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the person whose esteem I valued the most in the world, should think that I was fond of what I know is not my due. I meant to express this apprehension as respectfully as I could, but my words failed me a misfortune not too common to me, who am apt to say too much—not too little! Perhaps it is that very quality which your ladyship calls wit, and I call tinsel, for which I dread being praised. I wish to recommend myself to you by more essential merits—and if I can only make you laugh, it will be very apt to make me as much concerned as I was yesterday. For people to whose approbation I am indifferent, I don't care whether they commend or condemn me for my wit ; in the former case, they will not make me admire myself for it; in the latter, they can't make me think but what I have thought already. But for the few whose friendship I wish, I would fain have them see, that under all the idleness of my spirits there are some very serious qualities, such as warmth, gratitude, and sincerity, which ill returns may render useless or may make me lock up in my breast, but which will remain there while I have a being.
Having drawn you this picture of myself, madam, a subject I have to say much upon, will not your good-nature apply it as it deserves, to what passed yesterday? Won't you believe that my concern flowed from being disappointed at having offended one whom I ought by so many ties to try to please, and whom, if I ever meant any thing, I had meaned to please? I intended you should see how much I despise wit, if I have any, and that you should know my heart was void of vanity and full of gratitude. They are very few I desire should know so much; but my passions act too promptly and too naturally, as you saw, when I am with those I really love, to be capable of any disguise. Forgive me, madam, this tedious detail; but of all people living I cannot bear that you should have a doubt about me.
To GEORGE MONTAGU, Esq.
Arlington-street, Jan. 14, 1760. How do you contrive to exist on your mountain in this rude season? Sure you must be become a snowball! As I was
not in England in forty-one, I had no notion of such cold. The streets are abandoned; nothing appears in them : the Thames is almost as solid. Then think what a campaign must be in such a season! Our army was under arms for fourteen hours on the twenty-third, expecting the French ; and several of the men were frozen when they should have dismounted. What milksops the Marlboroughs and Turennes, the Blakes and the Van Tromps appear now, who whipped into winter quarters and into port, the moment their noses looked blue. Sir Cloudesly Shovel said that an admiral would deserve to be broke, who kept great ships out after the end of September, and to be shot if after October. There is Hawke in the bay weathering this winter, after conquering in a storm. For my part,
I venture to make a campaign in the Opera-house; for if I once begin to freeze, I shall be frozen through in a moment. amazed, with such weather, such ravages, and distress, that there is any thing left in Germany, but money; for thither half the treasure of Europe goes : England, France, Russia, and all the empress can squeeze from Italy and Hungary, all is sent thither, and yet the wretched people have not subsistence. A pound of bread sells at Dresden for eleven-pence. We are going to send many more troops thither; and it is so much the fashion to raise regiments, that I wish there were such a neutral kind of beings in England as abbés, that one might have an excuse for not growing military mad, when one has turned the heroic corner of one's age. I am ashamed of being a young rake, when my seniors are covering their grey toupees with helmet and feathers, and accoutring their pot-bellies with cuirasses and martial masquerade habits. Yet rake I am, and abominably so, for a person that begins to wrinkle reverendly. I have sat up twice this week till between two and three with the duchess of Grafton, at loo, who, by the way, has got a pam-child this morning ;' and on Saturday night I supped with
1 Sir Edward Hawke had defeated the French fleet, commanded by admiral Conflans, in the beginning of this winter. [Or.]
2 The Bay of Quiberon. The Admiral arrived at Plymouth on the 17th January, and on the 28th received the thanks of the House of Commons for his signal victory over the French fleet. [Ed.]
3 George Henry, earl of Euston, who succeeded his father as duke of Grafton, 14th March 1811. [Ed.]
prince Edward at my lady Rochford's, and we stayed till half an hour past three. My favour with that highness continues, or rather increases. He makes every body make suppers for him to meet me, for I still hold out against going to court. In short, if he were twenty years older, or I could make myself twenty years younger, I might carry him to Camden-house, and be as impertinent as ever my lady Churchill was; but, as I dread being ridiculous, I shall give my lord Bute no uneasiness. My lady Maynard, who divides the favour of this tiny court with me, supped with us. Did you know she sings French ballads very prettily? Lord Rochford played on the guitar, and the prince sung ; there were my two nieces, and lord Waldegrave, lord Huntingdon, and Mr. Morrison the groom, and the evening was pleasant; but I had a much more agreeable supper last night at Mrs. Clive's, with Miss West, my niece Cholmondeley, and Murphy the writing actor, who is very good company, and two or three more. Mrs. Cholmondeley is very lively; you know how entertaining the Clive is, and Miss West is an absolute original.
There is nothing new, but a very dull pamphlet, written by lord Bath, and his chaplain Douglas, called a letter to two great
It is a plan for the peace, and much adopted by the city, and much admired by all who are too humble to judge for themselves.
