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Title: The Wits and Beaux of Society - Volume 1
Author: Wharton, Grace, 1797-1862, Wharton, Philip, 1834-1860
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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      New Edition with a Preface


  _And the original illustrations by_

         TWO VOLS.--VOL. I.

              New York




May I write your name on the dedication page of this new edition of an
old and pleasant book in token of our common interest in the people and
the periods of which it treats, and as a small proof of our friendship?

      Sincerely yours,

LONDON, _July, 1890._


    PREFACE TO THE PRESENT EDITION                               p. xi
    PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION                                p. xxv
    PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION                                 p. xxix


  Signs of the Restoration.--Samuel Pepys in his Glory.--A Royal
      Company.--Pepys 'ready to Weep.'--The Playmate of Charles
      II.--George Villiers's Inheritance.--Two Gallant Young
      Noblemen.--The Brave Francis Villiers.--After the Battle of
      Worcester.--Disguising the King.--Villiers in Hiding.--He
      appears as a Mountebank.--Buckingham's Habits.--A Daring
      Adventure.--Cromwell's Saintly Daughter.--Villiers and the
      Rabbi.--The Buckingham Pictures and Estates.--York
      House.--Villiers returns to England.--Poor Mary
      Fairfax.--Villiers in the Tower.--Abraham Cowley, the
      Poet.--The Greatest Ornament of Whitehall.--Buckingham's Wit
      and Beauty.--Flecknoe's Opinion of Him.--His Duel with the Earl
      of Shrewsbury.--Villiers as a Poet.--As a Dramatist.--A Fearful
      Censure!--Villiers's Influence in Parliament.--A Scene in the
      Lords.--The Duke of Ormond in Danger.--Colonel Blood's
      Outrages.--Wallingford House and Ham House.--'Madame
      Ellen.'--The Cabal.--Villiers again in the Tower.--A
      Change.--The Duke of York's Theatre.--Buckingham and the
      Princess of Orange.--His last Hours.--His Religion.--Death of
      Villiers.--The Duchess of Buckingham.                      p. 1


  De Grammont's Choice.--His Influence with Turenne.--The Church or
      the Army?--An Adventure at Lyons.--A brilliant Idea.--De
      Grammont's Generosity.--A Horse 'for the
      Cards.'--Knight-Cicisbeism.--De Grammont's first Love.--His
      Witty Attacks on Mazarin.--Anne Lucie de la Mothe
      Houdancourt.--Beset with Snares.--De Grammont's Visits to
      England.--Charles II.--The Court of Charles II.--Introduction
      of Country-dances.--Norman Peculiarities.--St. Evremond, the
      Handsome Norman.--The most Beautiful Woman in Europe.--Hortense
      Mancini's Adventures.--Madame Mazarin's House at
      Chelsea.--Anecdote of Lord Dorset.--Lord Rochester in his
      Zenith.--His Courage and Wit--Rochester's Pranks in the
      City.--Credulity, Past and Present--'Dr. Bendo,' and La Belle
      Jennings.--La Triste Heritière.--Elizabeth, Countess of
      Rochester.--Retribution and Reformation.--Conversion.--Beaux
      without Wit.--Little Jermyn.--An Incomparable Beauty.--Anthony
      Hamilton, De Grammont's Biographer.--The Three Courts.--'La
      Belle Hamilton.'--Sir Peter Lely's Portrait of her.--The
      Household Deity of Whitehall.--Who shall have the Calèche?--A
      Chaplain in Livery.--De Grammont's Last Hours.--What might he
      not have been?                                             p. 41


  On Wits and Beaux.--Scotland Yard in Charles II.'s day.--Orlando of
      'The Tatler.'--Beau Fielding, Justice of the Peace.--Adonis in
      Search of a Wife.--The Sham Widow.--Ways and Means.--Barbara
      Villiers, Lady Castlemaine.--Quarrels with the King.--The
      Beau's Second Marriage.--The Last Days of Fops and Beaux.  p. 80


  The Origin of Clubs.--The Establishment of Coffee-houses.--The
      October Club.--The Beef-steak Club.--Of certain other
      Clubs.--The Kit-kat Club.--The Romance of the Bowl.--The Toasts
      of the Kit-kat.--The Members of the Kit-kat.--A good Wit, and a
      bad Architect.--'Well-natured Garth.'--The Poets of the
      Kit-kat.--Charles Montagu, Earl of Halifax.--Chancellor
      Somers.--Charles Sackville, Lord Dorset.--Less celebrated
      Wits.                                                      p. 91


  When and where was he born?--The Middle Temple.--Congreve finds his
      Vocation.--Verses to Queen Mary.--The Tennis-court
      Theatre.--Congreve abandons the Drama.--Jeremy Collier.--The
      Immorality of the Stage.--Very improper Things.--Congreve's
      Writings.--Jeremy's 'Short Views.'--Rival Theatres.--Dryden's
      Funeral.--A Tub-Preacher.--Horoscopic Predictions.--Dryden's
      Solicitude for his Son.--Congreve's Ambition.--Anecdote of
      Voltaire and Congreve.--The Profession of Mæcenas.--Congreve's
      Private Life.--'Malbrook's' Daughter.--Congreve's Death and
      Burial.                                                    p. 106


  The King of Bath.--Nash at Oxford.--'My Boy Dick.'--Offers of
      Knighthood.--Doing Penance at York.--Days of Folly.--A very
      Romantic Story.--Sickness and Civilization.--Nash descends upon
      Bath.--Nash's Chef-d'oeuvre.--The Ball.--Improvements in the
      Pump-room, &c.--A Public Benefactor.--Life at Bath in Nash's
      time.--A Compact with the Duke of Beaufort.--Gaming at
      Bath.--Anecdotes of Nash.--'Miss Sylvia.'--A Generous
      Act.--Nash's Sun setting.--A Panegyric.--Nash's Funeral.--His
      Characteristics.                                           p. 127


  Wharton's Ancestors.--His Early Years.--Marriage at
      Sixteen.--Wharton takes leave of his Tutor.--The Young Marquis
      and the Old Pretender.--Frolics at Paris.--Zeal for the Orange
      Cause.--A Jacobite Hero.--The Trial of Atterbury.--Wharton's
      Defence of the Bishop.--Hypocritical Signs of Penitence.--Sir
      Robert Walpole duped.--Very Trying.--The Duke of Wharton's
      'Whens.'--Military Glory at Gibraltar.--'Uncle
      Horace.'--Wharton to 'Uncle Horace.'--The Duke's
      Impudence.--High Treason.--Wharton's Ready Wit.--Last
      Extremities.--Sad Days in Paris.--His Last Journey to
      Spain.--His Death in a Bernardine Convent.                 p. 148


  George II. arriving from Hanover.--His Meeting with the
      Queen.--Lady Suffolk.--Queen Caroline.--Sir Robert
      Walpole.--Lord Hervey.--A Set of Fine Gentlemen.--An Eccentric
      Race.--Carr, Lord Hervey.--A Fragile Boy.--Description of
      George II.'s Family.--Anne Brett.--A Bitter Cup.--The Darling
      of the Family.--Evenings at St. James's.--Frederick, Prince of
      Wales.--Amelia Sophia Walmoden.--Poor Queen Caroline!--Nocturnal
      Diversions of Maids of Honour.--Neighbour George's Orange
      Chest.--Mary Lepel, Lady Hervey.--Rivalry.--Hervey's Intimacy
      with Lady Mary.--Relaxations of the Royal Household.--Bacon's
      Opinion of Twickenham.--A Visit to Pope's Villa.--The Little
      Nightingale.--The Essence of Small Talk.--Hervey's Affectation
      and Effeminacy.--Pope's Quarrel with Hervey and Lady
      Mary.--Hervey's Duel with Pulteney.--'The Death of Lord Hervey:
      a Drama.'--Queen Caroline's last Drawing-room.--Her Illness and
      Agony.--A Painful Scene.--The Truth discovered.--The Queen's
      Dying Bequests.--The King's Temper.--Archbishop Potter is sent
      for.--The Duty of Reconciliation.--The Death of Queen
      Caroline.--A Change in Hervey's Life.--Lord Hervey's
      Death.--Want of Christianity.--Memoirs of his Own Time.    p. 170


  The King of Table Wits.--Early Years.--Hervey's Description of his
      Person.--Resolutions and Pursuits.--Study of Oratory.--The
      Duties of an Ambassador.--King George II.'s Opinion of his
      Chroniclers.--Life in the Country.--Melusina, Countess of
      Walsingham.--George II. and his Father's Will.--Dissolving
      Views.--Madame du Bouchet.--The Broad-Bottomed
      Administration.--Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland in Time of
      Peril.--Reformation of the Calendar.--Chesterfield
      House.--Exclusiveness.--Recommending 'Johnson's
      Dictionary.'--'Old Samuel,' to Chesterfield.--Defensive
      Pride.--The Glass of Fashion.--Lord Scarborough's Friendship
      for Chesterfield.--The Death of Chesterfield's Son.--His
      Interest in his Grandsons.--'I must go and Rehearse my
      Funeral.'--Chesterfield's Will.--What is a Friend?--Les
      Manières Nobles.--Letters to his Son.                      p. 210


  An Eastern Allegory.--Who comes Here?--A Mad Freak and its
      Consequences.--Making an Abbé of him.--The May-Fair of
      Paris.--Scarron's Lament to Pellisson.--The Office of the
      Queen's Patient.--'Give me a Simple Benefice.'--Scarron's
      Description of Himself.--Improvidence and Servility.--The
      Society at Scarron's.--The Witty Conversation.--Francoise
      D'Aubigné's Début.--The Sad Story of La Belle
      Indienne.--Matrimonial Considerations.--'Scarron's Wife will
      live for ever.'--Petits Soupers.--Scarron's last Moments.--A
      Lesson for Gay and Grave.                                  p. 235


  Rank and Good Breeding.--The Hôtel de Rochefoucault.--Racine and
      his Plays.--La Rochefoucault's Wit and Sensibility.--Saint-Simon's
      Youth.--Looking out for a Wife.--Saint-Simon's Court Life.--The
      History of Louise de la Vallière.--A mean Act of Louis
      Quatorze.--All has passed away.--Saint-Simon's Memoirs of His
      Own Time.                                                  p. 253




WHARTON'S ROGUISH PRESENT                              (_Frontispiece_)



BEAU FIELDING AND THE SHAM WIDOW                                      85


POPE AT HIS VILLA--DISTINGUISHED VISITORS                            194

A ROYAL ROBBER                                                       217

DR. JOHNSON AT LORD CHESTERFIELD'S                                   226



When Grace and Philip Wharton found that they had pleased the world with
their "Queens of Society," they very sensibly resolved to follow up
their success with a companion work. Their first book had been all about
women; the second book should be all about men. Accordingly they set to
work selecting certain types that pleased them; they wrote a fresh
collection of pleasant essays and presented the reading public with
"Wits and Beaux of Society". The one book is as good as the other; there
is not a pin to choose between them. There is the same bright easy,
gossiping style, the same pleasing rapidity. There is nothing tedious,
nothing dull anywhere. They do not profess to have anything to do with
the graver processes of history--these entertaining volumes; they seek
rather to amuse than to instruct, and they fulfil their purpose
excellently. There is instruction in them, but it comes in by the way;
one is conscious of being entertained, and it is only after the
entertainment is over that one finds that a fair amount of information
has been thrown in to boot. The Whartons have but old tales to tell, but
they tell them very well, and that is the first part of their business.

Looking over these articles is like looking over the list of a good
club. Men are companionable creatures; they love to get together and
gossip. It is maintained, and with reason, that they are fonder of their
own society than women are. Men delight to breakfast together, to take
luncheon together, to dine together, to sup together. They rejoice in
clubs devoted exclusively to their service, as much taboo to women as a
trappist monastery. Women are not quite so clannish. There are not very
many women's clubs in the world; it is not certain that those which do
exist are very brilliant or very entertaining. Women seldom give supper
parties, "all by themselves they" after the fashion of that "grande dame
de par le monde" of whom we have spoken elsewhere. A woman's
dinner-party may succeed now and then by way of a joke, but it is a joke
that is not often repeated. Have we not lately seen how an institution
with a graceful English name, started in London for women and women
only, has just so far relaxed its rigid rule as to allow men upon its
premises between certain hours, and this relaxation we are told has been
conceded in consequence of the demand of numerous ladies. Well, well, if
men can on the whole get on better without the society of women than
women can without the society of men it is no doubt because they are
rougher creatures, moulded of a coarser clay, and are more entertained
by eating and drinking, smoking and the telling of tales than women are.

If all the men whom the Whartons labelled as wits and beaux of society
could be gathered together they would make a most excellent club in the
sense in which a club was understood in the last century. Johnson
thought that he had praised a man highly when he called him a clubbable
man, and so he had for those days which dreamed not of vast caravanserai
calling themselves clubs and having thousands of members on their roll,
the majority of whom do not know more than perhaps ten of their fellow
members from Adam. In the sense that Dr. Johnson meant, all these wits
and beaux whom our Whartons have gathered together were eminently
clubbable. If some such necromancer could come to us as he who in
Tourguenieff's story conjures up the shade of Julius Cæsar; and if in an
obliging way he could make these wits and beaux greet us: if such a
spiritualistic society as that described by Mr. Stockton in one of his
diverting stories could materialise them all for our benefit: then one
might count with confidence upon some very delightful company and some
very delightful talk. For the people whom the Whartons have been good
enough to group together are people of the most fascinating variety.
They have wit in common and goodfellowship, they were famous
entertainers in their time; they add to the gaiety of nations still. The
Whartons have given what would in America be called a "Stag Party". If
we join it we shall find much entertainment thereat.

Do people read Theodore Hook much nowadays? Does the generation which
loves to follow the trail with Allan Quatermain, and to ride with a
Splendid Spur, does it call at all for the humours of the days of the
Regency? Do those who have laughed over "The Wrong Box," ever laugh over
Jack Brag? Do the students of Mr. Rudyard Kipling know anything of
"Gilbert Gurney?" Somebody started the theory some time ago, that this
was not a laughter-loving generation, that it lacked high spirits. It
has been maintained that if a writer appeared now, with the rollicking
good spirits, and reckless abandon of a Lever, he would scarcely win a
warm welcome. We may be permitted to doubt this conclusion; we are as
fond of laughter as ever, as ready to laugh if somebody will set us
going. Mr. Stevenson prefers of late to be thought grim in his fiction,
but he has set the sides shaking, both over that "Wrong Box" which we
spoke of, and in earlier days. We are ready to laugh with Stockton from
overseas, with our own Anstey, with anybody who has the heart to be
merry, and the wit to make his mirth communicable. But, it may be
doubted if we read our Lever quite as much as a wise doctor, who
happened also to be a wise man of letters, would recommend. And we may
well fancy that such a doctor dealing with a patient for whom laughter
was salutary--as for whom is it not salutary--would exhibit Theodore
Hook in rather large doses.

Undoubtedly the fun is a little old fashioned, but it is none the worse
for that. Those who share Mr. Hardcastle's tastes for old wine and old
books will not like Theodore Hook any the less, because he does not
happen to be at all "Fin de Siècle". He is like Berowne in the comedy,
the merriest man--perhaps not always within the limits of becoming
mirth--to spend an hour's talk withal. There is no better key to the age
in which Hook glittered, than Hook's own stories. The London of that
day--the London which is as dead and gone as Nineveh or Karnak or
Troy--lives with extraordinary freshness in Theodore Hook's pages. And
how entertaining those pages are. It is not always the greatest writers
who are the most mirth provoking, but how much we owe to them. The man
must have no mirth in him if he fail to be tickled by the best of
Labiche's comedies, aye and the worst too, if such a term can be
applied to any of the enchanting series; if he refuse to unbend over "A
Day's Journey and a Life's Romance," if he cannot let himself go and
enjoy himself over Gilbert Gurney's river adventure. If the revival of
the Whartons' book were to serve no other purpose than to send some
laughter loving souls to the heady well-spring of Theodore Hook's
merriment, it would have done the mirthful a good turn and deserved well
of its country.

There is scarcely a queerer, or scarcely a more pathetic figure in the
world than that of Beau Brummell. He seems to belong to ancient history,
he and his titanic foppishness and his smart clothes and his smart
sayings. Yet is it but a little while since the last of his adorers, the
most devoted of his disciples passed away from the earth. Over in Paris
there lingered till the past year a certain man of letters who was very
brilliant and very poor and very eccentric. So long as people study
French literature, and care to investigate the amount of high artistic
workmanship which goes into even its minor productions, so long the name
of Barbey D'Aurevilly will have its niche--not a very large one, it is
true--in the temple. The author of that strange and beautiful story "Le
Chevalier des Touches," was a great devotee of Brummell's. He was
himself the "last of the dandies". All the money he had--and he had very
little of it--he spent in dandification. But he never moved with the
times. His foppishness was the foppishness of his youth, and to the last
he wandered through Paris clad in the splendour of the days when young
men were "lions," and when the quarrel between classicism and
romanticism was vital. He wrote a book about Beau Brummell and a very
curious little book it is, with its odd earnest defence of dandyism,
with its courageous championship of the arts which men of letters so
largely affect to despise.

Poor Beau Brummell. After having played his small part on life's stage,
his thin shade still occasionally wanders across the boards of the
theatre. Blanchard Jerrold wrote a play upon him, which was acted at the
Lyceum Theatre in 1859, when Emery played the title role. Jerrold's
play, which has for sub-title "The King of Calais," treats of that
period in Brummell's life in which he had retired across the channel to
live upon black-mail and to drift into that Consulship at Caen which he
so queerly resigned, to end a poor madman, trying to shave his own
peruke. Jerrold's is a grim play; either it or a version on the same
lines of Brummell's fall is being played across the Atlantic at this
very hour by Mr. Mansfield whose study of the final decay and idiotcy of
the famous beau is said to rival the impressiveness of his Mr. Hyde.
Beau Brummell is never likely to be quite forgotten. Folly often brings
with it a kind of immortality. The fool who fired the Temple of Ephesus
has secured his place in history with Aristides and Themistocles; the
fop who gave a kind of epic dignity to neck-clothes, and who asked the
famous "Who's your fat friend?" question, is remembered as a figure of
that age which includes the name of Sheridan and the name of Burke.

Another and a no less famous Beau steps to salute us from the pages of
the Whartons. Beau Nash is an old friend of ours in fiction, an old
friend in the drama. Our dear old Harrison Ainsworth wrote a novel about
him yesterday; to-day he figures in the pages of one of the most
attractive of Mr. Lewis Wingfield's attractive stories. He found his
way on to the stage under the care of Douglas Jerrold whose comedy of
manners was acted at the Haymarket in the midsummer of 1834. There is a
charm about these Beaux, these odd blossoms of last century
civilisation, the Brummells and the Nashes and the Fieldings, so "high
fantastical" in their bearing, such living examples of the eternal
verities contained in the clothes' philosophy of Herr Diogenes
Teufelsdröckh of Weissnichtwo. Their wigs were more important than their
wit; the pattern of their waistcoats more important than the composition
of their hearts; all morals, all philosophy are absorbed for them in the
engrossing question of the fit of their breeches. D'Artois is of their
kin, French d'Artois who helped to ruin the Old Order and failed to
re-create it as Charles the Tenth, d'Artois whom Mercier describes as
being poured into his faultlessly fitting breeches by the careful and
united efforts of no less than four valets de chambre. But the English
dandies were better than the Frenchman, for they did harm only to
themselves, while he helped to ruin his cause, his party, and his king.

As we turn the pages, we come to one name which immediately if
whimsically suggests poetry. The man was, like Touchstone's Audrey, not
poetical and yet a great poet has been pleased to address him, very much
as Pindar might have addressed the Ancestral Hero of some mighty tyrant.

    Ah, George Bubb Dodington Lord Melcombe--no,
    Yours was the wrong way!--always understand,
    Supposing that permissibly you planned
    How statesmanship--your trade--in outward show
    Might figure as inspired by simple zeal
    For serving country, king, and commonweal,
    (Though service tire to death the body, teaze
    The soul from out an o'ertasked patriot-drudge)
    And yet should prove zeal's outward show agrees
    In all respects--right reason being judge--
    With inward care that while the statesman spends
    Body and soul thus freely for the sake
    Of public good, his private welfare take
    No harm by such devotedness.

Thus Robert Browning in Robert Browning's penultimate book, that
"Parleyings with certain people of importance in their day" which fell
somewhat coldly upon all save Browning fanatics, and which, when it
seemed to show that the poet's hand had palsied, served only as the
discordant prelude to the swan song of "Asolando," the last and almost
the greatest of his glories. Perhaps only Browning would ever have
thought of undertaking a poetical parley with Bubb Dodington. Dodington
is now largely, and not undeservedly forgotten. His dinners and his
dresses, his poems and his pamphlets, his plays and his passions--the
wind has carried them all away. If Pope had not nicknamed him Bubo, if
Foote had not caricatured him in "The Patron," if Churchill had not
lampooned him in "The Rosciad," he would scarcely have earned in his own
day the notoriety which the publication of his "Diary" had in a manner
preserved to later days. If he was hardly worth a corner in the
Whartons' picture-gallery he was certainly scarcely deserving of the
attention of Browning. Even his ineptitude was hardly important enough
to have twenty pages of Browning's genius wasted upon it, twenty pages
ending with the sting about

                                     The scoff
    That greets your very name: folks see but one
    Fool more, as well as knave, in Dodington.

Dodington has been occasionally classed with Lord Hervey but the
classification is scarcely fair. With all his faults--and he had them in
abundance--Lord Hervey was a better creature than Bubb Dodington. If he
was effeminate, he had convictions and could stand by them. If Pope
sneered at him as Sporus and called him a curd of asses' milk, he has
left behind him some of the most brilliant memoirs ever penned. If he
had some faults in common with Dodington he was endowed with virtues of
which Dodington never dreamed.

The name of Lord Chesterfield is in the air just now. Within the last
few months the curiosity of the world has been stimulated and satisfied
by the publication of some hitherto unknown letters by Lord
Chesterfield. The pleasure which the student of history has taken in
this new find is just dimmed at this moment by the death of Lord
Carnarvon, whose care and scholarship gave them to the worlds. They are
indeed a precious possession. A very eminent French critic, M.
Brunetière, has inveighed lately with much justice against the passion
for raking together and bringing out all manner of unpublished writings.
He complains, and complains with justice, that while the existing
classics of literature are left imperfectly edited, if not ignored, the
activity of students is devoted to burrowing out all manner of
unimportant material, anything, everything, so long as it has not been
known beforehand to the world. The French critic protests against the
class of scholars who go into ecstacies over a newly discovered washing
list of Pascal or a bill from Racine's perruquier. The complaint tells
against us as well on our side of the Channel. We hear a great deal
about newly discovered fragments by this great writer and that great
writer, which are of no value whatever, except that they happen to be
new. But no such stricture applies to the letters of Lord Chesterfield
which the late Lord Carnarvon so recently gave to the world. They are a
valuable addition to our knowledge of the last century, a valuable
addition to our knowledge of the man who wrote them. And knowledge about
Lord Chesterfield is always welcome. Few of the famous figures of the
last century have been more misunderstood than he. The world is too
ready to remember Johnson's biting letter; too ready to remember the
cruel caricatures of Lord Hervey. Even the famous letters have been
taken too much at Johnson's estimate, and Johnson's estimate was
one-sided and unfair. A man would not learn the highest life from the
Chesterfield letters; they have little in common with the ethics of an A
Kempis, a Jean Paul Richter, or a John Stuart Mill. But they have their
value in their way, and if they contain some utterances so unutterably
foolish as those in which Lord Chesterfield expressed himself upon Greek
literature, they contain some very excellent maxims for the management
of social life. Nobody could become a penny the worse for the study of
Chesterfield; many might become the better. They are not a whit more
cynical than, indeed they are not so cynical as, those letters of
Thackeray's to young Brown, which with all their cleverness make us
understand what Mr. Henley means when in his "Views and Reviews" he
describes him as a "writer of genius who was innately and irredeemably a
Philistine". The letters of Lord Chesterfield would not do much to make
a man a hero, but there is little in literature more unheroic than the
letters to Mr. Thomas Brown the younger.

It is curious to contrast the comparative enthusiasm with which the
Whartons write about Horace Walpole with the invective of Lord Macaulay.
To the great historian Walpole was the most eccentric, the most
artificial, the most capricious of men, who played innumerable parts and
over-acted them all, a creature to whom whatever was little seemed great
and whatever was great seemed little. To Macaulay he was a
gentleman-usher at heart, a Republican whose Republicanism like the
courage of a bully or the love of a fribble was only strong and ardent
when there was no occasion for it, a man who blended the faults of Grub
Street with the faults of St. James's Street, and who united to the
vanity, the jealousy and the irritability of a man of letters, the
affected superciliousness and apathy of a man of ton. The Whartons
over-praise Walpole where Lord Macaulay under-rates him; the truth lies
between the two. He was not in the least an estimable or an admirable
figure, but he wrote admirable, indeed incomparable letters to which the
world is indebted beyond expression. If we can almost say that we know
the London of the last century as well as the London of to-day it is
largely to Horace Walpole's letters that our knowledge is due. They can
hardly be over-praised, they can hardly be too often read by the lover
of last century London. Horace Walpole affected to despise men of
letters. It is his punishment that his fame depends upon his letters,
those letters which, though their writer was all unaware of it, are
genuine literature, and almost of the best.

We could linger over almost every page of the Whartons' volumes, for
every page is full of pleasant suggestions. The name of George Villiers,
second Duke of Buckingham brings up at once a picture of perhaps the
brilliantest and basest period in English history. It brings up too
memories of a fiction that is even dearer than history, of that
wonderful romance of Dumas the Elder's, which Mr. Louis Stevenson has
placed among the half-dozen books that are dearest to his heart, the
"Vicomte de Bragelonne". Who that has ever followed, breathless and
enraptured, the final fortunes of that gallant quadrilateral of
musketeers will forget the part which is played by George Villiers, Duke
of Buckingham, in that magnificent prose epic? There is little to be
said for the real Villiers; he was a profligate and a scoundrel, and he
did not show very heroically in his quarrel with the fiery young Ossory.
It was one thing to practically murder Lord Shrewsbury; it was quite
another thing to risk the wrath and the determined right hand of the
Duke of Ormond's son. But the Villiers of Dumas' fancy is a fairer
figure and a finer lover, and it is pleasant after reading the pages in
which the authors of these essays trace the career of Dryden's epitome
to turn to those volumes of the great Frenchman, to read the account of
the duel with de Wardes and invoke a new blessing on the muse of

In some earlier volumes of the same great series we meet with yet
another figure who has his image in the Wharton picture gallery. In that
"crowded and sunny field of life"--the words are Mr. Stevenson's, and
they apply to the whole musketeer epic--that "place busy as a city,
bright as a theatre, thronged with memorable faces, and sounding with
delightful speech," the Abbé Scarron plays his part. It was here that
many of us met Scarron for the first time, and if we have got to know
him better since, we still remember with a thrill of pleasure that first
encounter when in the society of the matchless Count de la Fere and the
marvellous Aramis we made our bow in company with the young Raoul to the
crippled wit and his illustrious companions. The Whartons write brightly
about Scarron, but their best merit to my mind is that they at once
prompt a desire to go to that corner of the bookshelf where the eleven
volumes of the adventures of the immortal musketeers repose, and taking
down the first volume of "Vingt Ans Après" seek for the twenty-third
chapter, where Scarron receives society in his residence in the Rue des
Tournelles. There Scudery twirls his moustaches and trails his enormous
rapier and the Coadjutor exhibits his silken "Fronde". There the velvet
eyes of Mademoiselle d'Aubigné smile and the beauty of Madame de
Chevreuse delights, and all the company make fun of Mazarin and recite
the verses of Voiture.

There are others of these wits and beaux with whom we might like to
linger; but our space is running short; it is time to say good-bye.
Congreve the dramatist and gentleman, Rochefoucault the wit, Saint-Simon
the king of memoir-writers, Rochester and St. Evremond and de Grammont,
Selwyn and Sydney Smith and Sheridan each in turn appeals to us to tarry
a little longer. But it is time to say good-bye to these shadows of the
past with whom we have spent some pleasant hours. It is their duty now
to offer some pleasant hours to others.



In revising this Publication, it has scarcely been found necessary to
recall a single opinion relative to the subject of the Work. The general
impressions of characters adopted by the Authors have received little
modification from any remarks elicited by the appearance of 'The Wits
and Beaux of Society.'

It is scarcely to be expected that even _our_ descendants will know much
more of the Wits and Beaux of former days than we now do. The chests at
Strawberry Hill are cleared of their contents; Horace Walpole's latest
letters are before us; Pepys and Evelyn have thoroughly dramatized the
days of Charles II.; Lord Hervey's Memoirs have laid bare the darkest
secrets of the Court in which he figures; voluminous memoirs of the less
historic characters among the Wits and Beaux have been published; still
it is possible that some long-disregarded treasury of old letters, like
that in the Gallery at Wotton, may come to light. From that precious
deposit a housemaid--blotted for ever be her name from memory's
page--was purloining sheets of yellow paper, with antiquated writing on
them, to light her fires with, when the late William Upcott came to the
rescue, and saved Evelyn's 'Diary' for a grateful world. It is _just_
possible that such a discovery may again be made, and that the doings of
George Villiers, or the exile life of Wharton, or the inmost thoughts of
other Wits and Beaux may be made to appear in clearer lights than
heretofore; but it is much more likely that the popular opinions about
these witty, worthless men are substantially true.

All that has been collected, therefore, to form this work--and, as in
the 'Queens of Society,' every known source has been consulted--assumes
a sterling value as being collected; and, should hereafter fresh
materials be disinterred from any old library closet in the homes of
some one descendant of our heroes, advantage will be gladly taken to
improve, correct, and complete the lives.

One thing must, in justice, be said: if they have been written freely,
fearlessly, they have been written without passion or prejudice. The
writers, though not _quite_ of the stamp of persons who would never have
'dared to address' any of the subjects of their biography, 'save with
courtesy and obeisance,' have no wish to 'trample on the graves' of such
very amusing personages as the 'Wits and Beaux of Society.' They have
even been lenient to their memory, hailing every good trait gladly, and
pointing out with no unsparing hand redeeming virtues; and it cannot
certainly be said, in this instance, that the good has been 'interred
with the bones' of the personages herein described, although the evil
men do, 'will live after them.'

But whilst a biographer is bound to give the fair as well as the dark
side of his subject, he has still to remember that biography is a trust,
and that it should not be an eulogium. It is his duty to reflect that in
many instances it must be regarded even as a warning.

The moral conclusions of these lives of 'Wits and Beaux' are, it is
admitted, just: vice is censured; folly rebuked; ungentlemanly conduct,
even in a beau of the highest polish, exposed; irreligion finds no
toleration under gentle names--heartlessness no palliation from its
being the way of the world. There is here no separate code allowed for
men who live in the world, and for those who live out of it. The task of
pourtraying such characters as the 'Wits and Beaux of Society' is a
responsible one, and does not involve the mere attempt to amuse, or the
mere desire to abuse, but requires truth and discrimination; as
embracing just or unjust views of such characters, it may do much harm
or much good. Nevertheless, in spite of these obvious considerations
there do exist worthy persons, even in the present day, so unreasonable
as to take offence at the revival of old stories anent their defunct
grandfathers, though those very stories were circulated by accredited
writers employed by the families themselves. Some individuals are
scandalized when a man who was habitually drunk, is called a drunkard;
and ears polite cannot bear the application of plain names to well-known

There is something foolish, but respectably foolish, in this wish to
shut out light which has been streaming for years over these old tombs
and memories. The flowers that are cast on such graves cannot, however,
cause us to forget the corruption within and underneath. In
consideration, nevertheless, of a pardonable weakness, all expressions
that can give pain, or which have been said to give pain, have been, in
this Second Edition, omitted; and whenever a mis-statement has crept in,
care has been taken to amend the error.


The success of the 'Queens of Society' will have pioneered the way for
the 'Wits and Beaux:' with whom, during the holiday time of their lives,
these fair ladies were so greatly associated. The 'Queens,' whether all
wits or not, must have been the cause of wit in others; their influence
over dandyism is notorious: their power to make or mar a man of fashion,
almost historical. So far, a chronicle of the sayings and doings of the
'Wits' is worthy to serve as a _pendant_ to that of the 'Queens:' happy
would it be for society if the annals of the former could more closely
resemble the biography of the latter. But it may not be so: men are
subject to temptations, to failures, to delinquencies, to calamities, of
which women can scarcely dream, and which they can only lament and pity.

Our 'Wits,' too--to separate them from the 'Beaux'--were men who often
took an active part in the stirring events of their day: they assumed to
be statesmen, though, too frequently, they were only politicians. They
were brave and loyal: indeed, in the time of the Stuarts, all the Wits
were Cavaliers, as well as the Beaux. One hears of no repartee among
Cromwell's followers; no dash, no merriment, in Fairfax's staff;
eloquence, indeed, but no wit in the Parliamentarians; and, in truth, in
the second Charles's time, the king might have headed the lists of the
Wits himself--such a capital man as his Majesty is known to have been
for a wet evening or a dull Sunday; such a famous teller of a
story--such a perfect diner-out: no wonder that in his reign we had
George Villiers, second Duke of Buckingham of that family, 'mankind's
epitome,' who had every pretension to every accomplishment combined in
himself. No wonder we could attract De Grammont and Saint Evremond to
our court; and own, somewhat to our discredit be it allowed, Rochester
and Beau Fielding. Every reign has had its wits, but those in Charles's
time were so numerous as to distinguish the era by an especial
brilliancy. Nor let it be supposed that these annals do not contain a
moral application. They show how little the sparkling attributes herein
pourtrayed conferred happiness; how far more the rare, though certainly
real touches of genuine feeling and strong affection, which appear here
and there even in the lives of the most thoughtless 'Wits and Beaux,'
elevate the character in youth, or console the spirit in age. They prove
how wise has been that change in society which now repudiates the 'Wit'
as a distinct class; and requires general intelligences as a
compensation for lost repartees, or long obsolete practical jokes.

'Men are not all evil:' so in the life of George Villiers, we find him
kind-hearted, and free from hypocrisy. His old servants--and the fact
speaks in extenuation of one of our wildest Wits and Beaux--loved him
faithfully. De Grammont, we all own, has little to redeem him except his
good-nature: Rochester's latest days were almost hallowed by his
penitence. Chesterfield is saved by his kindness to the Irish, and his
affection for his son. Horace Walpole had human affections, though a
most inhuman pen: and Wharton was famous for his good-humour.

The periods most abounding in the Wit and the Beau have, of course, been
those most exempt from wars, and rumours of wars. The Restoration; the
early period of the Augustan age; the commencement of the Hanoverian
dynasty,--have all been enlivened by Wits and Beaux, who came to light
like mushrooms after a storm of rain, as soon as the political horizon
was clear. We have Congreve, who affected to be the Beau as well as the
Wit; Lord Hervey, more of the courtier than the Beau--a Wit by
inheritance--a peer, assisted into a pre-eminent position by royal
preference, and consequent _prestige_; and all these men were the
offspring of the particular state of the times in which they figured: at
earlier periods, they would have been deemed effeminate; in later ones,

Then the scene shifts: intellect had marched forward gigantically: the
world is grown exacting, disputatious, critical, and such men as Horace
Walpole and Brinsley Sheridan appear; the characteristics of wit which
adorned that age being well diluted by the feebler talents of Selwyn and

Of these, and others, '_table traits_,' and other traits, are here
given: brief chronicles of _their_ life's stage, over which a curtain
has so long been dropped, are supplied carefully from well established
sources: it is with characters, not with literary history, that we deal;
and do our best to make the portraitures life-like, and to bring forward
old memories, which, without the stamp of antiquity, might be suffered
to pass into obscurity.

Your Wit and your Beau, be he French or English, is no mediæval
personage: the aristocracy of the present day rank among his immediate
descendants: he is a creature of a modern and an artificial age; and
with his career are mingled many features of civilized life, manners,
habits, and traces of family history which are still, it is believed,
interesting to the majority of English readers, as they have long been


_October, 1860_.

       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *


  Signs of the Restoration.--Samuel Pepys in his Glory.--A Royal
      Company.--Pepys 'ready to Weep.'--The Playmate of Charles
      II.--George Villiers's Inheritance.--Two Gallant Young
      Noblemen.--The Brave Francis Villiers.--After the Battle of
      Worcester.--Disguising the King.--Villiers in Hiding.--He
      appears as a Mountebank.--Buckingham's Habits.--A Daring
      Adventure.--Cromwell's Saintly Daughter.--Villiers and the
      Rabbi.--The Buckingham Pictures and Estates.--York
      House.--Villiers returns to England.--Poor Mary
      Fairfax.--Villiers in the Tower.--Abraham Cowley, the
      Poet.--The Greatest Ornament of Whitehall.--Buckingham's Wit
      and Beauty.--Flecknoe's Opinion of Him.--His Duel with the Earl
      of Shrewsbury.--Villiers as a Poet.--As a Dramatist.--A Fearful
      Censure!--Villiers's Influence in Parliament.--A Scene in the
      Lords.--The Duke of Ormond in Danger.--Colonel Blood's
      Outrages.--Wallingford House and Ham House.--'Madame
      Ellen.'--The Cabal.--Villiers again in the Tower.--A
      Change.--The Duke of York's Theatre.--Buckingham and the
      Princess of Orange.--His last Hours.--His Religion.--Death of
      Villiers.--The Duchess of Buckingham.

Samuel Pepys, the weather-glass of his time, hails the first glimpse of
the Restoration of Charles II. in his usual quaint terms and vulgar

'To Westminster Hall,' says he; 'where I heard how the Parliament had
this day dissolved themselves, and did pass very cheerfully through the
Hall, and the Speaker without his mace. The whole Hall was joyful
thereat, as well as themselves; and now they begin to talk loud of the
king.' And the evening was closed, he further tells us, with a large
bonfire in the Exchange, and people called out, 'God bless King

This was in March 1660; and during that spring Pepys was noting down
how he did not think it possible that my 'Lord Protector,' Richard
Cromwell, should come into power again; how there were great hopes of
the king's arrival; how Monk, the Restorer, was feasted at Mercers' Hall
(Pepys's own especial); how it was resolved that a treaty be offered to
the king, privately; how he resolved to go to sea with 'my lord:' and
how, while they lay at Gravesend, the great affair which brought back
Charles Stuart was virtually accomplished. Then, with various
parentheses, inimitable in their way, Pepys carries on his narrative. He
has left his father's 'cutting-room' to take care of itself; and finds
his cabin little, though his bed is convenient, but is certain, as he
rides at anchor with 'my lord,' in the ship, that the king 'must of
necessity come in,' and the vessel sails round and anchors in Lee Roads.
'To the castles about Deal, where _our_ fleet' (_our fleet_, the saucy
son of a tailor!) 'lay and anchored; great was the shoot of guns from
the castles, and ships, and our answers.' Glorious Samuel! in his
element, to be sure.

Then the wind grew high: he began to be 'dizzy, and squeamish;'
nevertheless employed 'Lord's Day' in looking through the lieutenant's
glass at two good merchantmen, and the women in them; 'being pretty
handsome;' then in the afternoon he first saw Calais, and was pleased,
though it was at a great distance. All eyes were looking across the
Channel just then--for the king was at Flushing; and, though the
'Fanatiques' still held their heads up high, and the Cavaliers also
talked high on the other side, the cause that Pepys was bound to, still
gained ground.

Then 'they begin to speak freely of King Charles;' churches in the City,
Samuel declares, were setting up his arms; merchant-ships--more
important in those days--were hanging out his colours. He hears, too,
how the Mercers' Company were making a statue of his gracious Majesty to
set up in the Exchange. Ah! Pepys's heart is merry: he has forty
shillings (some shabby perquisite) given him by Captain Cowes of the
'Paragon;' and 'my lord' in the evening 'falls to singing' a song upon
the Rump to the tune of the 'Blacksmith.'

The hopes of the Cavalier party are hourly increasing, and those of
Pepys we may be sure also; for Pim, the tailor, spends a morning in his
cabin 'putting a great many ribbons to a sail.' And the king is to be
brought over suddenly, 'my lord' tells him: and indeed it looks like it,
for the sailors are drinking Charles's health in the streets of Deal, on
their knees; 'which, methinks,' says Pepys, 'is a little too much;' and
'methinks' so, worthy Master Pepys, also.

Then how the news of the Parliamentary vote of the king's declaration
was received! Pepys becomes eloquent.

'He that can fancy a fleet (like ours) in her pride, with pendants
loose, guns roaring, caps flying, and the loud "_Vive le Roi!_" echoed
from one ship's company to another; he, and he only, can apprehend the
joy this enclosed vote was received with, or the blessing he thought
himself possessed of that bore it.'

Next, orders come for 'my lord' to sail forthwith to the king; and the
painters and tailors set to work, Pepys superintending, 'cutting out
some pieces of yellow cloth in the fashion of a crown and C. R.; and
putting it upon a fine sheet'--and that is to supersede the States'
arms, and is finished and set up. And the next day, on May 14, the Hague
is seen plainly by _us_, 'my lord going up in his night-gown into the

And then they land at the Hague; some 'nasty Dutchmen' come on board to
offer their boats, and get money, which Pepys does not like; and in time
they find themselves in the Hague, 'a most neat place in all respects:'
salute the Queen of Bohemia and the Prince of Orange--afterwards William
III.--and find at their place of supper nothing but a 'sallet' and two
or three bones of mutton provided for ten of us, 'which was very
strange. Nevertheless, on they sail, having returned to the fleet, to
Schevelling: and, on the 23rd of the month, go to meet the king; who,
'on getting into the boat, did kiss my lord with much affection.' And
'extraordinary press of good company,' and great mirth all day,
announced the Restoration. Nevertheless Charles's clothes had not been,
till this time, Master Pepys is assured, worth forty shillings--and he,
as a connoisseur, was scandalized at the fact.

And now, before we proceed, let us ask who worthy Samuel Pepys was, that
he should pass such stringent comments on men and manners? His origin
was lowly, although his family ancient; his father having followed,
until the Restoration, the calling of a tailor. Pepys, vulgar as he was,
had nevertheless received an university education; first entering
Trinity College, Cambridge, as a sizar. To our wonder we find him
marrying furtively and independently; and his wife, at fifteen, was glad
with her husband to take up an abode in the house of a relative, Sir
Edward Montagu, afterwards Earl of Sandwich, the 'my lord' under whose
shadow Samuel Pepys dwelt in reverence. By this nobleman's influence
Pepys for ever left the 'cutting-room;' he acted first as secretary,
(always as toad-eater, one would fancy), then became a clerk in the
Admiralty; and as such went, after the Restoration, to live in Seething
Lane, in the parish of St. Olave, Hart Street--and in St. Olave his
mortal part was ultimately deposited.

So much for Pepys. See him now, in his full-buttoned wig, and best
cambric neckerchief, looking out for the king and his suit, who are
coming on board the 'Nazeby.'

'Up, and made myself as fine as I could, with the linning stockings on,
and wide canons that I bought the other day at the Hague.' So began he
the day. 'All day nothing but lords and persons of honour on board, that
we were exceeding full. Dined in great deal of state, the royalle
company by themselves in the coache, which was a blessed sight to see.'
This royal company consisted of Charles, the Dukes of York and
Gloucester, his brothers, the Queen of Bohemia, the Princess Royal, the
Prince of Orange, afterwards William III.--all of whose hands Pepys
kissed, after dinner. The King and Duke of York changed the names of the
ships. The 'Rumpers,' as Pepys calls the Parliamentarians, had given one
the name of the 'Nazeby;' and that was now christened the 'Charles:'
'Richard' was changed into 'James.' The 'Speaker' into 'Mary,' the
'Lambert,' was 'Henrietta,' and so on. How merry the king must have
been whilst he thus turned the Roundheads, as it were, off the ocean;
and how he walked here and there, up and down, (quite contrary to what
Samuel Pepys 'expected,') and fell into discourse of his escape from
Worcester, and made Samuel 'ready to weep' to hear of his travelling
four days and three nights on foot, up to his knees in dirt, with
'nothing but a green coat and a pair of breeches on,' (worse and worse,
thought Pepys,) and a pair of country shoes that made his feet sore; and
how, at one place he was made to drink by the servants, to show he was
not a Roundhead; and how, at another place--and Charles, the best teller
of a story in his own dominions, may here have softened his tone--the
master of the house, an innkeeper, as the king was standing by the fire,
with his hands on the back of a chair, kneeled down and kissed his hand
'privately,' saying he could not ask him who he was, but bid 'God bless
him, where he was going!'

Then, rallying after this touch of pathos, Charles took his hearers over
to Fecamp, in France--thence to Rouen, where, he said, in his easy,
irresistible way, 'I looked so poor that the people went into the rooms
before I went away, to see if I had not stolen something or other.'

With what reverence and sympathy did our Pepys listen; but he was forced
to hurry off to get Lord Berkeley a bed; and with 'much ado' (as one may
believe) he did get 'him to bed with My Lord Middlesex;' so, after
seeing these two peers of the realm in that dignified predicament--two
in a bed--'to my cabin again,' where the company were still talking of
the king's difficulties, and how his Majesty was fain to eat a piece of
bread and cheese out of a poor body's pocket; and, at a Catholic house,
how he lay a good while 'in the Priest's Hole, for privacy.'

In all these hairbreadth escapes--of which the king spoke with
infinite humour and good feeling--one name was perpetually
introduced:--George--George Villiers, _Villers_, as the royal narrator
called him; for the name was so pronounced formerly. And well he might;
for George Villiers had been his playmate, classfellow, nay, bedfellow
sometimes, in priests' holes; their names, their haunts, their hearts,
were all assimilated; and misfortune had bound them closely to each
other. To George Villiers let us now return; he is waiting for his royal
master on the other side of the Channel--in England. And a strange
character have we to deal with:--

    'A man so various, that he seemed to be
     Not one, but all mankind's epitome:
     Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong,
     Was everything by starts, and nothing long;
     But, in the course of one revolving moon,
     Was chemist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon.'[1]

Such was George Villiers: the Alcibiades of that age. Let us trace one
of the most romantic, and brilliant, and unsatisfactory lives that has
ever been written.

George Villiers was born at Wallingford House, in the parish of St.
Martin-in-the-Fields, on the 30th January, 1627. The Admiralty now
stands on the site of the mansion in which he first saw the light. His
father was George Villiers, the favourite of James I. and of Charles I.;
his mother, the Lady Katherine Manners, daughter and heiress of Francis,
Earl of Rutland. Scarcely was he a year old, when the assassination of
his father, by Felton, threw the affairs of his family into confusion.
His mother, after the Duke of Buckingham's death, gave birth to a son,
Francis; who was subsequently, savagely killed by the Roundheads, near
Kingston. Then the Duchess of Buckingham very shortly married again, and
uniting herself to Randolph Macdonald, Earl of Antrim, became a rigid
Catholic. She was therefore lost to her children, or rather, they were
lost to her; for King Charles I., who had promised to be a 'husband to
her, and a father to her children,' removed them from her charge, and
educated them with the royal princes.

The youthful peer soon gave indications of genius; and all that a
careful education could do, was directed to improve his natural capacity
under private tutors. He went to Cambridge; and thence, under the care
of a preceptor named Aylesbury, travelled into France. He was
accompanied by his young, handsome, fine-spirited brother, Francis; and
this was the sunshine of his life. His father had indeed left him, as
his biographer Brian Fairfax expresses it, 'the greatest name in
England; his mother, the greatest estate of any subject.' With this
inheritance there had also descended to him the wonderful beauty, the
matchless grace, of his ill-fated father. Great abilities, courage,
fascination of manners, were also his; but he had not been endowed with
firmness of character, and was at once energetic and versatile. Even at
this age, the qualities which became his ruin were clearly discoverable.

George Villiers was recalled to England by the troubles which drove the
king to Oxford, and which converted that academical city into a
garrison, its under-graduates into soldiers, its ancient halls into
barrack-rooms. Villiers was on this occasion entered at Christ Church:
the youth's best feelings were aroused, and his loyalty was engaged to
one to whom his father owed so much. He was now a young man of
twenty-one years of age--able to act for himself; and he went heart and
soul into the cause of his sovereign. Never was there a gayer, a more
prepossessing Cavalier. He could charm even a Roundhead. The harsh and
Presbyterian-minded Bishop Burnet, has told us that 'he was a man of a
noble presence; had a great liveliness of wit, and a peculiar faculty of
turning everything into ridicule, with bold figures and natural
descriptions.' How invaluable he must have been in the Common-rooms at
Oxford, then turned into guard-rooms, his eye upon some unlucky
volunteer Don, who had put off his clerkly costume for a buff jacket,
and could not manage his drill. Irresistible as his exterior is declared
to have been, the original mind of Villiers was even far more
influential. De Grammont tells us, 'he was extremely handsome, but still
thought himself much more so than he really was; although he had a great
deal of discernment, yet his vanities made him mistake some civilities
as intended for his person which were only bestowed on his wit and

But this very vanity, so unpleasant in an old man, is only amusing in a
younger wit. Whilst thus a gallant of the court and camp, the young
nobleman proved himself to be no less brave than witty. Juvenile as he
was, with a brother still younger, they fought on the royalist side at
Lichfield, in the storming of the Cathedral Close. For thus allowing
their lives to be endangered, their mother blamed Lord Gerard, one of
the Duke's guardians; whilst the Parliament seized the pretext of
confiscating their estates, which were afterwards returned to them, on
account of their being under age at the time of confiscation. The youths
were then placed under the care of the Earl of Northumberland, by whose
permission they travelled in France and Italy, where they
appeared--their estates having been restored--with princely
magnificence. Nevertheless, on hearing of the imprisonment of Charles I.
in the Isle of Wight, the gallant youths returned to England and joined
the army under the Earl of Holland, who was defeated near Nonsuch, in

A sad episode in the annals of these eventful times is presented in the
fate of the handsome, brave Francis Villiers. His murder, for one can
call it by no other name, shows how keenly the personal feelings of the
Roundheads were engaged in this national quarrel. Under most
circumstances, Englishmen would have spared the youth, and respected the
gallantry of the free young soldier, who, planting himself against an
oak-tree which grew in the road, refused to ask for quarter, but
defended himself against several assailants. But the name of Villiers
was hateful in Puritan ears. 'Hew them down, root and branch!' was the
sentiment that actuated the soldiery. His very loveliness exasperated
their vengeance. At last, 'with nine wounds on his beautiful face and
body,' says Fairfax, 'he was slain.' 'The oak-tree,' writes the devoted
servant, 'is his monument,' and the letters of F. V. were cut in it in
his day. His body was conveyed by water to York House, and was entombed
with that of his father, in the Chapel of Henry VII.

His brother fled towards St. Neot's, where he encountered a strange kind
of peril. Tobias Rustat attended him; and was with him in the rising in
Kent for King Charles I., wherein the Duke was engaged; and they, being
put to the flight, the Duke's helmet, by a brush under a tree, was
turned upon his back, and tied so fast with a string under his throat,
'that without the present help of T. R.,' writes Fairfax, 'it had
undoubtedly choked him, as I have credibly heard.'[2]

Whilst at St. Neot's, the house in which Villiers had taken refuge was
surrounded with soldiers. He had a stout heart, and a dexterous hand; he
took his resolution; rushed out upon his foes, killed the officer in
command, galloped off and joined the Prince in the Downs.

The sad story of Charles I. was played out; but Villiers remained
stanch, and was permitted to return and to accompany Prince Charles into
Scotland. Then came the battle of Worcester in 1651: there Charles II.
showed himself a worthy descendant of James IV. of Scotland. He resolved
to conquer or die: with desperate gallantry the English Cavaliers and
the Scotch Highlanders seconded the monarch's valiant onslaught on
Cromwell's horse, and the invincible Life Guards were almost driven back
by the shock. But they were not seconded; Charles II. had his horse
twice shot under him, but, nothing daunted, he was the last to tear
himself away from the field, and then only upon the solicitations of his

Charles retired to Kidderminster that evening. The Duke of Buckingham,
the gallant Lord Derby, Wilmot, afterwards Earl of Rochester, and some
others, rode near him. They were followed by a small body of horse.
Disconsolately they rode on northwards, a faithful band of sixty being
resolved to escort his Majesty to Scotland. At length they halted on
Kinver Heath, near Kidderminster: their guide having lost the way. In
this extremity Lord Derby said that he had been received kindly at an
old house in a secluded woody country, between Tong Castle and Brewood,
on the borders of Staffordshire. It was named 'Boscobel,' he said; and
that word has henceforth conjured up to the mind's eye the remembrance
of a band of tired heroes, riding through woody glades to an ancient
house, where shelter was given to the worn-out horses and scarcely less
harassed riders.

But not so rapidly did they in reality proceed. A Catholic family,
named Giffard, were living at White-Ladies, about twenty six miles from
Worcester. This was only about half a mile from Boscobel: it had been a
convent of Cistercian nuns, whose long white cloaks of old had once been
seen, ghost-like, amid forest glades or on hillock green. The
White-Ladies had other memories to grace it besides those of holy
vestals, or of unholy Cavaliers. From the time of the Tudors, a
respectable family named Somers had owned the White-Ladies, and
inhabited it since its white-garbed tenants had been turned out, and the
place secularized. 'Somers's House,' as it was called, (though more
happily, the old name has been restored,) had received Queen Elizabeth
on her progress. The richly cultivated old conventual gardens had
supplied the Queen with some famous pears, and, in the fulness of her
approval of the fruit, she had added them to the City arms. At that time
one of these vaunted pear-trees stood securely in the market-place of

At the White-Ladies, Charles rested for half an hour; and here he left
his garters, waistcoat, and other garments, to avoid discovery, ere he
proceeded. They were long kept as relics.

The mother of Lord Somers had been placed in this old house for
security, for she was on the eve of giving birth to the future
statesman, who was born in that sanctuary just at this time. His father
at that very moment commanded a troop of horse in Cromwell's army, so
that the risk the Cavaliers ran was imminent. The King's horse was led
into the hall. Day was dawning; and the Cavaliers, as they entered the
old conventual tenement, and saw the sunbeams on its walls, perceived
their peril. A family of servants named Penderell held various offices
there, and at Boscobel. William took care of Boscobel, George was a
servant at White-Ladies; Humphrey was the miller to that house, Richard
lived close by, at Hebbal Grange. He and William were called into the
royal presence. Lord Derby then said to them, 'This is the King; have a
care of him, and preserve him as thou didst me.'

Then the attendant courtiers began undressing the King. They took off
his buff-coat, and put on him a 'noggon coarse shirt,' and a green suit
and another doublet--Richard Penderell's woodman's dress. Lord Wilmot
cut his sovereign's hair with a knife, but Richard Penderell took up his
shears and finished the work. 'Burn it,' said the king; but Richard kept
the sacred locks. Then Charles covered his dark face with soot. Could
anything have taken away the expression of his half-sleepy, half-merry

They departed, and half an hour afterwards Colonel Ashenhurst, with a
troop of Roundhead horse, rode up to the White-Ladies. The King,
meantime, had been conducted by Richard Penderell into a coppice-wood,
with a bill-hook in his hands for defence and disguise. But his
followers were overtaken near Newport; and here Buckingham, with Lords
Talbot and Leviston, escaped; and henceforth, until Charles's wanderings
were transferred from England to France, George Villiers was separated
from the Prince. Accompanied by the Earls of Derby and Lauderdale, and
by Lord Talbot, he proceeded northwards, in hopes of joining General
Leslie and the Scotch horse. But their hopes were soon dashed: attacked
by a body of Roundheads, Buckingham and Lord Leviston were compelled to
leave the high road, to alight from their horses, and to make their way
to Bloore Park, near Newport, where Villiers found a shelter. He was
soon, however, necessitated to depart: he put on a labourer's dress; he
deposited his George, a gift from Henrietta Maria, with a companion, and
set off for Billstrop, in Nottinghamshire, one Matthews, a carpenter,
acting as his guide; at Billstrop he was welcomed by Mr. Hawley, a
Cavalier; and from that place he went to Brookesby, in Leicestershire,
the original seat of the Villiers family, and the birthplace of his
father. Here he was received by Lady Villiers--the widow, probably, of
his father's brother, Sir William Villiers, one of those contented
country squires who not only sought no distinction, but scarcely thanked
James I. when he made him a baronet. Here might the hunted refugee see,
on the open battlements of the church, the shields on which were
exhibited united quarterings of his father's family with those of his
mother; here, listen to old tales about his grandfather, good Sir
George, who married a serving-woman in his deceased wife's kitchen;[3]
and that serving-woman became the leader of fashions in the court of
James. Here he might ponder on the vicissitudes which marked the destiny
of the house of Villiers, and wonder what should come next.

That the spirit of adventure was strong within him, is shown by his
daring to go up to London, and disguising himself as a mountebank. He
had a coat made, called a 'Jack Pudding Coat:' a little hat was stuck on
his head, with a fox's tail in it, and cocks' feathers here and there. A
wizard's mask one day, a daubing of flour another, completed the
disguise it was then so usual to assume: witness the long traffic held
at Exeter Change by the Duchess of Tyrconnel, Francis Jennings, in a
white mask, selling laces, and French gew-gaws, a trader to all
appearance, but really carrying on political intrigues; every one went
to chat with the 'White Milliner,' as she was called, during the reign
of William and Mary. The Duke next erected a stage at Charing Cross--in
the very face of the stern Rumpers, who, with long faces, rode past the
sinful man each day as they came ambling up from the Parliament House. A
band of puppet-players and violins set up their shows; and music covers
a multitude of incongruities. The ballad was then the great vehicle of
personal attack, and Villiers's dawning taste for poetry was shown in
the ditties which he now composed, and in which he sometimes assisted
vocally. Whilst all the other Cavaliers were forced to fly, he thus
bearded his enemies in their very homes: sometimes he talked to them
face to face, and kept the sanctimonious citizens in talk, till they
found themselves sinfully disposed to laugh. But this vagrant life had
serious evils: it broke down all the restraints which civilised society
naturally, and beneficially, imposes. The Duke of Buckingham, Butler,
the author of Hudibras, writes, 'rises, eats, goes to bed by the Julian
account, long after all others that go by the new style, and keeps the
same hours with owls and the Antipodes. He is a great observer of the
Tartar customs, and never eats till the great cham, having dined, makes
proclamation that all the world may go to dinner. He does not dwell in
his house, but haunts it like an evil spirit, that walks all night, to
disturb the family, and never appears by day. He lives perpetually
benighted, runs out of his life, and loses his time as men do their ways
in the dark: and as blind men are led by their dogs, so he is governed
by some mean servant or other that relates to his pleasures. He is as
inconstant as the moon which he lives under; and although he does
nothing but advise with his pillow all day, he is as great a stranger to
himself as he is to the rest of the world. His mind entertains all
things that come and go; but like guests and strangers, they are not
welcome if they stay long. This lays him open to all cheats, quacks, and
impostors, who apply to every particular humour while it lasts, and
afterwards vanish. He deforms nature, while he intends to adorn her,
like Indians that hang jewels in their lips and noses. His ears are
perpetually drilling with a fiddlestick, and endures pleasures with less
patience than other men do their pains.'

The more effectually to support his character as a mountebank, Villiers
sold mithridate and galbanum plasters: thousands of spectators and
customers thronged every day to see and hear him. Possibly many guessed
that beneath all the fantastic exterior some ulterior project was
concealed; yet he remained untouched by the City Guards. Well did Dryden
describe him:--

    'Then all for women, painting, rhyming, drinking,
     Beside ten thousand freaks that died in thinking.
     Blest madman, who could every hour employ
     With something new to wish or to enjoy.'

His elder sister, Lady Mary Villiers, had married the Duke of Richmond,
one of the loyal adherents of Charles I. The duke was, therefore, in
durance at Windsor, whilst the duchess was to be placed under strict
surveillance at Whitehall.

Villiers resolved to see her. Hearing that she was to pass into
Whitehall on a certain day, he set up his stage where she could not fail
to perceive him. He had something important to say to her. As she drew
near, he cried out to the mob that he would give them a song on the
Duchess of Richmond and the Duke of Buckingham: nothing could be more
acceptable. 'The mob,' it is related, 'stopped the coach and the duchess
... Nay, so outrageous were the mob, that they forced the duchess, who
was then the handsomest woman in England, to sit in the boot of the
coach, and to hear him sing all his impertinent songs. Having left off
singing, he told them it was no more than reason that he should present
the duchess with some of the songs. So he alighted from his stage,
covered all over with papers and ridiculous little pictures. Having come
to the coach, he took off a black piece of taffeta, which he always wore
over one of his eyes, when his sister discovered immediately who he was,
yet had so much presence of mind as not to give the least sign of
mistrust; nay, she gave him some very opprobrious language, but was very
eager at snatching the papers he threw into her coach. Among them was a
packet of letters, which she had no sooner got but she went forward, the
duke, at the head of the mob, attending and hallooing her a good way out
of the town.'


A still more daring adventure was contemplated also by this young,
irresistible duke. Bridget Cromwell, the eldest daughter of Oliver, was,
at that time, a bride of twenty-six years of age; having married, in
1647, the saintly Henry Ireton, Lord Deputy of Ireland. Bridget was the
pattern heroine of the '_unco guid_,' the quintessence of all propriety;
the impersonation of sanctity; an ultra republican, who scarcely
accorded to her father the modest title of Protector. She was esteemed
by her party a 'personage of sublime growth:' 'humbled, not exalted,'
according to Mrs. Hutchinson, by her elevation: 'nevertheless,' says
that excellent lady, 'as my Lady Ireton was walking in the St. James's
Park, the Lady Lambert, as proud as her husband, came by where she was,
and as the present princess always hath precedency of the relict of the
dead, so she put by my Lady Ireton, who, notwithstanding her piety and
humility, was a little grieved at the affront.'

After this anecdote one cannot give much credence to this lady's
humility: Bridget was, however, a woman of powerful intellect, weakened
by her extreme, and, to use a now common term, _crochety_ opinions.
Like most _esprits forts_, she was easily imposed upon. One day this
paragon saw a mountebank dancing on a stage in the most exquisite style.
His fine shape, too, caught the attention of one who assumed to be above
all folly. It is sometimes fatal to one's peace to look out of a window;
no one knows what sights may rivet or displease. Mistress Ireton was
sitting at her window unconscious that any one with the hated and
malignant name of 'Villiers' was before her. After some unholy
admiration, she sent to speak to the mummer. The duke scarcely knew
whether to trust himself in the power of the bloodthirsty Ireton's bride
or not--yet his courage--his love of sport--prevailed. He visited her
that evening: no longer, however, in his jack-pudding coat, but in a
rich suit, disguised with a cloak over it. He wore still a plaster over
one eye, and was much disposed to take it off, but prudence forbade; and
thus he stood in the presence of the prim and saintly Bridget Ireton.
The particulars of the interview rest on his statement, and they must
not, therefore, be accepted implicitly. Mistress Ireton is said to have
made advances to the handsome incognito. What a triumph to a man like
Villiers, to have intrigued with my Lord Protector's sanctified
daughter! But she inspired him with disgust. He saw in her the
presumption and hypocrisy of her father; he hated her as Cromwell's
daughter and Ireton's wife. He told her, therefore, that he was a Jew,
and could not by his laws become the paramour of a Christian woman. The
saintly Bridget stood amazed; she had imprudently let him into some of
the most important secrets of her party. A Jew! It was dreadful! But how
could a person of that persuasion be so strict, so strait-laced? She
probably entertained all the horror of Jews which the Puritanical party
cherished as a virtue; forgetting the lessons of toleration and
liberality inculcated by Holy Writ. She sent, however, for a certain
Jewish Rabbi to converse with the stranger. What was the Duke of
Buckingham's surprise, on visiting her one evening, to see the learned
doctor armed at all points with the Talmud, and thirsting for dispute,
by the side of the saintly Bridget. He could noways meet such a body of
controversy; but thought it best forthwith to set off for the Downs.
Before he departed he wrote, however, to Mistress Ireton, on the plea
that she might wish to know to what tribe of Jews he belonged. So he
sent her a note written with all his native wit and point.[4]

Buckingham now experienced all the miseries that a man of expensive
pleasures with a sequestrated estate is likely to endure. One friend
remained to watch over his interests in England. This was John Traylman,
a servant of his late father's, who was left to guard the collection of
pictures made by the late duke, and deposited in York House. That
collection was, in the opinion of competent judges, the third in point
of value in England, being only inferior to those of Charles I. and the
Earl of Arundel.

