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A CHANGE IN HERVEY'S LIFE.
With the death of Queen Caroline, Lord Hervey's life, as to court, was changed. He was afterward made lord privy seal, and had consequently to enter the political world, with the disadvantage of knowing that much was expected from a man of so high a reputation for wit and learning. He was violently opposed by Pelham, Duke of Newcastle, who had been adverse to his entering the ministry; and since, with Walpole's favor, it was impossible to injure him by fair means, it was resolved to oppose Lord Hervey by foul ones. One evening, , when he was to speak, a party of fashionable Amazons, with two duchesses—her grace of Queensberry and her grace of Ancaster—at their head, stormed the House of Lords and disturbed the debate with noisy laughter and sneers. Poor Lord Hervey was completely daunted, and spoke miserably. After Sir Robert Walpole's fall Lord Hervey retired. The following letter from him to Lady Mary Wortley Montagų fully describes his position and circumstances :
“I must now,” he writes to her, “ since you take so friendly a part in what concerns me, give you a short account of my natural and political health; and when I say I am still alive, and still privy seal, it is all I can say for the pleasure of one or the honor of the other; for since Lord Orford's retiring, as I am too proud to offer my service and friendship where I am not sure they will be accepted of, and too inconsiderable to have those advances made to me (though I never forgot or failed to return any obligation I ever received), so I remained as illustrious a nothing in this office as ever filled it since it was erected. There is one benefit, however, I enjoy from this loss of my court interest, which is, that all those flies which were buzzing about me in the summer sunshine and full ripeness of that interest, have all deserted its autumnal decay, and from thinking my natural death not far off, and my political demise already over, have all forgot the death-bed of the one and the coffin of the other."
Again he wrote to her a characteristic letter :
“I have been confined these three weeks by a fever, which is a sort of annual tax my detestable constitution pays to our detestable climate at the return of every spring; it is now much abated, though not quite gone off."
He was long a helpless invalid; and on the 8th of August, 1743, his short, unprofitable, brilliant, unhappy life was closed. He died at Ickworth, attended and deplored by his wife, who had ever held a secondary part in the heart of the great wit and beau of the court of George II. After his death his son George returned to Lady Mary all the letters she had written to his father: the packet was sealed; an assurance
LORD HERVEY'S DEATH.
was at the same time given that they had not been read. In acknowledging this act of attention, Lady Mary wrote that " she could almost regret that he had not glanced his
eye over a correspondence which might have shown him what so young a man might perhaps be inclined to doubt—the possibility of a long and steady friendship subsisting between two persons of different sexes without the least mixture of love."
Nevertheless, some expressions of Lord Hervey seem to have bordered on the tender style, when writing to Lady Mary in such terms as these. She had complained that she was too old to inspire a passion (a sort of challenge for a compliment), on which he wrote: “I should think any body a great fool that said he liked spring better than summer, merely because it is further from autumn, or that they loved green fruit better than ripe only because it was further from being rotten. I ever did, and believe ever shall, like woman best
"Just in the noon of life—those golden days,
When the mind ripens ere the form decays.' Certainly this looks very unlike a pure Platonic, and it is not to be wondered at that Lady Hervey refused to call on Lady Mary, when, long after Lord Hervey’s death, that fascinating woman returned to England. A wit, a courtier at the very fount of all politeness, Lord Hervey wanted the genuine source of all social qualities--Christianity. That moral refrigerator which checks the kindly current of neighborly kindness, and which prevents all genial feelings from expanding, produced its usual effect-misanthrophy. Lord Hervey's lines, in his “Satire after the manner of Persius,” describes too well his own mental canker:
" Mankind I know, their motives and their art,
Their vice their own, their virtue best apart,
And dangerous only when 'tis acted well.”' Lord Hervey left in the possession of his family a manuscript work, consisting of memoirs of his own time, written in his own autograph, which was clean and legible. This work, which has furnished many of the anecdotes connected with his court life in the foregoing pages, was long guarded from the eye of any but the Hervey family, owing to an injunction given in his will by Augustus, third Earl of Bristol, Lord Hervey's son, that it should not see the light until after the death of His Majesty George III. It was not therefore published until 1848, when they were edited by Mr. Croker. They are referred to both by Horace Walpole, who had heard of them, if he had not seen them, and by Lord Hailes,
HERVEY'S MEMOIRS OF HIS OWN TIME.
as affording the most intimate portraiture of a court that has ever been presented to the English people. Such a delineation as Lord Hervey has left ought to cause a sentiment of thankfulness in every British heart for not being exposed to such influences, to such examples as he gives, in the present day, when goodness, affection, purity, benevolence, are the household deities of the court of our beloved, inestimable Queen Victoria.
