The Project Gutenberg eBook of Elizabeth Montagu, the queen of the bluestockings, Volumes 1 and 2

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Title: Elizabeth Montagu, the queen of the bluestockings, Volumes 1 and 2

Her correspondence from 1720 to 1761

Author: Mrs. Montagu

Editor: Emily J. Climenson

Release date: April 18, 2023 [eBook #70593]

Language: English

Original publication: United Kingdom: John Murray, 1906

Credits: Fay Dunn and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)


1720 TO 1761

Transcribers’ Note

The cover image was created by the transcriber, and is placed in the public domain. It is based on the original cover.


Original cover

Volumes one and two of “Elizabeth Montagu” are also published separately at Project Gutenberg.

This combination of the two volumes consists of: Volume I, Volume II, Index, and the Robinson Pedigree

Please also see the note at the end of this book.

Volume I

Frontispiece: Mrs. Montagu

C. F. Zincke. Pinx. Emery Walker Ph. Sc.

Mrs. Montagu
née Elizabeth Robinson
from a miniature in the possession of Miss Montagu


1720 TO 1761




Publisher’s colophon






Decorative line

From my early youth I heartily desired to know more of the life of my great-great-aunt, Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu. Every scrap of information I could pick up respecting her I accumulated; therefore when my cousins, Mrs. Wellesley and her sister, Miss Montagu, in October, 1899, gave me the whole of her manuscripts contained in 68 cases, holding from 100 to 150 letters in each, my joy was unbounded!

In 1810 my grandfather, the 4th Baron Rokeby (her nephew and adopted son), published two volumes of her letters; these were followed by two more volumes in 1813. To enable him to perform this pleasing task he asked all her principal friends to return her letters to him, beginning with the Dowager Marchioness of Bath,[1] daughter of the Duchess of Portland, who gave him back the earliest letters to her mother, many carefully inserted in a curious grey paper book by the duchess, who placed the date of reception on each, and evidently valued them exceedingly. The Rev. Montagu Pennington returned her letters to his aunt, Mrs. Elizabeth Carter, the learned translator of Epictetus; Mrs. Freind those to her husband; and many other people did the same. From General Pulteney, at Lord Bath’s death, she had asked for and[viii] received her correspondence with Lord Bath, which she carefully preserved. At the death of Lord Lyttelton, the executors, at her request, returned her her letters; those to Gilbert West and other correspondents were returned in the same manner. Meanwhile she kept all letters of her special friends, as well as notabilities, so that one may deem the collection quite unique, though doubtless many letters have disappeared, notably those of Sir Joshua Reynolds, many of whose letters were destroyed by an ignorant caretaker of Mrs. Montagu’s house, Denton Hall, near Newcastle-on-Tyne. There are none of Horace Walpole’s, from whom she must have received some; and those from several other celebrities she knew well are missing.

[1] Née Elizabeth Cavendish, born 1735, died 1825, ætat 91.

Owing to the enormous quantity of letters undated, the sorting has been terribly difficult, and I spent one entire winter in making up bundles and labelling each year. My grandfather made a variety of mistakes as to the dates of the letters. I hope I have atoned for some of his deficiencies, though a few mistakes are probably inevitable. He nearly blinded himself by working at night, and my grandmother[2] had constantly to copy the letters in a large round hand to enable him to make them out. After my grandmother’s death he discontinued arranging them, though they might have been continued till 1800, the year of Mrs. Montagu’s death.

[2] Née Elizabeth Charlton.

In the present volumes only her early life is presented, interwoven with portions of her most intimate friends’ letters to herself. Were the whole of this vast correspondence printed, a large bookcase could be filled with the volumes. In order to consult the varied tastes of the general reader, I have endeavoured to pick out the most interesting portions of her letters, such as relate to customs, fashions in[ix] dress, price of food, habits, but I have often groaned in spirit at having to leave out much that was noble in sentiment, or long comments upon contemporary books and events. If life should be spared me, I hope to be able to continue my narrative, for, like the ring produced by a stone thrown on the water, her circle of friends and acquaintances increased yearly, and not only comprised her English friends and every person of distinction in Great Britain, but also the most distinguished foreigners of all nations, notably the French. It has been asserted that Gilbert West was the first person to influence Mrs. Montagu on religious points. That his amiable Christianity may have strengthened her religious opinions I do not deny, but I hope it will be seen from this book that from her earliest days, when at the height of her joie de vivre, the religious sentiment was existent—a religion that prompted her ever to the kindest actions to all classes, that had nothing bitter or narrow in it, no dogmatism. Adored by men of all opinions, and liking their society, she was the purest of the pure, as is amply proved by the letters of Lord Lyttelton, Dr. Monsey, and others, but she was no prude with all this. Her worthy husband adored her, and no wife could have been more devoted and obedient than she was. His was a noble character, and doubtless influenced her much for good. As a wife, a friend, a camarade in all things, grave or gay, she was unequalled; as a housewife she was notable, beloved by her servants, by the poor of her parish, and by her miners and their wives and children. She planned feasts and dances and instituted schools for them, and fed and clothed the destitute.

With Mr. Raikes[3] she was one of the first people[x] to institute Sunday-schools. She was as interested in Betty’s rheumatism as she was in the conversation of a duke or a duchess; a discussion with bishops and Gilbert West on religion, or with Emerson on mathematics, or Elizabeth Carter on Epictetus, all came alike to her gifted nature. She danced with the gay, she wept with the mourner; her sympathies never lay idle, even to the very end of life; and in a century which has been deemed by many to be coarse, uneducated, and irreligious, her sweet wholesome nature shone like a star, and attracted all minor lights. Where in the twentieth century should we find a coterie of men and women of the highest rank and influence in the world, either from intellect or position, so content and devoted to each other, so free from the petty jealousies and sarcasms of the present fashionable society, so anxious for each other’s welfare, socially and morally; so free from cant or prudery, so devoted to each other’s interest?

[3] Robert Raikes, born 1735, died 1811. The first Sunday-school instituted by him in 1781.

A great and terrible break in this book was caused by the death of my beloved husband in May, 1904, after a long, lingering illness. I doubt if I should have taken courage to resume my pen if it had not been for my friend Mr. A. M. Broadley, whose interest in my literary work and affectionate solicitude for myself has been a kindly spur to goad me on to action, so as to complete the present volumes. To him I tender my thanks for past and present encouragement, as well as many other kindnesses.




Decorative line
Preface vii
List of Illustrations xv
The Robinson, Sterne, and Morris families — Birth and childhood of Elizabeth Montagu — Correspondence with Duchess of Portland (passim) — Dr. Middleton’s second wife — “Fidget” — A summons — Tunbridge Wells — Mrs. Pendarves — Lady Thanet  — Miss Anstey — Bevis Mount — The Wallingfords — A suit of “cloathes” — Anne Donnellan 1–25
Correspondence with Duchess of Portland (passim) — Sir Robert Austin — The goat story — The Freinds — Country beaux — Thomas Robinson, barrister — Lady Wallingford — Duke of Portland’s letter — A coach adventure — Influenza — Smallpox — Cottage life — Bath — Lord Noel Somerset — Dowager Duchess of Norfolk — Frost Fair on the Thames — The plunge bath — “Long” Sir Thomas Robinson — Lord Wallingford’s death — The menagerie at Bullstrode — Lady Mary Wortley Montagu — Princess Mary of Hesse — Monkey Island — Lydia Botham — Mrs. Pendarves — Lord Oxford — Admiral Vernon — Anne Donnellan — Charlemagne — Dr. Young’s Night Thoughts — Duchess of Kent — Mr. Achard 26–62
Hairdressing — Correspondence with Duchess of Portland (passim)  — Sarah Robinson attacked by smallpox — Hayton Farm — A country squire — Handel — Dr. Middleton — Laurence Sterne — Duke of Portland’s letter — A brother’s tribute — Carthagena — The Westminster election — A South Sea lawsuit — Lord Oxford’s death — Panacea of bleeding — A one-horse chaise — A Windsor [xii]hatter — Lord Sandwich’s marriage — Ducal baths — Domestic service — Cibber’s Life — Peg Woffington — Dowager Duchess of Marlborough — Revolution in Russia — New Year’s Day — Lord George Bentinck — Northfleet Fair — Sir R. Walpole — Duchess of Norfolk’s masquerade — Sir Hans Sloane — A House of Lords debate — The Opera — Garrick 63–107
Love triumphs — Sir George Lyttelton — Edward Montagu — Anne Donnellan’s advice — Elizabeth’s engagement and marriage — Correspondence with Duchess of Portland — “Delia” Dashwood — Odd honeymoon etiquette — Mr. Robinson’s letter — Dr. Middleton’s letter — Cally Scott — Mrs. Freind — Père Courayer — Works of Manor — The Dales — Whig principles — Correspondence with Edward Montagu — Hanoverian troops — Handel’s Oratorios — Young’s Night Thoughts — A country beau and roué — A bolus — The Lord Chancellor — Dr. Sandys — A cook 108–140
Journey to London — The floods — A faithful steward — The Rogers’ pedigree — A curious letter — Mr. Montagu’s visit to Newcastle — Birth of “Punch” — Inoculation — Baby clothes — Sandleford Priory — A parson and his wife — Countess of Granville — Correspondence with Duchess of Portland — Courayer — Woman’s education — Lord Orford’s letter to General Churchill — Preparation for inoculation — Elizabeth’s letter to her husband — Army discipline — Physicians’ fees — Pope’s grotto — A highwayman — Dangers of a post-chaise — “Punch’s” chariot — A Bath ball — “Mathematical inseration” — Midgham — A footpad — The Ministry — Pope’s Dunciad — Mrs. Pococke — Sugar tax — The Pretender — Sir Septimus Robinson — “Hide” Park — Gowns and fans — The wearing of “Punch” — A wet-nurse — Aprons — Orange trees — Lord Anson — Clothes and table-linen — Stowe — Thoresby — Death of “Punch” — Loss of an only child — Submission to God’s will — Duchess of Marlborough’s death — A Raree Show — Cattle disease — Mrs. Robinson’s illness 141–197
Correspondence with the Duchess of Portland — Donnington Castle —  Tunbridge Wells — Dr. Young and Colley Cibber — Buxton — Tonbridge Castle — The 1745 rising in Scotland — George Lewis [xiii]Scott — National terrors — Wade’s army — County meeting at York — The Northern gentry — General Cope’s defeat at Preston Pans — Sussex privateers — Tunbridge ware — Walnut medicine — D. Stanley’s letter to Duke of Montagu — Cattle murrain — Fears of invasion — The Law regiment — Romney Marsh — A footman — A brave gamekeeper 198–226
Correspondence with Duchess of Portland — Death of Mrs. Robinson — Lydia Botham — The Hill Street house — “Such a Johnny” — Courayer — Mr. Carter’s death — Denton estate — Elixir of vitriol and tar-water — Dr. Shaw — Young Edward Wortley Montagu — General election — Huntingdon Election — Dr. Pococke — Mrs. Theophilus Cibber — Courayer’s figure — A high and dry residence — Lady Fane’s grottoes — In search of an axletree —  Winchester Cathedral — Mount Bevis — The New Forest — Wilton House — Savernake — Courayer’s letter — Matthew Robinson, M.P. for Canterbury — Lyttelton’s Monody — Thomas Robinson’s death — Coffee House, Bath — Cambridge — Richardson’s Clarissa — Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle — Spa — The Hague — James Montagu’s death — Price of tea 227–263
Ranelagh masquerade — Tunbridge Wells — Duke of Montagu’s death — Coombe Bank — The feather screen — Hinchinbrook — The Miss Gunnings — Chinese room in Hill Street — A parson’s children — Dowager Duchess of Chandos — Lord Pembroke’s death — The earthquake — Death of Dr. Middleton — Anniversary of Elizabeth’s wedding day — Mrs. Boscawen — Gilbert West — Barry and Garrick — Embroidered flounces — “The cousinhood” — West family — Berenger — Hildersham — Miss Maria Naylor — The “Pollard Ashe” — Mrs. Percival’s death — Dr. Shaw’s death — The Dauphin — Dr. Middleton’s works — Anne Donnellan — Nathaniel Hooke 264–296



Decorative line
Mrs. Montagu (née Elizabeth Robinson) Frontispiece
From a miniature by C. F. Zincke, in the possession of The Hon. Elizabeth Montagu, Farnham Royal. (Photogravure.)
Mount Morris, near Hythe, Kent 8
From an old print, 1809.
Miss Morris, Grandmother of Mrs. Montagu 16
From a picture (artist unknown), in the possession of the Hon. Elizabeth Montagu. (Photogravure.)
Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Robinson (Mrs. Montagu’s Father and Mother) 32
From a picture by W. Hamilton, in the possession of The Hon. Elizabeth Montagu, Farnham Royal. (Photogravure.)
W. Freind, D.D., Dean of Canterbury 64
From the picture by T. Worlidge.
William, Second Duke of Portland 76
From the picture by Thomas Hudson, in the possession of the Duke of Portland. (Photogravure.)
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu 80
From a miniature (artist unknown), in the possession of Mrs. Climenson. (Photogravure.)
Sir Thomas Robinson (1st Baron Rokeby) 100
From a picture (artist unknown), in the possession of The Hon. Elizabeth Montagu, Farnham Royal. (Photogravure.)
Morris Robinson 144[xvi]
From the picture by the Rev. M. W. Peters, R.A., in the possession of The Hon. Elizabeth Montagu, Farnham Royal. (Photogravure.)
Sandleford Priory, near Newbury, Berkshire 152
From a photograph.
Denton Hall, Northumberland 160
Margaret Cavendish Harley, Duchess of Portland 192
From the picture by Thomas Hudson, in the possession of the Duke of Portland. (Photogravure.)
Lady Lechmere (née Howard), Afterwards Lady (Thomas) Robinson 208
From a picture (artist unknown), in the possession of The Hon. Elizabeth Montagu, Farnham Royal. (Photogravure.)
Gilbert West 296
From an engraving by E. Smith, after W. Walker.
Robinson Pedigree In pocket at end of Vol.




Decorative line



Before entering on the life of Elizabeth Robinson, afterwards Mrs. Edward Montagu, the famous bas bleu, the focus, as she may be called, of all the cleverest and most intellectual society of the last half of the eighteenth century, a few words must be said of the family she sprang from. The Robinsons are said to have been originally Robertsons, the name being corrupted into Robinson. They are in many Peerages[4] said to descend from the Robertsons of Struan, or Strowan, in Perthshire, who descended from Duncan de Atholia, Earl of Athole, hence descendants of Duncan, King of Scotland. My grandfather, the 4th Baron Rokeby, in an unfinished pedigree, believed this, but there have been Robinsons bearing the same[5] coat-of-arms in Yorkshire as early as the time of copyhold record in Edward III.’s reign.[2] However, they may have been related. Our narrative starts from William, said to be younger son of the 7th Baron Robertson of Strowan, who, being deprived of his portion of inheritance as younger son by the Earl of Athole, fled into England, and settled at Kendal in Westmorland, in the time of Henry VIII. He had three children, Ralph, Henry, and Ursula. Ralph married Agnes Philip, by whom he had William, who succeeded to his father’s estates at Kendal and Brignal, and who on June 7, 1610, bought the estate of Rokeby in Yorkshire from Sir Thomas Rokeby, whose family had been possessed of it before the Conquest. Rokeby continued to belong to the Robinson family for 160 years, when “Long Sir Thomas Robinson” sold it in 1769 to John B. Saurey Morritt, the friend of Sir Walter Scott. The Robinsons finally assumed two lines (vide Pedigree), William, the eldest, remaining master of Rokeby, and his posthumous brother, Leonard, becoming the direct ancestor of our heroine. Leonard Robinson was a merchant in London; he became Chamberlain of the City of London, and was knighted on October 26, 1692. He married, first, Lucy Layton, of West Layton, etc., by whom he had no issue. For his second wife he married Deborah, daughter of Sir James Collet, Knight and Sheriff of London, by whom he had six daughters, all of whom married and had issue, and one son, Thomas, who married a widow, Elizabeth Light. She was daughter of William Clarke, Esq., of Merivale Abbey, Warwickshire, and heiress of her brother, William Clarke. By her first husband, Anthony Light, she had one daughter, Lydia. By her second marriage with Thomas Robinson she had three sons. Matthew, the eldest, alone concerns us as father of Mrs. Montagu. The following table will show the connection between the Robinson and Sterne[3] families: the Rev. Laurence Sterne marrying their cousin, Elizabeth Lumley:—


{Skip transcribed table} {See image for table}

Anthony Light
1 daughter.


Elizabeth Clarke, daughter of William Clarke, of Merivale Abbey, Warwickshire; heiress to her brother, William Clarke.


Thomas Robinson, son of Sir Leonard Robinson.
1st. Thomas Kirke
of Cockridge, co, Yorks. Great Virtuoso. d. 1709
= Lydia =

2nd. The Rev. Robert Lumley of Lumley Castle, Rector of Bedale, Yorks, 1721–1731. Matthew Robinson. = Elizabeth Drake, daughter of Councillor Robert Drake, of the Drakes of Ash, Devon.

Lydia = Rev. Henry Botham, Vicar of Albury and Ealing.
5 children.
Elizabeth =

Rev. Laurence Sterne.

Lydia died an infant. Lydia =
A. de Medalle.

[4] Vide Debrett and Lodge’s Peerages; Collin’s Baronetage, 1741, vol. iv.; Burke, “The New Peerage,” by W. Owen, 1785; and Longmate’s Peerage.

[5] Coat vert, a chevron between three bucks trippant. Mrs. Laurence Sterne and her sister, Mrs. Botham, as will be seen in the letters, call Matthew Robinson and his wife “Uncle” and “Aunt,” they being really their step-uncle and aunt. Thomas Robinson died at the early age of thirty-three, in the year 1700.


We now enter on the history of Matthew Robinson, the eldest surviving son of Thomas, and his wife Elizabeth. He was born in 1694, therefore was only six years old when his father died. At an early age he was entered at Trinity College, Cambridge, and became a fellow-commoner. He was a person of great intellectual parts, a conversationalist and wit, the life of the coffee-houses, which then served, as clubs do nowadays, as a rendezvous for men of fashion. His talent for painting was remarkable. His great nephew states, “He acquired so great a proficiency as to excel most of the professional artists of his day in landscape.” At the early age of eighteen, in 1712, he married [4]Elizabeth Drake, daughter of Councillor Robert Drake, of Cambridge, descended from the Drakes of Ashe in Devonshire. Elizabeth’s mother’s name was Sarah Morris. The Morris family had been seated in Kent at East Horton since the reign of Elizabeth. Thomas Morris, father of Sarah, built the mansion of Mount Morris, sometimes called Monk’s Horton, near Hythe. He had one son, Thomas, who was drowned under London Bridge on his return from Holland in 1697, ætat 23. His sister Sarah had two children by Councillor Drake, Morris and Elizabeth. Their maternal grandfather lived to 1717, when he devised his estates to his grandson, Morris Drake, with the proviso of his assuming the extra name of Morris, and failing of his issue with remainder to Elizabeth, his sister, then Mrs. Matthew Robinson. Her mother, Mrs. Drake, having become a widow, had remarried the celebrated Dr. Conyers Middleton, but had no children by him. The following table will elucidate this:—

{Skip transcribed table} {See image for table}

Thomas Morris, Esq.,
of Mount Morris, alias Monk’s Horton,[6] Kent,
which he built; d. 1717.

Thomas, drowned under London Bridge, 1697, ætat 23, returning from Holland. Sarah, d. Feb. 19, 1730–1.

= 1st. Councillor Robert Drake,
2nd. (1710) Dr. Conyers Middleton, of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Morris Drake (Morris) took name of Morris on becoming heir to his grandfather; died s.p. His property entailed on his sister, Eliz. Robinson. Elizabeth, m. 1713, d. 1745, sister and heir of her brother, Morris Drake Morris. Inherited Coveney, Cambs., and Mount Morris, Kent. = Matthew Robinson, of Edgeley and of West Layton Hall, Yorks. Born at York, 1694; died October, 1778.

[6] Monk’s Horton, or Up Horton, alienated by Heyman Rooke in the time of Queen Anne to Thomas Morris, who entailed it to his daughter’s male issue.



To return to the Robinsons, they settled at their property of West Layton Hall, derived from Lucy Layton, first wife of Sir Leonard Robinson, and Edgeley in Wensleydale for the summer, and spent the winter in York; most country families at that period repairing to London or their nearest county town for convenience and society during the winter. To this young couple were born twelve children, of whom seven sons and two daughters lived to grow up—

1. Matthew, born April 6, 1713; afterwards 2nd Baron Rokeby. Educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge; became a Fellow. Died November 30, 1800, ætat 87.

2. Thomas, born 1714, died in 1746–7. Barrister-at-law.

3. Morris, born 1715, died 1777; of the Six Clerks’ Office.

4. Elizabeth, born at York, October 2, 1720, died August 25, 1800.

5. Robert, Captain, E.I.C.S. Died in China, 1756.

6. Sarah, born September 21, 1723, died 1795.

7. William, born 1726, died 1803.

8. John, of Trinity Hall, Cambridge.

9. Charles, born 1733, died 1807.


Elizabeth, the subject of this book, was about seven years old when, by the death of her uncle, Morris Drake Morris, her mother inherited, as his heir, the important property of East Horton, and Mount Morris in Kent. The family then left Yorkshire for residence at Mount Morris. But before and after their inheritance of the Kentish property much time was spent with the Conyers Middletons both at Coveney, Cambridgeshire, a property Mrs. Conyers Middleton had inherited from her first husband, Councillor Drake; the advowson of the living being hers, she bestowed it on her second[6] husband, Dr. Conyers Middleton,[7] whom she had married in 1710; also at Cambridge, where was their usual residence, and where several of the little Robinsons were born in their grandmother’s house, as we learn from a letter of Dr. Middleton’s. Elizabeth Robinson was naturally much with her grandmother, with whom and Conyers Middleton she was a great favourite. Her nephew and adopted son, in his volumes of her letters[8] that he published in 1810, states—

“Her uncommon sensibility and acuteness of understanding, as well as extraordinary beauty as a child, rendered her an object of great notice in the University, and Dr. Middleton was in the habit of requiring from her an account of the learned conversations at which, in his society, she was frequently present; not admitting of the excuse of her tender age as a disqualification, but insisting that although at the present time she could but imperfectly understand their meaning, she would in future derive great benefit from the habit of attention inculcated by this practice.”

[7] Conyers Middleton, D.D., born 1683, died 1750. Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, etc., etc. Wrote the “Life of Cicero,” etc., etc.

[8]The Letters of Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu,” by her nephew, Matthew Montagu, afterwards 4th Baron Rokeby.

Her father was proud of her vivacious wit, and encouraged her gifts of repartee which she possessed in as large a measure as himself.

“In her youth her beauty was most admired in the peculiar animation and expression of her blue eyes, with high arched eyebrows, and in the contrast of her brilliant complexion with her dark brown hair. She was of the middle stature, and stooped a little, which gave an air of modesty to her countenance, in which the features were otherwise so strongly marked as to express an elevation of sentiment befitting the most exalted condition.”



Her elder brothers, members of Cambridge University, were all extremely literary, and became, early, distinguished scholars. We are told—

“Their emulation produced a corresponding zeal in their sisters, and a diligence of application unusual in females of that time. Their domestic circle was accustomed to struggle for the mastery in wit, or in superiority in argument, and their mother, whose frame of mind partook rather of the gentle sedateness of good sense than of the eccentricities of genius, was denominated by them ‘the Speaker,’ from the frequent mediation by which she moderated their eagerness for victory.”


In Harris’s “History of Kent,” published in 1719, on p. 156, is a picture of Mount Morris, the home of the Robinsons, a large square house with a cupola surmounted by a ball and a weathercock, surrounded by a number of walled gardens laid out in the formal Dutch manner, an inner Topiary garden, leading to a steep flight of steps to the front door. Whilst staying in Cambridgeshire, Elizabeth had several times visited at Wimpole with her father and mother. Wimpole was the seat of Edward,[9] second Earl of Oxford and Mortimer, who had married Henrietta Cavendish, only daughter and heiress of John Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle-on-Tyne. She was a great heiress, and brought her husband £500,000; she is said to have been a good but a very dull woman, very proud, and a rigid worshipper of etiquette. In the “National Biography” she is said to have “disliked most of the wits who surrounded her husband, and hated Pope!”[10] The Earl spent [8]enormous sums in collecting books, manuscripts, pictures, medals, and articles of virtu, spending £400,000 of his wife’s fortune. To him we are indebted for the Harleian manuscripts, bought from his widow in 1753 for £10,000 by the nation, now in the British Museum. With the Lady Margaret Cavendish Harley,[11] only child of the Earl and Countess of Oxford, Elizabeth became on the most intimate terms, and her first extant letter is addressed to her when she was only eleven years old, and the Lady Margaret eighteen. So greatly did Lady Margaret value Elizabeth’s letters, that for a series of years she preserved them between the leaves of an old grey book which I possess. The first letter is endorsed, “Received, February 24, 1731–2, at Wimpole.” It commences—


“Your ladyship’s commands always give me a great deal of pleasure, but more especially when you ordered me to do myself this honour, without which I durst not have taken that liberty, for it would have been as great impertinence in me to have attempted it as it is condescension in your ladyship to order it.”

This alludes evidently to Lady Margaret having desired her to write to her. It ends—

“My duty to my Lord and Lady Oxford, and service to Lord Dupplin,[12] and my best respects to Miss Walton,[13] hope in a little while it may be duty. I am in great hopes that when your ladyship sees any impertinent people in London it will put you in mind of, Madam,

“Your ladyship’s most obliged, humble servant,
Eliz. Robinson.”

[9] Lord Oxford sold Wimpole in 1740 to Lord Hardwick to pay off his debts.

[10] Pope was his bosom friend, Swift and Prior also; the latter died at Wimpole.

[11] Prior celebrated the Lady Margaret in the lines commencing “My noble, lovely, little Peggy.”

[12] Afterwards 8th Earl of Kinnoul.

[13] Lady Margaret’s governess, about to be married.

Illustration: MOUNT MORRIS




The formal terms in this letter were then considered essential, even when addressing those of lower birth, all the more so to a person of Lady Margaret’s rank. Viscount Dupplin, whose name frequently occurs in the letters, was a cousin of Lady Margaret’s on her father’s side, his mother being a daughter of Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford. The two young friends now kept up a lively correspondence, but as many of the letters have been published by my grandfather in 1810, I shall for this early period of her life give only a résumé of them, picking out such facts as point to the manners of the time, or that strike one as of interest. From Mount Morris in August, 1732, she writes—

“Since I came here I have been to Canterbury Races, at which there was not much diversion, as only one horse ran for the King’s Plate.... We had an assembly for three nights; the rooms are so small and low that they were exceedingly hot.”

From this date one perceives that young ladies were allowed to appear in public early, as Elizabeth was then not quite twelve years old!


In October, 1733, she paid, in company of her parents, her first visit to Tunbridge Wells, ever afterwards such a favourite resort of hers. She says—

“It is so pleasant a place I don’t wonder the physicians prescribe it as a cure for the spleen; a great part of the company, especially of the gentlemen, are vapoured. When the wind is not in the east they are very good company, but they are as afraid of an easterly wind as if it would bring caterpillars upon our land as it did on the land of Egypt.... I am very sorry I could not get you any verses at Tunbridge, of which, at the latter part of the season, when the garrets grow cheap, that the poets come down, there is commonly great plenty.”


Further on she says, “I thank your ladyship for the verses, and I wish I had any to send you in return for them, but my poet is turned lawyer, and has forsook the Muses for ‘Coke upon Littleton.’” This alludes to her brother Tom, who was then studying law. The collecting of verses on every sort of circumstance seems to have been as fashionable then as photograph, autograph, or stamp-collecting, etc., are now.


In the next letter of November, 1733, she alludes to Dr. Conyers Middleton, who, as stated before, had married Mrs. Drake, Elizabeth’s grandmother, and who was now a widower—

“I suppose you have heard Dr. Middleton has brought his Cousin Place[14] to keep his house. He very gravely sent us word that his cousin had come to spend the winter with him, and it was not impossible they might agree for a longer time; so I fancy he has brought her with him to see if she likes to play at quadrille, and sup on sack posset with the grave doctors, whose company to one of her gay temper must be delightful. I suspected his designs when he made so many complaints in London, that it was so very difficult to find a maid who understood making jellies and sack posset, which he and a certain doctor used to have for their suppers. He lost one lady because she was deaf to him; but I believe that fortune, to make amends to him, has blinded this. For though I don’t doubt he always takes care to show her the side of his face which Mr. Doll says is younger by ten years than the other, yet that is rather too old to be a match for twenty-five, which I believe is the age of Mrs.[15] Place.”

[14] Mary, daughter of the Rev. Conyers Place, of Dorchester. She died April 26, 1745.

[15] It was the custom at this time to give spinster ladies the complimentary title of “Mrs.”


The next letter she says—

“I have not heard from Dr. Middleton a great while. I suppose his thoughts are taken up with business and his pretty cousin in the West. I don’t know whether she has made a complete conquest of his heart.”

In May, 1733—

“Dr. Middleton now owns his marriage. I wish he finds the felicity of it answers his resigning a £100 a year. I am glad, for the sake of any other family, he has not got another rich widow; if he had, it would have been her turn to resign.”

This alludes to the fact that on the learned doctor’s remarriage he had to resign his fellowship.


Mr. Robinson, Elizabeth’s father, was not fond of the country, where his wife’s fine estate and his nine children condemned him to reside the greater part of the year; and when we consider how young a man he was, then only thirty-one, and his great love of witty society, one cannot be surprised at his having attacks of the “hyp” or “vapours,” as the terms for ennui were then. Elizabeth writes to Lady Margaret from Mount Morris—

“Though I am tired of the country, to my great satisfaction I am not so much so as my Pappa; he is a little vapoured, and last night, after two hours’ silence, he broke out with a great exclamation against the country, and concluded in saying that living in the country was sleeping with one’s eyes open. If he sleeps all day, I am sure he dreams much of London. What makes this place more dull is, my brothers are none of them here; two of them went away about a fortnight ago, and ever since my Pappa has ordered me to put a double quantity of saffron[16] in his tea.”


[16] Saffron, said to be good for heaviness of spirits.


February 11, 1734, she writes—

“Dr. Middleton sends us word my Pappa’s acquaintance wonder he has not the spleen, but they would cease their surprise if they knew he was so much troubled with it that his physicians cannot prescribe him any cordial strong enough to keep up his spirits. We think London would do it effectually, and I believe he will have recourse to it.”


On July 11, 1734, Lady Margaret Cavendish Harley married William, 2nd Duke of Portland.[17] There are no letters of Elizabeth’s in my possession on the occasion of her friend’s marriage; they recommence October 20 in the same year. Henceforward all the duchess’s letters were franked by the duke, and many of Elizabeth’s, often unfortunately undated. At this period ladies prevailed on such of their friends as were either Peers or members of Parliament, to sign sheets of letter-paper with their names at the back, often of folio size, which they used free of cost as they wanted them, wrapping their letters in these outer sheets and sealing them. As a single letter from London to Edinburgh cost 1s.d., if double 2s. 3d., and if treble 3s.d., the smallest inclosure being treated as an additional sheet, to send letters unfranked was a costly luxury. The practice of forging people’s names led to such intolerable abuse of franking that an Act was passed in 1764 making it compulsory for the whole address to be written by the person franking the letter.

[17] William, 2nd Duke of Portland, born 1708, died 1762. Hearne, in his Diary, says, “Is reported the handsomest man in England.”

In October, the same year, Elizabeth replies to a letter from the duchess chiding her for not writing—

Oct. 3, 1734.—I am surprised that my answer to [13]your Grace’s letter has never reached your hands. I sent it immediately to Canterbury by the servant of a gentleman who dined here, and I suppose he forgot to put it in the post. I am reconciled to the carelessness of the fellow, since it has procured to me so particular a mark of your concern. If my letter were sensible, what would be the mortification, that instead of having the honour to kiss your Grace’s hands, it must lie confined in the footman’s pocket with greasy gloves, rotten apples, a pack of dirty cards, and the only companion of its sort, a tender epistle from his sweetheart, ‘tru tell deth.’ Perhaps by its situation subject to be kicked by his master every morning, till at last, by ill-usage and rude company, worn too thin for any other use, it may make its exit in lighting a tobacco-pipe. I believe the fellow who lost my letter knew very well how ready I should be to supply it with another.

“I am, Madam,
“Your Grace’s most obedient servant,
Elizabeth Robinson.”

The duchess’s favourite name for Elizabeth was “Fidget,” a name adopted by all the Bullstrode[18] circle. This was due to her vivacity of mind and body. She was never really a strong person, but her nervous energy enabled her frail body to perform feats that a more lethargic person could not have accomplished. “Why should a table that stands still require so many legs when I can fidget on two?” she would exclaim. The duchess returns an answer on October 25, portions of which I copy—

Dear Fidget,

“I assure you I am very angry at the fellow’s not taking care of your letter, for they always give me infinite pleasure, and I esteem it as a great loss. I am [14]very sensible of the friendship you have for me, and hope you never shall find any reason to the contrary. You have painted extremely well the fate of your letter was not according to its deserts.... Pray do you hear anything of Dr. Middleton and his fine wife?[19] I had a letter not long ago wherein it was said she made the doctor very sensible she had a tongue, and a very sharp one too, with the addition of a clear and distinct voice. If you have any poetry, send it to me; you know it will be acceptable to her who is

“Dear Fidget’s
“Very humble servant and admirer,
M. Cavendish Portland.”

[18] The duchess always spelt Bullstrode with the double l, from the story of the place, and I choose to do the same.

[19] On Dr. Middleton’s second wife.


In Elizabeth’s next letter, November 3, 1734, she regrets that her father, having recovered his spirits, had given up going to Bath as projected, and says—

“One common objection to the country, one sees no faces but those of one’s own family, but my Pappa thinks he has found a remedy for that by teaching me to draw; but then he husbands these faces in so cruel a manner that he brings me sometimes a nose, sometimes an eye at a time: but on the King’s birthday, as it was a festival, he brought me out a whole face with its mouth wide open. Your Grace desired me to send you some verses; I have not heard so much as a Rhyme lately, and I believe the Muses have all got agues in this country, but I have enclosed you the following Summons which we sent an old bachelor, who is very much our humble servant, and would die but not dance for us; but being once in great necessity for partners, we thought him better than an elbow chair, and compelled him to come to this Summons, which pleased me extremely, as I believe it was the first time he ever found the power of the fair sex.... I am so far from Cambridge, and have no friend charitable enough to send me any scandal, [15]I have heard nothing of either of the doctors, but as to my dear grandmother,[20] I have before heard she was as famous as a free speaker as he is for a free-thinker.[21]

[20] This is Elizabeth’s fun, as her own grandmother was dead, and the doctor was her step-grandfather.

[21] Dr. Middleton held free-thinking views on the Old Testament.



“‘Kent, to J. B., Esqre.[22]

“‘Whereas complaint has been made to us Commissioners of Her Majesties’ Balls, Hopps, Assemblies, &c., for the county aforesaid, that several able and expert men, brought up and instructed in the art or mistery of Dancing, have and daily do refuse, though often thereunto requested, to be retained and exercised in the aforesaid Art or Mistery, to the occasion of great scarcity of good dancers in these parts, and contrary to the Laws of Gallantry and good manners, in that case made and provided: And whereas we are likewise credibly informed that you J. B., Esqre., though educated in the said Art by that celebrated Master, Lally, Senior, are one of the most notorious offenders in this point, these are therefore in the name of the Fair Sex, to require you, the said J. B., Esqre., personally to be and appear before us, at our meeting this day at the sign of the “Golden Ball,” in the parish of Horton, in the county aforesaid, between the hours of twelve and one in the forenoon to answer to such matter as shall be objected against you, concerning the aforesaid refusal and contempt of our jurisdiction and authority, and to bring with you your dancing shoes, laced waistcoat and white gloves. And hereby fail not under peril of our frowns, and being henceforth deemed and accounted an Old Bachelor. Given under our hands and seals this eighth day of October, 1734, to which we all set our hands.’”

[22] James Brockman, of Beachborough. The summons is still kept at Beachborough.



The “Golden Ball” was the ball of the weathercock on the lantern cupola of the house at Mount Morris. In the next letter, November 20, she says—

“Out of my filial piety I would persuade my Pappa to set out for London. I have been preaching to him all this day, that when Saul had the spleen, David’s musick did him a great deal of good, and that I am satisfied Farinelli[23] would do him as much service. He goes frequently shooting or coursing, and fancies that will prevent its return, and to answer me with the Scripture, says, Nimrod the mighty hunter never had the Hyp. Dr. Middleton designed to bring his Dearee to London, but if she is so gay it may be as prudent to keep her at Cambridge ... if it should enter her head that the doctor is no greater than another, what a mortification it would be to my good Grand-pappa; if he knows himself and her, I think he would agree with Arnolfe in L’Ecole des Femmes[24]

“‘Que c’est assez pour elle, a vous en bien parler,
De savoir prier Dieu, l’aimer, coudre, et filer.’”

[23] Carlo Brocchi, whose professional name was Farinelli, vocalist and pupil of Porpora.

[24] A play of Molière’s.


Emery Walker Ph. Sc.

Miss Sarah Morris

Mr. Robinson, who drew and painted in a style worthy of a professional artist, was anxious Elizabeth should become a proficient in the same art, but she writes to the duchess—

“If you design to make any proficiency in that art, I would advise you not to draw old men’s heads. It was the rueful head countenance of Socrates or Seneca that first put me out of conceit of it; had my Pappa given me the blooming faces of Adonis or Narcissus, I might have been a more apt scholar; and when I told him I found those great beards difficult to draw, he gave me St. [17]John’s head in a charger, so to avoid the speculation of dismal faces, which by my art I dismalized ten times more than they were before, I threw away my pencil.”


In October, 1735, the duchess’s first child was born, Elizabeth, eventually wife of the 1st Marquis of Bath. Elizabeth writes to congratulate her, and states she heard Dr. Mead (then the great ladies’ doctor) pronounced it the finest child he ever saw. Elizabeth had just returned from her first visit to Tunbridge Wells for her health, suffering much from headaches and weak eyes. At this period the Dowager Duchess of Portland died. The letters up to this date were addressed to “To Her Grace, The junior Duchess of Portland.”


Elizabeth writes a description of her five weeks at Tunbridge Wells. After comments on an unhappy marriage recently made, she says—

“You know some of our Grub Street wits compared marriage to a country dance, which scheme I extremely approved, but when I read it, I thought it should have been set to the tune of ‘Love for ever;’ but they say it never did go to that tune, nor ever would. I danced twice a week all the time I was at Tunbridge, and once extraordinary, for Lord Euston[25] came down to see Lord Augustus Fitzroy,[26] and made a ball. Lord Euston danced with the Duchess of Norfolk,[27] but her Grace went home early, and then Lord Euston danced with Lady Delves. We all left off about one o’clock. The day after I left the Wells, I went to the Races (Canterbury), which began on Monday, and ended on Thursday.... Monday there was an Assembly, Tuesday a Play, Wednesday an Assembly again, and Thursday another play, and as soon as that was over, we had a ball where we had ten couple. I did not go to [18]bed after our private ball till six o’clock, and rose again before nine.

“The person who was taken most notice of at Tunbridge as particular is a young gentleman your Grace may be perhaps acquainted with, I mean Lord Stanhope.[28] He is always making mathematical scratches in his pocket-book, so that one half the people took him for a conjurer, and the other half for a fool.”

[25] George, Earl of Euston, son of the 2nd Duke of Grafton.

[26] A brother of Lord Euston.

[27] Wife of Edward, 9th Duke of Norfolk.

[28] Philip, 2nd Earl Stanhope, born 1714.

In a letter of October 2 is the first mention of Mrs. Pendarves,[29] afterwards Mrs. Delany. It runs—

“Your pleasures are always my satisfactions; I assure you I partake at Mount Morris all the happiness you tell me you receive at Bullstrode. I am sure Mrs. Pendarves cannot give you any pleasure in her conversation that she is not repayed in enjoying yours. I am glad you have got so agreeable a companion with you; it is a happiness you have not always enjoyed, though deserved.”

[29] Née Mary Granville, widow of Mr. W. Pendarves, born 1700, died 1788. Daughter of John Granville.


Mention is made of the duchess’s desire to obtain beautiful shells, and Elizabeth desired her sailor brother Robert, who had just returned from Italy, and was going in his ship to the East Indies, to bring home what he can in shells and feathers of all sorts—parrots, peacocks, etc.—for work the duchess was doing. This feather work became a rage of both the duchess and Elizabeth, and was the precursor of the celebrated feather hangings, immortalized by Cowper’s verses in Elizabeth’s later years. A humorous description of Lady Thanet,[30] then the great lady of West Kent, an amusing character, and great-aunt of the Duchess of Portland, is given in the same letter—


“Lord Thanet[31] said when he came to Kent this summer that Lord Cowper[32] had brought his Countess[33] to affront all East Kent, and he had brought his Countess to affront all West Kent. She was a little discomposed one day at dinner and threw a pheasant and a couple of partridges off the table in shoving them up to my Lord to cut up.”

[30] Mary, 4th daughter and coheiress of 2nd Marquis of Halifax.

[31] 7th Earl of Thanet.

[32] William, 2nd Earl Cowper.

[33] Henrietta, daughter of Earl Grantham.


Early in 1737, the second daughter of the duchess’s was born—Henrietta, afterwards Countess of Stamford and Warrington. Elizabeth writes to congratulate her on the event. She and her family were very ill of fever that summer, thirteen persons down with it in the house. The smallpox raged at Canterbury, and Mrs. Robinson would not allow her daughters to attend the races. In a letter of September mention is made of Dr. Conyers Middleton’s disappointment at not obtaining the Mastership of the Charter House, which he most desired. Another peep at Lady Thanet—

“Lady Thanet came into this part of the country ten days ago; her French woman rode astride through the wilds of Kent, and the country people having heard her Ladyship was something odd, took Mademoiselle for Lady Thanet.”

The first letter extant between Elizabeth and Miss Anstey, sister of Christopher Anstey, the author of the “New Bath Guide,”[34] may be placed here, though undated, except “Mount Morris, near Hythe, July 15.” This extract shows her vivacious nature—

[34] The “New Bath Guide” was not written till 1766. The Ansteys lived at Brinckley near Cambridge.

“Yesterday I was overturned coming from a neighbour’s. We got no hurt at all, but were forced to borrow [20]a coach to bring us the rest of the way, our own being quite disabled by the fall.... I always think one visits in the country at the hazard of one’s bones, but fear is never so powerful with me, as to make me stay at home, and the next thing to being retired, is to be morose: contemplation is not made for a woman on the right side of thirty, it suits prodigiously well with the gout or the rheumatism: rest and an elbow chair are the comfort of age, but the pleasures of youth are of a more lively sort. I have in winter gone eight miles to dance to the music of a blind fiddler, and returned at two in the morning, mightily pleased that I had been so well entertained. I am so fond of dancing that I cannot help fancying I was at some time bit by a tarantula,[35] and never got well cured of it. I shall this year lose my annual dancings at Canterbury Races, for my Papa has made a resolution (I assure you without my advice) not to go to them.”

[35] It was believed that a tarantula’s bite was only to be cured by dancing.


In the next letter to the duchess, October 15, 1737—

“Lady Thanet made a ball at Hothfield a few days ago to which she did our family the honour to invite them, and as we were obeying her commands and got into the coach with our ball airs and our dancing shoes, at five miles of our journey we met with a brook so swelled by the rain it looked like a river, and the water, we were told, was up to the coach seat, and as I had never heard of any balls in the Elysian Fields, and don’t so much as know whether the ghosts of departed beaux wear pumps, I thought it better to reserve ourselves for the Riddotto[36] than hazard drowning for this ball, and so we turned back and went to Sir Wyndham Knatchbull’s,[37] who were hindered by the same water; for my part I could think of nothing but the ball, when any one [21]asked me how I did I cry’d tit for tat, and when they bid me sit down, I answered ‘Jack of the green.’ A few days after the ball, Lady Thanet bespoke a play at a town eight miles from us, and summoned us to it; two of my brothers, and my sister,[38] and your humble servant went, and after the play the gentlemen invited all the women to a supper at a tavern, where we staid till two o’clock in the morning, and then all set out for their respective homes. Here I suppose you will think my diversion ended, but I must tell your Grace it did not; for before I had gone two miles, I had the pleasure of being overturned, at which I squalled for joy; and to complete my felicity I was obliged to stand half an hour in the most refreshing rain, and the coolest north breeze I ever felt; for the coach’s braces breaking were the occasion of our overturn, and there was no moving till they were mended. You may suppose we did not lose so favourable an opportunity of catching cold; we all came croaking down to breakfast the next morning, and said we had caught no cold, as one always says when one has been scheming, but I think I have scarce recovered my treble notes yet. We had seven coaches at the play; there was Lord Winchilsea,[39] Lady Charlotte Finch,[40] Lady Betty Fielding,[40] Capt. Fielding,[41] his lady, and the Miss Palmers.[42] Mr. Fielding and Miss Molly Palmer caught such colds they sent for a physician the next day; Lady Knatchbull and Miss Knatchbull have kept their beds ever since: poor Lady Thanet was overturned as she went home, and caught a terrible hoarseness, which was the better for the poor coachman, who by that means escaped a sharp and shrill reproof; and indeed it is enough for any poor man to lye under the terror of her frowns, with a look she can wound, with a [22]frown she can kill; I think I never saw so formidable a countenance. I think Lord Thanet’s education of his son[43] is something particular; he encourages him in swearing and singing nasty ballads with the servants: he is a very fine boy, but prodigiously rude; he came down to breakfast the other day when there was company, and his maid came with him, who, instead of carrying a Dutch toy, or a little whirligig for his Lordship to play with, was lugging a billet for his plaything. There was a fine supper at the ball, 33 dishes all very neat. My elder brother got out of the coach and put on a pair of boots, and rode on to the ball when we turned back.”

[36] An entertainment of music first and afterwards dancing.

[37] 5th Baronet. His place called Mersham Hatch.

[38] Sarah Robinson, three years younger than Elizabeth.

[39] Daniel, 7th Earl Winchilsea.

[40] Sisters of Lord Winchilsea.

[41] Father of Henry Fielding, the novelist.

[42] Daughters of Sir Thomas Palmer of Wingham, Kent. Miss Molly afterwards 2nd Lady Winchilsea.

[43] Sackville Tufton, 8th Earl of Thanet, born 1733.


November 21, the duchess writes to condole with Elizabeth on the loss of the ball, and mentions having been staying with the Duke at Lady Peterborough’s[44]

“Bevis Mount[45] is the most delightful place I ever saw, the house bad and tumbling down, but there is a summer-house in the garden, such a one! From thence there is a prospect of the sea, the Isle of Wight, New Forest, the town of Southampton, the garden laid out with an elegant taste, and in short everything that is agreeable, but particularly the Mistress.... Lord and Lady Wallingford are with us now; they are extremely agreeable. I fancy you must have seen her in public places. She is extremely pretty, and in the French dress.”

[44] Née Anastasia Robinson, wife of the 3rd Lord Peterborough.

[45] Bevis Mount, in Southampton.

Lady Wallingford was the daughter of John Law, the famous financier, by his wife Katherine Knollys, third daughter of Charles Knollys, titular 3rd Earl of Banbury. Mary Katherine Law married in 1732 her first cousin, called Viscount Wallingford.



At this period, though undated, may be placed Elizabeth’s request to her father for a handsome suit of clothes. In a letter to her mother she thanks her “for your goodness in giving me leave to stay, and making it convenient to answer the Duchess’s and my wishes to stay during her confinement. When we came to town the Duchess reckoned the end of April.” From Bullstrode, therefore, she accompanied the duchess and her family to Whitehall, where in a portion of the old palace was the Portlands’ town residence. Elizabeth was now in her eighteenth year. In a letter to her father, too lengthy to insert entirely, worded in the respectful way children addressed their parents then, with “Sir” and “Madam,” and concluding with “your most dutiful daughter,” she says—

“You know this year I am to be introduced by the Duchess to the best company in the town, and when she lies in, am both to receive in form with her all her visits as Lady Bell[46] used to do on that occasion, all the people of quality of both sexes that are in London, and I must be in full dress, and shall go about with her all the winter, therefore a suit of cloathes will be necessary for me, the value of which I submit entirely to you. I shall never so much want a handsome suit as upon this occasion of first appearing with my Lady Duchess; but as the first consideration is to please you, I would by no means urge this beyond your pleasure, by duty or inclination, I shall always be content with what you order, and hope you will not be displeased with my requests.”

[46] Lady Isabella Bentinck, sister of the duke.

To this appeal her father sent her £20, and she returns thanks thus:—

“Whitehall, Thursday.


“Wit is seldom accompanied with money, but your letter came to me with so much of both, that I can neither send you thanks, nor an answer worthy of [24]your present epistle. You are very good to gratify my bosom friend, vanity, which, though it does not abandon me in a plain gown, takes greater delight in seeing me in a handsome one, and it has promised me that I shall appear to advantage in my new suit of cloathes, both to myself and other people.... The Duchess, with her advice, will help me to make the best use of your generosity. I have been to the Mercer’s, but have not yet pitched upon a silk.... Mr. Pope has wrote an epitaph upon himself, which is not by far the best monument of his wit; it is a trifling thing, and seems wrote for amusement. I would send it you if I could, but I have not got a copy of it; as soon as I have I will convey it to Mount Morris, where I imagine you may want amusements, and our roads are not smooth enough for Pegasus.”


This epitaph is probably the one commencing “Under this marble, or under this sill, or under this turf, or e’en what they will.” At the end of the letter she says of her sailor brother—

“Now Robert is secure of his commission, his life is something hazardous, but he holds danger in contempt, the golden fruit of gain is always guarded by some dragon which courage or vigilance must conquer.”

He had just been made captain of the Bedford, a ship in the merchant service. Evidently Mrs. Robinson wrote a letter of advice as to the important choice of “cloathes.” The answer runs—


“I have obeyed your commands as to my cloathes, and have bought a very handsome Du Cape within the twenty pounds; a little accident which had happened to the silk in the Lomb made it a great deal cheaper, and, I believe, will not be at all the worse when made up; the colour in some places is a little damaged, but that will [25]cut for the tail, and the rest is perfectly good. It will last longer clean than a flowered silk, and I have already had two since I have been in Mantuas:[47] I saw some of 25s. a yard that I did not think so pretty. Pray, Madam, let my thanks be repeated to my Pappa, to whose goodness I owe this suit of cloathes.... Pray send me by Tom the figured Dimity that was left of my upper coat, for it is too narrow and too short for my present hoop, which is of the first magnitude.”

[47] The expression then used for the period when young ladies were what we call “out.”


At the end of this letter Anne Donnellan is mentioned for the first time. She was a friend of Dean Swift’s, together with her sister, Mrs. Clayton, and her brother, the Rev. Christopher Donnellan. Anne Donnellan’s pet name in the Duchess of Portland’s circle was “Don,” as Mrs. Pendarves (afterwards Mrs. Delany) was “Pen,” Miss Dashwood “Dash,”[48] and Lady Wallingford “Wall.”

[48] The “Delia” of the poet Hammond.




On April 16, 1738, the Duchess of Portland’s son, William Henry, afterwards 3rd Duke, was born, after which Elizabeth returned home with her father. On June 30 the duchess wrote to apologize for a long silence—

“I should have answered dear Fidget’s letter before I left London, but you are sensible what a hurry one lives in there, and particularly after being confined some months from public diversions, how much one is engaged in them, Operas, Park, Assemblies, Vaux Hall—which I believe you never had the occasion of seeing. You must get your Papa to stay next year: it is really insufferable going out of town at the most pleasant time of the year. I am positive the easterly winds have much greater effect upon the spirits in the country, than it is possible they should have in London. I dare say the chief part of the year your Papa is in town he don’t know which way the wind is, except when he goes into a Coffee House and meets with some poor disbanded Officer who is quarrelling with the times and consequently with the weather, because he is not a General in time of peace; or a valetudinarian, that if a fly settled on his nose, would curse the Easterly wind, and fancy it had sent it there; these are the only people that ever thought of East wind in London.”


At the end of the letter the duchess says, “My amusements are all of the Rural kind—Working, Spinning, Knotting, Drawing, Reading, Writing, Walking, and picking Herbs to put into an Herbal.”


This little peep of her life is most characteristic, though fond of the pleasures of high society diversions, and the varieties of London, she took an interest in all sorts of country and domestic pursuits, and excelled in them. She turned in wood and ivory; she was familiar with every kind of needlework; she made shell frames, adorned grottoes, designed feather work, collected endless objects in the animal and vegetable kingdom; was a hearty lover of animals and birds of all kinds. Her letters are lively and affectionate, but not clever and witty as her friend Elizabeth Robinson’s. She complains of her stupidity in letter-writing. Elizabeth had the witty head, and the duchess the cunning hand, but both possessed that valuable possession, warm hearts. To the duchess’s last letter Elizabeth replies—

“I arrived at Mount Morris rather more fond of society than solitude. I thought it no very agreeable change of scene from Handel[49] and Cafferelli.[50]... Sir Francis Dashwood’s sister is going to be married to Sir Robert Austin, a baronet of our county; if the size of his estate bore any proportion to the bulk of his carcase, he would be one of the greatest matches in England ... a lady may make her lover languish till he is the size she most likes ... as it is the fashion for men to die for love, the only thing a woman can do is to bring a man into a consumption; what triumph then must attend the lady who reduces Sir Robert Austin ... to asses’ milk. Omphale made Hercules spin, but greater glory awaits the lady who makes Sir Robert Austin lean.... I told [28]my Pappa how much he laid under your Grace’s displeasure for hurrying out of town: but what is a fine lady’s anger, or the loss of London, to five and forty? They are more afraid of an easterly wind than a frown when at that age.”

[49] George Frederick Handel, born 1685, died 1759.

[50] Gaetano Majoriano Caffarelli, celebrated Italian singer, pupil of Porpora, died 1783.


On December 17 Elizabeth writes to the duchess in answer to a string of queries the latter had sent her—

“I must take the liberty to advise what is to be done, and to avoid confusion will take them in the order of the letter. Item, for the wet-nurse[51] after the chickenpox, that she may become new milch again, a handful of Camomile flowers, a handful of Pennyroyal, boiled in white wine, and sweetened with treacle, to be taken at going to rest. For my Lord Titchfield who grows prodigiously, Daisy roots and milk. For the small foot and taper ancle of my Lady Duchess, bruised and strained by a fall, a large shoe and oil Opodeldock. For the horse whose Christian name I have forgotten, Friar’s Balsam, and for the death of a dormouse take four of the fairest Moral and Theological Virtues, with patience and fortitude, quantum sufficit, and they will prevent immoderate grieving.... I heard a very ridiculous story a few days ago: Mr. Page, brother to Sir Gregory, going to visit Mr. Edward Walpole,[52] a tame goat which was in the street followed him unperceived when he got out of the coach into the house. Mr. Walpole’s servant, thinking the goat came out of Mr. Page’s coach, carried it into the room to Mr. Walpole, who thought it a little odd Mr. Page should bring such a visitor, as Mr. Page no less admired at his choice of so savoury a companion; but civility, a great disguiser of sentiments, prevented their declaring their opinions, and the goat, no respecter of persons or furniture, began to rub himself against the frame of a chair which was [29]carved and gilt, and the chair, which was fit for a Christian, but unable to bear the shock of a beast, fell almost to pieces. Mr. Walpole thought Mr. Page very indulgent to his dear crony the goat, and wondering he took no notice of the damage, said he fancied tame goats did a great deal of harm, to which the other said he believed so too: after much free and easy behaviour of the goat, to the great detriment of the furniture, they came to an explanation, and Mr. Goat was turned downstairs with very little ceremony or good manners.... Dr. Middleton has got two nieces whom he is to keep entirely, for his brother left them quite destitute. They are very fine children, and my Grannam is very fond of them. The doctor is soon to bring forth his ‘Cicero,’ everybody says the production will do him credit. Lady Thanet has set an assembly on foot about eight miles from hence, where we all meet at the full moon and dance till 12 o’clock, and then take an agreeable journey home. Our assembly in full glory has ten coaches at it; and Lady Thanet, to make up a number, is pleased in her humility to call in all the parsons, apprentices, tradesmen, apothecaries, and farmers, milliners, mantua-makers, haberdashers of small wares, and chambermaids. It is the oddest mixture you can imagine—here sails a reverent parson, there skips an airy apprentice, here jumps a farmer, and then every one has an eye to their trade; the milliner pulls you by the hand till she tears your glove; the mantua-maker treads upon your petticoat till she unrips the seams; the shoemaker makes you foot it till you wear out your shoes; the mercer dirties your gown; the apothecary opens the window behind you to make you sick. Most of our neighbours will be in town by the next moon, so we shall have no more balls this winter. In town the ladies talk of their stars, but here, ‘If weak women go astray, the moon is more in fault than they.’ Will o’ Whisp never led the bewildered traveller over hedge or ditch as a moon does us country folk; a squeaking fiddle is an occasion, and a moonlight night an opportunity, to go ten miles in[30] bad roads at any time. I must tell your Grace that my Papa forgets twenty years and nine children, and dances as nimbly as any of the Quorum, but is now and then mortified by hearing the ladies cry, ‘Old Mr. Robinson hay sides, and turn your daughter:’ other ladies who have a mind to appear young say, ‘Well, there is my poor Grandpapa; he could no more dance so.’ Then comes an old bachelor of fifty and shakes him by the hand, and cries, ‘Why you dance like us young fellows:’ another more injudicious than the rest, says by way of compliment, ‘Who would think you had six fine children taller than yourself? I protest if I did not know you I should take you to be young.’ Then says the most antiquated Virgin in the company, ‘Mr. Robinson wears mighty well; my mother says he looks as well as ever she remembers him; he used often to come to the house when I was a girl.’ You may suppose he has not the ‘hyp’ at these balls; but indeed it is a distemper so well bred as never to come but when people are at home and at leisure.”

[51] Wet-nurse of the Marquis of Titchfield.

[52] Son of Sir Robert and brother of Horace Walpole.


In April, 1739, Elizabeth’s cousin, Grace Robinson, sister of “Long” Sir Thomas Robinson,[53] married the Rev. William Freind,[54] son of the Rev. Dr. Robert Freind, Head Master of Westminster School. Soon after the marriage, Elizabeth, who appears to have known Mr. Freind intimately before he married her cousin, writes from “Leicester Street, near Leicester Fields,” to Mr. and Mrs. Freind, “How rare meet now, such pairs in love and honour joyn’d,” and addresses them as “my inestimable cousins.” She states that her family return to Kent shortly, whilst she is going to the Duchess of Portland in White Hall. Elizabeth writes [31]to the duchess on July 1, 1739, having just returned home from her visit—

“I have thought of nothing but the company I was in on Tuesday since I left town, though a worshipful Justice with a new leathern belt, scarlet waistcoat and plush breeches, has been endeavouring this whole afternoon to put you out of my head. I have been forced to hear the most elegant encomiums upon the country, and the most barbarous censures upon the town. First his Worship talked of Larks and Nightingales, then enlarged upon the sweetness of bean blossom, roses and honeysuckles, said the town stunk of cabbages and limekilns, so that I found as to pleasures he was lead by the nose.”

[53] Sir Thomas Robinson, eldest son of William Robinson, of Rokeby; made a baronet in 1730. Called “Long” Sir Thomas to distinguish him from Sir Thomas Robinson, afterwards 1st Baron Grantham.

[54] Succeeded his father as Rector of Whitney, Oxon, and afterwards Dean of Canterbury.


Further on she says, the Canterbury Races were to be on July 18, and begs her Grace, if she knows any dancing shoes which lye idle, to bid them trip to Canterbury, as there will be many forsaken damsels—

“Our collection of men is very antique, they stand in my list thus: a man of sense, a little rusty, a beau a good deal the worse for wearing, a coxcomb extremely shattered, a pretty gentleman, very insipid, a baronet very solemn, a squire very fat, a fop much affected, a barrister learned in ‘Coke upon Lyttelton’ but knows nothing of ‘long ways for many as will,’ an heir-apparent, very awkward; which of these will cast a favourable eye upon me I don’t know.”


She was destined not to go after all, for she writes—

“Mount Morris, July 18, 1739.


“The great art of life is to turn our misfortunes to our advantage, and to make even disappointments instrumental to our pleasures. To follow which rule I have taken the day which I should have gone to the Races to write to your Grace. About ten days ago my [32]Papa took an hypochondriacal resolution not to go to the Races, for the Vapours and Love are two things that seek solitude, but for me, who have neither in my constitution, a crowd is not disagreeable, and I always find myself prompted by a natural benevolence and love of Society to go where two or three are gathered together.... The theory of dancing is extreamly odd, tho’ the practice is agreeable; who could by force of reasoning find out the satisfaction of casting off right hand and left, and the Hayes; we often laugh at a kitten turning round in pursuit of its tail, when the creature is really turning single. I shall have an account of the Races from my brother Robinson, who is there; as for the Barrister,[55] he came down to the Sessions, and when he had sold all his Law, packed up his saleable eloquence and carried it back to Lincoln’s Inn, there to be left till called for. Would you think a person so near akin to me as a brother could run away from a ball? I hear some Canterbury girls who could aspire no higher than a younger brother, are very angry, and say they shall never put their cause into his hands, as he seems so little willing to defend it.... Next year we must certainly go to the Races for the good of the county, and dance out of the spirit of Patriotism. The Election year always brings company to Canterbury upon this occasion, and as for me I will dance to either a Whig or a Tory tune, as it may be, for in any wise I will dance. I am not like the dancing Monkies who will only cut their capers for King George, I will dance for any man or Monarch in Christendom, nay were it even a Mahometan or idolatrous King; I should not make much scruple about it. I had the misfortune to be overturned the other day coming from Sir Wyndham Knatchbull’s,[56] the occasion of it was one of our wheels coming off. I assure you I but just avoided the indecency of being topsy turvey, my head was so much lower than its usual situation, as put my ideas much out of place, and I think my head has[33] been in a perfect litter ever since.... I shall begin to think from my frequent overturns a bone-setter a necessary part of equipage for country visiting. I am sure those who visit much, love their neighbours better than themselves; perhaps you will be as apt to suspect me as anybody of that extream of charity, but I am so tender of myself there are few I would hazard even a gristle or a sinew, but civility is a debt that must be paid. I hope in all accidents I shall preserve a finger and thumb, to write myself

“Your Grace’s most obedient and obliged
“Humble servant,
E. Robinson.

“My humble service to the Duke.”

[55] Her brother Thomas.

[56] At Mersham Hatch.

Illustration: Mr. & Mrs. Matthew Robinson

Hamilton, Pinx. Emery Walker Ph. Sc.

Mr. & Mrs. Matthew Robinson


The duchess was now expecting her confinement, and Lady Wallingford, who was staying with her, corresponded with Elizabeth in French. Owing to the residence of her father in France as Superintendent of Finances, she was more French than English. Her letters are well written and expressed, though the spelling is peculiar. At a later date she writes to Elizabeth in broken English, and she scolds her for making her correspond in English instead of French. Horace Walpole, in a letter to the Earl of Buchan, states that Lady Wallingford was the image of her father, and that her mother, Lady Katherine Law, lived during her husband’s power in France in great state. On July 26, 1739, another daughter, Lady Margaret, was born to the duchess. Dr. Sandys was, as usual, the accoucheur, but it makes one horrified in these days to think Dr. Sandys bled the duchess for a feverish cold on the Monday and Thursday after her child was born. Truly under this San Grado treatment it was then the “survival of the fittest”! The duke now wrote a bulletin of his wife to Elizabeth—


“Whitehall, August 9, 1739.


“Tho’ J have not been overturned you’ll imagine by the scrawl you receive yt both my thumb and forefinger have been dislocated; J own j can’t agree with you in yt for j flatter myself j have the use of them, but if you please j’ll agree with you that they never were in joint, for which reason j am not so sensible of ye loss of jointed fingers, as you might be had yours been broke by the overturn of your coach, which accident j hope may never happen to you. The Dss. is as well as can be expected tho’ a little weak, and is extremely obliged to you for your letter, and also begged j would hint yt tho’ she can’t wright letters she can read them, j need not explain my meaning to you. She desires her kind service to Fidgett; and should be glad if you would make her compliments acceptable to your Mama, etc.

“j am with the uttmost respect, Madam,
“Your most obedient, humble servant,

The duke’s writing is very characteristic, but certainly rather disjointed looking, and his I’s always written as long j’s.

Elizabeth had just had another coach adventure. The coachman who drove her father and mother and her brother Matthew home after dining at a neighbour’s, was drunk, which they did not perceive till he lashed the four horses into a furious gallop. In vain Mr. Robinson called to him, and swore at him; Matthew and Mrs. Robinson intreated; he persisted in lashing the horses till he fell off the box, and two wheels ran over him, but as Elizabeth states, “being preserved in beer, took very little harm; both footmen were drunk, so took very little care about us.”

In a letter to the duchess (August 15) we find Elizabeth and her sister Sarah banished from home to Canterbury on account of a woman and three children[35] who lived in a farmhouse near the gate of Mount Morris having the smallpox. That fell disease ever inspired Elizabeth with great dread. Later in life at three different times she was inoculated,[57] each time unsuccessfully, for this disease, then a universal scourge. I should like the foolish fathers and mothers of the present day who petition for non-vaccination to read the accounts given in letters I possess of the unbridled ravages then made by smallpox, and to consider that a usually temporary inconvenience to the child’s health is a very trifling infliction compared with a loathsome disease, which many people fled from nursing, and which even if it did not kill the sufferers, probably disfigured them for life. The sisters first stayed with Mrs. Scott,[58] and then with Mrs. Tennison, “wife to a prebend in this church; there is very little company here, except Deans, Prebends and Minor Canons, etc., etc.; nothing but messages and visits from Prebends, Deacons, and the Church militant upon earth.” Later on, speaking of her brother Matthew’s refusal to leave home on account of the smallpox, she says, “I have seven brothers, and would not part with one for a kingdom; and if I had but one, I should be distracted about him; sure nobody has so many or so good brothers.”

[57] Lady Mary Wortley Montagu introduced inoculation into England in 1721.

[58] Of Scott’s Hall.


Meanwhile the duchess had a return of fever, and was for some days in great danger. On August 28 Lady Wallingford writes to say she was out of danger. Influenza was rife then, and Lady Wallingford states that she had not a single lackey fit to attend her from her house to Whitehall, but had walked there by herself, though still suffering from its effects. It was not then called influenza, but from the description must have[36] been that disease. Eight out of the nine in the farm at Mount Morris caught the smallpox, and the duke, writing to Elizabeth on September 15, a bulletin about his wife, adds—

“Both she and j[59] join in entreating you not to venture yourself, and that pretty face of yours, to come within the walls of your paternal mansion, and were j in your situation, nothing but absolute commands should make me venture myself.”

[59] The “j” for “I,” characteristic of the duke’s writing.

After her visit to Canterbury, Elizabeth spent a month at Mersham Hatch with the Knatchbulls. She now became seriously indisposed; her health was always frail, and she appears to have suffered much from headaches at this period. In a letter to the duchess she complains—

“I have swallowed the weight of an Apothecary in medicine, and what I am the better for it, except more patient, and less credulous, I know not. I have learnt to bear my infirmities and not to trust to the skill of Physicians for curing them. I endeavour to drink deeply of Philosophy, and to be wise when I cannot be merry, easy when I cannot be glad, content with what cannot be mended, and patient where there be no redress. The mighty can do no more, and the wise seldom do as much.”

On October 10 she announces that she and her mother, who had been extremely unwell too, had been advised to drink the Bath waters, and were to be accompanied there by her father. She hopes to see the duchess on her way to Bath, but bids her tell her porter to admit her, as she has grown so thin—

“he will think it is my ghost and shut the door. I shall stay but a few days in town and then proceed with[37] my Father and Mother, to the waters of life and recovery. My Pappa’s chimney ‘hyp’ will never venture to attack him in a public place; it is the sweet companion of solitude and the off-spring of meditation, the disease of an idle imagination, not the child of hurry and diversion. I am afraid that with the gaiety of the place, and the spirits the waters give, I shall be perfect Sal-Volatile, and open my mouth and evaporate.... I was a month at Hatch, where the good humour of the family makes everything agreeable; we had great variety in the house—children in cradles, and old women in elbow chairs. I think the family may be looked upon as the three tenses, the present, past and future.”


On a fresh scare being caused by the illness of her maid, which the old women of the parish pronounced to be smallpox, Mrs. Robinson sent Elizabeth and Sarah to the cottage of the carpenter hard by without delay, though so late that Elizabeth writes—

“I arrived at my new lodging but the moment before it was time to go to bed, where I slept pretty well, notwithstanding the goodman and his wife snored, the little child cryed, the maid screamed, one little boy had whooping cough, another roared with chilblains. The furniture of our chamber is extraordinary, the ornamental parts as follows:—on the mantelpiece four stone tea-cups, four wineglasses, two broken, two leaden cherubims, a piece of looking-glass, with a ‘beggerly account of empty bottles,’ as Shakespeare calls it, a print of King Charles the Martyr, the woeful ballad of the children in the wood, a pious copy of verses entitled ‘the believer’s gold chain, or good councell for all men,’ with a resplendent brass warming pan, in which my sister is dressing her head to the disadvantage of her complexion, and not much to the rectitude of her head-dress.”

The alarm proved to be false as to the nature of[38] the maid’s illness, and they returned the next day to the paternal mansion.


On November 12 Elizabeth writes from Bath to her sister a long and indignant letter upon some poems brought out in the name of Prior. She says—

“I got at last this morning the poems just published under Prior’s[60] name, brought them home under my arm, locked my door, sat me down by my fireside, and opened the book with great expectation, but to my disappointment found it to be the most wretched trumpery that you can conceive, the production of the meanest of Curl’s[61] band of scribblers.”

[60] Matthew Prior, born 1664, died 1721.

[61] Edmund Curll, born 1675, died 1747; publisher, etc., ridiculed by Pope in the “Dunciad.”

She continues to inveigh against this forgery in eloquent terms, and towards the end of the letter remarks “that mankind can’t support above two dead languages at a time, so as to have any tolerable knowledge or use of them, therefore in all probability Shakespeare, Milton, Dryden, Prior, and Pope are but short-lived, in comparison of those Methuselahs the Classicks.”


The first letter to the duchess from Bath is dated—

“December 15, Friday, Bath.


“After four days’ journey in very bad roads, I arrived here a good deal tired: if Scarron[62] had not been very facetious, my countenance had not received the impression of a smile since I left Whitehall till my arrival at Bath. I read most of the way, but was sometimes taken off ‘Le petit Ragotin’s’ disasters to fear those that might happen to la petite Fidget.[63]...[39] morning after I arrived, I went to the Ladies’ Coffee House, where I heard of nothing but the rheumatism in the shoulder, the sciatica in the hip, and the gout in the toe. After these complaints I began to fancy myself in the Hospitals or Infirmaries; I never saw such an assembly of disorders. I dare say Gay[64] wrote his fable of the ‘Court of Death’ from this place. After drinking the waters I go to breakfast, and about 12 I drink another glass of water, and then dress for dinner; visits employ the afternoon, and we saunter away the evening in great stupidity. I think no place can be less agreeable. ‘How d’ye do?’ is all one hears in the morning, and ‘What’s trumps?’ in the afternoon. Lady Berkshire[65] did us the honour of a visit on Wednesday, and inquired much about your health. Lord Berkshire[66] is literally speaking laid by the leg, which the gout has usurped, for it has ever been a distemper of very great quality, and runs in the blood of the Howards. Mr. Howard and Mr. Tom Howard,[67] Lord Berkshire’s youngest son, are here, as are Mrs. Greville and her daughter; Lady Hereford,[68] Lady F. Shirley,[69] Lady Anne Furnese,[70] Lady Anne Finch,[71] Lady Widdrington, Miss Windsors, Miss Gage, and I should first have said the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk,[72] and Mrs. Howard, wife of Brigadier-General Howard; as for the men, except Lord Noel Somerset, they are altogether abominable; however, such as they are, I must dress for the ball, and I will add a supplement to-morrow.

“P.S.—Madam, you know the Spectator says a woman never speaks her mind but in the postscript! Last night produced nothing but some bad dancing, except Mr.[40] Southwell,[73] who was overwhelmed with congratulatory compliments; in one day he was chose Member, made Father to a little daughter, and got a £500 prize in the lottery; he seemed in good spirits, and bowed popularly low to all his acquaintance.... I believe there is a great circulation of company, for the bells are always ringing for somebody to come, or tolling for somebody gone. There are many people I have known and seen before, but very few whom I care to see again. One person whom I like extremely, loves her husband so much better than me, that I cannot persuade her to come out. I believe your Grace has often heard me speak of Mrs. Freind,[74] who is not at all like Sir Tommy her brother. What makes me like her still better is her contempt of Matadors.[75] I do not think she ever dreamt of Spadille in her life, tho’ most people here prefer its company to their best friends.”

[62] Paul Scarron, born 1610, died 1660; French satirist. Husband of Mademoiselle D’Aubigné, afterwards Madame de Maintenon; wrote “Le Roman Comique,” etc.

[63] Her pet-name.

[64] John Gay, born 1685, died 1732; poet, etc.

[65] Catherine, daughter of J. Grahame, of Levens, Westmorland.

[66] 4th Earl of Berkshire.

[67] Afterwards 6th Earl of Berkshire, and 14th Earl of Suffolk.

[68] Wife of 6th Viscount.

[69] Daughter of 1st Earl Ferrers.

[70] Daughter of 1st Earl Ferrers, by second marriage.

[71] Daughter of 1st Earl Aylesford.

[72] Widow of 15th Duke, née Sherburne.

[73] Son of Sir Thomas Southwell.

[74] Her cousin, née Grace Robinson.

[75] Terms used in ombre and quadrille.


In her next letter of January 4, 1740, she says—

“I should be glad to send you some news, but all the news of the place would be like the bills of Mortality, palsy four, gout six, fever one, and so on. We hear of nothing but ‘Mr. such-a-one is not abroad to-day.’ ‘Oh no,’ says another poor gentleman, ‘he dyed to-day.’ Then another cries, ‘My party was made for Quadrille[76] to-night, but one of the gentlemen has had a second stroke of the palsy and cannot come; there is no depending on people, nobody minds engagements.’

“I beg the favour of your Grace to tell Mrs. Pendarves that I often enquire after her from her friend Mrs. Donnellan. I hear there is hope of Mrs. Pendarves coming here in March, but I know you will be against the journey, so I dare not say how glad I should be to see her. I assure we have none like her here.”

[76] Quadrille, a card-game for four people, played with 40 cards, 8’s, 9’s, and 10’s discarded.



