Letters to his Son, by The Earl of Chesterfield

1759–65

LETTER CCXXXVII

MY DEAR FRIEND: Molti e felici, and I have done upon that subject, one truth being fair, upon the most lying day in the whole year.

I have now before me your last letter of the 21st December, which I am glad to find is a bill of health: but, however, do not presume too much upon it, but obey and honor your physician, “that thy days may be long in the land.”

Since my last, I have heard nothing more concerning the ribband; but I take it for granted it will be disposed of soon. By the way, upon reflection, I am not sure that anybody but a knight can, according to form, be employed to make a knight. I remember that Sir Clement Cotterel was sent to Holland, to dub the late Prince of Orange, only because he was a knight himself; and I know that the proxies of knights, who cannot attend their own installations, must always be knights. This did not occur to me before, and perhaps will not to the person who was to recommend you: I am sure I will not stir it; and I only mention it now, that you may be in all events prepared for the disappointment, if it should happen.

G—— is exceedingly flattered with your account, that three thousand of his countrymen; all as little as himself, should be thought a sufficient guard upon three-and-twenty thousand of all the nations in Europe; not that he thinks himself, by any means, a little man, for when he would describe a tall handsome man, he raises himself up at least half an inch to represent him.

The private news from Hamburg is, that his Majesty’s Resident there is woundily in love with Madame ———; if this be true, God send him, rather than her, a good DELIVERY! She must be etrennee at this season, and therefore I think you should be so too: so draw upon me as soon as you please, for one hundred pounds.

Here is nothing new, except the unanimity with which the parliament gives away a dozen of millions sterling; and the unanimity of the public is as great in approving of it, which has stifled the usual political and polemical argumentations.

Cardinal Bernis’s disgrace is as sudden, and hitherto as little understood, as his elevation was. I have seen his poems, printed at Paris, not by a friend, I dare say; and to judge by them, I humbly conceive his Eminency is a p —— y. I will say nothing of that excellent headpiece that made him and unmade him in the same month, except O KING, LIVE FOREVER.

Good-night to you, whoever you pass it with.

LETTER CCXXXVIII

MY DEAR FRIEND: I am now (what I have very seldom been) two letters in your debt: the reason was, that my head, like many other heads, has frequently taken a wrong turn; in which case, writing is painful to me, and therefore cannot be very pleasant to my readers.

I wish you would (while you have so good an opportunity as you have at Hamburg) make yourself perfectly master of that dull but very useful knowledge, the course of exchange, and the causes of its almost perpetual variations; the value and relation of different coins, the specie, the banco, usances, agio, and a thousand other particulars. You may with ease learn, and you will be very glad when you have learned them; for, in your business, that sort of knowledge will often prove necessary.

I hear nothing more of Prince Ferdinand’s garter: that he will have one is very certain; but when, I believe, is very uncertain; all the other postulants wanting to be dubbed at the same time, which cannot be, as there is not ribband enough for them.

If the Russians move in time, and in earnest, there will be an end of our hopes and of our armies in Germany: three such mill-stones as Russia, France, and Austria, must, sooner or later, in the course of the year, grind his Prussian Majesty down to a mere MARGRAVE of Brandenburg. But I have always some hopes of a change under a Gunarchy [Derived from the Greek word Iuvn a woman, and means female government] where whim and humor commonly prevail, reason very seldom, and then only by a lucky mistake.

I expect the incomparable fair one of Hamburg, that prodigy of beauty, and paragon of good sense, who has enslaved your mind, and inflamed your heart. If she is as well etrennee as you say she shall, you will be soon out of her chains; for I have, by long experience, found women to be like Telephus’s spear, if one end kills, the other cures.

There never was so quiet, nor so silent a session of parliament as the present; Mr. Pitt declares only what he would have them do, and they do it nemine contradicente, Mr. Viner only expected.

Duchess Hamilton is to be married, tomorrow, to Colonel Campbell, the son of General Campbell, who will some day or other be Duke of Argyle, and have the estate. She refused the Duke of B——r for him.

Here is a report, but I believe a very groundless one, that your old acquaintance, the fair Madame C——— e, is run away from her husband, with a jeweler, that etrennes her, and is come over here; but I dare say it is some mistake, or perhaps a lie. Adieu! God bless you!

LETTER CCXXXIX

MY DEAR FRIEND: In your last letter, of the 7th, you accuse me, most unjustly, of being in arrears in my correspondence; whereas, if our epistolary accounts were fairly liquidated, I believe you would be brought in considerably debtor. I do not see how any of my letters to you can miscarry, unless your office-packet miscarries too, for I always send them to the office. Moreover, I might have a justifiable excuse for writing to you seldomer than usual, for to be sure there never was a period of time, in the middle of a winter, and the parliament sitting, that supplied so little matter for a letter. Near twelve millions have been granted this year, not only nemine contradicente, but, nemine quicquid dicente. The proper officers bring in the estimates; it is taken for granted that they are necessary and frugal; the members go to dinner; and leave Mr. West and Mr. Martin to do the rest.

I presume you have seen the little poem of the “Country Lass,” by Soame Jenyns, for it was in the “Chronicle”; as was also an answer to it, from the “Monitor.” They are neither of them bad performances; the first is the neatest, and the plan of the second has the most invention. I send you none of those pieces volantes in my letters, because they are all printed in one or other of the newspapers, particularly in the “Chronicles”; and I suppose that you and others have all those papers among you at Hamburg; in which case it would be only putting you to the unnecessary expense of double postage.

I find you are sanguine about the King of Prussia this year; I allow his army will be what you say; but what will that be vis-a-vis French, Austrians, Imperialists, Swedes, and Russians, who must amount to more than double that number? Were the inequality less, I would allow for the King of Prussia’s being so much ipse agmen as pretty nearly to balance the account. In war, numbers are generally my omens; and, I confess, that in Germany they seem not happy ones this year. In America. I think, we are sure of success, and great success; but how we shall be able to strike a balance, as they call it, between good success there, and ill success upon the continent, so as to come at a peace; is more than I can discover.

Lady Chesterfield makes you her compliments, and thanks you for your offer; but declines troubling you, being discouraged by the ill success of Madame Munchausen’s and Miss Chetwynd’s commissions, the former for beef, and the latter for gloves; neither of which have yet been executed, to the dissatisfaction of both. Adieu.

LETTER CCXL

MY DEAR FRIEND: I have now your letter of the 20th past lying before me, by which you despond, in my opinion too soon, of dubbing your Prince; for he most certainly will have the Garter; and he will as probably have it before the campaign opens, as after. His campaign must, I doubt, at best be a defensive one; and he will show great skill in making it such; for according to my calculation, his enemies will be at least double his number. Their troops, indeed, may perhaps be worse than his; but then their number will make up that defect, as it will enable them to undertake different operations at the same time. I cannot think that the King of Denmark will take a part in the present war; which he cannot do without great possible danger; and he is well paid by France for his neutrality; is safe, let what will turn out; and, in the meantime, carries on his commerce with great advantage and security; so that that consideration will not retard your visit to your own country, whenever you have leave to return, and that your own ARRANGEMENTS will allow you. A short absence animates a tender passion, et l’on ne recule que pour mieux sauter, especially in the summer months; so that I would advise you to begin your journey in May, and continue your absence from the dear object of your vows till after the dog-days, when love is said to be unwholesome. We have been disappointed at Martinico; I wish we may not be so at Guadaloupe, though we are landed there; for many difficulties must be got over before we can be in possession of the whole island. A pro pos de bottes; you make use of two Spanish words, very properly, in your letter; were I you, I would learn the Spanish language, if there were a Spaniard at Hamburg who could teach me; and then you would be master of all the European languages that are useful; and, in my mind, it is very convenient, if not necessary, for a public man to understand them all, and not to be obliged to have recourse to an interpreter for those papers that chance or business may throw in his way. I learned Spanish when I was older than you; convinced by experience that, in everything possible, it was better to trust to one’s self than to any other body whatsoever. Interpreters, as well as relaters, are often unfaithful, and still oftener incorrect, puzzling, and blundering. In short, let it be your maxim through life to know all you can know, yourself; and never to trust implicitly to the informations of others. This rule has been of infinite service to me in the course of my life.

I am rather better than I was; which I owe not to my physicians, but to an ass and a cow, who nourish me, between them, very plentifully and wholesomely; in the morning the ass is my nurse, at night the cow; and I have just now, bought a milch-goat, which is to graze, and nurse me at Blackheath. I do not know what may come of this latter, and I am not without apprehensions that it may make a satyr of me; but, should I find that obscene disposition growing upon me, I will check it in time, for fear of endangering my life and character by rapes. And so we heartily bid you farewell.

LETTER CCXLI

MY DEAR FRIEND: I do not like these frequent, however short, returns of your illness; for I doubt they imply either want of skill in your physician, or want of care in his patient. Rhubarb, soap, and chalybeate medicines and waters, are almost always specifics for obstructions of the liver; but then a very exact regimen is necessary, and that for a long continuance. Acids are good for you, but you do not love them; and sweet things are bad for you, and you do love them. There is another thing very bad for you, and I fear you love it too much. When I was in Holland, I had a slow fever that hung upon me a great while; I consulted Boerhaave, who prescribed me what I suppose was proper, for it cured me; but he added, by way of postscript to his prescription, Venus rarius colatur; which I observed, and perhaps that made the medicines more effectual.

