Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Horace Walpole and his World - Select passages from his Letters
Author: Walpole, Horace
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "Horace Walpole and his World - Select passages from his Letters" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)



HORACE WALPOLE AND HIS WORLD

[Illustration: _Sir T. Laurence. Pinx._ _A. Dawson. Ph. Sc._ _W. Evans.
Sc._

_Horace Walpole._]



                            HORACE WALPOLE
                             AND HIS WORLD

                  _SELECT PASSAGES FROM HIS LETTERS_

                               EDITED BY
                          L. B. SEELEY, M.A.
              _Late Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge_

                   _WITH EIGHT ILLUSTRATIONS AFTER_
              SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS AND SIR THOMAS LAWRENCE

                                LONDON
            SEELEY, JACKSON, AND HALLIDAY, 54, FLEET STREET
                                 1884



CONTENTS.


                                                                     PAGE

                              CHAPTER I.

    Introduction--Birth and
    Parentage--Education--Appointments--Travels--Parliamentary
    Career--Retirement--Fortune--Strawberry
    Hill--Collections--Writings--Printing Press--Accession
    to Title--Death--Character--Political Conduct
    and Opinions--The Slave Trade--Strikes--Views of
    Literature--Friendships--Charities--Chatterton--Letters             1

                              CHAPTER II.

    Country Life--Ranelagh Gardens--The Rebel Lords--The
    Earthquake--A Frolic at Vauxhall--Capture of a
    Housebreaker--Strawberry Hill--The Beautiful Gunnings--Sterne      33

                             CHAPTER III.

    A new Reign--Funeral of the late King--Houghton
    revisited--Election at Lynn--Marriage of George III.--His
    Coronation                                                         62

                              CHAPTER IV.

    General Taste for Pleasure--Entertainments at Twickenham
    and Esher--Miss Chudleigh’s Ball--Masquerade at Richmond
    House--The Gallery at Strawberry Hill--Balls--The Duchess
    of Queensberry--Petition of the Periwig-makers--Ladies’
    Head-gear--Almack’s--“The Castle of Otranto”--Plans for a
    Bower--A late Dinner--Walpole’s Idle Life--Social Usages           78

                              CHAPTER V.

    The Gout--Visits to Paris--Bath--John Wesley--Bad
    Weather--English Summers--Quitting Parliament--Madame du
    Deffand--Human Vanity--The Banks of the Thames--A Subscription
    Masquerade--Extravagance of the Age--The Pantheon--Visiting
    Stowe with Princess Amelia--George Montagu--The Countess of
    Ossory--Powder-Mills Blown up at Hounslow--Distractions of
    Business and Pleasure                                              99

                              CHAPTER VI.

    Lord Nuneham--Madame de Sévigné--Charles Fox--Mrs. Clive and
    Cliveden--Goldsmith and Garrick--Dearth of News--Madame de
    Trop--A Bunch of Grapes--General Election--Perils by Land and
    Water--Sir Horace Mann--Lord Clive--The History of Manners--A
    Traveller from Lima--The Sçavoir Vivre Club--Reflections on
    Life--The Pretender’s Happiness--Paris Fashions--Madame du
    Deffand ill--Growth of London--Sir Joshua Reynolds--Change in
    Manners--Our Climate                                              124

                             CHAPTER VII.

    The American War--Irish Discontent--Want of Money--The Houghton
    Pictures sold--Removal to Berkeley Square--Ill-health--A
    Painting by Zoffani--The Rage for News--The Duke of
    Gloucester--Wilkes--Fashions, Old and New--Mackerel
    News--Pretty Stories--Madame de Sévigné’s Cabinet--Picture of
    his Waldegrave Nieces--The Gordon Riots--Death of Madame du
    Deffand--The Blue Stockings                                       151

                             CHAPTER VIII.

    Walpole in his Sixty-fourth Year--The Royal
    Academy--Tonton--Charles Fox--William Pitt--Mrs. Hobart’s
    _Sans Souci_--Improvements at Florence--Walpole’s Dancing
    Feats--No Feathers at Court--Highwaymen--Loss of the _Royal
    George_--Mrs. Siddons--Peace--Its Social Consequences--The
    Coalition--The Rivals--Political Excitement--The Westminster
    Election--Political Caricatures--Conway’s Retirement--Lady
    Harrington--Balloons--Illness--Recovery                           188

                              CHAPTER IX.

    Lady Correspondents--Madame de Genlis--Miss Burney and
    Hannah More--Deaths of Mrs. Clive and Sir Horace Mann--Story
    of Madame de Choiseul--Richmond--Queensberry House--Warren
    Hastings--Genteel Comedy--St. Swithin--Riverside Conceits--Lord
    North--The Theatre again--Gibbon’s History--Sheridan--Conway’s
    comedy--A Turkish War--Society Newspapers--The Misses
    Berry--Bonner’s Ghost--The Arabian Nights--King’s College
    Chapel--Richmond Society--New Arrivals--The Berrys visit
    Italy--A Farewell Letter                                          221

                              CHAPTER X.

    Walpole’s Love of English Scenery--Richmond Hill--Burke on
    the French Revolution--The Berrys at Florence--Death of
    George Selwyn--London Solitude--Repairs at Cliveden--Burke
    and Fox--The Countess of Albany--Journal of a Day--Mrs.
    Hobart’s Party--Ancient Trade with India--Lady Hamilton--A
    Boat Race--Return of the Berrys--Horace succeeds to
    the Peerage--Epitaphium Vivi Auctoris--His Wives--Mary
    Berry--Closing Years--Love of Moving Objects--Visit from Queen
    Charlotte--Death of Conway--Final Illness of Horace--His last
    Letter                                                            262



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


                                                                     PAGE

    HORACE WALPOLE, _after_ Lawrence                      _Frontispiece._

    LAWRENCE STERNE, _after_ Reynolds                                  60

    THE LADY GERTRUDE FITZPATRICK, _after_ Reynolds                   132

    THE LADY CAROLINE MONTAGU, _after_ Reynolds                       148

    THE THREE LADIES WALDEGRAVE, _after_ Reynolds                     168

    SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS, _after_ Reynolds                             188

    THE DUCHESS OF DEVONSHIRE, _after_ Reynolds                       213

    MRS. MONTAGU, _after_ Reynolds                                    274



HORACE WALPOLE AND HIS WORLD.



CHAPTER I.

    Introduction.--Birth and
    Parentage.--Education.--Appointments.--Travels.--Parliamentary
    Career.--Retirement.--Fortune.--Strawberry
    Hill.--Collections.--Writings.--Printing Press.--Accession
    to Title.--Death.--Character.--Political Conduct
    and Opinions.--The Slave-Trade.--Strikes.--Views of
    Literature.--Friendships.--Charities.--Chatterton.--Letters.


We offer to the general reader some specimens of Horace Walpole’s
correspondence. Students of history and students of literature are
familiar with this great mine of facts and fancies, but it is too
extensive to be fully explored by those who have not both ample
leisure and strong inclination for such employment. Yet most persons,
we imagine, would be glad to have some acquaintance with the prince
of English letter-writers. Many years have passed since Walter Scott
pronounced Walpole’s letters to be the best in our language, and since
Lord Byron declared them to be incomparable. The fashion in style
and composition has changed during the interval almost as often as
the fashion in dress: other candidates, too, for fame in the same
department have come forward; but no one, we think, has succeeded in
setting aside the verdict given, in the early part of our century,
by the two most famous writers of their time. Meanwhile, to the
collections of letters by Walpole that were known to Scott and Byron
have been added several others, no way inferior to the first, which
have been published at different periods; besides numerous detached
letters, which have come to light from various quarters. In the years
1857-9, appeared a complete edition of Walpole’s letters in nine
large octavo volumes.[1] The editor of this expressed his confidence
that no additions of moment would afterwards be made to the mass
of correspondence which his industry had brought together. Yet he
proved to be mistaken. In 1865 came out Miss Berry’s Journals and
Correspondence,[2] containing a large quantity of letters and parts
of letters addressed to her and her sister by Walpole, which had not
previously been given to the world, as well as several interesting
letters to other persons, the manuscripts of which had passed into
and remained in Miss Berry’s possession. Other letters, too, have
made their appearance, singly and incidentally, in more recent
publications.[3] The total number of Walpole’s published letters
cannot now fall much short of three thousand; the earliest of these
is dated in November, 1735,[4] the latest in January, 1797. Throughout
the intervening sixty years, the writer, to use his own phrase,
lived always in the big busy world; and whatever there passed before
him, his restless fingers, restless even when stiffened by the gout,
recorded and commented on for the amusement of his correspondents and
the benefit of posterity. The extant results of his diligence display
a full picture of the period, distorted indeed in many places by the
prejudices of the artist, but truthful on the whole, and enlivened
everywhere by touches of genius. From this mass of narratives and
descriptions, anecdotes and good-sayings, criticisms, reflections and
raillery, we shall endeavour to make as representative a selection as
our limits will permit.

It is hardly necessary to say that Horace Walpole entered life as the
son of the foremost Englishman of his time. He was born on the 24th of
September, 1717, O.S., and was the youngest of the six children whom
Sir Robert Walpole’s first wife, Catherine Shorter, brought to her
illustrious husband. This family included two other sons, Robert and
Edward, and two daughters, besides a fourth son, William, who died in
infancy. Horace, whose birth took place eleven years after that of the
fifth child, bore no resemblance, either in body or mind, to the robust
and hearty Sir Robert. He was of slight figure and feeble constitution;
his features lacked the comeliness of the Walpole race; and his
temperament was of that fastidious, self-conscious, impressionable
cast which generally causes a man or boy to be called affected. The
scandalous, noting these things, and comparing the person and character
of Horace Walpole with those of the Herveys, remembered that Sir
Robert and his first wife had been estranged from one another in the
later years of their union, and that the lady had been supposed to be
intimate with Carr Lord Hervey, elder brother of Pope’s Sporus. Horace
himself has mentioned that this Carr was reckoned of superior parts to
the more known John Lord Hervey, but nowhere in our author’s writings
does it appear that the least suspicion of spurious parentage[5]
had entered his thoughts. Everywhere he exults in being sprung from
the great Prime Minister; everywhere he is devoted to the memory of
his mother, to whom he raised a monument in Westminster Abbey, with
an inscription from his own pen celebrating her virtue. And in the
concluding words of this epigraph, he repeated a saying, which he has
elsewhere recorded, of the poet Pope, that Lady Walpole was “untainted
by a Court.”

Walpole tells us that, in the first years of his life, being an
extremely delicate child, he was much indulged both by his mother and
Sir Robert; and as an instance of this, he relates the well-known
story, how his longing to see the King was gratified by his mother
carrying him to St. James’s to kiss the hand of George I. just before
his Majesty began his last journey to Hanover. Shortly after this,
the boy was sent to Eton, from which period we hear no more of Lady
Walpole, though she survived till August, 1737. In 1735, young Horace
proceeded from Eton to King’s College, Cambridge, where he resided,
though with long intervals of absence, until after he came of age. On
quitting the University, he was in possession of a handsome income
arising from the patent place of Usher of the Exchequer, to which he
had recently been appointed, and which was then reckoned worth £900 a
year, and from two other small patent places in the Exchequer, those of
Clerk of the Escheats and Controller of the Pipe, producing together
about £300 a year, which had been held for him during his minority. All
these offices had been procured for him by Sir Robert Walpole, and were
sinecures, or capable of being executed by deputy.

Finding himself thus provided for and at leisure, the fortunate youth
set out on the continental tour which was considered indispensable for
a man of fashion. He travelled, as he tells us, at his own expense;
and being well able to afford the luxury of a companion, he took
with him Thomas Gray the poet, who had been his associate at Eton
and Cambridge. The pair visited together various parts of France and
Italy, making a stay of some duration at several places. After a few
weeks spent in Paris, they settled at Rheims for three months to study
French. They lived here with their former school-mate, Henry Seymour
Conway,[6] Walpole’s maternal cousin; and here appears to have been
cemented the lifelong friendship between Conway and Walpole which forms
perhaps the most honourable feature in the history of the latter. At
Florence, Walpole resided for more than twelve months in the house of
Horace Mann, British Envoy to the Court of Tuscany, with whom he formed
an intimacy, which was maintained, from the time of his leaving Italy
until the death of Mann forty-five years after, by correspondence only,
without the parties ever meeting again. Gray remained with Walpole
at Florence, and accompanied him in visits which he made thence to
Rome, Naples, and other places; but at Reggio a dissension arose
between them, and they parted to return home by different routes.
Walpole subsequently took the blame of this dispute upon himself. “It
arose,” he says, “from Gray being too serious a companion. Gray was for
antiquities, I was for perpetual balls and plays; the fault was mine.”
According to another account, Walpole had opened a letter addressed to
Gray. Whatever was the cause of the breach, it was repaired three years
later, and during the rest of the poet’s life he continued on friendly
terms with his early companion.

Walpole reached England in September, 1741, just before the meeting
of a new Parliament, and at the commencement of the Session took his
seat as member for Callington, in Cornwall, for which place he had
been elected during his absence. Sir Robert’s Government was at that
time in the midst of the difficulties which soon afterwards caused
its downfall. In February, 1742, the defeated Minister resigned, and
was created Earl of Orford. Horace, as was to be expected, took no
prominent part in the struggle. His maiden speech was delivered in
March, 1742, on a motion for an inquiry into the conduct of Sir Robert
Walpole during the last ten years of his administration. The young
orator was received with favour by the House, and obtained a compliment
from the great William Pitt; but the success of his effort, which is
preserved in one of his letters to Mann, must be attributed entirely
to the circumstances under which it was uttered. It does not appear
that he afterwards acquired any reputation in debate. Indeed, he was
generally content to be a listener. That he was a constant attendant
at the House, his correspondence sufficiently proves, but he rarely
took an active part in its proceedings. He has recorded a dispute he
had with Speaker Onslow in his second Parliament. In 1751 he moved
the address to the King at the opening of the Session, and five years
later we find him speaking on a question of employing Swiss troops
in the Colonies. In 1757 he exerted himself with much zeal in favour
of the unfortunate Admiral Byng. This, however, was by argument and
solicitation outside the House. In like manner, some years afterwards,
he made strenuous, though vain, endeavours, at the conferences of his
party, to persuade them not to support the exclusion of the King’s
mother from the Regency which was provided for on the first serious
illness of George III.

These are the chief incidents of Walpole’s public career, although
he remained in the House of Commons for twenty-seven years. At the
General Election of 1754 he was chosen for the family borough of Castle
Rising in Norfolk, but vacated this seat soon afterwards in order to
be a candidate for the town of King’s Lynn, which had for many years
returned his father to Parliament. Horace continued to represent Lynn
until the Dissolution of 1768, when he took leave of his constituents,
and was no longer seen in Westminster Hall. Perhaps the final reason
for his retirement was the failure of his friend Conway to retain a
foremost position in politics. After serving as Secretary of State
and Leader of the House of Commons under three successive Premiers,
Conway, through feebleness of purpose, lost his hold upon office, and
fell for some years into the background. But with disappointment for
his friend, there must have mingled in Walpole’s mind a feeling of
dissatisfaction with himself. Few men acquire much weight in Parliament
who do not at least occasionally take a share in its discussions; and
Horace had more than once found that his influence in the House was by
no means proportioned to his general reputation for ability. He was
therefore quite ready to withdraw when Conway could no longer profit
by his vote. Though at all times a keen politician, and extremely
social in his habits, he was unfitted by nature for the conflicts of
the Parliamentary arena. Desultory skirmishing with the pen was more to
his taste than the close fighting of debate. During more than half his
life, the war of parties was largely carried on by anonymous pamphlets,
and Walpole gave powerful help in this way to his side; afterwards,
when letters and articles in newspapers took the place of pamphlets, he
became an occasional contributor to the public journals.

But Walpole found in art and literature the chief employment of his
serious hours. His reading was extensive, the most solid portion of
it being in the regions of history and archæology. More engrossing
than his love of books was his passion for collecting and imitating
antiquities and curiosities of all kinds. His ample fortune furnished
him with the means of indulging these expensive pursuits. The
emoluments of the Usher of the Exchequer greatly increased during
his tenure of that post: in time of war--and England was often at war
in those days--they were sometimes very large. Walpole admits that
in one year he received as much as £4,200 from this source; and the
Commissioners of Accounts in 1782 thought that the annual value of the
place might fairly be stated at that sum. There was an antique flavour
about these gains which gave Walpole almost as much pleasure as the
money itself. The duties of the Usher were to shut the gates of the
Exchequer, and to provide the Exchequer and Treasury with the paper,
parchment, pens, ink, sand, wax, tape, and other articles of a similar
nature used in those departments. The latter of these duties, which
was said to be as old as the reign of Edward III. at least, formed
the lucrative part of the Usher’s employment, as he was allowed large
profits on the goods he thus purveyed to the Crown. Obviously the
income of such an office, while varying with the financial business
of each year, must have steadily advanced on the whole with the
progress of the nation. Besides this place, and the two other patent
places before mentioned, in all of which he continued until his death,
Walpole enjoyed for many years a principal share in the income of
the Collectorship of the Customs. Sir Robert Walpole held the last
appointment under a patent which entitled him to dispose as he pleased
of the reversion during the lives of his two eldest sons, Robert and
Edward. Accordingly, he appointed that, after his death, £1,000 a year
of the income should be paid to his youngest son Horace during the
subsistence of the patent, and that the remainder should be divided
equally between Horace and Edward. By this arrangement, Horace at the
age of twenty-seven--for his father died in March, 1745--stepped into
another income of about £1,400 a year, which lasted until the death of
his brother Sir Edward Walpole in 1784. In his writings he speaks, with
becoming gratitude, of the places and emoluments bestowed on him by his
father as being a noble provision for a third son. Having thus nobly
provided at the public expense for a child who had not yet shown any
merit or capacity, Sir Robert did not find it needful to do much for
him out of his private property. By his will, he bequeathed Horace only
a sum of £5,000 charged on his Norfolk estate, and a leasehold house in
Arlington Street. The greater part of the legacy remained unpaid for
forty years; the house Horace occupied until the term expired in 1781,
when he bought a residence in Berkeley Square. As Walpole was never
married, it is not surprising that he died worth ninety-one thousand
pounds in the funds, besides other property, including his town house
just mentioned, and his villa at Twickenham with its collection of
pictures and other works of art.

The fantastic little pile of buildings which he raised on the margin
of the Thames engaged his chief attention for many years. He purchased
the site of this in 1748, there being nothing then on the land but a
cottage, and called it Strawberry Hill, a name which he found in one of
the title-deeds. He had taken a lease the year before of the cottage,
with part of the land, from Mrs. Chenevix, a fashionable toy-dealer,
and thus describes his acquisition in a letter to Conway: “It is a
little plaything-house that I got out of Mrs. Chenevix’s shop, and is
the prettiest bauble you ever saw. It is set in enamelled meadows, with
filigree hedges:

    ‘A small Euphrates through the piece is rolled,
    And little finches wave their wings in gold.’

Two delightful roads, that you would call dusty, supply me continually
with coaches and chaises: barges as solemn as Barons of the Exchequer
move under my window; Richmond Hill and Ham walks bound my prospect;
but thank God! the Thames is between me and the Duchess of Queensberry.
Dowagers as plenty as flounders inhabit all around, and Pope’s ghost is
just now skimming under my window by a most poetical moonlight. I have
about land enough to keep such a farm as Noah’s, when he set up in the
Ark with a pair of each kind; but my cottage is rather cleaner than I
believe his was after they had been cooped up together forty days. The
Chenevixes had tricked it out for themselves: up two pair of stairs
is what they call Mr. Chenevix’s library, furnished with three maps,
one shelf, a bust of Sir Isaac Newton, and a lame telescope without
any glasses. Lord John Sackville _predeceased_ me here, and instituted
certain games called _cricketalia_, which have been celebrated this
very evening in honour of him in a neighbouring meadow.”

Having completed his purchase, Walpole proceeded to make improvements.
His antiquarian studies had inspired him with a fondness for Gothic
architecture. But his zeal was not according to much knowledge, nor
guided by a very pure taste. Gradually the little cottage became merged
in a strange nondescript edifice, half castle, half cloister, with all
kinds of grotesque decorations. “The Castle,” so Walpole called it,
“was,” he tells us, “not entirely built from the ground, but formed at
different times, by alterations of, and additions to, the old small
house. The Library and Refectory, or Great Parlour, was entirely
new-built in 1753; the Gallery, Round Tower, Great Cloister, and
Cabinet, in 1760 and 1761; the Great North Bed-chamber in 1770; and the
Beauclerk Tower with the Hexagon Closet in 1776.” In a small cloister,
outside the house, stood the blue and white china bowl, commemorated
by Gray, in which Walpole’s cat was drowned. On the staircase was the
famous armour of Francis I. In the Gallery, among many other treasures,
were placed the Roman eagle and the bust of Vespasian, so often
mentioned in their owner’s correspondence. The buildings were no more
substantial in structure than they were correct in style. Much cheap
ridicule has been poured upon “the Castle,” as “a most trumpery piece
of ginger-bread Gothic,” with “pie-crust battlements,” and “pinnacles
of lath and plaster.” Many of its faults and absurdities must in
justice be referred to the novelty of the attempt to apply a disused
style to the requirements of a modern domestic residence. Walpole
himself was by no means blind to the flimsiness and incongruities of
his creation. He was rather indignant, indeed, when a French visitor
censured it as “non digne de la solidité Anglaise;” but in his own
description of it he calls it “a paper fabric,” and speaks of the house
and its decorations as “a mixture which may be denominated, in some
words of Pope:

    ‘A Gothic Vatican of Greece and Rome.’”

With the help of Mr. Essex, who assisted him in designing the later
portions, he gradually learned the depth of the architectural ignorance
in which he and the “Committee,” who were his first advisers, had been
involved at the commencement of his work. In short, Strawberry Hill,
child’s baby-house as it was, proved the first step in the renascence
of Gothic art.

As chamber after chamber was added to the Castle, it became Walpole’s
next care to fill them with fresh antiques in furniture, pictures,
bronzes, armour, painted glass, and other like articles. “In his
villa,” says Lord Macaulay, “every apartment is a museum, every piece
of furniture is a curiosity; there is something strange in the form
of the shovel; there is a long story belonging to the bell-rope. We
wander among a profusion of rarities, of trifling intrinsic value,
but so quaint in fashion, or connected with such remarkable names and
events, that they may well detain our attention for a moment. A moment
is enough. Some new relic, some new unique, some new carved work, some
new enamel, is forthcoming in an instant. One cabinet of trinkets is no
sooner closed than another is opened.”

Of Walpole’s writings other than his letters, we do not propose
to offer any detailed account or criticism. His earliest work,
“Ædes Walpolianæ,” was published as early as 1747; it was merely a
description of his father’s pictures at Houghton Hall, the family
seat in Norfolk. Among his next efforts were some papers contributed
in 1753 and following years to a periodical work of the day, called
_The World_.[7] Most persons have read the “Castle of Otranto,” so
warmly applauded by the author of “Ivanhoe.” Most students of art, we
suppose, are acquainted with Walpole’s “Anecdotes of Painting,” and his
“Catalogue of Engravers.” His “Catalogue of Noble and Royal Authors,”
though abounding in agreeable anecdotes, is probably now consulted by
few; and his “Historic Doubts on the Life and Reign of Richard III.,”
acute and ingenious as it was, cannot detain anyone who is aware of the
recent researches on the same subject. His “Reminiscences of the Courts
of George I. and George II.,” and his “Memoirs” and “Journals” relating
to the reigns of George II. and George III., are, and must ever remain,
among the most valuable historical documents of the eighteenth century.
The Reminiscences were written for the amusement of the Misses Berry,
and have been extolled with justice as being, both in manner and
matter, the very perfection of anecdote writing. The rest of Walpole’s
works, including his tragedy of “The Mysterious Mother”--the merits
of which, whatever they may be, are cancelled by the atrocity of the
fable--are as nearly as possible forgotten.

Not content with writing and collecting books, Horace in 1757
established a printing press in the grounds of Strawberry Hill.
The first printer employed by him was William Robinson; the last,
Thomas Kirgate, whose name will often be found in the following
extracts. The first work printed at this press was Gray’s “Odes,”
with Bentley’s Illustrations. Its other productions include Walpole’s
own Royal and Noble Authors, Anecdotes of Painting, Engravers, and
Tragedy; his “Description of Strawberry Hill,” and “Fugitive Pieces;”
besides several works by other authors, such as Bentley’s “Lucan,”
Lord Herbert’s Life, a translation of Hentzner’s “Travels,” and Lord
Whitworth’s “Account of Russia;” as well as small collections of verses
by sundry friends. These “Strawberry Hill” editions are now scarce, and
command high prices.

The rest of our author’s career may be summed up in a few words. His
eldest brother had died early, and had been succeeded by an only son,
whose profligacy and occasional fits of insanity caused much trouble.
In December, 1791, when seventy-four years of age, Horace became, by
the death of this nephew, Earl of Orford, which made little addition to
his income, the family estate being heavily incumbered. The inheritance
was far from welcome. In a letter to a friend, he says he does not
understand the management of such an estate, and is too old to learn.
“A source of lawsuits among my near relations, endless conversations
with lawyers, and packets of letters to read every day and answer--all
this weight of new business is too much for the rag of life that yet
hangs about me.”[8] He never took his seat in the House of Lords. He
lived for upwards of five years longer, in the full possession of all
his faculties, though suffering great bodily infirmity from the effects
of gout, to which he was long a martyr. He died at his house, No. 11,
Berkeley Square, on the 2nd of March, 1797, in his eightieth year, and
was buried at the family seat of Houghton. With him the male line of
Sir Robert Walpole and the title of Orford became extinct. The estate
of Houghton descended to the fourth Earl of Cholmondeley, grandson of
Horace Walpole’s younger sister Mary, who married the third earl of
that ilk. Strawberry Hill was at its founder’s absolute disposal, and
he left it, as already mentioned, to Mrs. Damer, Conway’s daughter, but
for life only, with limitations over in strict settlement.

“It is somewhat curious,” says his biographer, “as a proof of the
inconsistency of the human mind, that, having built his Castle with so
little view to durability, Walpole entailed the perishable possession
with a degree of strictness which would have been more fitting for a
baronial estate. And that, too, after having written a fable entitled
‘The Entail,’ in consequence of some one having asked him whether he
did not intend to entail Strawberry Hill, and in ridicule of such a
proceeding.”

Inconsistency, caprice, eccentricity, affectation, are faults which
have been freely charged against the character of Horace Walpole. His
strong prejudices and antipathies, his pride of rank, his propensity
to satire, even his sensitive temperament, made him many enemies, who
not only exaggerated his failings, but succeeded, in some instances at
least, in transmitting their personal resentments to men of the present
century.

As a politician, especially, Walpole has received rather hard measure
from the partisan critics on both sides. A generation back, Whig
Reviewers and Tory Reviewers vied with each other in defaming his
memory. Macaulay and Croker, who seldom agreed in anything, were of one
accord in this. To Croker, of course, Horace was just a place-holder
who furnished a telling example of Whig jobbery. To rake up all the
details of his places in the Exchequer, and his “rider,” or charge,
on the place in the Customs, to compute and exaggerate his gains from
each of these sources, to track him in dark intrigues for extending his
tenure of one appointment and bettering his position in another; all
this was congenial employment for the Rigby of the nineteenth century,
as it would have been for his prototype in the eighteenth. The motive
of Macaulay’s deadly attack is not quite so obvious. Walpole’s politics
were those of his father and of the old Whigs generally. While in
theory inclined to Republicanism--though he was never, as he tells
us, quite a Republican[9]--it was his habit, on practical questions,
to consider what course the great Sir Robert would have taken under
similar circumstances. There seems nothing in all this to excite the
wrath of the most atrabilious Liberal. The truth appears to be that,
in the Whig circles of Macaulay’s time, there existed a traditional
grudge against Horace Walpole. In the “Memorials of Charles James
Fox,” which were arranged by Lord Vassall-Holland, and edited by Lord
John Russell, both the noble commentators speak of Horace in terms of
undisguised bitterness. Nor is the cause very far to seek. In politics,
Conway was under the dominion of Walpole; and Conway, on more than one
critical occasion, disobliged the Rockingham faction, from which the
modern Whigs deduce their origin. “Conway,” says Lord John Russell,
writing of the events of 1766, “had been made Secretary of State by
Lord Rockingham, and ought to have resigned when Lord Rockingham
left office; but Mr. Walpole did not choose that this should be so.”
Sixteen years later, Conway sat again in a Cabinet presided over by
Lord Rockingham, and when that nobleman died, he again refused to
resign. It will be remembered that, on this occasion, the Cavendishes
and Fox quitted their places when the Treasury was given to Lord
Shelburne, instead of their own nominee, the Duke of Portland, whose
only recommendations were that he was Lord of Welbeck, and had married
a daughter of the House of Devonshire.

In 1782, the Duke of Richmond, Conway’s son-in-law, concurred with
Conway in declining to desert the new Premier; and we know that Walpole
stoutly supported, if he did not dictate, the joint resolution of his
two friends. Lord Holland tells us that Fox did not like Walpole at
all, and accounts for this dislike by suggesting that his uncle may
have imbibed some prejudice against Walpole for unkindness shown to the
first Lord Holland. But this seems going needlessly far back for an
explanation. There can be no doubt that Fox looked on Walpole as having
assisted to thwart his design of governing England in the name of the
insignificant Duke of Portland, and detested him accordingly. Nor did
subsequent events tend to soften Fox’s recollection of this passage
in his life, or of the persons concerned in it. Had he overcome his
jealousy of Lord Shelburne, or had he succeeded in compelling his rival
to bow before the “wooden idol”--so Lord John Russell himself calls
Portland--which he had set up, he would probably, in either case, have
avoided the ill-famed coalition with Lord North, which was the main
cause of his long-continued exclusion from power. Walpole had spoken
his mind very plainly on the subject. “It is very entertaining,” he
wrote, “that two or three great families should persuade themselves
that they have an hereditary and exclusive right of giving us a head
without a tongue.”[10] And he told Fox himself: “My Whiggism is not
confined to the Peak of Derbyshire.”[11] We can imagine with what
horror such utterances as these were received by the believers in the
Whig doctrine of divine right. No wonder that Mr. Fox did not like
Walpole. And what Mr. Fox disliked was, of course, anathema to every
true Whig, and especially to an Edinburgh Reviewer of 1833.

What do the complaints of Walpole’s political tergiversation amount
to? It was certainly not a wise act of Horace to hang up in his
bedroom an engraving of the death warrant of Charles I. with the
inscription “Major Charta.” But the Whig essayist, while reproving
Walpole’s strange fancy that, without the instrument in question,
the Great Charter would have become of little importance, might
have recollected that he had himself professed his inability to see
any essential distinction between the execution of the Royal Martyr
and the deposition of his son. Again, there was inconsistency, no
doubt, between Walpole’s admiration of the Long Parliament, and his
detestation of the National Assembly; yet it should be borne in mind
that, in the midst of his disgust at the excesses of the French
Revolution, he protested that he was very far from subscribing to the
whole of Burke’s “Reflections.” Why then should we be told that “he
was frightened into a fanatical royalist, and became one of the most
extravagant alarmists of those wretched times?” We may surely ask on
his behalf the question which Macaulay put when the consistency of his
own master, Sir James Mackintosh, was impugned: “Why is one person to
be singled out from among millions, and arraigned before posterity
as a traitor to his opinions, only because events produced on him the
effect which they produced on a whole generation?”

When the critic tells us that Walpole was a mischief-maker who
“sometimes contrived, without showing himself, to disturb the course of
Ministerial negotiations, and to spread confusion through the political
circles,” we cannot avoid seeing in these words a resentful reference
to the part taken by Conway on the occasions above referred to.

It was not Walpole’s fault that the party conflicts of his time were
mainly about persons. We have seen the importance which Fox attached
to these personal questions. We may safely say that this great man’s
disapproval of Walpole’s conduct did not spring from any difference
on matters of principle. If Horace was an opponent of Parliamentary
Reform, this was an open question among Fox’s most intimate associates.
If he objected to the enfranchisement of the Roman Catholics, most
Whigs of his time did the same. In the dispute with America, as we
shall see, he maintained, from the first, the right of the Colonies
to liberty and independence. Nor did he retract his expressions of
sympathy with the American Republic when the horrors of the French
Revolution made him a supporter of Tory policy in England and on the
Continent. He always lamented as one of the worst effects of the
French excesses that they must necessarily retard the progress and
establishment of civil liberty.[12]

There were questions of social politics on which he was far in
advance of his times. “We have been sitting,” he wrote, on the 25th
of February, 1750, “this fortnight on the African Company. We, the
British Senate, that temple of liberty, and bulwark of Protestant
Christianity, have, this fortnight, been considering methods to make
more effectual that horrid traffic of selling negroes. It has appeared
to us that six-and-forty thousand of these wretches are sold every year
to our plantations alone! It chills one’s blood--I would not have to
say I voted for it for the Continent of America! The destruction of the
miserable inhabitants by the Spaniards was but a momentary misfortune
that followed from the discovery of the New World, compared with the
lasting havoc which it brought upon Africa. We reproach Spain, and yet
do not even pretend the nonsense of butchering these poor creatures for
the good of their souls.”[13] The sentiments thus declared by Walpole
nine years before Wilberforce was born, he steadily adhered to through
life. On this point, at least, no one has ever charged him with any
wavering or inconsistency.

We will mention, before passing on to different topics, one other
matter on which Walpole shows a liberality of feeling quite unusual
at any period of his life. In the summer of 1762, he writes: “I am in
distress about my Gallery and Cabinet: the latter was on the point
of being completed, and is really striking beyond description. Last
Saturday night my workmen took their leave, made their bow, and left
me up to the knees in shavings. In short, the journeymen carpenters,
like the cabinet-makers, have entered into an association not to work
unless their wages are raised; and how can one complain? The poor
fellows, whose all the labour is, see their masters advance their
prices every day, and think it reasonable to touch their share.”[14]

       *       *       *       *       *

In the domain of literature, Walpole’s opinions were largely influenced
by his social position and personal connexions. He rated the class
of professional writers as much below as they have ever been rated
above their real deserts; and this may perhaps help to explain the
rancour with which he has been pursued by some critics. He could
see nothing wonderful in the art of stringing sentences together.
He met famous authors daily in society, and did not find that they
were wiser or more accomplished than their neighbours. Most of them
showed to little advantage in the drawing-rooms in which he felt his
own life completest. Gray seldom opened his lips; Goldsmith “talked
like poor poll”; Johnson was Ursa Major--a brute with whom Horace
declined to be acquainted; Hume’s powers of mind did not appear in
his broad unmeaning face, nor animate his awkward conversation; even
Gibbon made a bad figure as often as any doubt was hinted as to the
transcendent importance of his luminous or voluminous history. As for
the novelists, neither Fielding nor Richardson ever ascended to the
sublime heights in which Horace dwelt at ease. Stories circulated
there of vulgar orgies amidst which the biographer of Tom Jones
performed his police functions, and of requests made by the author of
“Clarissa” to his female admirers for information as to the manners
of polite life. Walpole shrank from the coarseness of the one, and
smiled at the attempts of the other to describe a sphere which he
had never entered. We are not to suppose, however, that Horace was
as blind to the gradations of literary rank as some would have us
believe. When he told Mann that _The World_ was the work of “our first
writers,” instancing Lord Chesterfield, Sir Charles Hanbury Williams,
and other well-born dilettanti whose names have now sunk into oblivion
or neglect, it is clear that he was speaking with reference to the
matter in hand. It did not occur to him that great historians and poets
would be likely or suitable contributors to a series of light papers
intended for the macaronis of the hour. What he regarded as the chief
qualification of himself and his friends who wrote for this fashionable
journal was their familiarity with the tone of the best society. For
himself, Walpole constantly disclaimed all pretence to learning or
exact knowledge of any kind, and, due allowance made for the vanity of
which undoubtedly he owned an ample share, there seems no reason to
question his sincerity. We conceive, indeed, that his estimate of his
own talents and acquirements was much more accurate than it has usually
been considered. In all that related to literary fame, his vanity
showed itself rather in depreciating the advantages which he had not,
than in exalting those which he possessed. If he did not worship style,
still less was he disposed to bow down before study and research. Hence
the low esteem in which he held authors of all kinds. Some excuses may
be made for his disparaging criticisms. The literati of his day were
certainly eclipsed by the contemporary orators. What writer was left in
prose or verse, on the death of Swift, who could compare with Mansfield
or the first William Pitt? Which of the poets or historians of the next
generation won the applause which was called forth by the speeches of
Fox or Sheridan or the younger Pitt? If Fox and Sheridan could obtain
their greatest triumphs in the midst of gambling and dissipation, and
apparently without pains or application, there was some apology for
slighting the labours of Robertson and the carefully polished verses
of Goldsmith. With the exception of Lord Chatham, whom he strongly
disliked, Walpole generally does justice to the great speakers of his
time, on whichever side in politics they were ranged; if he gives no
credit for genius to the writers of the age, this was partly at least
because their genius was of no striking or signal order. Judgment,
sense, and spirit were Pope’s three marks for distinguishing a great
writer from an inferior one, and these continued to be the criteria
applicable, even in the department of so-called works of imagination,
down to the end of the century.

Walpole, as in duty bound, was a professed worshipper of Shakespeare
and Milton, but we suspect that his worship was not very hearty. It is
clear that Pope was the poet of his choice; and he seems to have known
every line of his favourite by heart. He admired also the exquisite
poetry of Gray, and this admiration was no doubt sincere; but we are
disposed to think that it arose entirely from the early connexion
between Horace and the author, and from the feeling that Gray, in some
sort, belonged to him. Gray was Walpole’s poet, as Conway was his
statesman; and the sense of ownership, which converted his cousinly
regard for Conway into a species of idolatry, turned to enthusiasm for
Gray’s “Odes” the critical estimate which would otherwise, we feel
sure, have ended in a pretty strong aversion.

What Walpole said, rather uncharitably, of Sir Joshua Reynolds, may, we
fear, be applied with more justice to Walpole himself. All his geese
were swans, as the swans of others were geese in his eyes. Conway
was a man of integrity and honour, an excellent soldier, a fluent
speaker, but he was a timid and vacillating politician. That phase of
their weakness which makes the vainglorious pique themselves on having
remarkable friends, is certainly not unamiable, though it is sometimes
fatiguing. We all know the man who congratulates himself on his good
fortune in being the associate of the versatile Dr. A., the high-souled
Mr. B., the original Mr. C., and so on. Had Horace possessed a wife,
he would have wearied all his acquaintance with encomiums on her
beauty, wit, wisdom, and other matchless perfections. Having no wife
to celebrate, he chose to sing the praises of General Conway, and sang
them lustily, and with good courage. This was the more disinterested,
as Conway appears to have been distinctly one of those persons who
allow themselves to be loved. There is no questioning the genuineness
of a devotion which undoubtedly entailed on Walpole great sacrifices.
The time and labour which Horace bestowed in the service of his
friend’s ambition entitle him to full credit for honesty in the offer
which he made to share his fortune with the latter, when, at an early
stage of his career, he was dismissed from his employments for opposing
the Ministry of the day.

This was not the only occasion on which Walpole showed himself capable
of uncommon generosity. He made a similar offer to Madame du Deffand,
when she was threatened with the loss of her pension. That clever
leader of French society was not, like Conway, a connexion of long
standing, but a mere recent acquaintance of Horace, who had no claim
on him beyond the pleasure she had shown in his company, and the pity
which her blind and helpless old age demanded. In the event, the
lady did not require his assistance, but her letters prove that she
had full confidence in his intentions, notwithstanding the harshness
with which he sometimes repressed her expressions of affection. The
same temperament which made him fond of displaying his intimacy with
Conway, caused him to dread the ridicule of being supposed to have
an attachment for the poor old Marquise. Hence arose the occasional
semblance of unkindness, which was contradicted by substantial proofs
of regard, and which must be set down to undue sensitiveness on the
gentleman’s side rather than to want of consideration.

The coldness of heart with which Walpole is reproached has, we think,
been exaggerated. “His affections were bestowed on few; for in early
life they had never been cultivated.” So much is admitted by Miss
Berry, a most favourable witness. But in society generally, Horace
appears to have shown himself friendly and obliging. His aristocratic
pride did not prevent him from mixing freely with persons much his
inferiors in station. Miss Hawkins, daughter of the historian of
music, who for many years lived near him at Twickenham, testifies
to his sociable and liberal temper; and Walpole’s own letters show
that he was at some trouble to assist Sir John Hawkins in collecting
materials for his work. The correspondence between Horace and his
deputies in the Exchequer proves the kindly feeling that subsisted
between him and them; and also reveals the fact that he employed them
from time to time in dispensing charities which he did not wish to
have disclosed. And Miss Berry records that, during his later life,
although no ostentatious contributor to public charities and schemes of
improvement, the friends in whose opinion he could confide had always
more difficulty to repress than to excite his liberality.

His temper, says Sir Walter Scott, was precarious. Walpole, we believe,
would readily have pleaded guilty to this charge. That he felt his
infirmity in this respect his Letters sufficiently show; he assigns
it as the chief reason why he preferred to live alone. Gray was not
the only one of his early friends with whom he quarrelled. He became
estranged at different times from Ashton, another college companion;
from Bentley, whose taste and talent he had employed in decorating his
Castle; from George Montagu,[15] who, next to Conway, was long his most
intimate friend; and from Mason the poet; not to mention other names.
Whatever blame may attach to Walpole for these ruptures, it seems to
be now pretty well agreed that in the matter of Chatterton he was
guiltless. On this subject, we need only quote a few sentences from
Scott. “His memory,” says Sir Walter, “has suffered most on account
of his conduct towards Chatterton, in which we have always thought he
was perfectly defensible. That unhappy son of genius endeavoured to
impose upon Walpole a few stanzas of very inferior merit, as ancient;
and sent him an equally gross and palpable imposture under the shape
of a pretended ‘List of Painters.’ Walpole’s sole crime lies in not
patronizing at once a young man who only appeared before him in the
character of a very inartificial impostor, though he afterwards proved
himself a gigantic one. The fate of Chatterton lies, not at the door
of Walpole, but of the public at large, who two years, we believe,
afterwards were possessed of the splendid proofs of his natural powers,
and any one of whom was as much called upon as Walpole to prevent the
most unhappy catastrophe.”[16]

We turn from Walpole’s life and character to his Letters. We have
already mentioned the friends to whom the earlier portion of these
were chiefly addressed. Other friends to whom he occasionally wrote
were Lord Hertford, Conway’s elder brother, Lord Strafford, Cole, the
antiquary of Cambridge, and John Chute, with whom he had been intimate
at Florence. The names of some later correspondents will appear as we
proceed, of whom such an account as may seem necessary will be given
as they come before us. Of the pains and skill with which the matter
of each letter is adapted to the person for whom it was intended, our
readers will be able to judge for themselves. That the author had
studied letter-writing as an art, is a remark almost too trivial to
be repeated. It is hardly too much to say that he made it his chief
literary business. “Mine,” he said, “is a life of letter-writing.” That
he counted on being remembered by his letters far more than by any
other of his writings, we hold to be as certain as any statement of the
kind can be. He had, we believe, gauged his powers far more correctly
than is commonly supposed, and was satisfied that in this kind of
composition, more than in any other, he had produced something of
permanent value. He had studied closely the letters of Gray and Madame
de Sévigné, and formed his own style from them. The letters of the
latter were his especial delight. He read them over until they became
part of his own mind. Nothing interested him so much as a rumour that
some fresh letters of “Notre Dame des Rochers” had been discovered. It
may be too much to say, as Miss Berry has said, that Walpole has shown
our language to be capable of all the graces and all the charms of the
French of the great writer whom he imitated. But, due allowance made
for the superiority of French idiom and French finesse in a department
where they appear to most advantage, it may safely be affirmed that, if
variety and interest of topics be regarded as well as style, Walpole’s
letters are unrivalled. It was only by degrees that Horace attained to
the perfection of easy engaging writing. His earlier letters betray
signs of considerable labour. It is said that a summary prepared
beforehand of one of his letters to Montagu was found in looking over
some of his correspondence. In later days he wrote with the greatest
facility, even carrying on a conversation the while. But he continued
to the last the habit of putting down on the backs of letters or slips
of paper, a note of facts, of news, of witticisms, or of anything he
wished not to forget for the amusement of his correspondents.



CHAPTER II.

    Country Life.--Ranelagh Gardens.--The Rebel Lords.--The
    Earthquake.--A Frolic at Vauxhall.--Capture of a
    Housebreaker.--Strawberry Hill.--The Beautiful
    Gunnings.--Sterne.


We pass over such of Walpole’s letters as were written before his
return from his travels. They are interesting chiefly as parts of a
correspondence carried on by four young men of talent--Gray, West,
Ashton, and Horace himself--who, having been schoolfellows, had formed
what they called a quadruple alliance; and it must be owned that
Walpole in this correspondence shines less than Gray, who appears to
have been the mentor of the group, and less, too, perhaps than West,
whose early death disappointed great hopes. We omit, besides, all
reference to the letters in which Horace described the great Walpolean
battle, and traced the fortunes of the Broad Bottom Administration.
And, with few exceptions, his accounts of later political events have
also been excluded. The additions which his gossiping chronicles have
made to our knowledge of these matters have been incorporated in most
recent histories of the period; the extracts given in the present
volume are designed, as a rule, to illustrate the history of manners
rather than of politics.

From the moment of his return from the Continent until he lost his
father, Horace lived in the old statesman’s house, dividing his time,
for the most part, between the House of Commons and the amusements of
fashionable society. In the latter sphere, the Honourable Mr. Walpole
soon achieved success. Several years afterwards, he defined himself
as a dancing senator. His first season witnessed the opening of
Ranelagh Gardens, which at once became the resort of the great world.
Grave ministers and privy councillors were to be seen there in the
crowd of beauties and macaronis. Horace relates that he carried Sir
Robert thither just before attending him on his retreat to Houghton.
Constrained by filial duty, the young man revisited the family seat in
each of the two following years, but he went sorely against his will.
With his father’s coarse habits and boisterous manners he had nothing
in common; his feeble constitution was unequal to the sports of the
field, and the drinking that then accompanied them; nor could the
scenery of Norfolk, which he disliked, make him forget the excitements
of Westminster and Chelsea. Yet to these visits to Houghton his readers
owe some entertaining sketches of English country life in the middle of
the eighteenth century. Take, for instance, the following lively letter
addressed to John Chute, whose acquaintance he had made at Florence:

                                         “Houghton, August 20, 1743.

