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Title: Letters of Horace Walpole — Volume II
Author: Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Letters of Horace Walpole — Volume II" ***

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81. TO MANN, _Dec._ 20, 1764.--Madame de Boufflers at Strawberry--The
French Opinion of the English Character--Richardson's Novels--Madame de

82. TO THE EARL OF HERTFORD, _Feb._ 12, 1765.--Debate on American
Taxes--Petition of the Periwig-Makers--Female Head-dresses--Lord Byron's
Duel--Opening of Almack's--No. 45

83. TO COLE, _March_ 9, 1765.--His "Castle of Otranto"--Bishop Percy's
Collection of Old Ballads

84. TO THE EARL OF HERTFORD, _March_ 26, 1765.--Illness of the
King--French and English Actors and Actresses: Clairon, Garrick, Quin,
Mrs. Clive

85. TO MANN, _May_ 25, 1765.--Riots of Weavers--Ministerial
Changes--Factious Conduct of Mr. Pitt

86. TO MONTAGU, _July_ 28, 1765.--Prospects of Old Age when joined to

87. TO LADY HERVEY, _Sept._ 14, 1765.--Has reached Paris--The French
Opera--Illness of the Dauphin--Popularity of Mr. Hume

88. TO MONTAGU, _Sept._ 22, 1765.--Is Making New Friends in Paris--Decay
of the French Stage--Le Kain--Dumenil--New French inclination for
Philosophy and Free-Thinking--General Admiration of Hume's History and
Richardson's Novels

89. TO CHUTE, _Oct._ 3, 1765.--His Presentation at Court--Illness of the
Dauphin--Description of his Three Sons

90. TO CONWAY, _Jan._ 12, 1766.--Supper Parties at Paris--Walpole Writes
a Letter from Le Roi de Prusse à Monsieur Rousseau

91. TO GRAY, _Jan._ 25, 1766.--A Constant Round of Amusements--A Gallery
of Female Portraits--Madame Geoffrin--Madame du Deffand--Madame de
Mirepoix--Madame de Boufflers--Madame de Rochfort--The Maréchale de
Luxemburg--The Duchesse de Choiseul--An old French Dandy--M. de
Maurepas--Popularity of his Letter to Rousseau

92. TO MANN, _Feb._ 29, 1766.--Situation of Affairs in England--Cardinal
York--Death of Stanilaus Leczinski, Ex-King of Poland

93. TO CONWAY, _April_ 8, 1766.--Singular Riot in Madrid--Changes in the
French Ministry--Insurrections in the Provinces

94. TO MONTAGU, _June 20_, 1766.--The Bath Guide--Swift's Correspondence

95. TO CHUTE, _Oct._ 10, 1766.--Bath--Wesley

96. TO MANN, _July_ 20, 1767.--Ministerial Difficulties--Return of Lord

97. TO THE SAME, _Sept._ 27, 1767.--Death of Charles Townshend and of
the Duke of York--Whist the New Fashion in France

98. TO GRAY, _Feb._ 18, 1768.--Some New Poems of Gray--Walpole's
"Historic Doubts"--Boswell's "Corsica"

99. TO MANN, _March_ 31, 1768.--Wilkes is returned M.P. for
Middlesex--Riots in London--Violence of the Mob

100. TO MONTAGU, _April_ 15, 1768.--Fleeting Fame of Witticisms--"The
Mysterious Mother"

101. TO MANN, _June_ 9, 1768.--Case of Wilkes

102. TO MONTAGU, _June_ 15, 1768.--The English Climate

103. TO VOLTAIRE, _July_ 27, 1768.--Voltaire's Criticisms on
Shakespeare--Parnell's "Hermit"

104. TO THE EARL OF STRAFFORD, _Aug._ 16, 1768.--Arrival of the King of
Denmark--His Popularity with the Mob

105. TO MANN, _Jan._ 31, 1769.--Wilkes's Election--The Comtesse de
Barri--The Duc de Choiseul's Indiscretion

106. TO MONTAGU, _May_ 11, 1769.--A Garden Party at Strawberry--A
Ridotto at Vauxhall

107. TO MANN, _June_ 14, 1769.--Paoli--Ambassadorial Etiquette

108. TO CHUTE, _Aug._ 30, 1765.--His Return to Paris--Madame Deffand--A
Translation of "Hamlet"--Madame Dumenil--Voltaire's "Mérope" and "Les

109. TO MONTAGU, _Sept._ 17, 1769.--The French Court--The Young
Princes--St. Cyr--Madame de Mailly

110. TO MANN, _Feb._ 27, 1770.--A Masquerade--State of Russia

111. TO THE SAME, _May_ 6, 1770.--Wilkes--Burke's Pamphlet--Prediction
of American Republics--Extravagance in England

112. TO MONTAGU, _May_ 6, 1770.--Masquerades in Fashion--A Lady's Club

113. TO MANN, _June_ 15, 1770,--The Princess of Wales is gone to
Germany--Terrible Accident in Paris

114. TO THE SAME, _Dec._ 29, 1770.--Fall of the Duc de Choiseul's

115. TO THE SAME, _Feb._ 22, 1771.--Peace with Spain--Banishment of the
French Parliament--Mrs. Cornelys's Establishment--The Queen of Denmark
116. TO THE SAME, _April_ 26, 1771.--Quarrel of the House of Commons
with the City--Dissensions in the French Court and Royal
Family--Extravagance in England

117. TO CONWAY, _July_ 30, 1771.--Great Distress at the French Court

118. TO CHUTE, _August_ 5, 1771.--English Gardening in
France--Anglomanie--He is weary of Paris--Death of Gray

119. TO COLE, _Jan._ 28, 1772.--Scantiness of the Relics of
Gray--Garrick's Prologues, &c.--Wilkes's Squint

120. TO MANN, _April_ 9, 1772.--Marriage of the Pretender--The Princess
Louise, and her Protection of the Clergy--Fox's Eloquence

121. TO COLE, _Jan._ 8, 1773.--An Answer to his "Historic Doubts"--His
Edition of Grammont

122. TO MANN, _July_10, 1774.--Popularity of Louis XVI.--Death of Lord
Holland--Bruce's "Travels"

123. TO THE SAME, _Oct._ 6, 1774.--Discontent in America--Mr.
Grenville's Act for the Trial of Election Petitions--Highway Robberies

124. TO THE SAME, _Oct._ 22, 1774.--The Pope's Death--Wilkes is returned
for Middlesex--A Quaker at Versailles

125. TO THE COUNTESS OF AILESBURY, _Nov._ 7, 1774.--Burke's Election at
Bristol--Resemblance of one House of Commons to Another--Comfort of Old

126. TO MANN, _Nov._ 24, 1774.--Death of Lord Clive--Restoration of the
French Parliament--Prediction of Great Men to arise in America--The
King's Speech

127. TO CONWAY AND LADY AYLESBURY, _Jan._ 15, 1775.--Riots at Boston--A
Literary Coterie at Bath-Easton

128. TO GEM, _April_ 4, 1776.--Opposition of the French Parliaments to
Turgot's Measures

129. TO CONWAY, _June_ 20, 1776.--His Decorations at "Strawberry"--His
Estimate of himself, and his Admiration of Conway

130. TO MANN, _Dec._ 1, 1776.--Anglomanie in Paris--Horse-Racing

131. TO COLE, _June_ 19, 1777.--Ossian--Chatterton

132. TO MANN, _Oct._ 26, 1777.--Affairs in America--The Czarina and the
Emperor of China

133. TO THE SAME, _May_ 31, 1778.--Death of Lord Chatham--Thurlow
becomes Lord Chancellor

134. TO COLE, _June_ 3, 1778.--Exultation of France at our Disasters in

135. TO MANN, _July_ 7, 1778.--Admiral Keppel's Success--Threats of
Invasion--Funeral of Lord Chatham

136. TO CONWAY, _July_ 8, 1778.--Suggestion of Negotiations with
France--Partition of Poland

137. TO MANN, _Oct._ 8, 1778.--Unsuccessful Cruise of Keppel--Character
of Lord Chatham

138. TO THE SAME, _March_ 22, 1779.--Capture of Pondicherry--Changes in
the Ministry--La Fayette in America

139. TO THE SAME, _July_ 7, 1779.--Divisions in the Ministry--Character
of the Italians and of the French

140. TO THE SAME, _Sept._ 16, 1779.--Eruption of Vesuvius--Death of Lord

141. TO THE SAME, _Jan._ 13, 1780.--Chances of War with Holland--His
Father's Policy--Pope--Character of Bolingbroke

142. TO THE SAME, _Feb._ 6, 1780.--Political Excitement--Lord G.
Gordon--Extraordinary Gambling Affairs in India

143. TO THE SAME, _March_ 3, 1780.--Rodney's Victory--Walpole inclines
to Withdraw from Amusements

144. TO THE SAME, _June_ 5, 1780.--The Gordon Riots

145. TO DALRYMPLE, _Dec._ 11, 1780.--Hogarth--Colonel
Charteris--Archbishop Blackburne--Jervas--Richardson's Poetry

146. TO MANN, _Dec._ 31, 1780.--The Prince of Wales--Hurricane at
Barbadoes--A "Voice from St. Helena"

147. TO THE SAME, _Sept._ 7, 1781.--Naval Movements--Siege of
Gibraltar--Female Fashions

148. TO THE SAME, _Nov._ 29, 1781.--Capitulation of Lord
Cornwallis--Pitt and Fox

149. TO COLE, _April_ 13, 1782.--The Language proper for Inscriptions in
England--Fall of Lord North's Ministry--Bryant

150. TO MANN, _Sept._ 8, 1782.--Highwaymen and Footpads

151. TO THE SAME, _Dec._ 2, 1783.--Fox's India Bill--Balloons

152. TO CONWAY, _Oct._ 15, 1784.--Balloons

153. TO PINKERTON, _June_ 22, 1785.--His Letters on
Literature--Disadvantage of Modern Writers--Comparison of Lady Mary
Wortley with Madame de Sévigné

154. TO THE SAME, _June_ 26, 1785.--Criticism on various Authors: Greek,
Latin, French, and English--Humour of Addison, and of
Fielding--Waller--Milton--Boileau's "Lutrin"--"The Rape of the
Lock"--Madame de Sévigné

155. TO MANN, _Aug._ 26, 1785.--Ministerial Difficulties--The Affair of
the Necklace in Paris--Fluctuating Unpopularity of Statesmen--Fallacies
of History

156. TO THE SAME, _Oct._ 4, 1785.--Brevity of Modern Addresses--The old
Duchess of Marlborough

157. TO THE SAME, _Oct._ 30, 1785.--Lady Craven--Madame Piozzi--"The
Rolliad"--Herschel's Astronomical Discovery

158. TO MISS MORE, _Oct._ 14, 1787.--Mrs. Yearsley--Madame
Piozzi--Gibbon--"Le Mariage de Figaro"

159. TO THE SAME, _July_ 12, 1788.--Gentlemen Writers--His own Reasons
for Writing when Young--Voltaire--"Evelina"--Miss Seward--Hayley

160. TO MANN, _Feb._ 12, 1789.--Divisions in the Royal Family--The
Regency--The Irish Parliament

161. TO MISS BERRY, _June_ 30, 1789.--"The Arabian Nights"--The
Aeneid--Boccalini--Orpheus and Eurydice

162. TO CONWAY, _July_ 15, 1789.--Dismissal of Necker--Baron de
Breteuil--The Duc D'Orléans--Mirabeau

163. TO THE SAME, _July_ 1, 1790.--Bruce's "Travels"--Violence of the
French Jacobins--Necker

164. TO MISS BERRYS, _June_ 8, 1791.--The Prince of Wales--Growth of
London and other Towns

165. TO THE SAME, _Aug._ 23, 1791.--Sir W. and Lady Hamilton--A
Boat-race--The Margravine of Anspach

166. TO THE SAME, _Oct._ 15, 1793.--Arrest of the Duchesse de Biron--The
Queen of France--Pythagoras

167. TO CONWAY, _July 2_, 1795.--Expectations of a Visit to Strawberry
by the Queen

168. TO THE SAME, _July_ 7, 1795.--Report of the Visit




Photographed from a drawing in the National Portrait Gallery, made by
JAMES BASIRE, the engraver, from a sketch from life by Gray's friend,



From a mezzotint by J. SIMON, after a picture by Sir GODFREY KNELLER.









ARLINGTON STREET, _Dec._ 20, 1764.

... My journey to Paris is fixed for some time in February, where I hear
I may expect to find Madame de Boufflers, Princess of Conti. Her husband
is just dead; and you know the House of Bourbon have an alacrity at
marrying their old mistresses. She was here last year, being extremely
infected with the _Anglomanie_, though I believe pretty well cured by
her journey. She is past forty, and does not appear ever to have been
handsome, but is one of the most agreeable and sensible women I ever
saw; yet I must tell you a trait of her that will not prove my
assertion. Lady Holland asked her how she liked Strawberry Hill? She
owned that she did not approve of it, and that it was not _digne de la
solidité Angloise_. It made me laugh for a quarter of an hour. They
allot us a character we have not, and then draw consequences from that
idea, which would be absurd, even if the idea were just. One must not
build a Gothic house because the nation is _solide_. Perhaps, as
everything now in France must be _à la Grecque_, she would have liked a
hovel if it pretended to be built after Epictetus's--but Heaven forbid
that I should be taken for a philosopher! Is it not amazing that the
most sensible people in France can never help being domineered by sounds
and general ideas? Now everybody must be a _géomètre_, now a
_philosophe_, and the moment they are either, they are to take up a
character and advertise it: as if one could not study geometry for one's
amusement or for its utility, but one must be a geometrician at table,
or at a visit! So the moment it is settled at Paris that the English are
solid, every Englishman must be wise, and, if he has a good
understanding, he must not be allowed to play the fool. As I happen to
like both sense and nonsense, and the latter better than what generally
passes for the former, I shall disclaim, even at Paris, the
_profondeur_, for which they admire us; and I shall nonsense to admire
Madame de Boufflers, though her nonsense is not the result of nonsense,
but of sense, and consequently not the genuine nonsense that I honour.
When she was here, she read a tragedy in prose to me, of her own
composition, taken from "The Spectator:" the language is beautiful and
so are the sentiments.

There is a Madame de Beaumont who has lately written a very pretty
novel, called "Lettres du Marquis du Roselle." It is imitated, too, from
an English standard, and in my opinion a most woful one; I mean the
works of Richardson, who wrote those deplorably tedious lamentations,
"Clarissa" and "Sir Charles Grandison," which are pictures of high life
as conceived by a bookseller, and romances as they would be
spiritualized by a Methodist teacher: but Madame de Beaumont has almost
avoided sermons, and almost reconciled sentiments and common sense. Read
her novel--you will like it.



ARLINGTON STREET, _Feb._ 12, 1765.

A great many letters pass between us, my dear lord, but I think they are
almost all of my writing. I have not heard from you this age. I sent you
two packets together by Mr. Freeman, with an account of our chief
debates. Since the long day, I have been much out of order with a cold
and cough, that turned to a fever: I am now taking James's powder, not
without apprehensions of the gout, which it gave me two or three years

There has been nothing of note in Parliament but one slight day on the
American taxes,[1] which, Charles Townshend supporting, received a
pretty heavy thump from Barré, who is the present Pitt, and the dread of
all the vociferous Norths and Rigbys, on whose lungs depended so much of
Mr. Grenville's power. Do you never hear them to Paris?

[Footnote 1: Mr. Grenville's taxation of stamps and other articles in
our American colonies, which caused great discontent, and was repealed
by Lord Rockingham's Ministry.]

The operations of the Opposition are suspended in compliment to Mr.
Pitt, who has declared himself so warmly for the question on the
Dismission of officers, that that motion waits for his recovery. A call
of the House is appointed for next Wednesday, but as he has had a
relapse, the motion will probably be deferred. I should be very glad if
it was to be dropped entirely for this session, but the young men are
warm and not easily bridled.

If it was not too long to transcribe, I would send you an entertaining
petition of the periwig-makers to the King, in which they complain that
men will wear their own hair. Should one almost wonder if carpenters
were to remonstrate, that since the peace their trade decays, and that
there is no demand for wooden legs? _Apropos_ my Lady Hertford's friend,
Lady Harriot Vernon, has quarrelled with me for smiling at the enormous
head-gear of her daughter, Lady Grosvenor. She came one night to
Northumberland House with such display of friz, that it literally spread
beyond her shoulders. I happened to say it looked as if her parents had
stinted her in hair before marriage, and that she was determined to
indulge her fancy now. This, among ten thousand things said by all the
world, was reported to Lady Harriot, and has occasioned my disgrace. As
she never found fault with anybody herself, I excuse her. You will be
less surprised to hear that the Duchess of Queensberry has not yet done
dressing herself marvellously: she was at Court on Sunday in a gown and
petticoat of red flannel....

We have not a new book, play, intrigue, marriage, elopement, or quarrel;
in short, we are very dull. For politics, unless the ministers wantonly
thrust their hands into some fire, I think there will not even be a
smoke. I am glad of it, for my heart is set on my journey to Paris, and
I hate everything that stops me. Lord Byron's[1] foolish trial is likely
to protract the session a little; but unless there is any particular
business, I shall not stay for a puppet-show. Indeed, I can defend my
staying here by nothing but my ties to your brother. My health, I am
sure, would be better in another climate in winter. Long days in the
House kill me, and weary me into the bargain. The individuals of each
party are alike indifferent to me; nor can I at this time of day grow to
love men whom I have laughed at all my lifetime--no, I cannot
alter;--Charles Yorke or a Charles Townshend are alike to me, whether
ministers or patriots. Men do not change in my eyes, because they quit a
black livery for a white one. When one has seen the whole scene shifted
round and round so often, one only smiles, whoever is the present
Polonius or the Gravedigger, whether they jeer the Prince, or flatter
his phrenzy.

[Footnote 1: In a previous letter Walpole mentions the duel caused by a
dispute at cards, in which Lord Byron was so unfortunate as to kill his
cousin, Mr. Chaworth.]

_Thursday night, 14th._

The new Assembly Room at Almack's[1] was opened the night before last,
and they say is very magnificent, but it was empty; half the town is ill
with colds, and many were afraid to go, as the house is scarcely built
yet. Almack advertized that it was built with hot bricks and boiling
water--think what a rage there must be for public places, if this
notice, instead of terrifying, could draw anybody thither. They tell me
the ceilings were dropping with wet--but can you believe me, when I
assure you the Duke of Cumberland was there?--Nay, had had a levée in
the morning, and went to the Opera before the assembly! There is a vast
flight of steps, and he was forced to rest two or three times. If he
dies of it,--and how should he not?--it will sound very silly when
Hercules or Theseus ask him what he died of, to reply, "I caught my
death on a damp staircase at a new club-room."

[Footnote 1: Almack was a Scotchman, who got up a sort of female club in
King Street, St. James's, at the place since known as Willis's Rooms. In
the first half of the present century the balls of Almack's were the
most fashionable and exclusive in London, under the government of six
lady patronesses, without a voucher from one of whom no one could obtain
admittance. For a long time after trousers had become the ordinary wear
they were proscribed at Almack's, and gentlemen were required to adhere
to the more ancient and showy attire of knee-breeches; and it was said
that in consequence of one having attempted unsuccessfully to obtain
admission in trousers the tickets for the next ball were headed with a
notice that "gentlemen would not be admitted without breeches and

Williams, the reprinter of the _North Briton_, stood in the pillory
to-day in Palace Yard.[1] He went in a hackney-coach, the number of
which was 45. The mob erected a gallows opposite him, on which they hung
a boot[2] with a bonnet of straw. Then a collection was made for
Williams, which amounted to near £200. In short, every public event
informs the Administration how thoroughly they are detested, and that
they have not a friend whom they do not buy. Who can wonder, when every
man of virtue is proscribed, and they have neither parts nor characters
to impose even upon the mob! Think to what a government is sunk, when a
Secretary of State is called in Parliament to his face "the most
profligate sad dog in the kingdom," and not a man can open his lips in
his defence. Sure power must have some strange unknown charm, when it
can compensate for such contempt! I see many who triumph in these bitter
pills which the ministry are so often forced to swallow; I own I do not;
it is more mortifying to me to reflect how great and respectable we
were three years ago, than satisfactory to see those insulted who have
brought such shame upon us. 'Tis poor amends to national honour to know,
that if a printer is set in the pillory, his country wishes it was my
Lord This, or Mr. That. They will be gathered to the Oxfords, and
Bolingbrokes, and ignominious of former days; but the wound they have
inflicted is perhaps indelible. That goes to _my_ heart, who had felt
all the Roman pride of being one of the first nations upon earth!--Good
night!--I will go to bed, and dream of Kings drawn in triumph; and then
I will go to Paris, and dream I am pro-consul there: pray, take care not
to let me be awakened with an account of an invasion having taken place
from Dunkirk![3] Yours ever, H.W.

[Footnote 1: This was the last occasion on which the punishment of the
pillory was inflicted.]

[Footnote 2: A scandal, for which there was no foundation, imputed to
the Princess of Wales an undue intimacy with John Earl of Bute; and with
a practical pun on his name the mob in some of the riots which were
common in the first years of his reign showed their belief in the lie by
fastening a _jack-boot_ and a petticoat together and feeding a bonfire
with them.]

[Footnote 3: One article in the late treaty of peace had stipulated for
the demolition of Dunkirk.]



STRAWBERRY HILL, _March_ 9, 1765.

Dear Sir,--I had time to write but a short note with the "Castle of
Otranto," as your messenger called on me at four o'clock, as I was going
to dine abroad. Your partiality to me and Strawberry have, I hope,
inclined you to excuse the wildness of the story. You will even have
found some traits to put you in mind of this place. When you read of
the picture quitting its panel, did not you recollect the portrait of
Lord Falkland, all in white, in my Gallery? Shall I even confess to you,
what was the origin of this romance! I waked one morning, in the
beginning of last June, from a dream, of which, all I could recover was,
that I had thought myself in an ancient castle (a very natural dream for
a head filled like mine with Gothic story), and that on the uppermost
banister of a great staircase I saw a gigantic hand in armour. In the
evening I sat down, and began to write, without knowing in the least
what I intended to say or relate. The work grew on my hands, and I grew
fond of it--add, that I was very glad to think of anything, rather than
politics. In short, I was so engrossed with my tale, which I completed
in less than two months, that one evening, I wrote from the time I had
drunk my tea, about six o'clock, till half an hour after one in the
morning, when my hand and fingers were so weary, that I could not hold
the pen to finish the sentence, but left Matilda and Isabella talking,
in the middle of a paragraph. You will laugh at my earnestness; but if I
have amused you, by retracing with any fidelity the manners of ancient
days, I am content, and give you leave to think me idle as you

Lord Essex's trial is printed with the State Trials. In return for your
obliging offer, I can acquaint you with a delightful publication of this
winter, "A Collection of Old Ballads and Poetry," in three volumes, many
from Pepys's Collection at Cambridge. There were three such published
between thirty and forty years ago, but very carelessly, and wanting
many in this set: indeed, there were others, of a looser sort, which the
present editor [Dr. Percy[1]], who is a clergyman, thought it decent to

[Footnote 1: Dr. Percy, Bishop of Dromore, in Ireland, was the heir male
of the ancient Earls of Northumberland, and the title of his collection
was "Reliques of English Poetry." He was also himself the author of more
than one imitation of the old ballads, one of which is mentioned by
Johnson in a letter to Mr. Langton: "Dr. Percy has written a long ballad
in many _fits_ [fyttes]. It is pretty enough: he has printed and will
soon publish it" (Boswell, iii., ann. 1771).]

My bower is determined, but not at all what it is to be. Though I write
romances, I cannot tell how to build all that belongs to them. Madame
Danois, in the Fairy Tales, used to _tapestry_ them with _jonquils_; but
as that furniture will not last above a fortnight in the year, I shall
prefer something more huckaback. I have decided that the outside shall
be of _treillage_, which, however, I shall not commence, till I have
again seen some of old Louis's old-fashioned _Galanteries_ at
Versailles. Rosamond's bower, you, and I, and Tom Hearne know, was a
labyrinth: but as my territory will admit of a very short clew, I lay
aside all thoughts of a mazy habitation: though a bower is very
different from an arbour, and must have more chambers than one. In
short, I both know, and don't know what it should be. I am almost afraid
I must go and read Spenser, and wade through his allegories, and
drawling stanzas, to get at a picture. But, good night! you see how one
gossips, when one is alone, and at quiet on one's own dunghill!--Well!
it may be trifling; yet it is such trifling as Ambition never is happy
enough to know! Ambition orders palaces, but it is Content that chats
for a page or two over a bower.



ARLINGTON STREET, _March_ 26, 1765.

Three weeks are a great while, my dear lord, for me to have been without
writing to you; but besides that I have passed many days at Strawberry,
to cure my cold (which it has done), there has nothing happened worth
sending across the sea. Politics have dozed, and common events been fast
asleep. Of Guerchy's affair, you probably know more than I do; it is now
forgotten. I told him I had absolute proof of his innocence, for I was
sure, that if he had offered money for assassination, the men who swear
against him would have taken it.

The King has been very seriously ill, and in great danger. I would not
alarm you, as there were hopes when he was at the worst. I doubt he is
not free yet from his complaint, as the humour fallen on his breast
still oppresses him. They talk of his having a levée next week, but he
has not appeared in public, and the bills are passed by commission; but
he rides out. The Royal Family have suffered like us mortals; the Duke
of Gloucester has had a fever, but I believe his chief complaint is of
a youthful kind. Prince Frederick is thought to be in a deep
consumption; and for the Duke of Cumberland, next post will probably
certify you of his death, as he is relapsed, and there are no hopes of
him. He fell into his lethargy again, and when they waked him, he said
he did not know whether he could call himself obliged to them.

I dined two days ago at Monsieur de Guerchy's, with the Count de
Caraman, who brought me your letter. He seems a very agreeable man, and
you may be sure, for your sake, and Madame de Mirepoix's, no civilities
in my power shall be wanting. I have not yet seen Schouvaloff,[1] about
whom one has more curiosity--it is an opportunity of gratifying that
passion which one can so seldom do in personages of his historic nature,
especially remote foreigners. I wish M. de Caraman had brought the
"Siege of Calais," which he tells me is printed, though your account has
a little abated my impatience. They tell us the French comedians are to
act at Calais this summer--is it possible they can be so absurd, or
think us so absurd as to go thither, if we would not go further? I
remember, at Rheims, they believed that English ladies went to Calais to
drink champagne--is this the suite of that belief? I was mightily
pleased with the Duc de Choiseul's answer to the Clairon;[2] but when I
hear of the French admiration of Garrick, it takes off something of my
wonder at the prodigious adoration of him at home. I never could
conceive the marvellous merit of repeating the works of others in one's
own language with propriety, however well delivered. Shakespeare is not
more admired for writing his plays, than Garrick for acting them. I
think him a very good and very various player--but several have pleased
me more, though I allow not in so many parts. Quin[3] in Falstaff, was
as excellent as Garrick[4] in Lear. Old Johnson far more natural in
everything he attempted. Mrs. Porter and your Dumesnil surpassed him in
passionate tragedy; Cibber and O'Brien were what Garrick could never
reach, coxcombs, and men of fashion. Mrs. Clive is at least as perfect
in low comedy--and yet to me, Ranger was the part that suited Garrick
the best of all he ever performed. He was a poor Lothario, a ridiculous
Othello, inferior to Quin in Sir John Brute and Macbeth, and to Cibber
in Bayes, and a woful Lord Hastings and Lord Townley. Indeed, his Bayes
was original, but not the true part: Cibber was the burlesque of a great
poet, as the part was designed, but Garrick made it a Garretteer. The
town did not like him in Hotspur, and yet I don't know whether he did
not succeed in it beyond all the rest. Sir Charles Williams and Lord
Holland thought so too, and they were no bad judges. I am impatient to
see the Clairon, and certainly will, as I have promised, though I have
not fixed my day. But do you know you alarm me! There was a time when I
was a match for Madame de Mirepoix at pharaoh, to any hour of the night,
and I believe did play with her five nights in a week till three and
four in the morning--but till eleven o'clock to-morrow morning--Oh! that
is a little too much, even at loo. Besides, I shall not go to Paris for
pharaoh--if I play all night, how shall I see everything all day?

[Footnote 1: Schouvaloff was notorious as a favourite of the Empress

[Footnote 2: Mdlle. Clairon had been for some years the most admired
tragic actress in France. In that age actors and actresses in France
were exposed to singular insults. M. Lacroix, in his "France in the
Eighteenth Century," tells us: "They were considered as inferior beings
in the social scale; excommunicated by the Church, and banished from
society, they were compelled to endure all the humiliations and affronts
which the public chose to inflict on them in the theatre; and, if any of
them had the courage to make head against the storm, and to resist the
violence and cruelty of the pit, they were sent to prison, and not
released but on condition of apologising to the tyrants who had so
cruelly insulted them. Many had a sufficient sense of their own dignity
to withdraw themselves from this odious despotism after having been in
prison in Fort l'Evêcque, their ordinary place of confinement, by the
order of the gentlemen of the chamber or the lieutenant of police; and
it was in this way that Mdlle. Clairon bade farewell to the Comédie
Française and gave up acting in 1765, when at the very height of her
talent, and in the middle of her greatest dramatic triumphs." The
incident here alluded to by Walpole was that "a critic named Fréron had
libelled her in a journal to which he contributed; and, as she could not
obtain justice, she applied to the Duc de Choiseul, the Prime Minister.
Even he was unable to put her in the way of obtaining redress, and
sought to pacify her by comparing her position to his own. 'I am,' said
he, 'mademoiselle, like yourself, a public performer; with this
difference in your favour, that you choose what parts you please, and
are sure to be crowned with the applause of the public; for I reckon as
nothing the bad taste of one or two wretched individuals who have the
misfortune of not adoring you. I, on the other hand, am obliged to act
the parts imposed on me by necessity. I am sure to please nobody; I am
satirised, criticised, libelled, hissed; yet I continue to do my best.
Let us both, then, sacrifice our little resentments and enmities to the
public service, and serve our country, each in our own station. Besides,
the Queen has condescended to forgive Fréron, and you may therefore,
without compromising your dignity, imitate Her Majesty's clemency'"
("Mem. de Bachaumont," i. 61). But Mdlle. was not to be pacified, nor to
be persuaded to expose herself to a repetition of insult; but, though
only forty-one, she retired from the stage for ever.]

[Footnote 3: Quin was employed by the Princess of Wales to teach her son
elocution, and when he heard how generally his young sovereign was
praised for the grace and dignity of his delivery of his speech to his
Parliament, he boasted, "Ah, it was I taught the boy to speak."]

[Footnote 4: Garrick was not only a great actor, but also a great
reformer of the stage. He seems to have excelled equally both in tragedy
and comedy, which makes it natural to suppose that in some parts he may
have been excelled by other actors; though he had no equal (and perhaps
never has had) in both lines. He was also himself the author of several
farces of more than average merit.]

Lady Sophia Thomas has received the Baume de vie, for which she gives
you a thousand thanks, and I ten thousand.

We are extremely amused with the wonderful histories of your hyena[1] in
the Gevaudan; but our fox-hunters despise you: it is exactly the
enchanted monster of old romances. If I had known its history a few
months ago, I believe it would have appeared in the "Castle of
Otranto,"--the success of which has, at last, brought me to own it,
though the wildness of it made me terribly afraid; but it was
comfortable to have it please so much, before any mortal suspected the
author: indeed, it met with too much honour far, for at first it was
universally believed to be Mr. Gray's. As all the first impression is
sold, I am hurrying out another, with a new preface, which I will send

[Footnote 1: A wolf of enormous size, and, in some respects, irregular
conformation, which for a long time ravaged the Gevaudan; it was, soon
after the date of this letter, killed, and Mr. Walpole saw it in Paris.]



ARLINGTON STREET, _May_ 25, 1765, _sent by way of Paris_.

My last I think was of the 16th. Since that we have had events of almost
every sort. A whole administration dismissed, taken again, suspended,
confirmed; an insurrection; and we have been at the eve of a civil war.
Many thousand Weavers rose, on a bill for their relief being thrown out
of the House of Lords by the Duke of Bedford. For four days they were
suffered to march about the town with colours displayed, petitioning the
King, surrounding the House of Lords, mobbing and wounding the Duke of
Bedford, and at last besieging his house, which, with his family, was
narrowly saved from destruction. At last it grew a regular siege and
blockade; but by garrisoning it with horse and foot literally, and
calling in several regiments, the tumult is appeased. Lord Bute rashly
taking advantage of this unpopularity of his enemies, advised the King
to notify to his Ministers that he intended to dismiss them,--and by
this step, no _succedaneum_ being prepared, reduced his Majesty to the
alternative of laying his crown at the foot of Mr. Pitt, or of the Duke
of Bedford; and as it proved at last, of both. The Duke of Cumberland
was sent for, and was sent to Mr. Pitt, from whom, though offering
almost _carte blanche_, he received a peremptory refusal. The next
measure was to form a Ministry from the Opposition. Willing were they,
but timid. Without Mr. Pitt nobody would engage. The King was forced to
desire his old Ministers to stay where they were. They, who had rallied
their very dejected courage, demanded terms, and hard ones
indeed--_promise_ of never consulting Lord Bute, dismission of his
brother, and the appointment of Lord Granby to be Captain-General--so
soon did those tools of prerogative talk to their exalted sovereign in
the language of the Parliament to Charles I.

The King, rather than resign his sceptre on the first summons,
determined to name his uncle Captain-General. Thus the commanders at
least were ready on each side; but the Ministers, who by the Treaty of
Paris showed how little military glory was the object of their ambition,
having contented themselves with seizing St. James's without bloodshed.
They gave up their General, upon condition Mr. Mackenzie and Lord
Holland were sacrificed to them, and, tacitly, Lord Northumberland,
whose government they bestow on Lord Weymouth without furnishing another
place to the earl, as was intended for him. All this is granted. Still
there are inexplicable riddles. In the height of negotiation, Lord
Temple was reconciled to his brother George, and declares himself a fast
friend to the late and present Ministry. What part Mr. Pitt will act is
not yet known--probably not a hostile one; but here are fine seeds of
division and animosity sown!

I have thus in six words told you the matter of volumes. You must
analyse them yourself, unless you have patience to wait till the
consequences are the comment. Don't you recollect very similar passages
in the time of Mr. Pelham, the Duke of Newcastle, Lord Granville, and
Mr. Fox? But those wounds did not penetrate so deep as these! Here are
all the great, and opulent noble families engaged on one side or the
other. Here is the King insulted and prisoner, his Mother stigmatised,
his Uncle affronted, his Favourite persecuted. It is again a scene of
Bohuns, Montforts, and Plantagenets.

While I am writing, I received yours of the 4th, containing the
revolutions in the fabric and pictures of the palace Pitti. My dear sir,
make no excuse; we each write what we have to write; and if our letters
remain, posterity will read the catastrophes of St. James's and the
Palace Pitti with equal indifference, however differently they affect
you and me now. For my part, though agitated like Ludlow or my Lord
Clarendon on the events of the day, I have more curiosity about Havering
in the Bower, the jointure house of ancient royal dowagers, than about
Queen Isabella herself. Mr. Wilkes, whom you mention, will be still more
interested, when he hears that his friend Lord Temple has shaken hands
with his foes Halifax and Sandwich; and I don't believe that any amnesty
is stipulated for the exile. Churchill, Wilkes's poet, used to wish that
he was at liberty to attack Mr. Pitt and Charles Townshend,--the moment
is come, but Churchill is gone! Charles Townshend has got Lord Holland's
place--and yet the people will again and again believe that nothing is
intended but their interest.

When I recollect all I have seen and known, I seem to be as old as
Methuselah: indeed I was born in politics,--but I hope not to die in
them. With all my experience, these last five weeks have taught me more
than any other ten years; accordingly, a retreat is the whole scope of
my wishes; but not yet arrived.

Your amiable sister, Mrs. Foote, is settled in town; I saw her last
night at the Opera with Lady Ailesbury. She is enchanted with
Manzuoli--and you know her approbation is a test, who has heard all the
great singers, learnt of all, and sings with as much taste as any of
them. Adieu!



STRAWBERRY HILL, _July_ 28, 1765.

The less one is disposed, if one has any sense, to talk of oneself to
people that inquire only out of compliment, and do not listen to the
answer, the more satisfaction one feels in indulging a self-complacency,
by sighing to those that really sympathise with our griefs. Do not think
it is pain that makes me give this low-spirited air to my letter. No, it
is the prospect of what is to come, not the sensation of what is
passing, that affects me. The loss of youth is melancholy enough; but to
enter into old age through the gate of infirmity most disheartening. My
health and spirits make me take but slight notice of the transition,
and, under the persuasion of temperance being a talisman, I marched
boldly on towards the descent of the hill, knowing I must fall at last,
but not suspecting that I should stumble by the way. This confession
explains the mortification I feel. A month's confinement to one who
never kept his bed a day is a stinging lesson, and has humbled my
insolence to almost indifference. Judge, then, how little I interest
myself about public events. I know nothing of them since I came hither,
where I had not only the disappointment of not growing better, but a bad
return in one of my feet, so that I am still wrapped up and upon a
couch. It was the more unlucky as Lord Hertford is come to England for a
very few days. He has offered to come to me; but as I then should see
him only for some minutes, I propose being carried to town to-morrow. It
will be so long before I can expect to be able to travel, that my French
journey will certainly not take place so soon as I intended, and if Lord
Hertford goes to Ireland, I shall be still more fluctuating; for though
the Duke and Duchess of Richmond will replace them at Paris, and are as
eager to have me with them, I have had so many more years heaped upon me
within this month, that I have not the conscience to trouble young
people, when I can no longer be as juvenile as they are. Indeed I shall
think myself decrepit, till I again saunter into the garden in my
slippers and without my hat in all weathers,--a point I am determined to
regain if possible; for even this experience cannot make me resign my
temperance and my hardiness. I am tired of the world, its politics, its
pursuits, and its pleasures; but it will cost me some struggles before I
submit to be tender and careful. Christ! Can I ever stoop to the regimen
of old age? I do not wish to dress up a withered person, nor drag it
about to public places; but to sit in one's room, clothed warmly,
expecting visits from folks I don't wish to see, and tended and nattered
by relations impatient for one's death! Let the gout do its worse as
expeditiously as it can; it would be more welcome in my stomach than in
my limbs. I am not made to bear a course of nonsense and advice, but
must play the fool in my own way to the last, alone with all my heart,
if I cannot be with the very few I wished to see: but, to depend for
comfort on others, who would be no comfort to me; this surely is not a
state to be preferred to death: and nobody can have truly enjoyed the
advantages of youth, health, and spirits, who is content to exist
without the two last, which alone bear any resemblance to the first.

You see how difficult it is to conquer my proud spirit: low and weak as
I am, I think my resolution and perseverance will get the better, and
that I shall still be a gay shadow; at least, I will impose any severity
upon myself, rather than humour the gout, and sink into that indulgence
with which most people treat it. Bodily liberty is as dear to me as
mental, and I would as soon flatter any other tyrant as the gout, my
Whiggism extending as much to my health as to my principles, and being
as willing to part with life, when I cannot preserve it, as your uncle
Algernon when his freedom was at stake. Adieu!



PARIS, _Sept._ 14, 1765.

I am but two days old here, Madam, and I doubt I wish I was really so,
and had my life to begin, to live it here. You see how just I am, and
ready to make _amende honorable_ to your ladyship. Yet I have seen very
little. My Lady Hertford has cut me to pieces, and thrown me into a
caldron with tailors, periwig-makers, snuff-box-wrights, milliners, &c.,
which really took up but little time; and I am come out quite new, with
everything but youth. The journey recovered me with magic expedition. My
strength, if mine could ever be called strength, is returned; and the
gout going off in a minuet step. I will say nothing of my spirits, which
are indecently juvenile, and not less improper for my age than for the
country where I am; which, if you will give me leave to say it, has a
thought too much gravity. I don't venture to laugh or talk nonsense, but
in English.

Madame Geoffrin came to town but last night, and is not visible on
Sundays; but I hope to deliver your ladyship's letter and packet
to-morrow. Mesdames d'Aiguillon, d'Egmont, and Chabot, and the Duc de
Nivernois are all in the country. Madame de Boufflers is at l'Isle
Adam, whither my Lady Hertford is gone to-night to sup, for the first
time, being no longer chained down to the incivility of an ambassadress.
She returns after supper; an irregularity that frightens me, who have
not yet got rid of all my barbarisms. There is one, alas! I never shall
get over--the dirt of this country: it is melancholy, after the purity
of Strawberry! The narrowness of the streets, trees clipped to resemble
brooms, and planted on pedestals of chalk, and a few other points, do
not edify me. The French Opera, which I have heard to-night, disgusted
me as much as ever; and the more for being followed by the Devin de
Village, which shows that they can sing without cracking the drum of
one's ear. The scenes and dances are delightful: the Italian comedy
charming. Then I am in love with _treillage_ and fountains, and will
prove it at Strawberry. Chantilly is so exactly what it was when I saw
it above twenty years ago, that I recollected the very position of
Monsieur le Duc's chair and the gallery. The latter gave me the first
idea of mine; but, presumption apart, mine is a thousand times prettier.
I gave my Lord Herbert's compliments to the statue of his friend the
Constable; and, waiting some time for the concierge, I called out, _Où
est Vatel_?

In short, Madam, being as tired as one can be of one's own country,--I
don't say whether this is much or little,--I find myself wonderfully
disposed to like this. Indeed I wish I could wash it. Madame de Guerchy
is all goodness to me; but that is not new. I have already been
prevented by great civilities from Madame de Brentheim and my old
friend Madame de Mirepoix; but am not likely to see the latter much, who
is grown a most particular favourite of the King, and seldom from him.
The Dauphin is ill, and thought in a very bad way. I hope he will live,
lest the theatres should be shut up. Your ladyship knows I never trouble
my head about royalties, farther than it affects my interest. In truth,
the way that princes affect my interest is not the common way.

I have not yet tapped the chapter of baubles, being desirous of making
my revenues maintain me here as long as possible. It will be time enough
to return to my Parliament when I want money.

Mr. Hume, that is _the Mode_, asked much about your ladyship. I have
seen Madame de Monaco, and think her very handsome, and extremely
pleasing. The younger Madame d'Egmont, I hear, disputes the palm with
her; and Madame de Brionne is not left without partisans. The nymphs of
the theatres are _laides à faire peur_, which at my age is a piece of
luck, like going into a shop of curiosities, and finding nothing to
tempt one to throw away one's money.

There are several English here, whether I will or not. I certainly did
not come for them, and shall connect with them as little as possible.
The few I value, I hope sometimes to hear of. Your ladyship guesses how
far that wish extends. Consider, too, Madam, that one of my
unworthinesses is washed and done away, by the confession I made in the
beginning of my letter.



PARIS, _Sept._ 22, 1765.

The concern I felt at not seeing you before I left England, might make
me express myself warmly, but I assure you it was nothing but concern,
nor was mixed with a grain of pouting. I knew some of your reasons, and
guessed others. The latter grieve me heartily; but I advise you to do as
I do: when I meet with ingratitude, I take a short leave both of it and
its host. Formerly I used to look out for indemnification somewhere
else; but having lived long enough to learn that the reparation
generally proved a second evil of the same sort, I am content now to
skin over such wounds with amusements, which at least leave no scars. It
is true, amusements do not always amuse when we bid them. I find it so
here; nothing strikes me; everything I do is indifferent to me. I like
the people very well, and their way of life very well; but as neither
were my object, I should not much care if they were any other people, or
it was any other way of life. I am out of England, and my purpose is

Nothing can be more obliging than the reception I meet with everywhere.
It may not be more sincere (and why should it?) than our cold and bare
civility; but it is better dressed, and looks natural; one asks no
more. I have begun to sup in French houses, and as Lady Hertford has
left Paris to-day, shall increase my intimacies. There are swarms of
English here, but most of them are going, to my great satisfaction. As
the greatest part are very young, they can no more be entertaining to me
than I to them, and it certainly was not my countrymen that I came to
live with. Suppers please me extremely; I love to rise and breakfast
late, and to trifle away the day as I like. There are sights enough to
answer that end, and shops you know are an endless field for me. The
city appears much worse to me than I thought I remembered it. The French
music as shocking as I knew it was. The French stage is fallen off,
though in the only part I have seen Le Kain I admire him extremely. He
is very ugly and ill made, and yet has an heroic dignity which Garrick
wants, and great fire. The Dumenil I have not seen yet, but shall in a
day or two. It is a mortification that I cannot compare her with the
Clairon, who has left the stage. Grandval I saw through a whole play
without suspecting it was he. Alas! four-and-twenty years make strange
havoc with us mortals! You cannot imagine how this struck me! The
Italian comedy, now united with their _opera comique_, is their most
perfect diversion; but alas! harlequin, my dear favourite harlequin, my
passion, makes me more melancholy than cheerful. Instead of laughing, I
sit silently reflecting how everything loses charms when one's own youth
does not lend it gilding! When we are divested of that eagerness and
illusion with which our youth presents objects to us, we are but the
_caput mortuum_ of pleasure.

Grave as these ideas are, they do not unfit me for French company. The
present tone is serious enough in conscience. Unluckily, the subjects of
their conversation are duller to me than my own thoughts, which may be
tinged with melancholy reflections, but I doubt from my constitution
will never be insipid.

The French affect philosophy, literature, and free-thinking: the first
never did, and never will possess me; of the two others I have long been
tired. Free-thinking is for one's self, surely not for society; besides
one has settled one's way of thinking, or knows it cannot be settled,
and for others I do not see why there is not as much bigotry in
attempting conversions from any religion as to it. I dined to-day with a
dozen _savans_, and though all the servants were waiting, the
conversation was much more unrestrained, even on the Old Testament, than
I would suffer at my own table in England, if a single footman was
present. For literature, it is very amusing when one has nothing else to
do. I think it rather pedantic in society; tiresome when displayed
professedly; and, besides, in this country one is sure it is only the
fashion of the day. Their taste in it is worst of all: could one believe
that when they read our authors, Richardson and Mr. Hume should be their
favourites? The latter is treated here with perfect veneration. His
History, so falsified in many points, so partial in as many, so very
unequal in its parts, is thought the standard of writing.

In their dress and equipages they are grown very simple. We English are
living upon their old gods and goddesses; I roll about in a chariot
decorated with cupids, and look like the grandfather of Adonis.

Of their parliaments and clergy I hear a good deal, and attend very
little: I cannot take up any history in the middle, and was too sick of
politics at home to enter into them here. In short, I have done with the
world, and live in it rather than in a desert, like you. Few men can
bear absolute retirement, and we English worst of all. We grow so
humorsome, so obstinate and capricious, and so prejudiced, that it
requires a fund of good-nature like yours not to grow morose. Company
keeps our rind from growing too coarse and rough; and though at my
return I design not to mix in public, I do not intend to be quite a
recluse. My absence will put it in my power to take up or drop as much
as I please. Adieu! I shall inquire about your commission of books, but
having been arrived but ten days, have not yet had time. Need I say?--no
I need not--that nobody can be more affectionately yours than, &c.



PARIS, _Oct._ 3, 1765.

I don't know where you are, nor when I am likely to hear of you. I write
at random, and, as I talk, the first thing that comes into my pen.

I am, as you certainly conclude, much more amused than pleased. At a
certain time of life, sights and new objects may entertain one, but new
people cannot find any place in one's affection. New faces with some
name or other belonging to them, catch my attention for a minute--I
cannot say many preserve it. Five or six of the women that I have seen
already are very sensible. The men are in general much inferior, and not
even agreeable. They sent us their best, I believe, at first, the Duc de
Nivernois. Their authors, who by the way are everywhere, are worse than
their own writings, which I don't mean as a compliment to either. In
general, the style of conversation is solemn, pedantic, and seldom
animated, but by a dispute. I was expressing my aversion to disputes:
Mr. Hume, who very gratefully admires the tone of Paris, having never
known any other tone, said with great surprise, "Why, what do you like,
if you hate both disputes and whisk?"

What strikes me the most upon the whole is, the total difference of
manners between them and us, from the greatest object to the least.
There is not the smallest similitude in the twenty-four hours. It is
obvious in every trifle. Servants carry their lady's train, and put her
into her coach with their hat on. They walk about the streets in the
rain with umbrellas to avoid putting on their hats; driving themselves
in open chaises in the country without hats, in the rain too, and yet
often wear them in a chariot in Paris when it does not rain. The very
footmen are powdered from the break of day, and yet wait behind their
master, as I saw the Duc of Praslin's do, with a red pocket-handkerchief
about their necks. Versailles, like everything else, is a mixture of
parade and poverty, and in every instance exhibits something most
dissonant from our manners. In the colonnades, upon the staircases, nay
in the antechambers of the royal family, there are people selling all
sorts of wares. While we were waiting in the Dauphin's sumptuous
bedchamber, till his dressing-room door should be opened, two fellows
were sweeping it, and dancing about in sabots to rub the floor.

You perceive that I have been presented. The Queen took great notice of
me; none of the rest said a syllable. You are let into the King's
bedchamber just as he has put on his shirt; he dresses and talks
good-humouredly to a few, glares at strangers, goes to mass, to dinner,
and a-hunting. The good old Queen, who is like Lady Primrose in the
face, and Queen Caroline in the immensity of her cap, is at her
dressing-table, attended by two or three old ladies, who are languishing
to be in Abraham's bosom, as the only man's bosom to whom they can hope
for admittance. Thence you go to the Dauphin, for all is done in an
hour. He scarce stays a minute; indeed, poor creature, he is a ghost,
and cannot possibly last three months. The Dauphiness is in her
bedchamber, but dressed and standing; looks cross, is not civil, and has
the true Westphalian grace and accents. The four Mesdames, who are
clumsy plump old wenches, with a bad likeness to their father, stand in
a bedchamber in a row, with black cloaks and knotting-bags, looking
good-humoured, not knowing what to say, and wriggling as if they wanted
to make water. This ceremony too is very short; then you are carried to
the Dauphin's three boys, who you may be sure only bow and stare. The
Duke of Berry[1] looks weak and weak-eyed: the Count de Provence is a
fine boy; the Count d'Artois well enough. The whole concludes with
seeing the Dauphin's little girl dine, who is as round and as fat as a

[Footnote 1: The Duc de Berri was afterwards Louis XVI.; the Comte de
Provence became Louis XVIII.; and the Comte d'Artois, Charles X.]

In the Queen's antechamber we foreigners and the foreign ministers were
shown the famous beast of the Gevaudan, just arrived, and covered with a
cloth, which two chasseurs lifted up. It is an absolute wolf, but
uncommonly large, and the expression of agony and fierceness remains
strongly imprinted on its dead jaws.

I dined at the Duc of Praslin's with four-and-twenty ambassadors and
envoys, who never go but on Tuesdays to Court. He does the honours
sadly, and I believe nothing else well, looking important and empty. The
Duc de Choiseul's face, which is quite the reverse of gravity, does not
promise much more. His wife is gentle, pretty, and very agreeable. The
Duchess of Praslin, jolly, red-faced, looking very vulgar, and being
very attentive and civil. I saw the Duc de Richelieu in waiting, who is
pale, except his nose, which is red, much wrinkled, and exactly a
remnant of that age which produced General Churchill, Wilks the player,
the Duke of Argyll, &c. Adieu!



PARIS, _Jan._ 12, 1766.

I have received your letter by General Vernon, and another, to which I
have writ an answer, but was disappointed of a conveyance I expected.
You shall have it with additions, by the first messenger that goes; but
I cannot send it by the post, as I have spoken very freely of some
persons you name, in which we agree thoroughly. These few lines are only
to tell you I am not idle in writing to you.

I almost repent having come hither; for I like the way of life and many
of the people so well, that I doubt I shall feel more regret at leaving
Paris than I expected. It would sound vain to tell you the honours and
distinctions I receive, and how much I am in fashion; yet when they come
from the handsomest women in France, and the most respectable in point
of character, can one help being a little proud? If I was twenty years
younger, I should wish they were not quite so respectable. Madame de
Brionne, whom I have never seen, and who was to have met me at supper
last night at the charming Madame d'Egmont's, sent me an invitation by
the latter for Wednesday next. I was engaged, and hesitated. I was told,
"Comment! savez-vous que c'est qu'elle ne feroit pas pour toute la
France?" However, lest you should dread my returning a perfect old
swain, I study my wrinkles, compare myself and my limbs to every plate
of larks I see, and treat my understanding with at least as little
mercy. Yet, do you know, my present fame is owing to a very trifling
composition, but which has made incredible noise. I was one evening at
Madame Geoffrin's joking on Rousseau's affectations and contradictions,
and said some things that diverted them. When I came home, I put them
into a letter, and showed it next day to Helvetius and the Duc de
Nivernois; who were so pleased with it, that after telling me some
faults in the language, which you may be sure there were, they
encouraged me to let it be seen. As you know I willingly laugh at
mountebanks, _political_ or literary, let their talents be ever so
great, I was not averse. The copies have spread like wild-fire; _et me
voici à la mode_! I expect the end of my reign at the end of the week
with great composure. Here is the letter:--



Vous avez renoncé à Génève votre patrie; vous vous êtes fait chasser de
la Suisse, pays tant vanté dans vos écrits; la France vous a décreté.
Venez donz chez moi; j'admire vos talens; je m'amuse de vos rêveries,
qui (soit dit en passant) vous occupent trop, et trop long tems. Il faut
à la fin être sage et heureux. Vous avez fait assez parler de vous par
des singularités peu convenables à un véritable grand homme. Démontrez à
vos ennemis que vous pouvez avoir quelquefois le sens commun: cela les
fachera, sans vous faire tort. Mes états vous offrent une retraite
paisible; je vous veux du bien, et je vous en ferai, si vous le trouvez
bon. Mais si vous vous obstiniez à rejetter mons secours, attendez-vous
que je ne le dirai à personne. Si vous persistez à vous creuser
l'esprit pour trouver de nouveaux malheurs, choisissez les tels que vous
voudrez. Je suis roi, je puis vous en procurer au gré de vos souhaits:
et ce qui sûrement ne vous arrivera pas vis à vis de vos ennemis, je
cesserai de vous persecuter quand vous cesserez de mettre votre gloire à

Votre bon ami,


[Footnote 1: Rousseau was always ready to believe in plots to mortify
and injure him; and he was so much annoyed by this composition of
Walpole's, that, shortly after his arrival in England, he addressed the
following letter to _The London Chronicle_:--

"WOOTTON [IN DERBYSHIRE], _March_ 3, 1766

"You have failed, Sir, in the respect which every private person owes to
a crowned head, in attributing publicly to the King of Prussia a letter
full of extravagance and malignity, of which, for those very reasons,
you ought to have known he could not be the author. You have even dared
to transcribe his signature, as if you had seen him write it with his
own hand. I inform you, Sir, that the letter was fabricated at Paris,
and what rends my heart is that the impostor has accomplices in England.
You owe to the King of Prussia, to truth, and to me to print the letter
which I write to you, and which I sign, as an atonement for a fault with
which you would doubtless reproach yourself severely, if you knew to
what a dark transaction you have rendered yourself an accessory. I
salute you, Sir, very sincerely,


The Princesse de Ligne, whose mother was an Englishwoman, made a good
observation to me last night. She said, "Je suis roi, je puis vous
procurer de malheurs," was plainly the stroke of an English pen. I
said, then I had certainly not well imitated the character in which I
wrote. You will say I am a bold man to attack both Voltaire and
Rousseau. It is true; but I shoot at their heel, at their vulnerable

I beg your pardon for taking up your time with these trifles. The day
after to-morrow we go in cavalcade with the Duchess of Richmond to her
audience; I have got my cravat and shammy shoes. Adieu!



