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and I hope your grace will be as good as your word, and let my son-in-law succeed him '' “The duke, by this time perfectly awake, was staggered at the impossibility of receiving intelligence from Madrid in so short a space of time, and perplexed at the absurdity of a king's messenger applying for his son-in-law to succeed the king of Spain. “Is the man drunk or mad 2 where are your dispatches o' vociferated his grace, hastily drawing aside the curtains of the bed; when instead of a royal courier, he recognized the fat, good-humoured countenance of his friend from Cornwall, making low bows, with hat in hand, and “hoping my lord would not forget the gracious promise he was so good as to make in favor of my son-in-law at the late election.’ “Vexed at so untimely an interruption, and disappointed of his important dispatches from Spain, the duke frowned for a few seconds, but chagrin soon gave way to mirth at so singular and ridiculous a combination of apposite circumstances, and he sunk on the bed in a violent fit of laughter, to the entire discomfiture and confusion of the pliant and obsequious farmer, who very probably began to conjecture that lords and dukes were not in the habit of testifying that profound respect at the sight of their friends which he thought consistent with their nobility of deportment. However though his grace could not manage to place the son of his old acqaintance on the throne of his catholic majesty the king of Spain, he advanced him to a post which some persons might consider not less honorable—he made him an exciseman."
Of Charles Sackville, carl of Dorset, the most accomplished gentleman in the voluptuous court of Charles the second, we have the
following representation:— “Although lord Dorset is rather, as Pope has remarked, a holiday writer, a gentleman who diverted himself now and then with poetry, than a real poet, he was undoubtedly possessed of talents of no ordinary description; and as a patron of poets and a lively wit, his name will always be associated with those of the eminent men with whom he mixed, and by whom he has been so frequently panegyrized. Prior, Dryden, Congreve, Addison, and a host of the minor so of the age in which he lived, ave written vehemently in his praise. The eulogium of the former has been justly admired, as a masterpiece in this style of composition. He says of the earl, the “brightness of his parts, the solidity of his judgment, and the candor and generosity of his temper, distinguished him in an age of great politeness, and at a court abounding with men of the finest sense and learning. The most eminent masters, in their several callings, appealed to his determination: Waller thought it an honor to consult him on the softness and harmony of his verse; and Dr. Sprat, on the delicacy and turn of his prose. Dryden determines by him, under the character of Eugenius, as to the laws of dramatic poetry; Butler owed it to him that the court tasted his ‘Hudibras;’ Wycherly, that the town liked his ‘Plain Dealer;' and the late duke of Buckingham deferred to publish his ‘Rehearsal' till he was sure, as as he expressed it, “that my lord Dorset would not rehearse upon him again.” If we wanted foreign testimony, La Fontaine and St. Evremond have acknowledged that he was a perfect master of the beauty and fineness of their language, and of all they call “les belles lettres.' Nor was this nicety of judgment confined only to books and literature; he was the same in statuary, painting, and other parts of art. Bernini would have taken his opinion upon the beauty and attitude of a figure; and king Charles did not agree with Lely, that “my lady Cleveland's picture was finished, till it had the approbation of my lord Dorset.” Several anecdotes of sir Robert Walpole are collected from various SOurces : — “When Walpole quarrelled with lord Sunderland, he went over to the opposition, and on the debate upon the capital clause in the mutiny bill, he made use of this strong expression, “Whoever gives the power of blood, gives blood.” The question being carried in favor of the ministry by a small majority, sir Robert said after the division, “Faith, I was afraid that we had got the question;' his good sense (observes Mr. Seward, from whom this anecdote is quoted) perfectly enabling him to see that armies could not be kept in order without strict discipline, and the power of life and death. “Walpole had always very exact intelligence of all that was pas
sing at the court of the pretender. When alderman Barber visited the minister after his return from Rome, he asked him how his old friend, the pretender, did. The alderman was much surprised; sir R. then related some minute particulars of a conversation which had taken place between them. “Well then, Jack,' said sir Robert, ‘go, and sin no more, lest a worse thing befal thee.’” “In a squabble between Mr. Pulteney and sir R. Walpole, in the house of commons, the former playfully told his antagonist that his Latin was not so good as his politics. Pulteney insisted that Walpole had misquoted a line from Horace, which he was not disposed to admit. A wager of a guinea was immediately staked on the question by each party, and Harding, the clerk of the house, was applied to as arbiter, who rose with ludicrous solemnity, and gave it against his patron. The guinea was thrown across the house, which Pulteney took up, saying it was the first public money he had touched for a long time.—He had formerly been in office. At his death this guinea was discovered, carefully preserved in a piece of paper, with a memorandum upon it, recording the circumstance.t e “Walpole was accustomed to say, when speaking of corruption, ‘We ministers are generally called, and are sometimes, tempters, but we are oftener tempted.' “As a proof of Walpole's profuse liberality to those who advo
* Swift, in that spirit of falsehood and malignity in which he is alone consistent, tells us, “that Dorset had small learning or none, and that he was a dull companion'!!! He continues, in his usual way, “he is the most universal villain I ever knew.”
