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miliar diction than king William could possibly have attained.
In 1691, being member of the House of Commons, he argued warmly in favour of a law to grant the assistance of counsel in trials for high-treason; and, in the midst of his speech falling into some confusion, was for a while silent; but, recovering himself, observed,“ how reasonable it was to allow “ counsel to men called as criminals before a court “ of justice, when it appeared how much the pre
of that assembly could disconcert one of their “ own body *.”
After this he rose fast into honours and employments, being made one of the commissioners of the treasury, and called to the privy-council. In 1694, he became chancellor of the exchequer; and the next year engaged in the great attempt of the recoinage, which was in two years happily completed. In 1696, he projected the general fund, and raised the credit of the exchequer; and, after enquiry concerning a grantof Irish crown-lands, it was determined by a vote of the Commons, that Charles Montague, esquire, had deserved his Majesty's favour. In 1698, being advanced to the first commission of the treasury,
* Mr. Reed observes, that this anecdote is related by Mr. Walpole, in his Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors, of the Earl of Shaftesbury, author of the Characteristicks, but it appears to me to be a mistake, if we are to understand that the words were spoken by Shaftesbury at this time, when he had no seat in the House of Commons; nor did the bill pass at this time, being thrown out by the House of Lords. It became a law in the 7th William, when Halifax and Shaftesbury both had seats. The editors of the Biog. Brit. adopt Mr. Walpole's story, but they are not speaking of this period. The story first appeared in the Life of Lord Halifax, published in 1715. C.
he was appointed one of the regency in the king's absence; the next year he was made auditor of the exchequer, and the year after created baron Halifax. He was, however, impeached by the Commons; but the articles were dismissed by the Lords.
At the accession of Queen Anne he was dismissed from the council; and in the first parliament of her reign was again attacked by the Commons, and again escaped by the protection of the Lords. In 1704, he wrote an answer to Bromley's speech against occasional conformity. He headed the Enquiry into the danger of the Church. In 1706, he proposed and negotiated the Union with Scotland; and when the elector of Hanover had received the Garter, after the act had passed for securing the Protestant Succession, he was appointed to carry the ensigns of the order to the electoral court. He sat as one of the judges of Sacheverell; but voted for a mild sentence. Being now no longer in favour, he contrived to obtain a writ for summoning the electoral prince to parliament as duke of Cambridge.
At the queen's death he was appointed one of the regents; and at the accession of George the First was made earl of Halifax, knight of the Garter, and first commissioner of the treasury, with a grant to his nephew of the reversion of the auditorship of the exchequer. More was not to be had, and this he kept but a little while; for, on the 19th of May, 1715, he died of an inflammation of his lungs.
Of him, who from a poet became a patron of poets, it will be readily believed that the works would not miss of celebration. Addison began to
praise him early, and was followed or accompanied by other poets ; perhaps by almost all, except Swift and Pope, who forbore to flatter him in his life, and after his death spoke of him, Swift with slight censure, and Pope in the character of Bufo with acrimonious contempt. He was, as Pope says,
“ fed with dedications ;" for Tickell affirms that no dedication was unrewarded. To charge all unmerited praise with the guilt of flattery, and to suppose that the encomiast always knows and feels the falsehoods of his assertions, is surely to discover great ignorance of human nature and human life. In determinations depending not on rules, but on experience and comparison, judgment is always in some degree subject to affection. Very near to admiration is the wish to admire.
Every man willingly gives value to the praise which he receives, and considers the sentence passed in his favour as the sentence of discernment. We admire in a friend that understanding which selected us for confidence; we admire more, in a patron, that judgment which, instead of scattering bounty indiscriminately, directed it to us ; and, if the patron be an author, those performances which gratitude forbids us to blame, affection will easily dispose us to exalt.
To these prejudices, hardly culpable, interest adds a power always operating, though not always, because not willingly, perceived. The modesty of praise wears gradually away; and perhaps the pride of patronage may be in time so increased, that modest praise will no longer please.
Many a blandishment was practised upon Halifax, which he would never have known, had he no other attractions than those of his poetry, of which a short time has withered the beauties. It would now be esteemed no honour, by a contributor to the monthly bundles of verses, to be told, that, in strains either familiar or solemn, he sings like Montague.
THE Life of Dr. PARNELL is a task which I should very willingly decline, since it has been lately written by Goldsmith, a man of such variety of powers, and such felicity of performance, that he always seemed to do best that which he was doing; a man who had the art of being minute without tediousness, and general without confusion ; whose language was copious without exuberance, exact without constraint, and easy without weakness.
What'such an author has told, who would tell again? I have made an abstract from' his larger narrative; and have this gratification from my attempt, that it gives me an opportunity of paying due tribute to the memory of Goldsmith.
Το γαρ γέρας έςι θανόνων.
THOMAS PARNELL was the son of a commonwealthsman of the same name, who, at the Restoration, left Congleton in Cheshire, where the VOL. X.