« PreviousContinue »
whom he had adopted as his heir. The career of this minister, who rose to the highest office in the state, is well known. Walpole, Smollett, and others have caricatured his weaknesses and absurdities-his constant hurry, restlessness of place, borrowed importance, and real insignificance. A dull man, Lord Wilmington, said very happily, that "the Duke of Newcastle always loses half an hour in the morning, which he is running after the rest of the day, without being able to overtake it." Notwithstanding his long political career, and the favour of the crown, it appeared, after his death in 1768, that the duke had greatly diminished the fortune he had inherited.
THE MAN OF ROSS.
Ver. 250. Rise, honest Muse, and sing the Man of Ross.] To Pope's account of the benevolent John Kyrle, various additions have been made, all confirming the general correctness of his beautiful description. The shady walk of a
VIEW OF ROSS.
mile and a-half in length, the waterworks for supplying the town of Ross, the new causeway, the public seats, the church spire, the convenient marketplace, and the liberal benefactions, were all realities, and all the work of John Kyrle. The only abatement from the picture is the fact that, though Kyrle had but £500 a-year, he was assisted by other parties, to whom he was pleased to act as almoner. The substantial benefit was conferred by him, and to him belongs the honour. It appears from letters published by Spence, and
written by Stephen Duck and Mr. Wheeler, that Kyrle kept two public days in the week, the market-day and Sunday. On the former, the neighbouring gentlemen and farmers dined with him; and if they had any differences or disputes, they appealed to the Man of Ross to decide and settle them, and his decisions were generally final. On Sunday he dined the poor people of the parish at his house, and often sent them away with broken meat and jugs of ale. In his planting and other works he chiefly employed very old men, such as were unable from their age or infirmities to perform the regular hard work on a farm. With these aged persons he would frequently work with a spade himself, pay them amply for their labour, and feed them sometimes at
his own table. He died a bachelor, and left his estate to a Mr. V. Kyrle, who was bred a confectioner in London. This new Man of Ross was extravagant and debauched, and the property became embarrassed, in consequence of which Mr. Kyrle's house was for some time kept as an inn. This is no longer the case. The reproach urged by the poet, that no memorial had been raised to John Kyrle, was removed in the year 1776 by the erection of a handsome monument over his remains in the chancel of Ross church. Funds for this purpose were left by the Viscountess Dupplin, a relative of the family by marriage. It may be mentioned, that the great age to which Mr. Kyrle attained, was favourable to his carrying out so many local improvements. He
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
That every man with him was god or devil.
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.
He laugh'd himself from court, then sought relief
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 Bucking. ham, 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