It had been bought, with immense expense, partly by the duke's agents in
Italy, the Mantua Gallery supplying a great portion--partly in
France--partly in Flanders; and to Flanders a great portion was destined
now to return. Secretly and laboriously did old Traylman pack up and
send off these treasures to Antwerp, where now the gay youth whom the
aged domestic had known from a child was in want and exile. The pictures
were eagerly bought by a foreign collector named Duart. The proceeds
gave poor Villiers bread; but the noble works of Titian and Leonardo da
Vinci, and others, were lost for ever to England.

It must have been very irritating to Villiers to know that whilst he
just existed abroad, the great estates enjoyed by his father were being
subjected to pillage by Cromwell's soldiers, or sold for pitiful sums by
the Commissioners appointed by the Parliament to break up and annihilate
many of the old properties in England. Burleigh-on-the-Hill, the stately
seat on which the first duke had lavished thousands, had been taken by
the Roundheads. It was so large, and presented so long a line of
buildings, that the Parliamentarians could not hold it without leaving
in it a great garrison and stores of ammunition. It was therefore burnt,
and the stables alone occupied; and those even were formed into a house
of unusual size. York House was doubtless marked out for the next
destructive decree. There was something in the very history of this
house which might be supposed to excite the wrath of the Roundheads.
Queen Mary (whom we must not, after Miss Strickland's admirable life of
her, call Bloody Queen Mary, but who will always be best known by that
unpleasant title) had bestowed York House on the See of York, as a
compensation for York House, at Whitehall, which Henry VIII. had taken
from Wolsey. It had afterwards come into possession of the Keepers of
the Great Seal. Lord Bacon was born in York House, his father having
lived there; and the

    'Greatest, wisest, meanest of mankind,'

built here an aviary which cost £300. When the Duke of Lennox wished to
buy York House, Bacon thus wrote to him:--'For this you will pardon me:
York House is the house where my father died, and where I first
breathed; and there will I yield my last breath, if it so please God and
the King.' It did not, however, please the King that he should; the
house was borrowed only by the first Duke of Buckingham from the
Archbishop of York, and then exchanged for another seat, on the plea
that the duke would want it for the reception of foreign potentates, and
for entertainments given to royalty.

The duke pulled it down: and the house, which was erected as a temporary
structure, was so superb that even Pepys, twenty years after it had been
left to bats and cobwebs, speaks of it in raptures, as of a place in
which the great duke's soul was seen in every chamber. On the walls were
shields on which the arms of Manners and of Villiers--peacocks and
lions--were quartered. York House was never, however, finished; but as
the lover of old haunts enters Buckingham Street in the Strand, he will
perceive an ancient water-gate, beautifully proportioned, built by Inigo
Jones--smoky, isolated, impaired--but still speaking volumes of
remembrance of the glories of the assassinated duke, who had purposed to
build the whole house in that style.

'_Yorschaux_,' as he called it--York House--the French ambassador had
written word to his friends at home, 'is the most richly fitted up of
any that I saw.' The galleries and state rooms were graced by the
display of the Roman marbles, both busts and statues, which the first
duke had bought from Rubens; whilst in the gardens the Cain and Abel of
John of Bologna, given by Philip IV. of Spain to King Charles, and by
him bestowed on the elder George Villiers, made that fair _pleasaunce_
famous. It was doomed--as were what were called the 'superstitious'
pictures in the house--to destruction: henceforth all was in decay and
neglect. 'I went to see York House and gardens,' Evelyn writes in 1655,
'belonging to the former greate Buckingham, but now much ruined through

Traylman, doubtless, kept George Villiers the younger in full possession
of all that was to happen to that deserted tenement in which the old man
mourned for the departed, and thought of the absent.

The intelligence which he had soon to communicate was all-important.
York House was to be occupied again; and Cromwell and his coadjutors had
bestowed it on Fairfax. The blow was perhaps softened by the reflection
that Fairfax was a man of generous temper; and that he had an only
daughter, Mary Fairfax, young, and an heiress. Though the daughter of a
Puritan, a sort of interest was attached, even by Cavaliers, to Mary
Fairfax, from her having, at five years of age, followed her father
through the civil wars on horseback, seated before a maid-servant; and
having, on her journey, frequently fainted, she was so ill as to have
been left in a house by the roadside, her father never expecting to see
her again.

In reference to this young girl, then about eighteen years of age,
Buckingham now formed a plan. He resolved to return to England
disguised, to offer his hand to Mary Fairfax, and so recover his
property through the influence of Fairfax. He was confident of his own
attractions; and, indeed, from every account, he appears to have been
one of those reckless, handsome, speculative characters that often take
the fancy of better men than themselves. 'He had,' says Burnet, 'no sort
of literature, only he was drawn into chymistry; and for some years he
thought he was very near the finding of the philosopher's stone, which
had the effect that attends on all such men as he was, when they are
drawn in, to lay out for it. He had no principles of religion, virtue,
or friendship; pleasure, frolic, or extravagant diversion, was all he
laid to heart. He was true to nothing; for he was not true to himself.
He had no steadiness nor conduct; he could keep no secret, nor execute
any design without spoiling it; he could never fix his thoughts, nor
govern his estate, though then the greatest in England. He was bred
about the king, and for many years he had a great ascendant over him;
but he spoke of him to all persons with that contempt, that at last he
drew a lasting disgrace upon himself. And he at length ruined both body
and mind, fortune and reputation, equally.'

This was a sad prospect for poor Mary Fairfax, but certainly if in their

    ----'Weak women go astray,
    Their stars are more in fault than they,'

and she was less to blame in her choice than her father, who ought to
have advised her against the marriage. Where and how they met is not
known. Mary was not attractive in person: she was in her youth little,
brown, and thin, but became a 'short fat body,' as De Grammont tells us,
in her early married life; in the later period of her existence she was
described by the Vicomtesse de Longueville as a 'little round crumpled
woman, very fond of finery;' and she adds that, on visiting the duchess
one day, she found her, though in mourning, in a kind of loose robe over
her, all edged and laced with gold. So much for a Puritan's daughter!

To this insipid personage the duke presented himself. She soon liked
him, and in spite of his outrageous infidelities, continued to like him
after their marriage.

He carried his point: Mary Fairfax became his wife on the 6th of
September, 1675, and, by the influence of Fairfax, his estate, or, at
all events, a portion of the revenues, about £4,000 a year, it is said,
were restored to him. Nevertheless, it is mortifying to find that in
1682, he sold York House, in which his father had taken such pride, for
£30,000. The house was pulled down; streets were erected on the
gardens: George Street, Villiers Street, Duke Street, Buckingham Street,
Off Alley recall the name of the ill-starred George, first duke, and of
his needy, profligate son; but the only trace of the real greatness of
the family importance thus swept away is in the motto inscribed on the
point of old Inigo's water-gate, towards the street: '_Fidei coticula
crux_.' It is sad for all good royalists to reflect that it was not the
rabid Roundhead, but a degenerate Cavalier, who sold and thus destroyed
York House.

The marriage with Mary Fairfax, though one of interest solely, was not a
_mésalliance_: her father was connected by the female side with the
Earls of Rutland; he was also a man of a generous spirit, as he had
shown, in handing over to the Countess of Derby the rents of the Isle of
Man, which had been granted to him by the Parliament. In a similar
spirit he was not sorry to restore York House to the Duke of Buckingham.

Cromwell, however, was highly exasperated by the nuptials between Mary
Fairfax and Villiers, which took place at Nun-Appleton, near York, one
of Fairfax's estates. The Protector had, it is said, intended Villiers
for one of his own daughters. Upon what plea he acted it is not stated:
he committed Villiers to the Tower, where he remained until the death of
Oliver, and the accession of Richard Cromwell.

In vain did Fairfax solicit his release: Cromwell refused it, and
Villiers remained in durance until the abdication of Richard Cromwell,
when he was set at liberty, but not without the following conditions,
dated February 21st, 1658-9:--

'The humble petition of George Duke of Buckingham was this day read.
Resolved that George Duke of Buckingham, now prisoner at Windsor Castle,
upon his engagement upon his honour at the bar of this House, and upon
the engagement of Lord Fairfax in £20,000 that the said duke shall
peaceably demain himself for the future, and shall not join with, or
abet, or have any correspondence with, any of the enemies of the Lord
Protector, and of this Commonwealth, in any of the parts beyond the sea,
or within this Commonwealth, shall be discharged of his imprisonment and
restraint; and that the Governor of Windsor Castle be required to bring
the Duke of Buckingham to the bar of this House on Wednesday next, to
engage his honour accordingly. Ordered, that the security of £20,000 to
be given by the Lord Fairfax, on the behalf of the Duke of Buckingham,
be taken in the name of His Highness the Lord Protector.'

During his incarceration at Windsor, Buckingham had a companion, of whom
many a better man might have been envious: this was Abraham Cowley, an
old college friend of the duke's. Cowley was the son of a grocer, and
owed his entrance into academic life to having been a King's Scholar at
Westminster. One day he happened to take up from his mother's parlour
window a copy of Spenser's 'Faerie Queene.' He eagerly perused the
delightful volume, though he was then only twelve years old: and this
impulse being given to his mind, became at fifteen a reciter of verses.
His 'Poetical Blossoms,' published whilst he was still at school, gave,
however, no foretaste of his future eminence. He proceeded to Trinity
College, Cambridge, where his friendship with Villiers was formed; and
where, perhaps, from that circumstance, Cowley's predilections for the
cause of the Stuarts was ripened into loyalty.

No two characters could be more dissimilar than those of Abraham Cowley
and George Villiers. Cowley was quiet, modest, sober, of a thoughtful,
philosophical turn, and of an affectionate nature; neither boasting of
his own merits nor depreciating others. He was the friend of Lucius
Cary, Lord Falkland; and yet he loved, though he must have condemned,
George Villiers. It is not unlikely that, whilst Cowley imparted his
love of poetry to Villiers, Villiers may have inspired the pensive and
blameless poet with a love of that display of wit then in vogue, and
heightened that sense of humour which speaks forth in some of Cowley's
productions. Few authors suggest so many new thoughts, really his own,
as Cowley. 'His works,' it has been said, 'are a flower-garden run to
weeds, but the flowers are numerous and brilliant, and a search after
them will repay the pains of a collector who is not too indolent or

As Cowley and his friend passed the weary hours in durance, many an old
tale could the poet tell the peer of stirring times; for Cowley had
accompanied Charles I. in many a perilous journey, and had protected
Queen Henrietta Maria in her escape to France: through Cowley had the
correspondence of the royal pair, when separated, been carried on. The
poet had before suffered imprisonment for his loyalty; and, to disguise
his actual occupation, had obtained the degree of Doctor of Medicine,
and assumed the character of a physician, on the strength of knowing the
virtues of a few plants.

Many a laugh, doubtless, had Buckingham at the expense of _Dr._ Cowley:
however, in later days, the duke proved a true friend to the poet, in
helping to procure for him the lease of a farm at Chertsey from the
queen, and here Cowley, rich upon £300 a year, ended his days.

For some time after Buckingham's release, he lived quietly and
respectably at Nun-Appleton, with General Fairfax and the vapid Mary.
But the Restoration--the first dawnings of which have been referred to
in the commencement of this biography--ruined him, body and mind.

He was made a Lord of the Bedchamber, a Member of the Privy Council, and
afterwards Master of the Horse,[5] and Lord Lieutenant of Yorkshire. He
lived in great magnificence at Wallingford House; a tenement next to
York House, intended to be the habitable and useful appendage to that

He was henceforth, until he proved treacherous to his sovereign, the
brightest ornament of Whitehall. Beauty of person was hereditary: his
father was styled the 'handsomest-bodied man in England,' and George
Villiers the younger equalled George Villiers the elder in all personal
accomplishments. When he entered the Presence-Chamber all eyes followed
him; every movement was graceful and stately. Sir John Reresby
pronounced him 'to be the finest gentleman he ever saw.' 'He was born,'
Madame Dunois declared, 'for gallantry and magnificence.' His wit was
faultless, but his manners engaging; yet his sallies often descended
into buffoonery, and he spared no one in his merry moods. One evening a
play of Dryden's was represented. An actress had to spout forth this

    'My wound is great because it is so small!'

She gave it out with pathos, paused, and was theatrically distressed.
Buckingham was seated in one of the boxes. He rose, all eyes were fixed
upon a face well known in all gay assemblies, in a tone of burlesque he

    'Then 'twould be greater were it none at all.'

Instantly the audience laughed at the Duke's tone of ridicule, and the
poor woman was hissed off the stage.

The king himself did not escape Buckingham's shafts; whilst Lord
Chancellor Clarendon fell a victim to his ridicule: nothing could
withstand it. There, not in that iniquitous gallery at Whitehall, but in
the king's privy chambers, Villiers might be seen, in all the radiance
of his matured beauty. His face was long and oval, with sleepy, yet
glistening eyes, over which large arched eyebrows seemed to contract a
brow on which the curls of a massive wig (which fell almost to his
shoulders) hung low. His nose was long, well formed, and flexible; his
lips thin and compressed, and defined, as the custom was, by two very
short, fine, black patches of hair, looking more like strips of
sticking-plaster than a moustache. As he made his reverence, his rich
robes fell over a faultless form. He was a beau to the very fold of the
cambric band round his throat; with long ends of the richest, closest
point that was ever rummaged out from a foreign nunnery to be placed on
the person of this sacrilegious sinner.

Behold, now, how he changes. Villiers is Villiers no longer. He is
Clarendon, walking solemnly to the Court of the Star Chamber: a pair of
bellows is hanging before him for the purse; Colonel Titus is walking
with a fire shovel on his shoulder, to represent a mace; the king,
himself a capital mimic, is splitting his sides with laughter; the
courtiers are fairly in a roar. Then how he was wont to divert the king
with his descriptions! 'Ipswich, for instance,' he said, 'was a town
without inhabitants--a river it had without water--streets without
names; and it was a place where asses wore boots:' alluding to the
asses, when employed in rolling Lord Hereford's bowling-green, having
boots on their feet to prevent their injuring the turf.

Flecknoe, the poet, describes the duke at this period, in 'Euterpe

    The gallant'st person, and the noblest minde,
    In all the world his prince could ever finde,
    Or to participate his private cares,
    Or bear the public weight of his affairs,
    Like well-built arches, stronger with their weight,
    And well-built minds, the steadier with their height;
    Such was the composition and frame
    O' the noble and the gallant Buckingham.'

The praise, however, even in the duke's best days, was overcharged.
Villiers was no 'well-built arch,' nor could Charles trust to the
fidelity of one so versatile for an hour. Besides, the moral character
of Villiers must have prevented him, even in those days, from bearing
'the public weight of affairs.'

A scandalous intrigue soon proved the unsoundness of Flecknoe's tribute.
Amongst the most licentious beauties of the court was Anna Maria,
Countess of Shrewsbury, the daughter of Robert Brudenel, Earl of
Cardigan, and the wife of Francis, Earl of Shrewsbury: amongst many
shameless women she was the most shameless, and her face seems to have
well expressed her mind. In the round, fair visage, with its languishing
eyes, and full, pouting mouth, there is something voluptuous and bold.
The forehead is broad, but low; and the wavy hair, with its tendril
curls, comes down almost to the fine arched eyebrows, and then, falling
into masses, sets off white shoulders which seem to designate an
inelegant amount of _embonpoint_. There is nothing elevated in the whole
countenance, as Lely has painted her, and her history is a disgrace to
her age and time.

She had numerous lovers (not in the refined sense of the word), and, at
last, took up with Thomas Killigrew. He had been, like Villiers, a
royalist: first a page to Charles I., next a companion of Charles II.,
in exile. He married the fair Cecilia Croft; yet his morals were so
vicious that even in the Court of Venice to which he was accredited, in
order to borrow money from the merchants of that city, he was too
profligate to remain. He came back with Charles II., and was Master of
the Revels, or King's Jester, as the court considered him, though
without any regular appointment, during his life: the butt, at once, and
the satirist of Whitehall.

It was Killigrew's wit and descriptive powers which, when heightened by
wine, were inconceivably great, that induced Villiers to select Lady
Shrewsbury for the object of his admiration. When Killigrew perceived
that he was supplanted by Villiers, he became frantic with rage, and
poured out the bitterest invectives against the countess. The result was
that, one night, returning from the Duke of York's apartments at St.
James's, three passes with a sword were made at him through his chair,
and one of them pierced his arm. This, and other occurrences, at last
aroused the attention of Lord Shrewsbury, who had hitherto never doubted
his wife: he challenged the Duke of Buckingham; and his infamous wife,
it is said, held her paramour's horse, disguised as a page. Lord
Shrewsbury was killed,[6] and the scandalous intimacy went on as before.
No one but the queen, no one but the Duchess of Buckingham, appeared
shocked at this tragedy, and no one minded their remarks, or joined in
their indignation: all moral sense was suspended, or wholly stifled; and
Villiers gloried in his depravity, more witty, more amusing, more
fashionable than ever; and yet he seems, by the best-known and most
extolled of his poems, to have had some conception of what a real and
worthy attachment might be.

The following verses are to his 'Mistress':--

          'What a dull fool was I
           To think so gross a lie,
         As that I ever was in love before!
         I have, perhaps, known one or two,
           With whom I was content to be
           At that which they call keeping company.
         But after all that they could do,
           I still could be with more.
           Their absence never made me shed a tear;
           And I can truly swear,
         That, till my eyes first gazed on you,
           I ne'er beheld the thing I could adore.

          'A world of things must curiously be sought:
           A world of things must be together brought
         To make up charms which have the power to make,
         Through a discerning eye, true love;
         That is a master-piece above
           What only looks and shape can do;
           There must be wit and judgment too,
         Greatness of thought, and worth, which draw,
         From the whole world, respect and awe.

        'She that would raise a noble love must find
         Ways to beget a passion for her mind;
         She must be that which she to be would seem,
         For all true love is grounded on esteem:
         Plainness and truth gain more a generous heart
         Than all the crooked subtleties of art.
         She must be--what said I?--she must be _you_:
         None but yourself that miracle can do.
         At least, I'm sure, thus much I plainly see,
         None but yourself e'er did it upon me.
         'Tis you alone that can my heart subdue,
         To you alone it always shall be true.'

The next lines are also remarkable for the delicacy and happy turn of
the expressions--

        'Though Phillis, from prevailing charms,
         Have forc'd my Delia from my arms,
         Think not your conquest to maintain
         By rigour or unjust disdain.
         In vain, fair nymph, in vain you strive,
         For Love doth seldom Hope survive.
         My heart may languish for a time,
         As all beauties in their prime
         Have justified such cruelty,
         By the same fate that conquered me.
         When age shall come, at whose command
         Those troops of beauty must disband--
         A rival's strength once took away,
         What slave's so dull as to obey?
         But if you'll learn a noble way
         To keep his empire from decay,
         And there for ever fix your throne,
         Be kind, but kind to me alone.'

Like his father, who ruined himself by building, Villiers had a
monomania for bricks and mortar, yet he found time to write 'The
Rehearsal,' a play on which Mr. Reed in his 'Dramatic Biography' makes
the following observation: 'It is so perfect a masterpiece in its way,
and so truly original, that notwithstanding its prodigious success, even
the task of imitation, which most kinds of excellence have invited
inferior geniuses to undertake, has appeared as too arduous to be
attempted with regard to this, which through a whole century stands
alone, notwithstanding that the very plays it was written expressly to
ridicule are forgotten, and the taste it was meant to expose totally

The reverses of fortune which brought George Villiers to abject misery
were therefore, in a very great measure, due to his own misconduct, his
depravity, his waste of life, his perversion of noble mental powers: yet
in many respects he was in advance of his age. He advocated, in the
House of Lords, toleration to Dissenters. He wrote a 'Short Discourse on
the Reasonableness of Men's having a Religion, or Worship of God;' yet,
such was his inconsistency, that in spite of these works, and of one
styled a 'Demonstration of the Deity,' written a short time before his
death, he assisted Lord Rochester in his atheistic poem upon 'Nothing.'

Butler, the author of Hudibras, too truly said of Villiers 'that he had
studied _the whole body of vice_;' a most fearful censure--a most
significant description of a bad man. 'His parts,' he adds, 'are
disproportionate to the whole, and like a monster, he has more of some,
and less of others, than he should have. He has pulled down all that
nature raised in him, and built himself up again after a model of his
own. He has dammed up all those lights that nature made into the noblest
prospects of the world, and opened other little blind loopholes backward
by turning day into night, and night into day.'

The satiety and consequent misery produced by this terrible life are
ably described by Butler. And it was perhaps partly this wearied,
worn-out spirit that caused Villiers to rush madly into politics for
excitement. In 1666 he asked for the office of Lord President of the
North; it was refused: he became disaffected, raised mutinies, and, at
last, excited the indignation of his too-indulgent sovereign. Charles
dismissed him from his office, after keeping him for some time in
confinement. After this epoch little is heard of Buckingham but what is
disgraceful. He was again restored to Whitehall, and, according to
Pepys, even closeted with Charles, whilst the Duke of York was excluded.
A certain acquaintance of the duke's remonstrated with him upon the
course which Charles now took in Parliament. 'How often have you said to
me,' this person remarked, 'that the king was a weak man, unable to
govern, but to be governed, and that you could command him as you liked?
Why do you suffer him to do these things?'

'Why,' answered the duke, 'I do suffer him to do these things, that I
may hereafter the better command him.' A reply which betrays the most
depraved principle of action, whether towards a sovereign or a friend,
that can be expressed. His influence was for some time supreme, yet he
became the leader of the opposition, and invited to his table the
discontented peers, to whom he satirized the court, and condemned the
king's want of attention to business. Whilst the theatre was ringing
with laughter at the inimitable character of Bayes in the 'Rehearsal,'
the House of Lords was listening with profound attention to the
eloquence that entranced their faculties, making wrong seem right, for
Buckingham was ever heard with attention.

Taking into account his mode of existence, 'which,' says Clarendon, 'was
a life by night more than by day, in all the liberties that nature could
desire and wit invent,' it was astonishing how extensive an influence he
had in both Houses of Parliament. 'His rank and condescension, the
pleasantness of his humours and conversation, and the extravagance and
keenness of his wit, unrestrained by modesty or religion, caused persons
of all opinions and dispositions to be fond of his company, and to
imagine that these levities and vanities would wear off with age, and
that there would be enough of good left to make him useful to his
country, for which he pretended a wonderful affection.'

But this brilliant career was soon checked. The varnish over the hollow
character of this extraordinary man was eventually rubbed off. We find
the first hint of that famous coalition styled the _Cabal_ in Pepys's
Diary, and henceforth the duke must be regarded as a ruined man.

'He' (Sir H. Cholmly) 'tells me that the Duke of Buckingham his crimes,
as far as he knows, are his being of a cabal with some discontented
persons of the late House of Commons, and opposing the desires of the
king in all his matters in that House; and endeavouring to become
popular, and advising how the Commons' House should proceed, and how he
would order the House of Lords. And he hath been endeavouring to have
the king's nativity calculated; which was done, and the fellow now in
the Tower about it.... This silly lord hath provoked, by his ill
carriage, the Duke of York, my Lord Chancellor, and all the great
persons, and therefore most likely will die.'

One day, in the House of Lords, during a conference between the two
Houses, Buckingham leaned rudely over the shoulder of Henry Pierrepont
Marquis of Dorchester. Lord Dorchester merely removed his elbow. Then
the duke asked him if he was uneasy. 'Yes,' the marquis replied, adding,
'the duke dared not do this if he were anywhere else.' Buckingham
retorted, 'Yes, he would: and he was a better man than my lord marquis:'
on which Dorchester told him that he lied. On this Buckingham struck off
Dorchester's hat, seized him by the periwig, pulled it aside, and held
him. The Lord Chamberlain and others interposed and sent them both to
the Tower. Nevertheless, not a month afterwards, Pepys speaks of seeing
the duke's play of 'The Chances' acted at Whitehall. 'A good play,' he
condescends to say, 'I find it, and the actors most good in it; and
pretty to hear Knipp sing in the play very properly "All night I weepe,"
and sung it admirably. The whole play pleases me well: and most of all,
the sight of many fine ladies, amongst others, my Lady Castlemaine and
Mrs. Middleton.'

The whole management of public affairs was, at this period, intrusted to
five persons, and hence the famous combination, the united letters of
which formed the word 'Cabal:'--Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley,
and Lauderdale. Their reprehensible schemes, their desperate characters,
rendered them the opprobrium of their age, and the objects of censure to
all posterity. Whilst matters were in this state a daring outrage, which
spoke fearfully of the lawless state of the times, was ascribed, though
wrongly, to Buckingham. The Duke of Ormond, the object of his inveterate
hatred, was at that time Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Colonel Blood,--a
disaffected disbanded officer of the Commonwealth, who had been
attainted for a conspiracy in Ireland, but had escaped punishment,--came
to England, and acted as a spy for the 'Cabal,' who did not hesitate to
countenance this daring scoundrel.

His first exploit was to attack the Duke of Ormond's coach one night in
St. James's Street: to secure his person, bind him, put him on horseback
after one of his accomplices, and carry him to Tyburn, where he meant to
hang his grace. On their way, however, Ormond, by a violent effort,
threw himself on the ground; a scuffle ensued: the duke's servants came
up, and after receiving the fire of Blood's pistols, the duke escaped.
Lord Ossory, the Duke of Ormond's son, on going afterward to court, met
Buckingham, and addressed him in these words:--

'My lord, I know well that you are at the bottom of this late attempt on
my father; but I give you warning, if he by any means come to a violent
end, I shall not be at a loss to know the author. I shall consider you
as an assassin, and shall treat you as such; and wherever I meet you I
shall pistol you, though you stood behind the king's chair; and I tell
it you in his majesty's presence, that you may be sure I shall not fail
of performance.'

Blood's next feat was to carry off from the Tower the crown jewels. He
was overtaken and arrested: and was then asked to name his accomplices.
'No,' he replied, 'the fear of danger shall never tempt me to deny guilt
or to betray a friend.' Charles II., with undignified curiosity, wished
to see the culprit. On inquiring of Blood how he dared to make so bold
an attempt on the crown, the bravo answered, 'My father lost a good
estate fighting for the crown, and I considered it no harm to recover it
by the crown.' He then told his majesty how he had resolved to
assassinate him: how he had stood among the reeds in Battersea-fields
with this design; how then, a sudden awe had come over him: and Charles
was weak enough to admire Blood's fearless bearing and to pardon his
attempt. Well might the Earl of Rochester write of Charles--

    'Here lies my sovereign lord the king,
       Whose word no man relies on;
     Who never said a foolish thing,
       And never did a wise one.'

Notwithstanding Blood's outrages--the slightest penalty for which in
our days would have been penal servitude for life--Evelyn met him, not
long afterwards, at Lord Clifford's, at dinner, when De Grammont and
other French noblemen were entertained. 'The man,' says Evelyn, 'had not
only a daring, but a villanous, unmerciful look, a false countenance;
but very well-spoken, and dangerously insinuating.'

Early in 1662, the Duke of Buckingham had been engaged in practices
against the court: he had disguised deep designs by affecting the mere
man of pleasure. Never was there such splendour as at Wallingford
House--such wit and gallantry; such perfect good breeding; such
apparently openhanded hospitality. At those splendid banquets, John
Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, 'a man whom the Muses were fond to inspire,
but ashamed to avow,' showed his 'beautiful face,' as it was called; and
chimed in with that wit for which the age was famous. The frequenters at
Wallingford House gloried in their indelicacy. 'One is amazed,' Horace
Walpole observes, 'at hearing the age of Charles II. called polite. The
Puritans have affected to call everything by a Scripture' name; the new
comers affected to call everything by its right name;

    'As if preposterously they would confess
     A forced hypocrisy in wickedness.'

Walpole compares the age of Charles II. to that of Aristophanes--'which
called its own grossness polite.' How bitterly he decries the stale
poems of the time as 'a heap of senseless ribaldry;' how truly he shows
that licentiousness weakens as well as depraves the judgment. 'When
Satyrs are brought to court,' he observes, 'no wonder the Graces would
not trust themselves there.'

The Cabal is said, however, to have been concocted, not at Wallingford
House, but at Ham House, near Kingston-on-Thames.

In this stately old manor-house, the abode of the Tollemache family, the
memory of Charles II. and of his court seems to linger still. Ham House
was intended for the residence of Henry, Prince of Wales, and was built
in 1610. It stands near the river Thames; and is flanked by noble
avenues of elm and of chestnut trees, down which one may almost, as it
were, hear the king's talk with his courtiers; see Arlington approach
with the well-known patch across his nose; or spy out the lovely,
childish Miss Stuart and her future husband, the Duke of Richmond,
slipping behind into the garden, lest the jealous mortified king should
catch a sight of the 'conscious lovers.'

This stately structure was given by Charles II., in 1672, to the Duke
and Duchess of Lauderdale: she, the supposed mistress of Cromwell; he,
the cruel, hateful Lauderdale of the Cabal. This detestable couple,
however, furnished with massive grandeur the apartments of Ham House.
They had the ceilings painted by Verrio; the furniture was rich, and
even now the bellows and brushes in some of the rooms are of silver
filigree. One room is furnished with yellow damask, still rich, though
faded; the very seats on which Charles, looking around him, saw
Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley (the infamous Shaftesbury), and
Lauderdale--and knew not, good easy man, that he was looking on a band
of traitors--are still there. Nay, he even sat to Sir Peter Lely for a
portrait for this very place--in which, schemes for the ruin of the
kingdom were concocted. All, probably, was smooth and pleasing to the
monarch as he ranged down the fine gallery, ninety-two feet long; or sat
at dinner amid his foes in that hall, surrounded with an open
balustrade; or disported himself on the river's green brink. Nay, one
may even fancy Nell Gwynn taking a day's pleasure in this then lone and
ever sweet locality. We hear her swearing, as she was wont to do,
perchance at the dim looking-glasses, her own house in Pall Mall, given
her by the king, having been filled up, for the comedian, entirely,
ceiling and all, with looking-glass. How bold and pretty she looked in
her undress! Even Pepys--no very sound moralist, though a vast
hypocrite--tells us: Nelly, 'all unready' was 'very pretty, prettier far
than he thought.' But to see how she was 'painted,' would, he thought,
'make a man mad.'

'Madame Ellen,' as after her _elevation_, as it was termed, she was
called, might, since she held long a great sway over Charles's fancy, be
suffered to scamper about Ham House--where her merry laugh perhaps
scandalised the now Saintly Duchess of Lauderdale,--just to impose on
the world; for Nell was regarded as the Protestant champion of the
court, in opposition to her French rival, the Duchess of Portsmouth.

Let us suppose that she has been at Ham House, and is gone off to Pall
Mall again, where she can see her painted face in every turn. The king
has departed, and Killigrew, who, at all events, is loyal, and the
true-hearted Duke of Richmond, all are away to London. In yon
sanctimonious-looking closet, next to the duchess's bed-chamber, with her
psalter and her prayer-book on her desk, which is fixed to her great
chair, and that very cane which still hangs there serving as her support
when she comes forth from that closet, murmur and wrangle the component
parts of that which was never mentioned without fear--the Cabal. The
conspirators dare not trust themselves in the gallery: there is tapestry
there, and we all know what coverts there are for eaves-droppers and
spiders in tapestried walls: then the great Cardinal spiders do so click
there, are so like the death-watch, that Villiers, who is inveterately
superstitious, will not abide there. The hall, with its enclosing
galleries, and the buttery near, are manifestly unsafe. So they heard,
nay crouch, mutter, and concoct that fearful treachery which, as far as
their country is concerned, has been a thing apart in our annals, in 'my
Lady's' closet. Englishmen are turbulent, ambitious, unscrupulous; but
the craft of Maitland, Duke of Lauderdale--the subtlety of Ashley, seem
hardly conceivable either in a Scot or Southron.

These meetings had their natural consequence. One leaves Lauderdale,
Arlington, Ashley, and Clifford, to their fate. But the career of
Villiers inspires more interest. He seemed born for better things. Like
many men of genius, he was so credulous that the faith he pinned on one
Heydon, an astrologer, at this time, perhaps buoyed him up with false
hopes. Be it as it may, his plots now tended to open insurrection. In
1666, a proclamation had been issued for his apprehension--he having
then absconded. On this occasion he was saved by the act of one whom he
had injured grossly--his wife. She managed to outride the
serjeant-at-arms, and to warn him of his danger. She had borne his
infidelities, after the fashion of the day, as a matter of course:
jealousy was then an impertinence--constancy, a chimera; and her
husband, whatever his conduct, had ever treated her with kindness of
manner; he had that charm, that attribute of his family, in perfection,
and it had fascinated Mary Fairfax.

He fled, and played for a year successfully the pranks of his youth. At
last, worn out, he talked of giving himself up to justice. 'Mr. Fenn, at
the table, says that he hath been taken by the watch two or three times
of late, at unseasonable hours, but so disguised they did not know him;
and when I come home, by and by, Mr. Lowther tells me that the Duke of
Buckingham do dine publickly this day at Wadlow's, at the Sun Tavern;
and is mighty merry, and sent word to the Lieutenant of the Tower, that
he would come to him as soon as he dined.' So Pepys states.

Whilst in the Tower--to which he was again committed--Buckingham's
pardon was solicited by Lady Castlemaine; on which account the king was
very angry with her; called her a meddling 'jade;' she calling him
'fool,' and saying if he was not a fool he never would suffer his best
subjects to be imprisoned--referring to Buckingham. And not only did she
ask his liberty, but the restitution of his places. No wonder there was
discontent when such things were done, and public affairs were in such a
state. We must again quote the graphic, terse language of Pepys:--'It
was computed that the Parliament had given the king for this war only,
besides all prizes, and besides the £200,000 which he was to spend of
his own revenue, to guard the sea, above £5,000,000, and odd £100,000;
which is a most prodigious sum. Sir H. Cholmly, as a true English
gentleman, do decry the king's expenses of his privy purse, which in
King James's time did not rise to above £5,000 a year, and in King
Charles's to £10,000, do now cost us above £100,000, besides the great
charge of the monarchy, as the Duke of York has £100,000 of it, and
other limbs of the royal family.'

In consequence of Lady Castlemaine's intervention, Villiers was restored
to liberty--a strange instance, as Pepys remarks, of the 'fool's play'
of the age. Buckingham was now as presuming as ever: he had a theatre of
his own, and he soon showed his usual arrogance by beating Henry
Killigrew on the stage, and taking away his coat and sword; all very
'innocently' done, according to Pepys. In July he appeared in his place
in the House of Lords, as 'brisk as ever,' and sat in his robes,
'which,' says Pepys, 'is a monstrous thing that a man should be
proclaimed against, and put in the Tower, and released without any
trial, and yet not restored to his places.'

We next find the duke intrusted with a mission to France, in concert
with Halifax and Arlington. In the year 1680, he was threatened with an
impeachment, in which, with his usual skill, he managed to exculpate
himself by blaming Lord Arlington. The House of Commons passed a vote
for his removal; and he entered the ranks of the opposition.

But this career of public meanness and private profligacy was drawing to
a close. Alcibiades no longer--his frame wasted by vice--his spirits
broken by pecuniary difficulties--Buckingham's importance visibly sank
away. 'He remained, at last,' to borrow the words of Hume, 'as incapable
of doing hurt as he had ever been little desirous of doing good to
mankind.' His fortune had now dwindled down to £300 a year in land; he
sold Wallingford House, and removed into the City.

And now the fruits of his adversity, not, we hope, too late, began to
appear. Like Lord Rochester, who had ordered all his immoral works to be
burnt, Buckingham now wished to retrieve the past. In 1685 he wrote the
religious works which form so striking a contrast with his other

That he had been up to the very time of his ruin perfectly impervious to
remorse, dead also to shame, is amply manifested by his conduct soon
after his duel with the Earl of Shrewsbury.

Sir George Etherege had brought out a new play at the Duke of York's
Theatre. It was called, 'She Would if she Could.' Plays in those days
began at what we now consider our luncheon hour. Though Pepys arrived at
the theatre on this occasion at two o'clock--his wife having gone
before--about a thousand people had then been put back from the pit. At
last, seeing his wife in the eighteen-penny-box, Samuel 'made shift' to
get there and there saw, 'but lord!' (his own words are inimitable) 'how
dull, and how silly the play, there being nothing in the world good in
it, and few people pleased in it. The king was there; but I sat mightily
behind, and could see but little, and hear not at all. The play being
done, I went into the pit to look for my wife, it being dark and
raining, but could not find her; and so staid, going between the two
doors and through the pit an hour and a half, I think, after the play
was done; the people staying there till the rain was over, and to talk
to one another. And among the rest, here was the Duke of Buckingham
to-day openly in the pit; and there I found him with my Lord Buckhurst,
and Sedley, and Etheridge the poet, the last of whom I did hear mightily
find fault with the actors, that they were out of humour, and had not
their parts perfect, and that Harris did do nothing, nor could so much
as sing a ketch in it; and so was mightily concerned, while all the rest
did, through the whole pit, blame the play as a silly, dull thing,
though there was something very roguish and witty; but the design of the
play, and end, mighty insipid.'

Buckingham had held out to his Puritan friends the hope of his
conversion for some years; and when they attempted to convert him, he
had appointed a time for them to finish their work. They kept their
promise, and discovered him in the most profligate society. It was
indeed impossible to know in what directions his fancies might take him,
when we find him believing in the predictions of a poor fellow in a
wretched lodging near Tower Hill, who, having cast his nativity, assured
the duke he would be king.

He had continued for years to live with the Countess of Shrewsbury, and
two months after her husband's death, had taken her to his home. Then,
at last, the Duchess of Buckingham indignantly observed, that she and
the countess could not possibly live together. 'So I thought, madam,'
was the reply. 'I have therefore ordered your coach to take you to your
father's.' It has been asserted that Dr. Sprat, the duke's chaplain,
actually married him to Lady Shrewsbury, and that his legal wife was
thenceforth styled 'The Duchess-dowager.'

He retreated with his mistress to Claverdon, near Windsor, situated on
the summit of a hill which is washed by the Thames. It is a noble
building, with a great terrace in front, under which are twenty-six
niches, in which Buckingham had intended to place twenty-six statues as
large as life; and in the middle is an alcove with stairs. Here he lived
with the infamous countess, by whom he had a son, whom he styled Earl of
Coventry, (his second title,) and who died an infant.

One lingers still over the social career of one whom Louis XIV. called
'the only English gentleman he had ever seen.' A capital retort was made
to Buckingham by the Princess of Orange, during an interview, when he
stopped at the Hague, between her and the Duke. He was trying
diplomatically to convince her of the affection of England for the
States. 'We do not,' he said, 'use Holland like a mistress, we love her
as a wife.' '_Vraiment je crois que vous nous aimez comme vous aimez la
vôtre_,' was the sharp and clever answer.

On the death of Charles II., in 1685, Buckingham retired to the small
remnant of his Yorkshire estates. His debts were now set down at the sum
of £140,000. They were liquidated by the sale of his estates. He took
kindly to a country life, to the surprise of his old comrade in
pleasure, Etherege. 'I have heard the news,' that wit cried, alluding to
this change, 'with no less astonishment than if I had been told that the
Pope had begun to wear a periwig and had turned beau in the
seventy-fourth year of his age!'

Father Petre and Father Fitzgerald were sent by James II. to convert the
duke to Popery. The following anecdote is told of their conference with
the dying sinner:--'We deny,' said the Jesuit Petre, 'that any one can
be saved out of our Church. Your grace allows that our people may be
saved.'--'No,' said the duke, 'I make no doubt you will all be damned to
a man!' 'Sir,' said the father, 'I cannot argue with a person so void of
all charity.'--'I did not expect, my reverend father,' said the duke,
'such a reproach from you, whose whole reasoning was founded on the very
same instance of want of charity to yourself.'

Buckingham's death took place at Helmsby, in Yorkshire, and the
immediate cause was an ague and fever, owing to having sat down on the
wet grass after fox-hunting. Pope has given the following forcible, but
inaccurate account of his last hours, and the place in which they were

    'In the worst inn's worst room, with mat half hung,
     The floors of plaster and the walls of dung,
     On once a flock-bed, but repaired with straw,
     With tape-tied curtains never meant to draw;
     The George and Garter dangling from that bed,
     Where tawdry yellow strove with dirty red,
     Great Villiers lies:--alas! how changed from him,
     That life of pleasure and that soul of whim!
     Gallant and gay, in Claverdon's proud alcove,
     The bower of wanton Shrewsbury and love,
     Or, just as gay, at council in a ring
     Of mimic'd statesmen and their merry King.
     No wit to flatter left of all his store,
     No fool to laugh at, which he valued more,
     Then victor of his health, of fortune, friends,
     And fame, this lord of useless thousands ends.'

Far from expiring in the 'worst inn's worst room,' the duke breathed his
last in Kirby Moorside, in a house which had once been the best in the
place. Brian Fairfax, who loved this brilliant reprobate, has left the
only authentic account on record of his last hours.

The night previous to the duke's death Fairfax had received a message
from him desiring him to prepare a bed for him in his house, Bishop
Hill, in York. The next day, however, Fairfax was sent for to his
master, whom he found dying. He was speechless, but gave the afflicted
servant an earnest look of recognition.

The Earl of Arran, son of the Duke of Hamilton, and a gentleman of the
neighbourhood, stood by his bedside. He had then received the Holy
Communion from a neighbouring clergyman of the Established Church. When
the minister came it is said that he inquired of the duke what religion
he professed. 'It is,' replied the dying man, 'an insignificant
question, for I have been a shame and a disgrace to all religions: if
you can do me any good, pray do.' When a Popish priest had been
mentioned to him, he answered vehemently, 'No, no!'

He was in a very low state when Lord Arran had found him. But though
that nobleman saw death in his looks, the duke said he 'felt so well at
heart that he knew he could be in no danger.'

He appeared to have had inflammation in the bowels, which ended in
mortification. He begged of Lord Arran to stay with him. The house seems
to have been in a most miserable condition, for in a letter from Lord
Arran to Dr. Sprat, he says, 'I confess it made my heart bleed to see
the Duke of Buckingham in so pitiful a place, and so bad a condition,
and what made it worse, he was not at all sensible of it, for he thought
in a day or two he should be well; and when we reminded him of his
condition, he said it was not as we apprehended. So I sent for a worthy
gentleman, Mr. Gibson, to be assistant to me in this work; so we jointly
represented his condition to him, who I saw was at first very uneasy;
but I think we should not have discharged the duties of honest men if we
had suffered him to go out of this world without desiring him to prepare
for death.' The duke joined heartily in the beautiful prayers for the
dying, of our Church, and yet there was a sort of selfishness and
indifference to others manifest even at the last.

'Mr. Gibson,' writes Lord Arran, 'asked him if he had made a will, or if
he would declare who was to be his heir? but to the first, he answered
he had made none; and to the last, whoever was named he answered, "No."
First, my lady duchess was named, and then I think almost everybody that
had any relation to him, but his answer always was, "No." I did fully
represent my lady duchess' condition to him, but nothing that was said
to him could make him come to any point.'

In this 'retired corner,' as Lord Arran terms it, did the former wit and
beau, the once brave and fine cavalier, the reckless plotter in
after-life, end his existence. His body was removed to Helmsby Castle,
there to wait the duchess' pleasure, being meantime embalmed. Not one
farthing could his steward produce to defray his burial. His George and
blue ribbon were sent to the King James, with an account of his death.

In Kirby Moorside the following entry in the register of burials
records the event, which is so replete with a singular retributive
justice--so constituted to impress and sadden the mind:--

    'Georges Villus Lord dooke of Buckingham.'

He left scarcely a friend to mourn his life; for to no man had he been
true. He died on the 16th of April according to some accounts; according
to others, on the third of that month, 1687, in the sixty-first year of
his age. His body, after being embalmed, was deposited in the family
vault in Henry VII.'s chapel.[7] He left no children, and his title was
therefore extinct. The Duchess of Buckingham, of whom Brian Fairfax
remarks, 'that if she had none of the vanities, she had none of the
vices of the court,' survived him several years. She died in 1705, at
the age of sixty-six, and was buried in the vault of the Villiers'
family, in the chapel of Henry VII.

Such was the extinction of all the magnificence and intellectual
ascendency that at one time centred in the great and gifted family of


[Footnote 1: Dryden.]

[Footnote 2: The day after the battle at Kingston, the Duke's estates
were confiscated. (8th July, 1648.)--Nichols's History of
Leicestershire, iii. 213; who also says that the Duke offered marriage
to one of the daughters of Cromwell, but was refused. He went abroad in
1648, but returned with Charles II. to Scotland in 1650, and again
escaped to France after the battle of Worcester, 1651. The sale of the
pictures would seem to have commenced during his first exile.]

[Footnote 3: Sir George Villiers's second wife was Mary, daughter of
Antony Beaumont, Esq., of Glenfield, (Nichols's Leicestershire, iii.
193,) who was son of Wm. Beaumont, Esq., of Cole Orton. She afterwards
was married successively to Sir Wm. Rayner and Sir Thomas Compton, and
was created Countess of Buckingham in 1618.]

[Footnote 4: This incident is taken from Madame Dunois' Memoirs, part i.
p. 86.]

[Footnote 5: The duke became Master of the Horse in 1688; he paid
£20,000 to the Duke of Albemarle for the post.]

[Footnote 6: The duel with the Earl of Shrewsbury took place 17th
January, 1667-8.]

[Footnote 7: Brian Fairfax states, that at his death (the Duke of
Buckingham's) he charged his debts on his estate, leaving much more than
enough to cover them. By the register of Westminster Abbey it appears
that he was buried in Henry VII.'s Chapel, 7th June, 1687.]


  De Grammont's Choice.--His Influence with Turenne.--The Church or
      the Army?--An Adventure at Lyons.--A brilliant Idea.--De
      Grammont's Generosity.--A Horse 'for the
      Cards.'--Knight-Cicisbeism.--De Grammont's first Love.--His
      Witty Attacks on Mazarin.--Anne Lucie de la Mothe
      Houdancourt.--Beset with Snares.--De Grammont's Visits to
      England.--Charles II.--The Court of Charles II.--Introduction
      of Country-dances.--Norman Peculiarities.--St. Evremond, the
      Handsome Norman.--The most Beautiful Woman in Europe.--Hortense
      Mancini's Adventures.--Madame Mazarin's House at
      Chelsea.--Anecdote of Lord Dorset.--Lord Rochester in his
      Zenith.--His Courage and Wit.--Rochester's Pranks in the
      City.--Credulity, Past and Present.--'Dr. Bendo,' and La Belle
      Jennings.--La Triste Heritière.--Elizabeth, Countess of
      Rochester.--Retribution and Reformation.--Conversion.--Beaux
      without Wit.--Little Jermyn.--An Incomparable Beauty.--Anthony
      Hamilton, De Grammont's Biographer.--The Three Courts.--'La
      Belle Hamilton.'--Sir Peter Lely's Portrait of her.--The
      Household Deity of Whitehall.--Who shall have the Calèche?--A
      Chaplain in Livery.--De Grammont's Last Hours.--What might he
      not have been?

It has been observed by a French critic, that the Mémoires de Grammont
afford the truest specimens of French character in our language. To this
it may be added, that the subject of that animated narrative was most
completely French in principle, in intelligence, in wit that hesitated
at nothing, in spirits that were never daunted, and in that incessant
activity which is characteristic of his countrymen. Grammont, it was
said, 'slept neither night nor day;' his life was one scene of incessant

His father, supposed to have been the natural son of Henry the Great, of
France, did not suppress that fact, but desired to publish it: for the
morals of his time were so depraved, that it was thought to be more
honourable to be the illegitimate son of a king than the lawful child of
lowlier parents. Born in the Castle of Semeac, on the banks of the
Garonne, the fame of two fair ancestresses, Corisande and Menadame, had
entitled the family of De Grammont to expect in each successive member
an inheritance of beauty. Wit, courage, good nature, a charming address,
and boundless assurance, were the heritage of Philibert de Grammont.
Beauty was not in his possession; good nature, a more popular quality,
he had in abundance:

    'His wit to scandal never stooping,
     His mirth ne'er to buffoonery drooping.'

As Philibert grew up, the two aristocratic professions of France were
presented for his choice: the army, or the church. Neither of these
vocations constitutes now the ambition of the high-born in France: the
church, to a certain extent, retains its _prestige_, but the army, ever
since officers have risen from the ranks, does not comprise the same
class of men as in England. In the reign of Louis XIII., when De
Grammont lived it was otherwise. All political power was vested in the
church. Richelieu was, to all purposes, the ruler of France, the
dictator of Europe; and, with regard to the church, great men, at the
head of military affairs, were daily proving to the world, how much
intelligence could effect with a small numerical power. Young men took
one course or another: the sway of the cabinet, on the one hand, tempted
them to the church; the brilliant exploits of Turenne, and of Condé, on
the other, led them to the camp. It was merely the difference of dress
between the two that constituted the distinction: the soldier might be
as pious as the priest, the priest was sure to be as worldly as the
soldier; the soldier might have ecclesiastical preferment; the priest
sometimes turned out to fight.

Philibert de Grammont chose to be a soldier. He was styled the Chevalier
de Grammont, according to custom, his father being still living. He
fought under Turenne, at the siege of Trino. The army in which he served
was beleaguering that city when the gay youth from the banks of the
Garonne joined it, to aid it not so much by his valour as by the fun,
the raillery, the off-hand anecdote, the ready, hearty companionship
which lightened the soldier's life in the trenches: adieu to
impatience, to despair, even to gravity. The very generals could not
maintain their seriousness when the light-hearted De Grammont uttered a

    'Sworn enemy to all long speeches,
       Lively and brilliant, frank and free,
       Author of many a repartee:
       Remember, over all, that he
     Was not renowned for storming breaches.'

Where he came, all was sunshine, yet there breathed not a colder, graver
man than the Calvinist Turenne: modest, serious, somewhat hard, he gave
the young nobility who served under him no quarter in their
shortcomings; but a word, a look, from De Grammont could make him,
_malgrê lui_, unbend. The gay chevalier's white charger's prancing, its
gallant rider foremost in every peril, were not forgotten in
after-times, when De Grammont, in extreme old age, chatted over the
achievements and pleasures of his youth.

Amongst those who courted his society in Turenne's army was Matta, a
soldier of simple manners, hard habits, and handsome person, joined to a
candid, honest nature. He soon persuaded De Grammont to share his
quarters, and there they gave splendid entertainments, which,
Frenchman-like, De Grammont paid for out of the successes of the
gaming-tables. But chances were against them; the two officers were at
the mercy of their _maitre d'hôtel_, who asked for money. One day, when
De Grammont came home sooner than usual, he found Matta fast asleep.
Whilst De Grammont stood looking at him, he awoke, and burst into a
violent fit of laughter.

'What is the matter?' cried the chevalier.

'Faith, chevalier,' answered Matta, 'I was dreaming that we had sent
away our _maitre d'hôtel_, and were resolved to live like our neighbours
for the rest of the campaign.'

'Poor fellow!' cried De Grammont. 'So, you are knocked down at once:
what would have become of you if you had been reduced to the situation I
was in at Lyons, four days before I came here? Come, I will tell you all
about it.'

'Begin a little farther back,' cried Matta, 'and tell me about the
manner in which you first paid your respects to Cardinal Richelieu. Lay
aside your pranks as a child, your genealogy, and all your ancestors
together; you cannot know anything about them.'

'Well,' replied De Grammont, 'it was my father's own fault that he was
not Henry IV.'s son: see what the Grammonts have lost by this
crossed-grained fellow! Faith, we might have walked before the Counts de
Vendôme at this very moment.'

Then he went on to relate how he had been sent to Pau, to the college,
to be brought up to the church, with an old servant to act both as his
valet and his guardian. How his head was too full of gaming to learn
Latin. How they gave him his rank at college, as the youth of quality,
when he did not deserve it; how he travelled up to Paris to his brother
to be polished, and went to court in the character of an abbé. 'Ah,
Matta, you know the kind of dress then in vogue. No, I would not change
my dress, but I consented to draw over it a cassock. I had the finest
head of hair in the world, well curled and powdered above my cassock,
and below were my white buskins and spurs.'

Even Richelieu, that hypocrite, he went on to relate, could not help
laughing at the parti-coloured costume, sacerdotal above, soldier-like
below; but the cardinal was greatly offended--not with the absence of
decorum, but with the dangerous wit, that could laugh in public at the
cowl and shaven crown, points which constituted the greatest portion of
Richelieu's sanctity.

De Grammont's brother, however, thus addressed the Chevalier:--'Well, my
little parson,' said he, as they went home, 'you have acted your part to
perfection; but now you must choose your career. If you like to stick to
the church, you will possess great revenues, and nothing to do; if you
choose to go into the army, you will risk your arm or your leg, but in
time you may be a major-general with a wooden leg and a glass eye, the
spectacle of an indifferent, ungrateful court. Make your choice.'

The choice, Philibert went on to relate, was made. For the good of his
soul, he renounced the church, but for his own advantage, he kept his
abbacy. This was not difficult in days when secular abbés were common;
nothing would induce him to change his resolution of being a soldier.
Meantime he was perfecting his accomplishments as a fine gentleman, one
of the requisites for which was a knowledge of all sorts of games. No
matter that his mother was miserable at his decision. Had her son been
an abbé, she thought he would have become a saint: nevertheless, when he
returned home, with the air of a courtier and a man of the world, boy as
he was, and the very impersonation of what might then be termed _la
jeune France_, she was so enchanted with him that she consented to his
going to the wars, attended again by Brinon, his valet, equerry, and
Mentor in one. Next in De Grammont's narrative came his adventure at
Lyons, where he spent the 200 louis his mother had given Brinon for him,
in play, and very nearly broke the poor old servant's heart; where he
had duped a horse-dealer; and he ended by proposing plans, similarly
_honourable_, to be adopted for their present emergencies.

The first step was to go to head-quarters, to dine with a certain Count
de Cameran, a Savoyard, and invite him to supper. Here Matta interposed.
'Are you mad?' he exclaimed. 'Invite him to supper! we have neither
money nor credit; we are ruined; and to save us you intend to give a

'Stupid fellow!' cried De Grammont. 'Cameran plays at quinze: so do I:
we want money. He has more than he knows what to do with: we give a
supper, he pays for it. However,' he added, 'it is necessary to take
certain precautions. You command the Guards: when night comes on, order
your _Sergent-de-place_ to have fifteen or twenty men under arms, and
let them lay themselves flat on the ground between this and
head-quarters. Most likely we shall win this stupid fellow's money. Now
the Piedmontese are suspicious, and he commands the Horse. Now, you
know, Matta, you cannot hold your tongue, and are very likely to let out
some joke that will vex him. Supposing he takes it into his head that he
is being cheated? He has always eight or ten horsemen: we must be

'Embrace me!' cried Matta, 'embrace me! for thou art unparalleled. I
thought you only meant to prepare a pack of cards, and some false dice.
But the idea of protecting a man who plays at quinze by a detachment of
foot is excellent: thine own, dear Chevalier.'

Thus, like some of Dumas' heroes, hating villany as a matter of course,
but being by no means ashamed to acknowledge it, the Piedmontese was
asked to supper. He came. Nevertheless, in the midst of the affair, when
De Cameran was losing as fast as he could, Matta's conscience touched
him: he awoke from a deep sleep, heard the dice shaking, saw the poor
Savoyard losing, and advised him to play no more.

'Don't you know, Count, you _cannot_ win?'

'Why?' asked the Count.

'Why, faith, because we are cheating you,' was the reply.

The Chevalier turned round impatiently, 'Sieur Matta,' he cried, 'do you
suppose it can be any amusement to Monsieur le Comte to be plagued with
your ill-timed jests? For my part, I am so weary of the game, that I
swear by Jupiter I can scarcely play any more.' Nothing is more
distasteful to a losing gamester than a hint of leaving off; so the
Count entreated the Chevalier to continue, and assured him that
'Monsieur Matta might say what he pleased, for it did not give him the
least uneasiness to continue.'

The Chevalier allowed the Count to play upon credit, and that act of
courtesy was taken very kindly: the dupe lost 1,500 pistoles, which he
paid the next morning, when Matta was sharply reprimanded for his

'Faith,' he answered, 'it was a point of conscience with me; besides, it
would have given me pleasure to have seen his Horse engaged with my
Infantry, if he had taken anything amiss.'

The sum thus gained set the spendthrifts up; and De Grammont satisfied
his conscience by giving it away, to a certain extent, in charity. It is
singular to perceive in the history of this celebrated man that moral
taint of character which the French have never lost: this total absence
of right reasoning on all points of conduct, is coupled in our Gallic
neighbours with the greatest natural benevolence, with a generosity only
kept back by poverty, with impulsive, impressionable dispositions, that
require the guidance of a sound Protestant faith to elevate and correct

The Chevalier hastened, it is related, to find out distressed comrades,
officers who had lost their baggage, or who had been ruined by gaming;
or soldiers who had been disabled in the trenches; and his manner of
relieving them was as graceful and as delicate as the bounty he
distributed was welcome. He was the darling of the army. The poor
soldier knew him personally, and adored him; the general was sure to
meet him in the scenes of action, and to seek his company in those of

And, having thus retrieved his finances, the gay-hearted Chevalier used,
henceforth, to make De Cameran go halves with him in all games in which
the odds were in his own favour. Even the staid Calvinist, Turenne, who
had not then renounced, as he did in after-life, the Protestant faith,
delighted in the off-hand merriment of the Chevalier. It was towards the
end of the siege of Trino, that De Grammont went to visit that general
in some new quarters, where Turenne received him, surrounded by fifteen
or twenty officers. According to the custom of the day, cards were
introduced, and the general asked the Chevalier to play.

'Sir,' returned the young soldier, 'my tutor taught me that when a man
goes to see his friends it is neither prudent to leave his own money
behind him nor civil to take theirs.'

'Well,' answered Turenne, 'I can tell you you will find neither much
money nor deep play among us; but that it cannot be said that we allowed
you to go off without playing, suppose we each of us stake a horse.'

De Grammont agreed, and, lucky as ever, won from the officers some
fifteen or sixteen horses, by way of a joke; but seeing several faces
pale, he said, 'Gentlemen, I should be sorry to see you go away from
your general's quarters on foot; it will do very well if you all send me
to-morrow your horses, except one, which I give for the cards.'

The _valet-de-chambre_ thought he was jesting. 'I am serious,' cried
the Chevalier. '_Parole d'honneur_ I give a horse for the cards; and
what's more, take which you please, only don't take mine.'

'Faith,' said Turenne, pleased with the novelty of the affair, 'I don't
believe a horse was ever before given for the cards.'

Young people, and indeed old people, can perhaps hardly remember the
time when, even in England, money used to be put under the candlesticks
'for the cards,' as it was said, but in fact for the servants, who
waited. Winner or loser, the tax was to be paid, and this custom of
vails was also prevalent in France.

Trino at last surrendered, and the two friends rushed from their
campaigning life to enjoy the gaieties of Turin, at that time the centre
of pleasure; and resolved to perfect their characters as military
heroes--by falling in love, if respectably, well; if disreputably, well
too, perhaps all the more agreeable, and venturesome, as they thought.

The court of Turin was then presided over by the Duchess of Savoy,
_Madame Royale_, as she was called in France, the daughter of Henry IV.
of France, the sister of Henrietta Maria of England. She was a woman of
talent and spirit, worthy of her descent, and had certain other
qualities which constituted a point of resemblance between her and her
father; she was, like him, more fascinating than respectable.

The customs of Turin were rather Italian than French. At that time
every lady had her professed lover, who wore the liveries of his
mistress, bore her arms, and sometimes assumed her very name. The
office of the lover was, never to quit his lady in public, and never
to approach her in private: to be on all occasions her esquire. In the
tournament her chosen knight-cicisbeo came forth with his coat, his
housings, his very lance distinguished with the cyphers and colours of
her who had condescended to invest him with her preference. It was the
remnant of chivalry that authorized this custom; but of chivalry
demoralized--chivalry denuded of her purity, her respect, the chivalry
of corrupted Italy, not of that which, perhaps, fallaciously, we
assign to the earlier ages.

Grammont and Matta enlisted themselves at once in the service of two
beauties. Grammont chose for the queen of beauty, who was to 'rain
influence' upon him, Mademoiselle de St. Germain, who was in the very
bloom of youth. She was French, and, probably, an ancestress of that
all-accomplished Comte de St. Germain, whose exploits so dazzled
successive European courts, and the fullest account of whom, in all its
brilliant colours, yet tinged with mystery, is given in the Memoirs of
Maria Antoinette, by the Marquise d'Adhémar, her lady of the bed-chamber.

The lovely object of De Grammont's 'first love' was a radiant brunette
belle, who took no pains to set off by art the charms of nature. She had
some defects: her black and sparkling eyes were small; her forehead, by
no means 'as pure as moonlight sleeping upon snow,' was not fair,
neither were her hands; neither had she small feet--but her form
generally was perfect; her elbows had a peculiar elegance in them; and
in old times to hold the elbow out well, and yet not to stick it out,
was a point of early discipline. Then her glossy black hair set off a
superb neck and shoulders; and, moreover, she was gay, full of mirth,
life, complaisance, perfect in all the acts of politeness, and
invariable in her gracious and graceful bearing.

Matta admired her; but De Grammont ordered him to attach himself to the
Marquise de Senantes, a married beauty of the court; and Matta, in full
faith that all Grammont said and did was sure to succeed, obeyed his
friend. The Chevalier had fallen in love with Mademoiselle de St.
Germain at first sight, and instantly arrayed himself in her colour,
which was green, whilst Matta wore blue, in compliment to the marquise;
and they entered the next day upon duty, at La Venerie, where the
Duchess of Savoy gave a grand entertainment. De Grammont, with his
native tact and unscrupulous mendacity, played his part to perfection;
but his comrade, Matta, committed a hundred solecisms. The very second
time he honoured the marquise with his attentions, he treated her as if
she were his humble servant: when he pressed her hand, it was a pressure
that almost made her scream. When he ought to have ridden by the side of
her coach, he set off, on seeing a hare start from her form; then he
talked to her of partridges when he should have been laying himself at
her feet. Both these affairs ended as might have been expected.
Mademoiselle de St. Germain was diverted by Grammont, yet he could not
touch her heart. Her aim was to marry; his was merely to attach himself
to a reigning beauty. They parted without regret; and he left the then
remote court of Turin for the gayer scenes of Paris and Versailles. Here
he became as celebrated for his alertness in play as for his readiness
in repartee; as noted for his intrigues, as he afterwards was for his

Those were stirring days in France. Anne of Austria, then in her
maturity, was governed by Mazarin, the most artful of ministers, an
Italian to the very heart's core, with a love of amassing wealth
engrafted in his supple nature that amounted to a monomania. The whole
aim of his life was gain. Though gaming was at its height, Mazarin never
played for amusement; he played to enrich himself; and when he played,
he cheated.

The Chevalier de Grammont was now rich, and Mazarin worshipped the rich.
He was witty; and his wit soon procured him admission into the clique
whom the wily Mazarin collected around him in Paris. Whatever were De
Grammont's faults, he soon perceived those of Mazarin; he detected, and
he detested, the wily, grasping, serpent-like attributes of the Italian;
he attacked him on every occasion on which a 'wit combat' was possible:
he gracefully showed Mazarin off in his true colours. With ease he
annihilated him, metaphorically, at his own table. Yet De Grammont had
something to atone for: he had been the adherent and companion in arms
of Condé; he had followed that hero to Sens, to Nordlingen, to Fribourg,
and had returned to his allegiance to the young king, Louis XIV., only
because he wished to visit the court at Paris. Mazarin's policy,
however, was that of pardon and peace--of duplicity and treachery--and
the Chevalier seemed to be forgiven on his return to Paris, even by Anne
of Austria. Nevertheless, De Grammont never lost his independence; and
he could boast in after-life that he owed the two great cardinals who
had governed France nothing that they could have refused. It was true
that Richelieu had left him his abbacy; but he could not refuse it to
one of De Grammont's rank. From Mazarin he had gained nothing except
what he had won at play.

After Mazarin's death the Chevalier intended to secure the favour of the
king, Louis XIV., to whom, as he rejoiced to find, court alone was now
to be paid. He had now somewhat rectified his distinctions between right
and wrong, and was resolved to have no regard for favour unless
supported by merit; he determined to make himself beloved by the
courtiers of Louis, and feared by the ministers; to dare to undertake
anything to do good, and to engage in nothing at the expense of
innocence. He still continued to be eminently successful in play, of
which he did not perceive the evil, nor allow the wickedness; but he was
unfortunate in love, in which he was equally unscrupulous and more rash
than at the gaming-table.

Among the maids of honour of Anne of Austria was a young lady named Anne
Lucie de la Mothe Houdancourt. Louis, though not long married, showed
some symptoms of admiration for this _débutante_ in the wicked ways of
the court.

