Изображения страниц


THUS died Anne Stuart, queen of Great Britain, and one of the best and greatest monarchs that ever filled that throne. What was most remarkable, was a clear harmonious voice, always admired in her graceful delivery of her speeches to parliament, insomuch, that it used to be a common saying in the mouth of every one, that her very speech was music. Good-nature, the true characteristic of the Stuarts, predominated in her temper, which was a compound of benevolence, generosity, indolence, and timidity, but not without a due sensibility of any slight which she thought was offered to her person or her dignity; to these all her actions, both as a monarch and as a woman, may be ascribed; these were the sources both of her virtues and her failings; her greatest blessing upon earth was that entire union of affections and inclinations between her and her royal consort; which made them a perfect pattern of conjugal love. She was a fond and tender mother, an easy and indulgent mistress, and a most gracious sovereign; but she had more than once reason to repent her giving up her heart, and trusting her secrets without reserve to her favourites. She retained to the last the principle of that true religion which she had imbibed early, being devout without affectation, and charitable without ostentation. She had a great reverence for clergymen eminent for learning and good lives, and was particularly beneficent to the poorer sort of them, of which she left an evidence which bears her name, and will perpetuate both that and her bounty to all succeeding generations. Chamberlaine.


LORD Townshend, by very long experience and unwearied application, was certainly an able man of business, which was his only passion. His parts were neither above nor below it; they were rather slow, a defect of the safer side. He required time to form his opinion; but when formed, he adhered to it with invincible firmness, not to say obstinacy, whether right or wrong, and was impatient of contradiction.

He was a most ungraceful and confused speaker in the house of lords, inelegant in his language, perplexed in his arguments, but always near the stress of the question.

His manners were coarse, rustic, and seemingly brutal; but his nature was by no means so; for he was a kind husband to both his wives, a most indulgent father to all his children, and a benevolent master to his servants; sure tests of real goodnature, for no man can long together simulate or dissimulate at home.

He was a warm friend, and a warm enemy; defects, if defects they are, inseparable in human nature, and often accompanying the most generous minds.

Never minister had cleaner hands than he had. Mere domestic economy was his only care as to money; for he did not add one acre to his estate, and left his younger children very moderately provided for, though he had been in considerable and lucrative employments near thirty years.

As he only loved power for the sake of power, in order to preserve it, he was obliged to have a most

unwarrantable complaisance for the interests and even dictates of the electorate, which was the only way by which a British minister could hold either favour or power during the reigns of king George the First and Second.

The coarseness and imperiousness of his manners, made him disagreeable to queen Caroline.

Lord Townshend was not of a temper to act a second part, after having acted a first, as he did during the reign of king George the First. He resolved, therefore, to make one convulsive struggle to revive his expiring power, or, if that did not succeed, to retire from business. He tried the experiment upon the king, with whom he had a personal interest. The experiment failed, as he might easily, and ought to, have foreseen. He retired to his seat in the country, and, in a few years, died of an apoplexy.

Having thus mentioned the slight defects, as well as the many valuable parts of his character, I must declare, that I owed the former to truth, and the latter to gratitude and friendship as well as to truth, since, for some years before he retired from business, we lived in the strictest intimacy that the difference of our age and situations could admit, during which time he gave me many unasked and unequivocal proofs of his friendship. Chesterfield.


Ir is impossible to find lights and shades strong enough to paint the character of lord Bolingbroke, who was a most mortifying instance of the vio

lence of human passions, and of the most improved and exalted human reason. His virtues and his vices, his reason and his passions, did not blend themselves by a gradation of tints, but formed a shining and sudden contrast.

Here the darkest, there the most splendid colours, and both rendered more striking from their proximity. Impetuosity, excess, and almost extravagancy, characterized not only his passions, but even his senses. His youth was distinguished by all the tumult and storm of pleasures, in which he licentiously triumphed, disdaining all decorum. His fine imagination was often heated and exhausted, with his body, in celebrating and deifying the prostitute of the night; and his convivial joys were pushed to all the extravagancy of frantic bacchanals. These passions were never interrupted but by a stronger ambition. The former impaired both his constitution and his character; but the latter destroyed both his fortune and his reputation.

He engaged young, and distinguished himself in business. His penetration was almost intuition, and he adorned whatever subject he either spoke or wrote upon, by the most splendid eloquence; not a studied or laboured eloquence, but by such a flowing happiness of diction, which (from care, perhaps, at first) was become so habitual to him, that even his most familiar conversations, if taken down in writing, would have borne the press, without the least correction, either as to method or style. He had noble and generous sentiments, rather than fixed reflected principles of goodnature and friendship; but they were more violent

than lasting, and suddenly and often varied to their opposite extremes, with regard even to the same persons. He received the common attention of civility as obligations, which he returned with interest; and resented with passion the little inadvertencies of human nature, which he repaid with interest too. Even a difference of opinion upon a philosophical subject, would provoke and prove him no practical philosopher at least.

Notwithstanding the dissipation of his youth, and the tumultuous agitation of his middle age, he had an infinite fund of various and almost universal knowledge, which, from the clearest and quickest conception, and the happiest memory that ever man was blessed with, he always carried about him. It was his pocket-money, and he never had occasion to draw upon a book for any sum. He excelled more particularly in history, as his historical works plainly prove. The relative, political, and commercial interests of every country in Europe, particularly of his own, were better known to him than perhaps to any man in it; but how steadily he pursued the latter in his public conduct, his enemies of all parties and denominations tell with pleasure.

During his long exile in France, he applied himself to study with his characteristical ardour; and there he formed, and chiefly executed, the plan of his great philosophical work. The common bounds of human knowledge were too narrow for his warm and aspiring imagination; he must go extra flammantia mania mundi, and explore the unknown and unknowable regions of metaphysics, which open an unbounded field for the excursions of an ardent

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »