Part 8 out of 17
has in several instances been very obliging to me, there is a
good humour and an industry about him that are very uncommon. I
do not admire politicians; but when they are excellent in their
way, one cannot help allowing them their due. Nobody but he
could have struck a stroke like this.
Yesterday we sat till eight on the address, which yet passed
without a negative - we had two very long speeches from Mr. Pitt
and Mr. Grenville; many fine parts in each. Mr. Pitt has given
the latter some strong words, yet not so many as were
expected.(355) To-morrow we go on the great question 'of
privilege; but I must send this away, as we have no chance of
leaving the House before midnight, if before next morning.
This long letter contains the history of but two days; yet if two
days furnish a history, it is not my fault. The ministry, I
think, may do whatever they please. Three hundred, that will
give up their own privileges, may be depended upon for giving up
any thing else. I have not time or room to ask a question, or
say a word more.
Nov. 18, Friday.
I have luckily got a holiday, and can continue my despatch, as
you know dinner time is my chief hour of business. The Speaker,
unlike Mr. Onslow, who was immortal in the chair, is taken very
ill, and our House is adjourned to Monday. Wilkes is thought in
great danger: instead of keeping him quiet, his friends have
shown their zeal by him, and himself has been all spirits and
riot, and sat in his bed the next morning to correct the press
for to-morrow's North Briton. His bon-mots are all over the
town, but too gross, I think, to repeat; the chief' are at the
expense of poor Lord George.(356) Notwithstanding Lord
Sandwich's masked battery, the tide runs violently for Wilkes,
and I do not find people in general so inclined to excuse his
lordship as I was. One hears nothing but
stories of the latter's impiety, and of the concert he was In
with Wilkes on that subject. Should this hero die, the Bishop of
Gloucester may doom him whither he pleases, but Wilkes will pass
for a saint and a martyr.
Besides what I have mentioned, there were two or three passages
in the House of Lords that were diverting. Lord Temple dwelled
much on the Spanish ministry being devoted to France. Lord
Halifax replied, "Can we help that? We can no more oblige the
King of Spain to change his ministers, than his lordship can
force his Majesty to change the present administration." Lord
Gower, too, attacking Lord Temple on want of respect to the King,
the Earl replied, "he never had wanted respect for the King: he
and his family had been attached to the house of Hanover full as
long as his lordship's family had."(357)
You may imagine that little is talked of but Wilkes, and what
relates to him. Indeed, I believe there is no other news, but
that Sir George Warren marries Miss Bishop, the maid of honour.
The Duchess Of Grafton is at Euston, and hopes to stay there till
after Christmas. Operas do not begin till tomorrow se'nnight;
but the Mingotti is to sing, and that contents me. I forgot to
tell you, and you may Wonder at hearing nothing Of the Reverend
Mr. Charles Pylades,(358) while Mr. John Orestes is making such a
figure: but Dr. Pylades, the poet, has forsaken his consort and
the Muses, and is gone off with a stonecutter's daughter.(359)
If he should come and offer himself to you for chaplain to the
The Countess of Harrington was extremely alarmed last Sunday,, on
seeing the Duc de Prequigny enter her assembly: she forbade Lady
Caroline(360) speaking to such a debauched young man, and
communicated her fright to everybody. The Duchess of Bedford
observed to me that as Lady Berkeley(361) and some other matrons
of the same stamp were there, she thought there was no danger of
any violence being committed. For my part, the sisters are so
different, that I conclude my Lady Hertford has not found any
young man in France wild enough for her. Your counterpart, M. de
Guerchy, takes extremely. I have not yet seen his wife.
I this minute receive your charming long letter of the 11th, and
give you a thousand thanks for it. I wish next Tuesday was past,
for Lady Hertford's sake. You may depend on my letting you know,
if I hear the least rumour in your disfavour. I shall do so
without your orders, for I could not bear to have you traduced
and not advertise you to defend yourself. I have hitherto not
syllable; but the newspapers talk of your magnificence, and I
approve extremely your intending to support their evidence; for
though I do not think it necessary to scatter pearls and diamonds
about the streets like their vice-majesties(362), of Ireland, one
owes it to one's self and to the King's choice to prove it was
The colour given at Paris to Bunbury's(363) stay in England has
been given out here too. You need not, I think, trouble yourself
about that; a majority of three hundred will soon show, that if
he was detained, the reason at least no longer subsists.
Hamilton is certainly returning from Ireland. Lord
Shannon's(364) son is going to marry the Speaker's daughter, and
the Primate has begged to have the honour of Joining their hands.
This letter is wofullv blotted and ill-written, yet I must say it
is print compared to your lordship's. At first I thought you had
forgot that you was not writing to the secretary of state, and
had put it into cipher. Adieu! I am neither, dead of my fever
nor apoplexy, nay, nor of the House of Commons. I rather think
the violent heat of the latter did me good. Lady Ailesbury was
at court yesterday, and benignly received;(365) a circumstance
you will not dislike.
P.S. If I have not told you all you want to know, interrogate me,
and I will answer the next post.
(341) Parliament met on the 15th of November. The public mind
was at this moment in a considerable ferment, and the King's
speech invited Parliament "to discourage that licentious spirit
which is repugnant to the true principles of liberty and of this
happy constitution." It was expected that these words would, from
their being understood as a direct attack on Mr. Wilkes, have
opened a debate on his question, which was then uppermost in
every mind; but the opposition were unwilling to put themselves
under the disadvantage of opposing the address and of excepting
against words, which, in their general meaning were
unexceptionable; they, therefore, had recourse to the proceedings
so well described in this letter.-C.
(342) He means, that parties were so violent that the members
seemed inclined to come to blows.-C.
(343) The King's speech, which is now read at the house of the
minister, to a selection of the friends of government, was
formerly read at the Cockpit, and all who chose attended.-C.
(344) "Yet oh, my sons! a father's words attend;
So may the Fates preserve the ears you lend."-E.
(345) "As soon as the members were sworn at the table, Mr. Wilkes
and Mr. Grenville then a chancellor of the exchequer, arose in
their places, the first to make a complaint of a breach of
privilege in having been imprisoned, etc.; and Mr. Grenville, to
communicate to the House a message from the King, which related
to the privileges of the House: the Speaker at the same time
acquainted the House, that the clerk had prepared a bill, and
submitted it to them, whether, in point of form, the reading of
the bill should not be the first proceeding towards opening the
session. A very long debate ensued, which of these three matters
ought to have the precedence,, -and at last it was carried in
favour of the bill." Hatsell's Precedents, vol. ii. p. 77.-E.
(346) Afterwards Lord Sydney. The Townshends were supposed to be
very unsteady, if not fickle, in their political conduct; a
circumstance which gives point to Goldsmith's mention of this Mr.
Townshend in his character of Burke:-
"----yet straining his throat
To persuade Tommy Townshend to lend him a vote."-C.
(347) Henry Seymour Conway, only brother of Lord Hertford, at
this time a groom of the bedchamber, lieutenant-general in the
army, and colonel of the first regiment of dragoons. He was, as
we will see, in consequence of his opposition to government on
these questions, dismissed both from court and his regiment: but
he became, on a change of ministers in 1765, secretary of state;
and in 1772 was promoted to be a general; and in 1793 a
(348) Lord North was at this time one of the junior lords of the
(349) Samuel Martin, Esq. Member for Camelford. He had been
secretary of the treasury during the Duke of Newcastle's and Lord
(350) These lines, and two others, usually appended to them--
"He that is in battle slain
Can never rise to fight again,"
are not in Hudibras. Butler has the same thought in two lines--
"For those that fly may fight again,
Which he can never do that's slain."
Par. iii. Cant. 3, 1. 243.-C.
(351) At the coronation, Lord Talbot, as lord steward, appeared
on horseback in Westminster-hall. His horse had been, at
numerous rehearsals, so assiduously trained to perform what was
thought the most difficult part of his duty, namely, the retiring
backwards from the royal table, that, at the ceremony itself, no
art of his rider could prevent the too docile animal from making
his approaches to the royal presence tail foremost. This
ridiculous incident, was the occasion of some sarcastic remarks
in the North Briton, of the 21st August, which led to a
correspondence between Lord Talbot and Mr. Wilkes, and ultimately
to a duel in the garden of the Red Lion Inn, at Bagshot, Mr.
Wilkes proposed that the parties should sup together that night,
and fight next morning. Lord Talbot insisted on fighting
immediately. This altercation, and some delay of Wilkes in
writing papers, which (not expecting, he said, to take the field
before morning) he had left unfinished, delayed the affair till
dusk, and after the innocuous exchange of shots by moonlight, the
parties shook hands, and supped together at the inn with a great
deal of jollity.-C.
(352) A young Scotch officer of the name of Forbes, fastened a
quarrel on Mr. Wilkes, in Paris, for having written against
Scotland, and insisted on his fighting him. Wilkes declined
until he should have settled an engagement of the same nature
which he had with Lord Egremont. Just at this time Lord Egremont
died, and Wilkes immediately offered to meet Captain Forbes at
Menin, in Flanders. By some mistake Forbes did not appear, and
the affair blew over. A long controversy was kept up on the
subject by partisans in the newspapers; but on the whole it is
impossible to deny that Forbes's conduct was nasty and foolish,
and that Wilkes behaved himself like a man of temper and
(353) At this time secretary of state. " It is a great mercy,"
says Lord Chesterfield, in a letter to his son, of the 3d of
December, "that Mr. Wilkes, the intrepid defender of our rights
and liberties, is out of danger; and it is no less a mercy, that
God hath raised up the Earl of Sandwich, to vindicate true
religion and morality. These two blessings will justly make an
epocha in the annals affairs country."-E.
(354) The Bishop of Gloucester, whose laborious commentaries on
Pope's Essay on Man gave Wilkes the idea of fathering on him the
notes on the Essay on Woman.-C.
(355) Dr. Birch, in a letter to Lord Royston, gives the following
account of what passed in the House of Lords on this occasion:-
-"The session commenced with a complaint made by Lord Sandwich
against Mr. Wilkes for a breach of privilege in being the author
of a poem full of obscenity and blasphemy, intitled 'An Essay on
Woman,' with notes, under the name of the Bishop of Gloucester.
His letters, which discovered the piece was his, had been seized
at Kearsley's the bookseller, when the latter was taken up for
publishing No. 45 of the North Briton. Lord Temple and Lord
Sandys objected to the reading letters, till the secretary of
state's warrant, by which Kearsley had been arrested, had been
produced and shown to be a legal act; but this objection being
overruled, the Lords voted the Essay a most scandalous, obscene,
and impious libel, and adjourned the farther consideration of the
subject, as far as concerned the author, till the Thursday
Lord Barrington, in a letter to Sir Andrew Mitchell, gives the
following account of Mr. Pitt's speech:--"He spoke with great
ability, and the utmost degree of temper: he spoke civilly, and
not unfairly, of the ministers; but of the King he said every
thing which duty and affection could inspire. The effect of this
was a vote for an address, nem. con. I think, if fifty thousand
pounds had been given for that speech, it would have been well
expended. It secures us a quiet session." See Chatham
Correspondence, Vol. ii. p. 262.-E.
