Page images

443 fecurity of the ftate against foreign attacks, might be employed against the liberties of the people as well as in their defence; as was fometimes the cafe, particularly in the inflances of Quintius's order to kill Mælius for not obeying his fummons, and Sylla's affumption of the office, without fixing any term of expiration. It was also a circumftance unfavourable to liberty, that this officer might be appointed by a fingle conful, agreeing with the fenate, without the concurrence, and against the will of the people. Another circumftance which contributed to the deftruction of the Roman republic, was the increasing power and the factious fpirit of the tribunes of the people. Having authority to accufe the nobles and bring them before the people, and to flop any decree of the fenate by a negative from any one of their number; and at laft obtaining a right of propofing any law to the people without the affent of the fenate, and of referring to them any bufinefs treated of in that house; it is no wonder that fuch powers were fometimes exerted in a manner which threatened general anarchy and confufion.

It is to be regretted that thefe judicious obfervations are left in an unfinished flate.

Our noble Author's hiftorical penetration farther appears in the additional Dialogues of the Dead. In the firft, between Cafar and Scipio, he contrafts the ambitious and afpiring fpirit of the former with the moderation and patriotifm of the latter; and fhows that the higheft praife due to Cæfar is, that his courage and talents were equal to the object his ambition afpired to, the empire of the world; and that he exercifed a fovereignty unjustly acquired with a magnanimous clemency. The fecond, between Plato and Diogenes, contrafts the rigid and stern philofopher, with the refined and courteous ftatesman. In the third, between Ariftides, Phocion, and Demofthenes, the different principles on which Phocion and Demofthenes formed fuch different judgments concerning the interefts of their country are inveftigated, and it is shown that the latter expected every thing fortunate from the union of the ftates of Greece; whereas the former thought the firength of Philip fo much fuperior to that of the Athenians, as to render it unfafe to contend with him. The fourth dialogue between Marcus Aurelius and Servius Tullius, feems principally intended to fhew the different effects of regal power, in a virtuous and in a corrupt state.

But it is time that we pass from the critic and hiftorian to the traveller, and take notice of fome of the principal incidents which his Lordfhip relates in his letters.

The following letter from Paris conveys a lively idea of the natural gaiety of the French nation.

[blocks in formation]

• Dear Sir, Paris, Sept. 8. Sunday by four o'clock we had the good news of a Dauphin, and fince that time I have thought myself in Bedlam. The natural gaiety of the nation is fo improved upon this occafion, that they are all stark mad with joy, and do nothing but dance and fing about the streets by hundreds, and by thoufands. The expreffions of their joy are admirable: one fellow gives notice to the public that he defigns to draw teeth for a week together upon the Pont Neuf gratis. The king is as proud of what he has done, as if he had gained a kingdom; and tells every body that he fees, qu'il faura bien faire des fils tant qu'il voudra. We are to have a fine firework to-morrow, his majefty being to fup in town.

The Duke of Orleans was fincerely, and without affectation, transported at the birth of the Dauphin.

The fucceffion was a burden too heavy for his indolence to fupport, and he piously fings hallelujah for his happy delivery from it. The good old cardinal cried for joy. It is very late, and I have not flept these three nights for the fquibs and crackers, and other noifes that the people make in the ftreets; fo must beg leave to conclude, with affuring, that I am, Dear Sir,

Your affectionate and dutiful fon, G. L.' The following extracts are taken from two letters to Mr. Bower, giving an account of a journey into Wales.

Ludlow is a fine handfome town, and has an old caftle, now in a neglected and ruinous ftate; but which, by its remains, appears to have been once a very ftrong fortrefs, and an habitation very fuitable to the power and dignity of the Lord Prefident of Wales, who refided there. Not far from this town is Oakley-park, belonging to Lord Powis, and part of that foreft which Milton, in his mafque, fuppofes to have been inhabited by Comus and his rout. The god is now vanquished: but, at the revolution of every feven years, his rout does not fail to keep up orgies there, and in the neighbouring town; as Lord Powis knows to his coft, for he has spent twenty or thirty thousand pounds in entertaining them at thefe fcafons; which is the reafon that he has no houfe at this place fit for him to live in. He talks of building one in the park, and the fituation deserves it; for there are many scenes, which not only Comus, but the lady of Milton's mafque, would have taken delight in, if they had received the improvements they are capable of, from a man of good tafte; but they are as yet very rude and neglected. In our way from hence to Montgomery, we paffed through a country very romantic and pleafant, in many fpots: in which we faw farms fo well fituated, that they appeared to us more delightful fituations than Clermont or Burleigh. At last we came by a gentleman's houfe, on the fide of a hill opening to a fweet valley; which feemed to be built in a tafte much fuperior to that of a meer country fquire. We therefore ftopt, and defired to fee it, which curiofity was well paid for: we found it the neatest and best house, of a moderate fize, that ever we faw. The mafter, it seems, was bred to the law, but quitted the profeffion about fifteen years ago, and retired into the country, upon an eftate of 500l. per annum, with a wife and four children; notwithstanding

