Peter Beckford

Governor of Jamaica (1643–1710)

Sir Peter Beckford (17401811) was a British landowner, huntsman, writer, collector and the patron of the composer and pianist Muzio Clementi.


  • The colour I think of little moment; and am of opinion with our friend Foote, respecting his negro friend, that a good dog, like a good candidate, cannot be of a bad colour.
    • Thoughts upon Hare and Fox Hunting (1781), Letter 3
  • A French Author has found out that the French music is for the heart; Italian music, for the ear only: but I do not know how it is to get at the one but by means of the other, and I fancy that which does not please the ear, will never find its way to the heart. I think it is Confucius who says, that the state of music is a proof of the good or bad customs of a country. The French nation would lose by such a judgment and the Italian gain more than it deserves.
  • The Roman Nobility are not fond of strangers, and you will observe that extreme hospitality is only found where visitors are scarce.
  • Though music is the chief excellence of the Neapolitans, Naples has produced some good Painters. Luca Giordano, and Salvator Rosa, were both of them born here : the latter, to judge by a ridiculous anecdote that is told of him, was a man of wit, as well as a painter.
  • Painting in the chamber of a Prince who was indisposed, the Physician said, that he hoped bymeans of his Highness, to obtain also the favor of a picture by Salvator. The Prince made he request, and Salvator readily consented. The Physician then desired the Painter not to egin his picture till he had given him the idea, nd the design. Salvator made no reply; ut when the Physician called for pen and ink o write his prescription, he desired him to stop ill he should tell him what to write. The Docor, not comprehending his meaning, said * Signor Salvator, this is a business which conerns me, not you." "I would have you to know Mr. Doctor" replied Salvator, " that I can more easily instruct you in the cure of your tickt than you can me in the art I profess, being a much better Painter than you are a Physician.'*
  • If the famous Clementi, whom I found here (Italy) in the year 1766, and bought of his father for seven years, is not still a Catholic, the fault is not with me.—I assured the Pope I would not endeavour to convert him. Meeting him one Sunday when we were in the country, I asked him—" Why he did not go to mass" (there was a Catholic chapel about ten miles distant) : he said—" There was no horse."—" No horse! Why don't you take the grey horse?"—"O quello, Signore, scappa via.( O that one, Gentleman, run off. )"—" Take then the black poney."—" E quello casca subito.( And that one falls quickly.)" So what with the horse that fell, and the horse that ran away, I fear Signior Clementi attended mass as seldom as you do a sermon.
    • Familiar letters from Italy, to a friend in England (1805) by Sir Peter Beckford (1740-1811), Vol. 2
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