    “Indeed, my dear Sir, you certainly did not use to be stupid,
    and till you give me more substantial proof that you are so,
    I shall not believe it. As for your temperate diet and milk
    bringing about such a metamorphosis, I hold it impossible.
    I have such lamentable proofs every day before my eyes of
    the stupifying qualities of beef, ale, and wine, that I have
    contracted a most religious veneration for your spiritual
    nouriture. Only imagine that I here every day see men, who
    are mountains of roast beef, and only seem just roughly hewn
    out into the outlines of human form, like the giant-rock at
    Pratolino! I shudder when I see them brandish their knives
    in act to carve, and look on them as savages that devour one
    another. I should not stare at all more than I do, if yonder
    Alderman at the lower end of the table was to stick his fork
    into his neighbour’s jolly cheek, and cut a brave slice of
    brown and fat. Why, I’ll swear I see no difference between a
    country gentleman and a sirloin; whenever the first laughs,
    or the latter is cut, there run out just the same streams
    of gravy! Indeed, the sirloin does not ask quite so many
    questions. I have an Aunt here, a family piece of goods, an old
    remnant of inquisitive hospitality and economy, who, to all
    intents and purposes, is as beefy as her neighbours. She wore
    me so down yesterday with interrogatories, that I dreamt all
    night she was at my ear with ‘who’s’ and ‘why’s,’ and ‘when’s’
    and ‘where’s,’ till at last in my very sleep I cried out, ‘For
    heaven’s sake, Madam, ask me no more questions!’

    “Oh! my dear Sir, don’t you find that nine parts in ten of the
    world are of no use but to make you wish yourself with that
    tenth part? I am so far from growing used to mankind by living
    amongst them, that my natural ferocity and wildness does but
    every day grow worse. They tire me, they fatigue me; I don’t
    know what to do with them; I don’t know what to say to them; I
    fling open the windows, and fancy I want air; and when I get
    by myself, I undress myself, and seem to have had people in
    my pockets, in my plaits, and on my shoulders! I indeed find
    this fatigue worse in the country than in town, because one can
    avoid it there and has more resources; but it is there too. I
    fear ’tis growing old; but I literally seem to have murdered
    a man whose name was Ennui, for his ghost is ever before me.
    They say there is no English word for _ennui_; I think you may
    translate it most literally by what is called ‘entertaining
    people,’ and ‘doing the honours:’ that is, you sit an hour with
    somebody you don’t know and don’t care for, talk about the wind
    and the weather, and ask a thousand foolish questions, which
    all begin with, ‘I think you live a good deal in the country,’
    or, ‘I think you don’t love this thing or that.’ Oh! ’tis
    dreadful!

    “I’ll tell you what is delightful--the Dominichin![17] My
    dear Sir, if ever there was a Dominichin, if there was ever
    an original picture, this is one. I am quite happy; for my
    father is as much transported with it as I am. It is hung in
    the gallery, where are all his most capital pictures, and he
    himself thinks it beats all but the two Guidos. That of the
    Doctors and the Octagon--I don’t know if you ever saw them?
    What a chain of thought this leads me into! but why should I
    not indulge it? I will flatter myself with your some time or
    other passing a few days here with me. Why must I never expect
    to see anything but Beefs in a gallery which would not yield
    even to the Colonna?”

Again the following to Sir Horace Mann:

                                          “Newmarket, Oct. 3, 1743.

    “I am writing to you in an inn on the road to London. What a
    paradise should I have thought this when I was in the Italian
    inns! in a wide barn with four ample windows, which had nothing
    more like glass than shutters and iron bars! no tester to the
    bed, and the saddles and portmanteaus heaped on me to keep off
    the cold. What a paradise did I think the inn at Dover when I
    came back! and what magnificence were two-penny prints, salt
    cellars, and boxes to hold the knives; but the _summum bonum_
    was small-beer and the newspaper.

        “‘I bless’d my stars, and call’d it luxury!’

    “Who was the Neapolitan ambassadress[18] that could not live at
    Paris, because there was no macaroni? Now am I relapsed into
    all the dissatisfied repinement of a true English grumbling
    voluptuary. I could find in my heart to write a Craftsman
    against the Government, because I am not quite so much at my
    ease as on my own sofa. I could persuade myself that it is
    my Lord Carteret’s fault that I am only sitting in a common
    arm-chair, when I would be lolling in a _péché-mortel_. How
    dismal, how solitary, how scrub does this town look; and
    yet it has actually a street of houses better than Parma or
    Modena. Nay, the houses of the people of fashion, who come
    hither for the races, are palaces to what houses in London
    itself were fifteen years ago. People do begin to live again
    now, and I suppose in a term we shall revert to York Houses,
    Clarendon Houses, etc. But from that grandeur all the nobility
    had contracted themselves to live in coops of a dining-room,
    a dark back-room, with one eye in a corner, and a closet.
    Think what London would be, if the chief houses were in it,
    as in the cities in other countries, and not dispersed like
    great rarity-plums in a vast pudding of country. Well, it is a
    tolerable place as it is! Were I a physician, I would prescribe
    nothing but recipe, CCCLXV drachm. Londin. Would you know why
    I like London so much? Why, if the world must consist of so
    many fools as it does, I choose to take them in the gross,
    and not made into separate pills, as they are prepared in the
    country. Besides, there is no being alone but in a metropolis:
    the worst place in the world to find solitude is the country:
    questions grow there, and that unpleasant Christian commodity,
    neighbours. Oh! they are all good Samaritans, and do so pour
    balms and nostrums upon one, if one has but the toothache, or
    a journey to take, that they break one’s head. A journey to
    take--ay! they talk over the miles to you, and tell you, you
    will be late in. My Lord Lovel says, _John_ always goes two
    hours in the dark in the morning, to avoid being one hour in
    the dark in the evening. I was pressed to set out to-day before
    seven: I did before nine; and here am I arrived at a quarter
    past five, for the rest of the night.

    “I am more convinced every day, that there is not only no
    knowledge of the world out of a great city, but no decency,
    no practicable society--I had almost said not a virtue. I
    will only instance in modesty, which all _old Englishmen_ are
    persuaded cannot exist within the atmosphere of Middlesex. Lady
    Mary has a remarkable taste and knowledge of music, and can
    sing--I don’t say, like your sister; but I am sure she would
    be ready to die if obliged to sing before three people, or
    before one with whom she is not intimate. The other day there
    came to see her a Norfolk heiress; the young gentlewoman had
    not been three hours in the house, and that for the first time
    of her life, before she notified her talent for singing, and
    invited herself upstairs, to Lady Mary’s harpsichord; where,
    with a voice like thunder, and with as little harmony, she
    sang to nine or ten people for an hour. ‘Was ever nymph like
    Rossymonde?’--no, _d’honneur_. We told her she had a very
    strong voice. ‘Why, Sir! my master says it is nothing to what
    it was.’ My dear child, she brags abominably; if it had been a
    thousandth degree louder, you must have heard it at Florence.”

Arrived in London, he is again in his element. “You must be informed,”
he writes to Conway, “that every night constantly I go to Ranelagh,
which has totally beat Vauxhall. Nobody goes anywhere else--everybody
goes there. My Lord Chesterfield is so fond of it, that he says he
has ordered all his letters to be directed thither. If you had never
seen it, I would make you a most pompous description of it, and tell
you how the floor is all of beaten princes--that you can’t set your
foot without treading on a Prince of Wales or Duke of Cumberland.
The company is universal: there is from his Grace of Grafton down to
children out of the Foundling Hospital--from my Lady Townshend to the
kitten--from my Lord Sandys[19] to your humble cousin and sincere
friend.”

From scenes like this Conway’s humble cousin was removed, though not
for long, by the last illness and death of Lord Orford. The Rebellion
of 1745, which quickly followed, produced only a momentary stir in
London. But the trials and executions of the rebel Lords, occurring
in the Capital itself, excited longer interest. We give Walpole’s
narrative of the execution of Lords Kilmarnock and Balmerino:

    “Just before they came out of the Tower, Lord Balmerino drank
    a bumper to King James’s health. As the clock struck ten,
    they came forth on foot, Lord Kilmarnock all in black, his
    hair unpowdered in a bag, supported by Forster, the great
    Presbyterian, and by Mr. Home, a young clergyman, his friend.
    Lord Balmerino followed, alone, in a blue coat, turned up with
    red, (his rebellious regimentals,) a flannel waistcoat, and his
    shroud beneath; their hearses following. They were conducted
    to a house near the scaffold: the room forwards had benches
    for spectators, in the second Lord Kilmarnock was put, and in
    the third backwards Lord Balmerino: all three chambers hung
    with black. Here they parted! Balmerino embraced the other,
    and said, ‘My lord, I wish I could suffer for both!’ He had
    scarce left him, before he desired again to see him, and then
    asked him, ‘My Lord Kilmarnock, do you know anything of the
    resolution taken in our army, the day before the battle of
    Culloden, to put the English prisoners to death?’ He replied,
    ‘My lord, I was not present; but since I came hither, I have
    had all the reason in the world to believe that there was such
    order taken; and I hear the Duke has the pocket-book with the
    order.’ Balmerino answered, ‘It was a lie raised to excuse
    their barbarity to us.’--Take notice, that the Duke’s charging
    this on Lord Kilmarnock (certainly on misinformation) decided
    this unhappy man’s fate! The most now pretended is, that it
    would have come to Lord Kilmarnock’s turn to have given the
    word for the slaughter, as lieutenant-general, with the patent
    for which he was immediately drawn into the rebellion, after
    having been staggered by his wife, her mother, his own poverty,
    and the defeat of Cope. He remained an hour and a half in
    the house, and shed tears. At last he came to the scaffold,
    certainly much terrified, but with a resolution that prevented
    his behaving in the least meanly or unlike a gentleman.[20]
    He took no notice of the crowd, only to desire that the baize
    might be lifted up from the rails, that the mob might see the
    spectacle. He stood and prayed some time with Forster, who wept
    over him, exhorted and encouraged him. He delivered a long
    speech to the Sheriff, and with a noble manliness stuck to
    the recantation he had made at his trial; declaring he wished
    that all who embarked in the same cause might meet the same
    fate. He then took off his bag, coat and waistcoat, with great
    composure, and after some trouble put on a napkin-cap, and
    then several times tried the block; the executioner, who was
    in white, with a white apron, out of tenderness concealing the
    axe behind himself. At last the Earl knelt down, with a visible
    unwillingness to depart, and after five minutes dropped his
    handkerchief, the signal, and his head was cut off at once,
    only hanging by a bit of skin, and was received in a scarlet
    cloth by four of the undertaker’s men kneeling, who wrapped it
    up and put it into the coffin with the body; orders having been
    given not to expose the heads, as used to be the custom.

    “The scaffold was immediately new-strewed with saw-dust, the
    block new-covered, the executioner new-dressed, and a new axe
    brought. Then came old Balmerino, treading with the air of
    a general. As soon as he mounted the scaffold, he read the
    inscription on his coffin, as he did again afterwards: he then
    surveyed the spectators, who were in amazing numbers, even upon
    masts of ships in the river; and pulling out his spectacles,
    read a reasonable speech, which he delivered to the Sheriff,
    and said, the young Pretender was so sweet a Prince, that flesh
    and blood could not resist following him; and lying down to try
    the block, he said, ‘If I had a thousand lives, I would lay
    them all down here in the same cause.’ He said, if he had not
    taken the sacrament the day before, he would have knocked down
    Williamson, the lieutenant of the Tower, for his ill-usage of
    him. He took the axe and felt it, and asked the headsman how
    many blows he had given Lord Kilmarnock; and gave him three
    guineas. Two clergymen, who attended him, coming up, he said,
    ‘No, gentlemen, I believe you have already done me all the
    service you can.’ Then he went to the corner of the scaffold,
    and called very loud for the warder, to give him his periwig,
    which he took off, and put on a night-cap of Scotch plaid, and
    then pulled off his coat and waistcoat and lay down; but being
    told he was on the wrong side, vaulted round, and immediately
    gave the sign by tossing up his arm, as if he were giving the
    signal for battle. He received three blows, but the first
    certainly took away all sensation. He was not a quarter of
    an hour on the scaffold; Lord Kilmarnock above half a one.
    Balmerino certainly died with the intrepidity of a hero, but
    with the insensibility of one too. As he walked from his prison
    to execution, seeing every window and top of house filled with
    spectators, he cried out, ‘Look, look, how they are all piled
    up like rotten oranges!’”

Horace was now in the full tide of fashion, not to say dissipation. For
a good many years the opera, plays, balls, routs, and other diversions
public and private occupy as much space in his letters as the war
or the peace, the debates in Parliament, and the intrigues of party
leaders. Mingled with topics of both kinds, we have journeys to visit
great houses in the country, schemes for their improvement, designs for
the Gothic villa at Strawberry Hill, abundance of scandal, and playful
satire on the follies of the day. Here is an amusing account of the
sensation produced by the earthquake which alarmed London in 1750. It
will be seen that the more serious feelings which the event awakened
were as ridiculous in Walpole’s eyes as any part of the panic:

        “‘Portents and prodigies are grown so frequent,
        That they have lost their name.’

    “My text is not literally true; but as far as earthquakes go
    towards lowering the price of wonderful commodities, to be sure
    we are overstocked. We have had a second, much more violent
    than the first; and you must not be surprised if by next post
    you hear of a burning mountain sprung up in Smithfield. In the
    night between Wednesday and Thursday last, (exactly a month
    since the first shock,) the earth had a shivering fit between
    one and two; but so slight that, if no more had followed, I
    don’t believe it would have been noticed. I had been awake, and
    had scarce dozed again--on a sudden I felt my bolster lift up
    my head; I thought somebody was getting from under my bed, but
    soon found it was a strong earthquake, that lasted near half
    a minute, with a violent vibration and great roaring. I rang
    my bell; my servant came in, frightened out of his senses: in
    an instant we heard all the windows in the neighbourhood flung
    up. I got up and found people running into the streets, but saw
    no mischief done: there has been some; two old houses flung
    down, several chimneys, and much china-ware. The bells rang in
    several houses. Admiral Knowles, who has lived long in Jamaica,
    and felt seven there, says this was more violent than any of
    them: Francesco prefers it to the dreadful one at Leghorn. The
    wise say, that if we have not rain soon, we shall certainly
    have more. Several people are going out of town, for it has
    nowhere reached above ten miles from London: they say, they are
    not frightened, but that it is such fine weather, ‘Why, one
    can’t help going into the country!’ The only visible effect
    it has had, was on the ridotto, at which, being the following
    night, there were but four hundred people. A parson, who came
    into White’s the morning of earthquake the first, and heard
    bets laid on whether it was an earthquake or the blowing up of
    powder-mills, went away exceedingly scandalised, and said, ‘I
    protest, they are such an impious set of people, that I believe
    if the last trumpet was to sound, they would bet puppet-show
    against Judgment.’ If we get any nearer still to the torrid
    zone, I shall pique myself on sending you a present of cedrati
    and orange-flower water: I am already planning a _terreno_ for
    Strawberry Hill.…

    “You will not wonder so much at our earthquakes as at the
    effects they have had. All the women in town have taken them
    up upon the foot of _Judgments_; and the clergy, who have had
    no windfalls of a long season, have driven horse and foot
    into this opinion. There has been a shower of sermons and
    exhortations: Secker,[21] the jesuitical Bishop of Oxford,
    began the mode. He heard the women were all going out of town
    to avoid the next shock; and so, for fear of losing his Easter
    offerings, he set himself to advise them to await God’s good
    pleasure in fear and trembling. But what is more astonishing,
    Sherlock,[22] who has much better sense, and much less of the
    Popish confessor, has been running a race with him for the
    old ladies, and has written a pastoral letter, of which ten
    thousand were sold in two days; and fifty thousand have been
    subscribed for, since the two first editions.

    “I told you the women talked of going out of town: several
    families are literally gone, and many more going to-day and
    to-morrow; for what adds to the absurdity is, that the second
    shock having happened exactly a month after the former, it
    prevails that there will be a third on Thursday next, another
    month, which is to swallow up London. I am almost ready to
    burn my letter now I have begun it, lest you should think I am
    laughing at you: but it is so true, that Arthur of White’s told
    me last night, that he should put off the last ridotto, which
    was to be on Thursday, because he hears nobody would come to
    it. I have advised several who are going to keep their next
    earthquake in the country, to take the bark for it, as it is so
    periodic. Dick Leveson and Mr. Rigby, who had supped and stayed
    late at Bedford House the other night, knocked at several
    doors, and in a watchman’s voice cried, ‘Past four o’clock, and
    a dreadful earthquake!’ But I have done with this ridiculous
    panic: two pages were too much to talk of it.…

    “I had not time to finish my letter on Monday. I return to the
    earthquake, which I had mistaken; it is to be to-day. This
    frantic terror prevails so much, that within these three days
    seven hundred and thirty coaches have been counted passing Hyde
    Park Corner, with whole parties removing into the country. Here
    is a good advertisement which I cut out of the papers to-day:

        “‘On Monday next will be published (price 6_d._) A true
        and exact List of all the Nobility and Gentry who have
        left, or shall leave, this place through fear of another
        Earthquake.’

    “Several women have made earthquake gowns; that is, warm
    gowns to sit out of doors all to-night. These are of the more
    courageous. One woman, still more heroic, is come to town on
    purpose; she says, all her friends are in London, and she will
    not survive them. But what will you think of Lady Catherine
    Pelham, Lady Frances Arundel, and Lord and Lady Galway, who go
    this evening to an inn ten miles out of town, where they are to
    play at brag till five in the morning, and then come back--I
    suppose, to look for the bones of their husbands and families
    under the rubbish? The prophet of all this (next to the Bishop
    of London) is a trooper of Lord Delawar’s, who was yesterday
    sent to Bedlam. His _colonel_ sent to the man’s wife, and asked
    her if her husband had ever been disordered before. She cried,
    ‘Oh dear! my lord, he is not mad now; if your _lordship_ would
    but get any _sensible_ man to examine him, you would find he is
    quite in his right mind.’…

    “I did not doubt but you would be diverted with the detail of
    absurdities that were committed after the earthquake: I could
    have filled more paper with such relations, if I had not feared
    tiring you. We have swarmed with sermons, essays, relations,
    poems, and exhortations on that subject. One Stukely, a parson,
    has accounted for it, and I think prettily, by electricity--but
    that is the fashionable cause, and everything is resolved into
    electrical appearances, as formerly everything was accounted
    for by Descartes’s vortices, and Sir Isaac’s gravitation.
    But they all take care, after accounting for the earthquake
    systematically, to assure you that still it was nothing less
    than a judgment. Dr. Barton, the Rector of St. Andrew’s,
    was the only sensible, or at least honest divine, upon the
    occasion. When some women would have had him pray to them
    in his parish church against the intended shock, he excused
    himself on having a great cold. ‘And besides,’ said he, ‘you
    may go to St. James’s Church; the Bishop of Oxford is to preach
    there all night about earthquakes.’ Turner, a great china-man,
    at the corner of next street, had a jar cracked by the shock:
    he originally asked ten guineas for the pair: he now asks
    twenty, ‘because it is the only jar in Europe that has been
    cracked by an earthquake.’”

Not long after the earthquake, we find Walpole engaged in a frolic at
Vauxhall, though in the best company, Lady Caroline Petersham, his
hostess on the occasion, being the dashing wife[23] of Lord Petersham,
eldest son of the Earl of Harrington, who had been Secretary of State.
We insert Walpole’s history of the affair for the reason which he gives
for telling it. It is part of a letter to George Montagu. After a jest
about the habits of Buxton, where his friend’s sister was then drinking
the waters, the writer proceeds:

    “As jolly and as abominable a life as she may have been
    leading, I defy all her enormities to equal a party of pleasure
    that I had t’other night. I shall relate it to you to show you
    the manners of the age, which are always as entertaining to a
    person fifty miles off as to one born an hundred and fifty
    years after the time. I had a card from Lady Caroline Petersham
    to go with her to Vauxhall. I went accordingly to her house,
    and found her and the little Ashe, or the Pollard Ashe, as they
    call her; they had just finished their last layer of red, and
    looked as handsome as crimson could make them.… We issued into
    the Mall to assemble our company, which was all the town, if
    we could get it; for just so many had been summoned, except
    Harry Vane, whom we met by chance. We mustered the Duke of
    Kingston, whom Lady Caroline says she has been trying for these
    seven years; but alas! his beauty is at the fall of the leaf;
    Lord March, Mr. Whitehed, a pretty Miss Beauclerc, and a very
    foolish Miss Sparre. These two damsels were trusted by their
    mothers for the first time of their lives to the matronly care
    of Lady Caroline. As we sailed up the Mall with all our colours
    flying, Lord Petersham,[24] with his hose and legs twisted to
    every point of crossness, strode by us on the outside, and
    repassed again on the return. At the end of the Mall she called
    to him; he would not answer: she gave a familiar spring, and,
    between laugh and confusion, ran up to him, ‘My lord, my lord!
    why, you don’t see us!’ We advanced at a little distance,
    not a little awkward in expectation how all this would end,
    for my lord never stirred his hat, or took the least notice
    of anybody: she said, ‘Do you go with us, or are _you going
    anywhere else_?’--‘I don’t go with you, I am going _somewhere
    else_;’ and away he stalked, as sulky as a ghost that nobody
    will speak to first. We got into the best order we could, and
    marched to our barge, with a boat of French horns attending,
    and little Ashe singing. We paraded some time up the river,
    and at last debarked at Vauxhall: there, if we had so pleased,
    we might have had the vivacity of our party increased by a
    quarrel; for a Mrs. Lloyd,[25] who is supposed to be married to
    Lord Haddington, seeing the two girls following Lady Petersham
    and Miss Ashe, said aloud, ‘Poor girls, I am sorry to see them
    in such bad company!’ Miss Sparre, who desired nothing so much
    as the fun of seeing a duel--a thing which, though she is
    fifteen, she has never been so lucky as to see,--took due pains
    to make Lord March resent this; but he, who is very lively and
    agreeable, laughed her out of this charming frolic with a great
    deal of humour. Here we picked up Lord Granby.… If all the
    adventures don’t conclude as you expect in the beginning of a
    paragraph, you must not wonder, for I am not making a history,
    but relating one strictly as it happened, and I think with full
    entertainment enough to content you. At last, we assembled
    in our booth, Lady Caroline in the front, with the vizor of
    her hat erect, and looking gloriously jolly and handsome. She
    had fetched my brother Orford from the next box, where he was
    enjoying himself with his _petite partie_, to help us to mince
    chickens. We minced seven chickens into a china dish, which
    Lady Caroline stewed over a lamp with three pats of butter
    and a flagon of water, stirring, and rattling, and laughing,
    and we every minute expecting to have the dish fly about our
    ears. She had brought Betty, the fruit-girl, with hampers of
    strawberries and cherries from Rogers’s, and made her wait
    upon us, and then made her sup by us at a little table. The
    conversation was no less lively than the whole transaction.
    There was a Mr. O’Brien arrived from Ireland, who would get the
    Duchess of Manchester from Mr. Hussey,[26] if she were still at
    liberty. I took up the biggest hautboy in the dish, and said
    to Lady Caroline, ‘Madam, Miss Ashe desires you would eat this
    O’Brien strawberry;’ she replied immediately, ‘I won’t, you
    hussey.’ You may imagine the laugh this reply occasioned. After
    the tempest was a little calmed, the Pollard said, ‘Now, how
    anybody would spoil this story that was to repeat it, and say,
    I won’t, you jade!’ In short, the whole air of our party was
    sufficient, as you will easily imagine, to take up the whole
    attention of the garden; so much so, that from eleven o’clock
    till half an hour after one we had the whole concourse round
    our booth: at last, they came into the little gardens of each
    booth on the sides of ours, till Harry Vane took up a bumper,
    and drank their healths, and was proceeding to treat them with
    still greater freedom. It was three o’clock before we got home.”

Our next extract displays even better than the last our author’s skill
in telling a story. It also contains some pleasant references to his
life at Strawberry Hill:

    “I have just been in London for two or three days, to fetch an
    adventure, and am returned to my hill and my castle. I can’t
    say I lost my labour, as you shall hear. Last Sunday night,
    being as wet a night as you shall see in a summer’s day, about
    half an hour after twelve, I was just come home from White’s,
    and undressing to step into bed, when I heard Harry, who you
    know lies forwards, roar out, ‘Stop thief!’ and run down
    stairs. I ran after him. Don’t be frightened; I have not lost
    one enamel, nor bronze, nor have been shot through the head
    again. A gentlewoman, who lives at Governor Pitt’s, next door
    but one to me, and where Mr. Bentley used to live, was going to
    bed too, and heard people breaking into Mr. Freeman’s house,
    who, like some acquaintance of mine in Albemarle Street, goes
    out of town, locks up his doors, and leaves the community to
    watch his furniture. N.B. It was broken open but two years
    ago, and I and all the chairmen vow they shall steal his house
    away another time, before we will trouble our heads about it.
    Well, madam called out ‘Watch!’ two men, who were sentinels,
    ran away, and Harry’s voice after them. Down came I, and with
    a posse of chairmen and watchmen found the third fellow in the
    area of Mr. Freeman’s house. Mayhap you have seen all this
    in the papers, little thinking who commanded the detachment.
    Harry fetched a blunderbuss to invite the thief up. One of the
    chairmen, who was drunk, cried, ‘Give me the blunderbuss, I’ll
    shoot him!’ But as the general’s head was a little cooler, he
    prevented military execution, and took the prisoner, without
    bloodshed, intending to make his triumphal entry into the
    metropolis of Twickenham with his captive tied to the wheels
    of his post-chaise. I find my style rises so much with the
    recollection of my victory, that I don’t know how to descend
    to tell you that the enemy was a carpenter, and had a leather
    apron on. The next step was to share my glory with my friends.
    I despatched a courier to White’s for George Selwyn, who, you
    know, loves nothing upon earth so well as a criminal, except
    the execution of him. It happened very luckily that the drawer,
    who received my message, has very lately been robbed himself,
    and had the wound fresh in his memory. He stalked up into the
    club-room, stopped short, and with a hollow trembling voice
    said, ‘Mr. Selwyn! Mr. Walpole’s compliments to you, and he
    has got a housebreaker for you!’ A squadron immediately came
    to reinforce me, and having summoned Moreland with the keys of
    the fortress, we marched into the house to search for more of
    the gang. Col. Seabright with his sword drawn went first, and
    then I, exactly the figure of Robinson Crusoe, with a candle
    and lanthorn in my hand, a carbine upon my shoulder, my hair
    wet and about my ears, and in a linen night-gown and slippers.
    We found the kitchen shutters forced, but not finished; and
    in the area a tremendous bag of tools, a hammer large enough
    for the hand of a Jael, and six chisels! All which _opima
    spolia_, as there was no temple of Jupiter Capitolinus in
    the neighbourhood, I was reduced to offer on the altar of Sir
    Thomas Clarges.

    “I am now, as I told you, returned to my plough with as much
    humility and pride as any of my great predecessors. We lead
    quite a rural life, have had a sheep-shearing, a hay-making,
    a syllabub under the cow, and a fishing of three gold-fish
    out of Poyang,[27] for a present to Madam Clive. They breed
    with me excessively, and are grown to the size of small perch.
    Everything grows, if tempests would let it; but I have had two
    of my largest trees broke to-day with the wind, and another
    last week. I am much obliged to you for the flower you offer
    me, but by the description it is an Austrian rose, and I have
    several now in bloom. Mr. Bentley is with me, finishing the
    drawings for Gray’s Odes; there are some mandarin-cats fishing
    for gold-fish, which will delight you.…

    “You will be pleased with a story of Lord Bury, that is come
    from Scotland: he is quartered at Inverness; the magistrates
    invited him to an entertainment with fire-works, which they
    intended to give on the morrow for the Duke’s birth-day. He
    thanked them, assured them he would represent their zeal to
    his Royal Highness; but he did not doubt it would be more
    agreeable to him, if they postponed it to the day following,
    the anniversary of the battle of Culloden. They stared, said
    they could not promise on their own authority, but would
    go and consult their body. They returned, told him it was
    unprecedented, and could not be complied with. Lord Bury
    replied, he was sorry they had not given a negative at once,
    for he had mentioned it to his soldiers, who would not bear a
    disappointment, and was afraid it would provoke them to some
    outrage upon the town. This did;--they celebrated Culloden.…”

A few years later Strawberry Hill had attained its greatest celebrity.
In June, 1759, Walpole writes:

    “Strawberry Hill is grown a perfect Paphos; it is the land of
    beauties. On Wednesday the Duchesses of Hamilton and Richmond,
    and Lady Ailesbury dined there; the two latter stayed all
    night. There never was so pretty a sight as to see them all
    three sitting in the shell; a thousand years hence, when I
    begin to grow old, if that can ever be, I shall talk of that
    event, and tell young people how much handsomer the women of
    my time were than they will be then: I shall say, ‘Women alter
    now; I remember Lady Ailesbury looking handsomer than her
    daughter, the pretty Duchess of Richmond, as they were sitting
    in the shell on my terrace with the Duchess of Hamilton, one
    of the famous Gunnings.’ Yesterday t’other more famous Gunning
    [Lady Coventry] dined there. She has made a friendship with my
    charming niece, to disguise her jealousy of the new Countess’s
    beauty: there were they two, their lords, Lord Buckingham, and
    Charlotte. You will think that I did not choose men for my
    parties so well as women. I don’t include Lord Waldegrave in
    this bad election.”

The famous Gunnings referred to in the last passage figure often
in Walpole’s letters. These two ladies were the daughters of Irish
parents, and though of noble blood on the mother’s side, are said to
have been originally so poor that they had thought of being actresses;
and when they were first presented at Dublin Castle, they were supplied
with clothes for the occasion by Mrs. Woffington, the actress. On
their arrival in England, their beauty created such an impression,
that they were followed by crowds in the Park and at Vauxhall. We even
read that Maria, the elder, some years after her marriage, having
been mobbed in the Park, was attended by a guard of soldiers. Maria
married the Earl of Coventry, and died many years before her husband.
Her younger sister, Elizabeth, who was reckoned the less beautiful of
the two, married, first, the Duke of Hamilton, and, secondly, Colonel
John Campbell, afterwards Duke of Argyll, for whom she had refused
the Duke of Bridgewater. The penniless Irish girl, Elizabeth Gunning,
was the mother of two Dukes of Hamilton and two Dukes of Argyll.
Walpole’s niece, of whom he suggests Lady Coventry was jealous, was a
natural daughter of his brother, Sir Edward Walpole, and was then the
bride of the Earl of Waldegrave, after whose death she became Duchess
of Gloucester, by a clandestine marriage with George III.’s younger
brother. By her first husband she had three daughters, the Ladies
Waldegrave, whose portraits, by Reynolds, are included in this volume.

Before we leave that portion of Horace Walpole’s correspondence which
belongs to the reign of George II., we will give one letter of a
character different from those we have previously selected. It is
addressed to Sir David Dalrymple, afterwards Lord Hailes, and deals
entirely with literary subjects. The “Irish poems” referred to in
it are, of course, the first fragments of “Ossian,” then recently
published by Macpherson:

                                    “Strawberry Hill, April 4, 1760.

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

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

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

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

    “‘I have been often told, that the poem called Hardykanute[28]
    (which I always admired and still admire) was the work of
    somebody that lived a few years ago. This I do not at all
    believe, though it has evidently been retouched in places by
    some modern hand; but, however, I am authorised by this report
    to ask, whether the two poems in question are certainly antique
    and genuine. I make this inquiry in quality of an antiquary,
    and am not otherwise concerned about it; for if I were sure
    that anyone now living in Scotland had written them, to divert
    himself and laugh at the credulity of the world, I would
    undertake a journey into the Highlands only for the pleasure of
    seeing him.’

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

    “The ‘Siege of Aquileia,’ of which you ask, pleased less than
    Mr. Home’s other plays.[29] In my own opinion, ‘Douglas’ far
    exceeds both the others. Mr. Home seems to have a beautiful
    talent for painting genuine nature and the manners of his
    country. There was so little of nature in the manners of both
    Greeks and Romans, that I do not wonder at his success being
    less brilliant when he tried those subjects; and, to say the
    truth, one is a little weary of them. At present, nothing is
    talked of, nothing admired, but what I cannot help calling a
    very insipid and tedious performance: it is a kind of novel,
    called ‘The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy;’ the great
    humour of which consists in the whole narration always going
    backwards. I can conceive a man saying that it would be droll
    to write a book in that manner, but have no notion of his
    persevering in executing it. It makes one smile two or three
    times at the beginning, but in recompense makes one yawn for
    two hours. The characters are tolerably kept up, but the
    humour is for ever attempted and missed. The best thing in it
    is a Sermon, oddly coupled with a good deal of indecency, and
    both the composition of a clergyman. The man’s head, indeed,
    was a little turned before, now topsy-turvy with his success
    and fame. Dodsley has given him six hundred and fifty pounds
    for the second edition and two more volumes (which I suppose
    will reach backwards to his great-great-grandfather); Lord
    Fauconberg, a donative[30] of one hundred and sixty pounds a
    year; and Bishop Warburton gave him a purse of gold and this
    compliment (which happened to be a contradiction), ‘that it
    was quite an original composition, and in the true Cervantic
    vein:’ the only copy that ever was an original, except in
    painting, where they all pretend to be so. Warburton, however,
    not content with this, recommended the book to the bench of
    bishops, and told them Mr. Sterne, the author, was the English
    Rabelais. They had never heard of such a writer. Adieu!”

[Illustration: _Sir Joshua Reynolds. Pinx._ _A. Dawson. Ph. Sc._ _E.
Fisher. Sc._

_Lawrence Sterne._]



CHAPTER III.

    A new reign.--Funeral of the late King.--Houghton
    revisited.--Election at Lynn.--Marriage of George the
    Third.--His Coronation.


The accession of George III. was the beginning of a new era in English
society. The character of George II. could inspire no respect. His
successor, with all his faults, did as much perhaps towards reforming
the manners of the higher classes as a more enlightened prince could
have effected. His regular life and the strictness of his Court
applied a pressure answering to that which grew daily stronger from
below. The chief want of the aristocracy at this time was not so much
culture as something more vitally important. Culture they did, indeed,
sorely lack, but many influences among themselves were tending to
promote this. What they mainly needed to have enforced upon them from
without was some regard to the first principles of social order, some
recognition of moral and religious obligations. Those who despise the
formalism of George III.’s reign, may reflect that to impose external
decorum on the society represented in Hogarth’s pictures was of itself
no trifling improvement. Even this was some time in coming. It was
retarded by the mistaken system of government which for a long while
rendered the Crown unpopular. Still the signs of a change for the
better gradually became apparent; and when the close of the American
War had removed the last subject of national discontent, the great
majority of the upper, as well as of the middle ranks, rallied round
the throne as the mainstay of public morality, supporting the King and
the sedate minister of his choice against a rival whose irregularities
recalled the disorders of a former time.

We give the letter in which Walpole describes the funeral of George II.
It should be stated that the writer did not long retain the favourable
opinion he here expresses of the new Sovereign:

                                  “Arlington Street, Nov. 13, 1760.

    “Even the honeymoon of a new reign don’t produce events every
    day. There is nothing but the common saying of addresses and
    kissing hands. The chief difficulty is settled; Lord Gower
    yields the Mastership of the Horse to Lord Huntingdon, and
    removes to the Great Wardrobe, from whence Sir Thomas Robinson
    was to have gone into Ellis’s place, but he is saved. The City,
    however, have a mind to be out of humour; a paper has been
    fixed on the Royal Exchange, with these words, ‘No petticoat
    Government, no Scotch Minister, no Lord George Sackville;’
    two hints totally unfounded, and the other scarce true. No
    petticoat ever governed less, it is left at Leicester-house;
    Lord George’s breeches are as little concerned; and, except
    Lady Susan Stuart and Sir Harry Erskine, nothing has yet
    been done for any Scots. For the King himself, he seems all
    good-nature, and wishing to satisfy everybody; all his speeches
    are obliging. I saw him again yesterday, and was surprised to
    find the levee-room had lost so entirely the air of the lion’s
    den. This Sovereign don’t stand in one spot, with his eyes
    fixed royally on the ground, and dropping bits of German news;
    he walks about, and speaks to everybody. I saw him afterwards
    on the throne, where he is graceful and genteel, sits with
    dignity, and reads his answers to addresses well; it was the
    Cambridge address, carried by the Duke of Newcastle in his
    Doctor’s gown, and looking like the _Médecin malgré lui_. He
    had been vehemently solicitous for attendance, for fear my Lord
    Westmoreland, who vouchsafes himself to bring the address from
    Oxford, should outnumber him. Lord Lichfield and several other
    Jacobites have kissed hands; George Selwyn says, ‘They go to St
    James’s, because now there are so many _Stuarts_ there.’

    “Do you know, I had the curiosity to go to the burying t’other
    night; I had never seen a royal funeral; nay, I walked as a
    rag of quality, which I found would be, and so it was, the
    easiest way of seeing it. It is absolutely a noble sight. The
    Prince’s chamber, hung with purple, and a quantity of silver
    lamps, the coffin under a canopy of purple velvet, and six vast
    chandeliers of silver on high stands, had a very good effect.
    The Ambassador from Tripoli and his son were carried to see
    that chamber. The procession, through a line of foot-guards,
    every seventh man bearing a torch, the horse-guards lining the
    outside, their officers with drawn sabres and crape sashes
    on horseback, the drums muffled, the fifes, bells tolling,
    and minute-guns,--all this was very solemn. But the charm
    was the entrance of the Abbey, where we were received by the
    Dean and Chapter in rich robes, the choir and almsmen bearing
    torches; the whole Abbey so illuminated, that one saw it to
    greater advantage than by day; the tombs, long aisles, and
    fretted roof, all appearing distinctly, and with the happiest
    _chiaroscuro_. There wanted nothing but incense, and little
    chapels here and there, with priests saying mass for the
    repose of the defunct; yet one could not complain of its not
    being catholic enough. I had been in dread of being coupled
    with some boy of ten years old; but the heralds were not very
    accurate, and I walked with George Grenville, taller and older,
    to keep me in countenance. When we came to the chapel of Henry
    the Seventh, all solemnity and decorum ceased; no order was
    observed, people sat or stood where they could or would; the
    yeomen of the guard were crying out for help, oppressed by
    the immense weight of the coffin; the Bishop read sadly, and
    blundered in the prayers; the fine chapter, _Man that is born
    of a woman_, was chanted, not read; and the anthem, besides
    being immeasurably tedious, would have served as well for a
    nuptial. The real serious part was the figure of the Duke of
    Cumberland, heightened by a thousand melancholy circumstances.
    He had a dark brown adonis, and a cloak of black cloth, with
    a train of five yards. Attending the funeral of a father
    could not be pleasant: his leg extremely bad, yet forced to
    stand upon it near two hours; his face bloated and distorted
    with his late paralytic stroke, which has affected, too, one
    of his eyes, and placed over the mouth of the vault, into
    which, in all probability, he must himself so soon descend;
    think how unpleasant a situation! He bore it all with a
    firm and unaffected countenance. This grave scene was fully
    contrasted by the burlesque Duke of Newcastle. He fell into a
    fit of crying the moment he came into the chapel, and flung
    himself back in a stall, the Archbishop hovering over him with
    a smelling-bottle; but in two minutes his curiosity got the
    better of his hypocrisy, and he ran about the chapel with his
    glass to spy who was or was not there, spying with one hand,
    and mopping his eyes with the other. Then returned the fear of
    catching cold; and the Duke of Cumberland, who was sinking with
    heat, felt himself weighed down, and turning round, found it
    was the Duke of Newcastle standing upon his train, to avoid the
    chill of the marble. It was very theatric to look down into the
    vault where the coffin lay, attended by mourners with lights.
    Clavering, the groom of the bedchamber, refused to sit up with
    the body, and was dismissed by the King’s order.”

The demise of the Crown, of course, dissolved Parliament. Horace
Walpole went down to Houghton to be re-elected for Lynn:

                                         “Houghton, March 25, 1761.

    “Here I am at Houghton! and alone! in this spot, where (except
    two hours last month) I have not been in sixteen years! Think,
    what a crowd of reflections! No; Gray, and forty churchyards,
    could not furnish so many; nay, I know one must feel them with
    greater indifference than I possess, to have patience to put
    them into verse. Here I am, probably for the last time of my
    life, though not for the last time: every clock that strikes
    tells me I am an hour nearer to yonder church--that church,
    into which I have not yet had courage to enter, where lies that
    mother on whom I doated, and who doated on me! There are the
    two rival mistresses of Houghton, neither of whom ever wished
    to enjoy it! There too lies he who founded its greatness, to
    contribute to whose fall Europe was embroiled; there he sleeps
    in quiet and dignity, while his friend and his foe, rather his
    false ally and real enemy, Newcastle and Bath, are exhausting
    the dregs of their pitiful lives in squabbles and pamphlets.[31]

    “The surprise the pictures gave me is again renewed; accustomed
    for many years to see nothing but wretched daubs and varnished
    copies at auctions, I look at these as enchantment. My own
    description of them seems poor; but shall I tell you truly,
    the majesty of Italian ideas almost sinks before the warm
    nature of Flemish colouring. Alas! don’t I grow old? My young
    imagination was fired with Guido’s ideas: must they be plump
    as Abishag to warm me now? Does great youth feel with poetic
    limbs, as well as see with poetic eyes? In one respect I am
    very young, I cannot satiate myself with looking: an incident
    contributed to make me feel this more strongly. A party
    arrived, just as I did, to see the house, a man and three women
    in riding-dresses, and they rode post through the apartments.
    I could not hurry before them fast enough; they were not so
    long in seeing for the first time, as I could have been in one
    room, to examine what I knew by heart. I remember formerly
    being often diverted with this kind of _seers_; they come, ask
    what such a room is called, in which Sir Robert lay, write it
    down, admire a lobster or a cabbage in a market-piece, dispute
    whether the last room was green or purple, and then hurry to
    the inn for fear the fish should be overdressed. How different
    my sensations! not a picture here but recalls a history; not
    one, but I remember in Downing-street or Chelsea, where queens
    and crowds admired them, though seeing them as little as these
    travellers!

    “When I had drunk tea, I strolled into the garden; they told
    me it was now called the _pleasure-ground_. What a dissonant
    idea of pleasure! those groves, those _allées_, where I have
    passed so many charming moments, are now stripped up or
    overgrown--many fond paths I could not unravel, though with
    a very exact clew in my memory: I met two gamekeepers, and
    a thousand hares! In the days when all my soul was tuned to
    pleasure and vivacity (and you will think, perhaps, it is
    far from being out of tune yet), I hated Houghton and its
    solitude; yet I loved this garden, as now, with many regrets, I
    love Houghton; Houghton, I know not what to call it, a monument
    of grandeur or ruin! How I have wished this evening for Lord
    Bute! how I could preach to him! For myself, I do not want to
    be preached to; I have long considered, how every Balbec must
    wait for the chance of a Mr. Wood. The servants wanted to lay
    me in the great apartment--what, to make me pass my night as I
    have done my evening! It were like proposing to Margaret Roper
    to be a duchess in the court that cut off her father’s head,
    and imagining it would please her. I have chosen to sit in my
    father’s little dressing-room, and am now by his scrutoire,
    where, in the height of his fortune, he used to receive the
    accounts of his farmers, and deceive himself, or us, with the
    thoughts of his economy. How wise a man at once, and how weak!
    For what has he built Houghton? for his grandson to annihilate,
    or for his son to mourn over. If Lord Burleigh could rise and
    view his representative driving the Hatfield stage, he would
    feel as I feel now. Poor little Strawberry! at least, it will
    not be stripped to pieces by a descendant! You will find all
    these fine meditations dictated by pride, not by philosophy.
    Pray consider through how many mediums philosophy must pass,
    before it is purified--

        “‘---- how often must it weep, how often burn!’

    “My mind was extremely prepared for all this gloom by parting
    with Mr. Conway yesterday morning; moral reflections or
    commonplaces are the livery one likes to wear, when one has
    just had a real misfortune. He is going to Germany: I was
    glad to dress myself up in transitory Houghton, in lieu of
    very sensible concern. To-morrow I shall be distracted with
    thoughts, at least images of very different complexion. I go
    to Lynn, and am to be elected on Friday. I shall return hither
    on Saturday, again alone, to expect Burleighides on Sunday,
    whom I left at Newmarket. I must once in my life see him on his
    grandfather’s throne.

    “_Epping_, _Monday night, thirty-first_.--No, I have not seen
    him; he loitered on the road, and I was kept at Lynn till
    yesterday morning. It is plain I never knew for how many
    trades I was formed, when at this time of day I can begin
    electioneering, and succeed in my new vocation. Think of me,
    the subject of a mob, who was scarce ever before in a mob,
    addressing them in the town-hall, riding at the head of two
    thousand people through such a town as Lynn, dining with above
    two hundred of them, amid bumpers, huzzas, songs, and tobacco,
    and finishing with country dancing at a ball and sixpenny
    whist! I have borne it all cheerfully; nay, have sat hours in
    _conversation_, the thing upon earth that I hate; have been to
    hear misses play on the harpsichord, and to see an alderman’s
    copies of Rubens and Carlo Marat. Yet to do the folks justice,
    they are sensible, and reasonable, and civilised; their very
    language is polished since I lived among them. I attribute
    this to their more frequent intercourse with the world and the
    capital, by the help of good roads and postchaises, which, if
    they have abridged the King’s dominions, have at least tamed
    his subjects. Well, how comfortable it will be to-morrow, to
    see my parroquet, to play at loo, and not be obliged to talk
    seriously! The Heraclitus of the beginning of this letter will
    be overjoyed on finishing it to sign himself your old friend,

                                                       “DEMOCRITUS.

    “P.S. I forgot to tell you that my ancient aunt Hammond came
    over to Lynn to see me; not from any affection, but curiosity.
    The first thing she said to me, though we have not met these
    sixteen years, was, ‘Child, you have done a thing to-day, that
    your father never did in all his life; you sat as they carried
    you,--he always stood the whole time.’ ‘Madam,’ said I, ‘when
    I am placed in a chair, I conclude I am to sit in it; besides,
    as I cannot imitate my father in great things, I am not at
    all ambitious of mimicking him in little ones.’ I am sure she
    proposes to tell her remarks to my uncle Horace’s ghost, the
    instant they meet.”