I doubt we shall be mutually disappointed in our hopes of seeing one another this spring, as I believe you will find, by a letter which you will receive at the same time with this, from Lord Holderness; but as Lord Holderness will not tell you all, I will, between you and me, supply that defect. I must do him the justice to say that he has acted in the most kind and friendly manner possible to us both. When the King read your letter, in which you desired leave to return, for the sake of drinking the Tunbridge waters, he said, “If he wants steel waters, those of Pyrmont are better than Tunbridge, and he can have them very fresh at Hamburg. I would rather he had asked me to come last autumn, and had passed the winter here; for if he returns now, I shall have nobody in those quarters to inform me of what passes; and yet it will be a very busy and important scene.” Lord Holderness, who found that it would not be liked, resolved to push it no further; and replied, he was very sure that when you knew his Majesty had the least objection to your return at this time, you would think of it no longer; and he owned that he (Lord Holderness) had given you encouragement for this application last year, then thinking and hoping that there would be little occasion for your presence at Hamburg this year. Lord Holderness will only tell you, in his letter, that, as he had some reason to believe his moving this matter would be disagreeable to the King, he resolved, for your sake, not to mention it. You must answer his letter upon that footing simply, and thank him for this mark of his friendship, for he has really acted as your friend. I make no doubt of your having willing leave to return in autumn, for the whole winter. In the meantime, make the best of your sejour where you are; drink the Pyrmont waters, and no wine but Rhenish, which, in your case is the only proper one for you.

Next week Mr. Harte will send you his “Gustavus Adolphus,” in two quartos; it will contain many new particulars of the life of that real hero, as he has had abundant and authentic materials, which have never yet appeared. It will, upon the whole, be a very curious and valuable history; though, between you and me, I could have wished that he had been more correct and elegant in his style. You will find it dedicated to one of your acquaintance, who was forced to prune the luxuriant praises bestowed upon him, and yet has left enough of all conscience to satisfy a reasonable man. Harte has been very much out of order these last three or four months, but is not the less intent upon sowing his lucerne, of which he had six crops last year, to his infinite joy, and, as he says, profit. As a gardener, I shall probably have as much joy, though not quite so much profit, by thirty or forty shillings; for there is the greatest promise of fruit this year at Blackheath, that ever I saw in my life. Vertumnus and Pomona have been very propitious to me: as for Priapus, that tremendous garden god, as I no longer invoke him, I cannot expect his protection from the birds and the thieves.

Adieu! I will conclude like a pedant, Levius fit patientia quicquid corrigere est nefas.

LETTER CCXLII

MY DEAR FRIEND: With humble submission to you, I still say that if Prince Ferdinand can make a defensive campaign this year, he will have done a great deal, considering the great inequality of numbers. The little advantages of taking a regiment or two prisoners, or cutting another to pieces, are but trifling articles in the great account; they are only the pence, the pounds are yet to come; and I take it for granted, that neither the French, nor the Court of Vienna, will have le dementi of their main object, which is unquestionably Hanover; for that is the summa summarum; and they will certainly take care to draw a force together for this purpose, too great for any that Prince Ferdinand has, or can have, to oppose them. In short, mark the end on’t, j’en augure mal. If France, Austria, the Empire, Russia, and Sweden, are not, at long run, too hard for the two Electors of Hanover and Brandenburg, there must be some invisible power, some tutelar deities, that miraculously interpose in favor of the latter.

You encourage me to accept all the powers that goats, asses, and bulls, can give me, by engaging for my not making an ill use of them; but I own, I cannot help distrusting myself a little, or rather human nature; for it is an old and very true observation, that there are misers of money, but none of power; and the non-use of the one, and the abuse of the other, increase in proportion to their quantity.

I am very sorry to tell you that Harte’s “Gustavus Adolphus” does not take at all, and consequently sells very little: it is certainly informing, and full of good matter; but it is as certain too, that the style is execrable: where the devil he picked it up, I cannot conceive, for it is a bad style, of a new and singular kind; it is full of Latinisms, Gallicisms, Germanisms, and all isms but Anglicisms; in some places pompous, in others vulgar and low. Surely, before the end of the world, people, and you in particular, will discover that the MANNER, in everything, is at least as important as the matter; and that the latter never can please, without a good degree of elegance in the former. This holds true in everything in life: in writing, conversing, business, the help of the Graces is absolutely necessary; and whoever vainly thinks himself above them, will find he is mistaken when it will be too late to court them, for they will not come to strangers of an advanced age. There is an history lately come out, of the “Reign of Mary Queen of Scots” and her son (no matter by whom) King James, written by one Robertson, a Scotchman, which for clearness, purity, and dignity of style, I will not scruple to compare with the best historians extant, not excepting Davila, Guicciardini, and perhaps Livy. Its success has consequently been great, and a second edition is already published and bought up. I take it for granted, that it is to be had, or at least borrowed, at Hamburg, or I would send it to you.

I hope you drink the Pyrmont waters every morning. The health of the mind depends so much upon the health of the body, that the latter deserves the utmost attention, independently of the senses. God send you a very great share of both! Adieu.

LETTER CCXLIII

MY DEAR FRIEND: I have received your two letters of the 10th and 13th, by the last mail; and I will begin my answer to them, by observing to you that a wise man, without being a Stoic, considers, in all misfortunes that befall him, their best as well as their worst side; and everything has a better and a worse side. I have strictly observed that rule for many years, and have found by experience that some comfort is to be extracted, under most moral ills, by considering them in every light, instead of dwelling, as people are too apt to do, upon the gloomy side of the object. Thank God, the disappointment that you so pathetically groan under, is not a calamity which admits of no consolation. Let us simplify it, and see what it amounts to. You are pleased with the expectation of coming here next month, to see those who would have been pleased with seeing you. That, from very natural causes, cannot be, and you must pass this summer at Hamburg, and next winter in England, instead of passing this summer in England, and next winter at Hamburg. Now, estimating things fairly, is not the change rather to your advantage? Is not the summer more eligible, both for health and pleasure, than the winter, in that northern frozen zone? And will not the winter in England supply you with more pleasures than the summer, in an empty capital, could have done? So far then it appears, that you are rather a gainer by your misfortune.

The TOUR too, which you propose making to Lubeck, Altena, etc., will both amuse and inform you; for, at your age, one cannot see too many different places and people; since at the age you are now of, I take it for granted that you will not see them superficially, as you did when you first went abroad.

This whole matter then, summed up, amounts to no more than this — that you will be here next winter, instead of this summer. Do not think that all I have said is the consolation only of an old philosophical fellow, almost insensible of pleasure or pain, offered to a young fellow who has quick sensations of both. No, it is the rational philosophy taught me by experience and knowledge of the world, and which I have practiced above thirty years.

I always made the best of the best, and never made bad worse by fretting; this enabled me to go through the various scenes of life in which I have been an actor, with more pleasure and less pain than most people. You will say, perhaps, one cannot change one’s nature; and that if a person is born of a very sensible, gloomy temper, and apt to see things in the worst light, they cannot help it, nor new-make themselves. I will admit it, to a certain degree; and but to a certain degree; for though we cannot totally change our nature, we may in a great measure correct it, by reflection and philosophy; and some philosophy is a very necessary companion in this world, where, even to the most fortunate, the chances are greatly against happiness.

I am not old enough, nor tenacious enough, to pretend not to understand the main purport of your last letter; and to show you that I do, you may draw upon me for two hundred pounds, which, I hope, will more than clear you.

Good-night: aquam memento rebus in arduis servare mentem: Be neither transported nor depressed by the accidents of life.

LETTER CCXLIV

MY DEAR FRIEND: Your secretary’s last letter of the 4th, which I received yesterday, has quieted my fears a good deal, but has not entirely dissipated them. YOUR FEVER STILL CONTINUES, he says, THOUGH IN A LESS DEGREE. Is it a continued fever, or an intermitting one? If the former, no wonder that you are weak, and that your head aches. If the latter, why has not the bark, in substance and large doses, been administered? for if it had, it must have stopped it by this time. Next post, I hope, will set me quite at ease. Surely you have not been so regular as you ought, either in your medicines or in your general regimen, otherwise this fever would not have returned; for the Doctor calls it, YOUR FEVER RETURNED, as if you had an exclusive patent for it. You have now had illnesses enough, to know the value of health, and to make you implicitly follow the prescriptions of your physician in medicines, and the rules of your own common sense in diet; in which, I can assure you, from my own experience, that quantity is often worse than quality; and I would rather eat half a pound of bacon at a meal, than two pounds of any the most wholesome food.

I have been settled here near a week, to my great satisfaction; c’est ma place, and I know it, which is not given to everybody. Cut off from social life by my deafness, as well as other physical ills, and being at best but the ghost of my former self, I walk here in silence and solitude as becomes a ghost: with this only difference, that I walk by day, whereas, you know, to be sure, that other ghosts only appear by night. My health, however, is better than it was last year, thanks to my almost total milk diet. This enables me to vary my solitary amusements, and alternately to scribble as well as read, which I could not do last year. Thus I saunter away the remainder, be it more or less, of an agitated and active life, now reduced (and I am not sure that I am a loser by the change) to so quiet and serene a one, that it may properly be called still life.

