Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER V.: 1781.— Æt. 33. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence)
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CHAPTER V.: 1781.— Æt. 33. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence) 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). 11 vols. Vol. 10.
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Visits to Lord Shelburne.—Letters from Bowood: The Bowood Ladies: Lord Pembroke: Court Scandal: Necker: Louis XVI.: Lord Bristol.—American War: Captain Blankett: Elliot: Siege of St Lucie: Lord Dartry: Lord Chatham and William Pitt: Dunning: Relation of an Overture by Lord North to the Rockinghams: Lord and Lady Tracton: American Intelligence: Camden: Sir William Draper’s Letter to Lord Shelburne.
Bentham’s connexion with Lord Shelburne (afterwards Marquis of Lansdowne) began in 1781, when his lordship called on him at his chambers in Lincoln’s Inn. The intimacy became very great, and Bentham spent much of his time at Bowood.
Lady Shelburne died in 1789. During her last illness, Benjamin Vaughan and Bentham were the only persons of the male sex whose presence she could endure; and, on her death, he was the only male person who was constantly near Lord Shelburne, of that little party to which he looked for consolation.
When a rupture took place with Col. Barré, Bentham held the place of confidence which Barré had occupied. He was consulted on all occasions, at a time when a debt of £300,000 encumbered the rent-roll.
Bentham used his influence in order to prevent the present marquis from being sent to Oxford; a place, he said, where perjury was daily practised.
Lord Shelburne avoided talking on religious subjects, for fear, he hinted, of getting into a scrape; but he avowed to Bentham that his opinions were what is called sceptical.
The following letter is a specimen of Lord Shelburne’s style, and conveys his opinion on some subjects of interest:—
Lord Shelburne to Bentham.
“Cheltenham, 26th July, 1781.
I am very much obliged by your letter of the 18th, and consider your attention as a mark of your friendship, of which I am ambitious. I remember reading some of Mr Anderson’s papers, and that they contained more useful matter, though not such fine language as is commonly to be met with among Scotch writers. I entirely agree with him about the Poor Laws; they not only appear to me productive of all the inconveniences commonly apprehended and felt, but likewise are daily destroying all natural subordination and affection. The master manufacturer, uninterested in the fate of the hands whom he employs, becomes a mere Negro driver; while the man of property loses that political influence which it has been a fundamental principle of all constitutions to suppose attendant on property, by the poor being taught, on all occasions, to look up to the king’s justices for relief; and I shall not be surprised to see the poor make as separate an interest in the State as the clergy do.
“I brought the ‘Fragment’ here, meaning to read it again, which has been the means of discovering to me that I am here in company with a friend of yours—Captain Blankett. He returns with me to Bowood at the end of next week, from whence he accompanies me here, and I should be very happy if it might prove an inducement to you to meet us there.
“You say nothing of your brother. I hope he has not embarked himself in a service (the Russian) which, among others, he has given me the worst opinion of. It is ridiculous to say in this idle place that I am obliged to conclude my letter for want of time, but I was impatient to acknowledge yours; and an early dinner does not leave me more time than is necessary to add the truth and regard with which I have the honour to be, dear sir, your faithful, humble servant,
Bentham’s visits to Bowood were all felicity. A few of his amusing letters, full as they are of agreeable tittle-tattle, will best show how many pleasures were crowded into those happy days; which, in writing to the present Lord Lansdowne, Bentham called the “happiest of his life.”
Bentham to George Wilson.*
“Sunday, 8 o’Clock, (1781.)
“It is true Lady S—is a sister of Lord Ossory’s; my Lord was mentioning it just now in a parenthesis; then Miss V—must have been a half-sister by another father; and so part, at least, of the mystery is cleared up. The Countess of Warwick is also a sister of Lady S—, whether half or whole I cannot pretend to say. What is it now you want of me? Table talk? Get Selden’s; there you have a whole volume of it. Politics? I know nothing about the matter. Does he come in? That I know nothing about, any more than you. He went some little time ago to town, for a couple of days only: that came out accidentally in conversation yesterday, when there was company. ‘People fancied that I was gone upon politics.’ I have been told at different times, in the way of parenthesis, that I should see Lord Camden here and Colonel Barré; at present, there is not a soul but Blankett. To-morrow, my Lord, and I, and Blankett, (I beg his pardon, Blankett and I,) go to Lord Pembroke’s to see Wilton; we are to stay there all night; it is about thirty miles off. On what account we go, I can’t pretend to say; it was proposed as if it were only on mine. On Thursday, we go to Calne, to a corporation dinner. Hamilton of Bath has been mentioned as another person whom I shall see, and that in a few days; ’tis he who was the creator of Payne’s Hill. He is the oracle for the gardening works that are carried on here, and has been employed in undoing what capability-Brown had done. To-day we had no company to dinner; yesterday we had a Mr Bayntun (a son of Sir Edward Bayntun, an old courtier, whose name you will find in your Bible) and his wife; and who should this wife be, but a Lady Maria, a daughter of Lord Conventry, by Miss Gunning, and who, notwithstanding her ancestry, is as dowdy as a country girl, and as ugly as a horse, and yet, they say, she had on her best looks. Her husband is a plain young country squire in dress, with something of Croft’s manner in his address, yet better spoken and without his affectation; he is cultivated pour cause de vicinage, being the nearest neighbour there is—and yet, three miles off, neighbours being eloigned by the extensiveness of the demesnes.
“All this while, I have said nothing of the manner of my coming here; I began in the middle like an epic poem. I travelled very snug in my coach as far as Marlborough, with a set of people not worth recounting. At Marlborough, where we dined, our coach joined issue with another: the company, Alexander Popham, and a certain female. He appeared to know who I was, and we made a sort of bande à part. I determined to pursue your plan with regard to the quitting the hackney vehicle at Marlborough, but, alas! what availeth human, nay, Scottish, nay, even Wilsonian, prudence! Heaven’s great amusement is to make mock of it. Necessity obliged me to make inquiries before these people which led them to conclude I was going to Lord Shelburne’s; ed io anch’io, ‘and I, too, said the chambermaid,’ (for some such personage was she,) ‘am going to Lord Shelburne’s.’ Thank your stars you were not in my shoes; if you had been, not all the hartshorn in Godfrey’s shop would have recovered you. Je tins bon, but the chambermaid’s back being turned, I unbosomed myself, Gallicé, in pathetic strains, to Alexander Popham. Qu’y faire de cette femme ci? Quoique ce soit une femme, il n’y a pas moyen de la mener avec moi, cependant c’est precisement à cette maison là que je vais; voilà ce qui j’appelle une rencontre. It was some consolation, however to me, that the turpitude of my situation was shared with Alexander, who, upon first meeting, took care to enlarge upon the preeminence of stage-coaches to post-chaises,—of the former being the more expeditious vehicle,—of his being urged to have recourse to it by a disinterested innkeeper at Newbery, and of being determined by so pure a motive as the hope of company; had it not been for this, I should rather have attributed it to the expenses of a lost election. At parting, ‘to let you into a secret,’ says he, ‘I ought not, by right, to go so near, without paying my respects at the house you are going to; and I would not wish you to mention your having seen me. But how long do you think of staying?’—‘Indeed, I can’t tell; a month or thereabouts, it is not impossible.’—‘Ah, then,’ says he, ‘I hope we shall meet.’—‘Well, but why not now? Come, get into the post-chaise with me.’ The fact was, I should not have been sorry to have had him, supposing him upon such a footing, as a sort of instrument to break the ice with. However, he would not go. When I arrived here, the family were not at home; they were gone, at least the gentlemen were, to dine with Sir James Long, the nephew and hœres designatus of Lord Tilney. When my lord came in, he ran up to me, and touched one of my cheeks with his, and then the other. I was even satisfied with it, since he meant it kindly, and since such, I suppose, is the fashion; but I should have been still better satisfied if he had made either of the ladies his proxy.”
“Sunday, 12 o’Clock.
“Where shall I begin?—let me see—the first place, by common right, to the ladies. The ideas I brought with me respecting the female part of this family are turned quite topsy-turvy, and unfortunately they are not yet cleared up. I had expected to find in Lady Shelburne, a Lady Louisa Fitzpatrick, sister of an Earl of Ossory, whom I remember at school: instead of her, I find a lady who has for her sister a Miss Caroline V—: is not this the maid of honour, the sister to Lady G.? the lady who was fond of Lord C., and of whom he was fond? and whom he quitted for an heiress and a pair of horns? Be they who they may, the one is loveliest of matrons, the other of virgins: they have both of them more than I could wish of reserve; but it is a reserve of modesty rather than of pride. The quadrupeds, whom you know I love next, consist of a child of a year old, a tiger, a spaniel formerly attached to Lady Shelburne—at present to my Lord—besides four plebeian cats, who are taken no notice of, horses, &c., and a wild boar, who is sent off on a matrimonial expedition to the farm. The four first I have commenced a friendship with, especially the first of all, to whom I am body-coachman extraordinary en tire d’office: Henry (for that is his name,”—[the present Lord Lansdowne]—“for such an animal, has the most thinking countenance I ever saw; being very clean, I can keep him without disgust and even with pleasure, especially after having been rewarded, as I have just now, for my attention to him, by a pair of the sweetest smiles imaginable from his mamma and aunt. As Providence hath ordered it, they both play on the harpsichord, and at chess. I am flattered with the hopes of engaging with them, before long, either in war or harmony—not to-day—because, whether you know it or not, it is Sunday: I know it, having been paying my devotions—our church, the hall—our minister, a sleek young parson, the curate of the parish—our saints, a naked Mercury, an Apollo in the same dress, and a Venus de Medicis—our congregation, the two ladies, Captain Blankett, and your humble servant, upon the carpet by the minister—below, the domestics, superioris et inferioris ordinis. Among the former I was concerned to see poor Mathews the librarian, who, I could not help thinking, had as good a title to be upon the carpet as myself.
“Of Lord Fitzmaurice I know nothing, but from his bust and letters: the first bespeaks him a handsome youth, the latter an ingenious one. He is not sixteen, and already he writes better than his father. He is under the care of a Mr Jervis, a dissenting minister, who has had charge of him since he was six years old. He has never been at any public school of education. He has now for a considerable time been travelling about the kingdom, that he may know something of his own country before he goes to others, and be out of the way of adulation.
“I am interrupted—adieu! le reste à l’ordinaire prochain.”
“Friday Evening, August 25th, or thereabouts.
“On Monday we went to Wilton, as proposed—Lord S., Blankett, and I, in my Lord’s coach with hacks. It was not as I had at first apprehended. My Lord was almost as much a stranger at Wilton as myself: he had been there but once before, and then without acquaintance. Lord Pembroke’s defection from the court, had begun an intercourse in London, and this visit was the first fruit of it in the country. We set out at six: got there to breakfast, (it is about twenty-six or twenty-seven miles off,) and stayed to breakfast the next morning. It was seeing the place to some advantage, having the master and the mistress of the house for cicerones. A very pretty part of the gardens, planned and just finished by Lady P—, is not shown to strangers. At dinner, the only company besides ourselves were, an officer who was quartered at Salisbury, (a Major North of the 4th Dragoons,) and young Beckford of Fonthill, who, on the 28th of this month, comes of age, and gives a grand fête to all the world. The family consist only of Lord and Lady P—, Lord Herbert who is with his regiment, and Lady Charlotte, a little girl of nine or ten years old, who is at home. It is odd enough, that though he and she are by no means on good terms, they should neither of them have a creature with them. Lord P— is one of the best bred, most intelligent, pleasant fellows, I ever met with in my life; they say he is mad, but, if his madness never shows itself in any other shapes than it did then, I wish to God I could be mad too. He talked with infinite vivacity and légèreté, saying many good things and no foolish ones.
