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be, contrary to his usual moderation, is genius had augured, the meridian ra enthusiastic in his admiration of him: diance of it displayed in the support therefore, as his judgment has never which he gave to the Bill for acknowbeen controverted, we may consider it ledging King William and Queen Mary, as decisive. He delineates his Lord- and declaring the acts of the Conven• • Thip's character to be that of a man tion Parliament to be valid, confirmed t. who, without any incentive from va. In consequence of the very eminent . nity, was only zealous for the good profesional skill displayed by Sir John of mankind, and as solicitons for the Sommers, when Attorney General, concealment as the performance of vir. joined to the reputation which, by bis tuous actions. For this reason it is, I eloquence, he acquired in the House of conceive, pleasing to draw the object Commons, anıt the discovery of his of this unqualified approbation nearer acquaintance with every part of polite to us, and to contemplate, in a more and useful knowledge, which, through particular point of view, the person the medium of the press, the circum. who, as I have observed, had the singu- ftances of the times rendered conipilar happiness to be praised both by Swift cuous, his character, both as an orator and Addison.
and writer, became so eltablithed, and Sir Francis Bacon, speaking of Mi. the King so sensible of his merit, that, nisters, says, that many of them, like on the 28th of March 1693, he honoured comets, or blazing stars, attract to their him with the custody of the Great Seal, orbit the whole attention of the age in and the title of Lord Keeper. This which they appear, though no one was a situation for him to discover, knows whence they came, nor where to his friends and the public, the full they are loit: but this was by no means extent of his capacity for business, as the case with Lord Sommers. His pro- well as the expanded integrity of his fellional rise was accurately marked beart. But while he was in this post, through his whole progress to the high- his enemies made a still more curious ett honours of tbe Robe; his elocution, discovery ; namely, that he was cúndid, like a translucent stream, at once flow. and genile, to a fault. However, the ing clear and brilliant, had this pro- general opinion of him was, that, with perty, also, that while it sometimes the suavity and refinement of manners itimulated the passions, it always cor which distinguilhed bim as a Courtier, rected the judgment; his appeals to he also posielled that fortitude of mind, that tribunal where he afterwards pre. coolness, and patience, which would lided, seemed, though the effufions of have done credit to a Stoic philosopher; an advocate, to carry with them the and at the same time that his decisions, fame conviction as his sublequent de as a Magistrate, were so firmly founded citions as a Judge.
upon the pillars of law and equity, that His progress as a Statesman may be though more than once aftailed, they dated from his first, though masterly, were never haken: his judgment in performance, the declaration of war literature and the polite aris was so against France*, which, it has hy all exquiste, and delivered in a manner so parties been agreed, made a stronger, easy and unaffuming, that his opinion and more lasting, impresion upon the always produced pleasure and assent. public mind than any other state paper Lord' Sommers had, in principles, which had then been promulgated. As always agreed with that party termed his character expanded, his reputation the moderate Whigs, and had, upon fose with every exertion of his mental many occasions, not only studied the faculties. What the first dawn of his pallions of, but ventured his credit
* Dated the 7th of May 1689.
† Historians have observed, that, considering the number, and, more, the talents, of the Tories, it is astonishing that they made so feeble a stand against this Bill, which teemed, almost literally, an ax levelled at the very root of their party. But in this, as in many other cales, astonishment frequently vanishes before dilquisition. The fact is, that although their oppofition was comparatively weak, a much Itronger had, in Cunclave, been determined upon; there it was fercled, that the motion for its commit. ment should be the signal for a most energetic attack; but this delign was fruttrated by one of the party, who, with more zeal than prudence, discovered their latent ina tention in an early itage of the buliness, and coniequently rendered the whole cheme abortive. $
with, their leaders, when they began every great combination of commerce, to waver in their opinions respecting with the arrangement of every trading the great change that had been effected; and banking company, and yet want in order to reclaim their thoughts to. that knowledge of pecuniary concerns ward a Monarch whom they had just be- which is, perhaps, only to be found before idolized, and to induce them (such hind the counter of the shop-keeper, is the instability of the human mind) or at the pay-table of the mechanic. to place a greater confidence in him. This was the case in former ages : in
In the year 1695, the scheme of this the present, the vast increase and wide noble Lord, for redressing the grievances diffusion of wealth, by the means of that had arisen from the nefarious prac. the funding system, and its concomitice of diminishing the coin, which had tants, has obliged him to become better then become an evil so extensive as to acquainted with many of these minute cause a considerable obstruction to com- particulars ; and the consequence is, merce, had all the merit which a specu- that a Minister now would not, for an lation of this nature could possess; and instant, wonder at the failure of the although I do exceedingly doubt, whe. scheme of Lord Sommers. If any ther, it it had been attempted, it would thing of this nature could have excited have been found practicable, yet, look- his aitonishment, it would have been its ing at the equity of the case, it certainly fucceeding. does appear reasonable, that the value We are next to view his Lordship of money mould be determined by its engaged in a pursuit more congenial to weight, which, indeed, was the original his talents, and, in a general point of idea when gold and silver first became view, more useful to his country. It the medium of traffic ; Itill, I think, the is by no means necessary to descant on scheme of Lord Sommers was justly laid the situation of France in the year 1697: alide, from the certainty that, in its though our arms had "scotched the pristine operation, a considerable lofs tofnake, they had not killed it:" on the nation must have been the conse, the contrary, considerable apprehen. quence; and the uncertainty, even had fons were then entertained of the power it been practicable, which, from our of this rival nation; and, in conform multifarious commercial transactions, quence, a tract appeared, which was it decidedly was not, whether the ulti- generally believed, and is now, I think, mate advantages held out were not certified, to have been from his pen. merely ideal.
