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After he had written his epistle on the victory of the Boyne, his patron, Dorset, introduced him to king William, with this expression : “Sir, I have brought a mouse to wait on your majesty.” To which the king is said to liave replied, “ You do well to put me in the way of making a man of him;" and ordered him a pension of five hundred pounds. This story, however current, seems to have been made after the event. The king's answer implies a greater acquaintance with our proverbial and familiar diction than king William could possibly have attained.
In 1691, being member of the house of commons, he argued warmly in favour of a law to grant the assistance of counsel in trials for high treason ; and, in the midst of his speech falling into some confusion, was for a while silent; but, recovering himself, observed, “ how reasonable it was to allow counsel to men called as criminals before a court of justice, when it appeared how much the presence of that assembly could disconcert one of their own body!.”
After this he rose fast into honours and employments, being made one of the commissioners of the treasury, and called to the privy-couocil. In 1694, he became chancellor of the exchequer; and the next year engaged in the great attempt of the re-coinage, which was in two years happily completed. In 1696, he projected the general fund, and raised the credit of the exchequer; and, after inquiring concerning a grant of Irish crown-lands, it was determined by a vote of the commons, that Charles Montague, esquire, had deserved his majesty's favour. In 1698, being advanced to the first commission of the treasury, he was appointed one of the regency in the king's absence: the next year he was made auditor of the exchequer, and the year after created baron Halifax. He was, however, impeached by the commons; but the articles were dismissed by the lords.
At the accession of queen Anne he was dismissed from the council: and in the first parliament of her reign was again attacked by the commons, and again escaped by the protection of the lords. In 1704, he wrote an answer to Bromley's speech against occasional conformity. He headed the inquiry into the danger of the church. In 1706, he proposed and negotiated the union with Scotland; and when the elector of Hanover had received the garter, after the act had passed for securing the protestant succession, he was appointed to carry the ensigns of the order to the electoral court. He sat as one of the judges of Sacheverell ; but voted for a mild sentence. Being now no longer in favour, he contrived to obtain a writ for summoning the electoral prince to parliament as duke of Cainbridge.
At the queen’s death he was appointed one of the regents; and at the accession of George the First was made earl of Halifax, knight of the garter, and first commissioner of the treasury, with a grant to his nephew of the reversion of the auditorship of the exchequer. More was not to be had, and this he kept but a little while; for, on the 19th of May, 1715, he died of an inflammation of his lungs.
Of him, who from a poet became a patron of poets, it will be readily believed that the
* Mr. Reed observes that this anecdote is related by Mr. Walpole, in his Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors, of the earl of Shaftesbury, author of the Characteristics, but it appears to me to be a mistake, if we are to understand that the words were spoken by Shaftesbury at this time, when he bad no seat in the house of commons; nor did the bill pass at this time, being thrown out by the house of lords. It became a law in the 7th William, when Halifax and Shaftesbury both had seats. The editors of the Biographia Britannica adopt Mr. Walpole's story, but they are not speaking of this period. The story first appeared in the Life of Lord Halifax, published in 1715. C.
works would not miss of celebration. Addison began to praise him early, and was followed or accompanied by other poets ; perhaps by almost all, except Swift and Pope, who forebore to flatter him in his life, and after his death spoke of him, Swift with slight censure, and Pope in the character of Bufo with acrimonious contempt.
He was, as Pope says, u fed with dedications;" for Tickell affirms, that no dedication was unrewarded. To charge all unmerited praise with the guilt of fastery, and to suppose that the encomiast always knows and feels the falsehoods of his assertions, is surely to discover great ignorance of human nature and human life. In determinations depending not on rules, but on experience and comparison, judgement is always in some degree subject to affection. Very near to admiration is the wish to admire.
Every man willingly gives value to the praise which he receives, and considers the sentence passed in bis favour as the sentence of discernment. We admire in a friend that understanding which selected us for confidence ; we admire more, in a patron, that judgement, which, instead of scattering bounty indiscriminately, directed it to us; and, if the patron be an author, those performances which gratitude forbids us to blame, affection will easily dispose us to exalt.