The French whisper in confidence, in order that it may be the more known and the more credited, that they intend to invade us this year, in no less than three places; that is England, Scotland, and Ireland. Some of our great men, like the devils, believe and tremble; others, and one little one whom I know, laugh at it; and, in general, it seems to be but a poor, instead of a formidable scarecrow. While somebody was at the head of a moderate army, and wanted (I know why) to be at the head of a great one, intended invasions were made an article of political faith; and the belief of them was required, as in the Church the belief of some absurdities, and even impossibilities, is required upon pain of heresy, excommunication, and consequently damnation, if they tend to the power and interest of the heads of the Church. But now that there is a general toleration, and that the best subjects, as well as the best Christians, may believe what their reasons find their consciences suggest, it is generally and rationally supposed the French will threaten and not strike, since we are so well prepared, both by armies and fleets, to receive and, I may add, to destroy them. Adieu! God bless you.

LETTER CCXLV

MY DEAR FRIEND: Your letter of the 5th, which I received yesterday, gave me great satisfaction, being all in your own hand; though it contains great, and I fear just complaints of your ill state of health. You do very well to change the air; and I hope that change will do well by you. I would therefore have you write after the 20th of August, to Lord Holderness, to beg of him to obtain his Majesty’s leave for you to return to England for two or three months, upon account of your health. Two or three months is an indefinite time, which may afterward insensibly stretched to what length one pleases; leave that to me. In the meantime, you may be taking your measures with the best economy.

The day before yesterday, an express arrived from Guadaloupe which brought an account of our being in possession of the whole island. And I make no manner of doubt but that, in about two months, we shall have as good news from Crown-point, Quebec, etc. Our affairs in Germany, I fear, will not be equally prosperous; for I have very little hopes for the King of Prussia or Prince Ferdinand. God bless you.

LETTER CCXLVI

MY DEAR FRIEND: The two last mails have brought me no letter from you or your secretary. I will take this as a sign that you are better; but, however, if you thought that I cared to know, you should have cared to have written. Here the weather has been very fine for a fortnight together, a longer term than in this climate we are used to hold fine weather by. I hope it is so, too, at Hamburg, or at least at the villa to which you are gone; but pray do not let it be your villa viciosa, as those retirements are often called, and too often prove; though, by the way, the original name was villa vezzosa; and by wags miscalled viciosa.

I have a most gloomy prospect of affairs in Germany; the French are already in possession of Cassel, and of the learned part of Hanover, that is Gottingen; where I presume they will not stop pour l’amour des belles lettres, but rather go on to the capital, and study them upon the coin. My old acquaintance, Monsieur Richelieu, made a great progress there in metallic learning and inscriptions. If Prince Ferdinand ventures a battle to prevent it, I dread the consequences; the odds are too great against him. The King of Prussia is still in a worse situation; for he has the Hydra to encounter; and though he may cut off a head or two, there will still be enough left to devour him at last. I have, as you know, long foretold the now approaching catastrophe; but I was Cassandra. Our affairs in the new world have a much more pleasing aspect; Guadaloupe is a great acquisition, and Quebec, which I make no doubt of, will still be greater. But must all these advantages, purchased at the price of so much English blood and treasure, be at last sacrificed as a peace-offering? God knows what consequences such a measure may produce; the germ of discontent is already great, upon the bare supposition of the case; but should it be realized, it will grow to a harvest of disaffection.

You are now, to be sure, taking the previous necessary measures for your return here in the autumn and I think you may disband your whole family, excepting your secretary, your butler, who takes care of your plate, wine, etc., one or at most two, maid servants, and your valet de chambre and one footman, whom you will bring over with you. But give no mortal, either there or here, reason to think that you are not to return to Hamburg again. If you are asked about it, say, like Lockhart, that you are le serviteur des Evenemens; for your present appointments will do you no hurt here, till you have some better destination. At that season of the year, I believe it will be better for you to come by sea than by land, but that you will be best able to judge of from the then circumstances of your part in the world.

Your old friend Stevens is dead of the consumption that has long been undermining him. God bless you, and send you health.

[Another two year lapse in the letters.]

LETTER CCXLVII

MY DEAR FRIEND: I am very glad to hear that your election is finally settled, and to say the truth, not sorry that Mr. —— has been compelled to do, de mauvaise grace, that which he might have done at first in a friendly and handsome manner. However, take no notice of what is passed, and live with him as you used to do before; for, in the intercourse of the world, it is often necessary to seem ignorant of what one knows, and to have forgotten what one remembers.

I have just now finished Coleman’s play, and like it very well; it is well conducted, and the characters are well preserved. I own, I expected from the author more dialogue wit; but, as I know that he is a most scrupulous classic, I believe he did not dare to put in half so much wit as he could have done, because Terence had not a single grain; and it would have been crimen laesae antiquitatis. God bless you!

LETTER CCXLVIII

MY DEAR FRIEND: I have this moment received your letter of the 19th. If I find any alterations by drinking these waters, now six days, it is rather for the better; but, in six days more, I think I shall find with more certainty what humor they are in with me; if kind, I will profit of, but not abuse their kindness; all things have their bounds, quos ultra citrave nequit consistere rectum; and I will endeavor to nick that point.

The Queen’s jointure is larger than, from SOME REASONS, I expected it would be, though not greater than the very last precedent authorized. The case of the late Lord Wilmington was, I fancy, remembered.

I have now good reason to believe that Spain will declare war to us, that is, that it will very soon, if it has not already, avowedly assist France, in case the war continues. This will be a great triumph to Mr. Pitt, and fully justify his plan of beginning with Spain first, and having the first blow, which is often half the battle.

Here is a great deal of company, and what is commonly called good company, that is, great quality. I trouble them very little, except at the pump, where my business calls me; for what is company to a deaf man, or a deaf man to company?

Lady Brown, whom I have seen, and who, by the way, has got the gout in her eye, inquired very tenderly after you. And so I elegantly rest, Yours, till death.

LETTER CCXLIX

MY DEAR FRIEND: I have been in your debt some time, which, you know, I am not very apt to be: but it was really for want of specie to pay. The present state of my invention does not enable me to coin; and you would have had as little pleasure in reading, as I should have in writing le coglionerie of this place; besides, that I am very little mingled in them. I do not know whether I shall be able to follow, your advice, and cut a winner; for, at present, I have neither won nor lost a single shilling. I will play on this week only; and if I have a good run, I will carry it off with me; if a bad one, the loss can hardly amount to anything considerable in seven days, for I hope to see you in town tomorrow sevennight.

I had a dismal letter from Harte, last week; he tells me that he is at nurse with a sister in Berkshire; that he has got a confirmed jaundice, besides twenty other distempers. The true cause of these complaints I take to be the same that so greatly disordered, and had nearly destroyed the most august House of Austria, about one hundred and thirty years ago; I mean Gustavus Adolphus; who neither answered his expectations in point of profit nor reputation, and that merely by his own fault, in not writing it in the vulgar tongue; for as to facts I will maintain that it is one of the best histories extant.

Au revoir, as Sir Fopling says, and God bless you!

LETTER CCL

MY DEAR FRIEND: I arrived here, as I proposed, last Sunday; but as ill as I feared I should be when I saw you. Head, stomach, and limbs, all out of order.

I have yet seen nobody but Villettes, who is settled here for good, as it is called. What consequences has the Duke of Devonshire’s resignation had? He has considerable connections and relations; but whether any of them are resigned enough to resign with him, is another matter. There will be, to be sure, as many, and as absurd reports, as there are in the law books; I do not desire to know either; but inform me of what facts come to your knowledge, and of such reports only as you believe are grounded. And so God bless you!

LETTER CCLI

MY DEAR FRIEND: I have received your letter, and believe that your preliminaries are very near the mark; and, upon that supposition, I think we have made a tolerable good bargain with Spain; at least full as good as I expected, and almost as good as I wished, though I do not believe that we have got ALL Florida; but if we have St. Augustin, I suppose that, by the figure of pars pro toto, will be called all Florida. We have by no means made so good a bargain with France; for, in truth, what do we get by it, except Canada, with a very proper boundary of the river Mississippi! and that is all. As for the restrictions upon the French fishery in Newfoundland, they are very well per la predica, and for the Commissary whom we shall employ: for he will have a good salary from hence, to see that those restrictions are complied with; and the French will double that salary, that he may allow them all to be broken through. It is plain to me, that the French fishery will be exactly what it was before the war.

The three Leeward islands, which the French yield to us, are not, all together, worth half so much as that of St. Lucia, which we give up to them. Senegal is not worth one quarter of Goree. The restrictions of the French in the East Indies are as absurd and impracticable as those of Newfoundland; and you will live to see the French trade to the East Indies, just as they did before the war. But after all I have said, the articles are as good as I expected with France, when I considered that no one single person who carried on this negotiation on our parts was ever concerned or consulted in any negotiation before. Upon the whole, then, the acquisition of Canada has cost us fourscore millions sterling. I am convinced we might have kept Guadaloupe, if our negotiators had known how to have gone about it.

His most faithful Majesty of Portugal is the best off of anybody in this, transaction, for he saves his kingdom by it, and has not laid out one moidore in defense of it. Spain, thank God, in some measure, paye les pots cassis; for, besides St. Augustin, logwood, etc., it has lost at least four millions sterling, in money, ships, etc.

Harte is here, who tells me he has been at this place these three years, excepting some few excursions to his sister; he looks ill, and laments that he has frequent fits of the yellow jaundice. He complains of his not having heard from you these four years; you should write to him. These waters have done me a great deal of good, though I drink but two-thirds of a pint in the whole day, which is less than the soberest of my countrymen drink of claret at every meal.

I should naturally think, as you do, that this session will be a stormy one, that is, if Mr. Pitt takes an active part; but if he is pleased, as the Ministers say, there is no other AEolus to blow a storm. The Dukes of Cumberland, Newcastle, and Devonshire, have no better troops to attack with than the militia; but Pitt alone is ipse agmen. God bless you!

