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affected to suspect that there was something wrong. But the world in general appears to have thought that a great lady might, without any imputation on her character, pay attention to a man of eminent genius, who was nearly sixty years old, who was still older in appearance and in constitution, who was confined to his chair by gout, and was unable to read from blindness.
In the summer of 1728, Congreve was ordered to try the Bath waters. During his excursion he was overturned in his chariot, and received some severe internal injury, from which he never recovered. He came back to London in a dangerous state, complained constantly of a pain in his side, and continued to sink, till, in the following January, he expired.
He left 10,0001., saved out of the emoluments of his lucrative places. Johnson says that this money ought to have gone to the Congreve family, which was then in great distress. Doctor Young and Mr. Leigh Hunt, two gentlemen who seldom agree with each other, but with whom, on this occasion, we are happy to agree, think that it ought to have gone to Mrs. Bracegirdle. Congreve bequeathed 2001. to Mrs. Bracegirdle, and an equal sum to a certain Mrs. Jellat; but the bulk of his accumulations went to the Duchess of Marlborough, in whose immense wealth such a legacy was as a drop in the bucket. It might have raised the fallen fortunes of a Staffordshire squire-it might have enabled a retired actress to enjoy every comfort, and, in her sense, every luxury—but it was not sufficient to defray the duchess's establishment for two months.
The great lady buried her friend with a pomp seldom seen at the funerals of poets. The corpse lay in state under the ancient roof of the Jerusalem Chamber, and was interred in Westminster Abbey. The pall was borne by the Duke of Bridgewater, Lord Cobham, the Earl of Wilmington, who had been Speaker, and who was afterwards First Lord of the Treasury, and other men of high consideration. Her grace laid out her friend's bequest in a superb diamond necklace, which she wore in honour of him; and, if report is to be believed, showed her regard in ways much more extraordinary. It is said that she had a statue of him in ivory, which moved by clockwork, and was placed daily at her table; that she had a wax doll made in imitation of him, and that
the feet of this doll were regularly blistered and anointed by the doctors, as poor Congreve's feet had been when he suffered from the gout. A monument was erected to the poet in Westminster Abbey, with an inscription written by the duchess; and Lord Cobham honoured him with a cenotaphy, which seems to us (though that is a bold word) the ugliest and most absurd of the buildings at Stowe.
We have said that Wycherley was a worse Congreve. There was indeed, a remarkable analogy between the writings and lives of these two men. Both were gentlemen liberally educated. Both led town lives, and knew human nature only as it appears between Hyde Park and the Tower. Both were men of wit. Neither had much imagination. Both at an early age produced lively and profligate comedies. Both retired from the field while still in early manhood, and owed to their youthful achievements in literature the consideration which they enjoyed in later life. Both, after they had ceased to write for the stage, published volumes of miscellanies, which did little credit either to their talents or their morals. Both, during their declining years, hung loose upon society; and both, in their last moments, made eccentric and unjustifiable dispositions respecting their estates.
But in every point Congreve maintained his superiority to Wycherley. Wycherley had wit; but the wit of Congreve
far outshines that of every comic writer, except Sheridan, who has arisen within the last two centuries. Congreve had not, in a large measure, the poetical faculty, but, compared with Wycherley, he might be called a great poet. Wycherley had some knowledge of books, but Congreve was a man of real learning. Congreve's offences against decorum, though highly culpable, were not so gross as those of Wycberley; nor did Congreve, like Wycherley, exhibit to the world the deplorable spectacle of a licentious dotage. Congreve died in the enjoyment of high consideration; Wycherley forgotten or despised. Congreve's will was absurd and capricious ; but Wycherley's last actions appeared to have been prompted by obdurate malignity.
Here, at least for the present, we must stop. Vanbrugh and Farquhar are not men to be hastily dismissed, and we have not left ourselves space to do them justice.
THE LATE LORD HOLLAND.*
Many reasons make it impossible for us to lay before our readers, at the present moment, a complete view of the character and public career of the late Lord Holland. But we feel that we have already deferred too long the duty of paying some tribute to his memory. We feel that it is more becoming to bring, without further delay, an offering, though intrinsically of little value, than to leave his tomb longer without some token of our reverence and love.
