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She waits, or to the scaffold, or the cell,
Ev'n now, obfervant of the parting ray,
Eyes the calm Sun-fet of thy various Day,
THERE are few verfes in Pope, more correct, more mufical, more dignified, and affecting, than thefe 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 moft 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-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, nullá pallefcere culpâ," I am willing to believe, and his fubfequent conduct goes a great way to prove it. Upon George the First's arrival in England, he went to pay his refpects to him, among the rest 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? Mr. Coxe, to whofe opinion I highly defer, acknowledges, that Harley never appeared to wish to frustrate the act of fettle ment." He has been called in common language "a Trimmer,"
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 confefs, setting party afide, I fee nothing inconfiftent in his conduct; at leaft, I fee nothing that could warrant the judgment that he was actuated by felf-intereft alone.
No one can fay, but that the conduct he pursued was such as a real lover of his country might have pursued; and it is such 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 supporting the power, and authority, and dignity of the CROWN; a Tory, but without entering into the designs of those who saw with a malignant eye the profpect of the proteftant 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 exafperated party might inflict; nor, when he had loft the favour of one party, did he basely 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. Thefe 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 occafion.
JAMES CRAGGS, ESQ.
SECRETARY OF STATE.
A 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 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. Addifon were appointed Secretaries of State.
This Epistle 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 answered, he was ready to give fatisfaction to any man, who should queftion him in that Houfe, or out of it. This created great offence, and was understood as a challenge, but after fome ferment, Mr. Craggs faid, that "by giving fatisfa&ion" he meant, clearing his conTyndal's Continuation of Rapin.
He died foon after the detection of the fallacy of the great fcheme, and would most 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.
JAMES CRAGGS, ESQ JUN
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.