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SIR RICHARD TEMPLE, the first Viscount Cobham, owes his historical celebrity to the poetry of Pope, and the magnificent gardens at Stowe. These have done more for him with posterity than the peerage or the army, though he was an opulent baron of an old family, and a brave soldier. The Temples were seated at Stowe in the time of Edward VI., and from this parent stem sprung the branch illustrated by Sir William Temple. James I., in the year of his accession to the English throne, conferred the title of knighthood on Thomas Temple, of Stowe. He afterwards. made him a baronet, and this title, with the representation of the county, and the office of Lord-Lieutenant of Bucks, descended down through several generations. Pope's friend, Sir Richard, succeeded to his father in 1697. He entered the army when young, and rose through the several gradations of military rank to the dignity of Field-Marshal. He served with distinction under Marlborough, and, in acknowledgment of his gallantry at the siege of Lisle, in 1708, the Duke despatched him express to England, to convey to her Majesty the welcome tidings of the capitulation of that important fortress. On the accession of George I., in 1714, Cobham was raised to the peerage, under the title of Baron Cobham, of Cobham, in Kent, and, at the same time, he was declared Envoy-Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Emperor of Germany, Charles VI. Next year he was made Constable of Windsor Castle. In 1718 he was created Viscount Cobham. He was afterwards made a Privy Counsellor, and Governor of the Isle of Jersey. In Parliament, Cobham joined the Opposition against Walpole, and, voting against the Excise Bill in 1731, he lost his military commands. This, of course, confirmed him in opposition, but it also left him leisure for private pursuits; and it was at this time that he made his extensive improvements and alterations at Stowe. He laid out the grounds under the superintendence of Bridgman the popular landscape gardener of his day, before Kent and Brown had arisen to contest the palm for the picturesque. Brown-usually called "Capability Brown," from his constantly talking of the capabilities of places-was at one time employed as a gardener at Stowe, and was liberally patronised by Lord Cobham. Many anecdotes of this improver will be found in Walpole, and Sir Uvedale Price's work on the Picturesque-a delightful book on a delightful subject. Politics were not wholly neglected by the munificent owner of Stowe. He continued to act with the Tory Opposition, and in 1741 he voted for the motion to remove Sir Robert Walpole from the King's presence and councils for ever. This memorable party movement was nearly successful
for the vast fabric of Walpole's power was, after repeated attacks, in a totterng state, but ultimately it was lost in both Houses. In a caricature of the time, representing Lord Chesterfield as postilion of the Opposition coach driving furiously, and overturning the machine on its way to the Treasury, Cobham occupies the undignified post of footman, and is holding fast on by the straps. The combination was successful in 1742, and, after Walpole's retirement, Lord Cobham regained his military appointments, obtaining the colonelcy of several regiments. In 1745 he was named one of the regents
during the King's absence abroad. His lordship died at Stowe, in 1749. Having no issue, the titles and estates devolved on his sister, Hester Gren. ville, widow of Richard Grenville, of Wootton. Viscountess Cobham (Anne, daughter of Edmond Halsey, a wealthy brewer, in Southwark), erected a pillar in Stowe Gardens, to the memory of her husband. This is one of the most conspicuous objects in the gardens, being 115 feet high, and surmounted by a statue the size of life. It is inscribed, "To Richard Lord Viscount Cobham, Field-Marshal of the British Armies, who served his country as well in
the Cabinet as in the Field, and who adorned it by a more elegant system of modern gardening, first illustrated on this spot." The lines from Pope, commemorative of the beauty of Stowe, and the virtues of Cobham, are also cut on the pillar:
And you brave Cobham, to the latest breath,
Shall feel your ruling passion strong in death;
'Oh, save my country, Heaven!' shall be your last."
The actual circumstances attending Lord Cobham's death are related in the Memoirs of Hannah More. In his last moments, not being able to carry a glass of jelly to his mouth, he was in such a passion, that he threw the jelly, glass, and all, in the face of his niece, Hester Grenville, and expired! Had Pope been then alive, his extreme sensitiveness and dread of ridicule would assuredly have led him to cancel the above unprophetic lines.
The epistle to Lord Cobham had apparently been shown to his lordship in manuscript. The following letters from him are given in Ruffhead's Life, no doubt derived from Warburton:
"Stowe, Nov. 1, 1733.
Though I have not modesty enough not to be pleased with your extraordinary compliment, I have wit enough to know how little I deserve it. You know all mankind are putting themselves upon the world for more than they are worth, and their friends are daily helping the deceit. But I am afraid I shall not pass for an absolute patriot. However, I have the honour of having received a public testimony of your esteem and friendship, and am as proud of it as I could be of any advantage which could happen to me. As I remember, when I saw the brouillon of this Epistle, it was perplexed. You have now made it the contrary; and I think it is the clearest and cleanest of all you have wrote. Don't you think you have bestowed too many lines on the old lecher? The instance itself is but ordinary, and I think should be shortened or changed."
"Stowe, Nov. 8.
"I like your lecher better now 'tis shorter; and the glutton is a very good epigram. But they are both appetites which from nature we indulge, as well for her ends as our pleasure. A cardinal, in his way of pleasure, would have been a better instance. What do you think an old lady dressing her silver locks with pink, and ordering her coffin to be lined with white quilled satin with gold fringes; or Counsellor Vernon retiring to enjoy himself with five thousand a-year, which he had got, and returning to the Chancery to get a little more, when he could not speak so loud as to be heard? or a judge turned out coming again to the bar? I mean that a passion or habit that has not a natural foundation falls in better with your subject than any of our natural wants, which in some degree we cannot avoid pursuing to the last."