We shall say very little of the book which lies on our table. And yet it is a book which, even if it had been the work of a less distinguished man, or had appeared under circumstances less interesting, would have well repaid an attentive perusal. It is valuable, both as a record of principles and as a model of composition. We find in it all the great maxims which, during more than forty years, guided Lord Holland's public conduct, and the chief reasons on which those maxims rest, condensed into the smallest possible space, and set forth with admirable perspicuity, dignity, and precision. To his opinions on Foreign Policy we, for the most part, cordially assent; but, now and then, we are inclined to think them imprudently generous. We could not have signed the protest against the detention of Napoleon. The protest respecting the course which England pursued at the Congress of Verona, though it contains much that is excel. lent, contains also positions which, we are inclined to think, Lord Holland would, at a later period, have admitted to be unsound. But to all his doctrines on Constitutional Questions we give our hearty approbation; and we firmly believe that no British government has ever deviated from that line of internal policy which he has traced, without detriment to the public.
* The Opinions of Lord Holland, as recorded in the Journals of the House of Lords, from 1797 to 1841. Collected and edited by D. C. MOYLAN, of Lincoln's Inn, Barrister-at-law, 8vo. London. 1841.
We will give, as a specimen of this little volume, a single passage, in which a chief article of the political creed of the Whigs is stated and explained with singular clearness, force, and brevity. Our readers will remember that, in 1825, the Catholic Association agitated for emancipation with most formidable effect. The Tories acted after their kind. Instead of removing the grievance, they tried to put down the agitation, and brought in a law, apparently sharp and stringent, but, in truth, utterly impotent, for restraining the right of petition. Lord Holland's protest on that occasion is excellent.
“We are,” says he, “well aware that the privileges of the people, the rights of free discussion, and the spirit and letter of our popular institutions, must render—and they are intended to render-the continuance of an extensive grievance, and of the dissatisfaction consequent thereupon, dangerous to the tranquillity of the country, and ultimately subversive of the authority of the state. Experience and theory alike forbid us to deny that effect of a free constitution; a sense of justice and a love of liberty equally deter us from lamenting it. But we have always been taught to look for the remedy of such disorders in the redress of the grievances which justify them, and in the removal of the dissatisfaction from which they flow; not in restraints on ancient privileges, not in inroads on the right of public discussion, nor in violations of the principles of a free government. If, therefore, the legal method of seeking redress, which has been resorted to by persons labouring under grievous disabilities, be fraught with immediate or remote danger to the state, we draw from that circumstance a conclusion long since foretold by great authority-namely, that the British constitution and large exclusions cannot subsist together; that the constitution must destroy them, or they will destroy the constitution."
It was not, however, of this little book, valuable and interesting as it is, but of the author, that we meant to speak; and we will try to do so with calmness and impartiality.
In order fully to appreciate the character of Lord Holland, it is necessary to go far back into the history of his family; for he had inherited something more than a coronet and an estate. To the house of which he was the head belongs one distinction, which we believe to be without a parallel in our annals. During more than a century, there has never been a time at which a Fox has not stood in a prominent station among public men. Scarcely had the checkered career of the first Lord Holland closed, when his son, Charles, rose to the head of the Opposition, and to the first rank among English debaters. And before Charles was borne to Westminster Abbey, a third Fox had already become one of the most conspicuous politicians in the kingdom.
It is impossible not to be struck by the strong family likeness which, in spite of diversities arising from education and position, appears in these three distinguished persons. In their faces and figures there was a resemblance, such as is common enough in novels, where one picture is good for ten generations, but such as in real life is seldom found. The ample person, the massy and thoughtful forehead, the large eyebrows, the full cheek and lip; the expression, so singularly compounded of sense, humour, courage, openness, a strong will and a sweet temper, were common to all. But the features of the founder of the house, as the pencil of Reynolds and the chisel of Nollekens have handed them down to us, were disagreeably harsh and exaggerated. In his descendants, the aspect was preserved; but it was softened, till it became, in the late lord, the most gracious and interesting countenance that was ever lighted up by the mingled lustre of intelligence and benevolence.
As it was with the faces of the men of this noble family, so was it with their minds. Nature had done much for them all. She had moulded them all of that clay of which she is most sparing. To all she had given strong reason and sharp wit; a quick relish for every physical and intellectual enjoyment; constitutional intrepidity, and that frankness by which constitutional intrepidity is generally accompanied; spirits which nothing could depress; tempers easy, generous, and placable; and that genial courtesy which has its seat in the heart, and of which artificial politeness is only a faint and cold imitation. Such a disposition is the richest inheritance that ever was entailed on any family.
But training and situation greatly modified the fine qualities which nature lavished with such profusion on three generations of the house of Fox. The first Lord Holland was a needy political adventurer. He entered public life at a time when the standard of integrity among statesmen was