Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

- At p. 42. we have an account of Mr. Hamilton's single speech, and of the first Mr. Pitt's eloquence in 1755. This was the earthquake year; on which subject our facetivus author says:

. Between the French and the earthquakes *, you have no notion how good we are grown ; nobody makes a suit of clothes now but of sackcloth turned up with ashes. The fast was kept so devoutly, that Dick Edgecumbe t, tiding a very lean hazard at White's, said with a sigh, “ Lord, how the times are degenerated! Formerly a fast · would have brought every body hither; now it keeps every body away !” A few nights before, two men walking up the Strand, one said to t’other, “ Look how red the sky is ! Well, thank God! there is to be no masquerade!”

P. 57. ' I believe I shall be with you on Wednesday; but I can take my own word so little, that I will not give it you.' P. 58. speaking of Frederic K. of Prussia, ' If he sets over night in a defeat, he always rises in the morning in a triumph.' P. 02. Prince Edward (afterward D. of York) has asked to go to Quebec, and been refused. If I was sure they would refuse me, I would ask to go thither too. I should not dislike about as much laurel as I could stick in my window at Christmas.'

16. Speaking of new fashions, he says: "You see I speak very disinterestedly; for as I never wear a hat myself, it is in. different to me what sort of hat I don't wear.' P. 80. a descrip. tion 'of the Queen's arrival on Sept. 9, 1761. In the next page, he is angry with Mr. Pitt for accepting a title and a pension : “ But,” say the Pittites, “ what did he and his brother, and all his father's famig and adherents, accept? 'tis incalculable.”

P. 101. A character of the French of the antient regime, outrageously severe ; also an account of Miss Chudleigh's ball, in his natural and best manner, which had constantly ridicule and sarcasm for its basis. It has been said by careless observers, that our author's humour was not ill-natured : Voltaire's did not seem so: but who cut so deep into character and reputation as he did, with a single phrase, and a broad grin on his face ? Mr. W. may be said to be an excellent carver of characters; no one could cut ip more dexterously, and to the taste and palate of his company; all of them forgetting, in the facility and seeming good-humour with which it was done, that it would be their turn next. Yet, in general, how superior are bis letters to his Reininiscences ! On Mr. Conway's dismission, how. cyer, he becomes a sour oppositionist, and talks of lost liberty ! a ruined country! and self banislıment! Indeed his bitterness against government for persecuting his friend, because he was a

* The dreadful earthquake which had taken place at Lisbon towards the end of the preceding year.' • † Richard Edgecumbe second lord Edgecumbe.'

Wilkite,

Wilkite, is somewhat ungovernable. He threatens (p. 106) both the K. and the minister: 'I have passed a night, for which and the duke of shall pass many an uneasy one !' Yet his affectionate friendship is highly praise worthy, as the following letters exemplify:

• Arlington-street, April 19, 1764. o I am just come from the duchess of Argyll's *, where I dined. General Warburton was there, and said it was the report at the house of lords, that you are turned out-He imagined, of your regimentbut that I suppose is a mistake for the bedchamber f. I shall hear more to-night, and lady Strafford, who brings you this, will tell you; though to be sure you will know earlier by the post to-morrow. My only reason for writing is, to repeat to you, that whatever you do I shall act with you I. I resent any thing done to you as to myself. My fortunes shall never be separated from yours-except that some time or other I hope yours will be great, and I am content with mine.

The Manns go on with the business - The letter you received was from Mr. Edward Mann, not from Gal's widow. Adieu! I was going to say, my disgraced friend-How delightful to have a character so unspotted, that the word disgrace recoils on those who displace you! Yours unalterably,

HOR. WALPOLE.' . Let me beg you, in the most earnest and most sincere of all professions, to suffer me to make your loss as light as it is in my power to make it : I have six thousand pounds in the funds; accept all, or what part you want. Do not imagine I will be put off with a refusal. The retrenchment of my expences, which I shall from this hour commence, will convince you that I mean to re-place your fortune as far as I can. When I thought you did not want it, I had made another disposition. You have ever been the dearest person to me in the world. You have shown that you deserve to be so.—You suffer for your spotless integrity.-Can I hesitate a moment to show that there is at least one man who knows how to value you? The new will, which I am going to make, will be a testimonial of my own sense of virtue.'