In this pamphlet, the arguments for With respect to the coin and coinage, and against keeping a respectable inilithe wisest of our Ministers have always tary force, or what was termed a flanddiscovered the greatest cantion in their ing army, in the time of peace, are exainterference. It would too considerably mined, applauded, and combated, with extend this article, were I to state all equal acumen, skill, and ingenuity; the reasons that may be supposed to and the conclusion of this able Stater: have operated upon their minds. But man is, that he, maturely reflecting on briefly to allude to some of them, it the circumstances of the period, deemed seems to require that thorough ac such an establishment, even upon a large quaintance with the minutize of traffic, scale, absolutely necessary for our nawhich Statesmen in former ages were tional preservation. not believed to poslefs in a very emi Conlidering the Lord Chancellor nent degree.
Sommers as one of the most able and A Lord Treasurer might understand uncorrupt Judges that ever presided the ocumenical principle, the great in that Court, bis promotion reflects commercial interests of various king- great honour on the Monarch ; but we doms and states, how they coalesced must lament, that in this exalted ftaor clashed, the balance of power, the tion, his body became too feeble to balance of riches, and yet might, with second the exertions of his energetic out any violent impeachment of his mind; for it appeus, that in the year capacity, be ignorant of the various 1698, his attention to business had so divisions and subdivisions, the opera- far affected his health, that he was tion of circumstances and materials, obliged to retire to Tunbridge for its upon the various fystems of society, re-establishment. While he was there, the various modes of life. He might, he received a letter from the King, with respect to this subject, be per- which is still extant. His answer states, fectly acquainted with the affairs of
as an apology for his thoughts beina
so ill put together, that "the waters the times, he had no reason to suppose are so known to distract and disturb the that his cotemporaries would not dehead as almoit totally to disable one fend their claims with the lame intrfrom writing.”
ments, and cling to their posseflions To this illness his Lordship was fuh. with the tenacity of their ancestors *. . ject, at intervals, during the remainder A philosopher fpeculating upon the of his lite; but it is said, that although baneful effects of party, and tiow frehe was not able to attend the House quently its operations tend to corrupt, upon the debate (in 1700) occasioned vitiate, and deform, the human mind, by the Bill for the Resumption of the could not, in searching for instances to Irish Grants, he advised the opposition elucidate his argument, perhaps, find to it: which, if we consider his pru- many more prominent, or unprincipled, dence, and weigh the consequences than the attempts that were made to that might have attended the doctrine implicate Lord Sommers in the guilt of of resumption, seems probable. Captain Kidd. But while the means
He knew, that if it had operated, it pursued appeared infamous even to the might have set afloat more than half the culprit trembling on the verge of eterproperty in the kingdom; that it might nity, and, as it was hoped, ready to have been extended, perhaps, to the catch at every object that might have very verge of the statute of Limita- afforded him a prospect of a prolongations, nay, by the omnipotence of Par- tion of existence, What shall we lay liament, even beyond that boundary, of the tempters ? Both the Houfe of and have been the means of instituting Commons and the Public united in enquiries, not merely into the grants their degradation; and the character in the reign of Charles, which were its which they had thus attempted to fully, professed object ; but even into those, seemed to emerge from the cloud with which were far more profuse, of the double brilliancy. abbey lands at the time of the Reform The enemies of this Nobleman, ation; if it had stopped there. He equally reftlels and ingenious, foiled knew, that even under a despotic Mo- in one attempt, ventured another, narch, a scheme of this nature, which which they carried ftill further. They threatened to involve the nation in impeached him, together with che Bari very serious consequences, was, by a of Portland, the Earl of Orford, and single Baron, Itrangled in its cradle; Lord Halifax, for the share they had in and, considering the unsettled Itate of the Partition Treaty, and other bigte
Edward the First issued writs of enquiry, in the nature of the statute of 920 Warranto, injoining all persons who held iands of the Crown to thew their either. When the Earl of Warren appeared before the Commillioners, he answered their demand for his title by drawing an old rusty sword, and saying, “ This is the inftrament by which my anceltors obtaiued poteflion of their ettate ; and with this I will, fo long as I have life, defend it."