Gay, radiant in the bloom of youth and innocence, the story of this
young girl presents an instance of the unhappiness which, without guilt,
the sins of others bring upon even the virtuous. The queen-dowager, Anne
of Austria, was living at St. Germains when Mademoiselle de la Mothe
Houdancourt was received into her household. The Duchess de Noailles, at
that time _Grande Maitresse_, exercised a vigilant and kindly rule over
the maids of honour; nevertheless, she could not prevent their being
liable to the attentions of Louis: she forbade him however to loiter, or
indeed even to be seen in the room appropriated to the young damsels
under her charge; and when attracted by the beauty of Annie Lucie de la
Mothe, Louis was obliged to speak to her through a hole behind a clock
which stood in a corridor.

Annie Lucie, notwithstanding this apparent encouragement of the king's
addresses, was perfectly indifferent to his admiration. She was secretly
attached to the Marquis de Richelieu, who had, or pretended to have,
honourable intentions towards her. Everything was tried, but tried in
vain, to induce the poor girl to give up all her predilections for the
sake of a guilty distinction--that of being the king's mistress: even
her _mother_ reproached her with her coldness. A family council was
held, in hopes of convincing her of her wilfulness, and Annie Lucie was
bitterly reproached by her female relatives; but her heart still clung
to the faithless Marquis de Richelieu, who, however, when he saw that a
royal lover was his rival, meanly withdrew.

Her fall seemed inevitable; but the firmness of Anne of Austria saved
her from her ruin. That queen insisted on her being sent away; and she
resisted even the entreaties of the queen, her daughter-in-law, and the
wife of Louis XIV.; who, for some reasons not explained, entreated that
the young lady might remain at the court. Anne was sent away in a sort
of disgrace to the convent of Chaïllot, which was then considered to be
quite out of Paris, and sufficiently secluded to protect her from
visitors. According to another account, a letter full of reproaches,
which she wrote to the Marquis de Richelieu upbraiding him for his
desertion, had been intercepted.

It was to this young lady that De Grammont, who was then, in the very
centre of the court, 'the type of fashion and the mould of form,'
attached himself to her as an admirer who could condescend to honour
with his attentions those whom the king pursued. The once gay girl was
thus beset with snares: on one side was the king, whose disgusting
preference was shown when in her presence by sighs and sentiment; on the
other, De Grammont, whose attentions to her were importunate, but failed
to convince her that he was in love; on the other was the time-serving,
heartless De Richelieu, whom her reason condemned, but whom her heart
cherished. She soon showed her distrust and dislike of De Grammont: she
treated him with contempt; she threatened him with exposure, yet he
would not desist: then she complained of him to the king. It was then
that he perceived that though love could equalize conditions, it could
not act in the same way between rivals. He was commanded to leave the
court. Paris, therefore, Versailles, Fontainbleau, and St. Germains were
closed against this gay Chevalier; and how could he live elsewhere?
Whither could he go? Strange to say, he had a vast fancy to behold the
man who, stained with the crime of regicide, and sprung from the people,
was receiving magnificent embassies from continental nations, whilst
Charles II. was seeking security in his exile from the power of Spain in
the Low Countries. He was eager to see the Protector, Cromwell. But
Cromwell, though in the height of his fame when beheld by De
Grammont--though feared at home and abroad--was little calculated to win
suffrages from a mere man of pleasure like De Grammont. The court, the
city, the country, were in his days gloomy, discontented, joyless: a
proscribed nobility was the sure cause of the thin though few
festivities of the now lugubrious gallery of Whitehall. Puritanism drove
the old jovial churchmen into retreat, and dispelled every lingering
vestige of ancient hospitality: long graces and long sermons,
sanctimonious manners, and grim, sad faces, and sad-coloured dresses
were not much to De Grammont's taste; he returned to France, and
declared that he had gained no advantage from his travels. Nevertheless,
either from choice or necessity, he made another trial of the damps and
fogs of England.[8]

When he again visited our country, Charles II. had been two years seated
on the throne of his father. Everything was changed, and the British
court was in its fullest splendour; whilst the rejoicings of the people
of England at the Restoration were still resounding through the land.

If one could include royal personages in the rather gay than worthy
category of the 'wits and beaux of society,' Charles II. should figure
at their head. He was the most agreeable companion, and the worst king
imaginable. In the first place he was, as it were, a citizen of the
world: tossed about by fortune from his early boyhood; a witness at the
tender age of twelve of the battle of Edge Hill, where the celebrated
Harvey had charge of him and of his brother. That inauspicious
commencement of a wandering life had perhaps been amongst the least of
his early trials. The fiercest was his long residence as a sort of royal
prisoner in Scotland. A travelled, humbled man, he came back to England
with a full knowledge of men and manners, in the prime of his life,
with spirits unbroken by adversity, with a heart unsoured by that 'stern
nurse,' with a gaiety that was always kindly, never uncourteous, ever
more French than English; far more natural did he appear as the son of
Henrietta Maria than as the offspring of the thoughtful Charles.

In person, too, the king was then agreeable, though rather what the
French would call _distingué_ than dignified; he was, however, tall, and
somewhat elegant, with a long French face, which in his boyhood was
plump and full about the lower part of the cheeks, but now began to sink
into that well-known, lean, dark, flexible countenance, in which we do
not, however, recognize the gaiety of the man whose very name brings
with it associations of gaiety, politeness, good company, and all the
attributes of a first-rate wit, except the almost inevitable ill-nature.
There is in the physiognomy of Charles II. that melancholy which is
often observable in the faces of those who are mere men of pleasure.

De Grammont found himself completely in his own sphere at Whitehall,
where the habits were far more French than English. Along that stately
Mall, overshadowed with umbrageous trees, which retains--and it is to be
hoped ever will retain--the old name of the 'Birdcage Walk,' one can
picture to oneself the king walking so fast that no one can keep up with
him; yet stopping from time to time to chat with some acquaintances. He
is walking to Duck Island, which is full of his favourite water-fowl,
and of which he has given St. Evremond the government. How pleasant is
his talk to those who attend him as he walks along; how well the quality
of good-nature is shown in his love of dumb animals: how completely he
is a boy still, even in that brown wig of many curls, and with the
George and Garter on his breast! Boy, indeed, for he is followed by a
litter of young spaniels: a little brindled greyhound frisks beside him;
it is for that he is ridiculed by the '_psalm_' sung at the Calves' Head
Club: these favourites were cherished to his death.

    'His dogs would sit in council boards
     Like judges in their seats:
     We question much which had most sense,
     The master or the curs.'

Then what capital stories Charles would tell, as he unbent at night
amid the faithful, though profligate, companions of his exile! He told
his anecdotes, it is true, over and over again, yet they were always
embellished with some fresh touch--like the repetition of a song which
has been encored on the stage. Whether from his inimitable art, or from
his royalty, we leave others to guess, but his stories bore repetition
again and again: they were amusing, and even novel to the very last.

To this seducing court did De Grammont now come. It was a delightful
exchange from the endless ceremonies and punctilios of the region over
which Louis XIV. presided. Wherever Charles was, his palace appeared to
resemble a large hospitable house--sometimes town, sometimes country--in
which every one did as he liked; and where distinctions of rank were
kept up as a matter of convenience, but were only valued on that score.

In other respects, Charles had modelled his court very much on the plan
of that of Louis XIV., which he had admired for its gaiety and spirit.
Corneille, Racine, Molière, Boileau, were encouraged by _le Grand
Monarque_. Wycherley and Dryden were attracted by Charles to celebrate
the festivities, and to amuse the great and the gay. In various points
De Grammont found a resemblance. The queen-consort, Catherine of
Braganza, was as complacent to her husband's vices as the queen of
Louis. These royal ladies were merely first sultanas, and had no right,
it was thought, to feel jealousy, or to resent neglect. Each returning
sabbath saw Whitehall lighted up, and heard the tabors sound for a
_branle_, (Anglicised 'brawl'). This was a dance which mixed up
everybody, and called a brawl, from the foot being shaken to a quick
time. Gaily did his Majesty perform it, leading to the hot exercise Anne
Hyde, Duchess of York, stout and homely, and leaving Lady Castlemaine to
his son, the Duke of Monmouth. Then Charles, with ready grace, would
begin the coranto, taking a single lady in this dance along the gallery.
Lords and ladies one after another followed, and 'very noble,' writes
Pepys, 'and great pleasure it was to see.' Next came the country dances,
introduced by Mary, Countess of Buckingham, the grandmother of the
graceful duke who is moving along the gallery;--and she invented those
once popular dances in order to introduce, with less chance of failure,
her rustic country cousins, who could not easily be taught to carry
themselves well in the brawl, or to step out gracefully in the coranto,
both of which dances required practice and time. In all these dances the
king shines the most, and dances much better than his brother the Duke
of York.

In these gay scenes De Grammont met with the most fashionable belles of
the court: fortunately for him they all spoke French tolerably; and he
quickly made himself welcome amongst even the few--and few indeed there
were--who plumed themselves upon untainted reputations. Hitherto those
French noblemen who had presented themselves in England had been poor
and absurd. The court had been thronged with a troop of impertinent
Parisian coxcombs, who had pretended to despise everything English, and
who treated the natives as if they were foreigners in their own country.
De Grammont, on the contrary, was familiar with every one: he ate, he
drank, he lived, in short, according to the custom of the country that
hospitably received him, and accorded him the more respect, because they
had been insulted by others.

He now introduced the _petits soupers_, which have never been understood
anywhere so well as in France, and which are even there dying out to
make way for the less social and more expensive dinner; but, perhaps, he
would even here have been unsuccessful, had it not been for the society
and advice of the famous St. Evremond, who at this time was exiled in
France, and took refuge in England.

This celebrated and accomplished man had some points of resemblance with
De Grammont. Like him, he had been originally intended for the church;
like him he had turned to the military profession; he was an ensign
before he was full sixteen; and had a company of foot given him after
serving two or three campaigns. Like De Grammont, he owed the facilities
of his early career to his being the descendant of an ancient and
honourable family. St. Evremond was the Seigneur of St Denis le Guast,
in Normandy, where he was born.

Both these sparkling wits of society had at one time, and, in fact, at
the same period, served under the great Condé; both were pre-eminent,
not only in literature, but in games of chance. St. Evremond was famous
at the University of Caen, in which he studied, for his fencing; and
'St. Evremond's pass' was well known to swordsmen of his time;--both
were gay and satirical; neither of them pretended to rigid morals; but
both were accounted men of honour among their fellow-men of pleasure.
They were graceful, kind, generous.

In person St. Evremond had the advantage, being a Norman--a race which
combines the handsomest traits of an English countenance with its blond
hair, blue eyes, and fair skin. Neither does the slight tinge of the
Gallic race detract from the attractions of a true, well-born Norman,
bred up in that province which is called the Court-end of France, and
polished in the capital. Your Norman is hardy, and fond of field-sports:
like the Englishman, he is usually fearless; generous, but, unlike the
English, somewhat crafty. You may know him by the fresh colour, the
peculiar blue eye, long and large; by his joyousness and look of health,
gathered up in his own marshy country, for the Norman is well fed, and
lives on the produce of rich pasture-land, with cheapness and plenty
around him. And St. Evremond was one of the handsomest specimens of this
fine locality (so mixed up as it is with _us_); and his blue eyes
sparkled with humour; his beautifully-turned mouth was all sweetness;
and his noble forehead, the whiteness of which was set off by thick dark
eyebrows, was expressive of his great intelligence, until a wen grew
between his eyebrows, and so changed all the expression of his face that
the Duchess of Mazarin used to call him the 'Old Satyr.' St. Evremond
was also Norman in other respects: he called himself a thorough Roman
Catholic, yet he despised the superstitions of his church, and prepared
himself for death without them. When asked by an ecclesiastic sent
expressly from the court of Florence to attend his death-bed, if he
'would be reconciled,' he answered, 'With all my heart; I would fain be
reconciled to my stomach, which no longer performs its usual
functions.' And his talk, we are told, during the fortnight that
preceded his death, was not regret for a life we should, in seriousness,
call misspent, but because partridges and pheasants no longer suited his
condition, and he was obliged to be reduced to boiled meats. No one,
however, could tell what might also be passing in his heart. We cannot
always judge of a life, any more than of a drama, by its last scene; but
this is certain, that in an age of blasphemy St. Evremond could not
endure to hear religion insulted by ridicule. 'Common decency,' said
this man of the world, 'and a due regard to our fellow-creatures, would
not permit it.' He did not, it seems, refer his displeasure to a higher
source--to the presence of the Omniscient,--who claims from us all not
alone the tribute of our poor frail hearts in serious moments, but the
deep reverence of every thought in the hours of careless pleasure.

It was now St. Evremond who taught De Grammont to collect around him the
wits of that court, so rich in attractions, so poor in honour and
morality. The object of St. Evremond's devotion, though he had, at the
æra of the Restoration, passed his fiftieth year, was Hortense Mancini,
once the richest heiress, and still the most beautiful woman in Europe,
and a niece, on her mother's side, of Cardinal Mazarin. Hortense had
been educated, after the age of six, in France. She was Italian in her
accomplishments, in her reckless, wild disposition, opposed to that of
the French, who are generally calculating and wary, even in their vices:
she was Italian in the style of her surpassing beauty, and French to the
core in her principles. Hortense, at the age of thirteen, had been
married to Armand Duc de Meilleraye and Mayenne, who had fallen so
desperately in love with this beautiful child, that he declared 'if he
did not marry her he should die in three months.' Cardinal Mazarin,
although he had destined his niece Mary to this alliance, gave his
consent on condition that the duke should take the name of Mazarin. The
cardinal died a year after this marriage, leaving his niece Hortense the
enormous fortune of £1,625,000; yet she died in the greatest
difficulties, and her corpse was seized by her creditors.

The Duc de Mayenne proved to be a fanatic, who used to waken his wife
in the dead of the night to hear his visions; who forbade his child to
be nursed on fast-days; and who believed himself to be inspired. After
six years of wretchedness poor Hortense petitioned for a separation and
a division of property. She quitted her husband's home and took refuge
first in a nunnery, where she showed her unbelief, or her irreverence,
by mixing ink with holy-water, that the poor nuns might black their
faces when they crossed themselves; or, in concert with Madame de
Courcelles, another handsome married woman, she used to walk through the
dormitories in the dead of night, with a number of little dogs barking
at their heels; then she filled two great chests that were over the
dormitories with water, which ran over, and, penetrating through the
chinks of the floor, wet the holy sisters in their beds. At length all
this sorry gaiety was stopped by a decree that Hortense was to return to
the Palais Mazarin; and to remain there until the suit for a separation
should be decided. That the result should be favourable was doubtful:
therefore, one fine night in June, 1667, Hortense escaped. She dressed
herself in male attire, and, attended by a female servant, managed to
get through the gate at Paris, and to enter a carriage. Then she fled to
Switzerland; and, had not her flight been shared by the Chevalier de
Rohan, one of the handsomest men in France, one could hardly have blamed
an escape from a half-lunatic husband. She was only twenty-eight when,
after various adventures, she came in all her unimpaired beauty to
England. Charles was captivated by her charms, and, touched by her
misfortunes, he settled on her a pension of £4,000 a year, and gave her
rooms in St. James's. Waller sang her praise:--

    'When through the world fair Mazarine had run,
     Bright as her fellow-traveller, the sun:
     Hither at length the Roman eagle flies,
     As the last triumph of her conquering eyes.'

If Hortense failed to carry off from the Duchess of Portsmouth--then the
star of Whitehall--the heart of Charles, she found, at all events, in
St. Evremond, one of those French, platonic, life-long friends, who, as
Chateaubriand worshipped Madame Récamier, adored to the last the exiled
niece of Mazarin. Every day, when in her old age and his, the warmth of
love had subsided into the serener affection of pitying, and yet
admiring friendship, St. Evremond was seen, a little old man in a black
coif, carried along Pall Mall in a sedan chair, to the apartment of
Madame Mazarin, in St. James's. He always took with him a pound of
butter, made in his own little dairy, for her breakfast. When De
Grammont was installed at the court of Charles, Hortense was, however,
in her prime. Her house at Chelsea, then a country village, was famed
for its society and its varied pleasures. St. Evremond has so well
described its attractions that his words should be literally given.
'Freedom and discretion are equally to be found there. Every one is made
more at home than in his own house, and treated with more respect than
at court. It is true that there are frequent disputes there, but they
are those of knowledge and not of anger. There is play there, but it is
inconsiderable, and only practised for its amusement. You discover in no
countenance the fear of losing, nor concern for what is lost. Some are
so disinterested that they are reproached for expressing joy when they
lose, and regret when they win. Play is followed by the most excellent
repasts in the world. There you will find whatever delicacy is brought
from France, and whatever is curious from the Indies. Even the commonest
meats have the rarest relish imparted to them. There is neither a plenty
which gives a notion of extravagance, nor a frugality that discovers
penury or meanness.'

What an assemblage it must have been! Here lolls Charles, Lord
Buckhurst, afterwards Lord Dorset, the laziest, in matters of business
or court advancement--the boldest, in point of frolic and pleasure, of
all the wits and beaux of his time. His youth had been full of adventure
and of dissipation. 'I know not how it is,' said Wilmot, Lord Rochester,
'but my Lord Dorset can do anything, and is never to blame.' He had, in
truth, a heart; he could bear to hear others praised; he despised the
arts of courtiers; he befriended the unhappy; he was the most engaging
of men in manners, the most loveable and accomplished of human beings;
at once poet, philanthropist, and wit; he was also possessed of
chivalric notions, and of daring courage.

Like his royal master, Lord Dorset had travelled; and when made a
gentleman of the bedchamber to Charles II., he was not unlike his
sovereign in other traits; so full of gaiety, so high-bred, so lax, so
courteous, so convivial, that no supper was complete without him: no
circle 'the right thing,' unless Buckhurst, as he was long called, was
there to pass the bottle round, and to keep every one in good-humour.
Yet, he had misspent a youth in reckless immorality, and had even been
in Newgate on a charge, a doubtful charge it is true, of highway robbery
and murder, but had been found guilty of manslaughter only. He was again
mixed up in a disgraceful affair with Sir Charles Sedley. When brought
before Sir Robert Hyde, then Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, his name
having been mentioned, the judge inquired whether that was the Buckhurst
lately tried for robbery? and when told it was, he asked him whether he
had so soon forgotten his deliverance at that time: and whether it would
not better become him to have been at his prayers begging God's
forgiveness than to come into such courses again?

The reproof took effect, and Buckhurst became what was then esteemed a
steady man; he volunteered and fought gallantly in the fleet under James
Duke of York: and he completed his reform, to all outward show, by
marrying Lady Falmouth.[9] Buckhurst, in society, the most good-tempered
of men, was thus referred to by Prior, in his poetical epistle to
Fleetwood Sheppard:--

    'When crowding folks, with strange ill faces,
     Were making legs, and begging places:
     And some with patents, some with merit,
     Tired out my good Lord Dorset's spirit.'

Yet his pen was full of malice, whilst his heart was tender to all.
Wilmot, Lord Rochester, cleverly said of him:--

    'For pointed satire I would Buckhurst chuse,
     The best good man with the worst-natured muse.'

Still more celebrated as a beau and wit of his time, was John Wilmot,
Lord Rochester. He was the son of Lord Wilmot, the cavalier who so
loyally attended Charles II. after the Battle of Worcester; and, as, the
offspring of that royalist, was greeted by Lord Clarendon, then
Chancellor of the University of Oxford, when he took his degree as
Master of Arts, with a kiss.[10] The young nobleman then travelled,
according to custom; and then most unhappily for himself and for others,
whom he corrupted by his example, he presented himself at the court of
Charles II. He was at this time a youth of eighteen, and one of the
handsomest persons of his age. The face of Buckhurst was hard and plain;
that of De Grammont had little to redeem it but its varying
intelligence; but the countenance of the young Earl of Rochester was
perfectly symmetrical: it was of a long oval, with large, thoughtful,
sleepy eyes; the eyebrows arched and high above them; the brow, though
concealed by the curls of the now modest wig, was high and smooth; the
nose, delicately shaped, somewhat aquiline; the mouth full, but
perfectly beautiful, was set off by a round and well-formed chin. Such
was Lord Rochester in his zenith; and as he came forward on state
occasions, his false light curls hanging down on his shoulders--a
cambric kerchief loosely tied, so as to let the ends, worked in point,
fall gracefully down: his scarlet gown in folds over a suit of light
steel armour--for men had become carpet knights then, and the coat of
mail worn by the brave cavaliers was now less warlike, and was mixed up
with robes, ruffles, and rich hose--and when in this guise he appeared
at Whitehall, all admired; and Charles was enchanted with the
simplicity, the intelligence, and modesty of one who was then an
ingenuous youth, with good aspirations, and a staid and decorous

Woe to Lady Rochester--woe to the mother who trusted her son's innocence
in that vitiated court! Lord Rochester forms one of the many instances
we daily behold, that it is those most tenderly cared for, who often
fall most deeply, as well as most early, into temptation. He soon lost
every trace of virtue--of principle, even of deference to received
notions of propriety. For a while there seemed hopes that he would not
wholly fall: courage was his inheritance, and he distinguished himself
in 1665, when as a volunteer, he went in quest of the Dutch East India
fleet, and served with heroic gallantry under Lord Sandwich. And when he
returned to court, there was a partial improvement in his conduct. He
even looked back upon his former indiscretions with horror: he had now
shared in the realities of life: he had grasped a high and honourable
ambition; but he soon fell away--soon became almost a castaway. 'For
five years,' he told Bishop Burnet, when on his death-bed, 'I was never
sober.' His reputation as a wit must rest, in the present day, chiefly
upon productions which have long since been condemned as unreadable.
Strange to say, when not under the influence of wine, he was a constant
student of classical authors, perhaps the worst reading for a man of his
tendency: all that was satirical and impure attracting him most.
Boileau, among French writers, and Cowley among the English, were his
favourite authors. He also read many books of physic; for long before
thirty his constitution was so broken by his life, that he turned his
attention to remedies, and to medical treatment; and it is remarkable
how many men of dissolute lives take up the same sort of reading, in the
vain hope of repairing a course of dissolute living. As a writer, his
style was at once forcible and lively; as a companion, he was wildly
vivacious: madly, perilously, did he outrage decency, insult virtue,
profane religion. Charles II. liked him on first acquaintance, for
Rochester was a man of the most finished and fascinating manners; but at
length there came a coolness, and the witty courtier was banished from
Whitehall. Unhappily for himself, he was recalled, and commanded to wait
in London until his majesty should choose to readmit him into his

Disguises and practical jokes were the fashion of the day. The use of
the mask, which was put down by proclamation soon after the accession of
Queen Anne, favoured a series of pranks with which Lord Rochester,
during the period of his living concealed in London, diverted himself.
The success of his scheme was perfect. He established himself, since he
could not go to Whitehall, in the City. 'His first design,' De Grammont
relates, 'was only to be initiated into the mysteries of those fortunate
and happy inhabitants; that is to say, by changing his name and dress,
to gain admittance to their feasts and entertainments.... As he was able
to adapt himself to all capacities and humours, he soon deeply
insinuated himself into the esteem of the substantial wealthy aldermen,
and into the affections of their more delicate, magnificent, and tender
ladies; he made one in all their feasts and at all their assemblies; and
whilst in the company of the husbands, he declaimed against the faults
and mistakes of government; he joined their wives in railing against the
profligacy of the court ladies, and in inveighing against the king's
mistresses: he agreed with them, that the industrious poor were to pay
for these cursed extravagances; that the City beauties were not inferior
to those at the other end of the town,... after which, to outdo their
murmurings, he said, that he wondered Whitehall was not yet consumed by
fire from heaven, since such rakes as Rochester, Killigrew, and Sidney
were suffered there.'

This conduct endeared him so much to the City, and made him so welcome
at their clubs, that at last he grew sick of their cramming, and endless

He now tried a new sphere of action; and instead of returning, as he
might have done, to the court, retreated into the most obscure corners
of the metropolis; and again changing his name and dress, gave himself
out as a German doctor named Bendo, who professed to find out
inscrutable secrets, and to apply infallible remedies; to know, by
astrology, all the past, and to foretell the future.

If the reign of Charles was justly deemed an age of high civilization,
it was also one of extreme credulity. Unbelief in religion went hand in
hand with blind faith in astrology and witchcraft; in omens,
divinations, and prophecies: neither let us too strongly despise, in
these their foibles, our ancestors. They had many excuses for their
superstitions; and for their fears, false as their hopes, and equally
groundless. The circulation of knowledge was limited: the public
journals, that part of the press to which we now owe inexpressible
gratitude for its general accuracy, its enlarged views, its purity, its
information, was then a meagre statement of dry facts: an announcement,
not a commentary. 'The Flying Post,' the 'Daily Courant,' the names of
which may be supposed to imply speed, never reached lone country places
till weeks after they had been printed on their one duodecimo sheet of
thin coarse paper. Religion, too, just emerging into glorious light from
the darkness of popery, had still her superstitions; and the mantle that
priestcraft had contrived to throw over her exquisite, radiant, and
simple form, was not then wholly and finally withdrawn. Romanism still
hovered in the form of credulity.

But now, with shame be it spoken, in the full noonday genial splendour
of our Reformed Church, with newspapers, the leading articles of which
rise to a level with our greatest didactic writers, and are competent
even to form the mind as well as to amuse the leisure hours of the young
readers: with every species of direct communication, we yet hold to
fallacies from which the credulous in Charles's time would have shrunk
in dismay and disgust. Table-turning, spirit-rapping, _clairvoyance_,
Swedenborgianism, and all that family of follies, would have been far
too strong for the faith of those who counted upon dreams as their
guide, or looked up to the heavenly planets with a belief, partly
superstitious, partly reverential, for their guidance; and in a dim and
flickering faith trusted to their _stars_.

'Dr. Bendo,' therefore, as Rochester was called--handsome, witty,
unscrupulous, and perfectly acquainted with the then small circle of the
court--was soon noted for his wonderful revelations. Chamber-women,
waiting-maids, and shop-girls were his first customers: but, very soon,
gay spinsters from the court came in their hoods and masks to ascertain
with anxious faces, their fortunes; whilst the cunning, sarcastic 'Dr.
Bendo,' noted in his diary all the intrigues which were confided to him
by these lovely clients. La Belle Jennings, the sister of Sarah Duchess
of Marlborough, was among his disciples; she took with her the beautiful
Miss Price, and, disguising themselves as orange girls, these young
ladies set off in a hackney-coach to visit Dr. Bendo; but when within
half a street of the supposed fortune-teller's, were prevented by the
interruption of a dissolute courtier named Brounker.

'Everything by turns and nothing long.' When Lord Rochester was tired of
being an astrologer, he used to roam about the streets as a beggar; then
he kept a footman who knew the Court well, and used to dress him up in a
red coat, supply him with a musket, like a sentinel, and send him to
watch at the doors of all the fine ladies, to find out their goings on:
afterwards, Lord Rochester would retire to the country, and write libels
on these fair victims, and, one day, offered to present the king with
one of his lampoons; but being tipsy, gave Charles, instead, one written
upon himself.

At this juncture we read with sorrow Bishop Burnet's forcible
description of his career:--

'He seems to have freed himself from all impressions of virtue or
religion, of honour or good nature.... He had but one maxim, to which he
adhered firmly, that he has to do everything, and deny himself in
nothing that might maintain his greatness. He was unhappily made for
drunkenness, for he had drunk all his friends dead, and was able to
subdue two or three sets of drunkards one after another; so it scarce
ever appeared that he was disordered after the greatest drinking: an
hour or two of sleep carried all off so entirely, that no sign of them
remained.... This had a terrible conclusion.'

Like many other men, Rochester might have been saved by being kept far
from the scene of temptation. Whilst he remained in the country he was
tolerably sober, perhaps steady. When he approached Brentford on his
route to London, his old propensities came upon him.

When scarcely out of his boyhood he carried off a young heiress,
Elizabeth Mallett, whom De Grammont calls _La triste heritière_: and
triste, indeed, she naturally was. Possessed of a fortune of £2500 a
year, this young lady was marked out by Charles II. as a victim for the
profligate Rochester. But the reckless young wit chose to take his own
way of managing the matter. One night, after supping at Whitehall with
Miss Stuart, the young Elizabeth was returning home with her
grandfather, Lord Haly, when their coach was suddenly stopped near
Charing Cross by a number of bravos, both on horseback and on foot--the
'Roaring Boys and Mohawks,' who were not extinct even in Addison's time.
They lifted the affrighted girl out of the carriage, and placed her in
one which had six horses; they then set off for Uxbridge, and were
overtaken; but the outrage ended in marriage, and Elizabeth became the
unhappy, neglected Countess of Rochester. Yet she loved him--perhaps in
ignorance of all that was going on whilst _she_ stayed with her four
children at home.

'If,' she writes to him, 'I could have been troubled at anything, when I
had the happiness of receiving a letter from you, I should be so,
because you did not name a time when I might hope to see you, the
uncertainty of which very much afflicts me.... Lay your commands upon me
what I am to do, and though it be to forget my children, and the long
hope I have lived in of seeing you, yet will I endeavour to obey you; or
in the memory only torment myself, without giving you the trouble of
putting you in mind that there lives a creature as

    'Your faithful, humble servant.'

And he, in reply: 'I went away (to Rochester) like a rascal, without
taking leave, dear wife. It is an unpolished way of proceeding, which a
modest man ought to be ashamed of. I have left you a prey to your own
imaginations amongst my relations, the worst of damnations. But there
will come an hour of deliverance, till when, may my mother be merciful
unto you! So I commit you to what I shall ensue, woman to woman, wife to
mother, in hopes of a future appearance in glory....

'Pray write as often as you have leisure, to your


To his son, he writes: 'You are now grown big enough to be a man, if
you can be wise enough; and the way to be truly wise is to serve God,
learn your book, and observe the instructions of your parents first, and
next your tutor, to whom I have entirely resigned you for this seven
years; and according as you employ that time, you are to be happy or
unhappy for ever. I have so good an opinion of you, that I am glad to
think you will never deceive me. Dear child, learn your book and be
obedient, and you will see what a father I shall be to you. You shall
want no pleasure while you are good, and that you may be good are my
constant prayers.'

Lord Rochester had not attained the age of thirty, when he was
mercifully awakened to a sense of his guilt here, his peril hereafter.
It seemed to many that his very nature was so warped that penitence in
its true sense could never come to him; but the mercy of God is
unfathomable; He judges not as man judges; He forgives, as man knows not
how to forgive.

    'God, our kind Master, merciful as just,
     Knowing our frame, remembers man is dust:
     He marks the dawn of every virtuous aim,
     And fans the smoking flax into a flame;
     He hears the language of a silent tear,
     And sighs are incense from a heart sincere.'

And the reformation of Rochester is a confirmation of the doctrine of a
special Providence, as well as of that of a retribution, even in this

The retribution came in the form of an early but certain decay; of a
suffering so stern, so composed of mental and bodily anguish, that never
was man called to repentance by a voice so distinct as Rochester. The
reformation was sent through the instrumentality of one who had been a
sinner like himself, who had sinned _with_ him; an unfortunate lady,
who, in her last hours, had been visited, reclaimed, consoled by Bishop
Burnet. Of this, Lord Rochester had heard. He was then, to all
appearance, recovering from his last sickness. He sent for Burnet, who
devoted to him one evening every week of that solemn winter when the
soul of the penitent sought reconciliation and peace.

The conversion was not instantaneous; it was gradual, penetrating,
effective, sincere. Those who wish to gratify curiosity concerning the
death-bed of one who had so notoriously sinned, will read Burnet's
account of Rochester's illness and death with deep interest; and nothing
is so interesting as a death-bed. Those who delight in works of nervous
thought, and elevated sentiments, will read it too, and arise from the
perusal gratified. Those, however, who are true, contrite Christians
will go still farther; they will own that few works so intensely touch
the holiest and highest feelings; few so absorb the heart; few so
greatly show the vanity of life; the unspeakable value of purifying
faith. 'It is a book which the critic,' says Doctor Johnson, 'may read
for its elegance, the philosopher for its arguments, the saint for its

Whilst deeply lamenting his own sins, Lord Rochester became anxious to
redeem his former associates from theirs.

'When Wilmot, Earl of Rochester,'[11] writes William Thomas, in a
manuscript preserved in the British Museum, 'lay on his death-bed, Mr.
Fanshawe came to visit him, with an intention to stay about a week with
him. Mr. Fanshawe, sitting by the bedside, perceived his lordship
praying to God, through Jesus Christ, and acquainted Dr. Radcliffe, who
attended my Lord Rochester in this illness and was then in the house,
with what he had heard, and told him that my lord was certainly
delirious, for to his knowledge, he said, he believed neither in God nor
in Jesus Christ. The doctor, who had often heard him pray in the same
manner, proposed to Mr. Fanshawe to go up to his lordship to be further
satisfied touching this affair. When they came to his room the doctor
told my lord what Mr. Fanshawe said, upon which his lordship addressed
himself to Mr. Fanshawe to this effect: "Sir, it is true, you and I have
been very bad and profane together, and then I was of the opinion you
mention. But now I am quite of another mind, and happy am I that I am
so. I am very sensible how miserable I was whilst of another opinion.
Sir, you may assure yourself that there is a Judge and a future state;"
and so entered into a very handsome discourse concerning the last
judgment, future state &c., and concluded with a serious and pathetic
exhortation to Mr. Fanshawe to enter into another course of life; adding
that he (Mr. F.) knew him to be his friend; that he never was more so
than at this time; and "sir," said he, "to use a Scripture expression, I
am not mad, but speak the words of truth and soberness." Upon this Mr.
Fanshawe trembled, and went immediately a-foot to Woodstock, and there
hired a horse to Oxford, and thence took coach to London.'

There were other butterflies in that gay court; beaux without wit;
remorseless rakes, incapable of one noble thought or high pursuit; and
amongst the most foolish and fashionable of these was Henry Jermyn, Lord
Dover. As the nephew of Henry Jermyn, Lord St. Albans, this young
simpleton was ushered into a court life with the most favourable
auspices. Jermyn Street (built in 1667) recalls to us the residence of
Lord St. Albans, the supposed husband of Henrietta Maria. It was also
the centre of fashion when Henry Jermyn the younger was launched into
its unholy sphere. Near Eagle Passage lived at that time La Belle
Stuart, Duchess of Richmond; next door to her Henry Savile, Rochester's
friend. The locality has since been purified by worthier associations:
Sir Isaac Newton lived for a time in Jermyn Street, and Gray lodged

It was, however, in De Grammont's time, the scene of all the various
gallantries which were going on. Henry Jermyn was supported by the
wealth of his uncle, that uncle who, whilst Charles II. was starving at
Brussels, had kept a lavish table in Paris: little Jermyn, as the
younger Jermyn was called, owed much indeed to his fortune, which had
procured him great _éclat_ at the Dutch court. His head was large; his
features small; his legs short; his physiognomy was not positively
disagreeable, but he was affected and trifling, and his wit consisted in
expressions learnt by rote, which supplied him either with raillery or
with compliments.

This petty, inferior being had attracted the regard of the Princess
Royal--afterwards Princess of Orange--the daughter of Charles I. Then
the Countess of Castlemaine--afterwards Duchess of Cleveland--became
infatuated with him; he captivated also the lovely Mrs. Hyde, a
languishing beauty, whom Sir Peter Lely has depicted in all her sleepy
attractions, with her ringlets falling lightly over her snowy forehead
and down to her shoulders. This lady was, at the time when Jermyn came
to England, recently married to the son of the great Clarendon. She fell
desperately in love with this unworthy being: but, happily for her
peace, he preferred the honour (or dishonour) of being the favourite of
Lady Castlemaine, and Mrs. Hyde escaped the disgrace she, perhaps,

De Grammont appears absolutely to have hated Jermyn; not because he was
immoral, impertinent, and contemptible, but because it was Jermyn's
boast that no woman, good or bad, could resist him. Yet, in respect to
their unprincipled life, Jermyn and De Grammont had much in common. The
Chevalier was at this time an admirer of the foolish beauty, Jane
Middleton; one of the loveliest women of a court where it was impossible
to turn without seeing loveliness.

Mrs. Middleton was the daughter of Sir Roger Needham, and she has been
described, even by the grave Evelyn, as a 'famous, and, indeed,
incomparable beauty.' A coquette, she was, however, the friend of
intellectual men; and it was probably at the house of St. Evremond that
the Count first saw her. Her figure was good, she was fair and delicate;
and she had so great a desire, Count Hamilton relates, to 'appear
magnificently, that she was ambitious to vie with those of the greatest
fortunes, though unable to support the expense.'

Letters and presents now flew about. Perfumed gloves, pocket
looking-glasses, elegant boxes, apricot paste, essences, and other small
wares arrived weekly from Paris; English jewellery still had the
preference, and was liberally bestowed; yet Mrs. Middleton, affected and
somewhat precise, accepted the gifts but did not seem to encourage the

The Count de Grammont, piqued, was beginning to turn his attention to
Miss Warmestre, one of the queen's maids of honour, a lively brunette,
and a contrast to the languid Mrs. Middleton; when, happily for him, a
beauty appeared on the scene, and attracted him, by higher qualities
than mere looks, to a real, fervent, and honourable attachment.

Amongst the few respected families of that period was that of Sir George
Hamilton, the fourth son of James, Earl of Abercorn, and of Mary,
grand-daughter of Walter, eleventh Earl of Ormond. Sir George had
distinguished himself during the Civil Wars: on the death of Charles I.
he had retired to France, but returned, after the Restoration, to
London, with a large family, all intelligent and beautiful.

From their relationship to the Ormond family, the Hamiltons were soon
installed in the first circles of fashion. The Duke of Ormond's sons had
been in exile with the king; they now added to the lustre of the court
after his return. The Earl of Arran, the second, was a beau of the true
Cavalier order; clever at games, more especially at tennis, the king's
favourite diversion; he touched the guitar well; and made love _ad
libitum_. Lord Ossory, his elder brother, had less vivacity but more
intellect, and possessed a liberal, honest nature, and an heroic

All the good qualities of these two young noblemen seem to have been
united in Anthony Hamilton, of whom De Grammont gives the following
character:--'The elder of the Hamiltons, their cousin, was the man who,
of all the court, dressed best; he was well made in his person, and
possessed those happy talents which lead to fortune, and procure success
in love: he was a most assiduous courtier, had the most lively wit, the
most polished manners, and the most punctual attention to his master
imaginable; no person danced better, nor was any one a more general
lover--a merit of some account in a court entirely devoted to love and
gallantry. It is not at all surprising that, with these qualities, he
succeeded my Lord Falmouth in the king's favour.'

The fascinating person thus described was born in Ireland: he had
already experienced some vicissitudes, which were renewed at the
Revolution of 1688, when he fled to France--the country in which he had
spent his youth--and died at St. Germains, in 1720, aged seventy-four.
His poetry and his fairy tales are forgotten; but his 'Memoirs of the
Count de Grammont' is a work which combines the vivacity of a French
writer with the truth of an English historian.

Ormond Yard, St. James's Square, was the London residence of the Duke of
Ormond: the garden wall of Ormond House took up the greater part of York
Street: the Hamilton family had a commodious house in the same courtly
neighbourhood; and the cousins mingled continually. Here persons of the
greatest distinction constantly met; and here the 'Chevalier de
Grammont,' as he was still called, was received in a manner suitable to
his rank and style; and soon regretted that he had passed so much time
in other places; for, after he once knew the charming Hamiltons, he
wished for no other friends.

There were three courts at that time in the capital; that at Whitehall,
in the king's apartments; that in the queen's, in the same palace; and
that of Henrietta Maria, the Queen-Mother, as she was styled, at
Somerset House. Charles's was pre-eminent in immorality, and in the
daily outrage of all decency; that of the unworthy widow of Charles I.
was just bordering on impropriety; that of Katherine of Braganza was
still decorous, though not irreproachable. Pepys, in his Diary, has this
passage:--'Visited Mrs. Ferrers, and stayed talking with her a good
while, there being a little, proud, ugly, talking lady there, that was
much crying up the queene-mother's court at Somerset House, above our
queen's; there being before her no allowance of laughing and mirth that
is at the other's; and, indeed, it is observed that the greatest court
now-a-days is there. Thence to Whitehall, where I carried my wife to see
the queene in her presence-chamber; and the maydes of honour and the
young Duke of Monmouth, playing at cards.'

Queen Katherine, notwithstanding that the first words she was ever known
to say in English were '_You lie!_' was one of the gentlest of beings.
Pepys describes her as having a modest, innocent look, among all the
demireps with whom she was forced to associate. Again we turn to Pepys,
an anecdote of whose is characteristic of poor Katherine's submissive,
uncomplaining nature:--

'With Creed, to the King's Head ordinary;... and a pretty gentleman in
our company, who confirms my Lady Castlemaine's being gone from court,
but knows not the reason; he told us of one wipe the queene, a little
while ago, did give her, when she came in and found the queene under the
dresser's hands, and had been so long. "I wonder your Majesty," says
she, "can have the patience to sit so long a-dressing?"--"I have so much
reason to use patience," says the queene, "that I can very well bear
with it."'

It was in the court of this injured queen that De Grammont went one
evening to Mrs. Middleton's house: there was a ball that night, and
amongst the dancers was the loveliest creature that De Grammont had ever
seen. His eyes were riveted on this fair form; he had heard, but never
till then seen her, whom all the world consented to call 'La Belle
Hamilton,' and his heart instantly echoed the expression. From this time
he forgot Mrs. Middleton, and despised Miss Warmestre: 'he found,' he
said, that he 'had seen nothing at court till this instant.'

'Miss Hamilton,' he himself tells us, 'was at the happy age when the
charms of the fair sex begin to bloom; she had the finest shape, the
loveliest neck, and most beautiful arms in the world; she was majestic
and graceful in all her movements; and she was the original after which
all the ladies copied in their taste and air of dress. Her forehead was
open, white, and smooth; her hair was well set, and fell with ease into
that natural order which it is so difficult to imitate. Her complexion
was possessed of a certain freshness, not to be equalled by borrowed
colours; her eyes were not large, but they were lively, and capable of
expressing whatever she pleased.'[12] So far for her person; but De
Grammont was, it seems, weary of external charms: it was the
intellectual superiority that riveted his feelings, whilst his
connoisseurship in beauty was satisfied that he had never yet seen any
one so perfect.


'Her mind,' he says, 'was a proper companion for such a form: she did
not endeavour to shine in conversation by those sprightly sallies which
only puzzle, and with still greater care she avoided that affected
solemnity in her discourses which produces stupidity; but without any
eagerness to talk, she just said what she ought, and no more. She had
an admirable discernment in distinguishing between solid and false wit;
and far from making an ostentatious display of her abilities, she was
reserved, though very just in her decisions. Her sentiments were always
noble, and even lofty to the highest extent, when there was occasion;
nevertheless, she was less prepossessed with her own merit than is
usually the case with those who have so much. Formed as we have
described, she could not fail of commanding love; but so far was she
from courting it, that she was scrupulously nice with respect to those
whose merit might entitle them to form any pretensions to her.'

Born in 1641, Elizabeth--for such was the Christian name of this lovely
and admirable woman--was scarcely in her twentieth year when she first
appeared at Whitehall. Sir Peter Lely was at that time painting the
Beauties of the Court, and had done full justice to the intellectual and
yet innocent face that riveted De Grammont. He had depicted her with her
rich dark hair, of which a tendril or two fell on her ivory forehead,
adorned at the back with large pearls, under which a gauze-like texture
was gathered up, falling over the fair shoulders like a veil: a full
corsage, bound by a light band either of ribbon or of gold lace,
confining, with a large jewel or button, the sleeve on the shoulder,
disguised somewhat the exquisite shape. A frill of fine cambric set off,
whilst in whiteness it scarce rivalled, the shoulder and neck.

The features of this exquisite face are accurately described by De
Grammont, as Sir Peter has painted them. 'The mouth does not smile, but
seems ready to break out into a smile. Nothing is sleepy, but everything
is soft, sweet, and innocent in that face so beautiful and so beloved.'

Whilst the colours were fresh on Lely's palettes, James Duke of York,
that profligate who aped the saint, saw it, and henceforth paid his
court to the original, but was repelled with fearless _hauteur_. The
dissolute nobles of the court followed his example, even to the
'lady-killer' Jermyn, but in vain. Unhappily for La Belle Hamilton, she
became sensible to the attractions of De Grammont, whom she eventually

Miss Hamilton, intelligent as she was, lent herself to the fashion of
the day, and delighted in practical jokes and tricks. At the splendid
masquerade given by the queen she continued to plague her cousin, Lady
Muskerry; to confuse and expose a stupid court beauty, a Miss Blaque;
and at the same time to produce on the Count de Grammont a still more
powerful effect than even her charms had done. Her success in
hoaxing--which we should now think both perilous and indelicate--seems
to have only riveted the chain, which was drawn around him more

His friend, or rather his foe, St. Evremond, tried in vain to discourage
the Chevalier from his new passion. The former tutor was, it appeared,
jealous of its influence, and hurt that De Grammont was now seldom at
his house.

De Grammont's answer to his remonstrances was very characteristic. 'My
poor philosopher,' he cried, 'you understand Latin well--you can make
good verses--you are acquainted with the nature of the stars in the
firmament--but you are wholly ignorant of the luminaries in the
terrestrial globe.'

He then announced his intention to persevere, notwithstanding all the
obstacles which attached to the suit of a man without either fortune or
character, who had been exiled from his own country, and whose chief
mode of livelihood was dependent on the gaming-table.

One can scarcely read of the infatuation of La Belle Hamilton without a
sigh. During a period of six years their marriage was in contemplation
only; and De Grammont seems to have trifled inexcusably with the
feelings of this once gay and ever lovely girl. It was not for want of
means that De Grammont thus delayed the fulfilment of his engagement.
Charles II., inexcusably lavish, gave him a pension of 1500 Jacobuses:
it was to be paid to him until he should be restored to the favour of
his own king. The fact was that De Grammont contributed to the pleasures
of the court, and pleasure was the household deity of Whitehall.
Sometimes, in those days of careless gaiety, there were promenades in
Spring Gardens, or the Mall; sometimes the court beauties sallied forth
on horseback; at other times there were shows on the river, which then
washed the very foundations of Whitehall. There in the summer evenings,
when it was too hot and dusty to walk, old Thames might be seen covered
with little boats, filled with court and city beauties, attending the
royal barges; collations, music, and fireworks completed the scene, and
De Grammont always contrived some surprise--some gallant show: once a
concert of vocal and instrumental music, which he had privately brought
from Paris, struck up unexpectedly: another time a collation brought
from the gay capital surpassed that supplied by the king. Then the
Chevalier, finding that coaches with glass windows, lately introduced,
displeased the ladies, because their charms were only partially seen in
them, sent for the most elegant and superb _calèche_ ever seen: it came
after a month's journey, and was presented by De Grammont to the king.
It was a royal present in price, for it had cost two thousand livres.
The famous dispute between Lady Castlemaine and Miss Stuart, afterwards
Duchess of Richmond, arose about this _calèche_. The Queen and the
Duchess of York appeared first in it in Hyde Park, which had then
recently been fenced in with brick. Lady Castlemaine thought that the
_calèche_ showed off a fine figure better than the coach; Miss Stuart
was of the same opinion. Both these grown-up babies wished to have the
coach on the same day, but Miss Stuart prevailed.

The Queen condescended to laugh at the quarrels of these two foolish
women, and complimented the Chevalier de Grammont on his present. 'But
how is it,' she asked, 'that you do not even keep a footman, and that
one of the common runners in the street lights you home with a link?'

'Madame,' he answered, 'the Chevalier de Grammont hates pomp: my
link-boy is faithful and brave.' Then he told the Queen that he saw she
was unacquainted with the nation of link-boys, and related how that he
had, at one time, had one hundred and sixty around his chair at night,
and people had asked 'whose funeral it was? As for the parade of coaches
and footmen,' he added, 'I despise it. I have sometimes had five or six
_valets-de-chambre_, without a single footman in livery except my

'How!' cried the Queen, laughing, 'a chaplain in livery? surely he was
not a priest.'

'_Pardon_, Madame, a priest, and the best dancer in the world of the
Biscayan gig.'

'Chevalier,' said the king, 'tell us the history of your chaplain

Then De Grammont related how, when he was with the great Condé, after
the campaign of Catalonia, he had seen among a company of Catalans, a
priest in a little black jacket, skipping and frisking: how Condé was
charmed, and how they recognized in him a Frenchman, and how he offered
himself to De Grammont for his chaplain. De Grammont had not much need,
he said, for a chaplain in his house, but he took the priest, who had
afterwards the honour of dancing before Anne of Austria, in Paris.

Suitor after suitor interfered with De Grammont's at last honourable
address to La Belle Hamilton. At length an incident occurred which had
very nearly separated them for ever. Philibert de Grammont was recalled
to Paris by Louis XIV. He forgot, Frenchman-like, all his engagements to
Miss Hamilton, and hurried off. He had reached Dover, when her two
brothers rode up after him. 'Chevalier de Grammont,' they said, 'have
you forgotten nothing in London?'

'I beg your pardon,' he answered, 'I forgot to marry your sister.' It is
said that this story suggested to Molière the idea of _Le Mariage
forcé_. They were, however, married.

In 1669 La Belle Hamilton, after giving birth to a child, went to reside
in France. Charles II., who thought she would pass for a handsome woman
in France, recommended her to his sister, Henrietta Duchess of Orleans,
and begged her to be kind to her.

Henceforth the Chevalier De Grammont and his wife figured at Versailles,
where the Countess de Grammont was appointed _Dame du Palais_. Her
career was less brilliant than in England. The French ladies deemed her
haughty and old, and even termed her _une Anglaise insupportable_.

She had certainly too much virtue, and perhaps too much beauty still,
for the Parisian ladies of fashion at that period to admire her.

She endeavoured in vain, to reclaim her libertine husband, and to call
him to a sense of his situation when he was on his death-bed. Louis
XIV. sent the Marquis de Dangeau to convert him, and to talk to him on a
subject little thought of by De Grammont--the world to come. After the
Marquis had been talking for some time, De Grammont turned to his wife
and said, 'Countess, if you don't look to it, Dangeau will juggle you
out of my conversion.' St. Evremond said he would gladly die to go off
with so successful a bon-mot.

He became however, in time, serious, if not devout or penitent. Ninon de
l'Enclos having written to St. Evremond that the Count de Grammont had
not only recovered but had become devout, St. Evremond answered her in
these words:--

'I have learned with a great deal of pleasure that the Count de Grammont
has recovered his former health, and acquired a new devotion. Hitherto I
have been contented with being a plain honest man; but I must do
something more: and I only wait for your example to become a devotee.
You live in a country where people have wonderful advantages of saving
their souls: there, vice is almost as opposite to the mode as virtue;
sinning passes for ill-breeding, and shocks decency and good-manners, as
much as religion. Formerly it was enough to be wicked, now one must be a
scoundrel withal to be damned in France.'

A report having been circulated that De Grammont was dead, St. Evremond
expressed deep regret. The report was contradicted by Ninon de l'Enclos.
The Chevalier was then eighty-six years of age; 'nevertheless he was,'
Ninon says, 'so young, that I think him as lively as when he hated sick
people, and loved them after they had recovered their health;' a trait
very descriptive of a man whose good-nature was always on the surface,
but whose selfishness was deep as that of most wits and beaux, who are
spoiled by the world, and who, in return, distrust and deceive the
spoilers. With this long life of eighty-six years, endowed as De
Grammont was with elasticity of spirits, good fortune, considerable
talent, an excellent position, a wit that never ceased to flow in a
clear current; with all these advantages, what might he not have been to
society, had his energy been well applied, his wit innocent, his talents
employed worthily, and his heart as sure to stand muster as his manners?


[Footnote 8: M. de Grammont visited England during the Protectorate. His
second visit, after being forbidden the court by Louis XIV., was in

[Footnote 9: The Earl of Dorset married Elizabeth, widow of Charles
Berkeley, Earl of Falmouth, and daughter of Hervey Bagot, Esq., of Pipe
Hall, Warwickshire, who died without issue. He married, 7th March,
1684-5, Lady Mary Compton, daughter of James Earl of Northampton.]

[Footnote 10: Lord Rochester succeeded to the Earldom in 1659. It was
created by Charles II. in 1652, at Paris.]

[Footnote 11: Mr. William Thomas, the writer of this statement, heard it
from Dr. Radcliffe at the table of Speaker Harley, (afterwards Earl of
Oxford,) 16th June, 1702.]

[Footnote 12: See De Grammont's Memoirs.]


  On Wits and Beaux.--Scotland Yard in Charles II.'s day.--Orlando of
      'The Tatler.'--Beau Fielding, Justice of the Peace.--Adonis in
      Search of a Wife.--The Sham Widow.--Ways and Means.--Barbara
      Villiers, Lady Castlemaine.--Quarrels with the King.--The
      Beau's Second Marriage.--The Last Days of Fops and Beaux.

Let us be wise, boys, here's a fool coming, said a sensible man, when
he saw Beau Nash's splendid carriage draw up to the door. Is a beau a
fool? Is a sharper a fool? Was Bonaparte a fool? If you reply 'no' to
the last two questions, you must give the same answer to the first. A
beau is a fox, but not a fool--a very clever fellow, who, knowing the
weakness of his brothers and sisters in the world, takes advantage of
it to make himself a fame and a fortune. Nash, the son of a
glass-merchant--Brummell, the hopeful of a small shopkeeper--became
the intimates of princes, dukes, and fashionables; were petty kings of
Vanity Fair, and were honoured by their subjects. In the kingdom of
the blind, the one-eyed man is king; in the realm of folly, the
sharper is a monarch. The only proviso is, that the cheat come not
within the jurisdiction of the law. Such a cheat is the beau or dandy,
or fine gentleman, who imposes on his public by his clothes and
appearance. _Bonâ-fide_ monarchs have done as much: Louis XIV. won
himself the title of Le Grand Monarque by his manners, his dress, and
his vanity. Fielding, Nash, and Brummell did nothing more. It is not a
question whether such roads to eminence be contemptible or not, but
whether their adoption in one station of life be more so than in
another. Was Brummell a whit more contemptible than 'Wales?' Or is
John Thomas, the pride and glory of the 'Domestics' Free-and-Easy,'
whose whiskers, figure, face, and manner are all superb, one atom more
ridiculous than your recognized beau? I trow not. What right, then,
has your beau to a place among wits? I fancy Chesterfield would be
much disgusted at seeing his name side by side with that of Nash in
this volume; yet Chesterfield had no objection, when at Bath, to do
homage to the king of that city, and may have prided himself on
exchanging pinches from diamond-set snuff-boxes with that superb
gold-laced dignitary in the Pump-room. Certainly, people who thought
little of Philip Dormer Stanhope, thought a great deal of the
glass-merchant's reprobate son when he was in power, and submitted
without a murmur to his impertinences. The fact is, that the beaux and
the wits are more intimately connected than the latter would care to
own: the wits have all been, or aspired to be, beaux, and beaux have
had their fair share of wit; both lived for the same purpose--to shine
in society: both used the same means--coats and bon-mots. The only
distinction is, that the garments of the beaux were better, and their
sayings not so good as those of the wits; while the conversation of
the wits was better, and their apparel not so striking as those of the
beaux. So, my Lord Chesterfield, who prided yourself quite as much on
being a fine gentleman as on being a fine wit, you cannot complain at
your proximity to Mr. Nash and others who _were_ fine gentlemen, and
would have been fine wits if they could.

Robert Fielding was, perhaps, the least of the beaux; but then, to make
up for this, he belonged to a noble family: he married a duchess, and,
what is more, he beat her. Surely in the kingdom of fools such a man is
not to be despised. You may be sure he did not think he was, for was he
not made the subject of two papers in 'The Tatler,' and what more could
such a man desire?

His father was a Suffolk squire, claiming relationship with the Earls of
Denbigh, and therefore, with the Hapsburgs, from whom the Beau and the
Emperors of Austria had the common honour of being descended. Perhaps
neither of them had sufficient sense to be proud of the greatest
intellectual ornament of their race, the author of 'Tom Jones;' but as
our hero was dead before the humourist was born, it is not fair to
conjecture what he might have thought on the subject.

It does not appear that very much is known of this great gem of the race
of Hapsburg. He had the misfortune to be very handsome, and the folly to
think that his face would be his fortune: it certainly stood him in good
stead at times, but it also brought him into a lamentable dilemma.

His father was not rich, and sent his son to the Temple to study laws
which he was only fitted to break. The young Adonis had sense enough to
see that destiny did not beckon him to fame in the gloom of a musty law
court, and removed a little further up to the Thames, and the more
fashionable region of Scotland Yard. Here, where now Z 300 repairs to
report his investigations to a Commissioner, the young dandies of
Charles II.'s day strutted in gay doublets, swore hasty oaths of choice
invention, smoked the true Tobago from huge pipe-bowls, and ogled the
fair but not too bashful dames who passed to and fro in their chariots.
The court took its name from the royalties of Scotland, who, when they
visited the South, were there lodged, as being conveniently near to
Whitehall Palace. It is odd enough that the three architects, Inigo
Jones, Vanbrugh, and Wren, all lived in this yard.

It was not to be supposed that a man who could so well appreciate a
handsome face and well-cut doublet as Charles II. should long overlook
his neighbour, Mr. Robert Fielding, and in due course the Beau, who had
no other diploma, found himself in the honourable position of a justice
of the peace.

The emoluments of this office enabled Orlando, as 'The Tatler' calls
him, to shine forth in all his glory. With an enviable indifference to
the future, he launched out into an expenditure which alone would have
made him popular in a country where the heaviest purse makes the
greatest gentleman. His lacqueys were arrayed in the brightest yellow
coats with black sashes--the Hapsburg colours. He had a carriage, of
course, but, like Sheridan's, it was hired, though drawn by his own
horses. This carriage was described as being shaped like a sea-shell;
and 'the Tatler' calls it 'an open tumbril of less size than ordinary,
to show the largeness of his limbs and the grandeur of his personage to
the best advantage.' The said limbs were Fielding's especial pride: he
gloried in the strength of his leg and arm; and when he walked down the
street, he was followed by an admiring crowd, whom he treated with as
much haughtiness as if he had been the emperor himself, instead of his
cousin five hundred times removed. He used his strength to good or bad
purpose, and was a redoubted fighter and bully, though good-natured
withal. In the Mall, as he strutted, he was the cynosure of all female
eyes. His dress had all the elegance of which the graceful costume of
that period was capable, though Fielding did not, like Brummell,
understand the delicacy of a quiet, but studied style. Those were
simpler, somewhat more honest days. It was not necessary for a man to
cloak his vices, nor be ashamed of his cloak. The beau then-a-day openly
and arrogantly gloried in the grandeur of his attire; and bragging was a
part of his character. Fielding was made by his tailor; Brummell made
his tailor: the only point in common to both was that neither of them
paid the tailor's bill.

The fine gentleman, under the Stuarts, was fine only in his lace and his
velvet doublet; his language was coarse, his manners coarser, his vices
the coarsest of all. No wonder when the king himself could get so drunk
with Sedley and Buckhurst as to be unable to give an audience appointed
for; and when the chief fun of his two companions was to divest
themselves of all the habiliments which civilization has had the ill
taste to make necessary, and in that state run about the streets.

'Orlando' wore the finest ruffles and the heaviest sword; his wig was
combed to perfection; and in his pocket he carried a little comb with
which to arrange it from time to time, even as the dandy of to-day pulls
out his whiskers or curls his moustache. Such a man could not be passed
over; and accordingly he numbered half the officers and gallants of the
town among his intimates. He drank, swore, and swaggered, and the snobs
of the day proclaimed him a 'complete gentleman.'

His impudence, however, was not always tolerated. In the playhouses of
the day, it was the fashion for some of the spectators to stand upon the
stage, and the places in that position were chiefly occupied by young
gallants. The ladies came most in masques: but this did not prevent
Master Fielding from making his remarks very freely, and in no very
refined strain to them. The modest damsels, whom Pope has described,

    'The fair sat pouting at the courtier's play,
     And not a mask went unimproved away:
     The modest fan was lifted up no more,
     And virgins smiled at what they blushed before,'

were not too coy to be pleased with the fops' attentions, and replied in
like strain. The players were unheeded; the audience laughed at the
improvised and natural wit, when carefully prepared dialogues failed to
fix their attention. The actors were disgusted, and, in spite of Master
Fielding's herculean strength, kicked him off the stage, with a warning
not to come again.

The _rôle_ of a beau is expensive to keep up; and our justice of the
peace could not, like Nash, double his income by gaming. He soon got
deeply into debt, as every celebrated dresser has done. The old story,
not new even in those days, was enacted and the brilliant Adonis had to
keep watch and ward against tailors and bailiffs. On one occasion they
had nearly caught him; but his legs being lengthy, he gave them fair
sport as far as St. James's Palace, where the officers on guard rushed
out to save their pet, and drove off the myrmidons of the law at the
point of the sword.

But debts do not pay themselves, nor die, and Orlando with all his
strength and prowess could not long keep off the constable. Evil days
gloomed at no very great distance before him, and the fear of a
sponging-house and debtors' prison compelled him to turn his handsome
person to account. Had he not broken a hundred hearts already? had he
not charmed a thousand pairs of beaming eyes? was there not one owner of
one pair who was also possessed of a pretty fortune? Who should have the
honour of being the wife of such an Adonis? who, indeed, but she who
could pay highest for it; and who could pay with a handsome income but a
well-dowered widow? A widow it must be--a widow it should be. Noble
indeed was the sentiment which inspired this great man to sacrifice
himself on the altar of Hymen for the good of his creditors. Ye young
men in the Guards, who do this kind of thing every day--that is,
every day that you can meet with a widow with the proper
qualifications--take warning by the lamentable history of Mr. Robert
Fielding, and never trust to 'third parties.'


A widow was found, fat, fair, and forty--and oh!--charm greater far than
all the rest--with a fortune of sixty thousand pounds; this was a Mrs.
Deleau, who lived at Whaddon in Surrey, and at Copthall-court in London.
Nothing could be more charming; and the only obstacle was the absence of
all acquaintance between the parties--for, of course, it was impossible
for any widow, whatever her attractions, to be insensible to those of
Robert Fielding. Under these circumstances, the Beau looked about for an
agent, and found one in the person of a Mrs. Villars, hairdresser to the
widow. He offered this person a handsome douceur in case of success, and
she was to undertake that the lady should meet the gentleman in the most
unpremeditated manner. Various schemes were resorted to: with the
_alias_, for he was not above an _alias_, of Major-General Villars, the
Beau called at the widow's country house, and was permitted to see the
gardens. At a window he espied a lady, whom he took to be the object of
his pursuit--bowed to her majestically, and went away, persuaded he must
have made an impression. But, whether the widow was wiser than wearers
of weeds have the reputation of being, or whether the agent had really
no power in the matter, the meeting never came on.

The hairdresser naturally grew anxious, the douceur was too good to be
lost, and as the widow could not be had, some one must be supplied in
her place.

One day while the Beau was sitting in his splendid 'night-gown,' as the
morning-dress of gentlemen was then called, two ladies were ushered into
his august presence. He had been warned of this visit, and was prepared
to receive the yielding widow. The one, of course, was the hairdresser,
the other a young, pretty, and _apparently_ modest creature, who blushed
much--though with some difficulty--at the trying position in which she
found herself. The Beau, delighted, did his best to reassure her. He
flung himself at her feet, swore, with oaths more fashionable than
delicate, that she was the only woman he ever loved, and prevailed on
the widow so far as to induce her to 'call again to-morrow.'

Of course she came, and Adonis was in heaven. He wrote little poems to
her--for, as a gallant, he could of course make verses--serenaded her
through an Italian donna, invited her to suppers, at which the
delicacies of the season were served without regard to the purveyor's
account, and to which, coy as she was, she consented to come, and
clenched the engagement with a ring, on which was the motto, 'Tibi
Soli.' Nay, the Beau had been educated, and had some knowledge of 'the
tongues,' so that he added to these attentions the further one of a song
or two translated from the Greek. The widow ought to have been pleased,
and was. One thing only she stipulated, namely, that the marriage should
be private, lest her relations should forbid the banns.

Having brought her so far, it was not likely that the fortune-hunter
would stick at such a mere trifle, and accordingly an entertainment was
got up at the Beau's own rooms, a supper suitable to the rank and wealth
of the widow, provided by some obligingly credulous tradesman; a priest
found--for, be it premised, our hero had changed so much of his religion
as he had to change in the reign of James II., when Romanism was not
only fashionable, but a sure road to fortune--and the mutually satisfied
couple swore to love, honour, and obey one another till death them
should part.