To these prejudices, hardly culpable, interest adds a power always operating, though not always, because not willingly, perceived. The modesty of praise wears gradually away; and perhaps the pride of patronage may be in time so increased, that modest praise will no longer please.
Many a blandishment was practised upon Halifax, which he would never have known, had he no other attractions than those of his poetry, of which a short time has withered the beauties. It would now be esteemed no honour, by a contributor to the monthly bundles of verses, to be told, that, in strains either familiar or solemn, he sings like Montague.
EARL OF HALIFAX.
ON THE DEATH OF
A mighty series of new time began,
And rolling years in joyful circles ran.
Then wealth the city, business fill'd the port, KING CHARLES II.
To mirth our tumults turn'd, our wars to sport:
Then learning flourish'd, blooming arts did spring, FAREWEL, great Charles, monarch of blest And the glad Muses prun'd their drooping wing: renown,
Then did our flying towers improvement know, The best good man that ever fill'd a throne; Who now command as far as winds can blow; Whom Nature as her highest pattern wrought, With canvass wings round all the globe they fly, And mix'd both sexes' virtues' in a draught; And, built by Charles's art, all storins defy; Wisdom for councils, bravery in war,
To every coast with ready sails are hurld, With all the mild good-nature of the fair.
Fill us with wealth, and with our fame the world; The woman's sweetness temper'd manly wit, From whose distractions seas do us divide; And loving pow'r did, crown'd with meekness, sit; Their riches here in floating castles ride. His awful person reverence engag’d,
We reap the swarthy Indians' sweat and toil; With mild address and tenderness assuag'd: Their fruit, without the mischiefs of their soil. Thus the almighty gracious King above,
Here, in cool shades, their gold and pearls reDoes both command our fear, and win our love. ceive,
With wonders born, by miracles preserv'd, Free from the heat which does their lustre give.
From burning fuxes, and the calenture:
aw'd; They blest the isle where such great spirits dwell, Us from our foes, and from ourselves did shield, Abhorr'd the men, that could such worth expel. Our towns from tumults, and from arms the field; To spare our lives, he meekly did defeat
For when bold Faction goodness could disdain, Those Sauls, whom wand'ring asses made so great; Unwillingly he us'd a straiter rein: Waiting till Heaven's election should be shown, In the still gentle voice he lov'd to speak, And the Almighty should his unction own. * But could, with thunder, harden'd rebels break. And own he did his powerful arm display'd; Yet, though they wak'd the laws, his tender mind And Israel, the belov'd of God, obey'd;
Was undisturb’d, in wrath severely kind; Ca'l'd by his people's tears, he came, he eas'd Tempting his power, and urging to assume; The groaning nation, the black storms appeasid, Thus Jove, in love, did Semele consume. Did greater blessings, than he took, afford; As the stout oak, when round his trunk the vine England itself was more, than he, restor’d. Does in soft wreaths and amorous foldings twine, Unhappy Albion, by strange ills oppressid, Easy and slight appears; the winds from far In various fevers tost, could find no rest;
Summon their noisy forces to the war: Quite spent and wearyd, to his arms she fled, But though so gentle seems his outward form, And rested on his shoulders her fair bending head. His hidden strength out-braves the loudest storm:
la conquests mild, he came from exile kind; Firiner he stands, and boldly keeps the field, No climes, no provocations, chang'd his mind; Showing stout ininds, when unprovok'd, are mild, No malice show'd, no hate, revenge, or pride,
So when the good man made the crowd presume, Bat ruld as meekly, as his father dy'd;
He show'd himself, and did the king assume: Eas'd us from endless wars, made discords cease, For goodness in excess may be a sin; Restor'd to quiet, and maintaiu'd in peace. Justice must tame, whom mercy cannot win.