The King’s marriage followed a few months later:

                                 “Arlington Street, Sept. 10, 1761.

    “When we least expected the Queen, she came, after being ten
    days at sea, but without sickness for above half-an-hour. She
    was gay the whole voyage, sung to her harpsichord, and left
    the door of her cabin open. They made the coast of Suffolk
    last Saturday, and on Monday morning she landed at Harwich; so
    prosperously has Lord Anson executed his commission. She lay
    that night at your old friend Lord Abercorn’s, at Witham in
    Essex; and, if she judged by her host, must have thought she
    was coming to reign in the realm of taciturnity. She arrived
    at St. James’s a quarter after three on Tuesday the 8th. When
    she first saw the Palace she turned pale: the Duchess of
    Hamilton smiled. ‘My dear Duchess,’ said the Princess, ‘_you_
    may laugh; you have been married twice; but it is no joke to
    me.’ Is this a bad proof of her sense? On the journey they
    wanted her to curl her toupet. ‘No, indeed,’ said she, ‘I
    think it looks as well as those of the ladies who have been
    sent for me: if the King would have me wear a periwig, I will;
    otherwise I shall let myself alone.’ The Duke of York gave
    her his hand at the garden-gate: her lips trembled, but she
    jumped out with spirit. In the garden the King met her; she
    would have fallen at his feet; he prevented and embraced her,
    and led her into the apartments, where she was received by the
    Princess of Wales and Lady Augusta: these three princesses only
    dined with the King. At ten the procession went to chapel,
    preceded by unmarried daughters of peers, and peeresses in
    plenty. The new Princess was led by the Duke of York and
    Prince William; the Archbishop married them; the King talked
    to her the whole time with great good humour, and the Duke
    of Cumberland gave her away. She is not tall, nor a beauty;
    pale, and very thin; but looks sensible, and is genteel. Her
    hair is darkish and fine; her forehead low, her nose very
    well, except the nostrils spreading too wide; her mouth has
    the same fault, but her teeth are good.[32] She talks a good
    deal, and French tolerably; possesses herself, is frank, but
    with great respect to the King. After the ceremony, the whole
    company came into the drawing-room for about ten minutes, but
    nobody was presented that night. The Queen was in white and
    silver; an endless mantle of violet-coloured velvet, lined
    with ermine, and attempted to be fastened on her shoulder by
    a bunch of large pearls, dragged itself and almost the rest
    of her clothes halfway down her waist. On her head was a
    beautiful little tiara of diamonds; a diamond necklace, and
    a stomacher of diamonds, worth three score thousand pounds,
    which she is to wear at the Coronation too. Her train was
    borne by the ten bridesmaids, Lady Sarah Lenox, Lady Caroline
    Russell, Lady Caroline Montagu, Lady Harriot Bentinck, Lady
    Anne Hamilton, Lady Essex Kerr (daughters of Dukes of Richmond,
    Bedford, Manchester, Portland, Hamilton, and Roxburgh); and
    four daughters of the Earls of Albemarle, Brook, Harcourt, and
    Ilchester,--Lady Elizabeth Keppel, Louisa Greville, Elizabeth
    Harcourt, and Susan Fox Strangways: their heads crowned with
    diamonds, and in robes of white and silver. Lady Caroline
    Russell is extremely handsome; Lady Elizabeth Keppel very
    pretty; but with neither features nor air, nothing ever looked
    so charming as Lady Sarah Lenox; she has all the glow of beauty
    peculiar to her family. As supper was not ready, the Queen
    sat down, sung, and played on the harpsichord to the Royal
    Family, who all supped with her in private. They talked of the
    different German dialects; the King asked if the Hanoverian was
    not pure--‘Oh, no, sir,’ said the Queen; ‘it is the worst of
    all.’--She will not be unpopular.

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

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

                         “Yours to serve you,

                                           “HORACE SANDFORD,
                                       “Mecklenburgh King-at-Arms.”

The Coronation of the King and Queen took place on the 22nd of
September, 1761, a fortnight after their marriage. Walpole writes to
Mann:

                                  “Strawberry Hill, Sept. 28, 1761.

    “What is the finest sight in the world? A Coronation. What do
    people talk most about? A Coronation. Indeed, one had need
    be a handsome young peeress not to be fatigued to death with
    it. After being exhausted with hearing of nothing else for
    six weeks, and having every cranny of my ideas stuffed with
    velvet and ermine, and tresses, and jewels, I thought I was
    very cunning in going to lie in Palace-yard, that I might not
    sit up all night in order to seize a place. The consequence of
    this wise scheme was, that I did not get a wink of sleep all
    night; hammering of scaffolds, shouting of people, relieving
    guards, and jangling of bells, was the concert I heard from
    twelve to six, when I rose; and it was noon before the
    procession was ready to set forth, and night before it returned
    from the Abbey. I then saw the Hall, the dinner, and the
    champion, a gloriously illuminated chamber, a wretched banquet,
    and a foolish puppet-show. A Trial of a peer, though by no
    means so sumptuous, is a preferable sight, for the latter is
    interesting. At a Coronation one sees the peerage as exalted as
    they like to be, and at a Trial as much humbled as a plebeian
    wishes them. I tell you nothing of who looked well; you know
    them no more than if I told you of the next Coronation. Yes,
    two ancient dames whom you remember, were still ornaments of
    the show,--the Duchess of Queensberry and Lady Westmoreland.
    Some of the peeresses were so fond of their robes, that they
    graciously exhibited themselves for a whole day before to all
    the company their servants could invite to see them. A maid
    from Richmond begged leave to stay in town because the Duchess
    of Montrose was only to be seen from two to four. The Heralds
    were so ignorant of their business, that, though pensioned for
    nothing but to register lords and ladies, and what belongs to
    them, they advertised in the newspaper for the Christian names
    and places of abode of the peeresses. The King complained of
    such omissions and of the want of precedent; Lord Effingham,
    the Earl Marshal, told him, it was true there had been great
    neglect in that office, but he had now taken such care of
    registering directions, that _next coronation_ would be
    conducted with the greatest order imaginable. The King was so
    diverted with this _flattering_ speech that he made the earl
    repeat it several times.

    “On this occasion one saw to how high-water-mark extravagance
    is risen in England. At the Coronation of George II. my mother
    gave forty guineas for a dining-room, scaffold, and bedchamber.
    An exactly parallel apartment, only with rather a worse view,
    was this time set at three hundred and fifty guineas--a
    tolerable rise in thirty-three years! The platform from St.
    Margaret’s Round-house to the church-door, which formerly let
    for forty pounds, went this time for two thousand four hundred
    pounds. Still more was given for the inside of the Abbey. The
    prebends would like a Coronation every year. The King paid nine
    thousand pounds for the hire of jewels; indeed, last time, it
    cost my father fourteen hundred to bejewel my Lady Orford. A
    single shop now sold six hundred pounds’ sterling worth of
    nails--but nails are risen--so is everything, and everything
    adulterated. If we conquer Spain, as we have done France, I
    expect to be poisoned.”

An observation as awkward as that of Lord Effingham had been made by
the beautiful Lady Coventry to George II. “She was tired of sights,”
she said; “there was only one left that she wanted to see, and that
was a coronation.” The old man, says Walpole, told the story himself
at supper to his family with great good humour. As it happened, he
outlived Lady Coventry by a few days.



CHAPTER IV.

    General Taste for Pleasure.--Entertainments at Twickenham
    and Esher.--Miss Chudleigh’s Ball.--Masquerade at Richmond
    House.--The Gallery at Strawberry Hill.--Balls.--The Duchess
    of Queensberry.--Petition of the Periwig-makers.--Ladies’
    Head-gear.--Almack’s.--The Castle of Otranto.--Plans for a
    Bower.--A Late Dinner.--Walpole’s Idle Life.--Social usages.


For some years after the arrival of the Queen, the enlivening influence
of a new reign is clearly traceable in Walpole’s letters. The Court,
indeed, did not willingly contribute much to the national gaiety. Its
plainness and economy soon incurred reproach;[33] while there were
intervals in which the first uncertain signs of mental derangement
caused the young King to be withdrawn from public observation. Still
there were christenings and birthdays, with now and then a wedding,
to be celebrated in the royal family; and the State festivities,
unavoidable on these occasions, were eagerly emulated by the
nobility. The Peace of Paris, too, was not only welcomed with popular
rejoicings, but produced a general stir in society by the renewed
intercourse which it brought about between France and England. “The
two nations,” writes Horace, “are crossing over and figuring-in.” A
trifle restrained by the example of the Court and the presence of
foreign visitors, the appetite for pleasure became universal among the
English higher classes. Lord Bute and the Princess of Wales, Wilkes and
the _North Briton_, the debates on privilege and on general warrants,
divided the attention of Walpole’s world with the last entertainment at
the Duke of Richmond’s or Northumberland House, with Miss Chudleigh’s
last ball, with the riots at Drury Lane Theatre, with the _fêtes_
in honour of the marriage of the Princess Augusta and the Prince of
Brunswick, or, somewhat later, of the ill-starred union between the
Princess Caroline and the King of Denmark. We hear no more of frolics
at Vauxhall, but we find galas, masquerades, ridottos, festinos,
displays of fireworks following each other in rapid succession through
our author’s pages; sometimes several such scenes are described in the
same letter. There is, of course, much sameness in these descriptions,
but some passages serve to illustrate the tastes of the age. We will
make three or four brief extracts. Our first choice is an account
of two entertainments given to French guests of rank, one by Horace
himself at Strawberry Hill, the other by Miss Pelham at the country
seat celebrated by Pope and Thomson. The whole story is contained in a
letter to George Montagu, written in May, 1763:

    “‘On vient de nous donner une très jolie fête au château de
    Straberri: tout étoit tapissé de narcisses, de tulipes, et
    de lilacs; des cors de chasse, des clarionettes; des petits
    vers galants faits par des fées, et qui se trouvoient sous la
    presse; des fruits à la glace, du thé, du caffé, des biscuits,
    et force hot-rolls.’[34]--This is not the beginning of a letter
    to you, but of one that I might suppose sets out to-night for
    Paris, or rather, which I do not suppose will set out thither;
    for though the narrative is circumstantially true, I don’t
    believe the actors were pleased enough with the scene, to give
    so favourable an account of it.

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

    “The Press speaks--

                       “FOR MADAME DE BOUFFLERS.

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

                          “FOR MADAME DUSSON.

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

    “You will comprehend that the first speaks English, and that
    the second does not; that the second is handsome, and the first
    not; and that the second was born in Holland. This little
    gentilesse pleased, and atoned for the popery[35] of my house,
    which was not serious enough for Madame de Boufflers, who is
    Montmorency, _et du sang du premier Chrétien_; and too serious
    for Madame Dusson, who is a Dutch Calvinist.… The Gallery is
    not advanced enough to give them any idea at all, as they are
    not apt to go out of their way for one; but the Cabinet, and
    the glory of yellow glass at top, which had a charming sun for
    a foil, did surmount their indifference, especially as they
    were animated by the Duchess of Grafton, who had never happened
    to be here before, and who perfectly entered into the air of
    enchantment and fairyism, which is the tone of the place, and
    was peculiarly so to-day.

                                                         “Thursday.

    “I am ashamed of myself to have nothing but a journal of
    pleasures to send you; I never passed a more agreeable day
    than yesterday. Miss Pelham gave the French an entertainment
    at Esher; but they have been so feasted and amused, that none
    of them were well enough, or reposed enough, to come, but
    Nivernois and Madame Dusson. The rest of the company were,
    the Graftons, Lady Rockingham, Lord and Lady Pembroke.… The
    day was delightful, the scene transporting; the trees, lawns,
    concaves, all in the perfection in which the ghost of Kent[36]
    would joy to see them. At twelve we made the tour of the farm
    in eight chaises and calashes, horsemen, and footmen, setting
    out like a picture of Wouverman’s. My lot fell in the lap of
    Mrs. Anne Pitt,[37] which I could have excused, as she was
    not at all in the style of the day, romantic, but political.
    We had a magnificent dinner, cloaked in the modesty of
    earthenware; French horns and hautboys on the lawn. We walked
    to the Belvidere on the summit of the hill, where a theatrical
    storm only served to heighten the beauty of the landscape, a
    rainbow on a dark cloud falling precisely behind the tower of
    a neighbouring church, between another tower and the building
    at Claremont. Monsieur de Nivernois, who had been absorbed all
    day, and lagging behind, translating my verses, was delivered
    of his version, and of some more lines which he wrote on Miss
    Pelham in the Belvidere, while we drank tea and coffee. From
    thence we passed into the wood, and the ladies formed a circle
    on chairs before the mouth of the cave, which was overhung
    to a vast height with woodbines, lilacs, and laburnums, and
    dignified by the tall shapely cypresses. On the descent of the
    hill were placed the French horns; the abigails, servants,
    and neighbours wandering below by the river; in short, it was
    Parnassus, as Watteau would have painted it. Here we had a
    rural syllabub, and part of the company returned to town; but
    were replaced by Giardini and Onofrio, who with Nivernois on
    the violin, and Lord Pembroke on the base, accompanied Miss
    Pelham, Lady Rockingham, and the Duchess of Grafton, who sang.
    This little concert lasted till past ten; then there were
    minuets, and as we had several couples left, it concluded with
    a country dance. I blush again, for I danced, but was kept
    in countenance by Nivernois, who has one wrinkle more than I
    have. A quarter after twelve they sat down to supper, and I
    came home by a charming moonlight. I am going to dine in town,
    and to a great ball with fireworks at Miss Chudleigh’s, but
    I return hither on Sunday, to bid adieu to this abominable
    Arcadian life; for really when one is not young, one ought to
    do nothing but _s’ennuyer_; I will try, but I always go about
    it awkwardly.”

Two days later this indefatigable chronicler of trifles describes
to Conway the _fête_ given by Miss Chudleigh, afterwards known as
the Duchess of Kingston, but at that time a maid of honour to the
Princess-Dowager of Wales:

    “Oh, that you had been at her ball t’other night! History
    could never describe it and keep its countenance. The Queen’s
    real birthday, you know, is not kept: this Maid of Honour kept
    it--nay, while the Court is in mourning, expected people to
    be out of mourning; the Queen’s family really was so, Lady
    Northumberland having desired leave for them. A scaffold was
    erected in Hyde-park for fireworks. To show the illuminations
    without to more advantage, the company were received in an
    apartment totally dark, where they remained for two hours.…
    The fireworks were fine, and succeeded well. On each side
    of the court were two large scaffolds for the Virgin’s[38]
    tradespeople. When the fireworks ceased, a large scene was
    lighted in the court, representing their Majesties; on each
    side of which were six obelisks, painted with emblems, and
    illuminated; mottoes beneath in Latin and English.… The lady
    of the house made many apologies for the poorness of the
    performance, which she said was only oil-paper, painted by
    one of her servants; but it really was fine and pretty. Behind
    the house was a cenotaph for the Princess Elizabeth, a kind
    of illuminated cradle; the motto, _All the honours the dead
    can receive_. This burying-ground was a strange codicil to a
    festival; and, what was more strange, about one in the morning,
    this sarcophagus burst out into crackers and guns. The Margrave
    of Anspach began the ball with the Virgin. The supper was most
    sumptuous.”

A fortnight afterwards he writes:

                                                         “June 7th.

    “Last night we had a magnificent entertainment at Richmond
    House, a masquerade and fireworks. A masquerade was a new sight
    to the young people, who had dressed themselves charmingly,
    without having the fear of an earthquake before their eyes,
    though Prince William and Prince Henry[39] were not suffered
    to be there. The Duchesses of Richmond and Grafton, the first
    as a Persian Sultana, the latter as Cleopatra,--and such a
    Cleopatra! were glorious figures, in very different styles.
    Mrs. Fitzroy in a Turkish dress, Lady George Lenox and Lady
    Bolingbroke as Grecian girls, Lady Mary Coke as Imoinda, and
    Lady Pembroke as a pilgrim, were the principal beauties of the
    night. The whole garden was illuminated, and the apartments.
    An encampment of barges decked with streamers in the middle of
    the Thames, kept the people from danger, and formed a stage
    for the fireworks, which were placed, too, along the rails of
    the garden. The ground rooms lighted, with suppers spread,
    the houses, covered and filled with people, the bridge, the
    garden full of masks, Whitehall crowded with spectators to see
    the dresses pass, and the multitude of heads on the river who
    came to light by the splendour of the fire-wheels, composed
    the gayest and richest scene imaginable, not to mention the
    diamonds and sumptuousness of the habits. The Dukes of York and
    Cumberland, and the Margrave of Anspach, were there, and about
    six hundred masks.”

In the intervals of these engagements, he is busy at Strawberry Hill.
Thus, in arranging a short visit to George Montagu, he says (July 1):

    “The journey you must accept as a great sacrifice either to you
    or to my promise, for I quit the Gallery almost in the critical
    minute of consummation. Gilders, carvers, upholsterers, and
    picture-cleaners are labouring at their several forges, and
    I do not love to trust a hammer or a brush without my own
    supervisal. This will make my stay very short, but it is a
    greater compliment than a month would be at another season; and
    yet I am not profuse of months. Well, but I begin to be ashamed
    of my magnificence; Strawberry is growing sumptuous in its
    latter day; it will scarce be any longer like the fruit of its
    name, or the modesty of its ancient demeanour, both which seem
    to have been in Spenser’s prophetic eye, when he sung of

                          “‘---- the blushing strawberries
        Which lurk, close-shrouded from high-looking eyes,
        Showing that sweetness low and hidden lies.’

    “In truth, my collection was too great already to be lodged
    humbly; it has extended my walls, and pomp followed. It
    was a neat, small house; it now will be a comfortable one,
    and, except one fine apartment, does not deviate from its
    simplicity. Adieu! I know nothing about the world, and am only
    Strawberry’s and yours sincerely.”

Our next extract shows that, however fond of frequenting large parties,
the writer had little inclination to give them, at any rate, in his
toy-house:

    “We had, last Monday, the prettiest ball that ever was seen,
    at Mrs. Anne Pitt’s, in the compass of a silver penny. There
    were one hundred and four persons, of which number fifty-five
    supped. The supper-room was disposed with tables and benches
    back to back, in the manner of an ale-house. The idea
    sounds ill; but the fairies had so improved upon it, had so
    _be-garlanded_, so _sweetmeated_, and so _desserted_ it, that
    it looked like a vision. I told her she could only have fed
    and stowed so much company by a miracle, and that, when we
    were gone, she would take up twelve baskets-full of people.
    The Duchess of Bedford asked me before Madame de Guerchy,
    if I would not give them a ball at Strawberry? Not for the
    universe! What! turn a ball, and dust, and dirt, and a million
    of candles, into my charming new gallery! I said, I could
    not flatter myself that people would give themselves the
    trouble of going eleven miles for a _ball_--(though I believe
    they would go fifty).--‘Well, then,’ says she, ‘it shall be a
    _dinner_.’--‘With all my heart, I have no objection; but no
    ball shall set its foot within my doors.’”--_Walpole to Lord
    Hertford, Feb. 24, 1764._

The promised dinner was duly given. “Strawberry,” we read soon
afterwards, “has been more sumptuous to-day than ordinary, and
banquetted their representative Majesties of France and Spain.… They
really seemed quite pleased with the place and the day; but I must tell
you, the treasury of the abbey will feel it, for, without magnificence,
all was handsomely done.” Mrs. Anne Pitt, the giver of the ball, was
present at the banquet. In describing to a foreigner this lady’s strong
likeness to her famous brother, Walpole once said happily, “Qu’ils
se ressemblaient comme deux gouttes de _feu_.” Another eccentric
entertainer of the day was the Duchess of Queensberry, “very clever,
very whimsical, and just not mad.” Of her we are told:

    “Last Thursday, the Duchess of Queensberry gave a ball, opened
    it herself with a minuet, and danced two country dances: as she
    had enjoined everybody to be with her by six, to sup at twelve,
    and go away directly.… The only extraordinary thing the Duchess
    did, was to do nothing extraordinary, for I do not call it very
    mad that some pique happening between her and the Duchess of
    Bedford, the latter had this distich sent to her,

        “‘Come with a whistle, and come with a call,
        Come with a good will, or come not at all.’

    “I do not know whether what I am going to tell you did not
    border a little upon Moorfields.[40] The gallery where they
    danced was very cold. Lord Lorn, George Selwyn, and I, retired
    into a little room, and sat comfortably by the fire. The
    Duchess looked in, said nothing, and sent a smith to take
    the hinges of the door off. We understood the hint, and left
    the room, and so did the smith the door. This was pretty
    legible.”--_Walpole to Lord Hertford, March 11, 1764._

A little later on we have more gossip about the humours of the day and
of Lady Queensberry. Writing to the same correspondent, under date of
February 12, 1765, Horace says:

    “If it was not too long to transcribe, I would send you an
    entertaining petition[41] 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. The
    same day the Guerchys made a dinner for her, and invited Lord
    and Lady Hyde, the Forbes’s, and her other particular friends:
    in the morning she sent word she was to go out of town, but as
    soon as dinner was over, arrived at Madame de Guerchy’s, and
    said she had been at Court.”

On February 14th, he adds in the same letter:

    “The new Assembly Room at Almack’s 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 advertised 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 levee 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.’”

The reader will be inclined to wonder how, with so many distractions,
Walpole found time for all this letter-writing, and still more how he
managed to come before the public as an author. His, however, was the
pen of an extremely ready writer, and, when not otherwise engaged, he
plied it with unwearied diligence. This appears in the following letter
to Cole, the Cambridge antiquary, in which Horace gives an account of
the origin and composition of his well-known romance. The letter shows
also the writer’s love of collecting and designing curiosities:

                                   “Strawberry Hill, March 9, 1765.

    “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 bannister 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 as
    idle as you please.…

    “When you go into Cheshire, and upon your ramble, may I trouble
    you with a commission? but about which you must promise me not
    to go a step out of your way. Mr. Bateman has got a cloister
    at Old Windsor, furnished with ancient wooden chairs, most of
    them triangular, but all of various patterns, and carved and
    turned in the most uncouth and whimsical forms. He picked them
    up one by one, for two, three, five, or six shillings a-piece
    from different farm-houses in Herefordshire. I have long
    envied and coveted them. There may be such in poor cottages,
    in so neighbouring a county as Cheshire. I should not grudge
    any expense for purchase or carriage; and should be glad even
    of a couple such for my cloister here. When you are copying
    inscriptions in a churchyard in any village, think of me, and
    step into the first cottage you see--but don’t take further
    trouble than that.…

    “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.”

A large part of Walpole’s correspondence was despatched at night after
his return from the theatre or a reception. His habits were late. He
was a late riser, and he often played cards till two or three o’clock
in the morning. Whist he disliked, but gave himself to faro, while
that game was in vogue, and afterwards to loo, with all the fervour
of a devotee. But when not thus occupied, the hours observed by
the fashionable world allowed him to retire early to his desk. How
different those hours were then from what they now are, may be gathered
from Walpole’s amusing sketch of a retarded dinner, at which he was a
sufferer, in 1765:

    “Now for my disaster; you will laugh at it, though it was woful
    to me. I was to dine at Northumberland-house, and went a little
    after hour: there I found the Countess, Lady Betty Mackenzie,
    Lady Strafford; my Lady Finlater, who was never out of Scotland
    before; a tall lad of fifteen, her son; Lord Drogheda, and Mr.
    Worseley. At five, arrived Mr. Mitchell, who said the Lords
    had begun to read the Poor-bill, which would take at least two
    hours, and perhaps would debate it afterwards. We concluded
    dinner would be called for, it not being very precedented for
    ladies to wait for gentlemen:--no such thing. Six o’clock
    came,--seven o’clock came,--our coaches came,--well! we
    sent them away, and excuses were we were engaged. Still the
    Countess’s heart did not relent, nor uttered a syllable of
    apology. We wore out the wind and the weather, the Opera and
    the Play, Mrs. Cornelys’s and Almack’s, and every topic that
    would do in a formal circle. We hinted, represented--in vain.
    The clock struck eight: my Lady, at last, said, she would
    go and order dinner; but it was a good half-hour before it
    appeared. We then sat down to a table for fourteen covers: but
    instead of substantials, there was nothing but a profusion
    of plates striped red, green, and yellow, gilt plate, blacks
    and uniforms! My Lady Finlater, who had never seen these
    embroidered dinners, nor dined after three, was famished. The
    first course stayed as long as possible, in hopes of the Lords:
    so did the second. The dessert at last arrived, and the middle
    dish was actually set on when Lord Finlater and Mr. Mackay
    arrived!--would you believe it?--the dessert was remanded, and
    the whole first course brought back again!--Stay, I have not
    done:--just as this second first course had done its duty, Lord
    Northumberland, Lord Strafford, and Mackenzie came in, and
    the whole began a third time! Then the second course and the
    dessert! I thought we should have dropped from our chairs with
    fatigue and fumes! When the clock struck eleven, we were asked
    to return to the drawing-room, and drink tea and coffee, but I
    said I was engaged to supper, and came home to bed.”

A few weeks later he laments his idle life in a letter to Lady Hervey:

    “It is scandalous, at my age, to have been carried backwards
    and forwards to balls and suppers and parties by very young
    people, as I was all last week. My resolutions of growing
    old and staid are admirable: I wake with a sober plan, and
    intend to pass the day with my friends--then comes the Duke
    of Richmond, and hurries me down to Whitehall to dinner--then
    the Duchess of Grafton sends for me to loo in Upper Grosvenor
    Street--before I can get thither, I am begged to step to
    Kensington, to give Mrs. Anne Pitt my opinion about a
    bow-window--after the loo, I am to march back to Whitehall
    to supper--and after that, am to walk with Miss Pelham on
    the terrace till two in the morning, because it is moonlight
    and her chair is not come. All this does not help my morning
    laziness; and, by the time I have breakfasted, fed my birds and
    my squirrels, and dressed, there is an auction ready. In short,
    Madam, this was my life last week, and is I think every week,
    with the addition of forty episodes.”

Of course, this confession was not intended to be read quite seriously.
It is to be taken with two grains of allowance, one for humour, the
other for affectation. It was the writer’s pleasure to overact the part
of an idle fine gentleman. But we may fairly conclude from the last
two extracts that five o’clock was the dinner-hour of extreme fashion
at this time. It would seem that the customary hour was three even
with people of rank, and that in the greatest houses it was usual to
serve supper. When Horace could escape from the loo-table in Upper
Grosvenor Street, had no engagement to supper, and was not forced to
pace Whitehall Terrace with a belated spinster till two in the morning,
he was able to be at home and in bed--or at work with his books or his
pen--by eleven o’clock.



CHAPTER V.

    The Gout.--Visits to Paris.--Bath.--John Wesley.--Bad
    Weather.--English Summers.--Quitting Parliament.--Madame
    du Deffand.--Human Vanity.--The Banks of the Thames.--A
    Subscription Masquerade.--Extravagance of the Age.--The
    Pantheon.--Visiting Stowe with Princess Amelia.--George
    Montagu.--The Countess of Ossory.--Powder-Mills Blown up at
    Hounslow.--Distractions of Business and Pleasure.


Walpole’s acquaintance with the gout began before he had reached
his fortieth year. Its earliest approaches he received without much
discomposure. His chief reason, he said, for objecting to “this
alderman distemper” was that he could show no title to it. “If either
my father or mother had had it, I should not dislike it so much. I am
herald enough to approve it if descended genealogically; but it is an
absolute upstart in me, and what is more provoking, I had trusted to
my great abstinence for keeping me from it: but thus it is, if I had
any gentleman-like virtue, as patriotism or loyalty, I might have got
something by them; I had nothing but that beggarly virtue temperance,
and she had not interest enough to keep me from a fit of the gout.”
By degrees, however, the attacks of his enemy became too severe to
be dismissed with pleasantries like these. In the summer of 1765,
he was prostrated by a seizure which held him prisoner for several
weeks. On recovering about the middle of September, he undertook
a journey to Paris, partly to recruit his strength, and partly in
execution of a long-formed design. He remained in the French capital
till the following spring, mixing much in the society of the place,
and doing ample justice to the wit and grace of Frenchwomen, but
shrinking from and detesting the French philosophers.[42] During this
period was formed his friendship with Madame du Deffand, his “dear
old blind woman,” as he often calls her, with whom, after his return
to England, he maintained a weekly correspondence for the rest of her
life. Altogether, he derived so much pleasure from his visit, that he
repeated it every alternate summer down to that of 1771; and we find
him in Paris again in 1775.

He had another illness in the middle of 1766, for which he tried the
Bath waters; but Bath proved not at all to his taste, though he met the
great Lord Chatham there, and many other persons of distinction. “These
watering-places,” he says, “that mimic a capital, and add vulgarisms
and familiarities of their own, seem to me like abigails in cast gowns,
and I am not young enough to take up with either.” Finding himself
dull at Bath, he attended a Wesleyan service, of which he gives a
somewhat flippant description:

    “My health advances faster than my amusement. However, I have
    been at 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,[43] 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.”

Walpole was in a peevish humour about this time. He was out of
health, and dispirited besides by an apprehension that the climate
of Twickenham did not suit him. Thus he writes from Strawberry Hill:
“What afflicts me most is, that I am persuaded that this place is too
damp for me. I revive after being in London an hour, like a member of
Parliament’s wife. It will be a cruel fate, after having laid out so
much money here, and building upon it as the nest of my old age, if I
am driven from it by bad health.” Unfavourable weather seems to have
been in some measure the cause of these fears, and of the writer’s
disordered condition. Though the harvest-time of 1766 was fine, the
crops, we are told, had been spoilt by previous rains, and the years
which followed were a cycle of wet and cold seasons. Walpole grumbles
at the weather with English vigour and French vivacity. Thus he writes
to Montagu, in June, 1768:

    “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 realize these visions. Master
    Damon writes a song, and invites Miss Chloe to enjoy the cool
    of the evening, and never 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.”

The concluding lines of the above extract refer to the writer’s recent
retirement from the House of Commons. In the spring of the preceding
year, Walpole had announced that he should not again ask the suffrages
of the Lynn burgesses, stating as his reasons the declining state of
his health and his wish to withdraw from all public business; and
though his health had improved in the interval, the General Election
of 1768 found him fixed in his decision. Whatever may have been the
real motives of his conduct, there is no indication in his Letters that
he ever regretted the course he had taken. In June, 1769, he writes
from Strawberry Hill: “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.” But the season was
again rainy. A few days later, we have a letter to Cole, who was then
settled at Waterbeach, near Cambridge:

                           “Strawberry Hill, Monday, June 26, 1769.

    “Oh! yes, yes, I shall like Thursday or Friday, 6th or 7th,
    exceedingly; I shall like your staying with me two days
    exceedinglier; and longer exceedingliest: and I will carry you
    back to Cambridge on our pilgrimage to Ely. But I should not at
    all like to be catched in the glories of an installation,[44]
    and find myself a doctor, before I knew where I was. It will be
    much more agreeable to find the whole _caput_ asleep, digesting
    turtle, dreaming of bishoprics, and humming old catches of
    Anacreon, and scraps of Corelli. I wish Mr. Gray may not be
    set out for the north; which is rather the case than setting
    out for the summer. We have no summers, I think, but what
    we raise, like pine-apples, by fire. My hay is an absolute
    _water-souchy_, and teaches me how to feel for you. You are
    quite in the right to sell your fief in Marshland. I should be
    glad if you would take one step more, and quit Marshland. We
    live, at least, on terra firma in this part of the world, and
    can saunter out without stilts. _Item_, we do not wade into
    pools, and call it going upon the water, and get sore throats.
    I trust yours is better; but I recollect this is not the first
    you have complained of. Pray be not incorrigible, but come to
    shore.”

At the end of August he is in Paris with Madame du Deffand. “My dear
old woman,” he writes, “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.’” In a letter written to George Montagu a week afterwards, we have
a description of this true Frenchwoman:

    “Your two letters flew here together in a breath. I shall
    answer the article of business first. I could certainly buy
    many things for you here, that you would like, the reliques
    of the last age’s magnificence; but since my Lady Holdernesse
    invaded the Custom-House with an hundred and fourteen gowns,
    in the reign of that two-penny monarch George Grenville, the
    ports are so guarded, that not a soul but a smuggler can
    smuggle anything into England; and I suppose you would not care
    to pay seventy-five per cent. on second-hand commodities. All
    I transported three years ago, was conveyed under the canon
    of the Duke of Richmond. I have no interest in our present
    representative; nor if I had, is he returning. Plate, of all
    earthly vanities, is the most impassable: it is not counterband
    in its metallic capacity, but totally so in its personal;
    and the officers of the Custom-House not being philosophers
    enough to separate the substance from the superficies, brutally
    hammer both to pieces, and return you--only the intrinsic; a
    compensation which you, who are no member of Parliament, would
    not, I trow, be satisfied with. Thus I doubt you must retrench
    your generosity to yourself, unless you can contract it into
    an Elzevir size, and be content with anything one can bring in
    one’s pocket.

    “My dear old friend was charmed with your mention of her,
    and made me vow to return you a thousand compliments. She
    cannot conceive why you will not step hither. Feeling in
    herself no difference between the spirits of twenty-three and
    seventy-three, she thinks there is no impediment to doing
    whatever one will, but the want of eyesight. If she had that,
    I am persuaded no consideration would prevent her making me
    a visit at Strawberry Hill. She makes songs, sings them, and
    remembers all that ever were made; and, having lived from the
    most agreeable to the most reasoning age, has all that was
    amiable in the last, all that is sensible in this, without the
    vanity of the former, or the pedant impertinence of the latter.
    I have heard her dispute with all sorts of people, on all sorts
    of subjects, and never knew her in the wrong. She humbles the
    learned, sets right their disciples, and finds conversation
    for everybody. Affectionate as Madame de Sévigné, she has none
    of her prejudices, but a more universal taste; and, with the
    most delicate frame, her spirits hurry her through a life of
    fatigue that would kill me, if I was to continue here. If we
    return by one in the morning from suppers in the country, she
    proposes driving to the Boulevard or to the Foire St. Ovide,
    because it is too early to go to bed. I had great difficulty
    last night to persuade her, though she was not well, not to
    sit up till between two and three for the comet; for which
    purpose she had appointed an astronomer to bring his telescopes
    to the president Henault’s, as she thought it would amuse
    me. In short, her goodness to me is so excessive, that I
    feel unashamed at producing my withered person in a round of
    diversions, which I have quitted at home. I tell a story; I do
    feel ashamed, and sigh to be in my quiet castle and cottage;
    but it costs me many a pang, when I reflect that I shall
    probably never have resolution enough to take another journey
    to see this best and sincerest of friends, who loves me as much
    as my mother did! but it is idle to look forward--what is next
    year?--a bubble that may burst for her or me, before even the
    flying year can hurry to the end of its almanack!…

    “Adieu, my t’other dear old friend! I am sorry to say, I see
    you almost as seldom as I do Madame du Deffand. However, it is
    comfortable to reflect that we have not changed to each other
    for some five-and-thirty years, and neither you nor I haggle
    about naming so ancient a term. I made a visit yesterday to
    the Abbess of Panthemont, General Oglethorpe’s niece, and no
    chicken. I inquired after her mother, Madame de Mezieres, and
    thought I might to a spiritual votary to immortality venture
    to say, that her mother must be very old; she interrupted me
    tartly, and said, no, her mother had been married extremely
    young. Do but think of its seeming important to a saint to
    sink a wrinkle of her own through an iron grate! Oh! we are
    ridiculous animals; and if angels have any fun in them; how we
    must divert them.”

Once more in England, he announces his return to the same friend:

                                   “Strawberry Hill, Oct. 16, 1769.

    “I arrived at my own Louvre last Wednesday night, and am now at
    my Versailles. Your last letter reached me but two days before
    I left Paris, for I have been an age at Calais and upon the
    sea. I could execute no commission for you, and, in truth, you
    gave me no explicit one; but I have brought you a bit of china,
    and beg you will be content with a little present, instead of a
    bargain. Said china is, or will be soon, in the Custom-House;
    but I shall have it, I fear, long before you come to London.…

    “I feel myself here like a swan, that, after living six weeks
    in a nasty pool upon a common, is got back into its own Thames.
    I do nothing but plume and clean myself, and enjoy the verdure
    and silent waves. Neatness and greenth are so essential in my
    opinion to the country, that in France, where I see nothing but
    chalk and dirty peasants, I seem in a terrestrial purgatory
    that is neither town nor country. The face of England is so
    beautiful, that I do not believe Tempe or Arcadia were half
    so rural; for both lying in hot climates, must have wanted
    the turf of our lawns. It is unfortunate to have so pastoral
    a taste, when I want a cane more than a crook. We are absurd
    creatures; at twenty, I loved nothing but London.”

The winter of 1769-70 Walpole spent as usual in London. He now
moralizes on masquerades in the tone of an ancient:

    “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 Æsop 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, 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[45] has been
    lulled to sleep 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,[46] 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, in
    grey and pearls, with a black veil. Methinks it was not very
    difficult to find out the meaning of those masks.

    “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[47] and Cholmondeleys,[48] 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, ‘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.”

Again, he descants on the extravagance of the age:

    “What do you think of a winter-Ranelagh[49] 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[50] 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,[51] 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 _or
    moulu_, never made here before, which succeeds so well, that a
    teakettle, 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 also.”

Our ancestors seem to have been much impressed with the splendour of
the London Pantheon. Walpole recurs to the subject: “If we laugh at
the French, they stare at us. Our enormous luxury and expense astonish
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.
Monsieur de Guisnes said to me, ‘Ce n’est qu’à Londres qu’on peut faire
tout cela.’” What a sermon would our moralist have preached, could he
have foreseen that, in the reign of George III’s grand-daughter, this
English Balbec would become a repository for cheap wines!

In July, 1770, Walpole received a command to attend the Princess Amelia
on a visit to Stowe. He describes what occurred to George Montagu:

    “The party passed off much better than I expected. A Princess
    at the head of a very small set for five days together did not
    promise well. However, she was very good-humoured and easy,
    and dispensed with a large quantity of etiquette. Lady Temple
    is good-nature itself, my Lord was very civil, Lord Besborough
    is made to suit all sorts of people, Lady Mary Coke respects
    royalty too much not to be very condescending, Lady Anne
    Howard[52] and Mrs. Middleton filled up the drawing-room, or
    rather made it out, and I was so determined to carry it off as
    well as I could, and happened to be in such good spirits, and
    took such care to avoid politics, that we laughed a great deal,
    and had not a cloud the whole time.

    “We breakfasted at half an hour after nine; but the Princess
    did not appear till it was finished; then we walked in the
    garden, or drove about it in cabriolets, till it was time to
    dress; dined at three, which, though properly proportioned to
    the smallness of company to avoid ostentation, lasted a vast
    while, as the Princess eats and talks a great deal; then again
    into the garden till past seven, when we came in, drank tea
    and coffee, and played at pharaoh till ten, when the Princess
    retired, and we went to supper, and before twelve to bed. You
    see there was great sameness and little vivacity in all this.
    It was a little broken by fishing, and going round the park one
    of the mornings; but, in reality, the number of buildings and
    variety of scenes in the garden, made each day different from
    the rest, and my meditations on so historic a spot prevented
    my being tired. Every acre brings to one’s mind some instance
    of the parts or pedantry, of the taste or want of taste, of
    the ambition or love of fame, or greatness or miscarriages,
    of those that have inhabited, decorated, planned, or visited
    the place. Pope, Congreve, Vanbrugh, Kent, Gibbs, Lord Cobham,
    Lord Chesterfield, the mob of nephews, the Lytteltons,
    Grenvilles, Wests, Leonidas Glover, and Wilkes, the late Prince
    of Wales, the King of Denmark, Princess Amelia, and the proud
    monuments of Lord Chatham’s services, now enshrined there, then
    anathematised there, and now again commanding there, with the
    Temple of Friendship,[53] like the Temple of Janus, sometimes
    open to war, and sometimes shut up in factious cabals--all
    these images crowd upon one’s memory, and add visionary
    personages to the charming scenes, that are so enriched with
    fanes and temples, that the real prospects are little less than
    visions themselves.

    “On Wednesday night, a small Vauxhall was acted for us at
    the grotto in the Elysian fields, which was illuminated with
    lamps, as were the thicket and two little barks on the lake.
    With a little exaggeration, I could make you believe that
    nothing ever was so delightful. The idea was really pretty;
    but, as my feelings have lost something of their romantic
    sensibility, I did not quite enjoy such an entertainment _al
    fresco_ so much as I should have done twenty years ago. The
    evening was more than cool, and the destined spot anything but
    dry. There were not half lamps enough, and no music but an
    ancient militia-man, who played cruelly on a squeaking tabor
    and pipe. As our procession descended the vast flight of steps
    into the garden, in which was assembled a crowd of people from
    Buckingham and the neighbouring villages to see the Princess
    and the show, the moon shining very bright, I could not help
    laughing as I surveyed our troop, which, instead of tripping
    lightly to such an Arcadian entertainment, were hobbling down
    by the balustrades, wrapped up in cloaks and great-coats, for
    fear of catching cold. The Earl, you know, is bent double, the
    Countess very lame; I am a miserable walker, and the Princess,
    though as strong as a Brunswick lion, makes no figure in going
    down fifty stone stairs. Except Lady Anne, and by courtesy Lady
    Mary, we were none of us young enough for a pastoral. We supped
    in the grotto, which is as proper to this climate as a sea-coal
    fire would be in the dog-days at Tivoli.

    “But the chief entertainment of the week, at least what was so
    to the Princess, is an arch, which Lord Temple has erected to
    her honour in the most enchanting of all picturesque scenes.
    It is inscribed on one side, ‘AMELIÆ SOPHIÆ, AUG.,’ and has
    a medallion of her on the other. It is placed on an eminence
    at the top of the Elysian fields, in a grove of orange-trees.
    You come to it on a sudden, and are startled with delight on
    looking through it: you at once see, through a glade, the river
    winding at the bottom; from which a thicket rises, arched over
    with trees, but opened, and discovering a hillock full of
    hay-cocks, beyond which in front is the Palladian bridge, and
    again over that a larger hill crowned with the castle. It is a
    tall landscape framed by the arch and the overbowering trees,
    and comprehending more beauties of light, shade, and buildings,
    than any picture of Albano I ever saw.

    “Between the flattery and the prospect, the Princess was really
    in Elysium: she visited her arch four and five times every day,
    and could not satiate herself with it. The statues of Apollo
    and the Muses stand on each side of the arch. One day she found
    in Apollo’s hand the following lines, which I had written for
    her, and communicated to Lord Temple.”

We spare our readers the verses. The letter from which we have
been quoting is one of the last of Walpole’s letters to Montagu.
A coolness arose the same year between the two friends, either
without a cause, or for some cause which has not been explained, and
continued until Montagu’s death in 1780.[54] That Walpole regretted
the breach his tone in referring to it shows, and his readers have
reason to regret it likewise, for his letters to Montagu display more
warmth of feeling and simplicity of style than any others in his
published correspondence. A few months before Montagu drops out of
sight, Lady Ossory appears in the list of the ladies to whom Walpole
addressed sprightly letters in a strain of oddly mingled ceremony and
familiarity. He had been on terms of friendship with her before her
divorce from the Duke of Grafton; in his letters of that period he
frequently refers to her as his Duchess, and speaks of following her
and loo all over the kingdom. There can be no doubt that he often wrote
to her at that time, but the first of his published letters to her is
dated after her marriage with Lord Ossory. Here are two letters to
her, one describing the damage done to his castle by an explosion of
powder-mills at Hounslow, the other the sea of troubles into which he
was plunged when his nephew, Lord Orford, was seized with insanity. The
first letter was begun in London on the 5th January, 1772:

    “I was waked very early this morning, by half an hour after
    nine; (I mean this for flattery, for Mr. Crauford says your
    ladyship does not rise till one); by the way, I was in the
    middle of a charming dream. I thought I was in the King’s
    Library in Paris, and in a gallery full of books of prints,
    containing nothing but _fêtes_ decorations of scenery. I took
    down a long Roll, on which was painted, on vellum, all the
    ceremonies of the present reign: there was the young King
    walking to his coronation; the Regent before, who I thought
    was alive. I said to him, your Royal Highness has a great air;
    he seemed extremely flattered, when the house shook as if the
    devil were come for him. I had scarce recovered my vexation at
    being so disturbed, when the door of my room shook so violently
    that I thought somebody was breaking it open, though I knew it
    was not locked. It was broad daylight, but I did not know that
    housebreaking might not be still improving. I cried out ‘Who is
    there?’ Nobody answered. In less than another minute, the door
    rattled and shook still more robberaceously. I call again--no
    reply. I rung: the housemaid ran in as pale as white ashes, if
    you ever saw such, and cried, ‘Goodness! Sir, I am frightened
    out of my wits: there has been an earthquake!’ Oh! I believed
    her immediately. Philip [his valet] came in, and, being a Swiss
    philosopher, insisted it was only the wind. I sent him down to
    collect opinions in the street. He returned, and owned every
    body in this and the neighbouring streets were persuaded their
    houses had been breaking open; or had ran out of them, thinking
    there was an earthquake. Alas! it was much worse; for you know,
    Madam, our earthquakes are as harmless as a new-born child.
    At one, came in a courier from Margaret [his housekeeper] to
    tell me that five powder-mills had been blown up at Hounslow,
    at half an hour after nine this morning, had almost shook Mrs.
    Clive, and had broken parts or all of eight of my painted
    windows, besides other damage. This is a cruel misfortune: I
    don’t know how I shall repair it! I shall go down to-morrow,
    and on Thursday will finish my report.

                                                   “Wednesday, 8th.

