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STRAWBERRY HILL, _April_ 4, 1760.

Sir,–As I have very little at present to trouble you with myself, I should have deferred writing till a better opportunity, if it were not to satisfy the curiosity of a friend; a friend whom you, Sir, will be glad to have made curious, as you originally pointed him out as a likely person to be charmed with the old Irish poetry you sent me. It is Mr. Gray, who is an enthusiast about those poems, and begs me to put the following queries to you; which I will do in his own words, and I may say truly, _Poeta loquitur_.

“I am so charmed with the two specimens of Erse poetry, that I cannot help giving you the trouble to inquire a little farther about them, and should wish to see a few lines of the original, that I may form some slight idea of the language, the measure, and the rhythm.

“Is there anything known of the author or authors, and of what antiquity are they supposed to be?

“Is there any more to be had of equal beauty, or at all approaching to it?

“I have been often told, that the poem called Hardykanute[1] (which I always admired and still admire) was the work of somebody that lived a few years ago. This I do not at all believe, though it has evidently been retouched in places by some modern hand; but, however, I am authorised by this report to ask, whether the two poems in question are certainly antique and genuine. I make this inquiry in quality of an antiquary, and am not otherwise concerned about it; for if I were sure that any one now living in Scotland had written them, to divert himself and laugh at the credulity of the world, I would undertake a journey into the Highlands only for the pleasure of seeing him.”

[Footnote 1: “Hardyknute” was an especial favourite of Sir W. Scott. In his “Life of Mr. Lockhart” he mentions having found in one of his books a mention that “he was taught ‘Hardyknute’ by heart before he could read the ballad itself; it was the first poem he ever learnt, the last he should ever forget” (c. 2). And in the very last year of his life, while at Malta, in a discussion on ballads in general, “he greatly lamented his friend Mr. Frere’s heresy in not esteeming highly enough that of ‘Hardyknute.’ He admitted that it was not a veritable old ballad, but ‘just old enough,’ and a noble imitation of the best style.” In fact, it was the composition of a lady, Mrs. Hachet, of Wardlaw.]

You see, Sir, how easily you may make our greatest southern bard travel northward to visit a brother. The young translator has nothing to do but to own a forgery, and Mr. Gray is ready to pack up his lyre, saddle Pegasus, and set out directly. But seriously, he, Mr. Mason, my Lord Lyttelton, and one or two more, whose taste the world allows, are in love with your Erse elegies: I cannot say in general they are so much admired–but Mr. Gray alone is worth satisfying.

The “Siege of Aquileia,” of which you ask, pleased less than Mr. Home’s other plays.[1] In my own opinion, “Douglas” far exceeds both the other. Mr. Home seems to have a beautiful talent for painting genuine nature and the manners of his country. There was so little of nature in the manners of both Greeks and Romans, that I do not wonder at his success being less brilliant when he tried those subjects; and, to say the truth, one is a little weary of them. At present, nothing is talked of, nothing admired, but what I cannot help calling a very insipid and tedious performance: it is a kind of novel, called “The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy;”[2] the great humour of which consists in the whole narration always going backwards. I can conceive a man saying that it would be droll to write a book in that manner, but have no notion of his persevering in executing it. It makes one smile two or three times at the beginning, but in recompense makes one yawn for two hours. The characters are tolerably kept up, but the humour is for ever attempted and missed. The best thing in it is a Sermon, oddly coupled with a good deal of coarseness, and both the composition of a clergyman. The man’s head, indeed, was a little turned before, now topsy-turvy with his success and fame. Dodsley has given him six hundred and fifty pounds for the second edition and two more volumes (which I suppose will reach backwards to his great-great-grandfather); Lord Fauconberg, a donative of one hundred and sixty pounds a-year; and Bishop Warburton[3] gave him a purse of gold and this compliment (which happened to be a contradiction), “that it was quite an original composition, and in the true Cervantic vein:” the only copy that ever was an original, except in painting, where they all pretend to be so. Warburton, however, not content with this, recommended the book to the bench of bishops, and told them Mr. Sterne, the author, was the English Rabelais. They had never heard of such a writer. Adieu!

[Footnote 1: “_Mr. Home’s other plays._” Mr. Home was a Presbyterian minister. His first play was “The Tragedy of Douglas,” which D’Israeli describes as a drama which, “by awakening the piety of domestic affections with the nobler passions, would elevate and purify the mind;” and proceeds, with no little indignation, to relate how nearly it cost the author dear. The “Glasgow divines, with the monastic spirit of the darkest ages, published a paper, which I abridge for the contemplation of the reader, who may wonder to see such a composition written in the eighteenth century: ‘On Wednesday, February 2, 1757, the Presbytery of Glasgow came to the following resolution: They, having seen a printed paper intituled an admonition and exhortation of the reverend Presbytery of Edinburgh, which, among other evils prevailing, observed the following _melancholy_ but _notorious_ facts, that one who is a minister of the Church of Scotland did _himself_ write and compose _a stage play_, intituled ‘The Tragedy of Douglas,’ and got it to be acted at the theatre of Edinburgh; and that he, with several other ministers of the Church, were present, and _some_ of them _oftener than once_, at the acting of the said play before a numerous audience. The presbytery being _deeply affected_ with this new and strange appearance, do publish these sentiments,'” &c., &c.–sentiments with which I will not disgust the reader.]

[Footnote 2: Walpole’s criticism is worth preserving as a singular proof how far prejudice can obscure the judgement of a generally shrewd observer, and it is the more remarkable since he selects as its especial fault the failure of the author’s attempts at humour; while all other critics, from Macaulay to Thackeray, agree in placing it among those works in which the humour is most conspicuous and most attractive. Even Johnson, when Boswell once, thinking perhaps that his “illustrious friend” might be offended with its occasional coarseness, pronounced Sterne to be “a dull fellow,” was at once met with, “Why no, Sir.”]

[Footnote 3: Bishop Warburton was Bishop of Gloucester, a prelate whose vast learning was in some degree tarnished by unepiscopal violence of temper. He was a voluminous author; his most important work being an essay on “The Divine Legation of Moses.” In one of his letters to Garrick he praises “Tristram Shandy” highly, priding himself on having recommended it to all the best company in town.]



_June_ 20, 1760.

I am obliged to you, Sir, for the volume of Erse poetry: all of it has merit; but I am sorry not to see in it the six descriptions of night with which you favoured me before, and which I like as much as any of the pieces. I can, however, by no means agree with the publisher, that they seem to be parts of an heroic poem; nothing to me can be more unlike. I should as soon take all the epitaphs in Westminster Abbey, and say it was an epic poem on the History of England. The greatest part are evidently elegies; and though I should not expect a bard to write by the rules of Aristotle, I would not, on the other hand, give to any work a title that must convey so different an idea to every common reader. I could wish, too, that the authenticity had been more largely stated. A man who knows Dr. Blair’s character will undoubtedly take his word; but the gross of mankind, considering how much it is the fashion to be sceptical in reading, will demand proofs, not assertions.

I am glad to find, Sir, that we agree so much on “The Dialogues of the Dead;”[1] indeed, there are very few that differ from us. It is well for the author, that none of his critics have undertaken to ruin his book by improving it, as you have done in the lively little specimen you sent me. Dr. Brown has writ a dull dialogue, called “Pericles and Aristides,” which will have a different effect from what yours would have. One of the most objectionable passages in Lord Lyttelton’s book is, in my opinion, his apologising for the _moderate_ government of Augustus. A man who had exhausted tyranny in the most lawless and unjustifiable excesses is to be excused, because, out of weariness or policy, he grows less sanguinary at last!

[Footnote 1: “The Dialogues of the Dead” were by Lord Lyttelton. In an earlier letter Walpole pronounces them “not very lively or striking.”]

There is a little book coming out, that will amuse you. It is a new edition of Isaac Walton’s “Complete Angler,”[1] full of anecdotes and historic notes. It is published by Mr. Hawkins,[2] a very worthy gentleman in my neighbourhood, but who, I could wish, did not think angling so very _innocent_ an amusement. We cannot live without destroying animals, but shall we torture them for our sport–sport in their destruction? I met a rough officer at his house t’other day, who said he knew such a person was turning Methodist; for, in the middle of conversation, he rose, and opened the window to let out a moth. I told him I did not know that the Methodists had any principle so good, and that I, who am certainly not on the point of becoming one, always did so too. One of the bravest and best men I ever knew, Sir Charles Wager, I have often heard declare he never killed a fly willingly. It is a comfortable reflection to me, that all the victories of last year have been gained since the suppression of the Bear Garden and prize-fighting; as it is plain, and nothing else would have made it so, that our valour did not singly and solely depend upon these two Universities. Adieu!

[Footnote 1: “The Complete Angler” is one of those rare books which retain its popularity 250 years after its publication–not for the value of its practical instructions to fishermen, for in this point of view it is valueless (Walton himself being only a worm or livebait fisherman, and the chapters on fly-fishing being by Cotton), but for its healthy tone and love of country scenery and simple country amusements which are seldom more attractively displayed.]

[Footnote 2: Afterwards Sir John Hawkins, the executor and biographer of Dr. Johnson.]



ARLINGTON STREET, _Sept._ 1, 1760.

I was disappointed at your not being at home as I returned from my expedition.

My tour has been extremely agreeable. I set out with winning a good deal at Loo at Ragley; the Duke of Grafton was not so successful, and had some high words with Pam. I went from thence to Offley’s at Whichnovre[1], the individual manor of the flitch of bacon, which has been growing rusty for these thirty years in his hall. I don’t wonder; I have no notion that one could keep in good humour with one’s wife for a year and a day, unless one was to live on the very spot, which is one of the sweetest scenes I ever saw. It is the brink of a high hill; the Trent wriggles through at the foot; Lichfield and twenty other churches and mansions decorate the view. Mr. Anson has bought an estate [Shugborough] close by, whence my Lord used to cast many a wishful eye, though without the least pretensions even to a bit of lard.

[Footnote 1: The manor of Whichnovre, near Lichfield, is held (like the better-known Dunmow, in Essex) on the singular custom of the Lord of the Manor “keeping ready, all times of the year but Lent, one bacon-flyke hanging in his hall, to be given to every man or woman who demanded it a year and a day after marriage, upon their swearing that they would not have changed for none other, fairer nor fouler, richer nor poorer, nor for no other descended of great lineage sleeping nor waking at no time.”]

