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THE REV. EDWARD WILSON TO THE COUNTESS OF CHATHAM.
Weymouth, August 16, 1766.
ALL my pupils merit the highest commendations, and are undoubtedly altogether the most delightful set that any man could ever boast of. My Lord and I went on Tuesday to Abbotsbury to see a very large swannery and decoy of Lord Ilchester's (1), where a Mr. Trenchard, who was formerly a captain of a merchantman, without knowing who we were, very kindly joined us, showed us every thing that was curious in the neighbourhood, and would have treated us with every thing he had in his house. At our coming away we gave him an invitation to Weymouth, and yesterday he brought a present of a dish of fish, and invited the whole family to see Abbotsbury, and to dine with him. The reason of my mentioning this affair is to acquaint your Lady
of his life. At the time of his decease, which took place in 1770, he was field-marshal of the royal forces, a privy councillor, and a colonel of the first regiment of the foot-guards. A monument in Westminster Abbey records the various actions in which he bore a distinguished part.
(1) "A little west of the town is a noble swannery, much visited by strangers. In the open or broad part of the fleet are kept six or seven hundred swans, formerly fifteen hundred, or as some say, seven or eight thousand, including hoppers, or a small species of swan, which feed and range and return home again. The royalty belonged originally to the abbot; since, to the family of the Strangeways; and now, to the Earl of Ilchester." Hutchins's Dorset, vol. ii. p. 280.
ship with the following anecdote of Mr. William. The captain had entertained him so much with a lecture on navigation and the anatomy of a ship, that Mr. William, entirely of his own accord, pressed him to stay all night, told him we had beds enough, and to prevent Mrs. Trenchard's being under any uneasy apprehension, he undertook to send a servant directly and inform her of it. All this he delivered with so good a grace and in such elegant language, without the least hesitation, that the captain was struck dumb with astonishment, and even Mr. Johnson and I, who have seen so much of him, were very nearly in the same situation. (') I would have given any thing in the world that your Ladyship had been a witness to it; for in the repetition it is impossible to do him justice. I have the honour to be, Madam,
Your Ladyship's most obliged.
and most obedient servant, EDWARD WILSON.
(1) "Though a boy in years and appearance," says Dr. Tomline, "Mr. Pitt's manners were formed, and his behaviour manly. He mixed in conversation with unaffected vivacity, and delivered his sentiments with perfect ease, equally free from shyness and flippancy, and always with strict attention to propriety and decorum. Lord Chatham, who could not but be aware of the powers of his son's mind and understanding, had encouraged him to talk without reserve upon every subject, which frequently afforded opportunity for conveying useful information and just notions of persons and things. When his Lordship's health would permit, he never suffered a day to pass without giving instruction of some sort to his children, and seldom without reading a chapter of the Bible with them." -Memoirs, vol. i. p. 4.
THE RIGHT HON. HANS STANLEY TO THE EARL OF CHATHAM.
MY DEAR LORD,
Paultons, August 19, 1766.
SINCE I had the honour of seeing you, I have employed myself in perusing, comparing, and making proper extracts of the several dispatches from Petersburg, as well as in considering the very slight communications which have as yet been received from Berlin.
The result of my reading and meditation has been, that the court of Russia ('), situated at a great
(1) The following sketch of the situation of affairs at this time at the court of St. Petersburg, is from a private letter written by Sir George Macartney to Sir Andrew Mitchell, on the 22nd of July:
"I now resume my pen, to give you an outline of the state of affairs at this court. M. Panin is the chief, if not the sole, minister here; no deliberation is held, no resolution taken, without him: every thing here, both foreign and domestic, passes through his hands. He is certainly an uncorrupted man; and though not without many faults, such as pride, inflexibility, and procrastination, he is, in my opinion, by far the properest person in this country for the great employment with which he is honoured.
"Prince Gallitzkin, the vice-chancellor, is extremely polite and well-bred; but has neither inherited great talents from nature, nor taken much pains to cultivate those few which she gave him. He was several years envoy in England; but I do not look upon him as hearty in his good wishes towards it. Happily for us, he has but little credit, and is a minister rather of parade than of confidence; for M. Panin, being governor of the Great Duke, is lodged in the palace, and being often obliged to attend upon his person, which service puts it out of his
distance from the southern powers, possessed of no colonies, and having little trade or navigation, consider themselves as more secure from dangers of every kind, than any other state in Europe; that they have long held a very haughty and inflexible language to Great Britain, and have declined every reasonable advance on our side, insisting absolutely
power to give entertainments, or to perform the honours of a first minister, so that task naturally falls to the vice-chancellor. "The Empress herself is a most extraordinary woman, and an example of application and instruction, and is infinitely superior to any of her subjects. Count Orloff is her chief favourite, and seems lately to have taken a resolution worthy of a much wiser man; which is, to meddle very little in public affairs, not at all in foreign, but quietly to enjoy his good fortune and present happiness.
"You are already acquainted with the political system of this court; which is to form a strong and solid combination amongst the powers of the North, sufficient to counterbalance the dangerous union of the courts of Madrid and Bourbon; for this purpose, the empress of Russia concluded a treaty of alliance with his Prussian Majesty, in March 1765. She has very effectually cooperated with us in overturning the French influence in Sweden, and has proposed to the court of Denmark, that they should change their system, and instead of depending on France, as they have done for several years past, attach themselves to our interest, united with other great powers of the North. M. Panin expresses the strongest desire of entering into the strictest engagements and most intimate friendship with us; convinced that his plan can neither be solid nor perfect, if Great Britain be not a partner to it. The project of a defensive alliance between the two courts was long since transmitted to London, and, except in one article, seemed to be very agreeable to the king and his ministers. Russia insists that the casus fœderis shall extend to a Turkish war, which is a point our court declares inadmissible, and the affair rests so at present; but you may depend on the better judgment of the Russian minister's sentiments on this affair."-Mitchell MSS.
upon their own terms, which must continue inadmissible. I shall add, that as that empire is now entirely at the head of affairs in the North, she seems very little to want our assistance (even were we able to afford it her) in any matters which may arise in that quarter. I therefore confess I can discern very few means and springs of action, by which we can operate there with effect: I must likewise do my predecessors the justice to say, that with regard to this alliance, his Majesty has been very well served, and nothing has been left untried by them.(1) If I had gone immediately to Petersburg, my mission would have been as fruitless as theirs.
My review of the correspondence likewise convinces me clearly, that (exclusive of the French party) the old political system of a close connection with the House of Austria, as being advantageous to them in disputes with the Turks (to which object they seem much to attend) is not eradicated, and will in time acquire greater force, if the present
(1) In a letter, written to Mr. William Burke on the 24th of August, Sir George Macartney says, "I must beg that proper instructions may be given to Mr. Stanley, to inform himself in the most particular manner of my conduct here as a minister, and especially whether what I say of M. Panin's yielding to the treaty merely from personal friendship to me be true or not. Stanley is a man of honour, and will nothing extenuate, nor set down aught in malice; and his report, I will venture to say, will be, that no man ever served his king and country with greater zeal, nor with a more unblemished reputation, than I have done."