LONDON, February 11, 1766
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received two days ago your letter of the 25th past; and your former, which you mention in it, but ten days ago; this may easily be accounted for from the badness of the weather, and consequently of the roads. I hardly remember so severe a win ter; it has occasioned many illnesses here. I am sure it pinched my crazy carcass so much that, about three weeks ago, I was obliged to be let blood twice in four days, which I found afterward was very necessary, by the relief it gave to my head and to the rheumatic pains in my limbs; and from the execrable kind of blood which I lost.
Perhaps you expect from me a particular account of the present state of affairs here; but if you do you will be disappointed; for no man living (and I still less than anyone) knows what it is; it varies, not only daily, but hourly.
Most people think, and I among the rest, that the date of the present Ministers is pretty near out; but how soon we are to have a new style, God knows. This, however, is certain, that the Ministers had a contested election in the House of Commons, and got it but by eleven votes; too small a majority to carry anything; the next day they lost a question in the House of Lords, by three. The question in the House of Lords was, to enforce the execution of the Stamp-act in the colonies vi et armis. What conclusions you will draw from these premises, I do not know; but I protest I draw none; but only stare at the present undecipherable state of affairs, which, in fifty years’ experience, I have never seen anything like. The Stamp-act has proved a most pernicious measure; for, whether it is repealed or not, which is still very doubtful, it has given such terror to the Americans, that our trade with them will not be, for some years, what it used to be; and great numbers of our manufacturers at home will be turned a starving for want of that employment which our very profitable trade to America found them: and hunger is always the cause of tumults and sedition.
As you have escaped a fit of the gout in this severe cold weather, it is to be hoped you may be entirely free from it, till next winter at least.
P. S. Lord having parted with his wife, now, keeps another w — e, at a great expense. I fear he is totally undone.
LONDON, March 17, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: You wrong me in thinking me in your debt; for I never receive a letter of yours, but I answer it by the next post, or the next but one, at furthest: but I can easily conceive that my two last letters to you may have been drowned or frozen in their way; for portents and prodigies of frost, snow, and inundations, have been so frequent this winter, that they have almost lost their names.
You tell me that you are going to the baths of BADEN; but that puzzles me a little, so I recommend this letter to the care of Mr. Larpent, to forward to you; for Baden I take to be the general German word for baths, and the particular ones are distinguished by some epithet, as Weissbaden, Carlsbaden, etc. I hope they are not cold baths, which I have a very ill opinion of, in all arthritic or rheumatic cases; and your case I take to be a compound of both, but rather more of the latter.
You will probably wonder that I tell you nothing of public matters; upon which I shall be as secret as Hotspur’s gentle Kate, who would not tell what she did not know; but what is singular, nobody seems to know any more of them than I do. People gape, stare, conjecture, and refine. Changes of the Ministry, or in the Ministry at least, are daily reported and foretold, but of what kind, God only knows. It is also very doubtful whether Mr. Pitt will come into the Administration or not; the two present Secretaries are extremely desirous that he should; but the others think of the horse that called the man to its assistance. I will say nothing to you about American affairs, because I have not pens, ink, or paper enough to give you an intelligible account of them. They have been the subjects of warm and acrimonious debates, both in the Lords and Commons, and in all companies.
The repeal of the Stamp-act is at last carried through. I am glad of it, and gave my proxy for it, because I saw many more inconveniences from the enforcing than from the repealing it.
Colonel Browne was with me the other day, and assured me that he left you very well. He said he saw you at Spa, but I did not remember him; though I remember his two brothers, the Colonel and the ravisher, very well. Your Saxon colonel has the brogue exceedingly. Present my respects to Count Flemming; I am very sorry for the Countess’s illness; she was a most well-bred woman.
You would hardly think that I gave a dinner to the Prince of Brunswick, your old acquaintance. I glad it is over; but I could not avoid it. Il m’avait tabli de politesses. God bless you!
BLACKHEATH, June 13, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received yesterday your letter of the 30th past. I waited with impatience for it, not having received one from you in six weeks; nor your mother neither, who began to be very sure that you were dead, if not buried. You should write to her once a week, or at least once a-fortnight; for women make no allowance either for business or laziness; whereas I can, by experience, make allowances for both: however, I wish you would generally write to me once a fortnight.
Last week I paid my midsummer offering, of five hundred pounds, to Mr. Larpent, for your use, as I suppose he has informed you. I am punctual, you must allow.
What account shall I give you of ministerial affairs here? I protest I do not know: your own description of them is as exact a one as any I, who am upon the place, can give you. It is a total dislocation and derangement; consequently a total inefficiency. When the Duke of Grafton quitted the seals, he gave that very reason for it, in a speech in the House of Lords: he declared, “that he had no objection to the persons or the measures of the present Ministers; but that he thought they wanted strength and efficiency to carry on proper measures with success; and that he knew but one man MEANING, AS YOU WILL EASILY SUPPOSE, MR. PITT who could give them strength and solidity; that, under this person, he should be willing to serve in any capacity, not only as a General Officer, but as a pioneer; and would take up a spade and a mattock.” When he quitted the seals, they were offered first to Lord Egmont, then to Lord Hardwicke; who both declined them, probably for the same reasons that made the Duke of Grafton resign them; but after their going a-begging for some time, the Duke of ——— begged them, and has them faute de mieux. Lord Mountstuart was never thought of for Vienna, where Lord Stormont returns in three months; the former is going to be married to one of the Miss Windsors, a great fortune. To tell you the speculations, the reasonings, and the conjectures, either of the uninformed, or even of the best-informed public, upon the present wonderful situation of affairs, would take up much more time and paper than either you or I can afford, though we have neither of us a great deal of business at present.