PARIS, _Jan._ 25, 1766.

I am much indebted to you for your kind letter and advice; and though it
is late to thank you for it, it is at least a stronger proof that I do
not forget it. However, I am a little obstinate, as you know, on the
chapter of health, and have persisted through this Siberian winter in
not adding a grain to my clothes, and going open-breasted without an
under waistcoat. In short, though I like extremely to live, it must be
in my own way, as long as I can: it is not youth I court, but liberty;
and I think making oneself tender is issuing a _general warrant_
against one's own person. I suppose I shall submit to confinement when I
cannot help it; but I am indifferent enough to life not to care if it
ends soon after my prison begins.

I have not delayed so long to answer your letter, from not thinking of
it, or from want of matter, but from want of time. I am constantly
occupied, engaged, amused, till I cannot bring a hundredth part of what
I have to say into the compass of a letter. You will lose nothing by
this: you know my volubility, when I am full of new subjects; and I have
at least many hours of conversation for you at my return. One does not
learn a whole nation in four or five months; but, for the time, few, I
believe, have seen, studied, or got so much acquainted with the French
as I have.

By what I said of their religious or rather irreligious opinions, you
must not conclude their people of quality atheists--at least, not the
men. Happily for them, poor souls! they are not capable of going so far
into thinking. They assent to a great deal, because it is the fashion,
and because they don't know how to contradict. They are ashamed to
defend the Roman Catholic religion, because it is quite exploded; but I
am convinced they believe it in their hearts. They hate the Parliaments
and the philosophers, and are rejoiced that they may still idolise
royalty. At present, too, they are a little triumphant: the Court has
shown a little spirit, and the Parliaments much less: but as the Duc de
Choiseul, who is very fluttering, unsettled, and inclined to the
philosophers, has made a compromise with the Parliament of Bretagne, the
Parliaments might venture out again, if, as I fancy will be the case,
they are not glad to drop a cause, of which they began to be a little
weary of the inconveniences.

The generality of the men, and more than the generality are dull and
empty. They have taken up gravity, thinking it was philosophy and
English, and so have acquired nothing in the room of their natural
levity and cheerfulness. However, as their high opinion of their own
country remains, for which they can no longer assign any reason, they
are contemptuous and reserved, instead of being ridiculously,
consequently pardonably, impertinent. I have wondered, knowing my own
countrymen, that we had attained such a superiority. I wonder no longer,
and have a little more respect for English _heads_ than I had.

The women do not seem of the same country: if they are less gay than
they were, they are more informed, enough to make them very conversable.
I know six or seven with very superior understandings; some of them with
wit, or with softness, or very good sense.

[Illustration: THOMAS GRAY, THE POET.

_From a drawing in the National Portrait Gallery by James Basire, after
a sketch by Gray's friend and biographer, the Rev. William Mason._]

Madame Geoffrin, of whom you have heard much, is an extraordinary woman,
with more common sense than I almost ever met with. Great quickness in
discovering characters, penetration in going to the bottom of them, and
a pencil that never fails in a likeness--seldom a favourable one. She
exacts and preserves, spite of her birth and their nonsensical
prejudices about nobility, great court and attention. This she acquires
by a thousand little arts and offices of friendship: and by a freedom
and severity, which seem to be her sole end of drawing a concourse to
her; for she insists on scolding those she inveigles to her. She has
little taste and less knowledge, but protects artisans and authors, and
courts a few people to have the credit of serving her dependents. She
was bred under the famous Madame Tencin,[1] who advised her never to
refuse any man; for, said her mistress, though nine in ten should not
care a farthing for you, the tenth may live to be an useful friend. She
did not adopt or reject the whole plan, but fully retained the purport
of the maxim. In short, she is an epitome of empire, subsisting by
rewards and punishments. Her great enemy, Madame du Deffand,[2] was for
a short time mistress of the Regent, is now very old and stoneblind, but
retains all her vivacity, wit, memory, judgment, passions, and
agreeableness. She goes to Operas, Plays, suppers, and Versailles; gives
suppers twice a week; has everything new read to her; makes new songs
and epigrams, ay, admirably, and remembers every one that has been made
these four-score years. She corresponds with Voltaire, dictates charming
letters to him, contradicts him, is no bigot to him or anybody, and
laughs both at the clergy and the philosophers. In a dispute, into which
she easily falls, she is very warm, and yet scarce ever in the wrong:
her judgment on every subject is as just as possible; on every point of
conduct as wrong as possible: for she is all love and hatred, passionate
for her friends to enthusiasm, still anxious to be loved, I don't mean
by lovers, and a vehement enemy, but openly. As she can have no
amusement but conversation, the least solitude and _ennui_ are
insupportable to her, and put her into the power of several worthless
people, who eat her suppers when they can eat nobody's of higher rank;
wink to one another and laugh at her; hate her because she has forty
times more parts--and venture to hate her because she is not rich.[3]
She has an old friend whom I must mention, a Monsieur Pondeveyle, author
of the "Fatpuni," and the "Complaisant," and of those pretty novels, the
"Comte de Cominge," the "Siege of Calais," and "Les Malheurs de
l'Amour." Would you not expect this old man to be very agreeable? He can
be so, but seldom is: yet he has another very different and very
amusing talent, the art of parody, and is unique in his kind. He
composes tales to the tunes of long dances: for instance, he has adapted
the Regent's "Daphnis and Chloe" to one, and made it ten times more
indecent; but is so old, and sings it so well, that it is permitted in
all companies. He has succeeded still better in _les caractères de la
danse_, to which he has adapted words that express all the characters of
love. With all this he has not the least idea of cheerfulness in
conversation; seldom speaks but on grave subjects, and not often on
them; is a humourist, very supercilious, and wrapt up in admiration of
his own country, as the only judge of his merit. His air and look are
cold and forbidding; but ask him to sing, or praise his works, his eyes
and smiles open and brighten up. In short, I can show him to you: the
self-applauding poet in Hogarth's Rake's Progress, the second print, is
so like his very features and very wig, that you would know him by it,
if you came hither--for he certainly will not go to you.

[Footnote 1: _"The famous Mme. Tencin._" "Infamous" would be more
appropriate. She had been the mistress of Dubois, and was the mother of

[Footnote 2: His description of her on first making her acquaintance was
not altogether complimentary. In a letter of the preceding October he
calls her "an old blind debauchée of wit." In fact, she had been one of
the mistresses of the Regent, Duc d'Orléans, and at first his chief
inducement to court her society was to hear anecdotes of the Regent. But
gradually he became so enamoured of her society that he kept up an
intimacy with her till her death in 1783. There must be allowed to be
much delicate perception and delineation of character in this
description of the French fine ladies of the time.]

[Footnote 3: To the above portrait of Madame du Deffand it may be useful
to subjoin the able development of her character which appeared in the
_Quarterly Review_ for May, 1811, in its critique on her Letters to
Walpole:--"This lady seems to have united the lightness of the French
character with the solidity of the English. She was easy and volatile,
yet judicious and acute; sometimes profound and sometimes superficial.
She had a wit playful, abundant, and well-toned; an admirable conception
of the ridiculous, and great skill in exposing it; a turn for satire,
which she indulged, not always in the best-natured manner, yet with
irresistible effect; powers of expression varied, appropriate, flowing
from the source, and curious without research; a refined taste for
letters, and a judgment both of men and books in a high degree
enlightened and accurate."]

Madame de Mirepoix's understanding is excellent of the useful kind, and
can be so when she pleases of the agreeable kind. She has read, but
seldom shows it, and has perfect taste. Her manner is cold, but very
civil; and she conceals even the blood of Lorraine, without ever
forgetting it. Nobody in France knows the world better, and nobody is
personally so well with the King. She is false, artful, and insinuating
beyond measure when it is her interest, but indolent and a coward. She
never had any passion but gaming, and always loses. For ever paying
court, the sole produce of a life of art is to get money from the King
to carry on a course of paying debts or contracting new ones, which she
discharges as fast as she is able. She advertised devotion to get made
_dame du palais_ to the Queen; and the very next day this Princess of
Lorraine was seen riding backwards with Madame Pompadour in the latter's
coach. When the King was stabbed, and heartily frightened, the mistress
took a panic too, and consulted D'Argenson, whether she had not best
make off in time. He hated her, and said, By all means. Madame de
Mirepoix advised her to stay. The King recovered his spirits, D'Argenson
was banished,[1] and La Maréchale inherited part of the mistress's
credit.--I must interrupt my history of illustrious women with an
anecdote of Monsieur de Maurepas, with whom I am much acquainted, and
who has one of the few heads which approach to good ones, and who
luckily for us was disgraced, and the marine dropped, because it was his
favourite object and province. He employed Pondeveyle to make a song on
the Pompadour: it was clever and bitter, and did not spare even Majesty.
This was Maurepas absurd enough to sing at supper at Versailles.
Banishment ensued; and lest he should ever be restored, the mistress
persuaded the King that he had poisoned her predecessor Madame de
Chateauroux. Maurepas is very agreeable, and exceedingly cheerful; yet I
have seen a transient silent cloud when politics are talked of.

[Footnote 1: The Comte d'Argenson was Minister at War.]

Madame de Boufflers, who was in England, is a _savante_, mistress of the
Prince of Conti, and very desirous of being his wife. She is two women,
the upper and the lower. I need not tell you that the lower is gallant,
and still has pretensions. The upper is very sensible, too, and has a
measured eloquence that is just and pleasing--but all is spoiled by an
unrelaxed attention to applause. You would think she was always sitting
for her picture to her biographer.

Madame de Rochfort is different from all the rest. Her understanding is
just and delicate; with a finesse of wit that is the result of
reflection. Her manner is soft and feminine, and though a _savante_,
without any declared pretensions. She is the _decent_ friend of Monsieur
de Nivernois; for you must not believe a syllable of what you read in
their novels. It requires the greatest curiosity, or the greatest
habitude, to discover the smallest connexion between the sexes here. No
familiarity, but under the veil of friendship, is permitted, and Love's
dictionary is as much prohibited, as at first sight one should think his
ritual was. All you hear, and that pronounced with _nonchalance_, is,
that _Monsieur un tel_ has had _Madame une telle_.

The Duc de Nivernois has parts, and writes at the top of the mediocre,
but, as Madame Geoffrin says, is _manqué par tout; guerrier manqué,
ambassadeur manqué, homme d'affaires manqué_, and _auteur manque_--no,
he is not _homme de naissance manqué_. He would think freely, but has
some ambition of being governor to the Dauphin, and is more afraid of
his wife and daughter, who are ecclesiastic fagots. The former
out-chatters the Duke of Newcastle; and the latter, Madame de Gisors,
exhausts Mr. Pitt's eloquence in defence of the Archbishop of Paris.
Monsieur de Nivernois lives in a small circle of dependent admirers, and
Madame de Rochfort is high-priestess for a small salary of credit.

The Duchess of Choiseul, the only young one of these heroines, is not
very pretty, but has fine eyes, and is a little model in waxwork, which
not being allowed to speak for some time as incapable, has a hesitation
and modesty, the latter of which the Court has not cured, and the former
of which is atoned for by the most interesting sound of voice, and
forgotten in the most elegant turn and propriety of expression. Oh! it
is the gentlest, amiable, civil little creature that ever came out of a
fairy egg! so just in its phrases and thoughts, so attentive and
good-natured! Everybody loves it but its husband, who prefers his own
sister the Duchesse de Granmont, an Amazonian, fierce, haughty dame, who
loves and hates arbitrarily, and is detested. Madame de Choiseul,
passionately fond of her husband, was the martyr of this union, but at
last submitted with a good grace; has gained a little credit with him,
and is still believed to idolize him. But I doubt it--she takes too much
pains to profess it.

I cannot finish my list without adding a much more common character--but
more complete in its kind than any of the foregoing, the Maréchale de
Luxembourg. She has been very handsome, very abandoned, and very
mischievous. Her beauty is gone, her lovers are gone, and she thinks the
devil is coming. This dejection has softened her into being rather
agreeable, for she has wit and good-breeding; but you would swear, by
the restlessness of her person and the horrors she cannot conceal, that
she had signed the compact, and expected to be called upon in a week for
the performance.

I could add many pictures, but none so remarkable. In those I send you
there is not a feature bestowed gratis or exaggerated. For the beauties,
of which there are a few considerable, as Mesdames de Brionne, de
Monaco, et d'Egmont, they have not yet lost their characters, nor got

You must not attribute my intimacy with Paris to curiosity alone. An
accident unlocked the doors for me. That _passe-par-tout_ called the
fashion has made them fly open--and what do you think was that
fashion?--I myself. Yes, like Queen Eleanor in the ballad, I sunk at
Charing Cross, and have risen in the Fauxbourg St. Germain. A
_plaisanterie_ on Rousseau, whose arrival here in his way to you brought
me acquainted with many anecdotes conformable to the idea I had
conceived of him, got about, was liked much more than it deserved,
spread like wild-fire, and made me the subject of conversation.
Rousseau's devotees were offended. Madame de Boufflers, with a tone of
sentiment, and the accents of lamenting humanity, abused me heartily,
and then complained to myself with the utmost softness. I acted
contrition, but had liked to have spoiled all, by growing dreadfully
tired of a second lecture from the Prince of Conti, who took up the
ball, and made himself the hero of a history wherein he had nothing to
do. I listened, did not understand half he said (nor he either), forgot
the rest, said Yes when I should have said No, yawned when I should have
smiled, and was very penitent when I should have rejoiced at my pardon.
Madame de Boufflers was more distressed, for he owned twenty times more
than I had said: she frowned, and made him signs; but she had wound up
his clack, and there was no stopping it. The moment she grew angry, the
lord of the house grew charmed, and it has been my fault if I am not at
the head of a numerous sect; but, when I left a triumphant party in
England, I did not come here to be at the head of a fashion. However, I
have been sent for about like an African prince, or a learned
canary-bird, and was, in particular, carried by force to the Princess of
Talmond,[1] the Queen's cousin, who lives in a charitable apartment in
the Luxembourg, and was sitting on a small bed hung with saints and
Sobieskis, in a corner of one of those vast chambers, by two blinking
tapers. I stumbled over a cat and a footstool in my journey to her
presence. She could not find a syllable to say to me, and the visit
ended with her begging a lap-dog. Thank the Lord! though this is the
first month, it is the last week of my reign; and I shall resign my
crown with great satisfaction to a _bouillie_ of chestnuts, which is
just invented, and whose annals will be illustrated by so many
indigestions, that Paris will not want anything else these three weeks.
I will enclose the fatal letter[2] after I have finished this enormous
one; to which I will only add, that nothing has interrupted my Sévigné
researches but the frost. The Abbé de Malesherbes has given me full
power to ransack Livry. I did not tell you, that by great accident, when
I thought on nothing less, I stumbled on an original picture of the
Comte de Grammont. Adieu! You are generally in London in March; I shall
be there by the end of it.[3]

[Footnote 1: The Princess of Talmond was born in Poland, and said to be
allied to the Queen, Marie Leczinska, with whom she came to France, and
there married a prince of the house of Bouillon.]

[Footnote 2: The letter from the King of Prussia to Rousseau.--WALPOLE.]

[Footnote 3: Gray, in reference to this letter, writes thus to Dr.
Wharton, on the 5th of March:--"Mr. Walpole writes me now and then a
long and lively letter from Paris, to which place he went the last
summer, with the gout upon him; sometimes in his limbs; often in his
stomach and head. He has got somehow well (not by means of the climate,
one would think) goes to all public places, sees all the best company,
and is very much in fashion. He says he sunk, like Queen Eleanor, at
Charing Cross, and has risen again at Paris. He returns again in April;
but his health is certainly in a deplorable state."--_Works by Mitford_,
vol. iv. p. 79.]



PARIS, _Feb._ 29, 1766.

I have received your letters very regularly, and though I have not sent
you nearly so many, yet I have not been wanting to our correspondence,
when I have had anything particular to say, or knew what to say. The
Duke of Richmond has been gone to England this fortnight; he had a
great deal of business, besides engagements here; and if he has failed
writing, at least I believe he received yours. Mr. Conway, I suppose,
has received them too, but not to my knowledge; for I have received but
one from him this age. He has had something else to do than to think of
Pretenders, and pretenders to pretensions. It has been a question (and a
question scarcely decided yet) not only whether he and his friends
should remain Ministers, but whether we should not draw the sword on our
colonies, and provoke them and the manufacturers at home to rebellion.
The goodness of Providence, or Fortune by its permission, has
interposed, and I hope prevented blood; though George Grenville and the
Duke of Bedford, who so mercifully checked our victories, in compassion
to France, grew heroes the moment there was an opportunity of conquering
our own brethren. It was actually moved by them and their banditti to
send troops to America. The stout Earl of Bute, who is never afraid when
not personally in danger, joined his troops to his ancient friends, late
foes, and now new allies. Yet this second race of Spaniards, so fond of
gold and thirsting after American blood, were routed by 274; their whole
force amounting but to 134. The Earl, astonished at this defeat, had
recourse to that kind of policy which Machiavel recommends in his
chapter of _back-stairs_. Caesar himself disavowed his Ministers, and
declared he had not been for the repeal, and that his servants had used
his name without his permission. A paper was produced to his eyes,
which proved this denial an equivocation. The Ministers, instead of
tossing their places into the middle of the closet, as I should have
done, had the courage and virtue to stand firm, and save both Europe and
America from destruction.

At that instant, who do you think presented himself as Lord Bute's
guardian angel? only one of his bitterest enemies: a milk-white angel
[Duke of York], white even to his eyes and eyelashes, very purblind, and
whose tongue runs like a fiddlestick. You have seen this divinity, and
have prayed to it for a Riband. Well, this god of love became the god of
politics, and contrived meetings between Bute, Grenville, and Bedford;
but, what happens to highwaymen _after_ a robbery, happened to them
_before_; they quarrelled about the division of the plunder, before they
had made the capture--and thus, when the last letters came away, the
repeal was likely to pass in both houses, and tyranny once more

This is the quintessence of the present situation in England. To how
many _North Britons_, No. 45, will that wretched Scot furnish matter?
But let us talk of your _Cardinal Duke of York_[1]: so his folly has
left his brother in a worse situation than he took him up! _York_ seems
a title fated to sit on silly heads--or don't let us talk of him; he is
not worth it.

[Footnote 1: Cardinal York was the younger brother of Charles Edward. He
lived in Italy; and, after the death of his brother, assumed the title
of King of England as Henry IX. After the confiscation of the greater
part of the Papal revenues by Napoleon, his chief means of livelihood
was a pension of £4,000 a year allowed him by George IV. out of his
private purse.]

I am so sorry for the death of Lady Hillsborough, as I suppose Mr.
Skreene is glad of his consort's departure. She was a common creature,
bestowed on the public by Lord Sandwich. Lady Hillsborough had sense and
merit, and is a great loss to her family. By letters hither, we hear
miserable accounts of poor Sir James Macdonald; pray let him know that I
have written to him, and how much I am concerned for his situation.

This Court is plunged into another deep mourning for the death of old
Stanislaus,[1] who fell into the fire; it caught his night-gown and
burnt him terribly before he got assistance. His subjects are in
despair, for he was a model of goodness and humanity; uniting or rather
creating, generosity from economy. The Poles had not the sense to
re-elect him, after his virtues were proved, they who had chosen him
before they knew him. I am told such was the old man's affection for his
country, and persuasion that he ought to do all the good he could, that
he would have gone to Poland if they had offered him the crown. He has
left six hundred thousand livres, and a _rente viagere_ of forty
thousand crowns to the Queen, saved from the sale of his Polish estates,
from his pension of two millions, and from his own liberality. His
buildings, his employment of the poor, his magnificence, and his
economy, were constant topics of admiration. Not only the court-tables
were regularly and nobly served, but he treated, and defrayed his old
enemy's grand-daughter, the Princess Christina, on her journey hither to
see her sister the Dauphiness. When mesdames his grand-daughters made
him an unexpected visit, he was so disturbed for fear it should derange
his finances, which he thought were not in advance, that he shut himself
up for an hour with his treasurer, to find resources; was charmed to
know he should not run in debt, and entertained them magnificently. His
end was calm and gay, like his life, though he suffered terribly, and he
said so extraordinary a life could not finish in a common way. To a lady
who had set her ruffle on fire, and scorched her arm about the same
time, he said, "Madame, nous brulons du même feu." The poor Queen had
sent him the very night-gown that occasioned his death: he wrote to her,
"C'étoit pour me tenir chaud, mais il m'a tenu trop chaud."

[Footnote 1: Stanislaus Leczinski was the father of the queen of Louis
XV. On the conclusion of peace between France and the Empire it was
arranged that the Duke of Lorraine should exchange that duchy for
Tuscany, and that Lorraine should be allotted to Stanislaus, with a
reversion to his daughter and to France after his death.]

Yesterday we had the funeral oration on the Dauphin; and are soon to
have one on Stanislaus. It is a noble subject; but if I had leisure, I
would compose a grand funeral oration on the number of princes dead
within these six months. What fine pictures, contrasts, and comparisons
they would furnish! The Duke of Parma and the King of Denmark reigning
virtuously with absolute power! The Emperor at the head of Europe, and
encompassed with mimic Roman eagles, tied to the apron-strings, of a
bigoted and jealous virago. The Dauphin cultivating virtues under the
shade of so bright a crown, and shining only at the moment that he was
snatched from the prospect of empire. The old Pretender wasting away in
obscurity and misfortune, after surviving the Duke of Cumberland, who
had given the last blow to the hopes of his family; and Stanislaus
perishing by an accident,--he who had swam over the billows raised by
Peter the Great and Charles XII., and reigning, while his successor and
second of his name was reigning on his throne. It is not taking from the
funereal part to add, that when so many good princes die, the Czarina is
still living!

The public again thinks itself on the eve of a war, by the recall of
Stahremberg, the Imperial Minister. It seems at least to destroy the
expectation of a match between the youngest Archduchess and the Dauphin,
which it was thought Stahremberg remained here to bring about. I like
your Great Duke for feeling the loss of his Minister. It is seldom that
a young sovereign misses a governor before he tastes the fruits of his
own incapacity.

_March_ 1_st_.

We have got more letters from England, where the Ministers are still
triumphant. They had a majority of 108 on the day that it was voted to
bring in a bill to repeal the Stamp Act. George Grenville's ignorance
and blunders were displayed to his face and to the whole world; he was
hissed through the Court of Requests, where Mr. Conway was huzza'd. It
went still farther for Mr. Pitt, whom the mob accompanied home with "Io
Pitts!" This is new for an opposition to be so unpopular. Adieu!



PARIS, _April_ 8, 1766.

I sent you a few lines by the post yesterday with the first accounts of
the insurrections at Madrid.[1] I have since seen Stahremberg, the
imperial minister,[2] who has had a courier from thence; and if Lord
Rochford has not sent one, you will not be sorry to know more
particulars. The mob disarmed the Invalids; stopped all coaches, to
prevent Squillaci's[3] flight; and meeting the Duke de Medina Celi,
forced him and the Duke d'Arcos to carry their demands to the King. His
most frightened Majesty granted them directly; on which his highness the
people despatched a monk with their demands in writing, couched in four
articles: the diminution of the gabel on bread and oil; the revocation
of the ordonnance on hats and cloaks; the banishment of Squillaci; and
the abolition of some other tax, I don't know what. The King signed
all; yet was still forced to appear in a balcony, and promise to observe
what he had granted. Squillaci was sent with an escort to Carthagena, to
embark for Naples, and the first commissioner of the treasury appointed
to succeed him; which does not look much like observation of the
conditions. Some say Ensenada is recalled, and that Grimaldi is in no
good odour with the people. If the latter and Squillaci are dismissed,
we get rid of two enemies.

[Footnote 1: The Spanish Government had taken on itself to regulate
dress, and to introduce French fashions into Madrid--an innovation so
offensive to Spanish pride, that it gave rise to a formidable
insurrection, of which the populace took advantage to demand the removal
of some obnoxious taxes.]

[Footnote 2: Prince Stahremberg was the imperial ambassador at Madrid.]

[Footnote 3: Signor Squillaci, an Italian, was the Spanish Prime

The tumult ceased on the grant of the demands; but the King retiring
that night to Aranjuez, the insurrection was renewed the next morning,
on pretence that this flight was a breach of the capitulation. The
people seized the gates of the capital, and permitted nobody to go out.
In this state were things when the courier came away. The ordonnance
against going in disguise looks as if some suspicions had been
conceived; and yet their confidence was so great as not to have two
thousand guards in the town. The pitiful behaviour of the Court makes
one think that the Italians were frightened, and that the Spanish part
of the ministry were not sorry it took that turn. As I suppose there is
no great city in Spain which has not at least a bigger bundle of
grievances than the capital, one shall not wonder if the pusillanimous
behaviour of the King encourages them to redress themselves too.

There is what is called a change of the ministry here; but it is only a
crossing over and figuring in. The Duc de Praslin has wished to retire
for some time; and for this last fortnight there has been much talk of
his being replaced by the Duc d'Aiguillon, the Duc de Nivernois, &c.;
but it is plain, though not believed till _now_, that the Duc de
Choiseul is all-powerful. To purchase the stay of his cousin Praslin, on
whom he can depend, and to leave no cranny open, he has ceded the marine
and colonies to the Duc de Praslin, and taken the foreign and military
department himself. His cousin is, besides, named _chef du conseil des
finances_; a very honourable, very dignified, and very idle place, and
never filled since the Duc de Bethune had it. Praslin's hopeful cub, the
Viscount, whom you saw in England last year, goes to Naples; and the
Marquis de Durfort to Vienna--a cold, dry, proud man, with the figure
and manner of Lord Cornbury.

Great matters are expected to-day from the Parliament, which
re-assembles. A _mousquetaire_, his piece loaded with a _lettre de
cachet_, went about a fortnight ago to the notary who keeps the
parliamentary registers, and demanded them. They were refused--but given
up, on the _lettre de cachet_ being produced. The Parliament intends to
try the notary for breach of trust, which I suppose will make his
fortune; though he has not the merit of perjury, like Carteret Webb.

There have been insurrections at Bourdeaux and Toulouse on the militia,
and twenty-seven persons were killed at the latter; but both are
appeased. These things are so much in vogue, that I wonder the French do
not dress _à la révolte_. The Queen is in a very dangerous way. This
will be my last letter; but I am not sure I shall set out before the
middle of next week. Yours ever.



STRAWBERRY HILL, _June_ 20, 1766.

I don't know when I shall see you, but therefore must not I write to
you? yet I have as little to say as may be. I could cry through a whole
page over the bad weather. I have but a lock of hay, you know, and I
cannot get it dry, unless I bring it to the fire. I would give
half-a-crown for a pennyworth of sun. It is abominable to be ruined in
coals in the middle of June.

What pleasure have you to come! there is a new thing published, that
will make you burst your cheeks with laughing. It is called the "New
Bath Guide."[1] It stole into the world, and for a fortnight no soul
looked into it, concluding its name was its true name. No such thing. It
is a set of letters in verse, in all kind of verses, describing the life
at Bath, and incidentally everything else; but so much wit, so much
humour, fun, and poetry, so much originality, never met together before.
Then the man has a better ear than Dryden or Handel. _Apropos_ to
Dryden, he has burlesqued his St. Cecilia, that you will never read it
again without laughing. There is a description of a milliner's box in
all the terms of landscape, _painted lawns and chequered shades_, a
Moravian ode, and a Methodist ditty, that are incomparable, and the best
names that ever were composed. I can say it by heart, though a quarto,
and if I had time would write it you down; for it is not yet reprinted,
and not one to be had.

[Footnote 1: By Christopher Anstey. "Have you read the 'New Bath Guide'?
It is the only thing in fashion, and is a new and original kind of
humour. Miss Prue's conversation I doubt you will paste down, as Sir W.
St. Quintyn did before he carried it to his daughter; yet I remember you
all read 'Crazy Tales' without pasting" (_Gray to Wharton.--Works by
Mitford_, vol. iv. p. 84).]

There are two new volumes, too, of Swift's Correspondence, that will not
amuse you less in another way, though abominable, for there are letters
of twenty persons now alive; fifty of Lady Betty Germain, one that does
her great honour, in which she defends her friend my Lady Suffolk, with
all the spirit in the world,[1] against that brute, who hated everybody
that he hoped would get him a mitre, and did not. There is one to his
Miss Vanhomrigh, from which I think it plain he lay with her,
notwithstanding his supposed incapacity, yet not doing much honour to
that capacity, for he says he can drink coffee but once a week, and I
think you will see very clearly what he means by coffee. His own journal
sent to Stella during the four last years of the Queen, is a fund of
entertainment. You will see his insolence in full colours, and, at the
same time, how daily vain he was of being noticed by the Ministers he
affected to treat arrogantly. His panic at the Mohocks is comical; but
what strikes one, is bringing before one's eyes the incidents of a
curious period. He goes to the rehearsal of "Cato," and says the _drab_
that acted Cato's daughter could not say her part. This was only Mrs.
Oldfield. I was saying before George Selwyn, that this journal put me in
mind of the present time, there was the same indecision, irresolution,
and want of system; but I added, "There is nothing new under the sun."
"No," said Selwyn, "nor under the grandson."

[Footnote 1: The letter dated Feb. 8, 1732-3.]

My Lord Chesterfield has done me much honour: he told Mrs. Anne Pitt
that he would subscribe to any politics I should lay down. When she
repeated this to me, I said, "Pray tell him I have laid down politics."

I am got into puns, and will tell you an excellent one of the King of
France, though it does not spell any better than Selwyn's. You must have
heard of Count Lauragais, and his horse-race, and his quacking his horse
till he killed it.[1] At his return the King asked him what he had been
doing in England? "Sire, j'ai appris à penser"--"Des chevaux?"[2]
replied the King. Good night! I am tired and going to bed. Yours ever.

[Footnote 1: In a previous letter Walpole mentioned that the Count and
the English Lord Forbes had had a race, which the Count lost; and that,
as his horse died the following night, surgeons were employed to open
the body, and they declared he had been poisoned. "The English," says
Walpole, "suspect that a groom, who, I suppose, had been reading Livy or
Demosthenes, poisoned it on patriotic principles to secure victory to
his country. The French, on the contrary, think poison as common as oats
or beans in the stables at Newmarket. In short, there is no impertinence
which they have not uttered; and it has gone so far that two nights ago
it was said that the King had forbidden another race which was appointed
for Monday between the Prince de Nassau and a Mr. Forth, to prevent
national animosities."]

[Footnote 2: Louis pretending to think he had said _pansen_.]



BATH, _Oct._ 10, 1766.

I am impatient to hear that your charity to me has not ended in the gout
to yourself--all my comfort is, if you have it, that you have good Lady
Brown to nurse you.[1]

[Footnote 1: In a letter of the preceding week he mentions having gone
to Bath to drink the waters there, but "is disappointed in the city.
Their new buildings, that are so admired, look like a collection of
little hospitals. The rest is detestable, and all crammed together, and
surrounded with perpendicular hills that have no beauty. The river [the
Avon] is paltry enough to be the Seine or the Tiber. Oh! how unlike my
lovely Thames!"]

My health advances faster than my amusement. However, I have been to one
opera, Mr. Wesley's. They have boys and girls with charming voices, that
sing hymns, in parts, to Scotch ballad tunes; but indeed so long, that
one would think they were already in eternity, and knew how much time
they had before them. The chapel is very neat, with true Gothic windows
(yet I am not converted); but I was glad to see that luxury is creeping
in upon them before persecution: they have very neat mahogany stands for
branches, and brackets of the same in taste. At the upper end is a broad
_hautpas_ of four steps, advancing in the middle: at each end of the
broadest part are two of _my_ eagles, with red cushions for the parson
and clerk. Behind them rise three more steps, in the midst of which is a
third eagle for pulpit. Scarlet armed chairs to all three. On either
hand, a balcony for elect ladies. The rest of the congregation sit on
forms. Behind the pit, in a dark niche, is a plain table within rails;
so you see the throne is for the apostle. Wesley is a lean elderly man,
fresh-coloured, his hair smoothly combed, but with a _soupçon_ of curl
at the ends. Wondrous clean, but as evidently an actor as Garrick. He
spoke his sermon, but so fast, and with so little accent, that I am sure
he has often uttered it, for it was like a lesson. There were parts and
eloquence in it; but towards the end he exalted his voice, and acted
very ugly enthusiasm; decried learning, and told stories, like Latimer,
of the fool of his college, who said, "I _thanks_ God for everything."
Except a few from curiosity, and _some honourable women_, the
congregation was very mean. There was a Scotch Countess of Buchan, who
is carrying a pure rosy vulgar face to heaven, and who asked Miss Rich,
if that was _the author of the poets_. I believe she meant me and the
"Noble Authors."

The Bedfords came last night. Lord Chatham was with me yesterday two
hours; looks and walks well, and is in excellent political spirits.



STRAWBERRY HILL, _July_ 20, 1767.

You have heard enough, even in the late reign, of our
_interministeriums_, not to be surprised that the present lasts so
long. I am not writing now to tell you it is at an end; but I thought
you might grow impatient.

The Parliament was scarcely separated when a negotiation was begun with
the Bedfords, through Lord Gower; with a view to strengthen the remains
of Administration by that faction,[1] but with no intention of including
George Grenville, who is more hated at Court than he is even in other
places. After some treaty, Lord Gower, much against his will, I believe,
was forced to bring word, that there was no objection made by his
friends to the Treasury remaining in the Duke of Grafton; that Grenville
would support without a place; but Lord Temple (who the deuce thought of
Lord Temple?) insisted on equal power, as he had demanded with Lord
Chatham. There was no end of that treaty! Another was then begun with
Lord Rockingham. He pleaded want of strength in his party, and he might
have pleaded almost every other want--and asked if he might talk to the
Bedfords. Yes! he might talk to whom he pleased, but the King insisted
on keeping the Chancellor, "and me," said the Duke of Grafton; but
added, that for himself, he was very willing to cede the Treasury to his
Lordship. Away goes the Marquis to Woburn; and, to charm the King more,
negotiates with both Grenvilles too. These last, who had demanded
everything of the Crown, were all submission to the Marquis, and yet
could not dupe him so fast as he tried to be duped. Oh! all, all were
ready to stay out, or turn their friends in, or what he pleased. He took
this for his own talents in negotiation, came back highly pleased, and
notified his success. The Duke of Grafton wrote to him that the King
meant they should come in, _to extend and strengthen his
Administration_. Too elated with his imaginary power, the Marquis
returned an answer, insolently civil to the Duke, and not commonly
decent for the place it was to be carried to. It said, that his Lordship
had laid it down for a principle of the treaty, that the present
Administration was at an end. That supposed, _he_ was ready to _form_ a
comprehensive Ministry, but first must talk to the King.

[Footnote 1: The difficulties were caused by Lord Chatham's illness. He,
though Prime Minister, only held the office of Lord Privy Seal, the Duke
of Grafton being First Lord of the Treasury; consequently, when Lord
Chatham became incapable of transacting any business whatever, even of
signing a resignation of his office, the Duke became the Prime Minister,
and continued so for three years.]

Instead of such an answer as such a _remonstrance_ deserved, a very
prudent reply was made. The King approved the idea of a comprehensive
Administration: he desired to unite the hearts of _all_ his subjects: he
meant to exclude men of no denomination attached to his person and
government; it was such a Ministry that _he_ intended to _appoint_. When
his Lordship should have _formed a plan_ on such views, his Majesty
would be ready to receive it from him. The great statesman was wofully
puzzled on receiving this message. However, he has summoned his new
allies to assist in composing a scheme or list. When they bring it, how
they will bring it formed, or whether they will ever bring it, the Lord
knows. There the matter rests at present. If the Marquis does not alter
his tone, he sinks for ever, and from being the head of a separate band,
he must fall into the train of Grenville, the man whom he and his
friends opposed on all the arbitrary acts of that Ministry, and whom
they have irremissibly offended by repealing his darling Stamp Act.
_Apropos_, America is pacified, and the two factions cannot join to fish
in troubled waters, there, at least.

Lord Clive[1] is arrived, has brought a million for himself, two diamond
drops worth twelve thousand pounds for the Queen, a scimitar dagger, and
other matters, covered with brilliants, for the King, and worth
twenty-four thousand more. These _baubles_ are presents from the deposed
and imprisoned Mogul, whose poverty can still afford to give such
bribes. Lord Clive refused some overplus, and gave it to some widows of
officers: it amounted to ninety thousand pounds. He has _reduced_ the
appointments of the Governor of Bengal to thirty-two thousand pounds a
year; and, what is better, has left such a chain of forts and
distribution of troops as will entirely secure possession of the
country--till we lose it. Thus having composed the Eastern and Western
worlds, we are at leisure to kick and cuff for our own little island,
which is great satisfaction; and I don't doubt but my Lord Temple hopes
that we shall be so far engaged before France and Spain are ripe to
meddle with us, that when they do come, they will not be able to
re-unite us.

[Footnote 1: It is hardly necessary to point out that this is the taker
of Arcot, the victor of Plassey, and even now second to none but Warren
Hastings in the splendid roll of Governors-General.]

Don't let me forget to tell you, that of all the friends you have shot
flying, there is no one whose friendship for you is so little dead as
Lord Hillsborough's. He spoke to me earnestly about your Riband the
other day, and said he had pressed to have it given to you. Write and
thank him. You have missed one by Lord Clive's returning alive, unless
he should give a hamper of diamonds for the Garter.

Well! I have remembered every point but one--and see how he is
forgotten! Lord Chatham! He was pressed to come forth and set the
Administration on its legs again. He pleaded total incapacity; grew
worse and grows better. Oh! how he ought to dread recovering!

Mr. Conway resigns the day after to-morrow. I hope in a week to tell you
something more positive than the uncertainties in this letter.



PARIS, _Sept._ 27, 1767.

Since you insist on my writing from hence, I will; I intended to defer
it a few days longer, as I shall set out on my return this day

Within the five weeks of my being here, there have happened three
deaths, which certainly nobody expected six weeks ago. Yet, though the
persons were all considerable, their loss will make little impression on
the state of any affairs.

Monsieur de Guerchy returned from his embassy with us about a month
before my arrival. He had been out of order some time, and had taken
waters, yet seeing him so often I had perceived no change, till I was
made to remark it, and then I did not think it considerable. On my
arrival, I was shocked at the precipitate alteration. He was emaciated,
yellow, and scarcely able to support himself. A fever came on in ten
days, mortification ensued, and carried him off. It is said that he had
concealed and tampered indiscreetly with an old complaint, acquired
before his marriage. This was his radical death; I doubt, vexation and
disappointment fermented the wound. Instead of the duchy he hoped, his
reception was freezing. He was a frank, gallant gentleman; universally
beloved with us; hated I believe by nobody, and by no means inferior in
understanding to many who affected to despise his abilities.

But our comet is set too! Charles Townshend[1] is dead. All those parts
and fire are extinguished; those volatile salts are evaporated; that
first eloquence of the world is dumb! that duplicity is fixed, that
cowardice terminated heroically. He joked on death as naturally as he
used to do on the living, and not with the affectation of philosophers,
who wind up their works with sayings which they hope to have remembered.
With a robust person he had always a menacing constitution. He had had a
fever the whole summer, recovered as it was thought, relapsed, was
neglected, and it turned to an incurable putrid fever.

[Footnote 1: Mr. Townshend was Chancellor of the Exchequer; and he
might have been added by Lord Macaulay to his list of men whom their
eloquence had caused to be placed in offices for which they were totally
unfit; for he had not only no special knowledge of finance, but he was
one of the most careless and incautious of mankind, even in his oratory.
In that, however, after the retirement of Lord Chatham, he seems to have
had no rival in either house but Mr. Burke. It was to his heedless
resumption of Grenville's plan of taxing our colonies in North America
that our loss of them was owing. In his "Memoirs of the Reign of George
III." Walpole gives the following description of him: "Charles
Townshend, who had studied nothing with accuracy or attention, had parts
that embraced all knowledge with such quickness that he seemed to create
knowledge, instead of searching for it; and, ready as Burke's wit was,
it appeared artificial when set by that of Townshend, which was so
abundant that in him it seemed a loss of time to think. He had but to
speak, and all he said was new, natural, and yet uncommon. If Burke
replied extempore, his very answers that sprang from what had been said
by others were so pointed and artfully arranged that they wore the
appearance of study and preparation; like beautiful translations, they
seemed to want the soul of the original author. Townshend's speeches,
like the 'Satires' of Pope, had a thousand times more sense and meaning
than the majestic blank verse of Pitt; and yet the latter, like Milton,
stalked with a conscious dignity of pre-eminence, and fascinated his
audience with that respect which always attends the pompous but often
hollow idea of the sublime." Burke, too, in one of his speeches on
American affairs, utters a still warmer panegyric on his character and
abilities, while lamenting his policy and its fruits: "I speak of
Charles Townshend, officially the reproducer of this fatal scheme [the
taxation of the colonies], whom I cannot, even now, remember without
some degree of sensibility. In truth, Sir, he was the delight and
ornament of this House, and the charm of every private society which he
honoured with his presence. Perhaps there never arose in this country,
nor in any country, a man of a more pointed and finished wit, and (where
his passions were not concerned) of a more refined, exquisite, and
penetrating judgment. If he had not so great a stock, as some have had
who flourished formerly, of knowledge long treasured up, he knew better
by far than any man I was ever acquainted with how to bring together
within a short time all that was necessary to establish, to illustrate,
and to decorate that side of the question he supported. He stated his
matter skillfully and powerfully. He particularly excelled in a most
luminous explanation and display of his subject. His style of argument
was neither trite nor vulgar, nor subtle and abstruse. He hit the House
between wind and water; and, not being troubled with too anxious a zeal
for any matter in question, he was never more tedious nor more earnest
than the preconceived opinions and present temper of his hearers
required, with whom he was always in perfect unison. He conformed
exactly to the temper of the House; and he seemed to lead because he was
always sure to follow it."]

The Opposition expected that the loss of this essential pin would loosen
the whole frame; but it had been hard, if both his life and death were
to be pernicious to the Administration. He had engaged to betray the
latter to the former, as I knew early, and as Lord Mansfield has since
declared. I therefore could not think the loss of him a misfortune. His
seals were immediately offered to Lord North,[1] who declined them. The
Opposition rejoiced; but they ought to have been better acquainted with
one educated in their own school. Lord North has since accepted the
seals--and the reversion of his father's pension.

[Footnote 1: Lord North succeeded Townshend as Chancellor of the
Exchequer; and, when the Duke of Grafton retired, he became First Lord
of the Treasury also, and continued to hold both offices till the spring
of 1782.]

While that eccentric genius, Charles Townshend, whom no system could
contain, is whirled out of existence, our more artificial meteor, Lord
Chatham, seems to be wheeling back to the sphere of business--at least
his health is declared to be re-established; but he has lost his
adorers, the mob, and I doubt the wise men will not travel after his

You, my dear Sir, will be most concerned for the poor Duke of York,[1]
who has ended his silly, good-humoured, troublesome career, in a piteous
manner. He had come to the camp at Compiègne, without his brother's
approbation, but had been received here not only with every proper mark
of distinction, but with the utmost kindness. He had succeeded, too, was
attentive, civil, obliging, lively, pleased, and very happy in his
replies. Charmed with a Court so lively in comparison of the monastic
scene at home, he had promised to return for Fontainebleau, and then
scampered away as fast as he could ride or drive all round the South of
France, intending to visit a lady at Genoa, with whom he was in love,
whenever he had a minute's time. The Duc de Villars gave him a ball at
his country-house, between Aix and Marseilles; the Duke of York danced
at it all night as hard as if it made part of his road, and then in a
violent sweat, and without changing his linen, got into his postchaise.
At Marseilles the scene changed. He arrived in a fever, and found among
his letters, which he had ordered to meet him there, one from the King
his brother, forbidding him to go to Compiègne, by the advice of the
Hereditary Prince. He was struck with this letter, which he had
ignorantly disobeyed, and by the same ignorance had not answered. He
proceeded, however, on his journey, but grew so ill that his gentlemen
carried him to Monaco, where he arrived on the third, and languished
with great suffering until the seventeenth. He behaved with the most
perfect tranquillity and courage, made a short will, and the day before
he died dictated to Colonel St. John, a letter to the King, in which he
begged his forgiveness for every instance in which he had offended him,
and entreated his favour to his servants. He would have particularly
recommended St. John, but the young man said handsomely, "Sir, if the
letter were written by your Royal Highness yourself, it would be most
kind to me; but I cannot name myself." The Prince of Monaco, who
happened to be on the spot, was unbounded in his attentions to him, both
of care and honours; and visited him every hour till the Duke grew too
weak to see him. Two days before he died the Duke sent for the Prince,
and thanked him. The Prince burst into tears and could not speak, and
retiring, begged the Duke's officers to prevent his being sent for
again, for the shock was too great. They made as magnificent a coffin
and pall for him as the time and place would admit, and in the evening
of the 17th the body was embarked on board an English ship, which
received the corpse with military honours, the cannon of the town
saluting it with the same discharge as is paid to a Marshal of France.
St. John and Morrison embarked with the body, and Colonel Wrottesley
passed through here with the news. The poor lad was in tears the whole
time he stayed....

[Footnote 1: The Duke of York was the King's younger brother.]

You tell me of the French playing at whist;[1] why, I found it
established when I was last here. I told them they were very good to
imitate us in anything, but that they had adopted the two dullest things
we have, Whist and Richardson's Novels.

[Footnote 1: Walpole here speaks of whist as a game of but new
introduction in Paris, though it had been for some time established with
us. And the great authority on that scientific and beautiful game, the
late Mr. James Clay, writing about twenty years ago, fixes "thirty or
more years" before that date as the time when first "we began to hear of
the great Paris players. There was," he says, "a wide difference between
their system and our own," the special distinction being that "the
English player of the old school never thought of winning the game until
he saw that it was saved; the French player never thought of saving the
game until he saw that he could not win it;" and "if forced to take his
choice between these systems carried to their extremes." Mr. Clay
"would, without hesitation, prefer the game of rash attack" (that is,
the French system) "to that of over-cautious defence." And he assigns to
a French player, M. Des Chapelles, "the credit of being the finest
whist-player, beyond any comparison, the world has ever seen."]

So you and the Pope are going to have the Emperor! Times are a little
altered; no Guelphs and Ghibellines[1] now. I do not think the Caesar of
the day will hold his Holiness's stirrup[2] while he mounts his palfrey.

[Footnote 1: "_Guelfs and Ghibellines._" These two names were first
heard in the latter part of the twelfth century, to distinguish the
partisans of the Emperor and the Pope. "The Guelfs or Welfs were the
ancestors of Henry the Proud, who, through his mother, represented the
ancient Dukes of Saxony. The word Ghibelin is derived from Wibelung, a
town in Franconia, from which the emperors of that time are said to nave
sprung. The house of Swabia were considered in Germany as representing
that of Franconia" (Hallam, "Middle Ages," ii. p. 101).]

[Footnote 2: "_His Holiness's stirrup._" This refers to the humiliation
imposed on the Emperor Frederic Barbarossa by Pope Alexander III., as
related by Byron in his note on "Childe Harold," c. iv. st. 12.]



ARLINGTON STREET, _Feb._ 18, 1768.

You have sent me a long and very obliging letter, and yet I am extremely
out of humour with you. I saw _Poems_ by _Mr. Gray_ advertised: I called
directly at Dodsley's to know if this was to be more than a new edition?
He was not at home himself, but his foreman told me he thought there
were some new pieces, and notes to the whole. It was very unkind, not
only to go out of town without mentioning them to me, without showing
them to me, but not to say a word of them in this letter. Do you think I
am indifferent, or not curious about what you write? I have ceased to
ask you, because you have so long refused to show me anything. You could
not suppose I thought that you never write. No; but I concluded you did
not intend, at least yet, to publish what you had written. As you did
intend it, I might have expected a month's preference. You will do me
the justice to own that I had always rather have seen your writings than
have shown you mine; which you know are the most hasty trifles in the
world, and which though I may be fond of the subject when fresh, I
constantly forget in a very short time after they are published. This
would sound like affectation to others, but will not to you. It would be
affected, even to you, to say I am indifferent to fame. I certainly am
not, but I am indifferent to almost anything I have done to acquire it.
The greater part are mere compilations; and no wonder they are, as you
say, incorrect, when they are commonly written with people in the room,
as "Richard"[1] and the "Noble Authors" were. But I doubt there is a
more intrinsic fault in them: which is, that I cannot correct them. If I
write tolerably, it must be at once; I can neither mend nor add. The
articles of Lord Capel and Lord Peterborough, in the second edition of
the "Noble Authors," cost me more trouble than all the rest together:
and you may perceive that the worst part of "Richard," in point of ease
and style, is what relates to the papers you gave me on Jane Shore,
because it was tacked on so long afterwards, and when my impetus was
chilled. If some time or other you will take the trouble of pointing out
the inaccuracies of it, I shall be much obliged to you: at present I
shall meddle no more with it. It has taken its fate: nor did I mean to
complain. I found it was condemned indeed beforehand, which was what I
alluded to. Since publication (as has happened to me before) the success
has gone beyond my expectation.

[Footnote 1: He is here alluding to his own very clever essay, entitled
"Historic Doubts on the Life and Reign of Richard III." It failed to
convince Hume; but can hardly be denied to be a singularly acute
specimen of historical criticism. It does not, indeed, prove Richard to
have been innocent of all the crimes imputed to him; but it proves
conclusively that much of the evidence by which the various charges are
supported is false. In an earlier letter he mentions having first made
"a discovery, one of the most marvellous ever made. In short, it is the
original Coronation Roll of Richard, by which it appears that very
magnificent robes were ordered for Edward V., and that he did or was to
walk at his uncle's coronation." The letter, from which this passage is
an extract, was to a certain extent an answer to one from Gray, who,
while praising the ingenuity of his arguments, avowed himself still
unconvinced by them.]

Not only at Cambridge, but here, there have been people wise enough to
think me too free with the King of Prussia! A newspaper has talked of my
known inveteracy to him. Truly, I love him as well as I do most kings.
The greater offence is my reflection on Lord Clarendon. It is forgotten
that I had overpraised him before. Pray turn to the new State Papers,
from which, _it is said_, he composed his history. You will find they
are the papers from which he did _not_ compose his history. And yet I
admire my Lord Clarendon more than these pretended admirers do. But I do
not intend to justify myself. I can as little satisfy those who complain
that I do not let them know what _really did_ happen. If this inquiry
can ferret out any truth, I shall be glad. I have picked up a few more
circumstances. I now want to know what Perkin Warbeck's Proclamation
was, which Speed in his history says is preserved by Bishop Leslie. If
you look in Speed perhaps you will be able to assist me.

The Duke of Richmond and Lord Lyttelton agree with you, that I have not
disculpated Richard of the murder of Henry VI. I own to you, it is the
crime of which in my own mind I believe him most guiltless. Had I
thought he committed it, I should never have taken the trouble to
apologize for the rest. I am not at all positive or obstinate on your
other objections, nor know exactly what I believe on many points of this
story. And I am so sincere, that, except a few notes hereafter, I shall
leave the matter to be settled or discussed by others. As you have
written much too little, I have written a great deal too much, and think
only of finishing the two or three other things I have begun--and of
those, nothing but the last volume of Painters is designed for the
present public. What has one to do when turned fifty, but really think
of _finishing_?

I am much obliged and flattered by Mr. Mason's approbation, and
particularly by having had almost the same thought with him. I said,
"People need not be angry at my excusing Richard; I have not diminished
their fund of hatred, I have only transferred it from Richard to Henry."
Well, but I have found you close with Mason--No doubt, cry prating I,
something will come out....[1]

[Footnote 1: "_Something will come out._" Walpole himself points out in
a note that this is a quotation from Pope: "I have found him close with
Swift." "Indeed?" "No doubt, (Cries prating Balbus) something will come
out" (Prologue to the "Satires").]

Pray read the new Account of Corsica.[1] What relates to Paoli will
amuse you much. There is a deal about the island and its divisions that
one does not care a straw for. The author, Boswell, is a strange being,
and, like Cambridge, has a rage of knowing anybody that ever was talked
of. He forced himself upon me at Paris in spite of my teeth and my
doors, and I see has given a foolish account of all he could pick up
from me about King Theodore.[2] He then took an antipathy to me on
Rousseau's account, abused me in the newspapers, and exhorted Rousseau
to do so too: but as he came to see me no more, I forgave all the rest.
I see he now is a little sick of Rousseau himself; but I hope it will
not cure him of his anger to me. However, his book will I am sure
entertain you.

