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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES




ft-*






HORACE WALPOLE'S WORLD



LONDON: G. BELL AND SONS, LTD.
PORTUGAL STREET, KINGSWAY, W.C.
CAMBRIDGE : DEIGHTON, BELL & CO.
NEW YORK : THE MACMILLAN CO.
BOMBAY : A. H. WHEELER & CO.



HORACE WALPOLE'S
WORLD

A SKETCH OF WHIG SOCIETY
UNDER GEORGE III

BY

ALICE DRAYTON GREENWOOD




LONDON

G. BELL AND SONS, LTD.
19*3



CHISWICK PRESS: CHARLES WHITTINGHAM AND CO.
TOOKS COURT, CHANCERY LANE, LONDON.



College
Library

X>A



PREFACE

IT is a frequent grievance with the old in-
habitant who has watched his village develop
into a town, or his town into a cosmopolitan
junction, that there is no Society now. When he
was young everybody knew everyone ; he sat upon
committees beside the men whom he sat by at
dinner, the wives and children of colleagues or
rivals were the companions of his own, work and
pleasure had been harmonious in a society which,
however various its ostensible interests, was es-
sentially a unity.

With something of this sentiment does the
twentieth century regard the eighteenth and the
homogeneous social system of its upper classes.
Soldier or politician, churchman or man of fashion,
all seemed to have lived upon one plane, in one
atmosphere. It was circumscribed in view, apt to
bestow the scorn of ignorance upon those beyond
its pale, but within its own bounds it was united
and inexorable : its standards and conventions ex-
hibit an effect something like the impact of a



vi PREFACE

regiment. It was a brilliant society; a man was
expected to adorn more than one position in life,
and frequently did so with an ease apt to convey
to the anxious denizen of a world of specialization
an erroneous impression of amateurishness.

Through this active, opulent Society strolled the
acute and amiable Horace Walpole, catching the
manners living as they rose, but unaware of any
antagonism between candour and laughter. The
long row of his letterbooks offers a perspective
gallery of portraiture, or rather opens a series of
windows upon the brilliant and various scene of
eighteenth-century England, from the 'Forty-five
to the French Revolution War. He may perhaps
interpret to us something of the ideas and system
of that half-century of the great Whig dominion
in England, for he grew up in the hey-day of its
glory and lived to witness its decay. Certainly he
regarded himself as its orthodox exponent, as,
after all, was but natural in the son of Sir Robert
Walpole.

The writer of the following pages can only ask
forbearance from the familiars of " Horry " for her
inadequate effort to interpret him and his world
in brief. She would like also to express a grateful
recognition of Mrs. Paget Toynbee's magnificent
edition of Horace Walpole's " Letters."



PREFACE vii

The publishers, as well as the author, wish to
avail themselves of this opportunity of thanking
Mr. Ralph Nevill for permission to reproduce the
extremely interesting and hitherto unpublished
portrait of Walpole in early manhood, the pro-
perty of the late Lady Dorothy Nevill.

A. D. G.

OXFORD,

March 1913.



CONTENTS



PAGE



I. MR. HORACE WALPOLE i

II. LITERARY LEISURE 28

III. THE MODERN TASTE 48

IV. ON THE ROAD 76

V. WAYS AND MEANS 98

VI. SOCIETY IN FRANCE BEFORE THE REVO-
LUTION 127

VII. KING'S MINISTERS AND KING'S

FRIENDS 150

VIII. " MY DUCHESSES " 185

IX. THE LEGEND OF CHARLES JAMES Fox. 204

INDEX 251



IX



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

TO FACE
PACE

HORACE WALPOLE. From a Pastel by Rosalba
in the possession of Lady Dorothy Nevill

Frontispiece

THOMAS GRAY. From a Painting by J. JE.

Eccardt 32

ROUSHAM HALL, OXFORDSHIRE 56

STRAWBERRY HILL. From a Drawing by

Paul Sandby, R.A 76

THE THREE LADIES WALDEGRAVE. From the

Painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds . . . 106

MADAME LA MARQUISE DU DEFFAND. From
a Drawing by M. de Carmontel, formerly
at Strawberry Hill 134

THE DUCHESS OF DEVONSHIRE AND HER CHILD,
GEORGIANA, AFTERWARDS COUNTESS OF
CARLISLE. From the Painting by Sir
Joshua Reynolds 186

HORACE WALPOLE, EARL OF ORFORD, AGED 76.