Miss Anne Donnellan, who according to the then prevailing custom in regard to unmarried women beyond extreme youth was called Mrs., was the daughter of Nehemiah Donnellan, Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer of Ireland, and Martha, née Miss Usher. Her father was dead, and her mother had, in 1712, remarried the Hon. Philip Percival, brother to the 1st Lord Egmont. The Donnellans were great friends of Dean Swift, and Anne and her brother, the Rev. Christopher Donnellan, were correspondents of his, as can be seen in the printed letters in “Swift’s Life.” The next letter to the duchess says—

“Lord Berkshire was wheeled into the rooms on Thursday night, where he saluted me with much snuff and civility, in consequence of which I sneezed and curtseyed abundantly; as a further demonstration of his loving-kindness, he made me play at commerce with him. You may easily guess at the charms of a place where the height of my happiness is a pair royal at commerce, and a peer of fourscore. Last night I took to the more youthful diversion of dancing, and am nothing but a fan (which my partner tore), the worse for it; our beaux here may make a rent in a woman’s fan, but they never will make holes in her heart, for my part Lord Noel Somerset[77] has made me a convert from toupets and pumps, to tye wigs and a gouty shoe. Ever since my Lord Duke reprimanded me for admiring Lord Crawford’s[78] nimble legs, I have resolved to prefer the merit of the head to the agility of the heels; and I have made so great a progress in my resolution as to like the good sense which limps, better than the lively folly which dances. But to my misfortune he likes the Queen of Spades so much more than me, that he never looks off his cards, though, were I the Queen of Diamonds, he would stand a fair chance for me. Lord Aylesford comes to the rooms every night like ‘Beau Clincher’ in[42] a blanket: he wears a nasty red rugg great coat. The Dowager Duchess of Norfolk bathes, and being very tall she had like to have drowned a few women in the Cross Bath, for she ordered it to be filled till it reached to her chin, and so all those who were below her stature, as well as rank, were forced to come out or drown; and finding, according to the Proverb, in vain to strive against the stream, they left the bath rather than swallow so large a draught of water. I am sorry for the cruel separation of your Grace and Miss Dashwood, I believe no one parts with their friends with greater reluctance than you do.”

[77] Afterwards 4th Duke of Beaufort.

[78] John, 17th Earl of Crawford, and 7th Earl of Lindsay.

On January 25 Elizabeth says, “An unfortunate joint in my hip has been so troublesome, I could not have believed the rheumatism would attack so dancing a leg;” and then commenting on Lord Noel Somerset’s recent engagement to Miss Berkeley[79]

[79] Elizabeth Berkeley, daughter of John Symes Berkeley, of Stoke Gifford.

“I think Lord Noel’s wife must be happy, and Miss Berkeley is a very deserving woman, and good-natured. Everybody is content except those who would have liked the gentleman for themselves.... A man of merit, and a younger brother is a purchase only for a large fortune; as for those who have more merit than wealth, they must turn the penny by disposing of their useless virtues for riches, the exchange may sometimes be difficult, Virtues not being sterling, nor merit the coin of the nation.... Gold is the chief ingredient in the composition of worldly happiness. Living in a cottage on love is certainly the worst diet and the worst habitation one can find out. As for modern marriages they are great infringers of the baptismal vow; for ’tis commonly the pomps and vanities of this wicked world on one side and the simple lust of the flesh on the other side. For my part when I marry I do not intend to enlist entirely under the banner of Cupid or Plutus, but [43]take prudent consideration and decent inclination for my advisers; I like a coach and six extremely, but a strong apprehension of repentance would not suffer me to accept it from many who possess it....

“I beg your Grace to make my compliments to Mrs. Pendarves, and return my sincere thanks for saying so much in my favour as could introduce me to so an agreeable an acquaintance as Mrs. Donnellan. I assure you what she says gives pleasure, and what she sings delight.”[80]

[80] Her exquisite singing is mentioned in Mrs. Delany’s Memoirs.


In January, 1740, the weather was so severe, a frost fair was held on the Thames for weeks together; booths, tents, and shows of all kinds were the order of the day. In a letter to the duchess this is alluded to thus:—

“What will the world come to now the Duchesses drink gin, and frequent Fairs? I am afraid your gentlemen did not pledge you, or they might have resisted the frost and the fatigue by the strength of that comfortable liquor. I want much to know if your Grace got a ride in the Flying Coach, which is part of the diversion of a Fair.... I am much obliged to your Grace for forming schemes for me. If any castles come to my share they must be airy ones, for I have no material to build them on Terra Firma. I am not a good chimerical architect, and besides I would rather dwell this summer in a small room in a certain mansion near Gerrard’s Cross,[81] than in the most spacious building I could get. I shall not be troublesome to you in town, for our stay here will be so long that our family will hardly go down till May. The time will come that we shall meet at Philippi.”

[81] Meaning Bullstrode, which is close to Gerrard’s Cross.


A letter from Mrs. Donnellan, with whom Elizabeth had struck up a lively friendship, and entered into a[44] correspondence, is dated from London, April, 1740, portions of which I copy—

“Since my last I passed a most agreeable day with your friend and mine; the Duke and Duchess of Portland proposed a jaunt into the city to see city shows, and were so obliging as to ask me with Mrs. Pendarves to be of the party. We were four men, four women: our fourth woman was Lady Wallingford, whom I never saw before; but she seems good-natured and civil; our four men, the Duke, Lord Dupplin, Mr. Achard,[82] and Dr. Shaw,[83] all new to me. We set out at ten in two hackney coaches, and stopped at everything that had a name between us and the Tower, going and coming, and dined at a city Tavern. I am extremely glad your time is fixed for coming to us, and that we shall have you a month. You will find the rage for whist[84] a little abated, I hope, if the weather and Vaux Hall is in its lustre. You are right in quarrelling with the men for letting cards take their places in the ladies’ hearts, for I dare say they would rather hear the gentlemen say fine things, than win a Slam, and it is a want of gallantry in the men that runs the women into cards; for something we must have to stir our passions, or life seems dull. Your account of Bath folks diverted me much.... My present delight is the fine lady who admires and hates to excess; she doats on the dear little boy that dances, she detests Handel’s Oratorios; indeed she don’t say she admires Mademoiselle de Chateauneuf’s kicking the tambourine, till she shows herself naked to the waist. She owns it is indecent, but she goes constantly to see her. I don’t know whether you have heard of the kicking entertainment? I have not seen it, but I have heard it very lively described; she kicks twice for the King, and once[45] for the audience, to the great edification of the spectators. I suppose you have heard of the false dice at the last masquerade. I fancy it must have been a pretty sight, a dozen Dominoes, at five in the morning examined before Justice de Val: I think they should have been all Devils with Horns and Hoofs. I saw the Duke and Duchess of Portland yesterday morning at Zincke’s,[85] where she and Mrs. Pendarves are sitting for their pictures.... Adieu; make my compliments to all your family, and believe me, dear Madam,

“Your affectionate friend, and humble servant,
Anne Donnellan.”

[82] Mr. Achard had been tutor to the duke, and was afterwards his secretary.

[83] Dr. Shaw, born 1692, died 1751; Regius Professor of Greek, Oxford. Great traveller, botanist, etc.

[84] Elizabeth hated games of cards.

[85] Christian Frederick Zincke, born 1684, died 1767; eminent miniature painter.


Elizabeth suffering much still from headaches, Dr. Sandys was consulted, and he recommended the plunge bath. This was at Marylebone, at the then popular gardens. This was considered a hazardous exploit, and she first wrote to ask her parents’ consent. Writing to Sarah, she says—

“If you was to see me souse into the cold bath, you would think I had not sense or feeling.... The Duchess went with me the first time, and was frightened out of her wits, but I behaved much to my honour. Mrs. Verney went to learn to go in of me. Mrs. Pendarves went with me to-day, and was as pale as a ghost with the fear of my being drowned, which you know is impossible. I go in every day and have found benefit already; but there are two things I dislike, viz. the pain of going overhead, and the expense of the bath. The Duke and Duchess are very good in lending me the coach every morning to Marrybone, which is two miles from here, but the bath was better than any at Charing Cross: the Duchess says if there is any bath, as she thinks there is in their neighbourhood at Bullstrode, she will send me to it, a tub not being near so good.”


The whole parish of Marylebone belonged to the Duchess of Portland. There were nine springs of water there: vide “Old and New London,” vol. iv.


April, 1740, occurs a letter to her sister Sarah, written whilst staying with the duchess in London. Elizabeth says—

“Lord Oxford went to Bath in the post chaise for a week, he brought us all fairings. Mine were a fan, and a snuff box of Egyptian pebbles set in Pinchbeck.[86] The Duchess a fan, and an enamel tag for her lace.”

[86] Christopher Pinchbeck invented this sham gold. He died in 1732.

The next letter to her mother says—

“I was at Mr. Zincke’s yesterday in the morning, where I am to sit for my picture. On Thursday we went out of town to Sir John Stanley’s[87] at North End. There we met Mrs. Pendarves. I was much pleased with my visit. Sir John at 80 years old has as much politeness, good nature and cheerfulness as I ever met; his behaviour has neither the formality of age, nor the pertness of youth.”

[87] Sir John Stanley married Anne Granville, aunt to Mrs. Pendarves, who had been Maid-of-Honour to Queen Mary II.


In March Lord Oxford gave a ball at Marylebone—

“The Ball was very agreeable. I will give you the list of company as they danced;—the Duchess and Lord Foley,[88] the Duke and Mrs. Pendarves, Lord Dupplin and ‘Dash,’[89] Lord George[90] and ‘Fidget,’ Lord Howard and Miss Cesar, Mr. Granville[91] and Miss Tatton, Mr. Howard and another Miss Cesar. The partners were chosen by their fans, but a little supercherie in the case of one of our dancers appointed failed, so our worthy [47]cousin Sir Tommy[92] was sent for, and he came, but when he had drawn Miss Cesar’s fan he would not dance with her, but Mr. Hay,[93] who as the more canonical diversion, chose cards, danced with the poor forsaken damsel. The Knight bore the roast with great fortitude, and to make amends promised his neglected Fair a ball at his house. I believe in his economy he saves a dinner when invited to supper, for he eat a forequarter of lamb, a chicken, with a plentiful portion of ham, potted beef and jellies innumerable, and made a prodigious breakfast of bread and butter and coffee, a little after two in the morning.... I sat for my picture[94] this morning to Zincke; I believe it will be very like. I am in Anne Boleyn’s dress. I desire you to send me up my worked facing and robing, my point, some lute-string, and the cambrick for my ruffles. I had the pleasure of hearing to-day that our dear Robert had succeeded in getting a ship. I am sorry he will go out with the first fleet. I tremble, too, for fear he should have any engagement with the Spaniards. Mrs. D’Ewes desires to recommend herself to you being of the party of loving sisters.”

[88] Thomas, 2nd Baron Foley.

[89] Miss Dashwood, “Delia.”

[90] Lord George Bentinck, the duke’s brother.

[91] Brother of Mrs. Pendarves.

[92] “Long” Sir Thomas Robinson, of Rokeby.

[93] The Rev. Robert Hay, son of the 7th Earl of Kinnoul; afterwards Archbishop of York.

[94] See portrait in this book.

Mrs. D’Ewes, née Anne Granville, was the beloved sister of Mrs. Pendarves, recently married to Mr. John D’Ewes.... In the next letter to her mother she describes what she calls a “new head,” given to her by the duchess. “Last Tuesday I put on my New head; it is extremely handsome, very broad, and the lace has more thin work in it than has been made till this year.” To this head was added ruffles and a tucker by the same donor. Quin was acting then in London. She writes to Sarah—

“I have been to the play As you Like it. Quin outdid his usual outdoings. I never heard anything spoke with[48] such command of voice and action as the ‘seven stages of man,’ from the rough bass of the good Justice, ‘whose round belly with good capon lined,’ till he sunk to the childish treble; it was really prodigious, the alteration of the voice, he spoke the slippered pantaloon just like my Uncle Clark.[95] I saw the facetious Monsieur and Mademoiselle Fausan dance, but Quin had so possessed himself of my thoughts that I was not over-delighted with them, tho’ I think they dance very well for a character dance. Wednesday I went into the cold bath, and from thence the Duke and Duchess, Mr. Achard, Lord George Bentinck, Lady Throckmorton, Mrs. Collingwood, and Sir Robert Throckmorton[96] went to Mary-le-Bone gardens to breakfast; after that they all went with me to Zincke’s to sit for my picture, and we spent the evening at Vaux Hall. On Thursday we went, two coaches and six, to Kew, Richmond, and Petersham, Lord Harrington’s,[97] where I could turn Pastorella with great pleasure, such prospects, from the most charming place I ever saw, I was ready to call out, ‘O care Selve beate.’ I would tell you more of my meditations, but the bell for supper interrupts me.”

[95] Her great-uncle on her mother’s side.

[96] 4th Baronet and his second wife.

[97] 1st Earl of Harrington.


Lady Wallingford was attacked by smallpox at this time, but had it very favourably. In a letter to Mrs. Robinson, Elizabeth says—

“She never had three hundred all over her, and was at the heighth, I believe, in seven days. Her Lord dyed very suddenly of a quinsy before she had been downstairs, so she had not even the melancholy consolation of a last farewell; she laid up two pairs of stairs, and he below, so they told her he was removed, and died at Kensington. He has left everything to her.... Lord Wallingford certainly caught his death with attending her, a sad aggravation of the affliction; he died with the greatest courage imaginable. Sandys, who with several [49]Physicians and Surgeons was called in, begged him to settle his affairs, upon which he made his will (that he had by him, being very deficient in points of Law), and took leave of his friends. There was no hopes from the first, for this convulsive Quinsy is always mortal.”

In another she says he died of “cramp in the throat,” which sounds more likely. It has been stated that Lord Wallingford died in France, but his death occurred at Whitehall.

The duke and family, including Elizabeth, left Whitehall in June for Bullstrode.[98] In a letter of June 24 to Mr. Freind and his wife, she says—

“The rural beauties of the place would persuade me I was in the plains of Arcadia, but the magnificence of the building under whose gilded roof I dwell, has a pomp far beyond pastoral. We go to chapel twice a week, and have sermons on Sunday, for his Grace of Portland values the title of Christian above that of Duke, and the chaplain may preach against every vice in fashion without fear of offending either his Patron or Patroness.”

[98] Bullstrode was originally in the Shobbington family before the Conquest. Judge Jefferies bought it, and built the house here mentioned in 1686. His son-in-law sold it to the Earl of Portland. In 1807 it was sold to the Duke of Somerset.


In another letter—

“We breakfast at 9, dine at 2, drink tea at 8, and sup at 10. In the morning we work or read. In the afternoon the same, walk from 6 till tea-time, and then write till supper. I think since we came down our despatches in numbers, tho’ not in importance, have equalled those at the Secretary’s Office.... The Duchess and I have been walking in the woods to-night, and feeding the pheasants in the menagerie. The late Duke had Macaws, Parrots, and all sorts of foreign birds flying in one of the woods; he built a house and kept people to wait[50] upon them; there are now some birds in the house, and one Macaw, but most were destroyed in the Duke’s minority.”


On July 22 occurs this interesting letter to her mother—


“Much visiting has of late hindered my writing to you. My Lady Duchess does not care to spare me to write except when she is so employed too, and the time set apart for that is in the evening, and when we make visits at any distance, it is late before we return, and letters go from here between 10 and 11. When we first came down, we supped at 9, but we found so early an hour encroached too much upon our hours of writing, so now we sup at 10, at which time the Duke comes into the Duchess’s dressing-room,[99] where we write together, and franks our packets. On Saturday, we were at Windsor to visit the Miss Granvilles, daughters of the famous Lord Lansdowne;[100] they unhappily inherit neither the wit of their Father, nor the beauty of their Mother.[101]... The Duchess is very civil to them, and Miss Granville was her acquaintance in infancy, and it is very right in her to take notice of them now. Lord Weymouth[102] supports them, but how long he will be willing or able to do so, no one knows. On Sunday, I was at Mrs. Hare’s, widow to the late Bishop Hare,[103] and was much entertained there by Sir John Shadwell and his family, who are just come from abroad. Lady Shadwell[104] saw Lady Mary Wortley at Venice, where [51]she now resides, and asked her what made her leave England; she told them the reason was, people were grown so stupid she could not endure their company, all England was infected with dullness; by-the-bye, what she means by insupportable dullness is her husband,[105] for it seems she never intends to come back while he lives. A husband may be but a dull creature to one of Lady Mary’s sprightly genius, but methinks even her vivacity might accommodate itself to living in the Kingdom with him; she is a woman of great family merit, she has banished her children,[106] abandoned her husband. I suppose as she cannot reach Constantinople, she will limit her ambition to an intrigue with the Pope or the Doge of Venice.... The Duke of Leeds’[107] wedding was very grand. The Duke of Newcastle’s[108] entertainment upon the occasion was 15 dishes in a course, four courses. The Duchess of Newcastle, sister to Lady Mary Godolphin, and Mr. Hay are gone down with the Duke and Duchess of Leeds. The Duchess had a diamond necklace from her Mother worth £10,000, she was very fine in cloaths and jewels. The old Duchess of Marlborough[109] is now mightily fond of her. Her Grace is at law with the Duke of Marlbro’; she talked two hours like the widow Blackacre in Westminster Hall, amongst things of value she was to surrender to the Duke[110] there was the late Duke’s fine sword, and George, ‘Oh,’ says she, ‘as for the George, he will sell it, but for the sword he won’t know what to do with that, so I believe he will lay it by, or may be if he can he will pawn it, he can make no other use of it, I am sure.’... Pray have you heard from the dear little[52] boys?[111] I have always forgot their direction. I think it is Scorton, near Richmond?

“I am, Madam,
“Your most dutiful daughter,
E. Robinson.”

[99] In the eighteenth century dressing-rooms represented the modern boudoir.

[100] George Granville, Lord Lansdowne, born 1667, died 1735; great statesman and writer. Uncle to Mrs. Delany.

[101] Lady Mary Villiers, daughter of the Earl of Jersey, widow of J. Thynne.

[102] Their half-brother.

[103] Francis Hare, D.D., born 1665, died 1740; Bishop of St. Asaph and Chichester.

[104] Daughter of Evelyn, Duke of Kingston, born 1690, died 1762.

[105] Edward Wortley Montagu, grandson of 1st Earl Sandwich. His mother, Anne Wortley, a great heiress; he took her name.

[106] Her two children, the eccentric Edward Wortley Montagu, junior, and Mary, Countess of Bute.

[107] Thomas, 4th Duke of Leeds.

[108] 1st Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Thomas Pelham Holles. The bride, Lady Harriett Godolphin, grand-daughter of the Duke of Marlborough.

[109] The celebrated duchess.

[110] Charles Spencer, 2nd Duke of Marlborough.

[111] Her three little brothers.


Mr. Freind, having written a letter to Elizabeth expressing a fear that her head might be turned by the great company, and the splendid place she was residing in, she replies—

“I am neither condemning greatness, nor envying it, but gratefully and cheerfully enjoying what I am. I thank Providence for the blessings it has given me, without either despising or wishing for the gifts it has bestowed on others. I enjoy the present time without regretting the past, or wishing for that to come, but still as conducive to happiness, prefer to-day to yesterday or to-morrow. I keep content for the present, and hope for the future, and love this life without fearing another.”

This letter was sent to Witney, Oxon, the seat of the blanket manufacture. The Rev. William Freind had become Rector there, since the resignation of his father, the Rev. Dr. Robert Freind, in the previous year. His mother was a Miss Jane de l’Angle, daughter of the Rev. Samuel de l’Angle, once pastor of the reformed church at Charenton, near Paris, who, on the persecution of Louis XIV., fled to England and was made a Prebendary of Westminster. The Rev. William Freind built the good stone rectory still existent at Witney. A medallion portrait of him is over a door in the Hall. Mrs. Donnellan had been recommended to drink the waters at Spa in the Ardennes, and, accompanied by her friends, Mr. and Mrs. Cottington, set out,[53] poor Mr. Cottington dying soon after their arrival. Mrs. Donnellan wrote to Elizabeth on July 11 a long letter, out of which I copy the account of the water cure as then practised—

“We are all out by six in the morning in our chaises, and go three miles to the Geronsterre waters. We come home by nine, and take a cup of chocolate, dine between 12 and 1, go to the Assembly at 4, where there are all countries, and all languages, half a dozen card tables, and no crowd; from the Assembly we take a walk in the Capucins garden; all are in before 8 to supper, and to bed at 10.”


Princess Mary[112] of England had been married in May to the Prince of Hesse.[113] The prince did not come to England, so her brother, the Duke of Cumberland, acted proxy. The following account is of gifts given to the princess’s suite who accompanied her to Hesse:—

“The Duchess of Dorset[114] has had fine presents upon going over with the Princess of Hesse. The Prince presented her with a gold teapot, tea-kettle, and lamp, and Lady Caroline Sackville[115] with a set of Dresden china and a diamond solitaire. The Duchess had likewise a set of Dresden teacups, and a service of Dresden China, and the King gave her a gold snuffbox with a thousand pounds Bank bill in it.”

[112] Princess Mary, daughter of George II.

[113] Frederick, Landgrave of Hesse Cassel.

[114] Wife of 1st Duke of Dorset, née Elizabeth Colyear.

[115] Daughter of the Duchess of Dorset, afterwards Countess of Dorchester.

In a letter to Sarah Robinson of August 11, mention is made of—

“a mask at Cliefden, on Princess Augusta’s[116] birthday; [54]‘The Story of Alfred,’ wrote by Thomson[117] and Mallet,[118] Mr. Grenville commends it and says it will be published. I own I cannot give much credit to it, for I rather imagine he commends it as a patriot than a judge. I never knew anything of Thomson’s that seemed to be wrote, or could be read, without great labour of the brain.... Lord and Lady Oxford are to come here next Monday, (Bullstrode), and stay a month. Lord Dupplin has made a copy of verses upon my going into the bath, which we would impute to Sandys[119] to his great amazement. He says he does not know who wrote them, but thinks he is very sure he did not.”

[116] Daughter of George II., born 1737.

[117] James Thomson, born 1700, died 1748; poet, wrote “The Seasons,” etc.

[118] David Mallet, Scottish poet, patronized by Pope; died 1765.

[119] A well-known lady’s doctor.


August 25, Elizabeth writes to her father—

“The Duke and Duchess were so obliging as to carry me to see Windsor Castle last week. It is so delightful a place and so fine a palace, I am surprised his Majesty does not spend his summer there, I should think it as well as going to Hanover. The same day we were at Windsor, we went to see a little island[120] circled by the Thames, which the Duke of Marlborough[121] purchased and has beautified at the expense of £8000. There is too great an embarras of buildings upon it, the finest of which I think something resembling the Temple of Janus. He has a better title to build one to war than to fame, for he has got a commission, but renown I believe is what he will never gain. He sent out a few days ago for four-score workmen to improve a place he never proposes to live at, after the old Duchess dies. His Grandfather now saved a people, now saved a groat, but such a warrior and economist as this gentleman he will never save either.


“Lady Andover[122] told me in a letter I received from her last post, that Mrs. Botham was grown very grave, and a great workwoman and an excellent housewife; if that is the case, Mr. Botham preaches to those of his household as well as those of his parish.”

[120] Monkey Island.

[121] Charles, 3rd Duke.

[122] Second daughter of Heneage, Earl of Aylesford, wife of William, Lord Andover.


This is the first allusion to Lydia Botham, cousin of Elizabeth Robinson; she, and her more illustrious sister Elizabeth, or Eliza Lumley, afterwards wife of the Rev. Laurence Sterne, of “Shandean” memory, were the children of the Rev. Robert Lumley, of the Lumley Castle family, Rector of Bedale, Yorks, from 1721 to 1732; and of Lydia, daughter of Anthony Light,[123] and widow in 1709 of her first husband, Thomas Kirke, of Cockridge, near Leeds (a famous Virtuoso), she married afterwards the Rev. Robert Lumley;[124] for the table elucidating this pedigree the reader must turn to the end of the introductory portion of this work. The Lumleys are said to have been brought up in style, but little means had remained to them. Both parents were dead; Lydia had recently married the Rev. John Botham, Rector of Yoxall, Staffordshire. Elizabeth Lumley, her sister, was residing alone in “Little Alice Lane,” under the shadow of York Cathedral. In a folio-sheet letter to her sister Sarah, Elizabeth explains that owing to the Countess of Oxford being at Bullstrode, she had more time to herself, as the countess and she had spent alternate mornings with the duchess. The countess was kind to Elizabeth, but she was a rare admirer of etiquette. When she was with the duchess, she actually[56] wished to see all her letters, which was naturally annoying to a married woman; she also expected them to be couched in the most formal manner, as addressed to a ducal person! Hence, when Elizabeth was away from the duchess, and Lady Oxford was with her, the letters were often written under cover to the duchess’s two lady dressers, so as to indulge in fewer formalities; also, as can be read in Mrs. Delany’s Memoirs in letters from the duchess, nicknames were often set up between the circle of friends, known only to themselves in case of their being opened. This passage in the letter will point to the formality of the circle when including Lady Oxford—

“While our present Guests are here we are so overcharged with ceremony, we cannot move about, and as I am not (thanks to the humility of my station), of the Countess’ cabinet council, I have the morning to myself. To employ them to my edification, I have laid in a great store of Italian, which I cannot read with the Duchess as she has forgotten it so much. I have laid aside the Arcadia[125] till Mrs. Pendarves comes, who is fond of it, and the Duchess and I have agreed that she shall read it to us.... I beg you will send me the receipt for York Curds, and also for Pancakes, called ‘A quire of paper.’”

[123] Of Durham; his grandmother, wife of Gilbert Kirke, was one of the coheiresses of Francis Layton of Rawdon.

[124] As stated in former pages, her mother, Mrs. Light, remarried for second husband, Thomas Robinson, father by her of Matthew Robinson.

[125] “The Arcadia,” written by Sir Philip Sidney.

On August 21, in a letter to Mrs. Donnellan at Spa, occurs the passage—

“Our friend Penny is under great anxiety for the change her sister is going to make. I do not wonder at her fears; I believe both experience, and observation, have taught her the state she is going into is in the general, less happy than that she has left. ‘Pip’ has a good prospect, for they say the gentleman[126] has good sense, [57]good nature, and great sobriety; these are very good things, and indeed what a stock of virtues and qualifications ought to be laid in to last out the journey of life, where so much too lies through the rugged ways of adversity, all will hardly serve to lengthen love and patience to the end.”

[126] John D’Ewes, of Wellesbourne, Co. Warwick.

The lady to be married was Anne Granville, whose nickname was “Pip”; she was about to be married to Mr. John D’Ewes. “Pen” was Mrs. Pendarves’ nickname, afterwards Mrs. Delany, and those who have read her memoirs will remember how unhappy was her first experience of married life. Much mention is made in this letter of an apron Elizabeth is working for the duchess; she begs for patterns of flowers from her father’s pencil, and Mr. Hateley, an artist friend. Embroidered aprons were then the rage, but only for demi-toilette; the beautiful Duchess of Queensberry,[127] going to Court in an apron about this time, was forbidden to attend. The aprons were of all colours as well as white, and the duchess, fearing a light ground would soon soil, bade Elizabeth work hers on a black ground. Sarah Robinson at the same time was working her sister one.

[127] Catherine Hyde, Duchess of Queensberry. Prior’s “Kitty, beautiful and young;” wife of 3rd Duke.


The following passage is indicative of the times:—

“Lord Oxford drinks hard at the chaplain sometimes, but whether a churchman’s conscience lyes deep, or a bumper to Church and King agrees with an orthodox stomach, I don’t know, but he seems less confounded with a bottle of claret than he is with his text, and shows the bottom of it too, which he cannot do with the other.”

Mr. Freind having written a letter in which he rallies[58] Elizabeth about not choosing one of her many admirers, she replies—

“I have lately studied my own foibles, and I have found out I should make a very silly wife, and an extremely foolish Mother, and so have as far resolved as is consistent with deference to reason and advice, never to trouble any man, or spoil any children. I already love too many people in this world to enjoy a perfect tranquility, and I don’t care to have any more strings to pull my heart; it is very tender, and a small matter hurts it. I have been lately a little out of spirits about my incomparable Duchess; she has been a good deal out of order, but by bleeding and care, she is much better, I wish I could say well.”


Mention of Admiral Vernon[128] is made in a letter of September 12 to Mr. Freind after the victory of Portobello, which had been taken by him in 1739; he had bombarded Carthagena—

“I hope the glorious Vernon will do some great exploit by himself. All the ladies in Suffolk give place to Mrs. Vernon, even those of the highest rank. I wish the Admiral may be made a peer when he returns, Baron Something and Viscount Portobello will sound very well.”

[128] Admiral Vernon, born 1684, died 1757.


Mrs. Donnellan returned from Spa early in September, in company of Mrs. Anne Pitt, a sister of Mr. William Pitt, afterwards Lord Chatham. Portions of her letter I copy—

“We had a very pleasant journey together, and find ’tis possible to travel comfortably without that lordly person—Man! I have mentioned being at Aix-la-Chapelle, which is a bad day’s journey from Spa. I went with Mrs. Hoare, and we chose to go at the time[59] Charlemagne makes his procession round the town, which is an annual ceremony, and the most solemn and ridiculous I have seen. He built the town, and made it an imperial city, and this procession is in memory of him. He is represented by a pasteboard figure, 12 feet high (for they will have him a giant), he has on his head a very fine curled and powdered full-bottomed periwig, an Imperial crown on that; downwards, he has a yellow damask night-gown, which hides those who carry him. He walks round the city attended by all the Orders in their different habits (which is a pretty sight),—the magistracy, and the Host carried under a canopy. They stopped before the Town House where we were, and said Mass at an altar raised on purpose, then they adored the Host, and Charlemagne stooped and goggled his eyes, which are pulled by wires, and so the ceremony ended. We landed at Deal on Sunday night, in a storm of thunder, lightning and wind, wet to the skin. I have bought some Spa necklaces. I have a blue one for you, and a green one for the Duchess.

“My folks are quite taken up with fitting their[129] house in Bond Street, which they design getting into at Michaelmas. I have a cheerful dressing room in it, which I dedicate to a few friends, none other shall come into it, and it luckily only holds a few seats; I will reserve one for you.”

[129] Her mother, then the Hon. Mrs. Philip Perceval, and her second husband.


On September 23, in a letter of Elizabeth to her sister, we first hear of Dr. Young, the author of “Night Thoughts.” At this time this celebrated poem was not written, but various other poems, satires, and tragedies had made him famous. Edward Young, LL.D., was born in 1684, educated at Winchester, New College, and Corpus Christi, Oxford; in 1730 was Rector of Welwyn, Herts; in 1731 he married Lady Betty Lee,[60] widow of Colonel Lee, and daughter of the Earl of Lichfield. The Duke of Wharton was his literary patron.

“Dr. Young is coming soon. We wish for his coming, for I hear he is agreeable, and, indeed, his private character is excellent. He sends his compliments to me when he writes to the Duchess, and says he is perfectly acquainted with me, and all that is the vision of a Poet, for I never saw him in my life, but he is so kind as to commend me and all my works in all places.”

In the next letter (October 8) she says—

My dear Sally,

“The sons of Apollo haunt this place much; the tuneful Green[130] is gone, but the poetical Dr. Young is with us. I am much entertained with him, he is a very sensible man, has a lively imagination, and strikes out very pretty things in his conversation, tho’ he has satyrized the worst of our sex, he honours the best of them extremely, and seems delighted with those who act and think reasonably. I think he has written a Satire against that composition of oddity, affectation, and folly which is called ‘a pretty sort of a woman,’—if anyone has a mind to put on that character they need only pervert their sense, distort their faces, disjoint their limbs, mince their phrases, and lisp their words, and the thing is done, grimaces, trite sentences, affected civility, forced gaiety, and an imitation of good nature completes the character.... That sentences, systems and definitions should give way to Cribbage, but two Duchesses command my presence! The Duchess of Kent[131] came here yesterday; she is a very sensible polite woman, and she wants one to play Cribbage, so my dear, dear sister, Adieu!

“E. R.”

[130] Dr. Green, a celebrated musician.

[131] The second wife of Henry (Grey), 1st Duke of Kent, née Sophia Bentinck, great-aunt of the Duke of Portland of these pages.


In a letter to Mrs. Robinson—[61]

“The Duchess of Kent is very agreeable, has good sense and politeness, and those who know her well say many valuable qualities. I look upon my Duchess as the Arch-Duchess, before whom all lesser stars hide their diminished heads; as for Dr. Young, he is a very sensible man, and an entertaining companion, and starts new subjects of conversation, and there is nothing so much wanted in the country as the art of making the same people chase new topics without change of persons. The Duchess and Dr. Young design to leave us to-morrow.... Dr. Sandys has given Deb quicksilver, which has been of great service to her, and it appears that she had worms.”

“Deb” was Elizabeth’s lady’s maid. The Pharmacopeia was then of such an extraordinary kind, that from time to time I shall mention the remedies used for various complaints; why more people were not killed by some of the nostrums is marvellous.

Elizabeth writes to Sarah on November 1, telling her she is reading the “Decameron” of Boccaccio. The duchess was also renewing her Italian knowledge. They were reading aloud Dr. Samuel Clarke’s sermons, and she says—

“Hay[132] is an auditor, as he cannot read himself; Mr. Achard is a translator of pronunciation so that one would take his English to be French when he reads aloud, then as for the Duke, he hunts thrice a week, and has business, so that our invalid is glad of a female lecturer.”

[132] The Hon. John Hay, son of 7th Earl of Kinnoul, a relation of the duchess, then a great invalid.

Mr. Achard, a Frenchman mentioned previously, had been the duke’s tutor, and was now his secretary.


From the letters, he appears to have been very tall; he was frequently called “Brother Bonaventura,” and as his humour was variable, at times “Monsieur du Poivre,” at others “Monsieur du Miel!”


The next letter to her father thanks him for a design he had made for an apron for the duchess, with which she was delighted, and—

“if the work could be as elegant as the drawing, would be the most finished apron for the most finished Duchess. Lord Oxford and George Vertue[133] arrived here last night after a ramble which the best geographer could hardly describe; they have been haunting church-yards, and reading the history of mankind upon the gravestones. Dr. Grey[134] is employed in a work which to make its appearance in public you would not easily guess at. I believe ’tis no perplexity upon Mysteries, no refutation of the doctrine of Transubstantiation, no explanation of the Catechism, but a thing for which his serious qualifications do not seem very fit. He is writing upon Hudibras!”

[133] George Vertue, eminent engraver, archæologist, and author; born 1684, died 1756.

[134] Rev. Dr. Zachary Grey, author, died 1766.



The last letter of the year 1740 is written to Mr. Freind on December 29—

“Next Sunday I quit the peaceful groves and hospitable roof of Bullstrode for the noisy turbulent city; my books and serious reflections are to be laid aside for the looking-glass and curling irons, and from that time I am no more a Pastorella, but propose to be as idle, as vain, and as impertinent, as any one; if you will come to town Mrs. Freind and you will find me, however, as like myself as to be your sincere friend.”


February 5, Elizabeth writes to her sister—

Dear Madam Sally,

“I went to Lady North’s[135] last night, to see all the fine cloaths that were made for the Birthday. Lady Scarborough[136] was richly dressed, the Duchess of Bedford[137] was pretty fine, Mrs. Spencer had a white velvet which is the ugliest thing in the world, but the Duchess of Queensberry[138] was such as should be shown at Courts and feasts, and high solemnities, where most may wonder at the workmanship; her cloaths were [64]embroidered upon white satin; Vine leaves, Convolvulus and Rosebuds shaded after Nature; but she in herself was so far beyond the masterpiece of art, that one could hardly look at her cloaths; allowing for her age I never saw so beautiful a creature. Miss Pitt[139] had a fine trimming and looked very pretty, but as for the Roses, they do not bloom in January, for she is as pale as a ghost. Lady Mary Tufton[140] had a pretty suit of embroidery. The men were not at all fine. Mr. Lyttelton’s[141] cloaths were ugly, according to Polonius’ instructions, ‘Rich not gaudy, fine but not exprest in fancy.’ I did not see any new fashions, as to the wearing stays, I think they are as usual. I do not know what will become of your fine shape, for there is a fashionable make that is very strange. I believe they look in London as they did in Rome after the Rape of the Sabines.

“I am, my dearest, your most affectionate
E. Robinson.”

[135] Second wife of 7th Baron North, afterwards 1st Earl of Guilford.

[136] Wife of 3rd Earl Scarborough.

[137] Second wife of the 4th Duke.

[138] Wife of 3rd Duke, “Kitty ever fair.”

[139] A sister of Lord Chatham, either Mary or Anne.

[140] Daughter of 7th Earl of Thanet.

[141] George, 1st Lord Lyttelton, afterwards her intimate friend.

February 25, Sarah writes—

“I should be obliged to you if you would in your next letter send me word what sized hoops moderate people who are neither over lavish nor covetous of whalebone, wear; because I intend to write to my Hoop maker to have one ready for me against I come to town, and I don’t care to leave the size of it to her discretion. I hope our hoops will not increase much more, for we are already almost as unreasonable as Queen Dido,[142] and don’t encircle much less with our whalebone, than she did with her bull’s hide.”

[142] Queen Dido of Tyre bought of the Africans as much land as a bull’s hide would cover, and by cutting it into strips encircled a large portion.

Illustration: William Freind

William Freind D. D.
Dean of Canterbury.

according to Act of Parliament. T Worlidge del. et Sc.



A light is thrown on hairdressing of the period in the following letter to Sarah:—

Dear Sister,

“I have been walking in the Park this morning, and returned only time enough to dress, so while Deb is tiffing and tiffing till my hair is so pure and so crisp, I am writing a line to you to the great vexation of Mrs. Mincing, who is afraid I should be the worst dressed for it. I don’t wonder an ‘Abigail’ that is kept only as a Minister of the toilette should look upon dressing as the great concern of life, but that other people should make such a point of it I marvel greatly. Some women by endeavouring to be as handsome as they can are not so charming as they might be. I never thought a head agreeably dressed that had not a hair awry; such punctuality may become a tyre woman, but cannot a belle, but however, it becomes everybody to be dressed for dinner, which will not be the case if I do not conclude. I am to go to the ‘Penseroso and Allegro’ to-night. The music of the ‘Penseroso’ some say is best, ‘but Mirth with thee I choose to live.’ Adieu.”

One can, indeed, pity the unfortunate Abigail with “Fidget” writing whilst she had her hair dressed! Once after a visit to Bullstrode, the duchess says she had found a glass-stand left behind by Elizabeth, should she send it? And the reply was that the stand was used for her to rest her chin on whilst her maid dressed her hair. The ridiculously high coiffure of the day must have taken a long time to erect.


No letter can I find till April 10, when the Rev. William Freind writes from Bath, where he and his wife were staying, to inquire what had become of his cousins. Sarah Robinson’s[143] pet-name was “Pea,” as she was pronounced to resemble Elizabeth as much as one pea does another.


“Bath, April 10, 1741.

“It being now near two months since I have received any intelligence of either of my correspondents, I must needs enclose a letter to Pea, Senior, to enquire after her whether she be still with the Duke to whom I direct the cover, or with the rest of the Peas in her own Podd in Kent.

“I expected the beginning of March to hear you had quitted her grace to join hearts and hands once more with dearly beloved Pea. But Lady Berkshire whom I saw some days ago, tells me the Duchess is in a very bad state of health, which I suppose will make you both very unwilling to part with each other. I have rather fancied therefore some disappointment has happened, and that your friend’s illness may have taken up your time and thoughts too much to let us hear what is become of you, for if both sisters had been together in town, surely both would not have grudged us the pleasure of hearing you were well and happy.... Even I, surrounded with a set of noisy politicians on one side, and backgammon players on t’other, can still make shift to write a line to my dear friend, and ask only how she does, and where she is, and to assure her that I and my Pea are

“Her and Her Peas,
“Most truly affectionate
friends and humble servants,
“W. and G. F.”[144]

[143] Sarah was born on September 21, 1723, so was three years younger than Elizabeth.

[144] William and Grace his wife.


The reason of the unaccustomed silence was this—Sarah was suddenly attacked by smallpox, a disease peculiarly dreaded by Elizabeth. Mrs. Robinson quickly despatched her to Hayton Farm, a family property leased to a yeoman farmer of the name of Smith.

April 8 occurs a letter to the duchess—

“I cannot lose the opportunity which just offers me to send a letter to the post, though I troubled your [67]Grace but yesterday. My sister continues as well as it is possible to be, and has found out her disorder with which she is perfectly content, and sends me very merry messages upon it: they are of the seven day sort, so will turn on Sunday, and on Monday when it is over, I shall possess my soul in quietness. I am afraid this hurry of spirits and fatigue, will not prove of service to my Mamma; and if the dire Hyp does haunt a solitary chimney corner, sure it will visit my Pappa now it is sure to find him at home and alone. For my part, I am in the case of poor David, my friends and kinsfolk stand afar off; and when I am to return home I don’t know. That the distemper may not continue, my Pappa has sent away half a dozen servants who have not had it, and says he hopes to have me back again very soon; but indeed I hope to prevail upon him to try how the air of Mount Morris agrees with his servants, before I return. I live here very easy, and I have got books and all the necessaries and comforts, though not the pomps and pleasures of life. The family are civil and sensible people. As for the Master of the house, he is indeed, to a tittle, Spenser’s meagre personage called Care: his chief accomplishment as to behaviour is silence. I never see him but at dinner and supper, and then he eats his pudding and holds his tongue. I believe his learning amounts to knowing that four pennies make a groat, and the sooner that groat is a sixpence he thinks the better. To give your grace a notion of the sort of persons who compose the Drama:—They are above Farmers considerably, have been possessed in the family, for aught I know, since the Conqueror of above £400 a year, they have a good old house, neatly furnished, but there is nothing of modern structure to be seen in it.

“I am now sitting in an old crimson velvet elbow chair, I should imagine to be elder brother to that which is shown in Westminster Abbey as Edward the Confessor’s. There are long tables in the room that have more feet than the caterpillar you immured at Bullstrode. Why so many legs are needful to stand still, I cannot [68]imagine, when I can fidget on two. There is a good chest of drawers in the figure of a Cathedral, and a looking glass which Rosamond or Jane Shore may have dressed their heads in. Not to forget the clock, who has indeed been a time server; it has struck the blessed minutes of the Reformation, Restoration, Abdication, Revolution, and Accession, and by its relation to time seems to have some to Eternity. It is like its old Master, only good to point the hour to industry; ... it calls his servant to yoke the oxen, get ready the plough, wakes the dairy maid to milk and churn, the daughters hear in it the paternal voice chiding the waste of hours, and rise obedient to its early call; even me it governs, sends me to bed at ten, and makes me rise, oh barbarous! at eight.... The mother of the family, a venerable matron of grave deportment, who was well educated, and moves in the form of antique ceremonies, but is really a sensible woman! The daughters are good housewifes, and I like some qualities in them, which I understand better than their economy. I only wish they could sleep in their beds in the morning, and wake in a chair in the evening!” ...


The next letter to Mrs. Donnellan, whom Elizabeth rebukes for her silence, is dated April 10. In this she says—

“Before this time you must have been informed by the Duchess or Mrs. Pendarves of my distress, and also my flight from the maternal mansion to the house in the neighbourhood. I am at present very happy as my sister is out of all danger, and I rejoice in thinking she will have one enemy of life and health the less. So much for the state of my mind; the situation of my person is not so gay and cheerful. My best friends among the living are a Colony of rooks who have settled themselves in a grove by my window. They wake me early in the morning.... I have not yet discovered the form of their government, but I imagine it is democratical.... If I continue here long I shall grow a good naturalist. I have applied myself to nursing chickens, [69]and have been forming the manners of a young calf, but I find it a very dull scholar. I intend to gather some cowslips for Mrs. Perceval[145] as soon as they appear; pray let me know if they should be prepared in any particular manner....

“There are some squires here who would make excellent Polyphemus’s; one of them drank tea here yesterday, and complimented me with all the force of rural gallantry, but for some fault in the flattery or the flatterer, I liked neither him nor myself any better for all the fine things he said. After he was gone I did but relieve my spleen with some laughter on the subject, when I was told by the matron of the family, he would be a good match for a woman with twenty thousand pounds, and indeed could one lend out one’s liking upon land security, I think one might very well settle it upon him. To laugh at a poor man is barbarous. He is a great friend of the family I am with, and I fear will come often; and in spite of his respectable manors and fee simple, and ancient mansion, both great and good, I shall not be able to give a serious attention to his discourse.

“I wish you could see my habitation, a right reverend and venerable one it is; the staircase that leads to my chamber is hung with the funeral escutcheons of my grandfathers, grandmothers, Aunts and Uncles, that I seem to be entering the burying vault of the family to sleep with my Fathers. It is a comfort, no doubt, to think one’s ancestors have had Christian burial, but of what use are these tawdry escutcheons? Sure no passion of the mind, no situation of the human creature is without vanity, if the mourner can adorn with pomp, and the breathless carcase be dressed in it.

“... address to me at Mr. Smith’s, Hayton, near Hythe.”

[145] Mrs. Donnellan’s mother.


On April 9 the Duchess of Portland lay in of a daughter, Frances, who died in 1743. Mrs. Donnellan[70] writes on April 11 to give a good report of the duchess’s health, and in this letter she says—

“I long to hear from you, I want to know who you have to entertain, and keep up the spirits your sister’s safety must give you. I hope Mr. Robinson,[146] your brother, is in banishment with you, for you will want such a companion to sweeten a long absence from all your other friends. I heartily wish you were in any place where I could come to you.... The only show we have had since you left us was for Handel, his last night, all the fashionable people were there.”

[146] Matthew, her eldest brother.


Mrs. Donnellan again writes on April 15—

“I like your situation extremely, but I should wish you one rational companion, for I do not think you were made for calves or poultry, or greater brutes in the shape of country squires. What is come of Pan? He used to find out a pretty female in her retirement, but as he has been sometimes a little dangerous, I think I had rather recommend you to the conversation of the wood nymphs. I have often wished to be acquainted with them, I fancy they are very innocent, and free from vanity and affectation, a little ignorant, and indeed in the fashions and amusements of London, as dress, cards, old china, Japan, shells, etc., but they may have notions of friendship and honour, and such antiquated things.

“I have read no further than Cicero’s[147] consulship. By what I have read of Atticus in other authors particularly the Abbé St. Real,[148] who has given his character, and translated Cicero’s letters to him, I had not so high an opinion of him as I find Doctor Middleton has given you. I met yesterday, at Pen’s, the Bishop[71] of Oxford,[149] Mrs. Secker and Miss Talbot,[150] and they seemed to think Dr. Middleton was not so much the historian as the Panegyrist of Cicero, indeed one observation I have already made myself, I think him too like a modern Lawyer who pleads all causes good or bad that gets him interest which was money to them; but when I have read the whole I will read St. Real again, and then I will tell you more of my mind. I long till you read Horace, and think he would be particularly proper in your present retirement, he seems to know how to amuse himself in such a scene better than any one I ever met with, at the same time that he was the delight of the politest court[151] that ever was. I really think you have much of the genius of distinguishing right from wrong, and not being led away by the false glosses of the world, and want to know whether you find that conformity.

“I told you in my last I wished to spend some time with you in your banishment. I am so sincere in it, that if you were in a place where they are not above being paid for my lodging and board, I would come to you for one fortnight before you go home....

“My Mother desires her compliments to you, and many thanks for remembering the cowslips. The manner of saving them is this only, pulling them out of the Pod, and letting them dry in a north window, and when they are dry, to put them up in a paper bag.

“I have been this morning to St. Paul’s to hear Handel’s Te Deum.”

[147] Dr. Conyers Middleton’s “Life of Cicero.”

[148] C. V. de St. Real, able French author; died 1692.

[149] Thomas Secker, born 1693, died 1768; made Archbishop of Canterbury in 1758.

[150] Lived with the Seckers; daughter of Edward, second son of Dr. W. Talbot, D.D., of Durham.

[151] The court of the Emperor Augustus.


The cowslips Mrs. Perceval asked for were doubtless intended for making that delicious but now seldom met with cowslip wine. Few people are aware that a claret [72]glass of cowslip wine before going to bed is an innocent and generally successful soporific.

To Mrs. Donnellan.

“Hayton, April 20, 1741.

Dear Madam,

“I had the pleasure of your letter yesterday, it made me very happy. If my friends at a distance did not keep my affections awake, I should be lulled into a state of insensibility, divided as I am from all I love.... What’s Cicero to me or I to Cicero? as Hamlet would say; and for myself, though this same little, insignificant self be very dear unto me, yet I have not used to make it my sole object of love and delight....

“I want just such a companion as you would be, and how happy would your kind compliance with that wish make me, if the good old folk here would accommodate you; but they are so fearful of strangers, I know it impossible to persuade them to it. They are not very fine people; they have a little estate, and help it out with a little farming: are very busy and careful, and the old man’s cautionness has dwindled into penuriousness, so that he eats in fear of waste and riot, sleeps with the dread of thieves, denies himself everything for fear of wanting anything, riches give him no plenty, increase no joy, prosperity no ease: he has the curse of covetousness to want the property of his neighbours, while he dare not touch his own: the Harpy Avarice drives him from his own meat, the sum of his wisdom and his gains will be by living poor, to die rich....

“The reason for which you wish I would read Horace does me great honour.... Upon your recommendation I had read it before, but depending on my brother’s having it, I did not bring it with me, and I find he has not got it. I will desire my brothers[152] to bring it down with them the next vacation.... As for some of our squires they read nothing but parish law, [73]and books of Husbandry, or perhaps for their particular entertainment, ‘Quarle’s Emblems,’ ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress,’ ‘Æsop’s Fables,’ and to furnish them with a little ready wit, ‘Joe Miller’s Jests.’”[153]

[152] Matthew and Morris were at Cambridge.

[153] Joe Miller, born 1684, died 1738; comedian. His “Book of Jests” was published in 1739.


Matthew Robinson had gone to Bath to drink the waters, and on April 19 he writes to Elizabeth from “Colibee’s” in Hall Street, Bath—

Dear Sister,

“The order of our Posts at Bath is very strange, the post comes in three times a week, twice of which you may answer your letters the same day you receive them, but the third not till three days afterwards. Last Thursday brought me two letters together from you, in which you informed me that my sister was past the heighth.... I hope next post will tell me that Sally is out of all danger.

“Harry Goddard is here, and informs me that our cousin Betty Lumley is married to a Parson[154] who once delighted in debauchery, who is possessed of about £100 a year in preferment, and has a good prospect of more. What hopes our relation may have of settling the affections of a light and fickle man I know not, but I imagine she will set about it not by means of the beauty but of the arm of flesh. In other respects I see no fault in the match; no woman ought to venture upon the state of Old Maiden without a consciousness of an inexhaustible fund of good nature.”

The letter is signed “M. R. M.,” for Matthew Robinson Morris; as by his uncle Morris Drake Morris’ will, Matthew was to succeed to his mother’s[155] estate of Mount [74]Morris, Kent, sometimes called Monk’s Horton, etc., left her by her brother, he assumed the name of Morris for some years, but returned to his family patronymic, Robinson, before becoming 2nd Baron Rokeby in 1794.

[154] The Rev. Laurence Sterne, married to Elizabeth Lumley, March 30, 1741, in York Cathedral, by license, by the then Dean.

[155] Mrs. M. Robinson, his mother, inherited Coveney, Cambs, from her father, and the Kentish property as heiress of her mother, Sarah, daughter and heiress of Thomas Morris.


On the subject of the Sterne marriage, in a note to Sarah from Elizabeth we see further—

Dear Madam Sally,

“I am glad to hear you are well, and that your eyes are brilliant, but pray don’t use them too soon, for you will have reason to repent it. I never saw a more comical letter than my sweet cousin’s,[156] with her heart and head full of matrimony, pray do matrimonial thoughts come upon your recovery? for she seems to think it a symptom.”

Then after many cautions to her sister as to her health, and thankfulness at her being out of danger, she adds—

“Matt mentions Mrs. Sterne’s match, of which he had an account from Harry Goddard, who is at Bath. Mr. Sterne has a hundred a year living, with a good prospect of better preferment. He was a great rake, but being japanned and married, has varnished his character. I do not comprehend what my cousin means by their little desires, if she had said little stomachs, it had been some help to their economy, but when people have not enough for the necessaries of life, what avails it that they can do without the superfluities and pomps of it? Does she mean that she won’t keep a coach and six, and four footmen? What a wonderful occupation she made of courtship that it left her no leisure nor inclination to think of any thing else. I wish they may live well together.”

[156] Elizabeth Lumley had been very ill just before her engagement to Laurence Sterne: vide his life by Traill.



At this time Sterne was Vicar of Sutton-on-the-Forest,[157] some eight miles from York, and his uncle, Jacob Sterne, gave him a prebendal stall in York Cathedral about the same time. For two years he had courted Elizabeth Lumley. She was much in love with him, but from smallness of means on either side, deemed marriage imprudent. She, however, had a desperate illness, and informed Sterne she had made him her heir. His gratitude for this, and affection, recalled her to life and matrimony. For details of this I must refer the reader to the various lives written of “Tristram,” as his nickname was to be later in the Robinson family.

[157] His great-grandfather, Richard Sterne, had been Archbishop of York, and a friend of Laud’s.

From Hayton Elizabeth writes to Mr. Freind at Bath, to scold him for not writing to her and her sister. In this she says—

“My sister is well again, and once more I possess my soul with tranquillity. I believe you will guess I suffered great and terrible anxiety when I was forced to leave her to a dreadful distemper, whose terrors received great additions from my particular fears of it, and tenderness to her. The want of sleep, at first, a little damaged my constitution, I had a slight fever with disorder for a week, which I believe was chiefly occasioned by it. I did not mention it to my brother, for fear it should make him uneasy, but I am now perfectly well, and from the reflection of my sister’s good fortune, happy too, though great is the change you will see, from London and lolling on the velvet sofa of a duchess, to humbly sitting on a 3-legged cricket[158] in the country.”

[158] A three-legged stool.


At the end of the letter of an admirer of her’s she says—


“Our friend B——[159] increases in chin and misery, he came to breakfast with my Papa one morning, and complained of the Hyp, for which my good parent advised him to take assafœtida, the prescription was admirable, he might as well have sent him to the Tinker’s to have mended the hole in his heart. Oh! cruel fate that made no cure for love, thought my friend, and sighed bitterly: really I could not help laughing at the precious balm my Pappa was for applying to the wound. It would have ruined a happy lover with me.”

[159] Mr. Brockman, of Beachborough.

Letter from the Duke of Portland.

“Whitehall, April 25, 1741.


Since ye frivolous letters j trouble you with are ranked as favours you receive, j’am sure no excuse can be made for any neglect towards you, and it would, nay it does, make me wish ye post went out every day, yt j might have it in my power to confer my favours, such as they are, upon you: j’am not sure if vanity, as well as ye desire j have of doing all yt lays in my power to oblige you, does not have a share in this wish about ye post, for really j have reason to be proud yt a Lady of so many perfections as Miss Robinson, (j can’t name them singly for j should never have done), can sett any value upon my poor insignificant letters, tho’ your approving them might puff up any body’s vanity, yett j have humility enough to think that j owe all the favours you are pleased to show me, to ye subject j write about; it is a subject yt you will be no more tired to hear off than j to write off: then j am sure your next question will be, Pray my lord to ye subject: well then in complyance to your commands j am to inform you yt ye Duchess continues as well as can be, and ye Babe too. My wife desires me to tell you yt your letter revived her exceedingly, yt she had waited with great impatience for it, and yt she hopes to hear often from you. She,[77] as well as myself, rejoice at your sister’s recovery, and desire our compliments to her. You may say everything yt is kind to yourself from my wife, and tho’ j am sure you have a very good genius in turning things as you like, you will hardly outdo her sentiments concerning you. Your being got rid of your feaver gave us great joy, for we began to be uneasy about Fidgett; nobody can see her without admiration, and when one hears her open her lips one is struck dumb; if one was to go on with everything when one receives a letter from you, one’s fingers would become numbed, and unable to answer, was it not for the desire of receiving more letters, makes one’s fingers to write to engage you to answer. In reading your letter j can’t help acquainting you yt there would be great strifes to be a Chaunticleer to be ye real possessor of such a Dame Partlett as you, whether of ye favourite little Bantam kind, or of the ruffled friesland kind; j should think the first more adapted to you for its gentility and rarity and cleanliness, all qualifications, which, tho’ j am no chanticleer j can sing off in your behalf. Nay j will do it. It is time for me to finish my letter to you tho’ j do not conclude my letter with such a pompous ‘humble servant’ as you do, j hope you are thoroughly persuaded that j am not less,

“Your most obedient, humble servant,
Illustration: William Portland

Thomas Hudson. Pinx. Emery Walker Ph. Sc.

William, second Duke of Portland

The letter concludes with a long postscript; the duke had put the letter into his pocket to give the porter himself, not wishing, he says, to trust “Mr. Puff” with it, and forgot it for some days. Despite of all letters being sealed, they were constantly tampered with, adroit incisions under the seals could be made, and refastened without spoiling the impression above, and many letters were lost entirely.


On April 27 occurs a most brotherly letter from Matthew from Bath. It is too long to place here in full,[78] but so beautiful are his words to his sister, showing his love and admiration for her, that I give a few extracts. He had just received a letter of her’s which pleased him, and says—

“I should be ashamed after so long a friendship with you to be ignorant of any of your talents, yet I do assure you there are some of them that after so long an accquaintance with them, I have not yet done admiring. It is never without great delight that I see in one whom I esteem so much, that tho’ in company one would swear your parts and spirits were contrived purposely for laughter, and the chearful round of mirth, yet study and thought, contemplation of the ways of men, or works of Nature, and consequently enjoyment of yourself, and ease and happiness, the end of all good, never desert your leisure and retirement. You never had greater reason for this turn of mind, or better trial of your temper on that account than lately, when driven from your friends, and almost alone, in a manner you never were before, and probably may never be again: you were fairly left to the food and entertainment of your own thoughts; and though it would be impertinent now to mention my general opinion of your letters, I don’t remember that I ever saw your thoughts stamped upon a piece of paper with greater force of discernment than in the letter I received from you to-day.... Bating the tribe of your lovers, you cannot have a more hearty friend to your person, or more assured admirer of your merit and accomplishments.”

Surely few brothers have ever paid a more graceful tribute of praise to a sister! Matthew was born in 1713, and was consequently seven years older than Elizabeth.


On May 9, in a letter to Mr. Freind, we learn the two sisters had met again—

“I had the joy of seeing my dear Pea yesterday; I cannot express the happiness of such a meeting, but it is[79] saying enough to own it more than recompensed the pangs of parting. It is truly, as well as poetically said, ‘The heart can ne’er a transport know, that never felt a pain.’ My desire to be cheered again by that beloved voice made me desirous of a meeting much sooner than I should be otherwise, in my shameful fear of the distemper, have desired. We talked about an hour in the open air, at about two yards’ distance: she kept her hat so close I could not see her face, but as soon as it has nothing left of the distemper, but the redness, I am to see her. I am now within sight of our house at a farm just at the bottom of the gates. I have a very good room, warm and comfortable. It is so low that it flatters my pride by indulging me with an approach to the ceiling. My Mamma had sent furniture for the room from Mount Morris, as soon as my sister was growing better, that I might come so near as to be accustomed to the family, and so return to it at leisure without any apprehensions.”

Reproaching Mr. Freind for silence in this letter, he writes, May 19, in return to plead his parochial duties, and amusingly says in defence—

“I am forced in the country, every week to make a sermon, at home or abroad, however engaged, made it must be, and swallowed the next Sunday, though I believe it lies but a crude morsel on the Blanketters’[160] Stomachs, which, if they can digest, ’tis often more than I myself can do.... An express arrived last night from Admiral Vernon; Carthagena was not actually taken, but the captain who brings the news imagines it might be taken in about 12 hours after he left it. All the Spanish ships and galleons that were in the Harbour were burnt, most of the fortifications battered down, enough to discover there was great confusion in the town. Not a ship of ours was hurt when he departed. But there is always a black flag attends in the train of [80]Victory; the general joy overcomes indeed all private concern; but those who have friends or relations in the midst of a fire, cannot rejoice till they hear who has escaped it. Those we lost on the 1st of April are Lord Aubrey Beauclerc,[161] who had both legs shot off, and died presently, Col. Douglas of the Marines had his head shot off, Lieutenant Sandford of Wentworth’s Regiment was shot in his tent before the town, Col. Watson of the Artillery was killed by a shot in the thigh, Capt. Moor was killed, Lieutenant Turvin had just taken the Colours from his dead ensign, and was killed with them in his hand (‘There’s honour for you,’ says Sir J. Falstaffe), 197 private men are killed and wounded. I was glad to find my brother not mentioned in the list.”

[160] It will be remembered Mr. Freind was Rector of Witney, the centre of blanket-making.

[161] Son of 1st Duke of St. Albans, and grandson of Charles II.


Alas! in this he was premature, his brother-in-law, Henry Robinson, died of the wounds he received at the attack on St. Lazare, near Carthagena. May 12, Mrs. Donnellan writes from London—

“We are squabbling about Elections, and proving right wrong, and wrong right, just as we think it will make for some little private interest, without the least regard to truth, justice, or any notion of the good of the country. The Westminster Election was finished in a most partial manner on Friday, in favour of the Court candidates, and Lord Sundon[162] was like to be torn to pieces by the mob in revenge: this has been the subject of much talk, and last night I happened to say to a clergyman (who I thought by his gown was obliged to join with me), that I thought the dishonesty that prevailed in Elections was terrible, and corrupted the private honesty in all ranks of people, when my Parson to my surprise took up the argument that bribery in a King and his Ministers was not dishonest, but politic, and that we could not subsist without it, and ran on to prove that we must conform to the times, and [81]if my neighbour bribes, I must do so too, to be on a foot with him or we must be undone. I own this doctrine shocks me....

“Your friend[163] told me yesterday they are a little disturbed about a law suit which is to concern the 28th. I suppose you have heard of it. ’Tis an old South Sea affair of the Father’s,[164] and very considerable. I am really concerned about it, and shall long to see them out of such a terrible situation.”

[162] William Clayton, Baron Sundon.

[163] Duchess of Portland.

[164] William Henry, 1st Duke of Portland.

Illustration: Mary Wortley Montagu

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

from a miniature in the possession of Mrs. Climenson

Emery Walker Ph. Sc.

At this period Elizabeth developed a most painful weakness of the eyes, which recurred at intervals during the rest of her life. She attributed it to reading so much at night during her absence from home while her sister was ill. The duchess writes to implore her not to work, or read, and she answers, “I follow your grace’s advice, I do not work at all, and I read by my sister’s eyes.” She had commenced dining at Mount Morris, but they would not let her go upstairs for fear of infection, so she still slept at the farm. Mr. Freind had in his last letter said, “Let us know all about you; when you set sail, i.e. when you are to be manned, and who is to be your Captain, for these things surely must be settled now.” To which she answers—

“I am not going to set sail yet; the ocean of fortune is rough, the bark of fortune light, the prosperous gale uncertain, but the Pilot must be smooth, steady and content, patient in storms, moderate and careful in sunshine, and easy in the turns of the wind, and changes of the times. Guess if these things be easily found? and without such a guide can I avoid the gulph of misfortune, the barking of envy, the deceits of the syrens, and the hypocrisy of Proteus? So I wait on the shore, scarce looking towards this land of promise, so few I find with whom I would risk the voyage. I would have wrote you [82]a longer letter, if I had a frank, but careful of your sixpence, though regardless of your leisure, that consideration hinders me. I am at Mount Morris again.”


The duchess having commenced reading Dr. Conyers Middleton’s “Life of Cicero,” Elizabeth recommends a pamphlet called “Observations on Cicero,” written by Mr. Lyttelton,[165] but without his name being prefixed to it. She states, “Dr. Middleton compliments it in his preface slightly; it is as much a criticism as the Doctor’s is a panegyric of Tully’s action: it is a very little book, but I think wrote with great spirit and elegance.”

[165] George, afterwards Lord Lyttelton.

The following letter is from the Duchess of Portland early in June, but undated:—

“Monday morning.

My dearest Fidget,

“You will be much surprised to receive so melancholy a letter from me after that strange medley you had last post, but yesterday morning I was told the Doctor had no hopes of my Papa; he hurt his leg some time ago, and Sergeant Dickens has had it in hand, and declared to Dr. Mead[166] he would go on no longer without another surgeon was called in, upon which Skipton was sent for, and what will be the result of their consultations to-day I dread to know; he has besides a jaundice and dropsy. He was out Friday night, and pretty well of Saturday night, and grew so much worse yesterday morning that he is not able to move. The Doctor was surprised to find such an alteration in a few hours. Oh! my dear Fidget, ’tis not possible to flatter oneself, God only knows what is best for us, therefore I am sensible I ought to be contented with what He is pleased to inflict upon us, but I cannot help my natural weakness. I can’t see to add any more, my heart and eyes are too full.”

[166] Famous physician, writer on medicine, and antiquarian.



Here Mrs. Donnellan adds, “I have but one sad moment to tell my dear Fidget that my Lord Oxford[167] died to-day.”

[167] He died in Dover Street, June 16, 1741.

The next letter from the duchess is dated June 25—

My dearest Fidget,

“I owe you a thousand thanks for your kind letters, and if words were the only acknowledgement I could make, I should ever be bankrupt, but my affection is warm, and my fidelity will last as long as my life....

“He was sensible almost to the last, nor did not show the least regret at leaving this troublesome world, except when he took leave of me, and that was too moving a scene for me even to tell now.” ...

At the end she begs Elizabeth not to write to her, as her eyes were so bad, but to get Sarah to do so instead, and in all her trouble remembers to send two bottles of arquebusade to Matthew Robinson’s chambers which he wanted, the price being 4s. 6d. a bottle.

Edward, 2nd Earl of Oxford, was the son of Robert, 1st Earl, by his first marriage with Elizabeth Foley, sister of Thomas, 1st Lord Foley; he continued to collect the Harleian MSS.,[168] begun by his father, now in the British Museum, also innumerable books, pictures, medals, etc.; and took great interest in all archæological studies, as did his countess.

[168] Lady Oxford sold the Harleian collection of manuscripts in 1753 to the British Museum.

Elizabeth wrote to condole heartily with the duchess on her sad loss, but imploring her, for the sake of the duke and her dear little children, to endeavour to bear up under this sad blow, for father and daughter were tenderly attached to each other.


The universal panacea of bleeding—for one can only judge by the manner in which doctors applied to it for[84] every case—had been endured by Elizabeth for the sake of her eyes, and she says “my eyes are worse for the bleeding.” She had a narrow escape at this time: her brother Matthew driving her for her health along the seashore on a high bank raised to keep off the incursion of the sea, the horse bolted, but fortunately their servant outrider was able to stop it without its bolting down either side of the bank. It is characteristic of the times that she calls a one-horse chaise, “of all things the most ridiculous!”

Mrs. Donnellan had been ill, and was ordered to Tunbridge Wells, to drink the waters. There was hope of Dr. Young being there. “I believe you will find his thoughts little confined to the place; he will entertain you with conversation much above what one generally finds there, where they talk of little but water, bread, butter, and scandal.”

On July 5 the duchess writes to say they had carried their cause in the law suit. She also expresses her joy at hearing Matthew Robinson intended to be inoculated that autumn. Elizabeth said if her eyes and general health were better, she would be inoculated too. She had just been given, “by a wise son of Æsculapius, a diabolical bolus that half killed me. I fainted away about three hours after I swallowed the notable composition, and was above an hour in such agony that if I had not waited for your letter I had certainly gone to the Elysian fields.”

A letter of Mrs. Botham’s from Elford, of which place, as well as of Yoxall, Staffordshire, her husband was Vicar, mentions a legacy left to her and her sister, Mrs. Laurence Sterne—

“My husband is in the North; his journey thither happened very opportunely, for an ancient woman [85]whose very name I am a stranger to, has lately dyed intestate, and my Sister and self are heirs at law of her real estate, which consists of some houses at Leeds, the yearly value of them about £60. It would be well for us if we could make out a title to her personal estate, which is upwards of £5000, but that I have no hopes of.”


The duke and duchess were now at Bullstrode, and anxious for Elizabeth to come to them. The duchess gives an amusing account of a hatter’s funeral—

“A hatter of Windsor left £100 to a man on condition he would bury him according to his desire under a mulberry tree in his own garden, 10 feet deep. The assistants to drink 12 bottles of wine over his grave, and French Horns playing during the whole ceremony, and this was accordingly performed yesterday, to the great offence of Mr. Grosmith,[169] who says he was not a Christian....

“To dissect leaves[170] put ’em into water, and change the water every day, but you must take care the leaf is not blighted.”

[169] The clergyman.

[170] To skeletonize leaves.

Mrs. Donnellan writes on September 1 to say she has returned from Tunbridge Wells after a six weeks’ visit; staying with her married sister, Mrs. Clayton, and her husband, Robert Clayton, Bishop of Killala, and afterwards of Clogher. The bishop very nobly gave his wife’s paternal fortune to her sister, Anne Donnellan. Dr. Young was at Tunbridge, and Mrs. Donnellan states—

“I conversed much with Doctor Young, but I had not enough to satisfy me. We ran through many subjects, and I think his conversation much to my taste. He enters into human nature, and both his thoughts and expressions are new.”



She also mentions that Lady Thanet, accompanied by Mrs. Scott, was at Tunbridge. Mrs. Scott,[171] of Scott’s Hall, Kent, was a friend of the Robinsons. She had a large family, seven sons and seven daughters; one was lady-in-waiting to the Princess of Orange, and married a Monsieur Saumaize, a member of the suite. Her sister Caroline, or “Cally Scott” (her pet-name), was the bosom friend of Sarah Robinson, and eventually married a Mr. Best. Another, Cecilia, who died unmarried, was a friend to the Robinson family for life. To Mrs. Donnellan Elizabeth writes on September 13, and in a long letter she says—

[171] The Scotts of Scott’s Hall were one of the most ancient Kentish families, originally Balliols of Scotland.

“The time for my brother’s inoculation draws near, and though I have a very good opinion of that method of having the smallpox, yet I cannot enjoy a perfect tranquillity of mind till it is over. I would fain persuade him to have it done while I am in the country, but he will not grant my request; for my Pappa, I believe, will not let me go to Bullstrode at all, if I don’t go before that is over; and my brother therefore waits for my departure, that I may not be banished for six weeks or two months, which he imagines would be melancholy for me these long evenings, as I should have no friend with me, and am not able to divert myself with books now my eyes are bad.”

The duchess was waiting for Lady Oxford’s departure from Bullstrode. Lady Oxford is often alluded to as “the Speaker” by the duchess, the same name, as has been mentioned, was bestowed on Mrs. Robinson by her children. Elizabeth’s health being so indifferent, her parents wished her to consult Dr. Mead, and early in October she proceeded to London with her brother Tom, where she stayed a few days with Mrs. Donnellan[87] in Bond Street, and on October 13 joined her beloved friends at Bullstrode, the duchess sending her coach to London to fetch her.

Matthew was to be inoculated as soon as the coach returned to Mount Morris from taking Elizabeth to town, as, till the smallpox appeared, he was to take the air daily in it; but the inoculation did not take, and Elizabeth’s tender fears for her brother were allayed.


The next letter of interest is on October 20, to her mother—

“I return you many thanks for your directions for the apron, which I will carefully follow; as to the silver thread I do not approve the use of it, as all great artists work for immortality, and my sister will find a little time will tarnish her work if there is a mixture of silver in it.... I honour Lord Sandwich[172] for his wise and generous contempt of money in a point in which there are other things superior to it; he bears an excellent character, there is much prudence in knowing how to separate one’s particular happiness from that which is reckoned so in the world’s opinion: if Lord Sandwich takes greater pleasure in the conversation of a fine woman than in viewing a collection of medals and pictures, he is right to prefer Miss Dolly Fane with £5000 to Miss Spinckes with £50,000.... He has a good estate sufficient for the becoming state of a nobleman.... Miss Fane is a happy woman to have a lover so great, so generous, and so good. Love has a good right over the marriages of men, but not of women; for men raise their wives to their ranks, women stoop to their husbands, if they choose below themselves. I think all our neighbours are in a marrying humour. I wish some of them had married two and twenty years ago, we should have had now a gallant young neighbourhood.”

[172] John, 4th Earl Sandwich, whose nickname later was “Jemmy Twitcher,” just engaged to Dorothy, daughter of Charles, 1st Viscount Fane.

[88]Dr. Mead had prescribed for Elizabeth for her eyes and for a swelled lip, which annoyed her much. What should we think of a blister applied to the back to reduce a swelled lip in these days? Yet it was ordered! Writing to Sarah, she says—

“I am better than I was, but my mouth not being yet perfectly reduced, I have got a fresh blister upon my back, well may it bend with such a weight of calamities.... I have sent for my bathing Cloaths, and on Sunday night shall take a souze. I think it a pleasant remedy. I am to sit a quarter of an hour in the bath, and then go to bed and lye warm; it is to be repeated three times a week.”


The next letter to her mother throws a curious light on the personal cleanliness of the day, and the want of baths in a ducal house—

“November 6, 1741.


“I should write to you much oftener, if I was able, but really I am so taken up with the pursuit of health I have little time for other employments. My lip is not entirely reduced, though I have been blistered twice, once blooded, and have five times taken physick, have lived upon chicken and white meats, and drank nothing but water; however, I am now vastly better than I was, and have hardly any pimples in my face, and no complaint in my eyes or nose, only this abominable lip is still rather bigger than it used to be. I intend to keep the blister going till it is well, for Mr. Clarke has put me in a way of doing it, so that I do not suffer much. I have suffered great disappointment about the warm bath, which I am advised to try, for the bathing tubs are so out of order we have not yet been able to make them hold water, but I hope next week they will serve the purpose.” ...


At the end of the letter is this: “Mary brings me word my bathing tub[173] is ready for use; so to-morrow I shall go in. Pray look for my bathing dress, till then I must go in in chemise and jupon!” Evidently from this it was not considered proper to go into a bath, even in a bedroom, au naturel!

[173] Before tin baths came into use, I remember my father bathing in a wooden tub, which resembled a wheelbarrow without legs or wheels, but with two handles at each end. It took two maids to empty it.


Another light on domestic service of the day is given in the next letter to Sarah. For some reason Elizabeth had a new lady’s-maid, and it appears from this and other letters that a superior class of persons officiated in that capacity. Many a clergyman’s daughter was glad to be lady’s-maid or housekeeper in those days—

“I like my maid extreamly; she is very humble, sensible, quick and diligent, and though her Father and Mother are above the common rate, she has never presumed to hint she was a person of fashion, which the French generally brag of. Mrs. Hog[174] (ye ladies’ French woman), tells me Mr. Dufour was a scarlet Dyer, worth once five or six thousand pounds, and Mrs. Dufour had about £1600 for her fortune, but by the knavery of a partner in their trade, they were reduced. I think Mary works pretty quick, and washes well, and is very handy, and she talks much better French than Dulac.

“I am reading Dr. Swift’s and Mr. Pope’s letters. I like them much, and find great marks of friendship, goodness and affection between these people whom the world is apt to think too wise to be honest, and too witty to be affectionate, but vice is the child of folly, rather than of wisdom; and for insensibility of heart, like that of the head, it belongeth unto fools. Lord Bolingbroke’s letters shine much in the collection. We are reading[90] Dr. Middleton’s new edition[175] of his letter from Rome, but have not yet come to the postscript to Warburton;[176] the answer to the Roman Catholic is full, and I doubt not the Protestant will be as happily silenced. Truth will maintain its ground against all opposition.

“We expect Mr.[177] and Mrs. West, and then we shall have the house full. We are in hopes of Dr. Young; he is now at Welling sowing spiritual things in his parish, I hope to the increase of grace.

“The sun will not shine for our microscope,[178] which is a great vexation to the curious. Last night by the candle I saw a fringe upon a leaf, that would have done excellently well for your apron, and I dare say you are so excellently skilled in the imitation of Nature that you could work just like it if you had the materials.”

[174] French maid to the duchess’s little girls.

[175]Letters on the Use and Study of History.”

[176] William Warburton, D.D., Bishop of Gloucester, friend of Pope; able controversial writer; born 1698, died 1779.

[177] Gilbert T. West, LL.D., born 1706, died 1756; poet and writer; translated “Pindar.”

[178] Mr. Achard’s microscope.

In the next letter to Sarah she says—

“The Muses, fair ladies and Mr. Lyttelton,[179] a fine gentleman, will entertain you in my absence d’esprit: the verses were wrote at Lord Westmorland’s. I think the verses are pretty; either I am very partial to the writer, or Mr. Lyttelton has always something of an elegance and agreeableness in all his verses, let the subject be ever so trifling.... Does the world want odd people, or do we want strange cousins that the Sternes must increase and multiply? No folly ever becomes extinct, fools do so establish posterity!”