[Footnote 1: Boswell, Dr. Johnson's celebrated biographer, had taken
great interest in the affairs of Corsica, which, in this year (1768),
Choiseul, the Prime Minister of France, had bought of Genoa, to which
State it had long belonged. Paoli was a Corsican noble, who had roused
his countrymen to throw off the domination of Genoa; and, on the arrival
of French troops to take possession of their purchase, he made a
vigorous resistance to the French General, the Comte de Marboeuf; but
eventually he was overpowered, and forced to fly. He took refuge in
England, where George III. granted him a pension, which he enjoyed till
his death in 1807, when he was buried in Westminster Abbey. One of his
relations was M. Charles Buonaparte, the father of Napoleon, who was
only prevented from accompanying him in his abandonment of Corsica by
the persuasion of his uncle, the Archdeacon of Ajaccio. Boswell, who was
apt to be enthusiastic in his hero-worship and anxiety for new
acquaintances (whom, it must be admitted, he commonly chose with
judgement, if with little dignity), introduced him to Johnson, who also
conceived a high regard for him, and on one occasion remarked that "he
had the loftiest port of any man he had ever seen."]

[Footnote 2: After several outbreaks within a few years, the Corsicans
in 1736 embarked in a revolt so formal and complete that they
altogether threw off their allegiance to Genoa, and chose as their king
Theodore Neuhof, a Westphalian baron. But Cardinal Fleury, the French
Prime Minister, from a belief that Theodore was an instrument of
Walpole, lent the Genoese a force of three thousand men, which at last
succeeded in crushing the insurrection and expelling Theodore. (See the
Editor's "France under the Bourbons," iii. 157.) Theodore is one of the
six ex-kings whom, in Voltaire's "Candide," his hero met at a hotel in
Venice during the carnival, when he gave a melancholy account of his
reverse of fortune. "He had been called 'Your Majesty;' now he can
hardly find any one to call him 'Sir.' He had coined money; now he has
not a penny of his own. He had had two Secretaries of State; now he has
but one valet. He had sat on a throne; but since that time he had laid
on straw in a London prison." In fact, his state was so doleful, that
the other ex-kings subscribed twenty sequins apiece to buy him some
coats and shirts ("Candide," c. 26).]

I will add but a word or two more. I am criticised for the expression
_tinker up_ in the preface. Is this one of those that you object to? I
own I think such a low expression, placed to ridicule an absurd instance
of wise folly, very forcible. Replace it with an elevated word or
phrase, and to my conception it becomes as flat as possible.

George Selwyn says I may, if I please, write Historic Doubts on the
present Duke of G[loucester] too. Indeed, they would be doubts, for I
know nothing certainly.

Will you be so kind as to look into Leslie "De Rebus Scotorum," and see
if Perkin's Proclamation is there, and if there, how authenticated. You
will find in Speed my reason for asking this. I have written in such a
hurry, I believe you will scarce be able to read my letter--and as I
have just been writing French, perhaps the sense may not be clearer than
the writing. Adieu!



ARLINGTON STREET, _Thursday, March_ 31, 1768.

I have received your letter, with the extract of that from Mr.
Mackenzie. I do not think any honours will be bestowed yet. The Peerages
are all postponed to an indefinite time. If you are in a violent hurry,
you may petition the ghosts of your neighbours--Masaniello and the
Gracchi. The spirit of one of them walks here; nay, I saw it go by my
window yesterday, at noon, in a hackney chair.


I was interrupted yesterday. The ghost is laid for a time in a red sea
of port and claret. The spectre is the famous Wilkes. He appeared the
moment the Parliament was dissolved. The Ministry despise him. He stood
for the City of London, and was the last on the poll of seven
candidates, none but the mob, and most of them without votes, favouring
him. He then offered himself to the county of Middlesex. The election
came on last Monday. By five in the morning a very large body of
Weavers, &c., took possession of Piccadilly, and the roads and turnpikes
leading to Brentford, and would suffer nobody to pass without blue
cockades, and papers inscribed "_No. 45, Wilkes and Liberty_." They tore
to pieces the coaches of Sir W. Beauchamp Proctor, and Mr. Cooke, the
other candidates, though the latter was not there, but in bed with the
gout, and it was with difficulty that Sir William and Mr. Cooke's cousin
got to Brentford. There, however, lest it should be declared a void
election, Wilkes had the sense to keep everything quiet. But, about
five, Wilkes, being considerably ahead of the other two, his mob
returned to town and behaved outrageously. They stopped every carriage,
scratched and spoilt several with writing all over them "No. 45,"
pelted, threw dirt and stones, and forced everybody to huzza for Wilkes.
I did but cross Piccadilly at eight, in my coach with a French Monsieur
d'Angeul, whom I was carrying to Lady Hertford's; they stopped us, and
bid us huzza. I desired him to let down the glass on his side, but, as
he was not alert, they broke it to shatters. At night they insisted, in
several streets, on houses being illuminated, and several Scotch
refusing, had their windows broken. Another mob rose in the City, and
Harley, the present Mayor, being another Sir William Walworth, and
having acted formerly and now with great spirit against Wilkes, and the
Mansion House not being illuminated, and he out of town, they broke
every window, and tried to force their way into the House. The Trained
Bands were sent for, but did not suffice. At last a party of guards,
from the Tower, and some lights erected, dispersed the tumult. At one in
the morning a riot began before Lord Bute's house, in Audley Street,
though illuminated. They flung two large flints into Lady Bute's
chamber, who was in bed, and broke every window in the house. Next
morning, Wilkes and Cooke were returned members. The day was very
quiet, but at night they rose again, and obliged almost every house in
town to be lighted up, even the Duke of Cumberland's and Princess
Amelia's. About one o'clock they marched to the Duchess of Hamilton's in
Argyle Buildings (Lord Lorn being in Scotland). She was obstinate, and
would not illuminate, though with child, and, as they hope, of an heir
to the family, and with the Duke, her son, and the rest of her children
in the house. There is a small court and parapet wall before the house:
they brought iron crows, tore down the gates, pulled up the pavement,
and battered the house for three hours. They could not find the key of
the back door, nor send for any assistance. The night before, they had
obliged the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland to give them beer, and
appear at the windows, and drink "Wilkes's health." They stopped and
opened the coach of Count Seilern, the Austrian ambassador, who has made
a formal complaint, on which the Council met on Wednesday night, and
were going to issue a Proclamation, but, hearing that all was quiet, and
that only a few houses were illuminated in Leicester Fields from the
terror of the inhabitants, a few constables were sent with orders to
extinguish the lights, and not the smallest disorder has happened since.
In short, it has ended like other election riots, and with not a quarter
of the mischief that has been done in some other towns.

There are, however, difficulties to come. Wilkes has notified that he
intends to surrender himself to his outlawry, the beginning of next
term, which comes on the 17th of this month. There is said to be a flaw
in the proceedings, in which case his election will be good, though the
King's Bench may fine or imprison him on his former sentence. In my own
opinion, the House of Commons is the place where he can do the least
hurt, for he is a wretched speaker, and will sink to contempt, like
Admiral Vernon,[1] who I remember just such an illuminated hero, with
two birthdays in one year. You will say, he can write better than
Vernon--true; and therefore his case is more desperate. Besides, Vernon
was rich: Wilkes is undone; and, though he has had great support, his
patrons will be sick of maintaining him. He must either sink to poverty
and a jail, or commit new excesses, for which he will get knocked on the
head. The Scotch are his implacable enemies to a man. A Rienzi[2] cannot
stop: their histories are summed up in two words--a triumph and an

[Footnote 1: In 1739 our Government had declared war against Spain.
"There was at the time among the members of the Opposition in the House
of Commons a naval captain named Vernon, a man of bold, blustering
tongue, and presumed therefore by many to be of a corresponding
readiness of action. In some of the debates he took occasion to inveigh
against the timidity of our officers, who had hitherto, as he phrased
it, spared Porto Bello; and he affirmed that he could take it himself
with a squadron of six ships. The Ministry caught at the prospect of
delivering themselves from his harangues, and gave him half as many
ships again as he desired, with the temporary rank of Vice-admiral; and
on July, 1739, he sailed for the American coast. When he reached it he
found that the news of the rupture of the peace had not yet reached the
governor of the city, and that it was in no condition to resist an
attack. Many of the guns were dismounted; and for those that were
serviceable there was not sufficient ammunition. A fire of musketry
alone sufficed to win the fort that protected the entrance to the
harbour, and an equally brief cannonade drove the garrison from the
castle. The governor had no further means of defence; and thus in
forty-eight hours after his arrival Vernon had accomplished his boast,
and was master of the place." In a clever paper in the "Cambridge Museum
Philologicum" Bishop Thirlwall compared the man and his exploit to Cleon
and his achievement at Sphacteria in the Peloponnesian War. (See the
Editor's "History of the British Navy," c. 9.)]

[Footnote 2: "_Rienzi._"

    Then turn we to her latest tribune's name,
    From her ten thousand tyrants turn to thee,
    Redeemer of dark centuries of shame,
    The friend of Petrarch, hope of Italy,
    Rienzi; last of Romans.

("Childe Harold," iv. 114.)

His story is told with almost more than his usual power by Gibbon (c.
70). Born in the lowest class, "he could inherit neither dignity nor
fortune; and the gift of a liberal education, which they painfully
bestowed, was the cause of his glory and his untimely end." He, while
still little more than a youth, had established such a reputation for
eloquence, that he was one of the deputies sent by the Commons to
Avignon to plead with the Pope (Clement VI.). The state of Rome,
aggravated by the absence of the Pope, was miserable in the extreme. The
citizens "were equally oppressed by the arrogance of the nobles and the
corruption of the magistrates." Rienzi recalled to their recollection
"the ancient glories of the Senate and people from whom all legal
authority was derived. He raised the enthusiasm of the populace;
collected a band of conspirators, at whose head, clad in complete
armour, he marched to the Capitol, and assumed the government of the
city, declining "the names of Senator or Consul, of King or Emperor, and
preferring the ancient and modern appellation of Tribune.... Never
perhaps has the energy and effect of a single mind been more remarkably
felt than in the sudden, though transient, reformation of Rome by the
Tribune Rienzi. A den of robbers was converted to the discipline of a
camp or convent. Patient to hear, swift to redress, inexorable to
punish, his tribunal was always accessible to the poor and the stranger;
nor could birth, nor dignity, nor the immunities of the Church protect
the offender or his accomplices." But his head was turned by his
success. He even caused himself to be crowned, while "his wife, his son,
and his uncle, a barber, exposed the contrast of vulgar manners and
princely expense; and, without acquiring the majesty, Rienzi degenerated
into the vices of a king." The people became indignant; the nobles whom
he had degraded found it easy to raise the public feeling against him.
Before the end of the same year (1347) he was forced to fly from Rome,
and lived in exile or imprisonment at Avignon seven years; and returned
to Rome in 1354, only to be murdered in an insurrection.]

I must finish, for Lord Hertford is this moment come in, and insists on
my dining with the Prince of Monaco, who is come over to thank the King
for the presents his Majesty sent him on his kindness and attention to
the late Duke of York. You shall hear the suite of the above histories,
which I sit quietly and look at, having nothing more to do with the
storm, and sick of politics, but as a spectator, while they pass over
the stage of the world. Adieu!



STRAWBERRY HILL, _April_ 15, 1768.

Mr. Chute tells me that you have taken a new house in Squireland, and
have given yourself up for two years more to port and parsons. I am very
angry, and resign you to the works of the devil or the church, I don't
care which. You will get the gout, turn Methodist, and expect to ride to
heaven upon your own great toe. I was happy with your telling me how
well you love me, and though I don't love loving, I could have poured
out all the fulness of my heart to such an old and true friend; but what
am I the better for it, if I am to see you but two or three days in the
year? I thought you would at last come and while away the remainder of
life on the banks of the Thames in gaiety and old tales. I have quitted
the stage, and the Clive[1] is preparing to leave it. We shall neither
of us ever be grave: dowagers roost all around us, and you could never
want cards or mirth. Will you end like a fat farmer, repeating annually
the price of oats, and discussing stale newspapers? There have you got,
I hear, into an old gallery, that has not been glazed since Queen
Elizabeth, and under the nose of an infant Duke and Duchess, that will
understand you no more than if you wore a ruff and a coif, and talk to
them of a call of Serjeants the year of the Spanish Armada! Your wit and
humour will be as much lost upon them, as if you talked the dialect of
Chaucer; for with all the divinity of wit, it grows out of fashion like
a fardingale. I am convinced that the young men at White's already laugh
at George Selwyn's _bon mots_ only by tradition. I avoid talking before
the youth of the age as I would dancing before them; for if one's tongue
don't move in the steps of the day, and thinks to please by its old
graces, it is only an object of ridicule, like Mrs. Hobart in her
cotillon. I tell you we should get together, and comfort ourselves with
reflecting on the brave days that we have known--not that I think people
were a jot more clever or wise in our youth than they are now; but as my
system is always to live in a vision as much as I can, and as visions
don't increase with years, there is nothing so natural as to think one
remembers what one does not remember.

[Footnote 1: Mrs. Clive was a celebrated comic actress and wit, and a
near neighbour of Walpole at Twickenham.]


I have finished my Tragedy ["The Mysterious Mother"], but as you would
not bear the subject, I will say no more of it, but that Mr. Chute, who
is not easily pleased, likes it, and Gray, who is still more difficult,
approves it. I am not yet intoxicated enough with it to think it would
do for the stage, though I wish to see it acted; but, as Mrs.
Pritchard[1] leaves the stage next month, I know nobody could play the
Countess; nor am I disposed to expose myself to the impertinences of
that jackanapes Garrick, who lets nothing appear but his own wretched
stuff, or that of creatures still duller, who suffer him to alter their
pieces as he pleases. I have written an epilogue in character for the
Clive, which she would speak admirably: but I am not so sure that she
would like to speak it. Mr. Conway, Lady Aylesbury, Lady Lyttelton, and
Miss Rich, are to come hither the day after to-morrow, and Mr. Conway
and I are to read my play to them; for I have not strength enough to go
through the whole alone.

[Footnote 1: Mrs. Pritchard was the most popular tragic actress of the
day. Churchill gives her high praise--

    In spite of outward blemishes, she shone
    For humour fam'd, and humour all her own.

("Rosciad," 840.)]

My press is revived, and is printing a French play written by the old
President Hénault.[1] It was damned many years ago at Paris, and yet I
think is better than some that have succeeded, and much better than any
of our modern tragedies. I print it to please the old man, as he was
exceedingly kind to me at Paris; but I doubt whether he will live till
it is finished. He is to have a hundred copies, and there are to be but
a hundred more, of which you shall have one.

[Footnote 1: M. Hénault was President of the Parliament of Paris. His
tragedy was "Cornelie." He died in 1770, at the age of eighty-six.]

Adieu! though I am very angry with you, I deserve all your friendship,
by that I have for you, witness my anger and disappointment. Yours ever.

P.S.--Send me your new direction, and tell me when I must begin to use



STRAWBERRY HILL, _June_ 9, 1768.

To send you empty paragraphs when you expect and want news is
tantalising, is it not? Pray agree with me, and then you will allow that
I have acted very kindly in not writing till I had something to tell
you. _Something_, of course, means Wilkes, for everything is nothing
except the theme of the day. There has appeared a violent _North
Briton_, addressed to, and written against Lord Mansfield, threatening a
rebellion if he continued to persecute Mr. Wilkes. This paper, they say,
Wilkes owned to the Chevalier de Chastelux, a French gentleman, who went
to see him in the King's Bench, and who knew him at Paris. A rebellion
threatened in print is not very terrible. However, it was said that the
paper was outrageous enough to furnish the Law with every handle it
could want. But modern mountains do not degenerate from their ancestors;
their issue are still mice. You know, too, that this agrees with my
system, that this is an age of abortions. Prosecutions were ordered
against the publishers and vendors, and there, I suppose, it will end.

Yesterday was fixed for the appearance of Wilkes in Westminster Hall.
The Judges went down by nine in the morning, but the mob had done
breakfast still sooner, and was there before them; and as Judges stuffed
out with dignity and lamb-skins are not absolute sprites, they had much
ado to glide through the crowd. Wilkes's counsel argued against the
outlawry, and then Lord Mansfield, in a speech of an hour and a half,
set it aside; not on _their_ reasons, but on grounds which he had
discovered in it himself. I think they say it was on some flaw in the
Christian name of the county, which should not have been _Middlesex to
wit_,--but I protest I don't know, for I am here alone, and picked up my
intelligence as I walked in our meadows by the river. You, who may be
walking by the Arno, will, perhaps, think there was some timidity in
this; but the depths of the Law are wonderful! So pray don't make any
rash conclusions, but stay till you get better information.

Well! now he is gone to prison again,--I mean Wilkes; and on Tuesday he
is to return to receive sentence on the old guilt of writing, as the
Scotch would _not_ call it, _the_ 45,[1] though they call the rebellion
so. The sentence may be imprisonment, fine, or pillory; but as I am
still near the Thames, I do not think the latter will be chosen. Oh! but
stay, he may plead against the indictment, and should there be an
improper _Middlesex to wit_ in that too, why then in that case, you
know, he did _not_ write _the_ 45, and then he is as white as milk, and
as free as air, and as good a member of Parliament as if he had never
been expelled. In short, my dear Sir, I am trying to explain to you
what I literally do not understand; all I do know is, that Mr. Cooke,
the other member for Middlesex, is just dead, and that we are going to
have another Middlesex election, which is very unpleasant to me, who
hate mobs so near as Brentford. Sergeant Glynn, Wilkes's counsel, is the
candidate, and I suppose the only one in the present humour of the
people, who will care to have his brains dashed out, in order to sit in
Parliament. In truth, this enthusiasm is confined to the very mob or
little higher, and does not extend beyond the County. All other riots
are ceased, except the little civil war between the sailors and
coal-heavers, in which two or three lives are lost every week.

[Footnote 1: "_The_ 45" here serves for the Scotch rebellion of 1745,
and for No. 45 of the _North Briton_.]

What is most disagreeable, even the Emperor of Morocco has taken courage
on these tumults, and has dared to mutiny for increase of wages, like
our journeymen tailors. France is pert too, and gives herself airs in
the Mediterranean. Our Paolists were violent for support of Corsica, but
I think they are a little startled on a report that the hero Paoli is
like other patriots, and is gone to Versailles, for a peerage and
pension. I was told to-day that at London there are murmurs of a war. I
shall be sorry if it prove so. Deaths! suspense, say victory;--how end
all our victories? In debts and a wretched peace! Mad world, in the
individual or the aggregate!

Well! say I to myself, and what is all this to me? Have not I done with
that world? Am not I here at peace, unconnected with Courts and
Ministries, and indifferent who is Minister? What is a war in Europe to
me more than a war between the Turkish and Persian Emperors? True; yet
self-love makes one love the nation one belongs to, and vanity makes one
wish to have that nation glorious. Well! I have seen it so; I have seen
its conquests spread farther than Roman eagles thought there was land. I
have seen too the Pretender at Derby; and, therefore, you must know that
I am content with historic seeing, and wish Fame and History would be
quiet and content without entertaining me with any more sights. We were
down at Derby, we were up at both Indies; I have no curiosity for any
intermediate sights.

Your brother was with me just before I came out of town, and spoke of
you with great kindness, and accused himself of not writing to you, but
protested it was from not knowing what to say to you about the Riband. I
engaged to write for him, so you must take this letter as from him too.

I hope there will be no war for some hero to take your honours out of
your mouth, sword in hand. The first question I shall ask when I go to
town will be, how my Lord Chatham does? I shall mind his health more
than the stocks. The least symptom of a war will certainly cure him.
Adieu! my dear Sir.



STRAWBERRY HILL, _June_ 15, 1768.

No, I cannot be so false as to say I am glad you are pleased with your
situation. You are so apt to take root, that it requires ten years to
dig you out again when you once begin to settle. As you go pitching your
tent up and down, I wish you were still more a Tartar, and shifted your
quarters perpetually. Yes, I will come and see you; but tell me first,
when do your Duke and Duchess [the Argylls] travel to the North? I know
that he is a very amiable lad, and I do not know that she is not as
amiable a _laddess_, but I had rather see their house comfortably when
they are not there.

I perceive the deluge fell upon you before it reached us. It began here
but on Monday last, and then rained near eight-and-forty hours without
intermission. My poor hay has not a dry thread to its back. I have had a
fire these three days. In short, every summer one lives in a state of
mutiny and murmur, and I have found the reason: it is because we will
affect to have a summer, and we have no title to any such thing. Our
poets learnt their trade of the Romans, and so adopted the terms of
their masters. They talk of shady groves, purling streams, and cooling
breezes, and we get sore-throats and agues with attempting to realise
these visions. Master Damon writes a song, and invites Miss Chloe to
enjoy the cool of the evening, and the deuce a bit have we of any such
thing as a cool evening. Zephyr is a north-east wind, that makes Damon
button up to the chin, and pinches Chloe's nose till it is red and blue;
and then they cry, _This is a bad summer_! as if we ever had any other.
The best sun we have is made of Newcastle coal, and I am determined
never to reckon upon any other. We ruin ourselves with inviting over
foreign trees, and making our houses clamber up hills to look at
prospects. How our ancestors would laugh at us, who knew there was no
being comfortable, unless you had a high hill before your nose, and a
thick warm wood at your back! Taste is too freezing a commodity for us,
and, depend upon it, will go out of fashion again.

There is indeed a natural warmth in this country, which, as you say, I
am very glad not to enjoy any longer; I mean the hot-house in St.
Stephen's chapel. My own sagacity makes me very vain, though there was
very little merit in it. I had seen so much of all parties, that I had
little esteem left for any; it is most indifferent to me who is in or
who is out, or which is set in the pillory, Mr. Wilkes or my Lord
Mansfield. I see the country going to ruin, and no man with brains
enough to save it. That is mortifying; but what signifies who has the
undoing it? I seldom suffer myself to think on this subject: _my_
patriotism could do no good, and my philosophy can make me be at peace.

I am sorry you are likely to lose your poor cousin Lady Hinchinbrook: I
heard a very bad account of her when I was last in town. Your letter to
Madame Roland shall be taken care of; but as you are so scrupulous of
making me pay postage, I must remember not to overcharge you, as I can
frank my idle letters no longer; therefore, good night!

P.S.--I was in town last week, and found Mr. Chute still confined. He
had a return in his shoulder, but I think it more rheumatism than gout.



STRAWBERRY HILL, _July_ 27, 1768.

One can never, Sir, be sorry to have been in the wrong, when one's
errors are pointed out to one in so obliging and masterly a manner.
Whatever opinion I may have of Shakspeare, I should think him to blame,
if he could have seen the letter you have done me the honour to write to
me, and yet not conform to the rules you have there laid down. When he
lived, there had not been a Voltaire both to give laws to the stage, and
to show on what good sense those laws were founded. Your art, Sir, goes
still farther: for you have supported your arguments, without having
recourse to the best authority, your own Works. It was my interest
perhaps to defend barbarism and irregularity. A great genius is in the
right, on the contrary, to show that when correctness, nay, when
perfection is demanded, he can still shine, and be himself, whatever
fetters are imposed on him. But I will say no more on this head; for I
am neither so unpolished as to tell you to your face how much I admire
you, nor, though I have taken the liberty to vindicate Shakspeare
against your criticisms, am I vain enough to think myself an adversary
worthy of you. I am much more proud of receiving laws from you, than of
contesting them. It was bold in me to dispute with you even before I had
the honour of your acquaintance; it would be ungrateful now when you
have not only taken notice of me, but forgiven me. The admirable letter
you have been so good as to send me, is a proof that you are one of
those truly great and rare men who know at once how to conquer and to

I have made all the inquiry I could into the story of M. de Jumonville;
and though your and our accounts disagree, I own I do not think, Sir,
that the strongest evidence is in our favour. I am told we allow he was
killed by a party of our men, going to the Ohio. Your countrymen say he
was going with a flag of truce. The commanding officer of our party said
M. de Jumonville was going with hostile intentions; and that very
hostile orders were found after his death in his pocket. Unless that
officer had proved that he had previous intelligence of those orders, I
doubt he will not be justified by finding them afterwards; for I am not
at all disposed to believe that he had the foreknowledge of your
hermit,[1] who pitched the old woman's nephew into the river, because
"ce jeune homme auroit assassiné sa tante dans un an."

I am grieved that such disputes should ever subsist between two nations
who have everything in themselves to create happiness, and who may find
enough in each other to love and admire. It is your benevolence, Sir,
and your zeal for softening the manners of mankind; it is the doctrine
of peace and amity which you preach, that have raised my esteem for you
even more than the brightness of your genius. France may claim you in
the latter light, but all nations have a right to call you their
countryman _du côté du coeur_. It is on the strength of that connection
that I beg you, Sir, to accept the homage of, Sir, your most obedient
humble servant.[2]

[Footnote 1: The idea of Voltaire's fable in "Zadig," c. 20, is believed
to have been borrowed from Parnell's "Hermit," but Mr. Wright suggests
that it was more probably taken from one of the "Contes Devots, de
l'Hermite qu'un ange conduisit dans le Siècle," which is published in
the "Nouveau Recueil de Fabliaux et Contes."]

[Footnote 2: The letter of Voltaire to which the above is a reply,
contained the following opinion of Walpole's "Historic Doubts";--"Avant
le départ de ma lettre, j'ai eu le tems, Monsieur, de lire votre Richard
Trois. Vous seriez un excellent attornei général; vous pesez toutes les
probabilités; mais il paroit que vous avez une inclination secrete pour
ce bossu. Vous voulez qu'il ait été beau garçon, et même galant homme.
Le bénédictin Calmet a fait une dissertation pour prouver que Jesus
Christ avait un fort beau visage. Je veux croire avec vous, que Richard
Trois n'était ni si laid, ni si méchant, qu'on le dit; mais je n'aurais
pas voulu avoir affaire à lui. Votre rose blanche et votre rose rouge
avaient de terribles épines pour la nation.

"Those gracious kings are all a pack of rogues. En lisant l'histoire des
York et des Lancastre, et de bien d'autres, on croit lire l'histoire des
voleurs de grand chemin. Pour votre Henri Sept, il n'était que coupeur
de bourses. Be a minister or an anti-minister, a lord or a philosopher,
I will be, with an equal respect, Sir, &c."]



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Aug._ 16, 1768.

As you have been so good, my dear lord, as twice to take notice of my
letter, I am bound in conscience and gratitude to try to amuse you with
anything new. A royal visitor, quite fresh, is a real curiosity--by the
reception of him, I do not think many more of the breed will come
hither. He came from Dover in hackney-chaises; for somehow or other the
Master of the Horse happened to be in Lincolnshire; and the King's
coaches having received no orders, were too good subjects to go and
fetch a stranger King of their own heads. However, as his Danish Majesty
travels to improve himself for the good of his people, he will go back
extremely enlightened in the arts of government and morality, by having
learned that crowned heads may be reduced to ride in a hired chaise.[1]

[Footnote 1: The King, travelling, as is usual with kings, _incognito_,
assumed the title of the Comte de Travendahl.]

By another mistake, King George happened to go to Richmond about an hour
before King Christiern arrived in London. An hour is exceedingly long;
and the distance to Richmond still longer; so that with all the dispatch
that could possibly be made, King George could not get back to his
capital till next day at noon. Then, as the road from his closet at St.
James's to the King of Denmark's apartment on t'other side of the palace
is about thirty miles, which posterity, having no conception of the
prodigious extent and magnificence of St. James's, will never believe,
it was half an hour after three before his Danish Majesty's courier
could go and return to let him know that his good brother and ally was
leaving the palace in which they both were, in order to receive him at
the Queen's palace, which you know is about a million of snail's paces
from St. James's. Notwithstanding these difficulties and unavoidable
delays, Woden, Thor, Friga, and all the gods that watch over the Kings
of the North, did bring these two invincible monarchs to each other's
embraces about half an hour after five that same evening. They passed
an hour in projecting a family compact that will regulate the destiny of
Europe to latest posterity: and then, the Fates so willing it, the
British Prince departed for Richmond, and the Danish potentate repaired
to the widowed mansion of his Royal Mother-in-Law, where he poured forth
the fulness of his heart in praises on the lovely bride she had bestowed
on him, from whom nothing but the benefit of his subjects could ever
have torn him.--And here let Calumny blush, who has aspersed so chaste
and faithful a monarch with low amours; pretending that he has raised to
the honour of a seat in his sublime council, an artisan of Hamburgh,
known only by repairing the soles of buskins, because that mechanic
would, on no other terms, consent to his fair daughter's being honoured
with majestic embraces. So victorious over his passions is this young
Scipio from the Pole, that though on Shooter's Hill he fell into an
ambush laid for him by an illustrious Countess, of blood-royal herself,
his Majesty, after descending from his car, and courteously greeting
her, again mounted his vehicle, without being one moment eclipsed from
the eyes of the surrounding multitude.--Oh! mercy on me! I am out of
breath--pray let me descend from my stilts, or I shall send you as
fustian and tedious a History as that of [Lyttelton's] Henry II. Well,
then, this great King is a very little one; not ugly, nor ill-made. He
has the sublime strut of his grandfather, or of a cock-sparrow; and the
divine white eyes of all his family by the mother's side. His curiosity
seems to have consisted in the original plan of travelling, for I cannot
say he takes notice of anything in particular. His manner is cold and
dignified, but very civil and gracious and proper. The mob adore him and
huzza him; and so they did the first instant. At present they begin to
know why--for he flings money to them out of his windows; and by the end
of the week I do not doubt but they will want to choose him for
Middlesex. His Court is extremely well ordered; for they bow as low to
him at every word as if his name was Sultan Amurat. You would take his
first minister for only the first of his slaves.--I hope this example,
which they have been so good as to exhibit at the opera, will contribute
to civilize us. There is indeed a pert young gentleman, who a little
discomposes this august ceremonial. His name is Count Holke, his age
three-and-twenty; and his post answers to one that we had formerly in
England, many ages ago, and which in our tongue was called the lord high
favourite. Before the Danish monarchs became absolute, the most
refractory of that country used to write libels, called _North Danes_,
against this great officer; but that practice has long since ceased.
Count Holke seems rather proud of his favour, than shy of displaying it.

I hope, my dear lord, you will be content with my Danish politics, for I
trouble myself with no other. There is a long history about the Baron de
Bottetourt and Sir Jeffery Amherst, who has resigned his regiment; but
it is nothing to me, nor do I care a straw about it. I am deep in the
anecdotes of the new Court; and if you want to know more of Count Holke
or Count Molke, or the grand vizier Bernsdorff, or Mynheer Schimmelman,
apply to me, and you shall be satisfied. But what do I talk of? You will
see them yourself. Minerva in the shape of Count Bernsdorff, or out of
all shape in the person of the Duchess of Northumberland, is to conduct
Telemachus to York races; for can a monarch be perfectly accomplished in
the mysteries of king-craft, as our Solomon James I. called it, unless
he is initiated in the arts of jockeyship? When this northern star
travels towards its own sphere, Lord Hertford will go to Ragley. I shall
go with him; and, if I can avoid running foul of the magi that will be
thronging from all parts to worship that star, I will endeavour to call
at Wentworth Castle for a day or two, if it will not be inconvenient; I
should think it would be about the second week in September, but your
lordship shall hear again, unless you should forbid me, who am ever Lady
Strafford's and your lordship's most faithful humble servant.



ARLINGTON STREET, _Jan._ 31, 1769.

The affair of Wilkes is rather undecided yet, than in suspense.[1] It
has been a fair trial between faction and corruption; of two such common
creatures, the richest will carry it.

[Footnote 1: Wilkes had been elected a member of the Common Council.]

The Court of Aldermen set aside the election of Wilkes on some
informality, but he was immediately re-chosen. This happened on Friday
last, the very day of his appearance at the House of Commons. He went
thither without the least disturbance or mob, having dispersed his
orders accordingly, which are obeyed implicitly. He did not, however,
appear at the bar till ten at night, the day being wasted in debating
whether he should be suffered to enter on his case at large, or be
restrained to his two chief complaints. The latter was carried by 270
to 131, a majority that he will not easily reduce. He was then called
in, looked ill, but behaved decently, and demanded to take the oaths and
his seat. This affair, after a short debate, was refused; and his
counsel being told the restrictions imposed, the House adjourned at
midnight. To-day he goes again to the House, but whatever steps he takes
there, or however long debates he may occasion, you may look upon his
fate as decided in that place.

We are in hourly expectation of hearing that a nymph, more common still
than the two I have mentioned, has occasioned what Wilkes has failed in
now, a change in an administration. I mean the Comtesse du Barri.[1] The
_grands habits_ are made, and nothing wanting for her presentation
but--what do you think? some woman of quality to present her. In that
servile Court and country, the nobility have had spirit enough to
decline paying their court, though the King has stooped _à des
bassesses_ to obtain it. The Duc de Choiseul will be the victim; and
they pretend to say that he has declared he will resign _à l'Anglaise_,
rather than be _chassé_ by such a creature. His indiscretion is
astonishing: he has said at his own table, and she has been told so,
"Madame du Barri est très mal informée; on ne parle pas des Catins chez
moi." Catin diverts herself and King Solomon the wise with tossing
oranges into the air after supper, and crying, "_Saute, Choiseul! saute,
Praslin_!" and then Solomon laughs heartily. Sometimes she flings powder
in his sage face, and calls him _Jean Farine_! Well! we are not the
foolishest nation in Europe yet! It is supposed that the Duc d'Aiguillon
will be the successor.

[Footnote 1: This woman, one of the very lowest of the low, had caught
the fancy of Louis XV.; and, as according to the curious etiquette of
the French Court, it was indispensable that a king's mistress should be
married, the Comte du Barri, a noble of old family, but ruined by
gambling, was induced to marry her.]

I am going to send away this letter, because you will be impatient, and
the House will not rise probably till long after the post is gone out. I
did not think last May that you would hear this February that there was
an end of mobs, that Wilkes was expelled, and the colonies quieted.
However, pray take notice that I do not stir a foot out of the province
of gazetteer into that of prophet. I protest, I know no more than a
prophet what is to come. Adieu!



ARLINGTON STREET, _May_ 11, 1769.

You are so wayward, that I often resolve to give you up to your humours.
Then something happens with which I can divert you, and my good-nature
returns. Did not you say you should return to London long before this
time? At least, could you not tell me you had changed your mind? why am
I to pick it out from your absence and silence, as Dr. Warburton found a
future state in Moses's saying nothing of the matter! I could go on with
a chapter of severe interrogatories, but I think it more cruel to treat
you as a hopeless reprobate; yes, you are graceless, and as I have a
respect for my own scolding, I shall not throw it away upon you.

Strawberry has been in great glory; I have given a festino there that
will almost mortgage it. Last Tuesday all France dined there: Monsieur
and Madame du Châtelet, the Duc de Liancourt, three more French ladies,
whose names you will find in the enclosed paper, eight other Frenchmen,
the Spanish and Portuguese ministers, the Holdernesses, Fitzroys, in
short, we were four and twenty. They arrived at two. At the gates of the
castle I received them, dressed in the cravat of Gibbons's carving, and
a pair of gloves embroidered up to the elbows that had belonged to James
I. The French servants stared, and firmly believed this was the dress of
English country gentlemen. After taking a survey of the apartment, we
went to the printing-house, where I had prepared the enclosed verses,
with translations by Monsieur de Lille, one of the company. The moment
they were printed off, I gave a private signal, and French horns and
clarionets accompanied this compliment. We then went to see Pope's
grotto and garden, and returned to a magnificent dinner in the

In the evening we walked, had tea, coffee, and lemonade in the Gallery,
which was illuminated with a thousand, or thirty candles, I forget
which, and played at whisk and loo till midnight. Then there was a cold
supper, and at one the company returned to town, saluted by fifty
nightingales, who, as tenants of the manor, came to do honour to their

I cannot say last night was equally agreeable. There was what they
called a _ridotto al fresco_ at Vauxhall,[1] for which one paid
half-a-guinea, though, except some thousand more lamps and a covered
passage all round the garden, which took off from the gardenhood, there
was nothing better than on a common night. Mr. Conway and I set out from
his house at eight o'clock; the tide and torrent of coaches was so
prodigious, that it was half-an-hour after nine before we got half way
from Westminster Bridge. We then alighted; and after scrambling under
bellies of horses, through wheels, and over posts and rails, we reached
the gardens, where were already many thousand persons. Nothing diverted
me but a man in a Turk's dress and two nymphs in masquerade without
masks, who sailed amongst the company, and, which was surprising, seemed
to surprise nobody. It had been given out that people were desired to
come in fancied dresses without masks. We walked twice round and were
rejoiced to come away, though with the same difficulties as at our
entrance; for we found three strings of coaches all along the road, who
did not move half a foot in half-an-hour. There is to be a rival mob in
the same way at Ranelagh to-morrow; for the greater the folly and
imposition the greater is the crowd. I have suspended the vestimenta[2]
that were torn off my back to the god of repentance, and shall stay
away. Adieu! I have not a word more to say to you. Yours ever.

P.S.--I hope you will not regret paying a shilling for this packet.

[Footnote 1: The ridotto was a Venetian entertainment--

    They went to the _Ridotto_--'tis a hall
      Where people dance, and sup, and dance again;
    Its proper name, perhaps, was a masqued ball,
      But that's of no importance to my strain;
    'Tis (on a smaller scale) like our Vauxhall,
      Excepting that it can't be spoilt by rain;
    The company is "mix'd"--the phrase I quote is
      As much as saying, they're below your notice.

Beppo, st. 38.]

[Footnote 2: "_Vestimenta._" Imitating Horace, who relates of himself--

        Me tabulà sacer
    Votivâ paries indicat uvida
        Suspendisse potenti
        Vestimenta maris Deo (Od. i. 5).]



STRAWBERRY HILL, _June_ 14, 1769.

I thank you for the history of the Pope and his genealogy, or, rather,
for what is to be his genealogy; for I suppose all those tailors and
coachmen his relations will now found noble families. They may enrich
their blood with the remaining spoils of the Jesuits, unless, which
would not surprise me, his new Holiness should now veer about, and
endeavour to save the order; for I think the Church full as likely to
fall by sacrificing its janissaries, as by any attacks that can be made
upon it. _Deme unum, deme etiam unum._

If I care little about your Roman politics, I am not so indifferent
about your Corsican. Poor brave Paoli!--but he is not disgraced! We,
that have sat still and seen him overwhelmed, must answer it to history.
Nay, the Mediterranean will taunt us in the very next war. Choiseul
triumphs over us and Madame du Barri; her star seems to have lost its
influence. I do not know what another lady[1] will say to Choiseul on
the late behaviour of his friend, the Ambassador, here. As the adventure
will make a chapter in the new edition of Wiquefort, and, consequently,
will strike _you_, I will give you the detail. At the ball on the King's
birthday, Count Czernichew was sitting in the box of the Foreign
Ministers next to Count Seilern, the Imperial Ambassador. The latter,
who is as fierce as the Spread Eagle itself, and as stiff as the chin of
all the Ferdinands, was, according to his custom, as near to Jupiter as
was possible. Monsieur du Châtelet and the Prince de Masserano came in.
Châtelet sidled up to the two former, spoke to them and passed behind
them, but on a sudden lifted up his leg and thrust himself in between
the two Imperials. The Russian, astonished and provoked, endeavoured to
push him away, and a jostle began that discomposed the faces and curls
of both; and the Russian even dropped the word _impertinent_.
Czernichew, however, quitted the spot of battle, and the Prince de
Masserano, in support of the family-compact, hobbled into the place
below Châtelet. As the two champions retired, more words at the door.
However, the Russian's coach being first, he astonished everybody by
proposing to set Monsieur du Châtelet down at his own house. In the
coach, _it is said_, the Frenchman protested he had meant nothing
personal either to Count Czernichew, or to the Russian Minister, but
having received orders from his Court to take place on all occasion
_next_ to the Imperial Ambassador, he had but done his duty. Next
morning he visited Czernichew, and they are _personally_ reconciled. It
was, however, feared that the dispute would be renewed, for, at the
King's next levée, both were at the door, ready to push in when it
should be opened; but the Russian kept behind, and at the bottom of the
room without mixing with the rest of the Foreign Ministers. The King,
who was much offended at what had passed, called Count Czernichew into
the middle of the room, and talked to him for a very considerable time.
Since then, the Lord Chamberlain has been ordered to notify to all the
Foreign Ministers that the King looks on the ball at Court as a private
ball, and declares, _to prevent such disagreeable altercations for the
future_, that there is no precedence there. This declaration is
ridiculed, because the ball at Court is almost the only ceremony that is
observed there, and certainly the most formal, the princes of the blood
dancing first, and everybody else being taken out according to their
rank. Yet the King, being the fountain of all rank, may certainly
declare what he pleases, especially in his own palace. The public
papers, which seldom spare the French, are warm for the Russian.
Châtelet, too, is not popular, nor well at Court. He is wrong-headed,
and at Vienna was very near drawing his Court into a scrape by his
haughtiness. His own friends even doubt whether this last exploit will
not offend at Versailles, as the Duc de Choiseul has lately been
endeavouring to soften the Czarina, wishes to send a minister thither,
and has actually sent an agent. Châtelet was to have gone this week, but
I believe waits to hear how his behaviour is taken. Personally, I am
quite on his side, though I think him in the wrong; but he is extremely
civil to me; I live much at his house, admire his wife exceedingly, and,
besides, you know, have declared war with the Czarina; so what I say is
quite in confidence to you, and for your information. As an Englishman,
I am whatever Madam Great Britain can expect of me. As intimate with the
Châtelets, and extremely attached to the Duchess of Choiseul, I detest
Madame du Barri and her faction. You, who are a Foreign Minister, and
can distinguish like a theologian between the _two natures_ perfectly
comprehend all this; and, therefore, to the charity of your casuistry I
recommend myself in this jumble of contradictions, which you may be sure
do not give me any sort of trouble either way. At least I have not
_three_ distinctions, like Châtelet when he affronted Czernichew, but
neither in his private nor public capacity.

[Footnote 1: The Czarina.]

This fracas happens very luckily, as we had nothing left to talk of; for
of the Pope we think no more, according to the old saying, than of the
Pope of Rome. Of Wilkes there is no longer any question, and of the war
under the Pole we hear nothing. Corsica, probably, will occasion
murmurs, but they will be preserved in pickle till next winter. I am
come hither for two months, very busy with finishing my round tower,
which has stood still these five years, and with an enchanting new
cottage that I have built, and other little works. In August I shall go
to Paris for six weeks. In short, I am delighted with having bid adieu
to Parliament and politics, and with doing nothing but what I like all
the year round.



PARIS, _Aug._ 30, 1769.

I have been so hurried with paying and receiving visits, that I have not
had a moment's worth of time to write. My passage was very tedious, and
lasted near nine hours for want of wind.--But I need not talk of my
journey; for Mr. Maurice, whom I met on the road, will have told you
that I was safe on _terra firma_.

Judge of my surprise at hearing four days ago, that my Lord Dacre and my
lady were arrived here. They are lodged within a few doors of me. He is
come to consult a Doctor Pomme who has prescribed wine, and Lord Dacre
already complains of the violence of his appetite. If you and I had
_pommed_ him to eternity, he would not have believed us. A man across
the sea tells him the plainest thing in the world; that man happens to
be called a doctor; and happening for novelty to talk common sense, is
believed, as if he had talked nonsense! and what is more extraordinary,
Lord Dacre thinks himself better, _though_ he is so.

My dear old woman [Madame du Deffand] is in better health than when I
left her, and her spirits so increased, that I tell her she will go mad
with age. When they ask her how old she is, she answers, "J'ai soixante
et mille ans." She and I went to the Boulevard last night after supper,
and drove about there till two in the morning. We are going to sup in
the country this evening, and are to go to-morrow night at eleven to the
puppet-show. A _protégé_ of hers has written a piece for that theatre. I
have not yet seen Madame du Barri, nor can get to see her picture at the
exposition at the Louvre, the crowds are so enormous that go thither for
that purpose. As royal curiosities are the least part of my _virtù_, I
wait with patience. Whenever I have an opportunity I visit gardens,
chiefly with a view to Rosette's having a walk. She goes nowhere else,
because there is a distemper among the dogs.

There is going to be represented a translation of Hamlet; who when his
hair is cut, and he is curled and powdered, I suppose will be exactly
_Monsieur le Prince Oreste_. T'other night I was at "Mérope." The
Dumenil was as divine as Mrs. Porter[1]; they said her familiar tones
were those of a _poissonnière_. In the last act, when one expected the
catastrophe, Narbas, more interested than anybody to see the event,
remained coolly on the stage to hear the story. The Queen's maid of
honour entered without her handkerchief, and her hair most artfully
undressed, and reeling as if she was maudlin, sobbed out a long
narrative, that did not prove true; while Narbas, with all the good
breeding in the world, was more attentive to her fright than to what had
happened. So much for propriety. Now for probability. Voltaire has
published a tragedy, called "Les Guèbres." Two Roman colonels open the
piece: they are brothers, and relate to one another, how they lately in
company destroyed, by the Emperor's mandate, a city of the Guèbres, in
which were their own wives and children; and they recollect that they
want prodigiously to know whether both their families did perish in the
flames. The son of the one and the daughter of the other are taken up
for heretics, and, thinking themselves brother and sister, insist upon
being married, and upon being executed for their religion. The son stabs
his father, who is half a Guèbre, too. The high-priest rants and roars.
The Emperor arrives, blames the pontiff for being a persecutor, and
forgives the son for assassinating his father (who does not die)
because--I don't know why, but that he may marry his cousin. The
grave-diggers in Hamlet have no chance, when such a piece as the Guèbres
is written agreeably to all rules and unities. Adieu, my dear Sir! I
hope to find you quite well at my return. Yours ever.

[Footnote 1: Mme. Dumenil, as has been mentioned in a former note, was
the most popular of the French tragic actresses at this time, as Mrs.
Porter was of the English actresses.]



PARIS, _Sunday night, Sept._ 17, 1769.

I am heartily tired; but, as it is too early to go to bed, I must tell
you how agreeably I have passed the day. I wished for you; the same
scenes strike us both, and the same kind of visions has amused us both
ever since we were born.

Well then; I went this morning to Versailles with my niece Mrs.
Cholmondeley, Mrs. Hart, Lady Denbigh's sister, and the Count de Grave,
one of the most amiable, humane, and obliging men alive. Our first
object was to see Madame du Barri. Being too early for mass, we saw the
Dauphin and his brothers at dinner. The eldest is the picture of the
Duke of Grafton, except that he is more fair, and will be taller. He has
a sickly air, and no grace. The Count de Provence has a very pleasing
countenance, with an air of more sense than the Count d'Artois, the
genius of the family. They already tell as many _bon-mots_ of the latter
as of Henri Quatre and Louis Quatorze. He is very fat, and the most like
his grandfather of all the children. You may imagine this royal mess did
not occupy us long: thence to the Chapel, where a first row in the
balconies was kept for us. Madame du Barri arrived over against us
below, without rouge, without powder, and indeed _sans avoir fait sa
toilette_; an odd appearance, as she was so conspicuous, close to the
altar, and amidst both Court and people. She is pretty, when you
consider her; yet so little striking, that I never should have asked who
she was. There is nothing bold, assuming or affected in her manner. Her
husband's sister was along with her. In the Tribune above, surrounded by
prelates, was the amorous and still handsome King. One could not help
smiling at the mixture of piety, pomp, and carnality. From chapel we
went to the dinner of the elder Mesdames. We were almost stifled in the
antechamber, where their dishes were heating over charcoal, and where we
could not stir for the press. When the doors are opened, everybody
rushes in, princes of the blood, _cordons bleus_, abbés, housemaids, and
the Lord knows who and what. Yet, so used are their highnesses to this
trade, that they eat as comfortably and heartily as you or I could do in
our own parlours.

Our second act was much more agreeable. We quitted the Court and a
reigning mistress, for a dead one and a Cloister. In short, I had
obtained leave from the Bishop of Chartres to enter _into_ St. Cyr; and,
as Madame du Deffand never leaves anything undone that can give me
satisfaction, she had written to the abbess to desire I might see
everything that could be seen there. The Bishop's order was to admit me,
_Monsieur de Grave, et les dames de ma compagnie_: I begged the abbess
to give me back the order, that I might deposit it in the archives of
Strawberry, and she complied instantly. Every door flew open to us: and
the nuns vied in attentions to please us. The first thing I desired to
see was Madame de Maintenon's apartment. It consists of two small rooms,
a library, and a very small chamber, the same in which the Czar saw her,
and in which she died. The bed is taken away, and the room covered now
with bad pictures of the royal family, which destroys the gravity and
simplicity. It is wainscotted with oak, with plain chairs of the same,
covered with dark blue damask. Everywhere else the chairs are of blue
cloth. The simplicity and extreme neatness of the whole house, which is
vast, are very remarkable. A large apartment above (for that I have
mentioned is on the ground-floor), consisting of five rooms, and
destined by Louis Quatorze for Madame de Maintenon, is now the
infirmary, with neat white linen beds, and decorated with every text of
Scripture by which could be insinuated that the foundress was a Queen.
The hour of vespers being come, we were conducted to the chapel, and, as
it was _my_ curiosity that had led us thither, I was placed in the
Maintenon's own tribune; my company in the adjoining gallery. The
pensioners, two and two, each band headed by a man, march orderly to
their seats, and sing the whole service, which I confess was not a
little tedious. The young ladies, to the number of two hundred and
fifty, are dressed in black, with short aprons of the same, the latter
and their stays bound with blue, yellow, green, or red, to distinguish
the classes; the captains and lieutenants have knots of a different
colour for distinction. Their hair is curled and powdered, their
coiffure a sort of French round-eared caps, with white tippets, a sort
of ruff and large tucker: in short, a very pretty dress. The nuns are
entirely in black, with crape veils and long trains, deep white
handkerchiefs, and forehead cloths, and a very long train. The chapel is
plain but very pretty, and in the middle of the choir under a flat
marble lies the foundress. Madame de Cambis, one of the nuns, who are
about forty, is beautiful as a Madonna.[1] The abbess has no distinction
but a larger and richer gold cross: her apartment consists of two very
small rooms. Of Madame de Maintenon we did not see fewer than twenty
pictures. The young one looking over her shoulder has a round face,
without the least resemblance to those of her latter age. That in the
royal mantle, of which you know I have a copy, is the most repeated; but
there is another with a longer and leaner face, which has by far the
most sensible look. She is in black, with a high point head and band, a
long train, and is sitting in a chair of purple velvet. Before her
knees stands her niece Madame de Noailles, a child; at a distance a view
of Versailles or St. Cyr,[2] I could not distinguish which. We were
shown some rich reliquaires and the _corpo santo_ that was sent to her
by the Pope. We were then carried into the public room of each class. In
the first, the young ladies, who were playing at chess, were ordered to
sing to us the choruses of Athaliah; in another, they danced minuets and
country dances, while a nun, not quite so able as St. Cecilia, played on
a violin. In the others, they acted before us the proverbs or
conversations written by Madame de Maintenon for their instruction; for
she was not only their foundress but their saint, and their adoration of
her memory has quite eclipsed the Virgin Mary. We saw their dormitory,
and saw them at supper; and at last were carried to their archives,
where they produced volumes of her letters, and where one of the nuns
gave me a small piece of paper with three sentences in her handwriting.
I forgot to tell you, that this kind dame who took to me extremely,
asked me if we had many convents and relics in England. I was much
embarrassed for fear of destroying her good opinion of me, and so said
we had but few now. Oh! we went too to the _apothecairie_, where they
treated us with cordials, and where one of the ladies told me
inoculation was a sin, as it was a voluntary detention from mass, and as
voluntary a cause of eating _gras_. Our visit concluded in the garden,
now grown very venerable, where the young ladies played at little games
before us. After a stay of four hours we took our leave. I begged the
abbess's blessing; she smiled, and said, she doubted I should not place
much faith in it. She is a comely old gentlewoman, and very proud of
having seen Madame de Maintenon. Well! was not I in the right to wish
you with me?--could you have passed a day more agreeably.

[Footnote 1: Madame du Deffand, in her letter to Walpole of the 10th of
May, 1776, encloses the following portrait of Madame de Cambise, by
Madame de la Vallière:--"Non, non, Madame, je ne ferai point votre
portrait: vous avez une manière d'être si noble, si fine, si piquante,
si délicate, si séduisante; votre gentilesse et vos graces changent si
souvent pour n'en être que plus aimable, que l'on ne peut saisir aucun
de vos traits ni au physique ni au moral." She was niece of La Marquise
de Boufflers, and, having fled to England at the breaking out of the
French Revolution, resided here until her death, which took place at
Richmond in January, 1809.]

[Footnote 2: St. Cyr was a school founded by Mme. de Maintenon for the
education of girls of good families who were in reduced circumstances.
Mme. de Maintenon was the daughter of M. D'Aubigné, a writer of fair
repute both as a historian and a satirist. Her first husband had been a
M. Paul Scarron, a comic poet of indifferent reputation. After his
death, she was induced, after an artful show of affected reluctance, to
become governess to the children of Louis XIV. and Mme. de Montespan.
Louis gave her the small estate of Maintenon, and, after the death of
his queen, privately married her. She became devout, and, under the
tuition of the Jesuits, a violent promoter of the persecution of the
Huguenots. It was probably her influence that induced Louis to issue the
Edict revoking the Edict of Nantes promulgated by Henry IV. in 1598. She
outlived the King, and died in 1719.]

I will conclude my letter with a most charming trait of Madame de
Mailly,[1] which cannot be misplaced in such a chapter of royal
concubines. Going to St. Sulpice, after she had lost the King's heart, a
person present desired the crowd to make way for her. Some brutal young
officers said, "Comment, pour cette catin là!" She turned to them, and
with the most charming modesty said--"Messieurs, puisque vous me
connoissez, priez Dieu pour moi." I am sure it will bring tears into
your eyes. Was she not the Publican and Maintenon the Pharisee? Good
night! I hope I am going to dream of all I have been seeing. As my
impressions and my fancy, when I am pleased, are apt to be strong, my
night perhaps may still be more productive of ideas than the day has
been. It will be charming indeed if Madame de Cambis is the ruling tint.

Yours ever.

[Footnote 1: Mme. de Mailly was the first of the mistresses of Louis XV.
She was the elder sister of the Duchesse de Chateauroux and Mme. de
Lauragais. She has the credit, such as it is, of having been really in
love with the King before she became acquainted with him; but she soon
retired, feeling repentance and shame at her position, and being
superseded in his fancy by the more showy attractions of her younger



ARLINGTON STREET, _Feb._ 27, 1770.

