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did his usual outdoings in his lie the other day on the subject of the Russian business ;"*a circumstance to which the following passage in the Grenville correspondence refers: "Tom asked me what the
Doctor's mysterious declaration, in answer to Fox's question, could possibly mean? It meant, as usual with the Doctor's mysteries, nothing at all, and the whole assertion was, as is no less usual with the Doctor's assertions, a lie." Even Addington's eventual discomfiture could not please, by the manner and results of it, his contemptuous overlooker. "The Doctor has chosen a bad time for his resignation. . . . . His folly in this, as in everything else, is beyond all conception." Nevertheless, "the Doctor's resignation may do great good, as furnishing evidence of the impossibility of Pitt's going on with any set of Ministers who are not his own mere creatures and tools. If the Doctor will fall in with these views, I am sure I have no objection to coalescing with him,"§-any more than, a little while before, I, Charles Fox, facile princeps in the art and practice of Coalitions, had, or would have again, to coalesce with Pitt against the Doctor.
Poor Sheridan is very rarely mentioned in these letters, and then in no flattering sort. "I will not say anything of public affairs, but Sheridan has outdone his usual outdoings,"-a pet phrase, apparently, with Mr. Fox, whether he is intimating the eccentricities of Richard Brinsley or the asserted mendacity of Lord Sidmouth. Again: "The Prince wished something to be done [in re the King's illness], and Moira would have supported us, but I am convinced Sheridan would not; indeed, in order to avoid being brought to the point, he strongly dissuaded our moving at that time, though I suspect he has since represented this matter somewhat differently at Carlton House.¶ "I defer the article 'Sheridan' till another letter, only he is as absurd as ever, to say no worse."** A bitter passage in Lord Holland's Memoirs, though it "names no names," has but too manifest a destiny in its application: "There was, indeed, one subject relating to patronage on which he [Mr. Fox, on taking office in 1806] was extremely uneasy: he thought that till he had provided for the person whom I allude to, he had left undischarged a long arrear of obligations. That person, by very obtrusive and unreasonable conduct at the formation of the ministry, had embarrassed, irritated, and even exasperated him. But it was not easy, even by misconduct, to cancel a debt of gratitude in the mind of Mr. Fox, if he thought that he had ever contracted it. He was miserable till he could requite the former zealous services of this person." Lord John Russell quotes the paragraph; but neither here nor elsewhere in the volume has he, as some at least of the Whig party could surely have wished, a word to say about, much less for, the brilliant Whig partisan, whose personality we have here ventured to italicise and identify, not without something of reluctance and regret.
Leaving politics and personal differences, let us now turn to Mr. Fox at St. Anne's Hill, letter-writing and letters-loving. Always with a glad and eager heart he turned his steps thitherward,
* March 27.
July 6, 1805.
† Lord Grenville to Marquis of Buckingham, Jan. 5, 1804. ||August 12, 1803.
§ July 7.
And shook to all the liberal air
O joy to him in this retreat,
To drink the cooler air, and mark,
O sound to rout the brood of cares,
The sweep of scythe in morning dew,
that garden which grew the flowers he used to boast of to Lord Sidmouth -his geraniums especially, to the subject of which he could always return, as Mr. Plumer Ward says,† with soothed interest, amidst the most violent storms of party rage.
