Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

those of his poetry, of which a short time has withered the beauties. It would now be esteemed no honour, by a contributor to the monthly bundles of verses, to be told, that, in strains either familiar or solemn, he sings like Montague.!4

14 I will now give an account of what I knew of my Lord Halifax, who a long time was a great Whig. He was of a family, but as a younger brother he had but 501. a year, with which he could make no great figure. The first thing he was cried up for was something from whence he was called Mouse Montague. I do not know any other way to describe it. But it was extremely liked, and I think it was written in King James's reign, or the latter end of King Charles's. I do not know by whose means, but he got into the Treasury, and Lord Go. dolphin raised his fortune. He read extremely agreeably, and having a good deal of that business to do, my Lord Godolphin was pleased with him. I believe he had some talents, particularly a great knack at making pretty ballads. But my Lords Marlborough and Godolphin used to say the same thing of him as they did of Mr. Walpole, “that they were both useful, but neither of them had any judgment.” Lord Halifax had a vast deal of vanity, and as much covetousness; for I have seen several letters of his, in which he was always soliciting to get more money than he ought to have had. He loved dedications and everything of that sort. I remember one thing more, extremely wretched, or rather mean. He sent me once a book written by one of his people, upon the subject that he knew I liked, and he told me the author was very honest but poor, upon which I gave him 1001. And I am very sure if he gave this writer anything, it was from himself, without letting him know it was from me.

He was so great a manager, that when he dined alone I know he eat upon pewter, for fear of lessening the value of his plate by cleaning it often. He was a frightful figure, and yet pretended to be a lover, and followed several beauties, who laughed at him for it. .. I shall only add to this description of him, that he was as renowned for illbreeding as Sir Robert Walpole is.-SARAH DUCHESS OF MARLBOROUGH : Cor. respondence, ii. 144, 2nd ed.

No one had basked more largely in the sunshine of the new Court: he had received from its bounty an Earldom, the Garter, and the office of First Lord of the Treasury. Other men murmured at this rapid accumulation of favours. To himself, on the contrary, they all seemed inferior to his merit. He aimed at the great post of Lord Treasurer-a post never revived under the Georges; and, finding this withheld from him, did not scruple to enter into negotiations with his political opponents, and plot with them against his party and his principles. Happily for his reputation, these cabals were interrupted by his death. Halifax was justly renowned for the literary talents which he possessed himself and patronised in others; for his skill in tinance; for his eloquence in debate; for his activity in business. He was, however, better fitted—in his later years at least - to adorn than to lead a party. Marlborough, in his private letters, has with his usual admirable discrimination of characters touched upon the weak point of this: “I agree with you that Lord Halifax has no other principle but his ambition; so that he would put all in distraction rather than not gain his point.” And again : “If he had no other fault but his unreasonable vanity, that alone would be capable of making him guilty of any fault."Mahon: Hist. of England, i. 196, ed. 1839.

THOMAS PARNELL.

PARNELL.

1679-1718.

a

1

Born at Dublin Educated at Trinity College, Dublin - Made Arch

deacon of Clogher — Marries — Loses his Wife — Introduced to Swift

and Pope. The Life of Dr. Parnell is a task which I should very willingly decline, since it has been lately written by Goldsmith,' a man of such variety of powers, and such felicity of performance, that he always seemed to do best that which he was doing ; a man who had the art of being minute without tediousness, and general without confusion ; whose language was copious without exuberance, exact without constraint, and easy without weakness.

What such an author has told, who would tell again? I have made an abstract from his larger narrative; and have this gratification from my attempt, that it gives me an opportunity of paying due tribute to the memory of Goldsmith.

Το γαρ γέρας έστι θανόντων. Thomas Parnell was the son of a commonwealthman of the same name, who at the Restoration left Congleton in Cheshire, where the family had been established for several centuries, and, settling in Ireland, purchased an estate, which, with his lands in Cheshire, descended to the poet, who was born at Dublin in 1679 : and, after the usual education at a grammar school, was at the age of thirteen admitted into the college, where, in 1700 [July 9], he became Master of Arts, and was the same year ordained a deacon, though under the canonical age, by a dispensation from the Bishop of Derry.

About three years afterwards he was made a priest ; and in

Prefixed to an edition of Parnell's Poems, published, July 1770, by T. Davies.

2

3

1705 [February 9] Dr. Ashe, the Bishop of Clogher, conferred upon him the Archdeaconry of Clogher. About the same time he married Mrs. Anne Minchin,” an amiable lady, by whom he had two sons who died young, and a daughter who long survived him.

At the ejection of the Whigs, in the end of Queen Anne's reign, Parnell was persuaded to change his party, not without much censure from those whom he forsook, and was received by the new ministry as a valuable reinforcement. When the Earl of Oxford was told that Dr. Parnell waited among the crowd in the outer room, he went by the persuasion of Swift, with his treasurer's staff in his hand, to inquire for him, and to bid him welcome; and, as may be inferred from Pope's dedication, admitted him as a favourite companion to his convivial hours, but, as it seems often to have happened in those times to the favourites of the great, without attention to his fortune, which, however, was in no great need of improvement.

Parnell, who did not want ambition or vanity, was desirous to make himself conspicuous, and to show how worthy he was of high preferment. As he thought himself qualified to become a popular preacher, he displayed his elocution with great success in the pulpits of London ; but the Queen's deathputting an end to his expectations, abated his diligence; and Pope represents him as falling from that time into intemperance of wine. That in his latter life he was too much a lover of the bottle, is not denied; but I have heard it imputed to a cause more likely to obtain forgiveness from mankind, the untimely death of a darling son ; or, as others tell, the loss of his wife, who died [1711] in the midst of his expectations.“

5

6

2 Though Johnson is following Goldsmith throughout this memoir, he has not copied him in this instance. Goldsmith calls her Miss Anne Minchin. Miss for many years, from 1670 to 1770, meant a woman of lewd character. In Charles the Second's reign, Anne Killigrew, the vestal virgin of the skies, was called Mrs. Anne Killigrew, and in George the Third's reign Sir Joshua Reynolds's unmarried sister was known as Mrs. Frances Reynolds.

3 Journal to Stella, 31st Jan. 1712-13. (Scott's Swift, iii. 106.) 4 Queen Anne, who died 1st Aug. 1714.

5 Or rather represented him to Warburton (Ruffhead's Life of Pope, p. 492). Compare Spence by Singer, p. 139; Boswell by Croker, ed. 1847, p. 546.

6 24th Aug. 1711. I am heartily sorry for poor Mrs. Parnell's death; she

« PředchozíPokračovat »