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burlettas, and the king cannot go on Tuesdays, his post-days. On those nights we have the middle front box, railed in, where lady Mary 3 and I sit in triste state like a lord mayor and lady mayoress. The night before last there was a private ball at court, which began at half an hour after six, lasted till one, and finished without a supper. The king danced the whole time with the queen, lady Augusta with her four younger brothers. The other performers were : the two duchesses of Ancaster and Hamilton, who danced little ; lady Effingham and lady Egremont, who danced much; the six maids of honour; lady Susan Stewart, as attending lady Augusta; and lady Caroline Russel and lady Jane Stewart, the only women not of the family. Lady Northumberland is at Bath; lady Weymouth lies in; lady Bolingbroke was there in waiting, but in black gloves, so did not dance. The men, besides the royals, were lords March and Eglintoun, of the bed-chamber; lord Cantelupe, vice-chamberlain ; lord Huntingdon; and four strangers, lord Mandeville, lord Northampton, lord Suffolk, and lord Grey. No sitters-by, but the princess, the duchess of Bedford, and lady Bute.
If it had not been for this ball, I don't know how I should have furnished a decent letter. Pamphlets on Mr. Pitt are the whole conversation, and none of them worth sending cross the water: at least I, who am said to write some of them, think so; by which you may perceive I am not much flattered with the imputation. There must be new personages at least, before I write on any side ~ Mr. Pitt and the duke of Newcastle ! I should as soon think of informing the world that miss Chudleigh is no vestal. You will like better to see some words which Mr. Gray has writ, at miss Speed's request, to an old air of Geminiani : the thought is from the French.
Thyrasis, when we parted, swore
Ere the spring he would return,
And the buds that deck the thorn ?
3 Lady Mary Coke, sister of lady Strafford, and daughter and coheiress of John, second duke of Argyle. She was the widow of lord Coke, son of the earl of Leicester, who died in 1753. [Ed.]
Why this unavailing haste ?
Speak not always winter past.
Adieu, madam, your most faithful servant.
To GEORGE MONTAGU, Esq.
Arlington-street, Dec. 8, 1761. I RETURN you the list of prints, and shall be glad you will bring me all, to which I have affixed this mark X. The rest I have ; yet the expense of the whole list would not ruin me. Lord Farnham, who, I believe, departed this morning, brings you the list of the duke of Devonshire's pictures.
I have been told that Mr. Bourk's history was of England, not of Ireland ; I am glad it is the latter, for I am now in Mr. Hume's England, and would fain read no more.
I not only know what has been written, but what would be written. Our story is so exhausted, that to make it new, they really make it neu. Mr. Hume has exalted Edward the Second, and depressed Edward the Third. The next historian, I suppose, will make James the First a hero, and geld Charles the Second.
Fingal' is come out; I have not yet got through it; not but it is very fine-yet I cannot at once compass an epic poem now, It tires me to death to read how many ways a warrior is like the moon, or the sun, or a rock, or a lion, or the ocean. Fingal is a brave collection of similes, and will serve all the boys at Eton and Westminster for these twenty years. I will trust you with a secret, but you must not disclose it; I should be ruined with my Scotch friends ; in short, I cannot believe it genuine ; I cannot believe a regular poem of six books has been preserved, uncorrupted, by oral tradition, from times before Christianity
1 Fingal, an ancient epic poem, in six books, 8vo., translated from the Gaelic, by James Macpherson. Walpole's opinion as to the genuineness of these ossianic fragments is that of the generality of critics.
was introduced into the island. What! preserved unadulterated by savages dispersed among mountains, and so often driven from their dens, so wasted by wars civil and foreign! Has one man ever got all by heart? I doubt it; were parts preserved by some, other parts by others ? Mighty lucky, that the tradition was never interrupted, nor any part lost--not a verse, not a measure, not the sense ! luckier and luckier. I have been extremely qualified myself lately for this Scotch memory ; we have had nothing but a coagulation of rains, fogs, and frosts, and though they have clouded all understanding, I suppose, if I had tried, J should have found that they thickened, and gave great consistence to my remembrance.
You want news-I must make it, if I send it. To change the dullness of the scene I went to the play, where I had not been this winter. They are so crowded, that though I went before six, I got no better place than a fifth row, where I heard very ill, and was pent for five hours without a soul near me that I knew. It was Cymbeline, and appeared to me as long as if every body in it went really to Italy in every act, and came back again. With a few pretty passages and a scene or two, it is so absurd and tiresome, that I am persuaded Garrick
To GEORGE MONTAGU, Esq.
