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was born at the White House, Dymock, in May, 1637, and died at Ross, November 7, 1724.
Warton has noticed the pleasing effect in this description of the Man of Ross, of the use of common and familiar words and objects, judiciously managed. He cites the words causeway, seats, spire, market-place, alms-houses, and apprenticed: "a fastidious delicacy, and a false refinement, in order to avoid meanness, have deterred our writers from the introduction of such words; but Dryden often hazarded it, and gave by it a secret charm and a natural air to his verses." It must be acknowledged, however, that Dryden, like our great orator, Burke, often lost as well as gained by his use of homely images and expressions. There was sometimes too much "cockle with the seed.' The effect of such a practice must depend on the associations connected with the poetical pictures in which the words are placed. In this account of the Man of Ross, nothing but benevolent, agreeable, and elevated ideas are conveyed to the mind, and, without this pervading sentiment, the description would seem mean enough. Cowper invested poor Mary Unwin's sewing needles with pathetic grace and interest, but he failed egregiously, when he sought to render his manure, "the stercoraceous heap," available for the purposes of poetry. Goldsmith and Crabbe afford many such illustrations, the former being always guided by a pure and natural vein of feeling, combined with exquisite taste. Campbell, in his naval odes and battle-pieces, has made the simplest words and images exponents of heroic and sublime feeling.
VILLIERS, DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM.
Ver. 305. Great Villiers lies.] Dryden's character of the gay and witty Duke, and Pope's description of the last scene of his life, are sufficient for history and moral. Neither will ever be forgotten or surpassed:
"A man so various that he seemed to be
So over violent, or over civil,
That every man with him was god or devil.
He laugh'd himself from court, then sought relief
Absolom and Achitophel.
There are only two or three high-finished satirical portraits that can enter into comparison with this inimitable painting by Dryden-such as the characters of Lord Hervey and the Duchess of Marlborough, Sporus and Atossa, by Pope.
The poet has over-coloured the picture of the Duke of Buckingham's wretched end. He did not die in an inn, but in the house of one of his tenants, in Yorkshire, at Kirkby-Moorside, part of the extensive possessions which he inherited from his father, the first Duke, assassinated by Felton. The place is about twenty-six miles distant from Scarborough. Mr. Cole, of Scarborough, in a local antiquarian work, gives a view of the house in which the Duke died.
In the same tract is printed a letter from the Earl of Arran, addressed to Bishop Sprat, and dated April 17, 1687, describing the Duke of Buckingham's death. The Earl was on his way from London to Scotland, but hearing at York of the Duke's illness, he resolved to visit him.
"He had been long ill of an ague," says Lord Arran, "which had made him weak; but his understanding was as good as ever, and his noble parts were so entire that, though I saw death in his looks at first sight, he would by
no means think of it. I confess it made my heart bleed to see the Duke of Buckingham in so pitiful a place, and in so bad a condition. The doctors told me his case was desperate, and though he enjoyed the free exercise of his senses, that in a day or two at most it would kill him, but they durst not tell him of it so they put a hard part on me to pronounce death to him, which I saw approaching so fast that I thought it was high time for him to think of another world. After having plainly told him his condition, I asked whom I should send for to be assistant to him during the small time he had to live: he would make me no answer, which made me conjecture, and having formerly heard that he had been inclining to be a Roman Catholic, I asked him if I should send for a priest, for I thought any act that could be like a Christian was what his condition now wanted most; but he positively told me that he was not of that persuasion, and so would not hear any more of that subject, for he was of the Church of England. After some time, beginning to feel his distemper mount, he desired me to send for the parson of this parish, who said prayers for him, which he joined in very freely, but still did not think he should die, though this was yesterday, at seven in the morning, and he died about eleven at night.
"I have ordered the corpse to be embalmed, and carried to Helmsley Castle, and there to remain till my lady duchess her pleasure shall be known. There must be speedy care taken, for there is nothing here but confusion not to be expressed. Though his stewards have received vast sums, there is not so much as one farthing, as they tell me, for defraying the least expense. But I have ordered his intestines to be buried at Helmsley, where his body is to remain till further orders. Being the nearest kinsman upon the place, I have taken the liberty to give his Majesty an account of his death, and sent his George and blue ribbon to be disposed of as his Majesty shall think fit. I have addressed it under cover to my Lord President, to whom I would beg you would carry the bearer the minute he arrives."
Mr. Cole also publishes a letter, said to be written by the Duke of Buckingham, on his deathbed, to a Dr. W- We doubt the genuineness of this penitential letter, which is not in the style of the period, and is contrary to the impression of Villiers, as related by the Earl of Arran, that his disease would not be fatal. The embalmed body was carried to London, and interred in Westminster Abbey. The intestines were buried at Kirkby-Moorside, as appears from the following entry in the parish register, which, had it been known to Pope, would probably have been used, in his note, to heighten the picture he has drawn: "Buried in the yeare of our Lord (1687) April ye 17, Gorges uiluas Lord dooke of bookingam," &c. Buckingham was in his 61st year.
