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plation of immemorial antiquity and to the Humble Petition and Advice, by immovable stability. Accustomed, on the Long Parliament again, by a third the other hand, to see change after Council of Officers, by the Long Parchange welcomed with eager hope and liament a third time, by the Convenending in disappointment, to see shame tion, and by the King. In such times, and confusion of face follow the ex- consistency is so inconvenient to a man travagant hopes and predictions of who affects it, and to all who are conrash and fanatical innovators, they had nected with him, that it ceases to be learned to look on professions of public regarded as a virtue, and is considered spirit, and on schemes of reform, with as impracticable obstinacy and idle distrust and contempt. They some- scrupulosity. Indeed, in such times, times talked the language of devoted a good citizen may be bound in duty subjects, sometimes that of ardent to serve a succession of Governments. lovers of their country. But their Blake did so in one profession, and secret creed seems to have been, that Hale in another; and the conduct of loyalty was one great delusion and pa- both has been approved by posterity. triotism another. If they really enter- But it is clear that when inconsistency tained any predilection for the mo- with respect to the most important narchical or for the popular part of the public questions has ceased to be a reconstitution, for episcopacy or for pres- proach, inconsistency with respect to byterianism, that predilection was fee- questions of minor importance is not ble and languid, and instead of over- likely to be regarded as dishonourable. coming, as in the times of their fathers, In a country in which many very hothe dread of exile, confiscation, and nest people had, within the space of a death, was rarely of power to resist few months, supported the government the slightest impulse of selfish ambition of the Protector, that of the Rump, or of selfish fear. Such was the texture and that of the King, a man was not of the presbyterianism of Lauderdale, likely to be ashamed of abandoning his and of the speculative republicanism party for a place, or of voting for a bill of Halifax. The sense of political which he had opposed. honour seemed to be extinct. With The public men of the times which the great mass of mankind, the test of followed the Restoration were by no integrity in a public man is consistency. means deficient in courage or ability; This test, though very defective, is and some kinds of talent appear to perhaps the best that any, except have been developed amongst them to very acute or very near observers a remarkable, we might almost say, are capable of applying ; and does to a morbid and unnatural degree. undoubtedly enable the people to Neither Theramenes in ancient, nor form an estimate of the characters Talleyrand in modern times, had a of the great, which on the whole finer perception of all the peculiarities approximates to correctness. But of character, and of all the indications during the latter part of the seven- of coming change, than some of our teenth century, inconsistency had ne- countrymen in that age. Their power cessarily ceased to be a disgrace; and of reading things of high import, in a man was no more taunted with it, signs which to others were invisible or than he is taunted with being black at unintelligible, resembled magic. But Timbuctoo. Nobody was ashamed of the curse of Reuben was upon them avowing what was common between all : “ Unstable as water, thou shalt not him and the whole nation. In the excel.” short space of about seven years, the This character is susceptible of insupreme power had been held by the numerable modifications, according to Long Parliament, by a Council of the innumerable varieties of intellect Officers, by Barebones' Parliament, by and temper in which it may be found. a Council of Officers again, by a Pro- Men of unquiet minds and violent amtector according to the Instrument of bition followed a fearfully eccentric Government, by a Protector according course, darted wildly from one extreme to another, served and betrayed all | an influence in the state scarcely in. parties in turn, showed their unblush- ferior to that which, in widely different ing foreheads alternately in the van of times, and by widely different arts, the the most corrupt administrations and house of Neville attained in England, of the most factious oppositions, were and that of Douglas in Scotland. privy to the most guilty mysteries, first