LETTER CCLII

MY DEAR FRIEND: I received your letter this morning, and return you the ball a la volee. The King’s speech is a very prudent one; and as I suppose that the addresses in answer to it were, as usual, in almost the same words, my Lord Mayor might very well call them innocent. As his Majesty expatiates so much upon the great ACHIEVEMENTS of the war, I cannot help hoping that, when the preliminaries shall be laid before Parliament IN DUE TIME, which, I suppose, means after the respective ratifications of all the contracting parties, that some untalked of and unexpected advantage will break out in our treaty with France; St. Lucia, at least. I see in the newspapers an article which I by no means like, in our treaty with Spain; which is, that we shall be at liberty to cut logwood in the Bay of Campeachy, BUT BY PAYING FOR IT. Who does not see that this condition may, and probably will, amount to a prohibition, by the price which the Spaniards may set it at? It was our undoubted right, and confirmed to us by former treaties, before the war, to cut logwood gratis; but this new stipulation (if true) gives us a privilege something like a reprieve to a criminal, with a non obstante to be hanged.

I now drink so little water, that it can neither do me good nor hurt; but as I bathe but twice a-week, that operation, which does my rheumatic carcass good, will keep me here some time longer than you had allowed.

Harte is going to publish a new edition of his “Gustavus,” in octavo; which, he tells me, he has altered, and which, I could tell him, he should translate into English, or it will not sell better than the former; for, while the world endures, style and manner will be regarded, at least as much as matter. And so, Diem vous aye dans sa sainte garde!

LETTER CCLIII

MY DEAR FRIEND: I received your letter this morning, with the inclosed preliminaries, which we have had here these three days; and I return them, since you intend to keep them, which is more than I believe the French will. I am very glad to find that the French are to restore all the conquests they made upon us in the East Indies during this war; and I cannot doubt but they will likewise restore to us all the cod that they shall take within less than three leagues of our coasts in North America (a distance easily measured, especially at sea), according to the spirit, though not the letter of the treaty. I am informed that the strong opposition to the peace will be in the House of Lords, though I cannot well conceive it; nor can I make out above six or seven, who will be against it upon a division, unless (which I cannot suppose) some of the Bishops should vote on the side of their maker. God bless you.

LETTER CCLIV

MY DEAR FRIEND: Yesterday I received your letter, which gave me a very clear account of the debate in your House. It is impossible for a human creature to speak well for three hours and a half; I question even if Belial, who, according to Milton, was the orator of the fallen angels, ever spoke so long at a time.

There must have been, a trick in Charles Townshend’s speaking for the Preliminaries; for he is infinitely above having an opinion. Lord Egremont must be ill, or have thoughts of going into some other place; perhaps into Lord Granville’s, who they say is dying: when he dies, the ablest head in England dies too, take it for all in all.

I shall be in town, barring accidents, this day sevennight, by dinnertime; when I have ordered a haricot, to which you will be very welcome, about four o’clock. En attendant Dieu vous aye dans sa sainte garde!

LETTER CCLV

MY DEAR FRIEND: I received, by the last mail, your letter of the 4th, from The Hague; so far so good.

You arrived sonica at The Hague, for our Ambassador’s entertainment; I find he has been very civil to you. You are in the right to stop for two or three days at Hanau, and make your court to the lady of that place. [Her Royal Highness Princess Mary of England, Landgravine of Hesse.] Your Excellency makes a figure already in the newspapers; and let them, and others, excellency you as much as they please, but pray suffer not your own servants to do it.

Nothing new of any kind has happened here since you went; so I will wish you a good-night, and hope God will bless you.

LETTER CCLVI

MY DEAR FRIEND: Yesterday I received your letter from Ratisbon, where I am glad that you are arrived safe. You are, I find, over head and ears engaged in ceremony and etiquette. You must not yield in anything essential, where your public character may suffer; but I advise you, at the same time, to distinguish carefully what may, and what may not affect it, and to despise some German minutiae; such as one step lower or higher upon the stairs, a bow more or less, and such sort of trifles.

By what I see in Cressener’s letter to you, the cheapness of wine compensates the quantity, as the cheapness of servants compensates the number that you must make use of.

Write to your mother often, if it be but three words, to prove your existence; for, when she does not hear from you, she knows to a demonstration that you are dead, if not buried.

The inclosed is a letter of the utmost consequence, which I was desired to forward, with care and speed, to the most Serene LOUIS.

My head is not well today. So God bless you!

LETTER CCLVII

MY DEAR FRIEND: I hope that by this time you are pretty well settled at Ratisbon, at least as to the important points of the ceremonial; so that you may know, to precision, to whom you must give, and from whom you must require the seine Excellentz. Those formalities are, no doubt, ridiculous enough in themselves; but yet they are necessary for manners, and sometimes for business; and both would suffer by laying them quite aside.

I have lately had an attack of a new complaint, which I have long suspected that I had in my body, in actu primo, as the pedants call it, but which I never felt in actu secundo till last week, and that is a fit of the stone or gravel. It was, thank God, but a slight one; but it was dans toutes les formes; for it was preceded by a pain in my loins, which I at first took for some remains of my rheumatism; but was soon convinced of my mistake, by making water much blacker than coffee, with a prodigious sediment of gravel. I am now perfectly easy again, and have no more indications of this complaint.

God keep you from that and deafness! Other complaints are the common, and almost the inevitable lot of human nature, but admit of some mitigation. God bless you!

LETTER CCLVIII

MY DEAR FRIEND: You will, by this post, hear from others that Lord Egremont died two days ago of an apoplexy; which, from his figure, and the constant plethora he lived in, was reasonably to be expected. You will ask me, who is to be Secretary in his room: To which I answer, that I do not know. I should guess Lord Sandwich, to be succeeded in the Admiralty by Charles Townshend; unless the Duke of Bedford, who seems to have taken to himself the department of Europe, should have a mind to it. This event may perhaps produce others; but, till this happened, everything was in a state of inaction, and absolutely nothing was done. Before the next session, this chaos must necessarily take some form, either by a new jumble of its own atoms, or by mixing them with the more efficient ones of the opposition.

I see by the newspapers, as well as by your letter, that the difficulties still exist about your ceremonial at Ratisbon; should they, from pride and folly, prove insuperable, and obstruct your real business, there is one expedient which may perhaps remove difficulties, and which I have often known practiced; but which I believe our people know here nothing of; it is, to have the character of MINISTER only in your ostensible title, and that of envoy extraordinary in your pocket, to produce occasionally, especially if you should be sent to any of the Electors in your neighborhood; or else, in any transactions that you may have, in which your title of envoy extraordinary may create great difficulties, to have a reversal given you, declaring that the temporary suspension of that character, ne donnera pas la moindre atteinte ni a vos droits, ni a vos pretensions. As for the rest, divert yourself as well as you can, and eat and drink as little as you can. And so God bless you!

LETTER CCLIX

MY DEAR FRIEND: Great news! The King sent for Mr. Pitt last Saturday, and the conference lasted a full hour; on the Monday following another conference, which lasted much longer; and yesterday a third, longer than either. You take for granted, that the treaty was concluded and ratified; no such matter, for this last conference broke it entirely off; and Mr. Pitt and Lord Temple went yesterday evening to their respective country houses. Would you know what it broke off upon, you must ask the newsmongers, and the coffee-houses; who, I dare say, know it all very minutely; but I, who am not apt to know anything that I do not know, honestly and humbly confess, that I cannot tell you; probably one party asked too much, and the other would grant too little. However, the King’s dignity was not, in my mind, much consulted by their making him sole plenipotentiary of a treaty, which they were not in all events determined to conclude. It ought surely to have been begun by some inferior agent, and his Majesty should only have appeared in rejecting or ratifying it. Louis XIV. never sat down before a town in person, that was not sure to be taken.

However, ce qui est differe n’est pas perdu; for this matter must be taken up again, and concluded before the meeting of the parliament, and probably upon more disadvantageous terms to the present Ministers, who have tacitly admitted, by this negotiation, what their enemies have loudly proclaimed, that they are not able to carry on affairs. So much de re politica.

I have at last done the best office that can be done to most married people; that is, I have fixed the separation between my brother and his wife; and the definitive treaty of peace will be proclaimed in about a fortnight; for the only solid and lasting peace, between a man and his wife, is, doubtless, a separation. God bless you!

LETTER CCLX

MY DEAR FRIEND: You will have known, long before this, from the office, that the departments are not cast as you wished; for Lord Halifax, as senior, had of course his choice, and chose the southern, upon account of the colonies. The Ministry, such as it is, is now settled en attendant mieux; but, in, my opinion cannot, as they are, meet the parliament.

The only, and all the efficient people they have, are in the House of Lords: for since Mr. Pitt has firmly engaged Charles Townshend to him, there is not a man of the court side, in the House of Commons, who has either abilities or words enough to call a coach. Lord B—— is certainly playing un dessous de cartes, and I suspect that it is with Mr. Pitt; but what that dessous is, I do not know, though all the coffeehouses do most exactly.

