PEACE WITH SPAIN—BANISHMENT
OF THE FRENCH PARLIAMENT—MRS. CORNELYS’S
ESTABLISHMENT—THE QUEEN OF DENMARK.
TO SIR HORACE MANN.
ARLINGTON STREET, Feb. 22, 1771.
Two days ago there began to be an
alarm at the delay of the Spanish courier, and people
were persuaded that the King of Spain had refused to
ratify his ambassador’s declaration; who, on
the warrant of the French King, had ventured to sign
it, though expecting every hour to be recalled, as
he actually was two days afterwards. However,
the night before last, to the great comfort of Prince
Masserano and our Ministers, the ratification arrived;
and, after so many delays and untoward accidents,
Fortune has interposed (for there has been great luck,
too, in the affair), and peace is again established.
With you, I am not at all clear that Choiseul was
in earnest to make it. If he was, it was entirely
owing to his own ticklish situation. Other people
think, that this very situation had made him desperate;
and that he was on the point of striking a hardy stroke
indeed; and meditated sending a strong army into Holland,
to oblige the Dutch to lend twelve men-of-war to invade
us. Count Welderen, who is totally an anti-Gaul,
assured me he did not believe this project. Still
I am very glad such a boute-feu is removed.
This treaty is an epoch; and puts
a total end to all our preceding histories. Long
quiet is never probable, nor shall I guess who will
disturb it; but, whatever happens, must be thoroughly
new matter, though some of the actors perhaps may
not be so. Both Lord Chatham and Wilkes are at
the end of their reckoning, and the Opposition can
do nothing without fresh fuel.
The scene that is closed here seems
to be but opening in France. The Parliament of
Paris banished; a new one arbitrarily appointed;
the Princes of the Blood refractory and disobedient;
the other Parliament as mutinous; and distress everywhere:
if the army catches the infection, what may not happen,
when the King is despised, his agents detested, and
no Ministry settled? Some say the mistress and
her faction keep him hourly diverted or drunk; others,
that he has got a new passion: how creditable
at sixty! Still I think it is the crisis of their
constitution. If the Monarch prevails, he becomes
absolute as a Czar; if he is forced to bend, will
the Parliament stop there?
In the mean time our most serious
war is between two Operas. Mr. Hobart, Lord Buckingham’s
brother, is manager of the Haymarket. Last year
he affronted Guadagni, by preferring the Zamperina,
his own mistress, to the singing hero’s sister.
The Duchess of Northumberland, Lady Harrington, and
some other great ladies, espoused the brother, and
without a license erected an Opera for him at Madame
Cornelys’s. This is a singular dame, and
you must be acquainted with her. She sung here
formerly, by the name of the Pompeiati. Of late
years she has been the Heidegger of the age, and presided
over our diversions. Her taste and invention
in pleasures and decorations are singular. She
took Carlisle House in Soho Square, enlarged it, and
established assemblies and balls by subscription.
At first they scandalised, but soon drew in both righteous
and ungodly. She went on building, and made her
house a fairy palace for balls, concerts, and masquerades.
Her Opera, which she called Harmonic Meetings,
was splendid and charming. Mr. Hobart began to
starve, and the managers of the theatres were alarmed.
To avoid the act, she pretended to take no money,
and had the assurance to advertise that the subscription
was to provide coals for the poor, for she has vehemently
courted the mob, and succeeded in gaining their princely
favour. She then declared her Masquerades were
for the benefit of commerce. I concluded she
would open another sort of house next for the interests
of the Foundling Hospital, and I was not quite mistaken,
for they say one of her maids, gained by Mr. Hobart,
affirms that she could not undergo the fatigue of
managing such a house. At last Mr. Hobart informed
against her, and the Bench of Justices, less soothable
by music than Orpheus’s beasts, have pronounced
against her. Her Opera is quashed, and Guadagni,
who governed so haughtily at Vienna, that, to pique
some man of quality there, he named a minister to Venice,
is not only fined, but was threatened to be sent to
Bridewell, which chilled the blood of all the Caesars
and Alexanders he had ever represented; nor could
any promises of his lady-patronesses rehabilitate his
courage so for once an Act of Parliament
goes for something.
You have got three new companions;
General Montagu, a West Indian Mr. Paine, and Mr.
Lynch, your brother at Turin.
There is the devil to pay in Denmark.
The Queen has got the ascendant, has turned out
favourites and Ministers, and literally wears the
breeches, actual buckskin. There is a physician,
who is said to rule both their Majesties, and I suppose
is sold to France, for that is the predominant interest
now at Copenhagen. The Czarina has whispered her
disapprobation, and if she has a talon left, when she
has done with the Ottomans, may chance to scratch
the little King.
For eight months to come I should
think we shall have little to talk of, you and I,
but distant wars and distant majesties. For my
part, I reckon the volume quite shut in which I took
any interest. The succeeding world is young,
new, and half unknown to me. Tranquillity comprehends
every wish I have left, and I think I should not even
ask what news there is, but for fear of seeming wedded
to old stories the rock of old men; and
yet I should prefer that failing to the solicitude
about a world one belongs to no more! Adieu!