Illuminated MSS., unless they have portraits of particular persons, I do not deal in; the extent of my collecting is already full asgreat as I can afford. I am not the less obliged to you, Sir, for thinking Of me. Were my fortune larger, I should go deeper into printing, and having engraved curious MSS. and drawings; as I cannot, I comfort myself with reflecting on the mortifications I avoid, by the little regard shown by the world to those sort of things. The sums laid out on books one should, at first sight, think an indication of encouragement to letters; but booksellers only are encouraged, not books. Bodies of sciences, that is, compilations and mangled abstracts, are the only saleable commodities. Would you believe, what I know is fact, that Dr. Hill(121) earned fifteen guineas a-week by working for wholesale dealers: he was at once employed on six voluminous works of Botany, Husbandry, etc. published weekly. I am sorry to say, this journeyman is one of the first men preferred in the new reign: he is made gardener of Kensington, a place worth two thousand pounds a-year.(122) The King and lord Bute have certainly both of them great propensity to the arts; but Dr. Hill, though undoubtedly not deficient in parts, has as little claim to favour in this reign, as Gideon, the stock-jobber, in the last; both engrossers without merit. Building, I am told, is the King’s favourite study; I hope our architects will not be taken from the erectors of turnpikes.
(121) Dr. Hill’s were among the first works in which scientific knowledge was put in a popular shape, by the system of number publishing. The Doctor’s performances in this way are not discreditable, and are still useful as works of reference.-C.
(122) This was an exaggeration of the emoluments of a place, which, after all was not improperly bestowed on a person of his pursuits and merits.-C.
I am glad you are coming, and now the time is over, that you are coming so late, as I like to have you here in the spring. You will find no great novelty in the new reign. Lord Denbigh(123) is made master of the harriers, with two thousand a-year. Lord Temple asked it, and Newcastle and Hardwicke gave into it for fear of Denbigh’s brutality in the House of Lords. Does this differ from the style of George the Second?
The King designs to have a new motto; he will not have a French one; so the Pretender may enjoy Dieu et mon droit in quiet.
Princess Amelia is already sick of being familiar: she has been at Northumberland-house, but goes to nobody more. That party was larger, but still more formal than the rest, though the Duke of York had invited himself and his commerce-table. I played with Madam and we were mighty well together; so well, that two nights afterwards she commended me to Mr. Conway and Mr. Fox, but calling me that Mr. Walpole, they did not guess who she meant. For my part, I thought it very well, that when I played with her, she did not call me that gentleman. As she went away, she thanked my Lady Northumberland, like a parson’s wife, for all her civilities.