“I got a most exquisite lesson in the art of small talk from the breakfast conversation of Lord S. and Lady P., (Lord P. being absent for near an hour.) They had been old cronies twenty or twenty-five years ago, and had never come across one another since: you may imagine what stories they had to ohop and notes to compare. In those days Lord S. used to frequent Marlborough House. You know the genealogy. Lady P. and Lady Di. Beauclerk, sisters to the present Duke of Marlborough. It was pleasing enough to contemplate, at leisure, the remains of a beauty which was one of the first that I remember to have heard celebrated, au sortir de l’enfance. Lady P. and Lady Egremont—whom also I shall probably have the opportunity of being acquainted with—were the two heroines of a copy of verses, which I remember made some noise at Tunbridge, when I was there with my father about twenty years ago.* She is grown fat, and, by that means, a little out of shape; but she has still a fine face, and very fine light brown hair, which she wears neatly done up without powder, to serve as evidence of youth. To apologize for the attention with which I surveyed her, and to make up for the little I could have to say upon such topics, I threw into my looks as well as I could, an air of respect mixed up with a small dash of tenderness. She is at that time of life at which a woman thinks herself obliged to any man who will give her to understand that he thinks her still desirable. It was by this manœuvre, I suppose, that I escaped contempt: for it did not appear to me, that I was looked upon as others who had so much more to say for themselves. They (I mean Lord and Lady P.) are to be here in the course of the summer, but separately; it being so contrived, thinking it would be the more agreeable to them.
“The Duchess of Bedford is also to be here; she is, you know, related (I don’t know yet precisely in what manner) to Lady Shelburne; so also, I believe, is a personage of a nature very disparate to the former—I mean Dunning; I mean that he is expected here. You have in the newspapers of a day or two ago, a mighty pretty paragraph, about the duchess being all summer long in town; the fact is, she is at Woburn. Yesterday, we had at breakfast old Sir Edward Bayntum; to-morrow, we have at dinner Sir James Long, nephew and hæres designatus to Lord Tilney. This morning, went away honest Jo. Townsend, a parson, brother to the alderman;* we found him here on our return from Wilton, on Tuesday. He seems a very worthy creature, has been a good deal abroad, and has a great deal of knowledge; his studies have lain a great deal in the same track with mine; he is a utilitarian, a naturalist, a chemist, a physician; was once what I had liked to have been, a methodist, and what I should have been still had I not been what I am; as Alexander, if he had not been Alexander, (I am wrong in the story, but never mind,) would have been Diogenes. In short, we have become great friends, and he has given me the carte du pays. There is a mixture of simplicity, candour, and a composed earnestness, tempered with good breeding, that has won upon me mightily; and upon the terms of my indulging him in his patriotism, and antipathy to your countrymen,† (some of whom, however, he has a great respect for,) I am apt to think we shall be fast friends. He is to come here again ere long, that I may cast an eye over a work of his, part of which is printed; and he, in return, is to assist me in the revisal of mine, which he enters into the spirit of most perfectly. He has made me promise to go over and see him at his living, which is about fourteen miles from hence. Lord S. and Barré, when he comes, are to go and dine there: I shall then go with them, and stay behind them for a few days. Blankett is to go on Monday. I am glad of it; he seems to be an honest sort of man enough, but has one of the most confused heads I ever met with, and he embroils every topic that is started.
“The master of the house, to judge from everything I have seen yet, is one of the pleasantest men to live with that ever God put breath into: his whole study seems to be to make everybody about him happy—servants not excepted; and in their countenances one may read the effects of his endeavours. In his presence they are as cheerful as they are respectful and attentive; and when they are alone, you may see them merry, but, at all times, as quiet as so many mice. I have no need to rue the rencontre mentioned in a former sheet; for, to such a poor devil as I, they are as respectful and attentive as if I were a lord. The mistress has more reserve and less conversation, but as much mildness as the master. The only instances of fire I have seen him exhibit, have been when he has been declaiming about politics; yet, though I frequently oppose him, and scarce ever join with him, he takes it all in the best part imaginable. I will tell you how the matter stands between the P— of W— and Perdita. The common story is that she has got letters of his, in which he speaks disrespectfully of the king; and that she is making use of them to extort money from him. This is not the case; but the fact is, that she has a direct promissory letter for £20,000, written, I think it was, before possession. This is what Lord P— told us on Monday. Before he left town, he called on Lord Southampton to pump him about it. Lord S. could not immediately see him. Meantime came in Lord Malden, who was come as plenipo for the lady, for the express purpose of negotiating the matter with Lord S. Lord P— descried his errand, as he says, and, by pretending to know more than he did, picked the story out of him.
“As to myself, I have hitherto been completely idle, and that partly from inclination, partly upon principle. Strangers are lodged in a part of the house quite separate from that which is inhabited by the family. Adjoining to my bed-chamber I have a dressing-room, and should have a servant’s room if I had one to put into it. They are plain but neat, spacious, and convenient. The dressing-room I make my study. People here do just what they please—eat their meals either with the family or in their own apartments. The only gêne I feel is, that which conscience imposes of dressing twice a-day—that, you know, eats time.
“We learnt at Wilton that Lord Porchester comes off with little loss; the witnesses against him discredited themselves.”
“Lord Bristol is here—a most excellent companion—pleasant, intelligent, well read, and well bred—liberal-minded to the last degree. He has been everywhere, and knows everything. Sir J. Long is a little stiff-rumped fellow, and knows nothing—except persons, and so forth, in the Q. S. Pian style. Lord B. has with him one of his sons—a fine boy of twelve years old—who is just going to sea.”
“Bowood, Saturday, 26th August, 1781.
“The revenue of the Bishoprick of Derry is, at present, £7,200, and, in a few years, will be £9,000; the patronage, £14,300; none of the livings less than £250; some £8, £10, £12, up to £1500. Of all the advowsons in his diocese, he has forty; some lay-lord, five; and another, I forget who, two or three. This, from the honest bishop, who, at the same time, declares it to be a wonder and a shame that the clergy should be suffered to remain in possession of so much wealth. Of the above parsons, scarce one resides. They pay a curate £50 a-year, which, he observes, according to their own estimation, is what the service that is done is worth.
“Lord B. says, he is well assured and persuaded that Necker acted corruptly—that, as minister, he borrowed of his own house at seven per cent., when the farmers would have lent at five per cent. Necker and Turgot (who, you know, died about eight months ago) were bitter enemies—this makes it the more generous for N. to speak of T. in the handsome way he has done in his pamphlet. What turned out Turgot, was a jealousy of Maurepas. When the Prince of Condé, who found himself affected by some of Turgot’s arrangements, raised the insurrection at Paris, Turgot went to the king, and got an order upon the Marechal de Biron, governor of Paris, for as many men as he chose to have: purposely, or through inadvertence, he failed to communicate this to Maurepas. M.’s jealousy took fire; and in two days Turgot was dismissed. Madame Blondel, who was closely liée with Turgot, took upon herself the blame; but all would not save him. Necker owed his dismission to the Parliaments—whose assumed negative in legislation his project of provincial assemblies went to supersede.
“The K. of F., who is timidity itself, is apprehensive of a quarrel with the men of the long robe. Caron de Beaumarchais, one of the busiest and most successful of intriguants, has realized (Lord S. says) to the tune of £30,000 or £40,000 a-year. He was sent over to get (I forget what) papers of consequence from De Morande; but that story you remember. He was even employed once in making up a quarrel between the K. and Q. of France, which had gone to such a length, that the empress queen was impliquée in it. At present, his interest is equal to almost anything. He is at the head of the project for publishing three magnificent editions of Voltaire’s works, at fifteen (twenty-five, I think it is) and forty guineas, with Baskerville’s types. He has sent Lord S. a number of proposals. Lord B. said, he had met with French officers, and seen letters from others, (Fayette was one who was mentioned on the occasion,) who all joined in giving the Americans the worst of characters: they had all the vices of the Athenians, said somebody, without any of their virtues. Franklin, it was agreed by both their lordships, had his situation to the last degree uncomfortable, despised and neglected by the French Ministry, thwarted and persecuted by Arthur Lee’s party, of whom he has been heard to say, ‘he could not have thought there had been so much malevolence in human nature.’
“Elliot has brought down a strange story of the Chancellor [Thurlow]—that he had promised a man a living—that afterwards he came to learn that the man (who was a Yorkshireman) had concurred in some of the opposition measures of that county, and that, therefore, he had revoked his promise. By way of contrast, the care was mentioned that Lord Northington took to make an equal distribution of church preferments to all parties. A strange circumstance in the story is, that Lord Loughborough went to the Chancellor, and forced him into it. The reality of the promise is mentioned as being so clear, that it was to have been confirmed by I know not what overt acts.
“Lord S. pretends to have heard from very high authority at New York, that Lord Cornwallis, being sick of his situation, had begged of Clinton to come in person, and gather the laurels that were ready for him; but that Cl. begged to be excused. Reported of Lord Mulgrave, when in Opposition, being introduced to the Queen of Sardinia: ‘On dit,’ said her majesty, ‘que Milord n’est pas bien à la cour.’ ‘Madame c’est la cour qui n’est pas bien chez moi.’ This was by Lord Bristol, who is uncle to Lord M.
“Lord B. assumed to me, (unless I much mistook him,) a principal share in the merit of carrying the Toleration Act through the Irish House of Lords. He was, in his own mind at least, for going further, and admitting them to all offices, that of Member of Parliament not excepted. Of a little more than three millions—of which, he says, the population of Ireland consists—upwards of two millions are Catholics, about 600,000 Presbyterians, and only about 400,000 Church-of-England men. He has made an exact enumeration of all the people in his diocese, distinguishing them according to their religions, occupations, sex, ages, and the like.
“Elliot says that Admiral Parker is loud in his complaints against Lord Sandwich for not giving him force enough. The royal visit was a contrivance of Lord S.’s to stop his mouth; but that it won’t.
“Elliot and Lord S. agreed that Lord Chesterfield is broken up, and gone to live altogether in the country. He says of himself that he is much obliged to the P. of W.; that he had not thought of his owing above £30,000 or £40,000; but that, in consequence of that affair, he had the advantage of knowing that it amounted to £90,000; that the notion of his being a short life, had brought all his creditors about him; that now he knows how his affairs stood; and seven or eight years, spent in the country, would set them right again; otherwise, going on in the notion of owing but £30,000 or £40,000, he should have ruined himself past redemption. Lord S. says that, on the breaking out of that affair, the king was exasperated to the highest degree, with Lord Ch.; that he had appointed a day for visiting him; but that upon that he broke the appointment, without sending any word.
“Lord B. told me that Lord Shannon used to send twenty-two or twenty-three Members to the Irish Parliament; but that, since the act, that influence was diminished.
“I write you everything higgledy-piggledy, just as it happens to come in my head. There is no end of the anecdotes, of all kinds, I hear about the politics, as well of France as of this country: about one in fifty I shall remember; the others will be lost to me.
“I wish I could get your great carcass, and squeeze it through a keyhole, like a fairy’s, that you might get by heart the things I hear, and give them back to me as I wanted them.
“Lord S. says that Lord Chatham, who governed everybody else with a high hand, was himself governed, in a manner, by the King of Prussia; who gave him information, and suggested ideas to him, even for his maritime operations. This appears from a suite of letters from the king to Lord C., of which Lord S. has either the originals or copies, and which I, I believe, may see.
“I mistook. Lord Porchester, upon Lord Pembroke’s account, lost about £3,500. Supposing that he should be ruined, he sent over an agent to the continent to look out for a retreat.”
