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- Letters of Horace Walpole, V4 - 130/169 -


will be a theatre of civil wars; and, instead of liberty, the nation will get petty tyrants, perhaps petty kingdoms: and when millions have suffered, or been sacrificed, the government will be no better than it was, all owing to the intemperance of the `etats, who might have obtained a good constitution, or at least one much meliorated, if they had set out with discretion and moderation. They have left too a sad lesson to despotic princes, who will quote this precedent of frantic `etats, against assembling any more, and against all the examples of senates and parliaments that have preserved rational freedom. Let me know when it will be convenient to you to receive me. Adieu!

(679) Her ladyship, who was the daughter of Sir Edward Walpole and the first wife of Lionel, fourth Earl of Dysart, died on the day this letter was written.-E.

Letter 346 To Miss Hannah More. Strawberry Hill, Sept. -, 1789. (PAGE 441)

I know whence you wrote last, but not where you are now; you gave me no hint. I believe you fly lest I should pursue, and as if you were angry that I have forced you to sprout into laurels. Yet you say you are vain of it, and that you are no philosopher. Now, if you are vain I am sure you are a philosopher; for it is a maxim of mine, and one of my own making, that there never was a philosopher that did not love sweetmeats. ou tell me too, that you like I should scold you but since you have appeared as Bonner's ghost, I think I shall feel too much awe; for though (which I never expected would be in my power) I have made you stand in a white sheet, I doubt my respect is increased. I never did rate you for being too bad, but too good: and if, when you make up your week's account, YOU find but a fraction of vanity in the sum total, you will fall to repenting, and Come forth On Monday as humble as * * *. Then, if I huff my heart Out, you will only simper, and still wrap yourself up in your obstinate goodness. Well! take your own way; I give you Up to your abominable virtues, and will go answer the rest of your letter.

I congratulate you on the demolition of the Bastille; I mean as you do, of its' functions.(680) For the poor soul itself, I had no ill will to it: on the contrary, it was a curious sample of ancient castellar dungeons, which the good folks the founders took for palaces: yet I always hated to drive by it, knowing the miseries it contained. Of itself it did not gobble up prisoners to glut its maw, but received them by command. The destruction of it was silly, and agreeable to the ideas of a mob, who do not know stones and bars and bolts from a lettre de cachet. If the country remains free, the Bastille would be as tame as a ducking-Stool, now that there is no such thing as a scold. If despotism recovers, the Bastille will rise from its ashes!-- recover, I fear, it will. The `Etats cannot remain a mob of kings, and will prefer a single one to a larger mob of kings and greater tyrants. The nobility, the clergy, and people of property will wait, till by address and Money they can divide the people; or, whoever gets the larger or more victorious army into his hands, will be a Cromwell or a Monk. In short, a revolution procured by a national vertigo does not promise a crop of legislators. It is time that composes a good constitution: it formed ours. We were near losing it by the lax and unconditional restoration of Charles the Second. The revolution was temperate, and has lasted; and, though it might have been improved, we know that with all its moderation it disgusted half the nation, who would have brought back the old sores. I abominate the Inquisition as much as you do: yet if the King of Spain receives no check like his cousin Louis, I fear he will not be disposed to relax any terrors. Every crowned head in Europe must ache at present; and the frantic and barbarous proceedings in France will not meliorate the stock of liberty, though for some time their majesties will be mighty tender of the rights of their subjects.

According to this hypothesis, I can administer some comfort to you about your poor negroes. I do not imagine that they will be emancipated at once; but their fate will be much alleviated, as the attempt will have alarmed their butchers enough to make them gentler, like the European monarchs, for fear of"provoking the disinterested, who have no sugar plantations, to abolish the horrid traffic.

I do not understand the manoeuvre of sugar, and, perhaps, am going to talk nonsense, as my idea maybe impracticable; but I Wish human wit, which is really very considerable in mechanics and merchantry, could devise some method of cultivating canes and making sugar without the manual labour of the human" species. How many mills and inventions have there not been discovered to supply succedaneums to the works of the hands, which before the discoveries would have been treated as visions! It is true, manual labour has sometimes taken it very ill to be excused, and has destroyed such mills; but the poor negroes would not rise and insist upon being worked to death. Pray talk to some ardent genius, but do not name me; not merely because I may have talked like an idiot, but because my ignorance might, ipso C fiacto, stamp the idea with ridicule. People, I know, do not love to be put out of their old ways: no farmer listens at first to new inventions in agriculture; and I don't doubt but bread was originally deemed a new-fangled vagary, by those who had seen their fathers live very comfortably upon acorns. Nor is there any harm in starting new game to invention: many excellent discoveries have been made by men who were a la chasse of something very different. I am not quite sure that the art of making gold and of* living for ever have been yet found out: yet to how many noble discoveries has the pursuit of those nostrums given birth! Poor chymistry, had she not had such glorious objects in view! If you are sitting under a cowslip at your cottage, these reveries may amuse you for half an hour, at least make you smile; and for the ease of your conscience, which is always in a panic, they require no answer.(681)