It is very lucky, seeing how much of the tiger enters into the human
composition, that there should be a good dose of the monkey too. If
Aesop had not lived so many centuries before the introduction of
masquerades and operas, he would certainly have anticipated my
observation, and worked it up into a capital fable. As we still trade
upon the stock of the ancients, we seldom deal in any other manufacture;
and, though nature, after new combinations, lets forth new
characteristics, it is very rarely that they are added to the old fund;
else how could so striking a remark have escaped being made, as mine, on
the joint ingredients of tiger and monkey? In France the latter
predominates, in England the former; but, like Orozmades and
Arimanius,[1] they get the better by turns. The bankruptcy in France,
and the rigours of the new Comptroller-General, are half forgotten, in
the expectation of a new opera at the new theatre. Our civil war has
been lulled asleep by a Subscription Masquerade, for which the House of
Commons literally adjourned yesterday. Instead of Fairfaxes and
Cromwells, we have had a crowd of Henry the Eighths, Wolseys, Vandykes,
and Harlequins; and because Wilkes was not mask enough, we had a man
dressed like him, with a visor, in imitation of his squint, and a Cap of
Liberty on a pole. In short, sixteen or eighteen young lords have given
the town a Masquerade; and politics, for the last fortnight, were forced
to give way to habit-makers. The ball was last night at Soho; and, if
possible, was more magnificent than the King of Denmark's. The Bishops
opposed: he of London formally remonstrated to the King, who did not
approve it, but could not help him. The consequence was, that four
divine vessels belonging to the holy fathers, alias their wives, were at
this Masquerade. Monkey again! A fair widow,[2] who once bore my whole
name, and now bears half of it, was there, with one of those whom the
newspapers call _great personages_--he dressed like Edward the Fourth,
she like Elizabeth Woodville,[3] in grey and pearls, with a black veil.
Methinks it was not very difficult to find out the meaning of those

[Footnote 1: "_Orozmades and Arimanius._" In the Persian theology
Orozmades and Ahriman are the good and bad angels. In Scott's "Talisman"
the disguised Saracen (Saladin) invokes Ahriman as "the dark spirit." In
one of his earlier letters Walpole describes his friend Gray as

[Footnote 2: "_A fair widow._" Lady Waldegrave, a natural daughter of
Walpole's uncle, married the King's favourite brother, the Duke of
Gloucester, the _great personage_. The King was very indignant at the
_mésalliance_; and this marriage, with that of the King's other brother,
the Duke of Cumberland, to Mrs. Horton, led to the enactment of the
Royal Marriage Act.]

[Footnote 3: Elizabeth Woodville was the daughter of a Sir Richard
Woodville, and his wife, the Duchess of Bedford, the widow of the
illustrious brother of Henry V. Her first husband had been Sir John
Grey, a knight of the Lancastrian party; and, after his death, Edward
IV., attracted by her remarkable beauty, married her in 1464.]

As one of my ancient passions, formerly, was Masquerades, I had a large
trunk of dresses by me. I dressed out a thousand young Conways and
Cholmondeleys, and went with more pleasure to see them pleased than when
I formerly delighted in that diversion myself. It has cost me a great
headache, and I shall probably never go to another. A symptom appeared
of the change that has happened in the people.

The mob was beyond all belief: they held flambeaux to the windows of
every coach, and demanded to have the masks pulled off and put on at
their pleasure, but with extreme good-humour and civility. I was with my
Lady Hertford and two of her daughters, in their coach: the mob took me
for Lord Hertford, and huzzaed and blessed me! One fellow cried out,
"Are you for Wilkes?" another said, "D--n you, you fool, what has Wilkes
to do with a Masquerade?"

In good truth, that stock is fallen very low. The Court has recovered a
majority of seventy-five in the House of Commons; and the party has
succeeded so ill in the Lords, that my Lord Chatham has betaken himself
to the gout, and appears no more. What Wilkes may do at his enlargement
in April, I don't know, but his star is certainly much dimmed. The
distress of France, the injustice they have been induced to commit on
public credit, immense bankruptcies, and great bankers hanging and
drowning themselves, are comfortable objects in our prospect; for one
tiger is charmed if another tiger loses his tail.

There was a stroke of the monkey last night that will sound ill in the
ears of your neighbour the Pope. The heir-apparent of the House of
Norfolk, a drunken old mad fellow, was, though a Catholic, dressed like
a Cardinal: I hope he was scandalised at the wives of our Bishops.

So you agree with me, and don't think that the crusado from Russia will
recover the Holy Land! It is a pity; for, if the Turks kept it a little
longer, I doubt it will be the Holy Land no longer. When Rome totters,
poor Jerusalem! As to your Count Orloff's[1] denying the murder of the
late Czar, it is no more than every felon does at the Old Bailey. If I
could write like Shakspeare, I would make Peter's ghost perch on the
dome of Sancta Sophia, and, when the Russian fleet comes in sight, roar,
with a voice of thunder that should reach to Petersburg,

     Let me sit heavy on thy soul to-morrow!

[Footnote 1: Count Orloff was one of the Czarina's earlier lovers, and
was universally understood to have been the principal agent in the
murder of her husband.]

We have had two or three simpletons return from Russia, charmed with the
murderess, believing her innocent, _because_ she spoke graciously to
_them_ in the drawing-room. I don't know what the present Grand
Signior's name is, Osman, or Mustapha, or what, but I am extremely on
his side against Catherine of Zerbst; and I never intend to ask him for
a farthing, nor write panegyrics on him for pay, like Voltaire and
Diderot; so you need not say a word to him of my good wishes. Benedict
XIV. deserved my friendship, but being a sound Protestant, one would
not, you know, make all Turk and Pagan and Infidel princes too familiar.


_From a mezzotint by J. Simon after a picture by Sir Godfrey Kneller_]



STRAWBERRY HILL, _May_ 6, 1770.

I don't know whether Wilkes is subdued by his imprisonment, or waits for
the rising of Parliament, to take the field; or whether his dignity of
Alderman has dulled him into prudence, and the love of feasting; but
hitherto he has done nothing but go to City banquets and sermons, and
sit at Guildhall as a sober magistrate. With an inversion of the
proverb, "Si ex quovis Mercurio fit lignum!" What do you Italians think
of Harlequin Potesta?[1] In truth, his party is crumbled away strangely.
Lord Chatham has talked on the Middlesex election till nobody will
answer him; and Mr. Burke (Lord Rockingham's governor) has published a
pamphlet[2] that has sown the utmost discord between that faction and
the supporters of the Bill of Rights. Mrs. Macaulay[3] has written
against it. In Parliament their numbers are shrunk to nothing, and the
session is ending very triumphantly for the Court. But there is another
scene opened of a very different aspect. You have seen the accounts from
Boston. The tocsin seems to be sounded to America. I have many visions
about that country, and fancy I see twenty empires and republics forming
upon vast scales over all that continent, which is growing too mighty to
be kept in subjection to half a dozen exhausted nations in Europe. As
the latter sinks, and the others rise, they who live between the eras
will be a sort of Noahs, witnesses to the period of the old world and
origin of the new. I entertain myself with the idea of a future senate
in Carolina and Virginia, where their future patriots will harangue on
the austere and incorruptible virtue of the ancient English! will tell
their auditors of our disinterestedness and scorn of bribes and
pensions, and make us blush in our graves at their ridiculous
panegyrics. Who knows but even our Indian usurpations and villanies may
become topics of praise to American schoolboys? As I believe our virtues
are extremely like those of our predecessors the Romans, so I am sure
our luxury and extravagance are too.

[Footnote 1: Podesta was an officer in some of the smaller Italian
towns, somewhat corresponding to our mayor. The name is Italianised from
the Roman Potestas--

    Hajus, quo trahitur, praetextam sumere mavis,
    An Fidenarum, Gabiorumque esse Potestas.

(Juv., x. 100).]

[Footnote 2: The pamphlet is, "Thoughts on the Present Discontents,"
founding them especially on the unconstitutional influence of "the
King's friends."]

[Footnote 3: Mrs. Macaulay was the wife of a London physician, and
authoress of a "History of England" from the accession of James I. to
that of George I., written in a spirit of the fiercest republicanism,
but long since forgotten.]

What do you think of a winter Ranelagh[1] erecting in Oxford Road, at
the expense of sixty thousand pounds? The new bank, including the value
of the ground, and of the houses demolished to make room for it, will
cost three hundred thousand; and erected, as my Lady Townley[2] says,
_by sober citizens too_! I have touched before to you on the incredible
profusion of our young men of fashion. I know a younger brother who
literally gives a flower-woman half a guinea every morning for a bunch
of roses for the nosegay in his button-hole. There has lately been an
auction of stuffed birds; and, as natural history is in fashion, there
are physicians and others who paid forty and fifty guineas for a single
Chinese pheasant; you may buy a live one for five. After this, it is
not extraordinary that pictures should be dear. We have at present three
exhibitions. One West,[3] who paints history in the taste of Poussin,
gets three hundred pounds for a piece not too large to hang over a
chimney. He has merit, but is hard and heavy, and far unworthy of such
prices. The rage to see these exhibitions is so great, that sometimes
one cannot pass through the streets where they are. But it is incredible
what sums are raised by mere exhibitions of anything; a new fashion, and
to enter at which you pay a shilling or half-a-crown. Another rage, is
for prints of English portraits: I have been collecting them above
thirty years, and originally never gave for a mezzotinto above one or
two shillings. The lowest are now a crown; most, from half a guinea to a
guinea. Lately, I assisted a clergyman [Granger] in compiling a
catalogue of them; since the publication, scarce heads in books, not
worth threepence, will sell for five guineas. Then we have Etruscan
vases, made of earthenware, in Staffordshire, [by Wedgwood] from two to
five guineas, and _ormoulu_, never made here before, which succeeds so
well, that a tea-kettle, which the inventor offered for one hundred
guineas, sold by auction for one hundred and thirty. In short, we are at
the height of extravagance and improvements, for we do improve rapidly
in taste as well as in the former. I cannot say so much for our genius.
Poetry is gone to bed, or into our prose; we are like the Romans in
that too. If we have the arts of the Antonines,--we have the fustian

[Footnote 1: _"A winter Ranelagh._"--the Pantheon in Oxford Street.]

[Footnote 2: Lady Townley is the principal character in "The Provoked

[Footnote 3: West, as a painter, was highly esteemed by George III.,
and, on the death of Sir J. Reynolds, succeeded him as President of the
Royal Academy.]

Well! what becomes of your neighbours, the Pope and Turk? is one Babylon
to fall, and the other to moulder away? I begin to tremble for the poor
Greeks; they will be sacrificed like the Catalans, and left to be
impaled for rebellion, as soon as that vainglorious woman the Czarina
has glutted her lust of fame, and secured Azoph by a peace, which I hear
is all she insists on keeping. What strides modern ambition takes! _We_
are the successors of Aurungzebe; and a virago under the Pole sends a
fleet into the Aegean Sea to rouse the ghosts of Leonidas and
Epaminondas, and burn the capital of the second Roman Empire! Folks now
scarce meddle with their next door neighbours; as many English go to
visit St. Peter's who never thought of stepping into St. Paul's.

I shall let Lord Beauchamp know your readiness to oblige him, probably
to-morrow, as I go to town. The spring is so backward here that I have
little inducement to stay; not an entire leaf is out on any tree, and I
have heard a syren as much as a nightingale. Lord Fitzwilliam, who, I
suppose, is one of your latest acquaintance, is going to marry Lady
Charlotte Ponsonby, Lord Besborough's second daughter, a pretty,
sensible, and very amiable girl. I seldom tell you that sort of news,
but when the parties are very fresh in your memory. Adieu!



STRAWBERRY HILL, _May_ 6, 1770.

If you are like me, you are fretting at the weather. We have not a leaf,
yet, large enough to make an apron for a Miss Eve of two years old.
Flowers and fruits, if they come at all this year, must meet together as
they do in a Dutch picture; our lords and ladies, however, couple as if
it were the real _Gioventù dell' anno_. Lord Albemarle, you know, has
disappointed all his brothers and my niece; and Lord Fitzwilliam is
declared _sposo_ to Lady Charlotte Ponsonby. It is a pretty match, and
makes Lord Besborough as happy as possible.

Masquerades proceed in spite of Church and King. That knave the Bishop
of London persuaded that good soul the Archbishop to remonstrate against
them; but happily the age prefers silly follies to serious ones, and
dominos, _comme de raison_, carry it against lawn sleeves.

There is a new Institution that begins to make, and if it proceeds, will
make a considerable noise. It is a club of _both_ sexes to be erected at
Almack's, on the model of that of the men of White's. Mrs. Fitzroy, Lady
Pembroke, Mrs. Meynell, Lady Molyneux, Miss Pelham, and Miss Loyd, are
the foundresses. I am ashamed to say I am of so young and fashionable a
society; but as they are people I live with, I choose to be idle rather
than morose. I can go to a young supper, without forgetting how much
sand is run out of the hour-glass. Yet I shall never pass a triste old
age in turning the Psalms into Latin or English verse. My plan is to
pass away calmly; cheerfully if I can; sometimes to amuse myself with
the rising generation, but to take care not to fatigue them, nor weary
them with old stories, which will not interest them, as their adventures
do not interest me. Age would indulge prejudices if it did not sometimes
polish itself against younger acquaintance; but it must be the work of
folly if one hopes to contract friendships with them, or desires it, or
thinks one can become the same follies, or expects that they should do
more than bear one for one's good-humour. In short, they are a pleasant
medicine, that one should take care not to grow fond of. Medicines hurt
when habit has annihilated their force; but you see I am in no danger. I
intend by degrees to decrease my opium, instead of augmenting the dose.
Good night! You see I never let our long-lived friendship drop, though
you give it so few opportunities of breathing.



ARLINGTON STREET, _June_ 15, 1770.

I have no public event to tell you, though I write again sooner than I
purposed. The journey of the Princess Dowager to Germany is indeed an
extraordinary circumstance, but besides its being a week old, as I do
not know the motives, I have nothing to say upon it. It is much
canvassed and sifted, and yet perhaps she was only in search of a little
repose from the torrents of abuse that have been poured upon her for
some years. Yesterday they publicly sung about the streets a ballad, the
burthen of which was, _the cow has left her calf_. With all this we are
grown very quiet, and Lord North's behaviour is so sensible and moderate
that he offends nobody.

Our family has lost a branch, but I cannot call it a misfortune. Lord
Cholmondeley died last Saturday. He was seventy, and had a constitution
to have carried him to a hundred, if he had not destroyed it by an
intemperance, especially in drinking, that would have killed anybody
else in half the time. As it was, he had outlived by fifteen years all
his set, who have reeled into the ferry-boat so long before him. His
grandson seems good and amiable, and though he comes into but a small
fortune for an earl, five-and-twenty hundred a-year, his uncle the
general may re-establish him upon a great footing--but it will not be in
his life, and the general does not sail after his brother on a sea of

You have heard details, to be sure, of the horrible catastrophe at the
fireworks at Paris.[1] Francèes, the French minister, told me the other
night that the number of the killed is so great that they now try to
stifle it; my letters say between five and six hundred! I think there
were not fewer than ten coach-horses trodden to death. The mob had
poured down from the _Etoile_ by thousands and ten thousands to see the
illuminations, and did not know the havoc they were occasioning. The
impulse drove great numbers into the Seine, and those met with the most
favourable deaths.

[Footnote 1: The Dauphin had been married to the Archduchess Marie
Antoinette on May 16th, and on May 30th the city of Paris closed a
succession of balls and banquets with which they had celebrated the
marriage of the heir of the monarchy by a display of fireworks in the
Place Louis XV., in which the ingenuity of the most fashionable
pyrotechnists had been exhausted to outshine all previous displays of
the sort. But towards the end of the exhibition one of the explosives
set fire to a portion of the platforms on which the different figures
were constructed, and in a moment the whole woodwork was in a flame.
Three sides of the Place were enclosed, and the fourth was so blocked up
with carriages, that the spectators, who saw themselves surrounded with
flames, had no way to escape open. The carriage-horses, too, became
terrified and unmanageable. In their panic-stricken flight the
spectators trampled one another down; hundreds fell, and were crushed to
death by their companions; hundreds were pushed into the river and
drowned. The number of killed could never be precisely ascertained; but
it was never estimated below six hundred, and was commonly believed to
have greatly exceeded that number, as many of the victims were of the
poorer class--many, too, the bread-winners of their families. The
Dauphin and Dauphiness devoted the whole of their month's income to the
relief of the sufferers; and Marie Antoinette herself visited many of
the families whose loss seemed to have been the most severe: this
personal interest in their affliction which she thus displayed making a
deep impression on the citizens.]

This is a slight summer letter, but you will not be sorry it is so
short, when the dearth of events is the cause. Last year I did not know
but we might have a battle of Edgehill[1] by this time. At present, my
Lord Chatham could as soon raise money as raise the people; and Wilkes
will not much longer have more power of doing either. If you were not
busy in burning Constantinople, you could not have a better opportunity
for taking a trip to England. Have you never a wish this way? Think what
satisfaction it would be to me?--but I never advise; nor let my own
inclinations judge for my friends. I had rather suffer their absence,
than have to reproach myself with having given them bad counsel. I
therefore say no more on what would make me so happy. Adieu!

[Footnote 1: Edgehill was the first battle in the Great Rebellion,
fought October 23, 1642.]



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Saturday evening, Dec._ 29, 1770.

We are alarmed, or very glad, we don't know which. The Duke de Choiseul
is fallen! but we cannot tell yet whether the mood of his successors
will be peaceable or martial. The news arrived yesterday morning, and
the event happened but last Monday evening. He was allowed but three
hours to prepare for his journey, and ordered to retire to his seat at
Chanteloup; but there are letters that say, _qu'il ira plus loin_. The
Duke de Praslin is banished too--a disagreeable man; but his fate is a
little hard, for he was just going to resign the Marine to Châtelet,
who, by the way, is forbidden to visit Choiseul. I shall shed no tears
for Châtelet, the most peevish and insolent of men, our bitter enemy,
and whom M. de Choiseul may thank in some measure for his fall; for I
believe while Châtelet was here, he drew the Spaniards into the attack
of Falkland's Island. Choiseul's own conduct seems to have been not a
little equivocal. His friends maintained that his existence as a
minister depended on his preventing a war, and he certainly confuted the
Comptroller-General's plan of raising supplies for it. Yet, it is now
said, that on the very morning of the Duke's disgrace, the King
reproached him, and said "Monsieur, je vous avois dit, que je ne voulois
pas la guerre;" and the Duke d'Aiguillon's friends have officiously
whispered, that if Choiseul was out it would certainly be peace; but did
not Lord Chatham, immediately before he was Minister, protest not half a
man should be sent to Germany, and yet, were not all our men and all our
money sent thither? The Chevalier de Muy is made Secretary-at-War, and
it is supposed Monsieur d'Aiguillon is, or will be, the Minister.

Thus Abishag[1] has strangled an Administration that had lasted fourteen
years. I am sincerely grieved for the Duchess de Choiseul, the most
perfect being I know of either sex. I cannot possibly feel for her
husband: Corsica is engraved in my memory, as I believe it is on your
heart. His cruelties there, I should think, would not cheer his solitude
or prison. In the mean time, desolation and confusion reign all over
France. They are almost bankrupts, and quite famished. The Parliament
of Paris has quitted its functions, and the other tribunals threaten to
follow the example. Some people say, that Maupéou,[2] the Chancellor,
told the King that they were supported underhand by Choiseul, and must
submit if he were removed. The suggestion is specious at least, as the
object of their antipathy is the Duke d'Aiguillon. If the latter should
think a war a good diversion to their enterprises, I should not be
surprised if they went on, especially if a bankruptcy follows famine.
The new Minister and the Chancellor are in general execration. On the
latter's lately obtaining the _Cordon Bleu_,[3] this epigram appeared:--

    Ce tyran de la France, qui cherche à mettre tout en feu,
    Mérite un cordon, mais ce n'est pas le cordon bleu.

[Footnote 1: Madame du Barri.--WALPOLE.]

[Footnote 2: Maupéou was the Chancellor who had just abolished the
Parliaments, the restoration of which in the next reign was perhaps one
of the causes which contributed to the Revolution.]

[Footnote 3: The _Cordon Bleu_ was the badge of the Order of St. Louis,
established by Louis XIV.; the _cordon not_ blue was the hangman's

We shall see how Spain likes the fall of the author of the
"Family-compact."[1] There is an Empress[2] will not be pleased with
it, but it is not the Russian Empress; and much less the Turks, who are
as little obliged to that bold man's intrigues as the poor Corsicans.
How can one regret such a general _Boute-feu_?

[Footnote 1: Choiseul was the Minister when the "Family Compact" of 1761
was concluded between France and Spain. The Duc de Praslin, who shared
his fall, had been Secretary at War, and for some little time neither
his office nor that of Choiseul was filled up, but the work of their
departments was performed by Secretaries of State, the Duc d'Aiguillon,
in spite of the contempt in which he was deservedly held, being
eventually made Secretary for Foreign Affairs through the interest of
Mme. du Barri (Lacretelle, iv. 256).]

[Footnote 2: "_An Empress._" The Empress-Queen Maria Theresa, who
considered herself and her family under obligations to Choiseul for his
abandonment of the long-standing policy of enmity to the house of
Austria which had been the guiding principle of all French statesmen
since the time of Henry IV., and for the marriage of her favourite
daughter to the Dauphin.]

Perhaps our situation is not very stable neither. The world, who are
ignorant of Lord Weymouth's motives, suspect a secret intelligence with
Lord Chatham. Oh! let us have peace abroad before we quarrel any more at

Judge Bathurst is to be Lord Keeper, with many other arrangements in the
law; but as you neither know the persons, nor I care about them, I shall
not fill my paper with the catalogue, but reserve the rest of my letter
for Tuesday, when I shall be in town. No Englishman, you know, will
sacrifice his Saturday and Sunday. I have so little to do with all these
matters, that I came hither this morning, and left this new chaos to
arrange itself as it pleases. It certainly is an era, and may be an
extensive one; not very honourable to old King Capet,[1] whatever it may
be to the intrigues of his new Ministers. The Jesuits will not be
without hopes. They have a friend that made mischief _ante Helenam_.

[Footnote 1: Louis XV.--WALPOLE.]

_Jan._ 1, 1771.

I hope the new year will end as quietly as it begins, for I have not a
syllable to tell you. No letters are come from France since Friday
morning, and this is Tuesday noon. As we had full time to reason--in the
dark, the general persuasion is, that the French Revolution will produce
peace--I mean in Europe--not amongst themselves. Probably I have been
sending you little but what you will have heard long before you receive
my letter; but no matter; if we did not chat about our neighbour Kings,
I don't know how we should keep up our correspondence, for we are better
acquainted with King Louis, King Carlos, and Empresses Katharine and
Teresa, than you with the English that I live amongst, or I with your
Florentines. Adieu!



ARLINGTON STREET, _Feb._ 22, 1771.

Two days ago there began to be an alarm at the delay of the Spanish
courier, and people were persuaded that the King of Spain had refused to
ratify his ambassador's declaration; who, on the warrant of the French
King, had ventured to sign it, though expecting every hour to be
recalled, as he actually was two days afterwards. However, the night
before last, to the great comfort of Prince Masserano and our Ministers,
the ratification arrived; and, after so many delays and untoward
accidents, Fortune has interposed (for there has been great luck, too,
in the affair), and peace is again established. With you, I am not at
all clear that Choiseul was in earnest to make it. If he was, it was
entirely owing to his own ticklish situation. Other people think, that
this very situation had made him desperate; and that he was on the point
of striking a hardy stroke indeed; and meditated sending a strong army
into Holland, to oblige the Dutch to lend twelve men-of-war to invade
us. Count Welderen,[1] who is totally an anti-Gaul, assured me he did
not believe this project. Still I am very glad such a _boute-feu_ is

[Footnote 1: The Dutch Minister in England. He married a sister of Sir
John Griffin, Maid of Honour to Anne Princess of Orange.--WALPOLE.]

This treaty is an epoch; and puts a total end to all our preceding
histories. Long quiet is never probable, nor shall I guess who will
disturb it; but, whatever happens, must be thoroughly new matter, though
some of the actors perhaps may not be so. Both Lord Chatham and Wilkes
are at the end of their reckoning, and the Opposition can do nothing
without fresh fuel.

The scene that is closed here seems to be but opening in France. The
Parliament of Paris banished; a new one arbitrarily appointed;[1] the
Princes of the Blood refractory and disobedient; the other Parliament
as mutinous; and distress everywhere: if the army catches the infection,
what may not happen, when the King is despised, his agents detested, and
no Ministry settled? Some say the mistress and her faction keep him
hourly diverted or drunk; others, that he has got a new passion: how
creditable at sixty! Still I think it is the crisis of their
constitution. If the Monarch prevails, he becomes absolute as a Czar; if
he is forced to bend, will the Parliament stop there?

[Footnote 1: "_A new one appointed._" This is a mistake of Walpole's. A
new Parliament was not, nor indeed could be, appointed; but Maupéou
created six new Sovereign Courts at Arras, Blois, Chalons sur Marne,
Clermont, Lyon, and Poitiers, at which "justice should be done at the
sovereign's expense" (Lacretelle, iv. 264).]

In the mean time our most serious war is between two Operas. Mr. Hobart,
Lord Buckingham's brother, is manager of the Haymarket. Last year he
affronted Guadagni, by preferring the Zamperina, his own mistress, to
the singing hero's sister. The Duchess of Northumberland, Lady
Harrington, and some other great ladies, espoused the brother, and
without a license erected an Opera for him at Madame Cornelys's. This is
a singular dame, and you must be acquainted with her. She sung here
formerly, by the name of the Pompeiati. Of late years she has been the
Heidegger of the age, and presided over our diversions. Her taste and
invention in pleasures and decorations are singular. She took Carlisle
House in Soho Square, enlarged it, and established assemblies and balls
by subscription. At first they scandalised, but soon drew in both
righteous and ungodly. She went on building, and made her house a fairy
palace for balls, concerts, and masquerades. Her Opera, which she called
_Harmonic Meetings_, was splendid and charming. Mr. Hobart began to
starve, and the managers of the theatres were alarmed. To avoid the act,
she pretended to take no money, and had the assurance to advertise that
the subscription was to provide coals for the poor, for she has
vehemently courted the mob, and succeeded in gaining their princely
favour. She then declared her Masquerades were for the benefit of
commerce. I concluded she would open another sort of house next for the
interests of the Foundling Hospital, and I was not quite mistaken, for
they say one of her maids, gained by Mr. Hobart, affirms that she could
not undergo the fatigue of managing such a house. At last Mr. Hobart
informed against her, and the Bench of Justices, less soothable by music
than Orpheus's beasts, have pronounced against her. Her Opera is
quashed, and Guadagni, who governed so haughtily at Vienna, that, to
pique some man of quality there, he named a minister to Venice, is not
only fined, but was threatened to be sent to Bridewell, which chilled
the blood of all the Caesars and Alexanders he had ever represented; nor
could any promises of his lady-patronesses rehabilitate his courage--so
for once an Act of Parliament goes for something.

You have got three new companions;[1] General Montagu, a West Indian
Mr. Paine, and Mr. Lynch, your brother at Turin.

[Footnote 1: As Knights of the Bath.--WALPOLE.]

There is the devil to pay in Denmark. The Queen[1] has got the
ascendant, has turned out favourites and Ministers, and literally wears
the breeches, actual buckskin. There is a physician, who is said to rule
both their Majesties, and I suppose is sold to France, for that is the
predominant interest now at Copenhagen. The Czarina has whispered her
disapprobation, and if she has a talon left, when she has done with the
Ottomans, may chance to scratch the little King.

[Footnote 1: The Queen was Caroline Matilda, a sister of George III.,
and was accused of a criminal intimacy with Count Struenzee, the Prime
Minister. Struenzee, "after a trial with only a slight semblance of the
forms of justice" (to quote the words of Lord Stanhope), was convicted
and executed; and the Queen was at first imprisoned in the Castle of
Cronenburg, but after a time was released, and allowed to retire to
Zell, Hanover, where she died in 1774.]

For eight months to come I should think we shall have little to talk of,
you and I, but distant wars and distant majesties. For my part, I reckon
the volume quite shut in which I took any interest. The succeeding world
is young, new, and half unknown to me. Tranquillity comprehends every
wish I have left, and I think I should not even ask what news there is,
but for fear of seeming wedded to old stories--the rock of old men; and
yet I should prefer that failing to the solicitude about a world one
belongs to no more! Adieu!



ARLINGTON STREET, _April_ 26, 1771.

You may wonder that I have been so silent, when I had announced a war
between the House of Commons and the City--nay, when hostilities were
actually commenced; but many a campaign languishes that has set out very
flippantly. My letters depend on events, and I am like the man in the
weather-house who only comes forth on a storm. The wards in the City
have complimented the prisoners,[1] and some towns; but the train has
not spread much. Wilkes is your only gun-powder that makes an explosion.
He and his associates are more incensed at each other than against the
Ministry, and have saved the latter much trouble. The Select Committees
have been silent and were forgotten, but there is a talk now of their
making some report before the session closes.

[Footnote 1: The prisoners were Crosby, the Lord Mayor, and Oliver, one
of the aldermen, both members of Parliament. The selection of the Tower
for their imprisonment was greatly remarked upon, because hitherto that
had never been so used except for persons accused of high treason; while
their offence was but a denial of the right of the House of Commons to
arrest a liveryman within the City, and the entertaining a charge of
assault against the messenger who had endeavoured to arrest him. These
riots, which for the moment appeared likely to become formidable, arose
out of the practice of reporting the parliamentary debates, a practice
contrary to the Standing Orders of Parliament, passed as far back as the
reign of Elizabeth, but the violation of which had lately begun to be

The serious war is at last absolutely blown over. Spain has sent us word
she is disarming. So are we. Who would have expected that a courtesan at
Paris would have prevented a general conflagration? Madame du Barri has
compensated for Madame Helen, and is _optima pacis causa_. I will not
swear that the torch she snatched from the hands of Spain may not light
up a civil war in France. The Princes of the Blood[1] are forbidden the
Court, twelve dukes and peers, of the most complaisant, are banished, or
going to be banished; and even the captains of the guard. In short, the
King, his mistress, and the Chancellor, have almost left themselves
alone at Versailles. But as the most serious events in France have
always a ray of ridicule mixed with them, some are to be exiled _to_
Paris, and some to St. Germain. How we should laugh at anybody being
banished to Soho Square and Hammersmith? The Chancellor desired to see
the Prince of Conti; the latter replied, "Qu'il lui donnoit rendezvous à
la Grève."[2]

[Footnote 1: The "Princes of the Blood" in France were those who, though
of Royal descent, were not children of a king--such, for instance, as
the Dukes of Orléans and Bourbon; and they were reckoned of a rank so
inferior to the princes of the Royal Family, that, as Marie Antoinette
on one occasion told the Duke of Orléans, in a well-deserved reproof for
his factious insolence, Princes of the Blood had never pretended to the
honour of supping with the King and herself. (See the Editor's "Life of
Marie Antoinette," c. 10). Their offence, in this instance, was having
protested against the holding and the proceedings of a _Lit de Justice_,
which had been held on April 15th, about three months after the
banishment of all the members of Parliament (Lacretelle, c. 13).]

[Footnote 2: La Grève was the place of execution in Paris.

    Who has e'er been at Paris must needs know the Grève,
    The fatal retreat of th' unfortunate brave;
    Where honour and justice most oddly contribute
    To ease hero's pains by a halter and gibbet (PRIOR).]

If we laugh at the French, they stare at us. Our enormous luxury and
expense astonishes them. I carried their Ambassador, and a Comte de
Levi, the other morning to see the new winter Ranelagh [The Pantheon] in
Oxford Road, which is almost finished. It amazed me myself. Imagine
Balbec in all its glory! The pillars are of artificial _giallo antico_.
The ceilings, even of the passages, are of the most beautiful stuccos in
the best taste of grotesque. The ceilings of the ball-rooms and the
panels painted like Raphael's _loggias_ in the Vatican. A dome like the
pantheon, glazed. It is to cost fifty thousand pounds. Monsieur de
Guisnes said to me, "Ce n'est qu'à Londres qu'on peut faire tout cela."
It is not quite a proof of the same taste, that two views of Verona, by
Canaletti, have been sold by auction for five hundred and fifty guineas;
and, what is worse, it is come out that they are copies by Marlow, a
disciple of Scott. Both master and scholar are indeed better painters
than the Venetian; but the purchasers did not mean to be so well

The papers will have told you that the wheel of fortune has again
brought up Lord Holdernesse, who is made governor to the Prince of
Wales. The Duchess of Queensberry, a much older veteran, is still
figuring in the world, not only by giving frequent balls, but really by
her beauty. Reflect, that she was a goddess in Prior's days![1] I could
not help adding these lines on her--you know his end:

        Kitty, at Heart's desire,
    Obtained the chariot for a day,
      And set the world on fire.

This was some fifty-six years ago, or more. I gave her this stanza:

    To many a Kitty, Love his car
      Will for a day engage,
    But Prior's Kitty, ever fair,
      Obtained it for an age!

And she is old enough to be pleased with the compliment.

[Footnote 1: Prior died in 1721.]

My brother [Sir Edward Walpole] has lost his son; and it is no
misfortune, though he was but three-and-thirty, and had very good parts;
for he was sunk into such a habit of drinking and gaming, that the first
ruined his constitution, and the latter would have ruined his father.

Shall I send away this short scroll, or reserve it to the end of the
session? No, it is already somewhat obsolete: it shall go, and another
short letter shall be the other half of it--so, good night!



PARIS, _July_ 30, 1771.

I do not know where you are, nor where this will find you, nor when it
will set out to seek you, as I am not certain by whom I shall send it.
It is of little consequence, as I have nothing material to tell you, but
what you probably may have heard.

The distress here is incredible, especially at Court. The King's
tradesmen are ruined, his servants starving, and even angels and
archangels cannot get their pensions and salaries, but sing "Woe! woe!
woe!" instead of Hosannahs. Compiègne is abandoned; Villars Coterets[1]
and Chantilly crowded, and Chanteloup still more in fashion, whither
everybody goes that pleases; though, when they ask leave, the answer is,
"Je ne le défends ni le permets." This is the first time that ever the
will of a King of France was interpreted against his inclination. Yet,
after annihilating his Parliament, and ruining public credit, he tamely
submits to be affronted by his own servants. Madame de Beauveau, and two
or three high-spirited dames, defy this Czar of Gaul. Yet they and their
cabal are as inconsistent on the other hand. They make epigrams, sing
vaudevilles,[2] against the mistress, hand about libels against the
Chancellor [Maupéou], and have no more effect than a sky-rocket; but in
three months will die to go to Court, and to be invited to sup with
Madame du Barri. The only real struggle is between the Chancellor
[Maupéou] and the Duc d'Aiguillon. The first is false, bold, determined,
and not subject to little qualms. The other is less known, communicates
himself to nobody, is suspected of deep policy and deep designs, but
seems to intend to set out under a mask of very smooth varnish; for he
has just obtained the payment of all his bitter enemy La Chalotais'
pensions and arrears. He has the advantage, too, of being but
moderately detested in comparison of his rival, and, what he values
more, the interest of the mistress. The Comptroller-General[3] serves
both, by acting mischief more sensibly felt; for he ruins everybody but
those who purchase a respite from his mistress. He dispenses bankruptcy
by retail, and will fall, because he cannot even by these means be
useful enough. They are striking off nine millions from _la caisse
militaire_, five from the marine, and one from the _affaires
étrangères_: yet all this will not extricate them. You never saw a great
nation in so disgraceful a position. Their next prospect is not better:
it rests on an _imbécille_ [Louis XVI.], both in mind and body.

[Footnote 1: Villars Coterets was the country residence of the Duc
d'Orléans; Chantilly that of the Prince de Condé; and Chanteloup that of
the Duc de Choiseul: and the mere fact of their being in disgrace at
Court was sufficient to make them popular with the people.]

[Footnote 2: The following specimen of these vaudevilles was given by
Madame du Deffand to Walpole:--

    "L'avez-vous vue, ma Du Barry,
       Elle a ravi mon áme;
       Pour elle j'ai perdu l'esprit,
       Des Français j'ai le blâme:
    Charmants enfans de la Gourdon,
    Est-elle chez vous maintenant?
       Je suis le Roi,
    Soulagez mon martyre;
       Elle est à moi,
     Je suis son pauvre Sire.
    L'avez-vous vue," &c.

    "Je sais qu'autrefois les laquais
    On fêté ses jeunes attraits;
       Que les cochers,
       Les perruquiers,
    L'aimaient, l'aimaient d'amour extrême,
     Mais pas autant que je l'aime.
    L'avez-vous vue," &c.]

[Footnote 3: The Comptroller-General was the Abbé Terrai, notoriously as
corrupt as he was incompetent. One of his measures, reducing the
interest on the Debt by one-half, was tantamount to an act of
bankruptcy; but the national levity comforted itself by jests, and one
evening, when the pit at the theatre was crowded to suffocation, one of
the sufferers carried the company with him by shouting out a suggestion
to send for the Abbé Terrai to reduce them all to one-half their size.]



Paris, _August_ 5, 1771.

It is a great satisfaction to me to find by your letter of the 30th,
that you have had no return of your gout. I have been assured here, that
the best remedy is to cut one's nails in hot water. It is, I fear, as
certain as any other remedy! It would at least be so here, if their
bodies were of a piece with their understandings; or if both were as
curable as they are the contrary. Your prophecy, I doubt, is not better
founded than the prescription. I may be lame; but I shall never be a
duck, nor deal in the garbage of the Alley.

I envy your _Strawberry tide_, and need not say how much I wish I was
there to receive you. Methinks, I should be as glad of a little grass,
as a seaman after a long voyage. Yet English gardening gains ground here
prodigiously--not much at a time, indeed--I have literally seen one,
that is exactly like a tailor's paper of patterns. There is a Monsieur
Boutin, who has tacked a piece of what he calls an English garden to a
set of stone terraces, with steps of turf. There are three or four very
high hills, almost as high as, and exactly in the shape of, a tansy
pudding. You squeeze between these and a river, that is conducted at
obtuse angles in a stone channel, and supplied by a pump; and when
walnuts come in I suppose it will be navigable. In a corner enclosed by
a chalk wall are the samples I mentioned; there is a strip of grass,
another of corn, and a third _en friche_, exactly in the order of beds
in a nursery. They have translated Mr. Whately's book,[1] and the Lord
knows what barbarism is going to be laid at our door. This new
_Anglomanie_ will literally be _mad English_.

[Footnote 1: Mr. Whately, the Secretary to the Treasury, had published
an essay on Gardening.]

New _arrêts_, new retrenchments, new misery, stalk forth every day. The
Parliament of Besançon is dissolved; so are the _grenadiers de France_.
The King's tradesmen are all bankrupt; no pensions are paid, and
everybody is reforming their suppers and equipages. Despotism makes
converts faster than ever Christianity did. Louis _Quinze_ is the true
_rex Christianissimus_, and has ten times more success than his
dragooning great-grandfather. Adieu, my dear Sir! Yours most faithfully.

_Friday 9th._

... It is very singular that I have not half the satisfaction in going
into churches and convents that I used to have. The consciousness that
the vision is dispelled, the want of fervour so obvious in the
religious, the solitude that one knows proceeds from contempt, not from
contemplation, make those places appear like abandoned theatres destined
to destruction. The monks trot about as if they had not long to stay
there; and what used to be holy gloom is now but dirt and darkness.
There is no more deception than in a tragedy acted by candle-snuffers.
One is sorry to think that an empire of common sense would not be very
picturesque; for, as there is nothing but taste that can compensate for
the imagination of madness, I doubt there will never be twenty men of
taste for twenty thousand madmen. The world will no more see Athens,
Rome, and the Medici again, than a succession of five good emperors,
like Nerva, Trajan, Adrian, and the two Antonines.

_August_ 13.

Mr. Edmonson has called on me; and, as he sets out to-morrow, I can
safely trust my letter to him. I have, I own, been much shocked at
reading Gray's[1] death in the papers. 'Tis an hour that makes one
forget any subject of complaint, especially towards one with whom I
lived in friendship from thirteen years old. As self lies so rooted in
self, no doubt the nearness of our ages made the stroke recoil to my own
breast; and having so little expected his death, it is plain how little
I expect my own. Yet to you, who of all men living are the most
forgiving, I need not excuse the concern I feel. I fear most men ought
to apologise for their want of feeling, instead of palliating that
sensation when they have it. I thought that what I had seen of the world
had hardened my heart; but I find that it had formed my language, not
extinguished my tenderness. In short, I am really shocked--nay, I am
hurt at my own weakness, as I perceive that when I love anybody, it is
for my life; and I have had too much reason not to wish that such a
disposition may very seldom be put to the trial. You, at least, are the
only person to whom I would venture to make such a confession.

[Footnote 1: Gray died of gout in the stomach on July 30th. He was only

Adieu! my dear Sir! Let me know when I arrive, which will be about the
last day of the month, when I am likely to see you. I have much to say
to you. Of being here I am most heartily tired, and nothing but this
dear old woman should keep me here an hour--I am weary of them to
death--but that is not new! Yours ever.



ARLINGTON STREET, _Jan._ 28, 1772.

It is long indeed, dear Sir, since we corresponded. I should not have
been silent if I had anything worth telling you in your way; but I grow
such an antiquity myself, that I think I am less fond of what remains of
our predecessors.

I thank you for Bannerman's proposal; I mean, for taking the trouble to
send it, for I am not at all disposed to subscribe. I thank you more for
the note on King Edward; I mean, too, for your friendship in thinking of
me. Of Dean Milles I cannot trouble myself to think any more. His piece
is at Strawberry: perhaps I may look at it for the sake of your note.
The bad weather keeps me in town, and a good deal at home; which I find
very comfortable, literally practising what so many persons pretend they
intend, being quiet and enjoying my fire-side in my elderly days.

Mr. Mason has shown me the relics of poor Mr. Gray. I am sadly
disappointed at finding them so very inconsiderable. He always
persisted, when I inquired about his writings, that he had nothing by
him. I own I doubted. I am grieved he was so very near exact--I speak
of my own satisfaction; as to his genius, what he published during his
life will establish his fame as long as our language lasts, and there is
a man of genius left. There is a silly fellow, I don't know who, that
has published a volume of Letters on the English Nation, with characters
of our modern authors. He has talked such nonsense on Mr. Gray, that I
have no patience with the compliments he has paid me. He must have an
excellent taste! and gives me a woful opinion of my own trifles, when he
likes them, and cannot see the beauties of a poet that ought to be
ranked in the first line.

I am more humbled by any applause in the present age, than by hosts of
such critics as Dean Milles. Is not Garrick reckoned a tolerable actor?
His Cymon, his prologues and epilogues, and forty such pieces of trash,
are below mediocrity, and yet delight the mob in the boxes as well as in
the footman's gallery. I do not mention the things written in his
praise; because he writes most of them himself. But you know any one
popular merit can confer all merit. Two women talking of Wilkes, one
said he squinted--t'other replied, "Squints!--well, if he does, it is
not more than a man should squint." For my part, I can see how extremely
well Garrick acts, without thinking him six feet high.[1]

[Footnote 1: He is quoting Churchill's "Rosciad"--

    When the pure genuine flame, by nature taught,
    Springs into sense, and every action's thought;
    Before such merit all objections fly,
    Pritchard's genteel, and Garrick six feet high--

the great actor being a short man.]

It is said Shakespeare was a bad actor; why do not his divine plays make
our wise judges conclude that he was a good one? They have not a proof
of the contrary, as they have in Garrick's works--but what is it to you
or me what he is? We may see him act with pleasure, and nothing obliges
us to read his writings.



ARLINGTON STREET, _April_ 9, 1772.

It is uncommon for _me_ to send _you_ news of the Pretender. He has been
married in Paris by proxy, to a Princess of Stolberg. All that I can
learn of her is, that she is niece to a Princess of Salm, whom I knew
there, without knowing any more of her. The new Pretendress is said to
be but sixteen, and a Lutheran: I doubt the latter; if the former is
true, I suppose they mean to carry on the breed in the way it began, by
a spurious child. A Fitz-Pretender is an excellent continuation of the
patriarchal line. Mr. Chute says, when the Royal Family are prevented
from marrying,[1] it is a right time for the Stuarts to marry. This
event seems to explain the Pretender's disappearance last autumn; and
though they sent him back from Paris, they may not dislike the
propagation of thorns in our side.

[Footnote 1: In a previous letter Walpole mentions the enactment of the
Royal Marriage Act by a very narrow majority, after more than one
violent debate. It had been insisted on by the King, who was highly
indignant at his brothers, the Dukes of Gloucester and Cumberland,
having married two subjects. Singularly enough they were both widows,
Lady Waldegrave and Mrs. Horton. And this Act made the consent of the
sovereign indispensable to the marriage of any member of the Royal
Family except the descendants of princesses married to foreign princes.]

I hear the credit of the French Chancellor declines. He had strongly
taken up the clergy; and Soeur Louise,[1] the King's Carmelite daughter,
was the knot of the intrigue. The new Parliament has dared to
remonstrate against a declaration obtained by the Chancellor for setting
aside an _arrêt_ of 1762, occasioned by the excommunication of Parma.
The Spanish and Neapolitan Ministers interposed, and pronounced the
declaration an infringement of the family compact: the _arrêt_ of 1762
has been confirmed to satisfy them, and the Pope's authority, and
everything that comes from Rome, except what regards _the Penitential_,
(I do not know what that means,) restrained. This is supported by
d'Aiguillon and all the other Ministers, who are labouring the
reconciliation of the Princes of the Blood, that the Chancellor may not
have the honour of reconciling them. Perhaps the Princess of Stolberg
sprung out of my Sister Louise's cell. The King has demanded twelve
millions of the clergy: they consent to give ten. We shall see whether
Madame Louise, on her knees, or Madame du Barri will fight the better
fight. I should think the King's knees were more of an age for praying,
than for fighting.

[Footnote 1: The Soeur Louise was the youngest daughter of Louis XV.;
and, very different from her sisters, who were ill-tempered, political
intriguers. She, on the contrary, was deeply religious, and had, some
years before, taken the vows of the Carmelite order; and had fixed her
residence at the Convent of St. Denis, where she was more than once
visited by Marie Antoinette.]

The House of Commons is embarked on the ocean of Indian affairs, and
will probably make a long session. I went thither the other day to hear
Charles Fox, contrary to a resolution I had made of never setting my
foot there again. It is strange how disuse makes one awkward: I felt a
palpitation, as if I were going to speak there myself. The object
answered: Fox's abilities are amazing at so very early a period,
especially under the circumstances of such a dissolute life. He was just
arrived from Newmarket, had sat up drinking all night, and had not been
in bed. How such talents make one laugh at Tully's rules for an orator,
and his indefatigable application. His laboured orations are puerile in
comparison with this boy's manly reason. We beat Rome in eloquence and
extravagance; and Spain in avarice and cruelty; and, like both, we shall
only serve to terrify schoolboys, and for lessons of morality! "Here
stood St. Stephen's Chapel; here young Catiline spoke; here was Lord
Clive's diamond-house; this is Leadenhall Street, and this broken column
was part of the palace of a company of merchants[1] who were sovereigns
of Bengal! They starved millions in India by monopolies and plunder, and
almost raised a famine at home by the luxury occasioned by their
opulence, and by that opulence raising the price of everything, till
the poor could not purchase bread!" Conquest, usurpation, wealth,
luxury, famine--one knows how little farther the genealogy has to go. If
you like it better in Scripture phrase, here it is: Lord Chatham begot
the East India Company; the East India Company begot Lord Clive; Lord
Clive begot the Maccaronis, and they begot poverty; all the race are
still living; just as Clodius was born before the death of Julius
Caesar. There is nothing more like than two ages that are very like;
which is all that Rousseau means by saying, "give him an account of any
great metropolis, and he will foretell its fate." Adieu!

[Footnote 1: "_A company of merchants._" "A mighty prince held
domination over India; his name was Koompanee Jehan. Although this
monarch had innumerable magnificent palaces at Delhi and Agra, at
Benares, Boggleywallah, and Ahmednuggar, his common residence was in the
beautiful island of Ingleez, in the midst of the capital of which, the
famous city of Lundoon, Koompanee Jehan had a superb castle. It was
called the Hall of Lead, and stood at the foot of the mountain of Corn,
close by the verdure-covered banks of the silvery Tameez, where the
cypresses wave, and zendewans, or nightingales, love to sing"
(Thackeray, "Life of Sir C. Napier," iv. p. 158).]



ARLINGTON STREET, _Jan._ 8, 1773.

In return to your very kind inquiries, dear Sir, I can let you know,
that I am quite free from pain, and walk a little about my room, even
without a stick: nay, have been four times to take the air in the Park.
Indeed, after fourteen weeks this is not saying much; but it is a worse
reflection, that when one is subject to the gout and far from young,
one's worst account will probably be better than that after the next
fit. I neither flatter myself on one hand, nor am impatient on the
other--for will either do one any good? one must bear one's lot whatever
it be.

I rejoice Mr. Gulston has justice,[1] though he had no bowels. How
Gertrude More escaped him I do not guess. It will be wrong to rob you of
her, after she has come to you through so many hazards--nor would I hear
of it either, if you have a mind to keep her, or have not given up all
thoughts of a collection since you have been visited by a Visigoth.

[Footnote 1: Mr. Gulston now fully remunerated Mr. Cole in a valuable
present of books.--WALPOLE.]

I am much more impatient to see Mr. Gray's print, than Mr.
What-d'ye-call-him's [Masters's] answer to my "Historic Doubts."[1] He
may have made himself very angry; but I doubt whether he will make me at
all so. I love antiquities; but I scarce ever knew an antiquary who knew
how to write upon them. Their understandings seem as much in ruins as
the things they describe. For the Antiquarian Society, I shall leave
them in peace with Whittington and his Cat. As my contempt for them has
not, however, made me disgusted with what they do not understand,
antiquities, I have published two numbers of "Miscellanies," and they
are very welcome to mumble them with their toothless gums. I want to
send you these--not their gums, but my pieces, and a "Grammont,"[2] of
which I have printed only a hundred copies, and which will be extremely
scarce, as twenty-five copies are gone to France. Tell me how I shall
convey them safely.

[Footnote 1: Mr. Masters's pamphlet, printed at the expense of the
Antiquarian Society in the second volume of the

[Footnote 2: He had just published a small edition of Grammont's
Memoirs, "Augmentée de Notes et éclaircissemens nécessaires, par M.
Horace Walpole," and had dedicated it to Mme. du Deffand.]

Another thing you must tell me, if you can, is, if you know anything
ancient of the Freemasons. Governor Pownall,[1] a Whittingtonian, has a
mind they should have been a corporation erected by the popes. As you
see what a good creature I am, and return good for evil, I am engaged to
pick up what I can for him, to support this system, in which I believe
no more than in the pope: and the work is to appear in a volume of the
Society's pieces. I am very willing to oblige him, and turn my cheek,
that they may smite that, also. Lord help them! I am sorry they are such
numskulls, that they almost make me think myself something; but there
are great authors enough to bring me to my senses again. Posterity, I
fear, will class me with the writers of this age, or forget me with
them, not rank me with any names that deserve remembrance. If I cannot
survive the Milles's, the What-d'ye-call-him's [Masters's], and the
compilers of catalogues of Topography, it would comfort me very little
to confute them. I should be as little proud of success as if I had
carried a contest for churchwarden.

[Footnote 1: Thomas Pownall, Esq., the antiquary, and a constant
contributor to the "Archaeologia." Having been governor of South
Carolina and other American colonies, he was always distinguished from
his brother John, who was likewise an antiquary, by the title of

Not being able to return to Strawberry Hill, where all my books and
papers are, and my printer lying fallow, I want some short bills to
print. Have you anything you wish printed? I can either print a few to
amuse ourselves, or, if very curious, and not too dry, could make a
third number of "Miscellaneous Antiquities."

I am not in any eagerness to see Mr. What-d'ye-call-him's pamphlet
against me; therefore pray give yourself no trouble to get it for me.
The specimens I have seen of his writing take off all edge from
curiosity. A print of Mr. Gray will be a real present. Would it not be
dreadful to be commended by an age that had not taste enough to admire
his "Odes"? Is not it too great a compliment to me to be abused, too? I
am ashamed. Indeed our antiquaries ought to like me. I am but too much
on a par with them. Does not Mr. Henshaw come to London? Is he a
professor, or only a lover of engraving? If the former, and he were to
settle in town, I would willingly lend him heads to copy. Adieu!



STRAWBERRY HILL, _July_ 10, 1774.

The month is come round, and I have, besides, a letter of yours to
answer; and yet if I were not as regular as a husband or a merchant in
paying my just dues, I think I should not perform the function, for I
certainly have no natural call to it at present. Nothing in yours
requires a response, and I have nothing new to tell you. Yet, if one
once breaks in upon punctuality, adieu to it! I will not give out, after
a perseverance of three-and-thirty years; and so far I will not resemble
a husband.

The whole blood royal of France is recovered from the small-pox. Both
Choiseul and Broglie are recalled, and I have some idea that even the
old Parliament will be so. The King is adored, and a most beautiful
compliment has been paid to him: somebody wrote under the statue of
Henri Quatre, _Resurrexit_.[1]

[Footnote 1: "_Resurrexit._" A courtly picture-dealer, eager to make a
market of the new sovereign's popularity, devised even a neater
compliment to him, issuing a picture of the three sovereigns--Louis
XII., Henri IV., and the young king--with an explanation that 4 and 12
made 16.]

Lord Holland is at last dead, and Lady Holland is at the point of death.
His sons would still be in good circumstances, if they were not _his_
sons; but he had so totally spoiled the two eldest, that they would
think themselves bigots if they were to have common sense. The
prevailing style is not to reform, though Lord Lyttelton [the bad Lord]
pretends to have set the example. Gaming, for the last month, has
exceeded its own outdoings, though the town is very empty. It will be
quite so to-morrow, for Newmarket begins, or rather the youth adjourn
thither. After that they will have two or three months of repose; but if
they are not severely blooded and blistered, there will be no
alteration. Their pleasures are no more entertaining to others, than
delightful to themselves; one is tired of asking every day, who has won
or lost? and even the portentous sums they lose, cease to make
impression. One of them has committed a murder, and intends to repeat
it. He betted £1,500 that a man could live twelve hours under water;
hired a desperate fellow, sunk him in a ship, by way of experiment, and
both ship and man have not appeared since. Another man and ship are to
be tried for their lives, instead of Mr. Blake, the assassin.