4 When Captain Kidd was first brought up for examinatinn, he became indebted to one Kelidale, a coffee-mar, near the House of Cominons, in the lum of eight Dhillings, for refreshment, One Sunday, previous to his fecond examination, Kettdale and his fon went to Newgate to demand pavmenr of this money. They drank with Kidd; and, in the course of conversation, Kefedale said to him, “ Captain, You are a fool to be hanged for any body, and may certainly
save your life if you can lay anything againf Lord Orford or Lord Sommers.” 'To this broad bint Kidd replied, as might have been expected, “I'll be hanged for nobody, and will certainly tell all." Keftdale (whn, it appears, was a useful inan) went with his fon directly to Sir Edward Seymour; and upon this fight gircumstance, it allo appears, the information tse gave the House was founded. It is singular, that this coffee-man, who lived under the roof of the House of Commons, thould think it necessary to take a wilnejs, and proceed to Newgate, to demand a debt of feven or eight thillings from a culprit whom be was well allured would be brought up more than once again for examination. The obje&t of this debt, which he mult know, if he had cared about it, he could not recover, and which he also knew be lould have other opportunities to demand, could not be the object of his vitit. What other could be have? it may be asked. The answer to this question, if it were antwered, places the human mind, when influenced by party, in so degraded a state, that it is, perhaps, better to leave it to lhe luggeltion of the reader.
crimes and misdemeanors; and an ad- attended to, the situation of affairs, dress, such a one as, it is said, had never both foreign and domeftic, was such gone with an impeachment or impeach as did little credit to the patriotisin ments before, was presented to the of either side, in the opinion of the Kiog, to remove them from his coun thinking, and, more, of the feeling, cils, &c. The letting their names re part of the nation. These Statesmen main on the council-book, and taking appear to us like boys in a scramble, no notice of the address, was, though a who pursue and buffet each other in tacit, a fevere centure on this meature. order to pick up a few pence, while
The answer of Lord Sommers to the those of a neig ring parish, perhaps articles of impeachment * was full, ex more aftute, stand aloof, and, watching plicit, and seems an emanation from the lucky minute when the conteit has the very spirit of integrity and honour. arrived at its height, run away with With respect to the delays that had their clothes. occurred in the Court of Chancery, which A new Monarch rises like a new plaincludes a charge that, had it been less net in the celestial hemisphere; every gravely urged, we Mhould hardly have eye is turned to gaze, and every mind thought the authors ferious in exhibit- contemplates, under its influence, the ing, the Ex-Chancellor answered, “that operation of a new system. Queen he had, with little regard to his own Anne, on her accession to the Throne, health or repose, applied himself wholly did not entirely disappoint the hopes to the dispatch of business, and had of the Tories, who seem, in those pealways acted according to the best of riots, to have acted upon statical prinhis judgment, without fear or favour. ciples with the Whigs, and to have
The event of those impeachments thrown all their weight into the oppothews, in the ftrongest point of view, lte scale, to make the balance incline the unstable foundation upon which in their favour, or rather to have taken they were ere&ted; and their whole their turn with them like day and construction, in this age, appears a night. But although she did not, at piece of solemn mockery on the part firit, gratify the former to the fullest of phe Tories, which, some years after- extent of their wishes, for indeed the wards, the Whigs retaliated, with as could not, till taught by dear bought little principle, in the impeachments of experience, tell how far the wides of Lord Oxford, Prior, and others. As ambition and avarice extended, the they were, perhaps, all derived from brought into Administration the Earl the same sources, envy, ambition, and, of Abingdon, Viscount Weymouth t, I fear, avarice, they all, when aflayed at and many others who had expressed the the fiery ordeal of truth, thewed the most violent and rancorons aversion to baseness of their alloy, and were by the latter; while Lord Sommers and the prosecutors, who became ashamed his friends, who were, from patriotic of their own works, abandoned. principles, firmly attached to the Re
Holding the impartial pen of history, volution, were left out of the list. one cannot bur lament, that the opera The unreasonable prejudice which tion of passions such as has been hinted, the Queen, stimulated by his enemies, thould deprave the minds, and steel the entertained against this noble Lord, in boloms, of men, upon other occasions a short period receded before that conas remarkable for their genius, learn- viction of his talents and integrity ing, and attention to business, as for which the circumstances of the times, their humanity. But it is certain, that and the large fhure he had in the prowhile the voice of party only was motion of the Union I, drew forth. heard, the exertions of party only As the settlement of the Protestant
• The impeachment of Lord Sommers was moved the 15th April 1701 ; the articles were exhibited 19th May 1701; and the trial, at which the Conimons did not attend, was the 17th June fame year. His Lord hip was, of course, acquitted.
