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Birth and Parentage Educated under a Private Tutor Represents East Grinstead in the Restoration Parliament - His Early Dissipation
His Valour and Gaiety Writes a famous Ballad at Sea, “To all you ladies now at land’ — Created Earl of Middlesex Succeeds his Father as Earl of Dorset Sides with the Prince of Orange against James II. - Twice Married — His Patronage of Poets Death at Bath, and Burial at Wythiam in Sussex.
Of the Earl of Dorset the character has been drawn so largely and so elegantly by Prior,' to whom he was familiarly known, that nothing can be added by a casual hand; and, as its author is so generally read, it would be useless officiousness to transcribe it.
CHARLES SACKVILLE was born January 24, 1637-8. Having been educated under a private tutor, he travelled into Italy, and returned a little before the Restoration. He was chosen into the first parliament that was called, for East Grinstead, in Sussex, and soon became a favourite of Charles II., but undertook no public employment, being too eager of the riotous and licentious pleasures which young men of high rank who aspired to be thought wits at that time imagined themselves entitled to indulge.
One of these frolics has, by the industry of Wood, come down to posterity. Sackville, who was then Lord Buckhurst, with Sir Charles Sedley and Sir Thomas Ogle, got drunk at the Cock, in Bow-street by Covent-garden, and, going into the balcony, exposed themselves to the populace in very indecent
1 In the Dedication of his Poems to the Earl's son.
? His mother was Frances Cranfield, daughter of Lionel Cranfield, Earl of Middlesex, by his second wife. The mother of Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham, was Elizabeth Cranfield, daughter of the same nobleman by his first wife.
3 Wood's account of his own Life (ed. Bliss, 1848), p. 137.
postures. At last, as they grew warmer, Sedley stood forth naked and harangued the populace in such profane language that the public indignation was awakened ; the crowd attempted to force the door, and, being repulsed, drove in the performers with stones, and broke the windows of the house.
For this misdemeanor they were indicted, and Sedley was fined five hundred pounds : what was the sentence of the others is not known. Sedley employed Killigrew * and another to procure a remission from the King; but (mark the friendship of the dissolute !) they begged the fine for themselves, and exacted it to the last groat.
In 1665 Lord Buckhurst attended the Duke of York as a volunteer in the Dutch war, and was in the battle of June 3rd, when eighteen great Dutch ships were taken, fourteen others were destroyed, and Opdam the admiral, who engaged the Duke, was blown up beside him, with all his crew.
On the day before the battle he is said to have composed the celebrated song, ‘To all you ladies now at land,' with equal tranquillity of mind and promptitude of wit. Seldom any splendid story is wholly true. I have heard from the late Earl of Orrery," who was likely to have good hereditary intelligence, that Lord Buckhurst had been a week employed upon it, and only retouched or finished it on the memorable evening. But even this, whatever it may subtract from his facility, leaves him his courage.
He was soon after made a gentleman of the bedchamber, and sent on short embassies to France.
Henry Killigrew, son of the celebrated Thomas. * By Prior.
6 Pepys is thought to refer to it at a still earlier period :-“2nd January, 1664-5. To my Lord Brouncker's, by appointment, in the Piazza in Covent Garden, where I occasioned much mirth with a ballet I brought with me, made from the seamen at sea to their ladies in town, saying Sir W. Pen, Sir G. Ascue, and Sir J. Lawson made them.”
The song is printed (I believe for the first time in any collection of poems) in Lintot's Miscellany Poems, 8vo., 1712, and is there called ' A Song, written at sea by the late Earl of Dorset, in the first Dutch War.'
? John, fifth Earl of Orrery (born 1707, died 1762), author of a well-known volume of Letters on Swift. Fenton, the poet, had been his tutor.
8 One embassy was, as Dryden is said to have called it, “a sleeveless 9 She was the widow of the Earl of Falmouth, and is attacked by Lord Mul. grave, in his Essay on Satire, as
DEATH AND BURIAL.
In 1674 the estate of his uncle, James Cranfield, Earl of Middlesex, came to him by its owner's death, and the title was conferred on him the year after. In 1677 he became, by the death of his father, Earl of Dorset, and inherited the estate of his family.
