(896) His History of the Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici.
I will write a word to you, though scarce time to write one, to thank you for your great kindness about the soldier, who shall get a substitute if he can. As you are, or have been in town, your daughter will have told you in what a bustle I am, preparing—not to resist, but, to receive an invasion of royalties to-morrow; and cannot even escape them like Admiral Cornwallis, though seeming to make a semblance; for I am to wear a sword, and have appointed two aides-de-camp, My nephews, George and Horace Churchill. If I fall, as ten to one but I do, to be sure it will be a superb tumble, at the feet of a Queen and eight daughters of Kings; for, besides the six Princesses, I am to have the Duchess of York and the Princess of Orange! Wo is me, at seventy-eight, and with scarce a hand and foot to my back! Adieu! Yours, etc. A poor old remnant.
I am not dead of fatigue with my royal visitors, as I expected to be, though I was on my poor lame feet three whole hours. Your daughter, who kindly assisted me in doing the honours, will tell you the particulars, and how prosperously I succeeded. The Queen was uncommonly condescending and gracious, and deigned to drink my health when I presented her with the last glass, and to thank me for all my attentions. Indeed my memory de la vieille cour was but once in default. As I had been assured that her Majesty would be attended by her chamberlain, yet was not, I had no glove ready when I received her at the step of her coach: yet she honoured me with her hand to lead her up stairs; nor did I recollect my omission when I led her down again. Still, though gloveless, I (fid not squeeze the royal hand, as Vice-chamberlain Smith did to Queen Mary.(897)
You will have stared, as I did, at the Elector of Hanover deserting his ally the King of Great Britain, and making peace with the monsters. But Mr. Fawkener, whom I saw at my sister’s on Sunday, laughs at the article in the newspapers, and says it is not an unknown practice for stock-jobbers to have an emissary at the rate of five hundred pounds, and despatch to Frankfort, whence he brings forged attestations of some marvellous political event, and spreads it on ’Change, which produces such a fluctuation in the stocks as amply overpays the expense of his mission.
This was all I learnt in the single night I was In town. I have not read the new French constitution, which seems longer than probably its reign will be. The five sovereigns will, I suppose, be the first guillotined. Adieu! Yours ever.
(897) It is said that Queen Mary asked some of her attendant ladies what a squeeze of the hand was supposed to intimate. They said “Love.” “Then,” said the Queen, “my Vice-chamberlain must be violently in love with me, for he always squeezes my hand.”