« PreviousContinue »
of honour, which have rendered your life confpicuous enough to make you appear a worthy defcendant of an ancient and distinguished family, which has ferved the Crown in the most eminent ftations, and been equally favourites of their country; it was there you imbibed those im preffions which inspire that true use of your being, which fo juftly divides your time between labour and diverfion, that the one does but recreate for the other, and which give a generous contempt of both when in competition with the service of that country which you love, and that God whom you worship.
Go on, my Lord, thus to contemn, and thus to enjoy life; and, if fome great English day does not call for that facrifice which you are always ready to offer, may you in a mature age go to fleep with your ancestors, in expectation, not of an imaginary fame, but a real and fenfible immortality.
As for the present I now make you, if you will accept it with your ufual goodness and affection to me, I fhall entertain no farther hopes; for as your favour is my fortune*, fo your ap probation is my fame. I am, my Lord, your Lordship's most obedient, moft faithful, and most humble fervant, RICHARD STEELE.
* Steele, who was at this time an enfign in the Guards, and principal fecretary to Lord Cutts, obtained, by the intereft of his kind patron, a captain's commiffion in the Lord Lucas's regiment of fufileers.
To the Right Hon, the Countess of ALBEMARLE 1.
. MONG the many novelties with which your Ladyfhip, a ftranger in our nation, is daily entertained, you have not yet been made acquainted with the poetical English liberty, the right of dedication; which entitles us to a privilege of celebrating whatever, for its native excellence, is the juft object of praise; and is an ancient charter, by which the Mufes have always a free accefs to the habitation of the Graces. Hence it is that this comedy waits on your Ladyfhip, and prefumes to welcome you amongft us; though indeed, Madam, we are furprized to fee you bring with you, what we thought was of our own growth only, an agreeable beauty; nay, we must afsure you, that we cannot give up
+ Prefixed to " The Funeral, or Grief à-la-mode, a Comedy, 1702." The fuccefs of this performance was chiefly owing to the zeal of his fellow-foldiers, arifing from his intereft in the army.
‡ Isabella, 2d daughter of s'Gravemore, the general of the forces to the States-General, whom Steele calls "Mr. Scravenmore;" but who in Collins's Peerage is termed "S. Gravemore ;" probably for "s'Gravemore." She was married, a fhort time before this epistle was written, to the first Earl of Albemarle, with whom Steele was connected in his military capacity, as colonel of the first troop of horfe-guards; and it was probably through his Lordship's recommendation of this comedy that Steele attained the notice and favour of King William. Our author's name, &c. to be provided for, were in the laft table-book ever worn by that glorious and immortal Monarch. Apology, p. 297.
fo dear an article of our glory, but affert it by our right in you: for if it is a maxim founded on the nobleft human law, that of hofpitality, that every foil is a brave man's country, England has a very juft pretence of claiming as a native, a daughter of Mr. Scravenmore.
But your Ladyfhip is not only endeared to us by the great fervices of your father, but alfo by the kind offices of your husband, whose frank carriage falls in with our genius, which is free, open, and unreserved; in this the generofity of your tempers makes you both excel in fo peculiar a manner, that your good actions are their own reward; nor can they be returned with ingratitude, for none can forget the benefits you confer fo foon as you do yourselves.
But ye have a more indifputable title to a dramatic performance than all these advantages; for ye are yourselves, in a degenerate low age, the nobleft characters which that fine paffion that supports the stage has inspired; and as you have practifed as generous a fidelity as the fancies of poets have ever drawn in their expecting lovers, fo may you enjoy as high a prosperity as ever they have bestowed on their rewarded: this you may poffefs in an happy fecurity, for your fortunes cannot move fo much envy, as your perfons do love. I am, Madam, your Ladyfhip's moft devoted humble fervant,
To his Grace the Duke of ORMOND +.
UT of gratitude to the memorable and illuftrious patron of my infancy, your Grace's grandfather, I prefume to lay this Comedy
* Prefixed to "The Lying Lover, or the Ladies Friendship, "a Comedy, 1704."
James Butler, Duke of Ormond, born April 29, 1665, was fent to France at ten years of age, and on his return admitted of Chrift-church, Oxford, of which univerfity he was afterward chancellor; fucceeded to his grandfather's titles, July 21, 1688; in 1689, was made a gentleman of the bed-chamber, captain of the fecond troop of guards, and knight of the garter; in 1702, generaliffimo of the forces against Spain; ford-lieutenant of Ireland, Feb. 4, 1702-3; and again, O&. 19, 1710; captain-general, Jan. 1, 1711-12, and had the first regiment of guards; was lord warden of the cinque ports, and conftable of Dover castle. (Burnet obferves, "he had the fame appointments which were "voted criminal in the Duke of Marlborough.") On the arrival of King George I. at Greenwich, the Duke of Ormond came, with uncommon fplendour, to pay his court; but was told by the Lord Townshend, "the King had no longer occafion for his ser"vice in the quality of captain-general; but that his Majesty "would be glad to see him at Court." Withdrawing into France, he was attainted Aug. 20, 1715; and died, Nov. 16, N. S. 1745, Madrid, in the 81ft of his age. year
Steele's father, a counsellor at law, was fome time private fecretary to James, the first Duke of Ormond. From the turn of expreffion in the beginning of this letter, it feems not improbable, that Mr. Steele fent his fon to the Charter-house-school by the direction of the Duke of Ormond abovementioned, who was one of the governors of that hospital, and who probably, if he had lived long enough, might have been very serviceable to the son of his fecretary; who "cocked his hat," however, " and put on a "broad.
Comedy at your feet: the defign of it is, to ba nish out of converfation all entertainment which does not proceed from fimplicity of mind, goodnature, friendship, and honour: fuch a purpose will not, I hope, be unacceptable to fo great a lover of mankind as your Grace; and if your patronage can recommend it to all who love and honour the Duke of Ormond, its reception will be as extenfive as the world itself.
It was the irresistible force of this humanity in your temper that has carried you through the various fucceffes of war, with the peculiar and undisputed distinction, that you have drawn your fword without other motive than a paffionate regard for the glory of your country: fince, before you entered into its fervice, you were poffeffed of its highest honours, but could not be contented with the illuftrious rank your birth gave you, without repeating the glorious actions by which it was acquired.
But there cannot be lefs expected from the fon of an Offory, than to contemn life to adorn it; and with munificence, affability, fcorn of
"broad fword, jack-boots, and shoulder-belt, under the Duke's "command," before he was acquainted with his own parts;" and, "from the fame humour which he ever after preserved, of preferring the flate of his mind to that of his fortune, lost the "fucceffion to a very good eftate in the county of Wexford, by "mounting a war-horfe with a great fword in his hand, and "planting himself behind King William against Lewis XIV." See his Theatre, No XI.