Thus winter fixes the unstable sea,
ON THE MARRIAGE OF THE
PRINCESS ANNE AND PRINCE GEORGE To bridle factions, stop rebellion's course,
OF DENMARK. By easy methods, vanquish without force; Relieve the good, bold stubborn foes subdue, Whilst black designs (that direful work of Fate) Mildness in wrath, meekness in anger shew,
Distract the labouring state; Were arts great Charles's prudence only knew. Whilst (like the sea) around loud discords roar, To fright the bad, thus awful thunder rolls,
Breaking their fury on the frighted shore; While the bright bow secures the faithful souls. And England does like brave Vienna stand,
Such is thy glory, Charles, thy lasting name, Besieg'd by Infidels on either hand; Brighter than our proud neighbour's guilty What means this peaceful train, this pompous
What means this royal beauteous pair? More noble than the spoils that battles yield, This troop of youths and virgins heavenly fair, Or all the empty triumphs of the field.
That-does at once astonish and delight; Tis less to conquer, than to make war cease, Great Charles, and his illustrious brother here, And, without fighting, awe the world to peace; No bold assassinate need fear; For proudest triumphs from contempt arise ;
Here is no harmful weapon found, (wound. The vanquish'd first the conqueror's arms de Nothing but Cupid's darts and Beauty here can
spise: Won ensigns are the gaudy marks of scorn,
How grateful does this scene appear They brave the victor first, and then adorn.
To us, who might too justly fear But peaceful monarchs reign like gods: while We never should have seen again
Aught bright, but armour on the plain! Dispute, all love, bless, reverence their throne. Ne’er in their cheerful garb t'bave seen the fair, Tigers and bears, with all the savage host, While all, with inelting eyes and wild disbeveil'd May boldness, strength, and daring conquest
Had mourn'd their brothers, sons, and husbands, But the sweet passions of a generous mind These dusky shadows make this scene more bright; Are the prerogative of human-kind;
The horrour adds to the delight. The god-like image, on our clay imprest,
This glorious pomp our spirits cheers; from hence The darling attribute which Heaven loves best: We lucky omens take, new bappiness commence. In Charles, so good a man and king, we see A double image of the deity.
Thus, when the gathering clouds a storm prepare,
And their black force associate in the air;
(Endeavouring to eclipse the bounteous light, Now do our thoughts alone enjoy his name,
Who, with kind warmth, and powerful rays, And faint ideas of our blessing frame !
Them to that envyd height,
A thoughtful sadness sits on all,
Expecting where the full-charg'd clouds will fall : Richer than Tagus, or Ægyptian Nile:
But if the heavenly bow Though no rich sand in him, no pearls are
Deck’d, like a gaudy bride, appears,
And all her various robes displays, found, Yet fields rejoice, bis meadows laugh around;
Painted by the conquering Sun's triumphant Less wealth his bosom holds, less guilty stores,
It mortals drooping spirits cheers; (rays, For he exhausts himself t enrich the shores.
Fresh joy, new light, each visage wears: Mild and serene the peaceful current flows,
Again the seamen trust the main, No angry foam, no raging surges knows;
The jocund swains their coverts leave again; No dreadful wrecks upon his banks appear,
Again, in pleasant warbling notes, [ful throats. His crystal stream unstain'd by widows tear,
The cheerful poets of the wood extend their tuueHis channel strong and easy, deep and clear.
Then, then, my Muse, raise with thy lyre thy voice, No arbitrary inundations sweep
And, with thy lays, make fields and woods rejoice: The ploughman's hopes, and life into the deep; For lo! the heavenly pledge appears, His even waters the old limits keep.
And in bright characters the promise bears: But oh! he ebbs, the smiling waves decay, The factious deluge shall prevail no more; For ever, lovely stream, for ever stay!
In vain they foam, in vain they rage, To the black sta his silent course does bend,' Buffet in vain the unmor'd shore, (assuage. Where the best streams, the longest rivers, end. Her charms, and Charles's power, their fury shail His spotless wares there undistinguish'd pass,
Sec! see! how decently the bashful bride None see, how clear, how bounteous, sweet, he Does bear her conquest; with how little pride
She views that prince, the captive of her charms, No difference now, though late so much is seen, Who made the North with fear to quake, Twixt him, fierce Rhine, and the impetuous
And did that powerful empire shake; Seine.
B: fore whose arms, when great Gustavus led, But, lo! the joyful tide our hopes restores,
The frighted Roman eagles fled.