I am in as good health as I could reasonably expect, at my age, and with my shattered carcass; that is, from the waist upward; but downward it is not the same: for my limbs retain that stiffness and debility of my long rheumatism; I cannot walk half an hour at a time. As the autumn, and still more as the winter approaches, take care to keep yourself very warm, especially your legs and feet.
Lady Chesterfield sends you her compliments, and triumphs in the success of her plaster. God bless you!
BLACKHEATH, July 11, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: You are a happy mortal, to have your time thus employed between the great and the fair; I hope you do the honors of your country to the latter. The Emperor, by your account, seems to be very well for an emperor; who, by being above the other monarchs in Europe, may justly be supposed to have had a proportionably worse education. I find, by your account of him, that he has been trained up to homicide, the only science in which princes are ever instructed; and with good reason, as their greatness and glory singly depend upon the numbers of their fellow-creatures which their ambition exterminates. If a sovereign should, by great accident, deviate into moderation, justice, and clemency, what a contemptible figure would he make in the catalogue of princes! I have always owned a great regard for King Log. From the interview at Torgaw, between the two monarchs, they will be either a great deal better or worse together; but I think rather the latter; for our namesake, Philip de Co mines, observes, that he never knew any good come from l’abouchement des Rois. The King of Prussia will exert all his perspicacity to analyze his Imperial Majesty; and I would bet upon the one head of his black eagle, against the two heads of the Austrian eagle; though two heads are said, proverbially, to be better than one. I wish I had the direction of both the monarchs, and they should, together with some of their allies, take Lorraine and Alsace from France. You will call me l’Abbe de St. Pierre; but I only say what I wish; whereas he thought everything that he wished practicable.
Now to come home. Here are great bustles at Court, and a great change of persons is certainly very near. You will ask me, perhaps, who is to be out, and who is to be in? To which I answer, I do not know. My conjecture is that, be the new settlement what it will, Mr. Pitt will be at the head of it. If he is, I presume, qu’il aura mis de l’eau dans son vin par rapport a Mylord B——; when that shall come to be known, as known it certainly will soon be, he may bid adieu to his popularity. A minister, as minister, is very apt to be the object of public dislike; and a favorite, as favorite, still more so. If any event of this kind happens, which (if it happens at all) I conjecture will be some time next week, you shall hear further from me.
I will follow your advice, and be as well as I can next winter, though I know I shall never be free from my flying rheumatic pains, as long as I live; but whether that will be more or less, is extremely indifferent to me; in either case, God bless you!
BLACKHEATH, August 1, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: The curtain was at last drawn up, the day before yesterday, and discovered the new actors, together with some of the old ones. I do not name them to you, because tomorrow’s Gazette will do it full as well as I could. Mr. Pitt, who had carte blanche given him, named everyone of them: but what would you think he named himself for? Lord Privy Seal; and (what will astonish you, as it does every mortal here) Earl of Chatham. The joke here is, that he has had A FALL UP STAIRS, and has done himself so much hurt, that he will never be able to stand upon his leg’s again. Everybody is puzzled how to account for this step; though it would not be the first time that great abilities have been duped by low cunning. But be it what it will, he is now certainly only Earl of Chatham; and no longer Mr. Pitt, in any respect whatever. Such an event, I believe, was never read nor heard of. To withdraw, in the fullness of his power and in the utmost gratification of his ambition, from the House of Commons (which procured him his power, and which could alone insure it to him), and to go into that hospital of incurables, the House of Lords, is a measure so unaccountable, that nothing but proof positive could have made me believe it: but true it is. Hans Stanley is to go Ambassador to Russia; and my nephew, Ellis, to Spain, decorated with the red riband. Lord Shelburne is your Secretary of State, which I suppose he has notified to you this post, by a circular letter. Charles Townshend has now the sole management of the House of Commons; but how long he will be content to be only Lord Chatham’s vicegerent there, is a question which I will not pretend to decide. There is one very bad sign for Lord Chatham, in his new dignity; which is, that all his enemies, without exception, rejoice at it; and all his friends are stupefied and dumbfounded. If I mistake not much, he will, in the course of a year, enjoy perfect otium cum dignitate. Enough of politics.
Is the fair, or at least the fat, Miss C—— with you still? It must be confessed that she knows the arts of courts, to be so received at Dresden, and so connived at in Leicester-fields.
There never was so wet a summer as this has been, in the memory of man; we have not had one single day, since March, without some rain; but most days a great deal. I hope that does not affect your health, as great cold does; for, with all these inundations, it has not been cold. God bless you!
BLACKHEATH, August 14, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received yesterday your letter of the 30th past, and I find by it that it crossed mine upon the road, where they had no time to take notice of one another.
The newspapers have informed you, before now, of the changes actually made; more will probably follow, but what, I am sure, I cannot tell you; and I believe nobody can, not even those who are to make them: they will, I suppose, be occasional, as people behave themselves. The causes and consequences of Mr. Pitt’s quarrel now appear in print, in a pamphlet published by Lord T———; and in a refutation of it, not by Mr. Pitt himself, I believe, but by some friend of his, and under his sanction. The former is very scurrilous and scandalous, and betrays private conversation. My Lord says, that in his last conference, he thought he had as good a right to nominate the new Ministry as Mr. Pitt, and consequently named Lord G— — Lord L—— — etc., for Cabinet Council employments; which Mr. Pitt not consenting to, Lord T—— broke up the conference, and in his wrath went to Stowe; where I presume he may remain undisturbed a great while, since Mr. Pitt will neither be willing nor able to send for him again. The pamphlet, on the part of Mr. Pitt, gives an account of his whole political life; and, in that respect, is tedious to those who were acquainted with it before; but, at the latter end, there is an article that expresses such supreme contempt of Lord T— — and in so pretty a manner, that I suspect it to be Mr. Pitt’s own: you shall judge yourself, for I here transcribe the article: “But this I will be bold to say, that had he (Lord T——) not fastened himself into Mr. Pitt’s train, and acquired thereby such an interest in that great man, he might have crept out of life with as little notice as he crept in; and gone off with no other degree of credit, than that of adding a single unit to the bills of mortality” I wish I could send you all the pamphlets and half-sheets that swarm here upon this occasion; but that is impossible; for every week would make a ship’s cargo. It is certain, that Mr. Pitt has, by his dignity of Earl, lost the greatest part of his popularity, especially in the city; and I believe the Opposition will be very strong, and perhaps prevail, next session, in the House of Commons; there being now nobody there who can have the authority and ascendant over them that Pitt had.
