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

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 897 pages of information about The Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford Volume 4.

(621) The Duchess of Kingston, who died at Paris in August.-E.

(622) The newspapers had circulated a report that the Duchess had bequeathed her diamonds to the Empress of Russia and his Holiness the Pope.-E.

Letter 323 To Miss Hannah More.  Strawberry Hill, Sept. 22, 1788. (page 408)

I don’t like to defraud you of your compassion, my good friend, profuse as you are of it.  I really suffered scarce any pain at all from my last fit of gout.  I have known several persons who think there is a dignity in complaining; and, if you ask how they do, reply, “Why, I am pretty well to-day; but if you knew what I suffered yesterday!” Now methinks nobody has a right to tax another for pity on what is past; and besides, complaint of what is over can only make the hearer glad you are in pain no longer.  Yes, yes, my dear Madam, you generally place your pity so profitably, that you shall not waste a drop upon me, who ought rather to be congratulated on being so well at my age.

Much less shall I allow you to make apologies for your admirable and proper conduct towards your Poor prot`eg`ee(623) And now you have told me the behaviour of a certain great dame, I will confess to you that I have known it some months by accident-nay, and tried to repair it.  I prevailed on Lady * * * * *, who as readily undertook the commission, and told the Countess of her treatment of you.  Alas! the answer was, “It is too late; I have no money.”  No! but she has, if she has a diamond left.  I am indignant; yet, do you know, not at this duchess, or that countess, but at the invention of ranks, and titles, and pre-eminence.  I used to hate that king and t’other prince; but, alas! on reflection I find the censure ought to fall on human nature in general.  They are made of the same stuff as we, and dare we say what we should be in their situation?  Poor creatures! think how they are educated, or rather corrupted, early, how flattered!  To be educated properly, they should be led through hovels, and hospitals, and prisons.  Instead of being reprimanded (and perhaps immediately after sugar-plum’d) for not learning their Latin or French grammar, they now and then should be kept fasting; and, if they cut their finger, should have no plaister till it festered.  No part of a royal brat’s memory, which is good enough, should be burthened but with the remembrance of human sufferings.  In short, I fear our nature is so liable to be corrupted and perverted by greatness, rank, power, and wealth, that I am inclined to think that virtue is the compensation to the poor for the want of riches:  nay, I am disposed to believe that the first footpad or highwayman has been a man of quality, or a prince, who could not bear having wasted his fortune, and was too lazy to work; for a beggar-born would think labour a more natural way of getting a livelihood than venturing his life.  I have something a similar opinion about common women. 

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