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His Grace the Duke of ORMOND.
Anno 1699. SOME
OME estates are held in England, by paying a
fine at the change of every lord : I have enjoyed the patronage of your family, from the time of your excellent grandfather to this present day. I have dedicated the translation of the lives of Plutarch to the first Duke ; and have celebrated the
your heroic father. Though I am very short of the age of Nestor, yet I have lived to a third generation of your house; and by your Grace's favour am admitted still to hold from you by the same tenure.
I am not vain enough to boast that I have deserved the value of so illustrious a line; but my fortune is the greater, that for three descents they have been pleased to distinguish my poems from those of other men ; and have accordingly made me their peculiar care. May it be permitted me to say, That as your grandfather and father were cherished and adorned with honours by two successive monarchs, so I have been esteemed and patronized by the grandfather, the father, and the fon, descended from one of the most antient, most conspicuous, and most deserving families in Europe.
It is true, that by delaying the payment of my last fine, when it was due by your Grace's accession to the
titles and patrimonies of your house, I may seem, in rigour of law, to have made a forfeiture of my claim ; yet my heart has always been devoted to your
service: and since you have been graciously pleased, by your permission of this address, to accept the tender of my duty, it is not yet too late to lay these volumes at your feet.
The world is sensible that you worthily succeed, not only to the honours of your ancestors, but also to their virtues. The long chain of magnanimity, courage, eafiness of access, and desire of doing good even to the prejudice of your fortune, is so far from being broken in your Grace, that the precious metal yet runs pure to the newest link of it: 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 Dutchess, are happy omens of my
will. 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 : fome 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 beha4
viour 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 mult cast in shades, lest I offend your modesty, which is so far from being oftentatious 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.
You are so eafy 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 Auguftus of the Roman emperors ; which were epithets of Aattery, deserved by few of them; and not running in a blood like the per
; petual gentleness, and inherent goodness of the Ormond Family.
Gold, as it is the purest, so it is the sofest, and most ductile of all metals : iron, which is the hardest, gathers ruft, corrodes itself ; and is therefore subject to corruption: it was never intended for coins and medals, or to bear faces and the 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 courage in an heroical degree, yet I ascribe it to you, but as your second attribute : mercy, beneficence, and compassion, claiin precedence, as they are first in 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 orignal 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 fincere pleasure and serenity of mind, in him who performs an action of mercy, which cannot suffer the misfortunes of another, without redress ; left they should bring a kind of contagion along with them, and pollute the happiness which he enjoys.