People tell me here, as young Harvey told you at Dresden, that I look very well; but those are words of course, which everyone says to everybody. So far is true, that I am better than at my age, and with my broken constitution, I could have expected to be. God bless you!
BLACKHEATH, September 12, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have this moment received your letter of the 27th past. I was in hopes that your course of waters this year at Baden would have given you a longer reprieve from your painful complaint. If I do not mistake, you carried over with you some of Dr. Monsey’s powders. Have you taken any of them, and have they done you any good? I know they did me a great deal. I, who pretend to some skill in physic, advise a cool regimen, and cooling medicines.
I do not wonder, that you do wonder, at Lord C——’s conduct. If he was not outwitted into his peerage by Lord B— — his accepting it is utterly inexplicable. The instruments he has chosen for the great office, I believe, will never fit the same case. It was cruel to put such a boy as Lord G— over the head of old Ligonier; and if I had been the former, I would have refused that commission, during the life of that honest and brave old general. All this to quiet the Duke of R—— to a resignation, and to make Lord B—— Lieutenant of Ireland, where, I will venture to prophesy, that he will not do. Ligonier was much pressed to give up his regiment of guards, but would by no means do it; and declared that the King might break him if he pleased, but that he would certainly not break himself.
I have no political events to inform you of; they will not be ripe till the meeting of the parliament. Immediately upon the receipt of this letter, write me one, to acquaint me how you are.
God bless you; and, particularly, may He send you health, for that is the greatest blessing!
BLACKHEATH, September 30, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received, yesterday, with great pleasure, your letter of the 18th, by which I consider this last ugly bout as over; and, to prevent its return, I greatly approve of your plan for the south of France, where I recommend for your principal residence, Pezenas Toulouse, or Bordeaux; but do not be persuaded to go to Aix en Provence, which, by experience, I know to be at once the hottest and the coldest place in the world, from the ardor of the Provencal sun, and the sharpness of the Alpine winds. I also earnestly recommend to you, for your complaint upon your breast, to take, twice a-day, asses’ or (what is better mares’ milk), and that for these six months at least. Mingle turnips, as much as you can, with your diet.
I have written, as you desired, to Mr. Secretary Conway; but I will answer for it that there will be no difficulty to obtain the leave you ask.
There is no new event in the political world since my last; so God bless you!
LONDON, October 29, 7766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: The last mail brought me your letter of the 17th. I am glad to hear that your breast is so much better. You will find both asses’ and mares’ milk enough in the south of France, where it was much drank when I was there. Guy Patin recommends to a patient to have no doctor but a horse, and no apothecary but an ass. As for your pains and weakness in your limbs, je vous en offre autant; I have never been free from them since my last rheumatism. I use my legs as much as I can, and you should do so too, for disuse makes them worse. I cannot now use them long at a time, because of the weakness of old age; but I contrive to get, by different snatches, at least two hours’ walking every day, either in my garden or within doors, as the weather permits. I set out tomorrow for Bath, in hopes of half repairs, for Medea’s kettle could not give me whole ones; the timbers of my wretched vessel are too much decayed to be fitted out again for use. I shall see poor Harte there, who, I am told, is in a miserable way, between some real and some imaginary distempers.
I send you no political news, for one reason, among others, which is that I know none. Great expectations are raised of this session, which meets the 11th of next month; but of what kind nobody knows, and consequently everybody conjectures variously. Lord Chatham comes to town tomorrow from Bath, where he has been to refit himself for the winter campaign; he has hitherto but an indifferent set of aides-decamp; and where he will find better, I do not know. Charles Townshend and he are already upon ill terms. Enfin je n’y vois goutte; and so God bless you!
BATH, November 15, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have this moment received your letter of the 5th instant from Basle. I am very glad to find that your breast is relieved, though perhaps at the expense of your legs: for, if the humor be either gouty or rheumatic, it had better be in your legs than anywhere else. I have consulted Moisy, the great physician of this place, upon it; who says, that at this distance he dares not prescribe anything, as there may be such different causes for your complaint, which must be well weighed by a physician upon the spot; that is, in short, that he knows nothing of the matter. I will therefore tell you my own case, in 1732, which may be something parallel to yours. I had that year been dangerously ill of a fever in Holland; and when I was recovered of it, the febrific humor fell into my legs, and swelled them to that degree, and chiefly in the evening, that it was as painful to me as it was shocking to others. I came to England with them in this condition; and consulted Mead, Broxholme, and Arbuthnot, who none of them did me the least good; but, on the contrary, increased the swelling, by applying poultices and emollients. In this condition I remained near six months, till finding that the doctors could do me no good, I resolved to consult Palmer, the most eminent surgeon of St. Thomas’s Hospital. He immediately told me that the physicians had pursued a very wrong method, as the swelling of my legs proceeded only from a relaxation and weakness of the cutaneous vessels; and he must apply strengtheners instead of emollients. Accordingly, he ordered me to put my legs up to the knees every morning in brine from the salters, as hot as I could bear it; the brine must have had meat salted in it. I did so; and after having thus pickled my legs for about three weeks, the complaint absolutely ceased, and I have never had the least swelling in them since. After what I have said, I must caution you not to use the same remedy rashly, and without the most skillful advice you can find, where you are; for if your swelling proceeds from a gouty, or rheumatic humor, there may be great danger in applying so powerful an astringent, and perhaps REPELLANT as brine. So go piano, and not without the best advice, upon a view of the parts.
