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Memoirs of Sir William Temple.


ing riches I ever despised, as observing it to belong to the most despicable men in other kinds; and I had the occasions of, so often in my way, if I would have made use of them, that I grew to disdain them, as a man does meat that he has always before him; therefore I would never go to service for nothing but wages, nor endure to be fettered in business when I thought it was to no purpose. I knew very well the arts of a court, are to talk the present language, to serve the present turn, and to follow the present humour of the prince, whatever it is; of all these 1 found myself so incapable that I could not talk a language I did not mean, nor serve a turn I did not like, nor follow any man's humour, wholly against my own: besides, I have had in twenty years' experience enough of the uncertainty of princes,—the caprices of fortune,—the corruptions of ministers,—the virulence of factions,— the unsteadiness of councils, and the infidelity of friends: nor do I think the rest of my life enough to make any new experiments. For the ease of my own life, if I know myself, it will be infinitely more in the retired than in the busy scene; for no good man can, with any satisfaction, take part in the divisions of his country, that knows and considers, as I do, what they have cost Athens, Rome, Constantinople, Florence, Germany, France, and England; nor can the wisest man foresee how our's will end, or what they are like to cost the rest of Christendom, as well as ourselves.

I never had but two aims in public affairs; one, to see the King great, as he may be, by the hearts of his people, without which 1 know not how he nan be great by the disposition of this kingdom; the other, in case our factions must last, yet to see a reserve established for the constant maintaining a fleet of fifty men-of-war at sea, or in harbour, and the seamen in constant pay: which would be at least our safety for abroad, and make the Crown still considered in any foreign alliances, whether the King and his Parliament should agree or not in undertaking any great or national war. And such an establishment, I was in hopes the last Parliament in Westminster might have agreed in with the King, by adding so much of a new fund to £.30,000 a.year out of the present Customs; but these have both failed, and I am content to have failed with them. And so I take my leave of all these airy visions which have so long tired my head about mending the world, and at the same time of all these shining toys or follies that employ the thoughts of busy men, and shall turn mine wholly to mend myself; and as far as consists with a private condition, still pursue that old and excellent counsel of Pythagoras, — that we are, with all the cares and endeavours of our lives, to avoid diseases in the body, perturbations in tne mind,* luxury in diet, factions in the house, and seditions in the state."

The most important event in a man's life, generally speaking, whether for good or for ill, is his marriage; and as gentlemen who intend settling in the country, generally commence their rural plans, by placing a lady at the head of their household, we must say a few words on the subject of Temple's courtship; especially as the person on whom his affections were fixed, was one of most unusual merit, and her correspondence forms the most lively and entertaining portion of Mr. Courtenay's volumes. Temple was passing through the Isle of Wight, on his way to France, during the time of Charles's imprisonment. There he met the son and daughter of Sir Peter Osborne of Chicksands in Bedfordshire, who were on their way to St. Maloes, to join their father, who was governor of Guernsey for the King. Temple accompanied them to France, but on their progress, an event happened which terminated in results more auspicious than might have been expected. "The spite,"' says Lady Gifford, " young Osborne had to see the King imprisoned and treated by the governor, Colonel Hammond, so unlike what was due to him, prompted him to step back, after all the company were gone before him out of the inn, and write these words with a diamond on the window j—" And Ha

* It has been said with some meaning, that if men would but rest in silence, they might always hear the " musicof the sphere*."

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mon was hanged upon the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai." The adventurous Cavalier had no sooner rejoined his companions, than he was seized and brought back to the governor; his sister, however, took the offence on herself, and they were suffered to depart. Rising from midst this blaze of female loyalty, the tender form of Love appeared. Temple was so pleased with the wit and courage of Dorothy Osborne, especially as she was a young lady of much personal attraction, that he stayed some time wiih her in France, and engaged her affections. His father, however, thought that this was travelling a little out of his way, and that the language of love was not the language* his son was sent abroad to attain; so he commanded him to proceed, and Temple passed two years in France and other countries. When he came home, he lived two or three years about town, after the manner in which most young men live, and, thinking of Dorothy Osborne, wrote a true romance, 'or the Disastrous Chances of Love and Fortune, set forth in divers tragical stories, as—The Labyrinth of Fortune—The Constant Desperado—The Brave Duellists—The Incautious Pair, &c.' He also kept alive his affection by writing, with a diamond pencil, the following quatrain on the windows of Moor Park, opposite a statue of Leda,

"Tell me, Leda, which is best,
Ne'er to move, or ne'er to rest?
Speak, that I may know thereby,
Who is happier, you or I?"

to which, as we understood from a gentleman of undoubted credit, who was accidentally passing at the time the question was asked, Leda answered—

Mr. Temple, hear me tell;

Both to move and rest, are well.