PHILIP DORMER STANHOPE, FOURTH EARL OF CHES
TERFIELD. The subject of this memoir may be thought by some rather the modeler of wits than the original of that class; the great critic and judge of manners rather than the delight of the dinner-table; but we are told to the contrary by one who loved him not. Lord Hervey says of Lord Chesterfield that he was “ allowed by every body to have more conversable entertaining table-wit than any man of his time; his propensity to ridicule, in which he indulged himself with infinite humor and no distinction; and his inexhaustible spirits, and no discretion; made him sought and feared-liked and not loved-by most of his acquaintance."
This formidable personage was born in London on the 2d day of September, 1694. It was remarkable that the father of a man so vivacious, should have been of a morose temper; all the wit and spirit of intrigue displayed by him remind us of the frail Lady Chesterfield, in the time of Charles II.*-that lady who was looked on as a martyr because her husband was jealous of her; "a prodigy," says De Grammont,“ in the city of London,” where indulgent critics endeavor to excuse his lordship on account of his bad education, and mothers vowed that none of their sons should ever set foot in Italy, lest they should “bring back with them that infamous custom of laying restraint on their wives."
Even Horace Walpole cites Chesterfield as the "witty earl:"' apropos to an anecdote which he relates of an Italian lady, who said that she was only four-and-twenty ; “I suppose, said Lord Chesterfield, “ she means four-and-twenty stone."
By his father the future wit, historian, and orator was utterly neglected; but his grandmother, the Marchioness of Halifax, supplied to him the place of both parents, his mother -her daughter, Lady Elizabeth Saville-having died in his childhood. At the age of eighteen, Chesterfield, then Lord Stanhope, was entered at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. It was one of the features of his character to fall at once into the tone of the society into which he happened to be thrown. One can hardly imagine his being "an absolute pedant,” but such
, * The Countess of Chesterfield here alluded to was the second wife of Philip, second Earl of Chesterfield. Philip Dormer, fourth Earl, was grandson of the second Earl, by his third wife.
HERVEY'S DESCRIPTION OF CHESTERFIELD.
was, actually, his own account of himself: “When I talked my best, I quoted Horace; when I aimed at being facetious, I quoted Martial; and when I had a mind to be a fine gentleman, I talked Ovid. I was convinced that none but the ancients had common sense; that the classics contained every thing that was either necessary, useful, or ornamental to men; and I was not even without thoughts of wearing the toga virilis of the Romans, instead of the vulgar and illiberal dress of the moderns.”
Thus, again, when in Paris, he caught the manners, as he had acquired the language, of the Parisians. “I shall not give you my opinion of the French, because I am very often taken for one of them, and several have paid me the highest compliment they think it in their power to bestow-which is, Sir, you are just like ourselves. I shall only tell you that I am insolent; I talk a great deal; I am very loud and peremptory; I sing and dance as I walk along; and, above all,
Ι I spend an immense sum in hair-powder, feathers, and white gloves."
Although he entered Parliament before he had attained the legal age, and was expected to make a great figure in that assembly, Lord Chesterfield preferred the reputation of a wit and a beau to any other distinction. “Call it vanity, if you will,” he wrote in after life to his son, “and possibly it was so; but my great object was to make every man and every woman love me. I often succeeded; but why? by taking great pains."
According to Lord Hervey's account he often even sacrificed his interest to his vanity. The description given of Lord Chesterfield by one as bitter as himself implies, indeed, that great pains were requisite to counterbalance the defects of nature. Wilkes, one of the ugliest men of his time, used to say, that with an hour's start he would carry off the affections of any woman from the handsomest man breathing. Lord Chesterfield, according to Lord Hervey, required to be still longer in advance of a rival.
“With a person,” Hervey writes," as disagreeable as it was possible for a human figure to be without being deformed, he affected following many women of the first beauty and the most in fashion. He was very short, disproportioned, thick, and clumsily made; had a broad, rough-featured, ugly face, with black teeth, and a head big enough for a Polyphemus. One Ben Ashurst, who said a few good things, though admired for many, told Lord Chesterfield once, that he was like a stunted giant-which was a humorous idea and really apposite."