« PreviousContinue »
the floor of his chamber; his face actions, and breathes the same dem so much convulsed that his speech votion, humility, charity, friendwas almost 'iparticulate; a stupor ship, and candour, that had adorn. hung on his senses, and one side ed each period. One particularity was dead. At times he seemed to of his last testament is too memore disregard what was passing around able not to be singled from the rest him; at others be knew those pre- of his legacies. One of them is to sent, and recommended bimself to Dr. Conyers Middletou, whose priotheir prayers for an easy death; ex- ciples in church and state were not pressing perfect resignation, as he only very different from those of perceived, he said, that his time Mr. Baker, but the doctor himself was come, and thanking his friends had lost the friendship of their comfor their kind offices. In this easy mon patron, the earl of Oxford, by state of transition he lasted till the being converted from the narrow following Wednesday; and being and bigoted creed of those wbo ado almost incapable of swallowing, he hered to the monkish notions of royal took little nourishment and less of and ecclesiastic despotism, and who medicine, accepting with queasi- did not, like Mr. Baker, allow any ness any assistance, but to change toleration, nor forgive Middletou bis linen, as he deemed all remedy for seeing with his own eyes. Mr. impossible, and, but a delay of his Baker certainly intended no reproach departure; so that his friends for- to a sect, which he never quitted ; bore to disturb bim more than was but the candour of his conduct is requisite to mark that there was no the severest censure on every party neglect.
that is intolerant. They alone who « This was the end he had often abhor toleration deserve little. They wisbed, preceded by a sbort illness, are enemies to the freedom of reli. and accompanied by little or no gion, over which God alone can pain. He was interred in the anti- have any right of empire. Mr. Bachapel of St. John's college with ker lived and died in cbarity with every sincere mark of respect and all maukind, and was perhaps the cereinony from the society, and an sole instance of a man who be. oration in his praise was pronounc- queathed his worldly goods to a 80ed over his grave by one of the fel, ciety that ejected him, and to the lows.
ninisters of a church in which he “ The last act of his life, his will, bad lost preferment." was consonant to the series of bis
PERSON, DISPOSITION, MANNERS, &c. of Sir ROBERT WAL POLL.
[From the first Volume of Mr. Coxe's MEMOIRS of the Life and AD
MINISTRATION of Sir ROBERT WALPOLE, Earl of Orford.)
« CIR Robert Walpole was tall called the handsome couple, and
and well-proportioned, and among the knights who walked ia in his youth an opening manbood procession at the installation of the So comely, that at the time of his garter, in 1725, he was, next to the marriage he and his wife were duke of Grafton and lord Towns.
bend, hend, most distinguished for bis conduct. Of this disposition, his appearance. As he advanced in generous rival, Pulteney thought years he became extremely corpu, so bigbly, that, in a conversation lent and unwieldy. His counte- with Johuson, he said, “Sir Robert nance does not seem to have been was of a temper so calm and equal, remarkable for strong traits. Tbe' and so hard to be provoked, ibat features were regular; when he • he was very sure he never felt the spoke, and particularly when he • bitterest invectives against him for smiled, his physiognomy was please half an hour.' ing, benign, and enlighteued : bis “ His deportment was manly and eye was full of spirit and fire, and decisive, yet affable and conde his brow prominent and manly. scending ; he was easy of access;
“ His style of dress was usually his manuer of bestowing a favour plain and simple ; a circunstance beightened the obligation; and his which was not overlooked by the manner of declining was so gracious Craftsman, who thus holds him up that few persons went out of his to ridicule: • There entered a man company uiscontented. dressed in a plain habit, with a purse “ Amoug those parts of his conof gold in his band. He threw vivial character which have attracthimself forward into the room in a ed attention, his laugb is noticed bluff rufianly manner, a smile, or for singular gaiety and beariiness.
rather a sneer upon his counte- His son familiarly observed to me, 'nance. His address was so trank • It would have done you good to and open, his conversation so pleas. ' bear him laugh.' Sir Charles Haning, and bis manner so fascinating, bury Williams says of him, that he that those who lived with bim in • laughed the heart's laugh.' Ni. habits of intimacy adored him, those cholas Hardinge elegantly noticed who saw him occasionally loved its peculiarity, proprioque vincit sca bim, and even his most bitter op- ria risu. ponents could not hate him. One “His conversation was sprightly. of these did not hesitate to say of animated, and facetious, yet ocide him, “Never was a man in private sionally coarse and vulgar, and too + life more beloved; and hisenemies often licentious to an unpardonable • allow no man did ever in private degree. ! life deserve it more. He was hu- « In company with women he
mane and grateful, and a generous assumed an air of gallantry, which • friend to all who he did not think evenin his younger days was iile
would abuse that friendship. This suited to his manner and charolat, + character naturally procured that but in his latter years was totally • attachment to his person, which incompatible with his age and in · has been falselyattributed solely to gure. He affected in his conver. a corrupt influence and to private sation with the sex a triflitig levity ;
interest; but this shewed itself at a but bis gaiety was rough and love time when these principles were sterous ; bis wit too oilta coarse very faiat in their operation, and and licentious. wben bis ruin seemed inevitable.' “ If we may believe lord Ches.