+ The names of these two Lords appear among the not-contents, with respect to the acquittal of Lord Sommers.
I With respect to this wise and salutary measure, of which every one must have oblerved the progressive, and still increasing, benefit to both countries, it has been laid, The original plan was his. Without withing to detract from his merit, we may bint," that it did not seem to require a genius like that of Lord Sommers to point out advantages to obvious, that the most fuperficial speculator now wonders they were not a century sooner attained.
succession, the Regency Bill, and the liancy to the one, as a skilful artist Union, are three remarkable political would to a diamond, by placing a spot of epochs, so are they three distinguidhed black at the bottom of the collet, extraits of the forelight, prudence, and tracted from the setting of the other. patriotisin, of this Nobl man, from The political progress of Lord Somwhom they are believed to have ori mer's terminated with an endeavour to ginated: though, while his energetic ailift the British merchants, by opposing mind produced these advantages to his to the parade of military glory, and the country, his innate inodesty induced exultation of triumphant armies, the him to shrink from the praise ihat ought depression of commerce, and the calato have followed them, to elude the mities of myriads of starving inanupursuit of fame, and endeavour to ap facturers. The opposition to the warpear as the second person, when he had like measures of the adıninistration of every claiin to the situation of the first. the day, which he, upon this occasion,
The genius and learning of Lord feconded, it is well known, though Sommers, lays Additon, have often strong, was futile, with respect to the been compared to those of Lord Veru- public, but to him glorious, as it closed lam ; a parallel has also been drawn be. his character in the same manner it had twixt the circumstances of their lives : been opened ; and as at the first, so both were Lord Chancellors, and both to the Jait hour of a long-extended were iinpeached by the Commons : fo public existence, exhibited him Iteady far the parallel may run; but their be- in his principles, disinterested in his haviour in adversity was certainly very pursuits, and ardent in his endeavours different. Conscious integrity fup. to discharge his duty to his country; ported the former ; while, according and in his age equally zealous as in to his own confeilion, conscious guilt his youth to devote his profesional depressed the latter : and although I talents, his rhetorical and literary abia should be loth to believe that all the lities, with the additional experience charges brought against him, or, con. of his life, to the benefit of mankind; sidering the state of his mind, even all and, long after that experience had those that he acknowledged, were
convinced him of the futility of worldly founded on fact, I think the placing pursuits, of the evanescent texture of them in the same point of view does worldly honours, to endeavour to direct not seem a trait of that judgment which the torrent from which he had fo forgenerally marked the eulogift of Lord tunately, escaped, lett, bursting its Sommers. His character wanted no foil; banks, it should overwhelm the counand therefore I do conceive it was try it had in former ages, fertilized. ungenerous to endeavour to add bril
" The genius, wit, and spirit, of nations are discovered by their proverbs."
ERROR is never so certain in its fatal authority. gives it that external appear
effects as when inculcated by nienance of truth, without which, in some of celebrity for talents or virtue. Their degree, it never becomes prevalent,
* We know, that under the head of New Year's Gift, every Chancellor, from, perhaps, Giffard t to Cowper, might have been inplicated in the charge of bribery; and though, certainly, in this point, no one will defend the character of a man who, with the most brilliant talents, poffefTed that exquitite, that morbid, lentibility, that would not suffer him to say a word in defence of himself ; yet when we bave observed 'what Envy, which, like an exaggerated and diftorted shade, follows, exalted genius, attempted in the case of Sommers, it would be charitable to conclude he more succeff. fully performed in the degradation and fall of Verulam. + William Giffard was Lord Chancellor in the reign of William the Conqueror.