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from yourself; hut they will persuade you, that you should not be obstinate on this head; that individuals should not stand in the way of accommodation. That is true, in some sense ; but it is of the highest consequence to your own honour, not to abandon your friends. You will see that the parliament will never give up their creatures; and do you think, that if you shew firmness on your side, they will break off treating on that account? Not in the least; they find too much advantage by keeping up a negotiation, to break it off for the sake of three or four persons. It is true, that if you act as you have done, notwithstanding all the promises you have made me, you will be the sufferer. I beg of you to observe, if the parliament recede from any thing they have once undertaken: if you take the course you did last summer in Scotland, adieu to royalty. For my part, I can endure any thing, and live as a vagabond*, and let you follow the councils
of those who think themselves wiser than me. If I see any prospect of accommodation, you will allow me to send you the terms you should stand upon; if you approve of them, keep them by you ; if not, burn them, and say nothing; and let nobody know I have sent any such hints; not even those who used to see my letters,
Adieu dear heart.” N. B. The volume containing these letters is marked 7379, in the Harleian catalogue.
XVIII. Letters between the Duchess of Kingston and Mr. Foote. The following letters will afford amusement. It has been usual with Mr. Foote, during the suspension of the Theatres Royal, to entertain the lovers of the drama with some new pieces (chiefly of humour) at the Little Theatre in the Haymarket. But unluckily, this year's performance, called d Trip to Calais, met with a check from the lord chamberlain, who refused to licence it. In hopes, however, of softening the rigour of his lordship's sentence, Mr. Foote wrote to him as follows:
* Demoiselle des champs is the phrase.
“ My lord, I did intend troubling your lordship with an earlier address, but the day after I received your probibitory mandate, I had the honour of a visit from Lord Mountstuart, to whose interpositior I find I am indebted for your first coinmands, relative to The Trip to Calais, by Mr. Clietwynd, and your final rejection of it by Col. Keen.
Lurd Mountstuart has, I presume, told your lordship, that be read with me those scenes to which your lordship objected; that he found them collected from general nature, and applicable to none but those who, through consciousness, were compelled to a self application : to such minds, my lord, the Whole Duty of Man, next to the 'sacred writings, is the severest satire that ever was wrote, and to the same mark, if comedy directs not her aim, her arrows are shot in the air; for by what touches no man, no man will be mended. Lord Mountstuart desired that I would suffer him to take the play with him, and let him leave it with the Duchess of Kingston: he had my consent, my lord, and at the same time an assurance, that I was willing to make any alteration that her grace would suggest. Her igrace saw the play, and, in consequence, I saw her grace; with the result of that interview, I shall not, at this time, trouble your lordship. It may, perhaps, be necessary to observe, that 'her grace could not discern, which your lordship, I dare say, will readily believe, a single trait in the character of Lady Kitty Crocodile, that resembled herself.
After this representation, your lordship will, I doubt not, permit me to enjoy the fruits of my labour; nor will you think it reasonable, because a capricious individual has taken it into her head, that I have pinned her rumes awry, that I should be punished by a poniard stuck deep in my heart : your lordship has too much candour and justice to be the instrument of so violent and ill-directed a blow.
Your lordship's determination is not only of the greatest importance to me now, but must inevitably decide my fate for the future; as, after this defeat, it will be impossible for me to muster up courage enough to face folly again. Between the muse and the magistrate there is a natural confederacy ; what the last cannot punish, the first often corrects : but when she finds herself not only deserted by her ancient ally, but sees bim armed in the defence of her foe, she has nothing left but a speedy retreat. Adieu then, my Jord, to the stage. Valeat res ludicra; to which I hope I may with justice add, Plaudite, as, during my continuance in the service of the public, I never profited by flattering their passions, or falling in with their bumours; as, upon all
occasions, I have exerted my little powers, (as, indeed, I thought it my duty) in exposing follies, how much soever the favourites 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 or protection from any other hands than their own. I have the honour to be, &c.
SamueL FOOTE. About the same time, August 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 me, 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 proper directions,
I have the honour to be, &c. North-end, Aug. 13.
SAMUEL FOOTE." This letter produced the following spirited answer, by ą servant.
To MR, Foote. “ SIR,- I was at dinner when I received your ill-judged letter. As there is little consideratiọn 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 am 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 purchase of your silence.
There is something, however, in your pity at which iny nature revolts. To make me an offer of pity at once betrays your insolence and your vanity: I will keep the piry 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 chaunt 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 un. necessarily produced to the public, inust 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 Colais* 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 on the name of your female
* To invalidate this fact the Rev.John Forster has made an affidavit before Sir John fielding, importing, that, after some conversation with Mr. Foote on the impropriety of publishing the piece in question, Mr. Fuote said, that, unless the Duchess of Kingston would give hiin 20001, he would publish the Trip to Calais, with a preface and dedication to her grace.