Who is happier, you or I?

To that question I reply—

If you '11 stand here, and let me go,

Very shortly you will know.f

For seven long years the current of love was troubled and turned out of its course. "The accidents," says Lady Gifford, " for seven years of that amour, might make a history, and the letters that passed between them, a volume." Sir John Temple discouraged the match, and the Osborne family were set against it, both as disadvantageous iu point of fortune, and from a personal dislike of Temple.

'From forth the fatal loins of these two foes,
A paire of starre-crost lovers take their life.

Mrs. Dorothy had a great many servants also, who aspired to the honour of her hand; and Temple had rather a formidable rival in Henry Cromwell, the son of the Protector:

• Colonel Miranda says that Sir W. Temple's Spanish despatches are not correct."—See Annual Register, 1792, p. 27, p. ii.

t On the strength of the answer which Sir W. Temple obtained, we put a question the other day to a statue in Hampton Court Gardens, and were equally favoured:—

Q.—Prithee, Statue, tell m<j how,
I can be as fair as thou?

A.—The means I speedily will name,
I got whitewashed—do the same.

Gent. Mag. Vol. VII. C

• ' A gentleman of noble parentage,

Of fair demeanour, youthful, and nobly allied— Stuft, as they say, with honourable parts,' &c. but Mrs. Dorothy was faithful as she was frank, and she quieted her lover's fears, by a promise that she would never marry any other man: though Mr. Freeman was 'a pretty gentleman,' and Sir Justinian Isham is called the Emperor: as for Mr. James Fish, who came a wooing with a load of charcoal as a present, he did not succeed in warming his fair one; nor did a fourth fare better,—'a modest, melancholy, reserved man, whose head was so taken up with little philosophical studies, that she admired how he found a room there.' We do not know that we ever saw so much love, united with so much reason and good sense, as in her letters. She was as prudent as she was kind: her head indeed was full of romances, but her heart was untainted by them; she admired Astrea and Celia, and other heroines who reclined all the winter by the side of brooks, and under the cool umbrage of trees; but she had no desire to imitate them; she held the world's opinion in reverence, yet out of no selfishness, or vanity, or indulgence; she weighed it at what it was worth, and knew the folly of disregarding it. Her letters are very entertaining, and should be printed separately for the use of all followers of Le Prince d'Amour. We asked Sylvanus Urban leave to insert them here; but it would not do— he never relaxed from his usual imperturbable gravity, or desisted one moment from his important researches regarding the birth-day of Cunobeline's eldest daughter :—but only muttered,—

'Hang her, young baggage, disobedient wench!' —so if our readers, male or female, wish to pass a few hours in the history of a romantic, tender, and honourable courtship, we would refer them to Mr. Conrtenay's second volume: there they will find how this accomplished young lady calls her lovers 'whelps and beagles;' how she walks out to a common where a great many young wenches keep sheep and cows, and sit in the shade singing ballads: and how she compares their voices and beauty to some ancient shepherdesses that she read of, and finds a vast difference: how she recommends her lover to read the Cleopatra of Claparede, and the Illustrious Ibraham of Madame Scuderi; but adds, 'What an ass am I, to think you will be idle enough in London to read romances!' It is long since we have seen a modern lover's correspondence—not that we have not had opportunities of so doing, if we were not afraid of injuring our antiquarian style by such reading—but the following sentence we permit to be inserted by any inamorato, if he finds his matter running short: "Since you are at leisure to consider the moon, you may have enough to read Cleopatra; therefore I have sent you three tomes. There is a story of Artemise, that I will recommend to you j his disposition I like extremely ; it has a great deal of gratitude and wit; and if you meet with the Dritomart, pray send me word how you like him."—" I have sent you the rest of Cleopatra. You will meet with a story in these parts that pleased me more than any I ever read in my life; 'tis of one Delia: pray give me your opinion of her and her Prince." Her lover soon after hears from her on the subject of Parthenissa; which she thinks handsome language; but having nothing new and surprenant in the stories. She criticises the noble author's style as well as story, and professes her dislike of ambition, ignore, concern (we wonder what she would have said to talented), and she confesses that Mad. Scudcri's Artamencs, or the Grand Cyrus, has spoiled her for other romances: as for Almanzor, she cried au,

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