“Monday, 27th August, 8 in the Evening.
“Last night came in, Elliot of Port-Elliot, St Paul’s friend. This morning, Lord Bristol and Blankett went away: Lord Bristol, I believe, to Oxford; Blankett to London, taking Hackwood (the Duke of Bolton’s) in his way. One of the most wrong-headed blockheads I think I ever met with; putting in his oar on every occasion, talking à tort and à travers, and spoiling every discussion that is started. Yet he is connected with many of the first people in Opposition, and, in particular, has the ear of the mâitre de la maison, to a degree I am sorry to observe. His great merit is the having been a lieutenant to Keppel, whose âme damnée he is, and has written paragraphs and pamphlets on his side. Before he went, he took me into confidence, and consulted me about a nonsensical project of his for discovering polished and commercial nations where Cook has been, and found none: the most absurd idea, supported by the most absurd arguments, in the most confused method, and in the most slovenly and awkward style. He it is who brought home the Rippon from the East Indies. He is personally acquainted with Rumbold and defends him without argument and without shame. Sed de hoc plus satis.
“Talking with Lord B. yesterday (nobody else in the room) about the riots, he took notice, that in the Scotch Assembly (National Ecclesiastical Assembly—what d’ye call it?) there were but two voices against the toleration. O yes, says I. I understood it was not with the clergy that it originated, but with a parcel of low-lived fellows of laymen in the neighbourhood of Glasgow. No, no, says he—not with them. With whom, then? With people here. These last words were pronounced with an air of mystery, and with a push of the voice. Who he meant, I cannot pretend to say. It cannot be the Ministry; for besides that, nothing could be more against their interests. If he had meant them, he would have spoken out. It could not, I think, be the Rockinghamites; it could not have been Lord G. G., for nobody could have thought of making a mystery of his name. I leave you to form your own conclusions.
Lord S. says that when he was in town, (about a week ago,) a Mr Oswald, who is a strong royalist, and much connected with Lord Mansfield, told him that it was a certain fact that the French had at last seen the necessity of supplying the Americans with money; that they had accordingly sent £600,000, and that if it reached them, there must be an end of all our hopes.”
“Tuesday, 28th August, 8 o’Clock in the Evening.
“ ‘An Historical Account of the Settlement and Possession of Bombay, and of the Rise and Progress of the War with the Mahratta Nation. Printed for Robson, New Bond Street, 1781.’ It is not yet published. Lord S. says it is by Master Pechell. It contains information which there is no other means of coming at: in that respect, it is valuable; but, for composition, it is, I think, the vilest stuff I ever met with. I have just read it. This is one of the pleasant incidents attendant upon great houses—meeting with unedited books, or books of the day, before they are to be had elsewhere.
“This morning came a packet to Lord S., from France. It contained two newspapers—the one a journal of the operations of De Grasse, from his sailing from France, to the day of the troops abandoning St Lucie; the other, a letter of Count Dillon, from that period to the taking of Tobago. The first man says:—‘The fort of St Lucie is so strong (what do they call it? Morne Fortune?) that it might bid defiance to 20,000 men; that it has cisterns, and I do not know how many other things, bomb-proof, and that part of it is undermined; but then he adds some other circumstances that are plain lies, viz. that there were 2,500 regulars in it, and as many sailors. It appears plainly, if not wholly, as a feint to draw our attention from Tobago. At this latter place, it looks as if we had made but a scurvy figure. The island was surrendered, without so much as firing a gun; though we had one post, Dillon says, extremely strong, and a defence of twenty-four hours might, as they had reason to expect, have given time to the fleet to arrive to their relief. On the other hand, their fleet appears, from the first paper, to have cut as scurvy a figure in the engagement with Admiral Hood. It talks of a fatalité, and then, again, of another fatalité; and so, I believe, to the tune of three fatalities, that prevented them from gaining the advantages they might have done; and yet this was written by an apologist of De Grasse.
“I believe I shall pack this off to-night. To-morrow, Elliot leaves this place—a modest, civil, good kind of man; sensible enough; but without those pretensions which one would expect to find in a man whose station in his country is so commanding, and political influence so great. He is modest enough in his conversation about politics, but desponding. He says he scarce ever looks into a paper, nor dares he, for fear of ill news.
“I have just been playing at billiards with Lady S. Miss V. looked on, but would not play, saying she never had played before. There is an event for you. By and by I shall come to telling you every time I buckle my shoe. I almost despair of getting them to the harpsichord. To-morrow, however, the house, I hope, will be clear; and then, perhaps, I may have some chance. The chess and the billiards were her own proposal; the harpsichord I must beg and pray for.
“The sheet is not filled, and you will grumble if I leave any of it blank. There seems no want of money here: grounds laying out, and plantations making, upon a large scale—a gate going to be made, with a pyramid on each side of it, for an approach to the house at six miles distance:—the pyramids to be at least 100 feet high. At this place, a road, which is to be made from the house, is to join the road from London to Devizes. This new road will leave Calne (through which the present road runs) on the right, and save a mile or two. I call it Egypt.
“In the way, you have deep valleys, with meadows and a water-mill at the bottom of them; and, on the sides, craggy rocks, with water gushing out of them, just for all the world as if Moses had been there.”
Bentham to his Father.
“Bowood,Friday,August 31, 1781.
A day or two ago, I received your letter, dated Brackley, August 25. I write this in expectation of its meeting you at Bath: as soon as I hear of your arrival there, I will see about fixing a day for paying my duty to you in person: as that will, I hope, be a speedy one, there will be the less occasion for my entering into any epistolary details; characters, therefore, and descriptions, and conversations, you will not now expect from me; I shall content myself with giving you a very short account of my motions, and the company we either have seen or expect to see. Yesterday se’ennight, (Thursday, August 16,) at four o’clock in the morning, I got into one of the Bath post-coaches: diligences there are none. At Marlborough, where we dined, I quitted the coach, took a post-chaise, and got here about light. The family consists at present only of Lord and Lady Shelburne; a little boy of theirs, who is no more than a year old; and Miss Caroline V., a half-sister of Lady Shelburne’s by the mother’s side. Lord Fitzmaurice,—the only child Lord S. has left by his first lady,—a youth not quite sixteen, is travelling over England, with a Mr Jervis, a dissenting minister, who has had the care of him ever since he was six years old. He is not to come to Bowood before the family leave it for the summer. Visiters there were none, except Captain Blankett, whom you know of: he left us on Monday last, but is expected again in October. On the Saturday, there dined here a Mr Bayntun, and Lady Mary his wife, daughter of Lord Coventry by the celebrated Lady Coventry, whom we used to hear so much of. She has nothing of her mother’s beauty. Mr Bayntun is the youngest son, but heir-apparent, of Sir Edward Bayntun, an old courtier, who has an estate in this neighbourhood. On Sunday, there was nobody. On the Monday, Lord Shelburne, Captain Blankett, and I, went in my lord’s coach to Lord Pembroke’s at Wilton. We got there to breakfast, and staid to breakfast the next morning: Wilton is about twenty-seven miles from Bowood. At breakfast, there was not a creature but Lord and Lady Pembroke; but at dinner came a Colonel North, who happened to be quartered at Salisbury, and young Beckford of Fonthill, who was to give a grand fête upon his coming of age, the 28th. This was the first visit Lord S. had ever paid at Wilton upon the footing of an acquaintance. Sunday, September 2d. On Tuesday, (August 21st,) on our return from Wilton, we found a Mr Townsend, a clergyman, a brother of the alderman’s. He has a living about fourteen miles off, and is upon a familiar footing here. He staid till the Thursday or Friday after. What I have seen of him, I like much; his thoughts have run pretty much in the channels that mine have run in. He was to go for three weeks into North-amptonshire; but he made me promise, that, on his return, I would go over and spend a few days with him. On Wednesday the 22d, or Thursday the 23d, I forget which, Sir Edward Bayntun breakfasted here. On Saturday, to dinner, came a singular sort of personage, who, not in Falstaff’s sense, but in another sense, may be termed a double man: I mean the Earl of Bristol, alias Bishop of Derry. He brought with him a fine boy of his, about twelve years old, whom he is just going to enter in the navy. On Sunday evening came Elliot of Port-Elliot; he who is knight of the shire, and puts in seven borough members for Cornwall. Lord Bristol went away on Monday, (the 27th,) as likewise did Blankett. Elliot staid till Tuesday after breakfast. On the Sunday, (the 26th,) Sir James Long, the nephew and hæres designatus to Lord Tilney, dined here. Since the Tuesday, I think we have had nobody, except yesterday, when we had to dinner a Mr Bull, who lives at Calne, and a Captain Onslow, late of the Blues, who is upon a visit to him. Oh, yes: on Friday we had a Mr Dickinson, a rich old Quaker in the neighbourhood, who called here and drank tea. Several whom I hear spoken of as being expected here, are Lord Dartry, Lord Camden, Dunning, Colonel Barré, Hamilton, late of Payne’s Hill, William Pitt the orator, Lady Warwick—Lady Shelburne’s sister, and the Duchess of Bedford. It was not till t’other day that I understood from Lord S., as we were sitting tête-à-tête after dinner, that there was a probability of her bringing the duke with her, which, he said, he hoped might be the case, ‘That the duke might have the advantage of making my acquaintance.’ Lord Dartry has been expected for this day or two. He is an Irish lord made out of a banker,—his name was Dawson: Lord S. speaks of him as one ‘with whom he is much connected.’ As to the other people, I have been successively told at different times when they have happened to be mentioned, that I should see them here; Lord Camden in particular, with a view to his looking over my book. This throws my departure to an indefinite distance. Indeed, I have no need to wish to be in a hurry to go away, as I am as much at my ease as I ever was in any house in my life; one point excepted, the being obliged by bienséance to dress twice a-day. I do what I please, and have what I please. I ride and read with my lord, walk with the dog, stroke the leopard, draw little Henry out in his coach, and play at chess and billiards with the ladies. My lord’s custom is to read to them after tea, when they are at work; and now nothing will serve him but, in spite of everything I can say, he will make them hear my driest of all dry metaphysics. He takes the advantage of my being here to read it in my presence, that I may explain things. This has gone on for several evenings. I must cut short; for while I am writing this in my dressing-room above stairs, they are waiting for me half-a-mile off in the library below stairs. You will, I dare say, excuse me; succinct as my letter has necessarily been, it is already not a short one. My best respects wait upon my mother. How fares it with our friends at Oxford?
“I am, Hon. Sir, your dutiful and affectionate Son,
“I forgot to mention that Lord and Lady Pembroke are also expected here. It is contrived that they shall come separate.
“Sunday, Sept. 2d, 1781.”
Bentham to George Wilson.
“September 5th, 1781.
“The ladies being retired, Lord S. and I are left alone in the dining-room. He is writing to his son; and I, having no son to write to, to keep my hands from mischief, will write to you.
“This morning, he had a letter from Blankett, telling me that there was certainly a foundation for the report of the insurrection in Peru, and asking him if he had not, or rather taking for granted that he had, received a copy of the Manifesto of the Insurgents from Sir John Hart—at Lisbon, is it, or Oporto? Blankett appears to have had it from Pinto the Portuguese Minister, with whom he is well acquainted. Pinto was at one time expected here; but, I believe, is not now.
Q. S. P.’s* are got to Bath at last. As to your fears about my conversion, they are altogether vain. This is all I can say about the matter at present—faute de tempe; for, when my Lord has done, I have done, as the packet is then closed.
