Page images

prodigality; for he retired from business in one thousand seven hundred and sixty-two, above four hundred thousand pounds poorer than when he first engaged in it. Upon the whole, he was a compound of most human weaknesses, but untainted with any vice or crime.


» * * *

The duke of Newcastle was a man of whom no one ever spoke with cordial regard; of parts and conduct which generally drew animadversions bordering on contempt; of notorious insincerity, political cowardice, and servility to the highest and lowest. Yet, insincere without gall, ambitious without pride, luxurious, jovial, hospitable to all men; of an exorbitant estate, affable, forgetful of offences, and profuse of his favours indiscriminately to all his adherents; he had established a faction by far the most powerful in this country. Hence he derived that influence which encouraged his unworthy pretensions to ministerial power. Nor was he less indebted to a long experience of a court, a long practice in all its craft, whence he had acquired a certain art of imposition, that in every negotiation with the most distinguished popular leaders, however superior to himself in understanding, from the instant they began to depart from ingenuous and public principles, he never missed his advantage, nor failed of making them his property at last, and himself their master. Glover.


In the summer of this year, being now an exsecretary of an ex-statesman, 1 went to Eastbury, the seat of Mr. Dodington, in Dorsetshire, and passed the whole time of his stay in that place. Lord Halifax, with his brother-in-law Colonel Johnston, of the blues, paid a visit there, and the Countess Dowager of Stafford and old Lady Hervey were resident with us the whole time. Our splendid host was excelled by no man in doing the honours of his house and table; to the ladies he had all the courtly and profound devotion of a Spaniard, with the ease and gaiety of a Frenchman towards the men. His mansion was magnificent, massy, and stretching out to a great extent of front, with an enormous portico of Doric columns, ascended by a stately flight of steps; there were turrets and wings that went I know not whither, though now they are levelled with the ground, and gone to more ignoble uses: Vanbrugh, who constructed this superb edifice, seemed to have had the plan of Blenheim in his thoughts, and the interior was as proud and splendid as the exterior was bold and imposing. All this was exactly in unison with the taste of its magnificent owner, who had gilt and furnished the apartments with a profusion of finery, that kept no terms with simplicity, and not always with elegance or harmony of style. Whatever Mr. Dodington's revenue then was, he had the happy art of managing it with that regularity and economy, that I believe he made more display at less cost than any man in the kingdom but himself could have done. His town house in Pall Mall, his villa at Hammersmith, and the mansion above described, were such establishments as few nobles in the nation were possessed of. In either of these he was not to be approached but through a suite of apartments, and rarely seated but under painted ceilings and gilt entablatures. In his villa you were conducted through two rows of antique marble statues, ranged in a gallery floored with the rarest marbles, and enriched with columns of granite and lapis lazuli; his saloon was hung with the finest Gobelin tapestry, and he slept in a bed encanopied with peacock's feathers in the style of Mrs. Montague. When he passed from Pall Mall to La Trappe it was always in a coach, which I could suspect had been his ambassadorial equipage at Madrid, drawn by six fat unwieldy black horses, short docked, and of colossal dignity: neither was he less characteristic in apparel than in equipage; he had a wardrobe loaded with rich and flaring suits, each in itself a load to the wearer, and of these I have no doubt but many were coeval with his embassy above mentioned, and every birthday added to the stock. In doing this he so contrived as never to put his old dress out of countenance by any variations in the fashions of the new; in the meantime his bulk and corpulency gave full display to a vast expanse and profusion of brocade and embroidery, and this, when set off with an enormous tieperriwig and deep laced ruffles, gave the picture

of an ancient courtier in his gala habit, or Quin in his stage dress: nevertheless, it must be confessed this style, though out of date, was not out of character, but harmonized so well with the person of the wearer, that I remember when he made his first speech in the House of Peers as Lord Melcombe, all the flashes of his wit, all the studied phrases and well turned periods of his rhetoric, lost their effect, simply because the orator had laid aside his magisterial tie, and put on a modern bag-wig, which was as much out of costume upon the broad expanse ef his shoulders as a cue would have been upon the robes of the Lord Chief Justice.

Having thus dilated more than perhaps I should have done upon this distinguished person's passion for magnificence and display, when I proceed to inquire into those principles of good taste, which should naturally have been the accompaniments and directors of that magnificence, I fear I must be compelled by truth to admit, that in these he was deficient. Of pictures he seemed to take his estimate only by their cost! in fact, he was not possessed of any : but I recollect his saying to me one day in his great saloon at Eastbury, that if he had half a score pictures of a thousand pounds apiece, he would gladly decorate his walls with them; in place of which, I am sorry to say, he had stuck up immense patches of gilt leather, shaped into bugle horns, upon hangings of rich crimson velvet; and round his state bed he displayed a carpeting of gold and silver embroidery, which too glaringly betrayed its derivation from coat,

vOL. II. B B

waistcoat, and breeches, by the testimony of pockets, buttonholes, and loops, with other equally incontrovertible witnesses, subpoenaed from the tailor's shopboard. When he paid his court at St. James's to the present queen upon her nuptials, he approached to kiss her hand decked in an embroidered suit of silk, with lilac waistcoat and breeches, the latter of which, in the act of kneeling down, forgot their duty, and broke loose from their moorings in a very indecorous and unseemly manner.

In the higher provinces of taste we may contemplate his character with more pleasure, for he had an ornamented fancy and a brilliant wit. He was an elegant Latin classic, and well versed in history, ancient and modern. His favourite prose writer was Tacitus, and I scarce ever surprised him in his hours of reading without finding that author upon his table before him. He understood him well, and descanted upon him very agreeably, and with much critical acumen. Mr. Dodington was in nothing more remarkable than in ready perspicuity and clear discernment of a subject thrown before him on a sudden; take his first thoughts then, and he would charm you; give him time to ponder and refine, you would perceive the spirit of his sentiments and the vigour of his genius evaporate by the process; for though his first view of the question would be a wide one, and clear withal, when he came to exercise the subtlety of his disquisitorial powers upon it, he would so ingeniously dissect and break it into fractions, that as an object, when looked upon too intently for a length of

« PreviousContinue »