« PreviousContinue »
the truth, because men would never believe CHAP.
IV. those ministers to be sincere: a maxim in
1666. contradiction to that infamous rule of sir Henry Wooton's, that an ambassador was a man deputed to tell lies for the benefit of
The consequence of his character, and of his sincerity, was so great, that the interests of rival nations and of contending parties were deposited in his hands, as in a sacred asylum of probity and honour ; and mankind were charmed with the proof of that well-known but neglected aphorism, “ that honesty is
the best policy;" contrary to the opinion of those reptiles who too often glide into public employments, by the miserable shifts of cunning and deceit ; who place the reputation of wisdom in the accumulation of wealth, and in the exercise of that instinct, which mankind possess in common with the meanest and most contemptible animals.
The retirement of this great man has bequeathed the most invaluable legacy to
CHAP. pofterity. Of the taste and elegance of his
writings too much can never be said, illu1666.
minated as they are by that probity and
Though other writers may be more the objects of imitation to the scholar, yet his style is certainly the best adapted to the politician and the man of fashion : nor would such an opinion be given, were it not for an anecdote of Swift which I had from the late Mr. Sheridan, who told me the Dean always recommended him as the best model, and had repeatedly said that the style of fir William Temple was the easiest, the most liberal, and the most brilliant in our language.
When we consider the contempt of wealth, the disinterestedness of Temple; when we perceive, that in his whole life, his thoughts were ever turned, rather upon how much less he wanted, than how much more; when we consider that his promise to Charles
the second, That he would live for the re- CHAP.
In a word, when we consider his probity, his disinterestedness, his contempt of wealth, the genuine beauty of his style, which was as brilliant, as harmonious, and as pure as his life and manners; when we reflect upon the treasures which he has bequeathed by his example and by his works to his country, which no man ever loved better, or esteemed more; we cannot avoid considering sir William Temple as one of the greatest characters which has appeared upon the political stage; and he may be justly classed
CHAP, with the greatest names of antiquity, and
with the most brilliant characters which 1666. adorn and illustrate the Grecian or Ro
CH A P. V.
Summary of the Work.—Periods of assembling
the Irish Parliament.-Conferences.--Public Accounts.—Isuing of Writs.- Proxies. -Of the Orders of the House of Lords.
- Comparison of the ancient and modern Sesions.
PON a review of the early tranfactions CHAP.
of the Irish parliament, the irregularity of the periods of their meeting, and the frequent and long intervals in the convention of that assembly, are most conspicuous.
From the second to the eleventh, and from the thirteenth to the twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth years of the reign of Elizabeth, parliaments were not convened in Ireland.
From thence, to the twelfth and thirteenth years of James the first, and from this last period till the year one thousand six hun. dred and thirty-four-five, and from that