The next morning, however, the widow left the gentleman's lodgings, on
the pretext that it was injudicious for her friends to know of their
union at present, and continued to visit her sposo and sup somewhat
amply at his chambers from time to time. We can imagine the anxiety
Orlando now felt for a cheque book at the heiress's bankers, and the
many insinuations he may have delicately made, touching ways and means.
We can fancy the artful excuses with which these hints were put aside by
his attached wife. But the dupe was still in happy ignorance of the
trick played on him, and for a time such ignorance was bliss. It must
have been trying to him to be called on by Mrs. Villars for the promised
douceur, but he consoled himself with the pleasures of hope.

Unfortunately, however, he had formed the acquaintance of a woman of a
very different reputation to the real Mrs. Deleau, and the intimacy
which ensued was fatal to him.

When Charles II. was wandering abroad, he was joined, among others, by a
Mr. and Mrs. Palmer. The husband was a stanch old Romanist, with the
qualities which usually accompanied that faith in those days--little
respect for morality, and a good deal of bigotry. In later days he was
one of the victims suspected of the Titus Oates plot, but escaped, and
eventually died in Wales, in 1705, after having been James II.'s
ambassador to Rome. This, in a few words, is the history of that Roger
Palmer, afterwards Lord Castlemaine, who by some is said to have sold
his wife--not at Smithfield, but at Whitehall--to his Majesty King
Charles II., for the sum of one peerage--an Irish one, taken on
consideration: by others, is alleged to have been so indignant with the
king as to have remained for some time far from court; and so disgusted
with his elevation to the peerage as scarcely to assume his title; and
this last is the most authenticated version of the matter.

Mrs. Palmer belonged to one of the oldest families in England, and
traced her descent to Pagan de Villiers, in the days of William Rufus,
and a good deal farther among the nobles of Normandy. She was the
daughter of William, second Viscount Grandison, and rejoiced in the
appropriate name of Barbara, for she _could_ be savage occasionally. She
was very beautiful, and very wicked, and soon became Charles's mistress.
On the Restoration she joined the king in England, and when the poor
neglected queen came over was foisted upon her as a bedchamber-woman, in
spite of all the objections of that ill used wife. It was necessary to
this end that she should be the wife of a peer; and her husband accepted
the title of Earl of Castlemaine, well knowing to what he owed it.
Pepys, who admired Lady Castlemaine more than any woman in England,
describes the husband and wife meeting at Whitehall with a cold
ceremonial bow: yet the husband _was_ there. A quarrel between the two,
strangely enough on the score of religion, her ladyship insisting that
her child should be christened by a Protestant clergyman, while his
lordship insisted on the ceremony being performed by a Romish priest,
brought about a separation, and from that time Lady Castlemaine, lodged
in Whitehall, began her empire over the king of England. That man, 'who
never said a foolish thing, and never did a wise one,' was the slave of
this imperious and most impudent of women. She forced him to settle on
her an immense fortune, much of which she squandered at the
basset-table, often staking a thousand pounds at a time, and sometimes
losing fifteen thousand pounds a-night.

Nor did her wickedness end here. We have some pity for one, who, like La
Vallière, could be attracted by the attentions of a handsome,
fascinating prince: we pity though we blame. But Lady Castlemaine was
vicious to the very marrow: not content with a king's favour, she
courted herself the young gallant of the town. Quarrels ensued between
Charles and his mistress, in which the latter invariably came off
victorious, owing to her indomitable temper; and the scenes recorded by
De Grammont--when she threatened to burn down Whitehall, and tear her
children in pieces--are too disgraceful for insertion. She forced the
reprobate monarch to consent to all her extortionate demands: rifled the
nation's pockets as well as his own; and at every fresh difference,
forced Charles to give her some new pension. An intrigue with Jermyn,
discovered and objected to by the King, brought on a fresh and more
serious difference, which was only patched up by a patent of the Duchy
of Cleveland. The Duchess of Cleveland was even worse than the Countess
of Castlemaine. Abandoned in time by Charles, and detested by all people
of any decent feeling, she consoled herself for the loss of a real king
by taking up with a stage one. Hart and Goodman, the actors, were
successively her cavalieri; the former had been a captain in the army;
the latter a student at Cambridge. Both were men of the coarsest minds
and most depraved lives. Goodman, in after-years was so reduced that,
finding, as Sheridan advised his son to do, a pair of pistols handy, a
horse saddled, and Hounslow Heath not a hundred miles distance, he took
to the pleasant and profitable pastime of which Dick Turpin is the
patron saint. He was all but hanged for his daring robberies, but
unfortunately not quite so. He lived to suffer such indigence, that he
and another rascal had but one under-garment between them, and entered
into a compact that one should lie in bed while the other wore the
article in question. Naturally enough the two fell out in time, and the
end of Goodman--sad misnomer--was worse than his beginning: such was the
gallant whom the imperious Duchess of Cleveland vouchsafed to honour.

The life of the once beautiful Barbara Villiers grew daily more and more
depraved: at the age of thirty she retired to Paris, shunned and
disgraced. After numerous intrigues abroad and at home, she put the
crowning point to her follies by falling in love with the handsome
Fielding, when she herself numbered sixty-five summers.

Whether the Beau still thought of fortune, or whether having once tried
matrimony, he was so enchanted with it as to make it his cacoëthes, does
not appear: the legend explains not for what reason he married the
antiquated beauty only three weeks after he had been united to the
supposed widow. For a time he wavered between the two, but that time was
short: the widow discovered his second marriage, claimed him, and in so
doing revealed the well-kept secret that she was not a widow; indeed,
not even the relict of John Deleau, Esq., of Whaddon, but a wretched
adventurer of the name of Mary Wadsworth, who had shared with Mrs.
Villars the plunder of the trick. The Beau tried to preserve his
dignity, and throw over his duper, but in vain. The first wife reported
the state of affairs to the second: and the duchess, who had been
shamefully treated by Master Fielding, was only too glad of an
opportunity to get rid of him. She offered Mary Wadsworth a pension of
£100 a year, and a sum of £200 in ready money, to prove the previous
marriage. The case came on, and Beau Fielding had the honour of playing
a part in a famous state trial.

With his usual impudence he undertook to defend himself at the Old
Bailey, and hatched up some old story to prove that the first wife was
married at the time of their union to one Brady; but the plea fell to
the ground, and the fine gentleman was sentenced to be burned in the
hand. His interest in certain quarters saved him this ignominious
punishment which would, doubtless, have spoiled a limb of which he was
particularly proud. He was pardoned: the real widow married a far more
honourable gentleman, in spite of the unenviable notoriety she had
acquired; the sham one was somehow quieted, and the duchess died some
four years later, the more peacefully for being rid of her tyrannical

Thus ended a petty scandal of the day, in which all the parties were so
disreputable that no one could feel any sympathy for a single one of
them. How the dupe himself ended is not known. The last days of fops and
beaux are never glorious. Brummell died in slovenly penury; Nash in
contempt. Fielding lapsed into the dimmest obscurity; and as far as
evidence goes, there is as little certainty about his death as of that
of the Wandering Jew. Let us hope that he is not still alive: though his
friends seemed to have cared little whether he were so or not, to judge
from a couple of verses written by one of them:--

    'If Fielding is dead,
       And rests under this stone,
     Then he is not alive
       You may bet two to one.

    'But if he's alive,
       And does not lie there--
     Let him live till he's hanged,
       For which no man will care.'


  The Origin of Clubs.--The Establishment of Coffee-houses.--The
      October Club.--The Beef-steak Club.--Of certain other
      Clubs.--The Kit-kat Club.--The Romance of the Bowl.--The Toasts
      of the Kit-kat.--The Members of the Kit-kat.--A good Wit, and a
      bad Architect.--'Well-natured Garth.'--The Poets of the
      Kit-kat.--Charles Montagu, Earl of Halifax.--Chancellor
      Somers.--Charles Sackville, Lord Dorset.--Less celebrated Wits.

I suppose that, long before the building of Babel, man discovered that
he was an associative animal, with the universal motto, '_L'union c'est
la force_;' and that association, to be of any use, requires talk. A
history of celebrated associations, from the building society just
mentioned down to the thousands which are represented by an office, a
secretary, and a brass-plate, in the present day, would give a curious
scheme of the natural tendencies of man; while the story of their
failures--and how many have not failed, sooner or later!--would be a
pretty moral lesson to your anthropolaters who Babelize now-a-days, and
believe there is nothing which a company with capital cannot achieve. I
wonder what object there is, that two men can possibly agree in
desiring, and which it takes more than one to attain, for which an
association of some kind has not been formed at some time or other,
since first the swarthy savage learned that it was necessary to unite to
kill the lion which infested the neighbourhood! Alack for human nature!
I fear by far the larger proportion of the objects of associations would
be found rather evil than good, and, certes, nearly all of them might be
ranged under two heads, according as the passions of hate or desire
found a common object in several hearts. Gain on the one
hand--destruction on the other--have been the chief motives of clubbing
in all time.

A delightful exception is to be found, though--to wit, in associations
for the purpose of talking. I do not refer to parliaments and
philosophical academies, but to those companies which have been formed
for the sole purpose of mutual entertainment by interchange of thought.

Now, will any kind reader oblige me with a derivation of the word
'Club?' I doubt if it is easy to discover. But one thing is certain,
whatever its origin, it is, in its present sense, purely English in idea
and in existence. Dean Trench points this out, and, noting the fact that
no other nation (he might have excepted the Chinese) has any word to
express this kind of association, he has, with very pardonable natural
pride, but unpardonably bad logic, inferred that the English are the
most sociable people in the world. The contrary is true; nay, _was_
true, even in the days of Addison, Swift, Steele--even in the days of
Johnson, Walpole, Selwyn; ay, at all time since we have been a nation.
The fact is, we are not the most sociable, but the most associative
race; and the establishment of clubs is a proof of it. We cannot, and
never could, talk freely, comfortably, and generally, without a company
for talking. Conversation has always been with us as much a business as
railroad-making, or what not. It has always demanded certain
accessories, certain condiments, certain stimulants to work it up to the
proper pitch. 'We all know' we are the cleverest and wittiest people
under the sun; but then our wit has been stereotyped. France has no 'Joe
Miller;' for a bon-mot there, however good, is only appreciated
historically. Our wit is printed, not spoken; our best wits behind an
inkhorn have sometimes been the veriest logs in society. On the
Continent clubs were not called for, because society itself was the
arena of conversation. In this country, on the other hand, a man could
only chat when at his ease; could only be at his ease among those who
agreed with him on the main points of religion and politics, and even
then wanted the aid of a bottle to make him comfortable. Our want of
sociability was the cause of our clubbing, and therefore the word 'club'
is purely English.

This was never so much the case as after the Restoration. Religion and
politics never ran higher than when a monarch, who is said to have died
a papist because he had no religion at all during his life, was brought
back to supplant a furious puritanical Protectorate. Then, indeed, it
was difficult for men of opposite parties to meet without bickering; and
society demanded separate meeting-places for those who differed. The
origin of clubs in this country is to be traced to two causes--the
vehemence of religious and political partisanship, and the establishment
of coffee-houses. These certainly gave the first idea of clubbery. The
taverns which preceded them had given the English a zest for public life
in a small way. 'The Mermaid' was, virtually, a club of wits long before
the first real club was opened, and, like the clubs of the eighteenth
century, it had its presiding geniuses in Shakespeare and Rare Ben.

The coffee-houses introduced somewhat more refinement and less
exclusiveness. The oldest of these was the 'Grecian.' 'One Constantine,
a Grecian,' advertised in 'The Intelligencer' of January 23rd, 1664-5,
that 'the right coffee bery or chocolate,' might be had of him 'as cheap
and as good as is anywhere to be had for money,' and soon after began to
sell the said 'coffee bery' in small cups at his own establishment in
Devereux Court, Strand. Some two years later we have news of 'Will's,'
the most famous, perhaps, of the coffee-houses. Here Dryden held forth
with pedantic vanity: and here was laid the first germ of that critical
acumen which has since become a distinguishing feature in English
literature. Then, in the City, one Garraway, of Exchange Alley, first
sold 'tea in leaf and drink, made according to the directions of the
most knowing, and travellers into those eastern countries;' and thus
established the well-known 'Garraway's,' whither, in Defoe's day,
'foreign banquiers' and even ministers resorted, to drink the said
beverage. 'Robin's,' 'Jonathan's,' and many another, were all opened
about this time, and the rage for coffee-house life became general
throughout the country.

In these places the company was of course of all classes and colours;
but, as the conversation was general, there was naturally at first a
good deal of squabbling, till, for the sake of peace and comfort, a man
chose his place of resort according to his political principles; and a
little later there were regular Whig and Tory coffee-houses. Thus, in
Anne's day, 'The Cocoa-nut,' in St. James's Street, was reserved for
Jacobites, while none but Whigs frequented 'The St James's.' Still there
was not sufficient exclusiveness; and as early as in Charles II.'s reign
men of peculiar opinions began to appropriate certain coffee-houses at
certain hours, and to exclude from them all but approved members. Hence
the origin of clubs.

The October Club was one of the earliest, being composed of some hundred
and fifty rank Tories, chiefly country members of Parliament. They met
at the 'Bell,' in King Street, Westminster, that street in which Spenser
starved, and Dryden's brother kept a grocer's shop. A portrait of Queen
Anne, by Dahl, hung in the club-room. This and the Kit-kat, the great
Whig club, were chiefly reserved for politics; but the fashion of
clubbing having once come in, it was soon followed by people of all
fancies. No reader of the 'Spectator' can fail to remember the ridicule
to which this was turned by descriptions of imaginary clubs for which
the qualifications were absurd, and of which the business, on meeting,
was preposterous nonsense of some kind. The idea of such fraternities,
as the Club of Fat Men, the Ugly Club, the Sheromp Club, the Everlasting
Club, the Sighing Club, the Amorous Club, and others, could only have
been suggested by real clubs almost as ridiculous. The names, too, were
almost as fantastical as those of the taverns in the previous century,
which counted 'The Devil,' and 'The Heaven and Hell,' among their
numbers. Many derived their titles from the standing dishes preferred at
supper, the Beef-steak and the Kit-kat (a sort of mutton-pie), for

The Beef-steak Club, still in existence, was one of the most famous
established in Anne's reign. It had at that time less of a political
than a jovial character. Nothing but that excellent British fare, from
which it took its name, was, at first, served at the supper-table. It
was an assemblage of wits of every station, and very jovial were they
supposed to be when the juicy dish had been discussed. Early in the
century, Estcourt, the actor, was made provider to this club, and wore a
golden gridiron as a badge of office, and is thus alluded to in Dr.
King's 'Art of Cookery' (1709):--

    'He that of honour, wit, and mirth partakes,
     May be a fit companion o'er beef-stakes;
     His name may be to future times enrolled
     In Estcourt's book, whose gridiron's framed of gold.'

Estcourt was one of the best mimics of the day, and a keen satirist to
boot; in fact he seems to have owed much of his success on the stage to
his power of imitation, for while his own manner was inferior, he could
at pleasure copy exactly that of any celebrated actor. He _would_ be a
player. At fifteen he ran away from home, and joining a strolling
company, acted Roxana in woman's clothes: his friends pursued him, and,
changing his dress for that of a girl of the time, he tried to escape
them, but in vain. The histrionic youth was captured, and bound
apprentice in London town; the 'seven long years' of which did not cure
him of the itch for acting. But he was too good a wit for the stage, and
amused himself, though not always his audience, by interspersing his
part with his own remarks. The great took him by the hand, and old
Marlborough especially patronized him: he wrote a burlesque of the
Italian operas then beginning to be in vogue; and died in 1712-13.
Estcourt was not the only actor belonging to the Beef-steak, nor even
the only one who had concealed his sex under emergency; Peg Woffington,
who had made as good a boy as he had done a girl, was afterwards a
member of this club.

In later years the beef-steak was cooked in a room at the top of Covent
Garden Theatre, and counted many a celebrated wit among those who sat
around its cheery dish. Wilkes the blasphemer, Churchill, and Lord
Sandwich, were all members of it at the same time. Of the last, Walpole
gives us information in 1763 at the time of Wilkes's duel with Martin in
Hyde Park. He tells us that at the Beef-steak Club Lord Sandwich talked
so profusely, 'that he drove harlequins out of the company.' To the
honour of the club be it added, that his lordship was driven out after
the harlequins, and finally expelled: it is sincerely to be hoped that
Wilkes was sent after his lordship. This club is now represented by one
held behind the Lyceum, with the thoroughly British motto, 'Beef and
Liberty:' the name was happily chosen and therefore imitated. In the
reign of George II. we meet with a 'Rump-steak, or Liberty Club;' and
somehow steaks and liberty seem to be the two ideas most intimately
associated in the Britannic mind. Can any one explain it?

Other clubs there were under Anne,--political, critical, and
hilarious--but the palm is undoubtedly carried off by the glorious

It is not every eating-house that is immortalized by a Pope, though
Tennyson has sung 'The Cock' with its 'plump head-waiter,' who, by the
way, was mightily offended by the Laureate's verses--or pretended to be
so--and thought it 'a great liberty of Mr. ----, Mr. ----, what is his
name? to put respectable private characters into his books.' Pope, or
some say Arbuthnot, explained the etymology of this club's extraordinary

    'Whence deathless Kit-kat took its name,
       Few critics can unriddle:
     Some say from pastrycook it came,
       And some from Cat and Fiddle.

    'From no trim beaux its name it boasts,
       Grey statesmen or green wits;
     But from the pell-mell pack of toasts
       Of old cats and young kits.'

Probably enough the title was hit on a hap-hazard, and retained because
it was singular, but as it has given a poet a theme, and a painter a
name for pictures of a peculiar size, its etymology has become
important. Some say that the pastry cook in Shire Lane, at whose house
it was held, was named Christopher Katt. Some one or other was certainly
celebrated for the manufacture of that forgotten delicacy, a mutton-pie,
which acquired the name of a Kit-kat.

    'A Kit-kat is a supper for a lord,'

says a comedy of 1700, and certes it afforded at this club evening
nourishment for many a celebrated noble profligate of the day. The
supposed sign of the Cat and Fiddle (Kitt), gave another solution, but
after all, Pope's may be satisfactorily received.

The Kit-kat was, _par excellence_, the Whig Club of Queen Anne's time:
it was established at the beginning of the eighteenth century, and was
then composed of thirty-nine members, among whom were the Dukes of
Marlborough, Devonshire, Grafton, Richmond, and Somerset. In later days
it numbered the greatest wits of the age, of whom anon.

This club was celebrated more than any for its _toasts_.

Now, if men must drink--and sure the vine was given us for use, I do not
say for abuse--they had better make it an occasion of friendly
intercourse; nothing can be more degraded than the solitary
sanctimonious toping in which certain of our northern brethren are known
to indulge. They had better give to the quaffing of that rich gift, sent
to be a medicine for the mind, to raise us above the perpetual
contemplation of worldly ills, as much of romance and elegance as
possible. It is the opener of the heart, the awakener of nobler feelings
of generosity and love, the banisher of all that is narrow, and sordid,
and selfish; the herald of all that is exalted in man. No wonder that
the Greeks made a god of Bacchus, that the Hindu worshipped the mellow
Soma, and that there has been scarce a poet who has not sung its praise.
There was some beauty in the feasts of the Greeks, when the goblet was
really wreathed with flowers; and even the German student, dirty and
drunken as he may be, removes half the stain from his orgies with the
rich harmony of his songs, and the hearty good-fellowship of his toasts.
We drink still, perhaps we shall always drink till the end of time, but
all the romance of the bowl is gone; the last trace of its beauty went
with the frigid abandonment of the toast.

There was some excuse for wine when it brought out that now forgotten
expression of good-will. Many a feud was reconciled in the clinking of
glasses; just as many another was begun when the cup was drained too
deeply. The first quarter of the last century saw the end of all the
social glories of the wassail in this country, and though men drank as
much fifty years later, all its poetry and romance had then disappeared.

It was still, however, the custom at that period to call on the name of
some fair maiden, and sing her praises over the cup as it passed. It was
a point of honour for all the company to join the health. Some beauties
became celebrated for the number of their toasts; some even standing
toasts among certain sets. In the Kit-kat Club the custom was carried
out by rule, and every member was compelled to name a beauty, whose
claims to the honour were then discussed, and if her name was approved,
a separate bowl was consecrated to her, and verses to her honour
engraved on it. Some of the most celebrated toasts had even their
portraits hung in the club-room, and it was no slight distinction to be
the favourite of the Kit-kat. When only eight years old, Lady Mary
Wortley Montagu enjoyed this privilege. Her father, the Lord Dorchester,
afterwards Evelyn, Duke of Kingston, in a fit of caprice, proposed 'the
pretty little child' as his toast. The other members, who had never seen
her, objected; the Peer sent for her, and there could no longer be any
question. The forward little girl was handed from knee to knee, petted,
probably, by Addison, Congreve, Vanbrugh, Garth, and many another famous
wit. Another celebrated toast of the Kit-kat, mentioned by Walpole, was
Lady Molyneux, who, he says, died smoking a pipe.

This club was no less celebrated for its portraits than for the ladies
it honoured. They, the portraits, were all painted by Kneller, and all
of one size, which thence got the name of Kit-kat; they were hung round
the club-room. Jacob Tonson, the publisher, was secretary to the club.

Defoe tells us the Kit-kat held the first rank among the clubs of the
early part of the last century, and certainly the names of its members
comprise as many wits as we could expect to find collected in one

Addison must have been past forty when he became a member of the
Kit-kat. His 'Cato' had won him the general applause of the Whig party,
who could not allow so fine a writer to slip from among them. He had
long, too, played the courtier, and was 'quite a gentleman.' A place
among the exclusives of the Kit-kat was only the just reward of such
attainments, and he had it. I shall not be asked to give a notice of a
man so universally known, and one who ranks rather with the humorists
than the wits. It will suffice to say, that it was not till _after_ the
publication of the 'Spectator,' and some time after, that he joined our

Congreve I have chosen out of this set for a separate life, for this man
happens to present a very average sample of all their peculiarities.
Congreve was a literary man, a poet, a wit, a beau, and--what unhappily
is quite as much to the purpose--a profligate. The only point he,
therefore, wanted in common with most of the members, was a title; but
few of the titled members combined as many good and bad qualities of the
Kit-kat kind as did William Congreve.

Another dramatist, whose name seems to be inseparable from Congreve's,
was that mixture of bad and good taste--Vanbrugh. The author of 'The
Relapse,' the most licentious play ever acted;--the builder of Blenheim,
the ugliest house ever erected, was a man of good family, and Walpole
counts him among those who 'wrote genteel comedy, because they lived in
the best company.' We doubt the logic of this; but if it hold, how is it
that Van wrote plays which the best company, even at that age,
condemned, and neither good nor bad company can read in the present day
without being shocked? If the conversation of the Kit-kat was anything
like that in this member's comedies, it must have been highly edifying.
However, I have no doubt Vanbrugh passed for a gentleman, whatever his
conversation, and he was certainly a wit, and apparently somewhat less
licentious in his morals than the rest. Yet what Pope said of his
literature may be said, too, of some acts of his life:--

    'How Van wants grace, who never wanted wit.'

And his quarrel with 'Queen Sarah' of Marlborough, though the duchess
was by no means the most agreeable woman in the world to deal with, is
not much to Van's honour. When the nation voted half a million to build
that hideous mass of stone, the irregular and unsightly piling of which
caused Walpole to say that the architect 'had emptied quarries, rather
than built houses,' and Dr. Evans to write this epitaph for the

    'Lie heavy on him, Earth, for he
     Laid many a heavy load on thee,'

Sarah haggled over 'seven-pence halfpenny a bushel;' Van retorted by
calling her 'stupid and troublesome,' and 'that wicked woman of
Marlborough,' and after the Duke's death, wrote that the Duke had left
her 'twelve thousand pounds a-year to keep herself clean and go to law.'
Whether she employed any portion of it on the former object we do not
pretend to say, but she certainly spent as much as a miser could on
litigation, Van himself being one of the unfortunates she attacked in
this way.

The events of Vanbrugh's life were varied. He began life in the army,
but in 1697 gave the stage 'The Relapse.' It was sufficiently
successful to induce him to follow it up with the 'Provoked Wife,' one
of the wittiest pieces produced in those days. Charles, Earl of
Carlisle, Deputy Earl Marshal, for whom he built Castle Howard, made
him Clarencieux King-at-arms in 1704, and he was knighted by George
I., 9th of September, 1714. In 1705 he joined Congreve in the
management of the Haymarket, which he himself built. George I. made
him Comptroller-general of the royal works. He had even an experience
of the Bastille, where he was confined for sketching fortifications in
France. He died in 1726, with the reputation of a good wit, and a bad
architect. His conversation was, certainly, as light as his buildings
were heavy.

Another member, almost as well known in his day, was Sir Samuel Garth,
the physician, 'well-natured Garth,' as Pope called him. He won his fame
by his satire on the apothecaries in the shape of a poem called 'The
Dispensary.' When delivering the funeral oration over Dryden's body,
which had been so long unburied that its odour began to be disagreeable,
he mounted a tub, the top of which fell through and left the doctor in
rather an awkward position. He gained admission to the Kit-kat in
consequence of a vehement eulogy on King William which he had introduced
into his Harveian oration in 1697.[13] It was Garth, too, who
extemporized most of the verses which were inscribed on the
toasting-glasses of their club, so that he may, _par excellence_, be
considered the Kit-kat poet. He was the physician and friend of
Marlborough, with whose sword he was knighted by George I., who made him
his physician in ordinary. Garth was a very jovial man, and, some say,
not a very religious one. Pope said he was as good a Christian as ever
lived, 'without knowing it.' He certainly had no affectation of piety,
and if charitable and good-natured acts could take a man to heaven, he
deserved to go there. He had his doubts about faith, and is said to have
died a Romanist. This he did in 1719, and the poor and the Kit-kat must
both have felt his loss. He was perhaps more of a wit than a poet,
although he has been classed at times with Gray and Prior; he can
scarcely take the same rank as other verse-making doctors, such as
Akenside, Darwin, and Armstrong. He seems to have been an active,
healthy man--perhaps too much so for a poet--for it is on record that he
ran a match in the Mall with the Duke of Grafton, and beat him. He was
fond, too, of a hard frost, and had a regular speech to introduce on
that subject: 'Yes, sir, 'fore Gad, very fine weather, sir--very
wholesome weather, sir--kills trees, sir--very good for man, sir.'

Old Marlborough had another intimate friend at the club, who was
probably one of its earliest members. This was Arthur Maynwaring, a
poet, too, in a way, but more celebrated at this time for his _liaison_
with Mrs. Oldfield, the famous but disreputable actress, with whom he
fell in love when he was forty years old, and whom he instructed in the
niceties of elocution, making her rehearse her parts to him in private.
Maynwaring was born in 1668, educated at Oxford, and destined for the
bar, for which he studied. He began life as a vehement Jacobite, and
even supported that party in sundry pieces; but like some others, he was
easily converted, when, on coming to town, he found it more fashionable
to be a Whig. He held two or three posts under the Government, whose
cause he now espoused: had the honour of the dedication of 'The Tatler'
to him by Steele, and died suddenly in 1712. He divided his fortune
between his sister and his mistress, Mrs. Oldfield, and his son by the
latter. Mrs. Oldfield must have grown rich in her sinful career, for she
could afford, when ill, to refuse to take her salary from the theatre,
though entitled to it. She acted best in Vanbrugh's 'Provoked Husband,'
so well, in fact, that the manager gave her an extra fifty pounds by way
of acknowledgment.

Poetising seems to have been as much a polite accomplishment of that age
as letter-writing was of a later, and a smattering of science is of the
present day. Gentlemen tried to be poets, and poets gentlemen. The
consequence was, that both made fools of themselves. Among the
poetasters who belonged to the Kit-kat, we must mention Walsh, a country
gentleman, member of Parliament, and very tolerable scholar. He dabbled
in odes, elegies, epitaphs, and all that small fry of the muse which was
then so plentiful. He wrote critical essays on Virgil, in which he tried
to make out that the shepherds in the days of the Roman poet were very
well-bred gentlemen of good education! He was a devoted admirer and
friend of Dryden, and he encouraged Pope in his earlier career so kindly
that the little viper actually praised him! Walsh died somewhere about
1709 in middle life.

We have not nearly done with the poets of the Kit-kat. A still smaller
one than Walsh was Stepney, who, like Garth, had begun life as a violent
Tory and turned coat when he found his interest lay the other way. He
was well repaid, for from 1692 to 1706 he was sent on no less than eight
diplomatic missions, chiefly to German courts. He owed this preferment
to the good luck of having been a schoolfellow of Charles Montagu,
afterwards Earl of Halifax. He died about 1707, and had as grand a
monument and epitaph in Westminster Abbey as if he had been a Milton or

When you meet a dog trotting along the road, you naturally expect that
his master is not far off. In the same way, where you find a poet, still
more a poetaster, there you may feel certain you will light upon a
patron. The Kit-kat was made up of Mæcenases and their humble servants;
and in the same club with Addison, Congreve, Vanbrugh, and the minor
poets, we are not at all surprised to find Sir Robert Walpole, the Duke
of Somerset, Halifax, and Somers.

Halifax was, _par excellence_, the Mæcenas of his day, and Pope
described him admirably in the character of Bufo:--

    'Proud as Apollo, on his forked hill,
     Sat full-blown Bufo, puff'd by every quill;
     _Fed with soft dedication_ all day long,
     Horace and he went hand in hand in song.'

The dedications poured in thickly. Steele, Tickell, Philips, Smith, and
a crowd of lesser lights, raised my lord each one on a higher pinnacle;
and in return the powerful minister was not forgetful of the douceur
which well-tuned verses were accustomed to receive. He himself had tried
to be a poet, and in 1703 wrote verses for the toasting-cups of the
Kit-kat. His lines to a Dowager Countess of ----, are good enough to
make us surprised that he never wrote any better. Take a specimen:--

    'Fair Queen of Fop-land in her royal style;
     Fop-land the greatest part of this great isle!
     Nature did ne'er so equally divide
     A female heart 'twixt piety and pride:
     Her waiting-maids prevent the peep of day,
     And all in order at her toilet lay
     Prayer-books, patch-boxes, sermon-notes, and paint,
     At once t'improve the sinner and the saint.'

A Mæcenas who paid for his dedications was sure to be well spoken of,
and Halifax has been made out a wit and a poet, as well as a clever
statesman. Halifax got his earldom and the garter from George I., and
died, after enjoying them less than a year, in 1715.

Chancellor Somers, with whom Halifax was associated in the impeachment
case in 1701, was a far better man in every respect. His was probably
the purest character among those of all the members of the Kit-kat. He
was the son of a Worcester attorney, and born in 1652. He was educated
at Trinity, Oxford, and rose purely by merit, distinguishing himself at
the bar and on the bench, unwearied in his application to business, and
an exact and upright judge. At school he was a terribly good boy,
keeping to his book in play-hours. Throughout life his habits were
simple and regular, and his character unblemished. He slept but little,
and in later years had a reader to attend him at waking. With such
habits he can scarcely have been a constant attender at the club; and as
he died a bachelor, it would be curious to learn what ladies he selected
for his toasts. In his latter years his mind was weakened, and he died
in 1716 of apoplexy. Walpole calls him 'one of those divine men who,
like a chapel in a palace, remained unprofaned, while all the rest is
tyranny, corruption, and folly.'

A huge stout figure rolls in now to join the toasters in Shire Lane. In
the puffy, once handsome face, there are signs of age, for its owner is
past sixty; yet he is dressed in superb fashion; and in an hour or so,
when the bottle has been diligently circulated, his wit will be brighter
and keener than that of any young man present. I do not say it will be
repeatable, for the talker belongs to a past age, even coarser than that
of the Kit-kat. He is Charles Sackville,[14] famous as a companion of
the merriest and most disreputable of the Stuarts, famous--or, rather,
infamous--for his mistress, Nell Gwynn, famous for his verses, for his
patronage of poets, and for his wild frolics in early life, when Lord
Buckhurst. Rochester called him

    'The best good man with the worst-natured muse;'

and Pope says he was

    'The scourge of pride, though sanctified or great,
     Of fops in learning and of knaves in state.'

Our sailors still sing the ballad which he is said to have written on
the eve of the naval engagement between the Duke of York and Admiral
Opdam, which begins--

    'To all you ladies now on land
     We men at sea indite.'

With a fine classical taste and a courageous spirit, he had in early
days been guilty of as much iniquity as any of Charles's profligate
court. He was one of a band of young libertines who robbed and murdered
a poor tanner on the high-road, and were acquitted, less on account of
the poor excuse they dished up for this act than of their rank and
fashion. Such fine gentlemen could not be hanged for the sake of a mere
workman in those days--no! no! Yet he does not seem to have repented of
this transaction, for soon after he was engaged with Sedley and Ogle in
a series of most indecent acts at the Cock Tavern in Bow-street, where
Sedley, in 'birthday attire,' made a blasphemous oration from the
balcony of the house. In later years he was the pride of the poets:
Dryden and Prior, Wycherley, Hudibras, and Rymer, were all encouraged by
him, and repaid him with praises. Pope and Dr. King were no less
bountiful in their eulogies of this Mæcenas. His conversation was so
much appreciated that gloomy William III. chose him as his companion, as
merry Charles had done before. The famous Irish ballad, which my Uncle
Toby was always humming, 'Lillibullero bullen-a-lah,' but which Percy
attributes to the Marquis of Wharton, another member of the Kit-kat, was
said to have been written by Buckhurst. He retained his wit to the last;
and Congreve, who visited him when he was dying, said, 'Faith, he
stutters more wit than other people have in their best health.' He died
at Bath in 1706.

Buckhurst does not complete the list of conspicuous members of this
club, but the remainder were less celebrated for their wit. There was
the Duke of Kingston, the father of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu;
Granville, who imitated Waller, and attempted to make his 'Myra' as
celebrated as the court-poet's Saccharissa, who, by the way, was the
mother of the Earl of Sunderland; the Duke of Devonshire, whom Walpole
calls 'a patriot among the men, a gallant among the ladies,' and who
founded Chatsworth; and other noblemen, chiefly belonging to the latter
part of the seventeenth century, and all devoted to William III., though
they had been bred at the courts of Charles and James.

With such an array of wits, poets, statesmen, and gallants, it can
easily be believed that to be the toast of the Kit-kat was no slight
honour; to be a member of it a still greater one; and to be one of its
most distinguished, as Congreve was, the greatest. Let us now see what
title this conceited beau and poet had to that position.


[Footnote 13: The Kit-kat club was not founded till 1703.]

[Footnote 14: For some notice of Lord Dorset, see p. 61.]


  When and where was he born?--The Middle Temple.--Congreve finds his
      Vocation.--Verses to Queen Mary.--The Tennis-court
      Theatre.--Congreve abandons the Drama.--Jeremy Collier.--The
      Immorality of the Stage.--Very improper Things.--Congreve's
      Writings.--Jeremy's 'Short Views.'--Rival Theatres.--Dryden's
      Funeral.--A Tub-Preacher.--Horoscopic Predictions.--Dryden's
      Solicitude for his Son.--Congreve's Ambition.--Anecdote of
      Voltaire and Congreve.--The Profession of Mæcenas.--Congreve's
      Private Life.--'Malbrook's' Daughter.--Congreve's Death and

When 'Queen Sarah' of Marlborough read the silly epitaph which
Henrietta, Duchess of Marlborough, had written and had engraved on the
monument she set up to Congreve, she said, with one of the true Blenheim
sneers, 'I know not what _happiness_ she might have in his company, but
I am sure it was no _honour_,' alluding to her daughter's eulogistic

Queen Sarah was right, as she often was when condemnation was called
for: and however amusing a companion the dramatist may have been, he was
not a man to respect, for he had not only the common vices of his age,
but added to them a foppish vanity, toadyism, and fine gentlemanism (to
coin a most necessary word), which we scarcely expect to meet with in a
man who sets up for a satirist.

It is the fate of greatness to have falsehoods told of it, and of
nothing in connection with it more so than of its origin. If the
converse be true, Congreve ought to have been a great man, for the place
and time of his birth are both subjects of dispute. Oh! happy Gifford!
or happy Croker! why did you not--perhaps you did--go to work to set the
world right on this matter--you, to whom a date discovered is the
highest palm (no pun intended, I assure you) of glory, and who would
rather Shakespere had never written 'Hamlet,' or Homer the 'Iliad,' than
that some miserable little forgotten scrap which decided a year or a
place should have been consigned to flames before it fell into your
hands? Why did you not bring the thunder of your abuse and the
pop-gunnery of your satire to bear upon the question, 'How, when, and
where was William Congreve born?'

It was Lady Morgan, I think, who first 'saw the light' (that is, if she
was born in the day-time) in the Irish Channel. If it had been only some
one more celebrated, we should have had by this time a series of
philosophical, geographical, and ethnological pamphlets to prove that
she was English or Irish, according to the fancies or prejudices of the
writers. It was certainly a very Irish thing to do, which is one
argument for the Milesians, and again it was done in the Irish Channel,
which is another and a stronger one; and altogether we are not inclined
to go into forty-five pages of recondite facts and fine-drawn arguments,
mingled with the most vehement abuse of anybody who ever before wrote on
the subject, to prove that this country had the honour of producing her
ladyship--the Wild Irish Girl. We freely give her up to the sister
island. But not so William Congreve, though we are equally indifferent
to the honour in his case.

The one party, then, assert that he was born in this country, the other
that he breathed his first air in the Emerald Isle. Whichever be the
true state of the case, we, as Englishmen, prefer to agree in the
commonly received opinion that he came into this wicked world at the
village of Bardsea, or Bardsey, not far from Leeds in the county of
York. Let the Bardseyans immediately erect a statue to his honour, if
they have been remiss enough to neglect him heretofore.

But our difficulties are not ended, for there is a similar doubt about
the year of his birth. His earliest biographer assures us he was born in
1672, and others that he was baptized three years before, in 1669. Such
a proceeding might well be taken as a proof of his Hibernian extraction,
and accordingly we find Malone supporting the earlier date, producing,
of course, a certificate of baptism to support himself; and as we have
a very great respect for his authority, we beg also to support Mr.

This being settled, we have to examine who were his parents: and this is
satisfactorily answered by his earliest biographer, who informs us that
he was of a very ancient family, being 'the only surviving son of
William Congreve, Esq. (who was second son to Richard Congreve, Esq., of
Congreve and Stretton in that county),' to wit, Yorkshire. Congreve
_père_ held a military command, which took him to Ireland soon after the
dramatist's birth, and thus young William had the incomparable advantage
of being educated at Kilkenny, and afterwards at Trinity, Dublin, the
'silent sister,' as it is commonly called at our universities.

At the age of nineteen, this youth sought the classic shades of the
Middle Temple, of which he was entered a student, but by the honourable
society of which he was never called to the bar; but whether this was
from a disinclination to study 'Coke upon Lyttleton,' or from an
incapacity to digest the requisite number of dinners, the devouring of
which qualify a young gentleman to address an enlightened British jury,
we have no authority for deciding. He was certainly not the first, nor
the last, young Templar who has quitted special pleading on a crusade to
the heights of Parnassus, and he began early to try the nib of his pen
and the colour of his ink in a novel. Eheu! how many a novel has issued
from the dull, dirty chambers of that same Temple! The waters of the
Thames just there seem to have been augmented by a mingled flow of
sewage and Helicon, though the former is undoubtedly in the greater
proportion. This novel, called 'Incognita; or, Love and Duty
Reconciled,' seems to have been--for I confess that I have not read more
than a chapter of it, and hope I never may be forced to do so--great
rubbish, with good store of villains and ruffians, love-sick maidens who
tune their lutes--always conveniently at hand--and love-sick gallants
who run their foes through the body with the greatest imaginable ease.
It was, in fact, such a novel as James might have written, had he lived
a century and a half ago. It brought its author but little fame, and
accordingly he turned his attention to another branch of literature, and
in 1693 produced 'The Old Bachelor,' a play of which Dryden, his friend,
had so high an opinion that he called it the 'best first-play he had
ever read.' However, before being put on the stage it was submitted to
Dryden, and by him and others prepared for representation, so that it
was well fathered. It was successful enough, and Congreve thus found his
vocation. In his dedication--a regular piece of flummery of those days,
for which authors were often well paid, either in cash or interest--he
acknowledges a debt of gratitude to Lord Halifax, who appears to have
taken the young man by the hand.

The young Templar could do nothing better now than write another play.
Play-making was as fashionable an amusement in those days of Old Drury,
the only patented theatre then, as novel-writing is in 1860; and when
the young ensign, Vanbrugh, could write comedies and take the direction
of a theatre, it was no derogation to the dignity of the Staffordshire
squire's grandson to do as much. Accordingly, in the following year he
brought out a better comedy, 'The Double Dealer,' with a prologue which
was spoken by the famous Anne Bracegirdle. She must have been eighty
years old when Horace Walpole wrote of her to that other Horace--Mann:
'Tell Mr. Chute that his friend Bracegirdle breakfasted with me this
morning. As she went out and wanted her clogs, she turned to me and
said: "I remember at the playhouse they used to call, Mrs. Oldfield's
chair! Mrs. Barry's clogs! and Mrs. Bracegirdle's pattens!"' These three
ladies were all buried in Westminster Abbey, and, except Mrs. Cibber,
the most beautiful and most sinful of them all--though they were none of
them spotless--are the only actresses whose ashes and memories are
hallowed by the place, for we can scarcely say that they do _it_ much

The success of 'The Double Dealer,' was at first moderate, although that
highly respectable woman, Queen Mary, honoured it with her august
presence, which forthwith called up verses of the old adulatory style,
though with less point and neatness than those addressed to the Virgin

    'Wit is again the care of majesty,'

said the poet, and

    'Thus flourished wit in our forefathers' age,
     And thus the Roman and Athenian stage.
     Whose wit is best, we'll not presume to tell,
     But this we know, our audience will excell;
     For never was in Rome, nor Athens seen
     So fair a circle, and so bright a queen.'

But this was not enough, for when Her Majesty departed for another realm
in the same year, Congreve put her into a highly eulogistic pastoral,
under the name of Pastora, and made some compliments on her, which were
considered the finest strokes of poetry and flattery combined, that an
age of addresses and eulogies could produce.

    'As lofty pines o'ertop the lowly steed,
     So did her graceful height all nymphs exceed,
     To which excelling height she bore a mind
     Humble as osiers, bending to the wind.

       *       *       *       *       *

     I mourn Pastora dead; let Albion mourn,
     And sable clouds her chalkie cliffs adorn.'

This play was dedicated to Lord Halifax, of whom we have spoken, and who
continued to be Congreve's patron.

The fame of the young man was now made; but in the following year it was
destined to shine out more brilliantly still. Old Betterton--one of the
best Hamlets that ever trod the stage, and of whom Booth declared that
when he was playing the Ghost to his Hamlet, his look of surprise and
horror was so natural, that Booth could not for some minutes recover
himself--was now a veteran in his sixtieth year. For forty years he had
walked the boards, and made a fortune for the patentees of Drury. It was
very shabby of them, therefore, to give some of his best parts to
younger actors. Betterton was disgusted, and determined to set up for
himself, to which end he managed to procure another patent, turned the
Queen's Court in Portugal Row, Lincoln's Inn, into a theatre, and opened
it on the 30th of April, 1695. The building had been before used as a
theatre in the days of the Merry Monarch, and Tom Killegrew had acted
here some twenty years before; but it had again become a 'tennis-quatre
of the lesser sort,' says Cibber, and the new theatre was not very
grand in fabric. But Betterton drew to it all the best actors and
actresses of his former company; and Mrs. Barry and Mrs. Bracegirdle
remained true to the old man. Congreve, to his honour, espoused the same
cause, and the theatre opened with his play of 'Love for Love,' which
was more successful than either of the former. The veteran himself spoke
the prologue, and fair Bracegirdle the epilogue, in which the poet thus
alluded to their change of stage:

    'And thus our audience, which did once resort
     To shining theatres to see our sport,
     Now find us tost into a tennis-court.
     Thus from the past, we hope for future grace:
     I beg it----
     And some here know I have a _begging face_.'

The king himself completed the success of the opening by attending it,
and the theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields might have ruined the older
house, if it had not been for the rapidity with which Vanbrugh and
Cibber, who wrote for Old Drury, managed to concoct their pieces; while
Congreve was a slower, though perhaps better, writer. 'Love for Love'
was hereafter a favourite of Betterton's, and when in 1709, a year
before his death, the company gave the old man--then in ill health, poor
circumstances, and bad spirits--a benefit, he chose this play, and
himself, though more than seventy, acted the part of Valentine,
supported by Mrs. Bracegirdle as Angelina, and Mrs. Barry as Frail.

The young dramatist with all his success, was not satisfied with his
fame, and resolved to show the world that he had as much poetry as wit
in him. This he failed to do; and, like better writers, injured his own
fame, by not being contented with what he had. Congreve--the wit, the
dandy, the man about town--took it into his head to write a tragedy. In
1697 'The Mourning Bride' was acted at the Tennis Court Theatre. The
author was wise enough to return to his former muse, and some time after
produced his best piece, so some think, 'The Way of the World,' which
was also performed by Betterton's company; but, alas! for
overwriting--that cacoëthes of imprudent men--it was almost hissed off
the stage. Whether this was owing to a weariness of Congreve's style,
or whether at the time of its first appearance Collier's attacks, of
which anon, had already disgusted the public with the obscenity and
immorality of this writer, I do not know: but, whatever the cause, the
consequence was that Mr. William Congreve, in a fit of pique, made up
his mind never to write another piece for the stage--a wise resolution,
perhaps--and to turn fine gentleman instead. With the exception of
composing a masque called the 'Judgment of Paris,' and an opera
'Gemele,' which was never performed, he kept this resolution very
honestly; and so Mr. William Congreve's career as a playwright ends at
the early age of thirty.

But though he abandoned the drama, he was not allowed to retire in
peace. There was a certain worthy, but peppery little man, who, though a
Jacobite and a clergyman, was stanch and true, and as superior in
character--even, indeed, in vigour of writing--to Congreve, as Somers
was to every man of his age. This very Jeremy Collier, to whom we owe it
that there is any English drama fit to be acted before our sisters and
wives in the present day. Jeremy, the peppery, purged the stage in a
succession of Jeremiads.

Born in 1650, educated at Cambridge as a poor scholar, ordained at the
age of twenty-six, presented three years later with the living of
Ampton, near Bury St. Edmunds, Jeremy had two qualities to recommend him
to Englishmen--respectability and pluck. In an age when the clergy were
as bad as the blackest sheep in their flocks, Jeremy was distinguished
by purity of life; in an age when the only safety lay in adopting the
principles of the Vicar of Bray, Jeremy was a Nonjuror, and of this
nothing could cure him. The Revolution of 1688 was scarcely effected,
when the fiery little partizan published a pamphlet, which was rewarded
by a residence of some months in Newgate, _not_ in capacity of chaplain.
But he was scarcely let out, when again went his furious pen, and for
four years he continued to assail the new government, till his hands
were shackled and his mouth closed in the prison of 'The Gate-house.'
Now, see the character of the man. He was liberated upon giving bail,
but had no sooner reflected on this liberation than he came to the
conclusion that it was wrong, by offering security, to recognize the
authority of magistrates appointed by a usurper, as he held William to
be, and voluntarily surrendered himself to his judges. Of course he was
again committed, but this time to the King's Bench, and would doubtless
in a few years have made the tour of the London prisons, if his enemies
had not been tired of trying him. Once more at liberty, he passed the
next three years in retirement.

After 1693, Jeremy Collier's name was not brought before the public till
1696, when he publicly absolved Sir John Friend and Sir William Perkins,
at their execution, for being concerned in a plot to assassinate King
William. His 'Essays on Moral Subjects' were published in 1697; 2nd
vol., 1705; 3rd vol., 1709. But the only way to put out a firebrand like
this is to let it alone, and Jeremy, being, no longer persecuted, began,
at last, to think the game was grown stupid, and gave it up. He was a
well-meaning man, however, and as long as he had the luxury of a
grievance, would injure no one.

He found one now in the immorality of his age, and if he had left
politics to themselves from the first, he might have done much more good
than he did. Against the vices of a court and courtly circles it was
useless to start a crusade single-handed; but his quaint clever pen
might yet dress out a powerful Jeremiad against those who encouraged the
licentiousness of the people. Jeremy was no Puritan, for he was a
Nonjuror and a Jacobite, and we may, therefore, believe that the cause
was a good one, when we find him adopting precisely the same line as the
Puritans had done before him. In 1698 he published, to the disgust of
all Drury and Lincoln's Inn, his 'Short View of the Immorality and
Profaneness of the English Stage, together with the Sense of Antiquity
upon this Argument.'

While the King of Naples is supplying his ancient Venuses with gowns,
and putting his Mars and Hercules into pantaloons, there are--such are
the varieties of opinion--respectable men in this country who call Paul
de Kock the greatest moral writer of his age, and who would yet like to
see 'The Relapse,' 'Love for Love,' and the choice specimens of
Wycherley, Farquhar, and even of Beaumont and Fletcher, acted at the
Princess's and the Haymarket in the year of grace 1860. I am not writing
'A Short View' of this or any other moral subject; but this I must
say--the effect of a sight or sound on a human being's silly little
passions must of necessity be relative. Staid people read 'Don Juan,'
Lewis's 'Monk,' the plays of Congreve, and any or all of the
publications of Holywell Street, without more than disgust at their
obscenity and admiration for their beauties. But could we be pardoned
for putting these works into the hands of 'sweet seventeen,' or making
Christmas presents of them to our boys? Ignorance of evil is, to a
certain extent, virtue: let boys be boys in purity of mind as long as
they can: let the unrefined 'great unwashed' be treated also much in the
same way as young people. I maintain that to a coarse mind all improper
ideas, however beautifully clothed, suggest only sensual thoughts--nay,
the very modesty of the garments makes them the more insidious--the more
dangerous. I would rather give my boy Jonson, Massinger, or Beaumont and
Fletcher, whose very improper things 'are called by their proper names,'
than let him dive in the prurient innuendo of these later writers.

But there is no need to argue the question--the public has decided it
long since, and, except in indelicate ballets, and occasional rather
_French_ passages in farce, our modern stage is free from immorality.
Even in Garrick's days, when men were not much more refined than in
those of Queen Anne, it was found impossible to put the old drama on the
stage without considerable weeding. Indeed I doubt if even the liberal
upholder of Paul de Kock would call Congreve a moral writer; but I
confess I am not a competent judge, for _risum teneatis_, my critics, I
have not read his works since I was a boy, and what is more, I have no
intention of reading them. I well remember getting into my hands a large
thick volume, adorned with miserable woodcuts, and bearing on its back
the title 'Wycherley, Congreve, Vanbrugh, and Farquhar.' I devoured it
at first with the same avidity with which one might welcome a
bottle-imp, who at the hour of one's dulness turned up out of the carpet
and offered you delights new and old for nothing but a tether on your
soul: and with a like horror, boy though I was, I recoiled from it when
any better moment came. It seemed to me, when I read this book, as if
life were too rotten for any belief, a nest of sharpers, adulterers,
cut-throats, and prostitutes. There was none--as far as I remember--of
that amiable weakness, of that better sentiment, which in Ben Jonson or
Massinger reconcile us to human nature. If truth be a test of genius, it
must be a proof of true poetry, that man is not made uglier than he is.
Nay, his very ugliness loses its intensity and palls upon our diseased
tastes, for want of some goodness, some purity and honesty to relieve
it. I will not say that there is none of this in Congreve. I only know,
that my recollection of his plays is like that of a vile nightmare,
which I would not for anything have return to me. I have read, since,
books as bad, perhaps worse in some respects, but I have found the
redemption here and there. I would no more place Shandy in any boy's
hands than Congreve and Farquhar; and yet I can read Tristram again and
again with delight; for amid all that is bad there stand out Trim and
Toby, pure specimens of the best side of human nature, coming home to us
and telling us that the world is not all bad. There may be such touches
in 'Love for Love,' or 'The Way of the World'--I know not and care not.
To my remembrance Congreve is but a horrible nightmare, and may the
fates forbid I should be forced to go through his plays again.

Perhaps, then, Jeremy was not far wrong, when he attacked these
specimens of the drama with an unrelenting Nemesis; but he was before
his age. It was less the obvious coarseness of these productions with
which he found fault than their demoralizing tendency in a direction
which we should now, perhaps, consider innocuous. Certainly the Jeremiad
overdid it, and like a swift, but not straight bowler at cricket, he
sent balls which no wicket-keeper could stop, and which, therefore, were
harmless to the batter. He did not want boldness. He attacked Dryden,
now close upon his grave: Congreve, a young man; Vanbrugh, Cibber,
Farquhar, and the rest, all alive, all in the zenith of their fame, and
all as popular as writers could be. It was as much as if a man should
stand up to-day and denounce Dickens and Thackeray, with the exception
that well-meaning people went along with Jeremy, whereas very few would
do more than smile at the zeal of any one who tilted against our modern
pets. Jeremy, no doubt, was bold, but he wanted tact, and so gave his
enemy occasion to blaspheme. He made out cases where there were none,
and let alone what we moderns should denounce. So Congreve took up the
cudgels against him with much wit and much coarseness, and the two
fought out the battle in many a pamphlet and many a letter. But Jeremy
was not to be beaten. His 'Short View' was followed by 'A Defence of the
Short View,' a 'Second Defence of the Short View,' 'A Farther Short
View,' and, in short, a number of 'Short Views,' which had been better
merged into one 'Long Sight.' Jeremy grew coarse and bitter; Congreve
coarser and bitterer; and the whole controversy made a pretty chapter
for the 'Quarrels of Authors.' But the Jeremiad triumphed in the long
run, because, if its method was bad, its cause was good, and a
succeeding generation voted Congreve immoral. Enough of Jeremy. We owe
him a tribute for his pluck, and though no one reads him in the present
day, we may be thankful to him for having led the way to a better state
of things.[15]

Congreve defended himself in eight letters addressed to Mr. Moyle, and
we can only say of them, that, if anything, they are yet coarser than
the plays he would excuse.

The works of the young Templar, and his connection with Betterton,
introduced him to all the writers and wits of his day. He and Vanbrugh,
though rivals, were fellow-workers, and our glorious Haymarket Theatre,
which has gone on at times when Drury and Covent Garden have been in
despair, owes its origin to their confederacy. But Vanbrugh's theatre
was on the site of the present Opera House, and _the_ Haymarket was set
up as a rival concern. Vanbrugh's was built in 1705, and met the usual
fate of theatres, being burnt down some eighty-four years after. It is
curious enough that this house, destined for the 'legitimate
drama'--often a very illegitimate performance--was opened by an opera
set to _Italian_ music, so that 'Her Majesty's' has not much departed
from the original cast of the place.

Perhaps Congreve's best friend was Dryden. This man's life and death are
pretty well known, and even his funeral has been described time and
again. But Corinna--as she was styled--gave of the latter an account
which has been called romantic, and much discredited. There is a deal of
characteristic humour in her story of the funeral, and as it has long
been lost sight of, it may not be unpalatable here: Dryden died on
May-day, 1701, and Lord Halifax[16] undertook to give his body a
_private_ funeral in Westminster Abbey.

'On the Saturday following,' writes Corinna, 'the Company came. The
Corps was put into a Velvet Hearse, and eighteen Mourning Coaches filled
with Company attending. When, just before they began to move, Lord
Jeffreys, with some of his rakish Companions, coming by, in Wine, ask'd
whose Funeral? And being told; "What!" cries he, "shall Dryden, the
greatest Honour and Ornament of the Nation, be buried after this private
Manner? No, Gentlemen! let all that lov'd Mr. Dryden, and honour his
Memory, alight, and join with me in gaining my Lady's Consent, to let me
have the Honour of his Interment, which shall be after another manner
than this, and I will bestow £1000 on a Monument in the Abbey for him."
The Gentlemen in the Coaches, not knowing of the Bishop of Rochester's
Favour, nor of Lord Halifax's generous Design (these two noble Spirits
having, out of Respect to the Family, enjoin'd Lady Elsabeth and her Son
to keep their Favour concealed to the World, and let it pass for her own
Expense), readily came out of the Coaches, and attended Lord Jeffreys up
to the Lady's Bedside, who was then sick. He repeated the purport of
what he had before said, but she absolutely refusing, he fell on his
knees, vowing never to rise till his request was granted. The rest of
the Company, by his Desire, kneeled also; she being naturally of a
timorous Disposition, and then under a sudden surprise, fainted away. As
soon as she recover'd her Speech, she cry'd, "No, no!" "Enough
gentlemen," reply'd he (rising briskly), "My Lady is very good, she
says, Go, go!" She repeated her former Words with all her Strength, but
alas in vain! her feeble voice was lost in their Acclamations of Joy!
and Lord Jeffreys order'd the Hearseman to carry the Corps to Russell's,
an undertaker in Cheapside, and leave it there, till he sent orders for
the Embalment, which, he added, should be after the Royal Manner. His
Directions were obey'd, the Company dispersed, and Lady Elsabeth and Mr.
Charles remained Inconsolable. Next Morning Mr. Charles waited on Lord
Halifax, &c., to excuse his Mother and self, by relating the real Truth.
But neither his Lordship nor the Bishop would admit of any Plea;
especially the latter, who had the Abbey lighted, the ground open'd, the
Choir attending, an Anthem ready set, and himself waiting for some
Hours, without any Corps to bury. Russell, after three days' Expectance
of Orders for Embalment, without receiving any, waits on Lord Jeffreys,
who, pretending Ignorance of the Matter, turn'd it off with an
ill-natured Jest, saying, "Those who observed the orders of a drunken
Frolick, deserved no better; that he remembered nothing at all of it,
and he might do what he pleased with the Corps." On this Mr. Russell
waits on Lady Elsabeth and Mr. Dryden; but alas, it was not in their
power to answer. The season was very hot, the Deceas'd had liv'd high
and fast; and being corpulent, and abounding with gross Humours, grew
very offensive. The Undertaker, in short, threaten'd to bring home the
Corps, and set it before the Door. It cannot be easily imagin'd what
grief, shame, and confusion seized this unhappy Family. They begged a
Day's Respite, which was granted. Mr. Charles wrote a very handsome
Letter to Lord Jeffreys, who returned it with this cool Answer, "He knew
nothing of the Matter, and would be troubled no more about it." He then
addressed the Lord Halifax and Bishop of Rochester, who were both too
justly tho' unhappily incensed, to do anything in it. In this extream
Distress, Dr. Garth, a man who entirely lov'd Mr. Dryden, and was withal
a Man of Generosity and great Humanity, sends for the Corps to the
College of Physicians in Warwick Lane, and proposed a Funeral by
Subscription, to which himself set a most noble example. Mr. Wycherley,
and several others, among whom must not be forgotten Henry Cromwell,
Esq., Captain Gibbons, and Mr. Christopher Metcalfe, Mr. Dryden's
Apothecary and intimate Friend (since a Collegiate Physician), who with
many others contributed most largely to the Subscription; and at last a
Day, about three weeks after his Decease, was appointed for the
Interment at the Abbey. Dr. Garth pronounced a fine Latin Oration over
the Corps at the College; but the Audience being numerous, and the Room
large, it was requisite the Orator should be elevated, that he might be
heard. But as it unluckily happen'd there was nothing at hand but an old
Beer-Barrel, which the Doctor with much good-nature mounted; and in the
midst of his Oration, beating Time to the Accent with his Foot, the Head
broke in, and his Feet sunk to the Bottom, which occasioned the
malicious Report of his Enemies, "That he was turned a Tub-Preacher."
However, he finished the Oration with a superior grace and genius, to
the loud Acclamations of Mirth, which inspir'd the mix'd or rather
Mob-Auditors. The Procession began to move, a numerous Train of Coaches
attended the Hearse: But, good God! in what Disorder can only be
express'd by a Sixpenny Pamphlet, soon after published, entitled
"Dryden's Funeral." At last the Corps arrived at the Abbey, which was
all unlighted. No Organ played, no Anthem sung; only two of the Singing
boys preceded the Corps, who sung an Ode of Horace, with each a small
candle in their Hand. The Butchers and other Mob broke in like a Deluge,
so that only about eight or ten Gentlemen could gain Admission, and
those forced to cut the Way with their drawn Swords. The Coffin in this
Disorder was let down into Chaucer's Grave, with as much confusion, and
as little Ceremony, as was possible; every one glad to save themselves
from the Gentlemen's Swords, or the Clubs of the Mob. When the Funeral
was over, Mr. Charles sent a Challenge to Lord Jeffreys, who refusing to
answer it, he sent several others, and went often himself, but could
neither get a Letter deliver'd, nor Admittance to speak to him, that he
resolved, since his Lordship refused to answer him like a Gentleman, he
would watch an Opportunity to meet him, and fight off hand, tho' with
all the Rules of Honour; which his Lordship hearing, left the Town, and
Mr. Charles could never have the satisfaction to meet him, tho' he
sought it till his death with the utmost Application.'

Dryden was, perhaps, the last man of learning that believed in
astrology; though an eminent English author, now living, and celebrated
for the variety of his acquirements, has been known to procure the
casting of horoscopes, and to consult a noted 'astrologer,' who gives
opinions for a small sum. The coincidences of prophecy are not more
remarkable than those of star-telling; and Dryden and the author I have
referred to were probably both captivated into belief by some fatuitous
realization of their horoscopic predictions. Nor can we altogether blame
their credulity, when we see biology, table-turning, rapping, and all
the family of imposture, taken up seriously in our own time.

On the birth of his son Charles, Dryden immediately cast his horoscope.
The following account of Dryden's paternal solicitude for his son, and
its result, may be taken as embellished, if not apocryphal. Evil hour,
indeed--Jupiter, Venus, and the Sun were all 'under the earth;' Mars and
Saturn were in square: eight, or a multiple of it, would be fatal to the
child--the square foretold it. In his eighth, his twenty-fourth, or his
thirty-second year, he was certain to die, though he might possibly
linger on to the age of thirty-four. The stars did all they could to
keep up their reputation. When the boy was eight years old he nearly
lost his life by being buried under a heap of stones out of an old wall,
knocked down by a stag and hounds in a hunt. But the stars were not to
be beaten, and though the child recovered, went in for the game a second
time in his twenty-third year, when he fell, in a fit of giddiness, from
a tower, and, to use Lady Elsabeth's words, was 'mash'd to a mummy.'
Still the battle was not over, and the mummy returned in due course to
its human form, though considerably disfigured. Mars and Saturn were
naturally disgusted at his recovery, and resolved to finish the
disobedient youth. As we have seen, he in vain sought his fate at the
hand of Jeffreys; but we must conclude that the offended constellations
took Neptune in partnership, for in due course the youth met with a
watery grave.

After abandoning the drama, Congreve appears to have come out in the
light of an independent gentleman. He was already sufficiently
introduced into literary society; Pope, Steele, Swift, and Addison were
not only his friends but his admirers, and we can well believe that
their admiration was considerable, when we find the one dedicating his
'Miscellany,' the other his translation of the 'Iliad,' to a man who was
qualified neither by rank nor fortune to play Mæcenas.

At what time he was admitted to the Kit-kat I am not in a position to
state, but it must have been after 1715, and by that time he was a
middle-aged man, his fame was long since achieved; and whatever might be
thought of his works and his controversy with Collier, he was recognised
as one of the literary stars at a period when the great courted the
clever, and wit was a passport to any society. Congreve had plenty of
that, and probably at the Kit-kat was the life of the party when
Vanbrugh was away or Addison in a graver mood. Untroubled by conscience,
he could launch out on any subject whatever; and his early life, spent
in that species of so-called gaiety which was then the routine of every
young man of the world, gave him ample experience to draw upon. But
Congreve's ambition was greater than his talents. No man so little knew
his real value, or so grossly asserted one which he had not. Gay,
handsome, and in good circumstances, he aspired to be, not Congreve the
poet, not Congreve the wit, not Congreve the man of mind, but simply
Congreve the fine gentleman. Such humility would be charming if it were
not absurd. It is a vice of scribes to seek a character for which they
have little claim. Moore loved to be thought a diner-out rather than a
poet; even Byron affected the fast man when he might have been content
with the name of 'genius;' but Congreve went farther, and was ashamed of
being poet, dramatist, genius, or what you will. An anecdote of him,
told by Voltaire, who may have been an 'awfu' liar,' but had no
temptation to invent in such a case as this, is so consistent with what
we gather of the man's character, that one cannot but think it is true.