In 1684, having buried his first wife, of the family of Bagot, who left him no child,' he married a daughter of the Earl of Northampton, celebrated both for beauty and understanding.
He received some favourable notice from King James; but soon found it necessary to oppose the violence of his innovations, and with some other Lords appeared in Westminster Hall to countenance the Bishops at their trial.
As enormities grew every day less supportable, he found it necessary to concur in the Revolution. He was one of those Lords who sat every day in council to preserve the public peace after the King's departure; and, what is not the most illustrious action of his life, was employed to conduct the Princess Anne to Nottingham, with a guard, such as might alarm the populace as they passed with false apprehensions of her danger. Whatever end may be designed, there is always something despicable in a trick.
He became, as may be easily supposed, a favourite of King William, who, the day after his accession, made him lordchamberlain of the household, and gave him afterwards the Garter. He happened to be among those that were tossed, with the King, in an open boat sixteen hours, in very rough and cold weather, on the coast of Holland. His health afterwards declined ; and, on January 29, 1705-6, he died at Bath.10
errand.” Charles II. had become enamoured of Nell Gwyn, with whom Lord Buckhurst was then living, and a short embassy was invented by the King to get rid of his rival.
A teeming widow, but a barren wife. There is a fine portrait of her at Althorp. His second wife is among the Kneller beauties at Hampton Court.
"" He was buried in the Sackville vault, in the church of Wythiam, in
He was a man whose elegance and judgment were universally confessed, and whose bounty to the learned and witty was generally known.
To the indulgent affection of the public Lord Rochester bore ample testimony in this remark :-“I know not how it is, but Lord Buckhurst may do what he will, yet is never in the wrong.'
If such a man attempted poetry, we cannot wonder that his
Sussex. There are several good portraits of him by Kneller, at Knowle, the princely seat of the Sackvilles, in Kent. His son was the first Duke of Dorset. He was fed with dedications. Dryden dedicates to him his Essay on Dramatic Poesy and his translation of Juvenal; Shadwell dedicates three plays to him, and Nat Lee a like number; Etherege dedicated to him his 'Love in a Tub,' Otway his Alcibiades,' Crowne his 'Country Wit,' Tate his ‘Brutus of Alba ;' D'Urfey his second part of 'Don Quixote,' and Congreve his Love for Love.' His after rival as a patron-Charles Montague, Lord Halifax-addressed his poem to him on the occasion of King William's victory in Ireland, and Ambrose Philips's best poem is an epistle to Lord Dorset. Nor were poets alone complimentary, for Dennis dedicates to him his volume of remarks on Blackmore's • Prince Arthur.' Further diligence might doubtless add to this incense of the muse offered to the witty Earl of Dorset. To Brady he gave the living of Stratford-upon-Avon, and Sir Fleetwood Shephard, the wit, participated in his bounty, and died in his country seat at Copt Hall, in Essex. To end all, Pope wrote his epitaph.
" Prior's Dedication. “It is told by Prior, in a panegyric on the Earl of Dorset, that his servants used to put themselves in his way when he was angry, because he was sure to recompense them for any indignities which he made them suffer. This is the round of a passionate man's life. He contracts debts when he is furious, which his virtue, if he has virtue, obliges him to discharge at the return of reason. He spends his time in outrages and acknowledgment, injury and reparation. Or, if there be any who hardens himself in oppression, and justifies the wrong because he has done it, his insensibility can make small part of his praise or his happiness; he only adds deliberate to hasty folly, aggravates petulance by contumacy, and destroys the only plea that he can offer for the tenderness and patience of mankind.”—JOHNSON: The Rambler, No. 11.
For pointed satire I would Buckhurst choose-
Earl of Rochester, The subject of this book confines me to satire, and in that an author of your own quality, whose ashes I will not disturb, has given you all the commendation which his self-sufficiency could afford to any man. The best good man with the worst natur'd muse, In that character methinks I am reading Jonson's verses to the memory of Shakespeare; an insolent, sparing, and invidious panegyric, where good-nature, the most godlike commendation of a man, is only attributed to your person and denied to your writings. -DRYDEN: Ded. of Juvenal (1693) to the Earl of Dorset.