Pray read Fontaine’s fable of the lion grown old; don’t it put you in mind of any thing? No! not when his shaggy majesty has borne the insults of the tiger and the horse, etc. and the ass comes last, kicks out his only remaining fang, and asks for a blue bridle? Apropos, I will tell you the turn Charles Townshend gave to this fable. “My lord,” said he, “has quite mistaken the thing; he soars too high at first: people often miscarry by not proceeding by degrees; he went and at once asked for my Lord Carlisle’s garter-if he would have been contented to ask first for my Lady Carlisle’s garter, I don’t know but he would have obtained it.” ’ Adieu!
(18) Sir Edward Hawke had defeated the French fleet, commanded by Admiral Conflans, in the beginning of this winter. [A graphical description of this victory is given by Walpole in his Memoires. “It was,” he says, “the 20th of November: the shortness of the day prevented the total demolition of the enemy; but neither darkness, nor a dreadful tempest that ensued, could call off Sir Edward from pursuing his blow. The roaring of the element was redoubled by the thunder from our ships; and both concurred, in that scene of horror, to put a period to the navy and hopes of France.”—E.]
I am come hither in the bleakest of all winters, not to air and exercise, but to look after my gold-fish and orange-trees. We import all the delights of hot countries, but as we cannot propagate their climate too, such a season as this is mighty apt to murder rarities. And it is this very winter that has been used for the invention of a campaign in Germany! where all fuel is so destroyed that they have no fire but out of the mouth of a cannon. If I were writing to an Italian as well as into Italy, one might string concetti for an hour, and describe how heroes are frozen on their horses till they become their own statues. But seriously, does not all this rigour of warfare throw back an air of effeminacy on the Duke of Marlborough and the brave of ancient days, who only went to fight as one goes out of town in spring, and who came back to London with the first frost’@ Our generals are not yet arrived, though the Duke de Broglio’s last miscarriage seems to determine that there shall at last be such a thing as winter quarters; but Daun and the King of Prussia are still choosing King and Queen in the field.
There is a horrid scene of distress in the family of Cavendish; the Duke’s sister,(19) Lady Besborough, died this morning of the same fever and sore throat of which she lost four children four years ago. It looks as if it was a plague fixed in the walls of their house: it broke out again among their servants, and carried off two, a year and a half after the children. About ten days ago Lord Besborough was seized with it, and escaped with difficulty; then the eldest daughter had it, though slightly: my lady, attending them, is dead of it in three days. It is the same sore throat which carried off Mr. Pelham’s two only sons, two daughters, and a daughter of the Duke of Rutland, at once. The physicians, I think, don’t know what to make of it.