Horace Walpole.

The letters of Horace Walpole, fourth earl of Orford; (Volume 7) online

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1778.] TO SIR HORACE MANN. 151

stomach. For your nephew, he seems to have acquired the only
thing he wanted, and which was very excusable to want at his age,
prudence. And he feels it still more on your account than
his own.

I beg the nation's, but not your pardon, for indulging myself in
giving the precedence to your nephew. Xow for the other.

Our Parliament opened yesterday. The Speech did not display
very promising prospects, but the debates and events in neither
House were remarkable: prodigious bickerings were expected
between generals, admirals, commissioners, and Ministers ; but
some of the points in contestation were alone touched, and nothing
probed, though probably only deferred.

It is said and believed, that Sir Harry Clinton had embarked a
body of troops for our West Indian Islands, but has disembarked
them again ; so the merchants concerned in those islands are in the
highest alarms. Spain, I doubt, grows less and less to be depended
iipon ; and the French party in Holland have carried some strong
questions against our seizure of their ships, though we have offered
reasonable indemnification. In short, I have neither good news nor
good prognostics to send you. All these things are public ; and
secrets I should not utter even to you at this distance, if I knew any.

You shall hear again as soon as I am able to write, or sooner if
there is anything material to send you. Your nephew will help me
out ; though in the hurry of a fresh arrival, and with his attendance
on Parliament, 1 you cannot justly expect him to be very punctual
at first, till he is got en train : however, I am sure his heart will not
let him be remiss. Adieu !


Arlington Street, Dec. 18, 1778.

HAVING so many lonely vacant hours (if pain leaves vacancy), I
should seem unpardonable in having left such a chasm in our corre-
spondence, when I know you are extremely impatient for news.
Solitary hours, to be sure, I have had innumerable, even in my best
intervals ; for fashion has pushed the day so far into the night, that
I have been forced to conform my sick regularity a little to the
watches of the town, and dine later than I choose, or dine in public :

1 Sir Horace Mann the younger \ras member for Maidstone. CUNNINOHAM.


for nobody will make me a morning's visit before two in the after-
noon, nor leave me to go home to dress for dinner before four. They
come not again till eight or nine at night, when they would keep
me out of bed till twelve, if I would let them.

But I have had more grievous reasons for not writing ; though
free from pain for this week, I have not yet at all recovered the use
of my right hand. But I have had a more serious and more
dangerous complaint, and the consequence of my gout ; such a
weakness in my breast, that an inflammation on it was apprehended,
and I was absolutely forbidden to see company, or even speak, which
I must do to dictate. This codicil to my gout, I confess, was owing
to this my second childhood ; in short, my spirits ran away with me,
and I talked without ceasing. Even a child is cunning enough to
make excuses : mine was, that I could have gone about the town for
three days without speaking three words, for I might not have met
with three persons to whom I wished to speak ; but in my own
room, where I see nobody but those I choose to see, and rnany
friends whom I had not seen for six months, one must have the
continent tongue of Lord Abercorn ' to be silent. Well ! I am
recovered of that danger, and am recovering of all the rest ; and
you shall now hear no more of me, who am not politics, which are
what you want to know.

Of them I know not what to write. The Parliament is unshaken,
though it has had rough concussions. The rash proclamation in
America alarmed much, and I fear will have bitter consequences :
but all is swallowed up by the new court-martial on Admiral
Keppel ; as rash an act in its kind, and the deed, it is said, of that
black man Sir Hugh Palliser alone. Its consequences may be many,
various, and fatal ; but I neither love to foresee, nor to spread mis-
fortunes of my country, when my letter must pass through the
ordeal of as many hostile post-houses as formerly gallant ladies
passed over burning plough-shares, let us talk rather of galant
ladies but no, I hate scandal ; and, besides, our greatest dames are
no longer gallant, but errant street- walkers, and I have never pro-
mised to send you the register of Doctors' Commons : our news-
writers are the proper secretaries of that tribunal, and can scarcely
outstrip the truth.

What I have long apprehended is on the point of conclusion, the

1 James Hamilton, eighth Earl of Abercorn, remarkable for his taciturnity.

177$.] TO LADY BROAYNE. 153

sale of the pictures at Houghton. The mad master has sent his final
demand of forty-five thousand pounds for them to the Empress of
Russia, at the same time that he has been what he calls improving
the outside of the house ; last a ! Thus end all my visions about
Houghton, which I never will see, though I must go thither at last ;
nor, if I can help it, think of more.

