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new parliament he employed not only his private interest, but that which his office gave him, in procuring the nomination of persons ill calculated to forward the views of the sovereign. “ His lordship's design was to have the parliament truly church of England protestants, and loyal to the crown; which character he thought aptest to establish the religion and laws of the kingdom, and to resist all attempts of altering any of our fundamentals in church and state.” The displeasure of the court at this line of conduct was manifested on the opening of parliament, when the lord keeper, contrary to usual custom, was not permitted to prepare the king's speech, nor was he even consulted on that which was delivered. The feelings of a king are speedily communicated to his courtiers, and the lord keeper soon found himself in general discredit. His decrees were questioned, or, as his biographer expresses it, “most brutishly and effrontuously arraigned :” while at court and at council “nothing squared with his schemes;" and he was, “by Sunderland, Jefferies, and their complices, little less than derided.”. Declining thus in favour at court, disturbed with the measures which he there beheld in contemplation, harassed with the thankless toils of office, the lord keeper, dispirited and depressed, was unable to contend with the adverse circumstances by which he was surrounded. He was attacked by a severe illness, which yielded at last, . in some degree, to medicine, and he resumed his duties for a short time. But the fever from which he was suffering appears never to have been thoroughly subdued; and the following is the melancholy picture given by his brother of his state at this period : “ His feverish disease growing upon him, his spirits, and all that should buoy a man up under oppression, not only failed, but other things of a malign complexion succeeded to bring him lower : which may be fully understood by this circumstance. He took a fancy that he looked out of countenance, as he termed it; that is, as one ashamed, or as if he had done ill, and not with that face of authority as he used to bear; and for that reason, when he went
into Westminster hall, in the summer term, he used to take nosegays of flowers to hold before his face, that people might not discern his dejection ; and once in private having told me this fancy, he asked me if I did not perceive it. I answered him, not in the least, nor did I believe any one else did observe any such thing; but that he was not well in health as he used to be was plain enough. His lordship in this state took a resolution to quit the great seal, and went to my Lord Rochester to intercede with his majesty to accept it, which had been no hard matter to obtain. But that noble lord had no mind to part with such a screen, and at that time (as he told me himself) he diverted him. But his lordship persisted, as will be made appear afterwards, by a letter. Whereupon the Lord Rochester obtained of the king, that his lordship might retire with the seal into the country; and that the officers with their concerns should attend him there, in hopes that by the use of the waters and fresh air he might recover his health against next winter, when it was hoped he would return pere fectly recovered. This was indeed a royal condescension and singular favour to him.”
The hopes of a recovery were vain. The lord keeper retired to Wroxton, in Oxfordshire, where he lingered some time, suffering much in body and temper from the effects of his disease. The closing scene of his life is thus described by his brother :
“ It was the opinion of the people about him, and the doctor's desire (who was the most afflicted man in the world), that Doctor Radcliffe, then in the neighbourhood, should be called in, which was done; not that his friends expected any benefit, but to satisfy some of the living, who would not be convinced. The doctor came; and by his lordship’s bed-side he asked him I am sure no less than fifty questions, which were a fatigue and trouble to him, and all that were in the room. The doctor had his fee, but not the ingenuity to say what he knew, viz. that there were no hopes; but talked of the lungs being touched or not, which signified nothing.
His lordship afterwards showed much discontent that he was not well attended ; and if Sir Dudley North or I was absent, he called it slighting him ; and we were, indeed, glad sometimes to escape for half an hour to breathe. This confirmed the approach of death, of which the not caring to be left alone is a constant symptom. He began to agonise and be convulsed ; and by virtue of the doctor's cordials lived longer than was for his good. After some striving, he would lie down, and then get up again. He advised us not to mourn for him; yet commended an old maid-servant for her good will, that said, “ As long as there is life there is hope.' At length, having strove a little to rise, he said, “ It would not do ;' and then with patience and resignation lay down for good and all, and expired [5th] Sept. 1685.”
On the following day the executors carried the great seal to the king at Windsor, who observed that “ he had heard his lordship was much mended ;” and asking whether there was not a purse to contain the seal, dismissed them without further remark.
