Imagens da página


of one of our artists. I shall leave the decision of this matter to yourself, after you have received the following story, which I shall most faithfully relate.

There is a certain petty retainer to the court *, who has no employnient at all himself, but is a partner for life to one that has. This gentleman resides constantly with his family among us; where, being wholly at leisure, he is consequently very speculative, perpetually turning his thoughts to improve those happy talents that nature has given him. He has maturely considered with himself the strange opinions that people at distance have of courts. Strangers are apt to think, that whoever has an apartment in the royal palace, can go through the lodgings as if he were at home, and talk familiarly with every one he meets, must needs have at any time a dozen or two of employments in his power ; the least word from him to a great man, or upon extraordinary occasions, to the queen herself, would certainly do the business! This ignorance has of ten been made very good use of by dexterous men among us. Old courtiers will tell you twenty stories of Killigrew ut, Fleetwood Sheppard, and others,


* The intention of our anthor is in great measure frustrated by the obscurity of the person, who is here held up to censure. This is not the only proof of the necessity there is of being more explicit in such particulars of a relation, as, though universally known at the time, are very soon entirely forgotten.

+ Three brothers of this family, William, Thomas, and Henry, were employed in the court of king Charles I. They were all zealous cavaliers; and were rewarded by Charles II, at the restoration.-William was made gentleman usher of the privy chamber, and vicechamberlain.-Thomas was a gentleman of the bedchamber, and used frequently to divert his merry master, who on that account


who would often sell places that were never in being, and dispose of others a good pennyworth before they were vacant; how the Privy Garden at Whitehall was actually sold, and an artist sent to measure it ; how one man was made curtain lifter to the king, and another his majesty's goldfinder: 50 that our predecessors must be allowed their due honour. Neither do I at all pretend, that the hero I am now celebrating was the first inventor of that art ; wherein it must however be granted, that he hath made most wonderful improvements.

This gentleman, whom I take leave to call by the name of Guzman, in imitation of a famous Spanish deceiver of that name, having been formerly turned out of one or two employments for no other crime than that of endeavouring to raise their value, has ever since employed his credit and power for the service of others; and, where he could not secure them in reality, has been content to feed their imaginations, which to a great part of mankind is full as well. It is true, he hath done all this with a prudent regard to his own interest ; yet whoever has trafficked with him cannot but own, that he sells at rea

was fonder of him than of his best ministers, and would give him access to his presence when he denied it to them. He was ap pointed in 1651 resident at Venice.Henry was created D. D.; made almoner to the duke of York, rector of Whethamsted, and master of the Savoy. All the brothers were dramatick writers.

I A courtier of the reign of king Charles II, and one who had the honour to be on very familiar terms with that gay and easy monarch. He was also very intimate with the earl of Dorset, and the other wits and courtiers of that reign. He was author of many poems, dispersed in several books; but is at present better known as the friend and patron of Mr. Prior, who has addressed two epistles to him, than by any writings of his own.


sonable rates; and is so modest withal, that he is content the credit of taking your money should rest on the greatest men in England, rather than himself. He begged a small employment for one of his, customers, from a lord of the admiralty, then told his client,' “ that the great man must have a hundred “ guineas presented him in a handsome manner." Our placejobber brought an old lame horse of his own, and said “ the admiral asked a hundred gui“ neas for it:" the other bought the horse, with out offering to cheapen him, or look in his mouth. • Two or three such achievements as these gave our adventurer the courage for some time past to deal by the great, and to take all employments at court into his own hands. And though he and his family are firm adherents to the honest party, and furious against the present ministry (as I speak it to our honour, no small number of us are) : yet in the disposal of places he was very impartial, and gave every one their choice. He had a standing agent, to whom all people applied themselves that wanted any employment, who had them ready of all sizes, to fit whatever customer came, from twenty to a thousand pounds a year.

If the question be asked, why he takes no employment himself ? He readily answers, That he might, whenever he pleased, be in the commission of the customs, the excise, or of trade : but does not think it worth his while; because, without stirring from court, or giving himself any trouble, he can, by his credit, oblige honest gentlemen with employments, and at the same time make better advantage to himself. He hath several ways to establish a reputation of his interest at court. Sometimes, as I


have already observed, he hath actually begged small offices, and disposed of them to his clients. Besides, by living in her majesty's palace, and being industrious at picking out secrets, he often finds where preferment is likely to go even before those who are to be preferred can have any notice of it themselves; then he immediately searches out for them, tells them of their merits, asks them how they would like of such an employment; and promises, by his power at court, to get it for them ; but withal gives thein a hint, that great men will take money; though they will not be known to do it; that it therefore must be done by a second hand, for which he profers his service, tells them what sum will be convenient, and then sinks it in his own pocket; beside what is given to him in gratitude for his solicitations and good will: this gives him credit to pursue his trade of placejobbing. Whoever hath a mind for an employment at court, or any where else, goes to Guzman's agent; and he reads over to the candidate a list of places, with their profit and salaries. When one is fixed upon, the agent names the known don Guzman, as a person to be depended upon; tells the client, he must send his honour a hamper of wine ; if the place they are in treaty for be considerable, a hogshead. At next meeting, the price is agreed on; but unfortunately this employment is half promised to another: however, he believes that that difficulty may be removed for twenty or thirty guineas; which, being but a trifle, is immediately given. After two or three meetings more, perhaps, the bubble hath. access to the don himself; who assumes great airs, says the thing shall be done, he has already spoken to the queen or lord treasurer. At parting, the agent


tells the officer elect, there is immediate occasion for forty or fifty guineas, to be given among clerks, or servants of some great minister. Thus the poor place hunter is drihed on, from one month to another, perpetually squeezed of ready money, and nothing done. This trade don Guzman has carried on for many years, and frequently with five or six dupes in hand at a time, and perhaps all of them for one place. I know it will be the wonder of many people, as it has been mine, how such impostures as these could be so frequently repeated, and how so many disappointed people could be kept from making a noise and clamour that may ruin the trade and credit of this bold projector ; but it is with him as with almanack makers, who gain more reputation by one right guess, than they lose by a thousand wrong ones. Besides I have already observed, that, once or twice in his life, he did actually provide for one or two persons; farther, it was his constant rule, whatever employment was given away, to assure his clients that he had the chief hand in disposing of it, When a man had no more to give, or was weary of attending, the excuse was, either that he had some private enemies, or the queen was engaged for that turn, or that he must think of something else : and then it was a new business, required new fees, and new hampers of wine ; or, lastly, don Guzman was not to be seen, or talked cold and dry, or in very great haste, and so the matter dwindled to nothing : the poor pretender to an employment discovered the cheat too late, was often ashamed to complain, and was only laughed at when he did.

Having thus described some few of the qualifica. tions which have so much distinguished this worthy

manager ;

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »