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ashamed when I look back and see four sides of paper scribbled over with nothings.
Your ladyship's most faithful servant.
To GEORGE MONTAGU, Esq.
Strawberry-hill, June 18, 1761. I am glad you will come on Monday, and hope you will arrive in a rainbow and pair, to signify that we are not to be totally drowned. It has rained incessantly, and floated all my new works; I seem rather to be building a pond than a gallery. My farm, too, is all under water, and what is vexatious, if Sunday had not thrust itself between, I could have got in my hay on Monday. As the parsons will let nobody else make hay on Sundays, I think they ought to make it on that day themselves.
By the papers I see Mrs. Trevor Hampden' is dead of the small-pox. Will he be much concerned? If you will stay with me a fortnight or three weeks, perhaps I may be able to carry you to a play of Mr. Bentley's—you start, but I am in earnest :
and de par le roy. In short here is the history of it. You know the passion he always had for the Italian comedy; about two years ago he wrote one, intending to get it offered to Rich, but without his name. He would have died to be supposed an author, and writing for gain. I kept this an inviolable secret. Judge then of my surprise, when about a fortnight or three weeks ago, I found my lord Melcomb reading this very Bentleiad in a circle at my lady Hervey's. Cumberland had carried it to him with a recommendatory copy of verses, containing more incense to the king and my lord Bute than the magi brought in their portmanteaus to Jerusalem. The idols were propitious, and to do them justice there is a great deal of wit in the piece, which is called the Wishes, or Harlequin's Mouth Opened. A bank note of two hundred pounds was sent from the treasury to the author, and the play ordered to be performed by the summer company. Foote was summoned to lord Melcomb's, where Parnassus was composed of the peer himself, who, like Apollo, as I am going to tell you, was dozing, the two chief justices, and lord B. Bubo read the play himself, with handkerchief and orange by his side. But the curious part is a prologue, which I never saw. It represents the god of verse fast asleep by the side of Helicon: the race of modern bards try to wake him, but the more they repeat their works, the louder snores. At last Ruin seize thee, ruthless king is heard, and the god starts from his trance. This is a good thought, but will offend the bards so much, that I think Dr. Bentley's son will be abused at least as much as his father was. The prologue concludes with young Augustus, and how much he excels the ancient one by the choice of his friend. Foote refused to act this prologue, and said it was too strong. “Indeed,” said Augustus's friend, “I think it is.” They have softened it a little, and I suppose it will be performed. You may depend upon the truth of all this; but what is much more creditable is, that the comely young author appears every night in the Mall in a milk white coat with a blue cape, disclaims any benefit, and says he has done with the play now it is out of his own hands, and that Mrs. Hannah Clio, alias Bentley, writ the best scenes in it. He is going to write a tragedy, and she, I suppose, is going to court.
1 The lady of the Hon. R. Trevor Hampden, Esq., joint postmastergeneral. [Ed.]
You will smile when I tell you that t’other day a party went to Westminster-abbey, and among the rest saw the ragged regiment. They inquired the names of the figures. “I don't know them," said the man, “but if Mr. Walpole was here he could tell you every one." Adieu ! I expect Mr. John and you with impatience.
To GEORGE MONTAGU, Esq.
Strawberry-hill, July 5, 1761, You are a pretty sort of a person to come to one's house and get sick, only to leave an excuse for not returning to it. Your departure is so abrupt, that I don't know but I may expect to find that Mrs. Jane Truebridge, whom you commend so much, and call Mrs. Mary, will prove Mrs. Hannah. Mrs. Clive is still more disappointed; she had proposed to play at quadrille with you from dinner till supper, and to sing old Purcell to you from supper to breakfast next morning. If you cannot trust
yourself from Great worth for a whole fortnight, how will you
do in Ireland for six months ? Remember all my preachments, and never be in spirits at supper. Seriously, I am sorry you are out of order, but am alarmed for you at Dublin, and though all the bench of bishops should quaver Purcell's hymns, don't let them warble you into a pint of wine. I wish you were going among catholic prelates who would deny you the cup. Think of me and resist temptation. Adieu !
To The EARL OF STRAFFORD,
Strawberry-hill, July 5, 1761. MY DEAR LORD,
I cannot live at Twickenham and not think of you: I have long wanted to write, and had nothing to tell you.