At p. 125. Mr. W. seems to acknowlege the indecision of Mr.C. which was the chief fault that was generally laid to his charge at that time: "Your defect is irresolution. He speaks very freely to his friend in this letter, assuming rather more domi.

** Widow of John Campbell, duke of Argyll. She was sister to general Warburton, and had been maid of honour to queen Anne.'

it Mr. Conway was dismissed from all his employments, civil Cand military, for having opposed the ministry in the house of commons, on the question of the legality of general warrants, at the time of the prosecution of Mr. Wilkes for the publication of The North Briton. E.'

of Mr. Walpole was then in the house of commons, member for King's Lynn in Norfolk.'

os Of army-clothiers.' U 2

nion

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The Hatic, as; "Thaof short

bis usual light

nion over him than the being born two years sooner seems to justify.

In the subsequent letters, we find a number of short expressions that are quite characteristic, as; I have not above a note's worth to say' - The hardest frost alive.' P. 136. he says in his usual light and easy way : ? I was thinking of writ. ing, but have not a pen-full of matter. Mr. Conway having praised a garden in France which Mr. W. disapproved And you like this! I will tell Park-Place' (Mr. C.'s own beautiful seat).--My love to the old parliament.'--The sloop with rebellious news from America, at the beginning of resistance, is indeed a man of war!' P. 170. · We are at our wits end, which was no great journey.' At p. 179. we have comical stuff about fairings, as he calls presents from Paris. P. 180. describing his bad state of health, he says: "The moment I am out of pain I am in high spirits ; and though I never take any medie cines, there is one thing absolutely necessary to be put into my mouth-a gag. At present the town is 'so empty that my tongue is a fine cure. P. 182. "My pen is not always on its guard, but is apt to say every thing that comes into its nib.” Ib. "Lady Harrier's wishes have done me a great deal of good.' Ib. " I walk! I walk! walk alone! and my month is not up.'

From Paris, 1775, describing the busy life which he leads, he says : (p.188.)

• In short, I need have the activity of a squirrel, and the strength of a Hercules, to go through my labours--not to count how many deinélés I have had to raccommode, and how many memoires to present against Tonton *, who grows the greater favourite the more people he devours. As I am the only person who dare correct him, I have already insisted on his being confined in the Bastile every day after five o'clock. 'Tother night he flew at lady Barrymore's' face, and I thought would have torn her eye out ; but it ended in biting her finger. She was terrified; she fell into tears. Madame du Deto fand, who has too much parts not to see every thing in its true light, perceiving that she had not beaten Tonton half enough, immediately told us a story of a lady, whose dog having bitten a piece out of a gentleman's leg, the tender dame, in a great fright, cried out, * Won't it make my dog sick?”

P. 203. He begins a letter, Oct. 1783, with a dash : , im having thus told you all I know, I shall add a few words, to say I conclude you have known as much, hy my not having heard from you. Should the post-office or secretary's office set their wits at work to bring to light all the intelligence contained under the above hiatus, I am conlident they will discover nothing, though it gives an exact description of all they have been about themselves. My personal history is very short. I have had an assembly and "* A favourite dog of madame du Deffand's.'

thé

the rheumatism-and am buying a house--and it rains and I shall plant the roses against my treillage to-morrow. Thus you know what I have donc, suffered, am doing, and shall do. Let me know as much of you, in quantity, not in quality. Introductions to and conclusions of letters are as much out of fashion, as to, at, &c. on letters. This sublime age reduces every thing to its quintessence : all periphrases and expletives are so much in disuse, that I suppose soon the only way of making love will be to say “ Lie down.Luckily, the lawyers will not part with any synonymous words, and will, consequently, preserve the redundances of our language Dixi.'

P. 207. • Lord North has boasted of such mines (supplies) for next year, that one would think he believed next year would never come ?'-Ever bitterly severe against all ministers but his father: strong instances appear in p. 208 and 213.