[179] George, afterwards Lord Lyttelton.

As the Sternes’ eldest child, the first Lydia, was not born till 1745, there must have been a disappointment; but though undated, this letter is of 1741, as allusion[91] is made to Matthew Robinson’s inoculation, which had just taken place.


“We are reading ‘Cibber’s Life.’[180] Was there ever so exquisite a coxcomb!”

[180] Cibber’s “Apology for his Life,” published this year; he did not die till 1757, but published his “Apology” in 1740.

November 11, a letter contains—

“Last night being the birthday of the noble Admiral Vernon, we drank his health at noon, and celebrated the same with a ball at night. The ‘Gun Fleet’ was danced in honour of him, and all celebrated with extream joy, and a splendid distribution of Crowns to the fiddler, who was not the son of Orpheus, but however he made such a difference between tit-for-tat and a minouet, that one might understand which he meant. Mademoiselle Dufour[181] had the honour of standing up instead of a flower-pot or an elbow-chair; she danced like the daughter of Herodias.”

[181] Her French attendant; see ante.

To Mrs. Donnellan, who had been ill, but was recovering, this description of Dr. Young[182] is addressed—

“We have lost our divines, whose company we regret; there is great pleasure in conversing with people of such a turn as Dr. Young and Dr. Clarke;[183] for the first there is nothing of speculation, either in the Terra Firma of Reason, or the Visionary province of fancy, into which he does not lead the imagination. In his conversation he examines everything, determines hardly anything, but leaves one’s judgment at liberty. The other goes far into a subject, and seldom leaves the conclusion of an argument unfinished; he seems to me to have a very accurate judgment, and a very attentive observation of everything that comes within his view, and thus with the assistance of a happy memory, he has laid up a great stock of knowledge and experience.”

[182] Dr. Young lost his wife this year, 1741.

[183] Dr. W. Clarke, died 1771; divine and writer.



Mrs. Donnellan mentions on November 15 a mechanical chair she is to have for exercise—

“An artist is to bring me home a machine[184] for galloping and trotting this day; if I could get him to make me one that could move me from one place to another, with how much pleasure could I mount my chariot to make you a visit.... London is as full now as it used to be in January. Plays are much frequented, both to see Barbarini dance, and a new actress from Ireland, her name is Woffington,[185] ... she excels in men’s parts, and is to act ‘Sir Harry Wildair’ next Monday, by the King’s commands, and all the world goes. We poor Irish run the gauntlet about her; we hear in many companys, ‘She has a great deal of Irish assurance.’ I desired it should be called Stage assurance.

“Handel[186] next week has a new opera, which those who have heard the rehearsal say is very pretty. Tell Pen the ‘Lion Song’ is in it....

“I hear the Duke of Portland is to have a Blue Garter, which I am extremely glad of, as I think ’tis fit and proper.”

[184] Called a “Merlin Chair,” from the inventor, for mechanical exercise.

[185] Margaret Woffington, born 1718, died 1760; celebrated actress and friend of Garrick.

[186] Does she mean “The Messiah,” which he produced this year, but which at first was not appreciated?

To this letter Elizabeth replies—

“The date of your letter from London is the strongest temptation to me to wish myself there, that you could lay before me: as for Plays and the Beau monde, I hardly wear vanity enough in the country, to wishing myself once more in—

“‘The dull farce, the empty show
Of Powder, pocket glass and Beau.’

“I know your town is the Kingdom of Cards, and the Reign of Mattadores I am disaffected to; here I enjoy all[93] the pleasures of friendship, and the satisfaction of tranquillity....

“I hope you will find great benefit by your machine; if you will appoint a time for your imagination to take a flight, I will mount the Marquis of Lichfield’s Hobby Horse, and give you a meeting. Imagination gives Pegasus wings, and he often flies into the undiscovered country of fancy.”


Mrs. Donnellan writes again on December 1 to say she and her sister, Mrs. Clayton, had been to two plays in one week—

“One of our plays was to see Mrs. Woffington perform the part of ‘Sir Harry Wild-air,’[187] and indeed I never saw anything done with more life and spirit; but at the same time she looked too young, too handsome, and her voice seemed more proper for Opera than the play; so that we see when things are out of nature, though they may have many beauties, in the whole they will not please, and a beard and a deep voice are as proper to make a man agreeable, as a soft voice and smooth face to a woman.”

[187] From the play of The Constant Couple.


The next letter of interest is of December 12, to Mrs. Robinson, from Elizabeth—


“It is long since I have had the pleasure of writing to you, for though I have much inclination to do so, I have little leisure. I am now coming on you with a great deal of news from the city of our Great King. The Parliament is all in a flame, the Court have had but a majority of seven. There is a great struggle between Giles, Earle, and Dr. Lee, which shall be for the Committees. The city is in great alarm that they are going to lose six hundred thousand pounds out of Leghorn, which it is expected will be taken, and the Port lost to our merchants.


“Now as to private affairs, it is reported the Dowager Duchess of Marlborough[188] is dead, that she departed last night, and no one weeps for her to-day. Extravagance will lavish away those treasures her avarice accumulated.... I am not sure the report is true, though private letters and public papers do affirm that the spirit of pride, avarice, and ambition have stolen from her as quietly as the common breath of the nostrils....”

[188] Sarah Jennings, born 1660, died 1744.

The duchess did not die then, as will be seen by the next letter to the same person. This was the illness when the doctor told her, unless she was blistered, she would die, when she cried, “I won’t be blistered, and I won’t die!” And she did not, for she lived till 1744!

“December 19, 1741.


“I believe the wars abroad, and tumults at home, will make the publick papers worth reading. Dr. Lee has carried his Election by four, the Court is concerned at it. The King[189] suspended even his dinner (an action of as great importance as any done in the reigns of some Monarchs) till this affair between Dr. Lee and Earle was determined. The Westminster Election will now be carried against the Court. It is thought Lord Percival will undoubtedly be chosen at the new Election. The friends of Sir R——[190] lament that now he will not be able to carry any of the petitions, but where the right is on his side, and which, too, is looked upon by them as an unfortunate thing for the Kingdom in general.

“The Duchess of Marlborough is not dead yet, but in great danger; she has St. Anthony’s fire to a terrible degree, and will have no advice but such as[95] her apothecary gives her. To Mr. Spencer[191] she has bequeathed in her will £30,000 a year, in addition to what he has already. The Duchess of Manchester[192] she has struck out. How the rest of her enormous fortune is disposed of people do not know.

“We lost two of our Divines to-day, Dr. Young and the Dean of Exeter, men of very different genius, but both agreeable companions.”

[189] George II.

[190] Sir Robert Walpole, Prime Minister, born 1676, died 1745.

[191] Her grandson.

[192] Her eldest granddaughter.


The next is to Sarah, December 22, and in it is—

“I don’t know whether you have heard of the Revolutions in Russia, that the Princess Eliza[193] is made Czarina; the Czar, his Mother, Munich and Lacy imprisoned, and all by the power of France, and the machinations of General Keith.[194] This is bad news for poor England. The members of Parliament of the country party are gone to their firesides to roast chestnuts, while the Court get the uppermost again. The Prince’s affair is to come before the House very soon: it is a shame that he[195] has no settlement.”

[193] Elizabeth Petrowna, born 1709, died 1761; daughter of Peter the Great.

[194] Field-Marshal Keith, born 1696, died 1758.

[195] Frederick, Prince of Wales, born 1707, died 1751.


Two letters of December 26 and December 31 to Sarah wind up the year. In the first she mentions that the move from Bullstrode to London was to take place on January 3, and she was to return to Mount Morris on the 5th. In passing through London she should visit Mrs. Cotes,[196] who was a bosom friend of hers and Sarah. A little paragraph occurs about Mrs. Botham, Mrs. Sterne’s sister—

“Mrs. Botham is at Elford with Lady Andover, which I am glad of, for poor Lydia has a taste for[96] conversation above the hum-drum mediocrity of her husband’s understanding. He has a very good pulpit drone, and gives the whole parish an excellent nap every Sunday with his sermonical lullaby.”

[196] Wife of Dr. Cotes, of Wimbledon, sister of Henry, Viscount Irvine, born 1691, died 1761.

“December 31, 1741.

My dear Sister,

“This day did not begin with the auspicious appearance of a letter from you; I am glad it is not the first day of the New Year, for I might have been superstitious upon it. I hope you kept your letter back a day on purpose to welcome in the coming year. I wish it may be our lot ever to find the next bring us what the last wanted. But alas! time steals the most precious pleasures from us. Our life is like a show that has passed by, leaves but a track that makes remembrance and reflection rugged, a mark is worn for ever where the gay train of pleasures pass’d swiftly by, and observation is much longer displeased than ever it was delighted. I am loth to part with an old year as with an old acquaintance, not that I have to it the gratitude one has to a Benefactor, or the affection one bears to a friend. I am, I fear, neither better nor richer than it found me, but we lived easy together, and not knowing whether I shall have the acquaintance of many years, I could be willing to stop this. I have one obligation to it that I rate highly, that it has ensured you from the danger of smallpox. This year too has allowed us many happy months together. I hope all that are behind for me design the same, else they will come unwelcome, and depart unregretted.... This day sennight I shall be with you and the good family at Horton, telling a ‘Winter’s tale’ by the fireside! Oh that we were all to meet then, that once graced that fireside, even the goodly nine,[197] and thanking my Father and Mother for all the life they imparted to us, and have since supported! I hope the flock is safe and our meeting reserved for some of the golden days of fate.”


Thomas Robinson, the second brother, had this year brought out his celebrated legal book, entitled “Common Law of Kent, or the Customs of Gavel Kind, with an appendix concerning Borough English,” to this day a well-referred-to book. In 1822 a third edition was published, and another in 1858, revised by J. D. Norwood. Thomas was of Lincoln’s Inn, was admitted April 14, 1730. The “National Biography” states he was never called to the Bar, which must be a mistake, as there is frequent mention of his pleading cases at Canterbury and elsewhere in the manuscripts.

[197] The nine Robinsons, brothers and sisters.


This year opens with a letter to Mrs. Donnellan, a portion of which I copy—

“Bullstrode, January 1, 1742.

Dear Mrs. Donnellan,

“Though there is no day of the year in which one does not wish all happiness to one’s friends, this is the particular day in which the heart goes forth in particular vows and wishes for the welfare of those it loves. It is the birth of a new year, whose entrance we would salute, and hope auspicious; nor is this particular mark of time of little use: it teaches us to number our days, which a wise man thought an incitement to the well spending them; and, indeed, did we consider how much the pleasure and profit of our lives depends upon an economy of our time, we should not waste it as we do, in idle repentance, or reflection on the past, or a vain unuseful regard for the future. In youth we defer being prudent till we are old, and look forward to a promise of wisdom as the portion of latter years: when we are old we seek not to improve, and scarce employ ourselves; looking backward to our youth as to the day of our diligence, and take a pride in laziness, saying we rest as after the accomplishment of our undertakings; but we ought to ask for our daily merit, as for our daily bread. The mind, no more than the body, can be [98]sustained by the food taken yesterday, or promised for to-morrow. Every day ought to be considered as a period apart, some virtue should be exercised, some knowledge improved, and the value of happiness well understood, some pleasure comprehended in it; some duty to ourselves or others must be infringed if any of these things are neglected....

“I beg of you to reserve Monday morning for me, and I will spend it all with you; on Tuesday I set out for Mount Morris, and on Sunday night Pen[198] desires you to be at her house. I hope to return to you in the beginning of March for between two and three months. Our happy society is just breaking up, but I will think of it with gratitude, and not with regret, and thank Fate for the joyful hours she lent me....

“This year does not promise me much pleasure as the last has afforded me here, but the fairest gifts of fate come often unexpected.”

[198] Mrs. Pendarves.


This sentence was, had she known it, prophetic, for this very year was to furnish her with an excellent and loving husband, a position of importance, and a plentiful fortune. In a letter to Sarah at this period mention is made by Elizabeth of Lord George Bentinck (the duke’s uncle) having been ill, and the means taken for his recovery!—

“Lord George is much better than he was, and Drs. Mead and Sandys have not determined whether it is gout. I hope it is not; he has been blooded forty ounces within this week, and they say looks as florid as ever!”


Elizabeth now left the duchess, joining her sister, who was in town with her friend, Mrs. Cotes, and writes to her beloved duchess from Sittingbourne, their halting-place en route home. In this letter she says—


“When I arrived at Northfleet, where we dined, every Phillis and Corydon were at a fair in the town, and to enter into the humours of the place, I walked through it. In one booth were nymphs and swains buying garters, with amorous posies, some only with the humble request, ‘When these you see, remember me’; others with a poetical and more familiar ‘Be true to me, as I’m to thee.’ Under another booth, for the pleasure of bold British youths, was Admiral Vernon in gingerbread; indeed he appeared in many shapes there, and the curate of the parish carried him home in a brass tobacco stopper. I was a little concerned to see him lying in passive gingerbread, upon a stall with Spanish nuts; but the politicians of our age are wonderful in reconciling the interest of nations. I assure you there was a great deal of company; many hearts did I see exchanged for fairings of cherry-coloured ribbon; and one Cymon more polished than the rest, presented his damsel with a fan, with the intent, I presume, not to give ‘coolness to the matchless Dame.’”

Of politics and the opposition to Sir Robert Walpole, we now gain a glimpse in a letter of Mrs. Donnellan’s of January 14 to Elizabeth—

“It is certainly believed that the King has sent an offer of a reconciliation, and that tempter gold, to the Prince[199] by the Bishop of Oxford,[200] whose answer was that while Sir Robert, who he apprehended had raised his Majesty’s resentment against him, was at Court, he could not appear there, but that if he was removed, he would fly without any other conditions but to have the happiness of throwing himself at his Majesty’s feet.”

[199] Frederick, Prince of Wales, then on very bad terms with his father.

[200] Thomas Secker, born 1693, died 1768; afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury.


The duchess, writing on January 23, says, “Sir Robert carried the question by three votes.”


In the same letter she says, “I am just come from Court, where I saw your incomparable cousin kiss hands for the government of Barbadoes; now he certainly goes, I will pay my civilities to him in hopes of getting some shells!” This was Sir Thomas Robinson,[201] who, having almost ruined himself with his improvements at Rokeby, and his enormous and frequent entertainments, applied for the governorship on economic reasons, and continued governor till 1747.

[201] “Long” Sir Thomas Robinson, as he was called to distinguish him from another baronet of the same name. See note at end of book on him.

On February 4 the duchess writes in bad spirits to “Fidget”; the duke was ill with the gout, and her little girl, Lady Fanny, had had a convulsion fit, for which “she was blistered and blooded within 12 hours:” drastic treatment for an unfortunate infant not a year old! In this letter we read—

“The King sent Sir Robert word that he had no more orders for him, and that he must resign, but that he made him Earl of Orford. Others report that upon his losing the election of Bainton, Rolt, and Sir Edmund Thomas, he went to the King and told him the current ran so strongly against him he could no longer be of service to him, but that he would come into the House of Lords. Lord Wilmington[202] is to act as first Lord of the Treasury till affairs are settled. It is said the Duke of Richmond[203] has given up, that Sir William Young and Winnington are to be turned out, Harry Pelham to be the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and there is a patent drawing for Miss Walpole[204] to take the place of Lord Orford’s daughter.”

[202] Earl of Wilmington, died 1743.

[203] Charles, 2nd Duke.

[204] Miss Skerrit, illegitimate daughter of Sir Robert.

Illustration: Thomas Robinson

Emery Walker Ph. Sc.

Sir Thomas Robinson (1st. Baron Rokeby)



On February 9 Mrs. Pendarves writes the following:—

“Clarges Street, February 9, 1742.

“My dear Miss Robinson will think me very dilatory in obeying her commands, but the uneasy situation I have been in, surrounded by sick friends[205] and servants, must make an excuse for me.

“Burnet,[206] I hope is safe on your table, and has by this time given you some entertainment.

“As for the fringe it should have been sent to you sooner, could I have found it, but it was buried under such a variety of rubbish it was like digging in a mine to find it. Don’t let these delays discourage you from making use of me again, for no one can take more pleasure in being your humble servant than I do. This is asserting a bold truth, and would draw on me numbers of challenges, if I published it. I should not be afraid of accepting the combat where my cause was so good. Our letters crost on the road. Your observation on retirement is very just, and all your thoughts show the good use you make of Retirement; but I wish for my own sake to draw you out of it. I am not so unreasonable as to expect to hear often from you. I can’t justly make that demand, but if you were in town I should endeavour to have a great deal of your company; let me know when I may hope to see you. At present I can give you no very inviting reason for coming; as to the entertainments of the place, all parties are out of humour; everybody conjectures something; nobody knows anything, but that Sir R(obert) W(alpole) kissed hands yesterday as Lord Orford, and his daughter as Lady Mary, that he resigned yesterday, and goes to Houghton in a few days. His faithful services to his King are well rewarded. I have been interrupted by two favourites of yours, Lord Cornbury and Mrs. Donnellan, and to[102] recommend them still stronger to your favour, they have prevented your having a dull long letter. I send the fringe enclosed; if I wait till my spirit is more alert you may want your apron, and think I have quite neglected your orders. I will run any hazard rather than give you just cause to complain of me, and am with great sincerity,

“My dear Fidget,
“Yours most faithfully,
“M. P.

“P.S.—My sister desires her best compliments, mine attends yours, and all your family.”

[205] Mrs. D’Ewes, her sister, and Sir John Stanley, her uncle, had been ill.

[206] Bishop Burnet’s “History of the Reformation.”


On February 11 the duchess writes—

“Great changes have been wrought to-day, Mr. Sandys has kissed hands as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Carteret,[207] is to be Secretary of State,[208] Lord Harrington, President of the Council, Mr. Pulteney[209] and Lord Winchelsea[210] are to go to Court to-morrow; and all affairs are to be transacted by the advice of Pulteney and Pelham. Lord Cobham[211] has hindered the Prince coming to Court, but it is to be hoped he will be persuaded to the contrary. The Duchess of Norfolk is to have a masquerade next Wednesday, so that I am in the greatest of hurrys to get ready. I am to be ‘Night.’”

[207] Afterwards Earl Granville, born 1690, died 1763.

[208] William, 1st Earl, born 1690, died 1756.

[209] Afterwards Earl of Bath, born 1684, died July 8, 1764.

[210] Daniel, 8th Earl, born 1689, died 1769.

[211] Sir Richard Temple, made Baron Cobham, born 1669, died 1749.

On the same day Mrs. Donnellan writes that—

“The Duchess of Norfolk’s[212] masquerade employs the gay world as much at present as the Court places does the ambitious. The Duchess, Lady Andover, and[103] Pen have their tickets, poor Dash[213] fears she will not have one. The Duchess is to represent ‘Night,’ and you know she has stars to adorn it, and make it bright as day. Lady Andover and Pen are to be dressed after Holler’s Prints. I have desired they make this house their place of meeting, and shall desire the same of all my acquaintance, which will give me all I care for of a masquerade.”

[212] Wife of 9th Duke, née Mary Blount.

[213] “Delia” Dashwood.

Another peep at the masquerade is gained by a letter from “Cally” Scott to the two Robinson sisters—

“The Princess of Wales[214] was the finest figure that ever was seen; she had a vast number of jewels, and was in Queen Elizabeth’s dress: the Duchess of Portland’s was very odd and pretty, her upper part was night, and the lower moonshine.”

[214] Augusta of Saxe Gotha, wife of Frederick, Prince of Wales.


The duchess writes early in February—

My dearest Fidget,

“Though I shall have the pleasure of seeing you soon, yet I can’t help conversing with you as often as it is in my power. I am but just come from Sir Hans Sloane’s,[215] where I have beheld many odder things than himself, though none so inconsistent: however, I will not rail, for he has given me some of his trumpery to add to my collection, and till I get better they shall remain there....

The Duchess of Marlborough’s Memoirs[216] are come out. I long to read ’em, and hear she has given my grandfather a character, entirely worthy of herself, to show posterity how very different they were in all circumstances of life. If she makes her character to[104] answer his, she has given him a great foil which his virtue did not require. Swift’s ‘Four last years of Queen Anne’[217] are coming out. I don’t hear they are yet printed.”

[215] Eminent physician and naturalist, born 1660, died 1753; then living at Bushington House, Chelsea.

[216] Her “Account of her Conduct.” Mr. N. Hooke helped her to write it this year.

[217] Was not printed till 1758.


Elizabeth now went to London, and in February writes this interesting letter to her father in Kent—


“I thought it would be agreeable to you to have an account of the mighty and important proceedings of both houses yesterday, so I have sent you the question, which was debated in both Houses with a good deal of warmth. It was brought into the House of Lords by Lord Carteret,[218] who spoke two hours in opening. Lord Carlisle and Lord Westmorland spoke with great warmth, and Lord Carlisle[219] was very bitter. Lord Halifax[220] seconded Lord Carteret. Lord Talbot said in answer to the Duke of Marlborough’s motion (that it might be voted that an attempt to inflict any kind of punishment, etc., etc.) that he would not say that all persons were interested that spoke in favour of Sir Robert, that they appeared to be so, and upon being called to order, he said with heat that he was used to speak truth, and he did believe (by the most sacred oath) that they were so, and that he was ready to give any man satisfaction that would require it. All moderate men voted with the majority in both Houses. Lord Cornbury and Mr. Harley spoke in favour of Sir R.: the latter said that though Sir R. had pursued a relation[221] of his without evidence, and caused his imprisonment, and thereby the shortening of his life, he could not, as he had differed from him in all his measures, copy him[105] in that, and so withdrew with his brother and many others who had great disobligations to the Member. Mr. Skipper would not vote against the great man, for it seems there was no proof nor evidence of the accusations. I think the majority was 290 against 190 in the House of Commons. Many of the Country interest did not vote at all; they did not break up till three. The House of Lords at one o’clock in the morning. Mr. Sandys[222] opened very well, and Mr. ‘Ste’-Fox[223] spoke on the other side extremely well. I may by the next post, be able to give you a further account of the matter, but this is all I have yet heard, for the Members of Parliament are half asleep to-day.

“I am, Sir,
“Your most dutiful, etc.”

[218] John, 2nd Baron Carteret, afterwards Earl Granville.

[219] 7th Earl of Carlisle.

[220] 5th Earl of Halifax.

[221] Alluding to the impeachment and imprisonment of Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford.

[222] Afterwards 1st Lord Sandys of Ombersley.

[223] Father of 1st Baron Holland.


On the other side of this folio letter, in another handwriting, is the Question

“The House was moved that an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, most humbly to advise and beseech his Majesty that he will be most graciously pleased to Remove the Right Honble. Sir Robert Walpole, Kt. of the most noble order of the Garter, first Commissioner of his Majesty’s Treasury, and Chancellor of the Exchequer, and one of his Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council, from his Majesty’s Presence and Councils for ever,

“And a question being stated thereupon after long Debate,

“The Question was put, whether such an address shall be presented to his Majesty.

“It was resolved in the Negative. Contents 47, Proxies 12: 59. Not Contents 89, Proxies 19: 108.

“Then it was likewise moved that an attempt to inflict any kind of Punishment on any Person without [106]allowing him an opportunity to make his defence, or without proof of any crime or misdemeanor committed by him, is contrary to natural Justice, the fundamental Laws of this Realm, and by ancient established usage of Parliament, and is a high infringement of the Liberties of the Subject. After further debate, The Previous Question being put, whether that Question shall now be put?

“It was resolved in the Affirmative.

“Then the Main Question was put, and it was resolved in ye Affirmative. Contents 81, Not Contents 54.”


Elizabeth, in a letter to the Rev. William Freind, gives us an insight into the Opera of that period—

“I was at the Opera on Saturday night, where was all the world. I was very well diverted between the Opera and the Audience, or I ought rather to say the Spectators, for they came to see and not to hear. I heard the Elephant was the finest thing in the Opera, but that was contradicted, and the burning of the Temple was preferred to it. To accommodate everything to the absurdity of the Town, the dancing is rendered more ridiculous and grotesque than ever. I was thinking if the Court of Augustus could have seen the polite part of our nation, admiring a wooden Elephant, with two lamps stuck for eyes, and poor Scipio and Asdrubal could have risen to have seen themselves covered with silver spangles, and quavering an Italian Air, what an honest indignation and scorn would they have conceived at us....

“My Sister Pea is abroad; I am confined again by a little feverishness. I thought as it was a London fever it might be polite, so I carried it to the Ridotto, Court, and Opera, but it grew so perverse and stubborn, so I put it into a White Hood and double handkerchief, and kept it by the fire these three days, and it is better; indeed I hope it is worn out. On Saturday I intend to [107]go to Goodman’s Fields to see Garrick[224] act Richard III.: that I may get one cold from a regard to sense, I have sacrificed enough to folly in catching colds at the Great Puppet Shows in town.

* * * * *

“I must tell you advice is to me this morning, that Anson[225] had taken three Ships laden with silver, and is going to Chagre, and from thence to Panama; Vernon and Wentworth are to go with him, and Trelawney is to accompany them to reconcile their resolutions.”

[224] David Garrick, born 1716, died 1779. Made his first appearance on the stage in 1741.

[225] Admiral Lord Anson, born 1697, died 1762. Eminent naval commander.

At this period Morris Robinson lost his beloved college friend, a Mr. Carter, a most promising youth, from smallpox. Morris attended him until his death, and was almost inconsolable for his loss.



I have made but few allusions to Elizabeth’s love triumphs, but as the time approaches when she was to make her final choice, I must now allude to them. There was a certain “Mr. B.,” from what I can gather a Mr. Brockman, of Beechborough, a fine place near Mount Morris, who had been desperately in love with her for some time; he is frequently alluded to in the family letters. In one to Sarah at this period Elizabeth says—

“Poor Mr. B. really takes his misfortunes so to heart that he is literally dying, indeed I hear he is very ill, which I am sorry for, but I have no balsam of heartsease for him, if he should die I will have him buried in Westminster Abbey next the woman that died of a prick of a finger, for it is quite as extraordinary, and he shall have his figure languishing in wax, with ‘Miss Robinson, fecit,’ wrote over his head; upon my word I compassionate his pains, and pity him, but as I am as compassionate, I am as cold too as Charity. He pours out his soul in lamentations to his friends, and ‘all but the nymph that should redress his wrong, attend his passion and approve his song,’ for the Rhyme will have it so. I am glad he has such a stock of flesh to waste upon. Waller says that—

“‘Sleep from careful Lovers flies
To bathe himself in Sacharissa’s eyes.’”



A certain captain, name unknown, also inveigled the Rev. William Freind to a coffee-house to talk two hours by the clock of Miss Elizabeth Robinson’s perfections. About this Elizabeth writes to Mr. Freind—

“I am very sorry if the poor man is really what you think, unhappy; if his case is uneasy I am sure it is desperate; complaint I hope, is more the language, than misery the condition, of lovers. To speak ingenuously you men use us oddly enough, you adore the pride, flatter the vanity, gratify the ill-nature, and obey the tyranny that insults you; then slight the love, despise the affection, and enslave the obedience that would make you happy: when frowning mistresses all are awful goddesses, when submissive wives, despicable mortals. There are two excellent lines which have made me ever deaf to the voice of the charmer, charm’d he ever so sweetly—

“‘The humblest Lover when he lowest lies,
Submits to conquer, and but kneels to rise.’

“Flattery has ever been the ladder to power, and I have detested its inverted effects of worshipping one into slavery, while it has pretended to adore one to Deification. If ever I commit my happiness to the hands of any person, it must be one whose indulgence I can trust, for flattery I cannot believe. I am sure I have faults, and am convinced a husband will find them, but wish he may forgive them; but vanity is apt to seek the admirer, rather than the friend, not considering that the passion of love may, but the effect of esteem can never, degenerate to dislike. I do not mean to exclude Love, but I mean to guard against the fondness that arises from personal advantages.... I have known many men see all the cardinal virtues in a good complexion, and every ornament of a character in a pair of fine eyes, and they have married these perfections, which might perhaps shine and bloom a twelvemonth, and then alas![110] it appeared these fine characters were only written in white and red.

“A long and intimate acquaintance is the best presage of future agreement. I have strengthened this argument to myself by the example of you and Mrs. Freind. I hope in my long and tedious dissertation I have said nothing disrespectful of Love. As for your particular inducement to it I cannot tell whether it was beauty or good qualities, they being united in her in a degree of perfection not to be excelled.”

After wishing the rejected lover “Riches and alliance to help his laudable ambition,” she concludes with, “I wish the same advantages for myself, with one of established fortune and character, so established, that one piece of generosity should not hurt his fortune, nor one act of indiscretion prejudice his character.”


Who this particular individual was is not now known, but that Elizabeth was the cynosure of all eyes from her wit, beauty, and vivacity is shown by her brothers’ letters of this period, which constantly allude to her troop of admirers. Mr. Lyttelton, now Sir George Lyttelton, the only single man whom she had ever mentioned with uniform admiration, married this year, on June 15, Lucy, daughter of Hugh Fortescue, Esq., of Filleigh, Devonshire, a marriage of the purest affection on both sides.

In a letter at the end of 1741 she states that her father’s steward in Yorkshire had been guilty of peccadilloes, and that she was to accompany her parents to Yorkshire in early spring, where her father promised her attendance at the York races, in lieu of the Canterbury ones, which then appeared to her a poor substitute. Whilst in Yorkshire she either met for the first time, or more probably renewed her acquaintance with, Mr. Edward Montagu, her future husband, of whom some account must now be given.



Edward Montagu was the son of Charles Montagu, fifth son of the great Earl of Sandwich,[226] Lord High Admiral of the Fleet to Charles II., and who had acted as his proxy at his marriage with Catherine of Braganza. Charles Montagu married twice. By his first wife, Elizabeth Foster, he had one son, James; he married for second wife Sarah Rogers, daughter of John Rogers and his wife, née Margaret Cock. The Rogers owned large estates at Newcastle-on-Tyne[227] and in its neighbourhood. Charles Montagu, by his second marriage, had three sons, Edward, Crewe, and John, and a daughter, Jemima, who was married at the time I am writing of to Mr. Sydney Medows, afterwards Sir Sydney Medows. Mr. Edward Montagu was born in 1691, hence he was twenty-nine years older than Elizabeth. At the time he courted Elizabeth, another admirer, a young nobleman, whose name I know not, is stated to have been in love with her, but constant to her former protestation of choosing a “formed character” that she could look up to, she chose the older man. It is odd not a sentence is met with about him before, except that one of her brothers chaffs her about “converting a Mr. M—— to dancing,” which may have referred to him. He was a profound mathematician, the friend of Emerson and other learned men of that day. His character was amiable, equable, just, and of the highest integrity, as is shown by his letters, and his political conduct as a Member of Parliament in what was a corrupt age. Mrs. Carter[228] mentions him “as a man of sense, a scholar, and a mathematician” in her letters. He owned a good estate at Allerthorpe,[112] Yorkshire, and another near Rokeby (the fine estate belonging to Elizabeth’s cousin, “Long” Sir Thomas Robinson), also a house in Dover Street, London.

[226] For other particulars as to the Montagu family the reader is referred to the pedigree.

[227] In 1689 Mr. Rogers bought the estate of East Denton, Northumberland, with its collieries, for £10,900.

[228] Elizabeth Carter, born 1716, died 1806. The learned Greek scholar.


Evidently the letter here inserted in Mrs. Anne Donnellan’s handwriting, but unsigned, was an answer to an appeal of Elizabeth’s for advice as to this courtship. Though long, I consider it so perfectly suitable in its advice to any persons contemplating matrimony, I give it in extenso

“I can’t enough express to you, my dear Friend, how much your confidence in me obliges me, as it shows me the place I hold in your heart. The latter part of your letter, which is what I write to now, is a difficulty I know how to pity, as I have experienced it, and yet I do not find I am at all the more capable of advising how to avoid it; there is a medium between encouragement and ill humour that is certainly right to avoid being thought to desire to raise a passion that one does not design to gratifie, or to be too apt to think one has raised a passion that must be discouraged, for as I think nothing is more unjust than to wish to make another unhappy, merely to gratifie a vanity of being known to be admired, so nothing is more ridiculous than to be too apt to fancy one has raised such a passion, and I should always choose to be the last that perceived it, rather than the first. I have seen so many appearances of liking that has proved neither uneasy to one side or t’other, that I am not apt to fear great hurt from them, and I fancy the longer you live the more you will be of my mind; indeed when a man gives way to a passion on a prospect of success, and finds a disappointment to it, has often, I believe, given a melancholy turn to his whole life: but for what I call occasional likings they can run from one to another with great ease and dexterity. Now what I think the most difficult in these affairs is to satisfie others in our conduct, for there is as you observe, in the heart of male and female a principle of vanity and self-love that makes us unwillingly give way to a preference [113]in any thing, and we are very apt to comfort ourselves with thinking, and sometimes saying, that the preference given is not from greater perfections, but from greater encouragement, ‘some people set themselves out, and pay a court I cannot,’ when we are all doing our best to gain this descried admiration, and vexed, even to make us unjust when we fail. In short, and when I view human nature in some lights, I can almost forgive Swift’s Yahoos. But to the point. I should think the behaviour on these occasions should be as easy as we can, and we should be pretty sure there is a passion growing in the heart before we make an alteration that can be perceived by the person concerned, and as for the by-slanderers, I should endeavour to convince them I did not desire such a conquest, but at the same time, I would not let them think they could easily persuade me I had made it. I would converse as usual in public, but I would avoid private conversations, lest others should think I sought them, but these are things I am sure you can think of better than I can, and must be practised as circumstances suit. The person said nothing here but what was extremely proper, we talked of you all, and you and another were commended with great elegance, and for the third they said they did not know them enough to give an opinion.

“Now my dear Friend a word about the desire that is natural in most females to make lovers, if you meet with a person who you think would be proper to make you happy in the married state, and they show a desire to please you, and a solidity in their liking, give it the proper encouragement that the decency of our sex will allow of, for it is the settlement in the world we should aim at, and the only way we females have of making ourselves of use to Society and raising ourselves in this world; but for lovers merely for being courted and admired they are of no real use, and often prove a great detriment both by their own malice of disappointment and their jealousy of others, and for a friendship of any tenderness between disengaged persons of different sexes[114] I am afraid there is no such thing, so do not be caught by that deceitful bait. Esteem and regard may be without passion, but tenderness and confidence, and what we call friendship among ourselves, will, with opportunity, turn to desire in the different sexes. We desire to possess a friend to know their heart, to be in their thoughts, this must turn to passion between the sexes, I think ’tis impossible to be otherwise, and I could express it more philosophically but you will do it for me. Now pardon me this impertinent letter, there are not those in the world to whom I would write so freely, for I do not know those who I think have sense and goodness of heart, to bear advice: the only merit of mine is its sincerity and affection, and having seen more years has given me many opportunities of seeing the world of love, with all its mischiefs. Adieu, burn this, and love me as I do you most sincerely.

“P.S.—I will say no more of Books till we meet, though I must wonder at the want of discernment in those who can read an Author who is all fiction, and take it for certain truth.”


Anyhow, Mr. Montagu and Elizabeth entered into an engagement, and in the Gentleman’s Magazine for August, 1742, is the following announcement:—“August 5th. Edward Montagu, Esqr., Member for Huntingdon, to the eldest daughter of Matthew Robinson, of Horton in Kent, Esqr.”

The Rev. William Freind tied the nuptial knot.

The day after her marriage Mrs. Montagu writes to the Duchess of Portland—

“Friday, August 6, 1742.

Dear Madam,

“I return your Grace a thousand thanks for your letter; the good wishes of a friend are of themselves a happiness, and believe me I have always thought myself the nearer being happy because I knew you[115] wished me so. If your affection to me will last as long as my love and gratitude towards you, I think it will stay with me till the latest moment I shall have in this world; no alteration of circumstances or length of time can wear out my grateful remembrance of your favours to me; you have a station in my heart, from whence you cannot be driven while any one virtue lives in it: truth, constancy, gratitude, and every honest affection guard you there!

“Mr. Montagu desires me to make his compliments to my Lord Duke and your Grace, with many thanks for the favour his Grace designs him of a visit which he is not willing to put off so long as our return from Yorkshire, but will be glad of the honour of seeing the Duke on Monday, at seven o’clock in Dover Street; and I hope at that most happy hour to have the pleasure of seeing you. We shall spend that evening in Town. If you will be at home to-morrow at two o’clock, I will pass an hour with you; but pray send me word to Jermyn Street at eleven, whether I can come to you without meeting any person at Whitehall but the Duke; to every one else pray deny your dressing room. Mr. Freind will tell your Grace I behaved magnanimously, and not one cowardly tear, I assure you, did I shed at the solemn Altar, my mind was in no mirthful mood indeed. I have a great hope of happiness; the world, as you say, speaks well of Mr. Montagu, and I have many obligations to him, which must gain my particular esteem; but such a change of life must furnish me with a thousand anxious thoughts.

“Adieu, my dear Lady Duchess: whatever I am, I must still be with gratitude, affection, and fidelity,

Eliza Montagu.”

Amongst the numerous congratulations received on her marriage may be mentioned letters from Lady Andover, staying at Levens with the Berkshires, and Mrs. Pendarves, who writes from Calwich. The[116] following paragraph shows the general esteem of Mr. Montagu’s character—

“I think you cannot be disappointed in the choice you have made; you know the essentials of happiness, and have made your choice accordingly, and Mr. Montagu must be much envied now, as he has always been esteemed: nobody’s character answers more to your merit. You must give me leave to trouble you with my compliments to him, and to add that I wish to be acquainted with him. I cannot help having a very favourable opinion of the person whom you have preferred to all others.”


“Delia” (Miss Dashwood) writes—

“My heart in plain sincerity wishes you joy and lasting happiness, and sure you have the best security for both, as all allow Mr. Montagu has an uncommon good understanding, and as large a share of good nature, both which are conspicuous in yourself, that they must undoubtedly when joined produce a lasting harmony.”


Mr. Montagu appears to have been only known by popular report to the Bullstrode circle, till his marriage, but his immense circle of relations and friends opened a fresh vista of delightful and extended social engagements for his wife. This first letter of Elizabeth’s to her mother after marriage is interesting—

“Dover Street, August 10.

Hond. Madam,

“I had the pleasure of meeting your letter here last night at my arrival. The Duke and Duchess of Portland spent the evening and supped with us. This morning I have been looking over the house, and seeing many things much better than I deserve, in which I am to have a share: but what gives me infinitely more pleasure than these favours of fortune, is observing the willingness and gladness with which Mr. Montagu [117]bestows them upon me. I find the house very good and convenient, and I hope I shall spend many happy days in it. Happy I am sure they will be to me, if I can make them so to the person who has thus obliged me. I must write but a very short letter, for Mrs. Medows[229] who favours us with her company to dinner is waiting for me in the next room.

“My sister is just returned from some business she has been doing for me, she would desire her duty if she was here, but there are two pair of stairs between us. I hope you got well home from Canterbury. We propose going away on Thursday. This day we shall spend in Town, to-morrow we return to our Box in Kentish Town, and then away to Yorkshire, where if you have any commands, pray let me have the pleasure of executing them. Madam Sally and I will write our travels as we go. Mr. Montagu desires his best respects to you, my Father and my brothers. My duty and love attends them as proper. I will in all good say as far and as much for my sister as myself, so accept the same compliment from her, and believe me, dear Madam, with a grateful sense of all your and my Father’s goodness and care,

“Your dutiful, affectionate and
obliged Daughter,
Eliza Montagu.

“P.S.—I design to write to my Father next post. The Duke of Argyll[230] is said to be relenting upon the subject of places of which several are spoken of for him, and that he goes to Flanders. Some report that his eldest daughter[231] is to be Duchess of Greenwich at his death.”

[229] Mr. Montagu’s sister.

[230] 2nd Duke of Argyll and Duke of Greenwich. Military commander, statesman, and orator; born 1680, died 1743.

[231] Caroline, made Baroness Greenwich.

It will be seen by this letter that Sarah Robinson was acting chaperone, which the odd etiquette of those days exacted, it being then not thought bon ton for a newly married couple to be alone on their honeymoon!



The following letter from Mr. Robinson to his new son-in-law shows the happiness of the newly married couple:—

Dear Sir,

“Don’t be apprehensive upon seeing this, that added to the impertinence you have already received from my hands, you are to have that of a troublesome correspondent; I can assure you it is the way I am the least troublesome to my friends; the truth of the matter is that I know I should never forgive myself if I should be wanting to you in any respect, even though it should amount to no more than a point of ceremony. As I think that no letters that come from your wife ought to be a secret to you, I cannot help telling you I saw one from her last week to her Mother, and another to her brother Tom, so full of the happiness of her present condition, and the prospect of her future, that I begin to be suspicious that they are designed as a reproof to me for the deplorable state under which she passed twenty-three years. I shall not forgive her till I know she uses all her endeavours to give to you an equal share, which I think you have at least a right to. We hope you enjoy the benefit of this fine weather upon the road, and will arrive safe and well at Allerthorpe before this to the satisfaction of my good friend Mr. Carter.[232] Our compliments attend your family and his.

“I am your most obedient Servant,
Matt. Robinson.

“Horton, August ye 15, 1742.”

This was addressed—

“To Edward Montagu, Esqr.,
“at Allerthorpe Hall,[233]
“near Burrough Bridge,
“Member of Parliament.”

[232] Mr. Carter was steward and agent to Mr. Montagu; a most worthy man.

[233] Allerthorpe, being close to Burneston, the Robinsons were well acquainted with the neighbourhood.


[119]The following letter of Dr. Conyers Middleton to Elizabeth on her marriage is of interest:—

“Hildersham,[234] near Linton, August 17, 1742.


“I should have paid my compliments earlier on the joyful occasion of your marriage if I had known whither to address them; for your brother’s letter which informed me, happened to lie several days at Cambridge, before it came to my hands. My congratulation, however, though late, wants nothing of the warmth with which the earliest was accompanied; for I must beg leave to assure you that I take a real part in the present joy of your family, and feel a kind of paternal[235] pleasure, from the good fortune of one whose amiable qualities I have been a witness of from her tenderest years, and to whom I have ever been wishing and ominating everything that is good. I have always expected from your singular merit and accomplishments that they would recommend you in proper time to an advantageous and honourable match; and was assured from your prudence that it would never suffer you to accept any which was not worthy of you; so that it gives me not only the greatest pleasure on your account, but a sort of pride also on my own, to see my expectations so fully answered, and my predictions of you so literally fulfilled. As all conjugal happiness is founded on mutual affection, cherished by good sense, so you have the fairest prospect of it now open before you, by your marriage with a gentleman, not only of figure and fortune, but of great knowledge and understanding, who values you, not so much for the charms of your person, as the beauties of your mind, which will always give you the surest hold of him, as they will every day be gathering strength, whilst the others are daily losing it. But I should make a sad[120] compliment to a blooming bride if I meant to exclude her person from contributing any part to her nuptial happiness; that is far from my meaning; and yours Madam, I am sure, could not fail of having its full share in acquiring your husband’s affection. What I would inculcate therefore, is only this: that though beauty has the greatest force to conciliate affection, yet it cannot preserve it without the help of the mind; and whatever the perfection of the one may be, the accomplishments of the other will always be the more amiable; and in the married state especially, will be found after all, the most solid and lasting basis of domestic comfort. But I am using the privilege of my years, and instead of compliments, giving lessons to one who does not want them. I shall only add, therefore, my repeated wishes for all the joy that matrimony can give you and Mr. Montagu, to whose worthy character I am no stranger, though I have not the honour to be known to him in person, and am with sincere respect,

“Your faithful friend,
and obedient servant,
Conyers Middleton.

“P.S.—My wife charges me with her compliments and best wishes of all happiness and prosperity in your new state of life.”

[234] Hildersham, near Cambridge, built by Dr. Middleton. The poet Gray was a constant visitor there.

[235] It will be remembered Dr. Middleton’s first wife was Mrs. Drake, née Morris, Elizabeth’s maternal grandmother.


Here I make some extracts from Mrs. Montagu’s second letter to her beloved Duchess of Portland, dated August 21, 1742, from Allerthorpe, Mr. Montagu’s Yorkshire seat—

“On Tuesday I arrived at this place, not tired with my journey, but satisfied therewith. As far as Nottingham you will travel very soon, and then as far as Doncaster, therefore it will be but impertinent to give you an account of the road or anything concerning it. I will only tell your Grace I saw Nottingham [121]Castle,[236] where there is beauty and magnificence worthy the wisdom and the riches of your ancestors. As we came nearer to this place, the country grew more wild, but not less beautiful; we came through some rivers that charmed me beyond all things.... We have at present very fine weather, the sun gilds every object, and I assure you it is the only fine thing we have here, for the house is old and not handsome: it is very convenient, and the situation extremely pleasant. We found the finest peaches, nectarines and apricots, that I have ever eat: your Grace will think I mean turnips, carrots and parsnips; but really and truly they are apricots, peaches and nectarines. To-morrow, I believe will be one of the happiest days I ever spent, I am to go to fetch my brothers from school. How delightful will be such a meeting after so many years’ separation.”

[236] Belonged to the Dukes of Newcastle, the duchess’s ancestors. Destroyed by mob in Reform riots, 1835.


These were her three youngest brothers, William, John, and Charles, who had been five years at school at Scorton, without coming home. Mr. Montagu, eager to gratify his bride’s love of her family, had allowed her to have them to stay, and ever afterwards he was their constant friend and benefactor. Further on in the letter she states that it took them “six days with very easy stages” to reach Allerthorpe from London! In the next letter she states that her little brothers being “sensible, good-natured, and sober, the most affectionate towards each other of any children of their age I ever saw: they have very good characters at school, both as to their learning and behaviour; but the quintessence of perfection is my brother Jack.”

At the end of this letter she mentions her old friend, Miss Cally Scott, of Scott’s Hall, was going to be married to Mr. Best, a man of fortune.



On August 25 she writes to her cousin, Mrs. Freind—

“Dear Cousin, I am ashamed I have not before answered your kind letter and returned thanks for those good wishes of whose accomplishments I hope there is the fairest prospect: I think we increase in esteem without decaying in complaisance, and I hope we shall always remember Mr. Freind and the fifth of August with thankfulness. I am infinitely obliged to Mr. Freind for not letting the knot be tied by the hands of an ordinary bungler; he was very good in coming to London on purpose, but he did not give his last benediction, but stole away before my sister or any of us were come downstairs.

“We arrived at this place after a journey of six days through fine countries, where the riches of Harvest promised luxury to the Landlord, plenty to the farmer and food to the labourer. Here we are situated in a fine country, and Mr. Montagu has the pleasure of calling many hundred pounds a year about his house his own, without any person’s property interfering with it: I think it is the prettiest estate, and in the best order I ever saw; large and beautiful meadows for riding or walking in, with a pretty river[237] winding about them, upon which we shall sometimes go out in boats.

“In this parish Dr. Robinson,[238] our general Uncle, has founded a school and an Alms House where the young are taught industry, the old, content: I propose to visit the Alms House very soon. I saw the old women with the Bucks upon their sleeves at Church, and it gave me pleasure. Heraldry[239] does not always descend with such honour, as when Charity leads her by the hand. Our uncle did this good while he was alive;[123] it was not that Soul thrift that would save itself with another’s money.

“I hope you will forgive my not having written to you before, but a new family, and a new place must take up one’s time. Our house here is tolerably convenient, and that is all that can be said for it. We have a better which I hope you will often see in Berkshire.[240] Pray when you and Mr. Freind have a leisure hour, dispose of it in writing to me. Mr. Montagu has an estate near Rokeby, from whence I intend to visit Sir Thomas Robinson’s[241] fine park of which I hear great praising.

“I am, dear Madam,
“Your most affectionate cousin,
and obedient, humble servant,
Elizabeth Montagu.”

[237] The Swale.

[238] The Rev. Matthew Robinson founded these charities at Burneston, York, where he was Vicar for forty years.

[239] The Hospitallers wear a purple gown with a gold buck on the shoulder, the Robinson crest.

[240] Sandleford Priory, Berks.

[241] Mrs. Freind’s brother. See note on Rokeby at the end of this book.


Mr. Montagu having left Elizabeth for a few days for business at Newcastle, she writes to him—

“How very fortunate are those few who in the Person they love, meet with the principles of Honour and Virtue to guide them through the World, but this, my fortune, so happy and so rare, shall not breed in me that insolence of opinion that I deserve it, but I will still look up to Heaven and you with gratitude and continual acknowledgments.”

This sufficiently indicates the happiness and mutual confidence reigning between the newly wedded pair.

On October 2 Dr. Conyers Middleton wrote Mrs. Montagu a long letter, mainly a dissertation on marriage and its duties. He alludes to his pleasure at her having her three youngest brothers with her, calling them “enfans trouvés by a sister unknown to them,” and he adds—

“I shall always think myself particularly interested [124]in their success, for they were all born under my roof, which may, one day perhaps, derive an accession of fame from that circumstance. If I should live to see any of them in the University, it would be a pleasure to me to do everything in my power that might be of use to their improvement.”

This shows that Mrs. Robinson had been accustomed to stay with her mother, the first Mrs. Middleton, for her latter frequent confinements, though Elizabeth and some of the elder sons were born at York. Dr. Middleton begs Mr. and Mrs. Montagu to pay him a visit at Cambridge on their return to London, and states, “This university had the honour of Mr. Montagu’s education, and claims some share in yours.”


Being detained by business in the north, Mrs. Montagu wrote to Mrs. Donnellan to send her a winter mantle and muff, and as prices of those times may interest my readers, I will mention the blue velvet mantle cost £5, the ermine muff one guinea. In Mrs. Donnellan’s letter the Père Courayer sends his compliments and good wishes to Mrs. Montagu. As he figures much in later letters, I give a short sketch of his biography. Peter Francis le Courayer was born in 1681, and was a Normandy ecclesiastic; although a Roman Catholic, he had the courage to defend the ordinances of the English Church, for which the Pope censured him severely. He left France for England, and went to Oxford, where he lodged with Mrs. Chenevix, the famous toy-woman. He was made LL.D., and translated Father Paul’s “History of the Council of Trent,” also Sleidan’s “History of the Reformation.” He was well known to Horace Walpole. He died in 1776. His pet-name was “the little Père.” In a letter of the duchess’s of October 9 from Welbeck, where she was visiting her mother, Lady Oxford, she says—


“Mamma was so obliging last week as to carry us to Worksop Manor,[242] the Duke of Norfolk’s.[243] The Designs are noble and grand, they have made great plantations. The gardener told me he had planted last year 300,000 Forest trees, besides sowing three score bushels of seeds. The approach to the house is fine. I don’t like the house though it was built by Bess of Harwicke, whose wisdom I have in great reverence: the best apartment is up two pair of stairs, the additional offices lately built are exceedingly good, the Dairy much prettier than that we saw at Richmond. The servant told us the Duchess gave the chief direction for the building, had planted those woods, had drawn the plan for that piece of water of 120 acres. The Duke’s time is chiefly occupied with drawing plans for Bee hives! With difficulty I kept my countenance....

[242] Worksop was burnt down in 1761. The duke here mentioned built 500 rooms to it.

[243] Edward Howard, 16th Duke of Norfolk.


“We were on Monday at Kiveton, which is by much the finest house I ever saw, and the best furnished. The Park and views from it are very beautiful.”

From Allerthorpe the Montagus visited Mr. Buckley[244] at Bishop’s Dale, near which place Mr. Robinson in former days had lived in the shooting season. Elizabeth had not been there for fifteen years. She describes to the Duchess of Portland the country—

[244] Mr. Buckley had been a second father to the three little Robinson boys, who spent their holidays with him.

“I had been three days upon an expedition to a wild part of the country called the Dales, where Nature’s works are not delicate, pretty and mignonne, but grand, sublime and magnificent. Vast mountains, rocks and cascades, and rapid rivers make the country beautiful and surprising. We went to a farm abounding in wonders, a high hill with some hanging wood before it, behind it a large and rapid river with the prospect of[126] a huge cascade, an old Castle and a Church. Some houses in view take from it the honour of absolute solitude: a range of rocks appears like the ruins of an old town on the other side of the river. In a cottage built in this charming place, lives an old woman, who has attained to an hundred and four years, and for this long lease of life, has not exchanged the best comfort. She enjoys good health, tolerable strength, has her hearing perfect, and her sight very well: is cheerful and has not lost her reason, but answers with sense and spirit, her hair is of a fine black: she was knitting when we went to her, and has promised to knit me a pair of stockings in a month.

“My Father had a house in this part of the world for the summer sports of shooting and fishing, so that the old woman and I had been well acquainted 15 years ago, and she told me laughing she imagined I did not expect to see her alive at this time....

“Tell Père Courayer[245] my head is as much troubled with chimeras and giddiness as ever. I fear he is too fond of variety in life to be a friend to Matrimony. The merriest man I have seen in Yorkshire is a Frenchman, who came here for religion, and has had the needful of life added unto him; he has a little estate, and lives with the mountain nymphs, Liberty and Health, in the Dales; he amuses himself with singing to his grandchildren, mending his clothes, and making soup: his grandson eats soup with him, and his next darling, le petit chat, helps him off with the Bouillie. He can not only make a fine dish of the cabbage, but of the snails and caterpillars, and what we call the unprofitable vermin that live upon it! There was not a creature in Noah’s Ark that would not be received into his larder, for a Frenchman is seldom so proud of stomach as to term anything unclean....

“Mr. Montagu desires his compliments to your grace, and my Lord Duke; we talk of you and drink your health as often as you can expect from sober people. [127]Had I married a Tory fox-hunter he might have toasted you in a longer draught; but for temperate Whigs we do you reason.

“I am, my dear Lady Duchess’s
most grateful, and most affectionate,
E. Montagu.”

[245] He had expressed a fear that matrimony would spoil her philosophy.


Mr. Montagu was a Whig, but, as his wife states, a moderate one. His political conduct as Member for Huntingdon was irreproachably upright in a most venal age. What respect his wife already had for his judgment is shown in a letter from her to him in London, whither he had gone for the meeting of Parliament on October 16, enclosing her reply to Dr. Conyers Middleton’s letter, desiring him, if he did not approve of it, to burn it, and she would write another. The following passage speaks volumes for Mrs. Montagu’s humility (though she was so universally praised):—

“The letter directed to Dr. Middleton, if you approve, I would beg the favour of you to frank, and send to the post, but I should be glad if you would first take the trouble to read it, for it is with some uneasiness I correspond with the very wise. I think an understanding of a middle size has a great deal of trouble in conversation between reaching to those above it, and stooping to those below it.”

She signs—

“My Dearest, your very affectionate
and faithful wife.”

His letters to her begin generally “My Dearest Angel,” or “My Dearest Life.” His writing is most characteristic, a clear, firm hand, easily read, much information compressed into a few words, and filled with most affectionate expressions.

Elizabeth was now in an interesting condition, and as Dr. Sandys forbade her travelling for a time, she[128] and Sarah remained at Allerthorpe. The joy of Mr. Montagu was extreme at the idea of an heir, which was shared by his sister, Mrs. Medows, and all his relations. Elizabeth, though pleased at the prospect, was very souffrante, and bored by an inactive life, yet submitted to it with a good grace.

At this period her brother Robert was made captain of an East India vessel travelling to China, to his family’s satisfaction.


The Duchess of Portland writes from London and says—

“I was extremely well entertained the other day with seeing Dr. Mead’s[246] curiosities. They are much finer than Sir Hans Sloane’s. In particular he has a mummy much finer preserved. It is the custom to gild their faces, so that all the features are painted over the gold.... Of all the things, except the pictures, which are exquisitely fine, none pleases me more than a mask in bronze, which is exceeding fine workmanship, and has upon it the symbols of all the gods. The crown of vine for Bacchus, a circle of iron for Pluto, the ears of Pan, and the beard of waves for Neptune.”

[246] Dr. Richard Mead, born 1673, died 1754. Celebrated physician and antiquarian.

We gain a peep at French fashions of the day in this paragraph, in a letter of Mrs. Donnellan’s—

“Mrs. Rook, an acquaintance of mine, is just come from Paris, and is come without a hoop, and tells me, except in their high dress, nobody wears one. Their sacks are made proportionably narrow and short, opened before with a petticoat and trimmed, and with a stiff quilted petticoat under: the only reasonable thing I have heard from France a great while, and the only fashion I should wish to follow.”


It would be impossible to include in this work all[129] the letters between Mr. Montagu and his wife, but the following shall be given in its entirety to show his style:—

“November, 1742.

My Dearest Life,

“Yesterday as soon as it came to hand, j[247] sent yours to my sister. I have not seen her but am sure she thinks herself much obliged, as all must do who have the happiness of a correspondence with you, whose letters not only please by their wit and vivacity, but are full of sincerity and friendship, of virtue and goodness, which you set in so true and amiable a light, that if those that read them grow not wiser and better, it is none of your fault.

“I rejoice at the good account you give of your health, that you suffer less and less every day. I wish j could prevent your suffering at all. The prudent care you take obliges me in the highest degree, and j hope with the assistance of your happy and chearful disposition of mind, preserve you from any misfortune. Though j most eagerly long to see you, j would have you run no hazard, and will content myself till we break up, when j hope neither bad roads nor bad weather shall hinder me coming to you: till then j desire you to spend your time as agreeably as you can, and am glad Mrs. Yorke and Mrs. Clayton are to make you a visit.

“I waited on Mrs. Donnellan this morning, yesterday was not convenient for her, and could not do it before. I paid her the bill which j send enclos’d and a guinea more for your muffe, so that out of ye six guineas j shall owe you five shillings. She expressed herself much obliged, and desired her compliments to you, and both to you and Miss Salley.

“Your Father went out of Town last Friday. The evening before j spent with him, Dr. Audley and your three brothers,[248] who were all well. I suppose you will[130] soon have your instructions about your children[249] at Scorton. You do well in letting them take leave of those they are so much obliged to, and when they come from Burton, if they spend the rest of their time with you, there will be no harm in it, nor will it hinder them in their learning, as they are designed for another school.

“My good friend at Theakstone[250] sent me his brother’s letter, and j received another this afternoon from the Admiralty Office, which j will send you in a post or two, that you may communicate it to his relations. I shall do all j can to serve him, and after j have made inquiry about the manner of doing it, will write to his Father.

“On Thursday last a motion was made for a secret Committee, and the next day for the place Bill, both which succeeded as was expected, the first was flung out by a majority of 66, the latter by a majority of 25! The Debates were very warm, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer[251] was terribly roasted, but all to no purpose, for after what has happened, he and such as he, who have acted so perfidious a part, will be sure to go all lengths. On Monday we expect to have the consideration of the 16,000 Hanover troops[252] come before us, and to be carried through, a worse thing than any that was ever attempted in the time of Sir R(obert) W(alpole).

“I hope this will find dear Miss Salley recovered, pray present her with my best compliments, and believe me to be,

“With the most tender regard,

“My Dearest’s most obliged and
affectionate Husband,
Edw. Montagu.

[247] Mr. Montagu, like the Duke of Portland, for years used “j” for “I,” presumably an old custom.

[248] Matthew, Thomas, and Morris.

[249] Her three youngest brothers, John, William, and Charles.

[250] Young Mr. Edward Carter, son of Mr. Montagu’s head agent. He was petitioning for his brother, Mr. William Carter, to have a company of Marines, he being in that service through Mr. Montagu’s influence.

[251] Mr. Sandys.

[252] These men to receive British pay.



Mrs. Montagu writes to the Duchess of Portland—

“I am now in the highest content: my little brothers are to go to Westminster, as soon as the holidays are over, and what adds still to my pleasure in this, is that Jacky’s going is owing to Mr. Montagu’s intercession for him with my Father, who did not design his going to Westminster till next year: our youngest,[253] I believe, is to go out with our new Captain....

“I am pretty well, but I do not like to sit still like Puss in the corner all the winter to watch what may prove a mouse, though I am no mountain. I cannot boast of the numbers that adorn our fireside, my sister and I are the principal figures; besides there is a round table, a square screen, some books and a work basket, with a smelling bottle, when morality grows musty, or a maxim smells too strong, as sometimes they will in ancient books.

“I had a letter to-day from Mr. Montagu, in which he flatters me with the hopes of seeing him at Christmas.”

[253] Charles to accompany his brother Robert.

In a letter of Mrs. Pendarves of December 9 from Clarges Street, where she was living, she tells Mrs. Montagu, “Handel is to have six oratorios in Lent. The operas are dull, the plays for one part well acted, ten are wretched, but Garrick is excellent.”


About this time Elizabeth writes a long letter to the Rev. William Freind, her cousin, portions of which I give. She says—

“The last and best good office you did me, I believe, will claim my thanks to the longest day of my life.... I know it will please you to hear that I have, every day since you made me a wife, had more reason to thank you for the alteration. I have the honour and happiness to be made the guest of a heart furnished with the best and [132]greatest virtues, honesty, integrity and universal benevolence, with the most engaging affection to every one who particularly belongs to him. No desire of power, but to do good, no use of it but to make happy. I cannot be so unjustly diffident as to doubt of the duration of my happiness, when I see the author of it dispensing content to all his dependants, and should he ever cease to use me with more care and generosity and affection than I deserve, I should be the first person he has ever treated in this manner. Since I married I have never heard him say an ill-natured word to any one, or have I received one matrimonial frown. His generous affection in loving all my friends, and desiring every opportunity for my conversing with them, is very obliging to me. We have often pleased ourselves with the hopes of seeing you frequently in Dover Street this winter; but alas, I am a prisoner at Allerthorpe, and the worst of prisoners confined by infirmities and ill health.

“Mr. Montagu went to Parliament ten days ago to my mortification, but with my approbation. I desired him to go, and half wished him to stay! I knew his righteous star would rule his destiny, so I helped him on with honour’s boots, and let him go without murmuring. He left me my sister, and where she is there will happiness be also.... We have not been troubled with any visitor since Mr. M. went away, and could you see how ignorant, how awkward, how absurd, and how uncouth the generality of people are in this country, you would look upon this as a piece of good fortune....

“I am very happy in one thing, that drinking is not within our walls; we have not had one person disordered by liquor since we came down, though most of the poor ladies have had more Hogs in their dining rooms than ever they had in their hog stye....

“I imagine you will have seen Dr. Middleton’s translations of the Epistle by this time; pray tell me what you think of them.”



The Duchess of Portland, on December 4, writes in great annoyance at some of her letters being lost. She was much worried about the health of her mother, who suffered severely from cramp in the stomach. She desires Elizabeth to write a visible[254] letter to cheer Lady Oxford, and adds, “I rejoice you are better. I hope you have left off footing it and tumbling downstairs. Have you read ‘Night Thoughts’? If you have, I beg you will give me your opinion of it.”

[254] Often the familiar letters were enclosed to Mrs. Elstob, a learned lady and authoress, who was now governess to the Portland children. Lady Oxford was then at Bullstrode.

Dr. Young had lost his beloved wife, his step-son and step-daughter the year before. The step-daughter died of consumption, brought on by grief at her mother’s loss. Her step-father had taken her abroad for her health. She died at Montpellier, and was refused Christian burial by the bigoted French of those days. The poor doctor, assisted by his servant, dug her grave in a field, unaided by any one. Can any one wonder at the gloom pervading the poem?

Whilst the duchess is writing to Mrs. Montagu, the latter writes on December 5—

“Madam, after being sunk into stupidity by the company of a strange kind of animal called a country Beau and wit, how unfit am I for conversation of the Duchess of Portland!”


She then proceeds to draw this curious picture of a country beau,—

“who cannot attain the perfection of a monkey, even the art of mimicry.... Had you seen the pains this animal has been taking to imitate the cringe of a beau, the smartness of a wit, till he was hideous to behold, and horrible to hear, you would have pitied him! He walks like a tortoise, and chatters like a magpye: by the [134]indulgence of a kind mother, and the advantage of a country education, he was first a clown, then he was sent to the Inns of Court, where he first fell into a red waistcoat and velvet breeches; then into vanity. This light companion led him to the play house, where he ostentiously coquetted with the orange wenches, who cured him of the bel-air of taking snuff by abridging him of his nostrils, grown even in his own eyes no very lovely figure; he thought Bacchus, no critic in faces, would prove in the end a better friend than Cupid: accordingly he fell into the company of the jovial, till want of money and want of taste led this prodigal son, if not to eat, to drink with swine. He visited the prisons, not as a comforter, but as a companion to criminals; shook hands with the gold finder, and walked in the ways of the scavenger; so singular his humility, none were his contempt. At last, having lost his money, ruined his constitution, and lost all the sense nature gave him, he returned to the country where all the youths of inferior rank, admiring his experience, and emulating his qualities, and copying his manners, grew, some fit for jail, others for transportation.... Notwithstanding all these vices and the most nauseous effect of them, all people treat him civilly!”

Mr. Montagu writes to his wife on December 9,[255] and in it he says—

“Tomorrow the affair of the Hanover troops[256] comes on, and will be carried, which is the worst that ever came before the House, of which j shall give you an account in my next letter, and send you several pamphlets well worth your reading about that, and the present state of affairs.”

Writing again from his house in Dover Street, London, on December 20, he says—


“On Tuesday we met at Westminster, where his Majesty opened the session with a most gracious speech from the throne, which j hope you have got, as you shall have the addresses of both Houses sent by this post. You will easily perceive what was aimed at by the speech, and that by the addresses both the Lords and Commons have most dutifully consented to take 16,000 Hanover troops into our pay. This was openly avowed by Lord Carteret[257] in the Upper House, and by those who made the motion in the Lower. After a debate which lasted till between 10 and 11 at night our address was carried by a majority of 109, the numbers being 150 and 259. By that stroke England is become a province to Hanover, the charge of the military part of its government already being flung upon us (for who shall tell when we shall get rid of this burthen?) or how soon we shall feel the additional part of the same? The late ministry never attempted anything like it, and it shows that the new one will stick at nothing to recommend themselves to the King, the Devil in Milton, ‘with one bound, high overleapt all bound.’... The number of those that love their country truly, always was and ever will be but small, and the Saints never yet governed the Earth, and I believe never will, but true patriotism is not the less a virtue for that, nor must its votaries leave off their endeavours or be discouraged at whatever happens.”

[255] Remember this is “Old Style” date.

[256] This was the proposal to pay Hanoverian troops with English money to assist in the war.

[257] Afterwards Lord Granville, born 1690, died 1763. Secretary of State.

It will hardly be credited that the country apothecary bled Mrs. Montagu for a headache in her delicate condition; but so he did, and as a fever was then raging, she submitted, though saying she heard “he had let the life out of the veins of eleven people,” as this disease would not stand “blooding!”


A Mr. Twycross, who was in love with Sarah Robinson, suffered from sore throat, and she accordingly herself made up a bolus for him from a recipe of[136] an old maid friend, the size of which alarmed Mrs. Montagu. Fortunately, his throat getting better, he did not use it, to Mrs. Montagu’s relief, who says—

“Had he swallowed it I should have thought there was love powder in it, for he said a thousand pretty things to her, with an air of great tenderness, and indeed had he taken the bolus I believe no man could have been nearer dying for a lady. The recipe had been given her by an ancient maiden, who having said in her sorrow all men were liars, thought the best way to cure them of the vice of telling lyes was to choak them.”


Some details as to the conveyance of goods are given in a letter of Mr. Robinson, Senior, to Mr. Montagu on December 12, saying, “Dear Sir, I sent on Saturday by the Whitstable Hoy[258]Talbot’ two brace of woodcocks and a pheasant, which I hope you have received.”

[258] A coasting vessel.

In a letter to Mr. Montagu, December 17, his wife desires him,

“pray order Griffith to send me down ‘The Complaint, or Thoughts on Time, Death and Friendship.’[259]... I have been desired by a friend to read it....

“Our boys[260] are to be put on board the York stage this day sennight, this will be their first launching into the world, I wish the bounteous Lady Fortune would take ’em in hand. Jacky is vastly pleased that you entreated his Father to send him to Westminster. They desire their best respects.”

[259] By the Rev. James Hervey, born 1714, died 1758.

[260] Her three little brothers.


Mr. Montagu was still detained in London, not only by his parliamentary duties, but for a Chancery suit. He writes on December 21, lamenting the long separation “from the ardent object of his desires,” but pleased to think that the doctor will soon give her permission to[137] join him in London. This passage throws light on law suits of that day—

“Our petition, as we were made to expect, was to have been heard this day, but the Lord Chancellor who has, j think, much more business than any one man can go through as he ought to do, had so many petitions that it is thought impossible it should come on sooner than tomorrow, and may not be till near the beginning of next term. Part of his Lordship’s time is this day taken up by his attendance on the King, who comes to the House of Lords to pass some money bills, in all his royal pageantry and show. Things of this nature add a great deal to the plague, expense and delay of Law, especially in the Court of Chancery. If we are not heard tomorrow in the forenoon j shall be deprived of your brother’s[261] assistance, who was so good as to come post from Canterbury on Sunday last on purpose, and must set out again for the same place at noon tomorrow.... This day the House of Commons are to be adjourned till after the hollydays, and it is talked that the Session will be at an end by the beginning of March. The opposition has been carried on with a great deal of Spirit and will be continued to be so after Xmas, as it is given out. They intend to make a new ministry wade through more mire, though they have gone through so much already. They have got themselves more enemies in the short time they have been in, than Lord Orford in his long reign, for they are ruining their country faster than ever he did, and this infamous job of the Hanoverian Troops, it’s thought was what he never would give way to. Several of our young Members have greatly distinguished themselves by their opposition, and made it appear that there is no want of the parts and capacity of those who have so perfidiously deserted them and the cause of liberty. But none has done it so eminently as Mr. Pit(t),[262] who in the opinion [138]of several, as well as me, is a greater man than ever j have sat with, and if he preserves his integrity, will be transmitted to posterity in the most illustrious of characters. He is at least equal, if not superior to Mr. Murray,[263] who has been brought into the House on purpose to contend with him, and who did the first day of his entrance by saying everything the cause would bear in so good a manner, that he gave nobody offence, which makes me believe he will not serve the ministry in the slavish, dirty manner other attorneys and solicitor generals are wont to do, but with more dignity to himself, if not with more advantage to their cause....

“I hope you will, along with this, receive Mr. Hervey’s lucubration. If Lord Shaftesbury’s ‘Characteristics’ are among my books, Wear shall bring them down....

“It is with much pleasure j acquaint you Lady Sandwich[264] was on Saturday morning at 4 o’clock safely brought to bed of a Son.”[265]

[261] Thomas Robinson.

[262] William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, born 1708, died 1778; “the great commoner.”

[263] William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, born 1705, died 1793.

[264] Wife of the 4th Earl of Sandwich, cousin of Mr. Montagu’s.

[265] John, afterwards 5th Earl of Sandwich.

In writing to the Duchess of Portland on December 28 to wish her a happy new year, Mrs. Montagu informs her she has permission from Dr. Sandys to move towards London in a fortnight’s time. She says—

“I shall move as slowly as a fat corpse in a herse. Your grace asks me if I have left off footing and tumbling down stairs; as to the first, my fidgetations are much spoiled, sometimes I have cut a thoughtless caper which has gone to the heart of an old Steward of Mr. Montagu’s, who is as honest as ‘Trusty’ in the play of Grief à la Mode. I am told he has never heard a hop that he has not echoed with a groan. I have taken such heed to my goings I have not gone down stairs more than by gradual degrees.”

The following passage from a letter of Mrs. Donnellan’s to Mrs. Montagu shows the price paid for [139]embroidery of flowers which was much used at this time on dresses. She says—

“I have spoken to Jenny Clegg about your sack. She always works according to the price, the slightest trimming down to the bottom, of natural flowers she says will be £8, and the handsomest £12, and between in proportion. I gave her 4 guineas for my apron, and she has always three and a half or four for the robings and facings of a night dress.”

A “night dress” was what we should call an evening dress now.


In a letter to Mrs. Donnellan a light is thrown on that ever-important functionary, a cook. That individual being required, Mrs. Donnellan had mentioned a cook who had been with Lady Selina Bathurst. Mrs. Montagu writes—

“As to the Cook being an Irish woman, I think it can be no objection to me who prefer a lady[266] of that country to almost any one of our own; she being a good catholick is not much, but I think it will not be right to take her unless Lady Selina Bathurst says she is a good cook, for had she all the cardinal virtues, and could not fricasy (sic) and make good soop (sic) I should not know what to do with her. I would give £15 a year to a very good cook, but if she is not above being improved, and I could get her to go into the King’s kitchen, or to any famous Tavern to learn cookery, I would give a guinea or two for her teaching, and I heard that in the places I mention they will take in a person upon such terms. I suppose she will dress meat on fast days? I like the character of the woman provided she has had the smallpox, as I would not have any person in the house who might run me into the hazard.”

[266] Mrs. Donnellan was Irish.

The three Robinson boys were taken by young Mr. Edward Carter to York, placed in the coach to London,[140] and were met by Griffith, a valet of Mr. Montagu’s in London, Mr. Montagu taking them in in Dover Street, and despatching them with a servant to Canterbury, en route for Mount Morris.


On December 28 Mrs. Montagu writes to her husband she trusts to set out for London on January 9, and hopes to accomplish the journey in ten or eleven days! The Chancery suit had been deferred till January 13. A letter of Thomas Robinson’s regretting his inability to leave the Kentish Sessions held at Maidstone contains this passage, “I have already two or three retainers for that day, and have generally the good fortune to be employed in every cause, which makes the gains of the day considerable.”... He winds up with saying he has delivered his brief of the Montagu case to Mr. Fawcet, who, he is sure, will make better use of it than he should.

And so ends the year 1742.




At last the longed-for day arrived for Mrs. Montagu and her sister to set out southwards. Mr. Carter, the faithful old steward, insisted on travelling with them instead of his son Edward, and the description of his excitement and anxiety shown by his expressions are very characteristic. Arrived at Doncaster on January 8, Mrs. Montagu writes to her husband and mother, stating that she could not do so before, as this was the first south post she had met.


The letter to her mother is dated—

“Doncaster, Saturday the 8,

“Dear Madam,

“I arrived here this evening, without having suffer’d any inconvenience or fatigue in my whole progress. We were met on Thursday in Leeming Lane[267] by a Messenger from Capt. Twycross to tell us the waters were out at Burroughbridge, and that we could not pass them, so I apply’d to my guide, Mr. Carter, and a wise man is certainly never out of his element. He told me I might go to Kirby Hill and there get a warm lodging, though not an elegant one; which he thought[142] would be as well as turning back. For my part I assured him I had rather have my bed stuffed with flocks than my pillow with care and disappointment, and agreed to go on to the place he mentioned, and then send a messenger to see if the waters were fallen. The Dove returned with an olive branch, and we went on to the Waterside[268] there to prevent fear (for danger there was none), we got into a boat and navigated through Mr. Williamson’s gardens, his melancholy yews just shew’d their formal heads above the water. Himself a melancholy shade too, was almost in as bad a way, for the water was quite to his door, so he could get no amusement from the rest of the world, but what he saw from the windows. We were safely landed at the door of the Inn. The coach came through the water without getting any wet inside of it, and we all rejoiced that we had been more afraid than hurt. Mr. Carter, in his care, often bid me be of good courage; as there was not occasion for any, I could not be disgraced for want of it: from our first setting out I have not been less entertain’d than guarded by him, he has really acted the part of Sir Roger de Coverley all the way; his benevolent heart breaks into such honest and affectionate expressions, you would think he was talking to his family wherever he is; at the ‘Oak-tree’ he was, I saw, shaking hands with every creature. I stopp’d to speak to a servant of Mrs. Yorke’s who met us with her compliments, and could hear Mr. Carter praising the strong beer, thanking the Landlord, wishing many good things to a boy who was stuffing a luncheon of bread and butter, thanking Heaven for good weather, and commending the road, all in a breath. At Lord Castlecomer’s Inn he would stop for the horses to eat, he said a sort of grace to it, praying it might strengthen them to the end of their journey, then he extolled the Inn, the Landlord and his wife, not forgetting a ‘lile lass’ that stood at the gate: all the way we went in the boat he commended the boatmen more than an envious person would have done Christopher[143] Columbus, for exploring leas and lands unknown; at Borough Bridge he made the funeral Elogy of Mr. Mann, but not to wrong the living for the sake of the dead, he said the handsomest things to mine Hostess, the civilest things to her daughters, the most honourable things of her son, and the most affable things to the chambermaid, that ever I heard in my life. At Aberforth he was not less kind to every creature, nor less indulgent to every thing, and he is the same still, and I doubt not but will be Sir Roger de Coverley to the end of the journey. I am really pleased by reflection, and though I don’t see everything in his point of view, I am delighted at his happiness, like the bee he gathers honey from every flower, nay, weed, which to common taste have no perfection. I wish I could think as well of all mankind as he does; but he deserves to think better of it. Benevolence is built so much on faith, that those who think very ill of people in general, will never do them much good, for service often arises from trust, and we cannot trust those whom we dare not believe.”

