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Hudibras Wycherley, that the Town liked his Plain Dealer and the late duke of Buckingham deferred to publifh his Rehearsal, till he was fure (as he expreffed it) that my lord Dorfet would not rehearse upon him again. If we wanted a foreign teftimony; La Fontaine and St. Evremond have acknowledged, that he was a perfect mafter in the beauty and fineness of their language, and of all that they call les Belles Letres. Nor was this nicety of his judgement confined only to books and literature; but was the fame in ftatuary, painting, and all other parts of art. Bermini would have taken his opinion upon the beauty and attitude of a figure; and king Charles did not agree with Lely, that my lady Cleveland's picture was finished, till it had the approbation of my lord Buckhurst.
As the judgement which he made of others writings could not be refuted, the manner in which he wrote will hardly ever be equalled. Every one of his pieces is an ingot of gold, intrinfically and folidly valuable; fuch as, wrought or beaten thinner, would shine through a whole book of any other author. His thought was always new; and the expreffion of it fo particularly happy, that every body knew immediately it could only be my lord Dorfet's: and yet it was so easy too, that every body was ready to imagine himself capable of writing it. There is a luftre in his verses, like that of the fun in Claude Lorrain's landskips: it looks natural, and is inimitable. His love-verses have a mixture of delicacy and ftrength they convey the wit of Petronius in the foftnefs of Tibullus. His fatire indeed
is fo feverely pointed, that in it he appears, what his great friend the earl of Rochester (that other prodigy of the age) fays he was,
"The best good man, with the worft-natur'd mufe:' yet even here, that character may juftly be applied to him, which Perfius gives of the best writer of this kind that ever lived,
"Omne vafer vitium ridenti Flaccus amico
"Tangit, & admiffus circum præcordia ludit :"
and the gentleman had always fo much the better of the fatirift, that the perfons touched did not know where to fix their refentments; and were forced to appear rather afhamed than angry. Yet fo far was this great author from valuing himself upon his works, that he cared not what became of them, though every body elfe did. There are many things of his not extant in writing, which however are always repeated like the verses and sayings of the antient Druids, they retain an univerfal veneration, though they are preferved only by memory.
As it is often feen, that thofe men who are leaft qua lified for bufinefs love it moft; my lord Dorfet's character was, that he certainly understood it, but did not care for it.
Coming very young to the poffeffion of two plentiful eftates, and in an age when pleasure was more in fashion than business, he turned his parts rather to books and converfation, than to politicks and what more immediately related to the publick. But, whenever the fafety
of his country demanded his affiftance, he readily entered into the most active parts of life; and underwent the greatest dangers, with a conftancy of mind, which fhewed, that he had not only read the rules of philofophy, but understood the practice of them.
In the first Dutch war, he went a volunteer under the duke of York: his behaviour, during that campaign, was fuch, as diftinguished the Sackville defcended from that Hildebrand of the name, who was one of the greatest captains that came into England with the Conqueror. But his making a fong the night before the engagement (and it was one of the prettieft that ever was made) carries with it so sedate a prefence of mind, and fuch an unusual gallantry, that it deferves as much to be recorded, as Alexander's jesting with his foldiers before he paffed the Granicus; or William the First of Orange, giving orders over-night for a battle, and defiring to be called in the morning, left he should happen to fleep too long.
From hence, during the remaining part of king Charles's reign, he continued to live in honourable leifure. He was of the bed-chamber to the king, and poffeffed not only his mafter's favour, but (in a great degree) his familiarity; never leaving the court, but when he was fent to that of France, on fome fhort commiffions and embaffies of compliment: as if the king defigned to fhew the French (who would be thought the politest nation) that one of the finest gentlemen in Europe was his subject; and that we had a
prince who understood his worth fo well, as not to fuffer him to be long out of his presence.
The fucceeding reign neither relifhed my lord's wit, nor approved his maxims: fo he retired altogether from court. But, as the irretrievable miftakes of that unhappy government went on to threaten the nation with fomething more terrible than a Dutch war, he thought it became him to refume the courage of his youth, and once more to engage himself in defending the liberty of his country. He entered into the prince of Orange's intereft; and carried on his part of that great enterprife here in London, and under the eye of the court, with the fame refolution, as his friend and fellow-patriot, the late duke of Devonshire, did in open arms at Nottingham; till the dangers of thofe times encreased to extremity, and just apprehensions arofe for the fafety of the princess, our prefent glorious queen: then the earl of Dorfet was thought the propereft guide of her neceffary flight, and the perfon under whose courage and direction the nation might most safely trust a charge fo precious and important.
After the establishment of their late majefties upon the throne, there was room again at court for men of my lord's character. He had a part in the councils of thofe princes, a great share in their friendship, and all the marks of diftinction with which a good government could reward a patriot. He was made chamberlain of their majesties household; a place which he fo eminently adorned by the grace of his perfon, the fineness of his breeding, and the knowledge and prac-
tice of what was decent and magnificent, that he could only be rivalled in these qualifications by one great man, who has fince held the fame staff.
The laft honours he received from his fovereign (and indeed they were the greatest which a fubject could receive) were, that he was made knight of the garter, and conftituted one of the regents of the kingdom during his majesty's abfence. But his health, about that time, fenfibly declining, and the public affairs not threatened by any imminent danger, he left the business to those who delighted more in the state of it, and appeared only fometimes at council, to fhew his refpect to the commiffion; giving as much leifure as he could to the relief of thofe pains with which it pleafed God to afflict him; and indulging the reflections of a mind, that had looked through the world with too piercing an eye, and was grown weary of the profpect. Upon the whole, it may very justly be faid of this great man, with regard to the publick, that through the course of his life he acted like an able pilot in a long voyage; contented to fit quiet in the cabin, when the winds were allayed, and the waters fmooth; but vigilant and ready to refume the helm, when the ftorm arofe, and the fea grew tumultuous.
I afk your pardon, my Lord, if I look yet a little more nearly into the late lord Dorfet's character: if I examine it not without fome intention of finding fault, and (which is an odd way of making a panegyric) fet his blemishes and imperfections in open view.