    “Well! Madam, I am returned from my poor shattered castle, and
    never did it look so Gothic in its born days. You would swear
    it had been besieged by the Presbyterians in the Civil Wars,
    and that, finding it impregnable, they had vented their holy
    malice on the painted glass. As this gunpowder-army passed
    on, it demolished Mr. Hindley’s fine bow-window of ancient
    Scripture histories; and only because your ladyship is my ally,
    broke the large window over your door, and wrenched off a lock
    in your kitchen. Margaret sits by the waters of Babylon, and
    weeps over Jerusalem. I shall pity those she shows the house
    to next summer, for her story is as long and deplorable as a
    chapter of casualties in ‘Baker’s Chronicle;’ yet she was not
    taken quite unprepared, for one of the Bantam hens crowed on
    Sunday morning, and the chandler’s wife told her three weeks
    ago, when the barn was blown down, that ill-luck never comes
    single. She is, however, very thankful that the China Room has
    escaped, and says, Heaven has always been the best creature
    in the world to her. I dare not tell her how many churches I
    propose to rob, to repair my losses.”

The second is dated:

                    “Strawberry Hill, past midnight, June 11, 1773.

    “Unless I borrow from my sleep, I can certainly have no time
    to please myself. I am this minute arrived here, Madam, and
    being the flower of chivalry, I sacrifice, like a true knight,
    the moments I steal from my rest to gallantry. Save me, or
    I shall become a solicitor in Chancery, unless business and
    fatigue overset my head, and reduce me to my poor nephew’s
    state. Indeed, I am half hurried out of my senses. Think of me
    putting queries to lawyers, up to the ears in mortgages, wills,
    settlements, and contingent remainders. My lawyer is sent away
    that I may give audience to the Honourable Mr. Manners, the
    genuine, if not the legitimate son of Lord William. He came
    civilly yesterday morning to ask me if he might not seize the
    pictures at Houghton, which he heard were worth threescore
    thousand pounds, for nine thousand he has lent Lord Orford. The
    vulture’s throat gaped for them all--what a scene is opened!
    Houghton will be a rookery of harpies--I doubt there are worse
    scenes to follow, and black transactions! What occupation
    chalked out for an end of a life that I had calculated for
    tranquillity, and which gout and law are to divide between them!

    “In the midst of this prospect must I keep up the tone of the
    world, go shepherdising with Macaronies, sit up at loo with
    my Lady Hertford, be witness to Miss Pelham’s orgies, dine
    at villas, and give dinners at my own. ’Tis well my spirits
    and resolution have survived my youth: you have heard how my
    mornings pass--now for the rest. Consultations of physicians,
    letters to Lady Orford, sent for to my brother, decent visits
    to _my_ Court,[55] sup at Lady Powis’s on Wednesday, drink
    tea with all the fashionable world at Mr. Fitzroy’s farm on
    Thursday, blown by a north wind there into the house, and
    whisk back to Lady Hertford’s; this morning to my brother’s to
    hear of new bills, away to dine at ----, Muswell Hill, with
    the Beauclerks, and florists and natural historians, Banks
    and Solanders; return to town, step to ask a friend whether
    reversions of jointures can be left away, into my chaise and
    hither. To-morrow come two Frenchmen to dinner--on Monday, a
    man to sell me two acres immensely dear as a favour,--Philip
    [his valet], I cannot help it, you must go and put him off;
    I have not a minute, I must go back to-morrow night to meet
    the lawyers at my brother’s on Sunday morning. Margaret [his
    housekeeper] comes in. ‘Sir, Lady Bingham desires you will
    dine with her at Hampton Court on Tuesday;’ I cannot. ‘Sir,
    Captain What-d’ye-call’m has sent twice for a ticket to see the
    house’--Don’t plague me about tickets. ‘Sir, a servant from
    Isleworth brought this parcel.’ What on earth is in it?--only
    printed proposals for writing the lives of all British writers,
    and a letter to tell me I could do it better than anybody, but
    as I may not have time, Dr. Berkenhout proposes to do it, and
    will write mine into the bargain, if I will but be so good as
    to write it first and send it him, and give him advice for the
    conduct of his work, and point out materials, and furnish him
    with anecdotes.

    “My dear madam, what if you should send him this letter as a
    specimen of my life! Alas, alas! I have already lost my lilac
    tide. I have heard but one nightingale this year, and my farmer
    cut my hay last Tuesday morning without telling me, just as I
    was going to London. Is it to be borne? O for the _sang-froid_
    of an Almackian, who pursues his delights,

        “‘Though in the jaws of ruin and codille!’”



CHAPTER VI.

    Lord Nuneham.--Madame de Sévigné.--Charles Fox.--Mrs. Clive
    and Cliveden.--Goldsmith and Garrick.--Dearth of News.--Madame
    de Trop.--A Bunch of Grapes.--General Election.--Perils by
    Land and Water.--Sir Horace Mann.--Lord Clive.--The History
    of Manners.--A Traveller from Lima.--The Sçavoir Vivre
    Club.--Reflections on Life.--The Pretender’s Happiness.--Paris
    Fashions.--Madame Du Deffand ill.--Growth of London.--Sir
    Joshua Reynolds.--Change in Manners.--Our Climate.


The following letter is a specimen of Horace’s gossiping style at
its best. It is addressed to Lord Nuneham, who was in Ireland with
his father, Simon Earl Harcourt, the then Lord-Lieutenant. Elsewhere
Walpole salutes his correspondent as “Your O’Royal Highness”:

                                    “Strawberry Hill, Dec. 6, 1773.

    “I wanted an excuse for writing to you, my dear Lord, and
    your letter gives me an opportunity of thanking you; yet that
    is not all I wanted to say. I would, if I had dared, have
    addressed myself to Lady Nuneham, but I had not confidence
    enough, especially on so unworthy a subject as myself. Lady
    Temple, my friend, as well as that of Human Nature, has shown
    me some verses; but alas! how came such charming poetry to be
    thrown away on so unmeritorious a topic? I don’t know whether
    I ought to praise the lines most, or censure the object most.
    Voltaire makes the excellence of French poetry consist in the
    number of difficulties it vanquishes. Pope, who celebrated
    Lord Bolingbroke, could not have succeeded, did not succeed,
    better; and yet I hope that, though a meaner subject, I am
    not so bad an one! Well! with all my humility, I cannot but
    be greatly flattered. Madame de Sévigné spread her leaf-gold
    over all her acquaintance, and made them shine; I should not
    doubt of the same glory, when Lady Nuneham’s poetry shall
    come to light, if my own works were but burnt at the same
    time; but alas! Coulanges’ verses were preserved, and so may
    my writings too. Apropos, my Lord, I have got a new volume of
    that divine woman’s letters. Two are entertaining; the rest,
    not very divine. But there is an application, the happiest,
    the most exquisite, that even she herself ever made! She is
    joking with a President de Provence, who was hurt at becoming a
    grandfather. She assures him there is no such great misfortune
    in it; ‘I have experienced the case,’ says she, ‘and, believe
    me, _Pæte, non dolet_.’ If you are not both transported with
    _this_, ye are not the Lord and Lady Nuneham I take ye to be.
    There are besides some twenty letters of Madame de Simiane, who
    shows she would not have degenerated totally, if she had not
    lived in the country, or had anything to say. At the end are
    reprinted Madame de Sévigné’s letters on Fouquet’s Trial, which
    are very interesting.

    “I do not know how you like your new subjects, but I hear
    they are extremely content with their Prince and Princess. I
    ought to wish your Lordship joy of all your prosperities, and
    of Mr. Fludd’s baptism into the Catholic or Universal Faith;
    but I reserve public felicities for your old _Drawing-Room_
    in Leicester Fields. Private news we have little but Lord
    Carmarthen’s and Lord Cranborne’s marriages, and the
    approaching one of Lady Bridget Lane and Mr. Tall-Match. Lord
    Holland has given Charles Fox a draught of an hundred thousand
    pounds, and it pays all his debts, but a trifle of thirty
    thousand pounds, and those of Lord Carlisle, Crewe, and Foley,
    who being only friends, not Jews, may wait. So now any younger
    son may justify losing his father’s and elder brother’s estate
    on precedent.[56]

    “Neither Lord nor Lady Temple are well, and yet they are both
    gone to Lord Clare’s, in Essex, for a week. Lord Temple had a
    very bad fall in the Park, and lost his senses for an hour.
    Yet, though the horse is a vicious one, he has been upon it
    again. In short, there are no right-headed people but the Irish!

    “As it is ancient good breeding not to conclude a letter
    without troubling the reader with compliments, and as I have
    none to send, I must beg your Lordship not to forget to present
    my respects to the Countesses of Barrymore and Massareene,
    my dear Sisters in Loo. You may be sure I am charged with a
    large parcel from Cliveden,[57] where I was last night. Except
    being extremely ill, Mrs. Clive is extremely well; but the
    tax-gatherer is gone off, and she must pay her window-lights
    over again; and the road before her door is very bad, and the
    parish won’t mend it, and there is some suspicion that Garrick
    is at the bottom of it; so if you please to send a shipload of
    the Giant’s Causey by next Monday, we shall be able to go to
    Mr. Rofey’s rout at Kingston. The Papers said she was to act at
    Covent Garden, and she has printed a very proper answer in the
    _Evening Post_. Mr. Raftor[58] told me, that formerly, when he
    played Luna in ‘The Rehearsal,’ he never could learn to dance
    the Hays, and at last he went to the Man that teaches grown
    gentlemen.

    “Miss Davis[59] is the admiration of all London, but of me, who
    do not love the perfection of what anybody can do, and wish she
    had less top to her voice and more bottom. However, she will
    break Millico’s heart, which will not break mine. Fierville
    has sprained his leg, and there is another man who sprains his
    mouth with smiling on himself--as I have heard, for I have
    not seen him yet, nor a fat old woman and her lean daughter,
    who dance with him. London is very dull, so pray come back as
    soon as you can. Mason is up to the ears in ‘Gray’s Life;’
    you will like it exceedingly, which is more than you will do
    this long letter. Well! you have but to go into Lady Nuneham’s
    dressing-room, and you may read something ten thousand times
    more pleasing. No, no! you are not the most to be pitied of any
    human being, though in the midst of Dublin Castle.”

Next to the above, Walpole’s liveliest letters about this date were
written to Lady Ossory. Sometimes he has to lament the want of news:
“Pray, Madam, where is the difference between London and the country,
when everybody is in the country and nobody in town? The houses do
not marry, intrigue, talk politics, game, or fling themselves out
of window. The streets do not all run to the Alley, nor the squares
mortgage themselves over head and ears. The play-houses do not pull
themselves down; and all summer long, when nobody gets about them,
they behave soberly and decently as any Christian in the parish
of Marylebone. The English of this preface is that I have not the
Israelitish art of making bricks without straw. I cannot invent news
when nobody commits it.” He has nothing better to tell than an anecdote
of Goldsmith, who died a few months later, and Garrick: “I dined and
passed Saturday at Beauclerk’s, with the Edgecombes, the Garricks, and
Dr. Goldsmith, and was most thoroughly tired, as I knew I should be, I
who hate the playing off a butt. Goldsmith is a fool, the more wearying
for having some sense. It was the night of a new comedy, called ‘The
School for Wives,’[60] which was exceedingly applauded, and which
Charles Fox says is execrable. Garrick has at least the chief hand in
it. I never saw anybody in a greater fidget, nor more vain when he
returned, for he went to the play-house at half-an-hour after five, and
we sat waiting for him till ten, when he was to act a speech in ‘Cato’
with Goldsmith! that is, the latter sat in t’other’s lap, covered with
a cloak, and while Goldsmith spoke, Garrick’s arms that embraced him,
made foolish actions. How could one laugh when one had expected this
for four hours?” On Christmas night 1773, he writes: “This has been a
very barren half-year. The next, I hope, will reinstate my letters in
their proper character of newspapers.”

The event, however, belied his hopes. In June, 1774, he writes to his
Countess:

    “Offended at you, Madam! I have crossed myself forty times
    since I read the impious words, never to be pronounced by
    human lips,--nay, and to utter them, when I am seemingly to
    blame!--yet, believe me, my silence is not owing to negligence,
    or to that most wicked of all sins, inconstancy. I have thought
    on you waking or sleeping, whenever I have thought at all,
    from the moment I saw you last; and if there was an echo in
    the neighbourhood besides Mr. Cambridge, I should have made
    it repeat your Ladyship’s name, till the parish should have
    presented it for a nuisance. I have begun twenty letters, but
    the naked truth is, I found I had absolutely nothing to say.
    You yourself owned, Madam, that I am grown quite lifeless, and
    it is very true. I am none of your Glastonbury thorns that
    blow at Christmas. I am a remnant of the last age, and have
    nothing to do with the present. I am an exile from the sunbeams
    of drawing-rooms; I have quitted the gay scenes of Parliament
    and the Antiquarian Society; I am not of Almack’s; I don’t
    understand horse-races; I never go to reviews; what can I have
    to talk of? I go to no _fêtes champêtres_, what can I have to
    think of? I know nothing but about myself, and about myself
    I know nothing. I have scarce been in town since I saw you,
    have scarce seen anybody here, and don’t remember a tittle but
    having scolded my gardener twice, which, indeed, would be as
    important an article as any in Montaigne’s Travels, which I
    have been reading, and if I was tired of his Essays, what must
    one be of these! What signifies what a man thought, who never
    thought of anything but himself; and what signifies what a man
    did, who never did anything?”

In August, hearing that Lady Ossory had again been disappointed of a
son, he tells her: “I don’t design to acknowledge Anne III.; I shall
call her _Madame de Trop_, as they named one of the late King of
France’s daughters. A _dauphin_! a _dauphin_! I will repeat it as often
as the _Graces_.” A month later he is informed that _Madame de Trop_
has received the name of Gertrude:

    “MADAM,--‘Methinks an Æsop’s fable you relate,’ as Dryden says
    in the ‘Hind and Panther.’ A mouse that wraps itself in a
    French cloak and sleeps on a couch; and a goldfinch that taps
    at the window and swears it will come in to quadrille at eleven
    o’clock at night! no, no, these are none of Æsop’s cattle; they
    are too fashionable to have lived so near the creation. The
    mouse is neither Country Mouse nor City Mouse; and whatever
    else he may be, the goldfinch must be a Macaroni, or at least
    of the _Sçavoir vivre_. I do not deny but I have some skill in
    expounding types and portents; and could give a shrewd guess
    at the identical persons who have travestied themselves into a
    quadruped and biped; but the truth is, I have no mind, Madam,
    to be Prime Minister. King Pharaoh is mighty apt on emergencies
    to send for us soothsayers, and put the whole kingdom into our
    hands, if his butler or baker, with whom he is wont to gossip,
    does but tell him of a cunning man.

    “I have no ambition to supplant Lord North--especially as
    the season approaches when I dread the gout; and I should be
    very sorry to be fetched out of my bed to pacify America.
    To be sure, Madam, you give me a fair field for uttering
    oracles: however, all I will unfold is, that the emblematic
    animals have no views on Lady Louisa.[61] The omens of her
    fortune are in herself; and I will burn my books, if beauty,
    sense, and merit, do not bestow all the happiness on her they
    prognosticate.…

    “I like the blue eyes, Madam, better than the denomination of
    Lady Gertrude Fitzpatrick, which, all respectable as it is, is
    very harsh and rough sounding; pray let her change it with the
    first goldfinch that offers. Nay, I do not even trust to the
    blueth of the eyes. I do not believe they last once in twenty
    times. One cannot go into any village fifty miles from London
    without seeing a dozen little children with flaxen hair and
    eyes of sky-blue. What becomes of them all? One does not see a
    grown Christian with them twice in a century, except in poetry.

    “The Strawberry Gazette is very barren of news. Mr. Garrick
    has the gout, which is of more consequence to the metropolis
    than to Twitnamshire. Lady Hertford dined here last Saturday,
    brought her loo party, and stayed supper; there were Lady
    Mary Coke, Mrs. Howe, and the Colonels Maude and Keene. This
    was very heroic, for one is robbed every hundred yards. Lady
    Hertford herself was attacked last Wednesday on Hounslow
    Heath at three in the afternoon, but she had two servants on
    horseback, who would not let her be robbed, and the highwayman
    decamped.

    “The greatest event I know was a present I received last
    Sunday, just as I was going to dine at Lady Blandford’s, to
    whom I sacrificed it. It was a bunch of grapes as big--as
    big--as that the two spies carried on a pole to Joshua; for
    spies in those days, when they robbed a vineyard, were not
    at all afraid of being overtaken. In good truth, this bunch
    weighed three pounds and a half, _côte rôtie_ measure; and was
    sent to me by my neighbour Prado, of the tribe of Issachar,
    who is descended from one of foresaid spies, but a good deal
    richer than his ancestor. Well, Madam, I carried it to the
    Marchioness of Blandford, but gave it to the _maître d’hotel_,
    with injunctions to conceal it till the dessert. At the end of
    dinner, Lady Blandford said, she had heard of three immense
    bunches of grapes at Mr. Prado’s, at a dinner he had made for
    Mr. Welbore Ellis. I said those things were always exaggerated.
    She cried, Oh! but Mrs. Ellis told it, and it weighed I don’t
    know how many pounds, and the Duke of Argyll had been to see
    the hothouse, and she wondered, as it was so near, I would
    not go and see it. Not I, indeed, said I; I dare to say there
    is no curiosity in it. Just then entered the gigantic bunch.
    Everybody screamed. There, said I, I will be shot if Mr.
    Prado has such a bunch as yours. In short, she suspected Lady
    Egremont, and the adventure succeeded to admiration. If you
    will send the Bedfordshire waggon, Madam, I will beg a dozen
    grapes for you.…

    “Pray, Madam, is not it Farming-Woods’ tide?[62] Who is to have
    the care of the dear mouse in your absence? I wish I could
    spare Margaret [his housekeeper], who loves all creatures so
    well that she would have been happy in the Ark, and sorry when
    the Deluge ceased; unless people had come to see Noah’s old
    house, which she would have liked still better than cramming
    his menagerie.”

[Illustration: _Sir Joshua Reynolds. Pinx._ _A. Dawson. Ph. Sc._ _J.
Raphael Smith. Sc._

_Lady Gertrude Fitzpatrick._]

The dearth of news was presently relieved by a General Election, about
which and other topics Walpole writes to Mann:

                                    “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, 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.…

    “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 phœnix, 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.

    “It would be quite unfashionable to talk longer of anything but
    elections; and yet it is the topic on which I never talk or
    think, especially since _I took up my freedom_.[63]…

    “In the midst of this combustion, we are in perils by land and
    water. It has rained for this month without intermission. There
    is a sea between me and Richmond, and Sunday was se’nnight I
    was hurried down to Isleworth in the ferryboat 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 Minister, Lord North;
    the robbers shot at the postilion, 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 to 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 æquora ventis,’ &c.

                                                            “Adieu!

                                        “P.S. Arlington Street, 7th.

    “I am just come to town, and find your letter.… 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!”

The foregoing is an average sample of the bulk of Walpole’s Letters
to Sir Horace Mann. It was to these Macaulay referred when he said,
sneeringly, that Walpole “left copies of his private letters, with
copious notes, to be published after his decease.” There can be no
doubt that their author regarded them as a valuable contribution to
the history of his times. And such, in truth, they were. Many of them
contain full details of some political movement, written by one who,
if not himself engaged in the struggle, was in close communication
with the actors on one side at least. Hence, though these letters may
be loaded with bias, they are often of solid substance. If they are
not equally important for our present purpose, this is because they
deal almost entirely with public matters and with the general news of
the day. “Nothing is so pleasant in a letter,” writes Walpole to Lady
Ossory, “as the occurrences of society. I am always regretting in my
correspondence with Madame du Deffand and Sir Horace Mann, that I must
not make use of them, as the one has never lived in England, and the
other not these fifty years; and so, my private stories would want
notes as much as Petronius. Sir Horace and I have no acquaintance in
common but the Kings and Queens of Europe.”

In a letter to Mann, dated November 24, 1774, Walpole returns to the
subject of the new Parliament:

    “A great event happened two days ago--a political and moral
    event; the sudden death of that second Kouli Khan, Lord Clive.
    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.[64] 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.[65]

    “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_.
    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_, 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.[66]
    For our part, I repeat it, we shall contribute nothing to the
    _Histoire des Mœurs_, 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.

        “‘Bœotûm in crasso jurares aere natos!’

    “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.”

More than one writer has cited Walpole’s traveller from Lima as the
original of Lord Macaulay’s traveller from New Zealand, who, in the
midst of a vast solitude, takes his stand on a broken arch of London
Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s. Others have traced the
passage in the celebrated Review of Ranke’s “History of the Popes,”
to Volney, Mrs. Barbauld, Kirke White, and Shelley; while others
again have pointed out that, from whatsoever source derived, the idea
expressed in this passage had been twice before employed by Macaulay,
once, in 1824, in a Review of Mitford’s “Greece,” and the second time,
in 1829, in his Review of Mill’s “Essay on Government.” The picture of
the New Zealander, however, resembles the less ambitious, but equally
graphic, figure of the traveller from Lima more closely than it does
any of the other passages referred to.[67] What is remarkable is, that
the Review of Ranke’s “History” appeared in October, 1840, whereas the
later portion of Walpole’s correspondence with Mann, to which the above
extract belongs, was first published from the original manuscripts
in 1843. How then could Macaulay know anything of the Peruvian
stranger?[68]

The following was also addressed to Sir H. Mann. It is dated in May,
1775:

    “You have not more Masquerades in Carnival than we have; there
    is one at the Pantheon to-night, another on Monday; and in June
    is to be a pompous one on the water, and at Ranelagh. This and
    the first are given by the Club called the _Sçavoir Vivre_,
    who till now have only shone by excess of gaming. The leader
    is that fashionable orator Lord Lyttelton,[69] of whom I need
    not tell you more. I have done with these diversions, and enjoy
    myself here. Your old acquaintance, Lord and Lady Dacre, and
    your old friend, Mr. Chute, dined with me to-day: poor Lord
    Dacre[70] is carried about, though not worse than he has been
    these twenty years. Strawberry was in great beauty; what joy I
    should have in showing it to you! Is this a wish I must never
    indulge? Alas!

    “I have had a long chain of thoughts since I wrote the last
    paragraph. They ended in smiling at the word _never_. How
    one pronounces it to the last moment! Would not one think I
    counted on a long series of years to come? Yet no man has the
    termination of all his views more before his eyes, or knows
    better the idleness of framing visions to one’s self. One
    passes away so soon, and worlds succeed to worlds, in which the
    occupiers build the same castles in the air. What is ours but
    the present moment? And how many of mine are gone! And what
    do I want to show you? A plaything-vision, that has amused a
    poor transitory mortal for a few hours, and that will pass
    away like its master! Well, and yet is it not as sensible to
    conform to common ideas, and to live while one lives? Perhaps
    the wisest way is to cheat one’s self. Did one concentre all
    one’s thoughts on the nearness and certainty of dissolution,
    all the world would lie eating and sleeping like the savage
    Americans. Our wishes and views were given us to gild the dream
    of life, and if a Strawberry Hill can soften the decays of
    age, it is wise to embrace it, and due gratitude to the Great
    Giver to be happy with it. The true pain is the reflection on
    the numbers that are not so blessed; yet I have no doubt but
    the real miseries of life--I mean those that are unmerited and
    unavoidable,--will be compensated to the sufferers. Tyrants
    are a proof of an hereafter. Millions of men cannot be formed
    for the sport of a cruel child.

    “How happy is the Pretender in missing a Crown! When dead, he
    will have all the advantage that other Kings have, the being
    remembered; and that greater advantage, which Kings who die
    in their childhood have, historians will say, he would have
    been a great King if he had lived to reign; and that greatest
    advantage which so very few of them have, his reign will be
    stained with no crimes and blunders. If he is at Florence,
    pray recommend me to him for his historian; you see I have all
    the qualities a Monarch demands, I am disposed to flatter him.
    You may tell him too what I have done for his uncle Richard
    III. The mischief is in it, if I am not qualified for a Royal
    Historiographer, when I have whitewashed one of the very few
    whom my brethren, so contrary to their custom, have agreed to
    traduce.”

In the autumn of 1775, Walpole was in Paris, whence he sends, for the
benefit of Conway’s daughter, this important piece of information:
“Tell Mrs. Damer, that the fashion now is to erect the _toupée_ into a
high detached tuft of hair, like a cockatoo’s crest; and this _toupée_
they call _la physionomie_--I don’t guess why.” And in giving George
Selwyn an account of the modish French ladies whom he met, he adds a
description suited to the humour of that facetious gentleman: “With one
of them,” he says, “you would be delighted, a Madame de Marchais. She
is not perfectly young, has a face like a Jew pedlar, her person is
about four feet, her head about six, and her _coiffure_ about ten. Her
forehead, chin, and neck are whiter than a miller’s; and she wears more
festoons of natural flowers than all the _figurantes_ at the Opera.
Her eloquence is still more abundant, her _attentions_ exuberant. She
talks volumes, writes folios--I mean in _billets_; presides over the
Académie, inspires passions.… She has a house in a nut-shell, that is
fuller of invention than a fairy tale; her bed stands in the middle
of the room, because there is no other space that would hold it; it
is surrounded by a perspective of looking-glasses.…” In reference
to the rage for _billets,_ he mentions “a collection that was found
last winter at Monsieur de Pondeveylle’s: there were sixteen thousand
from one lady, in a correspondence of only eleven years. For fear of
setting the house on fire if thrown into the chimney, the executors
crammed them into the oven.” “There have been known,” he adds, “persons
here who wrote to one another four times a day; and I was told of one
couple, who being always together, and the lover being fond of writing,
he placed a screen between them, and then wrote to Madam on t’other
side, and flung them over.” Of his “dear old friend,” he reports:

    “Madame du Deffand has been so ill, that the day she was
    seized I thought she would not live till night. Her Herculean
    weakness, which could not resist strawberries and cream after
    supper, has surmounted all the _ups_ and _downs_ which followed
    her excess; but her impatience to go everywhere and to do
    everything has been attended with a kind of relapse, and
    another kind of giddiness; so that I am not quite easy about
    her, as they allow her to take no nourishment to recruit, and
    she will die of inanition, if she does not live upon it. She
    cannot lift her head from the pillow without _étourdissemens_;
    and yet her spirits gallop faster than anybody’s, and so do
    her repartees. She has a great supper to-night for the Duc de
    Choiseul, and was in such a passion yesterday with her cook
    about it, and that put Tonton[71] into such a rage, that _nos
    dames de Saint Joseph_ thought the devil or the philosophers
    were flying away with their convent! As I have scarce quitted
    her, I can have had nothing to tell you. If she gets well, as I
    trust, I shall set out on the 12th; but I cannot leave her in
    any danger--though I shall run many myself, if I stay longer.
    I have kept such bad hours with this _malade_, that I have had
    alarms of gout; and bad weather, worse inns, and a voyage in
    winter, will ill suit me.…

    “I must repose a great while after all this living in company;
    nay, intend to go very little into the world again, as I do not
    admire the French way of burning one’s candle to the very snuff
    in public.”

At the end of 1775, Sir Horace Mann’s elder brother died, the family
estate came to the Ambassador, and Walpole flattered himself “that
a regular correspondence of thirty-four years will cease, and that
I shall see him again before we meet in the Elysian fields.” He was
disappointed. In February, 1776, he writes to his old friend: “You have
chilled me so thoroughly by the coldness of your answer, and by the
dislike you express to England, that I shall certainly press you no
more to come. I thought at least it would have cost you a struggle.”
Again, a little later: “Pray be assured, I acquiesce in all you say
on your own return, though grieved at your resolution, and more so at
the necessity you find in adhering to it. It is not my disposition to
prefer my own pleasure to the welfare of my friends. Your return might
have opened a warm channel of affection which above thirty years could
not freeze; but I am sure you know my steadiness too well to suspect me
of cooling to you, because we are both grown too old to meet again. I
wished that meeting as a luxury beyond what old age often tastes; but I
am too well prepared for parting with everything to be ill-humouredly
chagrined because one vision fails.” In July, 1776, we find the
following, also addressed to Mann:

    “I did flatter myself with being diverted at your surprise
    from so general an alteration of persons, objects, manners,
    as you would have found; but there is an end of all that
    pleasing vision! I remember when my father went out of place,
    and was to return visits, which Ministers are excused from
    doing, he could not guess where he was, finding himself in
    so many new streets and squares. This was thirty years ago.
    They have been building ever since, and one would think they
    had imported two or three capitals. London could put Florence
    into its fob-pocket; but as they build so slightly, if they
    did not rebuild, it would be just the reverse of Rome, a vast
    circumference of city surrounding an area of ruins. As its
    present progress is chiefly north, and Southwark marches south,
    the metropolis promises to be as broad as long. Rows of houses
    shoot out every way like a polypus; and, so great is the rage
    of building everywhere, that, if I stay here a fortnight,
    without going to town, I look about to see if no new house is
    built since I went last. America and France must tell us how
    long this exuberance of opulence is to last! The East Indies,
    I believe, will not contribute to it much longer. Babylon and
    Memphis and Rome, probably, stared at their own downfall.
    Empires did not use to philosophise, nor thought much but of
    themselves. Such revolutions are better known now, and we ought
    to expect them--I do not say we do. This little island will be
    ridiculously proud some ages hence of its former brave days,
    and swear its capital was once as big again as Paris, or--what
    is to be the name of the city that will then give laws to
    Europe?--perhaps New York or Philadelphia.”

At the close of 1776, Walpole had another severe illness. It is first
mentioned in a letter to Lady Ossory:

    “It is not from being made Archbishop of York, that I write
    by a secretary [Kirgate], Madam; but because my right hand
    has lost its cunning. It has had the gout ever since Friday
    night, and I am overjoyed with it, for there is no appearance
    of its going any farther. I came to town on Sunday in a panic,
    concluding I should be bedrid for three months, but I went out
    last night, and think I shall be able in a few days to play
    upon the guitar if I could play upon it at all.…

    “I have seen the picture of ‘St. George,’ and approve the Duke
    of Bedford’s head, and the exact likeness of Miss Vernon,[72]
    but the attitude is mean and foolish, and expresses silly
    wonderment. But of all, delicious is a picture of a little
    girl of the Duke of Buccleuch, who is overlaid with a long
    cloak, bonnet, and muff, in the midst of the snow, and is
    perishing blue and red with cold, but looks so smiling, and so
    good-humoured, that one longs to catch her up in one’s arms and
    kiss her till she squalls.

    “My hand has not a word more to say.”

[Illustration: _Sir Joshua Reynolds. Pinx._ _A. Dawson. Ph. Sc._ _J.
Raphael Smith. Sc._

_Lady Caroline Montagu._]

The attack proved obstinate, and we have again complaints of the
English climate, mixed with lamentations over the change in English
manners. Thus in February, 1777, he writes:

    “Everything is changed; as always must happen when one grows
    old, and is prejudiced to one’s old ways. I do not like dining
    at nearly six, nor beginning the evening at ten at night. If
    one does not conform, one must live alone; and that is more
    disagreeable and more difficult in town than in the country,
    where old useless people ought to live. Unfortunately, the
    country does not agree with me; and I am sure it is not fancy;
    for my violent partiality to Strawberry Hill cannot be imposed
    upon. I am persuaded that it is the dampness of this climate
    that gives me so much gout; and London, from the number of
    fires and inhabitants, must be the driest spot in the nation.”

The following, written to Lord Nuneham in July, is in a gayer tone:

    “Now I have taken this liberty, my dear Lord, I must take a
    little more; you know my old admiration and envy are your
    garden. I do not grudge Pomona or Sir James Cockburn their
    hot-houses, nor intend to ruin myself by raising sugar and
    water in tanner’s bark and peach skins. The Flora Nunehamica
    is the height of my ambition, and if your Linnæus should have
    any disciple that would condescend to look after my little
    flower-garden, it would be the delight of my eyes and nose,
    provided the cataracts of heaven are ever shut again! Not one
    proviso do I make, but that the pupil be not a Scot. We had
    peace and warm weather before the inundation of that northern
    people, and therefore I beg to have no Attila for my gardener.

    “Apropos, don’t your Lordship think that another set of
    legislators, the Maccaronis and Maccaronesses, are very wise?
    People abuse them for turning days, nights, hours and seasons
    topsy-turvy; but surely it was upon mature reflection. We had a
    set of customs and ideas borrowed from the continent that by no
    means suited our climate. Reformers bring back things to their
    natural course. Notwithstanding what I said in spite in the
    paragraph above, we are in truth but Greenlanders, and ought to
    conform to our climate. We should lay in store of provisions
    and candles and masquerades and coloured lamps for ten months
    in the year, and shut out our twilight and enjoy ourselves.
    In September and October, we may venture out of our ark, and
    make our hay, and gather in our corn, and go to horse-races,
    and kill pheasants and partridges for stock for our winter’s
    supper. I sailed in a skiff and pair this morning to Lady
    Cecilia Johnston, and found her, like a good housewife, sitting
    over her fire, with her cats and dogs and birds and children.
    She brought out a dram to warm me and my servants, and we were
    very merry and comfortable. As Lady Nuneham has neither so many
    two-footed or four-footed cares upon her hands, I hope her
    hands have been better employed.

    “I wish I could peep over her shoulder one of these wet
    mornings!”



CHAPTER VII.

    The American War.--Irish Discontent.--Want of
    Money.--The Houghton Pictures Sold.--Removal to Berkeley
    Square.--Ill-health.--A Painting by Zoffani.--The Rage for
    News.--The Duke of Gloucester.--Wilkes.--Fashions, Old and
    New.--Mackerel News.--Pretty Stories.--Madame de Sévigné’s
    Cabinet.--Picture of his Waldegrave Nieces.--The Gordon
    Riots.--Death of Madame du Deffand.--The Blue Stockings.


Humourist as he was, and too often swayed by prejudice, no man had a
sounder judgment than Walpole when he gave his reason fair play. In his
estimate of public events, he sometimes displayed unusual sagacity.
Though his dislike of Lord Chatham led him to disparage the efforts of
the old man eloquent to avert the American War--efforts which filled
Franklin with admiration--he yet foresaw quite as clearly as Chatham
the disastrous results of that contest. The celebrated speeches which
fell dead on the ear of Parliament had no more effect upon Walpole;
but Walpole did not need to be moved by them, for he was convinced
already. “This interlude,” he writes to Conway, who was then in Paris,
“would be entertaining, if the scene was not so totally gloomy. The
Cabinet have determined on civil war.… There is food for meditation!
Will the French you converse with be civil and keep their countenances?
Pray remember it is not decent to be dancing at Paris, when there is a
civil war in your own country. You would be like the country squire,
who passed by with his hounds as the battle of Edgehill began.” The
letter in which these words occur is dated January 22, 1775. Three
weeks later, the writer adds: “The war with our Colonies, which is now
declared, is a proof how much influence jargon has on human actions.
A war on our own trade is _popular_![73] Both Houses are as eager
for it as they were for conquering the Indies--which acquits them a
little of rapine, when they are as glad of what will impoverish them
as of what they fancied was to enrich them.” His sympathy, as well
as his judgment, was on the side of the Colonies. On September 7th,
1775, he writes to Mann: “You will not be surprised that I am what
I always was, a zealot for liberty in every part of the globe, and
consequently that I most heartily wish success to the Americans. They
have hitherto not made _one_ blunder; and the Administration have made
a thousand, besides the two capital ones, of first provoking, and
then of uniting the Colonies. The latter seem to have as good heads
as hearts, as we want both.” And on the 11th: “The Parliament is to
meet on the 20th of next month, and vote twenty-six thousand seamen!
What a paragraph of blood is there! With what torrents must liberty be
preserved in America! In England what can save it?… What prospect of
comfort has a true Englishman? Why, that Philip II. miscarried against
the boors of Holland, and that Louis XIV. could not replace James II.
on the throne!” And when Fortune declared herself on the side of the
Colonists, Horace, unmoved by the reverses of his country, steadily
preserved the same tone. “We have been horribly the aggressors,” he
wrote at the end of 1777, “and I must rejoice that the Americans are to
be free, as they had a right to be, and as I am sure they have shown
they deserve to be.” But the calamities and disgraces of the time
weighed heavily on his spirits. His correspondence throughout 1777 and
the two following years is full of the American War. He recurs to the
subject again and again, and harps upon it continually. It does not
fall within our plan to quote his criticisms and reflections on the
conduct of Lord North and his opponents. They are generally as acute
and sensible as they are always vigorous and lively. The chief mistake
one remarks in them is, that they assume the victory of America to mean
the ruin of England’s Empire. The writer saw British troops everywhere
defeated, retreating, laying down their arms; France allying herself
with the rebellious Colonies, and threatening England with invasion;
Spain joining in the hostile league; and Ireland showing fresh signs of
disaffection: what wonder if he was tempted to predict that we should
“moulder piecemeal into our insignificant islandhood?” In May, 1779,
he writes: “Our oppressive partiality to two or three manufacturing
towns in England has revolted the Irish, and they have entered into
combinations against purchasing English goods in terms more offensive
than the first associations of the Colonies. In short, we have for four
or five years displayed no alacrity or address, but in provoking our
friends and furnishing weapons of annoyance to our enemies; and the
unhappy facility with which the Parliament has subscribed to all these
oversights has deceived the Government into security, and encouraged
it to pull almost the whole fabric on its own head. We can escape but
by concessions and disgrace; and when we attain peace, the terms will
prove that Parliamentary majorities have voted away the wisdom, glory,
and power of the nation.”

Before the date of this extract, the pressure of the war had made
itself felt in English society. In the preceding summer, Horace had
written to Mason, then engaged on his poem of “The English Garden”:

    “Distress is already felt; one hears of nothing but of the
    want of money; one sees it every hour. I sit in my Blue
    window, and miss nine in ten of the carriages that used to
    pass before it. Houses sell for nothing, which, two years
    ago, nabobs would have given lacs of diamonds for. Sir Gerard
    Vanneck’s house and beautiful terrace on the Thames, with forty
    acres of ground, and valued by his father at twenty thousand
    pounds, was bought in last week at six thousand. Richmond is
    deserted; an hundred and twenty coaches used to be counted
    at the church-door--there are now twenty. I know nobody that
    grows rich but Margaret. This Halcyon season has brought her
    more customers than ever, and were anything to happen to her,
    I have thoughts, like greater folk, of being my own minister,
    and showing my house myself. I don’t wonder _your Garden_ has
    grown in such a summer, and I am glad it has, that our taste
    in gardening may be immortal in verse, for I doubt it has seen
    its best days! Your poem may transplant it to America, whither
    our best works will be carried now, as our worst used to be. Do
    not you feel satisfied in knowing you shall be a classic in a
    free and rising empire? Swell all your ideas, give a loose to
    all your poetry; your lines will be repeated on the banks of
    the Orinoko; and which is another comfort, Ossian’s ‘Dirges’
    will never be known there. Poor Strawberry must sink _in fæce
    Romuli_; that melancholy thought silences me.”

Besides being vexed at the state of public affairs, Walpole suffered
much about this time from the gout, and from family troubles. His
nephew, Lord Orford, having recovered from a second attack of insanity,
resolved on selling the pictures at Houghton. In February, 1779, Horace
writes to Lady Ossory: “The pictures at Houghton, I hear, and I fear,
are sold: what can I say? I do not like even to think on it. It is the
most signal mortification to my idolatry for my father’s memory, that
it could receive. It is stripping the temple of his glory and of his
affection. A madman excited by rascals has burnt his Ephesus. I must
never cast a thought towards Norfolk more; nor will hear my nephew’s
name if I can avoid it. Him I can only pity; though it is strange he
should recover any degree of sense, and never any of feeling!” The
transaction was not, in fact, at that moment concluded. In the course
of the same year, however, the whole gallery was sold to the Empress
of Russia for a little more than forty thousand pounds. Walpole did
not think the bargain a bad one, though he would rather, he said, the
pictures were sold to the Crown of England than to that of Russia,
where they would be burnt in a wooden palace on the first insurrection,
while in England they would still be Sir Robert Walpole’s Collection.
“But,” he added, “my grief is that they are not to remain at Houghton,
where he placed them and wished them to remain.”

While grieving over his father’s pictures, Horace found himself
involved in a Chancery suit. The lease of his town house in Arlington
Street running out about this time, he had bought a larger house
in Berkeley Square. Difficulties, however, hindered the completion
of the purchase, and the affair went into Chancery. Fortunately,
under Walpole’s management, the suit became a friendly one. “I have
persisted in complimenting and flattering my parties, till by dint of
complaisance and respect I have brought them to pique themselves on
equal attentions; so that, instead of a lawsuit, it has more the air
of a treaty between two little German princes who are mimicking their
betters only to display their titular dignities. His Serene Highness,
Colonel Bishopp, is the most obsequious and devoted servant of my
Serenity the Landgrave of Strawberry.” The judge was equally agreeable.
“Yesterday I received notice from my attorney that the Master of the
Rolls has, with epigrammatic despatch, heard my cause, and pronounced a
decree in my favour. Surely, the whip of the new driver, Lord Thurlow,
has pervaded all the hard wheels of the law, and set them galloping.
I must go to town on Monday, and get my money ready for payment,--not
from impatience to enter on my premises, but though the French declare
they are coming to burn London, bank-bills are still more combustible
than houses, and should my banker’s shop be reduced to ashes, I might
have a mansion to pay for, and nothing to pay with. If both were
consumed, at least I should not be in debt.” The purchase-money paid,
and possession taken, the next step was to remove to Berkeley Square.
In October, 1779, he writes to Lady Ossory, whose sister-in-law,[74]
the newly-married Countess of Shelburne, was just established in the
same square:

    “My constitution, which set out under happy stars, seems to
    keep pace with the change of constellations, and fail like
    the various members of the empire. I am now confined with
    the rheumatism in my left arm, and find no benefit from our
    woollen manufacture, which I flattered myself would always be
    a resource. On Monday I shall remove to Shelburne Square,
    and watch impatiently the opening of the Countess’s windows;
    though with all her and her Earl’s goodness to me, I doubt I
    shall profit little of either. I do not love to be laughed at
    or pitied, and dread exposing myself to numbers of strange
    servants and young people, who wonder what Methuselah does
    out of his coffin. Lady Blandford is gone; her antediluvian
    dowagers dispersed; amongst whom I was still reckoned a lively
    young creature. Wisdom I left forty years ago to Welbore Ellis,
    and must not pretend to rival him now, when he is grown so
    rich by the semblance of it. Since I cannot then act old age
    with dignity, I must keep myself out of the way, and weep for
    England in a corner.”

The Lady Blandford mentioned in this passage was a widow who had lived
within a few miles of Horace, at Sheen, and had recently died. During
her illness, Walpole, in writing to Lady Ossory, had dwelt on the Roman
fortitude with which the sick lady supported her sufferings, and on the
devotion shown to her by her friend, Miss Stapylton. He added in his
usual strain: “Miss Stapylton has £30,000, and Lady Blandford nothing.
I wish we had some of these exalted characters in breeches! These two
women shine like the last sparkles in a piece of burnt paper, which the
children call the parson and clerk. Alas! the rest of our old ladies
are otherwise employed; they are at the head of fleets and armies.”
Walpole at this moment was altogether out of heart. “I see myself a
poor invalid, threatened with a painful and irksome conclusion, and
mortified at seeing the decay of my country more rapid than my own.”
But he could still keep up a tone of gaiety. In November he wrote to
Mann:

    “I went this morning to Zoffani’s to see his picture or
    portrait of the ‘Tribune at Florence;’ and, though my letter
    will not put on its boots these three days, I must write
    while the subject is fresh in my head. The first thing I
    looked for, was _you_--and I could not find you. At last I
    said, ‘Pray, who is _that_ Knight of the Bath?’--‘Sir Horace
    Mann.’--‘Impossible!’ said I. My dear Sir, how you have left
    me in the lurch!--you are grown fat, jolly, young; while I am
    become the skeleton of Methuselah.…

    “Well! but are you really so portly a personage as Zoffani has
    represented you? I envy you. Everybody can grow younger and
    plump, but I. My brother, Sir Edward Walpole, is as sleek as an
    infant, and, though seventy-three, is still quite beautiful. He
    has a charming colour, and not a wrinkle. I told him, when Lord
    Orford[75] was in danger, that he might think what he would,
    but I would carry him into the Court of Chancery, and put it to
    the consciences of the judges, which of us two was the elder by
    eleven years?”

And two days later we have the following amusing letter to Lady Ossory:

                                   “Berkeley Square, Nov. 14, 1779.

    “I must be equitable; I must do the world justice; there are
    really some hopes of its amendment; I have not heard one
    lie these four days; but then, indeed, I have heard nothing.
    Well, then, why do you write? Stay, Madam; my letter is not
    got on horseback yet; nor shall it mount till it has something
    to carry. It is my duty, as your gazetteer, to furnish you
    with news, true or false, and you would certainly dismiss
    me if I did not, at least, tell you something that was
    impossible. The whole nation is content with hearing anything
    new, let it be ever so bad. Tell the first man you meet that
    Ireland has revolted; away he runs, and tells everybody he
    meets,--everybody tells everybody, and the next morning they
    ask for more news. Well, Jamaica is taken; oh, Jamaica is
    taken. Next day, what news? Why, Paul Jones is landed in
    Rutlandshire, and has carried off the Duchess of Devonshire,
    and a squadron is fitting out to prevent it; and I am to have a
    pension for having given the earliest intelligence; and there
    is to be a new farce called _The Rutlandshire Invasion_, and
    the King and Queen will come to town to see it, and the Prince
    of Wales will not, because he is not old enough to understand
    pantomimes.[76]

    “Well, Madam; having despatched the nation and its serious
    affairs, one may chat over private matters. I have seen Lord
    Macartney, and do affirm that he is shrunk, and has a _soupçon_
    of black that was not wont to reside in his complexion.…

    “Mr. Beauclerk has built a library in Great Russell Street,
    Bloomsbury, that reaches half-way to Highgate. Everybody goes
    to see it; it has put the Museum’s nose quite out of joint.

    “Now I return to politics. Sir Ralph Payne and Dr. Johnson are
    answering General Burgoyne, and they say the words are to be so
    long that the reply must be printed in a pamphlet as long as an
    atlas, but in an Elzevir type, or the first sentence would fill
    twenty pages in octavo. You may depend upon the truth of it,
    for Mr. Cumberland told it in confidence to one with whom he is
    not at all acquainted, who told it to one whom I never saw; so
    you see, Madam, there is no questioning the authority.