I saw Lichfield Cathedral, which has been rich, but my friend Lord Brooke and his soldiery treated poor St. Chad[1] with so little ceremony, that it is in a most naked condition. In a niche at the very summit they have crowded a statue of Charles the Second, with a special pair of shoe-strings, big enough for a weathercock. As I went to Lord Strafford’s I passed through Sheffield, which is one of the foulest towns in England in the most charming situation; there are two-and-twenty thousand inhabitants making knives and scissors: they remit eleven thousand pounds a week to London. One man there has discovered the art of plating copper with silver; I bought a pair of candlesticks for two guineas that are quite pretty. Lord Strafford has erected the little Gothic building, which I got Mr. Bentley to draw; I took the idea from Chichester Cross. It stands on a high bank in the menagerie, between a pond and a vale, totally bowered over with oaks. I went with the Straffords to Chatsworth and stayed there four days; there were Lady Mary Coke, Lord Besborough and his daughters, Lord Thomond, Mr. Boufoy, the Duke, the old Duchess, and two of his brothers. Would you believe that nothing was ever better humoured than the ancient Grace? She stayed every evening till it was dark in the skittle-ground, keeping the score; and one night, that the servants had a ball for Lady Dorothy’s birthday, we fetched the fiddler into the drawing-room, and the dowager herself danced with us! I never was more disappointed than at Chatsworth,[2] which, ever since I was born, I have condemned. It is a glorious situation; the vale rich in corn and verdure, vast woods hang down the hills, which are green to the top, and the immense rocks only serve to dignify the prospect. The river runs before the door, and serpentises more than you can conceive in the vale. The Duke is widening it, and will make it the middle of his park; but I don’t approve an idea they are going to execute, of a fine bridge with statues under a noble cliff. If they will have a bridge (which by the way will crowd the scene), it should be composed of rude fragments, such as the giant of the Peak would step upon, that he might not be wetshod. The expense of the works now carrying on will amount to forty thousand pounds. A heavy quadrangle of stables is part of the plan, is very cumbrous, and standing higher than the house, is ready to overwhelm it. The principal front of the house is beautiful, and executed with the neatness of wrought plate; the inside is most sumptuous, but did not please me; the heathen gods, goddesses, Christian virtues, and allegoric gentlefolks, are crowded into every room, as if Mrs. Holman had been in heaven and invited everybody she saw. The great apartment is first; painted ceilings, inlaid floors, and unpainted wainscots make every room _sombre_. The tapestries are fine, but not fine enough, and there are few portraits. The chapel is charming. The great _jet d’eau_ I like, nor would I remove it; whatever is magnificent of the kind in the time it was done, I would retain, else all gardens and houses wear a tiresome resemblance. I except that absurdity of a cascade tumbling down marble steps, which reduces the steps to be of no use at all. I saw Haddon, an abandoned old castle of the Rutlands, in a romantic situation, but which never could have composed a tolerable dwelling. The Duke sent Lord John [Cavendish] with me to Hardwicke, where I was again disappointed; but I will not take relations from others; they either don’t see for themselves, or can’t see for me. How I had been promised that I should be charmed with Hardwicke,[3] and told that the Devonshires ought to have established there! never was I less charmed in my life. The house is not Gothic, but of that betweenity, that intervened when Gothic declined and Paladian was creeping in–rather, this is totally naked of either. It has vast chambers–aye, vast, such as the nobility of that time delighted in, and did not know how to furnish. The great apartment is exactly what it was when the Queen of Scots was kept there. Her council-chamber, the council-chamber of a poor woman, who had only two secretaries, a gentleman-usher, an apothecary, a confessor, and three maids, is so outrageously spacious, that you would take it for King David’s, who thought, contrary to all modern experience, that in the multitude of counsellors there is wisdom. At the upper end is the state, with a long table, covered with a sumptuous cloth, embroidered and embossed with gold,–at least what was gold; so are all the tables. Round the top of the chamber runs a monstrous frieze, ten or twelve feet deep, representing stag-hunting in miserable plastered relief. The next is her dressing-room, hung with patch-work on black velvet; then her state bedchamber. The bed has been rich beyond description, and now hangs in costly golden tatters. The hangings, part of which they say her Majesty worked, are composed of figures as large as life, sewed and embroidered on black velvet, white satin, &c., and represent the virtues that were necessary for her, or that she was forced to have, as Patience and Temperance, &c. The fire-screens are particular; pieces of yellow velvet, fringed with gold, hang on a cross-bar of wood, which is fixed on the top of a single stick, that rises from the foot. The only furniture which has any appearance of taste are the table and cabinets, which are all of oak, richly carved. There is a private chamber within, where she lay, her arms and style over the door; the arras hangs over all the doors; the gallery is sixty yards long, covered with bad tapestry, and wretched pictures of Mary herself, Elizabeth in a gown of sea-monsters, Lord Darnley, James the Fifth and his Queen, curious, and a whole history of Kings of England, not worth sixpence a-piece. There is an original of old Bess of Hardwicke herself, who built the house. Her estates were then reckoned at sixty thousand pounds a-year, and now let for two hundred thousand pounds. Lord John Cavendish told me, that the tradition in the family is, that it had been prophesied to her that she should never die as long as she was building; and that at last she died in a hard frost, when the labourers could not work. There is a fine bank of old oaks in the park over a lake; nothing else pleased me there. However, I was so diverted with this old beldam and her magnificence, that I made this epitaph for her:–

Four times the nuptial bed she warm’d, And every time so well perform’d,
That when death spoil’d each husband’s billing, He left the widow every shilling.
Fond was the dame, but not dejected; Five stately mansions she erected
With more than royal pomp, to vary The prison of her captive Mary.
When Hardwicke’s towers shall bow their head, Nor mass be more in Worksop said;
When Bolsover’s fair fame shall tend Like Olcotes, to its mouldering end;
When Chatsworth tastes no Ca’ndish bounties, Let fame forget this costly countess.

[Footnote 1: Scott alludes to Lord Brooke’s violation of St. Chad’s Cathedral in “Marmion,” whose tomb

Was levelled when fanatic Brooke
The fair cathedral stormed and took, But thanks to Heaven and good St. Chad A guerdon meet the spoiler had (c. vi. 36).

And the poet adds in a note that Lord Brooke himself, “who commanded the assailants, was shot with a musket-ball through the visor of his helmet; and the royalists remarked that he was killed by a shot fired from St. Chad’s Cathedral on St. Chad’s Day, and received his wound in the very eye with which, he had said, he hoped to see the ruin of all the cathedrals in England.”]

[Footnote 2: “_Disappointed with Chatsworth._” In a letter, however, to Lord Strafford three days afterwards he says: “Chatsworth surpassed his expectations; there is such richness and variety of prospect.”]

[Footnote 3: Hardwicke was one of what Home calls “the gentleman’s houses,” to which the unfortunate Queen was removed between the times of her detention at Tutbury and Fotheringay. It is not mentioned by Burton.]

As I returned, I saw Newstead[1] and Althorpe: I like both. The former is the very abbey. The great east window of the church remains, and connects with the house; the hall entire, the refectory entire, the cloister untouched, with the ancient cistern of the convent, and their arms on it; a private chapel quite perfect. The park, which is still charming, has not been so much unprofaned; the present Lord has lost large sums, and paid part in old oaks, five thousand pounds of which have been cut near the house. In recompense he has built two baby forts, to pay his country in castles for the damage done to the navy, and planted a handful of Scotch firs, that look like ploughboys dressed in old family liveries for a public day. In the hall is a very good collection of pictures, all animals; the refectory, now the great drawing-room, is full of Byrons; the vaulted roof remaining, but the windows have new dresses making for them by a Venetian tailor. Althorpe has several very fine pictures by the best Italian hands, and a gallery of all one’s acquaintance by Vandyke and Lely. I wonder you never saw it; it is but six miles from Northampton. Well, good night; I have writ you such a volume, that you see I am forced to page it. The Duke [of Cumberland] has had a stroke of the palsy, but is quite recovered, except in some letters, which he cannot pronounce; and it is still visible in the contraction of one side of his mouth. My compliments to your family.

[Footnote 1: Newstead, since Walpole’s time immortalised as the seat of the illustrious Byron. Evelyn had compared it, for its situation, to Fontainebleau, and particularly extolled “the front of a glorious Abbey Church” and its “brave woods and streams;” and Byron himself has given an elaborate description of it under the name of “Norman Abbey,” not overlooking its woods:

It stood embosomed in a happy valley Crowned by high woodlands, where the Druid-oak Stood like Caractacus in act to rally His host, with broad arms, ‘gainst the thunderstroke–

nor the streams:

Before the mansion lay a lucid lake Broad as transparent, deep, and freshly fed By a river, which its softened way did take In currents through the calmer waters spread Around–

nor the abbey front:

A glorious remnant of the Gothic pile While yet the church was Rome’s, stood half apart In a grand arch, which once screened many an angle.

(“Don Juan,” xiii. 56-59.)]



ARLINGTON STREET, _April_ 16, 1761.

You are a very mule; one offers you a handsome stall and manger in Berkeley Square, and you will not accept it. I have chosen your coat, a claret colour, to suit the complexion of the country you are going to visit; but I have fixed nothing about the lace. Barrett had none of gauze, but what were as broad as the Irish Channel. Your tailor found a very reputable one at another place, but I would not determine rashly; it will be two or three-and-twenty shillings the yard; you might have a very substantial real lace, which would wear like your buffet, for twenty. The second order of gauzes are frippery, none above twelve shillings, and those tarnished, for the species is out of fashion. You will have time to sit in judgment upon these important points; for Hamilton your secretary told me at the Opera two nights ago, that he had taken a house near Bushy, and hoped to be in my neighbourhood for four months.

I was last night at your plump Countess’s, who is so shrunk, that she does not seem to be composed of above a dozen hassocs. Lord Guildford rejoiced mightily over your preferment. The Duchess of Argyle was playing there, not knowing that the great Pam was just dead, to wit, her brother-in-law. He was abroad in the morning, was seized with a palpitation after dinner and was dead before the surgeon could arrive. There’s the crown of Scotland too fallen upon my Lord Bute’s head![1] Poor Lord Edgecumbe is still alive, and may be so for some days; the physicians, who no longer ago than Friday se’nnight persisted that he had no dropsy, in order to prevent his having Ward, on Monday last proposed that Ward should be called in, and at length they owned they thought the mortification begun. It is not clear it is yet; at times he is in his senses, and entirely so, composed, clear, and rational; talks of his death, and but yesterday, after such a conversation with his brother, asked for a pencil to amuse himself with drawing. What parts, genius, and agreeableness thrown away at a hazard table, and not permitted the chance of being saved by the villainy of physicians!

[Footnote 1: Lord Bute used his influence in favour of Scotchmen with so little moderation that he raised a prejudice against the whole nation, which found a vent in Wilkes’s _North Briton_ and Churchill’s bitter and powerful satire, “The Prophecy of Famine.”]

You will be pleased with the Anacreontic, written by Lord Middlesex upon Sir Harry Bellendine: I have not seen anything so antique for ages; it has all the fire, poetry, and simplicity of Horace.

Ye sons of Bacchus, come and join
In solemn dirge, while tapers shine Around the grape-embossed shrine
Of honest Harry Bellendine.

Pour the rich juice of Bourdeaux’s wine, Mix’d with your falling tears of brine, In full libation o’er the shrine
Of honest Harry Bellendine.

Your brows let ivy chaplets twine,
While you push round the sparkling wine, And let your table be the shrine
Of honest Harry Bellendine.

He died in his vocation, of a high fever, after the celebration of some orgies. Though but six hours in his senses, he gave a proof of his usual good humour, making it his last request to the sister Tuftons to be reconciled; which they are. His pretty villa, in my neighbourhood, I fancy he has left to the new Lord Lorn. I must tell you an admirable _bon mot_ of George Selwyn, though not a new one; when there was a malicious report that the eldest Tufton was to marry Dr. Duncan, Selwyn said, “How often will she repeat that line of Shakspeare,

Wake Duncan with this knocking–would thou couldst!”

