« AnteriorContinuar »
intrigues, backbiting, jealousies, and suspicions. The character of the King himself, as drawn by Horace Walpole, differs from that given of him by Lord Waldegrave, only as an object would naturally be changed by looking at it through a different-coloured medium: the outline is the same, but all the tints are heightened. The good-nature of Lord Waldegrave, and the habitual satire of Horace Walpole, are distinctly marked in each performance.
“ The King had fewer sensations of revenge, or, at least, know how to hoard them better than any man who ever sat upon a throne. The insults he experienced from his own, and those obliged servants, never provoked him enough to make him venture the repose of his people, or his own. If any object of his hate fell in his way, he did not pique himself upon heroic for. giveness, but would indulge it ai the expence of his integrity, though not of his safety. He was reckoned strictly honest; but the burning his father's will must be an indelible blot upon his memory; as a much later instance of his refusing to pardon a young man who had been condemned at Oxford for a most trifling forgery, contrary to all example when recommended to mercy by the Judge-merely because Willes, who was attached to the Prince of Wales, had tried him, and assured him his pardon—will stamp his name with cruelty, though in general his disposition was mercifull, if the offence was not murder. His avarice was much less equivocal than his courage: he had distinguished the latter early; it grew more doubtfull afterwards: the former he distinguished very near as soon, and never deviated from it. His understanding was not near so deficient, as it was imagined; but though his character changed extremely in the world, it was without foundation ; for (whether] he deserved to be so much ridiculed as he had been in the former part of his reign, or so respected as in the latter, he was consistent in himself, and uniformly meritorious or absurd. His other passions were, Germany, the army, and women. Both the latter had a mixture of parade in them : be treated] my Lady Suffolk, and afterwards Lady Yarmouth, as his mistresses, while hé admired only the Queen; and never described what he thought was a handsome woman, but he drew her picture. Lady Suffolk was sensible, artfull, and agreeable, but had neither sense nor art enough to make him think her so agreeable as his wife. When she had left him, tired of acting the inistress, while she had in reality all the slights of a wife, and no interest with him, the opposition affected to cry up her virtue, and the obligations the King had to her for consenting to seem his mistress, while in reality she had confined him to meer friendship-a ridiculous pretence, as he was the last man in the world to have taste for talking sentiments, and that with a woman who was deaf! Lady Yarmouth was inoffensive, and attentive only to pleasing him, and to selling peerages whenever she had an opportunity. The Queen had been admired and happy for governing him by address ; and it was not then known how easily he was to be governed by fear. Indeed there were few arts by which he was not governed at some tiine or other of his life ; for not to mention the late Duke of Argyle, who grew a favourite by imposing himself upon him for brave; nor Lord Wilmington, who imposed himself upon him for the Lord knows what; the Queen governed him by dissimulation, by affected tenderness and deference: Sir Robert Walpole by abilities and influence in the House of Commons; Lord Granville by Aattering him in his German politics; the Duke of Newcastle by teazing and betraying him ; Mr. Pelham by bullying him,--the only man by whom Mr. Pelham was not bullied himself. Who, indeed, had not someiimes weight with the King, except his children and his mistresses? With them he maintained all the reserve and majesty of his rank. He had the haughtiness of Henry the Eighth, without his spirit; the avarice of Henry the Seventh, without his exactions; the indignities of Charles the First, without his bigotry for his prerogative; the vexations of King William, with as little skill in the management of parties; and the gross gallantry of his father, without his goodnature or his honesty he might, perhaps, have been honest, if he had never hated his father, or had ever loved his son.