    “I will not answer so positively for what I am going to tell
    you, as I had it only from the person himself. The Duke of
    Gloucester was at Bath with the Margrave of Anspach. Lord
    Nugent came up and would talk to the Duke, and then asked if
    he might take the liberty of inviting his Royal Highness to
    dinner? I think you will admire the quickness and propriety of
    the answer:--the Duke replied, ‘My Lord, I make no acquaintance
    but in London,’ where you know, Madam, he only has levees. The
    Irishman continued to talk to him even after that rebuff. He
    certainly hoped to have been very artful--to have made court
    there, and yet not have offended anywhere else[77] by not going
    in town, which would have been a gross affront to the Duke, had
    he accepted the invitation.

    “I was at Blackheath t’other morning, where I was grieved.
    There are eleven Vander Werffs that cost an immense sum: half
    of them are spoiled since Sir Gregory Page’s death by servants
    neglecting to shut out the sun. There is another room hung
    with the history of Cupid and Psyche, in twelve small pictures
    by Luca Giordano, that are sweet. There is, too, a glorious
    Claude, some fine Teniers, a noble Rubens and Snyders, two
    beautiful Philippo Lauras, and a few more,--and several very
    bad. The house is magnificent, but wounded me; it was built on
    the model of Houghton, except that three rooms are thrown into
    a gallery.

    “Now I have tapped the chapter of pictures, you must go and see
    Zoffani’s ‘Tribune at Florence,’ which is an astonishing piece
    of work, with a vast deal of merit.

    “There too you will see a delightful piece of Wilkes
    looking--no, squinting tenderly at his daughter. It is a
    caricature of the Devil acknowledging Miss Sin in Milton. I do
    not know why, but they are under a palm-tree, which has not
    grown in a free country for some centuries.

                                                             “15th.

    “With all my pretences, there is no more veracity in me than
    in a Scotch runner for the Ministry. Here must I send away my
    letter without a word in it worth a straw. All the good news
    I know is, that a winter is come in that will send armies and
    navies to bed, and one may stir out in November without fear
    of being tanned. I am heartily glad that we shall keep Jamaica
    and the East Indies another year, that one may have time to
    lay in a stock of tea and sugar for the rest of one’s days. I
    think only of the necessaries of life, and do not care a rush
    for gold and diamonds, and the pleasure of stealing logwood.
    The friends of Government, who have thought of nothing but
    of reducing us to our islandhood, and bringing us back to
    the simplicity of ancient times, when we were the frugal,
    temperate, virtuous old English, ask how we did before tea and
    sugar were known. Better, no doubt; but as I did not happen
    to be born two or three hundred years ago, I cannot recollect
    precisely whether diluted acorns, and barley bread spread with
    honey, made a very luxurious breakfast.

    “I was last night at Lady Lucan’s to hear the Misses Bingham
    sing Jomelli’s ‘Miserere,’ set for two voices. There were only
    the Duchess of Bedford, Lady Bute … and half a dozen Irish.…
    The Duchess told me, that a habit-maker returned from Ampthill
    is gone stark in love with Lady Ossory, on fitting her with the
    new dress--I think they call it a Levite--and says he never
    saw so glorious a figure. I know that; and so you would be in
    a hop-sack, Madam--but where is the grace in a man’s nightgown
    bound round with a belt?

    “Good-night, Lady! I hope I shall have something to tell you in
    my next, that my letter may be shorter.

                      “Codicil to my to-day’s:--viz. Nov. 15, 1779.

    “I enclosed the above to Lord Ossory, because it was not
    worth sixpence, and had sent it to the post, and then went
    to Bedford House, where, lo! enters Lady Shelburne, looking
    as fresh and ripe as Pomona. N.B. Her windows were not open
    yesterday, and to-day there was such a mist, ermined with snow,
    that I could not see. I find it was not a habit-maker that was
    smitten with your Ladyship as a pig in a poke, but somebody
    else; but as her Grace’s mouth has lost one tooth, and my ear,
    I suspect, another, I have not found out who the unfortunate
    man is.

    “Next enters your Ladyship’s letter. I have seen my dignity
    of Minister to Spain[78]--many a fair castle have I erected
    in that country, but truly never resided there.… This is long
    enough for a codicil, in which one has nothing more to give.”

In the same lively mood, he writes about the same time to Mason:

                      “Berkeley Square, Nov. I don’t know what day.

    “If you can be content with anything but news as fresh as
    mackerel, I will tell you as pretty a story as a gentleman can
    hear in a winter’s day, though it has not a grain of novelty
    in it but to those who never heard it, which was my case till
    yesterday.

    “When that philosophic tyrant the Czarina (who murdered two
    emperors for the good of their people, to the edification of
    Voltaire, Diderot, and D’Alembert) proposed to give a code of
    laws that should serve all her subjects as much or as little as
    she pleased, she ordered her various states to send deputies
    who should specify their respective wants. Amongst the rest
    came a representative of the Samoieds; he waited on the marshal
    of the diet of legislation, who was Archbishop of Novgorod.
    ‘I am come,’ said the savage, ‘but I do not know for what.’
    ‘My clement mistress,’ said his Grace, ‘means to give a body
    of laws to all her dominions.’--‘Whatever laws the Empress
    shall give us,’ said the Samoied, ‘we shall obey, but we want
    no laws.’--‘How,’ said the Prelate, ‘not want laws! why, you
    are men like the rest of the world, and must have the same
    passions, and consequently must murder, cheat, steal, rob,
    plunder,’ &c., &c., &c.

    “‘It is true,’ said the savage, ‘we have now and then a bad
    person among us, but he is sufficiently punished by being shut
    out of all society.’

    “If you love nature in its _naturalibus_, you will like this
    tale. I think one might make a pretty ‘Spectator’ by inverting
    the hint: I would propose a general jail delivery, not only
    from all prisons, but madhouses, as not sufficiently ample for
    a quarter of the patients and candidates; and to save trouble,
    and yet make as impartial distinction, to confine the virtuous
    and the few that are in their senses. But I am digressing, and
    have not yet told you the story I intended; at least, only the
    first part.

    “One day Count Orlow, the Czarina’s accomplice in more ways
    than one, exhibited himself to the Samoied in the robes of the
    order, and refulgent with diamonds. The savage surveyed him
    attentively, but silently. ‘May I ask,’ said the favourite,
    ‘what it is you admire?’--‘Nothing,’ replied the Tartar: ‘I was
    thinking how ridiculous you are.’--‘Ridiculous,’ cried Orlow,
    angrily; ‘and pray in what?’--‘Why, you shave your beard to
    look young, and powder your hair to look old!’

    “Well! as you like my stories, I will tell you a third, but
    it is prodigiously old, yet it is the only new trait that I
    have found in that ocean _Bibliothèque des Romans_, which I
    had almost abandoned; for I am out of patience with novels and
    sermons, that have nothing new, when the authors may say what
    they will without contradiction.

    “My history is a romance of the Amours of Eleanor of Aquitaine,
    Queen of our Henry the Second. She is in love with somebody
    who is in love with somebody else. She puts both in prison.
    The Count falls dangerously ill, and sends for the Queen’s
    Physician. Eleanor hears it, calls for the Physician, and
    gives him a bowl, which she orders him to prescribe to
    the Count. The Doctor hesitates, doubts, begs to know the
    ingredients.--‘Come,’ says her Majesty, ‘your suspicions are
    just--it is poison; but remember, it is a crime I want from
    you, not a lecture; go and obey my orders; my Captain of the
    guard and two soldiers shall accompany you, and see that you
    execute my command, and give no hint of my secret; go, I will
    have no reply:’ the Physician submits, finds the prisoner in
    bed, his mistress sitting by. The Doctor feels his pulse,
    produces the bowl, sighs, and says, ‘My dear friend, I cannot
    cure your disorder, but I have a remedy here for myself,’ and
    swallows the poison.

    “Is not this entirely new? it would be a fine _coup de
    théâtre_, and yet would not do for a tragedy, for the Physician
    would become the hero of the piece, would efface the lovers;
    and yet the rest of the play could not be made to turn on him.

    “As all this will serve for a letter at any time, I will
    keep the rest of my paper for something that will not bear
    postponing.

                                                             “20th.

    “Come, my letter shall go, though with only one new paragraph.
    Lord Weymouth has resigned, as well as Lord Gower. I believe
    that little faction flattered themselves that their separation
    would blow up Lord North, and yet I am persuaded that sheer
    cowardice has most share in Weymouth’s part. There is such
    universal dissatisfaction, that when the crack is begun, the
    whole edifice perhaps may tumble, but where is the architect
    that can repair a single story? The nation stayed till
    everything was desperate, before it would allow that a single
    tile was blown off.”

At the close of the year, he is cheered by the sight of a precious
relic:

    “You are to know, Madam, that I have in my custody the
    individual ebony cabinet in which Madame de Sévigné kept her
    pens and paper for writing her matchless letters. It was
    preserved near Grignan by an old man who mended her pens, and
    whose descendant gave it last year to Mr. Selwyn, as truly
    worthy of such a sacred relic. It wears, indeed, all the
    outward and visible signs of such venerable preciousness, for
    it is clumsy, cumbersome, and shattered, and inspires no more
    idea of her spirit and _légèreté_, than the mouldy thigh-bone
    of a saint does of the unction of his sermons. I have full
    powers to have it repaired and decorated as shall seem good in
    my own eyes, though I had rather be authorised to inclose and
    conceal it in a shrine of gold and jewels.”

[Illustration: _Sir Joshua Reynolds. Pinx._ _A. Dawson. Ph. Sc._
_Valentine Green. Sc._

_The Three Ladies Waldegrave._]

Towards the end of May, 1780, he writes: “Sir Joshua has begun a
charming picture of my three fair nieces, the Waldegraves, and very
like. They are embroidering and winding silk; I rather wished to have
them drawn like the Graces, adorning a bust of the Duchess as the Magna
Mater; but my ideas are not adopted.” We hear no more of this picture
for some time. Attention was almost immediately engrossed by the Gordon
riots. Walpole writes to Lady Ossory:

                                    “Berkeley Square, June 3, 1780.

    “I know that a governor or gazetteer ought not to desert their
    posts, if a town is besieged, or a town is full of news; and
    therefore, Madam, I resume my office. I smile to-day--but I
    trembled last night; for an hour or more I never felt more
    anxiety. I knew the bravest of my friends were barricaded into
    the House of Commons, and every avenue to it impossible. Till
    I heard the Horse and Foot Guards were gone to their rescue,
    I expected nothing but some dire misfortune; and the first
    thing I heard this morning was that part of the town had had
    a fortunate escape from being burnt after ten last night. You
    must not expect order, Madam; I must recollect circumstances as
    they occur; and the best idea I can give your Ladyship of the
    tumult will be to relate it as I heard it.

    “I had come to town in the morning on a private occasion, and
    found it so much as I left it, that though I saw a few blue
    cockades here and there, I only took them for new recruits.
    Nobody came in; between seven and eight I saw a hack and
    another coach arrive at Lord Shelburne’s, and thence concluded
    that Lord George Gordon’s trumpet had brayed to no purpose. At
    eight I went to Gloucester House; the Duchess told me, there
    had been a riot, and that Lord Mansfield’s glasses had been
    broken, and a bishop’s, but that most of the populace were
    dispersed. About nine his Royal Highness and Colonel Heywood
    arrived; and then we heard a much more alarming account. The
    concourse had been incredible, and had by no means obeyed the
    injunctions of their apostle, or rather had interpreted the
    spirit instead of the letter. The Duke had reached the House
    with the utmost difficulty, and found it sunk from the temple
    of dignity to an asylum of lamentable objects. There were the
    Lords Hillsborough, Stormont, Townshend, without their bags,
    and with their hair dishevelled about their ears, and Lord
    Willoughby without his periwig, and Lord Mansfield, whose
    glasses had been broken, quivering on the woolsack like an
    aspen. Lord Ashburnham had been torn out of his chariot, the
    Bishop of Lincoln ill-treated, the Duke of Northumberland had
    lost his watch in the holy hurly-burly, and Mr. Mackenzie his
    snuff-box and spectacles. Alarm came that the mob had thrown
    down Lord Boston, and were trampling him to death; which they
    almost did. They had diswigged Lord Bathurst on his answering
    them stoutly, and told him he was the pope, and an old woman;
    thus splitting Pope Joan into two. Lord Hillsborough, on being
    taxed with negligence, affirmed that the Cabinet had the day
    before empowered Lord North to take precautions; but two
    Justices that were called denied having received any orders.
    Colonel Heywood, a very stout man, and luckily a very cool one,
    told me he had thrice been collared as he went by the Duke’s
    order to inquire what was doing in the other House; but though
    he was not suffered to pass, he reasoned the mob into releasing
    him,--yet, he said, he never saw so serious an appearance and
    such determined countenances.

    “About eight the Lords adjourned, and were suffered to go
    home; though the rioters declared that if the other House did
    not repeal the Bill,[79] there would at night be terrible
    mischief. Mr. Burke’s name had been given out as the object of
    resentment. General Conway I knew would be intrepid and not
    give way; nor did he, but inspired the other House with his
    own resolution. Lord George Gordon was running backwards and
    forwards, from the windows of the Speaker’s Chamber denouncing
    all that spoke against him to the mob in the lobby. Mr. Conway
    tasked him severely both in the House and aside, and Colonel
    Murray told him he was a disgrace to his family. Still the
    members were besieged and locked up for four hours, nor could
    divide, as the lobby was crammed. Mr. Conway and Lord Frederick
    Cavendish, with whom I supped afterwards, told me there was a
    moment when they thought they must have opened the doors and
    fought their way out sword in hand. Lord North was very firm,
    and at last they got the Guards and cleared the pass.

    “Blue banners had been waved from tops of houses at Whitehall
    as signals to the people, while the coaches passed, whom they
    should applaud or abuse. Sir George Savile’s and Charles
    Turner’s coaches were demolished. Ellis, whom they took for a
    Popish gentleman, they carried prisoner to the Guildhall in
    Westminster, and he escaped by a ladder out of a window. Lord
    Mahon harangued the people from the balcony of a coffee-house,
    and begged them to retire.”

In a letter to Mann he continues the story:

    “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[80] 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.

    “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.”

Of the events of Black Wednesday, Horace was an eye-witness. His
letters to his Countess form a sort of journal:

                            “Wednesday, five o’clock, June 7, 1780.

    “I am heartily glad I am come to town, though never was a
    less delicious place; but there was no bearing to remain
    philosophically in the country, and hear the thousand rumours
    of every hour, and not know whether one’s friends and relations
    were not destroyed. Yesterday Newgate was burnt, and other
    houses, and Lord Sandwich near massacred. At Hyde Park Corner,
    I saw Guards at the Lord President’s door, and in Piccadilly,
    met George Selwyn and the Signorina,[81] whom I wondered he
    ventured there. He came into my chaise in a fury, and told me
    Lord Mansfield’s house is in ashes, and that five thousand men
    were marched to Caen Wood--it is true, and that one thousand
    of the Guards are gone after them. A camp of ten thousand is
    forming in Hyde Park as fast as possible, and the Berkshire
    militia is just arrived. Wedderburn and Lord Stormont are
    threatened, and I do not know who. The Duchess of Beaufort sent
    an hour ago to tell me Lord Ashburnham had just advertised her
    that he is threatened, and was sending away his poor bedridden
    Countess and children; and the Duchess begged to know what I
    proposed to do. I immediately went to her, and quieted her, and
    assured her we are as safe as we can be anywhere, and as little
    obnoxious; but if she was alarmed, I advised her to remove to
    Notting Hill, where Lady Mary Coke is absent. The Duchess said
    the mob were now in Saville Row; we sent thither, and so they
    are, round Colonel Woodford’s, who gave the Guards orders to
    fire at Lord Mansfield’s, where six at least of the rioters
    were killed.

    “The mob are now armed, having seized the stores in the
    Artillery Ground.

    “If anything can surprise your Ladyship, it will be what I am
    going to tell you. Lord George Gordon went to Buckingham House
    this morning, and asked an audience of the King. Can you be
    more surprised still?--He was refused.

    “I must finish, for I am going about the town to learn, and
    see, and hear. Caen Wood is saved; a regiment on march met the
    rioters.

    “It will probably be a black night: I am decking myself with
    blue ribbons, like a May-day garland. Horsemen are riding by
    with muskets. I am sorry I did not bring the armour of Francis
    I. to town, as I am to guard a Duchess Dowager and an heiress.
    Will it not be romantically generous if I yield the latter to
    my nephew?

    “From my garrison in Berkeley Square.

             “Wednesday night, past two in the morning, June 7, 1780.

    “As it is impossible to go to bed (for Lady Betty Compton
    has hoped I would not this very minute, which, next to her
    asking the contrary, is the thing not to be refused), I cannot
    be better employed than in proving how much I think of your
    Ladyship at the most horrible moment I ever saw. You shall
    judge.

    “I was at Gloucester House between nine and ten. The servants
    announced a great fire; the Duchess, her daughters, and I went
    to the top of the house, and beheld not only one but two vast
    fires, which we took for the King’s Bench and Lambeth; but the
    latter was the New Prison, and the former at least was burning
    at midnight. Colonel Heywood came in and acquainted his Royal
    Highness that nine houses in Great Queen Street had been
    gutted, and the furniture burnt; and he had _seen_ a great
    Catholic distiller’s at Holborn Bridge broken open and all the
    casks staved; and since, the house had been set on fire.

    “At ten I went to Lord Hertford’s, and found him and his sons
    charging muskets. Lord Rockingham has two hundred soldiers in
    his house, and is determined to defend it. Thence I went to
    General Conway’s, and in a moment a servant came in and said
    there was a great fire just by. We went to the street-door and
    thought it was St. Martin’s Lane in flames, but it is either
    the Fleet Prison or the distiller’s. I forgot that in the court
    of Gloucester House I met Colonel Jennings, who told me there
    had been an engagement at the Royal Exchange to defend the
    Bank, and that the Guards had shot sixty of the mob; I have
    since heard seventy, for I forgot to tell your Ladyship that at
    a _great_ council, held this evening at the Queen’s House, at
    which Lord Rockingham and the Duke of Portland were present,
    military execution was ordered, for, in truth, the Justices
    dare not act.

    “After supper I returned to Lady Hertford, finding Charing
    Cross, and the Haymarket, and Piccadilly, illuminated from
    fear, though all this end of the town is hitherto perfectly
    quiet, lines being drawn across the Strand and Holborn, to
    prevent the mob coming westward. Henry and William Conway
    arrived, and had seen the populace break open the toll-houses
    on Blackfriars Bridge, and carry off bushels of halfpence,
    which fell about the streets, and then they set fire to the
    toll-houses. General Conway’s porter had seen five distinct
    conflagrations.

    “Lady Hertford’s cook came in, white as this paper. _He is a
    German Protestant._ He said his house had been attacked, his
    furniture burnt; that he had saved one child, and left another
    with his wife, whom he could not get out; and that not above
    ten or twelve persons had assaulted his house. I could not
    credit this, at least was sure it was an episode that had no
    connection with the general insurrection, and was at most some
    pique of his neighbours. I sent my own footman to the spot in
    Woodstock Street; he brought me word there had been eight or
    ten apprentices who made the riot, that two Life Guardsmen had
    arrived and secured four of the enemies. It seems the cook had
    refused to illuminate like the rest of the street. To-morrow
    I suppose his Majesty King George Gordon will order their
    release; they will be inflated with having been confessors, and
    turn heroes.

    “On coming home I visited the Duchess Dowager and my fair ward;
    and am heartily tired with so many expeditions, for which I
    little imagined I had youth enough left.

    “We expect three or four more regiments to-morrow, besides some
    troops of horse and militia already arrived. We are menaced
    with counter-squadrons from the country. There will, I fear,
    be much blood spilt before peace is restored. The Gordon has
    already surpassed Masaniello, who I do not remember set his own
    capital on fire. Yet I assure your ladyship there is no panic.
    Lady Aylesbury has been at the play in the Haymarket, and the
    Duke and my four nieces at Ranelagh, this evening. For my part,
    I think the _common_ diversions of these last four-and-twenty
    hours are sufficient to content any moderate appetite; and as
    it is now three in the morning, I shall wish you good night,
    and try to get a little sleep myself, if Lord George Macbeth
    has not murdered it all. I own I shall not soon forget the
    sight I saw from the top of Gloucester House.

                                “Thursday morning, after breakfast.

    “I do not know whether to call the horrors of the night greater
    or less than I thought. My printer, who has been out all
    night, and on the spots of action, says, not above a dozen
    were killed at the Royal Exchange, some few elsewhere; at the
    King’s Bench, he does not know how many; but in other respects
    the calamities are dreadful. He saw many houses set on fire,
    women and children screaming, running out of doors with what
    they could save, and knocking one another down with their loads
    in the confusion. Barnard’s Inn is burnt, and some houses,
    mistaken for Catholic. Kirgate[82] says most of the rioters
    are apprentices, and plunder and drink have been their chief
    objects, and both women and men are still lying dead drunk
    about the streets: brandy is preferable to enthusiasm. I trust
    many more troops will arrive to-day. What families ruined! What
    wretched wives and mothers! What public disgrace!--ay! and
    where, and when, and how will all this confusion end! and what
    shall we be when it is concluded? I remember the Excise and the
    Gin Act, and the rebels at Derby, and Wilkes’s interlude, and
    the French at Plymouth; or I should have a very bad memory; but
    I never till last night saw London and Southwark in flames!

                                                     “After dinner.

    “It is a moment, Madam, when to be surprised is not surprising.
    But what will you say to the House of Commons meeting by twelve
    o’clock to-day, and adjourning, ere fifty members were arrived,
    to Monday se’nnight! So adieu all government but the sword!

    “Will your Ladyship give me credit when I heap contradictions
    on absurdities--will you believe such confusion and calamities,
    and yet think there is no consternation? Well, only hear. My
    niece, Mrs. Keppel, with her three daughters, drove since noon
    over Westminster Bridge, through St. George’s Fields, where the
    King’s Bench is smoking, over London Bridge, passed the Bank,
    and came the whole length of the City! They have been here, and
    say the people _look_ very unquiet; but can one imagine that
    they would be smiling? Old Lady Albemarle, who followed me in a
    few minutes from Gloucester House, was robbed at Mrs. Keppel’s
    door in Pall Mall, between ten and eleven, by a horseman.
    Sparrow, one of the delivered convicts, who was to have been
    hanged this morning, is said to have been shot yesterday as he
    was spiriting up the rioters. Kirgate has just heard in the
    Park, that the Protestant Association disavow the seditious,
    and will take up arms against them. If we are saved, it will be
    so as by fire.

    “I shall return to my own castle to-morrow: I had not above
    four hours’ sleep last night, and must get some rest. General
    Conway is enraged at the adjournment, and will go away too.
    Many coaches and chaises did leave London yesterday. My
    intelligence will not be so good nor so immediate; but you will
    not want correspondents. Disturbances are threatened again for
    to-night; and some probably will happen, but there are more
    troops, and less alacrity in the outlaws.

                           “Berkeley Square, June 9, at noon, 1780.

    “All has been quiet to-night, as far as we know in this region;
    but not without blood being spilt yesterday. The rioters
    attacked the Horse Guards about six in Fleet Street, and, not
    giving them time to load, were repelled by the bayonet. Twenty
    fell, thirty-five were wounded and sent to the hospital, where
    two died directly. Three of the Guards were wounded, and a
    young officer named Marjoribank. Mr. Conway’s footman told me
    he was on a message at Lord Amherst’s when the Guards returned,
    and that their bayonets were steeped in blood.

    “I heard, too, at my neighbour Duchess’s, whither I went at
    one in the morning, that the Protestant Associators, disguised
    with blue cockades as friends, had fallen on the rioters in
    St. George’s Fields, and killed many. I do not warrant the
    truth, but I did hear often in the evening that there had
    been slaughter in the Borough, where a great public-house
    had been destroyed, and a house at Redriffe, and another at
    Islington. Zeal has entirely thrown off the mask, and owned its
    name--plunder. Its offspring have extorted money from several
    houses with threats of firing them as Catholic. Apprentices and
    Irish chairmen, and all kinds of outlaws, have been the most
    active. Some hundreds are actually dead about the streets, with
    the spirits they plundered at the distiller’s; the low women
    knelt and sucked them as they ran from the staved casks.

    “It was reported last night that the primate, George Gordon,
    is fled to Scotland: for aught I know he may not be so far off
    as Grosvenor Place. All is rumour and exaggeration; and yet
    it would be difficult to exaggerate the horrors of Wednesday
    night; a town taken by storm could alone exceed them.

    “I am going to Strawberry this instant, exhausted with fatigue,
    for I have certainly been on my feet longer these last
    eight-and-forty hours than in forty days before.…

    “Adieu! Madam; allow my pen a few holidays, unless the storm
    recommences.”

On hearing that Lord George Gordon had been arrested, he writes again:

                            “Strawberry Hill, Saturday night, late.

    “Was not I cruelly out of luck, Madam, to have been fishing in
    troubled waters for two days for your Ladyship’s entertainment,
    and to have come away very few hours before the great pike was
    hooked? Well, to drop metaphor, here are Garth’s lines reversed,

        ‘Thus little villains oft submit to fate,
        That great ones may enjoy the world in state.’

    Four convicts on the eve of execution are let loose from
    Newgate, and Lord George Gordon is sent to the Tower. If he
    is hanged, the old couplet will recover its credit, for Mr.
    Wedderburn is Chief Justice.

    “I flatter myself I shall receive a line from your Ladyship
    to-morrow morning: I am impatient to hear what you think of
    _black Wednesday_. I know how much you must have been shocked,
    but I long to read your own expressions; when you answer, then
    one is conversing. My sensations are very different from what
    they were. While in the thick of the conflagration, I was all
    indignation and a thousand passions. Last night, when sitting
    silently alone, horror rose as I cooled; and grief succeeded,
    and then all kinds of gloomy presages. For some time people
    have said, where will all this end? I as often replied, where
    will it begin? It is now begun, with a dreadful overture; and
    I tremble to think what the chorus may be! The sword reigns
    at present, and saved the capital! What is to depose the
    sword?--Is it not to be feared, on the other hand, that other
    swords may be lifted up?--What probability that everything will
    subside quietly into the natural channel?--Nay, how narrow will
    that channel be, whenever the prospect is cleared by peace?
    What a dismal fragment of an empire! yet would that moment were
    come when we are to take a survey of our ruins! That moment
    I probably shall not see. When I rose this morning, I found
    the exertions I had made with such puny powers, had been far
    beyond what I could bear; I was too sick to go on with dressing
    myself. This evening I have been abroad, and you shall hear
    no more of it. I have been with Lady Di, at Richmond, where
    I found Lady Pembroke, Miss Herbert, and Mr. Brudenell. Lord
    Herbert is arrived. They told me the melancholy position of
    Lady Westmorland. She is sister of Lord George Gordon, and
    wife of Colonel Woodford, who is forced to conceal himself,
    having been the first officer who gave orders to the soldiers
    to fire, on the attack of Lord Mansfield’s house. How many
    still more deplorable calamities from the tragedy of this week
    that one shall never hear of! I will change my style, and, like
    an epilogue after a moving piece, divert you with a _bon-mot_
    of George Selwyn. He came to me yesterday morning from Lady
    Townshend, who, terrified by the fires of the preceding night,
    talked the language of the Court, instead of Opposition. He
    said she put him in mind of removed tradesmen, who hang out a
    board with, ‘Burnt out from over the way.’ Good-night, Madam,
    till I receive your letter.

                                         “Monday morning, the 12th.

    “Disappointed! disappointed! not a line from your Ladyship;
    I will not send away this till I hear from you. Last night,
    at Hampton Court, I heard of two Popish chapels demolished
    at Bath, and one at Bristol. My coachman has just been in
    Twickenham, and says half Bath is burnt; I trust this is but
    the natural progress of lies, that increase like a chairman’s
    legs by walking. Mercy on us! we seem to be plunging into
    the horrors of France, in the reigns of Charles VI. and
    VII.!--yet, as extremes meet, there is at this moment amazing
    insensibility. Within these four days I have received five
    applications for tickets to see my house! One from a set of
    company who fled from town to avoid the tumults and fires. I
    suppose Æneas lost Creüsa by her stopping at Sadlers’ Wells.

                                                             “13th.

    “The letter I have this moment received is so kind, Madam,
    that it effaces all disappointment. Indeed, my impatience made
    me forget that no post comes in here on Mondays. To-day’s
    letters from town mention no disturbance at Bristol or anywhere
    else. Every day gained is considerable, at least will be so
    when there has been time for the history of last week to have
    spread, and intelligence from the distant counties to be
    returned. All I have heard to-day is of some alteration to be
    made to the Riot Act, that Lord George cannot be tried this
    month, and that the King will go to the House on Monday. I will
    now answer what is necessary in your Ladyship’s and take my
    leave, for, as you observe, the post arrives late, and I have
    other letters that I must answer. Mr. Williams interrupted me,
    and has added a curious anecdote,--and a horrible one, to my
    collection of the late events. One project of the diabolical
    incendiaries was to let loose the lions in the Tower, and the
    lunatics in Bedlam. The latter might be from a fellow-feeling
    in Lord George, but cannibals do not invite wild beasts to
    their banquets. The Princess Daskiou will certainly communicate
    the thought to her mistress and accomplice, the Legislatress of
    Russia.

    “P.S. I like an ironic sentence in yesterday’s _London
    Courant_, which says, all our grievances are _red-dressed_.”

To complete the misfortunes of these years, Walpole lost his “blind old
woman” in the autumn of 1780. Under date October 9th, he writes from
Strawberry Hill to Mann:

    “I have heard from Paris of the death of my dear old friend
    Madame du Deffand, whom I went so often thither to see. It
    was not quite unexpected, and was softened by her great age,
    eighty-four, which forbad distant hopes; and, by what I dreaded
    more than her death, her increasing deafness, which, had it
    become, like her blindness, total, would have been living after
    death. Her memory only _began_ to impair; her amazing sense and
    quickness, not at all. I have written to her once a week for
    these last fifteen years, as correspondence and conversation
    could be her only pleasures. You see that I am the most
    faithful letter-writer in the world--and, alas! never see those
    I am so constant to! One is forbidden common-place reflections
    on these misfortunes, because they _are_ common-place; but is
    not that, because they are natural? But your never having known
    that dear old woman is a better reason for not making you the
    butt of my concern.”

Three weeks later we have the following from London to Lady Ossory:

    “As I have been returned above a fortnight, I should have
    written had I had a syllable to tell you; but what could I tell
    you from that melancholy and very small circle at Twickenham
    Park, almost the only place I do go to in the country,
    partly out of charity, and partly as I have scarce any other
    society left which I prefer to it; for, without entering
    on too melancholy a detail, recollect, Madam, that I have
    outlived most of those to whom I was habituated, Lady Hervey,
    Lady Suffolk, Lady Blandford--my dear old friend [Madame du
    Deffand], I should probably never have seen again--yet that
    is a deeper loss, indeed! She has left me all her MSS.--a
    compact between us--in one word I had, at her earnest request,
    consented to accept them, on condition she should leave me
    nothing else. She had, indeed, intended to leave me her little
    all, but I declared I would never set foot in Paris again
    (this was ten years ago) if she did not engage to retract that
    destination. To satisfy her, I at last agreed to accept her
    papers, and one thin gold box with the portrait of her dog. I
    have written to beg her dog itself, which is so cross, that I
    am sure nobody else would treat it well; and I have ordered
    her own servant, who read all letters to her, to pick out all
    the letters of living persons, and restore them to the several
    writers without my seeing them.”

Walpole’s liking for accomplished French women like Madame du Deffand
was equalled by his dislike of the English “Blue-stockings.” At the
beginning of 1781, he seems to have been a good deal in company with
the latter, and we have some amusing passages: “I met Mrs. Montagu
t’other night at a visit. She said she had been alone the whole
preceding day, _quite hermetically sealed_--I was very glad she was
uncorked, or I might have missed that piece of learned nonsense.… I was
much diverted with your setting Mrs. Montagu on her head, which indeed
she does herself without the help of Hermes. She is one of my principal
entertainments at Mrs. Vesey’s, who collects all the graduates and
candidates for fame, where they vie with one another, till they are as
unintelligible as the good folks at Babel.”

    “Mr. Gilpin[83] talks of my researches, which makes me smile; I
    know, as Gray would have said, how little I have _researched_,
    and what slender pretensions are mine to so pompous a term.
    Apropos to Gray, Johnson’s ‘Life,’ or rather criticism on his
    Odes, is come out; a most wretched, dull, tasteless, _verbal_
    criticism--yet, timid too. But he makes amends, he admires
    Thomson and Akenside, and Sir Richard Blackmore, and has
    reprinted Dennis’s ‘Criticism on Cato,’ to save time, and swell
    his pay. In short, as usual, he has proved that he has no more
    ear than taste. Mrs. Montagu and all her Mænades intend to tear
    him limb from limb for despising their moppet Lord Lyttelton.”

       *       *       *       *       *

    “I saw Dr. Johnson last night at Lady Lucan’s, who had
    assembled a _blue-stocking_ meeting in imitation of Mrs.
    Vesey’s Babels. It was so blue, it was quite Mazarine-blue.
    Mrs. Montagu kept aloof from Johnson, like the West from the
    East. There were Soame Jenyns, _Persian_ Jones, Mr. Sherlocke,
    the new court with Mr. Courtenay, besides the out-pensioners of
    Parnassus. Mr. Wraxall[84] was not, I wonder why, and so will
    he, for he is popping into every spot where he can make himself
    talked of, by talking of himself; but I hear he will come to an
    untimely beginning in the House of Commons.”



CHAPTER VIII.

    Walpole in his Sixty-fourth Year.--The Royal
    Academy.--Tonton.--Charles Fox.--William Pitt.--Mrs. Hobart’s
    _Sans Souci_.--Improvements at Florence.--Walpole’s Dancing
    Feats.--No Feathers at Court.--Highwaymen.--Loss of the _Royal
    George_.--Mrs. Siddons.--Peace.--Its Social Consequences.--The
    Coalition.--The Rivals.--Political Excitement.--The Westminster
    Election.--Political Caricatures.--Conway’s Retirement.--Lady
    Harrington.--Balloons.--Illness.--Recovery.


“I never remonstrate against the behests of Dame Prudence, though a
lady I never got acquainted with till near my grand climacteric.”
So wrote Horace soon after passing the mystic period, compounded of
seven and nine, which was once regarded as the topmost round in the
ladder of human life. He would have his correspondents believe that
his attention to the dame’s commands was not very regular at first.
In the spring of 1781, he is able to report to Conway, “My health is
most flourishing for me.” Accordingly, he goes about a good deal, and
enjoys a sort of rejuvenescence. Of course, he visits the Exhibition of
the Royal Academy at Somerset House, where Reynolds’s picture of the
Ladies Waldegrave was shown. “The Exhibition,” he writes to Mason, “is
much inferior to last year’s;[85] nobody shines there but Sir Joshua
and Gainsborough. The head of the former’s Dido is very fine; I do
not admire the rest of the piece. His Lord Richard Cavendish is bold
and stronger than he ever coloured. The picture of my three nieces is
charming. Gainsborough has two pieces with land and sea, so free and
natural that one steps back for fear of being splashed. The back front
of the Academy is handsome, but like the other to the street, the
members are so heavy, that one cannot stand back enough to see it in
any proportion, unless in a barge moored in the middle of the Thames.”
The same day, May 6, he writes to Conway from Strawberry Hill:

    “Though it is a bitter north-east, I came hither to-day to look
    at my lilacs, though _à la glace_; and to get from pharaoh,
    for which there is a rage. I doated on it above thirty years
    ago; but it is not decent to sit up all night now with boys and
    girls. My nephew, Lord Cholmondeley, the banker _à la mode_,
    has been demolished. He and his associate, Sir Willoughby
    Aston, went early t’other night to Brooks’s, before Charles Fox
    and Fitzpatrick, who keep a bank there, were come; but they
    soon arrived, attacked their rivals, broke their bank, and
    won above four thousand pounds. ‘There,’ said Fox, ‘so should
    all usurpers be served!’ He did still better; for he sent for
    his tradesmen, and paid as far as the money would go. In the
    mornings he continues his war on Lord North, but cannot break
    _that_ bank.…

    “I told you in my last that Tonton was arrived. I brought him
    this morning to take possession of his new villa, but his
    inauguration has not been at all pacific. As he has already
    found out that he may be as despotic as at St. Joseph’s,
    he began with exiling my beautiful little cat; upon which,
    however, we shall not quite agree. He then flew at one of my
    dogs, who returned it by biting his foot till it bled, but was
    severely beaten for it. I immediately rung for Margaret to
    dress his foot; but in the midst of my tribulation could not
    keep my countenance; for she cried, ‘Poor little thing, he does
    not understand my language!’ I hope she will not recollect,
    too, that he is a Papist!”

[Illustration: _Sir Joshua Reynolds. Pinx._ _A. Dawson. Ph. Sc._ _S. W.
Reynolds. Sc._

_Sir Joshua Reynolds._]

We have a further anecdote of Charles Fox told a few days later, also
in a letter to Conway:

    “I had been to see if Lady Aylesbury was come to town: as
    I came up St. James’s Street, I saw a cart and porters at
    Charles’s door; coppers and old chests of drawers loading. In
    short, his success at faro has awakened his host of creditors;
    but unless his bank has swelled to the size of the Bank of
    England, it could not have yielded a sop apiece for each.
    Epsom, too, had been unpropitious; and one creditor has
    actually seized and carried off his goods, which did not seem
    worth removing. As I returned full of this scene, whom should
    I find sauntering by my own door but Charles? He came up, and
    talked to me at the coach-window on the Marriage Bill,[86]
    with as much _sang-froid_ as if he knew nothing of what had
    happened. I have no admiration for insensibility to one’s own
    faults, especially when committed out of vanity. Perhaps the
    whole philosophy consisted in the commission. If _you_ could
    have been as much to blame, the last thing you would bear well
    would be your own reflections. The more marvellous Fox’s parts
    are, the more one is provoked at his follies, which comfort so
    many rascals and blockheads, and make all that is admirable and
    amiable in him only matter of regret to those who like him as I
    do.[87]

    “I did intend to settle at Strawberry on Sunday; but must
    return on Thursday, for a party made at Marlborough House for
    Princess Amelia. I am continually tempted to retire entirely;
    and should, if I did not see how very unfit English tempers are
    for living quite out of the world. We grow abominably peevish
    and severe on others, if we are not constantly rubbed against
    and polished by them. I need not name friends and relations of
    yours and mine as instances. My prophecy on the short reign
    of faro is verified already. The bankers find that all the
    calculated advantages of the game do not balance pinchbeck
    _parolis_ and debts of honourable women. The bankers, I think,
    might have had a previous and more generous reason, the very
    bad air of holding a bank:--but this country is as hardened
    against the _petite morale_, as against the greater.--What
    should I think of the world if I quitted it entirely?”

Again a few days, and we come upon an early mention of the youthful
William Pitt: “The young William Pitt has again displayed paternal
oratory. The other day, on the Commission of Accounts, he answered Lord
North, and tore him limb from limb. If Charles Fox could feel, one
should think such a rival, with an unspotted character, would rouse
him. What if a Pitt and Fox should again be rivals!” Some time later,
Walpole asks Lady Ossory: “Apropos of _bon-mots_, has our lord told
you that George Selwyn calls Mr. Fox and Mr. Pitt ‘the idle and the
industrious apprentices’? If he has not, I am sure you will thank me,
Madam.”

In the summer of 1781, Horace has a touch of rheumatism, but still he
keeps up his juvenile tone. Witness the two following letters to Lady
Ossory:

                                    “Strawberry Hill, July 7, 1781.

    “You must be, or will be, tired of my letters, Madam; every one
    is a contradiction to the last; there is alternately a layer of
    complaints, and a layer of foolish spirits. To-day the wind is
    again in the dolorous corner. For these four days I have been
    confined with a pain and swelling in my face. The apothecary
    says it is owing to the long drought; but as I should not eat
    grass were there ever such plenty, and as my cows, though
    starving, have no swelled cheeks, I do not believe him. I
    humbly attribute my frequent disorders to my longevity, and to
    that Proteus the gout, who is not the less himself for being
    incog. Excuses I have worn out, and, therefore, will not make
    any for not obeying your kind invitation again to Ampthill. I
    can only say, I go nowhere, even when Tonton is invited--except
    to balls--and yet though I am the last Vestris that has
    appeared, Mrs. Hobart did not invite me to her _Sans Souci_
    last week, though she had all my other juvenile contemporaries,
    Lady Berkeley, Lady Fitzroy, Lady Margaret Compton, and Mrs.
    French, etc. Perhaps you do not know that the lady of the
    _fête_, having made as many conquests as the King of Prussia,
    has borrowed the name of that hero’s villa for her hut on Ham
    Common, where she has built two large rooms of timber under a
    cabbage. Her field officers, General French, General Compton,
    etc., were sweltered in the ball-room, and then frozen at
    supper in tents on the grass. She herself, as intrepid as King
    Frederic, led the ball, though dying of the toothache, which
    she had endeavoured to drown in laudanum; but she has kept her
    bed ever since the campaign ended.

    “This is all I know in the world, for the war seems to have
    taken laudanum too, and to keep its bed.

    “I have received a letter to-day from Sir Horace Mann, who
    tells me the Great-Duke has been making _wondrous improvements_
    at Florence. He has made a passage through the Tribune, and
    built a brave new French room of stucco in white and gold,
    and placed the Niobe in it; but as everybody is tired of her
    telling her old story, she and all the Master and Miss Niobes
    are orderly disposed round the chamber, and if anybody asks
    who they are, I suppose they answer, Francis Charles Ferdinand
    Ignatius Neopomucenus, or Maria Theresa Christina Beatrice,
    etc. Well, Madam, have I any cause to sigh that the pictures at
    Houghton are transported to the North Pole, if the Tribune at
    Florence is demolished by Vandals, and Niobe and her progeny
    dance a _cotillon_? O sublunary grandeur, short-lived as a
    butterfly! We smile at a clown who graves the initials of his
    name, or the shape of his shoe, on the leads of a church, in
    hopes of being remembered, and yet he is as much known as king
    I don’t know whom, who built the Pyramids to eternise his
    memory. Methinks Anacreon was the only sensible philosopher.
    If I loved wine, and should look well in a chaplet of roses,
    I would crown myself with flowers, and go tipsy to bed every
    night _sans souci_.

                                                    “July 25, 1781.

    “Poor human nature, what a contradiction it is! to-day it is
    all rheumatism and morality, and sits with a death’s head
    before it: to-morrow it is dancing!--Oh! my Lady, my Lady,
    what will you say, when the next thing you hear of me after
    my last letter is, that I have danced three country-dances
    with a whole set, forty years younger than myself! Shall not
    you think I have been chopped to shreds and boiled in Medea’s
    kettle? Shall not you expect to see a print of Vestris teaching
    me?--and Lord Brudenell dying with envy? You may stare with all
    your expressive eyes, yet the fact is true. Danced--I do not
    absolutely say, _danced_--but I swam down three dances very
    gracefully, with the air that was so much in fashion after
    the battle of Oudenarde, and that was still taught when I was
    fifteen, and that I remember General Churchill practising
    before a glass in a gouty shoe.

    “To be sure you die with impatience to know the particulars.
    You must know then--for all my revels must out--I not only
    went five miles to Lady Aylesford’s ball last Friday, but my
    nieces, the Waldegraves, desired me there to let them come to
    me for a few days, as they had been disappointed about a visit
    they were to make at another place; but that is neither here
    nor there. Well, here they are, and last night we went to Lady
    Hertford at Ditton. Soon after, Lady North and her daughters
    arrived, and besides Lady Elizabeth and Lady Bell Conways,
    there were their brothers Hugh and George. All the _jeunesse_
    strolled about the garden. We ancients, with the Earl and
    Colonel Keene, retired from the dew into the drawing-room. Soon
    after, the two youths and seven nymphs came in, and shut the
    door of the hall. In a moment, we heard a burst of laughter,
    and thought we distinguished something like the scraping of a
    fiddle. My curiosity was raised, I opened the door, and found
    four couples and a half standing up, and a miserable violin
    from the ale-house. ‘Oh,’ said I, ‘Lady Bell shall not want a
    partner;’ I threw away my stick, and _me voilà dansant comme un
    charme_! At the end of the third dance, Lord North and his son,
    in boots, arrived. ‘Come,’ said I, ‘my Lord, you may dance, if
    I have’--but it ended in my _resigning my place_ to his son.

    “Lady North has invited us for to-morrow, and I shall reserve
    the rest of my letter for the second volume of my regeneration;
    however, I declare I will not _dance_. I will not make myself
    too cheap; I should have the Prince of Wales sending for me
    three or four times a week to hops in Eastcheap. As it is, I
    feel I shall have some difficulty to return to my old dowagers,
    at the Duchess of Montrose’s, and shall be humming the
    Hempdressers, when they are scolding me for playing in flush.

                                                 “Friday, the 27th.

    “I am not only a prophet, but have more command of my passions
    than such impetuous gentry as prophets are apt to have. We
    found the fiddles as I foretold; and yet I kept my resolution
    and did _not_ dance, though the Sirens invited me, and though
    it would have shocked the dignity of old Tiffany Ellis, who
    would have thought it an indecorum. The two younger Norths and
    Sir Ralph Payne supplied my place. I played at cribbage with
    the matrons, and we came away at midnight. So if I now and then
    do cut a colt’s tooth, I have it drawn immediately. I do not
    know a paragraph of news--the nearer the minister, the farther
    from politics.

    “P.S. My next jubilee dancing shall be with Lady Gertrude.”

Not long after the date of these letters, Mann sends news of further
improvements at Florence. Walpole answers:

    “The decree[88] 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.”

