Page images

Joseph Spence to his Mother-Andrey, an Adept or Alchemist.



might be more than eleven in England. He smiled a little and said, Sir, I don't talk of common philosophers, I talk of adepts; and of them, I saw in England what I never saw anywhere else: there were eleven at table; I made the twelfth and when we began to compare our ages all together, they made somewhat upward of four thousand years." I wondered to hear a grave man talk so strangely, and asked him, as seriously as I could, how old he might be himself. He said that he was not quite 200, but that he was one of the youngest at the table. He said that the secret of carrying on their lives as long as they pleased was known to all of them, and that some of them perhaps might. remove out of this world, but that he did not think any one of them would die; for if they did not like this globe, they had nothing to do but to go into another whenever they pleased. How soon that might be he did not know, but St. John and the travelling Jew, he said, had stayed in it above 1,700 years; and some of his friends, perhaps, might stay as long. He said the great elixir, of which he had some in his pocket, made him look no older than forty; that he was afraid of no distemper, for that would cure him immediately; nor of want, because it would make him as much gold as he pleased. He said many other things as strange and as surprising as what I have told you.

I was talking of him and his gold-making to our Minister here, who, upon this, told me a very odd story, which he had from Marechal Rhebender, General of the King of Sardinia's forces at present. The general, who comes from those parts, says, that when Gustavus Adolphus was going to make war with the emperor, he found himself at a loss for money sufficient for so great an undertaking. He was very melancholy upon it, and every thing was at a stand, when one morning a very old

Horace Walpole to Sir Horace Mann-Popularity of the Duke of Cumberland.

man came to his court, and told the gentleman of the bedchamber in waiting that he wanted to speak to the King. The gentleman desired his name; he refused to tell it, but said he must speak to the King, and that it was on business of the utmost importance to his majesty's affairs. Gustavus, who was incapable of fear, ordered him to be admitted. When they were alone, the old man told him that he knew what straits he was in for money, and that he was come to furnish him with as much as hs should want. He then desired him to send for a crucible full of mercury; he took out a white powder and put in only about the quantity of a pinch of snuff. He then desired him to set by the crucible till the next morning, gave him a large bundle of the white powder, and departed. When Gustavus called for the crucible, the next morning, 'twas all full of one solid piece of gold. He coined this into ducats, and on the coin, in memory of the fact, was struck the chemical marks for mercury and sulphur. Rhebender had several of them thus marked, and gave one of them to our Minister who told me the story.


Horace Walpole to Sir Horace Mann.

ARLINGTON STREET, May 24th, 1745.

I have no consequences of the battle of Tournay to tell you but the taking of the town; the Governor has eight days allowed him to consider whether he will give up the citadel. The French certainly lost more men than we did. Our army is still at Lessines, waiting for recruits from Holland and England; ours are sailed. The King is at Hanover. All the letters are

Horace Walpole to Sir Horace Mann-Popularity of the Duke of Cumberland.

full of the Duke's humanity and bravery; he will be as popular with the lower class of men, as he has been for three or four years with the low women; he will be the soldiers' Great Sir as well as theirs. I am really glad; it will be of great service to the family if any one of them comes to make a figure.

Lord Chesterfield is returned from Holland; you will see a most simple farewell speech of his in the papers.

I have received yours of the 4th of May, and am extremely obliged to you for your expressions of kindness; they did not at all surprise me, but every instance of your friendship gives me pleasure. I wish I could say the same to good Prince Craon. Yet I must set about answering his letter; it is quite an affair; I have so great a disuse of writing French that I believe it will be very barbarous.

My fears for Tuscany are again awakened. The wonderful march which the Spanish Queen has made Monsieur de Gage take, may probably end in his turning short to the left, for his route to Genoa will be full as difficult as what he has already passed. I watch eagerly every article from Italy, at a time when nobody will read a paragraph but from the army in Flanders.

I am diverted with my Lady's (Lady Walpole, now become Countess of Orford-ED.) account of the great riches that are now coming to her. She has had so many foolish golden visions, that I should think even the Florentines would not be the dupes of any more. As for her mourning, she may save it if she expects to have it notified. Don't you remember my Lady Pomfret's having a piece of economy of that sort, when she would not know that the Emperor was dead, because my Lord Chamberlain had not notified it to her?

Horace Walpole to Sir Hornce Mann-The Earthquake. Story of Marie Mignot.

I have a good story to tell you of Lord Bath, whose name you have not heard very lately; have you? He owed a tradesman eight hundred pounds, and would never pay him. The man determined to persecute him till he did, and one morning followed him to Lord Winchilsea's, and sent up word that he wanted to speak with him. Lord Bath came down, and said, "Fellow, what do you want with me?" "My money," said the man, as loud as ever he could bawl, before all the servants. He bade him come the next morning, and then would not see him. The next Sunday the man followed him to church, and got into the next pew; he leaned over, and said, "My money; give me my money!" My lord went to the end of the pew; the man too. "Give me my money!" The sermon was on avarice; and the text, "Cursed are they that heap up riches." The man groaned out, “O Lord!" and pointed to my Lord Bath. In short, he persisted so much, and drew the eyes of all the congregation, that my Lord Bath went out and paid him directly. I assure you this is a fact. Adieu !


Horace Walpole to Sir Horace Mann.

ARLINGTON STREET, March 11th, 1750.

"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 toward lowering the price of wonderful commodities, to be sure we are overstocked. We have had a second much more violent

* The earthquake is alluded to by Walpole frequently in his letters. Writing to Mann, April 2d, he says: "You will not wonder so much at our

Horace Walpole to Sir Horace Mann-The Earthquake. Story of Marie Mignot.

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 be

earthquakes, as at the effects they have had. All the women in town have taken them up on the footing 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, 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, 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, a month, which will 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. 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." . . Several women have made earthquake gowns, that is, warm gowns, to sit out of doors all 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." Again, he says, "Turner, a great china man at the corner of the 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.”—H.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »