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VILLIERS AS A POET.

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occurrences, at last aroused the attention of Lord Shrewsbury, who had hitherto never doubted his wife: he challenged the Duke of Buckingham; and his infamous wife, it is said, held her paramour's horse, disguised as a page. Lord Shrewsbury was killed,* and the scandalous intimacy went on as before. No one but the queen, no one but the Duchess of Buckingham, appeared shocked at this tragedy, and no one minded their remarks, or joined in their indignation: all moral sense was suspended, or wholly stifled; and Villiers gloried in his depravity, more witty, more amusing, more fashionable than ever; and yet he seems, by the best known and most extolled of his poems, to have had some conception of what a real and worthy attachment might be. The following verses are to his “ Mistress.”

6: What a dull fool was I

To think so gross a lie,
As that I ever was in love before !
I have, perhaps, known one or two;

With whom I was content to be

At that which they call keeping company.
But after all that they could do,

I still could be with more.
Their absence never made me shed a tear;

And I can truly swear,
That, till my eyes first gazed on you,

I ne'er beheld the thing I could adore.
"A world of things must curiously be sought :

A world of things must be together brought
To make up charms which have the power to move,
Through a discerning eye, true love;
That is a master-piece above

What only looks and shape can do;

There must be wit and judgment too,
Greatness of thought, and worth, which draw,

From the whole world, respect and awe.
“She that would raise a noble love must find
Ways to beget a passion for her mind;
She must be that which she to be would seem,
For all true love is grounded on esteem:
Plainness and truth gain more a generous heart
Than all the crooked subtleties of art.
She must be—what said I ?—she must be you:
None but yourself that miracle can do.
At least, I'm sure, thus much I plainly see,
None but yourself e'er did it upon me,
'Tis you alone that can my heart subdue,
To you alone it always shall be true.”

* The duel with the Earl of Shrewsbury took place on the 17th of Janu

ary, 1667-8.

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VILLIERS AS A DRAMATIST.

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The next lines are also remarkable for the delicacy and happy turn of the expressions

“Though Phillis, from prevailing charms,
Have forc'd my Delia from my arms,
Think not your conquest to maintain
By rigor or unjust disdain.
In vain, fair nymph, in vain you strive,
For Love doth seldom Hope survive.
My heart may languish for a time,
As all beauties in their prime
Have justified such cruelty,
By the same fate that conquered me.
When age shall come, at whose command
Those troops of beauty must disband-
A rival's strength once took away,
What slave's so dull as to obey ?
But if you'll learn a noble way
To keep his empire from decay,
And there forever fix your throne,

Be kind, but kind to me alone.” Like his father, who ruined himself by building, Villiers had a monomania for bricks and mortar, yet he found time to write “The Rehearsal,” a play on which Mr. Reed in his “ Dramatic Biography" makes the following observation: “It is so perfect a masterpiece in its way, and so truly original, that, notwithstanding its prodigious success, even the task of imitation, which most kinds of excellence have invited inferior geniuses to undertake, bas appeared as too arduous to be attempted with regard to this, which through a whole century stands alone, notwithstanding that the very plays it was written expressly to ridicule are forgotten, and the taste it was meant to expose totally exploded."

The reverses of fortune which brought George Villiers to abject misery were therefore, in a very great measure, due to his own misconduct, his depravity, his waste of life, his perversion of noble mental powers: yet in many respects he was in advance of his age. He advocated, in the House of Lords, toleration to Dissenters. He wrote a “Short Discourse on the Reasonableness of Men's having a Religion, or Worship of God;" yet, such was his inconsistency, that, in spite of these works, and of one styled a “Demonstration of the Deity," written a short time before his death, he assisted Lord Rochester in his atheistic poem upon “Nothing."

Butler, the author of Hudibras, too truly said. of Villiers " that he had studied the whole body of vice;" a most fearful censure—a most significant description of a bad man. parts,” he adds, " are disproportionate to the whole, and like à monster, he has more of some, and less of others, than he

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VILLIERS' INFLUENCE IN PARLIAMENT.

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should have. He has pulled down all that nature raised in him, and built himself up again after a model of his own. He has dammed up all those lights that nature made into the noblest prospects of the world, and opened other little blind loopholes backward, by turning day into night, and night into day.”

The satiety and consequent misery produced by this terrible life are ably described by Butler. And it was perhaps partly this wearied, worn-out spirit that caused Villiers to rush madly into politics for excitement. In 1666 he asked for the office of Lord President of the North; it was refused : he became disaffected, raised mutinies, and, at last, excited the indignation of his too-indulgent sovereign. Charles dismissed him from his office, after keeping him for some time in confinement. After this epoch little is heard of Buckingham but what is disgraceful. He was again restored to Whitehall, and, according to Pepys, even closeted with Charles, while the Duke of York was excluded. A certain acquaintance of the duke's remonstrated with him upon the course which Charles now took in Parliament. * How often have you said to me,” this person remarked, “ that the king was a weak man, unable to govern, but to be governed, and that you could command him as you liked ? Why do you suffer him to do these things ?”

