« AnteriorContinuar »
Wharton, the scorn and wonder of our days, 180
again adopted the Stuart cause, and distinguished himself as a defender of its rash partisan Atterbury. Thrown into comparative poverty, he retired to the continent, and recommenced his intrigues with the pretender and the court of Spain. His singular abilities made him still an object of importance to the British minister; and Walpole offered him a general restoration to his titles and estates. But the daring spirit was now giving way; and sinking under disease and disappointment, he lingered on the continent till the close of his brief, but singularly eventful, history. Returning to Spain to drink the waters of a mineral spring, he died on his journey; and was said to have been buried in the babit of a monk. He was born in 1699, and died in 1731. Thirty-one years thus closed the career of this brilliant profiligate, who, if his principles had but equalled his genius, was formed to be one of the most memorable ornaments of his country.
187 John Wilmot, earl of Rochester, famous for his wit and extravagances in the time of Charles II.
A constant bounty, which no friend has made;
Yet in this search, the wisest may mistake, 210 If second qualities for first they take. When Catiline by rapine swell’d his store; When Cæsar made a noble dame a whore; In this the lust, in that the avarice, Were means, not ends ; ambition was the vice. That very Cæsar, born in Scipio's days, 216 Had aim'd, like him, by chastity at praise.
206 Ask you why Wharton. This celebrated peer,' says lord Orford, like Buckingham and Rochester, comforted all the grave and dull by throwing away the brightest profusion of parts on witty fooleries, debaucheries, and scrapes, which may mix graces with a great character, but never can compose one.'
213 When Cæsar made a noble dame. Servilia: she was the sister of Cato and mother of Brutus. The vices of public men have often, as if for the purpose of warning, led visibly to their ruin. Cato's passion for liberty might have spent itself in harangues, but for the insult thus offered to his house ; and it has been probably asserted, that the dagger of Brutus was drawn as much to extinguish the suspicion of his illegitimacy, as to avenge the wrongs of Rome.
Lucullus, when frugality could charm,
In this one passion man can strength enjoy,
Old politicians chew on wisdom past, And totter on in business to the last; As weak, as earnest, and as gravely out, 230 As sober Lanesborow dancing in the gout.
227 Here honest Nature ends as she begins. Warton gives some amusing instances of the ruling passion strong in death.' An usurer in the last agony was presented by his confessor with the crucifix : it was ornamented with jewels : the dying man suddenly fixed his eyes on the gems, and cried out, 'Those stones are counterfeit: I cannot lend more than ten pistoles on the pledge.' Malherbe's passion was to reform his native tongue. The priest, who visited him on his deathbed, promised him the joys of paradise; but observing some impatience in his hearer, asked whether he might not go on with the description :- Not another word, gasped the old critic, unless you speak of paradise in purer French.'
The classic examples are numerous. The habit among the ancients of finishing their career with some memorable sentences, was a ruling passion in itself. Augustus, the man of ostentatious elegance, died in a compliment to his wife, 'Livia, conjugii nostri memor, vive, et vale;' Vespasian, in a jest on the vanity of his deified predecessors, Ut puto, Deus fio;' Galba, with the heroism of a public sacrifice, • Feri, si ex re sit populi Romani ;' Severus, with the public care of a great functionary, ‘Adeste, si quid mihi restat agendum.'
231 Sober Lanesborow. Lord Lanesborow, who danced when a cripple in the gout. His enthusiasm on this point was so ardent,
Behold a reverend sire, whom want of grace Has made the father of a nameless race, Shoved from the wall perhaps, or rudely press'd By his own son, that passes by unbless'd: 235 Still to his wench he crawls on knocking knees, And envies every sparrow that he sees.
A salmon's belly, Helluo, was thy fate; . The doctor calld, declares all help too late : • Mercy !' cries Helluo, .mercy on my soul ! 240 Is there no hope ?-Alas !-Then bring the jowl.'
The frugal crone, whom praying priests attend, Still tries to save the hallow'd taper's end; Collects her breath, as ebbing life retires, For one puff more, and in that puff expires. 245
• Odious! in woollen ! 'twould a saint provoke!' Were the last words that poor Narcissa spoke:
No, let a charming chintz and Brussels lace Wrap my cold limbs, and shade my lifeless face : One would not, sure, be frightful when one's dead:
250 And—Betty-give this cheek a little red.' that he conceived dancing to be a cure for all the evils of life. In the midst of queen Anne's grief for tbe loss of her husband, prince George of Denmark, he solicited an interview, and solemnly assured her majesty, that she wanted nothing but a course of dancing to make her forget all misfortunes. The epithet sober' to this venerable professor of consolation seems somewbat inapplicable. 241 Bring the jowl.
Puisqu'il faut que je meure,
Sans faire tant de façon,
Le reste de mon poisson.-La Fontaine. 245 And in that puff expires. Told by lady Boling broke of an old Parisian countess.
251 And, Betty, give this cheek a little red. The mistress was the Lord Cobham, in a letter to Pope on the subject, adds these whimsical instances, which seem to have occurred at the time: - What do you think of an old lady dressing her silver locks with pink, and ordering her coffin to be lined with white quilled satin, with gold fringes? Or counsellor Vernon, retiring to enjoy himself with five thousand a year, which he had got, and returning to chancery, to get a little more, when he could not speak so loud as to be heard ?'
The courtier smooth, who forty years had shined A humble servant to all human kind, Just brought out this, when scarce his tongue could stir :- .
254 “If, where I'm going, I could serve you, sir?'
• I give and I devise,' old Euclio said, And sigh’d, “my lands and tenements to Ned.' Your money, sir?—“My money, sir! what, all ? Why,-if I must-(then wept) I give it Paul.' The manor, sir !—The manor ! hold,' he cried ; • Not that, -I cannot part with that;' and died.
And you, brave Cobham! to the latest breath, Shall feel your ruling passion strong in death : Such in those moments as in all the past;, save my country, Heaven !' shall be your last.
celebrated Mrs. Oldfield ; the maid Mrs. Saunders, her friend, also a clever actress.
201 I cannot part with that. The words of sir William Bateman in his last moments. Warton justly observes, that the realities of avarice and gluttony defy all exaggeration.