Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

which I will not call the last, because I hope and pray it may descend to late posterity; and your flourishing youth, and that of your excellent duch ess, are happy omens of my wish.

It is observed by Livy, and by others, that some of the noblest Roman families retained a resemblance of their ancestry, not only in their shapes and features, but also in their manners, their qualities, and the distinguishing characters of their minds. Some lines were noted for a stern, rigid virtue; savage, haughty, parsimonious, and unpopular; others were more sweet and affable, made of a more pliant paste, humble, courteous, and obliging; studious of doing charitable offices, and diffusive of the goods which they enjoyed. The last of these is the proper and indelible character of your grace's family. God Almighty has endued you with a softness, a beneficence, an attractive behaviour winning on the hearts of others, and so sensible of their misery, that the wounds of fortune seem not inflicted on them, but on yourself.* You are so ready to redress, that you almost prevent their wishes, and always exceed their expectations ; as if what was yours was not your own, and not given you to possess, but to bestow on wanting merit. But this is a topic which I must cast in shades, lest I offend your modesty ; which is so far from being ostentatious of the good you do, that it blushes even to have it known; and, therefore, I must leave you to the satisfaction and testimony of your own conscience, which, though it be a silent panegyric, is yet the best.

1

* This character of the unfortunate nobleman was not exaggerated. When the impeachment against him was moved, Hutchinson, Jekyll, and many others, gave a splendid testimony to his private virtues.

You are so easy of access, that Poplicola* was not more, whose doors were opened on the outside to save the people even the common civility of asking entrance; where all were equally admitted; where nothing that was reasonable was denied ; where misfortune was a powerful recommendation; and where, I can scarce forbear saying, that want itself was a powerful mediator, and was next to merit.

The history of Peru assures us, that their Incas, above all their titles, esteemed that the highest, which called them lovers of the poor ;-a name more glorious than the Felix, Pius, and Augustus, of the Roman emperors, which were epithets of flattery, leserved by few of them; and not running in a blood like the perpetual gentleness, and inherent goodness, of the Ormond family.

Gold, as it is the purest, so it is the softest and most ductile of all metals. Iron, which is the hardest, gathers rust, corrodes itself, and is, therefore, subject to corruption. It was never intended for coins and medals, or to bear the faces and inscriptions of the great. Indeed, it is fit for armour, to bear off insults, and preserve the wearer in the day of battle; but, the danger once repelled, it is laid aside by the brave, as a garment too rough for civil conversation ; a necessary guard in war, but too harsh and cumbersome in peace, and which keeps off the embraces of a more humane life.

For this reason, my lord, though you have cou.' rage in an heroical degree, yet I ascribe it to you but as your second attribute; mercy, beneficence, and compassion, claim precedence, as they are first in

* P. Valerius Poplicola, the third Roman consul; the same who caped the fasces, the emblems of consular dignity, to be lowered before the common people.

[ocr errors]

the divine nature. An intrepid courage, which is inherent in your grace, is at best but a holiday-kind of virtue, to be seldom exercised, and never but in cases of necessity; affability, mildness, tenderness, and a word, which I would fain bring back to its original signification of virtue, I mean good-nature, are of daily use. They are the bread of mankind, and staff of life. Neither sighs, nor tears, nor groans, nor curses of the vanquished, follow acts of compassion and of charity ; but a sincere pleasure, and serenity of mind, in him who performs an action of mercy, which cannot suffer the misfortunes of another without redress, lest they should bring a kind of contagion along with them, and pollut the happiness which he enjoys.

Yet since the perverse tempers of mankind, since oppression on one side, and ambition on the other, are sometimes the unavoidable occasions of war, that courage, that magnanimity, and resolution, which is born with you, cannot be too much commended : And here it grieves me that I am scanted in the pleasure of dwelling on many of your actions ; but aidéopat Tpwas is an expression which Tully often uses, when he would do what he dares not, and fears the censure of the Romans.

I have sometimes been forced to amplify on others; but here, where the subject is so fruitful, that the harvest overcomes the reaper, I am shortened by my chain, and can only see what is forbidden me to reach ; since it is not permitted me to commend you according to the extent of my wishes, and much less is it in my power to make my commendations equal to your merits.

Yet, in this frugality of your praises, there are some things which I cannot omit, without detracting from your character. You have so fermed your own education, as enables you to pay the debt

you owe your country, or, more properly speaking, both your countries; because you were born, I may almost say, in purple, at the castle of Dublin, when your grandfather was lord-lieutenant, and have since been bred in the court of England.

If this address had been in verse, I might have called you, as Claudian calls Mercury, Numen commune, gemino faciens commercia: mundo. The better to satisfy this double obligation, you have early cul. tivated the genius you have to arms, that when the service of Britain or Ireland shall require your courage and your conduct, you may exert them both to the benefit of either country. You began in the cabinet what you afterwards practised in the camp; and thus both Lucullus and Cæsar (to omit a crowd of shining Romans) formed themselves to the war, by the study of history, and by the examples of the greatest captains, both of Greece and Italy, before their time. I name those two commanders in

particular, because they were better read in chronicle than

any of the Roman leaders; and that Lucullus, in particular, having only the theory of war from books, was thought fit, without practice, to be sent into the field, against the most formidable enemy of Rome. Tully, indeed, was called the learned consul in derision ; but then he was not born a soldier; his head was turned another way: when he read the tactics, he was thinking on the bar, which was his field of battle. The knowledge of warfare is thrown away on a general, who dares not make use of what he knows. I commend it only in a man of courage and resolution ; in him it will direct his martial spirit, and teach him the way to the best victories, which are those that are least bloody, and which, though achieved by the hand, are managed by the head. Science distinguishes a man of honour from one of those athletic brutes whom, undeservedly,

we call heroes. Cursed be the poet, who first honoured with that name a mere Ajax, a man-killing idiot! The Ulysses of Ovid upbraids his ignorance, that he understood not the shield for which he pleaded ; there was engraven on it plans of cities, and maps of countries, which Ajax could not comprehend, but looked on them as stupidly as his felIow-beast, the lion. But, on the other side, your grace has given yourself the education of his rival; you have studied every spot of ground in Flanders, which, for these ten years past, has been the scene of battles, and of sieges. No wonder if you per. formed your part with such applause, on a theatre which you understood so well.

If I designed this for a poetical encomium, it were easy to enlarge on so copious a subject; but, confining myself to the severity of truth, and to what is becoming me to say, I must not only pass over many instances of your military skill, but also those of your assiduous diligence in the war, and of your personal bravery, attended with an ardent thirst of honour; a long train of generosity ; profuseness of doing good; a soul unsatisfied with all it has done, and an unextinguished desire of doing more. But all this is matter for your own historians ; I am, as Virgil says, Spatiis exclusus iniquis.

Yet, not to be wholly silent of all your charities, I must stay a little on one action, which preferred the relief of others to the consideration of yourself. When, in the battle of Landen, your heat of courage (a fault only pardonable to your youth) had transported you so far before your friends, that they were unable to follow, much less to succour you; when you were not only dangerously, but, in all appearance, mortally wounded; when in that desperate condition you were made prisoner, and car

« EdellinenJatka »