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PHILIP, DUKE OF WHARTON. IF an illustration were wanted of that character unstable as water which shall not excel, this duke would at once supply it: if we had to warn genius against self-indulgence-some clever boy against extravagance-some poet against the bottle—this is the “shocking example” we should select: if we wished to show how the most splendid talents, the greatest wealth, the most careful education, the most unusual advantages, may all prove useless to a man who is too vain or too frivolous to use them properly, it is enough to cite that nobleman, whose acts gained for him the name of the infamous Duke of Wharton. Never was character more mercurial, or life more unsettled than his; never, perhaps, were more changes crowded into a fewer number of years, more fame and infamy gathered into so short a space. Suffice it to say, that when Pope wanted a man to hold up to the scorn of the world, as a sample of wasted abilities, it was Wharton that he chose, and bis lines rise in grandeur in proportion to the vileness of the theme:
“Wharton, the scorn and wonder of our days,
Thus with each gift of nature and of art,
Too rash for thought, for action too refined.”
“A tyrant to the wife his heart approved,
A rebel to the very king he loved;
And, harder still! flagitious, yet not great."
WHARTON'S ANCESTORS.-HIS EARLY YEARS.
cause of his eccentricities, so much as an utter restlessness and instability of character, Pope's description is sufficiently correct, and will prepare us for one of the most disappointing lives we could well have to read.
Philip, Duke of Wharton, was one of those men of whom an Irishman would say, that they were fortunate before they were born. His ancestors bequeathed him a name that stood high in England for bravery and excellence. The first of the house, Sir Thomas Wharton, had won his peerage from Henry VIII. for routing some 15,000 Scots with 500 men, and other gallant deeds. From his father the marquis he inherited much of his talents; but for the heroism of the former, he seems to have received it only in the extravagant form of foolhardiness. Walpole remembered, but could not tell where, a ballad he wrote on being arrested by the guard in St. James's Park, for singing the Jacobite song, “The King shall have his own again,” and quotes two lines to show that he was not ashamed of his own cowardice on the occasion:
"The duke he drew out half his sword
The guard drew out the rest. At the siege of Gibraltar, where he took up arms against his own king and country, he is said to have gone alone one night to the very walls of the town, and challenged the outpost. They asked him who he was, and when he replied, openly enough, “The Duke of Wharton,” they actually allowed him to return without either firing on or capturing him. The story seems somewhat apocryphal, but it is quite possible that the English soldiers may have refrained from violence to a well-known madcap nobleman of their own nation.
Philip, son of the Marquis of Wharton, at that time only a baron, was born in the last year but one of the seventeenth century, and came into the world endowed with every quality which might have made a great man, if he had only added wisdom to them. His father wished to make him a brilliant statesman, and, to have a better chance of doing so, kept him at home, and had him educated under his own eye. He seems to have easily and rapidly acquired a knowledge of classical languages; and his memory was so keen that when a boy of thirteen he could repeat the greater part of the “Æneid” and of Horace by heart. His father's keen perception did not allow him to stop at classics; and he wisely prepared him for the career to which he was destined by the study of history, ancient and modern, and of English literature, and by teaching him, even at that early age, the art of thinking and writing on any given subject, by proposing themes for essays. There is certainly no surer mode of developing the reflective
MARRIAGE AT SIXTEEN.
and reasoning powers of the mind; and the boy progressed with a rapidity which was almost alarming. Oratory, too, was of course cultivated, and to this end the
nobleman was made to recite before a small audience passages from Shakspeare, and even speeches which had been delivered in the House of Lords, and we may be certain he showed no bashfulness in this display.
He was precocious beyond measure, and at sixteen was a man. His first act of folly-or, perhaps, he thought of manhood-came off at this early age. He fell in love with the daughter of a Major General Holmes; and though there is nothing extraordinary in that, for nine tenths of us have been love-mad at as early an age, he did what fortunately very few do in a first love affair, he married the adored one. Early marriages are often extolled, and justly enough, as safeguards against profligate habits, but this one seems to have had the contrary effect on young Philip. His wife was in every sense too good for him: he was madly in love with her at first, but soon shamefully and openly faithless. Pope's line,
A tyrant to the wife his heart approved,”. requires explanation here. It is said that she did not present her boy-husband with a son for three years after their marriage, and on this child he set great value and great hopes. About that time he left his wife in the country, intending to amuse himself in town, and ordered her to remain behind with the child. The poor deserted woman well knew what was the real object of this journey, and could not endure the separation. In the hope of keeping her young husband out of harm, and none the less because she loved him very tenderly, she followed him soon after, taking the little Marquis of Malmsbury, as
live branch was called, with her. The duke was, of course, disgusted, but his anger was turned into hatred, when the child, which he had hoped to make his heir and successor, caught in town the small-pox, and died in infancy. He was furious with his wife, refused to see her for a long time, and treated her with unrelenting coldness.
The early marriage was much to the distaste of Philip's father, who had been lately made a marquis, and who hoped to arrange a very grand “alliance” for his petted son. He was, in fact, so much grieved by it, that he was fool enough to die of it in 1715, and the marchioness survived him only about a year, being no less disgusted with the licentiousness which she already discovered in her Young Hopeful.
She did what she could to set him right, and the young married man was shipped off with a tutor, a French Hugue
WHARTON TAKES LEAVE OF HIS TUTOR.
not, who was to take him to Geneva to be educated as a Protestant and a Whig. The young scamp declined to be either. He was taken, by way of seeing the world, to the petty courts of Germany, and of course to that of Hanover, which had kindly sent us the worst family that ever disgraced the English throne, and by the various princes and grand dukes received with all the honors due to a young British nobleman.
The tutor and his charge settled at last at Geneva, and my young Lord amused himself with tormenting his strict guardian. Walpole tells us that he once roused him out of bed only to borrow a pin. There is no doubt that he led the worthy man a sad life of it; and to put a climax to his conduct, ran away from him at last, leaving with him, by way of hostage, a young bear-cub—probably quite as tame as himself—which he had picked up somewhere, and grown very fond of—birds of a feather, seemingly-with a message, which showed more wit than good-nature, to this effect: “Being no longer able to bear with
gone however, that you may not want company, I have left you
the bear, as the most suitable companion in the world that could be picked out for you.”
The tutor had to console himself with a tu quoque, for the young scapegrace had found his way to Lyons in October, 1716, and then did the very thing his father's son should not have done. The Chevalier de St. George, the Old Pretender, James III., or by whatever other alias you prefer to call him, having failed in the attempt “to have his own again” in the preceding year, was then holding high court in high dudgeon at Avignon. Any adherent would, of course, be welcomed with open arms; and when the young marquis wrote to him to offer his allegiance, sending with his letter a fine entire horse as a peace offering, he was warmly responded to. A person of rank was at once dispatched to bring the youth to the ex-regal court; he was welcomed with much enthusiasm, and the empty title of Duke of Northumberland at once, most kindly, conferred on him. However, the young marquis does not seem to have goûté the exile's court, for he staid there one day only, and returning to Lyons, set off to enjoy himself at Paris. With much wit, no prudence, and a plentiful supply of money, which he threw about with the recklessness of a boy just escaped from his tutor, he could not fail to succeed in that capital; and, accordingly, the English received him with open arms. Even the embassador, Lord Stair, though he had heard rumors of his wild doings, invited him repeatedly to dinner, and did his best, by advice and warning, to keep him out of harm's way. Young Philip had a horror of