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Bleft in each science, bleft in ev'ry strain!
Absent or dead, ftill let a friend be dear,
And fure, if aught below the feats divine
from the early connection between the Spaniards and Arabians, it be fufpected that it was an Oriental tale. Voltaire has in. ferted it in his Zadig, without mentioning a fyllable of the place whence he borrowed it. WARTON.
VER. 21. And fure, if aught] Strength of mind appears to have been the predominant characteristic of Lord Oxford; of which he gave the moft ftriking proofs when he was ftabbed, difplaced, imprifoned. These noble and nervous lines allude to thefe circumftances; of his fortitude and firmness another ftriking proof remains, in a letter which the Earl wrote from the Tower to a friend, who advised him to meditate an escape, and which is worthy of the greatest hero of antiquity. This extraordinary letter I had
A Soul fupreme, in each hard inftance try'd,
In vain to Deserts thy retreat is made;
the pleasure of reading, by the favour of the Earl's excellent grand-daughter, the late Dutchefs Dowager of Portland, who inherited that love of literature and science, fo peculiar to her anceftors and family.
I am well informed that Bolingbroke was greatly mortified at Pope's bestowing these praises on his old antagonist, whom he mortally hated; yet I have seen two original letters in the hands of the fame Dutchefs of Portland, of Lord Bolingbroke to Lord Oxford, full of the most fulfome flattery of the man whom he affected to defpife, and of very idle and profane applications of Scripture.
The Vifions of Parnelle, at the end of his Poems, published in the Guardian, are in a rugged inharmonious ftyle; as indeed is the Life of Zoilus, printed 1717; and alfo the Effay on the Life of Homer, prefixed to our Author's translation: and his Effay on the Different Styles in Poetry is rather a mean performance.
VER. 24. Above all Pain, &c.] This alludes to the excruciating pains he suffered from the ftone; "all Paffion," means his general equanimity.
VER. 24. all pride,] He was fo amiable and condefcending, that one of the accufations against him by the Whigs was, that he treated the black-coats (clergy) like gentlemen!
She waits, or to the scaffold, or the cell,
When the last ling'ring friend has bid farewell.
THERE are few verfes in Pope, more correct, more mufical, more dignified, and affecting, than these to Lord Oxford; and such a testimony to his merit in the hour of misfortune, must have been as grateful to Lord Oxford, as it was honourable to Pope.
In private life, no one was more amiable or more beloved than Lord Oxford; whatever may be thought of his public character, (particularly that part of it which has been most obnoxious to cenfure, on account of his fuppofed views in favouring the fucceffion of James,) the violent state of parties at the latter end of the reign of queen Anne, fhould be always kept in mind, and the over-beating conduct of the leading Whigs, who, before the admiffion of Harley to her private confidence, had kept the Queen, from the commencement of her reign, in a state of humiliation and fubjection.
That, of Harley it might be faid, he had truly the murus aheneus, "hil confeire fibi, nulla pallefcere culpá," I am willing to be lieve, and his subsequent conduct goes a great way to prove it.— Upon George the Firft's arrival in England, he went to pay his refpects to him, among the reft of the nobility, at Greenwich. The exultation Bolingbroke expreffed at the cold reception he met with, is well known (fee his Letter to Sir William Wyndham); but could Lord Oxford have expofed himself to fuch treatment had he been confcious of being, in his heart, the king's enemy by? Mr. Coxe, to whofe opinion I highly defer, acknowledges, that "Harley never appeared to wish to fruarate the act of fettlemeat." He has been called in common language "a Trimmer," because
because having been a diftinguished Whig, he afterwards joined the Tories; and endeavoured to ingratiate himself with the Elector of Hanover, when affairs took a different turn: but I confess, setting party aside, I fee nothing inconfiftent in his conduct; at leaft, I fee nothing that could warrant the judgment that he was actuated by felf-interest alone.
No one can fay, but that the conduct he pursued was such as a real lover of his country might have purfued; and it is fuch as, for that reafon, would make him obnoxious to the violent of both factions. On the one hand, he faw the Queen a cypher, and places, command, authority, power, and government in the hands of an imperious junto; on the other fide, he faw a rooted antipathy, at least among the Jacobite Tories, to all but the family of James. He was a Whig, as far as was confiftent with fupporting the power, and authority, and dignity of the CROWN; a Tory, but without entering into the defigns of those who saw with a malignant eye the prospect of the protestant fucceffion. From the state of parties at the time, one might conclude, that to be a Whig, it was neceffary to fubmit to the "imperium in imperio" of the Duke of Marlborough, or rather of the Duchefs; and that a Tory must neceffarily be in league with the Pretender; that is, to be a Jacobite. Oxford courted, indeed, men of abilities and integrity on both fides, but he avoided either extreme.
His conduct, when impeached, was worthy fuch a character. He neither meanly fled, like Bolingbroke, although he was well aware of the odium excited against him, and the pains and penalties which an exasperated party might inflict; nor, when he had loft the favour of one party, did he bafely fly to the other, avowing at once his connections, or his profligacy.
He endured his imprisonment without complaint, and waited the event of his trial with refigned fubmiffion, but with the intrepidity of unfhaken and conscious integrity. These lines of Pope, which feem to me truly to characterife Lord Oxford, are therefore particularly interesting, and they have a melancholy flow, get a dignified force of expreffion, fuitable to the character and occafion.
SOUL as full of Worth, as void of Pride,
Which nothing feeks to shew, or needs to hide, Which nor to Guilt nor Fear, its Caution owes, And boasts a Warmth that from no Paffion flows.
Secretary of State] In the year 1720.
Mr. Craggs was made Secretary at War, in 1717, when the Earl of Sunderland and Mr. Addison were appointed Secretaries of State.
This Epiftle appears to have been written foon after his being made one of the Secretaries of State. He was deeply implicated in the famous South-Sea fcheme. When Mr. Shippen, alluding to him, faid in the House of Commons, (at the time a motion was made to fecure the perfons and property of the South-Sea directors,) "in his opinion, there were fome men in high stations, who were
no lefs guilty than the directors;" Mr. Craggs immediately anfwered, he was ready to give fatisfaction to any man, who should question him in that Houfe, or out of it. This created great offence, and was understood as a challenge, but after some ferment, Mr. Craggs faid, that "by giving fatisfaction" he meant, clearing his conduct. Tyndal's Continuation of Rapin. He died foon after the detection of the fallacy of the great fcheme, and would moft probably have been called to a fevere account, had he lived. He died of the fmall-pox, on the ninth day, 16th February 1721. See a farther account of him in this volume, Epitaph on Craggs.