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Correspond(net, in Works, by Scott.vol. xvi, pp. 232, 233.
Minister the strength of his best days. When Pope wrote of him, 'The utmost weight of ministerial power and popular hatred were almost worth bearing for the glory of so dauntless a conduct as he has shown under it,' the praise came from a pen which is known to have been employed, now and again, to flatter the great. But it was no flatterer who wrote to Oxford himself—'Your intrepid behaviour under this prosecution astonishes every one but me, wTho know you so well, and how little it is in the power of human actions or events to discompose you. I have seen your Lordship labouring under great difficulties and exposed to great dangers, and overcoming both, by the providence of God, and your own wisdom and courage.' Those words came from one of the shrewdest and most acute observers of human character that have ever lived. They were written after a close and daily intimacy of four eventful years. Oxford, in his day of power, had disappointed Swift of some cherished hopes, which now could never be renewed. The praise of Swift must have been sincere. When such a writer, at such a time, goes on to add—' You suffer for having preserved your country, and for having been the great instrument, under God, of his present Majesty's peaceable accession to the throne;—this I know, and this your enemies know '—the most prepossessed reader cannot but feel that the absence from the two and twenty articles of impeachment of any charge of plotting against the Hanover succession is alike intelligible and significant.
The Trial. When Oxford's imprisonment could be no longer protracted without a trial, the two Houses of Parliament were unable to agree as to the mode of proceeding. It was obvious on all sides that the charge of 'treason' would fail. The Lords declared that on the articles imputing treason judgment must be given, before the articles im- Booki, puting 'other high crimes and misdemeanours ' could be Thtcolcntered upon. They declared that the attempt of the ^etui-' Commons to mix up the two was 'a new and unjustifiable ieianmssproceeding.' The Commons refused to adduce evidence on ^fnalt the charge of treason, and to take the issue upon that.
p. 515, seqq.
On the first of July, 1717, the Earl was brought to the comment bar to hear from the Lord High Steward a declaration that vo"Tiii'. 'Robert, Earl of Oxford, is, by the unanimous vote of all the Lords present, acquitted of the articles of impeachment exhibited against him, by the House of Commons, for High ^'J"-^ Treason and other high crimes and misdemeanours, and that "nthe said impeachment shall be and is hereby dismissed.' Then the Steward said, 1 Lieutenant of the Tower, You are now to discharge your prisoner.'
On the third of July, the Earl resumed his seat as a peer °"08D'S
•* 1 HKTURN TO
)f Parliament. On the fourth, the Commons resolved to TM*House uldress the King, beseeching him 'to except Robert, 1717, Zarl of Oxford, out of the Act of Grace which Your Joly' Vlajesty has been graciously pleased to promise from the hrone, to the end the Commons may be at liberty to pro- 1°^rM^ eed against the said Earl in a parliamentary way/ No p uch proceeding, of course, was taken or intended.
For several years to come Lord Oxford took part, from me to time, in the business of Parliament. He served ften on Committees in these final years of his public life, 1st as he had done during his early years of apprenticeship 1 the Lower House. In the Lords, as in the Commons, 3 was listened to with especial deference on points of parlmentary law and privilege.