From a Pencil Drawing by G. Dance . 200

CHARLES JAMES Fox. From a Painting by

K. A. Hickel 234



HORACE WALPOLE'S WORLD

i

MR. HORACE WALPOLE

r I ^HE middle of the eighteenth century found
J. the kingdom of Great Britain enjoying a
period of such profound tranquillity as would have
rejoiced the ghost of Sir Robert Walpole. The
war had ceased with the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle.
Stolid old George II seemed good for many more
years of inertia. In Parliament the strife of factions
had died away; Jacobitism was extinct and Toryism
invisible; all the world was Whig, and the Whig
aristocracy, opulent and Olympian, had no motive
for disturbing the equilibrium of Pelham's "golden
age " ministry. Even the death of the Prince of
Wales scarce stirred a ripple, for the opposition
which had centred round him had already dissolved,
and its principal figure, Mr. Pitt, was devoting
himself to the care of his health, to building a
house at Bath, and to getting married. " In the
memory of England there never was so inanimate
a time. It is more fashionable to go to church
than to either House of Parliament," grumbled
Horace Walpole, youngest son of the late famous
minister.

B



2 HORACE WALPOLE'S WORLD

To this well-to-do, clever young man the con-
ditions which blessed the commercial world gave
only cause for repining. No openings offered to
the ambitious, no scenes of interest to the ob-
server; with "no war, no politics, no madness,
no scandal," as he dolefully complains, "there
never was so dull a place as London is, and so
insipid an inhabitant of it as " himself.

Not that Mr. Walpole was at all in the habit of
feeling bored (the word had not as yet enriched
our vocabulary). He had early in life been en-
dowed by his father with sinecure places sufficient
to provide amply for comfort without support-
ing folly, his acquaintance embraced the better
part of society, and various literary and artistic
hobbies provided him with an endless stock of
interests. His position, income, tastes, and delicate
constitution permitted him to ignore inducements
to embark upon any active career. He devoted
considerable care to preserving himself in good
health and living within his means, with a per-
sistence almost heroic in those days of port wine
and extravagance, and he cultivated throughout
his long life the art of being happy. If he always
played the part of a looker-on, it was one for which
he was peculiarly fitted, since there was nobody
more familiar than he with the intricacies of those
personal ties which formed not only the basis of
society but the major portion of politics during
the greatest part of the eighteenth century.

That Society was not yet too large to be homo-
geneous, and there was a pretty general agreement



MR. HORACE WALPOLE 3

as to what 'was due to it. Wealth, of course, was
taken for granted, and so was a sound classical
education, entailing thorough study in boyhood,
which frequently led to real scholarship and made
a cultivated taste almost universal. Fine dress
and fine manners were required, a superiority to
sordid cares and to the appearance of business, a
current acquaintance with everyone's affairs, con-
stant urbanity, readiness to squander money over
games of chance at any invitation, and to jest and
chatter wittily in any circumstances : and with all
this had to be combined a considerable familiarity
with the machinery of Parliament or of the army,
neither of which then provided a complete pro-
fession, though one or other of them almost every
man of position would reckon among his occupa-
tions.

It would be doing some injustice to the con-
temporaries of George III, and particularly to
Horace Walpole, to suppose that the almost in-
variable insouciance of their letters and conversa-
tion represents a permanent temper. It was not
considered good manners to obtrude serious views ;
the impatience of the Methodists generally ex-
pressed by the polite world was due to their introduc-
tion of religious topics and phraseology amid incon-
sistent scenes and conversation ; it shocked good
taste to insist, to preach, to prose, to advertise
anything or anyone in any way. Egotism itself
would proceed, not by assertion, but by allusion,
assumption, and jest, for the sin of sins was
dullness.



4 HORACE WALPOLE'S WORLD

The sphere of political life in the eighteenth
century was hardly other than one aspect of so-
ciety, that lofty society which lived in London for
the better part of the year and regarded the rest
of the kingdom as a spacious setting for its coun-
try palaces.

It had long been recognized as a law of nature
that the magnates whose ancestors had placed
William III on the throne of the Stewarts had
inherited the right of directing the destinies of
their country, and, with the native talent for
organization, they had done so on a method which
had produced a modernized feudal system. Borough
seats became the property of the nobles, even
county elections it was possible to influence. The
House of Commons, then, consisted of small groups
of members ; there were the members who ' ' be-
longed to the Duke of Cumberland," "the Prin-
cess's people," " Lord Cobham's young men,"
"the Scotch," the Duke of Bedford's or the Duke
of Devonshire's members, the Grenvilles, the
Townshends, etc.