“Yesterday, was it, or the day before? I forget which, we had a turtle, and, therefore, company to eat it—a Mr Methuen, and his son, and his son’s wife. The father was Member for some place, but has given up to his son: you will see him in the Bible. The son is married to a sister of your friend G—, that had the w— of a wife. With them came also young Bouverie, youngest son of Lord Radnor. Methuen, the father, has £16,000 a-year. Bouverie, when he comes of age, which will be in a few months, has £20,000, I am told. Among them all, they have not the tenth part of an idea. Young Methuen is the very model of my lord in the ‘Princesse de Babylone,’ except that, instead of my Lord’s crustiness, he seems to have good nature.
“No Lord Dartry yet; and Hamilton does not come this month. What think you of Lord G.G. opposing Clarke? Lord S. knows nothing of the latter: thinks it would be the best thing for him that could happen, dividing the Opposition party. Send me any election news you pick up, as, likewise, anything you can get from St Paul’s—ministerial news he may be more in the way of picking up than me. It will be shortest to direct to Shelburne House. Lord S. has just written to Dunning to ask him here.”
“Bowood, 10th September, 1781. Monday Morning, Nine o’Clock.
“I have just received yours of Friday the 7th. This is expeditions. I tremble at the threatened acquaintance with the Bennets—even Parson Bridges I would have gladly spared. If things go on thus, the post at Thorpe will be no longer tenable.
“I am distracted at the thoughts of losing Miss V—. She leaves us in a day or two; I fear, on Thursday. I had taken for granted her home was here; but Lord S. says it is at the Duchess’. She is gone to Lady Warwick’s, ‘because’ Lady W. is, some time or other, to lay in. Lay in, is it, or lie in? However, one of these days, it will come to our turn to lay in, and then we shall have Miss V— back again. She is not very conversible indeed, as I have already told you ten times over; but, then, she is very sensible, has great good nature in her, and is, altogether, one of the sweetest pictures to look at you ever saw. We shall be muzzy enough, I doubt, when she is gone. I can’t help pitying poor Lady S., who will not have a creature of her own sex to speak to. This will not, however, last long. There is another Miss V—, younger than this, whose name is Elizabeth. She is not so beautiful, I understand, as this, but a little upon the squat, as I learned from her similitude to a tree that I was commending. Lady Holland was another sister of Lady Shelburne. She, I believe, was by the same father, the Earl of Ossory. She, I understand, is dead, to the great grief of Lady Shelburne. So far so good; but, if my memory does not much deceive me, Lord S. told me yesterday that the Duchess of Marlborough again is another sister. Yes, he certainly did; but with the Marlborough family I see not the least sign of any communication. Perhaps, however, the Duchess of M. is only a cousin; being the niece of the Duchess of B. by another sister, as the Duchess of Grafton and Baroness Kurtzleben are. Be this as it may, sure I am that the Duchess of M. was spoken of by Lord S. as one of the ladies of whom the Duchess of B. had the breeding up. Lady Shelburne was with old Gertrude for nine years. What an exquisite brood that old hen has sat upon!
“Lord Dartry, I believe, is not now expected here; at least not yet awhile. Lady Dartry, I understand, is much in favour with the queen. Lord Camden is expected here on the 15th, Dunning on the 25th; Mrs Dunning comes a week before, to be here while her husband is at Bristol. I am kept here for the professed purpose of Lord Camden and Dunning looking over my book; hence it appears that I shall not, at any rate, leave this place till the month is out. As soon, however, as there is no particular reason assigned for my staying here, I intend to go: so that, by the first week in next month, it is probable we shall meet. This, however, cannot be, if Douglas and Trail are both with you at that time, since the house would not hold us all: tell me how that matter stands. When the Duchess of B. comes seems not to be yet fixed: there is some expectation that she will bring the duke with her. Lord S. said to me t’other day, as we were sitting tête-à-tête after dinner, that he hoped she would, ‘that the Duke might have the advantage of making my acquaintance.’ This, I have a great notion, I told you in my last; if I did, you must excuse me.
“So Lady Warwick, you see, is not to be here, as I once thought she was; it was not here that she and Miss V— were to meet, but at Warwick castle. Did you ever hear of this same Warwick castle as a place worth looking at? Lord S. has mentioned it to me as one of the most beautiful spots in England. I may possibly, one day or other, be able to tell you more about the matter; he has told me two or three times that he should be glad to show it me. This I should like well enough, I must confess, if it were only for the sake of seeing the fair owner. Lord W., he says, is a pleasant, good-natured, little man, and that I shall like him very well. Upon my asking about his political ideas, he spoke of him with some little regret as being a courtier; and of Greville, who is in the Admiralty, (I think—is it not?) as ‘a rank one.’ Is not all this very handsome? It would please you to see how attentive he is upon all these occasions to keep out of sight every idea of protection—everything that could give me to understand that he looked upon it as a favour done me to introduce me to these great people.”
“September, 13th, Thursday.
“Yesterday, came here, in the evening, a Mr Ernest—a heavy-looking, good-humoured sort of a German, intimately connected, somehow or other, (I can’t yet tell how,) with Count Bruhl, through whose means he became known to Lord S. In the chaise with him came his servant, also a German, who, before bedtime, got drunk, and deposited his carcass in the housekeeper’s room instead of his own. Going down stairs to a certain place after I had been up to bed, I met the housekeeper in the staircase, who, being a neighbour, opened her hard case to me. Finding remonstrances ineffectual, we got a couple of the men, who hauled him away, and left Mrs Housekeeper to her repose.
“Yesterday, also, came Parson Townsend. I have not yet had any private communication with him. Illness in his family prevented his intended journey into Northamptonshire. The same illness may, perhaps, prevent my visit to him.
“To-day came a letter announcing an intended visit from a certain Lord and Lady Tracton. This Lord Tracton is Lord Ch. Baron in Ireland. His father was an attorney, and did Lord S.’s business there.”
“Saturday Night, September 15th, (half after 10,) 1781.
‘Arrived here a little before, Lord Chatham, his brother, Will. Pitt, and Pratt, Lord Camden’s son, Member for Bath. I find they had none of them ever been here before. Do you know Lord Chatham? In his appearance, upon the whole, he puts me in mind of Dan Parker Coke; but he has his father’s Roman nose, and, if events should concur to make him have a good opinion of himself, will soon, I dare say, acquire his commanding manner: at present, one sees little more than a kind of reserve, tempered with mildness, but clouded with a little dash of bashfulness. Will. Pitt you know for certain; in his conversation there is nothing of the orator—nothing of that hauteur and suffisance one would expect; on the contrary, he seems very good-natured, and a little raw. I was monstrously frightened at him, but, when I came to talk with him, he seemed frightened at me; so that, if anything should happen to jumble us together, we may, perhaps, be good pax; which, however, is not very likely: for I don’t know very well what ideas we are likely to have in common. After beating Miss V—, I have just been beating him, at chess; an inglorious conquest, as he is scarce so much in my hands as I am in yours. Ernest and the rest of the people have been playing at crown whist. Supper being announced, I stole up here. Ernest, it seems, is the Saxon minister—an honest, good-humoured kind of man. I find it necessary to rise before six, and for that purpose go to bed by eleven. I lie on straw. Pratt has more distance and more suffisance than either of the others; yet there is a sort of giggishness about him too; he puts me in mind of a young Jew-broker in the city. About an hour after dinner passes now quite happily; as I have established a habit of accompanying Lady S. on the harpsichord, and she is pleased with it. She has nothing at present here but a shabby little spinnet, that I should be ashamed to use myself; but I have set her agog after a variety of new-fashioned harpsichords, and she vows to have some of them. There being nothing here in the fiddle way that is tolerable, she has made me send for mine to town.”
“I mistook about the time of Dunning’s visit: his wife does not come till the 24th, and he not till a week afterwards. He, therefore, will not be here till the 1st of October; allowing a week for his stay. I shall not leave this place till the 27th, when I am to pay a visit to Parson Townsend, from whom I shall hardly get away under a week. I shall then come to you en droiture, without going to town, provided always that your spare room is not occupied. On se dechaine ici most violently against Governor Cunningham; indeed his conduct at Barbadoes seems to warrant it. A brother of his, also in the army, used to be looked upon as a mignon of Lord G. G., in Germany, when Lord S. was serving there: Cunningham was very nice about his hair, which used to make Lord S. take a pleasure in discomposing it. Besides his connexion with Lord G. G., he is a toad-eater at Marlborough House, where he has entrée at any time, notwithstanding the reserve so remarkable in that family: the first time of his being there, he was invited for a week; he stayed six, in spite of repeated hints that he had stayed long enough.
“A story of Lord Bristol. Some time ago, coming from Paris directly to London, he carried a verbal message, as he pretended, from Franklin to—whom would you think of all men in the world?—Lord Spencer, telling him that, if he would come to Paris immediately, they two would be able to settle a Peace. Lord Spencer was very much distressed; could scarce credit the information; but willing to do what he thought right, thought he could not justify himself the taking no notice of it. He accordingly set out, and actually got as far as Calais; but the wind proving contrary, or some other obstruction arising, he fancied it impossible to get to Paris time enough, and so went back again. This, Lord S. says, he has from an authority which he is not at liberty to mention, but which he can absolutely depend upon. He has told it twice in my hearing; the last time, yesterday, to Lord Chatham. He accounts for it by the flightiness of Lord B., who, he says, is equally known for his spirit of intrigue and his habit of drawing the long bow. Indeed there does seem to be something of that in him; besides that, they say there is something of a crack in the brain runs through the family.”
“Sunday Morning, September 16.
“The hints thrown out by Lord S. in one of our tête-à-têtes in London, about offers made to entrap him, and which I was then disposed to look upon as a way of speaking, have, in some of our country tête-à-têtes, been particularized. To break the connexion between him and Lord Chatham, propositions were first made to the latter to come in with Lord S., afterwards to Lord S. to come in without Lord C. One day, when Lord S. was dining at Lord Beauchamp’s, Eden having been to Shelburne House, and not finding him at home, he followed him thither; calling him out, he said he came by order of the king; and made him three propositions: the first, to come in and act with Lord North and Lord Suffolk; another, to act with either of them without the other; and a third, to come in without either of them. This latter he would have accepted, had not his friends, some or all of them, been excluded. I know not whether Lord Chatham was living at that time, but I believe he was. Barré, he says, has been repeatedly and constantly refusing £3,000 a-year, which would have been given to him if he would have deserted Lord S. He values himself much on his friends, and on their mutual fidelity. With Alderman Townsend, he says, he has been connected twenty-two years; with Lord Camden, about twenty-one; with Dunning, eighteen; and with Elliot, I think, he added sixteen. Elliot brought in seven Members, he says, the last time. Gibbon he brought in for private friendship; though, as it turned out, much to his regret. Elliot offered, he says, to take his recommendation for some of them; but, at that time, he neglected the offer through despondency. At his outset, I myself, he says, could scarcely be barer of connexions than he was: his father had scarcely any others than with Lord Holland. At a former time, when he was laughing with Blankett and me about his being called Jesuit, I asked him who was his godfather on that occasion. This would be an occasion, if he thought proper to lay hold of it, for telling his own story about the rupture between him and Lord Holland, and so it proved. He said that Lord Holland, previous to his resignation, (the history of the day will show when that was,) of his own accord, for some reason or other, not specified, I think, by Lord S., mentioned his tedium of public business, and his wishes to resign; that, for some reason or other, it was convenient he should resign; and so Lord S. took him at his word. Having thus overreached himself, he was enraged, and inveighed against Lord S., as if it were he that overreached him. Lord S., I think, mentioned somebody as having been a witness, and as justifying him, but I forget whom.