[267] Leeming Lane, a stage 218 miles from London.

[268] Boroughbridge is on the river Ure.


The end of this letter is lost. Mr. Montagu being unable, from the Chancery cause coming on, to meet his wife, despatched a servant named Griffith, but he, falling ill at an early stage of the road, deputed another person to meet her. A most dutiful and affectionate letter occurs here to Mr. Montagu, but too long for inclusion. Mr. Carter having seen them safe to Leicester, left them there, where Sarah Robinson had an attack of illness which delayed them a day. When well enough, they proceeded by way of Harborough, Newport Pagnell, Dunstable, etc., to Dover Street, London.

Mrs. Freind and Mrs. Botham (Mrs. Sterne’s sister, Lydia), both expecting their confinements, entreated Mrs. Montagu to stand godmother to their future babes, to which she consented. Mr. Botham was then Rector[144] of Yoxall, Staffordshire, and Chaplain to Lord Aylesford,[269] whose daughter Mary, Lady Andover,[270] was Mrs. Botham’s most intimate friend and patroness. She was also a friend of Mrs. Montagu’s, to whom she constantly wrote tidings of Lydia Botham’s frequent illnesses and pecuniary troubles.

[269] Heneage, 2nd Earl of Aylesford.

[270] Wife to William, Viscount Andover, son of 11th Earl of Suffolk.


The Chancery suit Mr. Montagu had been engaged in was occasioned by his claiming the guardianship of his unfortunate first cousin, Mr. John Rogers, who, owning large estates at Newcastle-on-Tyne, and East and West Denton near there, besides much other property, had now been a lunatic[271] for some years. It will be seen in the pedigree that Mr. Montagu’s mother was a Sarah Rogers. This table will elucidate the relationship—

{Skip transcribed table} {See image for table}

John Rogers,
of E. and W. Denton.

Margaret Cock,
dau. of Henry Cock, Merchant, Newcastle-on-Tyne.

John Rogers, of Denton Hall and Newcastle-on-Tyne, etc., Sheriff of Northumberland, 1693–94;
d. 1709.

Eliz. Ellison, m. 1684, at Lanchester; d. April 16, 1733. Sarah Rogers =

Hon. Charles Montagu, High Sheriff of Durham,1686–1709; d. 1721.

John Rogers, Sheriff of Northumberland, 1715–16; b. 1685, d. June 24, 1758. = Anne Delaval, dau. of Sir John Delaval; d. Jan. 3, 1723.

Edward Montagu, b. 1692, d. May 20, 1775.
Eliz. Robinson, b. 1720, d. 1800.

b. 1694.
died s.p.
Jemima = Mr. Medows, afterwards Sir Sydney Medows.

[271] Evidently he was a lunatic forty years, and bed-ridden ten.

Illustration: Morris Robinson

The Rev. M. W. Peters, R.A. Pinx. Emery Walker Ph. Sc.

Morris Robinson


Old Mr. Rogers had bought East Denton land and collieries for £10,900 from the Erringtons in 1689, who had long had the property. In December, 1705, Mr. Rogers bought of Sir James Clavering his share of the West Denton property. The history of Denton Hall will be given further on. Young John Rogers appears[145] to have had fits as early as 1718. He married in 1713, Anne Delaval, who died in 1723 at Seaton Delaval, and he seems to have become deranged soon after her death. As long as his mother lived he was well cared for, but she died in 1733, and the last nine years he had been gradually getting worse, and a set of designing people surrounded him. I have a letter of his written to his parents, apparently on going to Oxford in 1705, which is so curious that I insert it here. It is addressed—

“John Rogers, Esqr., att
“The House in Newcastle upon Tyne,

Dear Father,

“I hope since that I am fallen into the hands of a gentleman, who is not only a stranger to you, but to all my relations, that you will do me the favour to write to my tutor, which I am sure he can’t but take exceeding well, having never heard from any of my friends since I removed heather. I had notice by my Mother yt you had ordered me £40, and wonder that as yett I have not heard from John Nicholson, that, I fancy Mr. Atkinson’s letter has miscarried. I see Mr. Fremantel here on Sunday night who sett forward for Newcastle on Monday morning, that I fancy you will see him before you receive this. We had one man executed here on Saturday morning who was taken here just a little before our assizes by two Smiths, he had been twice put in the Gazett for a highwayman, and those fellows took him, hoped to receive the reward. The fellow knowing himself to be a great rogue, and that if he escaped here, they would have had a Habeas Corpus to remove him, sent for the man whose horse it was he had stolen, to come to challenge his horse, and was indited for it and pleaded guilty, hoping I suppose to be transported. There was a great interest made at Court for to save his [146]life, but all would not doo, but by this he has baulked the fellows yt took him of their £40.

“So with my duty to my Mother and yourself,

“I am, dear Father,
“Your dutiful Son,
John Rogers.

“Oxon, August 18, 1705.”


Mr. Montagu was made guardian and manager to Mr. Rogers and his estate. Uneasy as he was at leaving his wife in her present situation, he was obliged to go to Newcastle to see into affairs. Sarah Robinson, who had gone home, was quickly summoned to return to her sister, to which her parents rather unwillingly gave their consent. Mr. Montagu writes each post, as often as he could, most affectionate letters to his wife; as he rode all the way, disliking a carriage, we see by his letters the time the journey took. March 19, he writes from Nottingham, having been four days reaching there. He says, “If j was mounted as j ought to be j could without much difficulty reach Allerthorpe on Monday night, whereas j must now be content if j get there some time on Tuesday.” He bids her divert herself with her friends and acquaintances, and to send him good accounts of her health, “as there is nothing under Heaven that is so dear to me.”

But no sooner had Mr. Montagu set out than the Duchess of Portland lost her youngest daughter Frances, just two years old, from convulsions after whooping cough. She forbade Mrs. Montagu coming to see her at first, for fear of her grief affecting her in her present condition. Mrs. Donnellan and Mrs. Pendarves were with the duchess, and did all they could to solace her grief, which was intense. After a few days, however, the two friends met, and had a sad meeting.

To return to Mr. Montagu’s travels, he got to[147] Allerthorpe, where Mr. Carter joined him, and they proceeded to Newcastle, to Mr. Rogers’ house, where

“three attorneys attended to take inventorys of the goods, schedules of the writings and bonds, and whatsoever we found in the Secretoires etc. of the unhappy gentleman, but more is owing to the dexterity and unintermitting diligence of Mr. Carter in the despatch we have made than to everything else put together. We have found Bonds amounting to near £10,000 value.”

A general oversight was arranged to be taken by Mr. Carter of the estates and tenants, many of the latter being heavily in arrears in rents. It is characteristic of Mr. Montagu’s uprightness in business that, though not obliged to do so, he rendered to Sir James Clavering, Mr. Rogers’ uncle, a complete account of his estate, of which Sir James greatly approved, and regretted these steps were not taken ten years before. A Mr. Grey was put in charge of Mr. Rogers.


Mr. Montagu and Mr. Carter commenced their journey home, the latter going to Darnton Fair en route. People rose early for business then. Mr. Montagu states Mr. Carter “sat up late last night and rose this morning at 3, and set out at 6 for Bedale, where he will be occupied all day.” He adds, “He is unwearied, j never knew his fellow. He has lived three times as much as any other man no older than he, and has done three times as much business and benefited many and hurt none. I wish j could say as much of those who are in a rank of life infinitely superior to him.” Truly this is a fine picture of a righteous steward.


By May 1, when Elizabeth writes to her mother, Mr. Montagu had returned to her, she and her sister meeting him at Highgate. Mention is made in this letter of Miss Brockman having become temporarily speechless from[148] inoculation. Sarah returns to Mount Morris, and the last letter before Mrs. Montagu’s confinement tells of the purchase of a “magnifique Berceau” just in time, as on May 11 Mrs. Montagu gave birth, at their house in Dover Street, to a fine boy, to the infinite joy of Mr. Montagu and his sister, Mrs. Medows. A young farmer’s wife, a Mrs. Kennet, living near Mount Morris, had been engaged as a wet-nurse to the child.

On May 30 the Rev. William Freind, to whom Mr. Montagu had written to announce the birth of his child, writes to congratulate him, and to say Mrs. Freind had presented him with a daughter that morning. Mr. Montagu had promised to stand godfather if it was a boy,[272] but if a daughter Mrs. Montagu was to be godmother. To this letter, on June 4, Mr. Montagu replied that his wife and child are doing well, and he says—

“The latter end of next week we intend for the baptism of our infant, and if you were here should be prouder to have the ceremony performed by you than anybody else, for if j may judge from what has happened to the Father, j imagine it would be auspicious to the Son. I am sure j ought never to forget the share you had in putting me in the possession of the Mother,[273] in whom j find my every wish more than compleated. In less than a fortnight we intend going to Sandleford,[274] and after that to go on the inoculation, which j hope will have an happy event, which, if so, j cannot be too thankful to Providence.”

[272] This child was christened Elizabeth. She died young.

[273] Mr. Freind had married them.

[274] Mr. Montagu’s seat near Newbury.

He adds his desire for Mr. Freind and his family to visit them at Sandleford en route home from Bath.


The reader will remember that Mrs. Montagu was[149] peculiarly afraid of smallpox, but she had determined, if once a mother, she would be inoculated, so that she should be able to attend to her child if it ever had the disease, and to prevent separation from or infection to it if she herself took the disease in the natural manner. When her dread of it is recollected, it will appear a heroic deed on her part. Her mother, Mrs. Robinson, was far from easy at the idea of the inoculation taking place in the summer heat.

Meanwhile the little boy was christened John, though he soon acquired the nickname of “Punch,” their own familiar peep-show, as the fond parents deemed him, and is only twice mentioned in the letters I have as my little “Jack.”

In a letter of June 21, from the Duchess of Portland, who was at Welbeck with Lady Oxford, she mentions—

“The Duke of Kingston[275] has been in the utmost danger, so great Doctor Hickman has refrained sleeping part of a night, not without the assistance of Barbecued Hog, Tokay, etc., etc., etc. to keep up his spirits, to enable him to go through the immense fatigue of waking a few hours with his patron.” She adds, “Thank God the children are all well. I hope your little man is so, my best wishes must ever attend the dear boy.”

[275] He died in 1773, when the title became extinct.

Mrs. Montagu went to recruit at Sandleford with Mr. Montagu, preparatory to removing the child and establishment there, as she writes to her sister Sarah, who, with Mrs. Medows, is left in Dover Street in charge of the son and heir—


“I really long to have you here. I think I may say you never saw anything so pretty as the view these gardens command, for my part I would not change the situation for any I ever saw; there is nothing in Nature [150]pretty that they have not. The prospect is allegro, and as ‘Mirth with thee I chose to live,’ I am glad it is of that kind, ‘the loathed melancholy of Cerberus and blackest midnight, born in Stygeian cave forlorn,’ dare not appear in this little paradise. There is a charming grove where your reveries may wander at pleasure, you may allegorize like Spenser, or pastoralize like the lesser poets, there are roses and honeysuckles hourly dropping to put you in mind ‘how small a part of time they share, that are so wondrous sweet and fair,’ and this will whisper to you ‘de coglier d’amor la rosa,’ indeed, my dear Sall, these pretty things are mere toys, as are all things in this world, but a true friend. I am thankful for the benefits of fortune, and pleased with them, but really attached only to the person who bestows them. My benefactor bestows favours with more pleasure and more complaisance too, than most people receive them with, and this gives the relish to favour, for as Ophelia says, ‘Gifts grow cheap when givers are unkind.’

“I hope the young plant thrives under your care. Pray write every post, and say all you can about the boy, for as insignificant as he seems in his swaddling cloaths, it is more interesting to his parents to hear of where he went, than to hear of all the feats of Hercules girded in his Lion’s skin.”

Then she orders a dozen bibs to be made for the babe, of “fine damask, the pattern of Lady Betty Bentinck’s pinned to my embroidered quilted petticoat.”


Sandleford Priory is two miles south of Newbury, Berks. It was originally founded by Geoffry, 4th Earl of La Perche, and his wife Matilda of Saxony, between the years 1193 and 1202, dedicated to St. Mary and St. John the Baptist, and placed under the Austin Canons; but Mr. Money, in his “History of Newbury,” states “the recluses of Sandleford” are mentioned in the Pipe Roll of the 26th of Henry II., 1180, so that a body of religious had existed there or near before the date of the building[151] by the Earl de la Perche.[276] In the reign of Edward IV., circ. 1480, a dispute arose between the Prior and the Bishop of Salisbury, in whose diocese Sandleford lay; in consequence of this dispute the monastery was forsaken, and the King, at the instance of the Bishop (Richard Beauchamp), gave it to the Dean and Chapter of Windsor. In the 26th of Henry VIII. it was stated to be in their possession, valued at £10.

[276] His ancestor accompanied the Conqueror to England.

In the time of James I., 1615, Sandleford was declared to be a separate parish, and unratable from Newbury, but the chapel being dismantled and unfit for use, £8 a year was ordered to be paid to the Rector of Newbury, which entitled the occupants of the Priory to a seat in the Newbury parish church, which has been continued ever since.

The lessees from the Dean and Canons of Windsor appear, from a paper of my uncle, Lord Rokeby’s, to have been, early in the eighteenth century, the Pitt Rivers of Stratfieldsaye, by whom the lease was sold in 1717 to William Cradock, Esq., after an intermediate alienation. The lease was purchased in 1730 by Mr. Edward Montagu, grandson of the 1st Earl of Sandwich. A letter of April, 1733, of Mr. John Rogers to his aunt, the Hon. Mrs. Sarah Montagu, at Sandleford, about the death of his mother, Mrs. Rogers, and her leaving her sister £10, and each of her three children a ring, is in my possession, and shows she was then living or staying with her son Edward.

The chapel is erroneously stated in several works (vide Tanner, etc., etc.) to be destroyed. It was disused, not destroyed, though the bells, seats, and the tomb of the crusading knight[277] had disappeared. As we[152] proceed further into the manuscripts we shall see it was used as a bedroom or rooms!

[277] Probably Count Thomas de la Perche, son of the founder, as his father was buried at St. Denis Nogent. Thomas died in 1217. For a description of the tomb, etc., see note at the end of this book.

The situation of the Priory is charming, the principal rooms fronting south on a slight eminence, sloping to the river Alebourne, now called Enborne, which crosses the high-road just below the lower lodge, and skirts the south side of the park. On the east the ground slopes to a wooded valley, down which are many ponds, dating from the monks’ time, some of which were joined together by Mr. Montagu, afterwards more by his widow, to form lakes. Many fine trees surround it in these days, and at the time of Mr. Montagu’s first living there, seem to have been exceedingly numerous; also walled gardens, which are now removed. Beyond the valley to the east the ground rises in a wooded ridge. The village here mentioned must have been a few cottages near the mill on the west, which existed where Sandleford Lodge is now built: these have all long ago disappeared.

Illustration: Sandleford Priory



To the duchess Mrs. Montagu wrote in raptures of the beauties of Sandleford, but in the middle of her description states, “Here was I interrupted by a Parson, his wife and daughter, and I shall not be reconciled to ‘Prunello and grogram’ again a great while, they robbed me of those hours I could have dedicated to your grace.” Prunello was the woollen stuff then used for clerical gowns, grogram a coarse kind of taffety, a mixture of silk and mohair, applicable to feminine attire.

Mrs. Botham writes on July 8, that as Mrs. Montagu was unable, when her baby was born, to be applied to, she had given him his father’s name, John. Lydia Botham had two, if not three, daughters, but this was her first son.



From Sandleford Mrs. Montagu returned to London, intending to be inoculated, but in a letter of July 12 she informs the duchess that Dr. Mead considered she had better defer the operation till the heat of the summer was over—in September. In the same letter she states that Mrs. Medows and herself had called on the old Countess of Granville,[278] who appears to have been a most garrulous old lady, and Mrs. Montagu says—

“She fell with all her violence on my complexion, and behold, she certainly by her description takes my forehead to be tortoishell, my cheeks to be gold, my eyes to be onyx, and my teeth amber: all these are precious things, but Mr. Montagu not having so rich a fancy as King Midas, I know not whether he would like such a wife. Your Grace may believe I was extremely mortified. The good woman says Mrs. Medows looks better and younger for being married; but for me I am pale and green, and describes me as worse than the apothecary that lives about the rendezvous of death in Caius Marius. She is of opinion that lying in has spoiled my face; true it is I have furnished a noble pair of chops to the little boy, and if mine are a little the lanker for it, I scarce grudge it....”

[278] Grace, Viscountess Carteret, and Countess Granville in her own right.

Further on she says, “Thank you for your kind inquiry after the young ‘Fidget,’ who loves laughing and dancing, and is worthy of the Mother he sprang from. As for Mrs. Donnellan, she is well. Mrs. Delany is better than well.”

Mrs. Pendarves had been married on June 9 this same year to the Rev. Dr. Patrick Delany,[279] afterwards Dean of Down, and an intimate friend of Swift’s.

[279] Dr. Delany, born 1686, died 1768; made Dean 1744.


The Montagus, accompanied by Sarah Robinson, now moved with the child to Sandleford. A letter to the Duchess of Portland of July 26 says—


“Sandleford, near Newbury.


“If I was as good a poet as Boileau[280] I would complain of l’Embarras de Londres, and also of l’Embarras de la Campagne, and of the still greater embarras of travelling from one place to another. When I had the happiness of your letter, I was so encompassed with boxes, trunks and portmanteaus, and even that lesser plague of band-boxes, that I could not give myself the pleasure of writing to your Grace. Bag and baggage we arrived here on Thursday night: first marched the child crying, nurse singing, and the Abigails talking; Mr. Montagu, my sister and myself brought up the rear. We had fine weather and a pleasant journey. We took a boat from the Inn of Maidenhead Bridge, and rowed round his Grace of Marlborough’s Island.[281] I had the pleasure of reflecting on the agreeable morning I had spent there with you.”

[280] Nicholas Despreaux Boileau, born 1636, died 1711. French poet of note.

[281] Monkey Island. See ante.

Further in the letter she states the duke[282] had planted some cannon on the borders.

“Mrs. Medows has promised to take the child while I am sick,[283] and I am best satisfied that it will be with her, for I am sure she will take care of it, and thank God! it is a very strong healthy child; indeed were he otherwise I should not leave him, for I think when they are sickly, no one can be tender enough for them but a parent.”

[282] Then the 3rd Duke of Marlborough.

[283] Meaning when she was to be inoculated.

She says—

“Dr. Courayer dined with us the day before we left town: he was more elated with having a letter from you, than he had been dejected with the overthrow of the French;[284] he looks well, and his mind is the seat [155]of tranquillity. Donnellan promises to come down here soon. I hope she will stay till I go to London to be inoculated.”

[284] Alluding to the battle of Dettingen, fought in June, 1743.


In alluding to a lady who had “excellent sense and wit, but a want of softness in her manners,” she adds—

“This is of great consequence to a woman to keep off disagreeable manners, for the world does not mind our intrinsic worth so much as the fashion of us, and will not easily forgive our not pleasing. The men suffer for their levity in this case, for in a woman’s education little but outward accomplishment is regarded. Some of our sex have an affectation of goodness, others a contempt of it from their education; but the many good women there are in the world are merely so from nature, and I think it is much to the credit and honour of untaught human nature that women are so valuable for their merit and sense. Sure the men are very imprudent to endeavour to make fools of those to whom they so much trust their honour and happiness and fortune, but it is in the nature of mankind to hazard their peace to secure power, and they know fools make the best slaves.”

A letter early in August to the duchess, who had now returned to Bullstrode from Welbeck after visiting Matlock, says—

“I was in hopes to have heard when you would come to town. I wish you may come up to us soon after the 24th (August) of this month, which is the time I propose for going to London for inoculation. I think there is no danger of hot weather after the middle of September. Dr. Mead says it is the best time for me....

“Matlock must be well worth seeing, we have nothing here of the wild and uncultivated sort. I intend to go and indulge Reveries at an old Castle[285] where Chaucer made his fairies gambol, with as much grace and prettiness as [156]the Muses of old on the hill of Parnassus. The Castle is on a rising just above Newbury, and commands a pretty view of the country. The prospect is of sufficient extent to let the poetick fancy soar at pleasure among the beauties of Nature. Pray where is ‘Pen,’[286] will she produce a sprig of bays? it must be a little Master Apollo or a Miss Minerva from parents of such art and science. I have sent your Grace a copy of a letter Lord Orford[287] sent to General Churchill,[288] if ever he was to be envy’d it was when he wrote that letter: it seems to come from a mind pleased with everything about it, and easy in itself, amidst the refinement of luxury and expense, without the madness of intemperance, or inconveniences of prodigality.”

[285] Donnington Castle.

[286] Mrs. Delany’s old pet-name.

[287] Alias the great Sir Robert Walpole.

[288] General Charles Churchill, commonly called “old Charles Churchill,” to distinguish him from his son, who afterwards married Mr. Edward Walpole’s daughter; he was the illegitimate son of James II. and Arabella Churchill.


The end of this letter is missing. Lord Orford’s letter, written in an unknown hand, is thus:—

“Houghton, June 24, 1743.

Dear Charles,

“(Lord Orford’s letter to General Churchill.)

“This place affords no news, no subject of entertainment for fine men. Men of Wit and Pleasure about Town understand not the charms of the inanimate world: my Flatterers here are Mutes: the Oaks, the Brookes, the Chestnuts seem to contend which shall best please the Lord of the Mannour; they cannot deceive, they will not Lye. I in sincerity admire them and have as many Beauties about me as fill up all my hours of dangling, and no disgrace attends me from 67 years of age. Within doors we come a little nearer to real Life, and admire upon the almost speaking canvass all the airs and graces which the proudest of[157] Town ladies can boast, with these I am satisfied, because they gratifie me with all I wish, and all I want, and expect nothing in return, which I cannot give. If these, Dear Charles, are any Temptation, I heartily invite you to come and partake of them. Shifting the scene sometimes has its recommendation, and from Country Fare you may possibly return with a keener appetite to the more delicate Entertainments of a refined life.

“I am, dear Charles, etc.,

“P.S.—Since I wrote the above we have been surprised with good news from abroad. Too much cannot be said about it, for it is truly matter of infinite Joy, as it is of Infinite Consequence.”

Lord Orford is here alluding to the battle of Dettingen.


The duchess, in a letter of August 26 from Bullstrode, says, “Thanks for Sir Robert’s letter, I had never seen it.” In alluding to the tiresome etiquette and interference she suffered from at Welbeck under Lady Oxford’s despotic rule, she says—

“I please myself that my children will love me better, as my covetousness will not be obliged ’em to pay me court, and as I shall have no suspicion of their duty, but be convinced that their motives proceed from disinterested love, and by that means we shall each of us be happy. Was the Duchess of Marlborough[289] possessed by one good quality? I should think she deserved pity more than the poorest creature in the street, not to have one child, but what wishes her dead, nor capable of knowing the enjoyments of friendship.... We propose being in London Monday sennight.”

[289] Sarah, the celebrated Duchess of Marlborough.

On Thursday, August 25, Mrs. Montagu took a sad leave of her little boy, and started on her journey [158]to London, sleeping at Windsor, at the house of her sister-in-law, Mrs. Medows. Mr. Montagu remained with the child till the time his wife should be inoculated, when he was to join her in London, and Mrs. Medows was to take charge of him. Sarah joined her sister in London; it will be remembered she had had the disorder.


As inoculation is now out of date, I shall extract from the various letters the mode of procedure. Arrived in Dover Street, Mrs. Montagu is told by Elias, the duchess’s porter (then a most important domestic magnate), his mistress was coming to London on Monday. She therefore writes to beg the duchess, the duke, and Mr. Achard to dine with her that day “at 4 or 5 according to their convenience.” Business, however, prevented the duchess leaving Bullstrode for a week, but she is reinvited, as Dr. Mead says Mrs. Montagu will not be infectious till the disease appears. Meanwhile, in preparation for the dreaded operation, she was “dosed, then blooded, another dose or two of physick is all I shall want, and then proceed to meet that distemper I have been running from these four and twenty years: it is at present my misfortune the smallpox is so little stirring they cannot find a subject.” She writes to the duchess also in another letter, “Though Dr. Mead, Dr. Cotes, Mr. Hawkins, and the subaltern of the Physical faculty, the Apothecary, have been smallpox-hunting this week, they have not procured a subject for me.” She urges the duchess to dine, “as I shall be as well till 7 or 9 days after the operation as ever I was in my life.”

The duchess had been out of order with hysterical fits, and states she was ordered to drive in a chaise. Of this vehicle we gain a glimpse from this allusion of Mrs. Montagu’s in answer to the duchess, “A chaise is health, spirits and speed, a lady must lay aside her [159]hoop, her laziness and pride, before she is diminutive enough for a chaise.” A portion of a very beautiful letter, written by Mrs. Montagu to her husband before he joins her, I copy—

“Dover Street, Tuesday, August 30.

My Dearest,

“The happiest moments I have spent since I parted from you, were those I employed in reading your letter: accept the sincerest thanks a grateful and tender heart can make to the most kind and generous love. While Heaven shall lend me life, I will dedicate it to your service, and I hope our tender engagements shall not be broke by the cruel hand of fate. Notwithstanding the distemper I am going into, I have great hopes of my life, and a certainty of my love to you as long as that life shall last. Your kind behaviour and conversation has made my Being of such value to me that I am taking the best means to preserve and secure it from hazards, but let not the experiment cost you an anxious thought. It would be a reproach to the laws of Nature, if one as virtuous as you are, should not be sure to be happy. I trust you shall ever be so independent of a weak woman, who can serve you in nothing but wishes: could I reflect back the happiness I receive from you, I should tremble at my own importance to think of sinking from happiness to insensibility, and nothing might overcome my little courage, but to imagine I left you a portion of sorrow and regret as a burthen on all your years to come, would not only afflict but even distract me.”


The same day that she wrote this letter to her husband, she writes a note to Mrs. Donnellan, who had joined her brother, the Rev. Christopher Donnellan, at Tunbridge Wells. He, having been ordered to drink the waters, and having crossed from Ireland for that purpose, Mrs. Montagu says, “Does not your brother think he is in Babel? How does he like English [160]women with French dresses and French manners? In short, what does grave good sense think of Tunbridge?”

By Mr. Montagu’s desire, Dr. Sandys was added to the previous M.D.’s. A day or two after this Mr. Montagu joined her, and she was inoculated on September 3.


On September 7 Mrs. Montagu writes to Mrs. Donnellan—

My very dear Friend,

“As the time that passes between the expectation of a matter of importance and its happening is not a time of the greatest pleasure and tranquillity, you will be glad to hear it is four days since I was inoculated. I am still well and in perfect good spirits: it would be a sign of levity as I should be sorry and ashamed to find in myself to be disturbed at the approach of a distemper I have been seeking. The Duchess of Portland spent the day with me on Monday, and was here again with Lady Wallingford yesterday, and I expect her Grace this afternoon. In the meantime I hope to hear from you, and my sister will give you intelligence of me. Dr. Mead and Dr. Cotes attend me; I have given them on their prescribing two guineas apiece, but I am told when Dr. Mead attends constantly, one guinea a day will be enough, if he comes only once a day, but I wish you would be so kind as to enquire and let me know when you write to me; and I will beg you to order your maid to buy 2 Dozen Wheatears[290] and send them by the Haye Coach. Mr. Montagu never saw any, so if you please to tell your servant to send them with the feathers on.

“I am extremely glad to hear Mr. Donnellan finds benefit by the waters. Your family in Town flourishes much,[291] Mr. Percival is a young beau, Mrs. Percival has grown almost a toast, and for Mrs. Shuttleworth,[292] she[161] is a perfect beauty, she has a bloom like fifteen; I never saw anyone look so fresh and jolly.

“The town is full of reports of the discontent of the Army, it is almost feared the English and H(anoverian)s should fall upon each other. A gun going off while the Captain was at dinner, he bade General Honeywood go and see what was the matter; the General brought word it was nothing, upon which the great Captain sent a H(anoveria)n officer, who brought word it was the musket of a soldier upon guard; the Captain then cry’d he could have no truth from the E(nglis)h and that the E(nglis)h had no discipline: the D(uk)e of M(arlboroug)h said they had as much discipline as the H(anoverian)s, for that coming by their quarters, a ball went under his horse’s legs.

“Mr. Hawkins[293] comes every day to dress my arms, though the wounds given for the inoculation are very trifling, he does not think from the appearance of them I shall be ill yet. I shall be glad when the proper period for it arrives, but must wait with patience; it is said people do not know themselves, but by the little anxiety I have about myself, one would imagine I knew myself to be of as small consequence as I really am.... My dear little Babe is perfectly well....”

[290] Wheatears are delicious eating. They are migratory, and only frequent certain counties. They appear to have been more plentiful formerly. Sussex and Surrey are favourite localities.

[291] These are Mrs. Donnellan’s stepfather and her mother.

[292] Mrs. Shuttleworth was evidently a relation.

[293] The surgeon.

Illustration: Denton Hall



To this I subjoin a portion of Mrs. Donnellan’s answer from Tunbridge Wells—

“I received your comfortable letter, writ with the spirit of a Christian, a Philosopher and a woman of true fortitude. Since you don’t expect any appearance yet, I may venture to write, or if you should not be quite well, my letter is of no consequence, and may be thrown by. I will allow all your reasoning for yourself to be very good, and will not dispute with you now, whether you are of consequence to the world or not, I will only beg you to act as if you were, and take care of yourself for the sake of the few, and let the world come in for its [162]share of you by an by. I am of opinion one guinea a day is sufficient from a private gentle woman to any Physician in England, if he makes but one visit. I know all our family, and greater than us never gave more either to Hollins or Willmot; indeed if they prescribe twice they must be paid twice, but that I hope and believe will not be your case. I am not acquainted with anyone who makes use of Dr. Mead, but I suppose he is fee’d like other Physicians of note, and I think raising these sort of things on one another when they are already high enough by conscience is wrong....

“Our company quits us apace, but as there is not one body but Lady Sunderland[294] and Miss Sutton and Lady Catherine Hanmer that I care particularly for, and they stay, I am quite easy about the matter. I generally take a rural walk with my maid and man, and I am just returned from the Rocks, whose natural beauties strike me more agreeably than the laboured work of a palace. My brother rides every day, but walking does not agree with him.... No one here cares for a walk that carries them further than Tod’s Room or Chenevix’s Shop.[295] In the evening I conform with the world, and play at Whisk, Roli Poli, or what they will, and make them wonder that a person who has a guinea in their pockets and can perform at such entertainments, should prefer wandering in fields and woods with company little better than the creatures that inhabit them.”

[294] Née Judith Tichborne, third wife of Charles, Earl of Sunderland; remarried Right Hon. Sir Robert Sutton.

[295] A famous fancy-shop.

On September 12 Mrs. Montagu writes to the duchess, who had returned to Bullstrode, to say Mr. Hawkins did not believe, from the appearance of her arms, she would have the smallpox. Dr. Mead and Dr. Cotes had attended the day before, expecting to find inflammation, but the wounds appeared healed. From this it appears the surgeon attended the wounds daily, and doctors[163] occasionally. The very next day (September 13) Mr. Hawkins pronounced there was no longer a chance of the smallpox.

Mrs. Montagu writes to the duchess, “As Anacreon who swallowed many a hogshead of the juice of the grape was at last killed with a little grape stone, I who have missed the dire disease, am grumbling with the toothache.”


The duchess writes to Mrs. Montagu to beg her to think that though the smallpox has not appeared, she is as much secured as if it had. On September 15, as a wind-up to the inoculation, Mrs. Montagu “was blooded.”

“On Saturday we went to see Mr. Pope’s[296] garden and grotto, to Hampton Court and Bushey Park,” she writes to the duchess; and on Wednesday she was intending to pay a visit to her parents at Mount Morris, Kent, before returning to her child, for whom, she says, “her heart sickens.” On October 8 she proceeded to Sandleford, leaving Mr. Montagu, who had business, to follow in a few days; and she writes to the duchess from the inn at Maidenhead Bridge. In this letter she says she has great difficulty in “squeezing the cotton in the ink bottle which I am forced to do before each word, and as my pen is as prodigal of ink, as the bottle is sparing of it, after I have been half an hour replenishing my pen, one inconsiderate blot squanders it away.” This alludes to the strange habit of having cotton placed in the inn inkstand, under the delusion that it made it last longer. The whole writing of the letter is thick and blotted. She also mentions, “My sister set out for Bath this morning, with Mrs. Cotes. Poor madam Sally’s stomach is greatly out of order, and her nerves are often affected, but I hope the waters will do her good.”

[296] Pope’s villa and grotto at Twickenham.



Mrs. Cotes was the doctor’s wife, and a sister of Lord Irwin, a great friend of Sally’s, very small in stature and pretty, familiarly called “the little Madam.” The two ladies, accompanied by Mrs. Cotes’ footman, set out for Bath, diverging from Newbury for a night at Sandleford to see “Punch.” A passage from a letter of Sarah’s will show the perils of the road. They travelled in a post-chaise—

“A man set out with us from London, and kept us company about seven miles. He often asked the footman who we were, and whether we were going over Hounslow Heath; to the last he made no answer, but after being tired with his curiosity told him we were only ladies’ maids, upon which he forsook us, either being too proud to accompany abigails, or supposing we had not money enough to make it worth his while to go on to Hounslow Heath with us. We had one post-boy that pleased us extremely, he sung all the way, our pleasure did not arise from any music in his voice, but from seeing him so happy, and admiring the power of a contented spirit, that could make a person so joyful, that was at the caprice of any one, without any greater advantage than a shilling’s reward, and who is always to be jolted almost to death, by the only creatures that are beneath him.”

Almost shaken to pieces, they arrived at their lodgings at Mrs. Elliot’s, in the Orange Grove, Bath. Sarah describes the rooms as small, but comfortable, “looking down Wade’s Passage and into the coffee-house, which is a guard to the windows, and very often prevents their approach.” She grumbles at the expense of their journey, but says provisions are cheap, fowls one shilling each.

Jenny, her maid, had travelled by coach, a post-chaise of that time only holding two people. Here is a passage worthy of Fielding, “Jenny travelled down unspotted [165]and pure with the old parson, who gave her no comfort, but one spiritual kiss upon getting to the end of their journey.”


Both Mrs. Cotes and Sarah suffered from the hardness of the post-chaise, and Sarah also hints that other visible effects had been incurred which would last for days; hence fleas, if not worse, must have existed in it! Mrs. Montagu, in writing to condole with them, says, “It is a daring mind that ventures in a post-chaise. I wonder the partizans of these vehicles do not establish a broad bottom, and a competent share of cushion.” The vehicle was, from what I make out, a two-wheeled chaise. Mrs. Cotes’ footman had been directed to call, on his way back to London, on Mrs. Montagu. The style of speech of a servant of this period is shown in this passage—

“Mrs. Cotes’ man called very civilly, and brought me your last letter. ‘Pray, Mr. Thomas,’ says I, ‘did you leave the ladies well?’ ‘Yes, and very merry, Madam.’ ‘They had a good journey, I hope?’ ‘Yes, a very merry, Madam.’ ‘They were not at all afraid?’ ‘No, nothing but very merry, Madam.’ ‘Were they not tired when they came to their inns?’ ‘No, always very merry, Madam!’ At last Thomas’s account made me ‘so merry, Madam,’ I was forced to retire to laugh.

“Your nephew gets his share of sunshine every day, his teeth tease him and produce the dew of sorrow on his little cheeks sometimes, but in a moment it is forgotten, and he is always lively, and in continual health: he is thought to grow like his mother, so I think I may cease to be handsome with a good grace, as I have transferred it to my offspring.... Your nephew is in his birthday suit, laughing so I can hear him through the doors; the usurpation and authority of those bandages called garments he is too full of Whig principles to approve of!”



There were no babies’ carriages in those days, so little Punch drove out daily in the chariot, not to be confounded with the coach, a much larger vehicle.

In the same letter it appears that the good old Yorkshire steward, Mr. Carter, had had a bad fall, and the house in Dover Street not being large enough, Morris Robinson was trying to secure them one in Bruton Street. Mrs. Montagu, having suffered from weakness and hysterical fits, was recommended to ride daily—a pastime which was agreeably varied by the cutting of new walks through the Sandleford woods, and the continual amusement afforded to her and Mr. Montagu by the contemplation of their child’s too precocious ways.

A few details of life at Bath may prove amusing. Sarah writes to her sister that the waters agree very well with her, but that people are amazed at her walking between each glass. She had found a companion in Mrs. Wadman, Lord Windsor’s sister, whom she had met at the pump-room, as they drank the waters about the same time, and both were fond of walking.

The Rev. W. Freind and his wife were at Bath, and Sarah goes to hear him preach a charity sermon,

“the best I ever heard. I am going to dress to the best of my skill and power for the sake of his Majesty, this is kept as his birthday, and there is to be a ball and supper to-night, the men have subscribed on purpose. Mr. Simon Adolphus Sloper[297] is to be my partner, and has sent me his tickets, which will carry in Mrs. Freind also. Mrs. Cotes’ cold is too bad to go.... The Archbishop[298] is much censured for going away so soon, he has not tried the waters long enough to know whether they would be of any use to such an extream case as [167]his.... Mrs. Potter would let her husband see nobody but herself, and took his duty of preaching upon herself; she tempered it with a comfortable compliance, and when he used to say ‘I am sure I shall dye, I wish it might be at home,’ ‘To be sure, my dear,’ answers the good wife, ‘it is proper you should dye where you like, if you chuse it you shall go and dye at Lambeth.’ ...”

[297] Mr. Sloper lived at West Woodhay, near Newbury.

[298] John Potter, born 1674, died 1747. Archbishop of Canterbury.


At one of the balls Sarah did not dance, but she said she did not regret it, “having no inclination to dance with any man but Mr. Pitt,[299] and that I have not acquaintance enough with him to expect, I can only cherish my hopes of future good fortune.” At another ball she dances with Mr. Vanburgh, “a very pretty sort of man, but our affections to him are quite Platonic, as he is in love with the youngest Miss Nash.” This must have been the sister or daughter of Mr. Richard Nash[300] (“Beau Nash”), the despotic Master of the Ceremonies at Bath. He was not well at this time, and Mrs. Montagu sends her kind regards and condolences on his health. Amongst other people mentioned at Bath by Sarah were the Duke of Hamilton, Lord Berkeley, Mr. Powlett, and Mr. Bathurst, son of Lady Selina, the two Offleys, Mr. Greville, and Lord Robert Carr, said to be very handsome.

“Last night in the middle of the dancing we drank tea with a gentleman who had invited about twenty of us some days before. They give tea now almost as much of common days as they used to do on Sundays.”

[299] Afterwards Earl of Chatham.

[300] Richard Nash, for fifty years Master of the Ceremonies, Bath.

Sarah says she is going to play shuttlecock with a Mr. Amiens,[301] at the end of this letter; and in the next she states—


“I played at Shuttlecock about half an hour, there were five couple of us: in truth I played so much better than any in the room, I put them all in amazement, but it was rather owing to their bad play, and to my being matched with the two men that played the best, than my superior skill.... In my last I mentioned I was going to the ball: there was a table of sweetmeats, jellies, wine, Biskets, cold Ham and Turkey set behind two Screens, which at 9 o’clock were taken away, and the table discovered.... Above stairs there was a hot supper for all that would take the trouble to go up.”

[301] I think this was Mr. Amyand?


The ignorance of some ladies of this period is shown by Sarah in the following extract:—

“A lady told us last night that Miss Molyneux is so great a Mathematician that she can inster Greek, and that often a dozen of the most learned men of the Kingdom had puzzled their wise heads about a piece of Greek, and could make nothing of it; they proposed to send it to Miss Molyneux, and she instered it (alias construed it), and returned them her insteration!”

Whilst Sarah was at Bath, Mrs. Montagu wrote frequently to her mother at Mount Morris, much, naturally enough, about her child, about whom the fond grandmother was never tired of hearing. A little sentence gives a clue to his looks, “If my Father has drawn a blue-eyed simpering Cherubim, you may fancy him not unlike your grandchild; the child’s eyelashes are black and long, and he has a laughing look in his eyes, blue, like my Father.” He was still toothless, and suffered much with his gums, which made his mother already uneasy. Mr. Montagu had just taken some prodigious sized carp from a fish-pond at Sandleford, and was throwing three of the old monks’ ponds, or fish stews, into one large one.

Mrs. Donnellan writes from Bullstrode on October 21,[169] and says her brother is now going to Bath, where he will stay with their relations the Mountraths,[302] and that Sarah Robinson, “if she meets him she must make the advances, all the young ladies do, as he is a grave, stiff Parson.” Dr. Young and Lady Peterborough[303] were at Bullstrode when she wrote.

[302] 6th Earl of Mountrath and his wife.

[303] Née Anastasia Robinson.


In a letter to the duchess of October 25, Mrs. Montagu describes the gardens at Midgham, the seat of Mr. Poyntz,[304] near Aldermaston,

“to which Mr. Montagu carried me last week, I had no small expectations of them, both from report and the known sense and genius of the owner.... Over the door of a little grotto he declares for retirement in open fields, caves and dens, with living waters and woods. Statues of the Muses adorn his walls, their Arts adorn his mind and inspire him with the elegant ingenious gratitude that gives this public demonstration of honour to them. Every venerable oak has a seat under it from whence he takes the sacred oracles of meditation.... The gardens are of uneven ground, prettily diversified with hills and valleys. There is a fine bason before the house, that is always well supplied with water, and inhabited by fish.... I did not see Mr. Poyntz’s house, as it is not anything extraordinary, it would have been an impertinent curiosity to desire it, as they visit here when in the country.”

[304] Right Hon. Stephen Poyntz, Lord Treasurer.

Mrs. Donnellan writes for the duchess as well as herself in reply, Lady Oxford being there, and all the usual writing-hours given up to playing Pope Joan with her. In this letter, alluding to “Punch” watching with pleasure the colour of his bed-curtains, she says, “Master Wesley,[305] who is the most extraordinary child[170] for sense I ever knew, at three months old, used to be put in a good humour with a suit of tawdry Tapestry hangings.”

[305] This was Garrett Wesley, afterwards Earl of Mornington. He was Mrs. Donnellan’s godson, born 1735, died 1781.

The Duke of Portland had the misfortune to break his arm at the end of November, just as the Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Delany had arrived for their first visit since their marriage on June 9.


In writing to condole with the duchess, a typical story of a footpad is given by Mrs. Montagu. The duchess had just set up keeping bees at Bullstrode, and Mrs. Montagu intended to do the same, but laments she cannot

“have anything of a menagerie[306] here, there is no trusting anything out of doors. The town of Newbury is a melancholy example of the decay of trade, there is misery and poverty and lawless necessity in an unhappy abundance. We have robbing upon the commons here very frequently: a poor labourer who has been digging in our garden last week was very oddly preserved from a wound by a Buckler made of Cheese, like Sardella in ‘The Rehearsal.’ The poor man had five shillings in his pocket, when he was stopped by a footpad. He did not care to surrender his wealth, and so resisted; another robber came to his comrade’s assistance, and stuck a knife several inches deep into some cheese and bread he had over his bosom, in a wallet betwixt his coat and waistcoat. We had a highwayman taken by a French dancing master a little while ago. When the dancing master carried him before the Justice of Peace, the Justice asked what day of the month he was robbed? ‘Ah,’ says the dancing master, ‘me can no tell dat,’ but turns to the highwayman, ‘but you do know, I pray tell Monsieur, for you must know what day you did rob, and I pray you now be so civil as tell de gentleman,’ which, as the highwayman denied the fact of the robbery, was as [171]good a blunder as one could desire. The highwayman has since cut his throat, but is likely to recover, only to try the hempen collar.”

[306] Menagerie was the name given to a collection of birds, from rare fowl to pheasants, etc.

Mr. Montagu had started that morning (December 1) for the meeting of Parliament, Mrs. Montagu accompanying him “halfway to Reading.”


A letter of December 3 of Mr. Montagu’s shows the state of politics in the House—

“I have been making what enquiry j could about the state of public affairs, and can learn nothing that is agreeable to one who loves Great Britain, and is more concerned for his country than the fatal E(lecto)r of H(anove)r. For though the ministry have been at variance about some of the treaties mentioned in the Speech and in the Privy Council, they came to Division, where Lord Carteret and his friends were only four, and the opposers, j, amongst whom were Mr. Pelham and Lord Chancellor and others, still matters have since been so far made up amongst them that it is said they all agreed (by the mediation of Lord Orford) in the speech and address, which is reckoned to be Lord Carteret’s, and after a division in our House, the address was carried by a considerable majority, the yeas being 278 against 149 noes. Mr. Pitt exerted himself against the address with his usual eloquence and with great acrimony against a Minister whom j need not name, after j shall tell you that in his invective he said what he meant was not against the Ministry, but against one who was a Minister, and had renounced Great Britain, who had eat of a certain tree that the Poet tells us makes People forget everything, even their country, but he hoped the people would never taste of the fruit of the same tree, nor after his example forget their country.... Mr. Pelham is to be Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sandys Pay Master of the Army. The Duke of Marlborough[307] has resigned.”

[307] He resigned his commission in disgust.



A letter of December 4 of Mrs. Montagu to the duchess makes the following comments on the new edition of Pope’s “Dunciad,”[308] to which he had just added a fourth book:—

“We got Mr. Pope’s new Dunciad printed, but I think it differs little from the old one: the new Hero[309] is certainly worthy to have the precedency over all foolish Poets. I like the last Dunciad for exposing more sorts of follies than the first did, which was merely upon bad poets and bad criticks. I am always glad when I see those fops who have translated their manners and language into French foppery well ridiculed for the absurd metamorphosis, to ridicule wrong placed pride is of great service, for if it was not done this land would be over-run with conceit, for here people are proud of their vices and follies and iniquity, and as long as Pride arises from such Stocks, we shall never want an increase of it. Milton says, ‘Nought profits more than self-esteem right placed,’ and surely it is true of that pride that makes us disdain vice, but that which makes people glory in it is as pernicious. The British vice of gluttony is openly professed so much, one can hardly dine at a fashionable table where eating is not the discourse the whole time, and treated of as an affair of the utmost consequence.”

[308] A satire by Alexander Pope.

[309] Colley Cibber.


In a letter of December 8, after congratulating the duchess on the duke’s recovery from his broken arm, Mrs. Montagu adds this description of the learned Mrs. Pocock;[310] it is interesting, in contrast with that of the lady who insters Greek!—

“I have been petrifying my brain over a most solid and ponderous performance of a woman in this neighbourhood; having always a love to see Phœbus in [173]petticoats, I borrowed a book written by an ancient gentlewoman skilled in Latin, dipped in Greek and absorbed in Hebrew, besides a modern gift of tongues. By this learned person’s instruction was Dr. Pococke[311] (her son) skilled in antique lore while other people are learning to spell monosyllables, but Hebrew being the mother tongue, you know it is no wonder he learnt it. His gingerbread was marked with Greek characters, and his bread and butter instead of glass windows was printed with Arabick, he had a mummy for his jointed baby, and a little pyramid for his playhouse. Mrs. Pocock lives in a village[312] very near us, but has not visited here, so I have not had an opportunity to observe her conversation, but really I believe she is a good woman, though but an indifferent Author. She amuses herself in the country so as to be cheerful and sociable at three score, is always employed either reading, working or walking, and I don’t hear she is pedantic.... She always carries a Greek or Hebrew Bible to Church.... I desire your Grace to make ten thousand apologies for me to Mrs. Delany if it is true I have robbed her of a good name, but I hope you only said this to put me in terrors. I desire my best compliments to her, Dr. Delany, to whom I wish very well, though I have offered the shadow of a great injury in seeming to deprive them of each other.”

[310] Daughter of the Rev. Isaac Milles, Rector of Highclere, a very learned man.

[311] Rev. Dr. Richard Pococke, eminent Orientalist, Bishop of Meath, born 1704, died 1765. Dr. Pococke added the “e” to his name.

[312] Newtown.

This was caused by Mrs. Montagu, in a fit of absence, having addressed a congratulatory letter to Mrs. Delany as Mrs. Pendarves, her former name, which caused much mirth in the Bullstrode circle.

Mr. Montagu writes on December 8—

“We had yesterday a motion of consequence in the House, which was to have an humble address presented to his Majesty to forthwith dismiss the Hanoverians in[174] the British pay, which occasioned a fine debate, and was carried in the negative by a majority of 50, the numbers being 181 against 131. The same is to come on tomorrow before the House of Lords, and Lord Sandwich is to begin, which j doubt not he will do in the best manner.”

Dr. Freind, who, with his wife, was invited to spend Christmas at Sandleford, playfully bids Mrs. Montagu to write him a sermon to preach before the King, as he will have to do in a few weeks.

The year ends with Sarah and Morris Robinson and the Freinds staying at Sandleford.


The first letter of interest in 1744 is one from Mr. Montagu to his wife, written February 23, from London, whither he had returned for the meeting of Parliament.


After alluding to parliamentary debates and elections, and to the failure of the new tax proposed upon sugar, “which was carried in the negative by a majority of 8 only, to the great joy of those concerned in the Sugar Colonies, and the duty is to be raised on the surplusage of the tax which was given upon spirituous liquors[313] last year,” he says—

“The danger of the Pretender, if we may believe our wise and vigilant ministers, is not yet blown over. It is said that a few days ago several French men of war were seen off Rye and that the Pretender’s Eldest Son has been seen walking about publickly at Calais, and is styled Charles the 3rd, his Father having relinquished his rights in his favour; but people seem to be little affected with any apprehensions of danger, and what the designs of the French were, a little time will discover; whatever they shall prove to have been j am heartily sorry for the alarm, and whatever ground or [175]no ground there has been for the rumour of an invasion, j am afraid it will be made use of as a pretence for a further plundering of us, and invasion of our pockets, for j cannot forget what j have heard before j sat in the House, that a member (I think his name was Hungerford) should say the Pretender was the best wooden leg a ministry ever had to beg with, and perhaps the present may have as much inclination to make use of it as ever any of their worthy predecessors had.”

[313] Tax on spirits, passed 1742–3.


On February 25 Mr. Montagu writes—

“Since my last the King has sent another message to the House with some intelligencies concerning the invasion and the French King’s[314] answer to Mr. Thompson,[315] our agent in Paris in relation to the removal of the Pretender’s Son out of France, in pursuance of treaties which in substance is as follows, viz.:—‘That engagements entered into by treaties are not binding any further than those treaties are religiously observed by the contracting parties on all sides. That when the King of England shall have caused satisfaction to be given on the repeated complaints that have been made to him of the infractions of these very treaties of which he now demands the performance, which violations were committed by his orders, his Most Christian Majesty will then explain himself upon the demands now made by Mr. Thompson in the name of his Majesty.’ Besides this there was a long affidavit of a Master of the packet boat read, letting us know that he saw a young man who was called the Chevalier, and said to be the Pretender’s Eldest Son, with another young man, his brother, that there was arrived there Count Saxe,[316] who was to bring over here in transports, 1500 men, together with several particulars too long to be inserted here.... The House addressed his Majesty to augment his forces[176] both by sea and land as much as be necessary, and that they would defray the expense.

“An express arrived yesterday that Sir John Norris[317] with his squadron was in sight of the French fleet, that he stood off Romney, and they were at Dengeness, that he weighed anchor and would endeavour to come up with them, and bring them to an engagement if possible. It was this morning reported he had demolished them, but this wants confirmation, as well as the news of Admiral Matthew’s[318] having beat the Toulon fleet,[319] with which there has been an engagement.”

[314] Louis XV.

[315] The English Resident.

[316] Maurice, Comte de Saxe, born 1696, died 1750. Field-Marshal of France.

[317] Admiral Sir John Norris, died 1749.

[318] Admiral Thomas Matthews, born 1681, died 1751.

[319] On February 9.

Mrs. Montagu and her sister now joined Mr. Montagu in Dover Street, leaving little “Punch” at Sandleford with regret. On the way their coachman, who had met them at Hounslow with their own chaise, ran a race with a coach and four, and overturned them, but they were none the worse; in fact, being upset in a carriage in those days seems to have been little thought of!

A letter of March 4 of Mrs. Robinson from Mount Morris says—

“Sir John Norris is returned into the Downs, and all our fears are over. I heard that the people of Romney and Lydd had their most valuable goods packed up and put in carts ready to drive away, if they saw any occasion: for my part I was very composed, never thinking there would be any occasion to put myself in a stickle.... I am so good a subject to his Majesty that I can’t conceive any people would be so foolish to assist France with setting up a Popish Pretender.”

A letter from the duchess states that she has been reading Lord Bolingbroke’s “Dissertations upon Partys,” and desires Mrs. Montagu’s opinion on them.[177] She laughs at the idea of the invasion, and says, “Cecil, the Pretender’s agent, is taken up, and likewise Carle, and some say Lord Weims,[320] others his second son Charles.”

[320] James, 5th Earl of Wemyss.


In a letter to Mr. Freind, Mrs. Montagu mentions meeting at a drum of Mrs. Mainwaring’s “My cousin Septimus Robinson, dressed as gay as a lover, but whether that was the footing he was upon, I do not know.”

Septimus Robinson was a brother of Mrs. Freind, and, as his name denotes, was the seventh child of William Robinson of Rokeby. He was born in 1710, was educated at Oxford, then entered the army, and served in the ’45, under General Wade. He left the army in 1754; became Governor to the Dukes of Gloucester and Cumberland, brothers of George III., and eventually was made Usher of the Black Rod. He died unmarried in 1765.

In the same letter she states—

“Lestock and Matthews are now examined before the Parliament as to their conduct in the Mediterranean. It is said by some who have read it Thompson’s[321] new play is equal to [322]Otway’s Orphan and Rowe’s[323] Fair Penitent.”

[321] James Thomson, born 1700, died 1748. Poet; author of “The Seasons.”

[322] Thomas Otway, born 1651, died 1685.

[323] Nicholas Rowe, born 1673, died 1718. Poet Laureate.

She adds—

“In the morning all throng to the Senate House, and at night to the playhouse;[324] those who bewail the poverty of the nation in the morning, part with gold for two hours’ entertainment at the Oratorio at night. Those who talk [178]of taxation, did they but see how full of powder, and how empty of thought the heads of the Hydra appear to be, they would fear nothing from so spruce a set of Senators. I think the town was never so gay or so fond of amusements.”

[324] Garrick was acting “King Lear” then.

On March 31, 1744, the Duke of Portland wrote to announce the birth of his second son, Lord Edward,[325] saying—

[325] Lord Edward Charles Bentinck, died 1819.

“I should be wanting in regard to the long friendship which has existed between you and my wife, were I not to give you the earliest notice of your friend: she was safely brought to bed of a boy this morning, at three quarters after 3. She and the child are as well as can be expected.”


The Montagus now returned to Sandleford to visit their child, leaving Sarah in Dover Street to await her father’s arrival from Kent to fetch her. A passage in the following letter throws a light on the vehicles in use at this period:—

“Passing through Hide Park,[326] we saw capering horses with creatures on their backs more whimsical than themselves.... Between London and Kensington were many pert folk in single Horse Chairs, who seemed proud of the government of the humblest machine, saving a wheelbarrow, that ever the art of man contrived: one of these chaises had like to have suffered by contending with his Grace’s coach and six. Towards Uxbridge we met a leathern vehicle called a flying coach, a most intolerable counterfeit, for in fact it merely crawls. We passed two or three travelling waggons laden with many a ton of Humanity, the savour of which would have made the delicate nostril a misanthrope.... Our dear little fellow is all alive and merry, and more grown in length than breadth.”

[326] Sic. Query, was it originally Hide Park?



Dr. Freind, now made a Prebendary of Westminster, in addition to his living at Witney, in this year sent a present of Witney blankets to Mrs. Montagu and a Witney rug to Sarah Robinson. On April 8 Mrs. Montagu writes to thank him, and says—

“Your kind present is significant of the warmth of a friend. I think there is great analogy between friendship and a blanket. We have been here (Sandleford) almost a fortnight, much diverted with the humours of ‘Punch,’ who grows a merry fellow. I like my little comedian so well, I shall be sorry to change him for the great comedians; my little actor has no artifice but hide and seek, nor plays any tricks but innocent Bopeep.

“I hope now Lord Carteret is going to take a young, handsome Lady[327] his politicks will take a milder tone....

“Have you seen Dr. Gregory and his bride? When I saw the Doctor at Mrs. Knight’s, I did not apprehend he designed to be our dear cousin.”

[327] His second wife, Lady Sophie Fermor, daughter of 1st Earl Pomfret; married April 14, 1744.

This is the first mention of Dr. John Gregory, afterwards such an intimate friend of the Montagus. He was the son of Dr. James Gregory, an eminent physician, by his second marriage with Anne Chalmers, and grandson of James Gregory, who invented the Gregorian telescope. His bride, who, judging from the above, must have been a cousin of the Robinsons, was Elizabeth,[328] daughter of William, 13th Baron Forbes, by his wife Dorothy Dale. Lady Forbes lost £20,000 in the South Sea bubble. Dr. John Gregory[329] became a distinguished physician, and an author of note. Frequent mention of him will be made later on.

[328] She had beauty, wit, and a large fortune.

[329] A daughter of his married A. Allison, and was mother of the historian.

[180]In the same letter Mrs. Montagu urges Dr. Freind to write and congratulate the duchess on her second son’s birth. The Freinds had just commenced a friendship with the Portlands.


Mrs. Robinson asks her daughter, who had now returned to London, to buy her a lutestring gown, “but as I have a tabby of a dark brown, I would have my lutestring pretty light.” This gown, from a further letter, appears to have cost 6s. 9d. a yard, and Mrs. Montagu suggests she should buy a French trimming of Mademoiselle for the same, “a slight pretty thing for a guinea.” A capucin Mrs. Robinson had ordered; she says, “I like my capucin much better than that which was shorter, and it is quite good enough for the use one makes of them.” Probably a hood with a deep cape, as in a previous letter the garment is described as “always ugly, but useful.”

Mrs. Robinson says, “I suppose you have had your promised visit from Mrs. Middleton.[330] I believe the doctor would give something to be in the state of widowhood once again; she is queer and ill-tempered, and he heartily tired with it.”

[330] Mrs. Conyers Middleton No. 2.

Mrs. Botham, Mrs. Laurence Sterne’s sister, had been in London, and Mrs. Montagu had written to her mother—

“Mrs. Botham is really quite well behaved, she has not anything of the Hoyden now. I believe she is one of the best wives and best Mothers, and an admirable housewife. I bought a very handsome quarter lace cap for my godson, and presented her with it. Mr. Botham wants to be a King’s Chaplain, and I have offered her my interest with her Grace of Portland, who by means of Bishop Egerton and others could easily get it for him.”


To this her mother[331] replies—

[331] Mrs. Botham was Mrs. Robinson’s niece.

“I am much pleased with the character you give of Mrs. Botham, I always thought her one of good understanding and good temper, and as to her giddiness, I hope it is partly wore off. I should have been pleased to have seen her at Horton, if her time had admitted. She always had a chearful, agreeable disposition. I much fear his being chaplain to his Majesty, if he should succeed, will be no advantage to him, for as I take it, must occasion London journeys, and without good interest he may be no nearer preferment.... I believe his income is but small, and his family increases very fast. I wish they have not a spirit of generosity much superior to it, they keep a good deal of company, and of the expensive kind.”

At a party at the Duchess of Portland’s the bride, Lady Carteret, is thus described by Mrs. Montagu—

“She came in a sack and a night-cap for which she made an apology, and said she had a cold. I suppose she designs to carry her dignity high enough by this, particularity of dress. She is handsome enough, has a good air, a genteel, easy address without any mauvaise honte.”


In a letter of Sarah’s, May 10, thanking her sister for a fan, she reminds her she was then at “Mrs. May in Tooke’s Court, in Cursitor Alley, Chancery Lane.” She also mentions buying a tabby gown, 7s. 3d. a yard, at Wells and Hartley, at the “Naked Boy and Woolpack,” in Ludgate Street. Mrs. Montagu replying, says—

“I am glad you like the fan; there are some worn at present that exceed the flails of a mill. Cotes has one that makes an eclipse of her little person whensoever she pleases to flirt it. I have been buying finery for your [182]nephew, a famous pink satin coat, and two flowered lawn frocks, extremely fine.”


“Punch,” being now turned a year old, was to be weaned, and many were the anxieties and qualms of his mother on that occasion. Her mother wrote wise advice to her on the subject, with her experience of a large family. After this she adds—

“He must be most delightful now he runs and prattles, he will look a little angel in his finery....

“I find you are still a house hunting: as to the house you mention in Grosvenor Square, I think the fault of it cannot be in the goodness of the house or situation, for, as I take it, they are all calculated for large fortunes.

“It gave me great joy to hear my Robert got safe to Bengall. I hope by the end of the summer, we shall have him safe here, and poor ‘Pigg’ with him.”

“Poor Pigg” was a pet-name for Charles Robinson, who suffered from weak eyes, and had accompanied his brother on this voyage for health’s sake.

The weaning of “Punch” was successfully carried out, and we learn from the letters from Mrs. Montagu to her husband, who was still detained in London, that he was fed on “milk porridge, bread and rusks, and drinks milk and water all day.”

A letter of Mr. Montagu’s of June 7 mentions meeting the Duke and Duchess of Portland coming from church at the Banqueting Hall, White Hall, and accompanying them home. Mr. Carter, the faithful steward, and his son Willy, who had just returned from the war wounded, were in town.

“Yesterday I waited on the Duke of Montagu[332] about [183]our young Hero (Wm. Carter), who will get made a lieutenant, which does not give us the same satisfaction as a Captain’s commission would do, but the Duke said they would not do it for him. I am to consult with his agent, Mr. Guerin, about it.”

[332] John, 2nd Duke of Montagu, born 1705, died 1749; married Mary, fourth daughter of Duke of Marlborough.

The regiment was probably the 2nd Horse, which the duke then commanded. The duke was a relation of Mr. Montagu’s, both being descended from a common ancestor.


Writing to Sarah Robinson, Elizabeth says—

“Your nephew continues his manlike behaviour, and scorns to weep over a trifle, he is quite well, and has been dancing in his shirt on a blanket spread on the ground, he dances after a droll manner, for not being very firm on his legs he reels about when he gets out of his common pace, and he flourishes his hands and legs, and is just a little merry drunken Bacchus.”

Mrs. Kennet, the wet-nurse, was about returning to her farmer husband in Kent—

“Mrs. Kennet will soon be restored to her husband. We are to make up her salary to £50. I have given her a good deal of cloaths too, the brown silk night gown, a brown camblet, two short cotton gowns, and I have dyed my purple Tabby blue, and added two yards of new to it, which will make her fine.”


The first mention is made in this letter of Mrs. Dettemere, of whom more anon. This poor woman appears to have been in a good position of life, and well known to the Robinsons, but unhappy circumstances had placed her in great distress. Mrs. Montagu says—

“I have collected 3 guineas for her, and put her on a scheme of working blonde caps. I sold one for her for 7s. 6d. that cost her only 18d.... I am to lend her £5 to lay out in ribbons, and get her customers, and she [184]is to work muslin aprons which I will find the materials for, and when she sells them I am to be repaid.... I wish you would devise a pattern of sprigs for an apron for Mrs. Dettemere to work, I dare not let her have the same as Mrs. Medows’[333] apron, but I think to get one of monkeys and squirrels.”

[333] Mr. Montagu’s sister.

Writing to Mrs. Donnellan on June 7, Mrs. Montagu says—

“The country is now extremely delightful, all nature is in bloom, every being joyous and happy, it seems to me impossible that any citizen of so fair a world should harbour any gloomy care in their breast. It is a vain pretence we make to delicacy and taste, while we prefer a dirty town to the country in the fine Season: all the arts of luxury cannot invent any pleasures equal to what one receives from soft air, moderate sunshine, a gay scene of prospect and the musick of the feather’d songsters. Sir William Temple[334] says his three wishes were, ‘health, peace and fair weather.’ I have often thought that saying not the least wise of many of his admired sentences.”

[334] Sir William Temple, born 1628, died 1699, at Moor Park, Surrey. Patron of Swift and his “Stella.”

Mr. Carter, the faithful north-country agent, was now at Sandleford, and on June 15 Mrs. Montagu writes to her sister, who was staying at Chilston in Kent with the Thomas Bests. Mr. Best had married Caroline, alias “Cally,” Scott, of Scott’s Hall, the intimate friend of both sisters. A most happy marriage it appears to have been—

“Your nephew is really a droll fellow. Mr. Carter is half bewitched with him, at the first salutation ‘Old Trusty’[335] had tears of joy, he cries out ‘Bonnie Bairn, ye are a fine one, weel worth it, weel worth it, I warrant[185] hee’s think of me when I be dead and gone, I’se make all t’improvements I can for him. Thank God he’s have a bonnie estate when all comes in; God send him to live to an ould man: oh my lady he’s brave company. God’s blessing light on him,’ thus he ran on for an hour. The child grew immediately fond of him, cries after him, and will beat away even the nurse, if she takes him away from Mr. Carter.”

[335] A nickname of Mr. Carter’s.


The Duchess of Portland had promised to give a dozen orange trees from Bullstrode to Mrs. Montagu, which she was most anxious to have. These trees were to be sent to the Red Lyon at Slough, where the Newbury carrier was to take them up. They arrived, after the following vicissitudes, safely:—

“The poor waggoner who was to have brought them was unhappily killed some days ago by a loaded waggon falling on him; his servant foolishly left the orange trees because he said he had no room for them, and at 9 o’clock at night they brought us word the orange trees were left at Slough. We immediately sent servants with a cart who travelled almost all night, and brought the trees safe, the next day. They have not received the least damage, they are blooming, full of fragrance,” says Mrs. Montagu in her letter of thanks. She also asks for Mr. Achard to instruct her as to their culture, “whether they should be nailed to the wall, without pruning their heads, and thirdly what size the tubs should be for those that are to be kept in that manner.”

Mr. Achard’s instructions were sent, but alas! are lost.

Mr. Montagu being obliged to go to the North to attend to business of his own, and as trustee to Mr. Rogers, Mrs. Montagu had determined on accompanying him and taking “Punch” and her sister Sarah with them. It was with some difficulty she obtained leave of her parents for her sister’s company, as they[186] considered she had been so much away from them. Sarah was desired not to come in the stage-coach from Horton, but by a post-chaise or chariot at Mrs. Montagu’s expense, and

“ask Matt to lend you his footman to ride by the chaise. You know it will only cost you 3d. a mile more.

“Your nephew has just had his pink sattin coat tryed on, and he was so fond of it, he scolded and fought every one who approached him, lest they should deprive him of his new cloaths. He has just learnt to make a bow with a good grace, and he is very lavish of it.”


Mrs. Donnellan writes from Hampstead, where she has taken lodgings for her health, on July 4, and she describes Admiral Anson’s[336] booty being taken to the bank thus—

“I went yesterday morning to London, I found all my folks gone to see the show of Anson’s wealth carried to the Bank, so I went to my Lord Egmont’s[337] and saw two and thirty dirty waggons pass by, guarded by a number of tanned sailors, but we had the pleasure of knowing or thinking those dirty waggons contained what makes all the pursuits of this world....

“The Duke and Duchess of Portland staid a day longer than they designed to see this Show. The King and all the royal family were spectators. The Tars were very happy and dressed themselves in the Spanyards’ fine cloaths.”

[336] Admiral Lord Anson, born 1697, died 1762.

[337] 1st Earl Egmont, a relation of Mrs. Donnellan’s stepfather.

Commodore Anson had been absent from England three years and nine months. He had intercepted a Spanish treasure ship, Neustra Signora de Cabodonga, loaded with treasure, etc., to the value of £313,100 sterling![338]

[338] Altogether he obtained £500,000.


Mrs. Donnellan continues—

“I have not yet heard from Mrs. Delany from Ireland. They were stopped at Chester by the Dean’s having a return of ague, so you see though a fine preferment may cure, it cannot preserve from future evils. The yacht was ready and they hoped to sail the next morning.”


Lord Carteret had just made Dr. Delany, Dean of Down. Sarah Robinson was to stay in Dover Street a few days to prepare for her northern journey before joining the Montagus at Sandleford, and Mrs. Montagu gives her many commissions—

“Mr. Montagu desires you would be so kind as to buy him a purple tabby for a wastecoat, and a handsome gold lace to trim it; he has got a pretty Coventry stuff coat making up here, and would have a purple tabby wastecoat to wear with it; please to consult Morris[339] both as to the quantity of silk and lace necessary, and also what kind of buttons would be proper.... Get pink sattin enough for a pair of shoes for your nephew, for he wants a pair of shoes for his silk coat: get me coarse canvass for the two little armchairs in the dining room in Dover Street, and buy me shades in purple worsted to do them in Irish stitch in squares, there must be some white Thrum for a stitch in each square. I should be glad if you would buy me a pink French paste cross and earrings, the best you can get at Chenevix.”[340]

After ordering some table linen to be brought,

“six table cloaths, three dozen napkins, two pair of sheets, 4 pair of Pillibers,[341] my gold lutestring gown, and my white sack with the flowers, and a gold handkerchief, my new hoop please pack up. Pack up paper of [188]all sorts and sizes enough for all our use, and also wax, you will find a stationer’s shop in my cabinet of which I sent you the key. Bring a stick of wax for your nephew.”

[339] Her brother, Morris Robinson.

[340] Mrs. Chenevix’s celebrated fancy-shop.

[341] Evidently means pillow-cases.

In a letter to Dr. Freind, Mrs. Montagu says—

“‘Punch’ is a fine fellow, he is greatly improved since you last saw him, he is now an admirable tumbler, I lay him down on a blanket on the ground every morning before he is dressed, and at night when he is stripped, and there he rolls and tumbles about to his great delight.”

Alas! the mother’s joy was turned to grief, for in a few days after, Punch cut his first tooth with great difficulty and severe illness.

They set out on their journey to the North on July 31, when they started viâ Oxford, stopping at the Blue Boar there.


The following letter to the Duchess of Portland was written from Newbold Verdon, Mr. James Montagu’s seat in Leicestershire. He was the elder half-brother of Mr. Montagu by Mr. Charles Montagu’s first wife, Elizabeth Forster, daughter of Sir James William Forster, of Bamborough Castle, Northumberland. Newbold Verdon had been left to Mr. James Montagu by his uncle by marriage, Nathaniel, Baron Crewe of Stene, who married Dorothy Forster.

“Newbold Verdon, August 9, 1744.


“I did not set out on my journey so soon as we proposed; the letter we sent to my brother Montagu having made the tour of England before it reached him, so we waited for an answer. The 31st of July we set out for Oxford, where we spent an agreeable day in seeing new objects and old friends. The good people[189] from Witney[342] were so kind as to come over to see us, and show us what was best worthy our attention. The University, I think, is finer than Cambridge, but does not excel so much as I had imagined. Alma Mater, however, presides in great dignity there. I had hoped to have seen Mr. Potts,[343] but was informed he was at Bullstrode, or I should have sent to have begged the favour of seeing him.

“The mighty Shaw[344] had left the classic ground to take care of his glebe in the country. The first of August we went to Stowe,[345] which is beyond description, it gives the best idea of Paradise that can be; even Milton’s images and descriptions fall short of it, and indeed a Paradise it must be to every mind in a state of innocence. Without the soul’s sunshine every object is dark, but a contented mind must feel the most ‘sober certainty of waking bliss.’ The buildings[346] are indeed in themselves disagreeably crowded, but being dedicated to Patriots, Heroes, Lawgivers and Poets, men of ingenuity and invention, they receive a dignity from the persons to whom they are consecrated. Others that are sacred to imaginary powers, raise pleasing enthusiasm in the mind. What different ideas arise in a walk in Kensington Gardens, or the Mall, where almost every face wears impertinence, the greater part of them unknown, and those whom we are acquainted with, only discover to us that they are idle, foolish, vain and proud. At Stowe you walk amidst Heroes and Deities, powers and persons whom we have been taught to honour, who have embellished the world with arts, or instructed it in Science, defended their country and improved it. The Temples that pleased me most for the design to which they [190]were consecrated, were those to ‘Ancient Virtue,’[347] to ‘Friendship,’[348] and to ‘Liberty.’

“On Saturday last we arrived at my brother Montagu’s, who has made this place one of the most charming and pleasant I ever saw: the gardens are delightful, the park very beautiful, the house neat and agreeable, and everything about it in an elegant taste. My brother has made great improvements. It was a very bad place when Lord Crewe left it to him, and had no ornament but fine wood; now there is water in great beauty, grand avenues from every point, fine young plantations, and in short, everything that can please the eye. But nothing gives me so much pleasure as the obliging and friendly reception of the Master, who has entertained us in a kind and elegant and magnificent manner. The regularity and order of the family, and the happiness that appears in the countenance of every friend and servant, gives one pleasure to observe it....

“I am, Madam,
“Your Grace’s most obedient,
Humble servant,
E. Montagu.”

[342] The Rev. Dr. Freind and wife.

[343] Frequent mention is made of Potts in the letter, but no clue as to who he was.

[344] Dr. Thomas Shaw, divine and antiquary, also conchologist, born 1692, died 1751.

[345] Stowe in Buckinghamshire, the magnificent seat of Viscount Cobham.

[346] Alluding to numerous temples and monuments in the gardens.

[347] In this are the statues of Greek sages, by Scheemackers.

[348] Erected by Lord Cobham for busts of his political friends.


After leaving Newbold Verdon, the Montagus went over Thoresby, the seat of the Duke of Kingston.[349] In a letter to Mrs. Freind from Allerthorpe, where the Montagus had arrived on August 16, Thoresby is thus described—

“A fine place enough, but does not deserve what is said of it; the cascade is not pretty, it is regular and formal. The lake from which it is supplied is fine. The verdure of the park is not good, nor are there fine trees. Our last stage was to York, where we saw [191]the Assembly Room[350] built by Lord Burlington, it is prodigiously grand and beautiful.”

[349] The 2nd Duke of Kingston, called by Sir Horace Walpole “a very weak man, of the greatest beauty, and finest person in England.”

[350] Designed by Richard, 3rd Earl of Burlington, celebrated as an amateur architect. He built Burlington House.


