Horace Walpole.

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And one's skin looks as yellow as that of Miss Howe!"

After an epigram that seems to have found out the longitude, I shall
tell you but one more, and that wondrous short. It is said to be made by
a cow. You must not wonder; we tell as many strange stories as Baker and

A warm winter, a dry spring,
A hot summer, a new King.

Though the sting is very epigrammatic, the whole of the distich has more
of the truth than becomes prophecy; that is, it is false, for the spring
is wet and cold.

There is come from France a Madame Bocage,[1] who has translated Milton:
my Lord Chesterfield prefers the copy to the original; but that is not
uncommon for him to do, who is the patron of bad authors and bad actors.
She has written a play too, which was damned, and worthy my lord's
approbation. You would be more diverted with a Mrs. Holman, whose
passion is keeping an assembly, and inviting literally everybody to it.
She goes to the drawing-room to watch for sneezes; whips out a curtsey,
and then sends next morning to know how your cold does, and to desire
your company next Thursday.

[Footnote 1: Madame du Boccage published a poem in imitation of Milton,
and another founded on Gesner's "Death of Abel." She also translated
Pope's "Temple of Fame;" but her principal work was "La Columbiade." It
was at the house of this lady, at Paris, in 1775, that Johnson was
annoyed at her footman's taking the sugar in his fingers and throwing it
into his coffee. "I was going," says the Doctor, "to put it aside, but
hearing it was made on purpose for me, I e'en tasted Tom's fingers." She
died in 1802.]

Mr. Whithed has taken my Lord Pembroke's house at Whitehall; a glorious
situation, but as madly built as my lord himself was. He has bought some
delightful pictures too, of Claude, Caspar and good masters, to the
amount of four hundred pounds.

Good night! I have nothing more to tell you, but that I have lately seen
a Sir William Boothby, who saw you about a year ago, and adores you, as
all the English you receive ought to do. He is much in my favour.



ARLINGTON STREET, _April_ 1, 1751.

How shall I begin a letter that will - that must - give you as much pain
as I feel myself? I must interrupt the story of the Prince's death, to
tell you of _two_ more, much more important, God knows! to you and me!
One I had prepared you for - but how will you be shocked to hear that our
poor Mr. Whithed is dead as well as my brother!...

I now must mention my own misfortune. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday
mornings, the physicians and _all the family of painful death_ (to alter
Gray's phrase), were persuaded and persuaded me, that the bark, which
took great place, would save my brother's life - but he relapsed at three
o'clock on Thursday, and died last night. He ordered to be drawn and
executed his will with the greatest tranquillity and satisfaction on
Saturday morning. His spoils are prodigious - not to his own family!
indeed I think his son the most ruined young man in England. My loss, I
fear, may be considerable, which is not the only motive of my concern,
though, as you know, I had much to forgive, before I could regret: but
indeed I do regret. It is no small addition to my concern, to fear or
foresee that Houghton and all the remains of my father's glory will be
pulled to pieces! The widow-Countess immediately marries - not Richcourt,
but Shirley, and triumphs in advancing her son's ruin by enjoying her
own estate, and tearing away great part of his.

Now I will divert your private grief by talking to you of what is called
the public. The King and Princess are grown as fond as if they had never
been of different parties, or rather as people who always had been of
different. She discountenances all opposition, and he _all ambition_.
Prince George, who, with his two eldest brothers, is to be lodged at St.
James's, is speedily to be created Prince of Wales. Ayscough, his tutor,
is to be removed with her entire inclination as well as with everybody's
approbation. They talk of a Regency to be established (in case of a
minority) by authority of Parliament, even this session, with the
Princess at the head of it. She and Dr. Lee, the only one she consults
of the late cabal, very sensibly burned the late Prince's papers the
moment he was dead. Lord Egmont, by seven o'clock the next morning,
summoned (not very decently) the faction to his house: all was whisper!
at last he hinted something of taking the Princess and her children
under their protection, and something of the necessity of harmony. No
answer was made to the former proposal. Somebody said, it was very
likely indeed they should agree now, when the Prince could never bring
it about; and so everybody went away to take care of himself. The
imposthumation is supposed to have proceeded, not from his fall last
year, but from a blow with a tennis-ball some years ago. The grief for
the dead brother is affectedly displayed. They cried about an elegy,[1]
and added, "Oh, that it were but his brother!" On 'Change they said,
"Oh, that it were but the butcher[2]!"

