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card again ; and yet, strange to say, went back to the table and lost still more : yet he repented of his errors, sobered down, and became a worthy peer and a good country gentleman, and returned to the good wife and the good children whom he had always loved with the best part of his heart. He had married at one-and-twenty. He found himself, in the midst of a dissolute society, at the head of a great fortune. Forced into luxury, and obliged to be a great lord and a great idler, he yielded to some temptations, and paid for them a bitter penalty of manly remorse ; from some others he fled wisely, and ended by conquering them nobly. But he always had the good wife and children in his mind, and they saved him. “I am very glad you did not come to me the morning I left London," he writes to G. Selwyn, as he is embarking for America. “I can only say, I never knew till that moment of parting, what grief was." There is no parting now, where they are. The faithful wife, the kind, generous gentleman, have left a noble race behind them: an inheritor of his name and titles, who is beloved as widely as he is known ; a man most kind, accomplished, gentle, friendly, and pure; and female descendants occupying high stations and embellishing great names; some renowned for beauty, and all for spotless lives, and pious matronly virtues.
Another of Selwyn's correspondents is the Earl of March, afterwards Duke of Queensberry, whose life lasted into this century; and who certainly as earl or duke, young man or greybeard, was not an ornament to any possible society. The legends about old Q. are awful. In Selwyn, in Wraxall, and contemporary chronicles, the observer of human nature may follow him, drinking, gambling, intriguing to the end of his career; when the wrinkled, palsied, toothless old Don Juan died, as wicked and unrepentant as he had been at the hottest season of youth and passion. There is a house in Piccadilly, where they used to show a certain low window at which old Q. sat to his very last days, ogling through his senile glasses the women as they passed by.
There must have been a great deal of good about this lazy, for you!
sleepy George Selwyn, which, no doubt, is set to his present credit. “Your friendship," writes Carlisle to him, “is so different from anything I have ever met with or seen in the world, that when I recollect the extraordinary proofs of your kindness, it seems to me like a dream.” “I have lost my oldest friend and acquaintance, G. Selwyn," writes Walpole to Miss Berry : "I really loved him, not only for his infinite wit, but for a thousand good qualities.” I am glad, for my part, that such a lover of cakes and ale should have had a thousand good qualities—that he should have been friendly, generous, warm-hearted, trustworthy. “I rise at six," writes Carlisle to him, from Spa (a great resort of fashionable people in our ancestors' days), “play at cricket till dinner, and dance in the evening, till I can scarcely crawl to bed at eleven. There is a life
You get up at nine; play with Raton your dog till twelve, in your dressing-gown; then creep down to “White's ;” are five hours at table ; sleep till supper-time ; and then make two wretches carry you in a sedan-chair, with three pints of claret in you, three miles for a shilling." Occasionally, instead of sleeping at “White's,” George went down and snoozed in the House of Commons by the side of Lord North. He represented Gloucester for many years, and had a borough of his own, Ludgershall, for which, when he was too lazy to contest Gloucester, he sat himself. “I have given directions for the election of Ludgershall to be of Lord Melbourne and myself," he writes to the Premier, whose friend he was, and who was himself as sleepy, as witty, and as good-natured as George.
