The Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford — Volume 4 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,055 pages of information about The Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford — Volume 4.

Letter 196 To The Rev. Mr. Cole.  Strawberry Hill, June 15, 1780. (page 253)

You may like to know one is alive, dear Sir, after a massacre, and the conflagration of a capital.  I was in it, both on the Friday and on the Black Wednesday; the most horrible sight I ever beheld, and which, for six hours together, I expected to end in half the town being reduced to ashes.  I can give you little account of the original of this shocking affair; negligence was certainly its nurse, and religion only its godmother.  The ostensible author is in the Tower.  Twelve or fourteen thousand men have quelled all tumults; and as no bad account is come from the country, except for a moment at Bath, and as eight days have passed,—­nay, more, since the commencement, I flatter myself the whole nation is shocked at the scene; and that, if plan there was, it was laid only in and for the metropolis.  The lowest and most villanous of the people, and to no great amount, were almost the sole actors.

I hope your electioneering riotry(394) has not, nor will mix in these tumults.  It would be most absurd; for Lord Rockingham, the Duke of Richmond, Sir George Saville, and Mr. Burke, the patrons of toleration, were devoted to destruction as much as the ministers.  The rails torn from Sir George’s house were the chief weapons and instruments of the mob.  For the honour of the nation I should be glad to have it proved that the French were the engineers.  You and I have lived too long for our comfort—­shall we close our eyes in peace?  I will not trouble you more about the arms I sent you:  I should like that they were those of the family of Boleyn; and since I cannot be sure they were not, why should not I fancy them so?  I revert to the prayer for peace.  You and I, that can amuse ourselves with our books and papers, feel as much indignation at the turbulent as they have scorn for us.  It is hard at least that they who disturb nobody can have no asylum in which to pursue their innoxious indolence Who is secure against Jack Straw and a whirlwind?  How I abominate Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander, who routed the poor Otaheitans out of the centre of the ocean, and carried our abominable passions amongst them! not even that poor little specie could escape European restlessness.  Well, I have seen many tempestuous scenes, and outlived them! the present prospect is too thick to see through--it is well hope never forsakes us.  Adieu!

(394) Of the “electioneering riotry” going on at this time in Cambridgeshire, Mr. Cole, in a letter of the 14th of May, gives the following account:—­“Electioneering madness and faction have inflamed this country to such a degree, that the peace it has enjoyed for above half a century may take as long a time before it returns again.  Yesterday, the three candidates were nominated; the Duke of Rutland’s brother, the late Mr. Charles Yorke’s son, and Sir Sampson

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