« Good temper and equanimity terfield, who knew hin well, but were his leading characteristics, and whose pen was dipped m gall when the placability imprinted on his he drew his character, this free countenance was not belied by his 'vailing weakness was to be thout
' to have a polite and happy turn to The political axiom generally attri* gallantry, of which he had un- buted to him, that all men bave « doubtedly less than any man, liv- their price, and which has been so « ing; it was his favourite and fre- often repeated in verse and prose; ' quent subject of conversation ; was perverted by leaving out the ! which proved, to those wbo bad word those. Flowery oratory he 6 any penetration, that it was bis despised; he ascribed to the inte• prevailing weakness, and they ap- rested views of themselves or their
plied to it with success.' Pulteney relatives, the declarations of prealso said of him, • A writer who tended patriots, of whom he said, I would tell him of his success in his • All those men bave their price,' • amours, would gain his confidence and, in the event, many of them • in a higher degree than one who justified his observation. No man
commended the conduct of his ad- was more ready to honour and do • ministration.' To this foible also a justice to sincerity and consistency. poetaster, after speaking of him He always mentioned bis friend the under the name of sir Robert Brass, duke of Devonshire in terms of tbe alludes :
highest affection and respect, aod • Nay, to divert the sneering town,
even applauded the uniform conIs next a general lover grow 11,
duct of one of bis constant oppo. Affects to talk of his amours,
nents. I will not say,' he observAnd boasts of having ruin'd scores,
ed, who is corrupt, but I will say While all who hear him bite the lip, And scarce with pain their laughter
who is not, and that is Soppen.' keep.'
" His own conduct sufficiently
belied the axiom erroneously in“ This foible he shared in common with many able men, and par.
puted to bim. He was consistent ticularly with cardinal Richelieu,
ar and uniform, never deviating in
one single instance from bis attachwho piqued himself more on being ment to the protestant succession. a man of gallaộtry than on being a He was peither awed by menaces great minister. It is some conso
or swayed by corruption; he beld lation for "persons of inferior abili
one line of conduct with unabating ties, that men of superior talents
perseverance, and terminated his are not exempt from the infirmities of human nature, and it is no un
ities political career with the same sencommon circumstance, to prefer
" timents of loyalty which distin
guished his outset. fattery on those points in which ,
“ He was naturally liberal, and we wish to excel, to just praise for those in which we are known to Houghton were more magnificent
even prodigal. His buildings at excel, “ He is justly blamed for a want
than suited bis circumstances, and
I drew on bim great obloquy. He of political decorum, and for de- felt the impropriety of this expenog puosc spirit, to which pope diture, and on seeing his brother's alludes:
house at Wolterton, expressed bis • Would he oblige me, let me only find, wishes that he had contented himHe does not think me what he thinks self with a similar structure. The
following anecdote also shews that “ Altbough it is not possible to be regretted his profusion : sitting justify him, yet this part of his con- by Sir John Hynde Cotton, during duct has been greatly exaggerated, the reign of queen Anne, and in
allusion to a sumptuous house which meetings was too frequently carried was then building by Harley; he to excess, and lord Townshend, observed, that to construct a great whose dignity of deportment and house was a high act of imprudence decorum of character revolted a. in any minister. Afterwards, when gainst these scenes, which he called be had pulled down the family the Bacchanalian orgies of Hough. mansion at Houghton, and raised a ton, not unfrequently quitted Rainmagnificent edifice, being reminded ham during their continuance. But of that observation by sir John potwithstanding these censures, and Hynde Cotton, he readily acknow. the impropriety of such conduct, it ledged its justness and truth, but undoubtedly gained and preserved added, “ Your recollection, is too to the minister vumerous adherents, • late, I wish you had reminded me who applauded a mode of living so
of it before I began building, it analogous to the spirit of ancient "might then have been of service hospitality. to me.'