Christina, Duchess of Kingston, is arrived, in a great fright, I
believe, for the Duke's nephews are going to prove her first marriage,
and hope to set the Will aside. It is a pity her friendship with the
Pope had not begun earlier; he might have given her a dispensation. If
she loses her cause, the best thing he can do will be to give her the

I am sorry all Europe will not furnish me with another paragraph. Africa
is, indeed, coming into fashion. There is just returned a Mr. Bruce,[1]
who has lived three years in the Court of Abyssinia, and breakfasted
every morning with the Maids of Honour on live oxen. Otaheite and Mr.
Banks are quite forgotten; but Mr. Blake, I suppose, will order a live
sheep for supper at Almack's, and ask whom he shall help to a piece of
the shoulder. Oh, yes; we shall have negro butchers, and French cooks
will be laid aside. My Lady Townshend [Harrison], after the Rebellion,
said, everybody was so bloodthirsty, that she did not dare to dine
abroad, for fear of meeting with a rebel-pie--now one shall be asked to
come and eat a bit of raw mutton. In truth, I do think we are ripe for
any extravagance. I am not wise enough to wish the world reasonable--I
only desire to have follies that are amusing, and am sorry Cervantes
laughed chivalry out of fashion. Adieu!

[Footnote 1: When Bruce's "Travels" were first published, his account of
the strange incidents which had occurred to him was very generally
disbelieved and ridiculed; "Baron Munchausen" was even written in
derision of them; but the discoveries of subsequent travellers have
confirmed his narrative in almost every respect.]



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Oct._ 6, 1774.

It would be unlike my attention and punctuality, to see so large an
event as an irregular dissolution of Parliament, without taking any
notice of it to you. It happened last Saturday, six months before its
natural death, and without the design being known but the Tuesday
before, and that by very few persons. The chief motive is supposed to be
the ugly state of North America,[1] and the effects that a cross winter
might have on the next elections. Whatever were the causes, the first
consequences, as you may guess, were such a ferment in London as is
seldom seen at this dead season of the year. Couriers, despatches,
post-chaises, post-horses, hurrying every way! Sixty messengers passed
through one single turnpike on Friday. The whole island is by this time
in equal agitation; but less wine and money will be shed than have been
at any such period for these fifty years.

[Footnote 1: "_America_"--the discontents in that country were caused by
Mr. Charles Townshend's policy, who, before his death, had revived Mr.
Grenville's plan of imposing taxes on the Colonies, and by the
perseverance in that policy of Lord North, who succeeded him at the
Exchequer, and who had also been First Lord of the Treasury since the
resignation of the Duke of Grafton.]

We have a new famous Bill,[1] devised by the late Mr. Grenville, that
has its first operation now; and what changes it may occasion, nobody
can yet foresee. The first symptoms are not favourable to the Court;
the great towns are casting off submission, and declaring for popular
members. London, Westminster, Middlesex, seem to have no monarch but
Wilkes, who is at the same time pushing for the Mayoralty of London,
with hitherto a majority on the poll. It is strange how this man, like a
phoenix, always revives from his embers! America, I doubt, is still more
unpromising. There are whispers of their having assembled an armed
force, and of earnest supplications arrived for succours of men and
ships. A civil war is no trifle; and how we are to suppress or pursue in
such a vast region, with a handful of men, I am not an Alexander to
guess; and for the fleet, can we put it upon casters and wheel it from
Hudson's Bay to Florida? But I am an ignorant soul, and neither pretend
to knowledge nor foreknowledge. All I perceive already is, that our
Parliaments are subjected to America and India, and must be influenced
by their politics; yet I do not believe our senators are more universal
than formerly....

[Footnote 1: Mr. Grenville's Act had been passed in 1770; but there had
been no General Election since till this year. It altered the course of
proceeding for the trial of election petitions, substituting for the
whole House a Select Committee of fifteen members; but after a time it
was found that it had not secured any greater purity of decision, but
that the votes of the Committee were influenced by considerations of the
interest of the dominant party as entirely as they had been in the days
of Sir R. Walpole. And eventually, in the present reign, Mr. D'Israeli
induced the House to surrender altogether its privilege of judging of
elections, and to submit the investigation of election petitions to the
only tribunal sufficiently above suspicion to command and retain the
confidence of the nation, namely, the Judges of the High Court of Law.
(See the Editor's "Constitutional History of England, 1760-1860," pp.

In the midst of this combustion, we are in perils by land and water. It
has rained for this month without intermission; there is sea between me
and Richmond, and Sunday was se'nnight I was hurried down to Isleworth
in the ferry-boat by the violence of the current, and had great
difficulty to get to shore. Our roads are so infested by highwaymen,
that it is dangerous stirring out almost by day. Lady Hertford was
attacked on Hounslow Heath at three in the afternoon. Dr. Eliot was shot
at three days ago, without having resisted; and the day before
yesterday we were near losing our Prime Minster, Lord North; the robbers
shot at the postillion, and wounded the latter. In short, all the
freebooters, that are not in India, have taken to the highway. The
Ladies of the Bedchamber dare not go the Queen at Kew in an evening. The
lane between me and the Thames is the only safe road I know at present,
for it is up to the middle of the horses in water. Next week I shall not
venture to London even at noon, for the Middlesex election is to be at
Brentford, where the two demagogues, Wilkes and Townshend, oppose each
other; and at Richmond there is no crossing the river. How strange all
this must appear to you Florentines; but you may turn to your
Machiavelli and Guicciardini, and have some idea of it. I am the
quietest man at present in the whole island; not but I might take some
part, if I would. I was in my garden yesterday, seeing my servants lop
some trees; my brewer walked in and pressed me to go to Guildhall for
the nomination of members for the county. I replied, calmly, "Sir, when
I would go no more to my own election, you may be very sure I will go to
that of nobody else." My old tune is,

     Suave mari magno turbantibus aequora ventis, &c.



I am just come to town, and find your letter, with the notification of
Lord Cowper's marriage; I recollect that I ought to be sorry for it, as
you will probably lose an old friend. The approaching death of the Pope
will be an event of no consequence. That old mummery is near its
conclusion, at least as a political object. The history of the latter
Popes will be no more read than that of the last Constantinopolitan
Emperors. Wilkes is a more conspicuous personage in modern story than
the Pontifex Maximus of Rome. The poll for Lord Mayor ended last night;
he and his late Mayor had above 1,900 votes, and their antagonists not
1,500. It is strange that the more he is opposed, the more he succeeds!

I don't know whether Sir W. Duncan's marriage proved Platonic or not;
but I cannot believe that a lady of great birth, and greater pride,
quarrels with her family, to marry a Scotch physician for Platonic love,
which she might enjoy without marriage. I remember an admirable
_bon-mot_ of George Selwyn; who said, "How often Lady Mary will repeat,
with Macbeth, 'Wake, Duncan, with this knocking--would thou couldst!"



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Oct._ 22, 1774.

Though I have been writing two letters, of four sides each, one of which
I enclose, I must answer your two last, if my fingers will move; and
talk to you on the contents of the enclosed.

If the Jesuits have precipitated the Pope's death,[1] as seems more than
probable, they have acted more by the spirit of their order, than by its
good sense. Great crimes may raise a growing cause, but seldom retard
the fall of a sinking one. This I take to be almost an infallible maxim.
Great crimes, too, provoke more than they terrify; and there is no
poisoning all that are provoked, and all that are terrified; who
alternately provoke and terrify each other, till common danger produces
common security. The Bourbon monarchs will be both angry and frightened,
the Cardinals frightened. It will be the interest of both not to revive
an order that bullies with arsenic in its sleeve. The poisoned host will
destroy the Jesuits, as well as the Pope: and perhaps the Church of Rome
will fall by a wafer, as it rose by it; for such an edifice will tumble
when once the crack has begun.

[Footnote 1: Pope Benedict XIV. had died in September; but there was not
any suspicion that his death had not been entirely natural.]

Our elections are almost over. Wilkes has taken possession of Middlesex
without an enemy appearing against him; and, being as puissant a monarch
as Henry the Eighth, and as little scrupulous, should, like him, date
his acts _From our Palace of Bridewell, in the tenth year of our reign_.
He has, however, met with a heroine to stem the tide of his conquests;
who, though not of Arc, nor a _pucelle_, is a true _Joan_ in spirit,
style, and manners. This is her Grace of Northumberland [Lady Elizabeth
Seymour], who has carried the mob of Westminster from him; sitting daily
in the midst of Covent Garden; and will elect her son [Earl Percy] and
Lord Thomas Clinton,[1] against Wilkes's two candidates, Lord Mahon[2]
and Lord Mountmorris. She puts me in mind of what Charles the Second
said of a foolish preacher, who was very popular in his parish: "I
suppose his nonsense suits their nonsense."

[Footnote 1: Second son of Henry, Duke of Newcastle.--WALPOLE.]

[Footnote 2: Only son of Earl Stanhope.--WALPOLE.]

Let me sweeten my letter by making you smile. A Quaker has been at
Versailles; and wanted to see the Comtes de Provence and D'Artois dine
in public, but would not submit to pull off his hat. The Princes were
told of it; and not only admitted him with his beaver on, but made him
sit down and dine with them. Was it not very sensible and good-humoured?
You and I know one who would not have been so gracious: I do not mean my
nephew Lord Cholmondeley.[1] Adieu! I am tired to death.

[Footnote 1: He means the Duke of Gloucester.--WALPOLE.]

P.S.--I have seen the Duchess of Beaufort; who sings your praises quite
in a tune I like. Her manner is much unpinioned to what it was, though
her person remains as stately as ever; and powder is vastly preferable
to those brown hairs, of whose preservation she was so fond. I am not so
struck with the beauty of Lady Mary[1] as I was three years ago. Your
nephew, Sir Horace, I see, by the papers, is come into Parliament: I am
glad of it. Is not he yet arrived at Florence?

[Footnote 1: Lady Mary Somerset, youngest daughter of Charles Noel, Duke
of Beaufort. She was afterwards married to the Duke of



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Nov._ 7, 1774.

I have written such tomes to Mr. Conway,[1] Madam, and so nothing new to
write, that I might as well, methinks, begin and end like the lady to
her husband; "Je vous écris parceque je n'ai rien à faire: je finis
parceque je n'ai rien à vous dire." Yes, I have two complaints to make,
one of your ladyship, the other of myself. You tell me nothing of Lady
Harriet [Stanhope]: have you no tongue, or the French no eyes? or are
her eyes employed in nothing but seeing? What a vulgar employment for a
fine woman's eyes after she is risen from her toilet? I declare I will
ask no more questions--what is it to me, whether she is admired or not?
I should know how charming she is, though all Europe were blind. I hope
I am not to be told by any barbarous nation upon earth what beauty and
grace are!

[Footnote 1: Mr. Conway and Lady Aylesbury were now at Paris

For myself, I am guilty of the gout in my elbow; the left--witness my
handwriting. Whether I caught cold by the deluge in the night, or
whether the bootikins, like the water of Styx, can only preserve the
parts they surround, I doubt they have saved me but three weeks, for so
long my reckoning has been out. However, as I feel nothing in my feet, I
flatter myself that this Pindaric transition will not be a regular ode,
but a fragment, the more valuable for being imperfect.

Now for my Gazette.--Marriages--Nothing done. Intrigues--More in the
political than civil way. Births--Under par since Lady Berkeley left off
breeding. Gaming--Low water. Deaths--Lord Morton, Lord Wentworth,
Duchess Douglas. Election stock--More buyers than sellers.
Promotions--Mr. Wilkes as high as he can go.--_Apropos_, he was told the
Lord Chancellor intended to signify to him, that the King did not
approve the City's choice: he replied, "Then I shall signify to his
lordship, that I am at least as fit to be Lord Mayor as he is to be Lord
Chancellor." This being more Gospel than everything Mr. Wilkes says, the
formal approbation was given.

Mr. Burke has succeeded in Bristol, and Sir James Peachey will miscarry
in Sussex. But what care you, Madam, about our Parliament? You will see
the _rentrée_ of the old one, with songs and epigrams into the bargain.
We do not shift our Parliaments with so much gaiety. Money in one hand,
and abuse in t'other--those are all the arts we know. _Wit and a
gamut_[1] I don't believe ever signified a Parliament, whatever the
glossaries may say; for they never produce pleasantry and harmony.
Perhaps you may not taste this Saxon pun, but I know it will make the
Antiquarian Society die with laughing.

[Footnote 1: Walpole is punning on the old Saxon name of the National
Council, Witangemot.]

Expectation hangs on America. The result of the general assembly is
expected in four or five days. If one may believe the papers, which one
should not believe, the other side of the waterists are not _doux comme
des moutons_, and yet we do intend to eat them. I was in town on Monday;
the Duchess of Beaufort graced our loo, and made it as rantipole as a
Quaker's meeting. _Loois Quinze_,[1] I believe, is arrived by this time,
but I fear without _quinze louis_.

[Footnote 1: This was a cant name given to a lady [Lady Powis], who was
very fond of loo, and who had lost much money at that game.]

Your herb-snuff and the four glasses are lying in my warehouse, but I
can hear of no ship going to Paris. You are now at Fontainbleau, but not
thinking of Francis I., the Queen of Sweden, and Monaldelschi. It is
terrible that one cannot go to Courts that are gone! You have supped
with the Chevalier de Boufflers: did he act everything in the world and
sing everything in the world? Has Madame de Cambis sung to you "_Sans
dépit, sans légèreté_?"[1] Has Lord Cholmondeley delivered my pacquet? I
hear I have hopes of Madame d'Olonne. Gout or no gout, I shall be little
in town till after Christmas. My elbow makes me bless myself that I am
not in Paris. Old age is no such uncomfortable thing, if one gives
oneself up to it with a good grace, and don't drag it about

    To midnight dances and the public show.

[Footnote 1: The first words of a favourite French air.--WALPOLE.]

If one stays quietly in one's own house in the country, and cares for
nothing but oneself, scolds one's servants, condemns everything that is
new, and recollects how charming a thousand things were formerly that
were very disagreeable, one gets over the winters very well, and the
summers get over themselves.



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Nov._ 24, 1774.

... A great event happened two days ago--a political and moral event;
the sudden death of that second Kouli Khan, Lord Clive.[1] There was
certainly illness in the case; the world thinks more than illness. His
constitution was exceedingly broken and disordered, and grown subject to
violent pains and convulsions. He came unexpectedly to town last Monday,
and they say, ill. On Tuesday his physician gave him a dose of laudanum,
which had not the desired effect. On the rest, there are two stories;
one, that the physician repeated the dose; the other, that he doubled it
himself, contrary to advice. In short, he has terminated at fifty a life
of so much glory, reproach, art, wealth, and ostentation! He had just
named ten members for the new Parliament.

[Footnote 1: Lord Clive had committed suicide in his house in Berkeley
Square. As he was passing through his library his niece, who was writing
a letter, asked him to mend a pen for her. He did it, and, passing on
into the next room, cut his throat with the same knife he had just used.
It is remarkable that, when little more than a youth, he had once tried
to destroy himself. In a fit, apparently of constitutional melancholy,
he had put a pistol to his head, but it did not go off. He pulled the
trigger more than once; always with the same result. Anxious to see
whether there was any defect in the weapon or the loading, he aimed at
the door of the room, and the pistol went off, the bullet going through
the door; and from that day he conceived himself reserved by Providence
for great things, though in his most sanguine confidence he could never
have anticipated such glory as he was destined to win.]

Next Tuesday that Parliament is to meet--and a deep game it has to play!
few Parliaments a greater. The world is in amaze here that no account is
arrived from America of the result of their General Congress--if any is
come it is very secret; and _that_ has no favourable aspect. The
combination and spirit there seem to be universal, and is very alarming.
I am the humble servant of events, and you know never meddle with
prophecy. It would be difficult to descry good omens, be the issue what
it will.

The old French Parliament is restored with great _éclat_.[1] Monsieur de
Maurepas, author of the revolution, was received one night at the Opera
with boundless shouts of applause. It is even said that the mob
intended, when the King should go to hold the _lit de justice_,[2] to
draw his coach. How singular it would be if Wilkes's case should be
copied for a King of France! Do you think Rousseau was in the right,
when he said that he could tell what would be the manners of any capital
city from certain given lights? I don't know what he may do on
Constantinople and Pekin--but Paris and London! I don't believe Voltaire
likes these changes. I have seen nothing of his writing for many months;
not even on the poisoning Jesuits. For our part, I repeat it, we shall
contribute nothing to the _Histoire des Moeurs_, not for want of
materials, but for want of writers. We have comedies without novelty,
gross satires without stings, metaphysical eloquence, and antiquarians
that discover nothing.

     Boeotûm in crasso jurares aere natos!

[Footnote 1: In 1770 the Chancellor, Maupéou, had abolished the
Parliament, as has been mentioned in a former note. Their conduct ever
since the death of Richelieu had been factious and corrupt. But, though
the Sovereign Courts, which Maupéou had established in their stead, had
worked well, their extinction had been unpopular in Paris; and, on the
accession of Louis XVI., the new Prime Minister, Maurepas, proposed
their re-establishment, and the Queen, most unfortunately, was persuaded
by the Duc de Choiseul to exert her influence in support of the measure.
Turgot, the great Finance Minister--indeed, the greatest statesman that
France ever produced--resisted it with powerful arguments, but Louis
yielded to the influence of his consort. The Parliaments were
re-established, and soon verified all the predictions of Turgot by
conduct more factious and violent than ever. (See the Editor's "France
under the Bourbons," iii. 413.)]

[Footnote 2: A _Lit de Justice_ was an extraordinary meeting of the
Parliament, presided over by the sovereign in person, and one in which
no opposition, or even discussion, was permitted; but any edict which
had been issued was at once registered.]

Don't tell me I am grown old and peevish and supercilious--name the
geniuses of 1774, and I submit. The next Augustan age will dawn on the
other side of the Atlantic. There will, perhaps, be a Thucydides at
Boston, a Xenophon at New York, and, in time, a Virgil at Mexico, and a
Newton at Peru. At last, some curious traveller from Lima will visit
England and give a description of the ruins of St. Paul's, like the
editions of Balbec and Palmyra; but am I not prophesying, contrary to my
consummate prudence, and casting horoscopes of empires like Rousseau?
Yes; well, I will go and dream of my visions.


... The Parliament opened just now--they say the speech talks of the
_rebellion_ of the Province of Massachusetts; but if _they-say_ tells a
lie, I wash my hands of it. As your gazetteer, I am obliged to send you
all news, true or false. I have believed and unbelieved everything I
have heard since I came to town. Lord Clive has died every death in the
parish register; at present it is most fashionable to believe he cut his
throat. That he is dead, is certain; so is Lord Holland--and so is not
the Bishop of Worcester [Johnson]; however, to show you that I am at
least as well informed as greater personages, the bishopric was on
Saturday given to Lord North's brother--so for once the Irishman was in
the right, and a pigeon, at least a dove, can be in two places at once.



ARLINGTON STREET, _Jan._ 15, 1775.

You have made me very happy by saying your journey to Naples is laid
aside. Perhaps it made too great an impression on me; but you must
reflect, that all my life I have satisfied myself with your being
perfect, instead of trying to be so myself. I don't ask you to return,
though I wish it: in truth, there is nothing to invite you. I don't want
you to come and breathe fire and sword against the Bostonians,[1] like
that second Duke of Alva,[2] the inflexible Lord George Germaine....

[Footnote 1: The open resistance to the new taxation of the American
Colonies began at Boston, the capital of Massachusetts, where, on the
arrival of the first tea-ship, a body of citizens, disguised as Red
Indians, boarded the ship and threw the tea into the sea.]

[Footnote 2: The first Duke of Alva was the first Governor of the
Netherlands appointed by Philip II.; and it was his bloodthirsty and
intolerable cruelty that caused the revolt of the Netherlands, and cost
Spain those rich provinces.]

An account is come of the Bostonians having voted an army of sixteen
thousand men, who are to be called _minutemen_, as they are to be ready
at a minute's warning. Two directors or commissioners, I don't know what
they are called, are appointed. There has been too a kind of mutiny in
the Fifth Regiment. A soldier was found drunk on his post. Gage, in his
time of _danger_, thought rigour necessary, and sent the fellow to a
court-martial. They ordered two hundred lashes. The General ordered them
to improve their sentence. Next day it was published in the _Boston
Gazette_. He called them before him, and required them on oath to abjure
the communication: three officers refused. Poor Gage is to be scapegoat,
not for this, but for what was a reason against employing him,
incapacity. I wonder at the precedent! Howe is talked of for his
successor.--Well, I have done with _you_!--Now I shall go gossip with
Lady Aylesbury.

You must know, Madam, that near Bath is erected a new Parnassus,
composed of three laurels, a myrtle-tree, a weeping-willow, and a view
of the Avon, which has been new christened Helicon. Ten years ago there
lived a Madam Riggs, an old rough humourist who passed for a wit; her
daughter, who passed for nothing, married to a Captain Miller, full of
good-natured officiousness. These good folks were friends of Miss Rich,
who carried me to dine with them at Bath-Easton, now Pindus. They caught
a little of what was then called taste, built and planted, and begot
children, till the whole caravan were forced to go abroad to retrieve.
Alas! Mrs. Miller is returned a beauty, a genius, a Sappho, a tenth
Muse, as romantic as Mademoiselle Scudéri, and as sophisticated as Mrs.
Vesey. The Captain's fingers are loaded with cameos, his tongue runs
over with _virtù_, and that both may contribute to the improvement of
their own country, they have introduced _bouts-rimes_ as a new
discovery. They hold a Parnassus fair every Thursday, give out rhymes
and themes, and all the flux of quality at Bath contend for the prizes.
A Roman vase dressed with pink ribbons and myrtles receives the
poetry,[1] which is drawn out every festival; six judges of these
Olympic games retire and select the brightest compositions, which the
respective successful acknowledge, kneel to Mrs. Calliope Miller, kiss
her fair hand, and are crowned by it with myrtle, with--I don't know
what. You may think this is fiction, or exaggeration. Be dumb,
unbelievers! The collection is printed, published.--Yes, on my faith,
there are _bouts-rimes_ on a buttered muffin, made by her Grace the
Duchess of Northumberland; receipts to make them by Corydon the
venerable, alias George Pitt; others very pretty, by Lord Palmerston;
some by Lord Carlisle: many by Mrs. Miller herself, that have no fault
but wanting metre; an Immorality promised to her without end or measure.
In short, since folly, which never ripens to madness but in this hot
climate, ran distracted, there never was anything so entertaining or so
dull--for you cannot read so long as I have been telling.

[Footnote 1: Four volumes of this poetry were published under the title
of "Poetical Amusements at a villa near Bath." The following lines are a
fair sample of the _bouts-rimes_.

    The pen which I now take and    brandish
    Has long lain useless in my     standish.
    Know, every maid, from her own  patten,
    To her who shines in glossy     sattin,
    That could they now prepare an  oglio
    From best receipt of book in    folio,
    Ever so fine, for all their     puffing,
    I should prefer a butter'd      muffin;
    A muffin Jove himself might     feast on,
    If eat with Miller at           Batheaston.

The following are the concluding lines of a poem on Beauty, by Lord

    In vain the stealing hand of Time
    May pluck the blossoms of their prime;
    Envy may talk of bloom decay'd,
    How lilies droop and roses fade;
    But Constancy's unalter'd truth,
    Regardful of the vows of youth--
    Affection that recalls the past,
    And bids the pleasing influence last,
    Shall still preserve the lover's flame
    In every scene of life the same;
    And still with fond endearments blend
    The wife, the mistress, and the friend!

"Lady Miller's collection of verses by fashionable people, which were
put into her vase at Bath-Easton, in competition for honorary prizes,
being mentioned, Dr. Johnson held them very cheap: '_Bouts-rimés_,' said
he, 'is a mere conceit, and an old conceit; I wonder how people were
persuaded to write in that manner for this lady.' I named a gentleman of
his acquaintance who wrote for the vase. JOHNSON--'He was a blockhead
for his pains!' BOSWELL--'The Duchess of Northumberland wrote.'--'Sir,
the Duchess of Northumberland may do what she pleases; nobody will say
anything to a lady of her high rank: but I should be apt to throw ...
verses in his face." (Boswell, vol. v. p. 227.)]


TO DR. GEM.[1]

[Footnote 1: Dr. Gem was an English physician who had been for some time
settled in Paris. He was uncle to Canning's friend and colleague, Mr.

ARLINGTON STREET, _April_ 4, 1776.

It is but fair, when one quits one's party, to give notice to those one
abandons--at least, modern patriots, who often imbibe their principles
of honour at Newmarket, use that civility. You and I, dear Sir, have
often agreed in our political notions; and you, I fear, will die without
changing your opinion. For my part, I must confess I am totally altered;
and, instead of being a warm partisan of liberty, now admire nothing but
despotism. You will naturally ask, what place I have gotten, or what
bribe I have taken? Those are the criterions of political changes in
England--but, as my conversion is of foreign extraction, I shall not be
the richer for it. In one word, it is the _relation du lit de justice_
that has operated the miracle. When two ministers are found so humane,
so virtuous, so excellent, as to study nothing but the welfare and
deliverance of the people; when a king listens to such excellent men;
and when a parliament, from the basest, most interested motives,
interposes to intercept the blessing, must I not change my opinions, and
admire arbitrary power? or can I retain my sentiments, without varying
the object?

Yes, Sir, I am shocked at the conduct of the Parliament--one would think
it was an English one! I am scandalised at the speeches of the
_Avocat-général_,[1] who sets up the odious interests of the nobility
and clergy against the cries and groans of the poor; and who employs his
wicked eloquence to tempt the good young monarch, by personal views, to
sacrifice the mass of his subjects to the privileges of the few--But why
do I call it eloquence? The fumes of interest had so clouded his
rhetoric, that he falls into a downright Iricism.--He tells the King,
that the intended tax on the proprietors of land will affect the
property not only of the rich, but of the poor. I should be glad to know
what is the property of the poor? Have the poor landed estates? Are
those who have landed estates the poor? Are the poor that will suffer by
the tax, the wretched labourers who are dragged from their famishing
families to work on the roads?--But _it is_ wicked eloquence when it
finds a reason, or gives a reason for continuing the abuse. The Advocate
tells the King, those abuses _presque consacrés par l'ancienneté_;
indeed, he says all that can be said for nobility, it is _consacrée par
l'ancienneté_; and thus the length of the pedigree of abuses renders
them respectable!

[Footnote 1: The _Avocat-Général_ was M. de Seguier; and, under his
guidance, the Parliament had passed the monstrous resolution that "the
_people_ in France was liable to the tax of _la taille_, and to _corvée_
at discretion" (_était tailleable et corvéable à volonté_), and that
their "liability was an article of the Constitution which it was not in
the power of even the King himself to change" ("France under the
Bourbons," iii. 422).]

His arguments are as contemptible when he tries to dazzle the King by
the great names of Henri Quatre and Sully,[1] of Louis XIV. and Colbert,
two couple whom nothing but a mercenary orator would have classed
together. Nor, were all four equally venerable, would it prove anything.
Even good kings and good ministers, if such have been, may have erred;
nay, may have done the best they could. They would not have been good,
if they wished their errors should be preserved, the longer they had

[Footnote 1: Sully and Colbert were the two great Finance Ministers of
Henry IV. and Louis XIV.]

In short, Sir, I think this resistance of the Parliament to the adorable
reformation planned by Messrs. de Turgot and Malesherbes[1] is more
phlegmatically scandalous than the wildest tyranny of despotism. I
forget what the nation was that refused liberty when it was offered.
This opposition to so noble a work is worse. A whole people may refuse
its own happiness; but these profligate magistrates resist happiness for
others, for millions, for posterity!--Nay, do they not half vindicate
Maupéou, who crushed them? And you, dear Sir, will you now chide my
apostasy? Have I not cleared myself to your eyes? I do not see a shadow
of sound logic in all Monsieur Seguier's speeches, but in his proposing
that the soldiers should work on the roads, and that passengers should
contribute to their fabric; though, as France is not so luxuriously mad
as England, I do not believe passengers could support the expense of
their roads. That argument, therefore, is like another that the Avocat
proposes to the King, and which, he modestly owns, he believes would be

[Footnote 1: Malesherbes was the Chancellor, and in 1792 he was accepted
by Louis XVI. as his counsel on his trial--a duty which he performed
with an ability which drew on him the implacable resentment of
Robespierre and the Jacobins, and which led to his execution in 1794.]

I beg your pardon, Sir, for giving you this long trouble; but I could
not help venting myself, when shocked to find such renegade conduct in a
Parliament that I was rejoiced had been restored. Poor human kind! is it
always to breed serpents from its own bowels? In one country, it chooses
its representatives, and they sell it and themselves; in others, it
exalts despots; in another, it resists the despot when he consults the
good of his people! Can we wonder mankind is wretched, when men are such
beings? Parliaments run wild with loyalty, when America is to be
enslaved or butchered. They rebel, when their country is to be set free!
I am not surprised at the idea of the devil being always at our elbows.
They who invented him, no doubt could not conceive how men could be so
atrocious to one another, without the intervention of a fiend. Don't you
think, if he had never been heard of before, that he would have been
invented on the late partition of Poland! Adieu, dear Sir. Yours most



STRAWBERRY HILL, _June_ 20, 1776.

I was very glad to receive your letter, not only because always most
glad to hear of you, but because I wished to write to you, and had
absolutely nothing to say till I had something to answer. I have lain
but two nights in town since I saw you; have been, else, constantly
here, very much employed, though doing, hearing, knowing exactly
nothing. I have had a Gothic architect [Mr. Essex] from Cambridge to
design me a gallery, which will end in a mouse, that is, in an hexagon
closet of seven feet diameter. I have been making a Beauty Room, which
was effected by buying two dozen of small copies of Sir Peter Lely, and
hanging them up; and I have been making hay, which is not made, because
I put it off for three days, as I chose it should adorn the landscape
when I was to have company; and so the rain is come, and has drowned it.
However, as I can even turn calculator when it is to comfort me for not
minding my interest, I have discovered that it is five to one better for
me that my hay should be spoiled than not; for, as the cows will eat it
if it is damaged, which horses will not, and as I have five cows and but
one horse, is not it plain that the worse my hay is the better? Do not
you with your refining head go, and, out of excessive friendship, find
out something to destroy my system. I had rather be a philosopher than
a rich man; and yet have so little philosophy, that I had much rather be
content than be in the right.

Mr. Beauclerk and Lady Di have been here four or five days--so I had
both content and exercise for my philosophy. I wish Lady Ailesbury was
as fortunate! The Pembrokes, Churchills, Le Texier, as you will have
heard, and the Garricks have been with us. Perhaps, if alone, I might
have come to you; but you are all too healthy and harmonious. I can
neither walk nor sing; nor, indeed, am fit for anything but to amuse
myself in a sedentary trifling way. What I have most certainly not been
doing, is writing anything: a truth I say to you, but do not desire you
to repeat. I deign to satisfy scarce anybody else. Whoever reported that
I was writing anything, must have been so totally unfounded, that they
either blundered by guessing without reason, or knew they lied--and that
could not be with any kind intention; though saying I am going to do
what I am not going to do, is wretched enough. Whatever is said of me
without truth, anybody is welcome to believe that pleases.

In fact, though I have scarce a settled purpose about anything, I think
I shall never write any more. I have written a great deal too much,
unless I had written better, and I know I should now only write still
worse. One's talent, whatever it is, does not improve at near
sixty--yet, if I liked it, I dare to say a good reason would not stop my
inclination;--but I am grown most indolent in that respect, and most
absolutely indifferent to every purpose of vanity. Yet without vanity I
am become still prouder and more contemptuous. I have a contempt for my
countrymen that makes me despise their approbation. The applause of
slaves and of the foolish mad is below ambition. Mine is the haughtiness
of an ancient Briton, that cannot write what would please this age, and
would not, if he could.

Whatever happens in America, this country is undone. I desire to be
reckoned of the last age, and to be thought to have lived to be
superannuated, preserving my senses only for myself and for the few I
value. I cannot aspire to be traduced like Algernon Sydney, and content
myself with sacrificing to him amongst my lares. Unalterable in my
principles, careless about most things below essentials, indulging
myself in trifles by system, annihilating myself by choice, but dreading
folly at an unseemly age, I contrive to pass my time agreeably enough,
yet see its termination approach without anxiety. This is a true picture
of my mind; and it must be true, because drawn for you, whom I would not
deceive, and could not, if I would. Your question on my being writing
drew it forth, though with more seriousness than the report
deserved--yet talking to one's dearest friend is neither wrong nor out
of season. Nay, you are my best apology. I have always contented myself
with your being perfect, or, if your modesty demands a mitigated term, I
will say, unexceptionable. It is comical, to be sure, to have always
been more solicitous about the virtue of one's friend than about one's
own; yet, I repeat it, you are my apology--though I never was so
unreasonable as to make you answerable for my faults in return; I take
them wholly to myself. But enough of this. When I know my own mind, for
hitherto I have settled no plan for my summer, I will come to you.



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Dec._ 1, 1776.

I don't know who the Englishwoman is of whom you give so ridiculous a
description; but it will suit thousands. I distrust my age continually,
and impute to it half the contempt I feel for my countrymen and women.
If I think the other half well-founded, it is by considering what must
be said hereafter of the present age. What is to impress a great idea of
us on posterity? In truth, what do our contemporaries of all other
countries think of us? They stare at and condemn our politics and
follies; and if they retain any respect for us, I doubt it is for the
sense we have had. I do know, indeed, one man who still worships us, but
his adoration is testified so very absurdly, as not to do us much
credit. It is a Monsieur de Marchais, first Valet-de-Chambre to the
King of France. He has the _Anglomanie_ so strong, that he has not only
read more English than French books, but if any valuable work appears in
his own language, he waits to peruse it till it is translated into
English; and to be sure our translations of French are admirable things!

To do the rest of the French justice, I mean such as like us, they adopt
only our egregious follies, and in particular the flower of them,
horse-racing![1] _Le Roi Pepin_, a racer, is the horse in fashion. I
suppose the next shameful practice of ours they naturalize will be the
personal scurrilities in the newspapers, especially on young and
handsome women, in which we certainly are originals! Voltaire, who first
brought us into fashion in France, is stark mad at his own success. Out
of envy to writers of his own nation, he cried up Shakspeare; and now is
distracted at the just encomiums bestowed on that first genius of the
world in the new translation. He sent to the French Academy an
invective that bears all the marks of passionate dotage. Mrs. Montagu
happened to be present when it was read. Suard, one of their writers,
said to her, "Je crois, Madame, que vous êtes un peu fâché de ce que
vous venez d'entendre." She replied, "Moi, Monsieur! point du tout! Je
ne suis pas amie de Monsieur Voltaire." I shall go to town the day after
to-morrow, and will add a postscript, if I hear any news.

[Footnote 1: "A rage for adopting English fashions (Anglomanie, as it
was called) began to prevail; and, among the different modes in which it
was exhibited, it is especially noticed that tea was introduced, and
began to share with coffee the privilege of affording sober refreshment
to those who aspired in their different ways to give the tone to French
society. A less innocent novelty was a passion for horse-racing, in
which the Comte d'Artois and the Duc de Chartres set the example of
indulging, establishing a racecourse in the Bois de Boulogne. The Count
had but little difficulty in persuading the Queen to attend it, and she
soon showed so decided a fancy for the sport, and became so regular a
visitor of it, that a small stand was built for her, which in subsequent
years provoked unfavourable comments, when the Prince obtained her leave
to give luncheon to some of their racing friends, who were not in every
instance of a character entitled to be brought into a royal presence"
(the Editor's "Life of Marie Antoinette," c. II).]

_Dec. 3rd._

I am come late, have seen nobody, and must send away my letter.



STRAWBERRY HILL, _June_ 19, 1777.

I thank you for your notices, dear Sir, and shall remember that on
Prince William. I did see the _Monthly Review_, but hope one is not
guilty of the death of every man who does not make one the dupe of a
forgery. I believe M'Pherson's success with "Ossian"[1] was more the
ruin of Chatterton[2] than I. Two years passed between my doubting the
authenticity of Rowley's poems and his death. I never knew he had been
in London till some time after he had undone and poisoned himself there.
The poems he sent me were transcripts in his own hand, and even in that
circumstance he told a lie: he said he had them from the very person at
Bristol to whom he had given them. If any man was to tell you that
monkish rhymes had been dug up at Herculaneum, which was destroyed
several centuries before there was any such poetry, should you believe
it? Just the reverse is the case of Rowley's pretended poems. They have
all the elegance of Waller and Prior, and more than Lord Surrey--but I
have no objection to anybody believing what he pleases. I think poor
Chatterton was an astonishing genius--but I cannot think that Rowley
foresaw metres that were invented long after he was dead, or that our
language was more refined at Bristol in the reign of Henry V. than it
was at Court under Henry VIII. One of the chaplains of the Bishop of
Exeter has found a line of Rowley in "Hudibras"--the monk might foresee
that too! The prematurity of Chatterton's genius is, however, full as
wonderful, as that such a prodigy as Rowley should never have been heard
of till the eighteenth century. The youth and industry of the former are
miracles, too, yet still more credible. There is not a symptom in the
poems, but the old words, that savours of Rowley's age--change the old
words for modern, and the whole construction is of yesterday.

[Footnote 1: Macpherson was a Scotch literary man, who in 1760 published
"Fingal" in six books, which he declared he had translated from a poem
by Ossian, son of Fingal, a Gaelic prince of the third century. For a
moment the work was accepted as genuine in some quarters, especially by
some of the Edinburgh divines. But Dr. Johnson denounced it as an
imposture from the first. He pointed out that Macpherson had never
produced the manuscripts from which he professed to have translated it
when challenged to do so. He maintained also that the so-called poem had
no merits; that "it was a mere unconnected rhapsody, a tiresome
repetition of the same images;" and his opinion soon became so generally
adopted, that Macpherson wrote him a furious letter of abuse, even
threatening him with personal violence; to which Johnson replied "that
he would not be deterred from exposing what he thought a cheat by the
menaces of a ruffian"--a reply which seems to have silenced Mr.
Macpherson (Boswell's "Life of Johnson," i. 375, ii. 310).]

[Footnote 2: Chatterton's is a melancholy story. In 1768, when a boy of
only sixteen, he published a volume of ballads which he described as the
work of Rowley, a priest of Bristol in the fifteenth century, and which
he affirmed he had found in an old chest in the crypt of the Church of
St. Mary Redcliffe at Bristol, of which his father was sexton. They gave
proofs of so rich and precocious a genius, that if he had published them
as his own works, he would "have found himself famous" in a moment, as
Byron did forty years afterwards. But people resented the attempt to
impose on them, Walpole being among the first to point out the proofs of
their modern composition; and consequently the admiration which his
genius might have excited was turned into general condemnation of his
imposture, and in despair he poisoned himself in 1770, when he was only
eighteen years old.]



ARLINGTON STREET, _Oct._ 26, 1777.

It is past my usual period of writing to you; which would not have
happened but from an uncommon, and indeed, considering the moment, an
extraordinary dearth of matter. I could have done nothing but describe
suspense, and every newspaper told you that. Still we know nothing
certain of the state of affairs in America; the very existence where, of
the Howes, is a mystery. The General is said to have beaten Washington,
Clinton to have repulsed three attacks, and Burgoyne[1] to be beaten.
The second alone is credited. Impatience is very high, and uneasiness
increases with every day. There is no sanguine face anywhere, but many
alarmed ones. The pains taken, by circulating false reports, to keep up
some confidence, only increase the dissatisfaction by disappointing.
Some advantage gained may put off clamour for some months: but I think,
the longer it is suspended, the more terrible it will be; and how the
war should end but in ruin, I am not wise enough to conjecture. France
suspends the blow, to make it more inevitable. She has suffered us to
undo ourselves: will she allow us time to recover? We have begged her
indulgence in the first: will she grant the second prayer?...

[Footnote 1: In June and July General Burgoyne, a man of some literary
as well as military celebrity, achieved some trifling successes over the
colonial army, alternating, however, with some defeats. He took
Ticonderoga, but one of his divisions was defeated with heavy loss at
Bennington--a disaster which, Lord Stanhope says, exercised a fatal
influence over the rest of the campaign; and finally, a week before this
letter was written, he and all his army were so hemmed in at Saratoga,
that they were compelled to lay down their arms--a disgrace which was
the turning-point of the war, and which is compared by Lord Stanhope to
the capitulation of his own ancestor at Brihuega in the war of the
Spanish Succession. The surrender of Saratoga was the event which
determined the French and Spaniards to recognise the independence of the
colonies, and consequently to unite with them in the war against

You have heard of the inundation at Petersburg. That ill wind produced
luck to somebody. As the Empress had not distressed objects enough among
her own people to gratify her humanity, she turned the torrent of her
bounty towards that unhappy relict the Duchess of Kingston, and ordered
her Admiralty to take particular care of the marvellous yacht that bore
Messalina and her fortune. Pray mind that I bestow the latter Empress's
name on the Duchess, only because she married a second husband in the
lifetime of the first. Amongst other benevolences, the Czarina lent her
Grace a courier to despatch to England--I suppose to acquaint Lord
Bristol that he is not a widower. That courier brought a letter from a
friend to Dr. Hunter, with the following anecdote. Her Imperial Majesty
proposed to her brother of China to lay waste a large district that
separates their two empires, lest it should, as it has been on the point
of doing, produce war between them; the two empires being at the two
extremities of the world, not being distance enough to keep the peace.
The ill-bred Tartar sent no answer to so humane a project. On the
contrary, he dispersed a letter to the Russian people, in which he tells
them that a woman--he might have said the Minerva of the French
_literati_--had proposed to him to extirpate all the inhabitants of a
certain region belonging to him, but that he knew better what to do with
his own country: however, he could but wonder that the people of all the
Russias should still submit to be governed by a creature that had
assassinated her husband.--Oh! if she had pulled the Ottoman by the nose
in the midst of Constantinople, as she intended to do, this savage would
have been more civilised. I doubt the same rude monarch is still on the
throne, who would not suffer Prince Czernichew to enter his territories,
when sent to notify her Majesty's _hereditary_ succession to her
husband; but bade him be told, he would not receive an ambassador from a
murderess. Is it not shocking that the law of nations, and the law of
politeness, should not yet have abrogated the laws of justice and
good-sense in a nation reckoned so civilised as the Chinese? What an age
do we live in, if there is still a country where the Crown does not take
away all defects! Good night!



STRAWBERRY HILL, _May_ 31, 1778.

I am forced to look at the dates I keep of my letters, to see what
events I have or have not told you; for at this crisis something happens
every day; though nothing very striking since the death of Lord Chatham,
with which I closed my last. No?--yes, but there has. All England, which
had abandoned him, found out, the moment his eyes were closed, that
nothing but Lord Chatham could have preserved them. How lucky for him
that the experiment cannot be made! Grief is fond, and grief is
generous. The Parliament will bury him; the City begs the honour of
being his grave; and the important question is not yet decided, whether
he is to lie at Westminster or in St. Paul's; on which it was well said,
that it would be "robbing Peter to pay Paul." An annuity of four
thousand pounds is settled on the title of Chatham, and twenty thousand
pounds allotted to pay his debts. The Opposition and the Administration
disputed zeal; and neither care a straw about him. He is already as much
forgotten as John of Gaunt.

General Burgoyne has succeeded and been the topic, and for two days
engrossed the attention of the House of Commons; and probably will be
heard of no more. He was even forgotten for three hours while he was on
the tapis, by a violent quarrel between Temple Luttrell (a brother of
the Duchess of Cumberland) and Lord George Germaine; but the public has
taken affection for neither them nor the General: being much more
disposed at present to hate than to love--except the dead. It will be
well if the ill-humour, which increases, does not break out into overt

I know not what to say of war. The Toulon squadron was certainly blown
back. That of Brest is supposed to be destined to invade some part of
this country or Ireland; or rather, it is probable, will attempt our
fleet. In my own opinion, there is no great alacrity in France--I mean,
in the Court of France--for war; and, as we have had time for great
preparations, their eagerness will not increase. We shall suffer as much
as they can desire by the loss of America, without their risk, and in a
few years shall be able to give them no umbrage; especially as our
frenzy is still so strong, that, if France left us at quiet, I am
persuaded we should totally exhaust ourselves in pursuing the vision of
reconquest. Spain continues to disclaim hostility as you told me. If the
report is true of revolts in Mexico, they would be as good as a bond
under his Catholic Majesty's hand.

We shall at least not doze, as we are used to do, in summer. The
Parliament is to have only short adjournments; and our senators, instead
of retiring to horse-races (_their_ plough), are all turned soldiers,
and disciplining militia. Camps everywhere, and the ladies in the
uniform of their husbands! In short, if the dose is not too strong, a
little adversity would not be quite unseasonable.--A little! you will
cry; why what do you call the loss of America? Oh! my dear sir, do you
think a capital as enormous as London has its nerves affected by what
happens beyond the Atlantic? What has become of all your reading? There
is nothing so unnatural as the feelings of a million of persons who live
together in one city. They have not one conception like those in
villages and in the country. They presume or despond from quite
different motives. They have both more sense and less, than those who
are not in contact with a multitude. Wisdom forms empires, but folly
dissolves them; and a great capital, which dictates to the rest of the
community, is always the last to perceive the decays of the whole,
because it takes its own greatness for health.

Lord Holdernesse is dead; not quite so considerable a personage as he
once expected to be, though Nature never intended him for anything that
he was. The Chancellor, another child of Fortune, quits the Seals; and
they are, or are to be, given to the Attorney-General, Thurlow, whom
nobody will reproach with want of abilities.

As the Parliament will rise on Tuesday, you will not expect my letters
so frequently as of late, especially if hostilities do not commence. In
fact, our newspapers tell you everything faster than I can: still I
write, because you have more faith in my intelligence; yet all its merit
consists in my not telling you fables. I hear no more than everybody
does, but I send you only what is sterling; or, at least, give you
reports for no more than they are worth. I believe Sir John Dick is much
more punctual, and hears more; but, till you displace me, I shall
execute my office of being your gazetteer.



STRAWBERRY HILL, _June_ 3, 1778.

I will not dispute with you, dear Sir, on patriots and politics. One
point is past controversy, that the Ministers have ruined this country;
and if the Church of England is satisfied with being reconciled to the
Church of Rome, and thinks it a compensation for the loss of America and
all credit in Europe, she is as silly an old woman as any granny in an
almshouse. France is very glad we have grown such fools, and soon saw
that the Presbyterian Dr. Franklin[1] had more sense than our Ministers
together. She has got over all her prejudices, has expelled the Jesuits,
and made the Protestant Swiss, Necker,[2] her Comptroller-general. It is
a little woful, that we are relapsing into the nonsense the rest of
Europe is shaking off! and it is more deplorable, as we know by repeated
experience, that this country has always been disgraced by Tory
administrations. The rubric is the only gainer by them in a few martyrs.

[Footnote 1: Dr. Franklin, as a man of science, may almost be called the
father of electrical science. He was the discoverer of the electrical
character of lightning, a discovery which he followed up by the
invention of iron conductors for the protection of buildings, &c., from
lightning. He was also a very zealous politician, and one of the leaders
of the American colonists in their resistance to the taxation imposed
first by Mr. Grenville and afterwards by Mr. C. Townshend. He resided
for several years in England as agent for the State of Pennsylvania, and
in that character, in the year 1765, was examined before the Committee
of the House of Commons on the Stamp Act of Mr. Grenville. After the
civil war broke out he was elected a member of the American Congress,
and was sent as an envoy to France to negotiate a treaty with that
country. As early as 1758 he was elected a member of the Royal Society
in England, and received the honorary degree of D.C.L. from the
University of Oxford.]

[Footnote 2: Necker was originally a banker, in which business he made a
large fortune; but after a time he turned his attention to politics. He
began by opposing the financial and constitutional schemes of the great
Turgot, and shortly after the dismissal of that Minister he himself was
admitted into the Ministry as a sort of Secretary to the Treasury, his
religion, as a Protestant, being a bar to his receiving the title of
"Comptroller-General," though, in fact, he had the entire management of
the finance of the kingdom, which, by artful misrepresentation of his
measures and suppression of such important facts, that he had contracted
loans to the amount of twenty millions of money, he represented as far
more flourishing than in reality it was. At the end of two or three
years he resigned his office in discontent at his services not receiving
the rewards to which he considered himself entitled. But in 1788 he was
again placed in office, on this occasion as Comptroller-General, and,
practically, Prime Minister, a post for which he was utterly unfit; for
he had not one qualification for a statesman, was a prey to the most
overweening vanity, and his sole principles of action were a thirst for
popularity and a belief in "the dominion of reason and the abstract
virtues of mankind." Under the influence of these notions he frittered
away the authority and dignity of the King; and, as Napoleon afterwards
truly told his grandson, was, in truth, the chief cause of all the
horrors of the Revolution.]

I do not know yet what is settled about the spot of Lord Chatham's
interment. I am not more an enthusiast to his memory than you. I knew
his faults and his defects--yet one fact cannot only not be
controverted, but I doubt more remarkable every day--I mean, that under
him we attained not only our highest elevation, but the most solid
authority in Europe. When the names of Marlborough and Chatham are still
pronounced with awe in France, our little cavils make a puny sound.
Nations that are beaten cannot be mistaken.

I have been looking out for your friend a set of my heads of Painters,
and I find I want six or seven. I think I have some odd ones in town; if
I have not, I will have deficiencies supplied from the plates, though I
fear they will not be good, as so many have been taken off. I should be
very ungrateful for all your kindnesses, if I neglected any opportunity
of obliging you, dear Sir. Indeed, our old and unalterable friendship is
creditable to us both, and very uncommon between two persons who differ
so much in their opinions relative to Church and State. I believe the
reason is, that we are both sincere, and never meant to take advantage
of our principles; which I allow is too common on both sides, and I own,
too, fairly more common on my side of the question than on yours. There
is a reason, too, for that; the honours and emoluments are in the gift
of the Crown; the nation has no separate treasury to reward its friends.

If Mr. Tyrwhitt has opened his eyes to Chatterton's forgeries,[1] there
is an instance of conviction against strong prejudice! I have drawn up
an account of my transaction with that marvellous young man; you shall
see it one day or other, but I do not intend to print it. I have taken a
thorough dislike to being an author; and if it would not look like
begging you to compliment me, by contradicting me, I would tell you,
what I am most seriously convinced of, that I find what small share of
parts I had, grown dulled--and when I perceive it myself, I may well
believe that others would not be less sharp-sighted. It is very natural;
mine were spirits rather than parts; and as time has abated the one, it
must surely destroy their resemblance to the other: pray don't say a
syllable in reply on this head, or I shall have done exactly what I said
I would not do. Besides, as you have always been too partial to me, I am
on my guard, and when I will not expose myself to my enemies, I must not
listen to the prejudices of my friends; and as nobody is more partial
to me than you, there is nobody I must trust less in that respect. Yours
most sincerely.

[Footnote 1: Mr. Tyrrhwitt, a critic of great eminence, especially as
the editor of "Chaucer," had at first believed the poems published by
Chatterton to be the genuine works of Rowley, but was afterwards
convinced, as Dr. Johnson also was, by the inspection of the manuscripts
which the poor youth called the "originals," that they were quite



STRAWBERRY HILL, _July 7_, 1778.

You tell me in yours of the 23rd of last month, which I received to-day,
that my letters are necessary to your tranquillity. That is sufficient
to make me write, though I have nothing very positive to tell you. I did
not mention Admiral Keppel's skirmish with and capture of two frigates
of the Brest squadron; not because I thought it trifling, but concluding
that it would produce immediate declaration of war; and, for the fact
itself, I knew both our papers and the French would anticipate me.
Indeed, Sir John Dick has talked to me so much of his frequency and
punctuality with you, that I might have concluded he would not neglect
so public an event; not that I trust to anybody else for sending you

No Declaration has followed on either side. I, who know nothing but what
everybody knows, am disposed to hope that both nations are grown
rational; that is, humane enough to dislike carnage. Both kings are
pacific by nature, and the voice of Europe now prefers legislators to
_heroes_, which is but a name for destroyers of their species.

It is true, we are threatened with invasion.[1] You ask me why I seem to
apprehend less than formerly? For many reasons. In the first place, I am
above thirty years older. Can one fear anything in the dregs of life as
at the beginning? Experience, too, has taught me that nothing happens in
proportion to our conceptions. I have learnt, too, exceedingly to
undervalue human policy. Chance and folly counteract most of its wisdom.
From the "Mémoires de Noailles"[2] I have learnt, that, between the
years 1740 and 1750, when I,--ay, and my Lord Chesterfield too,--had
such gloomy thoughts, France was trembling with dread of us. These are
general reasons. My particular ones are, that, if France meditated a
considerable blow, she has neglected her opportunity. Last year, we had
neither army nor a manned fleet at home. Now, we have a larger and
better army than ever we had in the island, and a strong fleet. Within
these three days, our West India and Mediterranean fleets, for which we
have been in great pain, are arrived, and bring not only above two
millions, but such a host of sailors as will supply the deficiencies in
our unequipped men-of-war. The country is covered with camps; General
Conway, who has been to one of them, speaks with astonishment of the
fineness of the men, of the regiments, of their discipline and
manoeuvring. In short, the French Court has taught all our young
nobility to be soldiers. The Duke of Grafton, who was the most indolent
of ministers, is the most indefatigable of officers. For my part, I am
almost afraid that there will be a larger military spirit amongst our
men of quality than is wholesome for our constitution: France will have
done us hurt enough, if she has turned us into generals instead of

[Footnote 1: The design of invading England, first conceived by Philip
II. of Spain and the Duke of Parma, had been entertained also by Louis
XIV.; and after Walpole's death ostentatious preparations for such an
expedition were made in 1805 by Napoleon. But some years afterwards
Napoleon told Metternich, the Austrian Prime Minister, that he had never
really designed to undertake the enterprise, being convinced of the
impossibility of succeeding in it, and that the sole object of his
preparations and of the camp at Boulogne had been to throw Austria off
her guard.]

[Footnote 2: The Duc de Noailles had been the French Commander-in-chief
at the battle of Dettingen in 1743.]

