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She waits, or to the scaffold, or the cell,
When the last ling'ring friend has bid farewell. Ev'n now, she shades thy Ev'ning-walk with bays, (No hireling fhe, no prostitute to praise)
Ev'n now, obfervant of the parting ray,
Eyes the calm Sun-set of thy various Day,
THERE are few verfes in Pope, more correct, more mufical, more dignified, and affecting, than thefe to Lord Oxford; and fuch 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 moft obnoxious to cenfure, on account of his fuppofed views in favouring the fucceffion of James,) the violent flate of parties at the latter end of the reign of queen Anne, fhould be always kept in mind, and the over-bearing 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 ftate of humiliation and fubjection.
That, of Harley it might be faid, he had truly the murus aheneus, "nil confcire fibi, nullâ pallefcere culpâ," I am willing to believe, and his fubfequent 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 exposed himself to fuch treatment had he been conscious of being, in his heart, the king's enemy? Mr. Coxe, to whofe opinion I highly defer, acknowledges, that "Harley never appeared to wish to fruftrate the act of fettlement." He has been called in common language 66 a Trimmer," because
because having been a distinguished Whig, he afterwards joined the Tories; and endeavoured to ingratiate himself with the Elector of Hanover, when affairs took a different turn: but I confefs, fetting 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 fuch 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 saw 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 supporting the power, and authority, and dignity of the CROWN; a Tory, but without entering into the defigns of those who faw 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 muft 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 confcious integrity. These lines of Pope, which feem to me truly to characterise Lord Oxford, are therefore particularly interesting, and they have a melancholy flow, yet a dignified force of expreffion, fuitable to the character and oc
JAMES CRAGGS, ESQ.
SECRETARY OF STATE.
SOUL as full of Worth, as void of Pride,
Which nothing feeks to fhew, or needs to hide, Which nor to Guilt nor Fear, its Caution owes, And boafts 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, said in the House of Commons, (at the time a motion was made to secure 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 queftion him in that House, 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 Scheme, and would moft probably have been called to a severe account, had he lived. He died of the small-pox, on the ninth day, 16th February 1721. See a farther account of him in this volume, Epitaph on Craggs.
From a Licture by Sir Godfrey Knettere: in the Marquis of Buckingham's Collection at Slowe.
Published by Cadell & Davies, Strand, and the other Proprietors May 1.1807.