The frequency of highway robberies only a century ago sounds surprising
to the present generation. Horace recounts to Lady Ossory an adventure
of this kind which befell him and his friend and neighbour, Lady
Browne, in the autumn of this jovial 1781:

    “The night I had the honour of writing to your Ladyship last, I
    was robbed--and, as if I were a sovereign or a nation, have had
    a discussion ever since whether it was not a _neighbour_ who
    robbed me--and should it come to the ears of the newspapers, it
    might produce as ingenious a controversy amongst our anonymous
    wits as any of the noble topics I have been mentioning.
    _Voici le fait._ Lady Browne and I were, as usual, going to
    the Duchess of Montrose at seven o’clock. The evening was
    very dark. In the close lane under her park-pale, and within
    twenty yards of the gate, a black figure on horseback pushed
    by between the chaise and the hedge on my side. I suspected
    it was a highwayman, and so I found did Lady Browne, for she
    was speaking and stopped. To divert her fears, I was just
    going to say, Is not that the apothecary going to the Duchess?
    when I heard a voice cry ‘Stop!’ and the figure came back to
    the chaise. I had the presence of mind, before I let down the
    glass, to take out my watch and stuff it within my waistcoat
    under my arm. He said, ‘Your purses and watches!’ I replied,
    ‘I have no watch.’ ‘Then your purse!’ I gave it to him; it
    had nine guineas. It was so dark that I could not see his
    hand, but felt him take it. He then asked for Lady Browne’s
    purse, and said, ‘Don’t be frightened; I will not hurt you.’
    I said, ‘No; you won’t frighten the lady?’ He replied, ‘No; I
    give you my word I will do you no hurt.’ Lady Browne gave him
    her purse, and was going to add her watch, but he said, ‘I am
    much obliged to you! I wish you good-night!’ pulled off his
    hat, and rode away. ‘Well,’ said I, ‘Lady Browne, you will
    not be afraid of being robbed another time, for you see there
    is nothing in it.’ ‘Oh! but I am,’ said she, ‘and now I am in
    terrors lest he should return, for I have given him a purse
    with only bad money that I carry on purpose.’ ‘He certainly
    will not open it directly,’ said I, ‘and at worst he can only
    wait for us at our return; but I will send my servant back for
    a horse and a blunderbuss,’ which I did. The next distress was
    not to terrify the Duchess, who is so paralytic and nervous. I
    therefore made Lady Browne go into the parlour, and desired one
    of the Duchess’s servants to get her a glass of water, while I
    went into the drawing-room to break it to the Duchess. ‘Well,’
    said I, laughing to her and the rest of the company, ‘you won’t
    get much from us to-night.’ ‘Why,’ said one of them, ‘have you
    been robbed?’ ‘Yes, a little,’ said I. The Duchess trembled;
    but it went off. Her groom of the chambers said not a word, but
    slipped out, and Lady Margaret and Miss Howe having servants
    there on horseback, he gave them pistols and despatched them
    different ways. This was exceedingly clever, for he knew the
    Duchess would not have suffered it, as lately he had detected
    a man who had robbed her garden, and she would not allow him
    to take up the fellow. These servants spread the story, and
    when my footman arrived on foot, he was stopped in the street
    by the ostler of the ‘George,’ who told him the highwayman’s
    horse was then in the stable; but this part I must reserve
    for the second volume, for I have made this no story so long
    and so tedious that your Ladyship will not be able to read
    it in a breath; and the second part is so much longer and so
    much less, contains so many examinations of witnesses, so many
    contradictions in the depositions, which I have taken myself,
    and, I must confess, with such abilities and shrewdness that
    I have found out nothing at all, that I think to defer the
    prosecution of my narrative till all the other inquisitions on
    the anvil are liquidated, lest your Ladyship’s head, strong as
    it is, should be confounded, and you should imagine that Rodney
    or Ferguson was the person who robbed us in Twickenham Lane. I
    would not have detailed the story at all, if you were not in a
    forest, where it will serve to put you to sleep as well as a
    newspaper full of lies; and I am sure there is as much dignity
    in it as in the combined fleet, and ours, popping in and out
    alternately, like a man and woman in a weather-house.”

A few months later he writes to his Countess:

                                   “Strawberry Hill, Aug. 31, 1782.

    “It is very strange indeed, Madam, that you should make me
    excuses for writing, or think that I have anything better, or
    even more urgent, to do than to read your letters. It is very
    true that the Duchess de la Vallière, in a hand which I could
    not decypher, has recommended Count Soltikoff and his wife to
    me: but, oh! my shame, I have not yet seen them. I did mean to
    go to town to-day on purpose, but I have had the gout in my
    right eyelid, and it was swelled yesterday as big as a walnut;
    being now shrunk to less than a pistachio, I propose in two
    or three days to make my appearance. Luckily the Countess was
    born in England, the daughter of the former Czernichew, and she
    is in such terrors of highwaymen, that I shall be quit for a
    breakfast; so it is an ill highwayman that blows nobody good.
    In truth, it would be impossible, in this region, to amass a
    set of company for dinner to meet them. The Hertfords, Lady
    Holdernesse, and Lady Mary Coke did dine here on Thursday, but
    were armed as if going to Gibraltar; and Lady Cecilia Johnston
    would not venture even from Petersham--for in the town of
    Richmond they rob even before dusk--to such perfection are all
    the arts brought! Who would have thought that the war with
    America would make it impossible to stir from one village to
    another? yet so it literally is. The Colonies took off all our
    commodities down to highwaymen. Now being forced to mew, and
    then turn them out, like pheasants, the roads are stocked with
    them, and they are so tame that they even come into houses.

    “I have just been reading a most entertaining book, which I
    will recommend to you, as you are grown antiquaries: I don’t
    know whether it is published yet, for the author sent it to me.
    Part was published some time ago in the ‘Archæologia,’ and is
    almost the only paper in that mass of rubbish that has a grain
    of common sense. It is ‘Mr. E. King on ancient Castles.’ You
    will see how comfortably and delectably our potent ancestors
    lived, when in the constant state of war to which we are
    coming. Earls, barons, and their fair helpmates lived pell-mell
    in dark dungeons with their own soldiers, as the poorest
    cottagers do now with their pigs. I shall repent decking
    Strawberry so much, if I must turn it into a garrison.

    “Mr. Vernon was your Ladyship’s informant about the Soltikoffs;
    but he gave me more credit for my intended civilities than
    I deserved. The French do not conceive, when they address
    strangers to us, that we do not at all live in their style.
    It is no trouble to them, who have miscellaneous dinners or
    suppers, to ask one or two more; nor are they at any expense
    in language, as everybody speaks French. In the private way
    in which I live, it is troublesome to give a formal dinner to
    foreigners, and more so to find company for them in a circle
    of dowagers, who would only jabber English scandal out of the
    _Morning Post_.…

    “Just this moment I hear the shocking loss of the _Royal
    George_! Admiral Kempenfelt is a loss indeed; but I confess I
    feel more for the hundreds of poor babes who have lost their
    parents! If one grows ever so indifferent, some new calamity
    calls one back to this deplorable war! If one is willing to
    content one’s self, in a soaking autumn, with a match broken,
    or with the death of a Prince Duodecimus, a clap of thunder
    awakens one, and one hears that Britain herself has lost an arm
    or a leg. I have been expecting a deluge, and a famine, and
    such casualties as enrich a Sir Richard Baker; but we have all
    King David’s options at once! and what was his option before he
    was anointed, freebooting too?

    “Drowned as we are, the country never was in such beauty; the
    herbage and leafage are luxurious. The Thames gives itself
    Rhone airs, and almost foams; it is none of your home-brewed
    rivers that Mr. Brown makes with a spade and a watering-pot.
    Apropos, Mr. Duane,[89] like a good housewife, in the middle
    of his grass-plot, has planted a pump and a watering-trough
    for his cow, and I suppose on Saturdays dries his towels and
    neckcloths on his orange-trees; but I must have done, or the
    post will be gone.”

At the end of 1782, Mrs. Siddons was the talk of the town. Prejudiced
as Walpole was apt to be in his judgments of actors, as of authors, his
impressions of this famous actress will be read with interest:

    “I have been for two days in town, and seen Mrs. Siddons. She
    pleased me beyond my expectation, but not up to the admiration
    of the _ton_, two or three of whom were in the same box with
    me.… Mr. Crawford asked me if I did not think her the best
    actress I ever saw? I said, ‘By no means; we old folks were
    apt to be prejudiced in favour of our first impressions.’ She
    is a good figure, handsome enough, though neither nose nor chin
    according to the Greek standard, beyond which both advance a
    good deal. Her hair is either red, or she has no objection to
    its being thought so, and had used red powder. Her voice is
    clear and good; but I thought she did not vary its modulations
    enough, nor ever approach enough to the familiar--but this
    may come when more habituated to the awe of the audience of
    the capital. Her action is proper, but with little variety;
    when without motion, her arms are not genteel. Thus you see
    all my objections are very trifling; but what I really wanted,
    but did not find, was originality, which announces genius,
    and without both which I am never intrinsically pleased. All
    Mrs. Siddons did, good sense or good instruction might give.
    I dare to say, that were I one-and-twenty, I should have
    thought her marvellous; but alas! I remember Mrs. Porter and
    the Dumesnil--and remember every accent of the former in the
    very same part. Yet this is not entirely prejudice: don’t
    I equally recollect the whole progress of Lord Chatham and
    Charles Townshend, and does it hinder my thinking Mr. Fox a
    prodigy?--Pray don’t send him this paragraph too.”

Again:

    “Mrs. Siddons continues to be the mode, and to be modest and
    sensible. She declines great dinners, and says her business
    and the cares of her family take up her whole time. When Lord
    Carlisle carried her the tribute-money from Brooks’s, he said
    she was not _maniérée_ enough. ‘I suppose she was grateful,’
    said my niece, Lady Maria. Mrs. Siddons was desired to play
    ‘Medea’ and ‘Lady Macbeth.’--‘No,’ she replied ‘she did not
    look on them as female characters.’ She was questioned about
    her transactions with Garrick: she said, ‘He did nothing but
    put her out; that he told her she moved her right hand when it
    should have been her left. In short,’ said she, ‘I found I must
    not shade the tip of his nose.’”

The war was now over. Lord North had fallen; his successor, Lord
Rockingham, was dead; and Lord Shelburne, who had grasped the helm in
spite of Fox, had to meet the demands of the victorious Colonists and
their French allies, with the certainty that whatever he arranged would
be distasteful to his countrymen, and bitterly opposed by the partisans
both of his rival and of North. With the first weeks of 1783 came news
of peace. Horace writes about it, in almost the same words, to Mann
and Lady Ossory, his two chief correspondents at this time: “Peace is
arrived. I cannot express how glad I am. I care not a straw what the
terms are, which I believe I know more imperfectly than anybody in
London. I am not apt to love details--my wish was to have peace, and
the next to see America secure of its liberty. Whether it will make
good use of it, is another point. It has an opportunity that never
occurred in the world before, of being able to select the best parts of
every known constitution; but I suppose it will not, as too prejudiced
against royalty to adopt it, even as a corrective of aristocracy and
democracy.” He anticipates that highway robberies will grow more daring
on the disbanding of troops, and that there will be an inundation of
French visitors. In less than six months he was able to boast that both
his prophecies had been fulfilled. In June, he describes how, on a dark
and rainy night, Strawberry Hill was invaded by the French Ambassador
at the head of a large party:

    “Of all houses upon earth, mine, from the painted glass and
    over-hanging trees, wants the sun the most; besides the Star
    Chamber and passage being obscured on purpose to raise the
    Gallery. They ran their foreheads against Henry VII., and
    took the grated door of the Tribune for the dungeon of the
    castle. I mustered all the candlesticks in the house, but
    before they could be lighted up, the young ladies, who, by the
    way, are extremely natural, agreeable, and civil, were seized
    with a panic of highwaymen, and wanted to go. I laughed, and
    said, I believed there was no danger, for that I had not been
    robbed these two years. However, I was not quite in the right;
    they were stopped in Knightsbridge by two footpads, but Lady
    Pembroke having lent them a servant besides their own, they
    escaped.”

Shortly afterwards he writes to Mann:

    “We have swarms of French daily; but they come as if they had
    laid wagers that there is no such place as England, and only
    wanted to verify its existence, or that they had a mind to
    dance a minuet on English ground; for they turn on their heel
    the moment after landing. Three came to see this house last
    week, and walked through it literally while I wrote eight lines
    of a letter; for I heard them go up the stairs, and heard
    them go down, exactly in the time I was finishing no longer a
    paragraph. It were happy for me had nobody more curiosity than
    a Frenchman; who is never struck with anything but what he has
    seen every day at Paris. I am tormented all day and every day
    by people that come to see my house, and have no enjoyment of
    it in summer. It would be even in vain to say that the plague
    is here. I remember such a report in London when I was a child,
    and my uncle, Lord Townshend, then Secretary of State, was
    forced to send guards to keep off the crowd from the house in
    which the plague was said to be; they would go and _see_ the
    plague!”

Walpole apologises to his diplomatic correspondent for dwelling on
such trifling topics. “The Peace,” he says, “has closed the chapter
of important news, which was all our correspondence lived on.” The
period of dulness and inaction, however, came to an end with the close
of the Parliamentary vacation. The Coalition Government of Fox and
Lord North, which had superseded Lord Shelburne in the spring, was now
fairly brought to the bar of public opinion. Walpole, who had offended
Fox’s adherents by the part he had played in the intrigues[90]
which followed on the death of Lord Rockingham, sought to retrieve
his character by an eager support of the new Administration. He was
loud in his praises of Fox’s masterly eloquence and strong sense.
He now disparages Fox’s chief opponent. “His competitor, Mr. Pitt,”
says Horace, “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.” The country at this
moment was agitated by the debates on Fox’s celebrated India Bill.
This measure was being carried by triumphant majorities through the
Lower House, and, as Walpole thought, the Opposition did not expect
to succeed even in the House of Lords. He goes so far as to add, “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.” This was written on the 5th of December, 1783. Ten
days later the India Bill was defeated in the House of Lords; the King
at once dismissed the Coalition; and before the end of the year Pitt
was installed as head of the Government, a position which he retained
for the rest of Walpole’s life. The struggle which the new Ministry had
to maintain for several weeks against an adverse majority in the House
of Commons is matter of familiar history which needs not here be dwelt
upon.

The intense excitement which these events created throughout the
country is faithfully reflected in Walpole’s correspondence. We find
them producing a rupture between him and his correspondent of many
years’ standing, the poet Mason, which was not healed till shortly
before the deaths of the parties. And in writing to Mann, Walpole
several times refers to the general ferment. Thus he says: “Politics
have engrossed all conversation, and stifled other events, if any
have happened. Indeed our ladies, who used to contribute to enliven
correspondence, are become politicians, and, as Lady Townley says,
‘squeeze a little too much lemon into conversation.’ They have been
called back a little to their own profession--dress, by a magnificent
ball which the Prince of Wales gave two nights ago to near six hundred
persons, to which the Amazons of both parties were invited; and not a
scratch was given or received.” Again, in announcing the dissolution
of Parliament: “All the island will be a scene of riot, and probably
of violence. The parties are not separated in gentle mood: there will,
they say, be contested elections everywhere: consequently vast expense
and animosities.… We have no private news at all. Indeed, politics are
all in all. I question whether any woman will have anything to do with
a man of a different party. Little girls say, ‘Pray, Miss, of which
side are you?’ I heard of one that said, ‘Mama and I cannot get Papa
over to our side!’… To the present drama, Elections, I shall totally
shut my ears. I hated elections forty years ago; and, when I went to
White’s, preferred a conversation on Newmarket to one on elections: for
the language of the former I did not understand, and, consequently,
did not listen to; the other, being uttered in common phrase, made me
attend, whether I would or not. When such subjects are on the tapis,
they make me a very insipid correspondent. One cannot talk of what one
does not care about; and it would be jargon to you, if I did: however,
do not imagine but I allow a sufficient quantity of dulness to my time
of life. I have kept up a correspondence with you with tolerable spirit
for three-and-forty years together, without our once meeting. Can you
wonder that my pen is worn to the stump? You see it does not abandon
you; nor, though conscious of its own decay, endeavour to veil it by
silence. The Archbishop of Gil Blas has long been a lesson to me to
watch over my own ruins; but I do not extend that jealousy of vanity
to commerce with an old friend. You knew me in my days of folly and
riotous spirit; why should I hide my dotage from you, which is not
equally my fault and reproach?”

[Illustration: _Sir Joshua Reynolds. Pinx._ _A. Dawson. Ph. Sc._ _G.
Keating. Sc._

_The Duchess of Devonshire._]

In the middle of the elections, Horace writes once more:

    “The scene is wofully changed for the Opposition, though
    not half the new Parliament is yet chosen. Though they
    still contest a very few counties and some boroughs, they
    own themselves totally defeated. They reckoned themselves
    sure of two hundred and forty members; they probably will
    not have an hundred and fifty; and, amongst them, not some
    capital leaders,--perhaps not the Commander-in-Chief, Mr. Fox,
    certainly not the late Commander-in-Chief of the Army, General
    Conway. In short, between the industry of the Court and the
    India Company, and that momentary frenzy that sometimes seizes
    a whole nation, as if it were a vast animal, such aversion to
    the Coalition and such a detestation of Mr. Fox have seized
    the country, that, even where omnipotent gold retains its
    influence, the elected pass through an ordeal of the most
    virulent abuse. The great Whig families, the Cavendishes,
    Rockinghams, Bedfords, have lost all credit in their own
    counties; nay, have been tricked out of seats where the whole
    property was their own; and in some of those cases a _royal_
    finger has too evidently tampered, as well as singularly and
    revengefully towards Lord North and Lord Hertford; the latter
    of whom, however, is likely to have six of his own sons[91]
    in the House of Commons--an extraordinary instance. Such a
    proscription, however, must have sown so deep resentment as it
    was not wise to provoke; considering that permanent fortune is
    a jewel that in no crown is the most to be depended upon!

    “When I have told you these certain truths, and when you must
    be aware that this torrent of unpopularity broke out in the
    capital, will it not sound like a contradiction if I affirm
    that Mr. Fox himself is still struggling to be chosen for
    Westminster, and maintains so sturdy a fight, that Sir Cecil
    Wray, his antagonist, is not yet three hundred ahead of him,
    though the Court exerts itself against him in the most violent
    manner, by mandates, arts, etc.--nay, sent at once a body
    of two hundred and eighty of the Guards to give their votes
    as householders, which _is_ legal, but which my father in
    the most quiet seasons would not have dared to do! At first,
    the contest threatened to be bloody: Lord Hood[92] being the
    third candidate, and on the side of the Court, a mob of three
    hundred sailors undertook to drive away the opponents; but
    the Irish chairmen,[93] being retained by Mr. Fox’s party,
    drove them back to their element, and cured the tars of their
    ambition of a naval victory. In truth, Mr. Fox has all the
    popularity in Westminster; and, indeed, is so amiable and
    winning, that, could he have stood in person all over England,
    I question whether he would not have carried the Parliament.
    The beldams hate him; but most of the pretty women in London
    are indefatigable in making interest for him, the Duchess of
    Devonshire in particular.[94] I am ashamed to say how coarsely
    she has been received by some worse than tars! But me nothing
    has shocked so much as what I heard this morning: at Dover they
    roasted a poor _fox_ alive by the most diabolic allegory!--a
    savage meanness that an Iroquois would not have committed.
    Base, cowardly wretches! How much nobler to have hurried to
    London and torn Mr. Fox himself piecemeal! I detest a country
    inhabited by such stupid barbarians. I will write no more
    to-night; I am in a passion!”

A fortnight later he adds:

    “Most elections are over; and, if they were not, neither you
    nor I care about such details. I have no notion of filling
    one’s head with circumstances of which, in six weeks, one is to
    discharge it for ever. Indeed, it is well that I live little
    in the world, or I should be obliged to provide myself with
    that viaticum for common conversation. Our ladies are grown
    such vehement politicians, that no other topic is admissible;
    nay, I do not know whether _you_ must not learn our politics
    for the _conversationi_ at Florence,--at least, if Paris gives
    the _ton_ to Italy, as it used to do. There are as warm
    parties for Mr. Fox or Mr. Pitt at Versailles and Amsterdam
    as in Westminster. At the first, I suppose, they exhale in
    epigrams; are expressed at the second by case-knives; at the
    last they vent themselves in deluges of satiric prints,[95]
    though with no more wit than there is in a case-knife. I was
    told last night that our engraved pasquinades for this winter,
    at twelvepence or sixpence a-piece, would cost six or seven
    pounds.”

In the result, Fox was returned, but Conway lost his seat. Walpole
congratulates the latter on his retirement from public life:

                          “Berkeley Square, Wednesday, May 5, 1784.

    “Your cherries, for aught I know, may, like Mr. Pitt, be half
    ripe before others are in blossom; but at Twickenham, I am
    sure, I could find dates and pomegranates on the quickset
    hedges, as soon as a cherry in swaddling-clothes on my walls.
    The very leaves on the horse-chesnuts are little things, that
    cry and are afraid of the north wind, and cling to the bough
    as if _old poker_ was coming to take them away. For my part,
    I have seen nothing like spring but a chimney-sweeper’s
    garland; and yet I have been three days in the country--and the
    consequence was, that I was glad to come back to town.

    “I do not wonder that you feel differently; anything is warmth
    and verdure when compared to poring over memorials. In truth,
    I think you will be much happier for being out of Parliament.
    You could do no good there; you have no views of ambition to
    satisfy; and when neither duty nor ambition calls (I do not
    condescend to name avarice, which never is to be satisfied,
    nor deserves to be reasoned with, nor has any place in your
    breast), I cannot conceive what satisfaction an elderly man
    can have in listening to the passions or follies of others:
    nor is eloquence such a banquet, when one knows that, whoever
    the cooks are, whatever the sauces, one has eaten as good
    beef or mutton before, and, perhaps, as well dressed. It is
    surely time to live for one’s self, when one has not a vast
    while to live; and you, I am persuaded, will live the longer
    for leading a country life. How much better to be planting,
    nay, making experiments on smoke[96] (if not too dear), than
    reading applications from officers, a quarter of whom you
    could not serve, nor content three quarters! You had not time
    for necessary exercise; and, I believe, would have blinded
    yourself. In short, if you will live in the air all day, be
    totally idle, and not read or write a line by candle-light,
    and retrench your suppers, I shall rejoice in your having
    nothing to do but that dreadful punishment, pleasing yourself.
    Nobody has any claims on you; you have satisfied every point of
    honour; you have no cause for being particularly grateful to
    the Opposition; and you want no excuse for living for yourself.
    Your resolutions on economy are not only prudent, but just;
    and, to say the truth, I believe that if you had continued at
    the head of the Army, you would have ruined yourself. You have
    too much generosity to have curbed yourself, and would have had
    too little time to attend to doing so. I know by myself how
    pleasant it is to have laid up a little for those I love, for
    those that depend on me, and for old servants.…

    “You seem to think that I might send you more news. So I might,
    if I would talk of elections; but those, you know, I hate, as,
    in general, I do all details. How Mr. Fox has recovered such a
    majority I do not guess; still less do I comprehend how there
    could be so many that had not voted, after the poll had lasted
    so long.[97] Indeed, I should be sorry to understand such
    mysteries.…

    “P.S. The summer is come to town, but I hope gone into the
    country too.”

The new Parliament having met, and disclosed a majority of more than
two to one in favour of the Government, Walpole dismisses politics and
returns to lighter topics. He writes to Conway:

                                   “Strawberry Hill, June 30, 1784.

    “Instead of coming to you, I am thinking of packing up and
    going to town for winter, so desperate is the weather! I found
    a great fire at Mrs. Clive’s this evening, and Mr. Raftor
    hanging over it like a smoked ham. They tell me my hay will be
    all spoiled for want of cutting; but I had rather it should
    be destroyed by standing than by being mowed, as the former
    will cost me nothing but the crop, and ’tis very dear to make
    nothing but a water-souchy of it.

    “You know I have lost a niece, and found another nephew: he
    makes the fifty-fourth, reckoning both sexes. We are certainly
    an affectionate family, for of late we do nothing but marry one
    another. Have not YOU felt a little twinge in a remote corner
    of your heart on Lady Harrington’s death?[98] She dreaded death
    so extremely that I am glad she had not a moment to be sensible
    of it. I have a great affection for sudden deaths; they save
    one’s self and everybody else a deal of ceremony.

    “The Duke and Duchess of Marlborough breakfasted here on
    Monday, and seemed much pleased, though it rained the whole
    time with an Egyptian darkness. I should have thought there had
    been deluges enough to destroy all Egypt’s other plagues: but
    the newspapers talk of locusts; I suppose relations of your
    beetles, though probably not so fond of green fruit; for the
    scene of their campaign is Queen Square, Westminster, where
    there certainly has not been an orchard since the reign of
    Canute.

    “I have, at last, seen an air-balloon; just as I once did see a
    tiny review, by passing one accidentally on Hounslow Heath. I
    was going last night to Lady Onslow at Richmond, and over Mr.
    Cambridge’s field I saw a bundle in the air not bigger than
    the moon, and she herself could not have descended with more
    composure if she had expected to find Endymion fast asleep. It
    seemed to ’light on Richmond Hill; but Mrs. Hobart was going
    by, and her _coiffure_ prevented my seeing it alight. The
    papers say, that a balloon has been made at Paris representing
    the castle of Stockholm, in compliment to the King of Sweden;
    but that they are afraid to let it off: so, I suppose, it
    will be served up to him in a dessert. No great progress,
    surely, is made in these airy navigations, if they are still
    afraid of risking the necks of two or three subjects for the
    entertainment of a visiting sovereign. There is seldom a _feu
    de joie_ for the birth of a Dauphin that does not cost more
    lives. I thought royalty and science never haggled about the
    value of blood when experiments are in the question.

    “I shall wait for summer before I make you a visit. Though I
    dare to say that you have converted your smoke-kilns into a
    manufactory of balloons, pray do not erect a Strawberry castle
    in the air for my reception, if it will cost a pismire a hair
    of its head. Good-night! I have ordered my bed to be heated as
    hot as an oven, and Tonton and I must go into it.”

The recent invention of balloons was at this time exciting general
interest. “This enormous capital,” says Walpole, “that must have
some occupation, is most innocently amused with those philosophic
playthings, air-balloons. An Italian, one Lunardi, is the first
_airgonaut_ that has mounted into the clouds in this country. He is
said to have bought three or four thousand pounds in the stocks,
by exhibiting his person, his balloon, and his dog and cat, at the
Pantheon for a shilling each visitor. Blanchard, a Frenchman, is his
rival; and I expect that they will soon have an air-fight in the
clouds, like a stork and a kite.”

This year ended for our author with a severe attack of gout. He replies
to inquiries from Lady Ossory:

                                   “Berkeley Square, Dec. 27, 1784.

    “I am told that I am in a prodigious fine way; which, being
    translated into plain English, means that I have suffered
    more sharp pain these two days than in all the moderate fits
    together that I have had for these last nine years: however,
    Madam, I have one great blessing, there is drowsiness in all
    the square hollows of the red-hot bars of the gridiron on
    which I lie, so that I scream and fall asleep by turns, like
    a babe that is cutting its first teeth. I can add nothing to
    this exact account, which I only send in obedience to your
    Ladyship’s commands, which I received just now: I did think on
    Saturday that the worst was over.”

On his recovery, he writes:

    “I am always thanking you, Madam, I think, for kind inquiries
    after me; but it is not my fault that I am so often
    troublesome! I would it were otherwise!--however, I do not
    complain. I have attained another resurrection, and was so
    glad of my liberty, that I went out both Saturday and Sunday,
    though so snowy a day and so rainy a day never were invented.
    Yet I have not ventured to see Mrs. Jordan,[99] nor to skate
    in Hyde Park. We had other guess winters in my time!--fine
    sunny mornings, with now and then a mild earthquake, just
    enough to wake one, and rock one to sleep again comfortably.
    My recoveries surprise me more than my fits; but I am quite
    persuaded now that I know exactly how I shall end: as I am a
    statue of chalk, I shall crumble to powder, and then my inside
    will be blown away from my terrace, and hoary-headed Margaret
    will tell the people that come to see my house,--

        ‘One morn we miss’d him on the ’custom’d hill.’

    When that is the case, Madam, don’t take the pains of
    inquiring more; as I shall leave no _body_ to return to, even
    Cagliostro would bring me back to no purpose.”



CHAPTER IX.

    Lady Correspondents.--Madame de Genlis.--Miss Burney and Hannah
    More.--Deaths of Mrs. Clive and Sir Horace Mann.--Story of
    Madame de Choiseul.--Richmond.--Queensberry House.--Warren
    Hastings.--Genteel Comedy.--St. Swithin.--Riverside
    Conceits.--Lord North.--The Theatre again.--Gibbon’s
    History.--Sheridan.--Conway’s Comedy.--A Turkish War.--Society
    Newspapers.--The Misses Berry.--Bonner’s Ghost.--The Arabian
    Nights.--King’s College Chapel.--Richmond Society.--New
    Arrivals.--The Berrys visit Italy.--A Farewell Letter.


No one who has looked through Walpole’s published letters can have
failed to observe that the great majority of those which belong to
the last twelve or thirteen years of the writer’s life are addressed
to female correspondents. This is not an accidental circumstance. It
is clear that, as his old friends dropped off, Horace supplied their
places, in almost every instance, with women. The antiquary Pinkerton
succeeds to the antiquary Cole,[100] but Montagu and Mason, Sir
Horace Mann[101] and Lord Strafford,[102] had no successors of their
own sex. Except when literary topics were on the carpet, Walpole, in
his latter days, shrank from engaging in discussion with younger
and more vigorous men. In several passages of his correspondence, he
acknowledges this feeling of reserve and shyness. But with ladies of
every class he was always at home and at ease. Old or young, grave or
gay, English or French, they found him their devoted servant, full of
nicely adjusted gallantry, never too busy to entertain with gossip
and letters, ever ready to assist with advice, and, when occasion
required, with the contents of a well-stocked purse. Thus, from the
year 1785 onwards, we have him generally in correspondence with ladies,
and as often as not, about ladies. During the first part of this
period especially, sketches of well-known women meet us, thrown off at
frequent intervals by his practised pen. Here is an account of a visit
from Madame de Genlis in July, 1785:

    “You surprise me, Madam, by saying the newspapers mention my
    disappointment of seeing Madame de Genlis. How can such arrant
    trifles spread? It is very true, that as the hill would not
    go to see Madame de Genlis, she has come to see the hill. Ten
    days ago Mrs. Cosway sent me a note that _Madame_ desired a
    ticket for Strawberry Hill. I thought I could not do less than
    offer her a breakfast, and named yesterday se’nnight. Then came
    a message that she must go to Oxford and take her Doctor’s
    degree; and then another, that I should see her yesterday,
    when she did arrive with Miss Wilkes and Pamela, whom she did
    not even present to me, and whom she has educated to be very
    like herself in the face. I told her I could not attribute
    the honour of her visit but to my late dear friend Madame du
    Deffand. It rained the whole time, and was dark as midnight, so
    that she could scarce distinguish a picture; but you will want
    an account of her, and not of what she saw or could not see.
    Her person is agreeable, and she seems to have been pretty.
    Her conversation is natural and reasonable, not _précieuse_
    and affected, and searching to be eloquent, as I had expected.
    I asked her if she had been pleased with Oxford, meaning the
    buildings, not the wretched oafs that inhabit it. She said she
    had had little time; that she had wished to learn their plan
    of education, which, as she said sensibly, she supposed was
    adapted to our Constitution. I could have told her that it is
    directly repugnant to our Constitution, and that nothing is
    taught there but drunkenness and prerogative, or, in their
    language, Church and King. I asked if it is true that the
    new edition of Voltaire’s works is prohibited: she replied,
    severely,--and then condemned those who write against religion
    and government, which was a little unlucky before her friend
    _Miss Wilkes_. She stayed two hours, and returns to France
    to-day _to her duty_. I really do not know whether the Duc de
    Chartres is in England or not. She did lodge in his house in
    Portland Place; but at Paris, I think, has an hotel where she
    educates his daughters.”

A little later, he reports: “Dr. Burney and his daughter,
Evelina-Cecilia, have passed a day and a half with me.[103] He is
lively and agreeable; she half-and-half sense and modesty, which
possess her so entirely, that not a cranny is left for affectation or
pretension. Oh! Mrs. Montagu, you are not above half as accomplished.”
This was an unusual tribute from the fastidious Horace.

Here, too, we must introduce the name of another literary lady, whose
acquaintance with our author, begun some time previously, ripened about
this date into an occasional exchange of letters. Hannah More,[104]
then one of the Vesey coterie in Clarges Street, which, however, she
presently quitted, ranked, we conceive, in Walpole’s estimation,
about midway between Mrs. Montagu and Miss Burney. Writing to Hannah,
not long after her retirement from London, he says: “The last time I
saw her,” that is Mrs. Vesey, “Miss Burney passed the evening there,
looking quite recovered and well, and so cheerful and agreeable, that
the Court seems only to have improved the ease of her manner, instead
of stamping more reserve on it, as I feared: but what slight graces
it can give, will not compensate to us and the world for the loss of
her company and her writings. Not but that _some young ladies_ who can
write, can stifle their talent as much as if they were under lock and
key in the royal library. I do not see but _a cottage_ is as pernicious
to genius as the Queen’s waiting-room.”

Walpole had laughed at the “Blue-stockings,” but he bows graciously to
the authors of “Cecilia” and “Percy,” and marks by an altered style of
address his sense of the difference between the tone of these ladies
and that of the Lady Ossorys and Kitty Clives with whom his youth and
middle life had been spent. Poor Kitty’s old age of cards came to an
end before the close of 1785, and Cliveden, which she had occupied for
more than thirty years, stood for awhile untenanted. Horace lamented
the loss of his old friend and neighbour, but she was several years
senior to himself, and her death was not unexpected. The pair had lived
so much together that probably few letters passed between them: none
have been preserved, and the removal of the lady makes no gap in the
gentleman’s correspondence. It is otherwise with the next name which
was struck from Walpole’s list of old familiar acquaintances. Shortly
after losing a friend from whom he was never long parted, he lost
the friend whom he never met. No long time had elapsed since Walpole
had written to Mann: “Shall we not be very venerable in the annals
of friendship? What Orestes and Pylades ever wrote to each other for
four-and-forty years without meeting? A correspondence of near half
a century is not to be paralleled in the annals of the Post Office.”
Again, about the time of Mrs. Clive’s death: “_Now_ I think we are like
Castor and Pollux; when one rises, t’other sets; when you can write, I
cannot. I have got a very sharp attack of gout in my right hand.… Your
being so well is a great comfort to me.” Despite this congratulation,
however, the Ambassador was very near to his final setting. He died at
Florence on the 16th of November, 1786, after a long illness, during
the latter part of which he was apparently not in a condition to
receive letters. Walpole’s last letter to him is dated June 22, 1786.
It makes the eight hundred and ninth in the collection, as printed, of
Walpole’s part of the correspondence between them.

But we must not suppose that Lady Ossory’s gazetteer is all this time
forgetful of his Countess. Here is an anecdote which he sends her in
the early part of 1786:

    “How do you like, Madam, the following story? A young Madame
    de Choiseul is inloved with by Monsieur de Coigny and Prince
    Joseph of Monaco. She longed for a parrot that should be a
    miracle of eloquence: every other shop in Paris sells mackaws,
    parrots, cockatoos, &c. No wonder one at least of the rivals
    soon found a Mr. Pitt, and the bird was immediately declared
    the nymph’s first minister: but as she had two passions as
    well as two lovers, she was also enamoured of General Jackoo
    at Astley’s. The unsuccessful candidate offered Astley ingots
    for his monkey, but Astley demanding a _terre_ for life,
    the paladin was forced to desist, but fortunately heard of
    another miracle of parts of the Monomotapan race, who was not
    in so exalted a sphere of life, being only a _marmiton_ in a
    kitchen, where he had learnt to pluck fowls with an inimitable
    dexterity. This dear animal was not invaluable, was bought, and
    presented to Madame de Choiseul, who immediately made him the
    _secretaire de ses commandemens_. Her caresses were distributed
    equally to the animals, and her thanks to the donors. The
    first time she went out, the two former were locked up in her
    bed-chamber. Ah! I dread to tell the sequel. When the lady
    returned and flew to her chamber, Jackoo the second received
    her with all the _empressement_ possible--but where was
    Poll?--found at last under the bed, shivering and cowering--and
    without a feather, as stark as any Christian. Poll’s presenter
    concluded that his rival had given the monkey with that very
    view, challenged him, they fought, and both were wounded; and
    an heroic adventure it was!”

Mrs. Clive being dead, and another sister-in-loo, Lady Browne, whom
he often called his better-half, having left Twickenham, Walpole,
when at Strawberry Hill, began to look across the water for society.
He was attracted to Richmond by George Selwyn, who was now at times
domesticated there with the Duke of Queensberry, the “Old Q” of the
caricaturists. In December, 1786, Horace writes:

    “I went yesterday to see the Duke of Queensberry’s palace at
    Richmond, under the conduct of George Selwyn, the _concierge_.
    You cannot imagine how noble it looks now all the Cornbury
    pictures from Amesbury are hung up there. The great hall, the
    great gallery, the eating-room, and the corridor, are covered
    with whole and half-lengths of royal family, favourites,
    ministers, peers, and judges, of the reign of Charles I.--not
    one an original, I think, at least not one fine, yet altogether
    they look very respectable; and the house is so handsome, and
    the views so rich, and the day was so fine, that I could only
    have been more pleased if (for half an hour) I could have seen
    the real palace that once stood on that spot, and the persons
    represented walking about!--A visionary holiday in old age,
    though it has not the rapture of youth, is a sedate enjoyment
    that is more sensible because one attends to it and reflects
    upon it at the time; and as new tumults do not succeed, the
    taste remains long in one’s memory’s mouth.”

Walpole was late this year in removing to Berkeley Square. The
political topic of the London season was the debates in the House of
Commons on the charges against Warren Hastings; the social topic, in
our author’s circle at any rate, appears to have been some theatrical
performances at the Duke of Richmond’s house in Whitehall. Horace seems
to have interested himself a good deal more in the latter subject than
the former. Lady Ossory having urged him to read a pamphlet in favour
of Mr. Hastings, he replies:

    “The pamphlet I have read, Madam; but cannot tell you what
    would have been my opinion of it, because my opinion was
    influenced before I saw it. A lady-politician ordered me to
    read it, and to admire it, as the _chef-d’œuvre_ of truth,
    eloquence, wit, argument, and impartiality; and she assured
    me that the _reasonings_ in it were unanswerable. I believe
    she meant the _assertions_, for I know she uses those words as
    synonymous. I promised to obey her, as I am sure that ladies
    understand politics better than I do, and I hold it as a rule
    of faith--

        “That all that they admire is sweet,
        And all is sense that they repeat.

    “How much ready wit they have! I can give you an instance,
    Madam, that I heard last night. After the late execution of
    the _eighteen_ malefactors, a female was hawking an account of
    them, but called them _nineteen_. A gentleman said to her, ‘Why
    do you say _nineteen_? there were but _eighteen_ hanged.’ She
    replied, ‘Sir, I did not know _you_ had been reprieved.’”

A week later, he writes again:

                                    “Berkeley Square, Feb. 9, 1787.

    “Though I sigh for your Ladyship’s coming to town, I do not
    know whether I shall not be a loser, for what news don’t you
    send me? That Lord Salisbury is a poet is nothing to your
    intelligence that _I_ am going to turn player; nay, perhaps
    I should, if I were not too young for the company!--You tell
    me, too, that I snub and sneer; I protest, I thought I was the
    snubee.…

    “For sneering, Heaven help me! I was guiltless. Every day I
    meet with red-hot politicians in petticoats, and told your
    Ladyship how I had been schooled by one of them, and how docile
    I was. If you yourself have any zeal for making converts, I
    should be very ready to be a proselyte, if I could get anything
    by it. It is very creditable, honourable, and fashionable; but,
    alas! I am so insignificant that I fear nobody would buy me;
    and one should look sillily to put one’s self up to sale and
    not find a purchaser.

    “In short, I doubt I shall never make my fortune by turning
    courtier or comedian; and therefore I may as well adhere to
    my old principles, as I have always done, since you yourself,
    Madam, would not be flattered in a convert that nobody would
    take off your hands. If you could bring over Mr. Sheridan, he
    would do something: he talked for five hours and a half on
    Wednesday, and turned everybody’s head. One heard everybody
    in the streets raving on the wonders of that speech; for my
    part, I cannot believe it was so supernatural as they say--do
    you believe it was, Madam? I will go to my oracle, who told
    me of the marvels of the pamphlet, which assures us that Mr.
    Hastings is a prodigy of virtue and abilities; and, as you
    think so too, how should such a fellow as Sheridan, who has no
    diamonds to bestow, fascinate all the world?--Yet witchcraft,
    no doubt, there has been, for when did simple eloquence ever
    convince a majority? Mr. Pitt and 174 other persons found Mr.
    Hastings guilty last night,[105] and only sixty-eight remained
    thinking with _the pamphlet_ and your Ladyship, that he is as
    white as snow. Well, at least there is a new crime, sorcery, to
    charge on the Opposition! and, till they are cleared of that
    charge, I will never say a word in their favour, nor think on
    politics more, which I would not have mentioned but in answer
    to your Ladyship’s questions; and therefore I hope we shall
    drop the subject, and meet soon in Grosvenor Place in a perfect
    neutrality of good humour.”

His remarks on the Duke’s Theatre are contained in the following
letter, written after his early return to Twickenham.

                                   “Strawberry Hill, June 14, 1787.

    “Though your Ladyship _gave me law_ (a very proper synonyme for
    delay), I should have answered your letter incontinently, but I
    have had what is called a _blight_ in one of my eyes, and for
    some days was forced to lie fallow, neither reading nor writing
    a line; which is a little uncomfortable when quite alone. I
    do begin to creep about my house, but have not recovered my
    feet enough to compass the whole circuit of my garden. Monday
    last was pleasant, and Tuesday very warm; but we are relapsed
    into our east windhood, which has reigned ever since I have
    been here for this _green winter_, which, I presume, is the
    highest title due to this season, which in southern climes is
    positive _summer_, a name imported by our travellers, with
    grapes, peaches, and tuberoses. However, most of my senses
    have enjoyed themselves--my sight with verdure, my smell by
    millions of honeysuckles, my hearing by nightingales, and my
    feeling with good fires: tolerable luxury for an old cavalier
    in the north of Europe! Semiramis of Russia is not of my taste,
    or she would not travel half round the arctic circle; unless
    she means to conquer the Turks, and transfer the seat of her
    empire to Constantinople, like its founder. The ghost of Irene
    will be mighty glad to see her there, though a little surprised
    that the Grand Duke, her son, is still alive. I hear she has
    carried her grandchildren with her as hostages, or she might be
    dethroned, and not hear of it for three months.

    “I am very far from tired, Madam, of encomiums on the
    performance at Richmond House, but I, by no means, agree with
    the criticism on it that you quote, and which, I conclude,
    was written by some player, from envy. Who should act genteel
    comedy perfectly, but people of fashion that have sense? Actors
    and actresses can only guess at the tone of high life, and
    can_not_ be inspired with it. Why are there so few genteel
    comedies, but because most comedies are written by men not of
    that sphere? Etherege, Congreve, Vanbrugh, and Cibber wrote
    genteel comedy, because they lived in the best company; and
    Mrs. Oldfield played it so well, because she not only followed,
    but often set, the fashion. General Burgoyne has written the
    best modern comedy, for the same reason; and Miss Farren[106]
    is as excellent as Mrs. Oldfield, because she has lived with
    the best style of men in England: whereas Mrs. Abington
    can never go beyond _Lady Teazle_, which is a second-rate
    character, and that rank of women are always aping women of
    fashion, without arriving at the style. Farquhar’s plays talk
    the language of a marching regiment in country quarters:
    Wycherley, Dryden, Mrs. Centlivre, etc., wrote as if they had
    only lived in the ‘Rose Tavern;’[107] but then the Court lived
    in Drury Lane, too, and Lady Dorchester and Nell Gwyn were
    equally good company. The Richmond Theatre, I imagine, will
    take root. I supped with the Duke at Mrs. Damer’s, the night
    before I left London, and they were talking of improvements on
    _the local_, as the French would say.”

A few weeks later, he has dismissed the talk of London, and is occupied
with his neighbours on the Thames. The following is a letter to Lord
Strafford:

                                   “Strawberry Hill, July 28, 1787.

    “Saint Swithin is no friend to correspondence, my dear Lord.
    There is not only a great sameness in his own proceedings, but
    he makes everybody else dull--I mean in the country, where one
    frets at its raining every day and all day. In town he is no
    more minded than the proclamation against vice and immorality.
    Still, though he has all the honours of the quarantine, I
    believed it often rained for forty days long before St. Swithin
    was born, if ever born he was; and the proverb was coined
    and put under his patronage, because people observed that it
    frequently does rain for forty days together at this season.
    I remember Lady Suffolk telling me, that Lord Dysart’s great
    meadow at Ham had never been mowed but once in forty years
    without rain. I said, ‘All that that proved was, that rain was
    good for hay,’ as I am persuaded the climate of a country and
    its productions are suited to each other. Nay, rain is good for
    haymakers too, who get more employment the oftener the hay is
    made over again. I do not know who is the saint that presides
    over thunder; but he has made an unusual quantity in this chill
    summer, and done a great deal of serious mischief, though not a
    fiftieth part of what Lord George Gordon did seven years ago,
    and happily he is fled.

    “Our little part of the world has been quiet as usual. The Duke
    of Queensberry has given a sumptuous dinner to the Princesse
    de Lamballe--_et voilà tout_. I never saw her, not even in
    France. I have no particular _penchant_ for sterling princes
    and princesses, much less for those of French plate.

    “The only entertaining thing I can tell your Lordship from our
    district is, that old Madam French, who lives close by the
    bridge at Hampton Court, where, between her and the Thames,
    she has nothing but one grass-plot of the width of her house,
    has paved that whole plot with black and white marble in
    diamonds, exactly like the floor of a church; and this curious
    metamorphosis of a garden into a pavement has cost her three
    hundred and forty pounds:--a tarpaulin she might have had for
    some shillings, which would have looked as well, and might
    easily have been removed. To be sure, this exploit, and Lord
    Dudley’s obelisk _below_ a hedge, with his canal at right
    angles with the Thames, and a sham bridge no broader than that
    of a violin, and _parallel_ to the river, are not preferable to
    the monsters in clipt yews of our ancestors. On the contrary,
    Mrs. Walsingham is making her house at Ditton (now baptized
    Boyle Farm[108]) very orthodox. Her daughter Miss Boyle, who
    has real genius, has carved three tablets in marble with boys,
    designed by herself. Those sculptures are for a chimney-piece;
    and she is painting panels in grotesque for the library, with
    pilasters of glass in black and gold. Miss Crewe, who has taste
    too, has decorated a room for her mother’s house at Richmond,
    which was Lady Margaret Compton’s, in a very pretty manner.
    How much more amiable the old women of the next age will be,
    than most of those we remember, who used to tumble at once from
    gallantry to devout scandal and cards, and revenge on the young
    of their own sex the desertion of ours! Now they are ingenious,
    they will not want amusement.”