I can conceive another reason why France should not choose to venture an
invasion. It is certain that at least five American provinces wish for
peace with us. Nor can I think that thirteen English provinces would be
pleased at seeing England invaded. Any considerable blow received by us,
would turn their new allies into haughty protectors. Should we accept a
bad peace, America would find her treaty with them a very bad one: in
short, I have treated you with speculations instead of facts. I know but
one of the latter sort. The King's army has evacuated Philadelphia, from
having eaten up the country, and has returned to New York. Thus it is
more compact, and has less to defend.

General Howe is returned, richer in money than laurels. I do not know,
indeed, that his wealth is great.

Fanaticism in a nation is no novelty; but you must know, that, though
the effects were so solid, the late appearance of enthusiasm about Lord
Chatham was nothing but a general affectation of enthusiasm. It was a
contention of hypocrisy between the Opposition and the Court, which did
not last even to his burial. Not three of the Court attended it, and not
a dozen of the Minority of any note. He himself said, between his fall
in the House of Lords and his death, that, when he came to himself, not
one of his old acquaintance of the Court but Lord Despencer so much as
asked how he did. Do you imagine people are struck with the death of a
man, who were not struck with the sudden appearance of his death? We do
not counterfeit so easily on a surprise, as coolly; and, when we are
cool on surprise, we do not grow agitated on reflection.

The last account I heard from Germany was hostile. Four days ago both
the Imperial and Prussian Ministers[1] expected news of a battle. O, ye
fathers of your people, do you thus dispose of your children? How many
thousand lives does a King save, who signs a peace! It was said in jest
of our Charles II., that he was the real _father_ of his people, so many
of them did he beget himself. But tell me, ye divines, which is the most
virtuous man, he who begets twenty bastards, or he who sacrifices a
hundred thousand lives? What a contradiction is human nature! The Romans
rewarded the man who got three children, and laid waste the world. When
will the world know that peace and propagation are the two most
delightful things in it? As his Majesty of France has found out the
latter, I hope he will not forget the former.

[Footnote 1: Towards the close of 1777 Maximilian, the Elector of
Bavaria, died, and the Emperor Joseph claimed many of his fiefs as
having escheated to him. Frederic the Great, who was still jealous of
Austria, endeavoured to form a league to aid the new Elector in his
resistance to Joseph's demands, and even invaded Bohemia with an army of
eighty thousand men; but the Austrian army was equally strong. No action
of any importance took place; and in the spring of 1779 the treaty of
Teschen was concluded between the Empire, Prussia, and Bavaria, by which
a small portion of the district claimed by Joseph was ceded to Austria.]



STRAWBERRY HILL, _July_ 8, 1778.

I have had some conversation with a ministerial person, on the subject
of pacification with France; and he dropped a hint, that as we should
not have much of a good peace, the Opposition would make great clamour
on it. I said a few words on the duty of Ministers to do what they
thought right, be the consequence what it would. But as honest men do
not want such lectures, and dishonest will not let them weigh, I waived
that theme, to dwell on what is more likely to be persuasive, and which
I am firmly persuaded is no less true than the former maxim; and that
was, that the Ministers are _still_ so strong, that if they could get a
peace that would save the nation, though not a brilliant or glorious
one, the nation in general would be pleased with it, and the clamours of
the Opposition be insignificant.

I added, what I think true, too, that no time is to be lost in treating;
not only for preventing a blow, but from the consequences the first
misfortune would have. The nation is not yet alienated from the Court,
but it is growing so; is grown so enough, for any calamity to have
violent effects. Any internal disturbance would advance the hostile
designs of France. An insurrection from distress would be a double
invitation to invasion; and, I am sure, much more to be dreaded, even
personally, by the Ministers, than the ill-humours of Opposition for
even an inglorious peace. To do the Opposition justice, it is not
composed of incendiaries. Parliamentary speeches raise no tumults: but
tumults would be a dreadful thorough bass to speeches. The Ministers do
not know the strength they have left (supposing they apply it in time),
if they are afraid of making any peace. They were too sanguine in making
war; I hope they will not be too timid of making peace.

What do you think of an idea of mine of offering France a neutrality?
that is, to allow her to assist both us and the Americans. I know she
would assist only them: but were it not better to connive at her
assisting them, without attacking us, than her doing both? A treaty with
her would perhaps be followed by one with America. We are sacrificing
all the essentials we _can_ recover, for a few words; and risking the
independence of this country, for the nominal supremacy over America.
France seems to leave us time for treating. She mad no scruple of
begging peace of us in '63, that she might lie by and recover her
advantages. Was not that a wise precedent? Does not she _now_ show that
it was? Is not policy the honour of nations? I mean, not morally, but
has Europe left itself any other honour? And since it has really left
itself no honour, and as little morality, does not the morality of a
nation consist in its preserving itself in as much happiness as it can?
The invasion of Portugal by Spain in the last war, and the partition of
Poland,[1] have abrogated the law of nations. Kings have left no ties
between one another. Their duty to their people is still allowed. He is
a good King that preserves his people; and if temporising answers that
end, is it not justifiable? You, who are as moral as wise, answer my
questions. Grotius[2] is obsolete. Dr. Joseph and Dr. Frederic, with
four hundred thousand commentators, are reading new lectures--and I
should say, thank God, to one another, if the four hundred thousand
commentators were not in worse danger than they. Louis XVI. is grown a
casuist compared to those partitioners. Well, let us simple individuals
keep our honesty, and bless our stars that we have not armies at our
command, lest we should divide kingdoms that are at our _bienséance_!
What a dreadful thing it is for such a wicked little imp as man to have
absolute power! But I have travelled into Germany, when I meant to talk
to you only of England; and it is too late to recall my text. Good

[Footnote 1: A partition of Poland had been proposed by the Great
Elector of Brandenburgh as early as the middle of the seventeenth
century, his idea being that he, the Emperor, and the King of Sweden
should divide the whole country between them. At that time, however, the
mutual jealousies of the three princes prevented the scheme from being
carried out. But in 1770 the idea was revived by Frederic the Great, who
sent his brother Henry to discuss it with the Czarina. She eagerly
embraced it; and the new Emperor Joseph had so blind an admiration for
Frederic, that it was not hard to induce him to become a confederate in
the scheme of plunder. And the three allies had less difficulty than
might have been expected in arranging the details. In extent of
territory Austria was the principal gainer, her share being of
sufficient importance to receive a new name as the kingdom of Galicia;
the share of Prussia being West Prussia and Pomerania, with the
exception of Dantzic and the fortress of Thorn; while Russia took Polish
Livonia and the rich provinces to the east of the Dwina. But the
spoilers were not long contented with their acquisitions. In 1791
intrigues among the Polish nobles, probably fomented by the Czarina
herself, gave her a pretence for interfering in their affairs; and the
result was a second partition, which gave the long-coveted port of
Dantzic and a long district on the shore of the Baltic to Prussia, and
such extensive provinces adjoining Russia to Catharine, that all that
was left to the Polish sovereign was a small territory with a population
that hardly amounted to four millions of subjects. The partition excited
great indignation all over Europe, but in 1772 England was sufficiently
occupied with the troubles beginning to arise in America, and France was
still too completely under the profligate and imbecile rule of Louis XV.
and Mme. du Barri, and too much weakened by her disasters in the Seven
Years' War, for any manly counsels or indication of justice and humanity
to be expected from that country.]

[Footnote 2: Grotius (a Latinised form of Groot) was an eminent
statesman and jurist of Holland at the beginning of the seventeenth
century. He was a voluminous author; his most celebrated works being a
treatise, "De jure belli et pacis," and another on the "Truth of the
Christian Religion."]




STRAWBERRY HILL, _Oct._ 8, 1778.

As you are so earnest for news, I am concerned when I have not a
paragraph to send you. It looks as if distance augmented your
apprehensions; for, I assure you, at home we have lost almost all
curiosity. Though the two fleets have been so long at sea, and though,
before their last _sortie_, one heard nothing but _What news of the
fleets?_ of late there has been scarcely any inquiry; and so the French
one is returned to Brest, and ours is coming home. Admiral Keppel is
very unlucky in having missed them, for they had not above twenty-five
ships. Letters from Paris say that their camps, too, are to break up at
the end of this month: but we do not intend to be the dupes of that
_finesse_, if it is one, but shall remain on our guard. One must hope
that winter will produce some negotiation; and that, peace. Indeed, as
war is not declared, I conclude there is always some treating on the
anvil; and, should it end well, at least this age will have made a step
towards humanity, in omitting the ceremonial of proclamation, which
seems to make it easier to cease being at war. But I am rather making
out a proxy for a letter than sending you news. But, you see, even
armies of hundred thousands in Germany can execute as little as we; and
you must remember what the Grand Condé, or the great Prince of Orange--I
forget which--said, that unmarried girls imagine husbands are always on
duty, unmilitary men that soldiers are always fighting. One of the Duke
of Marlborough's Generals dining with the Lord Mayor, an Alderman who
sat next to him said, "Sir, yours must be a very laborious
profession."--"No," replied the General, "we fight about four hours in
the morning, and two or three after dinner, and then we have all the
rest of the day to ourselves."

The King has been visiting camps,--and so has Sir William Howe, who, one
should think, had had enough of them; and who, one should think too, had
not achieved such exploits as should make him fond of parading himself
about, or expect many hosannahs. To have taken one town, and retreated
from two, is not very glorious in military arithmetic; and to have
marched twice to Washington, and returned without attacking him, is no
addition to the sum total.

Did I tell you that Mrs. Anne Pitt is returned, and acts great grief for
her brother? I suppose she was the dupe of the farce acted by the two
Houses and the Court, and had not heard that none of them carried on the
pantomime even to his burial. Her nephew gave a little into that mummery
even to me; forgetting how much I must remember of his aversion to his
uncle. Lord Chatham was a meteor, and a glorious one; people discovered
that he was not a genuine luminary, and yet everybody in mimickry has
been an _ignis fatuus_ about him. Why not allow his magnificent
enterprises and good fortune, and confess his defects; instead of being
bombast in his praises, and at the same time discover that the
amplification is insincere? A Minister who inspires great actions must
be a great Minister; and Lord Chatham will always appear so,--by
comparison with his predecessors and successors. He retrieved our
affairs when ruined by a most incapable Administration; and we are
fallen into a worse state since he was removed. Therefore, I doubt,
posterity will allow more to his merit, than it is the present fashion
to accord to it. Our historians have of late been fond of decrying Queen
Elizabeth, in order if possible to raise the Stuarts: but great actions
surmount foibles; and folly and guilt would always remain folly and
guilt, though there had never been a great man or woman in the world.
Our modern tragedies, hundreds of them do not contain a good line; nor
are they a jot the better, because Shakspeare, who was superior to all
mankind, wrote some whole plays that are as bad as any of our present

I shall be very glad to see your nephew, and talk of you with him; which
will be more satisfactory than questioning accidental travellers.



ARLINGTON STREET, _March_ 22, 1779.

If your representative dignity is impaired westward, you may add to
your eastern titles those of "Rose of India" and "Pearl of
Pondicherry."[1] The latter gem is now set in one of the vacant sockets
of the British diadem.

[Footnote 1: The authority of the great Warren Hastings, originally
limited to five years, was renewed this year; and he signalised the
prolongation of his authority by more vigorous attacks than ever on the
French fortresses in India. He sent one body of troops against
Chandemagore, their chief stronghold in Bengal; another against
Pondicherry, their head-quarters in the south of Hindostan; while a
third, under Colonel Goddard, defeated the two Mahratta chieftains
Scindia and Holkar, and took some of their strongest fortresses.]

I have nothing to subjoin to this high-flown paragraph, that will at all
keep pace with the majesty of it. I should have left to the _Gazette_ to
wish you joy, nor have begun a new letter without more materials, if I
did not fear you would be still uneasy about your nephew. I hear he has,
_since his parenthesis_, voted again with the Court; therefore he has
probably not taken a new _part_, but only made a Pindaric transition on
a particular question. I have seen him but twice since his arrival, and
from both those visits I had no reason to expect he would act
differently from what you wished. Perhaps it may never happen again. I
go so little into the world, that I don't at all know what company he
frequents. He talked so reasonably and tenderly with regard to you, that
I shall be much deceived if he often gives you any inquietude.

The place of Secretary of State is not replenished yet. Several
different successors have been talked of. At least, at present, there is
a little chance of its being supplied by the Opposition. Their numbers
have fallen off again, though they are more alert than they used to be.
I do not love to foretell, because no Elijah left me his mantle, in
which, it seems, the gift of prophecy resides; and, if I see clouds
gathering, I less care to announce their contents to foreign
post-offices. On the other hand, it is no secret, nor one to disguise if
it were, that the French trade must suffer immensely by our captures.

Private news I know none. The Bishops are trying to put a stop to one
staple commodity of that kind, Adultery. I do not suppose that they
expect to lessen it; but, to be sure, it was grown to a sauciness that
did call for a decenter veil. I do not think they have found out a good
cure; and I am of opinion, too, that flagrancy proceeds from national
depravity, which tinkering one branch will not remedy. Perhaps polished
manners are a better proof of virtue in an age than of vice, though
system-makers do not hold so: at least, decency has seldom been the
symptom of a sinking nation.

When one talks on general themes, it is a sign of having little to say.
It is not that there is a dearth of topics; but I only profess sending
you information on events that really have happened, to guide you
towards forming a judgment. At home, we are fed with magnificent hopes
and promises that are never realized. For instance, to prove discord in
America, Monsieur de la Fayette[1] was said to rail at the Congress,
and their whole system and transactions. There is just published an
intercourse between them that exhibits enthusiasm in him towards their
cause, and the highest esteem for him on their side. For my part, I see
as little chance of recovering America as of re-conquering the Holy
Land. Still, I do not amuse you with visions on either side, but tell
you nakedly what advantage has been gained or lost. This caution
abbreviates my letters; but, in general, you can depend on what I tell
you. Adieu!

[Footnote 1: Monsieur de la Fayette was a young French marquis of
ancient family, but of limited fortune. He was a man of no ability,
civil or military, and not even of much resolution, unless a blind
fanaticism for republican principles can be called so. When the American
war broke out he conceived such an admiration for Washington, that he
resigned his commission in the French army to cross over to America and
serve with the colonists; but it cannot be said that he was of any
particular service to their cause. Afterwards, in 1789, he entered
warmly into the schemes of the leaders of the Revolution, and
contributed greatly to the difficulties and misfortunes of the Royal
Family, especially by his conduct as Commander of the National Guard,
which was a contemptible combination of treachery and imbecility.]

_Tuesday 24th._

I hear this moment that an account is come this morning of D'Estaing
with sixteen ships being blocked up by Byron at Martinico, and that
Rowley with eight more was expected by the latter in a day or two.
D'Estaing, it is supposed, will be starved to surrender, and the island
too. I do not answer for this intelligence or consequences; but, if the
first is believed, you may be sure the rest is.



STRAWBERRY HILL, _July_ 7, 1779.

How much larger the war will be for the addition of Spain, I do not
know. Hitherto it has produced no events but the shutting of our ports
against France, and the junction of nine ships from Ferrol with the
French squadron. They talk of a great navy getting ready at Cadiz, and
of mighty preparations in the ports of France for an embarkation. As all
this must have been foreseen, I suppose we are ready to resist all

The Parliament rose last Saturday, not without an open division in the
Ministry: Lord Gower, President of the Council, heading an opposition to
a Bill for doubling the Militia, which had passed the Commons, and
throwing it out; which Lord North as publicly resented. I make no
comments on this, because I really know nothing of the motives.
Thoroughly convinced that all my ideas are superannuated, and too old to
learn new lessons, I only hear what passes, pretend to understand
nothing, and wait patiently for events as they present themselves. I
listen enough to be able to acquaint you with facts of public notoriety;
but attempt to explain none of them, if they do not carry legibility in
the van.

Your nephew, who lives more in the world, and is coming to you, will be
far more master of the details. He called here some few days ago, as I
was going out to dinner, but has kindly promised to come and dine here
before he sets out. His journey is infinitely commendable, as entirely
undertaken to please you. It will be very comfortable too, as surely the
concourse of English must much abate, especially as France is
interdicted. Travelling boys and self-sufficient governors would be an
incumbrance to you, could you see more of your countrymen of more
satisfactory conversation. Florence probably is improved since it had a
Court of its own, and there must be men a little more enlightened than
the poor Italians. Scarcely any of the latter that ever I knew but, if
they had parts, were buffoons. I believe the boasted _finesse_ of the
ruling clergy is pretty much a traditionary notion, like their jealousy.
More nations than one live on former characters after they are totally

I have been often and much in France. In the provinces they may still be
gay and lively; but at Paris, bating the pert _étourderie_ of very young
men, I protest I scarcely ever saw anything like vivacity--the Duc de
Choiseul alone had more than any hundred Frenchmen I could select. Their
women are the first in the world in everything but beauty; sensible,
agreeable, and infinitely informed. The _philosophes_, except Buffon,
are solemn, arrogant, dictatorial coxcombs--I need not say superlatively
disagreeable. The rest are amazingly ignorant in general, and void of
all conversation but the routine with women. My dear and very old friend
[Madame du Deffand] is a relic of a better age, and at nearly
eighty-four has all the impetuosity that _was_ the character of the
French. They have not found out, I believe, how much their nation is
sunk in Europe;--probably the Goths and Vandals of the North will open
their eyes before a century is past. I speak of the swarming empires
that have conglomerated within our memories. _We_ dispelled the vision
twenty years ago: but let us be modest till we do so again....


Last night I received from town the medal you promised me on the Moorish
alliance.[1] It is at least as magnificent as the occasion required, and
yet not well executed. The medallist Siriez, I conclude, is grandson of
my old acquaintance Louis Siriez of the Palazzo Vecchio.

[Footnote 1: A treaty had just been concluded between the Duke of
Tuscany and the Emperor of Morocco.]

Yesterday's Gazette issued a proclamation on the expected invasion from
Havre, where they are embarking mightily. Some think the attempt will be
on Portsmouth. To sweeten this pill, Clinton has taken a fort and
seventy men--not near Portsmouth, but New York; and there were reports
at the latter that Charleston is likely to surrender. This would be
something, if there were not a French war and a Spanish war in the way
between us and Carolina. Sir Charles Hardy is at Torbay with the whole
fleet, which perhaps was not a part of the plan at Havre: we shall see,
and you shall hear, if anything passes.

_Friday night, July 16th._

Your nephew has sent me word that he will breakfast with me to-morrow,
but shall not have time to dine. I have nothing to add to the foregoing
general picture. We have been bidden even by proclamation to expect an
invasion, and troops and provisions have for this week said to have been
embarked. Still I do not much expect a serious descent. The French, I
think, have better chances with less risk. They may ruin us in detail.
The fleet is at present at home or very near, and very strong; nor do I
think that the French plan is activity:--but it is idle to talk of the
present moment, when it will be some time before you receive this. I am
infinitely in more pain about Mr. Conway, who is in the midst of the
storm in a nutshell, and I know will defend himself as if he was in the
strongest fortification in Flanders--and, which is as bad, I believe the
Court would sacrifice the island to sacrifice him. They played that
infamous game last year on Keppel, when ten thousand times more was at
stake. They look at the biggest objects through the diminishing end of
every telescope; and, the higher they who look, the more malignant and
mean the eye....

Adieu! my dear Sir. In what manner we are to be undone, I do not guess;
but I see no way by which we can escape happily out of this crisis--I
mean, preserve the country and recover the Constitution. I thought for
four years that calamity would bring us to our senses: but alas! we have
none left to be brought to. We shall now suffer a greal deal, submit at
last to a humiliating peace, and people will be content.--So adieu,
England! it will be more or less a province or kind of province to
France, and its viceroy will be, in what does not concern France, its
despot--and will be content too! I shall not pity the country; I shall
feel only for those who grieve with me at its abject state; or for
posterity, if they do not, like other degraded nations, grow callously
reconciled to their ignominy.



_Sept._ 16, 1779.

I have received your letter by Colonel Floyd, and shall be surprised
indeed if Caesar does not find his own purple a little rumpled, as well
as his brother's mantle. But how astonished was I at finding that you
did not mention the dreadful eruption of Vesuvius. Surely you had not
heard of it! What are kings and their popguns to that wrath of Nature!
How Sesostris, at the head of an army of nations, would have fallen
prostrate to earth before a column of blazing embers eleven thousand
feet high! I am impatient to hear more, as you are of the little
conflict of us pigmies. Three days after my last set out, we received
accounts of D'Estaing's success against Byron and Barrington, and of the
capture of Grenada. I do not love to send first reports, which are
rarely authentic. The subsequent narrative of the engagement is more
favourable. It allows the victory to the enemy, but makes their loss of
men much the more considerable. Of ships we lost but one, taken after
the fight as going into port to refit. Sir Charles Hardy and
D'Orvilliers have not met; the latter is at Brest, the former at
Portsmouth. I never penetrated an inch into what is to be; and into some
distant parts of our history, I mean the Eastern, I have never liked to
look. I believe it an infamous scene; you know I have always thought it
so; and the Marattas are a nation of banditti very proper to scourge the
heroes of Europe, who go so far to plunder and put themselves into their
way. Nature gave to mankind a beautiful world, and larger than it could
occupy,--for, as to the eruption of Goths and Vandals occasioned by
excess of population, I very much doubt it; and mankind prefers
deforming the ready Paradise, to improving and enjoying it. Ambition and
mischief, which one should not think were natural appetites, seem almost
as much so as the impulse to propagation; and those pious rogues, the
clergy, preach against what Nature forces us to practise (or she could
not carry on her system), and not twice in a century say a syllable
against the Lust of Destruction! Oh! one is lost in moralising, as one
is in astronomy! In the ordinance and preservation of the great
universal system one sees the Divine Artificer, but our intellects are
too bounded to comprehend anything more.

Lord Temple is dead by an accident. I never had any esteem for his
abilities or character. He had grown up in the bask of Lord Chatham's
glory, and had the folly to mistake half the rays for his own. The world
was not such a dupe; and his last years discovered a selfish
restlessness, and discovered to him, too, that no mortal regarded him
but himself.

The Lucans are in my neighbourhood, and talk with much affection of you.



BERKELEY SQUARE, _Jan._ 13, 1780.

In consequence of my last, it is right to make you easy, and tell you
that I think we shall not have a Dutch war;[1] at least, nobody seems to
expect it. What excuses we have made, I do not know; but I imagine the
Hollanders are glad to gain by both sides, and glad not to be forced to
quarrel with either.

[Footnote 1: Walpole was mistaken in his calculations. "Holland at this
time was divided by two great parties--the party of the Staatholder, the
Prince of Orange, and the party inclining to France--of which the
Pensionary, Van Bethel, was among the principal members; and this party
was so insulting in their tone and measures, that at the end of 1780 we
were compelled to declare war against them" (Lord Stanhope, "History of
England," c. 63). But the war was not signalised by any action of

What might have been expected much sooner, appears at last--a good deal
of discontent; but chiefly where it was not much expected. The country
gentlemen, after encouraging the Court to war with America, now, not
very decently, are angry at the expense. As they have long seen the
profusion, it would have been happy had they murmured sooner. Very
serious associations are forming in many counties; and orders, under
the title of petitions, coming to Parliament for correcting abuses. They
talk of the waste of money; are silent on the thousands of lives that
have been sacrificed--but when are human lives counted by any side?

The French, who may measure with us in folly, and have exceeded us in
ridiculous boasts, have been extravagant in their reception of
D'Estaing,[1] who has shown nothing but madness and incapacity. How the
northern monarchs, who have at least exhibited talents for war and
politics, must despise the last campaign of England and France!

[Footnote 1: The Comte d'Estaing was the Commander-in-chief of the
French fleet in the West Indies in the years 1777-80. But, though his
force was always superior to ours, he always endeavoured to avoid a
battle; and succeeded in that timorous policy except on two occasions,
when Lord Howe and afterwards Admiral Byron brought him to action, but
only with indecisive results.]

I am once more got abroad, but more pleased to be able to do so, than
charmed with anything I have to do. Having outlived the glory and
felicity of my country, I carry that reflection with me wherever I go.
Last night, at Strawberry Hill, I took up, to divert my thoughts, a
volume of letters to Swift from Bolingbroke, Bathurst, and Gay; and what
was there but lamentations on the ruin of England, in that era of its
prosperity and peace, from wretches who thought their own want of power
a proof that their country was undone! Oh, my father! twenty years of
peace, and credit, and happiness, and liberty, were punishments to
rascals who weighed everything in the scales of self? It was to the
honour of Pope, that, though leagued with such a crew, and though an
idolater of their archfiend Bolingbroke and in awe of the malignant
Swift, he never gave in to their venomous railings; railings against a
man who, in twenty years, never attempted a stretch of power, did
nothing but the common business of administration, and by that
temperance and steady virtue, and unalterable good-humour and superior
wisdom, baffled all the efforts of faction, and annihilated the falsely
boasted abilities of Bolingbroke,[1] which now appear as moderate as his
character was in every light detestable. But, alas! that retrospect
doubled my chagrin instead of diverting it. I soon forgot an impotent
cabal of mock-patriots; but the scene they vainly sought to disturb
rushed on my mind, and, like Hamlet on the sight of Yorick's skull, I
recollected the prosperity of Denmark when my father ruled, and compared
it with the present moment! I look about for a Sir Robert Walpole; but
where is he to be found?

[Footnote: 1 It is only the excess of party spirit that could lead
Walpole to call Bolingbroke's abilities moderate; and he had no attacks
on his father to resent, since, though Bolingbroke was in 1724 permitted
to return to England, he only received a partial pardon, and was not
permitted to take his seat in Parliament. Walpole has more reason to
pronounce his character detestable; for which opinion he might have
quoted Dr. Johnson, who, in reference to an infidel treatise which he
bequeathed to Mallet for publication, called him "a scoundrel and a
coward--a scoundrel who spent his life in charging a popgun against
Christianity, which he had not the courage to let off, but left it to a
hungry Scotchman to pull the trigger after he was dead."]

This is not a letter, but a codicil to my last. You will soon probably
have news enough--yet appearances are not always pregnancies. When there
are more follies in a nation than principles and system, they counteract
one another, and sometimes, as has just happened in Ireland, are
composed _pulveris exigui jactu_. I sum up my wishes in that for peace:
but we are not satisfied with persecuting America, though the mischief
has recoiled on ourselves; nor France with wounding us, though with
little other cause for exultation, and with signal mischief to her own
trade, and with heavy loss of seamen; not to mention how her armies are
shrunk to raise her marine, a sacrifice she will one day rue, when the
_disciplined_ hosts of Goths and Huns begin to cast an eye southward.
But I seem to choose to read futurity, because I am not likely to see
it: indeed I am most rational when I say to myself, What is all this to
me? My thread is almost spun! almost all my business here is to bear
pain with patience, and to be thankful for intervals of ease. Though
Emperors and Kings may torment mankind, they will not disturb my
bedchamber; and so I bid them and you good-night!

P.S.--I have made use of a term in this letter, which I retract, having
bestowed a title on the captains and subalterns which was due only to
the colonel, and not enough for his dignity. Bolingbroke was more than a
rascal--he was a villain. Bathurst, I believe, was not a dishonest man,
more than he was prejudiced by party against one of the honestest and
best of men. Gay was a simple poor soul, intoxicated by the friendship
of men of genius, and who thought _they_ must be good who condescended
to admire _him_. Swift was a wild beast, who baited and worried all
mankind almost, because his intolerable arrogance, vanity, pride, and
ambition were disappointed; he abused Lady Suffolk, who tried and wished
to raise him, only because she had not power to do so: and one is sure
that a man who could deify that silly woman Queen Anne, would have been
more profuse of incense to Queen Caroline, who had sense, if the Court
he paid to her had been crowned with success. Such were the men who
wrote of virtue to one another; and even that mean, exploded miser, Lord
Bath, presumed to talk of virtue too!



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Feb._ 6, 1780.

I write only when I have facts to send. Detached scenes there have been
in different provinces: they will be collected soon into a drama in St.
Stephen's Chapel. One or two and twenty counties, and two or three
towns, have voted petitions.[1] But in Northamptonshire Lord Spencer
was disappointed, and a very moderate petition was ordered. The same
happened at Carlisle. At first, the Court was struck dumb, but have
begun to rally. Counter-protests have been signed in Hertford and
Huntingdon shires, in Surrey and Sussex. Last Wednesday a meeting was
summoned in Westminster Hall: Charles Fox harangued the people finely
and warmly; and not only a petition was voted, but he was proposed for
candidate for that city at the next general election, and was accepted
joyfully. Wilkes was his zealous advocate: how few years since a public
breakfast was given at Holland House to support Lord Luttrell against
Wilkes! Charles Fox and his brother rode thence at the head of their
friends to Brentford. Ovid's "Metamorphoses" contains not stranger
transformations than party can work.

[Footnote 1: These petitions were chiefly for economical reform, for
which Burke was preparing a Bill.]

I must introduce a new actor to you, a Lord George
Gordon,--metamorphosed a little, too, for his family were Jacobites and
Roman Catholics: he is the Lilburne of the Scottish Presbyterians, and
an apostle against the Papists. He dresses, that is, wears long lank
hair about his shoulders, like the first Methodists; though I take the
modern ones to be no Anti-Catholics. This mad lord, for so all his
family have been too, and are, has likewise assumed the patronage of
Ireland. Last Thursday he asked an audience of the King, and, the moment
he was admitted into the closet, began reading an Irish pamphlet, and
continued for an hour, till it was so dark he could not see; and then
left the pamphlet, exacting a promise on royal honour that his Majesty
would finish it. Were I on the throne, I would make Dr. Monro a Groom of
my Bedchamber: indeed it has been necessary for some time; for, of the
King's lords, Lord Bolingbroke is in a mad-house, and Lord Pomfret and
my nephew ought to be there. The last, being fond of onions, has lately
distributed bushels of that root to his Militia; Mr. Wyndham will not be

By the tenor of the petitions you would think we were starving; yet
there is a little coin stirring. Within this week there has been a cast
at hazard at the Cocoa tree, the difference of which amounted to a
hundred and four-score thousand pounds. Mr. O'Birne, an Irish gamester,
had won one hundred thousand pounds of a young Mr. Harvey of Chigwell,
just started from a midshipman[1] into an estate by his elder brother's
death. O'Birne said, "You can never pay me." "I can," said the youth;
"my estate will sell for the debt." "No," said O.; "I will win ten
thousand--you shall throw for the odd ninety." They did, and Harvey won.

[Footnote 1: Mr. Harvey was afterwards Sir Eliab Harvey, one of Nelson's
captains at Trafalgar. But unfortunately he so violently resented the
appointment of Lord Cochrane, who was only a post-captain, to carry out
the attack on the French fleet in Basque Roads, which he himself, who
was an admiral, had also suggested, and used such violent and
insubordinate language towards Lord Gambier, the Commander-in-chief
(who, though a most incompetent officer, had had nothing to do with the
appointment), that it was unavoidable that a court-martial should
sentence him to be cashiered. He was, however, restored to his rank
shortly afterwards. He was member of Parliament for Essex for many
years, and died in 1830.]

However, as it is a little necessary to cast about for resources, it is
just got abroad, that about a year ago we took possession of a trifling
district in India called the Province of Oude,[1] which contains four
millions of inhabitants, produces between three and four millions of
revenue, and has an army of 30,000 men: it was scarce thought of
consequence enough to deserve an article in the newspapers. If you are
so _old-style_ as to ask how we came to take possession, I answer, by
the new law of nations; by the law by which Poland was divided. You will
find it in the future editions of Grotius, tit. "Si une terre est à la
bienséance d'un grand Prince." Oude appertained by that very law to the
late Sujah Dowla. His successors were weak men, which _in India_ is
incapacity. Their Majesties the East India Company, whom God long
preserve, have _succeeded_.

[Footnote 1: Warren Hastings claimed large arrears of tribute from Asaph
ul Dowlah, the Nabob of Oude; but Walpole was misinformed when he
understood that he had in consequence annexed the province--a measure
which was never adopted till the spring of 1857, when its annexation by
Lord Dalhousie was among the causes that led to the outbreak of the

This petty event has ascertained the existence of a certain being, who,
till now, has not been much more than a matter of faith--the Grand Lama.
There are some affairs of trade between the sovereigns of Oude and his
Holiness the Lama. Do not imagine the East India Company have leisure to
trouble their heads about religion. Their commanding officer
corresponded with the Tartar Pope, who, it seems, is a very sensible
man. The Attorney-General asked this officer, who is come over, how the
Lama wrote. "Oh," said he, "like any person."--"Could I see his
letters?" said Mr. Wedderburne.--"Upon my word," said the officer, "when
the business was settled, I threw them into the fire." However, I hear
that somebody, not quite so mercantile, has published one of the Lama's
letters in the "Philosophical Transactions." Well! when we break in
Europe, we may pack up and remove to India, and be emperors again!

Do you believe me, my good Sir, when I tell you all these strange tales?
Do you think me distracted, or that your country is so? Does not this
letter seem an olio composed of ingredients picked out of the history of
Charles I., of Clodius and Sesostris, and the "Arabian Nights"? Yet I
could have coloured it higher without trespassing on truth; but when I,
inured to the climate of my own country, can scarcely believe what I
hear and see, how should you, who converse only with the ordinary race
of men and women, give credit to what I have ventured to relate, merely
because in forty years I have constantly endeavoured to tell you nothing
but truth? Moreover, I commonly reserve passages that are not of public
notoriety, not having the smallest inclination to put the credulity of
foreign post-offices to the test. I would have them think that we are
only mad with valour, and that Lord Chatham's cloak has been divided
into shreds no bigger than a silver penny amongst our soldiers and
sailors. Adieu!



BERKELEY SQUARE, _March_ 3, 1780.

As my last letter probably alarmed you, I write again to tell you that
nothing decisive has happened. The troops of the Palace even rallied a
little yesterday on Mr. Burke's Bill of Reformation, or Reduction, yet
with evident symptoms of _caution_; for Lord North, who wished to defer
the second reading, ventured to put it only to next Wednesday, instead
of to-day; and would have carried a longer adjournment with still
greater difficulty, for his majority was but of 35, and the minority
remained 195, a very formidable number. The Associations in the counties
increase, though not rapidly: yet it will be difficult for the Court to
stem such a torrent; and, I imagine, full as difficult for any man of
temper to direct them wholesomely. Ireland is still more impetuous.

Fortunately, happily, the tide abroad seems turned. Sir George Rodney's
victory[1] proves more considerable than it appeared at first. It
secures Gibraltar, eases your Mediterranean a little, and must vex the
Spaniards and their monarch, not satisfied before with his cousin of
Bourbon. Admiral Parker has had great success too amongst the latter's
transports. Oh! that all these elements of mischief may jumble into
peace! Monsieur Necker[2] alone shines in the quarter of France; but he
is carrying the war into the domains of the Church, where one cannot
help wishing him success. If he can root out monks, the Pope will have
less occasion to allow _gras_, because we cannot supply them with
_maigre_. It is droll that the Protestant Necker, and we Protestant
fishmongers, should overset the system of fasting; but ancient Alcorans
could not foresee modern contingencies.

[Footnote 1: On January 8th Sir George Rodney defeated the Spanish
fleet, which was on its way to join the force blockading Gibraltar, and
took the commander himself, Don Juan de Langara, prisoner.]

[Footnote 2: Necker's measure, to which Walpole alludes, was the
imposition of a property tax of 5 per cent. on all classes, even on the

I have told you that politics absorb all private news. I am going to a
ball this evening, which the Duke and Duchess of Bolton give to their
Royal Highnesses of Gloucester, who have now a very numerous Court. It
seems very improper for me to be at a ball; but you see that, on the
contrary, it is propriety that carries me thither. I am heartily weary
both of diversions and politics, and am more than half inclined to
retire to Strawberry. I have renounced dining abroad, and hide myself as
much as I can; but can one pin on one's breast a label to signify, that,
though one is sensible of being Methusalem in constitution, one must
sometimes be seen in a crowd for such and such reasons? I do often
exaggerate my pleas of bad health; and, could I live entirely alone,
would proclaim myself incurable; but, should one repent, one becomes
ridiculous by returning to the world; or one must have a companion,
which I never will have; or one opens a door to legatees, if one
advertises ill-health. Well! I must act with as much common sense as I
can; and, when one takes no part, one must temper one's conduct; and,
when the world is too young for one, not shock it, nor contradict it,
nor affix a peculiar character, but trust to its indifference for not
drawing notice, when one does not desire to be noticed. Rabelais's "Fais
ce que tu voudras" is not very difficult when one wishes to do nothing.
I have always been offended at those who will belong to a world with
which they have nothing to do. I have perceived that every age has not
only a new language and new modes, but a new way of articulating. At
first I thought myself grown deaf when with young people; but perceived
that I understood my contemporaries, though they whispered. Well! I must
go amongst those I do not comprehend so well, but shall leave them when
they go to supper.



STRAWBERRY HILL, _June_ 5, 1780.

Not a syllable yet from General Clinton. There has been a battle at sea
in the West Indies, which we might have gained; know we did not, but not
why: and all this is forgotten already in a fresher event. I have said
for some time that the field is so extensive, and the occurrences so
numerous, and so much pains are taken to involve them in falsehoods and
mystery, and opinions are so divided, that all evidences will be dead
before a single part can be cleared up; but I have not time, nor you
patience, for my reflections. I must hurry to the history of the day.
The Jack of Leyden of the age, Lord George Gordon,[1] gave notice to the
House of Commons last week, that he would, on Friday, bring in the
petition of the Protestant Association; and he openly declared to his
disciples, that he would not carry it unless _a noble army of martyrs,
not fewer than forty thousand_, would accompany him. Forty thousand, led
by such a lamb, were more likely to prove butchers than victims; and so,
in good truth, they were very near being. Have you faith enough in me to
believe that the sole precaution taken was, that the Cabinet Council on
Thursday empowered the First Lord of the Treasury to give proper orders
to the civil magistrates to keep the peace,--and his Lordship forgot

[Footnote 1: Lord George Gordon was a younger son of the Duke of Gordon;
and because the Parliament had passed a Bill to relieve the Roman
Catholics from some of the disabilities which seemed no longer desirable
nor just to maintain, he instigated a body calling itself the Protestant
Association to present a monster petition to the House of Commons, and
headed a procession of at least fifty thousand to march with it to the
House. The processionists behaved with great violence on their march,
insulting those members of both Houses whom they thought unfavourable to
their views; and, when the House adjourned without taking their petition
into consideration, they began to commit the most violent outrages. They
burnt Newgate; they burnt the house of the great Chief Justice, Lord
Mansfield; and for two days seemed masters of London, till the King
himself summoned a Privy Council, and issued orders for the troops to
put down the rioters. Many of the rioters were brought to trial and
executed. Lord George, being prosecuted for high treason, to which his
offence did not amount, instead of for sedition, was acquitted, to the
great indignation of the French historian, Lacretelle, that "Cet
extravagant scélérat ne paya point de sa tête un tel crime."]

Early on Friday morning the conservators of the Church of England
assembled in _St. George's_ Fields to encounter the dragon, the old
serpent, and marched in lines of six and six--about thirteen thousand
only, as they were computed--with a petition as long as the procession,
which the apostle himself presented; but, though he had given out most
Christian injunctions for peaceable behaviour, he did everything in his
power to promote a massacre. He demanded immediate repeal of toleration,
told Lord North he could have him torn to pieces, and, running every
minute to the door or windows, bawled to the populace that Lord North
would give them no redress, and that now this member, now that, was
speaking against them.

In the mean time, the Peers, going to their own Chamber, and as yet not
concerned in the petition, were assaulted; many of their glasses were
broken, and many of their persons torn out of the carriages. Lord Boston
was thrown down and almost trampled to death; and the two Secretaries of
State, the Master of the Ordnance, and Lord Willoughby were stripped of
their bags or wigs, and the three first came into the House with their
hair all dishevelled. The chariots of Sir George Savile and Charles
Turner, two leading advocates for the late toleration, though in
Opposition, were demolished; and the Duke of Richmond and Burke were
denounced to the mob as proper objects for sacrifice. Lord Mahon
laboured to pacify the tempest, and towards eight and nine, prevailed
on so many to disperse, that the Lords rose and departed in quiet; but
every avenue to the other House was besieged and blockaded, and for four
hours they kept their doors locked, though some of the warmest members
proposed to sally out, sword in hand, and cut their way. Lord North and
that House behaved with great firmness, and would not submit to give any
other satisfaction to the rioters, than to consent to take the Popish
laws into consideration on the following Tuesday; and, calling the
Justices of the Peace, empowered them to call out the whole force of the
country to quell the riot.

The magistrates soon brought the Horse and Foot Guards, and the pious
ragamuffins soon fled; so little enthusiasm fortunately had inspired
them; at least all their religion consisted in outrage and plunder; for
the Duke of Northumberland, General Grant, Mr. Mackinsy, and others, had
their pockets picked of their watches and snuff-boxes. Happily, not a
single life was lost.

This tumult, which was over between nine and ten at night, had scarce
ceased before it broke out in two other quarters. Old Haslang's[1]
Chapel was broken open and plundered; and, as he is a Prince of
Smugglers as well as Bavarian Minister, great quantities of run tea and
contraband goods were found in his house. This one cannot lament; and
still less, as the old wretch has for these forty years usurped a hired
house, and, though the proprietor for many years has offered to remit
his arrears of rent, he will neither quit the house nor pay for it.

[Footnote 1: Count Haslang was the Bavarian Minister.]

Monsieur Cordon, the Sardinian Minister, suffered still more. The mob
forced his chapel, stole two silver lamps, demolished everything else,
threw the benches into the street, set them on fire, carried the brands
into the chapel, and set fire to that; and, when the engines came, would
not suffer them to play till the Guards arrived, and saved the house and
probably all that part of the town. Poor Madame Cordon was confined by
illness. My cousin, Thomas Walpole, who lives in Lincoln's Inn Fields,
went to her rescue, and dragged her, for she could scarce stand with
terror and weakness, to his own house.

I doubt this narrative will not re-approach you and Mr. Wyndham. I have
received yours of the 20th of last month.

You will be indignant that such a mad dog as Lord George should not be
knocked on the head. Colonel Murray did tell him in the House, that, if
any lives were lost, his Lordship should join the number. Nor yet is he
so lunatic as to deserve pity. Besides being very debauched, he has more
knavery than mission. What will be decided on him, I do not know; every
man that heard him can convict him of the worst kind of sedition: but it
is dangerous to constitute a rascal a martyr. I trust we have not much
holy fury left; I am persuaded that there was far more dissoluteness
than enthusiasm in the mob: yet the episode is very disagreeable. I came
from town yesterday to avoid the birthday [June 4]. We have a report
here that the Papists last night burnt a Presbyterian meeting-house, but
I credit nothing now on the first report. It was said to be intended on
Saturday, and the Guards patrolled the streets at night; but it is very
likely that Saint George Gordon spread the insinuation himself.

My letter cannot set out before to-morrow; therefore I will postpone the
conclusion. In the mean time I must scold you very seriously for the
cameo you have sent me by Mr. Morrice. This house is full of your
presents and of my blushes. I love any one of them as an earnest of your
friendship; but I hate so many. You force upon me an air most contrary
to my disposition. I cannot thank you for your kindness; I entreated you
to send me nothing more. You leave me no alternative but to seem
interested or ungrateful. I can only check your generosity by being
brutal. If I had a grain of power, I would affront you and call your
presents bribes. I never gave you anything but a coffee-pot. If I could
buy a diamond as big as the Caligula, and a less would not be so
valuable, I would send it you. In one word, I will not accept the cameo,
unless you give me a promise under your hand that it shall be the last
present you send me. I cannot stir about this house without your gifts
staring me in the face. Do you think I have no conscience? I am sorry
Mr. Morrice is no better, and wonder at his return. What can invite him
to this country? Home never was so homely.


It is not true that a meeting-house has been burnt. I believe a Popish
chapel in the city has been attacked: and they talk here of some
disturbance yesterday, which is probable; for, when grace, robbery, and
mischief make an alliance, they do not like to give over:--but ten miles
from the spot are a thousand from truth. My letter must go to town
before night, or would be too late for the post. If you do not hear from
me again immediately, you will be sure that this _bourrasque_ has

_Thursday 8th._

I am exceedingly vexed. I sent this letter to Berkeley Square on
Tuesday, but by the present confusions my servant did not receive it in
time. I came myself yesterday, and found a horrible scene. Lord
Mansfield's house was just burnt down, and at night there were shocking
disorders. London and Southwark were on fire in six places; but the
regular troops quelled the sedition by daybreak, and everything now is
quiet. A camp of ten thousand men is formed in Hyde Park, and regiments
of horse and foot arrive every hour.

_Friday morn, 9th._

All has been quiet to-night. I am going to Strawberry for a little rest.
Your nephew told me last night that he sends you constant journals just



_Dec._ 11, 1780.

I should have been shamefully ungrateful, Sir, if I could ever forget
all the favours I have received from you, and had omitted any mark of
respect to you that it was in my power to show. Indeed, what you are so
good as to thank me for was a poor trifle, but it was all I had or shall
have of the kind. It was imperfect too, as some painters of name have
died since it was printed, which was nine years ago. They will be added
with your kind notices, should I live, which is not probable, to see a
new edition wanted. Sixty-three years, and a great deal of illness, are
too speaking mementos not to be attended to; and when the public has
been more indulgent than one had any right to expect, it is not decent
to load it with one's dotage!

I believe, Sir, that I may have been over-candid to Hogarth, and that
his spirit and youth and talent may have hurried him into more real
caricatures than I specified; yet he certainly restrained his bent that
way pretty early. Charteris,[1] I have seen; but though some years
older than you, Sir, I cannot say I have at all a perfect idea of him;
nor did I ever hear the curious anecdote you tell me of the banker and
my father. I was much better acquainted with Archbishop Blackburne. He
lived within two doors of my father in Downing Street, and took much
notice of me when I was near man.... He was a little hurt at not being
raised to Canterbury on Wake's death [1737], and said to my father, "You
did not think on me; but it is true, I am too old, I am too old."
Perhaps, Sir, these are gossiping stories, but at least they hurt nobody

[Footnote 1: Colonel Charteris, satirised by Hogarth's introduction of
his portrait in the "Harlot's Progress," was at his death still more
bitterly branded by Swift's friend, Dr. Arbuthnot, in the epitaph he
proposed for him: "Here continueth to rot the body of Francis Charteris,
who, in the course of his long life, displayed every vice except
prodigality and hypocrisy. His insatiable avarice saved him from the
first: his matchless impudence from the second." And he concludes it
with the explanation that his life was not useless, since "it was
intended to show by his example of how small estimation inordinate
wealth is in the sight of Almighty God, since He bestowed it on the most
unworthy of mortals."]

I can say little, Sir, for my stupidity or forgetfulness about Hogarth's
poetry, which I still am not sure I ever heard, though I knew him so
well; but it is an additional argument for my distrusting myself, if my
memory fails, which is very possible. A whole volume of Richardson's[1]
poetry has been published since my volume was printed, not much to the
honour of his muse, but exceedingly so to that of his piety and amiable
heart. You will be pleased, too, Sir, with a story Lord Chesterfield
told me (too late too) of Jervas,[2] who piqued himself on the reverse,
on total infidelity. One day that he had talked very indecently in that
strain, Dr. Arbuthnot,[3] who was as devout as Richardson, said to him,
"Come, Jervas, this is all an air and affectation; nobody is a sounder
believer than you."--"I!" said Jervas, "I believe nothing."--"Yes, but
you do," replied the Doctor; "nay, you not only believe, but practise:
you are so scrupulous an observer of the commandments, that you never
make the likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or on the earth
beneath, or," &c.

[Footnote 1: Richardson was a London bookseller, the author of the three
longest novels in the English language--"Pamela," "Clarissa Harbour,"
and "Sir Charles Grandison." They were extravagantly praised in their
day. But it was to ridicule "Pamela" that Fielding wrote "Joseph

[Footnote 2: Jervas was a fashionable portrait-painter in the first half
of the century. Lady Mary Montague, in one of her letters, speaks of him
in terms of the highest praise.]

[Footnote 3: Dr. Arbuthnot was the author of the celebrated satire on
the Partition Treaties, entitled "The History of John Bull," to which
Englishmen have ever since owed their popular nickname. It is to him
also that Pope dedicated the Prologue to his "Satires and Epistles."]

I fear, Sir, this letter is too long for thanks, and that I have been
proving what I have said, of my growing superannuated; but, having made
my will in my last volume, you may look on this as a codicil.

P.S.--I had sealed my letter, Sir, but break it open, lest you should
think soon, that I do not know what I say, or break my resolution
lightly. I shall be able to send you in about two months a very curious
work that I am going to print, and is actually in the press; but there
is not a syllable of my writing in it. It is a discovery just made of
two very ancient manuscripts, copies of which were found in two or three
libraries in Germany, and of which there are more complete manuscripts
at Cambridge. They are of the eleventh century at lowest, and prove
that painting in oil was then known, above three hundred years before
the pretended invention of Van Eyck. The manuscripts themselves will be
printed, with a full introductory Dissertation by the discoverer, Mr.
Raspe, a very learned German, formerly librarian to the Landgrave of
Hesse, and who writes English surprisingly well. The manuscripts are in
the most barbarous monkish Latin, and are much such works as our
booksellers publish of receipts for mixing colours, varnishes, &c. One
of the authors, who calls himself Theophilus, was a monk; the other,
Heraclius, is totally unknown; but the proofs are unquestionable. As my
press is out of order, and that besides it would take up too much time
to print them there, they will be printed here at my expense, and if
there is any surplus, it will be for Raspe's benefit.



BERKELEY SQUARE, _Dec._ 31, 1780.

I have received, and thank you much for the curious history of the Count
and Countess of Albany; what a wretched conclusion of a wretched family!
Surely no royal race was ever so drawn to the dregs! The other Countess
[Orford] you mention seems to approach still nearer to dissolution. Her
death a year or two ago might have prevented the sale of the
pictures,--not that I know it would. Who can say what madness in the
hands of villany would or would not have done? Now, I think, her dying
would only put more into the reach of rascals. But I am indifferent what
they do; nor, but thus occasionally, shall I throw away a thought on
that chapter.

All chance of accommodation with Holland is vanished. Count Welderen and
his wife departed this morning. All they who are to gain by privateers
and captures are delighted with a new field of plunder. Piracy is more
practicable than victory. Not being an admirer of wars, I shall reserve
my _feux de joie_ for peace.

My letters, I think, are rather eras than journals. Three days ago
commenced another date--the establishment of a family for the Prince of
Wales. I do not know all the names, and fewer of the faces that compose
it; nor intend. I, who kissed the hand of George I., have no colt's
tooth for the Court of George IV. Nothing is so ridiculous as an antique
face in a juvenile drawing-room. I believe that they who have spirits
enough to be absurd in their decrepitude, are happy, for they certainly
are not sensible of their folly; but I, who have never forgotten what I
thought in my youth of such superannuated idiots, dread nothing more
than misplacing myself in my old age. In truth, I feel no such appetite;
and, excepting the young of my own family, about whom I am interested, I
have mighty small satisfaction in the company of _posterity_; for so
the present generation seem to me. I would contribute anything to their
pleasure, but what cannot contribute to it--my own presence. Alas! how
many of this age are swept away before me: six thousand have been mowed
down at once by the late hurricane at Barbadoes alone! How Europe is
paying the debts it owes to America! Were I a poet, I would paint hosts
of Mexicans and Peruvians crowding the shores of Styx, and insulting the
multitudes of the usurpers of their continent that have been sending
themselves thither for these five or six years. The poor Africans, too,
have no call to be merciful to European ghosts. Those miserable slaves
have just now seen whole crews of men-of-war swallowed by the late

We do not yet know the extent of our loss. You would think it very
slight, if you saw how little impression it makes on a luxurious
capital. An overgrown metropolis has less sensibility than marble; nor
can it be conceived by those not conversant in one. I remember hearing
what diverted me then; a young gentlewoman, a native of our rock, St.
Helena, and who had never stirred beyond it, being struck with the
emotion occasioned there by the arrival of one or two of our China
ships, said to the captain, "There must be a great solitude in London as
often as the China ships come away!" Her imagination could not have
compassed the idea, if she had been told that six years of war, the
absence of an army of fifty or sixty thousand men of all our squadrons,
and a new debt of many, many millions, would not make an alteration in
the receipts at the door of a single theatre in London. I do not boast
of, or applaud, this profligate apathy. When pleasure is our business,
our business is never pleasure; and, if four wars cannot awaken us, we
shall die in a dream!



BERKELEY SQUARE, _Sept._ 7, 1781.

The combined fleets, to the amount of forty-seven or forty-nine sail,
brought news of their own arrival at the mouth of the Channel a day or
two before your letter, of August the 18th, brought an account of that
probability, and of the detachment for Minorca. Admiral Darby, on a
false alarm, or perhaps, a true one, had returned to Torbay a week ago,
where he is waiting for reinforcements. This is the fourth or fifth day
since the appearance of the enemy off Scilly. It is thought, I find here
(whither I came to-day), that the great object is our Jamaica fleet; but
that a detachment is gone to Ireland to do what mischief they can on the
coast before our ally, the Equinox, will beseech them to retire. Much
less force than this Armada would have done more harm two years ago,
when they left a card at Plymouth, than this can do; as Plymouth is now
very strong, and that there are great disciplined armies now in both
islands. Of Gibraltar we have no apprehensions.[1] I know less of

[Footnote 1: The Spaniards and French had been blockading Gibraltar for
more than two years, and continued the siege till the autumn of 1782,
when the blockading fleet was totally destroyed by the Governor, General
Eliot, who was created Lord Heathfield for the achievement.]

Lord George Gordon is standing candidate for the City of London on an
accidental vacancy; but his premature alarm last year has had a sinister
effect. In short, those riots have made mankind sick of them, and give
him no chance of success.

What can I say more? Nothing at present; but I will the moment any event
presents itself. My hope is that, after a fermentation, there will be a
settlement, and that peace will arise out of it.

The decree[1] you sent me against high heads diverted me. It is as
necessary here, but would not have such expeditious effect. The Queen
has never admitted feathers at Court; but, though the nation has grown
excellent courtiers, Fashion remained in opposition, and not a plume
less was worn anywhere else. Some centuries ago, the Clergy preached
against monstrous head-dresses; but Religion had no more power than our
Queen. It is better to leave the Mode to its own vagaries; if she is not
contradicted, she seldom remains long in the same mood. She is very
despotic; but, though her reign is endless, her laws are repealed as
fast as made.