[Footnote 1: The elegy alluded to, was probably the effusion of some
Jacobite royalist. That faction could not forgive the Duke of Cumberland
his excesses or successes in Scotland; and, not contented with branding
the parliamentary government of the country as usurpation, indulged in
frequent unfeeling and scurrilous personalities on every branch of the
reigning family:

Here lies Fred,
Who was alive and is dead:
Had it been his father,
I had much rather;
Had it been his brother,
Still better than another;
Had it been his sister,
No one would have missed her;
Had it been the whole generation,
Still better for the nation:
But since 'tis only Fred,
Who was alive and is dead -
There's no more to be said.

Walpole's _Memoirs of George II._]

[Footnote 2: A name given to the Duke of Cumberland for his severities
to his prisoners after the battle of Culloden.]

The Houses sit, but no business will be done till after the holidays.
Anstruther's affair will go on, but not with much spirit. One wants to
see faces about again! Dick Lyttelton, one of the patriot officers, had
collected depositions on oath against the Duke for his behaviour in
Scotland, but I suppose he will now throw his papers into Hamlet's

Prince George, who has a most amiable countenance, behaved excessively
well on his father's death. When they told him of it, he turned pale,
and laid his hand on his breast. Ayscough said, "I am afraid, Sir, you
are not well!" - he replied, "I feel something here, just as I did when I
saw the two workmen fall from the scaffold at Kew." Prince Edward is a
very plain boy, with strange loose eyes, but was much the favourite. He
is a sayer of things! Two men were heard lamenting the death in
Leicester Fields: one said, "He has left a great many small
children!" - "Ay," replied the other, "and what is worse, they belong to
our parish!" But the most extraordinary reflections on his death were
set forth in a sermon at Mayfair chapel. "He had no great parts (pray
mind, this was the parson said so, not I), but he had great virtues;
indeed, they degenerated into vices: he was very generous, but I hear
his generosity has ruined a great many people: and then his
condescension was such, that he kept very bad company."

Adieu! my dear child; I have tried, you see, to blend so much public
history with our private griefs, as may help to interrupt your too great
attention to the calamities in the former part of my letter. You will,
with the properest good-nature in the world, break the news to the poor
girl, whom I pity, though I never saw. Miss Nicoll is, I am told,
extremely to be pitied too; but so is everybody that knew Whithed! Bear
it yourself as well as you can!



ARLINGTON STREET, _June_ 18, 1751.

I send my letter as usual from the Secretary's office, but of what
Secretary I don't know. Lord Sandwich last week received his dismission,
on which the Duke of Bedford resigned the next day, and Lord Trentham
with him, both breaking with old Gower, who is entirely in the hands of
the Pelhams, and made to declare his quarrel with Lord Sandwich (who
gave away his daughter to Colonel Waldegrave) the foundation of
detaching himself from the Bedfords. Your friend Lord Fane comforts Lord
Sandwich with an annuity of a thousand a-year - scarcely for his handsome
behaviour to his sister; Lord Hartington is to be Master of the Horse,
and Lord Albemarle Groom of the Stole; Lord Granville[1] is actually
Lord President, and, by all outward and visible signs, something
more - in short, if he don't overshoot himself, the Pelhams have; the
King's favour to him is visible, and so much credited, that all the
incense is offered to him. It is believed that Impresario Holdernesse
will succeed the Bedford in the foreign seals, and Lord Halifax in
those for the plantations. If the former does, you will have ample
instructions to negotiate for singers and dancers! Here is an epigram
made upon his directorship:

[Footnote 1: Lord Granville, known as Lord Carteret during the lifetime
of his mother, was a statesman of the very highest ability, and was
regarded with special favour by the King for his power of conversing in
German, then a very rare accomplishment.]

That secrecy will now prevail
In politics, is certain;
Since Holdernesse, who gets the seals,
Was bred behind the curtain.

