TO THE HON. H.S. CONWAY.
RE DI COFANO, vulg. RADICOFANI,
July 5, 1740, N.S.
You will wonder, my dear Hal, to find
me on the road from Rome: why, intend I did to
stay for a new popedom, but the old éminences
are cross and obstinate, and will not choose one,
the Holy Ghost does not know when. There is a
horrid thing called the malaria, that comes to Rome
every summer, and kills one, and I did not care for
being killed so far from Christian burial. We
have been jolted to death; my servants let us come
without springs to the chaise, and we are wore threadbare:
to add to our disasters, I have sprained my ancle,
and have brought it along, laid upon a little box
of baubles that I have bought for presents in England.
Perhaps I may pick you out some little trifle there,
but don’t depend upon it; you are a disagreeable
creature, and may be I shall not care for you.
Though I am so tired in this devil of a place, yet
I have taken it into my head, that it is like Hamilton’s
Bawn, and I must write to you. ’Tis
the top of a black barren mountain, a vile little
town at the foot of an old citadel: yet this,
know you, was the residence of one of the three kings
that went to Christ’s birthday; his name was
Alabaster, Abarasser, or some such thing; the other
two were kings, one of the East, the other of Cologn.
’Tis this of Cofano, who was represented
in an ancient painting, found in the Palatine Mount,
now in the possession of Dr. Mead; he was crowned
by Augustus. Well, but about writing what
do you think I write with? Nay, with a pen; there
was never a one to be found in the whole circumference
but one, and that was in the possession of
the governor, and had been used time out of mind to
write the parole with: I was forced to send to
borrow it. It was sent me under the conduct of
a serjeant and two Swiss, with desire to return it
when I should have done with it. ’Tis a
curiosity, and worthy to be laid up with the relics
which we have just been seeing in a small hovel of
Capucins on the side of the hill, and which were all
brought by his Majesty from Jerusalem. Among other
things of great sanctity there is a set of gnashing
of teeth, the grinders very entire; a bit of the worm
that never dies, preserved in spirits; a crow of St.
Peter’s cock, very useful against Easter; the
crisping and curling, frizzling and frowncing of Mary
Magdalen, which she cut off on growing devout.
The good man that showed us all these commodities was
got into such a train of calling them the blessed
this, and the blessed that, that at last he showed
us a bit of the blessed fig-tree that Christ cursed.
FLORENCE, July 9.
My dear Harry, We are come
hither, and I have received another letter from you
with “Hosier’s Ghost." Your last put
me in pain for you, when you talked of going to Ireland;
but now I find your brother and sister go with you,
I am not much concerned. Should I be? You
have but to say, for my feelings are extremely at
your service to dispose as you please. Let us
see: you are to come back to stand for some place;
that will be about April. ’Tis a sort of
thing I should do, too; and then we should see one
another, and that would be charming: but it is
a sort of thing I have no mind to do; and then we
shall not see one another, unless you would come hither but
that you cannot do: nay, I would not have you,
for then I shall be gone. So, there are
many ifs that just signify nothing at all.
Return I must sooner than I shall like. I am
happy here to a degree. I’ll tell you my
situation. I am lodged with Mr. Mann, the best
of creatures. I have a terreno all to myself,
with an open gallery on the Arno, where I am now writing
to you. Over against me is the famous Gallery:
and, on either hand, two fair bridges. Is not
this charming and cool? The air is so serene,
and so secure, that one sleeps with all the windows
and doors thrown open to the river, and only covered
with a slight gauze to keep away the gnats. Lady
Pomfret has a charming conversation once a week.
She has taken a vast palace and a vast garden, which
is vastly commode, especially to the cicisbeo-part
of mankind, who have free indulgence to wander in
pairs about the arbours. You know her daughters:
Lady Sophia is still, nay she must be, the beauty
she was: Lady Charlotte is much improved, and
is the cleverest girl in the world; speaks the purest
Tuscan, like any Florentine. The Princess Craon
has a constant pharaoh and supper every night, where
one is quite at one’s ease. I am going
into the country with her and the prince for a little
while, to a villa of the Great Duke’s. The
people are good-humoured here and easy; and what makes
me pleased with them, they are pleased with me.
One loves to find people care for one, when they can
have no view in it.
You see how glad I am to have reasons
for not returning; I wish I had no better.
As to “Hosier’s Ghost,”
I think it very easy, and consequently pretty; but,
from the ease, should never have guessed it Glover’s.
I delight in your, “the patriots cry it up,
and the courtiers cry it down, and the hawkers cry
it up and down,” and your laconic history of
the King and Sir Robert, on going to Hanover, and
turning out the Duke of Argyle. The epigram,
too, you sent me on the same occasion is charming.
Unless I sent you back news that you
and others send me, I can send you none. I have
left the Conclave, which is the only stirring thing
in this part of the world, except the child that the
Queen of Naples is to be delivered of in August.
There is no likelihood the Conclave will end, unless
the messages take effect which ’tis said the
Imperial and French ministers have sent to their respective
courts for leave to quit the Corsini for the Albani
faction: otherwise there will never be a pope.
Corsini has lost the only one he could have ventured
to make pope, and him he designed; ’twas Cenci,
a relation of the Corsini’s mistress. The
last morning Corsini made him rise, stuffed a dish
of chocolate down his throat, and would carry him
to the scrutiny. The poor old creature went,
came back, and died. I am sorry to have lost the
sight of the Pope’s coronation, but I might
have staid for seeing it till I had been old enough
to be pope myself.
Harry, what luck the Chancellor has!
first, indeed, to be in himself so great a man; but
then in accident: he is made Chief Justice and
peer, when Talbot is made Chancellor and peer.
Talbot dies in a twelvemonth, and leaves him the seals
at an age when others are scarce made Solicitors: then
marries his son into one of the first families of
Britain, obtains a patent for a Marquisate and eight
thousand pounds a year after the Duke of Kent’s
death: the Duke dies in a fortnight, and leaves
them all! People talk of Fortune’s wheel,
that is always rolling: troth, my Lord Hardwicke
has overtaken her wheel, and rolled away with it....