Зображення сторінки

without pouting, is his simple determination; and, accordingly, he returned to his home and Ariosto, of the former of which he says, with pregnant satisfaction, having evidently the contrast of the court in his mind:“I came home to Kelstone and found my Malle*,

: my children, and my cattle, all well fedde, well taughte, and well belovede. 'Tis not so at court. Ill-breeding, with ill-feedinge, and no love but that of the lustie god of gallantrie, Asmodeus.” †

This was a better way of bearing a disappointment, though a real one, than to eat his heart, like Swift; write malignant pamphlets, like Bolingbroke; or sink into the slough of despond, like Lord Holland.

The careless easy Sir John was indeed, as we have said, a poet and a wit, and had a ready and never failing resource in polite literature, nay, in deeper learning; but so had the others; and let us not, on that account, suppose him insensible to the advantages of a fair ambition, or even blind to what was demanded for it by a wise conduct. Of this, his observations on the character and proceedings of the patron assigned him by the queen (Essex) are an abundant proof.

“It restethe wyth me (says he) in opinion, that ambition, thwarted in its career, dothe speedilie lead on to inadnesse. Herein I am strengthened by what I learne in my Lord of Essex, who stryftethe from sorrowe and repentance to rage and rebellion so suddenlie, as well provethe him devoide of goode reasone,

* Ilis wise.

† Nug. Antiq. i. 165.



or right mynde. In my last discourse he uttered strange wordes, borderinge on suche strange desygnes, that made me hasten forthe and leave his presence. Thank Heaven! I am safe at home; and if I go in suche troubles againe, I deserve the gallowes for a meddlying foole. The haughtie spirit knowethe not how to yielde, and the man's soule scemeth tossed to and fro like a troubled sea."

After this, the queen's death having for a time (for it was only for a time) blasted his hopes, he rose again by his merit to favour with James and his accomplished son. Yet he indulged in the moderation and liveliness of his nature, which seems with him tantamount to happiness. “Here now,” says he, “wyll I reste my troublede mynde, and tend my sheepe like an Arcadian swayne, that hathe loste his fairie mistresse. . For in soothe I have loste the beste and faireste love that ever shepherde knew, even my gracious queene, and since my goode mistresse is gone, I shall not hastilie put forthe for a new master. I wylle keep companie with none but my oves and boves."

The lords and gentlemen we have been commemorating were not of a disposition to act the Arcadian shepherd, like Sir John when he succumbed to his fate; but they might have profited by the example of this reasonable and checrful man, to show themselves equally independent of the frowns and smiles of fortune. Should they, however, refuse the comparison under the plea that Sir John was of too slight a calibre, from not being a statesman, or otherwise high enough in rank to compete with them, let us come to one who, whether in station, fortune, or employments, reputation, or services, yielded to no one of his time, either in his use of power, or the dignity with which he renounced it. In these respects, I own, among all the great actors of that time in the state, I have always contemplated the character and history of Sir William Temple with a sort of fondness, mingled with the respect due to his services in all his capacities, and I now produce him as an unblemished instance of true ambition.

No. VII.


“ His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal ;

Nor number nor example with him wrought,
To swerve from truth, or change his constant mind,
Though single."


The uniform integrity, industry, and love of country, which marked his career for above twenty years, inspired universal esteem; but it is the dignity and calm firinness which characterised the close of his public life, and the grace and cultivation which attended him in his retirement, that particularly win our admiration, and make us regard him as equal to Sully in integrity, and superior to Cicero as a practical philosopher.

Perhaps the most comprehensive panegyric as to the requisites he possessed for a practical statesinan was pronounced by Hume," that he was a man whom philosophy had taught to despise the world, without rendering him unfit for it; that he was frank, open, sincere, and superior to the little tricks of vulgar politicians.” *

Of how many men of ambition, who have passed their lives in its contests, can this be said ? and how do we not honour the person to whom it can

[ocr errors]

* Hist. vii, 433.

justly be applied ? That it peculiariy belonged to the character of Temple, everything we read of him and in him testifies. All that we know of his actions and habits, the course of his life, the manner in which he conducted the greatest public affairs, the pursuits that elevated and gilded his private life; the studies of his closet, their usefulness as well as elegance; the polish of his manners, his liberal literature, and the respect paid by all to the weight of his character, both at home and abroad; all these tell of his excellence in a degree and universality which delight us in his history, and seem to elevate ourselves in elevating the common nature to which we belong. But it is the pure and unaffected independence of his mind, so superior to all the pomp of power or vain glory; proposing nature and the intrinsic value of things as the only objects worth cultivating, and uniformly, therefore, despising, for their sakes, all false glosses and trappings which lead so many brilliant but weaker men astray; it is this which chiefly fixes our admiration, and inspires our attachment. Hence, when the Arlingtons, the Cliffords, and the Shaftesburys, the Danbys, and the Buckinghams of the times were pursuing a wicked race of corruption, venality, and bad faith, of disaffection and even treason, for the sake of their own power, this accomplished minister and honest man, this able statesman and true patriot, showed that the one object that pointed his exertions was the real interest of his king, identifying it with that of his country; and, when thwarted in this, he proved with

« НазадПродовжити »