(356) Probably Lord George Sackville, so disagreeably celebrated
for his conduct at Minden; afterwards a peer, by the title of
Lord Sackville, and secretary of state. In the North Briton
which was in preparation when Wilkes was taken up, he advised
that Lord George should carry the sword before the King at an
intended thanksgiving. Of all the persons suspected of being the
author of Junius, Lord George Sackville seems the most
probable.-C. ["It is peculiarly hostile to the opinion in favour
of Lord George, that Junius should roundly have accused him of
want of courage." Woodfall's Junius, Vol. i. P. 161.]
(357) Lord Gower had been reputed the head of the Jacobites. Sir
C. H. Williams sneeringly calls him "Hanoverian Gower;" and when
he accepted office from the house of Brunswick, all the Jacobites
in England were mortified and enraged. Dr. Johnson, a steady
Tory, was, when compiling his Dictionary, with difficulty
persuaded not to add to his explanation of the word
deserter--"Sometimes it is called a Go'er."-C. ["Talking," says
Boswell, "upon this subject, Dr. Johnson mentioned to me a
stronger instance of the predominance
of his private feelings in the composition of this work than any
now to be found in it: 'You know, Sir, Lord Gower forsook the old
Jacobite interest: when I came to the word renegades after
telling what it meant, one who deserts to the enemy, a revolter,
I added, sometimes we Say a GOWER: thus it went to the press; but
the printer had more wit than I, and struck it out.'" Croker's
(358) Churchill the satirist and Wilkes; of whom Mr. Southey, in
his Life of Cowper, relates the following anecdote:--"Churchill
became Wilkes's coadjutor in the North Briton; and the
publishers, when examined before the privy council on the
publication of No. 45, having declared that Wilkes gave orders
for the printing, and Churchill received the profits from the
sale, orders were given for arresting Churchill under the general
warrant. He was saved from arrest by Wilkes's presence of mind,
who was in custody of the messenger when Churchill entered the
room. 'Good morning, Thompson,' said Wilkes to him: 'how does
Mrs. Thompson do? Does she dine in the country?' Churchill took
the hint as readily as it had been given. He replied, that Mrs.
Thompson was waiting for him, and that he only came for a moment,
to ask him how he did. Then almost directly he took his leave,
hastened home, secured his papers, retired into the Country, and
eluded all search."-E.
(359) Mr. Southey states, that "a fortnight had not elapsed
before both parties were struck with sincere compunction, and
through the intercession of a true friend, at their entreaty, the
unhappy penitent was received by her father: it is said she would
have proved worthy of this parental forgiveness, if an elder
sister had not, by continual taunt,; and reproaches, rendered her
life so miserable, that, in absolute despair, she threw herself
upon Churchill for protection. Instead of making a just
provision forher, which his means would have allowed, he received
her as his mistress. If all his other writings were forgotten,
the lines in which he expressed his compunction for his conduct
would deserve always to be remembered--
"Tis not the babbling of a busy world,
Where praise and censure are at random hurl'd,
Which can the meanest of my thoughts control,
one settled purpose of my soul;
Free and at large might their wild curses roam,
If all, if all, alas! were well at home.
No; 'tis the tale which angry conscience tells,
When she, with more than tragic horror, swells
Each circumstance of guilt; when stern, but true,
She brings bad action.,; full into review,
And, like the dread handwriting on the wall,
Bids late remorse awake at reason's call;
Arm'd at all points, bids scorpion vengeance pass,
And to the mind holds up reflection's glass--
The mind, which starting heaves the heartfelt groan,
And hates that form she knows to be her own.'"-E.
(360) Her eldest daughter, afterwards Viscountess Fortrose . she
died in 1767, at the age of twenty.-E.
(361) Elizabeth Drax, wife of Augustus, fourth Earl Berkeley; she
had been lady of the bedchamber to the Princess-dowager.-E.
(362) Hugh Earl, and afterwards Duke of Northumberland, and his
lady, Elizabeth Seymour, only surviving child of Algernon Duke of
Somerset, and heiress, by her grandmother, of the Percies.-E.
(363) Sir Charles Bunbury, Bart. The reason evidently was, that
he remained to vote in the House of Commons.-C.
(364) Lord Boyle, eldest son of the first Earl of Shannon,
married, in the following month, Catharine, eldest daughter of
the Right Hon. John Ponsonby, Speaker of the Irish House of
commons, by Lady Ellen Cavendish, second daughter of the third
Duke of Devonshire. Lord Shannon, Mr. Ponsonby, and the Primate,
Dr. George Stone, Archbishop of Armagh, were the ruling
triumvirate of Ireland. They
were four times declared lords justices of that kingdom. Some
differences had, however, occurred between these great leaders,
which Mr. Walpole insinuates that this marriage was likely to
(365) the benignity of her reception at court is noticed because
General Conway's late votes against the ministry might naturally
have displeased the King, to whom he was groom of the
Letter 180 To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, Nov. 20, 1763. (page 250)
You are in the wrong; believe me you are in the wrong to stay in
the country; London never was so entertaining since it had a
steeple or a madhouse. Cowards fight duels; secretaries of state
turn Methodists on the Tuesday, and are expelled the playhouse
for blasphemy on Friday. I am not turned Methodist, but patriot,
and what is more extraordinary, am not going to have a place.
What is more wonderful still, Lord Hardwicke has made two of his
sons resign their employments. I know my letter sounds as
enigmatic as Merlin's almanack; but my events have really
happened. I had almost persuaded myself like you to quit the
world; thank my stars I did not. Why, I have done nothing but
laugh since last Sunday; though on Tuesday I was one of a hundred
and eleven, who were outvoted by three hundred; no laughing
matter generally to a true patriot, whether he thinks his country
undone or himself. Nay, I am still: more absurd; even for my
dear country's sake I cannot bring myself to connect with Lord
Hardwicke, or the Duke of Newcastle, though they are in the
minority-an unprecedented case, not to love every body one
despises, when they are of the same side. On the contrary, I
fear I resembled a fond woman, and dote on the dear betrayer. In
short, and to write something that you can understand, you know I
have long had a partiality for your cousin Sandwich, who has
out-Sandwiched himself. He has impeached
Wilkes for a blasphemous poem, and has been expelled for
blasphemy himself by the Beefsteak Club at Covent-garden. Wilkes
has been shot by Martin, and instead of being burnt at an auto da
fe, as the Bishop of Gloucester intended, is reverenced as a
saint by the mob, and if he dies, I suppose, the people will
squint themselves into convulsions at his tomb, in honour of his
memory. Now is not this better than feeding one's birds and
one's bantams, poring one's eyes out over old histories, not half
so extraordinary as the present, or ambling to Squire Bencow's on
one's padnag, and playing
at cribbage with one's brother John and one's parson? Prithee
come to town, and let us put off taking the veil for another
year: besides by this time twelvemonth we are sure the world will
be a year older in wickedness, and we shall have more matter for
meditation. One would not leave it methinks till it comes to the
worst, and that time cannot be many months off. In the mean
time, I have bespoken a dagger, in case the circumstances should
grow so classic as to make it becoming to kill oneself; however,
though disposed to quit the world, as I have no mind to leave it
entirely, I shall put off my death to the last minute, and do
nothing rashly, till I see Mr. Pitt and Lord Temple place
themselves in their curule chairs in St. James's-market, and
resign their throats to the victors. I am determined to see them
dead first, lest they should play me a trick, and be hobbling to
Buckingham-house, while I am shivering and waiting for them on
the banks of Lethe. Adieu! Yours, Horatius.
To The Earl Of Hertford.
Arlington Street, Nov. 25, 1763. (page 251)
You tell me, my dear lord, in a letter I have this moment
received from you, that you have had a comfortable one from me; I
fear it was not the last: you will not have been fond of your
brother's voting against the court. Since that, he has been told
by different channels that they think of taking away regiments
from opposers. He heard it, as he would the wind whistle: while
in the shape of a threat, he treats it with contempt; if put into
execution his scorn would subside into indifference. You know he
has but one object--doing what is right; the rest may betide as
it will. One or two of the ministers,(366) who are honest men,
would, I have reason to believe, be heartily concerned to have
such measures adopted; but they are not directors. The little
favour they possess, and the desperateness of their situation
oblige them to swallow many things they disapprove, and which
ruin their character with the nation; while others, who have no
character to lose, and whose situation is no less desperate, care
not what inconveniences they bring on their master, nor what
confusion on their country, in which they can never prosper,
except when it is convulsed. The nation, indeed, seems
thoroughly sensible of this truth. They are unpopular beyond
conception: even of those that vote with them there are numbers
that express their aversion without reserve. Indeed, on
Wednesday, the 23d, this went farther: we were to debate the
great point of privilege: Wilbraham(367)
objected, that Wilkes was involved in it, and ought to be
present. On this, though, as you see, a question of slight
moment, fifty-seven left them at once: they were but 243 to
166.(368) As we had sat, however, till eight at night, the
debate was postponed to next day. Mr. Pitt, who had a fever and
the gout, came on crutches, and wrapped in flannels: so he did
yesterday, but was obliged to retire at ten at night, after
making a speech of an hour and fifty minutes; the worst, I think,
I ever heard him make in my life. For our parts, we sat till
within ten minutes of two in the morning: yet we had but few
speeches, all were so long. Hussey,(369) solicitor to the
Princess of Wales, was against the court, and spoke with great
spirit, and true Whig spirit. Charles Yorke(370) shone
exceedingly. He had spoke and voted with us the night before;
but now maintained his opinion against Pratt's.(371) It was a
most able and learned performance, and the latter part, which was
oratoric, uncommonly beautiful and eloquent. You find I don't
let partiality to the Whig cause blind my judgment. That speech
was certainly the masterpiece of the day. Norton would not have
made a figure, even if Charles Yorke had not appeared; but giving
way to his natural brutality, he got into an ugly scrape. Having
so little delicacy or decency as to mention a cause in which he
had prosecuted Sir John Rushout(372) (Who sat just under him) for
perjury, the tough old knight (who had been honourably acquitted
of the charge) gave the House an account of the affair; and then
added, "I was assured the prosecution was set on foot by that
Honest gentleman; I hope I don't Call him out of his name--and
that it was in revenge for my having opposed him in an election."
Norton denied the charge upon his honour, which did not seem to
persuade every body. Immediately after this we had another
episode. Rigby,(373) totally unprovoked either by any thing said
or by the complexion of the day, which was grave and
argumentative, fell Upon Lord Temple, and described his behaviour
on the commitment of Wilkes. James Grenville,(374) who sat
beside him, rose in all the acrimony of resentment: drew a very
favourable picture of his brother, and then one of Rigby,
conjuring up the bitterest words, epithet, and circumstances that
he could amass together: told him how interested he was, and how
ignorant: painted his Journey to Ireland to get a law-place, for
which he was so unqualified; and concluded with affirming he had
fled from thence to avoid the vengeance of the people. The
passive Speaker suffered both painters to finish their words, and
would have let them carry their colours and brushes into
Hyde-park the next morning, if other people had not represented
the necessity of demanding their paroles that it should go no
farther. They were both unwilling to rise: Rigby did at last,
and put an end to it with humour(375) and good-humour. The
numbers were 258 to 133. The best speech of
all those that were not spoken was Charles Townshend's.(376) He
has for some time been informing the world that for the last
three months he had constantly employed six clerks to search and
transcribe records, journals, precedents, etc. The production of
all this mountain of matter was a mouse, and that mouse
stillborn: he has voted with us but never uttered a word.
