Imágenes de página

just turned over to Mr. Backhouse, the Westminister tutor, who gave regular lectures, and fulfilled the duties of his charge ably and conscientiously. Totally unprepared to answer the call now made upon me, and acquit myself in the schools, I resorted to him in my distress, and through his interference my name was withdrawn from the act; in the mean time, I was sent for by the master, Dr. Smith, the learned author of the well-known Treatises upon Optics and Harmonics, and the worthy successor to my grand-father Bently, who strongly reprobated the neglect of my former tutors, and recommended me to lose no more time in preparing myself for a degree, but to apply closely to my academical studies for the remainder of the year, which I informed him I would do."

Mr. Cumberland accordingly kept his word, and began a course of study so apportioned, as to allow himself but six hours of sleep, living almost entirely upon milk, and using the coldbath very frequently. At length he was appointed, "nothing loth," to keep an act, and having distinguished himself on this occassion, the moderator concluded the day with a compliment to him. He soon after took his bachelor's degree, with great credit, and returned home to the paternal mansion, to suffer for his severe studies, a fever having taken place in consequence of intense application.

On his recovery, our author made an excursion to the city of York, and entered into a new scene of life; for we find him hunting in the mornings, dancing in the evenings, and reading nothing but Spenser's Fairy Queen. He appears, at this period, to have been much pleased with some elegiac verses, written by Lady Susan Stewart, daughter of a late Earl of Galloway, and, in composing some poetry of his own, rather celebrated for its piety than its point, of which we shall insert only the two first stanzas:

"True! we must all be chang'd by death,
Such is the form the dead must wear,
And so, when beauty yields its breath,
So shall the fairest face appear.

"But let thy soul survey the grace,
That yet adorns its frail abode,
And through the wondrous fabric trace
The hand of an unerring God." &c.

On his return to college, a fellowship presented itself to Mr. Cumberland's view; but he was suddenly called on to take a part in very different pursuits, having been invited by Lord Halifax, then one of the ministers, to assume the situation of his private and confidential secretary. Notwithstanding this, he found means to make a short visit to his college, and was again admitted to its honours.

Meanwhile, his father, who like himself, had been educated at Westminster and Trinity College, Cambridge, having exerted his patriotism in behalf of the House of Hanover, was also patronized by Lord Halifax, and at length obtained the bishopric of Clonfert, in Ireland, whence he was afterwards translated to the see of Kilmore. His son, who looked up to the same source for protection, visited their noble friend at Horton, on the demise of his lady, and having removed to lodgings in Mount-street, almost entirely devoted himself to solitude and study.

As the nature of Mr. Cumberland's occupations, in his character of amanuensis to Lord Halifax, did not require the whole of his attention, he found leisure to cultivate an acquaintance with the celebrated Budd Doddington, and many other noted men of that day. In a short time after this, in consequence of a dispute between his patron and the prime minister, (the Duke of Newcastle), our author found himself in a very disagreeable predicament. Instead of looking up with the well-founded hope of preferment, he was soon taught to perceive that he was now no more than the ex-secretary of an ex-statesman. This recess from business, enabled him to visit Eastbury, a magnificeut mansion appertaining to the statesman now just alluded to, who there as at his villa at Hammersmith, and his town-house in Pall Mall, was never approached by his admiring guests, but through a suite of fine apartments; and they were rarely seated "but under painted ceilings, and gilt entablatures."

After obtaining a lay fellowship at Trinity College, he composed his first dramatic poem, "The Banishment of Cicero," in five acts; but he himself candidly allows, that for a "hero," he was not happy in his choice of the Roman orator. Anterior to this, he had written his "Caractacus," and even in his boyish days he addressed "Farewell lines to Hammond." His first offering to the press, however, was in the shape of a poem, entitled "St. Mark's Eve," published by Dodsley, and from which neither the author nor bookseller, appear to have derived any profit.

He now got acquainted with Mr. Charles Townshend, the celebrated wit, for whom he solved an enigmatical question, and reviewed and criticised an elaborate report, while one of the Lords of Trade. Mr. C. also made some translations in verse, from the Troades of Seneca, and was introduced by Lord Halifax to Garrick, who then resided at Hampton; but he declined accepting of his "Cicero," for the stage, and the author is candid enough to remark, "that when he published this play, he was conscious that he published Mr. Garrick's justification for refusing it."


Mr. Cumberland now began to think of settling in life; and having obtained the office of crown-agent for the province of

Nova Scotia, by means of Lord H. he paid his addresses to Miss Ridge, daughter of George Ridge, esq. of Kilmiston, in the county of Kent, and "had the unspeakable felicity to find them accepted and sanctioned by the consent of all parties concerned thus," added he, "I became possessed of one whom the virtues of her heart, and the charms of her person, had effectually endeared to me, and on the 19th of February, 1758, (being my birth-day), I was married by my father, in the Church of Kilmiston, to Elizabeth, the only daughter of George and Elizabeth Ridge."

In consequence of a change in the administration, on the death of George II. Lord Halifax again returned to power, and was soon after appointed to the high office of viceroy of Ireland. Our author as well as his father, accompanied him thither, and resided for some time in Dublin Castle, as Ulster Secretary. He at the same time, was entrusted with the management of the lord lieutenant's private finances, which were in a very deranged


On the new king's accession, Mr. C. composed and published a poem addressed to the young sovereign, his present majesty, in blank verse. Soon after this he retired from Ireland, "perfectly clean-handed," without advancing his fortune a single shilling, but from the fair income of office, and his disinterestedness never having been betrayed to accept of any thing which delicacy could possibly interpret as a gratuity. Anterior to his departure, he was offered the rank of a baronet by his patron, which he respectfully declined. On his return to England, he found a place of 2001. per annum, his sole reward, after eleven years attendance, and Mrs. C.'s fortune of 30001. reduced to a very small balance. His situation however, was considerably mended by an office in the Board of Trade, conferred by the late Earl of Hillsborough. As his new employment consumed but little of his time, he composed the "Summer's Tale," which had a run of nine or ten nights, and he sold the copy-right to Mr. Dodsley for a liberal remuneration.