I enclose the receipt from your lawyer. Adieu!



ARLINGTON STREET, _May_ 5, 1761.

We have lost a young genius, Sir William Williams; an express from Belleisle, arrived this morning, brings nothing but his death. He was shot very unnecessarily, riding too near a battery; in sum, he is a sacrifice to his own rashness, and to ours. For what are we taking Belleisle?[1] I rejoiced at the little loss we had on landing; for the glory, I leave it the common council. I am very willing to leave London to them too, and do pass half the week at Strawberry, where my two passions, lilacs and nightingales, are in full bloom. I spent Sunday as if it were Apollo’s birthday; Gray and Mason were with me, and we listened to the nightingales till one o’clock in the morning. Gray has translated two noble incantations from the Lord knows who, a Danish Gray, who lived the Lord knows when. They are to be enchased in a history of English bards, which Mason and he are writing; but of which the former has not written a word yet, and of which the latter, if he rides Pegasus at his usual footpace, will finish the first page two years hence.

[Footnote 1: Belleisle was of no value to us to keep; but Pitt sent an expedition against it, that in any future treaty of peace he might be able to exchange it for Minorca.]

But the true frantic Oestus resides at present with Mr. Hogarth; I went t’other morning to see a portrait he is painting of Mr. Fox. Hogarth told me he had promised, if Mr. Fox would sit as he liked, to make as good a picture as Vandyke or Rubens could. I was silent–“Why now,” said he, “you think this very vain, but why should not one speak truth?” This _truth_ was uttered in the face of his own Sigismonda, which is exactly a maudlin street-walker, tearing off the trinkets that her keeper had given her, to fling at his head. She has her father’s picture in a bracelet on her arm, and her fingers are bloody with the heart, as if she had just bought a sheep’s pluck in St. James’s Market. As I was going, Hogarth put on a very grave face, and said, “Mr. Walpole, I want to speak to you.” I sat down, and said, I was ready to receive his commands. For shortness, I will mark this wonderful dialogue by initial letters.

H. I am told you are going to entertain the town with something in our way. W. Not very soon, Mr. Hogarth. H. I wish you would let me have it, to correct; I should be very sorry to have you expose yourself to censure; we painters must know more of those things than other people. W. Do you think nobody understands painting but painters? H. Oh! so far from it, there’s Reynolds, who certainly has genius; why, but t’other day he offered a hundred pounds for a picture, that I would not hang in my cellar; and indeed, to say truth, I have generally found, that persons who had studied painting least were the best judges of it; but what I particularly wished to say to you was about Sir James Thornhill (you know he married Sir James’s daughter): I would not have you say anything against him; there was a book published some time ago, abusing him, and it gave great offence. He was the first that attempted _history_ in England, and, I assure you, some Germans have said that he was a very great painter. W. My work will go no lower than the year one thousand seven hundred, and I really have not considered whether Sir J. Thornhill will come within my plan or not; if he does, I fear you and I shall not agree upon his merits. H. I wish you would let me correct it; besides, I am writing something of the same kind myself; I should be sorry we should clash. W. I believe it is not much known what my work is, very few persons have seen it. H. Why, it is a critical history of painting, is not it? W. No, it is an antiquarian history of it in England; I bought Mr. Vertue’s MSS., and, I believe, the work will not give much offence; besides, if it does, I cannot help it; when I publish anything, I give it to the world to think of it as they please. H. Oh! if it is an antiquarian work, we shall not clash; mine is a critical work; I don’t know whether I shall ever publish it. It is rather an apology for painters. I think it is owing to the good sense of the English that they have not painted better. W. My dear Mr. Hogarth, I must take my leave of you, you now grow too wild–and I left him. If I had stayed, there remained nothing but for him to bite me. I give you my honour this conversation is literal, and, perhaps, as long as you have known Englishmen and painters, you never met with anything so distracted. I had consecrated a line to his genius (I mean, for wit) in my Preface; I shall not erase it; but I hope nobody will ask me if he is not mad. Adieu!



STRAWBERRY HILL, _July_ 22, 1761.

For my part, I believe Mademoiselle Scuderi[1] drew the plan of this year. It is all royal marriages, coronations, and victories; they come tumbling so over one another from distant parts of the globe, that it looks just like the handywork of a lady romance writer, whom it costs nothing but a little false geography to make the Great Mogul in love with a Princess of Mecklenburgh, and defeat two marshals of France[2] as he rides post on an elephant to his nuptials. I don’t know where I am. I had scarce found Mecklenburg Strelitz with a magnifying-glass before I am whisked to Pondicherry–well, I take it, and raze it. I begin to grow acquainted with Colonel Coote,[3] and figure him packing up chests of diamonds, and sending them to his wife against the King’s wedding–thunder go to the Tower guns, and behold, Broglie and Soubise are totally defeated; if the mob have not much stronger heads and quicker conceptions than I have, they will conclude my Lord Granby is become nabob. How the deuce in two days can one digest all this? Why is not Pondicherry in Westphalia? I don’t know how the Romans did, but I cannot support two victories every week. Well, but you will want to know the particulars. Broglie and Soubise united, attacked our army on the 15th, but were repulsed; the next day, the Prince Mahomet Alli Cawn–no, no, I mean Prince Ferdinand, returned the attack, and the French threw down their arms and fled, run over my Lord Harcourt, who was going to fetch the new Queen; in short, I don’t know how it was, but Mr. Conway is safe, and I am as happy as Mr. Pitt himself. We have only lost a Lieutenant-colonel Keith; Colonel Marlay and Harry Townshend are wounded.

[Footnote 1: Mdlle. Scuderi and her brother were writers of romances of enormous length, and, in their time, of great popularity (see D’Israeli’s account of them, “Curiosities of Literature,” i. 105).]

[Footnote 2: “_Defeat two French marshals_”–they were Marechal de Broglie and the Prince de Soubise. The action, which, however, was of but little importance, is called by Lacretelle “Le Combat de Fillingshausen.”]

[Footnote 3: Colonel Eyre Coote, the best soldier next to Clive himself that India had yet seen, had defeated the French Governor, Count Lally, at Wandewash in January, 1760; and the capture of Pondicherry was one important fruit of the victory.]

I could beat myself for not having a flag ready to display on my round tower, and guns mounted on all my battlements. Instead of that, I have been foolishly trying on my new pictures upon my gallery. However, the oratory of our Lady of Strawberry shall be dedicated next year on the anniversary of Mr. Conway’s safety. Think with his intrepidity, and delicacy of honour wounded, what I had to apprehend; you shall absolutely be here on the sixteenth of next July. Mr. Hamilton tells me your King does not set out for his new dominions till the day after the Coronation; if you will come to it, I can give you a very good place for the procession; where, is a profound secret, because, if known, I should be teased to death, and none but my first friends shall be admitted. I dined with your secretary [Single-speech Hamilton] yesterday; there were Garrick and a young Mr. Burke[1]–who wrote a book in the style of Lord Bolingbroke, that was much admired. He is a sensible man, but has not worn off his authorism yet, and thinks there is nothing so charming as writers, and to be one. He will know better one of these days. I like Hamilton’s little Marly; we walked in the great _allee_, and drank tea in the arbour of treillage; they talked of Shakspeare and Booth, of Swift and my Lord Bath, and I was thinking of Madame Sevigne. Good night–I have a dozen other letters to write; I must tell my friends how happy I am–not as an Englishman, but as a cousin.

[Footnote 1: Mr. Burke’s book was “A Vindication of Natural Society,” and was regarded as a very successful imitation of the style of Lord Bolingbroke.]



ARLINGTON STREET, _Sept._ 10, 1761.

When we least expected the Queen, she came, after being ten days at sea, but without sickness for above half-an-hour. She was gay the whole voyage, sung to her harpsichord, and left the door of her cabin open. They made the coast of Suffolk last Saturday, and on Monday morning she landed at Harwich; so prosperously has his Majesty’s chief eunuch, as they have made the Tripoline ambassador call Lord Anson, executed his commission. She lay that night at your old friend Lord Abercorn’s, at Witham [in Essex]; and, if she judged by her host, must have thought she was coming to reign in the realm of taciturnity. She arrived at St. James’s a quarter after three on Tuesday the 8th. When she first saw the Palace she turned pale: the Duchess of Hamilton smiled. “My dear Duchess,” said the Princess, “_you_ may laugh; you have been married twice; but it is no joke to me.” Is this a bad proof of her sense? On the journey they wanted her to curl her toupet. “No, indeed,” said she, “I think it looks as well as those of the ladies who have been sent for me: if the King would have me wear a periwig, I will; otherwise I shall let myself alone.” The Duke of York gave her his hand at the garden-gate: her lips trembled, but she jumped out with spirit. In the garden the King met her; she would have fallen at his feet; he prevented and embraced her, and led her into the apartments, where she was received by the Princess of Wales and Lady Augusta: these three princesses only dined with the King. At ten the procession went to chapel, preceded by unmarried daughters of peers, and peeresses in plenty. The new Princess was led by the Duke of York and Prince William; the Archbishop married them; the King talked to her the whole time with great good humour, and the Duke of Cumberland gave her away. She is not tall, nor a beauty; pale, and very thin; but looks sensible; and is genteel. Her hair is darkish and fine; her forehead low, her nose very well, except the nostrils spreading too wide; her mouth has the same fault, but her teeth are good. She talks a good deal, and French tolerably; possesses herself, is frank, but with great respect to the King. After the ceremony, the whole company came into the drawing-room for about ten minutes, but nobody was presented that night. The Queen was in white and silver; an endless mantle of violet-coloured velvet, lined with ermine, and attempted to be fastened on her shoulder by a bunch of large pearls, dragged itself and almost the rest of her clothes halfway down her waist. On her head was a beautiful little tiara of diamonds; a diamond necklace, and a stomacher of diamonds, worth three score thousand pounds, which she is to wear at the Coronation too. Her train was borne by the ten bridesmaids, Lady Sarah Lenox,[1] Lady Caroline Russell, Lady Caroline Montagu, Lady Harriot Bentinck, Lady Anne Hamilton, Lady Essex Kerr (daughters of Dukes of Richmond, Bedford, Manchester, Portland, Hamilton, and Roxburgh); and four daughters of the Earls of Albemarle, Brook, Harcourt, and Ilchester–Lady Elizabeth Keppel, Louisa Greville, Elizabeth Harcourt, and Susan Fox Strangways: their heads crowned with diamonds, and in robes of white and silver. Lady Caroline Russell is extremely handsome; Lady Elizabeth Keppel very pretty; but with neither features nor air, nothing ever looked so charming as Lady Sarah Lenox; she has all the glow of beauty peculiar to her family. As supper was not ready, the Queen sat down, sung, and played on the harpsichord to the Royal Family, who all supped with her in private. They talked of the different German dialects; the King asked if the Hanoverian was not pure–“Oh, no, Sir,” said the Queen; “it is the worst of all.”–She will not be unpopular.