If, in looking at the lives of princes, courtiers, men of rank and fashion, we must perforce depict them as idle, profligate, and criminal, we must make allowances for the rich men's failings, and recollect that we, too, were very likely indolent and voluptuous, had we no motive for work, a mortal's natural taste for pleasure, and the daily temptation of a large income. What could a great peer, with a great castle and park, and a great fortune, do but be splendid and idle? In these letters of Lord Carlisle's from which I have been quoting, there is many a just complaint made by the kind-hearted young nobleman of the state which he is obliged to keep; the magnificence in which he must live; the idleness to which his position as a peer of England bound him. Better for him had he been a lawyer at his desk, or a clerk in his office ;-a thousand times better chance for happiness, education, employment, security from temptation. A few years since the profession of arms was the only one which our nobles could follow. The church, the bar, medicine, literature, the arts, commerce, were below them. It is to the middle class we must look for the safety of England : the working educated men, away from Lord North's bribery in the senate; the good clergy not corrupted into parasites by hopes of preferment ; the tradesmen rising into manly opulence ; the painters pursuing their gentle calling : the men of letters in their quiet studies; these are the men whom we love and like to read of in the last age. How small the grandees and the men of pleasure look beside them ! how contemptible the story of the George III. court squabbles are beside the recorded talk of dear old Johnson! What is the grandest entertainment at Windsor, compared to a night at the club over its modest cups, with Percy and Langton, and Goldsmith, and poor Bozzy at the table? I declare I think, of all the polite men of that age, Joshua Reynolds was the finest gentleman. And they were good, as well as witty and wise, those dear old friends of the past. Their minds were not debauched by excess, or effeminate with luxury. They toiled their noble day's labour : they rested, and took their kindly pleasure: they cheered their holiday meetings with generous wit and hearty interchange of thought : they were no prudes, but no blush need follow their conversation : they were merry, but no riot came out of their cups. Ah! I would have liked a night at the “ Turk’s Head,” even though bad news had arrived from the colonies, and Doctor Johnson was growling against the rebels ; to have sat with him and Goldy; and to have heard Burke, the finest talker in the world; and to have had Garrick flashing in with a story from his theatre !—I like, I say, to think of that society; and not merely how pleasant and how wise, but how good they were. I think it was on going home one night from the club that Edmund Burkehis noble soul full of great thoughts, be sure, for they never left him ; his heart full of gentleness---was accosted by a poor wandering woman, to whom he spoke words of kindness; and moved by the tears of this Magdalen, perhaps having caused them by the good words he spoke to her, he took her home to the house of his wife and children, and never left her until he had found the means of restoring her to honesty and labour. O you fine gentlemen! you Marches, and Selwyns, and Chesterfields, how small you look by the side of these great men ! Good-natured Carlisle plays at cricket all day, and dances in the evening “ till he can scarcely crawl,” gaily contrasting his superior virtue with George Selwyn's, “carried to bed by two wretches at midnight with three pints of claret in him.” Do you remember the verses--the sacred verses—which Johnson wrote on the death of his humble friend, Levett?
Whose name looks the brightest now, that of Queensberry the wealthy duke, or Selwyn the wit, or Levett the poor physician?
I hold old Johnson (and shall we not pardon James Boswell
some errors for embalming him for us ?).to be the great supporter of the British monarchy and church during the last age—better than whole benches of bishops, better than Pitts, Norths, and the great Burke himself. Johnson had the ear of the nation : his immense authority reconciled it to loyalty, and shamed it out of irreligion. When George III. talked with him, and the people heard the great author's good opinion of the sovereign, whole generations rallied to the King. Johnson was revered as a sort of oracle ; and the oracle declared for church and king. What a humanity the old man had! He was, a kindly partaker of all honest pleasures : a fierce foe to all sin, but a gentle enemy to all sinners. “What, boys, are you for a frolic ?” he cries, when Topham Beauclerc comes and wakes him up at midnight: “I'm with you.” And away he goes, tumbles on his homely old clothes, and trundles through Covent Garden with the young fellows. When he used to frequent Garrick's theatre, and had “the liberty of the scenes,” he says, “ All the actresses knew me, and dropped me a curtsey as they passed to the stage.” That would make a pretty picture: it is a pretty picture in my mind, of youth, folly, gaiety, tenderly surveyed by wisdom's merciful, pure eyes.
George III. and his Queen lived in a very unpretending but elegant-looking house, on the site of the hideous pile under which his granddaughter at present reposes. The King's mother inhabited Carlton House, which contemporary prints represent with a perfect paradise of a garden, with trim lawns, green arcades, and vistas of classic statues. She admired these in company with my Lord Bute, who had a fine classic taste, and sometimes counsel took and sometimes tea in the pleasant green arbours along with that polite nobleman. Bute was hated with a rage of which there have been few examples in English history. He was the butt for everybody's abuse ; for Wilkes's devilish mischief ; for Churchill's slashing satire ; for the hooting of the mob that roasted the boot, his emblem, in a thousand bonfires; that hated him because he was a favourite and a Scotchman, calling him “Mortimer,” “ Lothario," I know not what names, and accusing his royal mistress of all sorts of crimes—the grave,