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landed without accident, and was prosecuted with prosperity. The enemy were thoroughly beaten, and it may be added, that Sheffield was more fortunate in war than in poetry, for the Vision has but little nerit, and much licentiousness. A less faulty specimen of his capacity as a writer will be found in the following extract, which opens his poem entitled the “ Temple of Death :”—
In those cold climates where the sun appears
Discharge the trust which, when it was below,
To his larnented loss, for times to come
Whose streams, oppress'd with carcases and bones,
After personifying Death as the Goddess of the scene, he proceeds to address her in these earnest lines :
Thou only comforter of minds oppressed,
- No mean retrcat shall any weakness show,
But calmly I'll expect the fatal blow: -
To these passages, marked by weakness and negligence, may be added Johnson's summary of his poetical character, and then one sentence will suffice both for his praise and his censure. “He sometimes glimmers, but rarely shines ; is laborious, yet feeble: to be great is seldom in his power, and at best he can only be considered as pretty at times.”
A second quotation of his song called “The Venture” is made as a farther exemplification of this judgment:
Oh, how I languish! What a strange
Unruly fierce desire!
My heart is all on fire.
In vain your tale ye tell
Love's foppish part farewell.
All that my wishes move,
Stretched on the rack of Love?
To like such slavish fear;
If once condemned by her.
To some unequal fight,
Before his general's sight,
Advanced the happy hero lives;
Or, if ill-fate denies,
And gloriously he dies !
The succession of James the II. to the throne, naturally warmed bis expectations of personal advancement, and he was not disappointed in the course of things. He was immediately created Lord Chamberlain, admitted to the Privy Council, and nominated one of the lords upon the ill-judged High Commission. A constant attendant at court, he now countenanced every change, even to attending the king at mass, and outwardly conforming to the rites of the Catholic church. Being expostulated with upon this subserviency, he asserted the independence of his belief, in a pointed answer, which, like many sallies of the sort, has beeni attributed to various persons. He told Bishop Burnet that he had been at some pains to confirm his belief that God had made the world, and created the men in it; but, that though he was willing to receive instruction, he could not easily be persuaded that man was quits of the obligation, and had made God again.
In all probability he was now led to imagine that a happy state of sun-shine and honours lay before him, but every reader knows how soon the reign of James was overcast by clouds. Sheffield had no share in the Revolution, though like many others he acquiesced in the change, when there seemed no chance of success for any different policy. This course was creditable : there is no baseness greater than that of sucking from a prince all that royalty can bestow, and then, when made great with the favour, abandoning the benefactor at the first ebb which the tide of fortune takes in receding from him. It should also be mentioned, that his integrity made, him feared by the party who introduced King William, and that, when the latter prince afterwards challenged him with the suspicion entertained by the party, that if known to him, he would certainly betray their designs; he had the spirit to answer, he certainly should have discovered every thing to the king he then served.
From these circumstances little confidence or employment was to be hoped for by him from the new order of things. In Parliament, he supported the ministry on many important questions, and
opposed them in others. Thus, as few doubted the honesty of his principles, his conduct at length secured the rewards of propriety: he was created Marquis of Normanby, and gifted with a pension of 30001. a year. The reign of Queen Anne, however, brought the consummation of his political distinction. With the prosperity of her administration the oldest feelings of his heart accorded, and he was highly honoured by her favours. She entrusted him with the Privy Seal; reinstated him in the Lord Lieutenancy of Yorkshire; made him one of the Commissioners for arranging the Union with Scotland; and evinced her sense of the manner in which he discharged these offices, by raising him in 1703 to the dukedom, first of Normanby, and afterwards of Buckingham.
Favourites are often the greatest enemies to themselves : Buckingham grew jealous of the rapidity with which the Duke of Marlborough prospered, and threw up his appointments in a pique.
This hastiness proved the value attached to his support, for the Queen courted him back with a splendid offer of the Chancellorship ; but he declined the elevation, and retired from public life. Thenceforward literature became the occupation of his life, and he enjoyed the fortune he had acquired in easy dignity. He built the palace long known by his name in St. James's Park, and amused himself with writing two tragedies, “Julius Cæsar,' and · Marcus Brutus,' which, though never acted, were intended for the stage. They are unworthily founded upon Shakspeare, with musical chorusses between the acts, after the ancient style—but, however conspicuous in the catalogue of works by royal and noble authors, can be read with little interest, and remembered for little praise.
Before the Queen's death he again appeared at court in his old office of Lord Chamberlain ; and, after the ascent of George I. lived unemployed, in constant opposition to the ministry, until the 24th of February, 1721, on which day he quietly expired in the arms of his wife. Though thrice married, and blessed with several children, he died without an heir, and the honours of a long line of ancestry became extinct in his person:
John Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham, has the honour of being incorporated among the British poets, and seems well deserving of the association by the eulogies conferred upon him by many