† See Mr. Nichol's valuable Anecdotes.
cated cated his cause, we may instance the following anecdote. About 1735, some severe pamphlets were published against his administration. a poem entitled, “Are these things so?” A young gentleman of nineteen years of age took it into his head to write an answer to this piece, to which he gave the title of “Yes, they are.” Sir Robert was so pleased with it, although but an insignificant performance, that he sent for Roberts the publisher, and expressed his great satisfaction at the compliment paid him, by giving a bank note of a hundred pounds, which he desired him to present to the author. “Walpole was easily alarmed by any attack upon his character or administration from the press, in a poem or pamphlet. His expedient on such occasions was to get a friend to invite the author to dine at a tavern, or at his friend's house, and he himself made one of the party, as if by the merest accident in the world. Such meetings usually ended in the total conversion of the patriotic author, by the powerful and irresistible eloquence of a bank note. “Sir Robert Walpole was somewhat prodigal in his expences. His buildings at Houghton were more splendid than well suited his circumstances, and this was the occasion of inducing for him a great deal of calumny from his enemies. He seems sometimes to have been sensible "of the impropriety of his conduct in this particular. Sir John Hynde Cottom once remarked to him that it was an act of imprudence in a minister to construct a great
Among others was
house. When he had pulled down the family ball at Houghton, and raised a magnificent edifice on its site, being reminded of this observation by sir John, he readily admitted the justice of it, but added, “Your recollection is too late; I wish you had told me of it before I began building, it might then have been of service
to me.” Respecting Addison we read:— “Of his disgust at every thing like flattery or obsequiousness we have a striking example in the following anecdote:—Mr. Temple Stanyan, who had long lived with Addison in habits of friendship, conversing on all subjects with perfect freedom, borrowed of him, under some pressing emergency, a sum of money. From this time Mr. Stanyan altered completely his tone of conversation towards Addison. He agreed implicitly to all that his patron advanced, and never, as formerly, disputed his positions. This extraordinary change in his behaviour did not long escape the notice of so acute an observer, to whom it was by no means as agreeable as it was expected it would be. It happened on one occasion that a subject was started on which they had been a short time before entirely at issue. Mr. Stanyan, instead of contending the point, yielded silently and with the utmost deference to the opinion of Addison, who was displeased, and vented his disapprobation of his companion's insincerity by saying, with a good deal of impatience, ‘Sir, either contradict me or pay me my money.' “An anecdote is related of Addison and Swift, which is worth recording for its singularity. At a a tête à tête conversation between them, the various characters mentioned in the sacred writings happened to form the subject of their discussion. Swift's favorite was Jonathan, while that of Addison was Joseph. The dispute lasted some time, when the author of Cato observed that it was very fortunate they were alone, as the characters which they had been praising so warmly were their namesakes, and they would consequently, had others been present, have subjected themselves to the imputation of undue and fanciful partiality. “The moral character of Addison, whether it be drawn from his life or writings, will be found to be equally irreproachable. ‘Knowledge of mankind,' observes Dr. Johnson, “less extensive than that of Addison, will shew that to write and to live are very different. Many who praise virtue, do no more than praise it. Yet it is reasonable to believe that Addison's professions and practice were at no great variance; since, amid that storm of faction in which most of his life was passed, though his station made him conspicuous and his activity made him formidable, the character given him by his friends was never contradicted by his enemies: of those with whom interest or opinion united him, he had not only the esteem, but the kindness; and of others, whom the violence of opposition drove against him, though he might lose the love, he retained the reverence. He employed wit on the side of virtue and religion. He not only made a proper use of wit himself, but taught it to others; and from his time it has been generally sub