which incumbrances, he found means to fit up the house in the manner we faw it, with remarkable elegance, and to plant all the hill about him with groves and clumps of trees, that, together with an admirable profpect feen from it, render it a place which a monarch might envy. But, to let you fee how vulgar minds value such improvements, I muft tell you an anfwer made by our guide, who was fervant to Lord Powis's fteward, and fpoke, I prefume, the sense of his mafter; upon our expreffing fome wonder that this gentleman had been able to do fo much with fo fmall a fortune; "I do not, faid he, know how it is, but he is always doing some nonfenfe or other." I apprehend, most of my neighbours would give the fame account of my improvements at Hagley.

From hence we travelled, with infinite pleafure, (through the moft charming country my eyes ever beheld, or my imagination can paint,) to Powis caftle, part of which was burnt down about thirty years ago; but there are ftill remains of a great houfe, fituated fo finely, and fo nobly, that, were I in the place of Lord Powis, I fhould forfake Oakley-park, with all its beauties, and fix my feat near there, as the most eligible in every refpect. About 3000l. laid out upon it would make it the most auguft place in the kingdom. It ftands upon the fide of a very high hill; below lies a vale of incomparable beauty, with the Severn winding through it, and the town of Welshpool, terminated with high mountains. The oppofite fide is beautifully cultivated half way up, and green to the top, except in one or two hills, whofe fummits are rocky, and of grotesque fhapes, that give variety and fpirit to the profpect. Above the caftle is a long ridge of hills finely fhaded, part of which is the park; and fill higher is a terrace, up to which you are led through very fine lawns, from whence you have a view that exceeds all defcription. The county of Montgomery, which lies all within this view, is to my eyes the most beautiful in South Britain; and though I have not been in Scotland, I cannot believe I fhall find any place there fuperior, or equal to it; because the Highlands are all uncultivated, and the Lowlands want wood; whereas this country is admirably fhaded with hedge-rows. It has a lovely mixture of corn-fields and meadows, though more of the latter. The vales and bottoms are large, and the mountains, that rife like a rampart all around, add a magnificence and grandeur to the fcene, without giving you any horror or dreadful ideas, becaufe at Powis-castle they appear at fuch a diftance as not to deftroy the beauty and foftnefs of the country between them. There are indeed fome high hills within that inclosure, but, being woody and green, they make a more pleafing variety, and take off nothing from the profpect. The cattle has an old-fashioned garden juft under it, which a few alterations might make very pretty; for there is a command of water and wood in it, which may be fo managed as to produce all the beauties that art can add to what liberal nature has fo lavishly done for this place.


We came to Feftiniog, a village in Merionethfhire, the vale before which is the most perfectly beautiful of all we had feen. From the height of this village you have a view of the fea. The hills are green, and well fhaded with wood. There is a lovely rivulet, which winds through the bottom; on each fide are meadows, and above are corn fields, along the fides of the hills; at each end are



high mountains, which feemed placed there to guard this charming retreat against any invaders. With a woman one loves, with the friend of one's heart, and a good ftudy of books, one might pafs an age there, and think it a day. If you have a mind to live long, and renew your youth, come with Mrs. Bower, and fettle at Feltiniog. Not long ago there died in that neighbourhood an honeft Welth farmer, who was 105 years of age; by his firft wife he had thirty children, ten by his fecond, four by his third, and seven by two concubines; his youngest fon was eighty one years younger than his eldeft, and 800 perfons defcended from his body attended his funeral.'