I shall direct all my letters to you Chez Monsieur Sarraxin, who by his trade is, I suppose, sedentaire at Basle, while it is not sure that you will be at any one place in the south of France. Do you know that he is a descendant of the French poet Sarrazin?
Poor Harte, whom I frequently go to see here, out of compassion, is in a most miserable way; he has had a stroke of the palsy, which has deprived him of the use of his right leg, affected his speech a good deal, and perhaps his head a little. Such are the intermediate tributes that we are forced to pay, in some shape or other, to our wretched nature, till we pay the last great one of all. May you pay this very late, and as few intermediate tributes as possible; and so jubeo te bene valere. God bless you!
BATH, December 9, 1766.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received, two days ago, your letter of the 26th past. I am very glad that you begin to feel the good effects of the climate where you are; I know it saved my life, in 1741, when both the skillful and the unskillful gave me over. In that ramble I stayed three or four days at Nimes, where there are more remains of antiquity, I believe, than in any town in Europe, Italy excepted. What is falsely called la maison quarree, is, in my mind, the finest piece of architecture that I ever saw; and the amphitheater the clumsiest and the ugliest: if it were in England, everybody would swear it had been built by Sir John Vanbrugh.
This place is now, just what you have seen it formerly; here is a great crowd of trifling and unknown people, whom I seldom frequent, in the public rooms; so that I may pass my time tres uniment, in taking the air in my post-chaise every morning, and in reading of evenings. And a propos of the latter, I shall point out a book, which I believe will give you some pleasure; at least it gave me a great deal. I never read it before. It is Reflexions sur la Poesie et la Peinture, par l’Abbee de Bos, in two octavo volumes; and is, I suppose, to be had at every great town in France. The criticisms and the reflections are just and lively.
It may be you expect some political news from me: but I can tell you that you will have none, for no mortal can comprehend the present state of affairs. Eight or nine people of some consequence have resigned their employments; upon which Lord C—— made overtures to the Duke of B—— and his people; but they could by no means agree, and his Grace went, the next day, full of wrath, to Woburn, so that negotiation is entirely at an end. People wait to see who Lord C—— will take in, for some he must have; even HE cannot be alone, contra mundum. Such a state of affairs, to be sure, was never seen before, in this or in any other country. When this Ministry shall be settled, it will be the sixth Ministry in six years’ time.
Poor Harte is here, and in a most miserable condition; those who wish him the best, as I do, must wish him dead. God bless you!
LONDON, February 13, 1767.
MY DEAR FRIEND: It is so long since I have had a letter from you, that I am alarmed about your health; and fear that the southern parts of France have not done so well by you as they did by me in the year 1741, when they snatched me from the jaws of death. Let me know, upon the receipt of this letter, how you are, and where you are.
I have no news to send you from hence; for everything seems suspended, both in the court and in the parliament, till Lord Chatham’s return from the Bath, where he has been laid up this month, by a severe fit of the gout; and, at present, he has the sole apparent power. In what little business has hitherto been done in the House of Commons, Charles Townshend has given himself more ministerial airs than Lord Chatham will, I believe, approve of. However, since Lord Chatham has thought fit to withdraw himself from that House, he cannot well do without Charles’ abilities to manage it as his deputy.
I do not send you an account of weddings, births, and burials, as I take it for granted that you know them all from the English printed papers; some of which, I presume, are sent after you. Your old acquaintance, Lord Essex, is to be married this week to Harriet Bladen, who has L20,000 down, besides the reasonable expectation of as much at the death of her father. My kinsman, Lord Strathmore, is to be married in a fortnight, to Miss Bowes, the greatest heiress perhaps in Europe. In short, the matrimonial frenzy seems to rage at present, and is epidemical. The men marry for money, and I believe you guess what the women marry for. God bless you, and send you health!
LONDON, March 3, 1767
MY DEAR FRIEND: Yesterday I received two letters at once from you, both dated Montpellier; one of the 29th of last December, and the other the 12th of February: but I cannot conceive what became of my letters to you; for, I assure you, that I answered all yours the next post after I received them; and, about ten days ago, I wrote you a volunteer, because you had been so long silent, and I was afraid that you were not well; but your letter of the 12th of February has removed all my fears upon that score. The same climate that has restored your health so far will probably, in a little more time, restore your strength too; though you must not expect it to be quite what it was before your late painful complaints. At least I find that, since my late great rheumatism, I cannot walk above half an hour at a time, which I do not place singly to the account of my years, but chiefly to the great shock given then to my limbs. D’ailleurs I am pretty well for my age and shattered constitution.
As I told you in my last, I must tell you again in this, that I have no news to send. Lord Chatham, at last, came to town yesterday, full of gout, and is not able to stir hand or foot. During his absence, Charles Townshend has talked of him, and at him, in such a manner, that henceforward they must be either much worse or much better together than ever they were in their lives. On Friday last, Mr. Dowdeswell and Mr. Grenville moved to have one shilling in the pound of the land tax taken off; which was opposed by the Court; but the Court lost it by eighteen. The Opposition triumph much upon this victory; though, I think, without reason; for it is plain that all the landed gentlemen bribed themselves with this shilling in the pound.
