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leisure. He was of the bed-chamber to the king, and possessed not only his master's favour, but (in a great degree) his familiarity; never leaving the court, but when he was sent to that of France, on some short commissions and embassies of compliment: as if the king designed to show the French (who would be thought the politest nation), that one of the finest gentlemen in Europe was his subject; and that we had a prince who understood his worth so well, as not to suffer him to be long out of his presence.
The succeeding reign neither relished my Lord's wit, nor approved his maxims: so he retired altogether from court. But as the irretrievable mistakes of that unhappy government went on to threaten the nation with something more terrible than a Dutch war, he thought it became him to resume the courage of his youth, and once more to | engage himself in defending the liberty of his country. He entered into the Prince of Orange's inte- | rest, and carried on his part of that great enterprise here in London, and under the eye of the court, with the same resolution, as his friend and fellow-patriot, the late Duke of Devonshire, did in | open arms at Nottingham, till the dangers of those times increased to extremity, and just apprehensions arose for the safety of the princess, our present glorious queen: then the Earl of Dorset was thought the properest guide of her necessary flight, and the person under whose courage and direction
the nation might most safely trust a charge so precious and important. After the establishment of their late majesties upon the throne, there was room again at court for men of my Lord's character. He had a part in the councils of those princes, a great share in their friendship, and all the marks of distinction with which a good government could reward a patriot. He was made chamberlain of their majesties’ household, a place which he so eminently adorned by the grace of his person, the fineness of his breeding, and the knowledge and practice of what was decent and magnificent, that he could only be rivalled in these qualifications by one great man, who has since held the same staff. The last honours he received from his sovereign (and indeed they were the greatest which a subject could receive), were, that he was made knight of the garter, and constituted one of the regents of the kingdom, during his majesty's absence. But his health, about that time, sensibly declining, and the public affairs not threatened by any imminent danger, he left the business to those who delighted more in the state of it, and appeared only sometimes at council, to show his respect to the commission; giving as much leisure as he could to the relief of those pains, with which it pleased God to afflict him, and indulging the reflections of a mind, that had looked through the world with too piercing an eye, and was grown weary of the prospect. Upon the whole, it may very justly be said of this great man, with regard to the public, that through the course of his life, he acted like an able pilot in a long voyage; contented to sit quiet in the cabin, when the winds were allayed, and the waters smooth; but vigilant and ready to resume the helm, when the storm arose, and the sea grew tumultuous. I ask your pardon, my Lord, if I look yet a little more nearly into the late Lord Dorset's character: if I examine it not without some intention of finding fault; and (which is an odd way of making a panegyric) set his blemishes and imperfections in open view. The fire of his youth carried him to some excesses, but they were accompanied with a most lively invention, and true humour. The little violences and easy mistakes of a night too gaily spent (and that too in the beginning of life), were always set right the next day, with great humanity, and ample retribution. His faults brought their excuse with them, and his very failings had their beauties. So much sweetness accompanied what he said, and so great generosity what he did, that people were always prepossessed in his favour; and it was in fact true, what the late Earl of Rochester said in jest to King Charles, that he did not know how it was, but my Lord Dorset might do any thing, yet was never to blame. He was naturally very subject to passion; but the short gust was soon over, and served only to set off the charms of his temper, when more composed. That very passion broke out with a force of wit, which made even anger agreeable: while it lasted, he said and forgot a thousand things, which other men would have been glad to have studied and wrote; but the impetuosity was corrected upon a moment's reflection, and the measure altered with such grace and delicacy, that you could scarce perceive where the key was changed. He was very sharp in his reflections; but never in the wrong place. His darts were sure to wound; but they were sure too to hit none but those whose follies gave him a very fair aim. And when he allowed no quarter, he had certainly been provoked by more than common error; by men's tedious and circumstantial recitals of their affairs, or by their multiplied questions about his own ; by extreme ignorance and impertinence; or the mixture of these, an ill-judged and never-ceasing civility; or lastly, by the two things which were his utter aversion, the insinuation of a flatterer, and the whisper of a tale-bearer. If, therefore, we set the piece in its worst position; if its faults be most exposed; the shades will still appear very finely joined with their lights; and every imperfection will be diminished by the lustre of some neighbouring virtue. But if we turn the great drawings and wonderful colourings to their true light, the whole must appear beautiful, noble, admirable. He possessed all those virtues in the highest de
gree, upon which the pleasure of society, and the
1 Sprat, Hist, of the Royal Society.