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as I thought with the cramp in my left foot; however, I walked about all day: towards evening, it discovered itself by its true name, and that night I suffered a great deal. However, on Tuesday I was again able to go about the house ; but since Tuesday I have not been able to stir, and am wrapped in flannels and swathed like Sir Paul Pliant on his wedding night. I expect to hear that there is a bet at Arthur's, which runs fastest, Jack Harris' or I. Nobody would believe me six years ago when I said I had the gout. They would do leanness and temperance honours to which they have not the least claim.
I don't yet give up my expedition; as my foot is much swelled, I trust this alderman distemper is going : I shall set out the instant I am able ; but I much question whether it will be soon enough for me to get to Ragley” by the time the clock strikes Loo. I find I grow too old to make the circuit with the charming duchess. 3
I did not tell you about German skirmishes, for I knew nothing of them: when two vast armies only scratch one another’s faces, it gives me no attention. My gazette never contains above one or two casualties of foreign politics ;-overlaid, one king ; dead of convulsions, an electorate ; burnt to death, Dresden. 4
I wish you joy of all your purchases; why, you sound as rich as if you had had the gout these ten years. I beg their pardon; but, just at present, I am very glad not to be near the vivacity of either Missy or Peter. I agree with you much about the Minor :5 there are certainly parts and wit in it. Adieu !
1 John Harris, of Hayne, in Devonshire, married to Mr. Conway's eldest sister. [Ed.]
2 Ragley, in Warwickshire, the seat of the earl of Hertford. [Ed.] 3 Anne Liddell, duchess of Grafton. [Ed.]
4 Burnt by the Prussians 18th July, 1760. Walpole alludes to the king of Poland, who was at the same time elector of Saxony. (Ed.]
5 A comedy in three acts by Foote. [Ed.]
To GEORGE MONTAGU, Esq.
Strawberry-hill, August 12, 1760. In what part of the island you are just now, I don't know; flying about somewhere or other, I suppose. Well, it is charming to be so young! Here am I lying upon a couch, wrapped up in flannels, with the gout in both feet-oh yes, gout in all the forms. Six years ago I had it, and nobody would believe me. Now they may have proof. My legs are as big as your cousin Guildford's,' and they don't use to be quite so large. I was seized yesterday se’nnight; have had little pain in the day, but most uncomfortable nights; however, I move about again a little with a stick. If either my father or mother had had it, I should not dislike it so much. I am herald enough to approve of it if descended genealogically; but it is an absolute upstart in me, and what is more provoking, I had trusted to my great abstinence for keeping me from it: but thus it is, if I had had any gentleman-like virtue, as patriotism or loyalty, I might have got something by them; I had nothing but that beggarly virtue temperance, and she had not interest enough to keep me from a fit of the gout. Another plague is, that every body that ever knew any body that had it, is so good as to come with advice, and direct me how to manage it ; that is, how to contrive to have it for a great many years. I am very refractory; I say to the gout, as great personages do to the executioners, “Friend, do your work as quick as you can.” They tell me of wine to keep it out of my stomach ; but I will starve temperance itself; I will be virtuous indeed—that is, I will stick to virtue, though I find it is not its own reward.
This confinement has kept me from Yorkshire; I hope however to be at Ragley by the 20th, from whence I shall still go to lord Strafford's, and by this delay you may possibly be at Greatworth by my return, which will be about the beginning of September. Write me a line as soon as you receive this; direct it to Arlington-street, it will be sent after me. Adieu !
i Francis Lord North, created earl of Guildford 8th April, 1752. [Ed.]
P.S. My tower erects its battlements bravely; my Anecdotes of Painting thrive exceedingly : thanks to the gout, that has pinned me to my chair : think of Ariel the sprite in a slit shoe!
TO THE COUNTESS OF AILESBURY.1
Whichnovre, August 23, 1760.
WELL, madam, if I had known whether I was coming, I would not have come alone! Mr. Conway and your ladyship should have come, too. Do you know, this is the individual manorhouse,” where married ladies may have a flitch of bacon upon the easiest terms in the world ? I should have expected that the owners would be ruined in satisfying the conditions of the obligation, and that the park would be stocked with hogs instead of deer. On the contrary, it is thirty years since the flitch was claimed, and Mr. Offley was never so near losing one as when
and Mr. Conway were at Ragley. He so little expects the demand, that the flitch is only hung in effigie over the hall chimney, carved in wood. Are not you ashamed, madam, never to put in your claim ? It is above a year and a day that you have been married, and I never once heard either of
mention journey to Whichnovre. If you quarrelled at loo every night, you could not quit your pretensions with more indifference. I had a great mind to take my oath, as one of your witnesses, that you neither of you would, if you were at liberty, prefer any body else, ne fairer ne fouler, and I could easily get twenty persons to swear the same. Therefore, unless you will let the world be
| Daughter of the duke of Argyle, first married to the earl of Ailesbury, and afterwards to the Hon. H. S. Conway. (Ed.]