In a letter to the Duchess of Portland of August 19, Mrs. Montagu said her boy had borne the journey well, and was “quite well.” She intended to leave him in Mrs. Carter’s care whilst she accompanied Mr. Montagu to Newcastle, where the air was not healthy, and roads very bad. Alas! a few days after, poor little “Punch,” in cutting another tooth, was taken with convulsion fits and died. The exact date I am unaware of. Lodge, in his “Peerage of Irish Peers,” states he died on August 17, and was buried at Burneston.[351] The date of the day is wrong, as will be perceived by her letter to the duchess. My grandfather simply states he died of convulsion fits, occasioned by teething, no date; but as Mrs. Freind wrote to condole with Mrs. Montagu on September 3, it must have happened soon after her letter to the duchess. As no parents, from their letters, could have adored an infant more than the Montagus, it may be judged what a blow this was to them. Many sweet passages about this child have I suppressed from want of space. He seems to have been of a too precocious nature in mind and body. He was so large he wore shoes big enough for a child of four. He ran alone and talked, and mimicked people’s manners and ways, and was only one year and three months old! “Our little cherub,” “our sweet angel,” as his father constantly writes of him. The noble way in which both his parents supported their anguish will be seen by future extracts from letters. Dr. Freind’s fine letter of condolence to Mrs. Montagu is indorsed at the[192] back, “Letter from Dr. Freind on the unhappy loss of my son,” and is much worn with constant reading. He had lost two children, and was then threatened with the loss of his father,[352] whom he adored. The poor Montagus, much as they desired children, never had any more. I sometimes think that this poignant and irrevocable loss turned Elizabeth Montagu’s thoughts more strongly to literature and knowledge of all kind. She sought to occupy her mind as a solace for grief, but she never forgot her loss, and every now and then the bitterness of it is shown in passages in her letters.

[351] His body was moved to Winchester Cathedral eventually, and is buried with his father and mother there, by her will in October, 1800.

[352] The Rev. Dr. Robert Freind, died August 9, 1751.


The Duchess of Portland writes on September 7, 1744—

My dearest and most amiable of Friends,

“Could I have thought I should have given you a moment’s relief or abated the anguish of your affliction, I should before now have written to you, but I found myself too much affected to be able to say anything to lessen it. Thank God, my dear Friend, your Health is good, my dependence is upon your good understanding and submission to the Divine Will, for no one can have a higher idea of the Deity than I know you have. Everything is in His disposal, our blessings, and our afflictions, and He never chastises us above what we are able to bear. This affliction would have been still more grievous had you been out of the way.[353] You might have thought some neglect had been the cause, which now you are convinced was not in the power of Human Means. There is no misfortune but what God Almighty discovers His mercy in some means or other, even in our most bitter calamities. But why should I tell you this, that know and think so much better than I can do? It is a great comfort to me that you are well, and I hope you will endeavour to keep[193] so. Miss Robinson has been most excessively kind in giving me such frequent accounts of you, for which I shall ever esteem her, and be her most humble, grateful servant.... What would I give to be with you, my dear Friend, that you might pour out your whole heart, and utter all your grief, but it is never in my power to be of any service to those I love. Adieu, God bless and preserve you from any future ill, but that He may heap many blessings on you is the ardent wish of one that entirely loves you with the utmost fidelity and will ever be yours.”

[353] This shows Mrs. Montagu was not away at the time of her child’s death.

Illustration: Margaret Cavendish Harley

Thomas Hudson Pinx. Emery Walker Ph. Sc.

Margaret Cavendish Harley
second Duchess of Portland.


To this letter Mrs. Montagu replied—

“Allerthorpe, September 16, 1744.

“I am much obliged to my dear Friend for her tender concern for me; I would have wrote to you before, but I could not command my thoughts so as to write what might be understood. I am well enough as to health of Body, but God knows the sickness of the soul is far worse. However, as so many good friends interest themselves for me, I am glad I am not ill. I know it is my duty to be resigned and to submit; many far more deserving than I am have been as unfortunate. I hope time will bring me comfort. I will assist it with my best endeavours; it is in affliction like mine that reason ought to exert itself else one should fall beneath the stroke. I apply myself to reading as much as I can, and I find it does me service. Poor Mr. Montagu shows me an example of patience and fortitude, and endeavours to comfort me, though undoubtedly he feels as much sorrow as I can do, for he loved his child as much as ever parent could do. My sister has been of great service to me; and on this, as on all other occasions, a most tender friend. I am much obliged to you for wishing yourself with so unhappy a companion: your conversation would be a cordial to my spirits, but I should be afraid of being otherwise to yours. Adieu, think of me as seldom as you can, and when you do, remember I am patient, [194]and hope that the same Providence that snatched this sweetest blessing from me, may give me others, if not I will endeavour to be content, if I may not be happy. Heaven preserve you and your dear precious Babes; thank God you are far removed from my misfortune, and can hardly fear to be bereft of all.[354]

“I am, ever your Grace’s most affectionate
“E. M.”

[354] The duchess then had five children alive.


Lady Andover wrote from Charlton, Wilts, “by Highworth Bag,” to condole with her friend. In this letter she mentions that her friend, Lydia Botham (Mrs. Laurence Sterne’s sister), had nearly died at the birth of a daughter (Catherine), but was better. Matthew Robinson wrote and implored his sister to accompany her husband to Newcastle. He says, “Books and thought are the food of melancholy, and lovely places, however beautiful, the dwellings of it, but a town entirely strange to you, and new company, would bid fairest to dissipate your thoughts.” He signs himself “Matthew Robinson Morris,” having adopted the latter, the maiden name of his mother, as her heir to the Mount Morris and Monk’s Horton estates. Mrs. Donnellan, writing from Bullstrode on September 24, mentions, “I have brought down a screen to work in snail for the Duchess, and for my retired hours, Carte’s[355] History to read, for Sir Paul Davis, who is a chief actor, was my great-grandfather.”

[355] The Rev. Thomas Carte, born 1686, died 1754. Chaplain to Bishop Atterbury.

No further letters do I possess till October 23, when Mrs. Montagu writes to the duchess and states Mr. Montagu had started riding to London on particular business. He hated wheels, and always preferred riding. Mrs. Montagu and Sarah had been prevailed on to visit Mrs. Yorke at Richmond in his absence.


The great Duchess of Marlborough’s death, which had just occurred on October 18, is commented on thus—

“How are the mighty fallen! Oh vanity of Human things! the Duchess of Marlborough is now not worth a groat, nor does pride glow any longer in old Granville’s heart. The old Countess[356] had reckoned with pleasure the riches Mrs. Spencer[357] was to possess, and no doubt pleased herself with the hopes of seeing it, little imagining Clotho had twisted their line of life together.”

[356] The Countess of Granville, died October 27, 1744.

[357] Hon. John Spencer was grandson of the Duchess of Marlborough, married to the daughter of the Countess of Granville.


Whilst staying with Mrs. Yorke, Mrs. Montagu writes to the duchess—

“Your Grace may not think we have any publick diversions at Richmond. I must assure you we went to a fine Raree Show.[358] An orrery made up some part of it, and gave a dignity to the whole. However it was an emblem of life, the first scene was all gay figures and dogs and Ducks and Horses and Coaches, and every object was new and striking: then came Mademoiselle Catherina with all the airs of a celebrated toast, turned her head about with a measured grace, smiled, curtseyed, and flirted her fan: when everyone had enough of that, we went to study the world. We observed its motion, saw the revolution of a few years, and while we rather admired than understood its movements, were almost weary and yet loath to retire, there was presented the figure of Time mowing us all down, and so we made our Exit.”

[358] A show enclosed in a box.

Mrs. Montagu and Sarah set out on their journey to London, and a letter to the duchess from Northampton, November 17, shows the state of the roads then—

“I am here in a whole skin, thanks to the care of our coachman, and the stuffing of our coach seats, but never [196]was poor mortal so jumbled, jolted and dragged through such roads. I never saw such roads in my life as between Harborough and this place. We were obliged to come a nameless pace that is slower than a walk. Mr. Montagu is to meet us to-morrow, he expected our being at Newport to-night, but we did not get to Northampton till after three o’clock in the afternoon, though we got into the coach at seven in the morning.”

In a letter of November 23 the duchess says, “I have read a sermon of Swift’s upon the Trinity, which I like extremely, and wish you would read it, and give me your opinion of it.”


At Bullstrode at this time were Lady Wallingford and Miss Granville. On the same day Mrs. Robinson writes from Mount Morris and congratulates her daughters on their safe arrival in Dover Street. She mentions the cattle plague then beginning; thus—

“Our epidemical distemper is madness, which, thank God, has not yet reached the human species, but reigns among horses, cows, hoggs, shepp, and doggs; of the latter we have been one out of pocket, but our new tenant has lost a cow, and has a ram uncommonly freakish, which they suppose is going the same way, and J. Smith a hogg or two, and the country people take so little care of their doggs when they are bitt, as is very injurious to their neighbours. Ours was a greyhound, which will prevent Mr. Robinson’s coursing till he recruits his loss with another.”

Poor Mrs. Robinson, only three weeks after this letter, wrote to her daughters to say she had a swelling in her breast, which had formed some ten weeks back, and which she had hitherto concealed, and feared was cancer. She wrote to Dr. Chesilden,[359] the famous surgeon, to tell him, and he desired her to come to town.

[359] Dr. William Chesilden, born 1688, died 1752.



Mrs. Montagu writes on December 17 to the duchess in great distress—

“that it was a cancer, but that not sticking to the ribs, it may be taken out without danger; he (Dr. Chesilden) has behaved to her with great gentleness and care, and has made her very easy. She bears her misfortune with great fortitude, she is neither afraid of death or pain, but says she is contented to suffer what Providence pleases to ordain.... She will not suffer us to be in the house while the operation is performed. They assure us there is no danger of her Life, but it is terrible to think of the pain she must undergo.”

The operation was performed successfully, but must have been shocking to bear, the use of anæsthetics not being then known. The two daughters nursed their mother, and the affectionate Mrs. Donnellan assisted, though herself in great trouble at the ill-health of her stepfather, Mr. Perceval. On Christmas Day, Mrs. Montagu writes a good report to the duchess, whose London porter, Elias, called daily to inquire. In the letter mention is made of “Marshall Belleisle[360] being taken prisoner, as he was going to the King of Prussia. His papers and attendants all seized.”

[360] Duc de Belle-Isle, French Marshal; born 1684, died 1761.

Thus end the letters of 1744.




The first letter of any interest in 1745 is from Mrs. Robinson to Mrs. Montagu, dated May 8. In this she alludes to the death of the second Mrs. Conyers Middleton, née Miss Place, who had died on April 26, in her thirty-eighth year. It appears the marriage had not been a very happy one. Mrs. Robinson remarks—

“The Dean of Canterbury hears the Doctor (Middleton) is going to Ireland with Lord Chesterfield.[361]... I take it for granted, if he goes he is to be an Irish Bishop. It is very strange that no one can be contented with their present state, for though the Doctor is neither great nor rich, he has more than he wants, and can spend his time in such studies as he chuses, and his vacant hours in the company he has been used to, which I think to one between 60 and 70, would be no small consideration.”

[361] The 4th Earl of Chesterfield, born 1694, died 1773. He was just made Viceroy of Ireland.


A letter of July 24 from Mrs. Montagu at Sandleford to the Duchess of Portland gives an interesting account of Donnington Castle, near Newbury—

“One day this week we rode to Chaucer’s Castle,[362] [199]where you will suppose we made some verses no doubt, and when they showed us Chaucer’s well, I desired some Helicon, hoping thereby to write you a more poetical letter, but the place having been, during the last Civil War, besieged, the Muses were frightened away, and forbade this spring to flow, so it is entirely choaked up, and where flourished Laurels and Bays, grows only uncouth thorns and thistles. Where erst the Muses and the Graces played in the best room of the Castle, now stink a few tame partridges: in short, the present owner, having none of the divine enthusiasm of poetry, has turned the Castle to barbarous uses. Above it is a partridge Mew, below a court is kept for paying fines and fees.”

[362] Donnington belonged to Thomas Chaucer, son of the poet, but likely enough the father visited his son there.

Mrs. Montagu had been far from well this spring and summer, with lowness of spirits and nervous fainting attacks. Dr. Mead prescribed riding as a remedy, and finally advised her to take the waters at Tunbridge Wells. Mr. Montagu being obliged to go to the North about his own and Mr. Rogers’ affairs, it was agreed that she should drink the waters whilst he was absent.

Lady Wallingford, who had been paying them a long visit, set out for Bath. Mrs. Montagu left Sandleford, August 18, for London, with Mr. Montagu, and left for Tunbridge Wells on the 20th, Mr. Montagu leaving for the North on August 29.


Writing from Tunbridge Wells to the Duchess of Portland on August 27, Mrs. Montagu says—

“I have great joy in Dr. Young, whom I disturbed in a reverie, and at first he started, then bowed, then fell back into a surprise, then began a speech, relapsed into his astonishment two or three times.... I told him your Grace desired he would write longer letters, to which he cried “Ha!” most emphatically, and I leave you to interpret what it meant. He has made a friendship with one person here, whom I believe you would[200] not imagine to have been made for his bosom friend.... You would not guess that this associate of the Doctor’s was old Cibber![363] Certainly in their religious, moral and civil character there is no relation, but in their Dramatic capacity there is some. But why the Reverend Divine and serious author of the melancholy ‘Night Thoughts’ should desire to appear as a persona dramatis here, I cannot imagine. The waters have raised his spirits to a fine pitch, as your Grace will imagine when I tell you how sublime an answer he made to a very vulgar question. I asked him how long he staid at the Wells? He said ‘as long as my rival staid!’ I was astonished how one who made no pretensions to anything could have a rival, so I asked him for an explanation: he said he would stay as long as the Sun did!”

[363] Colley Cibber, actor and dramatist, born 1671, died 1757.

On August 30, writing to Mr. Montagu, mention is made of Dr. Smith, his friend, being at Tunbridge Wells. Dr. Robert Smith[364] was Master of Trinity, Cambridge, a mathematician and professor of astronomy, and had been tutor to the Duke of Cumberland.

“He sat next me at the Concert last night; why he is so fond of this place, I cannot tell, for it seems not very agreeable to the nature of a Philosopher. This is a life of idleness and dissipation. I spend great part of my day at home, but most people live upon the Publick Walks. I have got up very early and generally read an hour before I go to the Well. The greatest pleasure I have here is riding about to see this wild, rude country. Dr. Young dined with me to-day. Dr. Audley was much pleased with him, and we had a very chearful meal.”

[364] Dr. Robert Smith, born 1681, died 1768.

Mr. Montagu desired much to see some wheatears, birds that abound in the Downs still, and are delicious eating.


“I was sorry the Wheatears could not be got, but the Poulterer disappointed me; however I have now got a couple stuffed, by which you will see their shape and feathers.

“It is now absolutely said the Duchess of Manchester[365] is to marry Mr. Hussey.”[366]

[365] Isabella, daughter of the Duke of Montagu, and widow of 2nd Earl of Manchester.

[366] Mr. Edward Hussey, afterwards Earl of Beaulieu.

Mr. Montagu writes from his brother’s place, Newbold Verdon, where he stayed en route to the North—

“At Dunstable Hill j met Mr. Stanhope with your friend Dr. Courayer, and not far from Northampton my Lady Halifax[367] going to London to lye in, and afterwards my Lord,[368] with whom j had some discourse, and who was so civil as to say he hoped j intended calling on him at Horton. I said j would take some other opportunity of paying my respects. We had yesterday the company of Lord Wentworth[369] and a brother[370] of the great Mr. Lyttelton, who is a Clergyman, at dinner. The former of whom is a very pretty kind of man, and the other will be a Bishop.”

[367] Née Anne Dunk, a great heiress.

[368] George Montagu Dunk, 5th Earl of Halifax.

[369] Edward, 9th Baron Wentworth.

[370] Charles Lyttelton, afterwards Bishop of Carlisle.


Arrived at Derby, Mr. Montagu writes, “The town is finely situated, and the country good about it, but the famous engine[371] for silk weaving being out of order, j am afraid we must go away without seeing it.”

[371] Invented by Mr. John Lombe, one great wheel turning 99,947 smaller wheels!


On September 5 Mr. Montagu writes from Manchester—

“We lay last night at Buxton, which is a mean town, very romantic and surrounded with barren hills, and [202]this morning, after travelling over about ten miles of very hilly country, some of which afforded very delightful prospects, and about 12 miles over a rich, flat country, we came here. This town is in the general, old, but some good houses have been built, and are daily building. The Collegiate Church is very handsome. It is very populous, and contains, as they say, about 70,000 people, and drives a prodigious trade.

“To-morrow we pursue our journey. We propose to lye at Skipton in Craven, which if we do, we shall reach Burton in good time the next day.”

Burton was Mr. Buckley’s[372] home.

[372] With whom the three younger Robinson boys had lived.

We must now return to Mrs. Montagu. Tunbridge Wells agreed with her, her spirits mended, and to the duchess’s inquiries she states—

“I can eat more buttered roll in a morning than a great girl at a boarding school, and more beef at dinner than a yeoman of the Guards; I sleep well, and am indeed in perfect health, and the waters have done me much service.”


With Dr. Young’s company she was delighted, and she rode with him often. One ride she describes thus—

“I have been in the vapours these two days, on account of Dr. Young’s leaving us: he was so good as to let me have his company very often, and we used to ride and walk and take sweet counsel together. A few days before he went away, he carried Mrs. Rolt[373] and myself to Tunbridge,[374] five miles from hence, where we were to see some fine ruins.... First rode the Doctor on a tall steed, decently caparizoned in grey; next ambled Mrs. Rolt on a hackney horse lean as the famed Rosinante, but in shape much resembling Sancho’s ass; then followed your humble servant on a milk white[203] Palfrey, whose reverence for the human kind induced him to be governed by a creature not half as strong and I fear scarce thrice as wise as himself. The two figures that brought up the rear, the first was my servant valiantly armed with two uncharged pistols, whose holsters were covered with two civil harmless monsters, that signified the valour and courtesy of our ancestors. The last was the Doctor’s man, whose uncombed hair so resembled the mane of the horse he rode on, one could not help imagining they were of him.... On his head was a velvet cap much resembling a black saucepan, and on his side hung a little basket. Thus did we ride, or rather jog on to Tunbridge town. To tell you how the dogs barked at us, the children squalled, and the men and women stared at us, would take too much time.... At last we arrived at the ‘King’s Head’: the loyalty of the Doctor induced him to alight.... We took this progress to see the ruins of an old Castle; but first our Divine would visit the Churchyard, where we read that folks were born and died, the natural, moral, and physical history of Mankind. In the Churchyard grazed the Parson’s Steed, whose back was worn bare with carrying a pillion Seat for the comely, fat personage, this ecclesiastic’s wife. Though the creature eat daily part of the parish, he was most miserably lean. Tired of dead and living bones, Mrs. Rolt and I jumped over a stile into the Parson’s field, and from thence, allured by the sight of golden Pippins, we made an attempt to break into the holy man’s orchard. He came most courteously to us and invited us to his apple-trees; to show our moderation we each of us gathered two mellow codlings....

“The good parson offered to show us the inside of his Church, but made some apology for his undress, which was a truly canonical dishabille. He had on a grey striped calamanco night gown, a wig that once was white, but by the influence of an uncertain climate turned to a pale orange, a brown hat, encompassed by a black hatband, a band somewhat dirty that decently [204]retired under his chin, a pair of grey stockings well mended with blue worsted, strong symbol of the conjugal care and affection of his wife, who had mended his hose with the very worsted she bought for her own.... When we had seen the Church, the parson invited us to take some refreshment, but Dr. Young thought we had before trespassed on the good man’s time, so desired to be excused, else we should, no doubt, have been welcomed to the house by Madam in her muslin pinners and sarsenet hood, who would have given some Mead and a piece of a cake that she made in the Whitsun holidays for her cousins.”

[373] Mrs. Rolt, a friend of Dr. Conyers Middleton.

[374] Tunbridge and Tunbridge Wells are separate towns.


Mrs. Montagu goes on to say they invited the divine to join them at dinner, which he refused, but appeared afterwards with a large tobacco-horn, with Queen Anne’s head upon it, peeping from his pocket.

“After dinner we walked to the old Castle,[375] which was built by Richard de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, in William Rufus’ days. It has been a most magnificent building, the situation is extremely beautiful: the Castle made a kind of half moon down to the river, and where the river does not defend it, it is guarded by a large moat. The towers at the great Gate are covered with fine venerable ivy. It was late in the evening before we got home, but the silver Cynthia held up her lamp in the heavens, and cast such a light on the earth, as showed its beauties in a soft and gentle light. The night silenced all but our Divine Doctor, who sometimes uttered things fit to be spoken in a Season when all Nature seems to be hushed and hearkening. I followed gathering wisdom as I went, till I found by my horse’s stumbling that I was in a bad road, and that the blind was leading the blind: so I placed my servant between the Doctor and myself, which he not perceiving, went on in a most philosophical strain to the great [205]amazement of my poor clown of a servant, who not being brought up to any pitch of enthusiasm, nor making answer to any of the fine things he heard, the Doctor wondering I was dumb, and grieving I was so stupid, looked round, declared his surprise, and desired the man to trot on before.”

[375] William Rufus gave Tonbridge to Richard FitzGilbert, ancestor of the Earls of Clare, surnamed “De Benefacta.”


Not till a letter of Mr. Montagu’s of September 17, from Allerthorpe, is a word said of the rising in Scotland. This passage occurs—

“The affair of the Pretender has made a noise beyond what j at first imagined it would. If it is as formidable as some would have us believe it to be, j hope by the care and vigilance of those at the helm, it will be soon crushed. We are hitherto in this country very quiet, and j hope we shall keep so.”

The next letter of September 22 says—

“I intended being at Newcastle next Tuesday, but what has happened since has made that impossible, for on Tuesday there is to be a meeting of the gentlemen at York, at which Mr. Carter and j are to be there.

“The rebels have certainly entered the city of Edinburgh,[376] as j suppose by the treachery of some there, but as the town of Newcastle has taken proper precautions and that there are at that town 1700 men, besides 1200 at Durham, and j hope with Cope are computed 3000, and it is said that the Dutch transports have been seen off the coasts, j hope there is no doubt this rebellion will be crushed. I hope, however, you will be under as little concern as possible, for j will run myself into no unnecessary danger, but behave as j hope you, if you were upon the spot, would approve.”

[376] They entered Edinburgh on September 16.


This letter frightened Mrs. Montagu much. She immediately wrote to propose joining Mr. Montagu,[206] and despatched a messenger to London to ask advice from a person likely to know about the affair. This person was Mr. George Lewis Scott,[377] eldest son of George Scott, of Bristo in Scotland, by Marion Stewart, daughter of Sir James Stewart, Lord Advocate of Scotland. He was a great friend of George I., and had his names given to him by the Princess Sophia,[378] who was his godmother. He was a most able mathematician, which formed a tie between himself and Mr. Montagu. He was a tall, big man, very sociable and facetious, an accomplished musician. In 1750 he was Sub-Preceptor to George III., and in 1756 Commissioner of Excise. I give a portion of his letter in reply; his handwriting is beautiful—

“Hearing of an express said to arrive last night, I went out in search of news, but find nothing material since the account of the unhappy battle,[379] or rather infamous flight, of Saturday last. We have as yet no authentic detail of the action. The common opinion is, that the King’s forces both horse and foot behaved scandalously. Inclosed I send you a list of some officers killed and wounded in this affair. We do not yet know what is become of the rest, excepting that the greatest part of the Dragoons were safe at Berwick with Sir John Cope.[380] The Captain Stewart of the Earl of Loudoun’s Regiment mentioned among the slain was an acquaintance of Mr. Montagu’s, and a great friend of Mr. Spencer’s. There are two Captains killed and regretted of Guise’s Regiment, the same corps in which my brother has a company. By good fortune he was not there, being just returned from Flanders, and this Day upon the Establishment as engineer, and ordered to[207] attend Marshal Wade. We may once more call the east wind a Protestant wind. Had the English and Dutch forces, amounting to 12,000 men, been kept off by contrary winds, God only knows what the consequences of the loss of this, in itself trifling, skirmish might have been. As it is the Stocks have fallen considerably. There has been a run upon the Bank, who have paid silver to gain time, and have been much blamed for so doing. But on the other hand, just reasons are alledged for their conduct. They say they had certain knowledge that those who began the run were disaffected persons, who, if they had been paid in gold, might with much greater facility have transmitted supplies to Scotland, than when paid in silver. However this may be, it is certain that some of the most considerable Bankers and Merchants have agreed to support the Bank on this occasion. I am still hopeful, notwithstanding all the bad rumours we hear, that the old English spirit, though confessedly sunk in deep slumbers for many years, may yet awake. Can anything be more ridiculous and more joyful to the French, more terrible and more shameful to ourselves, to see a Nation which might raise 500,000 men, a nation worth twice 500 millions of property, frightened and disordered by 5000 Highland ruffians not worth £5000, if they, their wives and children, servants, goods and chattels, were to be sold in the market? In the days of Oliver six times that number were near Dunbar dispersed by 10,000 English like chaff before the wind. But perhaps, as Voltaire says, ‘Les anglois d’aujourd’huy ne resemblent aux anglois de Cromwell, non plus que les Monsignori de Rome ne resemblent aux Scipions et aux Catons.’”

[377] George Lewis Scott, born 1708, died 1780.

[378] Daughter of George I., married Frederick William, King of Prussia.

[379] Battle of Preston Pans, fought on September 20.

[380] Commander-in-Chief for Scotland.


The last account we have of the rebels is that

“they are returned to Edinburgh, and it is supposed they will be audacious enough to call a Parliament of that Nation, and dissolve the Union. This I think good news, as it will give time for the panic, with which too[208] many are seized, to dissipate. It will also give the well affected in the Northern counties time to arm, and for the King’s forces to assemble. Mr. Wade’s army is to be 10 or 12,000 strong. The Rendezvous it’s said, is to be at Nottingham. I wish the Duke[381] were sent for to command. He behaved incomparably well in Flanders, avoided no danger, no fatigue, was an example of regularity and discipline, and what is more considerable, of justice in rewarding merit. More troops are said to be ordered over. This is certainly a right step, but the consequences on the other side of the water, be what they will.... We have a report that the Castle of Edinburgh must soon surrender for want of provisions. What an unpardonable neglect! If this should be so, the consequences would be very bad, as it would furnish the rebels with considerable quantities of cash, plate, arms, powder, and artillery. What will happen, I know not, but if I were Governor, I could soon fetch up provisions from the city by bombs and red-hot balls.”

[381] The Duke of Cumberland, born 1721, died 1768; second son of George II.

Mr. Scott concludes his letter by saying he hopes Mr. Montagu will be in London for the meeting of Parliament on October 17. He also adds—

“I could wish you further from the Sea-side than Mount Morris, though Mr. Vernon[382] is the most vigilant of commanders. I have been assured that as soon as the news of his being appointed was known in France, the price of insurance was raised.”

[382] Admiral Vernon, born 1684, died 1757.

He concludes with messages to Sarah Robinson, who was with her sister, and who was destined to become his wife.

Illustration: Lady Lechmere

Emery Walker Ph. Sc.

Lady Lechmere née Howard


The next letter from Mr. Montagu from Allerthorpe, dated September 27, is thus—[209]

My Dearest,

“Since my last letter to you by Sunday’s Post, we had our meeting at York on Tuesday the 24th, where there was the greatest Meeting of peoples of all Ranks and degrees that j believe was ever known upon any occasion. Of the nobility there was present the Lord Carlisle,[383] the Lord Malton,[384] Lord Lonsdale,[385] Lord Falconbridge,[386] Lord Fitzwilliam,[387] and perhaps some others who may have escaped my notice, together with Sir Conyers D’Arcy,[388] Mr. Turner, Member for the County, Mr. Fox and Mr. Wentworth, members for the City of York, and all the gentlemen of the County, together with the clergy. There was the utmost unanimity and spirit imaginable, and after a meeting at the Castle, where the Archbishop made a handsome speech on the occasion, an association was entered into with an address to the King, and subscription made of near £20,000, and which when the whole of the collection shall be made, will j believe amount to much more. With this money there are to be raised several Companys of foot, consisting of 50 men each, and they will be officered by gentlemen who will serve without any pay, among whom is my friend, Sir R. Graham, but it will be some time before these companys can be raised, and made usefull, which would not have been otherwise, if the Militia had been kept up and exercised as the law directs instead of being ridiculed and rendered contemptible these last fifty years for purposes j need not tell you. I wish this misfortune would for the future learn us more prudence, and make us settle the Militia which is the only constitutional force, and agreeable to our liberty, upon a better footing than it has of late been, but j know too much of mankind ever to hope to see it in this country. This rebellion has made a most rapid and surprising progress. Edinburgh was taken before it was believed there was almost any such thing. The disbelief, however, of the people was [210]no excuse for the M(inistr)y, whose measures have been the cause of it, for not crushing it at the beginning. The conduct of our General Cope is much censured for suffering himself to be surprised by the enemy, who in a short time overcame, and j wish Wentworth who is sent may have better success than he had at Carthagena. Mr. Ridley, the Mayor of Newcastle, has taken all proper precautions to secure the town, and if we are rightly informed, has, with the promise of £10,000, gained all the Keel men, who are computed at 15,000 men. The county of Durham has raised the Militia and General Oglethorpe[389] is at York raising a regiment of gentlemen volunteers. About 15,000 Dutch are j believe got to Berwick, and j hope we shall soon have the regiments amounting to upwards of 6000, which are lately landed in the Thames from Holland, by means of all which force j flatter myself a speedy end will be put to this unhappy affair, and peace restored to our Island....

“I desire you will not let yourself be concerned more than you ought at these unhappy times, nor imagine us here in greater danger than we really are, for if the enemy should be for coming this length, we should have notice enough of it, and as we are at present unprovided with force, must take to flight to save ourselves. I am in very good health and spirits, and run no hazards but what others as deserving and better than j do run, and hope your good sense and greatness of mind will preserve you from being more concerned than other people are, or you ought to be. I desire you will add to all the other testimonys of your love and affection to me, what j now ask, which at all events will make me easy. I will take all opportunities of writing to you, and am, with my compliments to dear Miss Salley,

“My dearest Angel,
“Your most affectionate Husband,
Edw. Montagu.

“P.S.—I subscribed a £100.”

[383] 7th Earl of Carlisle.

[384] 6th Baron of Malton.

[385] 3rd Viscount Lonsdale.

[386] Should be Viscount Fauconberg.

[387] 1st Earl Fitzwilliam.

[388] Afterwards 6th Earl of Holdernesse.

[389] James Edward Oglethorpe, born 1698, died 1785; 1733 founded Georgia, which he named after George II.


[211]The next letter from Mr. Montagu is written from Allerthorpe, on September 29, after having received his wife’s earnest appeal to be allowed to join him. This sentence shows his affection for her—

“You have ever been my Pride, j have loved and honoured you with the tenderest affection, and will continue to do so as long as j live, but j now adore you for the greatness of mind, joyned with the utmost regard shewn to me in a letter which might have well become a Roman Lady. The happiest days that j ever past in my life, have been with you, and j hope Heaven, after these storms shall be blown over, will grant me the long enjoyment of your charming society, which I prefer above everything upon Earth....

“I cannot consent to the danger you might run by coming to me, however glad j might be to have you with me, but must desire you and conjure you without any further difficulty or hesitation to go to your Father’s in Kent, where you will be amongst those who best love you, and are most capable to defend you, till j can come to you there myself....

“The defeat of Cope is a very great misfortune. Everybody censures the conduct of the General, as well as the behaviour of the soldiers. We have since the battle heard no more but that the Rebels are encamped at Preston Pans, near where the battle was fought.”


On September 30, from London, George Lewis Scott writes to Mrs. Montagu, still at Tunbridge Wells—

“Since my last I have seen two Officers, who were in the engagement of Saturday sen’night, and I have had a pretty distinct account of our dispositions, so that I could send you a plan of that affair.... It seems agreed both by these officers and by the General’s letter that our men were seized with a panic at the rapid motion of the Highlanders, so that their officers attempted to rally them in vain. The military Chest and all the baggage [212]was taken, what the loss of men is cannot yet be known. I find Captain Stewart is not killed, but only taken Prisoner. Our civil panic here begins to subside a little. General Wade’s[390] Army will probably be near Doncaster by this day sen’night, so that we hope Yorkshire will be protected.... We are in no apprehensions for Berwick or Newcastle: nor is the Castle of Edinburgh in danger for want of provisions. Besides the ordinary Stores, the Governor swept all the Markets in town, the day the Rebels left it to meet General Cope. The Provost, I hear, is in the Castle, so that I hope he will be able to wipe off the aspersions so liberally thrown upon him. There is no certain news of the further motions or schemes of the Rebels. To-day I was told they intended to march for Northumberland, and expected to be there increased 10,000 men besides £100,000 in money. I give no great credit to my author’s intelligence, he is of a suspected family and speaks as he wishes. This is all I have been able to pick up for you, and I hope your fears begin to subside a little. But if I endeavour to diminish them for the North I shall now on the contrary try to increase them on the South. I mean as to your going to Mount Morris. I saw a Sussex gentleman yesterday, who tells me they are frequently alarmed by Privateers on their coast, and what should hinder a few desperadoes from landing in the night and doing as they pleased on the coast.... I own it would give me a vast satisfaction to see you and Miss Robinson in Dover Street again.”

[390] Field-Marshal George Wade, died 1748, ætat 75.

On October 1 Mr. Montagu writes from Allerthorpe—

My dearest Love,

“Since my last to you, we have heard nothing of the advancing of the Rebels, who, we have advice, are not above 5000, and most of them very shabby fellows. A Spy has been taken at Newcastle, said to belong to[213] the Duke of Perth,[391] on whom was found a letter concealed in his glove. The contents are not yet made publick, no more than those of the letters found also on another person at the same place. The former has cut his throat, but is not dead. We are very quiet in these parts. The Captains are raising their men, and General Oglethorpe is getting together a flying Squadron of Volunteers, amongst whom are Mr. Tanfield of Calthorpe, and Dr. Chambers of Ripon. Captain Twycross is Lieutenant to Sir Reginald.

“I hear the Dukes of Bedford and Devonshire and others are set out for their respective counties to raise men to assist in suppressing this rebellion.”

[391] 3rd titular Duke of Perth, born 1720, died 1746.

He ends by entreating her to go at once to Horton, as Mount Morris was more generally called in the family, and that till the country was safe, she would not blame his staying north as long as he could be of any service.


This letter hastened Mrs. Montagu’s and Sarah’s departure from Tunbridge Wells. Writing to the Duchess of Portland on the eve of starting, she asks her if she has

“received a fan with Dr. Young’s picture in his riding accoutrements. I have taken the liberty to send you some Tunbridge ware, which in your magnificence you will despise, but I desire it may be sent to your Dairy, and there humbler thoughts will possess you, and churns of butter, prints, and skimming dishes will appear of consequence. I have sent you baskets for your goodyship to put your eggs in, also for feeding your poultry.”


On October 5 George Lewis Scott wrote to Mrs. Montagu, then at Mount Morris, a long letter, a portion of which I copy. His handwriting, though small, was clear and exceedingly elegant. He chaffs her and Miss Robinson at taking refuge near the sea, and says, “If[214] I were Captain of a Privateer, and had 50 stout fellows to second me, I would carry you and your whole family off in spite of the unconquered county of Kent.”... After this he suggests

“a vidette, a Sentinel on Horseback at a proper distance from the house, who may gallop home and give you timely allarm, your horses should be ready saddled.... The Army under Marshal Wade is not to rendezvous at Worcester till the 12th instant. If the Highlanders have begun their march as it is supposed, and that their Chiefs get their men to cross the borders, (no easy task, because of the prevailing tradition among them that none ever get back again), they may be in Yorkshire as soon as our Army. I am sorry that county is not better prepared, but alas! it is not easy to be prepared in a country rendered so artificially unwarlike as England. What signify all the speeches of the Orators, or rather of our ignorant, perhaps knavish babblers in Parliament against the Army? What has been the consequence of their insisting so often, contrary to common experience and common sense, that our Navy was a sufficient security. They only misled honest gentlemen. Their frothy words will not restore tranquillity, and public credit, nor repel the Highlanders. The Roman orators were also warriors, even Cicero was, I believe, a better General than most of ours, who have not forgot the Art of War, as Miss Robinson suggests: they never learnt it.

À propos of Generals, the following lines were made and repeated by a lady while asleep; her husband set them down, and astonished her with them in the morning; she remembered nothing of the matter:—

“‘Say what reward shall be decreed
For deeds like those of Sir John Cope?
Reason and rhyme have both agreed
His ribbon should be made a rope.’

“You say, Madam, you have wasted, not spent your time at Tunbridge. Your health restored, and your reflections show me the contrary....”


Mr. Montagu now proposed returning from the North, thinking matters were on a better footing, and intended fetching his wife from Mount Morris, but Parliament being summoned, was forced to remain in Dover Street. Mrs. Montagu proposed joining him from Kent on October 27. In a letter to him on the 25th, she states, “The smugglers here are all patriots it seems, which is very fortunate, for they assemble in formidable numbers.”

Mrs. Robinson being threatened with a renewal of cancer in her breast, was persuaded to accompany Mrs. Montagu to London for advice. In a letter to the Duchess of Portland at this period Mrs. Montagu states—

“The learned faculty have given us better hopes of my Mother’s case than I could have expected. They say it is not yet cancerous, and that it may be many years before it hurts her. Your Grace was excessively good in sending me the receipts which I have sent her, and also the Walnut medicine.”

The “Walnut medicine,” from; a letter of the duchess, appears to have been made of the lining of the nuts.


In a letter to Sarah of November 8 Mrs. Montagu jokes about Mr. Scott being in love with Sarah, but his appetite being little diminished by it, as he had just eaten most of a chine of mutton and two large apple dumplings. He seems from other letters to have possessed a large appetite! She then adds—

“I think it is time to tell you all the news I have heard about the Rebels, God knows it is not very good: 5000 Irish Brigadiers from Dunkirk are embarked in order to land in Scotland to assist the Rebels. [216]Ligonier[392] is sent for, Marshal Wade, who thinks he has forces enow, and the Dukes of Bedford,[393] Richmond,[394] Rutland,[395] and some others march in person to him immediately.... The Pretender is at Kelso on the borders of England. The Dutch troops are not to be depended upon, and ours are very drunken and licentious. The Parliament has not done anything remarkable for some days. On Thursday they had the Pretender’s declarations read, and after a Conference with the Lords ordered the Declaration to be burnt by the hands of the common Hangman.”

[392] John, Earl of Ligonier, born 1678, died 1770. Field-Marshal, distinguished in Marlborough’s campaigns.

[393] 4th Duke, born 1710, died 1771.

[394] 7th Duke, born 1701, died 1750.

[395] 3rd Duke, born 1696, died 1779.


Amongst Mr. Montagu’s papers endorsed by him “a letter of Mr. Stanley’s to the Duke of M,” meaning John,[396] 2nd Duke of Montagu, his relation, is the following:—

“Boughton,[397] November 17, 1745.

My Lord,

“I received your Grace’s commands by express yesterday morning by six o’clock. I immediately wrote a letter to old Mr. Squire and his son, and expected an answer last night, but to my surprise John Goodwin came in without one, they being both in Huntingdonshire, and I expect every minute an answer which was promised by Mr. Squire. Mr. George Robinson I waited upon, and he expressed great satisfaction at your Grace’s kind favour of being made Captain Lieutenant in your Grace’s own troop of Horse, and returns your Grace his most dutiful thanks for the same. Your Grace is pleased to mention that the new rais’d Regiment will soon march northwards, at which both[217] regiments have expressed much uneasiness: the men say they had no need to leave their houses and families to go for soldiery, that they and their forefathers have lived quietly and happily under your Grace and your forefathers as tenants for hundreds of years, that they would never have engaged to the Wars with anybody but your Grace, when they listed it was only to go along with your Grace to fight for you, and that they would go with nobody else. The Northamptonshire men are in the same story, they say if they had wanted to quit their professions to be soldiers they might have had five pounds a man to list in the Guards, or four pounds a man to list in a marching regiment, but they chose to list with your Grace for nothing, out of regard for you, and to go with you and fight for you, and nobody else. I believe one reason which made the people more uneasy is, that at the time they were raising, it was maliciously insinuated amongst them that your Grace’s name was only made use of to get them to list, and that they would be draughted and turned over to other Colonels, which made many backward in listing, and many of them are still apprehensive of being serv’d so, and declare if they are, they will sooner venture being shot for deserters than serve, and it has cost us much pains and many good words and a great deal of coaxing to bring them into temper; and we have told them that in fighting in defence of their King and country, wherever your Grace shall order them is the true way of serving your Grace, and that they may be assured they will not be draughted and turned over to other Colonels, and they seem now to be pretty easy for the present, and I believe, will march chearfully and willingly enough, when and wherever your Grace shall please to order them. Give me leave, my dear Lord Duke, once more to offer myself and fifty men, quite volunteers, to bear our own expenses, to wait on your Grace, if you must expose your person to danger, wherever you shall please to command us, and cloath ourselves in what manner you like best, and[218] shall think ourselves happy in hazarding our lives for the preservation of yours, who are so dear a Father to your Country.

“It being half an hour after 11 o’clock, I dare not stay any longer for Mr. Squire’s answer. I dare venture to say young Mr. Squire would be very glad to accept the Favour of your Grace’s convey of Horse. I have heard him say to that effect. I take the freedom to inclose a letter or two in this packet, and am,

“My Lord,
“Your Grace’s most humble,
and Dutiful Servant to command,
D. Stanley.”

[396] John Montagu, 2nd Duke, born 1689, died 1749.

[397] Boughton, the duke’s property near Kettering in Northamptonshire.

The Duke of Montagu[398] raised three regiments, two of foot and one of horse. The command of one regiment he gave to his relation John, 4th Earl of Sandwich.

[398] The duke was Master of the Wardrobe, and Grandmaster of the Order of the Bath.


A letter of Mrs. Montagu’s to the Duchess of Portland, dated November 19, says—


“Carlisle is surrendered to the rebels, who, I hear, behave civilly, and not as conquerors.... Ligonier is still ill; the Dukes of Richmond and Bedford are set out. Lord Sandwich is aide-de-camp to the Duke of Richmond. I pity poor Lady Sandwich, she endeavours to bear up, but certainly she is in an uneasy situation; I saw her on Sunday, and she is to dine here to-morrow.... I suppose you know Sir Francis Dashwood is upon the brink of matrimony. I see him sometimes with his intended bride, Lady Ellis; he is really very good company.”

This was the celebrated Sir Francis Dashwood,[399] afterwards Lord Le Despencer, the leader of the infamous Hell Fire Club of the sham Franciscan monks[219] at Medmenham Abbey. Mention is made in this letter of the murrain amongst the cattle, which raged to such a degree that people forbore to eat beef or veal, or drink milk. A passage in a letter of November 26 to the Rev. W. Freind, who was then at Bath, reads—

“The Duke of Cumberland set out yesterday, as did the Duke of Bedford and Lord Sandwich: the Duke of Montagu gave his Lordship one of his regiments. Almost all of our nobility are gone to the Army, so that many of the great families are in tears. Let it be said for the honour of our sex, there are no drums, no operas, and plays are unfrequented.”

[399] He married Lady Ellis, December 19, 1745.

Sarah Robinson, writing from Mount Morris, states that they were in great fear of an invasion of the French. It filled her with unspeakable terror, as well as the servants; but she says—

“My Father, you are to understand, is not at all concerned, he is not at all afraid of an invasion, nor don’t think there is the least probability of it, but for all that he has ordered everything to be packed up that can be packed.” She adds, “I don’t know that the French will invade us, but I am sure crossness has, and my Father is just miserably out of sorts, so it’s a pity but he should stay in the house, he would presently scold the French away.”


The Montagus had now left London for Sandleford, and Mr. George L. Scott writes the following letter to Mr. Montagu:—

“London, December 12, 1745.

Dear Sir,

“I did not expect so sudden an occasion of writing to you. You need not, however, expect very important news, it being only to inform you that henceforward you may shine in the dignity of F.R.S., you were elected this evening, and may be admitted when[220] you return to town. We had a very hot alarm this morning, of a descent of the French in Sussex. It was grounded upon a letter of a gentleman of distinction in your county; the Secretary of the Customs roused Mr. Pelham with the news at three, but a more certain and contradictory account came by eight, with us the report subsisted till two, and then vanished. Thus far, they say, may be depended on, that Dunkirk Harbour is filled with Ships. If the French can get a footing in Kent, it will be their fault if they do not do us inconceivable damages by destroying our docks, and raising heavy contributions. Were it not for some individuals, and innocent persons who would suffer on such an occasion, I should not grieve in the least to see some others pay the penalty of their infatuation or dastardly spirit. I only wish the King’s forces might be strong enough to take the booty from the French, and divide it among themselves; this would be no loss to the nation, and only transfer property from the fools or cowards to the brave. I say the same of the Northern counties, through which the Rebels have passed. They have behaved infamously. Sullivan, who was in Corsica with Marshal Maillebois,[400] has now felt the difference between modern Englishmen and Corsicans, much to the honour of the latter. These poor people, undisciplined and unarmed, almost with any thing but the spirit of liberty, baffled two veteran armies. Here a country more extensive than Corsica, better peopled, richer, and either well armed, or such as might have been so if they pleased, and with-all well furnished with plenty of horses, has tamely suffered itself to be overrun by a pack of foot banditti, two-thirds of which, by the best accounts, are scarce men, pudet hæc opprobria!

“Our accounts from Scotland are but melancholy. The Rebels lay what contributions they please. Some Clans, they say, have taken arms, not with any intention[221] to assist either side, but only to plunder. It is now at last agreed upon to bring over the Hessians. What a shame that we should want them! and what a shame that since any man might see we did want them, they were not brought over sooner. I say the same of the remainder of our country. Our administration puts me in mind of the rustic mentioned by Demosthenes, who coming into a fencing school, never foresaw a blow, but as soon as he was pushed, he would then clap his hand to the place, and so shift it after another blow, being thus always too late.

“Our law regiment received his Majesty’s thanks much about the time you left this on Tuesday, with an intimation that the rebels being retired, he was unwilling to put us to any further trouble or expense. The frustrating this scheme is placed to the account of the mean jealousy of a certain great man. His family, I hear, on the other hand complain that he should be reproached on this head, when he was totally ignorant of the whole affair, and his being at all mentioned in it, was entirely owing to the indiscretion and impertinent zeal of some silly young fellows, who might fancy to obtain his favour by their conduct on this occasion, but what he totally disapproves of. What the truth of the matter is I know not, but I have my own suspicions, which possibly I may find an opportunity to verify. If they prove true, all I can say is I would not have some men’s souls for their estates.

“My best respects to Mrs. Montagu. I hope she finds the country answer her expectations, as to health and every other respect.

“I am, dear Sir,
“Your most obedient, humble servant,
Geo. L. Scott.

“10 o’clock—

“The rebels set out from Manchester Northward, Tuesday last. They have murdered and plundered many. The Duke is in pursuit.

“The Provost of Edʳ is to be sent to the Tower.”

[400] Jean Des Marets Maillebois, born 1682, died 1762. French Marshal, conquered Corsica in 1739.



In a letter of Mrs. Montagu’s to the Duchess of Portland at this period, she says—

“Count St. Germain[401] was seized some days ago; it is said he had many jewels to a great value, and letters were found directing him how to manage the Papists in case the Pretender should approach and in what manner they were to use it. Sir R. Brown[402] offered to bail St. Germain. A transport Ship that was bringing officers over to the Rebels is taken. The old Pretender had sent his abdication of his crown, and orders to Charles to publish the manifestoes in his own name. The Lawyers offered to form themselves into a regiment to guard the Royal family, but Lord Chief Justice Willes’[403] friends insisted on his being Colonel, which has discouraged the affair.”

[401] Comte De Saint Germain, born 1707, died 1778. French General.

[402] Probably Lieut.-General George Brown.

[403] John Willes, born 1685, died 1761.


Meanwhile the fears of a French invasion increased in the southern counties, as will be seen by this letter of Mrs. Robinson’s to Mrs. Montagu—

“December 15, 1745.

My Dear,

“Before you receive this you will have heard from Sally that she this day sett forward for Cantʸ, in order to proceed for London to-morrow morning: indeed the frequent alarms we have had for this last week has been too much for her spirits, and I pressed her to go, for she was not able to make herself easy in staying, and yet, poor girl, she went with great heaviness, though she had a mind to it, and Mr. Robinson, though he thought the fright more than necessary, was very easy with it. Yesterday he had a certain account from Dover that Admiral Vernon sent yᵐ an express last Tuesday, yt he had reason to believe yt ye French design’d landing a great force (it was said 200,000, though yt, I think, [223]must be a mistake) at Dover, or on the Kentish coast, and ordered them to keep themselves in readiness to oppose them: 400 men keep watch at nights, and ye inhabitants keep all their best effects packed up to send away at ye first approach of danger. These things much magnified, and told in many different shapes, are sufficient to alarm most people that live where we do, for should any army land on ye coast of Kent, I am told Romney[404] is the most convenient place, as there is a fine flat to land on, and no opposition can be made, as we are destitute of forces, and the people entirely unarmed and frightened out of their wits: we are in the worst situation of any gentleman’s house in the county in such a case, for they must pass within two or three fields[405] of ye house, if not through the yard, and you know we stand very visible, yt in such case, which God forbid, we must be great sufferers, they wou’d certainly spoil what they cou’d not carry away, and probably set fire to the house. But as to our selves, I don’t doubt but we are as safe as the rest of the Nation, for we have given orders for an express to come away if any landing appears in ye Marsh, and should set out in an hour’s time, whereas an army would be some days in landing. Nor am I in any fright, no do I believe they dare attempt any such thing, but that ye transports that lay manᵉᵈ at Dunkirk are designed to land some forces in Scotland, of wcʰ two was taken, and broᵗ into Deal yesterday, bound for Montrose, and I think Suffolk would be a better place yⁿ ye Kentish coast, and less guarded: but I will tell you what I have done by way of precaution. I have packed up all ye lining, plate and Clothes yt cou’d be spared from constant use, and all writings, and they are ready loaded in the waggon, and secured tennants’ horses to carry them off. As to furniture, it may take its fate, as I cou’d neither put it up properly, nor get carriages to carry it off on ye sudden, and it wou’d be great expence, and great damage to do it to no[224] purpose. Pray don’t be in any fright for us, for you may be sure we shall take care of ourselves so far as not to be caught, and that is all anybody can do. I shall be greatly concern’d shou’d such a thing happen, for our own misfortune and those of everybody’s else, for ye whole nation must be sufferers, though some may feel it in a more particular manner than others, as they wou’d be more in ye way of these people. I am much at ease yt Sally is gone, as a sudden alarm might have affected her so as to have highten’d my fright, wʰ wou’d have been more for her than for myself. There is orders come to ye Deputy Lieutenants to raise ye Militia, we hear yt the Dutch Ships with Admiral Vernon sail’d this afternoon northwards, by which we hope ye fears of this part grow less, or he wou’d not lessen his forces.

“I think the wind will never be fair for poor Robert.[406] Sure they are not still off Galway....

“Mr. Robinson joins with me in our best compliments to Mr. Montagu, and love to yourself,

“I am, my dear,
“Yours most affectionately,
E. R.

“P.S.—I was surprised you prevailed with yourself to leave London, as it is thought the safest place.”

[404] Romney Marsh, close by Mount Morris.

[405] By the ancient road called Stone Street.

[406] Her two sons, Robert and Charles, returning from the East Indies.

Sarah Robinson had taken refuge with her friend, Mrs. Cotes, in Charles Street. In a letter to the duchess of December 16, Mrs. Montagu says, “I hear the Rebels made great havoc at Levens, which has greatly established the Countess’ loyalty to the Hanover succession.”


Levens Hall, in Westmorland, was the beautiful seat of the 4th Earl of Berkshire, brought him by his wife, Catherine Grahame. They were the parents of William Lord Andover, whose wife was the intimate friend of Mrs. Botham.



A passage in a letter to the Rev. William Freind concerning a footman indicates the manners and wages of that time. Mrs. Montagu says—

“Pray is the young man who you once proposed to me for a servant at liberty now? For my footman thinks my wages not equal to his parts and merits. The servant I part with, is very honest, but I cannot bring him to deliver his sincerity in such delicate terms as are necessary in a message. He told a lady of quality who inquired after my health, that I was pure stout, and if I am in good spirits he tells people I am brave, that he is likely to establish me as a character of violence.... If your youth can carry a message, keep himself sober and clean, and stay at home, when he is not sent abroad, they are all the qualifications I desire. He is to have livery, and frock every year, and six pounds wages the first year, the second seven. He is to put out his washing.”

Greater threatenings than ever of an invasion arose at the end of December. Mr. and Mrs. Montagu implored her parents to take refuge in their house in Dover Street. Mrs. Robinson, on December 25, says—

My Dear,

“I return you and Mr. Montagu my sincere thanks for the kind offer of your house, and should I be obliged to run away of the sudden, I shall certainly make use of it till I can get lodgings.

“Last night a drunken fellow went through Hanford, and told yᵐ yt ye French was landing in the Marsh, wh. was presently believed, and 500 men was ready to march from thence this morning, when they found it to be a lie. It is a pitty ye country is quite without arms, for the people show great alacrity to defend themselves. Your Father has gone to dine with Mr. Brockman,[407] and as he is not returned, the coast was certainly clear when he went over the hill.”

[407] At Beachborough.



Mr. Robinson had armed a number of his tenants, and appointed John Cullen, the gamekeeper, as Master of the Ordnance. This amused Mrs. Montagu, as in a letter to Mrs. Robinson she says—

“I fancy John has little notion of a gun without a dog, and though a mighty hunter, his prey not being man, he would probably run away, or take to covert. I once saw my Father arm our Militia to take up Jarvis, the Highwayman, and I own I thought the warrant the only arms they durst use against the offender.”

In the same letter she comments on the prevailing expectation that the Pretender would arrive at some particular place. “They expected the Pretender at Newbury three weeks ago. I had a mind to have asked them if he loved eels, for really I don’t know any other seduction he would have to have called on them....”

Lady Oxford wrote one morning to the Duchess of Portland that “it was said the Rebels would be at Welbeck by one o’clock, but did not leave her house, which I think was very wrong, but she is always composed.”

This is the last letter of 1745.




The first letter of 1746 is dated January 1 to the Duchess of Portland at Bullstrode.

The Montagus remained quietly at Sandleford till Parliament met.


At the end of April, or commencement of May, Mrs. Montagu lost her excellent and amiable mother from a return of her former illness. I have no letters till the following one, undated, in reply for a letter of condolence of Mrs. Freind’s:—

Dear Madam,

“The tender hand of a friend does all in the power of human art to heal the wounds given by affliction. That you love me, and interest yourself for me, must on all occasions give me comfort. It is not consistent with duty or prudence to be ever considering one’s loss with those circumstances of tenderness that make one unable to bear up against it, so I will say as little as possible of the dear, tender parent, and endeavour to recollect her only as a most excellent woman, and try to become good by her example. She concluded with an heroic constancy the most virtuous life. From her prosperity she drew arguments of resignation and patience, and expressed the greatest thankfulness that Providence had lent her so many blessings without[228] repining that they were to be taken away. How few are they that do not grow proud and stubborn by that indulgence which made her humble and resigned! She had spent her life in doing those just, right things that bring peace at the last; and after living so many years in the world, left it with the greatest innocence of soul and integrity of heart I ever knew. How much superior is this to the forced and immeritorious innocence of a sequestered Cloister; for after having bent to all the duties of human life, she had not contracted any of the vices or bad affections of it; nor had she the least tincture of the secret faults of malice or envy which often lurk about the hearts of those who are esteemed persons of unblameable conduct. Through every action of her life she deserved to be loved and esteemed, and in her death almost to be adored, for in that scene she appeared almost more than human. But this subject is too affecting, nor can I think of my final separation from such a friend with the resignation I ought.

“I beg you would think favourably of a journey to Sandleford: you cannot imagine the pleasure it would give me to see you there. We are still roasting in this dusty town, but hope a very few days will carry us into the country.

“I am, dear Mrs. Freind’s
“Most affectionate cousin,
and sincere friend,
Eliz. Montagu.”

The only other letter on this subject is from Mrs. Lydia Botham, Mrs. Laurence Sterne’s sister, a portion of which I give. The handwritings of the two sisters[408] were much alike—

“Yoxall, May 25, 1746.

My dear Cousin,

“If your knowing how sensible I am of your loss of my dear Aunt, and how deeply I share in your[229] affliction, could afford you any relief, I should endeavour to lay open a most sorrowful Heart to you, tho’ I could send you but a faint copy of it, for my grief, like yours, is at present too big for utterance. I can offer nothing for your consolation, but what I’m sure your own thoughts will have suggested to you; that the Dear, the Valuable Parent you have lost has lived to enjoy the Greatest Blessing a parent can have, the seeing her children brought up in health and prosperity; that she who acted so strictly up to her duty in every capacity here is only removed from the Happiness she reap’d in her Family, to receive the further and infinitely greater Reward of her well-doing; that since the Giver of Life saw fit to finish hers by so painful a Distemper, it is some comfort that her Misery was of no longer duration.

“From these considerations I am persuaded you will find all the consolation that such an affliction can admit of. Your letter is dated the 5th, but it did not reach me till the last post, and had the Dublin postmark on it. I had received the melancholy news from Lady Suffolk, but could not write to you immediately upon your misfortune. The news of my poor Aunt’s Death is a heavy addition to such a load of sorrow as I was before nearly ready to sink under. My eldest girl has lately discovered some tendency to my asthmatical Disorder; the Thought that she received this from me, and that the rest of my dear Babes stand the same unhappy chance, is such an affliction to me....

“I mourn with my Uncle, but shall forbear writing to him for fear of adding to his concern.”

[408] Mr. Botham was Vicar of Yoxall, Staffordshire.

By the will of his maternal grandfather, Thomas Morris, the estates of Mount Morris and East Horton, Kent, now passed to Matthew Robinson, Mrs. Montagu’s eldest brother. His father, Mr. Robinson, who had always disliked country life, now made London his headquarters. In a letter of June 22, to the Duchess of Portland, Mrs. Montagu says—


“We shall stay in London about a week getting a plan for finishing a house which we are to have in a street near Berkeley Square, in a street not yet much built; it will be better to stay a year for the finishing than to take what one does not like.”

This was the house in Hill Street, in which she lived many years.


At this period Lord Andover presented the Rev. John Botham to the living of Albury in Surrey. Mrs. Botham and Mrs. Sterne had, as we learn from a letter of Mrs. Montagu’s, been brought up in great luxury, with a constant succession of company, whilst their father, the Rev. Robert Lumley, was alive. Reduced to poverty by his death, they both married men of small fortune, therefore one is not surprised that Lydia Botham, unaccustomed to small means, and, in spite of her delicacy, extremely fond of society, soon incurred debt and embarrassment with a growing family and small income.

Lady Andover, who was her constant and best friend, writes on June 26 to Mrs. Montagu to explain the excessive melancholy of Lydia, who was proceeding that week to Albury. She says—

“The blame they lay upon themselves for having lived beyond their circumstances and the sense of having injured their children, of whom they are most tender, is a reflection sufficient to bring a person of Lydia’s sense and goodness to the dejected state she is in. I that love and value her most sincerely, and who have largely shared in the best she was ever possest of, bear a great share in her sufferings....”


She then goes on to talk of how she and the Duchess of Portland wished to get more preferment for Mr. Botham.


“I have not seen Harry Legge[409] for a great while, but I know he has a very sincere regard for Lydia, and should hope it was in his power to do them some good, but then Alas! poor Johnny is such a Johnny that there arises all the difficulty of getting them any preferment. Lydia also is so blind to all his defects that the least disrespectful thought of Johnny would make her more than ever miserable.” She continues to say, “Any exchange from Staffordshire must be advantageous to them, for there, as they unfortunately began with entering into all the expenses that attend a great neighbourhood, they could never have lived in the way they intend doing and may do here.... This place is but a mile from them, and I don’t despair of making a very beaten path between us by constant use.”

[409] Harry Legge, second son of the Earl of Dartmouth, was Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of Exchequer; a first cousin of Lady Andover’s.

Mrs. Montagu hastened to Albury, and, from a letter of Lady Andover’s, appears to have not only given good advice for the future, but helped their purse. Harry Legge also paid them a visit, endeavoured to persuade them they could live on £300 a year, gave good advice, but made no promise for the future. Lady Andover says, “He gave them frugal good advice, but no hints or promises to make the discourse be relished; he went away yesterday morning, and I am persuaded when it is in his power he will remember them.” At the end of the letter she says—

“I am quite of your mind concerning Lord Tullibardine,[410] full of wonder that he should chuze to sneak out of life much more like a rebell than resolutely suffering publick execution. I hear of great interest making for tickets to see the executions,[411] and fear humanity is at a very low ebb.”

[410] William Murray, Marquis of Tullibardine; died July 9, 1746.

[411] The Earl of Kilmarnock and Lord Balmerino.



Mrs. Montagu was much distressed by the poor boy employed in her garden at Sandleford having accidentally fallen into a pond there and been drowned, an account of which she writes to the duchess on August 7. In this letter she begs the duchess to send the “Little Père,” as he was fondly called (Dr. Courayer), to stay with her, from Bullstrode, where he had been domiciled some time. At the same time she asks for two peacocks, “After asking for Dr. Courayer to beg your two peacocks, are there in Nature things that differ like this Philosopher and the bird of noise, vanity, and ostentation?” The peacocks were to console a white pea-hen at Sandleford for the loss of her mate, a white peacock, which, together with a quantity of poultry, had been stolen by the bargemen of Newbury. The Montagus sent a party of armed servants to inspect the barges, but only feathers and eggs were discovered. The peacocks were duly conveyed by waggon to the “Windmill,” Slough, whence the Newbury waggoner, Sandy, conveyed them to Sandleford. The duchess, in writing about them, adds, “Lord Cromartie is pardoned; the King sent for my Lady to acquaint him with it. Was not that doing it in the most tender, compassionate manner?”

Mrs. Donnellan was at this time at Tunbridge, at Lord Percival’s house, and Mrs. Montagu jokingly confided her father, Mr. Robinson, who was there, to her care. On August 5 Mrs. Donnellan writes to say of Mr. Robinson, “I can assure you he is in very good widower’s spirits.” She adds, “He has lent me his chariot daily to carry me home at night to Lord Percival’s.” Mrs. Donnellan waited at Tunbridge till the death of her friend, Sir Robert Sutton,[412] which was[233] daily expected; when it took place she accompanied his widow, Lady Sunderland,[413] and his daughter, Miss Sutton, to London.

[412] The Right Hon. Sir Robert Sutton, of Broughton, Lincolnshire.

[413] Wife of Sir Robert Sutton; had been third wife to 4th Earl of Sunderland.


Mrs. Botham, having an alarming attack of asthma which caused her six sleepless nights, Mrs. Montagu writes to recommend her Valerian tea, made from the roots. Evidently “Lydia” was not a notable housekeeper, as she also instructs her in the art of keeping a weekly account book, and entering in it every item of expense. The duchess was anxious for the Montagus to go to Bullstrode, but the visit was deferred, as the three younger Robinsons were spending their holidays at Sandleford, and the captain and Morris Robinson expected Mr. and Mrs. Freind there as well. Poor old Mr. Carter, the steward, was just dead of fever, which, it was thought, he caught when on agent’s work at Newcastle, where fever had been rife amongst the unhappy prisoners of the ’45 confined there. He was a great loss to Mr. Montagu, who was contemplating a journey north to place his affairs in young Mr. Edward Carter’s[414] hands. Dr. Conyers Middleton, in a letter from Bath, of September 21, proposes setting out at Michaelmas “with young Frederick” for Sandleford for a few days. Mr. Montagu, accompanied by Mr. Carter, had set out on their northern journey, staying at Newbold Verdon with Mr. James Montagu en route, arriving at Theakstone by October 7.

[414] He was agent to Lord Aylesbury.

On October 12, from Theakstone, Mr. Montagu writes to his wife—

“Mr. Carter has now dispatched what business he had to do for Lord Aylesbury at his courts, and is now at liberty, and on Tuesday morning we design to set[234] out for New Castle. Eryholme we shall take in our way....

“I have now with me Mr. Buckley and Mr. Emerson;[415] amidst all these avocations j have found time to study and profit by the Hurworth Philosopher as much as j proposed, and shall not when j return from Newcastle, have occasion to delay my journey for any further instruction from him. I am glad Dr. Middleton is going to publish, and the rather because you approve of what he has done. It is a fine subject,[416] and none is capable of doing it more justice than he can. I wonder the young Lord Hervey[417] should refuse to deliver up the Doctor’s letters, for it would have been a great loss to the learned world if he could not have retrieved the matter of them as he has done.”

[415] William Emerson, eminent mathematician; author of “Doctrine of Fluxions,” etc.

[416] An account of the Roman Senate. He allowed Mrs. Montagu to read the manuscript.

[417] George William, Baron Hervey, 2nd Earl of Bristol.


On October 19, from Newcastle, Mr. Montagu writes—

My Dearest,

“Yesterday Mr. Carter and j rid out and view’d Mr. Rogers’ estate of Denton lying upon the river west of this town, a fine tract of land with a fine colliery belonging to it. After we came in Bp. Benson of Gloucester, who had been doing duty for the Bishop of Durham, being at our inn, desir’d the Drawer to present his compliments, and would be glad to see me.... He is a very polite man.... This morning Mr. Bowes[418] came and made me a visit, invited me to Gibside, and proffered me any assistance he could give me. I promised to pay my respects to him and dine with him when j was prepar’d to talk with him about those affairs in which he and Mr. Rogers are concern’d in partnership.... Mr. Rogers’ affairs consist of a great [235]many concerns, particularly in collieries, lying at a great distance from each other, and as they have been neglected, great encroachments have been made which require some pains to detect.”

[418] Mr. George Bowes, owner of Gibside Park, Streatlam Castle, and Hilton Castle, Durham.


Early in November Mrs. Montagu visited London to take leave of her two sailor brothers, who were going to China. On the 10th she was to visit Bullstrode. In writing to the duchess on the 2nd she says—

“I am very glad Lady Wallingford has not left Bullstrode, extreamly rejoiced Mrs. Delany is come there, infinitely happy Lady Primrose[419] remains there, and for Mr. Freind I propose much happiness in seeing him.”

[419] Née Anne Drelincourt, wife of 3rd Viscount Primrose. Lord Rosebery says she once sheltered the Pretender.

On November 24, writing to Mr. Montagu, his wife says—

“I wish my brother Morris had done Lord Lovat’s[420] trial; I have great desire to see the Solicitor-General’s speech. As to Sir W. Young and Lord Cooke’s, I heard them perfect, and shall perhaps hardly think them worth further regard and attention. I lost a great deal of Secretary Murray’s speech, which, as it combined an account of the first overtures of the rebellion, I think matter of curiosity.”

[420] He was beheaded April 9, 1747.

The curious remedies of the period are shown in a letter of Mrs. Botham, of November 25, where she says she has been taking Elixir of Vitriol for her asthma, and is now going to try Tar Water, then supposed to be a universal medicine. She adds that the Glebelands, sixty acres in extent at Albury, had been let for £17 a year for thirty years, but as no one bid “Johnny” more, he was now farming it himself, as it provides our family with “grain, fowls, bacon, milk, butter and eggs.”


In the next letter from Bullstrode, to Mr. Robinson, his daughter says—

“Mrs. Delany tells me Mr. Granville thinks himself very happy in passing some of his hours with you. She says she has great ambition to please you as you are an artist and a connoisseur. She is now copying a portrait of Sacharissa from Vandyck, and I believe it will please you very well.... The Duchess is in better spirits than ever I knew her; time has added accomplishments to her young family, her gardens are much improved, her house is new furnished.”


The last letter of the year to the duchess mentions—

“I hear there is going to be published a new comedy by Dr. Hoadley[421] and a tragedy by Mr. Thomson. I have no great expectations of the comedy, for Dr. Hoadley is a sober physician, and must be a kind of comedian malgré lui. As to Mr. Thomson,[422] we know the pitch of his muse, and with what dignity his buskins tread the Stage.” She winds up with “best respects to the huge ‘Godfather of all Shell-fish,’ who, tho’ not so frisky I presume, as nimble as his Seabrother the Leviathan, or his Hornie palfrey the Seahorse, or his lapdog the Porpoise.”

[421] Benjamin Hoadley, born 1706, died 1757. Physician to George II.; wrote “The Suspicious Husband.”

[422]Tancred and Sigismund.”

This alludes to Dr. Shaw, the traveller, a constant visitor at Bullstrode, and a connoisseur in shells,[423] which the duchess took great delight in collecting.

[423] Vide the Catalogue of the Portland Museum of 1786, in which are hundreds of rare shells.


An undated letter of Mrs. Montagu’s to the Duchess of Portland of 1747 in my collection, alluding to her visit at Bullstrode, is probably the first of that year. She says—


“I am this instant from the play, where I have been extremely entertained with that most comick of all personages, Sir John Falstaffe; as to Hotspur, he was in a very violent passion in the first act, and I think it is a part not equal to the genius of Garrick.”

Garrick and Quin were this season taking alternate parts. Quin was then playing Falstaffe.

A letter of Mr. Robinson’s of April 25 describes him giving a Drum in London, “4 card tables and others who did not play, and they were all a Kentish Set.... Dr. and Mrs. Middleton are in town, but they talk of going in a fortnight. I will tell you what I think of her when I see you.” This was Dr. Conyers Middleton’s third wife, Anne Powell, whom he had just married, but the exact date I am uncertain of.


Two curious letters to Mr. Montagu from his eccentric young cousin, Edward Wortley Montagu, occur next. He was the only son of Mr. Montagu’s first cousin, Edward Wortley Montagu, whose father, Sidney Montagu, was the second son of the great Earl of Sandwich. Sidney Montagu married Anne, daughter and heiress of Sir Francis Wortley, and assumed the name of Wortley. By her he had one son, Edward Wortley Montagu, who married Lady Mary Pierpoint, daughter of Evelyn, Duke of Kingston; they had two children, Edward, born in 1713, and Mary, born 1718, who married John, Earl of Bute. To give young Wortley Montagu’s eccentric life here would take too much space, but the reader will find an epitome of it at the end of this work. In 1745, he was in the Army through the influence of his relation, the Duke of Montagu, had been through the campaign, and was present at the Battle of Fontenoy. He became a prisoner of war, but was shortly before the date of the first letter exchanged, and, coming to England, was[238] given, by the Earl of Chesterfield,[424] a commission to carry a packet of important papers to his relation, Lord Sandwich,[425] being informed of the contents of them in case he was waylaid and robbed. Mr. Montagu had always acted a kind part towards his young cousin, and frequently interceded for him with his father, old Wortley Montagu, in his endless escapades, which were enough to try any parent’s heart.

[424] Philip Dormer Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield, celebrated politician and author; then Secretary of State.

[425] Then Minister Plenipotentiary to the States General.


As the letters are of interminable length, I only quote portions of them. In the first, from Harwich, April 22, becalmed en route for the Army, he begs Mr. Edward Montagu to recommend him to the Duke of Montagu as messenger to the Court of Prussia, whither he heard a despatch was to be sent. He alludes to his father having visited Lord Chesterfield to ask about him, as they were not on speaking terms then, though his father was at the same time anxious he should enter Parliament. The second letter is from Ter Goes, May 15, 1747 (N.S.)—

“We sailed from Harwich with the wind contrary, and were two pacquets in company. We were attacked by a privateer of 16 guns and got clear of him after a combat of between four and five hours. As soon as I arrived at Helvoet, I went immediately to the Hague, staid one day there, and then went on to H.R.H.[426] with a pacquet from Lord Sandwich; the moment the Duke saw me he told me I was released, and ordered me to take post and join my regiment. The moment I got to the regiment, I found it retreating from the French, having lost between two and three hundred men and about 10 officers killed or wounded; our Major is among the former. When we got to the seaside we did not[239] find vessels enough to embark us all, so our regiment, as the eldest, embarked the last, but when all Braggs’ and most of the Highlanders were got off, we and the remainder of them were attacked by a body of 1200. They were so well received that they quitted us, after having lost three officers and about twenty-seven men. We lost only one officer and a very few men. Billanders came just then, and we got off very luckily, for had we staid ten minutes longer we should all have been killed or taken, for we were scarce on board when we saw a considerable body march to the ground we had been on....”

[426] The Duke of Cumberland.

Edward Wortley Montagu’s handwriting was excessively neat; his signature, with peculiar flourishes to the “Edward,” is unmistakable when once known.

A dissolution and general election of Parliament took place in June, and Mr. Montagu hastened to Huntingdon for re-election, leaving Mrs. Montagu packing up and removing furniture, etc., from Dover Street to their new house in Hill Street, which was being finished and decorated.


In a letter of June 18, from Huntingdon, Mr. Montagu says—

“Yesterday was a day of more business, for we walked the town, where we met with very uncommon success, having met with one negative only. Mr. Wortley[427] the elder came from Peterborough to give us his assistance.... He seems very well pleased with what my Lord has done for his son,[428] and will, j dare say, bring about a perfect reconciliation, tho’ as yet they have not seen one another, nor will till they perhaps may both be in London.

“The day for my election is not yet fixed.... I may, if time should allow, ride over to Cambridge to congratulate Dr. Middleton on his marriage.”

[427] Old Wortley Montagu.

[428] Edward Wortley Montagu.



Lord Sandwich gave Mr. Montagu £500 towards his election expenses. Young Wortley Montagu was trying for Parliament at the same time, and was returned, and Matthew Robinson was seeking election for Canterbury.

On June 23 Mrs. Montagu writes her last letter from Dover Street to her husband: “I am now on the point of leaving this town and my disfurnished house.... Please to send to the Crown Inn for a box, in which I have sent your frock with the gold loops. My brother does not meet with any opposition.”

The Hill Street house being still unfinished, Mrs. Montagu went to Sandleford, accompanied by Mrs. Donnellan, previously securing a room for her husband in town, “my Father’s lodgings at Mrs. Cranwell’s in Shepheard Street, near Red Lion Square.”

On June 30 Mr. Montagu writes—

“My Dearest, it is with great pleasure that j can tell you our election is well over. Everything passed yesterday in the manner one could wish, and there was little of that riot and madness which is the constant concomitant of things of this nature. Captain John Montagu, who represented Mr. Courteney, is yet here on account of a ball which we are this night to have in the Assembly Rooms. My cousin[429] gives great satisfaction in the county. I think his nature to be good as well as his parts, and hope he will be an ornament to his family. I am sure he is very grateful to me. I have invited him to Sandleford.... My Lord Sandwich is entire master both of this town and county. He has so riveted his interest, that j believe nobody will venture to oppose as long as he lives. He is really a very great young man, with great talents, and many amiable qualities.”

[429] Young Edward Wortley Montagu.

On July 8 Mr. Montagu writes from London, having[241] changed his lodging to “Mrs. Barrows at the Golden Fleece” in New Bond Street. He says—

“I left Huntingdon on Fryday in the afternoon, and got to Cambridge between seven and eight in the evening, walked about the Colleges, and then sent for Mr. Branson to enquire about the Canterbury Election. The next morning at eight, j waited on Dr. Middleton and breakfasted and din’d with him and his wife. The Doctor receiv’d me in a very agreeable and friendly manner, ask’d me why j did not the night before take up my lodging with him, press’d my longer stay. He has married a very agreeable, good-natur’d woman, her person is extreamly good, in her prime, must have been very handsome. She seems to have very good sense and a great deal of good nature. She went along with the Doctor and j, and spent an hour or two seeing Dr. Woodward’s Fossils,[430] and afterwards she entertain’d us playing on the Harpsichord, in which she is a considerable proficient; in short, the Doctor seems to have consulted his happiness in what he has done, and j congratulated him upon it in the handsomest manner j could.”

[430] John Woodward, born 1665, died 1728. Geologist; founded a chair of geology at Cambridge.


Dr. Courayer had now joined the Sandleford party.