Lord Lyttelton's character as a ftatefman, which is already well-known, and univerfally admired by the true friends of their country, appears in a pleafing point of view in the speeches which are published in this mifcellany. The first is on the bill (1747) for annulling hereditary jurifdictions in Scotland; in which his lordship clearly proves, that fuch jurisdictions cannot be preferved confiftently with that found policy, "which carries the majefty and juftice of the crown into every part of the ftate; and prefents to the eye of the fubject no other object of his obedience, no other executive power, no other fountain of juftice except the king."-In the second speech, on the mutiny bill (1751) his lordship makes judicious remarks on the neceffity of preferving a strict military difcipline. The third, on the repeal of the act called the Jews bill, affords a noble specimen of that liberal and enlarged fpirit which always animated his lordfhip, on the fubject of religion. Speaking of the reafonablenets of repealing this act, he fays:

This appears to be a reafonable and fafe condefcenfion, by which nobody will be hurt; but all beyond this would be dangerous weakness in government. It might open a door to the wildeft enthufiafin, and to the most mischievous attacks of political difaffection working upon that enthufiafm. If you encourage and authorife it to fall on the fynagogue, it will go from thence to the meeting-houfe, and in the end to the palace. But let us be careful to check its further progrefs. The more zealous we are to fupport Christianity, the more vigilant fhould we be in maintaining toleration. If we bring back perfecution, we bring back the antichrittan fpirit of poperv; and when the fpirit is here, the whole fyftem will foon follow. Toleration is the bafis of all public quiet. It is a character of freedom given to the mind, more valuable, I think, than that which fecures our perfons and ellates. Indeed, they are infeparably connected together: for, where the mind is not free, where the confcience is enthralled, there is no freedom. Spiritual tyranny puts on the galling chain; but civil tyranny is called in, to rivet and fix them. We fee it in Spain, and many other countries; we have formerly both feen and felt it in England. By the bleffings of God, we are now delivered from all kinds of oppreflion, let us take care that they may never


In the fourth fpecch, concerning privilege of parliament, particularly in writing and publishing libels, he fays:

Is not fuch a privilege a virtual declaration that every member of parliament, while he continues a member, though he be guilty of perjury, of mifprifion of felony, of mifprifion of treason, though he fpreads fedition from one end of the kingdom to the other, is abfolutely exempt from the juftice of the crown? Such an exemption is moft abhorrent from the whole fpirit and genius of our conftitution. It is the worst folecifm in politics; it is fetting up a kingdom within a kingdom.' Soon afterwards he fays: The king is the vicegerent of that God to whom vengeance belongs. What power upon earth can intercept or delay that righteous vengeance? What power on earth can have any right, any privilege, to interpofe itfelf between him and the performance of his oath ?'

We cannot help intimating an apprehenfion that his lordship's ardor in fupport of the juft caule he had efpoufed, has here led him to make use of expreflions which are not quite confiftent with his general ideas of the origin and ends of government; which lean too much towards the exploded doctrine of the jus divinum of princes. Surely it would have been fufficient for the prefent argument to have faid, That no part of the people can have a right to flop the regular courfe of juftice in that channel in which the whole body of the people had appointed it to flow, for the public good; and to have afferted, as he does at the clofe of this judicious and animated fpeech, The dominion of law is the dominion of liberty: privilege against law in matters of high concernment to the public, is oppreffion, is tyranny, wherever it exifts.'

[ocr errors]

There is yet another character, under which Lord Lyttelton appears in these remains, which does him greater honour than all the reft; it is that of a good man. It is impoffible to perufe his letters to his father, without being charmed with the manly and virtuous fentiments which he difcovers, and particularly with the unaffected ardor of filial affection which runs through the whole. The following fpecimens, while they justify our remark, will, we are certain, afford much pleafu.e to those of our Readers, who have not fuffered falfe tafte to eradicate the principles of nature.

[ocr errors]

'Dear Sir,


Luneville, Aug. 18.

I wrote to you laft poft, and have fince received yours of the 20th. Your complaints pierce my heart. Alas, Sir, what pain muft it give me to think that my improvement puts you to any degree of inconvenience; and perhaps, after all, I may return and not anfwer your expectations. This thought gives me fo much unealinefs, that I am ready to wish you would recall me, and fave the charge of travelling: but, no; the world would judge perverfely, and blame you for it: I must go on, and you muft fupport me like your fon.

I have obferved with extreme affliction how much your temper is altered of late, and your chearfulnefs of mind impaired. My heart has ached within me, when I have feen you giving yourself up to a melancholy

G g4

« PreviousContinue »