We shall now repose for some time; at least I am sure I shall.
It has been hard service; and nothing but a Whig point of this
magnitude could easily have carried me to the House at all, of
which I have so long been sick. Wilkes will live, but is not
likely to be in a situation to come forth for some time. The
blasphemous book has fallen ten times heavier on Sandwich's own
head than on Wilkes's: it has brought forth such a catalogue of
anecdotes as is incredible! Lord Hardwicke fluctuates between
life and death. Lord Effingham is dead suddenly, and Lord
Cantelupe(377) has got his troop.
These are all our news; I am glad yours go on so smoothly. I
take care to do you justice at M. de Guerchy's for all the
justice you do to France, and particularly to the house of
Nivernois. D'Eon(378) is here still: I know nothing more of him
but that the honour of having a hand in the peace overset his
poor brain. This was evident on the fatal night(379) at Lord
Halifax's: when they told him his behaviour was a breach of the
peace, he was quite distracted, thinking it was the peace between
his country and this.
Our operas begin to-morrow. The Duchess of Grafton is come for a
fortnight only. My compliments to the ambassadress, and all your
(366) There is reason to think that at this moment Mr. Grenville
and Lord Halifax were those to whom Mr. Walpole gave credit for
honest intentions and a disposition to moderate and conciliate.
This opinion, though probably correct, Walpole soon changed, as
to Mr. Grenville.-C.
(367) Randle Wilbraham, LL.D. a barrister, deputy steward of the
University of Oxford, and member for Newton, in Lancashire.-E.
(368) The question was, "That Privilege of Parliament does not
extend to the case of writing and publishing seditious libels,
nor ought to be allowed to obstruct the ordinary course of the
laws in the speedy and effectual prosecution of so heinous and
dangerous an offence."-C.
(369) Richard Hussey, member for St. Mawes. He was counsel to
the navy, as well as solicitor to the Queen, not, as Mr. Walpole
says, to the Princess. He was afterwards her majesty's
(370) Charles Yorke, second son of Lord Chancellor Hardwicke. He
had been attorney-general, but resigned on the 31st of October.
He agreed with the ministry on the question of privilege, but
differed from them on general warrants. This last difference may
have accelerated his resignation; but the event itself had been
determined on, ever since the failure of a negotiation which took
place towards the end of the preceding August, through Mr. Pitt
and Lord Hardwicke, to form a new administration on a Whig
(371) Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, afterwards Lord Camden.
He had discharged Wilkes out of confinement on the ground of
(372) Sir John Rushout, of Northwick, the fourth baronet. He had
sat in ten Parliaments; in the three first for Malmsbury, and in
the rest for Evesham. He had been a violent politician in Sir
Robert Walpole's administration. See vol. i. p. 222, letter
(373) The Right Hon. Richard Rigby, master of the rolls in
Ireland, afterwards paymaster of the forces; a statesman of the
second class, and a bon vivant of the first. Mr. Rigby was at one
time a chief friend and favourite of Mr. Walpole's, but became
involved in Mr. Walpole's dislike to the Duke of Bedford, to whom
Mr. Rigby was sincerely and constantly attached, and over whom he
was supposed to have great influence.-C.
(374) Fourth brother of Lord Temple and Mr. George Grenville;
father of Lord Glastonbury.-E.
(375) Lady Suffolk, in a letter to the Earl of Buckingham, of the
29th of November, says, "Jemmy Grenville and Mr. Rigby were
so violent against each other, one in his manner of treating
Lord Temple, who was in the House, and the brother in his
justification of his brother, that the House was obliged to
interfere to prevent mischief. Lord Temple comes to me; but
politics is the bane of friendship, and when personal resentments
join, the man becomes another creature."-E.
(376) As Mr. Walpole seems to impute Mr. Charles Townshend's
silence on the question of privilege to fickleness, or some worse
cause, it is but just to state that he never quite approved that
question. This will be seen from the following extract from some
of his confidential letters to Dr. Brocklesby, written two months
before Parliament met:--"You know I never approved of No. 45, or
engaged in any of the consequential measures. As to the question
of privilege, it is an intricate matter; The authorities are
contradictory, and the distinctions to be reasonably made on the
precedents are plausible and endless." Mr. Townshend gave a good
deal of further consideration to the subject, and his silence in
the debate only proves that his first impressions were confirmed.
Mr. Burke's beautiful, but, perhaps, too favourable character of
Charles Townshend will immortalize the writer and the subject.-C.
(377) John, afterwards second Earl of Delawarr, vice-chamberlain
to the Queen.-E.
(378) This singular person had been secretary to the Duke de
Nivernois's embassy, and in the interval between that
ambassador's departure and the arrival of M. de Guerchy, the
French mission to our court devolved upon him. This honour, as
Mr. Walpole intimates, seems to have turned his head, and he was
so absurdly exasperated at being superseded by M. de Guerchy,
that he refused to deliver his letters of recall, set his court
at defiance, and published a volume of libels on M. de Guerchy
and the French ministers. As he persisted in withholding the
letters of recall, the two courts were obliged to notify in the
London Gazette that his mission was at an end; and the French
government desired that he be given up to them. This, of course,
could not be done: but he was proceeded against by criminal
information, and finally convicted of the libels against M. de
Guerchy. D'Eon asserted, that the French ministry had a design
to carry him off privately; and it has been said that he was
apprised of this scheme by Louis XV. who, it seems, had
entertained some kind of secret and extra- official communication
with this adventurer. He afterwards continued in obscurity until
1777, when the public was astonished by the trial of an action
before Lord Mansfield, for money lost on
a wager respecting his sex. On that trial it seemed proved
beyond all doubt, that the person was a female. Proceedings in
the Parliament of Paris had a similar result, and the soldier and
the minister was condemned to wear woman's attire, which d'Eon
did for many years. He emigrated at the revolution, and died in
London in May, 1810. On examination, after death, the body
proved to be that of a male. This circumstance, attested by the
most respectable authorities, is so strongly it variance with all
the former evidence, that the French biographers have been
induced to doubt whether the original Chevalier D'Eon and the
person who died in 1810 were the same, and they even endeavour to
show that the real person, the Chevali`ere, as they term it, died
in 1790; but we cannot admit this solution of the difficulty, for
one, at least, of the surgeons who examined the body in 1810, had
known D'Eon in his habiliments, and he had for ten years lived
unquestioned under the name of D'Eon.-C.
(379) On the 26th of October, D'Eon, meeting M. de Guerchy and a
M. de Vergy at Lord Halifax's, in Great George-street, burst out
into such violence on some observation made by De Vergy, that it
became necessary to call in the guard. His whole behaviour in
this affair looks like insanity.-C.
Letter 182 To The Earl Of Hertford.
Arlington Street, Dec. 2, 1763. (page 254)
I have been expecting a letter all day, as Friday is the day I
have generally received a letter from you, but it is not yet
arrived and I begin mine without it. M. de Guerchy has given us
a prosperous account of my Lady Hertford's audience still I am
impatient to hear it from yourselves. I want to know, too, what
you say to your brother's being in the minority. I have already
told you that unless they use him ill, I do not think him likely
to take any warm part. With regard to dismission of officers, I
hear no more of it: such a violent step would but spread the
flames. which are already fierce enough. I will give you an
instance: last' Saturday, Lord Cornwallis(380) and Lord
Allen,(381) came drunk to the Opera: the former went up to Rigby
in the pit, and told him in direct words that Lord Sandwich was a
pickpocket. Then Lord Allen, with looks and gestures no less
expressive, advanced close to him, and repeating this again in
the passage, would have provoked a quarrel, if George West(382)
had not carried him away by force. Lord (Cornwallis, the next
morning in Hyde-park, made an apology to Rigby for his behaviour,
but the rest of the world is not so complaisant. His pride,
insolence, and over-bearingness, have made him so many enemies,
that they are glad to tear him to pieces for his attack on Lord
Temple, so unprovoked, and so poorly performed. It was well that
with his spirit and warmth he had the sense not to resent the
behaviour of those two drunken young fellows.
On Tuesday your Lordship's House sat till ten at night, on the
resolutions we had communicated to you; and you agreed to them by
114 to 35: a puny minority indeed, considering of what great
names it was composed! Even the Duke of Cumberland voted in it;
but Mr. Yorke's speech in our House, and Lord Mansfield's in
yours, for two hours, carried away many of the opposition,
particularly Lord Lyttelton, and the greater part of the Duke of
Newcastle's Bishops.(383) The Duke of Grafton is much commended.
The Duke of Portland commenced, but was too much frightened.
There was no warmth nor event; but Lord Shelburne, who they say
spoke well, and against the court, and as his friends had voted
in our House, has produced one, the great Mr. Calcraft(384) being
turned out yesterday, from some muster-mastership; I don't know
what. Lord Sandwich is canvassing to succeed Lord
Hardwicke, as High Steward of Cambridge; another egg of
animosity. We shall, however, I believe, be tolerably quiet till
after Christmas, as Mr. Wilkes Will not be able to act before the
holidays. I rejoice at it: I am heartily sick of all this folly,
and shall be glad to get to Strawberry again, and hear nothing of
it. The ministry have bought off Lord Clive(385) with a bribe
that would frighten the King of France himself: they have given
him back his 25,000 a year.
Walsh(386) has behaved nobly: he said he could not in conscience
vote with the administration, and would not Vote against Lord
Clive, who chose him: he has therefore offered to resign his
seat. Lady Augusta's(387) fortune was to be voted to-day and
Lord Strange talked of opposing it; but I had not the curiosity
to go down. This is all our politics, and indeed all our news;
we have none of any other kind. So far you will not regret
England. For my part, I wish myself with you. Being perfectly
indifferent who is minister and Who is not, and weary of
laughing(388) at both, I shall take hold of the first spring to
make you my visit.
Our operas do not succeed. Girardini, now become minister and
having no exchequer to buy an audience, is grown unpopular. The
Mingotti, whom he has forced upon the town, is as much disliked
as if he had insisted on her being first lord of the treasury.
The first man, though with sweet notes, has so weak a voice that
he might as well hold his tongue like Charles Townshend. The
figurantes are very pretty, but can dance no more than Tommy
Pelham.(389) The first man dancer is handsome, well made, and
strong enough to make his fortune any where: but you know,
fortunes made in private are seldom agreeable to the public.(390)
In short, it will not do; there was not a soul in the pit the
Lady Mary Coke has received her gown by the Prince de Masseran,
and is exceedingly obliged to you, though much disappointed; this
being a slight gown made up, and not the one she expected, which
is a fine one bought for her by Lady Holland,(391) and which you
must send somehow or other: if you cannot, you must despatch an
ambassador on purpose. I dined with the Prince de Masseran, at
Guerchy's, the day after his arrival; and if faces speak truth,
he will not be our ruin. Oh! but there is a ten times more
delightful man--the Austrian minister:(392) he is so stiff and
upright, that you would think all his mistress's diadems were
upon his head, and that he was afraid of their dropping off.
