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upon all occasions, I have exerted my little powers (as, indeed, I thought it my duty) in exposing follies, how much soever the farourites of the day; and pernicious prejudices, however protected and popular. This, my lord, has been done, if those may be believed who have the best right to know, sometimes with success; let me add too, that, in doing this, I never lost my credit with the public, because they knew I proceeded upon principle, that I disdained being either the echo or the instrument of any man, however exalted his station, and that I never received reward nor protection from any other hands than their own. I have the honour to be, &c.
About the same time, Aug. 13, Mr. Foote wrote as follows, to the Duchess of Kingston.
“ MADAM, a member of the privy council, and a friend of your grace's (he has begged me not to mention his name, but I suppose your grace will easily guess him), has just left
He has explained to me, what I did not conceive, that the publication of the scenes in The Trip to Calais, at this juncture, with the dedication and preface, might be of infinite ill consequence to your affairs.
I really, Madam, wish you no ill, and should be sorry to do you an injury.
I therefore give up to that consideration what neither your grace's offers, nor the threats of your agents, could obtain; the scenes shall not be published, nor shall any thing appear at my theatre, or from me, that can hurt you; provided the attacks made on me in the newspapers do not make it necessary for me to act in defence of myself. Your grace will therefore see the necessity of giving
I have the honour to be, &c. North-end, Aug. 13.
SAM. Foote.” This letter produced the following spirited answer, by a servant.
To MR. Foote. “ Sir,—I was at dinner when I received your ill-judged letter. As there is little consideration required, I shall sacrifice a moment to answer it.
A member of your privy council can never hope to be of a lady's cabinet.
I know too well what is due to my own dignity, to enter into a compromise with an extortionable assassin of private reputation. If I before abhorred you for your slander, I now despise you for your concessions; it is a proof of the illiberality of your satire, when you can publish or suppress it as best suits the needy conveyance of your purse. You first had the cowardly baseness to draw the sword, and, if I sheath it until I make you crouch like the subservient vassal as you 'are, then is there not spirit in an injured woman nor meanness in a slanderous buffoon.
To a man my sex alone would have screened me from attack--but I am writing to the descendant of a merryandrew, and prostitute the term of manhood by applying it to Mr. Foote.
Clothed in my innocence as in a coat of mail, I ain proof against an host of foes, and, conscious of never having intentionally offended a single individual, I doubt not but a brave and generous public will protect me from the malevolence of a theatrical assassin. You shall have cause to remember, that, though I would have given liberally for the relief of your necessities, I scorn to be bullied into a purs chase of your silence.
There is something, however, in your pity at which my nature revolts. To make me an offer of pity at once betrays your insolence and your vanity. I will keep the pity you send until the morning before you are turned off, when I will return it by a cupid with a box of lip-salve, and a choir of choristers shall chauot a stave to your requiem. Kingston-house, Aug. 13.
E. KINGSTON. P.S. You would have received this sooner, but the servant has been a long time writing it."
To this letter Mr. Foote replied, « TO THE DUCHESS OF KINGSTON. MADAM, though I have neither time nor inclination to answer the illiberal attacks of your agents, yet a public correspondence with your grace is too great an honour for me to decline. I cannot help thinking but it would have been prudent in your grace to have answered my letter before dinner, or at least postponed it to the cool hour of the morning; you would then have found, that I have voluntarily granted that request which you had endeavoured, by so many different ways, to obtain.
Lord Mountstuart, for whose amiable qualities I have the
highest respect, and whose name your agents first very une necessarily produced to the public, must recollect, when I had the honour to meet him at Kingston-house, by your Grace's appointment, that, instead of begging relief from your charity, I rejected your splendid offers to suppress the Trip to Calais* with the contempt they deserved. Indeed, Madam, the humanity of my royal and benevolent master, and the public protection, have placed me much above the reach of your bounty.
But why, Madam, put on your coat of mail against me? I have no hostile intentions. Folly, not vice, is the game I pursue. In those scenes which you so unaccountably apply to yourself, you must observe, that there is not the slightest hint at the little incidents of your life. I am happy, Madam, however, to hear that your robe of innocence is in such perfect repair: I was afraid it might have been a little the worse for the wearing: may it hold out, to keep you warm the next winter!
The progenitors your Grace has done me the honour to give me, are, I presume, merely metaphorical persons, and to be considered as the authors of my muse, and not of my manhood: a merry-andrew and a prostitute are no bad poetical parents, especially for a writer of plays; the first to give the humour and mirth, the last to furnish the graces and powers of attraction.
If you mean that I really owe my birth to that pleasant connection, your Grace is grossly deceived. My father was, in truth, a very useful magistrate, and respectable country gentleman, as the whole county of Cornwall will tell you; my mother, the daughter of Sir Edward Goodere, Bart. who represented the county of Hereford; her fortune was large, and her morals irreproachable, till your Grace condescended to stain them; she was upwards of fourscore years old when she died, and, what will surprise your Grace, was never married but once in her life. I am obliged to your Grace for your intended present on the day, as you politely express it, when I am to be turned off.—But where will your Grace get the cupid to bring the lip-salve?—that family, I am afraid, has long quitted your service.
