animals, go
regularly every evening to the meadows with Mrs. Clive, or sit
with my Lady Suffolk, and at night scribble my Painters-What a
journal to send you! I write more trifling letters than any man
living; am ashamed of them, and yet they are expected of me.
You, my Lady Ailesbury, your brother, Sir Horace Mann, George
Montagu, Lord Strafford-all expect I should write--Of what? I
live less and less in the world, care for it less and less, and
yet am thus obliged to inquire what it is doing. Do make these
allowances for me, and remember half your letters go to my Lady
Ailesbury. I writ to her of the King's marriage, concluding she
would send it to you: tiresome as it would be, I will copy my own
letters, if you it; for I will do any thing rather than disoblige
you. I will send you a diary of the Duke of York's balls and
Ranelaghs, inform you of how many children my Lady Berkeley is
with child, and how many races my nephew goes to. No; I will
not, you do not want such proofs of my friendship.
The papers tell us you are retiring, and I was glad? You seem to
expect an action--Can this give me spirits? Can I write to you
joyfully, and fear? Or is it fit Prince Ferdinand should know
you have a friend that is as great a coward about you as your
wife? The only reason for my silence that can not be true, is,
that I forget you. When I am prudent or cautious, it is no
symptom of my being indifferent. Indifference does not happen in
friendships, as it does in passions; and if I was young enough,
or feeble enough to cease to love you, I would not for my own
sake let it be known. Your virtues are my greatest pride; I have
done myself so much honour by them, that I will not let it be
known you have been peevish with me unreasonably. Pray God we
may have peace, that I may scold you for it!
The King's marriage was kept the profoundest secret till last
Wednesday, when the privy council was extraordinarily summoned,
and it was notified to them. Since that, the new Queen's mother
is dead, and will delay it a few days; but Lord Harcourt is to
sail on the 27th, and the coronation will certainly be on the 22d
of September. All that I know fixed is, Lord Harcourt master of
the horse, the Duke of Manchester chamberlain, and Mr. Stone
treasurer. Lists there are in abundance; I don't know the
authentic: those most talked of, are Lady Bute groom of the
stole, the Duchesses of Hamilton and Ancaster, Lady
Northumberland, Bolingbroke, Weymouth, Scarborough, Abergavenny,
Effingham, for ladies; you may choose any six of them you please;
the four first are most probable. Misses Henry Beauclerc, M.
Howe, Meadows, Wrottesley, Bishop, etc. etc. Choose your maids
too. Bedchainber women, Mrs. Bloodworth, Robert Brudenel,
Charlotte Dives, Lady Erskine; in short, I repeat a mere
We expect the final answer of France this week. Bussy(169) was
in great pain on the fireworks for quebec, lest he should be
obliged to illuminate his house: you see I ransack my memory for
something to tell you.
Adieu! I have more reason to be angry than you had; but I am not
so hasty: you are of a violent, impetuous, jealous temper--I,
cool, sedate, reasonable. I believe I must subscribe my name, or
you will not know me by this description.
(169) The Abb`e de Bussy, sent here with overtures of peace. Mr.
Stanley was at the same time sent to Paris.