He now relinquished what he is pleased to term "his melodious nonsense," to Bickerstaffe, the writer of popular operas; and on the advice of Smith, the actor, betook himself to legitimate comedy, and brought out the "Brothers," at Covent Garden Theatre. Some complimentary lines in the epilogue, introduced him once more to Garrick, and a lasting friendship was thenceforth formed between them.

In the course of the ensuing year, Mr. C. paid a visit to his father in Ireland, and laid the plan of his "West Indian." While resident there, he received the honorary grant of LL.D. from the University of Dublin. On his return, he entered the field of

controversy, and vindicated the insulted character of his grandfather Dr. Bentley, from "an offensive passage in a pamphlet written by Bishop Lowth, professedly against Warburton, acrimonious enough of all conscience, and unepiscopally intemperate in the highest degree, even if his lordship had not gone out of his course to hurl this dirt upon the coffin of my ancestor." He now got acquainted with Goldsmith, Burke, Reynolds, Soame Jenyns, and also with Dr. Samuel Johnson, whom he describes aptly enough:

"Herculean strength, and a stentorian voice,
Of wit a fund, of words a countless choice:
In learning rather various than profound,
In truth intrepid, in religion sound:
Trembling form, and a distorted sight,
But firm in judgment, and in genius bright;
In controversy seldom known to spare,
But humble as the Publican in prayer;
To more than merited his kindness, kind,
And though in manners harsh, of friendly mind;
Deep ting'd with melancholy's blackest shade,
And, though prepared to die, of death afraid-
Such Johnson was: of him with justice vain,
When will this nation see his like again?"

Meanwhile Lord Germane obtained the seals for the colonial department, and Mr. Cumberland, still a subaltern at the Board of Trade, having accepted of an invitation to Stoneland, was enabled by the friendship of the new minister to become secretary in the place of Mr. Pownall. His official fame seems to have been lost in the splendour of his literary talents. Such indeed was the reputation of the subject of this memoir, at the present period, that he was applied to by Dr. Dodd for a defence. This task however, was assigned to Dr. Samuel Johnson, while other pursuits now opened to his view, and a diplomatic mission seemed to court the ambition of our author. Having discovered in 1780, that there was a fair prospect of a secret negociation with Count Florida Blanca, then minister of Spain, he repaired to the neutral port of Lisbon, with the Abbé Hussey, Chaplain to his Catholic Majesty, accompanied by his wife and two daughters. Thence they proceeded to Aranjuez, where he was well received by the Spanish premier, and engaged soon after in a negociation for a separate peace with the court of Madrid. This project however, completely failed; and our author returned to England,


* Mr. Hussey, better known by the appellation of Dr. H. was an Irishman by birth, and afterwards obtained an episcopal mitre as a titular Roman Catholic bishop, in partibus remot. Ed.

where, instead of obtaining a suitable reward for his exertions, he found himself neglected, and we believe disavowed.

On the dissolution of the Board of Trade, Mr. C. fixed himself at Tunbridge Wells, where his books and his pen became his best associates. There, among others, he cultivated an acquaintance with the late Earl of Guilford, who had become old, infirm, and blind, and who in the decline of life appeared infinitely more happy, and more amiable, than when directing the pointless efforts, and lavishing the unavailing wealth, of Britain, against a continent inhabited by men, who panted after, and at length acquired independence. The quandam premier now listened with attention for the first time, to those complaints which he had before spurned at; and the ex-diplomatist began to entertain a respect for the ex-statesman who had bereaved himself and family of their dearest hopes. He also formed a strict friendship with his then neighbour, Sir James Bland Burges, in conjunction with whom he has since written many verses. From this favourite spot he retired however for a while, and left a beloved residence, since called Cumberland House, by the proprietor, in honour of him. It was now his intention to pass the remainder of his days at Ramsgate, where one of his daughters, who had been many years married to Lord Edward Bentinck, the uncle of the present Duke of Portland, then dwelt. But he did not remain long there, for the memory of the Wells was still dear to him, and he accordingly returned thither, and occupied a small house on Mount Sion, exactly opposite to his former mansion. He was now once more in his proper element. Every spring brought down a number of the first families in the kingdom, and, during the winter, he made occasional excursions to town. His influence, also, was displayed and exerted in the election of a master of the ceremonies, and he was flattered by the choice of the volunteers, by whom he was chosen major-commandant. In consequence of an accession to their numbers, he afterwards obtained a commission as lieutenant-colonel, and the writer of this memoir has often seen him march a couple of miles at their head, and give the word of command with all the ardour of an experienced veteran.

Nor were his literary pursuits entirely forgotten. Mr. C., at an advanced period of life, could still occasionally compose a jeu d'esprit, and he once more ventured even to write for the stage; but we lament to observe, that none of his latter performances evinced the spirit, or experienced the success of his West Indian. He also undertook a quarterly review, to which he prefixed a preface, and appended his name to this, as well as many of the leading articles; but this speculation also proved unfortunate. "Memoirs of his own Life," however, were read with sa

« AnteriorContinuar »