[Footnote 1: Lady Sarah Lennox, in an account of a theatrical performance at Holland House in a previous letter, is described by Walpole as “more beautiful than you can conceive.” The King himself admired her so greatly that he is believed to have had serious thoughts of choosing her to be his queen. She afterwards married Major G. Napier, and became the mother of Sir William and Sir Charles Napier.]

The Duke of Cumberland told the King that himself and Lady Augusta were sleepy. The Queen was very averse to leave the company, and at last articled that nobody should accompany her but the Princess of Wales and her own two German women, and that nobody should be admitted afterwards but the King–they did not retire till between two and three.

The next morning the King had a levee. He said to Lord Hardwicke, “It is a very fine day:” that old gossip replied, “Yes, Sir, and it was a very fine night.” Lord Bute had told the King that Lord Orford had betted his having a child before Sir James Lowther, who had been married the night before to Lord Bute’s eldest daughter; the King told Lord Orford he should be glad to go his halves. The bet was made with Mr. Rigby. Somebody asked the latter how he could be so bad a courtier as to bet against the King? He replied, “Not at all a bad courtier; I betted Lord Bute’s daughter against him.”

After the King’s Levee there was a Drawing-room; the Queen stood under the throne: the women were presented to her by the Duchess of Hamilton, and then the men by the Duke of Manchester; but as she knew nobody, she was not to speak. At night there was a ball, drawing-rooms yesterday and to-day, and then a cessation of ceremony till the Coronation, except next Monday, when she is to receive the address of the Lord Mayor and Aldermen, sitting on the throne attended by the bridesmaids. A ridiculous circumstance happened yesterday; Lord Westmoreland, not very young nor clear-sighted, mistook Lady Sarah Lenox for the Queen, kneeled to her, and would have kissed her hand if she had not prevented him. People think that a Chancellor of Oxford was naturally attracted by the blood of Stuart. It is as comical to see Kitty Dashwood, the famous old beauty of the Oxfordshire Jacobites, living in the palace as Duenna to the Queen. She and Mrs. Boughton, Lord Lyttelton’s ancient Delia, are revived again in a young court that never heard of them. There, I think, you could not have had a more circumstantial account of a royal wedding from the Heralds’ Office. Adieu!

Yours to serve you,


Mecklenburgh King-at-Arms.



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Sept._ 27, 1761.

You are a mean, mercenary woman. If you did not want histories of weddings and coronations, and had not jobs to be executed about muslins, and a bit of china, and counterband goods, one should never hear of you. When you don’t want a body, you can frisk about with greffiers and burgomasters, and be as merry in a dyke as my lady frog herself. The moment your curiosity is agog, or your cambric seized, you recollect a good cousin in England, and, as folks said two hundred years ago, begin to write “upon the knees of your heart.” Well! I am a sweet-tempered creature, I forgive you.


My heraldry was much more offended at the Coronation with the ladies that did walk, than with those that walked out of their place; yet I was not so _perilously_ angry as my Lady Cowper, who refused to set a foot with my Lady Macclesfield; and when she was at last obliged to associate with her, set out on a round trot, as if she designed to prove the antiquity of her family by marching as lustily as a maid of honour of Queen Gwiniver. It was in truth a brave sight. The sea of heads in Palace-yard, the guards, horse and foot, the scaffolds, balconies, and procession exceeded imagination. The Hall, when once illuminated, was noble; but they suffered the whole parade to return into it in the dark, that his Majesty might be surprised with the quickness with which the sconces catched fire. The Champion acted well; the other Paladins had neither the grace nor alertness of Rinaldo. Lord Effingham and the Duke of Bedford were but untoward knights errant; and Lord Talbot had not much more dignity than the figure of General Monk in the Abbey. The habit of the peers is unbecoming to the last degree; but the peeresses made amends for all defects. Your daughter Richmond, Lady Kildare, and Lady Pembroke were as handsome as the Graces. Lady Rochford, Lady Holdernesse, and Lady Lyttelton looked exceedingly well in that their day; and for those of the day before, the Duchess of Queensbury, Lady Westmoreland and Lady Albemarle were surprising. Lady Harrington was noble at a distance, and so covered with diamonds, that you would have thought she had bid somebody or other, like Falstaff, _rob me the Exchequer_. Lady Northampton was very magnificent too, and looked prettier than I have seen her of late. Lady Spencer and Lady Bolingbroke were not the worst figures there. The Duchess of Ancaster [Mistress of the Robes] marched alone after the Queen with much majesty; and there were two new Scotch peeresses that pleased everybody, Lady Sutherland and Lady Dunmore. _Per contra_, were Lady P—-, who had put a wig on, and old E—-, who had scratched hers off; Lady S—-, the Dowager E—-, and a Lady Say and Sele, with her tresses coal-black, and her hair coal-white. Well! it was all delightful, but not half so charming as its being over. The gabble one heard about it for six weeks before, and the fatigue of the day, could not well be compensated by a mere puppet-show; for puppet-show it was, though it cost a million. The Queen is so gay that we shall not want sights; she has been at the Opera, the Beggar’s Opera and the Rehearsal, and two nights ago carried the King to Ranelagh.

Some of the peeresses were so fond of their robes, that they graciously exhibited themselves for a whole day before to all the company their servants could invite to see them. A maid from Richmond begged leave to stay in town because the Duchess of Montrose was only to be seen from two to four. The Heralds were so ignorant of their business, that, though pensioned for nothing but to register lords and ladies, and what belongs to them, they advertised in the newspaper for the Christian names and places of abode of the peeresses. The King complained of such omissions and of the want of precedent; Lord Effingham, the Earl Marshal, told him, it was true there had been great neglect in that office, but he had now taken such care of registering directions, that _next coronation_ would be conducted with the greatest order imaginable. The King was so diverted with this _flattering_ speech that he made the earl repeat it several times.

On this occasion one saw to how high-water-mark extravagance is risen in England. At the Coronation of George II. my mother gave forty guineas for a dining-room, scaffold, and bedchamber. An exactly parallel apartment, only with rather a worse view, was this time set at three hundred and fifty guineas–a tolerable rise in thirty-three years! The platform from St. Margaret’s Roundhouse to the church-door, which formerly let for forty pounds, went this time for two thousand four hundred pounds. Still more was given for the inside of the Abbey. The prebends would like a Coronation every year. The King paid nine thousand pounds for the hire of jewels; indeed, last time, it cost my father fourteen hundred to bejewel my Lady Orford.



ARLINGTON STREET, _Nov._ 28, 1761.

Dear Madam,–You are so bad and so good, that I don’t know how to treat you. You give me every mark of kindness but letting me hear from you. You send me charming drawings the moment I trouble you with a commission, and you give Lady Cecilia [Johnston] commissions for trifles of my writing, in the most obliging manner. I have taken the latter off her hands. The Fugitive Pieces, and the “Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors” shall be conveyed to you directly. Lady Cecilia and I agree how we lament the charming suppers there, every time we pass the corner of Warwick Street! We have a little comfort for your sake and our own, in believing that the campaign is at an end, at least for this year–but they tell us, it is to recommence here or in Ireland. You have nothing to do with that. Our politics, I think, will soon be as warm as our war. Charles Townshend is to be lieutenant-general to Mr. Pitt. The Duke of Bedford is privy seal; Lord Thomond, cofferer; Lord George Cavendish, comptroller.

Diversions, you know, Madam, are never at high-water mark before Christmas; yet operas flourish pretty well: those on Tuesdays are removed to Mondays, because the Queen likes the burlettas, and the King cannot go on Tuesdays, his post-days. On those nights we have the middle front box, railed in, where Lady Mary [Coke] and I sit in triste state like a Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress. The night before last there was a private ball at court, which began at half an hour after six, lasted till one, and finished without a supper. The King danced the whole time with the Queen,–Lady Augusta with her four younger brothers. The other performers were: the two Duchesses of Ancaster and Hamilton, who danced little; Lady Effingham and Lady Egremont, who danced much; the six maids of honour; Lady Susan Stewart, as attending Lady Augusta; and Lady Caroline Russel, and Lady Jane Stuart, the only women not of the family. Lady Northumberland is at Bath; Lady Weymouth lies in; Lady Bolingbroke was there in waiting, but in black gloves, so did not dance. The men, besides the royals, were Lords March and Eglintoun, of the bedchamber; Lord Cantelupe, vice-chamberlain; Lord Huntingdon; and four strangers, Lord Mandeville, Lord Northampton, Lord Suffolk, and Lord Grey. No sitters-by, but the Princess, the Duchess of Bedford, and Lady Bute.

If it had not been for this ball, I don’t know how I should have furnished a decent letter. Pamphlets on Mr. Pitt[1] are the whole conversation, and none of them worth sending cross the water: at least I, who am said to write some of them, think so; by which you may perceive I am not much flattered with the imputation. There must be new personages, at least, before I write on any side.–Mr. Pitt and the Duke of Newcastle! I should as soon think of informing the world that Miss Chudleigh is no vestal. You will like better to see some words which Mr. Gray has writ, at Miss Speed’s request, to an old air of Geminiani; the thought is from the French.


Thyrsis, when we parted, swore
Ere the spring he would return.
Ah! what means yon violet flower, And the bud that decks the thorn!
‘Twas the lark that upward sprung, ‘Twas the nightingale that sung.


Idle notes! untimely green!
Why this unavailing haste!
Western gales and skies serene
Speak not always winter past.
Cease my doubts, my fears to move; Spare the honour of my love.

Adieu, Madam, your most faithful servant.

[Footnote 1: Mr. Pitt had lately resigned the office of Secretary of State, on being outvoted in the Cabinet, which rejected his proposal to declare war against Spain; and he had accepted a pension of L3,000 a year and a peerage for his wife–acts which Walpole condemns in more than one letter, and which provoked comments in many quarters.]



ARLINGTON STREET, _Jan._ 29, 1762.

I wish you joy, sir minister; the Czarina [Elizabeth] is dead. As _we conquered America in Germany_,[1] I hope we shall overrun Spain by this burial at Petersburg. Yet, don’t let us plume ourselves too fast; nothing is so like a Queen as a King, nothing so like a predecessor as a successor. The favourites of the Prince Royal of Prussia, who had suffered so much for him, were wofully disappointed, when he became the present glorious Monarch; they found the English maxim true, that the King never dies; that is, the dignity and passions of the Crown never die. We were not much less defeated of our hopes on the decease of Philip V. The Grand Duke[2] [Peter III.] has been proclaimed Czar at the army in Pomerania; he may love conquest like that army, or not know it is conquering, like his aunt. However, we cannot suffer more by this event. I would part with the Empress Queen, on no better a prospect.

[Footnote 1: “_We conquered America in Germany._” This is a quotation from a boastful speech of Mr. Pitt’s on the conquest of Canada.]

[Footnote 2: The Grand Duke (Peter III.) was married, for his misfortune, to Catharine, a princess of Anhalt-Zerbzt, whose lover, Count Orloff, murdered him before the end of the summer, at his wife’s command; and in August she assumed the government, and was crowned with all due solemnity as Czarina or Empress. Walpole had some reason for saying that “nothing was so like a predecessor as a successor,” since in character Elizabeth closely resembled Catharine.]

