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his feelings are sensitive, his spirit is easily depressed ; and if a moralizer upon the vanities of life, his ambition may be quickly damped. While thus overcome, he may think of exertions he has planned, but the idea will be accompanied with a sense of weight which he may easily suppose too great to be shaken off, because circumstances have never forced him to try the experiment. As habit becomes nature, so this disposition may grow confirmed, until at last the mind will not resign the mastery it has obtained over the man, and be diverted.
MONTAGUE, EARL OF HALIFAX, K.B.
In the north aisle of Henry the VIIth's. chapel, in Westminster Abbey, is a monument to the memory of George Montague, Earl of Halifax, who derives title to particular notice from the place he is allowed to hold amongst the British poets. The monument consists only of a tall pyramid, supported by bronze griffins, on a pedestal : to the former is attached a coat of arms, which is also in bronze.*
* Close by is a bust and pedestal to the memory of Sir George Saville, Marquis of Halifax, who died on the 5th of April, 1695. He was succes sively created Baron Eland, Viscount, Earl, and Marquis of Halifax, and held the office of Lord Privy Seal, at intervals, during the reigns of Charles the Ist. and I Ind. James the IInd. and William the Il Ird.
There is also another nobleman, bearing the title of Halifax, George Montague Dunk, commemorated in Westminster Abbcy. He was nephew to the subject of this sketch, and has been already mentioned in the course of the work as the patron of Cumberland. His monument stands in the north cross aisle of the Abbey, and presents a bust, which has been praised for the fidelity of the likeness, supported by two emblematical urchins, of whom the one, upholding a mirror, and treading on a mask, indicates Truth; the other, offering the insignia of the Garter, represents Honour. The ledge of the pedestal is enriched with devices, and the following is a copy of the inscription :
Sacred be the Monument which here is raised by gratitude and respect,
To perpetuate the memory of
Whose Allegiance, Integrity, and Abilities
George the 111rd. ..
Charles, the son of the Hon. William Montague, and grandson of the Earl of Manchester, was born on the 16th of April, 1661, at Horton, his father's seat, in Northamptonshire. He received the first rudiments of instruction in the country, and, in 1677, was removed to Westminster school, where he obtained a King's Scholarship, and attracted the favourable notice of Doctor Busby by his aptitude in the composition of extemporaneous epigrams. Repairing to Oxford, in 1682, he had the good fortune to be placed as a fellow.commoner under his relation, Dr. Montague, who extended a particular care over his general conduct, as well as studies, and contributed greatly to make him a worthy companion for the great Sir Isaac Newton, with whom
In the year 1745, (an early period of his Life)
He raised and commanded a Regiment
In which Department
As to be styled “Father of the Colonies.”
The First Lord of the Admiralty,
Principal Secretary of State,
and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
He was afterwards appointed Lord Privy Seal;
Principal Secretary of State,
His worth in private Life was eminent and extensive,
Which were borne him living,
Among many Instances of his liberal Spirit, one deserves to be distinc:ly
During his Residence in Ireland,
he now became acquainted, and continued intimate until death severed them asunder. He prosecuted his classical pursuits at the University until he had reached the age of two and twenty, and when at last he began to think of a profession, was for some time inclined to take orders. This purpose; however, was not long cherished, for he left Oxford in 1685 ; married the Countess Dowager of Manchester about the same time, and entered upon the list of political aspirants, by purchasing one of the clerkships of the council for 15001. .
Henceforward he was the associate of wits and the companion of poets, with whom he competed upon several public occasions. His introduction to them, and his arrival in town, were both occasioned by the kindness of the Earl of Dorset, who thought so highly of his maiden production—a poem on the death of Charles the II. that he immediately tendered him the advantages of his friendship. This was in 1685; in 1687 he joined Prior in writing the fable of “The Town and Country Mouse,' a most inept but popular burlesque upon Dryden's • Hind and Panther.' To distinguish between the merit of Montague and Prior in this common labour is impossible, because no one has known what part of the whole was separately produced. As it was said to be the work of both, both shared alike the credit it obtained, although, perhaps, the critic will be disposed to award the larger portion of the composition, and consequently of praise, to Prior. That it was polished by him, the melody of the numbers seems to attest; indeed, it is difficult to conceive how two persons could have joined in one effusion, otherwise than by one of them having sketched the idea and rough copy, and the other having then worked out the beauties of it, and coinpleted the design.
The battle of the Boyne offered Montague, in common with the rest of the court poets, a subject for his muse; and it was to the merit of his verscs upon that subject, he owed the honour of a first introduction to King Willians, although he was of the number of those who sat in the convention which resolved to invite him to the country, and also one of those who signed the address upon the strength of which he then acted. · He was presented by his first friend, the Earl of Dorset, who is said to have observed to the Monarch, in allusion to the joint fable, upon
the occasion—" Sire, I have brought a mouse to wait upon your Majesty.” To which the King answered with promptitude “ Then you do well to put me in the way of making a man of him;" and immediately gave the fabulist a pension of 500l. a year.
In the year 1691 he took his seat for the first time in the House of Commons, and henceforward his conduct belongs more to the general entertainment of history, than the particular interest of these pages. For the scope of our plan, ample though it be, chiefly regards a notice of those men who were supereminent in their stations, or professions; and above all t'at portion of their lives by which they mainly earned tarir elevation. Now the political exertions of Charles, Earl of Halifax, had nothing in them to raise him above the level of most statesmen. In this capacity he will be found to have possessed those qualities without which no man can succeed in the career: prompt, active, and discerning : for the age in which he figured a very skilful financier; powerful in strengthening the pretensions of his own party, and pointed in disconifiting the measures of his opponents; he was caressed when in office, and respected when out of it. The first question which he conspicuously advocated was that just and iiberal one which proposed to extend to prisoners arraigned for high treason the benefit of counsel. The measure was carried with a very good grace, considering the circumstances of the period; and the discussion was marked by a very happy turn, in which Montague exemplified its propriety. In the midst of a very able speech in favour of the enactment, he became suddenly confused - lost the connexion of his ideas, and was for some moments unable to proceed. Recovering his self-possession, however, he very naturally observed, “that he stood before them a convincing proof how reasonable it was to allow counsel to men called as criminals before a court of justice, when it appeared how much the presence of that assembly could disconcert one of their own body."
After this period, he rose with great rapidity in honours, confi. dence, and office. First, he was appointed one of the Commissioners of the Treasury, next introduced to the Privy Council, and afterwards, in 1694, appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer. In this trust he did himself much bunour, and rendered the state