[Footnote 1: _"The decree."_ The Grand Duke of Tuscany had just issued
an order prohibiting high head-dresses.]

Mrs. Damer,[1] General Conway's daughter, is going abroad to confirm a
very delicate constitution--I believe, at Naples. I will say very few
words on her, after telling you that, besides being his daughter, I love
her as my own child. It is not from wanting matter, but from having too
much. She has one of the most solid understandings I ever knew,
astonishingly improved, but with so much reserve and modesty, that I
have often told Mr. Conway he does not know the extent of her capacity
and the solidity of her reason. We have by accident discovered, that she
writes Latin like Pliny, and is learning Greek. In Italy she will be a
prodigy. She models like Bernini, has excelled the moderns in the
similitudes of her busts, and has lately begun one in marble. You must
keep all knowledge of these talents and acquisitions to yourself; she
would never forgive my mentioning, at least her mental qualities. You
may just hint that I talked of her statuary, as you may assist her if
she has a mind to borrow anything to copy from the Great Duke's
collection. Lady William Campbell, her uncle's widow, accompanies, who
is a very reasonable woman too, and equally shy. If they return through
Florence, pray give them a parcel of my letters. I had been told your
nephew would make you a visit this autumn, but I have heard nothing from
him. If you should see him, pray give him the parcel, for he will return
sooner than they.

[Footnote 1: Mrs. Damer had devoted herself to sculpture with an ability
which has given her a high place among artists. The bust of Nelson in
the armoury at Windsor is her work.]

I have a gouty pain in my hand, that would prevent my saying more, had
I more to say.



_Nov._ 29, 1781.

Your nephew is arrived, as he has told you himself; the sight of him,
for he called on me the next morning, was more than ordinarily welcome,
though your letter of the 10th, which I received the night before, had
dispelled many of my fears. I will now unfold them to you. A packet-boat
from Ostend was lost last week, and your nephew was named for one of the
passengers. As Mrs. Noel had expected him for a fortnight, I own my
apprehensions were strengthened; but I will say no more on a dissipated
panic. However, this incident and his half-wreck at Lerici will, I hope,
prevent him from the future from staying with you so late in the year;
and I see by your letter that you agree with me, of which I should be
sure though you had not said so.

I mentioned on Tuesday the captivity of Lord Cornwallis and his army,
the Columbus who was to bestow America on us again. A second army[1]
taken in a drag-net is an uncommon event, and happened but once to the
Romans, who sought adventures everywhere. We have not lowered our tone
on this new disgrace, though I think we shall talk no more of insisting
on _implicit submission_, which would rather be a gasconade than
firmness. In fact, there is one very unlucky circumstance already come
out, which must drive every American, to a man, from ever calling
himself our friend. By the tenth article of the capitulation, Lord
Cornwallis demanded that the loyal Americans in his army should not be
punished. This was flatly refused, and he has left them to be hanged. I
doubt no vote of Parliament will be able to blanch such a--such a--I
don't know what the word is for it; he must get his uncle the Archbishop
to christen it; there is no name for it in any Pagan vocabulary. I
suppose it will have a patent for being called Necessity. Well! there
ends another volume of the American war. It looks a little as if the
history of it would be all we should have for it, except forty
millions[2] of debt, and three other wars that have grown out of it, and
that do not seem so near to a conclusion. They say that Monsieur de
Maurepas, who is dying, being told that the Duc de Lauzun had brought
the news of Lord Cornwallis's surrender, said, from Racine's
"Mithridate" I think:--

     Mes derniers regards out vu fuir les Romains.

How Lord Chatham will frown when they meet! for, since I began my
letter, the papers say that Maurepas is dead. The Duc de Nivernois, it
is said, is likely to succeed him as Minister; which is probable, as
they were brothers-in-law and friends, and the one would naturally
recommend the other. Perhaps, not for long, as the Queen's influence
gains ground.

[Footnote 1: The capitulation of Burgoyne at Saratoga has been mentioned
in a previous letter; and in October, 1781, Lord Cornwallis, whose army
was reduced to seven thousand men, was induced to surrender to
Washington, who, with eighteen thousand, had blockaded him at a village
called Yorktown; and it was the news of this disaster which at last
compelled the King to consent to relinquish the war.]

[Footnote 2: "_Forty millions._" Burke, in one of his speeches, asserted
the expense to have been £70,000,000, "besides one hundred thousand

The warmth in the House of Commons is prodigiously rekindled; but Lord
Cornwallis's fate has cost the Administration no ground _there_. The
names of most _éclat_ in the Opposition are two names to which those
walls have been much accustomed at the same period--CHARLES FOX and
WILLIAM PITT, second son of Lord Chatham.[1] Eloquence is the only one
of our brilliant qualities that does not seem to have degenerated
rapidly--but I shall leave debates to your nephew, now an ear-witness: I
could only re-echo newspapers. Is it not another odd coincidence of
events, that while the father Laurens is prisoner to Lord Cornwallis as
Constable of the Tower, the son Laurens signed the capitulation by which
Lord Cornwallis became prisoner? It is said too, I don't know if truly,
that this capitulation and that of Saratoga were signed on the same
anniversary. These are certainly the speculations of an idle man, and
the more trifling when one considers the moment. But alas! what would
_my_ most grave speculations avail? From the hour that fatal egg, the
Stamp Act, was laid, I disliked it and all the vipers hatched from it. I
now hear many curse it, who fed the vermin with poisonous weeds. Yet the
guilty and the innocent rue it equally hitherto! I would not answer for
what is to come! Seven years of miscarriages may sour the sweetest
tempers, and the most sweetened. Oh! where is the Dove with the
olive-branch? Long ago I told you that you and I might not live to see
an end of the American war. It is very near its end indeed now--its
consequences are far from a conclusion. In some respects, they are
commencing a new date, which will reach far beyond _us_. I desire not to
pry into that book of futurity. Could I finish my course in peace--but
one must take the chequered scenes of life as they come. What signifies
whether the elements are serene or turbulent, when a private old man
slips away? What has he and the world's concerns to do with one another?
He may sigh for his country, and babble about it; but he might as well
sit quiet and read or tell old stories; the past is as important to him
as the future.

[Footnote 1: Charles Fox and William Pitt were the second sons of the
first Lord Holland and the first Lord Chatham, Fox being by some years
the older. They were both men of great eloquence; but in this (as in
every other point) Pitt was the superior, even by the confession of Lord
Macaulay. As Prime Minister from 1783 to 1801, and afterwards in 1804-5,
Pitt proved himself the greatest statesman, the man more in advance of
his age than any of his predecessors or successors; while Fox's career
was for the most part one of an opposition so rancorous, and so
destitute of all patriotism, that he even exulted over the disasters of
Burgoyne and Cornwallis, and afterwards over the defeat of the Austrians
at Marengo in 1800, avowedly because the Austrians were our allies, and
it was a heavy blow to Pitt and his policy.]

_Dec. 3._

I had not sealed my letter, as it cannot set out till to-morrow; and
since I wrote it I have received yours, of the 20th of November, by your

I congratulate you on the success of your attempts, and admire the
heroic refusal of the General.[1] I shall certainly obey you, and not
mention it. Indeed, it would not easily be believed here, where as many
pence are irresistible....

[Footnote 1: General the Hon. James Murray was governor of Minorca,
which was besieged by the Spaniards, and was offered a vast bribe by the
Duc de Crillon, the commander of the besiegers, to give up Port St.

Don't trouble yourself about the third set of "Galuzzi." They are to be
had here now, and those for whom I intended them can buy them. I have
not made so much progress as I intended, and have not yet quite finished
the second volume. I detest Cosmo the Great. I am sorry, either that he
was so able a man, or so successful a man. When tyrants are great men
they should miscarry; if they are fools, they will miscarry of course.
Pray, is there any picture of Camilla Martelli, Cosmo's last wife? I had
never heard of her. The dolt, his son, I find used her ill, and then did
the same thing. Our friend, Bianca Capello, it seems, was a worthless
creature. I don't expect much entertainment but from the Life of
Ferdinand the Great. It is true I have dipped into the others,
particularly into the story of Cosmo the Third's wife, of whom I had
read much in French Mémoires; and into that of John Gaston, which was so
fresh when I was at Florence; but as the author, in spite of the Great
Duke's injunctions, has tried to palliate some of the worst imputations
on Cosmo and his son Ferdinand, so he has been mighty modest about the
Caprean amours of John Gaston and his eldest brother. Adieu! I have
been writing a volume here myself. Pray remember to answer me about
Camilla Martelli.

P.S.--Is there any china left in the Great Duke's collection, made by
Duke Francis the First himself? Perhaps it was lately sold with what was
called the refuse of the wardrobe, whence I hear some charming things
were purchased, particularly the Medallions of the Medici, by Benvenuto
Cellini. That sale and the "History" are enough to make the old
Electress[1] shudder in her coffin.

[Footnote 1: The Electress Palatine Dowager was sister of John Gaston,
the last Grand Duke of the House of Medici; after her husband's death
she returned to Florence and died there.]



_April_ 13, 1782.

Your partiality to me, my good Sir, is much overseen, if you think me
fit to correct your Latin. Alas! I have not skimmed ten pages of Latin
these dozen years. I have dealt in nothing but English, French, and a
little Italian; and do not think, if my life depended on it, I could
write four lines of pure Latin. I have had occasion once or twice to
speak that language, and soon found that all my verbs were Italian with
Roman terminations. I would not on any account draw you into a scrape,
by depending on my skill in what I have half forgotten. But you are in
the metropolis of Latium. If you distrust your own knowledge, which I
do not, especially from the specimen you have sent me, surely you must
have good critics at your elbow to consult.

In truth, I do not love Roman inscriptions in lieu of our own
language,[1] though, if anywhere, proper in an University; neither can I
approve writing what the Romans themselves would not understand. What
does it avail to give a Latin tail to a Guildhall? Though the words are
used by moderns, would _major_ convey to Cicero the idea of a _mayor_?
_Architectus_, I believe, is the right word; but I doubt whether
_veteris jam perantiquae_ is classic for a dilapidated building--but do
not depend on me; consult some better judges.

[Footnote 1: Walpole certainly here shows himself superior in judgement
to Johnson, who, when Burke, Reynolds, and others, in a "round-robin,"
requested that the epitaph on Goldsmith, which was entrusted to him to
draw up, should be in English instead of Latin, refused, with the absurd
expression that "he would never be guilty of defacing Westminster Abbey
with an English inscription."]

Though I am glad of the late _revolution_,[1] a word for which I have
great reverence, I shall certainly not dispute with you thereon. I abhor
exultation. If the change produces peace, I shall make a bonfire in my
heart. Personal interest I have none; you and I shall certainly never
profit by the politics to which we are attached. The "Archaeologic
Epistle" I admire exceedingly, though I am sorry it attacks Mr.
Bryant,[2] whom I love and respect. The Dean is so absurd an oaf, that
he deserves to be ridiculed. Is anything more hyperbolic than his
preferences of Rowley to Homer, Shakspeare, and Milton? Whether Rowley
or Chatterton was the author, are the poems in any degree comparable to
those authors? is not a ridiculous author an object of ridicule? I do
not even guess at your meaning in your conclusive paragraph on that
subject: Dictionary-writer I suppose alludes to Johnson; but surely you
do not equal the compiler of a dictionary to a genuine poet? Is a
brickmaker on a level with Mr. Essex? Nor can I hold that exquisite wit
and satire are Billingsgate; if they were, Milles and Johnson would be
able to write an answer to the "Epistle." I do as little guess whom you
mean that got a pension by Toryism: if Johnson too, he got a pension for
having abused pensioners, and yet took one himself, which was
contemptible enough. Still less know I who preferred opposition to
principles, which is not a very common case; whoever it was, as Pope

    The way he took was strangely round about.

[Footnote 1: In March Lord North resigned, and been replaced by Lord
Rockingham, who had been Prime Minister before in 1765.]

[Footnote 2: Bryant, the celebrated or notorious critic, who published a
treatise in which he denied the existence of Troy, and even called in
question that of Homer--a work which, whether Walpole agreed with him on
this point or not, afterwards drew down on him the indignant
denunciations of Byron. It was well for him that he wrote before the
discoveries of Dr. Schliemann.]



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Sept._ 8, 1782.

... I am perfectly ignorant of the state of the war abroad; they say we
are in no pain for Gibraltar: but I know that we are in a state of war
at home that is shocking. I mean, from the enormous profusion of
housebreakers, highwaymen, and footpads; and, what is worse, from the
savage barbarities of the two latter, who commit the most wanton
cruelties. This evil is another fruit of the American war. Having no
vent for the convicts that used to be transported to our late colonies,
a plan was adopted for confining them on board of lighters for the term
of their sentences. In those colleges, undergraduates in villainy
commence Masters of Arts, and at the expiration of their studies issue
as mischievous as if they had taken their degrees in law, physic, or
divinity, at one of our regular universities; but, having no profession,
nor testimonial to their characters, they can get no employment, and
therefore live upon the public. In short, the grievance is so crying,
that one dare not stir out after dinner but well-armed. If one goes
abroad to dinner, you would think one was going to the relief of
Gibraltar. You may judge how depraved we are, when the war has not
consumed half the reprobates, nor press-gangs thinned their numbers! But
no wonder--how should the morals of the people be purified, when such
frantic dissipation reigns above them? Contagion does not mount, but
descend. A new theatre is going to be erected merely for people of
fashion, that they may not be confined to vulgar hours--that is, to day
or night. Fashion is always silly, for, before it can spread far, it
must be calculated for silly people; as examples of sense, wit, or
ingenuity could be imitated only by a few. All the discoveries that I
can perceive to have been made by the present age, is to prefer riding
about the streets rather than on the roads or on the turf, and being too
late for everything. Thus, though we have more public diversions than
would suffice for two capitals, nobody goes to them till they are over.
This is literally true. Ranelagh, that is, the music there, finishes at
half an hour after ten at night; but the most fashionable set out for
it, though above a mile out of town, at eleven or later. Well! but is
not this censure being old and cross? were not the charming people of my
youth guilty of equivalent absurdities? Oh yes; but the sensible folks
of my youth had not lost America, nor dipped us in wars with half
Europe, that cost us fifteen millions a year. I believe the Jews went to
Ranelagh at midnight, though Titus was at Knightsbridge. But Titus
demolished their Ranelagh as well as Jerusalem. Adieu!



BERKELEY SQUARE, _Dec._ 2, 1783.

... Your nephew is in town, but confined by the gout. I called on him,
but did not see him; yet you may be very easy, for he expects to be
abroad in a day or two. I can make you as easy about another point, too;
but, if you have not learnt it from him, do not take notice to him that
you know it. Mrs. Noel has informed me that his daughter's treaty of
marriage is broken off, and in a fortunate way. The peer, father of the
lover, obliged _him_ to declare off; and Mrs. Noel says that your niece
is in good spirits. All this is just what one should have wished. Your
nephew has sent me a good and most curious print from you of the old
Pretender's marriage: I never saw one before. It is a great present to
my collection of English portraits. The Farnesian books I have not yet
received, and have forgotten the name of the gentleman to whom you
entrusted them, and must search among your letters for it; or, tell it
me again.

The politicians of London, who at present are not the most numerous
corporation, are warm on a Bill for a new regulation of the East Indies,
brought in by Mr. Fox.[1] Some even of his associates apprehended his
being defeated, or meant to defeat him; but his marvellous abilities
have hitherto triumphed conspicuously, and on two divisions in the House
of Commons he had majorities of 109 and 114. On _that_ field he will
certainly be victorious: the forces will be more nearly balanced when
the Lords fight the battle; but, though the Opposition will have more
generals and more able, he is confident that his troops will overmatch
theirs; and, in Parliamentary engagements, a superiority of numbers is
not vanquished by the talents of the commanders, as often happens in
more martial encounters. His competitor, Mr. Pitt, appears by no means
an adequate rival. Just like their fathers, Mr. Pitt has brilliant
language, Mr. Fox solid sense; and such luminous powers of displaying it
clearly, that mere eloquence is but a Bristol stone, when set by the
diamond Reason.

[Footnote 1: In the session of 1783 Fox, as the leader of the Coalition
Ministry in the House of Commons, brought in a Bill for the reform of
the government of India on the expiration of the existing Charter of the
Company. It was denounced by Pitt as having for its principal object the
perpetuation of the administration by the enormous patronage it would
place at the disposal of the Treasury; and, through the interposition of
the King, whose conduct on this occasion must be confessed to have been
wholly unconstitutional, it was defeated in the House of Lords. The King
on this dismissed the Ministry, and Pitt became Prime Minister.]

Do not wonder that we do not entirely attend to things of earth: Fashion
has ascended to a higher element. All our views are directed to the air.
_Balloons_ occupy senators, philosophers, ladies, everybody. France gave
us the _ton_; and, as yet, we have not come up to our model. Their
monarch is so struck with the heroism of two of his subjects who
adventured their persons in two of these new _floating batteries_, that
he has ordered statues of them, and contributed a vast sum towards their
marble immortality. All this may be very important: to me it looks
somewhat foolish. Very early in my life I remember this town at gaze on
a man who _flew down_ a rope from the top of St. Martin's steeple; now,
late in my day, people are staring at a voyage to the moon. The former
Icarus broke his neck at a subsequent flight: when a similar accident
happens to modern knights-errant, adieu to air-balloons.

_Apropos_, I doubt these new kites have put young Astley's nose out of
joint, who went to Paris lately under their Queen's protection,[1] and
expected to be Prime Minister, though he only ventured his neck by
dancing a minuet on three horses at full gallop, and really in that
attitude has as much grace as the Apollo Belvedere. When the arts are
brought to such perfection in Europe, who would go, like Sir Joseph
Banks, in search of islands in the Atlantic, where the natives in six
thousand years have not improved the science of carving fishing-hooks
out of bones or flints! Well! I hope these new mechanic meteors will
prove only playthings for the learned and the idle, and not be converted
into new engines of destruction to the human race, as is so often the
case of refinements or discoveries in science. _The wicked wit of man
always studies to apply the result of talents to enslaving, destroying,
or cheating his fellow-creatures._ Could we reach the moon, we should
think of reducing it to a province of some European kingdom.

[Footnote 1: In the spring Montgolfier had made the first ascent in a
balloon, which as a novelty created great excitement in Paris. The Queen
gave permission for the balloon to be called by her name; and the next
year, during a visit of Gustavus, King of Sweden, to Versailles, it went
up from the grounds of the Trianon, and made a successful voyage to
Chantilly (the Editor's "Life of Marie Antoinette," c. 19).]


P.S.--The Opposition in the House of Commons were so humbled by their
two defeats, that, though Mr. Pitt had declared he would contest every
clause (of the India Bill) in the committee, (where in truth, if the
Bill is so bad as he says, he ought at least to have tried to amend it,)
that he slunk from the contest, and all the blanks were filled up
without obstruction, the opponents promising only to resist it in its
last stage on Monday next; but really, having no hopes but in the House
of Lords, where, however, I do not believe they expect to succeed. Mr.
Pitt's reputation is much sunk; nor, though he is a much more correct
logician than his father, has he the same firmness and perseverance. It
is no wonder that he was dazzled by his own premature fame; yet his late
checks may be of use to him, and teach him to appreciate his strength
better, or to wait till it is confirmed. Had he listed under Mr. Fox,
who loved and courted him, he would not only have discovered modesty,
but have been more likely to succeed him, than by commencing his
competitor. But what have I to do to look into futurity?[1]

[Footnote 1: Evidently not much: as few prophecies have been more
strikingly and speedily falsified.]



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Oct._ 15, 1784.

As I have heard nothing from you, I flatter myself Lady Aylesbury mends,
or I think you would have brought her again to the physicians: you will,
I conclude, next week, as towards the end of it the ten days they named
will be expired. I must be in town myself about Thursday on some little
business of my own.

As I was writing this, my servants called me away to see a balloon; I
suppose Blanchard's, that was to be let off from Chelsea this morning. I
saw it from the common field before the window of my round tower. It
appeared about a third of the size of the moon, or less, when setting,
something above the tops of the trees on the level horizon. It was then
descending; and, after rising and declining a little, it sunk slowly
behind the trees, I should think about or beyond Sunbury, at five
minutes after one. But you know I am a very inexact guesser at measures
and distances, and may be mistaken in many miles; and you know how
little I have attended to these _airgonauts_: only t'other night I
diverted myself with a sort of meditation on future _airgonation_,
supposing that it will not only be perfected, but will depose
navigation. I did not finish it, because I am not skilled, like the
gentleman that used to write political ship-news, in that style which I
wanted to perfect my essay: but in the prelude I observed how ignorant
the ancients were in supposing Icarus melted the wax of his wings by too
near access to the sun, whereas he would have been frozen to death
before he made the first post on that road. Next, I discovered an
alliance between Bishop Wilkins's[1] art of flying and his plan of
universal language; the latter of which he no doubt calculated to
prevent the want of an interpreter when he should arrive at the moon.

[Footnote 1: Dr. Wilkins, Bishop of Chester in the reign of Charles II.,
was chiefly instrumental in the foundation of the Royal Society. Among
his works was a treatise to prove that "It is probable there may be
another habitable world in the moon, with a discourse concerning the
possibility of a passage thither." Burnet ("Hist. of his Own Times,"
Anno 1661) says of him, "He was a great observer and promoter of
experimental philosophy, which was then a new thing. He was naturally
ambitious, but was the wisest clergyman I ever knew." He married
Cromwell's sister, and his daughter was the wife of Archbishop

But I chiefly amused myself with ideas of the change that would be made
in the world by the substitution of balloons to ships. I supposed our
seaports to become _deserted villages_; and Salisbury Plain, Newmarket
Heath, (another canvass for alteration of ideas,) and all downs (but
_the_ Downs) arising into dockyards for aërial vessels. Such a field
would be ample in furnishing new speculations. But to come to my

"The good balloon Daedalus, Captain Wing-ate, will fly in a few days for
China; he will stop at the top of the Monument to take in passengers.

"Arrived on Brand-sands, the Vulture, Captain Nabob; the Tortoise snow,
from Lapland; the Pet-en-l'air, from Versailles; the Dreadnought, from
Mount Etna, Sir W. Hamilton, commander; the Tympany, Montgolfier; and
the Mine-A-in-a-bandbox, from the Cape of Good Hope. Foundered in a
hurricane, the Bird of Paradise, from Mount Ararat. The Bubble, Sheldon,
took fire, and was burnt to her gallery; and the Phoenix is to be cut
down to a second-rate."

In those days Old Sarum will again be a town and have houses in it.
There will be fights in the air with wind-guns and bows and arrows; and
there will be prodigious increase of land for tillage, especially in
France, by breaking up all public roads as useless. But enough of my
fooleries; for which I am sorry you must pay double postage.



_June_ 22, 1785.

Since I received your book,[1] Sir, I scarce ceased from reading till I
had finished it; so admirable I found it, and so full of good sense,
brightly delivered. Nay, I am pleased with myself, too, for having
formed the same opinions with you on several points, in which we do not
agree with the generality of men. On some topics, I confess frankly, I
do not concur with you: considering how many you have touched, it would
be wonderful if we agreed on all, or I should not be sincere if I said I
did. There are others on which I have formed no opinion; for I should
give myself an impertinent air, with no truth, if I pretended to have
any knowledge of many subjects, of which, young as you are, you seem to
have made yourself master. Indeed, I have gone deeply into nothing, and
therefore shall not discuss those heads on which we differ most; as
probably I should not defend my own opinions well. There is but one part
of your work to which I will venture any objection, though you have
considered it much, and I little, very little indeed, with regard to
your proposal, which to me is but two days old: I mean your plan for the
improvement of our language, which I allow has some defects, and which
wants correction in several particulars. The specific amendment which
you propose, and to which I object, is the addition of _a's_ and _o's_
to our terminations. To change _s_ for _a_ in the plural number of our
substantives and adjectives, would be so violent an alteration, that I
believe neither the power of Power nor the power of Genius would be able
to effect it. In most cases I am convinced that very strong innovations
are more likely to make impression than small and almost imperceptible
differences, as in religion, medicine, politics, &c.; but I do not think
that language can be treated in the same manner, especially in a refined

[Footnote 1: Mr. Pinkerton was a Scotch lawyer, who published a volume
entitled "Letters on Literature" under the name of Heron; which,
however, he afterwards suppressed, as full of ill-considered ideas,
which was not strange, as he was only twenty-five.]

When a nation first emerges from barbarism, two or three masterly
writers may operate wonders; and the fewer the number of writers, as the
number is small at such a period, the more absolute is their authority.
But when a country has been polishing itself for two or three centuries,
and when, consequently, authors are innumerable, the most super-eminent
genius (or whoever is esteemed so, though without foundation) possesses
very limited empire, and is far from meeting implicit obedience. Every
petty writer will contest very novel institutions: every inch of change
in any language will be disputed; and the language will remain as it
was, longer than the tribunal which should dictate very heterogeneous
alterations. With regard to adding _a_ or _o_ to final consonants,
consider, Sir, should the usage be adopted, what havoc it would make!
All our poetry would be defective in metre, or would become at once as
obsolete as Chaucer; and could we promise ourselves, that, though we
should acquire better harmony and more rhymes, we should have a new
crop of poets, to replace Milton, Dryden, Gray, and, I am sorry you will
not allow me to add, Pope! You might enjoin our prose to be reformed, as
you have done by the "Spectator" in your thirty-fourth Letter; but try
Dryden's "Ode" by your new institution.

I beg your pardon for these trivial observations: I assure you I could
write a letter ten times as long, if I were to specify all I like in
your work. I more than like most of it; and I am charmed with your
glorious love of liberty, and your other humane and noble sentiments.
Your book I shall with great pleasure send to Mr. Colman[1]: may I tell
him, without naming you, that it is written by the author of the comedy
I offered to him? He must be struck with your very handsome and generous
conduct in printing your encomiums on him, after his rejecting your
piece. It is as great as uncommon, and gives me as good an opinion of
your heart, Sir, as your book does of your great sense. Both assure me
that you will not take ill the liberty I have used in expressing my
doubts on your plan for amending our language, or for any I may use in
dissenting from a few other sentiments in your work; as I shall in what
I think your too low opinion of some of the French writers, of your
preferring Lady Mary Wortley to Madame de Sévigné, and of your esteeming
Mr. Hume a man of deeper and more solid understanding than Mr. Gray. In
the two last articles it is impossible to think more differently than we
do.[2] In Lady Mary's "Letters," which I never could read but once, I
discovered no merit of any sort; yet I have seen others by her
(unpublished) that have a good deal of wit; and for Mr. Hume, give me
leave to say that I think your opinion, "that he might have ruled a
state," ought to be qualified a little; as in the very next page you
say, his "History" is "a mere apology for prerogative," and a very weak
one. If he could have ruled a state, one must presume, at best, that he
would have been an able tyrant; and yet I should suspect that a man,
who, sitting coolly in his chamber, could forge but a weak apology for
the prerogative, would not have exercised it very wisely. I knew
personally and well both Mr. Hume and Mr. Gray, and thought there was no
degree of comparison between their understandings; and, in fact, Mr.
Hume's writings were so superior to his conversation, that I frequently
said he understood nothing till he had written upon it. What you say,
Sir, of the discord in his "History" from his love of prerogative and
hatred of churchmen, flatters me much; as I have taken notice of that
very unnatural discord in a piece I printed some years ago, but did not
publish, and which I will show to you when I have the pleasure of seeing
you here; a satisfaction I shall be glad to taste, whenever you will let
me know you are at leisure after the beginning of next week. I have the
honour to be, Sir, &c.

[Footnote 1: Mr. Colman was manager of the Haymarket Theatre.]

[Footnote 2: It is difficult to judge what were the published letters of
Lady Mary which Walpole could have seen. If Mr. Pinkerton preferred them
to those of Mme. de Sévigné, he could certainly have adduced plausible
reasons for his preference. There is far greater variety in them, as was
natural from the different lives led by the two fair writers. Mme. de
Sévigné's was almost confined to Paris and the Court; Lady Mary was a
great traveller. Her husband was English ambassador at Constantinople
and other places, and her letters give descriptions of that city, of
Vienna, the Hague, Venice, Rome, Naples, &c., &c. It may be fitly
pointed out here that in a letter to Lord Strafford Walpole expresses an
opinion that letter-writing is a branch of literature in which women are
likely to excel men; "for our sex is too jealous of the reputation of
good sense to hazard a thousand trifles and negligences which give
grace, ease, and familiarity to correspondence."]



_June_ 26, 1785.

I have sent your book to Mr. Colman, Sir, and must desire you in return
to offer my grateful thanks to Mr. Knight, who has done me an honour, to
which I do not know how I am entitled, by the present of his poetry,
which is very classic, and beautiful, and tender, and of chaste

To _your_ book, Sir, I am much obliged on many accounts; particularly
for having recalled my mind to subjects of delight, to which it was
grown dulled by age and indolence. In consequence of your reclaiming it,
I asked myself whence you feel so much disregard for certain authors
whose fame is established: you have assigned good reasons for
withholding your approbation from some, on the plea of their being
imitators: it was natural, then, to ask myself again, whence they had
obtained so much celebrity. I think I have discovered a cause, which I
do not remember to have seen noted; and _that_ cause I suspect to have
been, that certain of those authors possessed grace:--do not take me for
a disciple of Lord Chesterfield, nor imagine that I mean to erect grace
into a capital ingredient of writing, but I do believe that it is a
perfume that will serve from putrefaction, and is distinct even from
style, which regards expression. _Grace_, I think, belongs to _manner_.
It is from the charm of grace that I believe some authors, not in your
favour, obtained part of their renown; Virgil, in particular: and yet I
am far from disagreeing with you on his subject in general. There is
such a dearth of invention in the Aeneid (and when he did invent, it was
often so foolishly), so little good sense, so little variety, and so
little power over the passions, that I have frequently said, from
contempt for his matter, and from the charm of his harmony, that I
believe I should like his poem better, if I was to hear it repeated, and
did not understand Latin. On the other hand, he has more than harmony:
whatever he utters is said gracefully, and he ennobles his images,
especially in the Georgics; or, at least, it is more sensible there,
from the humility of the subject. A Roman farmer might not understand
his diction in agriculture; but he made a Roman courtier understand
farming, the farming of that age, and could captivate a lord of
Augustus's bedchamber, and tempt him to listen to themes of rusticity.
On the contrary, Statius and Claudian, though talking of war, would
make a soldier despise them as bullies. That graceful manner of thinking
in Virgil seems to me to be more than style, if I do not refine too
much: and I admire, I confess, Mr. Addison's phrase, that Virgil "tossed
about his dung with an air of majesty." A style may be excellent without
grace: for instance, Dr. Swift's. Eloquence may bestow an immortal
style, and one of more dignity; yet eloquence may want that ease, that
genteel air that flows from or constitutes grace. Addison himself was
master of that grace, even in his pieces of humour, and which do not owe
their merit to style; and from that combined secret he excels all men
that ever lived; but Shakspeare, in humour,[1] by never dropping into an
approach towards burlesque and buffoonery, when even his humour
descended to characters that in other hands would have been vulgarly
low. Is not it clear that Will Wimble was a gentleman, though he always
lived at a distance from good company? Fielding had as much humour,
perhaps, as Addison; but, having no idea of grace, is perpetually
disgusting. His innkeepers and parsons are the grossest of their
profession; and his gentlemen are awkward when they should be at their

[Footnote 1: "_Addison's humour._" Undoubtedly there is much
gentlemanlike humour in Addison's Sir Roger de Coverley; but to say that
he "excels all men that ever lived" in that quality is an exaggeration
hardly to be understood in a man who had seen the "Rivals" and the
"Critic." In the present day no one, it may be supposed, would echo it,
after Scott with the Baron, the Antiquary, Dalgetty, &c., and Thackeray
with Mrs. O'Dowd, Major Pendennis, and Colonel Newcome. The epithet
"_Vafer_" applied to Horace by Persius is not inapplicable to Addison.
There is a slyness about some of his sketches which breathes something
of the Horatian facetiousness. It is remarkable that in all this long
and varied criticism Walpole scarcely mentions _wit_, which he seems to
allow to no one but Horace and Boileau. His comparative denial of it to
Aristophanes and Lucian creates a supposition that his Greek was
inferior to his Latin scholarship. It is not always easy to distinguish
humour from wit; of the two, the former seems the higher quality. Wit is
verbal, conversant with language, combining keenness and terseness of
expression with a keen perception of resemblances or differences; humour
has, comparatively speaking, little to do with language, and is of
different kinds, varying with the class of composition in which it is
found. In one of his "Imaginary Conversations" Savage Landor remarks
that "It is no uncommon thing to hear, 'Such an one has humour rather
than wit.' Here the expression can only mean _pleasantry_, for whoever
has humour has wit, although it does not follow that whoever has wit has
humour.... The French have little humour, because they have little
_character_; they excel all nations in wit, because of their levity and

The Grecians had grace in everything; in poetry, in oratory, in
statuary, in architecture, and probably, in music and painting. The
Romans, it is true, were their imitators; but, having grace too,
imparted it to their copies, which gave them a merit that almost raises
them to the rank of originals. Horace's "Odes" acquired their fame, no
doubt, from the graces of his manner and purity of his style--the chief
praise of Tibullus and Propertius, who certainly cannot boast of more
meaning than Horace's "Odes."

Waller, whom you proscribe, Sir, owed his reputation to the graces of
his manner, though he frequently stumbled, and even fell flat; but a few
of his smaller pieces are as graceful as possible: one might say that he
excelled in painting ladies in enamel, but could not succeed in
portraits in oil, large as life. Milton had such superior merit, that I
will only say, that if his angels, his Satan, and his Adam have as much
dignity as the Apollo Belvedere, his Eve has all the delicacy and
graces of the Venus of Medicis; as his description of Eden has the
colouring of Albano. Milton's tenderness imprints ideas as graceful as
Guido's Madonnas: and the "Allegro," "Penseroso," and "Comus" might be
denominated from the three Graces; as the Italians gave similar titles
to two or three of Petrarch's best sonnets.

Cowley, I think, would have had grace (for his mind was graceful) if he
had had any ear, or if his task had not been vitiated by the pursuit of
wit; which, when it does not offer itself naturally, degenerates into
tinsel or pertness. Pertness is the mistaken affection of grace, as
pedantry produces erroneous dignity; the familiarity of the one, and the
clumsiness of the other, distort or prevent grace. Nature, that
furnishes samples of all qualities, and on the scale of gradation
exhibits all possible shades, affords us types that are more apposite
than words. The eagle is sublime, the lion majestic, the swan graceful,
the monkey pert, the bear ridiculously awkward. I mention these as more
expressive and comprehensive than I could make definitions of my
meaning; but I will apply the swan only, under whose wings I will
shelter an apology for Racine, whose pieces give me an idea of that
bird. The colouring of the swan is pure; his attitudes are graceful; he
never displeases you when sailing on his proper element. His feet may be
ugly, his notes hissing, not musical, his walk not natural; he can soar,
but it is with difficulty;--still, the impression the swan leaves is
that of grace. So does Racine.

Boileau may be compared to the dog, whose sagacity is remarkable, as
well as its fawning on its master, and its snarling at those it
dislikes. If Boileau was too austere to admit the pliability of grace,
he compensates by good sense and propriety. He is like (for I will drop
animals) an upright magistrate, whom you respect, but whose justice and
severity leave an awe that discourages familiarity. His copies of the
ancients may be too servile: but, if a good translator deserves praise,
Boileau deserves more. He certainly does not fall below his originals;
and, considering at what period he wrote, has greater merit still. By
his imitations he held out to his countrymen models of taste, and
banished totally the bad taste of his predecessors. For his "Lutrin,"[1]
replete with excellent poetry, wit, humour, and satire, he certainly was
not obliged to the ancients. Excepting Horace, how little idea had
either Greeks or Romans of wit and humour! Aristophanes and Lucian,
compared with moderns, were, the one a blackguard, and the other a
buffoon. In my eyes, the "Lutrin," the "Dispensary," and the "Rape of
the Lock," are standards of grace and elegance, not to be paralleled by
antiquity; and eternal reproaches to Voltaire, whose indelicacy in the
"Pucelle" degraded him as much, when compared with the three authors I
have named, as his "Henriade" leaves Virgil, and even Lucan, whom he
more resembles, by far his superiors.

[Footnote 1: The "Lutrin" is a critical poem in six cantos. Lutrin means
a desk; and Hallam, who does not seem to rate it very highly, regards
the plan of it as borrowed from Tassoni's "Secchia rapita," Secchia
meaning a pitcher.]

"The Dunciad" is blemished by the offensive images of the games; but the
poetry appears to me admirable; and, though the fourth book has
obscurities, I prefer it to the three others: it has descriptions not
surpassed by any poet that ever existed, and which surely a writer
merely ingenious will never equal. The lines on Italy, on Venice, on
Convents, have all the grace for which I contend as distinct from
poetry, though united with the most beautiful; and the "Rape of the
Lock," besides the originality of great part of the invention, is a
standard of graceful writing.

In general, I believe that what I call grace, is denominated elegance;
but by grace I mean something higher. I will explain myself by
instances--Apollo is graceful, Mercury is elegant. Petrarch, perhaps,
owed his whole merit to the harmony of his numbers and the graces of his
style. They conceal his poverty of meaning and want of variety. His
complaints, too, may have added an interest, which, had his passion been
successful, and had expressed itself with equal sameness, would have
made the number of his sonnets insupportable. Melancholy in poetry, I am
inclined to think, contributes to grace, when it is not disgraced by
pitiful lamentations, such as Ovid's and Cicero's in their banishments.
We respect melancholy, because it imparts a similar affection, pity. A
gay writer, who should only express satisfaction without variety, would
soon be nauseous.

Madame de Sévigné shines both in grief and gaiety. There is too much of
sorrow for her daughter's absence; yet it is always expressed by new
terms, by new images, and often by wit, whose tenderness has a
melancholy air. When she forgets her concern, and returns to her natural
disposition--gaiety, every paragraph has novelty: her allusions, her
applications are the happiest possible. She has the art of making you
acquainted with all her acquaintance, and attaches you even to the spots
she inhabited. Her language is correct, though unstudied; and, when her
mind is full of any great event, she interests you with the warmth of a
dramatic writer, not with the chilling impartiality of an historian.
Pray read her accounts of the death of Turenne, and of the arrival of
King James in France, and tell me whether you do not know their persons
as if you had lived at the time.

For my part, if you will allow me a word of digression (not that I have
written with any method), I hate the cold impartiality recommended to
Historians: "Si vis me flere, dolendum est Primùm ipsi tibi:"[1] but,
that I may not wander again, nor tire, nor contradict you any more, I
will finish now, and shall be glad if you will dine at Strawberry Hill
next Sunday, and take a bed there, when I will tell you how many more
parts of your book have pleased me, than have startled my opinions, or,
perhaps, prejudices. I have the honour to be, Sir, with regard, &c.

[Footnote 1: A quotation from Horace's "Ars Poetica," 102.]



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Aug._ 26, 1785.

Though I am delighted to see your handwriting, I beg you will indulge me
no more with it. It fatigues you, and that gives me more pain than your
letters can give me satisfaction. Dictate a few words on your health to
your secretary; it will suffice. I don't care a straw about the King and
Queen of Naples, nor whether they visit your little Great Duke and
Duchess. I am glad when monarchs are playing with one another, instead
of scratching: it is better they should be idle than mischievous. As I
desire you not to write, I cannot be alarmed at a strange hand.

Your philosophic account of yourself is worthy of you. Still, I am
convinced you are better than you seem to think. A cough is vexatious,
but in old persons is a great preservative. It is one of the forms in
which the gout appears, and exercises and clears the lungs. I know
actually two persons, no chickens, who are always very ill if they have
no annual cough. You may imagine that I have made observations in plenty
on the gout: yes, yes, I know its ways and its jesuitic evasions. I beg
its pardon, it is a better soul than it appears to be; it is we that
misuse it: if it does not appear with all its credentials, we take it
for something else, and attempt to cure it. Being a remedy, and not a
disease, it will not be cured; and it is better to let it have its way.
If it is content to act the personage of a cough, pray humour it: it
will prolong your life, if you do not contradict it and fling it
somewhere else.

The Administration has received a total defeat in Ireland, which has
probably saved us another civil war.[1] Don't wonder that I am
continually recollecting my father's _Quieta non movere_. I have never
seen that maxim violated with impunity. They say, that in town a change
in the Ministry is expected. I am not of that opinion; but, indeed,
nobody can be more ignorant than I. I see nobody here but people
attached to the Court, and who, however, know no more than I do; and if
I did see any of the other side, they would not be able to give me
better information; nor am I curious.

[Footnote 1: In the session of 1785 Grattan opposed a body of
"resolutions" calculated to relieve the distress of the Irish
manufacturers, and altogether to emancipate the trade and commerce of
Ireland from many mischievous restrictions which had hitherto restrained
their progress. Lord Stanhope, in his "Life of Pitt," i. 273, quotes a
description of Grattan's speech as "a display of perhaps the most
beautiful eloquence ever heard, but seditious and inflammatory to a
degree hardly credible;" and he so far prevailed, that in the Irish
House of Commons the resolutions were only carried by a majority of
twenty-nine--one so small, that the Duke of Rutland, the
Lord-Lieutenant, felt it safer to withdraw them.]

A stranger event than a revolution in politics has happened at Paris.
The Cardinal de Rohan is committed to the Bastile for forging the
Queen's hand to obtain a collar of diamonds;[1] I know no more of the
story: but, as he is very gallant, it is guessed (_here_ I mean) that it
was a present for some woman. These circumstances are little Apostolic,
and will not prop the falling Church of Rome. They used to forge
donations and decretals. This is a new manoeuvre. Nor were Cardinals
wont to be treated so cavalierly for peccadilloes. The House of Rohan is
under a cloud: his Eminence's cousin, the Prince of Guemené,[2] was
forced to fly, two or three years ago, for being the Prince of
Swindlers. _Our_ Nabobs are not treated so roughly; yet I doubt they
collect diamonds still more criminally.

[Footnote 1: "_A collar of diamonds._" The transaction here referred
to--though, strangely enough, it is looked on as one that had a
political interest--was, in fact, a scheme of a broken-down gambler to
swindle a jeweller out of a diamond necklace of great value. The Court
jeweller had collected a large number of unusually fine diamonds, which
he had made into a necklace, in the hope that the Queen would buy it,
and the Cardinal de Rohan, who was a member of one of the noblest
families in France, but a man of a character so notoriously profligate,
that, when he was ambassador at Vienna, Maria Teresa had insisted on his
recall, was mixed up in the fraud in a manner scarcely compatible with
ignorance of its character. He was brought to trial with the more
evident agents in the fraud, and the whole history of the French
Parliaments scarcely records any transaction more disgraceful than his
acquittal. For some months the affair continued to furnish pretext to
obscure libellers to calumniate the Queen with insinuations not less
offensive than dangerous from their vagueness; all such writers finding
a ready paymaster in the infamous Duc d'Orléans.]

[Footnote 2: The Prince de Guemenée, a very profligate and extravagant
man, by 1782 had become so hopelessly embarrassed that he was compelled
to leave Paris, and consequently the Princess, his wife, who ever since
the birth of Louis XVI. had held the office of "Governess of the Royal
Children," a life-appointment, was forced to resign it, much to the
pleasure of the Queen, who disapproved of her character, and bestowed
the office on Mme. de Polignac, and when, at the beginning of the
Revolution, she also fled from Paris, on Mme. de Tourzel. But, in truth,
under Marie Antoinette the office was almost a sinecure. She considered
superintendence of the education of her children as among the most
important of her duties; and how judiciously she performed it is seen in
an admirable letter of hers to Mme. de Tourzel, which can hardly be
surpassed for its discernment and good-feeling. (See the Editor's "Life
of Marie Antoinette," iii. 55.)]

Your nephew will be sorry to hear that the Duke of Montrose's third
grandson, Master William Douglas, died yesterday of a fever. These poor
Montroses are most unfortunate persons! They had the comfort this spring
of seeing Lord Graham marry: the Duchess said, "I thought I should die
of grief, and now I am ready to die of joy." Lady Graham soon proved
with child, but soon miscarried; and the Duke and Duchess may not live
to have the consolation of seeing an heir--for we must hope and make
visions to the last! _I_ am asking for samples of Ginori's porcelain at
sixty-eight! Well! are not heirs to great names and families as frail
foundations of happiness? and what signifies what baubles we pursue?
Philosophers make systems, and we simpletons collections: and we are as
wise as they--wiser perhaps, for we know that in a few years our
rarities will be dispersed at an auction; and they flatter themselves
that their reveries will be immortal, which has happened to no system
yet. A curiosity may rise in value; a system is exploded.

Such reflections are applicable to politics, and make me look on them as
equally nugatory. Last year Mr. Fox was burnt in effigy; now Mr. Pitt
is. Oh! my dear Sir, it is all a farce! On _this day_, about a hundred
years ago (look at my date), was born the wisest man I have seen.[1] He
kept this country in peace for twenty years, and it flourished
accordingly. He injured no man; was benevolent, good-humoured, and did
nothing but the common necessary business of the State. Yet was he
burnt in effigy too; and so traduced, that his name is not purified
yet!--Ask why his memory is not in veneration? You will be told, from
libels and trash, that he was _the Grand Corruptor_.--What! did he
corrupt the nation to make it happy, rich, and peaceable? Who was
oppressed during his administration? Those saints Bolingbroke and
Pulteney were kept out of the Paradise of the Court; ay, and the
Pretender was kept out and was kept quiet. Sir Robert fell: a Rebellion
ensued in four years, and the crown shook on the King's head. The
nation, too, which had been tolerably corrupted before his time, and
which, with all its experience and with its eyes opened, has not cured
itself of being corrupt, is not quite so prosperous as in the day of
that man, who, it seems, poisoned its morals. Formerly it was the most
virtuous nation on the earth!

[Footnote 1: He means his own father, the Prime Minister from 1720 to

Under Henry VIII. and his children there was no persecution, no
fluctuation of religion: their Ministers shifted their faith four times,
and were sincere honest men! There was no servility, no flattery, no
contempt of the nation abroad, under James I. No tyranny under Charles
I. and Laud; no factions, no civil war! Charles II., however, brought
back all the virtues and morality, which, somehow or other, were
missing! His brother's was a still more blessed reign, though in a
different way! King William was disturbed and distressed by no
contending factions, and did not endeavour to bribe them to let him
pursue his great object of humbling France! The Duke of Marlborough was
not overborne in a similar and more glorious career by a detestable
Cabal!--and if Oxford and Bolingbroke did remove him, from the most
patriot motives, they, good men! used no corruption! Twelve Peerages
showered at once, to convert the House of Lords, were no bribes; nor was
a shilling issued for secret services; nor would a member of either
House have received it!

Sir R. Walpole came, and strange to tell, found the whole Parliament,
and every Parliament, at least a great majority of every Parliament,
ready to take his money. For what?--to undo their country!--which,
however, wickedly as he meant, and ready as they were to concur, he left
in every respect in the condition he found it, except in being improved
in trade, wealth, and tranquillity; till _its friends_ who expelled him,
had dipped their poor country in a war; which was far from mending its
condition. Sir Robert died, foretelling a rebellion, which happened in
less than six months, and for predicting which he had been ridiculed:
and in detestation of a maxim ascribed to him by his enemies, that
_every man has his price_, the tariff of every Parliament since has been
as well known as the price of beef and mutton; and the universal
electors, who cry out against that traffic, are not a jot less vendible
than their electors.--Was not Sir Robert Walpole an abominable Minister?


P.S.--The man who certainly provoked Ireland _to think_, is dead--Lord

[Footnote 1: Lord George Sackville Germaine, third son of Lionel [first]
Duke of Dorset, who, when secretary to his father, when Lord-Lieutenant
of Ireland, gave rise, by his haughty behaviour, to the factions that
have ever since disturbed that country, and at last shaken off its
submission to this country.--WALPOLE.]


I see, by the _Gazette_, that Lord Cowper's pinchbeck principality is
allowed. I wonder his Highness does not desire the Pope to make one of
his sons a bishop _in partibus infidelium_.



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Oct._ 4, 1785.

I don't love to transgress my monthly regularity; yet, as you must
prefer facts to words, why should I write when I have nothing to tell
you? The newspapers themselves in a peaceable autumn coin wonders from
Ireland, or live on the accidents of the Equinox. They, the newspapers,
have been in high spirits on the prospect of a campaign in Holland; but
the Dutch, without pity for the gazetteers of Europe, are said to have
submitted to the Emperor's terms: however, the intelligence-merchants
may trust that _he_ will not starve them long!

Your neighbour, the Queen of Sardinia, it seems, is dead: but, if there
was anything to say about her, you must tell it to me, not I to you;
for, till she died, I scarce knew she had been alive.

Our Parliament is put off till after Christmas; so, I have no more
resource from domestic politics than from foreign wars. For my own
particular, I desire neither. I live here in tranquillity and idleness,
can content myself with trifles, and think the world is much the happier
when it has nothing to talk of. Most people ask, "Is there any
news?"--How can one want to know one does not know what? when anything
has happened, one hears it.

There is one subject on which I wish I had occasion to write; I think it
long since I heard how you go on: I flatter myself, as I have no letter
from you or your nephew, prosperously. I should prefer a letter from
him, that you may not have the trouble; and I shall make this the
shorter, as a precedent for his not thinking more than a line necessary.
The post does not insist on a certain quantity; it is content with being
paid for whatever it carries--nay, is a little unreasonable, as it
doubles its price for a cover that contains nothing but a direction: and
now it is the fashion to curtail the direction as much as possible.
Formerly, a direction was an academy of compliments: "To the most noble
and my singularly respected friend," &c., &c.--and then, "Haste! haste,
for your life, haste!" Now, we have banished even the monosyllable _To_!
Henry Conway,[1] Lord Hertford's son, who is very indolent, and has much
humour, introduced that abridgment. Writing to a Mr. Tighe at the
Temple, he directed his letter only thus: "T. Ti., Temple"[2]--and it
was delivered! Dr. Bentley was mightily flattered on receiving a letter
superscribed "To Dr. Bentley in England." Times are altered; postmen are
now satisfied with a hint. One modern retrenchment is a blessing; one is
not obliged to study for an ingenious conclusion, as if writing an
epigram--oh! no; nor to send compliments that never were delivered. I
had a relation who always finished his letters with "his love to all
that was near and dear to us," though he did not care a straw for me or
any of his family. It was said of old Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough,
that she never put dots over her _i's_, to save ink: how she would have
enjoyed modern economy in that article! She would have died worth a
thousand farthings more than she did--nay, she would have known exactly
how many; as Sir Robert Brown[3] did, who calculated what he had saved
by never having an orange or lemon on his sideboard. I am surprised
that no economist has retrenched second courses, which always consist of
the dearest articles, though seldom touched, as the hungry at least dine
on the first. Mrs. Leneve,[4] one summer at Houghton, counted thirty-six
turkey-pouts[5] that had been served up without being meddled with.

[Footnote 1: Second son of Francis Seymour Conway, first Earl of

[Footnote 2: This address was surpassed towards the end of the reign, by
a letter which arrived in London addressed to "Srumfredafi, England;"
and was correctly interpreted at the Post Office as being designed for
Sir Humphrey Davy.]

[Footnote 3: A noted miser, who raised a great fortune as a merchant at
Venice, though his whole wealth, when he went thither, consisted in one
of those vast wigs (a second-hand one, given to him) which were worn in
the reign of Queen Anne, and which he sold for five guineas. He returned
to England, very rich, in the reign of George II., with his wife and
three daughters, who would have been great fortunes. The eldest, about
eighteen, fell into a consumption, and, being ordered to ride, her
father drew a map of the by-lanes about London, which he made the
footman carry in his pocket and observe, that she might ride without
paying a turnpike. When the poor girl was past recovery, Sir Robert sent
for an undertaker, to cheapen her funeral, as she was not dead, and
there was a possibility of her living. He went farther; he called his
other daughters, and bade them curtsy to the undertaker, and promise to
be his friends; and so they proved, for both died consumptive in two

[Footnote 4: A lady who lived with Sir Robert Walpole, to take care of
his youngest daughter, Lady Maria, after her mother's death. After Sir
Robert's death, and Lady Mary's marriage with Mr. Churchill, she lived
with Mr. H. Walpole to her death.--WALPOLE.]

[Footnote 5: As the sons of rajahs in India are called Rajah Pouts, and
as turkeys came from the East, quaere if they were not called
Turkey-pouts, as an Eastern diminutive?--WALPOLE.]


I had written thus far yesterday. This minute I receive your nephew's of
Sept. 20th; it is not such an one by any means as I had wished for. He
tells me you have had a return of your disorder--indeed, he consoles me
with your recovery; but I cannot in a moment shake off the impression of
a sudden alarm, though the cause was ceased, nor can a second agitation
calm a first on such shattered nerves as mine. My fright is over, but I
am not composed. I cannot begin a new letter, and therefore send what I
had written. I will only add, what you may be sure I feel, ardent wishes
for your perfect health, and grateful thanks to your nephew for his
attention--he is rather your son; but indeed he is Gal.'s son, and that
is the same thing. How I love him for his attendance on you! and how
very kind he is in giving me accounts of you! I hope he will continue,
and I ask it still more for your sake than for my own, that you may not
think of writing yourself. If he says but these words, "My uncle has had
no return of his complaint," I shall be satisfied--satisfied!--I shall
be quite happy! Indeed, indeed, I ask no more.



BERKELEY SQUARE, _Oct._ 30, 1785.

I am a contradiction, yet very naturally so; I wish you not to write
yourself, and yet am delighted when I receive a letter in your own hand:
however, I don't desire it should be of four pages, like this last of
the 11th. When I have had the gout, I have always written by proxy. You
will make me ashamed, if you don't use the precedent. Your account of
yourself is quite to my satisfaction. I approve, too, of your not dining
with your company. Since I must be old and have the gout, I have long
turned those disadvantages to my own account, and plead them to the
utmost when they will save me from doing anything I dislike. I am so
lame, or have such a sudden pain, when I do not care to do what is
proposed to me! Nobody can tell how rapidly the gout may be come, or be
gone again; and then it is so pleasant to have had the benefit, and
none of the anguish!

