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George Selwyn: His Letters and His Life   By: (1719-1791)

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E text prepared by Marjorie Fulton


Edited by


London T. Fisher Unwin Paternoster Square



IN the histories and memoirs of the eighteenth century the name of George Selwyn often occurs. The letters which he received have afforded frequent and valuable material to the student of the reign of George the Third. A large number of these were published by the late Mr. Jesse in the four volumes entitled "George Selwyn and his Contemporaries." Except, however, that Selwyn was regarded as the first humourist of his time, little was known about him, for scarcely any letters which he wrote had until recently been found. But in the Fifteenth Report of the Historical Manuscript Commission there were printed, amongst a mass of other material, more than two hundred letters from his untiring pen which had been preserved at Castle Howard. No one who has had an opportunity of examining the originals can fail to recognise the skill and labour with which the Castle Howard correspondence of Selwyn wanting in most instances the date of the year was arranged by Mr. Kirk on behalf of the Commission.

A correspondence, however, which illustrates vividly phases of an interesting and important period of English history, appeared to be deserving of presentation to the public in a separate volume, and with the explanations necessary to make the allusions in it fully understood.

A selection has therefore, in the following pages, been made from the Castle Howard letters. The aim of the editors has been to choose those which appeared most interesting and representative, and to place them in definite groups, supplementing them with such a narrative, remarks, and notes as would, without enveloping the correspondence in a quantity of extraneous material, enable the whole to present the life of Selwyn, and at the same time add another to the pictures of the age in which he lived.

The dates of the letters are those ascribed to them by Mr. Kirk.

The frequently incorrect spelling of proper names has not been altered.

The editors desire cordially to thank Lord Carlisle, not only for the permission to publish this correspondence, but for the kind assistance which he has given in other ways to the undertaking.

E. S. R. H. C.

November, 1899.



CHAPTER 2. 1767 1769. THE CORRESPONDENCE COMMENCES .... Frederick, fifth Earl of Carlisle Lady Sarah Bunbury The Duke of Grafton Carlisle, Charles Fox, and the Hollands abroad Current Events Card playing A dinner at Crawford's Lady Bolingbroke Almack's The Duke of Bedford Lord Clive The Nabobs Corporation of Oxford sell the representation of the borough Madame du Deffand Publication of Horace Walpole's "Historic Doubts on Richard the Third" Newmarket London Society Gambling at the Clubs A post promised to Selwyn Elections A purchase of wine Vauxhall.

CHAPTER 3. 1773 1777; 1779 AND 1780 POLITICS AND SOCIETY. Fox's debts Lord Holland News from London Interviews with Fox The Fire at Holland House A Visit to Tunbridge Provision for Mie Mie County business and electioneering at Gloucester Lotteries Fox and Carlisle Highway adventures London Society Newmarket intelligence An evening in town Charles Fox and America Carlisle declines a court post money from Fox Selwyn and gambling A Private Bill committee Selwyn in bad spirits The Royal Society Book buying Political affairs London parks Gainsborough The Duchess of Kingston Selwyn's private affairs "The Diaboliad" A dinner at the French Ambassador's Politics and the clubs In Paris Electioneering again.

CHAPTER 4. 1781. THE DISASTERS IN AMERICA. A drum at Selwyn's George, Lord Morpeth Dr. Warner Sale of the Houghton pictures The House of Commons Pitt's first speech Selwyn unwell Play at Brooks's London gaieties Fox and his new clothes Gambling The bailiffs in Fox's house "Fish" Crawford Montem at Eton Mie Mie's education Second speech of Pitt Lord North A Court Ball Society and politics The Emperor of Austria Conversation with Fox Personal feelings American affairs rd North and Mr... Continue reading book >>

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