« PreviousContinue »
the Earl of Kingfton, and the court of Auguftas much more brilliant than that of Charles II.
Our author had not been long at the feat of this Earl, before, being feized with the fmall pox, he died December 9, 1683, in the 30th year of his age, and was interred with the utmost decency, his lordship attending as chief mourner, in the church there, where the earl foon after erected a monu ment to his memory. Mr. Oldham's works were printed at London 1722, in two volumes 12mo. They chiefly confist of Satires, Odes, Tranflations, Paraphrafes of Horace, and other authors; Elegiac Verfes, Imitations, Parodies, Familiar Epiftles, &c.— Mr. Oldham was tall of ftature, the make of his body very thin, his face long, his nofe prominent, his afpect unpromising, and satire was in his eye. His conftitution was very tender, inclined to a confumption, and it was not a little injured by his study and application to learned authors,with whom he was greatly converfant, as appears from his fatires against the Jefuits,in which there is difcovered as much learning as wit. In the fecond volume of the great hiftorical, geographical, and poetical Dictionary, he is filed the Darling of the Mufes, a pithy, fententious, elegant, and smooth writer: "His tranflations ex"ceed the original, and his invention feems match"lefs. His fatire against the Jefuits is of special note; he may be justly said to have excelled all "the fatirifts of the age." Tho' this compliment in favour of Oldham is certainly too hyperbolical, yet he was undoubtedly a very great genius; he had treasured in his mind an infinite deal of knowledge, which, had his life been prolonged, he might have produced with advantage, for his natural endowments feem to have been very great: But he is not more to be reverenced as a Poet, than for that gallant fpirit of Independence he discovered, and that magnaninity which fcorned to floop to any fervile fubmiffions for patronage: He had
inany admirers among his cotemporaries, of whom Mr. Dryden profeffed himself one, and has done juftice to his memory by fome excellent verfes,, with which we shall clofe this account.
Farewel too little, and too lately known,
Once more, hail and farewel: Farewel thou young,
(DILLON) (WENTWORTH) Earl of ROSCOMMON,
HIS nobleman was born in Ireland during the lieutenancy of the earl of Strafford, in the reign of King Charles I. Lord Strafford was his godfather, and named him by his own firname. He paffed fome of his first years in his native country, till the earl of Strafford imagining, when the rebellion firft broke out, that his father who had been converted by archbishop Ufher to the Proteftant religion, would be expofed to great danger, and be unable to protect his family, fent for his godfon, and placed him at his own feat in Yorkshire, under the tuition of Dr. Hall, afterwards bishop of Norwich ; by whom he was inftructed in Latin, and without learning the common rules of grammar, which he could never retain in his memory, he attained to write in that language with claffical elegance and propriety, and with fo much eafe, that he chofe it to correfpond with those friends who had learning fafficient to fupport the commerce. When the earl of Strafford was profecuted, lord Rofcommon went to Caen in Normandy, by the advice of bifhop Ufher, to continue his ftudies under Bochart, where he is faid to have had an extraordinary impulfe of his father's death, which is related by Mr. Aubrey in his mifcellany, Our author then a boy ⚫ of about ten years of age, one day was as it were madly extravagant, in playing, getting over the tables, boards, &c. He was wont to be fober enough. They who obferved him faid, God grant
· this proves no ill luck to him. In the heat of this extravagant fit, he cries out my father is dead. A fortnight after news came from Ireland, that his father was dead. This account I had from
Mr. Knowles who was his governor, and then with him, fince fecretary to the earl of Strafford; and 'I have heard his lordship's relations confirm the ' fame.'
The ingenious author of lord Rofcommon's life, publish'd in the Gentleman's Magazine for the month of May, 1748, has the following remarks on the above relation of Aubrey's.
The prefent age is very little inclined to favour " any accounts of this fort, nor will the name of Aubrey much recommend it to credit; it ought not however to be omitted, because better evidence of a fact is not eafily to be found, than is here offered, and it must be, by preferving 'fuch relations, that we may at leaft judge how 'much they are to be regarded. If we ftay to ⚫ examine this account we fhall find difficulties on. both fides; here is a relation of a fact given by · a man who had no intereft to deceive himself; and, here is on the other hand a miracle which produ ces no effect; the order of nature is interrupted to discover not a future, but only a diftant event, the knowledge of which is of no use to him to whom it is revealed. Between these difficulties what way 'fhall be found? Is reafon or teftimony to be re⚫jected? I believe what Osborne fays of an appearcance of fanctity, may be applied to fuch impulfes,
or anticipations. Do not wholly flight them, "because they may be true; but do not eafily truft "them, because they may be false."
Some years after he travelled to Rome, where he grew familiar with the most valuable remains of antiquity, applying himself particularly to the know
ledge of medals, which he gained in great perfection, and fpoke Italian with fo much grace and fluency, that he was frequently mistaken there for a native. He returned to England upon the restoration of King Charles the IId, and was made captain of the band of penfioners, an honour which tempted him to fome extravagancies. In the gaieties of that age (fays Fenton) he was tempted to indulge a violent paffion for gaming, by which he frequently hazarded his life in duels, and exceeded the bounds of a moderate fortune. This was the fate of many other men whofe genius was of no other advantage to them, than that it recommended them to employments, or to diftinction, by which the temptations to vice were multiplied, and their parts became foon of no other ufe, than that of enabling them to fucceed in debauchery.
A difpute about part of his eftate, obliging him to return to Ireland, he refigned his poft, and upon his arrival at Dublin, was made captain of the guards to the duke of Ormond.
When he was at Dublin he was as much as ever diftempered with the fame fatal affection for play, which engaged him in one adventure, which well deferves to be related. As he returned to his lodgings from a gaming table, he was attacked in the dark by three ruffians, who were employed to affaffinate him. The earl defended himself with fo much refolution, that he dispatched one of the aggreffors, while a gentleman accidentally paffing that way interpofed, and difarmed another; the third fecured himself by flight. This generous affiftant was a disbanded officer of a good fami-" ly and fair reputation; who by what we call partiality of fortune, to avoid cenfuring the iniquities of the times, wanted even a plain fuit of clothes to make a decent appearance at the castle; but his lordship on this occafion presenting him to the duke of Ormond, with great importunity preTybol vailed