The Admirals Rowley and Boscawen are brought into the Admiralty under
Lord Anson, who is advanced to the head of the board. Seamen are
tractable fishes! especially it will be Boscawen's case, whose name in
Cornish signifies obstinacy, and who brings along with him a good
quantity of resentment to Anson. In short, the whole present system is
equally formed for duration!

Since I began my letter, Lord Holdernesse has kissed hands for the
seals. It is said that Lord Halifax is to be made easy, by the
plantations being put under the Board of Trade. Lord Granville comes
into power as boisterously as ever, and dashes at everything. His
lieutenants already beat up for volunteers; but he disclaims all
connexions with Lord Bath, who, he says, forced him upon the famous
ministry of twenty-four hours, and by which he says he paid all his
debts to him. This will soon grow a turbulent scene - it is not
unpleasant to sit upon the beach and see it; but few people have the
curiosity to step out to the sight. You, who knew England in other
times, will find it difficult, to conceive what an indifference reigns
with regard to ministers and their squabbles. The two Miss Gunnings,[1]
and a late extravagant dinner at White's, are twenty times more the
subject of conversation than the two brothers [Newcastle and Pelham] and
Lord Granville. These are two Irish girls, of no fortune, who are
declared the handsomest women alive. I think their being two so handsome
and both such perfect figures is their chief excellence, for singly I
have seen much handsomer women than either; however, they can't walk in
the park or go to Vauxhall, but such mobs follow them that they are
generally driven away. The dinner was a folly of seven young men, who
bespoke it to the utmost extent of expense: one article was a tart made
of duke cherries from a hot-house; and another, that they tasted but one
glass out of each bottle of champagne. The bill of fare is got into
print, and with good people has produced the apprehension of another
earthquake. Your friend St. Leger was at the head of these luxurious
heroes - he is the hero of all fashion. I never saw more dashing vivacity
and absurdity, with some flashes of parts. He had a cause the other day
for ducking a sharper, and was going to swear: the judge said to him, "I
see, Sir, you are very ready to take an oath." "Yes, my lord," replied
St. Leger, "my father was a judge."

[Footnote 1: One of the Miss Gunnings had singular fortune. She was
married to two Dukes - the Duke of Hamilton, and, after his death, the
Duke of Argyll. She refused a third, the Duke of Bridgewater; and she
was the mother of four - two Dukes of Hamilton and two Dukes of Argyll.
Her sister married the Earl of Coventry. In his "Memoirs of George III."
Walpole mentions that they were so poor while in Dublin that they could
not have been presented to the Lord-Lieutenant if Peg Woffington, the
celebrated actress, had not lent them some clothes.]

We have been overwhelmed with lamentable Cambridge and Oxford dirges on
the Prince's death: there is but one tolerable copy; it is by a young
Lord Stormont, a nephew of Murray, who is much commended. You may
imagine what incense is offered to Stone by the people of Christchurch:
they have hooked in, too, poor Lord Harcourt, and call him _Harcourt the
Wise_! his wisdom has already disgusted the young Prince; "Sir, pray
hold up your head. Sir, for God's sake, turn out your toes!" Such are
Mentor's precepts!

I am glad you receive my letters; as I knew I had been punctual, it
mortified me that you should think me remiss. Thank you for the
transcript from _Bubb[1] de tristibus_! I will keep your secret, though
I am persuaded that a man who had composed such a funeral oration on his
master and himself fully intended that its flowers should not bloom and
wither in obscurity.

[Footnote 1: Bubb means Mr. Bubb Doddington, afterwards Lord Melcombe,
who had written Mr. Mann a letter of most extravagant lamentation on the
death of the Prince of Wales. He was member for Winchelsea, and left
behind him a diary, which was published some years after his death, and
which throws a good deal of light on the political intrigues of the

We have already begun to sell the pictures that had not found place at
Houghton: the sale gives no great encouragement to proceed (though I
fear it must come to that!); the large pictures were thrown away; the
whole-length Vandykes went for a song! I am mortified now at having
printed the catalogue. Gideon the Jew, and Blakiston the independent
grocer, have been the chief purchasers of the pictures sold
already - there, if you love moralizing!

Adieu! I have no more articles to-day for my literary gazette.



STRAWBERRY HILL, _June_ 12, 1753.