“Yesterday morning, Lord S. spoke of a letter which he had received from an officer high in rank in the West Indies. He said that De Grasse, with twenty-four or twenty-five ships of the line, (he had had a reinforcement of six or seven,) sailed, on the 31st July, for New York. That Hood, with seven or eight, was only then on the point of setting sail. This looks bad, and was mentioned with great triumph. If you mention it, you must not say how you came by it; for the officer, whoever he be, would get a d—rap of the knuckles if he was known to correspond with us.”
“Monday Morning, September 17.
“Now, from other advices, we have altered Hood’s number from seven or eight to fifteen. At eight o’clock this morning, I received yours of Friday the 15th. You are a good fellow enough for the news you send me; but an ungrateful bear for pretending to complain of the shortness of my letters; while I, to the utter neglect of my whole business, spend whole mornings in cramming your insatiable maw with politics. It takes me, indeed, a monstrous long while to write a letter to you; for I have so many things I might write, that more time is spent in determining which of them I shall write than in writing. I have a hundred and fifty subjects at this moment which are ready to pull me to pieces for the preference. My notions of the characters of the people here; conversations about Sam and about myself; what sort of connexion I hope or wish to form or to preserve; these are topics I find myself continually solicited to touch upon, yet I think it better not to do it at all than to do it imperfectly. They will keep; and political stories that I chance to hear, if they were not set down instantly, would be forgotten. Your queries about my visit at Thorpe I have answered by anticipation, in a letter which will go with this. Send to Davies everything except what is mentioned as secret between us two, or marked with the initials of your name: but wait for franks from me unless you can get others.”
“Bowood, Monday, 17th September, 1781.
“Relation of an overture made by Lord North to the Rockingham party for a coalition, in the summer of 1780, as given by Lord Shelburne to Mr W. Pitt, on Sunday, September 16th, 1781, after dinner—present, Lord Chatham, Mr Pratt, and J. B.
“It was introduced with some little preparation, as if in compliance with a request made on some former occasion. Lord North, meeting his cousin Montague upon the steps of the House of Commons, went up to him and said, he was glad to understand there was a disposition among his friends to coalesce; that, if that disposition were real, he would authorize him to propose such terms as the Court meant on their part to insist upon. That, however indelicate it might sound in his mouth, yet it was necessary he should say, that, at all events, he must be continued where he was: that the case was the same with respect to Lord Sandwich. Or, if it should happen that the king could be prevailed with to give up Lord S., which he could not vouch for, he was sure it could not be done upon any other terms than that of a very honourable provision being made for him. That, in this case, whoever should come into the Admiralty, it must not be Admiral Keppel: that Charles Fox could not be received, at least immediately, into any of the high and confidential offices, such as that of Secretary of State; but that, as to any lucrative office out of the great line of business, such as that of Treasurer of the Navy, there would perhaps be no objection; that after the length he had gone, and the offences he had given, it could not be expected that his majesty should be immediately reconciled to the idea of a confidential communication with him; but that such a place as was suggested might serve him as a place of probation, and that it would give him opportunities of smoothing the way to a more perfect reconcilement.
“Thus far I am perfectly clear, not only as to the facts, but as to the colouring. This being reported to Lord Rockingham, he returned an answer of himself, without consulting with the party; my recollection is not clear as to the stipulations contained in it, but I think he stood out for Keppel, and insisted that the Duke of Richmond and Charles Fox should be secretaries of state. In all this, it does not appear that anything was said about Lord Shelburne. Upon Lord Rockingham’s communicating the offer and the answer to the Duke of Richmond, the duke blamed him for including him in such a proposition; whether as meaning that he would not serve the king on any terms, or not on those terms, I did not understand. The duke intimated, at the same time, that there ‘were other persons’ (meaning, as I understood, Lord Shelburne himself) with whom, considering such and such things, it would have been but decent to consult. It seemed to me that the information of this negotiation had come to Lord S., first from the Duke of Richmond; though it seems as if the matter had afterwards been the subject of discussion between the former and Lord Rockingham. The interpretation put upon Lord R.’s answer, whatever it was, is a matter of contestation between him and Lord S. Lord R. calls it an absolute rejection of the offer, and a virtual refusal to treat: Lord S. considers it as an acceptance of the treaty, and thereby as a sort of treachery, or, according to the footing they were then upon together, at least a violation of amity towards himself. Pitt or Pratt asking Lord S. what it was that in all this business Lord R. was expecting for himself, the answer was, Nothing that he ever heard of; clearly nothing, unless, perhaps, it might be that he had Ireland in view, on account of the advantage it might give him in thwarting the Absentee Tax; but this was not pretended to be anything but surmise. Was not this very creditable to Lord R.? From what I have heard of him, since I have been here, I am disposed to entertain a good opinion of him: I have heard a good deal against him in the way of general disapprobation; but as to any grounds for it, I have heard of none, but what appeared to me to be either inconsistent, nugatory, or unintelligible. Being asked what was to have been done for Burke, he answered that he was not clear; that certainly he was not to have been neglected, but that there was something of an inferior negotiation, in which he was more particularly concerned. The terms were so ambiguous, that I could not distinguish who were the parties, with whom he was meant to be represented as having been negotiating; whether the ministry, or the people of his own party; or even so much as whether he was himself a party to this under or interior negotiation, in which, in point of interest, he was represented as being concerned. There is a prodigious deal of ambiguity in the general tenor of Lord S.’s language on party subjects; whether genuine or affected I cannot be certain: I rather believe it genuine; because I find it the same on subjects in which party has nothing to do. As to the negotiation above-mentioned, it is scarcely necessary to add that the demands on Lord Rockingham’s side being such, no reply was given.
“In Burke’s pamphlet on the affairs of Ireland, at least in one of his late pamphlets, if I do not mistake, he tells us that Lord Rockingham had not apprised anybody of his determination to apply for the audience he had about Ireland with the king. Lord S.’s account of that matter is, that about one o’clock on that day, Lord R. came to him, to take his advice about it, mentioned his determination to demand the audience, but that he wished for Lord S.’s advice about what he should say; and to know, in general, whether he approved or disapproved of it. Lord S. observed to him, that it was too short a warning by much, for taking a step of so much importance; for, considering what it was then o’clock, they should not have more than half-an-hour to deliberate upon it. I am not certain whether it was not that Lord R. wished Lord Shelburne to go with him: whichever was the case, he confessed to us that, from reasons regarding his own reputation, he declined taking a part either way, on a sudden. Considering the importance that it might appear to be of to the nation, that the king should hear what information Lord R. had to give him, he, Lord S., did not care to have it said that he had put his negative upon it; and, on the other hand, there might, for aught he could satisfy himself about on a sudden, be other reasons, which he did not state, especially why it might not be advisable to him to be known to have concurred in it.”
“Bowood, Monday Evening, (half after 10 o’Clock, Sept. 17, 1781.)
“The whist-table is just broke up, supper is announced, the game at chess between Lord Chatham and Miss V—is drawing near to a conclusion, and, while the rest of the people are hovering round them, waiting for the event, I have taken French leave of them all, and stolen up here, that I may be a good boy to-morrow, and rise betimes. This Lord and Lady Tracton are the queerest jigs you ever saw: my lord wears his bobwig, black coat, and coloured worsted stockings, and looks like a plain, stout, thickset country parson. My lady is a little shrivelled figure, of about sixty—with a hook nose, and ferret eyes, a long white beard, and a parohment mahogany-coloured skin—in a gray riding-habit, with a black hat and feather. Nobody speaks to her, nor she to anybody; she has been sticking close to her husband’s side while he has been playing at whist, but would not play herself.”
“Tuesday Evening, September 18th.
“We have, just now, a monstrous heap of people. Departed before breakfast, Pratt and the Pitts. Remain, Lord and Lady Tracton. Arrived before dinner, Lord Dartry and Colonel Barré, seemingly in company. Arrived before tea, Lord Camden, Miss Pratt his daughter, and a Mr Smith, now or formerly a captain in the East India service. The carriages came in together; but whether Smith belongs to Lord Camden and his daughter I cannot tell; no signs of converse between them have I seen. Lord Dartry is a chatty sort of man, and seems to know everybody; does not seem to trouble his head about party, but mixes with the Government as well as Opposition men. His wife is a good deal in favour with the queen, and often with her. She is of the family of the Penns. Miss Pratt is very fat; not handsome nor very young: but well-bred, conversable, sensible, and, as far as one can judge, good-natured. Lord and Lady S., Lord Tracton, Lord Dartry, and Colonel Barré, have been at the whist table; the rest of us round the book table, à l’ordinaire, except that, for the last half-hour, Lord Camden has been walking in a passage-room with Barré. With Lord Camden I have had, as yet, scarce any communication; but, while the women have been at their work, I, with my book before me, have been joining in conversation occasionally with his daughter; and Lords C. and S., I observed, were in close conversation for some time, with looks that seemed to indicate that they were talking about me.”
“Wednesday Afternoon, 8 o’Clock.
“This morning, before breakfast, Lord and Lady Tracton took themselves off. Joy go with them; they were a pair of c—d sangliers, the latter more particularly to my dear Lady Shelburne, whose footsteps I adore. Miss V—, alas! leaves us the day after to-morrow, without redemption. I forgot to tell you of a dinner visiter we had the day before yesterday, a Mr Talbot, a name he had taken from an estate, instead of Davenport. He is a young man, but lately come of age. He has been to Christ Church in Oxford, and has now thoughts of going into the army. His family house is in the neighbourhood—at or near Cosham, where Methuen lives; it is an old monastery—one of the most perfect, they say, in England; it is a vast place; and the estate, though a nominal £2,000 a-year, is so reduced by encumbrances, as to bring him in, it is said, scarce £500; so that a profession is absolutely necessary to him. The man whom he has his estate from, was obliged to fly the country for Italian eccentricities. In the young man himself there is nothing that seems remarkable.
“Barré loves to sit over his claret, pushes it about pretty briskly, and abounds in stories that are well told, and very entertaining. He really seems to have a great command of language; he states clearly and forcibly; and, upon all points, his words are fluent and well-chosen. Lord Dartry is also intelligent and entertaining. They were talking over Irish affairs this afternoon; their conversation was instructive: when they differed, as they did now and then, about matters of fact as well as opinion, it was with great firmness and urbanity. I put a word in now and then to keep the ball up, and to avoid appearing a perfect ninny: but it was pain and grief to me. My health is, somehow or other, in wretched order. I scarce know how to get up early enough; even six o’clock is too late.
“Hyde Parker, it is said, (this is Barré’s story,) is not to have anything at all. Being offered the command of a fleet against the Dutch, he demanded a reinforcement, but was denied. Afterwards a reinforcement was ordered: then he declared himself willing to serve, but then they would not let him. This, Col. Barré said, he had from an officer who is intimate with Parker, ‘Ah, Johnny,’ (said the old man to his friend,) ‘it was a rare bout; ’twould ha’ done thy heart good to have seen it; there was not a shot that did not take effect on either side.’ ”
“September 24th, Monday Evening, half after 10 o’Clock.
“This morning, at eight, I received yours of the 20th; but let that pass. I will go on at present with my Journal. Thursday, nothing happened that I can recollect worth mentioning. No fresh visiters.
“On Friday, the prediction given of Miss V—’s departure in the last page was but too well verified. There was a little incident—no, I won’t go on with the sentence—a little piece of attention she showed me the night before, which, while it flattered my vanity, made me feel the loss of her the more sensibly.
“On the Sunday before, she and I had been playing at chess. Pitt, who did not play at the whist-table, and Lord Chatham, who cut in and out, had been occasionally looking on. After she had lost two games to me, which was as many as she ever had been used to play, she gave it up; whereupon Pitt proposed we should play, which we did, and I beat him.