The present inaction, I believe, gives you leisure enough for ennui, but it gives you time enough too for better things; I mean reading useful books; and, what is still more useful, conversing with yourself some part of every day. Lord Shaftesbury recommends self-conversation to all authors; and I would recommend it to all men; they would be the better for it. Some people have not time, and fewer have inclination, to enter into that conversation; nay, very many dread it, and fly to the most trifling dissipations, in order to avoid it; but, if a man would allot half an hour every night for this self-conversation, and recapitulate with himself whatever he has done, right or wrong, in the course of the day, he would be both the better and the wiser for it. My deafness gives me more than a sufficient time for self-conversation; and I have found great advantages from it. My brother and Lady Stanhope are at last finally parted. I was the negotiator between them; and had so much trouble in it, that I would much rather negotiate the most difficult point of the jus publicum Sacri Romani Imperii with the whole Diet of Ratisbon, than negotiate any point with any woman. If my brother had had some of those self-conversations, which I recommend, he would not, I believe, at past sixty, with a crazy, battered constitution, and deaf into the bargain, have married a young girl, just turned of twenty, full of health, and consequently of desires. But who takes warning by the fate of others? This, perhaps, proceeds from a negligence of selfconversation. God bless you.

LETTER CCLXI

MY DEAR FRIEND: The last mail brought me your letter of the 2d instant, as the former had brought me that of the 25th past. I did suppose that you would be sent over, for the first day of the session; as I never knew a stricter muster, and no furloughs allowed. I am very sorry for it, for the reasons you hint at; but, however, you did very prudently, in doing, de bonne grace, what you could not help doing; and let that be your rule in every thing for the rest of your life. Avoid disagreeable things as much as by dexterity you can; but when they are unavoidable, do them with seeming willingness and alacrity. Though this journey is ill-timed for you in many respects, yet, in point of FINANCES, you will be a gainer by it upon the whole; for, depend upon it, they will keep you here till the very last day of the session: and I suppose you have sold your horses, and dismissed some of your servants. Though they seem to apprehend the first day of the session so much, in my opinion their danger will be much greater in the course of it.

When you are at Paris, you will of course wait upon Lord Hertford, and desire him to present you to the King; at the same time make my compliments to him, and thank him for the very obliging message he left at my house in town; and tell him, that, had I received it in time from thence, I would have come to town on purpose to have returned it in person. If there are any new little books at Paris, pray bring them me. I have already Voltaire’s Zelis dans le Bain, his Droit du Seigneur, and Olympie. Do not forget to call once at Madame Monconseil’s, and as often as you please at Madame du Pin’s. Au revoir.

LETTER CCLXII

MY DEAR FRIEND: I arrived here, as you suppose in your letter, last Sunday; but after the worst day’s journey I ever had in my life: it snowed and froze that whole morning, and in the evening it rained and thawed, which made the roads so slippery, that I was six hours coming post from the Devizes, which is but eighteen miles from hence; so that, but for the name of coming post, I might as well have walked on foot. I have not yet quite got over my last violent attack, and am weak and flimsy.

I have now drank the waters but three days; so that, without a miracle, I cannot yet expect much alteration, and I do not in the least expect a miracle. If they proved les eaux de Jouvence to me, that would be a miracle indeed; but, as the late Pope Lambertini said, Fra noi, gli miracoli sono passati girt un pezzo.

I have seen Harte, who inquired much after you: he is dejected and dispirited, and thinks himself much worse than he is, though he has really a tendency to the jaundice. I have yet seen nobody else, nor do I know who here is to be seen; for I have not yet exhibited myself to public view, except at the pump, which, at the time I go to it, is the most private place in Bath.

After all the fears and hopes, occasioned severally by the meeting of the parliament, in my opinion, it will prove a very easy session. Mr. Wilkes is universally given up; and if the ministers themselves do not wantonly raise difficulties, I think they will meet with none. A majority of two hundred is a great anodyne. Adieu! God bless you!

LETTER CCLXIII

MY DEAR FRIEND: Last post brought me your letter of the 29th past. I suppose C—— T—— let off his speech upon the Princess’s portion, chiefly to show that he was of the opposition; for otherwise, the point was not debatable, unless as to the quantum, against which something might be said; for the late Princess of Orange (who was the eldest daughter of a king) had no more, and her two sisters but half, if I am not mistaken.

It is a great mercy that Mr. Wilkes, the intrepid defender of our rights and liberties, is out of danger, and may live to fight and write again in support of them; and it is no less a mercy, that God hath raised up the Earl of S——— to vindicate and promote true religion and morality. These two blessings will justly make an epoch in the annals of this country.

I have delivered your message to Harte, who waits with impatience for your letter. He is very happy now in having free access to all Lord Craven’s papers, which, he says, give him great lights into the bellum tricenale; the old Lord Craven having been the professed and valorous knight-errant, and perhaps something more, to the Queen of Bohemia; at least, like Sir Peter Pride, he had the honor of spending great part of his estate in her royal cause:

I am by no means right yet; I am very weak and flimsy still; but the doctor assures me that strength and spirits will return; if they do, lucro apponam, I will make the best of them; if they do not, I will not make their want still worse by grieving and regretting them. I have lived long enough, and observed enough, to estimate most things at their intrinsic, and not their imaginary value; and, at seventy, I find nothing much worth either desiring or fearing. But these reflections, which suit with seventy, would be greatly premature at two-and-thirty. So make the best of your time; enjoy the present hour, but memor ultimae. God bless you!

LETTER CCLXIV

MY DEAR FRIEND: I received your letter this morning, in which you reproach me with not having written to you this week. The reason was, that I did not know what to write. There is that sameness in my life here, that EVERY DAY IS STILL BUT AS THE FIRST. I see very few people; and, in the literal sense of the word, I hear nothing.

Mr. L——— and Mr. C—— I hold to be two very ingenious men; and your image of the two men ruined, one by losing his law-suit, and the other by carrying it, is a very just one. To be sure, they felt in themselves uncommon talents for business and speaking, which were to reimburse them.

Harte has a great poetical work to publish, before it be long; he has shown me some parts of it. He had entitled it “Emblems,” but I persuaded him to alter that name for two reasons; the first was, because they were not emblems, but fables; the second was, that if they had been emblems, Quarles had degraded and vilified that name to such a degree, that it is impossible to make use of it after him; so they are to be called fables, though moral tales would, in my mind, be the properest name. If you ask me what I think of those I have seen, I must say, that sunt plura bona, quaedam mediocria, et quaedam ——

Your report of future changes, I cannot think is wholly groundless; for it still runs strongly in my head, that the mine we talked of will be sprung, at or before the end of the session.

I have got a little more strength, but not quite the strength of Hercules; so that I will not undertake, like him, fifty deflorations in one night; for I really believe that I could not compass them. So good-night, and God bless you!

LETTER CCLXV

DEAR FRIEND: I confess I was a good deal surprised at your pressing me so strongly to influence Parson Rosenhagen, when you well know the resolution I had made several years ago, and which I have scrupulously observed ever since, not to concern myself, directly or indirectly, in any party political contest whatsoever. Let parties go to loggerheads as much and as long as they please; I will neither endeavor to part them, nor take the part of either; for I know them all too well. But you say, that Lord Sandwich has been remarkably civil, and kind to you. I am very glad of it, and he can by no means impute to you my obstinacy, folly, or philosophy, call it what you please: you may with great truth assure him, that you did all you could to obey his commands.

I am sorry to find that you are out of order, but I hope it is only a cold; should it be anything more, pray consult Dr. Maty, who did you so much good in your last illness, when the great medicinal Mattadores did you rather harm. I have found a Monsieur Diafoirus here, Dr. Moisy, who has really done me a great deal of good; and I am sure I wanted it a great deal when I came here first. I have recovered some strength, and a little more will give me as much as I can make use of.

Lady Brown, whom I saw yesterday, makes you many compliments; and I wish you a merry Christmas, and a good-night. Adieu!

LETTER CCLXVI

MY DEAR FRIEND: Gravenkop wrote me word, by the last post, that you were laid up with the gout: but I much question it, that is, whether it is the gout or not. Your last illness, before you went abroad, was pronounced the gout, by the skillful, and proved at last a mere rheumatism. Take care that the same mistake is not made this year; and that by giving you strong and hot medicines to throw out the gout, they do not inflame the rheumatism, if it be one.

Mr. Wilkes has imitated some of the great men of antiquity, by going into voluntary exile: it was his only way of defeating both his creditors and his prosecutors. Whatever his friends, if he has any, give out of his returning soon, I will answer for it, that it will be a long time before that soon comes.

I have been much out of order these four days of a violent cold which I do not know how I got, and which obliged me to suspend drinking the waters: but it is now so much better, that I propose resuming them for this week, and paying my court to you in town on Monday or Tuesday seven-night: but this is sub spe rati only. God bless you!

LETTER CCLXVII

MY DEAR FRIEND: I have this moment received your letter of the 3d from Prague, but I never received that which you mention from Ratisbon; this made me think you in such rapid motion, that I did not know where to take aim. I now suppose that you are arrived, though not yet settled, at Dresden; your audiences and formalities are, to be sure, over, and that is great ease of mind to you.

I have no political events to acquaint you with; the summer is not the season for them, they ripen only in winter; great ones are expected immediately before the meeting of parliament, but that, you know, is always the language of fears and hopes. However, I rather believe that there will be something patched up between the INS and the OUTS.

The whole subject of conversation, at present, is the death and will of Lord Bath: he has left above twelve hundred thousand pounds in land and money; four hundred thousand pounds in cash, stocks, and mortgages; his own estate, in land, was improved to fifteen thousand pounds a-year, and the Bradford estate, which he —— is as much; both which, at only five-and twenty years’ purchase, amount to eight hundred thousand pounds; and all this he has left to his brother, General Pulteney, and in his own disposal, though he never loved him. The legacies he has left are trifling; for, in truth, he cared for nobody: the words GIVE and BEQUEATH were too shocking for him to repeat, and so he left all in one word to his brother. The public, which was long the dupe of his simulation and dissimulation, begins to explain upon him; and draws such a picture of him as I gave you long ago.

