Front Page Titles (by Subject) Bentham to George Wilson. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence)
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Bentham to George Wilson. - 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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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.’ ”
[* ] Q. S. P. Queen Square Place—in allusion to his father and stepmother.