Letter 82 To George Montagu, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, Friday night, July 16, 1761. (page 133)
I did not notify the King's marriage to you yesterday, because I
knew you would learn as much by the evening post as I could tell
you. The solemn manner of summoning the council was very
extraordinary: people little imagined, that the urgent and
important business in the rescript was to acquaint them that his
Majesty was going to * * * * * * * *. All I can tell you of
truth is, that Lord Harcourt goes to fetch the Princess, and
comes back her master of the horse. She is to be here in August,
and the coronation certainly on the 22d of September. Think of
the joy the women feel; there is not a Scotch peer in the fleet
that might not marry the greatest fortune in England between this
and the 22d of September. However, the ceremony will lose its
two brightest luminaries, my niece Waldegrave for beauty, and the
Duchess of Grafton for figure. The first will be lying-in, the
latter at Geneva; but I think she will come, if she walks to It
as well as at it. I cannot recollect but Lady Kildare and Lady
Pembroke of great beauties. Mrs. Bloodworth and Mrs. Robert
Brudenel, bedchamber women, Miss Wrottesley and Miss Meadows,
maids of honour, go to receive the Princess at Helvoet; what lady
I do not hear. Your cousin's Grace of Manchester, they say, is
to be chamberlain, and Mr. Stone, treasurer; the Duchess of
Ancaster and Lady Bolingbroke of her bedchamber: these I do not
know are certain, but hitherto all seems well chosen. Miss Molly
Howe, one of the pretty Bishops, and a daughter of Lady Harry
Beauclerc, are talked of for maids of honour. The great
apartment at St. James's is enlarging, and to be furnished with
the pictures from Kensington : this does not portend a new
In the midst of all this novelty and hurry, my mind is very
differently employed. They expect every minute the news of a
battle between Soubise and the hereditary Prince. Mr. Conway, I
believe, is in the latter army; judge if I can be thinking much
of espousals and coronations! It is terrible to be forced to sit
still, expecting such an event; in one's own room one is not
obliged to be a hero; consequently, I tremble for one that is
really a hero.
Mr. Hamilton, your secretary, has been to see me to-day; I am
quite ashamed not to have prevented him. I will go to-morrow
with all the speeches I can muster.
I am sorry neither you nor your brother are quite well, but shall
be content if my Pythagorean sermons have any weight with you.
You go to Ireland to make the rest of your life happy; don't go
to fling the rest of it away. Good night!
Mr. Chute is gone to his Chutehood.
Letter 83 To The Countess Of Ailesbury.
Strawberry Hill, July 20, 1761. (page 134)
I blush, dear Madam, on observing that half my letters to your
ladyship are prefaced with thanks for presents:-don't mistake; I
am not ashamed of thanking you, but of having so many occasions
for it. Monsieur Hop has sent me the piece of china: I admire it
as much as possible, and intend to like him as much as ever I can
but hitherto I have not seen him, not having been in town since
Could I have believed that the Hague would so easily compensate
for England? nay, for Park-place! Adieu, all our agreeable
suppers! Instead of Lady Cecilia's(170) French songs, we shall
have Madame Welderen(171) quavering a confusion of d's and t's,
b's and p's--Bourquoi s`cais du blaire?(172)--Worse than that, I
expect to meet all my relations at your house, and Sir Samson
Gideon instead of Charles Townshend. You will laugh like Mrs.
Tipkin(173) when a Dutch Jew tells you that he bought at two and
a half per cent. and sold at four. Come back, if you have any
taste left: you had better be here talking robes, ermine, and
tissue, Jewels and tresses, as all the world does, than own you
are corrupted. Did you receive my notification of the new Queen?
Her mother is dead, and she will not be here before the end of
My mind is much more at peace about Mr. Conway than it was.
Nobody thinks there will be a battle, as the French did not
attack them when both armies shifted camps; and since that,
Soubise has entrenched himself up to the whiskers:--whiskers I
think he has, I have been so afraid of him! Yet our hopes of
meeting are still very distant: the peace does not advance; and
if Europe has a stiuer left in its pockets, the war will
continue; though happily all parties have been so scratched, that
they only sit and look anger at one another, like a dog and cat
that don't care to begin again.
We are in danger of losing our sociable box at the Opera. The
new Queen is very musical, and if Mr. Deputy Hodges and the city
don't exert their veto, will probably go to the Haymarket.
George Pitt, in imitation of the Adonises in Tanzai's retinue,
has asked to be her Majesty's grand harper. Dieu s`cait quelle
raclerie il y aura! All the guitars are untuned; and if Miss
Conway has a mind to be in fashion at her return, she must take
some David or other to teach her the new twing twang, twing twing
twang. As I am still desirous of being in fashion with your
ladyship, and am, over and above, very grateful, I keep no
company but my Lady Denbigh and Lady Blandford, and learn every
evening, for two hours, to mask my English. Already I am
tolerably fluent in saying she for he.(174)
Good night, Madam! I have no news to send you: one cannot
announce a royal wedding and a coronation every post.
