Saturday, June 4, 2011

Letter To Richard West, Esq.           Florence     Nov. 1740.
Child, I am going to let you see your shocking proceedings with us. On my conscience, I believe 'tis three months since you wrote to either Gray or me. If you had been ill, Ashton would have said so; and if you had been dead the gazettes would have said it. If you had been angry,-but that's impossible; how can one quarrel with folks three thousand miles off? We are neither divines nor commentators, and consequently have not hated you on paper. 'Tis to show that my charity for you cannot be interrupted at this distance that I write to you, though I have nothing to say, for 'tis a bad time for small news; and when emperors and czarinas are dying all up and down Europe, one can't pretend to tell you of any thing that happens within our sphere.
Not but that we have our accidents too. if you have had a great wind in England, we have had a great water at Florence. We have been trying to set out every day, and pop upon you.  It is fortunate that we stayed, for I don't know what had become of us!
Yesterday, with violent rains, there came flouncing down from the mountains such a flood that it floated the whole city. The jewellers on the Old Bridge removed their commodities, -and in two hours after the bridge was cracked.
The torrent broke down the quays and drowned several coach-horses, which are kept here in stables under ground. We were moated into our house all day, which is near the Arno, and had the miserable spectacles of the ruins that were washed along with the hurricane. There was a cart with two oxen not quite dead, and four men in it drowned: but what was ridiculous, there came tiding along a fat haycock, with a hen and her eggs, and a cat. The torrent is considerably abated; but we expect terrible news from the country, especially from Pisa, which stands so much lower, and nearer the sea.
There is a stone here, which, when the water overflows, Pisa is entirely flooded. The water rose two ells yesterday above that stone. Judge! For this last month we have passed our time but dully; all diversions silenced on the emperor's death,  and everybody out of town. I have seen nothing but cards and dull pairs of cicisbeos. I have literally seen so much love and pharaoh since being here, that I believe I shall never love either again SO long as I live.
Then I am got in a horrid lazy way of a morning. I don't believe I should know seven o'clock in the morning again if I was to see it. But I am returning to England, and shall grow very solemn and wise! Are you wise'( Dear West, have pity on one who have done nothing of gravity for these two years, and do laugh sometimes.
We do nothing else, and have contracted such formidable ideas of the good people of England that we are already nourishing great black eyebrows and great black beards, and teasing our countenances into wrinkles. Then for the common talk of the times, we are quite at a loss, and for the dress. You would oblige us exceedingly by forwarding to us the votes of the houses, the king's speech, and the magazines; or if you had any such thing as a little book called the Foreigner's Guide through the city of London and the liberties of Westminster; or a letter to a Freeholder; or the Political Companion: then 'twoulg be an infinite obligation if you would neatly band-box up a baby dressed after the newest Temple fashion now in use at both play-houses.
Alack-a-day! We shall just arrive in the tempest of elections! As our departure depends entirely upon the weather, we cannot tell you to a day when we shall say
Dear West, how glad I am to see you! and all the many questions and answers that we shall give and take. Would the day were come! Do but figure to yourself the journey we are to pass through first! But you can't conceive Alps, Apennines, Italian inns, and postchaises. I tremble at the thoughts. They were just sufferable while new and unknown, and as we met them by the way in coming to Florence, Rome, and Naples; but they are passed, and the mountains remain! Well, write to one in the interim; direct to me addressed to Monsieur Selwyn, chez Monsieur.Ilexandre, Rue St. Apolline, a Paris.
If Mr. Alexandre is not there, the street is, and I believe that will be sufficient.
Adieu, my dear child! Yours ever.