We have not yet taken the galleons, nor destroyed the Spanish fleet. Nor have they enslaved Portugal, nor you made a triumphant entry into Naples. My dear sir, you see how lucky you were not to go thither; you don’t envy Sir James Grey, do you? Pray don’t make any categorical demands to Marshal Botta,[1] and be obliged to retire to Leghorn, because they are not answered. We want allies; preserve us our friend the Great Duke of Tuscany. I like your answer to Botta exceedingly, but I fear the Court of Vienna is shame-proof. The Apostolic and Religious Empress is not a whit a better Christian, not a jot less a woman, than the late Russian Empress, who gave such proofs of her being a _woman_.

[Footnote 1: Marshal Botta was the Commander-in-chief in Tuscany.]

We have a mighty expedition on the point of sailing; the destination not disclosed. The German War loses ground daily; however, all is still in embryo. My subsequent letters are not likely to be so barren, and indecisive. I write more to prove there is nothing, than to tell you anything.

You were mistaken, I believe, about the Graftons; they do not remove from Turin, till George Pitt arrives to occupy their house there. I am really anxious about the fate of my letter to the Duchess [of Grafton]; I should be hurt if it had miscarried; she would have reason to think me very ungrateful.

I have given your letter to Mr. T[homas] Pitt; he has been very unfortunate since his arrival–has lost his favourite sister in child-bed. Lord Tavistock, I hear, has written accounts of you that give me much pleasure.

I am ashamed to tell you that we are again dipped into an egregious scene of folly. The reigning fashion is a ghost[1]–a ghost, that would not pass muster in the paltriest convent in the Apennine. It only knocks and scratches; does not pretend to appear or to speak. The clergy give it their benediction; and all the world, whether believers or infidels, go to hear it. I, in which number you may guess, go to-morrow; for it is as much the mode to visit the ghost as the Prince of Mecklenburgh, who is just arrived. I have not seen him yet, though I have left my name for him. But I will tell you who is come too–Lady Mary Wortley.[2] I went last night to visit her; I give you my honour, and you who know her, would credit me without it, the following is a faithful description. I found her in a little miserable bedchamber of a ready-furnished house, with two tallow candles, and a bureau covered with pots and pans. On her head, in full of all accounts, she had an old black-laced hood, wrapped entirely round, so as to conceal all hair or want of hair. No handkerchief, but up to her chin a kind of horseman’s riding-coat, calling itself a pet-en-l’air, made of a dark green (green I think it had been) brocade, with coloured and silver flowers, and lined with furs; boddice laced, a foul dimity petticoat sprig’d, velvet muffeteens on her arms, grey stockings and slippers. Her face less changed in twenty years than I could have imagined; I told her so, and she was not so tolerable twenty years ago that she needed have taken it for flattery, but she did, and literally gave me a box on the ear. She is very lively, all her senses perfect, her languages as imperfect as ever, her avarice greater. She entertained me at first with nothing but the dearness of provisions at Helvoet. With nothing but an Italian, a French, and a Prussian, all men servants, and something she calls an _old_ secretary, but whose age till he appears will be doubtful; she receives all the world, who go to homage her as Queen Mother,[3] and crams them into this kennel. The Duchess of Hamilton, who came in just after me, was so astonished and diverted, that she could not speak to her for laughing. She says that she has left all her clothes at Venice. I really pity Lady Bute; what will the progress be of such a commencement!

[Footnote 1: It was known as the Cock-lane Ghost. A girl in that lane asserted that she was nightly visited by a ghost, who could reveal a murder, and who gave her tokens of his (or its) presence by knocks and scratches, which were audible to others in the room besides herself; and at last she went so far as to declare that the ghost had promised to attend a witness, who might be selected, into the vault under the Church of St. John’s, Clerkenwell, where the body of the supposed victim was buried. Her story caused such excitement, that at last Dr. Johnson, Dr. Douglas (afterwards Bishop of Salisbury), and one or two other gentlemen, undertook an investigation of the affair, which proved beyond all doubt that it was a trick, though they could not discover how it was performed, nor could they make the girl confess; and Johnson wrote an account of their investigations and verdict, which was published in _The Gentleman’s Magazine_ and the newspapers of the day (Boswell’s “Life of Johnson,” ann. 1763).]

[Footnote 2: Lady Mary Wortley was a daughter of the Duke of Kingston and wife of Mr. Wortley, our ambassador at Constantinople. She was the most accomplished lady of the eighteenth century. Christian Europe is indebted to her for the introduction of the practice of inoculation for the smallpox, of which she heard during her residence in Turkey, and of the efficacy of which she was so convinced that she caused her own children to be inoculated; and, by publishing its success in their case, she led to its general adoption. It saved innumerable lives in the eighteenth century, and was, in fact, the parent of the vaccination which has superseded it, and which is merely inoculation with matter derived from another source, the cow. She was also an authoress of considerable repute for lyric odes and _vers de societe_, &c., and, above all, for her letters, most of which are to her daughter, Lady Bute (as Mme. de Sevigne’s are to her daughter, Mme. de Grignan), and which are in no respect inferior to those of the French lady in sprightly wit, while in the variety of their subjects they are far superior, as giving the account of Turkish scenery and manners, and also of those of other countries which her husband visited on various diplomatic missions, while Mme. de Sevigne’s are for the greater part confined to the gossip of the coteries of Paris. Her works occupy five volumes; but what we have is but a small part of what we might have had. D’Israeli points out that “we have lost much valuable literature by the illiberal or malignant descendants of learned and ingenious persons. Many of Lady Mary Wortley Montague’s letters have been destroyed, I am informed, by her daughters, who imagined that the family honours were lowered by the addition of those of literature. Some of her best letters, recently published, were found buried in an old trunk. It would have mortified her ladyship’s daughter to have heard that her mother was the Sevigne of Britain” (“Curiosities of Literature,” i. 54); and, as will be seen in a subsequent letter (No. 67), Walpole corroborates D’Israeli. Lady Mary was at one time a friend and correspondent of Pope, who afterwards, for some unknown reason, quarrelled with her, and made her the subject of some of the most disgraceful libels that ever proceeded from even his pen.]

[Footnote 3: She was mother of Lady Bute, wife of the Prime Minister.–WALPOLE.]

The King of France has avowed a natural son,[1] and given him the estate which came from Marshal Belleisle, with the title of Comte de Gisors. The mother I think is called Matignon or Maquignon. Madame Pompadour was the Bathsheba that introduced this Abishag. Adieu, my dear sir!

[Footnote 1: This was a false report.–WALPOLE.]



ARLINGTON STREET, _March_ 20, 1762.

I am glad you are pleased, Sir, with my “Anecdotes of Painting;” but I doubt you praise me too much: it was an easy task when I had the materials collected, and I would not have the labours of forty years, which was Vertue’s case, depreciated in compliment to the work of four months, which is almost my whole merit. Style is become, in a manner, a mechanical affair, and if to much ancient lore our antiquaries would add a little modern reading, to polish their language and correct their prejudices, I do not see why books of antiquities should not be made as amusing as writings on any other subject. If Tom Hearne had lived in the world, he might have writ an agreeable history of dancing; at least, I am sure that many modern volumes are read for no reason but for their being penned in the dialect of the age.

I am much beholden to you, dear Sir, for your remarks; they shall have their due place whenever the work proceeds to a second edition, for that the nature of it as a record will ensure to it. A few of your notes demand a present answer: the Bishop of Imola pronounced the nuptial benediction at the marriage of Henry VII., which made me suppose him the person represented.[1]

[Footnote 1: In a previous letter Walpole mentions that Vertue (the engraver) had disputed the subject of this picture, because the face of the King did not resemble other pictures of him; but Walpole was convinced of the correctness of his description of it, because it does resemble the face on Henry’s shillings, “which are more authentic than pictures.”]

Burnet, who was more a judge of characters than statues, mentions the resemblance between Tiberius and Charles II.; but, as far as countenances went, there could not be a more ridiculous prepossession; Charles had a long face, with very strong lines, and a narrowish brow; Tiberius a very square face, and flat forehead, with features rather delicate in proportion. I have examined this imaginary likeness, and see no kind of foundation for it. It is like Mr. Addison’s Travels,[1] of which it was so truly said, he might have composed them without stirring out of England. There are a kind of naturalists who have sorted out the qualities of the mind, and allotted particular turns of features and complexions to them. It would be much easier to prove that every form has been endowed with every vice. One has heard much of the vigour of Burnet himself; yet I dare to say, he did not think himself like Charles II.

[Footnote 1: It is Fielding who, in his “Voyage to Lisbon,” gave this character to Addison’s “Travels.”]

I am grieved, Sir, to hear that your eyes suffer; take care of them; nothing can replace the satisfaction they afford: one should hoard them, as the only friend that will not be tired of one when one grows old, and when one should least choose to depend on others for entertainment. I most sincerely wish you happiness and health in that and every other instance.



ARLINGTON STREET, _Aug._ 12, 1762.

A Prince of Wales [George IV.] was born this morning; the prospect of your old neighbour [the Pretender] at Rome does not improve; the House of Hanover will have numbers in its own family sufficient to defend their crown–unless they marry a Princess of Anhalt Zerbst. What a shocking tragedy that has proved already! There is a manifesto arrived to-day that makes one shudder! This northern Athaliah, who has the modesty not to name her murdered _husband_ in that light, calls him _her neighbour_; and, as if all the world were savages, like Russians, pretends that he died suddenly of a distemper that never was expeditious; mocks Heaven with pretensions to charity and piety; and heaps the additional inhumanity on the man she has dethroned and assassinated, of imputing his death to a judgment from Providence. In short, it is the language of usurpation and blood, counselled and apologised for by clergymen! It is Brunehault[1] and an archbishop!

[Footnote 1: Brunehault (in modern English histories called Brunhild) was the wife of Sigebert, King of Austrasia (that district of France which lies between the Meuse and the Rhine) and son of Clotaire I. The “Biographie Universelle” says of her: “This Princess, attractive by her beauty, her wit, and her carriage, had the misfortune to possess a great ascendency over her husband, and to have lost sight of the fact that even sovereigns cannot always avenge themselves with impunity.” Her sister, Galswith, the wife of Chilperic, King of Neustria, between the Loire and the Meuse, had been assassinated by Fredegonde, and Brunehault, determined to avenge her, induced Sigebert to make war on Chilperic, who had married Fredegonde. He gained a victory; but Fredegonde contrived to have him also assassinated, and Brunehault became Fredegonde’s prisoner. But Murovee, son of Chilperic, fell in love with her, and married her, and escaping from Rouen, fled into Austrasia. At last, in 595, Fredegonde died, and Brunehault subdued the greater part of Neustria, and ruled with great but unscrupulous energy. She encouraged St. Augustine in his mission to England; she built hospitals and churches, earning by her zeal in such works a letter of panegyric from Pope Gregory the Great. But, old as she was, she at the same time gave herself up to a life of outrageous license. It was not, however, her dissolute life which proved fatal to her, but the design which she showed to erect a firm monarchy in Austrasia and Neustria, by putting down the overgrown power of the nobles. They raised an army to attack her; she was defeated, and with four of her great-grandchildren, the sons of her grandson, King Theodoric, who had been left to her guardianship, fell into the hands of the nobles, who put her to death with every circumstance of cruelty and indignity. (See Kitchin’s “History of France,” i. 91.)]