I was much diverted the other morning with another volume on birds, by Edwards, who has published four or five. The poor man, who is grown very old and devout, begs God to take from him the love of natural philosophy; and having observed some heterodox proceedings among bantam cocks, he proposes that all schools of girls and boys should be promiscuous, lest, if separated, they should learn wayward passions. But what struck me most were his dedications; the last was to God; this is to lord Bute, as if he was determined to make his fortune in one world or the other.
Pray read Fontaine's fable of the lion grown old; don't it put you in mind of any thing ? No! not when his shaggy majesty has borne the insults of the tiger and the horse, &c., and the ass comes last, kicks out his only remaining fang, and asks for a blue bridle? à propos, I will tell you the turn Charles Townshend gave to this fable. “ My lord,” said he, “has
quite mistaken the thing; he soars too high at first : people often miscarry by not proceeding by degrees; he went, and at once asked for my lord Carlisle's garter—if he would have been contented to ask first for my lady C **** 's garter, I don't doubt but he would have obtained it.” Adieu !
To GEORGE MONTAGU, Esq.
Arlington street, Jan. 28, 1760. I shall almost frighten you from coming to London, for whether
will be equally in danger. All the horses in town are laid up with sore throats and colds, and are so hoarse, you cannot hear them speak. I, with all my immortality, have been half killed ; that violent bitter weather was too much for
I have had a nervous fever these six or seven weeks, every night, and have taken bark enough to have made a rind for Daphne ; nay, have even staid at home two days; but I think my eternity begins to bud again. I am quite of Dr. Garth's mind, who, when any body commended a hard frost to him, used to reply, “yes, sir, 'fore Gad, very fine weather, sir ; very wholesome weather, sir ; kills trees, sir ; very good for a man, sir.” There has been cruel havoc among the ladies ; my lady Granby' is dead; and the famous Polly, duchess of Bolton, ? and my lady Besborough. I have no great reason to lament the last, and yet the circumstances of her death, and the horror of it to her family, make one shudder. It was the same sore throat and fever that carried off four of their children a few years ago. My lord now fell ill of it, very ill, and the eldest daughter slightly: my lady caught it, attending her husband, and concealed it as long as she could. When at last the physician insisted on her keeping her bed, she said, as she went into her room, Then, Lord have mercy on me! I shall never come out of it again,” and died in three days. Lord Besborough grew outrageously impatient at not seeing her, and would have forced into her room, when she had been dead about four days. They were obliged to tell him the truth; never was an answer that expressed so much horror ! he said: " And how many children have I left ?” not knowing how far this calamity might have reached. Poor lady Coventry is near completing this black list.
| Eldest daughter of Charles, duke of Somerset. (Or.]
2 Formerly Miss Fenton, the original Polly of the Beggar's Opera. Charles, duke of Bolton, took her off the stage, and, after having children by her, married her. According to Walpole, after a life of merit, she relapsed into Pollyhood.” Two years before her death, she picked up an Irish surgeon at Tunbridge, who, wben she was dying, sent for a lawyer to make her will; but he, finding who was to be her heir instead of her children, refused to draw it. Another less scrupulous was found, and she left her three sons a thousand pounds a-piece, the surgeon about nine thousand. [Ed.]
3 Caroline, eldest daughter of William, third duke of Devonshire, and wife of William Ponsonby, earl of Besborough. (Ed.]
You have heard, I suppose, a horrid story of another kind, of lord Ferrers murdering his steward in the most barbarous and deliberate manner. He sent away all his servants but one, and, like that heroic murderess queen Christina, carried the poor man through a gallery and several rooms, locking them after him, and then bid the man kneel down, for he was determined to kill him. The poor creature Alung himself at his feet, but in vain, was shot, and lived twelve hours. Mad as this action was from the consequences, there was no frenzy in his behaviour; he got drunk, and, at intervals, talked of it coolly; but did not attempt to escape, till the colliers beset his house, and were determined to take him alive or dead. He is now in the jail at Leicester, and will soon be removed to the Tower, then to Westminsterhall, and I suppose to Tower-hill; unless, as Lord Talbot prophesied in the house of Lords, “ Not being thought mad enough to be shut up, till he had killed somebody, he will then be thought too mad to be executed;" but Lord Talbot was no more honoured in his vocation, than other prophets are in their own country.
As you seem amused with my entertainments, I will tell you how I passed yesterday. A party was made to go to the Magdalen house. We met at Northumberland-house at five, and set out in four coaches. Prince Edward, colonel Brudenel, his groom, lady Northumberland, lady Mary Coke, lady Carlisle, Miss
+ The Magdalen Hospital was originally opened August 1758, in Goodman's Fields ; the inmates were afterwards removed to the present institution, built in 1772, in the Blackfriars' Road. [Ed.]