“Why,” answered the duke, “I do suffer him to do these things, that I may hereafter the better command him.” A reply which betrays the most depraved principle of action, whether toward a sovereign or a friend, that can be expressed. His influence was for some time supreme, yet he became the leader of the opposition, and invited to his table the discontented peers, to whom he satirized the court, and condemned the king's want of attention to business. While the theatre was ringing with laughter at the inimitable character of Bayes in the "Rehearsal,” the House of Lords was listening with profound attention to the eloquence that entranced their faculties, making wrong seem right for Buckingham was ever heard with attention.

Taking into account his mode of existence, “which," says Clarendon, was a life by night more than by day, in all the liberties that nature could desire and wit invent,” it was astonishing how extensive an influence he had in both Houses of Parliament. His rank and condescension, the pleasantness of his humors and conversation, and the extravagance and keenness of his wit, unrestrained by modesty or religion, caused persons of all opinions and dispositions to be fond of his company, and to imagine that these levities and vanities

, would wear off with age, and that there would be enough of

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A SCENE IN THE LORDS.

good left to make him useful to his country, for which he

pretended a wonderful affection.

But this brilliant career was soon checked. The varnish over the hollow character of this extraordinary man was eventually rubbed off. We find the first hint of that famous coalition styled the Cabal, in Pepys's Diary, and henceforth the duke must be regarded as a ruined man.

“He” (Sir H. Cholmly) “tells me that the Duke of Buckingham his crimes, as far as he knows, are his being of a cabal with some discontented persons of the late House of Commons, and opposing the desires of the king in all his matters in that House; and endeavoring to become popular, and advising how the Commons' House should proceed, and how he would order the House of Lords. And he hath been endeavoring to have the king's nativity calculated; which was done, and the fellow now in the Tower about it. This silly lord hath provoked, by his ill carriage, the Duke of York, my Lord Chancellor, and all the great persons, and therefore most likely will die.”

One day, in the House of Lords, during a conference between the two Houses, Buckingham leaned rudely over the shoulder of Henry Pierrepont, Marquis of Dorchester. Lord Dorchester merely removed his elbow. Then the duke asked him if he was uneasy. ** Yes,” the marquis replied, adding, “the duke dared not do this if he were any where else." Buckingham retorted, “Yes, he would; and he was a better man than my lord marquis ;" on which Dorchester told him that he lied. On this Buckingham struck off Dorchester's hat, seized him by the periwig, pulled it aside, and held him. The Lord Chamberlain and others interposed, and sent them both to the Tower. Nevertheless, not a month afterward, Pepys speaks of seeing the duke's play of "The Chances" acted at Whitehall. “A good play,” he condescends to say, “I find it, and the actors most good in it; and pretty to hear Knipp sing in the play very properly. All night I weepe,' and sung it admirably. The whole play pleases me well: and most of all, the sight of many fine ladies, among others, my Lady Castlemaine and Mrs. Middleton.

The whole management of public affairs was, at this period, intrusted to five persons, and hence the famous combination, the united letters of which formed the word “ Cabal:"_Clif ford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale. Their reprehensible schemes, their desperate characters, rendered them the opprobrium of their age, and the objects of censure to all posterity. While matters were in this state a daring outrage, which spoke fearfully of the lawless state of the times,

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THE DUKE OF ORMOND IN DANGER.

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was ascribed, though wrongly, to Buckingham. The Duke of Ormond, the object of his inveterate hatred, was at that time Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Colonel Blood-a disaffected disbanded officer of the Commonwealth, who had been attainted for a conspiracy in Ireland, but had escaped punishmentcame to England, and acted as a spy for the Cabal, who did not hesitate to countenance this daring scoundrel.

His first exploit was to attack the Duke of Ormond's coach one night in St. James's Street: to secure his person,

bind him, put him on horseback after one of his accomplices, and carry him to Tyburn, where he meant to hang his grace. On their way, however, Ormond, by a violent effort, threw himself on the ground; a scuffle ensued: the duke's servants came up, and after receiving the fire of Blood's pistols, the duke escaped. Lord Ossory, the Duke of Ormond's son, on going afterward to court, met Buckingham, and addressed him in these words:

My lord, I know well that you are at the bottom of this late attempt on my father; but I give you warning, if he by any means comes to a violent end, I shall not be at a loss to know the author. I shall consider you as an assassin, and shall treat you as such; and wherever I meet you I shall pistol you, though you stood behind the king's chair; and I tell it you in his majesty's presence, that you may be sure I shall not fail of performance.

Blood's next feat was to carry off from the Tower the crown jewels. He was overtaken and arrested ; and was then asked to name his accomplices. “No," he replied, “ the fear of danger shall never tempt me to deny guilt or to betray a friend.” Charles II., with undignified curiosity, wished to see the culprit. On inquiring of Blood how he dared to make so bold an attempt on the crown, the bravo answered, “My father lost a good estate fighting for the crown, and I considered it no harm to recover it by the crown.” He then told his majesty how he had resolved to assassinate him; how he had stood among the reeds in Battersea-fields with this design; how then a sudden awe had come over him: and Charles was weak enough to admire Blood's fearless bearing, and to pardon his attempt. Well might the Earl of Rochester write of Charles

“Here lies my sovereign lord the king,

Whose word no man relies on;
Who never said a foolish thing,

And never did a wise one." Notwithstanding Blood's outrages—the slightest penalty for which in our days would have been penal servitude for lifeEvelyn met him, not long afterward, at Lord Clifford's, at dinner, when De Grammont and other French noblemen were

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