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which other writers, and common tradition, difpofe us to form of him.
He was a wonderful man, fays he, whether we confider the conftant good fenfe, and agree⚫able mirth of his ordinary conversation, or the • vast reach and compafs of his inventions, and the amazing depth of his retired thoughts; the uncommon graces of his fafhion, or the inimitable turns of his wit, the becoming gentleness, the bewitching foftnefs of his civility, or the force and fitness of his fatire ; for as he was both the delight, the love, and the dotage of the women, fo was he • a continued curb to impertinence, and the public ⚫ cenfure of folly; never did man ftay in his company unentertained, or leave it uninstructed; never was his understanding biassed, or his pleasant• nefs forced; never did he laugh in the wrong
place, or prostitute his fenfe to ferve his luxury; • never did he stab into the wounds of fallen vir
tue, with a bafe and a cowardly infult, or fmooth the face of profperous villany, with the paint and wathes of a mercenary wit; never did he spare a fop for being rich, or flatter a knave for being great. He had a wit that was accompanied with an unaffected greatnefs of mind, and a natural love to justice and truth; a wit that was in perpetual war with knavery, and ever attacking those kind of vices moft, whofe malignity was like to be the moft diffufive, such as tended more immediately to the prejudice of public bodies, and were a common nufance to the happiness of human kind. Never was his pen drawn but on the fide of good fenfe, and ufually employed like the arms of the ancient heroes, to top the progrefs of arbitrary oppreffion, and beat down the brutishness of head
ftrong will: to do his King and country juftice, upon fuch public ftate thieves as would beggar a kingdom to enrich themselves: these · were the vermin whom to his eternal honour his pen was continually pricking and goading; a pen, if not fo happy in the fuccefs, yet as generous in the aim, as either the fword of Thefeus, or the club of Hercules; nor was it lefs. fharp than that, or lefs weighty than this. If he did not take fo much care of himself as he ought, he had the humanity however, to wish "well to others; and I think I may truly af firm he did the world as much good by a right application of fatire, as he hurt himfelf by a wrong purfuit of pleasure.'
In this amiable light has Mr. Wolfely drawn our author, and nothing is more certain, than that it is a portraiture of the imagination, warmed with gratitude, or friendship, and bears but little or no refemblance to that of Rochester, ; can he whofe fatire is always levelled at parti-' cular perfons, be faid to be the terror of knaves, and the public foe of vice, when he himself has acknowledged that he fatirized only to gratify his refentment; for it was his opinion, that writing fatires without being in a rage, was like killing in cold blood. Was his converfation intructive whofe mouth was full of obfcenity; and was he a friend to his country, who diffused a dangerous venom thro' his works to corrupt its members? in which, it is to be feared he has been but too fuccefs-.. ful. Did he never fmooth the face of profperous villainy, as Mr. Wolfely expreffes it, the scope of whose life was to promote and encourage the moft licentious debauchery, and to unhinge all the principles of honour? Either Mr. Wolfely must be strangely mistaken? or all other writers who have given us 0 3
accounts of Rochester must be fo; and as his fingle affertions are not equal to the united authorities of fo many, we may reasonably reject teftimony as a deviation from truth.
We have now feen these scenes of my lord Rochefter's life, in which he appears to little advantage; it is with infinite pleasure we can take a view of the brighter fide of his character; to do which, we must attend him to his death-bed. Had he been the amiable man Mr. Wolfely reprefents him, he needed not have fuffered fo many pangs of remorfe, nor felt the horrors of confcience, nor been driven almoft to defpair by his reflexions on a mifpent life.
Rochefter lived a profligate, but he died a penitent. He lived in defiance of all principles; but when he felt the cold hand of death upon him, he reflected on his folly, and faw that the portion of iniquity is, at laft, fure to be only pain and anguish.
Dr. Burnet, the excellent bishop of Sarum (however he may be reviled by a party) with many other obligations conferred upon the world, has added fome account of lord Rochefter in his dying moments. No ftate policy in this cafe, can well be fuppofed to have biaffed him, and when there are no motives to falfehood, it is fomewhat cruel to difcredit affertions. The Dr. could not be influenced by views of intereft to give this, or any other account of his lordship; and could certainly have no other incentive, but that of ferving his country, by fhewing the inftability of vice, and, by drawing into light an illuftrious penitent, adding one wreath more to the banners of virtue.
Burnet begins with telling us, that an accident fell out in the early part of the Earl's life, which in its confequences confirmed him in the pursuit of vicious courses.
"When he went to fea in the year 1665, there happened to be in the fame fhip with him, Mr. Montague, and another gentleman of quality; thefe two, the former efpecially, feemed perfuaded that they fhould never return into England. Mr. Montague faid, he was fure of it; the other was not fo pofitive. The earl of Rochefter and the last of thefe entered into a formal engagement, not without ceremonies of religion, that if either of them died, he should appear and give the other notice of the future ftate, if there was any. But Mr. Montague would not enter into the bond. When the Day came that they thought to have taken the Dutch fleet in the port of Bergen, Mr. Montague, tho' he had fuch a strong prefage in his mind of his approaching death, yet he bravely ftayed all the while in the place of the greatest danger. The other gentleman fignalized his courage in the moft undaunted manner, till near the end of the action; when he fell on a fudden into fuch a trembling, that he could fcarce ftand: and Mr. Montague going to him to hold him up, as they were in each others arms, a cannon ball carried away Mr. Montague's belly, so that he expired in an hour after."
The earl of Rochefter told Dr. Burnet, that thefe prefages they had in their minds, made fome impreffion on him that there were feparate beings; and that the foul either by a natural fagacity, or fome fecret notice communicated to it, had a fort of divination. But this gentleman's never appearing was a fnare to him during the rest of his life: Though when he mentioned this, he could not but acknowledge, it was an unreasonable thing for him to think that beings in another state were not under fuch laws and limits that they could not command their motion, but as the fupreme power fhould order them; and that one who had fo cor04
rupted the natural principles of truth as he had, had no reason to expect that miracles should be wrought for his conviction.
He told Dr. Burnet another odd prefage of approaching death, in lady Ware, his mother-in-law's family. The chaplain had dreamed that fuch a day he fhould die; but being by all the. family laughed out of the belief of it, he had almoft forgot it, till the evening before at fupper; there being thirteen at table, according to an old conceit that one of the family muft foon die, one of the young ladies pointed to him, that he was the perfon. Upon this the chaplain recalling to mind his dream, fell into fome diforder, and the lady Ware reproving him for his fuperftition, he faid, he was confident he was to die before morning; but he being in perfect health, it was not much minded. It was faturday night, and he was to preach next › day. He went to his chamber and fet up late as it appeared by the burning of his candle; and he had been preparing his notes for his fermon, but was found dead in his bed next morning.
Thefe things his lordship faid, made him incline to believe that the foul was of a fubftance distinct from matter; but that which convinced him of it was, that in his laft fickness, which brought him fo near his death, when his fpirits were so spent he could not move or ftir, and did not hope to live an hour, he faid his reafon and judgment were fo clear and strong, that from thence he was fully perfuaded, that death was not the diffolution of the foul, but only the feparation of it from matter. He had in that ficknefs great remorfe for his past life; but he afterwards faid, they were rather general and dark horrors, than any conviction of tranfgreffion against his maker; he was forry he had lived fo as to waste his ftrength so foon, or that he had brought fuch an ill name upon himself; and had an agony in his