To Richard West, Esq.             Reggio                   May 1 1741
Dear West, I have received the end of your first act,  and now will tell you sincerely what I think of it.
If I was not so pleased with the beginning as I usually am with your compositions, believe me the part of Pausanias has charmed me. There is all imaginable art joined with all requisite simplicity: and a simplicity, I think, much preferable to that in the scenes of Cleodora and Argilius. Forgive me, if I say they do not talk laconic but low English in her, who is Persian too, there would admit more heroic. But for the whole part of Pausanias, 'tis great and well worried up, and the art that is seen seems to proceed from his head, not from the author's.As I am very desirous you should continue, so I own I wish you would improve or change the beginning: those who know you not so well as I do, would not wait with so much patience for the entrance of Pausanias. You see I am frank; and if I tell you I do not approve of the first part, you may believe me as sincere when I tell you I admire the latter extremely.
My letter has an odd date. You would not expect I should be writing in such a dirty place as Reggio: but the fair is charming; and here come all the nobility of Lombardy, and all the broken dialects of Genoa, Milan, Venice, Bologna, etc. You never heard such a ridiculous confusion of tongues. All the morning one goes to the fair undressed, as to the walks of Tunbridge: 'tis Just in that manner, with lotteries, raffles, etc. After dinner all the company return in their coaches, and make a kind of corso, with the ducal family, who go to shops, where you talk to 'em, from thence to the opera, in mask if you will, and afterwards to the ridotto.
This five nights in the week, Fridays there are masquerades, and Tuesdays balls at the Rivalta, a villa of the Duke's.
In short, one diverts oneself. I pass most part of the opera in the Duchess's box, who is extremely civil to me and extremely agreeable. A daughter of the Regent's,  that could please him, must be so. She is not young, though still handsome, but fat; but has given up her gallantries cheerfully, and in time, and lives easily with a dull husband, two dull sisters of his, and a dull court. These two princesses are wofully ugly, old maids and rich. They might have been married often; but the old Duke was whimsical and proud, and never would consent to any match for them, but left them much money, and pensions of three thousand pounds a year apiece.
There was a design to have given the eldest to this King of Spain, and the Duke was to have had the Parmesan princess; so that now he would have had Parma and Placentia, Joined to Modena, Reggio, Mirandola, and Massa. But there being a Prince of Asturias, the old Duke Rinaldo broke off the match, and said his daughter's children should not be younger brothers: and so they mope old virgins.
I am going from hence to Venice, in a fright lest there be a war with France, and then I must drag myself through Germany. We have had an imperfect account of a sea-fight in America . but we are so out of the way, that one can't be sure of it. Which way soever I return, I shall be soon in England, and there you 'will find me again.
As much as ever yours.

To Sir Horace Mann       Calais                        
Friday and here I have been these two days   1741
Is the wind laid? Shall I Dever get aboard? I came here on Wednesday night, but found a tempest that has never ceased since. At Boulogne I left Lord Shrewsbury and his mother, and brothers and sisters, waiting too: Bulstrode passes his winter at the court of Boulogne, and then is to travel with two young Shrewsburys.
I was overtaken by Amorevoli and Monticelli, who are here with me and the Viscontina, and Barberina, and Abbate Vanneschi -what a coxcomb! I would have talked to him about the opera, but he preferred politics.
I have wearied Amorevoli with questions about you. If he was not just come from you, and could talk to me about you, I should hate him; for, to flatter me, he told me that I talked Italian better than you. He did not know how little I think it a compliment to have any thing preferred to you-besides, you know the consistence of my Italian! They are all frightened out of their senses about going on the sea, and are not a little afraid of the English. They went on board the William and Mary yacht yesterday, which waits here for Lady Cardigan from Spa.
The captain clapped the door, and swore in broad English that the Viscontina should not stir till she gave him a song, he did not care whether it was a catch or a moving ballad; but she would not submit.     I wonder he did! When she came home and told me, I begged her not to judge of all the English from this specimen; but, by the way, she will find many sea-captains that grow on dry land.

To sir Horace Mann             Arlington Street               June 7, 1748
Don't reproach me in your own Mind for not writing, but reproach the world for doing nothing; for making peace as slowly as they made war. When any body commits an event, I am ready enough to tell it you; but I have always declared against inventing news; when I do, I will set up a newspaper.
The Duke of Newcastle is not gone; he has kissed hands, and talks of going this week: the time presses, and he has not above three days left to fall dangerously ill. There are a thousand wagers laid against his going: he has hired a transport, for the yacht s not big enough to convey all the tables and chairs and conveniences that he trails along with him, and which he seems to think don't grow out of England.
I don't know how he proposes to lug them through Holland and Germany, though any objections that the map can make to his progress don't count, for he is literally so ignorant, that when one goes to take leave of him, he asks your commands into the north, concluding that Hanover is north of Great Britain, because it is in the northern province, which he has just taken: you will scarce believe this, but upon my honour it is true.
The preliminaries wait the accession of Spain, before they can ripen into peace. Niccolini goes to Aix-la-Chapelle, and will be much disappointed if his advice is not asked there: he talks of being at Florence in October. Sir William Stanhope has just given a great ball to Lady Petersham, to whom he takes extremely, since his daughter married herself to Mr. Ellis, and as the Petershams are relations, they propose to be his heirs.
The Chuteheds agreed with me, that the house, which is most magnificently furnished, all the ornaments designed by Kent, and the whole festino, puts us more in mind of Florence, than any thing we had seen here. There were silver-pharaoh and whist for the ladies that did not dance, deep basset and quinze for the men; the supper very fine.
I am now returning to my villa, where I have been making some alterations: you shall hear from me from Strawberry Hill, which I have found out in my lease is the old name of my house; so pray, never call it Twickenham again. I like to be there better than I have liked being any where since I came to England. I sigh after Florence, and wind up all my prospects with the thought of returning there.
I have days when I even set about contriving a scheme for going to you, and though I don't love to put you upon expecting me, I cannot help telling you, that I wish more than ever to be with you again. I can truly say, that I never was happy but at Florence, and you must allow that it is very natural to wish to be happy once more. Adieu!


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