I know so little of Irish politics, that I am afraid of
misinforming you: but I hear that Hamilton, who has come off with
honour in a squabble with Lord Newton,(393) about the latter's
wife, speaks and votes with the opposition against the
Castle.(394) I don't know the meaning of it, nor, except it had
been to tell you, should I have remembered it.
Well! your letter will not come, and I must send away mine.
Remember, the holidays are coming, and that I shall be a good
deal out of town. I have been charming hitherto, but I cannot
make brick without straw. Encore, you are almost the only person
I ever write a line to. I grow so old and so indolent that I
hate the sight of a pen and ink.
(380) Charles, first Marquis of Cornwallis: born in 1738,
succeeded his father, the first Earl, in 1762, and died in India
(381) Joshua, fifth Viscount Allen, of Ireland, born in 1738.-E.
(382) George, second son of the first Earl of Delawarr.-E.
(383) Bishops made during the Duke of Newcastle's administration,
and who were therefore supposed likely to be of his opinion. The
Duke of Newcastle after being nearly half a century in office,
was now in opposition.-C.
(384) John Calcraft, Esq. was deputy commissary-general of
musters: he was particularly attached to Mr. Fox; which is,
perhaps, one reason why Mr. Walpole, who had now quarrelled with
Mr. Fox, speaks so slightingly of Mr. Calcraft.-C.
(385) Robert Clive, who, for his extraordinary services and
success in India, was, at the age of thirty-five, created an
Irish peer. It was of him that Mr. Pitt said, that he was "a
heaven-born general, who without any experience in military
affairs, had surpassed all the officers of his time." The wealth
which this great man accumulated in India was, during his whole
subsequent life, a subject of popular jealousy and party
(386) John Walsh, Esq. member for Worcester.-E.
(387) Princess Augusta, eldest sister of George III.; married in
January 1764 to the Duke of Brunswick, killed at Jena, in 1806.
Her Royal Highness died in London in 1810.-E.
(388) Mr. Walpole affected indifference to politics, but the tone
of his correspondence does not quite justify the expression of
laughing at either party; he was warmly interested in the one,
and bitterly hostile to the other, and for a considerable period
took a deep and active interest in political party.-C.
(389) Thomas Pelham, member for Sussex, afterwards comptroller of
the household, and first Earl of Chichester.-E.
(390) The reader will observe, in this description of the Opera,
an amusing allusion to public affairs; the last sentence refers,
no doubt, to Lord Bute.-C.
(391) Lady Georgina Caroline Lenox, eldest daughter of Charles,
second Duke of Richmond. She had been, in 1762, created Baroness
Holland in her own right.-C.
(392) Probably the Count de Seleirn, minister from the
Empress-Queen, Maria Theresa.
(393) Brinsley Lord Newton, afterwards second Earl of
Lanesborough, married Lady Jane Rochfort, eldest daughter of the
first Earl of Belvidere. In the affair here alluded to Lord
Newton exhibited at first an extreme jealousy, and subsequently
what was thought an extreme facility in admitting Mr. hamilton's
(394) This is not quite true; but Mr. Hamilton was on very bad
terms with the Lord Lieutenant, and certainly did not take that
prominent part in the House of Commons of Ireland which his
station as chief secretary seemed to require,.-C.
Letter 183 To The Rev. Mr. Cole.
Arlington Street, Dec. 6, 1763. (page 256)
According to custom I am excessively obliged to you: you are
continually giving me proofs of your kindness. I have now three
packets to thank you for, full of information, and have only
lamented the trouble you have given yourself.
I am glad for the tomb's sake and my own, that Sir Giles
Allington's monument is restored. The draught you have sent is
very perfect. The account of your ancestor Tuer(395) shall not
be forgotten in my next edition. The pedigree of Allington I had
from Collins before his death, but I think not as perfect as
yours. You have made one little slip in it: my mother was
granddaughter, not daughter of Sir John Shorter, and was not
heiress, having three brothers, who all died after her, and we
only quarter the arms of Shorter, which I fancy occasioned the
mistake, by their leaving no children. The verses by Sir Edward
Walpole, and the translation by Bland, are published in my
description of Houghton.
I am come late from the House of Lords, and am just going to the
Opera; so you will excuse me saying more than that I have a print
of Archbishop Hutton for you (it @is Dr. Ducarel's), and a
little plate of Strawberry; but I do not send them by the post,
as it would crease them: if you will tell me how to convey them
otherwise, I will. I repeat many thanks to you.
(395) Herbert Tuer, the painter. After the death of Charles 1.
he withdrew into Holland, and it is believed that he died at
Letter 184 To The Earl Of Hertford.
Friday, Dec. 9, 1763. (page 257)
Your brother has sent you such a full account of his transaction
with Mr. Grenville(396) that it is not necessary for me to add a
syllable, except, what your brother will not have said himself,
that he has acted as usual with the strictest honour and
firmness, and has turned this negotiation entirely to his own
credit. He has learned the ill wishes of his enemies, and what
is more, knows who they are: he has laughed at them, and found at
last that their malice was much bigger than their power. Mr.
Grenville, as you would wish, has proved how much he disliked the
violence of his associates, as I trust he will, whenever he has
an opportunity, and has at last contented himself with so little
or nothing, that I am sure you will feel yourself obliged to him.
For the measure itself, of turning out the officers in general
who oppose, it has been much pressed, and what is still sillier,
openly threatened by one set; but they dare not do it, and having
notified it without effect, are ridiculed by the whole town, as
well as by the persons threatened, particularly by Lord
Albermarle, who has treated their menaces with the utmost
contempt and spirit. This mighty storm, like another I shall
tell you of, has vented itself on Lord Shelburne and Colonel
Barr`e,(397) who were yesterday turned out; the first from
aide-de-camp to the King, the latter from adjutant-general and
governor of Stirling. Campbell,(398) to Whom it was promised
before, has got the last; Ned Harvey,(399) the
former. My present expectation is an oration from Barr`e(400 in
honour of Mr. Pitt; for those are scenes that make the world so
entertaining. After that, I shall demand a satire on Mr. Pitt,
from Mr. Wilkes; and I do not believe I shall be balked, for
Wilkes has already expressed his resentment on being given up by
Pitt, who, says Wilkes, ought to be expelled for an
impostor.(401) I do not know whether the Duke of Newcastle does
not expect a palinodia from me(402) T'other morning at the Duke's
lev`ee he embraced me,
and hoped I would come and eat a bit of Sussex mutton With him.
I had such difficulty to avoid laughing in his face that I got
from him as fast as I could. Do you think me very likely to
forget that I have been laughing at him these twenty years?
Well! but we have had a prodigious riot: are not you impatient to
know the particulars? It was so prodigious a tumult, that I
verily thought half the administration would have run away to
Harrowgate. The north Briton was ordered to be burned by the
hangman at Cheapside, on Saturday last. The mob rose; the
greatest mob, says Mr. Sheriff Blunt, that he has known in forty
years. They were armed with that most bloody instrument, the mud
out of the kennels: they hissed in the most murderous manner:
broke Mr. Sheriff Harley's coach-glass in the most frangent
manner; scratched his forehead, so that he is forced to wear a
little patch in the most becoming manner; and obliged the hangman
to burn the paper with a link, though fagots were prepared to
execute it in a more solemn manner. Numbers of gentlemen, from
windows and balconies, encouraged the mob, who, in about an hour
and a half, were so undutiful to the ministry, as to retire
without doing any mischief, or giving Mr. Carteret Webb(403) the
opportunity of a single information, except against an ignorant
lad, who had been in town but ten days.
This terrible uproar has employed us four days. The sheriffs
were called before your House on Monday, and made their
narrative. My brother Cholmondeley,(404) in the most pathetic
manner, and suitably to the occasion, recommended it to your
lordships, to search for precedents of what he believed never
happened since the world began. Lord Egmont,(405) who knows of a
plot, which he keeps to himself, though It has been carrying on
these twenty years, thought more vigorous measures ought to be
taken on such a crisis, and moved to summon the mistress of the
Union Coffee-house. The Duke of Bedford thought all this but
piddling, and at once attacked Lord Mayor, common council, and
charter of the city, whom, if he had been supported, I believe he
would have ordered to be all burned by the hangman next Saturday.
Unfortunately for such national justice, Lord Mansfield, who
delights in every opportunity of exposing and mortifying the Duke
of Bedford, and Sandwich, interposed for the magistracy of
London, and after much squabbling, saved them from immediate
execution. The Duke of Grafton, with infinite shrewdness and
coolness, drew from the witnesses that the whole mob was of one
mind; and the day ended in a vote of general
censure on the rioters. This was communicated to us at a
conference, and yesterday we acted the same farce; when Rigby
trying to revive the imputation on the Lord Mayor, etc. (who, by
the by, did sit most tranquilly at Guildhall during the whole
tumult) the ministry disavowed and abandoned him to a man,
vindicating the magistracy, and plainly discovering their own
fear and awe of the city, who feel the insult, and will from
hence feel their own strength. In short, to finish this foolish
story, I never saw a transaction in which appeared so little
parts, abilities, or conduct; nor do I think there can be any
thing weaker than the administration except it is the opposition:
but an opposition, bedrid and tonguetied, is a most ridiculous
body. Mr. Pitt is laid up with the gout; Lord Hardwicke, though
much relieved by a quack medicine, is still very ill; and Mr.
Charles Townshend is as silent as my Lord Abercorn(406--that they
too should ever be alike!
This is not all our political news; Wilkes is an inexhaustible
fund: on Monday was heard, in the common Pleas, his suit against
Mr. Wood,(407) when, after a trial of fourteen hours, the jury
gave him damages of one thousand pounds; but this was not the
heaviest part of the blow. The Solicitor-general(408) tried to
prove Wilkes author of the North Briton, and failed in the proof.
You may judge how much this miscarriage adds to the defeat.
Wilkes is not yet out of danger: they think there is still a
piece of coat or lining to come Out of the wound. The campaign
is over for the present, and the troops going into country
quarters. In the mean time, the house of Hamilton has supplied
us with new matter of talk. My lord was robbed about three
o'clock in the night between Saturday and Sunday, of money,
bills, watches, and snuff-boxes, to the amount of three thousand
pounds. Nothing is yet discovered, but that the
guard in the stable yard saw a man in a great coat and white
stockings come from thereabouts, at the time I have named. The
servants have all been examined over and over to no purpose.
Fielding(409) is all day in the house, and a guard of his at
night. The bureau in my lord's dressing-room (the little red
room where the pictures are) was forced open. I fear you can
guess who was at first suspected.(410)
I have received yours, my dear lord, of Nov. 30th, and am pleased
that my Lady Hertford is so well reconciled to her ministry. You
forgot to give me an account of her audience, but I have heard of
the Queen's good-natured attention to her.
The anecdotes about Lord Sandwich are numerous; but I do not
repeat them to you, because I know nothing how true they are, and
because he has, in several instances, been very obliging to me,
and I have no reason to abuse him. Lord Hardwicke's illness, I
think, is a rupture and consequences.