“Finding he had no chance with me, he complained of its hurting his head, and gave it up immediately. Towards the close of the evening, Lord Chatham gave me a challenge. I accepted it. From something that Pitt had said, I expected to have found him an easy conquest, especially as there was something seemingly irregular in the opening of his game; but it was a confounded bite; for I soon found his hand as heavy over me as I ever have felt yours: in short, he beat me shamefully, and the outcries I made on that occasion were such as would naturally convey to other people a formidable idea of his prowess. Now, what is all this to Miss V—? Why, the next evening, Tuesday, Pitt first proposed a game to her; they played, and I don’t know which beat, but, after playing one game, she declined playing any more. The words were scarce out of her mouth, when Lord Shelburne, from the whist-table, by way of saying something, called to me, as if pitying me for not being able to get a game. Upon that day, each of them proposed I should play with the other. After some pour parlers, as Miss V— had before declined playing any more with Pitt, I thought it would be civiler to both of them for me not to make any proposal to her; so I asked Pitt, but he declined it, saying, as he did before, that his head would not bear more than a game at a sitting. Accordingly the chess board was laid aside, and we took to our books à l’ordinaire. About an hour, or an hour and a half afterwards, Lord Chatham, having cut out at the whist-table, came to the library-table and proposed to Miss V—to play a game with him. She consented, and they had just time to play a game before supper. He beat her, of course, though not with so high a hand as one would have expected. Tuesday morning, as I told you, Lord Chatham went away; and, on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, as Miss Pratt was there, and not playing at whist, I thought it not proper to say anything about chess to Miss V—. Well, now comes the mighty favour. On Thursday, towards the close of the evening, she called me to her, and asked me (which was what she had never done before) whether I would play a game at chess with her, observing that she had used me excessively ill in refusing me, and then playing with Lord Chatham. Mighty thankful I was, as you may imagine. We sat down immediately, and we were mighty sociable and merry; more so than I had ever observed her on any occasion before, insomuch that Lord Shelburne, from the whist-table, took notice of it, adding, that whatever was the reason, he never saw her laugh with anybody so much as with me. When I talked to her about going, and asked her what time it was to be in the morning, she said that I should not see her, for that it would be before I was up. Well!—and what of all this?—you will say; a fine long-winded story this is, à la mode de Bentham, to cook up about nothing at all. Why, to be sure it is; and if this had happened to some women, I should never have made any reflection on it, even in my own mind, much less have thought of boring you with it; but were you but acquainted with the girl, and à portée (as Clinton would say) to observe the extreme dignity, and coolness, and silence, and reserve, as much as is consistent with great good nature, (which it would be injustice to deny her,) you would then, and not otherwise, be able to estimate the value of any such little expression of complacency as I have been mentioning. Oh! and I have not told you either that it was by her means that I got upon the footing that I am upon of playing upon the harpsichord, (I mean upon the fiddle with the harpsichord,) every afternoon with Lady Shelburne; but that story I shall spare you: nor of the air of cordiality and attention with which she received the whisper in which I took my leave of her at night: in short, she actually took the sort of notice which no well-bred woman could have avoided taking of any man who was paying her a compliment of that sort. In the morning, you will have concluded, I made a point of being in the way to hand her to her carriage; but I did not, thinking it might be deemed an act of impertinence, and might give occasion to her maid, or people who did not know the great gulfs of a hundred and fifty kinds that are fixed between us, to prate.
“You can’t imagine what a reserve there is in the manners of this house, and how little there has been of gallantry towards her in the behaviour of all the men that have been here, young and old, as far as I have had occasion to observe.
“Lord Shelburne’s carriage took us but one stage; there it waited (it was at Malmesbury) for Miss F—, who is sent here from Warwick castle, (you will excuse me, but it really is the Earl of Warwick’s castle at Warwick, and not Captain Donellan’s in exchange.) Miss F— is a little girl, between thirteen and fourteen; a sister, and the only one, of the present Lord H—, who is about nine, consequently niece to C— F— and to Lady Shelburne, and great-niece to the Duchess of Bedford. The Duke of Bedford is now at this same Warwick castle; we shall hardly see him here, at least, I shan’t. She is very prettily made, and has already a very womanly sort of bosom, I assure you; as much so as a certain friend of ours at Brompton, notwithstanding the difference of age. By the by, I have a letter from that same friend at Brompton, who is a saucy slut, and tells me of her being just going to write to you, and that she likes you as well, ay, better, than she does me. Lord Shelburne introduced me to Miss F— in a more particular manner than he did anybody else, as a favourite of Miss V—’s. We are very good friends: she, too, plays at chess; she is very fond of it. We played yesterday; and, I suppose, shall be playing every evening. She seems a good-natured, pleasant kind of girl; but has not much to say for herself, as yet, as you may imagine. Her face—I had like to have forgot her face—is far from an unpleasing one; but the form of it, which is rather too long; a mouth, which is the F— mouth; and a set of teeth, which, though white, are rather too large, save her from being a beauty.
“On Friday, at dinner, we had again Mr Bull and Captain Onslow; and now, for the first time, a Mr Brooke, who was upon a visit to Mr Bull. Brooke is, or has been, something in the law; probably at the bar. I have a notion of having seen him taking notes in the King’s Bench—a little, dapper man, with a sharp face. Captain Onslow told me that Brooke had lately met the Q.S.P.’s at Bath, drinking tea at Mr Poole’s; a man who is a son of Sergeant Poole, had a good fortune, but was once at the Crown-office with Abbot. Brooke has a house somewhere in this country.
“On Saturday there dined with us, a Mrs Johns. Mrs Johns was a sort of dependant of Lord S.’s first wife; lives gratis in a little house of my lord’s close by; is a Methodist; comes a-begging to great people for money to give in charity; is a conversable woman, who has seen the world, and has court connexions. She has distributed money for the queen; and, though she has the dress and appearance of an upper servant, has had correspondence with all manner of great people, and could be made use of occasionally to put news about. This is the account Lord S. was giving me of her.
“On Sunday, nothing happened that I recollect.
“On Monday, Lord Dartry left us: it was he that pushed the bottle about, and not Colonel Barré. I beg the colonel’s pardon. He is a valetudinarian; finds it necessary to have a bottle a-day in his guts; is fond of religion, and of cards; does not know very well what to do with himself; hunts out oddities and knick-knacks, and frequents auctions.
“On Tuesday, in the morning, Captain Smith took his departure. He was once an East India director; he has a house in Bloomsbury Square, and another at Ashted, near Epsom. He found out that I was profoundly conversant with E. India affairs, (you know how profoundly,) offered me access to unedited maps and MSS. of various kinds, and gave me pressing and repeated invitations to both his houses; mentioning connexions that he had with people who were philosophical men, and would be glad to be acquainted with me. Shall I go? I can’t tell; we’ll talk about it. He wrote a pamphlet once on India affairs, which Lord S. had taken notice of as one he approved of mightily, and never knew Smith to be the author till Monday night. It is entitled—‘Observations on the Present Posture of Affairs in India,’ 8vo.
“The same morning, Lord Camden and Miss Pratt went off to Beckford’s at Fonthill; but they return to-morrow, or next day. Beckford, I told you before, was to have a grand fête on the 27th or 28th, upon his coming of age. Lord Camden went yesterday, in order to be before the fête; I suppose on account of Miss Pratt’s not being prepared for it in the article of clothes. Lord Shelburne goes on Friday and returns the next day. Lord Camden likes all these bustles; Lord S. not. Nor would he go, I believe, but in view of fixing or drawing young Beckford into his party. Between him and old Beckford the alderman, you know, I suppose, that there was an intimate connexion.
“This was the day that Lord S. was to give the second and last treat to his corporation people; the first had been given since I have been here. Having missed that opportunity, I was very glad of this occasion of being witness to such a scene. I accordingly went and dined at Calne with my lord and Colonel Barré. We drank tea at Mr Bull’s, and, coming home, found Mrs Dunning. She had left her husband at Bristol, and he is expected on Friday or Saturday. She plays on the harpsichord most divinely. I have just been accompanying her.
“Well, but I must go down—Miss F— is waiting for me. Parson Townsend came to-day to dinner; and now we shall probably settle a day for Lord S. and Barré to go and dine with them; and that will probably fix the date of my departure from this place. What do you think I heard from Barré yesterday in the coach? that Mrs Armestead had taken, or bought, Lady Tankerville’s, on St Anne’s Hill; so that you will have her for a neighbour. Who pays for it, whether Lord Derby or the prince, I have not learnt. Send these two sheets to Davies, as soon as you get a frank, together with all the others which are not exclusively to yourself. The copying machine does not do.”
“Bowood, 28th September, 1781.
“One of Lord Shelburne’s channels of American intelligence, is through General Grey, with whom he appears to be on a footing of some intimacy. Grey is, at present, at Plymouth, and from thence sends him letters which he (Grey) has received from America. Lord Camden was giving instances that have come very lately within his knowledge of the freedom used at the Post-office with letters that come from thence. In one letter, which he seemed to have seen, a part was actually cut out; but it was managed so clumsily, that what remained announced the contents of what was taken away. Lord S. was telling me, upon a former occasion, that there was a whole department in the office on purpose for that business.
“The same accounts still continue that we have heard before, of Clinton’s eccentricities: that he shuts himself up for three or four days together, and is seen by nobody. It seems to be true that he has recalled Lord Cornwallis, either through jealousy or necessity. A paper received by Lord S. makes Washington upwards of 11,000 strong, including 4000, and, I think, two hundred French, but exclusive of militia: pieces of cannon, eighty-six. I saw the particulars in his hand; but I must not think of copying. There was a talk of 7000 or 8000 militia. Clinton was said to have about 9000 men that he could spare from posts and garrisons. Washington’s vicinity straitened him, it is said, for provisions; and that was mentioned as the chief reason for his recalling Cornwallis.
“When Lord Bristol came here, it was, as he said, to thank Lord Shelburne for favours; I mean the share he had in getting him the bishoprick. When the late Lord Bristol was Lord-lieutenant, the bishoprick being vacant, he got a promise of it from the king. Meantime, Lord Townsend succeeded; and he, regardless of his predecessor’s promise, made interest for somebody else. Lord Shelburne, when Secretary of State, reminded the king of his promise, and obtained the necessary document, which he sent over without delay. After this, Lord S. thought himself well entitled, upon the present occasion, to ask Lord B. for an Irish living, which he wants just now to satisfy the cravings of a man of Calne, who has a son a parson, and whose political chastity is assailed by Robinson of the Treasury. Lord Bristol changed the discourse, and would not hear him. This is exact: having heard Lord S. repeat it two or three times, Barré says, and says it seriously, that now he has some chance; but that, had Lord B. promised, he would have none. Everybody seems to be agreed about two things: that he is touched in his noddle, and that he draws a long bow.
“Lord Dartry says, the Irish exports, by the last accounts, were four millions a-year. Barré doubts, but Lord Dartry insists. Barré says he will write over to know.
“Some time after Lord Hertford had been Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, umbrage had been taken by the House of Lords there at something relative to one of their clerks. Being closely interrogated, he confessed at length, with much agitation, that the profits of his place were not what they might seem to be; for that, on being appointed to it, he had been forced to undertake for paying so much to Lord Beauchamp, whether a gross sum or an annuity, I forget. The House, therefore, transmitted a state of the case, with a complaint, to be laid before his majesty. It came, as in course, to Lord Shelburne; he being then Secretary of State. Lord S., from a notion of decency, thought proper, before he presented it, to give notice to Lord Hertford. He, accordingly, wrote a note to Lord H., saying that he had some particular business which he wished to talk to him about, and that he would be glad either to wait on him or to receive his visit. Lord H., little thinking how nearly it concerned him, gave rather a cavalier answer, appointing Lord S. to wait on him. What passed afterwards was slurred over in an obscure way, as usual; but so it was, that the complaint was stifled (as Lord S. says he must acknowledge to his shame,) and never reached the king. This is odd enough; for how came the Lords, when they saw it stick, not to follow it up? This was told after dinner to-day, in presence of all the company, except the ladies. Lord Beauchamp, it was also said, rides an Irish bishop. This the bishop bolted out one day, out of patience with hearing himself accused of stinginess for not living up to the apparent value of his income.
