Зображення сторінки

resign the Cabinet from the opposition, if not illusage of men (with the exception of Walpole) far his inferiors, and therefore had at least as many provocations to engender spleen as Swift, his mind was (unlike Swift's) too genuinely free from it, to retire under the slightest suspicion of being under its influence. On the contrary, never was office, after so long an enjoyment of it *, laid down with so much dignity, the dignity of principle and self-respect. The account of it by Coxe, though in the biography of his successful rivals, and therefore not likely to be misrepresented in his favour, is gratifying in every point to him who studies human nature in studying history. “ Townshend,” says the Archdeacon, “ retired with a most unsullied character for integrity, honour, and disinterestedness, and gave several striking proofs that he could command the natural warmth of his temper, and rise superior to the malignant influence of party-spirit and disappointed ambition. The Opposition, who had formed sanguine expectations of the consequences of the disunion in the Cabinet, were prepared to receive him with open arms; but he resisted their advances, and firmly persevered in his original determination. I Soon after Chesterfield commenced his ardent opposition to Walpole, he went to Rainham, and requested Townshend to attend an important question in the House of Lords. Townshend replied, that he had formed a resolution, which he would not


With the exception of the not quite four years of the Tory administration, it lasted almost continuously from 1709 to 1730. + Walpole.

† Not to return to party politics.

break, of never again engaging in political contests. “I recollect,” he added, “ that Lord Cowper, though a staunch Whig, had been betrayed by personal pique and party resentment, in his opposition to the Ministry, to throw himself into the arms of the Tories, and even to support principles which tended to serve the cause of the Jacobites. I know that I am extremely warm, and I am apprehensive, if I should attend the House of Lords, I also may be hurried away by my temper, and by personal resentment, to adopt a line of conduct which in my cooler moments I may regret." Coxe adds: “ He maintained this honourable and patriotic resolution, and thus proved himself worthy of the highest eulogium.”

“ He passed the evening of his days in the pursuit of rural occupations and agricultural experiments; his improvements ameliorated the state of husbandry*, his hospitality endeared him to his neighbours, and the dignity of his character insured respect. Apprehensive of being tempted again to enter into those scenes of active life which he had resolved totally to abandon, he never revisited the capital, but died at Rainham, in 1738, aged sixty-four.” Thus far Coxe. † Can we add any thing to such a character, as an example of honourable and well-regulated ambition ?

[ocr errors]



They did more than ameliorate, they created it anew; for whereas Norfolk was of so light a soil, that, in ridicule, it was said it might be ploughed with a carving-knife and a couple of rabbits, the introduction of the sward and turnip husbandry made it what it now is; and this owed its rise chiefly to this real patriot and truly wise man. How mean, with all their wit, are the selfish Swift and Bolingbroke in comparison !

† Memoirs of Walpole, 4to, 338,

No. IX.


4 Thou

Art not without ambition, but without
The illness should attend it.”


It is refreshing to a mind occupied with this subject, that there are other characters which, in the true principles of a wise moderation, resemble the lastnamed excellent person.

Of these one somewhat nearer to our own times, and remarkable for the refusal, rather than the enjoyment, of power, was Lord Waldegrave, whose recent “ Memoirs,” by himself, forin a valuable acquisition to the library of either a politician or retired observer of the world. Though on his tomb was engraved, by his beautiful and accomplished widow (" once," as she described her. self, “ his most happy wife, now the remembrancer of his virtues”), that“ ambition visited him not, and contentment filled his hours;” still, in the whole

range of the more real votaries of this passion, no man stood so distinguished by the king, or so high in the estimation of all. Indeed, for sense, honour, and vigour, however careless of office, he yielded to none of the nobles of the court, and was far above most of those who actually administered the state. As governor to the prince (afterwards George III.), he had to un.


dergo many disagreeable things, from the wish of the family to disgust him, and place Lord Bute in his

This his attachment to the king made him long bear, though his high sense of independence resisted it, letting them, as he says, civilly understand that he feared their anger no more than he had deserved it. It, however, in time worked upon his patience so much, that nothing but his duty to his sovereign, who wished him to remain, kept him from resigning; and, from his character, we believe him when he says he could have quitted his Royal Highness, and given up all future hopes of court preferment, without the least regret or uneasiness. When he applied for relief to the Duke of Newcastle, we have an amusing picture of the difference between the men. “ The duke," “ had not the least conception how my

situation could be so very unpleasant, measuring, perhaps, my feelings by his own, and thinking that, from long attendance at court, with four years' practice in the school of politics, I must have lost all sensibility.” Having obtained his dismissal by applying to the king himself, the latter, with fair and just liberality, perceiving that he had incurred the displeasure at Leicester House from his attachment to him (the king), ordered the duke to prepare a grant of a pension of 20001. a year for life, as a remuneration for his services. This, no less, we suppose, to the duke's astonishment than his uneasiness in place, he refused, though he afterwards accepted the reversion of a Tellership of the Exchequer, as it would cause no clamour, he says, like a pension, while it would

he says,

[ocr errors]


not diminish the revenue. Previously to the reversion falling in, he was made Warden of the Stannaries, but which, when the Tellership fell, he resigned, telling the king (no doubt again to the surprise of the duke), that the place of Teller alone was as much as any man was entitled to, and as much as he either wanted or wished. But now came temptation, not merely to his ambition, but to his sincere attachment to the king, who complained, and with reason, of the desertion of his servants, who had left him without a friend. The place of prime minister was offered him, and this time, from conscientious insufficiency, declined. The distress, however, increased ; the king complained; he besought, he implored, and at last succeeded; and we cannot but love this ingenuous man for the manner in which he relates the event. He told the king that his insufficiency would soon appear, and that any supposed influence drawn from his known independence would vanish in an instant; that prudence and diligence could only be rated among the inferior qualities of a First Lord of the Treasury; and that a minister must expect few followers, who had never cultivated political friendships, and had always abhorred party violence. But these and many other reasons, continues this estimable and honest-minded noble, having not the least effect on the king, who, he says, continued to press me in the strongest and most affecting terms, and “partly moved by his distress, partly by his persuasion, or perhaps fired by some latent spark of pride or ambition" (observe and respect the honesty

« НазадПродовжити »