From time to time, also, the Jacobite agitators, both at )me and abroad, made repeated appeals to him, direct or Book I, Chap.V. Tiik ColLector or Tub Har
indirect, for countenance and help in their schemes. They had, it seems, a confident hope that the sufferings and the humiliation inflicted on him in the years 1715-1717 must have so entirely alienated him from the reigning House, as now, at all events, to have prepared him to be really their fellow-conspirator, on the first occurrence of a promising opportunity. How far the Earl listened to such suggestions and persuasions is still, it will be seen, matter of great and curious uncertainty.*
Lord Oxford's private life was not less chequered by rapid alternations of sunshine and of gloom than was his political career. In August, 1713, he gratified a cherished desire by the marriage of his son Edward, Lord Harley, with the Lady Henrietta Cavbndish Holles, daughter and heiress of John, Duke of Newcastle (who died in 1711). With what Lord Harley had already derived under the Duke's will, this marriage brought him an estate then worth sixteen thousand pounds a year, and destined to increase enormously in value. Three months afterwards the Earl lost a dearly loved daughter, the Marchioness of Caermarthen, who died at the age of twenty-eight. It was of her that Swift wrote to him—' I have sat down to think of every amiable quality that could enter into the composition of a lady, and could not single out one which she did not possess in as high a perfection as human nature is capable of. But as to your Lordship's own particular, as it is an unconceivable misfortune to have lost such a daughter, so it is a possession which few can boast of to
* The chief passages in the Stuart Correspondence upon which a confident assertion has been based of his ultimate complicity in the Jacobite conspiracies are given, textually, in a note at the end of this chapter.
have had such a daughter. I have often said to your Lord- Booki, ship that " I never knew any one by many degrees so happy Thtcolin their domestics as you;" and I affirm that you are so
still, though not by so many degrees You ,EIAN MSS
began to be too happy for a mortal ; much more happy ^VJ0 than is usual with the dispensations of Providence long to s«n«-.ms.
continue.' vol. xvi,
Under the sorrows both of public and of private life it was his wont to find a part of his habitual consolations in the use, as well as in the increase, of his splendid library. He ocgan the work of collection in youth, and to add to his reasures was one of the matters which, at intervals, occu)icd his latest thoughts.
Among the famous Englishmen whose manuscripts >assed, either wholly or partially, into the Harleian Library re to be counted Sir Thomas Smith ; John Fox, the maryrologist; John Stowe, the historian; Edward, Lord Ierbeut of Cherbury; and Archbishop Sancroft. imong famous foreigners, Augustus Lomenie De Briknne; 'eter Seguiek, Chancellor of France; and Gerard John ossius. Perhaps the most extensive of the prior collecons which it had absorbed, in mass, was the assemblage f manuscripts that had been gathered by Sir Symonds ''ewes, whose acquisitions included a rich series of the aterials of English history.
The inquiries which led to the purchase of the D'ewes' ollection were the occasion of making fully known to obert Harlet a model librarian in the person of Hum- nuM""<«
irey Wanley. The latter portion of Wanley's life was msEm, idly devoted to the service of the Harleian Library, and s employment there was a felicity, both for him and for it. is journal of the incidents which occurred during the owth of the collection given to his care is the most curious
Boo*i, document in its kind which is known to exist. That Thkcou- journal illustrates the literary history and the manners of Tire""TM ^ne time, not less amusingly than it exhibits the personal Imanmss. character of its writer, and the fidelity with which he worked at his task in life.
Wanley was the son of a country parson, little known to fame, but possessing some tincture of learning, and was born at Coventry, on the 21st of March, 1G73. In his youth he attracted the favourable notice of his father's diocesan, William Lloyd, Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry (and afterwards of Worcester), by whom he was sent to Edmund Hall at Oxford. That hall he soon exchanged for University College, on the persuasion of Dr. Arthur Charlktt, by whose influence he was afterwards made an Underkeeper of the Bodleian Library. He took no degree, but won some distinction, whilst at Oxford, by the services which he rendered to Dr. Mill in collating the text of the New Testament.
On leaving the University, Wanley went to London, where he became Secretary to the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge. He translated Ostervald's Grounds and Principles of the Christian Religion; and compiled a valuable Catalogue of the Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts preserved in the chief libraries of Great Britain. The last-named labour gave proof of much ability. It was a sample of the work for which its writer was best fitted.
As Speaker of the House of Commons, Harley took a considerable part in organizing the Cottonian Library, when it became a public institution under the Act of Parliament. Wanley proffered to the Speaker, on this occasion, some advice about the necessary arrangements; became well acquainted with Harley's bookishness, and saw how eagerly he would welcome opportunities for the improve