"Here I am perfectly happy," he writes to Lord Holland in 1794. "Idleness, fine weather, Ariosto, a little Spanish, and the constant company of a person whom I love, I think, more and more every day and every hour, make me as happy as I am capable of being, and much more so than I could hope to be if politics took a different turn." In 1795: "Indeed you are right, for I believe if ever there was a place that might be called the seat of true happiness, St. Ann's is that place." And again, in a letter defending the principle and practice of his secession from parliament: "I am perfectly happy in the country. I have quite resources enough to employ my mind; and the great resource of all, literature, I am fonder of every day; and then the Lady of the Hill is one continual source of happiness. I believe few men, indeed, ever were so happy in that respect as I." In this retreat Fox has been described as spending his days "like a philosopher;" rising, in summer, between six and seven; in winter, before eight; breakfasting about nine; after which he usually read some Italian author with Mrs. Fox, and spent the interval till dinner in studying the Greek classics; dined between two and three in summer, and about four in the winter months; then, with a "refresher" in the form of wine and coffee, read aloud again, or wrote, till near ten at night. A light supper ensued, and thereupon-to bed, to bed, to bed. He systematically "kept up" his acquaintance with the classics-not after the stinted fashion of those who "keep up" their Greek by reading a chapter of the Greek Testament daily-but with the same cordial care and energy of good will which he cherished towards any other old friend. Moreover, for the sake of those old friends Latin and Greek, with whom early study had made him acquainted, and out of respect to such established cronies as Homer and Virgil, he desired, now that he had leisure, to form new acquaintances among the ranks of their less illustrious con
Tennyson: In Memoriam.
"He had never been more furious than one day in haranguing in Palaceyard, on what was called the gagging bills. Half an hour afterwards he came to the house, reeking from the mob, and went up to the speaker, who expected some violent motion, to tell him how sorry he was that his geraniums (some cuttings of which he had promised him) had been blighted at St. Anne's-hill."-("Tremaine." Ch. 27, note.)
temporaries or successors. We find him writing to Gilbert Wakefield: “If ̊. . . . you would advise me, in regard to the Greek poets in general (of the second and third order, I mean), which are best worth reading, and in what editions, you would do me a great service. . . . . I wish to read some more, if not all of the Greek poets, before I begin with those Latin ones that you recommend; especially as I take for granted that V. Flaccus (one of them) is, in some degree, an imitator of Apollonius Rhodius. Of him or Silius Italicus I never read any; and of Statius but little. Indeed, as during the greater part of my life the reading of the classics had been only an amusement and not a study, I know but little of them beyond the works of those who are generally placed in the first rank; to which I have always more or less attended, and with which I have always been as well acquainted as most idle men, if not better. My practice has generally been multum potius quam multos legere. Of late years, it is true that I have read with more critical attention, and made it more of a study; but my attention has been chiefly directed to the Greek language and its writers, so that in the Latin I have a great deal still to read; and I find it a pleasure which grows upon me every day." Even from his boyhood's days, however, Charles had shown a tolerably expansive taste in literature-threatening now and then to grow into absolute omnivoracity. At sixteen, for instance, we hear of him "studying very hard at Oxford," together with his college chum Dickson, afterwards Bishop of Down,-their relaxation consisting in reading together "all the early dramatic poets of England." For this purpose the youngsters spent their evenings in the bookseller's shop; "and I think I have heard Mr. Fox say," his nephew remarks, "that there was no play extant, written and published before the Restoration, that he had not read attentively." Italian was by far his favourite among foreign languages. At eighteen he was already an enthusiast in the study of it. In 1767 he bids Fitzpatrick "for God's sake learn Italian as fast as you can, if it be only to read Ariosto. There is more good poetry in Italian than in all other languages that I understand put together. In prose, too, it is a very fine language. Make haste and read all these things, that you may be fit to talk to Christians." It was in accordance with this taste that he so much preferred Spenser to Milton. As may be supposed, he was a pronounced admirer of Racine, and impatient of