I could not rest any longer with the thought of your having no idea of a
place of which you hear so much, and therefore desired Mr. Bentley to
draw you as much idea of it as the post would be persuaded to carry from
Twickenham to Florence. The enclosed enchanted little landscape, then,
is Strawberry Hill; and I will try to explain so much of it to you as
will help to let you know whereabouts we are when we are talking to you;
for it is uncomfortable in so intimate a correspondence as ours not to
be exactly master of every spot where one another is writing, or
reading, or sauntering. This view of the castle is what I have just
finished, and is the only side that will be at all regular. Directly
before it is an open grove, through which you see a field, which is
bounded by a serpentine wood of all kind of trees, and flowering shrubs,
and flowers. The lawn before the house is situated on the top of a small
hill, from whence to the left you see the town and church of Twickenham
encircling a turn of the river, that looks exactly like a seaport in
miniature. The opposite shore is a most delicious meadow, bounded by
Richmond Hill, which loses itself in the noble woods of the park to the
end of the prospect on the right, where is another turn of the river,
and the suburbs of Kingston as luckily placed as Twickenham is on the
left: and a natural terrace on the brow of my hill, with meadows of my
own down to the river, commands both extremities. Is not this a
tolerable prospect? You must figure that all this is perpetually
enlivened by a navigation of boats and barges, and by a road below my
terrace, with coaches, post-chaises, waggons, and horsemen constantly in
motion, and the fields speckled with cows, horses, and sheep. Now you
shall walk into the house. The bow-window below leads into a little
parlour hung with a stone-colour Gothic paper and Jackson's Venetian
prints, which I could never endure while they pretended, infamous as
they are, to be after Titian, &c., but when I gave them this air of
barbarous bas-reliefs, they succeeded to a miracle: it is impossible at
first sight not to conclude that they contain the history of Attila or
Tottila, done about the very aera. From hence, under two gloomy arches,
you come to the hall and staircase, which it is impossible to describe
to you, as it is the most particular and chief beauty of the castle.
Imagine the walls covered with (I call it paper, but it is really paper
painted in perspective to represent) Gothic fretwork: the lightest
Gothic balustrade to the staircase, adorned with antelopes (our
supporters) bearing shields; lean windows fattened with rich saints in
painted glass, and a vestibule open with three arches on the
landing-place, and niches full of trophies of old coats of mail, Indian
shields made of rhinoceros's hides, broadswords, quivers, longbows,
arrows, and spears - all _supposed_ to be taken by Sir Terry Robsart in
the holy wars. But as none of this regards the enclosed drawing, I will
pass to that. The room on the ground-floor nearest to you is a
bedchamber, hung with yellow paper and prints, framed in a new manner,
invented by Lord Cardigan; that is, with black and white borders
printed. Over this is Mr. Chute's bedchamber, hung with red in the same
manner. The bow-window room one pair of stairs is not yet finished; but
in the tower beyond it is the charming closet where I am now writing to
you. It is hung with green paper and water-colour pictures; has two
windows; the one in the drawing looks to the garden, the other to the
beautiful prospect; and the top of each glutted with the richest painted
glass of the arms of England, crimson roses, and twenty other pieces of
green, purple, and historic bits. I must tell you, by the way, that the
castle, when finished, will have two-and-thirty windows enriched with
painted glass. In this closet, which is Mr. Chute's college of Arms, are
two presses with books of heraldry and antiquities, Madame Sévigné's
Letters, and any French books that relate to her and her acquaintance.
Out of this closet is the room where we always live, hung with a blue
and white paper in stripes adorned with festoons, and a thousand plump
chairs, couches, and luxurious settees covered with linen of the same
pattern, and with a bow-window commanding the prospect, and gloomed
with limes that shade half each window, already darkened with painted
glass in chiaroscuro, set in deep blue glass. Under this room is a cool
little hall, where we generally dine, hung with paper to imitate Dutch

I have described so much, that you will begin to think that all the
accounts I used to give you of the diminutiveness of our habitation were
fabulous; but it is really incredible how small most of the rooms are.
The only two good chambers I shall have are not yet built: they will be
an eating-room and a library, each twenty by thirty, and the latter
fifteen feet high. For the rest of the house I could send it you in this
letter as easily as the drawing, only that I should have nowhere to live
till the return of the post. The Chinese summer-house, which you may
distinguish in the distant landscape, belongs to my Lord Radnor. We
pique ourselves upon nothing but simplicity, and have no carvings,
gildings, paintings, inlayings, or tawdry businesses.