The witty Duke of Buckingham," said Pope to Spence, was an extreme bad man. His duel with Lord Shrewsbury was concerted between him and Lady Shrewsbury. All that morning she was trembling for her gallant, and wishing the death of her husband; and after his fall, 'tis said the duke slept with her in his bloody shirt." Anna Maria, Countess of Shrewsbury, was daughter of Robert Brudenel, Earl of Cardigan. The duel took place on the 16th of March, 1667. The event and the circumstances which preceded
it, are related by Grammont, who states that though the public was at first shocked by the duel, and the Queen exclaimed against so notorious and scandalous a crime, endeavouring to raise up the serious part of the nation and the politicians against it, no person paid any attention to the case, and the licentiousness of the age went on uncontrolled. At that time the seconds in duels, as well as the principals, fought. Captain Holmes and Mr. Jenkins were the Duke's seconds; Sir John Talbot and Bernard Howard were the Earl of Shrewsbury's. Talbot was severely wounded, and Jenkins killed upon the spot. The King had heard of the intended challenge some time before, and, according to Pepys, "did give it to my Lord General [the Duke of Albemarle] to confine the Duke, or to take security that he should not do any such thing as fight; and the General trusted to the King that he, sending for him, would do it; and the King trusted to the General." The same invaluable chronicler informs us, in his diary of May 15th, 1668, that Buckingham took Lady Shrewsbury to his house, " where his Duchess, [the daughter of Fairfax,] saying that it was not for her and the other to live together in a house, he answered, 'Why, madam, I did think so, and therefore have ordered your coach to be ready to carry you to your father's;' which was a devilish speech, but, they say, true." Buckingham and Lady Shrewsbury lived together for some years, but their extravagance led to an applica tion to Parliament to preserve the Shrewsbury estate for the young Earl, son of the Countess, and the control of the property was placed in other hands. At the same time the guilty pair were prohibited, under a penalty of 10,000l., from living together. The Countess found a second husband of good family, Mr. Brydges, second son of Sir Thomas Brydges, of Keynsham, in Somersetshire. They lived at Avington, near Winchester, in a fine mansion, wherein they often entertained Charles II.; and the Countess survived till 1702.
The public life of Villiers must be read in the history of his country. Walpole has sketched the outlines of his character in his brilliant antithetic style. "When this extraordinary man, with the figure and genius of Alcibiades, could equally charm the Presbyterian Fairfax and the dissolute Charles; when he alike ridiculed that witty King and his solemn Chancellor; when he plotted the ruin of his country with a cabal of bad ministers; or, equally unprincipled, supported its cause with bad patriots-one laments that such parts should have been devoid of every virtue. But when Alcibiades turns chemist, when he is a real bubble and a visionary miser, when ambition is but a frolic, when the worst designs are for the foolishest ends, contempt extinguishes all reflections on his character. The portrait of this Duke has been drawn by four masterly hands. Burnet has hewn it with a rough chisel; Count Hamilton touched it with that slight delicacy, that finishes while it seems to sketch; Dryden catched the living likeness; Pope completed the historical resemblance. Yet the abilities of this lord appear in no instance more amazing than that, being exposed by two of the greatest poets, he has exposed one of them ten times more severely. Zimri is an admirable portrait, but Bayes an original creation. Dryden satirised Buckingham, but Villiers made Dryden satirise himself."
The desire to be witty and pointed has here, as on other occasions, led
Walpole too far. The Rehearsal, in point of real talent, cannot be named in comparison with the satires of Dryden or Pope. It is a happy caricature of the personal peculiarities of Dryden, and a clever travesty of the most bombastic passages in the rhyming tragedies of the day. There is dramatic talent in the piece, but neither vigour of thought nor originality—no true poetic power. Besides, how much of it is really Buckingham's? Butler, author of Hudibras, Bishop Sprat (then Buckingham's chaplain), and Martin Clifford, afterwards Master of the Chapter-House, were all concerned in its composition. Buckingham, we are willing to believe, suggested some of the ludicrous images and comparisons, and gave the drama that tone which rendered it so well adapted to amuse the higher circles; but he must always, as an author, have been an inferior partner in a company of which Butler was one.
The Villiers mansion, at Cliveden, became the property of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and there, in 1744, was acted the Masque of Alfred, containing the national anthem of Rule Britannia. Thomson and Mallet, authors of the Masque, were frequent visitors at Cliveden, and it was long the scene of courtly splendour and magnificence. In 1795, this palace was accidentally destroyed by fire, "and nothing of its elegant furniture preserved from the flames, but the fine tapestry that represented the Duke of Marlborough's victories." A villa was afterwards erected on the spot, which met with the same fate in 1850. The Duke of Sutherland, to whom Cliveden now belongs, has rebuilt the mansion, in a chaste and beautiful style, and the woods and pleasure-grounds "reflected in the Thames' translucent wave are the favourite resort of summer-wanderers.
SIR JOHN CUTLER.
Ver. 315. Sage Cutler.] Most readers will recollect the admirable passage in Arbuthnot's Memoirs of Scriblerus, relative to this City Knight, a passage which was intended to ridicule Locke's theory of personal identity :
"Sir John Cutler had a pair of black worsted stockings, which his maid darned so often with silk, that they became at last a pair of silk stockings. Now, supposing those stockings of Sir John's endued with some degree of consciousness at every particular darning, they would have been sensible that they were the same individual pair of stockings, both before and after the darning; and this sensation would have continued in them, through all the succession of darnings: and yet, after the last of all, there was not perhaps one thread left of the first pair of stockings, but they were grown to be silk stockings, as was said before."
Sir John was a loyalist in the time of the Commonwealth, and, at the Restoration, he was created a Baronet by Charles II. He belonged to the Grocers' Company, towards which he was a liberal benefactor, and he was at the expense of building the north gallery of his parish church, St. Margaret's, Westminster. He contributed a large sum towards the building