P. S. Pray, Madam, do the gnats bite your legs? Mine are swelled
as big as one, which is saying a deal for me.
I HAD writ this, and was not time enough for the mail, when I
receive your charming note, and this magnificent victory!(175)
Oh! my dear Madam, how I thank you, how I congratulate you, how I
feel for you, how I have felt for you and for myself! But I
bought it by two terrible hours to-day--I heard of the battle two
hours before I could learn a word of Mr. Conway--I sent all round
the world, and went half around it myself. I have cried and
laughed, trembled and danced, as you bid me. If you had sent me
as much old china as King Augustus gave two regiments for, I
should not be half so much obliged to you as for your note. How
could you think of me, when you had so much reason to think of
nothing but yourself?--And then they say virtue is not rewarded
in this world. I will preach at Paul's Cross, and quote you and
Mr. Conway; no two persons were ever so good and happy. In
short, I am serious in the height of all my joy. God is very
good to you, my dear Madam; I thank him for you; I thank him for
myself: it is very unalloyed pleasure we taste at this moment!-
-Good night! My heart is so expanded, I could write to the last
scrap of my paper; but I won't. Yours most entirely.
(170) Lady Cecilia West, daughter of John Earl of Delawar,
afterwards married to General James Johnston.
(171) Wife of the Count de Welderen, one of the lords of the
States of Holland.-E.
(172) The first words of a favourite French air, with Madame
Welderen's confusion of p's, t's' etc.
(173) A character in Steele's comedy of The Tender Husband, or
the Accomplished Fools brought out at Drury-lane in 1709.-E.
(174) A mistake which these ladies, who were both Dutch women,
(175) The battle of Kirckdenckirck, on the 15th and 16th of July,
in which the allied army, under Prince Ferdinand, gained a great
victory over the French, under the Prince of Soubise.-E.
Letter 84 To The Earl Of Strafford.
Strawberry Hill, July 22, 1761. (page 136)
My dear lord,
I love to be able to contribute to your satisfaction, and I think
few things would make you happier than to hear that we have
totally defeated the French combined armies, and that Mr. Conway
is safe. The account came this morning: I had a short note from
my poor Lady Ailesbury, who was waked with the good news before
she had heard there had been a battle. I don't pretend to send
you circumstances, no more than I do of the wedding and
coronation, because you have relations and friends in town nearer
and better informed. indeed, only the blossom of victory is come
yet. Fitzroy is expected, and another fuller courier after him.
Lord Granby, to the mob's heart's content, has the chief honour
of the day--rather, of the two days. The French behaved to the
mob's content too, that is, shamefully: and all this glory
cheaply bought on our side. Lieutenant-colonel Keith killed, and
Colonel Marlay and Harry Townshend wounded. If it produces a
peace, I shall be happy for mankind--if not, shall content myself
with the single but pure joy of Mr. Conway's being safe.
Well! my lord, when do you come? You don't like the question, but
kings will be married and must be crowned-and if people will be
earls, they must now and then give up castles and new fronts for
processions and ermine. By the way, the number of peeresses that
propose to excuse themselves makes great noise; especially as so
many are breeding, or trying to breed, by commoners, that they
cannot walk. I hear that my Lord Delawar, concluding all women
would not dislike the ceremony, is negotiating his peerage in the
city, and trying if any great fortune will give fifty thousand
pounds for one day, as they often do for one night. I saw Miss
this evening at my Lady Suffolk's, and fancy she does not think
my Lord quite so ugly as she did two months ago. Adieu, my lord!
This is a splendid year!
Letter 85 To George Montagu, Esq.
