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- Letters of Horace Walpole, V4 - 80/169 -
prophecies of dreamers? Do we not act precisely like Charles Fox, who thought he had discovered a new truth in figures, when he preached that wise doctrine, that nobody could want money that would pay enough for it? The consequence was, that in two years he left himself without the possibility of borrowing a shilling. I am not surprised at the spirits of' a boy of parts; I am not surprised at the people; I do wonder at government, that games away its consequence. For what are we now really at war with America, France, Spain, and Holland!--Not with hopes of reconquering America; not with the smallest prospect of conquering a foot of land from France, Spain, or Holland. No; we are at war on the defensive to protect what is left, or more truly to stave off, for a year perhaps, a peace that must proclaim our nakedness and impotence. I would not willingly recur to that womanish vision of something may turn up in our favour! That something must be a naval victory that will annihilate at once all the squadrons of Europe--must wipe off forty millions of new debt--reconcile the affections of America, that for six years we have laboured to alienate; and that must recall out of the grave the armies and sailors that are perished- -and that must make thirteen provinces willing to receive the law, without the necessity of keeping ten thousand men amongst them. The gigantic imagination of Lord Chatham would not entertain such a chimera. Lord * * * * perhaps would say he did, rather than not undertake; or Mr. Burke could form a metaphoric vision that would satisfy no imagination but his own: but I, who am nullius addiclus itrare in verba, have no hopes either in our resources or in our geniuses, and look on my country already as undone! It is grievous--but I shall not have much time to lament its fall!(412)
(409) On the 3d of October occurred one of the most dreadful hurricanes ever experienced in the West Indies. In Jamaica, Savannah la Mar, with three hundred inhabitants, was utterly swept away by an irruption of the sea; and at Barbados, on the 10th, Bridgetown, the capital of the island, was almost levelled to the ground, and several thousands of the inhabitants perished.-E.
(410) "Introductory of a motion for leave to bring in a bill for quieting the troubles that have for some time subsisted between Great Britain and America, and enabling his Majesty to send out commissioners with full power to treat with America for that purpose." The motion was negatived by 123 against 81. For the speech of General Conway, and a copy of his proposed bill, see Parl. History, vol, Nxi. pp. 570, 588.-E.
(411) Mr. Henry Laurens, president of the American council, having been taken by one of the King's frigates early in October 1780, on his passage to Holland, and it being discovered by the papers in his possession that the American States had been long carrying on a secret correspondence with Amsterdam, Sir Joseph Yorke, the British minister at the Hague, demanded a satisfactory explanation; but the same not being afforded, hostilities against Holland were declared on the 28th of December 1780.-E.
(412) To this passage the editor of Walpole's Works subjoined, in March 1798, the following note:--"It may be some comfort, in a moment no less portentous and melancholy than the one here described, to recollect the almost unhoped-for recovery of national prosperity, which took place from the peace of 1782 to the declaration of war against France in the year 1793. May our exertions procure the speedy application of a similar remedy to our present evils, and may that remedy be productive of equally good effects!"-E.
Letter 208 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Berkeley Square, Feb. 7, 1781. (page 268)
Dear Sir, I will not leave you a moment in suspense about the safety of your very valuable volume, which you have so kindly sent me, and which I have just received, with the enclosed letters, and your other yesterday. I have not time to add a word more at present, being full of business, having the night before last received an account of Lady Orford's death at Pisa,(413) and a copy of her will, which obliges me to write several letters, and to see my relations. She has left every thing in her power to her friend Cavalier Mozzi, at Florence; but her son comes into a large estate, besides her great jointure. You may imagine, how I lament that he had not patience to wait sixteen months, before he sold his pictures!
I am very sorry you have been at all indisposed. I will take the utmost care of your fifty-ninth volume (for which I give you this receipt), and will restore it the instant I have had time to go through it. Witness my hand.
(413) See vol. i. p. 243, letter 61.-E.