The Duke of Buccleugh is very soon to be married to Lady Betty Montague. Lord Essex was married yesterday, to Harriet Bladen; and Lord Strathmore, last week, to Miss Bowes; both couples went directly from the church to consummation in the country, from an unnecessary fear that they should not be tired of each other if they stayed in town. And now dixi; God bless you!
You are in the right to go to see the assembly of the states of, Languedoc, though they are but the shadow of the original Etats, while there was some liberty subsisting in France.
LONDON, April 6, 1767.
MY DEAR FRIEND: Yesterday I received your letter from Nimes, by which I find that several of our letters have reciprocally miscarried. This may probably have the same fate; however, if it reaches Monsieur Sarrazin, I presume he will know where to take his aim at you; for I find you are in motion, and with a polarity to Dresden. I am very glad to find by it, that your meridional journey has perfectly recovered you, as to your general state of health; for as to your legs and thighs, you must never expect that they will be restored to their original strength and activity, after so many rheumatic attacks as you have had. I know that my limbs, besides the natural debility of old age, have never recovered the severe attack of rheumatism that plagued me five or six years ago. I cannot now walk above half an hour at a time and even that in a hobbling kind of way.
I can give you no account of our political world, which is in a situation that I never saw in my whole life. Lord Chatham has been so ill, these last two months, that he has not been able (some say not willing) to do or hear of any business, and for his sous Ministres, they either cannot, or dare not, do any, without his directions; so everything is now at a stand. This situation, I think, cannot last much longer, and if Lord Chatham should either quit his post, or the world, neither of which is very improbable, I conjecture, that which is called the Rockingham Connection stands the fairest for the Ministry. But this is merely my conjecture, for I have neither data nor postulata enough to reason upon.
When you get to Dresden, which I hope you will not do till next month, our correspondence will be more regular. God bless you!
LONDON, May 5, 1767,
MY DEAR FRIEND: By your letter of the 25th past, from Basle, I presume this will find you at Dresden, and accordingly I direct to you there. When you write me word that you are at Dresden, I will return you an answer, with something better than the answer itself.
If you complain of the weather, north of Besancon, what would you say to the weather that we have had here for these last two months, uninterruptedly? Snow often, northeast wind constantly, and extreme cold. I write this by the side of a good fire; and at this moment it snows very hard. All my promised fruit at Blackheath is quite destroyed; and, what is worse, many of my trees.
I cannot help thinking that the King of Poland, the Empress of Russia, and the King of Prussia, s’entendent comme larrons en foire, though the former must not appear in it upon account of the stupidity, ignorance, and bigotry of his Poles. I have a great opinion of the cogency of the controversial arguments of the Russian troops, in favor of the Dissidents: I am sure I wish them success; for I would have all intoleration intolerated in its turn. We shall soon see more clearly into this matter; for I do not think that the Autocratrice of all the Russias will be trifled with by the Sarmatians.
What do you think of the late extraordinary event in Spain? Could you have ever imagined that those ignorant Goths would have dared to banish the Jesuits? There must have been some very grave and important reasons for so extraordinary a measure: but what they were I do not pretend to guess; and perhaps I shall never know, though all the coffeehouses here do.
Things are here in exactly the same situation, in which they were when I wrote to you last. Lord Chatham is still ill, and only goes abroad for an hour in a day, to take the air, in his coach. The King has, to my certain knowledge, sent him repeated messages, desiring him not to be concerned at his confinement, for that he is resolved to support him, pour et contre tous. God bless you!
LONDON, June 1, 1767.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received yesterday your letter of the 20th past, from Dresden, where I am glad to find that you are arrived safe and sound. This has been everywhere an annus mirabilis for bad weather, and it continues here still. Everybody has fires, and their winter clothes, as at Christmas. The town is extremely sickly; and sudden deaths have been very frequent.
I do not know what to say to you upon public matters; things remain in statu quo, and nothing is done. Great changes are talked of, and, I believe, will happen soon, perhaps next week; but who is to be changed, for whom, I do not know, though everybody else does. I am apt to think that it will be a mosaic Ministry, made up de pieces rapportees from different connections.
Last Friday I sent your subsidy to Mr. Larpent, who, I suppose, has given you notice of it. I believe it will come very seasonably, as all places, both foreign and domestic, are so far in arrears. They talk of paying you all up to Christmas. The King’s inferior servants are almost starving.
I suppose you have already heard, at Dresden, that Count Bruhl is either actually married, or very soon to be so, to Lady Egremont. She has, together with her salary as Lady of the Bed-chamber, L2,500 a year, besides ten thousand pounds in money left her, at her own disposal, by Lord Egremont. All this will sound great en ecus d’Allemagne. I am glad of it, for he is a very pretty man. God bless you!
I easily conceive why Orloff influences the Empress of all the Russias; but I cannot see why the King of Prussia should be influenced by that motive.
BLACKHEATH, JULY 2, 1767.
MY DEAR FRIEND: Though I have had no letter from you since my last, and though I have no political news to inform you of, I write this to acquaint you with a piece of Greenwich news, which I believe you will be very glad of; I am sure I am. Know then that your friend Miss —— was happily married, three days ago, to Mr. —— — an Irish gentleman, and a member of that parliament, with an estate of above L2,000 a-year. He settles upon her L600 jointure, and in case they have no children, L1,500. He happened to be by chance in her company one day here, and was at once shot dead by her charms; but as dead men sometimes walk, he walked to her the next morning, and tendered her his person and his fortune; both which, taking the one with the other, she very prudently accepted, for his person is sixty years old.
