« PreviousContinue »
Horace Walpole to George Montagu-The Richmond Fireworks, Etc.
was asking me who all the people were. And who is that? "C'est miladi Hartington, la belle fille du Duc de Devonshire." "Et qui est cette autre dame?" It was a distressing question. After a little hesitation, I replied, "Mais c'est Mademoiselle Violette?" 66 "Et comment Mademoiselle Violette! j'ai connu une Mademoiselle Violette par exemple." I begged him to look at Miss Bishop.
In the middle of all these principalities and powers was the Duchess of Queensbury, in her forlorn trim, a white apron and a white hood, and would make the Duke swallow all her undress. T'other day she drove post to Lady Sophia Thomas, at Parsonsgreen, and told her that she was come to tell her something of importance. "What is it?" "Why, take a couple of beefsteaks, clap them together, as if they were for a dumpling, and eat them with pepper and salt; it is the best thing you ever tasted. I could not help coming to tell you this! and away Don't a course of folly for forty years
she drove back to town.
make one very sick?
The weather is so hot and the roads so dusty, that I can't get to Strawberry. But I shall begin negotiating with you now about your coming. You must not expect to find it in beauty. I hope to get my bill finished in ten days; I have scrambled it through the Lords; but altogether, with the many difficulties and plagues, I am a good deal out of humor; my purchases hitch, and new proprietors start out of the ground, like the crop of soldiers in the Metamorphosis. I expect but an unpleasant summer; my indolence and inattention are not made to wade through leases and deeds. Mrs. Chenevix brought me one yesterday to sign, and her sister Bertrand, the toy-woman of Bath, for a witness. I showed them my cabinet of enamels instead of
Horace Walpole to George Montagu-Mary Queen of Scots.
treating them with white wine. The Bertrand said, "Sir, I hope you don't trust all sorts of ladies with this cabinet?" What an entertaining assumption of dignity! I must tell you an anecdote that I found t'other day in an old French author, which is a great drawback on beaux sentiments and romantic ideas. Pasquier, in his "Recherches de la France," is giving an account of the Queen of Scots' execution; he says: the night before, knowing her body must be stripped for her shroud, she would have her feet washed, because she used ointment to one of them which was sore. I believe I have told you that in a very old trial of her, which I bought from Lord Oxford's collection, it was said that she was a lame woman. Take sentiments out of their pantoufles, and reduce them to the infirmities of mortality, what a falling off there is? I could not help laughing in myself t'other day, as I went through Holborn, in a very hot day, at the dignity of human nature; all those foul old-clothes women panting without handkerchiefs, and mopping themselves all the way down within their loose jumps. Rigby gave me a strong picture of human nature. He and Peter Bathurst t'other night carried a servant of the latter's, who had attempted to shoot him, before Fielding, who, to all his other vocations, has, by the grace of Mr. Lyttleton, added that of Middlesex Justice. He sent them word he was at supper, that they must come next morning. They could not understand that freedom, and ran up, where they found him banqueting with a blind man, a ———, and three Irishmen, on some cold mutton and a bone of ham, both in one dish, and the dirtiest cloth. He never stirred, nor asked them to sit. Rigby, who had seen him so often come to beg a guinea of Sir C. Williams, and Bathurst, at whose father's he had lived, for victuals, understood that dignity as little, and
Horace Walpole to George Montagu-Fielding.