Strawberry Hill, July 22, 1761. (page 136)
For my part, I believe Mademoiselle Scuderi drew the plan of this
year. It is all royal marriages, coronations, and victories;
they come tumbling so over one another from distant parts of the
globe, that it looks just like the handywork of a lady romance
writer, whom it costs nothing but a little false geography to
make the Great Mogul in love with a Princess of Mecklenburg, and
defeat two marshals of France as he rides post on an elephant to
his nuptials. I don't know where I am. I had scarce found
Mecklenburg Strelitz(176) with a magnifying-glass before I am
whisked to Pondicherri(177)--well, I take it, and raze it. I
begin to grow acquainted with Colonel Coote, and to figure him
packing up chests and diamonds, and sending them to his wife
against the King's wedding--thunder go the Tower guns, and
behold, Broglio and Soubise are totally defeated; if the mob have
not much stronger heads and quicker conceptions than I have, they
-will conclude my Lord Granby is become nabob. How the deuce in
two days can one digest all this? Why is not Pondicherri in
Westphalia? I don't know how the Romans did, but I cannot
support two victories every week. Well, but you will want to
know the particulars. Broglio and Soubise united, attacked our
army on the 15th, but were repulsed; the next day, the Prince
Mahomet Alli d Cawn--no, no, I mean Prince Ferdinand, returned
the attack, and the French threw down their arms and fled, run
over my Lord Harcourt, who was going to fetch the new Queen; in
short, I don't know how it was, but Mr. Conway is safe, and I am
as happy as Mr. Pitt himself. We have only lost a
Lieutenant-colonel Keith; Colonel Marlay and Harry Townshend are
I could beat myself for not having a flag ready to display on my
round tower, and guns mounted on all m@battlements. Instead of
that, I have been foolishly trying on My new pictures upon my
gallery. However, the oratory of our Lady of Strawberry shall be
dedicated next year on the anniversary of Mr. Conway's safety.
Think with his intrepidity, and delicacy of honour wounded, what
I had to apprehend; you shall absolutely be here on the sixteenth
of next July. Mr. Hamilton tells me your King does not set out
for his new dominions till the day after the coronation; if you
will come to it, I can give you a very good place for the
procession; which is a profound secret, because, if known, I
should be teased to death, and none but my first friends shall be
admitted. I dined with your secretary yesterday; there were
Garrick and a young Mr. Burke, who wrote a book in
the style of Lord Bolingbroke, that was much admired.(178) He is
a sensible man, but has not worn off his authorism yet, and
thinks there is nothing so charming as writers, and to be one.
He will know better one of these days. I like Hamilton's little
Marly; we walked in the great all`ee, and drank tea in the arbour
of treillage; they talked of Shakspeare and Booth, of Swift and
my Lord Bath, and I was thinking of Madame S`evign`e,-. Good
night! I have a dozen other letters to write; I must tell my
friends how happy I am--not as an Englishman, but as a cousin.
(176) The King had just announced his intention of demanding in
marriage the Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg Strelitz.-E.
(177) the news of the capture of Pondicherry had only arrived on
the preceding day.-E.
(178) Mr. Burke's "Vindication of Natural Society," in imitation
of Lord Bolingbroke's style, which came out in the spring of
1756, was his first avowed production.-E.
Letter 86 To The Hon. H. S. Conway.
Strawberry Hill, July 23, 1761. (page 138)
Well, mon beau cousin! you may be as cross as you please now.
when you beat two Marshals of France and cut their armies to
pieces, I don't mind your pouting; but in good truth, it was a
little vexatious to have you quarrelling with me, when I was in
greater pain about you than I can express. I Will Say no more;
make a peace, under the walls of Paris if you please, and I will
forgive you all--but no more battles: consider, as Dr. Hay said,
it is cowardly to beat the French now.
Don't look upon yourselves as the only conquerors in the world.
Pondicherri is ours, as well as the field of KirkDenckirk. The
park guns never have time to cool; we ruin ourselves in gunpowder
and skyrockets. If you have a mind to do the gallantest thing in
the world after the greatest, you must escort the Princess of
Mecklenburgh through France. You see what a bully I am; the
moment the French run away, I am sending you on expeditions. I
forgot to tell you that the King has got the isle of Dominique
and the chickenpox, two trifles that don't count in the midst of
all these festivities. No more does your letter of the 8th,
which I received yesterday: it is the one that is to come after
the 16th, that I shall receive graciously.