From boyhood, a member of one of the great
governing families breathed the atmosphere of
family traditions and acquired instinctively the
political, as he did the social, habits of the class
in which he was born. Father, brothers, cousins,
connections, formed a close group whose members
spoke and voted in concert, much as they dined
with, or quarrelled with, some family of equal
pretensions in their county. Such a coterie pro-
vided a far closer and more determined party-



MR. HORACE WALPOLE 5

nucleus than the vaguer congeries indicated by the
old names Whig or Tory. And a sentiment of
common pride operated as strongly as self-interest
to bind together in political action those who were
already linked in personal concerns.

Thus it was considered both natural and creditable
in Charles Fox, whose parents had made a run-away
match, to be through life a fierce opponent of Acts
of Parliament intended to reform the scandals of
Fleet marriages, or check the abductions of young
girls; and it was equally a matter of course,
that when the Duke of Bedford opposed the bill
for the new Paddington highway because it would
be so disagreeable a sight from the back windows
of his palace the Duke of Grafton should prove
a keen supporter of the new public road.

Fortunately for Horace Walpole his position in
the arena of politics was exactly suited to his tem-
perament. He had been too youthful during his
father's last years of power to become identified
with any particular policy, yet, as his elder brothers
eschewed public life, it was Horace who was ac-
credited with the prestige due to his name. His
principal friends were of the non-committal type;
his first cousin, Henry Conway, alone among his
intimate friends, was ambitious of a parliamentary
career, and Conway was not a man of decided views,
but amiably ready to hold important office under a
succession of Prime Ministers. He and his elder
brother, the Marquis of Hertford, belonged to the
most aristocratic, exclusive and honourable, the
least sordid but the least forcible of the political



6 HORACE WALPOLE'S WORLD

groups of the day, to the group which, during the
reign of George III, arrogated to itself the ex-
clusive title of the Whigs. It was led by the racing
Marquis of Rockingham, a somewhat colourless
person in politics but considerably influenced by his
private secretary Mr. Burke, much as the Marquis's
rival, the Duke of Bedford, depended upon his poli-
tical secretary Mr. Rigby. To the Rockingham
party belonged a company of highly respectable
dukes, they of Devonshire, Portland, Richmond,
and Rutland, besides such Cavendishes and Man-
nerses, Conways and Keppels as considered it their
duty to grace the Lower House with an occasional
speech. They are in these days remembered chiefly
for the splendid name of Burke, but their great asset
then was the popular Marquis of Granby, the hero
of Minden, whose name may still be found on the
signboard of many an old inn. It was among
"the Rockinghams " that Mr. Horace Walpole
sat and watched the parliamentary game.

The entertainment was intellectual : debate was
regarded as the principal purpose for which the
House of Commons existed, and the audience be-
came almost as critical as Athenians. To listen
to brilliant speakers scoring neat points against
each other, pouring out brisk retort and fierce in-
vective, sailing near the wind and skilfully recover-
ing, was sheer delight. No convictions, no feelings
and few interests of any importance were hazarded.
National business there was none, for nobody as
yet dreamed of introducing innovation into the
legal or social conditions of the country, though



MR. HORACE WALPOLE 7

the extremes of wealth and poverty were to be
observed side by side in a contrast never before so
sharp, and heightened only in the latter half of
the same century. Some scores of highway or
enclosure Bills, an Act to send the assizes from
Aylesbury to Buckingham, for the convenience of
Lord Temple, or perhaps the divorce Act of a
peer, represented the business of Parliament.

Thus, in 1754, it looked as if with political faction
was extinguished political life itself, and Horace
Walpole reckoned it an additional grievance against
Henry Pelham, whom he chose to detest as his
father's ungrateful protege and political heir. For
it was Pelham's skill which had convinced the
various personal interests which swayed the Houses
of Parliament that they could expect no profit save
from himself.

Suddenly the political world was struck aghast
by the premature death of the minister. " Now I
shall have no more peace, " grumbled old George 1 1,
and Walpole corroborates the forecast. " He could
not have died at a more critical time : all the elec-
tions were settled, all bargains made and much
money advanced." He sarcastically hints that the
oligarchy were already becoming doubtful of the
advantages of unanimity, finding that "it lowered
their prices to have but one purchaser," for "though
there never was so little party, nor so little to be
made by a seat in Parliament, either with regard
to profit or fame, there never was such established
bribery, or so profuse." Government had been re-
duced to the business of purchasing a sufficient



8 HORACE WALPOLE'S WORLD

number of votes to maintain the Minister and his
friends securely in their places.

