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to have a pretty good stock of it. I hope you receive no visits from the headache and the spleen : and one who knows your constitution very well, advises you by all means, against sitting in the dusk at your window, or on the ground, leaning on your hand, or at see-saw in your chair. I am, Madam, &c.
Windsor Castle, Aug. 12, 1712. SIR, With great difficulty I recovered your present of the finest box, in France t out of the hands of Mrs Hill: she allowed her own to be the prettiest, but then mine was the handsomest; and in short, she would part with neither. I pleaded my brotherhood, and got my Lord and Lady Masham to intercede; and at last she threw it me with a heavy
* This gentleman was brother to Lady Masham, which was in truth his only pretext to favour ; but although Queen Anne had been fortunate enough to find the first general of the time in the husband of her former favourite, the brother of the Duchess of Marlborough's successor in royal favour was gifted with a very inferior degree of military knowledge. He was employed in an unsuccessful expedition against Quebec, and, at the date of this letter, was governor of Dunkirk, which had been ceded to the British in security of the preliminaries of peace. From this place he sent Swift the snuff-box, to which this lively letter has refere ence.
+ This snuff-box, Swift informed Stella, was allowed to be the finest in England, though it cost only L. 20. The Duchess of Hamilton made him a pocket to wear it in. See Vol. III. p. 105. o
sigh; but now it is in my possession, I wish you had sent a paper of directions how I shall keep it. You that sit at your ease, and have nothing to do but keep Dunkirk, never consider the difficulties you have brought upon me: twenty ladies have threatened to seize or surprise my box; and what
are twenty thousand French or Dutch in comparison of those Mrs Hill says, it was a very idle thing in you to send such a present to a man who can neither punish nor reward you, since Grub Street is no more; for the parliament has killed all the Muses of Grub Street, who yet, in their last moments, cried out nothing, but Dunkirk. My lordtreasurer, who is the most malicious person in the world, says, you ordered a goose to be drawn at the bottom of my box, as a reflection upon the clergy; and that I ought to resent it. But I am not angry at all, and his lordship observes by halves: for the goose is there drawn pecking at a snail, just as I do at him, to make him mend his pace in relation to the public, although it be hitherto in vain. And besides, Dr Arbuthnot, who is a scholar, says, “ you meant it as a compliment for us both : that I am the goose who saved the Capitol by my cackling: and that his lordship is represented by the snail; because he preserves his country by delays.” But my Lord Masham is not to be endured: he observed, that in the picture of the inside, which represents a great company dancing, there stands a fool with a cap and bells; and he would needs understand that figure as applied to me. And the worst of it was, that I happened last night to be at my lady Duchess of Shrewsbury's ball: where, looking a little singular among so many fine ladies and gentlemen, his lordship came and whispered me to look at my box; which I resented so highly, that I went away in a
Vol. xvi. B
rage without staying for supper. However, considering of it better, after a night's sleep, I find all this is nothing but envy, and a design to make a quarrel between you and me: but it shall not do so; for I hope your intentions were good, however malice may misrepresent them. And though I am used ill by all the family, who win my money and laugh at me; yet, to vex them more, I will forgive them for your sake; and as soon as I can break loose, will come to Dunkirk for a fortnight, to get a little ease from my many persecutions, by the Harleys, the Mashams, and the Hills: only I intend to change my habit, for fear Colonel Killigrew should mistake me for a chimney-sweeper. In the mean time, I wish you all success in your government, loyal French subjects, virtuous ladies, little champaign, and much health: and am, with the truest respect and esteem, Sir, Your most obedient
humble servant and brother.
LORD BOLINGBROKE TO MR PRIOR."
September 10, 1712.
I was equally surprised and vexed to find that by the uncouth way of explaining the queen's sense, you had been led to imagine, that it was intended my Lord Lexington should make any difficulty of seeing and complimenting the King of Spain as such. We spent above three hours in penning minutes yesterday upon this head, which was long ago adjusted. I suppose the instructions will be at last clear; but my Lord Lexington having been present at the debate, his understanding of the matter will make amends for any dark ambiguous article which may be in them. Dartmouth is to communicate the queen's orders herein to you, that so you may be able to satisfy the French ministers, and they to prepare the Spanish ministers. However, I will venture to tell you in a few words what I understand is to be the measure of Lord Lexington's conduct. As soon as he arrives at Madrid, he will notify his arrival to the secretary of state. . He will, when he sees this minister, let him know, “That the queen has sent him thither to compliment the king in her name; to be a witness of the several renunciations and other acts requisite to complete the execution of the article agreed upon as necessary to prevent the union of the two monarchies: That, after this, he is to proceed to settle such matters of commerce, and other affairs, as are for the mutual interest of both nations, and to take the character of ambassador upon him.” My lord will at the same time produce his credentials, and give the secretary a copy of them if he desires it. In this conference, he will farther take notice of the several cessions made by the King of France, in behalf of his grand
* This letter, which is strictly confidential, may be allowed to bear evidence in history as to the private transactions of the Treaty of Utrecht. Nothing was more remarkable than the dexterity with which the French, during the negociation, perceived and availed themselves of the necessity of making peace, under which the
tory administration of Queen Anne had brought themselves by their absolute breach with the Duke of Marlborough.
son to the queen; and will speak of them as points which he looks upon to be concluded. He will likewise give a memorial of them in writing, signed by himself, to the secretary; and expect from him an assent in the king's name, in writing also, and signed by the secretary. This seems natural, civil, and unexceptionable; but any other scheme is absurd, and inconsistent with the rest of all our proceedings. For God's sake, dear Matt, hide the nakedness of thy country; and give the best turn thy fertile brain will furnish thee with, to the blunders of thy countrymen, who are not much better politicians than the French are poets. I have writ in great haste a prodigious long letter to Monsieur de Torcy, which, I believe, he will show you; but, for fear he should not, I enclose in this an extract of part of it, which relates to a matter that has given lord-treasurer and your humble servant no small trouble in the cabinet. The copy of the plenipotentiaries' dispatch of the 2d of September, which I likewise send, will show you how a dispute, now on foot at Utrecht, began; you will observe, their lordships are very warm in it; and I can assure you, we have those who are not a jot cooler. * , The solution of this difficulty must come from you; it is a matter of management and appearance, more than of substance; and the court of France must be less politic than I think them at any time, and more unreasonable than I think them at this time, not to come into a temperament upon a matter unnecessarily started. You must begin by making Monsieur de Torcy not only to understand, but own he understands, the proposition which I am sure he remembers I more than once repeated