pulled themselves chairs, on which he civilized. Miller, the bookseller, has done generously by him; finding Tom Jones, for which he had given him six hundred pounds, sell so greatly, he has since given him another hundred. Now I talk to you of authors, Lord Cobham's West has published his translation of Pindar; the poetry is very stiff, but prefixed to it there is a very entertaining account of the Olympic games, and that preceded by an affected inscription to Pitt and Lyttleton. The latter has declared his future match with Miss Rich. George Grenville has been married these two days to Miss Windham. Your friend Lord North is, I suppose you know, on the brink with the Countess of Rockingham, and I think your cousin Rice is much inclined to double the family alliance with her sister Furnese. It went on very currently for two or three days, but last night at Vauxhall his minionette face seemed to be sent to languish with Lord R. Berties's. Was not you sorry for poor Cucumber? I do assure you I was; it was shocking to be hurried away so suddenly, and in such torment. You have heard, I suppose, of Lord Harry Beauclerc's resignation, on his not being able to obtain a respite till November, though the lowest officer in his regiment has got much longer leave. It is incredible how Nol kejumskoi has persecuted this poor man for these four years, since he could not be persuaded to alter his vote at a court-martial for the acquittal of a man whom the Duke would have condemned. Lord Ossulston, too, has resigned his commission.
I must tell you a good story of Charles Townshend. You know his political propensity and importance; his brother George was at supper at the King's Arms, with some more young men. The conversation somehow or other rambled into politics, and it was started that the national debt was a benefit.
66 I am
Bishop Warburton to Dr. Hurd-The Bishop at Court.
sure it is not," said Mr. Townshend; "I can't tell why, but my brother Charles can, and I will send to him for arguments." Charles was at supper at another tavern, but so much the dupe of this message, that he literally called for ink and paper, wrote four long sides of arguments, and sent word that when his company broke up he would come and give them more, which he did at one o'clock in the morning. I don't think you will laugh much less at what happened to me. I wanted a print out of a book, which I did not care to buy at Osborn's shop; the next day he sent me the print, and begged that when I had any thing to publish I would employ him. I will now tell you, and finish this long letter, how I shocked Mr. Mackenzie inadvertently at Vauxhall. We had supped there, a great party; and coming out, Mrs. More, who waits at the gate, said, "Gentlemen and ladies, you will walk in and hear the surprising alteration of voice?" I, forgetting Mackenzie's connections, and that he was formally of the band, replied, "No, I have seen patriots enough." I intend this letter shall last you till you come to Strawberry Hill; one might have rolled it out into half a dozen. My best compliments to your sisters.*
XXVI. THE BISHOP AT COURT.
Bishop Warburton to Dr. Hurd.
GROSVENOR SQUARE, 20th February, 1767. I have your kind letter of the sixth; and your flattery of me is more delicious to me than that of courts.
* This letter, the last of Walpole's in this book (although prior in time to several others), is amongst the most characteristic. Wordsworth speaks of Walpole as a cold, false-hearted, Frenchified coxcomb;" but his letters, from the anecdote, gossip, wit, and epigram with which they abound, and their animated pictures of character and society, will always be attractive.--H.
Bishop Warburton to Dr. Hurd-The Bishop at Court.
Lord Mansfield called on me as soon as I came to town. The Dedication was received as you supposed it would be.
I brought as usual a bad cold with me to town, and this being the first day I ventured out of doors, it was employed, as in duty bound, at court, it being a levee-day. A buffoon lord in waiting (you may guess whom I mean) was very busy marshalling the circle; and he said to me, without ceremony, “Move forward-you clog up the doorway." I replied with as little: "Did nobody clog up the King's doorstead more than I, there would be room for all honest men. This brought the man to himself.
When the King came up to me he asked, "why I did not come to town before?" I said, “I understood there was no business going forward in the House, in which I could be of service to his Majesty." He replied: "He supposed the severe storm of snow would have brought me up." I replied: "I was under cover of a very warm house."
You see by all this how unfit I am for courts, so let us leave them.
Dr. Balguy is in town, and laments your absence. Mr. Mason called on me the other day; he is grown extremely fat and his wife extremely lean-indeed, in the last stage of a consumption. I inquired after her health; he said she was something better, and that, I suppose, encouraged him to come out; but Dr. Balguy tells me, Heberden says she is irretrievably gone, and has touched upon it to him, and ought to do it to her. Where the terror of such a sentence may impede the doctor's endeavors to save, the pronouncing it would be very indiscreet. But on a consumption confirmed it is a work of charity, as the patient is always deluded with hopes to the very last breath.