« הקודםהמשך »
actness that every man should have his due, was such that you would think he had never seen a court: the politeness and civility with which this justice was administered, would convince you he never had lived out of one. He was so strict an observer of his word, that no consideration whatever could make him break it; yet so cautious, lest the merit of his act should arise from that obligation only, that he usually did the greatest favours without making any previous promise. So inviolable was he in his friendship, and so kind to the character of those whom he had once honoured with a more intimate acquaintance, that nothing less than a demonstration of some essential fault could make him break with them ; and then too, his good nature did not consent to it, without the greatest reluctance and difficulty. Let me give one instance of this amongst many. When, as lord chamberlain, he was obliged to take the king's pension from Mr. Dryden, who had long before put himself out of a possibility of receiving any favour from the court, my Lord allowed him an equivalent out of his own estate. However displeased with the conduct of his old acquaintance, he relieved his necessities; and while he gave him his assistance in private, in public he extenuated and pitied his error.
The foundation indeed of these excellent qualities, and the perfection of my Lord Dorset's character, was that unbounded charity which ran through the whole tenor of his life, and sat as visibly predominant over the other faculties of his soul, as she is said to do in Heaven, above her sister virtues. Crowds of poor daily thronged his gates, expecting thence their bread; and were still lessened by his sending the most proper objects of his bounty to apprenticeships, or hospitals. The lazar and the sick, as he accidentally saw them, were removed from the street to the physician; and many of them not only restored to health, but supplied with what might enable them to resume their former callings, and make their future life happy. The prisoner has often been released, by my Lord's paying the debt; and the condemned has been saved by his intercession with the sovereign, where he thought the letter of the law too rigid. To those whose circumstances were such as made them ashamed of their poverty, he knew how to bestow his munificence without offending their modesty; and under the notion of frequent presents, gave them what amounted to a subsistence. Many yet alive know this to be true, though he told it to none, nor ever was more uneasy than when any one mentioned it to him. We may find among the Greeks and Latins, Tibullus and Gallus, the noblemen that writ poetry; Augustus and Maecenas, the protectors of learning; Aristides, the good citizen; and Atticus, the wellbred friend; and bring them in, as examples of my Lord Dorset's wit, his judgment, his justice, and his civility. But for his charity, my Lord, we can scarce find a parallel in history itself. Titus was not more the delicia humani generis, on this account, than my Lord Dorset was ; and, without any exaggeration, that prince did not do more good in proportion out of the revenue of the Roman empire, than your father out of the income of a private estate. Let this, my Lord, remain to you and your posterity a possession for ever; to be imitated, and, if possible, to be excelled. As to my own particular, I scarce knew what life was, sooner than I found myself obliged to his favour; nor have had reason to feel any sorrow so sensibly as that of his death.
“Ille dies—quem semper acerbum
AEneas could not reflect upon the loss of his own father with greater piety, my Lord, than I must recall the memory of yours: and when I think whose son I am writing to, the least I promise myself from your goodness is an uninterrupted continuance of favour, and a friendship for life. To which, that I may with some justice entitle myself, I send your Lordship a dedication, not filled with a long detail of your praises, but with my sincerest wishes that you may deserve them. That you may employ those extraordinary parts and abilities with which heaven has blessed you, to the honour of
your family, the benefit of your friends, and the good of your country; that all your actions may be great, open, and noble, such as may tell the world whose son and whose successor you are. What I now offer to your Lordship is a collection of poetry, a kind of garland of good-will. If any verses of my writing should appear in print, under another name and patronage, than that of an Earl of Dorset, people might suspect them not to be genuine. I have attained my present end, if these poems prove the diversion of some of your youthful hours, as they have been occasionally the amusement of some of mine; and I humbly hope, that as I may hereafter bind up my fuller sheaf, and lay some pieces of a very different nature (the product of my severer studies) at your Lordship's feet, I shall engage your more serious reflection: happy, if in all my endeavours I may contribute to your delight or to your instruction. I am, with all duty and respect, My Lord, Your Lordship's most obedient, and Most humble Servant,
THE greatest part of what I have written having been already published, either singly or in some of the miscellanies, it would be too late for me to make any excuse for appearing in print. But a collection of poems has lately appeared under my name, though without my knowledge, in which the publisher has given me the honour of some things that did not belong to me; and has transcribed others so imperfectly, that Ihardly knew them to be mine. This has obliged me, in my own defence, to look back upon some of those lighter studies, which I ought long since to have quitted, and to publish an indifferent collection of poems, for fear of being thought the author of a worse. Thus I beg pardon of the public for reprinting some pieces, which as they came singly from their first impression, have (I fancy) lain long and quietly in Mr. Tonson's shop; and adding others to them, which were never before printed, and might have lain as quietly, and perhaps more safely, in a corner of my own study. The reader will, I hope, make allowance for their having been written at very distant times, and on very different occasions, and take them as they