Letter 209 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. February 9, 1781. (page 268)
I had not time, dear Sir, when I wrote last, to answer your letter, nor do more than cast an eye on your manuscripts. To say the truth, my patience is not tough enough to go through Wolsey's negotiations. I see that your perseverance was forced to make the utmost efforts to transcribe them. They are immeasurably verbose, not to mention the blunders of the first copyist. As I road only for amusement, I cannot, so late in my life, purchase information on what I do not much care about, at the price of a great deal of ennui. The old wills at the end of your volume diverted me much more than the obsolete politics. I shall say nothing about what you call your old leaven. Every body must judge for himself in those matters: nor are you or I of an age to change long-formed opinions, as neither of us is governed by self-interest. Pray tell me how I may most safely return your volume. I value all your manuscripts so much, that I should never forgive myself, if a single one came to any accident by your so obligingly lending them to me. They are great treasures, and contain something or other that must suit most tastes: not to mention your amazing industry, neatness, legibility, with notes, arms, etc. I know no such repositories. You will receive with your manuscript Mr. Kerrick's and Mr. Gough's letters. The former is very kind. The inauguration of the Antiquated Society is burlesque and so is the dearth of materials for another volume; can they ever want such rubbish as compose their preceding annals?
I think it probable that story should be stone: however, I never piqued myself on recording every mason. I have preserved but too many that did not deserve to be mentioned. I dare to say, that when I am gone, many more such will be added to my volumes. I had not heard of poor Mr. Pennant's misfortune. I am very sorry for it, for I believe him to be a very honest good-natured man. He certainly was too lively for his proportion of understanding, and too impetuous to make the best use of what he had. However, it is a credit to us antiquaries to have one of our class disordered by vivacity. I hope your goutiness is dissipated, and that this last fine week has set you on your feet again.
Letter 210 To The Earl Of Buchan.(414) Berkeley Square, Feb. 10, 1781. (page 269)
I was honoured yesterday with your lordship's card, with the notification of the additional honour of my being elected an honourary member of the Society of the Antiquaries of Scotland;(415) a grace, my lord, that I receive with the respect and gratitude due to so valuable a distinction; and for which I must beg leave, through your lordship's favour, to offer my most sincere and humble thanks to that learned and respectable Society. My very particular thanks are still due to your lordship, who, in remembrance of ancient partiality, have been pleased, at the hazard of your own judgment, to favour an old humble servant, who can only receive honour from, but can reflect none on, the Society into which your lordship and your associates have condescended to adopt him. In my best days, my lord, I never could pretend to more than having flitted over some flowers of knowledge. Now worn out and near the end of my course, I can Only be a broken monument to prove that the Society of the Antiquaries of Scotland are zealous to preserve even the least valuable remains of a former age, and to recompense all who have contributed their mite towards illustrating our common island. I am, etc.
(414) Now first printed.
(415) The Royal Society of Antiquaries of Scotland had been formed at Edinburgh in the preceding December, when the Earl of Buchan was elected president.-E.
Letter 211 To Sir David Dalrymple.(416) Strawberry Hill, Feb. 10, 1781. (page 270)
I was very intimate, Sir, with the last Lord Finlater when he was Lord Deskford. We became acquainted at Rome on our travels, and though during his illness and long residence in Scotland, we had no intercourse, I had the honour of seeing him sometimes during his last visit to England; but I am an entire stranger to the anecdote relative to my father and Sir William Windham. I have asked my brother, who was much more conversant in the scenes of that time, for I was abroad when Sir William died, and returned to England but about six months before my father's retirement, so that having been at school and at Cambridge, or in my infancy, during Sir Robert's administration, the little I retain from him was picked up in the last three years of his life, which is an answer, Sir, to your inquiries why, among other reasons, I have always declined writing his life; for I could in reality say but little on my own knowledge; and yet should have the air of being good authority, at least better than I should truly be. My brother, Sir Edward, who is eleven years older than I am, never heard of your anecdote. I may add, that latterly I lived in great intimacy with the Marchioness of Blandford, Sir William's widow, who died but a year and a half ago at Sheepe, here in my neighbourhood; and with Lady Suffolk, who could not but be well acquainted with the history of those times from her long residence at court, and with whom, for the last five or six years of her life here at Twickenham, I have had many and many long conversations on those subjects, and yet I never heard a word of the supposed event you mention. I myself never heard Sir W. William speak but once in the House of Commons, but have always
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