On the road to Livry I passed a new house on the pilasters of the gate to which were two sphinxes in stone, with their heads coquetly reclined, straw hats, and French cloaks slightly pinned, and not hiding their bosoms. I don’t know whether I or Memphis would have been more diverted. I shall set out this day se’nnight, the tenth, and be in London about the fifteenth or sixteenth, if the wind is fair. Adieu! Yours ever.
P. S. I need not say, I suppose, that this letter is to Mr. Chute, too.
In a certain city of Europe(950) it is the custom to wear slouched hats, long cloaks, and high capes. Scandal and the government called this dress going in mask, and pretended that it contributed to assassination. An ordonnance was published, commanding free-born hats to be cocked, cloaks to be shortened, and capes laid aside. All the world obeyed for the first day: but the next, every thing returned into its old channel. In the evening a tumult arose, and cries of,, “God bless the King! God bless the kingdom! but confusion to Squillaci, the prime minister."(951) The word was no sooner given, but his house was beset, the windows broken, and the gates attempted. The guards came and fired on the weavers(952) of cloaks. The weavers returned the fire, and many fell on each side. As the hour of supper approached and the mob grew hungry, they recollected a tax upon bread, and demanded the repeal. the King yielded to both requests, and hats and loaves were set at liberty. The people were not contented, and still insisted on the permission of murdering the first minister; though his Majesty assured his faithful commons that the minister was never consulted on acts of government, and was only his private friend, who sometimes called upon him in an evening to drink a glass of wine and talk botany. The people were incredulous, and continued in mutiny when the last letters came away. If you should happen to suppose, as I did, that this history arrived in London, do not be alarmed; for it was at Madrid; and a nation who has borne the Inquisition cannot support a cocked hat. So necessary it is for governors to know when lead or a feather will turn the balance of human understandings, or will not!
I should not have entrenched on Lord George’s(953) province of sending you news of revolutions, but he is at Aubign`e; and I thought it right to advertise you in time, in case you should have a mind to send a bale of slouched hats to the support of the mutineers. As I have worn a flapped hat all my life, when I have worn any at all, I think myself qualified, and would offer my service to command them; but, being persuaded that you are a faithful observer of treaties, though a friend to repeals, I shall come and receive your commands in person. In the mean time I cannot help figuring what a pompous protest my Lord Lyttelton might draw up in the character of an old grandee against the revocation of the act for cocked hats.