Your late secretary has been with me three or four times; he wants something or another, and it seems all one to him what, whether civil or military; in plain English, he wants bread. He has knocked at the doors of some of the ministers, but to no purpose. I wish with all my heart that I could help him: I told him fairly that I could not, but advised him to find some channel to Lord B— — which, though a Scotchman, he told me he could not. He brought a packet of letters from the office to you, which I made him seal up; and keep it for you, as I suppose it makes up the series of your Ratisbon letters.

As for me, I am just what I was when you left me, that is, nobody. Old age steals upon me insensibly. I grow weak and decrepit, but do not suffer, and so I am content.

Forbes brought me four books of yours, two of which were Bielefeldt’s “Letters,” in which, to my knowledge, there are many notorious lies.

Make my compliments to Comte Einsiedel, whom I love and honor much; and so good-night to seine Excellentz.

Now our correspondence may be more regular, and I expect a letter from you every fortnight. I will be regular on my part: but write oftener to your mother, if it be but three lines.

LETTER CCLXVIII

MY DEAR FRIEND: I received, two days ago, your letter of the 11th from Dresden, where I am very glad that, you are safely arrived at last. The prices of the necessaries of life are monstrous there; and I do not conceive how the poor natives subsist at all, after having been so long and so often plundered by their own as well as by other sovereigns.

As for procuring you either the title or the appointments of Plenipotentiary, I could as soon procure them from the Turkish as from the English Ministry; and, in truth, I believe they have it not to give.

Now to come to your civil list, if one may compare small things with great: I think I have found out a better refreshment for it than you propose; for tomorrow I shall send to your cashier, Mr. Larpent, five hundred pounds at once, for your use, which, I presume, is better than by quarterly payments; and I am very apt to think that next midsummer day, he will have the same sum, and for the same use, consigned to him.

It is reported here, and I believe not without some foundation, that the queen of Hungary has acceded to the Family Compact between France and Spain: if so, I am sure it behooves us to form in time a counter alliance, of at least equal strength; which I could easily point out, but which, I fear, is not thought of here.

The rage of marrying is very prevalent; so that there will be probably a great crop of cuckolds next winter, who are at present only cocus en herbs. It will contribute to population, and so far must be allowed to be a public benefit. Lord G—— — Mr. B—— — and Mr. D—— — are, in this respect, very meritorious; for they have all married handsome women, without one shilling fortune. Lord must indeed take some pains to arrive at that dignity: but I dare say he will bring it about, by the help of some young Scotch or Irish officer. Good-night, and God bless you!

LETTER CCLXIX

DEAR FRIEND: I have received your letter of the 13th past. I see that your complete arrangement approaches, and you need not be in a hurry to give entertainments, since so few others do.

Comte Flemming is the man in the world the best calculated to retrieve the Saxon finances, which have been all this century squandered and lavished with the most absurd profusion: he has certainly abilities, and I believe integrity; I dare answer for him, that the gentleness and flexibility of his temper will not prevail with him to yield to the importunities of craving and petulant applications. I see in him another Sully; and therefore I wish he were at the head of our finances.

France and Spain both insult us, and we take it too tamely; for this is, in my opinion, the time for us to talk high to them. France, I am persuaded, will not quarrel with us till it has got a navy at least equal to ours, which cannot be these three or four years at soonest; and then, indeed, I believe we shall hear of something or other; therefore, this is the moment for us to speak loud; and we shall be feared, if we do not show that we fear.

Here is no domestic news of changes and chances in the political world; which, like oysters, are only in season in the R months, when the parliament sits. I think there will be some then, but of what kind, God knows.

I have received a book for you, and one for myself, from Harte. It is upon agriculture, and will surprise you, as I confess it did me. This work is not only in English, but good and elegant English; he has even scattered graces upon his subject; and in prose, has come very near Virgil’s “Georgics” in verse. I have written to him, to congratulate his happy transformation. As soon as I can find an opportunity, I will send you your copy. You (though no Agricola) will read it with pleasure.

I know Mackenzie, whom you mention. C’est une delie; sed cave.

Make mine and Lady Chesterfield’s compliments to Comte et Comtesse Flemming; and so, Dieu vous aye en sa sainte garde!

LETTER CCLXX

MY DEAR FRIEND: Yesterday I received your letter of the 30th past, by which I find that you had not then got mine, which I sent you the day after I had received your former; you have had no great loss of it; for, as I told you in my last, this inactive season of the year supplies no materials for a letter; the winter may, and probably will, produce an abundant crop, but of what grain I neither know, guess, nor care. I take it for granted, that Lord B——— surnagera encore, but by the assistance of what bladders or cork-waistcoats God only knows. The death of poor Mr. Legge, the epileptic fits of the Duke of Devonshire, for which he is gone to Aix-la-Chapelle, and the advanced age of the Duke of Newcastle, seem to facilitate an accommodation, if Mr. Pitt and Lord Bute are inclined to it.

You ask me what I think of the death of poor Iwan, and of the person who ordered it. You may remember that I often said, she would murder or marry him, or probably both; she has chosen the safest alternative; and has now completed her character of femme forte, above scruples and hesitation. If Machiavel were alive, she would probably be his heroine, as Caesar Borgia was his hero. Women are all so far Machiavelians, that they are never either good or bad by halves; their passions are too strong, and their reason too weak, to do anything with moderation. She will, perhaps, meet, before it is long, with some Scythian as free from prejudices as herself. If there is one Oliver Cromwell in the three regiments of guards, he will probably, for the sake of his dear country, depose and murder her; for that is one and the same thing in Russia.

You seem now to have settled, and bien nippe at Dresden. Four sedentary footmen, and one running one, font equipage leste. The German ones will give you, seine Excellentz; and the French ones, if you have any, Monseigneur.

My own health varies, as usual, but never deviates into good. God bless you, and send you better!

LETTER CCLXXI

MY DEAR FRIEND: I have now your last letter, of the 16th past, lying before me, and I gave your inclosed to Grevenkop, which has put him into a violent bustle to execute your commissions, as well and as cheap as possible. I refer him to his own letter. He tells you true as to Comtesse Cosel’s diamonds, which certainly nobody will buy here, unsight unseen, as they call it; so many minutiae concurring to increase or lessen the value of a diamond. Your Cheshire cheese, your Burton ale and beer, I charge myself with, and they shall be sent you as soon as possible. Upon this occasion I will give you a piece of advice, which by experience I know to be useful. In all commissions, whether from men or women, point de galanterie, bring them in your account, and be paid to the uttermost farthing; but if you would show them une galanterie, let your present be of something that is not in your commission, otherwise you will be the Commissionaire banal of all the women of Saxony. A propos, Who is your Comtesse de Cosel? Is she daughter, or grand-daughter, of the famous Madame de Cosel, in King Augustus’s time? Is she young or old, ugly or handsome?

I do not wonder that people are wonderfully surprised at our tameness and forbearance, with regard to France and Spain. Spain, indeed, has lately agreed to our cutting log wood, according to the treaty, and sent strict orders to their governor to allow it; but you will observe too, that there is not one word of reparation for the losses we lately sustained there. But France is not even so tractable; it will pay but half the money due, upon a liquidated account, for the maintenance of their prisoners. Our request, to have the Comte d’Estaing recalled and censured, they have absolutely rejected, though, by the laws of war, he might be hanged for having twice broke his parole. This does not do France honor: however, I think we shall be quiet, and that at the only time, perhaps this century, when we might, with safety, be otherwise: but this is nothing new, nor the first time, by many, when national honor and interest have been sacrificed to private. It has always been so: and one may say, upon this occasion, what Horace says upon another, Nam fuit ante Helenam.

I have seen les Contes de Guillaume Vade, and like most of them so little, that I can hardly think them Voltaire’s, but rather the scraps that have fallen from his table, and been worked up by inferior workmen, under his name. I have not seen the other book you mention, the Dictionnaire Portatif. It is not yet come over.

I shall next week go to take my winter quarters in London, the weather here being very cold and damp, and not proper for an old, shattered, and cold carcass, like mine. In November I will go to the Bath, to careen myself for the winter, and to shift the scene. Good-night.

LETTER CCLXXII

MY DEAR FRIEND: Yesterday morning Mr. —— came to me, from Lord Halifax, to ask me whether I thought you would approve of vacating your seat in parliament, during the remainder of it, upon a valuable consideration, meaning MONEY. My answer was, that I really did not know your disposition upon that subject: but that I knew you would be very willing, in general, to accommodate them, so far as lay in your power: that your election, to my knowledge, had cost you two thousand pounds; that this parliament had not sat above half its time; and that, for my part, I approved of the measure well enough, provided you had an equitable equivalent. I take it for granted that you will have a letter from —— — by this post, to that effect, so that you must consider what you will do. What I advise is this: Give them a good deal of Galbanum in the first part of your letter. Le Galbanum ne coute rien; and then say that you are willing to do as they please; but that you hope an equitable consideration will be had to the two thousand pounds, which your seat cost you in the present parliament, of which not above half the term is expired. Moreover, that you take the liberty to remind them, that your being sent from Ratisbon, last session, when you were just settled there, put you to the expense of three or four hundred pounds, for which you were allowed nothing; and that, therefore, you hope they will not think one thousand pounds too much, considering all these circumstances: but that, in all events, you will do whatever they desire. Upon the whole, I think this proposal advantageous to you, as you probably will not make use of your seat this parliament; and, further, as it will secure you from another unpaid journey from Dresden, in case they meet, or fear to meet, with difficulties in any ensuing session of the present parliament. Whatever one must do, one should do de bonne grace. Dixi. God bless you!

