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of Commons; and a wonderful dexterity in attaching individuals to himself. He wisely and punctually performed whatever he promised, and most liberally rewarded their attachment and dependence. By these and all other means that can be imagined, he made himself many personal friends and political dependants." *
All this confirms what I have said as to his good fortune, which is only the more proved by the glance given at the lowness of his extraction; and, as
l if nothing should be wanting to his wishes, he was successful in another field of ambition, as well as politics. For perhaps his highest object of all was the match he at length accomplished, after a long and strenuous opposition from her family, on account of his inferiority of birth, with the sister of the Duke of Richmond. This, it should seem, ought to have perfected his worldly prosperity; for, already in possession of wealth, power, and reputation for abilities, it gave him the only other advantage which, had he been wise, was necessary to his well-doing, the lustre of family connection. One would have thought, therefore, that all this would have crowned him with felicity; and no doubt it was thought to do so by the common world. Those, however, who could look into his closet, saw that it was not so; and that, under the constant good-humour and seeming frankness for which Lord Chesterfield gives him creditt,
* Characters, art. “ H. Fox."
† “A constant good-humour and seeming frankness made him a welcome companion in social life." -Characters, art. “H. Fox."
there must have lurked that discontent which he afterwards confessed in his letters to Selwyn. The truth is, that during a considerable part of his tumultuous life, though his abilities made him a most desirable colleague in subordinate offices, he was long kept down and prevented from rising to the highest, which his services had earned, by the jealousy of men far his inferiors in energy and talents, but superior to him in rank and court interest; while, on the other hand, he was beat, and for ever kept out of the field of popularity and public opinion, by the greater energy and virtue of the man* who disdained to be his rival, and treated him always as his master. This could not be borne; and, although wealth and a barony were his ultimate rewards, the latter at least mortified as much as it pleased him, because it was not an earldom. In this, if not in other disappointments, he resembled another great type of ill-regulated ambition, Bolingbroke; the origin of whose quarrel with Oxford, involving the total ruin of their party, was, as may be remembered, the circumstance, that while Oxford attained at once to an earldom, Bolingbroke only became a viscount. What littleness was this! and how easily guarded against by a small, a very small, portion of that philosophy to which this philosopher among lords, and lord among philosophers, was so perpetually laying claim. It must be owned, however, that Bolingbroke carried it more gallantly than Lord Holland. He complained of the world, but he
* Lord Chatham.
did not whine. It is possible, indeed, that Lord Holland's feelings towards Rigby, acute as they appear in the following passage of one of his letters, might have arisen from the disappointment of a real affection (if such can exist among rivals for power); and, if so, we will not harp upon it as a proof of mortified ambition, though, from the language, it is difficult to separate the two. “Surely," says he, "you must have known all I know of Mr. Rigby's unkind behaviour to me. I never hid any thing from him when he was my friend ; I had nothing to hide on my part when he ceased to be so. I must not trust myself to write any more on so tender a subject ; but my weakness is such that I am afraid
you can write upon none that I shall listen more to."* This is the letter of a hurt mind; but whether
l from the inconstancy of a friend, or the successful opposition of a rival, may be doubtful. If the first, he was to be pitied; if the last, himself was to blame for not being better armed against a very common contingency.
In another letter, his confessed disappointment and consequent un happiness and humiliation are even disgusting. “Do I authorise you to speak to the Duke of Grafton about what I mentioned to Mr. Walpole ? I shall take it very kindly if you do t, and perhaps it is the only notice that any body will take of one so universally despised as I am. I am humbled, and shall endeavour to conform to fate.”* Again: “In spite of all your kind, and, for aught I know, good reasoning, you see I am humbled, and I believe (whatever they may pretend) that old age humbles every body.”+
* Lord Holland to Selwyn, “ Correspondence,” ii. 264.
† Lord Holland, the Secretary of State, and Minister of the House of Commons, to be reduced to seek the patronage, as it were, of a mere country gentleman, or, at most, a man of pleasure on town.
This, at least, is contrary to the general drift of every thing that has been said or written of a respectable old
age, which rather, if there is no extraneous reason for the contrary, elevates and recommends itself to every body's esteem. If irrespectable from the life and character of the party, whose fault is it but his own ?
Lord Holland finishes the subject by saying, “The spirit and fire of youth subsist no more, and
Old age so weakens and disarms the mind,
In these sentiments there is at least nothing of Cicero; and, for the cause of the despair and lamentation which seem here to characterise this supposed successful son of ambition, we can only look to that total want of hope of a hereafter, which, from Lord Chesterfield's account, must have been his melancholy lot.
How infinitely better had it been for this supposed fortunate, but in reality unhappy, man, could he
Selwyn, i. 209. If he was humbled, surely it was by himself, for wanting the common wisdom and virtue which make other men superior to outward circumstances. Would either of the Pitts have written thus ? † Selwyn, i. 209. VOL. II.
have looked differently upon old age in general, and upon his own in particular, instead of whining (as I have said he did) at the loss of his youth! could he have sincerely applied to himself, as Bishop Watson (a more useful public man) did, the eloquent consolation of another considerable person, on the close of his labours! “Ingruit senectus, appropinquat mors, et melioris ævi dies, cum hæc clarius elucebunt. Juvat interea tenue aliquod monumentum reliquisse vitæ non otiose peractæ, et brevi quasi functum militia, deinceps a laboribus requiescere.”* Instead of this, he could only apply to himself the conscience-struck reflections which the mighty master puts into the mouth of a man ruined by crime and unworthy ambition, when in the wane of life he exclaims,
“I have liv'd long enough: my way of life
Is fall'n into the sear, the yellow leaf :
Lord Holland's redecming qualities were his social accomplishments, and an indulgence for his children carried to dangerous fondriess; if that can be said to be redeeming which went far to ruin his most illustrious son, though it made that son adore him. But with respect to the manner in which he bore his supposed disappointments in the pursuit of power, can we help contrasting it with that ever memorable and ennobling account of his own feelings by Mr.
* Burnet, Pref. to his “ Archæology."