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“ Not only a love of study, and a desire of knowledge, must have grown up with us; but such an industrious application likewise, as requires the whole vigour of the mind to be exerted in the pursuit of truth through long trains of ideas and all those dark recesses wherein man, not God, has hid it.
“ This love, and this desire, I have felt all my life; and I am not quite a stranger to this industry and application. There has been something always ready to whisper in my ear, while I ran the course of pleasure and business, Solve senescentem mature sanus equum. But my genius, unlike the demon of Socrates, whispered so softly, that very often I heard him not in the hurry of those passions by which I was transported. Some calmer hours there were: in them I hearkened to him. Reflexion had often it's turn; and the love of study, and the desire of knowledge, have never quite abandoned me. I am not, therefore, entirely unprepared for the life I will lead; and it is not without reason, that I promise myself more satisfaction in the latter part of it, than I ever knew in the former.”
Upon the death of his father in 1742, he returned to England, and settling at Battersea (the ancient seat of his family) passed the remainder of his days in retirement.
After the conclusion of the war in 1748, the measures taken in the administration seem to have been less repugnant to his notions of political prudence. What these were, may be partly inferred from his reflexions written in 1749, · On the present State of the Nation, principally with regard to her Taxes and Debts, and on the Causes and Consequences of them.'. His last work published during his life was,
• Letters on the Spirit of Patriotism, and the Idea of a Patriot King,' 1749; at which period, the prospect of the succession of a Prince, indebted to no party for his crown, seemed to him a proper opportunity for inculcating the noble lesson of governing upon pure patriotic principles.
This undertaking was left unfinished, nor did he long survive it. He had often wished to breathe his last at Battersea; an event, which happened to him November 15, 1751, on the verge of fourscore.* His remains were interred, with those of his ancestors, in the parish-church at that place; and a marble monument was erected to his memory, with the following inscription :
And Viscount BOLINGBROKE.
And King George II.;
His attachment to Queen Anne
He bore it with firmness of mind :
The friend of no faction;
By zeal to maintain the liberty
Of Great Britain. As he left no children, and survived all his brothers, the estate and honour descended to his nephew, whom he constituted likewise his testamentary heir.
* His second wife died some years before him.
The political character of Lord Bolingbroke is sufficiently elucidated by the history of his life. It was, manifestly, that of a confident and ambitious man, who could ill brook a superior; and was little scrupulous in the pursuit of power, or the gratification of resentment. As a conspicuous figure in the literary annals of his time, he demands a more particular consideration. It is agreed, that among the prose-writers of his age (indeed, of any age of English literature) scarcely any one, can be found, who has united more excellences of stile; his elegance, perspicuity, and strength being accompanied with a graceful ease rarely to be met with in those, who have not been conversant with business and the world. When he appears as the correspondent of Swift and Pope amidst a constellation of wits, he is distinguished by a polished freedom and air of good company, which constitute the perfection of epistolary writing; and, in his more elaborate compositions, he is equally free from the marks of effort or constraint. “Whatever subject (says Lord Chesterfield) he either speaks or writes upon, he adorns with the most splendid eloquence; not a studied or laboured eloquence, but a flowing happiness of diction, which is become so habitual to him, that even his most familiar conversations would bear the press without the least correction as to method or stile."
With respect to the matter of his writings, those on political subjects are in a great measure of temporary interest, and tinged with his own particular views; but the • Letters on History, and those on · Patriotism, are of more general import. In the opinion of some critics, however, they are rather superficial and decla
matory, than solid and profound. As a philosophical moralist, his sentiments are displayed with great brilliancy in Pope's . Essay on Man,' of which celebrated poem the plan and design are avowedly his; and some of the finest illustrations, which are most admired in their poetical dress, have been found sketched by him in prose. To Pope he was, indeed, for many years, a “guide, philosopher, and friend;" the object of his highest admiration, and warmest attachment; nor is there a more finished passage in all that poet's works, than the encomiastic address to St. John, which concludes the Essay.
The care and advantage of his manuscripts he bequeathed to Mallett, who published one volume 8vo. in 1753, and four more in the following year; in which the trustee consulted his own profit rather than his noble benefactor's reputation, if we may argue from a presentment of these works by the Grand Jury of Westminster, in 1754, 'as tending, in the general scope of several pieces therein contained, as well as many particular expressions which had been laid before them, to the subversion of religion, government, and morality; and being, also, against his majesty's peace.' His writings, however, met with a still more effectual and appropriate refu
* The wild and pernicious ravings under the name of Philosophy,' which were thus ushered into the world, gave great offence to all well-principled men. Johnson hearing of their tendency, which nobody disputed, was roused with a just indignation, and pronounced this memorable sentence upon the author and his editor : “ Sir, he was a scoundrel and a coward: a scoundrel, for charging a blunderbuss against religion and morality; a coward, because he had not resolution to fire it off himself, but left half a crown to a beggarly Scotchman to draw the trigger after his death." (Boswell's Life of Johnson.')
tation from the public, who justly appear to have paid them very little attention.*
* Warburton to Hurd, 1751. "I believe I have lost an enemy in Lord Bolingbroke. I am sure, Religion and the State has. I question whether we shall see any of his MSS. His * Apology for his Public Conduct, which I have seen, affects too many parties to see the light; and his “ Apology for his private Opinions' would shock the people too much, dissolute as they are now grown. His · Letters concerning the Use of reading History' (the best of his works, as his · Patriot King' I think is the worst) I suppose we shall see, because there are printed copies in several hands. It is in two volumes, 8vo. It was this work, which occasioned his aversion to me. There is a dissertation in it against the Canon of Scripture, which I told Mr. Pope was full of absurdities and false reasoning, and would discredit the work: and, at his desire, I drew up a paper of Remarks upon it, which Lord Bolingbroke never forgave. He wrote an answer to it in great wrath and much acrimony; but, by the persuasion of a great man, suppressed it.”