The Queen seems to have taken a lesson in the art of hypocritical submission, from Madame de Maintenon, who, all the time that she was secretly married to Louis the Fourteenth, sat " with spectacles on nose,” and in all the affected silence and humility of a sempstress, at her embroidering frame, in a corner of the room where the monarch listened, with assumed greatness, to those political communications on which he was all the while resolved to be guided by her sole decision. The Queen always affected, if any body was present, and the King liked she should, the humble, ignorant wife, that never meddled with politics. The Duke of Grafton, who possessed as much acuteness in discovering the foibles of persons around him, as wit' in rallying them, annoyed the Queen greatly, by making her feel that he saw through all her assumed qualities. Looking upon himself as of the blood royal, he conversed with her in a tone of familiarity by no means agreeable to her, particularly as she was extremely angry with him on account of the gallantry in which he indulged with the Princess Amelia, her second daughter. The duke, however, cared as little for her real displeasure, as for her feigned civilities." He always teazed her, and insisted that she loved nobody. He had got a story of some prince in Germany, that she had been in love with before her marriage: “G*d, madam," he used to say, “I wish I could have seen that man that you could love !"- '_“Why,” replied she, “ do you think I don't love the King?”—“ G*d, I wish I was King of France, and I would be sure whether
do or not.” (Vol. i. p. 159.) Her love for the King was certainly not of that delicate kind which shrinks from the idea of participation; as she carried her complaisance towards his mistresses so far, that Blackbourn, the Archbishop of York, thought proper, whether in his spiritual capacity or not is not stated, to congratulate her upon it, telling her “ That he had been talking to her minister Walpole about the new mistress, (Lady Yarmouth,) and was glad to find that her majesty was so sensible a woman as to like her husband should divert himself.” (Vol. i. p. 513.) The King returned her forbearance by unlimited confidence in her, insomuch that Mrs. Selwyn, one of the bedchamber-women, told him he should be the last man with whom she would have an intrigue, because he always told the Queen; indeed, his conduct as a lover was at all times too cool and methodical to wound any passion in the Queen but her vanity, which, however, it did sorely; though even that might have found consolation when she saw her royal spouse walking calmly up and down the gallery, with his watch in his hand, waiting for his regular hour of seven o'clock, to visit Lady Suffolk, without even evincing the slightest inclination to break through his accustomed rule, by going to her a single minute before his usual time.
In a subsequent part of his Memoirs, Lord Orford speaks somewhat more favourably of the King, and tries to rescue him from the imputation of avarice, on the score of his leaving but little property behind him, notwithstanding the great income, which, from various sources, he was in the receipt of: a circumstance very frequently attendant on royal riches, which seem to possess, in a peculiar degree, not only the quality ascribed to riches in general, of making unto themselves wings and flying away, but of flying in a direction that can neither be traced, nor even guessed at. He endeavours also to vindicate him, respecting the charge of being negligent in the encouragement of literature; but in so doing, he speaks himself of literary men with that Aippant unconsciousness of either their importance or their deserts, which he continually betrayed in his intercourse with them; and of which his treatment of Chatterton must always be remembered as a most disgraceful instance. His character, indeed, too much resembled the sparkling frost-work of Fontenelle's.
In the whole course of these Memoirs he is only twice hurried into any thing like warmth of feeling : once when he speaks of the treatment of the Duke of Cumberland, by his royal father, respecting the campaign in Germany; and again on the conduct of government, with regard to Admiral Byng, whose death he justly styles “ a perfect tragedy, for there were variety of incidents, villainy, murder, and a hero." Lord Orford always believed this unfortunate man to have been unjustly aspersed, maliciously condemned, and put to death contrary to all equity and precedent.