Your old acquaintance, Mr. "Worseley, 1 is dead, and in a shocking
way to us moderns, though a la Romaine : he had such dreadful
internal complaints, that he determined to starve himself, and for
the four last days tasted exactly nothing.

My newly recovered voice will not permit me to dictate : your
nephew and the newspaper can tell you as much more as I could.
If I have any judgment, which I doubt, the tragedy is coming
rather to the fifth act than to the conclusion. Hitherto the drama
has been carried on by relation, or behind the scenes ; now the
denouement may be on the stage. Adieu ! I am quite tired.


Arlington Street, Dec. 18, 1778.

MY not writing with my own hand, to thank your Ladyship for
your very obliging letter, is the worst symptom that remains with me,
Madam : all pain and swelling are gone ; and I hope in a day or
two to get a glove even on my right hand, and to walk with help
into the next room by the end of next week. I did, I confess, see a
great deal too much company too early ; and was such an old child
as to prattle abundantly, till I was forced to shut myself up for a
week and see nobody ; but I am quite recovered, and the emptiness^
of the town will soon preserve me from any excesses.

I am exceedingly glad to hear your Ladyship finds so much benefit
from the air. I own I thought you looked ill the last time I had the
honour of seeing you ; and though I am sorry to hear you talk with
s< ) much satisfaction of a country life, I am not selfish enough to
wish you to leave Tusmorc a day before your health is quite re-
r-tablished, nor to envy Mr. Fermor so agreeable an addition to his
society and charming seat.

Poor Lady Albemarle is indeed very miserable and full of ap-
prehensions ; though the incredible zeal of the navy for Admiral

1 James Worseley, Master of the Board of Works. WALPOLE.


Keppel crowns him with glory, and the indignation of mankind, and
the execration of Sir Hugh, add to the triumph. Indeed, I still
think Lady Albcmarle's fears may be well founded : some slur
may he procured on her son ; and his own had nerves, and worse
constitution, may not he able to stand agitation and suspense.

Lady Blandford has had a cold, hut I hear is well again, and has
generally two table,?. She will be a loss indeed to all her friends,
and to hundreds more ; but she cannot be immortal, nor would be if
she could.

The writings are not yet signed, Madam, for my house, but I am
in no doubt of having it ; yet I shall not think of going into it till
the spring, as I cannot enjoy this year's gout in it, and will not
venture catching a codicil, by going backwards and forwards to it
before it is aired.

I know no particular news, but that Lord Bute was thought in
great danger yesterday ; I have heard nothing of him to-day. I do
not know even a match, but of some that are going to be divorced ;
the fate of one of the latter is to be turned into an exaltation, and is
treated by her family and friends in quite a new style, to the dis-
comfit of all prudery. It puts me in mind of Lord Lansdowne's
lines in the room in the Tower where my father had been confined,

Some fall so hard, they bound and rise again.

Methinks, however, it is a little hard on Lord George Germaine,
that in four months after seeing a Duchess of Dorset, he may see a
Lord Middlesex too ; for so old the egg is said to be, that is already
prepared. If this trade goes on, half the peeresses will have two
eldest sons with both fathers alive at the same time. Lady Holder-
nesse expresses nothing but grief and willingness to receive her
daughter ' again on any terms, which probably will happen ; for
the daughter has already opened her eyes, is sensible of her utter
ruin, and has written to Lord Carmarthen and Madam Cordon,
acknowledging her guilt, and begging to be remembered only with
pity, which is .sufficient to make one pity her.

I would beg pardon for so long a letter, but your Ladyship desired

1 Amelia D'Arcy, Baroness Conyers, daughter of Robert, fourth Earl of Holdernesse,
the patron of Mason. She was born 12 October, 1754, married the Marquis of
Carmarthen, 29 Nov., 1773, and succeeded her father in 1778 as Baroness Conyers
in her own right. She eloped with Captain John Byron, eldest son of Admiral
Byron, and father of the great poet, and in May 1779 was divorced from the Marquis.