? Of Whichnovre near Litchfield. [Or.]
3 Whichnovre, Staffordshire, in the honor of Tutbury. Sir Philip de Somerville, 10 of Edward III., held the manor of Whichnovre, &c. of the earls of Lancaster, lords of the honor of Tutbury, upon two small fees, but also upon condition of his keeping ready “ arrayed all times of the year but Lent, one Bacon-flyke hanging in his hall at Whichnovre, to be given to every man or woman, who demanded it a year and a day after marriage, upon their swearing they would not have changed for none other, fairer nor fouler, richer nor poorer, nor for no other descended of great lineage, sleeping nor waking, at no time,” &c. (Ed.]
convinced, that all your apparent harmony is counterfeit, you must set out immediately for Mr. Offley's, or at least send me a letter of attorney to claim the flitch in your names; and I will send it up by the coach, to be left at the Blue Boar, or wherever you will have it delivered. But you had better come in person, you will see one of the prettiest spots in the world; it is a little paradise, and the more like the antique one, as, by all I have said, the married couple seems to be driven out of it. The house is very indifferent: behind is a pretty park; the situation, a brow of a hill, commanding sweet meadows, through which the Trent serpentizes in numberless windings and branches. The spires of the cathedral of Litchfield are in front at a distance, with variety of other steeples, seats, and farms, and the horizon bounded by rich hills covered with blue woods. If you love a prospect, or bacon, you will certainly come hither.
Wentworth-castle, Sunday night. I had writ thus far yesterday, but had no opportunity of sending my letter. I arrived here' last night, and found only the duke of Devonshire, who went to Hardwicke’ this morning: they were down at the menagerie, and there was a clean little pullet, with which I thought his grace looked as if he should be glad to eat a slice of Whichnovre bacon. We follow him to Chatsworth to-morrow, and make our entry to the public dinner, to the disagreeableness of which I fear even lady M*****'s company
will not reconcile me. My Gothic building, which my lord Strafford has executed in the managerie, has a charming effect. There are two bridges built besides; but the new front is very little advanced. Adieu, madam!
To GEORGE MONTAGU, Esq.
Arlington-street, September 1, 1760. I was disappointed at your not being at home as I returned from my expedition ; and now I fear it must be another year
I The seat of the earl of Strafford. [Ed.]
before I see Greatworth, as I have two or three more engagements on my books for the residue of this season. I go next week to lord Waldegrave, and afterwards to George Selwyn, and shall return by Bath, which I have never yet seen. Will not you and the general come to Strawberry in October ?
Thank you for your lamentations on my gout, it was in proportion to my size, very slender-my feet are again as small as ever they were. When I had what I called big shoes, I could have danced a minuet on a silver
penny My tour has been extremely agreeable. I set out with winning a good deal at loo at Ragley; the duke of Grafton was not so successful, and had some high words with Pam. I went from thence to Offley's at Whichnovre, the individual manor of the flitch of bacon, which has been growing rusty for these thirty years in his hall. I don't wonder ; I have no notion that one could keep in good-humour with one's wife for a year and a day, unless one was to live on the very spot, which is one of the sweetest scenes I ever saw. It is the brink of a high hill; the Trent wriggles through at the foot ; Litchfield and twenty other churches and mansions decorate the view. Mr. Anson has bought an estate close by, whence my lord used to cast many a wishful eye, though without the least pretensions even to a bit of lard.
I saw Litchfield cathedral, which has been rich, but my friend lord Brook and his soldiery treated poor St. Chadd3 with so little ceremony, that it is in a most naked condition. In a niche at the very summit they have crowded a statue of Charles the second, with a special pair of shoe-strings, big enough for a weathercock. As I went to Lord Strafford's I passed through Sheffield, which is one of the foulest towns in England in the most charming situation; there are two-and-twenty thousand inhabitants making knives and scissors; they remit eleven thousand pounds a-week to London. One man there has discovered the art of plating copper with silver ; I bought a pair of candlesticks for two guineas that are quite pretty. Lord Strafford has
3 The patron saint of the town and cathedral. The latter was rebuilt by Roger de Clinton in 1148, and is one of the finest in England; but the imagery and carved work on the front were much injured in 1641. It is said the cross upon the west window was frequently aimed at by Cromwell's soldiery, who were anxious to knock it down. (Ed.)