I hope to hear that your little boy is recovered. Adieu! I have
filled my gazette, and exhausted my memory. I am glad such
gazettes please you - I can have no other excuse for sending such
(396) This transaction was an endeavour on the part of Mr.
Grenville to obtain from General Conway a declaration that "his
disposition was not averse from a general support of the persons
and measures of those now employed," and permission " to say so
much when he might have occasion to speak to him." This
declaration General Conway declined to give, although Mr.
Grenville seemed to ask it only to enable him to save Conway from
dismissal on account of his late vote. There is reason to
believe that at this conference (at which the Duke of Richmond
was present, as Conway's friend) some overtures of a more
intimate connexion with the administration were made; but Conway
declared his determination to adhere to the politics of his
friends, the Dukes of Devonshire and Grafton. "At least," he
said, "if he should hereafter happen to differ from them, he
should so steer his conduct as not to be, in any way of office or
emolument, the better for it."-C.
(397) Isaac Barr`e was a native of Ireland, and born in 1726: he
entered the army early in life, and rose, gradually to the rank
of colonel. He was in 1763 made adjutant-general and the
governor of Stirling Castle, but was turned out on this occasion,
and even resigned his half-pay. He continued to make a
considerable figure in the House of Commons: in 1782 he became a
privy-councillor and treasurer of the navy, which latter office
he soon exchanged for paymaster of the forces; but on the change
of government he retired on a pension of 3200 pounds, which his
political friends had previously secured for him. From this time
his sight failed him, and he was quite blind for many years
previous to his death, which took place in 1802.-C.
(398) Captain James, afterwards Sir James Campbell, of
Ardkinglass: a captain in the army, and member for the county of
(399) Major-General Edward Harvey, lieutenant-general in 1772.-E.
(400) Colonel Barr`e, previous to his dismissal, had
distinguished himself by an attack on Mr. Pitt, which is not
reported in the Parliamentary Debates.-C. [In the Chatham
Correspondence, vol. ii. p. 171, will be found the following
passage, in a letter from Mr. Symmers to Sir Andrew Mitchell,
dated January 29, 1762:--"Would you know a little of the humour
of Parliament, and particularly with regard to Mr. Pitt?' I must
tell you that Colonel Barr`e, a soldier of fortune, a young man
born in Dublin, of a mean condition, his father and mother from
France, and established in a little grocer's shop by the
patronage of the Bishop of Clogher; a child of whom the mother
nursed; this young man (a man of address and parts), found
out, pushed, and brought into Parliament by Lord Shelburne, had
not sat two days in the House of Commons before he attacked Mr.
Pitt. I shall give you a specimen of his philippics. Talking in
the manner of Mr. Pitt's speaking, he said, 'There he would
stand, turning up his eyes to heaven, that witnessed his
perjuries, and laying his hand in a solemn manner upon the table,
that sacrilegious hand, that hand that had been employed in
tearing out the bowels of his mother country!' Would you think
that Mr. Pitt would bear this and be silent; or would you think
that the House would suffer a respectable member to be so
treated? Yet so it Was."]
(401) In the House of Commons, a few days before, Mr. Pitt had
condemned the whole series of North Britons, and called them
illiberal, unmanly, and detestable: "he abhorred," he said, "all
national reflections: the King's subjects were one people;
whoever divided them was guilty of sedition: his Majesty's
complaint was well-founded; it was just; it was necessary: the
author did not deserve to be ranked among the human species; he
was the blasphemer of his God and the libeller of the King."-E.
(402) This improbable event a few weeks brought about. We shall
see that Mr. Walpole did sing his Palinodia, and went down to
Claremont to eat a bit of mutton with the man in the world whom
(as all his writings, but especially his lately published
Memoires, show) he had most heartily hated and despised.-C.
(403) Philip Carteret Webb, Esq. solicitor to the treasury and
member for Haslemere.-E.
(404) George third Earl of Cholmondeley; born in 1703: married
Mr. Walpole's only legitimate sister, who died at Aix in 1731;
and as all Sir Robert Walpole's sons died without issue, Lord
Cholmondeley's family succeeded to Houghton, and the rest of the
Walpole property, as heirs-at-law of Sir Robert.-C.
(405) John, second Earl of Egmont, at this time first lord of the
admiralty. Lord Egmont had been in the House of Commons what
Coxe calls "a fluent and plausible debater;" but he had some
peculiarities of mind, to which Walpole here and elsewhere
(406) James, eighth Earl of Abercorn, "a nobleman," says his
panegyrist, "whose character was but little known, or rather but
little understood; but who possessed singular vigour of mind,
integrity of conduct, and patriotic views." Mr. Walpole elsewhere
laughs at his lordship's dignified aversion to throwing away his
(407) An action brought by Wilkes against Robert Wood, Esq. late
under-secretary of State for seizing Wilkes's papers, etc. It
was tried before Chief Justice Pratt, and under his direction the
jury found for the plaintiff.-C.
(408) Sir Fletcher Norton was not made attorney-general till
after this trial.-E.
(409) Mr. John Fielding, chief police magistrate.-E.
(410) The robbery was committed by one Bradley, a discharged
footman, and one John Wisket. The former was admitted a witness
for the crown, and the latter was hanged on his evidence, in Dec.
Letter 185 To The Earl Of Hertford.
Arlington Street, Dec. 16, 1763. (page 261)
On the very day I wrote to you last, my dear lord, an
extraordinary event happened, which I did not then know. A
motion was made in the common council, to thank the sheriffs for
their behaviour at the riot, and to prosecute the man who was
apprehended for it. This was opposed, and the previous question
being put, the numbers were equal; but the casting vote of the
Lord Mayor(411) was given against putting the first
question--pretty strong proceeding; for though, in consequence
and in resentment of the Duke of Bedford's speech, it seemed to
justify his grace, who had accused the mayor and magistracy of
not trying to suppress the tumult; if they will not prosecute the
rioters, it is not very unfair to surmise that they did not
dislike the riot. Indeed, the city is so inflamed, and the
ministry so obnoxious, that I am very apprehensive of some
violent commotion. The court have lost the Essex election(412)
merely from Lord Sandwich interfering in it, and from the Duke of
Bedford's speech; a great number of votes going from the city on
that account to vote for Luther. Sir John Griffin,(413) who was
disobliged by Sandwich's espousing Conyers, went to Chelmsford,
at the head of five hundred voters.
One of the latest acts of the ministry will not please my Lady
Hertford: they have turned out her brother, Colonel Fitzroy:(414
Fitzherbert,(415) too, is removed; and, they say, Sir Joseph
Yorke recalled.(416) I must do Lord Halifax and Mr. Grenville
the justice to say that these violences are not imputed to them.
It is certain that the former was the warmest opposer of the
measure for breaking the officers; and Mr. Grenville's friends
take every opportunity of throwing the blame on the Duke of
Bedford and Lord Sandwich. The Duchess of Bedford, who is too
fond a Wife not to partake in all her husband's fortunes, has
contributed her portion of indiscretion. At a great dinner,
lately, at Lord Halifax's, all the servants present, mention
being made of the Archbishop of Canterbury,(417) M. de Guerchy
asked the Duchess, "Est-il de famille?" She replied, "Oh! mon
Dieu, non, il a `et`e sage-femme." The mistake of sage-femme for
accoucheur, and the strangeness of the proposition, confounded
Guerchy so much, that it was necessary to explain it: but think
of a minister's wife telling a foreigner, and a Catholic, that
the primate of her own church had been bred a man-midwife!
The day after my last, another verdict was given in the common
Pleas, of four hundred pounds to the printers; and another
episode happened, relating to Wilkes; one Dunn, a mad Scotchman,
was seized in Wilkes's house, whither he had gone intending to
assassinate him. This was complained of in the House of Commons,
but the man's phrensy was verified; it was even proved that he
had notified his design in a coffee-house, some days before. The
mob, however, who are determined that Lord Sandwich shall answer
for every body's faults, as well as his own, believe that he
employed Dunn. I wish the recess, which begins next Monday, may
cool matters a little, for indeed it grows very serious.
Nothing is discovered of Lord Harrington's robbery, nor do I know
any other news, but that George West(418) is to marry lady Mary
Grey. The Hereditary Prince's wound is broken out again, and
will defer his arrival. We have had a new comedy,(419) written
by Mrs. Sheridan, and admirably acted; but there was no wit in
it, and it was so vulgar that it ran but three nights.
Poor Lady Hervey desires you will tell Mr. Hume how incapable she
is of answering his letter. She has been terribly afflicted for
these six weeks with a complication of gout, rheumatism, and a
nervous complaint. She cannot lie down in her bed, nor rest two
minutes in her chair. I never saw such continued suffering.
You say in your last, of the 7th, that you have omitted to invite
no Englishman of rank or name. This gives me an opportunity, my
dear lord, of mentioning one Englishman, not of great rank, but
who is very unhappy that you have taken no notice of him. You
know how utterly averse I am to meddle, or give impertinent
advice; but the letter I saw was expressed with so much respect
and esteem for you, that you would love the person. It is Mr.
Selwyn, the banker. He says, he expected no favour; but the
great regard he has for the amiableness of your character, makes
him miserable at being totally undistinguished by you. He has so
good a character himself and is so much beloved by many persons
here that you know, that I think you will not dislike my putting
you in mind of him. The letter was not to me, nor to any friend
of mine; therefore, I am sure, unaffected. I saw the whole
letter, and he did not even hint at its being communicated to me.
I have not mentioned Lady Holdernesse's presentation, though I by
no means approve it, nor a Dutch woman's lowering the peerage of
England. Nothing of that sort could make me more angry, except a
commoner's wife taking such a step; for you know I have all the
pride of A citizen of Rome, while Rome survives: In that respect
my name is thoroughly Horatius.
(411) William Bridgen, Esq.-E.
(412) John Luther, Esq. was returned for Essex, on the popular
interest, after a severe and most expensive contest.-C.
(413) Sir john Griffin Griffin, K. B., major-general and colonel
of the 33d regiment; member for Andover. He established, in
1784, a claim to the barony of Howard de Walden, and was created,
Baron Braybrook, with remainder to A. A. Neville, Esq. He died
(414) Colonel Charles Fitzroy, member for Bury, afterwards Lord
Southampton. It seems strange that Mr. Walpole should be
mistaken in such a point; but Colonel Fitzroy was not Lady
Hertford's brother, but her brother's son.-C.
(415) William Fitzherbert, Esq. member for Derby: a lord of
(416) the rumour mentioned in the text was unfounded, Sir Joseph
continued at the Hague till 1783.-C.
(417) Archbishop Secker. The Grounds for this strange story
(which Walpole was fond of repeating) was, that the Archbishop
had, in early youth, been intended for the medical profession,
and had attended some hospitals.-C.
(418) Mr. West married, in February 1764, Lady Mary Grey,
daughter of the Earl of Stamford: he died without issue, in
(419) "The Dupe," by Mrs. Sheridan, mother of Richard Brinsley
Sheridan. The Biographia Dramatica says it was condemned, "on
account of a few passages, which the audience thought two
Letter 186 To The Earl Of Hertford.
Arlington Street, Dec. 29, 1763. (page 263)
You are sensible, my dear lord, that any amusement from my
letters must depend upon times and seasons. We are a very absurd
nation (though the French are so good at present as to think us a
very wise one, only because they themselves, are now a very weak
one); but then that absurdity depends upon the almanac.