In the autumn, he pays a visit to Lord North:

    “I dined last Monday at Bushy (for you know I have more
    _penchant_ for Ministers that are out than when they are in)
    and never saw a more interesting scene. Lord North’s spirits,
    good humour, wit, sense, drollery, are as perfect as ever--the
    unremitting attention of Lady North and his children, most
    touching. Mr. North leads him about, Miss North sits constantly
    by him, carves meat, watches his every motion, scarce puts a
    bit into her own lips; and if one cannot help commending her,
    she colours with modesty and sorrow till the tears gush into
    her eyes. If ever loss of sight could be compensated, it is by
    so affectionate a family.”

Not long after this, Walpole repeats a good-humoured jest of the blind
old man on receiving a call from his _quondam_ opponent, Colonel Barré,
whose sight also was nearly gone. Lord North said: “Colonel Barré,
nobody will suspect us of insincerity, if we say that we should always
be overjoyed to see each other.”

With the return of winter, the theatre comes up again. There was a
stage at Ampthill as well as at Whitehall:

                                   “Berkeley Square, Jan. 15, 1788.

    “All joy to your Ladyship on the success of your theatric
    campaign. I do think the representation of plays as
    entertaining and ingenious, as choosing king and queen, and
    the gambols and mummeries of our ancestors at Christmas; or
    as making one’s neighbours and all their servants drunk, and
    sending them home ten miles in the dark with the chance of
    breaking their necks by some comical overturn. I wish I could
    have been one of the audience; but, alas! I am like the African
    lamb, and can only feed on the grass and herbs that grow within
    my reach.

    “I can make no returns yet from the theatre at Richmond House;
    the Duke and Duchess do not come till the birthday, and I have
    been at no more rehearsals, being satisfied with two of the
    play. Prologue or epilogue there is to be none, as neither the
    plays nor the performers, in general, are new. The ‘Jealous
    Wife’ is to succeed for the exhibition of Mrs. Hobart, who
    could have no part in ‘The Wonder.’

    “My histrionic acquaintance spreads. I supped at Lady Dorothy
    Hotham’s with Mrs. Siddons, and have visited and been visited
    by her, and have seen and liked her much, yes, very much, in
    the passionate scenes of ‘Percy;’ but I do not admire her in
    cool declamation, and find her voice very hollow and defective.
    I asked her in which part she would most wish me to see her?
    She named Portia in the ‘Merchant of Venice;’ but I begged to
    be excused. With all my enthusiasm for Shakespeare, it is one
    of his plays that I like the least. The story of the caskets
    is silly, and, except the character of Shylock, I see nothing
    beyond the attainment of a mortal: Euripides, or Racine, or
    Voltaire, might have written all the rest. Moreover, Mrs.
    Siddons’s warmest devotees do not hold her above a demigoddess
    in comedy. I have chosen ‘Athenais,’ in which she is to appear
    soon; her scorn is admirable.…

    “Puppet-shows are coming on, the birth-day, the Parliament, and
    the trial of Hastings and his imp, Elijah. They will fill the
    town, I suppose.”

Walpole was as severe on professional authors as on professional
actors. “Except,” he says, “for such a predominant genius as
Shakespeare and Milton, I hold authors cheap enough: what merit is
there in pains, and study, and application, compared with the extempore
abilities of such men as Mr. Fox, Mr. Sheridan, or Mr. Pitt?” But he
made a further exception in favour of Gibbon. The following extract,
besides an estimate of Gibbon’s History, contains a reference to the
celebrated Begum Speech delivered by Sheridan in Westminster Hall on
the trial of Warren Hastings:

    “I finished Mr. Gibbon a full fortnight ago, and was extremely
    pleased. It is a most wonderful mass of information, not only
    on history, but almost on all the ingredients of history,
    as war, government, commerce, coin, and what not. If it has
    a fault, it is in embracing too much, and consequently in
    not detailing enough, and in striding backwards and forwards
    from one set of princes to another, and from one subject
    to another; so that, without much historic knowledge, and
    without much memory, and much method in one’s memory, it is
    almost impossible not to be sometimes bewildered: nay, his own
    impatience to tell what he knows, makes the author, though
    commonly so explicit, not perfectly clear in his expressions.
    The last chapter of the fourth volume, I own, made me recoil,
    and I could scarcely push through it. So far from being
    Catholic or heretic, I wished Mr. Gibbon had never heard of
    Monophysites, Nestorians, or any such fools! But the sixth
    volume made ample amends; Mahomet and the Popes were gentlemen
    and good company. I abominate fractions of theology and
    reformation.

    “Mr. Sheridan, I hear, did not quite satisfy the passionate
    expectation that had been raised; but it was impossible he
    could, when people had worked themselves into an enthusiasm
    of offering fifty--ay, _fifty_ guineas for a ticket to hear
    him. Well, we are sunk and deplorable in many points, yet not
    absolutely gone, when history and eloquence throw out such
    shoots! I thought I had outlived my country; I am glad not to
    leave it desperate!”

The next letter contains further references to the Begum Speech. It
is addressed to Lord Strafford, and is one of the latest of Walpole’s
letters to that nobleman which have been preserved:

                    “Strawberry Hill, Tuesday night, June 17, 1788.

    “I guess, my dear Lord, and only guess, that you are arrived
    at Wentworth Castle. If you are not, my letter will lose none
    of its bloom by waiting for you; for I have nothing fresh to
    tell you, and only write because you enjoined it. I settled
    in my Liliputian towers but this morning. I wish people would
    come into the country on May-day, and fix in town the first
    of November. But as they will not, I have made up my mind; and
    having so little time left, I prefer London, when my friends
    and society are in it, to living here alone, or with the weird
    sisters of Richmond and Hampton. I had additional reason now,
    for the streets are as green as the fields: we are burnt to the
    bone, and have not a lock of hay to cover our nakedness: oats
    are so dear, that I suppose they will soon be eaten at Brooks’s
    and fashionable tables as a rarity. Though not resident till
    now, I have flitted backwards and forwards, and last Friday
    came hither to look for a minute at a ball at Mrs. Walsingham’s
    at Ditton; which would have been very pretty, for she had stuck
    coloured lamps in the hair of all her trees and bushes, if the
    east wind had not danced a reel all the time by the side of the
    river.

    “Mr. Conway’s play,[109] of which your Lordship has seen
    some account in the papers, has succeeded delightfully,
    both in representation and applause. The language is most
    genteel, though translated from verse; and both prologue and
    epilogue are charming. The former was delivered most justly
    and admirably by Lord Derby, and the latter with inimitable
    spirit and grace by Mrs. Damer. Mr. Merry and Mrs. Bruce played
    excellently too. But General Conway, Mrs. Damer, and everybody
    else are drowned by Mr. Sheridan, whose renown has engrossed
    all Fame’s tongues and trumpets. Lord Townshend said he should
    be sorry were he forced to give a vote directly on Hastings,
    before he had time to cool; and one of the Peers saying the
    speech had not made the same impression on him, the Marquis
    replied, A seal might be finely cut, and yet not be in fault
    for making a bad impression.

    “I have, you see, been forced to send your Lordship what scraps
    I brought from town. The next four months, I doubt, will reduce
    me to my old sterility; for I cannot retail French Gazettes,
    though as a good Englishman bound to hope they will contain
    a civil war. I care still less about the double imperial
    campaign, only hoping that the poor dear Turks will heartily
    beat both Emperor and Empress. If the first Ottomans could be
    punished, they deserve it, but the present possessors have as
    good a prescription on their side as any people in Europe.
    We ourselves are Saxons, Danes, Normans; our neighbours are
    Franks, not Gauls; who the rest are, Goths, Gepidæ, Heruli, Mr.
    Gibbon knows; and the Dutch usurped the estates of herrings,
    turbots, and other marine indigenæ. Still, though I do not wish
    the hair of a Turk’s beard to be hurt, I do not say that it
    would not be amusing to have Constantinople taken, merely as
    a lusty event; for neither could I live to see Athens revive,
    nor have I much faith in two such bloody-minded vultures, cock
    and hen, as Catherine and Joseph, conquering for the benefit of
    humanity; nor does my Christianity admire the propagation of
    the Gospel by the mouth of cannon. What desolation of peasants
    and their families by the episodes of forage and quarters! Oh!
    I wish Catherine and Joseph were brought to Westminster Hall
    and worried by Sheridan! I hope, too, that the poor Begums are
    alive to hear of his speech: it will be some comfort, though I
    doubt nobody thinks of restoring them a quarter of a lac!”

We must now find place for a letter to Miss More:

                                    “Strawberry Hill, July 4, 1788.

    “I am soundly rejoiced, my dear Madam, that the present summer
    is more favourable to me than the last; and that, instead of
    not answering my letters in three months, you open the campaign
    first. May not I flatter myself that it is a symptom of your
    being in better health? I wish, however, you had told me so in
    positive words, and that all your complaints have left you.
    Welcome as is your letter, it would have been ten times more
    welcome bringing me that assurance; for don’t think I forget
    how ill you was last winter. As letters, you say, now keep
    their coaches, I hope those from Bristol will call often at my
    door.[110] I promise you I will never be denied to them.

    “No botanist am I; nor wished to learn from _you_, of all the
    Muses, that _piping_ has a new signification. I had rather that
    _you_ handled an oaten pipe than a carnation one; yet setting
    layers, I own, is preferable to reading newspapers, one of the
    chronical maladies of this age. Everybody reads them, nay,
    quotes them, though everybody knows they are stuffed with lies
    or blunders. How should it be otherwise? If any extraordinary
    event happens, who but must hear it before it descends through
    a coffee-house to the runner of a daily paper? They who are
    always wanting news, are wanting to hear they don’t know what.
    A lower species, indeed, is that of the scribes you mention,
    who every night compose a journal for the satisfaction of such
    _illiterati_, and feed them with all the vices and misfortunes
    of every private family; nay, they now call it a _duty_
    to publish all those calamities which decency to wretched
    relations used in compassion to suppress, I mean self-murder in
    particular. Mr. Hesse’s was detailed at length; and to-day that
    of Lord Saye and Sele. The pretence is, _in terrorem_, like the
    absurd stake and highway of our ancestors; as if there were a
    precautionary potion for madness, or the stigma of a newspaper
    were more dreadful than death. Daily journalists, to be sure,
    are most respectable magistrates! Yes, much like the cobblers
    that Cromwell made peers.

    “I do lament your not going to Mr. Conway’s play: both the
    author and actors deserved such an auditor as you, and you
    deserved to hear them. However, I do not pity _good_ people who
    out of virtue lose or miss any pleasures. Those pastimes fleet
    as fast as those of the wicked; but, when gone, you saints can
    sit down and feast on your self-denial, and drink bumpers of
    satisfaction to the health of your own merit. So truly I don’t
    pity you.

    “You say you hear no news, yet you quote Mr. Topham;[111]
    therefore why should I tell you that the King is going to
    Cheltenham? or that the Baccelli lately danced at the Opera at
    Paris with a blue bandeau on her forehead, inscribed, _Honi
    soit qui mal y pense_!

    “Well! would we committed nothing but follies! What do we not
    commit when the abolition of slavery hitches! Adieu!

        “Though Cato died, though Tully spoke,
        Though Brutus dealt the godlike stroke,
                  Yet perish’d fated Rome.

    “_You_ have written; and I fear that even, if Mr. Sheridan
    speaks, trade, the modern religion, will predominate. Adieu!”

Our next extract contains an account of an incident which proved more
fortunate for the writer than anything that happened to him during
the remainder of his life. It is from a letter to Lady Ossory, dated
Strawberry Hill, October 11, 1788. Horace writes:

    “I am sorry, for the third time of this letter, that I have
    no new village anecdotes to send your Ladyship, since they
    divert you for a moment. I have one, but some months old. Lady
    Charleville, my neighbour, told me three months ago, that,
    having some company with her, one of them had been to see
    Strawberry. ‘Pray,’ said another, ‘who is that Mr. Walpole?’
    ‘Who!’ cried a third, ‘don’t you know the great epicure, Mr.
    Walpole?’ ‘Pho!’ said the first, ‘great epicure! you mean the
    antiquarian.’ There, Madam, surely this anecdote may take its
    place in the chapter of local fame. If I have picked up no
    recent anecdotes on our Common, I have made a much more, to
    me, precious acquisition. It is the acquaintance of two young
    ladies of the name of Berry, whom I first saw last winter,
    and who accidentally took a house here with their father for
    the season. Their story is singular enough to entertain you.
    The grandfather,[112] a Scot, had a large estate in his own
    country, £5,000 a year it is said; and a circumstance I shall
    tell you makes it probable. The oldest son married for love a
    woman with no fortune. The old man was enraged, and would not
    see him. His wife died and left these two young ladies. The
    grandfather wished for an heir male, and pressed the widower
    to remarry, but could not prevail; the son declaring he would
    consecrate himself to his daughters and their education.
    The old man did not break with him again, but, much worse,
    totally disinherited him, and left all to his second son, who
    very handsomely gave up £800 a year to his elder brother. Mr.
    Berry has since carried his daughters for two or three years
    to France and Italy, and they are returned the best-informed
    and the most perfect creatures I ever saw at their age. They
    are exceedingly sensible, entirely natural and unaffected,
    frank, and, being qualified to talk on any subject, nothing is
    so easy and agreeable as their conversation, nor more apposite
    than their answers and observations. The eldest, I discovered
    by chance, understands Latin and is a perfect Frenchwoman in
    her language. The younger draws charmingly, and has copied
    admirably Lady Di’s gipsies, which I lent, though for the first
    time of her attempting colours. They are of pleasing figures.
    Mary, the eldest, sweet, with fine dark eyes, that are very
    lively when she speaks, with a symmetry of face that is the
    more interesting from being pale; Agnes, the younger, has an
    agreeable sensible countenance, hardly to be called handsome,
    but almost. She is less animated than Mary, but seems, out of
    deference to her sister, to speak seldomer, for they dote on
    each other, and Mary is always praising her sister’s talents.
    I must even tell you they dress within the bounds of fashion,
    though fashionably; but without the excrescences and balconies
    with which modern hoydens overwhelm and barricade their
    persons. In short, good sense, information, simplicity, and
    ease characterise the Berrys; and this is not particularly
    mine, who am apt to be prejudiced, but the universal voice of
    all who know them. The first night I met them I would not be
    acquainted with them, having heard so much in their praise that
    I concluded they would be all pretension. The second time, in a
    very small company, I sat next to Mary, and found her an angel
    both inside and out. Now, I do not know which I like best;
    except Mary’s face, which is formed for a sentimental novel,
    but it is ten times fitter for a fifty times better thing,
    genteel comedy. This delightful family comes to me almost every
    Sunday evening, as our region is too _proclamatory_ to play at
    cards on the seventh day. I forgot to tell you that Mr. Berry
    is a little merry man, with a round face, and you would not
    suspect him of so much feeling and attachment. I make no excuse
    for such minute details; for, if your Ladyship insists on
    hearing the humours of my district, you must for once indulge
    me with sending you two pearls that I found in my path.”

At the date of the above extract, Mary Berry was in her twenty-sixth
year, Agnes Berry in her twenty-fifth. The notice taken by Walpole of
these ladies gave them a position in the best London society, which
they enjoyed for upwards of sixty years; but this patronage, and any
other benefits which he bestowed upon them, were much more than repaid
by the grateful attention with which they sacrificed themselves to
promote the comfort of his last years. The new acquaintance advanced
rapidly. Here is one of the earliest of Walpole’s letters to the
sisters which has been published. Like many others of the series, it is
addressed to the two jointly.

                                    “February 2, 17-71[113] [1789].

    “I am sorry, in the sense of that word before it meant, like a
    Hebrew word, glad or sorry, that I am engaged this evening; and
    I am at your command on Tuesday, as it is always my inclination
    to be. It is a misfortune that words are become so much the
    current coin of society, that, like King William’s shillings,
    they have no impression left; they are so smooth, that they
    mark no more to whom they first belonged than to whom they
    do belong, and are not worth even the twelvepence into which
    they may be changed: but if they mean too little, they may
    seem to mean too much too, especially when an old man (who is
    often synonymous for a miser) parts with them. I am afraid of
    protesting how much I delight in your society, lest I should
    seem to affect being gallant; but if two negatives make an
    affirmative, why may not two ridicules compose one piece of
    sense? and therefore, as I am in love with you both, I trust it
    is a proof of the good sense of your devoted H. Walpole.”

A few months later we have the following letter to Miss More:

                                   “Strawberry Hill, June 23, 1789.

    “MADAM HANNAH,

    “You are an errant reprobate, and grow wickeder and wickeder
    every day. You deserve to be treated like a _nègre_; and
    your favourite Sunday, to which you are so partial, that you
    treat the other poor six days of the week as if they had no
    souls to be saved, should, if I could have my will, ‘shine no
    Sabbath-day for you.’ Now, don’t simper, and look as innocent
    as if virtue would not melt in your mouth. Can you deny the
    following charges?--I lent you the ‘Botanic Garden,’ and you
    returned it without writing a syllable, or saying where you
    were, or whither you was going; I suppose for fear I should
    know how to direct to you. Why, if I did send a letter after
    you, could not you keep it three months without an answer, as
    you did last year?

    “In the next place, you and your _nine_ accomplices, who, by
    the way, are too good in keeping you company, have clubbed the
    prettiest Poem imaginable,[114] and communicated it to Mrs.
    Boscawen, with injunctions not to give a copy of it; I suppose
    because you are ashamed of having written a panegyric. Whenever
    you _do_ compose a satire, you are ready enough to publish it;
    at least, whenever you do, you will din one to death with it.
    But now, mind your perverseness: that very pretty novel poem,
    and I must own it is charming, have you gone and spoiled,
    flying in the faces of your best friends the Muses, and keeping
    no _measures_ with them. I’ll be shot if they dictated two of
    the best lines with two syllables too much in each--nay, you
    have weakened one of them,

        “‘Ev’n Gardiner’s mind’

    is far more expressive than _steadfast_ Gardiner’s; and,
    as Mrs. Boscawen says, whoever knows anything of Gardiner,
    could not want that superfluous epithet; and whoever does
    not, would not be the wiser for your foolish insertion--Mrs.
    Boscawen did not call it foolish, but I do. The second line, as
    Mesdemoiselles the Muses handed it to you, Miss, was,

        “‘Have all be free and saved--’

    not, ‘All be free and all be saved:’ the second _all be_ is a
    most unnecessary tautology. The poem was perfect and faultless,
    if you could have let it alone. I wonder how your mischievous
    flippancy could help maiming that most new and beautiful
    expression, ‘sponge of sins;’ I should not have been surprised,
    as you love verses too full of feet, if you had changed it to
    ‘that scrubbing-brush of sins.’

    “Well! I will say no more now: but if you do not order me a
    copy of ‘Bonner’s Ghost’ incontinently, never dare to look my
    printing-house in the face again. Or come, I’ll tell you what;
    I will forgive all your enormities if you will let me print
    your poem. I like to filch a little immortality out of others,
    and the Strawberry press could never have a better opportunity.
    I will not haggle for the public; I will be content with
    printing only two hundred copies, of which you shall have
    half and I half. It shall cost you nothing but a yes. I only
    propose this in case you do not mean to print it yourself.
    Tell me sincerely which you like. But as to not printing it at
    all, charming and unexceptionable as it is, you cannot be so
    preposterous.

    “I by no means have a thought of detracting from your own
    share in your own poem; but, as I do suspect that it caught
    some inspiration from your perusal of ‘The Botanic Garden,’ so
    I hope you will discover that _my_ style is much improved by
    having lately studied ‘Bruce’s Travels.’ There I dipped, and
    not in St. Giles’s Pound, where one would think this author had
    been educated. Adieu! Your friend, or mortal foe, as you behave
    on the present occasion.”

Before the date of the last, the Misses Berry had set out on a summer
excursion. The following is in answer to a letter from the elder:

                                   “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 letter.

    “If you grow tired of the ‘Arabian Nights,’ you have no more
    taste than Bishop Atterbury, 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 Æneas’s.
    What woful invention were the nasty poultry that spoiled
    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[115]
    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 Lacedæmonian, who was condemned for breach of the peace,
    by saying in three words what he might have said in two.

    “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,’
    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 regent.”

During the absence of his young favourites, he amuses himself with
visiting his neighbours, and grumbling at his “customers,” as he called
the strangers who came to view his villa and grounds:

    “Richmond is in the first request this summer. Mrs. Bouverie
    is settled there with a large court. The Sheridans are there,
    too, and the Bunburys. I have been once with the first; with
    the others I am not acquainted. I go once or twice a week
    to George Selwyn late in the evening, when he comes in from
    walking:--about as often to Mrs. Ellis here, and to Lady
    Cecilia Johnston at Hampton; but all together cannot contribute
    to an entertaining letter, and it is odd to say that, though
    my house is all the morning full of company, nobody lives so
    much alone. I have already this season had between seventy and
    fourscore companies to see my house; and half my time passes
    in writing tickets or excuses. I wish I could think as an old
    sexton did at King’s College. One of the fellows told him he
    must get a great deal of money by showing it: ‘Oh, no! master,’
    replied he; ‘everybody has seen it now.’ _My_ companies, it
    seems, are more prolific, and every set begets one or two more.”

About the same date, he writes to Mary and Agnes:

                 “Strawberry Hill, Thursday evening, Aug. 27, 1789.

    “I jumped for joy; that is, my heart did, which is all the
    remains of me that is _in statu jumpante_, at the receipt
    of your letter this morning, which tells me you approve
    of the house at Teddington. How kind you was to answer so
    incontinently! I believe you borrowed the best steed from the
    races. I have sent to the landlord to come to me to-morrow:
    but I could not resist beginning my letter to-night, as I am
    at home alone, with a little pain in my left wrist; but the
    right one has no brotherly feeling for it, and would not be
    put off so. You ask how you have deserved such attentions?
    Why, by deserving them; by every kind of merit, and by that
    superlative one to me, your submitting to throw away so much
    time on a forlorn antique; you two, who, without specifying
    particulars, (and you must at least be conscious that you are
    not two frights) might expect any fortune and distinctions, and
    do delight all companies. On which side lies the wonder? Ask me
    no more such questions, or I will cram you with reasons.…

                                                           “Friday.

    “Well! I have seen him, and nobody was ever so accommodating!
    He is as courteous as a candidate for a county. You may stay
    in his house till Christmas if you please, and shall pay but
    twenty pounds; and if more furniture is wanting, it shall be
    supplied.”

    “Don’t bring me a pair of scissors from Sheffield. I am
    determined nothing shall cut our loves, though I should live
    out the rest of Methusalem’s term, as you kindly wish, and as
    I can believe, though you are my wives; for I am persuaded my
    Agnes wishes so too.--Don’t you?”

The French Revolution was now in full progress: the Bastile had
been stormed and demolished; anarchy reigned in Paris; châteaux
in the provinces were being plundered and burnt by the peasants;
refugees, in terrified crowds, were pouring over to England. Some of
the exiles presently found their way into Walpole’s neighbourhood.
“Madame de Boufflers,” he tells Lady Ossory, “and the Comtesse Emilie,
her daughter-in-law, I hear, are come to London; and Woronzow, the
Russian Minister, who has a house at Richmond, is to lend it to her
for the winter, as her fortune has received some considerable blow in
the present commotions.” Besides these foreigners, other important
personages had come or were coming into the district. The Duke of
Clarence had a house in the middle of Richmond “with nothing but
a green short apron to the river, a situation only fit for an old
gentlewoman who has put out her knee-pans and loves cards. The Prince
of Wales has taken a somewhat better place at Roehampton, and enters
upon it at Christmas.” “My Straw-Berries,” he adds, “are not yet
returned, but I expect them next week, and have found a house for them
at Teddington very near me.” A little later, he writes, “My neighbour,
the Duke of Clarence, is so popular, that if Richmond were a borough,
and he had not attained his title, but still retained his idea of
standing candidate, he would certainly be elected there. He pays his
bills regularly himself, locks up his doors at night, that his servants
may not stay out late, and never drinks but a few glasses of wine.
Though the value of crowns is mightily fallen of late at market, it
looks as if his Royal Highness thought they were still worth waiting
for; nay, it is said that he tells his brothers that he shall be king
before either--that is fair at least.”[116]

In July, 1790, Walpole is alarmed by the intelligence that the Berrys
have arranged to make a long visit to Italy. He writes to Miss Berry,
then at the sea with her sister:

    “I feel all the kindness of your determination of coming
    to Twickenham in August, and shall certainly say no more
    against it, though I am certain that I shall count every day
    that passes; and when _they are passed_, they will leave a
    melancholy impression on Strawberry, that I had rather have
    affixed to London. The two last summers were infinitely the
    pleasantest I ever passed here, for I never before had an
    agreeable neighbourhood. Still I loved the place, and had
    no comparisons to draw. Now, the neighbourhood will remain,
    and will appear ten times worse; with the aggravation of
    remembering _two months_ that may have some transient roses,
    but, I am sure, lasting thorns. You tell me I do not write with
    my usual spirits: at least I will suppress, as much as I can,
    the want of them, though I am a bad dissembler.”

The months pass, and we have the following farewell letter:

                   “Sunday, Oct. 10, 1790. The day of your departure.

    “Is it possible to write to my beloved friends, and refrain
    from speaking of my grief for losing you; though it is but the
    continuation of what I have felt ever since I was stunned by
    your intention of going abroad this autumn? Still I will not
    tire you with it often. In happy days I smiled, and called you
    my dear wives: now I can only think on you as darling children
    of whom I am bereaved! As such I have loved and do love you;
    and, charming as you both are, I have had no occasion to
    remind myself that I am past seventy-three. Your hearts, your
    understandings, your virtues, and the cruel injustice of your
    fate,[117] have interested me in everything that concerns you;
    and so far from having occasion to blush for any unbecoming
    weakness, I am proud of my affection for you, and very proud of
    your condescending to pass so many hours with a very old man,
    when everybody admires you, and the most insensible allow that
    your good sense and information (I speak of both) have formed
    you to converse with the most intelligent of our sex as well as
    your own; and neither can tax you with airs of pretension or
    affectation. Your simplicity and natural ease set off all your
    other merits--all these graces are lost to me, alas! when I
    have no time to lose.

    “Sensible as I am to my loss, it will occupy but part of my
    thoughts, till I know you safely landed, and arrived safely
    at Turin. Not till you are there, and I learn so, will my
    anxiety subside and settle into steady, selfish sorrow. I
    looked at every weathercock as I came along the road to-day,
    and was happy to see everyone point north-east. May they do so
    to-morrow!

    “I found here the frame for Wolsey,[118] and to-morrow morning
    Kirgate[119] will place him in it; and then I shall begin
    pulling the little parlour to pieces, that it may be hung anew
    to receive him. I have also obeyed Miss Agnes, though with
    regret; for, on trying it, I found her Arcadia would fit the
    place of the picture she condemned, which shall therefore be
    hung in its room; though the latter should give way to nothing
    else, nor shall be laid aside, but shall hang where I shall
    see it almost as often. I long to hear that its dear paintress
    is well; I thought her not at all so last night. You will tell
    me the truth, though she in her own case, and in that alone,
    allows herself mental reservation.

    “Forgive me for writing nothing to-night but about you two and
    myself. Of what can I have thought else? I have not spoken
    to a single person but my own servants since we parted last
    night. I found a message here from Miss Howe[120] to invite me
    for this evening. Do you think I have not preferred staying
    at home to write to you, as this must go to London to-morrow
    morning by the coach to be ready for Tuesday’s post? My future
    letters shall talk of other things, whenever I know anything
    worth repeating; or perhaps any trifle, for I am determined
    to forbid myself lamentations that would weary you; and the
    frequency of my letters will prove there is no forgetfulness.
    If I live to see you again, you will then judge whether I am
    changed; but a friendship so rational and so pure as mine
    is, and so equal for both, is not likely to have any of the
    fickleness of youth, when it has none of its other ingredients.
    It was a sweet consolation to the short time that I may have
    left, to fall into such a society; no wonder then that I am
    unhappy at that consolation being abridged. I pique myself on
    no philosophy, but what a long use and knowledge of the world
    had given me--the philosophy of indifference to most persons
    and events. I do pique myself on not being ridiculous at this
    very late period of my life; but when there is not a grain of
    passion in my affection for you two, and when you both have
    the good sense not to be displeased at my telling you so,
    (though I hope you would have despised me for the contrary,) I
    am not ashamed to say that your loss is heavy to me; and that
    I am only reconciled to it by hoping that a winter in Italy,
    and the journeys and sea air, will be very beneficial to two
    constitutions so delicate as yours. Adieu! my dearest friends.
    It would be tautology to subscribe a name to a letter, every
    line of which would suit no other man in the world but the
    writer.”



CHAPTER X.

    Walpole’s love of English Scenery.--Richmond Hill.--Burke on
    the French Revolution.--The Berrys at Florence.--Death of
    George Selwyn.--London Solitude.--Repairs at Cliveden.--Burke
    and Fox.--The Countess of Albany.--Journal of a Day.--Mrs.
    Hobart’s Party.--Ancient Trade with India.--Lady Hamilton.--A
    Boat Race.--Return of the Berrys.--Horace succeeds to the
    Peerage.--Epitaphium Vivi Auctoris.--His Wives.--Mary
    Berry.--Closing Years.--Love of Moving Objects.--Visit
    from Queen Charlotte.--Death of Conway.--Final Illness of
    Horace.--His Last Letter.


It cannot, we fear, be said with truth that Walpole had much eye for
the greater beauties of nature. When he recalls the travels of his
youth, it is on the Gallery at Florence and the Fair of Reggio that
his memory dwells, rather than on his ride to the Grande Chartreuse
or his visit to Naples. But of the modest charms of English scenery
he had a real and thorough enjoyment. The enthusiasm expressed in his
Essay on “Modern Gardening” has a more genuine ring about it than is
often found in his writings. In reading it, one does not doubt that
his praises of “the rich blue prospects of Kent, the Thames-watered
views in Berkshire, and the magnificent scale of nature in Yorkshire,”
were something more than compliments to friends who happened to have
seats in those districts. Yet there was one spot which he admired more
than even these captivating scenes. At the bottom of his heart, he
was persuaded that no stream in the world could compare with his own
reaches of the Thames, nor any mountain or hill with Richmond Hill.
And what he believed in his heart, he was not always slow to proclaim
with mouth and pen. Thus in describing the effects of a tempest, he
writes: “The greatest ruin is at my nephew Dysart’s at Ham, where
five-and-thirty of the old elms are blown down. I think it is no
loss, as I hope now one shall see the river from the house. He never
would cut a twig to see the most beautiful scene upon earth.” Again,
after visiting Oatlands, then recently purchased by the Duke of York,
Horace says: “I am returned to my own Thames with delight, and envy
none of the princes of the earth.” He sneers bitterly at Mr. Gilpin,
who “despised the richness, verdure, amenity of Richmond Hill, when
he had seen rocks and lakes in the north; for size and distance of
place add wonderfully to loveliness.” And when he is trying to coax
his Straw-Berries home from Florence, he tells them there is not an
acre on the banks of the Thames that should vail the bonnet to Boboli.
With the exception of an occasional visit paid during the absence of
these ladies to Conway at Henley, the six last summers and autumns
of Walpole’s life seem to have been spent almost uninterruptedly at
Twickenham. Some little time after Mrs. Clive’s death, Cliveden, or
Little Strawberry Hill, was let for a short time to Sir Robert Goodere;
but it seems that, before his young friends left England, Horace had
determined, on their return, to give Miss Berry and her sister this
house for their lives, that he might have them constantly near him.
The design succeeded. Mary and Agnes became attached to the place; it
continued to be their country residence for many years; and when, after
surviving their aged admirer for more than half a century, they died,
both unmarried, within a few months of each other, they were buried
in one grave in Petersham churchyard, opposite Twickenham, “amidst
scenes,” as their epitaph records, “which in life they had frequented
and loved.”

After despatching the farewell letter given at the end of our last
chapter, Walpole lingered at Strawberry Hill, consoling himself
with the society of Richmond, and with Burke’s “Reflections on the
Revolution in France.” The shock of that earthquake had already made
him half a Tory, and he welcomed the great orator’s declamation with
delight. “His pamphlet,” he tells Miss Berry, “came out this day
se’nnight, and is far superior to what was expected, even by his
warmest admirers. I have read it twice, and though of three hundred
and fifty pages, I wish I could repeat every page by heart. It is
sublime, profound, and gay. The wit and satire are equally brilliant;
and the whole is wise, though in some points he goes too far; yet in
general there is far less want of judgment than could be expected from
_him_. If it could be translated, which, from the wit and metaphors and
allusions, is almost impossible, I should think it would be a classic
book in all countries, except in _present_ France. To their tribunes it
speak daggers; though, unlike them, it uses none. Seven thousand copies
have been taken off by the booksellers already, and a new edition is
preparing. I hope you will see it soon.” In a subsequent letter to
both his favourites, dated Strawberry Hill, Nov. 27, 1790, he says: “I
am still here: the weather, though very rainy, is quite warm; and I
have much more agreeable society at Richmond, with small companies and
better hours, than in town, and shall have till after Christmas, unless
great cold drives me thither.” Two days later, having heard of the
arrival of the Berrys at Florence, he writes to Agnes:

    “Though I write to both at once, and reckon your letters to
    come equally from both, yet I delight in seeing your hand with
    a pen as well as with a pencil, and you express yourself as
    well with the one as with the other. Your part in that which I
    have been so happy as to receive this moment, has singularly
    obliged me, by your having saved me the terror of knowing you
    had a torrent to cross after heavy rain. No cat is so afraid
    of water for herself, as I am grown to be for you. That panic,
    which will last for many months, adds to my fervent desire
    of your returning early in the autumn, that you may have
    neither fresh water nor the ‘silky’ ocean to cross in winter.
    Precious as our insular situation is, I am ready to wish with
    the Frenchman, that you could somehow or other get to it by
    land,--‘Oui, c’est une isle toujours, je le sçais bien; mais,
    par exemple, en allant d’alentour, n’y auroit-il pas moyen d’y
    arriver par terre?’…

    “Richmond, my metropolis, flourishes exceedingly. The Duke
    of Clarence arrived at his palace there last night, between
    eleven and twelve, as I came from Lady Douglas. His eldest
    brother and Mrs. Fitzherbert dine there to-day with the Duke
    of Queensberry, as his Grace, who called here this morning,
    told me, on the very spot where lived Charles the First,
    and where are the portraits of his principal courtiers from
    Cornbury. Queensberry has taken to that palace at last, and has
    frequently company and music there in an evening. I intend to
    go.”

He was detained in the country longer than he had intended by an attack
of gout; on his return to town he announces his recovery to Lady Ossory.

                                   “Berkeley Square, Jan. 28, 1791.

    “You and Lord Ossory have been so very good to me, Madam, that
    I must pay you the first tribute of my poor reviving fingers--I
    believe they never will be their own men again; but as they
    have lived so long in your Ladyship’s service, they shall show
    their attachment to the last, like Widdrington on his stumps.
    I have had another and grievous memento, the death of poor
    Selwyn! His end was lovely, most composed and rational. From
    eight years old I had known him intimately without a cloud
    between us; few knew him so well, and consequently few knew
    so well the goodness of his heart and nature. But I will say
    no more--_Mon Chancelier vous dira le reste._[121]--No, my
    chancellor shall put an end to the session, only concluding, as
    Lord Bacon would have done for King James, with an apologue,
    ‘His Majesty’s recovery has turned the corner, and exceeding
    the old fable, has proved that the stomach can do better
    without the limbs than they could without him.’”

About the same date he describes his life in London to the Berrys:

    “I wish that complaining of people for abandoning me were an
    infallible recipe for bringing them _back_! but I doubt it
    will not do in acute cases. To-day, a few hours after writing
    the latter part of this, appeared Mr. Batt.[122] He asked many
    pardons, and I easily forgave him; for the _mortification_
    was not begun. He asked much after you both. I had a crowd
    of visits besides; but they all come past two o’clock, and
    sweep one another away before any can take root. My evenings
    are solitary enough, for I ask nobody to come; nor, indeed,
    does anybody’s evening begin till I am going to bed. I have
    outlived daylight as well as my contemporaries. What have I
    not survived? The Jesuits and the monarchy of France! and
    both without a struggle! Semiramis seems to intend to add
    Constantinople to the mass of revolutions; but is not her
    permanence almost as wonderful as the contrary explosions! I
    wish--I wish we may not be actually flippancying ourselves
    into an embroil with that Ursa-major of the North Pole. What
    a vixen little island are we, if we fight with the Aurora
    Borealis and Tippoo Saib at the end of Asia at the same time!
    You, damsels, will be like the end of the conundrum,

        “‘You’ve seen the man who saw these wondrous sights.’

    “I cannot finish this with my own hand, for the gout has
    returned a little into my right arm and wrist, and I am not
    quite so well as I was yesterday; but I had said my say, and
    have little to add. The Duchess of Gordon, t’other night,
    coming out of an assembly, said to Dundas, ‘Mr. Dundas, you are
    used to speak in public; will you call my servant?’… Adieu! I
    will begin to write again myself as soon as I can.”

In the middle of March he wrote from Strawberry Hill to Miss Berry:
“As I have mended considerably for the last four days, and as we have
had a fortnight of soft warm weather, and a south-west wind to-day, I
have ventured hither for a change of air, and to give orders about some
repairs at Cliveden; which, by the way, Mr. Henry Bunbury, two days
ago, proposed to take off my hands for his life. I really do not think
I accepted his offer.” All the spring he vibrates between London and
Twickenham. He writes again from the latter place to Miss Berry towards
the end of April:

    “To-day, when the town is staring at the sudden resignation of
    the Duke of Leeds,[123] asking the reason, and gaping to know
    who will succeed him, I am come hither with an indifference
    that might pass for philosophy; as the true cause is not known,
    which it seldom is. Don’t tell Europe; but I really am come
    to look at the repairs of Cliveden, and how they go on; not
    without an eye to the lilacs and the apple-blossoms: for even
    _self_ can find a corner to wriggle into, though friendship may
    fit out the vessel. Mr. Berry may, perhaps, wish I had more
    political curiosity; but as I must return to town on Monday for
    Lord Cholmondeley’s wedding, I may hear before the departure of
    the post, if the seals are given.”

Among the letters written to Miss Berry from town during this season,
one gives an account of the famous quarrel between Burke and Fox in the
House of Commons:

    “Mr. Fox had most imprudently thrown out a panegyric on the
    French Revolution. His most considerable friends were much
    hurt, and protested to him against such sentiments. Burke went
    much farther, and vowed to attack these opinions. Great pains
    were taken to prevent such altercation, and the Prince of Wales
    is said to have written a dissuasive letter to Burke; but he
    was immovable; and on Friday, on the Quebec Bill, he broke out,
    and sounded a trumpet against the plot, which he denounced
    as carrying on here. Prodigious clamours and interruption
    arose from Mr. Fox’s friends; but he, though still applauding
    the French, burst into tears and lamentations on the loss of
    Burke’s friendship, and endeavoured to make atonement; but
    in vain, though Burke wept too. In short, it was the most
    affecting scene possible; and undoubtedly an _unique_ one, for
    both the commanders were earnest and _sincere_.[124] Yesterday,
    a second act was expected; but mutual friends prevailed, that
    the contest should not be renewed: nay, on the same Bill, Mr.
    Fox made a profession of his faith, and declared he would
    venture his life in support of the _present_ constitution by
    Kings, Lords, and Commons. In short, I never knew a wiser
    dissertation, if the newspapers deliver it justly; and I think
    all the writers in England cannot give more profound sense to
    Mr. Fox than he possesses. I know no more particulars, having
    seen nobody this morning yet.”

Another refers to the trial of Hastings, and sundry matters of public
interest:

    “After several weeks spent in search of precedents for
    trials[125] ceasing or not on a dissolution of Parliament,
    the Peers on Monday sat till three in the morning on the
    report; when the Chancellor and Lord Hawkesbury fought for the
    cessation, but were beaten by a large majority; which showed
    that Mr. Pitt has more weight (at present) in that House too,
    than--the diamonds of Bengal. Lord Hawkesbury protested. The
    trial recommences on Monday next, and has already cost the
    public fourteen thousand pounds; the accused, I suppose, much
    more.

    “The Countess of Albany[126] is not only in England, in
    London, but at this very moment, I believe, in the palace of
    St. James’s--not restored by as rapid a revolution as the
    French, but, as was observed last night at supper at Lady
    Mount-Edgcumbe’s, by that topsy-turvy-hood that characterises
    the present age. Within these two months the Pope has been
    burnt at Paris; Madame du Barry, mistress of Louis Quinze,
    has dined with the Lord Mayor of London, and the Pretender’s
    widow is presented to the Queen of Great Britain! She is to be
    introduced by her great-grandfather’s niece, the young Countess
    of Aylesbury. That curiosity should bring her hither, I do
    not quite wonder--still less, that she abhorred her husband;
    but methinks it is not very well-bred to his family, nor very
    sensible; but a new way of _passing eldest_.[127]

                                                   “Thursday night.

    “Well! I have had an exact account of the interview of the
    two Queens, from one who stood close to them. The Dowager was
    announced as Princess of Stolberg. She was well-dressed, and
    not at all embarrassed. The King talked to her a good deal;
    but about her passage, the sea, and general topics: the Queen
    in the same way, but less. Then she stood between the Dukes of
    Gloucester and Clarence, and had a good deal of conversation
    with the former; who, perhaps, may have met her in Italy. Not
    a word between her and the Princesses; nor did I hear of the
    Prince; but he was there, and probably spoke to her. The Queen
    looked at her earnestly. To add to the singularity of the day,
    it is the Queen’s birth-day. Another odd accident: at the Opera
    at the Pantheon, Madame d’Albany was carried into the King’s
    box, and sat there. It is not of a piece with her going to
    Court, that she seals with the royal arms.…

    “Boswell has at last published his long-promised ‘Life of Dr.
    Johnson,’ in two volumes in quarto. I will give you an account
    of it when I have gone through it. I have already perceived,
    that in writing the history of Hudibras, Ralpho has not forgot
    himself--nor will others, I believe, forget _him_!”

The next is also to Miss Berry:

                                    “Berkeley Square, May 26, 1791.

    “I am rich in letters from you: I received that by Lord Elgin’s
    courier first, as you expected, and its elder the next day. You
    tell me mine entertain you; _tant mieux_. It is my wish, but
    my wonder; for I live so little in the world, that I do not
    know the present generation by sight: for, though I pass by
    them in the streets, the hats with valences, the folds above
    the chin of the ladies, and the dirty shirts and shaggy hair
    of the young men, who have levelled nobility almost as much as
    the mobility of France have, have confounded all individuality.
    Besides, if I did go to public places and assemblies, which
    my going to roost earlier prevents, the bats and owls do not
    begin to fly abroad till far in the night, when they begin to
    see and be seen. However, one of the empresses of fashion,
    the Duchess of Gordon, uses fifteen or sixteen hours of her
    four-and-twenty. I heard her journal of last Monday. She first
    went to Handel’s music in the Abbey; she then clambered over
    the benches, and went to Hastings’s trial in the Hall; after
    dinner, to the play; then to Lady Lucan’s assembly; after that
    to Ranelagh, and returned to Mrs. Hobart’s faro-table; gave a
    ball herself in the evening of that morning, into which she
    must have got a good way; and set out for Scotland the next
    day. Hercules could not have achieved a quarter of her labours
    in the same space of time.”

Before the middle of June he is settled at Twickenham. He condoles with
the Berrys:

                                   “Strawberry Hill, June 14, 1791.

    “I pity you! what a dozen or fifteen uninteresting letters
    are you going to receive! for here I am, unlikely to have
    anything to tell you worth sending. You had better come back
    incontinently--but pray do not prophesy any more; you have
    been the death of our summer, and we are in close mourning for
    it in coals and ashes. It froze hard last night: I went out
    for a moment to look at my haymakers, and was starved. The
    contents of an English June are, hay and ice, orange-flowers
    and rheumatisms! I am now cowering over the fire. Mrs. Hobart
    had announced a rural breakfast at Sans-Souci last Saturday;
    nothing being so pastoral as a fat grandmother in a row of
    houses on Ham Common. It rained early in the morning: she
    despatched post-boys, for want of Cupids and zephyrs, to stop
    the nymphs and shepherds who tend their flocks in Pall Mall and
    St. James’s Street; but half of them missed the couriers and
    arrived. Mrs. Montagu was more splendid yesterday morning, and
    breakfasted seven hundred persons on opening her great room,
    and the room with the hangings of feathers.[128] The King and
    Queen had been with her last week. I should like to have heard
    the orations she had prepared on the occasion. I was neither
    City-mouse nor Country-mouse. I did dine at Fulham on Saturday
    with the Bishop of London [Porteus]. Mrs. Boscawen, Mrs.
    Garrick, and Hannah More were there; and Dr. Beattie, whom I
    had never seen. He is quiet, simple, and cheerful, and pleased
    me. There ends my tale, this instant Tuesday! How shall I fill
    a couple of pages more by Friday morning! Oh! ye ladies on the
    Common, and ye uncommon ladies in London, have pity on a poor
    gazetteer, and supply me with eclogues or royal panegyrics!
    Moreover--or rather more under--I have had no letter from you
    these ten days, though the east wind has been as constant as
    Lord Derby.[129] I say not this in reproach, as you are so
    kindly punctual; but as it stints me from having a single
    paragraph to answer. I do not admire specific responses to
    every article; but they are great resources on a dearth.

    “Madame de Boufflers is ill of a fever, and the Duchesse de
    Biron goes next week to Switzerland;--_mais qu’est que cela
    vous fait?_”

                                                    “June 23, 1791.

    “Woe is me! I have not an atom of news to send you, but that
    the second edition of Mother Hubbard’s Tale [Mrs. Hobart’s
    party] was again spoiled on Saturday last by the rain; yet
    she had an ample assemblage of company from London and the
    neighbourhood. The late Queen of France, Madame du Barry, was
    there; and the late Queen of England, Madame d’Albany, was not.
    The former, they say, is as much altered as her kingdom, and
    does not retain a trace of her former powers. I saw her on a
    throne in the chapel of Versailles; and though then pleasing in
    face and person, I thought her _un peu passée_.