1778.] TO LADY BROWNE. 155

intelligence, and I know a long letter from London is not uncom-
fortable at Christmas, even in the most comfortable house in the
country. Perhaps my own forced idleness has a little contributed to
lengthen it ; still I hope it implies great readiness to obey your Lady-
ship's commands, in your most obedient humble servant.


I AM much obliged to your Ladyship, and certainly could not take
anything ill that was accident, but I own I never suffered more un-
easiness in my life. I was in pain and not well ; the heat of the
evening, the fatigue of playing so long at whist, and with three
persons I had never spoken to in my life, and the lameness of my
hand, made me ready to faint, and I went home in a fever, and got
no sleep for some hours. But I beg your Ladyship will never name
it to Lady Egremont, who was extremely civil and obliging ; but I
will take care never to be in such a scrape again, which was too
much for my weakness. I will certainly call on your Ladyship on
Monday I suppose by half an hour after six.


YOUR Ladyship is exceedingly kind in all your different attentions.
I am indeed very low, for these frequent attacks shake my nerves so
much, that every fit, great or small, makes them worse ; and they
come so often, that I have not time to recover ; but nobody is to be
pitied in comparison to Mrs. Stapleton ; nor has anybody deserved
misfortune and ill usage so little. I hope she will wrap herself up
in her own virtues, and do, what never was so justifiable, think only
of herself. I beg, if you see her, your Ladyship will tell her how
very high my regard for her is. I hope she has friends in her own
family who will know how to value her the Grenvilles did not
deserve her.

1 Now first published. CUNNINGHAM.



Arlington Street, Dec. 2-i, 1778.

IT was an additional mortification to my illness, my Lord, that I
was not able to thank your Lordship with my own hand for the
honour of your letter, and for your goodness in remembering an old
man, who must with reason consider himself as forgotten, when he
never was of importance, and is now almost useless to himself.
Frequent severe fits of the gout have a good deal disabled me from
pursuing the trifling studies in which I could pretend to know any-
thing ; or at least have given me an indifference, that makes me less
ready in answering questions than I may have been formerly ; and as
my papers are in the country, whither at present I am not able to go,
I fear I can give but unsatisfactory replies to your Lordship's

The two very curious pictures of King James and his Queen 2 (I
cannot recollect whether the third or fourth of the name, but I know
that she was a princess of Sweden or Denmark, and that her arms
are on her portrait,) were at the palace at Kensington, and I
imagine are there still. I had obtained leave from the Lord Chamber-
lain to have drawings made of them, and Mr. Wale actually began
them for me ; but he made such slow progress, and I was so called
off from the thought of them by indispositions and other avocations,
that they were never finished ; and Mr. Wale may, perhaps, still
have the beginnings he made.

At the Duke of Devonshire's at Hardwicke, there is a valuable
though poorly painted picture of James V. and Mary of Guise, his
second queen : it is remarkable from the great resemblance of Mary
Queen of Scots to her father ; I mean in Lord Morton's picture of
her, and in the image of her on her tomb at Westminster, which
agree together, and which I take to be the genuine likeness. I have
doubts on Lord Burlington's picture, and on Dr. Mead's. The nose in
both is thicker, and also fuller at bottom than on the tomb ; though
it is a little supported by her coins.

1 David Stewart Erskine, eleventh Earl of Buclian, well known to every reader of
Lockhart's ' Life of Scott.' He died in 1829, at the age of eighty-seven. CUNNINGHAM.

2 The portraits are those of James the Third of Scotland (though commonly called
James the Fourth) and his queen, a princess of Denmark. They are now (1857) at
Hampton Court, but will be hung in future (it is said) in Holyrood. They are well
photographed in the great work of Colnaghi and Agnew, illustrative of the Art-
Treasures Exhibition at Manchester in 1857, CUNNINGHAM.

1778.] TO MR. GIBBON. 157

There is a much finer portrait indeed, an excellent head of the
Lady Margaret Douglas at Mr. Carteret's at Hawnes in Bedford-
shire (the late Lord Granville's). It is a very shrewd counte-
nance, and at the same time with great goodness of character. Lord
Scarborough has a good picture, in the style of Holbein at least, of
Queen Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry YIL, and of her second
or third husband (for, if I don't mistake, she had three) ; but, in-
deed, my Lord, these things arc so much out of my memory at pre-
sent, that I speak with great diffidence. I cannot even recollect
anything else to your Lordship's purpose ; but I flatter myself, that
these imperfect notices will at least be a testimony of my readiness
to obey your Lordship's commands, as that I am, with great respect,
my Lord, your Lordship's obedient humble servant.