The philosopher of Ferney was anxious to see and converse with a
brother dramatist of such celebrity as the author of 'The Way of the
World.' He expected to find a man of a keen satirical mind, who would
join him in a laugh against humanity. He visited Congreve, and naturally
began to talk of his works. The fine gentleman spoke of them as trifles
utterly beneath his notice, and told him, with an affectation which
perhaps was sincere, that he wished to be visited as a gentleman, not as
an author. One can imagine the disgust of his brother dramatist.
Voltaire replied, that had Mr. Congreve been nothing more than a
gentleman, he should not have taken the trouble to call on him, and
therewith retired with an expression of merited contempt.

It is only in the present day that authorship is looked upon as a
profession, though it has long been one. It is amusing to listen to the
sneers of men who never wrote a book, or who, having written, have
gained thereby some more valuable advantage than the publisher's cheque.
The men who talk with horror of writing for money, are glad enough if
their works introduce them to the notice of the influential, and aid
them in procuring a place. In the same way, Congreve was not at all
ashamed of fulsome dedications, which brought him the favour of the
great. Yet we may ask, if, the labourer being worthy of his hire, and
the labour of the brain being the highest, finest, and most exhausting
that can be, the man who straight-forwardly and without affectation
takes guineas from his publisher, is not honester than he who counts
upon an indirect reward for his toil? Fortunately, the question is
almost settled by the example of the first writers of the present day;
but there are still people who think that one should sit down to a
year's--ay, ten years'--hard mental work, and expect no return but fame.
Whether such objectors have always private means to return to, or
whether they have never known what it is to write a book, we do not care
to examine, but they are to be found in large numbers among the
educated; and indeed, to this present day, it is held by some among the
upper classes to be utterly derogatory to write for money.

Whether this was the feeling in Congreve's day or not is not now the
question. Those were glorious days for an author, who did not mind
playing the sycophant a little. Instead of having to trudge from door to
door in Paternoster Row, humbly requesting an interview, which is not
always granted--instead of sending that heavy parcel of MS., which costs
you a fortune for postage, to publisher after publisher, till it is so
often 'returned with thanks' that you hate the very sight of it, the
young author of those days had a much easier and more comfortable part
to play. An introduction to an influential man in town, who again would
introduce you to a patron, was all that was necessary. The profession of
Mæcenas was then as recognized and established as that of doctor or
lawyer. A man of money could always buy brains; and most noblemen
considered an author to be as necessary a part of his establishment as
the footmen who ushered them into my lord's presence. A fulsome
dedication in the largest type was all that he asked: and if a writer
were sufficiently profuse in his adulation, he might dine at Mæcenas's
table, drink his sack and canary without stint, and apply to him for
cash whenever he found his pockets empty. Nor was this all: if a writer
were sufficiently successful in his works to reflect honour on his
patron, he was eagerly courted by others of the noble profession. He was
offered, if not hard cash, as good an equivalent, in the shape of a
comfortable government sinecure; and if this was not to be had, he was
sometimes even lodged and boarded by his obliged dedicatee. In this way
he was introduced into the highest society; and if he had wit enough to
support the character, he soon found himself _facile princeps_ in a
circle of the highest nobility in the land. Thus it is that in the clubs
of the day we find title and wealth mingling with wit and genius; and
the writer who had begun life by a cringing dedication, was now rewarded
by the devotion and assiduity of the men he had once flattered. When
Steele, Swift, Addison, Pope, and Congreve were the kings of their sets,
it was time for authors to look and talk big. Eheu! those happy days are

Our dramatist, therefore, soon discovered that a good play was the key
to a good place, and the Whigs took care that he should have it. Oddly
enough, when the Tories came in they did not turn him out. Perhaps they
wanted to gain him over to themselves; perhaps, like the Vicar of Bray,
he did not mind turning his coat once or twice in a life-time. However
this may be, he managed to keep his appointment without offending his
own party; and when the latter returned to power, he even induced them
to give him a comfortable little sinecure, which went by the name of
Secretary to the Island of Jamaica, and raised the income from his
appointments to £1200 a year.

From this period he was little before the public. He could afford now to
indulge his natural indolence and selfishness. His private life was
perhaps not worse than that of the majority of his contemporaries. He
had his intrigues, his mistresses, the same love of wine, and the same
addiction to gluttony. He had the reputation of a wit, and with wits he
passed his time, sufficiently easy in his circumstances to feel no
damping to his spirits in the cares of this life. The Island of Jamaica
probably gave him no further trouble than that of signing a few papers
from time to time, and giving a receipt for his salary. His life,
therefore, presents no very remarkable feature, and he is henceforth
known more on account of his friends than for aught he may himself have
done. The best of these friends was Walter Moyle, the scholar, who
translated parts of Lucian and Xenophon, and was pretty well known as a
classic. He was a Cornish man of independent means, and it was to him
that Congreve addressed the letters in which he attempted to defend
himself from the attacks of Collier.

It was not to be expected that a wit and a poet should go through life
without a platonic, and accordingly we find our man not only attached,
but devoted to a lady of great distinction. This was no other than
Henrietta, Duchess of Marlborough, the daughter of 'Malbrook' himself,
and of the famous 'Queen Sarah.' Henrietta was the eldest daughter, and
there was no son to inherit the prowess of Churchill and the parsimony
of his wife. The nation--to which, by the way, the Marlboroughs were
never grateful--would not allow the title of their pet warrior to become
extinct, and a special Act of Parliament gave to the eldest daughter the
honours of the duchy.[17] The two Duchesses of Marlborough hated each
other cordially. Sarah's temper was probably the main cause of their
bickering; but there is never a feud between parent and child in which
both are not more or less blameable.

The Duchess Henrietta conceived a violent fancy for the wit and poet,
and whatever her husband, Lord Godolphin, may have thought of it, the
connection ripened into a most intimate friendship, so much so that
Congreve made the duchess not only his executrix, but the sole residuary
legatee of all his property.[18] His will gives us some insight into the
toadying character of the man. Only four near relations are mentioned as
legatees, and only £540 is divided among them; whereas, after leaving
£200 to Mrs. Bracegirdle, the actress; £100, 'and all my apparel and
linnen of all sorts' to a Mrs. Rooke, he divides the rest between his
friends of the nobility, Lords Cobham and Shannon, the Duchess of
Newcastle, Lady Mary Godolphin, Colonel Churchill (who receives 'twenty
pounds, together with my gold-headed cane'), and, lastly, 'to the poor
of the parish,' the magnificent sum of _ten pounds_. 'Blessed are those
who give to the rich;' these words must surely have expressed the
sentiment of the worldly Congreve.

However, Congreve got something in return from the Duchess Henrietta,
which he might not have received from 'the poor of the parish,' to wit,
a monument, and an inscription on it written by her own hand. I have
already said what 'Queen Sarah' thought of the latter, and, for the
rest, those who care to read the nonsense on the walls of Westminster
Abbey can decide for themselves as to the honour the poet received from
his titled friend.

The latter days of William Congreve were passed in wit and gout: the
wine, which warmed the one, probably brought on the latter. After a
course of ass's milk, which does not seem to have done him much good,
the ex-dramatist retired to Bath, a very fashionable place for departing
life in, under easy and elegant circumstances. But he not only drank of
the springs beloved of King Bladud, of apocryphal memory, but even went
so far as to imbibe the snail-water, which was then the last species of
quack cure in vogue. This, probably, despatched him. But it is only just
to that disagreeable little reptile that infests our gardens, and whose
slime was supposed to possess peculiarly strengthening properties, to
state that his death was materially hastened by being overturned when
driving in his chariot. He was close upon sixty, had long been blind
from cataracts in his eyes, and as he was no longer either useful or
ornamental to the world in general, he could perhaps be spared. He died
soon after this accident in January, 1729. He had the sense to die at a
time when Westminster Abbey, being regarded as a mausoleum, was open to
receive the corpse of any one who had a little distinguished himself,
and even of some who had no distinction whatever. He was buried there
with great pomp, and his dear duchess set up his monument. So much for
his body. What became of the soul of a dissolute, vain, witty, and
unprincipled man, is no concern of ours. _Requiescat in pace_, if there
is any peace for those who are buried in Westminster Abbey.


[Footnote 15: Dryden, in the Preface to his Fables, acknowledged that
Collier 'had, in many points, taxed him justly.']

[Footnote 16: Charles Montagu, Earl of Halifax. Lord Halifax was born in
1661, and died in 1715. He was called 'Mouse Montagu.']

[Footnote 17: See Burke's 'Peerage.']

[Footnote 18: The Duchess of Marlborough received £10,000 by Mr.
Congreve's will.]


  The King of Bath.--Nash at Oxford.--'My Boy Dick.'--Offers of
      Knighthood.--Doing Penance at York.--Days of Folly.--A very
      Romantic Story.--Sickness and Civilization.--Nash descends upon
      Bath.--Nash's Chef-d'oeuvre.--The Ball.--Improvements in the
      Pump-room, &c.--A Public Benefactor.--Life at Bath in Nash's
      time.--A Compact with the Duke of Beaufort.--Gaming at
      Bath.--Anecdotes of Nash.--'Miss Sylvia.'--A Generous
      Act.--Nash's Sun setting.--A Panegyric.--Nash's Funeral.--His

There is nothing new under the sun, said Walpole, by way of a very
original remark. 'No,' whispered George Selwyn, 'nor under the grandson,

Mankind, as a body, has proved its silliness in a thousand ways, but in
none, perhaps, so ludicrously as in its respect for a man's coat. He is
not always a fool that knows the value of dress; and some of the wisest
and greatest of men have been dandies of the first water. King Solomon
was one, and Alexander the Great was another; but there never was a more
despotic monarch, nor one more humbly obeyed by his subjects, than the
King of Bath, and he won his dominions by the cut of his coat. But as
Hercules was killed by a dress-shirt, so the beaux of the modern world
have generally ruined themselves by their wardrobes, and brought remorse
to their hearts, or contempt from the very people who once worshipped
them. The husband of Mrs. Damer, who appeared in a new suit twice a-day,
and whose wardrobe sold for £15,000, blew his brains out at a
coffee-house. Beau Fielding, Beau Nash, and Beau Brummell all expiated
their contemptible vanity in obscure old age of want and misery. As the
world is full of folly, the history of a fool is as good a mirror to
hold up to it as another; but in the case of Beau Nash the only question
is, whether he or his subjects were the greater fools. So now for a
picture of as much folly as could well be crammed into that hot basin in
the Somersetshire hills, of which more anon.

It is a hard thing for a man not to have had a father--harder still,
like poor Savage, to have one whom he cannot get hold of; but perhaps it
is hardest of all, when you have a father, and that parent a very
respectable man, to be told that you never had one. This was Nash's
case, and his father was so little known, and so seldom mentioned, that
the splendid Beau was thought almost to have dropped from the clouds,
ready dressed and powdered. He dropped in reality from anything but a
heavenly place--the shipping town of Swansea: so that Wales can claim
the honour of having produced the finest beau of his age.

Old Nash was, perhaps, a better gentleman than his son; but with far
less pretension. He was a partner in a glass-manufactory. The Beau, in
after-years, often got rallied on the inferiority of his origin, and the
least obnoxious answer he ever made was to Sarah of Marlborough, as rude
a creature as himself, who told him he was ashamed of his parentage.
'No, madam,' replied the King of Bath, 'I seldom mention my father, in
company, not because I have any reason to be ashamed of him, but because
he has some reason to be ashamed of me.' Nash, though a fop and a fool,
was not a bad-hearted man, as we shall see. And if there were no other
redeeming point in his character, it is a great deal to say for him,
that in an age of toadyism, he treated rank in the same manner as he did
the want of it, and did his best to remove the odious distinctions which
pride would have kept up in his dominions. In fact, King Nash may be
thanked for having, by his energy in this respect, introduced into
society the first elements of that middle class which is found alone in

Old Nash--whose wife, by the way, was niece to that Colonel Poyer who
defended Pembroke Castle in the days of the first Revolution--was one of
those silly men who want to make gentlemen of their sons, rather than
good men. He had his wish. His son Richard was a very fine gentleman, no
doubt; but, unfortunately, the same circumstances that raised him to
that much coveted position, also made him a gambler and a profligate.
Oh! foolish papas, when will you learn that a Christian snob is worth
ten thousand irreligious gentlemen? When will you be content to bring up
your boys for heaven rather than for the brilliant world? Nash, senior,
sent his son first to school and then to Oxford, to be made a gentleman
of. Richard was entered at Jesus College, the haunt of the Welsh. In my
day, this quiet little place was celebrated for little more than the
humble poverty of its members, one-third of whom rejoiced in the
cognomen of Jones. They were not renowned for cleanliness, and it was a
standing joke with us silly boys, to ask at the door for 'that Mr. Jones
who had a tooth-brush.' If the college had the same character then, Nash
must have astonished its dons, and we are not surprised that in his
first year they thought it better to get rid of him.

His father could ill afford to keep him at Oxford, and fondly hoped he
would distinguish himself. 'My boy Dick' did so at the very outset, by
an offer of marriage to one of those charming sylphs of that academical
city, who are always on the look-out for credulous undergraduates. The
affair was discovered, and Master Richard, who was not seventeen, was
removed from the University.[19] Whether he ever, in after-life, made
another offer, I know not, but there is no doubt that he _ought_ to have
been married, and that the connections he formed in later years were far
more disreputable than his first love affairs.

The worthy glass manufacturer, having failed to make his son a gentleman
in one way, took the best step to make him a blackguard, and, in spite
of the wild inclinations he had already evinced, bought him a commission
in the army. In this new position the incipient Beau did everything but
his duty; dressed superbly, but would not be in time for parade, spent
more money than he had, but did not obey orders; and finally, though not
expelled from the army, he found it convenient to sell his commission,
and return home, after spending the proceeds.

Papa was now disgusted, and sent the young Hopeless to shift for
himself. What could a well-disposed, handsome youth do to keep body and,
not soul, but clothes together? He had but one talent, and that was for
dress. Alas, for our degenerate days! When we are pitched upon our own
bottoms, we must work; and that is a highly ungentlemanly thing to do.
But in the beginning of the last century, such a degrading resource was
quite unnecessary. There were always at hand plenty of establishments
where a youth could obtain the necessary funds to pay his tailor, if
fortune favoured him; and if not, he could follow the fashion of the
day, and take to what the Japanese call 'the happy Despatch.' Nash
probably suspected that he had no brains to blow out, and he determined
the more resolutely to make fortune his mistress. He went to the
gaming-table, and turned his one guinea into ten, and his ten into a
hundred, and was soon blazing about in gold lace, and a new sword, the
very delight of dandies.

He had entered his name, by way of excuse, at the Temple, and we can
quite believe that he ate all the requisite dinners, though it is not so
certain that he paid for them. He soon found that a fine coat is not so
very far beneath a good brain in worldly estimation, and when, on the
accession of William the Third, the Templars, according to the old
custom, gave his Majesty a banquet, Nash, as a promising Beau, was
selected to manage the establishment. It was his first experience of the
duties of an M.C., and he conducted himself so ably on this occasion
that the king even offered to make a knight of him. Probably Master
Richard thought of his empty purse, for he replied with some of that
assurance which afterwards stood him in such good stead, 'Please your
majesty, if you intend to make me a knight, I wish I may be one of your
poor knights of Windsor, and then I shall have a fortune, at least able
to support my title.' William did not see the force of this argument,
and Mr. Nash remained Mr. Nash till the day of his death. He had another
chance of the title, however, in days when he could have better
maintained it, but again he refused. Queen Anne once asked him why he
declined knighthood. He replied: 'There is Sir William Read, the
mountebank, who has just been knighted, and I should have to call him
"brother."' The honour was, in fact, rather a cheap one in those days,
and who knows whether a man who had done such signal service to his
country did not look forward to a peerage? Worse men than even Beau Nash
have had it.

Well, Nash could afford to defy royalty, for he was to be himself a
monarch of all he surveyed, and a good deal more; but before we follow
him to Bath, let us give the devil his due--which, by the way, he
generally gets--and tell a pair of tales in the Beau's favour.

Imprimis, his accounts at the Temple were £10 deficient. Now I don't
mean that Nash was not as great a liar as most of his craft, but the
truth of this tale rests on the authority of the 'Spectator,' though
Nash took delight in repeating it.

'Come hither, young man,' said the Benchers, coolly: 'Whereunto this

'Pri'thee, good masters,' quoth Nash, 'that £10 was spent on making a
man happy.'

'A man happy, young sir, pri'thee explain.'

'Odds donners,' quoth Nash, 'the fellow said in my hearing that his wife
and bairns were starving, and £10 would make him the happiest man _sub
sole_, and on such an occasion as His Majesty's accession, could I
refuse it him?'

Nash was, proverbially more generous than just. He would not pay a debt
if he could help it, but would give the very amount to the first friend
that begged it. There was much ostentation in this, but then my friend
Nash _was_ ostentatious. One friend bothered him day and night for £20
that was owing to him, and he could not get it. Knowing his debtor's
character, he hit, at last, on a happy expedient, and sent a friend to
_borrow_ the money, 'to relieve his urgent necessities.' Out came the
bank note, before the story of distress was finished. The friend carried
it to the creditor, and when the latter again met Nash, he ought to have
made him a pretty compliment on his honesty.

Perhaps the King of Bath would not have tolerated in any one else the
juvenile frolics he delighted in after-years to relate of his own early
days. When at a loss for cash, he would do anything, but work, for a
fifty pound note, and having, in one of his trips, lost all his money
at York, the Beau undertook to 'do penance' at the minster door for that
sum. He accordingly arrayed himself--not in sackcloth and ashes--but in
an able-bodied blanket, and nothing else, and took his stand at the
porch, just at the hour when the dean would be going in to read service.
'He, ho,' cried that dignitary, who knew him, 'Mr. Nash in
masquerade?'--'Only a Yorkshire penance, Mr. Dean,' quoth the reprobate;
'for keeping bad company, too,' pointing therewith to the friends who
had come to see the sport.

This might be tolerated, but when in the eighteenth century a young man
emulates the hardiness of Godiva, without her merciful heart, we may not
think quite so well of him. Mr. Richard Nash, Beau Extraordinary to the
Kingdom of Bath, once rode through a village in that costume of which
even our first parent was rather ashamed, and that, too, on the back of
a cow! The wager was, I believe, considerable. A young Englishman did
something more respectable, yet quite as extraordinary, at Paris, not a
hundred years ago, for a small bet. He was one of the stoutest,
thickest-built men possible, yet being but eighteen, had neither whisker
nor moustache to masculate his clear English complexion. At the Maison
Dorée one night he offered to ride in the Champs Elysées in a lady's
habit, and not be mistaken for a man. A friend undertook to dress him,
and went all over Paris to hire a habit that would fit his round figure.
It was hopeless for a time, but at last a good-sized body was found, and
added thereto, an ample skirt. Félix dressed his hair with _mainte_
plats and a _net_. He looked perfect, but in coming out of the
hairdresser's to get into his fly, unconsciously pulled up his skirt and
displayed a sturdy pair of well-trousered legs. A crowd--there is always
a ready crowd in Paris--was waiting, and the laugh was general. This
hero reached the horse-dealer's--'mounted,' and rode down the Champs. 'A
very fine woman that,' said a Frenchman in the promenade, 'but what a
back she has!' It was in the return bet to this that a now well-known
diplomat drove a goat-chaise and six down the same fashionable resort,
with a monkey, dressed as a footman, in the back seat. The days of folly
did not, apparently end with Beau Nash.

There is a long lacuna in the history of this worthy's life, which may
have been filled up by a residence in a spunging-house, or by a
temporary appointment as billiard-marker; but the heroic Beau accounted
for his disappearance at this time in a much more romantic manner. He
used to relate that he was once asked to dinner on board of a man-of-war
under orders for the Mediterranean, and that such was the affection the
officers entertained for him, that, having made him drunk--no difficult
matter--they weighed anchor, set sail, and carried the successor of King
Bladud away to the wars. Having gone so far, Nash was not the man to
neglect an opportunity for imaginary valour. He therefore continued to
relate, that, in the apocryphal vessel, he was once engaged in a yet
more apocryphal encounter, and wounded in the leg. This was a little too
much for the good Bathonians to believe, but Nash silenced their doubts.
On one occasion, a lady who was present when he was telling this story,
expressed her incredulity.

'I protest, madam,' cried the Beau, lifting his leg up, 'it is true, and
if I cannot be believed, your ladyship may, if you please, receive
further information and feel the ball in my leg.'

Wherever Nash may have passed the intervening years, may be an
interesting speculation for a German professor, but is of little moment
to us. We find him again, at the age of thirty, taking first steps
towards the complete subjugation of the kingdom he afterwards ruled.

There is, among the hills of Somersetshire, a huge basin formed by the
river Avon, and conveniently supplied with a natural gush of hot water,
which can be turned on at any time for the cleansing of diseased bodies.
This hollow presents many curious anomalies; though sought for centuries
for the sake of health, it is one of the most unhealthily-situated
places in the kingdom; here the body and the pocket are alike cleaned
out, but the spot itself has been noted for its dirtiness since the days
of King Bladud's wise pigs; here, again, the diseased flesh used to be
healed, but the healthy soul within it speedily besickened: you came to
cure gout and rheumatism, and caught in exchange dice-fever.

The mention of those pigs reminds me that it would be a shameful
omission to speak of this city without giving the story of that
apocryphal British monarch, King Bladud. But let me be the one
exception; let me respect the good sense of the reader, and not insult
him by supposing him capable of believing a mythic jumble of kings and
pigs and dirty marshes, which he will, if he cares to, find at full
length in any 'Bath Guide'--price sixpence.

But whatever be the case with respect to the Celtic sovereign, there is,
I presume, no doubt, that the Romans were here, and probably the
centurians and tribunes cast the _alea_ in some pristine assembly-room,
or wagged their plumes in some well-built Pump-room, with as much spirit
of fashion as the full-bottomed-wig exquisites in the reign of King
Nash. At any rate Bath has been in almost every age a common centre for
health-seekers and gamesters--two antipodal races who always flock
together--and if it has from time to time declined, it has only been for
a period. Saxon churls and Norman lords were too sturdy to catch much
rheumatic gout; crusaders had better things to think of than their
imaginary ailments; good-health was in fashion under Plantagenets and
Tudors; doctors were not believed in; even empirics had to praise their
wares with much wit, and Morrison himself must have mounted a bank and
dressed in Astleyian costume in order to find a customer; sack and
small-beer were harmless, when homes were not comfortable enough to keep
earl or churl by the fireside, and 'out-of-doors' was the proper
drawing-room for a man: in short, sickness came in with civilization,
indisposition with immoral habits, fevers with fine gentlemanliness,
gout with greediness, and valetudinarianism--there _is_ no Anglo-Saxon
word for that--with what we falsely call refinement. So, whatever Bath
may have been to pampered Romans, who over-ate themselves, it had little
importance to the stout, healthy middle ages, and it was not till the
reign of Charles II. that it began to look up. Doctors and touters--the
two were often one in those days--thronged there, and fools were found
in plenty to follow them. At last the blessed countenance of portly Anne
smiled on the pig styes of King Bladud. In 1703 she went to Bath, and
from that time 'people of distinction' flocked there. The assemblage was
not perhaps very brilliant or very refined. The visitors danced on the
green, and played privately at hazard. A few sharpers found their way
down from London; and at last the Duke of Beaufort instituted an M.C. in
the person of Captain Webster--Nash's predecessor--whose main act of
glory was in setting up gambling as a public amusement. It remained for
Nash to make the place what it afterwards was, when Chesterfield could
lounge in the Pump-room and take snuff with the Beau; when Sarah of
Marlborough, Lord and Lady Hervey, the Duke of Wharton, Congreve, and
all the little-great of the day thronged thither rather to kill time
with less ceremony than in London, than to cure complaints more or less

The doctors were only less numerous than the sharpers; the place was
still uncivilized; the company smoked and lounged without etiquette, and
played without honour: the place itself lacked all comfort, all
elegance, and all cleanliness.

Upon this delightful place, the avatár of the God of Etiquette,
personified in Mr. Richard Nash, descended somewhere about the year
1705, for the purpose of regenerating the barbarians. He alighted just
at the moment that one of the doctors we have alluded to, in a fit of
disgust at some slight on the part of the town, was threatening to
destroy its reputation, or, as he politely expressed it, 'to throw a
toad into the spring.' The Bathonians were alarmed and in consternation,
when young Nash, who must have already distinguished himself as a
macaroni, stepped forward and offered to render the angry physician
impotent. 'We'll charm his toad out again with music,' quoth he. He
evidently thought very little of the watering-place, after his town
experiences, and prepared to treat it accordingly. He got up a band in
the Pump-room, brought thither in this manner the healthy as well as the
sick, and soon raised the renown of Bath as a resort for gaiety as well
as for mineral waters. In a word, he displayed a surprising talent for
setting everything and everybody to rights, and was, therefore, soon
elected, by tacit voting, the King of Bath.

He rapidly proved his qualifications for the position. First he secured
his Orphean harmony by collecting a band-subscription, which gave two
guineas a-piece to six performers; then he engaged an official pumper
for the Pump-room; and lastly, finding that the bathers still gathered
under a booth to drink their tea and talk their scandal, he induced one
Harrison to build assembly-rooms, guaranteeing him three guineas a week
to be raised by subscription.

All this demanded a vast amount of impudence on Mr. Nash's part, and
this he possessed to a liberal extent. The subscriptions flowed in
regularly, and Nash felt his power increase with his responsibility. So,
then, our minor monarch resolved to be despotic, and in a short time
laid down laws for the guests, which they obeyed most obsequiously. Nash
had not much wit, though a great deal of assurance, but these laws were
his _chef-d'oeuvre_. Witness some of them:--

1. 'That a visit of ceremony at first coming and another at going away,
are all that are expected or desired by ladies of quality and
fashion--except impertinents.

4. 'That no person takes it ill that any one goes to another's play or
breakfast, and not theirs--except captious nature.

5. 'That no gentleman give his ticket for the balls to any but
gentlewomen. N.B.--Unless he has none of his acquaintance.

6. 'That gentlemen crowding before the ladies at the ball, show ill
manners; and that none do so for the future--except such as respect
nobody but themselves.

9. 'That the younger ladies take notice how many eyes observe them.
N.B.--This does not extend to the _Have-at-alls_.

10. 'That all whisperers of lies and scandal be taken for their

Really this law of Nash's must have been repealed some time or other at
Bath. Still more that which follows:--

11. 'That repeaters of such lies and scandal be shunned by all company,
except such as have been guilty of the same crime.'

There is a certain amount of satire in these Lycurgus statutes that
shows Nash in the light of an observer of society; but, query, whether
any frequenter of Bath would not have devised as good?

The dances of those days must have been somewhat tedious. They began
with a series of minuets, in which, of course, only one couple danced at
a time, the most distinguished opening the ball. These solemn
performances lasted about two hours, and we can easily imagine that the
rest of the company were delighted when the country dances, which
included everybody, began. The ball opened at six; the country dances
began at eight: at nine there was a lull for the gentlemen to offer
their partners tea; in due course the dances were resumed, and at eleven
Nash held up his hand to the musicians, and under no circumstances was
the ball allowed to continue after that hour. Nash well knew the value
of early hours to invalids, and he would not destroy the healing
reputation of Bath for the sake of a little more pleasure. On one
occasion the Princess Amelia implored him to allow one dance more. The
despot replied, that his laws were those of Lycurgus, and could not be
abrogated for any one. By this we see that the M.C. was already an
autocrat in his kingdom.

Nor is it to be supposed that his majesty's laws were confined to such
merely professional arrangements. Not a bit of it; in a very short time
his impudence gave him undenied right of interference with the coats and
gowns, the habits and manners, even the daily actions of his subjects,
for so the visitors at Bath were compelled to become. _Si parvis
componere magna recibit_, we may admit that the rise of Nash and that of
Napoleon were owing to similar causes. The French emperor found France
in a state of disorder, with which sensible people were growing more and
more disgusted; he offered to restore order and propriety; the French
hailed him, and gladly submitted to his early decrees; then, when he had
got them into the habit of obedience, he could make what laws he liked,
and use his power without fear of opposition. The Bath emperor followed
the same course, and it may be asked whether it does not demand as great
an amount of courage, assurance, perseverance, and administrative power
to subdue several hundreds of English ladies and gentlemen as to rise
supreme above some millions of French republicans. Yet Nash experienced
less opposition than Napoleon; Nash reigned longer, and had no infernal
machine prepared to blow him up.

Everybody was delighted with the improvements in the Pump-room, the
balls, the promenades, the chairmen--the _Rouge_ ruffians of the mimic
kingdom--whom he reduced to submission, and therefore nobody complained
when Emperor Nash went further, and made war upon the white aprons of
the ladies and the boots of the gentlemen. The society was in fact in a
very barbarous condition at the time, and people who came for pleasure
liked to be at ease. Thus ladies lounged into the balls in their
riding-hoods or morning dresses, gentlemen in boots, with their pipes in
their mouths. Such atrocities were intolerable to the late frequenter of
London society, and in his imperious arrogance, the new monarch used
actually to pull off the white aprons of ladies who entered the
assembly-rooms with that _dégagé_ article, and throw them upon the back
seats. Like the French emperor, again, he treated high and low in the
same manner, and when the Duchess of Queensberry appeared in an apron,
coolly pulled it off, and told her it was only fit for a maid-servant.
Her grace made no resistance.

The men were not so submissive; but the M.C. turned them into ridicule,
and whenever a gentleman appeared at the assembly-rooms in boots, would
walk up to him, and in a loud voice remark, 'Sir, I think you have
forgot your horse.' To complete his triumph, he put the offenders into a
song called 'Trentinella's Invitation to the Assembly.'

    'Come, one and all,
     To Hoyden Hall,
       For there's the assembly this night:
     None but proud fools,
     Mind manners and rules;
       We Hoydens do decency slight.

    'Come trollops and slatterns,
     Cockt hats and white aprons;
       This best our modesty suits:
     For why should not we
     In a dress be as free
       As Hogs-Norton squires in boots?'

and as this was not enough, got up a puppet-show of a sufficient
coarseness to suit the taste of the time, in which the practice of
wearing boots was satirized.

His next onslaught was upon that of carrying swords; and in this respect
Nash became a public benefactor, for in those days, though Chesterfield
was the writer on etiquette, people were not well-bred enough to keep
their tempers, and rivals for a lady's hand at a minuet, or gamblers who
disputed over their cards, invariably settled the matter by an option
between suicide or murder under the polite name of duel. The M.C. wisely
saw that these affairs would bring Bath in bad repute, and determined to
supplant the rapier by the less dangerous cane. In this he was for a
long time opposed, until a notorious torchlight duel between two
gamblers, of whom one was run through the body, and the other, to show
his contrition, turned Quaker, brought his opponents to a sense of the
danger of a weapon always at hand; and henceforth the sword was

These points gained, the autocrat laid down rules for the employment of
the visitors' time, and these, from setting the fashion to some, soon
became a law to all. The first thing to be done was, sensibly enough,
the _ostensible_ object of their residence in Bath, the use of the
baths. At an early hour four lusty chairmen waited on every lady to
carry her, wrapped in flannels, in

    'A little black box, just the size of a coffin,'

to one of the five baths. Here, on entering, an attendant placed beside
her a floating tray, on which were set her handkerchief, bouquet, and
_snuff-box_, for our great-great-grandmothers _did_ take snuff; and here
she found her friends in the same bath of naturally hot water. It was,
of course, a réunion for society on the plea of health; but the early
hours and exercise secured the latter, whatever the baths may have done.
A walk in the Pump-room, to the music of a tolerable band, was the next
measure; and there, of course, the gentlemen mingled with the ladies. A
coffee-house was ready to receive those of either sex; for that was a
time when madame and miss lived a great deal in public, and English
people were not ashamed of eating their breakfast in public company.
These breakfasts were often enlivened by concerts paid for by the rich
and enjoyed by all.

Supposing the peacocks now to be dressed out and to have their tails
spread to the best advantage, we next find some in the public
promenades, others in the reading-rooms, the ladies having their clubs
as well as the men; others riding; others, perchance, already gambling.
Mankind and womankind then dined at a reasonable hour, and the evening's
amusements began early. Nash insisted on this, knowing the value of
health to those, and they were many at that time, who sought Bath on its
account. The balls began at six, and took place every Tuesday and
Friday, private balls filling up the vacant nights. About the
commencement of his reign, a theatre was built, and whatever it may have
been, it afterwards became celebrated as the nursery of the London
stage, and now, _O tempo passato!_ is almost abandoned. It is needless
to add that the gaming-tables were thronged in the evenings.

It was at them that Nash made the money which sufficed to keep up his
state, which was vulgarly regal. He drove about in a chariot, flaming
with heraldry, and drawn by six grays, with outriders, running footmen,
and all the appendages which made an impression on the vulgar minds of
the visitors of his kingdom. His dress was magnificent; his gold lace
unlimited, his coats ever new; his hat alone was always of the same
colour--_white_; and as the emperor Alexander was distinguished by his
purple tunic and Brummell by his bow, Emperor Nash was known all England
over by his white hat.

It is due to the King of Bath to say that, however much he gained, he
always played fair. He even patronized young players, and after fleecing
them, kindly advised them to play no more. When he found a man fixed
upon ruining himself, he did his best to keep him from that suicidal
act. This was the case with a young Oxonian, to whom he had lost money,
and whom he invited to supper, in order to give him his parental advice.
The fool would not take the Beau's counsel and 'came to grief.' Even
noblemen sought his protection. The Duke of Beaufort entered on a
compact with him to save his purse, if not his soul. He agreed to pay
Nash ten thousand guineas, whenever he lost the same amount at a
sitting. It was a comfortable treaty for our Beau, who accordingly
watched his grace. Yet it must be said, to Nash's honour, that he once
saved him from losing eleven thousand, when he had already lost eight,
by reminding him of his compact. Such was play in those days! It is said
that the duke had afterwards to pay the fine, from losing the stipulated
sum at Newmarket.

He displayed as much honesty with the young Lord Townshend, who lost him
his whole fortune, his estate, and even his carriage and horses--what
madmen are gamblers!--and actually cancelled the whole debt, on
condition my lord should pay him £5000 whenever he chose to claim it. To
Nash's honour it must be said that he never came down upon the nobleman
during his life. He claimed the sum from his executors, who paid
it.--'Honourable to both parties.'

But an end was put to the gaming at Bath and everywhere else--_except in
a royal palace_, and Nash swore that, as he was a king, Bath came under
the head of the exceptions--by an Act of Parliament. Of course Nash and
the sharpers who frequented Bath--and their name was Legion--found means
to evade this law for a time, by the invention of new games. But this
could not last, and the Beau's fortune went with the death of the dice.

Still, however, the very prohibition increased the zest for play for a
time, and Nash soon discovered that a private table was more comfortable
than a public one. He entered into an arrangement with an old woman at
Bath, in virtue of which he was to receive a fourth share of the
profits. This was probably not the only 'hell'-keeping transaction of
his life, and he had once before quashed an action against a cheat in
consideration of a handsome bonus; and, in fact, there is no saying what
amount of dirty work Nash would not have done for a hundred or so,
especially when the game of the table was shut up to him. The man was
immensely fond of money; he liked to show his gold-laced coat and superb
new waistcoat in the Grove, the Abbey Ground, and Bond Street, and to be
known as Le Grand Nash. But, on the other hand, he did not love money
for itself, and never hoarded it. It is, indeed, something to Nash's
honour, that he died poor. He delighted, in the poverty of his mind, to
display his great thick-set person to the most advantage; he was as vain
as any fop, without the affectation of that character, for he was
always blunt and free-spoken, but, as long as he had enough to satisfy
his vanity, he cared nothing for mere wealth. He had generosity, though
he neglected the precept about the right hand and the left, and showed
some ostentation in his charities. When a poor ruined fellow at his
elbow saw him win at a throw £200, and murmured 'How happy that would
make me!' Nash tossed the money to him, and said, 'Go and be happy
then.' Probably the witless beau did not see the delicate satire implied
in his speech. It was only the triumph of a gamester. On other occasions
he collected subscriptions for poor curates, and so forth, in the same
spirit, and did his best towards founding an hospital, which has since
proved of great value to those afflicted with rheumatic gout. In the
same spirit, though himself a gamester, he often attempted to win young
and inexperienced boys, who came to toss away their money at the rooms,
from seeking their own ruin; and, on the whole, there was some goodness
of heart in this gold-laced bear.

That he was a bear there are anecdotes enough to show, and whether true
or not, they sufficiently prove what the reputation of the man must have
been. Thus, when a lady, afflicted with a curvature of the spine, told
him that 'She had come _straight_ from London that day,' Nash replied
with utter heartlessness, 'Then, ma'am, you've been damnably warpt on
the road.' The lady had her revenge, however, for meeting the beau one
day in the Grove, as she toddled along with her dog, and being
impudently asked by him if she knew the name of Tobit's dog, she
answered quickly, 'Yes, sir, his name was Nash, and a most impudent dog
he was too.'

It is due to Nash to state that he made many attempts to put an end to
the perpetual system of scandal, which from some hidden cause seems
always to be connected with mineral springs; but as he did not banish
the old maids, of course he failed. Of the young ladies and their
reputation he took a kind of paternal care, and in that day they seem to
have needed it, for even at nineteen, those who had any money to lose,
staked it at the tables with as much gusto as the wrinkled, puckered,
greedy-eyed 'single woman,' of a certain or uncertain age. Nash
protected and cautioned them, and even gave them the advantage of his
own unlimited experience. Witness, for instance, the care he took of
'Miss Sylvia,' a lovely heiress who brought her face and her fortune to
enslave some and enrich others of the loungers of Bath. She had a
terrible love of hazard, and very little prudence, so that Nash's good
offices were much needed in the case. The young lady soon became the
standing toast at all the clubs and suppers, and lovers of her, or her
ducats, crowded round her; but though at that time she might have made a
brilliant match, she chose, as young women will do, to fix her
affections upon one of the worst men in Bath, who, naturally enough, did
not return them. When this individual, as a climax to his misadventures,
was clapt into prison, the devoted young creature gave the greater part
of her fortune in order to pay off his debts, and falling into disrepute
from this act of generosity, which was, of course, interpreted after a
worldly fashion, she seems to have lost her honour with her fame, and
the fair Sylvia took a position which could not be creditable to her. At
last the poor girl, weary of slights, and overcome with shame, took her
silk sash and hanged herself. The terrible event made a nine
hours'--_not_ nine days'--sensation in Bath, which was too busy with
mains and aces to care about the fate of one who had long sunk out of
its circles.

When Nash reached the zenith of his power, the adulation he received was
somewhat of a parody on the flattery of courtiers. True, he had his
bards from Grub Street who sang his praises, and he had letters to show
from Sarah of Marlborough and others of that calibre, but his chief
worshippers were cooks, musicians, and even imprisoned highwaymen--one
of whom disclosed the secrets of the craft to him--who wrote him
dedications, letters, poems, and what not. The good city of Bath set up
his statue, and did Newton and Pope[20] the great honour of playing
'supporters' to him, which elicited from Chesterfield some well-known

    'This statue placed the busts between
       Adds to the satire strength;
     Wisdom and Wit are little seen,
       But Folly at full length.'

Meanwhile his private character was none of the best. He had in early
life had one attachment, besides that unfortunate affair for which his
friends had removed him from Oxford, and in that had behaved with great
magnanimity. The young lady had honestly told him that he had a rival;
the Beau sent for him, settled on her a fortune equal to that her father
intended for her, and himself presented her to the favoured suitor. Now,
however, he seems to have given up all thoughts of matrimony, and gave
himself up to mistresses, who cared more for his gold than for himself.
It was an awkward conclusion to Nash's generous act in that one case,
that before a year had passed, the bride ran away with her husband's
footman; yet, though it disgusted him with ladies, it does not seem to
have cured him of his attachment to the sex in general.

In the height of his glory Nash was never ashamed of receiving
adulation. He was as fond of flattery as Le Grand Monarque--and he paid
for it too--whether it came from a prince or a chair-man. Every day
brought him some fresh meed of praise in prose or verse, and Nash was
always delighted.

But his sun was to set in time. His fortune went when gaming was put
down, for he had no other means of subsistence. Yet he lived on: he had
not the good sense to die; and he reached the patriarchal age of
eighty-seven. In his old age he was not only garrulous, but bragging: he
told stories of his exploits, in which he, Mr. Richard Nash, came out as
the first swordsman, swimmer, leaper, and what not. But by this time
people began to doubt Mr. Richard Nash's long-bow, and the yarns he spun
were listened to with impatience. He grew rude and testy in his old age;
suspected Quin, the actor, who was living at Bath, of an intention to
supplant him; made coarse, impertinent repartees to the visitors at that
city, and in general raised up a dislike to himself. Yet, as other
monarchs have had their eulogists in sober mind, Nash had his in one of
the most depraved; and Anstey, the low-minded author of 'The New Bath
Guide,' panegyrized him a short time after his death in the following

    'Yet here no confusion--no tumult is known;
     Fair order and beauty establish their throne;
     For order, and beauty, and just regulation,
     Support all the works of this ample creation.
     For this, in compassion to mortals below,
     The gods, their peculiar favour to show,
     Sent Hermes to Bath in the shape of a beau:
     That grandson of Atlas came down from above
     To bless all the regions of pleasure and love;
     To lead the fair nymph thro' the various maze,
     Bright beauty to marshal, his glory and praise;
     To govern, improve, and adorn the gay scene,
     By the Graces instructed, and Cyprian queen:
     As when in a garden delightful and gay,
     Where Flora is wont all her charms to display,
     The sweet hyacinthus with pleasure we view,
     Contend with narcissus in delicate hue;
     The gard'ner, industrious, trims out his border,
     Puts each odoriferous plant in its order;
     The myrtle he ranges, the rose and the lily,
     With iris, and crocus, and daffa-down-dilly;
     Sweet peas and sweet oranges all he disposes,
     At once to regale both your eyes and your noses.
     Long reign'd the great Nash, this omnipotent lord,
     Respected by youth, and by parents ador'd;
     For him not enough at a ball to preside,
     The unwary and beautiful nymph would he guide;
     Oft tell her a tale, how the credulous maid
     By man, by perfidious man, is betrayed:
     Taught Charity's hand to relieve the distrest,
     While tears have his tender compassion exprest;
     But alas! he is gone, and the city can tell
     How in years and in glory lamented he fell.
     Him mourn'd all the Dryads on Claverton's mount;
     Him Avon deplor'd, him the nymph of the fount,
     The crystalline streams.
     Then perish his picture--his statue decay--
     A tribute more lasting the Muses shall pay.
     If true, what philosophers all will assure us,
     Who dissent from the doctrine of great Epicurus,
     That the spirit's immortal (as poets allow):
     In reward of his labours, his virtue and pains,
     He is footing it now in the Elysian plains,
     Indulged, as a token of Proserpine's favour,
     To preside at her balls in a cream-colour'd beaver.
     Then peace to his ashes--our grief be supprest,
     Since we find such a phoenix has sprung from his nest;
     Kind heaven has sent us another professor,
     Who follows the steps of his great predecessor.'

The end of the Bath Beau was somewhat less tragical than that of his
London successor--Brummell. Nash, in his old age and poverty, hung about
the clubs and supper-tables, button-holed youngsters, who thought him a
bore, spun his long yarns, and tried to insist on obsolete fashions,
when near the end of his life's century.

The clergy took more care of him than the youngsters. They heard that
Nash was an octogenarian, and likely to die in his sins, and resolved to
do their best to shrive him. Worthy and well-meaning men accordingly
wrote him long letters, in which there was a deal of warning, and there
was nothing which Nash dreaded so much. As long as there was immediate
fear of death, he was pious and humble; the moment the fear had passed,
he was jovial and indifferent again. His especial delight, to the last,
seems to have been swearing against the doctors, whom he treated like
the individual in Anstey's 'Bath Guide,' shying their medicines out of
window upon their own heads. But the wary old Beckoner called him in, in
due time, with his broken, empty-chested voice; and Nash was forced to
obey. Death claimed him--and much good it got of him--in 1761, at the
age of eighty-seven: there are few beaux who lived so long.

Thus ended a life, of which the moral lay, so to speak, out of it. The
worthies of Bath were true to the worship of Folly, whom Anstey so well,
though indelicately, describes as there conceiving Fashion; and though
Nash, old, slovenly, disrespected, had long ceased to be either beau or
monarch, treated his huge unlovely corpse with the honour due to the
great--or little. His funeral was as glorious as that of any hero, and
far more showy, though much less solemn, than the burial of Sir John
Moore. Perhaps for a bit of prose flummery, by way of contrast to
Wolfe's lines on the latter event, there is little to equal the account
in a contemporary paper:--'Sorrow sate upon every face, and even
children lisped that their sovereign was no more. The awfulness of the
solemnity made the deepest impression on the minds of the distressed
inhabitants. The peasant discontinued his toil, the ox rested from the
plough, all nature seemed to sympathise with their loss, and the muffled
bells rung a peal of bob-major.'

The Beau left little behind him, and that little not worth much, even
including his renown. Most of the presents which fools or flatterers had
made him, had long since been sent _chèz ma tante_; a few trinkets and
pictures, and a few books, which probably he had never read, constituted
his little store.[21]

Bath and Tunbridge--for he had annexed that lesser kingdom to his
own--had reason to mourn him, for he had almost made them what they
were; but the country has not much cause to thank the upholder of
gaming, the institutor of silly fashion, and the high-priest of folly.
Yet Nash was free from many vices we should expect to find in such a
man. He did not drink, for instance; one glass of wine, and a moderate
quantity of small beer, being his allowance for dinner. He was early in
his hours, and made others sensible in theirs. He was generous and
charitable when he had the money; and when he had not he took care to
make his subjects subscribe it. In a word, there have been worse men and
greater fools; and we may again ask whether those who obeyed and
flattered him were not more contemptible than Beau Nash himself.

So much for the powers of impudence and a fine coat!


[Footnote 19: Warner ('History of Bath,' p. 366), says, 'Nash was
removed from Oxford by his friends.']

[Footnote 20: A full-length statue of Nash was placed between busts of
Newton and Pope.]

[Footnote 21: In the 'Annual Register,' (vol. v. p. 37), it is stated
that a pension of ten guineas a month was paid to Nash during the latter
years of his life by the Corporation of Bath.]


  Wharton's Ancestors.--His Early Years.--Marriage at
      Sixteen.--Wharton takes leave of his Tutor.--The Young Marquis
      and the Old Pretender.--Frolics at Paris.--Zeal for the Orange
      Cause.--A Jacobite Hero.--The Trial of Atterbury.--Wharton's
      Defence of the Bishop.--Hypocritical Signs of Penitence.--Sir
      Robert Walpole duped.--Very Trying.--The Duke of Wharton's
      'Whens.'--Military Glory at Gibraltar.--'Uncle
      Horace.'--Wharton to 'Uncle Horace.'--The Duke's
      Impudence.--High Treason.--Wharton's Ready Wit.--Last
      Extremities.--Sad Days in Paris.--His Last Journey to
      Spain.--His Death in a Bernardine Convent.

If an illustration were wanted of that character unstable as water which
shall not excel, this duke would at once supply it: if we had to warn
genius against self-indulgence--some clever boy against
extravagance--some poet against the bottle--this is the 'shocking
example' we should select: if we wished to show how the most splendid
talents, the greatest wealth, the most careful education, the most
unusual advantages, may all prove useless to a man who is too vain or
too frivolous to use them properly, it is enough to cite that nobleman,
whose acts gained for him the name of the _infamous_ Duke of Wharton.
Never was character more mercurial, or life more unsettled than his;
never, perhaps, were more changes crowded into a fewer number of years,
more fame and infamy gathered into so short a space. Suffice it to say
that when Pope wanted a man to hold up to the scorn of the world, as a
sample of wasted abilities, it was Wharton that he chose, and his lines
rise in grandeur in proportion to the vileness of the theme:

    'Wharton, the scorn and wonder of our days,
     Whose ruling passion was a love of praise.
     Born with whate'er could win it from the wise,
     Women and fools must like him or he dies;
     Though raptured senates hung on all he spoke,
     The club must hail him master of the joke.
     Shall parts so various aim at nothing new?
     He'll shine a Tully and a Wilmot too.

           *       *       *       *       *

     Thus with each gift of nature and of art,
     And wanting nothing but an honest heart;
     Grown all to all, from no one vice exempt,
     And most contemptible, to shun contempt;
     His passion still, to covet general praise,
     His life to forfeit it a thousand ways;
     A constant bounty which no friend has made;
     An angel tongue which no man can persuade;
     A fool with more of wit than all mankind;
     Too rash for thought, for action too refined.'

And then those memorable lines--

    'A tyrant to the wife his heart approved,
     A rebel to the very king he loved;
     He dies, sad outcast of each church and state;
     And, harder still! flagitious, yet not great.'

Though it may be doubted if the 'lust of praise' was the cause of his
eccentricities, so much as an utter restlessness and instability of
character, Pope's description is sufficiently correct, and will prepare
us for one of the most disappointing lives we could well have to read.

Philip, Duke of Wharton, was one of those men of whom an Irishman would
say, that they were fortunate before they were born. His ancestors
bequeathed him a name that stood high in England for bravery and
excellence. The first of the house, Sir Thomas Wharton, had won his
peerage from Henry VIII. for routing some 15,000 Scots with 500 men, and
other gallant deeds. From his father the marquis he inherited much of
his talents; but for the heroism of the former, he seems to have
received it only in the extravagant form of foolhardiness. Walpole
remembered, but could not tell where, a ballad he wrote on being
arrested by the guard in St. James's Park, for singing the Jacobite
song, 'The King shall have his own again,' and quotes two lines to show
that he was not ashamed of his own cowardice on the occasion:--

    'The duke he drew out half his sword,
     ---- the guard drew out the rest.'

At the siege of Gibraltar, where he took up arms against his own king
and country, he is said to have gone alone one night to the very walls
of the town, and challenged the outpost. They asked him who he was, and
when he replied, openly enough, 'The Duke of Wharton,' they actually
allowed him to return without either firing on or capturing him. The
story seems somewhat apocryphal, but it is quite possible that the
English soldiers may have refrained from violence to a well-known
mad-cap nobleman of their own nation.

Philip, son of the Marquis of Wharton, at that time only a baron, was
born in the last year but one of the seventeenth century, and came into
the world endowed with every quality which might have made a great man,
if he had only added wisdom to them. His father wished to make him a
brilliant statesman, and, to have a better chance of doing so, kept him
at home, and had him educated under his own eye. He seems to have easily
and rapidly acquired a knowledge of classical languages; and his memory
was so good that when a boy of thirteen he could repeat the greater part
of the 'Æneid' and of Horace by heart. His father's keen perception did
not allow him to stop at classics; and he wisely prepared him for the
career to which he was destined by the study of history, ancient and
modern, and of English literature, and by teaching him, even at that
early age, the art of thinking and writing on any given subject, by
proposing themes for essays. There is certainly no surer mode of
developing the reflective and reasoning powers of the mind; and the boy
progressed with a rapidity which was almost alarming. Oratory, too, was
of course cultivated, and to this end the young nobleman was made to
recite before a small audience passages from Shakspeare, and even
speeches which had been delivered in the House of Lords, and we may be
certain he showed no bashfulness in this display.

He was precocious beyond measure, and at sixteen was a man. His first
act of folly--or, perhaps, _he_ thought, of manhood--came off at this
early age. He fell in love with the daughter of a Major-General Holmes;
and though there is nothing extraordinary in that, for nine-tenths of us
have been love-mad at as early an age, he did what fortunately very few
do in a first love affair, he married the adored one. Early marriages
are often extolled, and justly enough, as safeguards against profligate
habits, but this one seems to have had the contrary effect on young
Philip. His wife was in every sense too good for him: he was madly in
love with her at first, but soon shamefully and openly faithless. Pope's

    'A tyrant to the wife his heart approved,'

requires explanation here. It is said that she did not present her
boy-husband with a son for three years after their marriage, and on this
child he set great value and great hopes. About that time he left his
wife in the country, intending to amuse himself in town, and ordered her
to remain behind with the child. The poor deserted woman well knew what
was the real object of this journey, and could not endure the
separation. In the hope of keeping her young husband out of harm, and
none the less because she loved him very tenderly, she followed him soon
after, taking the little Marquis of Malmsbury, as the young live branch
was called, with her. The duke was, of course, disgusted, but his anger
was turned into hatred, when the child, which he had hoped to make his
heir and successor, caught in town the small-pox, and died in infancy.
He was furious with his wife, refused to see her for a long time, and
treated her with unrelenting coldness.

The early marriage was much to the distaste of Philip's father, who had
been lately made a marquis, and who hoped to arrange a very grand
'alliance' for his petted son. He was, in fact, so much grieved by it,
that he was fool enough to die of it in 1715, and the marchioness
survived him only about a year, being no less disgusted with the
licentiousness which she already discovered in her Young Hopeful.

She did what she could to set him right, and the young married man was
shipped off with a tutor, a French Huguenot, who was to take him to
Geneva to be educated as a Protestant and a Whig. The young scamp
declined to be either. He was taken, by way of seeing the world, to the
petty courts of Germany, and of course to that of Hanover, which had
kindly sent us the worst family that ever disgraced the English throne,
and by the various princes and grand-dukes received with all the honours
due to a young British nobleman.

The tutor and his charge settled at last at Geneva, and my young lord
amused himself with tormenting his strict guardian. Walpole tells us
that he once roused him out of bed only to borrow a pin. There is no
doubt that he led the worthy man a sad life of it; and to put a climax
to his conduct, ran away from him at last, leaving with him, by way of
hostage, a young bear-cub--probably quite as tame as himself--which he
had picked up somewhere, and grown very fond of--birds of a feather,
seemingly--with a message, which showed more wit than good-nature, to
this effect:--'Being no longer able to bear with your ill-usage, I think
proper to be gone from you; however, that you may not want company, I
have left you the bear, as the most suitable companion in the world that
could be picked out for you.'

The tutor had to console himself with a _tu quoque_, for the young
scapegrace had found his way to Lyons in October, 1716, and then did the
very thing his father's son should not have done. The Chevalier de St.
George, the Old Pretender, James III., or by whatever other _alias_ you
prefer to call him, having failed in his attempt 'to have his own again'
in the preceding year, was then holding high court in high dudgeon at
Avignon. Any adherent would, of course, be welcomed with open arms; and
when the young marquis wrote to him to offer his allegiance, sending
with his letter a fine entire horse as a peace offering, he was warmly
responded to. A person of rank was at once despatched to bring the youth
to the ex-regal court; he was welcomed with much enthusiasm, and the
empty title of Duke of Northumberland at once, most kindly, conferred on
him. However, the young marquis does not seem to have _goûté_ the
exile's court, for he stayed there one day only, and returning to Lyons,
set off to enjoy himself at Paris. With much wit, no prudence, and a
plentiful supply of money, which he threw about with the recklessness of
a boy just escaped from his tutor, he could not fail to succeed in that
capital; and, accordingly, the English received him with open arms. Even
the ambassador, Lord Stair, though he had heard rumours of his wild
doings, invited him repeatedly to dinner, and did his best, by advice
and warning, to keep him out of harm's way. Young Philip had a horror of
preceptors, paid or gratuitous, and treated the plenipotentiary with the
same coolness as he had served the Huguenot tutor. When the former,
praising the late marquis, expressed--by way of a slight hint--a hope
'that he would follow so illustrious an example of fidelity to his
prince, and affection to his country, by treading in the same steps,'
the young scamp replied, cleverly enough, 'That he thanked his
excellency for his good advice, and as his excellency had also a worthy
and deserving father, he hoped he would likewise copy so bright an
example, and tread in all his steps;' the pertness of which was
pertinent enough, for old Lord Stair had taken a disgraceful part
against his sovereign in the massacre of Glencoe.

His frolics at Paris were of the most reckless character for a young
nobleman. At the ambassador's own table he would occasionally send a
servant to some one of the guests, to ask him to join in the Old
Chevalier's health, though it was almost treason at that time to mention
his name even. And again, when the windows at the embassy had been
broken by a young English Jacobite, who was forthwith committed to Fort
l'Evêque, the hare-brained marquis proposed, out of revenge, to break
them a second time, and only abandoned the project because he could get
no one to join him in it. Lord Stair, however, had too much sense to be
offended at the follies of a boy of seventeen, even though that boy was
the representative of a great English family; he, probably, thought it
would be better to recall him to his allegiance by kindness and advice,
than, by resenting his behaviour, to drive him irrevocably to the
opposite party; but he was doubtless considerably relieved when, after
leading a wild life in the capital of France, spending his money
lavishly, and doing precisely everything which a young English nobleman
ought not to do, my lord marquis took his departure in December, 1716.

The political education he had received now made the unstable youth
ready and anxious to shine in the State; but being yet under age, he
could not, of course, take his seat in the House of Lords. Perhaps he
was conscious of his own wonderful abilities; perhaps, as Pope declares,
he was thirsting for praise, and wished to display them; certainly he
was itching to become an orator, and as he could not sit in an English
Parliament, he remembered that he had a peerage in Ireland, as Earl of
Rathfernhame and Marquis of Catherlogh, and off he set to see if the
Milesians would stand upon somewhat less ceremony. He was not
disappointed there. 'His brilliant parts,' we are told by contemporary
writers, but rather, we should think, his reputation for wit and
eccentricity, 'found favour in the eyes of Hibernian quicksilvers, and
in spite of his years, he was admitted to the Irish House of Lords.'

When a friend had reproached him, before he left France, with infidelity
to the principles so long espoused by his family, he is reported to have
replied, characteristically enough, that 'he had pawned his principles
to Gordon, the Chevalier's banker, for a considerable sum, and, till he
could repay him, he must be a Jacobite; but when that was done, he would
again return to the Whigs.' It is as likely as not that he borrowed from
Gordon on the strength of the Chevalier's favour, for though a marquis
in his own right, he was even at this period always in want of cash; and
on the other hand, the speech, exhibiting the grossest want of any sense
of honour, is in thorough keeping with his after-life. But whether he
paid Gordon on his return to England--which is highly improbable--or
whether he had not honour enough to keep his compact--which is extremely
likely--there is no doubt that my lord marquis began, at this period, to
qualify himself for the post of parish-weathercock to St. Stephens.

His early defection to a man who, whether rightful heir or not, had that
of romance in his history which is even now sufficient to make our young
ladies 'thorough Jacobites' at heart, was easily to be excused, on the
plea of youth and high spirit. The same excuse does not explain his
rapid return to Whiggery--in which there is no romance at all--the
moment he took his seat in the Irish House of Lords. There is only one
way to explain the zeal with which he now advocated the Orange cause:
he must have been either a very designing knave, or a very unprincipled
fool. As he gained nothing by the change but a dukedom for which he did
not care, and as he cared for little else that the government could give
him, we may acquit him of any very deep motives. On the other hand, his
life and some of his letters show that, with a vast amount of bravado,
he was sufficiently a coward. When supplicated, he was always obstinate;
when neglected, always supplicant. Now it required some courage in those
days to be a Jacobite. Perhaps he cared for nothing but to astonish and
disgust everybody with the facility with which he could turn his coat,
as a hippodromist does with the ease with which he changes his costume.
He was a boy and a peer, and he would make pretty play of his position.
He had considerable talents, and now, as he sat in the Irish House,
devoted them entirely to the support of the government.

For the next four years he was employed, on the one hand in political,
on the other in profligate, life. He shone in both; and was no less
admired, by the wits of those days, for his speeches, his arguments, and
his zeal, than for the utter disregard of public decency he displayed in
his vices. Such a promising youth, adhering to the government, merited
some mark of its esteem, and accordingly, before attaining the age of
twenty-one, he was raised to a dukedom. Being of age, he took his seat
in the English House of Lords, and had not been long there before he
again turned coat, and came out in the light of a Jacobite hero. It was
now that he gathered most of his laurels.

The Hanoverian monarch had been on the English throne some six years.
Had the Chevalier's attempt occurred at this period, it may be doubted
if it would not have been successful. The 'Old Pretender' came too soon,
the 'Young Pretender' too late. At the period of the first attempt, the
public had had no time to contrast Stuarts and Guelphs: at that of the
second, they had forgotten the one and grown accustomed to the other;
but at the moment when our young duke appeared on the boards of the
senate, the vices of the Hanoverians were beginning to draw down on them
the contempt of the educated and the ridicule of the vulgar; and
perhaps no moment could have been more favourable for advocating a
restoration of the Stuarts. If Wharton had had as much energy and
consistency as he had talent and impudence, he might have done much
towards that desirable, or undesirable end.

The grand question at this time before the House was the trial of
Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester, demanded by Sir Robert Walpole. The man
had a spirit almost as restless as his defender. The son of a man who
might have been the original of the Vicar of Bray, he was very little of
a poet, less of a priest, but a great deal of a politician. He was born
in 1662, so that at this time he must have been nearly sixty years old.
He had had by no means a hard life of it, for family interest, together
with eminent talents, procured him one appointment after another, till
he reached the bench at the age of fifty-one, in the reign of Anne. He
had already distinguished himself in several ways, most, perhaps, by
controversies with Hoadly, and by sundry high-church motions. But after
his elevation, he displayed his principles more boldly, refused to sign
the Declaration of the Bishops, which was somewhat servilely made to
assure George the First of the fidelity of the Established Church,
suspended the curate of Gravesend for three years because he allowed the
Dutch to have a service performed in his church, and even, it is said,
on the death of Anne, offered to proclaim King James III., and head a
procession himself in his lawn sleeves. The end of this and other
vagaries was, that in 1722, the Government sent him to the Tower, on
suspicion of being connected with a plot in favour of the Old Chevalier.
The case excited no little attention, for it was long since a bishop had
been charged with high treason; it was added that his gaolers used him
rudely; and, in short, public sympathy rather went along with him for a
time. In March, 1723, a bill was presented to the Commons, for
'inflicting certain pains and penalties' on Francis, Lord Bishop of
Rochester, and it passed that House in April; but when carried up to the
Lords, a defence was resolved on. The bill was read a third time on May
15th, and on that occasion the Duke of Wharton, then only twenty-four
years old, rose and delivered a speech in favour of the bishop. This
oration far more resembled that of a lawyer summing up the evidence than
of a parliamentary orator enlarging on the general issue. It was
remarkable for the clearness of its argument, the wonderful memory of
facts it displayed, and the ease and rapidity with which it annihilated
the testimony of various witnesses examined before the House. It was
mild and moderate, able and sufficient, but seems to have lacked all the
enthusiasm we might expect from one who was afterwards so active a
partisan of the Chevalier's cause. In short, striking as it was, it
cannot be said to give the duke any claim to the title of a great
orator; it would rather prove that he might have made a first-rate
lawyer. It shows, however, that had he chosen to apply himself
diligently to politics, he might have turned out a great leader of the

Neither this speech nor the bishop's able defence saved him; and in the
following month he was banished the kingdom, and passed the rest of his
days in Paris.

Wharton, however, was not content with the House as an arena of
political agitation. He was now old enough to have matured his
principles thoroughly, and he completely espoused the cause of the
exiled family. He amused himself with agitating throughout the country,
influencing elections, and seeking popularity by becoming a member of
the Wax-chandlers' Company. It is a proof of his great abilities, so
shamefully thrown away, that he now, during the course of eight months,
issued a paper, called 'The True Briton,' every Monday and Friday,
written by himself, and containing varied and sensible arguments in
support of his opinions, if not displaying any vast amount of original
genius. This paper, on the model of 'The Tatler,' 'The Spectator,' &c.,
had a considerable sale, and attained no little celebrity, so that the
Duke of Wharton acquired the reputation of a literary man as well as of
a political leader.

But, whatever he might have been in either capacity, his disgraceful
life soon destroyed all hope of success in them. He was now an
acknowledged wit about town, and what was then almost a recognized
concomitant of that character, an acknowledged profligate. He scattered
his large fortune in the most reckless and foolish manner: though
married, his moral conduct was as bad as that of any bachelor of the
day: and such was his extravagance and open licentiousness, that, having
wasted a princely revenue, he was soon caught in the meshes of Chancery,
which very sensibly vested his fortune in the hands of trustees, and
compelled him to be satisfied with an income of twelve hundred pounds a

The young rascal now showed hypocritical signs of penitence--he was
always an adept in that line--and protested he would go abroad and live
quietly, till his losses should be retrieved. There is little doubt
that, under this laudable design, he concealed one of attaching himself
closer to the Chevalier party, and even espousing the faith of that
unfortunate prince, or pretender, whichever he may have been. He set off
for Vienna, leaving his wife behind to die, in April, 1726. He had long
since quarrelled with her, and treated her with cruel neglect, and at
her death he was not likely to be much afflicted. It is said, that,
after that event, a ducal family offered him a daughter and large
fortune in marriage, and that the Duke of Wharton declined the offer,
because the latter was to be tied up, and he could not conveniently tie
up the former. However this may be, he remained a widower for a short
time: we may be sure, not long.