“ This profusion would bave “ His style of living was conso- been highly disgraceful had it been Dant to the magnificence of his attended with a rapacious dispomansion. He had usually two an- sition. On the contrary, he gave nual meetings at Houghton; the many instances of carelessness and one in the spring, to which were disregard of his private fortune. invited only the most select friends He expended 14,0001. in building and the leading members of the a new lodge in Richmond park; cabinet, continued about three and when the king, on the death of weeks. The second was in autumn, Bothmar, in 1738, offered him the towards the cominencement of the house in Downing-street, he refused shooting season. It continued six it as bis own property, but accepted weeks or two months, and was it as an appendage to the office of called the congress. At this time chancellor of the exchequer. Houghton was filled with company “ He was, from his early youth, from all parts. He kept a pub- fond of the diversions of the field, lic table, to which all gentlemen and retained this taste till prevented in the county found a ready ad. by the infirmities of age. He was mission.
accustoined to hunt ia Richmond " The expences of these meet- park with a pack of beagles. Ou ings have been computed at 30001. receiving a packet of letters he usu. Nothing could be more ill-judged ally opened that from his game. tban the enormous profusion, ex-keeper first ; and he was fond of cept the company for which it was sitting for his picture in his sportmade. The mixed multitude con- ing dress. He was, like chancellor sisted of his friends in both houses, Oxenstiern, a sound sleeper, and and of their friends. The noise and used to say, that he put off bis uproar, the waste and confusion, cares with his clothes.' were prodigious. The best friends “ His social qualities were gene. of sir Robert Walpole in vain re- rally acknowledged. He was ani. monstrated against this scene of nated and lively in conversation. riot and misrule. As the minister and in the moment of festivity reahimself was fond of mirth and lised the fiue eulogium which Pope jollity, the conviviality of their has given of him."
* Seen • Seen him, I have, but in his happier Past by, like Niobe, (her children gone) hour
Sits mother Osborne, stupify'd to stone! Of social pleasure, ill-exchang'd for And monumental brass this record bears, power;
These are, ah, no, these were the Seen, him uncumber'd with the renal
gazetteers ! tribe, Smile without art, and win without a " But that he did not wholly nego bribe. • Epilogue to the Satipes.
lect literary merit, appears from
: the grateful strains of the author of “ To the virtues of sir Robert
the Night Thoughts, for wbom be Walpole I feel regret in not being
procured a pension from George able to add that he was the patron
the first, and wbich was increased of letters and the friend of science.
at his suggestion by George the But he unquestionably does not de
second, to 2001. a year, at that time serve that honourable appellation,
no inconsiderable reward. and in this instance his rank in the
• At this the muse shall kindle, and temple of fame is far inferior to that
aspire : of Halifax, Oxford, and Boling. My breast, o Walpole, glows with gratebroke. It is a matter of wonder,
ful fire; that a minister who had received a
The streams of royal bounty, turn'd by
thee, learned education, and was no in
Refresh the dry remains of poesy. different scholar, should have paid My fortune shews, when arts are Walsucb little attention to the muses. pole's care, Nor can it be denied, that this neg
What slender worth forbids us to despair :
Be this thy partial smile from ceasure lect of men of letters was bighly
free ; disadvantageous to his admini- 'Twas meant for merit, though it fel stration, and exposed him to great on me.' obloquy. The persons employed in justifying his measures, and re
. “ The truth is, sir Robert Walpole pelling the attacks of the oppo- did not delight in letters, and always sition, were by no means equal to considered poets as not men of the task of combating Pulteney, business. He was often heard to Bolingbroke, and Chesterfield, those say, that they were fitter for specu. Goliahs of opposition :, and the po- lation than for action, that they litical pamphlets written in his de- trusted to theory rather than to exfence, are far inferior in humour. perience, and were guided by prinargument, and style, to the public ciples inadmissible in practical life. cations of his adversaries.
His opinion was confirmed by the " Pope has ably satirised the experience of his own time. Prior herd of political writers emploved made but an indifferent negotiator; by the minister, first in the epilogue
e epilogue his friend Steele was wholly incato the Satires, and in the Dunciad. pable of application, and Addison
a miserable secretary of state. He • Next plung'd a feeble, but a desperate was so fully impressed with these
pack, With each a sickly brother at his back :
notions, that when he made CopSons of a day ! just buoyant on the flood, greve.co
greve commissioner of the customs, These number'd with the puppies in the he said, 'You will find he has 10 mud,
• head for business. Ask ye their names? I could as soon 56 Low persons were employed
disclose The names of these blind puppies as of by government, and profusely paid, those.
some of whom not unfrequently pro