I did send you a line last week in the cover of a letter to Lady
Craven,[1] which I knew would sufficiently tell your quickness how much
I shall be obliged to you for any attentions to her. I thought her at
Paris, and was surprised to hear of her at Florence. She has, I fear,
been _infinitamente_ indiscreet; but what is that to you or me? She is
very pretty, has parts, and is good-natured to the greatest degree; has
not a grain of malice or mischief (almost always the associates, in
women, of tender hearts), and never has been an enemy but to herself.
For that ridiculous woman Madame Piozzi,[2] and t'other more impertinent
one, of whom I never heard before, they are like the absurd English
dames with whom we used to divert ourselves when I was at Florence. As
to your little knot of poets, I do not hold the cocks higher than the
hens; nor would I advise them to repatriate. We have at present here a
most incomparable set, not exactly known by their names, but who, till
the dead of summer, kept the town in a roar, and, I suppose, will revive
by the meeting of Parliament. They have poured forth a torrent of odes,
epigrams, and part of an imaginary epic poem, called the "Rolliad,"[3]
with a commentary and notes, that is as good as the "Dispensary"[4] and
"Dunciad," with more ease. These poems are all anti-ministerial, and
the authors very young men, and little known or heard of before. I would
send them, but you would want too many keys: and indeed I want some
myself; for, as there are continually allusions to Parliamentary
speeches and events, they are often obscure to me till I get them
explained; and besides, I do not know several of the satirised heroes
even by sight: however, the poetry and wit make amends, for they are

[Footnote 1: Lady Craven, _née_ Berkeley, had given abundant cause for
scandal during her husband's life, which did not abate when, a month
after his death, she married the Margrave of Anspach.]

[Footnote 2: Mme. Piozzi, the Mrs. Thrale of Boswell's "Life of
Johnson." Mr. Thrale was a brewer, the founder of the great firm now
known as Barclay and Perkins. She was many years younger than he; and,
after his death, she married Signor Piozzi, a professional musician of
eminence. Johnson, who had been an habitual guest of her husband and her
at their villa at Streatham, set the fashion of condemning this second
marriage as a disgraceful _mésalliance_; but it is not very easy to see
in what respect it was so. In social position she had certainly had the
advantage over Mr. Thrale, being the daughter of a Carnarvonshire
baronet of ancient family. But a first-rate musician was surely the
equal of a brewer. After Johnson's death she published a volume of her
reminiscences of him, which may be allowed to have been worthy neither
of him nor of her, and which was ridiculed by Peter Pindar in "A Town
Eclogue," in which the rivals Bozzy and Piozzi, on Virgil's
principle--_Alternis dicetis, amant alterna Camaenae_--relate in turn
anecdotes of Johnson's way of life, his witty sayings, &c., &c. Sir John
Hawkins, as judge of the contest, gives neither a prize; tells the lady,
"Sam's Life, dear ma'am, will only _damn your own_;" calls the gentleman
"a chattering magpie;" and--

    Then to their pens and paper rush'd the twain,
    To kill the mangled RAMBLER o'er again.]

[Footnote 3: In 1785 the wits of Brooks's, being much disappointed at
the result of the political conflict of 1784, gave some vent to their
spleen in verse. For their subject they selected an imaginary epic, of
which they gave fictitious extracts, and for their hero they took the
Member for Devonshire, John Rolle, invoking him--

    Illustrious Rolle! oh may thy honoured name
    Roll down distinguished on the rolls of fame.

It is a little odd that they abstained from similar puns on Pitt and
_pit_; but their indignation was chiefly directed at his youth as
ill-suited to his powers--

    A sight to make surrounding nations stare,
    A kingdom trusted to a schoolboy's care.

The chief contributors were Burke's friend, Dr. Lawrence; Sheridan's
brother-in-law, Tickell; General Fitzpatrick, Mr. G. Ellis, Lord G.
Townshend, and General Burgoyne.]

[Footnote 4: "The Dispensary" was a poem by a physician named Garth, to
advocate the cause of the physicians in a quarrel between them and the
apothecaries about the price to be charged for medicines. Johnson, in
his "Lives of the Poets," allows it the credit of smooth and free
versification, but denies it that of elegance. "No passage falls below
mediocrity, and few rise above it." It may be doubted whether Byron
himself could have risen high "above it" on subjects so unpoetical as
pills and black-doses.]

News I have none, wet or dry, to send you: politics are stagnated, and
pleasure is not come to town. You may be sure I am glad that Caesar is
baffled; I neither honour nor esteem him. If he is preferring his nephew
to his brother, it is using the latter as ill as the rest of the world.

Mrs. Damer is again set out for the Continent to-day, to avoid the
winter, which is already begun severely; we have had snow twice. Till
last year, I never knew snow in October since I can remember; which is
no short time. Mrs. Damer has taken with her her cousin Miss Campbell,
daughter of poor Lady William, whom you knew, and who died last year.
Miss Campbell has always lived with Lady Aylesbury, and is a very great
favourite and a very sensible girl. I believe they will proceed to
Italy, but it is not certain. If they come to Florence, the Grand Duke
should beg Mrs. Damer to give him something of her statuary; and it
would be a greater curiosity than anything in his Chamber of Painters.
She has executed several marvels since you saw her; and has lately
carved two colossal heads for the bridge at Henley, which is the most
beautiful one in the world, next to the Ponte di Trinità, and was
principally designed by her father, General Conway. Lady Spencer
draws--incorrectly indeed, but has great expression. Italy probably will
stimulate her, and improve her attention. You see we blossom in ruin!
Poetry, painting, statuary, architecture, music, linger here,

    on this sea-encircled coast (GRAY),

as if they knew not whither to retreat farther for shelter, and would
not trust to the despotic patronage of the Attilas, Alarics, Amalasuntas
of the North! They leave such heroic scourges to be decorated by the
Voltaires and D'Alemberts of the Gauls, or wait till by the improvement
of balloons they may be transported to some of those millions of worlds
that Herschel[1] is discovering every day; for this new Columbus has
thrown open the great gates of astronomy, and neither Spanish
inquisitors nor English Nabobs will be able to torture and ransack the
new regions and their inhabitants. Adieu!

[Footnote 1: Herschel, having constructed the largest telescope that at
that time had ever been seen, in 1781 had given proof of its value by
the discovery of the _Georgium sidus_.]



[Footnote 1: Miss H. More was a remarkable woman. She was the daughter
of the village schoolmaster of Stapleton, near Bristol. But though she
had no higher education than he could give her, she soon began to show a
considerable literary talent. Her first compositions were dramas, one of
which, "Percy," Garrick accepted for the stage, where for a season it
had fair success. But she soon quitted that line for works of morality,
intended to promote the religious improvement of society in her day. The
most celebrated of them was "Coelebs in Search of a Wife." But some of
the tales which she published in "The Cheap Repository," a series of
stories for the common people, had a greater sale. One, "The Shepherd of
Salisbury Plain," was so popular that it is said that a million copies
of it were sold. Her talents led to her acquaintance being cultivated by
such men as Johnson, Reynolds, Burke, and Bishop Porteus; and her
exercise of them was so profitable, that though she gave large sums in
charity, she left a fortune of £30,000.]

STRAWBERRY HILL, _Oct._ 14, 1787.

My dear Madam,--I am shocked for human nature at the repeated
malevolence of this woman! [Mrs. Yearsley.] The rank soil of riches we
are accustomed to see overrun with seeds and thistles; but who could
expect that the kindest seeds sown on poverty and dire misfortunes
should meet with nothing but a rock at bottom? Catherine de' Medici,
suckled by hopes and transplanted to a throne, seems more excusable.
Thank heaven, Madam, for giving you so excellent a heart; ay, and so
good a head. You are not only benevolence itself, but, with fifty times
the genius of a Yearsley, you are void of vanity. How strange, that
vanity should expel gratitude! Does not the wretched woman owe her fame
to you, as well as her affluence? I can testify your labours for both.
Dame Yearsley reminds me of the Troubadours, those vagrants whom I used
to admire till I knew their history; and who used to pour out trumpery
verses, and flatter or abuse accordingly as they were housed and
clothed, or dismissed to the next parish. Yet you did not set this
person in the stocks, after procuring an annuity for her! I beg your
pardon for renewing so disgusting a subject, and will never mention it
again. You have better amusement; you love good works, a temper superior
to revenge.

I have again seen our poor friend in Clarges Street [Mrs. Vesey]: her
faculties decay rapidly, and of course she suffers less. She has not an
acquaintance in town; and yet told me the town was very full, and that
she had had a good deal of company. Her health is re-established, and we
must now be content that her mind is not restless. My pity now feels
most for Mrs. Hancock, whose patience is inexhaustible, though not

Mrs. Piozzi, I hear, has two volumes of Dr. Johnson's Letters ready for
publication. Bruce is printing his travels, which I suppose will prove
that his narratives were fabulous, as he will scarce repeat them by the
press. These, and two more volumes of Mr. Gibbon's "History," are all
the literary news I know. France seems sunk indeed in all respects. What
stuff are their theatrical goods, their "Richards," "Ninas," and
"Tarares"! But when their "Figaro"[1] could run threescore nights, how
despicable must their taste be grown! I rejoice that their political
intrigues are not more creditable. I do not dislike the French from the
vulgar antipathy between neighbouring nations, but for their insolent
and unfounded airs of superiority. In arms, we have almost always
outshone them: and till they have excelled Newton, and come near to
Shakspeare, pre-eminence in genius must remain with us. I think they are
most entitled to triumph over the Italians; as, with the most meagre and
inharmonious of all languages, the French have made more of that poverty
in tragedy and eloquence, than the Italians have done with the language
the most capable of both. But I did not mean to send you a dissertation.
I hope it will not be long before you remove to Hampton.--Yet why should
I wish that? You will only be geographically nearer to London till
February. Cannot you, now and then, sleep at the Adelphi on a visit to
poor Vesey and your friends, and let one know if you do?

[Footnote 1: "Le Mariage de Figaro" was a play by a man who assumed the
name of Beaumarchais (as Poquelin had taken the name of Molière and
Arouet that of Voltaire); and the histories of both the author and the
play are curious. The author's real name was Caron, and he had been bred
a watchmaker. But he was ambitious; he gave up his trade, and bought a
place about the Court, which was among those which conferred gentility,
and which enabled him afterwards on one occasion to boast that he could
establish a better claim to the rank of noble than most of that body,
since he could produce a stamped receipt for it. He married two rich
widows. He next obtained the place of music-master on the harp to the
daughters of Louis XV., and conducted some of their concerts. He became
involved in a law-suit, which he conducted in person against some of the
most renowned advocates of the day, and gained great applause for the
talent he had exhibited in his pleadings. He crossed over to England,
where he made acquaintance with Wilkes and the agents of some of the
North American colonies, and became a volunteer agent for them himself
at the beginning of the American war, expending, according to his own
statement, 150,000 francs in the purchase of arms and stores, which he
sent out, when the President of Congress contented himself with thanking
him for his liberality, but refused to pay his bill. He resolved to try
his skill as a dramatist. His earlier plays were not particularly
successful, but in 1781 he produced "The Marriage of Figaro," a sort of
sequel to one of its predecessors, "The Barber of Seville." During the
progress of its composition he had shown some of the scenes to his
critical friends, who had pronounced it witty, and prophesied its
success. But it had also become known that it contained sarcasms on some
of the exclusive privileges of the nobles, and the officer who had
charge of such matters in consequence refused to license it for
performance, as a dangerous satire on the institutions of the country.
He had by this time made friends enough to form a party to remonstrate
against the hardship of the Censor's decision; till the King determined
to judge for himself, and caused Mme. Campau to read it to himself and
the Queen, when he fully agreed with the Censor, and expressed a
positive determination not to permit its performance. Unluckily he was
never firm in his resolutions; and Beaumarchais having secured the
patronage of Louis's brother, the Comte d'Artois, and Mme. de Polignac,
felt confident of carrying his point at last. His royal and noble
patrons arranged parties for private readings of the play. He then
declared, untruly, that he had altered all the passages which had been
deemed offensive, and Louis was weak enough to believe him without
further examination, and to sanction a private performance of it at the
country house of the Comte de Vandreuel. After this it was impossible to
exclude it from the theatre in Paris; and in April, 1784, it was acted
before an audience whom the long-continued contest had brought in
unprecedented numbers to hear it. If it had not been for the opposition
which had been made to it, it probably would never have attracted any
particular attention; for, though it was lively, and what managers call
a fair "acting play," it had no remarkable merit as a composition, and
depended for its attraction more on some of its surprises and
discoveries than on its wit. But its performance and the reception it
met with were regarded by a large political party as a triumph over the
Ministry; and French historical writers, to whatever party they belong,
agree in declaring that it had given a death-blow to many of the oldest
institutions of the country, and that Beaumarchais proved at once the
herald and the pioneer of the approaching Revolution. (See the Editor's
"Life of Marie Antoinette," c. 19.)]



Strawberry Hill, _July_ 12, 1788.

Won't you repent having opened the correspondence, my dear Madam, when
you find my letters come so thick upon you? In this instance, however, I
am only to blame in part, for being too ready to take advice, for the
sole reason for which advice ever is taken,--because it fell in with my

You said in your last that you feared you took up time of mine to the
prejudice of the public; implying, I imagine, that I might employ it in
composing. Waving both your compliment and my own vanity, I will speak
very seriously to you on that subject, and with exact truth. My simple
writings have had better fortune than they had any reason to expect; and
I fairly believe, in a great degree, because gentlemen-writers, who do
not write for interest, are treated with some civility if they do not
write absolute nonsense. I think so, because I have not unfrequently
known much better works than mine much more neglected, if the name,
fortune, and situation of the authors were below mine. I wrote early
from youth, spirits, and vanity; and from both the last when the first
no longer existed. I now shudder when I reflect on my own boldness; and
with mortification, when I compare my own writings with those of any
great authors. This is so true, that I question whether it would be
possible for me to summon up courage to publish anything I have written,
if I could recall time past, and should yet think as I think at present.
So much for what is over and out of my power. As to writing now, I have
totally forsworn the profession, for two solid reasons. One I have
already told you; and it is, that I know my own writings are trifling
and of no depth. The other is, that, light and futile as they were, I am
sensible they are better than I could compose now. I am aware of the
decay of the middling parts I had, and others may be still more sensible
of it. How do I know but I am superannuated? nobody will be so coarse as
to tell me so; but if I published dotage, all the world would tell me
so. And who but runs that risk who is an author after seventy? What
happened to the greatest author of this age, and who certainly retained
a very considerable portion of his abilities for ten years after my
age?[1] Voltaire, at eighty-four, I think, went to Paris to receive the
incense, in person, of his countrymen, and to be witness of their
admiration of a tragedy he had written, at that Methusalem age. Incense
he did receive till it choked him; and, at the exhibition of his play,
he was actually crowned with laurel in the box where he sat. But what
became of his poor play? It died as soon as he did--was buried with him;
and no mortal, I dare to say, has ever read a line of it since, it was
so bad.

[Footnote 1: Voltaire had for several years been in disgrace at Court,
and had been living in Switzerland; but in 1778 he returned to Paris to
superintend the performance of a new tragedy, "Irene." He was, however,
greatly mortified at the refusal of Marie Antoinette to allow him to be
presented to her, and was but partly comforted by the enthusiasm of the
audience at the theatre, who crowned him on the stage after the
performance. Mme. du Deffand, who, in a letter to Walpole a few days
before, had said that if the tragedy did not succeed it would kill him,
says in a subsequent letter that its success had been very
moderate--that the enthusiasm of the audience had been for Voltaire
himself; and at all events her prophecy was fulfilled, for he died a few
weeks afterwards.]

As I am neither by a thousandth part so great, nor a quarter so little,
I will herewith send you a fragment that an accidental _rencontre_ set
me upon writing, and which I find so flat, that I would not finish it.
Don't believe that I am either begging praise by the stale artifice of
hoping to be contradicted; or that I think there is any occasion to make
you discover my caducity. No; but the fragment contains a
curiosity--English verses written by a French Prince[1] of the Blood,
and which at first I had a mind to add to my "Royal and Noble Authors;"
but as he was not a royal author of ours, and as I could not please
myself with an account of him, I shall revert to my old resolution of
not exposing my pen's grey hairs.

[Footnote 1: He was the Duc d'Orléans, who was taken prisoner by Henry
V. at Agincourt, and was detained in England for twenty-five years. The
verses are published in "Walpole's Works," i. 564.]

Of one passage I must take notice; it is a little indirect sneer at our
crowd of authoresses. My choosing to send this to _you_, is a proof that
I think you an author, that is, a classic. But, in truth, I am
nauseated by the Madams Piozzi, &c., and the host of novel-writers in
petticoats, who think they imitate what is inimitable, "Evelina" and
"Cecilia."[1] Your candour, I know, will not agree with me, when I tell
you I am not at all charmed with Miss Seward[2] and Mr. Hayley[3] piping
to one another: but _you_ I exhort, and would encourage to write; and
flatter myself you will never be royally gagged and promoted to fold
muslins, as has been lately wittily said on Miss Burney, in the List of
five hundred living authors. _Your_ writings promote virtues; and their
increasing editions prove their worth and utility. If you question my
sincerity, can you doubt my admiring you, when you have gratified _my_
self-love so amply in your "Bas Bleu"? Still, as much as I love your
writings, I respect yet more your heart and your goodness. You are so
good that I believe you would go to heaven, even though there were no
Sunday, and only six _working_ days in the week. Adieu, my best Madam!

[Footnote 1: "Evelina" and "Cecilia" are novels by Miss Burney,
afterwards Mme. d'Arblay. The former was extravagantly praised by
Johnson and the Literary Club, and is probably a favourable specimen of
the style of the conversation of the day.]

[Footnote 2: Miss Seward was the authoress of that most ingenious riddle
on the letter _H_, and also of some volumes of poetry.]

[Footnote 3: Mr. Hayley was the author of several works in prose and
verse; in the latter, of a poem called "The Triumphs of Temper," and
entitled to the name, according to Byron, since "at least they triumphed
over his" ("English Bards and Scotch Reviewers").]



BERKELEY SQUARE, _Feb._ 12, 1789.

I now do believe that the King is coming to _him_self: not in the
language of the courtiers, to his senses--but from their proof, viz.,
that he is returned to his _what! what! what!_ which he used to prefix
to every sentence, and which is coming to his nonsense. I am
corroborated in this opinion by his having said much more sensible
things in his lunacy than he did when he was reckoned sane, which I do
not believe he has been for some years.

Well! now, how will this new change of scene operate? I fancy if any one
could win access to him, who would tell him the truth, he would be as
little pleased with his Queen, and his or her Pitt, as they will take
care he shall be with his sons. Would he admire the degradation of his
family in the person of all the Princes? or with the tripartite division
of Royalty between the Queen, the Prince, and Mr. Pitt, which I call a
_Trinity in disunity_? Will he be charmed with the Queen's admission to
power, which he never imparted to her? Will he like the discovery of his
vast private hoard? Will he be quite satisfied with the codicil to his
Will,[1] which she surreptitiously obtained from him in his frenzy _in
the first agony of her grief_? How will he digest that discovery of his
treasure, which will not diffuse great compassion when he shall next ask
a payment of his pretended debts? Before his madness he was indisposed
towards Pitt; will he be better pleased with him for his new dictatorial

[Footnote 1: "_His will._" This refers to a scandal propagated by some
of the opposition newspapers, for which there was not the slightest

Turn to the next page--to Ireland. They have chosen for themselves, it
is believed, a Regent without restrictions,[1] in scorn of the
Parliament of England, and in order further to assert their
independence. Will they recede? especially when their courtiers have
flown in the face of our domineering Minister? I do not think they will.
They may receive the King again on his recovery; but they have united
interests with the Prince, and act in league with him, that he may
pledge himself to them more deeply in future at least; they will
never again acknowledge any superiority in our Parliament, but rather
act in contradistinction.

[Footnote 1: "_Regent without restrictions._" The King, in the autumn of
1788, having fallen into a state of temporary derangement, Pitt proposed
that the Parliament should appoint the Prince of Wales Regent, with some
temporary limitations in the exercise of the power. Fox and his
followers contended that the Prince, being of full age, was as
absolutely entitled to the Regency as his right, as he would have been
to the Crown in the event of his father's death; and Grattan, who had a
paramount influence over the Irish Parliament, adopting Fox's view,
carried an address to the Prince, entreating him to take upon himself
the Regency as his right--a view which, of course, was incompatible with
any power of limiting his authority. Fortunately, before this address
could be acted upon, the King recovered. The matter unfortunately caused
great divisions in the Royal Family, to which Walpole alludes in the
latter part of the letter; the Queen considering (not without grounds)
that the Prince had shown unfilial eagerness to grasp at power; and
indeed he had already made it known that he had intended to dismiss Pitt
and to appoint Fox Prime Minister.]

[Illustration: Hand-written Letter]

_Feb. 22nd._

The person who was to have brought you this was prevented leaving town,
and therefore I did not finish my letter; but I believe I shall have
another opportunity of sending, and therefore I will make it ready.

Much has happened this last week. The Prince is Regent of Ireland
without limitations--a great point for his character; for Europe will
now see that it was a faction which fettered him here, and not his
unpopularity, for then would not he have been as much distasted in
Ireland? Indeed, their own Attorney-General made way for him by opposing
on the most injudicious of all pleas, that it would be necessary before
he could be Regent there, to set the _Great Seal of England_ to the act!
How could the fool imagine, that when that phantom had been invented
here, it would not be equally easy for the Irish to invent a parallel
phantom of their own? But though this compliment is most grateful to the
Prince at present, he will probably find hereafter that he has in effect
lost Ireland, who meant more to emancipate themselves from this country
than to compliment the Prince or contradict the English ministerial

What will be the consequence of that rapid turn in Ireland, even
immediately, who can tell? for the King is called recovered, and the
English Regency is suspended, with fresh and grievous insults to the
Prince, who with the Duke of York are violently hindered by the Queen
from even seeing their father, though she and their sisters play at
cards with him in an evening; and that the Chancellor was with him for
an hour and three quarters on the 19th.

Under colour of what new phantom her Majesty, the Chancellor,[1] and
Pitt will assume the Government, we shall know in two or three days; for
I do not suppose they will produce the King instantly, at the risk of
oversetting his head again, though they seem half as mad as he, and
capable of any violent act to maintain themselves. And so much the
better: I do not wish them temperate; and it looks as if people never
were so in minorities and incapacities of their kings. The Prince set
out as indiscreetly as Pitt.

[Footnote 1: The Chancellor was Lord Thurlow, an able but unprincipled
man. Johnson expressed a high opinion of him as an arguer "who brought
his mind to bear upon yours." But Fox declared his very face "proved him
an impostor, since no man could be as wise as he looked."]

Of the event I am very glad; it saves the Prince and the Opposition from
the rashness of changing the Administration on so precarious and
shackled a tenure, and it saves them too from the expense of
re-elections. If the King recovers, they are but where they were, but
with the advantage of having the Prince and Duke of York rooted in
aversion to the Ministers, and most unlikely to be governed by the
Queen. If the King relapses, the Opposition stock will rise; though in
the mean time I do not doubt but the nation will grow drunk with the
loyalty of rejoicing, for kings grow popular by whatever way they lose
their heads. Still, whatever eccentricity he attempts, it will be
imputed to his deranged understanding. And, however even Lord
Hawkesbury[1] may meditate the darkest mischiefs under the new fund of
pity and loyalty, he will _not_ be for extending the prerogative, which
must devolve (on any accident to the King) on the Prince, Duke of York,
or some of the Princes, who will all be linked in a common cause with
their brothers, who have been so grossly affronted; and Prince William,
the third, particularly so by the last cause of hindering his peerage
while abroad. The King's recovery before the Regency Act was passed will
be another great advantage to the Prince; his hands would have been so
shackled, that he could not have found places for half the expectants,
who will now impute their disappointments to the King's amendment, and
not to the Prince.

[Footnote 1: Lord Hawkesbury was afterwards promoted to the Earldom of
Liverpool, and was the father of the sagacious, prudent, but resolute
minister under whose administration the French Revolutionary War was
brought to a conclusion by the final overthrow of Napoleon.]

_Monday, 24th._

The King has seen the Prince [of Wales], and received him kindly, but
the Queen was present. Iron Pluto (as Burke called the Chancellor) wept
again when with the King; but what is much more remarkable, his Majesty
has not asked for Pitt, and did abuse him constantly during his frenzy.
The Chancellor certainly did not put him in mind of Pitt, whom he
detests; so there is a pretty portion of hatred to be quaffed amongst
them! and swallowed, if they can; yet _aurum potabile_ will make it sit
on their stomachs.



[Footnote 1: The lady to whom this letter is addressed was the elder of
two sisters who in 1787 came to reside with their father in Walpole's
neighbourhood. Both the sisters, according to his description of them,
were very accomplished and sufficiently good-looking. He gradually
became so enthusiastic in his regard for her, that he proposed to marry
her, old as he was, in order that he might have an excuse for leaving
her all his fortune; and he wrote the "Reminiscences of the Courts of
George I. and II.," which are among his published works, for the
amusement of the two sisters.]

STRAWBERRY HILL, _June_ 30, 1789.

Were there any such thing as sympathy at the distance of two hundred
miles, you would have been in a mightier panic than I was; for, on
Saturday se'nnight, going to open the glass case in the Tribune, my foot
caught in the carpet, and I fell with my whole weight (_si_ weight _y
a_) against the corner of the marble altar, on my side, and bruised the
muscles so badly, that for two days I could not move without screaming.
I am convinced I should have broken a rib, but that I fell on the cavity
whence two of my ribs were removed, that are gone to Yorkshire. I am
much better both of my bruise and of my lameness, and shall be ready to
dance at my own wedding when my wives return. And now to answer your

If you grow tired of the "Arabian Nights," you have no more taste than
Bishop Atterbury,[1] who huffed Pope for sending him them (or the
"Persian Tales"), and fancied he liked Virgil better, who had no more
imagination than Dr. Akenside. Read "Sinbad the Sailor's Voyages," and
you will be sick of Aeneas's. What woful invention were the nasty
poultry that dunged on his dinner, and ships on fire turned into
Nereids! A barn metamorphosed into a cascade in a pantomime is full as
sublime an effort of genius. I do not know whether the "Arabian Nights"
are of Oriental origin or not: I should think not, because I never saw
any other Oriental composition that was not bombast without genius, and
figurative without nature; like an Indian screen, where you see little
men on the foreground, and larger men hunting tigers above in the air,
which they take for perspective. I do not think the Sultaness's
narratives very natural or very probable, but there is a wildness in
them that captivates. However, if you could wade through two octavos of
Dame Piozzi's _though's_ and _so's_ and _I trow's_, and cannot listen to
seven volumes of Scheherezade's narrations, I will sue for a divorce _in
foro Parnassi_, and Boccalini shall be my proctor. The cause will be a
counterpart to the sentence of the Lacedaemonian, who was condemned for
breach of the peace, by saying in three words what he might have said in

[Footnote 1: Atterbury (Pope's "mitred Rochester") was Bishop of
Rochester in the reigns of Anne and George I. He was so violent in his
Jacobitism, that on the death of Queen Anne he offered to head a
procession to proclaim James III. as king at Charing Cross. Afterwards
Sir R. Walpole had evidence of his maintaining a treasonable
correspondence with the Court of St. Germains, sufficient to have
ensured his conviction, but, being always of a merciful disposition, and
naturally unwilling to bring a Bishop to the block, he contented himself
with passing a Bill of Pains and Penalties to deprive him of his
bishopric and banish him for life.]

You are not the first Eurydice[1] that has sent her husband to the
devil, as you have kindly proposed to me; but I will not undertake the
jaunt, for if old Nicholas Pluto should enjoin me not to look back to
you, I should certainly forget the prohibition like my predecessor.
Besides, I am a little too close to take a voyage twice which I am so
soon to repeat; and should be laughed at by the good folks on the other
side of the water, if I proposed coming back for a twinkling only. No; I
choose as long as I can

    Still with my fav'rite Berrys to remain.

So, you was not quite satisfied, though you ought to have been
transported, with King's College Chapel, because it has no aisles, like
every common cathedral. I suppose you would object to a bird of
paradise, because it has no legs, but shoots to heaven in a trail, and
does not rest on earth. Criticism and comparison spoil many tastes. You
should admire all bold and unique essays that resemble nothing else; the
"Botanic Garden,"[2] the "Arabian Nights," and King's Chapel are above
all rules: and how preferable is what no one can imitate, to all that is
imitated even from the best models! Your partiality to the pageantry of
popery I do approve, and I doubt whether the world would not be a loser
(in its visionary enjoyments) by the extinction of that religion, as it
was by the decay of chivalry and the proscription of the heathen
deities. Reason has no invention; and as plain sense will never be the
legislator of human affairs, it is fortunate when taste happens to be

[Footnote 1: The story of Eurydice's death and the descent of Orpheus,
her husband, to hell for her recovery, with which Virgil closes the
fourth Georgic, is among the most exquisite passages in all Latin
poetry. Pope made it the subject of his Ode on St. Cecilia's Day; but if
Pluto and Proserpine really relented at the doggerel that the English
poet puts into the mouth of the half-divine minstrel, they cannot
deserve the title of _illacrymabiles_ which Horace gives them. Some of
the pedantic scientists (to borrow a new word) have discovered in this
tale of true love an allegory about the alternations of Day and Night,
Sun and Moon, and what not, for which they deserve the anathema of every
scholar and lover of true poetry.]

[Footnote 2: "The Botanic Garden," a poem by Dr. Darwin; chiefly
remembered for Mr. Gladstone's favourite "Upas-tree," a plant which has
not, and never had, any existence except in the fancy of some traveller,
who hoaxed the too-scientific poet with the story, which, years
afterwards, hoaxed the orator also.]



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Wednesday night, July_ 15, 1789.

I write a few lines only to confirm the truth of much of what you will
read in the papers from Paris. Worse may already be come, or is expected
every hour.

Mr. Mackenzie and Lady Betty called on me before dinner, after the post
was gone out; and he showed me a letter from Dutens, who said two
couriers arrived yesterday from the Duke of Dorset and the Duchess of
Devonshire, the latter of whom was leaving Paris directly. Necker had
been dismissed, and was thought to be set out for Geneva.[1] Breteuil,
who was at his country-house, had been sent for to succeed him. Paris
was in an uproar; and, after the couriers had left it, firing of cannon
was heard for four hours together. That must have been from the Bastile,
as probably the _tiers état_ were not so provided. It is shocking to
imagine what may have happened in such a thronged city! One of the
couriers was stopped twice or thrice, as supposed to pass from the King;
but redeemed himself by pretending to be despatched by the _tiers état_.
Madame de Calonne[2] told Dutens, that the newly encamped troops desert
by hundreds.

[Footnote 1: The Baron de Breteuil had been the Controller of the
Household, and was appointed Necker's successor; but his Ministry did
not last above a fortnight, as the King found himself compelled to
restore Necker.]

[Footnote 2: Mme. de Calonne's husband had been Prime Minister for some
years, having succeeded Necker in 1780.]

Here seems the egg to be hatched, and imagination runs away with the
idea. I may fancy I shall hear of the King and Queen leaving Versailles,
like Charles the First, and then skips imagination six-and-forty years
lower, and figures their fugitive Majesties taking refuge in this
country. I have besides another idea. If the Bastile conquers, still is
it impossible, considering the general spirit in the country, and the
numerous fortified places in France, but some may be seized by the
_dissidents_, and whole provinces be torn from the Crown? On the other
hand, if the King prevails, what heavy despotism will the _états_, by
their want of temper and moderation, have drawn on their country! They
might have obtained many capital points, and removed great oppression.
No French monarch will ever summon _états_ again, if this moment has
been thrown away.

Though I have stocked myself with such a set of visions for the event
either way, I do not pretend to foresee what will happen. Penetration
argues from reasonable probabilities; but chance and folly are apt to
contradict calculation, and hitherto they seem to have full scope for
action. One hears of no genius on either side, nor do symptoms of any
appear. There will perhaps: such times and tempests bring forth, at
least bring out, great men. I do not take the Duke of Orléans[1] or
Mirabeau[2] to be built _du bois dont on les fait_; no, nor Monsieur
Necker. He may be a great traitor, if he made the confusion designedly:
but it is a woful evasion, if the promised financier slips into a black
politician! I adore liberty, but I would bestow it as honestly as I
could; and a civil war, besides being a game of chance, is paying a very
dear price for it.

[Footnote 1: The Duke of Orléans, the infamous Égalité, fomented the
Revolution in the hope that it might lead to the deposition of the King,
and to his own election to the throne, as in England, a century before,
the Prince of Orange had succeeded James II. He voted for the death of
his cousin and king, and was, in just retribution, sent to the
guillotine by Robespierre at the end of the same year.]

[Footnote 2: Mirabeau was the most celebrated of all the earlier leaders
of the Revolution. At the time of this letter he had connected himself
closely with the Duc d'Orléans, in whose pay, in fact, he was, as his
profligacy and extravagance had long before dissipated all the property
which had fallen to his share as a younger son. Afterwards, on
discovering the cowardice and baseness of the Duke, he broke with him,
and exerted himself in the cause of the King, whom, indeed, he had
originally desired to support, if his advances had not been, with
incredible folly, rejected by Necker. But he had no time to repair the
mischief he had done, even if it had been in his power, which it
probably would not have been, since he died, after a short illness, in
April, 1791.]

For us, we are in most danger of a deluge; though I wonder we so
frequently complain of long rains. The saying about St. Swithin is a
proof of how often they recur; for proverbial sentences are the children
of experience, not of prophecy. Good night! In a few days I shall send
you a beautiful little poem from the Strawberry press.



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Wednesday night, July_ 1, 1790.

It is certainly not from having anything to tell you, that I reply so
soon, but as the most agreeable thing I can do in my confinement. The
gout came into my heel the night before last, perhaps from the deluge
and damp. I increased it yesterday by limping about the house with a
party I had to breakfast. To-day I am lying on the settee, unable to
walk alone, or even to put on a slipper. However, as I am much easier
this evening, I trust it will go off.

I do not love disputes, and shall not argue with you about Bruce; but,
if you like him, you shall not choose an author for me. It is the most
absurd, obscure, and tiresome book I know. I shall admire if you have a
clear conception about most of the persons and matters in his work; but,
in fact, I do not believe you have. Pray, can you distinguish between
his _cock_ and _hen_ Heghes, and between all Yasouses and Ozoros? and do
you firmly believe that an old man and his son were sent for and put to
death, because the King had run into a thorn-bush, and was forced to
leave his clothes behind him! Is it your faith, that one of their
Abyssinian Majesties pleaded not being able to contribute towards
sending for a new Abuna, because he had spent all his money at Venice in
looking-glasses? And do you really think that Peter Paez was a
Jack-of-all-trades, and built palaces and convents without assistance,
and furnished them with his own hands? You, who are a little apt to
contest most assertions, must have strangely let out your credulity! I
could put forty questions to you as wonderful; and, for my part, could
as soon credit ----.

I am tired of railing at French barbarity and folly. They are more
puerile now serious, than when in the long paroxysm of gay levity.
Legislators, a senate, to neglect laws, in order to annihilate coats of
arms and liveries! to pull down a King, and set up an Emperor! They are
hastening to establish the tribunal of the praetorian guards; for the
sovereignty, it seems, is not to be hereditary. One view of their Fête
of the 14th,[1] I suppose, is to draw money to Paris; and the
consequence will be, that the deputies will return to the provinces
drunk with independence and self-importance, and will commit fifty times
more excesses, massacres, and devastations, than last year. George
Selwyn says, that _Monsieur_, the King's brother, is the only man of
rank from whom they cannot take a title.

[Footnote 1: The grand federation in the Champ de Mars, on the
anniversary of the taking of the Bastile.]

How franticly have the French acted, and how rationally the Americans!
But Franklin and Washington were great men. None have appeared yet in
France; and Necker has only returned to make a wretched figure! He is
become as insignificant as his King; his name is never mentioned, but
now and then as disapproving something that is done. Why then does he
stay? Does he wait to strike some great stroke, when everything is
demolished? His glory, which consisted in being Minister though a
Protestant, is vanished by the destruction of Popery; the honour of
which, I suppose, he will scarce assume to himself. I have vented my
budget, and now good night! I feel almost as if I could walk up to bed.



BERKELEY SQUARE, _June_ 8, 1791.

Your No. 34, that was interrupted, and of which the last date was of May
24th, I received on the 6th, and if I could find fault, it would be in
the length; for I do not approve of your writing so much in hot weather,
for, be it known to you ladies, that from the first of the month, June
is not more June at Florence. My hay is crumbling away; and I have
ordered it to be cut, as a sure way of bringing rain. I have a selfish
reason, too, for remonstrating against long letters. I feel the season
advancing, when mine will be piteous short; for what can I tell you from
Twickenham in the next three or four months? Scandal from Richmond and
Hampton Court, or robberies at my own door? The latter, indeed, are
blown already. I went to Strawberry on Saturday, to avoid the Birthday
[4th June] crowd and squibs and crackers. At six I drove to Lord
Strafford's, where his goods are to be sold by auction; his sister, Lady
Anne [Conolly], intending to pull down the house and rebuild it. I
returned a quarter before seven; and in the interim between my Gothic
gate and Ashe's Nursery, a gentleman and gentlewoman, in a one-horse
chair and in the broad face of the sun, had been robbed by a single
highwayman, _sans_ mask. Ashe's mother and sister stood and saw it; but
having no notion of a robbery at such an hour in the high-road, and
before their men had left work, concluded it was an acquaintance of the
robber's. I suppose Lady Cecilia Johnstone will not descend from her
bedchamber to the drawing-room without life-guard men.

The Duke of Bedford eclipsed the whole birthday by his clothes,
equipage, and servants: six of the latter walked on the side of the
coach to keep off the crowd--or to tempt it; for their liveries were
worth an argosie. The Prince [of Wales] was gorgeous too: the latter is
to give Madame d'Albany[1] a dinner. She has been introduced to Mrs.
Fitzherbert.[2] You know I used to call Mrs. Cosway's concerts Charon's
boat: now, methinks, London is so. I am glad Mrs. C. [osway] is with
you; she is pleasing--but surely it is odd to drop a child and her
husband and country all in a breath!

[Footnote 1: Mme. d'Albany was the widow of Prince Charles Edward, who
had died in 1788 in Italy. She was presented at Court, and was
graciously received by the Queen. She was generally believed to be
married to the great Italian tragic poet, Alfieri. Since her husband's
death she had been living in Paris, but had now fled to England for

[Footnote 2: Mrs. Fitzherbert, the Roman Catholic lady whom the Prince
of Wales had married.]

I am glad you are dis_franchised_ of the exiles. We have several, I am
told, here; but I strictly confine myself to those I knew formerly at
Paris, and who all are quartered on Richmond-green. I went to them on
Sunday evening, but found them gone to Lord Fitzwilliam's, the next
house to Madame de Boufflers', to hear his organ; whither I followed
them, and returned with them. The Comtesse Emilie played on her harp;
then we all united at loto. I went home at twelve, unrobbed; and Lord
Fitzwilliam, who asked much after you both, was to set out the next
morning for Dublin, though intending to stay there but four days, and be
back in three weeks.

I am sorry you did not hear all Monsieur de Lally Tollendal's[1]
Tragedy, of which I have had a good account. I like his tribute to his
father's memory. Of French politics you must be tired; and so am I.
Nothing appears to me to promise their chaos duration; consequently I
expect more chaos, the sediment of which is commonly despotism. Poland
ought to make the French blush; but that, they are not apt to do on any

[Footnote 1: M. de Lally Tollendal was the son of that unfortunate Count
Lally, so iniquitously condemned for his conduct in the government of
India, as is mentioned in a former note.]

The Duke of St. Albans has cut down all the brave old trees at Hanworth,
and consequently reduced his park to what it issued
from--Hounslow-heath: nay, he has hired a meadow next to mine, for the
benefit of embarkation; and there lie all the good old corpses of oaks,
ashes, and chestnuts, directly before _your_ windows, and blocking up
one of my views of the river! but so impetuous is the rage for building,
that his Grace's timber will, I trust, not annoy us long. There will
soon be one street from London to Brentford; ay, and from London to
every village ten miles round! Lord Camden has just let ground at
Kentish Town for building fourteen hundred houses--nor do I wonder;
London is, I am certain, much fuller than ever I saw it. I have twice
this spring been going to stop my coach in Piccadilly, to inquire what
was the matter, thinking there was a mob--not at all; it was only
passengers. Nor is there any complaint of depopulation from the country:
Bath shoots out into new crescents, circuses, and squares every year:
Birmingham, Manchester, Hull, and Liverpool would serve any King in
Europe for a capital, and would make the Empress of Russia's mouth
water. Of the war with Catherine Slay-Czar I hear not a breath, and
thence conjecture it is dozing into peace.

Mr. Dundas[1] has kissed hands for Secretary of State; and Bishop
Barrington, of Salisbury, is transferred to Durham, which he affected
not to desire, having large estates by his wife in the south--but from
the triple mitre downwards, it is almost always true, what I said some
years ago, that "_nolo episcopari_ is Latin for _I lie_." Tell it not in
Gath that I say so; for I am to dine to-morrow at the Bishop of London's
at Fulham, with Hannah _Bonner_, my _imprimée_.[2] This morning I went
with Lysons the Reverend to see Dulwich College, founded in 1619 by
Alleyn, a player, which I had never seen in my many days. We were
received by a smart divine, _très bien poudré_, and with black satin
breeches--but they are giving new wings and red satin breeches to the
good old hostel too, and destroying a gallery with a very rich ceiling;
and nothing will remain of ancient but the front, and an hundred mouldy
portraits, among apostles, sibyls, and Kings of England. On Sunday I
shall settle at Strawberry; and then woe betide you on post-days! I
cannot make news without straw. The Johnstones are going to Bath, for
the healths of both; so Richmond will be my only staple. Adieu, all

[Footnote 1: Mr. Dundas, President of the Board of Control, subsequently
raised to the peerage as Lord Melville. In Pitt's second administration
he became First Lord of the Admiralty, but in 1805 was impeached by the
House of Commons on a charge of malversation while Treasurer of the Navy
in Pitt's first Ministry. Of that he was acquitted; but it was proved
that some of the subordinate officers of the department had misapplied
large sums of the public money, which they could not have done if he had
not been grossly negligent of his duties as head of the department, and
he was consequently removed from the Privy Council.]

[Footnote 2: Miss Hannah More is meant; but I do not know what peculiar
cruelty of temper or practice entitled her to the name of Mary's
persecuting and pitiless Bishop.]



BERKELEY SQUARE, _Tuesday, Aug._ 23, 1791.

I am come to town to meet Mr. Conway and Lady Aylesbury; and, as I have
no letter from you yet to answer, I will tell you how agreeably I have
passed the last three days; though they might have been improved had you
shared them, as I wished, and as I _sometimes_ do wish. On Saturday
evening I was at the Duke of Queensberry's (at Richmond, _s'entend_)
with a small company: and there were Sir William Hamilton and Mrs.
Harte[1]; who, on the 3rd of next month, previous to their departure, is
to be made Madame l'Envoyée à Naples, the Neapolitan Queen having
promised to receive her in that quality. Here she cannot be presented,
where only such over-virtuous wives as the Duchess of Kingston and Mrs.
Hastings[2]--who could go with a husband in each hand--are admitted. Why
the Margravine of Anspach, with the same pretensions, was not, I do not
understand; perhaps she did not attempt it. But I forget to retract, and
make _amende honorable_ to Mrs. Harte. I had only heard of her
attitudes; and those, in dumb show, I have not yet seen. Oh! but she
sings admirably; has a very fine, strong voice; is an excellent buffa,
and an astonishing tragedian. She sung Nina in the highest perfection;
and there her attitudes were a whole theatre of grace and various

[Footnote 1: Mrs. Harte, the celebrated Lady Hamilton, with whom Nelson
was so intimately acquainted, though old Lord St. Vincent always
maintained that it had never been more than a purely Platonic
attachment. Her previous life, however, had been notoriously such as
rendered her inadmissible at our Court, though that of Naples was less

[Footnote 2: Mrs. Hastings, the wife of the great Governor-General, had
previously been married to Baron Imhoff, a German miniature painter; but
she had obtained a divorce from him, and, as the Baron returned to
Germany with an amount of riches that he could hardly have earned by
skill in his profession, the scandalous tongues of some of Hastings's
enemies imputed to him that he had, in fact, bought her of her husband.]

The next evening I was again at Queensberry House, where the Comtesse
Emilie de Boufflers played on her harp, and the Princesse di
Castelcigala, the Neapolitan minister's wife, danced one of her country
dances, with castanets, very prettily, with her husband. Madame du Barry
was there too, and I had a good deal of frank conversation with her
about Monsieur de Choiseul; having been at Paris at the end of his reign
and the beginning of hers, and of which I knew so much by my intimacy
with the Duchesse de Choiseul.

On Monday was the boat-race [at Richmond]. I was in the great room at
the Castle, with the Duke of Clarence, Lady Di., Lord Robert Spencer,
and the House of Bouverie, to see the boats start from the bridge to
Thistleworth, and back to a tent erected on Lord Dysart's meadow, just
before Lady Di.'s windows; whither we went to see them arrive, and where
we had breakfast. For the second heat, I sat in my coach on the bridge;
and did not stay for the third. The day had been coined on purpose, with
my favourite south-east wind. The scene, both up the river and down, was
what only Richmond upon earth can exhibit. The crowds on those green
velvet meadows and on the shores, the yachts, barges, pleasure and small
boats, and the windows and gardens lined with spectators, were so
delightful, that when I came home from that vivid show, I thought
Strawberry looked as dull and solitary as a hermitage. At night there
was a ball at the Castle, and illuminations, with the Duke's cypher, &c.
in coloured lamps, as were the houses of his Royal Highness's tradesmen.
I went again in the evening to the French ladies on the Green, where
there was a bonfire; but, you may believe, not to the ball.

Well! but you, who have had a fever with _fêtes_, had rather hear the
history of the new _soi-disante_ Margravine. She has been in England
with her foolish Prince, and not only notified their marriage to the
Earl [of Berkeley] her brother, who did not receive it propitiously, but
his Highness informed his Lordship by a letter, that they have an usage
in his country of taking a wife with the left hand; that he had espoused
his Lordship's sister in that manner; and intends, as soon as she shall
be a widow, to marry her with his right hand also. The Earl replied,
that he knew she was married to an English peer [Lord Craven], a most
respectable man, and can know nothing of her marrying any other man; and
so they are gone to Lisbon. Adieu!



STRAWBERRY HILL, _Tuesday evening, eight o'clock, Oct._ 15, 1793.

Though I do not know when it will have its whole lading, I must begin my
letter this very moment, to tell you what I have just heard. I called on
the Princesse d'Hennin, who has been in town a week. I found her quite
alone, and I thought she did not answer quite clearly about her two
knights: the Prince de Poix has taken a lodging in town, and she talks
of letting her house here, if she can. In short, I thought she had a
little of an Ariadne-air--but this was not what I was in such a hurry to
tell you. She showed me several pieces of letters, I think from the
Duchesse de Bouillon: one says, the poor Duchesse de Biron is again
arrested[1] and at the Jacobins, and with her "une jeune étourdie, qui
ne fait que chanter toute la journée;" and who, think you, may that
be?--only our pretty little wicked Duchesse de Fleury! by her singing
and not sobbing, I suppose she was weary of her _Tircis_, and is glad to
be rid of him. This new blow, I fear, will overset Madame de Biron
again. The rage at Paris seems to increase daily or hourly; they either
despair, or are now avowed banditti. I tremble so much for the great and
most suffering victim of all, the Queen,[2] that one cannot feel so much
for many, as several perhaps deserve: but her tortures have been of far
longer duration than any martyrs, and more various; and her courage and
patience equal to her woes!

[Footnote 1: The Duchess, with scores of other noble ladies, was put to
death in the course of these two horrible years, 1793-94.]

[Footnote 2: Marie Antoinette was put to death the very next day. And I
cannot more fitly close the allusions to the Revolution so frequent in
the letters of the past four years than by Burke's description of this
pure and noble Queen in her youth: "It is now sixteen or seventeen years
since I saw the Queen of France, then the Dauphiness of Versailles; and
surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a
more delightful vision. I saw her, just above the horizon, glittering
like the morning star, full of life and splendour and joy. Oh! what a
revolution! and what a heart must I have to contemplate without emotion
that elevation and that fall! Little did I dream, when she added titles
of veneration to those of enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that
she should ever be obliged to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace
concealed in that bosom; little did I dream that I should have lived to
see such disasters fallen upon her in a nation of gallant men and
cavaliers. I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their
scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult"
("Reflections on the French Revolution ").]

My poor old friend, the Duchesse de la Valière, past ninety and
stone-deaf, has a guard set upon her, but in her own house; her
daughter, the Duchesse de Chatillon, mother of the Duchesse de la
Tremouille, is arrested; and thus the last, with her attachment to the
Queen, must be miserable indeed!--but one would think I feel for nothing
but Duchesses: the crisis has crowded them together into my letter, and
into a prison;--and to be a prisoner among cannibals is pitiable indeed!

_Thursday morning, 17th, past ten._

I this moment receive the very comfortable twin-letter. I am so
conjugal, and so much in earnest upon the article of recovery, that I
cannot think of _a pretty thing_ to say to very pretty Mrs. Stanhope;
nor do I know what would be a pretty thing in these days. I might come
out with some old-fashioned compliment, that would have been very

    In good Queen Bess's golden day, when I was a dame of honour.

Let Mrs. Stanhope imagine that I have said all she deserves: I certainly
think it, and will ratify it, when I have learnt the language of the
nineteenth century; but I really am so ancient, that as Pythagoras
imagined he had been Panthoides Euphorbus[1] in the Trojan war, I am
not sure that I did not ride upon a pillion behind a Gentleman-Usher,
when her Majesty Elizabeth went into procession to St. Paul's on the
defeat of the Armada! Adieu! the postman puts an end to my idle
speculations--but, Scarborough for ever! with three huzzas!

[Footnote 1: "_Euphorbus._" This is an allusion to the doctrine of
metempsychosis taught by the ancient philosopher Pythagoras of Samos,
according to which when a man died his soul remained in the shades below
suffering any punishment which the man had deserved, till after a
certain lapse of time all the taint of the former existence had been
worn away, when the soul returned to earth to animate some other body.
The passage referred to here by Walpole occurs in Ovid's
"Metamorphoses," xvi. 160, where Pythagoras is expounding his theory,
which is also explained to Aeneas by Anchises in the shades below
(Aeneid, vi. 745). But the two poets differ in more points than one.
According to Anchises, one thousand years are required between the two
existences; according to Pythagoras, not above four hundred or five
hundred. According to Anchises, before the soul revives in another body
it must have forgotten all that happened to it in the body of its former
owner. As Dryden translates Virgil--

    Whole droves of minds are by the driving God
    Compell'd to drink the deep Lethaean flood,
    In large forgetful draughts to steep the cares
    Of their past labours, and their irksome years;
    That unremembering of its former pain
    The soul may suffer mortal flesh again.

(Aeneid, vi. 1020).

Pythagoras, on the other hand, professes a distinct recollection of who
he was and what he suffered in his former life. He remembers that in the
time of the Trojan war (at the outside not five hundred years before his
time) he was a Trojan--Euphorbus, the son of Panthous--and that in the
war he was killed by Menelaus; and his memory is so accurate, that not
long before he had recognised the very shield which he had borne in the
conflict hanging up as a trophy in the temple of Juno at Argos.]



STRAWBERRY HILL, _July_ 2, 1795.

I will write a word to you, though scarce time to write one, to thank
you for your great kindness about the soldier, who shall get a
substitute if he can. As you are, or have been in town, your daughter
will have told you in what a bustle I am, preparing--not to resist, but
to receive an invasion of royalties to-morrow; and cannot even escape
them like Admiral Cornwallis, though seeming to make a semblance; for I
am to wear a sword, and have appointed two aides-de-camp, my nephews,
George and Horace Churchill. If I _fall_, as ten to one but I do, to be
sure it will be a superb tumble, at the feet of a Queen and eight
daughters of Kings; for, besides the six Princesses, I am to have the
Duchess of York and the Princess of Orange! Woe is me, at seventy-eight,
and with scarce a hand and foot to my back! Adieu! Yours, &c.



_July_ 7, 1795.

I am not dead of fatigue with my Royal visitors, as I expected to be,
though I was on my poor lame feet three whole hours. Your daughter [Mrs.
Damer], who kindly assisted me in doing the honours, will tell you the
particulars, and how prosperously I succeeded. The Queen was uncommonly
condescending and gracious, and deigned to drink my health when I
presented her with the last glass, and to thank me for all my
attentions.[1] Indeed my memory _de la vieille cour_ was but once in
default. As I had been assured that her Majesty would be attended by her
Chamberlain, yet was not, I had no glove ready when I received her at
the step of her coach: yet she honoured me with her hand to lead her up
stairs; nor did I recollect my omission when I led her down again.
Still, though gloveless, I did not squeeze the royal hand, as
Vice-chamberlain Smith[2] did to Queen Mary.

[Footnote 1: There cannot be a more fitting conclusion than this letter
recording the greatest honour conferred on the writer and his Strawberry
by the visit of the Queen of the realm and her condescending proposal of
his health at his own table.]

[Footnote 2: "_Vice-Chamberlain Smith._" An allusion to a gossiping
story of King William's time, that when Queen Mary came back to England
she asked one of her ladies what a squeeze of the hand was supposed to
intimate; and when the reply was, "Love," "Then," said Her Majesty, "my
Vice-Chancellor must be in love with me; for he always squeezes my

You will have stared, as I did, at the Elector of Hanover deserting his
ally the King of Great Britain, and making peace with the monsters. But
Mr. Fawkener, whom I saw at my sister's [Churchill's] on Sunday, laughs
at the article in the newspapers, and says it is not an unknown practice
for stock-jobbers to hire an emissary at the rate of five hundred
pounds, and dispatch to Franckfort, whence he brings forged attestations
of some marvellous political event, and spreads it on 'Change, which
produces such a fluctuation in the stocks as amply overpays the expense
of his mission.

This was all I learnt in the single night I was in town. I have not read
the new French constitution, which seems longer than probably its reign
will be. The five sovereigns will, I suppose, be the first guillotined.
Adieu! Yours ever.


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