DEAR SIR, [1778.]

I HAVE gone through your Inquisitor's attack, 1 and am far from
being clear that it deserves your giving yourself the trouble of an
answer, as neither the detail nor the result affects your argument. So
far from it, many of his reproofs are levelled at your having quoted
a wrong page ; he confessing often that what you have cited is in the
author referred to, but not precisely in the individual spot. If St.
Peter is attended by a corrector of the press, you will certainly never
be admitted where he is a porter. I send you my copy, because I
scribbled my remarks. I do not send them with the impertinent
presumption of suggesting a hint to you, but to prove I did not
grudge the trouble of going through such a book when you desired
it, and to show how little struck me as of any weight.

I have set down nothing on your imputed plagiarisms ; for, if they
are so, no argument that has ever been employed must be used
again, even where the passage necessary is applied to a different
purpose. An author is not allowed to be master of his own works ;
but, by Davis's new law, the first person that cites him would be so.
You probably looked into Middleton, Dodwell, &c. ; had the same

1 ' An Examination of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Chapters of Mr. Gibbon's
History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. By Henry Edward Davis, B. A.,
of Baliol College, Oxford.' He was a native of Windsor, and is believed to have
received a present from George the Third for this production.- W RIGHT.


reflections on the same circumstances, or conceived them so as to re-
collect them, without remembering what suggested them. Is this
plagiai'ism ? If it is, Davis and such cavillers might go a short step
further, and insist that an author should peruse every work ante-
cedently written on every subject at all collateral to his own not to
assist him, but to be sure to avoid every material touched by his

I will make but one remark on such divine champions. Davis
and his prototypes tell you Middleton, &c., have used the same ob-
jections, and they have been confuted : answering, in the theologic
dictionary, signifying confuting ; no matter whether there is sense,
argument, truth, in the answer or not.

Upon the whole, I think ridicule is the only answer such a work
is entitled to. The ablest answer which you can make (which
would be the ablest answer that could be made) would never have
any authority with the cabal, yet would allow a sort of dignity to the
author. His patrons will always maintain that he vanquished you,
unless you made him too ridiculous for them to dare to revive his
name. You might divert yourself, too, with Alma Mater, the
Church, employing a goujat to defend the citadel, while the generals
repose in their tents. If Irenams, St. Augustine, &c., did not set
apprentices and proselytes to combat Celsus and the adversaries of

the new religion but early bishops had not five or six thousand

pounds a year.

In short, dear Sir, I wish you not to lose your time ; that is, either
not reply, or set your mark on your answer, that it may always be
read with the rest of your works.


Straioberry Hill, Jan. 3, 1779.

AT last, after ten weeks, I have been able to remove hither, in
hopes change of air and the frost will assist my recovery ; though I
am not one of those ancients that forget the register, and think they
are to be as well as ever after every fit of illness. As yet I can
barely creep about the room in the middle of the day.

I have made my Printer (now my secretary) copy out the rest of
Mr. Baker's Life ; for my own hand will barely serve to write
necessary letters, and complains even of them. If you know of any
very trusty person passing between London and Cambridge, I would

1779.] TO THE REV. MR. COLE. 159

send it to you, but should not care to trust it by the coach, nor to
any giddy undergraduate that conies to town to see a play ; and,
besides, I mean to return you your own notes. I will say no more
than I have said in my apology to you for the manner in which I
have written this Life. With regard to Mr. Baker himself, I am
confident you will find that I have done full justice to his work and
character. I do not expect you to approve the inferences I draw
against some other persons ; and yet, if his conduct was meritorious,
it would not be easy to excuse those who were active after doing what
he would not do. You will not understand this sentence till you
have seen the Life.

I hope you have not been untiled or unpaled by the tempest on
New-year's morning. 1 I have lost two beautiful elms in a row before
my windows here, and had the skylight demolished in town. Lady
Pomfret's Gothic house in my street lost one of the stone towers, like
those at King's Chapel, and it was beaten through the roof. The top
of our cross, too, at Ampthill was thrown down, as I hear from Lady
Ossory this morning. I remember to have been told that Bishop
Kidder and his wife were killed in their bed in the palace of
Gloucester in 1709, J and yet his heirs were sued for dilapidations.

