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ed tenement in which he now lay, and where, until the preceding day, he had endeavoured to lose the sense of his misery, by an almost continued and inordinate pursuit of the chace.
These, and further particulars, which were gradually elicited from the servant, and which served to paint, in strong colours, the extreme want and misery of this once opulent and powerful nobleman, had, notwithstanding their just abhorrence of his character, produced a deep sense of commiseration in the breasts both of Mr. Walsingham and Adeline, a feeling which was augmented to an almost painful degree of intensity by the import of the letter, which Mr. Walsingham now read aloud. It was directed to the Rev. David Walsingham, dated April the 14th, 1687, and ran as follows. *
* This letter, which I have copied verbatim, with the exception of but a line and a half, distinguished by italics, from Mr. Hinderwell's" History and Antiquities of Scarborough," 4to edition, 1798. pp. 347-8-9, has been considered as authentic; though it appears to me, that the style is greatly superior to that of the specimens which we possess of the prose composition of Buckingham. The contrition, however, and the sentiments, which this document displays, are such as every good man will wish may have been those of his Grace at this momentous period of his life.
"I have reason to believe you to be a person of true virtue, and I know you to have a sound understanding; for, however I may have acted in opposition to the principles of religion or the dictates of reason, I can honestly assure you, I have always had a high veneration for both. The world and I shake hands; for, I dare affirm, we are heartily weary of each other. O, what a prodigal have I been of that most valuable of all possessions, time! I have squandered it away with a profusion unparalleled; and now, when the enjoyment of a few days would be worth the world, I cannot flatter myself with the prospect of half a dozen hours. How despicable is that man who never prays to his God but in the time of distress! In what manner can he supplicate that Omnipotent Being in his afflictions, whom, in the time of his prosperity, he never remembered with reverence?
"Do not brand me with infidelity when tell you that I am almost ashamed to offer up my petitions at the throne of grace, or to implore that divine mercy in the next world, which I have scandalously abused in this.
"Shall ingratitude to man be looked upon as the blackest of crimes, and not ingratitude to God?
"Shall an insult offered to the king be looked upon in the most offensive light, and yet no notice taken when the King of kings is treated with indignity and disrespect?
"The companions of my former libertinism would scarcely believe their eyes were you to shew this epistle. They would laugh at me as a dreaming enthusiast, or pity me as a timorous wretch, who was shocked at the appearance of futurity; but whoever laughs at me for being right, or pities me for being sensible of my errors, is more entitled to my compassion than resentment. A future state may well enough strike terror into any man who has not acted well in this life; and he must have an uncommon share of courage, indeed, who does not shrink at the presence of God. The apprehensions of death will soon bring the most profligate to a proper use of his understanding. To what a situation am I now reduced! odious little hut a suitable lodging for a prince? Is this anxiety of mind becoming the character
of a Christian? From my rank, I might have expected affluence to wait upon my life; from religion and understanding, peace to smile upon my end instead of which, I am afflicted with poverty, and haunted with remorse, despised by my country, and, I fear, forsaken by my God.
"There is nothing so dangerous as extraordinary abilities. I cannot be accused of vanity now, by being sensible that I was once possessed of uncommon qualifications, especially as I sincerely regret that I ever had them. My rank in life made these accomplishments still more conspicuous, and, fascinated by the general applause which they procured, I never considered the proper means by which they should be displayed. Hence, to procure a smile from a blockhead whom I despised, I have frequently treated the virtues with disrespect, and sported with the holy name of heaven to obtain a laugh from a parcel of fools, who were entitled to nothing but contempt.
"Your men of wit generally look upon themselves as discharged from the duties of religion, and confine the doctrines of the gospel to people of meaner understandings. It is a sort of
derogation, in their opinion, to comply with the rules of Christianity; and they reckon that man possessed of a narrow genius, who studies to be good.
"What a pity that the holy writings are not made the criterion of true judgment; or that any person should pass for a fine gentleman in this world, but he that appears solicitous about his happiness in the next.
"I am forsaken by all my acquaintance, utterly neglected by the friends of my bosom, and the dependants on my bounty; but no matter! I am not fit to converse with the former, and have no ability to serve the latter. Let me not, however, be wholly cast off by the good. Favour me with a visit as soon as possible. Writing to you gives me some ease, and the talking with you on a subject now nearest to my heart, will give me still more.
"I am of opinion this is the last visit I shall ever solicit from you; my distemper is powerful; come and pray for the departing spirit of the poor unhappy