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THE HON. HORACE WALPOLE TO GEORGE
Arlington Street, June 25, 1745. I HAVE been near three weeks in Essex at Mr. Rigby's, and had left your direction behind me, and could not write to you. 'Tis the charmingest place by nature, and the most trumpery by art that ever I saw. The house stands on a high hill, on an arm of the sea, which winds itself before two sides of the house. On the right and left, at the very foot of this bill lie two towns; the one of market quality, and the other with a wharf where ships come up. This last was to have a church, but by a lucky want of religion in the inhabitants, who would not contribute to building a steeple, it remains an absolute antique temple, with a portico on the very strand. 'Cross this VOL. VI.
arm of the sea you see six churches, and charming woody hills in Suffolk. All this parent na. ture did for this place; but its godfathers and godmothers, I believe, promised it should renounce all the pomps and vanities of this world, for they have patched up a square house, full of windows, low rooms, and thin walls; piled up walls wherever there was a glimpse of prospect ; planted avenues that go no where, and dug fish ponds where there should be avenues. We had very bad weather the whole time I was there, but however I rode about and sailed, not having the same apprehensions of catching cold that Mrs. Nerwood had once at Chelsea, when I persuaded her not to go home by water, because it would be damp after rain.
The town is not quite empty yet. My lady Fitzwalter, lady Betty Germain, lady Granville, and the dowager Strafford have their at-homes, and amass company. Lady B -n has done with her Sundays, for she is changing her house into Upper Brook Street. In the meantime she goes to Knightsbridge, and Sir Robert to the woman be keeps at Scarborough. Winnington goes on with the Frasi, so my lady T is obliged only to lie of people. You have heard of the disgrace of the Archibald; and that in future scandal she must only be ranked with the lady Elizabeth L -y and madam Lucy Wars, instead of being historically noble among the Clevelands, Portsmouths, and Yarmouths. 'Tis said Miss Granville has the reversion of her coronet; others say, she won't accept the patent.
Your friend Jemmy L-Y-I beg pardon,
I mean your kin, is not! I am sure he is not your friend ;--well, he has had an assembly, and he would write all the cards himself, and every one of them was to desire he's company and she's company, with other curious pieces of orthography. Adieu, dear George; I wish you a merry farm, as the children say at Vauxhall. My compliments to your sisters. Yours ever.
THE HON. HORACE WALPOLE TO GEORGE
Arlington Street, July 13, 1745. We are all Cabob'd and Caeofogoed, as my Lord D-h says. We who formerly, you know, could any one of us beat three Frenchmen, are now so degenerated that three Frenchmen can evidently beat one Englishman. Our army is running away, all that is left to run, for half of it is picked up by three or four hundred at a time. In short, we must step out of the high pantoufles that were made by those cunning shoemakers at Poitiers and Ramillies, and go clumping about, perhaps, in wooden ones. My lady Hervey, who you know dotes upon every thing French, is charmed with the hope of these new shoes, and has already bespoke herself a pair of pigeon wood. How did the tapestry at Blenheim look ? Did it glow with victory, or did all our glories look overcast ?
I remember a very admired sentence in one of my lord Chesterfield's speeches, when he was haranguing for this war; with a most rhetorical transition, he turned to the tapestry in the House of Lords, and said, with a sigh, he feared there were no historical looms at work now! Indeed, we have reason to bless the good patriots, who have been for employing our manufacturers so historically. The countess of that wise earl, with whose two expressive words I began this letter, says, she is very bappy now that my lord had never a place upon the coalition, for then all this bad situation of our affairs would have been laid
Now I have been talking of remarkable periods in our annals, must tell you what my lord Bal. timore thinks one. He said to the prince t'other day, “Sir, your royal highness's marriage will be an area in English history."
If it were not for the life that is put into the town now and then by very bad news from abroad, one should be quite stupified. There is nobody left but two or three solitary regents, and they are always whisking backwards and forwards to their villas; and about a dozen antediluvian dowagers, whose carcasses have miraculously re. sisted the wet, and who every Saturday compose a very reverend catacomb at my old lady Stafford's. She does not take money at the door for showing them, but you pay twelve pence a piece under the denomination of card money. Wit and beauty indeed remain in the persons of Lady Townshend and Lady Caroline Fitzroy; but such is the want of taste of this age, that the former is very often forced to wrap up her wit in plain English before it can be understood ; and the latter is almost as often obliged to have recourse to the same artifices to make her charms be taken notice of.
Of beauty I can tell you an admirable story : one Mrs. Comyns, an elderly gentlewoman, has lately taken a house in St. James's Street; some young gentlemen went there t'other night.
Well, Mrs. Comyns, I hope there won't be the same disturbances here that there were at your other house in Air Street. '- Lord, sir, I never had any disturbances there; mine was as quiet a house as any in the neighbourhood, and a great deal of good company came to me: it was only the ladies of quality that envied me.'-Envied you! why, your house was pulled down about your ears.'-'0 dear, sir! don't you know how that happened ?'—' No; pray how?'- Why, dear sir, it was my lady who gave ten guineas to the mob to demolish my house, because her ladyship fancied I got women for Colonel C-y.'
My dear George, don't you delight in this story? If poor Harry comes back from Flanders, I intend to have infinite fun with his prudery about this anecdote, which is full as good as if it was true. I beg you will visit Mrs. Comyns when you come to town; she has infinite humour. Adieu, dear George, yours ever,