“Lord Dartry says, Penn, the proprietor, is living in Philadelphia in a state of the utmost indigence. After paying rent-charges created in favour of younger children, &c., or what encumbrances there are, he does not receive so much as £200 a-year. This is what Lord Dartry is in a way to know; Lady Dartry being a great-granddaughter of the first Penn’s.”
“Saturday, September 29.
“On Thursday, (27th,) pretty early in the morning, came from Bath a Mr Hodgson: he was kept to dinner; and Lord Shelburne, not to be bored with him, consigned him to my hands. He is going on a secret expedition, the destination of which appears clearly, from circumstances, to be some place in the narrow part of the Spanish main. He is to have the conduct of it, together with the command of a regiment, and is to embark in about a week from Falmouth. His business at Bath was to settle some matters relative to it with Knox, Lord G. G.’s secretary. Dealing in generals, he says it will be but a small affair at first, but he hopes it will swell to something greater: doubtless by the accession of Indian, or other malcontents, as you will see. From circumstances which it would take up too much time to enumerate, he was led to place a confidence in me; and even, however odd it may seem, to look up to me as a sort of protector; and, in consequence, he gave me, for me to give to Lord S., two papers open, of which the following are extracts.
“One is a copy of a letter to Lord Hillsborough, dated September 10, 1781, in which he speaks of his having been informed that he is again to be sent on service, and therefore desires Lord H. would witness for him to Mr Knox of the truth of the following particulars:—
“ ‘1st, That the first matter which brought him to his lordship’s notice was a survey he took,’ (when employed as an engineer,) ‘of all the Spanish coast, from Honduras to Puerto Bello, together with a geographical account of it; which,’ says he, ‘were put into your lordship’s hands, and I never made any other use of them.
“ ‘The next was the manner in which I ventured, against every local opposition, to execute the 17th article of the peace, by which I gained the time for your lordship’s interposition in favour of the Mosquito shore to have its effect—that of saving it to the crown.’
“He then speaks of ‘the manner in which he afterwards undertook the superintendency of that country; that he was asked to go; that some time after, when he had again come into his lordship’s hands, he made no hesitation, at his lordship’s instance, at leaving his military commission behind him, and going out in a manner which his lordship thought better for the public service.’ The case was, I suppose, that the treaty did not allow his going out in a military character, and so he was to hug the Indians underhand. He talked to me about the opon house he used to keep for the Indians.
“That after his accepting his ‘letter of instructions,’ his lordship presented his memorial to the king, for military rank.
“Lastly, that he was turned out of his superintendency in the manner stated in a letter to Mr Knox, which he encloses. I should have said, he began with observing, that what Knox himself could know of him was little more than that, as far as his conduct had relation to the late sad Nicaragua expedition, it had been satisfactory. (In talking, after dinner, he computed the loss in men to be 4000, including what were lost with Walsingham; and in money £500,000.)
“In the other letters to Knox, dated July 28, 1781, he refuses having any concern in the expedition in question, with one Lawrie, who appears to be the present superintendent. He says, that Lawrie is ignorant and incapable; that he has been labouring under a proclamation, under the great seal of Jamaica, for forgetting his allegiance, and erecting a new government; and was also officially accused by ‘him (Hodgson) to the Secretary of State, of rebellion.’ That Lawrie got Hodgson turned out of that place, and himself put into his room, by alleging that he was absent from his duty, and so the country left without a superintendent; when, in truth, not only was he there all the time alleged, both before and after, but another person was sent by the king to be his ‘locum tenens,’ in case of his ‘coming home to give informations;’ and that Lawrie had imposed upon the Board of Trade, (on that or some other occasion,) ‘as an answer from Hodgson to his memorial, a paper written a year before that memorial.’
“H. is to write Lord S. an ‘account of his expedition,’ and there is a chance of his letters being addressed (enclosed at least) to me.
“Hodgson told me he was first of all taken up by Lord Shelburne, but what appointment he got from him at first does not appear. Afterwards, he says, he was to have been the man with whom, in connexion with Macleane, the business was to have been managed with the Marquis d’Aubarede; but, upon examination it was found that d’Aubarede had undertaken far too much, and that he had not the credit with the people he pretended to have.”
“Upon mentioning this to Lord S., a day or two ago, as what Hodgson had told me, he did not directly confirm it; but he denied it in such a manner as made me rather conclude it to be true. Speaking of him in company, Lord S. said, he had given him a little place, but did not mention what. He must have meant, I think, the superintendency Hodgson mentioned in his letters. Lord S. says, he is a little maddish; it may be so, but I see nothing but what appears to me full as sober and consistent as anything about his lordship. His writing, indeed, is bad, but his discourse is better. His knowledge seems to be pretty extensive, and his observations just—his constitution is of iron; which is a capital point in the service he is to go upon. He went once to Omoa with a flag of truce: thirteen men whom he had with him all died. Another time, of three who went out hither, not one came back. I asked Lord S. whether there was anything against him; he said no. Yet, although he has constantly corresponded, which is all that a man in that situation could do, he seems not to be in favour.
“1781, September 29.—Miss Pratt, Bowood, to J. B., ibid. Challenge given in drollery, under the name of Brookes:—
Your ungentlemanlike behaviour, the last time I dined at his lordship’s, did not pass unnoticed. I am, sir, a man of honour, though, I believe, you did not think so. Sir, behind the lodge is a convenient place, where I shall expect you to give me satisfaction for winks and nods, and, in short, sir, behaviour that I don’t understand, and won’t take tamely. Swords or pistols, choose your weapons, as they are equal to your humble and offended servant,
“ ‘J. Brookes.
“ ‘Calne,September ye 29th.
“ ‘By seven o’clock to-morrow I shall be at the place appointed. No seconds.’ ”
Bentham to his Father.
“Bowood, 30th September, 1781.
To-day, at dinner, I had the favour of yours of the 29th, as to my not seconding my last letter sooner. My own reproaches anticipated yours; but the fact is, it is with the utmost difficulty I have been able to find time for even this short tribute of duty, whatever it may prove. All the time I can get in the morning before breakfast, I find it absolutely necessary for my health to devote to exercise. Nor is even that always enough; for between breakfast and dinner, even although there should be no party made for anything, I sometimes find it necessary to get on horseback and shake myself. It is but now and then that I have been able to get a morning to bestow upon any book, or on a few letters which, for one purpose or another, I have had occasion to write. After dinner, while the gentlemen are still at their bottle, I steal away to the library, where I meet Lady Shelburne, and wait on her to her dressing-room: there we have music of some kind or other, unless there happen to be ladies in the house who are not musically disposed. When the gentlemen leave the dinning-room, or, if the weather permit of it, have done walking, we meet them again in the library to drink coffee; after which, unless Lady Shelburne wants me to make one at whist, it is absolutely necessary I should be in readiness to play at chess with Miss F., whose Cavaliere Servente I have been ever since she came here from Warwick castle in exchange for Miss V—. Our company consists, at this present writing, of the persons following:—Lord Camden, Miss Pratt, and Mr Pratt, (his Lordship’s son and daughter,) Mr William Pitt, (Lord Chatham’s brother: there are such a heap of Pitts, it is necessary to distinguish,) Mr Banks, (your Banks,) Colonel Barré, Mr and Mrs Dunning, Mr and Mrs, and two Miss Sturts, (Sturt, member for Dorsetshire,) Miss F—, (the daughter of Stephen, the late Lord H—,) I have already mentioned. All these, Miss F—excepted, are actually at supper. Mrs Dunning came on Tuesday; she is just ready to fall to pieces. Mr Dunning to-day after dinner, very much fatigued with the hard work which you have seen and heard of. Mrs Dunning is a perfect mistress of the harpsichord, and a very agreeable woman, though not very young nor handsome; but that’s Mr D.’s concern, not mine. Miss Pratt sings extremely well, and plays on various instruments; she is lively, sensible, good-natured, and has every accomplishment but beauty, in which, however, she is not remarkably deficient. Miss F—is a sprightly good-natured little girl, not fourteen, but forward for her age; she too plays on the harpsichord.
“Monday, half after ten at night.
“By to-morrow a whole posse of people will be gone, some of them to my very great regret, among them Mrs Dunning and Miss Pratt. Mr and Mrs Dunning went off in a violent hurry this morning, under the apprehension of Mrs D.’s being brought to bed. If it had not been for this accident they would have staid some time. I had not an opportunity of exchanging ten words with him, so that I had not time to make an acquaintance with him, which was what, for Mrs D.’s sake much more than for his, I greatly coveted. Miss Pratt, while she was here, drew Miss F—’s picture, and has just been making me a present of it. Before coffee was over, they made me leave the company, and come with them into Lady Shelburne’s dressing-room, where we very frankly avowed to one another our regrets at parting. There we had been about an hour, when Lady S. stole away from the company, and staid with us almost another hour, leaving the Sturts to take care of themselves! She took the precaution, however, to cut them out employment, some at cards, some at chess, that they might not come and interrupt us. They are but odd sort of people: Miss Sturt has been suffered to fancy she plays in a superior manner upon the harpsichord, without having the least notion of it. Would you have thought of my being in such favour with the ladies? yet so it is; and, to crown all, it was under favour of a good word which was put in for me by Miss V—, notwithstanding all her reserve, that I first got the entrées of this same dressing-room, which I am so fond of.”
“This morning departed Lord Camden and Miss Pratt, the Sturts, Will. Pitt, and Banks; it was the first time of Banks being here. Mr Pratt stayed after the rest, but goes away to-morrow. Mr Hamilton is expected here in a day or two. It was at Fonthill t’other day, I believe, that Lord Shelburne first met with Banks; and it was from seeing him with Pratt and Pitt, who were come with him from Kingston Hall, (Banks’ house,) that he took occasion to invite him here. There he likewise saw Count Cernichef, and had some conversation with him, but did not invite him hither, though, as he says, he ought to have done it. It was rather odd he did not, considering the notice he takes of foreigners in general. The reason he mentioned was, the awkwardness of his having his Polish tutor with him. Some little time ago, I had the pleasure of hearing of you from a Mr Brookes. You know, I suppose, that I must be at Oxford before the 17th, and on what account. I wrote to Poore, as he desired me. How I shall be disposed of in the mean time, I do not exactly know; but my paper is at an end. Pray send me back Wilson’s letter.—Yours, &c.
Bentham to Geo. Wilson.
“Bowood,October 2d, 1781.
“It was a cursed foolish thing of me to set myself such a task as that of sending you a diary of everything that passes here; and, now, I do not recollect where I left off. Oh, I think it was on Saturday that I despatched my letter, and I think I told you of Banks coming in from Fonthill, with Pratt and William Pitt.
“Sunday, September 30th.—Came in to dinner a whole heap of Sturts, likewise from Fonthill: Mr and Mrs Sturt, Miss Sturt, a girl of seventeen or eighteen, and Miss Eliza Sturt, about eleven. Banks, it appeared, is intimate in that family. After dinner came in Dunning, piping hot from Bristol.