Posterity, who will know nothing of our intervals, wilt conclude
that this age was a succession of events. I could tell them that
we know as well when an event, as when Easter will happen. Do
but recollect these last ten years. The beginning of October,
one is certain that every body will be at Newmarket, and the Duke
of Cumberland will lose', and Shafto(420) win, two or three
thousand pounds. After that, while people are preparing to come
to town for the winter, the ministry is suddenly changed, and all
the world comes to learn how it happened, a fortnight sooner than
they intended; and fully persuaded that the new arrangement
cannot last a month. The Parliament opens; every body is bribed;
and the new establishment is perceived to be composed of adamant.
November passes, with two or three self-murders, and a new play.
Christmas arrives; every body goes out of town; and a riot
happens in one of the theatres. The Parliament meets again;
taxes are warmly opposed; and some citizen makes a fortune by a
subscription.(421) The opposition languishes; balls and
assemblies begin; some master and miss begin to get together, are
talked of, and give occasion to forty more matches being
invented; an unexpected debate starts up at the end of the
session, that makes more noise than any thing that was designed
to make a noise, and subsides again in a new peerage or two.
Ranelagh opens and Vauxhall; one produces scandal, and t'other a
drunken quarrel. People separate, some to Tunbridge, and some to
all the horseraces in England; and so the year comes again to
October. I dare to prophesy, that if you keep this letter, YOU
Will find that my future correspondence will be but an
illustration of this text; at least, it is an excuse for my
having very little to tell you at present, and was the reason of
My not writing to you last week.
Before the Parliament adjourned, there was nothing but a trifling
debate in an empty House, occasioned by a motion from the
ministry, to order another physician and surgeon to attend
Wilkes; it was carried by about seventy to thirty, and was only
memorable by producing Mr. Charles Townshend, who having sat
silent through the question of privilege, found himself
interested in the defence of Dr. Brocklesby!(422) Charles
ridiculed Lord North extremely, and had warm words with George
Grenville. I do not look upon this as productive of
consequential speaking for the opposition; on the contrary, I
should expect him sooner in place, if the ministry could be fools
enough to restore weight to him and could be ignorant that he can
never hurt them so much as by being with them. Wilkes refused to
see Heberden and Hawkins, whom the House commissioned to visit
him; and to laugh at us more, sent for two Scotchmen, Duncan and
Middleton. Well! but since that, he is gone off himself:
however, as I (lid in D'Eon's case, I can now only ask news of
him from you, and not tell you any; for You have got him. I do
not believe you will invite him, and make so much of him, as
the Duke of Bedford did. Both sides pretend joy at his being
gone; and for once I can believe both. You will be diverted, as
I was, at the cordial esteem the ministers have for one another;
Lord Waldegrave(423) told my niece, this morning, that he had
offered a shilling, to receive an hundred pounds when-@Sandwich
shall lose his head! What a good opinion they have of one
another! apropos to losing heads, is Lally beheaded?
The East India Company have come to an unanimous resolution of
not paying Lord Clive the three hundred thousand pounds, which
the ministry had promised him in lieu of his nabobical annuity.
Just after the bargain was made, his old rustic of a father was
at the King's lev`ee; the King asked where his son was; he
replied, "Sire, he is coming to town, and their your Majesty will
have another vote." If you like these franknesses, I can tell
you another. The Chancellor(424) is chosen a governor of St.
Bartholomew's Hospital; a smart gentleman, who was sent with the
staff, carried it in the evening, when the Chancellor happened to
be drunk. "Well, Mr. Bartlemy," said his lordship, snuffling,
"what have you to say?" The man, who had prepared a formal
harangue, was transported to have so fair opportunity given him
of uttering it, and with much dapper gesticulation congratulated
his lordship on his health, and the nation on enjoying such great
abilities. The Chancellor stopped him short, crying, "By God, it
is a lie! I have neither health nor abilities my bad health has
destroyed my abilities." The late Chancellor(425) is much
The last time the King was at Drury-lane, the play given out for
the next night was "All in the Wrong:" the Galleries clapped, and
then cried out. "Let us be all in the right! Wilkes and Liberty!"
When the King comes to a theatre, or goes out, or goes to the
House, there is not a single applause; to the Queen there is a
little: in short, Louis le bien-aim`e is not French at present
for King George.
The town, you may be sure, is very empty; the greatest party is
at Woburn, whither the Comte de Guerchy and the Duc de Pecquigny
are going. I have been three days at Strawberry, and had George
Selwyn, Williams, and Lord Ashburnham;(426) but the weather was
intolerably bad. We have scarce had a moment's drought since you
went, no more than for so many months before. The towns and the
roads are beyond measure dirty, and every thing else under water.
I was not well neither, nor am yet, with pains in my stomach:
however, if I ever used one, I could afford to pay a physician.
T'other day, coming from my Lady Townshend's, it came into my
head to stop at one of the lottery offices, to inquire after a
single ticket I had, expecting to find it a blank, but it was
five hundred pounds--Thank you! I know you wish me joy. It will
buy twenty pretty things when I come to Paris.
I read last night, your new French play, Le Comte de Warwick(427)
which we hear has succeeded much. I must say, it does but
confirm the cheap idea I have of you French: not to mention the
preposterous perversion of history in so known a story, the
Queen's ridiculous preference of old Warwick to a young King; the
omission of the only thing she ever said or did in her whole life
worth recording, which was thinking herself too low for his wife,
and too high for his mistress;(428) the romantic honour bestowed
on two such savages as Edward and Warwick: besides these, and
forty such glaring absurdities, there is but one scene that has
any merit, that between Edward and Warwick in the third act.
Indeed, indeed, I don't honour the modern French: it is making
your son but a slender compliment, with his knowledge, for them
to say it is extraordinary. The best proof I think they give of
their taste, is liking you all three. I rejoice that your little
boy is recovered. Your brother has been at Park-place this week,
and stays a week longer: his hill is too high to be drowned.
Thank you for your kindness to Mr. Selwyn: if he had too much
impatience, I am sure it proceeded only from his great esteem for
I will endeavour to learn what you desire; and will answer, in
another letter, that and some other passages in your last. Dr.
Hunter is very good, and calls on me sometimes. You may guess
whether we talk you over or not. Adieu!
P. S. There has not been a death, but Sir William Maynard's, who
is come to life again: or a marriage, but Admiral Knollys's who
has married his divorced wife again.
(420) Robert Shafto, Esq. of Whitworth, member of Durham, well
known on the turf.-C.
(421) To a loan.-C.
(422) Dr. Richard Brocklesby, an eminent physician. He had been
examined before the House of Commons, as to Mr. Wilkes's
incapacity to attend in his place. His Whig politics, which
probably induced Mr. Wilkes to sen@ for him, induced the majority
of the House to distrust his report, and to order two other
medical men to visit the patient. This proceeding implied a
doubt of Dr. Brocklesby's veracity, which certainly called for,@
the interference of Mr. Charles Townshend, who was a private as
well as a political friend of the doctor's. Dr. Brocklesby,
besides being one of the first physicians of his time, was a man
of literature and taste, and did not confine his society nor his
beneficence to those who agreed with him in politics. He was the
friend and physician of Dr. Johnson, and when, towards the close
of this great man's life, it was supposed that his circumstances
were not quite easy, Dr. Brocklesby generously pressed him to
accept an annuity of one hundred pounds, and he attended him to
his death with unremitted affection and care.-C.
(423) John, third Earl of Waldegrave, a general in the army: in
1770 master of the horse to the Queen.-E.
(424) Lord Henley; afterwards Earl of Northington.
(425) Lord Hardwicke.
(426) John, second Earl of Ashburnham; one of the lords of the
bedchamber, and keeper of the parks.-E.
(427) By La Harpe. This play, written when the author was only
twenty-three years old, raised him into great celebrity; and is,
in the opinion of the French critics, his first work in merit as
well as date.-C.
(428) This phrase has been also attributed to Mademoiselle de
Montmorency, afterwards Princess de Cond`e, in reply to the
solicitations of Henry IV.; and is told also of Mademoiselle de
Rohan, afterwards Duchess of Deux Ponts.-C.
Letter 187 To George Montagu, Esq.
Arlington Street, Jan. 11, 1764. (page 266)
It is an age, I own, since I wrote to you; but except politics,
what was there to send you? and for politics, the present are too
contemptible to be recorded by any body but journalists,
gazetteers, and such historians! The ordinary of Newgate, or Mr.
* * * * who write for their monthly half-crown, and who are
indifferent whether Lord Bute, Lord Melcombe, or Maclean is their
hero, may swear they find diamonds on dunghills; but you will
excuse me, if I let our correspondence lie dormant rather than
deal in such trash. I am forced to send Lord Hertford and Sir
Horace Mann such garbage, because they are out of England, and
the sea softens and makes palatable any potion, as it does
claret; but unless I can divert you, I had rather wait till we
can laugh together; the best employment for friends, who do not
mean to pick one another's pocket, nor make a property of
either's frankness. Instead of politics, therefore, I shall
amuse you to-day with a fairy tale.
I was desired to be at my Lady Suffolk's on New-year's morn,
where I found Lady Temple and others. On the toilet Miss Hotham
spied a small round box. She seized it with all the eagerness
and curiosity of eleven years. In it was wrapped up a
heart-diamond ring and a paper in which, in a hand as small as
Buckinger's, who used to write the Lord's Prayer in the compass
of a silver penny, were the following lines:--
Sent by a sylph, unheard, unseen
A new-year's gift from Mab our queen:
But tell it not, for if you do,
You will be pinch'd all black and blue.
Consider well, what a disgrace,
To show abroad your mottled face
Then seal your lips, put on the ring,
And sometimes think of Ob., the king.
You will easily guess that Lady Temple(429) was the poetess, and
that we were delighted with the genteelness of the thought and
execution. The child, you may imagine, was less transported with
the poetry than the present. Her attention, however, was hurried
backwards and forwards from the ring to a new coat, that she had
been trying on when sent for down; impatient to revisit her coat,
and to show the ring to her maid, she whisked up stairs; when she
came down again, she found a letter sealed, and lying on the
floor--new exclamations! Lady Suffolk bade her open it: here it
Your tongue, too nimble for your sense,
Is guilty of a high offence;
Hath introduced unkind debate,
And topsy-turvy turned our state.
In gallantry I sent the ring,
The token of a lovesick king:
Under fair Mab's auspicious name
>From me the trifling present came.
You blabb'd the news in Suffolk's ear;
The tattling zephyrs brought it here;
As Mab was indolently laid
Under a poppy's spreading shade.
The jealous queen started in rage;
She kick'd her crown and beat her page:
"Bring me my magic wand," she cries;
"Under that primrose there it lies;
I'll change the silly, saucy chit,
Into a flea, a louse, a nit,
A worm, a grasshopper, a rat,
An owl, a monkey, hedge-hog, bat.
Ixion once a cloud embraced,
By Jove and jealousy well placed;
What sport to see proud Oberon stare,
And flirt it with a pet-en Pair!"