The behaviour of the King, with respect to the Duke of Cumberland, exhibited a refinement of dissimulation that might bear comparison with the most notorious instances of that quality as practised by Queen Elizabeth, that mistress of the art, when it suited her purpose to blame those around her, rather than herself. The account of the transaction is extremely interesting. The avarice of the King was at the bottom of the whole affair ; causing him secretly to prevent the duke from being supplied with troops sufficient to enable him to keep his ground in Germany : he was therefore compelled, after the battle of Hastenbecke, to submit to a suspension of arms, at which the King affected extraordinary indignation and surprise, though fully aware, all the time, that the measure was in itself unavoidable, circumstanced as his son was for want of supplies. When it was known in England, it caused a great commotion, and Lord Orford minutely relates the behaviour
of the duke, under the trying circumstances in which his father's duplicity had placed him, concluding with the following observations:
“A young prince, warm, greedy of military glory, yet resigning all his passions to the interested dictates of a father's pleasure, and then loaded with the imputation of having acted basely without authority; hurt with unmerited disgrace, yet never breaking out into the least unguarded cxpression ; preserving dignity under oppression, and the utmost tenderness of duty under the ulmost delicacy of honour—this is an uncommon picture—for the sake of human nature, I hope the conduct of the father is uncommon too! When the duke could lear himself from his favourite passion, the army, one may judge how sharply he must have been woundeil.' When afterwards the King, perfidiously enough, broke that famous convention, mankind were so equitable as to impute it to the same unworthy politics, not to the disapprobation he had pretended to feel on its being made. In a former part of this history I have said with regard to his eldest, that the King might have been au bonest man, if he had never hated his father, or had ever loved his son-what double force has this truth, when it is again applied to him on his treachery to the best son that ever lived ! Considering with what freedom I have spoken of the duke's faults in other parts of this work, I may be believed in the just praise bestowed on him here.”
It is indeed rarely that Lord Orford expresses himself thus ; he was not apt to praise, - for this simple reason, that he was not apt to admire; and perhaps the only instance of his portrait-painting, wherein fidelity has been sacrificed to partiality, is in his own character, as traced by his own hand : “Walpole,” says he, speaking of himself in the third
« had a warm conception, vehement attachments, strong aversions ; with an apparent cour tradiction in his temper-for he had numerous caprices, and invincible perseverance. His principles tended to republicanism, but without any of its austerity; his love of faction was unmixed with any aspiring. He had great sense of honour, but not great enough, for he had too much weakness to resist doing wrong, though too much sensibility not to feel it in others. He had a great measure of pride, equally apt to resent neglect, and scorning to stoop to any meanness or flattery: A boundless friend; a bitter, but a placable enemy. His humour was 'satyric, though accompanied with a most compassionate heart. Indiscreet and abandoned to his passions, it seemed as it he despised or could bear no restraint; yet this want of government of himself was the more blameable, as nobody had greater command of resolution when. ever he made a point of it. This appeared in his person: naturally very delicate, and educated with too fond a tenderness, by unrelaxed temperance and braving all inclemency of weathers, he formed and enjoyed the firmest and unabated health. One virtue he possessed in a singular degree-disinterestedness and contempt of money—if one may call that a virtue, which really was a passion. In short, such was his promptness to dislike superiors, such his humanity to inferiors, that, considering how few men are of'so firm a texture as not to be influenced by their situation, he thinks, if he may be allowed to judge of himself, that had either extreme of fortune been his lot, he should have made a good prince, but not a very honest slave.”
The compassionate heart, and contempt of money, of which the noble author accuses himself in this delineation, must be adduced as a proof in favour of the truth of that maxim, which holds, that all persons are most anxious to assume the appearance of those qualifications which they are conscious they least possess.
