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A.D. 1717.

CHAP. better than he did, the advantage its preservation

might at some future day procure him.

There is nothing at all inconsistent in the conduct attributed to the duchess. Her hatred of Oxford was known to be unbounded, and not without cause: nothing short of his death could have satisfied her enmity. If we form our opinion of her by the character drawn by Burnet, we should perhaps deem her incapable of gratifying her revenge by so mean an attempt. But Burnet's political predilections sadly interfered with the fidelity of bis history. Pope has described her very differently under the name of Atossa ;* and since, through every attempt at disguise, she recognised the picture and resented its colouring, it could not be destitute of similitude. It is probably in reference to her confused and evervarying system of sceptical infidelity, that the poet calls her

“ The wisest fool much tiine has ever made." Of these sentiments we have some rather absurd specimens in her letters in the Marchmont Papers.

The fortunes of Oxford and Bolingbroke were however now widely different. It was but rarely that

* The retention of these sa- husband had been mean,

and tirical verses in the corrected many instances of her generocopies of his Poems which he sity are upon record. Bolingleft at his death, certainly says broke marks his sense of this little for the gratitude of the instance of ingratitude in his poet, who had received no less friend, in a private letter to the than 10001. froin the duchess. Earl of Marchmont. She was as munificent as her


A.D. 1717.

has seen.

the friends of one were the supporters of the other. CHAP. This acquittal, therefore, produced no change in the prospects of Bolingbroke, and after the publication of his splendid defence, his history becomes for some time that of a mere private man.

Books and travel were his refuge from ennui. By continually moving from place to place, he sought to fly from the remembrance of what he had been, and the reflection of what he then was. But wherever he came, his reputation ensured him the respect of all, and the society of those whose acquaintance he chose to cultivate. The age in which Bolingbroke lived is deservedly reckoned as that the most abounding in men of genius which modern Europe

The wits of the reign of Queen Anne are too famous to need even allusion; and the reign of her contemporary, Louis XIV., is still considered as the Augustan era of French literature. Among the great men who were then to be met in the assemblies of Paris, and whose names have since become familiar to posterity, Bolingbroke occupied a distinguished place-a place from which neither the envy of contemporaries nor the more unaccountable dislike of more modern authors will be ever able to remove him. It is true, that the society of the French literary characters of this period was little likely to remove or modify the sceptical opinions which Bolingbroke had imbibed. Their ideas of religion were generally far more wild and irrational even than his. But we find that he was never moved by


CHAP. their example or their sneers to adopt their insane

pyrrhonism; and we may suppose that his mind was A.D. 1717. too completely warped to be restored to its proper

tone, even by associates of the most opposite sentiments to these.

Bolingbroke had beheld the decay of Dryden, and the rise of Pope. It was his fortune to view also the progress of, perhaps, a yet more extraordinary genius. Voltaire was now giving early proofs of those talents which were afterwards to astonish his age in their developement, and to disappoint it by their perversion. The English philosopher seems to have been peculiarly successful in winning the confidence and affections of the young. He was regarded by Voltaire with scarcely less esteem and admiration than by Pope. In his society these two illustrious men felt and acknowledged a superior genius; and if he had no claim to excellence in poetry, the art in which they were so pre-eminent, he surpassed them both in the philosophy which they so admired.

Bolingbroke, however, soon left the French capital, and with it lost all direct and frequent intercourse with the French literati. Correspondence with his private friends, and occasional vindicatory letters to his party, were now the only tasks he had to perform. Leisure and listlessness seem to have revived his affection for poetry. He often beguiled the tedium of travel by paraphrasing his favourite classic authors. His Post-chaise paraphrase was written at this period. It was, however, the perusal


of the abuse which the extensive although private CHAP. circulation of his Letter to Sir William Windham called forth, which afforded Bolingbroke the greatest A.D. 1717. interest ; and this occasionally aroused him to reply through the channel of a friend, but never publicly or at length. He was too well satisfied with his performance to hazard his success by descending to a petty and individual contest, and contented himself with beholding at a distance the effects of the charm he had worked.



to 1722.

Death of Lady Bolingbroke.- Bolingbroke's acquaintance with

the Marquise de Villette.-Rivalry of M Donald.Boling

broke's Second Marriage.- His Reflections upon Exile. CHAP. During his residence in the French capital, Boling

broke did not confine himself to the cultivation of A.D. 1717 literary friendships. The court of Louis had been

a dangerous atmosphere for one of so imflammable a temperament, and he soon singled from the crowd one who, if not conspicuous for her beauty, was at least valuable to him for her mental accomplishments and her sterling worth.

In the history of Bolingbroke the name of his lady has but once occurred. We then mentioned their marriage, and their almost immediate separation. It is probable that the dislike was mutual: no endeavour appears to have been made to resume the connexion thus early interrupted.

Of the lady after their separation we know but little. There are several letters in her handwriting among the Harleian MSS.; but they are mere letters of compliment to the Earl of Oxford.* We have also

* She appears, however, not Earl of Oxford, we find her to have been insensible to the complaining that she is “ a loneliness of her situation, for poor discarded mistress.” in one of these letters to the

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