At p. 215. we find a paragraph truly Walpolean: . I told you in my last, that Tonton * was arrived. I brought him this morning to take possession of his new villa; but his inauguration has not been at all pacific. As he has already found out that he may be as despotic as at saint Joseph's, he began with exiling my beautiful little cat ;-upon which, however, we shall not quite agree. He then flew at one of my dogs, who returned it, by biting his foot till it bled; but was severely beaten for it. I immediately rung for Margaret † to dress his foot; but in the midst of my tribulation could not keep my countenance ; for she cried, “ Poor little thing, he does not understand my language !”— I hope she will not recollect too that he is a papist ! · P. 220. Last week (June 1781) we had two or three mastiff days, for they were fiercer than our common dog days.' Complaining of cold weather in June 1784, he says, p. 232,

I have ordered my bed to be heated as hot as an oven, and Tonton and I must go into it. In August, the same year: 'I wish you joy of the summer being come now it is gone.' P. 233. A pleasant and fanciful letter on balloons.

P. 236. He speaks, we think, with too great a degree of decision and perhaps some injustice of the painted windows at New.College Oxford; of which he says:

I do not wonder you was disappointed with Jarvis's windows at New College: I had foretold their miscarriage : the old and the new are as mismatched as an orange and a lemon, and destroy each other; nor is there room enough to retire back and see half of the new; and sir Joshua's washy Virtues make the Nativity a dark spot from the darkness of the Shepherds, which happened, as I knew it would, from most of Jarvis's colours

"* Madame du Deffand's dog, which she left by will to Mr. Walpole.' of Mr. Walpole's housekeeper.'

opt

U

3

not being transparent.' The expression, Sir Joshua's washy Virtues, is a harsh sarcasm. If the colouring on the glass be faint, it is the fault of Jarvis : but was there nothing to say of the design, expression, and divine grace of the outline ?

P. 237. Another furious attack on Johnson ; which we shall insert here, to display the noble critic's taste and judgment :

• Have you got Boswell's most absurd enormous book ?—The best thing in ii is a bon mot of lord Pembroke. The more one learns of Johnson, the more preposterous ašsemblage he appears of strong sense, of the lowest bigotry and prejudices, of pride, brutality, fretfulness, and vanity-and Boswell is the ape of most of his faults, without a grain of his sense. It is the story of a mountebank and his zany.'*

Mr. W. is more amusing in his trifling jocund humours, than instructive when he is cross and serious. At p. 254. he says in June 1793: "I am wishing for rain, and I shall not have a mouthful of hay, nor a noseful of roses.- Indeed, as I have seen several fields of hay cut, I wonder it has not brought rain, as usual !' During Robespierre's reign of terror in France, Mr.W. (now Lord Orford) seems, for the first time, in good-humour with his country and its government, in spite of all their imperfections. We shall insert, for his honour, the efusions produced by his amor patria on this occasion. He says, p. 255, after having spoken of the excessive heat which had raged for twelve days in July:

" It is much cooler to day, yet still delicious ; for be it known to you that I have enjoyed weather worthy of Africa, and yet without swallowing mou'hfuls of musketos, nor expecting to hear hyænas howl in the village, nor to find scorpions in my bed. Indeed, all the way I came home, I could but gaze at the felicity of my countrymen. The road was ore string of stage-coaches loaded within and without with noisy jolly folks, and chaises and gigs that had bcen pleasuring in clouds of dust; every door and every window of every house was open, lights in every shop, every door with women sitting in the street, every inn crowded with jaded horses, and every ale-house full of drunken iopers ; for you know the English always announce their sense of heat or cold by drinking.- Well! it was impossible not to enjoy such a scene of happiness and afluence in every village, and amongst the lowest of the people—and who are told by villainous scribblers that they are oppressed and miserable.—New streets, new towns are rising every day and every where ; the carth is covered with gardens and crops of grain.

• How bitter to turn from this Elysium to the Temple at Paris ! The fiends there have now torn her son from the queen! Can one believe that they are human beings, who 'midst all their confusions

* There is some chronological mistake in dating this letter 1785. The first edition of Boswell's Life of Johnson was not published till 1791.

« AnteriorContinuar »