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swept over in the space of a single scene; old things were done away, and a new order at once brought forward bright and luminous, and clearly destined to dispel the barbarisms and bigotry of a tasteless age, too long attached to the prejudices of custom, and superstitiously devoted to the illusions of imposing declamation.”
His first introduction to official life was little to his taste.
“The morning after my arrival, I waited on Mr. Pownall at his office in Whitehall, and was received by him with all possible politeness, but in a style of such ceremony and form as I was little used to, and not much delighted with. How many young men at my time of life would have embraced this situation with rapture. The whole town indeed was before me, but it had not for me either friend or relation to whom I could resort for comfort or for counsel. With a head filled with Greek and Latin, and a heart left behind me in my college, I was completely out of
my element. I saw myself unlike the people about me, and was embarrassed in circles, which, according to the manners of those days, were not to be approached without a set of ceremonies and manoeuvres not very pleasant to perform, and when awkwardly performed not very edifying to behold. In these graces Lord Halifax was a model ; his address was noble and imposing; he could never be mistaken for less than he was, whilst his official
secretary, Pownall, who egregiously overacted his imitations of him, could as little be mistaken for more than he was.
One of his happiest characters is that of Bubb Dodington.
“ His town house in Pall Mall, his villa at Hammersmith, and his mansion in the country, were such establishments as few nobles in the nation were possessed of. In either of these he was not to be approached but through a suite of apartments, and rarely seated but under painted ceilings and gilt entablatures. In his villa you were conducted through two rows of antique statues, ranged in a gallery floored with the rarest marbles, and enriched with columns of granite and lapis-lazuli; his saloon was hung with the finest Gobelin tapestry, and he slept in a bed encanopied with peacocks’ feathers, in the style of Mrs. Montagu. When he passed from Pall Mall to La Trappe, it was always in a coach, which I could suspect had been his ambassadorial equipage at Madrid, drawn by six fat, unwieldy black horses, short docked, and of colossal dignity. Neither was he less characteristic in apparel than in equipage. He had a wardrobe loaded with rich and glaring suits, each in itself a load to the wearer; and of these I have no doubt but many were coeval with his embassy above mentioned, and every birth-day had added to the stock. In doing this he so contrived as never to
put his old dresses out of countenance by any variation in the fashion of the new. In the meantime his bulk and corpulence gave full display to a vast expanse and profusion of brocade and embroidery; and this, when set off with an enormous tie periwig and deep laced ruffles, gave the picture of an ancient courtier in his gala habit, or Quin in his stage dress.
Nevertheless it must be confessed this style, though out of date, was not out of character, but harmonized so well with the person of the wearer, that I remember, when he made his first speech in the House of Peers as Lord Melcombe, all the flashes of his wit, all the studied phrases and well-timed periods of his rhetoric lost their effect, simply because the orator had laid aside his magisterial tie, and put on a modern bag wig, which was as much out of costume upon
of his shoulders as a cue would have been upon the robes of the Lord Chief Justice.
Having thus dilated more, perhaps, than I should have done upon this distinguished person's passion for magnificence and display, when I proceed to inquire into those principles of good taste which should naturally have been the accompaniments and directors of that magnificence, I fear I must be compelled by truth to admit that in these he was deficient. Of pictures he seemed to take his estimate only by their cost: in fact, he was not possessed of any; but I recollect his saying to
me one day in his great saloon at Eastbury, that if he had half a score pictures of a thousand pounds a-piece, he would gladly decorate his walls with them; in place of which, I am sorry to say, he had stuck up immense patches of gilt leather, shaped into bugle-horns, upon hangings of rich crimson velvet; and round his state bed he displayed a carpeting of gold and silver embroidery which too glaringly betrayed its derivation from coat, waistcoat and breeches, by the testimony of pockets, button-holes and loops, with other equally incontrovertible witnesses subpænaed from the tailor's shopboard."
Lord Halifax is sent as Lord-Lieutenant to Ireland, to which we owe the following portrait of a great celebrity of Dublin.
“I had more than once the amusement of dining at the house of that most singular being George Faulkner, where I found myself in a company so miscellaneously and whimsically classed, that it looked more like a fortuitous concourse of oddities jumbled together from all ranks, orders and descriptions, than the effect of invitation and design. Description must fall short in the attempt to convey any sketch of that eccentric being to those who have not read him in the pages of Jephson, or seen him in the mimicry of Foote, who, in his portraits of Faulkner, found the only sitter whom his extravagant pencil could not caricature;
for he had a solemn intrepidity of egotism and å daring contempt of absurdity that fairly outfaced imitation, and like Garrick's Ode on Shakespeare,' which Johnson said defied criticism, so did George, in the original spirit of his own perfect buffoonery, defy caricature. He never deigned to join in the laugh that he had raised, nor seemed to have a feeling of the ridicule he had provoked. At the same time that he was pre-eminently and by preference the butt and buffoon of the company, he could find openings for hits of retaliation which were such left-handed thrusts as few could
parry. Nobody could foresee where they would fall, nobody, of course, was fore-armed; and as there was in his calculation but one super-eminent character in the kingdom of Ireland, and he, the printer of the 'Dublin Journal,' there was no shield against George's arrows, which flew where he listed and hit or missed as chance directed, he cared not about consequences.
“He gave good meat and excellent claret in abundance; I sate at his table once from dinner till two in the morning, while George swallowed immense potations with one solitary sodden strawberry in the bottom of the glass, which he said was recommended to him for its cooling properties. He never lost his recollection or equilibrium the whole time, and was in excellent foolery; it was a singular coincidence, that there was a person in company