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that whatever station they were in, they usually applied to him for his advice in every perplexity of business, and in affairs of the greatest difficulty.
His life was, in every part of it, set off with that graceful modesty and reserve, which made his virtues more beautiful, the more they were cast in such agreeable shades.
His religion was sincere, not ostentatious; and such as in. spired him with an universal benevolence towards all his fellowsubjects, not with bitterness against any part of them. He shewed his firm adherence to it as modelled by our national constitution, and was constant to its offices of devotion, both in public and in his family. He appeared a champion for it, with great reputation, in the cause of the seven bishops, at a time when the church was really in danger. To which we may add, that he held a strict friendship and correspondence with the great Archbishop Tillotson, being acted by the same spirit of candour and moderation; and moved rather with pity than indignation to wards the persons of those who differed from him in the unessential parts of Christianity.
His great humanity appeared in the minutest circumstances of his conversation. You found it in the benevolence of his aspect, the complacency of his behaviour, and the tone of his voice. His great application to the severer studies of the law, had not infected his temper with any thing positive or litigious. He did not know what it was to wrangle on indifferent points, to triumph in the superiority of his understanding, or to be supercilious on the side of truth. He joined the greatest delicacy of good-breeding to the greatest strength of reason. By approving the sentiments of a person, with whom he conversed, in such par- . ticulars as were just, he won him over from those points in which
· Being acted by. We should now say, being actuated with. Besides, I doubt whether it be right to give to the neutral verb, act, a passive signification.
he was mistaken ; and had so agreeable a way of conveying knowledge, that whoever conferred with him grew the wiser, without perceiving that he had been instructed. We may probably ascribe to this masterly and engaging manner of conversation, the great esteem which he had gained with the late queen, while she pursued those measures which had carried the British nation to the highest pitch of glory; notwithstanding she had entertained many unreasonable prejudices against him, before she was acquainted with his personal worth and behaviour.
As in his political capacity we have before seen how much he contributed to the establishment of the Protestant interest, and the good of his native country, he was always true to these great ends. His character was uniform and consistent with itself, and his whole conduct of a piece. His principles were founded in reason, and supported by virtue; and therefore did not lie at the mercy of ambition, avarice, or resentment. His notions were no less steady and unshaken, than just and upright. In a word, he concluded his course among the same well-chosen friendships and alliances, with which he began it.
This great man was not more conspicuous as a patriot and a statesman, than as a person of universal knowledge and learning. As by dividing his time between the public scenes of business, and the private retirements of life, he took care to keep up both the great and good man; so by the same means he accomplished himself not only in the knowledge of men and things, but in the skill of the most refined arts and sciences. That unwearied diligence, which followed him through all the stages of his life, gave him such a thorough insight into the laws of the land, that he passed for one of the greatest masters of his profession, at his first appearance in it. Though he made a regular progress through the several honours of the long robe, he was always looked upon as one who deseryed a superior station to that he was possessed of; till he arrived at the highest dignity to which those studies could advance him.
He enjoyed in the highest perfection two talents, which do not often meet in the same person, the greatest strength of good sense, and the most exquisite taste of politeness. Without the first, learning is but an incumbrance; and without the last, is ungraceful. My Lord Somers was master of these two qualifications in so eminent a degree, that all the parts of knowledge appeared in him with such an additional strength and beauty, as they want in the possession of others. If he delivered his opinion of a piece of poetry, a statue, or a picture, there was something so just and delicate in his observations, as naturally produced pleasure and assent in those who heard him.
His solidity and elegance, improved by the reading of the fiuest authors, both of the learned and modern languages, discovered itself in all his productions. His oratory was masculine and persuasive, free from every thing trivial and affected. His style in writing was chaste and pure, but at the same time full of spirit and politeness; and fit to convey the most intricate business to the understanding of the reader, with the utmost clearness and perspicuity. And here it is to be lamented, that this extraordinary person, out of his natural aversion to vainglory, wrote several pieces as well as performed several actions, which he did not assume the honour of: though at the same time so many works of this nature have appeared, which every one has ascribed to him, that I believe no author of the greatest emi. nence would deny my Lord Somers to have been the best writer of the age in which he lived.
This noble lord, for the great extent of his knowledge and capacity, has been often compared with the Lord Verulam, who had also been chancellor of England. But the conduct of these extraordinary persons, under the same circumstances, was vastly different. They were both impeached by a House of Commons. One of them, as he had given just occasion for it, sunk under it; and was reduced to such an abject submission, as very much diminished the lustre of so exalted a character: but
Lord Somers was too well fortified in his integrity to fear the impotence of an attempt upon his reputation; and though his accusers would gladly have dropped their impeachment, he was instant with them for the prosecution of it, and would not let that matter rest till it was brought to an issue. For the same virtue and greatness of mind which gave him a disregard of fame, made him impatient of an undeserved reproach.
There is no question but this wonderful man will make one of the most distinguished figures in the history of the present age; but we cannot expect that his merit will shine out in its proper light, since he wrote many things which are not published in his name ; was at the bottom of many excellent counsels, in which he did not appear; did offices of friendship to many persons, who knew not from whom they were derived; and performed great services to his country, the glory of which was transferred to others : in short, since he made it his endeavour rather to do worthy actions, than to gain an illustrious character.
No. 40. MONDAY, MAY 7.
Urit enim fulgore suo qui prægravat artes
Ir requires no small degree of resolution to be an author, in a country so facetious and satirical as this of Great Britain. Such a one raises a kind of alarm among his fellow-subjects, and by pretending to distinguish himself from the herd, becomes a
mark of public censure, and sometimes a standing object of raillery and ridicule. Writing is, indeed, a provocation to the envious, and an affront to the ignorant. How often do we see a person, whose intentions are visibly to do good by the works which he publishes, treated in as scurrilous a manner, as if he were an enemy to mankind ? All the little scramblers after fame fall upon him, publish every blot in his life, depend upon hearsay to defame him, and have recourse to their own invention, rather than suffer him to erect himself into an author with impunity. Even those who write on the most indifferent subjects, and are conversant only in works of taste, are looked upon as men that make a kind of insult upon society," and ought to be humbled as, disturbers of the public tranquillity. Not only the dull and the malicious, which make a formidable party in our island, but the whole fraternity of writers rise up in arms against every new intruder into the world of fame; and, a thousand to one, before they have done, prove him not only to be a fool, but a knave. Successful authors do what they can to exclude a competitor ; while the unsuccessful, with as much eagerness, lay in their claim to him as a brother. This natural antipathy to a man who breaks his ranks, and endeavours to signalize his parts in the world, has, very probably, hindered many persons from making their appearance in print, who might have enriched our country with better productions, in all kinds, than any that are now extant. The truth of it is, the active part of mankind, as they do most for the good of their contemporaries, very deservedly gain the greatest share in their applauses; whilst men of speculative endowments, who employ their talents in writing, as they may equally benefit or amuse succeeding ages, have, generally, the greatest
* Make a kind of insult upon society. To make an insult is not very exact English. He might have said, as men that offer an insult to society, or, as men that make a kind of assault upon society.
A thousand to one-a familiar phrase, for, most probably.