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A.D. 1750.

This was previous to Bolingbroke's removal to CHAP. Chantelou; and from Pope's account of their mode of living there, which we have already quoted, her health must have been partially re-established after this illness.



Bolingbroke's multitude of Acquaintance and dearth of Friends.The Prince of Wales.-Mallet.-Lawsuit about Lady Bolingbroke's Property.-Death of Bolingbroke.

CHAP. By Lady Bolingbroke's death the only tie which bound her husband to the world was broken. It to 1752, is not the least of the misfortunes of old age, that

A. D. 1750

the connexions of our youth and manhood are commonly then destroyed by death. Bolingbroke now first experienced the full severity of this misfortune, and felt the bitterness of being alone in the world.

Acquaintances indeed in multitudes all eagerly sought his society, and deemed themselves honoured by his notice; but the time was passed when the heart could open to receive a friend. He mingled carelessly with those who were attracted by his reputation, but seldom condescended to cultivate their acquaintance, or to try the sincerity of their professions. He still retained some slight connexion with the party which he had lately aided by his writings; but he paid but little attention to their plans, and seldom assisted at their councils. The Prince of Wales was the person of that party with


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to 1752.

whom Bolingbroke was most intimate. He often CHAP. sought and obtained advice from the retired statesman. The Patriot King will declare that the counsel he afforded was neither dishonourable to him who gave, nor prejudicial to him who received it. What its effects might have been, we have no opportunity of judging, as Prince Frederick was never called upon to practise the lessons he had received; but the Prince was certainly attached to the adviser he had chosen, and the intimacy continued during the remainder of Bolingbroke's life.

It was probably to his intercourse with the Prince that he was indebted for his knowledge of Mallet, whom we have before mentioned as the nominal editor of the Patriot King. Mallet had distinguished himself in the service of the opposition, and had been rewarded by the Prince with the place of his undersecretary. We cannot suppose that there was much in this man which Bolingbroke could either esteem or admire. He was however unhesitating in his obedience, and unsparing in his flattery. Bolingbroke's tried and trusted friends were gone: he found Mallet useful, and he therefore tolerated and employed him.

The evening of Bolingbroke's life was splendid though cheerless. Honoured as the first citizen in the republic of letters; courted and beloved by the great men of his illustrious age; the patriot teacher of his countrymen; the confidential counsellor of a prince, he might be considered happy in the enjoy

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CHAP. ment of a reputation which it had been the business of his life to deserve.


A. D. 1750

to 1752.

But however enviable he might be esteemed by the observer who viewed him only as the oracle whose opinion was sought by the great and deferred to by the illustrious, he who looked closer could discover a far different scene.

Bolingbroke had ever been the victim of restless and disappointed ambition; the disappointment harassed him after the hope of retrieving it had fled. To this cause of mental inquietude another annoyance was now superadded. We have noticed that his marriage with the Marchioness de Villette was private, and was not acknowledged until two years after it was solemnized. No sooner was this lady dead, than her heirs in France, denying that any marriage had ever taken place, commenced a suit in the French courts for the recovery of the property she had possessed as a widow. Bolingbroke was little inclined to litigate the question his efforts to obtain legal proofs of the marriage were vain, and he respected the memory of his wife too much to wish to make so delicate a point a subject of public conversation; he made large offers of accommodation, but every proposal was rejected, and his opponents determined to proceed to trial. The result was unfavourable; he lost his cause, and beheld with indignation the memory of a wife whom he yet mourned branded with infamy. The Marquis de Matignon, the friend


to 1752.

who had calmed the violence of his jealousy against CHAP. Macdonald, and who had ever since been connected with him by the ties of friendship, was still in A. D. 1750 France. To this nobleman Bolingbroke applied to assist him in vindicating the memory of his wife. The Marquis entered with ardour upon his commission: an appeal was made to the parliament of Paris, and the necessary proof was procured. The delays of the French courts, however, prolonged the proceedings beyond the life of Bolingbroke: it was not until after his death that the blot upon the fame of his lady was removed. Soon after that event the cause was determined. The sentence of the Chambre des Enquêtes was totally annulled: and Montmorier, the original claimant, was condemned to refund the money he had seized in consequence of it.*

This triumph her husband was not permitted to see and the prosecution of the suit was only an additional cause of anxiety. The infirmities of old age, which had so long been gathering around him, were fast bowing him down; and Bolingbroke had no son to inherit his genius or to emulate his fame. A retrospect of the past offered little but a series of mortifications and misfortunes; nor could conscience always whisper that they were undeserved. These discomforts were soon reinforced by a terrible disease, which threatened a sure, a painful, and a gradual death. A cancer attacked his face, and continued * MS. Letter from a Mr. Lee to Mallet, in the British Museum,

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