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BUCKINGHAM AND THE PRINCESS OF ORANGE.
ess, by whom he had a son, whom he styled Earl of Coventry (his second title), and who died an infant.
One lingers still over the social career of one whom Louis XIV. called “ the only English gentleman he had ever seen.” A capital retort was made to Buckingham by the Princess of Orange, during an interview, when he stopped at the Hague, between her and the Duke. He was trying diplomatically to convince her of the affection of England for the States. do not,” he said, “use Holland like a mistress, we love her as a wife.' “Vraiment je crois que vous nous aimez comme vous aimez la vôtre," was the sharp and clever answer.
On the death of Charles II., in 1685, Buckingham retired to the small remnant of his Yorkshire estates. His debts were now set down at the sum of £140,000. They were liquidated by the sale of his estates. He took kindly to a country life, to the surprise of his old comrade in pleasure, Etherege. “I have heard the news,” that wit cried, alluding to this change, " with no less astonishment than if I had been told that the Pope had begun to wear a periwig and had turned beau in the seventy-fourth year of his age!"
Father Petre and Father Fitzgerald were sent by James II. to convert the duke to Popery. The following anecdote is told of their conference with the dying sinner:
We deny,” said the Jesuit Petre, “ that any one can be saved out of our Church. Your grace allows that our people may be saved." “No, curse ye,” said the duke, “I make no doubt you will all be damned to a man!” “Sir,” said the father, “I can not argue with a person so void of all charity.” “I did not expect, my reverend father," said the duke, “such a reproach from you, whose whole reasoning was founded on the very same instance of want of charity to yourself.”
Buckingham's death took place at Helmsby, in Yorkshire, and the immediate cause was an ague and fever, owing to having sat down on the wet grass after fox-hunting. Pope has given the following forcible, but inaccurate, account of his last hours, and the place in which they were passed :
“In the worst inn's worst room, with mat half hung,
BUCKINGHAM'S LAST HOURS.
No wit to flatter left of all his store,
And fame, this lord of useless thousands ends." Far from expiring in the worst inn's worst room,” the duke breathed his last in Kirby Moorside, in a house which had once been the best in the place. Brian Fairfax, who loved this brilliant reprobate, has left the only authentic account on record of his last hours.
The night previous to the duke's death, Fairfax had received a message from him desiring him to prepare a bed for him in his house, Bishop Hill, in York. The next day, however, Fairfax was sent for to his master, whom he found dying. He was speechless, but gave the afflicted servant an earnest look of recognition.
The Earl of Arran, son of the Duke of Hamilton, and a gentleman of the neighborhood, stood by his bedside. He had then received the Holy Communion from a neighboring clergyman of the Established Church. When the minister came, it is said that he inquired of the duke what religion he professed. “It is," replied the dying man, "an insignificant
” question, for I have been a shame and a disgrace to all religions: if you can do me any good, pray do.” When a Popish priest had been mentioned to him, he answered vehemently, No, no!”
He was in a very low state when Lord Arran had found him. But though that nobleman saw death in his looks, the duke said he “ felt so well at heart that he knew he could be in no danger."
He appeared to have had inflammation in the bowels, which ended in mortification. He begged of Lord Arran to stay with him. The house seems to have been in a most miserable condition, for in a letter from Lord Arran to Dr. Sprat, he says: “I confess it made my heart bleed to see the Duke of Buckingham in so pitiful a place, and so bad a condition, and what made it worse, he was not at all sensible of it, for he thought in a day or two he should be well; and when we reminded him of his condition, he said it was not as we apprehended. So I sent for a worthy gentleman, Mr. Gibson, to be assistant to me in this work; so we jointly represented his condition to him, who I saw was at first very uneasy; but I think we should not have discharged the duties of honest men if we had suffered him to go out of this world without desiring him to prepare for death.” The duke joined heartily in the beautiful prayers for the dying, of our church, and yet there was a sort of selfishness and indifference to others manifest even at the last.
DEATH OF VILLIERS.
“Mr. Gibson," writes Lord Arran, “ asked him if he had made a will, or if he would declare who was to be his heir ? but to the first, he answered he had made none; and to the last, whoever was named he answered, “No. First, my lady duchess was named, and then I think almost every body that had any
relation to him, but his answer always was, 'No.' I did fully represent my lady duchess' condition to him, but nothing that was said to him could make him come to any point.
In this “retired corner,” as Lord Arran terms it, did the former wit and beau, the once brave and fine cavalier, the reckless plotter in after-life, end his existence. His body was removed to Helmsby Castle, there to wait the duchess' pleasure, being meantime embalmed. Not one farthing could his steward produce to defray his burial. His George and blue ribbon were sent to King James, with an account of his death.
In Kirby Moorside, the following entry in the register of burials records the event, which is so replete with a singular retributive justice-so constituted to impress and sadden the mind :
“George Villus, Lord dooke of bookingham.” He left scarcely a friend to mourn his life; for to no man had he been true. He died on the 16th of April according to some accounts; according to others, on the
third of that month, 1687, in the sixty-first year of his age. His body, after embalming, was deposited in the family vault in Henry VII.'s chapel.* He left no children, and his title was therefore extinct. The Duchess of Buckingham, of whom Brian Fairfax remarks, “that if she had none of the vanities, she had none of the vices of the court,” survived him several years. She died in 1705, at the age of sixty-six, and was buried in the vault of the Villiers family, in the chapel of Henry VII.
Such was the extinction of all the magnificence and intellectual ascendency that at one time centred in this great and gifted family.
* Brian Fairfax states, that at his death (the Duke of Buckingham's) he charged his debts on his estate, leaving much more than enough to cover them. By the register of Westminster Abbey, it appears that he was buried in Henry VII.'s Chapel, 7th June, 1687.
COUNT DE GRAMMONT, ST. EVREMOND, AND LORD
It has been observed by a French critic, that the Mémoires de Grammont afford the truest specimens of French character in our language. To this it may be added, that the subject of that animated narrative was most completely French in principle, in intelligence, in wit that hesitated at nothing, in spirits that were never daunted, and in that incessant activity which is characteristic of his countrymen. Grammont, it was said, “ slept neither night nor day;" his life was one scene of incessant excitement.
His father, supposed to have been the natural son of Henry the Great, of France, did not suppress that fact, but desired to publish it; for the morals of his time were so depraved, that it was thought to be more honorable to be the illegitimate son of a king that the lawful child of lowlier parents. Born in the Castle of Semeae, on the banks of the Garonne, the fame of two fair ancestresses, Corisande and Menadame, had entitled the family of De Grammont to expect in each successive member an inheritance of beauty. Wit, courage, good-nature, a charming address, and boundless assurance, were the heritage of Philibert de Grammont. Beauty was not his possession : good-nature, a more popular quality, he had in abundance:
"His wit to scandal never stooping,
His mirth ne'er to buffoonery drooping." As Philibert grew up, the two aristocratic professions of France were presented for his choice: the army or the church. Neither of these vocations constitutes now the ambition of the high-born in France: the church, to a certain extent, retains its prestige, but the army, ever since officers have risen from the ranks, does not comprise the same class of men as in England. In the reign of Louis XIII., when De Grammont lived, it was otherwise. All political power was vested in the church. Richelieu was, to all purposes, the ruler of France, the dictator of Europe; and, with regard to the church, great men, at the head of military affairs, were daily proving to the world how much intelligence could effect with a small numerical power. Young men took one course or another; the sway of the cabinet, on the one hand, tempted them to the church; the bril