At first Pelham's death merely placed his far less
able elder brother, the Duke of Newcastle, in con-
trol of his system. How mortifying it must be,
laughs Walpole, to discover that after all Pelham
had not been indispensable, but that " it was the
calm and the Government that carried on them-
selves!" "Duke Trinculo " took care to put the
effective orators in whatever places they demanded,
and, on confirming the bargains already made by
his brother, had no opposition to dread. His own
inanities, therefore, were of no account.

"On Friday," writes Walpole, 1 "this august
remnant of the Pelhams went to court for the first
time. At the foot of the stairs he cried and sunk
down : the yeomen of the guard were forced to drag
him up under the arms. When the closet door
opened, he flung himself at his length at the King's
feet, sobbed, and cried, * God bless your Majesty!
God preserve your Majesty!' and lay there howl-
ing and embracing the King's knees, with one foot
so extended, that my Lord Coventry, who was
luckily in waiting, and begged the standers-by to
retire, with * For God's sake, gentlemen, don't
look at a great man in distress,' endeavouring to
shut the door, caught his Grace's foot, and made
him roar out with pain."

Laughing at the Duke of Newcastle did not con-

1 No. 387 in Mrs. Toynbee's edition of Horace Walpole's
Letters.



MR. HORACE WALPOLE 9

sole Walpole for the monotony of politics, "pro-
ceeding like farmers, regulating themselves by the
almanac "; even the little tiff of war with France, he
complained, had gone out of fashion and adjourned
to America; he was gravely disappointed with a
world where "everything had done happening."

Evidently, then, well-informed society was not
prepared for the successive shocks which were to
startle it, and the rest of the nation, out of their
humdrum tranquillity. The overture of war declined,
after all, to be relegated to America, and the out-
burst of the Seven Years' War brought down in
rapid collapse Newcastle's ministerial house of
cards and forced to the front the genius of Pitt.

For four years the terrific energy of that great
Minister worked miracles in every department of
administration, and Walpole, like all his fellow
countrymen, was roused to enthusiasm: " Our bells
are worn threadbare with ringing for victories," he
tells Montagu, and quotes a saying that "it will
soon be as shameful to beat a Frenchman as to beat
a woman. Indeed, one is forced to ask every morn-
ing what victory there is, for fear of missing one."
"The King . . . told the City of London that
all was owing to unanimity, but I think he should
have said, to unmanimity, for it were shameful to
ascribe our brilliancy to anything but Mr. Pitt."

In the midst of the excitement, however, the old
King died, and young George III proceeded forth-
with on such a revolutionary system that for a
decade all was confusion in the Government.



io HORACE WALPOLE'S WORLD

What with the great war abroad and the extra-
ordinary political manoeuvres which succeeded it
at home, Horace Walpole certainly found excite-
ments enough to fill his mind and his corre-
spondence.

When the Seven Years' War began he was a
cheerful, irresponsible young man of thirty-nine.
Its close, in 1763, left him, as it were, harking
towards middle age, beginning to experience dis-
illusionment, and also gout, and entering on some
unpleasant responsibilities and controversies. He
had enjoyed a prolonged youth.

Politics, nevertheless, did not occupy the major
part of Walpole's attention. He was too wise and
too versatile for that. His was no simple character,
to be summed up in an epithet "malicious" or
1 'effeminate." His acute mind, stored with the
historical and literary parallels obvious to a man of
culture, could hardly contemplate the corruption of
public affairs in his own times save with indigna-
tion or with a humorous contempt. An incom-
parably greater mind than his, that of Pitt, expended
its saeva indignatio upon the age almost in vain
and suffered calamitous shipwreck among its shoals
and shallows. Walpole chose the easier path of
amused aloofness. His happiness depended upon
his power of remaining a spectator of life and
dwelling upon its more pleasing aspects "to live
in a vision as much as I can." He expended the
activity of his intellect upon impersonal subjects-
literature, the fine arts, antiquities, and the human
affections of his warm heart upon a choice com-



MR. HORACE WALPOLE n

pany of friends, for the most part gathered in en-
thusiastic youth and grappled to his soul till death
or a quarrel, for which, indeed, he was not in-
variably to blame.