I have seen Mr. Keith’s first despatch; in general, my account was tolerably correct; but he does not mention Ivan. The conspiracy advanced by one of the gang being seized, though for another crime; they thought themselves discovered. Orloff, one of them, hurried to the Czarina, and told her she had no time to lose. She was ready for anything; nay, marched herself at the head of fourteen thousand men and a train of artillery against her husband, but not being the only Alecto in Muscovy, she had been aided by a Princess Daschkaw, a nymph under twenty, and sister to the Czar’s mistress. It was not the latter, as I told you, but the Chancellor’s wife, who offered up the order of St. Catherine. I do not know how my Lord Buckingham [the English Minister at St. Petersburg] feels, but unless to conjure up a tempest against this fury of the north, nothing could bribe me to set my foot in her dominions. Had she been priestess of the Scythian Diana, she would have sacrificed her brother by choice. It seems she does not degenerate; her mother was ambitious and passionate for intrigues; she went to Paris, and dabbled in politics with all her might.

The world had been civilising itself till one began to doubt whether ancient histories were not ancient legends. Voltaire had unpoisoned half the victims to the Church and to ambition. Oh! there never was such a man as Borgia[1]; the league seemed a romance. For the honour of poor historians, the assassinations of the Kings of France and Portugal, majesties still living in spite of Damien and the Jesuits, and the dethronement and murder of the Czar, have restored some credibility to the annals of former ages. Tacitus recovers his character by the edition of Petersburg.

[Footnote 1: Borgia, the father, was Pope Sextus VI.; Caesar Borgia was the son–both equally infamous for their crimes, and especially their murders by poison.]

We expect the definitive courier from Paris every day. Now it is said that they ask time to send to Spain. What? to ask leave to desert them! The Spaniards, not so expeditious in usurpation as the Muscovites, have made no progress in Portugal. Their absurd manifestoes appeared too soon. The Czarina and Princess Daschkaw stay till the stroke is struck. Really, my dear Sir, your Italy is growing unfashionably innocent,–if you don’t take care, the Archbishop of Novgorod will deserve, by his crimes, to be at the head of the _Christian_ Church.[1] I fear my friend, good Benedict, infected you all with his virtues.

[Footnote 1: That is, Pope Benedict XIV.]

You see how this Russian revolution has seized every cell in my head–a Prince of Wales is passed over in a line, the peace in another line. I have not even told you that the treasure of the _Hermione_,[1] reckoned eight hundred thousand pounds, passed the end of my street this morning in one-and-twenty waggons. Of the Havannah I could tell you nothing if I would; people grow impatient at not hearing from thence. Adieu!

[Footnote 1: In August, 1761, Sir G. Pocock took Havannah, the capital of Cuba. In September Commodore Cornish and Colonel Draper took Manilla, the principal of the Philippine Islands; and the treasures found in Manilla alone exceeded the sum here mentioned by Walpole, and yet did not equal those brought home from the Havannah, as Walpole mentions in a subsequent letter.]

You see I am a punctual correspondent when Empresses commit murders.



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Sept._ 9, 1762.

Nondum laurus erat, longoque decentia crine Tempora cingebat de qualibet arbore Phoebus.[1]

[Footnote 1: The quotation is from Ovid, Met. i. 450.]

This is a hint to you, that as Phoebus, who was certainly your superior, could take up with a chestnut garland, or any crown he found, you must have the humility to be content without laurels, when none are to be had: you have hunted far and near for them, and taken true pains to the last in that old nursery-garden Germany, and by the way have made me shudder with your last journal: but you must be easy with _qualibet_ other _arbore_; you must come home to your own plantations. The Duke of Bedford is gone in a fury to make peace,[1] for he cannot be even pacific with temper; and by this time I suppose the Duke de Nivernois is unpacking his portion of olive _dans la rue de Suffolk Street_. I say, I suppose–for I do not, like my friends at Arthur’s, whip into my post-chaise to see every novelty. My two sovereigns, the Duchess of Grafton and Lady Mary Coke, are arrived, and yet I have seen neither Polly nor Lucy. The former, I hear, is entirely French; the latter as absolutely English.

[Footnote 1: “On the 6th of September the Duke of Bedford embarked as ambassador from England; on the 12th the Duc de Nivernois landed as ambassador from France. Of these two noblemen, Bedford, though well versed in affairs, was perhaps by his hasty temper in some degree disqualified for the profession of a Temple or a Gondomar; and Nivernois was only celebrated for his graceful manners and his pretty songs” (Lord Stanhope, “History of England,” c. 38).]

Well! but if you insist on not doffing your cuirass, you may find an opportunity of wearing it. The storm thickens. The City of London are ready to hoist their standard; treason is the bon-ton at that end of the town; seditious papers pasted up at every corner: nay, my neighbourhood is not unfashionable; we have had them at Brentford and Kingston. The Peace is the cry;[1] but to make weight, they throw in all the abusive ingredients they can collect. They talk of your friend the Duke of Devonshire’s resigning; and, for the Duke of Newcastle, it puts him so much in mind of the end of Queen Anne’s time, that I believe he hopes to be Minister again for another forty years.

[Footnote 1: “_The Peace is the cry._” This was the peace of Paris, not absolutely concluded till February of the next year. The conditions in our favour were so inadequate to our successes in the war, that the treaty caused general indignation; so great, indeed, that Lord Bute, the Prime Minister, was afraid to face the meeting of Parliament, and resigned his office, in which he was succeeded by Mr. George Grenville. It was the subject of severe, but not undeserved comment in the celebrated _North Briton_, No. 45, by Wilkes.]

In the mean time, there are but dark news from the Havannah; the _Gazette_, who would not fib for the world, says, we have lost but four officers; the World, who is not quite so scrupulous, says, our loss is heavy.–But what shocking notice to those who have _Harry Conways_ there! The _Gazette_ breaks off with saying, that they were to storm the next day! Upon the whole, it is regarded as a preparative to worse news.

Our next monarch [George IV.] was christened last night, George Augustus Frederick; the Princess, the Duke of Cumberland, and Duke of Mecklenburgh, sponsors; the ceremony performed by the Bishop of London. The Queen’s bed, magnificent, and they say in taste, was placed in the great drawing-room: though she is not to see company in form, yet it looks as if they had intended people should have been there, as all who presented themselves were admitted, which were very few, for it had not been notified; I suppose to prevent too great a crowd: all I have heard named, besides those in waiting, were the Duchess of Queensberry, Lady Dalkeith, Mrs. Grenville, and about four more ladies.



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Oct._ 3, 1762.

I am now only the peace in your debt, for here is the Havannah. Here it is, following despair and accompanied by glory, riches, and twelve ships-of-the-line; not all in person, for four are destroyed. The booty–that is an undignified term–I should say, the plunder, or the spoils, which is a more classic word for such heroes as we are, amounts to at least a million and a half. Lord Albemarle’s share will be about L140,000. I wish I knew how much that makes in _talents_ or _great sesterces_. What to me is better than all, we have lost but sixteen hundred men; _but_, alas! Most of the sick recovered! What an affecting object my Lady Albemarle would make in a triumph, surrounded by her three victorious sons; for she had three at stake! My friend Lady Hervey,[1] too, is greatly happy; her son Augustus distinguished himself particularly, brought home the news, and on his way took a rich French ship going to Newfoundland with military stores. I do not surely mean to detract from him, who set all this spirit on float, but you see we can conquer, though Mr. Pitt is at his plough.

[Footnote 1: Lady Hervey, the widow of Pope’s Lord Fanny and Sporus, had been the beautiful “Molly Lepel,” celebrated by Lord Chesterfield.

Had I Hanover, Bremen, and Verden
And likewise the Duchy of Zell,
I would part with them all for a farden, Compared with sweet Molly Lepel.

Three of her sons succeeded to the Earldom of Bristol.]

The express arrived while the Duke de Nivernois was at dinner with Lord Bute. The world says, that the joy of the company showed itself with too little politeness–I hope not; I would not exult to a single man, and a minister of peace; it should be in the face of Europe, if I assumed that dominion which the French used to arrogate; nor do I believe it happened; all the company are not so charmed with the event. They are not quite convinced that it will facilitate the pacification, nor am I clear it will. The City of London will not lower their hopes, and views, and expectations, on this acquisition. Well, if we can steer wisely between insolence from success and impatience for peace, we may secure our safety and tranquillity for many years. But they are _not_ yet arrived, nor hear I anything that tells me the peace will certainly be made. France _wants_ peace; I question if she _wishes_ it. How his Catholic royalty will take this, one cannot guess. My good friend, we are not at table with Monsieur de Nivernois, so we may smile at this consequence of the family-compact. Twelve ships-of-the-line and the Havannah!–it becomes people who cannot keep their own, to divide the world between them!

Your nephew Foote has made a charming figure; the King and Queen went from Windsor to see Eton; he is captain of the Oppidans, and made a speech to them with great applause. It was in English, which was right; why should we talk Latin to our Kings rather than Russ or Iroquois? Is this a season for being ashamed of our country? Dr. Barnard, the master, is the Pitt of masters, and has raised the school to the most flourishing state it ever knew.

Lady Mary Wortley[1] has left twenty-one large volumes in prose and verse, in manuscript; nineteen are fallen to Lady Bute, and will not see the light in haste. The other two Lady Mary in her passage gave to somebody in Holland, and at her death expressed great anxiety to have them published. Her family are in terrors lest they should be, and have tried to get them: hitherto the man is inflexible. Though I do not doubt but they are an olio of lies and scandal, I should like to see them. She had parts, and had seen much. Truth is often at bottom of such compositions, and places itself here and there without the intention of the mother. I dare say in general, these works are like Madame del Pozzo’s _Memoires_. Lady Mary had more wit, and something more delicacy; their manners and morals were a good deal more alike.

[Footnote 1: In a note to this letter, subsequently added by Walpole, he reduces this statement to seventeen, saying: “It was true that Lady Mary did leave seventeen volumes of her works and memories. She gave her letters from Constantinople to Mr. Sowden, minister of the English Church at Rotterdam, who published them; and, the day before she died, she gave him those seventeen volumes, with injunctions to publish them too; but in two days the man had a crown living from Lord Bute, and Lady Bute had the seventeen volumes.”]

There is a lad, a waiter at St. James’s coffee-house, of thirteen years old, who says he does not wonder we beat the French, for he himself could thrash Monsieur de Nivernois. This duke is so thin and small, that when minister at Berlin, at a time that France was not in favour there, the King of Prussia said, if his eyes were a little older, he should want a glass to see the embassador. I do not admire this bon-mot. Voltaire is continuing his “Universal History”; he showed the Duke of Grafton a chapter, to which the title is, _Les Anglois vainqueurs dans les Quatres Parties du Monde_. There have been minutes in the course of our correspondence when you and I did not expect to see this chapter. It is bigger by a quarter than our predecessors the Romans had any pretensions to, and larger than I hope our descendants will see written of them, for conquest, unless by necessity, as ours has been, is an odious glory; witness my hand


P.S.–I recollect that my last letter was a little melancholy; this, to be sure, has a grain or two of national vanity; why, I must own I am a miserable philosopher; the weather of the hour does affect me. I cannot here, at a distance from the world and unconcerned in it, help feeling a little satisfaction when my country is successful; yet, tasting its honours and elated with them, I heartily, seriously wish they had their _quietus_. What is the fame of men compared to their happiness? Who gives a nation peace, gives tranquillity to all. How many must be wretched, before one can be renowned! A hero bets the lives and fortunes of thousands, whom he has no right to game with: but alas! Caesars have little regard to their fish and counters!