The hypocrisy of going abroad to retrench was not long undiscovered. The
fascinating scapegrace seems to have delighted in playing on the
credulity of others; and Walpole relates that, on the eve of the day on
which he delivered his famous speech for Atterbury, he sought an
interview with the minister, Sir Robert Walpole, expressed great
contrition at having espoused the bishop's cause hitherto, and a
determination to speak against him the following day. The minister was
taken in, and at the duke's request, supplied him with all the main
arguments, pro and con. The deceiver, having got these well into his
brain--one of the most retentive--repaired to his London haunts, passed
the night in drinking, and the next day produced all the arguments he
had digested, _in the bishop's favour_.

At Vienna he was well received, and carried out his private mission
successfully, but was too restless to stay in one place, and soon set
off for Madrid. Tired now of politics, he took a turn at love. He was a
poet after a fashion, for the pieces he has left are not very good: he
was a fine gentleman, always spending more money than he had, and is
said to have been handsome. His portraits do not give us this
impression: the features are not very regular; and though not coarse,
are certainly _not_ refined. The mouth, somewhat sensual, is still much
firmer than his character would lead us to expect; the nose sharp at the
point, but cogitative at the nostrils; the eyes long but not large;
while the raised brow has all that openness which he displayed in the
indecency of his vices, but not in any honesty in his political career.
In a word, the face is not attractive. Yet he is described as having had
a brilliant complexion, a lively, varying expression, and a charm of
person and manner that was quite irresistible. Whether on this account,
or for his talents and wit, which were really shining, his new Juliet
fell as deeply in love with him as he with her.

She was maid of honour--and a highly honourable maid--to the Queen of
Spain. The Irish regiments long employed in the Spanish service had
become more or less naturalized in that country, which accounts for the
great number of thoroughly Milesian names still to be found there, some
of them, as O'Donnell, owned by men of high distinction. Among other
officers who had settled with their families in the Peninsula was a
Colonel O'Byrne, who, like most of his countrymen there, died penniless,
leaving his widow with a pension and his daughter without a sixpence. It
can well be imagined that an offer from an English duke was not to be
sneezed at by either Mrs. or Miss O'Byrne; but there were some grave
obstacles to the match. The duke was a Protestant. But what of that?--he
had never been encumbered with religion, nor even with a decent
observance of its institutions, for it is said that, when in England, at
his country seat, he had, to show how little he cared for
respectability, made a point of having the hounds out on a Sunday
morning. He was not going to lose a pretty girl for the sake of a faith
with which he had got disgusted ever since his Huguenot tutor tried to
make him a sober Christian. He had turned coat in politics, and would
now try his weathercock capabilities at religion. Nothing like variety,
so Romanist he became.

But this was not all: his friends on the one hand objected to his
marrying a penniless girl, and hers, on the other, warned her of his
disreputable character. But when two people have made up their minds to
be one, such trifles as these are of no consequence. A far more trying
obstacle was the absolute refusal of her Most Catholic Majesty to allow
her maid of honour to marry the duke.

It is a marvel that after the life of dissipation he had led, this man
should have retained the power of loving at all. But everything about
him was extravagant, and now that he entertained a virtuous attachment,
he was as wild in it as he had been reckless in less respectable
connections. He must have been sincere at the time, for the queen's
refusal was followed by a fit of depression that brought on a low fever.
The queen heard of it, and, touched by the force of his devotion, sent
him a cheering message. The moment was not to be lost, and, in spite of
his weak state, he hurried to court, threw himself at her Majesty's
feet, and swore he must have his lady-love or die. Thus pressed, the
queen was forced to consent, but warned him that he would repent of it.
The marriage took place, and the couple set off to Rome.

Here the Chevalier again received him with open arms, and took the
opportunity of displaying his imaginary sovereignty by bestowing on him
the Order of the Garter--a politeness the duke returned by wearing while
there the no less unrecognised title of Duke of Northumberland, which
'His Majesty' had formerly conferred on him. But James III., though no
saint, had more respect for decent conduct than his father and uncle;
the duke ran off into every species of excess, got into debt as usual--

    'When Wharton's just, and learns to pay his debts,
     And reputation dwells at Mother Brett's,

           *       *       *       *       *

     Then, Celia, shall my constant passion cease,
     And my poor suff'ring heart shall be at peace,'

says a satirical poem of the day, called 'The Duke of Wharton's
_Whens_'--was faithless to the wife he had lately been dying for; and
in short, such a thorough blackguard, that not even the Jacobites could
tolerate him, and they turned him out of the Holy City till he should
learn not to bring dishonour on the court of their fictitious sovereign.

The duke was not the man to be much ashamed of himself, though his poor
wife may now have begun to think her late mistress in the right, and he
was probably glad of an excuse for another change. At this time, 1727,
the Spaniards were determined to wrest Gibraltar from its English
defenders, and were sending thither a powerful army under the command of
Los Torres. The Duke had tried many trades with more or less success,
and now thought that a little military glory would tack on well to his
highly honourable biography. At any rate there was novelty in the din of
war, and for novelty he would go anywhere. It mattered little that he
should fight against his own king and own countrymen: he was not half
blackguard enough yet, he may have thought; he had played traitor for
some time, he would now play rebel outright--the game _was_ worth the

So what does my lord duke do but write a letter (like the Chinese behind
their mud-walls, he was always bold enough when well secured under the
protection of the post, and was more absurd in ink even than in action)
to the King of Spain, offering him his services as a volunteer against
'Gib.' Whether his Most Catholic Majesty thought him a traitor, a
madman, or a devoted partisan of his own, does not appear, for without
waiting for an answer--waiting was always too dull work for Wharton--he
and his wife set off for the camp before Gibraltar, introduced
themselves to the Conde in Command, were received with all the
honour--let us say honours--due to a duke--and established themselves
comfortably in the ranks of the enemy of England. But all the duke's
hopes of prowess were blighted. He had good opportunities. The Conde de
los Torres made him his aide-de-camp, and sent him daily into the
trenches to see how matters went on. When a defence of a certain Spanish
outwork was resolved upon, the duke, from his rank, was chosen for the
command. Yet in the trenches he got no worse wound than a slight one on
the foot from a splinter of a shell, and this he afterwards made an
excuse for not fighting a duel with swords; and as to the outwork, the
English abandoned the attack, so that there was no glory to be found in
the defence. He soon grew weary of such inglorious and rather dirty work
as visiting trenches before a stronghold; and well he might; for if
there be one thing duller than another and less satisfactory, it must be
digging a hole out of which to kill your brother mortals; and thinking
he should amuse himself better at the court, he set off for Madrid. Here
the king, by way of reward for his brilliant services in doing nothing,
made him _colonel-aggregate_--whatever that may be--of an Irish
regiment; a very poor aggregate, we should think. But my lord duke
wanted something livelier than the command of a band of Hispaniolized
Milesians; and having found the military career somewhat uninteresting,
wished to return to that of politics. He remembered with gusto the
frolic life of the Holy City, and the political excitement in the
Chevalier's court, and sent off a letter to 'His Majesty James III.,'
expressing, like a rusticated Oxonian, his penitence for having been so
naughty the last time, and offering to come and be very good again. It
is to the praise of the Chevalier de St. George that he had worldly
wisdom enough not to trust the gay penitent. He was tired, as everybody
else was, of a man who could stick to nothing, and did not seem to care
about seeing him again. Accordingly, he replied in true kingly style,
blaming him for having taken up arms against their common country, and
telling him in polite language--as a policeman does a riotous
drunkard--that he had better go home. The duke thought so too, was not
at all offended at the letter, and set off, by way of returning towards
his Penates, for Paris, where he arrived in May, 1728.

Horace Walpole--not _the_ Horace--but 'Uncle Horace,' or 'old Horace,'
as he was called, was then ambassador to the court of the Tuileries. Mr.
Walpole was one of the Houghton 'lot,' a brother of the famous minister
Sir Robert, and though less celebrated, almost as able in his line. He
had distinguished himself in various diplomatic appointments, in Spain,
at Hanover and the Hague, and having successfully tackled Cardinal
Fleury, the successor of the Richelieus and Mazarins at Paris, he was
now in high favour at home. In after years he was celebrated for his
duel with Chetwynd, who, when 'Uncle Horace' had in the House expressed
a hope that the question might be carried, had exclaimed, 'I hope to see
you hanged first!' 'You hope to see me hanged first, do you?' cried
Horace, with all the ferocity of the Walpoles; and thereupon, seizing
him by the most prominent feature of his face, shook him violently. This
was matter enough for a brace of swords and coffee for four, and Mr.
Chetwynd had to repent of his remark after being severely wounded. In
those days our honourable House of Commons was as much an arena of wild
beasts as the American senate of to-day.

To this minister our noble duke wrote a hypocritical letter, which, as
it shows how the man _could_ write penitently, is worth transcribing.

    'Lions, June 28, 1728.

'Sir,--Your excellency will be surpris'd to receive a letter from me;
but the clemency with which the government of England has treated me,
which is in a great measure owing to your brother's regard to my
father's memory, makes me hope that you will give me leave to express my
gratitude for it.

'Since his present majesty's accession to the throne I have absolutely
refused to be concerned with the Pretender or any of his affairs; and
during my stay in Italy have behaved myself in a manner that Dr. Peters,
Mr. Godolphin, and Mr. Mills can declare to be consistent with my duty
to the present king. I was forc'd to go to Italy to get out of Spain,
where, if my true design had been known, I should have been treated a
little severely.

'I am coming to Paris to put myself entirely under your excellency's
protection; and hope that Sir Robert Walpole's good-nature will prompt
him to save a family which his generosity induced him to spare. If your
excellency would permit me to wait upon you for an hour, I am certain
you would be convinc'd of the sincerity of my repentance for my former
madness, would become an advocate with his majesty to grant me his most
gracious pardon, which it is my comfort I shall never be required to
purchase by any step unworthy of a man of honour. I do not intend, in
case of the king's allowing me to pass the evening of my days under the
shadow of his royal protection, to see England for some years, but shall
remain in France or Germany, as my friends shall advise, and enjoy
country sports till all former stories are buried in oblivion. I beg of
your excellency to let me receive your orders at Paris, which I will
send to your hostel to receive. The Dutchess of Wharton, who is with me,
desires leave to wait on Mrs. Walpole, if you think proper.

    'I am, &c.'

After this, the ambassador could do no less than receive him; but he was
somewhat disgusted when on leaving him the duke frankly told
him--forgetting all about his penitent letter, probably, or too reckless
to care for it--that he was going to dine with the Bishop of
Rochester--Atterbury himself, then living in Paris--whose society was
interdicted to any subject of King George. The duke, with his usual
folly, touched on other subjects equally dangerous, his visit to Rome,
and his conversion to Romanism; and, in short, disgusted the cautious
Mr. Walpole. There is something delightfully impudent about all these
acts of Wharton's; and had he only been a clown at Drury Lane instead of
an English nobleman, he must have been successful. As it is, when one
reads of the petty hatred and humbug of those days, when liberty of
speech was as unknown as any other liberty, one cannot but admire the
impudence of his Grace of Wharton, and wish that most dukes, without
being as profligate, would be as free-spoken.

With six hundred pounds in his pocket, our young Lothario now set up
house at Rouen, with an establishment 'equal,' say the old-school
writers, 'to his position, but not to his means.' In other words, he
undertook to live in a style for which he could not pay. Twelve hundred
a year may be enough for a duke, as for any other man, but not for one
who considers a legion of servants a necessary appendage to his
position. My lord duke, who was a good French scholar, soon found an
ample number of friends and acquaintances, and not being particular
about either, managed to get through his half-year's income in a few
weeks. Evil consequence: he was assailed by duns. French duns know
nothing about forgiving debtors; 'your money first, and then my pardon,'
is their motto. My lord duke soon found this out. Still he had an
income, and could pay them all off in time. So he drank and was merry,
till one fine day came a disagreeable piece of news, which startled him
considerably. The government at home had heard of his doings, and
determined to arraign him for high treason.

He could expect little else, for had he not actually taken up arms
against his sovereign?

Now Sir Robert Walpole was, no doubt, a vulgarian. He was not a man to
love or sympathise with; but he _was_ good-natured at bottom. Our
'frolic grace' had reason to acknowledge this. He could not complain of
harshness in any measures taken against him, and he had certainly no
claim to consideration from the government he had treated so ill. Yet
Sir Robert was willing to give him every chance; and so far did he go,
that he sent over a couple of friends to him to induce him only to ask
pardon of the king, with a promise that it would be granted. For sure
the Duke of Wharton's character was anomalous. The same man who had more
than once humiliated himself when unasked, who had written to Walpole's
brother the letter we have read, would not now, when entreated to do so,
write a few lines to that minister to ask mercy. Nay, when the gentleman
in question offered to be content even with a letter from the duke's
valet, he refused to allow the man to write. Some people may admire what
they will believe to be firmness, but when we review the duke's
character and subsequent acts, we cannot attribute this refusal to
anything but obstinate pride. The consequence of this folly was a
stoppage of supplies, for as he was accused of high treason, his estate
was of course sequestrated. He revenged himself by writing a paper which
was published in 'Mist's Journal,' and which, under the cover of a
Persian tale, contained a species of libel on the government.

His position was now far from enviable; and, assailed by duns, he had
no resource but to humble himself, not before those he had offended, but
before the Chevalier, to whom he wrote in his distress, and who sent him
£2,000, which he soon frittered away in follies. This gone, the duke
begged and borrowed, for there are some people such fools that they
would rather lose a thousand pounds to a peer than give sixpence to a
pauper, and many a tale was told of the artful manner in which his grace
managed to cozen his friends out of a louis or two. His ready wit
generally saved him.

Thus on one occasion an Irish toady invited him to dinner: the duke
talked of his wardrobe, then sadly defective; what suit should he wear?
The Hibernian suggested black velvet. 'Could you recommend a tailor?'
'Certainly.' Snip came, an expensive suit was ordered, put on, and the
dinner taken. In due course the tailor called for his money. The duke
was not a bit at a loss, though he had but a few francs to his name.
'Honest man,' quoth he, 'you mistake the matter entirely. Carry the bill
to Sir Peter; for know that whenever I consent to wear another man's
livery, my master pays for the clothes,' and inasmuch as the
dinner-giver was an Irishman, he did actually discharge the account.

At other times he would give a sumptuous entertainment, and in one way
or another induce his guests to pay for it. He was only less adroit in
coining excuses than Theodore Hook, and had he lived a century later, we
might have a volume full of anecdotes to give of his ways and no means.
Meanwhile his unfortunate duchess was living on the charity of friends,
while her lord and master, when he could get anyone to pay for a band,
was serenading young ladies. Yet he was jealous enough of his wife at
times, and once sent a challenge to a Scotch nobleman, simply because
some silly friend asked him if he had forbidden his wife to dance with
the lord. He went all the way to Flanders to meet his opponent; but,
perhaps fortunately for the duke, Marshal Berwick arrested the
Scotchman, and the duel never came off.

Whether he felt his end approaching, or whether he was sick of vile
pleasures which he had recklessly pursued from the age of fifteen, he
now, though only thirty years of age, retired for a time to a convent,
and was looked on as a penitent and devotee. Penury, doubtless, cured
him in a measure, and poverty, the porter of the gates of heaven, warned
him to look forward beyond a life he had so shamefully misused. But it
was only a temporary repentance; and when he left the religious house,
he again rushed furiously into every kind of dissipation.

At length, utterly reduced to the last extremities, he bethought himself
of his colonelcy in Spain, and determined to set out to join his
regiment. The following letter from a friend who accompanied him will
best show what circumstances he was in:--

                                                'Paris, June 1, 1729.

'Dear Sir,--I am just returned from the Gates of Death, to return you
Thanks for your last kind Letter of Accusations, which I am persuaded
was intended as a seasonable Help to my Recollection, at a Time that it
was necessary for me to send an Inquisitor General into my Conscience,
to examine and settle all the Abuses that ever were committed in that
little Court of Equity; but I assure you, your long Letter did not lay
so much my Faults as my Misfortunes before me, which believe me, dear
----, have fallen as heavy and as thick upon me as the Shower of Hail
upon us two in E---- Forest, and has left me much at a Loss which way to
turn myself. The Pilot of the Ship I embarked in, who industriously ran
upon every Rock, has at last split the Vessel, and so much of a sudden,
that the whole Crew, I mean his Domesticks, are all left to swim for
their Lives, without one friendly Plank to assist them to Shore. In
short, he left me sick, in Debt, and without a Penny; but as I begin to
recover, and have a little time to Think, I can't help considering
myself, as one whisk'd up behind a Witch upon a Broomstick, and hurried
over Mountains and Dales through confus'd Woods and thorny Thickets, and
when the Charm is ended, and the poor Wretch dropp'd in a Desart, he can
give no other Account of his enchanted Travels, but that he is much
fatigued in Body and Mind, his Cloaths torn, and worse in all other
Circumstances, without being of the least Service to himself or any
body else. But I will follow your Advice with an active Resolution, to
retrieve my bad Fortune, and almost a Year miserably misspent.

'But notwithstanding what I have suffered, and what my Brother Mad-man
has done to undo himself, and every body who was so unlucky to have the
least Concern with him, I could not but be movingly touch'd at so
extraordinary a Vicissitude of Fortune, to see a great Man fallen from
that shining Light, in which I beheld him in the House of Lords, to such
a Degree of Obscurity, that I have observ'd the meanest Commoner here
decline, and the Few he would sometimes fasten on, to be tired of his
Company; for you know he is but a bad Orator in his Cups, and of late he
has been but seldom sober.

'A week before he left Paris, he was so reduced, that he had not one
single Crown at Command, and was forc'd to thrust in with any
Acquaintance for a Lodging; Walsh and I have had him by Turns, all to
avoid a Crowd of Duns, which he had of all Sizes, from Fourteen hundred
Livres to Four, who hunted him so close, that he was forced to retire to
some of the neighbouring Villages for Safety. I, sick as I was, hurried
about Paris to raise Money, and to St. Germain's to get him Linen; I
bought him one Shirt and a Cravat, which with 500 Livres, his whole
Stock, he and his Duchess, attended by one Servant, set out for Spain.
All the News I have heard of them since is that a Day or two after, he
sent for Captain Brierly, and two or three of his Domesticks, to follow
him; but none but the Captain obey'd the Summons. Where they are now, I
can't tell, but fear they must be in great Distress by this Time, if he
has no other Supplies; and so ends my Melancholy Story.

    'I am, &c.'

Still his good-humour did not desert him; he joked about their poverty
on the road, and wrote an amusing account of their journey to a friend,
winding up with the well-known lines:--

    'Be kind to my remains, and oh! defend,
     Against your judgment, your departed friend.'

His mind was as vigorous as ever, in spite of the waste of many
debauches; and when recommended to make a new translation of
'Telemachus;' he actually devoted one whole day to the work; the next he
forgot all about it. In the same manner he began a play on the story of
Mary Queen of Scots, and Lady M. W. Montagu wrote an epilogue for it,
but the piece never got beyond a few scenes. His genius, perhaps, was
not for either poetry or the drama. His mind was a keen, clear one,
better suited to argument and to grapple tough polemic subjects. Had he
but been a sober man, he might have been a fair, if not a great writer.
The 'True Briton,' with many faults of license, shows what his
capabilities were. His absence of moral sense may be guessed from his
poem on the preaching of Atterbury, in which is a parallel almost

At length he reached Bilboa and his regiment, and had to live on the
meagre pay of eighteen pistoles a month. The Duke of Ormond, then an
exile, took pity on his wife, and supported her for a time: she
afterwards rejoined her mother at Madrid.

Meanwhile, the year 1730 brought about a salutary change in the duke's
morals. His health was fast giving way from the effects of divers
excesses; and there is nothing like bad health for purging a bad soul.
The end of a misspent life was fast drawing near, and he could only keep
it up by broth with eggs beaten up in it. He lost the use of his limbs,
but not of his gaiety. In the mountains of Catalonia he met with a
mineral spring which did him some good; so much, in fact, that he was
able to rejoin his regiment for a time. A fresh attack sent him back to
the waters; but on his way he was so violently attacked that he was
forced to stop at a little village. Here he found himself without the
means of going farther, and in the worst state of health. The monks of a
Bernardine convent took pity on him and received him into their house.
He grew worse and worse; and in a week died on the 31st of May, without
a friend to pity or attend him, among strangers, and at the early age of

Thus ended the life of one of the cleverest fools that ever disgraced
our peerage.


  George II. arriving from Hanover.--His Meeting with the
      Queen.--Lady Suffolk.--Queen Caroline.--Sir Robert
      Walpole.--Lord Hervey.--A set of Fine Gentlemen.--An Eccentric
      Race.--Carr, Lord Hervey.--A Fragile Boy.--Description of
      George II.'s Family.--Anne Brett.--A Bitter Cup.--The Darling
      of the Family.--Evenings at St. James's.--Frederick, Prince of
      Wales.--Amelia Sophia Walmoden.--Poor Queen Caroline!--Nocturnal
      Diversions of Maids of Honour.--Neighbour George's Orange
      Chest.--Mary Lepel, Lady Hervey.--Rivalry.--Hervey's Intimacy
      with Lady Mary.--Relaxations of the Royal Household.--Bacon's
      Opinion of Twickenham.--A Visit to Pope's Villa.--The Little
      Nightingale.--The Essence of Small Talk.--Hervey's Affectation
      and Effeminacy.--Pope's Quarrel with Hervey and Lady
      Mary.--Hervey's Duel with Pulteney.--'The Death of Lord Hervey:
      a Drama.'--Queen Caroline's last Drawing-room.--Her Illness and
      Agony.--A Painful Scene.--The Truth discovered.--The Queen's
      Dying Bequests.--The King's Temper.--Archbishop Potter is sent
      for.--The Duty of Reconciliation.--The Death of Queen
      Caroline.--A Change in Hervey's Life.--Lord Hervey's
      Death.--Want of Christianity.--Memoirs of his Own Time.

The village of Kensington was disturbed in its sweet repose one day,
more than a century ago, by the rumbling of a ponderous coach and six,
with four outriders and two equerries kicking up the dust; whilst a
small body of heavy dragoons rode solemnly after the huge vehicle. It
waded, with inglorious struggles, through a deep mire of mud, between
the Palace and Hyde Park, until the cortège entered Kensington Park, as
the gardens were then called, and began to track the old road that led
to the red-brick structure to which William III. had added a higher
story, built by Wren. There are two roads by which coaches could
approach the house: 'one,' as the famous John, Lord Hervey, wrote to his
mother, 'so convex, the other so concave, that, by this extreme of
faults, they agree in the common one of being, like the high road,
impassable.' The rumbling coach, with its plethoric steeds, toils slowly
on, and reaches the dismal pile, of which no association is so precious
as that of its having been the birthplace of our loved Victoria Regina.
All around, as the emblazoned carriage impressively veers round into the
grand entrance, savours of William and Mary, of Anne, of Bishop Burnet
and Harley, Atterbury and Bolingbroke. But those were pleasant days
compared to those of the second George, whose return from Hanover in
this mountain of a coach is now described.

The panting steeds are gracefully curbed by the state coachman in his
scarlet livery, with his cocked-hat and gray wig underneath it: now the
horses are foaming and reeking as if they had come from the world's end
to Kensington, and yet they have only been to meet King George on his
entrance into London, which he has reached from Helvoetsluys, on his way
from Hanover, in time, as he expects, to spend his birthday among his
English subjects.

It is Sunday, and repose renders the retirement of Kensington and its
avenues and shades more sombre than ever. Suburban retirement is usually
so. It is noon; and the inmates of Kensington Palace are just coming
forth from the chapel in the palace. The coach is now stopping, and the
equerries are at hand to offer their respectful assistance to the
diminutive figure that, in full Field-marshal regimentals, a cocked-hat
stuck crosswise on his head, a sword dangling even down to his heels,
ungraciously heeds them not, but stepping down, as the great iron gates
are thrown open to receive him, looks neither like a king or a
gentleman. A thin, worn face, in which weakness and passion are at once
pictured; a form buttoned and padded up to the chin; high Hessian boots
without a wrinkle; a sword and a swagger, no more constituting him the
military character than the 'your majesty' from every lip can make a
poor thing of clay a king. Such was George II.: brutal, even to his
submissive wife. Stunted by nature, he was insignificant in form, as he
was petty in character; not a trace of royalty could be found in that
silly, tempestuous physiognomy, with its hereditary small head: not an
atom of it in his made-up, paltry little presence; still less in his
bearing, language, or qualities.

The queen and her court have come from chapel, to meet the royal
absentee at the great gate: the consort, who was to his gracious majesty
like an elder sister rather than a wife, bends down, not to his knees,
but yet she bends, to kiss the hand of her royal husband. She is a fair,
fat woman, no longer young, scarcely comely; but with a charm of
manners, a composure, and a _savoir faire_ that causes one to regard her
as mated, not matched to the little creature in that cocked-hat, which
he does not take off even when she stands before him. The pair,
nevertheless, embrace: it is a triennial ceremony performed when the
king goes or returns from Hanover, but suffered to lapse at other times;
but the condescension is too great: and Caroline ends, where she began:
'gluing her lips to the ungracious hand held out to her in evident

They turn, and walk through the court, then up the grand staircase, into
the queen's apartment. The king has been swearing all the way at England
and the English, because he has been obliged to return from Hanover,
where the German mode of life and new mistresses were more agreeable to
him than the English customs and an old wife. He displays, therefore,
even on this supposed happy occasion, one of the worst outbreaks of his
insufferable temper, of which the queen is the first victim. All the
company in the palace, both ladies and gentlemen, are ordered to enter:
he talks to them all, but to the queen he says not a word.

She is attended by Mrs. Clayton, afterwards Lady Sundon, whose lively
manners and great good temper and good will--lent out like leasehold to
all, till she saw what their friendship might bring,--are always useful
at these _tristes rencontres_. Mrs. Clayton is the amalgamating
substance between chemical agents which have, of themselves, no
cohesion; she covers with address what is awkward; she smooths down with
something pleasant what is rude; she turns off--and her office in that
respect is no sinecure at that court--what is indecent, so as to keep
the small majority of the company who have respectable notions in good
humour. To the right of Queen Caroline stands another of her majesty's
household, to whom the most deferential attention is paid by all
present; nevertheless, she is queen of the court, but not the queen of
the royal master of that court. It is Lady Suffolk, the mistress of
King George II., and long mistress of the robes to Queen Caroline. She
is now past the bloom of youth, but her attractions are not in their
wane; but endured until she had attained her seventy-ninth year. Of a
middle height, well made, extremely fair, with very fine light hair, she
attracts regard from her sweet, fresh face, which had in it a comeliness
independent of regularity of feature. According to her invariable
custom, she is dressed with simplicity; her silky tresses are drawn
somewhat back from her snowy forehead, and fall in long tresses on her
shoulders, not less transparently white. She wears a gown of rich silk,
opening in front to display a chemisette of the most delicate cambric,
which is scarcely less delicate than her skin. Her slender arms are
without bracelets, and her taper fingers without rings. As she stands
behind the queen, holding her majesty's fan and gloves, she is obliged,
from her deafness, to lean her fair face with its sunny hair first to
the right side, then to the left, with the helpless air of one
exceedingly deaf--for she had been afflicted with that infirmity for
some years: yet one cannot say whether her appealing looks, which seem
to say, 'Enlighten me if you please,'--and the sort of softened manner
in which she accepts civilities which she scarcely comprehends do not
enhance the wonderful charm which drew every one who knew her towards
this frail, but passionless woman.


The queen forms the centre of the group. Caroline, daughter of the
Marquis of Brandenburgh-Anspach, notwithstanding her residence in
England of many years, notwithstanding her having been, at the era at
which this biography begins, ten years its queen--is still German in
every attribute. She retains, in her fair and comely face, traces of
having been handsome; but her skin is deeply scarred by the cruel
small-pox. She is now at that time of life when Sir Robert Walpole even
thought it expedient to reconcile her to no longer being an object of
attraction to her royal consort. As a woman, she has ceased to be
attractive to a man of the character of George II.; but, as a queen, she
is still, as far as manners are concerned, incomparable. As she turns to
address various members of the assembly, her style is full of sweetness
as well as of courtesy, yet on other occasions she is majesty itself.
The tones of her voice, with its still foreign accent, are most
captivating; her eyes penetrate into every countenance on which they
rest. Her figure, plump and matronly, has lost much of its contour; but
is well suited for her part. Majesty in women should be _embonpoint_.
Her hands are beautifully white, and faultless in shape. The king always
admired her bust; and it is, therefore, by royal command, tolerably
exposed. Her fair hair is upraised in full short curls over her brow:
her dress is rich, and distinguished in that respect from that of the
Countess of Suffolk.--'Her good Howard'--as she was wont to call her,
when, before her elevation to the peerage, she was lady of the
bedchamber to Caroline, had, when in that capacity, been often subjected
to servile offices, which the queen, though apologizing in the sweetest
manner, delighted to make her perform. 'My good Howard' having one day
placed a handkerchief on the back of her royal mistress, the king, who
half worshipped his intellectual wife, pulled it off in a passion,
saying, 'Because you have an ugly neck yourself, you hide the queen's!'
All, however, that evening was smooth as ice, and perhaps as cold also.
The company are quickly dismissed, and the king, who has scarcely spoken
to the queen, retires to his closet, where he is attended by the
subservient Caroline, and by two other persons.

Sir Robert Walpole, prime minister, has accompanied the king in his
carriage, from the very entrance of London, where the famous statesman
met him. He is now the privileged companion of their majesties, in their
seclusion for the rest of the evening. His cheerful face, in its full
evening disguise of wig and tie, his invariable good humour, his frank
manners, his wonderful sense, his views, more practical than elevated,
sufficiently account for the influence which this celebrated minister
obtained over Queen Caroline, and the readiness of King George to submit
to the tie. But Sir Robert's great source of ascendancy was his temper.
Never was there in the annals of our country a minister so free of
access: so obliging in giving, so unoffending when he refused; so
indulgent and kind to those dependent on him; so generous, so faithful
to his friends, so forgiving to his foes. This was his character under
one phase: even his adherents sometimes blamed his easiness of temper;
the impossibility in his nature to cherish the remembrance of a wrong,
or even to be roused by an insult. But, whilst such were the amiable
traits of his character, history has its lists of accusations against
him for corruption of the most shameless description. The end of this
veteran statesman's career is well known. The fraudulent contracts which
he gave, the peculation and profusion of the secret service money, his
undue influence at elections, brought around his later life a storm,
from which he retreated into the Upper House, when created Earl of
Orford. It was before this timely retirement from office that he burst
forth in these words: 'I oppose nothing; give in to everything; am said
to do everything; and to answer for everything; and yet, God knows, I
dare not do what I think is right.'

With his public capacity, however, we have not here to do: it is in his
character of a courtier that we view him following the queen and king.
His round, complacent face, with his small glistening eyes, arched
eyebrows, and with a mouth ready to break out aloud into a laugh, are
all subdued into a respectful gravity as he listens to King George
grumbling at the necessity for his return home. No English cook could
dress a dinner; no English cook could select a dessert; no English
coachman could drive; nor English jockey ride; no Englishman--such were
his habitual taunts--knew how to come into a room; no Englishwoman
understood how to dress herself. The men, he said, talked of nothing but
their dull politics, and the women of nothing but their ugly clothes.
Whereas, in Hanover, all these things were at perfection: men were
patterns of politeness and gallantry; women, of beauty, wit, and
entertainment. His troops there were the bravest in the world; his
manufacturers the most ingenious; his people the happiest: in Hanover,
in short, plenty reigned, riches flowed, arts flourished, magnificence
abounded, everything was in abundance that could make a prince great, or
a people blessed.

There was one standing behind the queen who listened to these outbreaks
of the king's bilious temper, as he called it, with an apparently
respectful solicitude, but with the deepest disgust in his heart. A
slender, elegant figure, in a court suit, faultlessly and carefully
perfect in that costume, stands behind the queen's chair. It is Lord
Hervey. His lofty forehead, his features, which have a refinement of
character, his well-turned mouth, and full and dimpled chin, form his
claims to that beauty which won the heart of the lovely Mary Lepel;
whilst the somewhat thoughtful and pensive expression of his
physiognomy, when in repose, indicated the sympathising, yet, at the
same time, satirical character of one who won the affections, perhaps
unconsciously, of the amiable Princess Caroline, the favourite daughter
of George II.

A general air of languor, ill concealed by the most studied artifice of
countenance, and even of posture, characterizes Lord Hervey. He would
have abhorred robustness; for he belonged to the clique then called
Maccaronis; a set of fine gentlemen, of whom the present world would not
be worthy, tricked out for show, fitted only to drive out fading majesty
in a stage coach; exquisite in every personal appendage, too fine for
the common usages of society; _point-device_, not only in every curl and
ruffle, but in every attitude and step; men with full satin roses on
their shining shoes; diamond tablet rings on their forefingers; with
snuff-boxes, the worth of which might almost purchase a farm; lace
worked by the delicate fingers of some religious recluse of an
ancestress, and taken from an altar-cloth; old point-lace, dark as
coffee-water could make it; with embroidered waistcoats, wreathed in
exquisite tambour-work round each capricious lappet and pocket; with cut
steel buttons that glistened beneath the courtly wax-lights: with these
and fifty other small but costly characteristics that established the
reputation of an aspirant Maccaroni. Lord Hervey was, in truth, an
effeminate creature: too dainty to walk; too precious to commit his
frame to horseback; and prone to imitate the somewhat recluse habits
which German rulers introduced within the court: he was disposed to
candle-light pleasures and cockney diversions; to Marybone and the Mall,
and shrinking from the athletic and social recreations which, like so
much that was manly and English, were confined almost to the English
squire _pur et simple_ after the Hanoverian accession; when so much
degeneracy for a while obscured the English character, debased its tone,
enervated its best races, vilified its literature, corrupted its morals,
changed its costume, and degraded its architecture.

Beneath the effeminacy of the Maccaroni, Lord Hervey was one of the few
who united to intense _finery_ in every minute detail, an acute and
cultivated intellect. To perfect a Maccaroni it was in truth advisable,
if not essential, to unite some smattering of learning, a pretension to
wit, to his super-dandyism; to be the author of some personal squib, or
the translator of some classic. Queen Caroline was too cultivated
herself to suffer fools about her, and Lord Hervey was a man after her
own taste; as a courtier he was essentially a fine gentleman; and, more
than that, he could be the most delightful companion, the most sensible
adviser, and the most winning friend in the court. His ill-health, which
he carefully concealed, his fastidiousness, his ultra-delicacy of
habits, formed an agreeable contrast to the coarse robustness of 'Sir
Robert,' and constituted a relief after the society of the vulgar,
strong-minded minister, who was born for the hustings and the House of
Commons rather than for the courtly drawing-room.

John Lord Hervey, long vice-chamberlain to Queen Caroline, was, like Sir
Robert Walpole, descended from a commoner's family, one of those good
old squires who lived, as Sir Henry Wotton says, 'without lustre and
without obscurity.' The Duchess of Marlborough had procured the
elevation of the Herveys of Ickworth to the peerage. She happened to be
intimate with Sir Thomas Felton, the father of Mrs. Hervey, afterwards
Lady Bristol, whose husband, at first created Lord Hervey, and
afterwards Earl of Bristol, expressed his obligations by retaining as
his motto, when raised to the peerage, the words 'Je n'oublieray
jàmais,' in allusion to the service done him by the Duke and Duchess of

The Herveys had always been an eccentric race; and the classification of
'men, women, and Herveys,' by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, was not more
witty than true. There was in the whole race an eccentricity which
bordered on the ridiculous, but did not imply want of sense or of
talent. Indeed this third species, 'the Herveys,' were more gifted than
the generality of 'men and women.' The father of Lord Hervey had been a
country gentleman of good fortune, living at Ickworth, near Bury in
Suffolk, and representing the town in parliament, as his father had
before him, until raised to the peerage. Before that elevation he had
lived on in his own county, uniting the character of the English squire,
in that fox-hunting county, with that of a perfect gentleman, a scholar,
and a most admirable member of society. He was a poet, also, affecting
the style of Cowley, who wrote an elegy upon his uncle, William Hervey,
an elegy compared to Milton's 'Lycidas' in imagery, music, and
tenderness of thought. The shade of Cowley, whom Charles II. pronounced,
at his death, to be 'the best man in England,' haunted this peer, the
first Earl of Bristol. He aspired especially to the poet's _wit_; and
the ambition to be a wit flew like wildfire among his family, especially
infecting his two sons, Carr, the elder brother of the subject of this
memoir, and Lord Hervey.

It would have been well could the Earl of Bristol have transmitted to
his sons his other qualities. He was pious, moral, affectionate,
sincere; a consistent Whig of the old school, and, as such, disapproving
of Sir Robert Walpole, of the standing army, the corruptions, and that
doctrine of expediency so unblushingly avowed by the ministers.

Created Earl of Bristol in 1714, the heir-apparent to his titles and
estates was the elder brother, by a former marriage, of John, Lord
Hervey; the dissolute, clever, whimsical Carr, Lord Hervey. Pope, in one
of his satirical appeals to the _second_ Lord Hervey, speaks of his
friendship with Carr, 'whose early death deprived the family' (of
Hervey) 'of as much wit and honour as he left behind him in any part of
it.' The _wit_ was a family attribute, but the _honour_ was dubious:
Carr was as deistical as any Maccaroni of the day, and, perhaps, more
dissolute than most: in one respect he has left behind him a celebrity
which may be as questionable as his wit, or his honour; he is reputed to
be the father of Horace Walpole, and if we accept presumptive evidence
of the fact, the statement is clearly borne out, for in his wit, his
indifference to religion, to say the least, his satirical turn, his
love of the world, and his contempt of all that was great and good, he
strongly resembles his reputed son; whilst the levity of Lady Walpole's
character, and Sir Robert's laxity and dissoluteness, do not furnish any
reasonable doubt to the statement made by Lady Louisa Stuart, in the
introduction to Lord Wharncliffe's 'Life of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.'
Carr, Lord Hervey, died early, and his half-brother succeeded him in his
title and expectations.

John, Lord Hervey, was educated first at Westminster School, under Dr.
Freind, the friend of Mrs. Montagu; thence he was removed to Clare Hall,
Cambridge: he graduated as a nobleman, and became M.A. in 1715.

At Cambridge Lord Hervey might have acquired some manly prowess; but he
had a mother who was as strange as the family into which she had
married, and who was passionately devoted to her son: she evinced her
affection by never letting him have a chance of being like other English
boys. When his father was at Newmarket, Jack Hervey, as he was called,
was to ride a race, to please his father; but his mother could not risk
her dear boy's safety, and the race was won by a jockey. He was as
precious and as fragile as porcelain: the elder brother's death made the
heir of the Herveys more valuable, more effeminate, and more controlled
than ever by his eccentric mother. A court was to be his hemisphere, and
to that all his views, early in life, tended. He went to Hanover to pay
his court to George I.: Carr had done the same, and had come back
enchanted with George, the heir-presumptive, who made him one of the
lords of the bedchamber. Jack Hervey also returned full of enthusiasm
for the Prince of Wales, afterwards George II., and the Princess; and
that visit influenced his destiny.

He now proposed making the grand tour, which comprised Paris, Germany,
and Italy. But his mother again interfered: she wept, she exhorted, she
prevailed. Means were refused, and the stripling was recalled to hang
about the court, or to loiter at Ickworth, scribbling verses, and
causing his father uneasiness lest he should be too much of a poet, and
too little of a public man.

Such was his youth: disappointed by not obtaining a commission in the
Guards, he led a desultory butterfly-like life; one day at Richmond with
Queen Caroline, then Princess of Wales; another, at Pope's villa, at
Twickenham; sometimes in the House of Commons, in which he succeeded his
elder brother as member for Bury; and, at the period when he has been
described as forming one of the quartett in Queen Caroline's closet at
St. James's, as vice-chamberlain to his partial and royal patroness.

His early marriage with Mary Lepel, the beautiful maid of honour to
Queen Caroline, insured his felicity, though it did not curb his
predilections for other ladies.

Henceforth Lord Hervey lived all the year round in what were then called
lodgings, that is, apartments appropriated to the royal household, or
even to others, in St. James's, or at Richmond, or at Windsor. In order
fully to comprehend all the intimate relations which he had with the
court, it is necessary to present the reader with some account of the
family of George II. Five daughters had been the female issue of his
majesty's marriage with Queen Caroline. Three of these princesses, the
three elder ones, had lived, during the life of George I., at St.
James's with their grandfather; who, irritated by the differences
between him and his son, then Prince of Wales, adopted that measure
rather as showing his authority than from any affection to the young
princesses. It was, in truth, difficult to say which of these royal
ladies was the most unfortunate.

Anne, the eldest, had shown her spirit early in life whilst residing
with George I.; she had a proud, imperious nature, and her temper was,
it must be owned, put to a severe test. The only time that George I. did
the English the _honour_ of choosing one of the beauties of the nation
for his mistress, was during the last year of his reign. The object of
his choice was Anne Brett, the eldest daughter of the infamous Countess
of Macclesfield by her second husband. The neglect of Savage, the poet,
her son, was merely one passage in the iniquitous life of Lady
Macclesfield. Endowed with singular taste and judgment, consulted by
Colley Cibber on every new play he produced, the mother of Savage was
not only wholly destitute of all virtue, but of all shame. One day,
looking out of the window, she perceived a very handsome man assaulted
by some bailiffs who were going to arrest him: she paid his debt,
released, and married him. The hero of this story was Colonel Brett, the
father of Anne Brett.

The child of such a mother was not likely to be even
decently-respectable; and Anne was proud of her disgraceful preeminence
and of her disgusting and royal lover. She was dark, and her flashing
black eyes resembled those of a Spanish beauty. Ten years after the
death of George I., she found a husband in Sir William Leman, of
Northall, and was announced, on that occasion, as the half-sister of
Richard Savage.

To the society of this woman, when at St. James's, as 'Mistress Brett,'
the three princesses were subjected: at the same time the Duchess of
Kendal, the king's German mistress, occupied other lodgings at St.

Miss Brett was to be rewarded with the coronet of a countess for her
degradation, the king being absent on the occasion at Hanover; elated by
her expectations, she took the liberty, during his majesty's absence, of
ordering a door to be broken out of her apartment into the royal garden,
where the princesses walked. The Princess Anne, not deigning to
associate with her, commanded that it should be forthwith closed. Miss
Brett imperiously reversed that order. In the midst of the affair, the
king died suddenly, and Anne Brett's reign was over, and her influence
soon as much forgotten as if she had never existed. The Princess Anne
was pining in the dulness of her royal home, when a marriage with the
Prince of Orange, was proposed for the consideration of his parents. It
was a miserable match as well as a miserable prospect, for the prince's
revenue amounted to no more than £12,000 a year; and the state and pomp
to which the Princess Royal had been accustomed could not be
contemplated on so small a fortune. It was still worse in point of that
poor consideration, happiness. The Prince of Orange was both deformed
and disgusting in his person, though his face was sensible in
expression; and if he inspired one idea more strongly than another when
he appeared in his uniform and cocked hat, and spoke bad French, or
worse English, it was that of seeing before one a dressed-up baboon.

It was a bitter cup for the princess to drink, but she drank it: she
reflected that it might be the only way of quitting a court where, in
case of her father's death, she would be dependent on her brother
Frederick, or on that weak prince's strong-minded wife. So she
consented, and took the dwarf; and that consent was regarded by a
grateful people, and by all good courtiers, as a sacrifice for the sake
of Protestant principles, the House of Orange being, _par excellence_,
at the head of the orthodox dynasties in Europe. A dowry of £80,000 was
forthwith granted by an admiring Commons--just double what had ever been
given before. That sum was happily lying in the exchequer, being the
purchase-money of some lands in St. Christopher's which had lately been
sold; and King George was thankful to get rid of a daughter whose
haughtiness gave him trouble. In person, too, the princess royal was not
very ornamental to the Court. She was ill-made, with a propensity to
grow fat; her complexion, otherwise very fine, was marked with the
small-pox; she had, however, a lively, clean look--one of her chief
beauties--and a certain royalty of manner.

The Princess Amelia died, as the world thought, single, but consoled
herself with various love flirtations. The Duke of Newcastle made love
to her, but her affections were centred on the Duke of Grafton, to whom
she was privately married, as is confidently asserted.

The Princess Caroline was the darling of her family. Even the king
relied on her truth. When there was any dispute, he used to say, 'Send
for Caroline; she will tell us the right story.'

Her fate had its clouds. Amiable, gentle, of unbounded charity, with
strong affections, which were not suffered to flow in a legitimate
channel, she became devotedly attached to Lord Hervey: her heart was
bound up in him; his death drove her into a permanent retreat from the
world. No debasing connection existed between them; but it is misery, it
is sin enough to love another woman's husband--and that sin, that
misery, was the lot of the royal and otherwise virtuous Caroline.

The Princess Mary, another victim to conventionalities, was united to
Frederick, Landgrave of Hesse Cassel; a barbarian, from whom she
escaped, whenever she could, to come, with a bleeding heart, to her
English home. She was, even Horace Walpole allows, 'of the softest,
mildest temper in the world,' and fondly beloved by her sister Caroline,
and by the 'Butcher of Culloden,' William, Duke of Cumberland.

Louisa became Queen of Denmark in 1746, after some years' marriage to
the Crown Prince. 'We are lucky,' Horace Walpole writes on that
occasion, 'in the death of kings.'

The two princesses who were still under the paternal roof were
contrasts. Caroline was a constant invalid, gentle, sincere,
unambitious, devoted to her mother, whose death nearly killed her.
Amelia affected popularity, and assumed the _esprit fort_--was fond of
meddling in politics, and after the death of her mother, joined the
Bedford faction, in opposition to her father. But both these princesses
were outwardly submissive when Lord Hervey became the Queen's

The evenings at St. James's were spent in the same way as those at

Quadrille formed her majesty's pastime, and, whilst Lord Hervey played
pools of cribbage with the Princess Caroline and the maids of honour,
the Duke of Cumberland amused himself and the Princess Amelia at
'buffet.' On Mondays and Fridays there were drawing-rooms held; and
these receptions took place, very wisely, in the evening.

Beneath all the show of gaiety and the freezing ceremony of those
stately occasions, there was in that court as much misery as family
dissensions, or, to speak accurately, family hatreds can engender.
Endless jealousies, which seem to us as frivolous as they were rabid;
and contentions, of which even the origin is still unexplained, had long
severed the queen from her eldest son. George II. had always loved his
mother: his affection for the unhappy Sophia Dorothea was one of the
very few traits of goodness in a character utterly vulgar, sensual, and
entirely selfish. His son, Frederick, Prince of Wales, on the other
hand, hated his mother. He loved neither of his parents: but the queen
had the preeminence in his aversion.

The king, during the year 1736, was at Hanover. His return was
announced, but under circumstances of danger. A tremendous storm arose
just as he was prepared to embark at Helvoetsluys. All London was on the
look out, weather-cocks were watched; tides, winds, and moons formed the
only subjects of conversation; but no one of his majesty's subjects was
so demonstrative as the Prince of Wales, and his cheerfulness, and his
triumph even, on the occasion, were of course resentfully heard of by
the queen.

During the storm, when anxiety had almost amounted to fever, Lord Hervey
dined with Sir Robert Walpole. Their conversation naturally turned on
the state of affairs, prospectively. Sir Robert called the prince a
'poor, weak, irresolute, false, lying, contemptible wretch.' Lord Hervey
did not defend him, but suggested that Frederick, in case of his
father's death, might be more influenced by the queen than he had
hitherto been. 'Zounds, my lord!' interrupted Sir Robert, 'he would tear
the flesh off her bones with red-hot irons sooner! The distinctions she
shows to you, too, I believe, would not be forgotten. Then the notion he
has of his great riches, and the desire he has of fingering them, would
make him pinch her, and pinch her again, in order to make her buy her
ease, till she had not a groat left.'

What a picture of a heartless and selfish character! The next day the
queen sent for Lord Hervey, to ask him if he knew the particulars of a
great dinner which the prince had given to the lord mayor the previous
day, whilst the whole country, and the court in particular, was
trembling for the safety of the king, his father. Lord Hervey told her
that the prince's speech at the dinner was the most ingratiating piece
of popularity ever heard; the healths, of course, as usual. 'Heavens!'
cried the queen: 'popularity always makes me sick, but _Fritz's_
popularity makes me vomit! I hear that yesterday, on the prince's side
of the House, they talked of the king's being cast away with the same
_sang froid_ as you would talk of an overturn; and that my good son
strutted about as if he had been already king. Did you mark the airs
with which he came into my drawing-room in the morning? though he does
not think fit to honour me with his presence, or _ennui_ me with his
wife's, of an evening? I felt something here in my throat that swelled
and half-choked me.'

Poor Queen Caroline! with such a son, and such a husband, she must have
been possessed of a more than usual share of German imperturbability to
sustain her cheerfulness, writhing, as she often was, under the pangs of
a long-concealed disorder, of which eventually she died. Even on the
occasion of the king's return in time to spend his birthday in England,
the queen's temper had been sorely tried. Nothing had ever vexed her
more than the king's admiration for Amelia Sophia Walmoden, who, after
the death of Caroline, was created Countess of Yarmouth. Madame Walmoden
had been a reigning belle among the married women at Hanover, when
George II. visited that country in 1735. Not that her majesty's
affections were wounded; it was her pride that was hurt by the idea that
people would think that this Hanoverian lady had more influence than she
had. In other respects the king's absence was a relief: she had the
_éclat_ of the regency; she had the comfort of having the hours which
her royal torment decreed were to be passed in amusing his dulness, to
herself; she was free from his 'quotidian sallies of temper, which,' as
Lord Hervey relates, 'let it be charged by what hand it would, used
always to discharge its hottest fire, on some pretence or other, upon

It is quite true that from the first dawn of his preference for Madame
Walmoden, the king wrote circumstantial letters of fifty or sixty pages
to the queen, informing her of every stage of the affair; the queen, in
reply, saying that she was only _one_ woman, and an old woman, and
adding, 'that he might love _more and younger women_.' In return, the
king wrote, 'You must love the Walmoden, for she loves _you_;' a civil
insult, which he accompanied with so minute a description of his new
favourite, that the queen, had she been a painter, might have drawn her
portrait at a hundred miles' distance.

The queen, subservient as she seemed, felt the humiliation. Such was the
debased nature of George II. that he not only wrote letters unworthy of
a man to write, and unfit for a woman to read, to his wife, but he
desired her to show them to Sir Robert Walpole. He used to 'tag several
paragraphs,' as Lord Hervey expresses it, with these words, '_Montrez
ceci, et consultez la-dessus de gros homme_,' meaning Sir Robert. But
this was only a portion of the disgusting disclosures made by the vulgar
licentious monarch to his too degraded consort.

In the bitterness of her mortification the queen consulted Lord Hervey
and Sir Robert as to the possibility of her losing her influence, should
she resent the king's delay in returning. They agreed, that her taking
the '_fière_ turn' would ruin her with her royal consort; Sir Robert
adding, that if he had a mind to flatter her into her ruin, he might
talk to her as if she were twenty-five, and try to make her imagine that
she could bring the king back by the apprehension of losing her
affection. He said it was now too late in her life to try new methods;
she must persist in the soothing, coaxing, submissive arts which had
been practised with success, and even press his majesty to bring this
woman to England! 'He taught her,' says Lord Hervey, 'this hard lesson
till she _wept_.' Nevertheless, the queen expressed her gratitude to the
minister for his advice. 'My lord,' said Walpole to Hervey, 'she laid
her thanks on me so thick that I found I had gone too far, for I am
never so much afraid of her rebukes as of her commendations.'

Such was the state of affairs between this singular couple.
Nevertheless, the queen, not from attachment to the king, but from the
horror she had of her son's reigning, felt such fears of the prince's
succeeding to the throne as she could hardly express. He would, she was
convinced, do all he could to ruin and injure her in case of his
accession to the throne.

The consolation of such a friend as Lord Hervey can easily be conceived,
when he told her majesty that he had resolved, in case the king had been
lost at sea, to have retired from her service, in order to prevent any
jealousy or irritation that might arise from his supposed influence with
her majesty. The queen stopped him short, and said, 'No, my lord, I
should never have suffered that; you are one of the greatest pleasures
of my life. But did I love you less than I do, or less like to have you
about me, I should look upon the suffering you to be taken from me as
such a meanness and baseness that you should not have stirred an inch
from me. You,' she added, 'should have gone with me to Somerset House;'
(which was hers in case of the king's death). She then told him she
should have begged Sir Robert Walpole on her knees not to have sent in
his resignation.

The animosity of the Prince of Wales to Lord Hervey augmented, there can
be no doubt, his unnatural aversion to the queen, an aversion which he
evinced early in life. There was a beautiful, giddy maid of honour, who
attracted not only the attention of Frederick, but the rival attentions
of other suitors, and among them, the most favoured was said to be Lord
Hervey, notwithstanding that he had then been for some years the husband
of one of the loveliest ornaments of the court, the sensible and
virtuous Mary Lepel. Miss Vane became eventually the avowed favourite of
the prince, and after giving birth to a son, who was christened
Fitz-Frederick Vane, and who died in 1736, his unhappy mother died a few
months afterwards. It is melancholy to read a letter from Lady Hervey to
Mrs. Howard, portraying the frolic and levity of this once joyous
creature, among the other maids of honour; and her strictures show at
once the unrefined nature of the pranks in which they indulged, and her
once sobriety of demeanour.

She speaks, on one occasion, in which, however, Miss Vane did not share
the nocturnal diversion, of some of the maids of honour being out in the
winter all night in the gardens at Kensington--opening and rattling the
windows, and trying to frighten people out of their wits; and she gives
Mrs. Howard a hint that the queen ought to be informed of the way in
which her young attendants amused themselves. After levities such as
these, it is not surprising to find poor Miss Vane writing to Mrs.
Howard, with complaints that she was unjustly aspersed, and referring to
her relatives, Lady Betty Nightingale and Lady Hewet, in testimony of
the falsehood of reports which, unhappily, the event verified.

The prince, however, never forgave Lord Hervey for being his rival with
Miss Vane, nor his mother for her favours to Lord Hervey. In vain did
the queen endeavour to reconcile Fritz, as she called him, to his
father;--nothing could be done in a case where the one was all dogged
selfishness; and where the other, the idol of the opposition party, as
the prince had ever been, so _legère de tête_ as to swallow all the
adulation offered to him, and to believe himself a demigod. 'The queen's
dread of a rival,' Horace Walpole remarks, 'was a feminine weakness: the
behaviour of her eldest son was a real thorn.' Some time before his
marriage to a princess who was supposed to augment his hatred of his
mother, Frederick of Wales had contemplated an act of disobedience. Soon
after his arrival in England, Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, hearing
that he was in want of money, had sent to offer him her granddaughter,
Lady Diana Spencer, with a fortune of £100,000. The prince accepted the
young lady, and a day was fixed for his marriage in the duchess's lodge
at the Great Park, Windsor. But Sir Robert Walpole, getting intelligence
of the plot, the nuptials were stopped. The duchess never forgave either
Walpole or the royal family, and took an early opportunity of insulting
the latter. When the Prince of Orange came over to marry the Princess
Royal, a sort of boarded gallery was erected from the windows of the
great drawing-room of the palace, and was constructed so as to cross the
garden to the Lutheran chapel in the Friary, where the duchess lived.
The Prince of Orange being ill, went to Bath, and the marriage was
delayed for some weeks. Meantime the widows of Marlborough House were
darkened by the gallery. 'I wonder,' cried the old duchess, 'when my
neighbour George will take away his orange-chest!' The structure, with
its pent-house roof, really resembling an orange-chest.

Mary Lepel, Lady Hervey, whose attractions, great as they were, proved
insufficient to rivet the exclusive admiration of the accomplished
Hervey, had become his wife in 1720, some time before her husband had
been completely enthralled with the gilded prison doors of a court. She
was endowed with that intellectual beauty calculated to attract a man of
talent: she was highly educated, of great talent; possessed of _savoir
faire_, infinite good temper, and a strict sense of duty. She also
derived from her father, Brigadier Lepel, who was of an ancient family
in Sark, a considerable fortune. Good and correct as she was, Lady
Hervey viewed with a fashionable composure the various intimacies formed
during the course of their married life by his lordship.

The fact is, that the aim of both was not so much to insure their
domestic felicity as to gratify their ambition. Probably they were
disappointed in both these aims--certainly in one of them; talented,
indefatigable, popular, lively, and courteous, Lord Hervey, in the House
of Commons, advocated in vain, in brilliant orations, the measures of
Walpole. Twelve years, fourteen years elapsed, and he was left in the
somewhat subordinate position of vice-chamberlain, in spite of that high
order of talents which he possessed, and which would have been displayed
to advantage in a graver scene. The fact has been explained: the queen
could not do without him; she confided in him; her daughter loved him;
and his influence in that court was too powerful for Walpole to dispense
with an aid so valuable to his own plans. Some episodes in a life thus
frittered away, until, too late, promotion came, alleviated his
existence, and gave his wife only a passing uneasiness, if even indeed
they imparted a pang.

One of these was his dangerous passion for Miss Vane; another, his
platonic attachment to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.

Whilst he lived on the terms with his wife which is described even by
the French as being a '_Ménage de Paris_,' Lord Hervey, found in another
quarter the sympathies which, as a husband, he was too well-bred to
require. It is probable that he always admired his wife more than any
other person, for she had qualities that were quite congenial to the
tastes of a wit and a beau in those times. Lady Hervey was not only
singularly captivating, young, gay, and handsome; but a complete model
also of the polished, courteous, high-bred woman of fashion. Her manners
are said by Lady Louisa Stuart to have 'had a foreign tinge, which some
called affected; but they were gentle, easy, and altogether exquisitely
pleasing.' She was in secret a Jacobite--and resembled in that respect
most of the fine ladies in Great Britain. Whiggery and Walpolism were
vulgar: it was _haut ton_ to take offence when James II. was
anathematized, and quite good taste to hint that some people wished well
to the Chevalier's attempts: and this way of speaking owed its fashion
probably to Frederick of Wales, whose interest in Flora Macdonald, and
whose concern for the exiled family, were among the few amiable traits
of his disposition. Perhaps they arose from a wish to plague his
parents, rather than from a greatness of character foreign to this

Lady Hervey was in the bloom of youth, Lady Mary in the zenith of her
age, when they became rivals: Lady Mary had once excited the jealousy of
Queen Caroline when Princess of Wales.

'How becomingly Lady Mary is dressed to-night,' whispered George II. to
his wife, whom he had called up from the card-table to impart to her
that important conviction. 'Lady Mary always dresses well,' was the cold
and curt reply.

Lord Hervey had been married about seven years when Lady Mary Wortley
Montagu re-appeared at the court of Queen Caroline, after her long
residence in Turkey. Lord Hervey was thirty-three years of age; Lady
Mary was verging on forty. She was still a pretty woman, with a piquant,
neat-featured face; which does not seem to have done any justice to a
mind at once masculine and sensitive, nor to a heart capable of
benevolence--capable of strong attachments, and of bitter hatred.

Like Lady Hervey, she lived with her husband on well-bred terms: there
existed no quarrel between them; no avowed ground of coldness; it was
the icy boundary of frozen feeling that severed them; the sure and
lasting though polite destroyer of all bonds, indifference. Lady Mary
was full of repartee, of poetry, of anecdote, and was not averse to
admiration; but she was essentially a woman of common sense, of views
enlarged by travel, and of ostensibly good principles. A woman of
delicacy was not to be found in those days, any more than other
productions of the nineteenth century: a telegraphic message would have
been almost as startling to a courtly ear as the refusal of a fine lady
to suffer a _double entendre_. Lady Mary was above all scruples, and
Lord Hervey, who had lived too long with George II. and his queen to
have the moral sense in her perfection, liked her all the better for her
courage--her merry, indelicate jokes, and her putting things down by
their right names, on which Lady Mary plumed herself: she was what they
term in the north of England, 'Emancipated.' They formed an old
acquaintance with a confidential, if not a tender friendship; and that
their intimacy was unpleasant to Lady Hervey was proved by her
refusal--when, after the grave had closed over Lord Hervey, late in
life, Lady Mary ill, and broken down by age, returned to die in
England--to resume an acquaintance which had been a painful one to her.

Lord Hervey was a martyr to illness of an epileptic character; and Lady
Mary gave him her sympathy. She was somewhat of a doctor--and being
older than her friend, may have had the art of soothing sufferings,
which were the worse because they were concealed. Whilst he writhed in
pain, he was obliged to give vent to his agony by alleging that an
attack of cramp bent him double: yet he lived by rule--a rule harder to
adhere to than that of the most conscientious homoeopath in the
present day. In the midst of court gaieties and the duties of office, he
thus wrote to Dr. Cheyne:--

... 'To let you know that I continue one of your most pious votaries,
and to tell you the method I am in. In the first place, I never take
wine nor malt drink, nor any liquid but water and milk-tea; in the next,
I eat no meat but the whitest, youngest, and tenderest, nine times in
ten nothing but chicken, and never more than the quantity of a small one
at a meal. I seldom eat any supper, but if any, nothing absolutely but
bread and water; two days in the week I eat no flesh; my breakfast is
dry biscuit, not sweet, and green tea; I have left off butter as
bilious; I eat no salt, nor any sauce but bread-sauce.'

Among the most cherished relaxations of the royal household were visits
to Twickenham, whilst the court was at Richmond. The River Thames, which
has borne on its waves so much misery in olden times--which was the
highway from the Star-chamber to the tower--which has been belaboured in
our days with so much wealth, and sullied with so much impurity; that
river, whose current is one hour rich as the stream of a gold river, the
next hour, foul as the pestilent churchyard,--was then, especially
between Richmond and Teddington, a glassy, placid stream, reflecting on
its margin the chestnut-trees of stately Ham, and the reeds and wild
flowers which grew undisturbed in the fertile meadows of Petersham.

Lord Hervey, with the ladies of the court, Mrs. Howard as their
chaperon, delighted in being wafted to that village, so rich in names
which give to Twickenham undying associations with the departed great.
Sometimes the effeminate valetudinarian, Hervey, was content to attend
the Princess Caroline to Marble Hill only, a villa residence built by
George II. for Mrs. Howard, and often referred to in the correspondence
of that period. Sometimes the royal barge, with its rowers in scarlet
jackets, was seen conveying the gay party; ladies in slouched hats,
pointed over fair brows in front, with a fold of sarsenet round them,
terminated in a long bow and ends behind--with deep falling mantles over
dresses never cognizant of crinoline: gentlemen, with cocked-hats, their
bag-wigs and ties appearing behind; and beneath their puce-coloured
coats, delicate silk tights and gossamer stockings were visible, as they
trod the mossy lawn of the Palace Gardens at Richmond, or, followed by a
tiny greyhound, prepared for the lazy pleasures of the day.

Sometimes the visit was private; the sickly Princess Caroline had a
fancy to make one of the group who are bound to Pope's villa.
Twickenham, where that great little man had, since 1715, established
himself, was pronounced by Lord Bacon to be the finest place in the
world for study. 'Let Twitnam Park,' he wrote to his steward, Thomas
Bushell, 'which I sold in my younger days, be purchased, if possible,
for a residence for such deserving persons to study in, (since I
experimentally found the situation of that place much convenient for the
trial of my philosophical conclusions)--expressed in a paper sealed, to
the trust--which I myself had put in practice and settled the same by
act of parliament, if the vicissitudes of fortune had not intervened and
prevented me.'

Twickenham continued, long after Bacon had penned this injunction, to be
the retreat of the poet, the statesman, the scholar; the haven where the
retired actress, and broken novelist found peace; the abode of Henry
Fielding, who lived in one of the back-streets; the temporary refuge,
from the world of London, of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and the life-long
home of Pope.

Let us picture to ourselves a visit from the princess to Pope's
villa:--As the barge, following the gentle bendings of the river, nears
Twickenham, a richer green, a summer brightness, indicates it is
approaching that spot of which even Bishop Warburton says that 'the
beauty of the owner's poetic genius appeared to as much advantage in the
disposition of these romantic materials as in any of his best-contrived
poems.' And the loved toil which formed the quincunx, which perforated
and extended the grotto until it extended across the road to a garden on
the opposite side--the toil which showed the gentler parts of Pope's
better nature--has been respected, and its effects preserved. The
enamelled lawn, green as no other grass save that by the Thames side is
green, was swept until late years by the light boughs of the famed
willow. Every memorial of the bard was treasured by the gracious hands
into which, after 1744, the classic spot fell--those of Sir William

In the subterranean passage this verse appears; adulatory it must be

    'The humble roof, the garden's scanty line,
     Ill suit the genius of the bard divine;
     But fancy now assumes a fairer scope,
     And Stanhope's plans unfold the soul of Pope.'