I will not ask you about the new history of Bristol,(682) because you are too good a citizen to say a word against your native place; but do pray cast your eye on the prints of The cathedral and castle, the chef-d',oeuvres of Chatterton's ignorance, and of Mr. Barrett's too; and on two letters pretended to have been sent to me, and which never were sent. If my incredulity had wavered, they would have fixed it. I wish the milkwoman would assert that Boadicea's dairymaid had invented Dutch tiles; it would be like Chatterton's origin of heraldry and painted glass, in those two letters. I must, however, mention one word about myself. In the new fourth volume of the Biographia Britannica I am more candidly treated about that poor lad than usual: yet the writer still affirms, that, according to my own account, my reply was too much in the-commonplace style of court replies. Now my own words, and the truth, as they stand in print in the very letter of mine which this author quotes, were, "I wrote him a letter with as much kindness and tenderness as if I had been his guardian." Is this by my own account a court-reply? Nor did I conceive, for I never was a courtier, that courtiers are wont to make tender replies to the poor; I am glad to hear they do.

I have kept this letter some days in my writing-box, till I could meet with a stray member of parliament, for it is not worth making you pay for: but when you talk to me I cannot help answering incontinently; besides, can one take up a letter at a long distance, and heat one's reply over again with the same interest that it occasioned at first? Adieu! I wish you may come to Hampton before I leave these purlieus! Yours More and More.

(680) Miss More had written to Walpole,--"Poor France! though I am sorry that the lawless rabble are so triumphant, I cannot help hoping that some good will arise from the sum of human misery having been so considerably lessened at one blow by the destruction of the Bastille. The utter extinction of the Inquisition, and the redemption of Africa, I hope yet to see accomplished." Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 170.-E.

(681) To this passage Miss More thus replies:--"Your project for relieving our poor slaves by machine work is so far from being wild or chimerical, that of three persons deep and able in the concern (Mr. Wilberforce among others), not one but has thought it rational and practicable, and that a plough may be so constructed as to save much misery." Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 187.-,E.

(682) "The History and Antiquities of Bristol, by William Barrett:" Bristol, 1789, quarto; a Work which Mr. Park described as " a motley compound of real and superstitious history."-E.

Letter 347 To Miss Hannah More. Strawberry Hill, Nov. 4, 1789. (PAGE 444)

I am not surprised, my dear Madam, that the notice of my illness should have stimulated your predominant quality, your sensibility. 1 cannot do less in return than relieve it immediately, by assuring you that I am in a manner recovered; and should have gone out before this time, if my mind were as much at ease as my poor limbs. I have passed, five months most uncomfortably; the two last most unhappily. In June and September I had two bad falls by my own lameness and weakness, and was much bruised; while I was witness to the danger, and then to the death, of my invaluable niece, Lady Dysart. She was angelic, and has left no children. The unexpected death of Lord Waldegrave(683) one of the most amiable of men, has not only deprived me of him, but has opened a dreadful scene of calamities! he and my niece were the happiest and most domestic of couples.

Your kind inquiries after me have drawn these details from me, for which I make no excuse; good-nature never grudges its pity. I, who love to force your gravity to smile, am seriously better pleased to indulge your benevolence with a subject of esteem, which, though moving your compassion, will be accompanied by no compunction. I will now answer your letter. Your plea, that not composition, but business, has occasioned your silence, is no satisfaction to me. In my present anxious solitude I have again read Bonner and Florio, and the Bas Bleu; and do you think I am much pleased to learn that you have not been writing? Who is it says something like this line?--

Hannah will not write, and Lactilla will.

They who think her Earl Goodwin will outgo Shakspeare, might be in the right, if they specified in what way. I believe she may write worse than he sometimes did, though that is not easy; but to excel him--oh! I have not words adequate to my contempt for those who can suppose such a possibility!

I am sorry, very sorry, for what you tell me of poor Barrett's


Letters of Horace Walpole, V4 - 130/169

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