Not satisfied with the rays of glory that reached Twickenham, I
came to town to bask in your success; but am most disagreeably
disappointed to find you must beat the French once more, who seem
to love to treat the English mob with subjects for bonfires. I
had got over such an alarm, that I foolishly ran into the other
extreme, and concluded there was not a French battalion left
entire upon the face of Germany. Do write to me; don't be out of
humour, but tell me every motion you make: I assure you I have
deserved you should. Would you were out of the question, if it
were only that I might feel a little humanity! There is not a
blacksmith or linkboy in London that exults more than I do, upon
any good news, since you went abroad. What have I to do to hate
people I never saw, and to rejoice in their calamities? Heaven
send us peace, and you home! Adieu!
Letter 87 To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, July 28, 1761. (page 138)
No, I shall never cease being a dupe, till I have been undeceived
round by every thing that calls itself a virtue. I came to town
yesterday, through clouds of dust, to see The Wishes, and went
actually feeling for Mr. Bentley, and full of the emotions he
must be suffering. What do you think, in a house crowded, was
the first thing I saw? Mr. and Madame Bentley, perched up in the
front boxes, and acting audience at his own play! No, all the
impudence of false patriotism never came up to it. Did one ever
hear of an author that had courage to see his own first night in
public'? I don't believe Fielding or Foote himself ever did; and
this was the modest, bashful Mr. BenTley, that died at the
thought of being known for an author even by his own
acquaintance! In the stage-box was Lady Bute, Lord Halifax, and
Lord Melcombe. I must say, the two last entertained the house as
much as the play; your King was prompter, and called out to the
actor every minute to speak louder. The other went backwards,
behind the scenes, fetched the actors into the box, and was
busier than Harlequin. The curious prologue was not spoken, the
whole very ill acted. It turned out just what I remembered it;
the good extremely good, the rest very flat and vulgar; the
genteel dialogue, I believe, might be written by Mrs. Hannah.
The audience were extremely fair: the first act they bore with
patience, though it promised very ill; the second is admirable,
and was much applauded; so was the third; the fourth-woful; the
beginning of the fifth it seemed expiring, but was revived by a
delightful burlesque of the ancient chorus, which was followed by
two dismal scenes, at which people yawned, but were awakened on a
sudden by Harlequin's being drawn up to a gibbet, nobody knew why
or wherefore - this raised a prodigious and continued hiss,
Harlequin all the while suspended in the air,--at last they were
suffered to finish the play, but nobody attended to the
conclusion.(179) Modesty and his lady all the while sat with the
utmost indifference; I suppose Lord Melcombe had fallen asleep
before he came to this scene, and had never read it. The
epilogue was the King and new queen, and ended with a personal
satire on Garrick: not very kind on his own stage To add to the
judgment of his conduct, Cumberland two days ago published a
pamphlet to abuse him. It was given out for to-night with rather
more claps than hisses, but I think will not do unless they
reduce it to three acts.
I am sorry you will not come to the coronation. The place I
offered I am not sure I can get for any body else; I cannot
explain it to you, because I am engaged to secrecy: if I can get
it for your brother John I will, but don't tell him of it,
because it is not sure. Adieu!
(179) The piece was coldly received by the town. Cumberland says
that, "when the last of the three Wishes produced the ridiculous
catastrophe of the hanging of Harlequin in full view of the
audience, my uncle, the author, then sitting by me, whispered in
my ear, 'If they don't damn this they deserve to be damned
themselves;' and whilst he was yet speaking the roar began, and
The Wishes were irrevocably damned."-E.
Letter 88 To The Hon. H. S. Conway.
Strawberry Hill. (page 140)
This is the 5th of August, and I just receive your letter of the
17th of last month by Fitzroy.(180) I heard he had lost his
pocket-book with all his despatches, but had found it again. He
was a long time finding the letter for me.
You do nothing but reproach me; I declare I will bear it no
longer, though you should beat forty more Marshals of France. I
have already writ you two letters that would fully justify me if
you receive them; if you do not, it is not I that am in fault for
not writing, but the post-offices for reading my letters, content
if they would forward them when they have done with them. They
seem to think, like you that I know more news than any body.
What is to be known in the dead of summer, when all the world is
dispersed? Would you know who won the sweepstakes at Huntingdon?
what parties are at Woburn? what officers upon guard in Betty's