Ministerial affairs are still in the same ridiculous and doubtful situation as when I wrote to you last. Lord Chatham will neither hear of, nor do any business, but lives at Hampstead, and rides about the heath. His gout is said to be fallen upon his nerves. Your provincial secretary, Conway, quits this week, and returns to the army, for which he languished. Two Lords are talked of to succeed him; Lord Egmont and Lord Hillsborough: I rather hope the latter. Lord Northington certainly quits this week; but nobody guesses who is to succeed him as President. A thousand other changes are talked of, which I neither believe nor reject.
Poor Harte is in a most miserable condition: He has lost one side of himself, and in a great measure his speech; notwithstanding which, he is going to publish his DIVINE POEMS, as he calls them. I am sorry for it, as he had not time to correct them before this stroke, nor abilities to do it since. God bless you!
BLACKHEATH, July 9, 1767.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have received yours of the 21st past, with the inclosed proposal from the French refugies, for a subscription toward building them ’un temple. I have shown it to the very few people I see, but without the least success. They told me (and with too much truth) that while such numbers of poor were literally starving here from the dearness of all provisions, they could not think of sending their money into another country, for a building which they reckoned useless. In truth, I never knew such misery as is here now; and it affects both the hearts and the purses of those who have either; for my own part, I never gave to a building in my life; which I reckon is only giving to masons and carpenters, and the treasurer of the undertaking.
Contrary to the expectations of all mankind here, everything still continues in statu quo. General Conway has been desired by the King to keep the seals till he has found a successor for him, and the Lord President the same. Lord Chatham is relapsed, and worse than ever: he sees nobody, and nobody sees him: it is said that a bungling physician has checked his gout, and thrown it upon his nerves; which is the worst distemper that a minister or a lover can have, as it debilitates the mind of the former and the body of the latter. Here is at present an interregnum. We must soon see what order will be produced from this chaos.
The Electorate, I believe, will find the want of Comte Flemming; for he certainly had abilities, and was as sturdy and inexorable as a Minister at the head of the finances ought always to be. When you see Comtesse Flemming, which I suppose cannot be for some time, pray make her Lady Chesterfield’s and my compliments of condolence.
You say that Dresden is very sickly; I am sure London is at least as sickly now, for there reigns an epidemical distemper, called by the genteel name of l’influenza. It is a little fever, of which scarcely anybody dies; and it generally goes off with a little looseness. I have escaped it, I believe, by being here. God keep you from all distempers, and bless you!
LONDON, October 30, 1767.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have now left Blackheath, till the next summer, if I live till then; and am just able to write, which is all I can say, for I am extremely weak, and have in a great measure lost the use of my legs; I hope they will recover both flesh and strength, for at present they have neither. I go to the Bath next week, in hopes of half repairs at most; for those waters, I am sure, will not prove Medea’s kettle, nor les eaux de Jouvence to me; however, I shall do as good courtiers do, and get what I can, if I cannot get what I will. I send you no politics, for here are neither politics nor ministers; Lord Chatham is quiet at Pynsent, in Somersetshire, and his former subalterns do nothing, so that nothing is done. Whatever places or preferments are disposed of, come evidently from Lord —— — who affects to be invisible; and who, like a woodcock, thinks that if his head is but hid, he is not seen at all.
General Pulteney is at last dead, last week, worth above thirteen hundred thousand pounds. He has left all his landed estate, which is eight and twenty thousand pounds a-year, including the Bradford estate, which his brother had from that ancient family, to a cousin-german. He has left two hundred thousand pounds, in the funds, to Lord Darlington, who was his next nearest relation; and at least twenty thousand pounds in various legacies. If riches alone could make people happy, the last two proprietors of this immense wealth ought to have been so, but they never were.
God bless you, and send you good health, which is better than all the riches of the world!
LONDON, November 3, 1767.
MY DEAR FRIEND: Your last letter brought me but a scurvy account of your health. For the headaches you complain of, I will venture to prescribe a remedy, which, by experience, I found a specific, when I was extremely plagued with them. It is either to chew ten grains of rhubarb every night going to bed: or, what I think rather better, to take, immediately before dinner, a couple of rhubarb pills, of five grains each; by which means it mixes with the aliments, and will, by degrees, keep your body gently open. I do it to this day, and find great good by it. As you seem to dread the approach of a German winter, I would advise you to write to General Conway, for leave of absence for the three rigorous winter months, which I dare say will not be refused. If you choose a worse climate, you may come to London; but if you choose a better and a warmer, you may go to Nice en Provence, where Sir William Stanhope is gone to pass his winter, who, I am sure, will be extremely glad of your company there.
I go to the Bath next Saturday. Utinam de frustra. God bless you!
BATH, September 19, 1767.
MY DEAR FRIEND: Yesterday I received your letter of the 29th past, and am very glad to find that you are well enough to think that you may perhaps stand the winter at Dresden; but if you do, pray take care to keep both your body and your limbs exceedingly warm.
As to my own health, it is, in general, as good as I could expect it, at my age; I have a good stomach, a good digestion, and sleep well; but find that I shall never recover the free use of my legs, which are now full as weak as when I first came hither.
You ask me questions concerning Lord C—— — which neither I, nor, I believe, anybody but himself can answer; however, I will tell you all that I do know, and all that I guess, concerning him. This time twelvemonth he was here, and in good health and spirits, except now and then some little twinges of the gout. We saw one another four or five times, at our respective houses; but for these last eight months, he has been absolutely invisible to his most intimate friends, les sous Ministres: he would receive no letters, nor so much as open any packet about business.