Then thrice she stamped the trembling ground,
And thrice she waved her wand around;
When I endowed with greater skill,
And less inclined to do you ill,
Mutter'd some words, withheld her arm
And kindly stoppld the unfinish'd charm
But though not changed to owl or bat,
Or something more indelicate;
Yet, as your tongue has run too fast,
Your boasted beauty must not last,
No more shall frolic Cupid lie
In ambuscade in either eye,
>From thence to aim his keenest dart
To captivate each youthful heart:
No more shall envious misses pine
At charms now flown, that once were thine:
No more, since you so ill behave,
Shall injured Oberon be your slave.
The next day my Lady Suffolk desired I would write her a patent
for appointing Lady Temple poet laureate to the fairies. I was
excessively out of order with a pain in my stomach, which I had
had for ten days, and was fitter to write verses like a poet
laureate, than for making one: however, I was going home to
dinner alone, and at six I sent her some lines, which you ought
to have seen how sick I was, to excuse; but first, I must tell
you my tale methodically. The next morning by nine o'clock Miss
Hotham (she must forgive me twenty years hence for saying she was
eleven, for I recollect she is but ten,) arrived at Lady
Temple's, her face and neck all spotted with saffron, and
limping. "Oh, Madam!" said she, "I am undone for ever if you do
not assist me!" "Lord, child," cried my Lady Temple, "what is
the matter?" thinking she had hurt herself, or lost the ring, and
that she was stolen out before her aunt was up. "Oh, Madam,"
said the girl. "nobody but you can assist me!" My Lady Temple
protests the 'child acted her part so well as to deceive her.
"What can I do for you?" "Dear Madam, take this load from my
back; nobody but you can." Lady Temple turned her round, and
upon her back was tied a child's waggon. In it were three tiny
purses of blue velvet; in one of them a silver cup, in another a
crown of laurel, and in the third four new silver pennies, with
the patent, signed at top, Oberon Imperator; and two sheets of
warrants strung together with blue silk according to form; and at
top an office seal of wax and a chaplet of cut paper on it. The
warrants were these:--
>From the Royal Mews:
A waggon with the draught horses, delivered by command without
>From the Lord Chamberlain's Office:
A warrant with the royal sign manual, delivered by command
without fee, being first entered in the office books.
>From the Lord Steward's Office:
A butt of sack, delivered without fee or gratuity, with an order
for returning the cask for the use of the office, by command.
>From the Great Wardrobe:
Three velvet bags, delivered without fee, by command.
>From the Treasurer of the Household's Office:
A year's salary paid free from land-tax, poundage, or any other
deduction whatever, by command.
>From the Jewel Office:
A silver butt, a silver cup, a wreath of bays, by command without
Then came the patent:
By these presents be it known,
To all who bend before your throne,
Fays and fairies, elves and sprites,
Beauteous dames and gallant knights,
That we, Oberon the grand,
Emperor of fairy land,
King of moonshine, prince of dreams,
Lord of Aganippe's streams,
Baron of the dimpled isles
That lie in pretty maidans' smiles,
Arch-treasurer of all the graces
Dispersed through fifty lovely faces,
Sovereign of the slipper's order,
With all the rites thereon that border,
Defender of the sylphic faith,
Declare--and thus your monarch saith:
Whereas there is a noble dame,
Whom mortals Countess Temple name,
To whom ourself did erst impart
The choicest secrets of our art,
Taught her to tune the harmonious line
To our own melody divine,
Taught her the graceful negligence,
Which, scorning art and veiling sense,
Achieves that conquest o'er the heart
Sense seldom gains, and never art;
This lady, 'tis our royal will
Our laureate's vacant seat should fill:
A chaplet of immortal bays
Shall crown her brow and guard her lays;
Of nectar sack an acorn cup
Be at her board each year fill'd up;
And as each quarter feast comes round
A silver penny shall be found
Within the compass of her shoe;
And so we bid you all adieu!
Given at our palace of Cowslip-castle, the shortest night of the
year. Oberon. And underneath,
How shall I tell you the greatest curiosity of the story? The
whole plan and execution of the second act was laid and adjusted
by my Lady Suffolk herself and Will. Chetwynd, master of the
mint, Lord Bolingbroke's Oroonoko-Chetwynd; he fourscore, she
past seventy-six; and, what is more, much worse than I was, for,
added to her deafness, she has been confined these three weeks
with the gout in her eyes, was actually then in misery, and had
been without sleep. What spirits, and cleverness, and
imagination, at that age, and under those afflicting
circumstances! You reconnoitre her old court knowledge, how
charmingly she has applied it! Do you wonder I pass so many
hours and evenings with her? Alas! I had like to
have lost her this morning! They had poulticed her feet to draw
the gout downwards, and began to succeed yesterday, but to-day it
flew up into the head, and she was almost in convulsions with the
agony, and screamed dreadfully; proof enough how ill she was, for
her patience and good breeding makes her for ever sink and
conceal what she feels. This evening the gout has been driven
back to her foot, and I trust she is out of' danger. Her loss
would be irreparable to me at Twickenham, where she is by far the
most rational and agreeable company I have.
I don't tell you that the Hereditary Prince(430) is still
expected and not arrived. A royal wedding would be a flat
episode after a re(il fairy tale, though the bridegroom is a
hero. I have not seen your brother General yet, but have called
on him. When come you yourself? Never mind the town and its
filthy politics; we can go to the gallery at Strawberry--stay, I
don't know whether we can or not, my hill is almost drowned, I
don't know how your mountain is--well, we can take a boat, and
always be gay there; I wish we may be so at seventy-six and
eighty! I abominate politics more and more; we had glories, and
would not keep them: well! content, that there was an end of
blood; then perks prerogative its ass's ears up; we are always to
be saving our liberties, and then staking them
again! 'Tis wearisome! I hate the discussion, and yet One cannot
always sit at a gaming-table and never make a bet. I wish for
nothing, I care not a straw for the ins or the outs; I determine
never to think of them, yet the contagion catches one; can you
tell any thing that will prevent infection? Well then, here I
swear,-no I won't swear, one always breaks one's oath. Oh, that
I had been born to love a court like Sir William Breton! I should
have lived and died with the comfort of thinking that courts
there will be to all eternity, and the liberty of my country
would never once have ruffled my smile, or spoiled my bow. I
envy Sir William. Good night!
(429) Anne, one of the daughters and coheirs of Thomas Chambers,
of Hanworth, in the county of Middlesex, Esq. wife of Earl
Temple. This lady was a woman of genius: it will hereafter be
seen, that a small volume of her poems was printed at the
Strawberry Hill press.-E.
(430) Of Brunswick.
Letter 188 To The Earl Of Hertford.
Arlington Street, Jan. 22, 1764. (page 270)
Monsieur Monin, who will deliver this to you, my dear lord, is
the particular friend I mentioned in my last,(431) and is,
indeed, no particular friend of mine at all, but I had a mind to
mislead my Lord Sandwich, and send you one letter which he should
not open. This I write in peculiar confidence to you, and insist
upon your keeping it entirely to yourself from every living
creature. It will be an answer to several passages in your
letters, to which I did not care to reply by the post.
Your brother was not pleased with your laying the stopping your
bills to his charge.(432) To tell you the truth, he thinks you
are too much inclined to courts and ministers, as you think him
too little so. So far from upbraiding him on that head, give me
leave to say you have no reason to be concerned at it. You must
be sensible, my dear lord, that you are far from standing well
with the opposition, and should any change happen, your brother's
being well with them, would prevent any appearance that might be
disagreeable to you. In truth, I cannot think you have abundant
reason to be fond of the administration. Lord Bute(433) never
gave you the least real mark of friendship. The Bedfords
certainly do not wish you well: Lord Holland has amply proved
himself your enemy: for a man of your morals, it would be a
disgrace to you to be connected with Lord Sandwich; and for
George Grenville,(434) he has shown himself the falsest and most
contemptible of mankind. He is now the intimate tool of the
Bedfords, and reconciled to Lord Bute, whom he has served and
disserved just as occasion or interest directed. In this
situation of things, can you wonder that particular marks of
favour are withheld from you, or that the expenses of your
journey are not granted to you as they were to the
Duke of Bedford!
You ask me how your letters please; it is impossible for me to
learn, now I am so disconnected with every thing ministerial. I
wish YOU not to make them please too much. The negotiations with
France must be the great point on which the nation will fix its
eyes: with France we must break sooner or later. Your letters
will be strictly canvassed: I hope and firmly believe that
nothing will appear in them but attention to the honour and
interest of the nation; points, I doubt, little at the heart of
the present administration, who have gone too far not to be in
the power of France, and who must bear any thing rather than
quarrel. I would not take the liberty of saying so much to you,
if, by being on the spot, I was not a judge how very serious
affairs grow, and how necessary it is for you to be upon your
Another question you ask is, whether it is true that the
opposition is disunited. I will give you one very necessary
direction, which is, not to credit any court stories. Sandwich
is the father of lies,(435) and every report is tinctured by him.
The administration give it out, and trust to this disunion. I
will tell you very nearly what truth there is or is not in this.
The party in general is as firmly and cordially united as ever
party was. Consider, that without any heads or leaders at all,
102(436) men stuck to Wilkes, the worst cause they could have
had, and with all the weight of the Yorkes against them. With
regard to the leaders there is a difference. The old Chancellor
is violent against the court: but, I believe, displeased that his
son was sacrificed(437) to Pratt, in the case of privilege.
Charles Yorke(438) resigned, against his own and Lord
Royston,S(439) inclination, is particularly angry with Newcastle
for complying with Pitt in the affair of privilege, and not less
displeased that Pitt prefers Pratt to him for the seals; but then
Norton is attorney-general, and it would not be graceful to
return to court, which he has quitted, while the present
ministers remain there. In short, as soon as the affair of
Wilkes and privilege is at an end, it is much expected that the
Yorkes will take part in the opposition. It is for that
declaration that Charles Townshend says he waits. He again broke
out strongly on Friday last against the ministry, attacking
George Grenville, who seems his object. However, the childish
fluctuation of his temper, and the vehemence of his brother
George(440) for the court, that is for himself, will for ever
make Charles little to be depended on. For Mr. Pitt, you know,
he never will act like any other man in the opposition, and
to that George Grenville trusts: however, here are such
materials, that if they could once be put in operation for a
fortnight together, the present administration would be blown up.
To this you may throw in dissensions among themselves: Lord
Halifax and Lord Talbot are greatly dissatisfied. Lord Bute is
reconciled to the rest; sees the King continually; and will soon
want more power, or will have more jealousy than is consistent
with their union. Many single men are ill disposed to them,
particularly Lord George Sackville: indeed, nobody is with them,
but as it is farther off from, or nearer to, quarter-day: the
nation is unanimous against them: a disposition, which their own
foolish conduct during the episode of the Prince of
Brunswick,(441) to which I am now coming, has sufficiently
manifested. The fourth question put to him on his arrival was,
"When do you go?" The servants of the King and Queen were forbid
to put on their new clothes for the wedding, or drawing-room,
next day, and ordered to keep them for the Queen's birth-day.
