صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

liam Temple had the happiness to escape both these inconveniencies ; and, as his retiring from business was in all appearance voluntary, fo his contempt of greatness and splendor was the result of a thorough knowledge of the emptirefs and vanity of thofe glaring objects. He was sensible, that there was little in a court but a perpetual exchange of false friendlip, pretended honefly, feeming confidence, and defining gratitude : so that those, who, as Sir William, acted upon a sincere bottom, and gave realities instead of thews, professed them. felves as great bubbles as such as gave good money when counterfeit coin passed for current payment.

He had, by long experience, made the estimate of the advantages of a private life above those of a public ; and was thoroughly convinced, That the blettings of innocence, fecurity, meditation, good air, health, and found fleep, were clearly preferable to the splendor of courts; considering the slavish ai. tendance, the invidious competitions, servile fattery, and the mortal disappointments that usually attend them.

He set the frowns of princes, the envy of those that judge by hearfay, and the innumerable temptations, vices, and excesses of a life of pomp and pleasure, in ballance against the smiles of bounteous nature, the diversion of healthful exercises for the body, and the solid and lasting entertainments of the mind; and concluded, That he


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

that is a flave in the town, is a kind of petiyprince in the country:

To be very particular in annalyzing his works, would be foreign to our purpose ; yet we must not omit mentioning his Memoirs, which have not been cqualled by any that have writ fince him. They are the more useful hecause they take in the principal parts of the reign of Charles Il. and without them we. should have but an imperfect account of many particulars in that unequal adminiftration. The fecond part slipt first into the world, without the knowledge, as it was faid, though mott believe without the connivance, of the author. They confift not only of many domeftic affairs relating to the court of England, but of the principal foreign negotiations began in 1673, and ended in 1678, in the treaty Nimeguen, and with the general peace of Europe ; all laid open with firmness and impara tiality, as well as clearness and simplicity.

The first part was never published at all, but is very well supplied by a great number of letters and public papers ; which sufficiently Thews what a vigorous actor Sir William Temple was, how great a statesman he proved, and how much a master of business and poli.. ticks.

The third part appeared some years after his death ; which, though complained of as being published without consent of relations, was never charged with being the least spurious. This, though shortert in compass, both



as to time and matters, yet, keeping close te English administration at home, and discovering greater depths of those affairs, we take it to be the most useful and enlightning of the three.

Here are laid open, not only the secret fprings of many actions which were generally unknown before, but all the subtle arts and projections of ministers of state, with those various windings and turnings with which ftrangers are fo often perplexed and confounded in court. Here the difpofitions and aims of fome great men, as the lord Shaftsbury, Ef. sex, &c. are so effectually, as well as handfomely exposed, that many of one party are willing to have the credit of it called in quefa tion : but, as it has long stood, so no doubt but it will continue to stand, the test against a!! opponents.

We shall say nothing further of his writings, but only observe, that, when the reader comes to peruse the whole, he will readily form to himself the general character of an accomplished gentleman, a penetrating politician, a wife patriot, and a learned man: and, if this great idea fhould be really shaded by some couches of vanity and the fpleen, he may easily consider that the greatest and wiseft men have not always been exempt from those very fail. ings and imperfections, and that the former might arise from some peculiar excellencies in his character ; and the latter from fome un. common provocations of those who differed


from him either in politicks or in learning; and in both, perhaps, without his being the aggressor.

In the latte: cafe, we think he was too hardly, if not too designedly, attacked, first by Mr. Wotton, and then by Dr. Bentley ; and, that he was treated after a too rigid manner, and too fcholaftical and critical a way, for a gentleman of his refined genius and superior education, and one who was so ready to oblige the public in an easy, free, and beauciful way of delivering his thoughts and fentiments.

This a little raifed His indignation, and forced him to say, in his answer, That the critics are a race of scholars I am very little acquainted with; having always esteemed them but like brokers, who, having no stock of their


and trade with that of other men ; buying here, and felling there, and commonly abufing all sides, to make out a little paltry gain, either of money or credit, for thenfelves, and care not at whose coft.

Then, after acknowledging the usefulness of such persons at the first restoration of learning, and the copies after the antients, he could but look upon the latter fort as a degenerate race;

and was provoked to declare, " There is, I think, no fort of talent so despicable as that of such common critics who can, at best, pretend to value themselves by: discovering the defaults of other men, rather than any worth or merit of their own : a fort.

own, fet

[merged small][ocr errors]

of levellers, that will needs equal the best and richest of the country, not by improving their own estates, but reducing those of their neighbours, and making them appear as mean and wretched as themselves.”

In 1694, he had the misfortune to lose his lady, who was eminent for the highest accomplishments, and particularly esteemed by queen Mary, with whom fhe had the honour to keep a conftant correspondence by letters, in which the had an admirable turn of wit, and a pecu.. liar elegance and beauty of expression.

Sir William survived her four years, and died in January, 3698, in his feventieth year, at Moor-Park; where, according to the plain directions in his will, his heart was deposited in a silver box, and buried under the fun-dial in his garden, opposite to the window from whence he used to contemplate and ad. mire the glorious works of nature, with his beloved sider, the ingenious lady Giffard ; a: lady who, as fhe had shared and relieved the fatigues of his voyages and travels during his public negotiations, so she was the principal delight and comfort of his last retirement and

old age.

His character is given by Dr. Burch as follows:

“. He had an extraordinary vivacity, with: fo agreeable a vein of wit and fancy in his conversation, that no body was welcomer in all sorts of company; but his humour was. greatly affected by the spleen in sudden changes


« السابقةمتابعة »