“Dr. Pococke[431] and his family dined here yesterday. After dinner we all went to see the Vieux Hermite, who received us at the gate in a manner rather smiling Eastern courtesy and ceremony than rural simplicity; he bow’d to the ground several times, led me in, then accosted the little Père by the title of the Courayer.... Standen asked Mary classical questions, of Dr. Pococke particularly whether he had been on the plains of Pharsalia and of Marathon, and if he had passed the Straits of Thermopylæ. He was overjoyed to hear the Temple[242] of Theseus was entire. Dr. Pococke is a faithful relater of what he has seen, but does not embellish his narrations with any imagination of fancy.”

[431] Rev. Dr. Pococke, born 1704, died 1765. Bishop of Ossory and Meath; author of “Descriptions of the East,” etc.


Writing to the duchess on July 6, Mrs. Montagu says—

“A few days ago I carried Mrs. Donnellan and the little Père to see Mr. Sloper’s gardens[432] and house at a time when I was assured he was absent on his election, but seeing a man ride up the avenue at the same time, I took it into my head it might be Mr. Sloper, so I did not alight immediately. The housekeeper came to me and asked if I would walk in; I said I should be glad to see the house if Mr. Cibber was not at home; the housekeeper looked aghast, as if she had spoilt a custard or broke a jelly glass; I coloured, Mrs. Donnellan tittered, Dr. Courayer sputtered, half French, half English, and began to search for the case of a spying glass I had dropt in my fright. As my organs of speech rather than of sight, seemed defective, I was little interested for my perspective, but sat in the coach making melancholy reflections on my mistake. Mrs. Donnellan could not compose her countenance, so that we were near a quarter of an hour before we got out of the coach; and after so long a pause I walked into the house, greatly abashed.”

[432] Mr. Sloper lived at West Woodhay House, near Newbury, built by Inigo Jones.

To understand this joke it must be explained that Mrs. Theophilus Cibber,[433] the celebrated actress, was the mistress of Mr. Sloper. She had been forced into marriage with Theophilus Cibber,[434] son of “old Cibber,” the celebrated actor, and her husband, who was a worthless man, had connived at the connection. In a previous[243] letter of Mrs. Montagu’s, of 1744, mention is made of a house at West Woodhay furnished by Mr. Sloper for Mrs. Cibber “entirely in white satin.” A further passage says—


“I believe I could shake your spleen with a description of Dr. Courayer’s figure—when he arrived here from Oxford through a whole day’s rain; but let it suffice that he shone with drops of water like the Diamond ficoides. How his beaver was slouched, his coloured handkerchief twisted, and his small boots stuck to his small legs; how the rain had uncurled his wig, the spleen dejected his countenance, the cramp spoiled his gait! not being much accustomed to riding he was so fatigued and benumbed he could scarce walk, that for so good a Christian he appeared surprizingly like Un Diable boiteux. Mrs. Donnellan and I could not help laughing; with the vivacity of his nation, he fell in with the mirth and helped on the raillery his figure provoked.”

Mr. Montagu was detained in London by much legal business. He tells his wife her father, Mr. Robinson, carries him to Ranelagh. She retorts, “I am very glad my Father carries you to Ranelagh, but tell him I desire he would not make you a coquette, a character I think him a little inclined for.”

[433] Anna Maria Cibber, née Arne, celebrated actress, born 1714, died 1766.

[434] Theophilus Cibber, son of Colley Cibber, actor and dramatist, died 1757.

On July 18 mention is made of Lord Sandwich embarking for the seat of war.

The next letter, July 23, to Mr. Montagu, from young Edward Wortley Montagu, who had been returned Knight of the Shire of Huntingdon, described an election ball. “Our ball last Monday was very brilliant. We had a very elegant supper for near 200 people, and finished by dancing till 6 in the morning.” He mentions “my friend untieing his purse strings with the greatest reluctance, and was very peevish to see so many people at Supper, which he thinks very unwholesome.” This[244] is probably old Wortley, his father. A christening of one of Lady Sandwich’s children had just taken place. Mrs. Montagu was godmother by proxy. “I assure you I wished the real Godmothers had been there instead of the substitutes.” Then stating Lord Sandwich had left so hastily they did not know if he had arranged for venison for the races, he begs Mr. Montagu to ask the Duke of Montagu to send him two bucks, “to be here by Tuesday.”

The Duchess of Portland, writing on July 24, mentions “Lady Bute is with me; she is a most agreeable friend in all respects.” This was Edward Wortley Montagu’s only sister, Mary, who was born in 1718, whilst her father was ambassador to the Porte. She had married in 1736, John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute.


A long letter of Mrs. Montagu’s in reply to the duchess contains some amusing descriptions of the trio—herself, Mrs. “Donn,” and the little Père’s expeditions from Sandleford—

“Yesterday we went to see a very extraordinary place. A gentleman has built a house on the summit of a prodigious hill, where there is not a drop of water nor a stick of wood; he has planted some fir trees which are watered every day by carts that bring the water about three miles; he has sunk a well to the centre of the earth, from whence some laborious horses draw him as much water as may wash his face, or in a liberal hour supply his tea kettle. The winds plays about his house in so riotous a manner, that a person must poise themselves in a very exact manner to maintain their ground and walk on two legs with an erect countenance as it is the glory and pride of human nature to do.... The first house this gentleman built was in a bottom, where the ground was all wet and marshy, overgrown with willows and alders and extremely peopled with frogs; there he found himself ill at ease,[245] and no doubt but in time would have died of a dropsy, as I now fear he will be destroyed by a wind cholick.

“A few days ago we were at Miss Lisle’s wood and grotto; the work of 9 sisters, who in disposition as well as number, bear some resemblance to the Muses. On Monday we think of going to Lady Fane’s[435] grotto.[436] Mrs. Donnellan and I are going to make a shell frame for a looking glass. I think a looking glass to be the properest for the first work, as everybody will be sure to find something they like in it.”

[435] Mary Stanhope, widow of Charles, Viscount Fane, of Basildon; once Maid-of-Honour to Queen Anne.

[436] At Basildon, still called “The Grotto.”


In the next letter of August 23 is the description of Lady Fane’s grotto—

“The situation is, like most grottoes, placed where a grotto would not be looked for: it joins to the house. Now having told its only defect, I will go on to the rest. The first room is fitted up entirely with shells, the sides and ceiling in beautiful mosaic, a rich cornice of flowers in baskets and cornucopias, and the little yellow sea snail is so disposed in shades as to resemble knots of ribbon which seem to tye up some of the bunches of flowers. There is a bed for the Hermit, which is composed of rich shells, and so shaded that the curtain seems folded and flowing.... The room adjoining it is the true and proper style for a grotto; it is composed of rough rock work in a very bold taste, the water falls down it into a cold bath. This grotto is about 50 yards from the Thames, to which the descent is very precipitate. From the Shell Room you have no advantage of the Thames, from the other room you have a view of it. The House to which this grotto is joined is a small habitation where Lady Fane used to pass a good deal of time. Lord Fane’s seat[437] is about a mile from it: it has not indeed the view of the Thames, but is finely situated in a bower of Beech Wood, and before it a[246] pretty prospect. From the Grotto we went to a Wood by the Thames, where we sat and eat our cold dinner very comfortably. In the afternoon we walked up a hill which commands a fine prospect, the Thames winds about in the manner it does at Cliefden. There is a want of wood, as I think the country rather flat, but the prospect is very extensive; you see Oxford and Reading, one on the right, the other on the left hand. In our road thither one of the wheels took fire and burnt thro’ the axletree.... A wheelwright was apply’d to but he had been carousing at a christening, and was not in that degree of sober sense requisite to make even an axletree. A Justice of the peace whom the King had knighted lived hard by; to him we applyed for a coach, as it was part of his office to send vagrants to the place of their abode. Alas! his coach, which contrary to other things used to rest on the week days and work only on the Sabbath, had not been licensed, to the great inconvenience of his lady and the grief of Carter John, who one day in the week was a coachman.... What was to be done? The sun was declining, we were 20 miles from home.... A good inn with the sign of the Blue Boar, Green Dragon, or Red Lion would have pleased us better than all we had seen, but—Alas! the only village within reach offered us a homely lodging under thatched roofs. We were a party of seven, and might have stormed the village with more ease than the French can Bergen-op-Zoom, but the plunder w’d not have given us a supper, or the place afforded us a lodging. But on finding the uncoached Justice was married to Sir Robert Sutton’s niece,[438] an acquaintance of Mrs. Donnellan’s, she sent her compliments, told our distress, and we were kindly received that night. The wheelwright slept himself sober, the next day made us an axletree, and we came home laughing at our adventures.”

[437] Basildon Park.

[438] Lady Rush.


The Montagus had projected a tour to Southampton[247] for some time, and towards the end of August they set out, accompanied by Dr. Courayer, leaving Jack and William Robinson at Sandleford. Writing to the duchess on September 22, Mrs. Montagu says—

“We went from hence to Winchester, where we saw the Cathedral, attending Service on Sunday; it is a very neat Gothick building in so good repair that time seems rather to have made it venerable than old. The Choir is very handsome, there are many old monuments. Several of the Saxon Kings have their bones collected into a sort of Trunk.... William Rufus is interred there too, in a kind of stone chest; William of Wickham and Cardinal Beaufort bear their ensigns of the Prelatick order on their tombs, which are very handsome; but let us leave the pride of the dead for the luxury of the living, and go on to Mr. Dummer’s.[439] The gardens are pretty, and there is a fine lawn before the house, from whence there is a rich prospect and a distant sight of the river at Southampton, where we arrived pretty late in the evening. The next morning we surveyed the town, which I think is very pretty, but what most pleased me there, was the prospect from a little Round Tower from which one has the finest view imaginable, the sea and river most encompass it.... From hence we went to Mount Bevis;[440] your Grace knows it so well I shall not describe it.... What a noble Bason does the river form at the end of the Bowling Green! how fine a prospect from the Mount! Lord Peterborough[441] says in a letter to Mr. Pope in reference to Mount Bevis, ‘I confess the lofty Sacharissa at Stowe, but am content with my little Amoret.’ His Lordship had great reason to be content, for tho’ Stowe, like a court beauty, is adorn’d and ornamented[248] with great expence, the native graces of Mount Bevis surprize and charm the beholder, and have an effect that art can never reach.... We spent a good deal of time in these charming gardens: went from them to Lyndhurst, one of the King’s houses in the New Forest, which house the Duke of Bedford lends to Mr. Medows.”[442]

[439] Cranbury Park, near Hursley.

[440] The seat of the great Earl of Peterborough, now incorporated into the town above Bar.

[441] Charles Mordaunt, Earl of Peterborough, born 1658, died 1735. Soldier and diplomatist.

[442] Brother-in-law of Mr. Montagu.

From three other letters, to Sarah Robinson, Mrs. Donnellan, and Dr. Freind, I give paragraphs. Speaking of Mount Bevis, she says—

“In a room on this Mount, Pope used to write, and I imagine he wrote his ‘Universal Prayer’ there, for the unbounded prospect leads the mind to the Great Author of all things, and to say to Him, ‘Whose Temple has all space, &c.’ There is a little recess in the wood where he used to study, and here perhaps he meditated his satires, for we are most apt to blame the crowd when we ourselves are out of the Tumult.”


At Lyndhurst the Medowses took their guests to see the Forest—

“saw Burleigh and Bolder Lodges, the one belongs to the Duke of Bolton, the other to Lord Delawarre. Saw the Forest, where there are (after great depredations), still some fine trees remaining.... Went one day to Hurst Castle, which commands a full view of the Isle of Wight; we dined on our cold loaf in the room where King Charles was prisoner; it is a neat, strong castle but small—Harry Bellardine is governor of it. Another day we were carried to Beaulieu, a seat of the Duke of Montagu’s, the wood and water make it the finest summer situation imaginable. The house was part of an old Abbey,[443] and there are traces of the Monastery that show it was large. We saw a fine prospect of the River and Isle of Wight from a place called Exbury. From Lyndhurst we went to Salisbury; on the Sunday[249] we went to the Cathedral and heard an excellent sermon from the Bishop of Lincoln. We received great civilities from the Bishop of Salisbury[444] and Mrs. Sherlock. I cannot describe Wilton,[445] it exceeds all that poetry and painting can represent. A fine lawn leads you to a charming river, on which there is a bridge, and such a bridge![446]... What sort of Bridge, say you? Why such a bridge as the gods would build to lead the souls of the Blessed from Lethe to Elysium if Charon would permit it. This leads to a fine hill covered with Nature’s verdant carpet adorned with fine plantations.... We descended from this hill and crossed the river again over another elegant building, and so returned to the house. The apartments are very noble, the Statues and busts are famous.... The rooms are very fine, and there is one which exceeds any I ever saw and which has in it the fine family piece by Vandyck; it really exceeded my expectation, the figures are so finely painted, their attitudes are gestures and their looks are speech; there are many other fine pictures. From Salisbury we directed our course to Stone Henge, which is an astonishing thing.... Thence we went to Amesbury,[447] where great improvements are making. There is a little river which winds about so as to make the place appear almost an island. There are three pretty Bridges, one in the manner of a Chinese house. The Duke of Queensborough has planted the hill very prettily. The house was a hunting box, built by Inigo Jones, the front handsome, the inside very small, only one fine room.

“We got that night to Marlborough, early enough to walk in Lord Hertford’s garden.... Lord Hertford has made a pretty grotto.

“From Marlborough we took our route to Lord[250] Bruce’s,[448] the access to it is very noble, avenues planted or woods cut thro’ for a mile and a half before you reach the house. The house contains a great number of fine rooms richly gilt and adorned with handsome chimney pieces; there are many family pictures and some very good ones....

“Dr. Courayer is still here.

“My brother Tom was here three weeks. The Westminsters[449] are here, and they are admitted at Cambridge, so are now very happy.”

[443] Founded in 1204 for Cistercians.

[444] Thomas Sherlock, born 1678, died 1761: afterwards Bishop of London.

[445] The Earl of Pembroke’s.

[446] A Palladian bridge. Here Sir Philip Sidney wrote his “Arcadia.

[447] Belonged then to the Duke of Queensborough, the patron of Gay.

[448] Savernake Forest House.

[449] John and William Robinson.


I copy a letter of Dr. Courayer’s here—

“November, 1747.

Dear Madam,

“C’est sans doute un mauvais Genie qui a fait trotter ma lettre par toute l’Angleterre, au lieu de l’addresser directement à Sandleford, et cela je pense dans le dessein de me mettre de mauvaise humeur en vous soupconnant d’indifference, ou de m’inquieter par des allarmes sur votre santé. Votre reponse a remedié au mal, et a exorcisé le mauvais esprit qui s’étoit ingeré de vouloir nous broüiller ou nous refroidir, mais qui n’a fait que decouvrir sa malice, sans rien produire de ce qu’il avoit eu en vüe. J’espere que cette lettre ci ne fera pas tant de circuits.

“Je vous felicite de la continuation de la belle saison. Nous en avons eu notre part à Londres, et Dieu qui, comme vous le dites, fait luire son soleil sur les injustes comme sur les justes a moins consulté nos iniquités que sa misericorde. Je ne laisse pas d’etre un peu scandalisé de vos reproches. Croyez-vous donc qu’il n’y ait de saints que dans les villages, et nous mettez vous tous au rang des réprouvés? A la verité

“‘Le monde a de fort grands defauts,
Ne croyez pas que je l’excuse.
Il est mechant, leger et faux,
Il trompe, il seduit, il abuse.
Il est auteur de mille maux,
Mais tel qu’il est, il nous amuse.’


Ainsi ne soyez pas surprise, si je ne suis pas aussi ennemi de la ville que vous pretendez l’être. Quand votre sort vous y ramenera, vous changerez de morale comme de demeure, et en quittant les Penates de Sandleford pour ceux de Londres, ce changement de place vous fera changer d’Idolatrie, et vous convaincra de l’injustice de vos declamations. Ce n’est pas après tout que je condamne votre goût pour la campagne.

“‘La solitude est belle en vers,
On est charmé de sa peinture.
Mais elle a de facheux revers.
Quelque bien qu’on soit, le temps dure,
Et je vois dans cet univers,
Qu’on aime à changer de posture.’

“Je vous suis très obligé de l’offre que vous me faites d’ecrire ma vie, au lieu de mon Oraison funèbre. Mon amour propre trouve à se satisfaire dans ce Projet, et ce sera une chose egalement nouvelle et curieuse de voir la vie d’un Philosophe écrite de la main d’une Dame, qui n’approuve ni ses maximes ni ses inclinations. Mais quoi qu’il en puisse etre c’est trop d’honneur pour moi d’avoir une telle historiographe pour ne pas accepter votre offre; et quand bien meme j’aurois à essuyer quelque trait de satyre parmi les Eloges, je ne pourrois que vous savoir bon gré d’avoir voulu vous exercer sur un sujet dont le principal merite seroit d’avoir passé par vos mains.

“Pour dire tout le mal que vous dites de vous même, vous avez sans doute des raisons que je n’ai pas pour le croire; et tant que je les ignorerai, je ne puis pas vous voir par d’autres yeux que par les miens. Mais puisque vous vous accusez d’etre si vaine, je dois vous taire ce que je pense de vous, de peur d’augmenter encore la vanité dont vous vous dites coupable. Restons chacun dans l’idée que nous avons, vous en serez plus humble, sans que je sente diminuer pour vous mon amitié et mon estime.

“Le Duc et la Duchesse de Portland sont venus ici pour la naissance du Roi. Ils repartirent hier pour[252] Bullstrode, où je vous conseillerois volontiers lorsque Mr. Montagu vous aura quittée d’aller passer quelque temps. Vous y auriez un peu plus de compagnie, et la votre ne gateroit rien à la leur.

“Mrs. Donnellan sera ici demain ou le jour d’après. J’ai toujours regardé la promesse qu’elle vous avoit faite comme un compliment sans consequence, et je n’ai pu m’imaginer qu’elle put revenir de King’s Weston qu’en compagnie, ce qui lui ôteroit la liberté de vous voir.

“Je suis très obligé à Mr. Montagu et à Miss Robinson de leur souvenir. Mes amitiés à l’un et à l’autre. Independamment de ce que je leur dois, il suffit qu’ils vous appartiennent, pour qu’ils me soient chers.

“Voici, Madame, une longue lettre. Peut etre vous ennuyera-t-elle? En ce cas jettez la au feu avant que d’en achever la lecture. Une autre fois je serai plus court, et me contenterai de vous dire que je vous aime autant que vous le meritez, c’est à dire beaucoup, et que je suis très sincerement tout à vous.

Le Courayer.

“À Londres, ce 3 Novembre, 1747.”


Matthew Robinson had been returned member for Canterbury with little opposition. In writing to her father to press his visiting at Sandleford, Mrs. Montagu begs him to leave his canvasses, but bring his painting materials. “We will provide all possible conveniences for your work, and you may create immortal plants, clouds that will never dissolve in rain, nor be chased by wind, and suns that shine larger than in the miraculous days of Joshua.” She also thanks him for Hoyle’s book on Chess, and Taylor’s on Perspective, and some drop medicine called “Devil’s Drops,” which Mrs. Montagu alludes to as having “a quality that makes one less fit for conversation than the Vapours themselves!”


Matthew Robinson writes from Trinity Hall, Cambridge, to his father as to his young brothers William and John. William was at St. John’s, and John at Trinity Hall. Both matriculated most creditably. William[450] was said to be the best scholar of the year of his college, and John’s tutor had a high opinion of his talent. Matthew addresses his father “Honoured Sir.”

[450] William became soon an intimate friend of the poet Gray.


Parliament being summoned for November 10, Mr. Montagu set out, but very unwillingly, as his wife had been suffering much from “spasms of the stomach,” a complaint she was much plagued with. In a letter of November 14 he promises to send a pamphlet on Lord Lovat’s trial, and Mr. Lyttelton’s verses. This latter was the celebrated Monody which he wrote after the death of his first wife, née Lucy Fortescue, who had died on January 19 of this year, leaving him with two children—Thomas, afterwards 2nd Baron Lyttelton, and Lucy, who married Arthur, Viscount Valentia.

Mr. Montagu, accompanied by his neighbour, Mr. Herbert, of Highclere, inspected his new house in Hill Street, which was then being ornamented, and with which he was not pleased. They then proceeded to see Lord Chesterfield’s house, which was nearing completion. He says “his principal apartment, which is on the ground floor, will be very magnificent.”

Mrs. Donnellan writes on November 17—

“I went with Mrs. Southwell[451] on Saturday to King Lear to see Garrick and Mrs. Cibber, both performed extremely well. I think he took the part of the old testy madman better than the Hero, and Mrs. Cibber is the soft, tender Cordelia in perfection. I am only provoked[254] that they have altered Shakespear’s plain, sincere, artless creation into a whining, love-sick maid. I would have an Act of Parliament, at least of Council, that nobody should add a word to Shakespear, for it makes sad patchwork....

“I have read Mr. Lyttelton’s ‘Monody;’ ’tis moving and seems to speak the feeling heart.... Madame ‘Gran’(ville) desires her duty, she is sorry you are not in town, there was a charming execution yesterday—two smugglers and a Jew, and a fine view from her windows.”

[451] Wife of the Right Hon. Edward Southwell.

Mrs. Montagu’s health being extremely delicate, she was ordered to Bath, accompanied by her husband and sister. They stayed at Mrs. Purdie’s, Orange Court. In a letter of December 28, to Mrs. Donnellan, she says—

“The day after I came I consulted Dr. Hartley;[452] he gave me comfortable words, said mine was a Bath case, would be cured by the waters, but medicines were improper and dangerous, and neither ordered bolus, draughts, or electuary, or any of the warlike stores of the faculty. The waters do not disagree with me, nor have I been ill since I came in any violent degree. My spirits are not in the best order, which you will not wonder at when I tell you my brother Tom[453] has a miliary fever; Dr. Wilmot does not perceive any danger at present, but cannot pronounce him safe till the fever leaves him.”

[452] Dr. David Hartley, born 1705, died 1757; physician, philosopher, and writer.

[453] Her second brother, admitted to Lincoln’s Inn, April 14, 1730.


Alas! poor Tom died on December 29; his hitherto brilliant career being cut short, my grandfather, Matthew, 4th Baron Rokeby, says, “by a cold caught by being overheated in a pleading before the House of Commons.” He was a young man so promising in his profession that the then Chief Justice of the King’s Bench exclaimed,[255] “We have lost the man in England for a point of law.” His treatise[454] on Gavelkind still continues to be the standard book on that subject. In sprightliness of wit and fertility of invention he much resembled his sister. He left on Mrs. Montagu’s recollection “an indelible impression of admiration, and a regret which no subsequent acquisition in friendship could sufficiently compensate.”

[454]The Common Law of Kent,” or “The Customs of Gavelkind, with an Appendix concerning Borough English,” 1st edition, 1741; 2nd at a date I have not been able to ascertain; 3rd in 1822; 4th in 1858. Edited by J. D. Norwood, of Ashford.


In writing to Mrs. Donnellan soon after, she says—

“My poor brother’s virtues and capacity gave me the fairest hopes of seeing him enjoy life with great advantages; a fatal moment has destroyed those hopes, but it must be length of time that can make me submit to the cruel disappointment; he was an honour and happiness to us all, and I never thought of him without pleasure.”


In a letter to Mrs. Donnellan from Bath, dated February 6, the following passage occurs: “The Coffee House is really grown sprightly. We meet Mrs. Pitt,[455] Mrs. G. Trevor, Mrs. Grosvenor, Lady Lucy Stanhope, and a few more, and we are often very merry, and sit round the fire after other people go away.”[456] The Freinds were at Bath, but their little boy Robert being inoculated for the smallpox kept the cousins apart.

[455] Anne Pitt, sister of Mr. Pitt, Maid-of-Honour to Queen Caroline.

[456] The “Coffee House” apparently adjoined the Rooms, as is shown in the reproduction of Nixon’s original water-colour drawing of such a scene as Mrs. Montagu describes, now in Mr. Broadley’s valuable Bath Collection.

Her spirits reviving, Mrs. Montagu, writing to the duchess, says, “Whisk and the noble game of E. O. employ the evening; three glasses of water, a toasted[256] roll, a Bath cake, and a cold walk the mornings,” but the regimen agreed with her, and she accompanied Mr. Montagu to Sandleford on May 1, leaving Sarah Robinson, who was suffering from headache, with her friend, Miss Grinfield, at Bath. From this period dates the extreme intimacy which grew up between Miss Robinson and Lady Barbara Montagu, sister of George Montagu Dunk, 2nd Earl of Halifax, who was then living at Bath, and invited Miss Robinson to stay with her.

The Hill Street house not being completed, Mrs. Knight,[457] a cousin of the family, lent Mrs. Montagu her house in Golden Square, London. Miss Grinfield, just mentioned, was just made a dresser to the princesses, daughters of George II.

[457] Née Robinson.

“Miss Grinfield is in waiting.... The place is enough to weary a person of the strongest constitution; their Highnesses rise early and go to bed late; are waited upon by the dressers at dinner. Princess Caroline[458] has one to read to her continually; poor Nancy is to have only the £100 per annum, and no cloathes till one goes off.”

[458] Married 1766, to King Christian VII. of Denmark.


In the same letter Mrs. Montagu mentions Miss M. Anstey[459] had been staying with her, but her parents insisted on her returning to them to help furnish Trumpington, near Cambridge, a property they had just come into.

[459] Sister of the author of the “New Bath Guide.”


From the Middletons, Mrs. Montagu writes to Mrs. Donnellan—

“Cambridge, June 15.

Dear Madam,

“As I date my letter from the modern capital of the Muses, you will perhaps expect that I should [257]send you some strains of immortal poetry, but I have not yet met with any such thing, and must rather give an account of the Buildings than the literary works of the University. I had some pleasure in the recollection of the easy careless years of infancy, some part of which I passed here with the most tender of relations, a fond grandmother; in comparison of whose indulgence all other indulgence is severity, as you must be sensible if ever you had the greatest of infant comforts, a grandmother. So much to my particular circumstances; then, to the general situation of the University. The Colleges do not in general, stand so as to give ornament to the town, as those of Oxford, but if the town is the worse for it, the Colleges are the better, as they open to the fields, and from thence receive and give a fine prospect. King’s College, Clare Hall, and Trinity Library, and the finest of Gothick buildings—King’s College Chapel, makes a beautiful appearance from the public walks. Trinity College is a most noble thing; the Quadrangle is a sixth part bigger than that of Christchurch in Oxford. The Library is very handsome, and esteemed one of the finest rooms in the World. In the Library there is preserved the skeleton of a gentleman who left his bones as a monument of his regard to mankind on purpose to instruct even the most superficial observer of the formation of the human body, and at the same time designed that his name, like his body, might be snatched from the grave; how various are the roads to Fame! Some seek them by grand and pompous obsequies; others expect them for not having Christian burial, and hope to be remembered by a magnificent tomb, or the want of a coffin. I always thought vanity the very marrow of a human creature, and it sticks to them even to their very bones.... What gives me the greatest pleasure is the seeing Dr. Middleton married to a person[460] who seems formed to make him happy; she is very well bred and agreeable, has a most obliging temper, likes his manner of life, shows him the greatest regard,[258] and among her accomplishments I must take notice of her playing on the Harpsichord in great perfection.

“I found two brothers very well, and extremely happy in their situation.”

[460] Anne Powell, his third wife.


She then continues that, Master Knight having taken smallpox, she cannot go back to Golden Square, but into two bedrooms in her unfinished house in Hill Street. This sentence shows that Mrs. Donnellan was a friend of Mr. Samuel Richardson, the great author: “I wish you much pleasure with the nightingales at North End, and you have a good right to be of so harmonious a society.” North End, near Fulham, was Mr. Richardson’s[461] country house. He had published “Pamela” in 1740, and “Clarissa Harlowe,” which was to make such a lasting sensation, was published in this spring of 1748.

[461] Samuel Richardson, born 1689, died 1761. Novelist and publisher; wrote “Sir Charles Grandison,” etc., etc.


Mrs. Montagu writes to her sister, who was still at Bath on June 25, from Hill Street, where, as she states, everything is in great confusion, “the middle floors not laid.” Mrs. Dettemere, her lady’s-maid, had just lost her husband, whom she had not seen for years, but loved dearly. She appears to have been a poor lady, but the cause of her living separate from her husband does not appear. Dr. Shaw had been consulted as to a return of Mrs. Montagu’s spasms of the stomach, and recommended the extraordinary remedy of “sweating.” This was to remain in bed for days and weeks in flannel sheets, which at midsummer could have hardly been endured. She says—

“He assures me I shall neither be sick or nervous: after my sweating fit is over, I am to drink asses’ milk, ride on horseback, and grow fat and jolly. I am now thinner than ever, so the reformation will be greater if I grow fat.... My brother Robinson had a very pleasant[259] journey to Aix, where I daresay he will have a great deal of pleasure. There will be a great concourse of people of all nations, and Lord and Lady Sandwich are extremely obliging to him....

“Mr. Flower sent your jumps[462] yesterday; I did not pay for them on account of his raising the price.”

[462] A sort of stays.

The Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle had been signed in March, Lord Sandwich and Sir Thomas Robinson[463] being the English plenipotentiaries. Lady Sandwich, going out to join her husband, persuaded Mr. Matthew Robinson, who was a great friend, to escort her to Aix-la-Chapelle.

[463] “Short Sir Thomas Robinson,” called in contradistinction to “Long” Sir T. Robinson, Mrs. Montagu’s cousin.

In order to while away the weary hours of lying in bed at Sandleford, Miss Anstey and Dettemere had to read aloud to Mrs. Montagu Admiral Anson’s book, “A Voyage round the World,” recently published. Sarah Robinson designated it “as the best receipt book in England as far as dressing turtles and some Indian animals can reach.”

Mrs. Donnellan had lost her stepfather, Mr. Percival, on April 26 of this year. He had long been in declining health. She was very anxious about the remedy Mrs. Montagu was taking, and demanded constant news. She recommends Townsend’s “Translation of the Conquest of Mexico” to be read to Mrs. Montagu. Her mother, she writes, had taken a house for the summer months “a little beyond the walls of Kensington gardens, and I have a key to the nearest door.”

Dr. Shaw is mentioned as going away on his travels, leaving no directions for his patients, and the Duchess of Portland as giving him £600 to enable him to travel and find her shells and curiosities, for which she had an insatiable appetite.


Sarah Robinson continued at Bath with Lady Bab Montagu, and hints are thrown out in some of the letters of an attachment springing up between her and Mr. G. L. Scott, mentioned before. Captain Pigott, an admirer of Sarah’s, is described as “dressed according to custom in a tied wig fresh powdered, a bloom colour cloth coat, laced most magnificently with gold, and bloom-coloured stockings; he visits our door continually, but all the consequence is a little expense in chair hire to him.”

Two people with immense trains of attendants are noticed as then at Bath, the Earl of Harrington[464] and Earl of Hertford,[465] the latter “never stirs without three footmen, and his very chair men have shoulder knots.”

[464] William Stanhope, 1st Earl of Harrington; Viceroy of Ireland.

[465] 15th Earl, afterwards Duke of Somerset.


Three letters of Matthew Robinson to his sister from the Continent whilst with Lord and Lady Sandwich contain a few interesting paragraphs—

“After my last letter we set out for Spa, whither we travelled through the Dutchy of Limburg, a most beautiful country to look at, and among the rest we saw to the left the Forest of Arden where Jacques moralized, but though it is about 80 miles in circumference, by means of bad government and its revenues being carried to its Princess, the Empress, to Vienna its capital, Limburg is a pitiful village and in the whole Dutchy there are not above 4 or 5 other villages, still more contemptible. At Spa we lived a very merry life, and were entertained by an Hungarian Prince and other German nobility. Tokay and other very good wines gave us a taste how very fine a country Hungary must be, but our scheme was unluckily cut short in the middle by Lord Sandwich having a sudden call to Aix. Upon our return Sir Thomas Robinson was here, who at his Lordship’s request is joined with him as second plenipotentiary; he says he is an old familiar of my[261] Father’s, and inquires much after him. Our life here is as it used to be. The Sunday before last there was a most magnificent gala, a dinner, supper and ball at the French ambassador’s on account of St. Louis’ day, where I assure you I was much charm’d with the unaffected liveliness and gaiety of the French.... Last Sunday we had a second part of the same comedy by the Dutch on account of the Prince of Orange’s birthday; besides a dinner and supper, there was a ball at the Maison de Ville, which of itself is very magnificent, and was finely decorated by Mr. Vanharen. Lady Sandwich both in her journey and here has often wished for your company.... To-morrow morning I set out for Bonn upon the Rhine, and we go from thence all down the Rhine to the Hague.”


Matthew and a Mr. Gee left Lord and Lady Sandwich at Aix. Young Edward Wortley Montagu was acting-secretary to Lord Sandwich. From the Hague he writes in October—

“Since I wrote to you last I have taken a long and pleasant journey up the Rhine among the palaces of the four Electors, from thence I am come to the Hague, about 10 days ago. From the neatness of the town, the incomparable walks and rides about it, its rendezvous of Ministers and politicks, it is a very agreeable place to live in. The Ministers here by turns hold assemblies of the men at their houses, morning and evening, and I have dined at the house of one or other of them almost every day. The court is well filled and well attended, but as formal as our own.... The most extraordinary person here is Mr. Grounen, the Father of Mrs. Trevor, wife of our envoy, who has knowledge and sense enough to be mighty well acquainted with the History of Europe, and to be supposed by some people to be writing the History of his own times, to have constantly every noon about him a resort of the Ministers and best company here, to be the center of all their[262] news, and to be the particular and intimate acquaintance of several great men, and among the rest the correspondent of Lord Chesterfield, and yet at the same time to be so mad as for fear of infection literally not to touch any human creature, neither his servants, his children, nor even his second wife!”


Mr. James Montagu, half-brother to Mr. Edward Montagu, had for some time been deaf, and was now in a very dropsical state; he now fell very ill. Mr. and Mrs. Montagu nursed him tenderly till the end, which took place on October 30. From letters of Mrs. Medows to Mrs. Montagu one learns the brothers had not been brought up together; hence the blow was less acutely felt. He appears to have died in London. His estate of Newbold Verdon in Leicestershire was left to Wortley Montagu. Mrs. Medows says, “I can’t help feeling a little hurt that Newbold goes where it should not, but I really believe Sandleford is a pleasanter place to live in.”

In a letter to Sarah, Mrs. Montagu says—

“Mr. Montagu is now returned from the melancholy ceremony of opening the will. My brother has left us a handsome legacy, and also all his plate and jewels, which last, he told the person who made the codicil, would be proper for me, as I had refused any when I married, perhaps his brother would forget them. I hear the plate is valued at £1500, and the jewels, they say, are fine, but I never saw them. I esteem the good will and kindness of the donor more than ever I shall the glittering gems.”

The two sailor brothers had just returned from the East Indies.

“Charles grown from a fine boy to a very clever man, he is improved in all respects.... My house looks like an Indian warehouse: I have got so many[263] figures, jars, etc., etc., you would laugh at the collection, my gown I brought out of the ship buckled under my jumps, it is very pretty and the work extremely neat. The Captain has brought China, Lutestrings, taffeties and Paduasoys, they wear so well, but the colors are not as good as those of our manufacture.”


Tea was also brought, and Dr. Conyers Middleton had 4 lbs. at 16s. a pound. He had just brought out his “Free Enquiry into the Miraculous Powers.” Matthew Robinson writes of it on December 17, “Middleton will tell you there is no belief to be given to any of the miracles related by the Fathers, Hume[466] says that there is no belief to be given to miracles related by any man whatsoever.” And thus end the letters of 1748.

[466] David Hume, born 1711, died 1776; philosopher and historian.




An account of a subscription masquerade given at Ranelagh in May opens the letters of 1749. My grandfather[467] by mistake put this in 1751. It succeeded a magnificent fête and masquerade given on May 1 in celebration of the Peace.

[467] Vide Horace Walpole’s letter to Sir H. Mann, vol. ii. p. 292.

Mrs. Montagu writes to her sister at Bath on May 8—

“I am ashamed that I have been so remiss in writing to my dear sister, but business and amusements have poured in torrents upon me. I was some days preparing for the subscription masquerade, where I was to appear in the character of the Queen Mother,[468] my dress white satin, fine new point for tuckers, kerchief and ruffles, pearl necklace and earrings, and pearls and diamonds on the head, and my hair curled after the Vandyke picture. Mrs. Trevor[469] and the Lady Stanhopes’[470] adjusted my dress, so that I was one day in my life well dressed.

“Miss Charlotte Fane was Rubens’ wife, and looked [265]extremely well; we went together. Miss Chudleigh’s[471] dress or rather undress was remarkable. She was Iphigenia for the sacrifice, but so naked, the High Priest might easily inspect the entrails of the victim. The Maids of Honour, not of maids the strictest, were so offended they would not speak to her.

[468] Henrietta Maria.

[469] Mrs. John Morley Trevor, née Montagu.

[470] Daughters of 1st Viscount Stanhope; their mother was a Pitt.

[471] Maid-of-Honour, and secretly married to Viscount Bristol, afterwards Duchess of Kingston.

“Pretty Mrs. Pitt[472] looked as if she came from heaven, but was only on her road thither in the habit of a chanoiness. Many ladies looked handsome, and others rich, there was as great a quantity of Diamonds as the town could produce. Mrs. Chandler was a starry night, the Duchess of Portland had no jewels, and was miserably dressed. Lord Sandwich made a fine Hussar. Mr. Montagu has made me lay by my dress to be painted in when I see Mr. Hoare again. His picture is thought like, but the face too full for my thin jaws. I staid till 5 o’clock in the morning at the masquerade, and was not tired, but a glass of your champagne and water gave me a fit of the cholick the next day, and I have never been well since, but I had better luck than Miss Conway[473] who was killed by a draught of Lemonade she drank there....

“I suppose you have read Lord Bolingbroke’s new work,[474] as it is short we idle ones in London can find time to peruse it.”

[472] Née Penelope Atkyns, wife of George Pitt, afterwards Lord Rivers.

[473] Miss Jenny Conway, sister of Lord Conway.

[474]The Idea of a Patriot King.”

Mrs. Montagu paid a visit to the Bothams at Albury soon after this. From the letters it appears Mr. Matthew Robinson was pressing a suit on Miss Godschall, a rich heiress living near Albury, but it came to nothing.

In June, Mrs. Montagu, being recommended to drink the Tunbridge waters, was accompanied by Lady Sandwich, who was also ordered there; Mr. Montagu remaining on business for a while in London, Sarah[266] Robinson still living with Lady Bab Montagu at Bath.

A letter from Lady Talbot welcoming them to stay with her till they found a house now appears. She was the wife of William, 2nd Baron Talbot, afterwards Earl Talbot and Baron Dinevor, née Mary de Cardonnel, a great heiress, who had been married at the age of fifteen! An amiable, affectionate person, and a great friend of Mrs. Montagu’s. Mrs. Montagu writes for her chariot to be sent to her; she and Lady Sandwich having performed the journey in Lady Sandwich’s post-chaise,[475] then a new vehicle.

[475] The four-wheeled post-chaise invented by Mr. Jethro Tull.


They stayed three weeks drinking the waters, during which Lady Talbot had a bad fall from her horse. A report reaching Tunbridge Wells that Lord Sandwich had a fever, his wife, accompanied by Mrs. Montagu, drove in four hours to London, where they found him recovered by the taking of bark. As Lady Sandwich wished to be present at the Huntingdon races, she did not return to Tunbridge, but Mrs. Montagu persuaded her sister-in-law, Mrs. Medows, to accompany her there for a week. Mr. Montagu now joined her from Sandleford, whither he had been accompanied by Captain Robert Robinson, the sailor brother. The captain proceeded on to Bath to see Sarah. Before leaving town, Mr. Montagu had been much distressed at the illness of his relative, the Duke of Montagu, and sent daily to inquire after him. He had only been at Tunbridge a few days before the duke died, and he was summoned to town as an executor, together with the Dukes of Bedford and Devonshire. Mrs. Montagu writes—

“I am grieved at the heart for the poor Duke of Montagu, as he was your friend and the friend of[267] mankind; his memory will be dear to all that knew him, he is embalmed in the tears of the poor and the distressed: it is happier to dye lamented than to live unloved.”

This is the Duke of Montagu[476] mentioned by Horace Walpole, page 141 of his letters to George Montagu, “as the head of all the ‘cues.’”[477] In the codicils legacies were left to his servants, dogs, and cats. Horace says, “As he was making the codicil one of his cats jumped on his knee. ‘What,’ says he, ‘have you a mind to be a witness too? You can’t, for you are a party concerned.’”

[476] John Montagu, 2nd Duke, born 1705, died February 16, 1749.

[477] The “cues” was the nickname of the large Montagu circle.

He left no male heir, only two daughters, the Duchess of Manchester, who had remarried Mr. Hussey, and Lady Cardigan. Their mother was the fourth daughter of the celebrated Duke of Marlborough.


Mr. Montagu got £100 as executor. Whilst he was detained in London, Mrs. Montagu made an expedition to Coombe Bank in company of Mr. and Mrs. Vesey. This is the first mention of people who were destined to become most intimate friends. Mrs. Vesey was the daughter of Sir Thomas Vesey, Bishop of Ossory. She married, first, Mr. William Handcock; secondly, her cousin, Agmondesham Vesey, of Lucan, Ireland. He was M.P. for Harris Town.


Mrs. Montagu writes—

“I went yesterday along with Mrs. Vesey to see General Campbell’s place; we set out to avoid heat a little after 6. Lady Allen lent us her coach and six. We got to Coombe Banke by nine. It is about 16 miles[478] from here. We walked about the gardens, which are very pretty, and saw the house, dined under the shade, and about 4 o’clock Mr. and Mrs. Vesey got into their[268] post-chaise to go to London. I mounted my horse and went to Senoak, where Lady Allen’s coach waited for me. Lord Sandwich and Lord Anson were just come to the inn, and going to dine on turtle, to which they invited me, but I had made a more agreeable meal in General Campbell’s garden.... I am going to dinner to Lady Talbot’s, where I breakfasted. Lord Sandwich and Lord and Lady Anson and a great deal of company are to dine there. We have now such a crowd we expect a splendid ball to-night. I received great civility from Mr. and Mrs. Vesey, and they desired to know how I got home last night, so I must beg you to send the enclosed note to them in Bolton Row. They desired leave to see the house and celebrated feather screen, so I have wrote to Betty to have the house in order, and to set the screen for them.... Coombank is but a small place, but a fine terrace commands a beautiful view of the country. The house is most elegantly furnished. We were offered everything as politely as if the General had been there. We had a fine dessert of fruit served in the finest china. Our dinner we carried, but wine, tea and coffee were offered us.”

[478] Three hours doing sixteen miles shows the badness of the roads.

This feather screen was in six panels, one of which was worked by Miss Anstey, in imitation of one of the Duchess of Portland’s. The feather work, immortalized afterwards by the poet Cowper, had been begun, but it was the Duchess of Portland’s original idea. Numerous letters mention feathers being sent or asked for. Lydia Botham collected the plumage of peacocks, pheasants, and jays. Every known sort of parrot and macaw was placed under contribution. From Albury the boxes of feathers were sent by the Guildford coach to the “White Horse cellar in Piccadilly.” With these came fifty pens made by Lydia from her geese.

Dr. Jurin[479] kept Mrs. Montagu longer than she[269] intended drinking the waters of Tunbridge. During her stay there amongst the company were the Duchess of Somerset[480] and her daughter the Duchess of Bedford, Lord and Lady Fitzwalter, Lady Ancram, Lady Anson, Lord and Lady Elibank, Dowager Lady Barrington, Lady Betty Germain, Lord and Lady Vere Beauclerk, Lady Talbot, Lord March, Lord Eglinton, Lord Granby and Lord Powis, Lady Winchelsea, the Bishop of London and Mrs. Sherlock.

[479] Dr. James Jurin, born 1684, died 1750; physician, mathematician and author.

[480] Second wife of Charles, “the proud Duke” of Somerset. Her daughters became, one Marchioness of Granby, the other Countess of Aylesford.

In a letter to Dr. Freind this is said—

“In many respects this place is inferior to Bath, in some it is better. We are not confined here in Streets; the houses are scattered irregularly, and Tunbridge Wells looks from the window I now sit by a little like the village[481] you see from our terrace at Sandleford, only that the inhabitants instead of Jack and Joan are my Lord and my Lady.”

[481] Newtown.


A letter of September 28, of Mr. Montagu’s, after his return to London, is addressed to Hinchinbrook, where his wife had gone to stay with Lady Sandwich for a grand ball at Huntingdon, and the election of a new mayor. He says—

“I am not surprised that Hinchinbrook pleases you so well, or that you are of opinion it is capable of being made a fine place, it stands upon an eminence and commands a fine prospect, which those that made the Terrass well knew. The venerable old elms in the road are very ornamental, and the wood at the bottom of the garden is pretty as is also the plantation in the Park. The brook from whence the place takes its name is at a due distance from the house, and might be improved into a river or fine piece of water. I doubt [270]not my Lord will do it, if not at present, at an age more suitable. The room where Oliver Cromwell was born I daresay Mr. Audley will be proud to show you, and is seen by all strangers, tho’ I don’t believe it consists of one of the same particles of the material of which the room was built when that great man was brought into the world.”


Mrs. Montagu writes—

“The Huntingdon ball was more splendid than I expected. I danced with Lord Sandwich. For beauties we had the two Miss Gunnings,[482] who are indeed very handsome; nonpareille, for the sisters are just alike take them together, and there is nothing like them; they are really very fine girls.”

[482] The daughters of John Gunning, of Castle Coote, Roscommon. Elizabeth married, first, the Duke of Hamilton; secondly, the Duke of Argyll. Maria married the Earl of Coventry. There was a third sister, Kitty, married Mr. Robert Travers, but lived in Ireland.

On her road back to London she stayed with the Ansteys at Trumpington, and Miss Anstey accompanied her to London.

Sarah Robinson, between whom and Mrs. Montagu there was a slight estrangement on account of her engagement to Mr. George Lewis Scott, which Mrs. Montagu disapproved of, now paid her sister a visit. Matthew wrote to recommend that the sisters should meet as if nothing had occurred to weaken their bond of affection. Sarah’s health had improved much by her long residence at Bath with Lady Barbara Montagu, who accompanied her on her visit to Sandleford. Sarah had painted a toilette-cover with flowers for Mrs. Montagu’s new house in Hill Street, which was beginning to be decorated.

In November, Parliament called the Montagus to London.



The first letter of 1750 is dated January 3, from Sandleford, addressed to Sarah. I give portions of it—

“Lady Sandwich was so good as to spend a week with us, and as the weather was fine for this time of year, we went out in the post-chaise all the morning, then dinner, tea and supper pretty well filled the rest of the time. On Monday I went with her Ladyship to Reading, where we lay that night. The next morning she went to town, and I returned hither, where I found my brothers, who give me a very agreeable account of your health ... I saw our friend Cotes the day before I left town, she is very well and in good spirits, and seems determined to keep her freedom and enter no more into wedlock’s bonds. She has only a small lodging, and I think with her economy she might afford herself a house of her own, and she might furnish it in the present fashion, of some cheap paper and ornaments of Chelsea China or the manufacture of Bow, which makes a room look neat and finished. They are not so sumptuous as mighty Pagodas of China or nodding Mandarins. My dressing room in London is like the Temple of some Indian god: if I was remarkably short and had a great head, I should be afraid people would think I meant myself Divine Honours, but I can so little pretend to the embonpoint of a Josse, it is impossible to suspect me of such presumption. The very curtains are Chinese pictures on gauze, and the chairs the Indian fan sticks with cushions of Japan satin painted: as to the beauty of colouring, it is carried as high as possible, but the toilette you were so good as to paint is the only thing where nature triumphs. Lady Sandwich brought her sons here, they are charming boys; Lord Hinchinbrooke[483] is much improved since you saw him, and Master Montagu[484] is a complete beauty....

“Mr. Morgan is at last deprived of the curacy of Newtown, which is a great grief to him. Nanny performs [272]extremely well at the embroidery, and I hope the habit of application will make her useful to herself and other people. I was afraid she would never have been either of those things! Her Father and Mother are much afraid she should be buried in Westminster Abbey near the lady that dyed by the pinch of her finger in working, but I will lay some wager on her head she will not be killed by diligence; as to Jacky Morgan, he has an admirable education for a jockey, he lives on horseback but can neither read nor write.”

[483] John Montagu, 5th Earl of Sandwich, born 1744.

[484] Edward Montagu, born 1745; Mrs. Montagu’s godson.

This passage shows the position of the lower class of clergy of the period. Mr. Morgan was of Welsh birth, and preached long, dull sermons, as appears from former letters; his wife was a good motherly body, but no more. Mrs. Montagu apprenticed Nanny Morgan, as is shown by her next letter.

“She is too high and too giddy for a servant, time and experience may mend her, she likes the business she is going to.... I have obliged Mrs. Albert to promise she shall never go without her or Dettmere[485] or Mrs. Donnellan’s maid.... Charles went to Cambridge on Tuesday.”

[485] Mrs. Montagu’s lady’s-maid.

Charles’s health had improved, but as he did not like the sea as a profession, he entered Cambridge as an undergraduate.

“Tell Mr. Hoare when you see him, that if he pleases to send my face[486] to Hill Street, it will meet with a kind reception; it is a young face to be sure, but the retrospect to 18 is so pleasant I shall not find fault with it. I am, as you observe, Mistress of a post-chaize, which next to having wings, is the most convenient thing in the world, and must serve till it is brought to perfection. We liked so well our journey to Cambridge in the summer in a post-chaize which we hired for the time, that we bespoke one immediately.”

[486] Her portrait by Hoare.

The old post-chaises had only two wheels. Four-wheeled[273] post-chaises were new, and were thought the more dangerous, as being liable to overturn.


A letter occurs now from the Duchess Dowager of Chandos, third wife, and widow since 1744, of the 1st Duke of Chandos, surnamed the “Princely Duke,” the builder of the palatial residence of Canons, in Middlesex, on which he spent £200,000. Having spent his fortune in building and speculating, Canons was sold for the material at his death. The duchess’s maiden name was Van Hatten, but she had been married to a Sir Thomas Davall. After the duke’s death she came to reside at Shaw House,[487] near Newbury, from whence she writes to Mrs. Montagu, and after some inquiries as to health, etc., says—

“What different tempers the world consists of: I am told passion sent the late Lord Pembroke[488] out of the world, but that Mr. Middleton who opened him says that both heart and all the vitals were displaced by the continual swathing he used to keep himself from growing bulky. This was itself a discontented temper, and if at any time I should be extremely strait laced and contradicted, it is certain my crossness would have been very great, and I or my lace must burst. The giving Ward’s pill to a cock and then turning it into broth for old Lady Northampton[489] has something curious in it too, but as it ended in death, I suppose will not be practised further. How many tricks do we try to lengthen life, and yet like poor Lord Pembroke waste it in tormenting our blood because others will not be of our mind, or we are too fat, or too lean to please ourselves: if there is not another life where we may be more perfect, [274]more happy, we are certainly the most inconsistent, foolish creatures this world produces; how much better the other planets have for inhabitants I know not.

[487] From a letter of Mrs. Medows, 1744, Shaw belonged to the duchess, and had been rented by a Mr. Forster, who then went to live at Englefield.

[488] Henry, 28th Earl of Pembroke, died January 9, 1750.

[489] Elizabeth, second wife and widow of 11th Earl of Northampton.


The earthquake mentioned by Horace Walpole in his letters to Sir Horace Mann, page 349 in volume 2, on February 5, created much terror. The Montagus were in Hill Street at the time. On February 20, in a letter to her sister, Mrs. Montagu says—

“I was not under any apprehensions about the earthquake, but went that night to the Oratorio, then quietly to bed, but the madness of the multitude was prodigious, near 50 of the people I had sent to, to play at cards here the Saturday following, went out of town to avoid being swallowed, and I believe they made a third part of the number I asked, so that you may imagine how universal the fright must be. The Wednesday night the Oratorio was very empty, though it was the most favourite performance of Handel’s.”

A slighter shock took place a month later; some people prognosticated a worse shock on April 3, which was to swallow up London. The following letter of the Duchess of Chandos alludes to this:—

“Shaw, April 3.

Dear Madam,

“I do assure you although I had many accounts of the earthquake, I do easily perceive the difference betwixt a fright, and a sensible account of the same matter of fact: the day this, I hope, will kiss your hands and find perfect peace and safety at Hill Street, is the day when in many people have great fears, but in my opinion without reason, for I never heard of periodical earthquakes, and the coolness of the weather I hope will assuage these sulphurous heats. It would now bear hard upon Human understanding as well as gratitude, if when they see how very easily the destruction of popular places may be effected, we should not all live in[275] such a way as to make Death not so extremely shocking to us, as it has appeared to some of the gay world at this time. The same Providence that certainly made this complicated and beautiful Machine, is not the children that blow bubbles in air only to divert themselves, but has will, and good further designs suitable to His infinite goodness and wisdom, and therefore a hope in Him is a real security in all evils, and as to the manner of Death I have it, may be a peculiar thought, that there is a degree of pain that human nature cannot exceed consistent with life; which is a great mercy, or else our cruelty to one another would be without bounds: therefore I will never be too anxious what is the manner of my death, but trust it to that power that sent me into life....

“Dear Madam, much obliged
and faithful humble servant,
L. C. Chandos.”

There are few letters for 1750 in my collection. In July Mrs. Montagu went to Tunbridge Wells, whilst Mr. Montagu prepared to accept the invitation of his Huntingdon constituents to the races, etc., held there. Miss Anstey, who had accompanied Lady Romney[490] to Tunbridge, remained with Mrs. Montagu for a while. Dr. Conyers Middleton and his wife not being in good health, went to London to consult physicians. In June, from Horace Walpole’s letters to George Montagu we learn the doctor was suffering from jaundice and dropsy, and was much broken in health. He died on July 28, 1750. In a letter of Mr. Montagu’s, dated August 4, from London, he says—

“This morning at Vaillante’s the bookseller, I met Dr. Green,[491] the Regius Professor, who told me the[276] Friday before his death Dr. Middleton sent for Dr. Plumtree, told him he thought he had but a very short time to live, desired him freely to tell him his opinion, which from the knowledge he had of him, he hoped he would make no scruple to do, upon which the Professor told him he thought he could live but a few hours; then he asked the Professor if from his pulse he thought his death would be easy, who answered that he did. He further told the Professor he had taken Dr. Heberden’s[492] medicines till he found they did him no good, his case being out of the Power of Physick. Dr. Green said he had left his niece an annuity, but did not say what, nor any further about his will. He was buried at St. Michael’s, Cambridge.”

[490] Née Priscilla Pym, wife of 2nd Baron Romney.

[491] Dr. John Green, born 1706, died 1779; afterwards Bishop of Lincoln.

[492] Dr. William Heberden, born 1710, died 1801; physician and author.

Mrs. Montagu mourned sincerely for one who had acted as a grandfather, a godfather, and an instructor to her.


Of a splendid letter she wrote to Mr. Montagu on the return of the anniversary of her wedding-day, August 5, only a few sentences can be inserted from its length.

My Dearest,

“There is not any day in which you have not a right to my most grateful acknowledgments, but there is not any day that so particularly demands them as the fifth of August, when you made me your friend and companion, and gave me so near an alliance to your virtues and fortune, all so superior to what I could expect. I can truly assure you my affection and esteem for you, and happiness in you have increased every day. I am not sensible there can be any further progress or addition made, but as I owe every happiness to you, each day’s felicity adds to my obligation, and I hope you think what does so increase my gratitude for eight[277] years’ happiness in a state so often wretched, inexpressible thanks are due. May we enjoy many years together of this happy society, but if I should be taken from you, let the consciousness of having been the occasion of my enjoying more happiness in a short life than is the lot of thousands in a long one, take out the sting of grief, and teach you to think of me with a tender but not painful remembrance....” She signs—

“With heart and hand your grateful,
affectionate, faithful and obedient Wife,
E. Montagu.”

At Tunbridge this year Mrs. Montagu first became acquainted with Mrs. Boscawen, wife of Admiral Boscawen; she describes her as “a very sensible, lively, ingenious woman, and she seems to have good moral qualities. We often pass the evening together, partly in conversation, partly in reading.” Mrs. Boscawen’s maiden name was Frances Glanville; she had married Edward Boscawen, second son of 1st Viscount Falmouth, in 1742. As Dorothy Boscawen, aunt to the Admiral, married Sir Philip Medows, the families were already connected.

Mrs. Medows writes to Mrs. Montagu, “I think of Mrs. Boscawen as you do, I expect you should be fond of the Admiral,[493] his cool courage, his firmness, good nature, diligence and regularity, with his strong sense and good head, make a great character.”

[493] Admiral the Hon. Edward Boscawen, born 1711, died 1761.


Sir Dudley and Lady Ryder, Lady Townsend, and Lady Robinson, wife of “Short” Sir Thomas Robinson,[494] were amongst the company. A Mr. Samuel Torriano also appears as a friend of Mrs. Montagu’s. He tries to find her a cottage near London, as she fancies her health would be better in the country, and yet not so far from [278]London as Sandleford, during the winter session when Mr. Montagu would have to be in London. The reception rooms in Hill Street were to be decorated in the early spring. Hearing of a cottage at West Wickham, near Croydon, Mrs. Montagu went to see it, and made her first acquaintance with Mr. Gilbert West.[495] He was the son of the Rev. Dr. Richard West by Maria, daughter of Sir Richard Temple, of Stowe. He married in 1729 Catherine Bartlett, by whom he had an only son, Richard. With them lived Miss Maria West,[496] his sister; his mother had remarried Lord John Langham. West was a cousin of Mr. Botham’s, also of Mr. Lyttelton, afterwards Sir George Lyttelton. Writing to Mrs. Boscawen, Mrs. Montagu says—

“I saw at Wickham the miracle of the Moral World, a Christian Poet, an humble philosopher, a great genius, without contempt of those who have none.... I am charmed with Mrs. West, and approve all you say of her. She is neither a tenth muse, nor a fourth grace, but she is better than all put together. I believe it might truly be said of her—

“‘That she always speaks her thought,
And always thinks the very thing she ought.’

Her vivacity, easiness of behaviour and good sense delight me.

“Mr. West has been so good as to find out a cottage for me. The pleasure of being near Mr. West gets the better of all considerations in regard to the situation of my cottage. I hope it will be an inducement to you to visit my hermitage, where you shall be entertained with the wholesome fare of brown bread, sincerity and red cow’s milk, which afford good nourishment to the mind and body.”

[494] Afterwards Lord Grantham.

[495] Born 1706, died April, 1756. Author and poet; translator of Odes of Pindar, etc.

[496] Maria West, afterwards wife of 1st Viscount Bridport.



On October 16 she writes, “The cruel owner of the house near Mr. West makes unreasonable demands, we are going to treat for one about two miles from him, which Mrs. West and he went with me to see yesterday.” She laments it is so far from the Wests. This house was at Hayes in Kent, or, as it is frequently spelt in the letters, “Heyes.” Mrs. Montagu continues—

“I hear there is a great strife and contention between Mr. Barry[497] and Garrick, each acting the part of Romeo[498] every night, and that the ladies think the first makes the best lover, by which one may learn they think beauty a better qualification than sense in that character, for Barry always seems to betray the fool in all the parts he appears in.... The Duke of Ancaster[499] is going to take unto wife the daughter of Mr. Panton;[500] the match is at last agreed upon, and coaches and jewels and horses and servants and houses and clothes and all the fine things with which Hymen now embroiders his saffron robe, are bespoken....

“Mr. Ramsay[501] was so good as to call on us, and Mr. Montagu and I went to his house, where we had the pleasure to see some admirable pictures.”

[497] Spranger Barry, born 1719, died 1777; celebrated Irish actor.

[498] Barry at Covent Garden, and Garrick at Drury Lane.

[499] Peregrine, 3rd Duke of Ancaster.

[500] Mr. Panton was Master of the King’s Racers.

[501] Allan Ramsay, born 1709, died 1784. Eminent portrait painter; son of the poet.

These letters are addressed to Hatchlands, Admiral Boscawen’s place near Guildford.


In a letter to Sarah at this period, Mrs. Montagu mentioned the appointment of her brother Robert to a Madras and China voyage: “I rejoice in the Captain’s appointed voyage to Madras and China, it is reckoned a profitable and healthful voyage, and all we ask for our King is ‘in health and wealth long to live.’” She then [280]proceeds to comment on some white satin flounces Sarah wished embroidered in China.

“As you design them to be in white, they need only have the outline drawn on one flounce and on the sleeves and robing. Mrs. Marsh is the best contriver of flounces: she did me a white lutestring very prettily, this summer’s gown is to be cut in the same manner, but not pinked.... All people are buying cloaths for the Birthday ... the prices are most unreasonable, 17 and 18 shillings a yard for Damask, and six and twenty for flowered silks of an ordinary appearance.”

In November Sarah Robinson writes to her sister as to her lover’s appointment at Court—

“Mr. Scott[502] is appointed to have the education of Prince George.[503] I can’t give this employment any name, for none but the King has a right to appoint any one over the young Princes under the title of governor or Preceptor; the salary I cannot tell you, it being not yet determined. His Royal Highness[504] has left it to Mr. Scott’s friends to name whatever they think proper, and has behaved in the handsomest manner imaginable. He was recommended to the Prince for this place by a great number of people, many of whom had very little personal——” (the end of the letter is lost).

[502] He was made sub-preceptor.

[503] George III., then twelve years old.

[504] Frederick, Prince of Wales, father of Prince George.


Probably the Duchess of Portland may have been one, as she sided with Sarah in the affair, telling Mrs. Montagu that she might wish to obey her in all other respects, but could not control her affections. Lord Bolingbroke is said to have recommended him through Lord Bathurst. The ill-starred marriage took place probably at the commencement of 1751, but no letters[281] are left recording it. On November 18 the Dowager Duchess of Chandos died at Shaw House, near Newbury, and in a letter to Miss Anstey is thus noticed—

“A little before I went to London I lost my very good neighbour, the Duchess of Chandos, a stroke of the palsy carried her off in a few days: her bodily pains were great, but her mind felt the serenity that gilds the evening of a virtuous life. She quitted the world with that decent fare-well which people take of it, who rather consider it as a place in which they are to impart good than to enjoy it. Her character has made a great impression on me, as I think her a rare instance that age could not make conceited and stiff, nor retirement discontented, nor virtue inflexible and severe.”

To Mrs. Donnellan, on December 30, Mrs. Montagu says, “The Duchess of Chandos is greatly missed by the poor this rigorous season.”

In these two letters the following books and pamphlets are recommended, “An Occasional Letter,” said to be Lord Bolingbroke’s;[505] the King of Prussia’s “Memoires pour servir à L’Histoire de la Maison de Brandenbourg,” and “Sully’s Memoires.”

[505] Viscount Bolingbroke, born 1678, died 1751; philosopher and statesman.


January, 1751, finds Mrs. Montagu in London, and Mr. Montagu at Sandleford Priory, engaged in business affairs. Mrs. Montagu, on January 7, writes to him—

My Dearest,

“I am glad you are so far tired of your monastic life as to think of returning to the secular state of a husband and a member of Parliament. I believe our predecessors in the cowl had their particular kinds of volupté which silence, secresy and peace might much enhance and recommend; but to those who have been[282] used to the bustle and business of life such pleasures want vivacity. Boileau makes a man who goes to visit the Chantre just before dinner observe the luxury of a prebendal table. Says he—

“‘Il voit la nappe mise,
Admire le bel ordre, et reconnait l’Eglise.’

I have sat so constantly in Lady Sandwich’s chimney corner, I can give you little account of the world.”

To which Mr. Montagu rejoins, “I am much obliged to you for the kind impatience you show at my stay here; in a few days I now hope to convince you that however unworthy of either state, I have deserted neither.” He was accompanied to London by Captain Robinson.

From a letter of Mr. Gilbert West’s of May 16, 1751, we learn that Mrs. Montagu, though wishing to be near London and yet not in it, did not take up her temporary residence at Hayes till then. In it he says, “I have agreed with a farmer at Wickham to fetch your goods at the price of 15 shillings: the waggon will be in Hill Street to-morrow morning early.” He desires her to breakfast and dine at West Wickham with him, and signs himself, “Dear Madam, your loving cousin to command till death, G. W.”


In the collection of letters published by her nephew, Matthew Robinson, 4th Baron Rokeby, he says he cannot remember the reason why West and Mrs. Montagu called each other cousins, but he had forgotten his cousinship to the Bothams, the beloved cousins of his aunt, Mrs. Montagu. “The cousinhood” was also the favourite term of the whole set of Wests, Pitts, and Lytteltons, all much connected in marriage and extreme intimacy.

Gilbert West was at this period forty-five years of[283] age only, but even then a perfect martyr to gout. Amongst his poems and translations was Lucian’s “Triumph of the Gout,” every line of which he could painfully indorse. In his “Lives of the Poets” Dr. Johnson[506] brackets him with Crashaw under “the two venerable names of Poet and Saint.” He was often visited by Lyttelton and Pitt, “who, when they were weary of faction and debates, used at Wickham to find books and quiet, a decent table and literary conversation.”

[506] Vide Johnson’s “Lives of the Poets.”

There may still be seen at Wickham a walk made by Pitt, and at Wickham, Lyttelton received that conviction which produced his “Dissertation on Saint Paul.” The same spirit of cheerful and benign religion was now to exercise a large influence on Elizabeth Montagu, to strengthen her already religious turn of mind, and to enable her in the future, though living in the great world of fashion and rank, and the idol of society, to keep that sacred, secret lamp of spirituality not of this world alight.


The family circle at the Wests was a happy one; his wife and sister adored him, and he was the magnet that attracted all to him. He had a great sense of humour and a pretty taste for decorating, as the many letters upon the subject of the adornment of the Hill Street rooms show; Mrs. Montagu took his advice in every point from this time till his death in 1756. At the period I am now writing of he was far from well off, though expecting promotion, with just reason, having been a faithful servant to the King, and secretary to Lord Townshend during his period of office as Secretary of State.


Amongst the friends of the Wests, Mrs. Montagu now made acquaintance with Mr. R. Berenger,[507] called[284] by Mrs. West “the little Marquis.” He was the son of Moses Beranger and Penelope Temple, and was therefore related on the maternal side to West. He afterwards became “Gentleman of the Horse” to George III. He wrote a book called the “History and Art of Horsemanship.” He was famous for his charm in social life. Hannah More called him “everybody’s favourite, all chivalry, blank verse and anecdote,” and Dr. Johnson dubbed him “the Standard of true Elegance.” He was a great friend of the Garricks. Another fresh acquaintance was William Henry Lyttelton, brother of Sir George (afterwards Lord) Westcote.

[507] R. Berenger, born 1720, died 1782.

At some early period of this year Sarah Robinson became the wife of George Lewis Scott, but no date is recorded, and no letters concerning the marriage remain. Only on June 9, when Mrs. Montagu was making her yearly visit to Tunbridge Wells in company with Lady Romney, she writes to her husband at Sandleford to say she had arrived safely, “Mrs. Scott and the Captain,” whose departure to China had been delayed, seeing her off. From other letters it appears the Scotts, accompanied by Lady Barbara Montagu, took up their abode in Leicester Fields, now Leicester Square, doubtless to be close to Leicester House, where, with their mother, the widowed Princess of Wales,[508] Scott’s royal pupils dwelt.

[508] Frederick, Prince of Wales, died March 31, 1751.

At Tunbridge Mrs. Montagu joined Mr. and Mrs. West and their son, and lodged in the same house. At Tunbridge were Sir George Lyttelton, his brother the Dean, the famous Mr. Garrick, the Bishop of London, etc. Then she wrote—


“Monsieur[509] and Madame Mirepoix are come to pass a few days here, but I imagine they will soon be tired of us. The Justices of Peace have done great service to the imprudent part of our company by prohibiting gaming, and though you may suppose I do not number myself among them, I feel my obligations to them on account of the servants, who have one temptation less to be idle and bad.”

[509] The French ambassador and his wife. She was a daughter of the Princesse de Craon.

She then adds grateful words to her husband, who had written to say he had made a fresh will, and in her favour. Mr. Montagu was then in London, but on the eve of going north to attend to his own estates in Yorkshire, and the complicated business of regulating Mr. Rogers’ affairs in Northumberland. In this letter he says—

“I this day, though I could ill spare the time, dined in Leicester Fields” (with the Scotts). “Being in the city I was informed by Dr. Middleton’s bookseller that Mrs. Middleton has had the good luck to sell Hildersham for 2000 guineas, it cost the Doctor, he said, £1600, besides what he lay’d out in building, so that if there should be some loss it cannot be much.”


Hildersham was some miles from Cambridge. Here Gray, the poet, loved to visit Conyers Middleton, and improved his friendship with William Robinson, who was preparing for Holy Orders, and whom Gray always called the “Reverend Billy.”

On July 23 Mr. Montagu writes from Huntingdon—

“I lay last night at Cambridge. I dined with Mrs. Middleton in company with your brother, and the evening I spent with the Master of Clare Hall. Mrs. Middleton indulged me with the sight of some letters that passed between the Doctor and a great man[510] who formerly had a seat not far from Cambridge, and who is no more.... She very obligingly of herself promised[286] your brother all the Doctor’s Sermons which she had in her custody, and promised also to keep it secret, which I think you and I should also do, even from the brotherhood.... The races are to continue 4 days....

“I desire when wheatears are plenty and you send any to your friends in London, you would send some to Monsieur de Moivre at Pons Coffee House in Cecil Court in St. Martin’s Lane, for I think he longs to taste them.”

[510] Probably the 1st Earl of Godolphin, who lived at Gog Magog, near Cambridge.


Mrs. Montagu wishing to hear about the Huntingdon races, he says—

“I can tell you little about the races, having no concern in the bets, but I heard Lord Trentham had lost £1000, Captain William Montagu £200. Lord Sandwich’s horse won a heat, but he did not tell me how much he won.

“At the ball all the family of the Naylors were there, with Captain William Montagu’s lady, who danced country dances. Miss Maria Naylor danced both kind of dances, and was, I think, the lady that outshone all the rest. Her head dress was new and particular, and became her very well, and gave her the air of a shepherdess.... There was Mrs. Apreece and Mrs. Alstone, who married my relation with a fortune of £4000, and Miss Ascham, etc. The distinguished amongst the men besides the Prince of Baden, and the Marquis de Bellegarde, were the Duke of Kingston,[511] Lord Montfort,[512] Lord Onslow,[513] Lord Goring,[514] Lord March,[515] Lord Eggletone,[516] Mr. Alstone and Mr. Apreece. The members both of the county and town. Mr. Wortley from the Huntingdon races set out for those of Reading.”

[511] The 2nd Duke.

[512] 1st Baron Montfort, of Horseheath.

[513] 3rd Baron Onslow.

[514] Viscount Goring, a Jacobite Viscount.

[515] 3rd Earl of March, afterwards Duke of Queensberry. “Old Q.”

[516] 10th Earl of Eglintown.

This was young Edward Wortley Montagu.


Mrs. Montagu writes to say her father had arrived at Tunbridge in great spirits with a party of five, and she was, she adds, much better.

“I have a great appetite. I think I shall be able to eat for a wager, with my brother-in-law.[517] I am glad Miss Maria Naylor had an opportunity of shining in her proper sphere, the county of Huntingdon. Why should the Gunnings[518] of universal empire drive her from her little native land? Do they want to add the epithet of great to their names? Indeed I do not know why Gunning the great should not sound as well as Alexander the Great. I am afraid the eldest Miss Naylor is much dejected at the infidelity of our cousin Wortley, who is greatly enamoured of little Miss Ashe. All collectors of natural curiosities love something of every species. Mr. Wortley has had a passion for all sorts and sizes of women. Miss Ashe is a sort of middle species between a woman and a fairy, and by her rarity worthy to be added even to so large a collection of amours.”

[517] George Lewis Scott.

[518] The celebrated Irish beauties, afterwards one Countess of Coventry, the other Duchess of Hamilton and Argyll.


Miss Ashe, or the “Pollard Ashe,” as Walpole called her, eloped with Edward Wortley Montagu in the autumn of 1751. He was soon after this put in prison with a Mr. Taafe in France for robbing or cheating a Jew. As he was married before, though separated from his wife, he could not marry Miss Ashe. She afterwards married a Mr. Falconer, R.N.

It was in this year Horace Walpole had written to Sir Horace Mann—

“Our greatest miracle is Lady Mary Wortley’s son whose adventures have made so much noise, his parts are not proportionate, but his expense is incredible. His father scarce allows him anything, yet he plays, dresses, diamonds himself, even to distinct shoe buckles[288] for a frock, and has more snuff-boxes than would suffice a Chinese idol with an hundred noses. But the most curious part of his dress, which he has brought from Paris, is an iron wig; you literally would not know it from hair. I believe it is on this account that the Royal Society have just chosen him of their body.”

Mrs. Montagu wrote the description of “our cousin’s adventures,” and after several comments on Wortley’s conduct, she says, “Poor Miss Ashe weeps like the forsaken Ariadne on a foreign shore.”

The company at Tunbridge Wells had been increased by the Duke and Duchess of Newcastle, the Duchess of Norfolk, and, Mrs. Montagu writes, “we expect those goddesses called the Gunnings and Sir Thomas Robinson.... My Father is very gay, but complains he never saw the place so dull. I never said so to those about me, lest they should say to me as Swift to the fat man who complained of a crowd, ‘Friend, you make the very crowd you blame!’ Mr. West reads to us in the evening, and the wit of the last age supplies us when we do not meet with any in this.”


At this period Mrs. Percival (Anne Donnellan’s mother) died; she had long been in bad health. Dr. Shaw, the celebrated traveller, died also, and Mrs. Montagu comments thus on August 29 on the two events to her husband, who was then at Newcastle—

“As to poor Mrs. Percival I hailed her voyage to the realms of rest: the last page of life is commonly a blank. But for poor Shaw,[519] he might have lived and laughed and talked of the Deluge and collected cockle shells many years longer. The death of those we esteem afflicts us; we are shocked at the death of those we have laughed[520] at and laughed with, as we never[289] looked upon them in so serious a light as to suppose so sad an event could happen to them. I would deck his tomb with emblems of all the wonders of the land and deep; crocodiles should weep and tigers howl; every shell should become vocal; sea-weed should bloom immortal on his tomb, and moss, though petrified, lie lightly on his breast. What signify voyages? What signifies learning! Hebrew Professor! Traveller to Memphis! Sole witness living of the present state of the Ptolemies! Must all these glories sink into oblivion? How gloriously had he been interred had he died in the perilous pass of the Pyramids, and succeeded Mark Anthony in the bed of Cleopatra! I hope the poor man will have the satisfaction of being embalmed in the true Egyptian manner, for the more like a mummy his body be made, the more it will joy his gentle ghost. Nature has lost the inventory of all works in losing Shaw, for he knew every plant from the Hyssop to the Cedar of Lebanon, and every animal from the pismire to the whale. I am afraid his sister Sarah must again dust down those cobwebs she has been taught to venerate, and kill the moths in a stuff turban, though it should have a horn more or a horn less.”

[519] Dr. Thomas Shaw; traveller, antiquary, and naturalist.

[520] In former letters his merry and loud laughter in the Bullstrode circle is commented on.

Another Dr. Shaw is frequently mentioned as a chief physician at Tunbridge Wells, but whether he was a relation of the archæologian and naturalist, I have not been able to ascertain.

In a letter from Newcastle of September 1, Mr. Montagu, who with his steward, Mr. Carter, was regulating the business of his cousin, Mr. Rogers, mentions Denton Hall[521] for the first time, which was eventually to become one of his residences.

[521] Note at the end of this work on Denton Hall.

“Yesterday Mr. Carter and I rid to Denton, which is about 3 miles from Newcastle. We first viewed the house which is a good deal worse than I thought, and[290] indeed so bad that it would not be justifiable to lay out any money upon it. The rooms on the second floor are pretty good, and served the family when they went there, but if ever I should be so happy as to have your company in these parts, if these should be thought fit I would hope it would be no difficult matter to find you some better accommodation. This next week I propose to go to a Farm of Mr. R.’s at Jarrow, about ten miles from Newcastle, and to Monk Seaton, where he has another. I never have yet been at either of them.”