His physician, Dr. — — as I am told, had, very ignorantly, checked a coming fit of the gout, and scattered it about his body; and it fell particularly upon his nerves, so that he continues exceedingly vaporish; and would neither see nor speak to anybody while he was here. I sent him my compliments, and asked leave to wait upon him; but he sent me word that he was too ill to see anybody whatsoever. I met him frequently taking the air in his post-chaise, and he looked very well. He set out from hence for London last Tuesday; but what to do, whether to resume, or finally to resign the Administration, God knows; conjectures are various. In one of our conversations here, this time twelvemonth, I desired him to secure you a seat in the new parliament; he assured me that he would, and, I am convinced, very sincerely; he said even that he would make it his own affair; and desired that I would give myself no more trouble about it. Since that, I have heard no more of it; which made me look out for some venal borough and I spoke to a borough-jobber, and offered five-and-twenty hundred pounds for a secure seat in parliament; but he laughed at my offer, and said that there was no such thing as a borough to be had now, for that the rich East and West Indians had secured them all, at the rate of three thousand pounds at least; but many at four thousand, and two or three that he knew, at five thousand. This, I confess, has vexed me a good deal; and made me the more impatient to know whether Lord C— had done anything in it; which I shall know when I go to town, as I propose to do in about a fortnight; and as soon as I know it you shall. To tell you truly what I think — I doubt, from all this NERVOUS DISORDER that Lord C—— is hors de combat, as a Minister; but do not ever hint this to anybody. God bless you!
BATH, December 27, 1767. En nova progenies!
MY DEAR FRIEND: The outlines of a new Ministry are now declared, but they are not yet quite filled up; it was formed by the Duke of Bedford. Lord Gower is made President of the Council, Lord Sandwich, Postmaster, Lord Hillsborough, Secretary of State for America only, Mr. Rigby, Vice-treasurer of Ireland. General Canway is to keep the seals a fortnight longer, and then to surrender them to Lord Weymouth. It is very uncertain whether the Duke of Grafton is to continue at the head of the Treasury or not; but, in my private opinion, George Grenville will very soon be there. Lord Chatham seems to be out of the question, and is at his repurchased house at Hayes, where he will not see a mortal. It is yet uncertain whether Lord Shelburne is to keep his place; if not, Lord Sandwich they say is to succeed him. All the Rockingham people are absolutely excluded. Many more changes must necessarily be, but no more are yet declared. It seems to be a resolution taken by somebody that Ministers are to be annual.
Sir George Macartney is next week to be married to Lady Jane Stuart, Lord Bute’s second daughter.
I never knew it so cold in my life as it is now, and with a very deep snow; by which, if it continues, I may be snow-bound here for God knows how long, though I proposed leaving this place the latter end of the week.
Poor Harte is very ill here; he mentions you often, and with great affection. God bless you!
When I know more you shall.
LONDON, January 29, 1768.
MY DEAR FRIEND: Two days ago I received your letter of the 8th. I wish you had gone a month or six weeks sooner to Basle, that you might have escaped the excessive cold of the most severe winter that I believe was ever known. It congealed both my body and my mind, and scarcely left me the power of thinking. A great many here, both in town and country, have perished by the frost, and been lost in the snow.
You have heard, no doubt, of the changes at Court, by which you have got a new provincial, Lord Weymouth; who has certainly good parts, and, as I am informed, speaks very well in the House of Lords; but I believe he has no application. Lord Chatham is at his house at Hayes; but sees no mortal. Some say that he has a fit of the gout, which would probably do him good; but many think that his worst complaint is in his head, which I am afraid is too true. Were he well, I am sure he would realize the promise he made me concerning you; but, however, in that uncertainty, I am looking out for any chance borough; and if I can find one, I promise you I will bid like a chapman for it, as I should be very sorry that you were not in the next parliament. I do not see any probability of any vacancy in a foreign commission in a better climate; Mr. Hamilton at Naples, Sir Horace Mann at Florence, and George Pitt at Turin, do not seem likely to make one. And as for changing your foreign department for a domestic one, it would not be in my power to procure you one; and you would become d’eveque munier, and gain nothing in point of climate, by changing a bad one for another full as bad, if not worse; and a worse I believe is not than ours. I have always had better health abroad than at home; and if the tattered remnant of my wretched life were worth my care, I would have been in the south of France long ago. I continue very lame and weak, and despair of ever recovering any strength in my legs. I care very little about it. At my age every man must have his share of physical ills of one kind or another; and mine, thank God, are not very painful. God bless you!
LONDON, March 12, 1768.
MY DEAR FRIEND: The day after I received your letter of the 21st past, I wrote to Lord Weymouth, as you desired; and I send you his answer inclosed, from which (though I have not heard from him since) I take it for granted, and so may you, that his silence signifies his Majesty’s consent to your request. Your complicated complaints give me great uneasiness, and the more, as I am convinced that the Montpellier physicians have mistaken a material part of your case; as indeed all the physicians here did, except Dr. Maty. In my opinion, you have no gout, but a very scorbutic and rheumatic habit of body, which should be treated in a very different manner from the gout; and, as I pretend to be a very good quack at least, I would prescribe to you a strict milk diet, with the seeds, such as rice, sago, barley, millet, etc., for the three summer months at least, and without ever tasting wine. If climate signifies anything (in which, by the way, I have very little faith), you are, in my mind, in the finest climate in the world; neither too hot nor too cold, and always clear; you are with the gayest people living; be gay with them, and do not wear out your eyes with reading at home. L’ennui is the English distemper: and a very bad one it is, as I find by every day’s experience; for my deafness deprives me of the only rational pleasure that I can have at my age, which is society; so that I read my eyes out every day, that I may not hang myself.