LETTER CCLXXIII

MY DEAR FRIEND: I am much concerned at the account you gave me of yourself, in your last letter. There is, to be sure, at such a town as Dresden, at least some one very skillful physician, whom I hope you have consulted; and I would have you acquaint him with all your several attacks of this nature, from your great one at Laubach, to your late one at Dresden: tell him, too, that in your last illness in England, the physicians mistook your case, and treated it as the gout, till Maty came, who treated it as a rheumatism, and cured you. In my own opinion, you have never had the gout, but always the rheumatism; which, to my knowledge, is as painful as the gout can possibly be, and should be treated in a quite different way; that is, by cooling medicines and regimen, instead of those inflammatory cordials which they always administer where they suppose the gout, to keep it, as they say, out of the stomach.

I have been here now just a week; but have hitherto drank so little of the water, that I can neither speak well nor ill of it. The number of people in this place is infinite; but very few whom I know. Harte seems settled here for life. He is not well, that is certain; but not so ill neither as he thinks himself, or at least would be thought.

I long for your answer to my last letter, containing a certain proposal, which, by this time, I suppose has been made you, and which, in the main, I approve of your accepting.

God bless you, my dear friend! and send you better health! Adieu.

LETTER CCLXXIV

MY DEAR FRIEND: Your last letter, of the 5th, gave me as much pleasure as your former had given me uneasiness; and Larpent’s acknowledgment of his negligence frees you from those suspicions, which I own I did entertain, and which I believe every one would, in the same concurrence of circumstances, have entertained. So much for that.

You may depend upon what I promised you, before midsummer next, at farthest, and AT LEAST.

All I can say of the affair between you, of the Corps Diplomatique, and the Saxon Ministers, is, que voila bien du bruit pour une omelette au lard. It will most certainly be soon made up; and in that negotiation show yourself as moderate and healing as your instructions from hence will allow, especially to Comte de Flemming. The King of Prussia, I believe, has a mind to insult him personally, as an old enemy, or else to quarrel with Saxony, that dares not quarrel with him; but some of the Corps Diplomatique here assure me it is only a pretense to recall his envoy, and to send, when matters shall be made up, a little secretary there, a moins de fraix, as he does now to Paris and London.

Comte Bruhl is much in fashion here; I like him mightily; he has very much le ton de la bonne campagnie. Poor Schrader died last Saturday, without the least pain or sickness. God bless you!

LETTER CCLXXV

MY DEAR FRIEND: The day before yesterday I received your letter of the 3d instant. I find that your important affair of the ceremonial is adjusted at last, as I foresaw it would be. Such minutiae are often laid hold on as a pretense, for powers who have a mind to quarrel; but are never tenaciously insisted upon where there is neither interest nor inclination to break. Comte Flemming, though a hot, is a wise man; and I was sure would not break, both with England and Hanover, upon so trifling a point, especially during a minority. A propos of a minority; the King is to come to the House tomorrow, to recommend a bill to settle a Regency, in case of his demise while his successor is a minor. Upon the King’s late illness, which was no trifling one, the whole nation cried out aloud for such a bill, for reasons which will readily occur to you, who know situations, persons, and characters here. I do not know the particulars of this intended bill; but I wish it may be copied exactly from that which was passed in the late King’s time, when the present King was a minor. I am sure there cannot be a better.

You inquire about Monsieur de Guerchy’s affair; and I will give you as succinct an account as I can of so extraordinary and perplexed a transaction: but without giving you my own opinion of it by the common post. You know what passed at first between Mr. de Guerchy and Monsieur d’Eon, in which both our Ministers and Monsieur de Guerchy, from utter inexperience in business, puzzled themselves into disagreeable difficulties. About three or four months ago, Monsieur du Vergy published in a brochure, a parcel of letters, from himself to the Duc de Choiseul; in which he positively asserts that Monsieur de Guerchy prevailed with him (Vergy) to come over into England to assassinate d’Eon; the words are, as well as I remember, que ce n’etoit pas pour se servir de sa plume, mais de son epee, qu’on le demandoit en Angleterre. This accusation of assassination, you may imagine, shocked Monsieur de Guerchy, who complained bitterly to our Ministers; and they both puzzled on for some time, without doing anything, because they did not know what to do. At last du Vergy, about two months ago, applied himself to the Grand Jury of Middlesex, and made oath that Mr. de Guerchy had hired him (du Vergy) to assassinate d’Eon. Upon this deposition, the Grand jury found a bill of intended murder against Monsieur de Guerchy; which bill, however, never came to the Petty Jury. The King granted a noli prosequi in favor of Monsieur de Guerchy; and the Attorney–General is actually prosecuting du Vergy. Whether the King can grant a noli prosequi in a criminal case, and whether le droit des gens extends to criminal cases, are two points which employ our domestic politicians, and the whole Corps Diplomatique. Enfin, to use a very coarse and vulgar saying, il y a de la merde au bout du baton, quelque part.

I see and hear these storms from shore, suave mari magno, etc. I enjoy my own security and tranquillity, together with better health than I had reason to expect at my age, and with my constitution: however, I feel a gradual decay, though a gentle one; and I think that I shall not tumble, but slide gently to the bottom of the hill of life. When that will be, I neither know nor care, for I am very weary. God bless you!

Mallet died two days ago, of a diarrhoea, which he had carried with him to France, and brought back again hither.

LETTER CCLXXVI

MY DEAR FRIEND: I have this moment received your letter of the 22d past; and I delayed answering your former in daily, or rather hourly expectation of informing you of the birth of a new Ministry; but in vain; for, after a thousand conferences, all things remain still in the state which I described to you in my last. Lord S. has, I believe, given you a pretty true account of the present state of things; but my Lord is much mistaken, I am persuaded, when he says that THE KING HAS THOUGHT PROPER TO RE-ESTABLISH HIS OLD SERVANTS IN THE MANAGEMENT OF HIS AFFAIRS; for he shows them all the public dislike possible; and, at his levee, hardly speaks to any of them; but speaks by the hour to anybody else. Conferences, in the meantime, go on, of which it is easy to guess the main subject, but impossible, for me at least, to know the particulars; but this I will venture to prophesy, that the whole will soon centre in Mr. Pitt.

You seem not to know the character of the Queen: here it is. She is a good woman, a good wife, a tender mother; and an unmeddling Queen. The King loves her as a woman; but, I verily believe, has never yet spoke one word to her about business. I have now told you all that I know of these affairs; which, I believe, is as much as anybody else knows, who is not in the secret. In the meantime, you easily guess that surmises, conjectures, and reports are infinite; and if, as they say, truth is but one, one million at least of these reports must be false; for they differ exceedingly.

You have lost an honest servant by the death of poor Louis; I would advise you to take a clever young Saxon in his room, of whose character you may get authentic testimonies, instead of sending for one to France, whose character you can only know from far.

When I hear more, I will write more; till when, God bless you!

LETTER CCLXXVII

MY DEAR FRIEND: I told you in my last, that you should hear from me again, as soon as I had anything more to write; and now I have too much to write, therefore will refer you to the “Gazette,” and the office letters, for all that has been done; and advise you to suspend your opinion, as I do, about all that is to be done. Many more changes are talked of, but so idly, and variously, that I give credit to none of them. There has been pretty clean sweeping already; and I do not remember, in my time, to have seen so much at once, as an entire new Board of Treasury, and two new Secretaries of State, cum multis aliis, etc.

Here is a new political arch almost built, but of materials of so different a nature, and without a key-stone, that it does not, in my opinion, indicate either strength or duration. It will certainly require repairs, and a key-stone next winter; and that key-stone will, and must necessarily be, Mr. Pitt. It is true he might have been that keystone now; and would have accepted it, but not without Lord Temple’s consent, and Lord Temple positively refused. There was evidently some trick in this, but what is past my conjecturing. Davus sum, non OEdipus.

There is a manifest interregnum in the Treasury; for I do suppose that Lord Rockingham and Mr. Dowdeswell will not think proper to be very active. General Conway, who is your Secretary, has certainly parts at least equal to his business, to which, I dare say, he will apply. The same may be said, I believe, of the Duke of Grafton; and indeed there is no magic requisite for the executive part of those employments. The ministerial part is another thing; they must scramble with their fellow-servants, for power and favor, as well as they can. Foreign affairs are not so much as mentioned, and, I verily believe, not thought of. But surely some counterbalance would be necessary to the Family compact; and, if not soon contracted, will be too late. God bless you!

LETTER CCLXXVIII

MY DEAR FRIEND: You are now two letters in my debt; and I fear the gout has been the cause of your contracting that debt. When you are not able to write yourself, let your Secretary send me two or three lines to acquaint me how you are.

You have now seen by the London “Gazette,” what changes have really been made at court; but, at the same time, I believe you have seen that there must be more, before a Ministry can be settled; what those will be, God knows. Were I to conjecture, I should say that the whole will centre, before it is long, in Mr. Pitt and Co., the present being an heterogeneous jumble of youth and caducity, which cannot be efficient.

Charles Townshend calls the present a Lutestring Ministry; fit only for the summer. The next session will be not only a warm, but a violent one, as you will easily judge; if you look over the names of the INS and of the OUTS.