Amongst his other property Mr. Rogers owned much in coal mines, some of them entirely his own, others in which, with the Claverings, Mr. Bowes, the Bishop of Durham, etc., he owned a share. Mr. Montagu was employing a Mr. Newton to value these—a complicated, unfair business. Owing to Mr. Rogers’ lunacy, much advantage had been taken by dishonest stewards and coal merchants, too long and complicated for description in these pages. On September 8 Mr. Montagu writes—

“On Friday last I was at a farm one half whereof belongs to Mr. Rogers, the other to Sir Thomas Clavering, called Jarrow, not far from Tynemouth, it is in the parish where the Venerable Bede formerly practised. Upon a Key this estate is obliged to contribute to for the repair of all the Ships that come to this port, they unload their ballast, which in length of time is become an incredible heap. This estate is let at £107 10s. per ann. To-morrow we go to Ravensworth, after which, when we shall have visited Seaton and Rudchester, we shall have seen all Mr. R.’s territories.”


In the next letter he says—

“North Seaton lies upon the sea, consists of very good land with coal under, and has a key and a granary for corn and some quarrys of stone. The other estate[291] of Rudchester is that through which the Carlisle Road is to pass, and which with all the clamour of the tenants will, as we think, be rather a benefit than hurt to the estate. It is thought to have a good deal of good coal in it, and but a very little way from the river Tyne, and will be very valuable if ever the river should be made navigable so high up as Mr. Carter thinks it may be in twenty years’ time.”

Mr. Montagu also adds that he and Mr. Carter have discovered that Mr. Rogers owned two-thirds of a colliery at West Denton, of which they had not known.

On September 13 a son was born to the Dauphin[522] of France, and Mrs. Montagu writes on the 15th—

[522] Louis, Duke of Burgundy, son of the Dauphin.

“I hear Monsieur Mirepoix intends the town fine illuminations and masquerades on the birth of the Dauphin. I believe every miserable peasant in France has great joy in the birth of one who is to be his future tyrant. Strange infatuation!... I wish the English loved their Island as well as the French do their ‘Monarque.’”[523]

[523] Louis XV.

On the 22nd Mrs. Montagu writes to say she is packing up for London, and she begs her husband, who is thinking of moving southward, not to travel with a single servant, as “every newspaper is filled with accounts of robbery.” She congratulates him “on having so well considered and settled Mr. Rogers’ affairs. It appears a noble estate, and I hope to see it in your possession who would nobly enjoy it.”

Matthew Robinson had been in Yorkshire, and thence travelled to Scotland, then little visited. Mrs. Montagu says—

“I suppose my brother Robinson is by this time returning to the known world. I expect to hear he[292] has travelled to the extremity of Scotland, for he is a man of infinite curiosity, and would have knowledge at no entrance quite shut out.”

To this her husband rejoins, “Whenever I come near London I will hire a guard, and if I can give you sufficient notice shall not be sorry to be met by Brunton....” He says he has not heard of Brother Robinson since he dined with him. “If he has gone to Scotland, I have lately read in a book concerning the Rebellion, that barbarous part of our island may in good weather be seen with pleasure!” In return, his wife writes from London that she is going to Hayes “to enjoy quiet and my books till you arrive. I take Mrs. Isted with me.” Mrs. Isted was a poor lady who acted as housekeeper to Mrs. Montagu, and had seen better days.

The Scotts had been dining with her. They were then living at Chelsea, as London did not suit Sarah’s delicate health. A scheme of education for the young princes had been drawn up and submitted to the King, who was much pleased with it. It was also rumoured he was to take them to Hanover next year, “a step which will not be popular.”


“Dr. Middleton’s works are to be printed by the booksellers by subscription. Mrs. Middleton sold the copies for £300: it seems to me an insolence in the booksellers that should not be encouraged. I should never grudge the guinea I could spare to a man of genius, but to a set of wretches that live by other people’s wits, I am not so willing to part with that gold which the wise man allows to be better than anything except wisdom. It is strange malice in Apollo to make poor authors and rich booksellers, he should give his upper servants the best wages.”

From Hayes, on September 30, she writes—


“I am so well in health that I scarce know myself, and I think I am a little like the humorous Lieutenant that would run no hazards when he was well, though he was prodigal of life when he had a pain in his side. I am very desirous to preserve this comfortable state of health, and also my comely, plump and jolly condition; my face is no longer a memento mori. I am like one of the goddess Hebe’s elder sisters, ‘Not ever fair and young, but not so wan and decayed as of late.’” She adds, “Lady Bab and my sister design to visit my solitude in a few days. She is much better for country air, but they do not enjoy many rural pleasures at Chelsea, it is too near London.”


Mrs. Donnellan, having let her house to Lord Holderness, was preparing to go to Ireland to visit Dr. and Mrs. Delany at Delville, and her relations. She was staying with her friends the Southwells, at King’s Weston, and as her letters throw light on the then mode of travelling, I insert portions—

“Delville, near Dublin, October 7.

My dear Mrs. Montagu,

“I am sure will be pleased to hear I am got safe to the end of my journeys and voyage, and am with my good friend Mrs. Delany resting myself after a good deal of fatigue. I left London as I told you I should, as I informed you by a letter from King’s Weston, which I hope you got. Mr. Leslie, the gentleman who took the charge of conducting me to Ireland, came at the time appointed, but we heard so bad an account of the cross roads between Bristol and Chester that we were very near setting out again for London, and going from thence to Chester. However, I plucked up courage, and as my good friends would do everything to accommodate me, we set out on Thursday sen’night with Mr. Southwell’s coach, two post-chaises and Mr. Southwell’s groom and double horse,[524] so that we had variety enough. The[294] road for the greatest part to Gloucester was so bad I rid most of it, but hearing it would rather mend I sent back the coach, and between the chaise and the horse got to Chester and on to Park Gate in five days, and Mr. Leslie my companion, being a very sensible, polite travelled man, made the journey as agreeable as such a journey could be. We found Lord and Lady Fitzwilliams and many more waiting at Park Gate for the King’s Yacht, but as I hate a crowded ship and am not a coward, I resolved not to wait, and the wind being fair, we hired a small ship for ten guineas and set sail. The next morning at six o’clock and with the finest weather imaginable made our passage and landed in Dublin in 30 hours. The Bishop of Clogher, who had been enquiring for me the morning tide, came to the house when I was landed, with his usual politeness, and carried me to their house, and as it was too late to come here, they kept me that night, and the next day Mrs. Delany came and brought me here, where I am extremely happy, the most polite and hearty welcome, a large and convenient house, sweet gardens and a manner of living quite to my sober taste. Our only disturbance are visitors: we had yesterday seven coaches and six, mostly my own relations, my brother, sister, nephews and nieces.”

[524] Means a horse trained to carry a pillion.


On October 31 there is a letter dated from London to Mr. Gilbert West. In this Mrs. Montagu is forwarding him patterns of all kinds of dove-coloured paper from Mr. Bromedge’s shop, and Mr. Linnell was sending a marble chimney-piece for West’s big room at Wickham. She says—

“Poor Dr. Courayer notified to me that he was ill of a sore throat, and could not come to visit me, though he wanted to see me. I went to him, I was obliged to pass through all the gay vanities of Mrs. Chenevix,[525] and then ascend a most steep and difficult staircase to get at[295] the little Philosopher: this way to wisdom through the vanities and splendid toys of the world might be prettily allegorized by the pen of the great Bunyan; the good man himself to an emblematizeing genius would have afforded an ample subject; his head was enfoncé in a cap of the warmest beaver, made still more respectable by a gold orrace, ‘a wondrous hieroglyphick robe he wore,’ in which was portrayed all the attributes of the god Fo, with the arms and delineaments of the Cham of Tartary.... I began to consider him as the best piece of Chinese furniture I had ever seen, and could hardly forbear offering him a place on my chimney-piece. He asked much after your health.... There has been a terrible fracas in the court of the grand Monarque, the people, generally credulous, have strangely taken it into their heads that the Duke of Burgundy is not legitimate, and instead of acclamations and huzzas, murmurs and sighs have echo’d through the streets, on the days the feasts were made for the birth of this child; besides this there was conveyed into the cradle some gunpowder and a match with an epigram expressing that they would serve to blow up the pretended Duke of Burgundy. Upon his Majesty hearing this, the gouvernante, sub-gouvernante, women of the bedchamber, even to the toothless pap tasters, were all sent to the Bastille, one of the women who said she saw a hand reach over a screen to throw a paper into the cradle is since dead. A little knowledge is allowed to be a dangerous thing; had the lady been able to inform his Majesty at once who threw the paper, she had been safe, but it is supposed the hand that threw it, lest she should discover more, gave her a dose that has silenced her for ever....

“The Duke and Duchess of Portland and Lord Titchfield dined with us to-day, and staid till eight o’clock; her grace inquired after you.”

[525] Famous shop for bric-à-brac and toys.


The last letter of the year is on December 17, to Mr. West, from Sandleford. From this it appears Mrs.[296] Montagu was extremely unwell, but anxious for the health of Mr. West, who had had one of his periodical gout attacks, which had rendered his hands temporarily incapable of use. In this mention of Mr. Hooke is made. Mr. Nathaniel Hooke[526] wrote a “History of Rome,” and other works. He assisted the old Duchess of Marlborough to write her “Memoirs of her Life,” for which she gave him £5000. He was a Roman Catholic, a disciple of Fenelon’s, and brought a Catholic priest to Pope on his death-bed. “Pray have you made a good Protestant of Mr. Hooke? If you cure heresy and schism, should you not have your doctor’s degree in divinity rather than law?”

[526] Died in 1763.



Illustration: Gilbert West


Volume II

Frontispiece: Mrs. Montagu

Frances Reynolds pinx.ᵗ C. Townley sculp

Mrs. Montagu
Emery Walker Ph. Sc.


1720 TO 1761




Publisher’s colophon





Decorative line
List of Illustrations ix
Rev. William Robinson — Botham and Bishop Sherlock — Death of Dr. Chesilden — The Scott separation — South Lodge, Enfield — “Chinese pomp” — A letter to Edward Montagu — Mount Morris — Archibald Bower — “Madonna” — Inoculation — Books to read — History of the Popes — G. L. Scott — The Delany lawsuit — Turkey Pye — The joyous Berenger — Death of Bishop Berkeley — A woman in vapours — Mrs. Laurence Sterne — Lady Bute’s Assembly — A perfect woman — Pitt’s insomnia — Rent of lodgings — The Penshurst pictures — Trinity College, Cambridge, Library — Gibside — Stonelands — “Minouets” — Beau Nash — Pitt at Hayes — The new post-chaise — Bullstrode menagerie — Richardson’s Sir Charles Grandison — Lucian’s Triumph of the Gout — Schoolgirls’ bills — Death of Pelham — “Tom” Lyttelton — West appointed to Chelsea Hospital — Elizabeth Canning — Molière’s Precieuses Ridicules — Hateley the artist — Lillingston Dayrell — History of Bath — Pitt’s engagement and marriage — Bishop Warburton and Bolingbroke — Pitt’s honeymoon — “Gossip” Joan — Nathaniel Hooke 1–66
Lord Montfort’s suicide — Mrs. Pococke — Lord Baltimore’s house — Mr. Bower’s cottage — Torriano’s marriage — Hatchlands — Sheep Leas — Painshill — Reading — Sarah Scott’s daily life — The calm, meek Miss Pococke — The Garrett Wellesleys — Fears of French invasion — Garrick at Drury Lane — Earthquake at Lisbon — Death of West — Wortley Montagu’s pious pamphlet — Captain Robert Robinson’s death — Byng — David Hume — Morris Robinson’s marriage — The eccentric Matthew Robinson — Pitt buys Hayes house — Viscount Pitt’s birth — Lyttelton a peer — The famous bas bleu assemblies — Emin — Windsor [vi]election riot — Stillingfleet — Culham Court — George Stevens — Battle of Hastenbeck — The Severn and Wye — Elizabeth Wilmot — Battle of Kollin — A description of Emin — “Is got pure well” — The Mordaunt Expedition — Dr. Monsey — Admiral and Mrs. Boscawen — Battle of Rosbach 67–122
The Delany trial — Death of Dr. Clayton — Emin applies to Pitt — The attack on St. Malo — Death and will of John Rogers — The Garricks — Letters to Mrs. Elizabeth Carter (passim) — Lyttelton and Monsey — The Louisburg blockade — Correspondence with Lyttelton (passim) — Molly West’s marriage — Newcastle — Denton Hall — Lumley Castle — Hampton Court, Herefordshire — Battle of Zorndorff — Emin on Frederick the Great — The eau de luce disaster — Mrs. Garrick — Current price of food — Athenian Stuart — Viper broth — “Brusher” Mills the snake-catcher — Illness of George II. — Young Mr. Pitt — The Session opened — Monsey’s doggerel — Admiral Boscawen thanked by Parliament — Lady Emily Butler — Helvetius’ De l’Esprit — Attempted assassination of King of Portugal — Lyttelton’s History of Henry II. — Burke’s Sublime and Beautiful — Dr. Johnson — Emin off to Armenia — Calves Pluck water — Harleyford — Inverary Castle — Alnwick — York — Glamis Castle — Scotch characteristics — Burke’s appeal for Madrid Consulship — Quebec taken — Bonus, the picture-cleaner — The Laurence Sternes 123–177
Correspondence with Lyttelton (passim) — Lord Bath — The Lisbon Embassy — Dialogues of the Dead — Lord Chesterfield — Earl Ferrers executed — William Robinson’s marriage — Tunbridge Wells — The Stanley family — Ned, the groom — Lord Bath’s character — Lord Mansfield — “Montagu’s main” — Sophocles — Hagley House rebuilt — Dr. Monsey’s ways — Allan Ramsay, portrait painter — Letter to Duchess of Portland — Macpherson’s Highland Poems — Bishop Sherlock’s letter — Dr. Young — George Bowes’ funeral — Miss Bowes — Greek Plays and Shakespeare — Green tea and snuff — Death of George II. — George III. king — George II.’s will — Floods at Newark — A great lady’s avarice — The King’s first speech — Attendance at Court — A fashionable dentist — A languid campaign — Bishop Sherlock’s letter to the King — Billets doux — Chesterfield’s bon mot — An impetuous lover of fourscore — Monsey’s fresh doggerel — George Colman the elder 178–227
[vii]Admiral Boscawen’s illness and death — Wortley Montagu’s death — “Montagu Minerva” — Voltaire’s Tancred — Macpherson’s Fingal — Lord Bath’s gift to Mrs. Carter — Dr. Young’s letters — Another Dialogue of the Dead — An anonymous letter — the British Museum — A country gentlewoman — Gesner’s Mort d’Abel — Lord Bath’s character — The future queen — Mrs. Montagu’s advice to Tom Lyttelton — Monsey’s bloom-coloured coat — Dr. Young’s Resignation — Lord Bath’s portrait — The Coronation — Lady Pomfret — Lord Bath at Sandleford — Position of Ministers — An act of humility — Widows’ weeds — The Bas-Bleus and shells — Laurence Sterne 228–273
“Long” Sir Thomas Robinson 275
Sandleford Priory, Berks 278
Denton Hall, near Newcastle-on-Tyne, Northumberland 281
Index 283



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Mrs. Montagu Frontispiece
From the engraved portrait by C. Townley, after Frances Reynolds, in the possession of Mr. A. M. Broadley. (Photogravure.)
Tea and Coffee in the Bath-room 38
From the drawing by John Nixon, in the possession of Mr. A. M. Broadley.
The Circus, at Bath 40
From a drawing by Thomas Malton, in the possession of Mr. A. M. Broadley.
The King’s Bath, at Bath 60
From a drawing by Thomas Rowlandson, in the possession of Mr. A. M. Broadley.
Philip, Fourth Earl of Chesterfield 64
From the picture by William Hoare, R.A., in the National Portrait Gallery. (Photogravure.)
David and Mrs. Garrick 82
From the picture by William Hogarth, in the possession of His Majesty The King. (Photogravure.)
George, Lord Lyttelton 96
From a picture by (unknown), in the National Portrait Gallery.
Mrs. Mary Delany 106
From the picture by John Opie, R.A., in the National Portrait Gallery.
Allerthorpe Hall, Yorkshire 120
Conyers Middleton 120
From the mezzotint by Faber, after the picture by Eccardt, 1746. (Photogravure.)
Benjamin Stillingfleet 128
From an engraving by V. Green, after Zoffany.
Mrs. Elizabeth Carter 160
From the picture by Sir Thomas Lawrence, P.R.A.
Dr. Samuel Johnson 164
From the picture painted for Topham Beauclerk by Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A., in the possession of Mr. A. H. Hallam Murray.
Edmund Burke 170
From the picture by Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A., in the National Portrait Gallery.
Dr. Edward Young 256
From the picture by (unknown), in the National Portrait Gallery.
William Pulteney, First Earl of Bath 258
From a picture by Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A., 1761, in the National Portrait Gallery. (Photogravure.)
Laurence Sterne 272
After the picture by Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A., in the possession of The Marquess of Lansdowne. (Photogravure.)




Decorative line



[1]January 1, 1752, an interchange of letters and compliments from the Wests and Mrs. Montagu take place. Mrs. West sends a huge turkey and ham pie, half for Mrs. Montagu, half for Temple West, Gilbert’s brother. Mr. Pitt, Lady Cobham, and Berenger were expected. In a letter to her sister, Sarah Scott, Mrs. Montagu mentions—

“My Father is going to purchase a fine living for Willy, indeed he will not enjoy it till after the death of the present incumbent, but it brings in £470 a year, a fine reversion for a younger brother, and what, joined to another moderate living, will be a comfortable subsistence.”

This was the living of Burghfield in Berkshire, [2]purchased from the Shrewsbury family, for two lives, of which in after years William Robinson became rector, his son Matthew succeeding him. Further in this letter it says—

“I recommend to your perusal ‘The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle.’[2] Lady Vane’s[3] story is well told. Mr. W. Robinson and the Doctor called on me this morning. The Doctor talks of Bath for his health, but he is the best-looking invalid I ever saw. An Irish Bishopric will cure him entirely. Mrs. Delany is not in England. Poor Mrs. Donnellan has lost her brother, Dr. Donnellan,[4] and is in great affliction.”

[1] In 1752 the New Style began. I adhere to the dates as placed on the letters, as I have all through this book.

[2] Published in 1751, by T. Smollett.

[3] Née Anne Hawes, of Purley Hall, Berks. Married, first, Lord William Hamilton; secondly, Lord Vane.

[4] The Rev. Christopher Donnellan, a friend of Swift’s.

Mr. W. Robinson, afterwards Sir William Robinson, and Dr. Robinson, were her cousins, brothers of “Long” Sir Thomas Robinson and Sir Septimus, and sons of William Robinson of Rokeby. Dr. Richard Robinson[5] was chaplain to the Duke of Dorset, then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and had just been made Bishop of Killala. They were immense men, with fine features and rosy cheeks. Mr. Richard Cumberland[6] calls Dr. Richard Robinson “a colossal man.” So attached was Sir William to his brother Richard that Cumberland says he imitated the Archbishop in everything, even to the size of his shoes, diet, and physic!

[5] The Rev. Dr. Richard Robinson, born 1709, died 1794; afterwards Archbishop of Armagh, and 1st Baron Rokeby.

[6] Richard Cumberland, dramatist, born 1732, died 1811.

On February 10, Mr. West applied to the Bishop of London[7] for further preferment for Mr. Botham, and writes to Mrs. Montagu—


“Wickham, February 10, 1752.

Dear Cousin,

“Inclosed is my letter to the Bishop of London, which I send open for your perusal; if you approve of it, be pleased to seal it and convey it to his Lordship in what manner you think proper. I most sincerely wish it may have any good effect for my cousin Botham’s sake, but we must not flatter ourselves too much. Great men often think their smiles sufficient Favors, and you know there is a Beauty in that of my Lord of London that must enhance its value....

“Dear cousin,
“Your most affectionate and
obliged humble servᵗ,
“G. W.”

[7] Rev. Thomas Sherlock, born 1678, died 1761.


The letter was sent to the Bishop. Here is his reply to Mr. West—

“London, ye 18th February, 1752.


“I had the honour of yours of the 10 inst., and tho’ I am disabled from writing myself with the Gout in my Hands, yet I will not omit to assure you that there are very few whom I should be better pleased to oblige than yourself, and the Lady at whose instance you write.

“I feel very sensibly the distress of Mr. Botham and his wife, and judge as you do that it is a case that calls for, and deserves assistance. But in considering where my Patronages lye, I cannot find that I have any living within distance of Albury, unless it be in the City of London, where probably Mr. Botham would not choose to live. When I have the Happiness to see you, you shall be more fully acquainted how far I am able to assist you.

“I am, Sir,
“Your very obedient, humble Servᵗ,
(Signed by himself) “Tho. London.

“Mrs. Sherlock desires to join me in respects to you and Mrs. West.”


In March, Mr. Pitt obtained for Mr. Gilbert West the clerkship of the Privy Council, a lucrative office.

On March 25, from Hayes to Wickham, Mrs. Montagu writes—

Dear Cousin,

“I thank you most heartily for immediately giving me the sincerest joy I have felt for this long time. May you long enjoy what you have so late attained.... You cannot imagine the pleasure I propose in hearing your friends congratulate you on Fortune’s first courtesy. Base Jade! to be so tedious and so sparing in her favours.”

With many congratulations to Mrs. West, etc., to which Lydia Botham, then at Hayes, added a few lines, Mrs. Montagu announces she will convey him and Mrs. West to London the next morning in her post-chaise, and they shall stay in Hill Street, where Mr. Montagu was attending to his parliamentary business; and, she adds, to fix an hour “so as to be with the President of the Council at 12 o’clock.”


From London, on April 17, Mr. Montagu writes an account of the celebrated surgeon, Dr. William Chesilden’s death—

“The papers, I suppose, have informed you of the death of poor Chesilden. I had an account of the manner of his death from one Mr. Vourse, an eminent man in his own profession. He told me the poor man was with Jerry Pierce and others, telling them how soon after his being seized with the Palsy he had been making a bargain with an undertaker to bury him, with this he was entertaining them with his usual humour, and in the midst of his story was seiz’d with an apoplectic fit which finish’d him in half an hour.... I forgot to add that Mr. Chesilden had eat a great deal of Bread [5]and drank a good quantity of ale; being asthmatic, this was reckoned to be the cause of his death.”


It will be remembered that Mrs. Montagu was always opposed to her sister Sarah’s marriage to George Lewis Scott. Unfortunately, her fears as to their felicity were prophetic, for in April, 1752, after only a year’s matrimony, they separated; incompatibility of temper was alleged, but from the letters there was evidently much more below the surface. Mrs. Delany, writing in April to her sister, Mrs. D’Ewes, says—

“What a foolish match Mrs. Scott has made for herself. Mrs. Montagu wrote Mrs. Donnellan word that she and the rest of her friends had rescued her out of the hands of a very bad man: but for reasons of interest, they should conceal his misbehaviour as much as possible, but entreated Mrs. Donnellan would vindicate her sister’s character whenever she heard it attacked, for she was very innocent.”

Sarah was only twenty-nine. Her father and brothers separated her from Mr. Scott, as is shown in his own letters to Mr. Montagu, who had been his original friend. He acknowledged “that Mrs. Montagu knew nothing of the separation till it was communicated to her;” in truth she was at Hayes at the time. Her letters indicate the enmity and rancour of a great lady whose name was kept behind the scenes. Mr. Scott wrote two letters to Mr. Montagu, dated April 29 and May 1, but both are so involved and mysterious as to shed no real light on his misdemeanours.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Montagu received Mrs. Scott at Hayes, and in a letter to her husband, whom she was preparing to join in London, says Morris was urging Mrs. Scott to go to Albury. She says—


“I could leave her at Hayes when I go to town, but her spirits are so bad and she is so ill she cannot be alone.... Indeed, poor creature, her situation is miserable, allied to the faults and the infamy of a bad man, subject to his aspersions, and liable to the censures of his friends (for the worst have some), as in all disagreements in wedlock, blame falls ever on the innocent where there is no harmony. ‘How happy to behold in wedded pair!’ each has the credit of the other’s virtues; they have double honour, united interests and all that can make people strong in society. This, my Dearest, is my happier lot, inriched by your fortune, ennobled by your virtues, graced by your character, and supported by your interest.”

Mrs. Montagu accompanied Mrs. Scott to Albury. She writes—

“We had a very pleasant journey here, and our horses performed well. We found Lydia and Johnny in health and happiness, surrounded by five of the finest children I ever saw; the youngest boy is a little cherubim and has the finest white hair imaginable.”


Mrs. Donnellan, in May, writes from Delville, where she still was, to Mrs. Montagu, to say that Lord Holderness was to give up her house in Hanover Square about August, and as it was too large for her fortune, and the lease was near its end,[8] she wishes Mrs. Montagu to look out for a house for her “not farther than Windsor from London. Soon after our return, the Dean and Mrs. Delany go to Down, and I fear his affairs will not permit him to go to England this year.” She adds—

“I have writ to Mrs. Shuttleworth to bespeak me a chair of Vaughan.[9] I would have it plain and light, lined with white cloath and green curtains, as white and[7] green is my livery. If you should go to town, I should be obliged to you if you would send to Vaughan about it....

“I now come to the interesting part of your letter, the unhappy affair of poor Mrs. Scott. I had heard before I received yours that she and Mr. Scott were parted, but could hardly believe it, a match so much of mutual inclination seemed to promise mutual happiness, and the shortness of the time of their union hardly allowed them to find out they were not happy, so that you are unwilling to hurt the gentleman in his character. I must conclude he is very bad, since in so short a time he could force Mrs. Scott and all her family to come to such an éclat. I am extremely concerned for all the uneasiness you have had on the occasion, but you have had the consolation of showing yourself a most generous and kind sister in supporting her in her misfortunes, and especially as it was a match made against your better judgment. I beg my compliments to Mrs. Scott, and I heartily wish her health and spirits to support her situation; ’tis said here she is returning to Bath to live with Lady Montagu. On these occasions people love to seem to know more than perhaps they do; all I say is that you entirely justify Mrs. Scott, and I am sure you must know the truth. I hear, too, he has given her back half her fortune, and has settled a 150 pounds a year on her; this, I think, is a justification to her.”

[8] Mr. Macartney took it on.

[9] Means a sedan chair.

Mrs. Montagu had indeed a great deal of trouble at this time, for besides sheltering and endeavouring to cheer Mrs. Scott’s failing spirits, she had, to say nothing of her own constant ill-health, the additional trouble of her favourite brother Jack’s illness, now continuing some months, of a nervous disorder, which he never recovered from.


On May 26, from Sandleford, Mrs. Montagu writes to Mr. West, who is at her house in Hill Street, attending as clerk to the Privy Council—


Dear Cousin,

“I was informed by Mrs. Isted[10] that you intended to return to town in the middle of this week, so I imagine that by this time you are in the Empire of China.[11] The leafless trees and barren soil of my landscape will very ill bear comparison with the shady oaks and beautiful verdure of South Lodge, and the grinning Mandarins still worse supply the place of a British Statesman: but as you can improve every society and place into which you enter, I expect such hints from you as will set off the figures, and enliven the landscape with rural beauty. I grieved at the rain from an apprehension that it might interfere with your pleasure at South Lodge. I hope it did not, but that you saw the place with the leisure and attention it deserves; if you give me an account of the parts of it which charmed you most, or of the whole, you will lead my imagination to a very fine place in very good company, and I shall walk over it with great pleasure. I imagine you would feel some poetic enthusiasm in the Temple of Pan, and hope it produced a hymn or ode in which we shall see him knit with the Graces and the Hours to dance, lead on to the Eternal Spring, through groves of your unfading bays.”

South Lodge, Enfield, was then the residence of Mr. Pitt, the grounds of which he laid out with great taste, and designed the Temple of Pan. Mrs. Montagu had recently been on a visit to him here, as will be seen in West’s answer. At the end of a long letter, which contains directions as to the ornaments of her room, comments on her bad health, in which she quotes Pope’s saying, “ill-health is an early old age,” she winds up with regretting that Sir George Lyttelton and Miss West were going to Tunbridge so soon, for “I fear[9] they will leave the place the earlier, as they go at the beginning of the season.” She finishes by commending her brother William, who was to spend a day or two in Hill Street, to West, saying—

“I wrote my advice to him to take this opportunity to pay his respects to you, but possibly a little College awkwardness, added to natural timidity, may prevent his doing it. I assure you he is a very good young man, more I will not say, for having for some years had a mother’s care of him, I have also a mother’s partiality: perhaps you may like him the better for his resemblance to your son.”

[10] Mrs. Isted, Mrs. Montagu’s lady housekeeper.

[11] She was fitting up her big room in Chinese style, and West was assisting her with hints.

From Albury she had brought Lydia’s second daughter, Bessie—

“Not so handsome as her sister whom you have seen, but she is fair and well shaped, very sensible and of a sweet disposition, and though but ten years of age, reads and writes well, and has made a great progress in arithmetic.”

To this letter Gilbert West answers on May 30—

“Mr. Pitt, as you will easily imagine from your own experience, received and entertained us with great politeness, and something still more pleasing and solid, with every mark of friendship and esteem. He had provided for me a wheeling chair, by the help of which I was enabled to visit every sequestered nook, dingle and bosky bower from side to side in that little paradise opened in the wild, and by the help of my imagination doubled the pleasure I received from the various Beauties of Art and Nature, by recalling and participating the past pleasure of a certain person,[12] some of whose remarks and sayings Mr. Pitt repeated with a secret pride, [10]and I heard with equal admiration and delight. The weather indeed was not so favourable to us as we could have wished.... Molly[13] indeed, who has an insatiable ardour in viewing a fine place, and an almost implicit faith in Mr. Pitt’s taste and judgment, stole out often by herself, and in defiance of wind or rain walked many times over the enchanting round.... Kitty[14] has seemed to be inspired with an unusual flow of spirits, which not only emboldened her to undertake, but enabled her also to complete the tour, which I was forced to make in my chair, attended by her, Molly, and Mr. Pitt.”

[12] Mrs. Montagu, who had been on a visit to Mr. Pitt.

[13] Miss West, his sister.

[14] Mrs. West.

In the reply occurs the following passage:—

“I am very glad you and Mrs. West went over every part of South Lodge, as you see with more judgment you must see with more pleasure than I did, and I think there can hardly be a finer entertainment not only to the eyes but to the mind, than so sweet and peaceful a scene. I was surprised to hear Mr. Pitt say he had never spent an entire week there, this shows one that a person who has an active mind and is qualified for the busy scene of life, need not fear any excess in the love of retirement.”


Captain Robinson returned from his Chinese expedition in the Saint George the middle of June, and Mrs. Montagu and Mrs. Scott met him from Sandleford at her villa at Hayes. “He has brought me two beautiful gowns and a fine Chinese lanthorn. We are to go on board the St. George to-morrow,” she writes to her husband. He also brought a gown apiece for Lady Sandwich and her sister, Miss Fane. The greater part of the Robinson family went to dine on the Saint George, but on a stormy day, and Mrs. Montagu was very terrified at the tossing of the small boat they went in. Soon[11] after this, in the beginning of July, Mrs. Montagu left for her annual visit to Tunbridge Wells, where she had taken the “White Stone House” on Mount Ephraim. Sarah Scott returned to Sandleford to Mr. Montagu, en route for Bath, where she was about to take up residence with her friend, Lady Bab Montagu. At Tunbridge were Sir George and Lady Lyttelton, Mr. West, Miss Charlotte Fane, Mr. Garrick, Mr. Bower, the Dean of Exeter, General Pulteney,[15] etc. At a big ball Mrs. Montagu says—

“I shone forth in full Chinese pomp at the ball, my gown was much liked, the pattern of the embroidery admired extremely.... Garrick had an incomparable letter from Beranger which he read with proper humour one day he dined here.... I go every day to Mr. King’s lectures.”

[15] Brother of Lord Bath.

On July 22 Mrs. Montagu writes to her husband—

“Sir George and Lady Lyttelton[16] went away this morning, as to the lady, she is so unsociable and retired, her departure makes no difference in the Society, in all her manners she signified a dislike and contempt of the company, and in this, the world is always just, and pays in kind to the full measure, and even with more than legal interest at 4 per cent!”

[16] The second Lady Lyttelton, née Rich.


Mr. West from Tunbridge visited his cousins, the Bothams, at Albury, and found Lydia in a terrible state of health, and worried with the preparation of her five children to be inoculated. He persuaded her to go to Tunbridge to consult Dr. Shaw, and writes from Stoke to Mrs. Montagu to suggest that Mrs. Botham should stay with her at Sandleford whilst the children are [12]inoculated, and left in their father’s care. He mentions Mr. Hooke being in a cottage near Stoke, very busy writing. Lydia Botham, despite of all entreaties, returned to Albury to remain with her children. Mrs. Montagu contemplated a visit to Horton, alias Mount Morris, with her husband, to stay with her brother Matthew, but violent rheumatism attacked her in the shoulders. She was reluctantly obliged to let Mr. Montagu visit “the brethren,” as they termed them, alone. Meanwhile, West, not being satisfied with the tutor with whom his son was residing, hastened to Hill Street to remove him to Oxford. Mrs. Medows[17] writes from Chute on October 3 to say she had taken her nieces, the Miss Pulses, to see Sandleford, where they ate “a cold loaf,”[18] and “I was not a little exalted as a planter when I saw chestnuts I had set nuts, five and forty feet high.” She mentions that Mrs. Isted gave them a great many good things, “and showed several pretty pieces of her painting, and one of your curtains finished and a handkerchief the little girl you are so good as to take care of is making for you, that will look very like point.”

[17] Mr. Montagu’s sister.

[18] The usual expression for a picnic then.

Mr. Montagu set out on October 2 to Horton, and arrived at Canterbury, where he ascended the Cathedral tower for the view, his first sight of that place. His first letter crossed one of his wife’s, in which she laments her inability to accompany him, and says—

“I suppose you will see the place with great veneration, where your consort’s virtues, charms and accomplishments were ripened to their present perfection, besides the pleasure of seeing my brothers, which would have been great. I should have reviewed the place where I spent the careless days of infancy and the more gay ones of early youth with satisfaction. To the[13] Fair, the years from 15 to 20 are very agreeable.” She continues, “When do my brethren come to town? I hear my brother Robinson stays to cultivate the maternal acres. As to the Paternal they will not come yet. I think he will think of the Père Eternel when he does not say the Lord’s Prayer. I design to go to Mrs. Donnellan to-morrow, she is at North End, where she designs to remain till her house is ready for her reception.”

These letters are addressed thus:—

“Edward Montagu Esqr. & Memʳ· of Parlᵗ·
at Matthew Robinson Morris Esqr.,
at Horton,
“Near Hythe,

Morris Robinson, when not in town on business, lived with his brother, and it was a home to all the brothers as they required one, their gay old father, Mr. Robinson, preferring lodgings in London, where he was the life and soul of the fashionable coffee-houses.


Mr. Montagu having complained of his horse not liking stony roads, his wife writes—

“I am sorry your horse does not like hard roads, for the ways about Horton are very stony; a dull horse is like a dull friend, one is safe but not much delighted in their company.” She adds, “I hope the sight of so many merry bachelors does not revive in you the love of a single state. Theirs is the joy of the wicked, not the pure comforts of a holy state like matrimony.... Poor Mr. Brockman is the only man truly sensible of the evils of celibacy, and he weeps and will not be comforted, as all unmarried men should do, were they truly sensible of their misfortune.”


This is playfully malicious, as Mr. Brockman had been one of her earliest admirers.


Her husband, on October 12, answers a long letter of hers about the monuments in Canterbury Cathedral, and says—

“Since I came here I have passed my time much to my satisfaction, the entire freedom and liberty that reigns here, the love and harmony that dwells amongst the brethren, as it is very uncommon, so is the more agreeable to me, as I cannot but take a part and be affected with pleasure and pain in everything that relates to you. If you had been here you would have much added to our happiness, and I believe this not only to be my sentiments but that of all the rest of the company. I have never before now had an opportunity of sufficiently observing this house, which is very large and perfectly regular, though it is not placed just where one could wish it, ’tis easy to see is capable of great improvement by openings and cuttings in a good deal of that fine prospect which is now shut out by the walls and trees; and by grubbing up the bushes and hedges and making a kind of Paddock on the South side of the house. A bason of water like that at Newbold might also be easily made.... Some of these things the worthy owner is not without having some thoughts of doing, as well as cutting some walks and vistas through his wood.”

There is a picture of Mount Morris in Harris’ ‘History of Kent,’ 1719, a large square house with a cupola surmounted by a big ball and weathercock. In front of the house and round it are the small walled gardens, formally planted, the fashion of the period. These were eventually pulled down by Matthew Robinson, the hedges grubbed and all thrown into one large park,[19] in which his numerous horses and cattle roamed[15] at large. Mr. Montagu seemed to have enjoyed some fine partridge shooting whilst at Horton. He also frequented “‘Old Father Ocean’ at Hythe, with whose solemn majestic look I am always delighted.”

[19] A picture of Mount Morris as altered by Matthew is in the Kent volume of “Beauties of England and Wales”.


Visits to the Scotts of Scotts Hall, the Brockmans of Beachborough, etc., are spoken of. In a letter of the same date, October 12, to her husband, Mrs. Montagu first mentions Archibald Bower[20] and his wife.

[20] Archibald Bower, born 1686, died 1766; wrote “The History of the Popes,” etc., etc.

To give the whole biography of Archibald Bower would take too much space in this book. An account of him can be found in the “National Biography,” vol. vi. p. 48. He was a Scotsman, was sent to Douai, and entered the Jesuit Society in 1706. In 1717 he studied Divinity at Rome; became Reader of Philosophy and Adviser to the College of Arezzo. Horrified at the “hellish proceedings” of the Court of Inquisition, where he witnessed the torture of two innocent gentlemen, he fled to England, and while there made the acquaintance of Dean Berkeley, the old admirer and friend of Mrs. Donnellan, who was afterwards Bishop of Cloyne. He entered, as tutor, the family of Mr. Thompson, Coley Park, Berks, and afterwards that of Lord Aylmer. He revised the “Universal History.” In 1748 he was made keeper of the Queen’s Library, and in 1749 he married a widow with one child, a niece of Bishop Nicholson. His first volume of his “History of the Popes” was published in 1748, the second in 1751, the third in 1753. Though renouncing the Jesuit order, he seems to have had business dealings with the Society, some of which brought him into considerable obloquy, but they are too lengthy to be detailed here.

Mrs. Montagu, returning to Hayes, says—


“Mr. Bower and his wife are to come to me on Friday, and stay till Saturday or Monday, he is a very merry entertaining companion. He left all gloominess in that seat of horrors—the Inquisition. I breakfasted with him on Tuesday, he is but between two or three miles from Hayes. His wife is civil and silent, so I asked her to come over with him. I never saw any country more beautiful than about Chislehurst, where he lives. I cannot say much in praise of his habitation, which he terms his Paradise, but indeed to a mind so gay and cheerful as his, all places are a Paradise. He is much engaged with those old ladies, the Popes, but says he will leave the Santi Padri for his Madonna. He will teach me the pronunciation of Italian, which he has reduced to a Method, so it may easily be acquired. He taught it to Mr. Garrick at Tunbridge.”


Apparently Bower was introduced to Mrs. Montagu by Gilbert West. He was an intimate friend of Sir George Lyttelton. Both he and Sir George gave Mrs. Montagu the sobriquet of “Madonna,” but as Bower’s first letter of 1753 addresses her as “Madonna,” with him probably the nickname originated. They corresponded for some years in Italian.

In the next letter of October 14, she says—

“The Bowers came here yesterday. Mr. and Mrs. West met them here at dinner, and to-morrow we are all to dine at Wickham. This morning I shall carry Mrs. Bower to see Cæsar’s Camp, the prospect from which is now in high beauty.”


The five Botham children had been inoculated! Their mother had been persuaded in her bad health to leave them in their father’s care. Lydia, writing to Mrs. Montagu to thank her for a present of Madeira, says—

“You will desire to hear something of my Babes. [17]My letter from their good Father to-day says they were well when he wrote, but that my kind and humane friends, Dr. Shaw and Winchester, who had both been with them in the morning, said their eyes were so heavy and their pulses so loaded that they would not hold up long.”

A postscript to this letter gives the next day’s account in Mr. Botham’s words—

“My dear Babes are all drooping round me, and wonder not if I tell you I am glad they are so, since from the gentlest symptoms of the distemper I have a good foundation to hope they will do well. They are sometimes up and sometimes down, and sicken so gradually that Winchester doubts not that they will have a favourable sort of the smallpox. I expect they will be in their beds to-morrow.”

By November 16 the five children were well, and Mrs. Montagu writes to Mr. West from Sandleford—

“Mrs. Botham returns to her little family to-morrow, they are all quite recovered, and I hope this lucky event will hasten the recovery of my Lydia. I should indeed be glad to behold the happy smile that will illuminate her countenance at her return to her babes. Mr. Rogers[21] is recovering from another mortification.... I really believe he will live to the age of Methuselah, for he recovers of those illnesses which destroy the strongest.

“I find the Princess of Wales will have a drawing-room as soon as the King returns, and I hope you will consult with your friends, whether it will not be proper you should appear there.... Mr. Linnell[22] brought me[18] his bill the morning I left town, and I think I will send a copy of it as a proper warning to your Mrs. West, and if you will still proceed in spite of my sad and woeful example, I cannot help it. I shall repent my misdeeds as the daughters of Israel did theirs in sackcloth and ashes. Adieu Brocade, Embroidery, and lace, and even the cheaper vanities of lutestring and blonde.”

[21] John Rogers, of Denton Hall, to whom Mr. Montagu, his cousin, was trustee, as he was a lunatic.

[22] Linnell had been decorating rooms in her house at Hill Street, and Mr. West was also employing him at Wickham.

Mr. West took Mrs. Montagu’s advice as to going to Court and “kissing hands, a ceremony which upon more deliberation I think it most advisable to go through, however glad I should have been to avoid it.”


In a letter to Miss Anstey from Mrs. Montagu, of November 23, we gain a glimpse of the books being read then—

“Mr. Hooke has published a second edition of his ‘Roman History,’ which is much admired. Mr. Brown’s[23] essays on the ‘Characteristics of Lord Shaftesbury[24] are well spoken of; Lord Orrery[25] has just published his Observations on the ‘Life and Writings of Dr. Swift.’ ... The ‘Biographia Brittanica’ will entertain you with the Lives of many great men, some of them are very well written. Mr. Warburton’s[26] Edition of Mr. Pope’s Works contains some new pieces, and some alterations of old ones. ‘The Memoires du Duc de Sully[27] are very entertaining.... The Duke of Cumberland has been dangerously ill, is now something better. Lord Coventry[28] they say is to marry Miss Gunning. Some actors have appeared [19]at the Theatre, and their characters are not of the first rank. One of them imitates Mr. Garrick.” This must have been Foote.

[23] John Brown, D.D., born 1715, died 1766. Eminent divine, indefatigable writer.

[24] 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury, born 1671, died 1713; wrote “Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, and Times.”

[25] Charles Boyle, 4th Earl of Orrery.

[26] William Warburton, born 1698, died 1779. Divine and writer; Bishop of Gloucester.

[27] Duc de Sully, favourite minister of Henry IV. of France.

[28] Lord Coventry, married March 5, 1782, to Maria Gunning.


Gilbert West was busied at this time planting his garden at Wickham with firs and laurels, and Mrs. Montagu teased him by letter about his “evergreen-nevergreen garden,” as she called it. She says—

“Remember that while you avoid winter, you exclude Spring, and forbid the glad return of the vernal season, as well as the sad approach of autumn. In your garden and in your life, may all that is necessary for shade, for shelter and for comfort be permanent and unchanged. May the pleasures and aromatics be various, successive, sweet and new! ... I shall be much obliged to you if when you see the incomparable Mr. Bower you will get of him the second volume of the ‘History of the Popes.’ I have almost finished Mr. Hooke’s history. I do not care to quit the city of Rome till I have seen the establishment of its spiritual Monarchy.... I have just received a collection of letters, wrote by Madame de Maintenon, though Voltaire has diminished my opinion of her in some degree; yet I have an impatience to open the book.... I shall like to see what alteration there is in her from the wife and widow of poor Scarron to becoming the consort of Louis le Grand.”

On December 2 Lady Courtenay sent feathers and shells to Mrs. Montagu for her work. She was the daughter of Heneage, 2nd Lord Aylesford, and married to Sir William Courtenay, afterwards 1st Viscount Courtenay. She was a sister of Lady Andover’s, and a great friend of Lydia Botham’s, and in this letter expresses great concern at Lydia’s sad state of health.

On December 29 Mrs. Montagu writes to her sister Sarah that she had sustained the great loss of her lady housekeeper, Mrs. Isted, who had died very suddenly [20]whilst Mr. and Mrs. Montagu had been spending a few days with Lydia Botham. The latter was then supposed to be dying.

From the letters it appears Mrs. Isted was a widow lady, who had lost an only child, and had been known to Mrs. Montagu in her more prosperous years. Lydia Botham rallied for a time.


A great dispute was going on at Leicester House at this time on the subject of Prince George’s tutors. Amongst the sub-preceptors, it will be remembered, was Mr. George Lewis Scott, Sarah’s (née Robinson) husband. Soon after this he was dismissed from the list of tutors. One reason alleged was that he was a Jacobite, but there was little ground for this supposition. Though a clever man, he seems to have been quite an unsuitable person to be tutor to the princes, and Mrs. Montagu comforts Sarah by saying his true character will now appear. “You will see shortly that he and you will have justice done you, and with this difference, that to you it will be a guardian angel, to him an avenging minister. In the mean time ‘leave him to Heaven, and the thorns that prick his bosom,’ as says good Mr. Hamlet.”

On December 23 she had an assembly, and writes to Mrs. Boscawen that “the Chinese Room was filled by a succession of people from eleven in the morning till eleven at night.”

The year ends with a letter to Gilbert West, who had had a terrible attack of gout, sending him Birch’s[29]Life of Archbishop Tillotson,”[30] “which Mr. Birch left for you himself.”

[29] Rev. Thomas Birch, born 1705, died 1766.

[30] John Tillotson, born 1630, died 1694. Archbishop of Canterbury in 1691.


1753 opens with a letter from Mrs. Donnellan on [21]January 2, to Mrs. Montagu, then at Sandleford. In this she says—

“Two letters from Ireland informed me of a sort of determination both of Dr. Delany’s affair and my own. I had a very particular account of both from my Six Clerk and Manager, Mr. Croker, who is Six Clerk to Delany’s adversarys, and a short letter from Mrs. Delany. My Lord Chancellor has acquitted Dr. Delany of a hard word in the law, called spoliation, but has ordered an account before two masters in Chancery to be taken of all the late Mrs. Delany’s personal estate, and what she was worth when she married the Dean.”

This law-suit, which lasted some years, and was a great annoyance and expense to the Delanys, was caused by his having inadvertently burnt a paper of importance belonging to his first wife. Mrs. Donnellan’s brother had claimed the lease of the house lately belonging to their mother, in London, owing to a defect in the execution of the will. Mrs. Donnellan got the books, and some few hundred pounds, but, as she had been residuary legatee in the will, suffered severe loss which she bore with exemplary patience.

It is probable that at this period her brother-in-law, Bishop Clayton, being wealthy and generous, gave up his wife’s marriage portion to her sister, Anne Donnellan.

Anne now took a house in Bolton Row, London.


On January 3 Mrs. Montagu writes to thank Mrs. West for a portion of Turkey “pye,” and some verses of her composing with it. She says—

“January 3.

Dear Madam,

“For your pye and your verses what strains are sublime enough to return proper thanks! You have held the balance of justice so exactly and directed its [22]sword so well where to fall that Mrs. Temple West and I are determined to divide the pye this evening according to the rules prescribed. Though our pye has not yet been toasted, your verses have been well relish’d by some of the greatest connoisseurs. About an hour after I had your letter Miss West came to call on me; I communicated your poetic strains and we were very merry over them. When Lord Temple and Sir George Lyttelton came in we let them have a share, and they joined in the laugh and commendation. Lord Temple desired his best and kindest compliments to you and my cousin. He is not at all the worse for his late illness.... Sir George and he were going to dine with Mr. Pitt, whose health, I believe, is in much the same state as when you saw him.”


Mrs. Medows wrote on January 6 from Chute, Wilton, then her brother-in-law’s residence, to wish the Montagus a happy new year, and in this letter she says—

“The Duke of C(handos)[31] our neighbour kept his Son’s[32] birthday with great magnificence. I was invited, and not foreseeing such an occasion for dress, I had neither manto nor sack, and desired leave to come in a white apron in the evening, but the Duchess insisted on my coming with it to dinner. You may imagine how well I dined on two and forty dishes, and a dessert of one and twenty, very well ordered and served; but the Duchess’s behaviour was really an entertainment, not in the least embarrassed, she did the honours perfectly well, and seemed conscious she should make a good figure, and pleased with the opportunity. In the evening there was a ball, cards for the grave people. I am pleased to find that I can still see the young people dance and with pleasure; our nieces[33] Pulses were the best dancers. I [23]won four rubbers and past for a good player; content with this, I came away before supper. I was charmed with Mrs. Ironmonger[34] ... If you would have me think you well get a Vandike Hankerchief. Mrs. Ironmonger had one, and I am sure it will become you.”

[31] 2nd Duke of Chandos.

[32] His only son by first wife, afterwards 3rd Duke.

[33] Mrs. Medows’ nieces.

[34] Probably Mrs. Iremonger, of Wherwell, Hants.

The duchess here alluded to was the second wife of the duke, Anne Jefferies, née Wells. In the “Complete Peerage” we read, “See the story of her being sold with a halter round her neck by her husband, Jefferies, an ostler at the Pelican Inn, Newbury, and purchased by the Duke of Chandos in ‘N & Q,’ 4th l. vi. p. 179.” She was married in 1744 to the duke, and died in 1759 s.p.


January 18, Miss Anstey, writing from Trumpington, says—

“Have you heard that Mr. Gray[35] is going to publish his whole stock of poetry, which, though it will consist of only one volume, and contains but few things which have not been already printed, the price will be half a guinea; but what seems most extraordinary, it is expected there will be a very great demand for them, and I am told there is already a great number bespoke, for they are to be embellished and illustrated in the most curious and ingenious manner with copper plates drawn and imagined by Mr. Bentley.[36] I hear they are all very clever, and was told for a specimen that the little ode on the cat is to have in the frontispiece the Fates cutting her nine threads of her life, and the rats and mice exulting upon the death of their enemy. At the end Puss is represented as just landed from Charon’s Boat, and in her approach towards Pluto’s Palace, she sets up her back and spits at Cerberus. How do you like the conceit? They are said to be very highly drawn, and Mr. [24]Gray gives his poetry. Mr. Horace Walpole[37] is at the whole expense of the printing and copper plates for the benefit of Mr. Bentley....

“I hear the scholar[38] of St. John’s who has admitted himself of the play house performs much better in a personated than he did here in his real character. I suppose he does not regret his being expelled the University, as he finds himself well received by the Town, for excommunication would not hurt him there. I hear he is really a good actor, which is a thing, I am afraid, much more rare than a bad clergyman, so I am glad he has taken to the stage instead of the Pulpit. I hear there were fourscore of this University present at his first performance, and that if he has a benefit the whole body will be present at it.”

[35] Thomas Gray, born 1716, died 1771.

[36] Richard Bentley, junior son of the Master of Trinity, Cambridge.

[37] Horace Walpole, younger son of Sir Robert Walpole, born 1717, died 1797.

[38] Is this Churchill?

This edition of Gray was published in March, 1753, printed at Mr. Horace Walpole’s private press at Strawberry Hill.


Mr. West, attacked by his enemy the gout, was now a prisoner at Wickham. On January 24, in a long letter, these paragraphs are of interest—

“The joyous Berenger passed five days with us last week, read to us a play in Shakespeare and the ‘Volpone’ of B. Johnson, and repeated innumerable scraps out of a hundred others, laughed a great deal, said many droll and some witty things, and then disappear’d, after promising to come frequently to strut upon the little stage of Wickham, which you may perceive has been lately graced with almost as great a variety of characters as are exhibited at Drury Lane, so that we have little occasion to run to the great city in search of company, much less for the sake of society, which indeed there is almost lost, in the various bustle of Resort, [25]the busy hum of Men, the embarrassments of Hoops,—Interruptions of Messages and ostentatious dinners and Drums, Trumpets, Politics, etc., etc.,—but besides the pleasures of social converse, we have had amusements of a stiller kind furnished by the obliging civility of some of my brother Authors; among which are two new papers, ‘The Adventurer’ and ‘The World,’[39] by Adam Fitz-Adam. The writer of the former sent me the first 14 numbers with a very handsome letter. To the other I had indeed a kind of right since I am inform’d that the judicious Tasters of the Town have declared it to be written by Sir G(eorge) L(yttelton), by Mr. Pitt, or your humble servant; with how much sagacity this opinion is form’d I shall leave you to judge, for I doubt not but this character will recommend them to your perusal, as it precludes me saying anything in their favour: of the former I may be so free as to declare I like them very well, but I will be still bolder in recommending to you Dr. Leland’s ‘Observations of Lord Bolingbroke’s letter,’ which was sent me by the author yesterday, and which I have read through with great pleasure and edification. I must transcribe a part of my boy’s[40] letter about the death of the Bishop of Cloyne: ‘We have had a great loss at Oxford; the poor Bishop of Cloyne died on Sunday about 8 o’clock in the evening. Mrs. Berkeley[41] was sitting by him, and spoke to him several times, and he never answered, so it is supposed he was dead a quarter of an hour before it was discovered, for he died without a groan or any sign of pain.’

“He has received Rollin, for which I thank you in his name.”

[39] Edward Moore published “The World.”

[40] His son Richard, then at Oxford.

[41] George Berkeley, born 1684, died 1753. Celebrated divine and author.

To this Mrs. Montagu rejoins—

“How happy was the Bishop of Cloyne’s exit, or [26]rather entrance, one should call it into another, than departure out of this life, for it had none of the agonising pangs of farewell. I pity poor Mrs. Berkeley, who had so little preparation for so heavy a stroke. I hope the constant conversation and example of a man so eminent in every Christian virtue may have given her an uncommon degree of fortitude and patience. I have heard her temper and understanding highly commended. She had a perfect adoration of the Bishop.... Dr. Berkeley had formerly made his addresses to Mrs. Donnellan: what were her reasons for refusing him I know not, friends were consenting, circumstances equal, her opinion captivated, but perhaps aversion to the cares of a married life, and apprehensions from some particularities in his temper hinder’d the match; however their friendship always continued, and I have always heard her give him for virtues and talents the preference to all mankind.”


Mrs. Montagu continues that she had neither health nor spirits to read with pleasure. “The misfortunes I have suffered and those I have feared have worn me out; after the various turns of hope and fear on my poor Lydia’s account, I am at last in despair about her. Mr. Botham sent to us for a milch ass for her some days ago.” After a long lamentation on Lydia’s behalf, she ends, “I am that poor little selfish animal, a human creature, made more poor, more little, more selfish by the Vapours; in all Sir Hans’ Museum there is not so ugly a monster as a woman in Vapours.” Lydia becoming worse, Mrs. Montagu wrote to inform her sister, Mrs. Laurence Sterne, whose curious letter I give in full as a specimen of her style. Both she and her sister Lydia wrote large, legible hands, much alike.



“Sutton,[42] March ye 9th.

Dear Madam,

“I return you my sincere and hearty thanks for the Favour of your most welcome letter; which had I received in a more happy Hour, wou’d have made me almost Frantick with Joy; for being thus cruelly separated from all my Friends, the least mark of their kindness towards me, or Remembrance of me gives me unspeakable Delight. But the Dismal Account I receiv’d at the same time of my poor Sister, has render’d my Heart Incapable of Joy, nor can I ever know Comfort till I hear of her Recovery.

“Believe me, Dear Madam, you were never more mistaken than when you imagine that Time and Absence remove you from my Remembrance. I do assure you I do not so easily part with what affords me so great Delight, on the Contrary I spare no pains to improve every little accident that recalls you to my Remembrance, as the only amends which can be made me for those Unhappinesses my Situation deprives me of. As a proof of this I must inform you that about three weeks ago I took a long Ride Through very bad weather, and worse Roads, merely for the satisfaction of enjoying a Conversation with a Gentleman who though unknown to you had conceiv’d the highest opinion of you from the perusal of several of your Letters, for which he was indebted to Mrs. Clayton. Had this Gentleman nothing else to recommend him, it certainly would be Sufficient to have made me desirous of his acquaintance; but he is both a Man of Sense and good Breeding, so that I am not a little pleas’d with my new Acquaintance. Your Supposition of my Sister’s having Boasted to me of her Children is doubtless extremely Natural, I wish it had been as Just: But I can in three words inform you of all I know about ’em,—to wit their number and their Names, for which I am indebted to Johnny. Had my Lydia been so obliging as to have made them the[28] Subject of her Letters, I shou’d by this time have had a tolerable Idea of them, by considering what she said with some abatement: but as it is I no more know whether they are Black, Brown or Fair, Wise, or other wise, Gentle, or Froward than the Man in the Moon. Pray is this strange Silence on so Interesting a Subject owing to her profound Wisdom or her abundant Politeness? But be it to which it will, as soon as she recovers her Health I shall insist on all the satisfaction she can give on this head. In the meantime I rejoice to find they have your approbation and am truly thankful that Nature has done her part, which indeed is the most Material, though I frankly own I shall not be the first to Forgive any slights that Dame Fortune may be dispos’d to shew them.

“Your god-Daughter, as in Duty bound, sends her best Respects to you. I will hope that she may enjoy what her poor Mother in vain Laments, the want of a more intimate acquaintance with her Kindred.

“Be so good as to make Mr. Sterne’s and my compliments to Mr. Montagu, and Believe me, Dear Madam,

“Your most affectionate Cousin,
and oblig’d Humble Servant,
E. Sterne.”

[42] The Rev. Laurence Sterne was Vicar of Sutton-in-the-Forest, Yorkshire.


The godchild was Lydia Sterne, born December 1, 1747, then in her sixth year. The Sternes had lost their first child, also a Lydia, born in October, 1745.

Lydia Botham did not long survive; I do not know the exact day of her death, but West, writing on April 2, to Mrs. Montagu, says—

“I cannot conclude without thanking you, my dearest Cousin, for informing me of your health, about which I should have been under great alarms upon hearing of Lydia’s Death, of which your letter brought me the first intelligence. This kind attention to my happiness at a time when your heart was overflowing with sorrow is[29] such a proof of your regard for me I shall always remember with gratitude.”

Though deeply lamented, Lydia’s sufferings, latterly from asthma, dropsy, and a complication of disorders, made her death more or less a release. Mr. Botham was now left a widower with five children.


Writing from London, the end of April, to Sarah Scott in John Street, Bath, where she and Lady Bab were living, Mrs. Montagu says—

“I have been at Oratorios so crowded and plays so hot I have almost fainted, but first of all crowds and greatest of all mobs, I must in justice name Lady Bath’s[43] assembly, from whence at hazard of life and limb I broke away a little after one on Tuesday last. Her ladyship had happily gathered together eight hundred Christian souls, many of which had like to have perished by famine and other accidents. I suffered the most from the first of these; being ill, I had not eat a morsel of dinner, and there was not a biscuit nor a bit of bread to be got, and half the company got out through the stables and garden. The house was not empty till near 3 in the morning.”

[43] Née Anna Maria Gumley, wife of Pulteney, Earl of Bath. She is said to have been a great “screw.”

Mrs. Montagu had for some time been expecting Miss Carter, the young daughter of Mr. Montagu’s faithful agent, to stay with her. She says—

“My little disciple[44] is very good, and takes to me wondrous well. I expect the eldest Miss Botham next week, you may suppose it was some denial not to choose the second, but I thought the other my duty rather, and the eldest would have been much grieved to be passed over.”

[44] Miss Carter.


Writing to Mr. Montagu (who had gone to Sandleford on business, and to cure a bad cold) on May 3, his wife describes a Rout she had given. “I had rather more than an hundred visitants last night, but the apartment held them with ease, and the highest compliments were paid to the house and elegance of the apartments.”


Gilbert West from Wickham, on May 23, gives the following account of Mr. Pitt, whose health had been causing much anxiety to his friends—

“Had I answered your letter last night I should have given you a good account of Mr. Pitt, who was yesterday in better spirits than I have seen him in since he came hither, but I find by inquiring after him this morning that he has had a bad, that is, a sleepless night, which has such effect on his spirits that I am afraid we shall see him in a very different condition to-day. This has happened to him every other night since Friday last, so I am persuaded there is something intermitting in his case, of which neither the Physicians nor himself seem to be aware. I think he ought to go to town to consult with them, but to this he has so great an aversion that I question if he will comply with our request. Sir George Lyttelton, who saw him on one of his bad days, Saturday last, promised to come hither to-day, and his voice added to ours may possibly prevail....

“Mr. Pitt express’d a due sense of your goodness in inquiring so particularly after him, and that you may know how high you stand in his opinion, I must inform you that in a conversation with Molly he pronounced you the most perfect woman he ever met with.”


Mr. Pitt was recommended by his doctors to go to Tunbridge Wells to drink the waters. Accompanied by Mr. West, Mrs. West, and Miss West, he set off on May 26. West, writing to Mrs. Montagu, says—


“Tunbridge Wells, May 27, 1753.

My dearest Cousin! My best and most valuable Friend!

“Your kind letter which I received on coming from Chapel is the most agreeable thing I have met with at Tunbridge, where we arrived last night about 7, after only stopping at Sen’nocks, and dining at Tunbridge Town. It came very seasonably to relieve my spirits which were much sunk by the extreme dejection which appears to-day in Mr. Pitt, from a night passed entirely without sleep, notwithstanding all the precautions which were taken within doors to make it still and quiet, and the accidental tranquillity arising from the present emptiness and desolation of this place, to which no other invalids, except ourselves are yet arrived, or even expected to arrive as yet. He began to drink the waters to-day, but as they are sometimes very slow in their operations, I much fear both he and those friends who cannot help sympathizing with him, will suffer a great deal before the wished-for effect will take place, for this Insomnium his Physicians have prescribed Opiates, a medicine which, in this case, though they may procure a temporary ease, yet often after recoil upon the spirits. He seems inclined to take Musk, and intends to talk with Molly about it. I think his Physicians have been to blame in giving all their attention to the disorder in his bowels, and not sufficiently regarding the Distemperature of his spirits, a Disease much more to be apprehended than the other; while he continues under this Oppression, I am afraid it will be impossible for me to leave him, as he fancies me of the greatest use to him as a friend, and a comforter, but I hope in God he will soon find some alteration for the better, of which I shall be glad to give you the earliest information. In the meantime I beg you will take care of your health, and as the most effectual means of establishing it, I most earnestly desire you will follow Mr. Montagu’s exhortations to repair forthwith to Tunbridge, as by so doing you will not only contribute to the regaining your own [32]health, but to the comfort and felicity of some here who love you.... Kitty, Molly and Mr. Pitt desire their affectionate compliments. Molly begs you will communicate this account of Mr. Pitt to Sir G(eorge) L(yttelton).”


In West’s next letter, of May 30, he says—

“I think Mr. Pitt is somewhat better, tho’ his spirits are too low to allow him to think so, and his nights are still sleepless without the aid of Opiates. I write this from the ‘Stone House’ to which we were driven by the noisy situation of our house at the foot of Mount Sion. How many pleasing ideas our present habitation recalls I leave you to judge, though there needs no such artificial helps to make you ever present to my memory.... Mr. Pitt is lodged in your room, and I in that which was Mr. Montagu’s dressing-room on the ground floor.”

The Montagus and Wests together had rented the “Stone House” the year before this. On May 31 West writes to say he is leaving Mr. William Lyttelton with Mr. Pitt, and will return to Wickham on Saturday, and dine with Mrs. Montagu at Hayes en route. He adds, “Mr. Pitt feels a little gout in his foot, which we hope will increase so as to be an effectual Remedy for all his disorders.”

On June 6, West, who had been commissioned to find a house for Mrs. Montagu, looks at the last two left on Mount Ephraim, a Mr. Spooner’s and a Mr. Sele’s; he decided on the latter, orders the chimney to be made higher, and a hovel put on it to stop smoking, and to order the owners to lie in the beds to air them!

“The price he told me was 4 guineas a week, or thirty-five guineas for the whole season, that is till Michaelmas, or a week or two over; for this price you [33]are to have stabling for eight horses, and a coach house for two carriages.... Mrs. West will be obliged to you if you will bring her jewels with you.”

Mrs. Montagu arrived at Tunbridge on June 11, and on the 13th writes to her husband, then in London, to say

“my cough is much abated, and my appetite increased: the asses’ milk sits well on my stomach.... I have a constant invitation to dinner at the ‘White House’; Mr. Pitt is too ill to dine abroad, and the Wests cannot leave him, so as often as I am disposed for company, I dine there; the rest of my time passes in taking air and exercise, and now and then the relief of a book.”


On account of the Jew Bill and other unpopular measures coming before Parliament, a General Election was anticipated, and Lord Sandwich was already arranging for it by canvassing his constituents, and those at Huntingdon, and summoned Mr. Montagu to meet him at Hinchinbrooke the second week in August. Previous to this he spent a few days with his wife at Tunbridge hence proceeding to Yorkshire for his annual estate business. Old Mr. Robinson accompanied his friend, Sir Edward Dering, to canvass for him in Kent, and his daughter says, “My Father would have made a good counterpart to Sir Edward Dering; if bon mots could carry a county, I know few that would care to contend with them.”

Previous to going to Tunbridge, Mrs. Montagu placed her two young charges, Miss Carter and Miss Botham, in a boarding-school. She writes to her sister Sarah—


“Mr. Montagu thought Miss Carter’s dancing would be better improved if she went to School, and he is as desirous she should be a fine dancer as if she was to be a Maid of Honour. I was the more willing in regard to Miss Botham going, for my cousin is of such a ‘diversian’ temper, as Cotes used to express it, that I feared she would not be easily restrained in a place of this sort; she is a fine girl, but so lively and so idle, she requires infinite care. With great capacity of learning she has prodigious desire to be idle, and thinks it quite hard not to take her share of all the diversions she hears of. On being asked how she liked London she said very well, but should do so much better if she was to go to Ranelagh every night! I have left them at a very good school, but an expensive one; however, they are only to stay there till the 15th of August, for then the school breaks up, and if I do not leave this place sooner, they must come. I believe no gouvernante ever took half the pains I have done with these children, explaining to them everything they read, and talking to them on all points of behaviour.”


On July 4, in a letter to Mr. Montagu, who was at Theakstone, his wife writes—

“All the family at the ‘Stone House’ and myself in their train went yesterday to Penshurst; we spent a good deal of time in viewing the pictures. I was most pleased with the portraits, as I know not any family that for Arts and Arms, greatness of courage and nobility of mind have excelled the Sydney Race. Beauty too, has been remarkable in it.”

And on July 8—

“It has been much the turn of the Society I am in to go out in parties to see places, and last post day we settled upon an expedition of this sort with such precipitation, I had not opportunity to write without keeping the company waiting. We went to see an old seat[35] of a Mr. Brown’s; it is well situated, was built by Inigo Jones, has some fine portraits.... We went from this venerable seat to a place called New Vauxhall, where Mr. Pitt had provided us a good dinner; the view from it is romantic; we staid there till the cool of the evening, and then returned home. We drank tea yesterday in the most beautiful rural scene that can be imagined, which Mr. Pitt had discovered in his morning’s ride about half a mile from hence; he ordered a tent to be pitched, tea to be prepared, and his French horn to breathe music like the unseen genius of the wood: the company dined with me, and we set out, number 8.... Sir George Lyttelton and Mr. Bower are come to spend a few days with Mr. Pitt.”

To this her husband replies, “I very much approve of the excursions you make, and think the more the better, as they both entertain the mind and give exercise to the body.” He adds, the epidemic then raging amongst cattle in England had not been so severe on his northern property as in other parts of the country.


Mr. Pitt went to Hastings for two days, and on his return, Mr. West made a tour to Canterbury, Dover, etc., which lasted five days. Dr. Smith,[45] Mr. Montagu’s old friend, was then at Tunbridge, and Mrs. Montagu says—

“We fell into discourse upon some embellishments and ornaments to be added to the fine Library at Trinity College. There are to be 26 Bustos put up, 13 in memory of the ancients, 13 of modern, these are to be cast in plaister of Paris: but Mrs. Middleton talks of a fine Marble Busto of Dr. Middleton to be done by Roubilliac,[46] which I think very proper, as he was so[36] eminent, there should be a public memorial of him, and as he was long Librarian it is proper it should be in that place: there are likewise to be 48 portraits of considerable persons that have been of the College.”

[45] Dr. Robert Smith, then Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. Founded “Smith’s Prizes.”

[46] Louis François Roubilliac, born 1695, died 1762. Eminent sculptor.

To this Mr. Montagu replies—

“I am very well pleased with what Dr. Smith is doing at Trinity College. I hope he has not lay’d aside the noble design he had form’d of having a Statue[47] of the great Newton. Such men as he and Dr. Middleton should be represented in something more durable than plaister of Paris, and I honour Mrs. Middleton for her intention.”

[47] In 1755 Dr. Smith gave the statue of Sir I. Newton, sculptured by Roubilliac.


After seeing to the business consequent on his trusteeship to his cousin, Mr. Rogers, of Newcastle, Mr. Montagu had returned to Theakstone on July 29. He describes Gibside, the seat of Mr. Bowes[48]

“I dined this day sennight at Gibside; it was one of the finest summer days I ever saw. It set off to great advantage the whole vale through which the river Tyne runs, which consists of a great deal of good rich land. The Moors, tho’ not so pleasing to the eye, make abundant amends by the riches of the mines. All the gentlemen are planting and adorning their Seats, but nothing comes up to the grandeur and magnificence of what Mr. Bowes has done, and is a (sic), doing, I mean without doors, for his house is but an indifferent one. It stands in the midst of a great wood of about 400 acres, through which there are a great many noble walks and rides interspers’d with fine lawns, with a rough river running thro’ it, on each side of which are very high rocks, which gives it a very romantick look. Mr. Bowes is at present[37] upon a work of great magnificence, which is the erecting a column of above 140 feet high. This, as far as I know, may be the largest that ever was erected by a subject in this Island, and may yield to nothing but the Monument at London. I ought not to omit telling you that he has already erected upon a rising ground a gothick building which he calls a Banquetting room, in which the night before there was a concert of Musick (sic), at which Jordain and an Italian woman performed, whom Mrs. Lane[49] brought with her from Bramham Moor, from which she came in a day.... On Monday I dined with Sir Thomas Clavering.[50] This gentleman’s house is very old and bad, but the situation good and prospect pleasant. He has made a long road leading to his house and improved his park, and made a serpentine river.... He has also, as well as all the other gentlemen in that county, made a kitchen garden with very high walls, planted with the finest fruit trees. I question not peaches and nectarines may succeed very well, but for grapes they must be beholden to fire.”

[48] George Bowes, of Streatlam Castle, and Gibside, Durham.

[49] Mrs. Lane, of Bramham Park, Yorkshire.

[50] 7th Baronet, related to the Roger family, Oxwell Park.


From this it would appear that walled kitchen gardens were new things in the North then; probably “Kail yards” reigned supreme. Miss Carter and Miss Botham now joined Mrs. Montagu at Tunbridge from their school. Another excursion to Stonelands[51] with Mr. Pitt took place, and in a letter to Mr. Montagu on August 3 we learn—

“This dry Summer has been so favourable to the Waters that they have made several surprising cures. I think Mr. Pitt may be numbered amongst them. The first time I saw the Duke of Bolton,[52] I could hardly[38] imagine he would last a month, but seeing him again yesterday I was amazed at the amendment.”

[51] A seat of the Duke of Dorset’s, now called Buckhurst, in Surrey.

[52] 3rd Duke; he died August 26, 1754. Married as second wife Lavinia Fenton, alias “Polly Peacham.”


In the afternoons Mrs. Montagu and Mr. Pitt were attending Mr. King’s lectures on philosophy, etc., and “Mr. Pitt, who is desirous of attaining some knowledge in this way, makes him explain things very precisely.” In another letter she says—

“Miss Carter will excell in dancing. I did not think it right she should dance Minouets at the ball till she was quite perfect in it, but Mr. West, Mr. Pitt and all their family and some other company were here the other day, and I made her dance a Minouet with Master West by way of using her to do it in company; she acquitted herself so well as to get great commendation.”

As usual, the husband and wife exchanged loving letters on the anniversary of their wedding-day, August 5. Mrs. Montagu mentions—

“There is a report that Lord Coke is dying; his wife, Lady Mary, is here; she is extremely pretty, her air and figure the most pleasing I ever saw. She is not properly a beauty, but she has more agrémens than one shall often see. With so many advantages of birth, person and fortune, I do not wonder at her resentment being lively, and that she could ill brook the neglects and insults of her husband.”

Lady Mary was the daughter of the 2nd Duke of Argyll and Duke of Greenwich. She is often mentioned by Horace Walpole. Her husband treated her with great brutality, and she gained a separation from him. He died August 31, 1753; she survived him till 1811.


John Nixon, pxt.]



Mr. Herbert is mentioned as being very ill at Tunbridge; this was the uncle of the 6th Earl of Carnarvon,[39] of Highclere Castle, Hants. Mr. Montagu says, “He has done a great deal to adorn and beautify Highclere; he had designed to do much more, if he dies it will want his finishing hand.” On August 13 Mrs. Montagu writes to her husband—

“Mr. Nash[53] had a fit yesterday, by which it is imagined this Monarch will soon resign that Empire over Mankind, which in so extraordinary a manner he gained and has preserved. The Young Pretender is now known to be at Passi, near Paris, where he keeps himself so concealed that he may on any project be able to leave it without exciting the attention of the people. It is said in case of a Minority he will make us a visit. Lord Rochford intercepted a letter from a Cardinal in France to his brother in Italy, in which he said he had supped with Prince Charles the night before. I hear this young adventurer is much a favorite with the French officers and soldiers, whose romantic visions of honour may excite them to do more than even the policy of their Monarque requires.”

[53] Richard Nash, “Beau Nash,” Leader of Fashion at Bath and Tunbridge, born 1674, died 1761.

On August 20 Mr. Montagu arrived at Hinchinbroke to stay with Lord Sandwich, in order to beat up votes for the next election for Huntingdon and the county. A Mr. Jones, an eminent merchant, was to be his fellow-candidate.

“On Tuesday we are to go about the town and canvass, where an entertainment will be prepared for the Burgesses, who will to-morrow night be treated with their wives, with a ball for them only, a thing intirely new and which must produce something new and out of the common. On Friday we shall be at liberty to move off, but on Monday night we are to meet and entertain the Londoners at the King’s Head, Holbourn.”


Writing on August 21 to Mrs. Boscawen, Mrs. Montagu mentions—

“I am living in the very house my dear Mrs. Boscawen inhabited three years ago. At the Stone Castle reside Mr. Pitt, Mr. and Mrs. West and Miss West. Instead of making parties at Whist or Cribbage, and living with and like the beau monde, we have been wandering about like a company of gipsies, visiting all the fine parks and seats in the neighbourhood.”

These excursions were much encouraged by Mr. Pitt, who considered them “as good for the mind as the body,” and that an occasional day without drinking the waters gave them a greater effect.

Mention of a ventriloquist now occurs as something new—

“I have been this morning to hear the man who has a surprising manner of throwing his voice into the Drawer, a bottle, your pocket, up the chimney, or where he pleases within a certain distance.... I was last night at Mr. King’s, we had the Orrery and an astronomical lecture.”