It should have been Stanhope's 'gold,'--a metal which was not so
abundant, nor indeed so much wanted in Pope's time as in our own. Let us
picture to ourselves the poet as a host.

As the barge is moored close to the low steps which lead up from the
river to the villa, a diminutive figure, then in its prime, (if prime it
_ever_ had), is seen moving impatiently forward. By that young-old face,
with its large lucid speaking eyes that light it up, as does a rushlight
in a cavern--by that twisted figure with its emaciated legs--by the
large, sensible mouth, the pointed, marked, well-defined nose--by the
wig, or hair pushed off in masses from the broad forehead and falling
behind in tresses--by the dress, that loose, single-breasted black
coat--by the cambric band and plaited shirt, without a frill, but fine
and white, for the poor poet has taken infinite pains that day in
self-adornment--by the delicate ruffle on that large thin hand, and
still more by the clear, most musical voice which is heard welcoming his
royal and noble guests, as he stands bowing low to the Princess
Caroline, and bending to kiss hands--by that voice which gained him more
especially the name of the little nightingale--is Pope at once
recognized, and Pope in the perfection of his days, in the very zenith
of his fame.

One would gladly have been a sprite to listen from some twig of that
then stripling willow which the poet had planted with his own hand, to
talk of those who chatted for a while under its shade, before they went
in-doors to an elegant dinner at the usual hour of twelve. How
delightful to hear, unseen, the repartees of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu,
who comes down, it is natural to conclude, from her villa near to that
of Pope. How fine a study might one not draw of the fine gentleman and
the wit in Lord Hervey, as he is commanded by the gentle Princess
Caroline to sit on her right hand; but his heart is across the table,
with Lady Mary! How amusing to observe the dainty but not sumptuous
repast contrived with Pope's exquisite taste, but regulated by his
habitual economy--for his late father, a worthy Jacobite hatter, erst in
the Strand, disdained to invest the fortune he had amassed, from the
extensive sale of cocked-hats, in the Funds, over which an Hanoverian
stranger ruled; but had lived on his capital of £20,000 (as spendthrifts
do, without either moral, religious, or political reasons), as long as
it lasted him; yet _he_ was no spendthrift. Let us look, therefore, with
a liberal eye, noting, as we stand, how that fortune, in league with
nature, who made the poet crooked, had maimed two of his fingers, such
time as, passing a bridge, the poor little poet was overturned into the
river, and he would have been drowned, had not the postilion broken the
coach window and dragged the tiny body through the aperture. We mark,
however, that he generally contrives to hide this defect, as he would
fain have hidden every other, from the lynx eyes of Lady Mary, who knows
him, however, thoroughly, and reads every line of that poor little heart
of his, enamoured of her as it was.


Then the conversation! How gladly would we catch here some drops of what
must have been the very essence of small-talk, and small-talk is the
only thing fit for early dinners! Our host is noted for his easy
address, his engaging manners, his delicacy, politeness, and a certain
tact he had of showing every guest that he was welcome in the choicest
expressions and most elegant terms. Then Lady Mary! how brilliant is her
slightest turn! how she banters Pope--how she gives _double entendre_
for _double entendre_ to Hervey! How sensible, yet how gay is all she
says; how bright, how cutting, yet how polished is the _équivoque_ of
the witty, high-bred Hervey! He is happy that day--away from the coarse,
passionate king, whom he hated with a hatred that burns itself out in
his lordship's 'Memoirs;' away from the somewhat exacting and pitiable
queen; away from the hated Pelham, and the rival Grafton.

And conversation never flags when all, more or less, are congenial; when
all are well-informed, well-bred and resolved to please. Yet there is a
canker in that whole assembly; that canker is a want of confidence; no
one trusts the other; Lady Mary's encouragement of Hervey surprises and
shocks the Princess Caroline, who loves him secretly; Hervey's
attentions to the queen of letters scandalizes Pope, who soon afterwards
makes a declaration to Lady Mary. Pope writhes under a lash just held
over him by Lady Mary's hand. Hervey feels that the poet, though all
suavity, is ready to demolish him at any moment, if he can; and the only
really happy and complacent person of the whole party is, perhaps,
Pope's old mother, who sits in the room next to that occupied for
dinner, industriously spinning.

This happy state of things came, however, as is often the case, in close
intimacies, to a painful conclusion. There was too little reality, too
little earnestness of feeling, for the friendship between Pope and Lady
Mary, including Lord Hervey, to last long. His lordship had his
affectations, and his effeminate nicety was proverbial. One day being
asked at dinner if he would take some beef, he is reported to have
answered, 'Beef? oh no! faugh! don't you know I never eat beef, nor
_horse_, nor curry, nor any of those things?' Poor man! it was probably
a pleasant way of turning off what he may have deemed an assault on a
digestion that could hardly conquer any solid food. This affectation
offended Lady Mary, whose _mot_, that there were three species, 'Men,
women, and Herveys'--implies a perfect perception of the eccentricities
even of her gifted friend, Lord Hervey, whose mother's friend she had
been, and the object of whose admiration she undoubtedly was.

Pope, who was the most irritable of men, never forgot or forgave even
the most trifling offence. Lady Bolingbroke truly said of him that he
played the politician about cabbages and salads, and everybody agrees
that he could hardly tolerate the wit that was more successful than his
own. It was about the year 1725, that he began to hate Lord Hervey with
such a hatred as only he could feel; it was unmitigated by a single
touch of generosity or of compassion. Pope afterwards owned that his
acquaintance with Lady Mary and with Hervey was discontinued, merely
because they had too much wit for him. Towards the latter end of 1732,
'The Imitation of the Second Satire of the First Book of Horace,'
appeared, and in it Pope attacked Lady Mary with the grossest and most
indecent couplet ever printed: she was called Sappho, and Hervey, Lord
Fanny; and all the world knew the characters at once.

In retaliation for this satire, appeared 'Verses to the Imitator of
Horace;' said to have been the joint production of Lord Hervey and Lady
Mary. This was followed by a piece entitled 'Letter from a Nobleman at
Hampton Court to a Doctor of Divinity.' To this composition Lord Hervey,
its sole author, added these lines, by way, as it seems, of extenuation.

Pope's first reply was in a prose letter, on which Dr. Johnson has
passed a condemnation. 'It exhibits,' he says, 'nothing but tedious
malignity.' But he was partial to the Herveys, Thomas and Henry Hervey,
Lord Hervey's brothers, having been kind to him--'If you call a dog
_Hervey_,' he said to Boswell, 'I shall love him.'

Next came the epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot, in which every infirmity and
peculiarity of Hervey are handed down in calm, cruel irony, and polished
verses, to posterity. The verses are almost too disgusting to be
revived in an age which disclaims scurrility. After the most personal
rancorous invective, he thus writes of Lord Hervey's conversation:--

    His wit all see-saw between this and _that_--
    Now high, now low--now _master_ up, now _miss_--
    And he himself one vile antithesis.

           *       *       *       *       *

    Fop at the toilet, flatterer at the board,
    Now trips a lady, and now struts a lord.
    Eve's tempter, thus the rabbins have expressed--
    A cherub's face--a reptile all the rest.
    Beauty that shocks you, facts that none can trust,
    Wit that can creep, and pride that bites the dust.'

'It is impossible,' Mr. Croker thinks, 'not to admire, however we may
condemn, the art by which acknowledged wit, beauty, and gentle
manners--the queen's favour--and even a valetudinary diet, are
travestied into the most odious offences.'

Pope, in two lines, pointed to the intimacy between Lady Mary and Lord

    'Once, and but once, this heedless youth was hit,
     And liked that dangerous thing, a female wit.'

Nevertheless, he _afterwards_ pretended that the name _Sappho_ was not
applied to Lady Mary, but to women in general; and acted with a degree
of mean prevarication which greatly added to the amount of his offence.

The quarrel with Pope was not the only attack which Lord Hervey had to
encounter. Among the most zealous of his foes was Pulteney, afterwards
Lord Bath, the rival of Sir Robert Walpole, and the confederate with
Bolingbroke in opposing that minister. The 'Craftsman,' contained an
attack on Pulteney, written, with great ability, by Hervey. It provoked
a _Reply_ from Pulteney. In this composition he spoke of Hervey as 'a
thing below contempt,' and ridiculed his personal appearance in the
grossest terms. A duel was the result, the parties meeting behind
Arlington House, in Piccadilly, where Mr. Pulteney had the satisfaction
of almost running Lord Hervey through with his sword. Luckily the poor
man slipped down, so the blow was evaded, and the seconds interfered:
Mr. Pulteney then embraced Lord Hervey, and expressing his regret for
their quarrel, declared that he would never again, either in speech or
writing, attack his lordship. Lord Hervey only bowed, in silence; and
thus they parted.

The queen having observed what an alteration in the palace Lord Hervey's
death would cause, he said he could guess how it would be, and he
produced 'The Death of Lord Hervey; or, a Morning at Court; a Drama:'
the idea being taken it is thought, from Swift's verses on his own
death, of which Hervey might have seen a surreptitious copy. The
following scene will give some idea of the plot and structure of this
amusing little piece. The part allotted to the Princess Caroline is in
unison with the idea prevalent of her attachment to Lord Hervey:--


     SCENE: _The Queen's Gallery. The time, nine in the

     _followed by_ LORD LIFFORD, _and_ MRS. PURCEL.

     _Queen._ Mon Dieu, quelle chaleur! en vérité on étouffe. Pray
     open a little those windows.

     _Lord Lifford._ Hasa your Majesty heara de news?

     _Queen._ What news, my dear Lord?

     _Lord Lifford._ Dat my Lord Hervey, as he was coming last night
     to _tone_, was rob and murdered by highwaymen and tron in a

     _Princess Caroline._ Eh! grand Dieu!

     _Queen_ [_striking her hand upon her knee._] Comment est-il
     véritablement mort? Purcel, my angel, shall I not have a little

     _Mrs. Purcel._ What would your Majesty please to have?

     _Queen._ A little chocolate, my soul, if you give me leave, and a
     little sour cream, and some fruit.      [_Exit_ MRS. PURCEL.

     _Queen_ [_to Lord Lifford._] Eh bien! my Lord Lifford, dites-nous
     un peu comment cela est arrivé. I cannot imagine what he had to
     do to be putting his nose there. Seulement pour un sot voyage
     avec ce petit mousse, eh bien?

     _Lord Lifford._ Madame, on scait quelque chose de celui de Mon.
     Maran, qui d'abord qu'il a vu les voleurs s'est enfin venu à
     grand galoppe à Londres, and after dat a waggoner take up the
     body and put it in his cart.

     _Queen._ [_to_ PRINCESS EMILY.] Are you not ashamed,
     Amalie, to laugh?

     _Princess Emily._ I only laughed at the cart, mamma.

     _Queen._ Oh! that is a very fade plaisanterie.

     _Princess Emily._ But if I may say it, mamma, I am not very

     _Queen._ Oh! fie donc! Eh bien! my Lord Lifford! My God! where is
     this chocolate, Purcel?

As Mr. Croker remarks, Queen Caroline's breakfast-table, and her
parentheses, reminds one of the card-table conversation of Swift:--

    'The Dean's dead: (pray what are trumps?)
     Then Lord have mercy on his soul!
     (Ladies, I'll venture for the vole.)
     Six Deans, they say, must bear the pall;
     (I wish I knew what king to call.)'

Fragile as was Lord Hervey's constitution, it was his lot to witness the
death-bed of the queen, for whose amusement he had penned the jeu
d'esprit just quoted, in which there was, perhaps, as much truth as wit.

The wretched Queen Caroline had, during fourteen years, concealed from
every one, except Lady Sundon, an incurable disorder, that of hernia. In
November (1737) she was attacked with what we should now call English
cholera. Dr. Tessier, her house-physician, was called in, and gave her
Daffey's elixir, which was not likely to afford any relief to the
deep-seated cause of her sufferings. She held a drawing-room that night
for the last time, and played at cards, even cheerfully. At length she
whispered to Lord Hervey, 'I am not able to entertain people.' 'For
heaven's sake, madam,' was the reply, 'go to your room: would to heaven
the king would leave off talking of the Dragon of Wantley, and release
you!' The Dragon of Wantley was a burlesque on the Italian opera, by
Henry Carey, and was the theme of the fashionable world.

The next day the queen was in fearful agony, very hot, and willing to
take anything proposed. Still she did not, even to Lord Hervey, avow the
real cause of her illness. None of the most learned court physicians,
neither Mead nor Wilmot, were called in. Lord Hervey sat by the queen's
bed-side, and tried to soothe her, whilst the Princess Caroline joined in
begging him to give her mother something to relieve her agony. At
length, in utter ignorance of the case, it was proposed to give her some
snakeroot, a stimulant, and, at the same time, Sir Walter Raleigh's
cordial; so singular was it thus to find that great mind still
influencing a court. It was that very medicine which was administered by
Queen Anne of Denmark, however, to Prince Henry; that medicine which
Raleigh said, 'would cure him, or any other, of a disease, except in
case of poison.'

However, Ranby, house-surgeon to the king, and a favourite of Lord
Hervey's, assuring him that a cordial with this name or that name was
mere quackery, some usquebaugh was given instead, but was rejected by
the queen soon afterwards. At last Raleigh's cordial was administered,
but also rejected about an hour afterwards. Her fever, after taking
Raleigh's cordial, was so much increased, that she was ordered instantly
to be bled.

Then, even, the queen never disclosed the fact that could alone dictate
the course to be pursued. George II., with more feeling than judgment,
slept on the outside of the queen's bed all that night; so that the
unhappy invalid could get no rest, nor change her position, not daring
to irritate the king's temper.

The next day the queen said touchingly to her gentle, affectionate
daughter, herself in declining health, 'Poor Caroline! you are very ill,
too: we shall soon meet again in another place.'

Meantime, though the queen declared to every one that she was sure
nothing could save her, it was resolved to hold a _levée_. The foreign
ministers were to come to court, and the king, in the midst of his real
grief, did not forget to send word to his pages to be sure to have his
last new ruffles sewed on the shirt he was to put on that day; a trifle
which often, as Lord Hervey remarks, shows more of the real character
than events of importance, from which one frequently knows no more of a
person's state of mind than one does of his natural gait from his

Lady Sundon was, meantime, ill at Bath, so that the queen's secret
rested alone in her own heart. 'I have an ill,' she said, one evening,
to her daughter Caroline, 'that nobody knows of.' Still, neither the
princess nor Lord Hervey could guess at the full meaning of that sad

The famous Sir Hans Sloane was then called in; but no remedy except
large and repeated bleedings were suggested, and blisters were put on
her legs. There seems to have been no means left untried by the faculty
to hasten the catastrophe--thus working in the dark.

The king now sat up with her whom he had so cruelly wounded in every
nice feeling. On being asked, by Lord Hervey, what was to be done in
case the Prince of Wales should come to inquire after the queen, he
answered in the following terms, worthy of his ancestry--worthy of
himself. It is difficult to say which was the most painful scene, that
in the chamber where the queen lay in agony, or without, where the
curse of family dissensions came like a ghoul to hover near the bed of
death, and to gloat over the royal corpse. This was the royal
dictum:--'If the puppy should, in one of his impertinent airs of duty
and affection, dare to come to St. James's, I order you to go to the
scoundrel, and tell him I wonder at his impudence for daring to come
here; that he has my orders already, and knows my pleasure, and bid him
go about his business; for his poor mother is not in a condition to see
him act his false, whining, cringing tricks now, nor am I in a humour to
bear with his impertinence; and bid him trouble me with no more
messages, but get out of my house.'

In the evening, whilst Lord Hervey sat at tea in the queen's outer
apartment with the Duke of Cumberland, a page came to the duke to speak
to the prince in the passage. It was to prefer a request to see his
mother. This message was conveyed by Lord Hervey to the king, whose
reply was uttered in the most vehement rage possible. 'This,' said he,
'is like one of his scoundrel tricks; it is just of a piece with his
kneeling down in the dirt before the mob to kiss her hand at the coach
door when she came home from Hampton Court to see the Princess, though
he had not spoken one word to her during her whole visit. I always hated
the rascal, but now I hate him worse than ever. He wants to come and
insult his poor dying mother; but she shall not see him: you have heard
her, and all my daughters have heard her, very often this year at
Hampton Court desire me if she should be ill, and out of her senses,
that I would never let him come near her; and whilst she had her senses
she was sure she should never desire it. No, no! he shall not come and
act any of his silly plays here.'

In the afternoon the queen said to the king, she wondered the _Griff_, a
nickname she gave to the prince, had not sent to inquire after her yet;
it would be so like one of his _paroitres_. 'Sooner or later,' she
added, 'I am sure we shall be plagued with some message of that sort,
because he will think it will have a good air in the world to ask to see
me; and, perhaps, hopes I shall be fool enough to let him come, and give
him the pleasure of seeing the last breath go out of my body, by which
means he would have the joy of knowing I was dead five minutes sooner
than he could know it in Pall Mall.'

She afterwards declared that nothing would induce her to see him except
the king's absolute commands. 'Therefore, if I grow worse,' she said,
'and should I be weak enough to talk of seeing him, I beg you, sir, to
conclude that I doat--or rave.'

The king, who had long since guessed at the queen's disease, urged her
now to permit him to name it to her physicians. She begged him not to do
so; and for the first time, and the last, the unhappy woman spoke
peevishly and warmly. Then Ranby, the house-surgeon, who had by this
time discovered the truth, said, 'There is no more time to be lost; your
majesty has concealed the truth too long: I beg another surgeon may be
called in immediately.'

The queen, who had, in her passion, started up in her bed, lay down
again, turned her head on the other side, and, as the king told Lord
Hervey, 'shed the only tear he ever saw her shed whilst she was ill.'

At length, too late, other and more sensible means were resorted to: but
the queen's strength was failing fast. It must have been a strange scene
in that chamber of death. Much as the king really grieved for the
queen's state, he was still sufficiently collected to grieve also lest
Richmond Lodge, which was settled on the queen, should go to the hated
_Griff_:[22] and he actually sent Lord Hervey to the lord chancellor to
inquire about that point. It was decided that the queen could make a
will, so the king informed her of his inquiries, in order to set her
mind at ease, and to assure her it was impossible that the prince could
in any way benefit pecuniarily from her death. The Princess Emily now
sat up with her mother. The king went to bed. The Princess Caroline
slept on a couch in the antechamber, and Lord Hervey lay on a mattress
on the floor at the foot of the Princess Caroline's couch.

On the following day (four after the first attack) mortification came
on, and the weeping Princess Caroline and Lord Hervey were informed that
the queen could not hold out many hours. Hervey was ordered to
withdraw. The king, the Duke of Cumberland, and the queen's four
daughters alone remained, the queen begging them not to leave her until
she expired; yet her life was prolonged many days.

When alone with her family, she took from her finger a ruby ring, which
had been placed on it at the time of the coronation, and gave it to the
king. 'This is the last thing,' she said, 'I have to give you; naked I
came to you, and naked I go from you; I had everything I ever possessed
from you, and to you whatever I have I return.' She then asked for her
keys, and gave them to the king. To the Princess Caroline she intrusted
the care of her younger sisters; to the Duke of Cumberland, that of
keeping up the credit of the family. 'Attempt nothing against your
brother, and endeavour to mortify him by showing superior merit,' she
said to him. She advised the king to marry again; he heard her in sobs,
and with much difficulty got out this sentence: '_Non, j'aurai des
maitresses_' To which the queen made no other reply than '_Ah, mon Dieu!
cela n'empêche pas._' 'I know,' says Lord Hervey, in his Memoirs, 'that
this episode will hardly be credited, but it is literally true.'

She then fancied she could sleep. The king kissed her, and wept over
her; yet when she asked for her watch, which hung near the chimney, that
she might give him the seal to take care of, his brutal temper broke
forth. In the midst of his tears he called out, in a loud voice, 'Let it
alone! _mon Dieu!_ the queen has such strange fancies; who should meddle
with your seal? It is as safe there as in my pocket.'

The queen then thought she could sleep, and, in fact, sank to rest. She
felt refreshed on awakening and said, 'I wish it was over; it is only a
reprieve to make me suffer a little longer; I cannot recover, but my
nasty heart will not break yet.' She had an impression that she should
die on a Wednesday: she had, she said, been born on a Wednesday, married
on a Wednesday, crowned on a Wednesday, her first child was born on a
Wednesday, and she had heard of the late king's death on a Wednesday.

On the ensuing day she saw Sir Robert Walpole. 'My good Sir Robert,'
she thus addressed him, 'you see me in a very indifferent situation. I
have nothing to say to you but to recommend the king, my children, and
the kingdom to your care.'

Lord Hervey, when the minister retired, asked him what he thought of the
queen's state.

'My lord,' was the reply, 'she is as much dead as if she was in her
coffin; if ever I heard a corpse speak, it was just now in that room!'

It was a sad, an awful death-bed. The Prince of Wales having sent to
inquire after the health of his dying mother, the queen became uneasy
lest he should hear the true state of her case, asking 'if no one would
send those ravens,' meaning the prince's attendants, out of the house.
'They were only,' she said, 'watching her death, and would gladly tear
her to pieces whilst she was alive.' Whilst thus she spoke of her son's
courtiers, that son was sitting up all night in his house in Pall Mall,
and saying, when any messenger came in from St. James's, 'Well, sure, we
shall soon have good news, she cannot hold out much longer.' And the
princesses were writing letters to prevent the Princess Royal from
coming to England, where she was certain to meet with brutal unkindness
from her father, who could not endure to be put to any expense. Orders
were, indeed, sent to stop her if she set out. She came, however, on
pretence of taking the Bath waters; but George II., furious at her
disobedience, obliged her to go direct to and from Bath without
stopping, and never forgave her.

Notwithstanding her predictions, the queen survived the fatal Wednesday.
Until this time no prelate had been called in to pray by her majesty,
nor to administer the Holy Communion and as people about the court began
to be scandalized by this omission, Sir Robert Walpole advised that the
Archbishop of Canterbury should be sent for: his opinion was couched in
the following terms, characteristic at once of the man, the times, and
the court:--

'Pray, madam,' he said to the Princess Emily, 'let this farce be played;
the archbishop will act it very well. You may bid him be as short as you
will: it will do the queen no hurt, no more than any good; and it will
satisfy all the wise and good fools, who will call us atheists if we
don't pretend to be as great fools as they are.'

Unhappily, Lord Hervey, who relates this anecdote, was himself an
unbeliever; yet the scoffing tone adopted by Sir Robert seems to have
shocked even him.

In consequence of this advice, Archbishop Potter prayed by the queen
morning and evening, the king always quitting the room when his grace
entered it. Her children, however, knelt by her bedside. Still the
whisperers who censured were unsatisfied--the concession was thrown
away. Why did not the queen receive the communion? Was it, as the world
believed, either 'that she had reasoned herself into a very low and cold
assent to Christianity?' or 'that she was heterodox?' or 'that the
archbishop refused to administer the sacrament until she should be
reconciled to her son?' Even Lord Hervey, who rarely left the
antechamber, has only by his silence proved that she did _not_ take the
communion. That antechamber was crowded with persons who, as the prelate
left the chamber of death, crowded around, eagerly asking, 'Has the
queen received?' 'Her majesty,' was the evasive reply, 'is in a heavenly
disposition:' the public were thus deceived. Among those who were near
the queen at this solemn hour was Dr. Butler, author of the 'Analogy.'
He had been made clerk of the closet, and became, after the queen's
death, Bishop of Bristol. He was in a remote living in Durham, when the
queen, remembering that it was long since she had heard of him, asked
the Archbishop of York 'whether Dr. Butler was dead?'--'No, madam,'
replied that prelate (Dr. Blackburn), 'but he is buried;' upon which she
had sent for him to court. Yet he was not courageous enough, it seems,
to speak to her of her son and of the duty of reconciliation; whether
she ever sent the prince any message or not is uncertain; Lord Hervey is
silent on that point, so that it is to be feared that Lord
Chesterfield's line--

    'And, unforgiving, unforgiven, dies!'

had but too sure a foundation in fact; so that Pope's sarcastic verses--

    'Hang the sad verse on Carolina's urn,
     And hail her passage to the realms of rest;
     All _parts performed_ and _all_ her children blest,'

may have been but too just, though cruelly bitter. The queen lingered
till the 20th of November. During that interval of agony her consort was
perpetually boasting to every one of her virtues, her sense, her
patience, her softness, her delicacy; and ending with the praise,
'_Comme elle soutenoit sa dignité avec grace, avec politesse, avec
douceur!_' Nevertheless he scarcely ever went into her room. Lord Hervey
states that he did, even in this moving situation, _snub_ her for
something or other she did or said. One morning, as she lay with her
eyes fixed on a point in the air, as people sometimes do when they want
to keep their thoughts from wandering, the king coarsely told her 'she
looked like a calf which had just had its throat cut.' He expected her
to die in state. Then, with all his bursts of tenderness he always
mingled his own praises, hinting that though she was a good wife he knew
he had deserved a good one, and remarking, when he extolled her
understanding, that he did not 'think it the worse for her having kept
him company so many years.' To all this Lord Hervey listened with,
doubtless, well-concealed disgust; for cabals were even then forming for
the future influence that might or might not be obtained.

The queen's life, meantime, was softly ebbing away in this atmosphere of
selfishness, brutality, and unbelief. One evening she asked Dr. Tessier
impatiently how long her state might continue.

'Your Majesty,' was the reply, 'will soon be released.'

'So much the better,' the queen calmly answered.

At ten o'clock that night, whilst the king lay at the foot of her bed,
on the floor, and the Princess Emily on a couch-bed in the room, the
fearful death-rattle in the throat was heard. Mrs. Purcell, her chief
and old attendant, gave the alarm: the Princess Caroline and Lord Hervey
were sent for; but the princess was too late, her mother had expired
before she arrived. All the dying queen said was, 'I have now got an
asthma; open the window:' then she added, '_Pray!_' That was her last
word. As the Princess Emily began to read some prayers, the sufferer
breathed her last sigh. The Princess Caroline held a looking-glass to
her lips, and finding there was no damp on it, said, ''Tis over!' Yet
she shed not one tear upon the arrival of that event, the prospect of
which had cost her so many heartrending sobs.

The king kissed the lifeless face and hands of his often-injured wife,
and then retired to his own apartment, ordering that a page should sit
up with him for that and several other nights, for his Majesty was
afraid of apparitions, and feared to be left alone. He caused himself,
however, to be buried by the side of his queen, in Henry VII.'s chapel,
and ordered that one side of his coffin and of hers should be withdrawn;
and in that state the two coffins were discovered not many years ago.

With the death of Queen Caroline, Lord Hervey's life, as to court, was
changed. He was afterwards made lord privy seal, and had consequently to
enter the political world, with the disadvantage of knowing that much
was expected from a man of so high a reputation for wit and learning. He
was violently opposed by Pelham, Duke of Newcastle, who had been adverse
to his entering the ministry, and since, with Walpole's favour, it was
impossible to injure him by fair means, it was resolved to oppose Lord
Hervey by foul ones. One evening, when he was to speak, a party of
fashionable Amazons, with two duchesses--her grace of Queensberry and
her grace of Ancaster--at their head, stormed the House of Lords and
disturbed the debate with noisy laughter and sneers. Poor Lord Hervey
was completely daunted, and spoke miserably. After Sir Robert Walpole's
fall Lord Hervey retired. The following letter from him to Lady Mary
Wortley Montagu fully describes his position and circumstances:--

'I must now,' he writes to her, 'since you take so friendly a part in
what concerns me, give you a short account of my natural and political
health; and when I say I am still alive, and still privy seal, it is all
I can say for the pleasure of one or the honour of the other; for since
Lord Orford's retiring, as I am too proud to offer my service and
friendship where I am not sure they will be accepted of, and too
inconsiderable to have those advances made to me (though I never forgot
or failed to return any obligation I ever received), so I remain as
illustrious a nothing in this office as ever filled it since it was
erected. There is one benefit, however, I enjoy from this loss of my
court interest, which is, that all those flies which were buzzing about
me in the summer sunshine and full ripeness of that interest, have all
deserted its autumnal decay, and from thinking my natural death not far
off, and my political demise already over, have all forgot the death-bed
of the one and the coffin of the other.'

Again he wrote to her a characteristic letter:--

'I have been confined these three weeks by a fever, which is a sort of
annual tax my detestable constitution pays to our detestable climate at
the return of every spring; it is now much abated, though not quite gone

He was long a helpless invalid; and on the 8th of August, 1743, his
short, unprofitable, brilliant, unhappy life was closed. He died at
Ickworth, attended and deplored by his wife, who had ever held a
secondary part in the heart of the great wit and beau of the court of
George II. After his death his son George returned to Lady Mary all the
letters she had written to his father: the packet was sealed: an
assurance was at the same time given that they had not been read. In
acknowledging this act of attention, Lady Mary wrote that she could
almost regret that he had not glanced his eye over a correspondence
which might have shown him what so young a man might perhaps be inclined
to doubt--'the possibility of a long and steady friendship subsisting
between two persons of different sexes without the least mixture of

Nevertheless some expressions of Lord Hervey's seem to have bordered on
the tender style, when writing to Lady Mary in such terms as these. She
had complained that she was too old to inspire a passion (a sort of
challenge for a compliment), on which he wrote: 'I should think anybody
a great fool that said he liked spring better than summer, merely
because it is further from autumn, or that they loved green fruit better
than ripe only because it was further from being rotten. I ever did, and
believe ever shall, like woman best--

    '"Just in the noon of life--those golden days,
      When the mind ripens ere the form decays."'

Certainly this looks very unlike a pure Platonic, and it is not to be
wondered at that Lady Hervey refused to call on Lady Mary, when, long
after Lord Hervey's death, that fascinating woman returned to England. A
wit, a courtier at the very fount of all politeness, Lord Hervey wanted
the genuine source of all social qualities--Christianity. That moral
refrigerator which checks the kindly current of neighbourly kindness,
and which prevents all genial feeling from expanding, produced its usual
effect--misanthropy. Lord Hervey's lines, in his 'Satire after the
manner of Persius,' describe too well his own mental canker:--

    'Mankind I know, their motives and their art,
     Their vice their own, their virtue best apart,
     Till played so oft, that all the cheat can tell,
     And dangerous only when 'tis acted well.'

Lord Hervey left in the possession of his family a manuscript work,
consisting of memoirs of his own time, written in his own autograph,
which was clean and legible. This work, which has furnished many of the
anecdotes connected with his court life in the foregoing pages, was long
guarded from the eye of any but the Hervey family, owing to an
injunction given in his will by Augustus, third Earl of Bristol, Lord
Hervey's son, that it should not see the light until after the death of
his Majesty George III. It was not therefore published until 1848, when
they were edited by Mr. Croker. They are referred to both by Horace
Walpole, who had heard of them, if he had not seen them, and by Lord
Hailes, as affording the most intimate portraiture of a court that has
ever been presented to the English people. Such a delineation as Lord
Hervey has left ought to cause a sentiment of thankfulness in every
British heart for not being exposed to such influences, to such examples
as he gives, in the present day, when goodness, affection, purity,
benevolence, are the household deities of the court of our beloved,
inestimable Queen Victoria.


[Footnote 22: Prince Frederick.]


  The King of Table Wits.--Early Years.--Hervey's Description of his
      Person.--Resolutions and Pursuits.--Study of Oratory.--The
      Duties of an Ambassador.--King George II.'s Opinion of his
      Chroniclers.--Life in the Country.--Melusina, Countess of
      Walsingham.--George II. and his Father's Will.--Dissolving
      Views.--Madame du Bouchet.--The Broad-Bottomed
      Administration.--Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland in Time of
      Peril.--Reformation of the Calendar.--Chesterfield
      House.--Exclusiveness.--Recommending 'Johnson's
      Dictionary.'--'Old Samuel,' to Chesterfield.--Defensive
      Pride.--The Glass of Fashion.--Lord Scarborough's Friendship
      for Chesterfield.--The Death of Chesterfield's Son.--His
      Interest in his Grandsons.--'I must go and Rehearse my
      Funeral.'--Chesterfield's Will.--What is a Friend?--Les
      Manières Nobles.--Letters to his Son.

The subject of this memoir may be thought by some rather the modeller of
wits than the original of that class; the great critic and judge of
manners rather than the delight of the dinner-table: but we are told to
the contrary by one who loved him not. Lord Hervey says of Lord
Chesterfield that he was 'allowed by everybody to have more conversable
entertaining table-wit than any man of his time; his propensity to
ridicule, in which he indulged himself with infinite humour and no
distinction; and his inexhaustible spirits, and no discretion; made him
sought and feared--liked and not loved--by most of his acquaintance.'

This formidable personage was born in London on the 2nd day of
September, 1694. It was remarkable that the father of a man so
vivacious, should have been of a morose temper; all the wit and spirit
of intrigue displayed by him remind us of the frail Lady Chesterfield,
in the time of Charles II.[23]--that lady who was looked on as a martyr
because her husband was jealous of her: 'a prodigy,' says De Grammont,
'in the city of London,' where indulgent critics endeavoured to excuse
his lordship on account of his bad education, and mothers vowed that
none of their sons should ever set foot in Italy, lest they should
'bring back with them that infamous custom of laying restraint on their

Even Horace Walpole cites Chesterfield as the 'witty earl:' apropos to
an anecdote which he relates of an Italian lady, who said that she was
only four-and-twenty; 'I suppose,' said Lord Chesterfield, 'she means
four-and-twenty stone.'

By his father the future wit, historian, and orator was utterly
neglected; but his grandmother, the Marchioness of Halifax, supplied to
him the place of both parents, his mother--her daughter, Lady Elizabeth
Saville--having died in his childhood. At the age of eighteen,
Chesterfield, then Lord Stanhope, was entered at Trinity Hall,
Cambridge. It was one of the features of his character to fall at once
into the tone of the society into which he happened to be thrown. One
can hardly imagine his being 'an absolute pedant,' but such was,
actually, his own account of himself:--'When I talked my best, I quoted
Horace; when I aimed at being facetious, I quoted Martial; and when I
had a mind to be a fine gentleman, I talked Ovid. I was convinced that
none but the ancients had common sense; that the classics contained
everything that was either necessary, useful, or ornamental to men; and
I was not even without thoughts of wearing the toga virilis of the
Romans, instead of the vulgar and illiberal dress of the moderns.'

Thus, again, when in Paris, he caught the manners, as he had acquired
the language, of the Parisians. 'I shall not give you my opinion of the
French, because I am very often taken for one of them, and several have
paid me the highest compliment they think it in their power to
bestow--which is, "Sir, you are just like ourselves." I shall only tell
you that I am insolent; I talk a great deal; I am very loud and
peremptory; I sing and dance as I walk along; and, above all, I spend an
immense sum in hair-powder, feathers, and white gloves.'

Although he entered Parliament before he had attained the legal age,
and was expected to make a great figure in that assembly, Lord
Chesterfield preferred the reputation of a wit and a beau to any other
distinction. 'Call it vanity, if you will,' he wrote in after-life to
his son, 'and possibly it was so; but my great object was to make every
man and every woman love me. I often succeeded: but why? by taking great

According to Lord Hervey's account he often even sacrificed his interest
to his vanity. The description given of Lord Chesterfield by one as
bitter as himself implies, indeed, that great pains were requisite to
counterbalance the defects of nature. Wilkes, one of the ugliest men of
his time, used to say, that with an hour's start he would carry off the
affections of any woman from the handsomest man breathing. Lord
Chesterfield, according to Lord Hervey, required to be still longer in
advance of a rival.

'With a person,' Hervey writes, 'as disagreeable, as it was possible for
a human figure to be without being deformed, he affected following many
women of the first beauty and the most in fashion. He was very short,
disproportioned, thick and clumsily made; had a broad, rough-featured,
ugly face, with black teeth, and a head big enough for a Polyphemus. One
Ben Ashurst, who said a few good things, though admired for many, told
Lord Chesterfield once, that he was like a stunted giant--which was a
humorous idea and really apposite.'

Notwithstanding that Chesterfield, when young, injured both soul and
body by pleasure and dissipation, he always found time for serious
study: when he could not have it otherwise, he took it out of his sleep.
How late soever he went to bed, he resolved always to rise early; and
this resolution he adhered to so faithfully, that at the age of
fifty-eight he could declare that for more than forty years he had never
been in bed at nine o'clock in the morning, but had generally been up
before eight. He had the good sense, in this respect, not to exaggerate
even this homely virtue. He did not rise with the dawn, as many early
risers pride themselves in doing, putting all the engagements of
ordinary life out of their usual beat, just as if the clocks had been
set two hours forward. The man in ordinary society, who rises at four in
this country, and goes to bed at nine, is a social and family nuisance.
Strong good sense characterized Chesterfield's early pursuits. Desultory
reading he abhorred. He looked on it as one of the resources of age, but
as injurious to the young in the extreme. 'Throw away,' thus he writes
to his son, 'none of your time upon those trivial, futile books,
published by idle necessitous authors for the amusement of idle and
ignorant readers.'

Even in those days such books 'swarm and buzz about one:' 'flap them
away,' says Chesterfield, 'they have no sting.' The earl directed the
whole force of his mind to oratory, and became the finest speaker of his
time. Writing to Sir Horace Mann, about the Hanoverian debate (in 1743,
Dec. 15), Walpole praising the speeches of Lords Halifax and Sandwich,
adds, 'I was there, and heard Lord Chesterfield make the finest oration
I have ever heard there.' This from a man who had listened to Pulteney,
to Chatham, to Carteret, was a singularly valuable tribute.

Whilst a student at Cambridge, Chesterfield was forming an acquaintance
with the Hon. George Berkeley, the youngest son of the second Earl of
Berkeley, and remarkable rather as being the second husband of Lady
Suffolk, the favourite of George II., than from any merits or demerits
of his own.

This early intimacy probably brought Lord Chesterfield into the close
friendship which afterwards subsisted between him and Lady Suffolk, to
whom many of his letters are addressed.

His first public capacity was a diplomatic appointment: he afterwards
attained to the rank of an ambassador, whose duty it is, according to a
witticism of Sir Henry Wotton's '_to lie_ abroad for the good of his
country;' and no man was in this respect more competent to fulfil these
requirements than Chesterfield. Hating both wine and tobacco, he had
smoked and drunk at Cambridge, 'to be in the fashion;' he gamed at the
Hague, on the same principle; and, unhappily, gaming became a habit and
a passion. Yet never did he indulge it when acting, afterwards, in a
ministerial capacity. Neither when Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, or as
Under-secretary of State, did he allow a gaming-table in his house. On
the very night that he resigned office he went to _White's_.

The Hague was then a charming residence: among others who, from
political motives, were living there, were John Duke of Marlborough and
Queen Sarah, both of whom paid Chesterfield marked attention. Naturally
industrious, with a ready insight into character--a perfect master in
that art which bids us keep one's thoughts close, and our countenances
open, Chesterfield was admirably fitted for diplomacy. A master of
modern languages and of history, he soon began to like business. When in
England, he had been accused of having 'a need of a certain proportion
of talk in a day:' 'that,' he wrote to Lady Suffolk, 'is now changed
into a need of such a proportion of writing in a day.'

In 1728 he was promoted: being sent as ambassador to the Hague, where he
was popular, and where he believed his stay would be beneficial both to
soul and body, there being 'fewer temptations, and fewer opportunities
to sin,' as he wrote to Lady Suffolk, 'than in England.' Here his days
passed, he asserted, in doing the king's business, very ill--and his own
still worse:--sitting down daily to dinner with fourteen or fifteen
people; whilst at five the pleasures of the evening began with a lounge
on the Voorhoot, a public walk planted by Charles V.:--then, either a
very bad French play, or a '_reprise quadrille_,' with three ladies, the
youngest of them fifty, and the chance of losing, perhaps, three florins
(besides one's time)--lasted till ten o'clock; at which time 'His
Excellency' went home, 'reflecting with satisfaction on the innocent
amusements of a well-spent day, that left nothing behind them,' and
retired to bed at eleven, 'with the testimony of a good conscience.'

All, however, of Chesterfield's time was not passed in this serene
dissipation. He began to compose 'The History of the Reign of George
II.' at this period. About only half a dozen chapters were written. The
intention was not confined to Chesterfield: Carteret and Bolingbroke
entertained a similar design, which was completed by neither. When the
subject was broached before George II., he thus expressed himself; and
his remarks are the more amusing as they were addressed to Lord Hervey,
who was, at that very moment, making his notes for that bitter chronicle
of his majesty's reign, which has been ushered into the world by the
late Wilson Croker--'They will all three,' said King George II., 'have
about as much truth in them as the _Mille et Une Nuits_. Not but I shall
like to read Bolingbroke's, who of all those rascals and knaves that
have been lying against me these ten years has certainly the best parts,
and the most knowledge. He is a scoundrel, but he is a scoundrel of a
higher class than Chesterfield. Chesterfield is a little, tea-table
scoundrel, that tells little womanish lies to make quarrels in families:
and tries to make women lose their reputations, and make their husbands
beat them, without any object but to give himself airs; as if anybody
could believe a woman could like a dwarf baboon.'

Lord Hervey gave the preference to Bolingbroke; stating as his reason,
that 'though Lord Bolingbroke had no idea of wit, his satire was keener
than any one's. Lord Chesterfield, on the other hand, would have a great
deal of wit in them; but, in every page you see he intended to be witty:
every paragraph would be an epigram. _Polish_, he declared, would be his
bane;' and Lord Hervey was perfectly right.

In 1732 Lord Chesterfield was obliged to retire from his embassy on the
plea of ill-health, but probably, from some political cause. He was in
the opposition against Sir Robert Walpole in the Excise Bill; and felt
the displeasure of that all-powerful minister by being dismissed from
his office of High Steward.

Being badly received at court he now lived in the country; sometimes at
Buxton, where his father drank the waters, where he had his recreations,
when not persecuted by two young brothers. Sir William Stanhope and John
Stanhope, one of whom performed 'tolerably ill upon a broken hautboy,
and the other something worse upon a cracked flute.' There he won three
half-crowns from the curate of the place, and a shilling from 'Gaffer
Foxeley' at a cock-match. Sometimes he sought relaxation in Scarborough,
where fashionable beaux 'danced with the pretty ladies all night,' and
hundreds of Yorkshire country bumpkins 'played the inferior parts; and,
as it were, only tumble, whilst the others dance upon the high ropes of
gallantry.' Scarborough was full of Jacobites: the popular feeling was
then all rife against Sir Robert Walpole's excise scheme. Lord
Chesterfield thus wittily satirized that famous measure:--

'The people of this town are, at present, in great consternation upon a
report they have heard from London, which, if true, they think will ruin
them. They are informed, that considering the vast consumption of these
waters, there is a design laid of _excising_ them next session; and,
moreover, that as bathing in the sea is become the general practice of
both sexes, and as the kings of England have always been allowed to be
masters of the seas, every person so bathing shall be gauged, and pay so
much per foot square, as their cubical bulk amounts to.'

In 1733, Lord Chesterfield married Melusina, the supposed niece, but, in
fact, the daughter of the Duchess of Kendal, the mistress of George I.
This lady was presumed to be a great heiress, from the dominion which
her mother had over the king. Melusina had been created (for life)
Baroness of Aldborough, county Suffolk, and Countess of Walsingham,
county Norfolk, nine years previous to her marriage.

Her father being George I., as Horace Walpole terms him, 'rather a good
sort of man than a shining king,' and her mother 'being no genius,'
there was probably no great attraction about Lady Walsingham, except her
expected dowry.

During her girlhood Melusina resided in the apartments at St.
James's--opening into the garden; and here Horace Walpole describes his
seeing George I., in the rooms appropriated to the Duchess of Kendal,
next to those of Melusina Schulemberg, or, as she was then called, the
Countess of Walsingham. The Duchess of Kendal was then very 'lean and
ill-favoured.' 'Just before her,' says Horace, 'stood a tall, elderly
man, rather pale, of an aspect rather good-natured than august: in a
dark tie-wig, a plain coat, waistcoat, and breeches of snuff-coloured
cloth, with stockings of the same colour, and a blue riband over all.
That was George I.'

[Illustration: A ROYAL ROBBER.]

The Duchess of Kendal had been maid of honour to the Electress
Sophia, the mother of George I. and the daughter of Elizabeth of
Bohemia. The duchess was always frightful; so much so that one night the
electress, who had acquired a little English, said to Mrs. Howard,
afterwards Lady Suffolk,--glancing at Mademoiselle Schulemberg--'Look at
that _mawkin_, and think of her being my son's passion!'

The duchess, however, like all the Hanoverians, knew how to profit by
royal preference. She took bribes:--she had a settlement of £3,000 a
year. But her daughter was eventually disappointed of the expected
bequest from her father, the king.[24]

In the apartments at St. James's Lord Chesterfield for some time lived,
when he was not engaged in office abroad; and there he dissipated large
sums in play. It was here, too, that Queen Caroline, the wife of George
II., detected the intimacy that existed between Chesterfield and Lady
Suffolk. There was an obscure window in Queen Caroline's apartments,
which looked into a dark passage, lighted only by a single lamp at
night. One Twelfth Night Lord Chesterfield, having won a large sum at
cards, deposited it with Lady Suffolk, thinking it not safe to carry it
home at night. He was watched, and his intimacy with the mistress of
George II. thereupon inferred. Thenceforth he could obtain no court
influence; and, in desperation, he went into the opposition.

On the death of George I., a singular scene, with which Lord
Chesterfield's interests were connected, occurred in the Privy Council.
Dr Wake, Archbishop of Canterbury, produced the king's will, and
delivered it to his successor, expecting that it would be opened and
read in the council; what was his consternation, when his Majesty,
without saying a word, put it into his pocket, and stalked out of the
room with real German imperturbability! Neither the astounded prelate
nor the subservient council ventured to utter a word. The will was never
more heard of: and rumour declared that it was burnt. The contents, of
course, never transpired; and the legacy of £40,000, said to have been
left to the Duchess of Kendal, was never more spoken of, until Lord
Chesterfield, in 1733, married the Countess of Walsingham. In 1743, it
is said, he claimed the legacy--in right of his wife--the Duchess of
Kendal being then dead: and was 'quieted' with £20,000, and got, as
Horace Walpole observes, nothing from the duchess--'except his wife.'

The only excuse that was urged to extenuate this act on the part of
George II., was that his royal father had burned two wills which had
been made in his favour. These were supposed to be the wills of the Duke
and Duchess of Zell and of the Electress Sophia. There was not even
common honesty in the house of Hanover at that period.

Disappointed in his wife's fortune, Lord Chesterfield seems to have
cared very little for the disappointed heiress. Their union was
childless. His opinion of marriage appears very much to have coincided
with that of the world of malcontents who rush, in the present day, to
the court of Judge Cresswell, with 'dissolving views.' On one occasion
he writes thus: 'I have at last done the best office that can be done to
most married people; that is, I have fixed the separation between my
brother and his wife, and the definitive treaty of peace will be
proclaimed in about a fortnight.'

Horace Walpole related the following anecdote of Sir William Stanhope
(Chesterfield's brother) and his lady, whom he calls 'a fond couple.'
After their return from Paris, when they arrived at Lord Chesterfield's
house at Blackheath, Sir William, who had, like his brother, a cutting,
polite wit, that was probably expressed with the 'allowed simper' of
Lord Chesterfield, got out of the chaise and said, with a low bow,
'Madame, I hope I shall never see your face again.' She replied, 'Sir, I
will take care that you never shall;' and so they parted.

There was little probability of Lord Chesterfield's participating in
domestic felicity, when neither his heart nor his fancy were engaged in
the union which he had formed. The lady to whom he was really attached,
and by whom he had a son, resided in the Netherlands: she passed by the
name of Madame du Bouchet, and survived both Lord Chesterfield and her
son. A permanent provision was made for her, and a sum of five hundred
pounds bequeathed to her, with these words: 'as a small reparation for
the injury I did her.' 'Certainly,' adds Lord Mahon, in his Memoir of
his illustrious ancestor, 'a small one.'

For some time Lord Chesterfield remained in England, and his letters are
dated from Bath, from Tonbridge, from Blackheath. He had, in 1726, been
elevated to the House of Lords upon the death of his father. In that
assembly his great eloquence is thus well described by his

'Lord Chesterfield's eloquence, the fruit of much study, was less
characterized by force and compass than by elegance and perspicuity, and
especially by good taste and urbanity, and a vein of delicate irony
which, while it sometimes inflicted severe strokes, never passed the
limits of decency and propriety. It was that of a man who, in the union
of wit and good sense with politeness, had not a competitor. These
qualities were matured by the advantage which he assiduously sought and
obtained, of a familiar acquaintance with almost all the eminent wits
and writers of his time, many of whom had been the ornaments of a
preceding age of literature, while others were destined to become those
of a later period.'

The accession of George II., to whose court Lord Chesterfield had been
attached for many years, brought him no political preferment. The court
had, however, its attractions even for one who owed his polish to the
belles of Paris, and who was almost always, in taste and manners, more
foreign than English. Henrietta, Lady Pomfret, the daughter and heiress
of John, Lord Jeffreys, the son of Judge Jeffreys, was at that time the
leader of fashion.

Six daughters, one of them, Lady Sophia, surpassingly lovely recalled
the perfections of that ancestress, Arabella Fermor whose charms Pope
has so exquisitely touched in the 'Rape of the Lock.' Lady Sophia became
eventually the wife of Lord Carteret, the minister, whose talents and
the charms of whose eloquence constituted him a sort of rival to
Chesterfield. With all his abilities, Lord Chesterfield may be said to
have failed both as a courtier and as a political character, as far as
permanent influence in any ministry was concerned, until in 1744, when
what was called the 'Broad-bottomed administration' was formed, when he
was admitted into the cabinet. In the following year, however, he went,
for the last time, to Holland, as ambassador, and succeeded beyond the
expectations of his party in the purposes of his embassy. He took leave
of the States-General just before the battle of Fontenoy, and hastened
to Ireland, where he had been nominated Lord-Lieutenant previous to his
journey to Holland. He remained in that country only a year; but long
enough to prove how liberal were his views--how kindly the dispositions
of his heart.

Only a few years before Lord Chesterfield's arrival in Dublin, the Duke
of Shrewsbury had given as a reason for accepting the vice-regency of
that country, (of which King James I. had said, there was 'more ado'
than with any of his dominions,) 'that it was a place where a man had
business enough to keep him from falling asleep, and not enough to keep
him awake.'

Chesterfield, however, was not of that opinion. He did more in one year
than the duke would have accomplished in five. He began by instituting a
principle of impartial justice. Formerly, Protestants had alone been
employed as 'managers;' the Lieutenant was to see with Protestant eyes,
to hear with Protestant ears.

'I have determined to proscribe no set of persons whatever,' says
Chesterfield, 'and determined to be governed by none. Had the Papists
made any attempt to put themselves above the law, I should have taken
good care to have quelled them again. It was said my lenity to the
Papists had wrought no alteration either in their religious or their
political sentiments. I did not expect that it would: but surely that
was no reason for cruelty towards them.'

Often by a timely jest Chesterfield conveyed a hint, or even shrouded a
reproof. One of the ultra-zealous informed him that his coachman was a
Papist, and went every Sunday to mass. 'Does he indeed? I will take care
he never drives me there,' was Chesterfield's cool reply.

It was at this critical period, when the Hanoverian dynasty was shaken
almost to its downfall by the insurrection in Scotland of 1745, that
Ireland was imperilled: 'With a weak or wavering, or a fierce and
headlong Lord-Lieutenant--with a Grafton or a Strafford,' remarks Lord
Mahon, 'there would soon have been a simultaneous rising in the Emerald
Isle.' But Chesterfield's energy, his lenity, his wise and just
administration saved the Irish from being excited into rebellion by the
emissaries of Charles Edward, or slaughtered, when conquered, by the
'Butcher,' and his tiger-like dragoons. When all was over, and that sad
page of history in which the deaths of so many faithful adherents of the
exiled family are recorded, had been held up to the gaze of bleeding
Caledonia, Chesterfield recommended mild measures, and advised the
establishment of schools in the Highlands; but the age was too
narrow-minded to adopt his views. In January, 1748, Chesterfield retired
from public life. 'Could I do any good,' he wrote to a friend, 'I would
sacrifice some more quiet to it; but convinced as I am that I can do
none, I will indulge my ease, and preserve my character. I have gone
through pleasures while my constitution and my spirits would allow me.
Business succeeded them; and I have now gone through every part of it
without liking it at all the better for being acquainted with it. Like
many other things, it is most admired by those who know it least.... I
have been behind the scenes both of pleasure and business; I have seen
all the coarse pulleys and dirty ropes which exhibit and move all the
gaudy machines; and I have seen and smelt the tallow candles which
illuminate the whole decoration, to the astonishment and admiration of
the ignorant multitude.... My horse, my books, and my friends will
divide my time pretty equally.'

He still interested himself in what was useful; and carried a Bill in
the House of Lords for the Reformation of the Calendar, in 1751. It
seems a small matter for so great a mind as his to accomplish, but it
was an achievement of infinite difficulty. Many statesmen had shrunk
from the undertaking; and even Chesterfield found it essential to
prepare the public, by writing in some periodical papers on the subject.
Nevertheless the vulgar outcry was vehement: 'Give us back the eleven
days we have been robbed of!' cried the mob at a general election. When
Bradley was dying, the common people ascribed his sufferings to a
judgment for the part he had taken in that 'impious transaction,' the
alteration of the calendar. But they were not less _bornés_ in their
notions than the Duke of Newcastle, then prime minister. Upon Lord
Chesterfield giving him notice of his Bill, that bustling premier, who
had been in a hurry for forty years, who never 'walked but always ran,'
greatly alarmed, begged Chesterfield not to stir matters that had been
long quiet; adding, that he did not like 'new-fangled things.' He was,
as we have seen, overruled, and henceforth the New Style was adopted;
and no special calamity has fallen on the nation, as was expected, in
consequence. Nevertheless, after Chesterfield had made his speech in the
House of Lords, and when every one had complimented him on the clearness
of his explanation--'God knows,' he wrote to his son, 'I had not even
attempted to explain the Bill to them; I might as soon have talked
Celtic or Sclavonic to them as astronomy. They would have understood it
full as well.' So much for the 'Lords' in those days!

After his _furore_ for politics had subsided, Chesterfield returned to
his ancient passion for play. We must linger a little over the still
brilliant period of his middle life, whilst his hearing was spared;
whilst his wit remained, and the charming manners on which he had formed
a science, continued; and before we see him in the mournful decline of a
life wholly given to the world.

He had now established himself in Chesterfield House. Hitherto his
progenitors had been satisfied with Bloomsbury Square, in which the Lord
Chesterfield mentioned by De Grammont resided; but the accomplished
Chesterfield chose a site near Audley Street, which had been built on
what was called Mr. Audley's land, lying between Great Brook Field and
the 'Shoulder of Mutton Field.' And near this locality with the elegant
name, Chesterfield chose his spot, for which he had to wrangle and fight
with the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, who asked an exorbitant sum
for the ground. Isaac Ware, the editor of 'Palladio,' was the architect
to whom the erection of this handsome residence was intrusted. Happily
it is still untouched by any _renovating_ hand. Chesterfield's favourite
apartments, looking on the most spacious private garden in London, are
just as they were in his time; one especially, which he termed the
'finest room in London,' was furnished and decorated by him. 'The
walls,' says a writer in the 'Quarterly Review,' 'are covered half way
up with rich and classical stores of literature; above the cases are in
close series the portraits of eminent authors, French and English, with
most of whom he had conversed; over these, and immediately under the
massive cornice, extend all round in foot-long capitals the Horatian

    'Nunc . veterum . libris . Nunc . somno . et . inertibus . Horis.
     Lucen . solicter . jucunda . oblivia . vitea.

'On the mantel-pieces and cabinets stand busts of old orators,
interspersed with voluptuous vases and bronzes, antique or Italian, and
airy statuettes in marble or alabaster of nude or semi-nude opera

What Chesterfield called the 'cannonical pillars' of the house were
columns brought from Cannons, near Edgeware, the seat of the Duke of
Chandos. The antechamber of Chesterfield House has been erroneously
stated as the room in which Johnson waited the great lord's pleasure.
That state of endurance was probably passed by 'Old Samuel' in

In this stately abode--one of the few, the very few, that seem to hold
_noblesse_ apart in our levelling metropolis--Chesterfield held his
assemblies of all that London, or indeed England, Paris, the Hague, or
Vienna, could furnish of what was polite and charming. Those were days
when the stream of society did not, as now, flow freely, mingling with
the grace of aristocracy the acquirements of hard-working professors;
there was then a strong line of demarcation; it had not been broken down
in the same way as now, when people of rank and wealth live in rows,
instead of inhabiting hotels set apart. Paris has sustained a similar
revolution, since her gardens were built over, and their green shades,
delicious, in the centre of that hot city, are seen no more. In the very
Faubourg St. Germain, the grand old hotels are rapidly disappearing, and
with them something of the exclusiveness of the higher orders. Lord
Chesterfield, however, triumphantly pointing to the fruits of his taste
and distribution of his wealth, witnessed, in his library at
Chesterfield House, the events which time produced. He heard of the
death of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, and of her bequest to him of
twenty thousand pounds, and her best and largest brilliant diamond ring,
'out of the great regard she had for his merit, and the infinite
obligations she had received from him.' He witnessed the change of
society and of politics which occurred when George II. expired, and the
Earl of Bute, calling himself a descendant of the house of Stuart, 'and
humble enough to be proud of it,' having quitted the isle of Bute, which
Lord Chesterfield calls 'but a little south of Nova Zembla,' took
possession, not only of the affections, but even of the senses of the
young king, George III., who, assisted by the widowed Princess of Wales
(supposed to be attached to Lord Bute), was 'lugged out of the
seraglio,' and 'placed upon the throne.'

Chesterfield lived to have the honour of having the plan of 'Johnson's
Dictionary' inscribed to him, and the dishonour of neglecting the great
author. Johnson, indeed, denied the truth of the story which gained
general belief, in which it was asserted that he had taken a disgust at
being kept waiting in the earl's antechamber, the reason being assigned
that his lordship 'had company with him;' when at last the door opened,
and forth came Colley Cibber. Then Johnson--so report said--indignant,
not only for having been kept waiting but also for _whom_, went away, it
was affirmed, in disgust; but this was solemnly denied by the doctor,
who assured Boswell that his wrath proceeded from continual neglect on
the part of Chesterfield.

Whilst the Dictionary was in progress, Chesterfield seemed to forget the
existence of him, whom, together with the other literary men, he
affected to patronize.

He once sent him ten pounds, after which he forgot Johnson's address,
and said 'the great author had changed his lodgings.' People who really
wish to benefit others can always discover where they lodge. The days of
patronage were then expiring, but they had not quite ceased, and a
dedication was always to be in some way paid for.

When the publication of the Dictionary drew near, Lord Chesterfield
flattered himself that, in spite of all his neglect, the great
compliment of having so vast an undertaking dedicated to him would still
be paid, and wrote some papers in the 'World,' recommending the work,
more especially referring to the 'plan,' and terming Johnson the
'dictator,' in respect to language: 'I will not only obey him,' he said,
'as my dictator, like an old Roman, but like a modern Roman, will
implicitly believe in him as my pope.'

Johnson, however, was not to be propitiated by those 'honeyed words.' He
wrote a letter couched in what he called 'civil terms,' to Chesterfield,
from which we extract the following passages:

'When, upon some slight encouragement, I first visited your lordship, I
was overpowered, like the rest of mankind, by the enchantment of your
address; and could not forbear to wish that I might boast myself
_vainqueur du vainqueur de la terre_--that I might obtain that regard
for which I saw the world contending; but I found my attendance so
little encouraged, that neither pride nor modesty would suffer me to
continue it. When I had once addressed your lordship in publick, I had
exhausted all the art of pleasing which a retired and uncourtly scholar
can possess. I had done all that I could; and no man is well pleased to
have his all neglected, be it ever so little.

'Seven years, my lord, have now past, since I waited in your outward
room, or was repulsed from your door, during which time I have been
pushing on my work through difficulties, of which it is useless to
complain, and have brought it, at last, to the verge of publication
without one act of assistance, one word of encouragement, or one smile
of favour: such treatment I did not expect, for I never had a patron
before.... Is not a patron, my lord, one who looks with unconcern on a
man who is struggling for life in the water, and, when he has reached
ground, encumbers him with help? The notice which you have been pleased
to take of my labours, had it been early, had been kind; but it has been
delayed till I am indifferent and cannot enjoy it; till I am solitary
and cannot impart it; till I am known and do not want it. I hope it is
no very cynical asperity not to confess obligations where no benefit has
been received, or to be unwilling that the publick should consider me as
owing that to a patron which Providence has enabled me to do for

The conduct of Johnson, on this occasion, was approved by most manly
minds, except that of his publisher, Mr. Robert Dodsley; Dr. Adams, a
friend of Dodsley, said he was sorry that Johnson had written that
celebrated letter (a very model of polite contempt). Dodsley said he was
sorry too, for he had a property in the Dictionary, to which his
lordship's patronage might be useful. He then said that Lord
Chesterfield had shown him the letter. 'I should have thought,' said
Adams, 'that Lord Chesterfield would have concealed it.' 'Pooh!' cried
Dodsley, 'do you think a letter from Johnson could hurt Lord
Chesterfield? not at all, sir. It lay on his table, where any one might
see it. He read it to me; said, "this man has great powers," pointed out
the severest passages, and said, "how well they were expressed."' The
art of dissimulation, in which Chesterfield was perfect, imposed on Mr.

Dr. Adams expostulated with the doctor, and said Lord Chesterfield
declared he would part with the best servant he had, if he had known
that he had turned away a man who was '_always_ welcome.' Then Adams
insisted on Lord Chesterfield's affability, and easiness of access to
literary men. But the sturdy Johnson replied, 'Sir, that is not Lord
Chesterfield; he is the proudest man existing.' 'I think,' Adams
rejoined, 'I know one that is prouder; you, by your own account, are the
prouder of the two.' 'But mine,' Johnson answered, with one of his happy
turns, 'was defensive pride.' 'This man,' he afterwards said, referring
to Chesterfield, 'I thought had been a lord among wits, but I find he is
only a wit among lords.'

In revenge, Chesterfield in his Letters depicted Johnson, it is said, in
the character of the 'respectable Hottentot.' Amongst other things, he
observed of the Hottentot, 'he throws his meat anywhere but down his
throat.' This being remarked to Johnson, who was by no means pleased at
being immortalized as the Hottentot--'Sir,' he answered, 'Lord
Chesterfield never saw me eat in his life.'


Such are the leading points of this famous and lasting controversy. It
is amusing to know that Lord Chesterfield was not always precise as to
directions to his letters. He once directed to Lord Pembroke, who was
always swimming 'To the Earl of Pembroke, in the Thames, over against
Whitehall. This, as Horace Walpole remarks, was sure of finding him
within a certain fathom.'

Lord Chesterfield was now admitted to be the very 'glass of fashion,'
though age, and, according to Lord Hervey, a hideous person, impeded his
being the 'mould of form.' 'I don't know why,' writes Horace Walpole, in
the dog-days, from Strawberry Hill, 'but people are always more anxious
about their hay than their corn, or twenty other things that cost them
more: I suppose my Lord Chesterfield, or some such dictator, made it
fashionable to care about one's hay. Nobody betrays solicitude about
getting in his rents.' 'The prince of wits,' as the same authority calls
him--'his entrance into the world was announced by his bon-mots, and his
closing lips dropped repartees that sparkled with his juvenile fire.'

No one, it was generally allowed, had such a force of table-wit as Lord
Chesterfield; but while the 'Graces' were ever his theme, he indulged
himself without distinction or consideration in numerous sallies. He
was, therefore, at once sought and feared; liked but not loved; neither
sex nor relationship, nor rank, nor friendship, nor obligation, nor
profession, could shield his victim from what Lord Hervey calls, 'those
pointed, glittering weapons, that seemed to shine only to a stander-by,
but cut deep into those they touched.'

He cherished 'a voracious appetite for abuse;' fell upon every one that
came in his way, and thus treated each one of his companions at the
expense of the other. To him Hervey, who had probably often smarted,
applied the lines of Boileau--

    'Mais c'est un petit fou qui se croit tout permis,
     Et qui pour un bon mot va perdre vingt amis.'