You will not be sorry, I believe, by this time to have done with
Strawberry Hill, and to hear a little news. The end of a very dreaming
session has been extremely enlivened by an accidental bill which has
opened great quarrels, and those not unlikely to be attended with
interesting circumstances. A bill to prevent clandestine marriages,[1]
so drawn by the Judges as to clog all matrimony in general, was
inadvertently espoused by the Chancellor; and having been strongly
attacked in the House of Commons by Nugent, the Speaker, Mr. Fox, and
others, the last went very great lengths of severity on the whole body
of the law, and on its chieftain in particular, which, however, at the
last reading, he softened and explained off extremely. This did not
appease: but on the return of the bill to the House of Lords, where our
amendments were to be read, the Chancellor in the most personal terms
harangued against Fox, and concluded with saying that "he despised his
scurrility as much as his adulation and recantation." As Christian
charity is not one of the oaths taken by privy-counsellors, and as it is
not the most eminent virtue in either of the champions, this quarrel is
not likely to be soon reconciled. There are natures whose disposition it
is to patch up political breaches, but whether they will succeed, or try
to succeed in healing this, can I tell you?

[Footnote 1: These clandestine marriages were often called "Fleet
marriages." Lord Stanhope, describing this Act, states that "there was
ever ready a band of degraded and outcast clergymen, prisoners for debt
or for crime, who hovered about the verge of the Fleet prison soliciting
customers, and plying, like porters, for employment.... One of these
wretches, named Keith, had gained a kind of pre-eminence in infamy. On
being told there was a scheme on foot to stop his lucrative traffic, he
declared, with many oaths, he would still be revenged of the Bishops,
that he would buy a piece of ground and outbury them!" ("History of
England," c. 31).]

The match for Lord Granville, which I announced to you, is not
concluded: the flames are cooled in that quarter as well as in others.

I begin a new sheet to you, which does not match with the other, for I
have no more of the same paper here. Dr. Cameron is executed, and died
with the greatest firmness. His parting with his wife the night before
was heroic and tender: he let her stay till the last moment, when being
aware that the gates of the Tower would be locked, he told her so; she
fell at his feet in agonies: he said, "Madam, this was not what you
promised me," and embracing her, forced her to retire: then with the
same coolness looked at the window till her coach was out of sight,
after which he turned about and wept. His only concern seemed to be at
the ignominy of Tyburn: he was not disturbed at the dresser for his
body, or at the fire to burn his bowels.[1] The crowd was so great, that
a friend who attended him could not get away, but was forced to stay and
behold the execution; but what will you say to the minister or priest
that accompanied him? The wretch, after taking leave, went into a
landau, where, not content with seeing the Doctor hanged, he let down
the top of the landau for the better convenience of seeing him
embowelled! I cannot tell you positively that what I hinted of this
Cameron being commissioned from Prussia was true, but so it is believed.
Adieu! my dear child; I think this is a very tolerable letter for

[Footnote 1: "The populace," says Smollett, "though not very subject to
tender emotions, were moved to compassion, and even to tears, by his
behaviour at the place of execution; and many sincere well-wishers of
the present establishment thought that the sacrifice of this victim, at
such a juncture, could not redound either to its honour or security."]

[Illustration: GEORGE MONTAGU.]



ARLINGTON STREET, _May_ 19, 1756.

Nothing will be more agreeable to me than to see you at Strawberry Hill;
the weather does not seem to be of my mind, and will not invite you. I
believe the French have taken the sun. Among other captures, I hear the
King has taken another English mistress, a Mrs. Pope, who took her
degrees in gallantry some years ago. She went to Versailles with the
famous Mrs. Quon: the King took notice of them; he was told they were
not so rigid as _all_ other English women are - mind, I don't give you
any part of this history for authentic; you know we can have no news

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Online LibraryHorace WalpoleLetters of Horace Walpole — Volume I → online text (page 10 of 20)