Pray Madam, is not I-n the name of your female confidential secretary ? and is she not generally clothed in black petticoats made out of your weeds?
* To invalidate this fact the Rev. John Forster has made an affidavit before Sir John Fielding, importing, that, after some conversation with Mr. Poote on the impropriety of publishing the piece in questirn, Mr. Foote said, that, unless the Duchess of Kingston would give him 20001, he would publish the Trip to Caluis, with a preface and dedication to her Grace,
I fancy your Grace took the hint when you last resided at Rome; you heard there, I suppose, of a certain Joan, who was once elected a pope, and in humble imitation, have converted a pious parson into a chambermaid. The scheme is new in this country, and has, doubtless, its particular pleasures. That you may never want the benefit of the clergy, in every emergence, is the sincere wish of your Grace's most devoted humble servant, 1775, Aug.
XIX, Letter containing Strictures on Gray's Posthumous Works,
MR. URBAN, OBSERVING that you sometimes admit Latin letters into you excellent Miscellany, I send you one in that language, (lately written to a friend,) containing free strictures on some of Mr. Gray's posthumous pieces. If you think it likely to afford any entertainment to your classical readers, you will, perhaps, allow it a place in your next Magazine; if not, you will oblige the writer by suppressing it. Caerhaes, Cornwall, Sept. 21.
Q. I-B-F--S. D. EGỜ vero, Vir Amicissime, vehementer gaudeo nudius quartus cognovisse ex literis tuis, gregem modo Te tuum invisurum fuisse Troupes va hawv; plus adeo gavisurus, si bonum hoc consilium, ut primum potueris, effectum dederis. * * *
De posthumis Graii scriptis rectius Te multo atque xettina Tsgws statuisse puto, quam quidem ex iis cursim raptimque quodammodo legendis ipse statueram.
Concinnavi porro comparationem quandam, parum felicem eam et male sanam, Odes hujusce Graii,
Barbaras ædes aditure mecum, &c. cum Horutii Ode, mellita quidem illa,
Ulla si juris tibi pejerati, &c. totam utique Venerem spirante, quicum altera ea nil nisi metrum habet commune; istius interim immemor, ut jure quis suspicari posset, quam Septimio* suo Romanus dicavit poeta, quamque Anglus ille noster ex professo imitabatur, Insignein plane præproperi, et currente calamno, haud satis ad amussim exacti judicii errorem !
De Agrippina vero idem tecum sentio. Nihil hic simplex nudumque; nullus adeo verus naturæ color, nulla vox; sed compta, sed fucata, sed arcessita omnia. In scenam prodit princeps femina, mea quidem sententia fæminarum haud ita absimilis nostratium, t “fictis, compositis, crispisque cincinnis”-purpurata probe ac purpurissata probet“cumatile et plumatile,” ambitiosa nimium ornamenta, secum velut in pompam trahens; perinde quasi prima fuerit et præcipua imperatricis Romanæ laus, (ut alia translatione utar) 'declamatorio quodam tonare eloquio, atque ore rotundo loqui. Hanc quidem pol Agrippinai, sicut mihi videtur, " in spongiami” potius “incubuisse" oportuit, quemadmodum fere de Ajace suo dixit quondam per jocum dugustus, quam in publicum promi.
Neque aliter forsan de Literis plerisque Graii, prosa oratione conscriptis, æquus rerum æstimator judicarit. Judicet certe leves admodum esse eas futilesque, nec simplici demum lectione, nedum Graio scriptore dignas. Non possum tamen quin ex hac qualicunque censura paucas quasdame Gallia Italiaque missas lubens excipiam. Rectæ enim sunt, pulchræ et jucundæ; non in ostentationem illæ nescio quarum facetiarum illiberalium, sed ad animi liberam quandam oblectationem compositæ, omnique gratiæ ac venustatis laude cumulatæ. Quin et res, loca, personas, varios hominum mores, variaque eorum studia, instituta, vite deliaimenta; ad hoc, specicsa quotquot fere sint his in terris naturæ miracula, et quidquid denique oculorum uspiam auriumve judicio subjiciatur, tam plane ac dilucide, tamque vivis egregiisque coloribus his in literis exprimi cernimus et depingi, ut, inter legendas eas, magis clare prope singula mente liceat cogitationeque percipere, quam si mediis ipsi in rebus versaremur.
Haud scio an longiori Te fuerin epistola moraturus, dicu turusque quam mihi videatur Graius in Latine sciendo atque scribendo deus, ni laudem istiusmodi et parvi Te facere viderem, mihique deessent omnia fallacis memoriæ subsidia. Nam nec Littletonus hic, nec Ainsworthius amicam præbet
* Septimi, Gades aditure mecum, &c. + Voces Plautinæ, quibus muliebrem in ornatu lugum lepide pingit Poeta. (Truculent. Act II. Sc. 2. Epidic. A. II. S. Son]
Suetonius in Octavio.