During the latter years of George the of the Cabal, and then of the Rye- Second, and through the whole reign House Plot, abjured their religion to of George the Third, members of that win their sovereign's favour while they widely spread and powerful connection were secretly planning his overthrow, were almost constantly at the head shrived themselves to Jesuits, with either of the Government or of the letters in cypher from the Prince of Opposition. There were times when Orange in their pockets, corresponded the cousinhood, as it was once nickwith the Hague whilst in office under named, would of itself have furnished James, and began to correspond with almost all the materials necessary for St. Germain's as soon as they had the construction of an efficient Cabinet. kissed hands for office under William. Within the space of fifty years, three But Temple was not one of these. He First Lords of the Treasury, three Sewas not destitute of ambition. But cretaries of State, two Keepers of the his was not one of those souls in which Privy Seal, and four First Lords of unsatisfied ambition anticipates the tor- the Admiralty were appointed from tures of hell, gnaws like the worm among the sons and grandsons of the which dieth not, and burns like the Countess Temple. fire which is not quenched. His prin | So splendid have been the fortunes ciple was to make sure of safety and of the main stock of the Temple comfort, and to let greatness come if family, continued by female succession. it would. It came: he enjoyed it: and, William Temple, the first of the line in the very first moment in which it who attained to any great historical could no longer be enjoyed without eminence, was of a younger branch. danger and vexation, he contentedly His father, Sir John Temple, was let it go. He was not exempt, we Master of the Rolls in Ireland, and think, from the prevailing political im distinguished himself among the Privy morality. His mind took the conta- Councillors of that kingdom by the gion, but took it ad modum recipientis, zeal with which, at the commencement in a form so mild that an undiscerning of the struggle between the Crown judge might doubt whether it were in and the Long Parliament, he supdeed the same fierce pestilence that ported the popular cause. He was arwas raging all around. The malady rested by order of the Duke of Orpartook of the constitutional languor mond, but regained his liberty by an of the patient. The general corruption, exchange, repaired to England, and mitigated by his calm and unadven- there sate in the House of Commons turous temperament, showed itself in as burgess for Chichester. He attached omissions and desertions, not in posi- himself to the Presbyterian party, and tive crimes; and his inactivity, though was one of those moderate members sometimes timorous and selfish, be- who, at the close of the year 1648, comes respectable when compared with voted for treating with Charles on the the malevolent and perfidious restless- basis to which that Prince had himself ness of Shaftesbury and Sunderland. agreed, and who were, in consequence,
Temple sprang from a family which, turned out of the House, with small though ancient and honourable, had, ceremony, by Colonel Pride. Sir John before his time, been scarcely men- seems, however, to have made his peace tioned in our history, but which, long with the victorious Independents; for, after his death, produced so many emi- in 1653, he resumed his office in nent men, and formed such distin- Ireland. guished alliances, that it exercised, in Sir John Temple was married to a a regular and constitutional manner, sister of the celebrated Henry Hammond, a learned and pious divine, who on religious subjects seem to have been took the side of the King with very such as might be expected from a young conspicuous zeal during the civil war, man of quick parts, who had received and was deprived of his preferment in a rambling education, who had not the church after the victory of the Par- thought deeply, who had been disliament. On account of the loss which gusted by the morose austerity of the Hammond sustained on this occasion, Paritans, and who, surrounded from he has the honour of being designated, childhood by the hubbub of conflicting in the cant of that new brood of Oxo-sects, might easily learn to feel an imnian sectaries who unite the worst parts partial contempt for them all. of the Jesuit to the worst parts of the On his road to France he fell in with Orangeman, as Hammond, Presbyter, the son and daughter of Sir Peter OsDoctor, and Confessor.