You will not be in this parliament, at least not at the beginning of it. I relied too much upon Lord C——’s promise above a year ago at Bath. He desired that I would leave it to him; that he would make it his own affair, and give it in charge to the Duke of G— — whose province it was to make the parliamentary arrangement. This I depended upon, and I think with reason; but, since that, Lord C has neither seen nor spoken to anybody, and has been in the oddest way in the world. I have sent to the D—— of G—— — to know if L—— C—— had either spoken or sent to him about it; but he assured me that he had done neither; that all was full, or rather running over, at present; but that, if he could crowd you in upon a vacancy, he would do it with great pleasure. I am extremely sorry for this accident; for I am of a very different opinion from you, about being in parliament, as no man can be of consequence in this country, who is not in it; and, though one may not speak like a Lord Mansfield or a Lord Chatham, one may make a very good figure in a second rank. Locus est et pluribus umbris. I do not pretend to give you any account of the present state of this country, or Ministry, not knowing nor guessing it myself.
God bless you, and send you health, which is the first and greatest of all blessings!
LONDON, March 15, 1768.
MY DEAR FRIEND: This letter is supplemental to my, last. This morning Lord Weymouth very civilly sent Mr. Wood, his first commis, to tell me that the King very willingly gave you leave of absence from your post for a year, for the recovery of your health; but then added, that as the Court of Vienna was tampering with that of Saxony, which it seems our Court is desirous to contrequarrer, it might be necessary to have in the interim a Charge d’Affaires at Dresden, with a defalcation out of your appointments of forty shillings a-day, till your return, if I would agree to it. I told him that I consented to both the proposals, upon condition that at your return you should have the character and the pay of Plenipotentiary added to your present character and pay; and that I would completely make up to you the defalcation of the forty shillings a-day. He positively engaged for it: and added, that he knew that it would be willingly agreed to. Thus I think I have made a good bargain for you, though but an indifferent one for myself: but that is what I never minded in my life. You may, therefore, depend upon receiving from me the full of this defalcation, when and how you please, independently of your usual annual refreshment, which I will pay to Monsieur Larpent, whenever you desire it. In the meantime, Cura ut valeas.
The person whom Mr. Wood intimated to me would be the Charge d’Affaires during your absence, is one Mr. Keith, the son of that Mr. Keith who was formerly Minister in Russia.
LONDON, April 12, 1768.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received, yesterday, your letter of the 1st; in which you do not mention the state of your health, which I desire you will do for the future.
I believe you have guessed the true reason of Mr. Keith’s mission; but by a whisper that I have since heard, Keith is rather inclined to go to Turin, as Charge d’Affaires. I forgot to tell you, in my last, that I was almost positively assured that the instant you return to Dresden, Keith should decamp. I am persuaded that they will keep their words with me, as there is no one reason in the world why they should not. I will send your annual to Mr. Larpent, in a fortnight, and pay the forty shillings a-day quarterly, if there should be occasion; for, in my own private opinion, there will be no Charge d’Affaires sent. I agree with you, that point d’argent, point d’Allemand, as was used to be said, and not without more reason, of the Swiss; but, as we have neither the inclination nor I fear the power to give subsidies, the Court of Vienna can give good things that cost them nothing, as archbishoprics, bishoprics, besides corrupting their ministers and favorite with places.
Elections here have been carried to a degree of frenzy hitherto unheard of; that for the town of Northampton has cost the contending parties at least thirty thousand pounds a side, and —————— has sold his borough of ——— — to two members, for nine thousand pounds. As soon as Wilkes had lost his election for the city, he set up for the county of Middlesex, and carried it hollow, as the jockeys say. Here were great mobs and riots upon that occasion, and most of the windows in town broke, that had no lights for WILKES AND LIBERTY, who were thought to be inseparable. He will appear, the 10th of this month, in the Court of King’s Bench, to receive his sentence; and then great riots are again expected, and probably will happen. God bless you!
BATH, October 17, 1768.
MY DEAR FRIEND. Your last two letters, to myself and Grevenkop, have alarmed me extremely; but I comfort myself a little, by hoping that you, like all people who suffer, think yourself worse than you are. A dropsy never comes so suddenly; and I flatter myself, that it is only that gouty or rheumatic humor, which has plagued you so long, that has occasioned the temporary swelling of your legs. Above forty years ago, after a violent fever, my legs swelled as much as you describe yours to be; I immediately thought that I had a dropsy; but the Faculty assured me, that my complaint was only the effect of my fever, and would soon be cured; and they said true. Pray let your amanuensis, whoever he may be, write an account regularly once a-week, either to Grevenkop or myself, for that is the same thing, of the state of your health.
I sent you, in four successive letters, as much of the Duchess of Somerset’s snuff as a letter could well convey to you. Have you received all or any of them? and have they done you any good? Though, in your present condition, you cannot go into company, I hope that you have some acquaintances that come and sit with you; for if originally it was not good for man to be alone, it is much worse for a sick man to be so; he thinks too much of his distemper, and magnifies it. Some men of learning among the ecclesiastics, I dare say, would be glad to sit with you; and you could give them as good as they brought.
Poor Harte, who is here still, is in a most miserable condition: he has entirely lost the use of his left side, and can hardly speak intelligibly. I was with him yesterday. He inquired after you with great affection, and was in the utmost concern when I showed him your letter.
My own health is as it has been ever since I was here last year. I am neither well nor ill, but UNWELL. I have in a manner lost the use of my legs; for though I can make a shift to crawl upon even ground for a quarter of an hour, I cannot go up or down stairs, unless supported by a servant. God bless you and grant you a speedy recovery!
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:06