what he accounted the twaddle of Racine's detractors. Thus, in 1804, he writes in allusion to Godwin's Life of Chaucer: "I observe that he takes an opportunity of showing his stupidity in not admiring Racine. It puts me quite in a passion, je veux contre eux faire un jour un gros livre, as Voltaire says. Even Dryden, who speaks with proper respect of Corneille and Molière, vilipends Racine. If ever I publish my edition of his works, I will give it him for it you may depend." But Charles never did one day make one big book ("as Voltaire says") against the depreciators of France's glorieux Jean. Nor did he ever publish his edition of the works of England's Glorious John. He contented himself with reading their works aloud to his friends, and, if Mr. Rogers, a tolerable judge in such a cause, be a trustworthy witness, increasing the admiration of his hearers for the authors thus recited, by the emphasis and discretion of his manner of reading them:
Thee at St. Anne's so soon of Care beguiled,
Thee, who wouldst watch a bird's nest on the spray,
I saw the sun go down!-Ah, then 'twas thine
Shakspeare's or Dryden's-through the chequered shade
And where we sate (and many a halt we made)
To read there with a fervour all thy own,
And in thy grand and melancholy tone,
Some splendid passage not to thee unknown,
With his years grew his appetite for the ancients, and for such of the
before; I am clear it is the best of all the Greek tragedies upon the whole, though the choruses are not so poetical as in some others." "Hooke's Roman History, which I am reading to Mrs. A., has led me lately to neglect my Greek and read nothing but Cicero, whom I admire (I do not mean his conduct upon all occasions) more than ever; one cannot read him too much." "I have not finished the first book of Apollonius; some of it is very fine, some very prosaic, a dreadful fault with me; and there seems to be a general want of that spirit and enthusiasm which I rank so high among the beauties of poetry; but I cannot yet judge, perhaps, quite fairly. Pray read the eighteen or twenty lines from V. 540 or thereabouts,"-describing the departure of the ship Argo from the Pagasaan Gulf,-"they are grand as well as beautiful, and should, I think, exempt him from the charge [character?] of equality and mediocrity given him by Quintilian and Longinus."
In 1800, still to his nephew, the noble Young One, and now travelled thane: "I am very glad you are reading Euripides, but I had rather you had begun almost any other play than the Hippolytus. The plot I think vile. . . . In short, of all Euripides' plays, I think it the one the most below its reputation. . . . . The Cyclops, in a style of its own, is very well worth reading. It is so Shakesperic. The worst of all, I think, is Andromache." "I have read but little of Apollonius since I wrote last, my opinion continues the same. He is a good poet, certainly, but, like Tasso, someway he does not get hold of me right. However, there are passages both in Tasso and him, that are great exceptions to this. Pray read in the first book, Telamon's and Jason's quarrel and reconciliation. . . . . It is capital, and not, I think, taken from any former poet. I have not yet perceived that Virgil has taken much from him. . . . . If Jason's adventure at Lemnos is the prototype of Æneas at Carthage, and Dido is taken from Hypsipyle, it is indeed a silk purse out of a sow's ear." "I am very glad you grow to find Greek so easy, and I think if you get deep into Euripides you will grow to like as I do his very faults. . . . I suppose Evander's [Æneid, VIII.] relating his having had Hercules for his guest, and sending his son with Eneas, is taken from Lycus, in Apollonius, but it is so superior that Apollonius looks quite like the imitation. I admire Virgil more than ever, for his power of giving originality to his most exact imitations." "I have been reading Lycophron, and have been very much pleased, partly with him and partly with the innumerable stories which his scholiast Tzetzes gives for the purpose of explaining him." "I do not wonder you like the Odyssey better than ever; it is the most charming reading of all. . . . . It is all delightful, and there is such variety, which I am afraid the Iliad cannot boast of." A pretty entire recantation, this, from Uncle Charles's profession of faith (previously quoted) in 1795. A long letter filled with minutiae of verbal criticism, which exemplifies the care and attention with which Mr. Fox studied his author, line upon line, and one winged word after another, closes with the avowal: "Well, here is Homer criticism enough; but it is a subject upon which I never tire." Another long letter, in 1801, is occupied throughout with information, or conjecture, as the case may be, about the authorship of Aristides the Sophist, Aboulfeda, the dates of the Exodus and of the Trojan war and its blind old bard—the Pyramids, the library at Alexandria, and