The following is the character of the lord keeper given by his brother and biographer, upon which it will be necessary to make a few comments.
“ He was descended of a noble family, virtuously educated ; an early student in the law, signalised in his first performances, preferred for his abilities ; passed gradually from the meanest initiation of practice through every degree of business and preferment in the law : court-keeper, practiser in the king's bench, chief in his circuit, king's counsel, solicitor-general, attorney-general, chief justice of the common pleas, lord keeper of the great seal, and created a baron ; and in all this walk trod upon no man's heels, for he entered only by vacancies, and never by ungrateful removes, and was helpful and a friend to those whom he succeeded, especially the Lord Nottingham, who almost owned him for his successor. Whilst he was chief justice he was taken into the privycouncil, and then into the cabinet. He travelled most parts of the kingdom as judge in the several circuits ; and
gained the friendship, I had almost (and I might have) said the love, of the chief gentry of England, who afterwards stood by him against divers attempts to remove or dishonour him. And notwithstanding his continual employments in church and state, many thought his room, or rather his places, worth crowding for: and however in nice matters it is more than human not sometimes to err, yet he stood against all as a rock immoveable; and nothing was ever found, even by the most discerning of a popular faction, that would or (in truth) could impeach his fame, probity, or honour. He served the crown steadily and according to law; and ever gave cogent reasons in public for what he did. No impression of fear, flattery, or interest, did ever taint or divert his justice. In his person he was modest to extremity; and yet in doing his duty enough assured.
He was a declared enemy to pomp and vain glory. He was not an orator as commonly understood, that is a flourisher, but all his speech was fluent, easy, and familiar; and he never used a word for ornament, but for intelligence merely : and those who heard him speak, though in ordinary conversation, had scarce room left to ask any explication or enlargement. He was a lawyer (modestly speaking) not inferior to any of his time; and knowing in records and histories, not only of England, but in general. He was master of the European languages, as French, Italian, and Spanish, and had entered into those of High and Low Germany. He was adept in natural philosophy and mechanics, and no stranger to the mathematics. A musician in perfection, both practical and speculative, being a performer, composer, and (in print) a philosopher, as to the most recondite secrets of that art. He was covetous of nothing more than the society of the virtuosos of his time, as Lely, Moreland, May, Moor, Flamstead, and others of that tribe, who all courted him, and embraced his conversation, and many owned to profit by his encouragement and protection. He was civil and affable to all; and conversed, even with his enemies, without offence, and hated to be waited upon when he might
give despatch. His course of life was unexceptionable ; no manner of vice encouraged, nor by him known within his walls. His diet plain, and meals hospitable and profitable. His most intense study was to amend whatever he found amiss and amendable, where his employment gave him means and a latitude to do it. His zeal was to do all the good he could to his country; and that he thought best done by supporting the church and crown of England in all due and legal prerogatives, and thereunto he adhered during all his life, and no motive whatsoever made him swerve. Whatever he did in public was legal and effectual, without any affected lustre or handles to fame, if he could avoid them. No wonder he is so soon forgot. He never had, nor asked for profit, any boons of his majesty; and at the end left but a moderate estate to his children, which' one would think should have been by common profits much more; but thereby he demonstrated that corruption had no share in what he left. In short, he had a virtuous disposition, orderly and regular course of life, void of all pride and affectation; the utmost regard for truth and right; a vast extent of skill in the law and national constitution, and knowledge of men and the world; the love and esteem of the best; impartiality in his justice, and dexterity in the forms and administration of it; sense of his duty, public and private, with industry and affection duly to perform it; he was patient in hearing, modest in determining, compassionate in severities, orthodox and exemplary in the established church, and averse to all its enemies; for all which he had a visible temporal reward : and that is, dying as he lived, without stain or diminution of his honour, authority, or greatness, in the height of which he left the world. This character, which I have here given, is not out of opinion, rumour, or any means of fame whatever ; but the result of my own personal knowledge and proof, and at the hour of death I can veritably swear to every article of it.”
In attempting to form a more just and accurate opinion of the lord keeper's character than is to be derived