« EelmineJätka »
"He practifed his arts on fuch fmall occafions, "that Lady Bolingbroke ufed to fay, in a French "phrafe, that he played the politician about cab"bages and turnips. His unjuftifiable impref"fion of the Patriot King, as it can be imputed "to no particular motive, muft have proceeded "from his general habit of fecrecy and cunning; he caught an opportunity of a fly trick, and "pleased himself with the thought of outwitting "Bolingbroke.
In familiar or convivial converfation, it does "not appear that he excelled. He may be faid
to have resembled Dryden, as being not one that was diftinguished by vivacity in company. It is remarkable, that, fo near his time, fo much fhould be known of what he has written, and fo little of what he has faid: traditional memory retains no fallies of raillery, nor fen"tences of obfervation; nothing either pointed or folid, either wife or merry. One apoph* thegm only ftands upon record. When an ob
jection railed against his infcription for Shake"Spear was defended by the authority of Patrick, "he replied-horrefco referens-that he would allow the publisher of a dictionary to know the meaning of a fingle word, but not of two "words put together.
"He was fretful, and eafily displeased, and allowed himself to be capriciously refentful. He would fometimes leave Lord Oxford filently, no
́ ́ one could tell why, and was to be courted back
by more letters and messages than the footmen
were willing to carry. The table was indeed infefted by Lady Mary Wortley, who was the "friend of Lady Oxford, and who, knowing " his peevishness, could by no entreaties be re"ftrained from contradicting him, till their dif putes were sharpened to fuch afperity, that one or the other quitted the house.
He fometimes condefcended to be jocular with fervants or inferiors; but by no merriment, either of others or his own, was he ever seen excited to laughter.
Of his domeftic character, frugality was a part eminently remarkable. Having determined "not to be dependent, he determined not to be in "want, and therefore wifely and magnanimously
rejected all temptations to expence unfuitable to his fortune. This general care must be univerfally approved; but it fometimes appeared in petty artifices of parfimony, fuch as the practice of writing his compofitions on the back "of letters, as may be seen in the remaining copy of the Iliad, by which perhaps in five years hive fhillings were faved; or in a niggardly recep"tion of his friends, and fcantinefs of enter tainment, as, when he had two guests in his houfe, he would fet at fupper a fingle pint upon "the table; and having himself taken two fmall glaffes, would retire, and fay, Gentlemen, I
leave you to your wine. Yet he tells his friends, "that he has a heart for all, a houfe for all, and,. "whatever they may think, a fortune for all.
He fometimes, however, made a fplendid dinner, and is faid to have wanted no part of the kill or elegance which fuch performances require. That this magnificence should be often σε displayed, that obftinate prudence with which "he conducted his affairs would not permit; for "his revenue, certain and cafual, amounted only "to about eight hundred pounds a year, of which "however he declares himself able to affign one "hundred to charity.
"Of this fortune, which, as it arofe from public "approbation, was very honourably obtained, his his imagination feems to have been too full: "it would be hard to find a man, fo well entitled to notice by his wit, that ever delighted fo much in talking of his money. In his letters, and in his poems, his garden and his grotto, his quincunx and his vines, or fome hints of his opulence, are always to be found. The great topic of his ridicule is poverty; the crimes with which he reproaches his antagonists are their "debts, their habitation in the Mint, and their "want of a dinner. He feems to be of an opinion not very uncommon in the world, that to want money is to want every thing.
Next to the pleasure of contemplating his poffeffions, seems to be that of enumerating the
men of high rank with whom he was acquainted, "and whofe notice he loudly proclaims not to have "been obtained by any practices of meannefs or fervility; a boast which was never denied to be true, and to which very few poets have ever afpired. Pope never fet his genius to fale; he * never flattered thofe whom he did not love, or "praise those whom he did not efteem. Savage "however remarked, that he began a little to "relax his dignity when he wrote a diftich for his Highness's dog.
"His admiration of the great, feems to have increafed in the advance of life. He paffed over peers and ftatefmen to infcribe his Iliad to "Congreve, with a magnanimity of which the σε praife had been complete, had his friend's virσε tue been equal to his wit.
Why he was chofen
is not now poffible
"for so great an honour, it "to know; there is no trace, in literary hiftory, of "any particular intimacy between them; nor does "the name of Congreve appear in the letters. To his latter works, however, he took care to an
nex names dignified with titles; but was not "very happy in his choice; for, except Lord "Bathurst, none of his noble friends were fuch
as that a good man would wish to have his in"timacy with them configned to pofterity: he can. "derive little honour from the notice of Cobham, Burlington, or Bolingbroke."