Lord de Ferrers, 3 who deserves his ancient honours, is going to
repair the castle at Tamworth, and has flattered me that he will
consult me. He has a violent passion for ancestry and, conse-
quently, I trust will not stake the patrimony of the Ferrarii,
Townshends, and Comptons, at the hazard-table. A little pride
would not hurt our nobility, cock and hen. Adieu, dear Sir ! send
me a good account of yourself. Yours ever.

1 On the morning of the 1st of January, 1779, London was visited by one of the
most violent tempests ever known. Scarcely a public building in the metropolis
escaped without damage. WRIGHT.

2 The memorable storm here alluded to took place in November, 1703, and Bishop
Kidder and his lady perished in their bed at the episcopal palace at Wells, by the
fall of a stack of chimneys. They were privately interred in the cathedral ; and one
of his daughters, dying single, directed by her will a monument to be erected for her
parents. WRIGHT.

3 Robert, sixth Earl Ferrers. He had just succeeded to the title, by the death of
his brother Washington, vice-admiral of the blue, who had begun to rebuild the
mansion of Stanton-Harold, in Leicestershire, according to a plan of his own, and
lived to see it nearly finished. WRIGHT.



Stratcbernj Hill, Jan. 3, 1779.

YorE Ladyship may be surprised at ray dating hence, till you know
my reasons. I mended so slowly in town that I hoped change of air
would do better ; but I moved with as much circumspection as if
General Washington was watching me. I took the air four times in
Hyde Park, before I began my march, and had this house baked for
a week previously, and stayed for the frost. All these precautions
have answered, negatively, that is, I have not suffered. I move but
from the Red to the Blue room, and cannot walk even those three
yards yet ; but my spirits are better, which always flag when the
fever is quite gone ; so all my vivacity when I was at the worst was
a little light-headed. In truth, I was so weary of town, which is a
desert, and saw so very few people for the last week, that I could
not bear it. I had no books or papers, or dogs or cats to amuse me,
so I was swaddled up, and here I am ; if I had anything else to say,
I would have spared you this preface on myself, Madam.

1 An interval of a whole year here occurs in the correspondence. It might have
been caused by the death of Lady Holland, which occurred on the 4th October, 1778,
of whom the following beautiful character is written by Lord Ossory :

"My beloved sister Mary, Lady Holland, died on the 4th Oct. 1778. I look upon
that as the second great misfortune of my life (I mean in point of date) the first
being the loss of Lord Tavistock in 1767. Lady Holland (I am sure I speak without
prejudice) waa the most amiable person that ever lived. She possessed the most
perfect sweetness of manners, joined to an excellent understanding ; the most elegant
person ; but, alas ! too delicate a frame. Her temper was the evenest I was ever
acquainted with ; her heart the tenderest and most sincere. She had a particular
talent in discerning the ridiculous parts in the character of those she was acquainted
with, but never in exposing, although she sometimes indulged in touching upon
them among her friends ; this she did with infinite humour and pleasantry. She had
a taste for wit without possessing it in a conspicuous degree ; her talent was rather
what is called humour, of seeing through and well the follies of the world. She was
the best wife that ever was, and in the most trying situation that can be conceived
nothing could exceed her tenderness of attention to her children, and her affection
to us, her unhappy brothers and sisters ; her friendship to a few whose happiness it
was to be her friends. To this tenderness, which prompted her to run immediately
to the nursery, she owed her safety, when Winterslow House was burnt down, as
appears from the following passage of a letter from Mrs. Greville to her daughter,
Mrs. afterwards Lady Crewe, giving an account of the event : ' It was happy for
Lady Mary that her first impulse was to run to the nursery, for had she gone her
usual way, and the shortest from the room, which was the little back-staircase to the
library, she would have met all the flames.' She never applied sufficiently to make
herself perfect either in drawing or music, but in both these arts her taste was inimi-
table, and her execution elegant and graceful to the last degree. Why should this

Online LibraryHorace WalpoleThe letters of Horace Walpole, fourth earl of Orford; (Volume 7) → online text (page 19 of 55)