“Monday, yesterday, 1st October—a party of us went to Methuen’s, at Cosham, about five miles from this place, to see his pictures. It is a famous collection, made by Sir Paul Methuen. The family were not at home: they are at Lord Boston’s, who married a daughter of Methuen’s; I should have said Methuen’s daughter, as he has but one. The party consisted of Lady Shelburne, Lord Camden, Miss Pratt, and Miss F—, in Lord S.’s coach; Pratt, Pitt, Banks, and your humble servant, on horseback. On our return, to my great mortification, we found Mr and Mrs Dunning were set off for London. It was absolutely necessary. Mrs Dunning and her maid were expecting every hour to fall to pieces.
“Tuesday, October 2.—In the morning, before breakfast, Lord Camden and Miss Pratt went off for Herefordshire; Banks and Pitt for Kingston Hall, Banks’ house in Dorsetshire; the Sturts to their house, which is four miles from Kingston Hall.
“Wednesday, Oct. 3.—This morning, before breakfast, Pratt went off for Bath, where he is gone to cultivate his belly: so that there is nobody left but Barré and I. Sir E. Bayntun has been breakfasting here. One would think he came here as a spy of the court; for he always comes at breakfast; the time that people are collected together. This is, at least, the sixth time of his breakfasting with us since I have been here.
“I see, by the Dutch papers that are come to-day, that the Dutch despair of saving their Prince William. This will be a great loss to them, as she is one of the most capital ships they have, or can have; a seventy-four.
“Affairs seem to wear a very unfavourable aspect in Minorca. Barré’s character of Murray is, that he is obstinate and wrongheaded, but brave to desperation. He has seen a letter from Draper to a person here, who is a government man. Draper says that the effective men in garrison are but 1500 regulars; consisting, upon Barré’s computation, of two battalions English; three of Hanoverians: upon paper, 2400. The Spanish account speaks of 400 of the latter deserting. God forbid this should be true! Draper writes that, with infinite perseverance, he has succeeded in putting and keeping himself upon good terms with the general; but that he is the only man in the island who is so, reckoning as well the army as the inhabitants. Barré, who has been in the island, speaks of Fort St Philip as being excessively strong; the garrison covered everywhere in a surprising manner: that the fault of it, if it has any, is that of being overworked; the souterrains so intricate, that a man must have a better head than the governor to understand them.
“This morning (Wednesday) I received yours of Saturday, September 29. As to all that concerns my adventures in the family, and the footing I am upon, I must be as concise as possible; there would be no end in giving the details; and, as these are things there is no danger of my forgetting, there is no occasion for it. What I fill my letters with, in preference, are anecdotes concerning persons, places, number, weight, and measure—which, relating to persons I have no personal acquaintance with, and therefore making but a faint impression, might be lost, if they were not quickly consigned to paper; temporary ones more especially, as, for example, the foregoing. The greater part, however, are inevitably lost, either on account of their being but imperfectly heard, (for my hearing is, in reality, very dull,) or but imperfectly related; the relaters having their reasons for not being perfectly explicit, or, in short, but imperfectly remembered. A disadvantage I labour under is, the want of power to cross-examine. A thousand considerations intervene to limit the exercise of this power, which, however, I do exercise, at least as much as is agreeable to the deponents: the fear of being troublesome; the fear of galling them, by obliging them either to give an answer, apparently evasive, or to betray anything which would subject them either to disrepute, or some other inconvenience.
“Suffice it that I tell you, in very general terms, that with Dunning I could have no communication; there was no time for it, except a joke or two, which the devil tempted me to crack upon him, immediately upon his coming in. With Lord Camden I had but little, for reasons I will tell you at large; with Miss Pratt, who is a charming girl in every respect but beauty, pretty much. She has given me a sketch of Miss F— in crayons, which she was two days about; it is not ill done, considering, and has some resemblance. With Mrs Sturt, who is a good, fine woman, at the age of forty-two, after bearing eighteen children, fourteen of whom are alive, I had a little flirtation, but left her after seeing a little more of the ton of the family, which I did not like. With Sturt I had some general conversation; but saw nothing about him that made him very interesting to me. With Barré, although we have few ideas in common, I am upon terms of some familiarity, owing to the good nature and companionableness of the man. Dunning’s health seemed not so much amiss, notwithstanding the fatigue he underwent at Bristol; he had got up a good deal before that happened to throw him back; and, the morning he went away, he told me he had already recovered himself to a considerable degree. All these are heads for you to examine me upon: as such, I set them down without further particularity.
“As to my health, it is still but so-so; but I promise myself something from the ease and comfort of Thorpe, and something more from the winter, which seems to agree best with me. For a long time I had no notion of riding out, because my lord did not ask me; but at last I found out that his reason for not asking people to ride out with him was, that all he rides out for is to superintend his workmen, which takes up all his attention for the time, and is rather sitting on horseback than riding; since that, I have taken heart of grace, and ride out almost every day, before breakfast, independently of casual excursions in company. As to the Duke of Bedford’s being an Opposition-man, I understand as much from Lord Shelburne.
“I desire no reflections upon Miss Mercer; it is the greatest satisfaction to me imaginable to hear of handsome girls falling in love with ugly fellows. Alas! poor Clarke! commend me to them and the St Pauls, with whom I please myself with the thoughts of spending a comfortable day or two ere the month is out.”
“Bowood, October 7, 1781.
“Yours of the 29th September, I think, I acknowledged in my last, which I believe was dated Wednesday, the 3d instant; since then, nothing very particular has occurred in this place. That same day, I think it was, came Hamilton (of Payne’s Hill) and his wife, from Bath. Lord Shelburne sent his carriage for them, and sent them back yesterday. Hamilton has been giving his assistance in laying out the grounds here. He is an old man of seventy-five or seventy-six, and is, besides, very much afflicted at times with the stone; but this time he was very cheerful and alert. There came, at the same time, a Mr Tonge or Tongue, who has no connexion with them, but, as it happened, came and went on the same day with them: an insipid, insignificant man, who lives at Bristol. I could perceive no other bond of connexion than the circumstance of his once having rented a house about a mile from Lord Shelburne’s, which his lordship has just pulled down.
“On Thursday, came General Johnson, a neighbour of Lord Shelburne’s: he is equerry to the king, and has been in waiting. He is an old man; is deaf at times; and has got the nickname (so I learned by accident) of ‘Old Sulky;’ he travels in a leathern conveniency of the same name. The account he gives of Governor Murray, quadrates very exactly with that which Barré was giving, and, being a government man, may the better be depended upon. He has a son there, to whom, he acknowledges, Murray has been very kind; so that there does not appear to be anything of passion to corrupt his judgment.
“Since my last, I have received a letter from Q. S. P., at Bath, in which (blessed be God therefor) he tells me there will be no occasion for me to go to Oxford; for that C. Abbot has no competitor, and looks upon himself as sure. I had asked him about the price of woollen cloth, which, I had heard from Barré, was as cheap there as broadcloth in London, viz. 18s. Q. S. P., upon inquiry, confirmed that idea, and offered me a coat of it as a Bath present; so away go I on cock-horse to-morrow morning, to be measured for it. I shall return in the afternoon.
“A day or two ago I received a letter from Sam,* dated Catherineburgh, and Nigriaghill: the bad news it contains is—that he has lost a portable barometer, and gold to the value of £13 or £14, by the breaking of a phial of quicksilver by the overturning of a trunk; the good news—that the model of his plane-engine is finished, and succeeds to the satisfaction of everybody; the engine itself would have been finished, but for a vacation of six weeks, which the workmen have on account of the harvest; the time for which, in that country, being very short, requires as many hands as can be mustered. I wait only for Parson Townsend, to quit this place. I cannot think what has become of the man; he leaves me in an awkward predicament. He was to have been here on Wednesday. There is now nobody but Miss F— and Colonel Barré. Adieu. I send you a frank for Davies.”
Bentham to Lord Shelburne.
“October 18, 1781.
“Since my arrival at my ‘villa,’ (a subject on which the public prints have been scandalously silent,) I have been honoured with two testimonies of your lordship’s kind attention. In the first I am told that ‘all Bowood desire to be remembered by me:’ as if any part of Bowood could ever cease to be remembered by me, while gratitude, or any quality I could ever value myself on, remained in me. In the latter, I am informed that my ‘Bowood friends are impatient to know how my hand does.’ These reproaches, as they might seem if literally taken, for not writing, may, I think, upon the fairest and least flattering interpretation, be construed into a permission to write. In this light I avail myself of them: for without some especial warrant, my lord, I should hardly have ventured to have given you any trouble with my pen, in addition to the unconscionable bond which particular circumstances, and the kind injunctions on your lordship’s part, which they gave birth to, were the means of my laying on ‘all Bowood’ by my company. I had indeed, as I have still, a pretence for writing in store, which I treasure up accordingly: I mean the commission I was honoured with to Colonel Skene; but it may be some time yet before I may have anything to say to your lordship on that subject. The time of doing it, I take for granted, is not very material, so as it be in the course of three weeks or a month; that is, till your lordship comes to town at the meeting of parliament. I shall, therefore, look upon myself as being at liberty, as things stand at present, to defer going thither myself for a week or ten days, by which time I hope to have put off the guise of an invalid. At present, though I make with some difficulty such use of my hand as your lordship sees, it is still so tender that I am obliged to attend to every motion I make. If, however, any reason should occur to your lordship, for wishing me to see the colonel sooner, any intimation to that effect shall be obeyed the instant I am apprized of it. In the meantime, I have written to Mr Hodgson to inquire where Colonel Skene is to be met with. Having no answer, I suppose he had left London before my letter got there. I am concerned for the poor captain: henceforward, should he ever feel bold enough to mount again, your lordship, in order to act the more completely the part of the good Samaritan, would do well, I think, to ‘set him upon your own beast,’ meaning either Lord Abingdon’s or Mr Miller’s: upon either of these he would be comparatively safe; for, granting that he might stand a chance of stumbling every other step, yet I have too good an opinion of their prudence to suppose that either of them could ever be prevailed upon to rise to a pace sufficient to make a tumble serious.
“As to the fiery courser which stands at present dignified by his name, I would humbly propose that he be new christened; and that some man of skill and spirit—myself, for example—be pitched upon for his godfather; in which case, I would further move, that an act of oblivion be passed at Bowood, forbidding, under the severest penalties, everything that could tend to revive the memory of the Corsham expedition.
“I beg my most respectful compliments to Lady S. and Miss F.; it would be a most flattering circumstance to me, if I could persuade myself that they, or either of them, were actually, as well as virtually, included under ‘all Bowood;’ and that they or either of them—I speak as a lawyer—took any distinct and individual part in the kind remembrances that were sent me. I am particularly anxious to know whether Miss F. has found anybody to give check to since the only man she could depend upon in that way has had the misfortune to quit her service; whether, for example, the gallant colonel, after the rebuff I was witness to, has ever mustered up courage to face her during any of the truces of the cribbage table. If I have entertained anything like a wish on the affirmative side, it must be acknowledged to be an effort of the highest generosity, the colonel being too formidable a rival not to destroy any chance I might otherwise have of procuring an odd corner in her memory. Missing the chess-board, it is possible that, for a week or so, she might be led to bestow a straggling thought upon the once happy man who used to sit on the other side of it.”
[* ] Some notice of George Wilson will be found in next Chapter, p. 133.
[* ] The Rev. Joseph Townsend, Rector of Pewsey. The work referred to is probably his “Thoughts on Despotic and Free Governments,” published in 1781.
[† ] The letter is to George Wilson, a Scotchman.
[* ] Q. S. P. Queen Square Place—in allusion to his father and stepmother.
[* ] His brother, Sir Samuel Bentham, then in the Russian service.