servient to the cause of reason and of truth. He has dissipated the prejudice that long connected gaiety with vice, and easiness of manners with laxity of principle. He has restored virtue to its dignity, and taught innocence not to be ashamed. This is an elevation of literary character ‘above all Greek, above all Roman fame.’ No greater felicity can genius attain than that of having purified intellectual pleasure, separated mirth from indecency, and wit from licentiousness; of having taught a succession of writers to bring elegance and gaiety to the aid of goodness, and, if I may use expressions yet more awful, of having ‘turned many to righteousmess.’” The celebrated name of Jacob Tomson, the bookseller, deserves a quotation or two:“ It would appear that when Dryden neglected his stipulated labors, Tonson possessed powers of animadversion, which were not the less dreaded by the poet, for not being extremely poetical in their tone and character. Lord Bolingbroke, already a votary of the muses, and admitted to visit their high-priest, was wont to relate, that one day he heard another person enter the house. ‘This,' said Dryden, “is Tonson; you will take care not to depart before he goes away, for I have not completed the sheet which I promised him; and if you leave me unprotected, I shall suffer all the rudeness to which his resentment can prompt his tongue.’ “Some of the letters given in the last volume of sir Walter Scott's edition of Dryden's works, are abundantly curious. In one of them
them he says to Tonson:— I have done the seventh AEneid; and when I have done that I shall go upon the eighth; when that is finished, I expect fifty pounds in good silver; not such as I have had formerly. I am not obliged to take gold, neither will I;” nor stay for it longer than twenty-four hours after it is due." In another letter, after commenting upon Tonson's refusal to make him any allowance for the notes to Virgil, he goes on to say: “Upon trial, I find all of your trade are sharpers, and you not more than others; therefore I have not wholly left you. “It appears from several passages in Dryden's correspondence besides the extracts above quoted, that Tonson was in the habit of giving him bad silver at almost every payment he made him. Thus the poet on another occasion writes, “if you have any silver which will go, my wife will be glad of it. I lost thirty shillings or more by the last payment of fifty pounds which you made at Mr. Knight's. “There is a laughable anecdote related of Tonson and Lintott, his rival. They were both candidates for printing a work of Dr. Young's. The poet answered both letters the same morning, but, unfortumately, misdirected them. In these epistles he complained of the rascally cupidity of each. Thus he told Tonson that Lintott was so great a scoundrel, that printing with him was out of the question; and writing to the latter, decided that Tonson was an old rascal, but, &c., and then makes his election in his favour."
6.—Letters of Mary Lepel, Lady Herrey. With a Memoir, and illustrative notes. Some curious accounts of men and books since become celebrated, are scattered through this volume; a few extracts may prove entertaining :— “There are a set of papers that have come out twice a week, ever since the latter end of March, entitled the Rambler, that are all distinct essays on various subjects, and which I think extremely well written. The subjects, the manner of treating them, and the language, I think very much in the style of Mr. Melmoth, the author of sir Thomas Fitzosborne's letters, and the translator of Pliny's; but I have not heard that he is the writer of these papers, nor any guess from any body I agree, who is." Literary Anecdotes.—“May it not be reasonably concluded, that Horace and Virgil themselves submitted to, even sought for, corrections, at least verbal ones, from Maecenas, or even Augustus himself? Why not, when I know that Dr. Middleton's Cicero, which still wants so much polishing of that kind, had many low words and collegiate phrases blotted out of it by lord Hervey, that lord Bolingbroke's criticisms improved Mr. Pope's performances, and that lord Halifax did not only patronize the poets, but correct their poetry.” Paris in 1751. Fontenelle.— “Here is as great variety of company as can be imagined: coteries to suit one in every humour (except a melancholy one) that one can be in. I dine sometimes
* The current coin was at this time much debased.