STRAWBERRY HILL, _April_ 30, 1763.

The papers have told you all the formal changes; the real one consists solely in Lord Bute being out of office, for, having recovered his fright, he is still as much Minister as ever, and consequently does not find his unpopularity decrease. On the contrary, I think his situation more dangerous than ever: he has done enough to terrify his friends, and encourage his enemies, and has acquired no new strength; rather has lost strength, by the disappearance of Mr. Fox from the scene. His deputies, too, will not long care to stand all the risk for him, when they perceive, as they must already, that they have neither credit nor confidence. Indeed the new administration is a general joke, and will scarce want a violent death to put an end to it. Lord Bute is very blamable for embarking the King so deep in measures that may have so serious a termination. The longer the Court can stand its ground, the more firmly will the opposition be united, and the more inflamed. I have ever thought this would be a turbulent reign, and nothing has happened to make me alter my opinion.

Mr. Fox’s exit has been very unpleasant. He would not venture to accept the Treasury, which Lord Bute would have bequeathed to him; and could not obtain an earldom, for which he thought he had stipulated; but some of the negotiators asserting that he had engaged to resign the Paymaster’s place, which he vehemently denies, he has been forced to take up with a barony, and has broken with his associates–I do not say friends, for with the chief of _them_[1] he had quarrelled when he embarked in the new system. He meets with little pity, and yet has found as much ingratitude as he had had power of doing service.

[Footnote 1: “_The chief of them._” Walpole himself explains in a note that he means the Dukes of Cumberland and Devonshire.]

I am glad you are going to have a great duke; it will amuse you, and a new Court will make Florence lively, the only beauty it wants. You divert me with my friend the Duke of Modena’s conscientious match: if the Duchess had outlived him, she would not have been so scrupulous. But, for Hymen’s sake, who is that Madame Simonetti? I trust, not that old painted, gaming, debauched Countess from Milan, whom I saw at the fair of Reggio!

I surprise myself with being able to write two pages of pure English; I do nothing but deal in broken French. The two nations are crossing over and figuring-in. We have had a Count d’Usson and his wife these six weeks; and last Saturday arrived a Madame de Boufflers, _scavante, galante_, a great friend of the Prince of Conti, and a passionate admirer _de nous autres Anglois_. I am forced to live much with _tout ca_, as they are perpetually at my Lady Hervey’s; and as my Lord Hertford goes ambassador to Paris, where I shall certainly make him a visit next year–don’t you think I shall be computing how far it is to Florence? There is coming, too, a Marquis de Fleury,[1] who is to be consigned to me, as a political relation, _vu l’amitie entre le Cardinal son oncle et feu monsieur mon pere_. However, as my cousin Fleury is not above six-and-twenty, I had much rather be excused from such a commission as showing the Tombs and the Lions, and the King and Queen, and my Lord Bute, and the Waxwork, to a boy. All this breaks in upon my plan of withdrawing by little and little from the world, for I hate to tire it with an old lean face, and which promises to be an old lean face for thirty years longer, for I am as well again as ever. The Duc de Nivernois called here the other day in his way from Hampton Court; but, as the most sensible French never have eyes to see anything, unless they see it every day and see it in fashion, I cannot say he flattered me much, or was much struck with Strawberry. When I carried him into the Cabinet, which I have told you is formed upon the idea of a Catholic chapel, he pulled off his hat, but perceiving his error, he said, “_Ce n’est pas une chapelle pourtant_,” and seemed a little displeased.

[Footnote 1: Cardinal Fleury, Prime Minister of France from 1727 to 1742. Pope celebrated his love of peace–

Peace is my dear delight, not Fleury’s more;

and by his resolute maintenance of peace during the first seven years of his administration he had so revived the resources and restored the power of his country, that when the question of going to war with France was discussed in the Council of Vienna the veteran Prince Eugene warned the Ministers that his wise and prudent administration had been so beneficial to his country that the Empire was no longer a match for it.]

My poor niece [Lady Waldegrave] does not forget her Lord, though by this time I suppose the world has. She has taken a house here, at Twickenham, to be near me. Madame de Boufflers has heard so much of her beauty, that she told me she should be glad to peep through a grate anywhere to get a glimpse of her,–but at present it would not answer. I never saw so great an alteration in so short a period; but she is too young not to recover her beauty, only dimmed by grief that must be temporary. Adieu! my dear Sir.

_Monday, May 2nd_, ARLINGTON STREET.

The plot thickens: Mr. Wilkes is sent to the Tower for the last _North Briton_;[1] a paper whose fame must have reached you. It said Lord Bute had made the King utter a gross falsehood in his last speech. This hero is as bad a fellow as ever hero was, abominable in private life, dull in Parliament, but, they say, very entertaining in a room, and certainly no bad writer, besides having had the honour of contributing a great deal to Lord Bute’s fall. Wilkes fought Lord Talbot in the autumn, whom he had abused; and lately in Calais, when the Prince de Croy, the Governor, asked how far the liberty of the press extended in England, replied, I cannot tell, but I am trying to know. I don’t believe this will be the only paragraph I shall send you on this affair.

[Footnote 1: The celebrated No. 45 which attacked the speech with which the King had opened Parliament; asserting that it was the speech not of the King, but of the Ministers; and that as such he had a right to criticise it, and to denounce its panegyric of the late speech as founded on falsehood.]



STRAWBERRY HILL, _May_ 17, 1763.

“On vient de nous donner une tres jolie fete au chateau de Straberri: tout etoit tapisse de narcisses, de tulipes, et de lilacs; des cors de chasse, des clarionettes; des petits vers galants faits par des fees, et qui se trouvoient sous la presse; des fruits a la glace, du the, du caffe, des biscuits, et force hot-rolls.”–This is not the beginning of a letter to you, but of one that I might suppose sets out to-night for Paris, or rather, which I do not suppose will set out thither; for though the narrative is circumstantially true, I don’t believe the actors were pleased enough with the scene, to give so favourable an account of it.

The French do not come hither to see. _A l’Anglaise_ happened to be the word in fashion; and half a dozen of the most fashionable people have been the dupes of it. I take for granted that their next mode will be _a l’Iroquaise_, that they may be under no obligation of realising their pretensions. Madame de Boufflers[1] I think will die a martyr to a taste, which she fancied she had, and finds she has not. Never having stirred ten miles from Paris, and having only rolled in an easy coach from one hotel to another on a gliding pavement, she is already worn out with being hurried from morning till night from one sight to another. She rises every morning so fatigued with the toils of the preceding day, that she has not strength, if she had inclination, to observe the least, or the finest thing she sees! She came hither to-day to a great breakfast I made for her, with her eyes a foot deep in her head, her hands dangling, and scarce able to support her knitting-bag. She had been yesterday to see a ship launched, and went from Greenwich by water to Ranelagh. Madame Dusson, who is Dutch-built, and whose muscles are pleasure-proof, came with her; there were besides, Lady Mary Coke, Lord and Lady Holdernesse, the Duke and Duchess of Grafton, Lord Hertford, Lord Villiers, Offley, Messieurs de Fleury, D’Eon,[2] et Duclos.[3] The latter is author of the Life of Louis Onze; dresses like a dissenting minister, which I suppose is the livery of a _bel esprit_, and is much more impetuous than agreeable. We breakfasted in the great parlour, and I had filled the hall and large cloister by turns with French horns and clarionettes. As the French ladies had never seen a printing-house, I carried them into mine; they found something ready set, and desiring to see what it was, it proved as follows:–

The Press speaks–


The graceful fair, who loves to know, Nor dreads the north’s inclement snow; Who bids her polish’d accent wear
The British diction’s harsher air; Shall read her praise in every clime
Where types can speak or poets rhyme.


Feign not an ignorance of what I speak; You could not miss my meaning were it Greek: ‘Tis the same language Belgium utter’d first, The same which from admiring Gallia burst. True sentiment a like expression pours; Each country says the same to eyes like yours.

[Footnote 1: Boswell records Mr. Beauclerk’s account of his introduction of this lady to Johnson: “When Mme. de Boufflers was first in England she was desirous to see Johnson. I accordingly went with her to his chambers in the Temple, where she was entertained with his conversation for some time. When our visit was over, she and I left him, and were got into Inner Temple Lane, when, all at once, I heard a noise like thunder. This was occasioned by Johnson, who, it seems, upon a little recollection, had taken it into his head that he ought to have done the honours of his literary residence to a foreign lady of quality, and, eager to show himself a man of gallantry, was hurrying down the staircase in evident agitation. He overtook us before we reached the Temple Gate, and brushing in between me and Mme. de Boufflers, seized her hand and conducted her to her coach. His dress was a rusty brown morning suit, a pair of old shoes by way of slippers, a little shrivelled wig sticking on the top of his head, and the sleeves of his shirt and the knees of his breeches hanging loose. A considerable crowd of people gathered round, and were not a little struck by this singular appearance” (vol. ii., ann. 1775.)]

[Footnote 2: This gentleman was at this time secretary to the Duc de Nivernois. For many years he dressed in woman’s clothes, and the question of his sex was made the subject of many wagers and trials both in England and France.]

[Footnote 3: M. Duclos was an author of good repute as a novelist, and one of the contributors to the “Dictionnaire de l’Academie.”]

You will comprehend that the first speaks English, and that the second does not; that the second is handsome, and the first not; and that the second was born in Holland. This little gentilesse pleased, and atoned for the popery of my house, which was not serious enough for Madame de Boufflers, who is Montmorency, _et du sang du premier Chretien_; and too serious for Madame Dusson, who is a Dutch Calvinist. The latter’s husband was not here, nor Drumgold, who have both got fevers, nor the Duc de Nivernois, who dined at Claremont. The Gallery is not advanced enough to give them any idea at all, as they are not apt to go out of their way for one; but the Cabinet, and the glory of yellow glass at top, which had a charming sun for a foil, did surmount their indifference, especially as they were animated by the Duchess of Grafton, who had never happened to be here before, and who perfectly entered into the air of enchantment and fairyism, which is the tone of the place, and was peculiarly so to-day–_apropos_, when do you design to come hither? Let me know, that I may have no measures to interfere with receiving you and your grandsons.

Before Lord Bute ran away, he made Mr. Bentley[1] a Commissioner of the Lottery; I don’t know whether a single or a double one: the latter, which I hope it is, is two hundred a-year.

[Footnote 1: Mr. Bentley, who was an occasional correspondent of Walpole, was a son of the great Master of Trinity College, Cambridge.]

_Thursday 19th_.