Arlington-street, Dec. 23, 1761. Past midnight. I am this minute come home, and find such a delightful letter from you, that I cannot help answering it, and telling you so before I sleep. You need not affirm, that your ancient wit and pleasantry are revived; your letter is but five and twenty, and I will forgive any vanity that is so honest and so well founded. Ireland I see produces wonders of more sorts than one; if my lord Anson was to go lord-lieutenant, I suppose he would return a ravisher. How different am I from this state of revivification ! Even such talents as I had are far from blooming again; and while my friends, or cotemporaries, or predecessors, are rising to preside over the fame of this age, I seem a mere antediluvian ; must live upon what little stock of reputation I had
The rest of this letter is lost. [Or.]
acquired, and indeed grow so indifferent, that I can only wonder how those whom I thought as old as myself, can interest themselves so much about a world whose faces I hardly know. You recover your spirits and wit, Rigby' is grown a speaker, Mr. Bentley a poet, while I am nursing one or two gouty friends, and sometimes lamenting that I am likely to survive the few that I have left. Nothing tempts me to launch out again ; every day teaches me how much I was mistaken in my own parts, and I am in no danger now but of thinking I am grown too wise; for every period of life has its mistake.
Mr. Bentley's relation to lord Rochester by the St. Johns is not new to me, and you had more reason to doubt of their affi. nity by the former marrying his mistress, than to ascribe their consanguinity to it. I shall be glad to see the epistle : are not the Wishes to be acted ? Remember me, if they are printed ; and I shall thank you for this new list of prints.
I have mentioned names enough in this letter to lead me naturally to new ill usage I have received. Just when I thought my book finished, my printer ran away, and had left eighteen sheets in the middle of the book untouched, having amused me with sending proofs. He had got into debt, and two girls * *; being two, he could not marry two Hannahs. my luck; I had been kind to this fellow ; in short, if the faults of my life had been punished as severely as my merits have been, I should be the most unhappy of beings; but let us talk of something else.
I have picked up at Mrs. Dunch's auction the sweetest Petitot in the world—the very picture of James the Second, that he gave Mrs. Godfrey, and I paid but six guineas and a half for it. I will not tell you how vast a commission I had given; but I will own, that about the hour of sale, I drove about the door to find what likely bidders there were.
The first coach I saw was the · The hon. Richard Rigby, M. P. for Tavistock, secretary to the duke of Bedford while lord lieutenant for Ireland. [Ed.]
? Arabella Churchill, sister of the great duke of Marlborough, was the mistress of James the second while duke of York, by whom she had four children-the celebrated duke of Berwick, the duke of Albemarle, and two daughters. She afterwards became th wife of colonel Charles Godfrey, master of the Jewel office, and died in 1714, leaving by him two daughters, Charlotte, viscountess Falmouth, and Elizabeth, wife of Edmund Dunch, esq. [Ed.]
Chudleighs ; could I help concluding, that a maid of honour, kept by a duke, would purchase the portrait of a duke kept by a maid of honour—but I was mistaken. The Oxendens reserved the best pictures; the fine china, and even the diamonds, sold for nothing; for nobody has a shilling. We shall be beggars if we don't conquer Peru within this half year.
If you are acquainted with my lady Barrymore, pray tell her that in less than two hours t'other night the duke of Cumberland lost four hundred and fifty pounds at loo; Miss Pelham won three hundred, and I the rest. However, in general, loo is extremely gone to decay; I am to play at princess Emily's tomorrow for the first time this winter, and it is with difficulty she has made a party.
My lady Pomfret is dead on the road to Bath ; and, unless the deluge stops, and the fogs disperse, I think we shall die. A few days ago, on the cannon firing for the king going to the house, somebody asked what it was for? Monsieur de Choiseul replied,
Apparemment, c'est qu'on voit le soleil."
Shall I fill up the rest of my paper with some extempore lines, that I wrote t'other night on lady Mary Coke having St. Anthony's fire in her cheek? You will find nothing in them to contradict what I have said in the former part of my letter; they rather confirm it.
rogue you were, nor can a dart
3 The right hon. countess dowager of Pomfret, relict of Thomas Fermor, second lord and first earl of Pomfret, died 17th December 1761. [Ed.]