« ZurückWeiter »
"He practised his arts on fuch small occasions, “ that Lady Beling broke used to say, in a French “' phrase, that he played the politician about cab. " bages and turnips. His unjustifiable impref. “ fion of the Patriot King, as it can be imputed
to no particular motive, must have proceeded “ from his general habit of fecrecy and cunning; “ he caught an opportunity of a sly trick, and " pleased himself with the thought of outwitting ** Boling broke.
* In familiar or convivial conversation, it does not appear that he excelled. * He may be faid
to have resembled Dryden, as being not one " that was distinguished by vivacity in company. * It is remarkable, that, fo near his time, so for much should be known of what he has written, « and so little of what he has said : traditional * memory retains 'no falties of raillery, nor sen,
tences of observation ; nothing either pointed “ or folid, either wife or merry. One apoph“thegm only ftands upon record. When an ob"..jection raised againft his inscription for Shake
Spear, was defended by the authority of Patrick, he replied-horresco referens-that he would allow the publisher of a dictionary to know the
meaning of a single word, but not of two "' words pat together.
" He was fretful, and easily displeased, and " allowed himself to be capriciously resentful. He would sometimes leave Lord Oxford filently, no b 3
“ one could tell why, and was to be courted back " by more letters and messages than the footmen
were willing to carry. The table was indeed “ infested by Lady Mary Wortley, who was the “ friend of Lady Oxford, and who, knowing “ his peevishness, could by no entreaties be re“ strained from contradicting him, till their dif
putes were sharpened to fuch asperity, that one " or the other quitted the house.
* He fometimes condescended to be jocular ** with fervants or inferiors; but by no merriment,
either of others or his own, was he ever seen « excited to laughter.
« Of his domestic character, frugality was a “ part eminently remarkable. Having determined " not to be dependent, he determined not to be in “ want, and therefore wisely and magnanimously cs
rejected all temptations to expence unsuitable “ to his fortune. This general care must be uni
versally approved; but it sometimes appeared “ in petty artifices of parsimony, such as the
practice of writing his compositions on the back « of letters, as may be seen in the remaining copy “ of the Iliad, by which perhaps in five years five “ fhillings were saved, or in a niggardly recep« tion of his friends, and scantiness of enter" tainment, as, when he had two guests in his
house, he would set at supper a fingle pint upon the table; and having himself taken two small glasses, would retire, and say, Gentlemen, I
S leave you to your wine. Yet he tells his friends, " that he has a heart for all, a house for all, and, ! whatever they, may think, a fortune for all.
" He sometimes, however, made a splendid
dinner, and is said to have wanted no part of the “ skill or elegance which such performances re
quire. That this magnificence should be often ،،
displayed, that obstinate prudence with which “ he conducted his affairs would not permit ; for “ his revenue, certain and casual, amounted only “ to about eight hundred pounds a year, of which “ however he declares himself. able to align one os hundred to charity.
“ Of this fortune, which, as it arose from public “ approbation, was very honourably obtained, “ his imagination, seems to have been too full : it would be hard to find a man, to
so well entitled notice by his wit, that ever delighted so much in talking of his money. In his letters, and in * his poems, his garden and his grotto, his quinkc cung and his vines, or some hints of his opu.
"' lence, are always to be found. The great topic 3) « of his ridicule' is poverty; the crimes with
« which he reproaches his antagonists are their “ debts,' their habitation in the Mint, and their
want of a dinner. He seems to be of an opinion " not very uncommon in the world, that to want
money is to want every thing. 16 wifi, L'esc Next to the pleasure of contemplating his
poffefions, seems to be that of enumerating the
" men of high rank with whom he was acquainted, ! and whose notice he loudly proclaims not to have “ been obtained by any practices of meanness or
servility ; a boast which was never denied to be “ true, and to which very few
have ever “ aspired. Pope never fet his genius to fale; he
never fattered thofe whom he did not love, or “ praise those whom he did not efteem. Savage “ however remarked, that he began a little to “ relax his dignity when he wrote a distich for “ his Highness's dog.
“ His admiration of the great, seems to have se increased in the advance of life. He pased, ૯૮ over peers
and statesmen to inscribe his Iliad to “ Congreve, with a magnanimity of which the
praise had been complete, had his friend's vir, « tue been equal to his wit. Why he was chosen “ for so great an honour, it is not now possible
to know; there is no trace, in literary history, of
any particular intimacy between them ; nor does " the name of Congreve appear in the letters. Tam ", his latter works, however, he took 'care to an,
nex names dignified with titles; but was not very happy in his choice; for, except Lord Bathurst, none of his noble friends were such
as that a good man would wish to have his in“ timacy with them consigned to pofterity: he can. “ derive little honour from the notice of Cobban, “ Burlington, or Boling broke."