Such pains were taken to keep the Prince from any intercourse
with any of the opposition, that he has done nothing but take
notice of them. He not only wrote to the Duke of Newcastle and
Mr. Pitt, but has been at Hayes to see the latter, and has dined
twice with the Duke of Cumberland; the first time on Friday last,
when he was appointed to be at St. James's at half an hour after
seven, to a concert. As the time drew near, F`e6ronce(442)
pulled out his watch; the Duke took the hint, and said, "I am
sorry to part with you, but I fear your time is come." He
replied "N'importe;" sat on, drank coffee, and it was half an
hour after eight before he set out from Upper-Grosvenor street
for St. James's. He and Princess Augusta have felt and shown
their disgusts so strongly, and his suite have complained so much
of the neglect and disregard of him, and of the very quick
dismission of him, that the people have caught it, and on
Thursday, at the play, received the King and Queen without the
least symptom of applause, but repeated such outrageous
acclamations to the Prince, as operated very visibly on the
King's countenance. Not a gun was fired for the marriage, and
Princess Augusta asking Lord Gower(443) about some ceremony, to
which he replied, it could not be, as no such thing had been done
for the Prince of Orange;(444) she said, it was extraordinary to
quote that precedent to her in one case, which had been followed
in no other. I could tell you ten more of these stories, but one
shall suffice. The Royal Family went to the Opera on Saturday:
the crowd not to be described: the Duchess of Leeds, ]lady
Denbigh, Lady Scarborough, and others, sat on chairs between the
scenes; the doors of the front boxes were thrown open, and the
passages were all filled to the back of the stoves; nay, women of
fashion stood on the very stairs till eight at night. In the
middle of the second act, the Hereditary Prince, who sat with his
wife and her brothers in their box, got up, turned his back to
the King and Queen, pretending to offer his place to Lady
Tankerville(445) and then to Lady Susan. You know enough of
Germans and their stiffness to etiquette, to be sure that this
could not be done inadvertently: especially as he repeated this,
only without standing up, with one of his own gentlemen, in the
third act. I saw him, without any difficulty, from the Duchess
of Grafton's box. He is extremely slender, and looks many years
older than he is: in short, I suppose it is his manner with which
every mortal is captivated, for though he is well enough for a
man, he is far from having any thing striking in his person.
To-day (this is Tuesday) there was a drawing-room at
Leicester-house, and to-night there is a subscription ball for
him at Carlisle-house, Soho, made chiefly by the Dukes of
Devonshire and Grafton. I was invited to be of it, but not
having been to wait on him, did not think it Civil to meet him
there. The Court, by accident or design, had forgot to have a
bill passed for naturalizing him. The Duke of Grafton Undertook
it, on which they adopted it, and the Duke of Bedford moved it;
but the Prince sent word to the Duke of Grafton, that he should
not have liked the compliment half so well, if he had not owed it
to his grace. You may judge how he will report of us at his
With regard to your behaviour to Wilkes,(446) I think you
observed the just medium: I have not heard it mentioned: if they
should choose to blame it, it will not be to me, known as your
friend and no friend of theirs. They very likely may say that
you did too much, though the Duke of Bedford did ten times more.
Churchill has published a new satire, called "The Duellist,"(447)
the finest and bitterest of his works. The poetry is glorious;
some lines on Lord Holland, hemlock: charming abuse on that
scurrilous mortal, Bishop Warburton: an ill-drawn, though
deserved, character of Sandwich; and one, as much deserved, and
better, of Norton.
Wednesday, after dinner.
The Lord knows when this letter will be finished; I have been
writing it this week, and believe I shall continue it till old
Monin sets out. Encore, the Prince of Brunswick. At the ball,
at Buckingham house, on Monday: it had begun two hours before he
arrived. Except the King's and Queen's servants, nobody was
there but the dukes of Marlborough and Ancaster, and Lord Bute's
two daughters. No supper. On Sunday evening the Prince had been
to Newcastle-house, to visit the Duchess. His speech to the Duke
of Bedford, at first, was by no means so strong as they gave it
out; he only said, "Milord, nous avons fait deux m`etiers bien
diff`erens; le v`otre a `et`e le plus agr`eable: j'ai fait couler
du sang, vous l'avez fait cesser." His whole behaviour, so much
`a la minorit`e, makes this much more probable. His Princess
thoroughly, agrees with him. When Mr. Grenville objected to the
greatness of her fortune, the King said, "Oh! it will not be
opposed, for Augusta is in the opposition."
The ball, last night, at Carlisle-house, Soho, was most
magnificent: one hundred and fifty men subscribed, and five
guineas each, and had each three tickets. All the beauties in
town were there, that is, of rank, for there was no bad company.
The Duke of Cumberland was there too; and the Hereditary Prince
so pleased, and in such spirits, that he stayed till five in the
morning. He is gone to-day, heartily sorry to leave every thing
but St. James's and Leicester-house. They lie to-night at Lord
Abercorn's,(448) at Witham, who does not step from his pedestal
to meet them. Lady Strafford said to him, "Soh! my lord, I hear
your house is to be royal] v filled on Wednesday."--"And
serenely,"(449) he replied, and closed his mouth again till next
Our politics have been as follow. Last Friday the opposition
moved for Wilkes's complaint of breach of privilege to be heard
to-day: Grenville objected to it, and at last yielded, after
receiving some smart raps from Charles Townshend and Sir George
Saville. On Tuesday the latter, and Sir William Meredith,
proposed to put it off to the 13th of February, that Wilkes's
servant, the most material evidence might be here. George
Grenville again opposed it, was not supported, and yielded.
Afterwards Dowdeswell moved for a committee on the Cider-bill;
and, at last, a committee was appointed for Tuesday next, with
powers to report the grievances of the bill, and suggest
amendments and redress, but with no authority to repeal it. This
the administration carried but by 167 to 125.
Indeed, many of their people were in the House of Lords, where
the court triumphed still less. They were upon the "Essay on
Woman." Sandwich proposed two questions; 1st, that Wilkes was
the author of it;(450) 2dly, to order the Black Rod to attach
him. It was much objected by the Dukes of Devonshire, Grafton,
Newcastle, and even Richmond, that the first was not proved, and
might affect him in the courts below. Lord Mansfield tried to
explain this away, and Lord Marchmont and Lord Temple had warm
words. At last Sandwich, artfully, to get something, if not all,
agreed to melt both questions into one, which was accepted; and
the vote passed, that it appearing Wilkes was the author, he
should be taken into custody by the usher. It appearing, was
allowed to mean as far as appears. Then a committee was
appointed to search for precedents how to proceed on his being
withdrawn. That dirty dog Kidgel(451) had been summoned by the
Duke of Grafton, but as they only went on the breach of
privilege, he was not called. The new club,(452) at the
house that was the late Lord Waldegrave's, in Albermarle-street,
makes the ministry very uneasy; but they have worse grievances to
Sir Robert Rich(453) is extremely angry with my nephew, the
Bishop of Exeter, who, like his own and wife's family, is
tolerably warm. They were talking together at St. James's, when
A'Court(454) came in, "There's poor A'Court," said the Bishop.
"Poor A,Court!" replied the Marshal, "I wish all those fellows
that oppose the King were to be turned out of the army!" "I
hope," said the Bishop, "they will first turn all the old women
out of it!"
The Duc de Pecquigny was on the point of a duel with Lord
Garlies,(455) at Lord Milton's(456) ball, the former handing the
latter's partner down to supper. I wish you had this Duke again,
lest you should have trouble with him from hence: he seems a
genius of the wrong sort. His behaviour on the visit to Woburn
was very wrong-headed, though their treatment of him was not more
right. Lord Sandwich flung him down in one of their horse-plays,
and almost put his shoulder out. He said the next day there, at
dinner, that for the rest of his life he should fear nothing so
much as a lettre de cachet from a French secretary of state, or a
coup d'`epaule from an English one. After this he had a pique
with the Duchess, with whom he had been playing at whisk. A
shilling and sixpence were left on the table, which nobody
claimed. He was asked if it was his, and said no. Then they
said, let us put it to the cards: there was already a guinea.
The Duchess, in an air of grandeur said, as there was gold for
the groom of the chambers, the sweeper of the room might have the
silver, and brushed it off the table. The Pecquigny took this to
himself, though I don't believe meaned; and complained to the
whole town of it, with large comments, at his return. It is
silly to tell you Such silly stories, but in your situation it
may grow necessary for you to know the truth, if you should hear
them repeated. I am content to have you call me gossip, if I
prove but of the least use to you.
Here have I tapped the ninth page! Well! I am this moment going
to M. de Guerchy's, to know when Monin sets out, that I may
finish this eternal letter. If I tire you, tell me so: I am sure
I do myself. If I speak with too much freedom to you, tell me
so: I have done it in consequence of your questions, and mean it
most kindly. In short, I am ready to amend any thing you
disapprove; so don't take any thing ill, my dear lord, unless I
continue after you have reprimanded me. The safe manner in which
this goes, has made me, too, more explicit than you know I have
been on any other occasion. Adieu!
Well, my letter will be finished at last. M. Monin sets out on
Friday. so does my Lord Holland: but I affect not to know it, for
he is not just the person that you or I should choose to be the
bearer of this. You will be diverted with a story they told me
to-night at the French Ambassador's. When they went to supper,
at Soho, last night, the Duke of Cumberland placed himself at the
head of the table. One of the waiters tapped him on the
shoulder, and said, "Sir, your Royal Highness can't sit there;
that place is designed for the Hereditary Prince." You ought to
have seen how every body's head has been turned with this Prince,
to make this story credible to you. My Lady Rockingham, at
Leicester-house, yesterday, cried great sobs for his departure.
Yours ever, page the ninth.
(431) This letter does not appear.
(432) Lord Hertford had claimed certain expenses of his journey
to Paris which had been allowed to his predecessors, but which
were refused to him; he therefore may have expressed a suspicion
that his brother's opposition in Parliament rendered the
ministers at home less favourable to him; but there never was any
difference or coldness between the brothers in their private
relations. This appears from their private letters at this
(433) In April 1763, Lord Bute surprised both his friends and his
opponents by a sudden resignation. The motive of this resolution
is still a mystery. Some have said, that having concluded the
peace, his patriotic views and ambition were satisfied; others
that he resigned in disgust at the falsehood and ingratitude of
public men; others that he was driven from his station by libels
and unpopularity. None of these reasons seem consistent with a
desire which Lord Bute appears to have entertained, to return to
office with a new administration. A clamour was long kept up
against Lord Bute's secret and irresponsible influence; but it is
now generally admitted that no such influence existed, and that
Lord Bute soon ceased to have any weight in public affairs.-C.
(434) Mr. Walpole was so vehement in his party feelings, that all
his characters of political enemies must be read with great
(435) Lord Sandwich was an able minister, and so important a
member of the administration to which Mr. Walpole was now
opposed, that we must read all that he says of this lord with
some "grains of allowance."-C.
(436) On the 19th of January, when the ministers were about to
proceed to vote Wilkes in contempt, and expel him, a motion was
made by Wilkes's friends to postpone the consideration of the
affair till next day; this was lost by 239 to 102.-C.
(437) He means that the opposition had adopted Pratt's view
instead of Mr. Yorke's.-C.
(438) This is not true; the real cause of his resignation is
stated ant`e, p. 251, letter 181; he certainly disagreed from the