Horace Walpole (a more lenient judge of Chesterfield's merits) observes
that 'Chesterfield took no less pains to be the phoenix of fine
gentlemen, than Tully did to qualify himself as an orator. Both
succeeded: Tully immortalized his name; Chesterfield's reign lasted a
little longer than that of a fashionable beauty.' It was, perhaps,
because, as Dr. Johnson said, all Lord Chesterfield's witty sayings were
puns, that even his brilliant wit failed to please, although it amused,
and surprised its hearers.

Notwithstanding the contemptuous description of Lord Chesterfield's
personal appearance by Lord Hervey, his portraits represent a handsome,
though hard countenance, well-marked features, and his figure and air
appear to have been elegant. With his commanding talents, his wonderful
brilliancy and fluency of conversation, he would perhaps sometimes have
been even tedious, had it not been for his invariable cheerfulness. He
was always, as Lord Hervey says, 'present' in his company. Amongst the
few friends who really loved this thorough man of the world, was Lord
Scarborough, yet no two characters were more opposite. Lord Scarborough
had judgment, without wit: Chesterfield wit, and no judgment; Lord
Scarborough had honesty and principle; Lord Chesterfield had neither.
Everybody liked the one, but did not care for his company. Everyone
disliked the other, but wished for his company. The fact was,
Scarborough was 'splendid and absent.' Chesterfield 'cheerful and
present:' wit, grace, attention to what is passing, the surface, as it
were, of a highly-cultured mind, produced a fascination with which all
the honour and respectability in the Court of George II. could not

In the earlier part of Chesterfield's career, Pope, Bolingbroke, Hervey,
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, and, in fact, all that could add to the
pleasures of the then early dinner-table, illumined Chesterfield House
by their wit and gaiety. Yet in the midst of this exciting life, Lord
Chesterfield found time to devote to the improvement of his natural son,
Philip Stanhope, a great portion of his leisure. His celebrated Letters
to that son did not, however, appear during the earl's life; nor were
they in any way the source of his popularity as a wit, which was due to
his merits in that line alone.

The youth to whom these letters, so useful and yet so objectionable,
were addressed, was intended for a diplomatist. He was the very reverse
of his father: learned, sensible, and dry; but utterly wanting in the
graces, and devoid of eloquence. As an orator, therefore, he failed; as
a man of society, he must also have failed; and his death, in 1768, some
years before that of his father, left that father desolate, and
disappointed. Philip Stanhope had attained the rank of envoy to Dresden,
where he expired.

During the five years in which Chesterfield dragged out a mournful life
after this event, he made the painful discovery that his son had married
without confiding that step to the father to whom he owed so much. This
must have been almost as trying as the awkward, ungraceful deportment of
him whom he mourned. The world now left Chesterfield ere he had left the
world. He and his contemporary Lord Tyrawley were now old and infirm.
'The fact is,' Chesterfield wittily said, 'Tyrawley and I have been dead
these two years, but we don't choose to have it known.'

'The Bath,' he wrote to his friend Dayrolles, 'did me more good than I
thought anything could do me; but all that good does not amount to what
builders call half-repairs, and only keeps up the shattered fabric a
little longer than it would have stood without them; but take my word
for it, it will stand but a very little while longer. I am now in my
grand climacteric, and shall not complete it. Fontenelle's last words at
a hundred and three were, _Je souffre d'être._ deaf and infirm as I am,
I can with truth say the same thing at sixty-three. In my mind it is
only the strength of our passions, and the weakness of our reason, that
makes us so fond of life; but when the former subside and give way to
the latter, we grow weary of being, and willing to withdraw. I do not
recommend this train of serious reflections to you, nor ought you to
adopt them.... You have children to educate and provide for, you have
all your senses, and can enjoy all the comforts both of domestic and
social life. I am in every sense _isolé_, and have wound up all my
bottoms; I may now walk off quietly, without missing nor being missed.'

The kindness of his nature, corrupted as it was by a life wholly
worldly, and but little illumined in its course by religion, shone now
in his care of his two grandsons, the offspring of his lost son, and of
their mother, Eugenia Stanhope. To her he thus wrote:--

'The last time I had the pleasure of seeing you, I was so taken up in
playing with the boys, that I forgot their more important affairs. How
soon would you have them placed at school? When I know your pleasure as
to that, I will send to Monsieur Perny, to prepare everything for their
reception. In the mean time, I beg that you will equip them thoroughly
with clothes, linen, &c., all good, but plain; and give me the amount,
which I will pay; for I do not intend, from this time forwards, the two
boys should cost you one shilling.'

He lived, latterly, much at Blackheath, in the house which, being built
on Crown land, has finally become the Ranger's lodge; but which still
sometimes goes by the name of Chesterfield House. Here he spent large
sums, especially on pictures, and cultivated Cantelupe melons; and here,
as he grew older, and became permanently afflicted with deafness, his
chief companion was a useful friend, Solomon Dayrolles--one of those
indebted hangers-on whom it was an almost invariable custom to find, at
that period, in great houses--and perhaps too frequently in our own day.

Dayrolles, who was employed in the embassy under Lord Sandwich at the
Hague, had always, to borrow Horace Walpole's ill-natured expression,
'been a led-captain to the Dukes of Richmond and Grafton, used to be
sent to auctions for them, and to walk in the parks with their
daughters, and once went dry-nurse in Holland with them. He has
belonged, too, a good deal to my Lord Chesterfield, to whom I believe he
owes this new honour, "that of being minister at the Hague," as he had
before made him black-rod in Ireland, and gave the ingenious reason that
he had a black face.' But the great 'dictator' in the empire of
politeness was now in a slow but sure decline. Not long before his
death he was visited by Monsieur Suard, a French gentleman, who was
anxious to see '_l'homme le plus aimable, le plus poli et le plus
spirituel des trois royaumes_,' but who found him fearfully altered;
morose from his deafness, yet still anxious to please. 'It is very sad,'
he said, with his usual politeness, 'to be deaf, when one would so much
enjoy listening. I am not,' he added, 'so philosophic as my friend the
President de Montesquieu, who says, "I know how to be blind, but I do
not yet know how to be deaf."' 'We shortened our visit,' says M. Suard,
'lest we should fatigue the earl.' 'I do not detain you,' said
Chesterfield, 'for I must go and rehearse my funeral.' It was thus that
he styled his daily drive through the streets of London.

Lord Chesterfield's wonderful memory continued till his latest hour. As
he lay, gasping in the last agonies of extreme debility, his friend, Mr.
Dayrolles, called in to see him half an hour before he expired. The
politeness which had become part of his very nature did not desert the
dying earl. He managed to say, in a low voice, to his valet, 'Give
Dayrolles a chair.' This little trait greatly struck the famous Dr.
Warren, who was at the bedside of this brilliant and wonderful man. He
died on the 24th of March, 1773, in the 79th year of his age.

The preamble to a codicil (Feb. 11, 1773) contains the following
striking sentences, written when the intellect was impressed with the
solemnity of that solemn change which comes alike to the unreflecting
and to the heart stricken, holy believer:--

     'I most humbly recommend my soul to the extensive mercy of that
     Eternal, Supreme, Intelligent Being who gave it me; most
     earnestly at the same time deprecating his justice. Satiated with
     the pompous follies of this life, of which I have had an uncommon
     share, I would have no posthumous ones displayed at my funeral,
     and therefore desire to be buried in the next burying-place to
     the place where I shall die, and limit the whole expense of my
     funeral to £100.'

His body was interred, according to his wish, in the vault of the chapel
in South Audley Street, but it was afterwards removed to the family
burial-place in Shelford Church, Nottinghamshire.

In his will he left legacies to his servants.[26] 'I consider them,' he
said, 'as unfortunate friends; my equals by nature, and my inferiors
only in the difference of our fortunes.' There was something lofty in
the mind that prompted that sentence.

His estates reverted to a distant kinsman, descended from a younger son
of the first earl; and it is remarkable, on looking through the Peerage
of Great Britain, to perceive how often this has been the case in a race
remarkable for the absence of virtue. Interested marriages, vicious
habits, perhaps account for the fact; but retributive justice, though it
be presumptuous to trace its course, is everywhere.

He had so great a horror in his last days of gambling, that in
bequeathing his possessions to his heir, as he expected, and godson,
Philip Stanhope, he inserts this clause:--

     'In case my said godson, Philip Stanhope, shall at any time
     hereinafter keep, or be concerned in keeping of, any race-horses,
     or pack of hounds, or reside one night at Newmarket, that
     infamous seminary of iniquity and ill-manners, during the course
     of the races there; or shall resort to the said races; or shall
     lose, in any one day, at any game or bet whatsoever, the sum of
     £500, then, in any the cases aforesaid, it is my express will
     that he, my said godson, shall forfeit and pay, out of my estate,
     the sum of £5,000 to and for the use of the Dean and Chapter of

When we say that Lord Chesterfield was a man who had _no friend_, we sum
up his character in those few words. Just after his death a small but
distinguished party of men dined together at Topham Beauclerk's. There
was Sir Joshua Reynolds; Sir William Jones, the orientalist; Bennet
Langton; Steevens; Boswell; Johnson. The conversation turned on Garrick,
who, Johnson said, had friends, but no friend. Then Boswell asked, 'what
is a friend?' 'One who comforts and supports you, while others do not.'
'Friendship, you know, sir, is the cordial drop to make the nauseous
draught of life go down.' Then one of the company mentioned Lord
Chesterfield as one who had no friend; and Boswell said: 'Garrick was
pure gold, but beat out to thin leaf, Lord Chesterfield was tinsel.'
And, for once, Johnson did not contradict him. But not so do we judge
Lord Chesterfield. He was a man who acted on false principles through
life; and those principles gradually undermined everything that was
noble and generous in character; just as those deep under-ground
currents, noiseless in their course, work through fine-grained rock, and
produce a chasm. Everything with Chesterfield was self: for self, and
self alone, were agreeable qualities to be assumed; for self, was the
country to be served, because that country protects and serves us: for
self, were friends to be sought and cherished, as useful auxiliaries, or
pleasant accessories: in the very core of the cankered heart, that
advocated this corrupting doctrine of expediency, lay unbelief; that
worm which never died in the hearts of so many illustrious men of that
period--the refrigerator of the feelings.

One only gentle and genuine sentiment possessed Lord Chesterfield, and
that was his love for his son. Yet in this affection the worldly man
might be seen in mournful colours. He did not seek to render his son
good; his sole desire was to see him successful: every lesson that he
taught him, in those matchless Letters which have carried down
Chesterfield's fame to us when his other productions have virtually
expired, exposes a code of dissimulation which Philip Stanhope, in his
marriage, turned upon the father to whom he owed so much care and
advancement. These Letters are, in fact, a complete exposition of Lord
Chesterfield's character and views of life. No other man could have
written them; no other man have conceived the notion of existence being
one great effort to deceive, as well as to excel, and of society forming
one gigantic lie. It is true they were addressed to one who was to enter
the maze of a diplomatic career, and must be taken, on that account,
with some reservation.

They have justly been condemned on the score of immorality; but we must
remember that the age in which they were written was one of lax notions,
especially among men of rank, who regarded all women accessible, either
from indiscretion or inferiority of rank, as fair game, and acted
accordingly. But whilst we agree with one of Johnson's bitterest
sentences as to the immorality of Chesterfield's letters, we disagree
with his styling his code of manners the manners of a dancing-master.
Chesterfield was in himself a perfect instance of what he calls _les
manières nobles_; and this even Johnson allowed.

'Talking of Chesterfield,' Johnson said, 'his manner was exquisitely
elegant, and he had more knowledge than I expected.' Boswell: 'Did you
find, sir, his conversation to be of a superior sort?'--Johnson: 'Sir,
in the conversation which I had with him, I had the best right to
superiority, for it was upon philology and literature.'

It was well remarked how extraordinary a thing it was that a man who
loved his son so entirely should do all he could to make him a rascal.
And Foote even contemplated bringing on the stage a father who had thus
tutored his son; and intended to show the son an honest man in
everything else, but practising his father's maxims upon him, and
cheating him.

'It should be so contrived,' Johnson remarked, referring to Foote's
plan, 'that the father should be the _only_ sufferer by the son's
villany, and thus there would be poetical justice.' 'Take out the
immorality,' he added, on another occasion, 'and the book
(Chesterfield's Letters to his Son) should be put into the hands of
every young gentleman.'

We are inclined to differ, and to confess to a moral taint throughout
the whole of the Letters; and even had the immorality been expunged, the
false motives, the deep, invariable advocacy of principles of
expediency, would have poisoned what otherwise might be of effectual
benefit to the minor virtues of polite society.


[Footnote 23: The Countess of Chesterfield here alluded to was the
second wife of Philip, second Earl of Chesterfield. Philip Dormer,
fourth Earl, was grandson of the second Earl by his third wife.]

[Footnote 24: In the 'Annual Register,' for 1774, p. 20, it is stated
that as George I. had left Lady Walsingham a legacy which his successor
did not think proper to deliver, the Earl of Chesterfield was determined
to recover it by a suit in Chancery, had not his Majesty, on questioning
the Lord Chancellor on the subject, and being answered that he could
give no opinion extrajudicially, thought proper to fulfil the bequest.]

[Footnote 25: Lord Mahon, now Earl of Stanhope, if not the most
eloquent, one of the most honest historians of our time.]

[Footnote 26: Two years' wages were left to the servants.]


  An Eastern Allegory.--Who comes Here?--A Mad Freak and its
      Consequences.--Making an Abbé of him.--The May-Fair of
      Paris.--Scarron's Lament to Pellisson.--The Office of the
      Queen's Patient.--'Give me a Simple Benefice.'--Scarron's
      Description of Himself.--Improvidence and Servility.--The
      Society at Scarron's.--The Witty Conversation.--Francoise
      D'Aubigné's Début.--The Sad Story of La Belle
      Indienne.--Matrimonial Considerations.--'Scarron's Wife will
      live for ever.'--Petits Soupers.--Scarron's last Moments.--A
      Lesson for Gay and Grave.

There is an Indian or Chinese legend, I forget which, from which Mrs.
Shelley may have taken her hideous idea of Frankenstein. We are told in
this allegory that, after fashioning some thousands of men after the
most approved model, endowing them with all that is noble, generous,
admirable, and loveable in man or woman, the eastern Prometheus grew
weary in his work, stretched his hand for the beer-can, and draining it
too deeply, lapsed presently into a state of what Germans call
'other-man-ness.'--There is a simpler Anglo-Saxon term for this
condition, but I spare you. The eastern Prometheus went on seriously
with his work, and still produced the same perfect models, faultless
alike in brain and leg. But when it came to the delicate finish, when
the last touches were to be made, his hand shook a little, and the more
delicate members went awry. It was thus that instead of the power of
seeing every colour properly, one man came out with a pair of optics
which turned everything to green, and this verdancy probably transmitted
itself to the intelligence. Another, to continue the allegory, whose
tympanum had slipped a little under the unsteady fingers of the
man-maker, heard everything in a wrong sense, and his life was
miserable, because, if you sang his praises, he believed you were
ridiculing him, and if you heaped abuse upon him, he thought you were
telling lies of him.

But as Prometheus Orientalis grew more jovial, it seems to have come
into his head to make mistakes on purpose. 'I'll have a friend to laugh
with,' quoth he; and when warned by an attendant Yaksha, or demon, that
men who laughed one hour often wept the next, he swore a lusty oath,
struck his thumb heavily on a certain bump in the skull he was
completing, and holding up his little doll, cried, 'Here is one who will
laugh at everything!'

I must now add what the legend neglects to tell. The model laugher
succeeded well enough in his own reign, but he could not beget a large
family. The laughers who never weep, the real clowns of life, who do
not, when the curtain drops, retire, after an infinitesimal allowance of
'cordial,' to a half-starved, complaining family, with brats that cling
round his parti-coloured stockings, and cry to him--not for jokes--but
for bread, these laughers, I say, are few and far between. You should,
therefore, be doubly grateful to me for introducing to you now one of
the most famous of them; one who with all right and title to be
lugubrious, was the merriest man of his age.

On Shrove Tuesday, in the year 1638, the good city of Mans was in a
state of great excitement: the carnival was at its height, and everybody
had gone mad for one day before turning pious for the long, dull forty
days of Lent. The market-place was filled with maskers in quaint
costumes, each wilder and more extravagant than the last. Here were
magicians with high peaked hats covered with cabalistic signs, here
Eastern sultans of the medieval model, with very fierce looks and very
large scimitars: here Amadis de Gaul with a wagging plume a yard high,
here Pantagruel, here harlequins, here Huguenots ten times more
lugubrious than the despised sectaries they mocked, here Cæsar and
Pompey in trunk hose and Roman helmets, and a mass of other notabilities
who were great favourites in that day, appeared.

But who comes here? What is the meaning of these roars of laughter that
greet the last mask who runs into the market-place? Why do all the women
and children hurry together, calling up one another, and shouting with
delight? What is this thing? Is it some new species of bird, thus
covered with feathers and down? In a few minutes the little figure is
surrounded by a crowd of boys and women, who begin to pluck him of his
borrowed plumes, while he chatters to them like a magpie, whistles like
a song-bird, croaks like a raven, or in his natural character showers a
mass of funny nonsense on them, till their laughter makes their sides
ache. The little wretch is literally covered with small feathers from
head to foot, and even his face is not to be recognized. The women pluck
him behind and before; he dances round and tries to evade their fingers.
This is impossible; he breaks away, runs down the market pursued by a
shouting crowd, is again surrounded, and again subjected to a plucking
process. The bird must be stripped; he must be discovered. Little by
little his back is bared, and little by little is seen a black jerkin,
black stockings, and, wonder upon wonder! the bands of a canon. Now they
have cleared his face of its plumage, and a cry of disgust and shame
hails the disclosure. Yes, this curious masker is no other than a
reverend abbé, a young canon of the cathedral of Mans! 'This is too
much--it is scandalous--it is disgraceful. The church must be respected,
the sacred order must not descend to such frivolities.' The people,
lately laughing, are now furious at the shameless abbé and not his
liveliest wit can save him; they threaten and cry shame on him, and in
terror of his life, he beats his way through the crowd, and takes to his
heels. The mob follows, hooting and savage. The little man is nimble;
those well-shaped legs--_qui ont si bien dansé_--stand him in good
stead. Down the streets, and out of the town go hare and hounds. The
pursuers gain on him--a bridge, a stream filled with tall reeds, and
delightfully miry, are all the hope of refuge he sees before him. He
leaps gallantly from the bridge in among the oziers, and has the joy of
listening to the disappointed curses of the mob, when reaching the
stream, their quarry is nowhere to be seen. The reeds conceal him, and
there he lingers till nightfall, when he can issue from his
lurking-place, and escape from the town.

Such was the mad freak which deprived the Abbé Scarron of the use of his
limbs for life. His health was already ruined when he indulged this
caprice; the damp of the river brought on a violent attack, which closed
with palsy, and the gay young abbé had to pay dearly for the pleasure of
astonishing the citizens of Mans. The disguise was easily accounted
for--he had smeared himself with honey, ripped open a feather-bed, and
rolled himself in it.

This little incident gives a good idea of what Scarron was in his
younger days--ready at any time for any wild caprice.

Paul Scarron was the son of a Conseiller du Parlement of good family,
resident in Paris. He was born in 1610, and his early days would have
been wretched enough, if his elastic spirits had allowed him to give way
to misery. His father was a good-natured, weak-minded man, who on the
death of his first wife married a second, who, as one hen will peck at
another's chicks, would not, as a stepmother, leave the little Paul in
peace. She was continually putting her own children forward, and
ill-treating the late 'anointed' son. The father gave in too readily,
and young Paul was glad enough to be set free from his unhappy home.
There may be some excuse in this for the licentious living to which he
now gave himself up. He was heir to a decent fortune, and of course
thought himself justified in spending it before-hand. Then, in spite of
his quaint little figure, he had something attractive about him, for his
merry face was good-looking, if not positively handsome. If we add to
this, spirits as buoyant as an Irishman's--a mind that not only saw the
ridiculous wherever it existed, but could turn the most solemn and awful
themes to laughter, a vast deal of good-nature, and not a little
assurance--we can understand that the young Scarron was a favourite with
both men and women, and among the reckless pleasure-seekers of the day
soon became one of the wildest. In short, he was a fast young Parisian,
with as little care for morality or religion as any youth who saunters
on the Boulevards of the French capital to this day.

But his stepmother was not content with getting rid of young Paul, but
had her eye also on his fortune, and therefore easily persuaded her
husband that the service of the church was precisely the career for
which the young reprobate was fitted. There was an uncle who was Bishop
of Grenoble, and a canonry could easily be got for him. The fast youth
was compelled to give in to this arrangement, but declined to take full
orders; so that while drawing the revenue of his stall, he had nothing
to do with the duties of his calling. Then, too, it was rather a
fashionable thing to be an abbé, especially a gay one. The position
placed you on a level with people of all ranks. Half the court was
composed of love-making ecclesiastics, and the _soutane_ was a kind of
diploma for wit and wickedness. Viewed in this light, the church was as
jovial a profession as the army, and the young Scarron went to the full
extent of the letter allowed to the black gown. It was only such stupid
superstitious louts as those of Mans, who did not know anything of the
ways of Paris life, who could object to such little freaks as he loved
to indulge in.

The merry little abbé was soon the delight of the Marais. This distinct
and antiquated quarter of Paris was then the Mayfair of that capital.
Here lived in ease, and contempt of the bourgeoisie, the great, the gay,
the courtier, and the wit. Here Marion de Lorme received old Cardinals
and young abbés; here were the salons of Madame de Martel, of the
Comtesse de la Suze, who changed her creed in order to avoid seeing her
husband in this world or the next, and the famous--or infamous--Ninon de
l'Enclos; and at these houses young Scarron met the courtly
Saint-Evremond, the witty Sarrazin, and the learned but arrogant
Voiture. Here he read his skits and parodies, here travestied Virgil,
made epigrams on Richelieu, and poured out his indelicate but always
laughable witticisms. But his indulgences were not confined to
intrigues; he also drank deep, and there was not a pleasure within his
reach which he ever thought of denying himself. He laughed at religion,
thought morality a nuisance, and resolved to be merry at all costs.

The little account was brought in at last. At the age of five-and-twenty
his constitution was broken up. Gout and rheumatism assailed him
alternately or in leash. He began to feel the annoyance of the
constraint they occasioned; he regretted those legs which had figured
so well in a ronde or a minuet, and those hands which had played the
lute to dames more fair than modest; and to add to this, the pain he
suffered was not slight. He sought relief in gay society, and was
cheerful in spite of his sufferings. At length came the Shrove Tuesday
and the feathers; and the consequences were terrible. He was soon a prey
to doctors, whom he believed in no more than in the church of which he
was so great a light. His legs were no longer his own, so he was obliged
to borrow those of a chair. He was soon tucked down into a species of
dumb-waiter on castors, in which he could be rolled about in a party. In
front of this chair was fastened a desk, on which he wrote; for too wise
to be overcome by his agony, he drove it away by cultivating his
imagination, and in this way some of the most fantastic productions in
French literature were composed by this quaint little abbé.

Nor was sickness his only trial now. Old Scarron was a citizen, and had,
what was then criminal, sundry ideas of the liberty of the nation. He
saw with disgust the tyranny of Richelieu, and joined a party in the
Parliament to oppose the cardinal's measures. He even had the courage to
speak openly against one of the court edicts; and the pitiless cardinal,
who never overlooked any offence, banished him to Touraine, and
naturally extended his animosity to the conseiller's son. This happened
at a moment at which the cripple believed himself to be on the road to
favour. He had already won that of Madame de Hautefort, on whom Louis
XIII. had set his affections, and this lady had promised to present him
to Anne of Austria. The father's honest boldness put a stop to the son's
intended servility, and Scarron lamented his fate in a letter to

    O mille écus, par malheur retranchés,
    Que vous pouviez m'épargner de péchés!
    Quand un valet me dit, tremblant et hâve,
    Nous n'avons plus de bûches dans la cave
    Que pour aller jusqu'à demain matin,
    Je peste alors sur mon chien de destin,
    Sur le grand froid, sur le bois de la grève,
    Qu'on vend si cher, et qui si-tôt s'achève.
    Je jure alors, et même je médis
    De l'action de mon père étourdi,
    Quand sans songer à ce qu'il allait faire
    Il m'ébaucha sous un astre contraire,
    Et m'acheva par un discours maudit
    Qu'il fit depuis sur un certain édit.

The father died in exile: his second wife had spent the greater part of
the son's fortune, and secured the rest for her own children. Scarron
was left with a mere pittance, and, to complete his troubles, was
involved in a lawsuit about the property. The cripple, with his usual
impudence, resolved to plead his own cause, and did it only too well; he
made the judges laugh so loud that they took the whole thing to be a
farce on his part, and gave--most ungratefully--judgment against him.

Glorious days were those for the penniless, halcyon days for the toady
and the sycophant. There was still much of the old oriental munificence
about the court, and sovereigns like Mazarin and Louis XIV. granted
pensions for a copy of flattering verses, or gave away places as the
reward of a judicious speech. Sinecures were legion, yet to many a
holder they were no sinecures at all, for they entailed constant
servility and a complete abdication of all freedom of opinion.

Scarron was nothing more than a merry buffoon. Many another man has
gained a name for his mirth, but most of them have been at least
independent. Scarron seems to have cared for nothing that was honourable
or dignified. He laughed at everything but money, and at that he smiled,
though it is only fair to say that he was never avaricious, but only
cared for ease and a little luxury.

When Richelieu died, and the gentler, but more subtle Mazarin mounted
his throne, Madame de Hautefort made another attempt to present her
_protégé_ to the queen, and this time succeeded. Anne of Austria had
heard of the quaint little man who could laugh over a lawsuit in which
his whole fortune was staked, and received him graciously. He begged for
some place to support him. What could he do? What was he fit for?
'Nothing, your majesty, but the important office of The Queen's Patient;
for that I am fully qualified.' Anne smiled, and Scarron from that time
styled himself 'par la grace de Dieu, le malade de la Reine.' But there
was no stipend attached to this novel office. Mazarin procured him a
pension of 500 crowns. He was then publishing his 'Typhon, or the
Gigantomachy,' and dedicated it to the cardinal, with an adulatory
sonnet. He forwarded the great man a splendidly bound copy, which was
accepted with nothing more than thanks. In a rage the author suppressed
the sonnet and substituted a satire. This piece was bitterly cutting,
and terribly true. It galled Mazarin to the heart, and he was
undignified enough to revenge himself by cancelling the poor little
pension of £60 per annum which had previously been granted to the
writer. Scarron having lost his pension, soon afterwards asked for an
abbey, but was refused. 'Then give me,' said he, 'a simple benefice, so
simple, indeed, that all its duties will be comprised in believing in
God.' But Scarron had the satisfaction of gaining a great name among the
cardinal's many enemies, and with none more so than De Retz, then
_coadjuteur_[27] to the Archbishop of Paris, and already deeply
implicated in the Fronde movement. To insure the favour of this rising
man, Scarron determined to dedicate to him a work he was just about to
publish, and on which he justly prided himself as by far his best. This
was the 'Roman Comique,' the only one of his productions which is still
read. That it should be read, I can quite understand, on account not
only of the ease of its style, but of the ingenuity of its improbable
plots, the truth of the characters, and the charming bits of satire
which are found here and there, like gems amid a mass of mere fun. The
scene is laid at Mans, the town in which the author had himself
perpetrated his chief follies; and many of the characters were probably
drawn from life, while it is likely enough that some of the stories were
taken from facts which had there come to his knowledge. As in many of
the romances of that age, a number of episodes are introduced into the
main story, which consists of the adventures of a strolling company.
These are mainly amatory, and all indelicate, while some are as coarse
as anything in French literature. Scarron had little of the clear wit of
Rabelais to atone for this; but he makes up for it, in a measure, by the
utter absurdity of some of his incidents. Not the least curious part of
the book is the Preface, in which he gives a description of himself, in
order to contradict, as he affirms, the extravagant reports circulated
about him, to the effect that he was set upon a table, in a cage, or
that his hat was fastened to the ceiling by a pulley, that he might
'pluck it up or let it down, to do compliment to a friend, who honoured
him with a visit.' This description is a tolerable specimen of his
style, and we give it in the quaint language of an old translation,
published in 1741:--

'I am past thirty, as thou may'st see by the back of my Chair. If I live
to be forty, I shall add the Lord knows how many Misfortunes to those I
have already suffered for these eight or nine Years past. There was a
Time when my Stature was not to be found fault with, tho' now 'tis of
the smallest. My Sickness has taken me shorter by a Foot. My Head is
somewhat too big, considering my Height; and my Face is full enough, in
all Conscience, for one that carries such a Skeleton of a Body about
him. I have Hair enough on my Head not to stand in need of a Peruke; and
'tis gray, too, in spite of the Proverb. My Sight is good enough, tho'
my Eyes are large; they are of a blue Colour, and one of them is sunk
deeper into my Head than the other, which was occasion'd by my leaning
on that Side. My Nose is well enough mounted. My Teeth, which in the
Days of Yore look'd like a Row of square Pearl, are now of an Ashen
Colour; and in a few Years more, will have the Complexion of a
Small-coal Man's Saturday Shirt. I have lost one Tooth and a half on the
left Side, and two and a half precisely on the right; and I have two
more that stand somewhat out of their Ranks. My Legs and Thighs, in the
first place, compose an obtuse Angle, then a right one, and lastly an
acute. My Thighs and Body make another; and my Head, leaning perpetually
over my Belly, I fancy makes me not very unlike the Letter Z. My Arms
are shortened, as well as my Legs; and my Fingers as well as my Arms. In
short, I am a living Epitome of human Misery. This, as near as I can
give it, is my Shape. Since I am got so far, I will e'en tell thee
something of my Humour. Under the Rose, be it spoken, Courteous Reader,
I do this only to swell the Bulk of my Book, at the Request of the
Bookseller--the poor Dog, it seems, being afraid he should be a Loser by
this Impression, if he did not give Buyer enough for his Money.'

This allusion to the publisher reminds us that, on the suppression of
his pension--on hearing of which Scarron only said, 'I should like,
then, to suppress myself'--he had to live on the profits of his works.
In later days it was Madame Scarron herself who often carried them to
the bookseller's, when there was not a penny in the house. The publisher
was Quinet, and the merry wit, when asked whence he drew his income,
used to reply with mock haughtiness, 'De mon Marquisat de Quinet.' His
comedies, which have been described as mere burlesques--I confess I have
never read them, and hope to be absolved--were successful enough, and if
Scarron had known how to keep what he made, he might sooner or later
have been in easy circumstances. He knew neither that nor any other art
of self-restraint, and, therefore, was in perpetual vicissitudes of
riches and penury. At one time he could afford to dedicate a piece to
his sister's greyhound, at another he was servile in his address to some
prince or duke.

In the latter spirit, he humbled himself before Mazarin, in spite of the
publication of his 'Mazarinade,' and was, as he might have expected,
repulsed. He then turned to Fouquet, the new Surintendant de Finances,
who was liberal enough with the public money, which he so freely
embezzled, and extracted from him a pension of 1,600 francs (about £64).
In one way or another, he got back a part of the property his stepmother
had alienated from him, and obtained a prebend in the diocese of Mans,
which made up his income to something more respectable.

He was now able to indulge to the utmost his love of society. In his
apartment, in the Rue St. Louis, he received all the leaders of the
Fronde, headed by De Retz, and bringing with them their pasquinades on
Mazarin, which the easy Italian read and laughed at and pretended to
heed not at all. Politics, however, was not the staple of the
conversation at Scarron's. He was visited as a curiosity, as a clever
buffoon, and those who came to see, remained to laugh. He kept them all
alive by his coarse, easy, impudent wit; in which there was more
vulgarity and dirtiness than ill-nature. He had a fund of _bonhommie_,
which set his visitors at their ease, for no one was afraid of being
bitten by the chained dog they came to pat. His salon became famous; and
the admission to it was a diploma of wit. He kept out all the dull, and
ignored all the simply great. Any man who could say a good thing, tell a
good story, write a good lampoon, or mimic a fool, was a welcome guest.
Wits mingled with pedants, courtiers with poets. Abbés and gay women
were at home in the easy society of the cripple, and circulated freely
round his dumb-waiter.

The ladies of the party were not the most respectable in Paris, yet some
who were models of virtue met there, without a shudder, many others who
were patterns of vice. Ninon de l'Enclos--then young--though age made no
alteration in _her_--and already slaying her scores, and ruining her
hundreds of admirers, there met Madame de Sévigné, the most respectable,
as well as the most agreeable, woman of that age. Mademoiselle de
Scudéry, leaving, for the time, her twelve-volume romance, about Cyrus
and Ibrahim, led on a troop of Molière's Précieuses Ridicules, and here
recited her verses, and talked pedantically to Pellisson, the ugliest
man in Paris, of whom Boileau wrote:

    'L'or même à Pellisson donne un teint de beauté.'

Then there was Madame de la Sablière, who was as masculine as her
husband the marquis was effeminate; the Duchesse de Lesdiguières, who
was so anxious to be thought a wit that she employed the Chevalier de
Méré to make her one; and the Comtesse de la Suze, a clever but foolish

The men were poets, courtiers, and pedants. Ménage with his tiresome
memory, Montreuil and Marigni the song-writers, the elegant De Grammont,
Turenne, Coligni, the gallant Abbé Têtu, and many another celebrity,
thronged the rooms where Scarron sat in his curious wheelbarrow.

The conversation was decidedly light; often, indeed, obscene, in spite
of the presence of ladies; but always witty. The hostility of Scarron to
the reigning cardinal was a great recommendation, and when all else
flagged, or the cripple had an unusually sharp attack, he had but to
start with a line of his 'Mazarinade,' and out came a fresh lampoon, a
new caricature, or fresh rounds of wit fired off at the Italian, from
the well-filled cartridge-boxes of the guests, many of whom kept their
_mots_ ready made up for discharge.

But a change came over the spirit of the paralytic's dream. In the Rue
St. Louis, close to Scarron's, lived a certain Madame Neuillant, who
visited him as a neighbour, and one day excited his curiosity by the
romantic history of a mother and daughter, who had long lived in
Martinique, who had been ruined by the extravagance and follies of a
reprobate husband and father; and were now living in great poverty--the
daughter being supported by Madame de Neuillant herself. The
good-natured cripple was touched by this story, and begged his neighbour
to bring the unhappy ladies to one of his parties. The evening came; the
abbé was, as usual, surrounded by a circle of lady wits, dressed in the
last fashions, flaunting their fans, and laughing merrily at his
sallies. Madame de Neuillant was announced, and entered, followed by a
simply-dressed lady, with the melancholy face of one broken-down by
misfortunes, and a pretty girl of fifteen. The contrast between the
new-comers and the fashionable _habituées_ around him at once struck the
abbé. The girl was not only badly, but even shabbily dressed, and the
shortness of her gown showed that she had grown out of it, and could not
afford a new one. The _grandes dames_ turned upon her their eye-glasses,
and whispered comments behind their fans. She was very pretty, they
said, very interesting, elegant, lady-like, and so on; but, _parbleu!_
how shamefully _mal mise!_ The new-comers were led up to the cripple's
dumb-waiter, and the _grandes dames_ drew back their ample petticoats as
they passed. The young girl was overcome with shame, their whispers
reached her; she cast down her pretty eyes, and growing more and more
confused, she could bear it no longer, and burst into tears. The abbé
and his guests were touched by her shyness, and endeavoured to restore
her confidence. Scarron himself leant over, and whispered a few kind
words in her ear; then breaking out into some happy pleasantry, he gave
her time to recover her composure. Such was the first _début_ in
Parisian society of Françoise d'Aubigné, who was destined, as Madame
Scarron, to be afterwards one of its leaders, and, as Madame de
Maintenon, to be its ruler.


Some people are cursed with bad sons--some with erring daughters.
Françoise d'Aubigné was long the victim of a wicked father. Constans
d'Aubigné belonged to an old and honourable family, and was the son of
that famous old Huguenot general, Théodore-Agrippa d'Aubigné, who fought
for a long time under Henry of Navarre, and in his old age wrote the
history of his times. To counterbalance this distinction, the son
Constans brought all the discredit he could on the family. After a
reckless life, in which he squandered his patrimony, he married a rich
widow, and then, it is said, contrived to put her out of the way. He was
imprisoned as a murderer, but acquitted for want of evidence. The story
goes, that he was liberated by the daughter of the governor of the gaol,
whom he had seduced in the prison, and whom he married when free. He
sought to retrieve his fortune in the island of Martinique, ill-treated
his wife, and eventually ran away, and left her and her children to
their fate. They followed him to France, and found him again
incarcerated. Madame d'Aubigné was foolishly fond of her
good-for-nothing spouse, and lived with him in his cell, where the
little Françoise, who had been born in prison, was now educated.

Rescued from starvation by a worthy Huguenot aunt, Madame de Vilette,
the little girl was brought up as a Protestant, and a very stanch one
she proved for a time. But Madame d'Aubigné, who was a Romanist, would
not allow her to remain long under the Calvinist lady's protection, and
sent her to be converted by her godmother, the Madame de Neuillant above
mentioned. This woman, who was as merciless as a woman can be, literally
broke her into Romanism, treated her like a servant, made her groom the
horses, and comb the maid's hair, and when all these efforts failed,
sent her to a convent to be finished off. The nuns did by specious
reasoning what had been begun by persecution, and young Françoise, at
the time she was introduced to Scarron, was a highly respectable member
of 'the only true church.'

Madame d'Aubigné was at this time supporting herself by needlework. Her
sad story won the sympathy of Scarron's guests, who united to relieve
her wants. _La belle Indienne_, as the cripple styled her, soon became a
favourite at his parties, and lost her shyness by degrees. Ninon de
l'Enclos, who did not want heart, took her by the hand, and a friendship
thus commenced between that inveterate Laïs and the future wife of Louis
XIV. which lasted till death.

The beauty of Françoise soon brought her many admirers, among whom was
even one of Ninon's slaves; but as marriage was not the object of these
attentions, and the young girl would not relinquish her virtue, she
remained for some time unmarried but respectable. Scarron was
particularly fond of her, and well knew that, portionless as she was,
the poor girl would have but little chance of making a match. His
kindness touched her, his wit charmed her; she pitied his infirmities,
and as his neighbour, frequently saw and tried to console him. On the
other hand the cripple, though forty years old, and in a state of health
which it is impossible to describe, fell positively in love with the
young girl, who alone of all the ladies who visited him combined wit
with perfect modesty. He pitied her destitution. There was mutual pity,
and we all know what passion that feeling is akin to.

Still, for a paralytic, utterly unfit for marriage in any point of view,
to offer to a beautiful young girl, would have seemed ridiculous, if not
unpardonable. But let us take into account the difference in ideas of
matrimony between ourselves and the French. We must remember that
marriage has always been regarded among our neighbours as a contract for
mutual benefit, into which the consideration of money of necessity
entered largely. It is true that some qualities are taken as equivalents
for actual cash: thus, if a young man has a straight and well-cut nose
he may sell himself at a higher price than a young man there with the
hideous pug; if a girl is beautiful, the marquis will be content with
some thousands of francs less for her dower than if her hair were red or
her complexion irreclaimably brown. If Julie has a pretty foot, a
_svelte_ waist, and can play the piano thunderingly, or sing in the
charmingest soprano, her ten thousand francs are quite as acceptable as
those of stout awkward, glum-faced Jeannette. The faultless boots and
yellow kids of young Adolphe counterbalance the somewhat apocryphal
vicomté of ill-kempt and ill-attired Henri.

But then there must be _some_ fortune. A Frenchman is so much in the
habit of expecting it, that he thinks it almost a crime to fall in love
where there is none. Françoise, pretty, clever, agreeable as she was,
was penniless, and even worse, she was the daughter of a man who had
been imprisoned on suspicion of murder, and a woman who had gained her
livelihood by needlework. All these considerations made the fancy of the
merry abbé less ridiculous, and Françoise herself, being sufficiently
versed in the ways of the world to understand the disadvantage under
which she laboured, was less amazed and disgusted than another girl
might have been, when, in due course, the cripple offered her himself
and his dumb-waiter. He had little more to give--his pension, a tiny
income from his prebend and his Marquisat de Quinet.

The offer of the little man was not so amusing as other episodes of his
life. He went honestly to work; represented to her what a sad lot would
hers be, if Madame de Neuillant died, and what were the temptations of
beauty without a penny. His arguments were more to the point than
delicate, and he talked to the young girl as if she was a woman of the
world. Still, she accepted him, cripple as he was.

Madame de Neuillant made no objection, for she was only too glad to be
rid of a beauty, who ate and drank, but did not marry.

On the making of the contract, Scarron's fun revived. When asked by the
notary what was the young lady's fortune, he replied: 'Four louis, two
large wicked eyes, one fine figure, one pair of good hands, and lots of
mind.' 'And what do you give her?' asked the lawyer.--'Immortality,'
replied he, with the air of a bombastic poet 'The names of the wives of
kings die with them--that of Scarron's wife will live for ever!'

His marriage obliged him to give up his canonry, which he sold to
Ménage's man-servant, a little bit of simony which was not even noticed
in those days. It is amusing to find a man who laughed at all religion,
insisting that his wife should make a formal avowal of the Romish
faith. Of the character of this marriage we need say no more than that
Scarron had at that time the use of no more than his eyes, tongue, and
hands. Yet such was then, as now, the idea of matrimony in France, that
the young lady's friends considered her fortunate.

Scarron in love was a picture which amazed and amused the whole society
of Paris, but Scarron married was still more curious. The queen, when
she heard of it, said that Françoise would be nothing but a useless bit
of furniture in his house. She proved not only the most useful appendage
he could have, but the salvation alike of his soul and his reputation.
The woman who charmed Louis XIV. by her good sense, had enough of it to
see Scarron's faults, and prided herself on reforming him as far as it
was possible. Her husband had hitherto been the great Nestor of
indelicacy, and when he was induced to give it up, the rest followed his
example. Madame Scarron checked the licence of the abbé's conversation,
and even worked a beneficial change in his mind.

The joviality of their parties still continued. Scarron had always been
famous for his _petits soupers_, the fashion of which he introduced, but
as his poverty would not allow him to give them in proper style, his
friends made a pic-nic of it, and each one either brought or sent his
own dish of ragout, or whatever it might be, and his own bottle of wine.
This does not seem to have been the case after the marriage, however;
for it is related as a proof of Madame Scarron's conversational powers,
that, when one evening a poorer supper than usual was served, the waiter
whispered in her ear, 'Tell them another story, Madame, if you please,
for we have no joint to-night.' Still both guests and host could well
afford to dispense with the coarseness of the cripple's talk, which
might raise a laugh, but must sometimes have caused disgust, and the
young wife of sixteen succeeded in making him purer both in his
conversation and his writings.

The household she entered was indeed a villainous one. Scarron rather
gloried in his early delinquencies, and, to add to this, his two sisters
had characters far from estimable. One of them had been maid of honour
to the Princesse de Conti, but had given up her appointment to become
the mistress of the Duc de Trêmes. The laugher laughed even at his
sister's dishonour, and allowed her to live in the same house on a
higher _étage_. When, on one occasion, some one called on him to solicit
the lady's interest with the duke, he coolly said, 'You are mistaken; it
is not I who know the duke; go up to the next storey.' The offspring of
this connection he styled 'his nephews after the fashion of the Marais.'
Françoise did her best to reclaim this sister and to conceal her shame,
but the laughing abbé made no secret of it.

But the laugher was approaching his end. His attacks became more and
more violent: still he laughed at them. Once he was seized with a
terrible choking hiccup, which threatened to suffocate him. The first
moment he could speak he cried, 'If I get well, I'll write a satire on
the hiccup.' The priests came about him, and his wife did what she could
to bring him to a sense of his future danger. He laughed at the priests
and at his wife's fears. She spoke of hell. 'If there is such a place,'
he answered, 'it won't be for me, for without you I must have had my
hell in this life.' The priests told him, by way of consolation, that
'God had visited him more than any man.'--He does me too much honour,'
answered the mocker. 'You should give him thanks,' urged the
ecclesiastic. 'I can't see for what,' was the shameless answer.

On his death-bed he parodied a will, leaving to Corneille 'two hundred
pounds of patience; to Boileau (with whom he had a long feud), the
gangrene; and to the Academy, the power to alter the French language as
they liked.' His legacy in verse to his wife is grossly disgusting, and
quite unfit for quotation. Yet he loved her well, avowed that his chief
grief in dying was the necessity of leaving her, and begged her to
remember him sometimes, and to lead a virtuous life.

His last moments were as jovial as any. When he saw his friends weeping
around him he shook his head and cried, 'I shall never make you weep as
much as I have made you laugh.' A little later a softer thought of hope
came across him. 'No more sleeplessness, no more gout,' he murmured;
'the Queen's patient will be well at last' At length the laugher was
sobered. In the presence of death, at the gates of a new world, he
muttered, half afraid, 'I never thought it was so easy to laugh at
death,' and so expired. This was in October, 1660, when the cripple had
reached the age of fifty.

Thus died a laugher. It is unnecessary here to trace the story of his
widow's strange rise to be the wife of a king. Scarron was no honour to
her, and in later years she tried to forget his existence. Boileau fell
into disgrace for merely mentioning his name before the king. Yet
Scarron was in many respects a better man than Louis; and, laugher as he
was, he had a good heart. There is a time for mirth and a time for
mourning, the Preacher tells us. Scarron never learned this truth, and
he laughed too much and too long. Yet let us not end the laugher's life
in sorrow:

    'It is well to be merry and wise,' &c.

Let us be merry as the poor cripple, who bore his sufferings so well,
and let us be wise too. There is a lesson for gay and grave in the life
of Scarron, the laugher.


[Footnote 27: _Coadjuteur._--A high office in the Church of Rome.]


  Rank and Good Breeding.--The Hôtel de Rochefoucault.--Racine and
      his Plays.--La Rochefoucault's Wit and Sensibility.--Saint
      Simon's Youth.--Looking out for a Wife.--Saint-Simon's Court
      Life.--The History of Louise de la Vallière.--A mean Act of
      Louis Quatorze.--All has passed away.--Saint-Simon's Memoirs of
      His Own Time.

The precursor of Saint-Simon, the model of Lord Chesterfield, this
ornament of his age, belonged, as well as Saint-Simon, to that state of
society in France which was characterised--as Lord John Russell, in his
'Memoirs of the Duchess of Orleans,' tells us--by an idolatry of power
and station. 'God would not condemn a person of that rank,' was the
exclamation of a lady of the old _régime_, on hearing, that a notorious
sinner, 'Pair de France,' and one knows not what else, had gone to his
account impenitent and unabsolved; and though the sentiment may strike
us as profane, it was, doubtless, genuine.

Rank, however was often adorned by accomplishments which, like an
exemption from rules of conduct, it almost claimed as a privilege.
Good-breeding was a science in France; natural to a peasant, even, it
was studied as an epitome of all the social virtues. '_N'étre pas poli_'
was the sum total of all dispraise: a man could only recover from it by
splendid valour or rare gifts; a woman could not hope to rise out of
that Slough of Despond to which good-breeding never came. We were behind
all the arts of civilization in England, as François de Rochefoucault
(we give the orthography of the present day) was in his cradle. This
brilliant personage, who combined the wit and the moralist, the courtier
and the soldier, the man of literary tastes and the sentimentalist _par
excellence_, was born in 1613. In addition to his hereditary title of
duc, he had the empty honour, as Saint-Simon calls it, of being Prince
de Marsillac, a designation which was lost in that of _De la
Rochefoucault_--so famous even to the present day. As he presented
himself at the court of the regency, over which Anne of Austria
nominally presided, no youth there was more distinguished for his
elegance or for the fame of his exploits during the wars of the Fronde
than this youthful scion of an illustrious house. Endowed by nature with
a pleasing countenance, and, what was far more important in that
fastidious region, an air of dignity, he displayed wonderful
contradictions in his character and bearing. He had, says Madame de
Maintenon, '_beaucoup d'esprit, et peu de savoir_;' an expressive
phrase. 'He was,' she adds, 'pliant in nature, intriguing, and
cautious;' nevertheless she never, she declares, possessed a more steady
friend, nor one more confiding and better adapted to advise. Brave as he
was, he held personal valour, or affected to do so, in light estimation.
His ambition was to rule others. Lively in conversation, though
naturally pensive, he assembled around him all that Paris or Versailles
could present of wit and intellect.

The old Hôtel de Rochefoucault, in the Rue de Seine, in the Faubourg St.
Germain, in Paris, still grandly recalls the assemblies in which Racine,
Boileau, Madame de Sévigné, the La Fayettes, and the famous Duchesse de
Longueville, used to assemble. The time honoured family of De la
Rochefoucault still preside there; though one of its fairest ornaments,
the young, lovely, and pious Duchesse de la Rochefoucault of our time,
died in 1852--one of the first known victims to diphtheria in France, in
that unchanged old locality. There, when the De Longuevilles, the
Mazarins, and those who had formed the famous council of state of Anne
of Austria had disappeared, the poets and wits who gave to the age of
Louis XIV. its true brilliancy, collected around the Duc de la
Rochefoucault. What a scene it must have been in those days, as Buffon
said of the earth in spring '_tout four-mille de vie!_' Let us people
the salon of the Hôtel de Rochefoucault with visions of the past; see
the host there, in his chair, a martyr to the gout, which he bore with
all the cheerfulness of a Frenchman, and picture to ourselves the great
men who were handing him his cushion, or standing near his _fauteuil_.

Racine's joyous face may be imagined as he comes in fresh from the
College of Harcourt. Since he was born in 1639, he had not arrived at
his zenith till La Rochefoucault was almost past his prime. For a man at
thirty-six in France can no longer talk prospectively of the departure
of youth; it is gone. A single man of thirty, even in Paris, is '_un
vieux garçon_:' life begins too soon and ends too soon with those
pleasant sinners, the French. And Racine, when he was first routed out
of Port Royal, where he was educated, and presented to the whole
Faubourg St. Germain, beheld his patron, La Rochefoucault, in the
position of a disappointed man. An early adventure of his youth had
humbled, perhaps, the host of the Hôtel de Rochefoucault. At the battle
of St. Antoine, where he had distinguished himself, 'a musket-ball had
nearly deprived him of sight. On this occasion he had quoted these
lines, taken from the tragedy of '_Alcyonnée_.' It must, however, be
premised that the famous Duchess de Longueville had urged him to engage
in the wars of the Fronde. To her these lines were addressed:--

    'Pour mériter son coeur, pour plaire à ses beaux yeux,
     J'ai fait la guerre aux Rois, je l'aurais faite aux dieux.'

But now he had broken off his intimacy with the duchesse, and he
therefore parodied these lines:--

    'Pour ce coeur inconstant, qu'enfin je connais mieux,
     J'ai fait la guerre aux Rois, j'en ai perdue les yeux.'

Nevertheless, La Rochefoucault was still the gay, charming, witty host
and courtier. Racine composed, in 1660, his '_Nymphe de Seine_,' in
honour of the marriage of Louis XIV., and was then brought into notice
of those whose notice was no empty compliment, such as, in our day,
illustrious dukes pay to more illustrious authors, by asking them to be
jumbled in a crowd at a time when the rooks are beginning to caw. We
catch, as they may, the shadow of a dissolving water-ice, or see the
exit of an unattainable tray of negus. No; in the days of Racine, as in
those of Halifax and Swift in England, solid fruits grew out of fulsome
praise; and Colbert, then minister, settled a pension of six hundred
livres, as francs were called in those days (twenty-four pounds), on the
poet. And with this the former pupil of Port Royal was fain to be
content. Still he was so poor that he _almost_ went into the church, an
uncle offering to resign him a priory of his order if he would become a
regular. He was a candidate for orders, and wore a sacerdotal dress when
he wrote the tragedy of 'Theagenes,' and that of the 'Frères Ennemis,'
the subject of which was given him by Molière.

He continued, in spite of a quarrel with the saints of Port Royal, to
produce noble dramas from time to time, but quitted theatrical pursuits
after bringing out (in 1677) 'Phèdre,' that _chef-d'oeuvre_ not only
of its author, but, as a performance, of the unhappy but gifted Rachel.
Corneille was old, and Paris looked to Racine to supply his place, yet
he left the theatrical world for ever. Racine had been brought up with
deep religious convictions; they could not, however, preserve him from a
mad, unlawful attachment. He loved the actress Champmesle: but
repentance came. He resolved not only to write no more plays, but to do
penance for those already given to the world. He was on the eve of
becoming, in his penitence, a Carthusian friar, when his religious
director advised marriage instead. He humbly did as he was told, and
united himself to the daughter of a treasurer for France, of Amiens, by
whom he had seven children. It was only at the request of Madame de
Maintenon that he wrote 'Esther' for the convent of St. Cyr, where it
was first acted.

His death was the result of his benevolent, sensitive nature. Having
drawn up an excellent paper on the miseries of the people, he gave it to
Madame de Maintenon to read it to the king. Louis, in a transport of
ill-humour, said, 'What! does he suppose because he is a poet that he
ought to be minister of state?' Racine is said to have been so wounded
by this speech that he was attacked by a fever and died. His decease
took place in 1699, nineteen years after that of La Rochefoucault, who
died in 1680.

Amongst the circle whom La Rochefoucault loved to assemble were
Boileau--Despréaux, and Madame de Sévigné--the one whose wit and the
other whose grace completed the delights of that salon. A life so
prosperous as La Rochefoucault's had but one cloud--the death of his son
who was killed during the passage of the French troops over the Rhine.
We attach to the character of this accomplished man the charms of wit;
we may also add the higher attractions of sensibility. Notwithstanding
the worldly and selfish character which is breathed forth in his 'Maxims
and Reflections,' there lay at the bottom of his heart true piety.
Struck by the death of a neighbour, this sentiment seems even on the
point of being expressed; but, adds Madame de Sévigné, and her phrase is
untranslatable, '_il n'est pas effleuré_.'

All has passed away! the _Fronde_ has become a memory, not a realized
idea. Old people shake their heads, and talk of Richelieu; of his
gorgeous palace at Rueil, with its lake and its prison thereon, and its
mysterious dungeons, and its avenues of chestnuts, and its fine statues;
and of its cardinal, smiling, whilst the worm that never dieth is eating
into his very heart; a seared conscience, and playing the fine gentleman
to fine ladies in a rich stole, and with much garniture of costly lace:
whilst beneath all is the hair shirt, that type of penitence and
sanctity which he ever wore as a salvo against all that passion and
ambition that almost burst the beating heart beneath that hair shirt.
Richelieu has gone to his fathers. Mazarin comes on the scene; the wily,
grasping Italian. He too vanishes; and forth, radiant in youth, and
strong in power, comes Louis, and the reign of politeness and periwigs

The Duc de Saint-Simon, perhaps the greatest portrait-painter of any
time, has familiarized us with the greatness, the littleness, the
graces, the defects of that royal actor on the stage of Europe, whom his
own age entitled Louis the Great. A wit, in his writings, of the first
order--if we comprise under the head of wit the deepest discernment, the
most penetrating satire--Saint-Simon was also a soldier, philosopher, a
reformer, a Trappist, and, eventually, a devotee. Like all young men who
wished for court favour, he began by fighting: Louis cared little for
carpet knights. He entered, however, into a scene which he has
chronicled with as much fidelity as our journalists do a police report,
and sat quietly down to gather observations--not for his own fame, not
even for the amusement of his children or grandchildren--but for the
edification of posterity yet a century afar off his own time. The
treasures were buried until 1829.

A word or two about Saint-Simon and his youth. At nineteen he was
destined by his mother to be married. Now every one knows how marriages
are managed in France, not only in the time of Saint-Simon, but even to
the present day. A mother or an aunt, or a grandmother, or an
experienced friend, looks out; be it for son, be it for daughter, it is
the business of her life. She looks and she finds: family, suitable;
fortune, convenient; person, _pas mal_; principles, Catholic, with a due
abhorrence of heretics, especially English ones. After a time, the lady
is to be looked at by the unhappy _prétendû_; a church, a mass, or
vespers, being very often the opportunity agreed. The victim thinks she
will do. The proposal is discussed by the two mammas; relatives are
called in; all goes well; the contract is signed; then, a measured
acquaintance is allowed: but no _tête-à-têtes;_ no idea of love. 'What!
so indelicate a sentiment before marriage! Let me not hear of it,' cries
mamma, in a sanctimonious panic. 'Love! _Quelle bêtise!_' adds _mon

But Saint-Simon, it seems, had the folly to wish to make a marriage of
inclination. Rich, _pair de France_, his father--an old _roué_, who had
been page to Louis XIII.--dead, he felt extremely alone in the world. He
cast about to see whom he could select. The Duc de Beauvilliers had
eight daughters; a misfortune, it may be thought, in France or anywhere
else. Not at all: three of the young ladies were kept at home, to be
married; the other five were at once disposed of, as they passed the
unconscious age of infancy, in convents. Saint-Simon was, however,
disappointed. He offered, indeed; first for the eldest, who was not then
fifteen years old; and finding that she had a vocation for a conventual
life, went on to the third, and was going through the whole family, when
he was convinced that his suit was impossible. The eldest daughter
happened to be a disciple of Fénélon's, and was on the very eve of being
vowed to heaven.

Saint-Simon went off to La Trappe, to console himself for his
disappointment. There had been an old intimacy between Monsieur La
Trappe and the father of Saint-Simon; and this friendship had induced
him to buy an estate close to the ancient abbey where La Trappe still
existed. The friendship became hereditary; and Saint-Simon, though still
a youth, revered and loved the penitent recluse of _Ferté au Vidame_, of
which Lamartine has written so grand and so poetical a description.

Let us hasten over his marriage with Mademoiselle de Lorges, who proved
a good wife. It was this time a grandmother, the Maréchale de Lorges,
who managed the treaty; and Saint-Simon became the happy husband of an
innocent blonde, with a majestic air, though only fifteen years of age.
Let us hasten on, passing over his presents; his six hundred louis,
given in a corbeille full of what he styles 'gallantries;' his mother's
donation of jewellery; the midnight mass, by which he was linked to the
child who scarcely knew him; let us lay all that aside, and turn to his
court life.

At this juncture Louis XIV., who had hitherto dressed with great
simplicity, indicated that he desired his court should appear in all
possible magnificence. Instantly the shops were emptied. Even gold and
silver appeared scarcely rich enough. Louis himself planned many of the
dresses for any public occasion. Afterwards he repented of the extent to
which he had permitted magnificence to go, but it was then impossible to
check the excess.

Versailles, henceforth in all its grandeur, contains an apartment which
is called, from its situation, and the opportunities it presents of
looking down upon the actors of the scene around, _L'OEil de Boeuf_.
The revelations of the OEil de Boeuf, during the reign of Louis XV.,
form one of the most amazing pictures of wickedness, venality, power
misapplied, genius polluted, that was ever drawn. No one that reads that
infamous book can wonder at the revolution of 1789. Let us conceive
Saint-Simon to have taken his stand here, in this region, pure in the
time of Louis XIV., comparatively, and note we down his comments on men
and women.

He has journeyed up to court from La Trappe, which has fallen into
confusion and quarrels, to which the most saintly precincts are
peculiarly liable.

The history of Mademoiselle de la Vallière was not, as he tells us, of
his time. He hears of her death, and so indeed does the king, with
emotion. She expired in 1710, in the Rue St. Jacques, at the Carmelite
convent, where, though she was in the heart of Paris, her seclusion from
the world had long been complete. Amongst the nuns of the convent none
was so humble, so penitent, so chastened as this once lovely Louise de
la Vallière, now, during a weary term of thirty-five years, 'Marie de la
Miséricorde.' She had fled from the scene of her fall at one-and-thirty
years of age. Twice had she taken refuge among the 'blameless vestals,'
whom she envied as the broken-spirited envy the passive. First, she
escaped from the torture of witnessing the king's passion for Madame de
Montespan, by hiding herself among the Benedictine sisters at St. Cloud.
Thence the king fetched her in person, threatening to order the cloister
to be burnt. Next, Lauzun, by the command of Louis, sought her, and
brought her _avec main forte_. The next time she fled no more; but took
a public farewell of all she had too fondly loved, and throwing herself
at the feet of the queen, humbly entreated her pardon. Never since that
voluntary sepulture had she ceased, during those long and weary years,
to lament--as the heart-stricken can alone lament--her sins. In deep
contrition she learned the death of her son by the king, and bent her
head meekly beneath the chastisement.

Three years before her death the triumphant Athénée de Montespan had
breathed her last at Bourbon. If Louis XIV. had nothing else to repent
of, the remorse of these two women ought to have wrung his heart.
Athénée de Montespan was a youthful, innocent beauty, fresh from the
seclusion of provincial life, when she attracted the blighting regards
of royalty. A _fête_ was to be given; she saw, she heard that she was
its object. She entreated her husband to take her back to his estate in
Guyenne, and to leave her there till the king had forgotten her. Her
husband, in fatal confidence, trusted her resistance, and refused her
petition. It was a life-long sorrow; and he soon found his mistake. He
lived and died passionately attached to his wife, but never saw her
after her fall.

When she retired from court, to make room for the empire of the subtle
De Maintenon, it was her son, the Duc de Maine, who induced her, not
from love, but from ambition, to withdraw. She preserved, even in her
seclusion in the country, the style of a queen, which she had assumed.
Even her natural children by the king were never allowed to sit in her
presence, on a _fauteuil_, but were only permitted to have small chairs.
Every one went to pay her court, and she spoke to them as if doing them
an honour; neither did she ever return a visit, even from the royal
family. Her fatal beauty endured to the last: nothing could exceed her
grace, her tact, her good sense in conversation, her kindness to every

But it was long before her restless spirit could find real peace. She
threw herself on the guidance of the Abbé de la Tour; for the dread of
death was ever upon her. He suggested a terrible test of her penitence.
It was, that she should entreat her husband's pardon, and return to him.
It was a fearful struggle with herself, for she was naturally haughty
and high spirited; but she consented. After long agonies of hesitation,
she wrote to the injured man. Her letter was couched in the most humble
language; but it received no reply. The Marquis de Montespan, through a
third person, intimated to her that he would neither receive her, nor
see her, nor hear her name pronounced. At his death she wore widow's
weeds; but never assumed his arms, nor adopted his liveries.

Henceforth, all she had was given to the poor. When Louis meanly cut
down her pension, she sent word that she was sorry for the poor, not for
herself; they would be the losers. She then humbled herself to the very
dust: wore the hardest cloth next her fair skin; had iron bracelets; and
an iron girdle, which made wounds on her body. Moreover, she punished
the most unruly members of her frame: she kept her tongue in bounds;
she ceased to slander; she learned to bless. The fear of death still
haunted her; she lay in bed with every curtain drawn, the room lighted
up with wax candles; whilst she hired watchers to sit up all night, and
insisted that they should never cease talking or laughing, lest, when
she woke, the fear of _death_ might come over her affrighted spirit.

She died at last after a few hours' illness, having just time to order
all her household to be summoned, and before them to make a public
confession of her sins. As she lay expiring, blessing God that she died
far away from the children of her adulterous connection, the Comte
d'Antin, her only child by the Marquis de Montespan, arrived. Peace and
trust had then come at last to the agonized woman. She spoke to him
about her state of mind, and expired.

To Madame de Maintenon the event would, it was thought, be a relief: yet
she wept bitterly on hearing of it. The king showed, on the contrary,
the utmost indifference, on learning that one whom he had once loved so
much was gone for ever.

All has passed away! The _OEil de Boeuf_ is now important only as
being pointed out to strangers; Versailles is a show-place, not a
habitation. Saint-Simon, who lived until 1775, was truly said to have
turned his back on the new age, and to live in the memories of a former
world of wit and fashion. He survived until the era of the
'Encyclopédie' of Voltaire, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He lived, indeed,
to hear that Montesquieu was no more. How the spirit of Louis XIV. spoke
in his contemptuous remarks on Voltaire, whom he would only call Arouet;
'The son of my father's and my own notary.'

At length, after attaining his eightieth year, the chronicler, who knew
the weaknesses, the vices, the peculiarities of mankind, even to a
hair's breadth, expired; having long given up the court and occupied
himself, whilst secluded in his country seat, solely with the revising
and amplification of his wonderful Memoirs.

No works, it has been remarked, since those of Sir Walter Scott, have
excited so much sensation as the Memoirs of his own time, by the
soldier, ambassador, and _Trappist_, Duc de Saint-Simon.

                   Transcriber's Notes.

     1. The following typos were corrected:
     2. The various spellings of Shakespeare//Shakespere//Shakspeare
        and Dutchess//Duchess in the original text were retained.
     3. The year Mary Fairfax and George Villiers, the
        2nd Duke of Buckingham, were married is transposed
        from 1657 to 1675 in the original text. The day also
        appears to be in error (6th->15th).

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