They were almost all fellow Etonians: George
Montagu, John Chute, Thomas Gray, Richard
West, George Selwyn, and Henry Conway formed
with Walpole a company of ardent friends, and
with several of them he kept up a practically life-
long correspondence.

After Eton Walpole had proceeded to Cambridge,
as did Gray, by whom, either then or later, he was
introduced to William Mason the poet, and became
the warm friend and eager correspondent of the
latter for many years until, in old age, they broke
over politics.

Cambridge counted for much less than Eton in
Horace Walpole's career, not unnaturally, since
the Universities were then perhaps at their lowest
repute, and to keep a lad of quality for three un-
interrupted years at Cambridge was considered a
really disgraceful neglect of his education. In the
eighteenth century the foreign tour which followed
upon the University course was the young gentle-
man's real introduction to life.

Horace Walpole was duly despatched to France
and Italy, in company with Gray, on a " finishing "
tour which occupied nearly three years. That in
the middle of this period the two fell out is hardly
surprising, considering their diverse characters.
The reticent, super-sensitive, Christian-tempered
young poet was incongruously placed as com-



12 HORACE WALPOLE'S WORLD

panion to the volatile, self-confident, perhaps rather
self-satisfied, and essentially irreligious son of the
First Minister. But as the quarrel was in a few
years' time made up, and terms of friendship, even
of confidence, prevailed until Gray's death, too
much stress ought not to be laid on the temporary
estrangement.

His long sojourn in Florence was Walpole's
epoch : he not only obtained there a thorough intro-
duction to the manners and modes of Society and
of the Fine Arts, his skill wherein procured for
him, in his own time, so high a reputation, but he
there formed the attachments which were to be the
mainstay of his life-long contentment. John Chute,
apparently, and Horace Mann, certainly, he had
already known in boyhood. The Manns were
distantly related to the Walpoles, 1 and Sir Robert
Walpole had given a diplomatic appointment to
young Horace Mann, who spent the rest of his life
in Florence as agent and envoy at the arch-ducal
court. The place suited him so well that he refused
so much as to pay a visit to England, and after
1741 he and his namesake never met again. Wal-
pole was a resident in Mann's house in Florence
for over a year, and John Chute, then also upon
the Grand Tour, made the third in their close
friendship.

The long and famous correspondence carried on
by the two Horaces in spite of the fact that, as
Walpole ruefully put it, they could have no more

1 So Horace Walpole says. Horace and Galfridus were
both Walpole names.



MR. HORACE WALPOLE 13

real familiarity " than the ' Daily Advertiser' would
have if it wrote to the * Florentine Gazette ' "
makes Horace Mann the best known of Walpole's
friends, but it may be questioned whether he did
not feel a still deeper affection for Mann's brother
Galfridus. He, and the rest of the Mann family,
lived in England, engaged in a profitable business
as army clothiers. To connection with the Walpole
family was no doubt owing the appointment of a
third brother as deputy to Edward and Horace
Walpole in their rich custom-house place.

Galfridus Mann was a gentle soul over whom
Horace Walpole longed to extend a protective care.
He took infinite pains to soothe his friend's long,
desponding illness, and for his sake tolerated the
half insane provocations of the poor fellow's terma-
gant wife, "his Tissiphone." Galfridus died in
1756, and seven years later Horace Walpole is still
cherishing with tenderness his memory, "which
is as dear to me as the first moment I lost him.
He was the most sincere and affectionate friend
that ever man had, and could I forget him on
his account I never could on my own." " Dear
Gal's children " experienced his constant kindness,
and to obviate a threatened misunderstanding be-
tween the son and his uncle Sir Horace Mann,
Walpole exerted all his arts of tactful persuasion
and delicate intervention among the various Manns
until he succeeded in establishing harmony.

John Chute does not figure in the correspond-
ence so largely, for he was evidently little of a
letter-writer, and moreover he lived a good deal



i 4 HORACE WALPOLE'S WORLD

with Walpole. At Strawberry Hill he had a special
parlour, sacred to his own papers and drawings,
for the two had very similar tastes. " If I were to
say all I think," writes Walpole, in an early letter
to Mann, "of Mr. Chute's immense honesty, his
sense, his wit, his knowledge and his humanity,
you would think I was writing a dedication." A
coldness between Mann and Chute, due, seemingly,
to some negligence on the part of the latter, cost
Walpole great concern, nor did he rest until, after
repeated representations made first to one and then
to the other, he succeeded in reconciling them.

When at last he lost Chute's companionship,
his outpouring of grief to their common friend in-


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