« ПредишнаНапред »
and art, lay their stores at the feet of that man who contemplates them with an appropriate sensibility. : Much about this period his father died, when he came into the enjoyment of the paternal estate, which inust have administered to his peculiar gra. tifications. He now henceforward led the life of a country gentleman, and indulged himself iu those eccentricities for which he has been so distinguished. · It must, however, be mentioned to his praise, that, with all his whims, he entertained his company with a liberal hospitality. His table, on such occasions, was plenteous and the conversa-tion was generally conducted with freedom and hiJarity. His connections being large and respectable, and a curiosity being excited about his per· son and manners, these two circumstances were
the occasion of his mansion being often frequented. Guests were seldom long absent, and always handsomely entertained. His seat, named Mount Morris, is pleasantly situated near Romney Marsh, in the vicinity of Hythe, where he was known and beloved. For his eccentricities, individuals who knew him well, would make due allowance but in strangers who saw him for the first time, and were unacquainted with his history, the odd appearance of his person and the singularity of his manners, must excite curious sensations. But the interior constitutes the man, and is, therefore, that part of the human character which deserves princi. pal attention.
It was not till the year 1794 that the subject of our memoir acquired the title of LORD ROKEBY, by the death of his uncle, the Archbishop of Armagh, in Ireland. Thus he became a peer of the realm! This accession of honour produced no pernicious effect on his mind. Far from being elated on this account, he continued the same plain ho.
Dest mana character on which he justly prided himself. He knew that talents and virtue were the only just ground of estimation. All besides were mere externals, and only served to set off what was often insignificant in itself, or to raise the idle gaze of the multitude. The trappings of grandeur were, in his opinion, calculated to gratify the herd of mankind. - This venerable nobleman died at his seat in Kent, in the month of December last, in the 88th year of his age. No particulars relative to his illness and dissolution, worthy of being detailed, have transpired. His person, his manners, and the mode after which he coriducted his paternal estate, these are subjects of a legitimate curiosity. We shall touch on each of these topics, because in them all he indulged no small degree of eccen. tricity
1. With respect to the person of his lordship, he was distinguished by a long beard, which reached down almost to the middle of his body. This venerable appendage made him look like an inhabitant of the antediluvian world. We cannot ascertain the period when he first suffered it to grow, but its length proclaimed it of no recent date-for many years indeed had he been remarkable for this decoration, which rendered him an object of general curiosity. Beards were once marks of respectability, particularly among the ancients, who were no mean judges of beauty. In this article, however, the case is now reversed -and it is, at least, considered as an indubitable token of eccentricity: Why his lordship adopted it, we know not reasons for such a conduct are not easily found it bids defiance even to conjecture, and baffles our sagacity. .2. His manners and habits of life approached to a primitive simplicity-though perfectly polite, he in most things studied a dissimilarity. He spoke and acted after a mode peculiarly his own, at the same time treating those around him with frank. ness and liberality. His diet was chiefly on beef. tea-wine and spirituous liquors he held in abhors rence. Indeed, with respect to exotics of every description, he discouraged their consumption, froin an idea that our own island was, by means of its productions, competent to the support of its inhabitants, Beef, over which boiled water had been poured, and eaten off a wooden platter, was a favourite dish, by which his appetite was frequently gratified. Tea and coffee he would not touch, neither sugar, for which he substituted honey--for to sweet things he cherished a strong attachment. Of course, many stories were told of his diet, not true ; but with regard to the particu. lars already specified, the reader may rely on their authenticity. Nor should we here forget to mention that he was extremely fond of bathing, even from an early period of life, and continued the practice almost to his dying day. The frequency of his ablutions is astonishing, and he used to remain in the water a considerable length of time. His constitution' had been accustomed to it, and perhaps, at least, his health required such reiterated purifications. Physicians indeed recommend bathing to persons of almost every description; it invigorates the nervous systein, whets tlie appetite, and creates a vigour throughout the whole animal economy. To this circumstance, it is more than probable, LORD ROKEBY ascribed his great longevity. This part of the subject will receive an illustration from the following account of his lordship, which appeared in print some time ago.---A gentleman making the tour of Kent, thus speaks of his visit to Mount Morris : “ On my approach to the house, I stopped dur. ing some time to examine it. It is a good plain gentleman's seat, the grounds were abundantly stocked with black cattle, and I could perceive a horse or two on the steps of the principal entrance. After the proper enquiries, I was carried by a servant to a little grove to the right of the ave. nue, which being entered at a small swing gate, a building, with a glass covering, dipping obliquely to the south-west, presented itself, which, at first sight, appeared to be a green house. The man who accompanied me opened a little wicket, and, on looking in, I perceived a bath immedia ately under the glass, with a current of water supplied from a pond behind. On approaching a door two handsome spaniels, with long ears, and apparently of King Charles's breed, advanced, and, like faithful guardians, denied us access, until soothed into security by the well-known accents of the domestic. We then proceeded, and gently passing along a wooden floor, saw his lordship stretched on his face, at the farther end! He had just come out of the water, and was dressed in an old blue woollen coat, and pantaloons of the same colour. The upper part of his head was bald. but the hair on his chin,, which could not be concealed even by the posture he had assumed, made its appearance between his armis on each side! I immediately retired, and waited at a little distance until he awoke, when rising, he opened the dood, darted through the thicket, accompanied by his dogs, and made directly for the house.” This characteristic anecdote accords exactly with other accounts that have been communicated respecting this extraordinary nobleman, who took a pride in deviating from the usual practices of mankind.
3. The manner after which he conducted his pa.. ternal estate, forms another singular trait in the character of his lordship. We say conducted, be
cause we cannot use the term cultivated in the present connection with propriety. It was his mode to suffer every thing on his lauds to run out in all directions. The woods and parks with which his mansiou was encircled, were left to vegetate with a wild luxuriancy. Nature was not in any respect checked by art-she supported herself in ten thousand charms, and exhibited the countless forms of variety. The animals also, of every class, were left in the same state of perfect freedom, and were seen bounding through his pastures with uncom. mon spirit and energy. In some respects this ge. neral licence which he gave to the animate and inanimate objects around him, may challenge our admiration. Nature, in such a case, must undoubtedly be more unrestrained in her operations, and would, of course, stinted by no foreign causes, expand with a greater grandeur and sublimity! But, nevertheless, it must be confessed that this idea was carried by his lordship to an excess. The God of Nature has left much to be performed by the care and industry of man. We are expected to reduce many things to juster proportions-and we are to render this lower world, by improvements, subservient in a still higher degree, both to our pleasure and utility.
Such then, is our portrait of LORD ROKEBYwe have endeavoured faithfully to copy the original
and happy shall we deem ourselves, should it be found that we have sketched the features with fidelity. His was no common character. Peculiar in his talents, in his habits of life, and in his general views of mankind, we must expect his history to have been marked by a singular train of actions. Such was really the case--and few individuals had a more indisputable claim to originality. With all these eccentricities, however, he possess ed virtues by which his defects were abundantly