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pieces is an ingot of gold, intrinsically and solidly valuable ; such as, wrought or beaten thinner, would shine through a whole book of any other author. His thought was always new; and the expression of it so particu. larly happy, that every body knew immediately it could only be my
lord Dorset's: and yet it was so easy too, that every body was ready to imagine himself capable of writing it. There is a lustre in his verses, like that of the sun in Claude Lorrain's landscapes: it looks natural, and i: inimitable. His love-verses have a mixture of delicacy and strength: they convey the wit of Petronius in the softness of Tibullus. His satire indeed is so severely pointed, that in it he appears, what his great friend the earl of Rochester (that other prodigy of the age) says he was;
The best good man, with the worst-natur'd Muse. Yet, even here, that character may justly be applicd to him, which Persius gives of the best writer of this kind that ever lived:
Omne vafer vitium ridenti Flaccus amico
Tangit, & admissus circum præcordia ludit: And the gentleman had always so much the better of the satirist, that the persons touched did not know where to fix their resentments; and were forced to appear rather ashamed than angry. Yet so far was this
great author from valuing himself upon his works, that he cared not what became of them, though every body else did. There are many things of his not extant in writing, which, however, are always repeated: like the verses and sayings of the ancient Druids, they retain an universal veneration, though they are preserved only by memory.
As it is often seen, that those men who are least qualified for business love it most; my lord Dorset's character was, that he certainly understood it, but did not care for it.
Coming very young to the possession of two plentiful estates, and in an age when pleasure was more in fashion than business, he turned his parts rather to books and conversation, than to politics, and what more immc. i diately related to the public. But, whenever the safety of his country demanded his assistance, he readily entered into the most active parts of life; and underwent the greatest dangers, with a constancy of mind which showed, that he had not only read the rules of philosophy, but understood the praclize of them,
In the first Dutch war, he went a volunteer under the duke of York: his behaviour, during that campaign, was such as distinguished the Sackville descended from that Hildebrand of the name, who was one of the greatest captains that came into England with the Conqueror. But his making a song the night before the engagement (and it was one of the prettiest that tver was made) carries with it so sedate a presence of mind, and such an
unusual gallantry, that it deserves as much to be recorded, as Alexander's jesting with his soldiers before he passed the Granicus; or William the First of Orange giving orders over-night for a battle, and desiring to be called in the morning, lest he should happen to sleep too long.
From hence, during the remaining part of king Charles's reign, he continued to live in honourable 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 mistake of that unhappy government went on to threaten the nation with something more terrible than a Dutch war, he thought it Lecame 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 interest; 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 carl of Dorset was thought the properest guide of her necessary fight, 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 very fair aim. And, when he allowed no quarter, he had certainly been provoked by more than common errour; 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 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 earl 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
lieved his necessities; and while he gave him 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 so sensibly as that of his death.
Nle diesquem semper acerbum
Semper honoratum (sic Di voluistis) habebo. Æneas 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