Illustration: THE CIRCUS, AT BATH.

Thos. Malton, pxt.]



Mr. Montagu joined his wife for a week at Tunbridge, when he had to return to London. On September 16 she writes to him—

“I intend to be with you on Thursday.... I find Mr. Pitt has some intentions, as I told you when you was here, of going to Heys, in case he should not be well enough to take the long journey he intends, and he seems much pleased that I will lend him that little tenement; but as I apprehend a feather bed more will be wanted than used to be, I propose to send one from Hill Street.... Mr. Pitt leaves this place to-morrow, he is now going to Dr. Ascough’s, and from thence to [41]Stowe[54] and Hagley.[55] Mr. West goes to Stowe with him.”

[54] Lady Cobham’s.

[55] Sir George Lyttelton’s seat.

Probably it was from this time that Pitt took such a fancy to Hayes, which endured all his lifetime.


The next letter to Gilbert West I transcribe in portions—

“Sandleford, September 27, 1753.

My most honoured Cousin,

“Your kind and agreeable letter restored me in some measure to the temper I lost at going out of town the very day you came to it. I know not what poets may find in the country, when they have filled the woods with sylvan Deities, and the rivers with Naides; but to me groves and streams and plains make poor amends for the loss of a friend’s conversation. You have better supplied Mr. Pitt’s absence by reading the Orations of his predecessor, Demosthenes, and I can easily imagine you would rather have passed the evening with the British than the Grecian Demosthenes, whom in talents perhaps he equals, and in grace of manners and the sweet civilities of life, I dare say he excels. But when you seem to say you would even have preferred the simple small talk of your poor cousin to the Athenian Orator, I cry out,—Oh wondrous power of friendship, which like the sun gives glorious colours to a vapour, and brightens the pebble to a gem, till what would have been neglected by the common herd is accepted by the most distinguished.... On Tuesday morning about eight o’clock I called upon Mr. Hooke at his hermitage. I found him like a true Savant surrounded by all the elements of Science, but though I roamed round the room, I could not perceive any signs of the Author, no papers, pen, ink, or sheets just come from the press. I fear the fine ladies and fine prospects of Cookham divert his attention from the Roman History.... I[42] desired him to carry me to Mrs. Edwin’s, which I heard was a pretty place.[56] There is an old ferry woman who crosses the Thames very often before Mrs. Edwin’s terrace.... While we were in Mrs. Edwin’s garden he betrayed my name to her ... she came down, showed me her house and the pictures, which are very fine, but the views from her windows gave one no leisure to consider the works of art.... Cliefden Hill rises majestically in view, and the only flat shore you see from this place lies straight before it, and is a large plain of the finest verdure and full of cattle.”

[56] Could this be Hedsor?


To this letter Gilbert West replies—

“I am glad your journey to Sandleford was relieved by the agreeable digression you made to Cookham, where I hope to find, at least in the memory of Mr. Hooke, the vestiges of your having been there, which will be an additional motive to me to make him a visit from Stoke, for I am going once more from Wickham, notwithstanding the neighbourhood of Sir Thomas Robinson,[57] the Archbishop,[58] and Bower, and the arrival of my Urn, which is to come this very day, and which Mr. Cheer hath taught me to consider as an emblem and monument of the polished, elegant and accomplished Mrs. Montagu, by assuring me ‘that it is indebted for all the extraordinary and highly finished ornaments he hath bestowed upon it, to the great regard and veneration he hath for her, and that he will not either for love or money make such another.’ ... I was paying a visit at Fulham, where I enjoyed the smiles of my beloved Bishop,[59] the presence of Mrs. Sherlock, and the agreeable conversation of Mrs. Chester, with the more substantial delicacies of an excellent English Venison Pasty.”

Further on he says he is going to Lillingston Dayrell to see his mother, Lady Langham.

[57] “Long” Sir Thomas, Mrs. Montagu’s cousin.

[58] Archbishop Secker.

[59] Thomas Sherlock, born 1678, died 1761. Bishop of London.



In the next letter (Oct. 3) from Sandleford to Mr. West occurs this sentence, “Mr. Montagu returned hither on Monday with the new four-wheeled post-chaise; it is the pleasantest machine imaginable in rough roads, but I think it too easy on even roads.” The coachmen had nothing intermediate between the two-wheeled vehicles and the ponderously long six- or four-horsed coach, which required elaborate skill in turning.

Staying again at Fulham, Mr. West mentions that he has been urging Bishop Sherlock to publish some of his sermons, which he promised to do. West had a fresh attack of the gout, which made him return home. Mr. Pitt had left Hayes suddenly for Bath, Tunbridge waters not having been of sufficient use to him; and in a letter of October 13, to West, in capital letters, her inquiries not being answered, Mrs. Montagu asks, “I desire TO KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE HEARD CONCERNING MR. PITT’S HEALTH?” Describing her daily life, she says she keeps up the Tunbridge habit of driving an hour or so after dinner (which, it must be remembered, was then early) over the adjacent common; after these airings she drank tea, and retired to her dressing-room for two or three hours of reading.

On October 14 West writes—

“The Duke and Duchess of Portland, with two of their daughters, dined here last Thursday, and we are to make them a morning’s visit to-morrow at Bullstrode. Her Grace was extremely courteous and obliging to me, but never made any inquiry after you, which piqued me so much, that I put her against her upon talking about Mr. Botham, and from what she said about the distrest situation of his family, took occasion to extol you as the[44] most generous and sincere friend, and indeed the only one the poor man could depend on.”


The reader will have doubtless missed the frequent mention of the duchess and her letters. There is no doubt that the coolness between the quondam intimate friends was on account of the Scott separation. It will be remembered the duchess sided with Mrs. Scott’s engagement against Mrs. Montagu’s opinion. After the Scott separation, probably influenced by her intimate friend, Lady Bute, who with the Princess of Wales seems to have defended him,[60] the duchess appears to have taken his part; but his true character is shown by the fact that the Prince of Wales (George III.), on being given a Household in 1756, begged that Scott[61] should not be continued about him, and to make up for this dismissal he was given a commissionership in the Excise. Later on the duchess and Mrs. Montagu had a rapprochement, but the letters were never as cordial as in previous times.

[60] Vide Walpole’s “Memoirs of the Reign of George III.,” vol. ii. p. 259.

[61] Scott is said to have been a Jacobite secretly. That he was double-faced is evident from letters.


Writing from Lillingston on October 27, West describes his visit to Bullstrode—

“I was very kindly received both at Bullstrode and Cookham; at the former we were shown a great many fine and great many curious things, both in doors and without; the day proved too cold, and I was not enough recovered to see all the rarities of the animal as well as the vegetable kind, which were dispersed over the Park and gardens. Those that might be seen from the windows, as some spotted Sheep and a little Bull from Fort St. David’s, whose resemblance I have often seen in China ware, I beheld with admiration and applause, and [45]ventured two steps into the garden to take a view of the orange trees against the wall.... Her Grace promised to make me a present of some trained up for that purpose. In her closet we were shown some curious works in Shells, performed by Mrs. Delany, whom her Grace expected at Bullstrode in a short time, and expressed great pleasure and not a little impatience in the prospect of seeing so dear and so ingenious a friend. Of you she said nothing, till upon her naming Mrs. Donnellan, I said I could give her some account of her, having been informed by you that she was gone to town; she then asked when I heard from you, and where you was, but carried her enquiry after you no further. At Cookham I spent some hours with Mrs. Stanley, for Mr. Hooke had gone out with Mrs. Edwin to make a visit to Dr. Freind....” He further states that he found his mother well, and “very little alter’d since I last saw her, excepting that she has grown a little fatter, a circumstance to a woman of seventy is greatly preferable to wrinkles. In my way thro’ Stowe Park I met Miss Banks riding out with Lord Vere,[62] of her I enquired much about Mr. Pitt, and received from her the same answer, which I must have made for your enquiries after him, that they had heard nothing of him since he left Stowe.... While he staid at Stowe he was in good health and spirits, he went from thence to Hagley, and she believed he intended to go from Hagley to Bath.”

[62] Baron Vere, of Hanworth.

On November 10 Mrs. Donnellan, to whom Mrs. Montagu had lent her house in Hill Street, whilst she searched for lodgings in the suburbs, her lungs not permitting her to live in the town during the winter, writes—

“I have taken a little house on tryal at Kensington Gravel Pits ... both Richardson’s house at Northend and Mrs. Granville’s at Chelsey I think too low for [46]me.... I want you to read ‘Sir Charles Grandison,’ it is not formed on your plan of banishing delicacy. I am afraid it carrys it too far on t’other side, and is too fine spun, but there are fine things and fine characters in it, and I don’t know how it is, but his tediousness gives one an eagerness to go on; there is a love-sick madness that I think extremely fine and touching, but if you have not read it I must not forestall. I think I will own to you, the great fault of my friend’s writings, there is too much of everything. I really laughed at your nursery of ‘Clarissas,’ but I hope you did not think of me as the old nurse, there was nobody there while I stayed!”


Mr. Richardson had just completed his novel of Sir Charles Grandison. The Clarissas is an allusion to Miss Botham and Miss Carter, then with Mrs. Montagu.

This same month Mrs. Montagu was again very unwell. West urged her to go to London, but Mr. Montagu, who loved the retirement at Sandleford, was unwilling to leave it, and she says—

“Tho’ I am told I may go to town, I know it would not be agreeable where I ought to please, and I can hardly think it right to be in such haste to quit the place where I live most in the manner I ought to do, where only I am useful. I relieve the distresses and animate the industry of a few, and have given all my hours to the two girls under my care, whose welfare, whose eternal welfare perhaps, depends on what they shall now learn.”

Mr. Hooke and Mr. Botham were both at Sandleford. In Mr. Hooke’s conversation Mrs. Montagu found much enjoyment; as West put it, “He (Hooke) is a very worthy man, and has in him the greatest compass of[47] entertainments of any one I know, from nonsense (as Lord Bath calls it), to sense, and beyond sense to Metaphysics.”


On December 20 Mrs. West writes to present her Christmas wishes, and Mr. West’s, to the Montagus, as “Tubby” (Mr. West), as was his uneuphonious family nickname, had the gout in both hands. Mrs. Montagu writes to him—

“The 27th of December, 1753.

“And what, my dear Cousin, are both hands prisoners of the gout! such innocent hands too! Hands that never open’d to receive or give a bribe, that never dipped into the guilt of the South Sea fraud, of Charitable Corporations, or pilfer’d lottery tickets, clean even from perquisite in office, and the most modest means by which the Miser’s palm wooes and sollicits gain. So far have your hands been from grasping at other’s gold, they have not held fast your own with a tenacious grip, but open’d liberally at the petitions of the poor, for the productions of Art, or to feast your friends at the genial board. Most of all do I resent the fate of the writing hand, which was first dedicated to the Muses, then with maturer judgment consecrated to the Nymphs of Solyma, and shall it be led captive by the cruel gout? Why did you sing the triumphs[63] of the dire goddess? Oh, why could you not describe them unfelt, as Poets often do the softer pains and gentler woes of Venus and her Son?”

[63] West wrote a poem entitled “The Triumphs of the Gout.”


The first amusing paper I have of 1754 is a school bill for the two younger Miss Bothams, Molly and Kitty. I am sorry that several of the items are torn away, but it is curious as to things then required, and also for the extraordinarily bad spelling and wording of the preceptor entrusted with their care. It is addressed to—


“The Revd. Docʳ Botham,


“According to your desire by the honour of your Last, I send you the Bill of the two Miss’s Botham, your daughters, to ye first of this month, altho’ wee had spoak of it before the Holydays I had quite forgot it, and was very easy on that account. I hope, Sir, that you’r satisfied of us, if so I shall alwise thry, as well as my wife, to do all wee can to improve your daughters in everything, especially in their Morals and manners. I was very sorry of your last indisposition, and hope you’r much better, it is the sincere wish of

“Your most humble
and obedient Servant,

E. Sage Roberts.

“Kensington, the 20th January, 1754.

“P.S.—My wife with her compliments to you joyns with me in compts. of the Saison, wishing you health, prosperity and all you can wish yourself for many years.”

The two Miss’s Botham’s Bill.

“To Board from the 9th of August, 1753, to the 1st January, 1754, at £25 per year, maketh 19160
To a Seat at Church 086
To copy Books, pens, pencils, Ink, paper, &c. 070
To the Dancing Master 410
To sundry things furnished, viz.—
To a chest of Draws 150
To silver spoons, knife and Fork. 110
To a tea chest 0(torn off)
To a Spelling book, 1 Grammar 03-
To two Hats and two Bonets 0150
To three pair of Shoes 0(torn)
To Gloves, 6 pairs 0(torn)
[49]To tea and suger 0(torn)
To Thread, Tape and pins, needles, worsted, laces, &c. 013-
To Hair cutting, Pomatum Powder (torn)
To Pocket Money 0109
To Pots and Mugs, &c. 016
To a percel recd. by the Coach 002
To Soap, Oatmeal for to wash, &c. 026
Total 30150

In the beginning of March in this year Mr. Pelham, the Premier, died suddenly, and there was a General Election. Mr. Pelham’s brother, the Duke of Newcastle, was appointed first Lord of the Treasury; Mr. Legge, Mr. Botham’s uncle, Chancellor of the Exchequer; Sir George Lyttelton, Cofferer. Mr. Montagu proceeded to Hinchinbrooke early in April to canvass, and his wife writes to him on the 11th—

“I hope you had a pleasant journey, and arrived without fatigue. You are proceeding quietly and well at Huntingdon, while many are hustling with infinite animosity in other Boroughs. The votes are eleven hundred paid a piece at Bury as I am informed.... Morris is very busy with the Canterbury Voters, he does not like them so well as law Clients.”

Morris was canvassing for his elder brother Matthew, of Horton.

Mr. Montagu writes on April 16 to say, “Yesterday our Election came on, and was, I believe, one of the most quiet and peaceable that ever was.”


In her next letter to her husband she says—

“I have had a letter to-day from my brother Robinson, informing me that he is chosen along with[50] Creed; Mr. Best declined the Poll. My brother has carried his Election without expence.... I cannot take leave of you without expressing my pride and satisfaction in seeing you again enter the House of Commons, where you have behaved with such steadiness and integrity. I have a joy and pride whenever I reflect on any part of your moral character. May your virtues meet with the happiness they deserve!”


Bower writes to Mrs. Montagu on April 16 from Oakhampton, where he had gone with Sir George Lyttelton for his election, in fervid Italian. He was disgusted at the orgy of the election, and says that at the election dinner given by the mayor and magistrates in their robes to Sir George Lyttelton, they sat down at 3 o’clock p.m., and none rose to leave till two in the morning! “e tutti, o quasi tutti partirono cordialmente ubbriachi” (“and all, nearly all, parted thoroughly drunk”). He continues, “The cavaliers then went from house to house to kiss the ladies, as was customary, and ask for the votes of their husbands.” After fervid speeches made to the “celeste imagine della Madonna del Monte e della Strada del Monte” (the celestial image of the Madonna of the Mount and the Madonna of Hill Street), meaning Mrs. Montagu, his pen is taken up by Lyttelton, who says, “The Italian language affords such lofty expressions, as the poverty of ours will not come up to, and therefore the Madonna must be content with my telling her that the good Father with all his Devotion does not honour her more than I do....” At the end of his letter he says, “I hear from my wife that my Boy has been with you: a thousand thanks for your goodness to him.” This is the first mention of Thomas, afterwards 2nd Baron Lyttelton, then only ten years old. Lyttelton had early besought the interest and influence of Mrs. Montagu for his son and daughter by[51] his first marriage. Both became truly attached to her, would that her influence had prevailed on “Tom” later in life.

At this period Mrs. Donnellan was very ill, and Mrs. Montagu did her best to nurse her. Lady Sandwich came to town to inoculate her daughter, Lady Mary. Miss Mary Pitt had been to see Mrs. Montagu, and “she assures me Mr. Pitt is in good health, but has had another attack of gout in his hand, owing, ’tis imagined, to his being blooded for a sore throat.”

Mr. Montagu at this period sustained the heavy loss of his faithful agent, the second Mr. Carter, who died at Theakstone, and whose loss necessitated his immediate journey to the north to attend to his own and Mr. Rogers’ affairs, all of which had been confided to Mr. Carter’s care. Taking Mr. Botham as his temporary secretary and companion, they started off northward by post-chaises, a most expensive process, as Mr. Montagu called it. On June 13 Mrs. Montagu writes—

“I am sorry Mrs. Carter (the grandmother), has set her heart so much on having her granddaughter with her, she is of the proper age to receive instruction and take impressions; a few years passed innocently will not leave her as amiable a subject as she is now, her mind will be less flexible.... Mr. Pitt drank tea with me this afternoon; he has recovered his health entirely, if one may judge by his looks. He tells me he has built a very good house at Bath for £1200. He mention’d to me his intention of going on Saturday to Wickham to propose the place at Chelsea to Mr. West, the offer will certainly be an agreeable one.”

This place was that of the paymaster to Chelsea College. In the next letter to Mrs. Boscawen, Mrs. Montagu says—


“The place is call’d a thousand pounds a year, it is in the gift of Mr. Pitt, and was given with grace that few know how to put into any action ... they have excellent lodgings annexed to the place.... Mr. Pitt dined with them on Saturday; I imagine he was very happy, but he so well deserved to be so. It is a fine thing to act the part of Providence and bless the good. Miss Carter was sent for by her old grandmother, last week she left me.”

Writing to her husband on June 15, Mrs. Montagu states she shall be glad to hear as soon as Mr. Montagu thinks he will return, “that I may disfurnish Hayes, which I shall quit as a man does a homely but a quiet wife, with some little regret, but not much tender sorrow; it is not a beautiful place, but it is quiet, and when one steps out of the bustle of Town, appears on that account amiable.” She adds that her sister’s health is greatly improved, and her temper less petulant, on account of having taken to a milk and vegetable diet.

On July 9 Mrs. Montagu mentions—

“My brother Robinson came to town last night; he dined here to-day, and we are all going to Vauxhall, where Mr. Tyers has had the ruins of Palmyra painted in the manner of the scenes so as to deceive the eye and appear buildings.”

Her sister Sarah and brother Charles were with her. She concludes with an affectionate appeal to her husband not to apply himself too much to business at Newcastle, but to take exercise for his health’s sake.


In another letter undated, but about this period, as it mentions West’s thanks to Mr. Montagu for his congratulations on his appointment to Chelsea Hospital, allusion is made to Elizabeth Canning, whose curious [53]story of having been kidnapped[64] and ill-treated had convulsed London opinion.

“The town is in great agitation about Elizabeth Canning; she is condemn’d to Transportation, but her guilt is so far from appearing certain, that the Sheriffs refuse to conduct her among the other felons. All the Aldermen but Sir Crispe Gascoigne[65] petition in her behalf, all the great officers of the State almost, interpose for her, and the Archbishop of Canterbury also desires that she may have a decent person of her own sex to attend her over, and then to board in a private family. Some fear there will be a rising of the Mob in her favour; in general all seem to agree that the matter is entirely doubtful. As to Sir Crispe Gascoigne he dare not stir without being guarded.... I wish the whole affair was brought to light, there is great iniquity somewhere.”

[64] Vide vol. ix., Smollett, “History of England,” p. 231.

[65] Then Lord Mayor of London.

On July 19, writing from Hayes, she says—

“Miss Mary Pitt, youngest sister of Mr. Pitt, is come to stay a few days with me, she is a very sensible, modest, pretty sort of young woman, and as Mr. Pitt seem’d to take every civility shown to her as a favour, I thought this mark of respect to her one manner of returning my obligations to him.”

Mr. Montagu and Mr. Botham proceeded to Newcastle to regulate Mr. Rogers’ affairs, which, as before mentioned, required attention, owing to the death of the head agent, Mr. Carter.

In consequence probably of worry, Mr. Montagu returned from the north at the end of July with a fever, “which,” as his wife writes to Sarah, “bleeding and wormwood draughts have taken off,” and as soon as he [54]was fit he was to go with her to Hayes to pack up her books. Miss Anstey was staying with them, and was to accompany them to Sandleford. Mention is made of a portrait of herself which Mrs. Montagu was going to send Mrs. Scott: “Mr. Cambridge call’d on me the other day, he spoke much in your praise. I told him I hoped he would call on you at Bath, he promised he would.” This was Richard Owen Cambridge,[66] a friend of Dr. Johnson, who wrote the “Scribbleriad.”

[66] Mr. Cambridge died in 1802.

Writing to West from Sandleford of her neighbours at Hayes, she regrets the society of Mrs. Herring and the Archbishop,[67] and desires her regards to them. He answers—

“I made your compliments to the Archbishop and Mrs. Herring, who dined with us the very day I received your letter. He is very well and as amiable and polite as ever. Dick[68] has been very dilligent and very successful in partridge shooting, and t’other day sent the prime fruits of his labours, a landrail, as a present to his Grace of Canterbury.”

[67] Thomas Herring, born 1671, died 1757. Archbishop of Canterbury.

[68] Young West.


At the beginning of September, through the influence of West, the Bishop of London gave the living of Ealing to Mr. Botham. Botham was at Brighthelmstone with his two boys for sea-bathing, as they were not in health. The joy of Mrs. Montagu was great at this preferment, as the bishop permitted Mr. Botham to continue to hold Albury as well, placing a curate in the living he did not occupy.


Writing again to West, Mrs. Montagu says—

“Dr. Mangey kept a curate at Ealing as he did not reside there, but undoubtedly Mr. Botham will discharge [55]the duties of the living he resides at without assistance; the Bishop of London required Mr. Botham’s residence: as the girls and boys are growing up and must soon live with him, they will be better placed at Ealing in a good neighbourhood than at Albury. They will learn nothing there but eating and drinking plentifully of Lord Aylesford, and Mr. Godschall’s house is generally full of poetic Misses, who are addressing each other by the names of Parthenia, Araminta, etc., with now and then a little epistle to Strephon or Damon. I was uneasy whenever they were at home, for fear they should enter into the precieuse character of Mrs. Godschall.”

This style of conversation is taken off in Molière’s “Precieuses Ridicules.”

West’s mother, Lady Langham was now paying her son a visit. Mrs. Montagu writes—

“I think the vast territories of imagination could not afford any view so pleasing as the meeting of such a son and such a mother; the pictures not only pleased my mind, but warm’d my heart ... that you may at Lady Langham’s age be as well able to take a journey, and your son as well deserve, and as joyfully receive such a visit is my sincerest and most earnest wish ... another pleasure attends you all, and which your benevolence and not your pride will feel, that of setting an example of those various charities, of parent, child, husband and wife, which make the happiness of domestic life; and there is surely more honour in filling well the circle mark’d of Heaven in these spheres of relation, than in running the wild career of Ambition in its most shining track. Indeed there is no part of a conduct that so certainly deserves our approbation as an acquittance of family regards. Actions of a public nature often are inspired by vanity, domestic behaviour has not popular applause for its object, tho’ with the sober judgment, as Mr. Pope says of silence, ‘its very want of voice makes it a kind of fame.’”


She then proceeds to thank West eloquently for Botham’s presentation to Kingston (this must be a mistake for Ealing), and ends with desiring some paper hangings “she and Mrs. Isted had laboriously adorned” to be taken down with care at her house at Hayes, but leaves the rest of the hangings to the landlord. “I presume some retail grocer, haberdasher of small wares, or perhaps a tallow chandler, will shortly be in possession of my Castle at Hayes.”


At Sandleford were staying young Mr. Hateley, an artist, and Miss Anstey. The latter being in treaty for a house in London, accepted Mr. Montagu’s escort thither, and Mr. Hateley wishing to accompany them a portion of the way, mounted a horse, which flung him at the first start off and grievously cut and bruised him. The doctor was summoned after the departure of Mr. Montagu and Miss Anstey, who “blooded him, and he was ordered to take no food but balm tea lest he should have a fever.... The Harvest Home Supper last night was very jolly, the guests had as good appetite as those who meet to eat Turtle,” writes Mrs. Montagu to her husband on September 23.

Miss Anstey, having lost her parents, and Trumpington having become her brother’s property, had determined to live in London. She took Mr. Montagu to help her in choosing a residence in Queen Street, a new-built house for £800. Miss Anstey executed several commissions for Mrs. Montagu, amongst which she mentions, “I have sent several prints of Nun’s habits, some one of which I hope may become the beautiful Eloise, and I shall very much rejoice to hear she has taken the Veil.”

Mention is made in a previous letter of Mrs. Montagu’s of Hateley painting a picture of Eloise, but who sat for it I cannot say. Hateley recovered from [57]his accident. A new post-chaise had been ordered for the Montagus, and Mr. Montagu found it “nothing showy or brilliant,” but his wife assures him, “I shall find no fault with the plainness of the post-chaise, neatness being all that is aimed at.”


West, writing on October 8 from Wickham, says—

“I have the honour to agree with my dearest and most excellent cousin in looking upon writing letters as one of the evils of Human Life, and for that reason I have always declined engaging in a correspondence of that kind with anybody but her, tho’ I was once invited to it by the great Mr. Pope.... I am now turning my thoughts towards Chelsea, where I hope to be settled for the whole winter by the beginning of next month. My Mother and Mrs. Ives[69] go from hence to my brother’s[70] house in the country, where they will remain a week or ten days, and from there return to Lillingston.[71] Mr. and Mrs. Dayrell were prevented by the death of two of his Aunts from making us a visit at Wickham, by which accident and the absence of my sister Molly, my Mother lost the opportunity of exhibiting the pleasing picture of a Hen gathering with a careful and maternal tenderness all her chickens at once under her wings, but she will have them by turns.”

[69] Mrs. Ives appears to be Lady Langham’s sister.

[70] Temple West.

[71] Lillingston Dayrell in Bucks.

From this it would appear that Mrs. Dayrell was a daughter of Lady Langham’s. The Dayrells have owned Lillingston Dayrell for some eight hundred years!

Mrs. Medows writes from Chute on October 16 to Mrs. Montagu—

“I am impatient to wait on you; all the horses and all the Maids have been taken up with Wey Hill Fair,[72][58] now I hope to hire a couple of cart-horses: I dare not venture with a common postboy and horses, because the postboys are not used to a four-wheeled chaise, nor the Road I must go.... I wish you joy of a pleasure for life at least, the good you have done to Mr. Botham and his family.... I am pleased you have hired the wood, now one may walk in the bowling green without coveting what is your neighbour’s. I hope hiring is a step to purchasing; laying field to field is a natural thought and not a blameable one, when no injustice is meant. I have often thought what a pretty place Sandleford would be if it was bounded by the little river, Newbury Wash, and Greenham Heath.”

This wood was on the east side of Sandleford, and was eventually purchased, and Sandleford at this moment is bounded exactly as Mrs. Medows wished.

[72] On October 10 and five following days.

“A Buck, we are told, is come to Grateley, his name is Mitchell, he has laid out a £1000 in furnishing it completely, altho’ he could not be sure of having it more than a year. He intends to keep Stags in the paddocks, and turn them out on the Downs, which will give him fine chases. He says the Drawing room is a good drinking room.”


Sarah Scott and Lady Bab Montagu had taken a house at Bath Easton for use in the summer, and desiring plants for the garden there, Mrs. Montagu sends on November 6 to them a vast number of pinks, roses and honeysuckles, together with a home-cured ham. In the accompanying letter she mentions Ealing being

“two hundred pounds a year, his house a very pretty one, a good garden with a great deal of wall fruit, and there is a neighbourhood of genteel people, who have all shown him great civility.... Mr. Hateley is still with us, he has made a very pretty Landskip (sic) with Eloisa, [59]and her figure is pretty, her face amiably triste. He has done my portrait so like, and got a good likeness, and with a spirit in the countenance and attitude that is very uncommon.”


To this Sarah writes on November 17, to thank her for the plants and to say she and Lady Barbara had returned to Bath for the winter, Bath Easton being too near the water for them. She says—

“Have I sent you word of a subscription making for Nash? I believe it began since I wrote last. It is entitled a subscription for a ‘History of Bath and Tunbridge for these last 40 years,’ by Richard Nashe, Esqre., with an Apology for the Author’s life. The whole money, two guineas, is to be paid down at once, for he does not pretend any book is to come out. Some have subscribed 10 guineas, many five, and a great many hundred pounds are already subscribed. It is to be kept open for life, and people give to him who will not part with a guinea to relieve the greatest real and unmerited distress imaginable. The pretence is that he has but little more than £200 a year, which is not supposed true, but if it was, surely it is full equal to his merits, whether one considers them as moral or entertaining. To such ladies as have secret histories belonging to them, he hints that he knows every one’s private life and shall publish it. This place grows so full of subscriptions that no person of moderate fortune will long be able to come to it. The people of the rooms are endeavouring to obtain a subscription of half a guinea each man, and a crown each woman for the season. As yet it has not been complied with, but they require it with such insolence, that I make no doubt it will be complied with. I shall be glad to hear you are safely settled in Hill Street. I assure you the picture[73] you were so good as to give me is a great ornament to a pretty room, and people are so civil to me as to see the[60] likeness, which I take well of them; as it is placed near the fire it may grow warmer, which is all that can improve it.”

[73] A portrait of Mr. Montagu.

“Beau” Nash had reigned a despotic Master of the Ceremonies over Bath for fifty years, living in a most expensive style, mainly supported by his success at the gaming tables. The Act of Parliament against gambling put an end to his chief means of obtaining money. The Corporation, however, settled a pension of 120 guineas on him for his services. He was eighty-one years old at this period, having been born in 1673. His rules for general behaviour and manners are most amusing, but are too long to insert.

Illustration: THE KING’S BATH, AT BATH.

T. Rowlandson, pxt.]



At this time Mr. Pitt became engaged to Lady Hester Grenville, daughter of Mr. Richard Grenville and his wife, Lady Temple, and sister of Viscount Cobham. She was a cousin of West’s and Sir George Lyttelton’s.

On November 5 Mrs. Montagu writes to West—

My dear Cousin,

“Since the days that Cupid set Hercules to the distaff, he has not had a nobler conquest than over the elevated soul of Mr. Pitt. I congratulate you on the affinity, and I hope he will be happy: his long acquaintance with the lady makes the hazard much less than where people marry without knowing the disposition of the person they choose. I believe Lady Hester Grenville is very good-humoured, which is the principal article in the happiness of the Marriage State. Beauty soon grows familiar to the lover, wit may be pernicious, and many brilliant qualities troublesome; but a companion of gentle disposition softens cares and lightens sorrows. The sober matches made on reflection, are often happier than those made by sudden and violent passion, and I hope this will prove of this kind; and there is an authority in the character of Mr. Pitt, that will secure him the deference and obedience of his wife;[61] proud of him abroad, she will be humble to him at home; and having said so much, I consign them over to Hymen, who, I hope, will join their hands in the most auspicious hour. I was prevented writing to you by Sunday’s post, Dr. Pococke having stayed with us on Saturday night, and the first Sunday of the month I always go to Newbury Church;[74] the length of the service made me too late to write. I am glad Mr. Cambridge has been with you at Wickham.... We were in Wiltshire last week to visit Mrs. Medows.”

She ends with expressing a wish to exchange the country for London, but is determined not to say a word to Mr. Montagu, whose health had been recently restored by country air.

[74] St. Nicholas, Newbury. They generally attended Newtown church, as it was nearer.


In her next letter to West, of November 14, she says—

“As the Virtues and Graces as well as Cupid and Hymen will assist at Mr. Pitt’s nuptials, I think he could not choose a better place for their celebration than Wickham, their capital seat. I wish them many happy years together, and God bless them with health and every good.... I hope while you are at Croydon the good Archbishop will animate you to defy that foul fiend my Lord Bolingbroke; I believe I shall take some of Ward’s sneezing powder to clear my head of the impieties and impurities of his book. I am not satisfied with Mr. Warburton’s[75] answer, the levity shocks me, the indecency displeases me, the grossièreté disgusts me. I love to see the doctrine of Christianity defended by the spirit of Christianity. When absurdity is mix’d with impiety, it ceases to be a jest. I can laugh at his Lordship’s cavils at Mr. Locke, his envy to Plato and[62] all the old Philosophers, but I could with great seriousness apply to him the words of his friend and Poet to the Dunces—

“‘’Tis yours a Bacon and a Locke to blame,
A Newton’s genius or a Milton’s flame.
But oh! with one, immortal one dispense
The source of Newton’s light or Bacon’s sense.’

But I must do his Lordship the justice to say that what he wants in faith he makes up in confidence, for after having assured you it is absurd to affirm God is just or good, he declared he is willing to trust the being whose attributes he cannot know, to dispose of him in another world, not at all doubting that the Supreme Being will be good to him, without goodness, and just to him without justice! He laughs at the faith of Abraham, and I should do so too, if Abraham had disputed God’s veracity, and then trusted to His promises. I never read such a mass of inconsistencies and contradictions, such a vain ostentation of learning, and if I durst, I would say it, all that can show ‘the trifling head, or the corrupted heart.’ I think I may venture to say trifling, for whatever does not relate to the argument is so, and to teize the gentle reader with all the miserable sophisms that perplex’d the world 2000 years ago, is barbarous. I wanted to apply to him the Epigram on Hearne[76] the antiquarian—

“‘Fye on thee! quoth Time to Thomas Hearne,
Whatever I forget, you learn....’

I thank his Lordship, though, for making me once more look into Mr. Locke and Doctor Clarke,[77] in the veneration of whom I believe I shall live and dye.”

[75] Rev. William Warburton, born 1698, died 1779. Chaplain to the King; Bishop of Gloucester; author of various works.

[76] Thomas Hearne, born 1678, died 1735; antiquarian and author.

[77] Samuel Clarke, D.D., born 1675, died 1729; celebrated theologian and natural philosopher.


The return letter from West is so interesting that I give it in extenso


“Croydon, November 18, 1754.

My dear Cousin,

“Your admirable letter found me at the Archiepiscopal Palace at Croydon, where Mrs. West, Dick and I had been ever since Wednesday; and it was lucky that it found me there, as I had by that means an opportunity of showing the Archbishop, whom you very properly style good, your most ingenious and judicious Reflections of Lord Bolingbroke’s pompous Rhetorical and inconsistent Declamations with which his Grace (who, by the bye agrees entirely with you in the censure you there pass’d upon Mr. W(arburton)’s way of answering him,) was so pleas’d that he desired me to give him a copy of the whole paragraph, promising that if he show’d it to anybody he would, however, cautiously conceal the name of the author. After this I need not tell you how much we both said in praise of you; I shall only add that I, this morning, received his commands to present his respects to you, and to tell you in his name that if you allow’d yourself the liberty of saying fine things of him, he would be even with you. These are his own words, grounded on a piece of information I had given him of the great honour and esteem you had for him. We quitted Wickham, as I told you, on Wednesday last, that we might throw no obstacle in the way of that amorous impatience which Mr. Pitt had in all his notes express’d of bringing Lady Hester to our sweet and hospitable Habitation, as he call’d it; but to our great surprise, and to the no small mortification of Mrs. West in particular, who was afraid that all the good things, with which she had fill’d her larder, would be spoil’d by their delay—the happy Bridegroom and his Bride did not arrive till Saturday, on which morning they were married[78] by Dr. Ayscough[79] with the Archbishop’s License. They came down alone, and have continued alone ever since, and, I imagine, will[64] continue during their stay at Wickham, in that Paradisaical Solitude, tho’ by the quantity of provisions which Mr. Campion[80] brought with him, and more which he has since sent for from Croydon, we conclude he expected some visitants from Town, as Lord Temple, etc.,[81] but having heard of no such visitants being expected, I suppose that all this profusion was owing to Mr. Campion’s solicitude to testify in his own way his respects to his new Lady, and make his compliments on this joyous occasion, in the polite, that is, in the French Phraseology: this is all the intelligence I can at present give you of this important affair, for we have had no communication by messages, either to or from Mr. Pitt, whom we were unwilling to disturb, or interrupt the free course of those pleasures, which for a time at least, possess the whole mind, and are most relished when most private; for this reason I cannot yet acquaint you when we shall leave Wickham, but I believe it will be about the middle of this week, and I suppose we shall not be able to go to Chelsea before the latter end of the next, or the beginning of the week after, and by that time I am still in hopes you will come to Hill Street, and by giving me the pleasure of seeing you there in good health, compleat the happy change which you observe is already begun in the once gloomy month of November. I do often, my dear Cousin, look back with pleasure and thankfulness on many incidents of my past Life, and compare them with my present situation, so much changed for the better in a thousand instances, such as Health, fortune and Friendship, among which there is none that has given me more happiness than yours, and which therefore I hope will continue, till it is lost where only it can be lost, in the brighter and warmer radiance of an unchangeable and everlasting Society, where I hope to have it continued to me through all eternity. I am going to take the air with the good and amiable Archbishop, and therefore must conclude.


“Adieu, my dear, dear Cousin, and assure yourself that all that period I shall continue

“Ever most affectionately Yours, etc.,
Gil. West.

“Mrs. West and Mrs. Herring desire their compliments to Mrs. Montagu and Miss Anstey.”

[78] Married November 16, 1754, by special license, in Argyll Street.

[79] Rev. Francis Ayscough, D.D., married Anne Lyttelton, Sir George’s sister.

[80] The chef.

[81] Richard, Earl Temple, brother of Lady Hester.

Illustration: Philip, 4th Earl of Chesterfield.

W. Hoare R A Pinx. Emery Walker Ph. Sc.

Philip, 4th Earl of Chesterfield.


I give a portion of the reply to the foregoing letter—

“Hill Street, November 23, 1754.

My dearest Cousin,

“From country Joan I am, according to my ambitious views, turned into ‘Gossip’ Joan, and by no supernatural metamorphosing power, but merely by the help of so ordinary a vehicle as a post-chaise, which wrought this happy change between the hours of 7 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon; the subject, no doubt was well prepared that would so easily receive the alteration. In my town character I made 15 visits last night: I should not so suddenly have assumed my great Hoop if I had not desired to pay the earliest respect to Lady Hester Pitt. I came to town on Wednesday night, and was too weary to write to you. I proposed doing it on Thursday evening, but my brother Robinson hinder’d me by making a long visit. Yesterday morning was divided amongst Milliners, Mantua makers, Mercers and such as deal in the small wares of vanity.”


The year ends with a letter from Mr. Nathaniel Hooke—

“Cookham, December 22, 1754.


“If it were not for a certain text of Scripture, I should be very impatient for the time to come when I must be in London for some days. The idea of [66]Hill Street and what is to be seen and heard there, is very lively and pressing. But alas! What says St. John the Divine? Little children keep yourselves from Idols. If you can satisfy my conscience in this point I shall be much obliged to you, and I beg you will study it thoroughly, and let me have your Resolution by a line, directed to be left at Mr. Watson’s in Cavendish Street. ’Tis uncertain just now when I shall move, but I think it will be some time this week. Till then I am not your religious worshipper, but Madam,

“Your most obliged and most obedient
and most humble Servant,
N. Hooke.

“Give me leave to add best compliments to Mr. Montagu.”




In January, 1755, but with no date of day, is a letter of Mrs. Montagu’s to Sarah Scott on Lord Montfort[82] committing suicide after gambling heavily.

“I imagine that you will be glad to hear the history of the times, which indeed bring forth daily wonders; nor is it the least that the most profound arithmetician and the greatest calculator, one who carried Demoivre’s[83]Probabilités de la Vie Humaine’ in his pocket, never foresaw that spending ten times his income would ruin his fortune, and that he found no way to make the book of debtor and creditor even, but paying that debt which dissolves all other obligations. You will guess I mean Lord Montfort and his pistol. He had not discovered any marks of insanity, on the contrary, all was deliberate, calm and cool; having said so much of his indiscretion, I think, with the rest of the world, I may acquit him of the imputation of cunning and sharping, but what can one say in defence of a conduct that had all the appearance of deep knavery and the consequences of inconsiderate rashness and folly.... Many reasons have[68] been given for his Lordship’s violent act, but by what I learn from those best acquainted with his person and fortune, he was not under the pressure of any very heavy debt, but had a true Epicurean character, loved a degree of voluptuousness that his fortune could not afford, and a splendour of life it could not supply, much of his relish for the world was lost, and like one that has no appetite to ordinary fare, chose to rise from table unless fortune would make him a feast.... When Lord Montfort’s children were paid their demands on his estate, I hear he had only £1200 a year clear, and in table, equipage and retinue he equalled, and in the first article perhaps excell’d, the largest fortunes. To retrench or die was the question, he reasoned like Hamlet, but left out the great argument of a future state.”

[82] Lord Montfort shot himself on January 1, 1755, at White’s Coffee House, after playing whisk all night. Vide Horace Walpole’s “Letters to George Montagu,” vol. i. p. 252.

[83] Abraham Demoivre, born 1677, died 1754. Great mathematician; wrote “The Doctrine of Chances,” etc.

In the same letter is—

“I have lately been engaged in a melancholy employment, condolence with poor Mr. and Mrs. West on the loss of their son, who died of a bilious fever, occasioned by his want of attendance to the jaundice, which attacked him in the season of plays and Operas, and he preferred them to the care of his health; he died very suddenly, the poor parents bear the blow with surprising patience. Mr. Lyttelton[84] is going to S. Carolina as Governor, and his sister dreading such a separation desires to accompany him.

“Pray have you read Mr. Hume’s History of James I. and Charles I.? I am afraid it will rather promote Jacobitism, but it is entertaining and lively and will amuse you.... I suppose you know there are two volumes of Madame de Sevigné’s letters come out this winter; they are amusing as the anecdotes of a person one has a great regard for, but they were rejected in former editions as not being so brilliant as those published before. My brother Robinson is emulating the [69]great Diogenes and other budge Drs. of the Stoic fur; he flies the delights of London and leads a life of such privacy and seriousness as looks to the beholder like wisdom, but for my part, I think no life of inaction deserves that name.”

This is the first mention of Matthew’s increasing love of retirement and the hermit-like habits which he adopted at Horton.

[84] This was William Henry, brother of Sir George Lyttelton.


In March occurs a long letter from Mrs. Pococke, of Newtown, the very learned lady mentioned before. She dispensed money for charitable purposes given by Mrs. Montagu. She mentions that her son, Dr. Pococke, is coming for a few days to see her before going abroad, “probably for the last time, unless I live to the age of the late Bishop of Man.” She mentions having walked eight miles that day as an excuse for bad writing, which was superfluous, as her handwriting is amazingly good and clear, and she was between eighty and ninety! Mens sana in corpore sano!


On June 9, presumably in this year, Mrs. Montagu writes—

“I suppose you know that Lady Sandwich has at last left her kind Lord. To complete the measure of his good usage, he keeps her daughter to educate with the Miss Courtenays. I hope her Ladyship will be happier than she has been for many years, she has nothing to harass her but the apprehensions for Lady Mary, but God knows that is a dreadful object. She has taken a house at Windsor for the summer.” This daughter died June 25, 1761.

And in the same month to Sarah Scott, she says—

Mrs. Boscawen and Miss Pitt came from Hatchlands to London to spend two days with me; we went to[70] Vauxhall each night, and Mrs. Anstey and I went with them as far as Epsom: we saw Lord Baltimore’s house, [sic] which speaks bad french, so I will not rehearse what I saw there. Why should I teize your imagination with strawberry colour’d wainscotts, doors of looking-glass, fine landskips on gilt leather, and painted pastorals with huge headed Chloes and gouty legg’d Strephons, with french mottoes to explain those tender glances. We were glad to quit this palace of bad taste for a little arbor in the garden of the inn at Epsom. The Sunday following Mr. Montagu and I went to dine with Mr. Bower at Sidcop, his little habitation has the proper perfections of a cottage, neatness, chearfulness, and an air of tranquillity, a pretty grove with woodbines twining round every Elm, a neat kitchen garden, with an Arbor from whence you look on a fine prospect. Here he may write of heresies and schisms, of spiritual pride and papal usurpations, while peaceful retirement and the amenity of the scene about him, rob controversy of its acrimony, and allay the bitterness of censure by a mixture of gentle pity.”


Writing to Mrs. Boscawen from Sandleford, June 19, Mrs. Montagu begins—

“‘When the Mower whets his scythe,
And the Milk-maid singeth blythe,
And every Shepherd in the dale
Under the Hawthorn tells his tale,’

there am I, and no longer in the sinfull and smoaking City of London; this happy change was brought about on Tuesday, by very easy and speedy measures. We got into our post-chaise between 10 and 11, arrived at Maidenhead Bridge about one; were refreshed by a good dinner, and amused by good company. Mr. Hooke[85] meeting us at our inn, we staid with him till after 5, and about ten arrived at Sandleford.... I have not for these[71] ten years been so early in the Season at Sandleford, and it appears therefore with greater charms. It cannot afford to lose any of its natural beauties, as it owns none to Art, it is merely a pretty shepherdess, who has no graces but those of youth and simplicity; but my dear Mrs. Boscawen may turn it into a paradise when she pleases. When may I hope to see her here.... I spent two days at Wickham last week; our good friends had left the Archbishop of Canterbury only a few days before I went to them. Mr. West seemed a good deal affected by this return to Wickham, as to Mrs. West I cannot so well judge, the cheerfulness she puts on is outré.... Mr. West told me he would alter the room where poor Dick dyed, for he did not like to go into it, and then a soft tender shower fell down his cheeks, he added he had lost much of his relish for Wickham; however on the whole I found them better than I could have expected!”

[85] He was then living at Cookham.

Directly after this, West was ordered to Tunbridge Wells, where he was accompanied by Lady Cobham, Miss Speed, and his wife. He writes to Mrs. Montagu that he hopes she will like a long stay in the country, as its tranquillity will not

“produce the same effect which an Admiral of my acquaintance found from the tranquillity of his friend’s house in the country, to which coming directly from his ship, where he had been so long accustomed to noise and bustle as to be grown fond of it, said, after having passed a restless night, ‘Pox on this house, ’tis so quiet there is no sleeping in it.’”

To this letter she answers—

“Mr. Montagu has been studiously disposed ever since we came to Sandleford, so that I pass seven or eight hours every day entirely alone. Five months are to pass before I return to the Land of the Living, but[72] I can amuse myself in the regions of the dead: if it rains so that I cannot walk in the garden, Virgil will carry me into the Elysian fields, or Milton into Paradise.”


Mention is also made of Sam Torriano’s engagement to Miss Scudamore, “who is said to have been handsome, and it was on both sides a marriage of inclination. He has delicacy enough to make him very happy or very miserable, and restlessness enough to be very uneasy in a state too insipid to allow of neither.”

Mrs. Montagu might well make this remark on Torriano’s marriage, as her friend Sir George Lyttelton’s[86] second matrimonial contract had by mutual consent ended in a separation. In a former letter it will be remembered that the haughty tone and unpleasant manners of the lady were commented on. It was a case of incompatibility of temper and thought, and a constant imagination of bad health on her part. Lady Lyttelton was a great friend of the Wests, and from a letter of Lyttelton’s to West of this year it is evident that a little coldness, which did not endure long, had sprung up between West and his friend.

[86] With Miss Rich, daughter of Field-Marshal Sir Robert Rich.


On July 8 and July 14 Sir George Lyttelton writes to Archibald Bower a complete diary of his tour in North Wales, accompanied by “Parson Durant and Mr. Payne.” These letters Bower gave to Mrs. Montagu. They contain many messages to the “Madonna,” but are, though interesting, too long to insert here. At this period West was at Tunbridge Wells, seeking health, but depressed at the absence of Pitt, Lyttelton, Torriano, and, above all, Mrs. Montagu; and from this letter it appears that 1750 was the year in which they first made friends at Tunbridge. “Where are the happy seasons of 1750, 1751, 1752, and 1753?” he cries. “In the ‘Stone House’ [73]are Mr. Walpole and Lady Rachel, persons with whom I have no concern.” The only people he now consorts with are Mrs. Vesey, to whom he talks of Mrs. Montagu, “we both love and honour you;” and Bishop Gilbert and his daughter.[87] The Bishop of London was expected. West laments “a difficulty of breathing, accompanied with wheezing,” he thought asthma. “The Doctors said Hysterical as only fit for petticoats!” They prescribed assafœtida, valerian, and gum ammoniac. He laments that Torriano “has done the irrevocable deed, and is married on £500 per annum.”

[87] Miss Gilbert became Countess of Mount Edgecumbe.

In Mrs. Montagu’s answer to West of July 13 she laments Torriano’s marriage not only as

“the world will lose him, but as he is to lose the world, which with all its faults is not to be entirely quitted; man and wife should always have something to charge with their ennui, the impertinence of society bears the blame very well, in solitude they must accuse each other of all they suffer of it. I do not understand why they should live in Herefordshire, unless they are very fond of cyder, for, in my opinion, London is the best place for people of moderate circumstances. In the country people are respected merely according to the acres they possess, an equipage is necessary, and company must be entertained at a great expense.... I am afraid his friend Stillingfleet[88] has left Herefordshire.... Last Tuesday Mr. Botham came hither, as did Dr. Gregory,[89] an ingenious agreeable man. Miss Pitt[90] has arrived here to my great joy, and we are to go to Hatchlands on Thursday.”

[88] Dr. Benjamin Stillingfleet, born 1702, died 1771. Author of “Calendar of Flora,” etc., and a prominent member of the Bas Bleu circle.

[89] Dr. John Gregory, physician and miscellaneous writer; Professor of Philosophy at Edinburgh.

[90] Mary Pitt, sister of Mr. W. Pitt.



Hatchlands, near Guildford, belonged to Admiral Boscawen. Writing thence to her husband Mrs. Montagu says—

“We were received by Mrs. Boscawen with the most joyful welcome, as we found her in great spirits on account of the taking of the two French men of war. Mr. Hoquart had been taken twice by Mr. Boscawen in the last war, but did not surrender himself in this engagement till 44 men were killed on board of his ship. Mr. Boscawen writes that he lived at great expence, having 11 French officers at his table, whom he entertains with magnificence, and there were 8 companies of soldiers on board the Alcide and the Lys. I hope as Admiral Holborn has joined Mr. Boscawen, we may soon hear of a more considerable victory.... The Duke[91] declares himself well pleased with Mr. Boscawen for his enterprise.... Mr. Boscawen was very much concern’d that the Dauphin, which had stands of arms and some silver on board, has escaped by means of a fog....”

[91] Duke of Cumberland.

On July 27, to West, is this—

“Monsieur Mirepoix[92] threatened us with la guerre la plus sanglante qui fut jamais, but by his dépit I imagine the French would have been better pleased if we would have let them silently and quietly possess themselves of the West Indies.

“I walked round the park this morning, it does not consist of many acres, but the disposition of the ground, the fine verdure and the plantations make it very pretty: it resembles the mistress of it, having preserv’d its native simplicity, tho’ art and care has improv’d and soften’d it, and made it elegant.”

She mentions a miserable inn on Bagshot Heath, which they drove over, “situated in the middle of a[75] dreary Heath, which has been famous for robberies and murders. The inn has for its sign the effigies of a man who practised this dreadful trade 40 years.”

[92] The French ambassador.


Whilst at Hatchlands Mrs. Boscawen took her guest to Sheep Leas, belonging to Mr. Weston, also to Sir John Evelyn’s and Mr. Hamilton’s places. Of Sheep Leas, in a letter to Sarah, who was with Lady Barbara at Badminton, is this description—

“The Sheep Lees consists of a most beautiful down, adorn’d with noblest beeches, commanding a rich gay and extensive prospect, a prodigious flock of sheep enliven the scene; it has a noble simplicity, and one imagines it to be the abode of some Arcadian Prince.... Our next visit was to Sir John Evelyn’s,[93] you pass over a high hill, finely planted, at the bottom of which lies the good old seat, which is venerable and respectable, and put me in mind of the song of ‘the Queen’s old Courtier,’ and it has a library of good old books, handsome apartments furnished and fitted up just as left them by their ancestor, the Sylvan Evelyn.[94] I cannot but own that tired of papier maché ceilings and gilt cornices, I was glad to see an old hall such as ancient hospitality and the plain virtues of our ancestors used to inhabit before country gentlemen used to make fortunes in Parliament or lose them at ‘White’s,’ hunted foxes, instead of Ministers, and employ’d their finesse in setting partridges. The garden at Sir John Evelyn’s is adorn’d with jets d’eaux in the old style, then you pass on to the woods, which are great and noble, and lye on each side a fine valley.”

[93] Leigh Place.

[94] John Evelyn, born 1620, died 1706. Author of the “Sylva, or Discourse on Forest Trees,” etc., etc.


Mrs. Ann Evelyn is mentioned as deserving this habitation.

“Pray follow me to Mr. Hamilton’s:[95] I must tell you [76]it beggars all description, the art of hiding art is here in such sweet perfection, that Mr. Hamilton cheats himself of praise, you thank Nature for all you see, tho’ I am inform’d all has been reformed by Art. In his 300 acres you have the finest lawns, a serpentine river playing in the sweetest valley, hills finely planted, which command charming prospects, winding walks made gay with flowers and flowering Shrubs, part of a rude forest, sombre woods, a river deep and still, gliding round the woods and shaded by trees that hang over the bank, while the serpentine river open and exposed to the sun, adorn’d with little Islands and enlivened by waterfowls, gladdens the vallies.”

[95] Painshill.

At the end of this letter mention is made of Travile, a poor lady originally recommended by Lady Sandwich as lady’s-maid to Mrs. Montagu. She was dying of consumption. Three doctors had treated her, and now Dr. Gregory put her on a diet of vegetable and asses’ milk.

Mr. Botham, writing from Albury, July 23, 1755, says—

“A Captain Cunningham past through Guildford last night express from the Governor of Hallifax in Nova Scotia with advice that Col. Warburton of the land forces had taken a fort at the back of Louisbourg called Bouche, (by the bye the most material Fort belonging to the French settlements), 500 men and 20 cannon; that the Colonel had blocked up Louisbourg by land, and Admiral Boscawen had done the same by sea; that the town was very bare of provisions and must soon surrender, and the sooner as the Colonel has turned in the 500 brethren to help to consume the faster; so that there is great reason to suppose we shall soon be masters of Louisbourg, and the Admiral of the 4 French men of war blocked in the Harbour. We have taken papers of the utmost consequence, which let us into the secret schemes of the French, which were nothing less than a [77]design of taking all our Plantations from us in America, and Hallifax in the first place, was destined for destruction.”

West, writing on August 22 from Tunbridge Wells, mentions that Lady Cobham and Harriet had left them for Stoke, Mrs. Vesey was returning to Ireland, and the Bishop of London had just left, “but while he was here put into my hands some sheets of a third Volume of Discourses now printing, which, as I had the chief hand in prevailing upon him to publish, I received as a mark of his regard for me.” The bishop was then in very bad health. West was persuaded by the three doctors, Duncan, Burgess, and Morley, to stay on at Tunbridge Wells.


In a letter to Miss Anstey, who was with her friends, Lord and Lady Romney, at Brighthelmstone, Mrs. Montagu says that Miss Pitt had left her to join her brother, Mr. Pitt, and Lady Hester, at Sunninghill.[96] Mrs. Montagu accompanied her as far as Reading,

“where we dined in the garden of the inn, from whence there is a fine gay prospect, and after dinner we walked to see the ruins of the old Abbey, which was most delightfully situated. The river winds about the richest meadows I ever saw; hills crowned with woods and adorn’d by some gentlemen’s houses bound the prospect, and make it the most soft and agreeable landscape imaginable.”

[96] Sunning Hill, at that time rising in repute for its mineral wells.

She and Mr. Montagu were contemplating visiting Mrs. Scott and Lady Bab Montagu at Bath Easton, “but I do not propose to leave poor Travile as long as she continues in this life; her end draws very near.” The invalid seems to have been most religious, and one [78]learns that by her request Mrs. Montagu nightly read her the Service for the Sick.

On September 26, West informs Mrs. Montagu that the Archbishop of Canterbury[97] had written to tell him of the release of Governor Lyttelton, who, with his sister, had been taken prisoners by the French in the Blandford, which was conveying the Governor to his province, South Carolina. This was William Henry, brother of Sir George, and his sister Hester. The Blandford was soon after this given up by the French. Mary Pitt, writing to Mrs. Montagu, said that Governor Lyttelton’s only loss was his wine and provisions on the Blandford, he having sent most of his baggage by another ship.

[97] Rev. Dr. Thomas Herring.

Mr. Pitt was then at Bath, while Lady Hester awaited her confinement at the Pay Office, of which Pitt was then master. Miss Pitt says, the sudden arrival of Governor Lyttelton “has proved very fortunate for Sir George at Bewdley,[98] where, by the Election of a Bayliff, the Borough was gone, if his brother had not thus dropt out of the clouds to give his vote and the turn to the scale.”

[98] Bewdley, Worcestershire.


Travile becoming slightly better, Mrs. Montagu went to Bath Easton to visit Mrs. Scott and Lady Bab Montagu. In a letter to Dr. Gilbert West, October 16, after her return to Sandleford, the following account is given of the life led by the two lady friends:—

“My sister rises early, and as soon as she has read prayers to their small family, she sits down to cut out and prepare work for 12 poor girls, whose schooling they pay for; to those whom she finds more than ordinarily capable, she teaches writing and arithmetic herself. The work these children are usually employed in is making child-bed linen and clothes for poor people [79]in the neighbourhood, which Lady Bab Montagu and she, bestow as they see occasion. Very early on Sunday morning these girls, with 12 little boys whom they also send to school, come to my sister and repeat their catechism, read some chapters, have the principal articles of their religion explained to them, and then are sent to the parish church. These good works are often performed by the Methodist ladies in the heat of enthusiasm, but thank God, my sister’s is a calm and rational piety. Her conversation is lively and easy, and she enters into all the reasonable pleasures of Society; goes frequently to the plays, and sometimes to balls, etc. They have a very pretty house at Bath for the winter, and one at Bath Easton for the summer; their houses are adorned by the ingenuity of the owners, but as their income is small, they deny themselves unnecessary expenses. My sister[99] seems very happy; it has pleased God to lead her to truth, by the road of affliction; but what draws the sting of death and triumphs over the grave, cannot fail to heal the wounds of disappointment. Lady Bab Montagu concurs with her in all these things, and their convent, for by its regularity it resembles one, is really a cheerful place.”

[99] Mrs. Scott described their life in her novel, “Millenium Hall, by a Gentleman on his Travels,” 1762,—as there was a popular prejudice then against a female author. Doubtless many of the histories are true in it.


Writing to Sarah Scott of their safe return from Bath Easton, Mrs. Montagu says—

“You would hardly imagine that the calm, meek Miss Pococke[100] is as great a heroine as Thalestris, Boadicea, or any of the termagant ladies in history. One Wednesday night, she was awaken’d by a robber, who threw himself across her bed and demanded her money; she started up, seized him with one hand and rang her bell with the other, and held him till the maid came into the room, but at last he broke from her, and by the ill-management[80] of her assistants made his escape. He is our late Gardener’s son, whom you may remember a boy in the gardens, his name Moses. He attempted to break open our house two nights before, opened the parlour sash, but could not force the shutters, which I am glad he did not do, for any alarm to the poor sick woman would have been a grievous thing.”

[100] Daughter of Mrs. Pococke, of Newtown, and sister of the bishop.


Mrs. Donnellan, in a letter from Fulham, August 28, reproached Mrs. Montagu “for not having visited Mrs. Southwell and me, for actually from Bagshot to her house is not quite 3 miles and a straight road.... My very near relation and friend, my Lord Mornington[101] and his son[102] and my godson young Wesley, are at London and come often to me.”

“I shall hope to make you acquainted with them next winter; you have known my regards to them, the son is the best creature I ever knew of his age, his whole attention is to make his Father as happy as he can, who is greatly hurt since the death of his daughter, Mrs. Fortescue.[103] The young man’s behaviour to me is like a tender child to a parent, so you may believe he must engage me; he says he shall not think of marrying till he is of age, and assures me I shall have a negative in his choice, you may believe he is not likely to meet one from the ladies as his estate will be a good ten thousand a year all within 25 miles of Dublin.... The Duke and Duchess of Portland, and the Marquis, and young ladies have been at D’Ewes[104] at Wellesbourne in a tour.”

Mrs. Donnellan was in very bad health at this time.

[101] Baron Mornington, cousin through the Ushers to Mrs. Donnellan.

[102] Garrett Wesley, or Wellesley, 1st Earl Mornington; famous for his musical talent; father of the Duke of Wellington.

[103] Elizabeth Wesley, married in 1743, Chichester Fortescue, of Dromisken.

[104] Mrs. D’Ewes, née Granville, sister of Mrs. Delany’s.


Now occurs a joint letter from Mr. Bower and Sir [81]George Lyttelton on October 6; the first writing in Italian from Hagley. Bower calls Hagley, “questo Paradiso ed O! Madonna che paradiso! Non v’é luogo sulla terra più degno di tal nome.” Further on he assures her that the first volume of the “Life of Henry II.” which Sir George was engaged upon, should, as soon as printed, be sent to her. Sir George adds—

“Till Bower came we were very uneasy at your not writing a line to Miss West, nor am I yet without great anxiety for fear that your attendance on the Deathbed of your servant should hurt your health. The goodness of your heart, most amiable Madonna, is too much for its strength. I hope by this time your servant is releas’d from her sufferings here, and you from the sight of them; otherwise I am sure this melancholy office of Virtue and Friendship will cost you dear. I do not blame your obeying the impulse of that most sweet Nature which is all tenderness and Benevolence; but remember you have other friends interested in your health, and for whose sake you ought to take care of it. I have a 1000 more things to say to you, but there is a country gentleman just come to visit me whom I must attend, and Bower brought me his letter, so that the post is just going out. I shall be in London at latest by 10th of November. I need not tell you that Mr. Pitt has made Fox, Secretary of State. After a hard struggle, I have secured my Borough of Bewdley. Adieu, this vexatious man will have me come to him, and the post will not wait.”

On October 15, Admiral Boscawen writes to inform Mrs. Montagu of the birth of a daughter stillborn, but that Mrs. Boscawen was doing well.

On October 20 West writes to say that Miss Pitt


“is gone this morning to congratulate Lady Hester and her brother on the birth of a daughter[105] of which Lady Hester after a hard and long labour was delivered on Saturday.... Miss Pitt returns to us after she has paid her compliments to the happy Father and Mother, and taken an exact survey of this future fair and fine lady.”

[105] This was Hester, who became Lady Mahon, afterwards Stanhope, mother of the celebrated Lady Hester Stanhope.

In a letter to Mr. West of November 1, after congratulating him on the birth of Miss Pitt, Mrs. Montagu says—

“I wish her nurse in the first place, and then her governess, would keep a journal of all the instructions the young lady has, and all her employments, and the world might get a better treatise of education than any yet extant. Mr. Pope says of Voiture ‘that trifles themselves were elegant in him,’ a moderate praise to a man who dealt only in trifles, but Mr. Pitt mixes the elegant with the sublime.”


Great fears were entertained at this time of an invasion by the French. Mrs. Medows writes from Chute to say her brother-in-law, Sir Philip Medows

“has with a grave face told me that in troublesome times such places as Conhault Farm often escaped, by being unseen and out of the way, as it possesses both these advantages, I hope we shall have the benefit of them, and seriously offer you our retreat if anything should happen to make you prefer it to being near a town.”

At last, Travile having breathed her last, and Parliament being summoned, the Montagus started for London on November 10, dining that night with Miss Anstey at her new house. Mrs. Montagu tells Mrs. Scott that


“I find the town very busy; the men are full of Politicks, the Ladies of the Birthday Cloaths. New Ministers and new fashions are interesting subjects, but I hear Messrs. Legge, Pitt, and Grenville, tho’ against the subsidy, are not to be turned out. What gives me most concern is Mr. Boscawen’s delay; the Admiralty do not know where he is or what he is doing, he may be gathering laurels, but as they are a deadly plant, I could wish he was at his inglorious fireside. I am very uneasy for the poor woman (Mrs. Boscawen) who is still at Portsmouth, if any accident should happen to him I should go post to her. It is thought that a certain great, very great Dowager[106] has given some discontent to her Father-in-law.[107] I shall call on the Marechalle D’Ancre the first time I go out to hear what they say on the present situation of affairs. I think between his mysteriousness and her openness one may find out something. I don’t believe Signor Concini advised the Dowager to offend the old gentleman. The bell is very clamorous.”

[106] Dowager Princess of Wales.

[107] George II.

This last sentence I place here, as I do not think I have mentioned that at this period a postman was sent round with a bell to collect all the latest letters.

Illustration: Garrick and his wife

W. Hogarth Pinx. Emery Walker Ph. Sc.

Garrick and his wife
from the picture in the possession of H.M. The King.


“There is a great bustle at Mr. Garrick’s playhouse[108] about some dancers, though they are chiefly Germans and Swiss, the mob considers them French, and I imagine they will be driven off the stage, tho’ the dancers and scenery have cost Mr. Garrick an immense sum; this evening is to decide their fate, and I imagine that at this time there may be a very bloody engagement. I rejoice with you on the gallant behaviour of Captain Stevens animated by your brother, to whom L’Esperance struck to Admiral West,[109] but I met Lord Cadogan last night at Mrs. Southwell’s, who said the French did not strike till Mr. West came up to them.”

[108] Drury Lane rows every night. On November 15 the Galleries were victorious over the young men of quality, who protected the dancers.

[109] Temple West.


In this letter it is stated that Admiral Boscawen had just returned.


On November 25, in a letter to Sarah Scott, Mrs. Montagu says—

“The House of Commons sat till after 5 o’clock in the morning on the motion for the address, which was carried by 311 against 105, there were many speeches made which were talk’d of in all the drawing rooms in town; with the same cool spirit of criticism you would hear the speeches in a new Play of Mr. Whitehead’s,[110] and Garrick and Mrs. Cibber’s manner of speaking them examined.... I expected to find the town full of the subsidies,[111] they are entirely forgot and never did the publick stand by more quiet and contented. Mr. Fox and Mr. Pitt say a great many very lively things to each other, which those who are not personally attach’d to either hear with a great deal of pleasure. Messrs. Legge, Pitt, and Grenville are dismiss’d, but no one positively named to succeed them; Lord Egmont, Lord Dupplin, Mr. Doddington, and Charles Townsend are talk’d of. Sir George Lyttelton is Chancellor of the Exchequer, which place he was sollicited to accept. I wish the fatigue of it may not impair his health, which is very delicate.”

[110] Paul Whitehead.

[111] Aid to be raised in supplying additional troops and seamen.


Remarking on their friend, Miss Grinfield, being dismissed as Maid of Honour to the Princess of Wales, Mr. Montagu writes—

“I suppose Lord B(ute)’s interest got Mrs. Ditched her place, there is no man has such instinct for the Heir Apparent as his Lordship. I would have him take the ‘Ich dien’ for his motto, he serves and will serve, the [85]hour of his ministry will never come. I wish he would leave behind him a treatise on hope, or at least answer Plautus who grossièrement decides that hunger, thirst and expectation are the greatest evils of human life.... The news will tell you the sad tydings of an earthquake[112] at Lisbon, some say a 100,000 persons were destroyed by it. The commotion began in the Atlantick Ocean.... As to the fuss of an invasion, it chiefly possesses those who have money in the public funds, the state of things consider’d it appears probable. The Boom across the Thames perhaps is to hinder such insults from the French as we once receiv’d from the Dutch; I cannot describe it particularly to you, not having seen it.... Lord Temple[113] very generously wrote a letter to Mr. Pitt in polite and earnest terms to desire his acceptance of a £1000 a year while he continues out of place.

“Voltaire, in compliance with the taste of the age, has written a Chinese tragedy, it is called ‘L’orphelin de la Chine.’... I have not seen Dr. Delany’s remarks on Lord Orrery’s[114] letters, but they certainly deserved the animadversions of Dr. Swift’s particular friend.”

[112] Took place November 1.

[113] Richard Grenville, Earl Temple, brother-in-law to Mr. Pitt.

[114] Charles Boyle, 4th Earl of Orrery, born 1703, died 1731.

Through Sir George Lyttelton’s influence, Gilbert West was reinstated in his office at Chelsea, which from the change of parties would lapse to the paymaster. The following letter from Sir George hints at the trifling coolness between himself and West:—

“Hill Street, December 13, 1755.

My dear West,

“My endeavours to serve you, which from Lord Dupplin’s goodness have proved successful, are indeed marks of affection, but not of returning affection. Mine for you has been constant and uniform. What variations may have happened in yours for me I can’t tell. Your[86] behaviour has certainly indicated some, and I could not but observe it. However, I can most truly assure you that one of my greatest pleasures in my present situation has been it’s enabling me to show you that my heart will ever be most eagerly warm in your service. Indeed no Friend you have can more honour your vertue or more affectionately desire your happiness than I,” etc.

The last letter of the year, December 31, to West from Mrs. Montagu, contains this mention of Sir George Lyttelton’s son, Thomas[115]

“Master Lyttelton paid me a visit yesterday morning, it gave me great pleasure to find he had an air of health and strength beyond what I had ever hoped for him; every sentence he utters shows an understanding that is very astonishing. Mr. Torriano and Mr. Stillingfleet came in while he was with me, the share he took in a very grave conversation surprized them very much.”

[115] Afterwards 2nd Lord Lyttelton.


1756 begins with two letters of West’s. At the end of January he moved to Chelsea; soon after this a stroke of the palsy brought him to the grave on March 26.


On March 30 Mrs. Montagu writes to her sister—

“Ye 30th March.

“I imagine my dear sister would see a paragraph in the newspaper that would excuse my not having written to her a farther account of my poor friend, Mr. West. On the melancholy event I brought his sister to Hill Street, where she is to stay a few days to recover in some measure the consequences of her fatigue and the shock her spirits have received. Mrs. West is with Lady Cobham. She is sensible of her great loss, but says she will behave under her affliction worthy the[87] example of her excellent and worthy husband, and his sentiments of resignation to the will of God, this resolution join’d to natural good spirits and vivacity of mind, supports her in a surprizing manner. I wish the good man could have known she would have endured her misfortune so well, apprehensions for her were all that disturbed the peace, I might almost say the joy of his deathbed. Miss West went thro’ the sad duties of nursing with great fortitude, but, she is much affected by her loss; the Admiral[116] his brother is in deep affliction, Lady Langham[117] finds great resources in a very extraordinary degree of piety. For my part, tho’ I went thro’ the most melancholy scenes every day between the sick and the afflicted, I have not suffered so much in my health as might have been expected.... Lord Chesterfield[118] has gone to Blackheath in a very bad state of health. The King has had an ague but is well again.... Mr. Wortley Montagu[119] has published a pious pamphlet titled, ‘Reflections physical and moral upon the uncommon Phenomena in the air, water or earth which have happened from the Earthquake at Lima, to the present time.’ I think you will send to Mr. Lake’s for it, it is written on the Hutchinsonian[120] principles.”

[116] Temple West.

[117] West’s mother, then over seventy.

[118] The celebrated statesman, and author of the Chesterfield “Letters” to his son.

[119] Old E. Wortley Montagu.

[120] Rev. John Hutchinson, born 1674, died 1734; author of “Moseis Principia.

Miss West being ordered to Bath, Mrs. Montagu gave her an introduction to Mrs. Scott and Lady Bab Montagu, then residing in Beaufort Square. In this letter mention is made of Miss Anstey’s death, and her not having left a will. “Poor Mr. Anstey is not likely to survive his sister, he has a violent fever.” We also hear of William Robinson,[121] then recently ordained a curate [88]at Kensington. William seems to have been rather a souffre douleur all his life, which annoyed his sister perpetually: his harping on small worries and domestic trifles is constantly alluded to. Mr. Botham bids him “fight a good fight, and by diligence and spirit in his curacy to show himself worthy of a good living.”

[121] William was the intimate friend of the poet Gray, who called him the “Rev. Billy.”


A heavy affliction now fell on the sisters; early in June came the tidings that their favourite brother Robert, the sea captain, had died at sea. This was acutely felt by Sarah Scott, as he was her favourite brother, probably from being nearest in age to her.

On June 24, in a letter to Mrs. Boscawen, this sad subject is touched on—

“I know not how to reconcile myself to the loss of one of the companions of my youth, the recollections of one’s earliest season, the spring of life is usually pleasant and gay, but whenever it offers itself to my mind, I cannot help asking where are those who were my playfellows? Faith should answer, with their Maker, reason, patience, resignation, should take place, but there is a weakness and stubbornness too in the human habit.... My poor sister bears her loss patiently, but it touches her heart very sorely.”


Mrs. Montagu had been extremely unwell, and had spent some weeks at Ealing Vicarage, lent to her by Mr. Botham. Dr. Shaw ordered her to Tunbridge Wells. Mrs. Boscawen had asked for her letters to Mr. West to be returned; Mrs. West promises to do this. At the end of the letter one reads this—

“Mr. Montagu had just come in from the coffee-house. Mr. Byng’s[122] expedition is unfortunate, not to say disgraceful, instead of throwing succour into Minorca, it[89] was agreed in the Council of War that as there were 18,000 Frenchmen there, it would be these men; then it was agitated whether they should engage with the French, that was also carried in the negative; the third question was whether they should go to take care of Gibraltar, which was agreed on. Alas! Alas! the report to-day is that Admiral West’s son is dead: one should lament this if we had not greater reason to lament that the English spirit is dead. Arthur was going to make illuminations and bonfires yesterday, and Lord Anson came in and forbade it.”

[122] Admiral John Byng, born 1704, was shot in pursuance of the sentence of a court-martial in 1757.

A letter to Sir George Lyttelton to Hagley in return for his condolences runs thus—

“Your publick life will raise a high expectation of your son, it is but just that you should give some of your private hours to qualify him so as to answer it: his happy genius makes him worthy of such a Preceptor.... You need but do justice to my affection for him to give me some share of his love.”

Sir George had specially commended his son “Tom” to the “Madonna’s” care, and they kept up a correspondence. Alas! that in future years, despite his brilliantly intellectual qualities, and his careful bringing up, he should almost break his father’s heart by his wild and dissolute life. She continues—

“Most people think that Mr. Byng will have some good excuse, if not justification, for what he has done; but however that may be, Sir Edward Hawke[123] and Captain Saunders (now made an Admiral) are gone to take command of the fleet.”

[123] Afterwards Lord Hawke, born 1705, died 1787.

In a letter of July 28, from Tunbridge to Mr. Montagu, one finds—


“The people at the Walks were all rejoicing poor Admiral Byng was arrested at Portsmouth. I cannot think of him without some compassion, a criminal is not always an object of mercy, but frail man is ever an object of pity. People here seem to think that a shameful death must end his shameful life. Birth and Station bring a man into an elevated station, but do not give to him the qualities necessary to become it.”

Lyttelton, in a letter of August 8, writes to the “Madonna,” “the Admiral (Temple West) triumphs and pouts, and is gone to George Grenville’s[124] with Jenny Grenville. He blames Byng, though unwillingly, because he would rather condemn those that sent him.”

[124] George Grenville, born 1712, died 1770; became 1st Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer, time of George III.

In another letter is—

“Dr. Shaw tells me that the mob at Portsmouth would not suffer Mr. Byng to be brought away, lest he should escape punishment. It is said that Mr. Boscawen has taken a great number of Martinico ships, and that part of the Brest squadron have got out, and gone to join M. Galissionière.[125] Mr. Bower’s affidavit has had a very good effect. I hope Mr. Millar has got some of them to distribute among his friends in the country. I am sure his good heart will rejoice to see innocence re-instated in reputation.”

[125] The French Admiral.


Bower’s enemies had set about many evil reports of him at that period, and Mr. Hooke had specially warned Mrs. Montagu against Bower, but she refused to give up her friendship with one who had been introduced to her by the saintly Gilbert West, and was the intimate friend of Lyttelton. Bower’s change in religion from Roman [91]Catholicism to Protestantism exposed him to all the virulence of the priests, who in revenge formulated all sorts of c