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TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
L L Ι Ο Ν Ε L
EARL OF DORSET AND MIDDLESEX.
IT looks like no great compliment to your Lordship,
that I prefix your name to this epistle ; when, in the Preface, I declare the book is published almost against my
inclination. But, in all cases, my Lord, you have an hereditary right to whatever may be called mine. Many of the following pieces were written by the command of your excellent father; and most of the reft, under his protection and patronage.
The particular felicity of your birth, my Lord; the natural endowinents of your mind, which, without sufpicion of flattery, I may tell you, are very great; the good education with which these parts have been improved; and your coming into the world, and seeing men very early; make us expect from your Lordship all the good, which our hopes can form in favour of a young nobleman. “ Tu Marcellus eris — " Our eyes and our hearts are turned on you. You must be a judge and master of polite learnings a friend and patron to men of letters and merit;'a faithful and able coun. fellor to your prince; a true patriot to your country; VOL. I.
an ornament and honour to the titles you possess; and, in one word, a worthy son to the great Earl of Dorset.
It is as impoffible to mention that name, without defiring to commend the person; as it is to give him the commendations which his virtues .deserved. But I afsure myself, the most agreeable compliment I can bring your Lordship, is to pay a grateful respect to your father's
's memory: and my own obligations to him were fuch, that the world must pardon my endeavouring at his character, however I may miscarry in the attempt.
A thoufand ornements and graces met in the compofition of this great man, and contributed to make him universally beloved and esteemed. The figure of his body was ftrong, proportionable, beautiful: and were his picture well drawn, it must deserve the praise given to the portraits of Raphael ; and, at once, create love and respect. While the greatness of his mien informed men, they were approaching the nobleman; the sweetness of it invited them to come nearer to the patron.
There was in his look and gesture fomething that is more easily conceived than described ; that gained upon you in his favour, before he spake one word. His behaviour was easy and courteous to ail; but distinguished and adapted to each man in particular, according to his station and quality. His civility was free from the formality of rule, and flowed immediately froin his
Such were the natural faculties and strength of his mind, that he had occasion to borrow very little from education; and he owed those advantages to his own
good parts, which others acquire by study and imita-
nesciebat :and rather seemed to draw his knowledge from his own stores, than to owe it to any foreign aslistance.
The brightness of his parts, the folidity of his judgement, and the candour and generosity of his temper, distinguished him in an age of great politeness, and at a court abounding with men of the finest sense and learning. The most eminent masters in their several ways appealed to his determination. Waller thought it an honour to consult him in the softness and harmony of his verse: and Dr. Sprat, in the delicacy and turn of his prose. Dryden determines by him, under the character of Eugenius, as to the laws of dramatick poetry. Butler owed it to him, that the Court tafted his
Hudibras : Wycherley, that the Town liked his Plain Dealer : and the late duke of Buckingham deferred to publish his Rehearsal, till he was sure (as he expressed it) that my
lord Dorser would not rehearse upon him again. If we wanted a foreign testimony; La Fontaine and St. Evreinond have acknowledged, that he was a perfect master in the beauty and fineness of their language, and of all that they call les Belles Letres. Nor was this nicety of his judgement confined only to books and literature ; but was the same in statuary, painting, and all other
of art. Bermini would have taken his opinion upon the beauty and attitude of a figure; and king Charles did not agree with Lely, that my lady Cleveland's picture was finished, till it had the approbation of my lord Buckhurst.
As the judgement which he made of others writings could not be refuted, the manner in which he wrote will hardly ever be equalled. Every one of his pieces is an ingot of gold, intrinsically and folidly valuable; such as, wrought or beaten thinner, would shine through a whole book of any other author. His thought was always new; and the expression of it so particularly happy, that every body knew immediately it could only be my lord Dorset's : and yet it was so easy too, that every body was ready to imagine himself capable of writing it. There is a luftre in his verses, like that of the sun in Claude Lorrain's landskips: it looks natural, and is inimitable. His love-verses have a mixture of delicacy and strength : they convey the wit of Petronius in the fofiness of Tibullus. His fatire indeed
is so severely pointed, that in it he appears, what his great
friend the earl of Rochester (that other prodigy of the age) says he was,
“ The best good man, with the worf-natur'd muse:" yet even here, that character may justly be applied to him, which Persius gives of the best writer of this kind that ever lived,
« Omne vafer vitium ridenti Flaccus amico
* Tangit, & admissus circum præcordia ludit :" and the gentleman had always so much the better of the satirist, that the persons touched did not know where to fix their resentments; and were forced to appear rather ashamed than angry.
Yet fo far was this great author from valuing himself upon his works, that he cared not what became of them, though every body else did. There are many things of his not extant in writing, which however are always repeated : like the verses and sayings of the antient Druids, they retain an universal veneration, though they are preserved only by memory.
As it is often seen, that those men who are least qualified for business love it most; my lord Dorset's character was, that he certainly understood it, but did not
care for it.
Coming very young to the possession of two plentiful estates, and in an age when pleasure was more in fashion than business, he turned his parts rather to books and conversation, than to politicks and what more imme, diately related to the publick. But, whenever the safety