[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

thousand volumes of Manuscripts, in addition to about fourteen thousand five hundred charters and rolls. By him it was largely augmented in every department. He made his library most liberally accessible to scholars; and when, by a purchase made in Holland, he had acquired some leaves of one of the most precious biblical manuscripts in the world—leaves which had long before been stolen from the Royal Library at Paris—he sent them back to their proper repository in a manner so obliging as made it apparent that his sense of the duties of collectorship was as keen as was his sense of its delights. At his death, on the 16th of June, 1741, the volumes of manuscripts had increased to nearly eight thousand. The printed books were estimated at about fifty thousand volumes, exclusive of an unexampled series of pamphlets, amounting to nearly 400,000, and comprising, like the manuscripls, materials for our national history of inestimable value.

The only daughter and heiress of the second Earl, Margaret, by her marriage with William, Duke of Portland, carried her share in a remnant of the fortunes of the several families of Cavendish, HoLLES,and Harley, into the family of Bentinck. The magnificent printed library which formed part of her inheritance was sold and dispersed. It was of that collection that Johnson said, ' It excels any library that was ever yet offered to sale in the value as well as in the number of the volumes which it contains.'

The Manuscripts were eventually purchased by Parliament for the sum of ten thousand pounds. With reference to this purchase the Duchess of Portland wrote as follows, in April, 1753, to the Speaker of the House of Commons:—' As soon as I was acquainted with the proposal you had made in the House of Commons, in relation to my Father's Collection of Manuscripts I informed my Mother [the then Dowager Countess of Oxford] of it, who Booii, 1ms given the Duke of Portland and me full power to do Thtcoltherein as we shall think fit. l,CT"R °'


'Though I am told the expense of collecting them was »*»"sa immense, and that, if they were to be dispersed, they would probably sell for a great deal of money, yet, as a sum has been named, and as I know it was my Father's and is my Mother's intention that they should be kept together, I vill not bargain with the Publick. I give you this trouble herefore to acquaint yon that I am ready to accept of your »roposal upon condition that this great and valuable Colsction shall be kept together in a proper repository, as an ddition to the Cotton Library, and be called by the name L f the Harleian Collection of Manuscripts.

'I hope you do me the justice to believe that I do not insider this as a sale for an adequate price. But your porti'»na°to lea is so right, and so agreeable to what I know was my ather's intention, that I have a particular satisfaction in Ms A(idit■■

r 17621, f. 30.

mtributing all I can to facilitate the success of it.' (b.m.j

If it were possible to give, in few words, any adequate ew of the obligations which English literature, and more penally English historical literature, owes to the Collectors

the Harleian Manuscripts, there could be no fitter conjsion to a biographical notice of Robert Harlet. Here, wever, no such estimate is practicable. Nor, in truth, 1 it be needed in order to convince the reader that ' some bute of veneration'—to use the apposite words which Hnson prefixed to the Harleian Catalogue—is due to the lour of the two Harleks for literature; and 'to that lcrous and exalted curiosity which they gratified with ussant searches and immense expense; and to which y dedicated that time and that superfluity of fortune B-wii. which many others, of their rank, employ in the pursuit of

THr'cL contemptible amusements or the gratification of guilty

mtuTM Passns-'

l.tU» M«S

Note To Chapter V.


1. [1717 P] A document which, could it be recovered, would go far towards clearing up some of the uncertainties which exist as to Lord Oxford's intercourse with the Pretender and his agents, subsequently to the death of Queen Anne, was seen by Sir James Mackintosh among the Stuart Papers acquired by George the Fourth. It was afterwards vainly searched for by Lord Mahon, when engaged upon his History of Ewjuimi, from tlie Peace of Utrecht. It is still known only from the ciirMory notes made by Mackintosh, and referred to by a writer in the Eilinhvri/h lUview in these words: 'During Oxford's confinement in the Tower there is a communication from him to the Pretender, preserved among tlio Stuart Papers, offering his services and advice; recommending tin: Bishop of Rochester as the fittest person to manage the Jacobite affairs,—the writer himself being in custody; and adding that

fillltl lift,,

»«i lull nw Ml'oii 1«1 never have thought it safe 'to engage again with His Majesty |i|> In, IV, if Bolingbrokc himself had been still about him.'