I am ashamed of myself to have nothing but a journal of pleasures to send you; I never passed a more agreeable day than yesterday. Miss Pelham gave the French an entertainment at Esher;[1] but they have been so feasted and amused, that none of them were well enough, or reposed enough, to come, but Nivernois and Madame Dusson. The rest of the company were, the Graftons, Lady Rockingham, Lord and Lady Pembroke, Lord and Lady Holdernesse, Lord Villiers, Count Woronzow the Russian minister, Lady Sondes, Mr. and Miss Mary Pelham, Lady Mary Coke, Mrs. Anne Pitt, and Mr. Shelley. The day was delightful, the scene transporting; the trees, lawns, concaves, all in the perfection in which the ghost of Kent[2] would joy to see them. At twelve we made the tour of the farm in eight chaises and calashes, horsemen, and footmen, setting out like a picture of Wouverman’s. My lot fell in the lap of Mrs. Anne Pitt, which I could have excused, as she was not at all in the style of the day, romantic, but political. We had a magnificent dinner, cloaked in the modesty of earthenware; French horns and hautboys on the lawn. We walked to the Belvidere on the summit of the hill, where a theatrical storm only served to heighten the beauty of the landscape, a rainbow on a dark cloud falling precisely behind the tower of a neighbouring church, between another tower and the building at Claremont. Monsieur de Nivernois, who had been absorbed all day, and lagging behind, translating my verses, was delivered of his version, and of some more lines which he wrote on Miss Pelham in the Belvidere, while we drank tea and coffee. From thence we passed into the wood, and the ladies formed a circle on chairs before the mouth of the cave, which was overhung to a vast height with woodbines, lilacs, and laburnums, and dignified by the tall shapely cypresses. On the descent of the hill were placed the French horns; the abigails, servants, and neighbours wandering below by the river; in short, it was Parnassus, as Watteau would have painted it. Here we had a rural syllabub, and part of the company returned to town; but were replaced by Giardini and Onofrio, who with Nivernois on the violin, and Lord Pembroke on the bass, accompanied Miss Pelham, Lady Rockingham, and the Duchess of Grafton, who sang. This little concert lasted till past ten; then there were minuets, and as we had seven couple left, it concluded with a country dance. I blush again, for I danced, but was kept in countenance by Nivernois, who has one wrinkle more than I have. A quarter after twelve they sat down to supper, and I came home by a charming moonlight. I am going to dine in town, and to a great ball with fireworks at Miss Chudleigh’s, but I return hither on Sunday, to bid adieu to this abominable Arcadian life; for really when one is not young, one ought to do nothing but _s’ennuyer_; I will try, but I always go about it awkwardly. Adieu!

[Footnote 1: “_Esher._” Claremont, at Esher, now the property of the Queen, and residence of the Duchess of Albany, at this time belonged to the Duke of Newcastle, Miss Pelham’s uncle.]

[Footnote 2: Kent was the great landscape gardener of the last generation.]

P.S.–I enclose a copy of both the English and French verses.


Boufflers, qu’embellissent les graces, Et qui plairoit sans le vouloir,
Elle a qui l’amour du scavoir
Fit braver le Nord et les glaces; Boufflers se plait en nos vergers,
Et veut a nos sons etrangers
Plier sa voix enchanteresse.
Repetons son nom mille fois,
Sur tous les coeurs Boufflers aura des droits, Par tout ou la rime et la Presse
A l’amour preteront leur voix.


Ne feignez point, Iris, de ne pas nous entendre; Ce que vous inspirez, en Grec doit se comprendre. On vous l’a dit d’abord en Hollandois, Et dans un langage plus tendre
Paris vous l’a repete mille fois. C’est de nos coeurs l’expression sincere; En tout climat, Iris, a toute heure, en tous lieux, Par tout ou brilleront vos yeux,
Vous apprendrez combien ils scavent plaire.



ARLINGTON STREET, _May_ 21, 1763.

You have now seen the celebrated Madame de Boufflers. I dare say you could in that short time perceive that she is agreeable, but I dare say too that you will agree with me that vivacity[1] is by no means the _partage_ of the French–bating the _etourderie_ of the _mousquetaires_ and of a high-dried _petit-maitre_ or two, they appear to me more lifeless than Germans. I cannot comprehend how they came by the character of a lively people. Charles Townshend has more _sal volatile_ in him than the whole nation. Their King is taciturnity itself, Mirepoix was a walking mummy, Nivernois has about as much life as a sick favourite child, and M. Dusson is a good-humoured country gentleman, who has been drunk the day before, and is upon his good behaviour. If I have the gout next year, and am thoroughly humbled by it again, I will go to Paris, that I may be upon a level with them: at present, I am _trop fou_ to keep them company. Mind, I do not insist that, to have spirits, a nation should be as frantic as poor Fanny Pelham, as absurd as the Duchess of Queensberry, or as dashing as the Virgin Chudleigh.[2] Oh, that you had been at her ball t’other night! History could never describe it and keep its countenance. The Queen’s real birthday, you know, is not kept: this Maid of Honour kept it–nay, while the Court is in mourning, expected people to be out of mourning; the Queen’s family really was so, Lady Northumberland having desired leave for them. A scaffold was erected in Hyde-park for fireworks. To show the illuminations without to more advantage, the company were received in an apartment totally dark, where they remained for two hours.–If they gave rise to any more birthdays, who could help it? The fireworks were fine, and succeeded well. On each side of the court were two large scaffolds for the Virgin’s tradespeople. When the fireworks ceased, a large scene was lighted in the court, representing their Majesties; on each side of which were six obelisks, painted with emblems, and illuminated; mottoes beneath in Latin and English: 1. For the Prince of Wales, a ship, _Multorum spes_. 2. For the Princess Dowager, a bird of paradise, and _two_ little ones, _Meos ad sidera tollo_. People smiled. 3. Duke of York, a temple, _Virtuti et honori_. 4. Princess Augusta, a bird of paradise, _Non habet parem_–unluckily this was translated, _I have no peer_. People laughed out, considering where this was exhibited. 5. The three younger princes, an orange tree, _Promittit et dat_. 6. The two younger princesses, the flower crown-imperial. I forget the Latin: the translation was silly enough, _Bashful in youth, graceful in age_. The lady of the house made many apologies for the poorness of the performance, which she said was only oil-paper, painted by one of her servants; but it really was fine and pretty. The Duke of Kingston was in a frock, _comme chez lui_. Behind the house was a cenotaph for the Princess Elizabeth, a kind of illuminated cradle; the motto, _All the honours the dead can receive_. This burying-ground was a strange codicil to a festival; and, what was more strange, about one in the morning, this sarcophagus burst out into crackers and guns. The Margrave of Anspach began the ball with the Virgin. The supper was most sumptuous.

[Footnote 1: In a subsequent letter he represents Mme. de Boufflers as giving them the same character, saying, “Dans ce pays-ci c’est un effort perpetuel pour sedivertir.”]

[Footnote 2: Miss Chudleigh, who had been one of the Princess Dowager’s maids of honour, married Mr. Hervey, afterwards Earl of Bristol, but, having taken a dislike to him, she procured a divorce, and afterwards married the Duke of Kingston; but, after his death, his heirs, on the ground of some informality in the divorce, prosecuted her for bigamy, and she was convicted.]

You ask, when do I propose to be at Park-place. I ask, shall not you come to the Duke of Richmond’s masquerade, which is the 6th of June? I cannot well be with you till towards the end of that month.

The enclosed is a letter which I wish you to read attentively, to give me your opinion upon it, and return it. It is from a sensible friend of mine in Scotland [Sir David Dalrymple], who has lately corresponded with me on the enclosed subjects, which I little understand; but I promised to communicate his ideas to George Grenville, if he would state them–are they practicable? I wish much that something could be done for those brave soldiers and sailors, who will all come to the gallows, unless some timely provision can be made for them.–The former part of his letter relates to a grievance he complains of, that men who have _not_ served are admitted into garrisons, and then into our hospitals, which were designed for meritorious sufferers. Adieu!



ARLINGTON STREET, _Dec._ 29, 1763

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, will 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 everybody will be at Newmarket, and the Duke of Cumberland will lose, and Shafto 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; everybody 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; everybody 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 his fortune by a subscription. 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 anything 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 horse-races 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.

[Illustration: HORACE WALPOLE.

_From a picture in the National Portrait Gallery, by Nathaniel Hone, R.A._]

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:[1] 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![2] 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 did in D’Eon’s case, I can now only ask news of him from you, 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 told my niece [Lady Waldegrave], this morning, that he had offered a shilling, to receive a hundred pounds when Sandwich shall lose his head! what a good opinion they have of one another! _apropos_ to losing heads, is Lally[3] beheaded?

[Footnote 1: Wilkes had been wounded in a duel, and alleged his wound as a sufficient reason for not attending in his place in the House of Commons when summoned. Dr. Brocklesby, a physician of considerable eminence, reported that he was unable to attend; but the House of Commons, as if they distrusted his report, appointed two other physicians to examine the patient, Drs. Heberden and Hawkins.]

[Footnote 2: Dr. Brocklesby is mentioned by Boswell as an especial friend of Johnson; having even offered him an annuity of L100 to relieve him from the necessity of writing to increase his income.]

[Footnote 3: Count Lally, of an Irish family, his father or grandfather having been among those who, after the capitulation of Limerick, accompanied the gallant Sarsfield to France, had been the French governor in India; but, having failed in an attempt on Madras, and having been afterwards defeated at Wandewash by Colonel Coote, was recalled in disgrace, and brought to trial on a number of ridiculously false charges, convicted, and executed; his real offence being that by a somewhat intemperate zeal for the reformation of abuses, and the punishment of corruption which he detested, he had made a great number of personal enemies. He was the father of Count Lally Tollendal, who was a prominent character in the French Revolution.]

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 levee; the King asked where his son was; he replied, “Sire, he is coming to town, and then your Majesty will have another vote.” If you like these franknesses, I can tell you another. The Chancellor [Northington] is a chosen 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, snuffing, “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.”[1] The late Chancellor [Hardwicke] is much better.

[Footnote 1: Lord Northington had been a very hard liver. He was a martyr to the gout; and one afternoon, as he was going downstairs out of his Court, he was heard to say to himself, “D— these legs! If I had known they were to carry a Lord Chancellor, I would have taken better care of them;” and it was to relieve himself of the labours of the Court of Chancery that he co-operated with Mr. Pitt in the discreditable intrigue which in the summer of 1766 compelled the resignation of Lord Rockingham, Mr. Pitt having promised him the office of President of the Council in the new Ministry which he intended to form.]

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 aime_[1] is not French at present for King George.

[Footnote 1: “Le Bien aime” was a designation conferred on Louis XV. by the people in their joy at his recovery from an illness which had threatened his life at Metz in 1744. Louis himself was surprised, and asked what he had done to deserve such a title; and, in truth, it was a question hard to answer; but it was an expression of praise for his leaving the capital to accompany his army in the campaign.]

I read, last night, your new French play, “Le Comte de Warwic,”[1] 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; 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.

[Footnote 1: “Le Comte de Warwic” was by La Harpe, who was only twenty-three years of age. The answer here attributed to Elizabeth Woodville has been attributed to others also; and especially to Mdlle. de Montmorency, afterwards Princesse de Conde, when pursued by the solicitations of Henry IV.]

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 you.

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!