Lord Cobham must have been somewhat of a proser, if we may credit an anecdote told by Walpole. Bubb Dodington, Lord Melcombe, falling asleep one day, after dinner, with Sir Richard Temple, Lord Cobham, the General,
the latter reproached him with his drowsiness. Dodington denied having been asleep, and, to prove he had not, offered to repeat all Lord Cobham had been saying. Cobham challenged him to do so. Dodington repeated a story, and Lord Cobham owned he had been telling it. "Well," said Dodington, ‘and yet I did not hear a word of it; but I went to sleep because I knew that about this time of day you would tell that story."
THE DUKE OF CHANDOS.
Ver. 54. The gracious Chandos is beloved at sight.] The Hon. James Brydges, ninth Baron, and first Duke of Chandos, was a liberal, and benevolent, but ostentatious nobleman. He was Paymaster of the Forces under Godolphin's Administration, and amassed an immense fortune. The House of Commons, in 1711, instituted a Committee of Inquiry into the public expenditure, and there was a sum of thirty-five millions unaccounted for, about one-half of which was connected with the accounts of Brydges. His answer to the charge was, that the accounts had been regularly presented, but that the mode of scrutinizing and passing them was tedious and complex, owing to a system pursued by the Duke of Newcastle. Great carelessness as to the public accounts prevailed at that period, and such was the low state of political morality, that almost every public man in office was charged with peculation. Johnson, in his pamphlet on the Falkland Islands, sarcastically alludes to the compensation which the nation received at the close of a ten years' war, for the death of multitudes, and the expense of millions, by contemplating the sudden glories of paymasters, and agents, contractors, and commissaries, "whose equipages shine like meteors, and whose palaces rise like exhalations." Chandos gave room for scandal by the large sums he spent in building, and by the style of magnificence in which he lived. He is said to have spent £200,000 on his house at Canons, near Edgeware. He had also begun the erection of a great town house in Cavendish Square, but desisted. At Canons he affected something like regal state. He dined in public, with flourishes of trumpets announcing each change of dishes. His chapel was fitted up with splendour, and when he went to it he was attended by a military guard. The great Handel was master of the choir in this chapel, and it was there that his sacred drama of Esther was first performed. His Acis and Galatea was also composed for the Duke of Chandos. By unsuccessful speculations in the African and South Sea Companies, the munificent duke greatly impaired his fortune, and his son, on succeeding to the estate, was unable to reside at Canons. He could not dispose of the house entire, and he therefore pulled it down, and sold the materials by auction. The costly furniture was also sold, crowds flocking to the scene-as a hundred years afterwards crowds flocked to the Stowe and Strawberry Hill sales. The pillars at Chesterfield House, South Audley Street, originally belonged to Canons, and were termed by the witty Earl of Chesterfield, "the canonical pillars of his house." The equestrian statue of George II. in Golden
Square, with that of George I. in Leicester Square, and the range of iron palisades at New College, Oxford, were also part of the Canons spoil. The duke died at Canons, August 9, 1744, and the manor was purchased in 1747 by a retired London merchant, who built a small villa on the site of the great mansion. The estate was afterwards sold to Mr. Dennis O'Kelly, of sporting celebrity, whose race-horse, Eclipse, was buried in the park.
EARL OF GODOLPHIN.
Ver. 81. Who would not praise Patricio's high desert?] The famous Sidney Godolphin, Lord Treasurer. "Godolphin had been bred a page at Whitehall, and had early acquired all the flexibility and the self-possession of a veteran courtier. He was laborious, clear-headed, and profoundly versed in the details of finance. Every government, therefore, found him a useful servant; and there was nothing in his opinions or in his character which could prevent him from serving any government. Sidney Godolphin,' said Charles, 'is never in the way, and never out of the way.' This pointed remark goes far to explain Godolphin's extraordinary success in life. He acted at different times with both the great political parties; but he never shared in the passions of either. Like most men of cautious tempers and prosperous fortunes, he had a strong disposition to support whatever existed. He disliked revolutions; and for the same reason for which he disliked revolutions he disliked counterrevolutions. His deportment was remarkably grave and reserved; but his personal tastes were low and frivolous, and most of the time which he could save from public business was spent in racing, card-playing, and cockfighting."-Macaulay's History of England. This fortunate, man, who had rendered himself necessary to four successive sovereigns, and who was chief minister to Queen Anne during the first nine years of her reign, died in 1712. Though Godolphin had no literature, he did literature good service by employing Addison to celebrate the battle of Blenheim, and appointing him to a commissionership, with a salary of about £200 a-year-the forerunner of better things.
THE DUKE OF WHARTON.
Ver. 179. Wharton stands confess'd.] Philip, Duke of Wharton, son of the great Whig Marquis of Wharton, who died in 1715. The subject of Pope's admirable and just satire was born in 1669, and died on the 31st of May, 1731, at Rens, near Barcelona, in the monastery of the Franciscans de la Puebla. "With attachment to no party," says Horace Walpole, “though with talents to govern any party, this lively man changed the free air of Westmin. ster for the gloom of the Escurial, the prospect of King George's Garter for the Pretender's; and, with indifference to all religion, the frolic lord who had writ the ballad on the Archbishop of Canterbury, died in the habit of a Capuchin." This is no unusual termination to profligacy in high life.