2. 1717. September 29. Bishop Attebbuby to Lord Mab :—

'Your accounts of what has been said here concerning some imaginary differences abroad have not so much foundation as you may suppose.

At hoist, if they have, I am a stranger to it The result of any

discourse I shall have with [the Earl of Oxford ?] will be sure to reach

Miinri y,m ''^ n"'iins- You will, I suppose, have a full account of affairs

/•«j>«r», 1717 here from his and other hands.'

:\. [1717 P] The same to the same.

'Distances and other accidents have, for some years, interrupted my correspondence with [the Earl of Oxford ?] but I am willing to renew it, and to enter into it upon a better foot than it has ever yet stood, being //w convinced that my so doing may be of no small consequence to the service. I have already taken the first step towards it that is proper in our situation, and will pursue that by others as fast as I can have opportunity; hoping that the secret will be as inviolably kept on your side as it shall be on this, so far as the nature of such a transaction between two persons who must see one another sometimes can pass unobserved.'

4. 1721. ' Among the same papers,' says the Reviewer quoted on the previous page, 'there is a letter from Mrs. Oglethorpe to the Pretender (Jan. 17, 1721), containing assurances from Lord Oxford of his eternal respect and good wishes, which from accidental circumstances he had BjIH Kbeen unable to convey in the usual manner.' as before

5. 1722. April 14. The Pretender [to Lord Oxford P]

'If you have not heard sooner or oftcner from me, it hath not, I can assure you, been my fault. Neither do I attribute to your's the long silence you have kept on your side, but to a chain of disappointments and difficulties which hath been also the only reason of my not finding all this while a method of couveying my thoughts to you, and receiving your advice, which I shall ever value as I ought, because I look upon you not only as an able lawyer but a sincere friend. This will, I hope, come soon to your hands, and the worthy friend by whose canal I send it will accompany it, by my directions, with all the lights and informa- stuart tion he or I can give, and which it is therefore useless to repeat here.' P«rm,n22.

6. 1722. April 16. The Pretender to Atterbtjry.

'I am sensible of the importance of secrecy in such an affair, yet I do not see how it will be possible to raise a sufficient sum, or to make a reasonable concert in England, without letting some more persons into the project. You on the place are best judge how these points are to i>e compassed, but I cannot but think that [the Earl of Oxford ?] might >e of great use on this occasion. [Lord Lansdowne?] is to write to him m the subject, and I am confident that if you two were to compare notes ogethcr you would be able to contrive and settle matters on a more iure and solid foundation than they have hitherto been.' Hid.

7. 1722. In a report made to the Earl of Mar by George Kelly, one f his emissaries employed in England, it is stated that on the delivery, y Kelly, of Mar's letter to Attcrbury, the prelate asked the messenger ? he had anything to say, in addition to the contents of the letter, and !iat be replied (in the jargon of his calling): 'It is a proposal for lining stocks with the Earl of Oxford, and taking the management of le Company's business into their hands.' Attcrbury, according to this ;ory, required a day's deliberation, and then told Kelly that he was •esolved to join both heart and hand with the Earl; and not only so,

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]

but in the management and course of the business he would shew him all the deference and respect that was due to a person who had so justly filled the stations which he had been in.' The Bishop, says Kelly, also added that he was ' resolved to dedicate the remainder of his days to the King's service, and proposed, by this reunion, to repay some part of the personal debt which he owed to the Earl of Oxford, to whom he would immediately write upon this subject.' The messenger goes on to assure Lord Mar that Atterbury ' is entirely of your opinion that there is not much good to be expected from the present managers, and thinks it no great vanity to say that the Earl of Oxford and himself are the fittest persons for this purpose; but the chief success of their partnership will depend upon the secrecy of it.'

Of the genuineness of the several letters,—of the credit due to the emissaries and their reports, — even of the accurate identification, in some instances, of the 'Mr. Hackets,' 'Houghtons,' and numerous other pseudonyms, under which 'Lord Oxford' is assumed to be veiled, there are, as yet, no adequate means of judging.

« ElőzőTovább »