Imatges de pÓgina

and intended to have taken orders; but afterwards. altering his purpose, he purchased for 1500l. the place of one of the clerks of the council.

After he had written his epiftle on the victory of the Boyne, his patron Dorfet introduced him to king William, with this expreffion: "Sir, I have "brought a Moufe to wait on your Majefty." To which the king is faid to have replied, "You do "well to put me in the way of making a Man "of him;" and ordered him a penfion of five hundred pounds. This ftory, however current, feems to have been made after the event. The king's anfwer implies a greater acquaintance with our proverbial and familiar diction than king William could poffibly have attained.

In 1691, being member of the houfe of commons, he argued warmly in favour of a law to grant, the affiftance of counfel in trials for hightreafon; and, in the midst of his fpeech falling into fome confufion, was for a while filent; but, recovering himfelf, obferved, "how reafonable it


was to allow counsel to men called as criminals "before a court of Juftice, when it appeared how "much the presence of that affembly could dif"concert one of their own body *.


After this he rofe faft into honours and employments, being made one of the commiffioners of the treasury, and called to the privy-council. In 1694, he became chancellor of the exchequer ; and the next year engaged in the great attempt of the re-coinage, which was in two years happily

This anecdote is related by Mr. Walpole, in his Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors, of the Earl of Shaftesbury, author of the Characteristicks. R.


completed. In 1696, he projected the general fund, and raised the credit of the exchequer; and, after enquiry concerning à grant of Irish crown lands, it was determined by a vote of the commons, that Charles Montague, efquire, had deferved his Majefty's favour. In 1698, being advanced to the first commiffion of the treafury, he was appointed one of the regency in the king's abfence: the next year he was made auditor of the exchequer, and the year after created baron Halifax. He was however impeached by the commons; but the articles were difmiffed by the lords.

At the acceffion of queen Anne he was difmiffed from the council; and in the firft parliament of her reign was again attacked by the commons, and again efcaped by the protection of the lords. In 1704, he wrote an answer to Bromley's fpeech. againft occafional conformity. He headed the Enquiry into the danger of the Church. In 1706, he propofed and negociated the Union with Scotland; and when the elector of Hanover received the garter, after the act had passed for securing the Proteftant Succeffion, he was appointed to carry the enfigns of the order to the electoral court. He fat as one of the judges of Sacheverell; but voted for a mild fentence. Being now no longer in favour, he contrived to obtain a writ for fummoning the electoral prince to parliament as duke of Cambridge.

At the queen's death he was appointed one of the regents; and at the acceffion of George the Firft was made earl of Halifax, knight of the garter, and first commiffioner of the treafury, with a grant to his nephew of the reverfion of the auditorship of the Exchequer. More was not to be


had, and this he kept but a little while; for, on the 19th of May, 1715, he died of an inflamma. tion of his lungs.

Of him, who from a poet became a patron of poets, it will be readily believed that the works would not mifs of celebration. Addifon began to praise him early, and was followed and accompanied by other poets; perhaps by almoft all, except Swift and Pope, who forbore to flatter him in his life, and after his death spoke of him, Swift with flight cenfure, and Pope in the character Bufo with acrimonious contempt.

He was, as Pope fays, "fed with dedications;" for Tickell affirms that no dedication was unrewarded. To charge all unmerited praise with the guilt of flattery, and to fuppofe that the encomiaft always knows and feels the falfehoods of his affertions, is furely to discover great ignorance of human nature and human life. In determinations depending not on rules, but on experience and comparifon, judgement is always in fome degree fubject to affection. Very near to admiration is the wish to admire.

Every man willingly gives value to the praise which he receives, and confiders the fentence paffed in his favour as the fentence of difcernment. We admire in a friend that understanding which felected us for confidence; we admire more, in a patron, that judgement which, inftead of fcattering bounty indifcriminately, directed it to us; and, if the patron be an author, those performances which gratitude forbids us to blame, affection will eafily difpofe us to exalt.

To thefe prejudices, hardly culpable, interest adds a power always operating, though not always,



because not willingly, perceived. The modefty of praife wears gradually away; and perhaps the pride of patronage may be in time fo increased, that modeft praise will no longer pleafe.

Many a blandifhment was practifed upon Halifax, which he would never have known, had he no other attractions than those of his poetry, of which a fhort time has withered the beauties. It would now be efteemed no honour, by a contributor to the monthly bundles of verses, to be told, that, in ftrains either familiar or folemn, he fings like Montague.


THE Life of Dr. PARNELL is a task which I fhould very willingly decline, fince it has been lately written by Goldfmith, a man of fuch variety of powers, and fuch felicity of performance, that he always feemed to do best that which he was doing; a man who had the art of being minute without tedioufnefs, and general without confufion; whofe language was copious without exuberance, exact without conftraint, and eafy without weakness.

What fuch an author has told, who would tell again I have made an abftract from his larger narrative; and have this gratification from my


attempt, that it gives me an opportunity of paying due tribute to the memory of Goldsmith.

Τὸ γὰρ γέρας ἔςι θανόντων.

THOMAS PARNELL was the fon of a commonwealthfman of the fame name, who at the Restoration left Congleton in Cheshire, where the family had been established for feveral centuries, and, fettling in Ireland, purchased an eftate, which, with his lands in Chefhire, defcended to the poet, who was born at Dublin in 1679; and, after the ufual education at a grammar-fchool, was at the age of thirteen admitted into the College, where, in 1700, he became mafter of arts; and was the fame year ordained a deacon, though under the canonical age, by a difpenfation from the bishop of Derry.

About three years afterwards he was made a prieft; and in 1705 Dr. Afhe, the bishop of Clogher, conferred upon him the archdeaconry of Clogher. About the fame time he married Mrs, Anne Minchin, an amiable lady, by whom he had two fons, who died young, and a daughter who long furvived him.

At the ejection of the Whigs, in the end of Queen Anne's reign, Parnell was perfuaded to change his party, not without much cenfure from thofe whom he forfook, and was received by the new miniftry as a valuable reinforcement.


the earl of Oxford was told that Dr. Parnell waited among the crowd in the outer room, he went, by he perfuafion of Swift, with his treasurer's ftaff in his hand, to enquire for him, and to bid him welcome; and, as may be inferred from Pope's dedi


« AnteriorContinua »