My lady D. seems to have lost her sting; she has neither blown up a horse nor a quarrel since you departed. Her wall, contiguous to you, is built, but so precipitate and slanting, that it seems hurrying to take water. I hear she grows sick of her undertakings. We have been ruined by deluges; all the country was under water. Lord Holderness's new fossel was beaten in for several yards : this tempest was a little beyond the dew of Hermon that fell on the hill of Sion.
I have been in still more danger by water: my parroquet was on my shoulder as I was feeding my gold-fish, and flew into the middle of the pond : I was very near being the Nouvelle Eloise, and tumbling in after him ; but with much ado I ferried him out with my hat.
Lord E*** has had a fit of apoplexy; your brother Charles? a bad return of his old complaint; and lord Melcomb has tumbled down the kitchen stairs, and waked himself.
London is a desert; no soul in it but the king. Bussy has taken a temporary house. The World talks of peace—would I could believe it! every newspaper frightens me: Mr. Conway
1 At Sion-hill, near Brentford. [Or.]
2 Charles Townshend, married to lady Greenwich, eldest sister to lady Strafford. [Or.]
would be very angry if he knew how I dread the very name of the prince de Soubise, 3
We begin to perceive the tower of Kew 4 from Montpellierrow; in a fortnight you will see it in Yorkshire.
The apostle Whitfield is come to some shame: he went to lady Huntingdon lately, and asked for forty pounds for some distressed saint or other. She said she had not so much
money in the house, but would give it him the first time she had. He was very pressing, but in vain. At last, he said “ There's your watch and trinkets, you don't want such vanities; I will have that.” She would have put him off; but he, persisting, she said, “Well, if you must have it, you must." About a fortnight afterwards, going to his house, and being carried into his wife's chamber, among the paraphernalia of the latter the countess found her own offering. This has made a terrible schism : she tells the story herself— I had not it from Saint Frances, 5 but I hope it is true. Adieu, my dear lord !
P.S. My gallery sends its humble duty to your new front, and all my creatures beg their respects to my lady.
TO THE Hon. H. S. CONWAY.
Arlington-street, July 14, 1761.
My dearest Harry, how could you write me such a cold letter as I have just received from you, and beginning Dear sir ! Can you be angry with me, for can I be in fault to you?' Blameable in ten thousand other respects, may not I almost say I am perfect with regard to you? Since I was fifteen have not I loved you unalterably? Since I was capable of knowing your merit, has not my admiration been veneration? For what could so much affection and esteem change? Have not your honour,
3 The generalissimo of the French forces. [Ed.]
5 Lady Frances Shirley. [Or.] VOL. II.
your interest, your safety been ever my first objects? Oh, Harry ! if you knew what I have felt and am feeling about you, would you charge me with neglect? If I have seen a person since you went, to whom my first question has not been,“ What
hear of the peace ?” you would have reason to blame
You say I write very seldom : I will tell you what, I should almost be sorry to have you see the anxiety I have expressed about you in letters to every body else. No; I must except lady Ailesbury, and there is not another on earth who loves you so well and is so attentive to whatever relates to you.
With regard to writing, this is exactly the case : I had nothing to tell you ; nothing has happened ; and where you are, I was cautious of writing. Having neither hopes nor fears, I always write the thoughts of the moment, and even laugh to divert the person I am writing to, without any ill-will on the subjects I mention. But, in your situation, that frankness might be prejudicial to you: and to write grave unmeaning letters, I trusted you was too secure of me either to like them or desire them. I knew no news, nor could I : I have lived quite alone at Strawberry; am connected with no court, ministers, or party ; consequently heard nothing, and events there have been none. I have not even for this month heard my lady T ****'s extempore gazette. All the morning, I play with my workmen or animals, go regularly every evening to the meadows with Mrs. Clive, or sit with my lady Suffolk,' and at night scribble my painters.—What a journal to send you! I write more trifling letters than any man living; am ashamed of them, and yet they are expected of me. You, my lady Ailesbury, your brother, sir Horace Mann, George Montagu, lord Strafford—all expect I should write-Of what? I live less and less in the world, care for it less and less, and yet am thus obliged to inquire what it is doing. Do make these allowances for me, and remember half your letters go to my lady Ailesbury. I writ to her of the king's marriage, concluding she would send it to you: tiresome as it would be, I will copy my own letters, if you expect it; for I will do any thing rather than disoblige you. I will send you a diary of the duke of York's balls and Ranelaghs; inform you of how
Henrietta Hobart, countess of Suffolk, then living at Marble-hill. [Or.]