It was probably the complacency with which he viewed himself, that prevented Lord Orford from being dazzled with striking qualities in any other person. He professes to have known, in his own time, only five great men, viz. the Duke of Cumberland, Sir Robert Walpole, Lord Granville, Lord Mansfield, and Mr. Pitt. The characters of these personages he delineates and contrasts in a very lively manner :
“ Lord Granville was most a genius of the five: he conceived, knew, expressed, whatever he pleased. The state of Europe and the state of literature were equally familiar to him. His eloquence was rapid, and Aowed from a source of wit, grandeur, and knowledge. So far from premeditated, he allowed no reflection to chasten it. It was entertaining, it was sublime, it was hyperbole, it was ridiculous, according as the profusion of ideas crouded from him. He embraced systems like a legislator, but was capable of none of the detail of a magistrate.' Sir Robert Walpole was much the reverse: he knew mankind, not their writings; he consulted their interests, not their systems; he intended their happiness, not their grandeur. Whatever was beyond common sense, he disregarded. Lord Mansfield, without the elevation of Lord Granville, had great powers of eloquence. It was a most accurate understanding, and yet capable of shining in whatever it was applied to. He was as free froin vice as Pitt, more unaffected, and formed to convince, even where Pitt had dazzled. The Duke of Cumberland had most expressive sense, but with that connection between his sense and sensibility, that you must mortify his pride before you could call out the radiance of his understanding. Being placed at the head of armies without the shortest apprenticeship, no wonder he miscarried : il is cruel to have no other master than one's own faults. Pitt's was an unfinished greatness: considering how much of it depended on his words, one may almost call his an artificial greatness ; but his passion for fame and the grandeur of his ideas compensated for his defects. He aspired to redeem the honour of his country, and to place it in a point of giving law to nations. His ambition was to be the most illustrious man of the first country in Europe; and he thought that the eminence of glory could not be sullied, by the steps to it being passed irregularly. He wished to ag. grandize Britain
in general, but thought not of obliging or benefitting individuals. Lord Granville you loved till you knew him ; Sir Robert Walpole, the more you knew him: you would have loved the duke, if you had not feared him. Pitu liked the dignity of despotism ; Lord Mansfield the reality : yet the latter would have served the cause of power, without sharing it. Pitt would have set the world free, if he might not command it. Lord Granville would have preferred doing right, if he had not thought it more convenient to do wrong: Sir Robert Walpole meaned to serve mankind, though he knew how little they deserved it—and this principle is at once the most ineritorious in one's self and to the world.”
One of the most amusing personages of that day was the facetious George Bubb, who afterwards added to his name the more lofty-sounding one of Doddington, with the agreeable appendage of a suitable estate. Before this event took place, he had complained to Lord Chesterfield of his name carrying with it an idea of insignificance, on account of its shortness, and continued, that he had serious thoughts of changing it for a longer : "you might lengthen your own," replied his lordship, "by calling yourself Silly Bubb."
“Soon after the arrival,” says Lord Orford, “ of Frederick Prince of Wales in England, Doddington became a favourite, and submitted to the prince's childish horse-play, being once rolled up in a blanket, and trundled down stairs ; nor was he negligent in paying more solid court, by lending his royal highness money. He was, however, supplanted, I think, by George, afterwards Lord Lyttleton, and again became a courtier and placeman at St. James's ; but once more reverted to the prince at the period where his Diary commences. Pope was not the only poei who diverted the town at Doddington's expence. Sir Charles Hanbury ridiculed him in a well-known dialogue with Gyles Earle, and in a ballad entitled “A Grub upon Bubh.” Dr. Young, on the contrary, who was patronized by him, has dedicated to him one of his satires on the love of fame, as Lyttelton hard inscribed one of his cantos on the progress of love. Glover, and that prostitute fellow Ralph, were also countenanced by him, as the Diary shews.
“ Doddington's own wit was very ready. I will mention two instances. Lord Sundon was commissioner of the Treasury with him and Winnington, and was very dull. One Thursday, as they left the board, Lord Sundon laughed heartily at something Doddington said; and when gone, Winnington said, Doddington, you are very ungrateful ; you call Sundon stupid and slow, and yet you see how quick he took what you said.'. 'Oh no,' replied Doddington, he was only laughing now at what I said last treasury day.'Mr. Trenchard, a neighbour, telling him, that though his pinery was expensive, he contrived, by applying the fire and the dung to other purposes, to make it so advantageous, that he believed he got a shilling by every pine-apple he ate.' "Sir,' said Doddington, 'I would eat them for half the money.' -— Doddington was married to a Mrs. Behan, whom he was supposed to keep. Though secretly married, he could not own her, as he then did, till the death of Mrs. Strawbridge, to whom he had given promise of marriage, under the penalty of ten thousand pounds. He had long made love to the latter, and, at jast, obtaining an assignation, found her lying on a couch. However, he only fell on his knees, and after kissing her hand for some time, cried out,