Abbildungen der Seite

of Lord Steward of the Household, and, shortly afterwards, was appointed President of the Council. On the accession of George the Second, his talents meeting with no encouragement from that monarch, he continued constantly opposed to the Court. In consequence of this neglect, he appears to have transferred his homage from the palace to the muses, and in the next few years produced his tragedies of “Julius Cæsar,” and “ Marcus Brutus,” a class of literary composition for which he was as little qualified as he was to be a minister of state. For the latter play, Pope composed two chorusses, of which Warburton says, they only made the meanness of the piece the more conspicuous.

Spring Macky says of the Duke of Buckingham,—“ He is a nobleman of learning and good natural parts, but of no principles. Violent for the High Church, yet seldom goes to it; very proud, insolent, and covetous, and takes all advantages. In paying his debts, unwilling; and is neither esteemed nor beloved; for notwithstanding his great interest at the court of Queen Anne, it is certain that he hath none in either house of Parliament, or in the country.” It has been said that this character is too severe; but as far as posterity has the means of judging, we can only come to the conclusion, that he was characterized by many vices, and, apparently, by scarcely a single virtue. The best that can he said of him is, that he was a brave man, and an

agreeable companion. His laugh is described as having been the pleasantest in the world; and though his temper was passionate, his disposition is said to have been a forgiving one.

The Duke, as we have already mentioned, was three times married: his choice fell, on each occasion, on a widow. His first wife was Ursula, daughter of Colonel Stawel, and widow of Ed. ward, first Earl of Conway, by whom he had no issue. He married secondly, Catherine, daughter of Fulke Greville, fifth Lord Brooke, and widow of Baptist Noel, second Earl of Gainsborough, who also died without issue; and thirdly, Catherine Darnley, a natural daughter of James the Second, and widow of James, Earl of Anglesey, an extraordinary woman, whose eccentricities will form the subject of our next memoir.

By his third wife, the Duke was the father of four children, (three sons and one daughter,) of whom two died in their infancy, and only one, Edmund, second Duke of Buckingham, survived him. The Duke has bequeathed us some verses, on the death of his eldest son, Robert, which show that he deeply lamented his loss, but which possess more pathos than poetry, and very little of either one or the other. The Duke speaks of his offspring, as :

A child, of whom kind Heaven

Not only hope bestows,
But has already given

Him all our hopes propose.

And he concludes his wretched effusion :

But why so much digression,

This fatal loss to show ?
Alas ! there's no expression

Can tell a parent's woe! The Duke himself expired, 24th February, 1721, at the age of seventy-one. His corpse lay in state in great magnificence at Buckingham House, whence it was transferred to Westminster Abbey, and interred with much pomp in Henry the Seventh's chapel. By his will the sum of five hundred pounds was to be expended on his monument, on which was to be inscribed the following remarkable epitaph, written by himself :

Dubius sed non improbus vixi,
Incertus morior sed inturbatus,
Humanum est nescire et errare,
Christum adveneror, Deo confido
Omnipotenti, benevolentissimo;

Ens Entium misere mihi.

By order of Bishop Atterbury, then Dean of Westminster, the words Christum adveneror were omitted, it being supposed that they were intended to derogate from the Divine Nature of our Saviour. If it were really necessary, however, to make an exception at all, an objection might just as well have been raised to the commencing couplet, which is quite as offensive as the words that were omitted.

The Duke, as has been already mentioned, was succeeded in his titles by his only surviving son,

Edmund, the second and last Duke of Buckingham of his name. This young man, after a short life of great promise, died at Rome, on the 30th of October, 1735. His remains having been brought to England, were interred near those of his father in Henry the Seventh's chapel, where a curious effigy of him in wax still points out the spot where he lies. Pope also wrote his epitaph, in verses which are sufficiently well known, but which would be considered unworthy of a less gifted genius than himself.





Character of the Duchess written by herself – Her marriage

in 1699 to James Annesley, third Earl of Anglesea-Second marriage to Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham and separation from him by act of parliament — Her daughter by the Duke married to William Phipps, Esq., ancestor of the present Marquis of Normanby-Singular anecdote of the Duchess's mother, Lady Dorchester, mistress of James the Second—The Duchess's zeal in the cause of the Pretender -Anecdote of her related by Horace Walpole-Anecdote of Pulteney, Earl of Bath— The Duchess's efforts to interest Sir Robert Walpole in the cause of the Stuarts—Her correspondence with him — Singular interview with Lord Hervey-Her love of pomp and display-Extract from Horace Walpole's letter to Sir Horace Mann- The Duchess's flattering character of herself-Her death in 1743.

THERE is extant a “ Character," of this extraordinary woman, teeming with fulsome compliments and unblushing encomiums, which, there is every reason to believe, was the production of her own pen. After her death, an attempt was made to father it on Pope ; but not only does Bishop Warburton positively deny that it was written by the poet, but Pope himself, in one of his letters, throws some important light on this literary

« ZurückWeiter »