Page images

overcome, with the tenderness of the mother. Her understanding was such as must have made a figure, had it been in a man; but the modesty of her sex threw a veil over its lustre, which nevertheless suppressed only the expression, not the exertion of it; for her sense was not superior to her resolution, which, when once she was in the right, preserved her from making it only a transition to the wrong, the frequent weakness even of the best women. She often followed wise counsel, but sometimes went before it, always with success. She was possessed of a spirit, which assisted her to get the better of those accidents which admitted of any redress, and enabled her to support outwardly, with decency and dignity, those which admitted of none; yet melted inwardly, through almost her whole life, at a succession of melancholy and affecting objects, the loss of all her children, the misfortunes of relations and friends, public and private, and the death of those who were dearest to her. Her heart was as compassionate as it was great: her affections warm even to solicitude: her friendship not violent or jealous, but rational and persevering: her gratitude equal and constant to the living; to the dead. boundless and heroical. What person soever she found worthy of her esteem, she would not give up for any power on earth; and the greatest on earth whom she could not esteem, obtained from her no farther tribute than decency. Her goodwill was wholly directed by merit, not by acci

dent; not measured by the regard they professed for her own desert, but by her idea of theirs and as there was no merit which she was not able to imitate, there was none which she could envy: therefore her conversation was as free from detraction as her opinions from prejudice or prepossession. As her thoughts were her own, so were her words; and she was as sincere in uttering her judgment, as impartial in forming it. She was a safe companion; many were served, none ever suffered by her acquaintance: inoffensive, when unprovoked; when provoked, not stupid: but the moment her enemy ceased to be hurtful, she could cease to act as an enemy. She was therefore not a bitter but consistent enemy: (though indeed, when forced to be so, the more a finished one for having been long a making). And her proceeding with ill people was more in a calm and steady course, like justice, than in quick and passionate onsets, like revenge. As for those of whom she only thought ill, she considered them not so much as once to wish them ill; of such, her contempt was great enough to put a stop to all other passions that could hurt them. Her love and aversion, her gratitude and resentment, her esteem and neglect, were equally open and strong, and alterable only from the alteration of the persons who created them. Her mind was too noble to be insincere, and her heart too honest to stand in need of it; so that she never found cause to repent her conduct either to a friend or an enemy.

There remains only to speak of her person, which was most amiably majestic; the nicest eye could find no fault in the outward lineaments of her face or proportion of her body: it was such, as pleased wherever she had a desire it should; yet she never envied that of any other, which might better please in general: in the same manner, as being content that her merits were esteemed where she desired they should, she never depreciated those of any other that were esteemed or preferred elsewhere. For she aimed not at a general love or a general esteem, where she was not known; it was enough to be possessed of both wherever she was. Having lived to the age of sixty-two years; not courting regard, but receiving it from all who knew her; not loving business, but discharging it fully wheresoever duty or friendship engaged her in it; not following greatness, but not declining to pay respect, as far as was due from independency and disinterest; having honourably absolved all the parts of life, she forsook this world, where she had left no act of duty or virtue undone, for that where alone such acts are rewarded, on the 13th day of March 1742-3.*

*The above character was written by Mr. Pope some years before her Grace's death." So the printed edition. Warburton.



Dear Sir,

Bath, July 11, 1743.


AM always glad to hear of you, and where I can I always inquire of you. But why have you omitted to tell me one word of your own health? The account of our friend's* is truly melancholy, added to the circumstance of his being detained (I fear without much hope) in a foreign country, from the comfort of seeing (what a good man most desires and best deserves to see to the last hour) his friends about him. The public news indeed gives every Englishman a reasonable joy, and I truly feel it with you, as a national joy, not a party one; nay, as a general joy to all nations, where bloodshed and misery must have been introduced, had the ambition and perfidy of - prevailed.

I come now to answer your friend's question. The whole of what he has heard of my writing the character of the old Duke of Buckingham is untrue. I do not remember ever to have seen it in MS. nor have I ever seen the pedigree he mentions, otherwise than after the Duchess had printed it with the will, and sent one to me, as, I suppose, she did to all her acquaintance. I do not wonder

*Mr. Bethel.

+ The victory at Dettingen. Warburton. He says the old Duke, because he wrote a very fine Epitaph for the son. Warburton.

it should be reported I writ that character, after a story which I will tell you in your ear, and to yourself only. There was another character written of her Grace by herself (with what help I know not); but she shewed it me in her blots, and pressed me, by all the adjurations of friendship, to give her my sincere opinion of it. I acted honestly and did so. She seemed to take it patiently, and, upon many exceptions which I made, engaged me to take the whole, and to select out of it just as much as I judged might stand, and return her the copy. I did so. Immediately she picked a quarrel with me, and we never saw each other in five or six years. In the mean time, she shewed this character (as much as was extracted of it in my hand-writing) as a composition of my own in her praise. And very probably it is now in the hands of Lord Harvey. Dear Sir, I sincerely wish you, and your whole family, (whose welfare is so closely connected,) the best health and truest happiness; and am (as is also the master of this place)

Your, &c.

« PreviousContinue »