I feel this beginning of the autumn, which is already very cold: the leaves are withered, fall apace, and seem to intimate that I must follow them; which I shall do without reluctance, being extremely weary of this silly world. God bless you, both in it and after it!

LETTER CCLXXIX

MY DEAR FRIEND: I received but four days ago your letter of the 2d instant. I find by it that you are well, for you are in good spirits. Your notion of the new birth or regeneration of the Ministry is a very just one; and that they have not yet the true seal of the covenant is, I dare say, very true; at least it is not in the possession of either of the Secretaries of State, who have only the King’s seal; nor do I believe (whatever his Grace may imagine) that it is even in the possession of the Lord Privy Seal. I own I am lost, in considering the present situation of affairs; different conjectures present themselves to my mind, but none that it can rest upon. The next session must necessarily clear up matters a good deal; for I believe it will be the warmest and most acrimonious one that has been known, since that of the Excise. The late Ministry, THE PRESENT OPPOSITION, are determined to attack Lord B—— publicly in parliament, and reduce the late Opposition, THE PRESENT MINISTRY, to protect him publicly, in consequence of their supposed treaty with him. En attendant mieux, the paper war is carried on with much fury and scurrility on all sides, to the great entertainment of such lazy and impartial people as myself: I do not know whether you have the “Daily Advertiser,” and the “Public Advertiser,” in which all political letters are inserted, and some very well-written ones on both sides; but I know that they amuse me, tant bien que mal, for an hour or two every morning. Lord T——— is the supposed author of the pamphlet you mention; but I think it is above him. Perhaps his brother C—— T—— — who is by no means satisfied with the present arrangement, may have assisted him privately. As to this latter, there was a good ridiculous paragraph in the newspapers two or three days ago. WE HEAR THAT THE RIGHT HONORABLE MR. C—— T——— IS INDISPOSED AT HIS HOUSE IN OXFORDSHIRE, OF A PAIN IN HIS SIDE; BUT IT IS NOT SAID IN WHICH SIDE.

I do not find that the Duke of York has yet visited you; if he should, it may be expensive, mais on trouvera moyen. As for the lady, if you should be very sharp set for some English flesh, she has it amply in her power to supply you if she pleases. Pray tell me in your next, what you think of, and how you like, Prince Henry of Prussia. God bless you!

LETTER CCLXXX

MY DEAR FRIEND: Your great character of Prince Henry, which I take to be a very just one, lowers the King of Prussia’s a great deal; and probably that is the cause of their being so ill together. But the King of Prussia, with his good parts, should reflect upon that trite and true maxim, Qui invidet minor, or Mr. de la Rouchefoucault’s, Que l’envie est la plus basse de toutes les passions, puisqu’on avoue bien des crimes, mais que personae n’avoue l’envie. I thank God, I never was sensible of that dark and vile passion, except that formerly I have sometimes envied a successful rival with a fine woman. But now that cause is ceased, and consequently the effects.

What shall I, or rather what can I tell you of the political world here? The late Ministers accuse the present with having done nothing, the present accuse the late ones with having done much worse than nothing. Their writers abuse one another most scurrilously, but sometimes with wit. I look upon this to be peloter en attendant partie, till battle begins in St., Stephen’s Chapel. How that will end, I protest I cannot conjecture; any farther than this, that if Mr. Pitt does not come into the assistance of the present ministers, they will have much to do to stand their ground. C—— T——— will play booty; and who else have they? Nobody but C— — who has only good sense, but not the necessary talents nor experience, AEre ciere viros martemque accendere cantu. I never remember, in all my time, to have seen so problematical a state of affairs, and a man would be much puzzled which side to bet on.

Your guest, Miss C— — is another problem which I cannot solve. She no more wanted the waters of Carlsbadt than you did. Is it to show the Duke of Kingston that he cannot live without her? a dangerous experiment! which may possibly convince him that he can. There is a trick no doubt in it; but what, I neither know nor care; you did very well to show her civilities, cela ne gute jamais rien. I will go to my waters, that is, the Bath waters, in three weeks or a month, more for the sake of bathing than of drinking. The hot bath always promotes my perspiration, which is sluggish, and supples my stiff rheumatic limbs. D’ailleurs, I am at present as well, and better than I could reasonably expect to be, annu septuagesimo primo. May you be so as long, y mas! God bless you!

LETTER CCLXXXI

MY DEAR FRIEND: I received your letter of the 10th sonica; for I set out for Bath tomorrow morning.

If the use of those waters does me no good, the shifting the scene for some time will at least amuse me a little; and at my age, and with my infirmities, il faut faire de tout bois feche. Some variety is as necessary for the mind as some medicines are for the body.

Here is a total stagnation of politics, which, I suppose, will continue till the parliament sits to do business, and that will not be till about the middle of January; for the meeting on the 17th December is only for the sake of some new writs. The late ministers threaten the present ones; but the latter do not seem in the least afraid of the former, and for a very good reason, which is, that they have the distribution of the loaves and fishes. I believe it is very certain that Mr. Pitt will never come into this, or any other administration: he is absolutely a cripple all the year, and in violent pain at least half of it. Such physical ills are great checks to two of the strongest passions to which human nature is liable, love and ambition. Though I cannot persuade myself that the present ministry can be long lived, I can as little imagine who or what can succeed them, telle est la-disette de sujets papables. The Duke of swears that he will have Lord personally attacked in both Houses; but I do not see how, without endangering himself at the same time.

Miss C——— is safely arrived here, and her Duke is fonder of her than ever. It was a dangerous experiment that she tried, in leaving him so long; but it seems she knew her man.

I pity you for the inundation of your good countrymen, which overwhelms you; je sais ce qu’en vaut l’aune. It is, besides, expensive, but, as I look upon the expense to be the least evil of the two, I will see if a New–Year’s gift will not make it up.

As I am now upon the wing, I will only add, God bless you!

LETTER CCLXXXII

MY DEAR FRIEND: I have this moment received your letter of the 10th. I have now been here a month, bathing and drinking the waters, for complaints much of the same kind as yours, I mean pains in my legs, hips, and arms: whether gouty or rheumatic, God knows; but, I believe, both, that fight without a decision in favor of either, and have absolutely reduced me to the miserable situation of the Sphinx’s riddle, to walk upon three legs; that is, with the assistance of my stick, to walk, or rather hobble, very indifferently. I wish it were a declared gout, which is the distemper of a gentleman; whereas the rheumatism is the distemper of a hackney-coachman or chairman, who is obliged to be out in all weathers and at all hours.

I think you will do very right to ask leave, and I dare say you will easily get it, to go to the baths in Suabia; that is, supposing that you have consulted some skillful physician, if such a one there be, either at Dresden or at Leipsic, about the nature of your distemper, and the nature of those baths; but, suos quisque patimur manes. We have but a bad bargain, God knows, of this life, and patience is the only way not to make bad worse. Mr. Pitt keeps his bed here, with a very real gout, and not a political one, as is often suspected.

Here has been a congress of most of the ex Ministres. If they have raised a battery, as I suppose they have, it is a masked one, for nothing has transpired; only they confess that they intend a most vigorous attack. D’ailleurs, there seems to be a total suspension of all business, till the meeting of the parliament, and then Signa canant. I am very glad that at this time you are out of it: and for reasons that I need not mention: you would certainly have been sent for over, and, as before, not paid for your journey.

Poor Harte is very ill, and condemned to the Hot well at Bristol. He is a better poet than philosopher: for all this illness and melancholy proceeds originally from the ill success of his “Gustavus Adolphus.” He is grown extremely devout, which I am very glad of, because that is always a comfort to the afflicted.

I cannot present Mr. Larpent with my New–Year’s gift, till I come to town, which will be before Christmas at farthest; till when, God bless you! Adieu.

LETTER CCLXXXIII

MY DEAR FRIEND: I arrived here from Bath last Monday, rather, but not much better, than when I went over there. My rheumatic pains, in my legs and hips, plague me still, and I must never expect to be quite free from them.

You have, to be sure, had from the office an account of what the parliament did, or rather did not do, the day of their meeting; and the same point will be the great object at their next meeting; I mean the affair of our American Colonies, relatively to the late imposed Stamp-duty, which our Colonists absolutely refuse to pay. The Administration are for some indulgence and forbearance to those froward children of their mother country; the Opposition are for taking vigorous, as they call them, but I call them violent measures; not less than les dragonnades; and to have the tax collected by the troops we have there. For my part, I never saw a froward child mended by whipping; and I would not have the mother country become a stepmother. Our trade to America brings in, communibus annis, two millions a year; and the Stamp-duty is estimated at but one hundred thousand pounds a year; which I would by no means bring into the stock of the Exchequer, at the loss or even the risk of a million a year to the national stock.

I do not tell you of the Garter given away yesterday, because the newspapers will; but, I must observe, that the Prince of Brunswick’s riband is a mark of great distinction to that family; which I believe, is the first (except our own Royal Family) that has ever had two blue ribands at a time; but it must be owned they deserve them.

One hears of nothing now in town, but the separation of men and their wives. Will Finch, the Ex-vice Chamberlain, Lord Warwick, and your friend Lord Bolingbroke. I wonder at none of them for parting; but I wonder at many for still living together; for in this country it is certain that marriage is not well understood.

I have this day sent Mr. Larpent two hundred pounds for your Christmas-box, of which I suppose he will inform you by this post. Make this Christmas as merry a one as you can; for pour le peu du bon tems qui nous reste, rien nest si funeste, qu’un noir chagrin. For the new years — God send you many, and happy ones! Adieu.

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