« הקודםהמשך »
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 degree, upon which the pleasure of society, and the happiness of life, depend: and he exercised them with the greatest decency, and best manners. As good-nature is said, by a great author', to belong more particularly to the English, than any other nation; it may again be said, that it belonged more particularly to the late carl of Dorset, than to any other Englishman.
A kind husband he was, without fondness; and an indulgent father, without partiality. So extraordinary good a master, that this quality ought indeed to have been numbered among his defects; for he was often served worse than became his station, from his unwillingness to assume an authority too severe. And, during those little transports of passion, to which I just now said he was subject, I have known his servants get into his way, that they might make a merit of it immediately after; for he, that had the good fortune to be chid, was sure of being rewarded for it.
His table was one of the last that gave us an example of the old housekeeping of an English nobleman. A freedom reigned at it, which made every one of his guests think himself at home; and an abundance, which showed that the master's hospitality extended to many more than those who had the honour to sit at the table with him.
In his dealings with others, his care and exactness, 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 re
any favonra had long boconged to tak
lieved his necessities; and while he gave hiin his assistance in private, in public he extenuated and pitied his errour.
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 tenour 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 sistervirtues. · 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 lazy 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 inake 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 Mæcenas, the protectors of learning; Aristides, the good citizen; and Atticus, the well-bred 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 deliciæ 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 50 sensibly as that of his death.
Ille dies quem semper acerbum
Semper honoratum (sic Di voluistis) habebo. Eneas could not reflect upon the loss of his own father with greater piety, my lord, than I inust recall the memory of yours: and, when I think whose son I ain 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 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 inight 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 inine; and I humbly hope, that, as I may hereafter bind up my fuller sheaf, and lay some pieces of á 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,
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 I hardly 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 re-printing 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 happen to come: public panegyrics, amorous odes, serious reflections, or idle tales, the product of his leisure hours, who had business enough upon: his hands, and was only a poet by accident.
I own myself much obliged to Mrs. Singer, who has given me leave to print a pastoral of her writing; that poem having produced the verses immediately following it. I wish she might bo prevailed w th to publish some other pieces of that kind, in which the softness of her sex, and tho fneness of her genius, conspire to give her a very distinguishing character.
I must help my preface by a postscript, to tell the reader that there is ten years distance between my writing one and the other; and that (whatever I thought then, and have somewhere said, that I would publish no more poetry) he will find several copies of verses scattered through this edition which were not printed in the first. Those relating to the public stand in the order they did before, according to the several years in which they were written; however the disposition of our national affairs, the actions or fortunes of some men, and the opinions of others, may have changed. Prose, and other human things, may take what turn they can; but poetry, which pretends to have something of divinity in it, is to be more permanent. 'Odes, once printed, cannot well be altered, when the author has already said, that he expects his works should live for ever: and it had been very foolish in my friend Horace, if, some years after his Exegi Monumentum, he should have desired to see his building taken down again.
The dedication likewise is re-printed, to the earl of Dorset, in the foregoing leaves, without any alteration; though I had the fairest opportunity, and the strongest inclination, to have added a great deal to it. The blooming hopes, which I said the world expected from my then very young Ipatron, have been confirmed by most noble and distinguished first-fruits; and his life is going on towards a plentiful harvest of all accumulated virtues. He has, in fact, exceeded whatever the fondness of my wishes could invent in his farour: his equally good and beautiful lady enjoys in him an inQulgent and obliging busband; his children, a kind and careful father; and his acquaintance, a faithful, generous, and polite friend. His fellow-peers have attended to the persuasion of his elow quence; and have been convinced by the solidity of his reasoning. He has, long since, deserved and attained the honour of the garter. He has managed some of the greatest charges of the king. dom with known ability; and laid them down with entire disinteressment. And as he continues the exercises of these eminent virtues, (which that he may to a very old age, shall be my perpetual wish) he may be one of the greatest men that our age, or possibly our nation, bas bred; and leave ma. terials for a panegyric, not unworthy the pen of soine future Pliny.
From so noble a subject as the earl of Dorset, to so mean a one as myself, is (1 confess) a very Pindaric transition: I shall only say one word, and trouble the reader no further. I published my poems formerly, as Monsieur Jourdain sold his silk : he would not be thought a tradesman; but ordered some pieces to be measured out to his particular friends. Now I give up my shop, and dispose of all my poetical goods at once: I must therefore desire, that the public would please to take them in the gross; and that every body would turn over what he does not like.