borne. Sir Peter held Guernsey for William Temple, Sir John's eldest the King, and the young people were, son, was born in London in the year like their father, warm for the royal 1628. He received his early education cause. At an inn where they stopped under his maternal uncle, was subse- in the Isle of Wight, the brother amused quently sent to school at Bishop-Stort himself with inscribing on the windows ford, and, at seventeen, began to reside his opinion of the ruling powers. For at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, this instance of malignancy the whole where the celebrated Cudworth was party were arrested, and brought before his tutor. The times were not favour- the governor. The sister, trusting to able to study. The Civil War dis- the tenderness which, even in those turbed even the quiet cloisters and troubled tinies, scarcely any gentleman bowling-greens of Cambridge, pro- of any party ever failed to show where duced violent revolutions in the go- a woman was concerned, took the crime vernment and discipline of the col- on herself, and was immediately set at leges, and unsettled the minds of the liberty with her fellow-travellers. students. Temple forgot at Emma- This incident, as was natural, made nuel all the little Greek which he had a deep impression on Temple. He was brought from Bishop-Stortford, and only twenty. Dorothy Osborne was never retrieved the loss; a circum- twenty-one. She is said to have been stance which would hardly be worth handsome; and there remains abundant noticing but for the almost incredible proof that she possessed an ample share fact that, fifty years later, he was so of the dexterity, the vivacity, and the absurd as to set up his own authority tenderness of her sex. Temple soon against that of Bentley on questions of became, in the phrase of that time, her Greek history and philology. He servant, and she returned his regard. made no proficiency either in the old But difficulties, as great as ever exphilosophy which still lingered in the panded a novel to the fifth volume, schools of Cambridge, or in the new opposed their wishes. When the courtphilosophy of which Lord Bacon was ship commenced, the father of the hero the founder. But to the end of his was sitting in the Long Parliament; life he continued to speak of the former the father of the heroine was commandwith ignorant admiration, and of the ing in Guernsey for King Charles. latter with equally ignorant contempt. Even when the war ended, and Sir
After residing at Cambridge two Peter Osborne returned to his seat at years, he departed without taking a Chicksands, the prospects of the lovers degree, and set out upon his travels. were scarcely less gloomy. Sir John He seems to have been then a lively, Temple had a more advantageous agreeable young man of fashion, not alliance in view for his son. Dorothy by any means deeply read, but versed Osborne was in the mean time besieged in all the superficial accomplishments by as many suitors as were drawn to of a gentleman, and acceptable in all Belmont by the fame of Portia. The polite societies. In politics he pro- most distinguished on the list was fessed himself a Royalist. His opinions Henry Cromwell. Destitute of the
capacity, the energy, the magnanimity, an old and experienced statesman, has of his illustrious father, destitute also a somewhat ungraceful appearance in of the meek and placid virtues of his youth, might easily appear shocking to elder brother, this young man was a family who were ready to fight or to perhaps a more formidable rival in love suffer martyrdom for their exiled King than either of them would have been. and their persecuted church. The poor Mrs. Hutchinson, speaking the senti- girl was exceedingly hurt and irritated ments of the grave and aged, describes by these imputations on her lover, him as an “insolent foole," and a “de- defended him warmly behind his bauched ungodly cavalier.” These ex-back, and addressed to himself some pressions probably mean that he was very tender and anxious admonitions, one who, among young and dissipated mingled with assurances of her confipeople, would pass for a fine gentleman. dence in his honour and virtue. On Dorothy was fond of dogs of larger one occasion she was most highly proand more formidable breed than those voked by the way in which one of her which lie on modern hearth-rugs; and brothers spoke of Temple. “We talked Henry Cromwell promised that the ourselves weary,” she says; "he rehighest functionaries at Dublin should nounced me, and I defied him.” be set to work to procure her a fine Near seven years did this arduous Irish greyhound. She seems to have wooing continue. We are not accufelt his attentions as very flattering, rately informed respecting Temple's though his father was then only Lord- movements during that time. But he General, and not yet Protector. Love, seems to have led a rambling life, however, triumphed over ambition, and sometimes on the Continent, sometimes the young lady appears never to have in Ireland, sometimes in London. He regretted her decision ; though, in a made himself master of the French and letter written just at the time when all Spanish languages, and amused himEngland was ringing with the news of self by writing essays and romances, the violent dissolution of the Long an employment which at least served Parliament, she could not refrain from the purpose of forming his style. The reminding Temple, with pardonable specimen which Mr. Courtenay has vanity, “how great she might have preserved of these early compositions been, if she had been so wise as to is by no means contemptible : indeed, have taken hold of the offer of H. C.” there is one passage on Like and Dis