    “What shall I tell you more? that Lord Hawkesbury is added to
    the Cabinet-Council--_que vous importe_? and that Dr. Robertson
    has published a ‘Disquisition into the Trade of the Ancients
    with India;’ a sensible work--but that will be no news to you
    till you return. It was a peddling trade in those days. They
    now and then picked up an elephant’s tooth, or a nutmeg, or one
    pearl, that served Venus for a pair of pendants, when Antony
    had toasted Cleopatra in a bumper of its fellow; which shows
    that a couple was imported: but, alack! the Romans were so
    ignorant, that waiters from the Tres Tabernæ, in St. Apollo’s
    Street, did not carry home sacks of diamonds enough to pave the
    Capitol--I hate exaggerations, and therefore I do not say, to
    pave the Appian Way. One author, I think, does say, that the
    wife of Fabius Pictor, whom he sold to a Proconsul, did present
    Livia[130] with an ivory bed, inlaid with Indian gold; but,
    as Dr. Robertson does not mention it, to be sure he does not
    believe the fact well authenticated.”

[Illustration: _Sir Joshua Reynolds. Pinx._ _A. Dawson. Ph. Sc._ _J.
Raphael Smith. Sc._

_Mrs. Montagu._]

In one of our last extracts, Walpole refers to some of the French
exiles, who were now assembled in large numbers at Richmond. Shortly
afterwards came the news of the escape and recapture of the French
King and Queen. Horace writes, “I have been very much with the wretched
fugitives at Richmond. To them it is perfect despair; besides trembling
for their friends at Paris!” Nevertheless, their distresses did not
prevent them from taking part in the gaieties of Richmond:

                          “Berkeley Square, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 1791.

    “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;[131] 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--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 expressions.

    “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
    at 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. 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, etc., 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.”

At the end of September, Walpole writes to Hannah More:

    “I thank you most cordially for your inquiry after _my_ wives.
    I am in the utmost perplexity of mind about them; torn between
    hopes and fears. I believe them set out from Florence on their
    return since yesterday se’ennight, and consequently feel
    all the joy and impatience of expecting them in five or six
    weeks: but then, besides fears of roads, bad inns, accidents,
    heats and colds, and the sea to cross in November at last,
    all my satisfaction is dashed by the uncertainty whether
    they come through Germany or France. I have advised, begged,
    implored, that it may not be through those Iroquois, Lestryons,
    Anthropophagi, the Franks; and then, hearing passports were
    abolished, and the roads more secure, I half consented, as they
    wished it, and the road is much shorter; and then I repented,
    and have contradicted myself again. And now I know not which
    route they will take; nor shall enjoy any comfort from the
    thoughts of their return, till they are returned safe.

    “I am happy at and honour Miss Burney’s resolution in casting
    away golden, or rather gilt chains: others, out of vanity,
    would have worn them till they had eaten into the bone. On
    that charming young woman’s chapter[132] I agree with you
    perfectly.”

Shortly after the date of the last letter, the Berrys were back in
England. Their stay in Italy, which had been determined partly by
motives of economy, was shortened in consequence of Walpole’s eagerness
for their return. In his anxiety, he entreated them to draw on his
bankers in case of any financial difficulty; and in November, 1791,
he had the satisfaction of installing them at Little Strawberry Hill.
This was not accomplished without some vexation both to him and them.
An ill-natured rumour, which found its way into the newspapers,
attributing the attachment shown by the Berry family for Walpole to
interested motives, aroused the indignation of Miss Berry, and for
the moment threatened to produce an estrangement. The cloud, however,
blew over: the intimacy was resumed, and in a subsequent letter to the
sisters, the old man expresses his gratitude at finding that they could
bear to pass half their time with an antediluvian without discovering
any ennui or disgust.

Almost immediately after he had recovered the Berrys, Walpole became
Earl of Orford by the death of his nephew. He refers to this event, and
his feelings respecting it, in the following letter to Lady Ossory:

                                   “Berkeley Square, Dec. 10, 1791.

    “Your Ladyship has so long accustomed me to your goodness
    and partiality, that I am not surprised at your being kind
    on an occasion that is generally productive of satisfaction.
    That is not quite the case with me. Years ago, a title would
    have given me no pleasure, and at any time the management of
    a landed estate, which I am too ignorant to manage, would
    have been a burthen. That I am now to possess, should it
    prove a considerable acquisition to my fortune, which I much
    doubt, I would not purchase at the rate of the three weeks
    of misery which I have suffered, and which made me very ill,
    though I am now quite recovered. It is a story much too full
    of circumstances, and too disagreeable to me to be couched
    in a letter; some time or other I may perhaps be at leisure
    and composed enough to relate in general.--At present I have
    been so overwhelmed with business that I am now writing these
    few lines as fast as I can, to save the post, as none goes
    to-morrow, and I should be vexed not to thank your Ladyship and
    Lord Ossory by the first that departs. As, however, I owe it to
    you and to my poor nephew, I will just say that I am perfectly
    content. He has given me the whole Norfolk estate, heavily
    charged, I believe, but that is indifferent. I had reason
    to think that he had disgraced, by totally omitting me--but
    unhappy as his intellects often were, and beset as he was by
    miscreants, he has restored me to my birth-right, and I shall
    call myself obliged to him, and be grateful to his memory, as
    I am to your Ladyship, and shall be, as I have so long been,
    your devoted servant, by whatever name I may be forced to call
    myself.”

This letter has no signature. The writer for some time rarely used
his new title when he could avoid it. Some of his letters after his
succession to the peerage are signed “the late H. W.,” and some, “the
uncle of the late Earl of Orford.” In 1792, he wrote the following
“Epitaphium vivi Auctoris:”

    “An estate and an earldom at seventy-four!
    Had I sought them or wished them ’twould add one fear more,
    That of making a countess when almost fourscore.
    But Fortune, who scatters her gifts out of season,
    Though unkind to my limbs, has still left me my reason,
    And whether she lowers or lifts me I’ll try,
    In the plain simple style I have lived in, to die:
    For ambition too humble, for meanness too high.”

He could not escape the suspicion of having meditated the folly
referred to in these lines. His much talked of devotion to his “sweet
damsels” rendered this impossible. There is a tradition, handed down
by the Lord Lansdowne of the last generation, that he would have gone
through the ceremony of marriage with either sister, to make sure of
their society, and confer rank and fortune on the family; as he had
the power of charging the Orford estate with a jointure of £2,000 a
year. There is just so much evidence in support of this story that he
does appear to have avowed in society his readiness to do this for
Mary Berry, who was clearly the object of his preference. But he does
not seem to have ever made any such proposal to her, nor even to have
spoken to her on the subject. In a letter to a friend written at the
time, Miss Berry says: “Although I have no doubt that Lord Orford said
to Lady D. every word that she repeated--for last winter, at the time
the C’s.[133] talked about the matter, he went about saying all this
and more to everybody that would hear him--but I always thought it
rather to frighten and punish them than seriously wishing it himself.
And why should he? when, without the ridicule or the trouble of a
marriage, he enjoys almost as much of my society, and every comfort
from it, that he could in the nearest connexion?” Walpole was almost
certainly of the same opinion as Miss Berry. He would have shrunk from
the lasting stigma of a marriage, though he was content to bear passing
jests which, perhaps, the attention of his young friends rendered even
agreeable. In May, 1792, he writes to Lady Ossory:

    “I am indeed much obliged for the transcript of the letter
    on my ‘Wives.’ Miss Agnes has a _finesse_ in her eyes and
    countenance that does not propose itself to you, but is very
    engaging on observation, and has often made herself preferred
    to her sister, who has the most exactly fine features, and
    only wants colour to make her face as perfect as her graceful
    person; indeed neither has good health nor the air of it. Miss
    Mary’s eyes are grave, but she is not so herself; and, having
    much more application than her sister, she converses readily,
    and with great intelligence, on all subjects. Agnes is more
    reserved, but her compact sense very striking, and always to
    the purpose. In short, they are extraordinary beings, and I am
    proud of my partiality for them; and since the ridicule can
    only fall on me, and not on them, I care not a straw for its
    being said that I am in love with one of them--people shall
    choose which: it is as much with both as either, and I am
    infinitely too old to regard the _qu’en dit on_.”

Nothing could be more sentimental than Walpole’s language to and about
these ladies, but his admiration and regard for them were rational
enough. There was no dotage in the praises he lavished on their
attractions and accomplishments. However much of their first social
success may have been due to him, they proved able to perpetuate
and extend it by their personal qualities alone, without the aid
of large fortune or family connexion. And the tenor of his latest
letters seems to show that this old man of the world derived benefit
as well as amusement from their conversation. Their refinement and
unpresuming moral worth were perhaps the highest influences to which
his worn brain and heart were susceptible. One cannot help remarking
that the respect with which he treats Mary Berry is a much stronger
feeling than that which he displays for Hannah More. Though a good
deal younger, Miss Berry had travelled more, and seen more of society,
than the excellent schoolmistress from the West of England; and
with this more varied experience came wider sympathies and larger
toleration. Madam Hannah’s fervent desires for the improvement of
her friends, though always manifest, were not always accompanied by
skill to make her little homilies acceptable. Her letters to Walpole
betray some consciousness of a deficiency in this respect, and her
embarrassment was not lost upon “the pleasant Horace,” as she called
her correspondent. He complained of the too great civility and cold
complimentality of her style. The lady of Cowslip Green, who dedicated
small poems to him, adorned her letters with literary allusions, and
dropped occasional hints for his benefit, was always, in his eyes,
a blue-stocking; and this the ladies of Cliveden never were. He was
incessantly divided between his wish to treat the elder lady with
deference, and a mischievous inclination to startle her notions of
propriety. When he is tempted to transgress, he checks himself in some
characteristic phrase: “I could titter _à plusieurs reprises_; but I
am too old to be improper, and you are too modest to be _impropered_
to.” But the temptation presently returns. In short, Walpole subscribed
to Miss More’s charities, echoed her denunciations of the slave-trade,
applauded her Cheap Repository Tracts, and was ever Saint Hannah’s most
sincere friend and humble servant; but he could not help indemnifying
himself now and then by a smile at her effusive piety and bustling
benevolence. On the other hand, the entire and unqualified respect
which Lord Orford entertained for Miss Berry’s abilities and character
was shown, not merely by the particular expressions of affection and
esteem so profusely scattered through his letters to her, and by
the whole tone of the correspondence between them, but still more
decisively by the circumstance that he entrusted to her the care of
preparing a posthumous edition of his works, and bequeathed to her
charge all necessary papers for that purpose. This he did in fact, for
though in his will he appointed her father[134] as his editor, it was
well understood that that was merely a device to avoid the publication
of her name, and the task was actually performed by her alone.

During the rest of Walpole’s life, three-fourths of each year were
spent by him in constant association with the Berrys either at
Twickenham or in London. The months which they employed in visits
to other friends or to watering-places, he passed for the most part
at Strawberry Hill, sending forth constant letters to Yorkshire,
Cheltenham, Broadstairs, or where-ever else his wives might be staying.
He laughs at his own assiduity. “I put myself in mind of a scene in
one of Lord Lansdowne’s plays, where two ladies being on the stage,
and one going off, the other says, ‘Heaven, she is gone! Well, I must
go and write to her.’ This was just my case yesterday.” The postman at
Cheltenham complained of being broken down by the continual arrival
of letters from Twickenham. At other times, Walpole’s pen was now
comparatively idle. When in town, he beguiled the hours as best he
could with the customers who still resorted to his coffee-house to
discuss the news of the day. But he generally preferred his villa till
quite the end of autumn. “What could I do with myself in London?” he
asks Miss Berry. “All my playthings are here, and I have no playfellows
left there! Reading composes little of my pastime either in town or
country. A catalogue of books and prints, or a dull history of a
county, amuse me sufficiently; for now I cannot open a French book, as
it would keep alive ideas that I want to banish from my thoughts.” At
Strawberry, accordingly, he remained, trifling with his endless store
of medals and engravings, and watching from his windows the traffic up
and down the Thames. He has expressed his fondness for moving objects
in a passage dated in December, 1793:

    “I am glad Lord and Lady Warwick are pleased with their new
    villa [at Isleworth]: it is a great favourite with me. In my
    brother’s time [Sir Edward W.’s] I used to sit with delight
    in the bow-window in the great room, for besides the lovely
    scene of Richmond, with the river, park, and barges, there
    is an incessant ferry for foot passengers between Richmond
    and Isleworth, just under the Terrace; and on Sundays Lord
    Shrewsbury pays for all the Catholics that come to his chapel
    from the former to the latter, and Mrs. Keppel has counted
    an hundred in one day, at a penny each. I have a passion for
    seeing passengers, provided they do pass; and though I have
    the river, the road, and two foot-paths before my Blue Room
    at Strawberry, I used to think my own house dull whenever I
    came from my brother’s. Such a partiality have I for moving
    objects, that in advertisements of country-houses I have
    thought it a recommendation when there was a N.B. of _three
    stage-coaches pass by the door every day_. On the contrary, I
    have an aversion to a park, and especially for a walled park,
    in which the capital event is the coming of the cows to water.
    A park-wall with ivy on it and fern near it, and a back parlour
    in London in summer, with a dead creeper and a couple of sooty
    sparrows, are my strongest ideas of melancholy solitude. _A
    pleasing melancholy_ is a very august personage, but not at all
    good company.”

This love of life and society clung to him till the end.
Notwithstanding his crippled condition, he entertained the Duchess of
York at Strawberry Hill in the autumn of 1793, and received a visit
from Queen Charlotte there as late as the summer of 1795. He was
probably honest in disclaiming all vanity at being the poorest Earl in
England. When pressed by Lady Ossory to take his seat in the House of
Peers, he replied: “I know that having determined never to take that
unwelcome seat, I should only make myself ridiculous by fancying it
could _signify_ a straw whether I take it or not. If I have anything of
character, it must dangle on my being consistent. I quitted and abjured
Parliament near twenty years ago: I never repented, and I will not
contradict myself now.” If, however, there was any occasion on which
his earldom gave him pleasure, it was undoubtedly when the Seneschal
of Strawberry Castle was to do homage to Royal guests. Referring to
Macaulay’s taunt that Walpole had the soul of a gentleman usher, Miss
Berry remarks that the critic only repeated what Lord Orford often said
of himself, that from his knowledge of old ceremonials and etiquettes
he was sure that in a former state of existence he must have been a
gentleman usher about the time of Elizabeth. Walpole sends Conway a
brief account of the Queen’s visit:

                                    “Strawberry Hill, July 2, 1795.

    “As you are, or have been, in town, your daughter [Mrs. Damer]
    will have told you in what a bustle I am, preparing, not to
    visit, 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, etc.,

                                              “A POOR OLD REMNANT.”

                                                     “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, 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. 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 upstairs; 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 did to Queen
    Mary.”[135]

Conway died suddenly two days after the date of the last letter. He
had received the truncheon of a Field-Marshall less than two years
before. Like his old friend Horace, he attained the last distinction
of his life when he was too old to enjoy it. Horace lingered on twenty
months longer in constantly increasing debility. In the latter part of
December, 1796, he was seen to be sinking, and his friends prevailed
on him to remove from Strawberry Hill to Berkeley Square, to be nearer
assistance in case of any sudden seizure. The account of his last
days is thus given by Miss Berry: “When not immediately suffering
from pain, his mind was tranquil and cheerful. He was still capable
of being amused, and of taking some part in conversation; but during
the last weeks of his life, when fever was superadded to his other
ills, his mind became subject to the cruel hallucination of supposing
himself neglected and abandoned by the only persons to whom his memory
clung, and whom he always desired to see. In vain they recalled to
his recollection how recently they had left him, and how short had
been their absence; it satisfied him for the moment, but the same idea
recurred as soon as he had lost sight of them. At last nature, sinking
under the exhaustion of weakness, obliterated all ideas but those of
mere existence, which ended without a struggle on the 2nd of March,
1797.”

Horace Walpole’s last letter was addressed, as was fitting, to Lady
Ossory, then almost the sole survivor of his early friends:

                                                    “Jan. 15, 1797.

    “MY DEAR MADAM,--

    “You distress me infinitely by showing my idle notes, which I
    cannot conceive can amuse anybody. My old-fashioned breeding
    impels me every now and then to reply to the letters you honour
    me with writing, but in truth very unwillingly, for I seldom
    can have anything particular to say; I scarce go out of my own
    house, and then only to two or three private places, where I
    see nobody that really knows anything, and what I learn comes
    from newspapers, that collect intelligence from coffee-houses;
    consequently what I neither believe nor report. At home I see
    only a few charitable elders, except about four-score nephews
    and nieces of various ages, who are each brought to me about
    once a year, to stare at me as the Methusaleh of the family,
    and they can only speak of their own contemporaries, which
    interest me no more than if they talked of their dolls, or bats
    and balls. Must not the result of all this, Madam, make me a
    very entertaining correspondent? And can such letters be worth
    showing? or can I have any spirit when so old, and reduced to
    dictate?

    “Oh! my good Madam, dispense with me from such a task, and
    think how it must add to it to apprehend such letters being
    shown. Pray send me no more such laurels, which I desire no
    more than their leaves when decked with a scrap of tinsel,
    and stuck on twelfth-cakes that lie on the shop-boards of
    pastrycooks at Christmas. I shall be quite content with a sprig
    of rosemary thrown after me, when the parson of the parish
    commits my dust to dust. Till then, pray, Madam, accept the
    resignation of your

                                               “Ancient Servant,

                                                          “ORFORD.”

Besides numerous portraits of Horace Walpole, we have two pen-and-ink
sketches of him, one by Miss Hawkins, the other by Pinkerton. The
lady describes[136] him as she knew him before 1772: “His figure was
not merely tall, but more properly long and slender to excess; his
complexion, and particularly his hands, of a most unhealthy paleness.
His eyes were remarkably bright and penetrating, very dark and lively;
his voice was not strong, but his tones were extremely pleasant.… I do
not remember his common gait; he always entered a room in that style of
affected delicacy which fashion had then made almost natural: _chapeau
bas_ between his hands, as if he wished to compress it, or under his
arm; knees bent, and feet on tiptoe, as if afraid of a wet floor. His
dress in visiting was most usually, in summer, when I most saw him,
a lavender suit, the waistcoat embroidered with a little silver, or
of white silk worked in the tambour; partridge silk stockings, and
gold buckles; ruffles and frill, generally lace. I remember, when a
child, thinking him very much under-dressed, if at any time, except
in mourning, he wore hemmed cambric. In summer no powder, but his wig
combed straight, and showing his very smooth, pale forehead, and
queued behind; in winter, powder.”

Miss Hawkins, who was recording in her old age the impressions of
her girlhood, is clearly mistaken as to the height of Walpole’s
figure. Pinkerton paints him as he was at a later period, and adds
several details of his domestic habits. We give the main part of
the antiquary’s description,[137] and generally in his own words:
The person of Horace Walpole was short and slender, but compact and
neatly formed. When viewed from behind, he had somewhat of a boyish
appearance, owing partly to the simplicity of his dress. His laugh was
forced and uncouth, and his smile not the most pleasing. His walk was
enfeebled by the gout, which not only affected his feet, but attacked
his hands to such a degree that his fingers were always swelled and
deformed, and discharged large chalk-stones once or twice a year.
When at Strawberry Hill, he generally rose about nine o’clock, and
appeared in the breakfast-room, his favourite Blue Room overlooking
the Thames. His approach was proclaimed, and attended, by a favourite
little dog, the legacy of the Marquise du Deffand; and which ease and
attention had rendered so fat that it could hardly move. The dog had
a liberal share of his breakfast; and as soon as the meal was over,
Walpole would mix a large basinful of bread and milk, and throw it
out of the window for the squirrels, who presently came down from the
high trees to enjoy their allowance. Dinner was served in the small
parlour, or large dining-room, as it happened; in winter, generally
the former. His valet supported him downstairs; and he ate most
moderately of chicken, pheasant, or any light food. Pastry he disliked,
as difficult of digestion, though he would taste a morsel of venison
pie. Never but once that he drank two glasses of white wine,[138]
did Pinkerton see him taste any liquor, except ice-water. A pail of
ice was placed under the table, in which stood a decanter of water,
from which he supplied himself with his favourite beverage. If his
guests liked even a moderate quantity of wine, they must have called
for it during dinner, for almost instantly after he rang the bell to
order coffee upstairs. Thither he would pass about five o’clock; and
generally resuming his place on the sofa, would sit till two o’clock in
the morning, in miscellaneous chit-chat, full of singular anecdotes,
strokes of wit, and acute observations, occasionally sending for books
or curiosities, or passing to the library, as any reference happened
to arise in conversation. After his coffee he tasted nothing; but the
snuff-box of _tabac d’étrennes_, from Fribourg’s, was not forgotten,
and was replenished from a canister lodged in an ancient marble urn
of great thickness, which stood in the window-seat, and served to
secure its moisture and rich flavour. Such was a private rainy day of
Horace Walpole. The forenoon quickly passed in roaming through the
numerous apartments of the house, in which, after twenty visits,
still something new would occur; and he was indeed constantly adding
fresh acquisitions. Sometimes a walk in the grounds would intervene,
on which occasions he would go out in his slippers through a thick
dew; and he never wore a hat.[139] He said that, on his first visit
to Paris, he was ashamed of his effeminacy, when he saw every little
meagre Frenchman, whom even he could have thrown down with a breath,
walking without a hat, which he could not do without a certainty of
that disease which the Germans say is endemical in England, and is
termed by the nation _le catch-cold_. The first trial cost him a slight
fever, but he got over it, and never caught cold afterwards: draughts
of air, damp rooms, windows open at his back, all situations were alike
to him in this respect. He would even show some little offence at any
solicitude expressed by his guests on such an occasion; and would say,
with a half smile of seeming crossness, “My back is the same with my
face, and my neck is like my nose.”

THE END.

BILLING AND SONS, PRINTERS, GUILDFORD AND LONDON.



FOOTNOTES


[1] “The Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford, edited by Peter
Cunningham.”

[2] A second edition was published in 1866.

[3] _E.g._, in Jesse’s “Memoirs of George III.”

[4] Or in 1732, if the dates of some letters published in _Notes and
Queries_, 4th Series, vol. iii., p. 2, can be trusted. But as the
second of these letters, the date of which is given as Sep. 18, 1732,
refers to the death of Walpole’s mother, and as we know, from his own
statement, that Lady Walpole died Aug. 20, 1737, there seems to be an
error.

[5] The story that Horace was of Hervey blood was first published in
some Introductory Anecdotes prefixed to the later editions of the
works of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. These anecdotes were contributed
by Lady Louisa Stuart, daughter of Lord Bute, the Prime Minister,
and grand-daughter of Lady Mary. Her statement about Walpole, though
generally accepted, has perhaps received more credit than it deserves,
but _se non è vero, è ben trovato_. The similarity, both in matter and
composition, between the memoirs of Lord Hervey and those of Horace
Walpole is certainly remarkable.

[6] Born in July, 1719. He was second son of the first Lord Conway
by his third wife, Charlotte Shorter, sister of Lady Walpole. He was
Secretary in Ireland during the vice-royalty of William, fourth Duke
of Devonshire; then Groom of the Bedchamber to George II. and to
George III.; became Secretary of State in 1765; Lieutenant-General of
the Ordnance in 1770; Commander-in-Chief in 1782; and was created a
Field-Marshal in 1793. He married the Dowager Countess of Aylesbury, by
whom he had an only child, Mrs. Damer, the sculptor, to whom Walpole
left Strawberry Hill.

[7] One of his papers in _The World_ contains an account of an escape
which he had, in 1749, of being shot by highwaymen in Hyde Park. His
face was grazed by a ball from the pistol of one of his assailants,
which went off accidentally before aim had been taken. An allusion to
this adventure will be found in one of our extracts.

[8] Letter to John Pinkerton, Dec. 26, 1791.

[9] “I have been called a Republican; I never was quite that.”--Walpole
to Lady Ossory, July 7, 1782.

[10] Letter to Mann, July 10, 1782.

[11] Letter to Lady Ossory, July 7, 1782.

[12] Miss Berry.

[13] Letter to Sir Horace Mann.

[14] Letter to Sir Horace Mann, July 1, 1762.

[15] Son of Brigadier-General Edward Montagu, and nephew to the second
Earl of Halifax. He was member of Parliament for Northampton, usher of
the Black Rod in Ireland during the lieutenancy of the Earl of Halifax,
ranger of Salsey Forest, and private secretary to Lord North when
Chancellor of the Exchequer.

[16] Had Chatterton appealed simply to Walpole’s charity, he would not
have been rejected. This was the opinion of those who knew Horace best.
But, apart from the imposture sought to be palmed on him, Walpole did
not profess to be a patron of literature or the arts. An artist has
pencils, he would say, and an author has pens, and the public must
reward them as it sees fit.

[17] Thus described by Walpole in his account of the pictures at
Houghton: “The Virgin and Child, a most beautiful, bright, and capital
picture, by Dominichino: bought out of the Zambeccari Palace at Bologna
by Horace Walpole, junior.”

[18] The Princess of Campoflorido.

[19] Lord Orford’s successor as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

[20] When he [Kilmarnock] beheld the fatal scaffold covered with black
cloth; the executioner, with his axe and his assistants; the saw-dust,
which was soon to be drenched with his blood; the coffin, prepared to
receive the limbs which were yet warm with life; above all, the immense
display of human countenances which surrounded the scaffold like a sea,
all eyes being bent on the sad object of the preparation,--his natural
feelings broke forth in a whisper to the friend on whose arm he leaned,
“Home, this is terrible!” No sign of indecent timidity, however,
affected his behaviour.--_Sir Walter Scott’s Tales of my Grandfather._

[21] Afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury. Walpole had a strong and
unreasonable prejudice against him.

[22] Thomas Sherlock, Master of the Temple; first, Bishop of Salisbury,
and afterwards of London.--WALPOLE.

[23] She was daughter of the Duke of Grafton.

[24] His gait was so singular, that he was called Peter Shamble.

[25] Mrs. Lloyd of Spring Gardens, to whom the Earl of Haddington was
married this year.

[26] An Irish adventurer, whose fine person had induced the Dowager
Duchess of Manchester to marry him. He was afterwards created Earl of
Beaulieu. O’Brien, it seems, was even taller than Hussey.

[27] Walpole had given this Chinese name to a pond of gold-fish at
Strawberry Hill.

[28] It was written by Mrs. Halket of Wardlaw. Mr. Lockhart states,
that on the blank leaf of his copy of Allan Ramsay’s “Evergreen,” Sir
Walter Scott has written, “Hardyknute was the first poem that I ever
learnt, the last that I shall forget.”

[29] The “Siege of Aquileia,” a tragedy, by John Home, produced at
Drury Lane, 21st February, 1760.

[30] The living of Coxwold, in Yorkshire.

[31] “My flatterers here are all mutes. The oaks, the beeches, the
chestnuts, seem to contend which best shall please the Lord of the
Manor. They cannot deceive, they will not lie.”--_Sir Robert Walpole to
General Churchill_, Houghton, June 24th, 1743.

[32] “Queen Charlotte had always been if not ugly, at least ordinary,
but in her later years her want of personal charms became of course
less observable, and it used to be said that she was grown better
looking. I one day said something to this effect to Colonel Disbrowe,
her Chamberlain. ‘Yes,’ replied he, ‘I do think that the _bloom_ of her
ugliness is going off.’”--CROKER.

[33] “The recluse life led here at Richmond, which is carried to such
an excess of privacy and economy, that the Queen’s friseur waits on
them at dinner, and that four pounds only of beef are allowed for their
soup, disgusts all sorts of people.”--_Walpole to Lord Hertford, Sep.
9, 1764._

[34] Walpole was thinking of an anecdote he had told in a previous
letter. “The old Maréchale de Villars gave a vast dinner [at Paris] to
the Duchess of Bedford. In the middle of the dessert, Madame de Villars
called out, ‘Oh dear! they have forgot! yet I bespoke them, and I am
sure they are ready; you English love hot rolls--bring the rolls.’
There arrived a huge dish of hot rolls, and a sauce-boat of melted
butter.”

[35] “The Duc de Nivernois [the French ambassador] called here the
other day in his way from Hampton Court; but, as the most sensible
French never have eyes to see anything, unless they see it every day
and see it in fashion, I cannot say he flattered me much, or was much
struck with Strawberry. When I carried him into the Cabinet, which I
have told you is formed upon the idea of a Catholic chapel, he pulled
off his hat, but perceiving his error, he said, ‘_Ce n’est pas une
chapelle pourtant_,’ and seemed a little displeased.”--_Walpole to
Mann, April 30, 1763._

[36]

                        “Esher’s peaceful grove
    Where Kent and Nature vie for Pelham’s love.”--_Pope._

                                “Esher’s groves,
    Where, in the sweetest solitude, embraced
    By the soft windings of the silent Mole,
    From courts and senates Pelham finds repose.”--_Thomson._

[37] Mrs. Anne Pitt, sister of Lord Chatham.

[38] Miss Chudleigh.

[39] Afterwards Dukes of Gloucester and Cumberland.

[40] The old Bedlam stood in Moorfields.

[41] The substance of this petition, and the grave answer which the
King was advised to give to such a ludicrous appeal, are preserved in
the _Gentleman’s Magazine_ for 1765, p. 95; where also we learn that
Mr. Walpole’s idea of the Carpenters’ petition was put in practice, and
his Majesty was humbly entreated to wear a wooden leg himself, and to
enjoin all his servants to do the same. It may, therefore, be presumed
that this _jeu d’esprit_ was from the pen of Mr. Walpole.

[42] “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.”--_Walpole to Mann._

[43] He alludes to his Roman Eagle at Strawberry Hill.

[44] The installation of the Duke of Grafton as Chancellor of the
University of Cambridge. Gray wrote the Ode for the occasion.

[45] The proceedings of the House of Commons against Wilkes had just
produced a Ministerial crisis.

[46] Maria Walpole, Countess Dowager of Waldegrave, who had now
secretly married William Henry, Duke of Gloucester.

[47] Sons of Francis, Earl of Hertford, Mr. Walpole’s cousin-german.

[48] Mr. Walpole’s nephews.

[49] The Pantheon.

[50] In the comedy of “The Provoked Husband.”

[51] Benjamin West, afterwards, at Sir Joshua’s death, President of the
Royal Academy of Arts.

[52] Lady Anne Howard, daughter of Henry, fourth Earl, and sister of
Frederick, fifth Earl of Carlisle.

[53] The Temple of Friendship, like the ruins in the Campo Vaccino, is
reduced to a single column at Stowe.--_Walpole to Crauford, 6th March,
1766._

[54] ‘He dropped me, partly from politics and partly from caprice, for
we never had any quarrel; but he was grown an excessive humourist,
and had shed almost all his friends as well as me. He had parts, and
infinite vivacity and originality till of late years; and it grieved
me much that he had changed towards me after a friendship of between
thirty and forty years.’ This is Walpole’s account written to Cole
the day after Montagu’s death. But Montagu’s last letter to Walpole,
dated October 6, 1770, is cordial and even affectionate in tone; while
in Walpole’s preceding letter there are some signs of pique, and the
letter from Horace which ends the correspondence is both short and cold.

[55] He means Gloucester House.

[56] ‘I went to the House of Commons 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.’--_Walpole to Mann,
April 9, 1772._

[57] Walpole’s playful name for Little Strawberry Hill, a cottage near
his villa, and belonging to him, which he gave to Mrs. Clive, the
actress, for her life.

[58] Mrs. Clive’s brother, who lived with her.

[59] A new singer who attained great celebrity.

[60] A comedy by Hugh Kelly.

[61] Lady Louisa Fitzpatrick, Lord Ossory’s sister, afterwards married
to the Earl of Shelburne.

[62] The period of the year when Lady Ossory left Ampthill for Farming
Woods.

[63] His quitting Parliament.

[64] Lord Clive, in fact, cut his throat, as Walpole, correcting
himself, mentions in a postscript to this letter.

[65] In 1760, Walpole wrote: “General Clive is arrived, all over
estates and diamonds. If a beggar asks charity, he says, ‘Friend, I
have no small brilliants about me.’”

[66] They poisoned Pope Ganganelli.--WALPOLE.

[67] “Who knows but that hereafter some traveller like myself will
sit down upon the banks of the Seine, the Thames, or the Zuyder Zee?…
Who knows but that he will sit down solitary amid silent ruins?”
etc.--Volney’s _Ruins_.

“When London shall be an habitation of bitterns, when St. Paul’s and
Westminster Abbey shall stand, shapeless and nameless ruins, in the
midst of an unpeopled marsh; … some Transatlantic commentator will be
weighing … the respective merits of the Bells and the Fudges, and their
historians.”--Shelley, _Dedication to Peter Bell the Third_.

The rest are still more remote.

[68] Walpole, as well as Macaulay, repeats himself: “Nations at the
acme of their splendour, or at the eve of their destruction, are
worth observing. When they grovel in obscurity afterwards, they
furnish neither events nor reflections; strangers visit the vestiges
of the Acropolis, or may come to dig for capitals among the ruins
of St. Paul’s; but nobody studies the manners of the pedlars and
banditti that dwell in mud huts within the precincts of a demolished
temple.”--_Letter to Mason, dated May 12, 1778, first published in
1851._

[69] Thomas, second Lord Lyttelton; he had been at Florence.

[70] Thomas Lennard Barret; his wife was sister of Lord Camden.

[71] The lady’s dog, which, on her death, passed into the care of
Walpole.

[72] This picture, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, was painted for Mr. Rigby.
The attitude of Miss Vernon is, as Walpole here says, affected. That of
Lord William Russell illustrates the genius of Sir Joshua. The story is
told, that the boy was unwilling to stand still for his portrait, and
running about the room, crouched in a corner to avoid it. Sir Joshua,
at once seizing the possibility of painting him so, said, “Well, stay
there, my little fellow,” and drew him in a natural position of fear at
the dragon.--R. VERNON SMITH (afterwards LORD LYVEDEN).

[73] ‘I forgot to tell you that the town of Birmingham has petitioned
the Parliament to enforce the American Acts, that is, make war; for
they have a manufacture of swords and muskets.’--WALPOLE TO MANN, Jan.
27th, 1775.

‘Is it credible that five or six of the great _trading_ towns have
presented addresses against the Americans?--SAME TO SAME, Oct. 10,
1775. The writer tries to persuade himself that these addresses were
procured by ‘those boobies, the country gentlemen.’

[74] The Lady Louisa Fitzpatrick before referred to.--_See p. 131._

[75] Horace’s nephew, the mad earl.

[76] The Prince was now in his eighteenth year, having been born on the
12th of August, 1762.

[77] The Duke was in disgrace with the King on account of his marriage.

[78] Referring to a rumour that he had been appointed ambassador to
Spain.

[79] An Act passed in 1778 relaxing the penal laws against Roman
Catholics.

[80] Count Haslang, Minister from the Elector of Bavaria: he had been
here from the year 1740.

[81] Mademoiselle Fagniani, Selwyn’s adopted daughter.

[82] Walpole’s printer.

[83] Author of an “Essay on Prints,” the third edition of which he
dedicated to Horace Walpole.

[84] Afterwards Sir Nathaniel William Wraxall, Bart., known by his
“Memoirs of His Own Life.”

[85] This was the second Exhibition at Somerset House. The first was in
May, 1780.

[86] On the 7th of June, Mr. Fox moved for leave to bring in a bill to
amend the Act of the 26th of George II., for preventing clandestine
marriages. The bill passed the Commons, but was rejected by the Lords.

[87] “Mr. Fox never had much intimate intercourse with Horace Walpole;
did not, I think, like him at all; had no opinion of his judgment or
conduct; probably had imbibed some prejudice against him, for his
ill-usage of his father; and certainly entertained an unfavourable,
and even unjust, opinion of his abilities as a writer.” So says
Lord Vassall-Holland in one of the passages from his pen printed in
Russell’s Memorials of Fox. See vol. i., p. 276. It may be mentioned
here, that Lord Holland’s Collections for the Life of Fox, which are
contained in the work just referred to, include numerous extracts from
manuscript papers of Horace Walpole. “These papers, the property of
Lord Waldegrave, were lent to me,” says Lord Holland, “and have been
long in my possession.” That the manuscripts to which Lord Holland
thus had access comprised the portion of Walpole’s correspondence with
Mann, which was first published in 1843, appears by several passages
which his lordship quotes from these letters. Is it possible that this
circumstance may furnish a solution of the ethnological question, to
which we have adverted on p. 141, as to the descent of Macaulay’s New
Zealander from Walpole’s Peruvian? From 1831 Macaulay had been an
_habitué_ of Holland House. Trevelyan’s “Life of Lord Macaulay,” vol.
i. p. 176, et seq.

[88] An ordinance of the Great-Duke against high head-dresses.

[89] A neighbour at Twickenham.

[90] There can be no doubt that Horace about this time, as on former
occasions, had dreamed of seeing Conway in the position of Prime
Minister. The General had taken a prominent part in the last attacks
upon Lord North, and when the latter gave place to Lord Rockingham’s
second Administration, the services of the former were requited by the
office of Commander-in-Chief, with a seat in the Cabinet. But Walpole’s
illusion about his friend was finally dispelled when, in the search for
a leader which went on during and after Lord Rockingham’s last illness,
it appeared that Conway’s name occurred to no one but himself.--_See
Walpole to Mason, May 7, 1882, and to Mann, July 1, 1782._

[91] He did get but five of his sons into that Parliament.--WALPOLE.

[92] Lord Hood was an admiral.

[93] Almost all the hackney-chairmen in London were Irish.

[94] “The fact of the Duchess having purchased the vote of a stubborn
butcher by a kiss, is, we believe, undoubted. It was probably during
the occurrence of these scenes that the well-known compliment was
paid to her by an Irish mechanic: ‘I could light my pipe at her
eyes.’”--_Jesse’s_ “Selwyn,” vol. iv., p, 118.

[95] “Fox said that Sayers’s caricatures had done him more mischief
than the debates in Parliament, or the works of the press. The prints
of Carlo Khan, Fox running away with the India House, Fox and Burke
quitting Paradise when turned out of office, and many others of these
publications, had certainly a vast effect on the public mind.”--_Lord
Chancellor Eldon_, “Life of Twiss,” vol. i., p. 162. This very apt
quotation is made by Mr. P. Cunningham in his valuable edition of
Walpole’s Letters.

[96] Alluding to some coke-ovens for which Conway obtained a patent.

[97] Mr. Pitt says, in a letter to Mr. Wilberforce, on the 8th of
April, “Westminster goes on well, in spite of the Duchess of Devonshire
and the other women of the people; but when the poll will close is
uncertain.” At the close of it, on the 17th of May, the numbers were,
for Hood, 6,694; Fox, 6,223; Wray, 5,998. Walpole, whose delicate
health at this time confined him almost entirely to his house, went in
a sedan-chair to give his vote for Mr. Fox.

[98] The Lady Caroline Petersham of the frolic at Vauxhall, related in
a former chapter. Conway in his youth had been enamoured of her.

[99] At this time commencing her career as an actress.

[100] Cole died 16th December, 1782.

[101] See page 226.

[102] Lord Strafford died 10th March, 1791.

[103] Very shortly after this visit, Miss Burney was appointed one of
the Keepers of the Queen’s Robes in the room of Madame Haggerdorn, who
retired.

[104] Born in 1745, at Stapleton, near Bristol, where her father had
the care of the Charity School. Early in life, she joined her sisters
in establishing a school for young ladies, which had great success.
In 1773 she published a pastoral drama, called “The Search after
Happiness,” and in 1774 a tragedy founded on the story of Regulus.
These works led to her introduction into London society. Her tragedy
“Percy” was produced at Covent Garden on the 10th of December, 1777,
and ran nineteen nights. About this time also she wrote “The Fatal
Falsehood,” and “Sacred Dramas.” In 1786, when she was forty years of
age, she withdrew from London, and settled at Cowslip Green, near her
native place, in which district she spent the remainder of her life,
devoting herself to works of charity, and the composition of religious
books.

[105] That is, voted that the charge relating to the spoliation of the
Begums of Oude contained matter for impeachment.

[106] Miss Elizabeth Farren, afterwards Countess of Derby.

[107] A celebrated tavern adjoining Drury Lane Theatre.

[108] Recently the seat of Lord St. Leonards.

[109] A comedy called “False Appearances,” translated from “L’Homme du
Jour” of Boissy. It was first acted at the private theatre at Richmond
House, and afterwards at Drury Lane.

[110] Meaning the establishment of the Mail-coach. Miss More, in her
last letter, had said,--“Mail-coaches, which come to others, come not
to me: letters and newspapers, now that they travel in coaches, like
gentlemen and ladies, come not within ten miles of my hermitage; and
while other fortunate provincials are studying the world and its ways,
and are feasting upon elopements, divorces, and suicides, tricked
out in all the elegancies of Mr. Topham’s phraseology, I am obliged
to be contented with village vices, petty iniquities, and vulgar
sins.”--_Memoirs_, vol. ii., p. 77.

[111] Major Topham was the proprietor of the fashionable morning
paper entitled _The World_. “In this paper,” says Mr. Gifford, in his
preface to the “Baviad,” “were given the earliest specimens of those
unqualified and audacious attacks on all private character, which
the town first smiled at for their quaintness, then tolerated for
their absurdity; and--now that other papers equally wicked and more
intelligible have ventured to imitate it--will have to lament to the
last hour of British liberty.”

[112] Walpole was mistaken here. It was their granduncle, not their
grandfather, from whom Mr. Berry had expected to inherit.

[113] The date is thus put, alluding to his age, which, in 1789, was
seventy-one.--MARY BERRY.

[114] “Bishop Bonner’s Ghost.”

[115] Her “Observations and Reflections made in the course of a Journey
through France, Italy, and Germany,” honoured with a couplet in the
“Baviad”--

    “See Thrale’s grey widow with a satchel roam,
    And bring in pomp laborious nothings home.”

[116] One half the prediction was fulfilled, since the Duke of Clarence
outlived the Duke of York, and came to the throne in 1830, on the death
of his eldest brother, at this time, 1789, the Prince of Wales.

[117] This alludes to Miss Berry’s father having been disinherited by
an uncle, to whom he was heir-at-law, and a large property left to his
younger brother.--MARY BERRY.

[118] A drawing by Miss Agnes Berry.

[119] His secretary.

[120] An unmarried sister of the first Earl Howe, who then lived at
Richmond.

[121] Here begins Kirgate’s handwriting in the MS.

[122] A friend of the Berrys. He was then one of the Commissioners for
Auditing the Public Accounts.

[123] Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He was succeeded in the
office by Lord Grenville.

[124] The following anecdote, connected with this memorable evening,
is related by Mr. Curwen, at that time member for Carlisle, in his
“Travels in Ireland:”--“The most powerful feelings were manifested on
the adjournment of the House. While I was waiting for my carriage, Mr.
Burke came to me and requested, as the night was wet, I would set him
down. As soon as the carriage-door was shut, he complimented me on my
being no friend to the revolutionary doctrines of the French; on which
he spoke with great warmth for a few minutes, when he paused to afford
me an opportunity of approving the view he had taken of those measures
in the House. At the moment I could not help feeling disinclined to
disguise my sentiments: Mr. Burke, catching hold of the check-string,
furiously exclaimed, ‘You are one of these people! set me down!’ With
some difficulty I restrained him;--we had then reached Charing Cross: a
silence ensued, which was preserved till we reached his house in Gerard
Street, when he hurried out of the carriage without speaking.”

[125] He means impeachments.

[126] Louisa Maximiliana de Stolberg Gœdern, wife of the Pretender.
After the death of Charles Edward in 1788, she travelled in Italy and
France, and lived with her favourite, the celebrated Alfieri, to whom
she is stated to have been privately married. She continued to reside
at Paris, until the progress of the revolution compelled her to take
refuge in England.

[127] A loo phrase.

[128] “There [at the opening of Hastings’s trial] were the
members of that brilliant society which quoted, criticised, and
exchanged repartees, under the rich peacock-hangings of Mrs.
Montagu.”--_Macaulay’s Essay on “Warren Hastings.”_

[129] To Miss Farren.

[130] This alludes to the stories told at the time of an ivory bed,
inlaid with gold, having been presented to Queen Charlotte by Mrs.
Hastings, the wife of the Governor-General of India.

[131] Shortly afterwards Lady Hamilton--Nelson’s Lady Hamilton.

[132] Miss Burney had recently resigned her situation about the Queen’s
person. Madame d’Arblay (Miss Burney) has entered in her Diary the
following portion of a letter addressed to her by Walpole:

“As this will come to you by my servant, give me leave to add a word on
your most unfounded idea that I can forget you, because it is almost
impossible for me ever to meet you. Believe me, I heartily regret that
privation, but would not repine, were your situation, either in point
of fortune or position, equal in any degree to your merit. But were
your talents given to be buried in obscurity? You have retired from
the world to a closet at Court--where, indeed, you will still discover
mankind, though not disclose it; for if you could penetrate its
characters, in the earliest glimpse of its superficies, will it escape
your piercing eye when it shrinks from your inspection, knowing that
you have the mirror of truth in your pocket? I will not embarrass you
by saying more, nor would have you take notice of, or reply to what I
have said: judge only, that feeling hearts reflect, not forget. Wishes
that are empty look like vanity; my vanity is to be thought capable
of esteeming you as much as you deserve, and to be reckoned, though a
very distant, a most _sincere_ friend,--and give me leave to say, dear
Madam, your most obedient humble servant, HOR. WALPOLE.

“Strawberry Hill, October, ’90.”

[133] The Cholmondeleys.

[134] The weak and indolent character of Mr. Berry made him always and
everywhere a cipher.

[135] Queen Mary asked some of her attendant ladies what a squeeze of
the hand was supposed to intimate. They said “Love.” “Then,” said the
Queen, “my vice-chamberlain must be violently in love with me, for he
always squeezes my hand.”

[136] ‘Anecdotes,’ etc., by Lætitia Matilda Hawkins, 1822.

[137] ‘Walpoliana,’ Preface.

[138] As early as 1754 he wrote to Bentley: “You know I never drink
three glasses of any wine.”

[139] “A hat, you know, I never wear, my breast I never button, nor
wear great coats, etc.”--Letter to Cole, Feb. 14, 1782.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Horace Walpole and his World - Select passages from his Letters" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home