I am making a very curious purchase at Paris, the complete armour of Francis the First. It is gilt, in relief, and is very rich and beautiful. It comes out of the Crozat collection.(67) I am building a small chapel, too, in my garden, to receive two valuable pieces of antiquity, and which have been presents singularly lucky for me. They are the window from Bexhill, with the portraits of Henry iii. and his Queen, procured for me by Lord Ashburnham. The other, great part of the tomb of Capoccio, mentioned in my Anecdotes of Painting on the subject of the Confessor’s shrine, and sent to me from Rome by Mr. Hamilton, our minister at Naples. It is very extraordinary that I should happen to be master of these curiosities. After next summer, by which time my castle and collection will be complete (for if I buy more I must build another castle for another collection), I propose to form another catalogue and description, and shall take the liberty to call on you for your assistance. In the mean time there is enough new to divert you at present.
(67) This curiosity was at first estimated at a thousand crowns, but Madame du Deffand finally purchased it for Walpole for fifty louis. “Ce bijou,” she says, “me parait un peu cher et ressemble beaucoup aux casques du Ch`ateau d,Otrante: si vous persistez `a le d`esirer, je le payerai, je le ferai encaisser et Partir sur le champ. C’est certainement une pi`ece tr`es belle et tr`es rare, mais infiniment ch`ere."-E.
You have read of my calamity without knowing it, and will pity me when you do. I have been blown up; my castle is blown up; Guy Fawkes has been about my house: and the 5th of November has fallen on the 6th of January! In short, nine thousand powder-mills broke loose yesterday morning on Hounslow-heath;(68) a whole squadron of them came hither, and have broken eight of my painted-glass windows; and the north side of the castle looks as if it had stood a siege. The two saints in the hall have suffered martyrdom! they have had their bodies cut off, and nothing remains but their heads. The two next great sufferers are indeed two of the least valuable, being the passage-windows to the library and great parlour—a fine pane is demolished in the round-room; and the window by the gallery is damaged. Those in the cabinet, and Holbein-room, and gallery, and blue-room, and green-closet, etc. have escaped. As the storm came from the northwest, the china-closet was not touched, nor a cup fell down. The bow-window of brave old coloured glass, at Mr. Hindley’s, is massacred; and all the north sides of Twickenham and Brentford are shattered. At London it was proclaimed an earthquake, and half the inhabitants ran into the street.