Nor was it only the influence of like which could have been produced rivals that Temple had to dread. The only by a mind habituated carefully to relations of his mistress regarded him reflect on its own operations, and with personal dislike, and spoke of him which reminds us of the best things in as an unprincipled adventurer, without Montaigne. honour or religion, ready to render Temple appears to have kept up a service to any party for the sake of very active correspondence with his preferment. This is, indeed, a very mistress. His letters are lost, but hers distorted view of Temple's character. have been preserved; and many of them Yet a character, even in the most dis- appear in these volumes. Mr. Courtenay torted view taken of it by the most expresses some doubt whether his readangry and prejudiced minds, generally ers will think him justified in inserting retains something of its outline. No so large a number of these epistles. We caricaturist ever represented Mr. Pitt only wish that there were twice as as a Falstaff, or Mr. Fox as a skeleton; many. Very little indeed of the dinor did any libeller ever impute par- plomatic correspondence of that genesimony to Sheridan, or profusion to ration is so well worth reading. There Marlborough. It must be allowed that is a vile phrase of which bad historians the turn of mind which the eulogists of are exceedingly fond,“ the digrity of Temple have dignified with the appel. history.” One writei is in possession lation of philosophical indifference, and of some anecdotes which would illuswhich, however becoming it may be in trate most strikingly the operation of the Mississippi scheme on the manners of a rat may be an era in chemistry ; and morals of the Parisians. But he and an emperor may be poisoned by suppresses those anecdotes, because they such ordinary means, and with such are too low for the dignity of history. ordinary symptoms, that no scientific Another is strongly tempted to mention journal would notice the occurrence. some facts indicating the horrible state An action for a hundred thousand of the prisons of England two hundred pounds is in one sense a more momentyears ago. But he hardly thinks that ous affair than an action for fifty the sufferings of a dozen felons, pigging pounds. But it by no means follows together on bare bricks in a hole fifteen that the learned gentlemen who report. feet square, would form a subject suited the proceedings of the courts of law to the dignity of history. Another, ought to give a fuller account of an from respect for the dignity of history, action for a hundred thousand pounds, publishes an account of the reign of than of an action for fifty pounds. For George the Second, without ever men- a cause in which a large sum is at tioning Whitefield's preaching in Moor- stake may be important only to the fields. How should a writer, who can particular plaintiff and the particular talk about senates, and congresses of defendant. A cause, on the other hand, sovereigns, and pragmatic sanctions, in which a small sum is at stake, may and ravelines, and counterscarps, and establish some great principle interesting battles where ten thousand men are to half the families in the kingdom. killed, and six thousand men with fifty The case is exactly the same with that stand of colours and eighty guns taken, class of subjects of which historians stoop to the Stock-Exchange, to New- treat. To an Athenian, in the time of gate, to the theatre, to the tabernacle ? the Peloponnesian war, the result of
Tragedy has its dignity as well as the battle of Delium was far more imhistory; and how much the tragic art portant than the fate of the comedy of has owed to that dignity any man may The Knights. But to us the fact that judge who will compare the majestic the comedy of The Knights was brought Alexandrines in which the Seigneur on the Athenian stage with success is Oreste and Madame Andromaque utter far more important than the fact that their complaints, with the chattering of the Athenian phalanx gave way at the fool in Lear and of the nurse in Delium. Neither the one event nor Romeo and Juliet.
the other has now any intrinsic importThat a historian should not record ance. We are in no danger of being trifles, that he should confine himself speared by the Thebans. We are not to what is important, is perfectly true. quizzed in The Knights. To us the But many writers seem never to have importance of both events consists in considered on what the historical im- the value of the general truth which is portance of an event depends. They to be learned from them. What general seem not to be aware that the import- truth do we learn from the accounts ance of a fact, when that fact is con- which have come down to us of the sidered with reference to its immediate battle of Delium ? Very little more effects, and the importance of the same than this, that when two armies fight, fact, when that fact is considered as it is not improbable that one of them part of the materials for the construc- will be very soundly beaten, a truth tion of a science, are two very different which it would not, we apprehend, be things. The quantity of good or evil difficult to establish, even if all memory which a transaction produces is by no of the battle of Delium were lost among means necessarily proportioned to the men. But a man who becomes acquantity of light which that transaction quainted with the comedy of The affords, as to the way in which good or Knights, and with the history of that evil may hereafter be produced. The comedy, at once feels his mind enpoisoning of an emperor is in one sense larged. Society is presented to him à far more serious matter than the under a new aspect. He may have read poisoning of a rat. But the poisoning and travelled much. He may have